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on the cover

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contents May/June 2016

columns 27 The Heat Diva

MYTH BUSTING LONG-DISTANCE LOVE

features 34 Loose ID 74 Deanna Jewel 104 Nancy Fraser

39 The Hot Hunks of History WHY WE LOVE MR. DARCY

49 The Scrying Eye

OF GHOSTS, GANGS AND GIANT MONSTERS...

61 Ali B & The Forty Spaceships LIFE, LOVECRAFT, BOOKS, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

83 Young at Heart WITCHY WORKINGS

93 Addicted to Romance

SECOND CHANCE ROMANCES

genres 25 EROTIC & SENSUAL 37 HISTORICAL & WESTERN

Special Report

BTS Red Carpet Awards

47 MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

15

59 SCI-FI/FANTASY & PARANORMAL

short story

81 YOUNG ADULT 91 CONTEMPORARY & ROMANCE

77 plus

on the website Blogging 101 with Heather Powers Karen’s Writing Detours with Karen Albright Lin Issue 33 | May/June 2016 |

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BTS Book Reviews

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Issue 33 | May/June 2016 |

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From the Desk of

Babs Hightower BTS CEO

BTS Red Carpet Awards The awards were held on April 7th which you can find the article in this issue with tons of pictures. We had a great time and want to thank Stella Price for a job well done. BTS Book Reviews Covers All 2016 covers are sold out! Get yours for 2017 before they are all gone. http:// btsemag.com/advertising/cover-sales/ BTS Book Reviews Sales We have a new sale going on for July/ August issue. Get more information in this issue and also with this post. http://btsemag.com/junejuly-salehalf-off-better-get-while-you-can/ We will be changing the way the awards have been handled and moving forward more people will be able to enter and or win. Stay tuned for more information regarding this later on.

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BTS Half-Off Sale!!

Every single ad in the magazine is half off. That’s right you read it right HALF OFF. Are you an author or have a Editing services, Bloggers, Website developersCover & graphic artists, PR companies/services, Marketing service, Author Assistants, Ghosts Writers, Social Media Experts, Writing Services, Agents? You can get an ad too.

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2-Page 3 Book Showcase 2-Page 3 Book Showcase Pricing: $120.00 now $60.00 2-Page Book Showcase 2-Page Book Showcase Pricing: $120.00 now $60.00 Full-Page Author Interview Author Interview Pricing: $85.00 now $ 42.50 1-Page Sneak Peek 1-Page Sneak Peek Pricing: $75.00 now $37.50 In case you have issues with the links http://btsemag.com/advertising/features/ Any questions please email Babs at Babsh@btsemag.com Get them while you can we have limited space.

Issue 33 | May/June 2016 |

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Introducing:

BTS Book Covers Let BTS Designers help make your book stand out!

Book covers can make or break a novel. In today’s market, your book needs to be noticed in the crowd. A cover can get a browsing reader to stop and give your book an extra look. At BTS Book Reviews, we want to give you a chance to get that second look, that little bit of extra valuable time a potential reader will have with your book. And we want to be able to give you a good value. BTS Designers are now offering their services for your book cover. Let the BTS design team help make your book stand out with a stunning cover. BTS values it’s authors and publishing houses and are pleased to offer cover services starting at $75. What you recieve: Digital copy of your cover in exact size for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. at 300dpi.

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Publisher

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Ellysian Press ellysianpress.com Publishers, find out what BTS can do for you! Download

our free Publisher’s Guide!

Ellysian Press had an awesome 2015, with so many wonderful writers joining our family. We released some fascinating books by extremely talented authors. We wish everyone the very best for 2016. EP is looking for solid Paranormal Romance, strong writing with a unique voice. We also accept Sci Fi, Fantasy, Horror and Paranormal, with Young Adult in those genres. Please check out our website for our submission guidelines: http://www.ellysianpress. com/submissions/

Evernight Publishing evernightpublishing.com

Advertising, features, covers, reviews and more! At BTS, we do more than place your authors in our magazine. We showcase your company, your authors, and your books within our digital magazine and across our entire network. Our promotional team works hard to get you noticed! Every advertiser in our magazine will have its message seen by thousands of readers and promoted across the most popular social networks. Find out more today, contact babs@ btsemag.com for details about how BTS can help you bring your authors into the spotlight!

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Find your next smart and sexy book at Evernight Publishing, a premier publisher of Romance, Erotic Romance and Urban Fantasy. With new titles releasing daily, readers will find a large selection of contemporary, paranormal, gay, interracial, historical, sweet romance, ménage and everything in between at evernightpublishing.com Young Adult fans will love our fresh, real and raw teen fiction line at Evernight Teen. Find something new by today’s hottest Young Adult authors at evernightteen.com!


dustry Insider |

ou Can Use SoulMate Publishing soulmatepublishing.com We are actively seeking authors who can tell an exciting story and aren’t afraid to venture into new territory. We encourage novels that are original and blur the genre lines.

5 Prince Publishing 5princebooks.com 5 Prince Publishing is currently seeking submissions of 5080k words in Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense. Please send brief query, synopsis, and first three chapters (in email not attached) to submissions@5princebooks.com For full submission guidelines visit http://www.5princebooks.com/ submissions.html

Loose ID loose-id.com Check out the wide variety of genres from the great authors at Loose Id Publishing! BDSM & Fetish, Contemporary, Cowboy & Western, Crossdressing, Fantasy & Paranormal, Full-figured Heroines, Historical, Holidays, LGBTTQ, Menage & Polyamory, Multicultural, Mystery & Suspense, New Adult,Science Fiction & Space Opera, Series, Shapeshifters, Steampunk, Supernatural, Time Travel, Urban Fantasy, Vampires

Issue 33 | May/June 2016 |

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Upcoming

| Industry Insider |

2016 Conventions

BOOK EXPO AMERICA McCormick Place, Chicago, IL May 11-13, 2016 http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/Show-Info/Event-At-AGlance-Hours/#page=Event-Hours WEEKEND WITH THE AUTHORS Nashville, TN May 13-15, 2016 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/weekend-with-the-authors-formerly-known-as-a-day-with-the-authors-tickets-16789480789 THE 2016 ROMANCE NOVEL CONVENTION Las Vegas, NV June 1-5, 2016 http://www.romancenovelconvention.com READERS AND WRITERS UNITE Houston, TX August 5-7, 2016 http://bookrhythm.com/readers-and-writers-unite-2016/ KALLYPSO CON Casper, WY August 26-28, 2016 http://kallypsomasters.com/kallypsocon/kallypsocon-2016/

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ROMCON Denver, CO September 30-October 1, 2016 http://www.romcon.com/romcon-2016 IMAGINARIUM CONVENTION Louisville, KY October 7-9, 2016 http://www.entertheimaginarium.com/ SHAMELESS BOOK CON Orlando, FL October 22, 2016 http://shamelessbookclub.com/shameless-book-con/ MIDWESTERN BOOK LOVERS UNITE READER AND AUTHOR CONFERENCE Bloomington, MN October 20-23, 2016 http://www.midwesternbookloversunite.com/


| Red Carpet Awards 2016 | Red Carpet Awards 2016 As many of you know the awards took place this year in Atlanta and with Stella at The Novel Experience Event ( TNEE ). April 7th was awards night.

The awards were held at Fandangle’s Restaurant in the lounge. Cozy setting and everyone seemed to have a great time.

The lovely Elizabeth Raven took pictures as the authors received their trophy or certificate. Stella was nice enough to buy a round of drinks for everyone and Mindy got everyone a drink called The Red Carpet.

We each went around the room and introduced ourselves and got to know each other a bit.

As you can see from the pictures we all had a great time.

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| Babs Hightower |

Issue 33 | May/June 2016 |

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COVER AUTHOR Showcase


| COVER AUTHOR |

Landra Graf Landra Graf consumes one book a day, and is a sucker for stories love conquers all. She believes in the power and joy of the written word. Besides spending time with her family, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

BTS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I fell in love with reading when I was six years-old and my grandmother introduced me to the BoxCar Children. I started writing my own stories in middle school and dreaming up paranormal adventures. After high school, life decided to butt its head into my plans. I got brought back to reading by a day job co-worker in 2009 and finally decided to write a romance. Since then I’ve been writing books. BTS: How would you describe your books to readers? I write a little something for everyone. My focus is on contemporary, paranormal, erotic, and alternate history genres. My favorite type of story to write is what I call action adventure romance – think Romancing the Stone.

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BTS: What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on a contemporary romance, which is an interpretation of Pygmalion. BTS: Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why? Raven Pirate Assassin Spy is my absolute favorite. The story is an Alternate History tale. It blends action and romance, and features a strong, assassin heroine. This is a story from my heart and the first in a series. I hope to submit the second in the series to my publisher soon. BTS: What books have most influenced you as a writer? The Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook had a huge impact on my writing, inspiring me to take on projects that may not be popular or follow the mainstream path. Other books include, Pandora by Anne Rice and Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Both provide sympathetic villains and amazing characterization. BTS: What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding? The most challenging part of writing is not losing one’s voice. In critiques and edits it’s easy to see the voice of the author or story lost if you’re not careful. I try to ensure my voice and my characters voices remain throughout the journey from submission to publication. The most rewarding part of writing is the final product, seeing the story complete. BTS: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? I’ve got at least three more books planned in my alternate history series, and at least five books in the works for my contemporary series. Readers of my erotic romances will be happy to learn that the contemporary series features characters from the same world. Also on the docket is a special alternate history story, but I plan to write it in the future.


| LANDRA GRAF | BTS: Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers? I want to share my thanks for their support. Second, my readers will be able to see me on the road this summer. I’ll be attending A Weekend with the Authors in Nashville May 13th-15th, Wild in West Virginia in Charleston June 10th, and Readers and ‘ritas in Allen, TX November 11th-13th. I hope they will be able to visit me on my travels. I love talking books with folks, especially learning about their own favorites.

Enjoy an excerpt from: Sigmund Bermudez has spent the last year out of the BDSM scene, mourning the death of his father and rebuilding the family business. When he loses a bet to his bodyguard, he finds himself committed to a date he doesn’t want.

1Night Stand, she jumps at it.

Lauren Elser has heard about kinky escapades, but never taken in part in one. When offered a chance to explore this side of herself courtesy of

Neither of them is prepared for the emotional rollercoaster their date brings, and soon shibari bondage play turns into much more. The only problem, Sig’s not ready to open up and Lauren doesn’t want to be used again. But if they work past the issues, there’s a world of wonder in store.

“My relationships didn’t ever last long enough for gifts.” “Because...” He waited, and as usual his hands sought their own occupation, twisting the cloth napkin into a simple slipknot. “I had career goals. Relationships were a natural casualty in my pursuit of professional success. The one guy I got serious about—” She smothered a laugh with her palm. He understood. “It’s weird wanting to tell someone you just met anything and everything.” “You have no idea. I’m not used to doing the talking.” Her job, a therapist. He’d been recommended to one, but preferred to work through his leftover emotions by saving the casino. Words were not action. Still, a profession like hers no doubt came with a big emotional cost. “I’m told doctors need therapy too. Keep going.” Instead of rebuking at his gentle command, she relaxed. Tension eased from her shoulders, arms going to the armrests on the dining room chair. “His name isn’t worth mentioning, but he didn’t cut it... in the sack.” “Too vanilla?” “Too concerned with his own orgasm, and any requests or lack of enthusiasm earned me some rude responses. Then he told me I’m too frigid to try new sexual experiences. So I got rid of him.” “Ouch.” Sig stood, walking around the table and offered to help her up. She took it. “I’ll try to make sure I meet all your needs, then.”

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| COVER AUTHOR | She laughed, a throaty, melodic sound, which had his half-mast XXX springing to full attention. “I’d like a good submissive experience to see if this is something I want.” “Are you enjoying yourself?” Time to find out if she’d admit to her submissiveness from the moment she’d walked in the door. He directed her actions and so far she’d capitulated like a pro. “Yes.” “What do you want?” Normally he’d never ask such a question. It laid the foundation for a sub to top from the bottom, which he’d never agree to or condone. “I want your ropes.”

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Enjoy these other titles:


| LANDRA GRAF |

Visit Landra at:

LandraGraf.com

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Sensual Romance and Erotics of all genres, shapes and sizes

see BEHIND closed DOORS

EROTIC & SENSUAL

Issue 33 | May/June 2016 |

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trends reading trends in erotic

Heat DIVA The

Alisha Paige

Myth Busting Long-Distance Love There’s a big myth out there about long-distance relationships—a real silly myth and one of the world’s best kept secrets in the Heat Diva’s very own personal opinion. Fret not, she’s here to clear this one up for you. Listen up if you’re in a long-distance relationship and you have no idea where the next call is coming from.

