Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on August 5, 2017

Dadgummit
Series: Dreamwalker Mystery (Book 4)
Publisher: Camel Press (August 1, 2017)
Paperback: 312 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1603815932

Synopsis

Amateur sleuth Baxley Powell is on vacation at Stony Creek Lake in the north Georgia mountains. Her parents, best friend, and ten-year-old daughter are camping with her. Almost immediately, a young man’s body is found beside the lake. Strangely, there’s no apparent cause of death. The local police have heard about Baxley’s skill at closing unusual cases, and at their urging she agrees to help.

Her psychic sleuthing leads the police to a halfway house. There they encounter eight comatose victims and an odd man named Jonas, who also has supernatural abilities. Baxley senses Jonas cruelly drained their life force energy. Jonas escapes, taking the sheriff as a hostage. Deputy Sam Mayes, a Native American, leads the manhunt, and he keeps Baxley close, knowing she’s the key to capturing this powerful criminal.

Baxley’s paranormal talent of dreamwalking, which she uses to traverse the veil of life, draws the unwanted attention of beings believed to be Cherokee folklore. Jonas stole a treasured artifact from them, and they want it back. They hold Baxley’s best friend and two others because they know Baxley can help them. As the clock ticks, Jonas taunts this crime-fighting duo and proves to be a wily adversary.

With the body count rising, Baxley and Mayes realize they are up against an entity who appears to be invincible. Do they have the power to subdue an energy vampire, turn the tide of evil, and save the day?

Guest Post

Am I a scaredy cat?

By Baxley Powell, amateur sleuth

Since I’m a dreamwalker and therefore “different,” people think I don’t have normal reactions. I’m here to tell you that’s a complete falsehood. I cry when I stub my toe. I laugh at puppies frolicking in the park. I weep when a friend dies too young. I get nervous when I see a cop with a radar gun. (I get nervous about their Tasers too, but that’s another story.) I get misty-eyed when I see a couple in the first blush of love.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m as normal in my emotional reactions as everybody else. I’m completely human, but I have a few extras under the hood. I didn’t ask for these unusual talents. They came to me by virtue of my genetic heritage. Long ago I learned that denying what you are doesn’t change a thing. You are what you are.

These days I’ve added police consulting to my resume, along with pet sitting and plant care. Consulting sounds so benign, so office-y and safe, but it never works out that way. When I consult on a case, I use all the resources at my fingertips in this world – and the next. Let me tell you, some of the people and spirits are pretty scary.

As a kid I got trapped in the drift, that’s the limbo between here and there, so every transition I face a remnant of that primal fear. Once on the other side of the veil, I don’t always find the spirit I seek. There are tricksters, bad boy spirits, demons, and I’m sure there are other terrors I haven’t discovered yet. You might say fear keeps me on my toes.

There are unwritten rules about spiritual encounters I’ve learned through practical experience. For instance, spirits can’t tell me straight out who killed them, but they are allowed to show me scenes from their lives which may be relevant to their demise. Most of the time, they aren’t allowed to talk to me or answer my questions.

I think of my forays into the afterlife as tactical missions: get in, do my job, and get out. That’s more of a goal because dreamwalks rarely go that smoothly. In addition to spirits that don’t want to be found, spirits that are uncooperative, and harmful spirits, there’s also my Other World guide and mentor, Rose.

Mentor makes one think of a kindly, helpful person. Perhaps one who is older and wants to share the benefit of their experience. Rose is nothing like that. She’s got an agenda, and she’ll use whoever she wants to achieve it. Allegedly, Rose is undercover in the demon world and she’s an angel, but I’ve begun to doubt her story.

Three times now I’ve reached out to Rose during life or death situations. Three times she’s helped, but she demanded an hour of my life in return for each favor.

The thought of Rose being in charge of my body for three hours scares the tar out of me. However, since either I or a loved one would be dead otherwise, I believe the decision to accept Rose’s help was the only decision I could make. Now I’m stuck with fear of when she’ll collect the debt, and where it will happen, in my world or hers.

To try to regain some semblance of balance and normalcy in my life, my family is headed to the Georgia Mountains for a camping getaway before school starts again. Far as I know, Rose will still know where I am, thanks to her cross-worlds tattoo tracking system, but I’m not inviting her to join us for any of our revelry. Rose can party on her own time, with her own friends, thank you very much.

Because whatever we are, we are not friends. I am flat-out scared of her.

[For more about Baxley’s vacation in the Georgia Mountains, check out her latest appearance in Dadgummit by Maggie Toussaint]

About The Author

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes mystery, suspense, and dystopian fiction. Her work won the Silver Falchion Award for best mystery, the Readers’ Choice Award, and the EPIC Award. She’s published seventeen novels as well as several short stories and novellas. The next book in her paranormal mystery series, Dadgummit, releases August 2017. Maggie serves on the national board for Mystery Writers of America, is President of Southeast Mystery Writers of America, and is Co-VP of Low Country Sisters In Crime.

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August 3 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

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Posted in 4 paws, excerpt, Review, romance, Trailer on August 4, 2017

Synopsis

In high school, Charlotte Windham was a typical student going through an awkward phase — glasses and all. She harbored a crush on Garrett Stephens, the teen heartthrob everyone can’t help but fall for during that unfortunate ugly duckling phase of one’s teen years. Flash forward fifteen years later, and Charlotte and Garrett have a second chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant. However, this time around, Charlotte has leveled the playing field. She’s a bestselling novelist and no longer “Glasses,” the humiliating nickname Garrett called her in high school. In short, she’s a catch now and, thanks to corrective eye surgery, it’s not just her eyes that see better…so does her heart! Garrett hasn’t fared poorly either, transforming from teen heartbreaker to adult lothario. A now successful professional golfer, he’s recently suffered a major setback in the form of a possible career-ending injury. With the upper hand, can Charlotte forgive Garrett for his past ways, and for his more recent Don Juan lifestyle? Will she even want to? And, can Garrett change his ways for a second chance with Charlotte, who may just be the perfect fit for him?

