Romance Excerpt: Oceanside by Michelle Mankin

Today fabulous romance writer and all around awesome human, Michelle Mankin, is on Binge on Books to share an excerpt from her upcoming novel, Oceanside. But! Before we get to that, let’s learn a little about this release that promises some of my favorites: rock stars, kick butt female musicians, and two people who might just be simply perfect for each other after all…

Oceanside by Michelle Mankin

Release date: April 10, 2018

About the book:

Oscar night.
Rock star legend, Ashland Keys should be on top of the world, but the blond blue-eyed SoCal surfer is disillusioned with fame, done with drugs, bored with the groupies and sick of all the fake f*ckery.
A rising star, Fanny Bay is nominated for best original song in the same category as the Dirt Dogs band, but the novel redhead with the corkscrew curls and the slight Canadian accent would prefer to chart a course with a different destination.
Hollywood is not for her.
He’s full of regrets, darkness and secrets.
She’s full of hope and light and has mysteries of her own.
He’s her reserved hero.
She’s his gypsy rose.
He’s water. She’s fire. Together, they don’t make sense.
But he’s what she’s always wanted, and she just might be everything he needs.

Excerpt:

Oscar night

Ashland

“Ash,” I corrected. “My friends call me Ash.” My voice sounded gruff from the weight of the things I wanted to explore further with her. Things that I wouldn’t, couldn’t pursue. Bad timing to meet someone who so intrigued me if the test turned out the way I feared. And even if it didn’t, she was too young, too innocent. Not at all right for someone like me.

“Ash,” she repeated, my name sliding so easily between those recently wetted ruby red lips of hers. I imagined them wrapped around my shaft and knew I wouldn’t have turned her down if she had offered to do to me the things the groupie had. My cock was certainly interested in her. It didn’t care about timing or right and wrong. It was all about action.

“I’m sorry you got drawn into my mess,” she continued. “I think that under different circumstances we might have been friends. It’s difficult to find many of those in our profession. Genuine ones, I mean. But I think it’s better if we just go ahead and say goodbye right now.”

“How so?” The lust thundering through me made it difficult to focus, but I did get that she was giving me the brush off. And even though wisdom dictated that I take the hint—it was the logical thing to do after all given our differences—the alpha male in me said, ‘Fuck logic.’

“Because my stepfather wasn’t kidding around. He means what he says. You don’t want to be on his bad side. I don’t want you to be on his bad side. And that’s where you would end up if he thought you were a friend of mine.”

“Someone who steps in front of him when he’s twisting your arm and hurting you, you mean?”

Her eyes wide, she nodded.

“Well, fuck that bullshit.” My gaze grazed the red welt on her arm. “He’s the one who should be worried about getting on my bad side.”

She smiled at my vehement response and smiling she was more than just cute. She was a wrecking ball to my resolve, Prettier in person than in any of the videos I had seen of her and so enticing in that little yellow halter top with the tempting bow dangling between her shoulder blades. I imagined untying it and taking those pins out of her hair. What would those glorious red curls feel like around my…. No… I reined those thoughts back and settled for tracing her subtle curves with my gaze instead. No sex. Not with her. Not with anyone. Not for a while. Potentially not ever. I wouldn’t put anyone at risk if there was even a chance they would get infected. Ironic to be sure. Divine justice for my own irresponsible behavior over the years.

The familiar icy dread returning, I had to remind myself that no diagnosis had actually been made. I had momentarily forgotten my apprehension in her presence. That song of hers was so fucking full of hope it had me expecting a miracle. And that hope sprang from within her. She was the source. No wonder her star had risen so fast. Just a handful of minutes with her was all it had taken for me to realize it.

“I…I wasn’t expecting to run into you tonight.” Her eyes twinkled like stars emerging in the sky as the sun relinquished its hold on the day. “I had hoped to, sure, you know, since I love…your music so much.” A few more spirally crimson curls shivered free of their pins as her hands fluttered in front of her chest. “It’s just now that I’ve actually met you for real.” She gave me that utterly beguiling guileless look. “I’ll never be able to look at your picture the same way again.”

