Title: ACADEMY OF THE ELITES (Untamed Magic #1) Author: Alexis Calder Publisher: Alexis Calder Formats: Paperback, eBook Pages: 139 Find it on:Goodreads, Amazon
Release Dates for Academy of Elites: Untamed Magic: October 1, 2019 Broken Magic: November 2019 Fated Magic: December 2019
My name is Raven Winters and I’m a mage. Who the hell
When I somehow
summon fire in an act of self defense, I’m given two choices by the magic cops:
attend some stuck-up magic school, or go to magic jail.
Well, shit. There go
my plans for the next year. Apparently, I have Untamed Magic, whatever the hell
that means. And I’ve got a year to get it under control at this magic academy
that’s basically a finishing school for the elite. Everyone here is somebody
important. And rich. Except for me.
Which paints quite the target on my back. Being the token poor kid is bad enough. Throw in that I somehow form a mating bond with four of the school’s most eligible bachelors. Oh yeah, and add in the fact that someone is trying to kill me. FML.
Academy of the Elites is a reverse harem fantasy series meant for mature readers who want action, magic, and steam.
I kissed him harder, my lips swollen, my heart racing. I
didn’t want him to stop.
Emboldened by my tempo, Luka slid the fabric of my tunic
down my shoulder. Then, he moved to the other side, repeating the motion.
The fabric slid down my chest, practically melting away from
skin until it pooled at my waist, held up by the gold belt.
He broke away from the kiss and took a step back from me,
staring at me with his gorgeous eyes. I was naked in front of him. Well, half
naked and all he did was look at me. His gaze didn’t break from my face and
despite the fact that my tits were on full display, he didn’t look down.
There was something in that stare that reached down to my
very core. It wasn’t just lust, there was something else there. Some connection
that I couldn’t explain.
But then again, this was a dream. Maybe I was searching for
a reason to justify how wet I was or how badly I wanted to feel this stranger’s
cock inside me.
Heat rushed through me in a rolling sensation that was
familiar but difficult to pinpoint. Where had I felt that before? Then, I
realized I felt something similar when I’d used my magic. Terrified I was about
to burst into flame, I pushed the sensation away, and with it, the moment of
This wasn’t love. This wasn’t personal. This was lust. Pure
and simple. It was a dream and I deserved to do what I wanted, right?
She frowned. “I was trying to open up to you.”
“I know,” I said. “And I’ll leave if you want me to. But
have you considered that maybe you need the release? Maybe your body is craving
this for a reason?”
Her eyes dropped, and I knew she was looking at the tent in
my jeans. There wasn’t any way to hide my arousal from her. Even with my
ability to control dreams, I couldn’t control my feelings for her.
“Dreams only,” she said. “Never during the day.”
I was willing to take what I could get, for now. As long as
I could have her. “Agree.”
Reaching for her, I cupped the side of her face, rubbing my
thumb on her soft cheek, then down her lips.
She held her breath, then she batted my hand away. “Wait a
minute, you’re in confinement. You went there for me.”
I shrugged. “It was my fault. I shouldn’t have followed
Her eyebrows knitted together in a look of concern. “Are you
okay? They say it’s terrible.”
“It’s not so bad. Especially if you’re someone like me, who
can escape in a matter of speaking.” I didn’t want to go into the rumors about
reduced magic and lower powers after a trip to confinement. It was too
depressing and would definitely ruin the mood. Besides, I was able to get to
Raven’s dream. That was all I needed.
Taking a chance, I leaned in, hesitating only a second
before I claimed her mouth with mine.
She wrapped her arms around me and I pulled her closer to
me. Our lips moved together in ravenous, hungry fashion. Her fingers spread
through my hair, tugging the strands as she pulled my head closer to hers.
About the Author
Alexis Calder writes sassy heroines and sexy heroes with a sprinkle of sarcasm. She lives in the Rockies and drinks far too much coffee and just the right amount of wine.
Today is the biggest day of my
professional career. I’ve got one shot to prove I can play with the big boys
and the Lachlan account is my ticket. I’ve never been more prepared for
anything in my life. So of course that went up in flames.
In hindsight, stopping to get my
chocolate milk fix right before the big meeting might not have been the best
decision. Neither was fighting for the last jug with a flirty Thor-lookalike.
