Friday, November 17, 2017

Review & Spotlight for "The Monster Of Selkirk" by C.E. Clayton

Happy Friday Everyone! Today I'm very excited to share a new read for me, along with a new author I've had the privilege to discover. For more on my thoughts of The Monster of Selkirk, just keep reading. Suffice to say, this is one book you'll want to devour again and again. Be sure to follow along with the rest of the tour via Bewitching Book Tours for more of the story behind this compelling tale.

The Monster Of Selkirk

The Duality of Nature : Book 1

by C.E. Clayton

Monsters come in many forms, and not everyone knows a monster when they see one. After three hundred years of monstrous, feral elves plaguing the island nation of Selkirk, everyone believes they know what a monster is. Humans have learned to live with their savage neighbors, enacting a Clearing every four years to push the elves back from their borders. The system has worked for centuries, until after one such purge, a babe was found in the forest.

As Tallis grows, she discovers she isn't like everyone else. There is something a little different that makes people leery in her presence, and she only ever makes a handful of friends.

But when the elves gather their forces and emerge from the forests literally hissing Tallis's name like a battle mantra, making friends is the least of her troubles. Tallis and her companions find themselves on an unwilling journey to not only clear her name, but to stop the elves from ravaging her homeland.

Amazon | BN | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords | Goodreads

My Review

5 of 5 Stars

The Monster of Selkirk by C.E. Clayton really surprised me. I'm not sure what I was expecting from the premise, besides wicked elves and what sounded like a historical Scottish setting. What I found was a kick butt heroine who not only knows how to fight (thanks to her Knighted cousin), but a cast of colorful characters in a very grounded fantastical world. Selkirk is actually an island, largely forested, where the humans have kept elves at bay for hundreds of years. Ever since the elves went feral and lost their ability to speak intelligibly, humans have treated them like animals. They even host frequent clearings, destroying the elves homes and killing without mercy. So is it any wonder the elves might decide to fight back? 

Our main heroine, Tallis is somewhat unconventional from a small age. Her eyes are a little too big, her hair a little wild, but everyone seems willing to accept her as their own. Her village is poor but this doesn't stop Tallis from soaking in as much she can through books in the nearby abbey, learning how to fight from her cousin Donovan, and causing mischief whenever she gets the chance. From the beginning we can already see hints of what Tallis may become, but this doesn't detract in any way from each reveal. 

It's been a while since I've read a story that takes the time to give you backstory like this. As we grow up with Tallis, we are drawn deeper and deeper into Clayton's imagination until we feel every injustice she witnesses just as keenly. Besides Donovan, Tallis draws a makeshift family of her own through her pick-pocket friend Rosslyn and monk-in-training/inventor, Tomas. Everything is set up for a hero's journey and we know we will see these characters see Tallis through to the inevitable end. 

I can't say more without giving away spoilers for the book, but suffice to say, this was a privilege to read. Not only am I anxious to read the sequel, but I would highly recommend this series for fans of Shannara Chronicles and The Wheel of Time Series.

About the Author:

C. E. Clayton was born and raised in Southern California where she worked in the advertising industry for several years on accounts that ranged from fast food, to cars, and video games (her personal favorite). This was before she packed up her life, husband, two displeased cats, and one very confused dog and moved to New Orleans. Now, she is a full time writer (mainly in the fantasy genre), her cats are no longer as displeased, and her dog no longer confused.

More about C.E. Clayton, including her blog, book reviews, and poetry, can be found on her website:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mad Magic Blitz Tour with Xpresso Book Tours

Mad Magic
Nicole Conway
Published by: Month9Books
Publication date: November 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Mad Magic is a beautifully dark and rich Young Adult fantasy from Nicole Conway, bestselling author of the Dragonrider Chronicles.
Josie Barton is a high school student living in terror. Invisible creatures torment her everywhere she goes, constantly getting her into trouble at school, and even haunting her apartment. But just when Josie thinks things couldn’t get any worse . . . she meets the guy from across the hall.
Zeph Clemmont is a changeling with enemies in all the worst places, fighting to undo a curse that threatens to end his life. Survival means he will have to swallow his pride and trust Josie with all his darkest secrets.
With the help of a gun-slinging shaman and the enigmatic Prince of Nightmares, Zeph and Josie are only a heartbeat away from defeating one of the most diabolical faerie villains their world has ever known.

Book Excerpt


    “A weeping stone.” Eldrick was reading over my shoulder.

