#ForbiddenLoveProject

Header Apr 2015-v3

 

For the first time since Pulling Me Under I am taking time to research a specific disorder/disease for my #‎ForbiddenLoveProject. I always invest as much of my capabilities I can into each story. Can’t wait to get started but the best things take time. I’ll be proud to say that about this novel. Waiting is hard, especially when a writer is bursting at the seams with a story in their mind, but I know this will be worth it.

I might just tear myself with all these emotions! But I will do it for the cause. #believeinthepowerofstory

Book review : “Confess” by Colleen Hoover

22609310Title: Confess

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Publication date: March 10, 2015

My ratingNovel Girl - 5 stars

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♥ ♥ ♥

Book Description

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies.

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

♥ ♥ ♥

MY REVIEW

WOAF. This is Colleen Hoover at her best! Along with her trademark gut-wrenching emotional style, Confess has the added wow factor with real life confessions from fans submitted to Colleen Hoover, which have been used within the story.

This is an amazing original storyline for an otherwise flooded New Adult market that has many similar stories. And New Adult is great at times for that reason as you have plenty to choose from, but sometimes someone takes a chance like Hoover has and it blows you away. She captured me with the originality. He’s an artist with life-changing trouble brewing. She’s a strong woman with a terrible past who still comes through fragile despite putting on a brave front. Their stories may seem familiar, but it’s part of the Hoover charm. You can connect to the characters even when the story turns out so much more different than you expected. They have one heck of a story that unfolds — which i won’t go into detail as it’ll tell far too much.

“I’m scared I’ll never feel this again with anyone else,” I whisper.
He squeezes my hands. “I’m scared you will.”

Now I hope this isn’t too late to back up a bit and talk about my reading habits. I’m a slow reader for an author and book lover. Typically I read books in 1-3 weeks. I read this in a little over 24 hours. Why? I simply could not stop. Every chapter leaves you a little more breathless and on edge. At every turn things get worse and better at the same time. Damn that Hoover! I am a super picky and frustrated reader. I pick apart every little thing and one issue can distract me so much I sometimes put down stories. Yet in Confess I was far too invested to put the book down and space it out as I usually have to do. I’m not going to lie and say it ended with all the little bits and bobbles making sense and to my liking, but I can honestly say that they didn’t factor at all into my rating of this book. It’s a solid 5 star read for me, and I cherish those. I don’t have many true 5 star reads these days.

“I love you so much.” His voice is breathless and full of fear. “I’ll love you forever. Even when I can’t.” My tears fall harder at his words. “And I’ll love you forever. Even when I shouldn’t.”

This book gave me hope and made me cherish the human condition. I loved and learnt. And i think i just made some new friends (and enemies) in 306 pages. For real, you guys. Confess is everything we book lovers crave in a fictional story — nothing about it feels fake at all.

“Some secrets should never turn into confessions. I know that better than anyone.”

It’s like peering into a part of the world yet undiscovered and it’s all your secret to keep.

“I’ll love you forever. Even when I can’t.”

Highly recommended!

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Book review : “Writing Plots with Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel” by Roz Morris

81UxKD+nWgL._SL1500_Title: Writing Plots with Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel

Author: Rox Morris

Genre: Writing, Research & Publishing Guides

Publication date: January 5, 2015

My ratingNovel Girl - 5 stars

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♥ ♥ ♥

Book Description

What keeps a reader curious? It’s the story. You might have a dazzling prose voice and plausible characters, but if they don’t do anything, the reader is likely to lose interest.

So where do you find story ideas? How do you make them into a captivating read?

Do you know what genre you are best suited to write? What is literary fiction and how do you write that? How will you give your book depth without seeming preachy or bringing the plot to a standstill?

What are the hidden patterns that ply the reader’s emotions, regardless of your genre or style? How can you use them with originality? If you want to write a story that breaks the usual conventions, how do you do it?

Whatever type of novel you want to write, this book will show you, in down-to-earth tutorials, games and exercises.

Use it before you write and when revising, to diagnose your story’s strengths and weaknesses, to decide how to begin, what to put in the middle, how it should end. If you’ve had feedback from critique partners and editors, use it to decode what’s really wrong – instead of what they think might be.

Most of all, use it to find out where you already have spellbinding plot material. Discover where your best ideas are hiding and how to tell stories with drama, depth and heart.

