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Scratch by Rhonda Helms

Publisher: Kensington

Publication Date: September 30th 2014

Genres: New Adult, Romance

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unnamedSynopsis:

The most painful scars are the ones you never see.

In her DJ booth at a Cleveland dance club, Casey feels a sense of connection that’s the closest she ever gets to normal. On her college campus, she’s reserved, practical–all too aware of the disaster that can result when you trust the wrong person. But inexplicably, Daniel refuses to pay attention to the walls she’s put up. Like Casey, he’s a senior. In every other way, he’s her opposite.

Sexy, open, effortlessly charming, Daniel is willing to take chances and show his feelings. For some reason Casey can’t fathom, he’s intent on drawing her out of her bubble and back into a world that’s messy and unpredictable. He doesn’t know about the deep scars that pucker her stomach–or the deeper secret behind them. Since the violent night when everything changed, Casey has never let anyone get close enough to hurt her again. Now, she might be tempted to try.

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Excerpt:

“I can’t possibly eat one more bite of potato salad. Oh my God.” Daniel moaned and lay back on the blanket, cupping his hands over his still-flat belly, despite his grumbles. “I’m so full, my pants are literally going to explode off of me.”

“As my English prof would point out, you mean figuratively,” I said in a prim tone. “If your pants literally exploded, we’d be in a world of legal trouble, since this is a public park. And as punishment for your grammar error, I’m making you eat the rest of this potato salad.” I scooped a heaping spoonful out of our bowl and shoved it toward his face.

He sat up and mock glared at me. Dappled sunlight from the setting sun spilled across the dark mop of his head, hit his deep green irises. Before I could react, he grabbed the spoon and flung it, loaded potato salad and all, across the park. “Oh, crap. Sorry, it slipped.”

“Litterer!” I cried out, looking around like I was seeking a police officer. Not that there was anyone else around us except for a couple of young kids playing on the swing set nearby.sdfgaergrgtaer ag

Daniel tackled me to the ground and dug his fingers against my right side, where I was super-ticklish. “Narc!” he said, laughing hysterically.

“You jerk!” I swatted up at him and scrambled to get away. I stood and wiped the bottom of my shorts with a huff. “That was a perfectly good spoon.”

He raised an eyebrow. “I’ll buy you another.”

“It was part of a set.” I tugged my tank top down to make sure my abdomen was covered. Thankfully, Daniel had stayed away from my scarred side.

“I’ll buy you six, then.”

“You have an answer for everything, don’t you.” I chuckled.

He stood, peering down at me. His eyes were light and dancing, and my heart hadn’t felt this light in a couple of days— not since my moodiness back in the library. His hand slid along my unscarred side again, but instead of torture-tickling me, his fingers slipped and danced over my tank top. The warmth of his touch still seared me, despite the barrier.

“Not everything,” he murmured, his attention turning to my mouth. His fingers tightened incrementally on my hip. Something shifted then, sexual tension crackling in the air between us.

I automatically licked my lips, and his eyes flared. I stepped closer. I needed to taste his mouth, right now.

“Oooooooooh!” a high-pitched kid’s voice said from behind me. “They’re gonna kiss!”

I closed my eyes as a light flush stole over my cheeks.

Daniel’s mouth hovered close enough to me that I could feel his breath huffing against my skin. “I need to kiss you,” he said, and the raw edge in his tone had my eyes flying open.

Yes, the need was right there, unmasked, unashamed, completely bared to me. I felt my body respond, my core tightening, heart thudding, hands trembling.

I nodded, leaned my face up. My mouth already hungered for his.

He brushed his mouth against mine, a butterfly touch that didn’t satisfy the growing pulse in me. “Not here,” he said, his words barely a whisper. “I want you alone.”

Alone. The ache I heard in that one word sent shivers of anticipation across my skin. My flesh burst into thousands of vibrant tingles. I gave a mute nod. I wanted it too.

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Interview with Rhonda Helms:

Music is a strong running element in SCRATCH, which even includes a playlist at the end. How has music factored in your own life?

I started in music when I was 9—I played clarinet. Stayed involved in band through high school and college. I sang in a jazz ensemble, was a singer in a cover band, and I even DJ’d for a while. In short, music was a huge part of my life for a long time. I miss performing and have even been considering getting involved in it again!

Where did you get the idea for SCRATCH?

Part of it came from a real-life incident I’d heard that had stuck with me for many years. I always wondered what had happened to the girl who’d gone through such a traumatic event. How did she cope? How did she move on to love and trust again? This book was my exploration of how a woman who’d gone through hell could move forward and find real happiness.

Which scene in SCRATCH was the hardest for you to write?

Oh, it had to be the scene where Casey confesses to Daniel about her past. Finally opens up and divulges the painful truth. I sobbed as I wrote it—her pain was so vivid to me that I couldn’t shake it off for a while afterward. That was actually one of the hardest scenes I’ve ever written in my whole publishing career.

What is the follow-up book to SCRATCH?

