on the cover NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author Jasinda Wilder
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contents february 2014
19 Women & History
REGENCY & VICTORIAN ENGAGEMENT RINGS
23 Chic Trends in Romance THE SEXY SERIAL
47 The Heat Diva
THROW BACK THE HEAT
65 The Scrying Eye
Reunion by Bernard Lee DeLeo
87 Forever Young
WHEN SASSY TURNS TRASHY IN YOUNG ADULT FICTION
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
30 Victoria Vane
A DEVIL NAMED DEVERE SNEAK PEAK
36 Rebecca Royce
FEBRUARY LOVER SNEAK PEAK
54 Shaunna Wolf AUTHOR INTERVIEW
56 Jo-Anna Walker AUTHOR INTERVIEW
70 CM Michaels
INSIDE DANGEROUS WATERS
59 book reviews 21 CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL
74 JoAnna Grace
76 CA Szarek
63 PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE
82 Bec McMaster
85 YOUNG & NEW ADULT
INSIDE PRIDE BEFORE THE FALL AUTHOR INTERVIEW
MY LADY QUICKSILVER SNEAK PEAK
February 2014 | 5
From the Desk of
Myra Nour BTS CEO
We’ve had a lot changes recently I would like to share with our readers. Change in Publication Release We are going to a 2-month issue starting in March with a March/April publication. See page 16 for details. BTS Virtual Tours It is with a bit of sadness I announce the closing of BTS Virtual Tours. While it continues to be successful, I need to concentrate on running the magazine. Overseeing the other business was spreading myself too thin. All scheduled tours will be completed and then we will shut down the website. BTS Goes Hollywood Starting in our May/June issue we kick of “BTS Goes Hollywood,” showcasing writers and Hollywood actors who bring characters to life. We have an exciting line up with Tara Cardinal, Alex Bledsoe, Tom Nowiki, plus more. New Employees We would like to welcome Cyrene Olson, our newest designer, who will be our Production Assistant Also, Alex Bardy is our S/F & Fantasy columnist who will debut in our May/June issue. He is located in the UK and brings an international flavor to our columns that I am sure you will find interesting. Kellyann Zuzulo is currently the Associate Editor for our magazine. This month she joins the talented ranks of our columnists, with her column “Forever Young” which will be in the YA section. Farewell I would like to thank Laurie Garrison who wrote “The Lowdown with Laurie” column. She is super busy planning the next Indie Romance Convention (IRC) and is also working on a novel. We’ll miss her informative columns.
BTS Book Reviews Book & Trailer Showcase
Executive Coordinator Myra Nour Executive Designer Dawn Seewer Promotions Director Babs Hightower Production Assistant/ Designer Cyrene Olson Designer/ Review Team Assistant Nikki McCarver Designer Mike Milliken Editor Sheri Kraft Associate Editor Kellyann Zuzulo Review Coordinator Annette Stone Author Liaison Leslie Ferdinand Yahoo Promotions/ Ad Coordinator Simon Nour Scheduler/ Promotions Assistant Christy Wilhelm
REVIEWERS: Annette Stone, Nikki McCarver, Tim Davis, Drue DePompei-Hoffman, Francine Alli, Leslie Ferdinand, Lynda K. Frazier, Marie Haney, Kimberly Klemm, Niina Cord Rachel Flash, Rhonda Dennis Stephanie Phillips, Susan Frances, Michele Biring-Pani, Sally Manson, Krissy Malott, Shelly Schulz, Priyanka U. Patel, Nila Bi, Shan McKinney, Shelly Hammond, Beckey White, Iris Montalvo Pross, Patricia Costa Melo, Gypsie Holley, Anita Rivers, Cassandra G., Dave Franklin, Savannah Mae, Abbie Foxton, Nicky Peacock, Michelle Willms, Dianne Solberg, Julie L Canfield, Michele Page, Tobyann Aparisi, Adeshr, Danielle S., Babs Hightower, Taunya Wells, Crystal Guidroz, Ioana Giju, Christina Torretta, Udita Banerjee, Namrata Parakh, Colleen Cook, Joss Landry, Jake Trauberman, Michele Boylan, Steve Liddick, Karen Fainges, Satarupa-Biswas, Emma Mullins, Geri, Nancy Levine, Janice Ross, C. S. Johnson, Dm. L. Carter, SharaLee Podolecki,Brenda Lang, Elaine White, SharaLee Topnik, Kristy Nowinsky COLUMNISTS: Sandra Bunino, Christy English, Kelly Hudson, Nikki McCarver, Nicole Morgan, KellyAnn Zuzulo
BTSeMag.com info@BTSeMag.com facebook.com/BtsBookReviews No material in this magazine can be used or copied without BTS or the author’s permission. © Copyright 2014. BTSeMag, BTS Book Reviews, All Rights Reserved. By submitting material to BTS Book Reviews or its affiliates, authors certify they own the rights to all published information.
February 2014 | 9
Please join us Feb. 24th - Feb 28th for the Soul Mate Publishing blog hop
NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author Jasinda Wilder is a Michigan native with a penchant for titillating tales about sexy men and strong women. Join BTS as we have a chat with Jasinda about writing, life and her upcoming releases!
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| Cover Author |
An Interview With New York Times Bestselling Author
JASINDA WILDER Tell us about yourself: Well, I’m a wife, and a mother to five amazing kids, ranging in age from 2 all the way up to 10. I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and now live in Northwest Michigan. I’ve been a DJ, a corporate headhunter, and a private vocal instructor. Teaching voice, dance and theater was my first and longest career. I started teaching privately while in college, and only retired to write full time just this past year, making it nearly fifteen years as a voice teacher. When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?
log, Find books, b e at or events and mer.com JasindaWild
In teaching theater, I often wrote dialogue, monologues, and multi-person scenes for my students to perform, and I’ve always been an avid reader. Then, when things became financially impossible for my husband and I, we began talking about possibly writing books. My husband Jack is a writer as well, and that had always been a dream of his, and when Twilight came out, and then Hunger Games, I kept thinking that that was something I could do. I could tell a story like that. I knew scenes. I knew dialogue. I knew what made a compelling character. So Jack and I talked through some ideas, and set to work. Basically, I never really had an “aha!” moment, when I woke up and said “I’m going to be a writer!” It was something that happened more gradually. How did your decision to write change your life? Oh man. The decision to publish our own books has completely changed everything. At first it was just to try and make some extra money, to see if we could
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| Jasinda Wilder |
even sell a hundred books. Make a hundred dollars. Anything to offset our income. Then I hit on the idea for Big Girls Do It Better, which was my attempt to write a story about a main character that I personally identified with, and that was the real start of things. That led, eventually, to writing Wounded, and then Falling Into You. FIY was huge. It’s been a rocketship ride, and FIY really boosted us farther than we ever imagined we could go. It’s not just the money that has come from the amazing sales we’ve seen. That’s been incredible and wonderful, to be sure, but just the experience, writing stories we love and believe in, hearing the testimonies of how our books have affected people, meeting them at signings…god, the signings. I remember the first signing I went to, in Orlando, and just being completely blown away by the amount of people that wanted to meet ME. It was mind-boggling then, and it still is now. Seeing new places, meeting fans, the close friendships I’ve formed with other authors…it’s been amazing. Everything is different than it was even a year ago, in the best possible way.
Where do you get your ideas from? Life. All my stories come from life, from reality, from people I know, from their experiences and my own and my husband’s. Falling Into You and Us were both based on real events that happened to people I know. My current series is also based on true stories of love. Tell us about your most recent book: Right now I’m working on the third book in The Ever Trilogy. It’s called Saving Forever, and it finishes what I started in the first two, Forever & Always, and After Forever. I can’t tell you too much about the book itself, since anything I might say would be a spoiler, but I’ll say I’m super excited about the book, and about the way it will close the journey of my characters. My readers have invested a ton of time and energy and emotions in the first two books, and I’m just hoping and praying that I can finish the story in a way that will satisfy my fans.
February 2014 | 13
| Cover Author |
Read a Sneak Peek from
t me through often all that ge e ar rs uff, nothing tte le These just random st s it’ if n ve E e. Gramps is week to week. important to m ’re I’m ey th t, an rt impo e ranch. But... working on th e ve lo lik I e, d on an t, I’m no grea onnected, like til sc di un el re fe I he . st ly lone I’m ju ke Li . re he yw an ow what I don’t belong don’t even kn I s. en pp ha make something else ur letters, they yo ut B . re tu fu y ne. I I want with m hing, to someo et m so to d te thought me feel connec we first met. I n he w u, yo to had a crush on ul. It was hard ul. So beautif tif we d au an be d e er de w en you n camp he T . se el is ng think of anythi l I have of you er, and now al th ge to t a crush on go r neve ld you I have to st ju I t. ** S ymore. these letters. sure what is an ot N . sh ru a id. Sorry. you. HAD. Had ve? That’s stup lo y ar er lit A ver throw A letter-crush? yself that I ne m ith w le ru hopefully I just have this ays send it, so w al I d an e rit d a dream away what I w too much. I ha t ou u yo rd ei e this doesn’t w thing. Us, in th Same kind of o. you to e u lik yo as t w ou ab . And it us st Ju . er th a memory darkness, toge a dream, but to in ed rn tu y t in the said, a memor r happened, bu ve ne ’s at th don’t even of something it was more, I d an , al re so ever felt, in dream it felt anything I’ve an th T H IG R that we know, more r what it means de on w I s. m her. Maybe life or in drea about each ot m ea dr e m sa tell me. both had the everything. You be ay m g, in th no Cade 14 | btsemag.com
Cade, We’re pen pals. Mayb e that’s all we’ll ever be .I don’t know. If we met IRL (in real life, in case yo u’re not familiar with the ter m) what would happen ? An d just FYI, the term you used, a literary love? It was beautiful. So beautiful. That term means some thing, between us now. We are literary loves. Lovers? I do love you, in some stran ge way. Knowing abou t yo u, in these letters, knowing your hurt and your joy s, it means something so important to me, that I just can’t describe. I need your art, and your letter s, and your literary love. If we never have anything els e between us, I need thi s. I do. Maybe this letter will only complicate things, but like you I have a rul e that I never erase or throw away what I’ve written and I always send it, no ma tter what I write in the letter. Your literary love, Ever
| Jasinda Wilder |
Read a Sneak Peek from
Ever, I don’t know w ho I am anym ore. I’m a cast Lost. Drowning away. . I love you. T hat’s the only thing I know, true and it’s all I ha ve to hold on you. I’ll love yo to. I love u forever. Unt il the day I die, love you in w and I’ll hatever world co mes after this love you so m one. I uch, Ever. I m iss you. Dear miss you. Com Jesus, I e back to me. For forever, an d after foreve r, Cade
February 2014 | 15
| BTS News |
BTS Goes Hollywood! Starting in our May/June issue, we are opening a new section called “BTS Goes Hollywood.” We’ll be featuring writers and Hollywood actors who bring characters to life in the movies. For our May/June cover we are excited to feature Tara Cardinal Hollywood actor, producer and writer. If you are a writer whose work has been optioned for a movie or already been made into one, contact me at Myra@btsemag.com. Also, if you know an author who fits this category, or by chance someone in Hollywood, send them my way. I’ve already got people lined up for this section but I’m always on the lookout for new talent!
BTS Issue Update Due to the increased popularity of our magazine among the book industry, we have selected to opt for a 2-month issue in lieu of our current monthly publication schedule. This new schedule will allow our staff and reviewers more time to bring our readers the quality content they have come to know and love. Our authors and publishers will also enjoy longer exposure for their ads and features with a 60-day cycle in each current issue. Back issues will always be available on our website, allowing our advertisers renewed visibility long after each issue has been initially published. Ads are the same price for 2-month issues as they currently are for the one month issue. The new schedule will be: March/April May/June July/Aug Sept/Oct Nov/Dec
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Advertising deadlines have also changed, please see our website at btsemag.com for details.
| Industry Insider |
Publisher Spotlight Looking for some fantastic reads? Check out the wonderful books these publishers have waiting for you!
February 2014 | 17
ARC 2014 NOLA August 14-17 New Orleans, LA Are you ready for an awesome fun time? 3 days for authors and readers to interact face-to-face and have a great time!
A.L. Jackson & Heather Graham KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
• Badges • Swag Goody • Programs • Thursday Meet up Social • Breakfast • Lunch with Keynote Speaker and • Daily Raffles • Evening Event *Available Sponsorship for all these great items and more!
See full schedule of events here!
ACCOMMODATIONS Marriott New Orleans $125.00 Reservations can be made here.
ATTENDING AUTHORS: Shannan Albright Zoey Derrick Kris Austen Radcliffe Seraphina Donavan ML Guida Sylvia McDaniel Donna Michaels JT Schutz DN Simmons Barb Han Tonya Kappes BTSeMag will be providing all press coverage for this event! We hope to see you there!
Full Details at AuthorReaderCon.com
Reader - $225.00 Includes: Friday & Saturday Events, Panels, Book Signing, Intimate Chats and Evening activities. You are also eligible to participate in all raffles, games & door prizes! You will receive a free swag bag full of goodies provided by your favorite authors and publishers upon arrival. Additional Sponsored events may be added. Author /Industry Professional - $250.00 You will enjoy everything the Readers receive as well as the opportunity to join panels and intimate chats. Exhibitor / New author Table $ 225.00 You will be in the center of the action with 1/2 of a 6 foot table to display your items. If you are registering as an author you do not need this option. This is for authors who want to offer their swag and books to the readers all weekend OR if you have items to sell.
For more information or to register click here!
more beyond the books
Women & History
Regency and Victorian Engagement Rings When I wrote my novel, Much Ado About Jack, I did not know that wealthy people in Regency England rarely bothered with betrothal rings. The exception to this rule was if the gentleman and lady knowingly entered into a long engagement. In that case, a betrothal ring could be offered, and accepted, to seal the commitment in advance. In my novel, James Montgomery buys a star sapphire for his lady love, Angelique Beauchamp, and follows her into the depths of Derbyshire to give it to her, even though she has sworn never to marry again. Though I have a great time watching James â€œJackâ€? Montgomery chase down the love of his life, engagement ring in hand, it turns out that, in reality, Regency brides did not expect betrothal rings. Though in wealthy marriages, money and property often exchanged hands, engagements were usually short, and rings were rarely, if ever, given. This is a far cry from a few decades later in English history
February 2014 | 19
| Women & History |
Queen Victoria Snake Ring
when Queen Victoria was given a snake engagement ring by her betrothed, Prince Albert. In this, as in so many other things, the wealthy British public were quick to emulate their queen. Different types of engagement rings abounded, the favorite being the snake ring a la Victoria. South African mines had not yet opened to British interests, so the large single stone rings of the twentieth century had not yet come into vogue. Instead, the rings were often cast in yellow gold and rose gold with colored jewels and smaller diamonds arranged in patterns on the band. According to the fabulous site Victoriana, http://www. victoriana.com/bridal/wedding-rings.htm, opals, pearls, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies were worked into these rings. The Victorian lady also sometimes received a beautiful cluster setting like the one below. You may be familiar with this idea from the Twilight films and books, in which Edward gives Bella such a ring. Though Regency ladies didn’t receive rings, wealthy Victorian ladies had a bit of bling to look forward to when they accepted a man’s proposal—nothing like jewelry to make true love even more exciting.