By a bestselling ghostwriter, literary author, creative coach and book doctor.

♥ ♥ ♥

MY REVIEW

I have a “Best Everrr” shelf on Goodreads and I haven’t added a new book to it for 8.5 months — that is until a minute ago when i added this one. It’s reserved for books that are more than five stars, books I would happily read twice (as a rule of thumb I dislike re-reading books), and ones that went above and beyond what i hoped and expected.

I loved Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel, as it states the basics you’d expect in a ToC but then it feels written in a personal way, easy to connect to, and really reaches out to find a way to make the reader understand the content in a way they can readily apply to their own work.

I won’t delete this book from my Kindle for a while although I delete most books after I finish. I’ve bookmarked some pages that I will reference often and am finally relieved I’ve found information that I’ve been hoping to have for revision/editing phases of writing my books.

This book is a good all rounder yet avoids the Jack Of All Trades trap. There are minimal sections you’d skip if you were an experienced writer and beginners could easily understand it.

I highly recommend this investment if you’re a writer. We never stop learning, so why stunt your writerly growth? :)

 

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Book review : “Bad Romeo” by Leisa Rayven

91J43Y1iGvL._SL1500_Title: Bad Romeo

Author: Leisa Rayven

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Publication date: December 23, 2014

My ratingNovel Girl - 4.5 stars

6bea2-addtogoodreads

♥ ♥ ♥

Book Description

When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan’s romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.

Cast as romantic leads once again, they’re forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they’ll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks.

♥ ♥ ♥

MY REVIEW

I write this minutes after finishing, emotions scrambled, eyes blurry (not from crying—it’s not that kind of read) and heart pumping. Bad Romeo was a long book (my kindle location seemed to suggest it was almost twice as long as most novels). I’m not fast reader, but in my own way I read this fast! I didn’t ever feel it dragging despite the length. Mentally I was doing fist pumps because I got to read and read and read without it ending too soon.

This is a love/hate romance, one that’s quite dysfunctional, loaded with a buttload of chemistry between our leads, Cassie and Ethan.

Come the end of the novel I was scrambling hoping for even more, hoping that everything would work out. I don’t put spoilers in my reviews, so you’ll have to make do without me satisfying you with an answer on that latter point. ;)

This bit . . .

“It’s like we’re oil and vinegar. No matter how much we shake each other up, we’re never going to blend.”

“Cassie,” she says, giving me her best heed-the-pearls-of-wisdom-I’m-about-to-impart expression, “you forget that even though oil and vinegar don’t blend, they still make delicious salad dressing.”

. . . perfectly describes the tone and storyline of the book. Cassie and Ethan butt heads. They act and think differently, they have different types of history (him with wayyyy much baggage) and together they pretty much shake each other up until breaking point. And, yes, by that stage they felt like what a fiercely shaken bottle of oil and vinegar looks like (if that makes any sense).

The angst in this book is off the charts. Like whoah, Colleen Hoover high. I was pretty much sweating, shaking and jumping in my seat begging for them to work out already!!! 

I bet if he entered his penis in a competition, it would win “Best in Show” and he could walk around with a giant blue ribbon stuck to his crotch.

If I asked nicely, I wonder if he’d use his pretty penis to remove my pesky virginity.

The novel is told from two times: when they first meet when Cassie, the main character, is nineteen and then three years later after he broke her heart and they spent all that time apart. Until now. They are the leads in a play together like they were three years ago.

The novel builds with rising angst because of their love/hate relationship, which brings me to the less awesome parts (which aren’t terrible, just drove me a bit insane). I felt that Ethan pushed back at Cassie way more than he should have. As I lingered between 2/3 to the ending my frustration peaked. This lead to reservations about totally loving and connecting with the reasons they couldn’t work out. These were okay, but my heart pounded for other aspects such as their chemistry, the parallels between them as leads in the play then and now, their quirkiness, Cassie’s absolutely piss-yourself-laughing humour and Ethan’s drop-dead sexy image. 

“That’s it. I’m taking you home.”
I shake my head, wishing he could understand that if I stay with him any longer, he’ll unstitch me, and I really can’t fall apart now.

Bitterness is the only thing holding me together.

 

I am so glad I read this ARC now and not later. More time to bask in how awesome and refreshing this story was. Although, this is the first book of a series and my heart will be in knots until the end when their story is complete.

