Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wicked Torture by J. Kenner | ARC Review

Wicked Torture (Stark World #3) by J. Kenner
Publisher: EverAfter Romance
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 300
Source: eARC from InkSlinger PR
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

Outwardly, Noah Carter is riding high as the tech world’s hottest new genius. Inside, he’s still reeling from the abduction of his wife and baby daughter eight years ago, and then the devastating discovery of his child’s body. For years, he kept up hope that his wife was alive, but now that she’s been declared legally dead, he’s thrown himself even more deeply into his work, cutting himself off from emotional ties because they just hurt too damn much.

Then he meets Kiki Porter, an eternal optimist with a killer work ethic and dreams of fronting a band. And everything changes. Even though he tries his damnedest to fight it…

Sexually, they are combustible together. But their true fire is emotional, though it is a slow to burn. But once it lights, it is all consuming. The relationship grows emotionally, the sex is hot, things are good.

But just when it’s looking like they might have a real future together, the past comes back to haunt them. And Noah’s going to have to decide what he’s willing to give up for love …

My Thoughts


Wicked Torture is the third book in the Stark World series. Although this is the third book in the series each of them can be read as a standalone. As can be expected when going into a book with characters who have been previously introduced, it was a little unsettling because I felt like there was information about Noah I should have already known. I felt like I was missing out on some things at first but I enjoyed working my way through Noah's story.

At the beginning of this story Noah is reeling with guilt over the loss of his wife and daughter. It has been almost 10 years since they were kidnapped and his daughter's body was found but he hasn't allowed himself to heal. After another failed attempt to distract himself he runs into Kiki, someone connected to his past. I appreciate that it wasn't completely easy for them. Even though the attraction between the two never died, they had to learn to trust each other again and I liked being able to see that process.

I'll admit I'm a skeptical person so I still didn't completely believe everything that happened with Noah's wife. Some parts seemed a little too easy and didn't explain everything that happened. Wicked Torture was a lot darker than I was expecting but I still wanted a little more. This was a fast read and it's one to check out if this sounds like your type of read.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Hooking Up by Helena Hunting | ARC Review

Hooking Up by Helena Hunting
Publisher: SMP Swerve
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 444
Source: eARC from Publisher
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

Amalie Whitfield is the picture of a blushing bride during her wedding reception–but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of proclaiming his undying love, her husband can be heard, by Amalie and their guests, getting off with someone else. She has every reason to freak out, and in a moment of insanity, she throws herself at the first hot-blooded male she sees. But he’s not interested in becoming her revenge screw.

Mortified and desperate to escape the post-wedding drama, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone, only to find the man who rejected her also heading to the same tiny island for work. But this time he isn’t holding back. She should know better than to sleep with someone she knows, but she can’t seem to resist him.

They might agree that what happens on the island should stay on the island, but neither one can deny that their attraction is more than just physical. 

Filled with hilariously scandalous situations and enough sexual chemistry to power an airplane from New York City to the South Pacific, Hooking Up is the next standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Helena Hunting, the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series and Shacking Up.

My Thoughts


Before starting Hooking Up I didn't realize this would be following characters that first made an appearance in Shacking Up. This book can read as a standalone but if you guys care about reading things in order you should read that one first. This book opens following Amalie Whitfield. She has just gotten married and instead of celebrating everyone hears her husband cheating during the reception. Instead of dealing with everything, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone.

Since I didn't read Shacking Up and I didn't have any background about any of the characters, everything was new to me. This made it such an exciting read. I can't remember the last time I went through so many emotions while reading a book. Amie was such a unique and well written character. At first she seems polite and reserved but as she starts revealing more about herself it's clear that she's very sassy. I absolutely love Lex! I think he's my favorite male character from a romance novel that I've read recently. He's sexy and goes after what he wants but he's also sweet and caring. Lex is there for Amie when she needs it throughout the book and he does right her every single time even if it's not always what he wants.

I'm quickly discovering that Helena Hunting might be becoming one of my new favorite authors for contemporary romance novels. I can't wait to go back and read Shacking Up so I can see Amie's best friend Ruby fall in love and learn a little more about the characters from this book. Hooking Up is one of my favorite reads this year and I'm going to be recommending it to anyone that loves the genre!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fairytale Christmas by Merrie Destefano | ARC Review

Fairytale Christmas (The Fair Folk Saga #1) by Merrie Destefano
Publisher: Self-Published
Expected Publication Date: December 4, 2017
Genre: YA/Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 98
Source: eARC from Author
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

Three thousand years ago, a war began between the immortals and the mortals. It's a war that continues to this day...

