BOOK REVIEW: Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker

fivewaystofallSometimes you can’t change—and sometimes you just don’t want to. 

Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

review

“She’s everything I never knew I wanted. She’s everything I never knew I could have.”

It is truly rare to find a series that delivers so consistently and at such a remarkable level one book after another, each story unique, gripping, unforgettable, a series that never stops getting better and better. So it came as no surprise to me that this last (fingers crossed that it is not!) book would become my personal favourite of the lot. Reese and Ben’s story had all the magic of its ‘predecessors’—a strong, independent female lead; a charming, irresistible hero who changes his bad-boy ways for the woman he cannot stay away from; a whirlwind romance with all the right ups and downs to make us hopelessly addicted and clinging onto every single word. But this story had something more for me, an added pinch of angst that made me wholeheartedly invested in these characters’ ultimate happy ending. There is so much bittersweet emotion driving this story forward, so much hidden self-deprecation in these characters, all under the guise of fearlessness and over-confidence. Mesmerised by all the beautiful layers of this story, and once more, by this author’s inimitable trademark humour and flawless prose, I was in book heaven cover to cover.

“I was smart. Some may say I’m still smart. But I’ve made so many wrong turns along the way, I don’t know how many right ones it will take to course-correct.”

Reese MacKay has been a thorn in her social-climbing mother’s sight ever since adolescence, her rebellious, reckless shenanigans landing her in hot water time after time, and so we meet her in the middle of her latest trouble, at a police station, arrested for destruction of private property, her only hope of getting herself out of this situation being to call a man who raised her, but whom she hadn’t seen for nine long years, ever since he divorced her mother. But her ‘get out of jail free card’ comes with conditions—to come to work for him as a paralegal and start sorting herself out, away from the pain of her past and all the reasons she acted out in the first place. Six months later, she is on the cusp of getting a fresh start in life by starting her new job, in a new city, living with and working for the only quasi-parent who has ever seen her true potential. But during her twenty-first birthday celebration in Mexico, her last act as a careless youth, she meets a cocky playboy whose wide grin and steely blue eyes become her undoing. Their connection is immediate, their attraction indisputable, and yet all she walks away with is the memory of one embarrassing night spent in his room hugging the toilet bowl, too drunk to do much else. Two months later, that same cocky guy walks into her office, and he does not waste a second reminding her of their one disastrous night together.

“… I’m trying to control the hyperbolic flashback that took weeks to suppress… as the walking, breathing proof of one of my most mortifying nights stands in my office.”

Ben Morris is the confident new lawyer hired by Reese’s stepfather. His good looks and flirty personality have made him a hit with the ladies, something he did not mind in the least while working nights as a strip club bouncer to pay for his law degree. But his obnoxious swagger is only a playful façade he enjoys teasing Reese with, riling her up having soon become his favourite past time.

“Have you always loved yourself this much?”
“I had an awkward year in ‘ninety-nine, but I got over it quick.”

As they play a delicious game of cat and mouse, their daily interactions quickly blur the lines that Reese is so adamant to preserve, especially when her cheating ex-husband enters the scene and she needs someone to be her fake boyfriend. One kiss is all it takes for them to re-ignite the spark between them, something that no friends-with-benefits agreement can suppress. The more they pretend to be in love and the more they try not to fall for one another, the more they can’t keep their hands off each other.

“Reese, well .  .  . she’s all angry and fire-breathing bitchy until her lips find you, and then you’re sure she must have a cocaine-laced tongue because you can’t get enough of her sweet mouth.”

Reese and Ben are polar opposites in so many ways. While Ben is like a ray of sunshine any minute of the day, having been raised by a mother who loved and supported his every decision, and nurtured his interests in life, Reece has never felt that kind of unconditional love from a parent. She craves for someone to make her come first in their life, for someone to finally choose her, love her, make her their priority. Everyone who ever counted the most has always let her down, made her feel rejected and thus naturally distrustful of people around her. Ben is the first person in her adult life who makes her feel wanted, appreciated, good about herself. His cheerfulness and protectiveness towards her ground her and make her blossom as a person. Reese, on the other hand, is the first woman in Ben’s life to make him want to believe in something he has always looked at with disdain—love.

“I think Ben has a strange power over me— the ability to balance my chaos. And, the more time I spend here on the grove— in his life— the more I think that his entire world seems to stabilize me.”

A truly beautiful, light-hearted and yet deeply emotional story of two people quieting each other’s demons and becoming one another’s anchors in life—this is one of those books that warms you from the inside out and draws you to re-read it whenever you need a story to make you feel happy. From two charismatic leading characters to one of the most colourful casts of secondary characters I have ever encountered, this is a tale that shows the true meaning of family bonds as much as it is a love story, all laced with a delightful undercurrent of humour and wit. I am besotted, I am in awe, and I cannot recommend this book, as well as the series as a whole, highly enough.

“… if you have to fight over a guy, he’s not worth it. Go for the one who’s waiting for you.”

5stars

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Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters)
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Ten Tiny BreathsMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
One Tiny LieMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Four Seconds to LoseMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Five Ways to FallAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
In Her Wake (novella): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA (1 Sep 2014)

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker

The fourth and final book in the Ten Tiny Breaths series, Five Ways to Fall, is due to be released on 24 June, and together with four other Blogs, I am part of the “Five Days Five Ways” Excerpt Reveal, where we get to release an awesome never-seen-before excerpt in instalments. Each day, a different Blog has a snippet of the excerpt and today, I have the great pleasure of revealing the final one!! I can’t wait for you all to fall in love with Ben!!!! And don’t forget to scroll down for the signed giveaway! ♥

KA Tucker_Excerpt Banner

Sometimes you can’t change—and sometimes you just don’t want to. 

Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

excerpt

He doesn’t get it. He must not have heard me. “This was different, Jack! She moved in! I haven’t even moved out yet! All my stuff is still in that apartment!”

He raises his hand to silence me. “You should have turned around and walked out. That would have been the mature, responsible thing to do. Instead, you let your emotions get the better of you.”

I smirk as another wave of familiarity washes over me. “You always said I was too emotional for my own good.”

“I did say that,” he acknowledges with a sad smile. “And I’m still right. No more, Reese.”

Picking at a loose thread on my sleeve as if the topic isn’t cutting into my heart, I offer casually, “Well, I can definitely promise that I won’t be getting married again. Ever.”

That earns a soft chuckle. “You and me both, kiddo.” A pause. “You remember Mason, don’t you?”

My geeky stepbrother who used to spend half his time scowling at me and the other half staring as if my head were about to revolve on my shoulders. I recall the day we moved out, he watched with a bitter smile, condemning me to follow in my mother’s footsteps.

He despised my mother from the very first day that he met her.

My pursed lips at the mention of that name has Jack smiling. “Oh, yes. How could I forget. Your nemesis. Well, he’s finishing law school this spring.” Jack takes a deep breath and then holds it, as if he’s hesitating. “Why don’t you come and live with us until you get back on your feet.”

What?

Jack continues, not addressing the bewilderment that must be plastered over my face. “I can get you into the paralegal program at Miami U. If you finish that, you can work for me. It doesn’t have to be forever but at least you’ll have something solid to put on a resume. It’s a fresh start.”

“I… uh… ” Did I just hear all that correctly?

His eyes drift over my hair again. “You should think about a more natural color for an office environment and…”  His focus settles down to the tiny diamond-encrusted septum ring in my nose and he cringes. “Maybe a few less piercings.”

But… My tongue has somehow coiled itself into a useless ball inside my mouth as my mind grapples with this offer. It’s far from what I had expected. “Why are you doing this, Jack? I mean, it’s great and all but…why?” He really doesn’t owe me anything. It’s enough that he came all the way out here to bail me out.

“Because I shouldn’t have turned my back on you, Reese. I let—” A flash of pain betrays his otherwise calm demeanor. “Let’s just say I’m making amends.” He pauses. “What do you say? I need to get out of this town. I can feel Annabelle’s shadow looming.” He shivers for effect, making me snort.

“Well…” My fingers rap across the table as I give my current situation—that of a police station room—another once over. I have no job, no home, a shattered heart, and a pending criminal record. I should probably make the first smart choice I’ve made in a long time. But… “Not sure the cops will let that happen, Jack.”

“You leave that with me.”

Another pause. “I’m riding my bike down.”

