Thursday, November 29, 2018

Book Review - Lock, Stock, and Jingle Bells

ABOUT THE BOOK


Holly hates the yuletide season more than ever since she received her very early inheritance: her mother’s Christmas novelty store. Now she has to put her life on hold to deal with the shop, while her parents settle into their busy sunny Florida retirement. But Holly’s childhood pal, Sean, is determined to warm her up—to Christmas and to him. When they uncover a diary concealing secrets involving both their families, this could be the Christmas that changes their lives forever …

REVIEW

I enjoyed this this story much more than the first book in the series of novellas.  It's like a second chance romance that neve really had a first chance.  Because it's a novella the story moves quickly but the pace actually works until the end, and like the first, its the mystery that trips me up.  I get what Kauffman is trying to do with these books but I think they would work okay as stand-alone holiday romances without having the secondary mystery as well and probably be better books for it.


OVERALL RATING - 4.5 STARS!
MATURITY RATING - 18+ a little steamy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Donna Kauffman is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over 70 novels, translated and sold in more than 26 countries around the world. The recipient of multiple RT Book Awards, she is also a National Readers Choice Award and PRISM Award winner and a RITA finalist. Born into the maelstrom of Washington, D.C., politics, she now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she is surrounded by a completely different kind of wildlife. A contributing blogger for USAToday.com, she is also a DIYer, a baker, a gardener and a volunteer transporter for the Wildlife Center of Virginia and Rockfish Sanctuary. Please visit her online at www.DonnaKauffman.com.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Book Review - Unleashed (A Hamilton Christmas Novella) by Donna Kauffman

ABOUT THE BOOK


When Emma Lafferty is hired by a billionaire CEO to watch his pets over the holidays, she expects to enjoy a quiet Christmas in opulent surroundings. What she doesn’t expect is to spend the week trapped in the mansion with Trevor Hamilton, the CEO’s sexy great-nephew—and heir—whose motives are as shady as his desire is crystal clear …

REVIEW


I'm conflicted on this story.  I love the romance portion of this story about two strangers trapped together in an ice storm who are drawn together.  I don't, however, love the mystery portion of the book.  I realize that it is the first of a three-part series of novellas that will I assume resolve in the final story, but I kind of don't care and at the same time am annoyed that it is left unresolved at the end of this book.  I don't generally like cliffhangers, so that may why I have an issue here.  I plan to read the novella because I expect to find another great romance and hopefully get drawn more into the mystery as well.


OVERALL RATING - 4 STARS!
MATURITY RATING - 18+ a little steamy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Donna Kauffman is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over 70 novels, translated and sold in more than 26 countries around the world. The recipient of multiple RT Book Awards, she is also a National Readers Choice Award and PRISM Award winner and a RITA finalist. Born into the maelstrom of Washington, D.C., politics, she now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she is surrounded by a completely different kind of wildlife. A contributing blogger for USAToday.com, she is also a DIYer, a baker, a gardener and a volunteer transporter for the Wildlife Center of Virginia and Rockfish Sanctuary. Please visit her online at www.DonnaKauffman.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Book Review - Chasing Shadows (First Wives Book 3) by Catherine Bybee

ABOUT THE BOOK

Falling in love can come with the most unexpected risks in this First Wives novel from New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee.
Avery Grant doesn’t date. Her first marriage was a mutually beneficial contract that gave her the financial freedom she needed to step away from her controlling parents. Wealthy and single, the last thing she’s looking for is love sneaking in to mess up her life plans. And after a brutal attack, she’s determined to never be vulnerable again, even if the new man in her life helps her feel safe.
Mesmerized from the moment he sets his eyes on Avery, Liam is driven to learn everything about this tough, sexy, challenging woman. Breaking down her defenses won’t be easy, but Liam refuses to be pushed away. All he needs is a tiny crack in Avery’s armor to wiggle his way into her heart.
But when a terrifying lie about her attacker’s fate comes to light, Avery’s past returns to haunt her. Now she’s willing to put herself in danger to get the answers she needs. That means jeopardizing the best thing that’s ever happened to her: Liam.