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| The Heat Diva | Love Myth Buster #1—Long-distance relationships don’t work. I call bull poop on this one! Nothing makes the hearth fires burn hotter than when you finally see your lover after months or possibly even years. Just the anticipation of your darling returning home is enough to catch the breath. Making plans for your reunion is enough to make your toes curl and your heart ache like there’s no tomorrow. Love Myth Buster #2—Even if your longdistance relationship works for a while, it won’t last. Ignore the naysayers on this one, girls! True love always lasts. No ocean, mountain, desert, or valley can keep you from the one you’re meant to be with for a lifetime. Life has so many twists and turns, but the great thing to remember is that all roads lead to home. And home is where the heart is—love will find a way! Love Myth Buster #3—Couples can’t stay loyal in a long-distance relationship. Phooey! Don’t discuss this with your granny because she’ll tell you that we all have “needs,” and if those needs aren’t met, we are forced to seduce sexy strangers in hotel piano bars. Nothing wrong with a little flirting with someone we aren’t committed to, but if you’re truly in love, after a few drinks, you’ll slip into something sexy, head to bed, and either video Skype or Facetime your lover. My hubby works out of town a lot. We’re totally devoted to one another, so if either of us gets too randy, we wait until the kids are in bed, light a candle, grab a glass of wine, and Facetime each other. Hey, it’s not the same as having him in the flesh, but hearing his voice, seeing his sexy face— among other things he might wish to flash me—is a huge turn on and makes us anticipate the real deal. So how do you know if your love will last? Is it lust or love, and can you have both? Absolutely! If you don’t pant at the thought of one other, move on. Even a trip to the grocery store can be crazy hot! It won’t be uncommon to salivate when you run across . . . say . . . honey or whipped cream— imagining all the fun the two of you will have when you get your hands on one another. Love and lust go hand in hand. When you’re in tune with the soul of your lover, it all comes out in the bedroom. Planning your time together when you haven’t seen each other in forever is so much fun and

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something you can do together on those long phone conversations. You can plan a delicious meal, complete with appetizers and desserts, and when your reunion comes, if you make it to dessert, I’ll be floored. Time away truly makes you appreciate every single second with your lover. A walk in the park is sunnier while every touch sends shivers across your heated skin. That last kiss before he or she boards an airplane is so, so bittersweet. Soak it in and revel in it. Inhale deeply and drink all of it in to tide you over until you meet again. Long-distance relationships are so rich in adventure and wanting. You never know when you’ll see each other or where. I’ve met my honey in airports many states away, and we’ve taken amazing vacations when he received little bits of time off. Watching him walk off that plane in the winter with a long beard when I’d last seen him clean shaven made my pulse race. I’d barely recognized him except for his eyes when they locked onto mine. Talk about a heated rush of love and emotions. Very intoxicating! We’d drive each other insane if he was home all the time. Seriously. We’ve tried it. After a few months, I’m begging him to go out of town, so we can get away from our redundant, boring life in the same city. And so off he goes. Last time my lover was gone for six months. We’d been together for ten years and decided it was time to tie the knot. He had a weekend off, so we met in Vegas and got married in the oldest chapel there, the one where all the Hollywood stars get married. We walked the strip in our wedding attire, and people sent drinks our way all night long. Now that’s living, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, if you feel like you’re stuck in a longdistance relationship, book a flight. Meet halfway. Make that one weekend last forever, and tie the knot. Do it your way, you romantic, sexy thing! Make this summer one to remember! Cheers, The Heat Diva Wild Cat by Christine Feehan (Leopard People, #8, Jove—available now)


| Alisha Paige | Wild Cat by Christine Feehan (Leopard People, #8, Jove—available now Star Rating: 5 Stars Heat Rating: Scorching Siena Arnotto is all alone in the world, protected by her very powerful grandfather. As the book opens, Siena is clueless about her grandfather’s secret life and their leopard heritage, but strange new sensations and needs soon take over, leading her into a world of dark abuse and longing, leaving her confused and entirely too aroused. Review: I have to admit the abuse scene at the beginning of the book made me want to toss it into the fire, but Ms. Feehan had me curious as hell, so I turned the pages. One must remember this is paranormal erotica, and these things of ultradarkness are to be expected and, in the long run, admired and longed for. The leopard is a beast and a hungry beast at that. The love scenes do not disappoint, and the plot makes you yearn for more of this very talented writer. Well done, Ms. Feehan. I enjoyed this read immensely.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Alisha Paige lives in the Deep South with her husband and children. Her favorite things in life are her children laughing, her kitty cat curled at her feet, candlelight, thunderstorms, nostalgic music, good books, dark chocolate, and red wine. She writes under the pen names Alisha Paige, Ruby Vines, and Wolfgang Pie. You can find her books at www.alishapaige.com and wolfgangpie.com

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reviews erotic | senusal romance

Cressida’s Dilemma

It’s Complicated

Erotic Historical Heat Rating: 5

Erotic Heat Rating: 4

Beverly Oakley

A woman who fears her husband is being unfaithful takes an extraordinary and sensual journey to discover an unexpected truth—and helps unravel the mystery of

a lost child. Eight years of marriage has not dimmed Cressida—Lady Lovett’s—love for her husband, but the birth of five children has cooled her ardor. Now rumors are circulating that the kind, dashing and seemingly ever-patient Justin, Lord Lovett, has returned to the arms of his former mistress, and Cressida believes her choices are stark—welcome her husband back to the marital bed and risk a sixth pregnancy she fears will kill her, or lose him forever. With the astonishing discovery that methods exist to enable the innocent Cressida to transform herself into the vixen of her husband’s dreams without expanding her nursery, she seeks to repay the woman responsible for her empowerment…only to discover her unlikely benefactress was, and perhaps still is, her husband’s mistress. Review: Fear of an unwanted pregnancy was causing Cressida to avoid the advances of her husband. Then her gossiping cousin said her husband was keeping the company of his old Mistress. This causes Cressida to decide whether or not to resume her wifely duties no matter what the consequences or risk the chance of losing her husband to the arms of another woman. Before she can decide however she must find out the whole story, and in her pursuit of the truth, she ends up learning more than she ever dreamed was possible. This was a perfect tale of love and understanding which was masterfully written in a way which was both elegant and interesting. The characters were believable and the story flowed well. The sex was shuttle but sexual it was intertwined with the story in a way you almost didn’t realize it was happening until it was so hot and heavy it made your pulse race. I would highly recommend this book if you like romance and the idea of a love which is so real it will take your breath away. Reviewed by Sally

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Christiane France

Pete figures his feelings for Mitch are just warmedover old memories. Pete Letouche and Mitch Ravello shared their first sexual experience on prom night. But with Pete’s dad chief of police and Mitch’s dad involved in illegal activities, the pair didn’t stand a chance. Ten years later, Pete’s back in town. He’s just opened a gourmet food shop and he’s on top of the world...until Mitch appears and says he owns Pete’s note for the down-payment on the building. Review: At its core, It’s Complicated is a short story about following you dreams but getting caught up in the past. Pete Letouche left Peninsula Heights with the goal of becoming a chef and returning to open his own gourmet food shop. To this end, he succeeded. With a loan from his cousin Flip, Pete was able to open L’Epicerie Gourmet de Pierre. Things were definitely going his way until Flip ran into an issue and the loan gets picked up by the son of the alleged crime boss of Peninsula Heights, Mitch Ravello. Unknown to Flip (and to the rest of the town), Pete and Mitch had a past. For Pete, having Mitch as the person holding his loan was a potential complication, threatening his dream. Pete and Mitch became acquainted after prom. They shared a moment together that neither forgot. For Mitch, it seemed to mean more than it did to Pete. This made Pete weary. What would the town think if they knew the two had a past together? Heck, what would Pete’s father think? He is the chief of police! It’s not like that one night meant anything…or did it? I have to say that this was an excellent short story. France’s writing style is such that it draws you in and gets you to care about your characters. While there are sexual situations, they come across as something that is a natural by product of the story and not added just for shock value. It’s a story that is very relatable. Let’s face it, a lot of us have that one person that can look at us in that special way and we get all wobbly in the knees. So, if you are looking for something romantic and a bit flirty, definitely give this a look! Reviewed by David


Fading

Sean Michael Erotic Heat Rating: 4

When Pirou calls his brother Jag to the Old Tavern Club to help with a pair of lynx shifters, Jag is happy to help. Rescuing and rehabilitating big cats is his job, and it makes him the perfect person to take on the pair that Pirou has rescued from a circus. Along the way, Jag just might find his heart in peril, too. Review: I was a little wary when I first started to read this story. Coming in on the 3rd book of a series can put you at a disadvantage. How would I know what’s going on? Would I be totally lost? Would there be tacos? Sadly, no tacos were involved BUT I was not lost and I did have a grasp of what was going on (still kind of bummed about the lack of tacos though). This might have been the 3rd entry into the series but you don’t feel like you are coming in at the middle. You pick up fairly quickly how things work and can sit back and enjoy the story. Your main character, Jag, is called to the Old Tavern Club by his brother concerning a pair of abused lynxes. Rescuing and rehabilitating big cats is right up Jag’s alley. These 2 cats though are special. They are (like Jag) shifters. This can always present a bit more a challenge if they are not in good place mentally. Experience is on Jag’s side though. This is his job. Even though he knows he should keep a professional distance, his heart decides otherwise. For me, the story was an average read. There were a few touching moments as well as erotic moments, but they felt a bit contrived. I couldn’t connect with the characters on any sort of level. If you are looking for erotica, this definitely has some. On that level Fading works. If you are looking for a love story, this may be one you pass on. Reviewed by David


feature 2 - book showcase

Julian Shaw abandons his comfort zone for inner-city Milwaukee in search of Katie, an at-risk transgender teen he knows through email. He’s hit a dead end when he meets rebellious, mohawked Dashiell Sutherland. Dashiell, who knows too much about runaway teens, doesn’t want to get involved in Julian’s sure-to-be heartbreaking search. He certainly doesn’t want to like the reserved trans rich-kid with his Penthouse-stack of issues. Yet somehow, he finds himself doing both. Every bit as gritty as you’d expect from a genre-bending opposites-attract trans romantic suspense, The Gift of Gravity still achieves the breathless sweetness of first true love.

Excerpt from

The Gift of Gravity

I ran smack dab into Mohawk guy because, as usual, I had my gaze on the ground. Looking down was just something I did, especially when I was nervous, and as I walked towards the Ink Panther, I was nervous to the point of hyperventilation. Unfortunately, that was also why I had picked up the pace - it was my rather simplistic strategy to get into the shop before I could talk myself out of doing it. So, naturally, I collided with someone in a ragged dark blue sweater who also happened to have a taste for really bizarre hairstyles. Of course, the first thing I saw wasn’t his hair but his Doc Martens, and the lower half of a pair of rippedto-shreds black jeans. I registered them a split second before I smashed into their owner with all the elegance and agility of a freight train. Even when the impact knocked the breath out of me, and the person I was making a good attempt at mowing over let out a grunt of surprise, part of my brain was still wondering who the hell duct-taped their jeans instead of buying a new pair.

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My brain occasionally has an issue with priorities. It freaking hurt. My head didn’t like the whiplash motion. Rattled and still working on keeping my balance, I opened my mouth to apologize. My quasi-victim preempted me with a rough “What the hell are you doing?” My head snapped up. I saw gray eyes in a pale face, a black star tattoo on one cheekbone, and the equally black spiked mohawk that added like half a foot to the guy’s height. The sides of his head were buzzed short. Who in their right mind would ever do such a thing to their hair? Mohawk guy, that’s who.

Sage C. Holloway is a parent, sex-positive feminist, pet store employee and resident fruitcake. Her childhood dream consisted of being a writer and an astronaut, and so far, she is about fifty percent there. She has one husband, who seems to be the only one capable of putting up with her on a regular basis, and one toddler with a life goal of wreaking the ultimate havoc. She is also owned by three cats, who do an excellent job of assisting her by lying on her manuscripts whenever they can tear themselves away from lording over the living room. Sage loves glitter and loathes Wisconsin winters. She is delighted when she meets people who share her strange sense of humor. http://www.sagenovels.com/


She believes in fairies (in fact, she’s clapping right now), true love (not “to blave”), long walks on the beach (no sharks, please!), and honoring her mother and father. She might be using D&D figures to plot out an epic fightsex scene right now. Nasia lives with her two tuxedo cats: June and Tux Mandoon. She is currently working on a contemporary m/m erotic romance featuring young gay men falling in love against a backdrop of the illicit world of street-racing. Nasia loves to hear from her readers. http://www.girlyengine.com/

Excerpt from

Governor’s son Luc Angeles wants nothing more than to bury the sins of his past, but street racing is in his blood, and his crew is his family. In order to lead the Dirty Angels, Luc risks his inheritance, his father’s respect, even the law. If only he could come clean with his crew and tell them he’s gay. When Luc falls for Jesse, the police chief’s son, Luc is drawn further in to the streetracing world—a world of fast cars and merciless rivals, a world that will test his loyalty to his crew, his family, and his own heart.

Dirty Angels 1, Full Throttle

Jesse’s gaze traveled over the sleek silver Mustang GT, and then over its owner. Luc Angeles was the new leader of the Dirty Angels, six foot three inches of solid muscle and sinew. His shaved head lent a tough ruggedness to his otherwise boyish good looks, his skin dark and smooth as velvet, his smile crooked but all his teeth straight. His T-shirt hugged his massive chest and biceps. Jesse couldn’t help staring as Luc stretched, his shirt riding up, revealing obliques that tapered down into devil’s horns and disappeared beneath his waistband. Jesse licked his lips. “Hey. Hey, Luc.” But Luc wasn’t even looking his way. He was leaning over, talking to his brother Asa. If Luc was big, then Asa was positively hulking. Jesse ducked his head before Asa could look at him. It was my brother that got him hurt. The crash and subsequent explosion had left Asa with only partial use of his right arm. Jesse threw the Civic into park. Was that why the Angels were looking for a new guy? Trying to look casual, he leaned farther out the window. He couldn’t help his gaze traveling up Luc’s muscled thighs to his meaty ass and over that strong back corded with muscle. With every turn and twist of his gorgeous body, his black T rode up, and Jesse suffered a shiver of desire at the sight of all that glossy, dark skin stretched over muscle. As though Luc had been carved of pure onyx. Jesse couldn’t help a momentary vision of Luc’s powerful body atop him, riding him, all hot and grunting and sweaty. “Luc… Luc!” Luc’s girl—Kara? Karen?—was the first to notice Jesse. “Luc, that cop kid wants you.” If she only knew… Jesse swallowed hard as Luc turned. Those rich dark eyes fixated on him, and Jesse’s stomach did a lazy flip-flop. His pants suddenly felt too tight. Damn it. Why can’t I ever crush on a gay guy.

Loose Id is a leading publisher of erotic romance. The California-based company is an acknowledged industry leader with ten years in business, operating in the black since the end of our second quarter back in 2004. It publishes between 16 and 24 titles per month by more than 200 talented authors worldwide, unleashing readers’ fantasies with a full panoply of erotic romance subgenres, ranging from bdsm capture fantasy to yaoi, and including exceptional traditional favorites, contemporary and historical.

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Historical | Western | Period Fiction

once UPON a TIME

HISTORICAL & WESTERN

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more beyond the books

Hunks Hot HISTORY The

of

Christy English

Why We Love Mr. Darcy Let me begin this month’s column by saying that I know that Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice is not an actual historical hunk, but he is such a favorite that I want to devote an issue to him and to why we love him.