After years of acting in Shakespeare’s plays, Christy English is excited to bring the Bard to Regency England. When she isn’t drinking tea, hiking or chasing the Muse, Christy writes historical novels (The Queen’s Pawn and To Be Queen) from her home in North Carolina. Please visit her at ChristyEnglish.com.
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CONTEMPORARY & HISTORICAL
the HAPPILY ever AFTER
REVIEWS and more
BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed
February 2014 | 21
trends reading trends in romance
Chic Trends in Romance Sandra Bunino
The Sexy Serial Serials are nothing new. Serialized fiction has been around since Dickens. Did you know Oliver Twist was originally published in serial installments? Fast forward a couple hundred years, throw in a handy invention called the e-reader, and bam, serials are back with a vengeance. I recently polled my reader friends and asked if they enjoyed serialized romance. The majority claimed a hot and steamy story should be devoured like a Venti caramel brûlée latte, served completely at one time versus small teaspoon-sized installments. My friends are in luck because many of the hot serials from 2012 and 2013, like Beth Kery’s Because You are Mine and Anything He Wants: Dominated by the Billionaire by Sara Fawkes, are now available in novel form.
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| Chic Trends in Romance |
Because You Are Mine by Beth Kery (Berkley Trade—available now) It starts with that first look, when you know you have to have him... Francesca Arno has been commissioned to create a grand centerpiece painting for the lobby of Ian Noble’s new skyscraper. It’s at a cocktail party in her honor that she first meets him—and the attraction is immediate for Francesca. It’s also bewildering. She’s not used to such a wholesale sexual response to a stranger. Enigmatic, darkly intense, with a commanding presence, Ian completely unnerves her. And she likes it. For Ian, she’s the kind of woman he can’t resist—one that comes all too rarely: a true innocent. But he can sense in her a desire to open up, to experiment, to give herself to the fantasies of a man in control. The first kiss, the first caress, the first challenge for a woman who craves what she’s never had—a man who gets what he wants.
Anything He Wants by Sara Fawkes (St. Martin’s Griffin—available now) Lucy Delacourt’s temp position isn’t quite her dream job but it pays the bills. The highlight of her day is riding the elevator in the mornings with a handsome stranger. Tall, dark, and sexy as hell, Lucy knows he’s way out of her league, but a girl can look, right? Everything changes the day the stranger seduces her. Completely out of character, she yields without a fight, but she has no idea her wanton acts with a man whose name she doesn’t know will change her life forever. Because the sexy stranger is none other than Jeremiah Hamilton, billionaire CEO of Hamilton Industries, and one taste isn’t nearly enough to satisfy his need. As the billionaire pulls Lucy deeper into his world of high stakes business deals and ruthless takeovers, he demands nothing less than her complete surrender. But even as enemies seek deadly revenge against him, she’ll discover that her greatest threat is falling for her fiercely guarded boss . . . and yielding to her own darkest needs. However, if you love the suspense of waiting for the next installment, I’m here to tempt you with two... 24 | btsemag.com
| Sandra Bunino |
His To Possess Following the success of His to Command, Opal Carew introduces her new serial, His to Possess (A six-part serial, publishing December 2013–February 2014) (St. Martin’s Griffin, Parts 1–3 available now) Enter an intoxicating world of power and pleasure— where one woman will submit completely to her fiercest hungers at the hand of a powerful businessman. While attending a job fair, Jessica can’t help but notice the tall, dark, and handsome stranger across the conference lobby. Especially since he bears a striking resemblance to her ex, the man who broke her heart when he couldn’t support her dreams. Deciding to take a chance, Jessica invites Dane back to her bed for one night of hot, no strings attached sex in a last effort to finally get over her heartbreak. However, when the night’s over they find that sometimes a casual fling doesn’t end the next morning.
Roman Holiday Ruthie Knox’s Roman Holiday is an epic romance with two seasons. The first began its weekly installment run in November 2013. Ruthie will take a short break before rolling out season two in March. (A ten-part serial publishing November 2013— March 2014) (Loveswept, season one available now; season two available in March 2014) Ashley Bowman is having a bad week. Reeling from the death of her beloved grandmother, she returns to the Florida Keys only to learn that a heartless Miami developer has gotten hold of the crappy vacation rentals she calls home. Ashley has one day to clear out before Roman Díaz destroys the only place in the world that matters to her. Chaining herself to a palm tree in the bulldozers’ path seems like a good way to stop him . . . until she realizes she should’ve brought food and water. And pants. Also, it would help if the evil developer weren’t so ridiculously hot. The last thing Roman Díaz needs is some sun-kissed blond protester getting her picture in the newspaper and messing up his plans. He bought the property fair and square, and the resort he wants to build on the site is the key to realizing his highest ambitions. But when a hurricane blows through, Roman February 2014 | 25
| Chic Trends in Romance |
has to hustle Ashley to safety if he wants to protect his reputation—and that means giving in to her unreasonable demands. Roman needs to learn a little compassion, and Ashley’s decided to teach it to him . . . even if she has to drag him all over the Eastern Seaboard to do it. You can take full advantage of the joys of serialized fiction by chatting with Ruthie and her readers in the Roman Holiday Forum. Thanks to authors like Ruthie, the “social reading” concept will take us to new levels of reading and enjoying romance in 2014!
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Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a longstemmed red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers. SandraBunino.com
contemporary | historical | mainstream
Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently. London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father – sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to immortality. Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive. Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.
When Whitney Cooper inherits a house and five acres in Montana, she jumps at the opportunity to begin a new life. A life without fear. But her house is attached to a ranch belonging to the Martin family. And the reception she gets from Jared Martin is far from welcoming. When accidents begin to threaten her life she wonders if she’s done the right thing. Could this be worse than what she was running from? Jared Martin has a habit of jumping to conclusions where Whitney Cooper is concerned. She is not turning out to be what he thought her to be. The last thing Jared needs or wants is the pull of desire he feels whenever she is around. He is certain she is hiding something about her past and he is determined to find out what it is. Can Jared keep Whitney safe? And is his heart in danger of breaking once again?
A.W. Exley Romance Heat Rating: 4
Review: A vivid and cool steampunk novel, Nefertiti’s Heart draws the reader into its world with a surprisingly hardcore opening scene and never lets them go until the last word has been read. An ever-twisting mystery plot supports the story with slowly unraveling secrets which leads readers into always doubting and second-guessing themselves as to who the culprit really was, displaying A.W. Exley’s talent to weave and interweave numerous evidences to fit different scenarios. The author also utilizes characters with hazy pasts and developing them into strong individualistic personas who continue grew powerful despite their obvious vulnerabilities. Moreover, Exley describes each scene in vibrant clarity, giving special attention to the clothing and machinery of the era. | Reviewer: Francine Alli |
Marilee Crow Contemporary Heat Rating: 2
Review: Suspense reins when Whitney is trying to evade a psycho security guard who truly believes he’s in love with her and the truth be told she’s terrified of him and what he’s capable of. She inherits a house and she takes off to claim it and she meets her neighbor in the lawyer’s office and he offers to buy the place. She refuses. He’s not happy that she’s there and thinks she’s nothing but a vulture out to get the remnants of the remains that were left. She thinks he cold arrogant and spouts nothing but nonsense when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. After a rocky start and a few accidents later, they try to figure out what is really going on and at one point Whitney has to deal with her greatest fear when it catches up with her. Definitely a page turner that you don’t want to put down till the very end. The characters were enjoyable and very believable. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |
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contemporary | historical | mainstream
Christmas Wishes Mary Manners Inspirational Heat Rating: 1
When attorney Riley Harper comes home to Maple Ridge following the death of his grandfather, the last thing he expects to find is Kaylee McKenna living in his grandparents’ guesthouse. Though they were once best friends—even more—Riley cannot find it in his heart to forgive Kaylee for the death of his mother ten years ago as a result of her father’s reckless actions. His heart, full of bitterness and resentment, has room for little else. Kaylee has not time to dwell on events of the past—or all she’s lost; she’s too busy raising her six-year-old niece,
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Rosie, and working as an ER nurse. With Christmas quickly approaching, her days are spent helping with charity events and filling the wishes on Rosie’s Christmas list. But when Rosie’s father makes and unexpected visit, Kaylee must call on Riley’s legal expertise to ensure Rosie of a safe and secure future. Will Rosie’s special Christmas wish heal Riley’s damaged heart and bind the trio together as a foreverfamily? Review: An inspiring read about hurt feelings, devastating losses and the quest to heal human suffering, the story touches people’s hearts as the main characters head for the light at the end of the tunnel. The author uses poignant analogies to deepen the reader’s awareness of the emotions torturing Kaylee McKenna and Riley Harper and churning between them. Her vivid descriptions put the reader in the center of the characters situation experiencing what they are feeling and the turmoil
contemporary | historical | mainstream
they must muddle through to make their way to inner peace and to trust each other again. Manners channels the voice of a 6-year-old in Rosie McKenna brilliantly intensifying the reader‘s connection to the tale. Her use of secondary characters provides readers with vital insight and broadens their understanding of the wedge keeping Kaylee and Riley apart. It’s a short story that can be shared by adults and children alike. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |
Sidelined Afterlife Joya Fields Contemporary Heat Rating: 3
so Hunter, really did have a lot to deal with that he really didn’t want to deal with. Hunter learns that a neighbor of his (Veronica) is a psychic and might be able to help him and all three (more or less) go on a journey. Wade trying to remember and cross over. Hunter, coming to terms with Wade, and also, the death of his wife and wondering if he can actually start over with somebody else. Veronica trying to come to terms with her gift, especially after her last ghostly encounter which has given her nightmares. It was sweet and charming with very likeable characters. You’ll really like them and hope they all get the happy ending they desired. A really quick read you will enjoy. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |
Veronica Matthews hates her psychic-medium “gift”—being able to communicate with ghosts and dying people. All it’s ever brought her is pain and grief. When her neighbor Hunter Anderson, an ER doctor, realizes her talent, he begs her to help get rid of the ghost that’s been haunting him for two years and endangering his job. She’s torn. Her need to help the attractive man who saves peoples’ lives wars with her guilt over not being able to lead police to crime victims before they’re dead. She agrees to help Hunter. They soon find out the ghost is likely to turn dangerous if he doesn’t cross over to the next world. After losing his wife in a tragic accident, Hunter’s only solace is his work. The ghost that haunts him jeopardizes the one thing he cares about. But spending time with Veronica, getting to know her passionate lips and sassy attitude, gives him something new to care about. She can’t risk her heart. He’s afraid to love and lose again. Can a ghost help them break through and start again? Review: Wade Montgomery, ghostly teenager, has been haunting emergency room doctor Hunter for the past two years. Ironic thing was Hunter’s wife had just passed away in an accident the same night Wade did,
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feature sneak peek
A Devil Named DeVere When burned once… Beautiful and respectable Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley was resigned to her loveless marriage to a feckless husband until a dire discovery shatters her life. By an old flame... A master of seduction, Viscount Ludovic, “The Devil” DeVere, is accustomed to taking what he wants heedless of the cost until encountering a woman who won’t be had at any price—at least not until a dark secret compels her to seek aid and comfort in this devil’s arms. Fire is best fought with fire…Four years later, DeVere is world-weary and bored with his life of debauchery when Diana unexpectedly reappears. Although both believe the former inferno has been reduced to bitterness and ashes, their passion reignites to undeniable ferocity. While DeVere is hell-bent to lure Diana back into his bed… she is now equally determined to bring him to his knees.
Laughing and chattering, the small troupe alighted from their carriage in front of an elegant stone and stucco façade, initiating a flurry of activity. Several grooms emerged from nowhere to take charge of coach and horses, while an army of footmen materialized to unload their baggage. Amidst this scene, their host appeared at the top of the white marble landing, affecting a pose with his quizzing glass, and presumably assessing the efficiency of his staff. Diana thought he closely resembled a king surveying his domain. Strikingly garbed in peacock-blue silk brocade with cascades of Mechlin lace, he appeared in all the sartorial splendor of his lofty station. Her initial impression of arrogance and hauteur shattered, however, with his rapid descent down the stairs. He was upon them in an instant, pulling Edward into a hearty embrace. “Ned, you dull dog, it’s been too long! And my dear Annalee, lovely as ever.” He took possession of her hands, but instead of the expected brush over her fingers, he bussed both of her cheeks in the continental style. Diana stood in the background observing the viscount with bemusement. He was nothing like she had expected. Annalee prompted Diana forward. “My Lord DeVere, may I present to you my cousin, the Baroness Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley.” His gaze of cobalt-blue met hers, and Diana’s smile froze on her face, an unfamiliar and unsettling frisson of physical awareness sweeping 30 | btsemag.com
over her as he took her in from head to toe in a swift, and by his show of strong white teeth, appreciative appraisal. For a woman who took pride in her selfpossession, she was strangely discomposed when he raised her fingers to his lips, his thumb skillfully settling on the bare expanse of skin just above her glove, setting her pulse skittering. “Baroness.” The timbre of his voice, the curve of his lips, was fraught with meaning, sending a jolt of heat to a place low in her belly. He gave a shallow bow that set his gaze on a horizontal plane with her breasts and lingered there much longer than proper, his eyes flickering like a blue flame. Her nipples tightened, contracting against her layers of muslin and silk, sending a tiny tremor rippling over her. Without having uttered a word beyond her name, the portentous weight of an indecent proposition hung between them.
Victoria Vane is a cowboy addict, history junkie, and an awardwinning author of smart and sexy romance. Her collective works of fiction range from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.
contemporary | historical | mainstream
Much Ado About Jack
Riding for Love
What do a rogue countess and a sea captain have in common? Absolutely nothing. Sparks fly when Angelique Beauchamp discovers Captain James Montgomery (Jack) aboard her prized ship. She tells him to step off, and to step out of her life, but the good captain does not take orders well. With lively banter and steamy interludes, these two can’t seem to stay away from each other. Everyone from the Prince Regent to her old lover Anthony Carrington is wondering, why is there so Much Ado About Jack?
