Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blood Highway by Gina Wohlsdorf | Review

Blood Highway by Gina Wohlsdorf
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 320
Source: eARC from Publisher
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

A gripping, surprising, and sexy thriller with a big, pounding heart, Blood Highway takes a seventeen-year-old girl on a brutal journey into adulthood on a road trip that threatens to kill her before she reaches the end.

Rainy Cain, a tough, troubled high school senior, desperately wants to escape the confines of her life in Minneapolis. When her increasingly unstable mother suddenly commits suicide, Rainy thinks she has found her chance. Instead, her father, Sam—who she had always believed died before she was born—escapes from prison and abducts her, taking her on a cross-country trek in pursuit of millions of dollars that he believes her mother had kept from a botched robbery years earlier. On their heels the whole way is a young Minneapolis detective intent on bringing Rainy safely home. It is an odyssey that will test Rainy’s considerable instincts about sanity and madness, and keep readers turning pages till the twisty end.


My Thoughts


ARC provided by Algonquin Books for honest review.

Typically I don't read a lot of thrillers so I never know what to expect when I start one. I was really intrigued after reading the synopsis and was excited to see how the story would play out. Unfortunately, Blood Highway had a bad case of giving away too much of the plot in the description. If so much of the story hadn't been revealed before I even started reading it could've had a stronger impact.

It took me a while to get into this story. The beginning was really confusing and I'm still not completely sure I understood what was going on. We are following 17 year old Rainy as she does her best to deal with the crappy life she's been dealt. It's not clearly stated but it's hinted that her mother might have some type of mental illness. It has gotten so bad it's like Rainey doesn't exist to her mother. She's forced to lie and steal to take care of herself.

I'm not sure if Rainy, or any of the other characters that appeared were meant to be likable. Each were well rounded but they had so many flaws it was hard to feel connected to any of them. I didn't exactly like Rainy but I admired her tenacity, especially when it came to her survival. Throughout the story Rainy made some bad decisions but every step of the way I hoped she would succeed. Also, I wasn't sure how I was supposed to feel about Blaine but I quickly grew to like him. I've never felt so conflicted about a set of character but I was happy Rainy and Blaine were able to be there for each other.

Blood Highway was such a dark, twisted story. It took me a while to wrap my head around some of the things that happened. Some of what happened still makes me feel wrong and violated. There was so much build up throughout the majority of the story and I didn't like the way it ended so suddenly. It left me feeling really unsatisfied with the ending. This was an intriguing and sometimes unsettling story but there was too much that felt missing for me to enjoy it more.


Trigger warnings for abduction, extreme violence, drug use, suicide, child neglect.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Hot Spell by Mia London and Susan Sheehey | Review

Hot Spell (Sweet Escapes #2) by Mia London and Susan Sheehey
Publisher: Amepphire Press
Publication Date: September 5, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 123
Source: eARC from InkSlinger PR
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

She never trusted unconditional love. He never believed he'd be worthy. 

Almost-Olympian gymnast Jordan Beck has coordinated an emergency vacation getaway in Puerto Vallarta for her broken-hearted bestie. Nightly parties, exotic drinks, and sandy beaches are just what she has in mind for her and her friends. She strives for perfection in everything she does and believes she's found it in the emerald-eyed bartender who doesn't back down from her challenge.

Zac Durant learned early on that life is a gift and he's determined to live his to the fullest. Scuba, surfing, tending bar by the ocean, his abuelita's tamales. He's content--until a Latina beauty struts across his pool patio and orders his best drink. Zac isn't the kind to hook up with the resort guests but Jordan changes his mind.

Zac and Jordan know this sensual interlude in paradise is a vacation fling but when sparks turn to fireworks, they are tempted to believe in something real. The illusion of perfection vanishes and Jordan panics, erecting walls around her cautious heart, sabotaging their chance at happily ever after. It is up to Zac to prove that unconditional love is worth a shot at the gold.



My Thoughts


Hot Spell is the second book in the Sweet Escapes companion series. This book follows Jordan as she finds love when the girls take a vacation in Mexico to help Liddy get over her recent breakup. I was so excited going into this sequel/companion because I had so much fun while reading Dry Spell. Sadly I didn't have that same giddy feeling as I did reading the previous book.