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| The Hot Hunks of History | Mr. Darcy has always been one of my favorite Jane Austen heroes. When I had the pleasure of watching the movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I was reminded yet again of why I love him. In the midst of the assembly balls and zombie mayhem, a new Mr. Darcy was introduced, played by Sam Riley, and I was happy to see how versatile this character is and how his glowering good looks and forbidding countenance fit so many situations and outlandish fun. In this funny romp, Mr. Darcy searches out and dispatches the undead and does not seem in the least put out by a sword-wielding, knife-throwing Elizabeth Bennet. Indeed, we see right away in this version of Jane Austen’s masterpiece that, in spite of their sparring, Darcy and Elizabeth are meant for each other.

family palace at Pemberley. In this version of Jane Austen’s novel, the ducal mansion of Chatsworth stands in for Mr. Darcy’s home. Thought the Bennets and the Darcys truly seem to live in separate worlds in this movie, it is fun as always to watch true love triumph. I think it is fair to say that in this version, we love Mr. Darcy as much for his beautiful home as for his good looks.

But always, my favorite film version of Mr. Darcy will always be Colin Firth from the 1995 BBC version. Handsome, priggish, but softhearted, this Darcy won me over and wins me over again every time I see the miniseries.

No matter who plays this role, the character of Mr. Darcy is always an historical hunk. In another film version of Mr. Darcy from 2005, our favorite gentleman is played by Matthew MacFadyen. As the movie goes on, we see Elizabeth Bennet wandering around barefoot and helping her mother to tend the vegetable garden and slop the hogs, and Mr. Darcy’s prejudice against her family and their social position seem entirely justified. But we are all very happy when the handsome, smoldering gent marries her and moves her into his 40 | btsemag.com


| Christy English |

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in western North Carolina. Please visit her on her blog, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

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reviews historical | western | period fiction

The Passion of the Marquess

The Other Side of Courage

Historical Heat Rating: 4

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Robert Nordmeyer

Linda Rae Sande

They say you learn from mistakes ... but what if they’re not your own? After four Seasons and no prospects, Lady Samantha is resigned to life as a spinster. Her aunt, Caroline Fitzsimmons, Viscountess Chamberlain, has another option in mind—she insists they set sail to Italy for a tour she hopes might allow her charge to meet and marry a European aristocrat. His coal mines having suffered a multitude of disasters, Ethan Range, Marquess of Plymouth, is determined to secure a recent invention from an Italian count to alleviate the danger of fires. He’s none too happy to discover Lady Caroline traveling on the same ship as he is to Rome. He knows her secret and is rather incensed she’s been able to hide Samantha’s true past from the ton. While taking a late-night stroll on deck, Samantha is confronted by the scowling marquess. Incensed by his assertion that Caroline is really her mother, Samantha barely has time to slap the man before a sudden storm sends a wave of water onto the ship, washing them both overboard.

Review: Lady Samantha is on a ship, taking a trip with her Aunt, when bad weather hits, and she is washed overboard with one other, the Marquess, Ethan Range. Washing up on a deserted island, the two need each other to survive, and in the process, Samantha breaks down Ethan’s walls. Strong, caring and sensible, Samantha has made it past Ethan’s grumbles and bad attitude, and found a way into his heart. When they are rescued a week later, Ethan believes she cares for another and they go their separate ways. But not to worry, there is a lot more to this story. I liked the original storyline, the characters, and everything was so well described you could see it playing in your mind as you read. And you won’t want to quit reading for long. Highly recommended for historical lovers. Reviewed by Cyrene

Historic Courage changed the World. In 1849 a single, simple action altered the course of women forever. Elizabeth Blackwell received her degree in medicine. In that profound moment she shattered that glass ceiling by becoming the first woman ever to do so, emerging as a fully accredited physician. Her path was not without suffering the constant throes of anger and antipathy from the medical profession. However, despite this bitter and harsh treatment, Elizabeth was determined to prevail through stubborn courage and an iron-clad will and triumphed for the good of all society. Review: When Elizabeth Blackwell was a young girl, her father installed a sense of education and motivation not in his sons, but his daughters as well. After a fateful day with a dying friend, Elizabeth begins to wonder where her life is headed and what she plans on doing with her life. She decides that medicine is in her future, and she embarks on a lifelong journey to push the boundaries of what women can do, and more so what men allowed women to do during this era. Her bravery and persistence not only gained her a medicine degree, but also opened the field to future women. Those that are courageous are often spoken of, such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Although Elizabeth did more for the advancement of women, her name has largely been loss to the test of time. This is written as a fictional account of what occurred to a non-fictional character. While the author at the beginning made it clear that this was a fictional account, he added conversation and information that could easily have been taken from personal accounts and journals. It read like a history book, and not one of those boring ones, but one that pushed the story and really educated me on what it takes a person to change the course of what women could do in both the professional world as well as academia. Few people realize the strides that this young woman did for all women. Reviewed by Andi

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Western Seduction Brenda Jernigan Historical Heat Rating: 3

Shannon McKinley flees Scotland to America hoping for a new life. She has answered an ad to be a nanny at Star Ranch in the Texas Territory. It doesn’t matter that she has never been a nanny. If she can handle men... she can handle children. As Shannon tames Luke Griffin’s two wild children, Luke proves a little more difficult as he still mourns his dead wife. Shannon will never accept being second best. As she begins to melt the ice from Luke’s heart, can he really let the past go and take a chance on love? In this wild and rugged land, will Shannon’s dark secret endanger the family she has come to love? Review: This book hooked me from the first pages – and never stopped. When Shannon needed to escape her cruel father in Scotland, she fled to America. Needing to find a place for herself, she takes on a position in the Texas territory as a nanny to two small children in a harsh land. Luke Griffin advertises for an older nanny, and when Shannon arrives, he’s determined to send her back. But Shannon is fiery and stubborn, and weaves her way into their lives. Her cruel father has also sent two men from her clan to retrieve her, so he can marry her off. The two men finally track Shannon, but they have a surprise they didn’t expect, in Luke and his family. This book kept up a good pace, and kept me engaged. I liked the strength that the author gave to Shannon, and the slow transformation of Luke and his children. Even though this is a series book, it reads perfectly well as a standalone. Reviewed by Cyrene

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reviews historical | western | period fiction

How to Tame a Rake

A Lady’s Vanishing Choices

Maggi Andersen Historical Heat Rating: 3

Wareeze Woodson Historical Heat Rating: 3

After running away, Bethany Littleton, alone in a forest, witnesses a man burying a roll large enough to hold a corpse. She thinks she has escaped undetected, but danger follows her. Lord Rivton is in search of a spy and must investigate Bethany’s family, his closest neighbor. Both at cross purposes, the sparks fly, and when he rescues her, he places her in a compromising position. They marry as expected, but their road is not smooth. She is still in mortal danger. He must find and capture the killer/spy while trying to save his wife. A tattered string weaves together this tale of murder, abduction, and espionage.

Review: This is a nice, compelling story, with danger, suspense and romance. The story revolves around Bethany, orphaned at a young age, and raised by an Aunt and Uncle who treat her like a servant. Royce is the Lord Lt. of the county, and the law. After witnessing someone burying what looked to be a body, Bethany seems to be targeted. Royce, not knowing if Bethany is involved, finds the need to protect her overbearing. When his brother Perry expresses his interest in Bethany, Royce is furious and tries to give reasons that she isn’t a lady of breeding or dowry, (i.e. – a woman not from Society) and is not suited, even as he himself is falling for Bethany. I’m not going to give anything away, but the story moves along at a good pace, and even though I could guess a bit of the outcome, it was still a satisfying story. Reviewed by Cyrene

Due to the codicil in his father’s will, Blake Dangerfield, Earl of Hawkeswood, must marry the woman chosen for him, or lose part of his inheritance. Did his father hate him that much? Wilhelmina Corbet is a hoyden, not long out of the schoolroom, who hails from a farm in Northumberland. The last time Blake saw her she wore braids and climbed a tree to rescue a kitten. Wilhelmina Corbet has dreamed of Blake since she was twelve. But the thought of marrying the handsome earl terrifies her. She comes to his estate, Hawkeswood, determined to measure up to his expectations for a wife. But after time spent with him in London, Mina begins to wonder if the rake is the man she wants to marry. Can they find happiness when a handsome heir to a dukedom, unruly pets, and a young chimney sweep are thrown into the mix? Review: I enjoyed this book, it was a relatively shorter read. Blake must marry within a time frame, or he will not inherit from his father’s estate. But he can’t marry just anyone, it has to be Mina, according to the will. Mina is Blake’s cousin (only by a marriage – not blood) and he hasn’t seen her since she was 12 yrs old, climbing a tree. Of course, the road is rocky for the two of them, and they come from completely different backgrounds – her a country girl at heart, and Blake a party-going rake. No spoilers from me, it’s a nice shorter read, just long enough to get to know the characters – with some bandits thrown in for action, but not too long to get long winded. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | Horrror

BEYOND the EXPECTED

MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

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Now released! Cold Blooded V Nightmare in Red


trends

reading trends in mystery & more

Scrying EYE The

Kelly Hudson

Of Ghosts, Gangs, and Giant Monsters . . . Spring peels back, and summer blazes on the horizon. The wind blows hot instead of mild, and it slithers down the valley, crawling into our ears and minds and giving us all the promised warmth of adventures to come. Inside the tent, the curtain opens, and you take pensive steps toward the raised dais where the Crystal Ball sits, covered by the purple cloth that hides the majesty that lurks inside. The Scrying Eye is open, and it wants you to gaze long and hard into its abyss so that you might learn not only of future literary treasures, but of ones buried in the recent past.

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| The Scrying Eye | The cloth is removed! The Eye turns to stare at you, unblinking, unrelenting in its knowledge and information. Gaze deep into its glare. Stare hard. But beware! You may lose yourself if you are not careful, for the stories the Eye weaves are profound and powerful, and it is easy to get lost in the depths of such power. . . .

Suspense/Mystery The Highwayman: A Longmire Story by Craig Johnson (Viking—available May 17) is the next in the long line of fantastic mystery and suspense tales involving Sheriff Walt Longmire of Wyoming. In this tale, highway patrolman Rosey Wayman gets transferred to Wind River Canyon, a notorious and supposedly haunted area. She starts receiving distress calls from a fellow officer named Bobby Womack, an officer who died in the canyon almost a half-century ago. Only Walt Longmire can get to the bottom of this secret, with help from his good friend Henry Standing Bear, of course. The two take on a case that puts them up against the legendary Highwayman. Can Walt and Henry solve this mystery, or will the spirits of this world and the next cost them their lives? Drawing Dead: A Cross Novel by Andrew Vachss (Vintage Crime paperback— available now) is another novel featuring the inspired Cross and his crew of criminal misfits. All the gangs in Chicago fear Cross and his crew and would dare not get in their way, much less provoke any kind of conflict. Until now. Something has changed. A conspiracy brews. Forces and events move against Cross

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and threaten what he holds dear. It all ties back into a mysterious event from his past, a massacre from which he emerged impossibly untouched, except for a throbbing blue scar on his face. What is amassing against Cross and his crew? Is it even human? Read on to find out! Featuring some of the hardest-bitten prose this side of the old noir films and books, Drawing Dead by Andrew Vachss delivers the gritty goods.

Horror! Kraken by Eric S. Brown (Severed Press—available now) is a sturdy tale of the sea and monsters that lurk below the tides, ready to kill! Naval ship Desron 22 is on standard maneuvers when the squadron discovers the Pleasure Bound, a massive cruise liner, apparently abandoned, except for the dead. Corpses litter the ship, but there is a single survivor, a man seemingly out of his mind. The man weaves wild tales of monsters and horrors from the deep, which are met with equal parts derision and mockery. Until these very monsters surface and go to war with the squadron itself. What starts as a routine mission becomes a mystery to be solved and changes into a war for survival. The Navy battles unspeakable terrors in a desperate bid to save not only themselves, but all who travel the seas! Brown writes action like no other, and when you step on board for this mission of horror and doom, you are in the hands of a master. A Cold Night in Fouke by Charlie Morgan (Scarecrow Fields Publishing—available now) is another creature feature, but this one is decidedly more earthbound. Young boy Emmett is bored of his existence in the tiny southern Arkansas town he calls home. He longs for adventure and excitement, dreaming of hunting trips with his father through the wild swamps that surround him. These dreams twist and turn when a creature of legend emerges from the swamps and comes hunting for him. A mythical beast resides in nearby Boggy Creek, a creature whispered of in legend and folk tales that has now emerged for Emmett and his family. The young boy discovers the bogeyman is all too real, and comes in the form of a giant monster bent on his death. As always, Morgan delivers a tale full of intrigue, suspense, and outright terror. Read on if you dare!


| Kelly Hudson |

Stand back as we place the purple cloth over the Eye, covering it so that it may go into deep slumber. The Eye leaves this mortal world of ours to turn its gaze out among the stars, to future events and literary unveilings. So now you, too, must turn away, dear readers, and leave the parlor. You must take this forbidden knowledge with which you have been bequeathed out into the world at large. What you do with it depends entirely upon your appetites, but let us not lie to one another. You have been given treasures to read, and you must do so. Resist at your own peril! Enjoy the coming summer and return here again soon, when the Scrying Eye opens once more and brings us further tales of suspense, horror, and terror!

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Kelly M Hudson is the author of two horror novels and dozens of short stories, including his latest short story collection, The Cemetery Job: Tales of the Living Dead. You can find links to all of his works by visiting www.kellymhudson.com if you dare!