Excerpt

I stand but hesitate when I see Tamika’s disapproving look. Fi notices as well. “It’s okay, T. I got this,” she says, motioning for me to follow her back. When we get to her small office, she closes the door and gestures for me to sit on a red vinyl chair, circa 1972. She stands in front of me, leaning against the desk, and crosses her arms in front of her chest. “Spill!”

“Where should I start?”

“At the beginning.” She walks around to her chair behind the desk and pulls out a yellow legal pad.

For the next half hour, I go over my encounter with Garrett, from the moment we bumped into each other and he didn’t recognize me, to the embarrassment of being called ‘Glasses.’

Fi takes notes furiously on her pad and grins, nods, and cringes at all the appropriate times. When I finish, she puts her pen down and asks, “Do you want the ‘best friend experience’ or the ‘brilliant legal mind experience’?”

I can’t help but laugh. “Are they mutually exclusive?”

“They are,” she says nodding.

“Okay. I want the best friend experience.”

She rushes around from behind the desk, wraps her arms around me soothingly. “I’m so sorry, hon. That sounds just awful. Let’s go get margaritas tomorrow and drown our sorrows in tequila and lime wedges.”

“Thanks, Fi. You’re the best.”

“Anytime,” she says, rubbing my back. She pulls away and walks around to the back of her desk. She sits down and puts the legal pad to the side. I can’t help but notice the writing scrawled across it.

“Just for kicks, what would you have said if I had asked for the ‘brilliant legal mind experience’?”

“You sure you want to know?” Her lips pull into a grim line. Honestly, I’m not sure I do want to know, but curiosity gets the better of me.

“Lay it on me,” I say.

“You need to get laid. Not the kind of bland, missionary style sex you had with Alex. You need hot heat, sweating up the sheets, crazy animal sex.”

I bust out laughing. “That’s your brilliant legal advice. Crazy animal sex?”

“Yes. That’s my brilliant legal advice,” she says with complete seriousness. “Listen, hon, it’s been a year since that insecure jerk Keane dumped you. I have no doubt it’s been even longer since you’ve, well, you know.” She wags her eyebrows up and down. “Before that, you only seriously dated Travis the cheater and Alex who, let’s face it, despite being completely gonzo for you, was a cold fish and a bore. It’s time to stop comparing every man to this fantasy of Garrett Stephens and just do it with him to get it out of your system. He asked you out for Saturday night. Go! Enjoy!”

“I don’t compare every man to Garrett,” I snap at her.

“Don’t you?” she asks, looking down at me sternly.

“I’m offended you even suggested that.” She looks at me, her sharp eyes boring into me, like she can read my every thought and knows I’m full of it. I imagine this is how she bears down on witnesses on the stand. I don’t like being on the receiving end of that look.

“Even if that’s true,” I start and she nods her head, “and I’m not conceding it is.” I point my finger at her. “Even if he did mean to ask me out, there’s no way it’s a good idea. He’s a total player. It would only be one night of fun and I don’t think I could get over that kind of hurt.”

“Then you need to get over it now. Sorry for the tough love, hon, but you need to move past the fantasy of this man and find someone passionate and amazing who is deserving to love you for all of the great things you have to offer including your messed-up childhood and your incredible success today.”

Review

I really liked this romance novel! It was a little different as the two main characters, Garrett and Charlotte, took their time in getting to know one another as friends – or learn how each person was today vs when they were in high school. Sure maybe they had some hang ups from that time, but as with anyone, we learn from our past to change the future. I like how both characters saw something more in the other and help pushed for that growth. Of course there were still insecurities to deal with especially on Charlotte’s side, but that is part of being human!

There were lots of funny moments that made me smile or giggle. Garrett’s family was a bit nuts! And playing “I Never” at the cabin one weekend with the family?! Perhaps a bit TMI…or at least I don’t know what to know about intimate details about my siblings. Then there is Fiona (Fi) who is one of Charlotte’s best friends from college. Don’t mess with her! But she seemed like someone I wouldn’t mind having as a friend.

As a side note – there is some graphic language during the part they were playing “I Never”….I personally didn’t like the wording but that is my personal taste. The sex scenes are a little graphic in case that offends anyone. There aren’t many of those scenes and they are all near the end of the book.

We give it 4 paws up.

Trailer

About the Author

Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love StoryDouble Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman’s search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series was optioned for a major motion picture.

Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites.

As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a rush.” Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

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Posted in excerpt, Romantic Suspense, Spotlight on August 4, 2017

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Release Date: February 13th 2017

Synopsis

Love is worth fighting for.

Alexa Wolving has just one rule: never give a guy a second chance. That works just fine in the safe life she’s built. In the charming town of Willowdale, her day job as a librarian balances perfectly with her evening job as a black belt instructor. But when she attracts the attention of a stalker, Alexa’s carefully built world begins to crumble.

Drew Cosimo knows he broke Alexa’s heart five years ago when he took his first Ranger assignment and disappeared from her life. Now that he’s out of the army, he’s moving back home to Willowdale. He’s not looking for a fight, but making peace would be easier if Alexa hadn’t told the entire town he was a money-grubbing jerk. Despite the tension between them, Drew is quick to offer his protection when a stalker forces Alexa from her home.

As the stalker’s attacks escalate, Alexa and Drew are forced to face their painful past and the simmering attraction between them. They must fight to save each other before everything they care about goes up in flames.

