BTS Book Reviews

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on the cover

on the cover

Danielle Devon delivers the first installment of a near-future adventure as John and the others struggle to survive in a post-pandemic world. The secrets they keep could be humanity’s salvation‌or it’s ultimate demise.


contents September/October 2015

37 BTS Goes Hollywood Kelly hughes

43 Ali B. and the Forty Spaceships


63 Chic Trends in Romance


79 The Hot Hunks of History


109 The Scrying Eye

features 57 Claire C. Riley 60 L. Marshall James 73 Rhea Woodruff 92 Ruth Kaufman

103 Nikki Jefford 117 Nancy J. Cohen 118 T.A. Kunz 134 Cassandre Dayne


121 The Heat Diva


special 95 ARC 2015 Nola Wrap Up Babs hightower

stories 29


101 plus

on the website Blogging 101 with Babs Hightower Karen’s Writing Detours with Karen Albright Lin Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


BTS Book Reviews


Your Guide to Great Reading

Executive Coordinator Myra Nour Promotions Director Babs Hightower

Executive Designer Cyrene Olson

Assistant Designer Laura Marie Mills Promotions Assistant Melanie Bingle Marsh Char Chaffin Executive Assistant Babs Hightower Consultant Dawn Seewer Marketing Director Kayla Lords Newsletter Editor Danielle Devon Editor Sheri Kraft Associate Editor Kellyann Zuzulo Author Liaison Melanie Bingle Marsh Yahoo Promotions/ Ad Coordinator Simon Nour Triberr Team Amber Easton Keta Diablo Barbara Bradley

Review Coordinator Babs Hightower


Review Assistant Savannah Verte Reviewers Babs Hightower Sasha Hibbs Cassandra Graham Nathifa Swan Nelle Nazario Melissa Baker Melanie Bingle Marsh Olga Núñez Miret Heather Lewis Susan Frances Ashley Kemp Nila Lynn Susan C.


No material in this magazine can be used or copied without BTS or the author’s permission. © Copyright 2015. 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.


BTS Team Bloggers Nelle of Nelle’s Nightstand Melanie Bingle Marsh of Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Hollywood Interviewer Danita Minnis Columnists Karen Albright Lin Alex Bardy Sandra Bunino Christy English Kayla Lords Babs Hightower Kelly Hudson Kellyann Zuzulo

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


From the Desk of

Myra Nour BTS CEO

What a whirlwind last month was for BTS. The ARC/BTS convention in New Orleans was fun. We met lots of wonderful authors and readers. BTS staff attending were me, Simon, Babs Hightower and Savannah Verte.

Dawn has been a fantastic head designer for the magazine the past several years. I appreciate her loyalty, gorgeous covers, ads, and dedication to BTS.

The Red Carpet Awards ceremony was a blast. The event was full capacity, with many beautifully gowned ladies and spiffy dressed gents. The winners were thrilled with the ceremony and their gorgeous trophies.

We’d like to welcome Danielle Devon as our new newsletter Editor.

Winners were escorted down a 30’ red carpet by model Ani Saliasi, who was charming and a gentleman. Lots of photos have been posted on the website of the con and the awards. Executive Designer Cyrene Olson is taking over this issue as Executive Designer. Dawn Seewer will be stepping down from this position; she has a lot on her plate. But she is not gone and will be staying on in a Consultant position.

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Newsletter Editor

Team Reviewers We’d like to welcome Nelle Nazario as our newest Team Reviewer. See her reviews in the historical section. 2016 Red Carpet Customer Awards are open! The 2015 Customer awards closed Aug 31st. 2016 is open.


| Ind

News Yo

World Castle Publishing World Castle Publishing has released a new imprint. It’s Intimate Pleasures Romance Publishing. We’ve started this imprint to satisfy a new niche in Kindle. We’re targeting short story romance in a series and we’re actively seeking submissions for all types of romance. Our submission guidelines can be found here html

SoulMate Publishing

Debby Gilbert and Char Chaffin are attending the online RWA/ Australia Claytons, which is the online/outreach offshoot of RWA Australia’s annual conference. They are each holding a workshop during the online conference which takes place Aug. 20-Aug. 23. Submission guidelines We are actively seeking authors who can tell an exciting story and aren’t afraid to venture into new territory. We encourage novels that are original and blur the genre lines. Remember, blending of genres is allowed and encouraged. Varying levels of sensuality are welcome, however all stories should have an upbeat ending. (NO depraved or illegal acts, bestiality, or pedophilia.)

Decadent Publishing Decadent has gone to a link-only site and are hoping to start the Wiccan Haus series soon. Also check out Decadent’s Beyond Fairytales line where Magic and Mayhem await in these sexy twisted tales. Decadent Publishing. Indulge your book fetish.

Evernight Publishing Find your next smart and sexy book at Evernight Publishing, a premier publisher of Romance, Erotic Romance and Urban Fantasy. With new titles releasing daily, readers will find a large selection of contemporary, paranormal, gay, interracial, historical, sweet romance, ménage and everything in between. Our best selling exclusive series, PLANET ALPHA, is heating up eReaders everywhere with sexy sci-fi that’s out of this world! The cold of space has never been hotter! Look for Bad Alpha and Bad Alpha: Manlove Edition Anthologies this summer! Young Adult fans will love our fresh, real and raw teen fiction line at Evernight Teen. Summer Crush will be available this summer. Don’t miss this collection of summer romance stories written by today’s hottest Young Adult authors.

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dustry Insider |

ou Can Use

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

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


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| Industry

2015 - 2016 Co Colorado Gold Writers Conference Sept. 11-13, 2015 – Hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. http://www. Florida Heritage Book Festival & Writers’ Conference Sept. 24-26, 2015 – St. Augustine, Florida Southern California Writers’ Conference Sept. 25-27, 2015 – A Weekend for Words, Newport Beach, Calif. http:// Chicago Writers Conference Sep. 25-27, 2015 - University Center, Chicago, Ill. Indie Romance Convention (IRC) October 1st-3rd 2015 Lebanon, TN The Southern Festival of Books October 9-11, 2015 - Nashville TN. programs/southern-festival-bookscelebration-written-word

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Insider |

onventions The La Jolla Writers Conference Nov. 6-8, 2015 – Paradise Point Resort and Spa, San Diego, CA Miami Book Fair International Nov. 15-22, 2015 - Miami, Florida The Novel Experience Event April 7th-11th 2016 • Sheraton Atlanta Hotel Atlanta, Georgia

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |



Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


Danielle Devon delivers the first installment of a near-future adventure as John and the others struggle to survive in a post-pandemic world. The secrets they keep could be humanity’s salvation…or it’s ultimate demise.

Death Follows: Exile Ten years after the sickness turned dead men into living corpses, John Marshall found himself exiled from Haven. Beyond the walls of the sanctuary, John and the others struggle to survive in a world gone mad with hunger. But it’s not just the dead who hunt them, now Haven wants the girl. Can John and the others hold on to their humanity long enough to protect her, or will death continue to follow?

Find out more at 24 |

A Sneak Peak: Prologue This was the place where people gave their lives. She knew this the moment they strapped her to the table. This was the place where people gave their lives. She knew this the moment they strapped her to the table. Above her a florescent light hummed. The battered paneling of steel surrounded her. Machines buzzing, saline dripping, this was her youth, what was left of it. She no longer waited and hoped for freedom. It was clear now that no one was coming. But then, who would come? He had already betrayed her. They tried to sedate her but the drugs wouldn’t claim her. She endured the torture, every prick of the needle, every slice of her flesh, with excruciating pain. Her body lay battered and bruised, sliced open and stitched back together, all the while her sharp mind plotted. “How is our patient today?” The dark haired nurse handed him the clipboard. “Still holding strong, it’s quite amazing.” The Doctor glanced at the chart. “Quite.” He ran his hands up the length of her arm, his fingertips cold and calloused as they trailed along her skin. She wanted to shirk away from his touch, from the fingers that poked and prodded, but she knew better. If she fought they would only tighten her restraints. Then the days she had spent working to loosen them, inch by maddening inch, would be for nothing. The girl stared blankly at the ceiling, yet from the corner of her eye, she watched every movement. She had memorized the ritual in the weeks she had been strapped to the table. Like a choreographed dance, the Doctor would move religiously through his tasks. She knew her moment was approaching; soon they would be alone, the way he preferred it. Just the two of them, the girl helpless beneath the slice of the blade. She stared into the light,

