Thursday, October 24, 2013
Leave No Book Behind: [New Post} Blog Tour/Giveaway- Chasing Serenity By...: Title: Chasing Serenity Series: Seeking Serenity series, Book #1 Author: Eden Butler Genre: NA Contemporary Romanc...
Title: Chasing Serenity
Series: Seeking Serenity series, Book #1
Author: Eden Butler
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 11, 2013
Cover Designed by: Steven Novak: http://www.novakillustration.com/
Cover Reveal Organized by: As the Pages Turn
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FUQ6580
Book Blurb: Graduate student Autumn McShane has had her share of heartbreak. She’s been abandoned and betrayed and she lost her beloved mother in a tragic car accident five months ago. That loss damaged her body and fractured her spirit but she’s learning to recover, until her ex-boyfriend returns to town, intent on making her life miserable.
Declan Fraser hates her ex as much as Autumn does, but the last thing she needs is to put her trust in the hands of another man, especially one like Declan: his hard body and lulling Irish accent makes more than few girls weak-kneed. The talented rugby player is rude and sarcastic, with tattooed, muscular arms and a cocky attitude, but he's the only one who can help Autumn win an ill-advised bet that, if lost, could cost her more than she's willing to pay. The reluctant alliance between Declan and Autumn stirs up cravings she doesn't want to admit, but Declan is a hard man to resist.
Just when Autumn starts letting down her carefully constructed walls to the sexy bad boy, he betrays her when she needs him most. Autumn suspects Declan has secrets, and she is determined to uncover what drove him away from her, even if that means fraternizing with the enemy. But will the truth return Declan to her arms or add to the scars on her heart?
Basement Excerpt I:
“What do you play?” I ask and he stops for a moment, notices me staring at his hands.
“Wing. Well, normally I’m wing. Tucker’s convinced Mullens to set me as scrumhalf.”
“Ah, so that explains it.”
“Why you hate Tucker.” He doesn’t respond, just returns to the bookshelf to grab another box and my gaze follows him, takes in the rigid set of his shoulders. “He’ll be gone at the end of the season, you know.”
“Hmm. If I’m lucky,” he says.
“Mullens is a good coach. I’ve known him forever and he’s friends with Ava.” A wrinkle forms between Declan’s eyebrows. “Dr. Winchell.”
“Thick as thieves with the president, aren’t you?”
“No. Well, yes, but it’s not what you think. She was my mom’s best friend. They’d known each other since college.”
He opens his mouth as though he wants to say something, but then just nods before he clears his throat. “Sayo mentioned it was a car crash?” When my eyes narrow, he shakes his head as though I shouldn’t be angry. “That was after she and the other two barked at me forever. Told me what an arse I was, how rude I was, how you didn’t deserve to be disrespected.” I relax and he continues. “You were hurt?”
“Yes.” My hands shake, tremble as they rest on the box in front of me and I can see myself bloody and still in the car, remembering the pain, the suffocating feeling of my mother’s loss. A breath tamps down the burn of tears in my eyes. “Three broken ribs, a completely busted up leg, and a lacerated abdomen. I had more scrapes and bruises than even you’ve probably had.”
“I’ve had many. Loads of scars as well.”
I don’t know what possesses me to do it, perhaps some subconscious need to prove how tough I am, that I’m not some sniggering girly girl, but I lift up the side of my shirt and show Declan the top of my incision from the surgery. It’s a horrid, long line still pink that runs from my hip to just below my bellybutton.
“A steel rod from the truck that hit us pinned me to the seat. Seven hour surgery.” Declan winces. The scar had faded and the doctors told me that over time it would continue to diminish, but it would never disappear completely. Five months on and it’s still quite disgusting.
Seemingly without thinking about it, Declan reaches down and rubs his thumb against my scar and at his touch, my stomach flips. I know he can see the light hairs on my stomach stand on end and how my skin covers in goose bumps. He looks at my face again and once more his eyes linger too long in my eyes, then down to my lips. But then he breaks contact and unbuttons his shirt.