Highly recommend if you love angst/New Adult bad boys/good girls/college stories.

This is my Ethan Holt (take note of that look in his eyes. hehe! SO fitting!) (He’s the guy from Taylor Swift’s Blank Space music video!)

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Facebook giveaway for The Rental – enter now!

Are you on Facebook? I’m giving away 2 eBook copies of The Rental!

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Enter here:  https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaBertoAuthor/photos/a.496550480438203.1073741826.209018375858083/746240455469203/?type=1

LIVE! — THE RENTAL + giveaway!

TheRentalBlitzBanner1Today The Rental is finally published! YAY! Below you’ll find all sorts of goodies including a giveaway, so keep scrolling . . .

The Rental eBook cover

Book & Author Details:
The Rental by Rebecca Berto
(The Rental #1)
Publication date: September 22, 2014
Genres: Adult, Erotic Romance
Blurb:

At first, Rick Delaney watched Vee Wyland with the hungry eyes of a fox as if she were a rabbit … his rabbit. But one day, he slunk away without notice.

Months away from graduating high school, Vee’s life is on the verge of crumbling. At home, dire finances and long hours test her family. Her boyfriend hardly pays attention to her. And she can’t shake her feelings for his older brother, Rick.

Then, all in one night, tragedy tears her teetering life into shreds.

When Rick and Vee reunite, the sparks fly. However, she unwittingly signs away a future for both of them. In his world, a place called The Rental, she becomes Victoria and Rick becomes Rhett. One part of her watches with fascination, while the other unfurls and embraces her sexual awakening. It began as a game, but the consequences are real.

Following their heart’s desire is forbidden, but walking away could strip their hope for a future.

The Rental is an erotic romance that explores how sex isn’t purely physical; sometimes, it’s a gateway to your soul.

6bea2-addtogoodreads

 

The Rental teaser-hand


• • •  Buy the book  • • 

Amazon  |  Nook  |  iBooks  |  Kobo

The Masquerade - Rebecca BertoKDP
Download the prequel, The Masquerade, for FREE (can be read before or after The Rental).

Amazon  |   Nook  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Smashwords

Goodreads

The Masquerade teaser


• • •  The Rental excerpt  • • 

Laundry-room Moment:

At the entry, I met Rick. Looking up, I took in his clean-shaven jawline; crisp, fitted shirt; sleeves rolled at his elbows. How could the guy be more gorgeous every time I saw him? I glanced down at his black jeans and leather-tapered shoes. Holy shit.

I let out a breath and tried smiling at his face, but I couldn’t hold the intense gaze of his for more than a split second, so I looked down to my boots. I slid past him, and déjà vu slammed into my chest.

Not ready for a laundry encounter like last week, I took a cup and focused on steadying my trembles as I reached for the tap. I dared to look at him and he was fixated on my fingers. Not a moment later, his big hands engulfed mine. My trembles disappeared at his touch.

Rick had a presence around people, but around me, his gravitational pull was overwhelming. And right now, it scared me—wanting to run away, yet also wanting to fall deeper into this moment.

I was with Justin.

Justin was Rick’s brother.

“You okay?” He looked into my eyes and felt my forehead with the back of his hand. “You’re burning.”

I blushed and looked away to hurry some ice into my cup. “It’s damn hot in that garage. It’s crazy.”

“Ah.” He paused for so long that I felt the air thicken in my throat as I swallowed. “It is. But you’re okay?”

Was I? The right answer was yes, but I sure as hell didn’t feel that way. He was my whirlwind, and he’d swept into my world with all-encompassing force, spinning me again and again with our meetings. The hairs on my skin stood on end. “Oh, totally,” I said lightly. “Go on and enjoy your party.”

He remained and looked at me. The corner of his lips turned up, but it felt forced and weighed down by the other downturned corner. His eyes, once warm, were now dreary. Even his body seemed to be slumping.

He turned, but caught himself on the door and smiled. “I am. Trust me, I am.” Like that, he flipped his mood. I didn’t know what caused it or why. Maybe Justin’s whacky behaviour had plagued Rick all week too, and my mention of ‘enjoying’ himself reminded him of that.

“You staying past midnight?”

“Yeah. I mean, maybe, maybe not. Might just leave a tip for your show. I heard they’re all putting in.”

