Exclusive excerpt & a new chance to win Knowing the Score

Hi, everyone! Hope you’re having a sunny – but not sweltering – summer. The weather here in the Netherlands has been absolutely perfect. (Sorry to brag, but it’s so rare I can say that!)

Time’s ticking down swiftly to the release of my debut novel, Knowing the Score, so today I’m sharing an exclusive excerpt with you and giving you a chance to win the book or a gift certificate. (See below for giveaway details.)

First, in case you’ve missed it, here’s the blurb and (ohmygodhawthawthawt) cover, as well as a link to the first chapter and where you can buy it.

Knowing the Score by Kat Latham

Publication date: August 5, 2013

Knowing the ScoreBook one of the London Legends

Rugby player Spencer Bailey is determined to win a spot on England’s World Cup team. But with a month break before the selectors start watching him, he’s eager to have fun with a woman who knows the score: the relationship will end when rugby season begins. The lovely American Caitlyn Sweeney seems perfect for the role of temporary lover, since her visa will run out soon anyway.

Caitlyn works for an international disaster relief organization and can handle the world’s worst crises, but she flinches from her own. Her past has left her with a fear of intimacy so deep that she has trouble getting close to anyone—until she meets sexy Spencer. His hot body and easygoing nature are too much for even her to resist.

Neither Caitlyn nor Spencer expects to fall hard for each other. But with their relationship deadline approaching, the old rules of the game seem less important than before…until past secrets surface, challenging everything they thought they knew about each other.

Read chapter one

Buy it at Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Books-A-Million

Follow Kat at Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | katlatham.com

And now…here’s the excerpt. It happens early in the novel, just after Caitlyn and Spencer meet. Caitlyn saved Spencer’s granddad’s life, and this scene happens as Spencer walks her home from the hospital to the neighborhood they both live in. Enjoy!

It’s Friday, and you’ve been stuck in a hospital all week. His granddad was right—he should be out with his mates, enjoying his freedom before the season started and turned him into a monk again. But he couldn’t relax in a pub knowing his granddad lay in a hospital bed. Not to mention that his sex drive had taken a nosedive the second the nurse had called him.

Liar. Caitlyn had certainly kicked up his hormones. He glanced at her again. Not his usual type. She didn’t look like she spent hours at the gym honing her muscle tone and building a six-pack to rival his. In fact, she looked soft and warm, and he could imagine cuddling with her after going a few rounds in bed. His hands would have nice, plump places to rest instead of scrambling for purchase against tight skin.

Perhaps that explained his attraction. He desperately needed comfort right now, and she looked comfortable. Sexy with all that red hair and her wicked laugh? Fuck yeah. But also caring and gentle with a superhuman strength of character that had led her to put her mouth on a dying old man’s and breathe life into him. Spencer’s blood stirred, his own breath quickening as admiration flared.

“So, what do you do for a living?” Caitlyn asked.

Surprise hit him. He’d made the connection between her being American and knowing fuck-all about rugby. Of course she wouldn’t know much about his career. But he’d flashed his goods on enough adverts that many Londoners could at least recognize him. His groin tightened at the novelty of getting to know a woman without his minor celebrity status—both the accolades and humiliations—getting in the way. “What would you guess I do?”

Her gaze roamed over his body, warming him everywhere it touched.
“Mmm…nightclub bouncer?”

He froze. He resembled a bouncer to her?

A cute smile tipped the corners of her mouth. God, she had dimples. Fucking hot.

“No? Okay, let me think…pro wrestler?”

“Please tell me you’re having a laugh.”

She did laugh then and snapped her fingers. “I’ve got it! You’re a florist.”

He shook his head, unable to contain his smile, and they started walking again. “Not a florist. That was my second choice of careers.”

They neared the Highway. Once they crossed it they’d have left the crumbling public housing estates of Shadwell behind and entered a different world, one populated mostly with professionals and suits who worked in financial services. They would also pass the massive billboard with Spencer’s picture on it. He had seconds of anonymity left. Strange how disappointing that felt.

“You really don’t recognize me?” If she lived in Wapping, she must pass that billboard every day.

She stared hard into his face before shaking her head. “Sorry. Are you on TV? I don’t watch a lot of British TV, except the news. I’m not a big fan of reality—” she jerked to a halt with a soft gasp, her wide eyes focused on the billboard behind Spencer, “—TV,” she finished rather lamely.

Spencer’s heart sped, as if he were racing toward the try line as the game clock ticked down to zero. He knew what she saw—him in all his glory. Most of his glory, anyway. Naked except for the black boxer briefs he advertised, his abs, chest, arms and thighs oiled and sprayed with droplets of water to give the impression of sweat as he ran a hand through his hair—showing off his flexed triceps—and smoldered at the camera. The slogan Hard men wear Woody’s was scrawled beneath his package, which the pants cupped and accentuated.

The makeup artist who’d greased him up had been thrilled she didn’t need to stuff the front; he’d stretched the pouch on his own.

“Oh, my,” Caitlyn whispered. “Yep. I recognize you now. I guess I’d never really looked at your face up there before.”

He grinned, the tip of his tongue smoothing over his suddenly dry lips. “You’re probably not supposed to.”

The sun must’ve dipped behind the billboard because she blinked into the changing light. Her breathing had gone shallow, a sure sign of arousal if Spencer ever saw one. The tilt of her head elongated her neck, leaving plenty of nibble room for Spencer’s lips. Fuck Tower Bridge at sunset—he’d been waiting for this moment.

