Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hi everyone,
It's been so long since I blogged! It wasn't that I was in a slump exactly--it was just pure laziness. 🙈

But, I felt an urge to blog today so I thought I'd list some of the bookish things I did this summer.

1. I went to New York!
A view of Downtown Manhattan from Jersey City
Okay, not entirely bookish, but I did take a bunch of bookish pics. Basically, I brought a book with me everywhere I went and took pictures of different sites with it like the picture above. You can see more of my pictures on my YA Instagram account.

2. I finally started reading the ACOTAR series.
A very tiny portion of my ACOTAR series merch collection
Okay, say what you want about this series and its fandom, but holy cow does it have some of the best merch out there. I was buying the merch even before I picked it up. And then once I started reading it, I wanted even more merch. (If you're curious, I rated ACOTAR 3 stars--pretty good start to the series--and I am at the last quarter of ACOMAF, but had to put it down for a while because other books were calling my name.)

3. I defaced a book!
Only my second mandala ever (the first being my practice one) + some of my favorite quotes from TWatD
I came across book defacing videos on YouTube and they looked super fun so I decided to try it out myself. I was especially intrigued by this Youtuber's art where she created these gorgeous mandalas for her books so I thought I'd do the same. I can't draw to save my life so a mandala was the way to go. I ended up defacing one of my all-time favorite books, The Wrath and the Dawn. (Haha, check out my Feysand pouch!)

4. I became obsessed with Giant Days.
The summer of 2017 will be forever associated with Giant Days
I'm fairly new to the adult graphic novel scene. I've read quite a bit of middle grade graphic novels because it's what my students (I'm a school librarian) love to read most and I wanted to have conversations with them about their favorite books, but when it comes to adult graphic novels I mostly just stuck to Saga. That is until I discovered Giant Days and I fell head over heels in love with Esther, Susan, and Daisy. I've read and reread Vols. 1-5 countless times this summer and I'm rabidly anticipating Vol. 6, which won't be out until Oct. 24th 😭

5. I read my first "dubcon" (aka dubious consent) erotica.
This book is not for the faint of heart
If you had a chance to read my review of Torrid by Nikki Sloane I mentioned that I was reading Sordid, which was actually set prior to Torrid and was about the older brother of the male main character in Torrid. Man, I thought Torrid was dark but it was tame compared to Sordid. I've never wanted to take a shower more while reading a book than I did while reading Sordid. 😖😖 It was like a bad car crash--I couldn't look away, or in this case, I couldn't put the damn book down no matter how disgusted I felt. I can't even really rate it, and afterwards Sordid put me in the biggest romance book slump. Like, I didn't want to pick up a romance (even the fluffy, romcom ones) for a long while after. I was so disturbed.


In a nutshell, summer 2017 for me was basically New York/ACOTAR/Giant Days/book defacement. The Sordid episode was the dark stain that I try to forget. I did eventually got my romance reading mojo back, and who knows I might even pick up another dark romance in the near future. Maybe not a dubcon book, though. I don't think they're my kind of kink.

Hopefully, I'll be posting more often from now on. And not just the mandatory posts for blog tours and review books, but also random ones like this. 

Happy reading,

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Release Date: July 11, 2017 (today!)
Source of my copy: Inkslinger PR
Series: Love Hurts #2 (standalone)
Eden Goodnight went to Los Angeles to make it big, not to be publicly humiliated by her cheating fiancé at a red-carpet premiere. But when Eden returns to her hometown to put the scandal behind her, she can barely find a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. Turns out the locals are worse than the paparazzi, and they all think she’s turned into a spoiled brat. But in a strange twist of fate, the one person who seems to understand what Eden’s going through is Cooper Mayfield . . . the boy she left behind.

Small-town charm is no match for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. At least that’s what Coop’s been telling himself all these years. As Eden’s old flame—and the landscaper for her family’s historic home—Coop feels some responsibility for getting her out of her funk. But as soon as he sees that million-dollar smile, he’s a goner. Soon they’re making out like teenagers again. But when a life-changing role falls into Eden’s lap, Coop just hopes she doesn’t give up on a love that’s meant to be.