His mouth twists with displeasure. “I assume you’re not referring to one with pedals.”

“No pedals,” I confirm with a small smile. I got my motorcycle license when I turned eighteen and bought a bike a few months later. Another element of my “bad ass” self that Jared loves.

Loved.

Jack heaves a sigh. “That shouldn’t surprise me. You always did threaten your mother with getting one. Anything else I should know?”

“I’m a slob,” I warn him. “And a certifiable bitch in the morning.”

“Well, I guess some things just don’t change, after all.” Reaching up to give his neck a slow scratch, he mumbles, “Mason will be thrilled.”

To read the rest of this excerpt, check the following Blogs:

19 June – Autumn Review
20 June – Vilma’s Book Blog
21 June – Aestas Book Blog
22 June – Three Chicks and Their Books
23 June – Natasha is a Book Junkie

Still want more? Well, you can find another teaser here

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Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters)
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Ten Tiny BreathsMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
One Tiny LieMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Four Seconds to LoseMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Five Ways to FallAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
In Her Wake (novella): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA (1 Sep 2014)

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The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
The Giveaway

To win a signed paperback copy of Five Ways to Fall, please enter below. By entering, you are accepting the following Giveaway Conditions. This contest is open internationally.

Enter giveaway here…

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EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker

FSTL_Excerpt

Ten Tiny Breaths and One Tiny Lie are two of My Favourite Books ever, but Four Seconds to Lose was my top pick in the series. Significantly edgier than its prequels, this book changed the tone of the series by stepping out of its ‘vanilla’ comfort zone and delving into darker sides of human nature. To celebrate the paperback release on 1 April, I have the great pleasure of sharing with you an excerpt from Four Seconds to Lose and a signed giveaway… ♥

Read my 5-star review

Owning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine year old Cain is starting to second guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with the staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control… and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that.

Twenty-two-year old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her doesn’t need to complicate her life with romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.

excerpt

Cain

“What do you mean you can’t deliver until after the weekend?” Despite every effort to keep my cool, my tone is biting.

“Sir, I’m sorry. As I’ve already explained, we’re experiencing labor shortages. We’re working as fast as we can to cover orders. We’re sorry for the inconvenience,” the customer service rep recites evenly, sounding like she has said it a hundred times today. Because I’m sure she has.

Pinching the bridge of my nose to dull the sudden headache forming, I fight the urge to slam the receiver against the desk. This conversation is a complete waste of time. It’s the same one I’ve had every day for two weeks. “Tell your management that ‘inconvenient’ isn’t the right word.” I hang up before she has a chance to spew the prewritten response for that.

With a groan, I lean back in my leather chair and fold my arms behind my head. I survey the walls of my office—lined floor-to-ceiling with shelves, doubling as supply room overflow. Five weeks of abnormally busy nights at Penny’s coupled with sporadic beer deliveries means I’m out of our top brands for the coming weekend. That means I’ll have to spend yet another Saturday night explaining to customers why being out of Heineken doesn’t entitle them to a free lap dance.

I hate this business, some days.

Lately, I hate this business all days.

Cracking open a fresh bottle of high-end Rémy Martin, I pour the deep golden liquid into my tumbler. It’s my vice—a glass before the club opens to take the edge off and one to close the place down. Unfortunately, the edge doesn’t come off so easily anymore and I find myself topping up the glass a lot. It’s a good thing our hours are limited or I’d have a drinking problem. At two hundred bucks a bottle, I’d also have a money problem.

My office door cracks open just as the comforting burn slides down my throat.

“Cain?” Nate’s deep voice rumbles a second before his six-foot-six, 280-pound frame eases through the doorway. I’m still in awe of how that twiggy little kid turned into the giant now standing before me, almost overnight, too. It shouldn’t surprise me, though, given that I was the one footing the steep grocery bill through his teenage growth spurts.  “Just got a text from Cherry. She’s sick.”

“She texted you?”

He nods slowly, his dark eyes never leaving mine.

“That’s the third time she’s called in sick in two weeks.”

“Yup,” he agrees, and I know his thoughts are on the same wavelength as mine. No one knows me better than Nate. In fact, no one really knows me but Nate.

Cherry has worked for me for three and a half years. She has the immune system of a shark. The last time she started missing shifts because she was “sick,” we found her battered and strung out on blow, thanks to her douchebag boyfriend.

“Do you think he’s back?”

I shove my fingers through my hair, gritting my teeth with rising frustration. “He’d be the world’s biggest moron if he is, after what happened the last time.” Nate put him in the hospital with a broken femur and two dislocated shoulders as a warning. I have to think that was an effective deterrent.

“Unless Cherry invited him over.”

I roll my eyes. She’s a good girl with low self-esteem and terrible taste in men. Though I’d be surprised, I wouldn’t put it past her. I’ve seen it happen before. Many times.

“I think I’ll just swing by her place to make sure this isn’t something more than a bug or chick issues.” Nate grabs his keys from the rack.

With a sigh, I grumble, “Thanks Nate.” We’ve helped her stay clean and idiot-boyfriend free for a year. The last thing I want to see is a repeat. “And, here.” I pull a twenty-dollar bill out of my wallet and toss it across my desk. “Her kid loves Big Macs.”

Nate scowls at my money, leaving it where it lays. I should know better. “And if he’s there?”

“If he’s back in the picture…” I run my tongue over my teeth. “Don’t do anything yet. Call me. Immediately.”

With a lazy salute, Nate exits my office, leaving me with my elbows on my desk and my folded hands against my clenched mouth, wondering what I’m going to do if Cherry has taken a turn for the worse. I can’t fire her. Not when she needs our help. But… f*ck. If we have to go through this with her again

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Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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Ten Tiny Breaths: My review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks | Paperback
One Tiny LieMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks | Paperback
Four Seconds to LoseMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks | Paperback
Five Ways to FallAmazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks | Paperback (24 Jun 2014)

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The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
✤ ✤ ✤
The Giveaway

To win a signed paperback copy of Four Seconds to Lose, please enter below. By entering, you are accepting the following Giveaway Conditions. This contest is open internationally.

Enter giveaway here…

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BIRTHDAY TEASERS: Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker

KA Tucker_BT 2014 Banner

There are some authors who consistently keep giving us flawless stories that touch our hearts every single time and I truly believe that K.A. Tucker couldn’t write a bad book even if she tried! Today, we continue the Birthday Teasers celebrations with the fourth and final instalment in the Ten Tiny Breaths series, due to be released on 24 June 2014. I am so very excited to share with you an excerpt from Five Ways to Fall… ♥

Sometimes you can’t change—and sometimes you just don’t want to. Discover Ben’s side of the story in this fourth novel by the beloved, top-selling indie author of Ten Tiny BreathsOne Tiny Lie, and Four Seconds to Lose.

Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

excerpt

Chapter 2

Ben

I love the angry ones.

Of course, anyone who knows me would argue that I love any and all women, and I can’t exactly disagree. But I love the angry ones the most. They’re a challenge to be conquered, the reason for their fury usually fitting neatly into three buckets: insecure, scorned, hormonal.

And this purple-haired chick gazing up at me with fire in her caramel eyes?

I’m betting on bucket number two.

“My, what an awfully bright red shirt you have on,” she pushes out between gritted teeth, as if she’s trying to be polite but can’t hide her disdain.

I didn’t know what I was walking into when the punk-rock chick with the crazy-ass muscular body waved us over, but her friend with the purple hair and her back to me had me intrigued. Now that I’m getting a good look at her face, I know who I’m spending my last night with in Cancún. She’s not what some would call traditionally “pretty.” Her eyes are slightly too big and far apart, her nose is slightly too long and slender, and her lips—though nice and wide—are on the thin side. Yet something about all of that put together makes her sexy as hell. Maybe it’s the little nose ring. Or maybe it’s the way her decent-sized tits are pressing up against me, her low V-neck tank top—a casual shirt, telling me she’s not trying to pick anyone up—giving me a fine view of her cleavage. Whatever it is, my dick is certainly pleased. “You like it?” I ask.

An irritated glare flickers to the material. “No.”

I can’t help but chuckle at her candor. “Will you at least give me a head start before you gore me?”

Those thin lip curls into a condescending smirk. “Bulls don’t see color. That’s a myth.”

The only thing I love more than an angry girl is a smart, angry girl.

This is going to be fun.

