Blog Tour: Best Kept Secrets by Shelly Ellis {Excerpt + Giveaway} @DiverseBkTours

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coverISBN: 1617733997

Publisher: Kensington Publishing

Pages: 352

Publication Date: August 25th 2015

Genre(s): Women’s Fiction, African-American Literature


Between the fall-out from his father’s latest shady business dealings and his wife Charisse’s alcoholism, Evan Murdoch has his hands full. But he should be most concerned about the scandalous affair Charisse is having right under his nose–with his half-brother. Evan’s being pushed to the edge, and no one knows that better than Leila Hawkins…

Leila is back in Chesterton, divorced, penniless, and desperate enough to do anything to save her mother’s home from foreclosure–including turning to Evan, her former best friend. But Evan isn’t interested in friendship. Instead he makes Leila a shocking indecent proposal…

Meanwhile, Evan’s newlywed sister, Paulette, wants to be the perfect wife. But a blackmailing bad boy ex has reappeared in her life–and he’s threatening to reveal her most painful secret…

The scandals just won’t quit–and for everyone involved, desire, betrayal, and lies are all in a day’s work…


“So I guess you’re wondering why I invited you here,” Evan said, setting aside his salmon BLT after a few bites, leaning forward in his chair.

Leila paused mid-chew. She wiped her mouth with her napkin. “I was . . . I was hoping it was because you wanted to talk,” she garbled, trying not to spit food onto her lap.

“I did. I want to offer you a business proposal.”

She stopped chewing. “A business proposal?”

“I’ll just get straight to the point. Paulette told me that you came to her about your mortgage situation.”


Leila swallowed the rest of her chicken, feeling it lodge in her throat. “She didn’t say that, did she? Ev, I didn’t . . . I didn’t go to her about the mortgage! She came to visit me at work and I happened to mention that—”

He waved a hand dismissively. “Whatever! Either way, Paulette has nothing to do with what happens at Murdoch Bank. She can’t help you, but we both know that I can.”

Leila’s heartbeat began to pick up its pace. Was Evan finally going to speak to the management

at Murdoch Bank on her mother’s behalf? That would be great—absolutely wonderful! So why did her stomach start to lurch in anticipation of what he was about to say next? There was a catch somewhere. She could sense it.

“I’ll help you out, but only under a few conditions,” he continued. His stare didn’t waver. “I’ll strongly advise Murdoch Bank to review your mother’s mortgage. Coming from me—the CEO of their parent company—that carries a lot of weight. But I’ll only do it in exchange for something you can do for me.”

Leila frowned. “What . . . what do you want me to do?”

“There’s no point in beating around the bush.” He reached out and placed a warm hand on her bare knee, making the skin tingle, catching her by surprise. “You and I may have our differences, but I’ll admit that even after all this time and all our bullshit . . . I’m still very attracted to you, Lee.”

Leila stared down at his hand, gazing at the brown fingers that were splayed over her skin. Why was Evan saying this? Why was he doing this? He was married. She was still married too, damn it, at

least on paper!

Because he’s attracted to you. Because he’s always been! Didn’t you hear what he said?” the voice in her head ridiculed. “And don’t pretend like you don’t feel it too, girl!

Okay, so maybe, despite their differences, she was starting to find herself very attracted to him as well, and knowing that was unnerving. She had never considered Evan in that way in the past. He had always been like a sibling to her. Now he was morphing into something else in her eyes and she didn’t know what to do about it.

“I’m a very busy man in a very shitty marriage, Lee. I’ve put sex on the back burner way too long. I’m not ready to divorce Charisse. When I said ‘I do’ to her, I meant it for the long haul but”—he sighed and absently rubbed Leila’s knee, making the tingle she’d felt earlier radiate up and down her leg—“I accept that I’m no saint. I have needs just like any other man—needs that must be met. So I’m offering to help you in exchange for you meeting those needs.”

In exchange for meeting your needs?The blood drained from her face. “Evan, what . . .

are you asking me?”

“What does it sound like I’m asking?”

“It sounds like you’re asking me to have sex with you!”

He paused. “Well . . . yeah. Yes, I am.”

Leila stared at him, struck speechless.

He removed his hand from her knee and sat back in his chair, looking annoyed. “I can tell from your reaction that it wasn’t what you expected me to ask. But before you say no outright, seriously consider my offer. I should add that I’m willing to sweeten the pot a bit if my terms aren’t suitable. In addition to talking to the bank, I’ll offer you one hundred thousand dollars outright for your time and effort.”

Time and effort? Why, you smug son of a bitch, she thought. He was propositioning her, actually propositioning like some two-dollar ho! Make that onehundredthousand-dollar ho!

“So this is what you thought you could get done in fifteen minutes or less? You thought you could get me to agree to be your mistress? You thought you could . . . you could buy me like some. . .” She sputtered helplessly. “How the hell could you even ask me something like this, Evan?”