If you've read my review of Dry Spell you'll remember I mentioned being concerned that the length of the book wouldn't leave enough room for the story to fully develop. While I didn't feel like it was a problem in that book I think Hot Spell could've benefited from being longer. There was quite a bit going on in the story and there wasn't enough time for each of these aspects to shine.

With that being said, I still think Hot Spell was an enjoyable read. Just like in Dry Spell my favorite part was the characters. I love the friendship between Sam, Jordan, and Liddy! They are always supportive but are never afraid to call each other out when they believe another is making a mistake. I also fell in love with Zac and his grandmother. This was a quick, fun read and I'm looking forward to seeing how things are rounded out in Cold Spell.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ten Reasons to Stay by Candace Knoebel | Review

Ten Reasons to Stay (The Risky Hearts Duet #1) by Candace Knoebel
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: August 29, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 238
Source: eARC from InkSlinger PR
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

One day a week—Thursdays—my husband and I could do whatever or whomever we pleased.
Protection was non-negotiable.
And no matter what, we had to be home by midnight.
 

Jack was the one who wanted an open marriage, but we were supposed to keep things simple. No strings. No commitments. It seemed so easy… until it wasn’t.

Devilishly handsome Cole Blackwater was only supposed to be a fling, but everything about him made me feel alive. Wanted. Seen. When I realized he was my husband’s boss, I should have broken things off right then… but I didn’t.

One day a week, I could pretend that I was his and he was mine… until Cole wanted more.

But how could I decide between the man I’d promised to love, honor, and cherish, and the man who tempted me to break every single vow I’d made?


My Thoughts


I never thought the day would come where I would pick up a book centered around an open marriage. It's not something I could ever see myself agreeing to which was why I was so intrigued to see how everything would play out. Let me just start by saying I was not ready for the emotional rollercoaster Ten Reasons to Stay took me on.

For about 80% of this book I was frustrated with Corrine. She allowed herself to get into this situation even when it was not something she wanted. Also, I didn't agree with her way of thinking. Corrine had this idea that she was there to provide for her husband while completely disregarding her own wants and goals. Anytime her husband, Jack, made a suggestion or told her what to do Corrine would go along with it, no questions asked most of the time, in order to please him. This continued until it got to the point where Jack suggested they should have an open marriage. Once again she went along with it because she thought it would make Jack happy.


"Aren't we all searching for sunlight? For that warmth from the brightest touch that lets us finally breath."



Hands down the best part of this whole book was Cole Blackwater! I loved him almost from the very beginning. He came into the picture and showed Corrine exactly how she should be treated. Cole challenged every thought Corrine had of how marriage should be. Like I mentioned before this story had my emotions all over and half of that had to do with Cole. As much as he tried to hide it, Cole was incredibly vulnerable in their agreement. He was always willing to follow Corrine's lead even when he wanted so much more.

Throughout the book I enjoyed being able to see Cole pull Corrine out of the shell she was in and help her realize she deserved more than she was getting. I never thought I would become so invested in a story dealing with a failing marriage where the people in the relationship just tried to patch up the holes instead of actually addressing the problem. The entire situation was messy! This story broke my heart and put the pieces back together. Essentially Ten Reasons to Stay is about finding your worth and never settling. With all that being said, if this author can continue to deliver this level of emotional impact I am looking forward to reading more from her.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Wedding from Hell Part 3 | Blog Tour

The Wedding from Hell
Part 3: Exclusive Excerpt of Consumed
by J. R. Ward
Available: August 28, 2018
Gallery Books | E-book Original
ISBN: 9781982105389 | Free


The Wedding from Hell, Part 3: Exclusive Excerpt of Consumed is the final part of J.R. Ward’s The Wedding From Hell ebook serialization. Don’t miss this exclusive teaser to her upcoming standalone romantic suspense, CONSUMED (available in October 2, 2018). See why “Consumed takes it to a whole new level” (Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author).



About the Book:
From the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm.

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed...

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.  

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse blaze changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn't believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again—until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the commonwealth, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

About the Author:
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.



