by Reese Galloway
Sleight of Hand #1
Publication Date: October 13, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Ellaine Greene has simple desires. She just wants to do her best as the event coordinator for the local aquarium, to support environmental conservation efforts, and to keep immature man-children out of her life.
So when a major donor to the aquarium demands Ellaine find a magician for her granddaughter's birthday party, all she can imagine is a long line of card chuckers and coin flippers wearing cheesy sequined vests.
Instead, she gets Xander Hollatz, a sophisticated, powerful man in a crisp suit, with nimble fingers and a warm smile.
He's the man for the job, no doubt. And, to her surprise, she realizes he might be the man for her, too. Will she let her doubts get in the way of their feelings for each other?
And when everything goes wrong at the birthday party, will he be able to perform a miracle to save the day?
Sleight of Hand #1: Private Performance is a 17,000-word novella, introducing readers to Ellaine and Xander's passionate and tender romance, to the fascinating wildlife inhabiting the aquarium, and to the mysterious world of professional magicians.
She lost track of time. Two o’clock arrived in the form of a knock on her open door.
She jumped a little, looked up.
Standing in the doorway was the man of her dreams. And not in a metaphorical way,
either. It was simply… him. The man she had dreamed about last night, right down to the
color of his suit jacket. Her skin went all goosebumpy. Here, in the flesh, he was even more
broad-shouldered, more muscular than she’d imagined.
And then he smiled. The room actually got brighter, as if someone had pushed some
drapes aside and let in the sun.
“Hello,” he said, in a rolling, resonant voice. “I’m Xander. Sorry for barging in like
this. Your assistant said you were expecting me.”
“I was. Am.”
They both hesitated — he by the door, she at her desk — as a timeless moment
passed, and they sunned themselves in the sudden heat of each other’s bodies.
Then Brissa’s face appeared, peering around the doorway with an amused
expression. Her eyes flicked downward. Ellaine realized her assistant was checking out the
Brissa looked back up, met Ellaine’s eyes, and nodded vigorously.
Ellaine cleared her throat and said, “Please, have a seat.” Then quickly added: “And if
you’d shut the door?”
Brissa gave her a thumbs-up, then disappeared.
“Of course,” her applicant said, and as he turned to close the door Ellaine took a
glance of her own.
She looked up just in time as he turned back around and took a seat across from her.
by Reese Galloway
Sleight of Hand #2
Publication Date: October 27, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Ellaine Greene has a new man in her life, the famous magician Xander Hollatz. He's ripped, kind, and mysterious -- nothing like her ex-husband. He has even volunteered to perform at her aquarium's annual fundraising gala. But she's still having trouble leaving the past behind, especially when her ex shows up to beg for money.
Before the new couple knows it, someone's trying to break into Xander's mansion to steal the secrets of his many famous illusions. Ellaine's ex becomes their prime suspect. But maybe it's actually the up-and-coming street magician they've befriended. Or maybe it's even someone from Xander's mysterious past.
Whoever the thief is, if he uncovers and reveals the secret of Xander's newest illusion for the fundraiser, the event will be a disaster. Ellaine may lose her job.
And there's a still greater question: Is this feeling they share together just lust -- or is it something more?
Find out in this 74,000-word book, the second volume in the Sleight of Hand series.
“Do you want to go for a walk? I can walk and perform at the same time. And it’s
such a nice day out.”
She nodded. A breath of fresh air would do her good. “I’d like that.”
They strolled side by side out of the offices and into the sunshine. A long winding
sidewalk enclosed a picnic area on the aquarium’s front lawn. They followed it, not talking,
just enjoying each other’s silence and the mild summer day.
A few families had also decided to take advantage of the weather, spreading
blankets and eating lunch out on the lawn. Kids careened across the grassy expanse like
wild birds. Ellaine studied Xander as he watched them, with such a simple joy on his face.
“Do you want to know,” he said all of a sudden, “why I prefer to do children’s parties?”
She smiled and said, “I do.”
“Kids are always cranked up to eleven. If they’re into the show, they’ll scream and
shriek and jump around. If they’re bored, they’ll slump out of their chair and roll around on
the floor. Whatever they’re feeling, they’re feeling it intensely. And they usually don’t have
any problems expressing it.
“Early on in my career — way early on — a kid caught me palming a rubber ball.
And when kids catch you out, they don’t react like grown-ups do. An adult might roll their
eyes, might tell their friends. They might just walk away. That’s embarrassing enough. But a
kid will flip out. They’ll point and scream, ‘It’s in his haaaaaaand!’”
Ellaine laughed in surprise. “And you... like that?”
“Absolutely. It’s such a rush. Every time I perform for kids, I feel like I’m gonna start
sweating bullets. Some of the toughest crowds I ever had were rooms full of five-year-olds.