Excerpt

She stepped forward. “Clearly, I was wrong to challenge you. This all smells amazing.”

“An amazing meal for an amazing lady.” When she stopped short, Drew realized instantly that she took his comment as a compliment of her looks—and didn’t appreciate it. He plowed on. “What you did tonight, the way you handled yourself with your cats, you were amazing.”

Alexa flushed a little, but she continued to her chair and sat. Drew caught a scent of something citrusy as he pushed in her chair. Her hair fell in smooth waves of honey brown and looked incredibly touchable. She’d freshened up before she came out, he was sure of it, and his chest swelled a little that she’d taken the trouble. Drew took his own seat across from Alexa.

She cleared her throat, but her voice still sounded a little husky when she spoke. Maybe she was as nervous as he was. “What do we have here? I recognize some of these but don’t know their names.”

She sounded impressed, and Drew felt a flood of pride. “The one with the shrimp is couscous paella, and beside it is roasted eggplant and feta, which you can dip with pita chips. This orange soup is a pumpkin curry soup, and then of course there’s the salad, which has asiago cheese.”

“Wow.” Alexa’s eyes spoke her enjoyment, and she made an appreciative sound after popping in a chip full of the eggplant and feta.

Drew couldn’t help himself; he spooned up a bit of the pumpkin soup and passed it to her. “Here, try this.”

She barely hesitated before taking the bait, and when she did, her eyes flew wide open and her mouth made a sensuous little pout. “Mmm, that’s good!”

Drew grinned and just managed to stop himself from spoon-feeding it to her. He was getting way too much of a thrill out of feeding her. While he would like to think it was all motivated by a protective desire to follow Detective Rawlings’s orders and make sure Alexa ate, the burning in his groin said otherwise. He could watch her eat all evening without caring about his own food, if only she’d let him.

Alexa took another bite, again with obvious enjoyment. Down, boy! He hadn’t gotten where he was in life by following his baser instincts wherever they led him, and he wasn’t about to start now. He hadn’t even been thinking about the fact that Alexa still hated his guts and, moreover, had a stalker creep gunning for her. No way was he going to be the man she chose as her only alternative to a stalker.

Time for a little idle conversation to lighten things up. Too bad he sucked at chitchat. Drew cleared his throat. “It’s a good thing I made it to the store yesterday and had the pumpkin and eggplant on hand.

Otherwise, we would have had nothing but spaghetti.”

“Spaghetti’s good too,” Alexa said.

She puckered her lips as she blew on her soup, and Drew’s imagination instantly replaced the soup with her slurping on a long, skinny spaghetti noodle. He shifted in his seat.

“Where did you learn to cook like this?” Alexa asked.

Drew shrugged but mentally leapt at the chance to get his mind out of the gutter. “I spent time in the Mediterranean while on assignment, and I liked the food. While Dad was having chemo, he needed to eat, but he didn’t have much of an appetite, so I taught myself to cook. Dad always loved homemade European food.”

Alexa tilted her head, her eyes on his face. “Your dad spent a lot of time in Europe, I take it?”

Drew nodded. “We were based out of Europe for several years. Germany, Italy, Greece.”

“Is that when he took the photos? I saw some from Russia too. And one in Wales.” She added salad to her plate and dug in.

“You recognized the church in Wales?” Drew asked, impressed.

Alexa colored a bit. “I like to study history, and sometimes I look at travel magazines.”

He opened his mouth to ask if she would ever like to visit Wales but caught himself just in time. What was he thinking? It would sound as though he were asking her to go with him, and no way was that a good idea.

He took a quick bite of soup to cover his pause. “I think he took those trips after I was grown, though it’s hard to say.” Drew kept his tone casual and watched Alexa take a bite of salad. “He was MI, so we never knew for sure where he was on assignment.”

“MI–that’s military intelligence, right?” Alexa asked. “Aren’t those assignments pretty dangerous?”

Drew nodded. “Sometimes—though much of it is paperwork and analysis. But if he was doing any dangerous work in the field, he was always protected by Special Forces. That’s part of why I became a Ranger. As a Ranger, I was a part of the military teams that used to keep my dad safe.”

Alexa went still. “What a beautiful thought. Did your dad know that’s how you saw it?”

Drew shrugged a little uncomfortably. “I don’t know. Maybe. We swapped stories some, while I was taking care of him, but I don’t know if it ever came up.”

Nodding, Alexa took another bite, but Drew didn’t try to fill the conversation lull.

How was it that he’d just told Alexa something so personal that he’d never even explained it to his dad? Was it just because she was female and easier to talk to? Or was it something more? And if there was something more, what did that mean for him?

About the Author

Lily Black believes in true love, but is also quite sure going after it is the scariest thing we’ll ever do!  She explores this dynamic in her romantic suspense novels, which are set in the small imaginary town of Willowdale, where people dream big, love deeply, and kick butt if necessary.  She has a black belt in Chung Do Kwan Tai Kwon Do, and has also trained in everything from judo to broadswords.  She lives in North Carolina, where she works as a content editor for a small publisher, and divides her free time between the mountains and the sea with her very patient and loving husband and their teen daughter. She is also the co-creator of the Book Ninjas’ Blush-O-Meter. Readers everywhere search the Book Ninjas’ online catalog for romance, YA and chicklit novels in all genres, and find books that match their preferred blush level!

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Posted in excerpt, Family, humor, Parenting on August 3, 2017

 

Title: DINNER CONVERSATIONS
Author: Jason Reid
Publisher: Createspace/Reid Group
Pages: 348
Genre: Humor / Family / Parenting

Synopsis

“You are going to LAUGH! You are going to then wonder if these conversations actually happened. You are going to wonder what kind of guy would actually say these things to his family.”

