Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Date at the Altar by Cathy Maxwell - Excerpt

Happy release week to Cathy Maxwell whose third title in the Marrying the Duke series, A Date at the Altar, released yesterday. Thanks to the publisher, I have an excerpt to share with you today. But first, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s glittering Marrying the Duke series continues—Twice he has been close to the altar and still no duchess.

Will the third time be the charm? A duke can’t marry just anyone. His wife must be of good family, be fertile, be young. Struggling playwright Sarah Pettijohn is absolutely the last woman Gavin Whitridge, Duke of Baynton, would ever fall in love with.

She is an actress, born on the wrong side of the blanket, and always challenges his ducal authority. She never hesitates to tell him what she thinks.

However, there is something about her that stirs his blood . . . which makes her perfect for a bargain he has in mind: In exchange for backing her play, he wants Sarah to teach him about love.

And he, in turn, has a few things to teach her about men . . .

I think we can all agree that escapist fiction is in order these days! 

A Date at the Altar by Cathy Maxwell, Chapter One Excerpt 

Sarah Pettijohn had vowed she would never play the role of the Siren again . . . and yet here she was, tucked high above the stage behind the proscenium arch so that the audience could not see her, dressed in practically nothing, waiting her turn on stage. From her perch, she watched the teeming mass of male bodies in the audience below and knew they did not bode well for her.

The owners of the theater, Geoff and Charles, were masters at creating a stir. The house was packed with men from every walk of life. The rich, the poor, the old, the young, and the stupid had all paid their four shillings because, as Geoff said, men could never have their fill of “tittie” watching. “No matter how much it costs them, they like to look.” 

Sarah was not showing her “titties.” She wore a nude shift beneath her diaphanous costume. Granted there was little beneath the shift, but she was well covered compared to the other women in the company. She’d insisted upon it. She knew from the last time she had been compelled to play the Siren, six years ago, the male imagination could fill in the details, whether seen or not.

Keeping her identity a secret was important, just as it had been in the past. To that purpose, Sarah wore a bejeweled mask and mounds of face paint and powder to create a fanciful, feminine creature with long lashes and golden skin. A black wig plaited into a thick braid hid her red hair. She’d also refused to attend rehearsals, preferring to practice her act in secret. She was not proud of what she was doing. She had a reputation to protect. 

After all, she wasn’t just an actress. She was a playwright. 

She’d agreed to play the Siren because Geoff and Charles promised to stage her play.

Her play. 

For years, Sarah had rewritten and edited the work of men who used her talent and gave her none of the recognition. This past summer, Colman at the Haymarket Theater where she’d been part of the company for years, had promised to produce one of her plays but when the time came, he’d reneged and put one of his own on the schedule instead. One Sarah had rewritten for him.

Sarah had walked. She’d left his company with her head high, and her pockets empty.

That is when Geoff and Charles had approached her. They were talented theater men who had staged the first Naughty Review in order to raise the funds to build the Bishop’s Hill Theater. It had been a one-night event, just as this was. At that time, Sarah had been desperate for money so that she could provide a home for her half-sister’s orphaned daughter. She didn’t expose her “titties” then, either, but she would have done that and more to protect Charlene. 

What no one had expected was for the Siren to become almost legendary in men’s minds. Even Sarah was astounded and she was thankful that she’d been disguised so no one knew who she was. For months after that first Review, personal notices were run in the papers from men either begging the actress playing the Siren to contact them or looking for information about her. Fortunately, those few people who knew Sarah never betrayed her. 

Now, after years of running their own theater, Geoff and Charles were deeply in debt. They were in danger of losing the Bishop’s Hill and hoped that if the Review worked once, it would do so again. 

“Everyone wants the Siren,” Charles had said.

“You do this for us and we will stage your play. We’ll all have what we want.”

Sarah had reluctantly agreed. She’d had no choice, really. She didn’t have the means to stage the play herself. Charlene was now happily married and living in Boston, an ocean away. The time had come for Sarah to live her own life.

If dancing and singing almost naked would bring her what she wanted, then so be it. A woman alone had to do what she must to survive—and if Sarah was one thing, she was a survivor.

She shifted her weight on the narrow shelf and tightened her hold on the silken rope that would be used to lower her to the stage. The Siren would be the last performance of the evening. She’d secreted herself an hour before the curtain. 

