Today is the last day of Audrey Harte's tour for her debut novel, Love In All The Wrong Places and I get the honor of closing things out! I've got an excerpt, review AND giveaway! Read on, Lil Lovers...then go BUY IT if you haven't already! ♥
Annie Chang is in her mid 20s and has lived in Los Angeles all her life. After a series of failed relationships, she's beginning to feel like she will never meet Mr. Right. But seeing one of her longtime BFFs find love on the internet, she decides to give online dating a try. After finally finding an amazing guy who sweeps her off her feet, will he prove to be everything she could have wished for and more or is he too good to be true?
Thankfully, traffic wasn’t too bad since it was a Tuesday night and she was only running a few minutes late when she pulled up to the valet. A portly middle aged man of Hispanic descent wearing a zipped up black jacket and black slacks opened the door for her and handed her a ticket.
Shivering, she rubbed her arms briskly as she moved to the end of the rather long line of people standing outside the club. Annie thought she was being smart when she decided to leave her coat in the car, knowing how hot she would get once she was inside, but the temperature had dropped several degrees in the late evening hour and she was quickly beginning to regret that decision.
As luck would have it, the line moved pretty quickly and it was only a matter of minutes before she stood in front of a pair of bouncers, both of them tall and heavily muscled. The one holding a clipboard gruffly asked for her name. She gave it to him and held her breath as she waited for him to check the guest list.
Had Gabe told them to add her name or was she going to look like an idiot? But he only paused for a few moments before nodding and asking for her ID. After he returned it, she stuffed it back into her clutch and eagerly headed into the comfort of the much warmer club.
Needing to do a quick mirror check and give herself a little pep talk, she hurried into the ladies room. Her make-up and hair still looked fresh, so she just washed her sweaty palms and then applied a fresh coat of lip gloss before texting him. Okay, nothing to be nervous about, girl. You got this.
Annie: I’m here.
Gabe: Where are you? Are you already inside?
Annie: Yeah, I just left the ladies room in front.
Gabe: Stay there. I’ll come get you.
This was it — the moment of truth. Annie stood there feeling a little awkward as a swarm of girls moved in and out of the ladies room, some of them looking at her as they passed by. She tried to ignore their stares as she scanned the room for a tall guy who looked like Gabe’s pictures.
It wasn’t too long before she found him moving smoothly through the crowd of people. A moment later he saw her as well, and his eyes lit up as a slow, sexy smile curved his lips. Her breath caught as she did a mental back flip and cheer in her head. Hot damn, she had hit the jackpot.
His dark brown hair looked like it had been buzzed recently and he wore a black t-shirt and a pair of distressed jeans with a black and silver studded belt and a pair of looped silver chains hanging down one side. She smiled appreciatively as she noticed the tattoos on both of his toned arms and the diamond stud earrings in both of his ears.
“Hey…Annie, right?” he asked with a raised eyebrow when he was close enough for her to hear, then moved forward to give her a quick hug when she nodded. She got a quick whiff of his scent which was a mix of aftershave and cologne…a little spicy, a little musky and absolutely delicious. “You look insanely hot,” he murmured in her ear before he pulled away and winked at her. “Come on, let’s get you a drink.” He grabbed her hand and led her inside the club and then to the closest bar. “What’s your poison?” he asked and she thought for a moment before responding.
“Um, you pick…surprise me.”
“Ha, you sure about that?”
“Yeah, I can handle it.”
“Alrighty.” He leaned towards the bartender to give him their order, then handed over his credit card and told him to keep the tab open. A minute later, the bartender pushed two shots towards them. Gabe picked one up and handed it to her, then picked the other up and raised it to clink against hers. “Cheers!” he yelled over the thumping music.
“Cheers!” she yelled back, then tossed it back like a champ. Holy shit fire. Can’t breathe. Going to puke. Goddamn it. Why did he have to pick Tequila? Gabe tossed his back with no problem, then burst out laughing when he saw her face.
“Oh wow, I’m sorry. You look a little green.” Shaking her head, Annie smiled weakly and patted her chest with one fist.
“I’m fine…or I will be in a minute.”
“You said surprise you.”
