Cardeno C. joins us today with excerpts from the newly re-released books Perfect Imperfections, All of Me, Places in Time, and A Shot at Forgiveness. And, not only that, but Cardeno is also offering the chance for FOUR lucky readers to win one of the books.
Winner One will receive Perfect Imperfections
Winner Two will receive All of Me
Winner Three will receive Places in Time
Winner Four will receive A Shot at Forgiveness
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED
Blurb – Perfect Imperfections: Hollywood royalty Jeremy Jameson has lived a sheltered life with music as his sole focus and only friend. Before embarking on yet another international concert tour, he wanders into a bar in what he considers the middle-of-nowhere and meets a man who wins him over with his friendly smile and easy-going nature. Accountant slash bartender slash adventure-seeker Reg Moore has fun talking and drinking with The Jeremy Jameson and can’t say no when the supposedly straight rock star makes him a once in a lifetime offer: keep him company on his tour by playing the part of his boyfriend.
Listening to music, traveling the world, and jumping off cliffs is fun. Falling in love is even better. But to stay with Jeremy after the stage lights dim, Reg will need to help him realize there’s nothing pretend about their relationship.
Excerpt: Arching his eyebrows and twisting his lips in amusement, Reg said, “You’re saying you chose your musical instrument based on sex, which you don’t even like all that much?”
“That’s only one part of what I said. And besides, it was more the idea of sex. I started playing guitar when I was in middle school. It’s not like I’d done the deed at that point.”
“Okay, fine.” Reg rolled his eyes. “You chose to play guitar for a living because of theoretical sex and fame?”
“Yeah.” Jeremy nodded. “That’s about right.”
Sighing, Reg shook his head. “You can hear yourself, right?”
Jeremy wriggled around until he was comfortable and then lay on his side, facing Reg. “It’s not a weird answer, believe it or not. I bet most guitar players have the same two reasons, along with, ‘Because it looks cool.’ The only difference is they won’t admit it. I’m not screaming it from the rooftops either; usually I give some spiel about being inspired by my father. But you asked me for the truth, and you’re my pretend boyfriend, so I gave it to you.”
With a chuckle, Reg said, “Are you always one hundred percent honest in your pretend relationships?”
“This is my first one, so, yeah.”
“Fair enough. How about in your real relationships? Are you always completely honest?”
It didn’t take long for Jeremy to come up with several examples of situations when he’d been less than honest with his ex-girlfriends. “No. I haven’t always been honest.”
After giving it some thought, Jeremy realized the fundamental reason was always the same. “It’s easier that way.”
“How do you mean?”
“I told you how it is with people in this industry. They’re not with me because of me, and even if they are, it’s a small part. Mostly, it’s the mystique of dating a musician or someone famous, or a hope that they’ll elevate their own careers. With people like that, there’s inevitable disappointment because what they came into the relationship wanting and what they end up getting aren’t the same thing. The last thing I need to do is add to that frustration and resentment and guarantee some tell-all exposé. So instead of being brutally honest, I spew the garbage they want to hear.”
Reg cleared his throat and licked his lips. “Uh, JJ, I don’t think what you’re describing is a real relationship.”
“What do you mean? Sure they are. Some people stick it out longer than others, but usually we stay together for close to a year at least. That’s a decent length of time for a relationship.”
“I know. But like with my brother and his wife, they fight and stuff, but they’re in it together. It’s not about what they can get from each other. Even my parents, before my dad died, they were like a team. Do you get what I’m saying?”
In theory, Jeremy knew, but that wasn’t his reality. “It’s not like that when you live your life in the spotlight.”
“I’m sorry,” Reg said, and he looked sad as he said it. “That must be really hard and lonely.”
“It’s fine.” Jeremy shrugged. “It’s all I know.”
Reg squared his shoulders and narrowed his eyes. It was his determined stance. Jeremy had seen it whenever the man was about to embark on a challenge nobody else would dare try. He had seen Reg dive off a bridge against the advice of the bungee-jump operator because his cord was so long that most of his body dipped into the lake underneath, face included. His expression had looked exactly the same when he had jumped off, and when he had bounced back, he had been smiling from ear to ear.
“Not anymore,” Reg said.
“What do you mean?” Jeremy asked.
“You’re with me now, so that won’t be all you know.”
“Uh, I don’t under—”
“I’m going to show you what it means to have a real relationship, JJ.” Reg paused and grinned. “Even if it is pretend.”
Bonded by their parents before they were conceived, wolf shifters Abel and Kai adored each other since they were children. As teens, the two future Alphas took the next step in their bonding process and vowed to remain true to one another until Kai came of age. But when tragedy struck, Abel felt betrayed and ran from Kai instead of completing their mating.
Abel never stops yearning for the man who was supposed to lead by his side and after years without contact, Kai returns, broken and on death’s door. If Abel wants to fulfill their destiny and merge their packs, he’ll need to look past what he saw and trust his heart.
Excerpt: Snarls and yips woke me. I blinked and peered at the alarm clock. It was three in the morning. I hadn’t been able to fall asleep until after midnight. Damn my brothers for screwing around in the middle of the night. I thought about getting up and kicking their butts, but I needed more sleep. I’d deal with them in the morning.
My eyelids dropped closed but snapped open when I heard a howl. That wasn’t Edward or Bernie. I’d heard that howl before. At a funeral. Lee Berura’s funeral.
I shot up to a sitting position. What was Kai doing in my house?
“Calm down,” my father said frantically. “You need to calm down.”
The snarling intensified.
“Can’t you get him to stop?” Bernie said.
“You think I’d be holding out on you if I could do that?” Kelly hissed.
