✍🏻 Stacy Travis’s He’s A Keeper is coming May 24th. Who’s ready for this new series set in the world of soccer? Preorder your copy of it today and check out this sneak peek! ✍🏻

Drunk-texting a grumpy soccer star?
Best worst decision of my life.

He’s a Keeper, a grumpy sunshine sports romance from Stacy Travis is coming May 24th, and we have your first look inside!

Especially when the player is the sinfully handsome, foul-mouthed Holden Sanders… my new library assistant.

The benched bad boy needed an image makeover, I needed to save my job, and his star status was just what the library ordered to raise awareness for our fundraising campaign. The press can’t get enough of Mr. Growly reading to kids.

It’s win-win and completely platonic.

Until I need a shoulder to cry on after drowning my heartbreak in too many margaritas. I only typed that invitation to his brawny biceps and perfect pectorals for fun–I never meant to hit send. Holden isn’t the kind of guy to care about tears and feelings, least of all mine. He’s made it clear good girls aren’t his type.

But he shows up–with his strapping shoulder, a box of tissues and a supersized bag of Doritos.

That’s when I realize there’s more to him than meets the eye.

One soulful, smoldering mistake of a kiss has me craving more, and the heat between us quickly builds to a blaze neither of us can control.

But I’m not the only one guarding secrets, and Holden’s might push us to the breaking point.

Even if I’m surrounded by books, I know better than to believe in storybook endings.

And yet, I want to believe… Because I know he’s a keeper.

He’s a Keeper is a standalone sports romance in the San Francisco Strikers series with a HEA.

Reserve your copy today!
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Keep reading for a sneak peek inside He’s a Keeper!


When I reach the glass doors, I expect to see the irritable man outside scrolling on his phone or, if he really doesn’t understand the rules, walking to his car.
But he’s nowhere. Glancing back, I see Seth dutifully walking toward the story area, his shoulders hunched like I’ve sent him to the gallows. Still, he’s going. That gives me a couple minutes to track this man down. I should’ve asked his daughter for his name so I could yell it.

The library is a one-story building on a corner. A small square of grass sits on each side of the front walkway, which leads to the sidewalk where the city hasn’t trimmed the overgrown trees in years. The result is patchy brown areas where the grass doesn’t get enough sun and trees that block out the sky in places.

I head around the side of the building to where the tiny parking lot only has room for a handful of cars. My fugitive stands with a pair of preteen boys each holding a skateboard under one arm. All three stare up at one of the trees.
From my vantage point, I can’t see much except a whisp of what looks like orange fur on a high branch. The boys are doing their best to mask their nerves with a façade of bravado.

“Dude, you do it. I have a basketball tourney this weekend and my dad’ll kill me if I get injured,” one of the boys says, dropping his skateboard and stepping on one end so it flips back into his hand.

The other boy, who has a shock of blond hair, tosses his board onto the grass and cranes his neck toward the ball of fur in the tree. “Nah, he’s really high up. Dude, if he falls and dies, it’s totally your fault for letting him out.”

“I didn’t let him out. He ran out before I saw him.”
“Whatever. You were the one who opened the door.”
“You’re the one with a cat who’s too dumb to stay in the house.”

“Not. Helping,” the man scolds, turning his baseball cap around so the brim hangs over the back of his hair. Now I can see his eyes, though with the way he’s squinting at the tree, I can’t tell their color, just that they sit under aggravated brows.

It’s also crystal clear that my initial take on him was spot on—he’s so good-looking that he uses it as a hall pass to be a jerk. Even his stance, with his arms folded so his biceps pop and his shoulders pull at the fabric of his shirt, shows anyone within viewing distance that he knows what to do with hundred-pound barbells. And he does it.

“I don’t want him to die.” The blond boy wipes his sweaty palms on his jeans and takes a few steps closer to the tree, surveying the climb.
“He’s not going to die. Cats are ninety-five percent tiger. They have eighteen toes.