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reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Hold Your Breath

Twisted Love

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 3

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 2

Katie Ruggle

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder... When captain of Field County’s ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook, meets new diver Louise “Lou” Sparks, his orderly existence is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he’s never felt more alive...even if keeping her safe may just kill him. Lou’s new to the Rockies, intent on escaping her controlling ex, and she’s determined to make it on her own terms…no matter how tempting Callum may be. But when a routine training exercise unearths a body, Lou and Callum find themselves thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who’ll stop at nothing to silence Lou—and prove that not even her new Search and Rescue family can keep her safe forever. Review: Louise “Lou” Sparks is a newbie to the Search and Rescue team, to the area, in fact. Her move to the Rocky Mountains puts a considerable amount of space between herself and both her parents and her ex. No longer willing to be their doormat, Lou wants to prove to herself that she can be on her own and survive. Except, months after settling in, Lou starts noticing odd things that indicate she has a stalker. Fortunately, Lou has captured the watchful eye of Callum Cook, captain of the search and rescue team. Since Lou walked on-scene, Callum has noticed everything about her. During a training session, Lou dislodges a body and both Lou and Callum who the body is and how it ended up where it did. As the investigation continues, Callum discovers that Lou has been having some trouble. When he realizes just what types of issues Lou has been facing recently, he becomes protective of her and infuriated at the thought of someone harassing her. Callum makes it his responsibility to keep an eye on her. Hold Your Breath is the first full length book in Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue series and I loved it. The world building and character development is spectacular. The interactions between Louise “Lou” Sparks and Callum Cook are witty and full of chemisty. The sparks that fly when they are in the same vicinity are undeniable. Katie does a wonderful job of bringing together two characters romantically but doesn’t overshadow the murders, stalkers, and other serious parts of the book. The author’s writing style is great. I was engaged quickly and the content kept me focused. Katie weaves several themes throughout the story, keeping the book from becoming stale, but not so much that the reader feels confused or overwhelmed. The characters were well developed and Lou and Callum are really likeable and realistically written. Hold Your Breath is an engaging romantic suspense novel. Reviewed by Amber Marr

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JoAnne Myers

A collection of true crime cases from Ohio and surrounding states, featuring riveting cases of obsession, lust, murder, secret lives, and sexual depravity. It showcases the chilling reality that homicide investigators know all too well: the last face most murder victims see is not that of a stranger, but of someone familiar. Review: There is a simple joy (for me) in reading true crime stories. Staring down into the dark souls of other people and the lengths they will go to captivates me as well as horrifies me. This collection of stories wasn’t any different. Myers has done an excellent job with giving you both the human side of the stories and the court side of the stories. She presented each one in such a way that you could empathize with all of those affected by the murders. Dying is easy, the living are the ones who have to find ways to cope with the aftermath. With as horrible as the crimes are, Myers manages to show that the perpetrators are just as human as their victims. She illustrates that you never really know who has a monster lurking just beneath the skin. I feel that is what makes these stories stand out. Human monsters are the scariest because they are us. They look like us. They think like us and you never know who can be one. This is definitely not a book for people who are overly sensitive or squeamish. Not all of the stories are as well known as others. One of the most well known stories in the collection happens to be the craigslist killers who would lure innocent victims with the promise of a job on a farm. For all the hope that a potential new job can bring, the applicants were paid in death. You will also find within the pages gruesome details of a woman killed by her husband and his family then stuffed into a septic tank all the way to a daughter getting revenge on her father. So if you are looking for a good true crime story (or in this case stories), this is one you should pick up. Reviewed by David


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Born to Die

Winter Austin Mystery Heat Rating: 2

Trouble’s on the run in rural Eider, Iowa, and Deputy Cassy Rivers’s heart is in the line of fire. Two years ago, she barely escaped a harrowing experience at the hands of a maniac - and not without scars. Now a series of random robberies leads to the brutal death of a fellow officer, and she must put her trust in the one man who broke her heart. FBI agent Boyce Hunt knows commitment isn’t for men with pasts like his. He left Cassy once to protect her from the blackmail and manipulation he faces from his mother’s criminal enterprise. But when they reluctantly partner up to capture the modern Bonnie and Clyde terrorizing McIntire County, their attraction flames to life once more, pulling Boyce between two loyalties. Will they risk their hearts again, even if it means losing everything? Review: This novel offers a great combination of romance (no explicit sex scenes) and policeprocedural thriller without the weaknesses often seen in the genre. It can be read as a standalone although readers will feel compelled to know more about the characters’ previous adventures. Cassy, a deputy sheriff and main female character is determined and independent, although has traumas in her past she’s dealing with. Boyce, FBI agent who’s met and left Cassy before, is a deeply damaged character who finds it difficult to commit. Both are weary of each other for different reasons but can’t avoid their mutual attraction. Difficult family relationships are at the heart of this novel and give it depth. The book is solidly written and well-paced, the attention to detail in the procedural side is excellent and the combination of robberies, murders and great characters will keep readers hooked. Reviewed by Olga

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From Cad to Cadaver Maria McKenzie Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 2

That mall shooting was in the past, but who really killed the cad? From FBI to private eye...life and love didn’t turn out exactly how Tracy Black expected. Ex-cop and former FBI agent Tracy Black is plagued by serious trust issues stemming from two horrific failed relationships. Leaving behind the memory of one bad relationship, along with the excitement and high voltage sizzle of Atlanta, Tracy moves back to her hometown to pursue a career as a private investigator. Cincinnati’s atmosphere is low-key and uncharged,and unfortunately not great for Tracy’s new business. Yet her sister knows someone who can help. Tracy, however, is convinced she can get along fine without Adam’s help, especially since their first meeting left her utterly humiliated. Review: Tracy has a reputation. This isn’t a good thing when you are trying to get your private detective agency off of the ground. She used to be a policewoman and eventually an FBI agent. Her rep is what caused her to quit the force and become a private eye. At the heart of it, this story is a fun murder mystery. Tracy is a tad neurotic. Trust people? Nope, can’t do that. Relationship? That’s a nope because that requires not being a jealous psychopath. This is hard for our little vixen. Our story starts with our voluminous vixen following a man into a bathroom and accusing him of being a terrorist. Then a friend of hers is murdered, she finds someone attractive, a taxidermied dog is mailed to someone and Tracy is the one all the clues point to. Shenanigans everywhere. This was a fun light read. McKenzie’s characters feel real. The story wasn’t one that creeps along. It is perfectly paced. No getting bored on this ride. Reading the bits where Tracy is trying to be romantic is a cringe worth event. She gets jealous over the silliest things like her boyfriend tutoring his niece and possibly a ham sandwich. Then there is the ex wife of her boyfriend that she is forced to protect. Overall, this is a fun story and is definitely worth a read. Reviewed by David

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reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Thief (Blue Boys 1) Erin Leaf

Mystery Heat Rating: 3

When you’re a thief, your dating options are limited. When you’re a cop, it’s even worse. So what happens when a burglar and two lawmen are trapped together during a heist gone wrong? Blue has been a thief for years, but she’s never been in a situation quite like this. When you’re crammed into a tiny space with two sexy detectives, things can get very dicey. Shockingly, instead of arresting her, Matt and Liam ask for a kiss. Blue is happy to oblige. Anything to keep the handcuffs off, right? Matt and Liam never expect to end up cornered with a gorgeous thief. Liam has sworn off women and Matt can’t find anyone he likes better than his partner, so their love lives are nonexistent. When they meet a woman who keeps the same crazy hours as cops do, maybe her criminal career choice isn’t the deal breaker it should be? Review: Blue is a thief, she has been for a long time, but she is not your run of the mill thief, she finds things that have been stolen and return them to their proper owner. This job however, is more dangerous than others, and while she is there, a group of really bad guys show up. It just so happens that two police officers with warrant in hand show up at the same place at relatively the same time. From there it is only a matter of time before the two officers have to hide the same way that Blue did, which leads to some very hot thief/police officer sexy times. Being a thief isn’t always easy, but when you have two officers who want to be with you, being a thief may have privileges. So, while this story is really unrealistic, it is a fun little read. By unrealistic, how many women will be like “hey let’s give two guys a hand job in the middle of an active crime scene because they may or may not be hot, since you can’t really see them.” I mean if both of the guys were really hot, and there wasn’t the imminent chance of death. It is 45 pages long, and there were two very hot sex scenes so the story and characters are not as developed as they probably could be, but this is a story about the sex, not as much about the characters. Reviewed by Andi

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Science Fiction | Fantasy | Paranormal | Urban Fantasy

SCI FI / FANTASY OUT of this WORLD

& PARANORMAL

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trends

reading trends in sci fi & fantasy

AliB FORTY and the

Spaceships Alex Bardy

Life, Lovecraft, Books, and Everything in Between . . “Seer. A Talented old man or young woman able to see into the future (see PROPHECY and TALENT). They are either blind with white eyes or tend to wear a symbolic blindfold. Young female Seers are usually morbid and neurotic.” —The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones

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| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships| Anyone that knows the slightest thing about me would also know I have a tendency to go off-kilter at times, a habit of going against the norm, shall we say? So . . . with the theme for this issue being erotica, I am, of course, planning to turn things on their heads once more, dear readers, because this issue I’m looking at Love Craft, or rather the author, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) aka H P Lovecraft, HPL, or just Lovecraft. . . . The popularity of Lovecraft’s work continues to be the source of much debate and conjecture even now because his writing failed to ignite that much interest or popularity during his own lifetime, and yet his enduring legacy has continued to influence the works of some of the world’s most popular writers of today, including Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Joss Whedon among others. Lovecraft, in turn, was inspired by several writers of his own time, most notably Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, M. R. James, Clark Ashton Smith, and Lord Dunsany, whose names are frequently mentioned in connection with his writing and discussions on the subject of “weird fiction.” Unfortunately, Lovecraft was also xenophobic, racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and prejudiced. And while it’s nigh impossible to shy away from this aspect of both the man himself and his writing, his work continues to attract new devotees and rampant skeptics in equal measure. Lovecraft was also epistolarian: he wrote an incredible amount of letters (some estimates put the figure as high as one hundred thousand, although only fifteen to twenty thousand still survive), many of which have been published in numerous volumes and are celebrated almost as much as his fiction. After his death, it was his so-called Cthulhu Mythos stories that became popularised in a series of publications originally championed by August Derleth. In 1981, a games company, Chaosium, released the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, introducing a whole generation (including me) to Lovecraft and his work. Modern Lovecraft scholars like S. T. Joshi have derided Derleth’s work on the subject, whilst still accepting how influential it was in keeping so-called Lovecraftian fiction alive and well, and it continues to thrive even today. Assuming you’re interested in finding out more, an easy (and visual) introduction to some of his

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tales can be found in a gorgeous pair of graphic novels: The Lovecraft Anthology, Volumes I and II (SelfMadeHero, 2011 and 2012 respectively) both edited by Dan Lockwood. Volume II also includes a foreword by Robert M. Price. Some of Lovecraft’s most popular stories (including “Call of Cthulhu,” “The Dunwich Horror,” “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” “The Colour Out of Space,” “Pickman’s Model,” and “The Statement of Randolph Carter”) have been lovingly turned into stunning graphic comic strips by a variety of talented artists, so you can instantly swot up on their base plot and story lines whilst also enjoying a visual feast of amazing artwork.

For a more thorough look at Lovecraft’s stories, I’d heartily recommend The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft (Liveright, 2014), edited by Leslie S. Klinger. As well as the introduction by comics maestro/guru Alan Moore, Klinger’s extensive foreword (sixty-plus pages of it) covers every aspect of the man and his work. The majority of Lovecraft’s fiction is also included (all with copious notes), and there’s an extensive series of appendices at the back as well. It’s an 850-page giant of a book but serves as an excellent introduction to the subject— an incredible achievement and what I’d consider a rather cool coffee table book, frankly.


| Alex Bardy | For fiction in the same vein as Lovecraft, there are many sources, but one of the most popular is the Black Wings of Cthulhu anthologies edited by S. T. Joshi. Volume 4 in the series has just been published (Titan Books, March 2016); the first volume was published back in 2011, and the series as a whole has featured work from a lot of very talented authors: Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Shirley, Jason V. Brock, Nick Mamatas, W. H. Pugmire, Richard Gavin, Laird Barron, Nicholas Royle, Brian Stableford, Chet Williamson, Michael Marshall Smith, and many more. And finally, if you’d rather separate fact from fiction, you could do worse than seek out Lovecraft and a World in Transition: Collected Essays on H. P. Lovecraft by S. T. Joshi (Hippocampus Press, 2014)—a comprehensive look at everything Lovecraftian, neatly separated into six distinct sections: “Biographical Studies,” “Philosophical Studies,” “Thematic and Textual Studies,” “Studies of Individual Works,” “On Lovecraft’s Essays, Poetry, and Letters,” and “On Lovecraft’s Legacy and Influence.” A comprehensive index and further notes round off another bumper package of Lovecraftian history (650pp).

If you’d like to explore further, I’d suggest you start at www.hplovecraft.com although a simple Google search for “Lovecraft letters” could start you on an exciting journey of discovery through extensive historical, documented evidence about the man and his critical opinion of all manner of aspects related to writing.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Alex Bardy lives in a very dark place, below a small dank stairwell, beneath a dark step, under a speck of dirt, tucked away in a cold, dark emptiness, somewhere on the fringes of the charming, historical city of York, in the North Yorkshire area of the UK. He also writes as DenizenOfTheUniverse under his Twitter moniker: @mangozoid. He is a contributor, reviewer, and word-lender to the British Fantasy Society, and an active member on the board of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), mainly responsible for the design/layout of their publications, coupled with an occasional foray into writing/interviewing. He has finally taken the plunge and committed bloggery under the working title “Mangoblogalicious” and is in the process of uploading his many reviews and opinions even now. You can find out more at www.mangoblogalicious.com.

Issue 33 | May/June 2016 |

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reviews

science fiction | fantasy | paranormal

A Wolf’s Savage Embrace

Chasing His Mate Maria Medina

Darlene Kuncytes

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 3

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 4

Hard-headed and fiercely independentKatrina Winslow is definitely not used to being told what to do. Yet - just when she thinks that her life might be heading in the right direction for the very first time - she’s hit with a bomb-shell; and her past pops up to haunt her. Suddenly, she is sent down a path that she has no desire what so ever to take; and is told to leave behind the one man that she could possibly care for - or he’ll be killed. And that makes for one ticked off Witch! Now, it’s Lucas Blackwater’s turn to show Kat that he is a force to be reckoned with. He is the Alpha male of his pack - sarcastic, overbearing and drop-dead gorgeous...and definitely not happy with being told no.