“I’ve got a few nasty ones as well. See this?” He lifts his undershirt back over his left shoulder and I nod, curious of his point, his intentions. “Rory McDonald pushed me straight through the rusty, broken uprights when I was fifteen. Twenty-nine stiches that ached like a bugger. And here,” he lowers his shirt then pulls up the hem to show me a smooth gash just below his bellybutton. “Mickey Douglas forgot to ditch his watch during a practice match when I was eighteen. Fecking thing nearly ripped me in half when he lined me up and smashed me as I went for a try-scoring pass.” The scar is faint, barely noticeable and doesn’t register really as I am distracted by muscles so taut that I can see the lines across his stomach. There is a long trail of black hair below his navel that disappears beneath his belt and I can’t help the wild dip of my stomach as I watch his bare skin.
“That’s um, yeah.” I swallow against the dryness in my mouth and Declan steps closer, his shirt still raised. Again I feel him watching me, and I don’t realize how close we are standing until he drops his shirt. There is no smile on his face, no condescending little grin that tells me he thinks I’m an idiot.
I don’t react when Declan reaches for my face or when his hand cups my cheek. The tips of his fingers are smooth, not like the rough callouses on the tops and palms of his hands. I’m about to speak, say something glib, sarcastic, but just then Declan rubs his thumb across my bottom lip, a mimic of what I’d done to him Thursday night on the sidewalk. I can only manage to watch his head lower until his lips are at my ear. When he whispers, his voice is low, a soft rasp that nears a growl and instantly makes my body ache.
“Like what you see, love?”
He steps back and the crackle present in the air, the one I’d forced the other night, returns, collects into the stillness of the basement. The seconds stretch, he moves forward, and the only sound I can hear is the low hum of the lights overhead and my own heartbeat thumping in my ears.
“Yes….um, no…it’s not like that.”
Excerpt II: Fubar’s
She leaves me standing alone on the dance floor, but I don’t mind. The air from the vents is cool on my hot skin and all around me are willing, completely unfamiliar strangers who handle me this way and that, take turns grinding against me. I stumble once, then recover by skidding away from my random friends and am nearly to the bar when a large hand grabs me, pulls me close to his thick chest.
Declan’s body is solid against mine and that masculine, outdoorsy smell of his wafts into my nose, makes my stomach twist pleasantly. I start to pull away, my anger at him a bit stronger than my buzz, but he stops me, wraps his large hands on my waist.
“Be nice,” he says and nuzzles my neck.
That rational part of my brain that tells me to walk away, to get as far from this caveman as possible, seems to be sleeping. I’m too focused on the way he feels, how tight he holds me, how his breath warms my neck as he pulls me against him. I don’t care about the blonde he just left, don’t mind that his hands are on my waist, that I can feel the strong contours of his chest as we keep a slow, close rhythm.
But I can’t take the heat in his eyes, how dark they’ve become, how intensely his gaze eats away at my features. I turn, my back to his chest, my head rests on his shoulder and Declan settles his hands around my hips, guides me as we dance. The sputtering of my heart is fast. My head rolls to the side and his bourbon and beer mixed breath fans over my face. My body responds to the way he feels against me, how his hands slide up my arms, my hips, how warm his breath feels on my skin. When his arms tighten around my waist and he kisses my neck, I lift my head to the side and watch him.
“What are you doing?”
“Can’t you tell?”
“This is more of that too much friendliness behavior we talked about.”
He moves me to face him, holds my cheeks in his hands. His pupils are wide, the green in his irises shining bright and I’m sure he’s likely as drunk as I am. But he smells sweet, he feels sweeter and I forget to care about our drunkenness or that he pissed me off earlier.