They’re built for climbing,” the man says. “Plus, they have double the neurons in their cerebral cortex as dogs. They’re smart. Your cat’s only climbing as high as it’s safe.”
It’s like dinner theater seeing this brawny dude with the bad attitude rhapsodize about cats. I can’t tear myself away.
Suddenly, he jumps up and grabs the lowest tree branch and executes the most manly pullup, biceps rippling, as he hurls himself vertically, ending up in a squat on top of the fat horizontal branch. The legs of his jeans stretch taut over his thighs, and he balances like some kind of ninja. From there, he reaches for another branch overhead and does the same.
It’s like Tarzan with a zoology degree.
I inch a little closer to get a better view. The boys are fixated on him and don’t notice me until I whisper a question. “Do you know that man?”
“Nah, he’s just some dude who walked out here,” says the blond boy. “I hope he’s got extra toes too.”
“You know an awful lot about cats,” I call up to him.
From the way he flinches, he had no idea I was there. Holding on to a tree branch, he stuffs his other hand into his pocket and looks back at the cat, who’s taken the momentary distraction to scramble higher up the branch. “I almost fucking had it.”
“Hey. Children are present.” I put my hands over my ears to demonstrate, stuck in my library lady persona because, as I said, I’m bad with kids.
“Are you one of them, Mary?” He smirks. It’s not a bad look on him because it slightly looks like a smile. Except that the upturned corner of his mouth makes me want to punch it. And why’s he calling me Mary when I introduced myself to the group right before he left?
“Hardly.” I square my shoulders as though I need to prove to him that I’m not a child, which seems childish and makes me want to punch him again. “Anyhow, you can’t be out here.”
“I have no idea what that means,” he growls, stepping further along the branch, which looks flimsy under his weight.
He’s nearly twenty feet in the air and pretty close to the orange and white cat, which is no bigger than a grapefruit. It sits perched on a high branch meowing like it’s singing opera. Cute little thing.
I don’t have pets. It kind of goes along with my fear-of-kids thing. I worry the responsibility of caring for a pet might be more than I can handle. What if I forget to feed it for a week? What if I let it escape and it ends up in a tree?
But this cat has fate on its side because Tarzan scoops the small thing into his hand and tucks it into his chest. From the way his head is bent toward the cat, I can tell he’s talking to it.
Using his free hand, he deftly slips down to a lower branch and balances on it while he surveys the best path down. Lowering into a squat, he calls out to the boys. “You said you play basketball, yeah?”
“Sure,” one of the boys says.
“You’re going to catch this kitten like it’s a buzzer beater from downtown. You miss, you lose. Ready?”
The boys ready themselves, hands open, squatting like the ballers they want to be. “Ready. I’m open!” the blond boy yells, instantly in game mode.
The man drops the furry, striped body to where the boy grasps it surely in his hands. He scruffs it under the collar and tucks it under one arm while he and his buddy grab their skateboards.
“Thanks, man. You saved my bacon,” the blond one says.
As he swings from the lowest branch and lands in front of the boys, the man is already brushing off their appreciation. “You never have to worry about cats. They’re climbers. He’d have come down on his own, so if he does it again, wait him out. Don’t break a bone. Speaking of that, cats have more bones than people. They’re just small.” He spouts all this information sounding irritable and inconvenienced, as if anyone asked for an encyclopedia entry on cats.
“Cool, good to know.” The boys mount their skateboards and thank him again as he brushes some stray pieces of bark from the sleeves of his shirt.
Then his gaze locks on mine, and I notice the hardness in his steely gray eyes which have dark rims that look like they were drawn with charcoal pencil. They’re pretty but unyielding.
He stares at me like I’m the one who isn’t where I’m supposed to be.
“I need you to come back inside,” I say again. His eyes roam over me from head to toe and back again. He makes no attempt to hide his slow perusal of my form, and I feel a flutter in my belly that irritates me because I don’t want to react to him. I fold my arms over my C-cup chest.
“I’m sorry?” He cocks his head to the side like a dog who only hears words but doesn’t know what they mean.
“You need to stay in the library.”
“I don’t think there’s a law about leaving the library. Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to be inside? Who’s reading to the kids, Mare?”
The kids—as though he isn’t the biggest child among them.
“My name’s not Mary.”
He shrugs.
What he doesn’t know is that I wrangle headstrong, hormonal teenage girls for a living, and if I can get them to work quietly, I can handle one unpleasant man-child. He doesn’t intimidate me. He does, however, beg me to spend a little more time staring at his strong jaw, even though he glares like he’s weighing the odds of murdering me and getting away with it.
I exhale a long breath, prepared to explain the rules, but my mind drifts to a subject that’s more intriguing. It’s not a problem when I’m alone, but when I’m having a conversation with someone, it can lead people to think I have focus issues.
Maybe I have focus issues.
Drifting back, I point at the man accusingly. “How do you know so much about cats? Are you a vet?”
He huffs a disbelieving breath, stuffing his hands deep into his pockets. “I have a cat.” His icy stare makes it seem like he’s unhappy about it.
“You have a cat?”
“I just said I did.”
I shake my head as if to knock the errant words from my ears because I can’t have heard him correctly. In no world does this tightly-wound grump take care of animals, unless he’s skinning them for their pelts. Which makes me worry for the safety of his cat. “You have a cat. As a pet?”
He squints his eyes, which causes the corners of them to crinkle, which seems strange until I realize they’re laugh lines that accompany another smirk. He observes me with his hands on his hips. “As opposed to…?”
“I don’t know, like maybe you’re planning to feed it to some larger animal. Do you also raise coyotes and watch them devour cats for sport?”
He mirrors my stance, and I can’t help but notice the bulge of his biceps when he crosses his arms. He looks sightly menacing, and I worry for a second that I’m poking a beast that’s best left alone. He shakes his head.
“I don’t know what kind of weird shit you’re snacking on behind the reference desk, but no, I’m not into torturing animals. Any other questions about my cat?”
“What’s its name?”
“Huh.” Is it wrong that I expected him to have a male cat? I picture him with a surly tomcat who hunts for mice with him in the dark. “Greta,” I confirm.
“Garbo. She’s a European Shorthair. Swedish. I like old movies.”
A Tetris block drops into place. “The DVDs. You were renting oldies?” It happens that our branch has a big collection of classic films on DVD, and some people come from across the city for them.
His brow furrows. “What?”
“A couple weeks ago. I ran into you?” What’s the use of pointing out that it wasn’t memorable? “Never mind. But if you’re a Garbo fan, I feel compelled to admit I always liked Romance better than Camille. I know that’s controversial.” I glance to the side, thinking about the two movies. When my attention drifts back, he’s studying me like I’m an oddity.
I’m used to that look. Yes, I’m the library lady who likes books—and even movies—more than people.
It’s why I get a perverse thrill at hiding details about my life and letting people assume what they want. If I admitted to a one-night stand here or there, there’d be questions. Assumptions. Maybe even invitations to hang out after work with some of the male faculty at school. Easier to let people assume I’m a sunshiny little hermit on my way to becoming a spinster.
What people think is irrelevant, which is why it surprises me when this guy picks up my conversational tangent like it’s normal. “Camille might be a tad overrated. I agree there. But Romance isn’t my favorite.”
“Which is your favorite?” I’m here for the talk about old movies. I kind of love it.
“The Kiss.” His gray eyes boring into mine until I can’t take the weight of his stare any longer and look away. I feel the heat rise in my cheeks and prickles of warmth crawl up the back of my neck. Must be hot out here.
When I recover my composure and look at him, he’s smirking like he knows the effect he has on me. “Anyhow, I gotta go.” He starts walking toward the parking lot, forcing me to move quickly to keep pace with his long stride.
“Oh. No. No, no, no. We have to go back. You need to stay inside the library.”
“Because it’s a rule. Parents stay.”
We reach the parking lot and he stops by the door of a sleek-looking Porsche. I half expect him to speed away without finishing the conversation, but he doesn’t pop the locks. “I’m not a parent. I’m here with my niece. We’re bonding.” His grimace and the irritated tone of his voice makes bonding sound as much fun as being stapled naked to a tree.
“It doesn’t matter. You’re her guardian. Parents, guardians, nannies, babysitters, uncles—all of those people need to stay if they bring a kid to the library. It’s not daycare.”
“Not my rule.”
Pressing his lips together, he glares at me like I’m a gnat he’d like to flick away. I offer him my most meaningful stare, which is challenging as my traitorous body cranks up the heat again when he looks at me – to say nothing about my pounding heart.
Stop it. He’s just a man. A normal human man.
Okay, he’s not normal. He’s spectacular, gorgeous, stunning—all the adjectives. But still, just a man. The wind chooses this moment to kick up behind me, pushing a bunch of flyaway strands out of my ponytail and into my face like runaway tumbleweeds, so for a moment, I can’t see if he’s decided to make a break for the fancy, fast car.
“Be a better guy than that.”
Something in his eyes shifts, softens, if only slightly. “Fine,” he says, turning back toward the library. “Not like I have any place to be.” I catch the sarcasm in his tone and the view of his broad shoulders as he swaggers back toward the door.
“It’s one hour. I’m sure you’ll manage. It’ll give you more bonding time, and if you really can’t stand it, the place is full of books. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite author.” I can’t help the brightness of my tone. I love books.
“I said it was fine,” he says over his shoulder, but his fierce, sweeping stride makes it clear he dislikes my terms. He walks ahead of me, so I’m forced to keep pace if I want to see his face, which is marked by a resigned lack of enthusiasm.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
I extend my hand, which he grips firmly before dropping it. I swallow hard when I feel an electric zing of pleasure erupt over my skin at his touch. Infuriating, traitorous skin.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Molly.” It’s not particularly nice, but I’m not about to alienate one of the few people at the library. I need about twenty more of him.
“Molly, huh? Given your whole spoonful of sugar vibe, I could’ve sworn it was Mary.”
“Nope, Molly.” I ignore the Mary Poppins reference. He thinks he’s so original.
He stares me down. “Okay, Mare. I mean, Molly.” He says my name slowly like it sticks in his throat. Charmer.