Stryker has been looking forward to finding his fated mate for decades, but from the start, nothing goes as he’d dreamed. His mate refuses to even meet him, denying the mate bond without giving him a chance and actually running away to avoid hearing the vampire’s pleas. Joseph sees humans who throw themselves at vampires as weak and stupid, and he has no intention of giving up his free will simply because a vampire orders him to. His heart has been through enough without being forced to pretend he loves someone, so he flees. He wants true love and sees no logic in trusting fate to simply drop the real thing right into his lap. But Stryker refuses to give up and pursues his mate, prepared to do anything to make Joseph see what he’s really running away from.

Review: Another great read from Ms. Kuncytes. A couple issues ago, I read the first book in this series, A Vampire’s Saving Embrace and fell in love with all the characters. This book brings into focus, Kat and Luke, two of the secondary characters from the first one. You also get to revisit old friends from book one, what a treat. Kat is a sassy witch, who is also tough and vulnerable, and Luke is the Alpha Were, who wants to protect Kat. Kat’s mother, whom Kat hasn’t talked to in over 3 years, calls and tells her that she has a sister – that was hidden from her, and that Kat needs to get her and bring her to her mother. But something is off, and when Kat catches up to her sister Harper, with Luke’s help, they both need to trust their instincts. The tension between Kat and Luke is at it’s best here, and the book is filled with romance, suspense and plenty of action. I love the witty banter between characters, and we meet a few new ones in this book – whom I also enjoyed. Ms. Kuncytes has a gift of developing characters that you can enjoy, even if they are only around for a few pages.

Review: When Joseph learned that he was to be the mate of a Vampire, he was not happy with the news. In fact he was so unhappy about it that he decided that he was going to leave his region in hopes of never seeing or meeting the vampire that he was to be mated with. Stryker, the vampire who is bound and determined to not only meet his mate, but to also make him realize that to be mated to a vampire does not mean you are throwing yourself at them which is exactly what Joseph thinks. Stryker, however does not make a good first impression, or actually he does but not the right way. When the truth comes out, Joseph’s attitude is even more aggressive when it comes to his feelings about not having anything to with the vampire and his destiny. I am not used to vampires having mates the same way that shifters do. I get the whole animal attraction and mated for life. For me this story started a little weird because I had to adjust my thinking when it came to vampires having mates. After I got over that, I really started to enjoy the story. Knowing that your life is fated without any say is hard, and the author did a really good at infusing the emotions that one must feel when their lives are out of their control. I probably would have done the same thing as Joseph did.

Reviewed by Cyrene

Reviewed by Andi

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Hell Becomes Her

Voices

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 2

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 2

R.A. McCandless

Clarissa Johal

Angels should be a human’s worst nightmare. Del didn’t think there was anything worse than angels, or their fallen kin, demons. She and her partner Marrin helped to keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons for generations. But when Del’s daughter is kidnapped by a shadowy group, Del will find that the world is even more dangerous than she suspected. There are worse things than angels and demons.

Sometimes the ghosts from your past...are real. Moira claims to hear voices and is sent a psychiatric hospital. Her doctor is hesitant to treat her as schizophrenic, as she doesn’t show typical symptoms. As their sessions progress, she confesses there are two voices--and they aren’t voices in her head, but the voices of ghosts. And one is determined to drag her into the afterlife with him.

Review: From the first pages, until the last, you are transported to a world of danger. Angels who serve the Throne, have Nephilim (half angel, half human) who serve angels as assassins, taking out rogue demons. Del is one of the oldest, and strongest of the Nephilim and serves under the angel Ahadiel. When she is attacked and her adopted daughter kidnapped, Del will stop at nothing to bring her home. Del will form alliances she never thought possible.

Review: Moira has been haunted by two separate ghosts for years. When one of the ghosts causes Moira to act out violently, she’s quickly whisked away to a mental health facility. Inside the facility, Moira’s character is fully explained and her ghosts are exposed . Moira is a strong character that has endured the machinations of her ghosts, taking the blame when it truly isn’t Moira who is behind the acts. Her ghosts plague her days and nights while keeping her isolated from everyone.

This book hums along with action from the very first pages, and doesn’t give you time to take a breath. Perfect world and character building even for a first time reader to the series, and even though this is the 2nd book in this series and I hadn’t read the first, I was able to pick this one up without much confusion. It resolves the current storyline at the end, but also sets up well for the next book. This is not a romantic paranormal, although it begins to set up to that. I’m looking forward to continuing the series. Although this book deals with the Throne and angels and demons, it’s not an overly religious book and doesn’t try to be.

Moira’s physician, Richard, isn’t the traditional pillpusher. His belief system is quickly tested when he realizes that Moira doesn’t have mental health issues. Richard then takes it upon himself to delve into Moira’s past in an effort to aid her. Moira also meets Adam, another person who sees and hears ghosts. He knows Moira has entities attached to her and attempts to help her keep them at bay. Adam’s character uses snark as one of his coping mechanisms. Voices is completely different and unique from other paranormal stories. The book is engaging from the very beginning. The vivid imagery, great writing, suspense, and psychological details will pull the reader in and keep them involved. The pain and tragedy within the pages is written realistically. The characters are well developed and the world building is exceptional. I highly recommend Voices by Clarissa Johal.

Reviewed by Cyrene

Reviewed by Amber

Issue 33 | May/June 2016 |

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reviews

science fiction | fantasy | paranormal

Apocalypta Z

Prophecy of the Guardian

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 1

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 3

Maer Wilson

First - meteors. Now - zombies. Ninety-nine percent of humans and animals have become zombified, leaving the rest scrambling to survive. Maddie Worthing and Nick Stanton are among the few not infected. They’re gathering survivors and doing what they can to preserve life in their isolated desert town. Joined by the remaining townspeople and a few scientists, they search for a way to make it through the apocalypse. The key to humanity’s continued existence may lie within the mystery surrounding Maddie’s puppy. But they need to survive the roving gangs, crazy scientists and troublemakers within their own ranks in order to discover it. Review: This is a very unique take on a zombie apocalypse genre. There is no major gore or sex, this can safely be read by older teens. Meteors strike and then 99% of all people and animals, are zombified. Main characters, Maddie and Nick are doing their best to survive, and to find other survivors in their town. Part of the story is told from Maddie’s POV, and part of it by her poodle, Cienna. With so much of humanity wiped out, the survivors are trying to keep going. There is a lot of humor involved (specially with the dogs), and this novel even dips a toe in the SciFi genre. Good read for someone looking to step into the zombie genre, or for someone who’s looking for a fresh take on it. Reviewed by Cyrene

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J.W. Baccaro

Magic, Sword & Sorcery, Coming Of Age Fantasy, Demons and Wizards... Darshun Luthais has never experienced the Nasharin Frenzy—the unbending will to challenge a stronger opponent, no matter the cost. He doesn’t know what he will transform into, has never bonded with an elemental crystal and has never seen any of the unearthly creatures his father talks about. Even though he’s an infant in Nasharin years, his life consists of nothing but constant training, striving to unlock the sleeping power his so-called accursed race is born with. But all that changes when he is pursued by a Dream Assassin in the dead of night. What he witnesses will forever change his outlook on life, and lead him on a quest only the strongest can complete. Review: This is the first book of J.W. Baccaro’s Guardian series. It is as much a typical fantasy adventure as it is a not so typical fantasy adventure. As with all fantasy type stories, it comes with its own bit of mythos. Of course, you have your humans, elves, wizards and beastmen which is the typical part. The deviation for me occurs in the fact they mythos of the realm draws heavily from Judeo-Christian ideas. You have Abaddon, fallen angels and the like all interwoven to make a fascinating story. Your main character is a man by the name of Darshun. He is rescued as a baby by a man named Mirabel from a group of Cullach (one of the beastmen type races) who are trying to sacrifice him. Darshun comes to call Mirabel his father. Indeed, Mirabel does take Darshun under his wing and teaches Darshun about exactly who (and what) he is. He is one of the few remaining Nasharin’s (augmented humans). Darshun eventually learns of a prophecy which states he is to be the Guardian of the Realm. For me, this was a hit and miss type of story. In a lot of ways, it read like it could have been novelization of some of the early Final Fantasy video games. You have 4 elemental crystals of great power. There are wizards and demons either wanting to use them for evil or good. Real world mythologies intertwined with the fantasy aspect heightened that illusion. For me, this worked in the book’s favor. The misses were things that just stuck out for me. There were small turn of phrases that were just a bit too “modern” for my taste mixed in. Then there was a scene of a few Cullach and dark elves basically getting stoned off of Debach. I suppose if I looked like a human boar then I would want to toke one too. Overall, the misses are minor. The characters grew on me and I want to continue to follow their adventures. Reviewed by David


Marcus’ Mortal Embrace

Time and Again

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 4

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 4

Darlene Kuncytes

Marcus LaGrange was bone weary. He had been in the beautiful city of New Orleans much longer than he had wanted. But, he was trying to track down a rogue Vampire that was a threat to those he loved...yet wanted nothing more than to go home. He never expected to be knocked to his knees by the lovely Elizabeth Chase. And, if it wasn’t bad enough that she made his body ache with a need that he hadn’t felt in centuries… she was a mortal! He had absolutely no time for distractions… and this lovely human was just that! And, in the most tempting way – bringing back his past with a vengeance and making him question everything that he had ever believed. Review: Another great book in this series. This book is the 3rd book in a series, but any of them can be read as standalone books, but it works to your advantage to start at the beginning. This is the story of Marcus and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was abused in her past badly, and now in her job, she helps other abused people get out of harms way. Her new assignment finds her in New Orleans. Marcus, a drop dead gorgeous vampire, is also in New Orleans, trying to run down a rogue vampire who’s psychotic and killing humans. Staying in the home of Brianna, a witch who rents out rooms and a good friend to Marcus, both are working to find the rogue. When Elizabeth arrives at Brianna’s, – Marcus’ life is thrown into chaos.

Nancy Fraser

When reporter, Kate Brogan, and her ex-husband vice cop, Matthew Kelley, both end up investigating local psychic Olga Limas, Kate realizes the fluff piece of journalism she’d anticipated might just turn into something more. Out to debunk the woman’s claim of being able to guide seance participants into the future, both hers and Matt’s skepticism is put to the test when they find themselves transported to 2065. Certain the only one they can truly trust is each other, they form an alliance that quickly stirs more intimate and loving memories. Just as they are about to be shown the way home, a presidential assassination puts their lives, and their chances for a “happily ever after,” in jeopardy. Review: A great with romance and time travel. You want to know what happens with Matt and Kate and who they run into. They are divorced after they lost their unborn child. Grief overtakes them. They are both transported to the feature and what a realist future it is. The scenes are so well written you can picture yourself into the story. The author does a great job with her writing. The book has something for everyone, romance, mystery, suspense, paranormal, time travel and more. Reviewed by Babs

This book was fun, we see the return of past characters, and Ms. Kuncytes makes it easy to fall in love with all the characters in the book. The book had a good twist to it, and I was captivated. Reviewed by Cyrene

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reviews

science fiction | fantasy | paranormal A Kiss of Ashen Twilight

Wolf’s Strength Ambrielle Kirk

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 4

Tension grows between old rivals... Cold-blooded murder sparks a feud that could reignite the hatred between two dominant packs. Alpha Devin Caedmon and his council are tempted to risk all that is precious to protect their bloodline, but Tristan Arnou, the rival Pack’s leader, isn’t the only force trying to tear down the unity holding them together. All threats must be eliminated before the entire wolf shifter race is destroyed. Review: When two rival shifter packs vie for the same territory, no one wins. This especially holds true when sifters from rival packs are mated without anyone really knowing it. If they did, there would be more than territory at stake. Even more so, a third group of individuals who believe that they can separate the wolves from the human body. Some may think that this is a good thing, for those who have been with their wolf their entire life, it is something that they would never do, but nefarious individuals are not allowing them the opportunity to make that decision. Blake and Naomi are like any other couple, other than the whole banned from seeing each other. Think of this book as a modern day, supernatural Romeo and Juliet, but with fangs and nails. For me the story started that way, but when you learn there is more to the story, it gets not only more interesting, but more tangled as lines are drawn in the proverbial sand. This story is well written and you really start to empathize with the main characters. When histories and secrets start to come to the surface the story gets better and I become more enthralled with the overall plot of the story. The author has a very good understanding about how relationships work between siblings, pack mates, and adversaries. I also felt the conversations are life like and immerse the reader even more. Overall a very good story from a good writer. Reviewed by Andi

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Rae Lori

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 3

Ariya, an Aziza Faerie, crosses into the mortal realm to escape a vicious and deadly elemental creature. She discovers an underground world of Nightwalkers, Lycans and Shifter Elves hiding beneath human’s eyes. When she falls for the Nightwalker Regent Prince Jace Archane, love and loyalties are tested as an age-old rivalry unmasks a new enemy. Review: When Ariya’s world is attacked by a elemental, and her family killed, she is forced to flee to the mortal realm to escape. Ariya ia Aziza, or Fae, and she is thrust into the world of not only humans, but Nightwalkers, Lycans and Shifter Elves. A world Ariya has only read about, and never knew existed. Jace, is a brooding Nightwalker, and when the two meet, they fight the instant attraction to each other, but must bring all the immortals together to fight the elemental that has followed Ariya into the mortal world. The story keeps a nice pace, and there is nice world and character building. This is the first book to a series, Ashen Twilight House, but it doesn’t leave a major cliffhanger, just doesn’t wrap up all the secondary story lines going on. Reviewed by Cyrene


Exile

Ghosts of Trenton House

Danielle Devon

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 1

Ten years after the sickness turned dead men into living corpses, John Marshall found himself exiled from Haven. Beyond the walls of the sanctuary, John and the others struggle to survive in a world gone mad with hunger. But it’s not just the dead who hunt them, now Haven wants the girl. Can John and the others hold on to their humanity long enough to protect her, or will death continue to follow? Review: This is a shorter read, but very well done. Set in a dystopian future with the regular zombie crew, is a place called Haven, but it’s not a haven for everyone. With a population control lottery, 20 Scraps (or prisoners who didn’t abide by the rules and didn’t conform) are sent beyond the walls – and with them, one small girl who smuggles herself onboard to get away. Rescued from a hoard of rotters, they are taken in at a different sanctuary, only to find that the Haven patrol are coming after them, looking for the small girl. What’s the secret to the small girl? That’s not known in this installment… but I’m looking forward to finding out. The author does a nice job with the world and the characters – even in the short amount of time, and it jumps back and forth a bit between perspectives, but it’s not confusing. I think it was a very good beginning to a new series. Reviewed by Cyrene

Libby Bishop

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 2

Empath and paranormal investigator Lena Tompson is enjoying a night of relaxation when she’s interrupted by a phone call from her boss. She hurries to the office, still in her pajamas, and finds herself face to face with the once love-of-her-life. Review: Some family secrets go with the members

to their graves. In other families, they come back with them from the grave. Ghosts of Trenton House brings the group from Revenant Investigations back together. The main focus is on Lena Tompson, and low-level empath in the group. Called to the office suddenly one evening, Lena is shocked to see her ex-boyfriend, Knox Trenton there. He broke her heart several year prior. Seeing Knox again brings all of those long buried feelings all the way back to the surface. Knox is in a desperate situation. His family is divided and in the middle of a huge feud that stems from an issue between his great grandmother, Imogene, and his great aunt, Ruth. When Imogene’s husband, Duke, passed away many year prior, Ruth captured and hid away Duke’s spirit from her. In Imogene’s latest attempt at trying to locate and raise Duke, Imogene accidentally raised Ruth instead. Ruth refuses to indicate where Duke is or to even consider releasing his spirit. Amid the drama between the living and dead, Lena and Knox are now dealing with their own issues since reuniting for Knox’s family issues. The chemistry between them is strong and undeniable. There are a lot of emotions, feelings, and situations that weren’t dealt with at the end of their relationship that have to be fleshed out before anything can be rekindled. The secondary romance was threaded nicely throughout the book. Ghosts of Trenton House is another great book in the Revenant Investigations series by Libby Bishop. The world building and character development was well done. I really enjoy Libby’s fluid writing style. The book is fast paced and exciting. At times, I really felt like I was in the Trenton House caught between the angry living and dead. The issues between Imogene and Ruth are well developed from the beginning all the way to the end. The story was engaging and kept my interest. I’m really looking forward to reading Book 3 in the series.

