BTS Book Reviews October 2013
Your Guide to Great Reading - Featuring Kristen Painter, plus columns, book reviews, featured authors, sneak peeks and more!
www.wildchildpublishing.com | BTS Book Reviews | October 2013 | CONTENTS CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL Featuring: Michelle McLean Christina Ricci Michael Helms 21 Book Reviews EROTIC 13 Featuring: Elodie Parkes Book Reviews 37 SCI FI & FANTASY Book Reviews 63 Alexandra Ivy Diane Duvall Sultry Summers Victoria Dannan Katie Reus Sarah Gilman Harry Shannon PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE Featuring: 71 KRISTEN PAINTER House of Comarre Series 4 | www.BTSeMag.com Book Reviews YOUNG & NEW ADULT Book Reviews 101 COLUMNS The Lowdown with Laurie 9 Paranormal Romance vs. Urban Fantasy Can’t tell the difference between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy? Well, please keep reading, and hopefully by the time you’re done, you’ll be able to see the difference... SHORT STORIES & SERIALS Chic Trends in Romance 33 Paranormal Romance: Get Sexy With Creatures that go Bump in the Night Do you have a thirst for the unusual? Do you love settings where creatures lurk, time warps, the dead come to life, superheroes walk among us, and wild animals look and act human... 93 “This damn economy, these vamps is the only thing makes the carnival profitable,” said “Colonel” Kearney as he guided his guest toward the main show tent. The line at the door was already fifty deep, even though the show wouldn’t begin for another half hour. “Everybody wants to see the last vampires on Earth.” Maura McMahon felt vastly overdressed. She’d had a hearing that ran late, and she’d had to drive straight from the courthouse out to the dirt parking area without changing from her suit. Coveralls would’ve been more appropriate or shorts and a loose top, but at least she’d had her flats.... The Heat Diva 39 Paranormally Pleasured It’s here at last! The most anticipated book release month for paranormal lovers is upon us and that means more demons, vampires, weres, shifters, and angels strut out to fulfill our need for the darker side of things. I have dished up a tantalizing menu... The Scrying Eye 73 The End of Things The curtain parts! The intrepid enter! The curious moan! The fearful whimper! But all are enthralled by the power of the Scrying Eye! It opens, and as you gaze into its depths, you come face to face with your own mortality. For today, the Scrying Eye sees... 57 I felt so hurt and confused over everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours. I honestly felt like I was ready to end things with Jack and give myself a fresh start away from the chaos that was clearly his life. Somehow once again though, he’d calmed me down, true to his charming ways... October 2013 | 5 From the Desk of Myra Nour BTS CEO BTS Book Reviews Book & Trailer Showcase Fall is here and nothing is as lovely as taking a walk when the air is cool and brisk. When you feel like cuddling up with a good book, there are many to choose from in our magazine. Also, new on our website are two places where you can find many choices in good reads. Free Book Depository: Free short stories and books Book Bargain: Books priced for $2.99 & below The September Bloghop shot off with success. We had 113 bloggers join us and 45 co-sponsors. I want to thank everyone who participated and I hope you enjoyed the hop. The Grand Prize winner of a Kindle Fire or Nook HD will be announced on the website and in the November issue. Be sure and check out Angela Knight’s Wicked Warriors Halloween Hop. See details at: http://btsemag.com/contests/ wicked-warriors-halloween-hop/. We are co-hosting with Angela and the Grand Prize is a Kindle Paperwhite. Then in November, we’ll be co-hosting the hop with Freya’s Bower, and the Grand Prize is $200. This will come in handy for one lucky winner just in time for Christmas shopping.:) Details at: http://btsemag.com/contests/november-blog-hop/. Check out the interviews on our website. We’ve already interviewed Melissa Bourbon, Dorothy Bell, Julie Shelton, Tracy March, & S.R. Howen, and more to come. To schedule your interview, write Christy@btsemag.com. Please remember to give us a like at: https://www.facebook.com/BtsBookReviews. To follow us at Twitter: https://twitter.com/BTShowcase. Executive Coordinator Myra Nour Executive Designer Dawn Seewer Designer/Scheduler Christina Wilhelm Designer/ Review Team Assistant Nikki McCarver Designer Mike Milliken Editor Sheri Kraft Associate Editor Kellyann Zuzulo Review Coordinator Annette Stone Promotions Coordinator/ Review Team Assistant Grinelda Markowitz Author Liaison Leslie Ferdinand REVIEWERS: Annette Stone, Nikki McCarver, Grinelda Markowitz, Angelique Elgelbrecht, Drue DePompei-Hoffman, Francine Alli, Leslie Ferdinand, Lynda K. Frazier, Marie Haney, Kimberly Klemm, Niina C, Rachel Flash, Rhonda Dennis, Stephanie Phillips, Susan Frances, Michele Biring-Pani, Sally Manson, Krissy Malott, Shelly Schulz, Desiree Reilly, Nila Bi, Shan McKinney, Shelly Hammond, Beckey White, Iris Montalvo Pross, Patricia Costa Melo, Gypsie Holley, Anita Rivers, Cassandra Graham, Tim Davis, Gayle Pace, Abbie Foxton, Nicky Peacock, Michelle Willms, Dianne Solberg, Julie L Canfield, Michele Page, Tobyann Aparisi, Adesh Rampat, Jacqueline Driggers, Danielle S., Susan Arden, Taunya Wells, Crystal Guidroz COLUMNISTS: Sandra Bunino, Christy English, Laurie Garrison, Kelly Hudson, Nikki McCarver, Nicole Morgan WEBSITE: BTSeMag.com EMAIL: info@BTSeMag.com Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/BtsBookReviews No material in this magazine can be used or copied without BTS or the author’s permission. © Copyright 2013. BTSeMag, BTS Book Reviews, All Rights Reserved. By submitting material to BTS Book Reviews or its affiliates, authors certify they own the rights to all published information. October 2013 | 7 The Lowdown with Laurie Laurie Garrison vs. Paranormal Romance Urban Fantasy Can’t tell the difference between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy? Well, please keep reading. Hopefully, by the time you’re done, you’ll be able to see the difference. All Urban Fantasy stories contain supernatural elements. Urban Fantasy settings can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic times, but the setting must be in a city. These stories host all paranormal creatures, meaning anything from fey to vampires. Urban Fantasy books have one point of view, which is usually a kick-ass heroine. You will sometimes find sex or a touch of romance, but you won’t find the romance as the main focus as you do in romance books. Urban Fantasy books do not have Happy Ever After (HEA) endings. They can just keep going and going until the author decides to cut it off. The author can also kill off the main characters without notice. Now there are those few Urban Fantasy books that come very close to being Paranormal Romance. One series that does that is Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series. This series has a kick-butt heroine named Cat who sticks with | Lowdown with Laurie | a guy named Bones throughout all of the books. They do have a romance during the series, but their romance is never the main focus, and they never have an HEA ending. It’s always a Happy for Now at the end, leaving you never really knowing what’s going to happen next. Paranormal Romance readers sometimes find themselves loving these types of books because they like the idea of having both Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance mixed together. But stories like this are still considered Urban Fantasy not Paranormal Romance. Paranormal Romance stories also contain supernatural elements. Their settings can also take place in historical, modern, or futuristic times and in the city. Since Romance is the main genre, the stories must have an HEA ending, and the main focus has to be on the romance building between the hero and heroine throughout the book. This focus has to stay above large story line plots or large world building. Still can’t tell the difference? Well, let’s look again between the two. I can give you two characteristics that Paranormal Romance has that Urban Fantasy doesn’t. These two characteristics are what separate the two genres. One is an HEA at the end, and the other is that romance is the main focus. See . . . how easy is that? Some readers think the fey and witches are only for Urban Fantasy, but that is incorrect. Both Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance will have all kinds of paranormal creatures. Neither is limited on what paranormal creature can go to what genre. I would also like to add as you’re labeling and tagging these books, that you please make sure you label and tag these two genres what they really are. I say this because there are many readers out there like me who don’t like reading Urban Fantasy. Yeah, yeah, I know I’m a baby, and I have to have the HEAs. LOL. Anyhoo, labels and tags help not only the authors but also readers in different ways as well. I’ll be going over labels and tags next month. So until then, happy reading, and please save a life and spay/neuter your pets. Hello, my name is Laurie. I’m a mom who found the love for reading again late in life. I opened a book review blog a few years back and have been nonstop since. My review blog has led me to do different things in the writing world, such as the opening of the Indie Romance Convention and this column. I live in Tennessee with my hubby, daughter, and lots of fur babies. bittenbyparanormalromance.com 10 | www.BTSeMag.com 12 | www.BTSeMag.com COVER feature AUTHOR SHOWCASE Comic Influence All my life, I’ve been in love with comic books. The art, the storylines, the characters, the bigger than life worlds of superheroes and heroines and how they interact with the ordinary, everyday people that inhabit those worlds alongside them. Two of my all-time favorite characters are Cloak and Dagger from the series by that same title, and they are the pair who perhaps were the most influential on my House of Comarré series. Cloak and Dagger had their roles thrust upon them. They didn’t choose their paths, weren’t born into their powers. They were the results of some experimentation gone wrong, actually. But using the other to temper what they’d become, they rose above what had been thrust upon them and did some good while at the same time keeping each other from completely disappearing into the creations they’d become. Cloak was the embodiment of darkness while Dagger was the embodiment of light. If you’ve read my House of Comarré series, and think you see shades of Mal and Chrysabelle in this, you’re dead on. I love the internal struggle of good vs evil, doing what’s right vs doing what’s easy, the play of light and dark and the way shadow sometimes takes over. That’s just so interesting to me in terms of how people deal with the hand life has dealt them, what they do with their talents and the reasons behind the choices they make. In the same way that Cloak and Dagger balanced each other, so do Mal and Chrysabelle. Book 1 Book 2 Book 3 Book 4 Book 5 Prequel | Cover Feature | They are opposite sides of the same coin, people who didn’t choose the life they’ve been given but are doing their best to survive it. And then they find each other and realize that they can do more than just get by. They can become more than who they are. I just love these kinds of stories and these kinds of characters. There is something so empowering when two people in desperate situations find each other and suddenly their situations aren’t so desperate that they can’t together make their world better. It’s not just about love, but about sacrifice and the willingness to be uncomfortable for the sake of someone else. I’d go as far as to say the triumph of the human spirit, but since I’m talking about non-human creatures, I’m not 100 percent sure that applies. Still, if that kind of story appeals to you too, you might want to check out the House of Comarré books starting with Blood Rights, the first book in the series. A little about me: I’m a former college English teacher, but I’ve held a crazy mix of other jobs including maitre’d for Wolfgang Puck, personal trainer, and sales for Christian Dior Bijoux. On the writing side of things, I’m a two-time Golden Heart finalist and have been on the board of three different RWA chapters. What can I say? I like getting involved. I’m not adverse to bossing people around either. I have a *slight* shoe addiction and occasionally indulge in an unnecessary handbag. Hah! That was a joke. There is no such thing as an unnecessary handbag. I love make up and jewelry and spa days. Yes, I’m a girly girl. But don’t think that makes me weak. I can (and do) kill off characters with the best of them. Speaking of which… My forays into writing have been as varied as the jobs I’ve held. I’ve written poetry, articles for magazines, short stories, paranormal romances (that include fantasy, contemporary and steampunk genres) and now I’ve found a home with urban fantasy. I love worldbuilding and few genres give you the kind of license urban fantasy does. I’m also the co-founder of the award-winning writer’s site Romancedivas.com. I tweet at twitter.com/Kristen_Painter more often than I should. You can also find me on my Facebook author page here: www.facebook.com/KristenPainterAuthor I live in FL with my retired Air Force husband and a horde of feline dependents. I’m represented by The Knight Agency. http://kristenpainter.com Retribution is a giftâ€Ś In the final showdown between the forces of dark and light, Mal and Chrysabelle face not only Tatiana, but the ancient evil that now controls her: the Castus Sanguis. Chrysabelle gathers her friends and family around her, forming a plan to bring an end to the chaos surrounding them. But the Castus is the most powerful being theyâ€™ve ever come up against. Defeating such evil will require a great sacrifice from someone on the side of light. One of them will change sides. One of them will die. No one will survive unscathed. Can Chrysabelle save those she cares about or will that love get her killed? What price is she willing to pay to draw last blood? Buy it now at B&N Buy it now at Amazon Quinn O’Bannon knows it’s time he settled down. He has two likely candidates, both sensible, attractive, young women. However, his fantasies keep straying to Tru McAdam, that thieving, sloeeyed vixen with the grudge against the whole darn O’Bannon family. Tru McAdam wants to believe the O’Bannons, all of them are rotten, heartless cheats. God help her, most of all she wants to believe the handsome, arrogant �lirt Quinn O’Bannon is the worst of the lot. When destiny shuf�les the cards, strange pairs show up in the hand. Who can �ight destiny, not the handsome, �lirtatious Quinn O’Bannon, not the thieving, sloe-eyed vixen, Tru McAdam. Royce O’Bannon plays the �iddle as a man possessed. Unlike his brother Quinn, Royce takes after his whisky-sodden, vengeful old man, Stanley O’Bannon, and de�iantly admits to being a reprobate, irredeemable in the eyes of good society, a lost cause bound to hang and burn in hell. He also �igures God hadn’t made the woman who could tame the beast that lurked deep down in his worthless Irish soul. No woman should have anything to do with him. Then one frosty night, at a town social, he sees her, the crippled goddess, Cleantha Arnaud, the schoolmaster’s daughter, a wounded bird, beautiful, fragile and way above his touch. With Cleantha accompanying him on the piano, keeping up with his unrelenting pace, they play jig after jig, waltz after waltz, schottische after schottische. Available now at Freya’s Bower, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes and All Romance eBooks. www.freyasbower.com the HAPPILY ever AFTER CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL Featured Authors, REVIEWS and more BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed 22 | www.BTSeMag.com CONTEMPORARY Uncharted Fate Cynthia Racette Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4 & HISTORICAL | book reviews | The Christmas He Loved Her Juliana Stone Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4 A young family’s lives are destroyed when the man of the house, Mike, is killed by a crazed criminal on his way home from work. Left virtually penniless, the family flounders under a mortgage suddenly too large, a teenage daughter so traumatized she becomes involved in drugs and stealing, and a younger son who believes it is his fault God took his father. Anna is now the head of a one parent family and must look for a job, with no experience and an irrelevant degree. Out of her element, out of money and without her first love, Anna struggles to cope. Jeff Thomas is a divorced detective who brings in Anna’s daughter Mallory when she’s caught shoplifting and then finds himself entangled in the family’s trouble. As times goes on, he realizes he’s also falling in love with Anna. Can he take Mike’s place in Anna’s life and in that of her family? Before Jeff has hardly begun to try, a dangerous situation threatens to determine the fate of the woman he’s come to love and Jeff is the one person who can save her. REVIEW: It was, really, really good. Fast paced and once you started, you couldn’t put it down. You felt Anna’s pain when she was told about her husband’s death and you felt for the kids, especially the youngest who thought it was his fault and you know it wasn’t. You rooted for them to find out who was behind the killing of the husband, and you rooted for Jeff and Anna once a suitable amount of time had passed (of course) and you knew that they would eventually get together. Definitely, a worthwhile read that you’ll enjoy. