Kay's Review
Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Suspense/Intrigue Romance, Year of Reviews - 2020

Review – Always Yours by Kennedy Fox

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Always Yours; Maddie and Liam #2, Roommate Duet #6 
(Book 2 within a duet, Book 6 within a series)

by: Kennedy Fox

Review Rating:




The twists and turns, the ups and downs, Always Yours will keep you turning pages until the very end.

Hooked on these two finding their HEA from the very, very beginning I couldn’t be happier at how they got there. Well, it was a tangled mess with lots of corruption and drama, but for the sassy-mouthed Maddie and the seemingly laid back Hulk it was the perfect story.

Always Yours is tense and filled with so many moments of “how will they ever get out of this?” but probably the best joy in reading this book is brought forth everytime Maddie opens her mouth. She is filled with such sass and at times, her no filter word vomit, that not only breaks up the tension, but she is also able to bring light to the most horrible of situations. Maddie is definitely my favorite sister of the three.

Then we have Liam; big, Hulky, bounty hunter Liam. He has majorly screwed things up on so many levels, but he’s also this big loveable guy that you just want to shelter. He may be perfectly capable of taking care of himself physically, but emotionally…he’s still trying to play catch up. Thank goodness he’s amazing and his overall character just tries to do the right thing. Liam reminds me of a child who wants to make the right decisions, but he gets led astray by the wrong people, if only he’d stop and ask for help he might actually make the right choices. I adore him so much because he’s really not a bad guy.

Together Maddie and Liam sizzle off the page, but they are also funny and just in sync with one another. They may be young, but they have this soul deep love that resonates off the page. I think that is what makes them one of my favorite couples.

If you’ve been following the entire series, you will adore this sixth book, however as much as I would suggest reading the entire series in order to make this duet more enjoyable, it is not mandatory to do so before reading Liam and Maddie’s story. With that said, since this is the second book in a duet, you DO need to have read the first one for Always Yours to make sense, so please Always Mine first.


Rehearsals, leotards, and textbooks—that was my life.

Dancing is all I’ve ever known, but when Liam’s problems turn everything upside down, I’m thrust into a world I know nothing about. Secrets and betrayal changed the man I’ve fallen for and he isn’t who I thought he was. Regardless, Liam is all I’ve ever wanted and though I’m struggling with my emotions, deep down I’d do anything for him.

When Liam admitted his true feelings, things finally fell into place. Now they’re falling apart. Saving our relationship is his top priority, but keeping him alive is mine. Corruption and power are their game and Liam is nothing more than a pawn. Playing by the rules won’t end well, but I can’t let him fight alone this time.

Our happily ever after is so close I can taste it, but then it quickly crashes and burns, threatening to destroy us. Giving up on the love of my life isn’t an option, but in the end I might not be able to save him.

ALWAYS YOURS is a slow-burn, intense romance wrapped up in a suspenseful beautiful love story. It’s book 2 in the Liam & Madelyn duet and must be read in order.


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Book 1 is Always Mine and should be read first.

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Excerpt/Teaser Share, Release Day/New Release, Year in Releases - 2020

New Release – When the Handyman Comes by Lana Brazen

Title: When the Handyman Comes
Author: Lana Brazen
Genre: Erotica Romance Novella
Release Date: February 13, 2020

When Andrew Harden is on a routine repair job, things go a bit off course. The Handyman special is asked for and received, and thus begins another tale of pure pleasure.

Annette Flick needs her faucet fixed.
Referred by a friend to this handyman, she’s heard he restores more than busted plumbing.
I’m just curious, she says, questioning his experience in matters other than home renovation.
How is he at rebuilding the feminine spirit?

Andrew Harden has experience with broken things.
When he gets this particular call, he quickly learns it’s more than a routine repair.
To his surprise, she’s intrigued with his past endeavors in the world of pleasure.
But how is she at restoring his faith in matters of the heart?

In a relationship that quickly turns from curiosity to compassion, emotions wreak havoc on this handyman. How could he know, he’s the one who might need fixing?