fighting the urge to close her eyes. He wouldn’t have let her. He wanted her awake, wanted to see her pain. But this time…this time, she would make him feel her pain. “We’ll run another sequence. We’re getting closer, I can feel it.” Yes, you’ll feel it. “Very well.” The nurse went to work setting out his tools on the metal tray. “Any response in the test subject?” “No Doctor, not today.” From the corner of her eye, she saw him nod. His constant failure never etched frustration across his face. If anything, it pleased him, more time with her to inflict his experiments. To revel in her pain. “Leave us.” The girl heard the click of the door, the shush as it opened. Heard it fall back into place, leaving them alone. Just her and the Doctor now, just as he wanted. He slipped on his glove, the snap of latex echoing through the sterile room. Soundlessly, the girl worked her hand against the restraint, inch by inch, slipping it through the cuff that bound her. “I have hope,” he said as he readied his tools, arranging them by size and shape as always. “That today is our day, little one.” Beside her, her free hand lay, still and hidden, waiting. He turned, opening a cabinet to retrieve the bottle of alcohol he would use to prepare the injection site. The girl sat up slowly, silently lifting a surgical knife from the tray. The Doctor turned, bottle in hand, and met her feral gaze. “Well now, what have we here?” A rattling noise rumbled from deep inside her. She lunged for him, the movement quick, and the sweep of the blade precise as she jabbed it into his throat. He coughed and sputtered, tried to scream but the blade lay lodged in his throat, blood spewing down his neck. He dropped the open bottle, alcohol splashing across the floor, the stringent scent stinging her nose. He clawed for his throat, his fingers grasping for the knife. She swept her legs around, her feet landing Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


solidly against his throat. Buried the knife deeper, breaking his hand. He stumbled backward and the girl reached for another scalpel. Sliced the leather band that held her left hand. She lurched from the bed, threw her weight against him, sent him tumbling to the floor. She climbed atop of him, legs straddling his midsection as she drew the blade up, the sharp tip hovering dangerously above him. She stared down into his wide eyes, enjoyed the terror, the confusion, the pain swimming in them. Yes, today he would feel her pain. She slipped the knife under his shirt, carefully sliced the fabric in two, exposing the grey hairs that fanned across his chest. He kicked helplessly, his pulse dipping, his fingers clawing weakly at her. But he was a rag doll beneath her and she could have her way. But she couldn’t do it. As much as wanted to make him suffer, she couldn’t give in. She hated the weakness in herself, hated him because he hadn’t broke her. Sliced, poked, prodded…yes, but no matter what he did, her resolve never wavered. It would have been easier, if she’d just broken, but it hadn’t happened that way. She drove the knife into his chest, breaking bone with the force of her fury. “Yes,” she whispered, “Today is going to be our day.” Chapter One

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“Marshall.” The sound of his name drew John from his fuzzy-headed slumber. The door to his cell swung open, casting a wash of light to slash across his room. “You got a visitor.” He could scarcely make out the dark figure against the light. Long hair falling over slim shoulders, an hourglass cut at the waist. Was he dreaming? He heard her speak his name, a heavenly sound that haunted his dreams. “John?” “Five minutes.” The door slammed shut behind her ghostly figure. “Susan…” He reached out for her, but she took a step away. Was he dreaming? All this time, all these years he had seen her night after night in his dreams. She looked so different now, thin and haunted, a shell of the woman he had left behind. Her arms were crossed over her chest. Her thin coat pulled tight. She was cold and distant, as if more than a chill and a few years separated them. “You’re leaving, John.” Was this real? “Where am I going?” “Beyond the wall.” “How are you? How’s JJ?” He wanted to touch her. To take her into his arms and hold her close and smell her hair. He missed that smell. Honeysuckle. She always smelled of honeysuckle. Honeysuckle and oranges. They haunted his dreams. “JJ is fine. He’s working the power grids now.” John took a step toward her; he needed to touch her. Needed to feel her. To know that she was real. “And you, what about you?” Another careless step and still she held. She swallowed then coughed, the heavy air struggling through her

lungs. “They don’t filter the air down here?” Slowly, he closed the distance between them. Susan hugged her arms tighter to her chest but she didn’t move away. Mere inches between them…but so much distance. Distance like a cavern. A bottomless pit. An empty void. A heartbreak. A hurt. Distance unending. “Did you hear me, John?” He reached out, touched her cheek. She flinched. He trailed his fingers down the line of her jaw, her skin soft and warm beneath his calloused fingertips. Soft and warm and very real. “Susan.” “They’re sending you away.” He watched her lips move. They parted, breath slipping in, breath slipping out. His lungs burned, not from the tainted air but with the heavy need that suffocated him. His fingers trailed along her lips. Soft. Wet. Real. He needed her. He loved her. He wrapped his hand around the back of her neck and pulled her to him. He kissed her, lips meeting lips. For a moment, one glorious moment, the dark and damp world faded away. She jerked away. Touched a trembling hand to her lips. “Don’t.” “You’re my wife.” The aching in his voice, the desperate need for the life that he was slowly forgetting, made his throat raw. He needed to remember. Needed her to remind him. “Not anymore.” “Susan.” “You let them take her.” “I tried to stop it.” Susan headed for the door, knocked lightly on it. She turned back to him. “I needed you to know…” She swallowed back the tears. “What we had is dead. Everything is dead.” The door swung open. His wife stepped through. It closed, sealing him inside. John ran to the door. He beat his fists against it, kicked the metal, rammed his shoulder again and again against the rusted steel. “Susan!” His fist burned with each thump, the skin breaking open under the onslaught. “Susan!” Blood ran down his arms, dripped to the floor. “Susan!” He wailed, screamed, and slammed himself again and again against the door until he finally collapsed to the floor. He lay there, blood running down his arms, breath pumping furiously through his chest. “Susan.” He closed his eyes and found them waiting for him there in his memories. Honeysuckle and oranges…

BUY IT NOW! Get the latest news, hottest releases, great giveaways, exclusive sneak peeks and free reads straight to your mailbox every week! Join Danielle Devon’s Escape the Ordinary newsletter where you’ll find the story never ends...


Find out more at Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| Entrenched | Flitting from human to human, entrenched demons romance the life-force from their victims in order to survive. But falling in love sets one demon free and on a very different path. Helene Johansen sighed. If she had a soul, the decision would be simple. Marc would live. End of story. However, an entrenched demon had no soul. And yet, she vacillated about her lover’s demise. Could an entrenched demon actually develop a soul? She blew out a long breath. Completely absurd. She’d been around too many years and possessed far too many humans to have developed any inkling of a soul. She no longer remembered the name of her first possession, the man who unknowingly provided her with a corporal existence. And before him? Helene had long since forgotten her years as a nameless, faceless, genderless entity. Yet during the past few decades—a blink of an eye that had dragged on for eons—she’d grown bored with each new possession. The excitement in seeing the world through the eyes of a different person had waned. The passion in gaining a new skill or talent had fizzled. Now she possessed a body for only a few years. Perhaps there was nothing exciting left for her to learn. Perhaps, like a virus, she had simply run her course. The decision could not wait. Marc was at the apex, the crucial point in their relationship when he would fall in love with her. Only then could she use his life-force to propel her to the next possession. Problem was . . . she actually liked Marc. He was unique. Smart, funny, and generous. Ambitious yet kind. He saw beauty in rocks, in equations, in bicycles, and in her. A graduate student in geology, he raced mountain bikes as a hobby, and Helene always worried when he raced; the impulse to protect him twisted her insides like an unwanted directive. Foolish. His love was nothing more than the catalyst to her next possession. She closed her eyes, picturing his rugged face, and her skin tingled from the remembrance of his touch. Oh, he was much more than a mere catalyst. The sound of stomping combat boots in the hallway ruined Helene’s reverie, and she braced for a confrontation. Her roommate had seen them together at the campus bar. “Are you insane?” Jeanette screeched. “You can’t date a demon hunter!” Turning around, Helene raised her eyebrows. “Why not?” Showing the typical fatigue of an unfed demon, Jeanette ran shaky hands through her spiked burgundy hair. “Come on. You can’t run the risk. You’re playing a dangerous game, chica. Play with fire and you will get burned.” “I’ve been careful.” “Yeah? How do you plan on getting him to fall for you without him knowing?” “Lie even more than I usually do.” Helene smiled, pondering her roommate’s words. “Yes, a dangerous game. I’ve never romanced a demon hunter before.” A delightful shiver coursed through her. “The added element of danger is in itself quite exciting.” Jeanette yanked the drapes closed on the living 30 |