I really enjoyed my first read by Sawyer Bennett (Sex in the Sticks--my review here) so of course I had to pick up Jilted. Also, it's a second chance romance, and I can never resist that trope no matter how many romance books I read with a similar plot line.

Fellow second-chance trope lovers, you have to pick up Jilted. It was such a fun read, I completely enjoyed it, and Sawyer Bennett will soon be added to my auto-buy authors list.

Eden Goodnight and  Cooper Mayfield used to date when they were in high school, but they mutually decided to break up after unsuccessfully trying to make it work long distance. Now, Coop owns a successful landscape company and still living in Newberry, the small town they both grew up in. Eden is now an Academy Award winning actress living in Hollywood, and engaged to the biggest action star. Her life was pretty perfect, until she found out that her fiance was cheating on her with his co-star. Wanting to get away from all the crazy after the big scandal, Eden decided to go back to the one place the paparazzi wouldn't think to come looking for her, Newberry, Georgia.

Eden was in for a surprise when the first person she saw at Goodnight House is none other than Cooper, and learns that her late grandmother actually gave half of the house to Cooper in her will. Cooper wasn't happy to see Eden either as he felt some anger and bitterness towards her. These two start off resenting each other, but soon decided to indulge in some very steamy rebound sex. 

As in Sex in the Sticks, we get another small town boy and glamorous big city lady story that I just ate up. I especially enjoyed the Hollywood glamour element to the story. And just like Sex in the Stick, Jilted was a super fun, very steamy, and highly entertaining read. The chemistry and sexual tension between Eden and Cooper were off the charts! They start off arguing and antagonizing each other, but even their fighting was hot. I really enjoyed both Cooper and Eden's characters. 

I don't really have anything bad to say about Jilted. It was a really quick, entertaining, and steamy rom-com read that I pretty much read in one sitting. Sawyer Bennett continues to impress me with her contemporary romances, and I can't wait for more.

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2fx1gbn

About the Author
Sawyer Bennett
Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions.

A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.

Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hello everyone,
Happy 4th of July!

Today, I am going to be review Knife's Edge by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock, the sequel to Compass South. The Four Points duology is a middle grade graphic novel featuring twins, pirates, buried treasure, and swashbuckling adventures all over the world!

I do have to put a disclaimer that if you have not read Compass South, there will be unavoidable spoilers for it below as I share my thoughts about Knife's Edge. Read at your own risk!

Genre: Graphic Novel
Release Date: June 27, 2017 (out now!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Four Points #2
Twelve-year-old twin adventurers Cleopatra and Alexandra Dodge are reunited with their father and realize that two family heirlooms reveal the location of a treasure that is their birthright. When they set sail with Captain Tarboro on the Almira, they know they’re heading into danger—the ocean is filled with new and old enemies, including their nemesis, the infamous pirate Felix Worley. But like a coral reef that lurks below the surface of the waves, trouble is brewing between the siblings. Alex is determined to become a sailor and is happy with his role aboard the Almira, but Cleo—the only girl on the ship—is tired of washing dishes in the galley. In an effort to find her own purpose, she begins studying sword fighting with Tarboro, but neither Alex nor her father approves. Can the twins remain close as they pursue different goals and dreams, or will their growing differences tear the family apart before the treasure can be found?

In this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Compass South, Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock once again create an outstanding seafaring adventure.

First thing, Knife's Edge is a direct sequel to Compass South. You do have to read Compass South first before picking this book up, or else you're going to be confused and will miss out on knowing how twins Alex and Cleo got to where they are at the beginning of Knife's Edge.

In Compass South, orphaned twins Alex and Cleo got separated in New Orleans and had to somehow find their way back to each other again in San Francisco. After them is the infamous pirate Captain Felix Worley, because unbeknownst to the twins they each carry with them an old compass and knife that together will point to where a treasure is buried.

The story continues in Knife's Edge, where not only were Alex and Cleo reunited with each other, but also their father who was actually imprisoned by Worley but had escaped during the battle between the Anita (the ship Alex was on) and Worley's ship, the El Caleuche. With the help of Captain Tarboro, the twins set sail on the Almira for the Marshall Islands where the treasure was supposedly buried. However, Worley, who had lost one of his legs in the battle but was nonetheless hot on their heels knowing the twins will led him right to the treasure.

