05 September 2014

Branded Tour Stop!

Some choices are simple, some are hard, and some leave a brand.

One unforgettable night at a masquerade changes it all.

Mogul Nik Strand is all too familiar with the curve balls life likes to throw. Believing his soul can never be restored, he covers his pain and heartbreak with money. The more the better—as his heart is nothing but ice. 

Aimee Taylor makes a decision that will haunt her forever. Unfortunately life doesn’t come with a do over; therefore, she makes the best out of what she has.

An unforeseen circumstance brings these two together again, even though, neither can explain how or why the other seems so familiar. As love tries to heal this wounded couple, a common adversary seeks to destroy. 

Please note: This book has strong language, violence, and sexual content. Not intended for readers under the age of 18.
This was the perfect first book in a series.  It introduces the world of the Strand Brothers with Nik, who had a deep and penetrating back story.  After losing his family in an accident, he uses his success to cover his heartache and longing.  He has effectively closed off his heart to everyone.  Aimee is an escort, just doing what she can to make her way in the world.  When fate intervenes and Nik saves her from her abusive boyfriend, their chemistry can’t be denied.  But past choices will come back to haunt them both and an unseen enemy will test their fragile relationship.  Can they make it and help each other heal, or is the past too great to overcome?
I loved the setup of this story.  It’s told through a converging timeline and starts at a masquerade ball 5 years before. It’s the first time we meet Nik and Aimee, and they meet each other.  They connect even then but leave the evening without knowing who the other is.  It was such a great introduction to the book and it totally sucked me in.  It was so mysterious, and one of the things I love about this genre.  It takes things that can be common and turns them into special moments that begin something greater than anyone ever expected.
Nik was awesome too.  Alpha male that carries around guilt like an albatross around his neck, he thinks he doesn’t deserve or want love.  The author really did the alpha male justice with Nik.  He loves deep but is so closed off, he’s a great character to dig into and learn more about. Plus I really liked how he was the one that had to be convinced to see where things could go with Aimee.  That was a nice twist, for the man to be the reluctant one!
Overall, I thought this was a great and heartwarming story.  The suspense part of the story didn’t turn out to be as deep as I thought it could have been, but it’s still a fun and fast read that I think you will like!   4 stars!
I really enjoyed this book; it was full of twist and turns, full of suspense and drama keeping me guessing as to what is going to happen.  The author took people who have a past with each other but it doesn’t become clear till the author unfolds those facts throughout the story. 
Aimee needed money to pay for her father’s medical bills and student loans quickly so she applies for an escort job.  At a masquerade ball she tries out for the job and gains the attention of many men till one demands her time.  Dancing their way off to solitude she gives herself to him while wearing the masks and at the end parted ways like a modern day Cinderella story.  Years later she finds that this job has secured her life and she is in the company of Nik, a man who has his own demons that shadow his world.
Nik lost so much in his life and he carries the guilt and conviction of that event with him.  It affects every choice he makes but there is something about Aimee that he feels he needs to protect and protect he did.  When the feelings become similar for her to what he felt back when he was younger he is going to have to decide to let go of her or the guilt that has become the air he breathes. 
With outside forces threatening to tear Aimee away from Nik, Aimee is struggling with trying to live up to a ghost in Nik’s life and has her own choices to make.  Will she leave Nik before the threat to her is taken care of or will Nik be able to save her from what could be the most dangerous situation she has faced? 
I really love how the author surprises us with the connections between the characters and we are able to feel the shock and surprise when they find out the truth.  The writing style was smooth and made reading enjoyable and the characters were thrilling and addicting.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys some suspense, love and forgiveness.  I will be looking for more work from this author.  
As we perused the menu, Nik commented, “I hope you don’t mind this café instead of the hospital cafeteria.” He made a face like he’d just tasted something vile. Couldn’t say I blamed him. No one ever enjoyed hospital food. Blech! I grinned, “No. I don’t mind, at all.”

His lips turned up slightly. Never had he graced me with an actual smile that reached his eyes. He’d come close, and that had been heart pounding. Will I ever see his amazing lips in a megawatt smile? The thought made me squirm, because I knew it’d be panty dropping. Oh my. I fanned myself mentally. He held my gaze—no doubt, trying to figure out what I was thinking. “Penny for your thoughts?” he purred.

Holy crap! Surely he didn’t know. “Um…just trying to make a selection,” I replied.

He shot me a knowing look. Ah, hell. “Riiiight. You only had food on your mind.” Not like I was going to claim my indecent musings. “Yes.” I asked innocently, “Was there something else I’m supposed to be considering?”

He nodded and half-smiled—good heavens, that mouth! “If that’s the way you wanna play this, Aimee.”

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect when our server asked, “What can I get for you?”

I looked up at her. “I’ll have the Spanish omelet and a cup of coffee, please.”
She turned her attention to Nik. When he glanced up at her, she blinked rapidly. Her lips parted as her breathing increased. Good, at least it’s not just me he has that effect on. The man was handsome personified—by no means an actor or model attractive, more like rugged and untamed and a wild kind of good-looking. That did things to a woman. He answered, “I’ll have the same but with a short stack of pancakes on the side. Coffee as well, thank you.”

She paused a moment too long and then turned to leave. I shook my head at him. “You have no idea, do you?”

His brows rose. “’Bout what, exactly?”

I grinned wryly. “Your effect on women.”

He actually looked astonished. “Come again.” “Please! You can’t be that oblivious.”

He steepled his fingers in front of his mouth and admitted, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Why was that so hot?! He wore humility well, and damn, if it wasn’t a huge turn on. My mouth was suddenly dry. I wanted him. And I had no clue how to make that happen. I knew he was attracted to me. No one could ignore the awareness that arced between us; even now it was a force to be reckoned with. I decided honesty was best. “You’re a very attractive man, Nik. There’s not a woman in here that hasn’t checked you out.”

His eyes conveyed his bewilderment. “Really?” He shrugged. “Can’t say I’ve ever noticed.”
Lora is a Missouri native who relocated to California as a teen. She spent several years as an international flight attendant for a major airline, before taking on her greatest job ever, a stay-at-home mom. Now she resides in Kentucky with her family, and has taken on her newest adventure, writing.



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