“No reason to settle for a photograph, Fanny. You have your things to do tonight, and I’ve got mine. But afterward, there are a lot of parties. I’m sure we can manage to bump into each other again. Maybe talk some more.” Unwise, Ashland. But yet doing the ‘whoever and whatever the fuck I wanted’ rock star entitlement thing was a hard habit to crush. I might not be able to take this where I wanted with her spread out on thesheets beneath me, but I wasn’t ready for whatever the hell this was to end yet, either. So shouldn’t I leave myself an opening? Acontingency plan? I had been walking around like a zombie. But what if the diagnosis wasn’t what I feared? What if I received favorable news? What then? Who then? As I continued to stare into those starlit eyes of hers, I felt something shift and lock into place that was startlingly certain. Her. If I had a future on the other side of this, I wanted that future to include her.

“There is a reason.” She shook her head. “Samuel Lesowski. My stepfather. You two didn’t exactly hit it off.”

“You’re an adult. He doesn’t have to know everything you do, does he?”

“No.” Her face brightening, she shook her head excitedly and more curls escaped.

“What do you say then? How about this? You be just you and I’ll be just me. A girl from Beverly Hills and a guy from the beach. None of the other stuff. It’s not important. I’ve got a hurdle I have to clear next week, but afterward I can come back to LA. We could meet somewhere.”

“I don’t know.” She captured and wrapped one of her curls around her finger while blinking uncertainly at me through the thick fringe of her crimson lashes.

“There’s a coffeehouse,” I plowed over her reservations. “The Cosmic Cup in Manhattan Beach. It’s by the water. Quiet. Close enough to where you live, but a fair enough distance from the bullshit of LA. How about Wednesday at ten o’clock?”

“But…”

“But nothing. You wrote that song, ‘Tomorrow Today’, right? Make every moment count. I believe that. We can’t control time, but who says we can’t manipulate it. We bumped into each other tonight for a reason. Don’t you think we owe ourselves a chance to find out what that reason is?”

Pre-order it now:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0799TMQ4X/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1340503973 
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/oceanside-miche…/1127888699
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/oceanside-3 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38203863

About Michelle: 

Michelle Mankin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Records series of novels.

Rock Stars. Romance. Redemption.

Love Evolution, Love Revolution, and Love Resolution are a BRUTAL STRENGTH centered trilogy, combining the plot underpinnings of Shakespeare with the drama, excitement, and indisputable sexiness of the rock ‘n roll industry.

Things take a bit of an edgier, once upon a time turn with the TEMPEST series. These pierced, tatted, and troubled Seattle rockers are young and on the cusp of making it big, but with serious obstacles to overcome that may prevent them from ever getting there.

Rock stars, myths, and legends collide with paranormal romance in a totally mesmerizing way in the MAGIC series.

Catch the perfect wave with irresistible surfers in the ROCK STARS, SURF AND SECOND CHANCES series.

Romance and self-discovery, the FINDING ME series is a Tempest spin off with a more experienced but familiar cast of characters.

ROCK F*CK CLUB. One woman, ten rock stars. Is a woman’s sexuality hers to define or does a double standard remain? 

When Michelle is not prowling the streets of her Texas town listening to her rock or NOLA funk music much too loud, she is putting her daydreams down on paper or traveling the world with her family and friends, sometimes for real, and sometimes just for pretend.


 

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If I Can’t Have You by Lauren Hammond

If I Can’t Have You by Lauren Hammond

Publisher: S.B. Addison Books (January 31, 2012)

Format: Kindle Edition

My internal monologue as I get ready to write this review: Gah! What was I thinking?! That cover alone should have warned me to stay far, far away from this book and yet I didn’t listen to what was right in front of me.  Oh no, I bought this and now have only myself to blame because it really is as bad as the cover suggests.  Seriously though, what’s wrong with her arms? Am I the only reader who’s noticed that? Maybe I really am the only reader and that accounts for the fact that no one noticed she has Gumby arms! Sigh. Why do I do this to myself? At least the guy pawing at Gumby has a passably good body…and what is that they’re lying in? An ocean of rocks? Isn’t this set at the beach? Where’s all the water?