room window, blocking out the late afternoon sun. “And what if he already knows what you are?” Helene’s eyes widened. She hadn’t considered the pssibility Marc was playing her. “He’d have to be one hell of an amazing actor.” Squaring her shoulders, she shook her head. “No, he doesn’t know what I am. I simply need to figure out his hunting methods. Once I do, I can avoid whatever traps he sets. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.” “But I do worry about you. We’ve been together a long time.” “Centuries,” Helene agreed. Her roommate plopped down onto the couch, a pout on her thin lips. “So how about you dump him and find a different lover?” “No. I’ve invested time in him. And I like him. When I’m with him, I feel more alive than I ever have before.” “What a crock.” Jeanette rolled her eyes. “Like you know how to feel alive?” Helene laughed, and a rush of emotion nearly lifted her from the ground. “I think I do now.” “Yo, it’s getting deep in here.” Her roommate chuckled, but then her expression darkened. “What if he traps me and sends me to the core? I can’t handle that again.” “He doesn’t know about you.” Helene headed into the kitchen and returned with a bottle of wine. “Anyway, being sent to the core isn’t the end of the world for you. With the next earthquake, you can snake your way out. You’re a very resourceful demon.” Jeanette gave Helene a hard stare. “True, but I’d rather not take the chance. I don’t want to be stuck slaving for the overlords for the rest of eternity.” “God forbid.” Both demons laughed. With a worried expression, Jeanette eyed the picnic basket on the kitchen counter. “You’re spending more time with this lover than usual.” “Are you trying to tell me you miss me?” Helene teased. “Hmm, he is only a lover, right?” Helene tilted her head, the answer halting on her lips. “Oh, come on. Really? You like this guy? What if he’s more than a hunter? Have you thought about that? What if he’s a destroyer?” “I’m an entrenched demon.” Helene shrugged. “He can neither destroy me nor send me to the core to rot among the common demons.” “Yeah, you’re definitely entrenched,” the other woman grumbled, crossing her arms. Ignoring the jibe, Helene walked into her bedroom and stared out the window at the city street below. Mindless drones rushing to and from their jobs. For what? So they could get up the next day and do it all over again? More than merely bored, she was tired. Tired of the grind. Every possession had been unmemorable, as formulaic as a recipe, all blending together to the point she could no longer remember individual lives, like a serial killer who’d killed so often he couldn’t remember the faces, the names, or the places where he’d buried the bodies. Forever entrenched in an eternal existence of monotonous mortality. Perhaps the only solution was to give in to her feelings and fall in love, the only way to destroy an entrenched demon. Would her destruction be worth ending her curse? Forever destined to flit from human to human like a hungry

| Kira Shayde | hummingbird searching for true nectar but finding only sugar water. And suicide would save rather than end Marc’s life. She rolled her neck, easing the tense muscles, but couldn’t ease her mind. Damn it. When did she begin to care? *** Lying in Marc’s arms, listening to his slow and steady heartbeat, Helene had no desire to be anywhere else until she remembered it couldn’t last. She brushed the wisps of hair away from his sleepy face. So innocent. They always were, but that never bothered her before. Restless, she sat up and gazed at her lover through a mist of tears. Slowly, so as not to wake him, she swung her legs over the side of his bed. Yet he stirred and reached for her. “Don’t go,” he murmured, cuddling closer. She leaned over and kissed his forehead. “It’s beautiful outside. Let’s go to the beach.”

“That sounds like a great idea.” He drew her back into his arms and nuzzled her neck. She smiled. “Hey you, we won’t get to the beach by sleeping in all day.” “Who said anything about sleeping?” “Bad boy,” she chided, wiggling from his grasp, although her heart told her to stay in his warmth. With a final push of willpower, she scooted off the bed and dressed. “Find your swimsuit. Let’s go for a swim in the lake. August is the only month the water isn’t too cold.” He stretched like a cat, a lidded look of satisfaction on his face. Standing in the bedroom doorway, she eyed her still recumbent man. “Come on, get going. I have to stop at my apartment first, but I promise you this. After a relaxing day in the sun, I will cook you a gourmet dinner. Well, maybe an ordinary dinner, but I will cook.” Marc laughed and finally tossed off the covers. “Such a deal.” On the drive to the beach, he cranked the radio. “This song reminds me of you.” He grinned and sang

along with Cliff Richard to “Devil Woman.” A chill snaked through her. Just a joke? No, he couldn’t . . . Damn. Did he know what she was? She turned down the radio volume and cast him a tentative glance. “Marc?” “Yes, I know.” His tone sobered. “And I don’t care.” “How long have you known?” she whispered, her fingernails digging into her palms. “Since I met you in Professor Baker’s class.” She stared, unblinking, at the road in front of them. The traffic whizzing by barely registered. “Why haven’t you tried to trap me?” He shrugged. “Because I don’t want to trap you. I enjoy being with you.” “You enjoy being with me,” she repeated. She shook her head, forcing a restart of her stunned brain. “But your job is to hunt and trap demons.” “I am not my job, Helene. And you are not the type of demon I hunt.” “I-I don’t understand.” Marc reached over to hold her hand. “I admit, at first, I wanted to hang out with you just to study you. You’re not a typical demon. This isn’t your original body, is it?” She took a deep breath before answering. “No.” “Doesn’t matter. I was just curious.” He veered the car around a corner. “Anyway, the more I got to know you, the more I realized I liked you. A lot. You’re confident and thoughtful. Kind of crazy, but in a good way. You have a unique perspective of the world.” He peered at her and winked. “And you’re killer in bed.” Was he about to say he loved her? For a moment, Helene basked in the familiar thrill of the imminent juncture. Then her breath hitched, and a lump formed in her throat. No. This was wrong. She had to walk away from him and end the relationship. Save his life. Naturally, it would take time to find another lover and suffer through the tedious motions of courtship while waiting for the new catch to become enamored with her. But her boredom with being Helene Johansen did not outweigh ending Marc’s life. For the first time in her selfish, wicked existence, she understood the meaning of sacrifice, and a sense of peace she’d never before experienced surged through her. As if the heavens above shared her exhilaration, the sun burst through the clouds to shine brightly in the beautiful blue sky. A deafening boom suddenly filled her ears as Marc’s car savagely wrenched to the side, glass shattering and metal screeching. Her hip slammed into the passenger door and her head into the side window. The horn blared nonstop. She opened her eyes, tasting blood in her mouth. Her gaze drifted downward to her abdomen and pelvis crushed against the passenger side of the car, Marc’s seat wedged against her lap. “Helene,” he gasped. “Are you all right? Helene, are you there?” Tears stung her cheeks. The damn irony. He raised a trembling hand. “Don’t cry, Helene. I love you.” She touched his bloodied face and sensed his lifeforce waning. She wanted to scream at God, at Satan, at the overlords, at anyone who would listen. This wasn’t Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| Entrenched | fair! He didn’t deserve to die! Yet inside her, the demon writhed. Must survive. Without conscious thought, she bent down and began sucking on Marc’s life-force. Her throat burning, she gagged and spat out the bitter tang on her tongue. How could she? Sickened, she stared forlornly at her lover’s glazed eyes. Blood oozed from his mouth. And all the while, her own life-force weakened. A pounding throbbed in her chest, growing stronger, needing escape, yet her heart ached. She felt numb. But there was nothing more she could do to save Marc’s life. Brought to the juncture though, she could continue to exist. She bent over again. Finished draining his life-force, the demon inside her had the power to withdraw. For a moment, the entity remained in the car with the bodies of the now dead Marc and Helene. Unconnected to a human possession, the demon entity had no emotion, only a directive. Find another suitable possession. An entrenched demon had but a few moments during a juncture. The entity drifted out of the car and scanned the passers-by, searching for an attractive possession, one who could easily garner the romantic love of another. The entity spied a slender, distinguished older gentleman rushing to the scene of the car accident. The entity slithered inside the man, greedy and grasping, and quickly extinguished the man’s soul. Permeating his flesh, the entity welcomed the thrill of a new beginning. The power, the hope, the possibilities! Until a feeling of overwhelming emptiness washed over him. Tremors racked his limbs. Having regained human emotion, he could not look at the two bodies inside the car. He turned and hastily walked away, slipping past the throng of gawking ambulance chasers. The name came to him—Warren Harriman, professor of humanistic studies—as he reached his car and clung to the door handle, his mind churning as much as his stomach. “How’s the new body feel?” He whirled to his right, and his teeth clenched. This couldn’t be a coincidence. Jeanette sidled up to him. “A clean-cut professional is not my type, but you’ll fare well.” Her face was dewy, her eyes bright and youthful; gone was the sallow, leathery skin. A common demon, she fed from causing a human’s misfortune and feasted from causing a human’s death. The demon raised her face to the sun. “Does your new possession have any baggage to be dumped? Wife, kids? Man, I love accidents.” Seething, Warren found his voice. “You caused this accident.” “Brilliant observation,” Jeanette said, turning to him, her expression dour. She thumbed her chest. “No demon hunter is gonna mess with me. I made it clear I didn’t want him sniffing around. If he trapped me, he’d have sent me back to the core. No way was I going back there.” Warren shook his head in disbelief. Jeanette scoffed. “Don’t look so surprised. You think you earned a soul because you were willing to save