Eve Dayton’s former boyfriend returns to town just as problems start arising at her horse riding ranch. Can she believe his declaration to be part of her life again? Will she overcome the suspicion that he is part of the problem and accept his help in catching the culprits? Find out how Denton Johanson triumphs over his fears to win back her love.
Christy English Regency Romance Heat Rating: 4
Review: It has great characters and a great story. Jack is suave and a debonair sea captain and determined to succeed in everything. Angelique is a widow in control of her own destiny and aims to keep it that way. They made a great couple once she actually let him into her world. There were great supporting characters that should have a story of their own. They were characters who were friends of both Jack and Angelique and there was also a dastardly villain who was just that, dastardly. Definitely an enjoyable romp you’d want to check out if you want to read a good story.
Tina Susedik Contemporary Heat Rating: 4
Review: Eve and Denton are two very complex characters that have been given a second chance at love. Fate brings them back to one another and tests their ability to trust, forgive and follow their hearts. With a very true to life small town feel, the author brings to life a world where chivalry is not dead and romance still exists. Throw in a great mystery with a surprise ending you definitely don’t see coming, and this romantic suspense will thrill you and leave your heart full of love. | Reviewer: Marie Haney |
| Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |
February 2014 | 31
contemporary | historical | mainstream
Mike’s Way Back Amy Gregory Romance Heat Rating: 4
When Detective Mike Sterling left the Chicago PD and returned to his hometown of Renlend Kansas, he tried to convince himself it was so his mother could stop worrying. The truth was, even Renlend wasn’t going to vanquish the dreams that tortured him at night. When Taryn Watts landed in Renland Kansas to design a client’s new cooking school she intended to stay just long enough to do the job and then go right back to her life on the East Coast. When Taryn and Mike found themselves sharing a booth, one thing was certain, neither one of them thought it was a good idea. Mike still wasn’t over his ex-wife’s betrayal, and when Taryn found out Mike was a cop she wanted to run all the way back to Connecticut and never look back, but she couldn’t… Sitting outside his home late at night she watches him fight against his demons. Demons she already had too much experience with firsthand. When Mike finally admits there is no way to outrun his demons, Tayrn knows she’ll do anything, or be anything, to help Mike find his way back. Review: Mike’s Way Back, This is a sweet story between two people who met and became friends without knowing how the other felt about each other until it was almost too late. Mike did not fully trust women due to his previous marriage and Taryn was trying to break out of her parent’s mold of how she should be and her hesitancy of dating a cop, since that is the profession of the men in her family. I have read other stories of Ms. Gregory’s and this one did not disappoint. Mike was struggling with conflict between a tragic mistake in his career and his previous marriage and felt that he did not deserve to be happy and Taryn helped him to face his thoughts and finally talk about his turmoil within himself and her as well. Taryn also has two male friends that she is close to that are going through their own problems with family due to their homosexual relationship and this adds more depth to Mike and Taryn’s relationship than I realized as I got further into the story. 32 | btsemag.com
contemporary | historical | mainstream
My only drawback to this story is that it is a short story, and I would have liked a little more insight as how things progressed between all of the characters Sequel perhaps? You never know? | Reviewer: Anita Rivers |
His Perfect Game Jenn Langston Regency Romance Heat Rating: 3
Greyson Thorpe, Viscount Merrick, wants respectability, so he challenges the duke to a card game to obtain his daughter’s hand in marriage. Willimena Abigail Everett doesn’t want to marry after experiencing the violent nature of men but is forced to wed Viscount Merrick. Shortly after Greyson sends her to the country, he follows her only to discover she is living a double life. Will he discover her secrets and control his burning desire for her? Review: Willhemina is frighten and shocked when she’s summoned by her father. A rather cruel man to her and her mother, but a rather upstanding citizen in front of her brother and other members of society who have no idea what happens behind closed doors. She learns that she is to be married to one Greyson Thorpe. She thinks her father paid him off in order to get rid of her, but the truth was, the vicious old miser lost at cards and lost his holdings and since he didn’t want any of that to come to light he and the viscount hatched this scheme. Once Willhemina got past the shock of her engagement, she got to know Greyson, they actually became very close. Willhemina’s mother was also a victim of her husband’s vicious cruelty and did not know how to escape the abuse, so she suffered and tried to protect Willhemina as best she could. It was not only emotional assaults, that her husband inflicted, but physical ones as well. And they were right to be absolutely terrified. They never knew when, where, or how the beatings would start or how they would end or if they’d even be alive at the end of it. It had a lot of
suspense, well written characters. Definitely an enjoyable read and you’ll be rooting all the way for the villain to get what they truly deserved and the hero and heroine to get their HEA. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |
February 2014 | 33
contemporary | historical | mainstream
Is This Love? Sue Moorcroft Contemporary Heat Rating: 3
Moorcroft plans on doing a book two. It doesn’t end exactly on a cliff hanger but there are a lot of questions that could still be answered... especially in relationship areas! All in all, it took me a little longer to get into this one but it was well worth the wait! | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |
How many ways can one woman love? When Tamara Rix’s sister Lyddie is involved in a hit-and-run accident that leaves her in need of constant care, Tamara resolves to remain in the village she grew up in. Tamara would do anything for her sister, even sacrifice a long-term relationship. But when Lyddie’s teenage sweetheart Jed Cassius returns to Middledip, he brings news that shakes the Rix family to their core. Jed’s life is shrouded in mystery, particularly his job, but despite his strange background, Tamara can’t help being intrigued by him. Can Tamara find a balance between her love for Lyddie and growing feelings for Jed, or will she discover that some kinds of love just don’t mix? Review: Although this wound up being a really cute book, it took me a bit to get into. At first I wasn’t feeling anything for the characters, especially the main character Tamara. Jed shows up and Tamara starts to open up a bit but prior to that I felt like she was shrunk into herself, doing what everyone wanted her to do and nothing for herself. It doesn’t help that her boyfriend, Max, doesn’t understand her at all. I think that led to me questioning what she really wanted to do with her life. Funnily enough Lyddie is who really brings the best out of everyone. Tamara really becomes herself around Lyddie, it’s a stressful and difficult situation but I think Tamara handles it wonderfully and that helped me to grow with her. As I got a better feeling for the characters and the mystery that was starting to unravel, I really found myself enjoying the plot more and more. There’s a lot to this one and I was certain that things were going on that weren’t on the up and up! I was right, however, I was not able to guess what those things were! Except for the villain in the entire thing, I was able to make the villain out pretty early on. Nothing was exactly said, maybe it’s my distrust in characters, but in the end everything added up! This ended so well that I’m really hoping that Sue 34 | btsemag.com
When Hearts Collide Kendra James Romance Heat Rating: 3
If you witnessed an accident on a lonely stretch of highway, would you stop? Risking her own life, nurse Molly Tanner pulls the seriously injured driver and his young daughter from the car. When Pearce begs her to pose as his wife to keep Gracie from foster care, memories of her own unhappy childhood rush back. But can Molly keep up the charade without exposing her own secrets, or having her heart shattered? Review: A touching romance that focuses on family bonds and mending rifts with kinfolk, Kendra James stimulates readers compassion and their desire to see love prevail. A father and daughter are injured in a car accident and rescued by Molly Tanner, a nurse who struggles with her sense of honesty as Pearce Taylor pleads with her to pretend to be his wife and mother of his daughter. The façade becomes a reality as the story progresses. Pearce’s teasing is charming and infiltrates Molly’s cautious nature. Startling secrets threaten their relationship, but their hearts bind them together. The pace of the story is comfortable and the writing style makes for easy reading. Taking place in contemporary times, the romance has an oldfashioned, World War II context reminiscent of Kitty Foyle by Christopher Morley and Random Harvest by James Hilton. It’s a love story that shares traits with the classics. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |
contemporary | historical | mainstream
Gypsy Road 1: Leather & Lace
Into the Land of Shadows
Can a rogue find love with the girl next door? Not if his exgirlfriends have any say in it! Bethany Briggs is a wallflower who’s always looked for love in the wrong places. Rod Summers is notorious for the string of broken hearted girlfriends he’s left behind. Even when she sees a teddy bear beneath his wild exterior, she isn’t sure she can trust her heart. But this shy girl-next-door is about to prove that the pattern for leather and lace can be tailor-made.
Rancher Ethan Barstow is weary of the years-long estrangement from his brother Charley. Deciding to track him down is easy; riding in the company of Kate Kinsella, Charley’s fiancée, proves to be anything but.
Karen Wiesner Contemporary Heat Rating: 3
Review: The animal magnetism between Bethany Briggs and Rod Summers is palpable but the two have little else to base their relationship on making for a shallow romance. Independent and educated, Bethany characterizes the typical working girl/aspiring entrepreneur eager to make her own way in the world. Leather-clad Rod has a bad boy image on the exterior but inside his heart yearns for a meaningful relationship that will domesticate him enough to lure him into a monogamous relationship. The two work to find a middle ground where they can meet while offering audiences some timeless lessons on listening to what the heart needs. The author perceptively captures the tough guy persona and the dutiful good girl ideal. The conversational tone of the narration and dialogue makes for an easy read and indulges the fantasy of the sweet girl-next-door winning over the free-spirited, risk-taking motorcycle dude.
Kristy McCaffrey Historical Western Heat Rating: 3
Review: Weaving supernatural elements peppered by action-adventure, mystery, and romance shape the story into a voyage of self-discovery as Kristy McCaffrey leads her characters on the path to finding happiness, or more precisely finding a home for two perennial drifters. Kate Kinsella and Ethan Barstow are each built with a restless spirit and a need to settle down. Their encounter is destiny in action as Kate learns that Ethan had caused her father’s murder after she irrefutably falls in love with him. Theirs is a love blocked by obstacles which take self-awareness to topple and simultaneously garner the audience‘s sympathy. Briskly moving action scenes are buffered by private ruminations which stall the story’s progress. Too much retelling of the past halts the characters from moving forward, but detailed descriptions of the landscaping in America’s southwest and the happily-ever-after ending make up for any of the story’s shortcomings. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |
| Reviewer: Susan Frances |
February 2014 | 35
feature sneak peek
February Lover Aidan Roux fled New Orleans fifteen years ago, leaving behind a woman he loved. Planning to keep it light because he has no intentions of sticking around, he’s caught off guard by his mother’s health crisis. Forced to stay, he challenges Stacey to be his lover for February with no expectations of anything else. Stacey never stopped wanting Aidan, but she’s not a girl anymore and she meets his proposition with one of her own. A hero, just back from Afghanistan, he’s the perfect guy for her calendar contest. If he wants her in his bed, he’ll pose for her camera. Stacey and Aidan seem made for each other—but old hurts cannot be forgotten and love isn’t always enough…
There was no way to go back in time and fix things between them. No way she would ever find out exactly why he’d left, if there was something she could have done to make him happier. She wasn’t exactly certain she wanted to. When she’d told him his leaving had prompted her to go make her own career, her own life, she’d meant it. But today he offered passion. They’d been kids together. She’d given him his first kiss. For all intents and purposes, it might as well have been hers. A sloppy kiss-and-run at twelve years old shouldn’t get to count. They’d lost their virginity together, and all of her early sexual education had been found in his arms. What would they be like now? She sucked in her breath. “You’re a hard man to say no to.” “You didn’t say yes.” He took her hands in his. “I need a yes. I can’t leave here with you upset again. I won’t hurt you again. So, you have to tell me you understand what I’m offering and what I’m not, that you grasp completely I’m not going to be here in March.” “I’m not a moron, thank you.” She stood up. “And I’m not the head-over-heels-in-love-with-you twenty-year-old with dreams of marriage and Sunday crawfish boils wrecking my brain. I have my own life here. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth disrupting it for you for an entire month of my life.” 36 | btsemag.com
She felt him when he moved behind her, his warmth filling her from the outside in. With a quick tug, he pulled her flush against his body. “I can promise you. It’ll be worth it.”
As a teenager, I would hide in my room to read my favorite romance novels when I was supposed to be doing my homework. I hope, these days, that my parents think it was worth it. I am the mother of three adorable boys and I am fortunate to be married to my best friend. We’ve just moved from New Jersey to Texas where I am learning to love Barbecue! I am in love with science fiction, fantasy and the paranormal and try to use all these elements in my writing. I’ve been told I’m a little bloodthirsty so I hope that when you read my work you’ll enjoy the action-packed ride that always ends in romance. I love to write series because I love to see characters develop over time and it always makes me happy to see my favorite characters make guest appearances in other books. In my world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.
contemporary | historical | mainstream
Riders in the Sunlight
Lies That Bind
When the door was opened, Coach looked into the bloodshot eyes of a scruffy face he remembered from years ago, Isaac Marlow. “Justice is justice, depending on who’s dishing it out,” Isaac said, “You dished it out your way ten years ago. Now, I’m ready to serve some justice of my own. Different ways of hurting a man. Maybe through others, like his womanfolk, or children-folk.” The reaction was sudden and unexpected; Coach brought his knee up into Isaac’s groin like a catapult.
Would a modern day woman marry for convenience to protect the identity of her daughter? Yes! Kelly Mancer doesn’t want a man. Any man. But danger has a way of changing a woman’s mind. Alex Gentry needs Kelly, but convincing her to help him pluck his younger sister from a dangerous enemy would not be easy. Soon the tables turn and Kelly becomes the prey. Alex may save his sister, but at what cost?