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham | All he wants this Christmas is her... In the small town of Crystal Lake, Christmas is a time for sledding, hot chocolate, and cozying up to the fire with those you love. For Jake Edwards, it’s also time to come home and face the music. He thought there would never be anything harder than losing his brother. Turns out there is: falling in love with his brother’s widow, Raine. Ever since they were little, Jesse was the Edwards brother who was always there for her, and Jake was the one who knew just how to push her buttons. Raine can’t imagine a life without them, which is why it was doubly decimating when Jake left town after his brother’s sudden death. Now he’s back and she doesn’t know whether to be mad or thrilled. Maybe both. Or maybe it will be the perfect chance for both of them to finally find happiness again. REVIEW: The Christmas He Loved Her is a part of the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series. As a holiday read, I think this is one of the best I’ve ever read. I absolutely loved Jake and Raine together, Jake is a man who wanted to get away from his past but the time has come to return home and face his ghosts. Raine is the widow of his dead brother. When he comes back to heal old wounds, he runs into Raine again and from the start you can feel the intensity between them. I suppose I have a thing for men with dark pasts because from the get go Jake won me over. Applause for Juliana Stone for writing such a wonderful novel, I can’t wait to read more of her Crystal Lake series. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott | October 2013 | 23 | CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | Always On My Mind Jill Shalvis Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3 Jack’s mom becomes ill and they concoct an idea that they are in a relationship together as a way to “perk” her up but what happens when emotions get involved. Especially when they both have “issues”, Jack’s fear of commitment and Leah’s fear of completing things. Ms. Shalvis does it again with another great installment in the Lucky Harbor series. The book was entertaining and an enjoyable treat read that I found myself not wanting to put the book down (Yeah, I stay up late one night reading this book…). Theme of each of the stories in this series is friends to lovers one that many can really enjoy. | Reviewer: Beckey White | After returning home, Leah Sullivan finds herself pretending to date her best friend. But Jack longs to make their fake relationship permanent. Do they know too much to risk falling in love? Or will Jack and Leah discover something new about each other in a little town called Lucky Harbor? REVIEW: Leah has come back to Lucky Harbor to help out at her grandmother’s pastry shop but she finds more when she comes home. By meeting up with a friend named Jack, the one person that Leah “ran” to when she was younger... 24 | www.BTSeMag.com | CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | Land of Falling Stars Keta Diablo Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4 After her parents die in a fire, Sophia Whitfield struggles to save her beloved home, Arbor Rose. The Civil War has devastated the South, and another blue coat has come to steal her meager possessions. Before the hated enemy inflicts his destruction, she shoots him . . . and then discovers the soldier is Gavin, the champion of her childhood. Gavin’s dark secret lurks in Sophia’s future. When she discovers the truth, she’s torn between a burning hunger for the man she truly loves and loyalty to Jesse, their childhood friend. The despicable acts of war have changed everything Sophia and Gavin once cherished. Yet somewhere deep in their hearts, the mystical Land of Falling Stars still exists. REVIEW: Interesting, realistic, and action-filled, Land of the Falling Stars is a creative, steamy romance set in the South during the civil war. Channeling the damsel in distress always being saved by her white knight theme, this novel is a perfect blend of intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts which culminates into a sweet conclusion. Keta Diablo writes in a surreal and reader-friendly tone, an eye for detail that transports the readers back in time with its descriptions, and laced with witty conversations that are amusing and entertaining. Strong, dynamic, and passionate characters develop well in a steady pace, despite second-guessing their own decisions. | Reviewer: Francine Alli | October 2013 | 25 | CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | Tempted in the Tropics Tracy March Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4 A Lady’s Secret Weapon Tracey Devlyn Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3.5 The only thing they agree on is the sultry heat between them. Nothing’s more important to Paige Ellerbee than her struggling bakery, Sweet Bee’s. When Lane Anderson, the temporary new doctor hot enough to rival McDreamy, moves in next door, though, she’s sure things are looking up. Until he threatens her business in their first conversation. Lane just wants to practice medicine responsibly—not argue with the flighty bakery owner next door. But when he finds himself traveling down to the Caribbean to play guitar for Paige’s best friend’s wedding, suddenly the sight of the blonde in a bikini eclipses the fact they can’t agree on anything. And as their vacation romance grows, his reservations about starting something after getting burned by love are washed away like sand on the beach. But once Paige and Lane land back home, will these polar opposites be able to forgive their feud and find lasting love? REVIEW: When a doctor comes to town to temporarily replace his uncle who’s on vacation, he inadvertently gets on the bad side of the owner of the bakery next door, because she’s been helping his uncle and he doesn’t want to get involved, because of a prior situation that had happened to him. They end up going to a wedding in St. Lucia and end with a truce and a couple of kisses and a few other things and having a really good time. You know, they’ll break up for a bit (he had to go back, he was only there for a month) and hopefully, come back together and that’s kind of what you want. It was good .The writing was enjoyable and the characters quite believable. Just go with it, it’s an enjoyable read none the less. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham | Seduction is His Duty to King and Country Ethan deBeau has charmed his way into the beds of countless women, enticing them to whisper all kinds of state secrets in his ear. But his latest assignment is completely different: find a missing young boy. It’s practically child’s play for a master spy such as Ethan. Until Miss Sydney Hunt threatens to unravel all his carefully laid plans. Who is the world is this woman? But Tempting Her is All for Pleasure 26 | www.BTSeMag.com | CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | that I suspect is going to turn into a wonderful romance series. It has all the best things a romance should have and the story of Callie & Dylan is not the same old stuff that has been recycled so much lately although yes he’s a god like billionaire and she is the underdog who captures his heart. | Reviewer: Drue A. Hoffman | Sydney has worked hard to maintain a facade of respectability—all while keeping a network of contacts among London’s underground world. When she hears of strange activities at a local home for orphans, she’s determined to find out what’s really going on. Until she runs headlong into a notorious rake eager to expose every inch of her.. REVIEW: A Lady’s Secret Weapon really wasn’t what I was expecting, it was better. A Lady’s Secret Weapon is like a spy thriller in a historical romance novel. The book is book 3 in her Nexus series but it can be read individually from the other books. Sydney and Ethan are fabulous together; both have egos and a fire together that match their personalities perfectly. The plot and excitement Tracey brings to her book gives it more of a thriller feel than a historical feel but it doesn’t take away at all from how well she developed London’s underworld. A spy and an informant join sides in a struggle to solve a mystery. A fun and exciting read from the first page to the last, Tracey Devlyn is fabulous. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott | Flirting with Danger Claire Baxter Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4 To be together is dangerous. To stay apart is impossible. Firefighter Jasmine Mackinnon has always just been one of the guys. So no one’s more shocked than she is to find herself kissing fellow firefighter and allaround sinfully handsome playboy Aaron Parkes after a friend’s wedding. Jasmine knows she can’t risk an emotional connection with a colleague—a potentially dangerous entanglement when fighting fires together—and nothing’s more important to her than her job. Aaron never noticed how beautiful Jasmine was until he saw her out of her firefighter duds, but there’s something about the fiery woman that tempts him. Though he knows pursuing a real relationship is out of the question for a serial dater like him, when their casual flirtation builds into something more serious, it’s not just their jobs or their safety on the line. It’s their hearts. REVIEW: Can two firefighters who work together, who sort of know each other really well, have a meaningful relationship? She knows a lot about him, he knows a lot about her, but they really, don’t know the other’s true secrets. Aaron is the “all-around womanizing stud” and Jasmine is determined not to be a part of his latest conquest. Things change at the wedding of a good friend, when they see each other out of their regular attire, and they get a shock. You rooted for them to actually and finally get together, because you knew they both wanted it, but both were scared that the other would reject them. If, you get a chance to read it, you’ll enjoy it. It’s really sweet and the conversations are believable and funny at times. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham | October 2013 | 27 The Teacher’s Billionaire Christina Tetreault Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3 Elementary school teacher, Callie Taylor’s life is turned upside down when she learns the truth about her birth following the death of her mother. Her father alive, and he’s none other than presidential candidate Senator Warren Sherbrooke. Billionaire & confirmed bachelor , Dylan Talbot, is devoted to his family. When his stepfather Warren Sherbrooke receives a letter from a past love telling him they have a daughter together, Dylan is instantly suspicious. In order to keep the media vultures away and protect Warren’s political aspirations, Dylan convinces Warren to let him handle the situation. Despite Callie’s fears and Dylan’s vow to never fall in love, the two of them can’t resist the feelings that blossom between them. However, when Callie learns the real reason he has been spending time with her their fledgling romance is put in jeopardy and only complete honesty can save it. REVIEW: The Teacher’s Billionaire is a charming easy read Author Interview How do you wind down from the demands of writing? The Teacher’s Billionaire Christina Tetreault I am not sure I ever truly wind down from writing. There always seems to be characters and plots running through my head. However, when I do step away from the process of putting words on paper I enjoy spending time with my husband, three daughters and dogs. I also love to read romance novels. Like most people I have my favorite authors, but I am always open to a new one. Finally, I find going to the gym helps me relax and boost my mood. Name one fictional couple you’d like to meet. Why? Now this is a difficult question because there are so many. Perhaps I would have to go with Georgina Andersen and James Malory from Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey. It was one of the first romance novels I ever read and it hooked me on the genre. What is your most and least favorite thing about writing? I love coming up with the ideas and the characters. There is something special about getting to know them and seeing them develop. My least favorite part is typing the rough draft into the computer. I write everything long hand and I always dread when it comes time to type. For the past two novels I have started using dragon diction but it is not perfect. Share one thing regarding your writing. I am a slow writer and so far I have not found a way to work on more than one story at a time. At some point in the future I hope to master this because I have so many ideas floating around that I want to share. Describe a day in the writing life of Christina Tetreault. Most days my writing time does not start until around eight or nine at night when the girls go to bed. With three daughters ages 6, 4, and 4 I don’t have much free time during the day. I usually write for about an hour or two. Sometimes on the weekends, especially during football season, I sneak out to the local Starbucks and write for a few hours while my husband and the girls watch the Patriots play. This September my twins are off to preschool 3 mornings a week so I hope to revise my current schedule so that I can get at least an extra six hours of writing in a week. I have my fingers crossed the plan will work. Pure romance to warm the heart When Callie Taylor learns the truth about her birth her life turned upside down, and she also meets the love of her life in billionaire Dylan Talbot. However, when Callie learns the real reason he’s been spending time with her their romance is put in jeopardy and only complete honesty can save it. I wrote my first story with characters similar to those in the Sweet Valley Twins books at the age of 10 on my grandmother’s manual typewriter. During my freshman year at UMass Dartmouth, I read my first romance novel and fell in love with the genre. I have been writing contemporary romance ever since. christinatetreault.com 28 | www.BTSeMag.com | CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | A Pretense to Love Aileen Fish Contemporary Historical Romance Heat Level: 1 An acceptance has been made. Jean knew that she wasn’t Ben’s first choice. But circumstances have him in a bind with his grandfather on his “deathbed” and no one expecting him to live past a fortnight to a month at max. Something happened to Ben (& possible Jean as well) during that time together and it takes Ben several month to come after Jean. The elusive feeling that Ben is unsure of is something that Ben has ever felt. Desire. But will Ben ever come to his sense and knowledge what he wants to Jean. The story has POVs of both Ben and Jean which made this a well-rounded good story that I enjoyed. The banter between Ben and Jean was delightful and cheeky to say to the least. Overall a sweet historical contemporary romance story that will have some saying “Awe” as they read the last couple of pages. | Reviewer: Beckey White | Twenty-two-year-old Miss Jean Seaton’s best chance of finding a husband is behind her. When her brother’s friend offers to pay for a Season in London in exchange for pretending to be his betrothed, she sees it as a miracle. Ben needs a fiancée to convince his dying grandfather that he has settled down and is capable of inheriting and running his business and estate. But he didn’t consider how spending six weeks with Jean would make her necessary to his happiness. Now she’s in London and he’s in agony. A gentleman never reneges on an agreement…unless his heart is broken. REVIEW: A deal has been struck. October 2013 | 29 | CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby life. Quite innocently seven-year-old Debby, stumbles upon her father’s secret on a summer night in 1957. She confronts her father with the awful truth. Justin is touched by her concern and offer of help. REVIEW: Diane Craver chronicles an inspiring tale anchored by the strong ties and nurturing powers of being in a family. The heartwarming story is ideal for young adults to show them the love which families have the potential of fostering in their members and passing along through the generations. The lead character Debra Reeves wasn’t planned by her parents but she is the gift her family needed. As the youngest child with three older siblings, she becomes her family’s beacon trusting in her Christian faith and voicing her feelings candidly without guise. Written in first person, Debra’s childhood recollections are relatable to audiences broaching everyday activities such as making homemade ice cream and being vaccinated. Set in the late 1950’s, the story has a timeless message regarding the affection parents have for their children and the guidance children can give to their parents. | Reviewer: Susan Frances | Carolyn Brown Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3 ‘Tis the season for... A pistol-totin’ woman who’s no angel A tough rancher who doesn’t believe in miracles Love that warms the coldest nights After a year in Kuwait, Lucas Allen can’t wait to get back to his ranch for Christmas and meet his gorgeous Internet pal in person. When he pulls in, there’s Natalie Clark right in his front yard with a pink pistol in her hand and a dead coyote at her feet. Lucas is unfazed. But wait...is that a BABY in her arms? REVIEW: I really wanted to like this novel more than I did, but I suppose the context of the story really irritated me. From the get go I did not like Natalie at all and that continued well into the book. Her personality really grated on my nerves pretty much through the entire thing. From the beginning I really liked Lucas and I felt bad for him for Natalie’s dishonesty and manipulation. Sure Natalie’s personality began to change toward the end of the book but by then I felt it was too late for her to make up for the rest of it, which made it difficult for me to really get into the book whole heartedly. It’s still a decent book and worth reading but for me - it wasn’t one of my favorites. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott | Betting It All Cate Masters Historical Romance Heat Level: 2 With its anything-goes atmosphere, 1906 San Francisco suits Irishman Gerard MacKenzie just fine. He loves tending bar in Norah’s saloon. Disaster looms over their promising new lives when a terrible earthquake buries their dreams and threatens to shatter their future. Norah and Mac must rebuild their lives from the ruins and they’ll need each other more than ever, but can their ties to each other save them or tear them apart? REVIEW: Masters brings together two characters from very different backgrounds that share the same goal and compliment each other perfectly. Possessing the ambition and entrepreneurial skills of a go-getter, Norah Hawkins is driven to own and operate a high class saloon. A Ragtime piano player with the soul of a romantic, Gerard “Mac” MacKenzie travels to San Francisco to launch himself as a professional musician. A fateful meeting on a westbound train brings Norah and Mac together. The story takes off entrenching the reader in the pair’s struggles with adversarial forces and natural disasters like the earthquake of 1909. A Gift Forever Diane Craver Inspirational Heat Level: 1 Justin Reeves is a man who has it all: a good job, a loving wife and children who are the center of his universe. Justin also has a secret he’s hidden from everyone his entire 30 | www.BTSeMag.com | CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL book reviews | Set at the turn of the century, Masters shows a good handle of the time frame, its social strictures and the mindset of its people. The fluid narration holds the reader’s interest inciting its audience to cheer for this pair as they turn to each other to stay afloat. | Reviewer: Susan Frances | head-on when Ewan McTavish exploits Scot’s Canon law to claim Yvette Stapleton as his lawful wife—without the benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious when she discovers the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” REVIEW: Typical of the historical romance genre, the story has a heroine who is a gentle maiden and a hero who takes matters into his own hands coaxing the maiden into matrimony. Colette Cameron pays a great deal of attention to the details of her characters clothes, their manners and language all appropriate for Regency England. An heiress, Yvette Stapleton is practical when it comes to making choices. Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick is protective of those he cares about tending to their comfort. Both are likeable but the interaction between the characters is hard to imagine making the story feel contrived. Parts linger longer than is necessary sometimes at the expense of the reader losing the main objective of the hero and heroine. The story is spiked by elements of espionage and conspiracy which seem out of place in the backdrop of a romance that is lukewarm and tamed. | Reviewer: Susan Frances | Highlander’s Hope Collete Cameron Historical Romance Heat Rating: 2 A beautiful heiress, disdainful of marriage, and handsome lord determined to make her his own, clash October 2013 | 31 An Insider’s View Of Blood and Brothers E. Michael Helms Of Blood and Brothers was based on a true story of two southern brothers who unintentionally found themselves serving in opposing armies during America’s Civil War. The brothers were from the Florida Panhandle, an area near where I grew up. As a boy, I remember hearing about the Malburn family (not their real name), and used to go camping and canoeing on a nearby river, and had been to small family cemeteries where they and some of their friends (who I used as characters in the novel) were buried. I thought about the brothers often, and wondered how and why they fought on opposite sides during the war, and what it must have been like for their families and friends. My imagination would take off, and different scenarios played out in my mind. I’d always been interested in history and the Civil War, and through the years I found myself still thinking about the brothers and their family with unanswered questions racing through my mind. Many years after serving as a U.S. Marine in combat in Vietnam I began writing. My journaling turned into my first book, The Proud Bastards, a memoir of my tour in Vietnam. After that I discovered I had a muse, and characters started talking to me, wanting their stories to be told. Still fascinated with the Malburn brothers I began researching them, their military records, and the battles they fought in. I read up on the family, and tried to find out how the brothers’ service might have affected them. Of Blood and Brothers took shape slowly at first because of all the research, but then the Malburns began talking to me and telling me their stories. A novel of the Civil War From the author of The Proud Bastards comes a tale of two southern brothers who unintentionally find themselves serving in opposing armies during America’s Civil War. Ultimately there can be only one victor, on the field of battle and in the heart of the woman both love. E. Michael Helms joined the Marines after high school. His Vietnam memoir, The Proud Bastards, has been called “As powerful and compelling a battlefield memoir as any ever written.” His books include: Of Blood and Brothers (Books One and Two) and the mystery, Deadly Catch. He lives in South Carolina. emichaelhelms.com 32 | www.BTSeMag.com Chic Trends in Romance Sandra Bunino Paranormal Romances: Get Sexy with Creatures That Go Bump in the Night Do you have a thirst for the unusual? Do you love settings where creatures lurk, time warps, the dead come to life, superheroes walk among us, and wild animals look and act human? If you answered yes, you must be a paranormal fan! My go-to romance genre is contemporary, however, when I’m feeling especially wicked I turn to my paranormal shelf and I’m rarely disappointed. As the weather gets cooler, there’s something about getting lost in another world where characters are not limited to human rules and restrictions. Some paranormal romances are set in real life settings like the historic Kansas farmland ranch in Lila Shaw’s newest release, Wild West Succubus. However, readers soon learn Priscilla Goodnight is not an ordinary rancher . . . | Chic Trends in Romance | Wild West Succubus by Lila Shaw (Liquid Silver Books—now available) A woman damned . . . Priscilla Goodnight, a widow in the harsh Kansas frontier, has a cattle ranch to run. She can’t afford to reveal any cracks in her tough exterior or indulge in sexual liaisons with her ranch hands. But a hungry succubus can only exercise so much selfrestraint, making discretion, disguise, and memory-wiping her top managerial skills. The mysterious stranger who knows her darkest secret... Priscilla doesn’t remember hiring the man with the wily smile and the flannel voice. At all. Men as physically appealing as Hugo Desmond rarely escape her bed, let alone her memory. And how is he able to move so fast, yet nobody notices but her? Is she his target, his mission, or his bait? Hugo is a gargoyle—a specially-trained executioner—sent to purge the west of evil. With succubi falling squarely in demon territory, Priscilla has every reason to fear him... yet she can’t stay away. Hugo says he needs her help and wants to save her soul. But is redemption possible for a woman as wicked as Priscilla, or will love thaw her heart just enough for Hugo to crush it? Other paranormal romances take a spin on a much-loved theme. Isabelle Andersen is nobody’s sacrificial virgin in Siobhan Muir’s fantasy historical. Not a Dragon’s Standard Virgin by Siobhan Muir (Siren Publishing—now available) Sacrificial virgins are so sixteenth century, but unless Isabelle finds a man to take her innocence, she may be next. For Isabelle Andersen, being a virgin in a dragon-plagued Scottish village is a dangerous position. Potentially the next dragon sacrifice, Isabelle’s only way out is to lose her innocence, and fast. Men are more plentiful than ale at her father’s tavern, but unfortunately for Isabelle, they seem to prefer the charms of sheep over her. All she needs is one handsome stranger she can coax into bed, but Lochmore Cott doesn’t get much in the way of visitors. Jonarrion Swiftwind has sworn off virgins. The last time he took one to his bed, his family paid the price for his lust at the hands of her demon-possessed father. Since that night, he’s made it his mission to destroy demons and keep his bed virgin-free. Jon’s hunt brings him to Lochmore Cott, hard on the trail of a demon-in-dragon’sclothing. Nothing distracts him from killing the demon until lovely Isabelle offers him a mug of tea. And her virginity. It takes just one night of passion for Jon to realize he doesn’t ever want to let the independent beauty go. But will Isabelle accept him when she discovers the only real dragon in her village... is him? I love a story where the characters are as in the dark about their paranormal existence as the reader. D.C. Stone slowly unleashes the hero’s beast in Feral Craving. 34 | www.BTSeMag.com Feral Craving by D.C. Stone (Evernight Publishing—now available) Bari has always felt a presence lurking deep inside of him, waiting to get out. After being injured in Iraq, he suddenly finds himself thrust back into his hometown, forced to face his past. He finds that what’s lurking inside of him is real, waiting, and running out of patience fast. What happens as the evil of his past merges with his wants of the future? What happens when the man and beast inside crave a female from his past? What happens when Bari learns that he is anything but human? Then you have the stories that pick you up and drop you smack dab into the otherworld, such as Angie Fox’s urban fantasy Monster MASH series. really doesn’t need with both armies honing new weapons, and wounded all over her M*A*S*H unit. But how can she resist him? It’s now or never for the demi-god Galen to become Petra’s mate . . . but with the fate of humanity at stake, will their desire be worth the cost? So whether you’re a hard core paranormal fan or a dabbler like me, curl up with one today. You’ll be glad you did. Immortally Ever After by Angie Fox (Monster MASH, #3, St. Martin’s Paperbacks— now available) In the Heat of Battle The hard-won cease-fire between the battling immortals doesn’t last long. In the blink of an eye, human surgeon Dr. Petra Robichaud is back on the frontlines, and starring in yet another of the oracle’s prophesies. As the only healer who can talk to the dead, Petra doesn’t have much choice about her role—even when her breathtaking ex-lover shows up at exactly the wrong time . . . Two Hearts Fight to Survive Petra may have moved on when Commander Galen left her, but she never forgot him—and the passionate moments they shared. Seeing him again is a distraction she Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long-stemmed red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breathcatching reaction from her readers.. SandraBunino.com October 2013 | 35 see BEHIND closed DOORS EROTIC Featured Authors, REVIEWS and more BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed The Heat Diva Nikki McCarver Paranormally Pleasured It’s here at last! The most anticipated book release month for paranormal lovers is upon us and that means more demons, vampires, weres, shifters, and angels strut out to fulfill our need for the darker side of things. I have dished up a tantalizing menu, with a vast array of bump in the nighters, to satisfy all your paranormal cravings! Please select your order with care, because one bite . . . will never be enough! Let’s get this party started with some sexy centaur appetizers. . . Heat Level Remedy Maker by Sheri Fredricks (Centaurs, #1,Temple Publishing—available now) Welcome to a world filled with sexy centaur shifters. Man by day, half man/half horse by night, and a twenty-four-hour case of being one sexy doctor, Rhycious doesn’t set out to find his mate. He likes his solitary life, hidden away in the woods where he toils with his remedies and tries to hide his disorder. But more than sparks fly when he meets Patience, and you don’t want to miss the thrusting action he packs! | The Heat Diva | Demons Anyone? A Demon and Her Scot by Eve Langlais (Welcome To Hell, #3, Indie Book—available now) Welcome to the golf game in hell, literally. If you have never read a series by this lovely lady, start with this one. Lucifer, the powerful business man that resides over his realm, is playing matchmaker with his favorite demons. He believes that happiness equals more productivity, and he is on a quest to get his numbers up. These books will not only tickle your funny bone but leave you hot and breathless for more— especially this hot one with Niall and Aella. The devil owns Niall’s soul but may be talked into giving it back... Araya’s Addiction by Jocelyn Dex (Ellora’s Cave—available now) This is a short, hot read about Sempire demons and their unique lifestyle. Araya hates the fact that she is half Sempire demon and is willing to let herself die before becoming like the rest of her family. Unbeknownst to her, this lady’s mother isn’t going to let that happen and is not above playing dirty. Taking matters into her own hands, she begins kidnaps a Semus demon, who are their sworn enemy for addicting reasons, and thrusts him into her daughter’s room. What happens in there is just hot! Heat Level Demon Mine by Nikki Prince (Karmic Lust, #1, Evernight Publishing—available now) Who knew the beginning of mankind was so hot? Nikki Prince sizzles us with what really happened to Lilith and why she chose to escape the garden. Even though she loved another, she ended up making a mortal enemy who cursed her for all her lives. Can the sexy demon she fell for so many eons ago make her whole again? Mmm . . . I feel like some minotaur meat for an entrée. Ain’t No Bull by Danica Avet (The Veil, #4, Siren Publishing—available now) Whoooo, no he is not! Grant is one sexy minotaur who lights up the pages with hotness! This book has a huge cast of paranormal characters to include Izzy, who just happens to be an Amazon. Not your everyday pairing? Thank goodness. Izzy is being punished for 40 | www.BTSeMag.com her less than tactful approach to her tribe leader. She is sent to the middle of nowhere to reflect and just happens to stumble upon a minotaur being kidnapped by. . . LOL. Letâ€™s just say, as hot as this book is, it will also have you laughing out loud! Dessert, in my opinion, is best served hot... Heat Level The Demon Bride by Dianna Hardy (The Witching Pen, #3, Indie Bookâ€”available now) The Demon Bride is book three in a four-part series and is a paranormal mix. In this book, we find out what Mary really is. She is the character who has walked around with a big question mark over her head, but there is one angel who knows more than he is leading every one to believe. The story is beyond hot and leaves you wanting more at the end. It does contain some of the heavier aspects of BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism), but you will enjoy! 41 | www.BTSeMag.com | The Heat Diva | Releasing the Wolf by Dianna Hardy (Eye of the Storm, #1, Indie Book—available now) Releasing the Wolf is book one in the series that looks like it is going to end in one hot ménage! Lydia is a special kind of wolf, and three of the pack members (including the alpha) have got it bad for her. She heals the first two, but we are left hanging about the sexy and dark alpha wolf I see in her future. It’s still a smoking hot read, but I have a feeling it is going to get hotter! .................................................. Have wonderful Halloween, my paranormal pack mates! I hope I have tempted your taste buds enough with this delicious menu to try one of these hot ladies of paranormal sizzles! Until next time . . . Stay Naughty. I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and erotica has brought my favorite pasttime to a whole new level. After the birth of my daughter, I started learning about blogging and all the wonderful ways to share my passion for reading and dived right in. I created my own blog to share my love of paranormal, historical, dark, and erotic books. I have had the opportunity to work with many great authors and look forward to working with many more. Come Closer and look me up at: http://closeencountersofthenightkind.blogspot.com 42 | www.BTSeMag.com EROTIC | book reviews | Primal Flavor Should’ve Known Better Cassandra Carr Contemporary Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 5 Danica Avet Paranormal Erotica Heat Rating: 4 Being a human in a parish filled with shifters, Colette Robicheaux has learned to be tough as nails. She’s a hunter with the kind of lethal skills that make most men nervous, but all it takes is a single hot look from Zachary Trahan to make her melt into a puddle of goo. And this tiger shifter doesn’t fight fair, using his hot body and his many skills in the kitchen to melt her panties. But there’s a danger in the swamps that threatens to tear them apart, an evil that could turn this hunter into prey. When chef Zachary Trahan took a break from work to hunt, the last thing he expected to find was his mate. A human huntress with a hot temper, a quick trigger finger and the kind of body destined to keep him up at nights, Colette makes his tiger purr. He’ll have to fight his stubborn mate, her impossible family and the threat hiding in the swamps before he can finally claim her for his own. REVIEW: So what do I think of this book? Brilliant is one way to describe it, but hey, don’t take my word for it, go ahead and read it. What I liked about the book the most? Mostly, of all things is how well it’s written, which makes it a beautiful read in my eyes. I hate difficult reads. This book is full of love, and sex, with a nice balance, though it does tip towards the sex angle, quite a few times. Yet I’m not complaining, it needed to be there for some reason. The primal instincts over took the human instincts, which made it raw. Because we all know that Lust comes before Love, well at least before we discover love, and this book shows you that. Sometimes love disguises itself as lust too. | Reviewer: Nila Bi | Sarah is thrilled when she’s hired as an advisor for the NHL’s Buffalo Storm. She meets Sebastian St. Amant, a young hockey player, and sparks immediately fly. A relationship is out of the question, but the impossible becomes necessary. Will they weather the storm, or should they have known better? REVIEW: It was a good read. Felt the sparks and even though Sebastian is younger than Sarah, you kind of knew that somehow they would end up together. They had great steamy chemistry and mixed signals and they even knew that they shouldn’t be together, but they still couldn’t resist one another for very long. Sarah was the “competitive analysis consultant” for the “NHL’s Buffalo Storm “and just trying to make it in a man’s hockey world and Sebastian is the up and coming star of the team. She got along with most of the guys, but there were a few who didn’t think she belonged there. One in particular, was a guy named Lou. He was an argumentative piece of work (he’ll get his one day). It was the first book I’ve read by Cassandra Carr, but it won’t be the last. It’s definitely, worth the read, if just for the cover alone. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham | October 2013 | 45 | EROTIC book reviews | Shared Objectives Chandra Ryan Erotic Futuristic Sci-fi Romance Heat Rating: 5 Universal Defiance, Book Two When Lisa and her son are rescued from a military prison, one look at the genetically altered mercenary who carries her to freedom puts some racy ideas into her head. Dixie is strong, handsome and kind, an unfamiliar combination. Her job as a government geneticist usually sends men running, not rushing to her aid. Unfortunately Dixie isn’t alone. Lisa’s ex, Ben, is another member of the Coalition, the band of rebels fighting against the government that locked up Lisa. After their split two years ago, she never thought she’d have to face his scorn again. But now she has to work with him without giving in to old temptations. Or so she thinks. REVIEW: Lisa, one of the Government’s top genetic scientists, who finds herself in a bit of a situation. She has been incarcerated in one of the Government’s high security centers and her young son, Nate was taken from her. Recently, the Coalition organized a rescue of sorts, organized by Steve Dixie (Dixie for short…), to rescue Lisa and her son but why? Lisa learns that one of the rescue team members is Ben. Ben is not only someone from her past but Nate’s father as well. What happens when he discovers about Nate? Both Ben and Dixie are genetically enhanced soldiers created by the Government but are with the Coalition rebels. Lisa has discovered a cure NB-7 vaccination need for the dependence for all genetic enhanced soldiers... Lisa becomes close to both Ben and Dixie and arrangement of sort is dealt. But what? This was an enjoyable futuristic sci-fi story packed with action, adventure and so much more. The book was well written with unique and unexpected twists and turns that was captivating and entertaining book to read. Be warned this is a ménage book with passionate scenes that were interesting to say the least. | Reviewer: Beckey White | 46 | www.BTSeMag.com | EROTIC book reviews | Never Say Never Aimee Duffy Contemporary Erotic Heat Rating: 3 When pretend turns to desire, heartbreak is unavoidable. Sander Chase needs a date for his ex-fiancée’s engagement party, but he doesn’t have time for a woman in his life. Between working on the TV show Do You Have What It Takes? and his band reforming, he’s too busy for a relationship. What he needs is a pretend girlfriend. He thinks he may have found the perfect woman for the job, and the bribe he offers means she’s sure to accept. REVIEW: I enjoyed reading this book and I finished it in one night, I put it down for a while, attempting to sleep, but it didn’t work and I HAD TO START READING AGAIN. Seriously, it’s 9 in the morning and I just finished it. It is very well written and is an easy read where the words just flow off the page. It’s hot sexy, but at the same time you feel yourself connecting with the characters, who are complex, even though this is such a short book. It’s so well written, you can feel the chemistry between the characters. I enjoyed reading it and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys their erotic romantic novels. It won’t disappoint, I can promise you that. So yeah… read it. | Reviewer: Nila Bi | October 2013 | 47 | EROTIC book reviews | Given Ashlynn Monroe Erotic Distopia Heat Rating: 5 keep her sheltered in a fortress of maximum security. When a mysterious man arrives and offers her the chance for freedom, will she be willing to leave the life she knows behind or will she remain “given”? REVIEW: I enjoyed reading this book, the story line was unusual, but then again at the same time not unusual at all. I felt that the characters were well developed, and in these 160 odd pages I felt myself connecting with the character. At one Point I even cried a little. The book has a nice balance of sex and plot, which is what I liked about it the most and it is extremely well written. However, I was disappointed with the ending. It wasn’t to my taste, but my taste is unusual, but I can see why other people would find it appealing. I found this to be a brilliant read altogether and I miss the characters already, which is probably one of the reasons why I didn’t like the ending. Over all it was ACE!! Book does contain graphic scenes of rape that may not be suitable for all readers. | Reviewer: Nila Bi | In a world without choices, one woman will find herself caught in the middle of six men and the emotions they develop for her. Krista Damiani is one of the last women on Earth, and her patriotic duty is to make babies. On her twenty-first birthday, the government holds a lottery drawing to determine the men who will control her destiny. Her “six”, the men who win the right to call her their own, know they have to impregnate her quickly or risk losing her to a new “six”. As society fills with additional violence and unrest, her men 48 | www.BTSeMag.com | EROTIC book reviews | Fondled and Gobbled: One More Slurp This story to me was an incomplete and confusing story. Slap it Pink by Sky Robinson Mary Jane is a naïve eighteen year old virgin having her first time with Steele. This story seemed like there should be more to it… | Reviewer: Beckey White | A well-endowed germophobe goes for a wild ride with a woman who knows no boundaries and her inadequately endowed boyfriend. Two BDSM novices learn that not everyone can top—when everyone wants to sub. Big boobs, big hair, a shrill voice and gunfire fetish—the hero finds the perfect woman. A girl who’s never seen a penis before—but her momma told her what to do if a man ever whipped one out in front of her. If you’re looking for the perfect romance with the perfect hero and heroine, this isn’t it! This is a series of spoofs, parodies, just-for-fun lighthearted take-offs. It’s for all us longtime, hardcore romance readers who can laugh at the clichés, purple prose and “suspend your disbelief” plot devices that haunt our beloved favorite genre. REVIEW: This is a collection of four short stories packed into one book. Wild Cookie Fantasy by Danica Avet Hawk is a germ-a-phobic having his first ménage with his lifelong best friend, Cade and Cade’s girlfriend Holly. This story is oh my goodness, laugh out loud hilarious and cute story that I really enjoyed. Reluctant Submission: The Tale of Two Spankings by Sasha Devlin Decan and his wife Aimee were invited to BDSM soirée. Decan and Aimee have never tried for this adventure before and they both think that they’ll be the Dom for this event. A deal is struck and playtime begins but who is going to play what role. The story is an interesting to say the least story and the banter between Decan and Aimee is both funny and cute. He Shots, He Scores by Anya Richards The mob boss’s daughter, Angelique is being hunt not only by her father but by her ex. But why (that was never answered by the time story ended)? Rock has become her protector… Reluctant to give up her carefree life of partying among the mortals when hot-as-sin Bhyrne comes to fetch her for the queen, Zena uses her succubus wiles to entice him, or at least delay the inevitable trip to the royal court. Once in the demon stronghold, hidden deep within the Catskill mountains, she learns the reason for the summons: she must choose a consort within two days. REVIEW: Right off the read, the writing sucks you in. Heat Wave is fantastically induced with quick quips and backtracking read-over’s. Devilishly tantalizing and smoking hot. “Tempered steel, meet chewy nougat center.” with lines like this, you can’t go wrong. Zena is a succubus who might have just met her match and Bhyrne who is the Queen’s head enforcer is on fire literally with what is known as “breedspawn.” He must mate but the Queen has other plans for him after he defies her. It’s a race to find Bhyrne before a devious deadline and then can Zena convince him to succumb to the bond he’s trying to deny. | Reviewer: Gypsie M. Holley | Danica Avet, Sasha Devlin, Anya Richards, Sky Robinson Erotica Romance, Anthology Heat Level: 5 Heat Wave Taryn Kincaid Paranormal Erotica Heat Rating: 5 50 | www.BTSeMag.com The First Kiss The Old Star Elodie Parkes Owen watched her consider this, but wanted to establish something between them to make her want to see him the next day. Ordinarily he’d ask a girl out but he couldn’t do that could he? He launched into flirting. “You have such lovely eyes, Cathy. I hope that’s okay to say, just that when you frowned I felt like smoothing it away.” He gave her a look laden with promise. It was a practiced look. Cathy gazed at him. He took a deep breath and slowly put out his hand to hold her face and smoothed the place a frown had been. “I guess you have someone in your life waiting for you to get home. You wouldn’t want to stay a while and talk to me about your plans for the place.” He kept his voice low and looked at her lips. It was no hardship. He felt an overwhelming urge to kiss her. He bent his head to be even closer to her as she stayed there stilled under his hand and his gaze. ‘She has to be attracted to me. She has to be, or she’d have shaken off my touch and be backing away.’ “I don’t have anyone, special that is. I’d like to stay a while.” Owen moved so slowly he felt as if he had entered some dream state, but he reached her lips with his, and holding her face gently, he kissed her. Her lips were soft and she kissed him back. It felt so good he couldn’t pull away as he intended. He brought his other hand to her head and ran his fingers into her hair to hold her. He kissed her until he felt weakened. It was an unfamiliar feeling, but he liked it. His cock was hardening. That felt good too. He drew back a little from Cathy’s face to look into her eyes. He saw her open them. “Cathy I…I..” He had no idea what he wanted to say next. The need to keep kissing her ate at him. What’s hidden in this spooky place? When Cathy Faraday goes out from her office to buy morning tea, a set of circumstances send her on a different route from the one she would normally take. Waiting on a street unknown to her is a house. Old and left to fade away. Something draws her to the house. Someone watches from the third floor window. She smiled a little and then put her arms around his neck and began to kiss him. Owen received the kisses all over his face, and then as she reached his lips, he crushed her to his body and took over the kiss. Elodie Parkes is a British author writing contemporary, erotic romance, often with a twist of paranormal, mystery or suspense. She lives in the cathedral city of Canterbury with her two dogs, and when not writing she sells antiques. elodieparkes.blogspot.com 52 | www.BTSeMag.com | EROTIC book reviews | Crash and Burn Susan Arden Erotica Romance Heat Level: 5 As the pressure builds to keep the band together, the only way out may mean cutting free from a man who complicates her life with his ability to melt her body, heart and soul. Jon and Alana are blinded by their hotter-than-hell passions until they’re spiraling out-of-control and there’s nothing left to do but CRASH & BURN. REVIEW: What happen with you have exactly 23 minutes until your “fling” is over and you have to step into professional mode with nothing but memories? Or is that just what they want everyone to think… Alana is really a firecracker in more than one way then add Jon with his bullheaded d-bag attitude, oh my goodness you got quite a hot mix of arguments, fights, make-up sex and more... The book was slow, dull in some spots but the repetitive sex scenes made it somewhat interesting for some but not this reader. I don’t mean as a bad thing, I prefer reading with a little more storyline to it overall. | Reviewer: Beckey White | She rocks his world...he’ll need distance from her to think straight. Waking up after a raging night of sex, Jonathan has 23 minutes to memorize every inch of Alana’s body, erotic sensuality, and ability to torment him before he must let her go when their business contract begins and his record company is in charge of her band and her future. He sets her body on fire...shattering the walls she’s erected. Alana is fiercely loyal to Orion. But when fame comes knocking on her door alone, her band refuses to stand in her way. 53 | www.BTSeMag.com | EROTIC book reviews | Armed and Desired D.C. Stone Contemporary Erotica Heat Rating: 3 charge, she’s not willing to step over the line. Nate is no better. He’s hot and bothered by his red-haired supervisor wonder. He envisions her and her lusciousness, believing this attraction all one-sided. His. In wanting relief, he signs up for 1NS (short for 1 Night Stands) where he hopes Madame Evangeline will provide the hook-up to exorcise his arousal for the one he can’t have. Holy smokes! These two arrive on the scene…a hotel suite. After the initial shock they get busy in assuaging their scorching desire. This is all about taking advantage of the chance they’ve been handed and in one night they rock each other’s worlds, knowing it’s back to squad-car business when the sun rises. Another 1NS fast-paced read where two hotties in uniform seize the opportunity to investigate their over-the-top attraction. | Reviewer: Susan Taylor | Sergeant Alyssa Bloom knows what it means to stay in control, be alert to her surroundings. Staying mentally tough and keeping a level head is not so easy to do around the hot, young rookie she’s assigned to train. REVIEW: Alyssa is a five-year old veteran on the police force. A patrol officer, paired with Nate, a hunk of gorgeous in blue cargo pants. As Nate’s supervising officer, she is pushed to the limit by his out-of-control masculinity. Seeing sexy-blondand-loaded has got her blood boiling. But being the one in 54 | www.BTSeMag.com | EROTIC book reviews | To Love A Cougar Marisa Chenery Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 3 There was a section that reminded me of a line the bad guy would use in a Scooby Doo show/movie, but for adults cause of the language. “If not for this meddling bitch, none of you would have known,”… | Reviewer: Beckey White | Book two in the Cougar Surrender series. While shopping for lingerie, Harley finds something she can’t resist— sex on a stick in the men’s section. Intrigued and turned-on, she sets a plan in motion. If she can get him to size a thong for her to purchase as a gag gift, perhaps he might be willing to do other things for her too. Wicked things. Curl-her-toes things. Cougar shifter Blaise is hunting—for human women, that is. His effort pays off in spades when he finds himself in the changing room with the beauty who captivated him the moment he saw her. Their attraction is immediate, and it isn’t long before they’re burning up the sheets. But Harley soon finds herself embroiled in something she would never have imagined possible, with Blaise at the center of it. Despite what she may feel for him, it might not be enough to make her stay. REVIEW: Blaise, with his family problems decides to get away for a bit and attempt to start on the search for a mate… A Human one… He starts by taking a trip down to local mall, once there he finds someone that attracts his attention in a lingerie store. Harley. She walks right up to him in and asks him if he’ll help her out. Blaise agrees. But what happens next… The story had excessive recapping, so this could be considered a single read. The book had expectant story line that you could figure out where and how the author was going to take this story. An interesting scene that I could add to this review would be in the lingerie store... October 2013 | 55 56 | www.BTSeMag.com Nicole Morgan I felt so hurt and confused over everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours. I