Video from J.R. Ward:




Excerpt:

Harbor Street and Eighteenth Avenue
Old Downtown, New Brunswick, Massachusetts


Box alarm. One-niner-four-seven. Two engines and a ladder from the 499, responding.
Or, put another way, Anne Ashburn’s Friday night date had showed up on time and was taking her to a show. Granted, “on time” was the precise moment she had sat down for a meal at the stationhouse with her crew, and the “show” was a warehouse fire they were going to have to chorus-line for. But if you judged the health of a relationship on its constancy and whether it brought purpose and meaning to your life?
Then this firefighting gig was the best damn partner a woman could ask for.
As Engine Co. 17 turned the corner onto Harbor with siren and lights going, Anne glanced around the shallow seating area of the apparatus. There were four jump seats behind the cab, two forward- facing, two rear-, the pairs separated by an aisle of gear. Emilio “Amy” Chavez and Patrick “Duff” Duffy were on one side. She and Daniel “Dannyboy” Maguire were on the other. Up in front, Deshaun “Doc” Lewis, the engineer, was behind the wheel, and Captain Christopher “Chip” Baker, the incident commander, was shotgun.
Her nickname was “Sister.” Which was what happened when you were the sibling of the great Fire Chief Thomas Ashburn Jr., and the daughter of the revered—falsely as it turned out— Thomas Ashburn, Sr.
Not everybody called her that, though.
            She focused on Danny. He was staring out the open window, the cold November wind blowing his black hair back, his exhausted blue eyes focused on nothing. In their bulky turnouts, their knees brushed every time the engine bumped over sewer access panels, potholes, manholes, intersections.
            Okay, okay, she wanted to say to fate. I know he’s there. You don’t have to keep reminding me.
            The hardheaded bastard was a lot of things, most of which carried terms you couldn’t use around your grandmother, but he knew she hated the “Sister” thing, so to him, she was Ashburn.
            He’d also called her Anne—once. Late at night about three weeks ago.
            Yes, they had been naked at the time. Oh, God . . . had they finally done that?
            “I’m gonna beat you at pong,” he said without looking at her. “Soon as we get back.”
            “No chance.” She hated that he knew she’d been staring at him. “All talk, Dannyboy.”
            “Fine.” He turned to face her. “I’ll let you win, how about that?”
            His smile was slow, knowing, evil. And her temper answered the phone on the first ring.
            “The hell you will.” Anne leaned forward. “I won’t play with you if you cheat.”
“Even if it benefits you?”
“That’s not winning.”
“Huh. Well, you’ll have to explain to me the ins and outs of it when we’re back at the house. While I’m beating you.”
Anne shook her head and glared out the open window.
The first tap on her leg she ascribed to a bump in the road.
The second, third, and fourth were obviously—
She looked back at Danny. “Stop it.”
“What?”
“Are you twelve?” As he started to smile, she knew exactly where his mind had gone. “Not inches. Age.”
“I’m pretty sure I peak more like at sixteen.” He lowered his voice. “What do you think?”
Between the sirens and the open windows, no one else could hear them—and Danny never pulled the double entendre if there was a risk of that. But yes, Anne now knew intimately all of his heavily muscled and tattooed anatomy. Granted, it had been only that once.
Then again, unforgettable only had to happen one time.
“I think you’re out of your mind,” she muttered.
And then they were at the scene. The old 1900s-era warehouse was a shell of its former useful self, sixty-five thousand square feet of broken glass panes, rotting beams, and blown-off roof panels. The outer walls were brick, but based on the age, the floors and any room dividers inside were going to be wood. The blaze was in the northeast corner on the second floor, billowing smoke wafting up into the forty-degree night air before being carried away by a southerly wind.
            As Anne’s boots hit the ground, she pulled the top half of her turnouts closed. Her ponytail was up high on the back of her head, and she stripped out the band, reorganized the shoulder length, and cranked things tight at her nape. The brown was still streaked with blond from the summer, but she needed to get it trimmed—so all that lightness was on the chopping block.
            Of course, if she were a woman “who took care of herself,” she’d get it highlighted through the winter months. Or so her mother liked to tell her. But who the hell had time for that?
            “Sister, you sweep the place with Amy for addicts,” Captain Baker commanded. “Stay away from that corner. Danny and Duff, run those lines!”
            As Captain Baker continued to bark orders out, she turned away. She had her assignment. Until she completed it, or there was an insurmountable obstacle or change of order, she was required to execute that directive and no other.
            “Be safe in there, Ashburn.”
            The words were soft and low, meant for her ears alone. And as she glanced over her shoulder, Danny’s Irish eyes were not smiling.
            A ripple of premonition made her rub the back of her neck. “Yeah, you, too, Maguire.”
            “Piece’a cake. We’ll be back at pong before ten.” They walked away from each other at the same time, Danny going around to the stacks of hoses in the back, her linking up with Chavez…