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3Oe3AnA

About Stacy Travis
It’s a rough world out there, and we all sometimes need a good, romantic beach read, even if we can’t make it to the beach. I’ve spent many lazy days walking the streets of Paris and other gorgeous European cities, and if I’m doing it right, I’m bringing you a dash of romance and a vacay fantasy.
I can’t sit still, so when I’m not hiking, biking or running, I’m playing a very average game of tennis. Background music for writing undoubtedly features some U2, Lizzo, Billy Joel, Pink, Taylor Swift, and Led Zeppelin. Not necessarily in that order. And if I could only eat one food group, it would be cheese. Or wine. Or bread. Are those food groups? Whatever.

Connect with Stacy
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Website: https://stacytravis.com

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4 ⭐️ Review: Sara Ney’s The Mrs. Degree ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Second chance romance is one of my favorite tropes. Sprinkle in a side of a surprise baby, and this reader gobbles the story. Sara Ney’s The Mrs. Degree is all of these things. Where her first book in this series of standalones, The Player Hater, stalled, her newest story takes off. The story follows Penelope and Jack, college sweethearts, who have been separated for seven years. While in college, Penelope finds out she’s pregnant as Jack is preparing to launch into professional football, and she makes the decision to break up with him in order to protect his decision to become an NFL football player. Years later, he finds himself dreaming of her, and it causes him performance problems on the field. When he seeks her out, he finds she has a daughter, one who fits the timeline of possibly being his. As they navigate a new normal, they must decide if their future involves only co-parenting or if there is more between them. 