He reached around her, the tips of his fingers finding the curve of her lower back. Barely any pressure at all brought her chest flush with his sternum as he tilted his body toward hers. Her breasts brushed him as her breath quickened, and he leaned down to cover her mouth with his.

Soft. Her lips, her breasts, the hip he stroked. Everywhere, her softness cradled him, bringing not the expected comfort but a burst of excitement so electrifying it bordered on painful. Concentrating his focus on her mouth, he teased her lips, nibbling, tugging, tasting an intoxicating hint of her sweetness before desire swept over him. Her body trembled beneath his hands, and he tugged her tightly against him to share his warmth, at the same moment moving one hand to cup her cheek and the other to insinuate under the hem of her shirt, resting on the hot skin of her back. Her mouth opened on a gasp, and he pressed his advantage, his tongue—

And that’s where I’m going to leave it, folks! If you enjoyed it, you can enter the giveaway below or pre-order it from these sites: Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Books-A-Million

Giveaway!

This week, I’m focusing my attention on those of you who help me promote Knowing the Score on Goodreads. If you’re not on Goodreads, don’t worry. Next Monday I’ll give you a different way of winning.

First, log in to Goodreads. Then go to Knowing the Score’s page on Goodreads. Add the book to shelves and come back here to enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below.

I know it looks like there are lots of options here, but you can add it to all of these shelves at the same time, and voting on lists takes just a few seconds.

(Don’t know how to add a book to shelves on Goodreads? Under the book cover image, you’ll find a green button that says “Want to read”. Click on that, and it will be added to your “Want to read” shelf. Just to the right of the “Want to read” button, there’s an icon with three books. Hover over that to add the book to other shelves or to create a new shelf – for example, “sports romance”).

One person will win a copy of Knowing the Score and another person will win a $10 gift certificate, so we’ll have two winners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Help me choose a logo for my fictional rugby team

Friends, I need some help. As you may have heard (ahem), my first book is coming out in August. (gah!! panic panic!) Knowing the Score features a super-hot English rugby player who plays for a (fictional) team, London Legends.

I asked my wonderfully talented friend Valentina Ruggiero to design a logo which I could use to promote the book – and, hopefully, future books in the series (fingers crossed!). This logo will be used on my site and places where I write guest blogs. I’ll make it available for readers to download and put on their own sites, if they want to help promote my books and become part of the Legends rugby club themselves. I may put it on swag, too.

Can you help me out by telling me what you think about these six logo ideas? Each one is shown with and without a strapline. (Sorry for any funky formatting!)

In particular, I’d love to know:

1. Do you have a favorite? Or are there elements that you like from different ones?

2. Should I have a strapline? If so, what’s better: Hard men play rugby or Real men play rugby

Here they are:

Option 1:

London Legends Logo IDEA 1

Option 2:

London Legends Logo IDEA 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Option 3:

London Legends Logo IDEA 6

Option 4:

London Legends Logo IDEA 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Option 5:

London Legends Logo IDEA 4

Option 6:

London Legends Logo IDEA 5

Thanks in advance for your help!

The best best-man video ever

Ireland vs Georgia, Rugby World Cup 2007. Stad...
Image via Wikipedia

Smarty Pants is a big rugby fan, and because he’s part Irish he supports the Ireland national team.

I’m a fan of big burly men, and because the Ireland national team has lots of big burly men I’m a fan of them, too.

So on our wedding day, our best man (Smarty Pants’ brother) managed to get us a card signed by several of Ireland’s players, including the legendary Brian O’Driscoll.

We have many photos of me jumping up and down in my wedding dress.

It looks like a Kiwi best man has beaten my brother-in-law. (Hat tip to Bronwen Evans and Elyssa Papa for tweeting it yesterday.)

He somehow got four All Blacks (the New Zealand national team) to pretend they were the bride’s ex-boyfriends and to wish the couple luck on video.

This is priceless – especially Sonny Bill Williams (on the exercise bike), who’s got “romance hero” written all over him.

Too bad the hero of my rugby romance novel is English, not Kiwi. That’s a freaking adorable accent.

What’s the best best-man gift or trick you’ve ever seen?

Congrats, New Zealand All Blacks!

If it seems like I’ve been talking a lot about rugby lately, it’s because I’ve been rewriting  my contemporary romance manuscript about a professional rugby player, and I’ve been doing lots of “research” lately (i.e. spending hours searching for videos of rugby players tackling each other and generally being uber-manly).

Today’s been a particularly rugby-tastic day in the Latham household. My husband woke up early to watch the Rugby World Cup final, which apparently was quite slow. I slept through most of it, unfortunately, but watching the final few moments set me up well to work on my manuscript.

If you missed the final, too, here’s how it started. The New Zealand All Blacks always do a traditional Maori war dance to psyche out their opponents. If I had to face those tongues, I’d be a bit freaked, but the Frenchmen stand their ground.

Check out those arms. And quads. And asses. Seriously.

In the afternoon, my husband and I went to watch a live match at the club where he’s a season ticket holder, and ideas for a series of rugby novels bounced around in my head. Fortunately, when I move to the Netherlands next week I’ll have lots of free time to write them!

If the massive men doing the haka above don’t do it for you, then here’s an alternative video for you.

Did you watch the Rugby World Cup final? What did you think?