Kent S. Brown Western Heat Rating: 1
Review: The story reads like an episode of the ‘60s TV show Bonanza. Franklyn Dodge, nicknamed Coach, is the family’s patriarchic liken to Ben Cartwright. A homesteader in America’s Wild West, Coach is a type of Scottish laird watching over his clan. The crux of the plot revolves around his struggles with the Marlow Gang, a group of outlaws who mirror the menacing Jesse James and the merciless Billy the Kid. The contentious rivalry, reflective of the warring Hatfields and the McCoys, is drawn out but when it comes to an end it’s written with finality. There are subplots involving conflicts between Coach and his son Laurence and his son-in-law Moses. Their discussions focus on ranching, farming, tending to livestock, and family matters. Justice is meted out slowly but firmly showing reflections of the days of Wyatt Earp. Fans of vintage westerns will pick up the most from the story. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |
Kathy L Wheeler Romance Heat Rating: 4
Review: This book starts off a little confusing and slow. It seems to be concerned more with the physical effects on the male lead, Alex Gentry, when meeting his long lost love than the plot. After chapter one, you actually start to get into the story. Following the standard romance formula of; two meet, hold back, and finally give in, only to find another problem, the characters make the journey worthwhile. Taylor, the young daughter, is a delight and I found myself searching for her sections. Of all the characters, she is the most believable and the most likeable. The interactions with the other characters with her is when they round out and become more than hormones on legs. Strangely enough, the character that has the best “voice” after her, is the bad guy. Every line made me hate him more. His thoughts and reasoning rang very true. I found myself really wanting him to be horribly disfigured or dead, preferably both. The female lead, Kelly Mancer, reads well the further you go into the book. Her confusion and fears are explained and I found myself nodding with her reasoning. It was not the choice I may have made, but it made sense. All in all, worth the read. | Reviewer: Karen Fainges |
February 2014 | 37
Congratulations to the winners of the Mr. BTS Contest! Mr. BTS: Scott Best Face: James Hottest Body: Axl Favorite Cover: Jason, Twist of Fate Mr. BTS will be featured on the cover of the May/June 2014 issue!
stories short reads
Reunion by Bernard Lee DeLeo
“Kathy! Come over to the window and see this.” My mom thinks I’m interested in everything moving around our house. I have to be called over as a witness if a squirrel stops to take a piss on our lawn. We live in her house. Mom’s been divorced from my dad since shortly after giving birth to me. He decided he wasn’t cut out for fatherhood, and Mom decided marriage wasn’t for her. I moved back in the house after doing a stint in the army overseas. Shrapnel from a roadside bomb messed me up for a while. I’m getting around good now, but it cut my military career short. I put down the novel I was reading and walked over to my mom’s chair stationed by the living room window, so she can keep up on local events while fooling around with her quilt patterns.
February 2014 | 39
| The Reunion |
She glanced up at me with a smile. “Guess who’s moving in to the Burrell house.” I glanced through her open curtain at the small SUV backed up in our across the street neighbor’s driveway. The Burrells moved to Florida to escape the Ohio winters. Mr. Burrell’s application to a law firm down there had come through. “Okay . . . I give up . . . who?” “Chaney Burrell.” I glared at my mom. Forty-nine was too young for dementia, and she wasn’t the type to make crude jokes. “That’s not funny, Ma. Chaney died in Afghanistan back in 2010.” “Did not.” “Let’s knock it off with the guessing games. You sent me the clipping overseas.” Mom met my glare with a smug look she often gets when hearing the sound of frustration creeping into my voice. “You’ve only been home four months. I forgot to mention it was an error. It turned out he was missing in action, taken prisoner, and escaped. Bonny ran over in tears waving the letter she’d received from the state department.” I nodded my understanding, staring out the window, thinking to get a glimpse of the undead. I remembered Chaney. A year behind me in school, Chaney had been one of those boys who got his butt kicked regularly through school until a growing spurt turned him into a six-foot-three-inch monster with a bad attitude. I remembered thinking it was a good thing Frank Burrell was a lawyer. Chaney never bullied anyone, but by the time he got into eleventh grade, he’d been booked into juvy half-a-dozen times for assault and expelled from school. Then he stole a car and wrecked it. That ended any intervention by Frank Burrell. Chaney took a deal his dad garnered for him. Chaney’s parents paid all damages, and instead of prison time, Chaney joined the Marine Corps. “He never came back to visit or anything—not even after being presumed dead,” Ma explained. “Ten years and Bonny told me except for a few letters, he never visited after deployments. Her and Frank did everything they could for him growing up, but Chaney never came back. It was a damn shame. She said he met up with them only a handful of times over the years.” “Chaney had two perfect older sisters. They were everything parents could hope for. Maybe he 40 | btsemag.com
figured to let his past exploits die down in people’s memories, and time got away from him. He wasn’t on vacation. He was in a war.” I reminded her. “How the hell do you know it’s him anyway, Ma?” Mom shrugged. “Bonny may have mentioned something about Chaney buying their old house. The guy unloading stuff over there looks something like I remember him looking.” Yep, my mom is loaded with facts of all kinds she expounds on constantly, except for the pertinent ones. Just then, a guy came out in jeans and a T-shirt. All he had for hair was black stubble on top and white-walled sides over his ears. He grabbed a box from the SUV but set it down again. He looked right at our window. Great, he’s clairvoyant. I’m not much for ducking out of sight, so I waved at him. He smiled and waved back. I could tell he’d been sweating in our wet blanket June humidity. “Oh dear . . . he’s coming over.” Mom jumped up out of her chair, running hands through her auburn hair as if she was going on a date. “Am I dressed okay? You should change. Those black shorts are too short and that red halter top makes you look like you belong working at a Breasts Are Us.” I busted up laughing. Ma could go from zero to annoying in a split second with no warning. “The scar tissue up my left leg still chaffs. You look fine. You look like a superhero—‘Quilt-a-Woman.’” She giggled and smoothed out her blue housedress anyway. “Quilt-a-Woman . . . really?” The doorbell rang before I could tag on another zinger. When I opened the door, Chaney gave me a little wave. He looked good. The sweat-wet T-shirt clung to his chiseled chest and washboard abs like a second skin. I’d served with a lot of guys in combat shape, so I didn’t go into any girlish coma over his looks. I’m five feet and nearly seven inches tall. Chaney looked bigger than I recalled. “Kathy Green?” “Yep. In the flesh. I heard you’re a zombie. I’ll invite you in if you don’t eat brains. My mom can’t spare any.” Mom gasped in shock as she walked up next to me and slapped my shoulder. “Kathleen Louise Green! Come in, Chaney. Don’t mind my disrespectful troll of a daughter. How are you?” Chaney chuckled. “I’m fine. I guess you heard about the mix-up with my being missing. How’s your leg, Kath? I heard from my mom they blew you up
| Bernard Lee DeLeo |
before you could win the war.” That cracked me up. I grabbed his elbow and drew him inside. “Get in here smart aleck before you run up our electric bill. In case you didn’t hear, I did win the war, but they went and started a new one while I was recuperating. Want a soda?” “Sure . . . thank you. I’m glad to see you again, Mrs. Green. My mom said you were very supportive during my short demise.” Chaney looked over my assets while pretending like he was checking out my leg. “Good to see you’re recovering, Kath. You going back?” I shook my head. “Nope. Put a fork in me. I’m through with my GI Jane days. There was some nerve damage in the leg, so I had to give up my ballerina career too.” Chaney and Ma laughed as we walked into our kitchen. Ma put out diet sodas for both of us on our table. Ma pointed at the living room. “I have to go back to work on my quilt. You two catch up on old times.” “What old times?” I decided to see if I could get a rise. “Chaney spent so much time in jail, I only saw him at the bus stop a couple times a month.” Ma smacked me again, and Chaney laughed his butt off, pointing at me appreciatively. “Good one. They didn’t call her ‘Mean Green’ for nothing.” Damn. I forgot about that one. I grinned as my mom clucked her disapproval at us both. “I’ll leave you two to your insult-a-thon then. If you need me, just cackle, Mean Green.” Ma walked into the living room again. “Will do, Quilt-a-Woman,” I called after her. “You going back, Chaney?” “I’m in the reserves since my zombie status. I figured it was a safe time to move back to the neighborhood, thinking maybe everyone had forgotten about my checkered past. My bad. I like your hair. You look like Peter Pan.” It took me a couple minutes to recover from that one with both of us laughing. I’d clipped my long red hair back before boot camp. It was easy to manage, and as it turns out, good for a laugh. I’m not crazy about long introductions. “So, studly, are you married?” “Nope. I came over to ask if you were.” “I haven’t found a guy yet who likes Peter Pan.” I began to get ideas. “What would you say to taking me to my ten-year reunion?”
That wiped the smile off Chaney’s face. “I’d like that a lot, Kath, but a couple of the guys in your class were the recipients of my darker days.” I’d forgotten about that episode. Two of the guys from my class decided Chaney needed a beat down. It didn’t go well for them. “I remember now. How long you get at Hogwarts for it?” “Hog . . .” Chaney grinned. “I get it. You mean juvy. I got six months. It was two on one.” “That would have worked if you hadn’t broken Ken’s jaw and Rick’s arm. Hold on.” I got up and went to my desk in the other room. The confirmed attendee list had both guys on it. I shrugged when I returned to the table. “They’re both coming. If you go with me, I’ll protect you.” He enjoyed that line. It took him a couple moments to reply. “When is the reunion?” I pretended to be peering over at the calendar on the wall. “Let’s see . . . today’s Saturday, the eighth of June, so . . . ah . . . it’s tonight.” Chaney nearly choked his soda up through his nose. “Tha . . . that was . . . just . . . wrong.” “So . . . you’ll go with me?” I liked this zombie, and I thought I had him on the ropes. “Yeah, I’d like to if you don’t mind some possible complications. What time should I pick you up, and what’s the dress code?” “I’m wearing a real nice dress, so I want you in a suit and tie, pal. I know just what I’ll do about the complications part. If Ken and Rick want to make a scene, I’ll tell them you lost your memory in captivity.” Chaney patted my hand. “That’s good . . . real good. I’ll put a blank look on my face, which isn’t too hard to do anyway, and we’ll be fine. You’re kind of fast, Mean Green. You’re not the clingy kind too, are you?” I wanted me a taste. I leaned into him and initiated the kiss heard round the world. It started as a kind of sarcastic reply, shot off into moaning wonderland, and crashed into the rocks when Quilt-a-Woman cleared her throat next to my ear. That jolted me back from the brink of ripping off my clothes and letting Chaney have his way with me right there on the kitchen table. Damn! “You two don’t need a chaperone out here, do you?” Chaney looked like he got tagged with a left hook. He blinked away from me and up at Quilt-a-Woman. “Sorry, Mrs. Green. What time . . . Kath?” February 2014 | 41
| The Reunion |
I looked up at him as he stood. My breathing had finally returned to almost normal. “Pick me up at seven.” Chaney smiled. “Will do. See you in a few hours then. Thanks for the invite.” Me and Quilt-a-Woman watched Chaney leave. Ma looked at me with that know-it-all squinty look of arrogance she gets. She pumped her fist uncharacteristically. “I’m going to get me some grandchildren.” I wasn’t letting her get away with that crap. “What the hell, Ma? It was just a kiss.” Ma grabbed my chin. “A kiss? Hell, if I hadn’t come in from the living room, I’d be only nine months away from holding my first grandkid.” My snorting attempt to forestall full-blown hilarity failed. “That was hot!” I admitted finally. “Maybe I better not—” Quilt-a-Woman grabbed me by the ear, shaking it, with my head following for good measure, shutting off my protest instantly. “Don’t you screw this up! March that bubble butt of yours upstairs and get ready. We have that big guppy across the street on the hook.” I broke the ear pinch with some pain and grabbed her upper arms. “Ma! Calm down. I . . . what the hell . . . did you just call me a bubble butt?” “Never mind, young lady. You need all your charms tonight. He owns the house across from mine. Good Lord, think of someone else besides yourself, you ungrateful—” I shook her. “You set me up! You and Bonny Burrell planned this!” Ma twisted out of my hold with a wave off. “We didn’t make you ask him to the reunion or nearly rape him on my kitchen table. I may have been tipped off to his arrival time. So what if I put you on the scent, instead of watching you mope around the house like a lost puppy. Go get ready before I take the switch to you!” I watched Ma chuckle her way back into the living room, realizing not for the first time, that I was no match for Quilt-a-Woman. I took a deep breath, remembered the kiss, and went upstairs. When the doorbell rang at a few minutes before seven, Ma answered the door, with me right behind her. Yeah . . . I was a little pumped. I had my black off-theshoulder dress on that accentuated every good curve I had and toned down the bad ones. Even the nylons 42 | btsemag.com
I wore were causing no pain on my still sensitive leg. I looked damn good. As Chaney filled the doorway in a charcoal gray suit, he looked even better. He had brought roses, which Ma took as she pandered to him like the cheap, conniving fishwife I knew her to be. Chaney stared at me, his mouth slightly open. I think I just hit it out of the park. “Wow, Kath. You look incredible.” I decided to get my suspicions out in the open. “Did you know our moms set us up?” “Kathleen Louise!” Chaney grinned. “Yeah, I suspected it. I’ve had a crush on you since we moved here when I was in second grade. If you want to go slower, we can have a coffee before you go, and we’ll start over another time.” He had all the right answers. “Let’s do this. It’ll be fun. Besides, I already paid the plus one and RSVP’d. I was going to show up and pretend my husband couldn’t make it. Don’t wait up, Ma. I may get lucky tonight.” “Kathleen Louise!” We chortled our way out the door as Ma came out to stand on the front stoop. “You two have a good time. Don’t let her chow down too much, Chaney. She’s getting a little bottom heavy.” It was all I could do to keep from spinning on Quilt-a-Woman, but no way was I going to give her the satisfaction. Chaney swallowed hard, and went into a mild coughing fit to cover his attempts to stem off full-blown laughter. I bumped Chaney warningly with my heavy half. “Stow that, Marine!” “By your command.” Chaney bowed his head slightly as he opened the passenger door of his SUV. He attentively watched my dress ride up while I shifted into the seat. He leaned in and kissed me, the touch of his lips brushing against mine tentatively at first. The same fire flared up from earlier today, molten hot. In seconds, we rocketed into a writhing oneness, where all thought of reunions fell away like charred ash on the wind. “Will you please let that boy take you to the reunion for God’s sake!?” Quilt-a-Woman jarred us again from getting biblical right on the front seat. “Kathleen Louise Green! I swear. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were switched on me at birth.” Chaney broke away with regret, closing the car door, and turning sheepishly toward my Ma.