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Liar by Stephanie St. Klaire | ARC Review

Liar (Faux-Mance #1) by Stephanie St. Klaire
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 23, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 190
Source: eARC from InkSlinger PRR
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

Fake it until you make it. That was the mantra Cori Dash chanted as she chased a big city dream. The more you tell people you’re on top of the world, the more they believe it – just like they believed the embellished image she sold them with her knock off designer facade. It wasn’t lying if the truth stood somewhere in the middle – and she didn’t get caught. 

Dominic Blackthorne owned half of that big city…and a reputation. Rather than dispel rumors or show the world the real Nick, he let his own fake image run free. Until Cori Dash – the only person who told him exactly how it was, even if it stung. 

When Cori is faced with her ex-fiance, now engaged to her ex-best friend, it’s game on. In her boldest move yet, she concocts her biggest lie to date by introducing the first handsome stranger that walks by as her new fiancĂ©. Happy to play the part, Nick is already planning the fake wedding of her dreams. 

You know what they say about lying – the truth always comes out – and it hurts. Especially when Cori finds out she isn’t the biggest Liar in this game, and she’s been out played. 


My Thoughts


Going into Liar I was a little worried. I had read one book by this author and while I liked the idea of that story I didn't really like how it turned out. Fake relationships are one of my favorite tropes in romance novels. That coupled with the rest of the description made this sound like a book I would love which is why I decided to give it a try.

Liar wasn't exactly what I was expecting after reading the synopsis but it had such a strong start. The beginning played out like it would in a movie, from Cori latching on to the first stranger she made eye contact with after running into her ex-fiancĂ© to Cori and Nick pretending to be engaged, and I was loving it. I'm not sure if it was meant to be funny but I even laughed a few times at how childish Cori and her ex-best friend were acting. Even Nick joined in at moments and I thought it was hilarious how messy the entire situation was.

About halfway through this book is when things started falling apart. I didn't know going into this the story was meant to be a novella and not a normal length novel. In this case, the story wasn't as good as it could've been if it had the extra time to truly come alive. The author spent so much time setting up the fake relationship and the very beginning of their arrangement that there wasn't enough time for everything else. Even though they were in a fake relationship there were some missed opportunities to show off some significant moments between the two main characters. Most of the important moments were rushed through or were completely missing for example, their first kiss, them realizing they might have a feelings for each other, and other little moments like that. I had this feeling that I missed out getting to see them connect on the romantic side of their relationship.

While I didn't enjoy feeling like I was being rushed through the second half of the story, by the time we got to that I was already invested in the characters and I didn't care too much. In the end I still wanted Cori and Nick to have their happy ending. If you are considering checking out Liar keep in mind some of the things I mentioned above if they'll have a big impact on your enjoyment while reading. With that being said, I feel like Stephanie St. Klaire is one of those authors whose writing improves with each new book release.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Professor Feelgood by Leisa Rayven | Cover Reveal




Professor Feelgood by Leisa Rayven 

September 16th



What's a girl to do when a man who's countless shades of wrong feels oh-so-right?
Ambitious book editor Asha Tate is a hopeless romantic. Despite her mediocre track record with men, she believes in swooning, sighing, and the everlasting love of true soul mates. Sure, sex is okay, but she’s not someone who’s ever been driven by her animal urges.

Until now.

When Asha stumbles upon the scorching hot Instagram feed of someone calling himself Professor Feelgood, she falls in lust for the first time. Not only is she left panting over the professor’s insane body, but his angst-filled poetry about losing his one true love speaks straight to her soul.