The answer is simple—yes, these conversations did actually happen. They occurred over a period of roughly 5 years, mainly at my dinner table.  I took them verbatim and posted them on Facebook so that all my friends could get a good laugh.

I must be honest with you, some of you will are going to laugh and say things like “…that sounds like something I would say or want to say” others are going to think that I am a horrible parent.  I am ok with either thought process.

What I hope is that after laughing, scratching your head and wondering what is wrong with Jay Reid, you realize that you need to create more of your own Dinner Conversations.

Please join me on Facebook to read more and post your own.”

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

Taxes

Kids

“You have to pay how much in taxes?!?”

Jay

“Yep, half or more of my money goes to pay taxes, the rest goes to pay for you guys. I have almost nothing left over.”

Kids

“That’s crazy!”

Jay

“I agree, but I am stuck with all of you.”

About the Author

Jason Reid is an entrepreneur by trade and a dad by passion. He currently lives in Murrieta, California with his wonderful wife and amazing four children. Over the years he has written numerous business books, a novel, and children’s The Protector Bug book series.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Young Adult on August 3, 2017

Title: The Way It Hurts

Author: Patty Blount

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Pages: 352 pages

Format: Paperback and Digital

Print ISBN: 978-1-492632-788

Digital ASIN: B06XR172ZD

 

Synopsis

There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program–and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen’s performance, and snaps a photo of her in costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

Advanced Praise for The Way It Hurts

“Blount writes authentically; both protagonists’ voices are distinct. The author explores the rapidly consuming world of social media and how it affects relationships online and in real life. A relevant read and must-have for all YA collections.” – School Library Journal

“THE WAY IT HURTS draws our attention to the joy, heartache and confusing contradictions that arise as we try to find our place in the real world and the virtual one.” – Kimberly Sabatini

Elijah and Kristen’s personal evolutions through the novel, along with their chemistry, feel as authentic as the conflicts they face. A genuine plot filled with steady tension that will keep readers hooked.” RT Book Reviews

“This book sensitively covers topics such as sexism, handicapping conditions, communication, and ageism. Agency is also shown when Kristen says she wants to pursue studying in a conservatory rather than continue in the band and the three young men acknowledge her wish. Talking about what bothers us rather than trying to guess another person’s feelings is demonstrated through the actions of the characters. The characters’ issues are eventually resolved through hard work and understanding, making this an interesting and informative read. School Library Connection

Excerpt

Elijah took my hands. “Okay, look. Maybe you’re right. Maybe these people are taking this whole battle thing way too seriously. If you’re scared, then we’ll stop. No more posts except for appearance information.”

“So no more battle of the sexes, no more make Kris scream?”

He held up his hand. “Swear to God.”

“Okay.” I sighed in relief. “You’d really do that?”

He leaned closer and repeated the vow. “I promise, Kris.”

And just like that, I forgot why I was mad at him. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even blink because I was afraid he’d let go. This was the part of him I adored. I clung to him for a long moment, and when his gaze drifted to my mouth, I wondered if—hoped—prayed—he’d finally kiss me.

And then, Etta’s voice suddenly spoke inside my head. “Well, my God, darling, it’s the twenty-first century. What on earth are you waiting for? You can kiss him.”

I could. Yes. Yes, I could just lift my head and lean in and kiss Elijah Hamilton like it was a normal, ordinary occurrence.

Right. Like kissing Elijah Hamilton would ever be ordinary?

I’d watched him kiss that girl at the mall and was sure I’d memorized all the steps in his routine. He’d move in, grip my face between his hands, run his thumb along my jaw, and finally, glide his arm down around my body, pulling me against his own, all the while, peeking through his lashes to see if I enjoyed it.

I wasn’t sure when I decided—even what made me decide. I just touched my lips to his and waited.

It took a second or two. But then there was a sudden, tiny squeak from him, and I felt the pulse in his wrist leap under my fingertips.

And then, his hands were in my hair, angling my head just the way he liked it, his tongue brushing against mine, so soft it might have been my imagination…except imaginary kisses were never so intense. He kissed me like I was a song he wrote, lips wrapped around every word until it hummed with hidden meaning and promise, and his hands held me the way they held his guitar—like the music would stop if he let me go.

Copyright © The Way It Hurts by Patty Blount 2017

About the Author

Native New Yorker Patty Blount is the award-winning author of several critically acclaimed internet issues novels for teens as well as a few adult contemporary romances. She is inspired to write by such greats as Judy Blume, JK Rowling, and Gayle Forman. In fact, Judy Blume is the reason Patty elected to write under her real name…so she’d appear on shelves next to her idol. Patty adores writing; she’s written everything from technical manuals to song lyrics (see THE WAY IT HURTS, coming August 2017). Patty wants you to know she loves chocolate…really, really loves chocolate.

When not crushing on actors Gilles Marini or Sam Heughan, Patty can be found sitting in traffic somewhere on the Long Island Expressway, listening to audio books or talking wildly to herself about plots and characters. Prone to falling madly in love with fictional characters, Patty suffers frequent broken hearts when they all invariably prefer the heroine to her… go figure. When she’s not writing, Patty loves to watch bad sci-fi movies and live tweet the hilarity, and scour Pinterest for ideas on awesome bookcases. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that, sadly, lacks bookcases.

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Giveaway

Patty Blount is offering one (1) lucky winner a $50 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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Posted in Book Release, Dystopian, excerpt on August 3, 2017

Title:  Interpretation
Author:  Dylan Callens
Publisher:  Cosmic Teapot Publishing
Word Count:  60,000

Synopsis

Carl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster.