| Bernard Lee DeLeo |
“Goodnight, Mrs. Green.” Ma smiled as I made a childish face at her through the window. “Drive safe.” Chaney slipped in behind the wheel and patted my knee. “Where are we headed?” “Enzo’s Restaurant on Elm Road,” I replied, trying not to let my legs pop open at the touch of his hand. “Do you know where it is?” “I think so. It’s near Weir Road, right?” “That’s the one.” No use in me pretending Chaney didn’t just rock my world. “Did you feel the same as I did just now?” “I think the soles of my shoes melted. You mean like that?” Chaney started the SUV and drove away. He put his hand on my thigh again. I let out my breath and nodded, covering his hand with mine. “Yeah, exactly like that. Chaney, what the hell happened to you in school?” Chaney put both hands on the wheel with a shrug. “Who cares? It was a lot of things, Kath. The marines beat all that stuff out of my head long ago. How about you? My mom wrote me you’d graduated from OSU. She gave me running updates on how you were doing because she remembered me watching your every move when I was growing up. What made you decide on the army?” “The ROTC program was the only way I could get my degree, and I believed in what I was doing. How come you never came back to visit?” “Shame at first, then indifference. I did meet up with my folks and sisters on some family holidays when I was back in the world.” I needed to feel zombie boy out. He was too good to be true. “Want to talk about your capture and escape?” “Want to talk about getting blown up?” I may have giggled. He just took a quick glance over with a grin and stroked my bad leg. He was too good to be true, and I didn’t care. I’d never fallen into quicksand before, but I’m betting this is what it feels like just before being swept under. “I have to admit it—you’re beginning to scare me. I haven’t felt this comfortable with anything since my mom gave me a stuffed dog I named Scooby.” “Roooorrrrr?” Chaney replied with a comical, slack-faced questioning glance. Oh boy, I was in trouble. ***
I watched my zombie boy mingle while I caught up with my girlfriends from the past. They gushed. They showed pictures of their kids. They did everything you do at one of these things. I loved it all because I can’t be disappointed. I’m not made that way. Sure, Chaney and I got the fisheye for a while until my classmates figured out we weren’t there to impress anyone. As I suspected, Ken and Rick were the first two over to embrace Chaney, shake his hand, and thank him for his service. I could tell they were a little hesitant, but Chaney ditched our memory loss plan, and apologized profusely. His victims admitted to their ganging up on him, and pretty soon they were laughing about it. Yeah, a decade will do that. Along with one look at Chaney, and messing with him disappears from all logical thinking processes. We were all golden, and then my archenemy, Barb Ladison, arrived fashionably late. It took only moments for her to own the building—long blonde hair, an outfit right out of a future issue of Vogue, perfect figure, yada . . . yada, and alone. We had competed at everything—guys, grades, sports—you name it, we were at each other’s throats over it. She was like the big sister, angelic in every way, that you wanted to kill in her sleep. In moments, Barb acquired an entourage. She sucked Chaney’s new friends into her vortex. He looked around, found me staring at him like a two-bit hooker, and was at my side in an instant. “Would you like to dance?” The DJ was playing “Lady in Red.” “Oh yeah.” We drifted out among the other couples dancing, heating up like one of those gas-stoked furnaces with rocket fuel thrown in. The feel of zombie boy against me drove Barb right out of my head. I knew Chaney felt the same way, due to some very hard evidence between us . . . if you know what I mean. Then disaster struck. I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Hey, girlfriend. What, no hug? Aren’t you going to introduce me?” I glanced at her. “Hey, Barb. Sorry, I don’t even hug my mom. Barb, Chaney . . . Chaney, Barb. Nice seein’ ya.” Barb tittered amusement but stayed like an infected boil. “Can I cut in?” I began to pull away from Chaney, but he gripped me like a concrete stanchion in a hurricane. He looked at Barb and shook his head gently with a February 2014 | 43
| The Reunion | smile. “I’m sorry. I just asked Kathy to marry me, and she’s still deciding.” Yep, I was lost. *** My cell phone rang with that damn irritating ringtone I had at one time thought was cute and now detested. I rolled bleary-eyed over Chaney, shoving the girls in his face, and flipped open the cell phone while noticing happy noises from underneath me. “Kathleen Louise Green!” Uh oh.
I write adventure fiction and have twenty of my novels offered for Amazon Kindle. Some of my latest novels are: Cold Blooded published by Wild Child Publishing and Hard Case, Hard Case II: the Lure of Hell, and The Protectors published by RJ Parker Publishing. I served aboard the USS Ranger (CVA61) from 1969 until November of 1972. I earned an AA degree in Auto Technology from Chabot College in Hayward, CA and a BA degree in English from Cal State Hayward. My hobbies are basketball, backpacking, and scuba diving. My favorite dive spot is Point Lobos near Pacific Grove, CA. Visit Bernard at bernardsblog.blogspot.com/
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New Love In New York New love in New York Forgetting can be easy Drawn to the unknown You can enrichen the soul So wise and so compelling You give yourself A gracious mind Can be strong and appealing So I go along With your tempting flow Walking through that city In that starry night You give me more than a kiss Copyright 2013. Michelle Lommen.
see BEHIND closed DOORS
REVIEWS and more
BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed
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trends reading trends in erotic
The Heat Diva Nikki McCarver
Throw Back the Heat We all have them. They are our go-to books when we crave that special sensation during or after the read. They are amazing, life changing, completely satisfying, and slightly retro. If you are like me, you have that shelf in your closet dedicated to those lop-eared, well-worn books that may need to be replaced very, very soon . . . LOL. Here are some of mine.
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| The Heat Diva |
Heat Level: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken (Dragon Kin, #1, Zebra—available now) I have reread this book many, many times. Even I love my dragons— Annwyl is actually my favorite character. She’s fierce, determined, loyal, and completely insane . . . which makes for a great read! Things really heat up to boiling when Annwyl unknowingly trains with her dragon’s human form and sparks literally fly in the heat of their battles.
Fierce Dawn by Amber Scott (ParaRealm, #1, Tholden Press— available now) Amber Scott is a creative and amazing paranormal author. I loved this book because of its darkness and sexiness. She created a great little series about angels, and the sexual tension is so thick between the characters, I swear you can touch it!
Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh (Guild Hunter, #1, Berkley—— available now) I have read this book more than I care to admit. It’s steamy . . . action-packed . . . and completely addicting. Paranormal fans who have always wondered about getting it on with an angel seriously need to check out this book. It brings hot and dark to a whole new level.
Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione (Demonica, #2, Forever— available now) This was my first experience with Larissa Ione’s books, which made Shade my favorite of the brothers. You have an underground hospital run by smoking hot demon brothers, and I fell (of course) for one of the sex demons. LOL. This book is amazing, unique, and hot, all at the same time.
Heat Level: Lancelot by Lee Whitney (Double Dragon Publishing—available now) This book was a hidden treasure filled with naughty, naughty sexual adventure, and it had a fabulous plot. Lancelot was cursed to be an
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| Nikki McCarver |
immortal with a huge. . . . Well, you get the picture. LOL . . . but it’s not porn. It has a great story line, and I truly hope the author follows up with book two.
The Empress’ New Clothes by Jaid Black (Trek Mi Q’an, #1, Ellora’s Cave—available now ) This book is one of my favorites. I can’t tell you if I was more turned on by the content or more amused by it. It truly was a toss-up. There was a point I was laughing so hard I actually rolled right off the bed and woke up the house. If you ever need a pick me up, for humor or hardcore passion, please take a look at Jaid . . . you will not be sorry. Well, my naughties, I let you in on some of my favorite go-to reads. These books got me started in their own unique subgenre of hotness. I hope you give these authors a try. Until next time . . . Stay Naughty.
I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and erotica has brought my favorite pasttime to a whole new level. After the birth of my daughter, I started learning about blogging and all the wonderful ways to share my passion for reading and dived right in. I created my own blog to share my love of paranormal, historical, dark, and erotic books. I have had the opportunity to work with many great authors and look forward to working with many more. Come Closer and look me up at: closeencountersofthenightkind.blogspot.com
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Stripper With Spice Afton Locke Erotic Heat Rating: 5
To convince her he’s more than a fantasy, Carlos teaches her trust with his body. But when that trust is finally tested to the limit, she’ll be torn between clinging to safety and taking a chance on a whole new life.
Getting back on her feet after unemployment, Janice treats herself to an erotic-romance convention. After winning a twohour fantasy date with Carlos Aguilar, a young stripper, she decides to have a one-time fantasy fling. When Carlos entices her back to the bedroom—and a few public places—for more sizzling sex, he unleashes her passions, including a secret desire to be a chef. Janice learns there’s more to this heartthrob than a hot body, but job security comes first.
Review: Janice is recovering from a job loss and has a hard time analyzing anything she does or the people around her. That is her current job title but she carries it into personal life as well. One weekend she treats herself to erotic romance book convention where she meets the hunk of a man name Carlos. There is something there that Carlos feels but Janice wants security with her job and thinks that she leaves it there at the convention then it won’t come back to her personally life. What happens when Carlos is a determined man to get what he craves and desires or Janice who analyzes everything that she see and does?
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She wants securityâ€Ś He wants to pleaseâ€ŚBut trust is a factor that is one that can make or break this couple... This was an interesting and enjoyable page turning story that has some shock and what was (is) she (he) thinking scenes. The concept of the story was interesting choice then add that both character have a damaged past that created who they are currently then add their age differences. This is one that some can really get into reading. | Reviewer: Beckey White |
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My True Self
N.C. East Erotic Paranormal Heat Rating: 5
Kalyna started out life as an orphan but finds out more about her past than she could ever imagine after a fateful meeting at a party in her new town. A shy and sickly outsider, Kalyna finds a community that she fits into perfectly and soon rises to her true potential. The only problem? She has to keep it all secret. After spending her entire life doing everything society expected of her, in order to fit in, she must embrace a completely contrary lifestyle to find true happiness, satisfaction, and her true selfâ€”a werewolf with three
brothers as mates. Review: I quite enjoyed this read, it was unusual. But I feel that each character was developed. However, I felt that certain aspects of the book could have been developed more, or at least explained more. The relationship the female character had with one of the male characters should have been explored and been brought to light. As it left an unanswered question, which irritated me. Overall I quite enjoyed the read and I did love the characters. Though, it reminded me of another book I have read or at least a little bit similar to that one. I also liked how each character was unique, but the bonds of family we’re present, Even though the bond was kind of strange to me, but interesting none the less. All in all a Great read. | Reviewer: Nila Bi |
Besieging His Lady Sarah Winn Historic Erotic Heat Rating: 5
To get the land and title he’s long sought, Sir Martin le Werre must marry the widow of a recently deceased baron. Although Lady Gwyneth is young and beautiful, years of marriage to an abusive husband have left her cold and unfeeling. Martin’s best efforts fail to melt her iciness. Then he finds the whip her former husband punished her with and uses it to make her forget pain and embrace pleasure. Review: This erotic story introduces us to Sir Martin and Lady Gwyneth. Forced to marry Gwyneth in order to claim land and title, Sir Martin tries to show the stunningly beautiful woman that not all men are abusive as her deceased husband once was. With the crack of a whip, Sir Martin and Lady Gwyneth move from a smartly matched couple to a sensually passionate pair, expressing themselves through erotic sex. Pleasure brings them together physically and emotionally, and a romance buds
that is tantalizing and sweet. This author sure does know how to please the senses and leaves you with a brilliant historical erotic short. | Reviewer: Marie Haney |
Blackmailed into the Billionaire’s Bed Jan Bowles Erotic Heat Rating: 5
Twenty-seven-year-old Kendall van Heusen is in awe of her new boss, and so she should be, because Mac Buchanan, the legendary thirty-eight-year-old newspaper magnate is as powerful and ruthless as rumor suggests. Incredibly handsome and charismatic, Mac is a self-made man who rules his empire with an iron fist. Deeply attracted by his dominant nature, Kendall realizes she needs to be on top of her game as his new financial controller. It soon becomes apparent that they share a mutual sexual attraction. However, before they can act on their desires, Kendall receives a kidnap demand for the safe return of her best friend. Forced into stealing a million bucks from Buchanan Enterprises, she wrongly believes she can cover her tracks long enough to save Ashley’s life. When Mac discovers the deception, he is angry and gives Kendall an ultimatum—spend time in jail, or become his personal sex slave until the debt is repaid in full. Unable to tell him the truth, will Kendall be blackmailed into the billionaire’s bed? Review: This book is super steamy and hot! The intensity of Kendall and Mac’s attraction is electrifying when Mac discovers that Kendall has stolen money from his company. To repay him, Kendall becomes his personal sex slave and wow! Mac’s the very definition of an alpha male and when it’s mixed with the submissiveness of Kendall, it’s a perfect cocktail for erotic. With an added bonus of a little suspense and a quick romance, this book is exactly what you look for in this genre. | Reviewer: Marie Haney | February 2014 | 53
feature author interview
Shaunna Wolf S.R. Howen grew up on a farm for the most part, spending part of her childhood as a military brat. The one constant in her life is story telling. She’s always been a story teller--not a popular thing to be when you are five. She’s been with Wild Child since 2000 as either an author or an editor. Currently, she lives in Texas with her family and assorted animals. Life Flight was the first mystery that She follows a Native American I’ve ever written. I’d tried before and life style--believing that each wrote myself into a corner. Typically I thing does indeed have its own am not a plotter; I fly by the seat of my spirit, and avoiding processed pants, trusting that my subconscious foods. If she couldn’t kill it, will give me the story as I need it. catch it, or pick it in the wild, When I wrote mystery, I felt like I had she doesn’t eat it. Other than to plan it out, otherwise how will it that she loves fast cars, good work? So with Life Flight, I took places, writing, and good editors. They and some situations that I knew are a writer’s best friend. well, and told myself I was writing an erotic love story, and followed what I normally do. I just wrote and let the story take care of itself. Along the way I did a lot of research, there were topics I wanted to touch on, but not preach or drown the story with it. Spousal abuse and how the system often deals with it, or doesn’t deal with it. PTSD and the power it has over people’s lives, both those that suffer from it and those around them. And how families often react to those who don’t conform to their idea of how life should be lived. As well as sex addiction. While a lot is known about these things in out decade, I took the story back to when a lot of this was first being recognized as actual conditions—and the tide of thinking was changing on these issues. Along the way, I discovered that the more we think we know, and the more society evolves, that perhaps it also remains the same. The result is a timeless love story, with plenty of characters the reader will love to hate, and an action story that takes the reader on an emotional spider ride of adventure and romance with some hot sex woven in.
It’s 1985. Malachi Blackfeather has spent twenty years in the Army. Two of those years as a Vietnam POW. All he wants is some peace and quiet to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. Between the flashbacks, and his sex addiction, finding his path isn’t easy. Kat is trying to escape an abusive marriage. Her soon to be ex is a master at manipulating the system, and her family thinks she should stay with him. She’s looking for escape in any form she can get it. Trapped by a blizzard, can two damaged people, who think there is no chance of love in the world for them, find each other, and survive an unforeseen circumstance that puts both of them in danger? Mystery, romance, and danger, fill this novel, with a story that will draw you in and not let go.