Before history began, a legendary queen battled a foreign army, braved the death of her husband, and faced betrayal at the hand of someone she trusted. This is the story of Eire, Queen of the Faeries, the Immortal One, and the leader of the Tuatha de Danann. 

To this day, her homeland, Ireland, bears her name, and this is the story of the war that drove the Immortal Ones into exile. It's also the tale of how she found help from an unexpected place, leading her to a love like she had never known before.

Fairytale Christmas is a story that spans thousands of years. It's also the beginning of all of our fairytales and legends; it's where mortals and immortals survive because they love one another, proving that love is the greatest gift of all.

This is the first installment in the Saga of the Fair Folk, a journey that lasts until the end of time.

My Thoughts


Fairytale Christmas is the first book in what I believe is going to be a YA/Adult crossover novella series. This story follows Eire, Queen of the Faeries, as her homeland is invaded and the faeries are driven into exile. Honestly, that's an over simplification of the plot and I would suggest checking out the full description.

I really enjoyed the premise of the story. The plot was intriguing and the writing was really well done. All these things made the story easy to get into and was engaging to the point where I didn't want to stop reading. However, I felt like this was just the bones of a story. Since this novella was so short, there wasn't a lot of time to explore more than the plot. I didn't feel like I knew much about the different types of fat which made parts of this story a little confusing for me. Also, since the story was moving so fast I didn't feel like I got the time to connect with and really care about the characters.

I'm not sure if this story is based on any specific mythology. If it is, I've never read it (but I would be interested in reading it) and could explain why I didn't understand some of the things that were going on. I would love to see the author expand this into a full length novel so the characters and the world have room to grow. If you're looking for a quick, fun fantasy read give Fairytale Christmas a try!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Learning Hours by Sara Ney | Audiobook Review

The Learning Hours (How to Date a Douchebag #3) by Sara Ney
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 345
Source: Audiobook from InkSlinger PR
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

He's not a douchebag; but that doesn't stop his friends from turning him into one.

MY FRIENDS WANT ME TO GET LAID.

So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:

Are you the lucky lady who's going to break our roommate's cherry?
Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have a pulse. He will reciprakate with oral. Text him at: 555-254-5551


The morons can't even spell. And the texts I've been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I'm not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.

THIS ISN'T THE KIND OF ATTENTION I WANT.

One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can't bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white.

However, after seeing her in person, I know she's not the girl for me. But my friends won't let up--they just don't get it. Douchebags or not, there's one thing they'll never understand: GIRLS DON'T WANT ME. 

Especially her.

My Thoughts


The Learning Hours is book three in the How to Date a Douchebag series. Sara Ney is a new-to-me author so I didn't have any experience withe characters from the previous book. In my defense I didn't realize this part of the series before I started reading the series. Since everything was completely new to me, I didn't know what to expect.

When I first started reading I was apprehensive about the relationship between the two main characters. The two of them were so different and I didn't see how a relationship could work between the two. Rhett, who recently transferred schools, seems like a genuinely nice guy. He's not all like what I was expecting from the series title and it was refreshing. Laurel, on the other hand, was a lot different from any character I've read in new adult before and honestly I was a little annoyed with her for a while. She takes pride in her appearance but what I didn't like was how she used the way she looks to look down on and judge people, especially Rhett, before she even knows them. I appreciate that Laurel doesn't let her judgements stop her from getting to know Rhett and eventually acknowledges that her judgements were wrong.

This was the first time I've ever read/listened to a romance novel through audiobook. I really liked that there were two narratives for the dual perspectives. There were a couple things I wish were done differently. Since there were two narrators I would have liked to hear each narrator when their character spoke instead of being limited to when the perspective switched. This would have been especially usually for the text conversation instead of having to hear each name before the text that was sent. Besides little things like this I really enjoyed the audiobook. The Learning Hours was a lot of fun and the audiobook only added to the experience. The story is worth checking out whether you decide to read it or listen to the audiobook.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Hangry by Lily Kate | Blog Tour

Hangry (The Girls #1) by Lily Kate
Publisher: Heat, Heart, and Humor Books
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 392
Source: eARC from InkSlinger PR
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

han·gry  
/haNGɡrē/ 
adjective informal 
bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger. 
"I get very hangry if I miss a meal" 

From USA Today bestselling author Lily Kate comes a brand new series... 