‘When the Handyman Comes’ is a quick and steamy tale of pure pleasure.
This story follows ‘The Doctor Will See You’ but can be read as a standalone.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49117189-when-the-handyman-comes

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“Harden Handy,” I announce, holding out a hand to introduce myself. The woman who answers the door is built like a pinup girl—hourglass shape, pert breasts, and eyeglasses—but the tightness of her smile gives away her age as do the stripes of gray in her hair. I’d place her just above forty like myself.
“Nice place you have,” I say, noting the open-concept layout as I follow her. Clean lines, water-tone colors, a real beach house minus the beach. It’s Florida but not every home is on the coast. This is an older neighborhood, meaning the majority of the residents are old. I’m talking retirees and geriatrics, but not her.
“The issue’s in the bathroom,” she states, leading me down a hallway. I’m not a plumber by trade. I was formerly in construction, but the market in southern Florida is either feast or famine. To make ends meet, I began working odd jobs, handyman style.
I’m here as a favor, and I can see I’ve walked in on a mess—sink cabinet open and faucet handle missing.
“I was able to shut the water off myself yesterday,” she says.
“Looks good,” I lie. It looks like she broke the faucet. As I begin assessing the damage, she leans against the doorjamb.
“You know, I was surprised when Lana told me about you. You really are a legit handyman.”
I try not to flinch. I’d like to say I don’t know what she means, but I do. I helped a friend of mine a time or two and met Lana Blasen, her friend. Is she accusing me of something?
“I’m the real deal,” I tease, lowering for the base cabinet. My knees crack with the effort.
“So you’re a gigolo?”
I pause, the term startling, but I’ve been called worse.
“The sixties called. They want their word back,” I tease. She’s silent a second, and when I look up, I feel bad, as if I insulted her instead of her insulting me.
“I was just curious,” she says quietly, and now I feel extra bad. Slowly, I stand to my full height. I’m taller than her by half a foot at least. She’s barefoot but still dressed in a tight skirt and fancy blouse.
“It isn’t called that, or maybe it still is, if I were a male hooker or a player, or whatever, but I’m not like that.” I don’t know why I’m defending myself to this woman I don’t know, even if she is a friend of Lana’s. Maybe it’s been the most recent events. I’d been with the same couple a few times. They called me. James warned me to take on only the most stable of married couples or recommendations from others, and this couple was on shaky ground at best.
I’m a swinger. The third party at the table set for a threesome. But recently, I’ve been in a funk. The last scene broke me a bit, especially after the guy broke my nose. I don’t blame him. No husband wants his wife to say the other guy in the bedroom is better than him.
“I didn’t mean to offend you.” She pauses, reflecting on something near her feet, and then her expression changes as though she’s changed her mind about what she would say next. “I’ll be down the hall, if you need anything. My son is at his father’s tonight, so there’s no rush here. Take your time.”
I watch her walk away in that hip-hugging skirt and loose blouse, open an extra button close to her cleavage. Curious, she said. I’m curious about her, but she didn’t call for the handyman special, only this plumbing disaster.
An hour later, I have things temporarily fixed, but she needs a new faucet. “If I could show you what I did,” I suggest, interrupting her once I find her sitting at her dining room table. She nods, removing her glasses and I gaze down at them.
“Getting older sucks,” she teases. “They say the eyesight is the first thing to go.”
“You aren’t old.”
“I wasn’t fishing for a compliment,” she states, good natured but still self-deprecating.
“So if I tell you you’re beautiful, you’ll take it?”
She tilts her head as she stands to follow me to the bathroom. “If you aren’t a player, you are charming.”
Once back inside the bathroom, I explain, “You’ll need to turn the handle only this far or it will snap again. If you pick out a new faucet, I can come back and install it another day.”
She reaches for the handle to test it, and without thinking, I reach for her hand as well, covering it as we collectively twist the knob. Like a toaster dropped in a full tub, electricity ripples up my arm, the connection stronger than anything I’ve ever felt. We look at one another at the same time, and I’m certain she felt it as well, but she draws back, resting her body on the doorjamb again.
Her eyes search mine, and I know that look. The hungry curiosity of the forbidden. “Tell me how it works.” She doesn’t mean the faucet.
“This isn’t why I’m here,” I remind her.
“I know.” The sadness in her eyes squeezes at my chest.
“And Lana told you?” I question. I’m not upset Lana shared with others what I did for her and James, but it also isn’t friendly conversation.
“She only mentioned the basics. No details.”
“And you aren’t married? Boyfriend who can kick my ass?” Her eyes widen, taking in my size. I’m six feet one, solid and stocky, or so I’m told. I’d hold my own in a fight. The broken nose caught me off guard. “Are you upgrading to the handyman special?” I ask.
“Does it cost more?”
“Not a thing.” I laugh. “And that’s the first difference,” I joke.
She slowly smiles. The melancholy still in her eyes and her expression anxious.
“I start with an assessment of your needs. As this is a plumbing job, we can use this as the scenario.” My voice lowers, but I wink to relax her. “I’m going to ask you some questions, and you answer with your comfort level, guiding how far we go.”
She nods.
“I need you to verbally agree.” I typically have consent forms for legalese and understanding on both sides, but I’m making an exception here. She isn’t a regular at this.
“Yes, Mr. Harden.”