“Well, how about I solve the problem for you.” I take a step back from her and swiftly yank my shirt off, exposing six days of suntanned skin and an upper body that I know looks damn appealing because I work my ass off to keep it that way. The random catcalls from the tables around confirm it.

And then I simply stand there and grin like the cocky ass that I am as Angry Girl can’t keep her eyes from scanning the muscles I’ve honed since my college football days, her lips parting ever so subtly. I see the shift in her, the moment where she realizes that, though she’d prefer to castrate the entire male species right now, she can’t ignore her attraction to me.

At least, that’s what I want to see.

“Sir. Excuse me, sir.” A glance over my shoulder finds Angelo, the short Mexican waiter who’s been serving us all week, standing there with a tray of beers for my friends and me. We didn’t even have to ask. Hell, I love Cancún. I could live here forever.

“Angelo! Why the f*ck are you calling me ‘sir’?”

“Uh . . .” He licks his lips as his eyes dart to the tile floor. “Please. Management requests that you wear proper attire in the lounge area. Please.”

“No worries, pal.”  Poor Angelo is probably ready to shit his pants, as afraid as he is to offend me, the guy who has lined his pockets with a month’s worth of rent in tips. Snagging a beer off his tray, I take my time sucking back a few mouthfuls, feeling Angry Girl’s eyes riveted to my throat.

Yeah, I’ve got this one in the bag.

With an easy smile, I place the bottle down on the table and pull the shirt back over my head. “Though you may have to deal with Angry Girl in front of me, now. She hates my shirt.”

Angelo casts a polite smile her way as he hands out beers to my friends, and I know exactly what he’s thinking. He’s seen me walk out of here with a few different women this week.

What else can I say but . . . I’m on vacation.

I was planning on just hanging low tonight, going to bed solo. Now, though, getting this purple-haired chick naked sounds like more fun.

“Angry Girl will try to restrain herself, Angelo,” she purrs, draining the last of her drink and placing it on his tray before scooping up a fresh one. She still has a full one sitting on the table, too. “But only if you come back with another one of these in under five minutes. Otherwise, there’s no telling what she’ll do.” Narrowed eyes glimmer with secret amusement.

Sí, señorita.”

I smoothly tuck a twenty into his shirt pocket and pat his shoulder. “For causing you any trouble with management.” Angelo nods and quickly heads off as I stick my hand out. “I’m Ben. And you are . . .”

Angry Girl accepts it, the skin of her hand soft and cool within mine. “Jill.” Thumbing to her left, she adds, “Sabrina. And that’s Kelly over there. She’s Korean.”

What? My brow furrows as I regard the cute girl-next-door blond sitting across from us, trying to make sense of that strange introduction. A skillful distraction, it would seem, because it gives Jill a chance to slither into her seat, her back to me once again. She props her feet up to rest on the only vacant chair at the table, her long, shapely legs all the more visible thanks to the tiny shorts she’s wearing.

“Travis, Kent, Murdock,” I toss out with a lazy gesture toward the guys, three of my roommates from Miami. They can take care of themselves. I’m on a mission. I waste no time seizing an empty lounge chair from the table next to us. Flashing a big smile at the cougar eyeing me, a redhead who is definitely hot enough to f*ck should this thing with Jill go sideways, I swing the chair around and take a seat so close that my knee—the one that cost me a guaranteed NFL career and still throbs in damp weather—rests against Jill’s bare leg. She doesn’t shift away. “First night in Cancún?”

One of her perfectly shaped brows arches. “You’re persistent.”

“A persistent fool,” I correct her with a grin, earning the non-Korean girl’s laughter. “First night in Cancún?” I repeat.

“How can you tell?”

Finally. An open door for a conversation. I jump through it like a circus dog. “Because you’re way too tense, you’re downing those drinks like you’re on a mission to wake up naked on the beach, and you have no tan lines.”

“Huh . . .” She ponders that for a moment while I inhale her perfume. She smells like strawberries and cream. I wonder if she tastes like strawberries and cream. “What are you, a detective?”

“Bouncer at a strip club.”

Her head falls back and she starts laughing, a deep, throaty laugh that I want to record and play back again at a later date. “Of course you are.”

I shrug. “It pays the bills.” I could kill whatever assumptions she’s making about me by telling her why I’m really here in Cancún: to celebrate finishing law school and taking the bar exam.

But I don’t.

I simply watch her tongue curl around the salty rim of her glass. Dirty thoughts flash through my head and I’m forced to discreetly adjust myself. If she notices, she doesn’t comment. Hell, she probably knows exactly what she’s doing to me. There are no innocent vibes coming off this chick.

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Pre-order book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks
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Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters)
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Ten Tiny BreathsMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
One Tiny LieMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Four Seconds to LoseMy review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback
Five Ways to FallAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAPaperback (24 Jun 2014)
In Her Wake (novella): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA (1 Sep 2014)

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The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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✦ Don’t want to miss any more posts? Subscribe to this Blog by email… ✦

Other books in the series or related posts:

COVER REVEAL: Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker

You’ve been collecting all the puzzle pieces of the cover and now you finally get to see it in all its glory!!! This is the fourth and final instalment in the Ten Tiny Breaths series by an author who couldn’t write a bad book if she tried, and I am so very excited to show you the cover of Ben’s book – Five Ways to Fall… ♥

Expected release date: 24 June 2014

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Sometimes you can’t change—and sometimes you just don’t want to. Discover Ben’s side of the story in this fourth novel by the beloved, top-selling indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths, One Tiny Lie, and Four Seconds to Lose.

Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

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Pre-order book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks (24 Jun 2014)
✤ ✤ ✤
Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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onetinylie_322x500
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fivewaystofall
Ten Tiny Breaths: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
One Tiny Lie: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
Four Seconds to Lose: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
Five Ways to Fall: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&NiBooks (24 Jun 2014)
✤ ✤ ✤
The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Other books in the series or related posts:

COVER PUZZLE: Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker

Here comes the last puzzle piece of the cover!!! I hope that you’ve been following the other puzzle pieces over the past six days because tomorrow you get to see it in all its glory at www.katuckerbooks.com and on this Blog! So, without further ado, here is the final cover puzzle piece of Five Ways to Fall… and don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see the whole thing! ♥

Expected release date: 24 June 2014

fivewaystofall_puzzle

Sometimes you can’t change—and sometimes you just don’t want to. Discover Ben’s side of the story in this fourth novel by the beloved, top-selling indie author of Ten Tiny BreathsOne Tiny Lie, and Four Seconds to Lose.

Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

addtogoodreads

Pre-order book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks (24 Jun 2014)
✤ ✤ ✤
Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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onetinylie_322x500
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Ten Tiny Breaths: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
One Tiny Lie: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
Four Seconds to Lose: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
Five Ways to Fall: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&NiBooks (24 Jun 2014)
✤ ✤ ✤
The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Other books in the series or related posts:

GIVEAWAY: One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

After the spectacular Ten Tiny Breaths, came Livie’s story in One Tiny Lie – a book that owns you from the very first page, makes you fall in love with every single character in the story, a book that showed us once more what an exceptional writer Ms Tucker truly is. And today this amazing story comes out in paperback!!! ♥

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Ten Tiny Breaths: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Paperback
One Tiny Lie: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Paperback
Four Seconds to Lose: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UKPaperback
Five Ways to Fall: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Paperback (10 Feb 2014)

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To celebrate the paperback release, Simon & Schuster US is giving one lucky book junkie a signed copy of One Tiny Lie!!!!

You have 3 DAYS to play…
One Tiny Lie_GWY
* 1 SIGNED PAPERBACK OF ONE TINY LIE *
* 1 WINNER *
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By entering, you are accepting the following Giveaway Conditions. This contest is open internationally.

Enter giveaway here…

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Other books in the series or related posts:

BOOK REVIEW: Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker

foursecondstoloseOwning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine year old Cain is starting to second guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with the staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control… and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that.

Twenty-two-year old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her doesn’t need to complicate her life with romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.

review

“…the depths to which a woman could fall for Cain are endless. To a deep, dark, infinite pit with no ladders to get away, no cushions to soften the impact. No safety net. No escape.”

