Nina Crespo Presents: J. L. Lora’s Guilty Pleasures


Nina Crespo:  What’s your current guilty pleasure? I know you have some!

J. L. Lora:  Anything with Nutella in it and chemistry between two characters. The Nutella because … it’s Nutella. I can’t explain it any other way. The chemistry because, be it a book or a show, when two characters just have off the charts attraction to each other, I can’t stop reading or watching if their story grips me and doesn’t let me go.

Readers, can you relate? Feel free to share your favorite characters in the comment section. J.L’s new book will fit right in with your secret cravings. Check it out!

Now available from J. L. Lora!

Determined to avoid the violence that claimed her family and friends, Carissa Elliott flees her hometown with a dangerous plan. She has proof that Calum DeMateo killed her father—now she just has to catch him. To do so, she’ll have to transform herself from small-town ingénue to New York crime boss.

When her path crosses with Alec McLean, the sexy stranger with whom she once shared a steamy nightclub kiss, things take an unexpected turn. Alec heads his family’s criminal organization, the kind of made man Carissa should want nothing to do with. But he also has a plan to take down Calum, and the flames that flicker between them are irresistible.

Will their vengeful quests jeopardize their chance at lasting love?

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Excerpt

The night, with its clear Miami skies, the air fragrant with lady of the night, whispered excitement.

But not for her.

“I’m ready for a shot,” Carissa yelled at her friends over the music and left the dance floor. She couldn’t spend another twenty minutes getting bumped by drunks. She couldn’t spend another second around a rum-breathed guy without planting her fist in his stupid, grinning face. She couldn’t spend another instant listening to the grief gnawing at her stomach, jagging her nerves.

Her friend Mel caught up with her at the bar. “You OK? I know it’s hard being out and all with your mom gone.”

Carissa bobbed her head and ordered shots. “I’m buying.” She didn’t wait for Mel to respond. “I’m OK. I just need to breathe something fresher than Bacardi and mint.”

Mel put her hand over Carissa’s. “We can all leave if you want.”

The bartender placed the shots in front of them. Carissa wanted to shout yes, let’s get the hell out of here, already picturing her pajamas and the plush hotel bed. Instead, she said, “No. We can stay. I’ll just rest, then we can go dance again. Bottoms up.”

Mel held up a finger. “Carissa, this weekend getaway is about you. If we go back to our room, Gia may pout for a while, but she understands. She won’t be mad for long.”

“You think so? Look at her on the dance floor—hair flipping, that come-get-me smile—she’s full on flirting. And isn’t that the guy from the other club?”

Mel looked over to Gia. “Yeah, that’s him. That spot was nice, but this one’s sexier. Finally, Braeden recommended something classy and not some ass-shaking shack.”

Carissa threw back her shot of whiskey, grimacing at the liquid lava. She shifted her feet, hoping it would ease the throbbing in her toes. Hell’s flames would lick over her skin before she went back to that dance floor. People-watching sounded heavenly, safe, breathable. She held up two fingers for another round.

Mel watched her, worry lines etched on her forehead. “You know, my mom died seven years ago. I still miss her every day.” The slight tremble in Mel’s lips, blink-of-an-eye brief, implied a pain that never faded.

Her voice, soft and so un-Mel-like, yanked at the loosened threads of Carissa’s heart. She forced back images of the hospital, the smell of antiseptic, the whoosh-click of the ventilator. Carissa shook her head.

“We all knew about Mom . . . It was inevitable. Brae was pretty great during that time, though. He stood by me like a shield.”

“It kills me to admit it, but your little jerk of an ex-boyfriend makes a good friend. I’m glad he was there to protect you from the patron saint of all assholes.” The fire dimmed in Mel’s eyes. “But Calum. That fucker needs to die. What kind of shitty-asshole-from-hell makes a move on a woman at her mother’s funeral?”

The anesthetic effect of the whiskey buzzed through Carissa’s skin, numbness embracing her body. Jesus, that felt good. “Yeah, he needs to die. But who’s going to do it, Mel? Us? Are we teaming up again? Is this another adventure for the Powerpuff Girls? Do you still have your costume?”

Both women laughed hard enough to blur the sadness, picked up another shot, and downed it in one move. This one would do the trick.

“Calum won’t stop calling. That’s why Braeden insisted I get away for a few days.”

Mel leaned her elbows on the bar and rested her chin in her hands. “Tell Braeden I don’t 1,000 percent hate him anymore.”

It had to be the alcohol. Carissa turned her face to the sky and then looked around the outdoor lounge. “Hell has frozen over.”

Mel gave her a slight shove. “Let’s go dance.”

“No way. If someone steps on my foot one more time, there will be blood. Lots of it.”

“Ladies, you’ve been invited to a VIP table.”

Carissa whirled around to face a tall, dark-haired man whose muscles went past impressive to downright intimidating. Dressed in a black T-shirt one size too small and tight, dark pants, the man screamed security guard.