Ladies & Gents, 

I sold my soul for a hamburger 

And I have no regrets. When a girl is trapped indefinitely in an elevator with a smoking hot burger and an empty stomach, even the strongest of women will crumble. 

The story goes like this: Bradley Hamilton, former professional hockey player and the most frustrating human alive, offered me half of his hamburger in exchange for a date. I took him up on the offer—while under duress—and now I’m stuck with the consequences. Specifically, the scorching kiss that has me drooling for more. 

However, there’s one whopper of a problem. This man has been a thorn in my side for the last twenty years—ever since he moved next door and became my older brother’s best friend. We’ve gone head to head for years, and now, he’s trying to buy out my restaurant in order to plop one of his big fat gyms there instead. 

I refuse to let him ruin my business. Unfortunately, Bradley Hamilton is like an order of french fries: you just can’t have one. It appears our lips are addicted to kissing. He’s alarmingly handsome. Deliciously confident. And worst of all? Underneath that salty exterior he’s starting to show signs of sweet. 

Brad Hamilton is my guilty pleasure, my cheat meal, my greatest craving. 

Which is why he’ll be one habit that’s hard to kick. 

My Thoughts


Hangry is the first book in a new series by Lily Kate. Although she has a few books out, this was my introduction to this author. Hangry follows Bradley Hamilton and Lexi Monroe. The two have known each other for 20 years but haven't really spoken for the last 3 years until they get stuck in an elevator together. They make a deal to go on a date together and the story takes off from there.

Before getting into my opinion, I think the synopsis gives away too much information and is a bit misleading. I felt the synopsis basically gave an outline of the story so I wasn't surprised by most of the events that happened. It was also misleading because certain events were exaggerated or they didn't happen as they were stated in the synopsis. Going into this book, I thought Hangry was an enemies-to-lovers story but it wasn't that kind of story. If possible I would know go into this novel knowing as little as possible, I think it would make the read a lot more enjoyable if you do.

Despite those things, I still think this was a decent storyline. After enemies-to-lovers, life long friends realizing that maybe they love each other is one of my favorite things to read about in contemporary romance novels. While frustrated with them at times, I found myself hoping the main characters worked through their issue and were able to be happy together. Since Lexi and Bradley have so much history, everything else would be worth it in the end. I can see this being a story lots of people enjoy but this one was missing some things for me. I want to check out more from this author in the future.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hard Wood by Lauren Blakely | Release Day!


From #1 NYT Bestselling author Lauren Blakely, comes a hot and hilarious standalone romance about what happens when you have one week to convince your best friend’s little sister that you’re the one for her. What could possibly go wrong? It looks like things are about to get hard in the woods...Don’t miss the laugh-out-loud and insanely hot story, HARD WOOD!


Now available on all retailers! Grab your copy today, and get HARD WOOD in your hands!

   

✮✮✮ HARD WOOD is here! Grab your copy today! ✮✮✮


From #1 NYT Bestselling author Lauren Blakely comes a hot & hilarious new standalone romantic comedy...

Women often say a good man is hard to find. And a hard man is even better.

That's why I'm quite a catch-- good, hard, loaded, and wait for it...I'm ready to settle down too. But the woman I want to pitch my tent with lives clear across the country. Neither of us wants to get lost in those woods. All I have to do is resist her for the week she's in town.

I try. I swear I try. But yeah, that doesn't work out.

And after one fantastic night with my good friend Mia, I'm ready to give her years of nights under the stars. What's a few thousand miles when love's involved? But there's a hitch in my plans -- she just hired my adventure tour company. If there's one thing I'm committed to, it's running a squeaky clean business. Number one on my list of iron-clad rules?

Don't screw your customers.

But what's a guy to do when she's so hard to resist? How hard can it be to keep our hands off each other for a quick group tour down the hills and over the trails? I'm about to find out, and I have a feeling I'm going to need a new badge of honor because things are about to get very hard in the woods.


You can find this sexy standalone romantic comedy available across all retailers now!