I smile at the formality. “You can just call me Andrew.”


The Doctor Will See You

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The Athletic Trainer – Releasing April 9

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Lana Brazen is the alter ego of a bestselling contemporary romance author who believes romance doesn’t need to end just because you crossed over forty. In a fantasy life, she was an anthropologist, a journalist and a world-famous novelist on the level of F. Scott Fitzgerald. None of that has happened. Instead, she’s written over twenty romances, mothered four children and remains with the one and only. Sometimes, she likes things a little hotter, spicier, raunchier than contemporary trysts, and so begins this chapter.


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Excerpt/Teaser Share, New Releases

Release Boost – Just Friends by Charity Ferrell

Title: Just Friends
Series: Blue Beech #6
Author: Charity Ferrell
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: February 6, 2020


Someone should have warned me about falling in love with my best friend.

Little did I know when Rex came to my locker attempting to bribe me, that he’d turn into my everything.
We’d become best friends. I’d steal his heart. He’d steal mine.
Nothing has changed in the years of our friendship.
Not our connection, not our feelings, or that we still hold each other’s hearts.
But his heart isn’t the only thing I’ve kept.
The secret I’m hiding could shatter the only man I’ve ever loved.

I’ve loved Carolina since the day she called my bluff.
Our friendship always came first.
She believed in me when no one else did.
I tucked away my feelings because I couldn’t survive a life without her.
We crossed the line once, and I swore it’d never happen again.
As time passes, the harder it becomes to live up to that promise.
Until finally, there’s no holding back.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48338183-just-friends


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Chapter 1

High School—Sophomore Year

“I’ll pay you fifty bucks to write my English paper.”
I slam my locker shut before shifting to face the brave soul who asked that.
I don’t cheat.
I don’t break rules.
Everyone knows this.
He’s casually leaning against the locker next to mine. A smirk is spread across his face, as if he expects me to squeal in delight that he’s asking me for a favor.
Not happening, homeboy.
Homeboy is Rex Lane.
Our school’s arrogant fuckboy.
A guy I’m not writing a paper for.
I mock his smile. “I’ll charge you fifty bucks not to rat you out for homework bribery.”
“Homework bribery?” He flashes a brighter I’m a nice guy; do what I’m asking grin.
I firmly nod. “Yes.” I motion down the hallway. “Now, go away. Having this stupid conversation with you is wasting my valuable study time.”
I count on my rudeness to scare him off, but when his eyes brighten in amusement, I know I’m wrong.
I have two high school goals in life:

  1. Become class valedictorian.
  2. Do not gain Rex’s or any popular guy’s attention.
Luckily, he caught me after the class bell rang, so no one is around to witness this unfortunate encounter.
“Come on, Carolina,” he pleads. “Prove to me the rumors about you aren’t true.”
I stiffen. “Rumors?” I deliver a stern look. “What rumors?”
I mind my business. Don’t gossip. Stay in my lane.
All of this to prevent rumors from circulating about me.
He licks his lips, leaning in closer, and lowers his voice. “The rumors that you have a stick up your ass and lack personality.”
This jerk.
There might be a stick up my ass, but I’m going to shove my foot up his.
I narrow my eyes, and my response releases in a hiss, “Really? You want to talk about rumors? Maybe I should believe the rumors about you.”
“The rumors that say I’m cool as fuck? A terrific lay? Fucking hilarious?”
Our high school halls flood with rumors about him.
The one that he sports an overinflated ego is officially confirmed.
“Negative,” I reply. “The rumors that you’re a sucky lay with a small penis.”
This is a lie—a rumor I’ve never heard—but hey, if he wants to talk crap, so can I.
“Lies, babe, all lies. I’m more than happy to present the evidence to back up my claim.” He retreats a step, dropping his hand to the crotch of his jeans, and tugs at his zipper.
I do another quick scan of the hallway before loudly snorting. “You won’t do it.”
He flinches, that smug smile slipping off his lips. “Huh?”
“You won’t do it.” I nod toward his crotch. “You won’t unzip your pants and present your evidence.” I park my hands on my waist and kick my foot out.
He gapes at me, speechless.
“Pull it out or go away.” I dismissively wave my hand. “I have a test in ten minutes, and you, standing in front of me with your hand on your junk, aren’t helping me ace it. Go beg another girl to write your paper because you lack a brain … and according to the girls’ locker room gossip, a decent penis size.”
He drops his hand from his crotch, his smile returning. “Looks like Little Miss Innocent might not be as uptight as she leads on. There’s some personality hidden underneath those awful, itchy-looking sweaters of yours.” He makes a show of eyeing me up and down.
I opt out of giving him hell over the uptight comment. The faster he goes away, the better.
“No, she has a low annoyance tolerance.”
He steeples his hands into a praying motion. “Say yes to writing my paper, and then you can go about your studying, sweater-wearing ways.”
“Sixty bucks and a bonus of proving I’m well-endowed when we’re in private.”
I dramatically gag. “Gross.” As much as I don’t want to deal with him, I could use the cash. “Seventy-five, and I’ll help you write the paper, but you’re doing it yourself. I don’t cheat.” I signal to his jeans. “And keep your micropenis to yourself. I’d rather fail every class than have you prove you’re well-endowed.
“Paying you to help me write the paper defeats the point of paying you.”
Really? With that brilliance of yours, you shouldn’t need me to write your paper.”
He laughs.
“Why are you even asking me? You’re in line—behind me—to be class valedictorian. You can easily write your own paper.” I reach forward to pat his shoulder. “I have faith in you, petite-penis buddy.”
“Never said I couldn’t write the boring-ass paper. I’d just rather not. I’m a busy guy who doesn’t give two shits about Shakespeare.”
“Eighty dollars,” I blurt out.
“Eighty? What the fuck? You can’t up the ante like that.”
“I can, and the longer you waste my time, the higher the price.” I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this, but hey, money talks. “Eighty dollars. Meet me at the library after school.”
“The library sucks. My house.”
I shake my head. “You’re high if you think I’m going to your house.”
“If I’m paying eighty dollars, which is fucking insane, at least give a guy the privacy of his own home.”
I thrust my finger toward him. “You’d better not try any funny business.”
He rubs his palms together. “This is homework, Carolina. Get your virginal mind out of the gutter.”


