The Dare (Briar U Book 4) by Elle Kennedy Contemporary new adult romance released by Elle Kennedy on June 16, 2020
College was supposed to be my chance to get over my ugly-duckling complex and spread my wings. Instead, I wound up in a sorority full of mean girls. I already have a hard time fitting in, so when my Kappa Chi sisters issue the challenge, I can’t say no.
The dare: seduce the hottest new hockey player in the junior class.
Conor Edwards is a regular at Greek Row parties…and in Greek Row sorority beds. He’s the one you fall for before you learn that guys like him don’t give girls like me a second glance. Except Mr. Popular throws me for a loop—rather than laughing in my face, he does me a solid by letting me take him upstairs to pretend we’re getting busy.
Even crazier, now he wants to keep pretending. Turns out Conor loves games, and he thinks it’s fun to pull the wool over my frenemies’ eyes.
But resisting his easy charm and surfer-boy hotness is darn near impossible. Though I’m realizing there’s much more to Conor’s story than his fan club can see.
And the longer this silly ruse goes on, the greater the danger of it all blowing up in my face.
I devoured this book in less than 3 days. It was funny and angsty in equal measures, and did a good job of capturing college life without infantilizing the characters, which some authors can’t quite pull off. Before going further, a couple of content warnings: the book talks about revenge porn towards the end of the book, and Taylor (one of the love interests) is dealing with body image issues throughout the book. Taylor is part of a sorority, and Conor is an athlete, so there is a fair amount of drinking going on in the book. For all that Taylor and Conor’s experience of college was not like mine, I think that Kennedy did a good job of showing us how college students interact with each other and with the world outside of college. I liked seeing Taylor and Conor grow in confidence, both because of their coupledom but also because of their own separate choices. And despite how angsty this book can get, there are parts where I laughed aloud. Continue reading →
Deb’s Review of Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy New Adult (M/M) Contemporary Romance released by Rennie Road Books on July 28, 2015
They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?
Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.
Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.
Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.
Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition. (less)
Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy have blended their unique voices and amazing writing talents to create an unforgettable love story. I have always had a weakness for M/M novels since reading Mary Renault’s series about Alexander the Great. It’s a relic, and quite tame by today’s standards, but Ms. Renault blew my mind with her tender love story of Alexander and his best friend. Their’s was also a friends to lovers story; both students of Aristotle, then warriors in battle together, their love had no limits and held no fears. I’ve never forgotten Ms. Renault’s magnificent and moving novel. Him has these same beautiful qualities that will have me remembering these characters for a long time. Continue reading →
Eeee you guys! Today we have an awesome exclusive excerpt from Elle Kennedy. Midnight Games won’t be available until August 6, 2013. And in fact, the cover isn’t even up at amazon yet! (Also, can you believe it’s the fourth Tuesday of the month?! Picture me running around in a panic, flailing. I NEED MORE TIME!) Also good thing. Ms. Kennedy has visited ALBTALBS before, or she’d probably be scared now. XD
A master of disguise, Isabel Roma spends her life pretending to be other women. Normally, her emotions are reined in tight—but sexy mercenary Trevor Callaghan has a knack for getting under her skin. The elite operative’s quiet strength and raw magnetism affect her in ways she’s never felt before, a distraction that can quickly turn deadly in their dangerous line of work.
After putting his tragic past behind him, Trevor is ready to focus on his future—and he damn well intends for Isabel to be in it. When their entire operation is thrown into chaos, Trevor enlists Isabel’s talent for deception. And as they attempt to save their team in a world where the stakes are high and the danger is grave, Trevor must convince Isabel that the woman beneath all the disguises is the one worth having….
“Holy shit, Holden’s wife is hot.” Ethan Hayes spoke in a low murmur, his hazel eyes glimmering with appreciation.
Trevor Callaghan shifted his attention from the pool table to the raven-haired woman taking up residence on the other side of the game room. This was the first time any of the team had met Holden McCall’s wife, and Trevor had no idea why Holden had hid the woman from them for so long. With her wavy black hair and dark eyes, Beth McCall was drop-dead gorgeous. She was also shy, soft-spoken, and completely oblivious to the sex appeal radiating from her tall, curvaceous frame.
“She’s really nice too,” Ethan added. “She offered to give me some cooking lessons.”
Trevor furrowed his brow. “Why would she do that?”
“Because she’s a chef, dumb-ass.”