✦Kindle US ➜ http://amzn.to/2gudVgq

✦Kindle UK ➜ http://amzn.to/2xXwncq

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✦Kobo ➜ http://bit.ly/2tIJoQo

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✦Google Play ➜ http://bit.ly/2x5DHPH

✦Amazon PB ➜ http://amzn.to/2x8Y54c

✦Amazon Audio ➜ http://amzn.to/2znV6Uu

✦Audible ➜ http://adbl.co/2x5FyE6

   


✦ The audiobook is narrated by Sebastian York! Get your copy today! ✦ Audible * Amazon Audio

   


Hard Wood is the kind of heart-racing, hope soaring, face-flushing love story that I love to read! It was sexy, romantic, funny and an absolute pleasure to read.” ~Red Cheeks Reads

"HARD WOOD was such an adorable love story! A hot guy and his famous cat looking for their happily ever after ... Perfect #RomCom!" ~Bianca at BJ’s Book Blog

 
 

"I never fail to fall in love with Lauren Blakely's stories. Hard Wood is a swoony romance that will warm your heart and possibly other body parts." ~Peggy Lee, Reading Keeps Me Sane Book Blog


Add it to Goodreads here! http://bit.ly/2uAoPJW

   


And don’t miss Lauren Blakely’s other standalone Romantic Comedies!

BIG ROCK MISTER O WELL HUNG FULL PACKAGE JOY RIDE

   


✮✮✮ Enter to win this amazing HARD WOOD GIVEAWAY! ✮✮✮

The HARD WOOD Urban Adventure Pack ($380 value) is filled with:

A stylish Michael Kors backpack for when a purse is not enough for your shopping adventture

$50 Gift Card to The Body Shop to pamper yourself after a long day

Your very own plush Zeus to snuggle with

A Smores Making Kit for a backyard adventure

http://laurenblakely.com/hard-wood-giveaway/



 About Lauren Blakely: A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that's hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than eighty times, and she's sold more than 2 million books. In October, she'll release HARD WOOD, the final standalone romantic comedy in the Big Rock series. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter
 
   

If somehow you still aren't convinced, check out this excerpt!


I haven’t seen Mia in almost a month, since the last time she was in town staying with Max. I didn’t realize she’d be back a full week before her other brother Chase’s wedding, and am I ever glad to see her again.

She makes all parts of me quite happy indeed.

By happy, I mean hard as a rock.

Okay, fine. It’s not like I’m operating at full power this second. I’m thirty-three, not fifteen. I have plenty of self-control in the “when and where to pitch a tent” arena. All I’m saying is this woman gets me going, and I feel that zip down my body when I see her.

She’s on the phone, her eyebrows pinched, her expression harried. She drags her hand through her caramel-blond hair. As I walk closer, I hear her say, “I understand. Yes, I understand. Things happen.”

And that’s the sound of someone being disappointed.

Which is a terrible thing for this sexy-as-a-fiery-sunset woman to experience.

When she stops and ends her call, she spots me. She tilts her head, her eyes piercing, her brow furrowed, and her dimples killing me with cuteness. Her eyes roam from me to Zeus, and then she points at my boy. “I don’t know if anyone has told you this . . .”

I raise my eyebrows. “Tell me. What could it possibly be?”

Her eyes drift to the ground then back up. In a deadpan tone, she says, “But there’s a cat in your hat? Well, on your back, actually.”

“There is?” I crane my neck to peer over my shoulder. “You’re right. How did he get there?”

She parks her hands on her hips. “You’re in big trouble.”

“I’ve been bad, have I?”

She pushes my shoulder then wags her finger at me. “How did you keep this from me?”

I quirk an eyebrow. “The fact that there’s an awesome new Italian place down the street? It opened last month, and I planned to tell you.”

She huffs, rolling her eyes. “I’ve known you for months and you didn’t tell me you had a cat. Friends don’t hide pets from friends.”

She’s not in town that often. She hasn’t ever been to my apartment. And I don’t take Zeus upstairs to Max’s. But I’m not going to state the obvious. I’m going to have a little fun with her. Flirt with her. Because . . . that’s what we do.

“There’s a reason for that.”

Her eyes go wide, and she taps her toe, waiting. I drag a hand through my hair. Evie says my light brown hair is floppy, and she tells me this is a good thing. The ladies love floppy hair, she says. She’s been right so far. My hair’s been a big hit with the ladies, and other parts have, too.

“It’s a good reason,” I add.

“I’m waiting, Patrick. This really isn’t the type of intel you should hold back.”