    His closeness made me jump in surprise. “A what?”

    “It goes back to our pilgrimage into your world,” he explained.
“A very, very long time ago, even before the first songs. Our kind
came into this world through an ancient gateway, fleeing from an
unspeakable terror that was ravaging our own realm. Our home had
become a place of darkness and fear—a place without moonlight.”

    My skin prickled. “What … kind of terror?”

    Memories flickered in the depths of his silver eyes. “There is no
word for them in the human language. We called them skiia—the
devourers. They cannot be bargained or reasoned with. Their only
motive is to drain every drop of magic they possibly can, and as they
do, they spread like a plague.”

    I swallowed and sank back in my seat.

    “We came here as refugees after our own world was overrun,”
Eldrick murmured. “Humankind looked upon us with awe and
adoration. We made our home here, eager to share this beautiful
world with you, but not before sealing away the ancient gateway so
that the evil destroying our own homeland would never find its way

    “The Fibbing Gate,” I whispered.

    Eldrick’s body shuddered at the name. “I was very young when
it happened. My memories of it have all but faded to nothing. In
that same way, such stories of the gateway have become myths. My
father told them to me as a child.” He ran one of his fingers over the
drawing on the page. “Weeping stones were said to guard it. They
stones are made of iron, which as you know has incredible power
against faerie magic, so that no one would ever be able to open it

    “Why would my dad be interested in it?”

    His expression steeled as he studied the page. “I don’t know,” he
finally admitted. “But there’s someone else who might.”

Author Bio

NICOLE CONWAY is an author from North Alabama. She graduated from Auburn University in 2012, and has previously worked as a graphic artist. She is happily married and has one son as well as a cat and a dog. She enjoys blogging, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Author's Playlist

“Shatter Me” (feat. Lzzy Hale) – Lindsey Stirling
 “Turn Me On”  – David Guetta & Nicki Minaj
 “Lights” (Bassnectar Remix) – Ellie Goulding
 “It Was Always You” – Maroon 5
 “Confident” (Deluxe Edition) – Demi Lovato
 “Closer” (feat. Halsey) – The Chainsmokers
 “Little Bad Girl” (feat. Taio Cruz & Ludacris) – David Guetta
 “Break Your Heart” – Taio Cruz & Ludacris
 “Break Free” (feat. Zedd) – Ariana Grande


Click on the link below for a chance to win a 
$25 gift card to any place of the winner's choosing:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Book Blitz & Review for Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Release Celebration for
Christmas Secrets
By Donna Hatch

Donna Hatch is bringing readers some sweet romance this holiday season...

Christmas Secrets
by Donna Hatch
Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 260 Pages
November 9th 2017 by Mirror Lake Press LLC

A stolen Christmas kiss leaves them bewildered and breathless. A charming rogue-turned-vicar, Will wants to prove that he left his rakish days behind him, but an accidental kiss changes all his plans. His secret could bring them together...or divide them forever.

Holly has two Christmas wishes this year; finally earn her mother's approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl, and learn the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss...even if that stranger is the resident Christmas ghost.


My Review

4 of 5 Stars

Christmas Secrets, a Regency-Era Romance by Donna Hatch, is a heart-warming historical fiction about family and forgiveness. The Christmas house party drama plays out like a well-staged romantic comedy, filled with misunderstandings and one very lovely ghost.

There are plenty of shades of Jane Austen to satisfy fans of the genre. Will Berry is as worthy a hero as any Knightly with the gravitas of Darcy. As the youngest child in my family, I connected with Holly's struggle to be the perfect daughter. But also appreciated how any major conflict between family members is overcome in light of the season. While the romance is very clean in line with the expectations of the era, simple moments like the touch of a hand become swoon-worthy.

It's been some time since an author made me believe their characters like this, but Donna Hatch writes it so beautifully I was quickly drawn into the idyllic past. My only criticism would be several typos near the beginning, but don't let this deter you from enjoying the story. Many of the tropes are familiar but this makes it almost more enjoyable when these characters do something unexpectedly lovely.

A delightful holiday read for anyone in need of a little sweet romance this season.