honestly felt like I was ready to end things with Jack and give myself a fresh start away from the chaos that was clearly his life. Somehow once again though, he’d calmed me down, true to his charming ways he had explained everything away and managed to make sense of it all. He claimed he was no longer married, his ex-wife was mentally ill, and she needed to be institutionalized. Still, something in my gut nagged me. Call it instinct, or maybe women’s intuition, but I wasn’t ready to just believe every word he said blindly. I was prepared and ready to ask him a laundry list of questions I not only wanted but needed the answers to. Just as I opened my mouth to begin the interrogation, Jack had conveniently received an emergency phone call and had to leave. Of course he’d promised to return as quickly as possible, so we could finish our talk. Jack was, if nothing else, unrelentingly polite. While I admit that was part of my attraction to him in the beginning, something was still off, something still just didn’t add up for me. What that something was I had no idea. After being overwhelmed with anxiety all morning, I was nearly ready to pull my hair out when a quiet knock at my door tore me away from my thoughts. I was thankful for the reprieve. The more I thought of it, the more I felt my mind spin. I opened the door and knew instantly it was a mistake, that I should have checked the peephole. “Mary . . . what are you doing here?” | Sex and the Single Woman | “I thought I made myself clear. I can see now I’m going to have to make sure you understand that I am dead serious.” The light of the hallway reflected off the barrel of the gun and cast an eerie glare in my eye. A chill raced up my spine as I looked down at the revolver. There were so many times in my life I thought I’d felt afraid—now I knew I never knew fear. Not until that very moment. Beep. Beep. Beep. My eyes flashed open, and I jolted up in bed. Instinctively I pulled my sheet up to my chest as I looked around the room in an attempt to regain my bearings. The shades were drawn on my window, but bright sunlight still shone through the bottom by the sill telling me it was still daylight. I placed my hand over my heart and tried to slow my rapid breaths. My skin was damp with perspiration as I began to calm down. I turned my head, just then realizing that my alarm was still going off. It had been a dream. Thank God. Only a dream. I reached over and pressed the off button to stop the screeching from echoing inside my head just as the phone rang. I picked up the receiver, noticing the call was coming from an unknown number. “Hello?” “Hey, beautiful.” Jack greeted me. “Jack. Hi. Umm. . . . what time is it?” He chuckled before answering. “What time is it? Are you okay?” I looked down at my alarm clock and read the red LED numbers telling me it was half past three in the afternoon. “Huh? Oh yeah. Sorry, I just woke up. My head was killing me. I must have taken a couple of Excedrin and laid down.” “You must have? You don’t remember?” he asked with obvious worry in his voice. I opened my mouth to respond to his question when the reality of my answer stunned me silent. “Sweetie? Are you okay? You’re really starting to worry me.” seemed. He’d come out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. “No. I’m fine. I just . . . I don’t know. I can’t remember lying down. Maybe my headache was worse than I thought, and I’m just having a small memory lapse. I’m sure it’s nothing.” “It doesn’t sound like nothing. You’ve been through a lot of stress these past days. Anxiety can do crazy things to your body.” “Jack, I’m sure I’m—” He quickly cut me off. “You may be sure, but I’m not. I’m coming over. I wasn’t going to leave here for another hour, but I can finish this stuff up tomorrow. Just stay in bed. I’ll be there soon.” “Jack, that really isn’t necessary. I’m feeling much better and—” “I’m not taking no for an answer. I love you. And I’m not going to let anything happen to you.” He said nothing more and hung up the phone. I stared at the phone and expelled a deep breath. I knew I had to deal with Jack at some point. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready for it to be now. I hung up the phone and fell back against the bed. I thought of our trip, the one we were supposed to leave on in just two short days, as I stared up at my ceiling fan. The blades went round and around so fast that after a while they almost appeared to be moving backwards. It was that optical illusion I saw so many times on car tires. When something appeared one way but in actuality was a different thing entirely. Jack wasn’t who he 58 | www.BTSeMag.com My eyes widened, and I sat back up. That’s it! An illusion! Ever since Mary had shown up on my front steps, I had been trying to figure out and solve the complicated puzzle that had become my life. No matter how many times I tried, I still managed to end up drawing a blank. Even with Jack explaining things away, the pieces still didn’t fit. Oh sure, his reasoning behind everything sounded good, but when I put everything together I couldn’t help but feel like I was trying to stuff a square block into a triangle hole. And now I finally knew why. Jack wasn’t who he seemed. He’d come out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. I’d even fallen in love with him. I couldn’t deny that. My heart wouldn’t allow it. Still, something Kim said to me a few weeks earlier kept playing over in my head and suddenly made sense. Like an old-time record caught on eternal skip, I could still hear her voice as she said, “Sweetie, if he seems too good to be true. He probably is.” Nicole Morgan is a multi-published author of erotic romance novels, which more often than not have a suspensefull backstory. Erotic romance mixed with a good old-fashioned whodunit. While she’s written everything from contemporary to paranormal, her leading men will more than likey be wearing a uniform of some kind. From military to police, she has a love for writing about those who protect and serve. -nicolemorgan1.webs.com October 2013 | 59 OUT of this WORLD SCI FI & FANTASY Featured Authors, REVIEWS and more BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed SCI FI & FANTASY | book reviews | Clockwork Heart Dru Pagliassotti Science Fiction programs for the Great Engine; and awkward, sharptongued Cristof, who has exiled himself from his caste and repairs clocks in the lowest sector of the city. Both hide dangerous secrets, in the city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart. REVIEW: This is an excellent book, a fine example of science fiction at its best. It has a great beginning that immediately captures your interest, and holds your attention. The book begins with a creature that is flying and attempting to land, but you soon realize that it is a person in a flying rig. The book starts up at a good pace, and doesn’t let up. It draws you in and keeps you wondering what comes next. The characters are great, and so fascinating; and the author makes it all come alive for you. It’s about a society divided into castes, yet it’s also a love story, and it’s also a mystery/thriller too; in addition to being a great science fiction novel. | Reviewer: Jacqueline Driggers | Taya soars over Ondinium on metal wings. She is an icarus, a courier privileged to travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately amongst its castes. But even she cannot outfly the web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and intrigue that snares her after a daring mid-air rescue. Taya finds herself entangled with the Forlore brothers, scions of an upperclass family: handsome, brilliant Alister, who sits on Ondinium’s governing council and writes October 2013 | 65 For Emily Waters, a nature-loving, small-town girl with an overprotective father, heading oﬀ to Boston University to study conservation biology is a dream come true—until a chance encounter catapults her into a mythical world she’d do anything to escape. The latest victim in a rash of abductions near campus, Emily is brutally attacked before being rescued by a powerful new friend. She survives the ordeal, only to ﬁnd herself held captive and presented with an impossible choice. While preparing for the unimaginable life she must now embrace, clues soon emerge that Emily may not be entirely human. Available at Freya’s Bower, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and All Romance eBooks. FREYASBOWER.COM | SCI FI & FANTASY book reviews | The Hungry undead upon an unsuspecting world. REVIEW: Penny is a bit unusual but add in her beauty and she is not the normal career woman. When all heck breaks loose at the jail where she is sheriff, no one believes the undead are attacking. The heroine kicks it into high gear and saves her companions from being torn to bits. Penny’s kickass heroics continue throughout the tale as her group runs into more people trying to survive the zombies. The ending had a twist I didn’t expect. It is pretty hard to come up with fresh perspectives on the undead lore, so that was a nice surprise. It was entertaining and a fun, action-packed ride. I would have given it a 4, but Penny’s colorful language threw me out of the story several times. | Reviewer: Lois Chandler | Steven W. Booth & Harry Shannon Urban Fantasy Zombies. Murderous Bikers. Power-crazed Military Commanders. And her Ex-Husband. Penny can’t catch a break in the fastpaced adventure, The Hungry Meet Sheriff Penny Miller. Penny is the kind of woman who will do whatever it takes to protect those she is sworn to serve, even when that includes a murderous biker, her wimpy ex-husband, a unit of incompetent National Guardsmen, and the scientist responsible for releasing the October 2013 | 67 BEYOND the EXPECTED PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE Featured Authors, REVIEWS and more BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed The Scrying Eye Kelly Hudson The End of Things The curtain parts! The intrepid enter! The curious moan! The fearful whimper! But all are enthralled by the power of the Scrying Eye! It opens, and as you gaze into its depths, you come face to face with your own mortality. For today, the Scrying Eye sees . . . the End of Things. Fantasy/Science Fiction The Last Dark by Stephen R. Donaldson (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #4, Penguin Group— available October 15, 2013) brings the last of the Thomas Covenant stories to an end. In an epic story line that began back in 1977, Thomas Covenant, a writer and leper, falls into a mysterious place called “the Land” where he becomes the savior against a powerful evil named Lord Foul. He went through many adventures, eventually including his companion, Linden Avery, in the fight to save “the Land.” Donaldson wrote a magnificent series of fantasy novels to which he returned in 2004 and now draws to an apocalyptic close: Thomas and Linden must combine forces to prevent the Worm of the World’s End from unmaking Time. Can they succeed, or will they fail and lose that which they hold most dear in the universe? | The Scrying Eye | Possession: A Novel of the Fallen Angels by J.R. Ward (Fallen Angels, #5, Penguin Group—available now) tells another story in the universe of the Fallen Angels. In this intriguing tale, broken-hearted Cait Douglass throws her fortunes to the wind and becomes involved with two carnal men who cross her path, changing her life forever. She must decide between the two, and her decision could be the key, or the curse, of all humanity, as the fallen angels wage their war around her and humankind. Ward always brings intrigue and mystery as well as passionate characters, and this novel promises to be no different. Mystery/Thriller Horror! Storm Front by John Sandford (Virgil Flowers, #7, Penguin Group—available October 8, 2013) is the newest story in the Virgil Flowers series and sticks Virgil right smack-dab into the middle of a big controversy. Turns out, Virgil is about to get a visit from an Israeli cop tracking a smuggler who has a copper scroll containing details about one King Solomon. Yes, that King Solomon. Virgil treats this all as some kind of joke, laughing at being caught up in a Dan Brown conspiracy, until teams of murderous bad guys show up, and then, things get very serious, indeed. And with that, Virgil is thrown into an epic conflict, one which he can only hope to survive. Thrills, chills, laughter, and intrigue wait in the latest Sandford novel. The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale (Little, Brown and Company—available now) is the thrilling story of Jack Parker, a boy orphaned during the turn of the century in Texas. He only has his sister and grandfather left alive until a gang of bandits kills his grandfather and kidnaps his sister. He enlists a band of misfits to help him save his sibling from danger, a group that includes an ex-slave, a dwarf bounty hunter, and a street-smart woman for hire. Can his new friends aid him, or will the bad guys win the day? Delivered with that inimitable Lansdale grit and charm, filled with lots of humor and fantastic characters, this is a do-not-miss read. The Abominable by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown and Company—available October 22, 2013) is the story of three climbers of Everest who are paid to search for a missing man from an earlier expedition. What they find during their trek up the mighty mountain is something altogether unexpected. They are being pursued by something in the night that may turn out to be the legendary hairy beast known as the Yeti, or it may be something even worse. As they climb higher and higher, the mystery of the missing climber becomes more important, and solving this mystery will be their only hope of survival. Filled with plenty of chills and suspense, this new one will deliver—as any reader of tales by Dan Simmons knows. The Dead Man, Vol. 5: The Death Match, The Black Death, The Killing Floor by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin (including Christa Faust, Aric Davis, and David Tully), (47North—available now) features three stories set in the Dead Man world. Matt Cahill is a man with an ability to see things others cannot and he’s been enlisted in a battle between good and evil. He will stop at nothing to kill the sinister Mr. Dark. In The Death Match, Matt enters the underground world of cagefighting where he encounters the undead and a bit of truth about his own resurrection. In The Black Death, Matt must track down a virulent strain of crystal meth 74 | www.BTSeMag.com that turns its users into black-eyed maniacs bent on murder. And in The Killing Floor, Matt is pitted against Mr. Dark in an epic battle upon which hangs the fate of humanity. Three killer stories by three different authors and one incredible universeâ€”enter, if you dare! And, just like our stories, the Scrying Eye has come to the End of Things. It is time to put the crystal ball to rest and for you to gather all your wits about you, for storms of fantastic fiction are brewing in the not-so-distant future, and if youâ€™re lucky, you might catch their lightning in a bottle. Kelly M Hudson is the author of two horror novels and dozens of short stories, including a piece in the recent D.O.A. II collection by Blood Bound Books. You can find links to all of his works by visiting www.kellymhudson.com if you dare! Until the next SCRYING EYE... October 2013 | 75 Sneak Peek Born In Blood Alexandra Ivy New York Times bestselling author PROLOGUE Valhalla had always been shrouded in mystery. Named for the home of the Norse gods, the leaders of the sprawling compound claimed that it was a safe-house for those people too unique to live among normal society. Of course, everyone knew that was just a polite way of saying that it was a home for freaks. Witches, psychics, necromancers, Sentinels and God only knew what else roamed the grounds protected by a layer of powerful spells. For the past century, Valhalla had been a source of fear and fascination throughout the entire world, but most especially for the citizens of the small, Midwest town that could see the shimmer of blue reflecting off the protective dome that hid the buildings from view. Not surprisingly, there were citizens who called for the entire place to be nuked. The freaks were dangerous, they insisted, with powers that none of them truly understood. Who knew what the monsters would do if someone pissed them off? Then there were others that said they should be locked away and studied like lab rats. Perhaps their mutations could be used to help normal people. Most, however, preferred to ignore Valhalla and the highbloods...as they preferred to be called...living behind the dome. Until, of course, they needed them. CHAPTER 1 Kansas City, KS Sergeant Duncan O’Conner was late to the party. Nursing a hangover from hell, he took two painkillers with a gallon of hot coffee and steered his POS cop car through the light Sunday traffic and entered the gated community in the southwest suburbs. The call had hit his cell phone at three in the afternoon. An hour before he’d hauled his sorry ass out of bed. It’d taken another half hour under the shower to peel his throbbing eyes open and get rid of the stench of cheap whiskey and even cheaper cigars. His first thought had been to call in and tell them to find someone else. Wasn’t it supposed to be his damned weekend off rotation? Let Caleb deal with the latest stiff. Then the thought that the entire station would suspect he’d spent the night of his ex-wife’s latest wedding getting shit-faced drunk sent him stumbling to his car. Yeah, cause his bloodshot eyes and old man shuffle wasn’t going to give the game away, he acknowledged wryly. But while he could take