“You want to see the show, Vee?”

I shuddered hearing him say my name. Damn it, the guy’s voice was smooth, yet coarse enough to rough up my insides. I smiled, confident. I wasn’t going to let my stupid drunken head get the better of me. And stuff the water! I was going to grab another Cruiser. I dumped the water and ice down the drain, grabbed a bottle from a pack, and stepped between Rick’s body and the nearby bench.

“Yeah,” I said. “I wanna see it.”

“Before you go …”

I halted, holding my breath, and the sensation of the icy bottle slipped away. I let my eyes roam, and drank him in the way I intended to with my drink. Passionate, private, and poisoning me to sweet surrender.

No touching anywhere wrong. No acting out. No worries.

He opened his mouth to speak, but it hung there, gaping. Rather than exude sexual vibes, it had flipped back to distraught, and it made him look like a big boy. A fragile boy. Like I had to hold him together.

He seemed broken and sad underneath, except as the birthday boy, he wore a cool smile and held his shoulders high—a facade to the rest of the world. Only here, Rick and I were in our own world, one where no barriers existed. Beneath skin deep, I felt the darkness occupying him.

“Birthday hug?” he asked and I answered, “Yes,” at the same time from his previous question.

He leant over me. I watched it in slow motion and my stomach swirled with anticipation. His arm brushed my shoulder and he flicked the laundry door shut. The space was technically the same size, but the room had shrunken. I tilted my head down and inhaled, my nose near his collarbone. My nerves spurred me on while my thoughts screamed at me to stop making a fool of myself. The spice smelt of cologne, but mostly the freshness of frangipani-scented laundry detergent. It was sweet enough I wished I could cuddle up and drift away with it.

Somehow, that whole minute in my head must have only taken a second or two. Rick stepped the other way and yanked down the cord to cover the door window, a view leading to the backyard.

When the blind fell, it was done. The room was closed off. We were alone. For what? This ‘birthday hug?’

I wanted him. Alone. Unseen. But I had no desire to cheat.

He captured me inside his space, his arms around my waist like butterfly wings. My body melted as if he was my heat source and I moulded my chin to the crook of his neck. My hands connected with his chest, feeling his life source beating madly beneath me. I quaked at the touch. Hands gliding, I felt around his contours, up his back until I run out of muscle, then linked my hands over each other and flattened them.

He hummed. Not a moan, nor a plea of pleasure. And it thrilled a spot inside me. Where I was a puzzle piece before—incomplete and in search—our reunion connected it. I had been lonelier than I was aware. My boyfriend hadn’t been there for me for weeks now. He’d been there, oh, yes, how he’d been here, there, and everywhere, but not around me.

Supported by Rick, I felt like a blossoming seed—I’d attached to solid ground and now I was growing with life. I couldn’t recite Rick’s middle name or his favourite dessert, but I could feel his heart against my chest. I could feel the thrum and beat of our bodies in sync. Could feel the residual emotion and heat we’d once had—unsaid and assumed—coming together as one.

Rick parted and hooked my chin in his big, yet soft grasp. His dark eyes held mine, and I couldn’t tear them away. Softly, he said, “Sorry. I mean, I’m not sorry for you, but I am for everything else. So thanks. Thanks for everything when you didn’t have to do anything.” I couldn’t quite focus on his words, as if I was waiting for the punch line to bring it all together, but I felt the emotion behind his voice.

“Thanks,” I said. I didn’t know why I said it back, but it felt right, like the inherent knowledge that simmered to the surface when getting back on a bicycle. There the whole time—understood by the body, even if not by the mind.

Reality sunk on me then, reeling me in. I blinked. Party, blinds, door. Us alone. I yanked the blind up, and Rick turned the doorknob, releasing our privacy.

“Sorry for acting strange,” he admitted. “Like you said, it’s pretty crazy in there and I needed … I needed a break. I’m drunk. I’m … going.” He gave me a parting smile, and it wrapped around my skin, now full of goosebumps in the wake of his departure.

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(International; ends Sept. 30)

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5 days to go!

The-Rental-5-days-to-go

‪#‎5daysuntilTheRental‬ OMG this crept up on me! Who’s excited?