Reviewed by Andi

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science fiction | fantasy | paranormal Vampire Reborn Caridad Pineiro

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 3

A life alone . . . For nearly two centuries, vampire Ryder Latimer had lived alone, uncomfortable in the vampire world and unloved in the human world. Ryder had never dared hope that he’d find love in his endless existence. Brought together . . . Fate brought FBI Agent Diana Reyes into Ryder’s world and in the five years since they met, they’ve battled long and hard for a life together. With Ryder’s love, Diana has climbed out of a dark abyss that had kept her prisoner for far too long. A Vampire Reborn . . . It’s been a month since Diana and Ryder became man and wife. A month since Ryder almost lost his life to protect his wife and their newborn child. But now something is happening in Ryder’s body that is making him more human at a time when he needs to be at full vampire strength to protect his loved ones. Will fear and doubt drive Ryder to embrace his vampire self and be reborn at the cost of his new family? Or will Diana’s love battle back the darkness that threatens? Review: This is a good read, and even though I hadn’t read anything of this series, I wasn’t lost at all, so kudos to the author. This is the continuing story of Ryder and Diana and their family. Ryder is a vampire, and Diana is a dhampir, and was an FBI agent. Ryder is becoming more and more human, and they are searching for answers. This is an easy, short read novella. A reason I gave this book 4 stars, is it never really answers the question of the main plot of this novella. All it does is start the investigation, and leave you on a cliffhanger, so if you want answers, you will need to read the next book. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Wolf’s Return

Immersion

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 3

Para/SciFi/Fantasy Heat Rating: 1

Colleen Nye

Rebecca Royce

A hidden wolf pack. Lies. Intrigue. And reluctant heroes. Get to know the

Black Hills… Drew Tao left the Black Hills in disgrace, banished by his father. He has spent the last ten years a lone wolf, living on his own. Called back home, he finally gets the chance to set things right. If such a thing is possible…. Review: An adolescent wolf challenges his alpha father for control of the pack due to an indecent proposal by his father. The son loses the battle and is banished by the father who shoots him in the leg as a reminder to stay away. Now several years have passed and the boy has grown into a man so the time has come for him to go back and face his demons. Can he take down his rebellious father? If he does succeed at becoming alpha can he win back the heart of his mate? Will he be able to rebuild the town his father destroyed before the pack is entirely gone? If you want to know the answers to these questions do not read this book. This book is a sloppy introduction to characters who have a deep rich past which the reader knows nothing about until it is too late. The only meat in this story was during the big fight and the make-up sex afterward. The ending just leaves the reader wondering where the rest of the story is. I am not implying this was a bad story it just felt as if it started in the middle and ended before it really got interesting. If you find werewolves fascinating and you can acquire this entire series at once then pick this one up but if you only have time to read one novel and crave character interaction before the end of the story then avoid this one. Reviewed by Sally

Three things Seren knew: #1 Her life felt odd being so tame. #2 She lost her parents when she was young and missed then dearly. #3 Her life was never going to be the same after the day Chase came back into it. In a world, not unlike our own the economy has tanked allowing the inhabitants to seek solace in a world of virtual gaming. Now, money hungry corporations will stop at nothing to make a buck, even if that means releasing a product that will claim millions of lives. Review: Seren had a decent life. She lost her

parents while she was young but still managed to finish school (with a degree in advertising) with the help of her grandmother. The world was falling apart but she still had a normal life in spite of the rising crime rates. Too bad all of that changed when she came back from her trip to England. As soon as she gets back, she discovers that her friend in England left her a B.I.G.S., she gets a new boyfriend, she loses her grandmother and finds out that her parents (who supposedly died following a story) are still alive. Needless to say, the pacing in this book is brisk. You do not get bogged down with slow and boring sections. Unfortunately, there was nothing new or original in the story. You could easily predict what would happen from one moment to the next. Even the ending was a let down. I won’t divulge any spoilers, but everything was just a little too neat and tidy to be believable. Granted, it is fiction, but I wasn’t drawn in enough to be able to suspend belief long enough to enjoy the ride. As a whole, the story was just bland. There was one thing that did shine in Immersion. Nye showed just how dangerous virtual reality technology can be. B.I.G.S. allowed people to escape their own life to have a new virtual one. It was billed as a gaming system but people ended up abusing it. So many people checked out of the real world that society started to collapse. Those who were addicted couldn’t disconnect anymore or the withdrawal would kill them. She showed just how dangerous escapism can be. In that regard, Nye was masterful. While I felt the overall story was bland, it is worth reading just to illustrate the dangers of the emerging virtual reality tech.

Reviewed by David

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feature sneak peek

Deanna Jewel Never Surrender Dreams of a Native American warrior haunt Kate, who is determined to discover their meaning as she vacations in the mountains of Wyoming. When her soul connects with a total stranger, she must trust her instincts to realize their relationship was part of history. Kate is thrust back in time and forced to relive the past as she dodges death. Mai, a raven shape-shifter, is set upon stealing away the man of Kate’s dreams, but love works its magic when Taima passes a ring to his son. The haunting mystery will be solved when its rightful owner claims the cryptic heirloom … at a time that lies deep within the future.

Taima walked farther ahead of his companions, but the woman’s scream made him turn around. He watched her slender body topple down the hillside, watched her desperately attempt to hold on. Dropping the parfleches he carried, Taima ran toward her, his long hair tugging on his scalp as it caught on low branches. Before he could reach the woman, he saw her body crumpled at the base of a pine tree, face down among the brown needles. He hurried to her side. Though he did not want a woman traveling with them, he didn’t wish her any harm. He had only brought her along to keep her away from the treacherous Blackfoot warrior, who would have killed her for sure. Kneeling at her side, he lifted her long, dark braid from her back, ignoring its silkiness. Gently, Taima touched the back of her head, which rested on her extended arm. Blood, warm and sticky, met his fingers as he located the swollen bump and he looked into the dark gaze of his friend, Ahanu. Taima took care while he cut a piece of cloth from the lower half of the back of her shirt. Moving his fingers over her skin, he noted its softness, then quickly stepped to the stream. Returning to her side with the wet cloth, he touched the back of her head, his fingers lightly grazing the tender skin of her neck. The woman moaned and tried to move, then stilled. He dabbed at the wound, cleansing away the blood and dirt, seeing the cut was not as serious as he’d first thought. She would need tending once they arrived back with his people; their shaman would know which ointment to use to prevent infection.

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Touching her like this reminded him of how, last night, he’d observed her while she watched Ahanu across the fire. Her dark hair had cascaded down her back like the mountain waterfalls, and her delicate facial features had reflected the glow from the flames. Since he hadn’t been able to see into her eyes last night, he wondered at their color. Would he be able to read her thoughts with the same ease he read his mother’s when he used to look into her eyes? He also wondered if this woman was as outspoken as she appeared to be, always speaking her opinions and telling others what she would and would not do? A woman like that was only trouble. Taima continued to rinse the wound, when a moan broke the silence and the woman’s back arched away from his touch. Slender, white fingers moved to her temple as she uttered another sound. The woman rose on one elbow and turned her head toward him. Long, dark lashes fluttered before opening, then brilliant green eyes stared into his; eyes so different from those of his people. Eyes more like that of a wary cougar. Then her green eyes widened.

Deanna Jewel lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes multi-genre romance. Her husband is an accountant and retired fire department captain. They have two Siamese cats: Zoie and Sinbad, who keep them entertained. Deanna enjoys reading, gardening, traveling, and hearing from her readers.

deannajewel.com


Prologue: This story unfolds during those times when the gods were young and ruled the earth. Seventy percent of the planet was covered by oceans and 30 percent by jungles. The mountains were aflame with beautiful flowers, and the meadows were covered with a green and velvety carpet. In spite of all the natural extravaganza, all this beauty was unsung, because man, nature’s poet, was not yet born. The plants, trees, and flowers lived happily with the myriad fauna, who frolicked among the dense greenery. Reproduction of the flora was a simple matter of shedding a tiny leaflet on the ground, which grew to maturity instantly. The flowers simply jumped from one branch to another, leaving smiling blooms on their previous bases. Seasons were mild, nature was a young and laughing maiden, and life was beautiful.


| SEEDS OF OPTIMISM | Young Thor and Loki were playing hide-and-seek around the gates of Valhalla, whooping childish war cries whenever they spied each other. Odin was building the grand Valhalla as a hall for warriors slain in battles. The fiery Valkyries were watching over the playing brothers with affectionate indulgence, though a bit wary of Loki, the Mischievous. The children had strict orders by Odin to not to enter the gates of Valhalla so that the builders were not disturbed. Thor was the elder son of Odin and a very mild, handsome, and strong child. He was considered a model kid by all the gods in the pantheon and liked by everyone. Loki, on the other hand, was despised by everyone for his nasty practical jokes and cruel humor. He never heeded anyone and was like a stubborn and headstrong stallion. Odin had granted Thor the control over thunder and clouds but didn’t grant any celestial powers to Loki, as Odin didn’t want his peaceful world to be disrupted. Loki was naturally disgruntled about this and viewed the decision of Odin as a partiality and favoritism. It was the turn of Loki to hide. He ran inside the gates of Valhalla and entered into the grand domed hall. He spun some of his inherent magic and conjured up a battle scene. Loki was a shapeshifter. He took the form of Frigg, their mother and the wife of Odin, and lay on the ground, bleeding and dying. When Thor saw his mother lying in a pool of blood and calling for help, he desperately smashed his hammer on the ground, summoning the powers of the universe. The skies turned black, and dark menacing clouds thundered in anger. A huge lightning bolt struck the dome of Valhalla with a deafening clap, shattering it into a thousand pieces. A monstrous whirlwind from Freyr, the fair goddess of weather, buffeted the walls of Valhalla and reduced them to dust. When the dust settled, Thor was shocked to see Loki rolling on the ground, laughing uncontrollably. Thor was appalled at the destruction he had caused and was afraid of the anger of his fearsome father Odin, the god of death and battle. 78 | btsemag.com

When Odin came to know of this destruction, he flew in a rage and immediately reached at the scene of accident with his Valkyries. He realized instantly the reason for this havoc and banished Loki from Valhalla. The discredited child god was punished to live in the remote and inhospitable planet, Earth, till Odin summoned him. Gods, in spite of their infinite wisdom, do err at times. Odin condemned the helpless earth with the fiery and evil Loki without considering the aftereffects. In spite of the pleading and begging of the compassionate Thor to forgive his younger brother, Loki found himself hurled in the dark space towards the bluish-green planet. O reader, the earth now you live in is after the visit of Loki. He is single-handedly responsible for all the negativity, hatred, violence, and mischiefs you witness daily. The earth prior to his visit was nothing like you can imagine. It was a peaceful garden with birds twittering pleasantly and little flowers smiling their tiny heads off. The oceans, assisted by the romantic Opal Moon, flirted incessantly with those arrogant and haughty mountains, whispering sweet nothings, tickling their deep-planted feet, and trying to seduce them. Romance and happiness ruled. The wind played with flora and fauna indiscriminately, but her favorite were those little flowers. She caressed them lovingly and stole their fragrance and then laughingly flew beyond those impregnable mountains, spraying them with the sweetness and fragrance, bringing reluctant smiles on those stony lips. Loki was unaffected by all this beauty and walked with his head bowed down in self-pity. He was cursing his father and brother inwardly for this injustice when he heard a faint laughter. He looked around in anger. It was the playful wind tickling the beautiful flowers in a meadow. Was this fair that his father had scattered so much happiness on this desolate rock and didn’t have a smile for him? Loki’s ugly eyes glinted with mischief. He boiled at this unfairness and summoned the evil spirits from the halls of Jotnar, the enemy of gods. Evil has this affinity of