the razzing, he couldn’t take the thought of them feeling sorry for him. Never that. He might be a pathetic loser, but he was a pathetic loser who was damned good at his job. Coming December 31, 2013 In The Heart Of Darkness Sergeant Duncan O’Conner has seen it all before. Beautiful erotic dancer, murdered at home, no suspect, no motive. But there’s one clue: she’s missing her heart. It’s enough to make the hard-bitten Kansas City cop enlist the help of a necro--one of the dead-channelling freaks who live in the domed city of nearby Valhalla. It’s a long shot, but desperate crimes call for desparate measures. Lies The Kiss Of Death Unlike the other “high-bloods” in Valhalla, Callie Brown considers her abilities a gift, not a curse. But when she reads the dancer’s final thoughts, she senses a powerful presence blocking her vision. This is no ordinary homicide. This is the work of a legendary necromancer who controls souls. A ravenous force that will put Callie’s skills to the test, O’Conner’s career at risk, and both their hearts on the line. . .literally. I began my career in 2000 under the name Debbie Raleigh, writing traditional regencies and now as Deborah Raleigh writing regency historicals. Moving to paranormals has been a dream since I watched my first episode of Buffy. alexandraivy.com 76 | www.BTSeMag.com PARANORMAL Without Consent Bev Irwin Mystery Suspense & SUSPENSE | book reviews | The Deep Karen Wiesner Horror She found the first victim...now she might be the next. In South-Western Ontario a crafty, vicious psychopath is at work excising the kidneys of the women he abducts. Doctor Claire Valincourt, recently jilted, finds his first victim and assists with the autopsy. But little does she know the killer has his sights on her, too. Relationship-jaded Detective Gerry Rosko desperately searches for a serial killer who is on a quest of his own—the hunt for a perfect kidney for the terminally ill mother he tends. Will Rosko track him down before Claire becomes his next victim? REVIEW: Without Consent is a raw and gripping thriller that will keep you up late at night. The author’s storytelling abilities are fantastic as she keeps the reader engaged from start to finish with heart-pounding action. With fascinating prose, she subjects the reader to the realities of desperation through the efforts of a psychopathic killer that will stop at nothing to get what he needs and wants. She approaches the panic of survival brilliantly by victimizing the main characters, creating a panic so real, it’s absolutely terrifying. | Reviewer: Marie Haney | Cheyenne Welsh can’t forget her past and the disappearance of her younger sister. When she returns to Woodcutter’s Grim to sell the family property she grew up on, she’s confronted with all the nightmare-realities of her childhood, still alive and well, still right where she left them--down in the darkness the Deep dwells inside. Her home... REVIEW: The Deep is a bone-chilling horror novel loosely based on “Metamorphoses: The Story of Pygmalion and the Statue” by Ovid. Karen Wiesner entices the reader into the creatively built world, Woodcutter’s Grim, where evil likes to reside. The author’s vivid descriptions of a creepy doll, an unknown creature in the basement, and the cold that permeates the house combine into a thoroughly spooky page-turning read. Even with the evil creature as a large part of this story, Wiesner skillfully rebuilds Cheyenne Welsh and James Beck’s relationship as well. Their heartfelt conversations, confessions, and forgiveness make them couple to cheer for. This entertaining, hair-raising novel with an action-packed climax, where—in true fairy-tale fashion—good triumphs over evil and the couple lives happily | Reviewer: Lori Zalewski | October 2013 | 77 | PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | Deep in Crimson Sarah Gilman Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 5 none like Sarah Gilman’s. A true tainted redemption read to the fullest I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I absolutely am a new fan, I can’t wait to read more of the Return to Sanctuary books. In Deep in Crimson we follow the journey of Jett who finds out that Archangel Raphael’s grandchildren are being kidnapped. When he investigates another capture of one of the kids he has to team up with the Demon Guardians and the child’s sister Lexine. Right from the start Jett and Lex are lit with combustible chemistry, but not everything is as it seems. Jeff starts to learn a few things about his own history that will change things for him forever. Major applause for Sarah Gilman for doing such a superb job in this novel! | Reviewer: Krissy Malott | Kidnapped by humans and raised in a research facility, Jett was taught to believe his own race of demons insidious and violent. Jett wants to bring his captor to justice, but he must overcome the lies from his past and join forces with the demon Guardians, and the demon child’s older sister, Lexine. REVIEW: Deep in Crimson really takes paranormal romance to a whole new level. I’ve read a few PR’s with angels but 78 | www.BTSeMag.com | PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | Out of Darkness Ann Patrick Romantic Suspense cious killer, who had viciously attacked her, and murdered her sister, little does she knows what’s in store for her when she meets up with a truck driver named Royce, at a truck stop, while she’s trying to decide what to do next. They actually managed to get along, once they get introduced to one another, and she ends up staying with him, longer than she had intended, but she felt safe where she was and she enjoyed running his moving business with the little exception of a rowdy crew that didn’t want to do extra work and resented her presence. She managed to fix that problem, in a way nobody truly expected. The killer, in the meantime, started killing random women who resembled her. It’s a definite page turner and one that’ll hold your interest from beginning to end. You actually like Alex and Royce as a couple and the somewhat convoluted backstory they come up with to keep the nosy town people at bay. A definite must read, you won’t regret reading it. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham | Ex-FBI Profiler, Alex Michaels, is forced into hiding by the serial killer who murdered her twin sister and left her with a career ending injury. Meeting up with an ex-pro football player who is also facing an uncertain future, Alex makes Royce McIntire an offer he can’t refuse. REVIEW: If you like suspense, that has a touch of edginess, and a hint of romance with a dangerous element to it, you’ll definitely like this. When a former FBI agent named Alex Stanton (nee Michaels) goes on the run to get away from a vi- 80 | www.BTSeMag.com October 2013 | 81 An Interview it would make a terrific series. Steven -I can’t imagine how much work it is running a publishing company. What made you decide to open one? I started designing books for other authors, thanks to Harry’s encouragement. When I realized that my more successful clients were getting paid every time their book sold, and I only got paid once, it was clear where the money was in publishing. When I started I had the perfect practice project, The Hungry, since there would be few consequences for failure. But instead of a flop, we have enjoyed amazing and quite gratifying success with it, so I just kept on going. Harry & Steven - Were The Walking Dead and the craze for zombies an influence in writing a zombie series? Steven: I think The Walking Dead show came on the air after we’d already started writing The Hungry. Apart from them being a) undead, and b) popular, I don’t see where there is a great deal of similarity. Our series is primarily about Penny Miller, who does her duty no matter what. The others characters bring out the best and worst in her. Almost everything else is secondary to that. Harry: Agreed. It is Penny’s story. Joe McKinney had asked me for a contribution to a charity anthology, and that was Jailbreak, which led to The Hungry. Zombie stories have to work within a version of this world, because the zombies stand in for so many of our basic human fears... disease, terrorism, famine, war. You also need a large cast of interesting people to kill off. Great zombie stories are always really about the characters, not the creatures. Steven & Harry- What part of each book in The Hungry series do you write? We write all of it together. Our process is to agree upon a synopsis, then Steven writes each chapter according to plan, and Harry rewrites those until we have a first draft. After that, Steven makes sure there are no glaring errors, and Harry goes over it one final time from the top to polish things up. Then we proof it and publish it. We have other stories in the pipeline, a standalone thriller, and The Hungry 5. Harry Shannon has a long resume in both entertainment and counseling. In addition to “The Hungry” series (co-written with Steven W. Booth), his many books include “CLAN,” “Dead and Gone,” “The Pressure of Darkness,” and four Mick Callahan novels. He’s received a Tombstone, a Dark Scribe and two Stoker nominations. The Hungry 4 Steven W. Booth & Harry Shannon RISE OF THE TRIAD After battling zombies in Nevada and Colorado, Sheriff Penny Miller and her friend Scratch seek a fresh start in calm, unaware Los Angeles. They soon find themselves locked in a suspicious Malibu rehab, where Penny feels the undead are nearby. It seems Penny isn’t crazy. The zombies are coming....Again. Harry- You wrote the screenplay for the “Dead & Gone” movie. Any plans to script any future movies? Yes, I did. Yossi Sasson, who shoots our book covers, directed. Gillian Shure, who models as our Penny Miller, co-starred in it. We sold Dead and Gone one to Lionsgate just before the DVD market collapsed. I have written a screenplay for my novella PAIN, but financing recently fell through for the second time. We came close with the one for CLAN, but indie producers are still gun shy from the financial crisis. There’s always the outside chance someone will option The Hungry for television. We think Steven W. Booth is the publisher at Genius Book Publishing. He has four published novels in The Hungry series, and is currently working on three novel projects, two with writing partner Harry Shannon, and one his first solo project, a young adult thriller novel entitled Chasing Shoeless Joe. geniusbookpublishing.com 82 | www.BTSeMag.com | PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel Linda Bennett Pennell Historical Suspense 1930: County vice-lords are being murdered. Meg, a hotel waitress, and her sheriff’s deputy fiancée believe someone wants to consolidate moonshining, gambling, and prostitution under one leadership. But trying to discover who may get them killed. 2011: Liz, a university professor, tries to connect these same dots. Research, her professional passion, gives her an excuse not to deal with her own messed up love life. Is it Capone or is it all just coincidence? REVIEW: An academic with a passion for history, Liz comes across an old newspaper article about Al Capone from the 1930s that reads cryptic, leaving her with more questions than answers. As she sets out to discover the truth about that day in the Blanche Hotel, she follows clues that lead her down a path she never thought she’d find. This book was one of the most brilliantly written novels I have ever read. With a dual storyline, the reader is given the chance to live the clues with the heroine, and her quest for answers is brought to life through the insightful life of Al Capone during that violent summer in 1930. The author has created a fantastic book that will thrill fans of mystery, history and everything in-between. | Reviewer: Marie Haney | wildchildpublishing.com October 2013 | 83 | PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | Guardian Redeemed P.A. De Paul Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 4 Heaven Mistrusts Him. Demons Fear Him. Only One Woman Will Love Him. Kaiden, a Heavenly Security Guardian, is tasked with stopping Zarok, a demon bent on revenge after his release from hell, while protecting Miranda, a wounded human soldier caught in between. But when Zarok targets Randi as his next victim, is his willingness to break every rule enough to save her in time? REVIEW: Grounded on the unique concept of Guardians as humansâ€™ benevolent job in the afterlife, Guardian Redeemed is a tale about Soul Mates. Despite the fact that Kaiden is a six-hundred-year-old Guardian and Randi is a mere human, more than the basic attraction blooms between them. This action-packed paranormal romance is enhanced by its enchanting, rowdy yet endearing, super cool, and sexy side characters; and a devilishly evil demon villain. Interesting plot, steamy sexy scenes, and the authorâ€™s fearlessness in killing off her main characters for that emotional impact, makes this novel a worthwhile read. | Reviewer: Francine Alli | wildchildpublishing.com 84 | www.BTSeMag.com Author Interview Share a favorite: Book: The Wolf and The Dove (as far as romance) Food: Cheesecake Music: Rock n Roll – Classical and about everything in-between. Movie: Science Fiction – Star Trek – Star Wars – Dune. (One?) Not possible. Vacation spot: Florida Keys Tell us about the gorgeous cover for Blood of the Ruby Throne. First, thanks to the cover artist Gemini Judson. I had found the woman on the cover while looking for another picture on Dreamstime, almost a year before Blood Of The Ruby Throne was contracted. While I was just beginning to write the story. She “fit” the character in the original idea for the book. I added her to my lightbox, and luckily, she was still available when Gemini needed her for the cover. However, Gemini did the other artwork. Are any scenes in the book based on personal experiences? No, I can’t say any of the scenes are from personal experiences – except possibly a unusually active imagination. Explain the world of Blood of the Ruby Throne. This is the story of two worlds orbiting the same star. The home world, Seti-Cronus, and the second world, Alphxorn, populated after the people became capable of space travel. Seti- Cronus is a fertile world, green and rich. Alphxorn appears to be a desert world, dry with little water but great mineral wealth. The two groups of people, though from the same stock of humans and only three generations on Alphxorn, have become very separated. A political marriage between the twin sister of Seti-Cronus’ ruler and the ruler of Alphxorn would prove a logical solution and re-unite the two worlds. This is only the beginning of Blood Of The Ruby Throne. Who wins? Can the love Sarc and Zera fall into survive the war with the pirates and the lies, intrigue and traitors running loose? Have to read it to find out. Blood of the Ruby Throne Sultry Summers Ascending the throne after her brother’s murder by invading space pirates, Lady Zera finds her military compromised by neighboring Lord Sarc. His world equally threatened, he demands she marry him and unite their forces. Political marriage turns into fiery passion, challenged by intrigue, tricks and lies. Can they save their worlds with trust, truth and love? What motivated you to write and what keeps you motivated? What motivated me to attempt and become published would be more to the point. I think I’ve always written. I kept my stories to myself until my mother became ill, and gave her one, a long one, to read as a distraction. After she passed, and the computer age made writing a much easier endeavor I realized publication was within reach. As to what keeps me motivated? My imagination. Some days it is far reaching and wild, and some days, well, I wish I could shut it up. Writing as Sultry, I enjoy the escapism of imagination. I hope to take my readers along with me. Whether we travel into the infinity of the stars, the depths of the oceans, forward in time, or backwards into the mists of the past, I strive to leave the present behind and face the adventure of imagination. sqpens.com October 2013 | 85 86 | www.BTSeMag.com | PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | Curse Of A Dragon’s Claim Ciara Lake Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 4 The flame within a dragon warrior’s heart awakens Arianna’s passion as she begins a journey in which she will discover she’s something more than she ever imagined possible. Clayne MacDagon is a powerful dragon warrior who is sent on a mission to find one of the Forsaken. Although he’s told that this woman is his fated mate, he can’t believe it could possibly be true. Arianna Mergliano possesses both dragon and vampire blood, and Clayne has an intense hatred for anything even remotely related to vampires, the evil beings who were responsible for his beloved twin’s death. Convincing her to accept him is only the beginning. He has to protect her from those who might want her dead. Together, they must face the shadows and evil that have long plagued the immortal realms and find a way to survive the coming war. Content Warning: graphic sex, some violence REVIEW: Curse of a Dragon’s Claim is book 2 in the Forsaken Series by Ciara Lake. First off I wasn’t prepared for the fast paced transition of this book and neither was Arianna when she meets then marries Clayne MacDagon in a day. But the typical business trip between father and daughter Arianna was expecting turns quickly into a whirlwind of mystery surrounding Vampires and Dragons. I really enjoyed all the complex plot building for both the main and secondary characters. Arianna took some time to grow on me but I eventually ended up liking her more than the other characters because she adapts to so many different shocks so