Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

New Release Tuesday: To Have and to Hold, Returning Home book 3 by Serena Bell

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WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“I have loved every second of this series and I hope that there will be many more installments to come. This series has everything that I look forward to in getting my love and romance fix.”—Twin Spin

“An absolute must-read . . . To Have and to Hold is fabulous.”—The Romance Reviews

“Five stars . . . [To Have and to Hold is a] crackling read that’s full of emotion and drama.”—Jeannie Zelos Book Reviews

“A great story that unfolds beautifully . . . There’s a great balance of drama and romance, and I really liked the characters and their journey.”—The Escapist Book Blog

“A well-crafted welcome addition to a great series . . . [with] plenty of passion.”—I Love Romantic Fiction

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD (RETURNING HOME, BOOK THREE)

He doesn’t remember her. She cherishes every moment of their time together. Is there any hope for a second chance? 

Hunter Cross has lost a year. There’s a gap in his memory, and the woman who is living in his house has disappeared into it. He slept with her, fell for her, loved her—and he doesn’t remember any of it.

He knows he should send her away—except for one little thing. At night, when she slips into his bed, his body remembers hers.

Trina Levine is heartbroken, alone with her memories. Hunter won’t claim any of it—not the joyful days, not the steamy nights. It’s like Trina Levine dreamed it, and it hurts like nothing else could.

Except when Hunter cries out in his sleep and Trina comforts him. At those moments, Hunter’s body knows hers, and for a few, brief, blissful moments, Trina’s sure everything will be okay again.

Until morning comes.

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TO HAVE AND TO HOLD EXCERPT

Copyright © 2019 Serena Bell
All rights reserved.

There he was.

Stepping through the glass gate doors at SeaTac. Striding, head up, not uniformed, as she’d expected, but clad in jeans, a gray T-shirt, and hiking boots. A backpack slung over both shoulders.

Trina felt like she’d never seen him before, and maybe she never really had. Because before, he’d been somebody’s dad. Somebody’s husband. And then friendship had morphed into love, so she’d never had that first-time-I-laid-eyes-on-you, love-at-first-sight moment. No heart stopping, no breath catching, no hormones firing in one big surge—

Not till now.

Because, damn. Dark hair and dark eyes, stubble smattered over his jaw, shoulders that poured off strength. Six-foot-plus of him, moving with intention. He was a guy who’d catch your eye on the street, pheromones setting you back on your heels before you’d registered that you’d turned to look. The hardness of his features, the everyman handsomeness, made an impression only after it was too late to decide how you felt about his appearance.

There were more lines in his face than she remembered—the laugh crinkles at the corners of his eyes, yes, but deep lines in his forehead, too. His eyes combed the crowd, looking for someone.

I’m right here.

Then his gaze swept past her and locked somewhere else, and his pace quickened until he was almost running. Behind her, someone broke away, flip-flops smacking heels.

“Daddy!”

Clara ran to her father and threw herself into his arms, forgetting Trina’s and her grandmother’s warnings to be gentle with him. Clara was laughing and crying and trying to tell her father everything that had happened in the last year, all at once.

“Slow down, baby.” Hunter knelt so he could hug Clara in earnest. “Slow down. We’ll have plenty of time.” He was smiling, looking so much like the man Trina remembered, and she realized she was silently pleading for him to raise his eyes and search her out. To turn that smile on her. And she shook her head, because this moment wasn’t for her. It was for Clara and Hunter. Trina would have her moment later. When she and Hunter were alone.

Hunter raised his head, and her heart skipped.

But his eyes caught on something behind her, and he rose and strode forward: “Mom.”

Trina wasn’t going to panic. She clutched her welcome home, hunter sign tighter, and tried to slow her pulse down.

Homecomings are weird, Hunter’s mom had told her when Trina met her flight several hours earlier. Don’t get your expectations up too high. He’ll need some time and space, and then it’ll be like he never left.

Plus, Trina had known they’d have to play it a little cool, to maintain the fiction for the girls.

In the meantime, Trina would remember what he’d said to her. Not only I love you, but also, I know my feelings, and they’re not going to change.

Hunter’s mom, Linda, was getting the full Hunter. Or the half Hunter, maybe, because Trina was pretty sure that Hunter at full strength would have swept both mother and daughter off their feet. Certainly in all her fantasies he’d swept her off her feet.

But with his chest wound just barely healed—a wound that had almost killed him—he wouldn’t be sweeping anyone off her feet for a while.

A hand snaked around her waist. Phoebe, at her side. Her daughter, awkwardly twelve and yet so beautiful, with that coltish mix of woman and little girl.

Phoebe was clearly feeling as awkward and left out of this homecoming as Trina was, and wanting solidarity.