My last class of the day is AP English.
It’s also Rex’s.
This gives him the opportunity to stalk me out of class, to my locker, and out to the parking lot while I ignore him.
Classmates call out his name, give him head nods, and say hi as we pass them. Interest floods their faces when their eyes cut to me. It’s not that I’m the class weirdo—although, as I learned today, I apparently have a stick up my ass.
High school kids are so original.
I’m more along the lines of the class do-gooder who aces every test and spends her free time volunteering.
Oh, and I’m also the preacher’s daughter.
Rex definitely isn’t preacher’s daughter’s friend material.
Hell, he doesn’t even fit into his role of the mayor’s son.
“Where’s your car?” he asks, strolling next to me and scanning the parking lot.
I look away, embarrassment striking me. “I don’t have one.”
My parents gave me the option of waiting until my sister graduated and passing her car down to me or buying one myself. Considering my cash flow is zilch, waiting for hers it is.
A whiff of fresh soap and citrus hits me when he slings his arm over my shoulders.
“You ride the bus?”
I shift out of his hold. “I ride with my sister.”
“Tell her you don’t need a ride today.” He returns his arm to my shoulders and spins us toward the opposite side of the parking lot. “Today is your lucky day, sweetheart. You get to ride with me.”
“Hard pass.” Surprisingly, I don’t shove him away while he leads me to a newer model black Dodge Challenger.
“Come on, Lina. It’d be pretty selfish to have your sister drive you when you could ride with me.”
“Don’t call me that,” I grumble.
His arm falls, and he ups his pace to turn around and stare at me, walking backward. “What?”
“Lina. No one calls me that.” I immediately regret telling him this.
He rubs his thumb over his bottom lip. “I’m for fucking sure calling you Lina now. It’ll be our thing, babe.”
“Ugh, and don’t call me babe either.”
“Lina babe, when you tell me not to do something, it only makes me want to do it more.”
“Then, it’s only fair for me to give you a nickname.” I tap my finger against the side of my mouth. “I’m going with … Needle Dick.” There’s no stopping my lips from cracking into a smile.
He points at the car. “Get your ridiculous nickname-giving ass into my car and stop insulting my dick before I really do show you.”
“You’ve already proven you’re too chicken in the hallway.”
“Of course, I can’t pull my dick out at school. My parents would kill me if I got caught showing off my cock like I was at the school’s talent show.”
I snort. “That would require you to have talent.”
He smirks. “Oh, babe, I have plenty of talents. My first trick will be to show you how to pull that stick out of your ass.”
“So I can stick it up yours?”
“I like this little attitude of yours. It’s hot.”
He digs out his keys from the pocket of his jeans and unlocks the car. I hop into the passenger seat with no argument. He’s right. Not only would my sister bitch on the entire drive to Rex’s, but she’d also charge me gas money for having to go out of her way.
I settle into the leather seat while Rex pulls out of the parking lot. He thrums his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of a Snoop Dogg song. I use this chance to take in everything that is him.
What’s fascinating about Rex is, he’s not your typical popular guy—the ones you see in movies and read about in books. He’s not the star athlete or the prom king or the school’s notorious bad boy. His personality is what draws people to him. He’s fun, cocky, and laid-back. Everyone either wants to be his friend or his girlfriend.
That is, everyone except yours truly.
I don’t need that kind of distraction in my life.
Rex is also crazy smart. He spends most of his time in the computer programming lab and has even been called into the school office to fix technical issues. Rumor has it, he’s also hacked into the system before.
He’s tall, at least six feet, and he towered over my small frame when we walked through the parking lot. He might not play sports, but he’s more toned than our quarterback. His hair is a coppery-brown and cut short. Two dimples pop out of his cheeks when he smiles, and the asymmetry of his face is flawless.
He’s also rich. I’m reminded of this when he pulls into the driveway of his mansion of a home. It’s the biggest in their neighborhood, and it has a giant yard and impeccable landscaping. The Lane family is considered the most affluent in our small town of Blue Beech, Iowa.
Rex shifts the car into park and steals my attention from the home when he clears his throat. “That sure was a fun ride. I’ve never been checked out by a preacher’s daughter before.”
My eyes widen.
Oh dear God.
Was I that obvious?
“That’s it. Take me home,” I demand. “I don’t check out guys. I was simply observing the guy I’m going to be stuck with for the next few hours.”
“Too late. We have a paper to write, Lina babe.”
He kills the engine to the car, circles it, and opens my door as I’m debating my next move.
Go in or leave.
I smack away his waiting hand, and he moves out of the way. With a scoff, I follow him into the house. As soon as we make it through the front door, he captures my hand in his, and I nearly fall on my face when he starts pulling me up the stairs.
“My bedroom is up here,” he says.
I jerk back, causing him to stop. “I’m not going into your bedroom.”
He glances back at me, blinking. “Yes, you are.”
“No, I’m—”
I’m cut off when he grabs my hand again, tightening his grip, and stupidly, I don’t fight him this time. He steers us down a long hallway and into a bedroom.
It’s a spacious room, larger than my parents’ master, and surprisingly clean. Three of the walls are painted a dark red, and the other is black. Against the black wall is a sleek metal bed with a black comforter on top. It’s different than any guy’s room I’ve seen before.
Granted, I normally don’t hang out in guys’ bedrooms.
There’s a mini fridge in the corner, a massive desk with three monitors on top, and a TV above a black console. A collection of gaming devices and games clutter the stand.
I lose his hold when he shuts the door behind us.
“Seriously?” I snap, crossing my arms. “You have no boundaries.”
He grins, showing off his bright white teeth. “My mom said that can be a great trait in life.”
“For who? Serial killers?”
“For guys asking girls to do their homework.”
He walks around me to the mini fridge, opens it, and peeks up at me. “What’s your drink of choice, Lina? Water? Pepsi? Tequila?”
I roll my eyes, pushing my black-rimmed glasses up my nose. “You don’t have tequila in there.” This calling-his-bluff game is fun.
“I beg to differ.” He clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “It’s in a Gatorade bottle, tucked into the very back so no one sees it.”
Yeah, right.
Today, I’m feeling gutsy.
“Give me a tequila shot then.”
He squints in my direction. “You’re fucking with me.”
I shake my head. “I’ll need it to get through an afternoon of hanging out with you.”
He grins, pushing his arm into the fridge, and pulls out a bottle.
Maybe calling his bluff wasn’t the smartest idea.
We’re not at school where he can be expelled for doing something like this.
We’re in his bedroom.
I gulp when I see the bottle, focusing on the amber-tinted liquid inside that’s most definitely not Gatorade.
Way to call his bluff, Carolina.
Now, he’s calling yours.
Time to gear up and taste tequila for the first time.
The room is quiet as he stands. His eyes are fastened on me while he slowly unscrews the orange cap and holds the bottle out to me.
I’ll be damned if I let him win this … game? Whatever it is.
Nausea cartwheels in my stomach, and I haven’t even taken a drink. Lord knows how it’ll feel after I do. I inhale a deep, determined breath.
I got this.
I’ve never drunk tequila, but I’ve had wine.
It can’t be that different, right?
Deciding it’s done doing gymnastics, my stomach tightens, as if it’s preparing itself, when I snatch the bottle from him. I grip it and drag it to my lips. Right before I do anything drastic, my back stiffens, and I frown at the same time.
“How many people have taken a drink from this bottle?” I question. “I’m not about to contract some STD.”
He chuckles, signaling to the bottle. “The only person who’s drunk from that bottle is me.” He pauses, snaps his fingers, and points at me. “And you, in a minute.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “You better not be lying.”
His hands go to his chest, feigning offense. “Lina, my sweet Lina, I’m heartbroken you don’t trust me.”
I gulp again.
Here goes nothing.
I can do this.
Before I chicken out, I take a quick swig of the tequila. My eyes slam shut, blocking me from witnessing his reaction, and my teeth clench as I swallow down the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted. There’s no stopping my body from shuddering. I hold in a deep breath out of fear of puking it up.
When I open my eyes, I immediately roll them.
A huge grin is spread across Rex’s shocked face.
He whistles and leans back on his heels. “Damn, Lina. Either you have a secret wild side, which I’d fucking love, or I’m bringing it out of you, which I’d also fucking love.”
I shrug. “You’ll never know.”
I inhale a deep breath, dragging up as much nerve as I can, and take another sip to prove myself. My throat burns as if it were on fire, and I smile with pride as soon as I swallow it down.
“It’s your turn, Needle Dick.” I extend the bottle back to him.
“Look at me, corrupting you.” He grabs it, cheers me, and takes a gulp. “I can’t wait to do it more.”
Little do I know, walking into Rex’s bedroom will change everything.
Rex Lane will take over my life.
He’ll steal my heart.
I’ll steal his.
Only we won’t know what to do with what we’ve taken.