There is nothing more delicious to me than a book that is so addictive that even when dawn is on the horizon and I haven’t slept a wink, I’m still unable to put it down. Equally emotional but significantly edgier than its prequels, Four Seconds to Lose changes the tone of the series by stepping out of its ‘vanilla’ comfort zone and delving into darker sides of human nature. While the previous two instalments in the series, Ten Tiny Breaths and One Tiny Lie, are all-time favourites of mine, I must admit that this book is now my top pick of the lot.

As the owner of a popular strip club and a former underground fighting champion, Cain Ford could have easily adopted a seedy lifestyle as many others in that industry have, but Cain is no stereotype. He has fought all his life to escape his past and gain independence by becoming his own boss, his club now giving a chance to women who choose stripping as a way of making ends meet to do it safely and without being exploited. His professional life constantly dangling on the precipice of morality, Cain’s chosen line of work is a source of both comfort as well as torment for him.

“All I see are girls who need a second chance. Girls who need someone to protect them because no one ever has.”

Charlie is no stereotypical heroine either. The stepchild of an organised crime boss, her relatively happy childhood came to an end when her now only parent decided to taint her innocence by coercing her into participating in his drug trafficking transactions. When suddenly forced to leave her real identity behind and adopt a new one in a brand new city, Charlie starts slowly planning her escape from being under her stepfather’s thumb. Her young age and lack of work experience leave her very few profitable employment options, stripping being on top of an already very limited list. When she steps into Cain’s club, the last thing she expects is a protective boss who treats her with respect and colleagues who immediately want to befriend her.

“I’m living a life where safety is a luxury, where the only family I have risks my well-being without thinking twice. Yet it took this man – a stranger – mere seconds to decide that he would protect me.”

But from the moment Cain lays eyes on Charlie, she manages to shake all his resolves and make him act out of character. He watches her shows night after night, the two of them playing an open flirting game that only leaves them even more conflicted and aching for one another. Both having valid reasons for staying away from each other, they fight the attraction as stubbornly as they can, but when two lonely souls find each other and each stolen moment, each furtive touch becomes a moment of indescribable happiness, eventually their bodies cannot but succumb to the pull as well. As Charlie’s real life starts looming more and more over her new made-up one with Cain, staying together becomes the only risk she cannot take.

“I’ll take one night with him, with whatever he’s willing to give me, to earn myself memories that I can hold on to.”

This was a truly exceptional story of putting one’s past behind and seizing the moment that could change your entire life. It’s a story that explores morality’s many different shades of grey, it shows that no man is a saint and that one should be judged by what is in their heart, not by what they had to do in order to survive. In so many ways, this is also a story of redemption, of forgiving others for their mistakes, as well as forgiving oneself.

“I don’t care what you’ve done, Charlie… Your slate is clean with me.”

I loved every part of this book – I loved Ms Tucker’s sophisticated and truly engaging way of storytelling, I loved the chemistry and emotional connection between the main characters, I loved all the secondary characters, old and new, and the way their humorous contributions ‘lightened’ the storyline, I loved that I could not and would not put this book down even for a minute, real life be damned. The only slight weakness that I felt in the story were the ‘fade to black’ moments during a few potentially sizzling scenes between Cain and Charlie. I did not expect explicit details, but I felt that further attention to those scenes would have only communicated even more the overwhelming attraction between these characters. I felt that this story would have allowed it, it would have made sense to push those boundaries a step further, and it would have been ‘truer’ to the edgier nature of the storyline. But, my smutty brain put aside, this is a stellar must read, no other way to put it.

“I’m hanging from a pendulum as it swings back and forth between a nightmare and a dream. Only the nightmare is real!”

5stars

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks (coming 4 Nov 2013)
✤ ✤ ✤
Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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onetinylie_322x500
foursecondstolose
Ten Tiny Breaths: Amazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
One Tiny Lie: Amazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
Four Seconds to Lose: Amazon US | Amazon UKB&N | iBooks
Five Ways to Fall: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&NiBooks (10 Feb 2014)
✤ ✤ ✤
The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
The Giveaway

To win a signed paperback set of Ten Tiny Breaths, One Tiny Lie and a Four Seconds to Lose galley, please enter below. This contest is administered by InkSlinger PR and it is open internationally.

Enter giveaway here…

Other books in the series or related posts:

GIVEAWAY & BONUS SCENE: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

TenTinyBreaths_squareOne of the most amazing books I have ever read, Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker, was finally released in paperback just a few days ago and to mark this exciting occasion, Atria Books is celebrating with “Ten Days of Ten Tiny Breaths” – ten blogs, ten signed paperback giveaways, one incredible book! But, I’m adding an extra little treat to this – I’m re-posting a very special bonus scene that Kathleen wrote exclusively for Natasha is a Book Junkie back in February. It might not be new, but if you haven’t read it, make sure you don’t miss the “snake scene”, this time told from Trent’s POV. It. is. delicious!!!! So, enjoy the bonus scene and don’t forget to scroll all the way down to enter the giveaway!  ♥

❖ My Review of Ten Tiny Breaths
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tentinybreaths2_322x500Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart—even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.

excerpt

I’m working on a magazine layout when I hear her screams. I know it’s Kacey right away. I’ve heard her screams too many times not to recognize them. Sometimes I lay awake at night, waiting for them. Waiting to hear how seriously I’ve f*cked her life up. The paper-thin walls in this apartment are great for that.

These screams … they sound different. High-pitched, petrified. Somehow dangerous.

My body reacts instantly. In seconds I’m flying out of my apartment and landing in front of hers, adrenaline firing on all cylinders. My hand tests the doorknob. It’s locked. I don’t hesitate. Not for a second. Taking three steps back, I run forward, throwing all of my weight and my apprehension against the door. The wood, the frame – everything – splinters as I plow through it and tumble into her apartment.

I don’t know what to expect on the other side. A psycho with a gun to Kacey’s head? Her sister crumpled on the bathroom floor with her wrists slit? I have no fucking clue what I’m heading into, what could possibly set Kacey off like this and keep her screaming.

The first thing I see is a small child sitting alone on the couch with hands folded in her lap. Her eyes are wide and her bottom lip wobbles as she takes me in but she doesn’t make a sound. There’s nothing amiss in the main area. Except for the idiot who just barreled through the front door.

“It’s okay,” I say as I rush past her to the hall leading to the bathroom and bedrooms. And the screams.

I find Kacey’s sister standing in front of a closed door, rattling the handle furiously with both hands, tears streaming down her cheeks. She seems completely oblivious to my explosive entrance, so focused on getting to Kacey.

I don’t bother saying anything to her. There’s no time for that. I simply grab her shoulders and pull her out of the way. I’m a bit rough and I know it but I can’t help myself. Right now I need to get through this door and find out what the hell is happening to my girl so I can breathe again.

I’m through this door in a split second to find myself in a cramped, steam-filled bathroom, facing a translucent shower curtain and a silhouette on the other side. And Kacey’s still screaming.

I suck in air.

F*ck.

A tiny part of me feels wrong about what I’m about to do. Not the part that is about to yank back the curtain and wrap her in my arms – to protect her, to make her safe. It’s the part that knows Kacey is naked and that I can’t avoid catching at least a glimpse of her. Or that I don’t want to avoid catching at least a glimpse of her. Because I’m a total douche bag and I’ve had so many wet dreams involving a naked Kacey that I should be committed for a sexual addiction.

F*ck.

Inhaling deeply, I grab a towel with one hand and tug the curtain back with the other.

Kacey doesn’t even flinch. She’s too busy screaming to notice or care that I’m standing next to her in the shower. I could probably stand here and stare at her perfect body all damn day.

Thankfully, that desire vanishes the second I see her cowering against the wall, her arms pulled tightly against her chest, her body shaking like a frightened animal. Seeing her like this rips my heart out.

I step one foot into the tub to wrap an arm around Kacey’s slick back while at the same time draping the towel over her front. Her body is soaked and rigid but she still folds into me in response, her face pressing into my chest. I bend to slide my other arm under her knees and I scoop her up.

And – thank God – the screaming stops.

As I’m carrying her out of the shower, my eyes quickly scan the area, looking for some trigger for all this. Something that made her scream like Freddy Krueger and Hannibal Lector were tag-teaming her. But I see nothing. Nothing except for … a red-and-black-striped body coiled around the showerhead.

A snake. Huh.

A snake in your shower definitely would be a surprise but it’s so small. There’s no way that’s what caused this

She confirms it seconds later with a rambling rant into my chest. “I hate snakes. I hate snakes. F*ck! I hate snakes!”