The sequel to SCRATCH is BREAK YOUR HEART, which is her roommate Megan’s story. I can’t wait for you guys to read it—this one’s a little sexier, a little scandalous. And Nick is so foxy. ;-) Coming end of July, 2015!

You write young adult novels too—what do you have coming out in teen romance?

Next year I have two teen romances coming out with Simon Pulse—SPARKS IN SCOTLAND, which is a Scotland-set story about a girl who falls for a local Scottish boy while on vacation, and PROMPOSAL, which follows a girl and her best guy friend as they navigate love and drama during prom season. You can go to rhondahelmsbooks.com to find out more about the other teen romances I have out, too!

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dsggfheAbout the author:

Rhonda Helms started writing several years ago and loves writing teen and New Adult romance. She has a Master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She also freelance edits manuscripts.

When she isn’t writing, she likes to do amateur photography, dig her toes into the sand, read for hours at a time, and eat scads of cheese. WAY too much cheese.

Rhonda lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, two kids, a dog and a really loud cat. Visit her website at http://www.rhondahelmsbooks.comfor more information about her and her releases.

Links:

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

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Crow's Row

From Goodreads: For college student Emily Sheppard, the thought of spending a summer alone in New York is much more preferable than spending it in France with her parents. 

Just completing her freshman year at Callister University, Emily faces a quiet summer in the city slums, supporting herself by working at the campus library.During one of her jogs through the nearby cemetery while visiting her brother Bill’s grave, Emily witnesses a brutal killing—and then she blacks out. When Emily regains consciousness, she realizes she’s been kidnapped by a young crime boss and his gang. 

She is hurled into a secret underworld, wondering why she is still alive and for how long.

Held captive in rural Vermont, she tries to make sense of her situation and what it means. While uncovering secrets about her brother and his untimely death, Emily falls in love with her very rich and very dangerous captor, twenty- six-year-old Cameron. She understands it’s a forbidden love and one that won’t allow her to return to her previous life. 

But love may not be enough to save Emily when no one even knows she is missing.

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Hockley has written a truly riveting love story that captivated me from the very beginning! I loved every minute of this novel, even the ending, though it angered me and even made me cry.  Leaving my emotions raw, Hockley has created a very powerful novel, and though the male lead, Cameron, is a crime boss, making tough decisions that occasionally end in the death of someone, he’s hard not to like.

It felt like an entire lifetime passed as I read.  Hockley has really fleshed out her characters, giving the reader a glimpse into their very souls, and I too found myself falling in love with Cameron.  I loved the pacing of the novel, and Hockley’s ability to fit all the pieces of the story together in such a perfect way, though the ending… was like a knife in the gut.

It’s not a mystery novel, but there is much suspense within the pages of Crow’s Row.  Hockley presents different scenarios that made me feel as if the story would go one way, but then it went in an entirely different direction, causing me slight heart attacks as I feared for Emily, for Cameron, for Rocco… I had a lot of pent up fear as I read, sure that something terrible was about to happen.  And it eventually did.  Emily is, afterall, held captive by a crime boss, and though he’s a dreamy, sexy character, he’s also the head of a group of killers.  Bad things are going to happen to some of the characters, and while I think I knew this is the back of my mind, it still shocked me and left me flabbergasted when they did.

There isn’t a happy ending, per se, but it does work perfectly with the novel, though I hate to say it.  The ending just about killed me.  I wasn’t expecting it, and I spent the entire last portion of the novel on pins and needles, screaming and crying because I couldn’t believe the twist the novel took.  This beautiful love story ripped my heart out in the end, but at the same time, it’s worth all the pain.  Upon finishing the novel I felt a hole in my own heart, just like some of the characters, and any author that can make me feel this deeply about fictional characters is one worthy of praise.  Hockley is indeed a literary genius, one to watch, and I am really hoping that there will be a sequel to this novel someday soon.  My heart needs to repair, and I’m dying for things to change. Five stars.

5 stars

Available Now:

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excerpt“I know you don’t believe anything I say, so there’s no point in me trying to defend myself to you anymore, even if it kills me to see you so disgusted with me.

But there’s one thing I do need you to know: I love you Emmy. I’ve loved you for a very long time.”

He turned his eyes to me for the briefest of moments, and I felt a crack in my newly erected armour.

“To have you here with me … I guess in some sick way, for a while, I thought that this could work. Hurting you was the last thing I wanted to do, but it looks like I managed to do that anyway.”

He took another breath. “This place is where I have to be, but it’s not a place where you can or should be. There’s nothing that I can do to change that. I won’t force this life on you.”

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4f337-juliehockleyAbout Julie Hockley:

A former germaphobe and clean-freak turned mother of two, Julie collects enough tears and snot in a month to recreate Slimer Monster from Ghostbusters. Other than playing devoted wife and mama, Julie is the funniest person in the room (according to the 3 year-old and 2 year-old in said room) and can build the most awesome Lego rocket ship you’ve ever set your eyes on (according to her). Oh, and she has a full time career and has also written a bestselling novel. Superhero, or just downright insane?

 

 
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