I heave a sigh as if I’m going to make a huge admission, then I park a hand on her shoulder. Because, well, I’m a sneaky bastard and I’ll look for any opening to touch her. “Look, I’m going to be blunt. If I told you I had a hiking cat who rides shotgun in a backpack and can purr like he’s a jazz superstar, you’d have had no choice but to fall in love with me.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bad for Her by Christi Barth | Blog Tour

Bad for Her (Bad Boys Gone Good #1) by Christi Barth
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432
Source: eARC from InkSlinger PR
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

Doctor Mollie Vickers loves the tight-knit community of her tiny Oregon town. But she’s not a fan of the limited dating options. Sleep with a guy who tried to copy off her in junior high? Pass. Mollie’s sex life is flatlining… until a deliciously handsome man she’s never seen before stops to help her fix a flat tire.

As an ex-mobster, Rafe Maguire’s no saint. But he’s trying to turn over a new leaf. Although he probably shouldn’t kiss the hot doctor on the side of the highway. Or suggest a no-strings fling with a woman he has no business pursuing. Rafe’s life is too complicated for love—his new WITSEC-provided identity doesn’t fit him at all and there’s a U.S. Marshal watching his every move. He can’t tell Mollie the truth… but their chemistry is scorching and being good doesn’t mean he can’t be a little bad.

Mollie can’t resist the guy who looks rough, talks tough, and is loyal to the bone. But it’s obvious Rafe is keeping secrets. When the truth comes out, Mollie must decide if she could ever love an ex-mobster… or if this bad boy has truly gone good.

My Thoughts


Lately I've read a lot of contemporary romance novels but Bad for Her is unique when compared to the books I've read that fit into this genre. Rafe Maguire is an ex-mobster and has entered into witness protection in order to keep his family safe. After some trail and error the brothers end up in a small town in Oregon. This is where Rafe meets Mollie Vickers, a doctor that live in Bandon, and there's an instant attraction between the two.

Characters usually have a big impact on my enjoyment while reading a story All the characters that had somewhat prominent roles were so well thought out. While reading I felt like I knew each of them and could point them out a street. It might sound weird to say but they breathed life into this story.

As much as I enjoyed the overall story, I was a bit disappointed with the ending. There was too much that I felt was left open ended. Since there are going to be more books in the series I'm guessing things concerning why the brothers were in witness protection in the first place will carry on to the next book(s). However, I wish there was some sense of resolution for that part of the story even it it was only a temporary one. I look forward to seeing what's next for the Maguire brothers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sweet Time by Nina Lane | ARC Review

Sweet Time (Sugar Rush #4) by Nina Lane
Publisher: Snow Queen Publishing
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 164
Source: eARC from InkSlinger PR
Find on Goodreads




Goodreads Description

Stuck in a boring insurance job, vivacious Mia Donovan has spent the last few years searching for her life's true path. She fills her time helping plan the wedding of her best friend to the CEO of the Sugar Rush Candy Company. 

Mia has also been trying to attract the impossibly rigid Sugar Rush security chief Gavin Knight. But for well over a year, the unyielding Mr. Knight has ignored her, despite her short skirts, tight sweaters, and patently obvious flirting. And when he finally approaches her, it's only to assess the wedding plans for potential security risks.

A former soldier, Gavin has intercepted hostile anonymous letters threatening the high-profile wedding. Determined to keep everyone safe, he's forced to work with the maddeningly sexy Miss Donovan of the thousand-watt charm and irresistible body.

Irked by Gavin's many months of disregard, Mia takes her teasing flirtations to a whole new level. But her coquettish ways are no match for the edgy, lust-fueled dominant he conceals behind his impassive exterior. And when Gavin exerts his full control, Mia discovers he can protect everything except her heart. 

My Thoughts


Sweet Time is the fourth book in the series Sugar Rush. This book follows Mia Donovan and Gavin Knight. At the start of the book the two have known each other for at least a year. While Mia has done everything she can think of to get Gavin's attention, he's managed to ignore her for the last year. However, everything changes when Mia and Gavin have to work together on logistics for Polly's, Mia's best friend, wedding.

This my introduction into the series and as can be expected I missed out on some of the references to past characters/relationships. Although I was a little lost on that end I didn't feel like that took anything from the story.

