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Friday, July 19, 2013

Say When Release Day

Title: Say When
Author: Tara West
Series: Something More (#1)
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Shifting Sands Publishing
Release Date: July 19 2013
He told me to say when, but I can’t. Not with Andrés. It’s so hard to say anything when he’s trailing feather soft kisses down my neck, or when his touch sends hot currents of lust rippling across my skin.
Then there’s the way he smiles and offers soft words of encouragement when I’m creating art, almost like he believes I have talent.
He’s not like any guy I’ve ever met. Not like my ex-fiancée. Not like my father. He’s got me thinking that maybe we can have something more. More than just lust, degradation, and abuse.
And now I’m scared, because that means I’ll have to trust him with more than just my body, but with my heart, too.
Christina Duval  
***Warning: this book contains graphic language, sex, and mature situations. Not intended for young adult readers.***

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A former Texas high school teacher, I enjoyed coaching the writing team and even the hectic deadlines that came with running the school publications. After taking a break to raise my baby girl, I now work from home as a cover artist.
In my spare time, I loves to read, exercise and spend time with family and friends. I contribute the cover art for my Whispers Series and have designed covers for over 500 other books.
Please visit me at or where you can check out my Whispers series and sample my artwork.

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Excerpts (Please Choose Only One)

Scene from chapter three...

    I don’t know what force of nature compels me to break my “no eye contact” rule. Maybe it is his heady musk, or the warmth radiating off his frame, but when I look into his eyes, I swear I nearly wet my pants. The guy is gorgeous. Warm chocolate eyes, thick lashes, flawless tanned skin, marred only by the slightest bit of stubble on his square jaw. Black hair cut short frames his angular face. And that mouth, so full and sensual, my traitorous lips part as if compelled to kiss him.
            When he looks down at me and smiles, I know I’m done for. My knees weaken and the heat rushes through me and spreads like wildfire. Damn me for acting the love-struck fool and smiling back.
            His sensual lips part and I think, Oh, gawd, this is it. You’re about to totally violate your anti-slut protocol and make out with this random stranger. I don’t even have the strength to tell myself I’m acting like an idiot.
            He leans toward me, and before he gets the chance to kiss me, he points to something just beyond my shoulder. “Do you girls need help?”
            His deep, rich voice startles me, but not as much as the fact that I was about to kiss a total stranger—a stranger who’s obviously not interested in kissing me back.
            I turn toward Karri. She’s slumped against the driver’s side door and sobbing into her hands. Well, don’t I feel like the total bitch?
            My sexy Latin stud brushes past me, the click of his cowboy boots ringing across the pavement as he walks toward Karri. He’s a soldier. I can tell by his rigid, uniform stride, although his cropped hair should have given it away.  Karri’s brother is in the Marines, and he’s got a similar stiffness in his gait. I follow this guy, even though my legs are almost useless, weakened by my stupid crazy hormones.
            “Uh, oh,” he says as he circles the car.
            It’s still smoking, and I worry maybe Karri should back away, even though I’m pretty sure cars only blow up in the movies.
            Karri looks at him through wide, watery eyes, and something flashes in her gaze. Oh, yeah, her slut sonar must be on high alert. I can’t say I blame her. His physique is just as impressive from the rear. His jeans mold to that ass perfectly, and even through his striped linen shirt, I can see the outline of a man in prime condition.
            Karri wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. “My stupid car broke down.” She pouts and bats her lashes while thrusting out her generous cleavage.
            “It’s not the car that’s stupid,” I say before I have the chance to stop myself. I slap my hand over my mouth. What the heck is wrong with me? But as I watch my friend slant me a dirty look and then turn a big smile on the stud, I know exactly what’s wrong. I’m being territorial over a guy, which is weird, because I’ve never been that way before, not even over Jackson. And for some odd reason, money grubbing hos are always throwing themselves at him.
            “Mind if I take a look?” Stud muffin asks, but he’s already inside the car popping the lever. Smoke pours from the engine when he lifts the hood.
            I take several steps back because the fumes are unbearable. Karri screeches and stomps a foot. He surveys the damage, and when he frowns, the tendons in his neck flex beneath his stiff shirt collar. Damn. I imagine the muscles beneath that shirt are even tighter. Double damn.
            I cross one leg over the other, balancing awkwardly as I try to quell my raging hormones—that is how hot and bothered I am over a guy.

Scene from chapter three...

