Blog Tour and Giveaway: Staying On Top by Lyla Payne

Sam Bradford is the #2 tennis player in the world, he has it all, fame, women and money.  Well, he had money, that is until his accountant stole more than 30 million dollars from him.  When his accountant’s daughter shows up wanting to help, its none other than Blair, the girl he wanted to date but she turned him down numerous times.  What Sam doesn’t know is if he can trust her or not, she could be just like her father or is she really just wanting to help?

I absolutely loved Sam.  He was rich, but when everyone else would have completely lost their minds over what happened, he was upset but also knew that there was the possibility that he would never see that money again.  Sam was also real, he had fears like you or me and was more down to earth that I thought he would be.  He wanted to completely trust Blair because of the connection he felt towards her, even though her father was the one who stole from him.   

Blair, I had issues with her throughout the entire book.  I just couldn’t get passed her attitude towards everything that surrounded her father and her part in it.  She was a total bitch to Sam at times and others who were helping them.  She dragged him around, lying, and basically playing with his emotions in regards to his money and her.  She does redeem herself a little at the end but for me it just wasn’t enough.  Sam deserved so much more and she deserved to have to work harder at earning Sam’s trust but also his heart. 

I will admit, for me this is not one of my favorite books of this series, but it was still pretty good.  I have looked forward to each new book in this series and have had the honor of reviewing them since the first book, Broken At Love was offered for review.  While Staying On Top, for me didn’t rank as high as the rest, it’s the entire series that is a must read in my opinion.  Lyla Payne has written a series about rich college kids and college life and it’s not all sunshine and butterflies, but in the end there is always a HEA even when it’s a rough road getting there.

Amazon

Lyla Payne Bio:
I’ve long had a love of stories. A few years ago decided to put them down on the page, and even though I have a degree in film and television, novels were the creative outlet where I found a home. I’ve published Young Adult under a different name, but when I got the idea for Broken at Love (my first New Adult title), I couldn’t wait to try something new – and I’m hooked.  In my spare time I watch a ton of tennis (no surprise, there), play a ton of tennis, and dedicate a good portion of brain power to dreaming up the next fictitious bad boy we’d all love to meet in real life.

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Blog Tour and Giveaway: Be My Downfall (Whitman University #3) by Lyla Payne

Toby Wright has always prided himself on being one of the most normal guys at Whitman University. He loves his parents, has a great job lined up after graduation, and with the exception of attempting to cross the unbalanced Sebastian Blair sophomore year, has kept his nose pretty clean.

But the rich never have empty closets, and memories long stashed away come spilling free when notorious party girl Kennedy Gilbert almost dies in his dorm room.

Nobody really knows how Kennedy manages to stay in good standing at Whitman–she never goes to class, doesn’t pretend to care about her future, and as far as people can tell, is never sober. This isn’t her first meeting with a stomach pump, but it is the first time she’s woken up to Toby’s concerned brown eyes. Despite the fact that she prefers life without friends, he gets under her skin with his insistence on playing her guardian angel.

No one knows better than Toby that people can only be saved if they want to be, but the realization that she has no one else draws him back into the shadows of Kennedy’s life–and eventually into her bed. But she long ago came to terms with a truth that Toby refuses to accept: she doesn’t want to be rescued, she only wants to forget.

Unwilling to give up on her, Toby’s dragged under by this broken girl and her dark, twisted Whitman University he never guessed existed. If he struggles to the surface, he’ll abandon someone he loves for the second time in his life. If he doesn’t, it won’t be long until they both drown.

Once again Lyla Payne has shown us an aspect of what goes on at every college campus across the nation…drug use.  Toby was trying so hard to help Kennedy, while dealing with his own demons.  He wanted to help her and love her.  He knows how destructive the life she is living can be to not only the person using but to those who love and care about you.  Toby wasn’t my favorite in the first book of this series, Broken at Love, but redeemed himself in Be My Downfall.