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above.

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

Excerpt

Carl closed his eyes and tried to laugh at himself.  Barely a squeak left his mouth.  What was he thinking, trying to enter this godforsaken wasteland by himself with no supplies?  Still on his back, he dreamed about opening a bottle of Ocean Surge.  Wet bubbles danced against his tongue, bathing his taste buds with refreshing fruit-infusion – small bursts of happiness made his lips sing an ode to joy.

But forget that fantasy; sulfur-ridden tap water would be just as good.  Carl knew the taste would not equate, but its effect would invigorate.  Carl smiled, his eyes wide open, staring into the dimming sky, into the nothingness that surrounded him.  Gulp after glorious gulp of imaginary liquid until he couldn’t keep up, showering his face with it until a puddle formed around him.  That puddle turned into an ocean and Carl sank to the bottom, his faint breath weakening further.  The light grew dimmer.  He tried to reach up, to reach out of the depths of his hallucination, but his arms felt too heavy, as if the pressure at this depth couldn’t be overcome.

A shadow hovered over him.  Carl tried to speak to it, but words didn’t make sense.  The shadow spoke back with a meaningless, muffled slur.  Water entered Carl’s mouth, nearly choking him.  Nonetheless, the delicious wet felt so good, like ocean refreshment in every bottle.  That was the slogan, right?  Carl laughed or cried, he couldn’t tell.  For all he knew, he was dead.  The shadow grew, saying something that he couldn’t work his mind around.  Darker. Darker.  Clock, what the hell was that clock song?  Darker. The shadow drew nearer.  Or maybe it was the darkness.  It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, And was always his treasure and pride… Ah yes, there it is.  But it stopped short – never to go again – When the old man died.  That’s the one.  Darkness.

About the Author

Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, paranormal, romance on August 2, 2017

Third in Ashlyn Chase’s light paranormal romance series featuring hot dragon shifters. No one would believe that lovely Lt. Kristine Scott of the NY Fire Department is an actual dragon, but there’s no denying the flames that ignite when she meets firefighting phoenix shifter Jayce Fierro.

Synopsis

One Boston Phoenix + One New York Dragon = Scorching Heat

You think it’s tough being a dragon? It’s a piece of cake compared to being a phoenix shifter. Dragon shifters just have to worry about accidentally setting their stuff (or a loved one) on fire. A phoenix can rise from the ashes, but then they have to start over…as if growing up once wasn’t tough enough..

Meet Lt. Jayce Fierro of the Boston Fire Department, and Kristine Scott of the FDNY. A long distance relationship could never work—especially not with the secrets they’re keeping. But when Kristine lands herself in a blaze of trouble, she’s in no position to turn down Jayce’s help. Even if it means letting down their guards…and giving in to their sizzling attraction.

Boston Dragons:

I Dream of Dragons (Book 1)

My Wild Irish Dragon (Book 2)

Never Dare a Dragon (Book 3)

AmazonB&NiBooksBAM

Excerpt

The rest of the dinner went well. In fact, Kristine was surprised by how well it was going. She hadn’t dated a guy like Jayce in a long time. Their connection seemed to be almost instantaneous. It was just too bad he was a firefighter—and lived three hours away as the Acela train flies. Actually, a quick plane ride would reduce the commute to only an hour and a half, but the hassle and time it took to go through security would make the trip even longer.

Walking down the wide sidewalks of Times Square, hand in hand, sure made her feel as if the trip might be worth the hassle. His hand was warm and rough. For once she wasn’t concerned that hers were the same way. No hand cream could stand up to a firefighters’ routine. Wet gloves, rough weather, unbearable heat… All of that detracted from the soft, supple skin she longed for.

They had decided over dinner to visit the top of the Empire State Building. Jayce had never been there before, and Kristine had only visited with friends—never a date. It was supposed to be romantic. She’d never understood why. Probably because her cynical ex-boyfriend thought it was hokey. As she glanced over at Jayce, he glanced back, and they smiled. One thing she wasn’t seeing in him was a city dweller’s pessimism. Its absence was a refreshing change.

Eventually, they arrived at their destination, and as luck—or the stars aligning at the right moment—would have it, they stepped into an elevator with no one right behind them. The doors whooshed closed while they were still alone.

She spun toward Jayce with a hand over her mouth. “I guess that wasn’t very nice of me. I probably should have waited.”

He stepped right into her space. “I’m glad you didn’t.”

As the elevator began to ascend, he leaned in and captured her mouth with his firm lips. She looped her arms around his neck, and he pulled her close. She immediately opened her mouth, and their tongues found each other and swirled together. Kristine wasn’t at all sure her light-headed feeling was due to the elevator traveling so fast. Unfortunately, she felt as if she were falling instead.

Don’t think about it. Whatever happens happens… She seemed to have found a new mantra. She heard the ding of the elevator doors opening, and they were greeted by chuckles and a wolf whistle.

“Yeah, yeah…” Jayce said, but he was grinning and holding Kristine’s hand as they made their way off the elevator.

When they spotted a space at the building’s edge that was fairly deserted, they walked over to it with no hesitation.

“You’re not afraid of heights, I guess…” Jayce said to her.

She laughed. “I’d be in deep trouble if I were.” Not only was she a firefighter in a company that specialized in high-rises, but she was a full-fledged, fire-breathing, wing-soaring dragon. She could hover at this height and enjoy the view.

Speaking of enjoying the view…

Jayce turned his back on the dazzling city lights and kissed her knuckles as he stared into her eyes. She felt as if her insides were melting. A deep shimmer in his eyes must have been reflecting the lights. Or not. His eyes seemed to glow for a moment, and then he quickly turned back toward the city.