“So it’s your birthday?”
            I gasp as I look up to see Andrés standing between two dilapidated candy shelves. How had I not noticed he’d come into the store? He walks forward, his boots clicking on the grimy tiles. He slants a smile at me as he joins me inside the beer fortress.
            “Yeah.” I shrug, feeling the blush creep into my cheeks and unable to do anything about it.  Mechanic or not, the boy is smokin’ hot. Images of random stranger sex flash through my mind. 
            “Happy birthday, Christina,” he says. I love the way my name rolls off his tongue and sends a ripple of heat across my skin, like pouring warm chocolate fudge over cool vanilla ice cream .
            “How’d you know my name?” I ask as my pulse quickens. I also love that he says my entire name and not some made-up shortcut. Christina. Not Teenie, Tina, or Christy, I think. The name on my birth certificate. The name I wish everyone would call me.
            His smile widens, revealing two perfectly white rows of teeth. “I heard your friend call you Christina. It’s a beautiful name.”
            “Thanks.” Even though I consider myself a relatively fun loving person, my smile feels contrived. That’s when I realize I’m in trouble. This guy unnerves me. I force myself to break eye contact, missing his warm chocolate gaze almost instantly. I focus on the first thing that catches my eye, his gleaming silver belt buckle.
            This is a very bad idea, because my gaze instinctively travels lower, and I notice the bulge beneath his zipper. Despite the fact that my back is chilled from the refrigerated wine section behind me, I feel a bead of sweat on my temple. 
            “This isn’t the best side of town,” Andrés says to me, in a voice that carries a note of concern. 
            I pull my gaze from his crotch and nod. My head bobbles maybe a bit too hard, and I feel like my brain is stuck in an earthquake. “I know.”
            “I’ll wait with you until your friend gets here.” He takes a seat on a beer display, never taking his gaze off me.
            The chill from the fridge causes me to shiver. My nipples feel so hard, they could probably cut glass. I resist the urge to look down and confirm it. I realize they’re probably already poking through my lacy bra and sheer dress fabric. Knowing Andrés is getting an eye-full mortifies and excites me at the same time. Still, modesty forces me to cross my arms over my chest.
            “She was at Dylan’s,” I say, trying to sound casual and not all hot and bothered, “so it shouldn’t take long.”
            “That’s where I was going,” he says as he motions toward his boots. “Maybe I’ll see you there.”
            Weird, how just a few moments ago, I didn’t feel like celebrating anymore. Now I’m thinking about dancing with Andrés at Dylan’s. I’m not a very skilled dancer, but I can follow someone else’s lead if I have a good enough partner. I wonder if Andrés is a good dancer. I wonder how it would feel to have his rough denim pressing against me.  
            My knees wobble at the thought. I look down at my stupid stilettos and realize I’m not dressed for dancing.
            “I don’t have my boots,” I say as my lip turns down in a pout. 
             “We’ll slow dance. Come on, Christina.” My name slides off his tongue in a sensual purr. “It’s your birthday.” He jumps down from the beer display and bridges the distance between us in a few easy strides.
            Having Andrés this near me sends a jolt straight up my spine. My flesh buzzes and I feel it all the way to the core of my body. He smells like leather and spice, and right now the only dancing I want to do with Andrés is between the sheets.

Scene from chapter four...

“So how old are you today, mija?” He asks as he takes a swig from his bottle.
            A blush creeps into my cheeks. I’ve heard Spanish speakers use “mija” as a term of endearment. I regain my composure long enough to answer. “Twenty-one.”
            His eyes widen. “Wow. Special night. How come you’re sitting here with me?”
            I laugh. Sexy and funny. Jackson would have never made such a joke. He always pretends I should be flattered he picked me out of his throng of money-grubbing admirers.
            “I just broke it off with my fiancé,” I say, while trying to shake off dark memories of fart breath, sex and puking. I am so ready to move past Jackson. So ready. I realize the only reason I’ve clung to this failing relationship so long is because of my mother.  But too bad. I take a long drink of beer, before swiping my hand across my lips. It’s my life. Time to live it how I want. Or so I keep telling myself. I only hope my resolve will still be strong tomorrow after the beer buzz has worn off.
            Andrés is looking at me. I read the uncertainty in his gaze as he holds himself ramrod straight. “Why’d you break up?”
            “He treats me like shit,” I say. Then I avert my gaze, realizing I’ve said too much. I don’t want Andrés knowing I allowed a guy to treat me like a door mat. If he thinks I’m strong, maybe he’ll know better than to treat me like shit, too. Maybe he won’t be like other guys. “I don’t want to talk about him,” I say as I look at Andrés. I tilt my chin and do my best to put on a brave face.
            Andrés takes a step back, smiles, and holds out his hand. “You want to dance?”
            I can’t help but smile. “Yes, but I’ve had a few drinks and I’m a bit wobbly.” I point down at my heels, which have become the bane of my existence. I make a mental note to throw them in a dumpster as soon as I get my hands on a decent pair of shoes.
             “It’s a slow song,” he says and nods toward the dance floor.
            I follow his gaze, to the couples clutching each other tightly while slowly moving to the rhythm. I hadn’t noticed the music changed.  It’s an old song by Rascal Flats, something sappy that always makes me want to pull my hair out by the roots. Maybe it’s because it’s hard to identify with a song that talks about romance and forever, but I think I can enjoy this song with Andrés.
            I tentatively give him my hand, and he pulls me to the floor. He wraps his arms around me as if holding me is second nature. I let out a slow breath as I force my stupid nerves to calm down. I’ve always hated being short. With these heels, I’m barely five foot six, but as I lean into his hard chest, pressing my head against his shoulder, I think we fit perfectly together.
            Another slow song, by Carrie Underwood, follows. I wind my arms around Andrés’s waist, relishing the feel of him.
            He leans down, his breath a hot whisper in my ear. “Christina, I’m usually not this open, but when I met you at that gas station, I thought you were the prettiest girl I’d ever seen.”
            My heart soars as my brain seizes on that thought. Okay, he obviously likes me. Awesome!
            “I’m not usually this open, either, but…” I pause as I bite my lip, silently cursing myself for being so stupid. I’m about to say too much. I’m about to make Andrés think I’m a total slut. And I’m not. In fact, Jackson is the only guy I’ve ever been with. Well, the only guy I’ve ever offered myself to willingly. 
            “But what?” he asks me.
            I close my eyes and try to channel the Christina from earlier this evening. The Christina who speaks up for herself and tells people exactly how she feels. Even though what I want right now is very, very bad, that voice inside me is telling me to take it. I open my eyes and I can see the lust in his dark gaze reflecting back at me. I know he’s feeling exactly how I feel. I steel my resolve and summon the courage to speak. “I want to go home with you.”

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