Kennedy was screwed up big time, she felt as though she didn’t deserve to be happy, and sadly someone else in her past made sure she felt that way.  She couldn’t cope and turned into the campus resident party girl, sleeping around and using drugs and alcohol to feel.  She honestly began to trust Toby and have real feelings for him, but her demons made her doubt herself.  Kennedy’s past broke my heart and I wanted her to finally be happy.

I felt a connection with Toby, my uncle was an addict and lost his battle with addiction years ago but even know thinking back on it still hurts.  I could feel his pain and frustration when trying to get Kennedy help but knowing until she wanted it for herself his effort was useless.  I love how this series isn’t scared to show the bad side of college life, not just the good.  It isn’t pretty at times and I feel that sometimes authors would rather deal with the good and not ever focus on the bad.  I hope that there will be more books to this series as I have enjoyed each book immensely so far.

Excerpt:

“Hey.” Kennedy’s eyes looked blue today under her knitted cap. A matching scarf ringed her neck and her cheeks and lips were rosy.

The sight of her, with the fresh snow drifting down around us, looked like something off a postcard and caught me off guard. She looked so damn normal—prettier than most girls, but normal. “Hey. Enjoying your final runs?”

“Yeah. Headed up top for a few more. You?”

Her change in attitude from the other night left me feeling a little unmoored, but my default setting of polite kicked into gear. “Me, too. Shall we?”

Kennedy hesitated for the briefest of seconds, a flicker of indecision in her eyes, before nodding and giving me a smile that could have lit half of St. Moritz. “Let’s do it.”

We poled over to the lift and waited our turn, then settled onto the cold metal chair together and got situated for the fifteen-minute ride. The higher we went, the more astounding the view. The sun dipped toward the horizon, coloring Switzerland with her own personal halo.

“I’m sorry about the other night. When I was rude to you at the bar. And for showing you my ass.”

I snorted. “I have to tell you, I didn’t mind the latter. And it’s fine.”

She scooted almost imperceptibly closer, then scooted again, until the heat from her body founds its way inside my ski clothes. She smelled like shampoo and snow, fresh like the world around us and I breathed deep. It doused my brain like some kind of drug.

When she reached out and slid her arm through mine, though, it snapped me to attention. The about-face was too much. “What are you doing?”

“Boys belong in boxes, Wright. Anyone ever tell you that?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Are you nuts?”

She shot me a conspiratorial smile and leaned closer, lowering her voice to a whisper even though no one could possible overhear. “I’ve seen you at Dr. Porter’s. Are you nuts?”

Embarrassment flooded my cheeks with heat, stinging in the face of the chilly wind, and I fought the instinct to pull away from her. So I saw a psychologist. So did eighty percent of Whitman.

“Not most of the time,” I replied, keeping my chin up.

“I’m fucking bats,” she said, cheerfulness oozing from every pore.

The other morning, Kennedy had seemed…not depressed, exactly, but not happy. Not like this. It made me wonder if she was bi-polar, but the real reason probably had more to do with her state of sobriety. Or maybe how honest she felt like being.

Those things might even be connected.

“Anyway, boxes. Boys fit in them so nicely—in a ‘too nice’ box, or one labeled ‘good fuck’ or maybe ‘run for the hills he has no idea what to do with his penis’.” She cocked her head. “I suppose there are teeny, tiny boxes for the ones that girls might actually be able to stand for more than a night at a time, but I’ve never used them.”

I didn’t tell her that I’d never found a use for the last box, either. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because I want to put you in one, but I can’t decide which.”

Heat spilled down into my groin as she looked up into my face, pure suggestion burning in her bright eyes. Her hand snuck over and rested between my legs, and even through ski pants there was no way she missed what she’d set to life with the simplest of comments.

Through the foggy desire gumming up my brain, I tried to remember this was Kennedy Gilbert. Whitman’s resident hot mess. I was pretty sure whatever she’d smoked or drank for breakfast was rubbing my crotch right now, not her.

Get a grip, Wright. And for Christ sakes get laid when you get home.

It took every ounce of willpower to reach down and slide her hand away, back into her own lap. “Not that one.”

“Which one? The ‘likes to get off in public’ box? Noted. We’ll throw that one away. Bunch of fucking weirdos.”

“You really are odd.”