Somehow it didn’t surprise Trevor that Beth had so easily opened up to Ethan when she’d barely uttered ten words to anyone else at the compound since she and Holden had arrived earlier this morning. With his preppy good looks and unassuming demeanor, Ethan came off as the least threatening man on the planet. But the rookie was far deadlier than he let on, a marine with razor-sharp instincts and honed skills that made him a real asset to the team.
Make that teams. As of three months ago, Jim Morgan had expanded his operation. Apparently soldiers for hire were in greater demand these days, and since Trevor’s boss was as business-savvy as he was lethal, he’d recruited a second team of operatives. Headed by a fellow mercenary named Castle, B-Team—as Trevor and some of the others mockingly referred to it—was currently in the field working an extraction, while the self-proclaimed A-Team indulged in some R&R at Morgan’s compound near Tijuana.
Trevor still found it disorienting to wake up, peer out the window, and not see the Rocky Mountains looming in the distance. He’d lived in Colorado his whole life, calling it home even when his stint in the army had taken him far away and for long periods of time. But even though he got homesick every now and then, longing for the crisp mountain air and the four distinct seasons that Mexico seemed to lack, he knew that relocating to the compound had been a smart decision. He’d needed to leave that empty Aspen condo. He and Gina had purchased it together. They’d turned it into a home. Their home.
But Gina was gone, dead for more than two years now. It had been time for him to move on, which was why he’d sold the condo to Luke Dubois. The former SEAL was currently off rotation while he got settled in the new place.
It brought a bittersweet pang to Trevor’s gut, knowing that Luke and his girlfriend, Olivia, were building a life together in Aspen. The life that had been stolen from him and Gina.
He was happy for his teammate, though. And living on the compound wasn’t bad. He was surrounded by friends, he had a top-notch training facility at his fingertips, the weather was nice year-round, and their housekeeper, Lloyd, was actually a damn good cook.
Oh, and whenever irritating thoughts of Isabel Roma crept into his head, he could easily vanquish them by challenging one of the boys to a Mexican-rum-drinking contest.
Fuck. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t think about Isabel today.
The woman was definitely messing with his head. Big-time.
“You taking your shot or what?” Kane Woodland inquired in a dry voice.
Trevor looked at the sandy-haired man on the other side of the pool table, then at the three lone balls sitting on the green felt. “Eight ball, corner pocket,” he said absently.
“Good fucking luck. No way you’re sinking that.” Kane held up his palm to the redhead by his side. “High-five me, sweetheart. He’s about to scratch on the eight ball.”
Abby Sinclair narrowed her honey-colored eyes, assessed the table, and shook her head. “He’ll sink it. Won’t you, Callaghan?”
He met the redhead’s astute gaze. “Wouldn’t have called it if I thought otherwise.”
And then he bent forward, lined up his cue, and snapped the eight right into its designated pocket—without scratching.
Kane cursed under his breath. “Damn it. Double or nothing.”
“No way,” Abby interjected. “You’re already out five hundred bucks and two nut shots.”
“Nut shots?” Beth McCall’s curious voice sounded from behind the group. The black-haired beauty approached the table.
Her husband was rolling his eyes as he came up beside her. “Instead of money, they bet each other a kick in the nuts,” Holden explained.
“Or a punch,” Ethan said helpfully. “It’s the loser’s choice.”
“And my loser husband will be getting kicked or punched in the balls today. Twice,” Abby muttered.
Ethan snickered. “You’re just mad because you won’t be the one doing it.”
Trevor wasn’t used to hearing the word “husband” come out of the redhead’s mouth. A few days ago, Abby and Kane had stunned everyone by nonchalantly letting it slip that they’d secretly tied the knot last week. No wedding, no reception, not even a heads-up—the couple had simply driven to the justice of peace in town and gotten hitched without telling a single soul.
The covert ceremony didn’t exactly come as a surprise, though, since Abby Sinclair loathed being the center of attention. The woman avoided fuss and fanfare like the plague.
Also not surprising was how she began to edge away from the pool table the second Beth McCall got close. Abby had been living on the compound for more than a year now, but the former contract killer still didn’t seem comfortable being part of the group. Or being around other women. The only females Trevor had seen her drop her guard around were her ex-boss, Noelle, and her fellow chameleon, Isabel.
Grinding his teeth, he pushed aside the latest thought of Isabel and handed his pool cue to Ethan.