Exclusive Excerpt

This scene takes place when everyone on Christmas Day takes a turn kissing their spouse or sweetheart underneath the mistletoe ball. Now the group turn to Will and Holly, who have only known each other a few days, and start goading them into sharing a mistletoe kiss... 
“Come now, don’t be shy,” her sister called. “It’s tradition.”
The others called out encouragements.
Apology edged into Will’s uncertain expression. “Do you mind?”
Holly’s palms grew sweaty inside her gloves, and her smile probably came out wobbly. “Who are we to go against tradition?” Did she sound desperate in her desire to kiss him?
Will held out a hand. She placed hers in it and walked at his side to the kissing ball. They stood, hand in hand, facing each other. His neck cloth shifted as he swallowed. He leaned in. Her heart stumbled and her knees shook. She closed her eyes. Aching, she lifted her face. His cinnamon-spiced breath warmed her mouth.
He kissed her cheek.
Stunned, she opened her eyes. The watching guests groaned and some chuckled.
“No, no, that won’t do at all,” Joseph’s voice rang out. “Give her a proper kiss.”
Will froze. That intensity she occasionally saw in him returned. “Holly.” He swallowed again but instead of nervousness, a hunger that sent a flurry of shivers through her overtook his expression. “May I?”
She nodded. It didn’t matter if he saw how much she wanted this, wanted him. Let him know. Let the whole world know.
 He touched her chin, lifted it, and leaned in. Again, she closed her eyes. This time his lips touched hers, pliant and unbelievably gentle. Heat exploded at the contact and shot through her all the way down to her tingling toes. Different from her mystery kiss, this one sang of affection and respect and a deep longing to be accepted. Sweeter, more chaste, more filled with caring, Will’s kiss brought her a level of joy she’d never known. All the world faded away leaving Will and the power of his affection, his touch, his kiss. Every moment of her life seemed to have been designed to bring her to this single, perfect moment of bliss and wholeness.
“Ahem.” Father cleared his throat conspicuously.
Will pulled away all too quickly. A tiny sound of distress caught in Holly’s throat. It was over too soon. But oh, what a glorious kiss!

About the Author

Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty five years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Tour Giveaway


- 1 winner will receive a Mistletoe "Kissing Ball" Ornament, an ebook
of A Christmas Reunion or Mistletoe Magic (winner's choice) and some of Donna's favorite Christmas recipes
- Open to US/CAN only
- Ends November 13th

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#HoHoHo Readathon Updates & Challenges


Who would have thunk a Christmas readathon in November could be so much fun? Course, this could be the lonely working-from-home mom in me giddy over new friends + new books. But I think it's more than that. I think it's the Spirit of the Season already infecting me with each new page I turn. (also the classic holiday music playing in the background)

Below you'll find my reads & reviews two days into #HoHoHoRAT and my answers to some of the challenges. Stay tuned for more wintery loveliness!

Review for Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch

4 of 5 Stars

Christmas Secrets, a Regency-Era Romance by Donna Hatch, is a heart-warming historical fiction about family and forgiveness. The Christmas house party drama plays out like a well-staged romantic comedy, filled with misunderstandings and one very lovely ghost.

There are plenty of shades of Jane Austen to satisfy fans of the genre. Will Berry is as worthy a hero as any Knightly with the gravitas of Darcy. As the youngest child in my family, I connected with Holly's struggle to be the perfect daughter. But also appreciated how any major conflict between family members is overcome in light of the season. While the romance is very clean in line with the expectations of the era, simple moments like the touch of a hand become swoon-worthy.

It's been some time since an author made me believe their characters like this, but Donna Hatch writes it so beautifully I was quickly drawn into the idyllic past. My only criticism would be several typos near the beginning, but don't let this deter you from enjoying the story. Many of the tropes are familiar but this makes it almost more enjoyable when these characters do something unexpectedly lovely.

A delightful holiday read for anyone in need of a little sweet romance this season.

2nd Review for Her Heart's Secret Wish by Juliana Haygert

4 of 5 Stars

Note on Cover Art: I feel this could do with an updated design. While this photo fits the love and holiday themes, the people in it don't match their characters very well. 

2017 Review: 4 Stars

I re-read this as part of my #HoHoHoRAT challenge. It has been four years since I read this and my impression remains the same. Excellent characterization and holiday fluff piece. The theme was implied without being too over handed and the cute romance with shades of gaming lingo interspersed made it extra fun for me. Since I last read this I met and married a gamer so much that was lost in translation last time is clear as rain. All in all an easy light read rife with enough college nostalgia it literally carried me back to that special time in my early twenties when anything seems possible still, but especially at Christmas.