She took her first good look at the city lights as well. Dear Lord. At last she realized why people thought this place was romantic. At night, so many lights against the velvet black sky were more beautiful than Christmas. Some even seemed to twinkle like stars. Below, white headlights and red taillights trailed through the landscape, but the sounds of the city were far away.

A chilly breeze ruffled her hair. Jayce enveloped her in a side hug. If she felt a chill, it was forgotten in favor of his warm, strong body alongside hers. Everywhere they touched, merging heat radiated through her. Wow. How she’d missed this! Or had she ever had this feeling?

Good Lord, Kristine… Get ahold of yourself!

“So, Jayce… What do you think of the view from up here?”

He turned her toward him and said, “I think the view right in front of me is as beautiful as it gets.” Leaning in, he delivered another toe-curling kiss, and she realized she was a goner.

About the Author

Ashlyn Chase describes herself as an Almond Joy bar. A little nutty, a little flaky, but basically sweet, wanting only to give her readers a scrumptious, satisfying, experience.

She holds a degree in behavioral sciences, worked as a psychiatric RN for several years and spent a few more years working for the Red Cross. She credits her sense of humor to her former careers since comedy helped preserve whatever was left of her sanity. She is a multi-published, award-winning author of hot, humorous paranormal and contemporary romantic comedies.

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Giveaway

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Cozy, mystery, Review on August 2, 2017

Synopsis

Gertrude has been called a lot of things: a hoarder, an odd duck, and a crazy cat lady—but she’s never been called a gumshoe. Until now. When her neighbor goes missing, she can’t help but get involved, no matter how many people ask her not to.

Review

A shorter book but quite a quirky main character. Gertrude doesn’t seem to be the brightest bulb but manages to solve who murdered her neighbor…but not without putting herself in danger!

I like that Gertrude, while I don’t think she is a senior citizen, is older and uses a walker. This does make it little harder for her to get around. At one point she decides to climb a lattice trellis. I really don’t know what was going through her brain that she could do that if she has issues walking without a walker! But it just adds to the humor of the book.

This will be a funny cozy series for sure.  We give it 3 1/2 paws

About the Author

Robin Merrill is an award-winning writer and performance poet from rural central Maine where she lives with her husband, their two children, and several furry friends. She is the author of several books, and her individual poems, essays, and short stories have appeared in hundreds of publications.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Western on August 1, 2017

Title: Tougher in Texas

Series: Texas Rodeo #2

Author: Kari Lynn Dell

Pub Date: August 1, 2017

ISBN: 9781492632009

Synopsis

He’s got five rules

And she’s aiming to break them all

Rodeo producer Cole Jacobs has his hands full running Jacobs Livestock. He can’t afford to lose a single cowboy, so when Cousin Violet offers to send along a more-than-capable replacement, he’s got no choice but to accept. He expects a grizzled Texas good ol’ boy.

He gets Shawnee Pickett.

Wild and outspoken, ruthlessly self-reliant, Shawnee’s not looking for anything but a good time. It doesn’t matter how quickly the tall, dark and intense cowboy gets under her skin—Cole deserves something real, and Shawnee can’t promise him forever. Life’s got a way of kicking her in the teeth, and she’s got her bags packed before tragedy can knock her down. Too bad Cole’s not the type to give up when the going gets tough…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | iTunes | Kobo | Chapters

My Favorite Fictional Cowboys – Serving Up the Eye Candy

You won’t find a lot of classically beautiful women or men in my books, and even when they are (I’m looking at you Delon, in Tangled in Texas) I shy away from putting a huge amount of emphasis on looks as the basis of attraction. Sure, we all get our heads turned by a pretty face, and my characters definitely notice the fit of a good pair of jeans, but lasting love comes from being irresistibly compelled by who a person is, down deep in their bones, and shared interests and values that are expressed in actions, not just sweet words.

However, I am not averse to an occasional heaping helping of eye candy, which is exactly what you get in the king of country music’s one and only shot at acting, the movie Pure Country. Yes, I know. There’s a reason directors weren’t beating George Strait’s door down afterward—as he’s happy to admit—and the plot is a wee bit thin in spots. But the music is outstanding and the roping scenes are absolutely true to life, including the fact that George is a roper so that was him on that really nice sorrel horse. Who cares if he can act? I’m happy to just settle in with my popcorn and pretend he’s aiming those Aw, shucks smiles at me.

And then there’s Maverick, either the 1950’s television series starring James Garner or the 90’s movie with Mel Gibson. Talk about some killer smiles, and both versions are a boatload of fun as card shark Bret Maverick finagles himself into and out of constant trouble. I know we’re not supposed to swoon over Mel Gibson anymore but I’m giving this one a pre-implosion exemption because it also stars my favorite Native American actor, Graham Greene, who steals every scene as the chief whose tribe survives by conning white men who want a taste of the older, wilder west, and Jody Foster as a charming, faithless, conniving woman who I want to be when I grow up.

And now an excerpt from Tougher in Texas, in which Shawnee inadvertently gives Cole a real eyeful.

***

Shawnee hauled the gray horse around to face her yet again and they both paused to take a few heaving breaths. Sweat dripped from her eyebrows, soaked the strands of hair that escaped the wad on top of her head, and ran down to make muddy tracks in the dust coating her neck and arms. She was puffing like a freight train from alternately chasing and dragging the colt.

Then something caught his eye and he tried to stampede.

Shawnee swore, dragged him to a stop, and shot a glare over her shoulder. Cole Jacobs stood, arms folded on the top rail of the gate, his canine minion planted beside his feet.

“What?” she snapped.

“It’s almost eight o’clock.”

“So?”

“We run tonight’s stock through the arena at eight.”