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your boy toy’s life? He could have vaporized me, and yet you had no concerns about that. Doesn’t my life mean as much as his?” Warren’s lips thinned. “It’s not that black or white. Look, I kept Marc away from you.” Exhaling deeply, his shoulders sagged. “I planned to walk away from him. Don’t you understand? I planned to let him go.” Jeanette jerked her head as if she hadn’t heard him. “For years, I’ve been by your side, ridding you of the pesky attachments belonging to your possessions, so you could put yourself on the market and search for a new lover. You never noticed me, never thought of me except when you needed me to do your dirty work. You were the high and mighty entrenched demon. I was nothing but a lowly common demon.” Her glare pierced him. “All I asked was that you let me have the demon hunter. You could have found another catch.” Warren took a harsh breath. “No, I couldn’t. I . . . I was . . .” “Falling in love with him?” She recoiled in disgust, then suddenly laughed. “How perfect. The joy of taking your precious love will keep me fed for a long time.” She turned and walked away, a bounce in her step. Looking over her shoulder, Jeanette waved, a smirk on her face. “Have a nice life, suck worm.” He could think of only one response. “Go to hell.” And the oddest sensation overcame him—a bubbling of sorts from within. Unable to determine exactly from where the sensation arose, he stood frozen, but once the bubbling erupted into a thin, invisible film in his hands, he instinctively knew what to do. He twirled the film into a rope and threw it like a lasso. Curious, he watched as the demon stiffened, her arms pinned to her sides. He hastened to her and leaned in close, a tight smile crossing his face. “Who would have guessed that when I drained the life-force of a demon hunter, I would become one myself?” Intense fear reflected in his former roommate’s immobile eyes, and then she simply vanished, as if she’d never been there. “Good-bye, demon,” he whispered. “Enjoy your stay in hell.” He stared at the spot where his Brutus disappeared, his thoughts and emotions murky. But as the warmth from the afternoon sun penetrated the cold inside his heart, a point of clarity emerged. He was free. Free to live. Free to love. His gaze shifted to his hands. Free to harness his new power. Warren smiled. He’d traded a soulless immortality for a mortal soul . . . and a purpose. He inhaled the sweet summer air, relishing the sound of students laughing in the nearby square. Yes, life would be very interesting indeed.

| Kira Shayde |

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kira enjoys studying love, sex, and relationships, and has a weakness for shifters. As a romance writer, Kira explores somewhat atypical pairings and settings and can’t help adding a twinge of societal awareness to her works, but the focus is always on the developing romance, passion, and happy endings. In her erotic romances, you won’t find any hard-core BDSM. Kira prefers her hero and heroine to share the power and share the love. A former university research associate and wildlife rehabilitator, Kira is addicted to the Instagram accounts of conservation groups and sanctuaries and spends far too much time online looking at pictures of birds, big cats, wolves, chocolate desserts, and Jamie Dornan.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


Movies | Television | Books | Adaptations



Featured Videos,

REVIEWS and more

BTS showcases writers and other professionals who bring characters to life through movies & TV.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 | 37

Kelly H ughes Director, Writer As writer and director of the comedy-horror film La Cage aux Zombies, what is your formula for mixing comic timing with chills and thrills? La Cage aux Zombies is a subversive action movie masquerading as a zombie horror flick. So the key is to concentrate on the absurdity. And use the low-budget gore effects for comedy relief. Even though I’m a fan of George Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead, I’m not really into zombie movies. I don’t think I could make a movie like Shaun of the Dead. I don’t know enough about zombie movie conventions to poke fun at them. I wrote the screenplay for La Cage aux Zombies in 1993. And thought it would be fun to make a dead football team come back to life as zombie drag queens. I wasn’t making a political statement. This was decades before Caitlyn Jenner. I think I was more interested in how I could film the football players’ airplane crash. With zero budget. So for footage of the burning wreckage, we used bucket seats pulled out of an old Ford Pinto. And turned the aftermath of the crash into an Aber38 |

crombie & Fitch-esque tableaux. So there wasn’t much actual horror in my movie. Some comedy, yes. Much of it slapstick. And I do enjoy a good sight gag. But we had tons of hysteria. All my characters were constantly freaking out. Like in a John Waters movie. But I think I have a more wholesome worldview. In the film, drug dealer Lenny and his associate, Moll, kill it with a macabre sense of humor that leads them down a path of destruction. You have recently adapted their story into a novel. Tell us about the process of novelization and the challenges you face bringing such complex characters to life. I love the character of Lenny. He’s a bit like Donald Trump. But more Neanderthal. He gets to say all sorts of rude and insulting things. But he also cuts through the crap. He’s a man of action. I think when you have a story with so many absurd elements, you need an anchor. So when I turned La Cage aux Zombies into a novel, I got into Lenny’s character more. I like his fearless attitude. He’s the villain. But I like him because he doesn’t whine. And when you’re faced with a zombie apocalypse, he’s the kind of guy you want on your side. In the novel, I also expanded the character of Eva Tannenbaum. She’s a mini-villain. We first meet her at a drag contest. But I’m not sure if she’s a drag queen or an actual woman. I never make that explicit

| BTS Goes Hollywood |

in the story. I always said that if I made a sequel to the movie, it would be about her. This mega-maniacal one-armed neo-Nazi. She’s a Nazi narcissist. But resourceful. Like MacGyver. I had the most fun fleshing out scenes from the movie. Giving minor characters more weight. More backstory. And adding more scope. And new characters. The movie ended abruptly. So the novel allowed me to work up to more of a traditional climax. In the movie, Eva sort of wanders off. But in the novel, she gets to be part of the climax. And I guarantee, that is a good thing. It takes another level of “creative” to make people laugh while churning out the gory details. What is your inspiration for comedy horror? In movies, casting is a big deal. You need expressive actors. There needs to be that “larger than life” quality. But they have to play it with conviction. They can’t wink at the audience, letting them know they’re in on the joke. So to make my humor work, the actors have to play it like they’re in an Edward Albee play. I think most comedy horror is simply comedy with some horror trappings. Like the Scary Movie series. I think those have a lot of funny moments in them. But they use references that the audience already knows. Using images from popular horror movies. And throwing toilet humor at them. Which is fine. I’d much rather enjoy some good toilet humor than watch a pop culture referenced indie relationship dramedy by a next-big-thing director from Sundance. Perhaps I’m exaggerating. But I have grown a bit cynical. So when I pick up a DVD box at the video store, and more than half the cover is occupied by

film festival laurel wreaths, I put it back on the rack. And grab something trashy to cleanse my palate. You wrote and directed Heart Attack Theatre, a public access cable TV show in Seattle. What did you enjoy most about working on television, and would you like to return to that medium? I liked having total control. Writing, directing, editing. And I’m tempted to return to that medium. Because I have good memories of it. And it allowed me to create a body of work. Over thirty episodes that I wrote and directed. And I enjoyed the suspense anthology format. Coming up with new stories and new characters every week. Those deadlines taught me to write on demand. And when you work with that sort of schedule, there’s no such thing as writer’s block. But if you want broadcast quality production values, it’s too much work for one person. Filmmaking is collaborative. You need at least a few extras hands. Someone to hold the microphone. Someone to set up lights. Someone to help you move crap around. Filmmaking is mostly about moving heavy stuff back and forth. That’s why I’m choosing to write novels now. Total control. And no dependence on other people. No heavy lifting. No tripods to adjust. I’ll be appearing in an upcoming documentary about the golden age of Seattle’s public access TV. It’s called Channeling Yourself. It should be out sometime next year. And features interviews with people who used the medium to express themselves. And to push the boundaries of public decency and censorship.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| Interviewed by Danita Minnis |