Plot:

Robin Mason has been infatuated with lifeguard, Drake Robertson, since he saved her from drowning when she was 15.  Now that’s she’s off to college, she thinks this summer is the one where he will truly notice her. She and best friend, Whitney, make it their goal to ensnare the gorgeous Drake and when Robin does so almost immediately, she begins envisioning a picture-perfect relationship with him. But Drake has no desire to be attached and breaks Robin’s heart when she catches him rolling around in the bushes buck naked with her neighbor.  Her heart wounded, Robin attempts to pick up the pieces while Drake’s younger brother, Elliott, attempts to woo her.  At first she can’t see past Drake’s deception but eventually gives in to Elliott and realizes that maybe picking the wrong brother is all that she needed to find the right one.

Review:

For the love of all that is good and sweet, first that cover and now the book itself.  I promised myself since the last smaltzy love story I read that I would take a break. But of course I can’t resist a good romance and now, I’m paying for it. I don’t mean to be overly harsh but this book is just a big old mess. All of the relationships happen far too quickly and seem to be based on absolutely nothing. First Drake, a hot guy who has never shown Robin the slightest romantic interest, falls all over himself to be with her, then breaks her heart by fooling around with her neighbor, and then swings back around to attempt to win her back. Robin’s feelings for Drake are so flimsy yet all consuming that it just feels fake. Then there’s his equally gorgeous brother, Elliott, who claims he took one look at her (after bonking her in the head with a door no less) and knew she was the one for him. As in the one for him in a future that ends in marriage.  At 18 years old.  Now I have no qualms with love at first sight but I find it very hard to stomach an 18 year old boy claiming that he saw one shy girl and wanting her desperately for the rest of his life.  The speed of his confession and his pointed interested just feels completely forced and unreal. Likewise Robin’s reaction to both boys is wholly out of proportion to the length of time she spends with them. She seems almost manic and utterly dependent on their feelings. If she’s not deliriously happy basking in the glow of their gorgeous faces and bodies, she’s crying, sobbing, or running away from their confessions of love for her.  It’s Neediness 101 and Robin Mason deserves an A for all that effort. At its heart, there’s really not much substance to If I Can’t Have You.  It’s one girl stuck between two boys who seem to want her without knowing why.  It’s all pretty innocuous until the very end when it seems the author decided that her characters were better suited to erotica than YA fiction and all sort of sexy times come out of the woodwork.  But even those were peppered with neediness and tears and frankly they stopped being sexy right away. The premise of this book is great but the execution is sadly lacking. Add to it banal writing and poorly written sequences and you just have a mish mash that is quite dull.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 2. Robin was so whiny and so utterly dependent on whether Drake or Elliott loved her that I just disliked her immediately. Any girl that places all of her emotional eggs in one basket has deep seated issues and I didn’t really want to watch her fragile ego be destroyed by not one but two gorgeous love interests who happen to be related. Double ick btw.

How much did I like the love interest: Wait, wait. Is it Drake or is it Elliott? We don’t find out until about halfway through that Drake is a cad and by that time Elliott seems like such a prince in comparison that we immediately love him for not being a selfish, sex-obsessed teen like his brother.  I give him a 3 because I have a thing for blond surfer dudes but ones that become obsessed with a single girl and make some weird proclamation about all the girls they’ve been with before (at the age of 18 mind you) lose serious points.

How believable is the plot: 5. I’ve never met two brothers who happen to be gorgeous and fall in love with me simultaneously. Maybe there’s some jealousy there or something but I find that plot point highly suspect.  The young girl who becomes infatuated with the guy who rescued her years ago? Now that’s a premise I can get on board with.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 2. This writer needs an editor. Sometimes Robin would think the same thing in two separate paragraphs only using different words.  I remember thinking, “Now, wait, didn’t I already read this part?” But no, I hadn’t because she was just reiterating what she said three paragraphs earlier.  A good editor would clear that right up. There were lots of typos and grammatical issues as well as bad pacing and dialogue.

How much did I want to keep reading: 1. I didn’t. I didn’t believe that Elliott really wanted Robin. In fact, I kept waiting for the punchline where he turns out to be an even bigger cad than his brother who was just toying with Robin’s emotions. Only that didn’t happen and the book sank deep down into the depths of “Judith almost can’t finish this but will because the Kindle progress bar claims it’s almost over”.

Final Score: 2/10. This wasn’t one of my most enjoyable reading experiences. The overall story was subpar and the writing left a lot to be desired.  Sorry if this review feels a bit lackluster but I’m just reacting to what I’m given here, people.

 

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