Below her, two female gladiators with swords shaped like phalluses left the stage. William Millroy, an Irish tenor, came out and began singing about being cuckolded by his wife. The audience wasn’t paying attention. They had come for women. Someone threw a cabbage at Will but he ducked. More vegetables and a few fruits were thrown to the delight of the crowd, especially when they hit their target. William scampered off stage to the sound of cheers.

“Where’s the Siren?” someone called out. A chant began. “Siren! Siren!” Sarah shook her head. Men could be so ridiculous. They had been doing this all evening. Her nerves were frayed.

A group of bare-breasted dancers costumed as sheep came out onto the stage and the men forgot their chanting and roared their approval. One gent leaped from one of the boxes upon the sheep nearest him. Sarah knew the girl. Irene. She screamed and pushed his hands away from her breasts just as the bullyboys Geoff and Charles had hired rushed forward to toss the man into the pit. Laughter and ribald comments met his comeuppance. 

The music started and the sheep pranced around while a shepherd ran among them poking them in the bum with his staff. Every time he touched a sheep, she’d cry “Baaa” and the audience started mimicking the sound with an obscenity in place of the “Baa.” 

Sarah had an urge to go down on that stage and lecture the men on manners. If they kept up this rowdiness, her performance would be a short one. 

In fact, she would make it quick.

She would sing one song, escape this theater without anyone being wiser to who she really was, and then she could start living the rest of her life the way she wished. She’d cast her play, The Fitful Widow: A Light Comedy Concerning the Foolishness of Men, and prove that her talent was equal to any male playwright’s— 

Her fierce determination came to an abrupt halt as she recognized one of the men in the very expensive boxes to the side of the stage. Uncertain she could believe her eyes, she leaned forward as far as she dared on the platform for a better view, balancing herself by holding on to the rope. 

It was him. There was no mistaking the broad shoulders or that arrogantly proud tilt of the head.

The Duke of Baynton, that Pillar of Morality, the Nonesuch, the Maker of Ministries was at the Naughty Review. 

Sarah sat back, stunned, and then drew a deep breath. 

Who knew? Baynton was mortal after all. 

Or perhaps he had wandered in by chance? Oh no, he wouldn’t. She distinctly remembered him coolly informing her that he did not attend the theater. Well, he had added, save for the occasional Shakespeare.

This was no Shakespeare. 

And it was intriguing to see him here. 

The duke had once wooed her niece Charlene. When Charlene had run off with another, his twin brother, no less, Baynton had gone after them and Sarah had insisted on accompanying him so that she could protect her beloved niece. 

In the end, Baynton had not won the lady. Charlene had married the man she loved and the duke had been somewhat gracious about it—that is, to everyone save Sarah. Apparently he did not appreciate outspoken women. 

She had little admiration for him as well. Two days of traveling to Scotland with him had convinced her that no other man on earth could be more insufferable or self-righteous than Baynton. At their parting, she had prayed to never set eyes upon him again—except this was good. This was a moment to be relished. 

Watched only Shakespeare. The hypocrite. 

If she’d had a shoe on, she would have thrown it down right on his head. Let him think it was the judgment of God Almighty for being in such an immoral place. Sarah would have adored seeing the expression on his handsome face . . . and he was handsome. Sarah was not blind to his looks. It was the words that came out of his mouth she didn’t like.

But gazing at him, well, that was pleasure. 

In truth, she’d been overjoyed when he’d first called on Charlene. She’d wanted what was best for her niece and the Duke of Baynton was the best London had to offer. He was wealthy, respected, honored, and Char would have made a lovely duchess. 

Sarah could even recall the last words she’d heard the duke speak. Baynton had paid Sarah’s way home from Scotland by private coach rather than endure more travel time with her. He’d mentioned within her hearing that it had been “money well spent. She is too opinionated by half.” Words that Sarah had found surprisingly hurtful, although she’d had her fill of him as well. 

The sheep were almost done with their act. It had gone on overlong. The crowd no longer yelled crudities or baaa’ed. They grew restless. That was the problem with this sort of entertainment. It could never capture the imagination—not in the way a well-written play could. 

The Siren was up next. 

Had Sarah thought to make her performance quick and be done with it? That had been before spying the Duke of Puffed Up Consequence in her audience. 

She stood and wrapped the silken rope around her hand, readying herself to step off the platform the moment the dancers on stage finished. She felt strong, powerful, and inspired to give the performance of her lifetime. 

If Baynton thought his matched set of grays were high flyers, wait until he witnessed the Siren. 