REVIEW


Catherine Bybee is one of the top authors of writing romantic comedies.  What I love about this story is how Liam acclimates into the crazy First Wives Club world.  He realizes quickly that he is a fish out of water and rolls with it with a poise that would not be expected from many.  I just loved how normal he was, living with his sister and interacting with his niece.  He isn't a rock star, or a private detective, or a millionaire, and I loved seeing how that kind of character fit into this world.  I also thought Bybee did a great job showing how the events of the previous books impacted Avery.  I am loving this series so much and I also love that each book is stand-alone where I'm not held in suspense until the next one comes out, but at the same time build in a way I wouldn't suggest jumping in partway through.


OVERALL RATING - 5 STARS!
MATURITY RATING - 18+ a little steamy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Review - The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

ABOUT THE BOOK


"There is so much to relate to and throughout the novel, there is a sharp feminist edge. Loved this one, and you will too."--Roxane Gay, New York Timesbestselling author

The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn't turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own...


When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise--or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part--they've only been dating for five months, and he can't even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans...

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik's rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up--in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...

REVIEW

This was a fun story for so many reasons.  First of all, Nikole and Carlos are great characters that are not anywhere near perfect but are relatable.  Their chemistry is just as much on the friend level as it is on the sexual level which makes them even more interesting.  What makes them unique in the romance world is that they are both minorities.  I love how Jasmine Guillory doesn't make the story about this but still makes it a part of the story organically just like it would happen in a real life relationship.  I would definitely read more books by this author and would recommend this to anyone looking for a romance that is a little different and character driven.


OVERALL RATING - 4 STARS!
MATURITY RATING - 18+ a little steamy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Jasmine Guillory is a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law School. She is a Bay Area native who has towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Book Review - Why Not Tonight by Susan Mallery

ABOUT THE BOOK


Description


REVIEW

Happily Inc is such a quirky little town with its own charm but it was nice to get away from the town and get to know Ronan.  Ronan is the last brother in the Mitchell family not to settle down with a partner and also happens to be the one most impacted by his parent's secret about his paternity.  His story has intrigued me since this story was introduced back in the Fool Gold series. I was not at all disappointed and was surprised to find he was not the brooding recluse at heart that he appeared from the outside.  I loved watching the story develop as Natalie helped bring out the old Ronan and how they worked together to mend the broken relationships he had with his family.

This book is absolutely part of a series and not recommended to be read as a stand alone.


OVERALL RATING - 4 STARS!
MATURITY RATING - 18+ a little steamy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She's known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Blog Tour - Five Years Gone by Marie Force


Today we are celebrating the release of FIVE YEARS GONE, a romantic standalone title by New York Times Bestselling author Marie Force. Check out some teasers and an excerpt for the book below.

 

FIVE YEARS GONE by Marie Force

Available Now

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The most brazen terrorist attack in history. A country bent on revenge. A love affair cut short. A heart that never truly heals.

I knew on the day of the attack that our lives were changed forever. What I didn’t know then was that I’d never see John again after he deployed. One day he was living with me, sleeping next to me, making plans with me. The next day he was gone.
That was five years ago. The world has moved on from that awful day, but I’m stuck in my own personal hell, waiting for a man who may be dead for all I know. At my sister’s wedding, I meet Eric, the brother of the groom, and my heart comes alive once again.
The world is riveted by the capture of the terrorist mastermind, brought down by U.S. Special Forces in a daring raid. Now I am trapped between hoping I’ll hear from John and fearing what’ll become of my new life with Eric if I do.
From a New York Times bestselling author, Five Years Gone, a standalone contemporary, is an epic story of love, honor, duty, unbearable choices and impossible dilemmas.