2013 Review: 5 Stars

I bought this book on a leap of faith and was not disappointed. 'Her Heart's Secret Wish'
is a short but juicily sweet piece of fluff fiction, with enough weight to keep it grounded in reality. Haygert manages to throw you into her characters' lives and convince you they're living and breathing. Loved the seasonal theme and setting, which were handled exceptionally without too much cheese. A lovely holiday treat, both in and out of season.


I participated in the "Make a Sentence From Your List" Mini Challenge, hosted by Reviews by Martha. Basically we had to come up with a sentence using words from our book list titles. I chose to use my #hohohorat books because I like keeping in theme ;) Here are my results! Can you make a better sentence? 

HoHoHoRAT List

1. Shore Lights (Paradise Point #1) by Barbara Bretton
2. Billionaire For Christmas by Claire Adams
3. Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch
4. Her Heart's Secret Wish by Juliana Haygert
5. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis


Her Billionaire Lion of Christmas Paradise Wish  for the Secret Wardrobe by the Narnia Shore Lights.

Stay tuned for future updates and challenge fun, and don't forget you can follow the #HoHoHoRAT fun on Twitter using the hashtag! 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review of A Court of Wings & Ruin by S.J. Maas

A month or so ago, one of my online besties, Nada and I were talking about A Court of Mist & Fury and how we just genuinely adored it, and SJM for her talent for transcending her own series'. A Court of Wings & Ruin had already been sitting on my bookshelf for a few months by that point. I just hadn't gotten around to it yet, so I proposed, once she finished ACOMF that we form a mini-book-club and read Wings & Ruin. All the years I've been an avid reader I've always done it solo. But it was so much fun reading with someone and being able to fangirl over silly little details while we read. We exchanged theories for how we thought the book would end, while also dreading the inevitable end. 

I don't know about you, but I love the Court books by SJM. I've read all the Throne of Glass books and while I adore the epic scope of them, there's just something about the Court books and Feyre's character that I resonated with more. They've been my favorite SJM books so far. So I was beyond ecstatic when I learned there wouldn't just be more novels in the same world she had created for us, but multiple novellas as well. 

My Official Review

4 of 5 Stars

The epic conclusion of the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy is rife with intrigue, adventure, romance and a battle between gods and souls that will have you on the edge of your seat. 

Favorite moments in the book included all the big Game of Thrones-esque moments between the High Courts. The face-off between opposing forces, Autumn vs. Night, pretty much everyone vs. Night for that matter. Words and magic both come into play in greater measure. Whereas Feyre spent most of ACOTAR dazzled by Tamlin and the Spring Court's beauty, and ACOMAF seduced and romanced by the wonder of Rhys and his Court of Dreams, in this latest installment she comes to terms with herself and her magic. Where before she was uncertain of her place in the Fae world, or if she even wanted a place among them, now she finds the courage to claim her power. 

Central themes to this book are not being afraid of who you are meant to be, to accept both the bad with the good and to savor every moment with the family you are born into and choose. I loved how the Night Court finally revealed their true selves to the other Courts. Much of this book was about unveiling the masks we wear to protect ourselves and others. I loved the fact Nesta and Feyre finally lowered their guard enough to truly be sisters again, and how Elaine overcame her trauma in surprising ways.

Big favorite moments for me included Lucien and Feyre's journey, the library chase, every scene with the Bone Carver and the ancients. While the Rhys/Feyre romance is still strong in this book, it takes something of a back seat as the war looms over Prythian. Instead we have a lot of Nesta and Cassian teasers. For me, I would have loved to see some real Lucien/Elaine bonding, but while I enjoyed the romance elements in this series, I wasn't disappointed with the lack-of. What I would have enjoyed more of was a little less Courts and more adventuring. Several times side characters leave on their own adventures and part of me wanted to go with them instead of more research and talking with Feyre. Although Helion was a pure delight and the Bone Carver had me wishing Feyre would steal him away and adopt him into the Night Court. And Amren continued to be both the most surprising and fun character to read. I wasn't satisfied with the results of the battle for reasons I won't mention due to spoilers.

It is difficult to write or review the third book in a trilogy because it is impossible to satisfy everyone. While there were many elements I would have rather seen SJM leave off or do differently, I can't say I didn't love this book, in spite of its flaws. I loved the beauty and ugliness of the world SJM wove. And I would be lying if I said I didn't just go and pre-order the novella companion. Excited for more adventures and fresh perspectives as we explore more stories from the Court of Thorns and Roses universe.