“I’ll collect my reward later,” he told Kane. “First I need a word with your wife.”
“Hands off, Trev.” Kane’s green eyes twinkled playfully, but the note of menace in his voice didn’t go unnoticed.
Yeah, right. Trevor had no intention of putting the moves on Abby Sinclair. She was beautiful, sure, but he didn’t have a thing for ruthless redheads.
Only cowardly blondes, apparently.
A sigh lodged in his throat. No, that wasn’t true. Isabel Roma was the strongest woman he’d ever met. He’d dropped that nasty C-word during his last phone call with Noelle only because he’d hoped that being accused of cowardice would spur Isabel into finally returning his calls. Hadn’t worked, though. She was still “deep cover” and couldn’t be reached.
Bull fucking shit.
“What do you need, Callaghan?” Abby asked as she followed him out of the game room.
“What do you think I need, Sinclair?”
They stepped into the spacious hallway and headed toward the set of tall oak doors that opened into the great room. The huge chalet-style space was Trevor’s favorite room in the house, probably because it reminded him of the ski lodges his family had vacationed at when he was a kid. Crisscrossed wooden beams made up the massively high ceiling and the floor beneath their feet was a shiny, dark-stained parquet. L-shaped leather couches took up half the room, while the other side offered a stone fireplace, endless bookcases, and cozy leather armchairs.
Trevor walked over to the large bay window and stared at the reddish-brown dirt that made up the front courtyard. Outside, the sun was setting, the sky a fiery shade of burnished copper, nearly the same color as Abby’s hair.
“Well?” he prompted when she didn’t say a word.
She joined him at the window. “Izzy is in Paris,” she admitted.
His heart did an involuntary leap of joy, but the joy faded to anger once the implication settled in. Isabel had wrapped up her job. Which meant she’d undoubtedly received every single one of his messages—and decided to ignore them.
“Are you sure?” he said gruffly.
Abby nodded. “She got in this morning.”
He was slightly appeased. All right. She’d gotten in only this morning. She probably had other shit to deal with at the moment. Unpacking, briefing her boss, finding a new place to live . . .
The memory of Isabel’s old place, the Manhattan walkup she’d abandoned him in, brought a bitter taste to his mouth. He’d waited all day and night. Sat around like a chump while Isabel went out to help a friend, and as the hours ticked by and her cell phone kept bumping over to voice mail, he’d made excuses for her. She’d lost track of time. Her cell was dead. She was on her way home.
Until finally he’d been forced to face the cold, hard truth—Isabel wasn’t coming back.
Of course, his misplaced faith in humankind had led him to think she was in trouble, a pathetic assumption that initiated a frantic, weeklong search that nearly sent him spiraling back into the black hole of depression that Gina’s death had banished him to.
Eventually, he’d reached Isabel’s boss, who put an end to his needless panic by uttering four very short, very destructive sentences.
Isabel’s on assignment. She bailed on you. Deal with it. Stop calling me.
He’d responded with only one sentence of his own: “I won’t stop until I find her.”
A RITA-award nominated author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.
Elle currently publishes with Signet Eclipse, Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and Samhain Publishing. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!
What’d you think of that excerpt? I loved it. 😀 Love the glimpses of interaction between all these alpha guys. And… yeah. Totally something idiot boys would do. XD I was vastly entertained. Have you read any books by Elle Kennedy before? Come on – opinions welcome! One lucky commenter will win a copy of Midnight Rescue and Midnight Alias – the first two books in the Killer Instinct series!
Hello my lovelies! I have to let you know, my internet is still in and out. Mostly out. And with no rhyme or reason. It might work, then all of a sudden… stop. For a long period of time. With maybe a 40 second window where it does work. I’m about to start stabbing things at random, because stress eating hasn’t helped. (No joke I’m getting too big for my fat clothes.) But anyway, let’s not focus on that.
What we’re here for, is the lovely Elle Kennedy! She contacted me about being a guest here and I was very happy to have her. I’m also very happy that she is kind and gracious and isn’t demanding about the time her post goes live and understand internet problems are evil.