That was the moment when Trina started to feel really, truly freaked out. Because she was fine with the fact that homecomings were weird and fine with Hunter’s priorities being for his daughter and his mother and fine with the secrecy that they’d agreed to keep up a while once he got back, but—

He hadn’t made eye contact with her. Not once.

Something was wrong. Even Phoebe could sense it.

  • Title: To Have and to Hold
  • Author: Serena Bell
  • Category: Contemporary romance
  • ISBN: 978-1-7328948-2-2
  • Format: e-book
  • Publication Date: April 23, 2019
  • Pages: 200
  • Price: $3.99
  • Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Photo credit Susan Young

USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.

Serena’s books have earned many honors, including an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.

When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.

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BUY LINKS FOR TO HAVE AND TO HOLD

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Books, New Release, Romance

New Release Tuesday: Can’t Hold Back, Returning Home book 2 by Serena Bell

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WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“When the book keeps you up until after two in the morning then you know it’s damn good. I’ve waited so long for this book but it was worth it!” —Lisa at Fic Talk

“I inhaled this book on a wet Sunday afternoon, and it was time well spent! Serena Bell writes some seriously smart, funny and sexy stories. 5/5 stars.” —Onni at I Love Romantic Fiction

Can’t Hold Back is a wonderful example of great writing, careful weaving of emotions and reality into a special situation, andof coursegreat, passionate and sexy romance. Grab this second chance romance today. 4.5 stars.” —Eleanor, The Book Hammock

“Sweet and Sexy, Can’t Hold Back is a military romance with heart and soul.” —Beth at Tome Tender

“By the end of the book you love not only Nate, but also Alia. Serena Bell did a fabulous job with this novel.”—Sam’s Ramblings 

“This sweet story is full of physical and emotional healing.” —Publishers Weekly

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CAN’T HOLD BACK (RETURNING HOME, BOOK TWO)

A love triangle gone wrong. The power to heal his pain. And a second chance for both of them.

Nate Riordan came home from war hurting—everywhere.

Alia Drake can touch him and make it all better.

Nate craves her touch, and not just the professional, physical therapist version. But he needs to keep his eyes on the prize and his feet firmly on the path he’s chosen: His buddy, J.J., died, and Nate lived, which means he has promises to keep. Plus, Alia hurt him once, and he’s afraid she’ll do it again.

Alia knows she has to ignore her feelings for Nate. Her job is to take care of him professionally, so she has to keep her hands on the parts of him she has a right to touch. Besides, when she lied to him two years ago, she forfeited any claim she could ever have to his heart.

Now she just has to find some way to stick to her guns, leave him alone, and do her job. Even—or especially—when he’s shirtless on the table in her office…

CAN’T HOLD BACK EXCERPT

Copyright © 2019 Serena Bell
All rights reserved.

“Is this seat taken?”

From her perspective in the grass, he was a giant, with broad shoulders and a luminous smile. She’d always thought it was exaggeration when women said they lost their breath in a man’s presence, but she just had.

She got a grip and shook her head. “Pull up some turf.” She patted the lawn beside her, and he sat.

He was vivid, like a soldier in a movie: ripped, swaggering, grinning, golden-haired. He’d smiled in her direction earlier, and for a split second she’d thought, Who me? before she remembered that she was standing next to Becca. Her sister was a man magnet. All the two of them had to do was idle in a patch of sunlight admiring the garden, and sexy six-foot-plus men in butt-hugging jeans and black T-shirts materialized from nowhere—

Abracadabra! Hot guy for Becca.

In the car on the way over here, she’d told Becca that Jake’s picnics boasted not just amazing food, but other earthly delights. “We’ll get you back on your feet,” Alia had promised, sneaking a glance at her sister, slumped in the passenger seat. Ever since Becca’s boyfriend had dumped her recently, just as they were getting serious, she rarely smiled.

Becca had been super excited about the guy, and Alia was almost as disappointed as Becca was. She wanted her sister to be happy. Settled. Cared for.

Hot Guy for Becca set his plate on the grass. He sat cross-legged, and his thighs and calves, which looked like they’d been hewn from wood, were generously decked with curly golden hair.

“My sister just went to get some food,” she told him, pointing.

He cast a glance at Becca, standing by the salad table, loading her plate with potato chips. Tall, beautiful, blond, and glowing with vitality.

“You guys don’t look anything alike.”

“We don’t.” She forced a smile. It wasn’t only blindingly obvious differences, like Becca’s blond and Alia’s dark hair, but everything else, too—Becca was slim, with hourglass curves, while Alia was “athletic”; Becca had porcelain skin and Alia was generously freckled; Becca’s features were classic and even, and Alia was—well, she’d be kind to herself and say “cute.”

