I'm so excited to be part of Secret Realm's New Year's blog hop celebration!
I'm also excited because the new year is a fresh start, filled with endless possibilities. AND, I'm so happy to share a brand new release with you!
Meet my rock stars!
LOVE NOTES, book one in the Rocked by Love series, just released earlier this week. Read the excerpt below and answer the question at the end for a chance to win a copy of any book on my back list:
Zander Rostov drove through the gates of his estate and coasted up the long drive, relieved to be surrounded by the hush of his own paradise. The exhaustion of the last few months on tour weighed heavy on his bones. Too much time cooped up with his band, too much in-fighting, and too many late nights and early rises left him itching for solitude and hours of sound sleep.
Beside him, his English Bulldog snored. What a life—eat, sleep, play, repeat. Lucky dog. But for the next two weeks, he’d have a taste of it, too. Two weeks to breathe before the chaos began all over again. A small piece of freedom, enough to tease him before being thrown back into six weeks of shows and travel. After ten years of near-constant recording and touring, he needed a break. A long break—from the band, from the grind, and from the lingering frustration he hadn’t been able to shake for months.
When he parked the car, Shredder roused with a pitiful grumble, his overbite pushing his bottom lip into a pout.
“We’re home, buddy.” Zander rubbed the dog’s brown and white wrinkled head. He took his pet on the road with him as often as he could. Seven-years-old and content to laze around, his bulldog made the perfect travel companion. He opened the passenger door and Shredder bounded off across the lawn, protected by the eight-foot-high walls surrounding the Spanish Mission-style home, his just-private-enough retreat from the world.
A breeze rustled the palm trees. The beginning of April in Santa Monica was warmer than the end of March in New York City had been. The east coast tour had ended in the city that never sleeps and then eight hours later, he’d parted ways with his band mates who never seemed to get along anymore. The break wasn’t really a break, with the few press events and the party for the fans lined up.
Stretching, he breathed in deep and fought down the urge to throw the bags back in the car, grab the dog, and just take off. Years of saying yes to everything had drained him dry but he couldn’t disappoint the fans. The success of the tour and the new album were more important than his need to recharge, even if the last few months had been the most difficult of the band’s career.
He left the dog in the garden and entered the house. Cool air and silence greeted him. He set down his guitar case in the living room, then dropped his luggage on the floor outside the laundry room. He’d unpack before his housekeeper arrived. Settling the dog with food and water came first. Man’s best friend deserved a reward after hours of travel. The next part of the tour would be easier—all in California, and several local shows. When he needed to be away for a few days, his housekeeper would watch Shredder or the dog would stay with his parents.
The ping of an email alert made him reach for his phone. The sender—Oliver Somers from Excite Records—could wait long enough for him to have a cold one. He let Shredder in, then cracked open the beer and downed half the contents. Oliver’s email started off with the usual pseudo-friendly nonsense, then listed the upcoming tour dates. At the very end, the son-of-a-bitch had tacked on an additional two weeks’ worth of shows.
He crushed the can in his fist. Beer sloshed over his hand and splashed the kitchen floor. Shredder trotted over and licked at the puddle.
“Damn it, no.” He grabbed the dog’s collar and tugged him away.
Two weeks… The burn of anger singed his muscles. He slammed his fist onto the counter, then hurled the can into the sink. Metal clattered and Shredder whimpered and hid under the table.
Fuming, he wiped the spill and then sat on the floor, staring at the dog. He needed to hold it together. He rubbed his palms over his face and forced his muscles to relax. Calling for the dog, he reached for his phone.
He’d left his sister an hour ago and Irisa hadn’t said a word about more tour dates. As band manager, the discussion of more tour dates should have come from her. Which meant Oliver had once again overstepped his authority. His muscles tightened again. With the dog curled onto his legs, he dialed Irisa’s number.
It rang several times before her voice came on the line. “What’s up? You should be sleeping.”
“Check your email. Excite added a few more venues to the tour.”
“What?” Her voice hardened. “Oliver knows that’s supposed to be cleared with me first.”
“I’m not happy about it either. We’re fucking exhausted and they go and add in five more shows to the end of the tour, with maybe more to come. We’ll be working through the whole summer at this rate.”
“I’ll make it clear that he can’t add on any more. I’ll start looking at hotels.” She sounded as worn out as he felt. He knew she didn’t like Oliver any more than he did. The jerk had used her to get his job—something Zander couldn’t forget.
He rubbed Shredder’s head. “I can help.”
“I’ll handle it. Don’t worry. Get some sleep. I’ll call you when I’ve figured it out.”
Sleep was out of the question. He hurled dirty clothes into the washer, then reached for the only thing that ever settled him—his guitar. Time didn’t exist when he played. Nothing existed except the music. He heard about it often enough from his sister, so he set his phone on the table, where he’d be sure to see her call.
He didn’t know how long he’d been playing when the phone’s ringing jarred him out of his relaxed mood. He saw texts from his band mates, probably ticked off about the added dates. Ignoring them, he answered his sister’s call.
“Travel and hotels are all set. Listen, I’ve hired my friend Jayne to help me out during the tour. I’ve told you about her, she’s a tour manager, and really, after how you guys have been, I need someone to keep me sane.”
His sister did so much for them, allowing them to focus on the music and the fans. “Hey, if you want to bring someone along, that’s fine. Whatever you need.”
“She wants to meet you all first before she’ll take the job. I know you’re tired, but please? A quick meeting this afternoon. Four o’clock, at the coffee shop by your house.”
“Fine. Did you call the guys?”
"Yes, they’ll be there.”
“Then I’ll see you at four.” He clicked off.
Hmmm. Jayne Warren.
He’d never met Jayne, but from pictures he’d seen at his sister’s place and from all Irisa had said about her friend, he felt like he knew her already. Jayne Warren, a gorgeous blonde with eyes nearly the same shade of blue as his favorite guitar.
When he walked into the coffee shop a few hours later, his band mates Luke, Landry, and Brendan, sat at a table in the back of the nearly empty room.
Luke raised his brow. “You live the closest but you’re the last one here.”
He shrugged. “So? I’m here now.”
“We only got here a few minutes ago anyway, Thompson.” Landry shook his head at Luke, then sipped his coffee.
“Whatever. I don’t understand why we had to meet this girl today. This could’ve waited a few days.”
“Maybe it couldn’t have waited. Where else did you need to be? My sister said it’ll be quick, so it’ll be quick. Calm the hell down.” Zander turned at the sound of the door opening.
Irisa walked in, followed by Jayne. She was far more beautiful than the pictures he’d seen.
The classic oval face, high cheekbones with a hint of color, wide ocean-blue eyes fringed by thick lashes, sculpted brows, and full lips, petal pink and perfect for kissing. She was taller than his sister. A quick estimate suggested the top of her head would reach right under his chin if he held her close. She glided toward them—long limbs, delicate curves, and the graceful moves of a dancer. Rather than the platinum blonde hair she’d had in the photos, strawberry blonde locks tumbled over her shoulders in thick waves. His hands itched to sink in and test the weight.
Her gaze met his. Something within him clicked, shifted, then settled.
With the sexy bombshell along for the ride, maybe he’d survive the tour after all.
So, the question is: What is the only thing that ever settles Zander?
Share your answer in the comments and I'll pick a winner tomorrow.
Thanks SO MUCH for stopping by! BEST wishes for your BEST year ever!