congregation, which the good in the world doesn’t. The evil spirits swooped down on the earth under the leadership of Loki. A wild conflagration consumed the helpless planet. The residents of the earth had lived too long in peace and were unaware of how to defend themselves, let alone counterattack the assailants. The plants tried to hide back in the earth but were unable to and perished. The delicate flowers, with whom even the wind was gentle lest she bruise them, couldn’t face those hell-sent flames and started to wither in mute agony. Suddenly one of the wise old oaks got an idea. He created millions of tiny armored shields and hid each little flower in each of them. The shields were buried in the ground, protecting those tiny and helpless beauties while the world was slowly decimated. The fire roared for thirty days and thirty nights till it consumed every living thing on the planet and was finally sated. Loki danced happily among the chaos and ruins. Odin was sitting on his throne in Valhalla when he felt the acrid smoke and piercing heat. As hell wasn’t built yet, he wondered about the origin of the fire. Then, suddenly he remembered Loki and jumped off his throne to look out of the window. He couldn’t locate the beautiful planet Earth, which was his pride. The bluish-green planet was charred black now. Odin screamed in rage and looked closely. The velvety blankets of the fields were covered with dirty gray ashes. The lyrical and romantic ocean had shrunk back in abhorrence and had left huge expanses of arid deserts. The mountains were stripped bare of their green gowns and stood like brown naked beggars outside a modern-day temple. Desolation reigned where beauty used to laugh. Odin’s heart broke, and he cried. It was an anguish from the depth of a soul, which is shook by the cruel mauling of something beautiful. It was the howl of a tempest, which is triggered by the insane massacre of innocents. It was a heartfelt cry. Tears flowed from the eyes of the warrior of thousand battles and

were soaked in his flowing beards. They dripped from his beards. Thor saw the grief of his father and swung his hammer. Dark clouds materialized from nowhere and absorbed those heavenly tears. They raced towards the ailing earth and drenched it with the grief of the compassionate god. The ominous and grave clouds thundered in majesty, causing Loki to quake and hide. It rained for seven days and seven nights. The char and ashes were washed clean. Although the divine elixir washed away the traces of the cruelty, it couldn’t restore the beauty as all the plants were dead. Odin watched morosely from his seat in heaven. The elixir reached one of the armored cases, causing it to crack open. A tiny spray of colors peeked out in the desolate brown world. The first life burgeoned from the first seed, demonstrating the undying spirit of optimism. The gray-brown fields became vibrant with millions of colorful and smiling flowers. The mountains were covered again with their satin velvety garb. The oceans inched closer to them amorously. Odin laughed happily. Now he summoned Loki and cursed Loki to remain for eternity on the planet he destroyed. Odin stripped Loki of all of his magical powers and rendered him a weak human. He cursed Loki to depend on the clouds bringing the life-giving elixir—water. He tied the existence of the clouds with the trees so that for his survival, Loki would have to nurture what he destroyed or perish with thirst due to lack of water. We still have that Loki among us, who—though stripped of his evil powers—is still managing to destroy the beautiful planet. Sad!

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| SEEDS OF OPTIMISM | Disclaimer: I’ve spun this tale around Norse gods as I always was intrigued by the Nordic mythology. The Vikings may be a bloodthirsty race, but their gods were quite interesting. It is a work of fiction and has got nothing to do with Thor, Loki, Odin, Jotnar, Fenrir, or any other living or dead villainous Nordic gods. Any resemblance to them is purely coincidental and unintentional. So if those gods are reading it, I request them to go easy on it and read in a sporting spirit and not to hold any grudge against me. After all, I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to find a couple of Valkyries breathing on me in vengeance. Damned annoying creatures, these Valkyries!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR I’m an introvert and, like all of our illustrious creed, very shy and reserved. I don’t talk much but use other media of expression, such as music, writing, poetry, drawing, photography, and boxing. I have a weird and varied spectrum of interest, which falls short of politics and any sports. I’m an architect by qualification, but like Huckleberry Finn, all the professions are the same to me. I have been a professional musician (I play Indian classical flute) and a photographer among many other things in my life and have settled as a team manager for Amazon in Bombay, India. Writing is a passion to me. I usually write short stories on various genres and steer clear of politics simply because I’m unable to understand.

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Young Adult | New Adult

YOUNG & NEW ADULT

BEYOND the fairy TALE

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trends

reading trends in young adult

Young HEART at

Katherine McIntyre

Witchy Workings

Who says witches are a thing of the past? Though the market has been saturated with fantastic titles, there’s still room for more as long as the spin is unique enough.

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| Young at Heart | If the longevity of the Harry Potter series isn’t evidence enough, know that witches and wizards are a perfect fit for the young adult audience. Throughout 2015 and 2016, many series are coming to an end, yet there are still new forays entering the field. For your average teenager, these stories hold perpetual appeal. Many witch stories focus on the loner element of the witch as an oddity, which appeals to the feeling of being an outcast that a lot of teens struggle with in high school. The mystique in witchcraft stories is another huge draw for the audience, as teenagers in that cusp between childhood and adulthood are broadening their minds. Plenty still yearn for the magic of childhood, which is one thing novels revolving around witches have in abundance. After all, what better way to escape from the stress of the outside world than embrace the magic in another? One witch-centric read to keep an eye out for is The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I’d be remiss not to gush about the poetic lushness of her writing, as it was one of the reasons I dove into Scorpio Races (Scholastic—available now) and Shiver (Shiver #1, Scholastic—available now), and this series provides more of that gorgeous prose. The ominous prophecy looming over the entire series lends an urgency to the work, and readers can look forward to closure in the final installment this year, The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4, Scholastic—available now). Blue, coming from a lineage of witches, has with unique powers of her own that begin to blossom throughout the series, providing plenty of exploration into different types of magic, like ley lines. If you’re searching for a more fantastical setting, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (The Witchlands, #3, Tor Teen—available now) looks to be a promising read. What I found fascinating was the unique magic that both of the leads wield. Safiya is a Truthwitch, whose ability is discerning the truth from lies, and Iseult is a Threadwitch, who can see the ties that entangle the lives around her. Safiya’s power is in high demand for political reasons, but what I’m most curious about is seeing how their differing magics work together in their adventures. The concepts in this high fantasy continue to provide innovation regarding what powers witches can employ.

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| Katherine McIntyre | The Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead is a witch series in vampire clothing. After all, it’s a spinoff of her popular Vampire Academy series. But instead of continuing to keep the main focus on vampires, Mead has the main character, Sydney, get involved in witchcraft. Ruby Circle (Bloodlines, #6, Razorbill— available now) is the last installment in the series and arrived on shelves in 2015 to tie the six books together. This series highlighted another reason for the wild popularity of witches as well. Because for many, they’re a cog in the wheel of supernatural universes, often at a central point of problems due to their abilities. And this one thing allows for a variety of creatures in their expanded world. Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh (Sky Pony Press—available October 4, 2016) takes a witch’s apprentice, Bridey Corkill, and places her in the center of an unfolding mystery. The mystical setting of the Isle of Man creates an eerie ambiance to begin with, and combining that with the generation spanning history of vanishing villagers piques my interest. This story blends mystery and romance with deadly stakes, all tied together by the mysticism of witchcraft. When the foe could be something as immense as the sea itself, the Isle of Man turns into a much more terrifying place. However, it wouldn’t be a discussion of witchery if a book surrounding the Salem witch trials didn’t work its way into the mix. How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mathers (Knopf Books for Young Readers—available July 26, 2016) combines the historical elements and figures of the witch trials with a contemporary high school setting, which culminates in one radically different read from many of the other paranormal ones on the shelf. The main character, Sam, comes from the bloodline of Cotton Mathers, but that causes a group of the girls in her school who call themselves the Descendants to place themselves on the opposite side of her basketball court due to their Salem ancestry. While warring cliques in schools are nothing new, the historical backing provides a fresh

take on the trope. Whether you’re looking for your latest paranormal fix or you’re just jonesing for some mystique to your reads, these young adult series and stand-alones have plenty of variety to make for a happy witch. Fantastical settings may provide the perfect outlet for magic; however, even contemporary settings can take on a more mystical facet once witches are introduced. And with this wonderful array of magical reads on the lineup, there are plenty of enchanting worlds to dive into this year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR A modern-day Renaissance woman, Katherine McIntyre has learned soapmaking, beer brewing, tea blending, and most recently, coffee roasting. Most of which make sure she’s hydrated and bathed while she spends the rest of her time writing. With a desire to travel and more imagination than she knows what to do with, all the stories jumping around in her head led to the logical route of jotting them down on paper. Not only can her poetry and prose be found in different magazines, but she’s had an array of novels and novellas published through Decadent Publishing, Boroughs Publishing, Hazardous Press, and Jupiter Gardens Press. For more casual content, she’s a regular contributor on CaffeineCrew.com, a geek news website. Visit her at http://www.katherine-mcintyre.com.

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reviews young adult | new adult | childrens

Five Out of the Dark Holli Anderson Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Five teenagers who’ve recently discovered they have magical powers and are living in the Seattle underground feel it’s their responsibility to protect unsuspecting humans from otherworldly foes. Things are going well until Johnathan, their unofficial leader and the boy sixteen year old Paige is in love with, is bitten by a changeling – the venomous saliva causing him to metamorphose into a ravening beast with each full moon. Paige vows that, no matter the cost, she will find a way to cure Johnathan of the evil that has embedded itself in his soul. But Johnathan’s monthly transformation and daily personality roller coaster aren’t the only problems they have to deal with. The Five are also gearing up to face their toughest and most dangerous enemy yet—a powerful and ruthless Warlock who will go to any means, including high school, to build his Dark Army. Review: This is a good start to a new young adult series. Five teens are on their own, after discovering that they have magical abilities in Seattle. Getting away from their families as they were afraid they would hurt someone, or get locked up, they end up homeless on the streets in Seattle. It was a bit too rushed in the beginning on how all these kids found each other so quickly. They decide to use their “powers” for good, so they hear about a school with a lot of suicides in a newspaper, and find ways to become “students.” It is suspenseful, although it was predictable. They learn they are the Five Protectors of the world, in which they are supposed to protect humans from evil beings. The action was good, there was some good witty conversations, and the ending of this story was satisfied and at the same time set up for the next book. Reviewed by Cyrene

Senior Year Bites J.A. Campbell Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Senior year is supposed to be fun: boys, dances and graduation. It’s significantly harder to enjoy it when you’re dead. Thanks to an innocent game of Truth or Dare, I wound up sleeping in a graveyard. Probably not the brightest thing I’ve ever done, but thanks to a couple of well-placed fangs, I’m here to tell the tale. Vampires might stalk pop culture, but they’re just myths, right? Yeah. Not so much... Review: For Meg it was an innocent night of truth or dare. However, it quickly turned into much more when she was bitten by a vampire. Now a vampire without a sire, Meg needs to learn how to be a vampire, how to not kill people, and how to maintain her friendships and relationships with family. Not to mention she is a senior and has class, homework, and the occasional sleep over with friends. When deaths start occurring around town, Meg is conveniently thrown in the center of the deaths, and she must rely on her friends and brother to maintain her innocence while finding the real culprit. Of course it wasn’t going to be easy. I liked this novella, it was short, but it had some depth. Not a lot, but some. There were some points that made you wonder if friends would really stand behind a vampire like that, especially one who had been lying to them for months. Throwing in the boys made it a little cheesy because you knew what was going to happen, but adding them also added other elements to their group, which helped to “sell” the story a little more. Three girls seeking the truth, ehhh; but three boys and girls seeking the truth, I can see it. I give it a four stars because it is good, but there are some parts that are a little too fantastical even for me. Reviewed by Andi

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Dark One’s Mistress Aldria Alien Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

For centuries, the people have lived under the protection of their so-called Dark Lord. Now, with news of his death reaching the quiet village of Everdark, rumour whispers that his son, Lucias, is hunting for a mistress to beget him an heir. Clara doesn’t put much stock in village gossip, until she finds herself forcibly taken to the Lord’s fortress. Escape is not easy. She has no way out and, against a man with magic, little chance of fighting back. But the Lords are still men and the death of Lucias’ father is proof that they die just the same. And yet, if Lucias dies heirless, his army will be free to terrorize the land. Review: For centuries, the village has been protected by the Dark Lord. After his death, his son Lucias is looking for a mistress to bear him an heir. Clara, who is kidnapped by men from the citadel is one taken to Lucias. Unfortunately for Clara, out of the 3 girls taken, Lucias wants Clara. Clara tries to escape many times over. I’m on the fence a bit with this book. I never got a clear picture of Lucias in my mind, and Clara, even though she is only 17, in her days, she should be more mature – and she should have grown up a bit quicker. She was centered on escaping for over half the book, even though her own mother thought she was a burden and didn’t want her around. Lucias did provide a safe haven, and it took her a long time to realize that. I liked the storyline and some of the secondary characters well enough, and the book did reach a nice conclusion. Even though the title of the book may throw you, this book fits best under the young adult genre. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Contemporary | Romance | Mainstream | Literary Fiction

CONTEMPORARY & ROMANCE

the HAPPILY ever AFTER

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trends reading trends in romance

Addicted Romance to

Sandra Renee Pesso

Second-Chance Romances Welcome back to Addicted to Romance, a column focusing on what’s hot in the romance genre.