“I know, I know. I deserved it.” Annie didn’t dare admit to him that she’d felt so nervous and flustered at being in such close proximity to him that basic thought process was difficult for her at the moment. When he had taken his hand in hers and led her to the bar, asking what she wanted to drink, she couldn’t think of a single thing to order. It had been much easier just to let him pick something for her. Now she knew that was a bad idea and had a drink order ready when he asked her what she’d like next. “Kamikaze shot straight up.” Gabe raised his eyebrow and chuckled as she hastily blurted out her request, but he turned and placed the order, holding up two fingers as he spoke to the bartender.
“Okay, we’ll do your girlie shot now.”
She smiled gratefully at him and found herself starting to relax and bounce in place to the pounding music as the current song began to reach its crescendo. Soon Gabe was handing her a Kamikaze shot and lifting his to cheer with hers once again. She had no problem tossing the shot back smoothly without coughing and making a face. Kamikaze shots were her go-to drink and she didn’t often find bartenders who made them well, but this one was definitely the exception. She appreciated how fresh it tasted and how smoothly it went down. This time she was the one who motioned the bartender over, holding up two fingers and pointing to the now empty shot glasses.
After two more rounds of shots, Annie was starting to feel really good and grabbed Gabe’s hand to drag him out on the dance floor. She made her way into the middle of the crowd, not letting go of him until she finally turned around to slide a hand around his waist and pull him close to her as she began to dance. He was so much taller than she was, even with her heels on, and had to lean down to shout to her over the loud music that pumped through the club. “Now I warned you I don’t really dance.”
Rolling her eyes, she raised on her toes to get closer to his ear. “Just hold onto me and let your body move to the music.” She grabbed his hands and placed them around her hips, his long fingers wrapping firmly around her. The music pulsated as she swayed her hips back and forth slowly, eyes closed, her head bobbing in time to the thudding bass. He felt so big and strong pressed closely against her and she felt a feeling of euphoria as they moved together, letting the hypnotic song control their movements. Men and women danced around them on all sides, their sweaty bodies pressed against each other as everyone moved to the compelling beat.
“Who’s this song by?” he asked when he saw her lips move as she sang along.
“Kaskade and Deadmau5.”
“I think I really like this song, especially now that I’ve seen you dancing to it.” He smiled down at her and she felt butterflies rise in a sudden whirlwind through her stomach.
“It’s called I Remember.”
“I don’t know why, but I just feel like…it feels like I knew you once and that I’m finally seeing you again after a long time.” She wasn’t sure if he was being serious or if it was just the alcohol talking, but she was seriously buzzed and feeling good and so ready for his kiss when it came, that he could have been quoting Shakespeare or singing Sir Mix-A-Lot and it wouldn’t have mattered.
His mouth was intoxicating and his lips were warm and soft as they began to move against hers. He dipped his tongue gently between her parted lips and slid it against her own as they continued to dance closely to each other. The kiss deepened, quickly turning from sweet to passionate as his hands moved down to cup her ass, pulling her tightly against the hard, lean length of him as he continued to kiss her like he couldn’t get enough of the taste of her. It was so amazing and felt so right to be dancing in his arms, like she just belonged there.
More and more, Annie was really wishing that there were no clothes between them as they continued to make out like teenagers and rub against each other in time to the music. All caution had flown out the window with the second Kamikaze shot. All she wanted more than anything at that moment was to have this delicious stud of a man pounding into her all night long. He was lean and toned, but not overly muscled — some girls may consider him too skinny, but she had heard things about skinny guys and she was definitely in the mood to find out if the rumors were true.
Crooking a finger at him, she said “I want you” in his ear when he bent his head down closer to hear her. Straightening back up, he looked down at her intently through hooded eyes for a few moments before finally responding. She gave him her best “Come fuck me” smile and traced her fingers in lazy circles around his waist.
“Sweetie, you keep rubbing yourself against me like that and keep looking at me with those fuckin’ sexy bedroom eyes, you may end up getting more than you bargained for.”
Annie smiled wickedly back at him and asked tauntingly, “Hmm, is that a promise?” A new song had started to play and had a harder driving beat. Gabe must have been feeling the alcohol in his blood as he was now moving with surprising dexterity as he danced around her.
She could only assume that the hesitation he had shown before when she had asked him if he danced was probably the result of bad experiences, trying to dance with girls a lot shorter than him. But she knew that you could be tall and still move your body to a basic beat and lose yourself in the rhythm of the music. He seemed to have picked up on that rather quickly himself as he was now dancing with total abandon, like he’d been born on the dance floor.