Alex and Cleo were mostly separated in Compass South, now they are sailing together on the Almira and there's friction between them, as well as friction between Cleo and their father. Alex pretty much figured out that he wanted to captain in own ship in the future, but Cleo isn't so sure what she wants to do. The story is set during the 1860s and Cleo realized that she doesn't really has a lot of choices being a girl. However, having been out on her own adventure and survived many dangers, Cleo is no longer satisfied being the sort of female that stays home and makes tea and relies on the men to save her. I enjoyed Cleo's story arch where we see her figure things out and showing the men that she is more than capable of taking care of herself.

Sailing through the dangerous ocean and with Worley quickly gaining in on them, the action never stops. I did have to suspend my disbelief quite a bit as there were some pretty big deux ex machina moments. As in the previous books, the twins do quite a bit of traveling and here they visit several islands in the Pacific. Do not go into this series thinking you'll learn something about the different places they travel to. Accurate portrayal of these places and the people that live there are disregarded in favor of plot, which didn't bother me because I was reading these books for the pirate adventure rather than for historical accuracy. We also learn some back story about the twins' father, their birth mother, and about Worley's past. 

Since Knife's Edge is the second book in the series, I was familiar with the art and color style going in. However, I do have to mention that while the story drew me in right away when I first picked up Compass South, it did take me a while to get into the art style. The colors used were perfect (lots of browns, orange, yellows, and blues) and on point for the historical, open seas and pirates feel of the novels. But, the art itself I had to get used to. Based on the epic covers of the two books, I guess I was expecting the insides to be sort of in the style of the Amulet series, but once I shifted my expectations (which only took a couple of chapters) the art is actually quite perfect for the overall feel of story and I can't imagine Alex and Cleo's story being visually told any other way. 

I am giving Knife's Edge (and, really, the entire duology)
I loved both Compass South and Knife's Edge--maybe Compass South slightly more than Knife's Edge. This is mostly because I loved Silas and Edwin in Compass South and was kinda sad they weren't in Knife's Edge--I was still shipping Cleo with Silas (Luther can take a hike!). I read both books back to back as one continuous novel and it was wonderful! I loved the ALL characters, even the pirate baddies. While I did have to suspend my disbelief and had to ignore all the factual inaccuracies in favor to further the plot, the non-stop action and adventure made this entire series an exhilarating read. Thinking of my fourth and fifth grade students, I know they'll really enjoy Alex and Cleo's adventures too, and I would add this duology to my library's graphic novel collection. 

About the Author & Illustrator

Hope Larson adapted and illustrated A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, for which she won an Eisner Award. She is also the author and illustrator of Salamander Dream, Gray Horses, Chiggers, and Mercury. She lives in Los Angeles. hopelarson.com

Rebecca Mock is an illustrator and comics artist. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the New York Times and the New Yorker. She is co-organizer of the Hana Doki Kira anthology. Compass South is her first book. rebeccamock.com

Follow the rest of the blog tour!
7/4 -- Undeniably Book Nerdy << you're here!

Happy reading,

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hi everyone,
One of my favorite reads last year was Laurelin Paige and Sierra Simone's Porn Star so I was very much on the look out for their next collab, and it's here! Hot Cop!

I am also loving the whole I-want-a-baby-but-not-a-man plot line so all the WIN for Hot Cop.

You have the right to remain sexy.

Anything you say can and will be used to get you in my bed.

You have the right to use my body to give yourself a delirious, life-changing orgasm.

If you have trouble...don’t worry, I’m a bit of an expert in that department.

There’s nothing ‘thin’ about my blue line, if you catch my drift, and trust me, I know how to put those handcuffs to good use.


Livia Ward wants a baby before she’s thirty. And even though Officer Chase Kelly is exactly the kind of cocky jerk this librarian has sworn off, he is undeniably hot. Both of them think they can give each other what they want--a few nights of fun for Officer Kelly, a no-strings baby for Livia--but this hot cop is about to learn that sex, babies, and love don’t always play by the rules.