What I loved most about The Mrs. Degree, a title that doesn’t quite summarize this story, is Jack’s undying love for Penelope. It’s clear, even through his anger at finding out about Skipper, that he’s loved Penelope forever. This isn’t a situation where Jack was a horrible boyfriend. He’s the kind of professional football player who seems like a unicorn: a man who simply wants to be with the only woman he’s ever loved. In modern-day language, Jack is a simp for Penelope, and it doesn’t undermine his virility or masculinity; it simply makes him entirely lovable. 

Penelope is the complication of the story. She makes a hasty and ill-informed decision, she lies, and she hides the truth when she needs to be forthcoming. This makes her likability problematic. Thankfully, as Jack forgives her and courts her, she grows into the woman that you need her to be: capable, intelligent, and forthcoming. It takes much of the story for her to get to that place, but her brother, Davis, and Jack help her get to that point. 

There are still moments in the pacing of the story that feel slow (like The Player Hater), and Penelope’s acceptance of Jack’s offer of a future drags the flow of the story. As well, the emotional connection between Penelope and Jack doesn’t match their attraction and chemistry. However, I enjoyed The Mrs. Degree far more than book 1. It will definitely make me want to read the next book of the series, The Make Out Artist

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Did you miss the stunning cover for Kennedy Ryan’s Before I Let Go? This is a cover. Reserve your copy of it TODAY, so you don’t miss out. ✍🏻

“Award-winning and bestselling “powerhouse” author Kennedy Ryan is at her absolute best in this compelling, scorching novel about hope and healing, and what it truly means to love for a lifetime.”–USA Today 

Before I Let Go, an all-new compelling second chance romance and the first book in the new Skyland Series from USA Today bestselling and RITA® Award-winning author @kennedyryan1 is coming November 15th, and we have your first look inside this epic romance!


Their love was supposed to last forever. But when life delivered blow after devastating blow, Yasmen and Josiah Wade found that love alone couldn’t solve or save everything.

It couldn’t save their marriage.

Yasmen wasn’t prepared for how her life fell apart, but she’s finally starting to find joy again. She and Josiah have found a new rhythm, co-parenting their two kids and running a thriving business together. Yet like magnets, they’re always drawn back to each other, and now they’re beginning to wonder if they’re truly ready to let go of everything they once had.

Soon, one stolen kiss leads to another . . . and then more. It’s hot. It’s illicit. It’s all good—until old wounds reopen. Is it too late for them to find forever? Or could they even be better, the second time around?

Reserve your copy today!
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Nook Audio: https://bit.ly/3yfsk9j

Keep reading for your first look inside Before I Let Go

The dress’s zipper stubbornly stays put at the middle of my back.
Screw it.
I’ll ask the hostess to zip me up.
I grab my stuff and leave the bathroom just as the outer office door opens and Josiah walks in. His glance skitters over me, starting with my hair and sliding to my bare toes.
“Sorry. I didn’t realize you were in here,” he says.
Josiah’s face is interesting enough to make handsome look mundane, though the man is undeniably fine. The kind of fine that makes you lose your train of thought mid sentence and bite your lip. Gorgeous dark skin gleams, pulled taut over the high sculpted bones of his face. To be so controlled, nearly austere, there is something boundless about his presence. Standing here with him, that energy, an amalgamation of ambition and audacity and swagger, swirls around us in the office. It’s like being corked into a bottle with a typhoon.
His brows lift, querying. I’m staring.
“Oh.” I turn my back to him, as much to recover my composure as to get my zipper up. “It’s stuck. Can ya help?”
He doesn’t answer, and his steps are so quiet I barely hear him cross the room, so the heat of his body warming my exposed skin startles me. The backs of his fingers brush over my spine as he pulls the zipper. It doesn’t budge at first, so he has to tug. Even just that whisper of a touch reminds my skin how to goose-bump. I glance over my shoulder and up, my breath hitching when our eyes collide. The air around us practically crackles, charged with a familiar current I’d forgotten was even possible.
He clears his throat and slides the zipper to the top. “There you go.”
I turn to face him and am unprepared for how close he stands. I’m barefoot and my view narrows to the broad chest and shoulders of the man in front of me. We’re not alone like this often anymore, leading separate lives that only intersect at our kids and our business. Kassim and Deja are usually around, or staff, friends, coaches, teachers. It’s rarely just us. We used to know each other better than anyone. Now I’m not even sure what he watches in the little free time he has away from this place, or if he even watches TV at all.
“Have you seen Ozark?” I ask.
The thick line of his brows dips. “Nah. Should I?”
“It’s one of the best shows I’ve seen in a really long time. The acting, directing. The writing is stellar.” I’m rambling. I want to shove a sock in my mouth to make it stop running.
“I’ll have to, uh . . . check it out.” He glances at the door. “I need to get back.”
“Yeah.” I reach into the bottom of my suit bag to grab my green heels, bending to slip them on. “I gotta go too.”
He runs a thorough glance from my head to my shoes. “You look . . . nice.”
“Nice?” I scoop up the suit bag, now stuffed with my clothes, and speed to the door, grinning over my shoulder. “Pfftt. I look amazing.”
He shakes his head, allowing a small smile. “You look amazing. Have a good time.”
“I’ll try not to be out too late. And don’t let the kids stay up all night, Si. They have school tomorrow.”
“Like I’m the pushover parent.”
We both know he is, so I just stare at him until his smile broadens to that startling brightness that will snatch your breath if you let it. “Get outta here. I’ll see you at the house.”
The house.
Not home. Not the dream home we worked for and fantasized about for years. Now it’s just the house where the kids and I live. Josiah’s in the same neighborhood, but a few streets over. I’m not sure why my thoughts keep revisiting the past tonight when my reflection, my mindset, everything has “future” written all over it.