PURCHASE IT NOW!

Kindle US | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google

PURCHASE IN AUDIO: Amazon | Audible US | Audible UK | Audible AU

Read this excerpt from Five Years Gone.
Prologue Ava We met in a bar, of all places, a dingy hole-in-the-wall favored by military members from the nearby Navy base in San Diego. I went with a friend from school who was interested in one of the military guys. Before that night, I’d never been there, and I’ve never been back. John was celebrating the promotion of one of his buddies. He crashed into me as I left the ladies’ room and kept me from falling by grabbing my arms to steady me. Just like in the movies, our eyes met, and my spine tingled with the kind of instantaneous awareness I’d only read about but never experienced personally. “I’m so sorry,” he said, gorgeous and fierce in his fatigues. I noticed gold on his collar, a hint of late-day scruff on his jaw and the name WEST in bold black letters on his chest. Intense electric-blue eyes made it impossible for me to look away, even when I was safely back on my feet. “Are you all right?” he asked. Realizing I’d been staring at him, I blinked and reluctantly broke the connection. “I… Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for the save.” And then he smiled, and the tingling began anew. “I’m John.” I shook his outstretched hand. “Ava.” Keeping his hold on my hand, he tipped his head. “You come here often?” “Never,” I said, laughing. “I’m a first-timer.” “What do you think so far?” “I wasn’t impressed until about thirty seconds ago.” As if he had all the time in the world to give me, he leaned against the wall. “Is that right? What happened thirty seconds ago?” I thought about taking back my hand but didn’t. “I was saved from certain disaster by a man in uniform.” “The guy in the uniform is the reason you needed saving in the first place, because he wasn’t watching where he was going. Least he can do is buy you a drink.” “I wouldn’t say no to that.” I was proud of my witty responses and got the feeling he could more than hold his own in the wittiness department. Across the crowded room, I noticed my friend talking to the guy she’d come to see, and her brows lifted in interest when she saw me with John. He guided me to the bar, placing a proprietary hand on my lower back, and told one of the guys to give me his stool. “Yes, sir.” The younger man bowed gallantly to me as he took his beer and moved along. “Do people always do what you say?” “If they know what’s good for them.” His teasing grin kept the comment from being overly cocky. “What can I get you?” Deciding to live dangerously for once, I asked for a cosmopolitan. “Go big or go home,” he said with admiration. “That’s my motto.” I was so full of shit. I wondered if he could tell I was all talk or what he’d think of me if he knew I usually err much closer to the side of caution than the wild side. I wondered if he could tell I was just barely old enough to drink. I’d turned twenty-one only six months earlier. When my cosmo and his Budweiser had been delivered, he offered a toast. “To new friends.” I touched my glass to his bottle. “To new friends.” “So, where’re you from, Ava?” “New York.” “I thought I heard New Yawk in your voice.” I batted my eyelashes at him. “So four years at the University of California San Diego didn’t scrub the New York out of me?” Laughing, he said, “Hardly. I know some guys from New York. One of them is from Staten Island, which is about as New York as it gets. I know New York when I hear it.” “I’m from Purchase, upstate from the city. What about you?” “I’m from all over. My old man is a retired general. You name it, I’ve lived there.” “Where’s home?” “Right here.” He turned that intense gaze on me, and I went stupid in the head. I couldn’t see anything but him. We might as well have been alone in the crowded bar for all I knew. Unlike my friend, who loved men in uniform, I was never turned on by the uniform. Until then. Until John. “You want to get out of here?” I swallowed hard. It wasn’t like me to leave a bar with a man I’d just met. “And go where?” “Somewhere we can talk.” “What do you want to talk about?” He leaned in so his lips were close to my ear. “Everything. I want to know every single thing there is to know about you.”   That’s how we started. We were intense from the first second we met until the last time I saw him five years ago today. I can’t believe it’s been five years since I looked into those incredible blue eyes or woke to him on the pillow next to me or heard his voice in my ear, whispering words that’re permanently carved into my heart as he made love to me. The worst part is I have no idea where he is. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, being held captive or if he’s living his life somewhere else with someone else. I don’t know, and the not knowing is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. I love him as much today as I ever did. No amount of time could ever change that simple fact of my life. We had two beautiful, magnificent years together, caught up in our own little bubble. He never met my family. I never met his. We didn’t make couple friends. We didn’t talk about the future. We didn’t need to. Our future was decided that first night, and it would take care of itself in due time. I honestly and naïvely believed that. Now, with hindsight, I realize the bubble was strategic on his part. He gave me everything he had to give, including no promise of tomorrow. Five years ago today, we watched the horror unfold on live television. A US-based cruise ship blown up by suicide bombers. Four thousand lives extinguished in a heartbeat. Our world permanently changed once again, our country declaring yet another war on terrorists. After 9/11 we thought we’d seen everything. We were wrong. “I have to go,” he said, grabbing the duffel that stood ready in the front hall closet. He called it his “go bag.” I’d thought nothing of it. “Where’re you going?” “I don’t know.” “When will you be back?” “I don’t know that either.” He held my face in his hands and gazed at me, seemingly trying to memorize my every feature. “I love you. I’ll always love you.” Then he kissed me as passionately as he ever had and was gone, out the door in a flash of camouflage. I never saw him again. I’m not his wife or even his fiancée, so no one notified me of his whereabouts. And three months after he left, when I found a way onto the base in a desperate quest for information, no one there could tell me anything either. I tried to locate his parents and other people he mentioned, but it was like they didn’t exist. I could find no record of a retired general named West in the Marine Corps, Army or Air Force. Furthermore, an exhaustive search for information on the John West I had known led nowhere. No high school, no college, no military service, no nothing. Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed the two years we spent together, doing mundane things like grocery shopping, cooking, watching TV and sleeping together after long days at work. But then I’d remember the blissful passion, the scorching pleasure, the desire that ruled us from the beginning, and I’d know I didn’t dream him. I didn’t dream us. We were real, and he was everything to me. Sitting on the floor in our apartment, surrounded by boxes, I take a few minutes before the movers arrive to memorize every detail of the place where we lived together. I’ve packed his things along with mine, and I’m moving home to New York. Today was my deadline. I gave it five years, and I simply can’t do it anymore. I can’t sit in our home among our things, waiting for something that’s never going to happen. It’s over. It’s time for me to move on. It’s probably long past time, if I’m being honest with myself. And though I know it’s the right move at the right time, that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t shattering all over again as I dismantle the place where we were us. My sister is getting married next month. I promised her I’d be home in time to hold her hand through the festivities. Other than occasional trips home for holidays and other occasions, I’ve been gone more than ten years. I bear no resemblance whatsoever to the girl who left home at eighteen seeking independence from her overbearing family at a faraway college out West. I accomplished all my goals, finishing college, landing a decent job and falling in love with the man of my dreams. I found out what happens when dreams come true and how painful it is when they blow up in your face. It’s time now to set new goals, to start over, to begin a life that doesn’t have John at the center of it the way it did here. It’ll be nice to be back with people who love me and care about me, even if they tend toward smothering at times. That’s looking rather good to me after years of loneliness and grief. The intercom sounds to let me know the movers are here. I pick myself up off the floor and steel my heart for the day ahead. I can do this. I’ve been through worse, and I’ll survive this the same way I’ve survived everything else. Despite my resolve, my eyes fill with tears as I press the button that opens the door downstairs to the movers. It doesn’t take them long to pack my belongings into their truck. I keep with me the things that can’t be replaced—precious photos, gifts he gave me, the clothing he left behind. After taking a final look around the apartment, I pack those boxes into my car, turn my apartment keys into the leasing office and head east, feeling as if I’m leaving behind everything that ever mattered to me. It’s like I’m losing him all over again. I cry all the way through the desert of Southern California and well into Arizona. I relive every minute I can remember, every conversation, every special moment. I think about what it was like to make love with him and wonder how I’ll ever to do that with anyone but him. Maybe I won’t. Maybe that part of my life ended with him, and even though I’m only twenty-eight now, I’m okay with that possibility. Once you’ve experienced perfection, it’s hard to imagine settling for anything less. The tears finally dry up somewhere in northern Arizona, but the ache inside… I take that with me all the way to New York, where I will try my very best to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and put them back together into some new version of myself. After all, what choice do I have?