Desperately in need of a bestseller for her struggling publishing company, Asha knows the professor’s potential to sell to his millions of loyal followers could be the lifeline her bosses need. However, the ink is barely dry on a book deal before she realizes she’s made a terrible mistake. Sure, the professor is incredibly talented and sexier than any man has a right to be, but the man behind the persona isn’t at all who she pictured. In real life, he’s intense, arrogant and infuriating, and his uncanny ability to rub her the wrong way turns her dream project into a total nightmare.
Knowing that the professor is everything she doesn’t want in a man should help Asha ignore her occasional urges to mount him, but she quickly learns that explosive, unwanted chemistry can make even smart people do stupid things.



Don't miss this sexy new standalone from the international bestselling author of Bad Romeo!

Amazon US: https://goo.gl/UMAViT
iBooks: https://goo.gl/dBbkHZ
B&N: https://goo.gl/Nsv67M
Kobo: https://goo.gl/u395t1
Goodreads: https://goo.gl/QazQbk


Leisa Rayven


Twitter: https://twitter.com/leisarayven?lang=en
Website: https://leisarayven.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8034143.Leisa_Rayven
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Leisa-Rayven/e/B00MDA7RPG
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leisarayvenauthor/

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Wedding from Hell Part 2: The Reception | Blog Tour

The Wedding from Hell
Part 2: The Reception
by J. R. Ward
Available: August 7, 2018
Gallery Books | E-book Original
ISBN: 9781982105372 | Free


The Wedding from Hell, Part 2: The Rehearsal Dinner is the exciting second adventure in J.R. Ward’s three-part ebook serialization: The Wedding From Hell. This exclusive prequel to her upcoming standalone suspense, Consumed (available in Fall 2018) takes us back to the night steamy arson investigator Anne Ashburn and ‘bad boy’ firefighter Danny Maguire will never forget.






About the Book:
The Wedding From Hell, Part 2: The Reception: As the wedding from hell continues, Anne and Danny find themselves walking the delicate balance between professional distance and explosive attraction. Will the desire they feel last through the night and change their lives? Or are they doomed to part after one night of passion?

About the Author:
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

Purchase Link: http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Wedding-from-Hell-Part-2-The-Reception/J-R-Ward/9781982105372


Video from J.R. Ward:


Excerpt:

Saturday, October 31
T minus 2 hours ’til blastoff
St. Mary’s Cathedral, New Brunswick, Massachusetts