Add to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3ygKmIm

Cover Art and Design by Natasha Cunningham

Check out Kennedy’s interview with Entertainment Weekly >> https://bit.ly/3PgLkdS

About Kennedy Ryan

A RITA® and Audie® Award winner, USA Today bestselling author Kennedy Ryan writes for women from all walks of life, empowering them and placing them firmly at the center of each story and in charge of their own destinies. Her heroes respect, cherish, and lose their minds for the women who capture their hearts. Kennedy and her writings have been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, TIME, O magazine, and many others. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son.

Connect with Kennedy

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✍🏻 Lex Martin’s Tight Ends & Tiaras is coming July 5th. What’s not to love about single father, fake dating, and sports romance? ✍🏻

Title: Tight Ends & Tiaras
Author: Lex Martin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Qamber Designs
Photo: Perrywinkle Photography
Release Date: July 5, 2022
Football is one hundred percent the focus of my life—until a squawking toddler, with a temper to rival my own, lands in my lap and flips my life upside down.
I’ll never be Dad of the Year. Anyone will tell you that. Except maybe Sienna, my sister’s former roommate, who somehow manages to make my broody ass laugh and sees something in me no one else does.
When Sienna offers to let me and my little princess move in with her, I’m not sure if it’s to help or because she wants revenge on my teammate and long-time rival, who broke her heart.
Either way, I’m game. Because I need to get my ex off my back, and Sienna doesn’t mind pretending to be my girlfriend.
Only neither of us is ready for the sparks that fly between us or the consequences when they do.
What to expect:
Slow burn but steamy!
Single father
Sports romance (football)
Fake dating
Friends to lovers
New adult (seniors in college)
Small town
$3.99 for a limited time!
Lex Martin is the USA Today bestselling author of the Texas Nights series (Reckless/Shameless) and the Dearest series. She writes contemporary romances, the sexy kind with lotsa angst, a whole lotta kissing, and the hot happily ever afters. A former high school English teacher and freelance journalist, she’s lived all over the country but currently resides in her hometown of San Antonio with her husband and twin daughters.

✍🏻 Looking for a weekend read? Helena Hunting’s Starry-Eyed Love is OUT now. Grab your copy and wile away your weekend in it. ✍🏻

“Hunting puts her own sexy spin on the classic fairy-tale” – Booklist

Starry-Eyed Love, an all-new laugh out loud romantic comedy with off the charts chemistry and all the feels from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting, is available now!

Read my 4 ⭐️ review HERE.

Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.

Fall in love today!
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Read on for a look inside Starry-Eyed Love!

My stomach does a flip-flop as our server moves on to another table and the hot guy slides across the bench seat and rises. He’s tall, must be over six feet, and lean. Broad shoulders that taper down to a narrow waist. I glance at his feet and notice his scuffed running shoes.
He rolls his shoulders back and crosses over to our table. He nods to my sisters, but doesn’t really look at them, his eyes on me. Now that he’s right in front of me, I notice they’re a deep mossy-green color, reminding me of a Colorado forest. “Hi.” A slow smile forms as his gaze moves over my face.
I feel it like a gentle caress and heat travels through my veins. It’s an unexpected reaction, so my own “hi” comes out rather breathily. “Thank you for the drinks and the food. You really didn’t need to do that.”
His grin widens, showing off perfectly straight, white teeth. “Well, I wanted to make a good impression, and have an excuse to come over and talk to you.”
Harley squeezes my leg under the table. I don’t risk looking at her because I’m sure she’s smiling like a loon.
“You certainly did that. Make a good impression, I mean.” Why am I so awkward right now? And why does it feel like this man is sucking all the oxygen out of the room and turning my brain cells into mush?
That gets me another smile. “I wanted to apologize if it seemed like I was staring. I hope I haven’t made you uncomfortable.”
I touch my fingers to my lips and resist the urge to play with my hair, but just barely. Why does this man make me feel like a starry-eyed high school girl? “You haven’t made me uncomfortable.”
“Good. That’s very good.” His tongue drags across his bottom lip. “I just needed to tell you that from across the room, you were beyond stunning, but up close.” He lets out a low whistle. “You are an absolute work of art.”
I fight with my eyebrows not to rise. This guy has all the lines. “Oh, really?” I lace my fingers together and set my chin on them. “The kind of art you might hang in your living room?”
“Bedroom, actually.”
I laugh. I can’t decide if this guy is too smooth for his own good. Or mine. I have to wonder how many times he’s dropped these lines on other women and they’ve ended up in his bed as a result.
“That sound is music to my ears,” he says, his white-toothed smile still in place. “I knew I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t come over here and at least say hello.” He slides a small piece of paper across the table, roughly the size of a business card. “I’m going to leave my number, and maybe if you’re interested, I can take you out for a drink, or dinner, or a hot air balloon ride.”
I can see exactly where this will go if I take that card from him. And while getting into bed with a random, attractive man might be fun, I know it’s not the right thing for me. Before I can really consider what I’m doing, or fully absorb the last part, I put a hand out to stop him. “I’m very flattered, but I have to be honest with you. I won’t call you. I have a boyfriend.” The lie tastes sour on my tongue. Although, had it been three days earlier, it would have been the truth.
Avery does some kind of cough-choke thing, and I kick her under the table and get Harley on the back swing.
His smile falters for a moment, but he doesn’t break eye contact. “That’s disappointing, but unsurprising. I didn’t see a ring, so I’d hoped maybe luck was on my side.” He tips his head to the side. “Is it serious?”
“Pardon me?”
“You and this boyfriend, are you two serious?”
This guy is unbelievable. “And if we are?”
“Hmm.” He withdraws his hand and slips the paper in his pocket. “I’d hate for karma to pass judgment on me and get in the way of our future together, so I’m just going to hope I run into you again when you’re single. Have a lovely night, ladies.” He nods to my sisters and gives me one final lingering glance before he winks. “Thank you for existing.”
And then he walks away.