They bounced up and down together as the beat popped and rolled and repeated again, waving their hands in the air with everyone around them. The music kept pounding, the bass reverberating from the floor through their feet and spreading throughout the rest of their bodies as sweat dripped down their faces, but still they kept dancing. A few minutes later, the music finally faded out and transitioned into the next song. Gabe motioned his head towards the bar and she nodded and followed him off the dance floor, her hand firmly gripped in his.
“Another Kamikaze?” he offered.
“Sure. Make it a double.”
He laughed and shrugged. “Your funeral.”
“Aww…well, will you hold my hair if I have to puke?” she asked, wrinkling her nose as she looked up at him.
“On what?” she asked curiously.
“Whether I’m going with you to your place tonight.”
“Oh…well yeah.” Annie looked at him like that had been a dumb question. “I thought I had made that pretty obvious the way I was dry humping you out there.”
“Well, in that case...” He pulled her close to him and kissed her deeply again, nipping lightly at her lower lip before sweeping his tongue back over to sooth it. “I say forget the drink and let’s get out of here.”
She didn’t need to be told twice. “Okay,” she agreed, nodding happily.
“Okay.” He kissed her once more before waving down the bartender to close out his tab. After settling the bill, he reached for her hand and led her through the crowd and out of the club.
Where you can buy it:
Okay, this is going to be one of my shorter reviews because, like a dumb ass, I waited till the last minute to write it up even though I finished my ARC weeeeeeeks ago...but how much can you pick apart a book you really, really enjoyed, anyway? Love In All The Wrong Places is a pretty great first novel that shakes the erotic romance genre up a little bit in the process (and praisaluiah, cuz it needs it!). It's refreshing that we aren't introduced to "the one" right away - in fact we go through (technically) four hotties in one book! Okay three hotties and one wuss-puss that starts the whole thing off (I have a theory that he's gay, but I digress ).
That's not to say that Annie, our heroine, is a skank er nuttin' - merely a young, beautiful, sexually liberated girl in L.A. who really wants to be loved and takes to internet dating to try and find it. And on Craigslist at that! Naturally, hijinks and shenanigans ensue and our sweet girl makes some really poor choices that leave her heartbroken and not a little humiliated. I actually caught myself saying out loud at one point, "Oh, sweet Jesus...why did you...??? Oh, honey. Bless your heart." Annie's insecurity (thanks largely in part to Wuss-Puss) takes over her common sense on more than one occasion...but if you weren't young and stupid once then you haven't lived proper, if you ask me. She's just looking for her HEA and I'm sure we've all been slappy stupid for love - or what we thought was love - at one point or another. Add on the insecurity, loneliness, rejection and the friggin' shit stew that is Craigslist and you basically have the makings of a fascinating train wreck of a story that you won't be able to put down.
Also have to hand it to Audrey that each guy she introduced was vastly different from each other. One had a particularly fascinating accoutrement I might like to experiment with myself, if I can find it! I won't tell you what it is. You'll have to read to find out.
Lastly, I love whenever a gay bestie shows up (I have many in my real life and one of them became a character in my own work, too). They always smack down the realness and bring the comedy - and in this case, dessert also. Every Grace or Karen needs her Will or Jack.
Yet again we've got another cliffhanger - it's all the rage these days. So frustrating! But I highly anticipate the follow up to see what happens with Annie and the adorable boy she was just getting to know when we're left hanging. I certainly hope Audrey is typing her little fingers to the bone right this minute!
Go get it. You will enjoy it!
Rating: Four and a half smooches! (out of 5)
WIN A COPY OF AUDREY HARTE'S
LOVE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
AND A SET OF DELIZA RAFFERTY'S
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Meet The Author:
Born and raised in Hawaii, Audrey Harte grew up an only child for the first eight years of her life, which forced her to use her imagination to keep herself entertained. In 1991, she moved to Nebraska where she attended junior high and high school and participated in several plays and musical productions at the local community college and West Nebraska Arts Center. In 1998, Audrey relocated to Los Angeles, California where she has lived ever since. She has been writing poetry and song lyrics since she was young, but only more recently has she finished her first book. Having always been an avid reader, some of her favorite authors are Nora Roberts, Johanna Lindsey, E. L. James, Sylvia Day, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Christina Dodd, Alice Clayton, Jamie McGuire, Gina L. Maxwell, Colleen Hoover, Emily Snow, S.C. Stephens and Kimberly Knight (her real life BFF).
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