“Oh, please!” He rolled his eyes. “Don’t get on your moral high horse! You’ve done a lot more for the people you love, haven’t you? Compared to that, this is a small price. Besides, at least with this deal, we both get something out of it. I’ve let you use me one time too many without getting something in return.”

“Fuck you!” she barked, jumping up from the sofa in outrage, letting her napkin fall to the floor.

Is that how he saw their relationship? She had thought it was a mutual friendship. All this time, he had thought she was using him?

“Whatever,” he replied, also rising from his chair. “Play the drama queen if you want. Either way, my offer still stands. You can say yes, or you can say no. It’s up to you. But it’s the only way you’re getting me to talk to that bank. Those are my terms.”

“Terms? Terms? Ev, would you listen to yourself! You’ve been stuck in this office for too damn long if you honestly think you can bargain sex like some . . . some contract! I don’t care how shitty of a marriage you have or how horny you are. . . . Stuff like this between a man and a woman can’t . . . it can’t be worked out like ‘Terms of Use’!”

He squinted. “Why not? People do it every day.”

“With prostitutes! But I’m not a goddamn prostitute! I’m not gonna spread my legs for a man just because he offers to do me a favor or shakes a hundred grand in front of my face!”

“So what would you do it for?”


“What else would you need to agree to something like this?”

She was struck speechless again. What had Evan changed into in the ten years that she hadn’t spoken to him? She didn’t recognize this man anymore.

“Come on, Lee. I already told you that I want you. I’m a businessman. I’m always open to negotiation . . . within reasonable boundaries.” He took a step toward her, making her take a step back and almost bump into his coffee table. He gazed into her eyes. “Tell me your terms.”

“I told you, I don’t have any goddamn ‘terms’! I only have sex with someone I care about. I only have sex with someone I’m attracted to and have passion for. I’m not a professional. I can’t fake something like that, Evan! I can’t—”

He suddenly closed the divide between them. She didn’t have the chance to pull away before Evan abruptly lowered his mouth to hers.

The kiss caught her off guard, but the enticing feel of his full lips against her own sent her heart racing, even when she thought it couldn’t possibly beat any faster. When her lips parted, he slid his tongue inside her mouth and lowered his hands to her waist, drawing her even closer to him. She momentarily forgot about his “business proposal.” Instead, she focused on the feel of him: his powerful arms around her and his lean body pressed against her own, the warmness of his touch and the searing heat of his kiss. Evan—the man whom she had once considered a brother—now sent her senses


She closed her eyes and linked her arms around his neck. She stood on the balls of her feet and tilted back her head to deepen the kiss, meeting his tongue with her own. Her nipples hardened against the silk fabric of her blouse. The blood in her veins pounded wildly in her ears. His hands lowered from her waist to her bottom. She grinded against his pelvis and felt him harden. The junction between her thighs started to dampen in primal response.

When Evan drew back a minute later, they were both panting.

“Either you’re a better fake than you thought,” he whispered with a mischievous grin as he ran his thumb over her kiss swollen lips, “or you’re just as attracted to me as I am to you, Leila. I think we’ll do just fine.”

Leila grimaced. She stepped out of his embrace, recoiling at the realization of what they had done. What had gotten into her? She had been trying to prove a point to Evan that he couldn’t treat her this way. She wasn’t some high-priced hooker. Her body wasn’t up for negotiation, no matter what

spark he ignited.

Leila grabbed her purse and shoved past him. She strode toward his office door.

“You’ve got until the end of next week,” he called after her, making her pause as she gripped the door handle. “If you don’t let me know by then, I’ll assume your answer is no.”

She whipped around and faced him, blinking back tears of anger. “You know, Evan, when I heard you father had died and that you were the head of your family now, I’d hoped that Paulette and Terrence were in good hands. Your father was a cynical, manipulative asshole who tried to make all of you his puppets. I’d hoped they’d have a better chance with you. But now I know I was wrong! You’re a bigger son of a bitch than George Murdoch ever was! Because unlike him, you know better! I thought you were better than this!”

“Next week, Leila. That’s your deadline,” he said coldly before she opened his office door and slammed it closed behind her.


Shelly Ellis HeadshotShelly Ellis is a NAACP Image Award-nominated women’s fiction/romance author and creator of the Gibbons Gold Digger series. Her fiction writing career began when she became one of four finalists in a First-Time Writers Contest when she was 19 years old. The prize was a publishing contract and having her first short-story romance appear in an anthology. She has since published five novels and has been chosen as a finalist for 2015 NAACP Image Award in the Literary Fiction Category, 2012 African American Literary Award in the romance category, and won a 2013 Angie Award.

She is married and lives in Maryland with her husband and their daughter.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



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Stacking The Shelves #57


Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, that spotlights the books we are adding to our shelves; whether they be virtual or physical.