Now, readers, this is the third book in a trilogy and you really should start from the beginning. If you haven't, the titles in order are: The Match of the Century, The Fairest of Them All, and then A Date at the Altar.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Certain Dark Things by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

Oh man, oh man, oh man! Readers, I absolutely adore those reading days when everything comes into perfect alignment. When a topic you've been dying to read about just happens to be the topic of your next planned read and the writing is amazing and the story is the kind you don't want to put down no matter what else might be going on. That's what happened with Sylvia Moreno-Garcia's Certain Dark Things.

There are no vampires in Mexico City. There haven't been for quite some time. And yet, when Domingo meets Atl, he discovers this isn't quite true. 

Atl has been orphaned thanks to an all out war with a rival vampire family. And she's come to Mexico City in search of something - alone. When she crosses paths with young Domingo, she plans only to pay him for a night of blood. But Domingo has other ideas. 

Meanwhile, Nick Godoy has followed Atl to Mexico City, intent on killing her. But Nick is a loose canon, impossible to control and guaranteed to draw attention to the presence of vampires in the city. Which is exactly what he does and exactly how Ana Aguirre ends up on the hunt. And she's not the only one. 

Sylvia Moreno-Garcia has kind of flipped the vampire genre on its head here, combining Aztec and other lore to create a world with ten different kinds of vampires. And in this world, the vampires have become drug lords - warring against one another and human gangs as well.

Humans control Mexico City and so when they catch wind that the vampires have arrived, it's in their best interests to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. But Ana Aguirre, who came to Mexico City to get away from vamps, isn't sure she wants to align herself with gangs of any kind. This in spite of the fact that even though she's a. a cop and b. a cop with experience hunting vampires, she definitely isn't getting the support she needs from her department.

And then there's Atl and Domingo. Atl is twenty-three, a baby in vampire years. Her family are descended from some of the very first vampires in the world and can live for centuries. She's also a second daughter, which means she was allowed to run around spoiled. But now she's alone. All alone. And in a moment of weakness, she decides to take Domingo on as her companion - her Renfield. Which is cool with Domingo! An orphan himself, kicked out of his home when he was just thirteen, Domingo longs for a friend and is immediately smitten by Atl. Their bond only makes him that much more determined to do whatever he can to help her in her mission.

Drug wars, vampires, Mexico City and a smidge of history besides, and all set in the very near future, Certain Dark Things is a fabulous read. Fabulous! And highly original! And definitely one I'm recommending to EVERYONE!

Friday, October 21, 2016

What I'm Reading: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff + a Giveaway

Morning, all! It's been a crazy month here - conferences, conferences, conferences, twitter pitch events, and I'm up to my eyeballs with manuscripts to read. And so though I'd planned a review of Gemina today, I haven't quite finished it yet. It is providing some much needed relaxation (i.e. bathtub) reading though :)

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The saga that began with Illuminae continues on board the space station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum may be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival. The fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

So yes, this is the follow up to last year's Illuminae. And yes, even though this one does focus on two new characters, you do have to read them in order - Kady is present and the story picks up IMMEDIATELY after the events in Illuminae

I love not only the premise of these, but the overall experience of reading them. The story itself is built as a briefing meant to explain what's happened in the wake of an invasion. So rather than a straightforward narrative, the tale is presented as interviews, surveillance footage, chats, emails, etc. And there's a great design element that goes along with all of that as well: pages that shift between the normal white with black text to black with white text, illustrations, and formatting/design elements to indicate what kind of piece you're looking at (an email, chat, that sort of thing).  

And while the books do appear to be behemoths, each weighing in at about 600 pages, the formatting actually makes for a rather speedy read. As with its predecessor, Gemina has some pages that really have very little in the way of text to read at all. Combined with a gripping story (hate to use such an overused word there, but that's what it is), that framework of compiled documents really does allow the story to move quite quickly. 

So yeah, I'm digging it! 

Thanks to the publisher, I am able to offer up one copy of Gemina for a giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, November 7. Open US only and no PO boxes please. 

Short Fiction Friday: Everything Belongs to the Future by Laurie Penny

Imagine what would happen if there was a cure for aging. A bit of the worst is exactly what Laurie Penny imagines in Everything Belongs to the Future. 

Aging is no longer inevitable. Not if you have the money for a daily dose of TeamThreeHundred's little blue pills. And of course only the most wealthy can afford them long term. Alex, Nina, Fidget, Margo, and Jasper are one of many groups who believes the current situation isn't fair. To fight a system they know is rigged, they filch and smuggle those blue pills, handing them out to people who would never afford them otherwise, sharing the wealth that is eternal youth. But even that has it's limits. Bringing one of TeamThreeHundred over to their side, though... That would make the whole enterprise much easier. And that's just the first step in upsetting the imbalance of power and youth. 