well and still comes out strong. The same goes for Clayne since I didn’t particularly care for his harshness in the beginning but I came to accept that he needed that harshness to balance the two of them out since Arianna seemed so fragile and over protected in the beginning. Curse of a Dragon’s Claim packs a lot of action and a lot of love to in such a short punch but Ciara accomplishes her hits very well. I anticipate reading more of her work in the very near future. | Reviewer: Krissy Malott | October 2013 | 87 | PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | First Degree Fudge (The Fudge Shop Mystery Series, Book 1) Christine DeSmet Mystery Suspense Ava Oosterling’s new “Cinderella” fudge finds her a cop instead of a prince when it debuts in the quaint, touristy Lake Michigan community of Fishers’ Harbor, Wisconsin. A visiting Hollywood actress chokes to death on the fudge—determined to be “hot fudge” laced with hot diamonds. It’s first-degree fudge trouble for this chocolate aficionado and confectioner, who with her Grandpa Gil runs the little harbor shop—Oosterlings’ Live Bait, Bobbers & Belgian Fudge. REVIEW: This book is the first in a very promising new cozy mystery series that is packed full of action, humor and delicious fudge! The story follows Ava, a new business owner who is thrown into the middle of a murder investigation when her fudge is found to be the cause of death. Throughout the story, Ava and her eclectic group of friends are left to discover the truth and save Ava’s name and shop. Written with great detail and a warm cast of characters, the author has created a delightful mystery full of twists and turns that leave the reader guessing until the very end. | Reviewer: Marie Haney | 88 | www.BTSeMag.com An Interview Gathering Storm Victoria Danann What first led you to writing? I have a theory that, if you watch children closely, they will tell you who they are supposed to be by the time they are eight or nine. At that age I divided my time equally between drawing evening gowns and writing little novels. Today it would be called Bobbsey Twins fan fiction. I did have a career as an a designer of evening wear, had a New York showroom and a clientele mostly in Europe, South America and New York. Now I’m writing fiction. How did you come up with the idea for the Order of the Black Swan Series? I don’t know where stories come from. I was an only child before children became preoccupied by being reduced to receivers. There were no portable or handheld electronics, so I spent a lot of time making up stories in my head. I can’t tell you where the inspiration begins, but I can tell you that my imagination is wellexercised and practiced. Share with us a little about your current release and your next release. Gathering Storm, is the fifth installment in my serial saga just released September 19th. This series is a little different from what readers are used to because it’s an ongoing story – not in the sense of cliffhanging endings. Each book does tell its own story complete with ending, but the next begins where the last ended. That’s why each book comes with a strong recommendation for reading in order. The first four books were loosely based on themes of fairy tales or beloved stories, i.e., Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, The Pied Piper, and Little Red Riding Hood. These tales are situated against a backdrop of modern day knights and heroes, witches, elves, berserkers, psychics, demons, vampires, werewolves, and more. While that may sound silly or juvenile, or both, I assure you the series is neither. The fifth book graduated to a deeper context and examines the role of predestination as held up to the growing evidence that there are multiple dimensions and possible multiple versions of ourselves existing simultaneously. The sixth book, A Tale of Two Kingdoms, releasing December 8th, it the one people have begged for. The smallest turn of fate... Gathering Storm is the fifth installment of an ongoing story. Reading in order is strongly encouraged. Storm is really not himself. B Team must reunite to preserve his reputation. The Ralengclan send a new assassination team at the worst possible time, when he’s away and J.U. is left defended by a skeleton crew. What is the most rewarding thing about writing? Entertaining people, but getting to do something fun instead of work a job is a close second. I write unapologetic romances with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. Add a dash of scifi and a flourish of fantasy to enough humor to make you laugh out loud and, sometimes, enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. a.k.a the witch in the woods, The Woodlands, Texas. victoriadanann.com October 2013 | 89 | PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | To Catch a Princess Caridad Piñeiro Romantic Suspense Heat Rating: 3 Gathering Storm Victoria Danann Paranormal Heat Rating: 4 The only thing Princess Tatiana lacks is the one thing she really doesn’t want—a husband. Unfortunately, her parents have just arranged her marriage to a royal from the old country. Are they kidding? It’s the twenty-first century! Police Detective Peter Roman is a royal living incognito … and escaping a secret that has haunted his family for years. He’s been quietly in love with his best friend Prince Alexander’s sister for as long as he can remember. Little does she know that he is secretly the Grand Duke to whom she is unwillingly betrothed. A series of high-end jewelry heists threatens Tatiana’s exclusive charity exhibition, the two must trap the clever jewel thief before he strikes again. In a fight for their lives, Peter’s secret identity is revealed. With danger and passion increasing to the breaking point, she must decide: catch a thief...or trust the heart of her true love. REVIEW: Oh my, the royalty, the opulence and the love story of Tatiana & Peter. Thrust together while secretly admiring each other the couple goes on a whirlwind to stop of thief and fall in love, although before that happens secrets will be revealed that will ultimately break precious trust, but will love be enough to regain that trust? | Reviewer: Drue A. Hoffman | Storm is REALLY not himself. B Team must reunite to try and preserve his reputation. Jeffersonn Unit is left defended by a skeleton crew when Ralengclan renew their assassination mission. This book explores, an age old question. How much is your destiny predetermined by fate? REVIEW: Gathering Storm (Order of the Black Swan, #5) by Victoria Danann takes off in the fantasy science fiction genre with the fifth book in the Black Swan serial saga. Because this is the fifth book in the series and the books should be read in order, Preface I is a bit difficult for the new reader to interpret correctly without a bit of confusion. However, Preface II brings the new reader right into the story line in progress and Danann moves Gathering Storm along at an exciting, breathtaking pace with unorthodox childbirth, doubles from other dimensions, and political turnovers at Jefferson Unit. All of the story line threads start to appear by Chapter 4 and even the new reader feels familiar with the context. The dialogue in Gathering Storm gets fast and heavy and Danann writes an Irish accent impeccably reproduced on the page. Each character has a distinctive voice and the language on the page resonates in tones almost heard as well as read. The internal monologues of Elora, Glen and Litha express inner thoughts and turmoil occurring during the action packed episodes and they are written so well that the internal character discourse never takes the reader out of the story. Action and suspense does not taper off at the end of Danann’s Gathering Storm. Echoing the thoughts of Elora at Sol’s funeral…these stories have been written and must not be lost. Victoria Danann has produced a brilliant, beautiful world of extraordinary characters and if the reader starts with Gathering Storm (Order of the Black Swan #5) there is no question he or she will ask to read more of Danann’s work. | Reviewer: Kimberly Klemm | 90 | www.BTSeMag.com | PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE book reviews | Hunted Dreams Elle Hill Mystery Suspense Heat Rating: 2 Waking the Witch Lisa Whitefern Historical Romance/ Paranormal/BDSM Heat Rating: 3 Her history, her whereabouts, her name: She knows nothing. Nothing but her current reality: a constant stream of surrealistic scenarios in which she fights endless monsters. She is dreaming. So says the handsome man who uses his psychic ability to flicker in and out of her dreamscape. With Reed’s help, she slowly learns more about who she is, what trauma in her past keeps her locked inside her mind, and how she might escape. REVIEW: Trapped in a never-ending nightmare, a kidnapped woman falls in love with Reed, a not-so-human individual caught up in an ancient war between two sets of creatures. The first half of this dark, sinister plot would do well as a movie. Shifting dreams necessitates constant new scenery each requiring distinct descriptions making this hard to get into and difficult to stick with. Around halfway, the mysterious story comes together and the sometimes clunky writing is quite suddenly worth it. From then on, this intriguing story takes off and makes up for the painful beginnings. Due to the book’s sexual and sometimes violent content, I recommend this for adult audiences. | Reviewer: Michele Biring-Pani | From inside the stunning opal necklace, a haunting voice whispered, “Make love to him, Faith. Do it now!” Faith Abbot is a good Puritan woman, but the magic inside an opal necklace begins to torment her with lustful thoughts. For years her heart and body have craved handsome James Parris, a man twelve years her junior, a man she thinks should be courting women his own age. But now the magic of a ghost trapped in a jewel breaks down all her inhibitions. When she and James surrender to the fierce erotic tension that pulses between them, her heart fills with joy. But who is the angry female ghost dwelling within the necklace, wanting revenge? And when Faith is accused of performing witchcraft in Salem Village, can James’s love save her from the hangman’s noose? REVIEW: With a few characters taken from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Whitefern’s story revisits the Salem witch hunts. She puts a paranormal spin on the tragedy suggesting it’s the curse of a specter seeking revenge from being spurned by her lover that enchants an entire town to execute witches. The connection is flaky as the premise alludes to delving into the mass hysteria. Other than using expressions true to the lingo of early 17th century New England, the story falls short of fulfilling readers expectations. Faith Abbott, the widow to the ghost’s lover, is wrongfully accused of practicing witchcraft. Her hero James Parris is the voice of reason with the nature of a dreamer. The twisted perception of reality is frightening though the raptures of lusty touching between the pair makes the reader blush. It’s a short read that offers an alternative perspective of the Salem witch hunt. | Reviewer: Susan Frances | October 2013 | 91 Sneak Peek Deep in Crimson Sarah Gilman He shook his head, his chin rubbing against her hair. “Let it out. You won’t feel better until you do.” God help her, she did as he said. She gripped his jacket and set her grief free. Sobs shook her body, choked her throat, and continued until the sodden place they seeped from ran dry. She pulled away long enough to clean her face with tissues from her pockets. Steadied by Jett’s embrace, she shut her eyes and breathed in his scent. His flames caressed her cheek. An owl lifted off from the mausoleum roof and disappeared over the trees in startled flight. Much larger silhouettes followed a moment later as the archangels headed home, the rustle of their feathers a harsh sound in the still night. She’d lost all track of time, but the colony’s vigil traditionally broke up at one in the morning. Lexine leaned away. “Shouldn’t you be following them?” “Lark cut me loose for the rest of the evening. My presence with the family tonight was more ceremonial than anything else. My training starts at dawn.” “Well, congratulations.” She couldn’t keep the bitterness out of her voice. “Why does my decision upset you?” “Because you seem intent on getting yourself killed.” “They offered me a purpose that will outlast Lawrence. I accepted.” Kidnapped by humans and raised in a research facility, Jett was taught to believe his own race of demons insidious and violent. Jett wants to bring his captor to justice, but he must overcome the lies from his past and join forces with the demon Guardians, and the demon child’s older sister, Lexine. “After not even speaking to anyone for months?” She sighed, gripping his shoulders. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled you’re joining the community, but a Guardian?” “For the archangels.” “That’s worse.” “Why?” Warm weight settled against her side and over her shoulders. Jett sat in the grass with her, flames licking down his arms. He lifted her and resettled them in a private corner created by the stone steps and the wall, and she didn’t protest. She gave in to the hypnotic comfort of the fire and leaned against him. “You are strong, Lexine.” Had she expressed that doubt out loud? She wiped at her face and held her breath in an attempt to dam the sobs. “Because there’s nothing more dangerous.” Sarah Gilman’s fascination with wings began in the third grade, when images of the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis captured her imagination and never let go. Now a paranormal romance writer, she employs her love of writing to bring the allure of winged creatures to the pages of her novels. Sarah lives in Vermont with her supportive husband and two spoiled cats. sarahgilmanbooks.blogspot.com “This damn economy, these vamps is the only thing makes the carnival profitable,” said “Colonel” Kearney as he guided his guest toward the main show tent. The line at the door was already fifty deep, even though the show wouldn’t begin for another half hour. “Everybody wants to see the last vampires on Earth.” Maura McMahon felt vastly overdressed. She’d had a hearing that ran late, and she’d had to drive straight from the courthouse out to the dirt parking area without changing from her suit. Coveralls would’ve been more appropriate or shorts and a loose top, but at least she’d had her flats. When she’d climbed out of her extended cab truck, the heat and humidity hit her like a sledgehammer. Her blouse stuck to her skin like a wet T-shirt, although the days when Maura might’ve qualified for a wet T-shirt contest were well behind her. She didn’t like the heat; she hated the humidity; and she despised traveling carnivals. But she was on a mission, so she gritted her teeth against the grit in the air and forged on. The Colonel parted the flap and led her inside. In the dim light of a few incandescent bulbs, she saw the steel cage, the bank of unlit fluorescents overhead, and the two coffins within along with a sink, table, and cabinet. In the back of the cage was a trough with a hose attached that ran outside to a refrigeration unit. That would be where the pigs’ blood was stored that kept the vampires alive. Or undead. Whatever. “That’s one of Dickie’s jobs,” said the Colonel, nodding toward the feeding setup. “Feeds the vamps | The Last Vampires On Earth | after each show.” “And how’s Dickie doing?” asked Maura. He was the reason she was here, the reason she was grateful that her hometown, depressed along with most of the Midwest, was on the carnival’s regular tour. “Well, you know.” “Well, no, I don’t. That’s why I asked to see you. As his attorney and as custodian of his trust.” Before the Colonel could answer that he knew all that, the flap parted and young Dickie walked in. He was tall and pencil thin, and the bottoms of his coveralls stopped above the tops of droopy socks that might have been white once upon a time. “Folks are getting restless, Colonel. Saw you and the lady walk in, think they should come in too, you know?” He turned his face toward Maura and asked, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” “Hello, Dickie, I’m Maura. Do you remember me?” “Oh, yeah, Mommy and Daddy’s friend.” He scratched his head, as if to dig out the memory. “It was your little airplane, wa’nt it? The one we crashed in?” “Yes. Your daddy borrowed it to fly you and your mommy on vacation. He was a good pilot, Dickie, but he wasn’t prepared for the bad weather.” “I’m sorry we ruined your little airplane.” “It’s all right, Dickie. Believe me, I miss your parents much more than I miss the plane. But that was ten years ago. You were five. And now you’re living . . . here.” Maura sounded falsely cheerful, even to herself. She wanted to ask Dickie if he was getting his home schooling regularly; if he was happy as a carnival roustabout; and why he didn’t address the Colonel as the uncle he was. But she didn’t want to do it in the man’s presence. She also wanted to feel him out about the proposition she was bringing to the table. That would have to be cleared with the Colonel first, but she didn’t think that would be a problem. “Okay, Dickie, tell Roy to man the booth and let the paying customers in.” He turned to Maura as Dickie left. “Dumber’n a box o’ rocks, he is, but he can fix anything mechanical that breaks down. What folks like to call a savant, I guess.” The seats closest to the cage began to fill up. People ate funnel cakes from paper cones, corn dogs on sticks, and greasy cheese steaks. Most of the men wore sleeveless undershirts, and some of the women, if you could call them that, did too. One