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feature author interview
Jo-Anna Walker I’m a new self published author who just got introduced to the writing world early 2013. My aunt suggested that I write a story because I’m an avid reader but I waved it off and left it alone. Well this year, a story came to me and I went with it. It took me a little bit but I finally got a story idea that worked and now I can’t stop or control the characters/stories that keep popping up in my head.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading? Honestly? My kindergarten teachers. I remember reading this picture book that I loved. I can vaguely see it in my head too. Lol! That was so long ago. What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done? I drove 9 hours to go see and meet JR Ward. Well I didn’t drive. My sister and I took the grey hound bus to Chicago. Now that was an experience.
I’m born and raised in Canada and I live with my very wonderful and supportive husband, Michael. We don’t have any children (yet) unless you count our cat. My hubby been my rock through this whole new experience for me. I couldn’t have done it without him and my friends and family. One of the many things I love about this new chapter in my life is that I’m learning constantly. It’s never a dull moment and as long as one person likes my story, I am happy.
What sparked the idea for your story? Oh gosh. I started and started my story over and over again. Lol! The idea struck when my sister brainstormed with me and I was finally able to start the book and be happy with it. What are your writing goals for 2014? Well I have two books that release in February, so that’s one goal. My other goal is two finish and release the next two books in my Shattered series. Also, to have the second book to my Torn series be released by October at the latest. Hmm...what else? Basically to just write write write and never stop. 56 | btsemag.com
Running is always easier. Tori McLeod moved to the big city to get away from her mother—and her past. Her new routine is destroyed when she meets a mysterious stranger who won’t take no for an answer. Sebastian intrigues her, but his eyes hold secrets she would rather avoid. Sebastian Chelios, a hard-as-nails enforcer, is a new-in-town loner. He has to have her. Control her. Possess her. But he can’t—won’t—lose control, even though Tori’s innocence fascinates him. The last thing he’s going to do is love her, even after he gets her in his bed. Losing control is dangerous, especially when someone from Sebastian’s past covets Tori, putting more than just her heart in danger. Can Sebastian protect Tori from Jose’s sadistic obsession? If he gets his hands on her, will she make it out in one piece?
| Nicole Morgan |
Nicole Morgan I smiled over at Jack when he squeezed my hand comfortingly before returning my gaze to the window. The hustle and bustle of city life was still here, just like Iâ€™d never left it behind just days earlier. The feeling on the island had been much calmer, not like the chaos that surrounded us. My mood had gone from giddy and happy to somber and almost depressed since our plane had touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The past week spent on the tropical island with Jack had been wonderful and exactly everything that heâ€™d promised me. He had been romantic and attentive, finding new and inventive ways to remind me of all the reasons why I had fallen in love with him. Not that I had needed much of a reminder. Jack was perfect in so many ways; it was hard to not fall for him. Maybe that was why it had been so easy. It was that ease, that ability to fall under his spell so effortlessly that was beginning to
February 2014 | 59
| Sex & the Single Woman |
worry me. Our time away may have been magical, but we were back in New York now and reality was beginning to set into my stomach like a bad meal. On the surface, Jack was my long-awaited prince charming. I had no real reason to doubt him or his intentions. There was just one thing, one nagging tidbit that I couldn’t—no matter how hard I tried— ignore. Jack was married. Or at least he used to be. Sure he’d explained it all away as quickly as I found out, but the knowledge that he’d kept something so important from me still never quite made sense. There was the reasoning that she was crazy or mentally unstable as he’d called it. There was even the excuse that it was a part of his past and had nothing to do with our relationship. The various ways in which he explained everything away and offered it up to me in a neat and tidy package were reasonable and believable. So, the real question was why can’t I get these damn doubts out of my head? Somehow I had managed to convince myself that all we really needed was some time away, so we could be alone with one another. Actually, it was Jack that had done the convincing. I’d just blindly followed along like every other time. Normally thought of by my friends, and pretty much everyone who knew me, as the smart one, it would seem that all Jack had to do was open his mouth and I would just nod and smile. It was almost like every ounce of common sense or deductive reasoning just flew out the window when it came to this mystery man who had walked into my life so many months earlier. Every time I think about his ex-wife, I can’t help but wonder if I am dumb, stupid, or maybe even both. Here I have this boyfriend, this great and amazing boyfriend who treats me like a princess and tells me how important I am to him. We see one another all the time. He lavishes me with attention and romantic gestures, leaving little to be desired. Then one day his wife shows up and offers to buy me off, and I instantly just buy into his excuse? What woman would believe that she really wasn’t his wife? What woman would believe that he was a poor and victimized man who tried his best to hold his marriage together and was left with no alternative than to get her professional help? What woman
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would believe that this same ex-wife had in fact gotten to me despite her supposedly being locked up in a treatment facility because she was so unstable? What woman? Those were the nagging questions that kept me up late at night before we’d gone on our trip, and now that we were back in the city, they were just as worrisome to me now as before. And the obvious answer to each of them was that I was that type of woman. Most women would be smart enough to see through the holes in his stories, or at the very least, they would probably ask more questions. Not me though. Apparently I was too weak for my own good when it came to Jack and his silver tongue. “Hey, you okay?” Jack brushed my knuckles with his thumb and offered me a concerned look. I turned to face him. My mind had been so lost in its own all-consuming thoughts and paranoia that I hadn’t even heard what he’d said. “I’m sorry, what?” “Geez, you really were far away. What’s going on? You’ve been quiet ever since we landed.” “Oh. It’s nothing.” “You sure? I’m sort of getting a strange vibe from you.” “I’m sure. Sorry, it must be jet lag or something.” The taxi slowed to a stop in front of my building. I stepped out and onto the sidewalk, eager to put distance between Jack and me as he helped the driver with my bags. “You sure you don’t mind me heading home to unpack and get settled before having to go back to work tomorrow?” he asked. “I’m sure. We’ve both had long flights. I think I could probably use some time myself.” “Some time? That sounds . . . ominous. You sure everything is okay?” “I’m sure. I’m just tired. I probably need a nap.” “Okay, beautiful.” Jack framed my face in his hands and leaned down for a kiss. He lingered on my lips longer than necessary, and the taxi driver cleared his throat to get our attention. “I guess you better go.” I smiled as sweetly as I could. “All right. I’ll call you later.” Jack said before getting in the taxi. I waved him off and watched as he disappeared into the distance. I couldn’t hesitate anymore and
| Nicole Morgan |
keep wondering what in the hell was going on. I knew what I had to do, and I knew exactly who I was going to get to help me.
Temptress In Disguise
I pulled my cell phone from my pocket and hit speed dial number three. It rang once before I heard the answer. I didn’t stop for niceties. I needed to get moving on this now while I still had the nerve. “Hi, it’s me. I need your help.”
Hold me in your arms It’s there where I feel strong Feel your heart beat in my ear It’s there where I belong
Nicole Morgan is an author of erotic romance novels, which more often than not, have a suspenseful back story. While she’s written everything from contemporary to paranormal, her leading men will more than likely be wearing a uniform of some kind. From military to police officers, she has a love for writing about those who protect and serve. From her very first novel (which turned into a four-book series) about Navy SEALs to her more recent releases, you will be sure to find a few twists and turns you were not expecting. She is a proud member of the wonderful group of gals known as Four Seduced Muses and is honored to be a part of Romance Books 4 Us Gold Authors.
I dress myself with care my soft silk dress and my makeup My feet love high heels A sensual woman knows how it feels Talking laughing and playing the game looking at you I know there is a flame Excluding the world to make a paradise all you need is a temptress in disguise Copyright 2013. Michelle Lommen.
Find out more about Nicole and her books by visiting her website, blog, Google+ Page, Twitter, Facebook and her Yahoo Group, Nicole’s Think Tank.
February 2014 | 61
These BTS staff members help authors with editing, publicity and as an author assistant.
PARANORMAL & SUSPENSE
BEYOND the EXPECTED
REVIEWS and more
BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars a must read 3 Stars really good read 2 Stars this was OK 1 Star hard to finish, flawed
February 2014 | 63
reading trends in mystery & more
The Scrying Eye Kelly Hudson
Something Old, Something New
Greetings, my dear friends and fellow intrepid travelers, welcome to another edition of â€œThe Scrying Eye.â€? We always endeavor to enlighten and entertain, and the news the Eye brings to us this fine day is once more another treat for your insatiable curiosity. Push back the curtain, step inside the parlor, sit down by the fire, and gaze, if you dare, into . . . The Scrying Eye!
February 2014 | 65
| The Scrying Eye |
Science Fiction/Fantasy The High Druid’s Blade: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks (Del Rey—available March 11, 2014) is a new novel set in the long-running fantasy world of Shannara but here’s the wonderful catch: it’s a stand-alone story and serves as a perfect entry point into the series itself. So if you’re new to Shannara but overwhelmed by the sheer number of books in the series, this is your chance to get started! According to legend, Paxon Leah is descended from a line of royalty and warriors who once used magic to wage war and rule the Highlands. But that is long in the past, as Paxon leads a quiet life running the family’s modest shipping business. This all changes when Paxon’s sister is abducted by a stranger, and in his pursuit to rescue his sibling, Paxon finds an ancient magic unleashed within him and within the ancestral blade he uses while dueling with the stranger. This is only the beginning of the long, strange journey Paxon is about to endure, and questions of his heritage and his future hang in the balance as fate pushes him towards a battle he cannot hope to win. Will Paxon survive and revive his familial legacy, or will a harrowing fate befall him and all of the Highlands if he fails? Read on to find out . . . Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Tor Books—available now) is a hefty anthology, collecting twenty-one all-new fantasy stories from some of today’s top writers. Within these pages you will find tales from such best-selling authors as Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn, S. M. Stirling, and Sharon Kay Penman. There are also brandnew stories by Diana Gabaldon (a new Outlander story), Jim Butcher (a tale from Harry Dresden’s world), Lev Grossman (a story set in the Magician’s world), and a novella by George R.R. Martin (set in Westeros two centuries before Game of Thrones). If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, then know this, oh seekers of great tales: each of these stories features strong female characters from women warriors, fighter pilots, and space women to bad girls, serial killers, and rebels. How could anyone not indulge in this delightful compendium?
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| Kelly Hudson |
Mystery/Crime Shovel Ready: A Novel by Adam Sternbergh (Crown—available now) is a neo-noir set in the near-future and tells the story of Spademan, a former garbage man turned hired killer. Set in New York City after a dirty bomb has decimated Times Square, society has evolved into two camps: the wealthy and those left to fend for themselves on the torn streets. Spademan lives on the streets, making ends meet by killing for money. Taking out the garbage has always been his job after all. When he’s hired to murder the daughter of a prominent evangelist, he sets off a series of deadly actions, all revolving around the daughter, her secrets, and the hidden agenda of the client who hired him to carry out the assassination. Now Spademan must navigate deadly waters if he hopes to not only cash his paycheck but to survive. An interesting and gritty new series, Shovel Ready is great entertainment for those who like their stories hard-boiled and their heroes as dark as their villains. Dead to Me by Cath Staincliffe (Minotaur Books— available now) is the new novel by a terrific writer, featuring a strong, witty protagonist in Constable Janet Scott. She is teamed with Rachel Bailey, a fellow detective who is quite the opposite of Janet with her shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude. But somehow, they work well together, hitting it off almost instantly. And they will need this camaraderie to see them through their latest case, the murder of a teenage girl found brutally stabbed to death in a housing estate in Manchester. The case, which starts off rather routine, quickly becomes quite complicated, and in order to catch this cruel killer, the partners are tossed into a world laden with danger. Can Janet and Rachel put aside their obvious differences to make this work, or will the killer go free? You’ll have to pick up this book to find the answers, dear reader.
Horror! Protect All Monsters by Alan Spencer (Samhain Publishing—available now) is the newest novel by insane mastermind Spencer, and if you haven’t read any of his work, do yourself a favor and start here. A secret island exists, one that harbors monsters of all kinds from zombies to vampires to werewolves, all maintained and managed by the government. The creatures are given all the blood and flesh they desire, so they live a rather peaceful, if restrained existence. New employee Addey, busy at work shoveling human body parts into the zombie pit, uncovers an escape plan on the verge of being hatched. With little training and even less time, she alone must stop this escape from happening or a terrible reign of terror will be unleashed upon the outside world! As usual, Spencer dispenses equal parts blood, guts, and gusto as well as great characters and action. This is a cannot-miss read. The Devil’s Woods by Brian Moreland (Samhain Publishing—available now) is another thrilling novel by a great writer with a unique take on the horror genre. In the Canadian forests lies a deadly patch of wilderness called The Devil’s Woods that both humans and animals avoid. Kyle Elkheart, along with his brother and sister, must search those very woods, however, to find their missing father. Soon they will learn what real terror is, and in order to survive, they’ll have to brave the dark heart of the Devil’s Woods! Moreland writes truly creepy and inspired stories, and this one aims to be no different. And now it is time to go, dear reader. The Eye tires and so does its host. Go thither and search out these treasures revealed to you now. Read! Read! Do not hesitate! Read until you can no longer keep your eyes open! And return next month to pay another visit to . . . The Scrying Eye!
Kelly M Hudson is the author of two horror novels and dozens of short stories, including a piece in the recent D.O.A. II collection by Blood Bound Books. You can find links to all of his works by visiting www.kellymhudson.com if you dare!