I’m at the steakhouse fifteen minutes early, which is on time in Chase Kelly’s book. I’ve never been late for work or a date a single time in my life; in fact, I’ve always been early, which is a point of pride for me. And Livia walks in at seven on the dot, something that endears me to her immensely, although the moment I register that I, Officer Kelly, am charmed, my mind goes blank.

Just blank.

There is nothing but her.

She walks in on heels that make her legs a mile long, her long hair down in a tumult of soft waves. The maître d' helps her take off her checkered wool coat, and then I.



My heart hammers up in my throat as the blood pools deep in my groin. She’s wearing a bright red dress—so fucking short that I’d be able to finger her easily if we were in a booth, which we tragically aren’t. The red sets off the warm undertones of her bronze skin, highlights the deep brown of her eyes. The lines of it hug the delectable curves of her tits, which are just small enough that she can get away without wearing a bra.

My cock thickens as she begins walking toward me, and I can verify that she is definitely not wearing a bra. Oh God, what if she’s not wearing panties either?

I bite back a groan and push back my chair to greet her as she comes to our table, tugging the hem of my sweater down in one smooth move as I unfold myself to help disguise the effect her presence has on me.
As I step forward to greet her, I notice the color high in her cheeks and the way her teeth dig into the soft coral of her bottom lip.

She looks nervous.

That gives me pause. I don’t mind a woman meeting me cold or shy or overly eager, I don’t even mind a case of the first date jitters—since first dates are pretty much all I go on, I see a lot of those.

But nervous—truly nervous—that bothers me a little. Do I make her feel unsafe? Is it my size? My job?

In a split second, I change gears. I can be patient when it comes to the Kelly Trio, and I find that the idea of wooing my nervous little librarian on date after date doesn’t sound tiresome at all...it sounds delightful, actually. A challenge. A test to see if I’m worthy enough to remove all traces of trepidation from her face and fill her expression with eagerness and surrender instead.

And get more time with this fierce, sweet bookworm all to myself.

I lean in to kiss her cheek, careful to angle our bodies so that I don’t press against her with six feet, two hundred pounds of hungry cop. Instead, I anchor her with a firm hand at her elbow, pleased to feel the goose bumps that spread underneath my touch. And then I brush my lips against her cheek, making sure she can feel them, making sure she gets just the tiniest brush of my scruff as I accidentally-on-purpose slide my jaw against hers as I pull away.

She shivers.

I look down into her eyes as I straighten up, and I’m suddenly aware that I’m supporting a lot of weight in my hand, as if her knees are weak from my kiss.

Well done, Officer Good Times!

Her eyes are wide, the pupils so blown and her irises so dark that her eyes are just huge liquid wells of want, and I feel a familiar tug in my groin knowing that I put that look there.

“I forget how big you are,” she murmurs, her head tilted up to look into my face.

I give her my biggest grin and open my mouth, but she cuts me off before I can say it, shaking her head. “I know, I know. I walked right into that one.”

But the ghost of a smile flits across her lips as I help her into her seat and push in her chair.

When I sit across from her and we start looking at our menus, I notice the smile has vanished and the nervous look is back, along with a determined set to her shoulders. The combination of uneasiness and backbone intrigues and worries me at the same time.

“I don’t know what Megan told you,” I say, “but I don’t bite.”

She looks up from the menu, her teeth back to digging into the plump flesh of her bottom lip.

“Well,” I amend, staring at her mouth, “sometimes I do bite. But only when I really, really want to.”

About Laurelin
USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author Laurelin Paige is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She's also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn't do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio. She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.

Twitter: @LaurelinPaige
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About Sierra Simone
Sierra Simone is a former librarian who spent too much time reading romance novels at the information desk. She lives with her husband and family in Kansas City.

Twitter: @TheSierraSimone
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Release Date: June 15, 2017 (out now!)
Source of my copy: L. Woods PR/author
Series: Sordid #2
Vasilije Markovic is the prince of the Serbian mafia and one of the most powerful men in Chicago. His smile may be razor sharp, but he’s crueler than the devil.

I’m playing a dangerous game and betting my life I’m going to win. I pretend to be his pawn. I do as he says and move where he tells me, letting him think he’s in control as I position myself for revenge.