In my defense, not even a Disney-prince-smolder delivered by a sweaty sex god
is a match for an anxiety-fueled chocolate craving.
And had I known before walking
into that meeting that my sweaty, sex-god, milk-thief was none other than
Christopher Lachlan, the new client on whom my career hung, I’d have definitely
skipped my morning stop.
Curse my dumb friggin’ luck. I would be attracted to the one person I can’t have.
Charley Claybourne turned into the nearest store and
hightailed it to the dairy section. She needed some chocolate milk. STAT.
Well, the lactose-free variety. Her stomach had enough
issues dealing with her anxiety over her upcoming meeting without trying to
Her phone buzzed, but she ignored it. Someone walked by the
cooler and grabbed a quart. There was one left. Only one. And that baby was
She picked up the pace and reached for the last jug on the
shelf, her fingers wrapping around the handle just as a larger set of fingers
wrapped around the bottom of the jug.
She sucked in a breath and pulled lightly, testing the other
person’s determination before she looked up to pin the would-be milk thief with
a glare. He didn’t let go.
“Excuse me, but I believe I had that first.”
Her phone buzzed again, and she yanked it out of her pocket,
silencing it with a groan. “I believe you’re mistaken,” she said, trying to
keep it civil. After all, the poor man on the other end of her jug couldn’t
possibly know he was about to ruin her already stressful day. “I clearly had it
Her phone buzzed a third time, and Charley shot the tall,
vaguely familiar-looking Thor lookalike a mild glare before glancing at her
phone to see who was blowing it up. Izzy. Of course. Because Charley was late,
an issue not helped by the sweaty beefcake on the other end of her chocolate
“No, I’m pretty sure I had it first,” he said, his deep,
slightly gravelly voice drawing her attention from her phone.
She looked up at him, freezing for a second. He looked a lot
like…naw, his hair was too long, and he was more muscley than—
Her phone buzzed again, and she swore under her breath and
answered. “Izzy, I’m on my way. I just had to grab something from the store.”
As soon as she dealt with the imminent brawl that was about
to break out over the last jug of Choco-Lact-Ish. She wasn’t leaving without
her crutch of choice.
She nodded her head at her fingers wrapped around the
handle. He returned the gesture, nodding at his own hand with a firm grip on
most of the rest of the jug.
She interrupted Izzy’s constant stream of chatter in her
ear. “I gotta go, Iz. I’ll be there in fifteen. Just need to pay for my milk.”
She hung up and renewed her grip as the guy at the other end
of the jug raised an eyebrow.
“I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on the
whole your milk thing.”
She gritted her teeth to keep her jaw from dropping open.
Was this guy really going to fight her over a jug of chocolate milk?
“Look, not to go all cliché and stereotypic on you, but
isn’t chocolate milk a bit too kid-friendly of a drink for…” She looked him
over, from the top of his spiked blond hair to his easily size fifteen or more
feet. “Someone who’s obviously not a kid?”
“How do you know I’m not buying it for my kid?”
She frowned. She’d never considered herself to be one to
take milk from a baby, but dammit, there were special circumstances today.
“Are you buying it for your kid?”
He flashed a brilliantly white grin that had her knees
shaking. Or maybe that was the hunger. She hadn’t eaten all day.
“Unfortunately, no,” he said. “However, chocolate milk
happens to be an amazing post-workout beverage. Helps keep my muscles from
seizing up and replenishes faster than other drinks, according to my trainer. I
didn’t really pay attention after the words ‘chocolate milk is good.’ That sold
me. All I know is it tastes amazing and does a body good.” He ran a hand down
abs that were obviously—even through his well-fitting shirt—toned and rock hard
and winked at her. She gave him what probably looked like a spooked owl blink
Was this guy for real? To be fair, he wasn’t wrong. It
was so doing him good. He must be bathing in the stuff. But
“So, get the regular chocolate milk. Why do you need the
lactose free?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Trainer says to get lactose
free, so that’s the kind I get.” He tugged a little, but she didn’t let go.
“What about you? Do you have a houseful of milk-deprived children
waiting at home?”
