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(Voretti Family #1)
Navy SEAL Sean Patterson didn’t mean to marry his best friend’s sister. But when he wakes up in a Reno honeymoon suite with a vicious hangover, a platinum band on his ring finger, and a mostly naked Keri in his bed, he knows the attraction he has spent half his lifetime repressing must’ve finally burst out of control—to disastrous consequences
Keri MacKinnon has had a crush on Sean since he rescued her from imaginary pirates when she was six, but he has always seen her as his best friend’s little sister. When he returns stateside after a harrowing tour of duty leaves him with a death wish, Keri will do anything to help—even pretend to be married. But as her crush blossoms into love, she must convince Sean to trust her with what really happened on the battlefield, or their make-believe marriage won’t ever grow into the real thing.
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Read an excerpt from Marriage: Impossible
Navy SEAL Sean Patterson had survived six grueling months of BUD/S training, parachuted thirty-five thousand feet into enemy territory, and disarmed twenty blocks of C4. And he’d rather do all three at the same time than shake his ass in a Reno nightclub while the entire city celebrated the first night of summer.
But Vapor was where he’d traced his best friend Ty’s ex-fiancée Brittany, so Vapor it was. And he wasn’t leaving until Bri was at his side, heading toward the parking structure for the drive back to San Diego. He couldn’t afford to fuck this up—not when the broken engagement was his fault.
He found a vantage point at the top of the stairs that led to the DJ booth, but the strobe lighting, over-capacity crowds, and fog raining down from the ceiling all conspired to reduce his visibility. Damn! He was going to have to do this on foot.
He threaded his way through the dancers crowding the floor. All the women seemed to be blondes, which defied the rules of biology, not to mention complicated his search for a blond cocktail waitress.
The next blonde was taller than Bri. The one after shorter. And the next wasn’t a blonde at all.
Sean stopped short.
His heart rate kicked up to Mach 11. His vision tunneled, focusing on the brunette seated at the bar. Something about her…
His gaze finally penetrated the camouflage of that sexy mussed hair, curve-hugging dress, and I-spent-the-last-hour-kissing lips. Keri MacKinnon, Ty’s little sister.
What the hell was she doing six hundred miles from home at a meat market like Vapor?
LOVE & LEARN (Voretti Family #2)
Navy SEAL Tyler MacKinnon is that guy. The one who pitches a no-hitter in the big game even though he skipped practice. The one who can get any girl into bed with a funny story and a grin. But when Ty is hit by an IED, his charmed life is blown straight to hell.
Though his leg heals, that naive certainty that the universe is on his side is gone forever. And it’s like everyone knows it. Everyone except Annabelle Voretti, the sweet, studious girl Ty left when he made the spur-of-the-moment decision to join the Navy right out of high school. When Ty is with Annabelle, he feels like himself again. But winning her back is going to take a fight, and Ty is used to going with the flow instead of battling the current.
Annabelle has only ever taken one risk in her life—and it sent the most popular boy in school running straight from her arms to the Navy, leaving her with a raging case of sexual insecurity. Now Ty wants a second chance, but Annabelle has learned her lesson. Except what if? What if the only way for Annabelle to heal her sexual scars is to go back to the source? Some one-on-one tutoring from Ty might be just what she needs—if only she can find the courage to take one more crazy risk.
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Read an excerpt from Love and Learn
With several minutes remaining before class started, the lecture hall was only half full. Annabelle chose the middle seat in the completely empty front row.
Professor Diamon looked up from the laptop he was setting up on the podium. “Anna? Christian told me you’d taken a different teaching assignment.”
“I’m afraid that was a miscommunication. I’m really looking forward to TAing for this class.”
“And you’re certain you’re…comfortable with the material?”
“Of course.” She ignored the pulse fluttering way up in her throat. Probably, Diamon asked all his new TAs that same question. There was no way Christian had shared the details of their disastrous sexual encounter with his research advisor.
“And you’ve reviewed those supplementary papers I passed along?”
“Absolutely.” Not only had she read every single one, she’d highlighted the key passages and taken color-coded notes.