ADD FIVE YEARS GONE TO GOODREADS


----------------------------

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess By Deception.
All together, her books have sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list many times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.
Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
Join Marie's mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook
, Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram. Join one of Marie's many reader groups. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads

Join Marie's Reader Groups

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Release Day Review - Five Years Gone by Marie Force


Today we are celebrating the release of FIVE YEARS GONE, a romantic standalone title by New York Times Bestselling author Marie Force. Check out some teasers and an excerpt for the book below.

 

FIVE YEARS GONE by Marie Force

Available Now

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The most brazen terrorist attack in history. A country bent on revenge. A love affair cut short. A heart that never truly heals.

I knew on the day of the attack that our lives were changed forever. What I didn’t know then was that I’d never see John again after he deployed. One day he was living with me, sleeping next to me, making plans with me. The next day he was gone.
That was five years ago. The world has moved on from that awful day, but I’m stuck in my own personal hell, waiting for a man who may be dead for all I know. At my sister’s wedding, I meet Eric, the brother of the groom, and my heart comes alive once again.
The world is riveted by the capture of the terrorist mastermind, brought down by U.S. Special Forces in a daring raid. Now I am trapped between hoping I’ll hear from John and fearing what’ll become of my new life with Eric if I do.
From a New York Times bestselling author, Five Years Gone, a standalone contemporary, is an epic story of love, honor, duty, unbearable choices and impossible dilemmas.

REVIEW:


Five Years Gone is an emotional story however what I like best about the way Marie Force crafted and told this story is that I wasn’t crying the whole time I read it.  There were definitely times where my chest would tighten-up as I felt the impact of a story twist on a character but I was able to continue reading without being distraught over what could have been an overly emotional moment.  I am so grateful for this.  I do not enjoy having my emotions twisted all over when I’m reading a book and Marie does a good job of keeping the emotions with the characters where I could feel empathy for them without feeling the emotion itself. 

There is so many good things happening in this story.  Ava’s journey of self-discovery could have been a book all on its own, as could Eric’s journey which is less detailed in the book but still there.  Ava and Eric’s romance is written as a thing that is happening along with Ava and Eric’s individual journey’s which makes the story feel authentic in a way few authors are able to truly capture.

This book is so much more than just a romance and I could easily recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a well written emotional story with developed characters and a complex plot.

PURCHASE IT NOW!