Kai howled again.
“We won’t hurt you.”
Just the idea of someone hurting my Kai had me jumping out of bed.
No, I reminded myself. He isn’t yours.
He whimpered, the sound so pained, so pitiful, so forlorn, that I couldn’t stay away.
“What’s going on out here?” I said as I stepped out of my room.
My father, Bernie, and Kelly were standing at the end of the hallway, where they’d cornered a snarling wolf. At the sound of my voice, his ears perked up and he whined.
Though I should have gone back into my room, closed the door, and let them deal with the man who had betrayed me, I couldn’t. Kai looked taller and broader than when I’d last seen him in this form, which made sense because he had been sixteen then and he would have been expected to grow in the dozen years since.
What I wouldn’t have expected was to see his fur matted and filthy, his skin almost hanging off him. I’d never seen a thinner wolf.
“What’s wrong with him?” I demanded.
“Oh, now he cares,” Kelly said sarcastically. “Isn’t that convenient?”
There was nothing, absolutely nothing, convenient about my mate being hurt.
“We have this under control, Abel,” my father said. “Sorry we woke you.”
“Yeah, Abel,” Kelly sneered. “Go run away and hide again.”
When they both turned back to Kai and reached for him, he shook and cowered.
I couldn’t have stopped myself from rushing over to him if I’d wanted to, and I didn’t want to. “Get away from him!” I shouted as I shoved between them and dropped to my knees. “Move back.”
I didn’t bother to turn around, so I didn’t know if they listened. I didn’t care. Because the second I hit the ground, my mate crawled into my lap, curled into a circle, and fell asleep.
In that moment, I realized that whatever had happened between us, however much he had hurt me, and even if he continued to reject me, my father and mother were wrong. Our bond wasn’t broken, and I would never get over Kai. I didn’t want to.
“Sexiest Man Alive” and Golden Globe winning actor Ethan Baker lights up the screen but fizzles in his personal life. When his latest girlfriend breaks up with him, Ethan turns to his one “forever” person—Jude Harrison. But as Ethan makes the familiar drive to his best friend’s house, an unexpected detour and a bewildering passenger take him through places in time he’d long forgotten. Suddenly Ethan sees Jude’s actions over the years from a different perspective, but it’s his own reaction that’s the biggest surprise.
Excerpt: It should have been terrifying, being held in Jude’s arms and knowing for the first time that he felt more than friendship for me. But it wasn’t. It also should have been scary to pull my head back and look into his eyes knowing for the first time that I felt the same way. But it wasn’t.
Making the first move by leaning in for a kiss, well, that was knee-bucklingly frightening. But I did it anyway.
I brushed my lips against Jude’s, just barely at first, then again with more pressure.
He stood perfectly still, stiff and unyielding in my arms. “Are you drunk?”
“Not this time, no.” I shook my head. “Why didn’t you ever say anything after that day at The Other Team?”
His eyes widened. “You remember that?”
“I do now.” I slowly raised my hand and trailed my fingertips over his eyebrows.
“E, what’re you doing?”
At any other place in time, I would have pulled back. But now that I knew how he felt about me, how I felt about him…now that I knew what we could have together…nothing and nobody could have stopped me from going after Jude, not even our own fears.
“What I should have done a long time ago.”
A dozen years, two thousand miles, and a law degree after high school, Rafi Steiner continues to harbor resentment toward Isaac Jones, his childhood bully turned NBA star. When Isaac appears at Rafi’s favorite restaurant acting like a long-lost friend, Rafi bluntly dismisses him.
But Isaac is tenacious and he has his heart set on the grown-up version of the boy he always wanted and never forgot. The way Isaac sees it, he and Rafi are perfect for each other, if only he could sink the most important shot of his life: his one shot at forgiveness.
Excerpt: “Rafi? Rafael Steiner, is that you?” a dick-hardeningly deep voice said from behind me.
I didn’t recognize the voice, but I put on my best smile as I turned around, hoping for a body to match the husky rasp.
“It is you! Rafi Steiner all grown up!”
I won the world record for turning a smile upside down the moment I saw him.
“Isaac Jones,” I said drolly, and then I turned back around. That was it. No “how great to see you” or “how have you been” or any other bullshit we’d both know I didn’t mean, because, honestly? Fuck him. I would have pretended I didn’t recognize him at all, but nobody would buy that.
At six feet seven inches tall, with two hundred and twenty-five pounds of pure muscle rippling under mocha-colored skin, closely shorn black hair, and a winning smile, there was no way to miss Isaac Jones. He’d been an intimidating presence as a teenager in our high school and that hadn’t changed as an adult.
Excerpt 2: “Rafi!” Isaac gasped. Then his eyes widened and he raked his gaze down my body, even slower than he had in front of my apartment. That Incredible-Hulk-size frame trembled, and he whimpered before gulping two times in quick succession. “Uh,” he said and then took in a deep breath as he dragged his gaze to my face. “I hope you still like lasagna.”
I stood there, staring. Well, mostly staring, I was also salivating just a little at the thought of my favorite meal. I’d skipped breakfast and had a protein bar for lunch. Given the chance, I could’ve probably inhaled an entire pan of lasagna all by myself.
“But if you don’t,” he added quickly, “I also have spaghetti with meatballs and a Greek salad. It has feta. I know you like feta.”
My jaw dropped. And not just because he was right about the feta. I mean, he was right: I did love feta. Especially sheep’s milk feta. But that wasn’t the point.
“It’s sheep’s milk,” he said. “I noticed it said that on the menu, so I had to get it.”
What exactly was happening?
About the Author: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.
Heartwarming Stories. Strong Relationships. Forever Love.