Today, in this YouTube generation, everyone thinks they’re subversive and cutting edge. But back in the early 1990s, it took a lot of work— and some big balls—to put this stuff on public television. We couldn’t hide in a glut of programming. There just weren’t that many channels. And no Internet options. We were exposed. What’s next for Kelly Hughes? I was interviewed for another upcoming documentary called Blood on the Reel. It was created by filmmaker Johnny Daggers. And celebrates the spirit of low/no-budget filmmaking. And features interviews with dozens of underground filmmakers. And clips of their work. So look for that when it hits the festival circuit. And I’ll be promoting the La Cage aux Zombies novel this year. And would enjoy doing some public readings. I’ve isolated myself so much. It would be nice to mix with people again. And I love a good Q&A session. Otherwise, I’m on a minimalist quest to remove distractions from my daily routine. (Especially binge-watching music videos on YouTube.) To free up more time and energy to write. To reread more of my favorite authors. And to drop the need to be profound. To simply write, eat, sleep, and repeat. To be Zen. With an edge. Kelly Hughes is an author and director. Right now he is concentrating on writing a memoir about his days creating underground video and theater in Grunge-tastic Seattle in the early ‘90s and writing celebrity interviews for his column on his website. Visit him at

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ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER A native New Yorker, Danita is a singer, writer, and lover of romance. She is the author of the ghostly love story Adderley’s Bride and the Cardiff novels: Falcon’s Angel and Love Entwined. Danita is currently working on her fourth novel, which explores the relationship and trials of an ex-MI6 agent on the run and the vampire who loves him. Website:

Science Fiction | Fantasy | Paranormal | Urban Fantasy



Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |



reading trends in sci fi & fantasy

AliB FORTY and the

Spaceships Alex Bardy

Many Worlds, Many Ways, Many Wars . . . “Priests will be attached to a small local TEMPLE. Some are austere and unpleasant, but most are quite decent people. HIGH PRIESTS are another question altogether.” —The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships| This time last year, I was waxing lyrical about Freda Warrington’s fabulous trilogy of vampire novels, the excellent Blood Wine Sequence including A Taste of Blood Wine, A Dance In Blood Velvet, and The Dark Blood of Poppies—these were originally written back in 1992, long before the likes of Charlaine Harris and a brace of sexy movies made vampires a lot more cool and trendy than ever before (Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice notwithstanding). These books were rereleased in 2000 and then reissued again in 2013 with a fabulous art makeover to boot. Lucky for us, Warrington was also commissioned to write a fourth book in the series, and I’m pleased to say it’s finally here: The Dark Arts of Blood (Titan Books, 2015) takes readers back to 1920s Switzerland where a local filmmaker with sinister motives inherits the mysterious sakakin, a set of thirty ancient knives imbued with great power through countless years of sacrificial rituals and the invocation of an immortal god. Unfortunately, the brilliant dancer, Violette (a reincarnated form of Lilith, demon mother of all vampires), has opened a dance academy nearby, the vampire twins Niklas and Stefan (his mute brother) have also innocently purchased a home in the vicinity, and the ancient vampire Fadiya wants her lovely set of knives back . . . You can already imagine the ensuing carnage, and in the midst of all this, vampire lovers Karl and Charlotte once again have their eternal love tested as they strive to prevent a war that could see the end of all vampire-kind. I can’t praise this series enough, the author’s writing is poetic, enduring, and consumes you hook, line, and sinker. A superb ending to a classic series and highly recommended. On a totally different front, Adam Roberts’ Bête (Gollancz, 2015) is a smart, clever, well-written tale that tackles the thorny issue of inserting AI chips into animals to give them powers of speech in an effort to enhance their rights and prevent mankind’s continued abuse and extermination of them.

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If that sounds like a barmy idea, when I tell you the whole story kicks off with a farmer shooting one of his cows after arguing with it over whether or not it’s going to be slaughtered today, you can rest assured that what follows is a black comedy full of immense wit and the darkest humour. Written mainly from the point of view of Graham, an angry, flawed protagonist (the aforementioned farmer who seems to hate everything and everyone—and whatever you do, don’t call him Graham!), this tale explores many facets of being human, self-determination, social order, and of course, the plight of animalkind. By turns satirical and cynical, in the same vein as Orwell’s Animal Farm, this is a biting, intelligent novel, which begs the reader to think again about what it is to be human and our place in the order of things. An impressive, sublime piece of work. It would be remiss of me not to mention the passing of Discworld meister, Sir Terry Pratchett earlier this year, but The Long Utopia (Doubleday, 2015) could well be one of his last written works, alongside fellow author Stephen Baxter. Likely to be the culmination of the Long Earth series that started back in 2012 with the original The Long Earth (Doubleday, 2012), The Long Utopia carries an altogether more serious tone as the characters become embroiled in a quest to prevent the end of everything, and by that I don’t mean just the parallel worlds of Long Earth and Long Mars, but of everything in the universe. Earlier books spent more time exploring and playing with the concept, meandering between them all if you’d pardon the pun, but there’s a lot less of that here, and ditto the humour and fun that went with it, so I assume Pratchett’s health had a big impact on this one. It’s a shame, really, because, otherwise, this is a series that’s well worth exploring . . .

| Alex Bardy | Fast running out of space, but there can be few people who haven’t heard of George R. R. Martin and Game of Thrones through the incredible success of the HBO TV series of the same name, but his repertoire is so much bigger than his adventures in Westeros alone. Windhaven (Gollancz, 2015) was originally published back in 1982, written in collaboration with Lisa Tuttle, and the original concept formed long before then, appearing in the May 1975 issue of Analog under the title “The Storms of Windhaven”—yup, both these authors have been writing for a long time . . . Windhaven is a water world of tiny islands that only stay connected through the exploits of the prestigious flyers, a talented and privileged silverwinged troupe who pass messages from one island to the next, but they remain a “closed shop” until Maris, a fisherman’s daughter, makes a stand and fights against the system. A better flyer than most and constantly reminded of her place in the world, Maris argues her case and seeks change but with change comes revolution and a whole host of other problems rooted in the base instincts of jealousy and loss. It’s a great tale that demonstrates not only the talent of both authors but shows once again why we love any story in which the exploration of love and loss, of being human, will always win us over. A cracking read.


Alex Bardy lives in a very dark place, below a small dank stairwell, beneath a dark step, under a speck of dirt, tucked away in a cold, dark emptiness, somewhere on the fringes of the charming, historical city of York, in the North Yorkshire area of the UK. He also writes as DenizenOfTheUniverse under his Twitter moniker: @mangozoid. He is a contributor, reviewer, and word-lender to the British Fantasy Society, and an active member on the board of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), mainly responsible for the design/ layout of their publications, coupled with an occasional foray into writing/interviewing. He recently edited a great compilation issue of the BSFA’s Focus magazine for writers (#64), garnering praise from authors and readers alike: “An outstanding issue for those just starting their author journey.”

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |



science fiction | fantasy | paranormal

Wolf Trouble Paige Tyler

Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

He’s in trouble with a capital T There’s never been a female on the Dallas SWAT team and Senior Corporal Xander Riggs prefers it that way. The elite pack of alpha male wolfshifters is no place for a woman. But Khaki Blake is no ordinary woman. When Khaki walks through the door attractive as hell and smelling like heaven, Xander doesn’t know what the heck to do. Worse, she’s put under his command and Xander’s protective instincts go on high alert. When things start heating up both on and off the clock, it’s almost impossible to keep their heads in the game and their hands off each other... Review: You enjoyed meeting Khaki Blake and her struggles to become a new member of the local Dallas Swat team. An interesting unit, that has some hot cops with some rather unusual attributes that contribute quite nicely to any situation they might face. She’s paired with squad leader, “Xander”, and she discovers a good teammate, and a good teacher, even if he’s a little rough around the edges, and there’s an attraction, that may or may not be reciprocated. And you enjoyed every minute she has her hands full trying to find out. It was a fun ride trying to find out if they get together and to see if they actually belonged together despite the hiccups that came along, and the fact that they actually work together. It had a little bit of everything. So if you want action, and a whole set of trouble, pick up a copy. Reviewed by CassandraG

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The Devil Tree

The Acolyte

Paranormal Heat Rating: 3

SciFi Heat Rating: 3

Keith Rommel

Based on the Port St. Lucie Legend Back in the 1970s, a series of bizarre incidents occurred at what has since been known as “The Devil Tree.” Beneath this ancient denizen, evil was wrought by a sick serial killer, calling upon forces most evil and dark. People were hung there ... and bodies buried there ... exhumed by the police. Overcome by superstition, some tried to cut down the tree, to no avail. Since then, it has stood in a remote section of a local park --- left to its own devices --- quiet in its eerie repose -- until now! Best-selling psychological-thriller author Keith Rommel has imagined the whole tale anew. He’s brought the tree to life and retold the tale with gory detail only possible in a fiction novel. Action-packed, with spine-tingling detail, this thriller is beyond parallel in the ground it uncovers ... one author’s explanation of what may have really been said -what may have really happened -- under Port St. Lucie’s “Devil Tree.” Review: This was a creepy read, that’s for sure. I enjoyed the story very much, though I wish there were more to it. It felt like there was just something missing, or more to the story? I love that it takes place here in Florida and if I make it down that way I will be tempted to look for the tree myself. The Devil Tree gives the reader just enough information to keep you hooked until the very end, and I really couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The evil characters are twisted in a way that only great authors can really pull off without sounding cheesy.