Just Friends
©Charity Ferrell


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Charity resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. She grew up riding her bicycle to the town’s public library, and reading anything she could get her hands on. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, spending time with her family, or caving into her online shopping addiction.


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Blog Tour - 2020, Excerpt/Teaser Share, New Releases

Blog Tour – The Day He Went Away by Jennifer Millikin


Today we are celebrating the re-launch of a contemporary romance title by Jennifer Millikin by participating in the blog tour. THE DAY HE WENT AWAY is a standalone novel, and you can read it for FREE in Kindle Unlimited. Follow Jennifer for exclusive updates and news about her titles.

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The Day He Went Away by Jennifer Millikin

Contemporary Romance

Read it for FREE in Kindle Unlimited: https://amzn.to/37kVwLZ

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Book Blurb:

Life was roses.

I was happy. I had my dream job. I’d finally fallen in love with the man who’d been waiting for me since he was a boy. Soon his four years in the Army would be over, and we’d be together forever. My perfect life was squarely in my palm.

And then it was snatched from me.

The harshest, cruelest truth became my reality.

And I turned into a shell of my former self.

Then a stranger arrived, wearing Army fatigues and closely cropped dark hair.

Fulfilling a promise to his comrade-in-arms brought him to my front door.

And the focus of his promise, it turned out, was me.

His mission was simple:

Care for me.

Heal me.

Bring me back to life.

But what started out as an uncomplicated mission is quickly turning personal.

He came here to take care of me.