After years of no response, or even acknowledgment from Gavin, Mia has decided to try to move on from him. From Mia's point of view Gavin is impassive but we soon find out he's not unaffected by her as he tries to seem. Once Gavin finally gives in to Mia's advances their relationship takes off. There were the hot and steamy moments but there were also difficult times the two had to talk/work through. They were only together for about two weeks but I felt like they learned so much about each other during this time. I really enjoyed this book and will be going back to check out the rest of the series.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hooking Up by Helena Hunting | 1st Chapter




Back in August I was lucky enough to be apart of the cover reveal for Hooking Up by Helena Hunting. Today I'm here to bring you the first chapter! I hope you guys enjoy!


One
Wedding Unbliss
Amie
This is the happiest day of my life. I allow that thought to roll around in my head, trying to figure out why it doesn’t seem to resonate the way it should. This should be the happiest day of my life. So I’m not exactly certain why the uneasy feeling I associate with cold feet is getting worse rather than dissipating. I’ve already done the hard part; walked down the aisle and said “I do.”
My husband excused himself to go to the bathroom several minutes ago and, based on Armstrong’s itinerary for the day, speeches are supposed to begin promptly at eight-thirty. According to my phone, that’s less than two minutes from now, and he’s not here. The emcee for the evening is awaiting Armstrong’s return before he begins. And then the real party can start. The one where we get to celebrate our commitment to each other as partners for life. As in the rest of my breathing days. Dear God, why does that make my stomach twist?
I sip my white wine. Armstrong pointed out that red is not a good idea with my dress, even though it’s my preference. Besides, I don’t want it to stain my teeth. That would make for bad pictures.
I glance around the hall and see my parents, who are probably celebrating the fact that I didn’t walk down the aisle with a convicted felon. And frankly, so am I. My dating history pre-Armstrong wasn’t fabulous.
The sheer number of people in attendance spikes my anxiety. Speaking in front of all of these people makes me want to drink more, which is a bad idea. Tipsy speeches could lead to saying the wrong thing. I check my phone under the table again. It’s after eight-thirty. The longer Armstrong takes to return, the further behind we’ll get. The music playlist, devised by Armstrong with painstaking efficiency, leaves no room for tardiness. If we don’t start on time I’ll have to take out a song, or possibly two, to compensate for his delay and he’s selected the order in such a way as to make that difficult and that will annoy him. I just want today to be perfect. I want it to be reflective of my decision to marry Armstrong. That I, Amalie Whitfield, can make good choices and am not a disgrace to my family.
“Where the hell is he?” I scan the room and take another small sip of my wine. I should switch to water soon so I don’t end up drunk, especially later, when all of this is over and we can celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other without clothes on. I’m hopeful it will last more than five minutes.
Ruby, my maid of honor and best friend for the past decade, puts a hand on my shoulder. “Would you like Bancroft to find Armstrong?”
Bancroft, or Bane for short, is Ruby’s boyfriend who she’s been living with for several months. Recently I find myself getting a little jealous of how affectionate they still are with each other, even after all this time. Cohabitation hasn’t slowed them down on the sex or their PDA. I have hope that Armstrong and I will be more like Bane and Ruby now that we’ll be sharing the same bed every night.
I’m about to tell Ruby to give him another minute when a low buzz suddenly fills the hall. It sounds like a school PA system. I start to panic—they can’t start the speeches without Armstrong at my side. What’s the point of speeches if the groom isn’t present?
I’m halfway out of my seat, ready to tell the deejay, or whoever is behind the mic, he needs to wait, when a very loud moan echoes through the room. The acoustics are phenomenal in here, it’s why we chose this venue.
I glance at Ruby to make sure I’m not hearing things. Her eyes are wide. The kind of wide associated with shock. The same shock I’m feeling.
Another moan reverberates through the sound system, followed by the words, “Oh, fuuuck.”
A collective gasp ripples through the now-silent crowd. While the words themselves are scandalous among these guests, it’s the voice groaning them that makes me sit up straighter, and simultaneously consider hiding under the table.
“Fuck yeah. Ah, suck it. That’s it. Deep throat it like a good little slut. Fuuuuuccckkkkk.”
My mouth drops and I look to Ruby to ensure I have not completely lost my mind. “Is that—” I don’t finish the sentence. I already know the answer to the question, so it’s pointless to ask. Besides, I’m cut off by yet another loud groan. I clap a hand over my mouth because I’m not sure I’m able to close it, my disbelief is as vast as the ocean.