*Spoilers Ahead Mates*

Things I liked / didn't like:

Sunday, November 5, 2017

2017 HoHoHo Readathon Goals

It's been years since I "book blogged" (if that could be considered a term lol) or participated in any big blogger events, with fellow bloggers. How many times did I say blogger in one sentence? Never mind...What you definitely will be excited to learn, is I've joined Caffeinated Reviewer's HoHoHo Readathon! What it is? To quote Kimberly:

It’s that time of year when the holiday and winter-themed books hit the bookshelves. It’s also time for the Fifth Annual HoHoHo Holiday/Winter Readathon! hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer.  Gather up your favorite cocoa, comfort foods, holiday music and books and join in the fun!
This years event will run from Wednesday, November 8th through Wednesday, November 15th at 11:59 pm. During the event, you can participate in challenges, win prizes, meet new friends and join the Twitter party. You can participate for a day or cozy up by the fire and hang out every day. The more you participate the more entries you will earn for the Participant Giveaway

Sounds fun, right? I've spent a part of today thinking about Holiday and winter-themed books I want to read. I wanted just the right blend between the more "trashy fluff" and "wholesome" stories. So I have added a couple I read years ago with the rest newbies by some authors I fancy. Here's my list:

Have y'all rounded up your Holiday reading list yet? Maybe try a couple of these fun reads :) Meanwhile, I'll see y'all at the Readathon! #hohohorat

P.S. If you'd like to follow my progress on Goodreads, click on the linky thing below:

my 2017-hohoho-readathon shelf:

Jennifer's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (2017-hohoho-readathon shelf)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Book Blitz! "This is Not a Werewolf Story" by Sandra Evans

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Blitz for
This is Not a Werewolf Story
By Sandra Evans

This Middle Grade Fantasy is perfect for Halloween! Full of fun and mystery, and set at a boarding school where everything isn't quite as it seems. Read the excerpt and enter the giveaway below...

This Is Not a Werewolf StoryThis is Not a Werewolf Story
by Sandra Evans
Middle Grade Fantasy
Hardcover & ebook, 352 pages
July 26th 2016 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This is the story of Raul, a boy of few words, fewer friends, and almost no family. He is a loner—but he isn’t lonely. All week long he looks after the younger boys at One Of Our Kind Boarding School while dodging the barbs of terrible Tuffman, the jerk of a gym teacher. 

Like every other kid in the world, he longs for Fridays, but not for the usual reasons. As soon as the other students go home for the weekend, Raul makes his way to a lighthouse deep in the heart of the woods. There he waits for sunset—and the mysterious, marvelous phenomenon that allows him to go home, too. But the woods have secrets . . . and so does Raul. When a new kid arrives at school, they may not stay secret for long.


Chapter 1

This is the chapter where the new kid runs so fast, Raul decides to talk 

New kid. New kid. The words fly around the showers and sinks. I can almost see them, flying up like chickadees startled from the holly tree in the woods.

All the boys are in the big bathroom on the second floor, washing up before breakfast. The littlest kids stand on tiptoe to peek out the windows that look onto the circle driveway.

I pick Sparrow up and hold him so he can see. He’s the littlest of the littles but the kid is dense--like a ton of bricks.

I can’t believe my eyes. No kid has ever come to the school on the back of a Harley. Not in all the years I’ve been here, and I’ve been here longer than anyone. The driver spins the back wheel and a bunch of gravel flies up.

The new kid is holding onto the waist of the driver. He must have a pretty good grip because the driver looks over his shoulder and tries to peel the kid’s fingers away one by one. Then the driver takes off his helmet. We all gasp, because it turns out the driver is a lady with long straight black hair.  

Next to me Mean Jack whistles. “What a doll!”

Mean Jack thinks he’s a mobster. A made man, that’s what he calls himself. I call him a numbskull, but not out loud.

About the Author

Sandra Evans is a writer and teacher from the Pacific Northwest. Her forthcoming middle grade novel, This is Not a Werewolf Story (Simon & Schuster July 2016), was inspired by her favorite 12th century French tale, Bisclavret, by Marie de France. Born in Washington state, Sandra spent her childhood on U.S. Navy bases from Florida to Hawaii, and returned to the Northwest as a teenager. Since then, she has lived and traveled in France and Europe, but has never strayed far for long from the Puget Sound region.