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feature the inside scoop
Dangerous Waters For Emily Waters, a natureloving, small-town girl with an overprotective father, heading off to Boston University to study conservation biology is a dream come true—until a chance encounter catapults her into a mythical world she’d do anything to escape. The latest victim in a rash of abductions near campus, Emily is brutally attacked before being rescued by a powerful new friend. She survives the ordeal, only to find herself held captive and presented with an impossible Dangerous Waters is the first book choice. in the Sisters in Blood series. The story While preparing for the takes you inside a coven of female unimaginable life she must now vampires, letting you get to know each embrace, clues soon emerge that of them intimately rather than just Emily may not be entirely human, focusing on the protagonist and her and her physical transformation love interests. And unlike most of the awakens goddess-like powers that books in the vampire genre, there is no her new family cannot begin to popping open a can of O- or feeding explain. on animals. People die. The challenge Dealing with her human I took on as an author is to make the first love, the not-so-platonic reader fall in love with my characters in relationship with her coven “sister,” spite of what they must do to survive. and her new vampire sort-ofThere are magical elements that boyfriend further complicates come into play, and events that unfold matters, not to mention being that none of the main characters can secretly hunted by the psychopaths explain, which is a fresh change of who attacked her. And as the only pace from the “supernatural creatures known offspring of a once alleducate the human protagonist” mold. powerful race, the climactic battle Speaking of the protagonist, Emily is just the beginning of her journey.
led a sheltered life growing up, being raised in a small, rural town with an overprotective father. She bears emotional scars from losing her mother at a young age but hides them well. She’s attending Boston University to study conservation biology, and dreams of making a difference in the fight against global warming. She was quite the tennis phenom in high school, and loves to dance, especially to up tempo techno music. Emily is extremely open-minded, and displays an almost detached objectivity 70 | btsemag.com
in her thinking. She’s the type of person who wouldn’t blame you for keying her car if she discovered that your god-awful, two timing ex drove the same model and that you’d keyed the wrong car by mistake. She gives her heart freely, is selfless to a fault, and would do anything for those that she loves. Rest assured, her love life is as messed up and complicated as fans of the genre would expect it to be, but the story is about so much more than that. At its heart Dangerous Waters is a story of self discovery, overcoming challenges, and embracing the fact that life can take us in totally unexpected directions. We all have hidden abilities inside of us that will never surface if we are too afraid to explore and try new things. C.M. Michaels has always enjoyed writing, and still has fond memories of reading his first book, a children’s novella, to local grade schools when he was fourteen. When he’s not writing, C.M. can be found curled up with a good book, watching movies or hitting the hiking trails with his wife. Some of his favorite authors include Kelley Armstrong, Richelle Mead and Laini Taylor. C.M. currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky.
reviews paranormal | suspense
Twice a Target
TASK FORCE EAGLE Protecting their country and the women they love - A Romantic Suspense Trilogy - Book 3 He doesn’t want a woman he can’t trust, and she doesn’t want a man who won’t let himself trust her. Disaster strikes DEA Agent Holt Donovan twice, when a gunfight ruins his mission and a car crash kills his brother and sister-in-law. Home on the Colorado ranch to raise his infant nephew, Holt enlists a nanny, Maddie McCoy, who once jilted his brother and is now a nomadic photographer. As they cope with old resentment and new desire, their investigation of the crash leads them into danger and a shocking discovery.
Something evil dwells in and around Sandy Creek. There have been numerous sightings of a Creature that remains a mystery in the unsuspecting town located along the Gulf Coast. Murders, attacks as well as odd mishaps all take place within the Sandy Creek area. Preston, his girlfriend Shayne, his best friend Aaron and Kimberly will encounter something beyond their wildest imaginations. Nothing could ever prepare them for what they find. The answer is within the truth, but the truth may not exactly set them free.
Susan Vaughan Romantic Suspense Heat Rating: 3
Review: Holt Donovan is forced to raise his infant nephew Bobby when his parents are killed in a car crash. He enlists the aid of Maddy McCoy who at one time was a girlfriend of his brother Robert, but jilted him at the altar. She’s a world traveler photographer now and came by to pay her respects when she found out about his brother’s death. They try to get along considering the situation and the old resentments, but they try to deal with it as best they can. Holt also has some unfinished business in his line of work as a DEA agent even tho he’s left the business to look after Bobby. It had suspense, gripping characters and even though there was a shaded past, you hoped Holt and Maddy would get past it and get together. It had some humor and just the right mix of everything. It had very likeable characters, a really slimy villain, and some interesting supporting characters. You’ll pick it p and probably won’t put it down, but it’ll be a good one you’ll enjoy.
Trina M. Ward Suspense Heat Rating: 1
Review: Sandy Creek by Trina M. Ward is one of the best e-books I have had the pleasure to read in a long time. The character development is realistic and engaging, the plot is fantastic yet believable, and the style of Ward’s writing is excellent, both smooth and colloquial. This paranormal mystery is well-researched and even the supporting characters have a dimension of reality to them that is refreshing. The reader feels along with Preston the grief he goes through at the death of his sister, and the desire to uncover the truth behind the strange events that have happened at Sandy Creek over the years, as well as his frustration in how covered-up the events at Sandy Creek have been over time. This novel’s startling conclusion, as Preston discovers the full truth of the sinister mystery behind the Sandy Creek murders, is highly satisfactory and unexpected, especially for fans of the thriller genre, emphasizing the old adage to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. | Reviewer: SharaLee Podolecki |
| Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |
February 2014 | 71
feature the inside scoop
Pride Before the Fall Feline shape shifter Vivian Blake is every bit the alpha femaleon stage and on four legs. She commands the audience with her husky voice and sexy dance moves as confidently as she leads her family. The four other members of her Pride depend on her to keep them safe. They are on the run from a sadistic Pride alpha named Trace who wants revenge after nearly dying under Vivian’s claws. To protect her family, Vivian does whatever it takes, including private dances. This way of life causes problems when Vivian moved her family into wolf territory. Kasey Blackburn is alpha of the most powerful wolf and bear mixed Pack in the country. And he’s not too happy about a group of renegade felines moving in and turning tricks in his city. But one look at Vivian and his intentions change. She’s the sexy, powerful female he craves. Too bad she’s a feline with a death sentence hanging over her head. As well, certain members of his Pack aren’t too keen on Vivian’s nighttime activities. They don’t want to see their alpha mate with a stripper. When Vivian comes into heat, the tigress within her wars with the human side. The cat wants a mate but the woman wants escape. Can Vivian resist the promise of a fresh start with Kasey or will her pride cost her everything?
Meet the Blake Pride, a group of renegade feline shape shifters who are always on the run! Vivian is the alpha female. The welfare of the Pride falls on her shoulders. She also has a husky singing voice that seduces her audience. But don’t let the sexy performance and sequins fool you, she earned her position by sinking her teeth into their last Alpha. A man might be able to pay for a lap dance, but touching brings out her tiger’s claws. Independence defines her and mating has never been an option—until now. Melissa is Vivian’s little sister and the only submissive of the group. She has the gift of keeping the four other dominant personalities steady. The shy, elegant snow leopard might submit to a dominant member of the Pride, but when she’s on stage she holds the power. She’s experienced the pull of her mate and wants her Pride members to find the same love. Tyrone is a shadow, living in the darkness among his inner demons. As a ruthless assassin, the only thing keeping him from a life of blood and death is Melissa, his mate. For her, this black leopard would move heaven and earth. His quiet strength and unexplainable abilities make him a mystery that only his 74 | btsemag.com
mate and his twin understand. Amilynn, Tyrone’s sister, is the mouth of the group. The word tactful has never been a part of her vocabulary and her moral compass has never pointed due north. Part porn star, part badass, she utilizes all her talents to earn extra cash and relieve Vivian of the financial burden she carries. This tawny leopard is the beta member of the Pride. Conall is the odd man out. He’s the only non-related member of the Pride. Vivian has his undying loyalty and he’ll protect her with everything he has. His massive size and strength are evident in human and lion form. If it has an engine, he can fix it. He keeps the Pride’s wheels in shape in case they have to bolt. Music and friendship brought them together, blood and death sealed the bond, and together they can face anything. Get to know each member of the Blake Pride, starting with Vivian in Pride Before the Fall! I’m a woman of many hats: wife, mom, author, musician, and hunter. I occasionally don my mask and cape to save the world from monsters under the bed and all things eight legged. My favorite movies and books have comedy, magic, and superhuman capabilities. I’m a sucker for a good love story which is why I write them! I love to hear from readers and spend way too much time on Facebook. Look me up!
reviews paranormal | suspense
John L. DeBoer Suspense Heat Rating: 1
When twelve-year-old Craig Fletcher is first attracted to his classmate, Laura Forsythe, he has no idea that his unrequited puppy love will develop over the next twenty years into an addiction to the seductive woman Laura becomes, a siren whose call he can’t resist. The Flame is the story of Craig’s obsession for a femme fatale, threatening to destroy his reputation, his career, and jeopardizing his very survival. Finally, at the brink of disaster, he looks into the abyss and wonders if it is not
too late to, if not save himself, then at least obtain some measure of redemption. Review: What a total (insert really nasty 4 letter word) Laura is, she has played with men’s emotions from a very young age and will stop at nothing, including murder to get her way. That is until one of those men finally bests her at her game and then Laura finally gets what’s coming to her. Craig and Susan can’t believe the coincidence upon them both being victims affected by Laura’s games finally get a chance to put the past behind them and move beyond the train wreck that Laura has caused. The Flame is a great book, there was so much that I never saw coming and the ending, oh what a great ending that leaves you guessing whether there will be another book or not. | Reviewer: Drue A. Hoffman |
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feature author interview
C.A. Szarek C.A. is originally from Ohio, but got to Texas as soon as she could. She is married and has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. She works with kids when she’s not writing. She’s always wanted to be a writer and is overjoyed to share her stories with the world.
Tell us about your latest release. Chance Collision is the second book in my steamy romantic suspense series. I love this book and this couple. Here’s a mini-blurb: Detective Pete Crane catches a new shooting case and considers it businessas-usual. But when the lead witness is the Chief of Police’s fiery assistant, he never anticipated she’d challenge him—personally and professionally. Nikki Harper has been attracted to Pete since they met two years ago. Witnessing a brutal shooting throws her into a stigma that’s always been her greatest fear: a victim. Can Pete protect his witness and solve the case, while fighting the intense heat with Nikki? How do you get past writers block or distractions like the internet? This is definitely a common thing I “battle” with. I work two jobs, about 60 hours a week. I generally write 1500-2000 words a day in the evenings, from about 6:00pm-8:00pm during the week. On the weekends, I work an overnight job and if things are calm, I can write. But...there’s always FB, and email, or a question will pop in my mind when I’m writing and I will think, “Oh, I need to Google that.” So, I try to discipline myself. When I am writing, I’m not allowed to have a browser open. AT. ALL. I write to music, I do better with “background” noise. I have to put my cell away from me; it as well is a distraction. As far as writer’s block, usually I’ll read through something of the book I wrote recently, the last few chapters. If that doesn’t help, I’ll step away. I have alot of epiphanies when I’m in the shower and sit-up-in-the-middle76 | btsemag.com
of-the-night and gasp moments. (I actually keep a notebook and pen on my headboard for these moments) I also write to myself in my head before a fall asleep—this actually helps me work out any “issues” I might have. What’s your favorite book from childhood? From young childhood is Jeremy Thatcher, the Dragon Hatcher By Bruce Coville. I LOVED this book and read it in 3rd Grade. I read it over and over, well into my teens. Then from my Young Adult reading years (I STILL read YA actually) Is the Harper Hall Trilogy which is a part of the HUGE Dragonriders of Pern Series by the late Anne McCaffrey. STILL a fave of mine as well.
Small Town Texas doesn’t always mean small time crime. Welcome to Antioch, population fifty thousand. With a police department full of detectives and officers who are good at what they do, throw in the occasional FBI agent, and the bad guy doesn’t have a shot, no matter how big the crime. They work together and fight together. Relationships will be forged and changed along the twists and turns. When fate intervenes, love and happiness can be found in unlikely places.
reviews paranormal | suspense
JoAnna Grace Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 3
Avery McClain’s life has all been a lie. The one person telling her the truth happens to be a deadly warrior from another world. Ryse Castille was charged with bringing Avery to the safety of the Haven, a realm of gods and magic. Neither one can deny the magnetic attraction between them but the gods might have other plans. Where they destined to be together or destined to spend eternity apart?
Review: When I started reading Divine Destiny I certainly wasn´t expecting the level of writing I found. It was a pleasant surprise to find the complex and well thought turns that this story took, the more I read the more I fell in love with the world the author created that may be because any book that has Greek mythology in it is great but certain aspects of this culture that the main character finds herself in were fascinating! The only reason why I´m not giving it 5 stars is because I would have liked to read a little bit more about the people that betray her at the beginning of the book, just to be able to feel the devastation she felt! Overall at the beginning I felt like it lacked a little depth but as the story progressed it got better and better and then we got to the ending which was a devastating and exiting surprise! Divine Destiny is a book filled with emotion and excitement, I can´t wait for the next one! | Reviewer: Danielle S. |
Romantic Suspense - Milwaukee Series (Book Trio) Learn about the men of Milwaukee, and the women they love. They will go to any length to protect them.