*All covers link to Goodreads*

Kindle Purchases & Freebies


Library Books


Hope you all are having a great weekend! I’ve been reading a lot this week, and I’ve already read 3 of my Kindle purchases, so I should pump some more reviews out next week when I have time. I won’t have too much time, since I’ll be packing after I get off work each day. I found a place about 3 minutes from my sister, so that is a good thing. It’s just… I have to get used to having neighbors close by. I’ve quite enjoyed living outside the city limits, because it’s so peaceful. This move will actually allow me to be there for my sister, sleep an extra 30-45 minutes, and save gas. My job is less than ten minutes away. Well, if I don’t mind not driving the speed limit 🙂 Wish me luck!

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Shetani’s Sister by Iceberg Slim

24438325Publication August 4th 2015 by Vintage / Knopf

Adult, Street Literature, Crime, Prostitution, Drugs

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

My rating 4 Stars

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

From the multi-million copy master of vernacular black literature and pioneeer of hip hop culture, a masterpiece of crime fiction set in Los Angeles’ meanest, toughest streets.

Here is the newly discovered novel by Iceberg Slim, the creator and undisputed master of African-American “street literature,” a man who profoundly influenced hip hop and rap culture and probably has sold more books than any other black American author of the twentieth century (not that he saw the royalties from those sales). In many ways Iceberg Slim’s most mature fictional work, Shetani’s Sister relates, in taut, evocative vernacular torn straight from the street corner, the deadly duel between two complex anitheroes: Sergeant Russell Rucker, an LAPD vice detective attempting to clean up street prostitution and police corruption, and Shetani (Swahili for Satan), a veteran master pimp who controls his stable of whores with violence and daily doses of heroin.

Read More »

Review: The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

21490991Release Date: January 6th 2015

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Genres: Young-Adult/ Contemporary/ Realistic-Fiction/ Cultural

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

My Rating: 5 Stars

Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depo

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

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Gone Crazy In Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

22864816Release Date: April 21st 2015

Publisher: Harper Collins/ Amistad

Series: Gaither Sisters #3

Reviewed In Series: One Crazy Summer 

P.S. Be Eleven

Genres: Juvenile/ Young-Adult/ Historical/ Cultural/ Realistic-Fiction/ African-American/ Coming-of-Age

Format: Digital ARC

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

My Rating: 5 Stars

Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it’s like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime.

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles’s half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven’t spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

Powerful and humorous, this companion to the award-winning One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven will be enjoyed by fans of the first two books as well as by readers meeting these memorable sisters for the first time.

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Review: P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

Release Date: May 21st 2013

Publisher: Amistad

Series: Gaither Sisters #2

Review: One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters #1)

Genres: Juvenile Fiction/ Historical/ Cultural/ Realistic/ African-American

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

My Rating: 5 Stars

Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In this exquisite sequel to the New York Times bestseller One Crazy Summer, the Gaither sisters return to Brooklyn and find that changes large and small have come to their home.

After spending the summer in Oakland with their mother and the Black Panthers, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive home with a newfound streak of independence, and the sisters aren’t the only ones who have changed. Now Pa has a girlfriend. Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam a different man. But Big Ma still expects Delphine to keep her sisters in line. That’s much harder now that Vonetta and Fern refuse to be bossed around. Besides her sisters, Delphine’s got plenty of other things to worry about-like starting sixth grade, being the tallest girl in her class, and dreading the upcoming school dance (her first). The one person she confides in is her mother, Cecile. Through letters, Delphine pours her heart out and receives some constant advice: to be eleven while she can.

The sequel to the Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winner One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven stands on its own as a funny, moving story of three sisters coming of age in the turbulent 1960s.

Read More »

Stacking The Shelves #41

stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, that spotlights the books we are adding to our shelves; whether they be virtual or physical.

My week has been sort of hectic but I managed to survive. I’ve had 3 migraines this week and my meds are not working. So, I’ve been in hell while at work trying to focus with my head feeling like it was about to split open. Not many books this week but I did get a few.


22886621  Modern Monsters by Kelley York This is YA Contemporary and the cover grabbed me so after reading the synopsis, I was sold.


24438325  Shetani’s Sister by Robert Beck better known as Iceberg Slim It’s been a while since I’ve read some great street literature. To be honest, not many authors can pull it off so I’ll see how this one goes.

For Review

IMAG0421-1-1  The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter I’m reading this now and so far, I can’t tell if this will end well for me. I keep putting it down because it’s confusing the hell out of me. Thank you to Hogarth/ Penguin Random House for sending me this book.

Kindle Freebies

24093544  Rippler by Cidney Swanson Over 2,000 mixed ratings on Goodreads and since it was free, I grabbed it. 

20761374  Reasonable Doubt by Whitney Gracia Williams It’s only a novella but I couldn’t resist it. 

Well that’s all for me this week. What books did you add to your shelves?