“Not interested.” Carissa turned back to Mel, whose eyes bulged in an are-you-out-of-your-damned-mind? look.

The security guard tapped Carissa’s shoulder. “It’s Noah’s table. He says you would be more comfortable there since you’re taking a break from dancing.”

“The guard pointed to a roped area where a man sat watching the dance floor. She couldn’t see his face. Only his thick, wavy hair. “Who’s Noah?”

The guard tilted his head toward the dance floor. “The man your friend is dancing with. That’s his brother at the table.”

About the Author

J. L. Lora was born in Dominican Republic and came to the United States just at the age of 13. Her goal in life was always to be a writer. As a child, she told stories to her family and friends and wrote fiction about historic figures. Today, her stories explore the dark side of good characters, people who are backed into corners and how they react to it. She loves strong heroines and their equally powerful love interests. She currently lives in Maryland while pursuing her dream of writing compelling, sexy, can’t-put-down stories about empowered, bad-ass heroines and take-your-breath-away heroes.

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Nina Crespo Presents: Wren Michaels’ Guilty Pleasures

Nina Crespo:  What’s your current guilty pleasure? I want details!

Wren Michaels: Binge watching Vampire Diaries and Lost Girl. One of my latest characters is based off Kenzie from Lost Girl because I have a girl crush. LOL

Hey readers, tell us what you’re binge watching in the comments below. Also, take a moment to read aboutWren’s latest and discover your next book crush!

Now available from Wren Michaels!

All’s fair in love and war until one person gets stuck in an arranged marriage.

Catherine ‘Cat’ Marek has a sociology paper due on dissecting the laws of attraction. Project Panty Drop will case study two different men; one she’ll go after in person and the other she’ll attempt to charm online. Hiding behind her beauty, she tries to cover up her true geeky side, and the fact that she’s partially deaf.

Jaidev ‘Jai’ Sankar needs to knock out a paper for his online sociology class. After an encounter with the Texas Tease, Cat Marek, he decides Project Friend Zoned will be the ultimate topic, proving a guy can remain in the friend zone with a girl he finds attractive.

As Cat puts the moves into overdrive, Jai finds it harder to remain in the ‘friend zone’ with her. The only thing keeping him from letting go is the fact his hardcore Hindu parents have a wedding scheduled for him. When neither can resist their attraction, the fight no longer becomes about their papers, but about the freedom to love each other.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BN | iBooks | Kobo

Excerpt

Her face haunted me. The adorable dimple pitted in her cheek caught my eye first. Sexy full lips that folded into a gorgeous smile just about took my breath away. I did my best not to continuously stare at her, managing to throw just a few glances here and there hoping she got the message. But she didn’t take the bait. Instead, she gave me a ‘too good for you’ glance while she plowed down a server on her way to the bathroom, probably to restock the toilet paper in her bra.

The Texas Tease, I called it. Lots of girls at UT had it—this one in particular—in spades. Shorter than my normal tastes, her alluring doe-eyes caught me off guard. The memory of her petite frame sashaying as she worked those sexy, black pumps played on a loop in my head. Along with the way her long, brown hair bounced with every step like a damn shampoo commercial.

She drove me insane, and I didn’t even know her name. At least Mick confirmed she was a student at UT, apparently in one of his Economics classes.

She intrigued me, sitting in a sports bar drinking beer while her prissy friend sipped wine. I even caught her glancing at the Longhorn game on the big screen. A cute girl who likes beer and football? Every guy’s dream. If only she weren’t a snob. But, I’d put her in her place. And I had the perfect plan.

The ring of my Skype alert disrupted my plotting. Incoming message from Kanti, my best friend.

Kanti: Hey …

Me: What’s up, brat?

Kanti: You busy?

Me: Never too busy for you.

Kanti: Stop with the sugar, you’re giving me diabetes.

Me: LOL Better get used to it.

Kanti: Ugh. Don’t remind me. Quick, what do you want for your birthday? You got the new Mortal Kombat release already?

Me: Yeah, of course I do. But you don’t have to get me anything. You know that.

Kanti: I can’t NOT get you anything.

Me: Tell me you talked to your parents and the wedding’s called off. That would be an awesome present.

Kanti: Seriously? You know that isn’t even in the realm of possibilities. So shut it.

Me: I can dream, can’t I?

Kanti: Yeah, and I know what you do in those dreams. Not even going there.

 Me: You’re such a bitch. Why do I love you?

Kanti: Because we’re best friends.

Me: Well, there’s that.

Mick yelled through the door. “Jai, you comin’ down or what?”

“In a minute,” I replied.

Me: I gotta go. Kegger tonight and we’re hosting.

Kanti: Email me and let me know what to get you.

Me: Fine.

Kanti: LOL Kiss Kiss

Me: Whatever. LOL TTYL

I closed the lid on my laptop as Mick flung the door open.

“People are starting to arrive. You’re on keg duty first.”