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| Addicted to Romance | Good-byes . . . breaking hearts . . . tears . . . anger ... These aren’t exactly the words you think of when describing a romance, but there’s nothing like an ugly-cry, heart-breaking scene to ramp up the tension of a story that keeps us turning the pages. I love romances about second chances, especially when the characters go through hell first. Everyone can relate in some way to a story of second chances, and as readers, we find ourselves rooting for the hero and heroine’s happily ever after. Elizabeth Taylor said, “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” That’s exactly what the heroines did in these stories about moving on and second chances. . . . Life After Perfect by Nancy Naigle (Montlake Romance—available now) Katherine Barclift had it all: the perfect job, the perfect car, and what she thought was the perfect marriage. But when her entire world collapses in one stomach-churning instant, she hits the road and keeps driving until that so-called “perfect life” is just a dot in her rearview mirror. A chance encounter leads her to make a pit stop in Boot Creek, a drowsy little North Carolina town where she can call herself Katy, soak up the peace and quiet . . . and drink in the bluer-than-blue eyes of Derek Hansen, a local doctor still wrestling with his own painful past. Both Katy and Derek are wary about giving romance another shot, but they can’t deny the intense attraction between them. And if 94 | btsemag.com

being in Boot Creek has taught them anything, it’s to take life as it comes and never pass up a chance at true love . . . no matter how wounded your heart may be. A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine Books— available now) When Nichole discovers that her husband, Jake, has been unfaithful, the illusion of her perfect life is indelibly shattered. While juggling her young son, a new job, and volunteer work, Nichole meets Rocco, who is the opposite of Jake in nearly every way. Though blunt-spoken and rough around the edges, Rocco proves to be a dedicated father and thoughtful friend. But just as their relationship begins to blossom, Jake wagers everything on winning Nichole back—including their son Owen’s happiness. Somehow, Nichole must find the courage to defy her fears and follow her heart, with farreaching consequences for them all. Leanne has quietly ignored her husband’s cheating for decades, but is jolted into action by the echo of Nichole’s all-too-familiar crisis. While volunteering as a teacher of English as a second language, Leanne meets Nikolai, a charming, talented baker from Ukraine. Resolved to avoid the heartache and complications of romantic entanglements, Leanne nonetheless finds it difficult to resist Nikolai’s effusive overtures—until an unexpected tragedy tests the very fabric of her commitments. An inspiring novel of friendship, reinvention, and hope, A Girl’s Guide to Moving On affirms the ability of every woman to forge a new path, believe in love, and fearlessly find happiness.


| Sandra Renee Pesso | Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan (Bell Harbor, #1, Montlake Romance—available now) If Sadie Turner is good at anything, it’s putting stuff in order. So when she finds her “perfect” life in disarray, she hopes a summer vacation at her aunt’s lake house will help her piece it back together. She wants to relax, reboot, and heal the wounds left by her cheating ex-husband. And that requires time away from men. All men.

Whether the story is laced with comedy, action, or angst, the second-chance romance packs a wonderful emotional punch. I hope you found some new titles for your summer TBR list. If you love to chat about romance books, please join my Facebook reader group, Sandra R Pesso’s Bookalicious Babes. Romance on!

Or so she thinks. With two slobbering dogs and two cousins living there—one a flamboyant decorator intent on making over Sadie—it’s hard to get a moment’s peace at eccentric Aunt Dody’s house, especially with everyone so determined to set her up with Desmond, the sexy new neighbor. Desmond is Sadie’s worst nightmare. Tall, tanned, muscular . . . and to top it off, he’s great with her kids. But he must have a flaw—he’s a man—so Sadie vows to keep her distance. As summer blazes on, the life Sadie is trying so hard to simplify only becomes more complicated—a new career presents itself, her evil ex haunts her, and Aunt Dody reveals a tragic secret—but maybe a little chaos is just what Sadie needs to get her life back in order.

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ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Sandra Renee Pesso is a romance author, columnist, and business professional who puts her MBA degree to good use dreaming up sexy heroes. As a social media junkie, Sandra loves to chat with readers and formed the Bookalicious Babes Facebook group where members share their love of books. Follow Sandra on Twitter (@ SandraRPesso) where she covers most things romance and all things books.


reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Moment of Weakness

Inferno

Katie Fox Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Twenty-year-old Julia Parker has the ideal life. She comes from a wealthy family, has the perfect boyfriend, and plans to spend the summer in Europe. However, nothing is ever what it seems. It has been thirteen years since her mother’s unexpected death, and the pain she still feels is something she keeps hidden beneath the surface. But for the second time in her life, everything’s about to change. After discovering her boyfriend having an affair with her roommate, she’s forced to spend the summer at home. Only she won’t be alone. Recent events have caused an increase in security, and her personal detail is nothing like she expected. At twenty-five, Roman Hayes is one of the youngest in his field. His only focus is his assignment. But when a moment of weakness between him and Julia leads to several more, they are both left to question what is happening between them. Julia soon discovers Roman may just hold the answers to the very questions she’s spent her entire life asking. But when all is revealed, will she be able to handle the truth? More importantly, can she find it in her heart to still love the one person she thought she knew?

Review: All I can say is wow. This book is full of adventure, heartache, love and betrayal. It is jammed packed. It kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more. This book is well written. The characters in this book go great together. I have two favorite characters in this book. They are Julia and Roman. They both had their hearts ripped out. I am glad they helped each other to get their whole hearts back. If you read this book I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Reviewed by Heather H

Kathryn Kelly Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

I’m a rocker with the eyes of the world on me. Waiting for my triumph or my downfall…just waiting. Most of my life is in my hands. My destiny? That’s another story. My destiny isn’t as debt free. My band, Phoenix Rising, arrives in Houston to cut a new album. Before we perform our first concert in the city and I choose my groupies of the night, I’m thrust into debauchery. Sleeping with a gorgeous woman twenty years older than me has its perks, especially when her husband orchestrated the encounter and eagerly watches. To me, performing is performing. If a man wants to share his wife, who am I to stop him? Unfortunately for me, I don’t make a clean getaway as I leave the McCall mansion. Georgie, their sixteen-year-old daughter, is in the midst of her own intrigue, sneaking home in the middle of the night after an evening of drugs and sex with her older brother’s best friend. In her, I see me. She’s lost and drifting. Her hedonistic parents insist she’s old enough to make her own decisions. Instead of time and love, they give her money and things.

Review: Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. The stereo-typical bad boy Sloane, is the lead of a band called Phoenix Rising. Handsome, insanely talented, a recovering addict, and he’s a jerk. To women, his band, and to everyone around him. One person who turns his world upside down is Georgie, a 16 yr old girl who is the band’s biggest fan and also a lost, spoiled little rich girl with horrible parents and a coke addiction, standing on the edge of her own destruction. The times you actually see tenderness and caring from Sloane, is because of Georgie. He wants to save her from her screwed up parents, drugs and herself, like he couldn’t save his sister long ago. But is the cost of ruining his own life the price he will pay? Don’t get me wrong, I liked this book. There is a lot of cussing, sex, and the overdone party rock band image – but the story is interesting, and keeps a nice enough pace. By the half way mark, I really wanted to know more. What I didn’t really like, is the clear cliff hanger it leaves the story on, as it ties up none of the story arc at all, so if you want a resolution, you have to read the next book. Against all odds, I ended up liking both Georgie and Sloane – and I hated a few secondary characters, as the author intended. If you don’t mind cussing, and you like the rock band scenerio and a lot of secrets between these families, then you will probably enjoy this book. Reviewed by Cyrene

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

What Happens in Texas Carolyn Brown Contemporary Heat Rating: 2

Cathy Andrew’s biological clock has passed the ticking stage and is dangerously close to “blown plumb up”. While her twin sister Marty thinks settling down with one man is just a waste of good cowboys, Cathy wants it all: the perfect husband, the baby, and a little house right there in Cadillac. But even as the town is laying bets on whose wedding will be next, Cathy doesn’t see happily-ever-after happening anytime soon. Fortunately, Cathy and Marty have best friends who aren’t afraid to stir up a ruckus-and if it means Cathy’s got to bust out and set the town on its ear they’ll back her upno matter how hot things get.

Review: First I would like to say I enjoy Carolyn Brown’s books but this one had way too many characters in this book. If anyone new reads it and it is not familiar with her work could easily get lost. I was even confused in a few places. Over all the book was interesting and kept me wanting to read. Domestic abuse is the key through out the book and many people could relate to the story. Reviewed by Babs

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Wilde Ink Susan Hayes Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

Nick Wilde is a man content with his life. Business at his tattoo shop is booming, and he’s never lacking for friends or female company. But when he meets Lia, he knows everything will change... A moment’s flirtation and a kiss in the dark leaves Nick wanting more. When his Cinderella vanishes before the night is over, she leaves him nothing but her name and the memory of a kiss he can’t forget. Chicago Police Detective Lia Archer’s life doesn’t have room for distractions, and that’s exactly what Nick Wilde is. He’s sexy, charming, and a threat to everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. She ran out on him once, but when Nick reappears in her life, he’s determined not to make it easy for her to vanish on him again. When past decisions and old secrets come back to haunt them, will the fairytale end, or will they find a way to reclaim their Happily Ever After?

Review: A chance meeting at a friend’s wedding leads to a kiss neither Nick or Lia can ever forget. But when Lia runs out on him, Nick will do anything to find her and keep her despite the secrets that threaten to keep them apart. Part of the Wilde Brothers Series, Wilde Ink tells Nick and Lia’s story with passion, a little suspense and humor. We revisit the Wilde family of brothers, all in law enforcement with the exception of Nick, the youngest and wildest Wilde brother. But despite their differences, the Wilde family will rally to protect one of their own and his happiness. Characters are well-developed and the story is good. Unlike many romance stories, there’s more story than sex, which serves the plot well. But don’t discount the heated scenes, they fire hot. It’s a stand-alone story, a good read, and well worth the time. Reviewed by Heather Lewis

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feature book showcase

Nancy Fraser Only Yours (A Candy Hearts Romance)

Everyone expects Rebecca Winston to marry her high school/college sweetheart, Garrett Langley. The problem is, the flame’s gone out on their romance. They’re still best of friends, but only friends. When Garrett’s father has a heart attack, his older brother Wyatt (an L.A. attorney) returns home for the first time in years. The attraction between Rebecca and Wyatt is immediate. Can Rebecca expect her family and, especially, Garrett to understand that her desires have changed and turned toward Wyatt? Can Wyatt get past the feeling that he’s poaching his younger brother’s girl?

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Santa Rosa, CA February 1965 “Home sweet home,” he said. “Or, at least I assume you still live with your parents. I guess I should have asked.” She bit back an outright laugh in favor of a more ladylike chuckle. “Yes, I do still live at home. According to my mother, it’s the proper thing to do.” Wyatt hopped out and came around the back of the car to open her door. Her mother would have been proud of how she’d waited for his assistance. Usually, she opened her own door before Garrett could get there. “Would you like to come in and say hello?” “I’d better not. I’ve been given an order to relay to the cook. I wouldn’t want Christina to have to wait for her supper.” He took hold of her elbow, as he had in the hospital. “I’ll see you to the door.” Another round of sparks shot up her arm. She pulled away and took two steps forward. “It’s not necessary.” He caught hold of her wrist and turned her to face him. His dark gaze flared. “Thank you for coming to see Pops. He obviously adores you.” “It was my pleasure.” She was about to pull from his grasp when he tightened his grip, stopping her in her tracks. “My brother’s a lucky man.” Her cheeks flooded with warmth. “Thank you.” He smiled and her heart did a little flip inside her chest. His deep voice softened to a mere whisper and he released her wrist. “You’re welcome, Re… becc…a.” She made a dash for the porch. By the time she turned back toward the drive, Wyatt had climbed into the car and cranked the engine. The way he’d said her name, drawn out and distinct, had reminded her of a cat unfurling its lazy body in front of a raging fire. And her with no extinguisher in sight. *** What the hell had he been thinking? Flirting with a Saturday night date was one thing, but playing cat and mouse with his brother’s girlfriend was unforgiveable. Wyatt slammed the car into high gear and turned back onto the boulevard leading away from the Winston home. He hadn’t intended to flirt with her, yet he couldn’t help himself. Rebecca Winston was like a breath of fresh air amid the social climbers,


and overt man-chasers he was used to. Petite, with a rosy-cheeked complexion and darned-near perfect body, she’d stirred some dormant longing within him. Her hair glistened like harnessed sunshine, despite the severe, school teacher up-do she’d chosen. The kicker, though, were the bright green eyes that twinkled when she talked. And, darkened when she was nervous, or embarrassed. He loved the sparkle, but coveted the darker, more honest shade. It meant she’d felt something.

Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Only Yours is Nancy’s twenty-first published romance. A grandmother of five, she lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.

www.nancyfraser.ca

In the Roaring Twenties… A Hello Girl during WWI, widowed Ariel Pennybaker served her country proudly. She now carries on her late husband’s legacy…a home for the many returning injured soldiers. With her year of mourning nearly at an end, she’s had enough of her self-imposed celibacy. It’s time to get back in the game. A chance meeting with a handsome WWI aviator fills her imagination with thoroughly naughty thoughts. When a second man walks into her life, her naughty thoughts turn downright decadent. What better way to fulfill her fantasies than by sharing both men’s beds. As tempting as the idea is, Ariel has a huge secret, one she must protect at all costs. And it’s possible one or both of her lovers is not what he seems.

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from our website must read columns

Fiction Fixes: Get On with It Addressing small craft matters takes a combination of dispassion and finesse. But the first step, big picture revision, is where the magic happens. We writers often linger too long in the beginnings of our books, bogged down in what turns out to be a warm up. We are fascinated by what we are learning about our characters and the world they live in. We swim through tons of history— it’s all relevant, right? After all, we need to understand our characters’ backgrounds. Yes. We do need to have an understanding of what has happened to the characters before page one. But the reader only needs to have a general sense of what came before the main action, what made the character the man he is. For example, we don’t need to know that Geoffrey Erskine III studied at an Ivy League school with the help of his daddy’s donation to the business school. We can instead suggest it through Erskine’s attitude, his name, his vocabulary, his dress, and how he physically carries himself. A long introduction may bore your readers, make them scan to find the spot where you get on with it. Cut your intro to a point where your characters do something interesting. Consider minimizing exploration of the normal world by starting at a point of change or even soon after the inciting incident. We can start with a man wandering the streets confused at having been booted from his house by his wife of thirty years. Character traits can initially be implied rather than presented on the nose. Certainly our own understanding of our characters’ backgrounds make it possible for readers to have a sense these characters are real rather than simply dropped into a conflict-filled world for the sake of plot. But it’s best not to offer readers more than necessary. Because we have a tendency to do this, our beginnings often end up

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being substantially cut in the second and third drafts. To avoid overwriting introductions, we can put our Act I paragraphs through three tests. 1. Do we need this information to get the story’s plot started? 2. Is the specific information needed right off the bat to understand your characters? 3. If the backstory will be necessary to your story, can we get the information later when it is vital and triggered by the action?

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ABOUT THE COLUMNIST

Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker, awardwinning author of novels and cookbooks, and a produced screenwriter. She’s consulted on numerous projects and has written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons, and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and Pikes Peak Writers Contest. Find out more at www.karenalbrightlin.com


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Issue 33 - May/June 2016 Featuring author Landra Graf, a short story by Rakesh Pandey, columns and over 35 book reviews

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