His brilliant blue eyes sparkled down at her, but she wasn’t
going to give in to their power. Power he was obviously used to wielding. Damn,
the Disney Prince smolder was strong with this one. Only the thought of
something cool, thick, and chocolatey filling her anxiety-ridden and sadly
empty tummy could fight those baby blues.
She renewed her grip on the jug. She really didn’t want to
get into this with a stranger, especially not an insanely good-looking one
she’d normally be trying to impress, but time was short and so was her
“No. I’m buying it for myself because I haven’t eaten all
day, I’m stressed out of my ever-lovin’ mind, and I’ve only got about two
minutes to cram some sustenance into my face before I have to jet to a really
important business meeting.”
“And chocolate milk is the answer to all your ills?” he
asked, that disconcerting smile still in place, which was making it really hard
to stay mad at him.
“Yes, it will. It’ll fill my stomach, the chocolate will
calm my nerves, and I need the lactose-free brand because—”
She stopped short, horrified she had nearly told him all
about the ill effects dairy tended to have on her system. Especially when she
His smile broadened, obviously grasping her gassy meaning.
She gripped the jug so hard her knuckles turned white, wishing on whatever gods
happened to be listening that the floor would open up and swallow her. Or,
better yet, swallow him. Then she could get her milk and get the hell out of
Her phone dinged with a reminder that her meeting started in
Ugh. Forget it. He could have the damn milk. She’d chug some
water and pretend. She didn’t have time for this.
But before she could push the jug toward him, he let go. And
since she still had a tighter-than-average grip on it, the sudden absence of
resistance sent the jug flying. It crashed to the floor behind her, the plastic
making that unmistakable cracking sound followed by the ice-cold whoosh of her
chocolate salvation splashing up the back of her clothes and leaking all over
“Oh wow, I’m so sorry,” he said with a chuckle. “I thought
you had a good grip on it.”
Charley closed her eyes and took a deep breath. There was no
way her life was this cursed. She’d always had bad luck. She’d pull the one box
off the shelf that was missing parts, her luggage always got lost or damaged
when she flew, and her tires would find any nail in a ten-mile radius of her
car. She once moved her car in a windstorm so the trees she’d been parked under
wouldn’t fall on her car only to have her neighbor’s tree fall into her
driveway and crush it anyway.
She was used to the ridiculous things that happened to her
and let the running inside joke that was her life slide off her back most days.
But the fact that she was standing in the dairy section on
the verge of crying over literal spilled milk on the most important day of her
professional life had to be some violation of the universe’s cruel and unusual
punishment laws. The fact that she was doing so in front of the most drop-dead
gorgeous man she’d ever been within eyeshot of was just the icing on top of the
world’s most craptastic cake.
“I really do apologize,” he said, though it would’ve sounded
much more sincere if he hadn’t been trying to hold back his laughter until he
was red in the face. “I was trying to let you have it.”
Yeah, he’d let her have it all right. Lovely. “It’s all
right. Totally my fault.”
An irritated employee had already put up a caution cone and
slapped a mop into the mess, splattering more dirty milk all over her. She
didn’t even complain. She’d have been pissed to have to clean up that mess,
too. She apologized profusely, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment and
frustration. She was still freakin’ hungry and stressed and… Her phone dinged
with another reminder she needed to get her ass moving.
Crap on a cracker. She needed to go. Maybe Izzy would have
something in her fridge that wouldn’t kill her stomach. And something in her
closet she could change into because milk splattered clothes were not going
to make a great impression.
Her milk thief, meanwhile, looked like he was going to try
and keep the conversation going. She gave him a weak smile and backed away.
“If you’ll excuse me,” she muttered. She gave him a weird
half nod and hightailed it out of there.
If a simple trip to the store for some milk ended in this kind of spectacular disaster, it definitely didn’t bode well for the rest of the day.
Her cousin Izzy’s new penthouse wasn’t too far away. Closer
than her own small apartment. She could go there and get cleaned up and still
make it to the Lachlan building before her conference with Christopher Lachlan
and his board.
She couldn’t screw up this meeting. If she didn’t get this
account, her fledgling business would never get off the ground.
Her stomach growled and twisted, and she picked up the pace.
That chocolate milk would have gone a long way to make her whole day a lot
better. Stupid to hang so much on one chocolatized beverage, but it was what it
was. Some people smoked, some drank. She did chocolate milk.