Kindle US | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google

PURCHASE IN AUDIO: Amazon | Audible US | Audible UK | Audible AU
 
Read this excerpt from Five Years Gone.
Prologue Ava We met in a bar, of all places, a dingy hole-in-the-wall favored by military members from the nearby Navy base in San Diego. I went with a friend from school who was interested in one of the military guys. Before that night, I’d never been there, and I’ve never been back. John was celebrating the promotion of one of his buddies. He crashed into me as I left the ladies’ room and kept me from falling by grabbing my arms to steady me. Just like in the movies, our eyes met, and my spine tingled with the kind of instantaneous awareness I’d only read about but never experienced personally. “I’m so sorry,” he said, gorgeous and fierce in his fatigues. I noticed gold on his collar, a hint of late-day scruff on his jaw and the name WEST in bold black letters on his chest. Intense electric-blue eyes made it impossible for me to look away, even when I was safely back on my feet. “Are you all right?” he asked. Realizing I’d been staring at him, I blinked and reluctantly broke the connection. “I… Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for the save.” And then he smiled, and the tingling began anew. “I’m John.” I shook his outstretched hand. “Ava.” Keeping his hold on my hand, he tipped his head. “You come here often?” “Never,” I said, laughing. “I’m a first-timer.” “What do you think so far?” “I wasn’t impressed until about thirty seconds ago.” As if he had all the time in the world to give me, he leaned against the wall. “Is that right? What happened thirty seconds ago?” I thought about taking back my hand but didn’t. “I was saved from certain disaster by a man in uniform.” “The guy in the uniform is the reason you needed saving in the first place, because he wasn’t watching where he was going. Least he can do is buy you a drink.” “I wouldn’t say no to that.” I was proud of my witty responses and got the feeling he could more than hold his own in the wittiness department. Across the crowded room, I noticed my friend talking to the guy she’d come to see, and her brows lifted in interest when she saw me with John. He guided me to the bar, placing a proprietary hand on my lower back, and told one of the guys to give me his stool. “Yes, sir.” The younger man bowed gallantly to me as he took his beer and moved along. “Do people always do what you say?” “If they know what’s good for them.” His teasing grin kept the comment from being overly cocky. “What can I get you?” Deciding to live dangerously for once, I asked for a cosmopolitan. “Go big or go home,” he said with admiration. “That’s my motto.” I was so full of shit. I wondered if he could tell I was all talk or what he’d think of me if he knew I usually err much closer to the side of caution than the wild side. I wondered if he could tell I was just barely old enough to drink. I’d turned twenty-one only six months earlier. When my cosmo and his Budweiser had been delivered, he offered a toast. “To new friends.” I touched my glass to his bottle. “To new friends.” “So, where’re you from, Ava?” “New York.” “I thought I heard New Yawk in your voice.” I batted my eyelashes at him. “So four years at the University of California San Diego didn’t scrub the New York out of me?” Laughing, he said, “Hardly. I know some guys from New York. One of them is from Staten Island, which is about as New York as it gets. I know New York when I hear it.” “I’m from Purchase, upstate from the city. What about you?” “I’m from all over. My old man is a retired general. You name it, I’ve lived there.” “Where’s home?” “Right here.” He turned that intense gaze on me, and I went stupid in the head. I couldn’t see anything but him. We might as well have been alone in the crowded bar for all I knew. Unlike my friend, who loved men in uniform, I was never turned on by the uniform. Until then. Until John. “You want to get out of here?” I swallowed hard. It wasn’t like me to leave a bar with a man I’d just met. “And go where?” “Somewhere we can talk.” “What do you want to talk about?” He leaned in so his lips were close to my ear. “Everything. I want to know every single thing there is to know about you.”   That’s how we started. We were intense from the first second we met until the last time I saw him five years ago today. I can’t believe it’s been five years since I looked into those incredible blue eyes or woke to him on the pillow next to me or heard his voice in my ear, whispering words that’re permanently carved into my heart as he made love to me. The worst part is I have no idea where he is. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, being held captive or if he’s living his life somewhere else with someone else. I don’t know, and the not knowing is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. I love him as much today as I ever did. No amount of time could ever change that simple fact of my life. We had two beautiful, magnificent years together, caught up in our own little bubble. He never met my family. I never met his. We didn’t make couple friends. We didn’t talk about the future. We didn’t need to. Our future was decided that first night, and it would take care of itself in due time. I honestly and naïvely believed that. Now, with hindsight, I realize the bubble was strategic on his part. He gave me everything he had to give, including no promise of tomorrow. Five years ago today, we watched the horror