in particular had huge boobs that rested on a gut that could have been stamped with a tire brand. Tattoos covered every visible inch of her, and there were a lot of visible inches. Where, moaned Maura inwardly, had self-respect gone? “Tell me about the vampires,” she said. “After the eradication, the only ones I thought were left were in the Smithsonian, stuffed.” “Yeah, well, funny thing about that.” He didn’t elaborate. She stared at him. “It’s all legal. I got a government permit and all.” I’ll bet you do, she thought. But I’ll bet when you were issued it, it wasn’t for a side show attraction. The Colonel walked down front and stood between the spectators and the cage. The audience grew still. He announced in his best stentorian voice, “Laydeees and gen . . . tlemen. In the coffins before you are the last two vampires on Earth. Brought to you at great expense and at a cost far greater than money: extreme and deadly danger. Because if either of them got their fangs into any of us . . . or any of you good people . . . the epidemic would start all over again. You’d end up in a cage like them. Silver would burn right through you. A wooden stake would turn you into dust. Sunlight would burn you to a crisp. And that fate is what our crew braved when we captured these creatures that once were human. Creatures who are now mere trained animals presented to you for your education and amusement. And now, without further ado . . .” He turned toward the cage. “The. Last. Vampires. On Earth!” Maura McMahon stared with the others as the coffin lids swung open, and the vampires emerged, slowly, just as they’d been rehearsed, just as they’d performed for show after show, in return for the cold, unsatisfying, pigs’ blood that provided their sustenance. The man was dressed like Bela Lugosi: black cutaway coat, white shirt, white bow tie, and a black cape lined in red velvet. The woman wore a diaphanous white nightgown, revealing deep cleavage and a heaving bosom. Obviously, she didn’t have to breathe, so this was another part of the act. Heavy 94 | www.BTSeMag.com makeup disguised her sunken cheeks and splashed them with a touch of rose. The impression was one of innocence about to be sullied. The woman (female, thought Maura; she couldn’t be called a woman any more, could she?) approached the front of the cage, looking fearful, while the male hovered—literally, hovered—above and behind her. The audience marveled at the vampire’s ability to levitate, and then held its collective breath as he lowered himself to the floor behind the female and proceeded to ravish her with kisses as she pretended to resist, weakly, before finally succumbing to his attentions and baring her neck to him. The male turned the female toward the rear of the cage for the bite, and the spectators grew suspicious. “It’s a fake,” murmured the tattooed tub to her boyfriend. But then the vampires turned again, the man’s face covered in stage blood, the woman’s bereft of makeup. The Colonel, standing to the side, flipped a switch and the bank of fluorescents flickered. About half of them came on fully. The rest sputtered silently. Under the new bright lighting, the vampires bolted for the bars as if reaching for the audience. Screams erupted. A few youngsters in the first row (wasn’t there an “Under 21 not allowed” policy?) jumped backward, crashing their chairs against those behind them. Both vampires drew back their lips and hissed, revealing needle-sharp yellow fangs. Then they flew about the cage, graceful as ballet dancers, the female in her billowing gown followed by the male, as if they were spirits floating on their way to heaven. A travesty of religious symbolism, thought Maura. She looked from the cage to the audience and had to wonder who were the trained animals here. The show ended when the pair returned to their coffins and closed the lids. The spectators filed out, heading for the vendors, the rides, and the games of chance, while another line began forming outside for the next show. When the tent was empty, the vampires came out again. The male washed his face of the fake blood, and the female applied fresh makeup. They said nothing, didn’t acknowledge the Colonel or his guest, but occasionally the female would direct a red-eyed glance in their direction. Maura thought she might have caught something in those looks. “I’ll have to have Dickie drive into town tomorrow and get a case of new bulbs,” remarked the Colonel. “He’s fifteen; he’s not old enough to drive.” October 2013 | 95 | The Last Vampires On Earth | The Colonel winked. “Hell, lady, he’s big for his age, and he can drive as good as you and me put together. Like I said, he may have the IQ of a head of lettuce and a face that looks like a pepperoni pizza and teeth so buck he could eat a ham sandwich through a Venetian blind, but he’s also, like I said, a savant. Like Billy Bob in that old movie, right?” He turned to address the vampires. “Take ten,” said the Colonel in a tone meant to impress his guest. “Be back in your coffins in fifteen.” The pair said nothing. Then he escorted Maura out of the tent and toward his trailer. Inside, he poured himself a scotch, neat, and offered her one. She politely refused. The Colonel plopped onto a sofa as Maura took a straightbacked upholstered chair. He was dressed like a circus ringmaster with the addition of a huge silver cross depending from a silver chain around his neck. He wore silver rings on each finger. “Dickie’s feeding them now,” he said, “souping them up for the next show. So what can I do for you, Ms. McMahon?” Maura took a breath. “I represent a couple who might be interested in adopting Dickie.” “What’s that? What would anyone want with that—” He stopped suddenly, alert for a possible opportunity. “Their names are Donald and Beverly Stout. He’s an orthodontist, and she runs a small floral shop from their home. They have a Down syndrome son about Dickie’s age, and he wants a brother like other kids have. I told them about Dickie, and they said they’d like to meet him.” “Go on.” “I think you’ll agree that they could offer him a more, um, familyoriented, more secure environment than he has now, if you don’t mind my saying so. As his legal guardian and only living relative, you, of course, have the final say.” “Well . . . ol’ Dickie is kinda important around here. He works hard.” “He’s a minor, Colonel Kearney. He’s clearly undernourished; he’s dressed in what look like hand-me-ups from a younger boy—” “He’s not finished growing yet. I can buy him new stuff at a consignment shop when he’s full size. And don’t talk to me about braces and dermatology, ’cause we’re never in one place long enough.” 96 | www.BTSeMag.com “I understand. Which brings me to—” “We got a tutor for him, that’s what you’re thinking. She works the shooting gallery. You can talk to her if you want.” “No, I was referring to your monthly draw from his trust account.” The Colonel looked cagey. “I only draw what I—that is, what he—needs.” “I’m sure you do. But don’t you think he’d be happier in a more traditional home with a mother and a father and even a sibling to provide some stability in his life?” The Colonel poured himself another scotch and looked down at the dirty floor. “Adoption ain’t cheap, I hear.” She knew that would be coming. “The Stouts are prepared to make an offer. For your expenses, you understand.” She handed him a slip of paper. He looked at it and his eyes narrowed. First offers were never enough, but this one was more than he’d have expected. Still, if this was their first offer, he knew he could draw out more. Imagine, he thought, me, dealing in black market babies. “I’ll think about it,” he said. “Right now, I’ve got another show to do. If you’ll excuse me.” “I’d like to bring Mrs. Stout with me tomorrow, if you don’t mind. To meet Dickie.” “You know where I’ll be, Ms. McMahon.” They stood with the Colonel inside the steamy show tent, the incandescent lights lending wan illumination. He was explaining the act to Beverly when Dickie walked in. “Hello, Colonel, Ms. McMahon. Oh, hello, Ms. . . .” “Mrs. Stout,” Beverly said. “I came out here to meet you, Dickie.” He frowned but nodded amicably, waiting. “Dickie,” barked the Colonel. “Did you go into town and get the case of fluorescents I sent you for?” “Yes, sir. I got a good deal at—” “And did you install them like I told you? Replace all the lamps, even the ones that still worked?” “I did, sir.” “Okay, then, get outside and tell Roy to start collecting tickets. Show starts in a half hour.” “Yes, sir.” “May we speak with him, privately?” asked Beverly. “Why, sure. You can use my trailer. But don’t keep him too long, he’s got work to do.” The women walked outside. “It seems he’s always got work to do,” whispered Maura. They found Dickie and took him to the trailer. “I’m use’ly not allowed in here,” the boy remarked. Maura assured him they had permission. Beverly guided him to the sofa and sat beside him. Maura observed from the chair she’d sat in yesterday. “So, Dickie,” Beverly began, “are you happy here?” He thought a minute before replying. “I guess so. The Colonel keeps me busy. I sleep good at the end of the day.” “Why do you call him Colonel? Why not Uncle?” He started. “How’d you know that? Colonel says no October 2013 | 97 Beverly Stout was an attractive woman, the Colonel noticed next evening. Around forty, a good age for women as far as he was concerned, with short dark hair and big brown eyes, real sweet smile. Nice headlights, too, come to think of it. She wore khaki shorts and a sleeveless white blouse. The lawyer, who was more his own age, had on a baggy blue sundress and carried a satchel. Both looked a little more uncomfortable than the heat and humidity warranted. | The Last Vampires On Earth | one’s s’posed to know that.” “It’s all right,” said Maura from the chair. “We won’t tell anyone.” “You said the Colonel keeps you busy,” said Beverly. “Do you get time for lessons? Like reading and math, things like that?” Dickie tucked his lower lip beneath his upper teeth. “I guess so.” “Do you know where you are right now?” “Oh, yes ma’am.” He straightened up proudly. “In the Yew-nited States of ’Merica.” The women looked at each other. Maura nodded. Beverly said, “Dickie, I have a boy at home about your age. Would you like to meet him? He loves to play ball and swim in our pool.” “You’ve got a pool? A real swimmin’ pool?” He blinked twice. “Well, sure, but only if the Colonel says it’s all right.” The three left the trailer and returned to the tent, where the show was about to begin. The heat inside was tainted with the stinging scent of sweat. They stood behind the back row, Dickie between the women, as the Colonel delivered his spiel. The audience shifted in their seats. Some coughed, others cleared their throats. A man in the front row stretched his legs and slumped in his metal folding chair. When he turned to tell his female companion that it had to be a fake, the pale light glanced off the piercings in his eyebrows, nostrils, up and down his ears, and through his lower lip. Beverly leaned toward Dickie. “What do you think of the body armor?” “I think it’s weird, Mrs. If you don’t mind my saying so.” “His tongue is probably pierced too, and I don’t want to guess what else. My husband won’t treat anyone with a pierced tongue. Says it’s unsanitary and it chips the teeth, and if they don’t care enough about their personal hygiene, why should he? Did I tell you? He’s a dentist.” Dickie drew his upper lip down over his buck teeth, suddenly self-conscious. The Colonel finished his spiel: “And now, without further ado . . .” He turned toward the cage. “The. Last. Vampires. On Earth!” The coffins opened, and the two vampires paraded through their charade one more time. The male hovered behind the female. He “seduced” her. They spun their backs to the audience for the simulated coup de grâce. They spun back, stage blood on the male’s face, makeup gone from the female’s. They bolted for the audience, as they’d done a hundred times before. The Colonel flipped on the fluorescents. Light flooded the cage. The vampires screamed. Their skin smoked. They exploded. The audience shouted. The people in the front rows, including body armor man, frantically jumped up and scraped their hands over their bodies to rid themselves of the ashy debris that clung to them like glue. But the person who screamed the loudest was the Colonel. His words, if they were words at all, came out gibberish. The panicked spectators fled, all of them with stories to tell their families and friends of how they were there when the last vampires on Earth died. 98 | www.BTSeMag.com The women and Dickie remained, dumbstruck. The Colonel saw the boy and his eyes bugged. His jaw dropped and spittle flew from his mouth. “You! It’s your fault!” He rushed to the back of the tent and gripped the boy by the throat. “I don’t know how you did it, but you ruined me! I’m gonna kill you, you useless piece of shit!” It took both Maura and Beverly to pry the Colonel’s fingers back, and for a moment, they stood frozen in tableau. “I’m ruined,” cried the Colonel as they released him, and his hands fell to his sides. Then he looked at the lawyer and her client. “Take the worthless son of a bitch,” he moaned. “Before I actually do kill him.” Dickie looked at the three, clearly bewildered. Maura opened her satchel and retrieved some papers. She passed them to the Colonel along with a pen. “Sign where the Xs are, please, and we’re done.” He did. They turned to leave, Beverly holding Dickie’s hand. “Wait a minute,” said the Colonel. “I saw a number on a piece of paper yesterday.” Maura shooed Beverly and Dickie out of the tent. “Colonel, you are clearly guilty of neglect if not outright child abuse, and you have two witnesses willing, no, eager to testify that they saw you choke him and threaten his life. In other words, you’re a Division of Youth and Family Services lawyer’s wet dream. Do you get my drift?” “But—I’m ruined.” “Colonel, you were ruined long before tonight.” Beverly wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “I’m sure you did, Dickie, I’m sure you did.” She paused, equally confused. “But what was it you did, exactly?” After the braces and some dermatology treatments, she thought—and some real food—he won’t be a bad looking kid. And she had a feeling that he and her son would get along famously. Dickie said, “Well, the Colonel sent me into town to find one of them big box stores. He needed a case of fluorescent lights for the vampire show. Well, there wa’n’t no big box stores anywheres. I looked.” “No,” said Maura from the front seat. “Town’s too small to support one. A big-name hardware store was going to come in, but with the economy so bad, they put it on hold.” “Uh huh, whatever. So anyways, what I did find was this hardware store, you know? I told the guy what I needed, and he gave me a great deal, like the whole case cost half of what the Colonel gave me to spend.” “That’s good, right?” said Beverly. “Exactly. He told me I could have ’em at half price ’cause the tanning salon that ordered ’em had gone out of business.” The women laughed so hard that Maura nearly drove off the road. “Did I say somethin’ funny?” Beverly sat in the back of the truck’s extended cab alongside Dickie as Maura drove. The carnival grounds were deserted. Roustabouts were dousing the lights. “But why was he mad at me?” asked Dickie as he scratched his head through a thicket of straw-colored hair. “I thought I done good.” Stephen M. DeBock is the author of The Pentacle Pendant (a print novel in which a present-day werewolf becomes a one-woman star chamber) and six e-publications, among them “Morgen,” nominated for best short story/horror in the 2011 Preditors and Editors Online Reader Poll. His writing has been published in American Heritage, Spider, and Living Aboard magazines and AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) Pilot Online. Visit his author pages at Journal Stone, Gypsy Shadow, and the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. October 2013 | 99 100 | www.BTSeMag.com BEYOND the fairy TALE YOUNG & NEW ADULT Featured Authors, REVIEWS and more BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed NEW ADULT Death Cheater Danielle Thorne Young Adult Paranormal Heat Rating: 1 YOUNG & | book reviews | Whether it’s strange things like dead butterflies fluttering to life, or the time she saved her dying grandpa, Athena Gray knows she is different. And so does a dark spirit who wants to use her. REVIEW: I found that this book was brilliantly written, it flowed very well and was by far an easy read. The book pulled me in right away and I couldn’t have asked for more. That’s what I like, when a book grabs my attention and refuses to let me go and this is exactly what this book gave me. It took hold of my attention and I hung on to the very last word, however, the reason this books is 4 ½ is because I wanted a little more out of the ending, It felt unfinished and not nearly good enough. I needed and wanted more and I still do. It’s a quick one day read, and you don’t struggle to keep up. I can’t fault in any other way, so go read it, enjoy it, and love it. I know you will, because I did. | Reviewer: Nila Bi | October 2013 | 102 BOOKS FOR Words Perfect Jane Toombs & Janet Lane Walters Non Fiction build your story, how to develop characters and plot a scene; all the perquisites for not boring the reader to death with just bland facts. As the saying goes too much of one ingredient can spoil the food, the same applies to when writing a novel. The writer needs to add all the writing techniques in specific doses to capture the readerâ€™s imagination. 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