She made it to her cousin’s in record time and pounded on
the door. Izzy took one look at her and stepped to the side while Charley made
a beeline for the kitchen. She spilled the whole story while raiding the
fridge—no chocolate milk but there was grape juice, which would have to do—and
plucking at her milk-splattered clothes to hold them away from her now clammy
skin. Izzy was, understandably, beside herself with laughter.
“Thanks for the support there, Iz,” Charley said.
“I’m sorry, but seriously…” Her words cut off as she barked
out another laugh. “I mean, only you could go to the store for
something simple and somehow get in a drag-out fight with some male supermodel
over fake chocolate milk and end up covered in it.”
Charley ignored her and started sucking juice right from the
The sound of a picture being taken made her look up even
though she kept on drinking. Until she saw her brother, who was now chuckling
over the picture on his phone.
“Derrick!” Charley shouted.
“Sorry, sis. Couldn’t pass up that opportunity. You look
like you’ve been rolling around in a cow pen.”
“You little…get back here!”
“Sorry, can’t hear you!” he said, laughing and hurrying from
the room before she could chase him.
She glared at the door but didn’t go after him. That can’t
hear you bit always sent a bolt of shame and guilt through her. He
meant it as a joke, but she had a hard time taking it that way. It was her
fault they’d gotten into that accident in high school. Her fault he’d lost an
ear in the process and had problems with retaining information sometimes. He
didn’t blame her, but it didn’t matter. She blamed herself and always would.
So, she let him get away with murder.
“All right, I’ve got to get out of these clothes,” she said,
pulling at her clothes as she put the pitcher back. “I’m soaked.”
She headed down the hall to Izzy’s room and yanked off her
top, swearing when she noticed that the milk had soaked through to her bra.
Izzy crinkled her nose. “Good riddance,” she said, nodding
to the sports bra Charley wore. “That thing is hideous.”
“It’s also supportive and comfortable.”
“And now it’s ruined, so take it off and you can put this
on,” she said, holding up a padded bra that looked like a really expensive,
silky soft torture device. But Charley didn’t have time to argue.
She gripped the bottom of her bra and started shimmying it
up over her head. Easier said than done. Sports bras were not known for their
ease of removal. Add some moisture and…it really didn’t go as well as Charley
“Damn, I think I’m stuck,” Charley said, twisting her body
as if that would somehow remove the tight elastic from its death-hold on her
Izzy was nearly peeing herself at this point, and Charley
glared at her with the one eye that could peek through the armhole of the bra.
“I could use some help!”
“Breathe, Chuck, breathe!” Izzy said when Charley groaned
through the material.
She finally ripped the thing off her head and tossed it.
“Thanks. I could’ve smothered.”
Izzy laughed again. “Hey, I’m always there for you, Chuck,
you know that. You got a body you need buried, just call. But I draw the line
at bra removal.”
Charley rolled her eyes and put on the clean bra that Izzy
threw to her. “Got an outfit I can borrow?”
Izzy grinned through another laugh. “Sure. Though I think
Cass’s stuff would be more your taste. Let’s raid her closet.”
Izzy led Charley back to her roommate’s closet and threw the
double doors open wide. “Take your pick.”
Charley blew out an appreciative breath at the bounty before
her and stepped inside.
“What was Derrick doing here?” she asked, gently touching
the sleeve of one dress before moving on to another.
“I had some tickets for that hockey game he wanted to go to,
so he was picking them up.”
“Good. Because if he posts that picture, I need to know
where I can find him.”
“Ha! Right. You’ve been trying to keep that boy under
control his whole life. Give it up.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Like she needed to be reminded there was one
more thing she couldn’t control.
Charley wandered back and forth in Cass’s massive closet,
slowly going through the gorgeous clothes.
“Quite the selection,” she said, glancing over her shoulder
at her cousin, who shrugged.
“The first few months after we got the money, we had a
little more fun than we should’ve at the boutiques.”
The money in question being the lotto Izzy won with Cass and
their friend Kiersten. Charley would be lying if she said she wasn’t jealous,
though she was thrilled for her cousin. If anyone deserved it, Izzy did. And
she’d been very generous with the family. But Charley didn’t like taking
handouts. She was going to make her way herself. And that meant she needed to
get this damn job, which meant she needed to look fabulous.