I carry her past a pale-faced Livie and into a bedroom, all the while fighting to keep the smile from spreading across my face because I know I’ll look like a dick if she sees it. It’s not that I find this funny but … now that the drama is over and she’s safe, anyone would have to admit she overreacted, just a bit.

Sure, I’m still going to beat the sh*t out of that scrawny man in 2B because I just put two and two together and this snake has to be the one he was searching the bushes for this morning. Then again, maybe I should shake the f*cker’s hand. Thanks to him, I’ve got a soaking wet, naked Kacey cradled in my arms. In a bedroom.

And now I’m back to being a douche bag.

I haven’t let go of her yet. I don’t want to. Her small, muscular body fits perfectly in my arms, pressed against me. I wish that time would just stop right now so I could hold her like this forever. But I know it won’t. I know that any second she’s going to get over the snake. When that happens, there’s a chance she’ll smash my nuts for storming into the bathroom like a meth head. Until then, I’ll close my eyes and smooth my hand over her soapy hair and enjoy this rare opportunity to be close to her.

She finally starts to shift, her head lifting from the comfortable crook against my collarbone. I glance down to meet her watery blue eyes. By the shocked look in them, she is only noticing me now. I can’t read anything else in them. Is she mad? Embarrassed? I’m pretty sure she’s attracted to me. I laid it on thick in the laundry room and she didn’t dropkick me then. Given the circumstances now though, there’s a chance she’ll make up for that. She’s got one hell of a temper.

Still, I keep a firm grip of her – my one arm around her back, my other one under her knees – and I plead forgiveness with my eyes. I watch hers flicker down at her towel for just a second before moving back to my face. She’s got to be cluing in to her current predicament. And I still can’t read her. F*ck, I wish I knew what was going on inside that brain of hers.

Livie chooses this moment to storm in and scream at me. “Who do you think you are, barging in here?”

I force my eyes away from Kacey to look at her little sister. Her face is as red as Kacey’s hair. She’s normally a sweet kid but by the way her body sways and her hands flex at her sides, I think she might lunge at me. I may have both Cleary sisters beating the hell out of me in a second.

Still … this was worth it.

“Trent. This is Trent,” I hear Kacey mumble in my ear. Her breath tickles my skin and I instantly react. Awesome. She’s sitting on my lap. There’s no way she won’t feel that. She still may try to snap my dick in half.

Thankfully, Kacey doesn’t seem to notice, still hung up on that snake. “It’s okay, Livie. There’s … there’s a rattlesnake in the shower.”

I bite back a laugh. The thing can’t be more than a foot long and there’s nothing about it that says “rattler.” I don’t say anything though. I keep quiet while Kacey continues.

“Get Mia out of here before it eats her. And get Tanner here. Now Livie!”

Livie’s eyes flicker between her sister and me, grazing the bed that we’re sitting on briefly. No doubt she thinks I’m some asshole that’s going to try something on her sister. She also knows her sister could probably cripple me. Maybe that’s what convinces her to finally leave, pulling the door shut behind her.

I tighten my grasp of Kacey, afraid she’s going to escape from my lap any second. “You okay?”

“I’m fantastic. Aside from almost dying,” she mutters.

I lean forward, about to press my lips to her cheek. But I catch myself and hold back, inches away from her. “I heard you screaming from next door. I thought someone was killing you.”

“Not someone. Something! Did you see it?” Now she turns animated, one of her arms flying out as she points back toward the bathroom. Her other hand fumbles to pull the top of her towel back up but not before I catch a glimpse of a pink, erect nipple.

Dammit.  I swallow as I feel another stir. She’s talking about dying and my dick is digging into her leg. Fan-f*cking-tastic. I can’t wait until she tells the blonde next door that part of the story.

I can’t even distract my arousal with thoughts of clowns and dead animals right now. Kacey’s too close and too naked for any sort of diversion. So I try to focus on her face instead, on the way her brow furrows as she exclaims, “I was two seconds away from being eaten alive!”

She’s so sexy when she’s serious … “I think that’s Lenny 2B’s pet snake,” I explain with a chuckle. “I saw a little bald man checking the bushes in the commons this morning, calling its name.”

Kacey’s body goes rigid and she sits up, her eyes wide with alarm as she stares at me. “Pet? That man eater is someone’s pet? Isn’t there a law against owning rattlers?”

My eyes roam over her perfect features – big, beautiful blue eyes, a narrow nose. And those lips. I settle on those for a long moment. Part of me doesn’t ever want to correct her. She can believe there’s an anaconda swallowing an entire cow in her bathroom for all I care because, if she’s busy talking about that, then she’s not pulling away from me. But I also want her to feel safe, right here in my arms. That’s what makes me fess up. “It’s a milk snake. From what I know, the only thing it’s going to eat is a mouse.” My heart is pounding against my chest, like it does every time she’s near me. I lift my hand and let my fingers graze the underside of her chin. “No one’s going to hurt you, Kacey.”

Her jaw clenches in response and I think that I’ve pushed it too far. I prepare myself for the inevitable. She’s going to slap my hand away and then she’s going to throw me out of this room and -

Kacey’s mouth slams into mine.

At first, I’m not sure that it’s happening. I think I might be imagining it. But no … there’s no way I’m imagining this. It’s a million times better than anything I’ve ever dreamed up. Her lips are so soft and yet so forceful that I don’t know how to respond. I can’t even breathe.

Not for a second, anyway. Then I remember how much I’ve wanted to kiss Kacey since the moment I saw her two years ago and all of my restraint vanishes. Suddenly I can’t keep my hands off her body. I can’t get close enough to her. I can’t kiss her hard enough. This is all so wrong and I don’t give a f*ck. I let my tongue slide into her mouth and my hands roam all of her perfect ridges and curves, settling around her pelvis as I position her on the bed. I’m as out of control as a kid with a bucket of candy and a time limit and all the while, I can’t believe she’s letting me do it. All of it.

I’m keenly aware that Kacey’s towel now sits on the floor in a heap and that her thighs clench against my hips. It’s taking every ounce of my willpower not to tear my jeans off and take full advantage of the situation.

This has already gone too far.

I wrench myself away from her mouth. “This isn’t why I pulled you out of the shower,” I say. I have to say it. Even though it’s true, right now I don’t mean it. Right now, all I want to do is feel all of her. But I can’t do that. And so I wait, watching for her reaction. She’s so damn hard to read most of the time.

“No, but it’s worked out rather well for you, hasn’t it?” she finally says, her voice turning husky, her eyes darkening with desire.

I chuckle. I can’t get enough of her wry sense of humor. It makes me smile, it makes my heart swell, it makes my dick twitch, it makes me want to do all kinds of things to her.

And it makes me feel like a douche bag again because I know that, as much as her sense of humor is a part of her, it’s also her defense mechanism. I put that defense mechanism there. I made her the way she is now. Friendless. Detached.

My heart sinks as I slide my index finger along her sexy long neck. “Isn’t it exhausting?” I whisper before I can stop myself.

“What?”

I hesitate; afraid I’m crossing an invisible boundary with her. “Keeping people out.”

“I’m not.” The denial flies out of her mouth so fast I almost miss it. I don’t miss the flicker of amazement in her eyes though. I wonder what’s behind that. Is she surprised by her response? Or is she shocked that others can see through her? I’ll never know. In the next instant, her veil of disinterest drops down, hiding everything. “I don’t want this. I don’t want you.”

Her words are like a simultaneous punch to my stomach and stab to my heart. And yet I know they’re not true. I won’t give her the chance to believe them. So I crash into her mouth, tangling my tongue in hers, pressing myself hard against the apex of her thighs, stealing one more moment of intimacy. And she responds, with her mouth, with her body. I know I’m right. She does want this. She just doesn’t want to admit it.

Maybe it’s for my ego or for further validation, or because I’m going to need a long, cold shower after this, but I break away and whisper, “You don’t want this, Kacey?”

“No …” Her lips trail against my neck, teasing me.

It’s the contradiction of the century and I’m two seconds from exploding in my pants.

Until I feel her body start to shake and I realize that she’s laughing.

Dammit.

She doesn’t even need to say anything and I know that the moment is gone. It was inevitable. I’m surprised she let herself go this far.

“Get out,” she snaps.

I sigh with a mixture of reluctance and acceptance. Laying three light kisses against her jawline, I whisper, “Okay, Kacey.” I pull myself off my dream girl with a heavy sigh.