She nodded, settling back on her side of the chair and pulling her poles loose. Our lift neared the top of the mountain and I did the same, still struggling to shake loose the lust. When she looked at me again, the proposition had disappeared from her gaze, leaving cool detachment in its place. Her stare left me feeling abandoned, cast away, which was silly but still true.

“You have to get in a box, Wright.” She swallowed hard. “I can’t deal if you don’t.”

My skis hit the packed snow at the top and training took over, propelling me off the seat and out of the way of the people coming behind us. Kennedy was graceful on her skis, gliding at my side until we reached the summit and looked down at the run waiting for us. I wondered what she meant, or why it mattered to her if she couldn’t figure me out.

“Wanna race?” She tipped her chin my direction, her whole body radiating mischievousness, the moment of desperate vulnerability I’d glimpsed on the chair lift long gone. 

“If you’re into losing,” I shrugged, puffing out my chest like an idiot.

Without warning she switched both of her poles to one hand, grabbed the front of my jacket, and planted a kiss on my mouth. Her soft lips tasted like strawberries and lingered, her tongue flicking over my bottom lip for the briefest of seconds before she pulled away.

I couldn’t come up with one single response before she turned and headed down the slope.


Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Be-Downfall-Whitman-University-ebook/dp/B00FBMOXI2/ref=sr_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380054845&sr=1-2&keywords=be+my+downfall

I’ve long had a love of stories. A few years ago decided to put them down on the page, and even though I have a degree in film and television, novels were the creative outlet where I found a home. I’ve published Young Adult under a different name, but when I got the idea for Broken at Love (my first New Adult title), I couldn’t wait to try something new – and I’m hooked.  In my spare time I watch a ton of tennis (no surprise, there), play a ton of tennis, and dedicate a good portion of brain power to dreaming up the next fictitious bad boy we’d all love to meet in real life.

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6903785.Lyla_Payne

Website:  http://lylapayne.blogspot.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lyla-Payne/355992971175349



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Blog Tour & Giveaway: By Referral Only by Lyla Payne

After being unceremoniously dumped freshman year because of her family’s “new money” status, Ruby has taken care not to put her heart on the line. Easy and fun, that’s what Ruby wants. The only problem is, when it comes to satisfaction in the sack, most of the boys at Whitman are nothing but pretty window dressing and false advertising.

Ruby takes it upon herself to make campus life more fulfilling, creating a referral database that allows female students to rate their sexual experiences, thereby informing girls of what they’re getting into before agreeing to a date.  I loved this idea, and could have used it myself when I was in college to weed out the losers and douche bags that I came across, especially that one loser I dated.  Anyways! Moving on.

Cole is the hot Scottish swimmer for Whitman, and it is driving him nuts that he has such a low rating on the referral site.  He doesn’t know that Ruby, the girl that has caught his eye and wants to date badly, is the one who is running the site.  There is a reason why the girls are giving him the ratings that they are, and once you find out the reason behind it, you will understand.  For me, it made me love Cole even more.  I wish there would have been Cole’s point of view not just Ruby’s so you could see what his reactions to some of the stuff Ruby says and does.  I really liked Cole’s character, almost more than I liked Ruby.

When Cole asks Ruby out, she knows that his ratings are not good at all and no one has given him a referral, so she decides to put him off.  She’s involved with her acting partner anyways, so it is the perfect reason to stay away from Cole, except she finds that she is just as attracted to Cole as he is to her.

When Ruby gives in to Cole, will she be able to keep her mind open and rate him fairly or will she allow what others have done to cloud over her judgment?  The connection between them is something that melted my heart at times.  Cole honestly likes Ruby for who she is, not because of how new or old her money is, and she needed that.  When the truth about Cole comes out I wanted to bitch slap Ruby for her reaction because it just gave her the excuse to take off.  What she didn’t think was what Cole was going through knowing that she found out his secret, something that caused him to get those poor ratings from others to begin with.  My heart broke for Cole.
This is the second book in this series and once again the author has brought into the light some things that happen at universities all over except that instead of it being the guys who are rating, it is the girls, which is an angle that I loved.  This series is one that I personally am starting to love and its only book two!  I am extremely curious to see what other antics of college life that this author will bring.