She picked something and quickly slipped it on.
“I’m still not sure I feel totally right about this,” she
said, turning so Izzy could zip up the form-fitting black sheath dress.
Izzy sighed. “We’ve gone over this. Chris only went with
your firm because I recommended you. Nothing has changed.”
“Except that I’m no longer with my firm. Seems like
something I should probably mention.”
Izzy shrugged. “I don’t see why. His office called you
directly so he could work with you, and he is still working with
you. What’s the problem?”
“The problem is that his board was okay with his choice of a
junior associate because of the firm behind me. Without that, I’m pretty sure
they’d prefer to go with someone else.”
“Well, they’ve already hired you, so I don’t see how it
matters. You’ll still do an amazing job, they’ll be happy, and you’ll have a
big-name client to get your business off the ground. It’s not your fault your
former company was full of misogynistic assholes who’d rather promote anyone
with a penis over a woman, no matter how much more qualified she was. I see no
reason to deprive Chris of the best person for the job just because your old
boss was a shortsighted idiot who refused to give you the promotion you
Charley sighed. “I know, but maybe I should’ve sucked it up
a few weeks longer. Until I’d finished with Mr. Lachlan’s company. I’d still
have gotten the credit, and then I could have gone out on my own without having
to resort to this deception to do it.”
Izzy snorted. “Seriously, Chuck, I’m not sure if your
naivety is sweet or aggravating. Do you really think they’d have let you keep
this account? If I hadn’t given Chris your direct number and sent him through
the firm instead, they’d have passed it off to someone else no matter who Chris
requested. Probably that guy you spent a year training who they made your boss.
They never appreciated you.”
Charley grimaced, but she couldn’t argue with that. Izzy was
right. She shoved her feet into a pair of heels a good two inches higher than
she normally wore and took a deep breath. “All right. How do I look?”
Izzy looked her over. “The clothes are perfect. Now let’s do
something about that,” she said, waving her finger in Charley’s face.
Right. Any bit of makeup she’d been wearing was now smeared
all over her discarded bra. She grinned and shook her head but allowed Izzy to
lead her to the vanity table filled with high-end beauty products.
Twenty minutes and thirty pounds of makeup later, Charley was ready for the meeting of her life. She just prayed her stomach didn’t revolt. The last thing she needed was to make a total fool of herself in front of Chris Lachlan.
USA Today bestselling author Kira Archer lives in Pennsylvania with her
hubs and two kids. And 3 ridiculous cats. She’s one of those people who laughs
at inappropriate moments (especially overly emotional occasions like weddings
or funerals), and she has an insanely overactive imagination which is great
when she’s writing but not so great when she’s shutting all the lights off at
night and then has to go up the stairs. She has a PhD in Procrastination (or
would if there was such a thing and there soooo should be because she’s
seriously at expert level here). And if she’s not writing, she’s reading, or
thinking about reading or writing. And running her kids around because they are
busy and she’s the taxi driver. She also writes historical romances as Michelle
Adam Morrow is a self-made
millionaire. But one night with her could ruin everything…
I’ve worked my ass off for what I
have, and I’m damn proud of it. I started off with nothing and now I’m filthy
rich. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like revenge to help you get your ass in
gear. And that’s what I’m taking, with every exclusive resort I open—sweet, sweet
Nicole Westmore was my first love.
The poor little rich girl stole my heart with her sweet smile, hot body, and
irresistible innocence. The summer I worked for her father was the best time of
my life…until he drove me away. Even then, I thought Nicole would wait for me.
And so, I decided to get even, opening rival hotels, slowly driving them out of business. The old man is gone now, but Nicole is still running the company that’s about to collapse. All my hard work will soon pay off. And then I catch sight of her at a wedding, and all those feelings come rushing back–for both of us. Still, she doesn’t know what I’ve done—yet—and she seems more than willing. What will one night in her bed hurt?
Testosterone hung like a cloud in the basketball court at
the insanely expensive gym in uptown Manhattan. Tuesday afternoon meant a game
of two-on-two hoops for Adam Morrow and his friends. Adam’s background in college
boxing qualified him as an athlete. Grant Howard played quarterback in the NFL,
and Ryan Stewart made his fortune off sports medicine.