“I’m not your fecking friend, McShane.” And then his mouth covers mine, searing, certain. This isn’t like the simple peck that he gave me last night. It’s firmer, more severe and heated than even our first kisses in the basement. His kiss is deep and long and when I try to pull back, afraid his tongue will make an appearance, the pressure on my face increases. He breaks away from me, but his arm curls tight around my body, at the curve of my lower back. Through the haze of drunkenness and that left-unfilled pulse against my clit, I forget my earlier declarations, ignore the fact that he isn’t right for me or that I’m being irresponsible. I kiss him back, let my tongue slide across his bottom lip. His low growl vibrates against his throat, makes my stomach flutter and I’m instantly caught up in the need and want of him. Declan moves back, kisses my neck again, lets his mouth leave cool tracks of moisture in its wake and then he whispers in my ear. “Come with me.”
Drunk and swaying, I follow Declan to the back of the bar. There are couches and chaises in a semi-circle and a row of plush chairs pushed back against the wall. We never make it to any of them. It is late, the crowd has thinned and Declan finds a small, dark alcove illuminated only by the slight red light of the exit sign. He pulls on my hand, pushes me against the wall and spends five full seconds staring at me, no smile quirking his lips, as though he’s giving me an out. When I pull my bottom lip under my teeth, Declan’s nostrils flare and his hands cradle my face, his mouth returns to mine.
His tongue slips between my lips, so simple, so effortless, as though that is where it was always meant to be and I moan as he cups my ass. He pauses, a wicked smirk on his face. “Not going to knee me again, are you?”
A quick smile twists across my lips before I grab his hand and lead it back onto my body. “Do it again.”
We become a flurry of motions. He lifts me up, grip tight on the backs of my thighs. I pull on his hair, yank his head back to expose his neck, nibble on the skin and by the shake of his body, by how tight his grip is on me, how thick he feels against me, I know that Declan is as desperate for more as I am.
He stops as though he’s fighting for control and then his eyes are searching mine. He worries his bottom lip. “My God, I’m dying here.” He moves in close to breathe against my neck, his mouth just near the shell of my ear. “I want to be inside you,” he whispers, then rests his head on my shoulder, his breathing a hard pant. “But I’m drunk. You’re drunk.”
Whatever I thought I might say becomes a blur. I want to continue, I want him back at my apartment, in my bed, but my head spins and the lights and sounds around me twist my stomach into knots. I push him back, make him stop and he gives me little resistance.
“Shite, don’t get mad, McShane—”
I grab his collar and close my eyes. “Shut up, Declan. I’m not mad. I’m just…I’m going to be sick.”
Excerpt III: Bathroom Scene
I run the tap and splash water on my nape not really paying attention as the door swings open. When I return to the mirror, Declan stands behind me.
“I really don’t have time for this.”
“No, you don’t. Uppity bollocks is waiting for you.” The heat from his chest warms me, settles into a hum that shoots straight to my stomach. He watches my reflection, eyes down cast, cool. I don’t like that expression or how his indifference seems to be forced.
“What happened to not reliving the past, McShane?”
I wad up the paper towel and toss it in the trash, glaring when Declan traps me against the wall. “Please leave me alone.” He doesn’t speak. When I move to the right, he follows, arm stretching out to stop me. His fingers trace the high arch of my cheekbone, down my chin to rest at my bottom lip.
“You can’t go with him.”
“Why the hell not?”
Declan’s forehead rests against mine. He’s so close that I can see his throat working, the pulse speeding on his neck. When he doesn’t answer, I push him away, intend to leave, but his hand slams the door closed. The lock clicking sounds against the cold tile floor.
The wall against my back is cold, uncomfortable, and I grope for the lock, eager to escape the imposing way Declan watches me, absorbs my features. When I touch the door, he reaches out, one arm on each side of my head. “He’s not the one, love. You know that. Deep in your gut, you know it isn’t Tucker.”
“Then who is it?” I can’t help saying. “It’s not you. You’ve told me that a thousand times. This…thing, this whatever we had, is over.” He starts to argue, but I stop him with a quick shake of my head. “No, Declan. It was your choice.” I want to know, God how I want a plausible excuse for his rejection. Was everything I felt between us a lie? Was I misguided in thinking every touch, every kiss was forced, not at all real? His collar is stiff with starch when I curl it in my hands. I inch my fingers up to rub against his bottom lip and notice his chin shake, the quick blink of his eyelids.