The gray whinnied and sidled toward where his buddy was dozing on the other side of the fence. Shawnee yanked him around to face her. “I’ll get out of your way as soon as Butthead here settles down and pays attention.”

“It’s almost eight o’clock,” Cole repeated, his voice sharpening with impatience.

“You can’t wait half an hour?” She scrubbed at her sweaty forehead with the back of one grungy hand. “It’s not like it’ll get that much hotter.”

His face took on the obstinate, ain’t-gonna-budge look that invariably goaded her into saying something rude so he’d get all stiff-necked and walk away. Yeah, she knew Cole had legitimate issues. Join the worldwide club.

“We always work the stock at eight,” he said.

“And what, they turn into four-legged pumpkins at the stroke of nine?”

He scowled so ferociously his brows pulled into a single dark line. “I have a schedule. I like to stick to it.”

“I’ll be sure I’m out of your way in the future.”

He just stood there, glaring at her. The dog glared, too.

Shawnee matched their heat and turned it up a few kilowatts. “I’m not leaving this arena until I’m done.”

The furrows around his mouth deepened. “We can’t work around you.”

“Then wait.” The gray tried to take advantage of her distraction. She jerked on the line to set him straight, then turned her glare back to Cole. “You of all people should know that when a horse picks a fight, you can’t quit until you win. Otherwise, you’re just teaching him to be an asshole. If you want to speed things up, take Butthead over there to the trailer where this mothered-up son of a bitch can’t see him.”

“I thought that one was Butthead.”

She blew out a loud, exasperated breath. “They’re all buttheads when I get them. As soon as they stop being buttheads I sell them, so there’s no sense wasting time with names.”

Cole frowned, probably debating whether to bodily remove her from the arena. No doubt he could, but she’d get in a few shots in the process. Finally he gave a single, curt nod and turned to untie the other horse and lead it away, Katie marching along beside him. Christ. Even his dog had a stick up her ass.

Shawnee glared after them for a couple of beats, then gave the gray her undivided attention. “It’s just you and me, fleabag, and you don’t even want to know how long I can keep this up.”

By the time Cole came back, she had sweated out another gallon of fluids, but she had the horse trotting passable circles. She stepped out and flicked the line. The gray paused, then swung around to circle the other way. Intensely aware that Cole was watching every move, she worked the horse back and forth, made him stop, face, back a few steps, then start again.

Showing off, just a little.

Satisfied, she stopped the gray, brought him around to face, then walked up to rub his dripping forelock. She could feel sweat running down the crack of her ass, soaking the seat of her jeans. “Next time, you’ll know better.”

The gray dropped his head and whuffled as if in agreement.

She turned toward the gate and found Cole staring at her as if he’d never seen the likes of it. His eyes remained glued to her as he stepped back and swung open the gate.

“Thank you for your patience,” she said sweetly, tossing him a mocking smile as she passed.

“Shawnee?”

“Yeah?”

“You should change shirts before you run into anybody else,” he said, then strolled into the arena, closing the gate behind him.

She glanced down. Her white T-shirt was soaked through with sweat, her nipples clearly visible through equally soggy white spandex. Damn bargain rack sports bra. She considered being embarrassed, then shrugged. Wasn’t like it was the first time someone had seen her in a wet T-shirt, and she wasn’t even dancing on a bar.

Then another thought struck and she huffed out a self-deprecating laugh. She’d been so sure Cole was in awe of her mad horse-training skills, and the whole time he was just staring at her tits.

She laughed again and started for her trailer, keeping the horse between her and a trio of committeemen chatting in the shade of the grandstand in the interests of public decency. Then again, they were good tits. They’d put a smile on more than one face. She should probably share the joy whenever possible, while she still had them. That shoe could drop at any time, especially now that she’d made it past thirty.

Cole, though—she shook her head. She’d figured him for the kind to toss her a towel and order her to cover up instead of hanging around to enjoy the view.

Huh. He might be human after all.

 

About the Author

Kari Lynn Dell is a ranch-raised Montana cowgirl who attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in her parents’ bunkhouse along with her husband, her son, and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on her lawn, Glacier National Park on her doorstep and Canada within spitting distance. Her debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was published in 2015. She also writes a ranch and rodeo humor column for several regional newspapers and a national agricultural publication.

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Giveaway

Three bundles of the first three Texas Rodeo books (Reckless in Texas, Tangled in Texas, Tougher in Texas)
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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, romance on August 1, 2017

Synopsis

Prince Diego Navarro is the “spare” to his brother’s “heir”. While Raoul performs his crown prince duties with the appropriate sense of nobility and poise, Diego’s garnered a bit of a reputation as a playboy – despite the good he does behind the scenes with his favorite charities.

But when tragedy strikes and his sister-in-law is killed in a car accident, Diego knows it’s time for the playboy to step up. If not for his brother, then for his niece and nephew, who now find themselves without a mother.

Which is where Rose Walters comes in.

Rose isn’t intimidated by money or glitz. The veteran nanny has worked for the rich and minimally famous, but a manor house is no comparison to a castle… or the handsome princes who live there. However, the worst thing she could possibly do is fall for the gorgeous playboy with a surprising heart of gold. He’s a prince; she’s the help. He lives in the tabloids; she loves her privacy. But when her two darling charges start to play matchmaker, Diego and Rose don’t stand a chance.

The Playboy Prince and the Nanny is the first book in Donna Alward’s royal duology.