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About Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

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✍🏻 Emma Lee Jayne’s Smart Mouth is Available NOW. If you love an opposites attract, second chance at love story, you’ll LOVE this story. ✍🏻

Smart Mouth, an all-new opposites attract romantic comedy from Emma Lee Jayne, is now available in Kindle Unlimited! 

Read my 4 ⭐️review HERE.

The rockstar

There are lots of assumptions people make about rockstars. Shallow. Player. Addict. The truth? I’m none of those. 

The even bigger truth…the only opinion I care about is her’s and she hates me. Her as in Gwen Matthews, my twin brother’s best friend, the unrequited love of my life. She thinks I’m a liar and a jerk which is why I pretend to be my brother when she needs help one night. 

Except Gwen is a genius. Literally. So it doesn’t take her long to figure out it’s me and not my brother, but maybe, just maybe, she’s willing to give me a second chance. Because maybe when she looks at me, she only sees a rockstar with her best friend’s face, but when I look at her, I see my other half. She centers me in a way that no rhythm or line of lyric ever could. 

The scientist

I have three priorities in life at the moment: finish my research, defend my dissertation, and get my Ph.D., so that I can actually figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life. Tom Mendoza won’t help me achieve any of those things. Yet I can’t help the sudden feeling that I’ve been completely wrong about him all this time. 

The day we first met when we were both teenagers, I saw a glimpse of a sweet, funny boy that felt very much like a kindred spirit; awkward and full of energy and dreams. But that guy seemed to disappear and in his place was this stereotypical stupidly hot rock star that did not make sense in my world. 

Being a scientist means being willing to admit when you’re wrong and reevaluating everything. I might not understand much about human behavior, but I can clearly see the tender underbelly that Tom protects. The subtle rituals he uses to stave off his anxiety. Yes, he’s ridiculously hot, but his soul just might be more beautiful than his face and I’m not sure what to do with that. 

Especially when I find out that he’s in love with me. 

‘Smart Mouth’ is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #4 in the Work For It series, Educated Romance World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

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I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, but kissing Gwen is the best stupid thing I’ve ever done.

I know it’s a mistake. I know James will probably kill me if he ever finds out—and he will find out.

Hell, Gwen will kill me herself, if she ever finds out. Plus, she’s smart enough to get away with it—and to make it painful.

Despite all of that, I can’t sit here and let her think that I don’t want her. I can’t let her believe she’s repulsive or any other ridiculous idea. I can’t fucking watch her cry over it.

I’ve never really understood James and Gwen’s relationship. I’ve never understood how he’s been friends with this gorgeous, smart, awkward, frustrating woman without hitting on her. I don’t know how he made it through high school and college without kissing her, because, fuck it, I couldn’t make it through a thirty-minute car ride without wanting to kiss her.

I sure as fuck am not going to let her climb out of this car thinking she repulses men.

I don’t have a plan when I lean across the console and pull her to me. At least not beyond ridding her of this notion that I don’t want her.

But the second my mouth touches hers, I’m a goner.

About Emma Lee Jayne

I write the kinds of books I want to read. Fast-paced books with lots of world-building, snarky heroines, and swoony heroes. I love story, pop culture, gossip, and baked goods. I’m a modern-day hippy and certified LEGO nerd.

I live in the Austin, Texas hill country, with my geeky husband and two extremely geeky kids. We have dogs, chickens, cats, and more LEGOs than should be allowed by law. Oh, and I stress bake. So if my characters talk about food a lot, that’s why.

Emma also writes as Rita award winning author Emily McKay.

Find Emma Lee Jayne online

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✍🏻 T.K. Leigh’s Obsession, the final book of her Temptation Series, is coming June 6th. This series has been a rollercoaster of romantic suspense. Preorder your copy so you don’t miss it. ✍🏻

Title: Obsession
Series: Temptation #4
Author: T.K. Leigh
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: June 6, 2022
One week. No names. No expectations.
That was our agreement.
We were supposed to walk away after our time in Hawaii was over.
No matter what.
That was before…
Before I learned who she is.
Before I realized how interconnected our lives are.
Before I fell in love.
But our love isn’t the stuff fairy tales are made of.
Demons lurk around every corner.
Good doesn’t necessarily prevail over evil.
And the knight in shining armor may not save the day. Not if her murderous ex-husband has anything to do with it.
But Julia’s never been the type of girl who needs a knight in shining armor to save the day.
She’s the type of girl who will pick up her own sword and fight for what she believes in.
I just hope she’s finally learned to believe in herself.
Obsession is the final book in the Temptation Series, a gripping older woman, younger man romantic suspense about the power of redemption and forgiveness.
T.K. Leigh is the USA Today Bestselling author of romance ranging from fun and flirty to sexy and suspenseful. Originally from New England, she now resides outside of Raleigh with her husband, beautiful daughter, special needs rescue dog, and three cats. When she’s not writing, she can be found training for her next marathon (of which she has run over twenty fulls and far too many halfs to recall) or chasing her daughter around the house.