My dream girl, stretched out naked on a bed.

I doubt I’ll ever have a moment with her like this again. Maybe that’s why I do it. I let my eyes slowly rake over her body, taking in her perfect round breasts, her sculpted torso, the tightness of her abdomen … everything about her. Slow enough that she can’t possibly miss me doing it.

I’m a f*cking asshole.

If I don’t get out of here right now, I’m going to drop to my knees and beg her to let me stay. Every muscle in my body is stiff as I walk toward the door. Time to face reality. “I’ll take the heat for the doors from Tanner,” I say. I’m not sure that I won’t get evicted, as good as my reasons may have been.

“Doors?” Kacey asks and I catch a hint of something like reverence in her voice. It makes me smile. Yeah, that’s right. I busted two doors down to rescue you, damsel in distress. Maybe that will earn me a few points with her down the road. Maybe.

Gritting my teeth, I resist the urge to turn and use my answer as an excuse to ogle her again. “Yeah. Your front door and the bathroom door. If he’s going to boot someone out, I’ll make sure it’s me.” I open the bedroom door and walk out, reminding myself to buy 2B a bottle of Jack after I smack him around.

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Ten Tiny Breaths – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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The Giveaway

To win a signed copy of Ten Tiny Breaths, compliments of Atria Books, please enter below. This contest is administered by InkSlinger PR and it is open internationally.

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The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Other books in the series or related posts:

COVER REVEAL: Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker

The wonderful Ten Tiny Breaths series keeps growing and today I have the great honour of showing you the cover of the third book in the series, Four Seconds to Lose. Do you remember Cain, the warm-hearted owner of the strip club where Kacey used to work? Well, this is his story. If either of the two prequels, Ten Tiny Breaths or One Tiny Lie, are any indication of things to come, we know that this is going to be one emotional ride we won’t be able to put down. Cannot. Wait!!!!

And as the series was picked up by Atria Books shortly after the first book was published, the new paperback of Ten Tiny Breaths is finally around the corner. Scroll down for more details…

Expected release date: 4 November 2013

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Owning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine year old Cain is starting to second guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with the staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control… and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that.

Twenty-two-year old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her doesn’t need to complicate her life with romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.

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The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Other books in the series or related posts:

One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

onetinylie_322x500Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents’ tragic death and Kacey’s self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would…and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t want in a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.

review

“How do you figure out the right way to live your life?”

One of my favourite books of 2012 was the beautifully written Ten Tiny Breaths, a novel whose story changed me and made me re-examine my own life. Its beautiful lesson of forgiveness and letting go of the emotional shackles of anger touched me so deeply that I have been anxiously awaiting its sequel ever since. While Ten Tiny Breaths was Kacey’s story, in this book we finally get to properly meet Livie, the younger sister, who captured our hearts already with her kindness and strength. This is a book that will own you from the very first page, make you fall in love with every single character in this story and show you once more what an exceptional writer Ms Tucker truly is.

The story resumes three years after the events of the previous book. Livie is now eighteen and on her way to an Ivy League college. This is the first time she is going to live alone, without her sister, and while scared and apprehensive of the novelty of this, Livie has always known what her professional future would bring as she made those plans with her late father when she was still a child, and she is now willing to do anything to make her father’s dreams for her come true. But Livie’s constant drive for perfection disguises a deeply rooted ignorance of her own wishes and desires – she’s followed someone else’s dreams for so long, she never actually questioned them or asked herself what her heart really wanted out of life.

“You seem to be governed by a life plan. It’s ingrained in your daily routines; it’s almost like a religion for you. It has dictated the choices you have made so far and those you plan to make in the future. You don’t question it, you don’t test it. You just do it.”

At her sister’s insistence, she agrees to speak to Kacey’s old PTSD therapist and commence a very unorthodox therapy plan aimed at helping Livie find herself. For so long, she has been the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect student. Having set such high expectations for herself, she never considered derailing from them. With everything now under question, Livie is forced to re-examine her future, her life plans and entertain the possibility that everything she has always believed she wanted out of life could just be a misguided attempt at holding onto her past.

“So I hear you’re a ticking time bomb.”

When Livie moves to Princeton, she is quickly thrown into a world of new social experiences. During one of these outings, she meets a boy, a boy that makes her entire body tingle, a boy with a notorious reputation as a womaniser, a boy that makes her lose all inhibitions and control, a boy that steals her first kiss. Ashton is not someone Livie would ever normally consider dating but as much as she tries to avoid him from that first encounter, every time they meet they simply gravitate towards each other. But Ashton is also a boy with his own dark secrets and as much as he cannot help himself around Livie, he knows he cannot give her what she needs and deserves. Shackled by his own past, Ashton appears to have the perfect life, even though his life has been one constant nightmare. For the first time ever, he has met a girl who has made him want to break away from those painful binds and be true to himself, but recognising freedom and embracing it are two very different things.

“… you’re not a one-night girl, Irish… You’re my forever girl.”

When Ashton’s best friend, Connor, falls for Livie, our heroine finds herself torn between what her mind tells her she should want and what her heart craves. And by learning to listen to her heart, Livie finally finds herself on a path to self-discovery.

A beautifully executed love triangle, heart-warming and poignant, this is a story that will stay with you. The writing style is simply flawless, with equal injections of deep genuine emotions and light-hearted humour. While the first book was a lot darker, the focus being on the characters’ troubled pasts and the secrets connecting them, Livie’s story is a tale of looking forward into the future and breaking away from the past. Ms Tucker has given us another delightful heroine to adore and become invested in, not to mention an atypical hero, an anti-hero of sorts, to make our hearts race and make us cheer for him from the get-go. These are not perfect individuals – they are young, they make mistakes, but they also learn from their mistakes. There’s a learning curve in everything they do.

I loved this story from beginning to end, could not put it down for longer than a meal break and did not want it to end. I had some very minor objections regarding not giving enough importance to the risks of unprotected sex and under-age alcohol consumption, especially given the potential readership, but that is just the perfectionist in me because when you read a book this perfect, you want every aspect of it to be just that.

This was one reading delight that I plan to revisit very very soon.

“I know you don’t believe me but you don’t have to be perfect. No one’s perfect.”
“I’m not, I’m trying to be … remarkable.”

4halfstars

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The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
The Giveaway

To win one of THREE signed galleys of One Tiny Lieplease enter below. This contest is administered by K.A. Tucker.

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Other books in the series or related posts:

COVER REVEAL: One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

One of my favourite books of 2012 and possibly EVER is Ten Tiny Breaths by the very talented K.A. Tucker. I said it once and I’ll say it again – this story moved me, shocked me, made me purr, it broke my heart in so many little pieces and then it put them all back together, leaving me in awe. It came as no surprise that this book received such an overwhelmingly positive reaction from its readers that it was very quickly snatched up by Atria in a four-book deal.

The second book will be the story of Kacey’s sister, Livie, during her first year of college and it is coming to us in a few short months. Today, I am honoured to give you the gorgeous cover of One Tiny Lie

Expected release date: 11 June 2013

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Read excerpt…
The Story

Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents’ tragic death and Kacey’s self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would…and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t want in a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.

addtogoodreads

Pre-order book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunesBooks-A-Million | BOOKish
The Author

KATucker_picBorn in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Other books in the series or related posts:

BIRTHDAY TEASING: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker – A New POV

2012 was a year filled with so many incredible reads, but one that stood out in so many ways was Ten Tiny Breaths. It moved me, shocked me, made me purr, it broke my heart in so many little pieces and then it put them all back together, leaving me in awe. But what stood out the most in this beautiful book was the writing… It was spectacular. The prose might appear lighthearted but every scene reaches its target, every word has a purpose and every feeling it provokes is intentional. It is so much more than an emotional roller-coaster, it is a ride to the moon and back…

On 12 February, we then got the BEST news ever!!!! In a 4-book deal with Atria, the series is soon going to be on bookshelves everywhere! Ten Tiny Breaths was re-released with a stunning new cover, with the paperback edition coming in October 2013. The second book in the series, One Tiny Lie, is set for release this summer and it tells the story of Kacey’s sister, Livie, during her first year of college.