Author Bio:

I’ve long had a love of stories. A few years ago decided to put them down on the page, and even though I have a degree in film and television, novels were the creative outlet where I found a home. I’ve published Young Adult under a different name, but when I got the idea for Broken at Love (my first New Adult title), I couldn’t wait to try something new – and I’m hooked.  In my spare time I watch a ton of tennis (no surprise, there), play a ton of tennis, and dedicate a good portion of brain power to dreaming up the next fictitious bad boy we’d all love to meet in real life.

Links:
Twitter: @lyla_payne

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Review: Broken at Love By Lyla Payne

When a knee injury ends twenty-year-old Quinn Rowland’s pro tennis career, he’s not only dumped by his hot Russian girlfriend but ordered to attend college by his disinterested billionaire father. A rich kid who’s not used to being disappointed by life, Quinn and his sociopathic half-brother Sebastian create a frat house game intended to treat girls how they see them—as simple game pieces to be manipulated for their pleasure.

College sophomore Emilie Swanson knows Quinn’s reputation—after all, he did send one of her sorority sisters into therapy earlier in the semester—but the game and his charm bring them closer together and soon she starts to believe there’s more to Quinn than people think.

But what if the more is something darker than a game of toying with emotions and breaking hearts?

Quinn and Emilie might be falling for each other, but there are secrets he’s not ready to tell—and lifestyle changes he’s reluctant to make. She willingly stepped on the court, but if Emilie finds out she started out as nothing but a pawn in Quinn and Sebastian’s twisted game, she might never forgive him.

To his surprise, Quinn finds that he might finally care about someone more than he cares about himself…even if that means letting Emilie walk away for good.

The game that Quinn and Sebastian play is not only cruel to their “top seeds”, but continues to chip away at Quinn until it begins to break him down as well.  When you first hear about how the game is set up, you are almost screaming please don’t fall for this shit, don’t these girls talk to one another!  I honestly believed that Quinn was fully invested in the game, or should I say needed the game to get over the fact that his ex-girlfriend dumped his ass after his injury.  That is, until Emilie is picked as “top seed” for the latest match.  Slowly the real Quinn emerges and you see how the game does effect him too, although not nearly as close as it does to all of his victims before.  He wants to change the rules because Emilie makes him want to be the better person, even if it means he has to be cruel and push her away.
Sebastian is a cruel bastard and all I am going to say about him is that I seriously wanted to beat him over the head with a tennis racquet…multiple times.
Emilie, isn’t stupid by any means.  She knows Quinn’s reputation but there is something there that pulls her to him even when she knows she should be running the other way.  Slowly she lets her walls down and lets Quinn in.  When he breaks her heart by finishing the game with her, she confronts him and his reaction brought tears to my eyes.  I wanted her to walk right up to him and rack him in the balls but Emilie isn’t like that and that is one reason why I liked her.  Normally I am all against the women who are door mats, but Emilie isn’t a door mat, she is determined because Quinn has her heart.  She doesn’t let him be the massive douche bag he is trying to be stop her, but she knows when it’s time to back off as well. 
Some of my favorite quotes from this book are:
“I’m afraid you’re going to break me, Quinn.”
“Don’t let me.” The challenge in his eyes intensified, heating up and pouring strength into me. “Don’t you let me fucking do that, Emilie. Don’t let anyone break you. You’re stronger than that.”
“It hurt a little that she looked happy to see me, when I only came to break her.”
“I thought I’d won the match when she’d fallen into my arms, heart and all. The truth was, she’d beaten me. Snatched my soul and shattered all the lies I’d built around me to keep the pain of connecting at bay.”
Broken at Love, is book one in the Whitman University series and overall was a good start to this series.  Lyla Payne brought some of the realities of college life to light in this book.  Sadly, these types of cruel games do occur on college campuses.  But, Ms. Payne also showed that even though the people who play these games can be heartless douche bags, when they meet their match and the opponent brings them to their knees, they will do anything to change their life around to win the heart of the one they love.