Blitz Giveaway

2 winners will receive a print copy of THIS IS NOT A WEREWOLF STORY plus Swag
Open to UK and US entrants
Ends October 31st

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

October Book Fair ~ Sample These Titles!

Welcome to the October Book Fair!

This month's book fair features She Walks in Moonlight, among other genre titles. Click on the pic above to browse!We have tons of books to choose from (MOST price $0.99-$2.99 for at least part of the duration of the fair.) We’ve separated the books by genre to make browsing easier. The following genres are available this month:

Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Paranormal Romance/SciFi romance

Romance & Women’s Fiction

Young Adult

SciFi, Space Fantasy & Dystopian

Mystery, Thriller, or Horror

We hope you’ll find some books here to enjoy this coming month! Happy reading trails!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

She Walks in Moonlight ~ "An enthralling second chance love story"

Globetrotter, Danica Pavlova spends her days scouring old folktales and her nights trying to forget her life is anything but a fairy tale. Ten years ago, she ran away from her best friend the night after causing his crippling accident, convinced Adam King was better off not loving her. 

But when her brother is diagnosed with leukemia, she resolves to come home to care for the family she abandoned and face the love she never forgot. Will she find forgiveness for the mistakes of her past, or can there be a second chance for a woman who walks in moonlight?

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’ “Me Before You” and John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”, She Walks in Moonlight explores both redemption and romance in the face of tragedy.

*Warning-Contains Adult Situations & Some Language*





Listen to my inspiration behind “She Walks in Moonlight.” Music, art and literature inspire us to create and make us feel. While I normally listen to movie scores while writing, for my contemporary romance I wanted to listen to music that would give our characters their “voice.” Hope you enjoy!

 swim playlist


I set about writing this novel as a challenge to myself and a joke. While I do enjoy the contemporary romance genre, I often have laughed at the melodrama and tropes. So I thought writing She Walks in Moonlight would be easy. I even planned on hamming up the more heated moments and didn’t take the romance seriously. Until I started writing it and discovered the real story.

Danica’s story as the fallen girl who just wants to come home, who is just looking for a second chance, started to hit home for me. Especially once her big brother, Peter, makes his life-changing phone call. What started as a simple second-chances romance soon became so much more. This story captured my heart and has taught me so much along the way. Also, coincidentally, while writing and sharing chapters of this story with my beta reader, her parents were diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly the struggles Danica and Peter and their family go through became personal to me. Which is why I wanted to dedicate this novel to Melissa and her family.

To all the families who have lost loved ones, who sit at their parent’s and sibling’s and loved one’s bedsides, hoping and praying they get well. To those who have lost hope in their lives, don’t ever give up. Live each day one breath at a time and love with everything you have. There is always room for second chances, to right wrongs, and to come home. This book belongs to you.


I had spent so long wrapped in my selfish wants and desires that I forgot to care for someone else. It wasn’t something I’d planned on happening, but by the time I realized the truth, it was almost too late. The person I had always taken for granted, the boy I had tried so hard not to love, was dying.

I ran the entire way to his house, through backfields. I hopped two barbed-wire fences, tearing holes in my shirt. My Converse sneakers and the hems of my flared blue jeans were soon covered in mud, but I kept running. My lungs burned from lack of oxygen, thanks to a lack of practice. But if I was honest with myself, I hadn’t been able to breathe properly for the past three hours. A pressure clawed its way up my chest, the same weight that had settled in the moment the phone rang. Because I already knew what had happened. My older brother, Peter, wasn’t aware I was the indirect cause of the accident. He didn’t know Adam wouldn’t have been out in the first place if he hadn’t been looking for me.

Please wait for me, I prayed. Adam didn’t know I was a liar, and I had to tell him the truth.

I almost collapsed the moment I caught sight of his family’s two-story, white-board farmhouse. I focused on the soft yellow light shining from his bedroom window upstairs as I hopped the picket fence around his front yard.

I fell against the front door, panting as I lifted a hand to pound on its cruel surface. I needed to see Adam, to feel his hand in mine. I stumbled when the door gave way to a familiar, albeit haggard, face. My heart fell into my stomach at the sight of Adam’s big sister, Hailey. Her mouth twisted as she recognized me, and I felt the full weight of the bad blood between us. Hailey had dated my brother Peter off and on for the last few years. She had never been a fan of mine.

“Please, Hailey,” I gasped and braced a hand on the doorpost.

Her green eyes narrowed, and she crossed her arms over her chest. “Haven’t you done enough already?”