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4 ⭐️ Review: Helena Hunting’s Starry-Eyed Love ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Helena Hunting’s Starry-Eyed Love is the contemporary romance that you expect from her. This story is the follow-up one to her When Sparks Fly where we are introduced to the Spark sisters, Avery, London, and Harley. Struggling to take their generational hotel and events space, Spark House, to the next level, we find these ladies meeting their matches and falling in love. In her newest story, Hunting creates a sweet story for London Spark and Jackson Holt, a multi-media billionaire who champions sustainability,  which happens to be a hallmark of Spark House. When these two meet, it’s instant chemistry, even though London spurns his invitation for dinner. Thanks to fate, they meet several months later when Jackson’s media conglomerate reaches out to the Spark sisters and invites them to engage in a partnership to connect them with green-friendly sponsorships. London and Jackson are instantly attracted to each other again, but given their business arrangement, they deny their attraction until they finish a charity auction held at Spark House. There is much back and forth between these two until they can no longer deny themselves. Thankfully, their resistance holds out until after the charity auction, and they fall head over heels for each other. Sadly, there are aspects of Jackson’s past that come forward to complicate a happy ending for these two; however, what is standard and foundational to this series of standalones is the loving relationship between Avery, London, and Harley. 

While I don’t believe the Spark sisters’ stories (Harley’s is still to come) epitomize the depth of Hunting’s writing, they are easy, engaging reads that remind you of Hunting’s capacity as a writer. With When Sparks Fly and Starry-Eyed Love, however, there is a bit of her magic missing. I wondered in my review of When Sparks Fly if it’s the influence of the more mainstream publisher. But the things that make you adore her Pucked series are missing in these stories. That aside, here’s what I loved about her newest book:

  1. London is the stalwart of the sisters. She’s also made the biggest sacrifices of the sisters as she handles the business for Spark House when she’d prefer to be more creative. She does this out of the love and protection of her sisters. This instantly makes her admirable. It also makes it easy to see why Jackson falls hard for her. Her story becomes one about “shape” meaning she isn’t “shaped” to the business aspects of Spark House, and she struggles with anxiety in her role. When she’s being creative, we ‘see’ her shape, and it draws us emotionally to her because she spends much of Starry-Eyed Love denying herself. Thankfully, Jackson’s role in her life emboldens her to make better choices by its end. Her evolution engages you in her story. 
  2. Jackson isn’t as decidedly drawn as London. In fact, he’s troublesome because he has an integrity issue. As a business person, Jackson’s charisma is undeniable. He champions London to his business associates, and this makes him loveable. But he makes some unwise choices in his relationship with London. As a reader, you see the train wreck coming ahead of them, but you have to bear his ignorance. This sometimes undermines his loveability, unfortunately, because he appears careless. However, his past informs these choices, and you find it easy to forgive him for his foibles…eventually. 
  3. For me, London and Jackson’s story is more palatable than Avery and Deacon’s. While I enjoyed When Sparks Fly, I ended Starry-Eyed Love preferring it more. I’m still troubled by Avery’s stubbornness and inflexibility, and it intensifies in this book. I’m hoping when Hunting gifts us with Harley’s romance that Deacon and Avery’s union will have mellowed her a bit. 
  4. Hunting makes communicating via a Google Doc the newest form of foreplay.
  5. There is a lovely bit of cross-over with other Hunting titles in this story which connects you back to earlier stories in her booklist. I love when a writer makes connections between her series. 

Helena Hunting’s Starry-Eyed Love offered me a respite from the world of adulting. It grabbed my attention and pulled me into the world of the Spark sisters. Jackson and London’s epilogue will make you swoon and offer hope that there is more for them in this starry world. 

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4.5 ⭐️ Review: Laney Hatcher’s Neanderthal Seeks Duchess, an Out of This World romance in the world of SmartyPants Romance ✍🏻

Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️

There is a gamble for an author to take a wildly popular story (or series) and reimagine it into a different sub-genre of romance. Laney Hatcher has led this charge in the SmartyPants Romance world. Decidedly crafting a new imprint, Out of This World, in her first story for SmartyPants Romance, she has deftly crafted Janey and Quinn Sullivan’s story from Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series into a historical romance. 

I’ll admit. I was nervous for her as I entered Neanderthal Seeks Duchess. There is something magical about our Knitting in the City ladies; however, if NSD is any indication, we need not worry, dear reader. In this newest book, she has married the best qualities of historical romance (the stricture of societal rules, the complications of falling in love for purpose or for love, the muted $exual tension) with the things we love about Penny Reid’s famous series (a quirky heroine, a sullen, alpha-type hero, a gaggle of women creating a found family, etc.). For me, Neanderthal Seeks Duchess was a page-turner and a story I hated to leave to adult in the “real world.” 