Unfortunately for them, their enemy knows exactly what they're up to. 

Everything Belongs to the Future is kind of a bleak tale. A future that is much like the present but for the fact that those in power have the added benefit of eternal life and youth on their side. It's not something I like to dwell on - ostrich, head, sand, all that.

Alex is a spy. He's infiltrated the group and weaseled his way into a top position and a relationship. His motives aren't altruistic - he doesn't go by any moral code or belief in the system. Instead, he's motivated by his reward for spying. And it's a skewed motivation all things considered.

Of course that's the point.

Penny's writing and character development are excellent. The story bounces a bit back and forth with letters from an incarcerated character to various others on the team. Those letters begin to make more sense as the story plays out and as the character's identity becomes clearer. Of course, as with Alex, each character has their own different motivation in the story. And each will likely appeal to different readers for different reasons. I, personally, quite liked Daisy. She's no hero, to be sure, but she's got oomph!

If you like your science fiction with a healthy does of too close to home, Everything Belongs to the Future is for you. And while avoiding the discomfort of the real world gets none of us anywhere, if you find you need a bit more escapism, you've been warned.

Rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Catherine McKenzie's latest, Fractured.

One year ago, Julie Prentice and her family relocated to the charming Mount Adams area of Cincinnati. The move was supposed to be a chance to start over - anonymously. A chance for Julie and her family to feel safe again. 

Julie, author of the massively popular book The Murder Game, gained notoriety not just as an author but as an outspoken victim of stalking. In an era where internet crime is still a strange gray area, Julie's attempts at restraining orders and a lawsuit didn't leave her protected in the least. But her new home, where no one knows her as Julie Apple, and a security system with failsafes to guarantee someone knows where she is and if an alarm has gone off at all times, initially set her at ease. 

Unfortunately, it took less than twelve months for that ease and sense of security to crumble. 

Ooh, I love it! There's something a bit more voyeuristic than usual about this particular release from McKenzie. First, the plot does hit very close to home in the sense that there's been an increase in online harassment in general and in particular in the literary community. But the behind closed doors look inside Julie and her neighbor John's lives, and the way McKenzie has built the story, feels extremely peeping Tom like. There's almost a sense that you're seeing things you simply aren't meant to in these character's stories.

Of course, that's in part thanks to the way the story plays out. Do you root for Julie or John? It's clear from the beginning that their relationship, which starts off somewhat on the wrong foot anyway, has grown contentious. The story bounces between Julie's move in and one year later where it quickly becomes clear that there's some sort of trial beginning.

Fractured is definitely another win from McKenzie. Longtime readers know I'm a total fan girl, though, considering I've loved all of her books and have been singing her praises since Spin! I do love how the kinds of stories she writes are always changing. Her earliest works are a bit light with romantic twists while her latest stuff has provided keen insight into the deepest secrets and fears of relationships and marriages. Fractured is darker than all of her previous works - though not DARK by any means. But, McKenzie did one extra with this one - she wrote The Murder Game as well!

Yes, there's a companion book to Fractured, Julie Apple's The Murder Game, The Book as it's referred to in Fractured, is real and you can read it November 1!

So yeah, Catherine McKenzie wrote two books this round! And I can't wait to read "Julie's" contribution to the thriller world!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Catherine McKenzie and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington - Excerpt + Giveaway

Hi, everyone! Tara Eglington's debut doesn't officially hit shelves until October 25, but today I have a very special treat for you: an excerpt and a giveaway! But first, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed . . .

That’s Aurora Skye’s big secret. And the way she wants it to stay. She’s not going to give away her first kiss to just anyone. Busy dodging suitors and matchmaking for her best friends, Aurora (not so) patiently awaits her prince.

But everything changes when Aurora is coerced into a lead role in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing. Which means she’ll have to lock lips with her co-star Hayden Paris—the smart and funny boy next door who also happens to be the bane of her existence, always around to see her at her worst.

Now Aurora is more determined than ever to have her first kiss with the one who’s truly worthy of it. But first she’ll have to figure out just who that person is.

How To Keep a Boy From Kissing You (the first Aurora Skye story) originally released in Australia in 2013. Now we get a crack at it here in the States and it sounds fantastic!

As promised, I have an excerpt to share with you today, courtesy of the publisher. 