My heart sank, while my mind screamed at me, your fault! She was right, and I couldn’t argue with her. I looked at the familiar front porch and tried to think of something. I could climb the lattice to reach his window. We had sneaked in and out of his bedroom plenty of times growing up. I could sleep on the porch until they let me in. Peter would understand, and he would confront Hailey if I called and asked him to. My hand reached in my jeans pocket for my flip phone, when another voice called from the hallway, “Hailey, who is it?”

I peered over Hailey’s golden-crowned head and tensed when Ms. King stepped into view. She still wore her hospital scrubs, and I wondered if she had been on duty when Adam was brought in. Her pale-blue eyes were worn and so sad that I couldn’t look up at them too long before staring down at my muddy Converse.

“Danica?” Ms. King’s voice was filled with compassion and, to my shock, relief. I looked up again to find the same warm smile that filled some of the gap my mother had torn open. Her plump hand came to rest on Hailey’s narrow shoulder, and she spoke firmly to her daughter without breaking eye contact with me. “I’m so glad you’re here. He’s been asking for you every time he wakes up. He was worried sick until Peter confirmed you were safe at home.”

Your fault, I thought. If Adam hadn’t been so worried about me, he never would have gotten in that vehicle to come after me.

Hailey continued to watch me with a poisonous glare as she stepped aside. Ms. King reached out for me, and I bit my lip before rushing into her arms. Her embrace was almost too tight, but I wasn’t complaining. I pushed off my muddy shoes onto the foyer floor before following her the rest of the way inside.

“Dr. McMorries let me bring him home, thank God. The hospital couldn’t take care of him any better than we can. And I want him to be as comfortable as possible while he recovers,” she explained to me while guiding me up the hardwood stairs.

I knew some of this story already, thanks to Peter. Ms. King was a physician’s assistant with more than enough experience in emergency situations. Hailey worked as a registered nurse at the hospital as well, so Ms. King wasn’t lying when she said they could provide the best care. Still, I was impressed they let her bring Adam home.

Maybe his injuries aren’t as bad as we thought?

“The jeep was totaled, of course. And he’s not out of the woods yet, but it could have been a lot worse.”

“How bad?” I asked.

Again, she attempted a careworn smile as she put her hand on his bedroom door. “We aren’t sure if he’ll be able to walk again, Danica.” She pushed open the door and shut it behind me as I walked in alone.

Shadows tipped the atmosphere to match my mood. Instead of seeing Adam’s band posters and a smattering of my artwork, all I could focus on was the broken boy lying in the twin bed under soft lamplight. I wrapped my arms over my chest to keep from throwing myself at him. His eyes were squeezed shut, hiding the beautiful color I loved. His summer-tanned skin was a winter pale now, from loss of blood, no doubt. I sank to my knees beside his bed and bit my nails to keep my fingers to themselves. His chest rose and fell in unsteady gasps.

I laid my head on the duvet and drank in the familiar scent and whispered, “I’m so sorry.” As my eyes fluttered shut, my fingers found his, and I imagined that his squeezed mine just as strongly back.

“Dani, I know things are going to change when we get to college. I’ve thought about it a lot, and I want us to stay close.” Adam paused and took my hand in his.

When did he get so much taller than I was? And why was he always so warm no matter how cold I felt on the inside? The look in his eyes…

“Adam,” I began but froze when he took a step even closer.

“Dani, I’m not one of those guys, you know. I’m not going to drop you just so I can date a bunch of other girls. That’s not what I want.”

“Adam, please listen to me. I need to tell you…” My words trailed off before I could say it. It was the reason I came over here with Adam after Caleb’s party. Every time I tried to tell him, the words were banished by the way he held my hand, the way he smiled only for me.

“I’ve wanted to tell you this for so long, Dani.” He took in a deep breath, the light in his eyes growing with his courage.

“Adam…” I couldn’t stand the hope in his eyes, the need, or the way my body was responding to him. 

“Adam, I’m going to St. Petersburg in two weeks.” I watched in horror as the glow in his beautiful eyes dulled, and like the masochist I was, I kept hurting the both of us.

“Adam,” I moaned in my sleep, and a hand squeezed mine in response. I opened my eyes and blinked against the light bleeding through the window blinds. The golden rays seemed to hold me, envelop me, and I snuggled closer to the comforting heat, only for my heat source to groan in pain.

I would have fallen out of Adam’s bed had he not kept a secure arm around my waist.