True friends through good times and bad. These guys were
worth their weight in gold.
Of course, they needed a fourth for their game, or two of
them would have ganged up on the third for a friendly pummeling. Only the club
manager, Roger—who’d played college ball—could measure up. All three men were
competitive to the core. Otherwise, they never would have achieved the level of
success they had.
Though only in his thirties, Adam had founded a series of
world-class resorts. His first, Finesse, had taken the industry by storm. His
most recent, Lit, was breaking records for profits, making him not only one of
the youngest CEOs in the hospitality business but also one of the richest. His
properties brought in obscene amounts of money, giving him success in
everything he’d ever wanted, except for one thing—getting revenge for how
Nicole and Maurice Westmore had humiliated him by dumping him for not being
good enough. And he’d have that, too, soon enough.
Adam elbowed Grant as he drove around him to the basket. A
quick layup gave his side two points.
“You fouled me,” Grant shouted. The smile on his face belied
the anger in his words.
“I don’t see a ref. Do you?” Adam answered. An NFL pro,
Grant had taught Adam how to get away with stuff when the officials weren’t
looking. Payback was a bitch, but Grant was probably prouder of Adam for
learning the lesson than anything else.
“Are you two going to keep jawing, or are we going to play?”
Roger stood bent over with his hands on his knees, breathing
heavily. He needed to spend less time in the office and more on the court.
Ryan slapped Roger on the back. “Come on, guy, catch your
Adam couldn’t help but fill with pride, studying his
friends. Adam could hold his own with both of them. He did it the way he’d
fought his way through life and his college boxing career—by scrapping. And he
had the scars to show for it—even a broken nose from a back-alley fight before
he’d learned discipline.
Beside the court, Roger’s phone went off, and the man
appeared truly relieved for the interruption. He trotted over, answered, and
listened for a moment, then grabbed his towel. “Trouble at the front desk.”
“You told them to call you if we were kicking your ass,”
Ryan said. “Didn’t you?”
Grant held his arms out. “What am I going to do for a
“Play with yourselves,” Roger said on his way out of the
“Very funny,” Adam called after him.
“I don’t know why he puts up with us,” Ryan said. “We always
run his butt ragged.”
“Because we’re his best customers,” Adam said. Which was
true. Not only were they the three richest men in the club, but they drew in
clientele—a lot of it female, in hopes of hooking up with one of them.
“Eligible bachelors,” or so a lot of women thought. Thanks to Nicole Westmore
and her father, Adam had given up on love years earlier. Grant’s divorce had
accomplished the same thing for him. Only Ryan remained the innocent, and he
was currently involved with someone.
“Free throws,” Grant said as he went to the line and sent
the ball arcing toward the basket. It swished through—nothing but net. Of
course, a quarterback would have a great arm. “Loser buys dinner.”
“You’re on,” Ryan said as he snatched the ball from under
the basket and approached the free throw line. Ryan shot and missed—something
he almost never did.
Grant laughed as he caught the ball and heaved it back at
Ryan. Totally off guard, Ryan let the pass smack him in the middle of his
chest. Ryan let out a loud “oof,” which made Grant laugh all the harder.
“What’s up with you today, man?” Grant asked.
Ryan retrieved the ball and threw it to Adam with as much
force as Grant had used. “Just waiting for you two to stop clowning around.”
Requiring more finesse than bravado, free throws weren’t
Adam’s strong suit, and he’d probably lose again. The winner would choose one
of Manhattan’s most expensive restaurants, and they’d have drinks before
dinner. He could afford it.
The kid who could barely remember his bastard of a father
and had gone through college on scholarships and gotten an MBA from Princeton?
The kid who’d worked on Westmore’s cars and driven the old man around like the
royalty he thought he was? The kid who was part of the help but uppity enough
to think Westmore’s princess of a daughter was in love with him? Well, that kid
had grown up to be richer than the old man. And he’d been plotting his revenge
It hadn’t been too complicated, really. All he had to do was
spread rumors that Westmore Hotels was floundering, then buy up stock from
nervous investors. Use the “no confidence” clause from Westmore’s bylaws to
remove the CEO—now Nicole, since her father’s death. Then merge their companies
under his own name. Everything Maurice Westmore had built, now part of Morrow
Adam smiled as he toed the free throw line. He made his
first shot. The competition might go on for a while.