Every turn brings us closer. His grin doesn’t seem as evil when we’re alone. Behind closed doors, I welcome his unrelenting and vicious personality. He’s confessed all his secrets, but I’m holding one back and it’s a game changer.

If I survive the board, this pawn turns into a queen. I become the most powerful player and send all the other pieces running. To get what I want, I must make sacrifices, but am I willing to draw the line at him?

Torrid is a standalone companion to Sordid (which was banned by Amazon for being too dark) and it is the story of Vasilije Markovic, the prince of the Serbian mafia, and Oksana, an illegitimate daughter of a rival who was task to infiltrate Vasilije's home.

Torrid is one of those books I don't quite know how to rate because while I found it compelling and I couldn't stop reading it, there were times it made me feel uncomfortable and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Vasilije and Oksana were both complicated characters. Vasilije is dark, dominant and brutal, but he also had redeeming qualities. I hated him at times, but I couldn't hate him entirely--he's definitely an anti-hero. Oksana, while she does submit to Vasilije sexually, she's not a soft heroine either. She's also scary in her own right and she also had her dark moments. Vasilije and Oksana are very well-matched and that's what I loved most about this couple. I'm especially talking about the last few chapters when they became this psycho power couple going after their enemies. 

The sex in Torrid was at times harsh and callous in that it's often tinged with humiliation, which I'm not a fan of. I don't read a lot of dark romances, so this was kind of a new territory for me. However, Ms. Sloane can write a damn sex scene like nobody else. The sex was frequent in this book, but they were never repetitive that I wanted to start skimming.

After I read Torrid I did start reading Sordid right away because I was curious about Vasilije's older brother Luka and why that book was banned from Amazon. As I'm writing this review I am only about 25% and, yeah, I thought Torrid was dark and intense but Sordid is dark times a hundred--talk about leaving a bad taste in my mouth *shudders* and yet again I can't stop reading.

Torrid is my intro to Nikki Sloane's work and I'm definitely keeping her in my radar for dark romances. I don't know if she's going to be writing more books set in the Torrid/Sordid world (I think Oksana's brother Konstantine needs his own book), but if she does I'm going to be one-clicking that shit. 

After reading Torrid (and now reading Sordid), my truly first dark romance read with dubious consent, I may have to rethink my stance on dark romances. I tend to avoid them, but if the writing is good and the characters complex and have depth like in this instance, I find my closet pervy self finds them quite irresistible (as long as the couple are monogamous because I still can't really bring myself to readily pick up books with menage).

Anyway, Torrid is an excellently written edgy, dark romance with dubious consent and set in the violent world warring mafia families. If that's your kind of thing, pick this book up.
About the Author
Nikki Sloane landed in graphic design after her careers as a waitress, a screenwriter, and a ballroom dance instructor fell through. For eight years she worked for a design firm in that extremely tall, black, and tiered building in Chicago that went through an unfortunate name change during her time there. Now she lives in Kentucky and manages a team of graphic artists. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, is married with two sons, writes dirty books, and couldn’t be any happier.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 13, 2017 (out now!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #1; Psy-Changeling #16
Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that's exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence--her mind clear of all emotion--Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That's what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious...and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed...

Silver Silence is sort of the spin-off of the 15-book Psy-Changeling series--the start of the Psy-Changeling Trinity series.

You're probably wondering if you have to read the first 15 books in the series, and I'm going to say yes. Okay, I guess you can get away with not reading the other books, because we're introduced to a whole new cast of characters, new developments, different locations, and it's sort of a new world now with the destruction of Silence and with the new alliance between the Psy, the Changelings, and the humans. However, you lose all the back story and the all the rich world-building that already been established. In Silver Silence, the world is expanded and your reading experience is further enhanced if you read the previous books.

Silver Merchant, Kaleb Krychek's senior aide and head of the worldwide emergency response network, is total badass ice queen. And Valentin Nikolaev, the StoneWater bears' alpha, recognized her badass-ness and has been trying to court her since he met her. Not everyone is happy with the new fledgling alliance between the Psy, Changelings, and humans and when Silver became a target and her would-be assassin at large, she takes refuge with the StoneWater clan for her own safety. 