While we patiently wait for One Tiny Lie and speculate on what Livie’s story will be, the lovely K.A. Tucker has gifted us with a very SPECIAL scene from Ten Tiny Breaths, told from Trent’s POV and written exclusively for us. I am so EXCITED to give you … the “snake scene” …

Read my review of Ten Tiny Breaths

I’m working on a magazine layout when I hear her screams. I know it’s Kacey right away. I’ve heard her screams too many times not to recognize them. Sometimes I lay awake at night, waiting for them. Waiting to hear how seriously I’ve fucked her life up. The paper-thin walls in this apartment are great for that.

These screams … they sound different. High-pitched, petrified. Somehow dangerous.

My body reacts instantly. In seconds I’m flying out of my apartment and landing in front of hers, adrenaline firing on all cylinders. My hand tests the doorknob. It’s locked. I don’t hesitate. Not for a second. Taking three steps back, I run forward, throwing all of my weight and my apprehension against the door. The wood, the frame – everything – splinters as I plow through it and tumble into her apartment.

I don’t know what to expect on the other side. A psycho with a gun to Kacey’s head? Her sister crumpled on the bathroom floor with her wrists slit? I have no fucking clue what I’m heading into, what could possibly set Kacey off like this and keep her screaming.

The first thing I see is a small child sitting alone on the couch with hands folded in her lap. Her eyes are wide and her bottom lip wobbles as she takes me in but she doesn’t make a sound. There’s nothing amiss in the main area. Except for the idiot who just barreled through the front door.

“It’s okay,” I say as I rush past her to the hall leading to the bathroom and bedrooms. And the screams.

I find Kacey’s sister standing in front of a closed door, rattling the handle furiously with both hands, tears streaming down her cheeks. She seems completely oblivious to my explosive entrance, so focused on getting to Kacey.

I don’t bother saying anything to her. There’s no time for that. I simply grab her shoulders and pull her out of the way. I’m a bit rough and I know it but I can’t help myself. Right now I need to get through this door and find out what the hell is happening to my girl so I can breathe again.

I’m through this door in a split second to find myself in a cramped, steam-filled bathroom, facing a translucent shower curtain and a silhouette on the other side. And Kacey’s still screaming.

I suck in air.

F*ck.

A tiny part of me feels wrong about what I’m about to do. Not the part that is about to yank back the curtain and wrap her in my arms – to protect her, to make her safe. It’s the part that knows Kacey is naked and that I can’t avoid catching at least a glimpse of her. Or that I don’t want to avoid catching at least a glimpse of her. Because I’m a total douche bag and I’ve had so many wet dreams involving a naked Kacey that I should be committed for a sexual addiction.

F*ck.

Inhaling deeply, I grab a towel with one hand and tug the curtain back with the other.

Kacey doesn’t even flinch. She’s too busy screaming to notice or care that I’m standing next to her in the shower. I could probably stand here and stare at her perfect body all damn day.

Thankfully, that desire vanishes the second I see her cowering against the wall, her arms pulled tightly against her chest, her body shaking like a frightened animal. Seeing her like this rips my heart out.

I step one foot into the tub to wrap an arm around Kacey’s slick back while at the same time draping the towel over her front. Her body is soaked and rigid but she still folds into me in response, her face pressing into my chest. I bend to slide my other arm under her knees and I scoop her up.

And – thank God – the screaming stops.

As I’m carrying her out of the shower, my eyes quickly scan the area, looking for some trigger for all this. Something that made her scream like Freddy Krueger and Hannibal Lector were tag-teaming her. But I see nothing. Nothing except for … a red-and-black-striped body coiled around the showerhead.

A snake. Huh.

A snake in your shower definitely would be a surprise but it’s so small. There’s no way that’s what caused this

She confirms it seconds later with a rambling rant into my chest. “I hate snakes. I hate snakes. F*ck! I hate snakes!”

I carry her past a pale-faced Livie and into a bedroom, all the while fighting to keep the smile from spreading across my face because I know I’ll look like a dick if she sees it. It’s not that I find this funny but … now that the drama is over and she’s safe, anyone would have to admit she overreacted, just a bit.

Sure, I’m still going to beat the sh*t out of that scrawny man in 2B because I just put two and two together and this snake has to be the one he was searching the bushes for this morning. Then again, maybe I should shake the f*cker’s hand. Thanks to him, I’ve got a soaking wet, naked Kacey cradled in my arms. In a bedroom.

And now I’m back to being a douche bag.

I haven’t let go of her yet. I don’t want to. Her small, muscular body fits perfectly in my arms, pressed against me. I wish that time would just stop right now so I could hold her like this forever. But I know it won’t. I know that any second she’s going to get over the snake. When that happens, there’s a chance she’ll smash my nuts for storming into the bathroom like a meth head. Until then, I’ll close my eyes and smooth my hand over her soapy hair and enjoy this rare opportunity to be close to her.

She finally starts to shift, her head lifting from the comfortable crook against my collarbone. I glance down to meet her watery blue eyes. By the shocked look in them, she is only noticing me now. I can’t read anything else in them. Is she mad? Embarrassed? I’m pretty sure she’s attracted to me. I laid it on thick in the laundry room and she didn’t dropkick me then. Given the circumstances now though, there’s a chance she’ll make up for that. She’s got one hell of a temper.

Still, I keep a firm grip of her – my one arm around her back, my other one under her knees – and I plead forgiveness with my eyes. I watch hers flicker down at her towel for just a second before moving back to my face. She’s got to be cluing in to her current predicament. And I still can’t read her. F*ck, I wish I knew what was going on inside that brain of hers.

Livie chooses this moment to storm in and scream at me. “Who do you think you are, barging in here?”

I force my eyes away from Kacey to look at her little sister. Her face is as red as Kacey’s hair. She’s normally a sweet kid but by the way her body sways and her hands flex at her sides, I think she might lunge at me. I may have both Cleary sisters beating the hell out of me in a second.

Still … this was worth it.

“Trent. This is Trent,” I hear Kacey mumble in my ear. Her breath tickles my skin and I instantly react. Awesome. She’s sitting on my lap. There’s no way she won’t feel that. She still may try to snap my dick in half.

Thankfully, Kacey doesn’t seem to notice, still hung up on that snake. “It’s okay, Livie. There’s … there’s a rattlesnake in the shower.”

I bite back a laugh. The thing can’t be more than a foot long and there’s nothing about it that says “rattler.” I don’t say anything though. I keep quiet while Kacey continues.

“Get Mia out of here before it eats her. And get Tanner here. Now Livie!”

Livie’s eyes flicker between her sister and me, grazing the bed that we’re sitting on briefly. No doubt she thinks I’m some asshole that’s going to try something on her sister. She also knows her sister could probably cripple me. Maybe that’s what convinces her to finally leave, pulling the door shut behind her.

I tighten my grasp of Kacey, afraid she’s going to escape from my lap any second. “You okay?”

“I’m fantastic. Aside from almost dying,” she mutters.

I lean forward, about to press my lips to her cheek. But I catch myself and hold back, inches away from her. “I heard you screaming from next door. I thought someone was killing you.”

“Not someone. Something! Did you see it?” Now she turns animated, one of her arms flying out as she points back toward the bathroom. Her other hand fumbles to pull the top of her towel back up but not before I catch a glimpse of a pink, erect nipple.

Dammit.  I swallow as I feel another stir. She’s talking about dying and my dick is digging into her leg. Fan-f*cking-tastic. I can’t wait until she tells the blonde next door that part of the story.

I can’t even distract my arousal with thoughts of clowns and dead animals right now. Kacey’s too close and too naked for any sort of diversion. So I try to focus on her face instead, on the way her brow furrows as she exclaims, “I was two seconds away from being eaten alive!”

She’s so sexy when she’s serious … “I think that’s Lenny 2B’s pet snake,” I explain with a chuckle. “I saw a little bald man checking the bushes in the commons this morning, calling its name.”

Kacey’s body goes rigid and she sits up, her eyes wide with alarm as she stares at me. “Pet? That man eater is someone’s pet? Isn’t there a law against owning rattlers?”

My eyes roam over her perfect features – big, beautiful blue eyes, a narrow nose. And those lips. I settle on those for a long moment. Part of me doesn’t ever want to correct her. She can believe there’s an anaconda swallowing an entire cow in her bathroom for all I care because, if she’s busy talking about that, then she’s not pulling away from me. But I also want her to feel safe, right here in my arms. That’s what makes me fess up. “It’s a milk snake. From what I know, the only thing it’s going to eat is a mouse.” My heart is pounding against my chest, like it does every time she’s near me. I lift my hand and let my fingers graze the underside of her chin. “No one’s going to hurt you, Kacey.”