B&N Nook * Google Play * Kindle * Kobo * eBooks.com * iBooks

 

Five Surprising Facts about Diego Navarro

  1. His best friend is an Irishman (Ryan) who occasionally lends his security talents to Diego’s endeavors. Ryan also has a younger sister, Brenna, whom Diego will never date unless he wants to have his legs broken.
  2. He has a degree in European History, which he rarely uses, and a keen mind for bargaining, which he uses frequently when managing the Navarro stables and polo stock.
  3. Despite being part of a centuries-old patriarchy, he’s a feminist and has a foundation dedicated to the education and training of African women to provide for themselves and their families.
  4. His favorite dessert is sticky toffee pudding.
  5. He loved his nanny, Mariana, dearly. When Rose arrives at the palace to care for his niece and nephew, he sees the same qualities he loved in Mariana: kindness, compassion, discipline, affection. What he doesn’t see: their difference in status.

Excerpt

From CHAPTER ONE

The noise and hubbub in the West Sussex pub was so deafening that Diego nearly missed the silent flash of the Breaking News banner across the TV behind the bar.

But he saw it out of the corner of his eye. Frowned. Turned his head away for a moment, then felt a queer lift in his gut, like something was very, very wrong.

“Diego. Hey, Diego.” His pal Ryan elbowed him in the arm. “Shite. You’d better look at this, mate.”

He turned back to the screen and the lift in his stomach dropped to his feet.

The headline scrolled along the bottom of the screen. White words against a blue background, innocuous compared to the aerial view of the scene. He didn’t need to read the banner to recognize the mangled car, one of the black limousines his father insisted they ride in when home in Marazur. If there was any doubt, it was banished by an up-close shot of a small red and yellow flag with the green coat of arms hanging limply from the front corner of the crushed vehicle.

“Diego.” Ryan’s voice was gentler now, his hand resting on Diego’s arm rather than elbowing him roughly. “It’s not your da. Or your brother.”

Diego dragged his gaze to the flash along the bottom of the screen. No, it wasn’t his father or his brother. There was no need for Diego to worry about them, or who was next in line for the throne. But tears stung his eyes as he read the names: Cecilia Navarro. Mariana Cortez.

His sister-in-law, and the nanny to his niece and nephew.

His phone buzzed. It had been doing that all night and he’d chosen to ignore it, wanting to avoid another argument with his father and spend the evening kicking back with his friends to celebrate the start of the UK polo season. Now he felt unbearably guilty as he pulled his mobile out of his pocket and looked at the screen.

Lucy, or rather, Princess Luciana. His half-sister, who he knew was visiting Marazur right now on one of her biannual trips. He took a deep breath, then hit the talk button. “Give me two seconds to go outside where it’s quiet,” he said loudly.

Leaving the gruesome news report behind, he pushed himself away from the bar and weaved his way through people until he reached the door. Outside, the English spring evening was gentle and mild. He closed his eyes and let out a breath.

“How bad is it, Luce?”

“Bad.” In that one word he could tell she’d been crying. Oh God . . .

“Ceci?”

“Gone, Diego.” Her voice caught on a sob. “Mariana too.”

For once the news had it right. His sister-in-law and Mariana—the nanny to his niece and nephew. His heart stuttered. He’d hoped there’d been a mistake. The paparazzi couldn’t be trusted with the truth, as he well knew. What a time for them to be right.

“The children?” he asked as he said a silent prayer that they hadn’t been in the car. He couldn’t think about Max and Emilia too much; he kept them at the edge of his mind and heart right now. The thought of losing them was terrifying and he steeled himself against the emotion.

“Bruised. Scared. But alive.”

He let out his breath, felt a sob escape, and gulped it back. He couldn’t lose his grip.

“We tried calling you for the last hour,” she said. “Your brother . . .”

His brother would be a wreck and expectedly so. His wife had just died. Perhaps a lot of royal marriages weren’t based on love, but Raoul’s had been. He’d doted on Ceci and the kids. Mariana, too, had been like part of the family. Hell, she’d been with the palace since . . .

Since Diego and Raoul had lost their own mother nearly twenty-five years ago. Mariana had raised them. She treated Raoul and Ceci’s children like grandkids. Grief struck him, sharp and sure, a painful ache around his heart. Mariana had been family.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, pressing the fingers of his left hand to his temple. Those were two words he said often when it came to his family. Now, though, he really meant them. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I know you will,” she said gently. Of the whole family, Lucy was the one who was easiest on him, who understood him best. Maybe because she hadn’t been raised in Marazur. It afforded her a clarity that others didn’t have. “I’m so glad I’m here right now. Papa . . .” Her voice broke again.

“Is Brody there with you?” Lucy and her family made their home in Canada, on Brody’s ranch, but visited often. Right now Diego found himself beyond thankful that she was there now to help his father and brother navigate the next few days. Papa would know what to do . . . he’d been here before.

A man shouldn’t have to face this kind of tragedy more than once in a lifetime.

“Brody’s here. He’s looking after Alex now so I can be there for Raoul and Papa.”

Lucy would be keeping everyone cared for and fed and nurtured, because that’s what she did. Diego rested his shoulders against the brick wall of the pub and sighed. Raoul, the crown prince, the responsible ruler-to-be, fair and just. Lucy, the mothering figure who cared for the family’s simpler but no less important needs. And then there was Diego. Where did he fit? In the stables. At parties. In fast cars.

In other countries. With firm admonishment to not be an embarrassment to the family.

“Diego?”

“I’m here. I’m going to go, though, Lucy. I need to make travel plans. I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“What should I tell Papa and Raoul?”

“Nothing. I mean, just tell them you were able to reach me. I’ll look after the rest.”

There was a pause and Diego wondered if his sister was making that terrible disapproving face he hated or if she was simply emotional.

About the Author

A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters plus the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her romance career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She is the author of Somebody Like You, Somebody’s Baby, and Someone to Love.

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