Goodreads ➜ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18745190-the-rental
Amazon ➜ http://mybook.to/The-Rental
iBooks ➜ https://itunes.apple.com/book/id909737506
Nook ➜ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940046250428

The Masquerade - Rebecca BertoKDP

(download The Masquerade: a prequel short to The Rental now!)
FREE iBooks ➜ https://itunes.apple.com/book/the-masquerade/id919838283
FREE Smashwords (you can download a kindle version here, too) ➜ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/476531
FREE Kobo ➜ http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-masquerade-a-prequel-short-to-the-rental
(still working on these guys) $0.99 Amazon ➜ http://mybook.to/The-Masquerade


It’s not too late to sign up ASAP to the book blitz on release day, September 22. Or you can request a review copy.

Special announcement: The Rental

» • ANNOUNCEMENT MESSAGE • «

When I wrote The Rental, the characters came to me like ready-formed people with memories, wants, and feelings. I wasn’t ready to move onto the sequel without more. And so was borne the short prequel: The Masquerade.

This little story, although set years before the kinkiness of the place called The Rental still explores the same topics: love, pain, and sexuality. The tricky part was deciding how to handle a sensitive issue: my main girl is still fifteen when this prequel begins, and my male lead has just turned nineteen. Although nothing illegal occurs between them sexually, I wanted to keep the heat level that the series is about. In the end, I love how I straddled the line closely to explore their relationship and individual wants and needs.

To say the least I am bursting with excitement to share this story with you. I hope you are excited too! It’s going to be a free download, too—yay, who doesn’t love a freebie—so you can start this series at absolutely no risk (well, except for the hazard of your panties melting). And better yet, you can read this prequel before or after The Rental as there are no spoilers. It’s coming in September just before The Rental goes live on the 22nd.

Love and hugs,

Rebecca Berto


» • THE BOOKS • «

The Masquerade - Rebecca BertoKDP

Title: The Masquerade: a prequel short to The Rental

Series: The Rental (book #0.5)

Author: Rebecca Berto

Genre: New Adult Romance

Length: 30-35 pages (will be a FREE download)

Release Date: September 2014

 

Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Rick Delaney is at a masquerade party when temptation dangles in front of his eyes in the form of fifteen-year-old Vee Wyland. Not only is she too young for him, but she’s too pure to taint with his wild ways and—worst of all—the crush of his reckless younger brother’s eyes.

Beneath their masks burns a fiery hunger for each other; however, it’s a desire they must quell. Their situations are fraught with risk. But age isn’t the only obstacle. Dark secrets brew between their ongoing game of masquerades. And it might just spell the end before they get a proper beginning.

* This book does not contain underage sex, but it is sexually explicit. It is a short prequel and can be read before or after reading The Rental. *

6bea2-addtogoodreads

♥ ♥ ♥

The Rental eBook cover

Title: The Rental

Series: The Rental (book #1)

Author: Rebecca Berto

Genre: Erotic Romance

Release Date: September 22, 2014

 

Blurb:

At first, Rick Delaney watched Vee Wyland with the hungry eyes of a fox as if she were a rabbit … his rabbit. But one day, he slunk away without notice.

Months away from graduating high school, Vee’s life is on the verge of crumbling. At home, dire finances and long hours test her family. Her boyfriend hardly pays attention to her. And she can’t shake her feelings for his older brother, Rick.

Then, all in one night, tragedy tears her teetering life into shreds.

When Rick and Vee reunite, the sparks fly. However, she unwittingly signs away a future for both of them. In his world, a place called The Rental, she becomes Victoria and Rick becomes Rhett. One part of her watches with fascination, while the other unfurls and embraces her sexual awakening. It began as a game, but the consequences are real.

Following their heart’s desire is forbidden, but walking away could strip their hope for a future.

The Rental is an erotic romance that explores how sex isn’t purely physical; sometimes, it’s a gateway to your soul.

6bea2-addtogoodreads


Goodreads Book Giveaway

 The Rental by Rebecca Berto

The Rental by Rebecca Berto

Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.

Enter to win

PRE-ORDER:

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  Kobo  |  B&N

Read the first 3 chapters for FREE:

http://www.wattpad.com/66159659-the-rental


» • THE E-BOOK GIVEAWAY! • «

Enter below to win one of two ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of The Rental! Open internationally. Winner must have a Kindle device to receive the Kindle eBook prize.

Closes Tuesday Sept. 16 12:00 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CLICK TO ENTER!