“Good.” He pressed a button on his laptop, and the title of his lecture blinked to life on the giant screen at the front of the room. The Evolution of Recreational Sex. “That should get their attention, don’t you think?”
Her cheeks warmed.
She held her breath, trying to reverse her body’s automatic response, but it was no use. Heat spread from her scalp, moving inexorably down her body until even her toes had to be bright pink. Thank God Diamon had the lights set to presentation mode, leaving the seating area in shadows.
She glanced to either side. None of the students were close enough to notice her freak-out; in the time-honored manner of the hung-over, the undergrads were filling in seats starting in the back. Diamon was tapping at his smartphone, oblivious to her blush.
Finally, the fire blazing over her skin died down. She cleared her throat. “You’re right. That will keep everyone awake.”
She sounded almost normal.
So she’d blushed a little. A year ago, when her advisor had first suggested she TA for the class, she’d run out of his office, then sent him an email begging for a reassignment.
Now she was here. She wasn’t dizzy or nauseous. She’d already confronted Christian, which meant the worst was behind her. She was finally making progress. Finally ready to put the past behind her.
She swiveled around, taking the opportunity to survey the students she was soon to be teaching. Hunkered in their seats, mainlining coffee, they looked young and impressionable and much too worried about their own lives to question her qualifications as a teaching assistant. They’d happily absorb her insights about the material without even considering that it came from detailed study of the textbook rather than hands-on experience with the source material.
Though the back two-thirds of the lecture hall was nearly full, the stragglers charged toward the few remaining seats, scrambling over backpacks and messenger bags. All except one student, who ambled down the center aisle toward the front.
He scanned the room. Though Annabelle was too far away to get more than the vaguest impression of broad shoulders and dark eyes, she knew the minute he saw her.
He went totally still, like the sight of her was so overwhelming he couldn’t handle anything else.
Awareness slammed into her. Her skin flushed and her knees went weak.
She forced her gaze away. Dragged in a breath.
Get a grip, Annabelle. Yes, TAing for this class is scary, but better to deal with that fear head on than to manufacture some ridiculous lust-at-first-sight distraction.
That stern mental voice was usually enough to set her back on the right path, but today her rebellious body tuned it out like the rest of the conversations around her. Though her gaze was now safely focused on the screen, she saw the dark-eyed student instead of Diamon’s slides. His close-cropped dark hair. That hint of stubble she must have imagined, because she couldn’t possibly have seen it all the way across the dim lecture hall.
He was watching her. She could feel it.
You’re being ridiculous.
But she must have been even more stressed about the class than she thought, because her brain was in full-on distraction mode, even manufacturing the sound of the dark-eyed student’s footsteps. He was coming toward her. Closer. Closer.
The footsteps stopped.
He was right next to her. There was no other way to explain why she was having so much trouble with instinctive bodily functions, like swallowing and breathing.
Turn around, and you’ll see he’s still half way across the room.
She finally found enough muscle control to turn her head. And there he was, not two feet from her, watching her intently.
Almost like he knew her. Like he was waiting for her to recognize him.
She shivered. He looked almost like—
“Annabelle.” His voice poured over her, warm and rough and devastating.
Her mouth went dry. Her heart raced ahead of her brain, which was still trying to figure out what was going on. It couldn’t be Ty. Not here. Not now.
Asking him to prom seven years ago had been her first big mistake, the bad decision that set her on the road toward that terrible night with Christian. She hadn’t seen Ty since then. No way had he just happened to drop in on the class she was TAing.
PRETTY IN INK (Voretti Family #3)
Never close your eyes while you’re getting a tattoo—even if you have a pathological fear of needles.
All Liv Voretti wanted was a small, tasteful butterfly tattoo. What she got was her (now ex-) boyfriend’s name—the worst goodbye present in the history of the universe. With the tattoo about to be revealed thanks to a strapless bridesmaid dress, Liv comes up with a desperate plan to keep her judgmental parents from pulling their loan for her clothing design business. Convince the stable, responsible, incredibly hot family friend—who happens to have the same name as her ex—to pretend to be her boyfriend.