Nick Cutter

Jonah Murtag is an Acolyte on the New Bethlehem police force. His job: eradicate all heretical religious faiths, their practitioners, and artefacts. Murtag’s got problemsone of his partners is a zealot, and he’s in love with the other one. Trouble at work, trouble at home. Murtag realizes that you can rob a citizenry of almost anything, but you can’t take away its faith. When a string of bombings paralyzes the city, religious fanatics are initially suspected, but startling clues point to a far more ominous perpetrator. If Murtag doesn’t get things sorted out, the Divine Council will dispatch The Quints, aka: Heaven’s Own Bagmen. The clock is ticking towards doomsday for the Chosen of New Bethlehem. And Jonah Murtag’s got another problem. The biggest and most worrisome . . . Jonah isn’t a believer anymore. Review: If you like hard hitting action that’s kind of been taken from the real life action that’s kind of been happening in the world today, you’ll enjoy definitely this type of action. Even, if there were a few liberties taken. Oh, and if you like your action descriptive, you’ll enjoy this a lot, otherwise if your faint of heart and don’t appreciate jaw dropping descriptive verbs and adjectives that come with a somewhat graphic outcome, best bet would be to avoid, unless you somehow, manage to stick with it. And if you do that, you’ll appreciate the hero and definitely enjoy the outcome of the ride. So when you get a chance pick up a copy. Reviewed by Cassandra G

Reviewed by Melanie M

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |



science fiction | fantasy | paranormal

The Bloodmoon Curse

Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series Karen Wiesner Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 1

An unsuspecting nurse is lured to an ancient family mansion said to hold both ghosts and horrifying secrets in order to care for three orphaned children. Amberlyn Lyons has recently suffered a devastating miscarriage that has torn her marriage apart and shaken her faith. She quietly takes a nanny position at an isolated mansion in Bloodmoon Cove without electricity, telephone, or ease of passage. The moment she walks into Bloodmoon Manor, Amberlyn deduces that all things aren’t as they seem. The eerily similar owners distrust doctors who, in thirty years, have been unable to cure their severely deformed daughter Katerina. Katerina both idolizes and despises Amberlyn for her beauty. Childishly cruel, Katerina enjoys tormenting the orphans by telling them tales of the malicious ghost that haunts the decaying mansion. Amberlyn discounts the paranormal legends as madeup stories until she hears the shuffling of footsteps in the cold, dark halls and feels that she’s being watched at every turn. She knows the ghost is real and she must protect the children. But when she discovers a graveyard behind the mansion filled with babies who died at birth or shortly thereafter, she realizes the ghost of Bloodmoon Manor is really a family curse and she was brought there to uphold the family legacy of that curse. Either she finds a way to escape with the children...or she becomes the next bloodmoon bride. Review: The Bloodmoon Curse has everything it needs to be a good story. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop because I couldn’t wait to solve the puzzle of what was really going on at Bloodmoon Manor. Amberlynn just had a miscarriage, her marriage is falling apart, and she does the first thing every woman is taught early on not to do; she answers a newspaper ad for a nanny to children who have lost their parents and are living with distant relatives. She’s never met these people and doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going. She’s just asking to be murdered. It’s no surprise that things are just not quite right with her new employer. This really was a good read. There is mystery and suspense that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. In some ways, it was a little predictable, but there were still a lot of surprises. Reviewed by Melanie M

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Ghost of a Promise Kelly Moran

Paranormal Heat Rating: 3

“It might be love, but will they survive the night?” The ghosts of her family’s estate on the coast of Maine never troubled Ava Trumble. When she finally inherits the historic mansion, however, there’s a small string attached: Ava has exactly one year to solve a 200-year-old mystery of a missing girl, or lose her family’s home… The lead investigator for paranormal TV show Phantoms, Jackson Granger, is prepared for any metaphysical encounter—until now. It’s not just the uncanny sense of “coming home” or even his reaction to the fiery redhead who seems to consume his every waking thought. No, it’s that the ghosts are using Jackson and Ava’s attraction to play out a centuriesold tragedy. Heartbreak. Loss. Overwhelming passion. Now Jackson and Ava must determine if they’re sharing something real…or if they’ve been possessed by a love that never died. Review: Ava Trumble inherits an old house filled with secrets, and people, who’d wish she’d never inherited the place, in the first place. She wants the place and in order for her to keep it, she has to fulfill a request that was placed in her dear aunt’s will. She meets Jackson, who was the host of a paranormal type show and he and his crew help out Ava with her unique little situation. She has to solve a mystery, that’s as old as the house. You dislike, some of the living characters you come across, but like the dead ones and, for the most part everyone was quite likeable. It was nice, sweet and charming and you rooted for all involved to get the happy ending they deserved. Pick up a copy when you get a chance, you just might be glad you did. Reviewed by CassandraG

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |



science fiction | fantasy | paranormal

Calling Calliope

Snap: All That Jazz

Paranormal Heat Rating: 3

Michele Drier

The Kandesky Vampire Chronices 8

Maggie Mitchell

Can love survive across time and space? Found wandering the streets of Melbourne, Callie has no memory of who she is. She’s taken in by a social worker at a women’s shelter and soon becomes an integral part of the team, where she helps battered women and their children move on with their lives. When a larger than life man appears, claiming he’s her husband, she immediately assumes they’re not together for a reason. But a violent criminal is angry with her for keeping his family away from him and plots revenge, so keeping this giant of a man around seems like it might be a good idea after all. Gus might be a king in his own land, but this strange place is a different story. It took him six months to find his beloved Calliope and he is not leaving without her. Even if she can’t remember him. Now that she’s in danger, the need to rescue her is greater, but the stubborn woman won’t believe him. To win her back he has to play it by her rules, or risk losing her forever Review: Calling Calliope is book 2 in the Muses Across Time series, though I enjoyed it as a standalone, or entry point. Callie has no recollection of her life except for the last six months spent helping at a women’s shelter in Australia, so the fact that the character is underdeveloped actually makes sense and lends to the mystery of the tale. Using established mythology of the Greek pantheon affords the author further room to play with the characters without explaining much about them, although I really would have liked to know a bit more about who Callie was a person (or goddess rather.) A fast, fun read, if you have a short time to fill and enjoy reading steamy romantic stories based on mythology. For its witty humor and skilled use of mythical tropes. Reviewed by Ashley Kemp

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Vampire Romance Heat Rating: 3

Nik and Jazz, both employees of Kandesky Enterprises and passionate lovers, are having a tumultuous time. Are their differences too great? She’s a contemporary, hip, young career woman working in the fastchanging world of celebrity gossip journalism in Los Angeles. He’s a 500-year old vampire living in Kiev, Ukraine and running the Kandesky Munitions factories. She deals with celebs and sun, he deals with terrorists and dark. Is their overpowering attraction enough to build a lifelong future, or will their relationship fizzle out before Maxie’s and Jean-Louis’ wedding, dying faster than a Fourth of July sparkler? Review: This is not the first book in the series. Luckily the author spends a few chapters recapping, so I never felt lost. While there is definitely potential for this to be a great story, for me it fell short. I felt like the majority of the book was spent with the 2 main characters trying to talk themselves out of having a relationship. It feels like they have the same argument over and over. Reviewed by Melanie M

My Life Without Garlic Bailey Bradford Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

Some things in life just might be worth giving up garlic for. It was simple curiosity that led Augustin to the vampire dating site—he thought it must be a joke started up by a bunch of weirdos. Man, was he right—but it just so happens that those weirdos really are vampires, and when one shows up at his place, Augustin’s world is turned upside down. First he’s got a psychotic vampire to deal with. Then he’s got one who is much more fun hanging around. Except now that Augustin knows that vampires exist, he can’t be left alive. Or can he? When an alternative is offered up, Augustin doesn’t care for it, either. After all, he doesn’t want to be whisked off to some disgusting vampire den. Tony’s the vampire next in line to lead the coven. He wants to be a fair man, and that means arguing against killing Augustin. If he’s also attracted to the sarcastic, adorable man, where’s the harm in that? The attraction between Augustin and Tony is undeniable, but deny it is what they both try to do. Someone is going to have to bend or break. Review: I really didn’t love this book. I wanted to. The blurb sounded right up my alley. I just expected more. The beginning starts out strong, but then fizzles out. I liked was that one of the main characters wasn’t traditionally handsome. He has a gut and isn’t described as attractive. He finds an online vampire dating site which is only the beginning of his problems. He is snarky and funny, which I really liked.. He has a fun sense of humor. The sex in this book was very steamy and frequent. It just seems weird that Augustin was so against getting along with the vampires but jumped right into bed with Tony. In my opinion, My Life Without Garlic would have been a much better story if it were longer and more developed. I think Bradford has a good idea and potential for a great story if it were expanded from its current form. Reviewed by Melanie M