Jane is a woman having recently broken off her engagement when her fiance is written about in the ton’s gossip papers. Her father has turned his back on her, and her sisters had already abandoned her years earlier. Thankful for her friend Eliza who takes her in, she feels beholden to her and thus willingly accepts social invitations when she is certain she will be spurned by society due to her broken engagement. At one such engagement, she meets a mysterious man who ferrets her away when she aggressively and accidentally tears her dress. She feels an instant connection with this Lord Dashing, as she calls him. She believes she won’t see him again (thankfully, as it is scandalous to find a woman in a state of undress), and she has bigger issues: regaining the trust of the ladies for whom she’s been assisting in managing their households. Having lost this cottage industry for herself, she’s worried about her future, and she doesn’t want to rely more than she must on Eliza. When Lord Dashing, now formerly named Q for her, re-enters her life, he offers her an opportunity to figure out the books of a business he has recently purchased, a gambling hall. Ever protective of Jane, Q keeps his distance, but he is drawn to her. As Jane and Q fall deeper into love, Jane finds that Q has been holding secrets from her, and it potentially will affect their future. 

What does Laney Hatcher do so well in Neanderthal Seeks Duchess beyond infusing the essence of Penny Reid’s series into this book:

  1. The suspense of Q and Jane’s story keeps you in its thrall. 
  2. In the original stories from Penny Reid, Janey is incredibly quirky. In fact, for this reader, it sometimes seemed too much. Laney mutes this effectively for the genre of historical romance. It’s clear that Jane is different from the average lady of this time, but it seems right for this genre. 
  3. Jane’s journey is one grounded in feminism for this genre. Add in Q’s acceptance of her as a partner, not chattel, and Hatcher has written a story that is woman positive, continuing the trend for historical romances. Besides Jane’s want to continue working, there are other messages about one’s found family, especially given the desertion of her family in her life. 

Laney Hatcher’s Neanderthal Seeks Duchess is the ultimate promise of more delightful and intelligent stories in the Out of This World imprint. In fact, she treats you to a taste of book 2 at the end of NSD, and this reader cannot wait for more of it. 

In love and romance,

Professor A

✍🏻 Professor Romance’s 4 ⭐️ Review: Emma Lee Jayne’s Smart Mouth, a Work for It romance in the SmartyPants Romance world ✍🏻

Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Emma Lee Jayne’s Smart Mouth revisits the academic world of her first SmartyPants Romance tome, Heart Smart. Following Gwen, one of the doctoral students working in Dr. Max Ramsey’s laboratory, we are treated to a bit of a second chance romance between her and the former boy bander, Tomas Mendoza, who just so happens to be the twin brother of her best friend, maybe former best friend, James. 

There is so much to love about Smart Mouth, namely the focus on achieving women in the world of STEM and the debilitating nature of anxiety. You might think these walk hand-in-hand through this story; instead, each of Jayne’s characters, Gwen and Tom, characterize these plights. 

Much like in her first book, Gwen in all her brilliance is fairly awkward in her relationships. She’s had a long-standing friendship with James, albeit, in the aftermath of his marriage, their friendship has cooled. It has been almost a decade since Tom first laid eyes on Gwen, falling madly in love with her at first sight. Unfortunately, it appears to be unrequited, or so it seems. 

Gwen and Tom’s journey is a bungled one, fraught with the pitfalls of Tom’s anxiety and Gwen’s insecurity about herself in relationships. As these two reunite and Tom offers to help Gwen with the predicament of meeting men, these two fall into a world of misunderstandings and confusion. What’s clear, though, is their chemistry. Jayne crafts this dance between the two, one wanting more but thinking the other couldn’t possibly want the same. It’s delightfully choreographed intent on raising the anticipation of Jayne’s readers. When they finally connect physically, it’s combustible, ignited by years of denied feelings. The aftermath isn’t pretty, though. It takes much of the book for Gwen to accept that Tom could ever truly love her, given his notoriety. 

Tom is loveable, however, and Jayne makes it clear that he has pined for Gwen over the years. In fact, for me, Tom saves the book. Gwen has a tendency to be short-sighted. For someone so intelligent (a plus for her characterization), she lacks insight. Thankfully, Tom is resilient and tenacious. Add in the guys from his former boy band who act as his found family, and he’s the best part of this story. 

Besides the characterizations of Tom and Gwen, Jayne takes the space to focus on anxiety. Tom’s anxiety has been debilitating in the past, but Jayne points to therapy and mindfulness as the means to ameliorate his panic attacks. That she places this experience on the most “successful” of the two makes for a greater impact in the story. The intentionality of this provides the insight that anyone can be victimized by anxiety. 

And in an interesting manner, Emma Lee Jayne ends Smart Mouth rather poetically, no promises of extended epilogues or happily ever afters. It’s assumed, but it reads like a “happy for now” type of ending. I rather liked that part of the story, even though I can be a lover of extended endings. All in all, I enjoyed reading Smart Mouth. There is a simplicity to this story that drives you forward. Obviously, you hope that Gwen and Tom will find their happy ending, but their journey intrigues you all the same. 

In love and romance,

Professor A