Even with your eyes open, sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you.
The Vorettis are the closest thing to family Caleb has, and he’s not about to risk that relationship for a fling with Liv. She’d be bored with his predictable, color-inside-the-lines lifestyle inside a week. They’re just not compatible, even if she is the last person he thinks about before he falls asleep.
But when Liv comes to him for help, he can’t say no—not when he’s the reason she ended up with her jerk of an ex in the first place. But as their pretend relationship becomes all too real, Caleb must decide whether he’s going to stick to the plan, or take a chance on a woman who isn’t the person he’s looking for, but might be exactly who he needs.
Read an excerpt from Pretty in Ink.
“It’s not your name,” Liv blurted out.
Caleb didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to, because he was staring at his name in bold, cursive letters that would never come off her arm. Her skin burned under his gaze, which made everything worse, because, no doubt, Caleb could see that too.
“Well, okay. It is your name. But it’s not your name. I didn’t put it there because of you. I got it for my boyfriend.”
His brows jutted up dangerously.
He didn’t look pacified.
“Actually, it was supposed to be a butterfly.” Shut up, Liv. “Or a flower. That’s what I was trying to point to. But I was shaking a little bit and I guess my hand must’ve slipped, and… You know.” Finally—finally—she got her stupid mouth closed.
“No.” The word came out flat, like Caleb had crushed it with the power of his anger. “I don’t know.”
“I’m not good with needles. So I was a little nervous when I went inside.” She really needed to stop there. Telling Caleb the whole story would only give him more ammunition to use against her. But his intense stare was completely focused on her. The muscles inside her throat bypassed her brain entirely, like he was controlling them through the power of his gaze, and the next thing she knew, she’d told him exactly what had happened.
“You were freaking out so bad you didn’t even know you’d pointed to my-boyfriend’s-name-here instead of a butterfly, and CJ didn’t say anything?”
“I don’t think he…you know. Realized how badly I was freaking out.”
“One thing you’re not is subtle. If he didn’t notice, it’s because he chose not to.” Caleb regarded her, all pulsing veins and clenched jaw. “I’m gonna have a little talk with CJ.”
“Come on. What are you going to do? Hunt him down and kick his ass?” The idea wasn’t as ridiculous as it should’ve been. With that fierce intensity in Caleb’s eyes, he wasn’t Captain Integrity anymore. He was a man and she was a woman and anything could happen.
“Where is he?” The words were soft. Level. But Caleb’s stare was brimming with intensity.
She tried for a laugh, but it came out flat. “Who are you, and what have you done with Captain Integrity?”
He ran a hand over his forehead. Cleared his throat. Just like that, the smooth, even expression she knew so well was back. “Sorry.”
“That’s, uh, okay.”
“I got a little carried away. I won’t touch CJ, but there has to be something I can do.” He spoke in his normal, even tone, but as if a curtain had been lifted, she saw the raw power and intensity beneath it like they were a physical things coming off of his skin. Something that made her soft and warm, because it made him seem less like an overprotective brother and more like—
She cut the thought off there. “If you really want to help, there is one thing you could do. But you’re not going to like it.”
“Let me worry about that.”
She hesitated. Caleb clearly wasn’t himself right now. It would be wrong to take advantage of him in this vulnerable state.
Or, maybe he was himself. Maybe she’d met the real Caleb for the first time today.
It couldn’t be healthy for him to keep so much locked up inside. And if being around her helped him get in touch with his feelings, they’d be doing each other a favor.
Her mind made up, she slanted him a you-know-you-want-to smile. “The thing is, I kind of need a boyfriend.”
Ava is a winner and two-time finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® contest and has published five short romance stories in Woman’s World magazine. She is currently hard at work on the next contemporary romance in her Voretti Family series. You can find her online at: http://avablackstone.com
Do you have a Pretty in Ink fantasy tattoo in mind—or on your body? Please share if you dare in comments. And don't forget to download Marriage: Impossible FREE for a limited time.