There is a moist gleam in his green irises that I know comes from more than just the beer he drank. “I wanted you so badly. I still—” when my eyes slam shut, Declan inches forward, his fingers fanning down my neck. I stretch, pull back from his touch, but he’s so close, his breath a warm hint over my collar. “You rejected me. I’m not going to play games with you anymore.” “I can’t…if you knew—” There it is again. The long withheld mystery that he can’t talk about. His “not a wife, not a family, not dying” secret that isn’t his to tell. I won’t let him keep doing this to me. “Help me understand then.” An inhale against my shoulder as he rests there and the tremors in his hands, his shoulders move me back into the wall. “You don’t know how hard this is for me.” His hair brushes my cheek when he raises back up. “I want you. God, do I want you.”
“Declan. Please. You have a girlfriend. You shouldn’t say things like that when you have Heather.”
“How do you know about her?” he asks, refusing to budge when I push on his chest.
“Was I not supposed to find out? She threatened me to stay away from you.”
Declan rubs his shoulder and I instantly miss the heat from his chest. The break is momentary. He adjusts his stance, returns his hand to the side of my face. “We’re not together. I don’t want her, Autumn.”
I try to leave again, but his grip is unyielding and my efforts to walk away are weak at best. I could leave. I could easily slip from him and he’d likely let me go. But his eyes have me locked, frozen to my spot. His gaze goes everywhere; on my mouth, staring, as if he wants whatever mad things he’s thinking to break free from his mind. But I’m not a mind reader and I can’t do this. Not anymore.
“Tucker’s waiting for me.”
“No.” He slaps his palm against the wall next to my head and leaves his hand there. “Don’t leave.”
I stare at the sharp point of his nose, the small frown that parts his mouth, anywhere but in those brilliant green eyes. When he doesn’t budge, the anger bubbles again. I am frustrated and eager for him to understand how much he has hurt me. Tucker hasn’t tried touching me, not since that first date weeks ago, but Declan doesn’t know that. To his eyes, we are together. That unsettles him. I won’t tell him the truth; it’s a commodity that we both use in this push and pull game. I’m not stupid. I know whatever Tucker is holding over Declan is the reason he walked away from me. Still, I want Declan to hurt, to suffer like I have, to understand what it feels like when I think of him with Heather. It’s a small lie, but cruel enough to make Declan’s heart quake, an echo of the pain he’s caused me.
“I’m going with him, Declan. I’m going out with Tucker. I’m going to have dinner with him. I’m going to dance with him. I’m going to let him hold me.” His eyes flash and he pulls his hand away from me. “And when the night is over, I’m going to let him kiss me, let him touch me if he wants. I’m going to do all of that because he wants me and he isn’t afraid to show me how much he wants me. Because he isn’t a coward.”
Declan slams his fist against the wall and I don’t even flinch. I knew it was coming. I take a step away from him and he reacts instantly. His hand on my arm, pulling, my shoulders back against the wall, his voice angry, deep. “Does he touch you like I do?” He presses against me hard and I close my eyes, inhaling to settle my pounding heart, to ignore the way my body aches, how everything in me tells me to hold tight to him. “Does he kiss you like I do?” Declan doesn’t wait for an answer. He takes my face again and kisses me. His tongue slips into my mouth, and I let myself enjoy the feel of him against me, the sound of his moans vibrating in his throat. He won’t give me space, even as I angle my face away from him. His body is firm over mine and in that moment, I hate him. I hate the way his arms cage me to the wall. I hate how my heart races, how my body throbs with his scent, with the taste of him. When I close my eyes again, another attempt to block out all the sensations he raises in me, Declan grabs my chin. “Look at me,” he says, his voice firm, even lower than moments ago. “Fecking look at me, Autumn,” he whispers.