Her jaw clenches in response and I think that I’ve pushed it too far. I prepare myself for the inevitable. She’s going to slap my hand away and then she’s going to throw me out of this room and -

Kacey’s mouth slams into mine.

At first, I’m not sure that it’s happening. I think I might be imagining it. But no … there’s no way I’m imagining this. It’s a million times better than anything I’ve ever dreamed up. Her lips are so soft and yet so forceful that I don’t know how to respond. I can’t even breathe.

Not for a second, anyway. Then I remember how much I’ve wanted to kiss Kacey since the moment I saw her two years ago and all of my restraint vanishes. Suddenly I can’t keep my hands off her body. I can’t get close enough to her. I can’t kiss her hard enough. This is all so wrong and I don’t give a f*ck. I let my tongue slide into her mouth and my hands roam all of her perfect ridges and curves, settling around her pelvis as I position her on the bed. I’m as out of control as a kid with a bucket of candy and a time limit and all the while, I can’t believe she’s letting me do it. All of it.

I’m keenly aware that Kacey’s towel now sits on the floor in a heap and that her thighs clench against my hips. It’s taking every ounce of my willpower not to tear my jeans off and take full advantage of the situation.

This has already gone too far.

I wrench myself away from her mouth. “This isn’t why I pulled you out of the shower,” I say. I have to say it. Even though it’s true, right now I don’t mean it. Right now, all I want to do is feel all of her. But I can’t do that. And so I wait, watching for her reaction. She’s so damn hard to read most of the time.

“No, but it’s worked out rather well for you, hasn’t it?” she finally says, her voice turning husky, her eyes darkening with desire.

I chuckle. I can’t get enough of her wry sense of humor. It makes me smile, it makes my heart swell, it makes my dick twitch, it makes me want to do all kinds of things to her.

And it makes me feel like a douche bag again because I know that, as much as her sense of humor is a part of her, it’s also her defense mechanism. I put that defense mechanism there. I made her the way she is now. Friendless. Detached.

My heart sinks as I slide my index finger along her sexy long neck. “Isn’t it exhausting?” I whisper before I can stop myself.

“What?”

I hesitate; afraid I’m crossing an invisible boundary with her. “Keeping people out.”

“I’m not.” The denial flies out of her mouth so fast I almost miss it. I don’t miss the flicker of amazement in her eyes though. I wonder what’s behind that. Is she surprised by her response? Or is she shocked that others can see through her? I’ll never know. In the next instant, her veil of disinterest drops down, hiding everything. “I don’t want this. I don’t want you.”

Her words are like a simultaneous punch to my stomach and stab to my heart. And yet I know they’re not true. I won’t give her the chance to believe them. So I crash into her mouth, tangling my tongue in hers, pressing myself hard against the apex of her thighs, stealing one more moment of intimacy. And she responds, with her mouth, with her body. I know I’m right. She does want this. She just doesn’t want to admit it.

Maybe it’s for my ego or for further validation, or because I’m going to need a long, cold shower after this, but I break away and whisper, “You don’t want this, Kacey?”

“No …” Her lips trail against my neck, teasing me.

It’s the contradiction of the century and I’m two seconds from exploding in my pants.

Until I feel her body start to shake and I realize that she’s laughing.

Dammit.

She doesn’t even need to say anything and I know that the moment is gone. It was inevitable. I’m surprised she let herself go this far.

“Get out,” she snaps.

I sigh with a mixture of reluctance and acceptance. Laying three light kisses against her jawline, I whisper, “Okay, Kacey.” I pull myself off my dream girl with a heavy sigh.

My dream girl, stretched out naked on a bed.

I doubt I’ll ever have a moment with her like this again. Maybe that’s why I do it. I let my eyes slowly rake over her body, taking in her perfect round breasts, her sculpted torso, the tightness of her abdomen … everything about her. Slow enough that she can’t possibly miss me doing it.

I’m a f*cking asshole.

If I don’t get out of here right now, I’m going to drop to my knees and beg her to let me stay. Every muscle in my body is stiff as I walk toward the door. Time to face reality. “I’ll take the heat for the doors from Tanner,” I say. I’m not sure that I won’t get evicted, as good as my reasons may have been.

“Doors?” Kacey asks and I catch a hint of something like reverence in her voice. It makes me smile. Yeah, that’s right. I busted two doors down to rescue you, damsel in distress. Maybe that will earn me a few points with her down the road. Maybe.

Gritting my teeth, I resist the urge to turn and use my answer as an excuse to ogle her again. “Yeah. Your front door and the bathroom door. If he’s going to boot someone out, I’ll make sure it’s me.” I open the bedroom door and walk out, reminding myself to buy 2B a bottle of Jack after I smack him around.

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The Author

Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

tentinybreathsKacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind – all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

review

“I have dozens of steel pins and rods through my body, holding me together. Physically. Nothing but ten tiny breaths holds the rest of me together.”

One of the most fulfilling aspects of being an avid reader is coming across stories that not only capture your attention from the start and keep you glued to the pages from cover to cover, but also change something inside you and leave a part of them behind, a sliver of hope to hang onto, a new ‘lense’ to view life through. This book changed me. This book made me re-examine my own life and forced me to take stock of it. It is stories like these that you want to take note of and make them count.

Kacey is a girl who is broken. A terrible tragedy took almost everyone she has ever cared for away from her, shattering not only her body but also her soul, leaving her with nothing else in life except the scattered remnants of the person she once used to be and a younger sister she dotes on. While her body might have healed and recovered fully, Kacey has never properly dealt with her trauma, bottling up the emotional pain and allowing anger to rule her every action. She now walks through life like a ticking bomb waiting to explode, one that can be triggered by anything and everything that potentially upsets her fragile exterior.

“I’m not Kacey Cleary anymore. I’m an empty shell who cracks inappropriate jokes and feels nothing. I’m a Kacey imposter.”

The story starts with Kacey and Livie running away from the only home they have known since the accident that changed their lives, hoping to start afresh in a new city far away from the constant reminders of what they lost. They move into an apartment block where privacy and anonymity are not always possible, forcing them to make friends and learn to trust others again.

And then Kacey meets Trent. The last thing she ever imagined finding is someone who would be able to touch her heart again. Trent sees through her defense mechanisms and all the ways she tries hard to repel others. He enters her life like a warm tide, gently, carefully, patiently. He senses all her reservations and fears and he gives her time to adjust.

“In no time, this guy has created permanent fissures in my carefully constructed suit of sanity, and I don’t know how to fight against it, to protect myself, to keep him out.”

By letting him under her emotional armour, Kacey’s resistance slowly starts to dissipate, offering her little flashes of hope that she could be whole once more. But the kind of silent fury that has been brewing inside Kacey without ever being properly addressed only awaits its moment to erupt again. Once it does, it has the power to crush her completely and permanently.

This is a story of forgiveness, redemption, facing one’s worse nightmares in order to find relief from them. It is also a story of hope, friendship, sisterly love, and love between the unlikeliest of broken souls. Kacey is a young woman desperate to find something other than anger to fuel her spirit, Trent’s love being both her undoing as well as her salvation.

“I wonder if there’s any chance … what if … Inhaling, I look up into his face and see a world of calm and possibilities. For the first time in four years, the thought of a hand covering mine doesn’t send me into a dizzying spiral down.”

The connection between Kacey and Trent is carefully developed as it is crucial to the storyline. It shows the healing power of love, both received as well as given, making their relationship the focal point of Kacey’s journey of forgiveness. However, every other secondary character counts and plays a role in Kacey’s healing process. The story itself feels like a puzzle that comes together piece by piece. Our heroine’s heart is broken but it is hopeful to recover from the hatred that has been defining and confining it for too long.

“I want to make you smile. For real. Always. We’re going to go for dinners, and see movies, and walk on the beach. We’ll go hang gliding, or bungee jumping, or whatever you want to do. Whatever makes you smile and laugh more… Let me make you smile.”

A spectacularly written story, an emotional joyride that simultaneously warms the reader’s heart while also breaking it and putting it back together. An absolute must-read.

“Give me your heart, Kacey. I’ll take everything that comes with it.”

5starssignature2 addtogoodreads

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