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


teaming up to bring y

Push and Pull (Vampire Favor Series #1)

Emily Cyr Paranormal

Seven years ago, Addison Fitzpatrick found herself in a bit of a bind. In true Addison-fashion, she’d angered a drug dealer; she may have “forgotten” to pay him. Just when it was time to pay the piper, she was offered a way out by an unlikely being. Cannon Blackwood, master of vampires, made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Now, Addison owes Cannon three favors. Seven years after that fateful meeting, just as Addison’s life is getting back on track, Cannon calls in one of the favors she owes him. There is a new drug that threatens the very existence of the vampire race and Cannon needs Addison, along with his brother Lachlan, who happens to be a professional thief, to steal it and destroy any evidence of it. Not only is the future of the vampires on the line, but with both Cannon and Lachlan vying for her attention, her heart is as well. Addison has difficult choices to make and dangerous favors to repay if she wants to see the light of another day.

Review: This is an amazing read! It’s super intense and very emotional, which is something I have come to expect from this author. The sexual tension between Addison and Lachlan is obvious even to someone as cold hearted as I am. Emily Cyr has the ability to really make you feel strong emotions for her characters. You either love them absolutely or hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. Her characters come alive as you read them and can be related to in a way that I haven’t found with many other authors. The storyline is great, there is plenty of action to go along with the sexual tension. There are so many reasons to love this book. It’s the first in the series so I’m looking forward to the next to see what happens! I can’t wait to read more by this author!

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Aurora Sky Vampire Hunter

Nikki Jefford Paranormal

If there is one thing eighteenyear-old Aurora Sky wants, it’s to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn’t hurt either. Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora’s life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter. In Alaska. Basically she’s a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type, which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis right before she has to finish the job... by hand. Now Aurora’s only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire. Review: This is the first book in a series I have heard a lot about. I was immediately sucked into this book and couldn’t read fast enough. This book is full of action, adventure, mild romance, vampires, mystery and all kind of other goodness. It is considered a YA book, because most of the characters are in high school, but they are very easy to relate to.

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Dark Hope HD Smith


Claire, the Devil’s assistant, knows very little about the world she was dropped into five years ago, when she inherited her mother’s unpaid debt to the Demon King. She certainly didn’t expect to be a contender for the Fallen Queen’s throne, a target for the Druid King’s mafia, or a suspect in the murder of Junior, the Devil’s oldest hell spawn. In a last ditch effort to save her life and get out of her deal with the Devil, she sets out to solve Junior’s murder only to be taken prisoner by the four most dangerous immortal hell spawn alive. Review: Claire is the Devil’s assistant, though not by choice. She was forced into it thanks to her mom who made a deal with the Devil. Nice huh? When Claire finds the Devil’s oldest Hellspawn, Junior, dead, and a mysterious video on his computer pointing at her as the killer, she’s got to find out just what the Hell happened. She starts to notice that things are just a bit off and she is stuck in the middle of some absolute craziness.

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Thicker Than Blood

Claire C. Riley and Madeline Sheehan Paranormal

A true friendship never dies. Leisel and Evelyn lost everything. Husbands. Families. Friends. Lives that made sense. All they had left was each other, and a friendship that could withstand anything… Even an apocalypse. Until one fateful night, the marginal safety they’d come to rely on comes to a vicious and brutal end. With the help of Alex & Jami, both unlikely allies, Leisel and Evelyn are able to escape their shattered sanctuary only to find themselves faceto-face with a much altered, much crueler life where they have to find the way—and the will—to stay alive in a world they no longer recognize Review: Thicker Than Blood has completely DESTROYED me emotionally. When I finished reading it, I felt like a part of me had been ripped out, lit on fire, and then shoved, still flaming, back into my body. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve EVER felt this emotionally drained after a book.

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Claire C. Riley Odium

An Itense Dislike or Hatred for Something.... especially ZOMBIES! It’s better to die by the gun than die by the dead. Nina’s life was irrevocably changed when humanity’s dead began to rise. Now, she lives behind the walls. The barricaded cities, erected by the government to protect the remnants of civilization, have become a brutal dictatorship- causing the inhabitants within to starve, steal and claw for survival. Life behind the walls has become as terrifying as roaming the zombie-ridden landscape beyond. Citizens trade what they can to gain food, water, and shelter. Nina has only one currency—her body and she is tired of submitting herself to the greedy hands of the self-proclaimed leaders. Nina finds out that the deaders aren’t the only thing to fear beyond the wall. And that fear will not be ignored, or Forgotten.

On hands and knees, we search, rooting through body pieces and sludge. It seems at one point there were two people in here. Pinky must have turned at some point and eaten her little partner in crime. I shudder at the thought and pray they didn’t know each other. Though would that matter? Would it be any less horrifying being eaten alive by someone you didn’t know? Maybe, maybe not. “I think I’ve got them, Nina.” Emily is pulling out boxes from under the precarious pile in the corner. I’m sure at one point they must have been very neatly stacked and put away, but now they are just a huge mound of cardboard on one side of the car. She shifts a box out of the way and the contents spill out of the flimsy cardboard. Pots and pans clatter to the floor. They roll and crash into one another. One particularly pesky metal pan lid rolls under the car and out the other side before clattering loudly into the metal garage door. The entire wall of metal rattles, and the sound echoes around the small confines of the room. We both freeze, staring at each other in horror as the noise bounces around us. I close my eyes and count to ten. Or I start to, but I only make it to four before

something crashes into the other side of the garage door. The sound is quickly followed by a groan and another crash. It seems, much to my dismay, that we have visitors. And I didn’t even have time to make up a guest room. Well damn!

Claire C. Riley is a USA Today and bestselling British horror writer. Her work is best described as the modernization of classic, oldschool horror. She fuses multi-genre elements to develop storylines that pay homage to cult classics while still feeling fresh and cutting edge. She writes characters that are realistic, and kills them without mercy.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


feature sneak peek

L. Marshall James 11:34

11:34 is a horror compilation featuring 1 novel, 1 novella, 3 novelettes, and 4 short stories that will lead you through dark passageways of horror, dread, and suspense into worlds where not every question is answered and not every answer is what you want it to be. If you discover what happens at 11:34, you might wish you hadn’t.

Bob slowed and wrapped a hand around the plow lever as he broke through the tree line, then glanced across the field and slammed the brakes. A hundred yards away at the other end of the field, a murder of crows circled in the dim light of predawn. It was not uncommon for local flocks to number in the hundreds, but that usually happened near the end of the day when the birds flew home to roost for the night. The most Bob had ever seen in one place was maybe a few thousand, but the cyclonic manifestation revolving in the sky ahead of him was unlike anything he had ever seen or heard of. Tens of thousands of crows—peppered with other birds he couldn’t identify—loomed ahead like some terrible storm. A rise in the earth obscured his view of the birds’ quarry, but it must have been something huge. What it was, Bob couldn’t begin to guess. Something to clear out before I plow, he thought. Then he thought, Go get it. He left the plow up and eased the tractor forward at first, then held on and mashed the pedal. He expected the birds to scatter as he roared toward them, but they didn’t seem to notice or care. He came within fifty yards, then thirty, then

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twenty. There, he engaged the brake and gazed into the winged storm in all its immensity, as wide as a city block and dense enough to blot out the sky. For the first time in weeks, Bob experienced a moment of complete, soul-salving relief. He sat back in the tractor seat to soak it in, but the pain returned like a bolt of lightning through his head. He lurched forward with such force that his nose slammed against the bare metal of the steering wheel and cracked. Bob hunched and touched a hand to the heavy drip of blood pouring from his nostrils. It didn’t hurt at all. He’d broken his nose before, years ago. Back then, it hurt so much he couldn’t stop crying. This time, there was only blood. Lots of blood. Well, he couldn’t complain about no pain, could he? He held a wet, red hand in front of him, then stared beyond it. Centered beneath the vortex was a mound, and every inch of earth from its apex to the front of the tractor was a teeming, writhing mass. Bob hopped down and stepped into it. L. Marshall James hails from northwest rural Pennsylvania, where he ran around barefoot and played 8-bit Nintendo when he wasn’t playing with tar in the middle of the road. He currently lives in Florida, but his future is more or less a blank slate.