CLICK TO ENTER!

 


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Nearly two weeks to go until THE RENTAL!

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Woo hoo! Is anyone else nearly dying of excitement like me? If you’ve missed any links scroll down for all the goodies :) At first, Rick Delaney watched Vee Wyland with the hungry eyes of a fox as if she were a … Continue reading

THE RENTAL — cover reveal and excerpt!

Title: The Rental

Series: The Rental (book #1)

Author: Rebecca Berto

Genre: Erotic Romance

Expected Release Date: September 22, 2014

Cover Designer: Berto Designs

goodreads

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00030]

Synopsis

At first, Rick Delaney watched Vee Wyland with the hungry eyes of a fox as if she were a rabbit … his rabbit. But one day, he slunk away without notice.

Months away from graduating high school, Vee’s life is on the verge of crumbling. At home, dire finances and long hours test her family. Her boyfriend hardly pays attention to her. And she can’t shake her feelings for his older brother, Rick.

Then, all in one night, tragedy tears her teetering life into shreds.

When Rick and Vee reunite, the sparks fly. However, she unwittingly signs away a future for both of them. In his world, a place called The Rental, she becomes Victoria and Rick becomes Rhett. One part of her watches with fascination, while the other unfurls and embraces her sexual awakening. It began as a game, but the consequences are real.

Following their heart’s desire is forbidden, but walking away could strip their hope for a future.

The Rental is an erotic romance that explores how sex isn’t purely physical; sometimes, it’s a gateway to your soul.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00030]

Pre-order The Rental today:

Amazon global link  |  iTunes  |  Kobo  |  B&N

The Rental header

For more teasers, visit the book page here.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Rental by Rebecca Berto

The Rental by Rebecca Berto

Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.

Enter to win


Chapter 1

Rick Delaney was parked outside my house with my boyfriend. He stepped out of his car and lifted two fingers, saluting me at the front door. He shouldn’t have been.

How could he return to Melbourne after a whole year when I resigned to a life without him—a life, specifically, with the brother he’d arrived? Bottled-up feelings pounded in my chest so hard I was glad no one was home to witness it.

And my boyfriend? He tripped getting out of the passenger seat. That’s what can happen when you looked at your mobile phone instead of your girlfriend’s smiling face. My expression soured as he passed me, not even a peck on the cheek.

“What’s with the ride?” I called.

Their mum, Mrs Delaney, should’ve been dropping Justin off like usual. But he ignored me and trudged farther into my house.

Rick noticed my expression and jogged up the stairs. Elder by three years, he stood tall with the composure of a man compared to his teenage brother. Strong shoulders filled out his dark T-shirt. He was bigger in not only his upper body but everywhere—thick arms and thighs and a solid build. Add that to a smile and he melted the hearts of women everywhere—seventeen-year-old girls included.

“Mum and Dad are in Europe,” Rick said. “They call it a long-awaited honeymoon. Justin and I call it a mid-life crisis.”

My jaw hung open. How could Justin not tell me? I thought this type of thing excited a boyfriend. Weeks of no parental supervision at home—it’d excite me if not for the sudden pit of worry in my belly. “They’re away? They’re not here?”

“That’s what a holiday is.” Rick deadpanned.

“It’s just that Justin never told me anything.”

“It was only a few days ago.”

As if that made it okay. If Justin didn’t spend so much time with his phone in his face, he might have remembered to tell me. I didn’t know why, but it cut me that I didn’t know an important change in his life. I told him every time my dad left to truck interstate for work and that was every few weeks. He was gone more than he was here, and Mum worked odd hours. It was lonely and hard to stay away from the temptations Justin and my best friend, Cara offered me at parties or when we hung out.

“Hey, bro,” Justin called behind us. He came up and slammed his hand on the side of the front door. “Come fix the washing machine.”

“Washing machine?” I asked. Why are you acting like you live here? I was close to adding.

“Yeah,” he held out the front of his top, “got a Coke from your fridge and it squirted everywhere.”

“We don’t have any Coke left in the fridge.”

“You do in the spare one.”

I bit my lip and flexed my fingers by my side. Facing him, I cracked a thin smile. Most of the time, Justin wasn’t like this. Correction, before recently, my boyfriend wasn’t like this. He kissed me like no one else, and made me laugh, but damn it, he either had the memory of a goldfish or was too ignorant to care.