“Nice going,” Ryan said. “You must be getting some
“Nah,” Adam answered. “Kristen’s job took her back to
“Too bad,” Ryan said. “She was good for you.”
Maybe too good. Neither of them had wanted a relationship.
Kristen because her career never let her settle down. Adam because he’d never
trust another woman with his heart. They’d genuinely liked each other—best to
break it off before liking grew into anything else.
“How about you?” Adam asked.
Ryan stared down at the floor. “Well, uh, not so much.”
Okay, trouble. Adam’s sixth sense plus Ryan’s sloppy play
had told him as much. He and Grant shared a glance over Ryan’s head.
“Want to tell us about it?” Grant said.
“Not much to say.” Ryan walked to the bench where they’d
left their gear. He grabbed a bottle of water and twisted the top off. “Melissa
and I called a truce and walked away.”
Grant also went to the bench and picked up a towel to wipe
the sweat from his face. “Truce? Sounds like war.”
“I guess it was,” Ryan said.
Adam had been there and done that—in spades—when the only
woman he’d ever loved had given up on him before he’d had a chance to prove he
was good enough for her.
Grant, on the other hand, had been through a divorce and
understood betrayal. Seemed like this would be Ryan’s turn to learn about how
everything turned to shit when you allowed yourself to fall in love.
When Ryan sat, Adam joined him and put his hand on Ryan’s
shoulder. “You guys seemed pretty happy.”
“I thought we were. We started joking about marriage,” Ryan
said. “You know how that goes.”
Grant sat on Ryan’s other side. “Oh, man, do I ever.”
“Then I mentioned the prenup,” Ryan said. “She turned into
someone I didn’t recognize.”
Grant looked from Adam to Ryan. “Yeah?”
“She pitched a fit as if it was a personal insult. Claimed I
didn’t trust her,” Ryan said. “It got ugly pretty fast. I’m afraid I didn’t
“Do you trust her?” Adam asked.
Ryan thought for a moment, rolling his water bottle between
his palms. “I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t. Or maybe not enough.”
“Trust…that’s the big one,” Grant said. “You can’t know if a
lover’s on the level until she’s already gotten too close.”
“A prenup isn’t too much to ask,” Ryan said. “Otherwise, how
do I know if she really wants me and not my money?”
“Sorry that happened to you,” Grant said. “A guy in your
position has to know lots of women are going to want you for all the wrong
“Well, I don’t have to worry about Melissa any longer.” Ryan
sighed. “I must have misjudged her, big time.”
“Easy to do.” Adam gave Ryan’s shoulder a shake. “At least
you found out about her before you made a big mistake.”
“I can’t marry someone who only sees dollar signs when she
looks at me,” Ryan said.
“No shit, Sherlock,” Grant said.
Ryan glanced at Grant. “Is that what broke you and your wife
“Nah.” Grant rubbed the back of his neck. “It was a lot of
“Well, whatever. It hurts like hell,” Ryan said.
Adam’s stomach clenched. The pain of Nicole’s betrayal still
snuck up on him from time to time. He and Ryan had gotten Grant through his
divorce more or less unscathed. Now Ryan’s turn for a little friendship therapy
“I should be like you two,” Ryan was saying. “Lots of
friends with benefits. Nothing deeper.”
Grant raised his hands toward the heavens. “Praise the Lord,
he has seen the light.”
“You won’t regret it, my friend,” Adam said. “Work hard,
play hard, and let the rest of it go.”
“I got the work-hard part covered,” Ryan said. “I guess it’s
time to play.”
“This calls for a celebration,” Grant said.
Ryan perked up, his shoulders lifting from their slump. “We
should have our own club or something.”
“The Love ’em and Leave ’em club,” Grant said.
“Not that,” Adam said. “Love” wouldn’t ever enter the
equation, if he could help it, and “leave them” sounded too harsh. “It needs to
be simpler. We have a good time getting laid and make sure our lovers do, too.
“Sex with no complications,” Grant said. “I like it.”
“Pure physical pleasure,” Ryan said. “Nothing wrong with
“From now on, let’s make a pact—a players pact,” Adam said.
It sounded good. “In it for the fun, with no strings to tie us down.”