I love Silver and Valentin together and individually--they're just perfect together. Their romance was a slow burn, which I loved. Silver thinks Silence is the only thing keeping her sane, and Valentin challenged her to think that there may be another way. Valentin was the absolute BEST--one of the best Changeling men in the series--Hawke is still my #1, but Valentin is way up there. He is good-natured and fun teddy bear.

Everything I love from the previous books featuring the Changelings--playful clan moments, love of family and clan, lovable alphas--I found here too, with the added pleasure of learning about the bears and how they play and their dynamics with each other. I enjoyed the glimpses we had of previous beloved characters, as well as meeting new ones like Bowen Knight, the leader of the Human Alliance--I know he'll be getting his own book. Silver Silence is a fantastic start to the new story arc of the incomparable and epic Psy-Changeling series. I am so excited to see where Nalini Singh takes the story, but she's an absolute genius so I know she'll take it to unforeseen heights.

I'm keeping this review nice and short, but Silver Silence is a must-read for all long-time Psy-Changeling fans like myself, as well as an entry into this fantastic world for new readers.

Laughing at the cubs’ antics, Valentin jogged down the slight incline and waded into what had to be ice-cold water after kicking off his boots and socks. He splashed the cubs, laughed when they splashed him back. Running so they could chase him, he turned abruptly and chased them back, to their unhidden joy.

Silver took a seat on the grass. When the female bear looked her way, she inclined her head in a silent greeting. The bear did the same, then they both watched an alpha bear play with two energetic cubs, his hands holding rough care for their small bodies.

By the time Valentin made his way back to her, he was drenched and his eyes weren’t human in any way. When he spoke, his already deep voice was so low it felt like thunder against her skin. “Couldn’t resist,” he said, pushing back his wet hair with one big hand. “If you weren’t in recovery and if I wasn’t in terror of Nova’s wrath, I’d have invited you. The small monsters wanted to play with you.”

Silver didn’t get to her feet. “Can we stay here a little longer?” It was patent that Valentin had an extremely high tolerance for the cold, but he might want to dry off.

“Sure,” he said, and, moving away several feet, shook off the wet.

Fine droplets settled on the skin of her cheek, but she didn’t flinch at the unintentional tactile contact. She also controlled her urge to reach up and touch the water where it lay against her skin. There was no reason to do that, and Silver was alive because she only did things that were rational.

Settling beside her, Valentin waved at the cubs as their guardian led their tired forms toward a path in the trees that was at the same level as the stream. “Gentler climb,” Valentin told her.

“They seem too exhausted to make it to Denhome.”

“It’s all an act—they’re hoping for a ride on their aunt’s back.” His tone held the same fond affection she’d heard when he spoke of Dima. “It’d take more than a few minutes’ play in the water to wipe out those two.”

The cubs had played with Valentin for almost a half hour. “They’re hyperactive?”

“They’re baby bears.”

Silver watched as those baby bears turned toward her and rose up on their back paws, as if in challenge. A stern sound from their caretaker, and they dropped down and scrambled to catch up with her. Their bodies disappeared into the trees as dusk began to turn from orange to shadowy gray.

Beside her, Valentin sprawled out, bracing himself on his elbows. His drenched T-shirt clung to the ridged muscles of his abdomen, pulled tight across his pectoral muscles, shaped itself over his shoulders. His jeans weren’t much better, outlining the raw muscle of his thighs.

Valentin Nikolaev was a man of violent physical strength even in human form. Yet he clearly had iron control over it; when he’d played with the children, they’d displayed zero fear of their alpha.

“You thought about where you’re going to live when you escape the bears who’ve kidnapped you?”

When she raised an eyebrow at him, he grinned. “Fringe netter with his own Internet channel sent out a breaking report last night. Pasha—who obviously needs more work duties—made up a fake account and posted a comment swearing to have seen you being pulled into a black van by six burly bears in bear form.”

“You don’t seem too concerned.” Amber eyes and deep voice, he remained very much a bear in human form.

“Well, according to this ‘eyewitness,’ the getaway driver was in bear form, too. Must’ve been tough for him to steer with one paw since he was drinking a beer at the same time.”

“Bears,” Silver said, making Valentin throw his head back and laugh that huge laugh that wrapped around her.

Posted by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nalini Singh, 2017.