Anne Ashburn had never had veil envy, as they called it. As a young girl, she had never pictured herself walking down an aisle in a white dress, ready to be rescued by a knight-in-shining-armor groom who was going to take charge and take care of her for the rest of her life.
Nope. Anne had wanted to fight fires like her father and then her brother. Even though she no longer respected the former, and had a strained relationship with the latter, she’d wanted to pull on turnouts and strap an air tank to her back and breathe canned air as she ran into open flames dragging hundreds of pounds of charged line with her. She’d wanted to rescue grandmothers, and children, and people who had succumbed to smoke inhalation. She’d been ready to cut open crumpled cars and drag broken bodies out of wreckage at the sides of highways. She’d been determined that the extremes of cold winter nights, hot summer days, physical exhaustion, and mental fatigue would never keep her from doing her job.
So, yup, the old fashioned Mrs. degree had never held any fascination for her. There was no way in hell she was going to be like her mother, living a derivative, nineteen-fifties version of life, nothing but a pretty blow-up doll that was expected to cook, clean, and cut the yapping.
On that note, as she pulled into St. Mary’s parking lot and looked up at the great cathedral’s stained glass windows and lofty spires, she decided it made sense that not only was she not the bride, she wasn’t even a bridesmaid.
Like the rest of the crew down at the 499 firehouse, she was a groomsmen in the impending nuptials of Robert “Moose” Miller and Deandra—what the hell was her last name anyway? Cox. That was it.
        Anne was thinking groomsmen was a role she might as well get used to. Not that Duff, Emilio, Deshaun, or any of the other men she worked with were settling down anytime soon.
        Especially not Dannyboy Maguire.
        Right on cue, a Ford truck entered the parking lot, the late afternoon sun flashing across its windshield.
        As Anne’s heart kicked in her chest, she was tempted to hustle in the side door of the church—but she had never been one to run from a challenge.
        Danny was more than just a challenge, though.
        And okay, fine. So maybe she had already run out of his way at least once: Last night, at the rehearsal dinner, she’d positively bolted after he’d made that speech of his.
I never believed in love . . . I thought it was just a word, a title folks gave to daydreams and misconceptions about destiny, a lie folks told to themselves to make them feel solid in this imperfect, unreliable, and mean-ass world.
        Now I know it can happen between two people. And it doesn’t have to make sense because it’s not about logic. And it doesn’t have to have good timing because forever is like infinity, without beginning or end. And it doesn’t have to be defined because truth is like faith—it just is.
        So, let’s toast to love.
        He’d looked at her while he’d spoken. He had been talking . . . to her . . . in that slow, deep voice.
        Everybody else had toasted Moose and Deandra. But Anne had known it hadn’t been about them. Danny, ever the ladies man, king of the one-night stand, he who shalt never be tied down . . . seemed to be suggesting not just that he’d had a change of heart.
        But that he might have given his own to Anne.
        Unless she was misreading everything? Then again, they had kissed the night before that. In her living room. While riding an adrenaline high after they’d saved a life in an alleyway.
        And lips-to-lips had been better than good, the rare circumstance when reality had improved on a fantasy. After two years of attraction and sizzle and unacknowledged heat, that which had been pushed under the rug was exposed now. And there was no going back.
        Especially as she felt the same way.
        So hell yeah she had bolted out of that restaurant. The second she had been able to get up from her chair, she had hit the exit and left Danny without a ride home.
        He’d called two hours later. He’d been in a bar, probably
Timeout where the crew always went, the noise in the background loud and raucous.
        She had not answered. He had left a short message, but not called again.
        Anne just wasn’t sure what to do. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. There were plenty of things she wanted to do to him, with him, on him—all of which were naked and erotic and not necessarily only horizontal.
        Refocusing, she watched Danny’s truck pass by. From behind the wheel, he looked over at her.
        She waited for him to find a space and get out, and as he walked across to her, she tried—tried—not to go sixteen-year-old girl at the sight of him in a tuxedo.
        #epicfail
        He was very tall, over six feet five, and he was built hard and muscular, his shoulders so wide, his chest so broad, his waist the point of the inverted triangle of his torso. His jet-black hair was still damp, and what sunlight there was in the mostly cloudy sky flashed blue in its depths. He was freshly shaven—his cologne reaching her nose even before he stopped in front of her—and his eyes were that brilliant blue that had always arrested her. Irish eyes.
        But they were not smiling.
        For a man who was rarely serious, he looked positively grim, and she frowned.
        “You okay?” Stupid question. “I mean—”
        “Yeah, no. I’m fine.”
        Standard answer for firefighters when they were in pain. And she wondered if it had to do with that speech of his, and what she could have sworn he had been telling her.
        His eyes shifted off to the side and then his mouth got thinner.
“And here’s the blushing bride.”
        A stretch limo entered the parking area and made a fat turn toward the back door of the cathedral. When it stopped, its driver got out and went to the rear door.
        Seven all-in-pink, spray-tanned, body-glittered, and blond-streaked women got out one by one, a clown car of bridesmaids who were such carbon copies of each other, it was like they had been ordered out of a catalogue.
        And then the white dress emerged.
        Deandra, Moose’s intended, had her blond-streaked hair—natch—piled up on her head in an organized, sculpted waterfall of curls. Her veil was a gossamer fall over her tiny waist and her big skirt, and the shimmer of crystals across the bodice and down the front and sides of the gown made her look like a princess.
        Provided you didn’t catch her expression.
        She was sour as an old woman with gout and shingles. In spite of the fact that she was supposedly marrying her true love, she looked downright nasty as she snapped at the driver, glared at her maid of honor, and yanked her skirting up to march into the back of the church.
        “Wow,” Anne muttered. “That’s a happy bride.”
        “Whatever. They’re on their own with this dumbass idea.”
        “Did you happen to talk to Moose last night?” she blurted.
“As in out of this? Or would that be considered tacky given it was less than twenty-four hours before the priest hit the altar with them.”
        Danny rolled his eyes. “He’s bound and determined to ball-and-chain himself. Personally, I’d be running in the opposite direction.”
        And then there was silence between them. Tension coiled up quick, and as Anne’s temples started to pound, she decided it was going to be a long night, just not for the reasons she’d assumed at the beginning of the weekend.