But neither of us expected how much he’d need me, too.

And we definitely didn’t expect these feelings.

My broken heart knows how wrong it is.

We’ll fight it, harder than we’ve ever fought anything.

But I’m afraid to win, and I’m even more terrified to lose.

Of all his missions, I may be his most dangerous.



The airport comes into view, and suddenly, it looks like the enemy. Its goal is to take me away from Kate and send me to a desolate land filled with people who want to do me harm.

“I liked this place a whole lot more when I was here ten days ago.” My dislike grows as Kate takes the ramp up to the Terminal Four parking garage.

Kate’s voice is soft. “Me too.”

She finds a spot on the fifth level and parks. Neither of us make a move.

“I don’t want to get out.” I stare out past the half wall of concrete at the mountain range in front of us. It looks too much like the place I’m headed.

“So don’t.” There’s challenge in her voice.

We both ignore her statement. Being AWOL is the last thing we need.

Just ten months. If anybody can do it, Kate can. She’s strong and loyal. Kate can Master it.

I turn my gaze from the mountains to her beautiful face. “This has been the best trip. Way better than all my other trips home, combined.” I tug gently on the ponytail hanging over her shoulder.

“That’s only because I let you kiss me this time.” She tries to smile, but it doesn’t develop into a real grin.

“That certainly had something to do with it.” I hope my joke disguises how bleak I feel.

I listen to her laugh, work it into my memory, even though I already know all her laughs by heart. I’m adding this exact moment to my memory bank, cataloguing the view of the brown mountains, coupled with the smell of Kate’s sweet scented lotion and the feel of the cool air as it flows from the air conditioning.

How am I supposed to say goodbye to her? She’s taken me to the airport plenty of other times, and our goodbyes were always sad then, too, but this one is different.

“How do we do this, Ethan?” Kate’s on my wave-length, as usual.

I think for a minute, then say, “I have a plan.”

Kate loves plans. She likes parameters she can exist within.

“I’m going to get my bag out of your trunk, and leave it next to your car. After that I’m going to get back in my seat, kiss you, whisper a few sweet nothings in your ear, and say goodbye. Then I’ll pick up my bag and walk inside.” I raise my eyebrows at her, silently asking if she agrees.

She nods and looks relieved.

I do exactly what I said I would do. She pops open the trunk and watches in the rearview mirror as I remove my duffel and set it up against the side of the car. Then I get back in and sink into the seat with an audible thud.

“So.” I turn to her, but I stop talking when I see her face. Her features are taut as she tries to hold herself together.

“Please don’t cry, Katie.”

“I’m not crying.”


I don’t argue. Instead, I reach for her face, gently cupping her cheeks in my hands.

“I’ll be back before you know it. Ten months, that’s it. Then it’s game on. Me and you.” My voice rings with conviction.

Tears slip down her face, and I have to fight my own urge to cry. Kate needs another plan.

“Let’s take a vacation when I get back. We can spend some time alone together. No distractions. We could go to Mexico? Or maybe Park City? It’ll be winter when I get back.”

Kate looks at me, a little pout pulling on her lower lip. “I know what you’re doing. It’s working.”

I kiss her with a passion that consumes me. The fire in me fills her, the car, the whole damn airport. Every part of me is aflame as I kiss her. All the while, I silently pray it won’t be the last time. And if it is… I’ve taken measures to make sure she’s cared for.

She’s breathless when I pull away. My mouth drifts over her cheek and to her ear. “Wait for me. I’ll come for you.” Tears sting my eyes.

“Stay,” she murmurs.

If only I could.

“We’ll get through this, and then it’s me and you, forever. I love you.” I’m trying to be strong, but a tear sneaks out and rolls down my cheek.

“I love you, Ethan.”

“The time will fly by, and I’ll be home soon. I love you,” I say it again, because oh my God, I finally can.

“I love you, too.” Her trickle of tears is now a gush.

I kiss her one more time and get out of the car. I swing the duffel over my shoulder and walk. Each step moves me farther away from her, and closer to the danger awaiting me.

I don’t look back. My situation has been decided, chosen by me three years ago. I knew what I was signing up for. I have a duty to uphold. I’m nothing if not loyal.




Jennifer Millikin is a contemporary fiction author of five full-length novels and a contributor for Scottsdale Moms Blog. When she isn’t writing she can be found cooking, hiking, or in downward dog.


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