I tossed him a nod. “Yeah, I know. I’m coming. Just finishing up some notes on my Sociology project.”

“I thought you dropped that class?” He folded his arms, leaning against the door-frame.

“I was going to until Professor Wilkinson agreed to let me take it online, since it’s the same time as my cinematography course.” I pulled out a notepad. “What’d you say that chick’s name was again? The one we saw at the bar today.”

“Catherine Marek. But I think she goes by Cat.” Mick shrugged. “Why? I thought you said she was a snob, and you weren’t gonna pursue her?”

“Oh, I’m not. I got my sights set on another girl I’ve been talking to for a little while. But I think that Cat chick will make for a perfect target on my sociology paper.” I wrote down her name and underlined it five times. “I’m calling it, Friend Zoned.”

Mick laughed. “Oh, this ought to be good. What’re you gonna do?”

“It’s what I’m not gonna do that’s going be the best part. I’m going to act like I’m interested, then when she takes the bait, I’ll friend zone her. I’m going to prove that a guy can be sexually attracted to a girl who’s interested in him and still remain only friends. I’ll be the best ‘friend’ she’s ever gonna have.”

About the Author

Wren hails from the frozen tundra of Wisconsin where beer and cheese are their own food groups. But a cowboy swept her off her feet and carried her below the Mason-Dixon line to Texas, where she promptly lost all tolerance for cold and snow. Fueled by coffee, dreams, and men in kilts, Wren promises to bring you laughter, sexy fun time, and action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The easiest way to her heart is anything to do with the Green Bay Packers, Doctor Who, or Joss Whedon.

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Nina Crespo Presents: Laura Heffernan’s Guilty Pleasures

Nina Crespo:  What’s your current guilty pleasure? Readers want to know!

Laura Heffernan:  I’m completely addicted to reality TV. Competition shows, lifestyle shows, trivia, home improvement, cooking shows – I love them all.

Readers, what are some of your must-have indulgences? Feel free to share them with us in the comment section. Also, take a moment to check out Laura’s new book. It may become your new guilty pleasure.

Now available from Laura Heffernan!

Seeking the smart one

Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.

Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .

Amazon | BN | iBooks | Kobo

Excerpt

He touched my chin with two fingers, bringing my gaze up to meet his. Damn those green eyes. I searched them for answers, wishing I knew whether he was putting on an act for the audience. Even with the lights off, the cameras stationed in the yard would capture us. The producers filmed everything, day and night. Everyone in America would know if we kissed. For a moment, I struggled to remember why that was bad.

“I guess it’s not your fault, since I got the question right,” I said begrudgingly, shifting slightly backward.

“If that is the best I can get, I’ll take it. But I’m going to work on complete forgiveness. I’ll pay you double interest on our bet—six cents.”

“Well, then,” I laughed. “Maybe I’ll have to reconsider once I get my money. I’d hate to have to send Birdie to break your kneecaps.”

The image of five-foot-tall Birdie coming after Justin with a baseball bat cracked him up. I laughed, too, crossing my legs and settling more comfortably in the lounger. My knee practically touched Justin’s leg. He didn’t move.

We sat quietly for a few minutes. I wondered if he heard my heart pounding. Even not wanting to get caught kissing on national television with a near-stranger, I found something about Justin irresistible. Possibly his smile. Or his dimples. His brains. The ease of talking to him. His personality. The fact that he was practically perfect for me in every way.

That line of thinking wasn’t helping. I needed to change the subject before I started calling him Mary Poppins.

“It’s a beautiful night.” I gestured at the sky.

“Yes, it is,” Justin said, his eyes never leaving my face. Did he lean forward slightly? Only inches separated our lips.

The warmth definitely wasn’t the beer. I licked my lips nervously and leaned in, closing the gap. If he moved the tiniest bit…

“So—”

About the Author

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

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Nina Crespo Presents: Authors’ Guilty Pleasures

Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Those things you can’t help but enjoy despite the quiet, or sometimes very loud, voice in your head, admonishing you for the indulgence. I have a long list of guilty pleasures. Salt water taffy from the candy store just up the street. Broad Axe Stout ale from the microbrewery next door. Stacking charm bracelets. Binge watching The Expanse on Syfy. I could also add books to the list, but in my opinion, they’re more of a necessity and I collect them without a hint of shame.

If you’re wondering about my next release, I haven’t been slacking off in the writing cave. I’m working on two new contemporary series. My lovely new agent is currently finding a home for the first book I’ve finished. As always, if you read my blog or have signed up for my newsletter, you’ll be the first to know about their progress, along with the giveaways and celebrations surrounding them.

In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to a few of my fellow authors. They’ll let you in on their guilty pleasures and also share about their new or upcoming books. I hope you’ll take time to get acquainted with them and share your own shameful, giggle-with-glee indulgences.

Look for these upcoming posts under Nina Crespo Presents: Authors’ Guilty Pleasures.

Until next time…

Nina

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