She sighed.

“Nate Riordan.” The man beside her reached out his hand for a shake.

“Alia Drake.”

Big hands. Warm. A moment ago, the world had smelled like summer. Like grass gone somewhere to seed, roses in bloom, and the mingled marvels of mesquite smoke and grilling meat.

Now her head was filled with a different scent entirely—soap, shampoo, the faintest whiff of some spicy male deodorant or cologne.

He was going to have no difficulty making Becca forget her romantic troubles. He could probably make any woman blank on her own name.

She retrieved her hand before she could reflect any more on that. He was Becca’s hot guy.

MY REVIEW This is another wonderful book by Serena Bell. It is the second in the Returning Home series about soldiers who have returned home from war, and I enjoyed Can’t Hold Back even more than the first, Hold On Tight.

A “forbidden” romance (in this case, a soldier and his physical therapist) is not usually my go-to, but I love Ms. Bell’s books and I knew she wouldn’t steer me wrong. I love a book about a couple with a history, and boy do Nate and Alia have that! They have much to overcome to find their happily ever after, both in their past AND in their present.

It is not a requirement to read the first book in this series, but it’s a good stepping stone into this second book, so I’d recommend it. Thanks to the author for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.

INFO SHEET

Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

Review of “Hold On Tight” (Returning Home, Book One) by Serena Bell

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5 out of 5 beautiful, sexy, heart-warming stars

I posted about this book a couple of days ago, to help get the word out about its release. Then I had a chance to actually read the book. YOU GUYS, this book is amazing! It is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year! I am lucky enough to be on Serena Bell’s ARC team, and was thrilled to be able to read this book so I could share it with you. The most exciting thing about this book, and the others in this series, is that it is a re-release, as Ms. Bell is now an INDIE author. I’m even more excited to be a part of her team now, because indie authors need even more support than the garden variety. 🙂

Now, I am a sucker for second chance romance. I also love a well-written story about a military hero, having grown up as an Army brat. I’m a big fan of the single parent, being one myself, and while I usually gravitate toward the hot single DAD books, I like to read about a single mom working hard to be all things to her kids, while also finding some time to take care of herself.  Lastly, I can occasionally be found reading a secret baby romance, although it’s not my favorite trope. Hold On Tight has all of these!

Here’s a quick synopsis by the author herself:

“Hold On Tight is the story of Jake—a guy who comes back from war, broken in body and spirit, to discover that he has a kid he never knew existed and a baby mama he’s been trying really hard to forget. It’s also the story of Mira, a single mom who has been working her butt off to hold all the pieces together, and does not need the complication of being attracted to a man who got her pregnant and disappeared off the face of the earth. Aaand, it’s the story of Sam, who—well, he’s seven, and just trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together, especially in light of the fact that his mom told him that his dad was a sperm donor.”

Jake and Mira had a very short, but passionate, relationship 8 years ago, and their paths are about to cross again. Jake is a war hero. Not only that, he’s a wounded war hero, who is back home after a devastating experience overseas. Mira is a single mom, who just moved across the country, and away from her parents, to prove that she can take care of herself and her 7-year-old son. What will happen when Jake finds out he has a son? How will Mira deal with Jake’s reemergence into her life? Will she tell her son, Sam, that Jake is his dad?

I adored Sam. This kid had a heart of gold, and he was not afraid to ask the tough questions. Have you heard the saying, “…and the little child shall lead them”? Sam is that child. I started reading one of the chapters, and when it started out, it made me think it was going to be from Sam’s POV.  It didn’t turn out to be, but I thought to myself, “How freaking great would that be, to get a chapter from a child’s own perspective???” It’s definitely something I have not seen before, and didn’t know I’d love until that moment.

I loved this book. LOVED. I’d read another military hero book recently, and it was pretty bad. It wasn’t realistic, and it was very light on the facts. I don’t know what experience Ms. Bell has with military life, but I found her descriptions to be very authentic. Jake had experienced some very harrowing things while he was deployed, and he had a very difficult time dealing with the challenges of life back home. It all felt very real and honest.

I’ve also come to realize over the past few years that sexy times must be REALLY difficult to write, because some authors just aren’t very good at it. Serena Bell, let it be known, is NOT one of those authors. Her sexy times are off-the-charts hot. It’s possible that I enjoy them so much because I’m really rooting for her characters and I want them to have good sexy times, but I don’t think so. She’s just really good at writing super sexy scenes, which at no point make the reader pause and say “wait…what?”

I’m very excited about book 2, Can’t Hold Back, because it’s not just another book in the series, it’s a continuation of sorts. We meet the main characters, Nate and Alia, at the end of Hold on Tight, and it appears we will also be able to follow Mira and Jake (and Sam!) on their continuing journey.