“Adam!” My hands fluttered over his exposed and partially bandaged torso. Guilt and self-hatred ate away all the warmth I might have felt in his arms. I wasn’t sure how I had ended up in his bed last night and was surprised his mom and sister let me stay.

“I am so sorry!” I bit my lip to keep from telling him everything else. In the light of day, the truth was even harder to confess. I couldn’t even look him in the eye, just stared at the bandages wrapped around his head. “I don’t know how I ended up in your bed,” I continued. “I swear I fell asleep on the floor. I came as soon as I heard…”

Despite everything I had put him through, despite the verbal lashing I deserved, Adam offered a pale grin instead. His voice was scratchy from disuse. “You think I was about to let you sleep on the floor?”

“Oh, guess that answers that question.” I ducked my head and held my breath when he reached up to tuck a stray black curl behind my ear.

“I’m really glad you came, Dani. I was worried when you tore out of here like you did last night. I don’t know what I’d do if something had happened to you.”

I was haunted by what he didn’t say. It drove me over the edge. “Adam! Don’t you dare pretend this whole thing isn’t my fault.”

He frowned. “What are you saying?”

“It’s my fault!” I slapped my palm on the bed between us. My Russian accent thickened the more my emotions took over. “I didn’t want to deal, so I just ran! I’m such a coward…” Tears made his visage blurred. I didn’t want to look. I wanted to get up and run out of his room just like before.

Don’t be a coward again, Zvezda Danica Pavlova, my conscience demanded.

I barely registered that he was pulling me onto his broken form as I sobbed, “I—almost—killed you last—night!”

“Shh… it’s okay, sweetie,” he whispered, and I clung to him, even though he winced. He held me just as tightly, and I closed my eyes, wanting to believe him when he said, “I came after you because I love you and because you love me.”

Part of me wanted to deny it. I couldn’t say anything, though. I came here to tell him the truth, to tell him I had lied out of my ass last night when I’d tried to crush every feeling he felt for me. Tried and failed.

“Adam,” I sighed, “I shouldn’t have thrown all that back in your face. The things I said to you… I can’t believe I said I hated you.”

“Forget it. Let’s just forget last night, please? You’re here now, Dani.” He reached down to tip my chin up to meet his gaze, and this time, I couldn’t hide from his electric-blue eyes. “That’s all that matters.”

I couldn’t be sure whether I reached up or he bent down, but somehow our lips met. Maybe it was chemical, two opposing forces coming together. In that moment, we were in perfect sync. The kiss began chastely, but this changed when his hand reached inside my T-shirt and his callouses grazed my bare skin. Then there was too much space between us, and we pressed and molded together in our effort to expel it. I thought I had known passion before with the guys I dated. Adam was enigmatic, despite his bruising and stitches and the fact that he may never walk again.

I gasped, afraid I would hurt him and attempted to tell him so. He grimaced as I tried pulling away and groaned as he pulled me roughly back to him.

Soon we were way past the point of no return now, even past the point I had been with other guys before. Despite our school’s insistence that I was “easy,” I was anything but. Something always held me back from getting too close, and I knew that for a fact Adam hadn’t gone past second base. I had kept up a steady string of boyfriends through high school, but Adam had barely gotten past the first date. He’d always claimed something just didn’t connect, but I knew there was more to it. I knew by the way he would always come back to me why no girl could get her slutty claws in him.

“Dani…” he breathed against my lips, eyes shut, brow uplifted. My own eyes blinked open, and reality sank in the moment he looked up at me with both pleasure and pain. “Please,” he whispered, and I nodded. He couldn’t move his legs, but I could move for the both of us.

We moved together until my vision blackened and blurred with bursts of color and light. We suppressed our cries against each other’s shoulders, and afterward, he held and caressed me. The light in his cerulean-blue orbs was a perfect blend of hope, male pride, and tenderness that I wanted to bask in forever.

“Love you, Morning Star,” he whispered against my forehead, and suddenly, all my old feelings of guilt and dread filled me to the point of suffocation. After his breathing slowed and evened, I slipped from beneath his covers and pulled my pants up with trembling hands. I listened to the cold, dark voice in my head that had warned me this would happen, that knew he would never let me go after this.

You will only hurt him and leave him, just like your mother, the voice said.

Because I was scared of myself and even more scared of Adam’s love, I walked out his front door that day and didn’t look back.

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer Silverwood