How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You
by Tara Eglington

(excerpt from chapter 2)

2 􏰀the glide-by

“How do I look?” Jelena asked.

Cass and I carefully studied her as the three of us stood by the school gate the next morning.

“Amazing, as always,” I replied, looking at Jelena’s long, sleek black hair, navy-blue eyes, and alabaster complexion—features that have longing male gazes following her like children after the Pied Piper. Jelena has an exotic air that I’m convinced comes from her Russian ancestry.

“You’re positive?” she said.

Normally Jelena wouldn’t even consider the possibility that she might look anything other than perfect (and with her looks, it’s com- pletely understandable), but today was a crucial day. A day when an outfit could make or break a girl. The first day back after summer break.

Summer is a transformative time for any teen—just consider the movie Dirty Dancing—and there’s always a touch of uncertainty, a hint of fear, the essence of possibility in the air on the first day of the new school year. The entire social structure of a high school can revolutionize itself in those six short hours. I knew that Jelena wanted to be dead certain that her social status was secure for another year.

Jelena possesses such fabulous qualities as confidence, never- ending energy, and an innovative mind, but she has something of an obsession with being popular. Her goal is to be CEO of an inter- national company in ten years, and she thinks Jefferson High is the perfect place to practice using her influence. Ever heard the phrase “an iron fist in a velvet glove”? Well, that’s Jelena. On many an occa- sion I’ve had to talk her out of implementing a system of serfdom. It’s thanks to her that our group is, as she puts it, “akin to reigning tsars.”

Jelena looked at me critically, gesturing at her form-fitting cream- colored dress. Attending a school where free dress is permitted meant the stakes were especially high. “Are you absolutely sure, stake your future on it, that I look like a teen queen?”

“Yes!” I said. “And Cass, you look fab, too.”

Cassie wore dark denim short shorts, a baby-pink top, and a dia- manté headband atop her fairest-of-fair blond curls. Those curls, along with her fawn-colored eyes, petite features, and voluptuous pout, would probably enable Cass to get away with murder. However, she’s as good as she is beautiful.

“So let’s head on in,” I said. I was dying to see what was new on the first day back.

“I don’t know.” Jelena arched a brow. “It’s important to build an- ticipation.”

“Don’t you want to be the first to check out any new talent?” I asked.

If there’s one word that motivates Jelena, it’s first. She views life as a battleground in which she must be the constant victor.

“Let’s go,” she commanded.

We clicked our identity rings together, a gesture left over from primary school but one we can’t help resurrecting every so often. The rings reflect how we like to see ourselves. Cassie’s ring reads “Angel,” Jelena’s is “Power,” and mine, naturally, is “Princess.” Hayden Paris happened to catch sight of the ring years ago and now refuses to call me anything else. Probably in the hope of embarrassing me. There’s no knowing what goes on in that disturbed mind of his.

We smiled at each other and stepped onto the school grounds. Jelena gave a satisfied nod smile as she did a perimeter scan. “Fantastic. There’s no one capable of challenging our status.”

I spotted Hayden sitting among a group of guys underneath the big pine. Two of them were playing guitar. When Hayden caught sight of me, he sent me a cheeky grin.

“Hayden’s looking at you,” Cassie announced in a singsong voice.

I groaned. “Don’t remind me. He’s probably replaying the image of me sitting in that puddle, again and again, like some sweet reverie.” 

Cass, Jelena, and I are really close, but we also have two other girls who make up our group: Lindsay and Sara. They joined us at our surveillance spot at the edge of the school grounds.
Lindsay is petite, with wavy chestnut locks, dark eyes, and year- round bronzed skin, which half the school is jealous of and attempts to replicate with Ambre Solaire, with varying success rates. The other important thing to know about Lindsay is that she’s part of TylerandLindsay, which isn’t two businesses joined into one super- company but a couple who have been going out for so long and so seriously that the entire student body views them as a single entity. I was surprised that Tyler wasn’t glued to Lindsay’s side. I looked around and saw he was sitting nearby. Lindsay was blowing I-can’t- believe-we’re-separated kisses to him, and he was making a show of catching each one in his palm. Oh, brother.

Lindsay’s identity ring will come as no surprise—it reads “Love.” 