If you like military heroes, or second chance romance, or secret baby stories, or indie authors, or all of the above, PLEASE go buy this book. I will definitely be bringing you reviews of the other books in this series, as they are released. I hope you love Jake and Mira’s story as much as I did!

Buy Hold on Tight on Amazon

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Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

New Release: Hold on Tight (RETURNING HOME, BOOK ONE) by Serena Bell

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HOLD ON TIGHT (RETURNING HOME, BOOK ONE)

A wounded soldier. A secret baby. A second chance.

Jake Taylor has made a few terrible decisions, but none worse than the one in Afghanistan that cost him his best friend and his leg.

Or so he thinks, until he comes home from war to discover a seven-year-old son he never knew existed.

Jake can’t regret the blissful nights he spent with Mira in his arms, or the boy with his eyes, but he can leave them alone so they don’t become yet another one of his mistakes.

He’ll rehab his body, figure out how to find purpose again—and keep things simple with the woman he once craved desperately.

Except the sizzling attraction that drew him to Mira is still fierce, and staying away from her is a lot harder than he ever expected…

Mira Shipley has promised herself that if she ever sees Jake Taylor again, she’ll tell him he has a son.

She isn’t expecting to run into him at the physical therapist’s office, where he’s learning to live with an above-the-knee amputation.

She can’t blame him for being a grumpy jerk under the circumstances, but it would be a lot easier to ignore him if she didn’t desperately need child care for her son.

And if Jake didn’t make her feel brand new and dazzlingly alive.

She knows she needs to protect her son’s feelings—but no matter how hard she tries, she can’t forget the long, sweet nights she and Jake spent learning each other’s bodies and each other’s secrets…

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“Sweet, sexy and real . . . In Hold on Tight, Serena Bell has written a beautiful story about a wounded soldier and the woman strong enough to love him.”—Jessica Scott, USA Today bestselling author of Because of You

“The authenticity of their story is resounding. This isn’t a story of instant love, but of an uphill battle and determination, of making decisions, and of living in the here and now.”Heroes and Heartbreakers

“This contemporary second-chance romance is Bell’s best written book yet. It deals with the horror of war beautifully and with great care, weaving it into a great love story, and many, many swoons.”—The Book Hammock

“Just a beautiful, and yet not overly emotionally weighted, story of two people fighting their way out of a life they were dealt, toward a life they choose wholeheartedly. This book left me feeling warmed, encouraged, bolstered and full. Phenomenal writing by Serena Bell.”—Ripe for Reader

“I was completely swept away with the characters, story and the writing.”—Twin Spin

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EXCERPT

On the other side of the room, the cocky guy with the prosthetic leg shifted in his seat, drawing her gaze. Brown hair, on the longer side of short, uncombed. A couple of days’ unshaven scruff. Not her type; she liked professional men, clean-shaven. Her mind was about to dismiss him—a guy I ran into in the physical therapist’s office and wasn’t attracted to, but not because he was an amputee, just because he wasn’t my fantasy. But something made her look again.

Holy shit. She knew that face. The strong jaw, the well-formed upper lip, the deep groove that ran vertically between his brows—

She’d memorized his features in the few weeks they’d been together, the quick three-quarters way he smiled, like he couldn’t quite fully commit to happiness, the all-in truth of his smile when he gave himself over. The creases that formed when he frowned, the way his jaw set when something bothered him. That night at the lake—the last night—the look on his face when she’d taken off her clothes. Gratitude and longing and Who, me? For real?

The night came back to her in sharp contrasts, pairs of impressions. The coolness of his wet skin and the heat of his body. The softness of his mouth moving over hers, over her breasts, and the hard tug of his suckling, the yank of desire she’d felt. The rich summer smells, green and overripe, and the clean soap scent of him. How open she’d felt, how boundary-less, melting, flowing, willing—and how her body had betrayed and frustrated her.

How good he’d made her feel, better than she’d ever felt in her life, and the way he’d hurt her. The way they’d dressed, packed up, and driven home in silence. How hard she’d cried, and for how long.

Jake.

His eyes caught hers, caught and held and held and held. Sam’s gray-blue eyes, Sam’s full lower lip, Sam’s absurdly long eyelashes. Jake’s face.

Would Sam someday have a jaw like that, square and strong? Would his nose, which was still a little boy’s pudgy upturned nose, be as bladelike as his father’s?

How many times had she promised herself that if this moment ever came, she wouldn’t hold the truth back from Jake?
Buy Hold on Tight on Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Photo credit Susan Young

USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.

Serena’s books have earned many honors, including an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.

When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.

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