“I’ve had enough strings to last a lifetime.” Ryan held his
hand out, and when Grant took it, Adam added his own hand in the shake. None of
them would ever let a woman get close enough to cause pain. They’d take their
fun where they found it, with no entanglements and no regrets. Life could be a
whole lot worse.
“Let’s have an initiation into the new club,” Grant
“I could use a few fingers of some really great Scotch,” Adam
“I could use a few more than you’re having,” Ryan said.
“And a huge slab of beef,” Grant said. “Bloodred rare.”
“I’m hearing The Tap Room,” Adam said. A place where the
steaks were aged as well as the Scotch and the bill could make some guys’ mortgage
payments. Their favorite haunt.
“I’m going to have lobster with my T-bone,” Ryan said.
They all laughed. Each of them could afford to buy the
restaurant out of lobster if they wanted.
“And if we should run into a few women looking for fun, that
wouldn’t hurt, either,” Grant said.
“To sex without strings.” Ryan raised his water bottle in imitation of a toast. “And to the Players Pact,” Adam and Grant said in unison.
Alice Gaines lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in a fixer-upper house
she never fixed up. Aside from writing and reading hot, hot romance, she loves
cooking, knitting and crocheting, and her church. She has a pet corn snake
named Casper. She’s insanely passionate about the funky soul band, Tower of
You can write to Alice at email@example.com. You can see information about new releases at http://www.alicegaines.blogspot.com. Sign up for her newsletter. From time to time, she raffles off her handcrafted items to her readers.
Temptation by Inara Scott is about the friendship-slash-repressed attraction between Zoe Riva, a bold and smart lawyer who wants her rightful place in a world dominated by men, and Connor Ashton, a tall yet reserved tech guy who is also one of the founders of Livend Capital. This attraction grows into something explosive, and the next thing I know, I was going emotional over this book. Two broken and complicated souls who found themselves in love with each other sound cliche but if you give this one a chance, you definitely won’t regret it.
First of all, I loved that this book is feminist. From Zoe’s headstrong demeanor to the GPG’s (Geriatric Physicist Grannies) strong and caring nature. All of the male characters looked at Zoe as an equal, and they never did once doubt her ideas and skills. There were times when they warned her to not proceed with some endeavors, but not because they did not believe in her. Those warnings were out of concern.
Second, this book had a good mix of light and heavy matters. I wasn’t actually expecting anything from this one other than it being steamy, but it surprised me in a good way. Aside from the sexy scenes, things like running a business, motorcycles, cold fusion, whiskey, forgiving others as well as yourself, were also discussed and I learned a lot.
Lastly, I found it so easy to connect with the main characters. Their back stories made them more relatable and I loved how the plot developed though it did not get exciting until the middle part.
I’m giving it a rating of 3 out of 5 stars. It would have been a 4 if not for the occasional typos. I recommend this book to suckers for romance and a little bit of smut. This is the second installment for the Bad Angels series but it can be read as a standalone.
As close friends and coworkers, attorney Zoe Riva and tech genius Connor Ashton know they can never get involved.
Until a scooter accident lands Zoe
in Connor’s arms—and his overnight custody—and she starts to see a man she’s
never seen before. With her career and her heart on the line, Zoe can’t afford
to take any chances. But when combustible chemistry takes over, even the
smartest people in the room can make the biggest of mistakes…
About the Author
Inara Scott grew up on a steady diet of true love, heaving bosoms, and
happily ever after. Romance inspired her first (terrible) novel, penned at the
age of 14, titled A Wild and Stormy Passion. Today, Inara writes anything and
everything, including adult romance and young adult fiction and adult romance.
Inara was finalist for the prestigious RITA®
award of the Romance Writers of America for her book Reforming the
Playboy. Her novels have won numerous awards, including the IPPY Award (Winter
Rain), the Oregon Spirit Book Award Honor Book (The Talents and The Marked) the
HOLT Medallion Award of Merit (Radiant Desire and Rules of Negotiation). When
she’s not writing, she loves to spend time wandering around in the woods,
paddling around on lakes, and has been known to occasionally dress up her little
white dog in princess costumes.
Inara loves to hear from readers, and can often be found avoiding actual
work on Twitter (@inarascott) or Facebook.