Without further ado…
Appreciating Secondary Characters
This month I read a romance that featured a hero and heroine that I disliked immensely. I didn’t enjoy their dialogue, wasn’t invested in their relationship, and didn’t care one way or the other if they ended up together. Normally when this happens I don’t bother finishing the book. This time, I kept reading—for the sub-plot characters. In fact, I skimmed through all the scenes with the main characters, only bothering to do it just in case the sub-characters’ names came up! I loved this secondary couple so much that they saved the book for me, and as a result, I ended up reading more of that author’s books and liking them a lot.
As a writer, I get a lot of emails from readers, and some of them address the same issue I just mentioned—ie “I didn’t really like A and B, but I loved C and D—when is their book coming out?” Of course, when anyone voices a dislike for a main character, I feel a little wounded—because I love all my characters and it’s sad that everyone doesn’t see how awesome they are. But as a reader, I know that I’m not going to like every single character in a book, and sometimes it happens to be the one I’m supposed to be the most invested in.
A good example of this, for me, is with JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I didn’t care much for the h/H in the first book, but I adored all the side characters and they were the sole reason I kept going with the series. If it weren’t for those characters, I would have missed out on an amazing series. As a result of that, I’ve learned to be a lot more patient when it comes to reading and discovering new authors. If the first book in a series was so-so, I will almost always pick up the second one, and sometimes even the third.
Next month, the second book in my Killer Instincts series releases—Midnight Alias features many of the characters first introduced in Midnight Rescue, along with a few new faces that were so much fun to write about. I’ll be honest—I have fallen in love with one of my secondary characters. His name is Sullivan, he’s Australian, and I adore him. Yep, adore. With that said, I’ll leave you with a short excerpt that features my new favourite character.
I’ll also be giving away a copy of Midnight Rescue (Killer Instincts Book 1), so leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. Just tell me how you feel about sub-plots, side characters, hating a hero/heroine, or anything else that strikes your fancy!
An undercover DEA agent has gone off the radar. Suspecting an internal mole, the government needs Luke Dubois and his elite team of operatives to recover their man, and the New Orleans native thinks he’s found his way inside the dark underbelly of Manhattan: Olivia Taylor, the girlfriend of a mob boss and the sexiest woman he’s ever laid eyes on. His new mission objective? Get past Olivia’s defenses and convince her to take a chance—on him.
All Olivia wanted was to finish law school and live a normal life, but that dream was shattered when one dangerous night put her deeply in a mobster’s debt. Now Luke and his team will help her escape—in exchange for intel on the missing agent. But Olivia doesn’t anticipate her intense attraction to the reckless Louisiana charmer or that she’ll be forced to risk everything—including her heart.
“This isn’t even a mission,” Luke announced. “All we do is watch.”
A third voice joined the mix, this one boasting an Australian accent and a whole lot of scorn.
“Don’t you even think of complaining, mate,” Sullivan Port said as he strode into the living room in nothing but a towel. The white terrycloth hung low on the guy’s hips, way too small for that huge body of his. Sullivan was six-three, with broad shoulders and a heavy chest, and he constantly seemed to be strolling around half-naked. Maybe it was an Australian thing.
“You get to watch naked girls every night,” Sullivan added. “We watch the building. Naked girls is my job. Tell me, how is that fair?”
Luke couldn’t argue. Out of all the men on Jim Morgan’s mercenary team, Sullivan probably did have the greatest appreciation for the female form, and no matter where the guy was, he always managed to find a hot eager girl ready for a lay. Not that Luke was hurting for female company himself, but Sullivan was a whole different league of player. Luke once watched a prostitute in Amsterdam offer to pay Sullivan to go upstairs with her. If Sully weren’t such a cocky rub-it-in-your-face type, Luke might even call him his hero.
“Morgan is punishing me,” Sullivan went on, crossing the parquet floor toward the kitchen. He disappeared behind the enormous refrigerator door then reappeared with a beer bottle, towel flapping against his thighs as he returned to the living area. When he plopped down on the armchair across from the sofa, both Luke and Trevor shielded their eyes.
“Whoa, fix that towel, man,” Luke ordered.
“Fix it?” Trevor echoed. “No, go put clothes on instead. For the love of God, this isn’t a frat house.”
Sullivan shrugged. “I like having a cold beer after a shower.” He grinned. “If my cock makes you feel inferior, that’s not my fault.”
There, it was official. This was not a mission. When grown men started talking about each other’s cocks, it meant things were bad.
Whee! So what’d you think? Remember to answer Elle’s question, or ask her some of your own. And there’s a copy of Midnight Rescue up for grabs!