Ruby’s expression mirrors mine, except hers is incredibly animated since she’s an actress. “Oh my God. Is that Armstrong?” Her words are no more than a whisper, but they sound very much like a scream. Oh no, wait, that’s just Armstrong on the verge of an orgasm. But these sounds are nothing like the ones he makes when he’s in the throes of passion with me.
I clutch Ruby’s hand. The next sound that comes from him is a hybrid between a hyena laugh and a wolf baying at the moon. And every guest at our wedding is hearing the same thing I am. Our wedding. Someone other than me is blowing my husband at my own wedding. My mortification knows no end.
I grab the closest bottle of wine and dump the contents into my glass. Some of it sloshes over the edge and onto the crisp white tablecloth. It doesn’t matter. There’s plenty more where it came from. I chug the glass, then grab Ruby’s.
People lean in and whisper to each other, eyes lift to the speakers. A few people, the ones who are probably just here for the social-ladder-climbing potential, question who it is.
“Is the deejay watching porn?” That comment comes from a table full of mostly drunk singles in their early twenties.
Several eyes shift my way as I carelessly down Ruby’s wine and someone asks where the groom has disappeared to.
The grunts and groans grow terrifyingly louder. This is nothing like what I’m used to in bed with Armstrong. The dirty words aren’t something he ever uses with me, mostly it’s just noises and sometimes a “Right there” or “I’m close,” but that’s about it. He’s never talked to me like he is to the woman currently providing oral pleasure. And I’m very adept at oral. Although with Armstrong it’s very polite, neat oral, with no sounds other than the occasional hum. Slurping is uncivilized and a definite no-no.
I reach past Ruby for the bottle of red since I don’t really give a flying fuck about purple teeth right now. As I sink low in my seat I pour another glass of wine, surveying the people in the ballroom from behind the cover of the centerpiece. The centerpieces are huge and excessive and I don’t like them at all, but at least provides a protective barrier between the guests and my disgust, which I’m certain they must share. He sounds like a wild animal rutting. It is entirely unsexy. I have no idea who he’s getting intimate with, but I’m suddenly very glad it’s not me.
And doesn’t that tell me more about our relationship than it should.
It’s only been about thirty seconds—the most humiliating thirty seconds of my life—before Armstrong comes. How do I know this? Because he says, very clearly, “Keep sucking, baby, I’m coming.”
And “baby,” whoever she is, makes these horrific gurgling noises. It sounds like some form of alien communication. It’s way over the top, and apparently Armstrong is loving it, based on the string of vile profanity that spews from his asshole mouth.
“Holy crap. Is this for real? That was really fast,” Ruby mutters.
I guzzle my glass of wine. Then decide the glass is unnecessary and take a long swig from the bottle before Ruby snatches it away. Wine dribbles down my chin and onto my chest, staining the white satin purple. My dress is ruined. I should be freaking out. But I really don’t care.
“Come on,” Ruby tugs on my hand. “We need to get you out of here while people are still distracted.”
My older brother Pierce and the emcee are standing in the middle of the hall, gesturing wildly to the speakers above us. My other brother, Lawson, is on his way toward the podium in an attempt to do something. I don’t think there’s anything he can do to stop this train wreck from there.
Ruby tugs again, but I’m frozen, still trying to figure out what exactly just happened. Well, I know what’s happened. I just can’t believe it.
The sound of a zipper and the rustle of clothes follows. “Thanks for that, now I’ll be able to last later tonight,” Armstrong says.
“What about me?” A female asks. Her voice is nasally and whiny.
“What about you?”
“Well I helped you, aren’t you going to help me?”
“Didn’t you come with a date?”
“Well, yes, but—” God her voice is familiar. I just can’t figure out where I know it from.
“My cousin, right? He loves my sloppy seconds. Speeches are starting. I gotta get back to my ball and chain.”
Gasps of horror ripple through the room, followed by a few giggles. These people really are assholes.
I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t believe he’s going to come out here and pretend nothing just happened. Like some other woman didn’t just have her lips around his cock. His distinctly average cock. Maybe even slightly below average in length, if I’m being one hundred percent honest.
A door opens and closes.
Lawson turns on the mic behind the podium and taps it, sending screeching feedback through the room, making people cringe. Too bad no one did that a minute ago.
Murmuring grows louder and glances flicker to the head table and then away as Brittany Thorton, a seriously skanky debutante, comes strutting through the doors, using a compact to check her lipstick. She’s made it her mission to attempt to get into the pants of half the eligible men in this room. She’s followed, not five seconds later, by a very smug-looking Armstrong.