February 2014 | 77
reviews paranormal | suspense
The Serendipitous Curse: Reborn Aiden James and Lisa Collicutt Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 2
Since the Civil War, the name Solomon Brandt, has been reviled, a painful reminder to all descendants of the slaves the wicked plantation owner cruelly tortured. When a man bearing this cursed name stumbles into the heart of Savannah and its storied history, he can’t help but attract the attention of the locals in the know. A seemingly kindhearted amnesiac, he is drawn to an ancient and haunted plantation home that bears his name, as well as to a Hoodoo practitioner who converses with spirits, and her gorgeous green-eyed niece. But curses run deep, and Solomon’s crippling nightmares tell him more than he cares to know – or bear. Immersed in wickedness long ago, he has been given a second chance to set things right and redeem his feared name. Will he use the life he once took for granted to save the hearts – and lives – of the women he cherishes most? Or will the bloodthirsty Solomon of ages past reign once more, in the modern age? Review: This starts and it is so intense. There is supposedly a script rule where you have to have something major happen by page 12 for movies. And with the way people want that adrenalin trip it seems that it may be true. This book, however, starts at page one! The intensity is never crazy. It completely makes sense with what is going on around Solomon. It’s a very fun read and quite captivating. The writing is spectacular and had me on the edge of my seat for most of the book. There are a few lulls and the one downside is the instant love. Ohhh... insta love. It didn’t take away from
78 | btsemag.com
the story though, so even if you’re not an insta love fan just know that the bond between the two romantics was needed to really engage the plot. The only downside is there are not a lot of answers to the paranormal aspects of this. Why and what exactly is happening. I would have preferred a little more but I’m hoping that will come in the future books about Solomon. And talking about finding out more, this book literally just drops off at the end. It completely made sense where it stopped however and didn’t bother me too much. Other than the fact that I really want to know what’s going to happen next! | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |
Wicked Intentions JoAnne Myers Mystery Heat Rating: 2
An collection of stories including: BLOOD TIES, THE HAUNTING OF BARB MARIE, SUMMER WIND, THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIES, THE LEGEND OF LAKE MANOR, THE APARTMENT, and DARK VISIONS. Review: While the premise of each story in this anthology is solid, finishing strong with ‘The Truth Behind the Lies’ (my personal favourite of the lot), I found the relationships in every story to develop much too fast and far too unrealistically, to the extent that it took away from the believability of the story itself. The best example of the difficult and unrealistic relationship timelines throughout the anthology can be found in ‘Dark Visions’, in which the protagonist, Carrie Reynolds, meets her love interest, Officer Mark Ety, in the morning. By the end of the day,
reviews paranormal | suspense
he has met her mother, decided she is his soulmate, that he will propose to her by their next date, and they have made love. The very next day, he proposes over the phone while she’s driving, which she accepts. Her mother is upset not because her daughter is engaged to someone she literally just met, but because after their recent fight, Carrie did not invite her to spend the two hours it took to decide on a wedding gown. The storyline itself, the mysterious disappearance of Carrie’s father at age 26 and her visions concerning the event, is lost in the details of her speedy relationship with Mark, and the entire mystery is resolved within the same 2-day time span, without allowing the reader to fully grasp what the mystery is about in the first place. ‘The Truth Behind the Lies’, a tale of sibling rivalry gone horribly wrong, is the final and best story in this anthology, with depth and maturity to the characters, a well-developed plot and a reasonable timeline for investigation, relationship progress and the climax of the story. I only gave this anthology 2 stars out of 5, because while 6 of the 7 short stories are equal in mediocrity, the 7th is actually very well done, and the reader knows that Myers is capable of so much more in each story than what is actually presented in 85% of the anthology. | Reviewer: SharaLee Podolecki |
February 2014 | 79
SCI FI & FANTASY
OUT of this WORLD
REVIEWS and more
February 2014 | 81
feature sneak peek
My Lady Quicksilver He will find her no matter what. As a blue-blooded captain of the Nighthawk Guard, Sir Jasper Lynch’s senses are keener than most. Some think he’s indestructible. But once he finds the elusive Mercury, what will he do with her? It’s his duty to turn her in— she’s a notorious spy and traitor. But after one stolen moment, he can’t forget the feel of her in his arms, the taste of her, or the sharp sting of betrayal as she slipped off into the night. Little does Mercury know, no one hunts better than the Nighthawk. And his greatest revenge will be to leave her begging for his touch…
Clever girl. Lynch’s eyes narrowed. He’d fallen for her ruse like a green schoolboy and the thought rankled. She was out there somewhere, no doubt laughing behind his back. The worst of it was that his men had found him before he’d recovered, lying on his back still partially paralyzed. Garrett had covered for him, sending them after the fleeing revolutionary, but they’d seen enough. “I’m still not quite sure how she gulled you. You’re no pigeon, ripe to be plucked.” Though Garrett’s manner of speech was so precise as to mimic the Echelon, sometimes his base roots showed in his language choice. “That makes two of us.” Lynch’s voice was hard and dry. A warning for Garrett to drop the subject. The encounter frustrated him. Sex and the female form were distractions he’d long since thought himself invulnerable to. That she’d gotten under his skin so quickly and easily chafed at him. Sex was just another need, another form of hunger, and he thought he’d controlled those needs well. He strictly controlled the amount of blood his body required and bedded a woman when he felt the urge arise. Not once had either need ever overruled him. Until now. And all it had taken was that little whisper of sin in his ear, her knuckles stroking down over the leather carapace of his abdomen. He’d barely seen her face, just her lips beneath the edge of the mask as she tempted him with her offer. Damn her. Even now his body stirred and he knew why. A body was never enough. He’d seen and slept with some of the most beautiful women the Echelon had to offer and rarely remembered their names. But this one haunted him. A mystery. A challenge. A part of him hungered for 82 | btsemag.com
the next encounter, longing to take it further. This time he’d have the upper hand and he intended to make full use of it, to pay back every ounce of humiliation on her flesh and leave her gasping for more. He couldn’t wait. Closing his eyes, Lynch forced his body to cool. The thoughts were madness—the hunger speaking, his own personal demons. He was the Nighthawk, damn it, and when he got his hands on her, he’d arrest her and hand her over to the Council. Case solved. Award winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Victoria, Australia, and grew up with her nose in a book. Following a lifelong love affair with fantasy, she discovered romance and hasn’t looked back. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and adventurous steampunk romances. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. Her London Steampunk series is available from Sourcebooks, with Heart of Iron (Book Two) being nominated for both Best Steampunk Romance by RT Reviews 2013 and Best Romance 2013 by Library Journal. Visit her website at www.becmcmaster.com or follow her on twitter @BecMcMaster.
YOUNG & NEW ADULT
BEYOND the fairy TALE
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February 2014 | 85
reading trends in young adult
Forever Young Kellyann Zuzulo
When Sassy Turns Trashy in Young Adult Fiction Young Adult (YA) fiction has grown faster than a teen when the hormones kick in. The reading public can’t seem to get enough stories about high school adventures, teen relationships, post-apocalyptic angst, and beautiful creatures struggling for a driver’s license. And if you’re writing or reading about teens in today’s world, you should expect some sassy language. The question is: What is so sassy that it becomes profane?
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| Forever Young |
Let’s keep in mind that YA caters to teenagers. The age range is loosely figured at thirteen years old to eighteen years old. Younger than that, the book is Middle Grade lit; older than that, it becomes New Adult lit for eighteen- to twenty-five-year-olds; and beyond that, it’s just lit. Within YA literature, there are many genres. You have your paranormal romance, like Twilight and Mortal Instruments; contemporary fiction, like The Fault in Our Stars; historical fiction, like The Book Thief; and postapocalyptic adventure, like Independent Study. No matter what the genre is, there’s an expectation that there will be some level of “bad” language in a book about and aimed at teens, even if it’s just name calling. A YA book that isn’t specifically religiously based will be unrealistic if there is absolutely no swearing. At the same time, an author who writes a character who basically burps expletives will appear to be trying too hard. The setting certainly influences how much swearing you’ll find in the book, i.e., the grittier the scene the coarser the language. And since we’re generally talking about first- and thirdperson narratives in YA, a believable character has to speak in a believable way. So, it’s likely that if you open a YA book, you will come across a character with a potty mouth. Let’s face it, kids today swear. But, more realistically, they are exposed to a society that swears. According to a 2012 study by Brigham Young University Professor Sarah Coyne, teen novels contain “38 instances of profanity” or “seven instances of profanity per hour spent reading.” That’s an average. Coyne looked at forty YA books and found that thirty-five of them contained at least one instance of profanity (insignificant, really) while one book contained nearly 500 instances. It would seem that the average isn’t really average, after all. And what is not clear is what Coyne defines as profanity. (Coyne’s study was published in Mass Communication and Society.) Swearing is obvious on the page in a way that it’s not when you hear it. So, even if the story is about a dysfunctional seventeen-year-old growing up in the inner city, every F-bomb will reverberate. And if the tale is about an insecure suburban sixteen-year-old, it could be downright distasteful. Heavy profanity is still reserved for “adult” literature . . . and that doesn’t mean pornography. It just means books that a teenager will associate with the kind mom reads on the beach or on the train or that dad reads on a coffee break. Coyne makes the point, “Unlike almost every other type of media, there are no content warnings or any indication
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| Kellyann Zuzulo |
if there are extremely high levels of profanity in adolescent novels.” She adds that “parents should talk with their children about the books they are reading.” An author has an obligation to use profane speech appropriately. Not in the interest of censorship, but in the interest of maintaining the integrity of language. That’s what an author is, in a sense: an expert in language. It takes skill not to offend the reader, while maintaining the voice of the character. Talking trash doesn’t mean trashy talk. Yes, there are characters who are gangsta rappers or graduates from juvie. But if the language destroys the literature, you ain’t got no story. This is the fine line between sassy and trashy. The onus is on the author to keep the dialogue lively without drifting into distracting streams of expletives. Two damns and a shit in a scene can be damn fine, if they don’t jump out as being gratuitous. A few swear words can contribute to one hell of a story. What a reader doesn’t want to happen is to be so distracted by unoriginal yet forceful language that the story is overshadowed . . . yes, especially in young adult. And, again, especially in YA, there are those words that are best left out or left to accomplished authors who can use odious language in a way that enhances the story. There are beautifully powerful stories that may include racial slurs and derogatory names for genitalia. But they are powerful because— in the right hands—using that language effectively depicts the brutality of hearing it. You may wince at that point in the story, but hopefully it’s because you are so absorbed you feel as though it’s a personal affront . . . not an inept attempt at shock value. When it’s well done, the young reader will also recognize that it’s not the type of language that forms a better person, much less a better society. If the cringe factor in reading the language makes you lose the vibe of the story, it’s trashy. But if you get a better sense of who some characters are because they cuss, then it’s sassy. And that’s okay.
Kellyann Zuzulo is an editor and author. She doesn’t mind some swearing, as long as it’s not coming out of her kids’ mouths. Her novel, The Genie Ignites, was a finalist in the 2013 Abalone Awards, which recognizes “Outstanding Ethno-Cultural Romance.” The Genie Smolders is the second book in that series and was published in July 2013. Her novels, as well as her 101 Nights serial, are published by Boroughs Publishing Group. An anthology to which she contributed was selected by Joyfully Reviewed as one of the best of 2011. Kellyann is a member of International Thriller Writers, Backspace Writers Group, and Romance Writers of America. She lives on the East Coast with her husband, three children, and two terriers. Visit her at http://kfzuzulo.com.
February 2014 | 89
reviews young adult | new adult
Made of Stars Kelley York Young Adult Heat Rating: 1
Even the stars are lies... When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister,Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely. The reason they’ve never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance’s quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness— are now warning signs that something is seriously off. Then someone turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his family. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent…they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?
Chance answers obscurely regarding where he lives, who is parents are, why it’s okay for him to be left alone, etc. Hunter and Ashlin accept this until their old enough to find where Chance lives and meet his parents on their own. After meeting Chance’s parents, the siblings question how someone as charismatic as Chance could’ve been produced by parents so vile and disinterested in their son. In honesty, Chance lives in a rundown trailer with a chain smoking mom, and crude father who have no genuine feelings for him. Chance shines. His character was oppressed by abusive parents and yet his dreams were never crushed under their heavy fists. Made of Stars reaches a terrifying conclusion that packs an emotional punch in the most profound way. Every now and then a novel will creep up around your heart and stay there, leaving its mark. Made of Stars is a star shining out bright, a rare literary gem among other YA novels. | Reviewed by: Sasha Hibbs |
Review: Made of Stars is a heart-wrenching, coming of age story. The story begins with Hunter, Ashlin, and Chance. Hunter and Ashlin are siblings who return to their father’s home every summer to be whisked away by their friend, Chance. The novel’s mainly from the switching viewpoints of Hunter and Ashlin, but focuses on Chance. Made of Stars is his story and how his free spirit weaves in and around both siblings growing up. Chance shows up from nowhere throughout the novel and the siblings usually don’t question this. When they do,
January 2014 | 91
reviews young adult | new adult
To The Stars
Suzanne M. Hurley Young Adult Heat Rating: 1
Devastated by the death of her father and being bullied at her new school, fourteenyear-old Niki Oâ€™Malley climbs up to the highest branch of her olive tree in an effort to hide away from the world. Next thing she knows, sheâ€™s staring into the window of crying classmate Julie Oliveri. What is even more shocking is that Niki now has red hair and green eyes, very different from her normal black hair and blue eyes. What is going on? Is this all a dream? Magic? Coincidence? As Niki grows stronger and courageous, she discovers that her father lives forever in her heart and she never really did lose him. She also learns the meaning of true friendships and even falls in love for the very first time. Most of all, she understands the important lesson that when you love someone, you need to let them know, before it is too late. Review: The pain created by the loss of a loved one can be enduring, but the profound love once shared is eternal. Told from the perspective of young Niki, To The Stars is a story about love, loss, and how one begins to and then finally moves on. The magical element to this novel is Olive, an actual olive tree, which Niki talks to and treats as though Olive were a real person. Niki frequently climbs up into her branches where she grieves and laments over the pains of loss and the cruelties Niki is subjected to at school. The healing begins when Olive presents Niki with scenarios she has had to deal with in the past. Almost
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in an alter ego way, Niki transforms into Meghan Mango where she puts her own hurt to the side to help others who are currently dealing with loss and bullying in the same fashion Niki has had to endure on her own. The bullying aspect in this novel is very real, and the way in which the author presented this problem throughout the novel was intense. Bullying has always been an issue, but with social media today, bullying is an ever increasing problem. To The Stars showed that social media empowers cowards and that being on the receiving end and finally taking a stand for yourself and others puts our youth on the way to recovery and a sense of self-worth. To The Stars portrayed all that is beautiful in the voyage of losing, coping, accepting, and persevering in spite of grief that is so overwhelming it can easily cripple oneâ€™s spirit. This message was written loud and clear, could be heard beyond the grave, and certainly left its profound mark. Heart-wrenchingly triumphant! | Reviewed by: Sasha Hibbs |
Charity auction to help our staff member Babs Hightower help save her much loved pet Winter January 21, 2014 we found out Winter has Cancer. A knot on the side of his front leg has grown in just a few months from nothing to egg sized and now apple sized. He goes in for a biopsy on the 30th to see how long he has and what can be done. We started doing research after our vet filled us in on the cost of treatment. This will be a long road but we are not going to let our puppy down. He takes care of us and especially my husband with his Cancer and we are going to take care of Winter no matter what. Winter came to us along with another Dog we adopted during a time in our lives when we lost a couple of children due to premature birth. He was our child and helped our mind mentally. Years later he helped us welcome our adopted children into our lives. Winter is and always will be like a son to us. Those whom say a dog is just a dog have never truly loved one like us. He truly made us whole. It’s for these reasons we must do all we can to help him. You would not turn your back on a child and we will leave no stone unturned in helping him. With your help it makes things easier. The estimated cost of treatment is around $7000 – $8000 dollars. We have already expended money for the initial tests which are now over $1000. With another round of testing on 1/30/14. Any and all donations will be used to pay for his treatment. We know there are a lot of fake people in the world and we for one want to make sure people know we used the money for what we said we did. So we intend to post redacted copies of our medical receipts showing the money indeed spent on his Visit Facebook medical care. I know it’s not absolutely necessary, but I want folks to know its real and also how much it costs to find out how for a pet’s cancer treatment. Granted cancer treatment varies by the individual pet. If we succeed you can help in our funding and circumstances dictate not all the money will be used, then save Winter we intend to share any excess money beyond Winters medical bills with other gofundme users looking for help with pet care. We are having an auction held on Facebook on Feb 8th and another one is tentative for later in the month as well. The auction is to help raise money for Winter’s treatment. The auction will have art, art supplies, crafts, craft supplies, handmade crafts, jewelry, ebooks, signed books by authors, paintings, and so much more. Please come out and join us. The auction will be held all day so you have plenty of time to come.
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February 2014 | 95
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Published on Feb 1, 2014
Your Guide to Great Reading - Featuring New York Times Bestselling author Jasinda Wilder, plus columns, book reviews, featured authors, and...