“That was for tomorrow night!” I stared into his eyes with hope of making him feel guilty, but he was clueless. “Dad’s back from Sydney tomorrow, and Mum’s got a dinner for us three. You know he loves Coke. You know he’s been away for weeks. You know Mum’s too busy working to buy more groceries before then.”

Justin shook his head. “So uptight.” He squeezed my ass, smiling as he planted his lips fully to mine. “I love that about you, but seriously, I forgot. And, your mum works at a supermarket, for fuck’s sake.”

True, but Justin drank Coke, and ate all the ice cream, and ate all the chips, and I got sick of explaining to Mum why I was so selfish as to keep putting her out when she only requested little favours like these on special occasions. Such as tomorrow.

“I’m not uptight.” I paused. “It’s fine about the top—I’ll hand wash and Rick—”

But as I turned to tell him not to worry about fixing the washing machine, my hands met a rock solid chest. I froze. My palms lingered on the contours of his defined pecs with my fingertips at his collarbone. Not able to look at his eyes, I dropped my hands, as if that would undo our moment.

It didn’t.

I’d spend sleepless nights dreaming about his body, as I did when he was far away and stopped talking to me. Pictures and memories of him were all I had.

Justin was hot with his dark eyes and brown hair, but compared to Rick, he was scrawny. Mostly bones everywhere, and when we made out, his hips rubbed into mine. I’d forgotten his shortfalls when it was just him and me. I liked him plenty and that grew to love. But now my past was back, and I had no idea what to feel when seconds ago my hands were on his brother.

That brother with a firm build, one that wouldn’t rub against me if we were to … I shut down that thought pattern. I shouldn’t imagine Rick on top of me. We were three years apart, and at my age, sex with him was illegal.

I pulled my thoughts in and mumbled, “Oh, um,” then took a breath and tried again. “Dad’s back tomorrow, so don’t worry about it. He’ll fix it then. I feel terrible putting you out.”

“It’s fine, Vee, really. Kill some time.”

“Thanks, fag,” Justin said, pulling at my arm to drag me away.

“God, Justin, you’re such an ass sometimes.” I shook out of his grip. He looked offended, so I added, “Gotta go clean up the Coke, remember?”

“Seriously,” Rick said, “you two just chill. I’ll let myself through. This way?” He pointed down the hall.

I nodded. “I’ll come with you.”

“Fine.” Justin walked the other way. “You two have fun. I’m hanging in Vee’s bed.”

“Such a tool,” Rick said, walking to the washing machine.

“I know,” I mumbled.

I took out the mop and bucket, and then went to the cupboard to grab the concentrate liquid.

“I was born with a link to him, but indulge me,” Rick crouched by the washing machine on his haunches, legs spread and hands dangling between, “why is someone as smart and gorgeous as you with him?”

“I ask myself why—”

I stopped.

He said I was smart and gorgeous.

“Oh,” I managed between strangled breaths, “thanks.”

He half-smiled then got to work. His T-shirt rode up on one side as he leant over. Just above his pant line, the angular ‘V’ at his lower back peeked out. Hard as I tried notto gawk, it was impossible when I was alone with him in this small space.

“The um,” I started and almost forgot what I was going to say. Luckily, I recovered. “The machine won’t start. Not sure what it is. Mum and I have been hand washing for now.”

Rick turned, focusing his attention on the washer. I wiped the laundry bench and cupboard and mopped the floor, trying to concentrate on the mop end and not Rick’s ass or his body bent over the machine.

After I was done, I went to my room to hang with Justin, but he wasn’t there. I did a lap of the house, called his name, and checked the other rooms too, but he had literally disappeared. I paused a moment in the kitchen, steadying myself on the corner of the bench while I let the realisation absorb. He left without a goodbye, without much of a hello for that matter.

“Rick!” I called.

He emerged wiping his top down his face. I looked away as fast as I could, but the image of his lean eight-pack projected in my imagination anyway.

Justin might’ve been outside or somewhere I hadn’t checked. He had to be. I pushed aside the topic. It would be stupid to suggest he left.

“Thank you so much,” I said, meeting Rick’s eyes, “for in there.” I pointed behind him.

“But you don’t know if I fixed it.”

“You tried.”