Sara was telling some long, involved story, as usual. “And then they told me that they were discontinuing that brand, so I said, ‘Well, how am I going to manage without it? Youths with significant ex- pendable incomes are looking to this pharmacy to provide different options!’ And then he got all self-righteous and so I demanded to see someone more superior and—”

Sara’s ring reads “Diva.” Everything about her is dramatic—from her bright-red hair to the way she handles situations. To get out of PE last year, Sara didn’t complain of PMS or a strained ankle; in- stead, she fainted and had half the basketball team carry her to the nurse’s office while the other half ran for water and smelling salts. It’s virtually impossible to keep up with her constant level of hyste- ria, so I tune her out when she’s not actually experiencing a real crisis. I think most of us do, to tell you the truth.

“HS.” Jelena’s voice was loud and clear.

We had a hottie spotting.

“Where?” Cass glanced everywhere, not so subtly.

“Don’t make it so obvious!” Jelena hissed. “Twelve o’clock!”

We all looked straight ahead, toward a group of guys from our grade. Among them were two new, highly attractive faces. The one on the left had sun-streaked blond hair and a wide grin that displayed dimples in both cheeks. Even from a distance, his baby blues were very striking.

“Potential Prince,” Cass breathed to me.

The guy on the right had something no other guy in the school had: a goatee. That alone was impressive. He leaned against the brick wall, showing off his muscular arms to perfection. Every so often he’d run his fingers through his dark, perfectly styled hair.

“Guy on the right looks potentially egotistical,” I said.

“Girl standing next to me obviously hit her head when she fell last night, because guy on the right is godly,” Jelena replied.

“Exactly—looking down on the rest of us mere mortals,” I re- torted.

“If he’s conceited, he has every right to be,” Jelena said. “Look at him! Should we approach?”

Sara was still going on with her pharmaceutical sob story, and Lindsay had obviously decided she couldn’t take the separation from her beloved any longer, since she and Tyler were now sharing a swing, so the three of us looked at each other and made a decision.

“High heels?” Cass asked.

“Check!” we all cried.

“Time for the Glide-By,” Jelena said.

The Glide-By, like scarlet lipstick, is based on evolutionary tendencies—though it’s likely Darwin never saw this one coming! In the Glide-By, you wear an eye-catching outfit but pair it with loud shoes. This is because, although a guy’s sight is his primary sense when it comes to attraction, you often need to combine the visual with sound to really make an impact. Back in caveman days, men were trained to focus on their direct line of sight in order to spot prey. This evolutionary tendency is still part of the modern man’s makeup, so he might not pick up on your presence, no matter how gorgeous you are, if you happen to be slightly out of his line of sight.

This is where the loud shoes are vital. They announce your pres- ence. The minute a guy hears a loud sound, such as a pair of heels among the near-silent scuffing of sneakers, he will almost always turn his eyes toward it—an instinct from the days when responding to a sound could mean life or death for him and his tribe. Once his eyes are on you, the gorgeous outfit will have its desired impact. And, if your glide-by is successful and he becomes smitten, he may even learn to recognize the exact sound of your particular heels in a crowd, the way penguins recognize a partner among thou- sands of identical birds.

We headed up the path toward the guys, our heels drumming an ancient arrival call. As we hit the spot, five yards away, all eyes lifted from various Hacky Sack games and skateboard tricks. The boys looked at us; we looked at them. There was this moment of intense silence during which we mutually evaluated each other. The Glide- By was running smoothly so far.

Just when it looked like we would attempt an approach, Cass, Jelena, and I smiled simultaneously, turned abruptly, and headed for the history and arts block. We could feel the gazes following us. The Glide-By was a success.

You should never speak too soon.

“Hey, Princess!” Hayden’s voice boomed out across the school- yard, instantly destroying any intriguing aftereffects of the Glide- By. “When am I going to get my jacket back?”

Huge thanks to St. Martins for setting up the blog tour!

For more on Tara Eglington and her work, you can like Aurora's page on Facebook and follow Tara on Twitter.

As promised, I am giving away a copy of How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You today. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 31. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 16, 2016

New Releases 10/18/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Tourist by Robert Dickinson

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

IQ by Joe Tide

Pharaoh by Wilbur Smith

Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

The Next by Stephanie Gangi

Seduced by Randy Wayne White

The Starlit Wood ed by Navah Wolfe & Dominik Parisien

The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon

Sun Born by W. Michael & Kathleen O'Neal Gear

Escape Clause by John Sandford

The Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith

Rains by Gregg Hurwitz

Rose & Thorn by Sarah Prineas

Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

What Light by Jay Asher

New on DVD:
Independence Day: Resurgence
Alice Through the Looking Glass

New review at
Otherworld Chills by Kelley Armstrong