Real trials by fire. Jet-setting around the world, entertaining CEOs — that’s profitable. Fun,
too, don’t get me wrong. But even while I was doing big corporate events I’d still try to
sneak a kid’s party into my schedule here and there. I never felt more alive than when I was
performing for kids.”
Then why’d you stop? she wanted to ask. But then she realized the question
answered itself: He didn’t want to feel alive anymore.
She went pale.
Xander didn’t notice. He’d gone back to watching the kids. He had crinkly lines at the
corners of his eyes, and she couldn’t tell whether he was smiling, shielding his eyes from
the sun — or about to cry.
“You should show those kids something,” she suggested.
“Oh, they’re playing a game right now,” he replied. “I don’t want to interrupt. I don’t
wanna be that guy. But I’ll do something for you, and if they see it and come over, I’ll do
something for them too.”
He reached into his jacket and produced three large steel hoops. She laughed as
soon as they came out. “You’ve been hiding those the whole time?”
“Ehhh, magic jacket something something.” He shrugged. “You know how I feel
“You have some good lines. In my opinion.”
He eased into a shy smile. “Here,” he said, handing her the hoops. “I’m no good at
buying jewelry. But I tried!”
She accepted them. “Yeah these aren’t gonna fit.”
“Oh I can get ‘em resized.”
She giggled. He took them back. He was about to go into the trick when she said,
“Oops. Was I supposed to be inspecting them?”
“Yeah. For magician-y stuff.”
“One of the rings has a gap in it,” she said with a shrug. “Doesn’t everybody know
“Only novices use a ring with a gap in it.” He gave the rings back to her. She
inspected them more closely this time. Tugged on them. Picked and prodded. But they were
solid all the way around.
“They’re just rings,” he said with a shrug. “Nothing magician-y about them.”
She narrowed her eyes. “There’s no way there’s nothing magician-y about them. I
just can’t find it,” she replied as she handed them back to him.
“You handled them yourself.” He held one ring in each hand, tucking the third under
his arm. He raised them aloft, right between his face and hers. He knocked the rings against
each other with a loud clank, once, twice. “Either it’s the rings that’s playing tricks on you...
or your eyes.” He knocked them together one more time — then let go with his left hand.
They were linked together.
“How did you—”
He held up a hand to stop her. “It’s a secret,” he said. “But here’s the thing. If you ask
me... I’ll tell you.”
He reclaimed the third ring from under his arm, smacked it against the ring dangling
from the one in his right hand. Clank, clank —
Then it, too, was suddenly dangling, linked to the ring above it.
“I will tell you if you ask me. But don’t ask me unless you want to know.”
She met his eyes. “I want to know.”
He held her gaze. A moment passed. And then he opened his hand and exposed the
Her mouth fell open.
“But... but I looked at the rings. It wasn’t like that when I looked.”
He showed her.
Suddenly, two children, a boy and a girl, bounded up to them. “Are you doing magic
tricks?!” the girl shouted. Xander closed his hand around the ring again, smiling at Ellaine
and raising a fingertip to his lips.
Then he turned to the kids and said, “I am! Do you like magic?”
“Is it okay with your parents if I show you this magic trick?” he asked, glancing up at
the grown-ups sitting nearby on a blanket. They waved and nodded.
“Okay!” Xander said, “Here, you take this ring, and you take these rings. Look at
them all over!” Joy was written in all his features.
Ellaine looked at him. Studied him.
Ached to touch him.
Reese Galloway loves great magic tricks, animals and bars of fancy soaps. Actually, his soap obsession is getting a little out of control.
I was given ecopies of both books in exchange for my honest opinion.
Private Performance was just a taste of what the series will offer us. There was magic, some romance, a few snags along the way and a little steam. ;-)
Book one was really quick and not near as steamy as the cover lead me to expect. I liked it though and I was eager to read Repeat Performance, book two.
In book two, we catch up with the same characters! There was way more story in this book which you know, makes me happy. :-)
I really like Reese's characters. Ellaine, our heroine, was a smart, divorcee who was devoted to her job at the aquarium. Xander was pure magic. He was a great leading man.
In this book there were more pages, more surprises, more laughs, more steam and romance, action..... There was just more in book two. I really liked both books but the second had more of everything and I liked it..... You guessed it, MORE! :P
I hope that Reese will be writing additional books about these characters and their issues soon. I would definitely read more and I wouldn't hesitate to say if it sounds good to you, try it.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that Reese was a man. I normally don't read male authors because they don't usually deliver enough romance and many of them give their leading men, attitudes that I don't care for. You could say he pulled one over on me. ;-)
I was entertained and even amazed once or twice. I am not very imaginative but I had no problems visualizing the tricks that Xander did. Reese described everything wonderfully! This only enhanced my reading pleasure. :D
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