He smiled with his lip jutted out and nodded, as if I impressed him. “Well,” he said, “you can be a woman of modern technology from now on. All fixed. It was a loose belt. Slipped off.”

“Oh, lucky me.”

The silence became louder, and judging by the tightness between Rick’s eyebrows, he had just noticed Justin’s absence.

“Justin?” I queried, and he nodded cautiously. “Yeah, I looked everywhere for him. This might sound stupid, but I think he left. I couldn’t find him. He’s just not here.”

Rick tensed his jaw, scoping the open living area. “Bull,” he said, but by the dismissive tone, he sounded like he was saying it to himself or about something else.

He stalked off toward my backyard without another word, so I scampered after him, my little legs no match for his long strides. I flipped the light on outside and Rick walked down the steps, following the shallow lighting spilling over the clumpy, yellowed grass and shrubs lining the property fence.

“Unbelievable,” Rick muttered, I thought, but I couldn’t be sure with his back facing me or by the growl to his tone.

He eased me back with a polite hand and walked around to my front door and beyond. He surveyed the porch and front yard in the same swift and efficient manner as the back, and then turned to me. We were facing each other separated by my whole house. The front light slammed behind him and it made him glow. I supposed I looked the same, and wondered if I seemed as mysterious and alluring as he did. Not possible.

We shut the doors and walked towards each other, meeting near my kitchen bench.

“Did he tell you he was leaving?”

“Not at all,” I said, scratching my head. “I just came from the laundry and he was gone. Maybe …” but I trailed off, feeling stupid for thinking it.

“What?” Rick said, eyes narrowed.

“Maybe he texted me letting me know why.”

Rick shrugged. “You could check.”

I did, returning with my mobile phone. I had one new message.

Justin: Had to go. Sorry, babe xoxo

“Unbelievable,” I muttered, embodying the same rage as Rick.

“What? He didn’t—” Rick looked at my mobile which I handed over, and he cut himself off to read. “He did. Where did he even go? What a bastard.”

Rick’s cheeks were inflamed now, and a telltale vein popped from his forehead. He scrubbed his temples with the heels of his hands.

I remained there not doing a thing. I hadn’t seen Rick for so long. I hadn’t a clue how to calm him down or what would be appropriate.

“It’s not a big deal,” I said. “He’s my boyfriend, not yours.”

“He’s my brother. I’m here to look out for him and the kid slips from my fingers.”

“Look out?” I asked.

Rick’s face blanched. He stood there with these big helpless arms dangling on either side of his body. He coughed and said, “Parents are away. Someone’s gotta keep him out of trouble.”

“Oh.” I sighed. “It’s nice of you to come back to keep an eye on him. I’m sure he doesn’t think so. Now he can’t run amuck with freedom.” I had so many questions to ask Rick, like whether London was an extended holiday or was he there for work or did he miss me? I couldn’t ask any of them though when we had more important things on our minds.

“I don’t think so either,” Rick said in a solemn tone. The severity of it hit me square in the chest like a physical force, and my body stood immobile while I adjusted to the weirdness of everything. Justin leaving, but also the aloof Rick Delaney that had changed since I last knew him.

“I better go search.” He patted his pockets, looked over the bench, and then ducked into the laundry room. When he emerged, he walked to the front door.

I followed, and we both turned to each other at the same time, emitting a startled chuckle from me. I placed my hand over my chest. “Thanks for everything. It’s good to see you back, Rick.” I leaned up to kiss him, and he stooped to my cheek, pecking it so lightly, only the bristle of his stubble grazed my skin.

He jogged down the front steps, unlocked his car, and was about to jump into it when he looked up at me, this big, lost expression on his handsome face. “See ya,” he called. And then he hopped in and drove.

At least he said goodbye, but the whole night had left me shaken.

• • •

Handsome man in black hoodie showing his abdominal muscles

Want more? Read the first 3 Chapters on Wattpad (free, no sign up required):

http://www.wattpad.com/66159659-the-rental

 

About the Author

IMG_20140714_10443Rebecca Berto writes stories about love and relationships. She gets a thrill when her readers are emotional reading her books, and gets even more of a kick when they tell her so. She’s strangely imaginative, spends too much time on her computer, and is certifiably crazy when she works on her fiction.

Rebecca Berto lives in Melbourne, Australia with her boyfriend and their pets.

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