unfold on live television. A US-based cruise ship blown up by suicide bombers. Four thousand lives extinguished in a heartbeat. Our world permanently changed once again, our country declaring yet another war on terrorists. After 9/11 we thought we’d seen everything. We were wrong. “I have to go,” he said, grabbing the duffel that stood ready in the front hall closet. He called it his “go bag.” I’d thought nothing of it. “Where’re you going?” “I don’t know.” “When will you be back?” “I don’t know that either.” He held my face in his hands and gazed at me, seemingly trying to memorize my every feature. “I love you. I’ll always love you.” Then he kissed me as passionately as he ever had and was gone, out the door in a flash of camouflage. I never saw him again. I’m not his wife or even his fiancée, so no one notified me of his whereabouts. And three months after he left, when I found a way onto the base in a desperate quest for information, no one there could tell me anything either. I tried to locate his parents and other people he mentioned, but it was like they didn’t exist. I could find no record of a retired general named West in the Marine Corps, Army or Air Force. Furthermore, an exhaustive search for information on the John West I had known led nowhere. No high school, no college, no military service, no nothing. Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed the two years we spent together, doing mundane things like grocery shopping, cooking, watching TV and sleeping together after long days at work. But then I’d remember the blissful passion, the scorching pleasure, the desire that ruled us from the beginning, and I’d know I didn’t dream him. I didn’t dream us. We were real, and he was everything to me. Sitting on the floor in our apartment, surrounded by boxes, I take a few minutes before the movers arrive to memorize every detail of the place where we lived together. I’ve packed his things along with mine, and I’m moving home to New York. Today was my deadline. I gave it five years, and I simply can’t do it anymore. I can’t sit in our home among our things, waiting for something that’s never going to happen. It’s over. It’s time for me to move on. It’s probably long past time, if I’m being honest with myself. And though I know it’s the right move at the right time, that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t shattering all over again as I dismantle the place where we were us. My sister is getting married next month. I promised her I’d be home in time to hold her hand through the festivities. Other than occasional trips home for holidays and other occasions, I’ve been gone more than ten years. I bear no resemblance whatsoever to the girl who left home at eighteen seeking independence from her overbearing family at a faraway college out West. I accomplished all my goals, finishing college, landing a decent job and falling in love with the man of my dreams. I found out what happens when dreams come true and how painful it is when they blow up in your face. It’s time now to set new goals, to start over, to begin a life that doesn’t have John at the center of it the way it did here. It’ll be nice to be back with people who love me and care about me, even if they tend toward smothering at times. That’s looking rather good to me after years of loneliness and grief. The intercom sounds to let me know the movers are here. I pick myself up off the floor and steel my heart for the day ahead. I can do this. I’ve been through worse, and I’ll survive this the same way I’ve survived everything else. Despite my resolve, my eyes fill with tears as I press the button that opens the door downstairs to the movers. It doesn’t take them long to pack my belongings into their truck. I keep with me the things that can’t be replaced—precious photos, gifts he gave me, the clothing he left behind. After taking a final look around the apartment, I pack those boxes into my car, turn my apartment keys into the leasing office and head east, feeling as if I’m leaving behind everything that ever mattered to me. It’s like I’m losing him all over again. I cry all the way through the desert of Southern California and well into Arizona. I relive every minute I can remember, every conversation, every special moment. I think about what it was like to make love with him and wonder how I’ll ever to do that with anyone but him. Maybe I won’t. Maybe that part of my life ended with him, and even though I’m only twenty-eight now, I’m okay with that possibility. Once you’ve experienced perfection, it’s hard to imagine settling for anything less. The tears finally dry up somewhere in northern Arizona, but the ache inside… I take that with me all the way to New York, where I will try my very best to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and put them back together into some new version of myself. After all, what choice do I have?

 

ADD FIVE YEARS GONE TO GOODREADS

 
----------------------------

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess By Deception.
All together, her books have sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list many times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.
Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
Join Marie's mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram. Join one of Marie's many reader groups. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.
 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads

Join Marie's Reader Groups
InkSlinger Blogger Final