“I’m going to kill him.” I grab the closest steak knife, but it appears my hasty, and possibly felonious, plan is unnecessary. My brothers leave their respective posts and stalk toward him. Across the room my mother is gripping my father’s arm, whispering furiously in his ear. Great. Just what I need, additional family drama.
“Oh shit,” Ruby gasps.
I follow her gaze to find Bane converging on Armstrong with my brothers. Bancroft is a tank and he used to play professional rugby. I’ve seen him with his shirt off, he’s built like a superhero and he’ll probably crush Armstrong, or at least break something. Possibly multiple somethings.
For a second I consider that Ruby should probably stop Bane from destroying Armstrong’s pretty, regal face, but then I realize I don’t actually care. In fact, the possibility that he might break Armstrong’s perfectly straight nose fills me with glee. Armstrong’s wellbeing is no longer my concern, it’s more about Bane ending up in prison for murder.
“I hope Armstrong has a good plastic surgeon, he’s going to need it once Bane is done with him.” Ruby echoes my internal hopes and her chair tips as she jumps up. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.” She nods to the right.
I notice my mother and father engaged in a heated discussion with Armstrong’s parents. I really don’t need this right now. Not the drama. Not the humiliation. All I wanted was a nice wedding. Instead I end up with a husband who gets a blow job during our reception—and it’s broadcast to everyone attending.
Ruby urges me into action. “Don’t worry about them. Get your stuff and we’ll get you the hell out of here. I’ll have the limo meet you by the entrance near your bridal suite as soon as I can.”
I nod and stumble unsteadily to my feet, thanks to having consumed the better part of a bottle of wine in the last minute and a half. It’s amazing how ninety seconds can change a person’s entire life.
All hell breaks loose as more men jump in to either pummel or extract Armstrong from the pummeling. I grab my clutch and phone from the table, gather up my stupid, too puffy gown, and head for the bridal suite, where I had prepared for what was supposed to be the most amazing day of my life. And now it’s likely the worst, at least I hope the mortification level I’m experiencing can’t exceed this. I feel like the foulest version of Cinderella ever.
I rush down the empty hall and grab the doorknob as I fumble around in my clutch for the key. I’m surprised when it turns. I thought I’d locked it before we left for the ceremony. Regardless, I need to get away from everyone before I either lose it or commit a felony. Maybe both. Murder in the first. Armstrong will be my victim. And maybe that horrible skank, Brittany.
I thrust the door open and slam it closed behind me, locking it from the inside. Tears threaten to spill over and ruin my makeup. Not that it matters since there’s no way I’m going out there again. I can’t believe my forever lasted less than twelve hours. I can’t believe the man I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life loving couldn’t be faithful to me for even one day. What the hell is wrong with me? With him? I’m as devastated as I am angry and embarrassed. Once I annul this farce of a marriage I’ll become a spinster. I should probably go ahead and adopt six or seven cats tonight.
“I need to get out of this dress,” I say to myself. I reach behind me and pull the bow at the base of my spine. Instead of unfurling, it knots and I only succeed in pulling it tighter. Of course my dress has to be difficult. I growl my annoyance and rush over to my dressing table where my makeup and perfume are scattered from earlier today. Half a mimosa sits unconsumed beside the vase of red roses Armstrong had delivered.
The card read: I can’t wait to spend forever loving you.
What a load of bullshit. I drain the contents of the champagne flute, not caring that the drink is warm and flat. Then I throw the glass, because it feels good and the sound of shattering crystal is satisfying. Next I heave the vase of roses, which explodes impressively against the wall, splattering water and shards of glass across the floor.
I yank out a couple of the drawers and find a pair of scissors. They actually look more like gardening shears and seem rather out of place, but I don’t question it. Instead I reach behind me with my back to the mirror and awkwardly try to cut myself free. It’s not easy with the way I have to crane my neck.
“Goddammit! I need to get out of this stupid dress!” I yell at my reflection. I think I might actually be losing it just a touch now. I stop messing around with the laces in the back and shove the scissors down the front. I nearly nick myself with the blade—they’re a lot sharper than I realized—but that doesn’t slow me down. I start hacking my way through the bodice; layers of satin, lace, and intricate beading sliced apart with every vicious snip.
I just want out of this nightmare.