Historical | Western | Period Fiction

once UPON a TIME


Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


more beyond the books

Hunks Hot HISTORY The


Christy English

Pirates, Fiction versus Reality Who doesn’t love Johnny Depp? I don’t think there is a living breathing woman in the Western world...y period (1811–

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| The Hot Hunks of History | ..who does not think that Mr. Depp qualifies as a hot hunk, historical or otherwise. And his role as Captain Jack Sparrow of Disney fame is only one example.

But Disney is not the only entertainment brand that makes pirates looks alluring. There is the delicious Toby Stephens in his role as the pirate captain in the TV show Black Sails. Another reason to love fictional pirates.

But what were historical pirates really like? There are the notorious names we recognize, Black Beard and Blue Beard, who terrorized the Carolina coast as well as the Caribbean islands. There was also Stede Bonnet, the so-called Gentleman Pirate, who was finally captured after a long battle off the coast of Wilmington, North 64 |

| Christy English | Carolina, and was hung in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1718. Stede was not known as a gentleman because he treated people well. He was not some kind of Robin Hood who robbed the rich to give to the poor. He was a killer and a thief who was called “gentleman� only because he had been a planter in Barbados before turning to rape and pillage for a living. Historical pirates were murderers, rapists, and general scum of the earth. These pirates flew the black flag with a skull on it for a reason: to tell all in their gunsights that they were going to die, that their cargo would be stolen, and that their ship would be scuttled or burned to the waterline.

When it comes to pirates, I much prefer the fictional kind.

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

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews historical | western | period fiction

Where Eagles Cry

A Radical Arrangement

Historical Heat Rating: 3

Historical Heat Rating: 3

Dee Ann Palmer

Jilted by love in 1834, Cara Lindsay sails from Boston to Mexico’s rugged California to begin a new life with a favorite aunt. Heartbroken to learn her aunt has died, she takes a companionship position to the wife of Don Miguel Navarro, the tough and irresistible owner of a major inland rancho. Prior to her arrival, Miguel’s wife had suffered a permanent brain injury in a suspicious fall, and the lonely ranchero’s heart opens to Cara’s kindness and beauty like parched earth to rain. Yet love may break Cara’s heart again, for she would never be any man’s mistress. Until ships sail for Boston months away, she’s trapped in the midst of danger and an impossible love. When the bells ring and the eagle cries, will she be the next to die? Review: A historical romance set in old California (when it had passed from Spanish to Mexican hands and it was in a state of turmoil), this novel, that I’ve seen compared to Jane Eyre because of some plot elements (here the wife is not locked up in the attic), is a great read. It has a complex enough plot, with secrets, mysteries, superstition (and hints at the supernatural) and danger, attractive and intriguing men (not all good, but who is who isn’t that clear), a young and innocent heroine who is strong and determined (most of the time), and a more than satisfying ending. The descriptions of the period are detailed enough to satisfy curious readers without becoming a historical catalogue. You might have your theories as to what is going on, but the book will keep you guessing and engaged and by the end you’ll be happy with the ride.

Jane Ashford

Brash and Handsome Sir Justin Keighley is all wrong for a proper young lady like Margaret Mayfield. Everyone knows he is shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society. Margaret absolutely will not marry him—no matter what her parents say. Beautiful and Shy Margaret was everything Sir Justin detested in a woman—timid, sheltered, and obedient to a fault. It’s not until she runs away from him that he finds he must give chase. Margaret is discovering she can be bold and rebellious—intrepid enough to do what she must, and more exciting than Justin ever imagined possible. She’s the last woman he would have expected to lead them both into uncharted territory… Review: What a sweet story! This one reads like and old regency. The shy, timid, oppressed Margaret who begins this story develops into a lovely woman who knows her own mind. Jane Ashford brings in the political issues of the time and uses them to flesh out her plot beautifully. The romance between Sir Justin and Margaret developed slowly and they had a good bit of quarrels. I love when people fall in love with each other’s minds. The supporting characters where well developed and intriguing. The heat level was of passionate kisses level. There was so much to love about this novel! Fans of Georgette Heyer would love this. Reviewed by Nelle

Reviewed by Olga Nunez Miret

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews historical | western | period fiction

How to Train Your Knight Stella Marie Alden Historical Heat Rating: 4

Year of our Lord, 1276. In the hours just before dawn, blasphemous curses echo throughout the stone manor. A knife clatters to the floor, and a feisty young widow is bound, blindfolded, and led to the marriage altar. The king couldn’t possibly have sanctioned this farce of a marriage, could he? After all, she alone transformed a few mud huts and starving serfs into a flourishing town, never once hesitating to pay generous taxes to his royal kingdom. Abandon her beloved people to be ruled by her new husband, an ignorant Templar knight? Never! the Lady Ann vows. A murderous witch for a wife? The Beast of Thornhill finds himself in the middle of either a cruel jest or an evil conspiracy. After returning from the Holy wars, he accepts bestowment of a small parcel of land in return for saving King Edward’s life. But the reward comes with a warning regarding the estate’s mistress. Despite his insatiable attraction to the black-haired beauty, he allows her time to warm to him while observing her strange, forwardthinking ways. But when all is on the line, will he stand by her through the inquisition or will they both hang for her secrets? Review: I love how they get to know each other! It’s refreshing to see that, after a rocky start, (being bound and blindfolded and forced to marry), that they were open and honest with one another. Marcus, while a very good warrior was sweet and caring. Ann did get on my nerves with some of the dramatics but they were needed to show just how what she went through affected her. The relationship between the men, Marcus and Thomas was fun to watch. Stella inserted some humorous scenes in the plot, sometimes having Marcus laughing in a serious situation. But it fit the characters. I’d recommend this author to someone who isn’t such a stickler about history and enjoys variety in their historical romances! Reviewed by Nelle

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The Accidental Countess Valerie Bowman Historical Heat Rating: 4

CAN A SCANDALOUS CHARADE For seven long years, Lady Cassandra Monroe has waited for the man of her dreams to return from the war. Unfortunately, he happens to be engaged to her flighty cousin. What Cass wouldn’t give to take her cousin’s place! When he mistakes Cass for Patience Bunbury, a fictitious friend her cousin has invented to escape social obligations...even with her future husband, Cass thinks this is her chance. LEAD TO TRUE AND LASTING LOVE? After defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, Captain Julian Swift is not quite ready to settle down and enter into his unwanted arranged marriageespecially when the real object of his affection turns out to be a beguiling beauty he meets at a party. Patience Bunbury is witty, independent, passionate...and, unbeknownst to him, the cousin of his current fiancée. When the truth about Cass comes out-and Julian discovers that their courtship is anything but accidental-will he surrender his heart to a woman who really is too good to be true? Review: Cassandra wasn’t my favorite character in the first book. I had high hopes she would redeem herself here. When Julian doesn’t recognize her, Lucy introduces Cass as a fictitious person, for some madcap reason. Much of the first part of the book was a farce. The mistaken identity went on for too long and the dramatic discovery of it was heart wrenching. I’d have admired Cass so much more if she could have done what she wanted, which was to tell Julian the truth. It was very frustrating. Julian, a battle-worn soldier, deserved someone better. Someone who could stand up for herself. She does eventually but it’s rather late in the book. The romance truly starts after the discovery of the charade and that was so much more enjoyable. Reviewed by Nelle

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews historical | western | period fiction

Sweet romance through the ages! From turn of the century Chicago to 1860’s Montana to the Civil War era to Regency times, there is something for every historical romance reader. This sweet romance boxed set charms with seven novels by bestselling authors, starring unforgettable characters falling in love in the most captivating settings. All the Blue of Heaven

Sky Tinted Water

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Eight years ago, Allie Hathaway scandalized the wealthy elite of Chicago when she ran away to San Francisco. Now a world-renowned portrait painter, her life is filled with laughter and friendship, including being a mother to her orphaned niece. So why can’t she forget her first love?

Familial bonds, malevolent schemes and passion collide in this sweet historical novel. Set in Minnesota during the Civil War and the Sioux uprising, this is the story of Rory Hudson, the exquisite Irish lass with an unbreakable spirit and the enigmatic Dawson Finch, a man bound by honor, duty and loyalty.

Review: A story about faith and starting over, Virginia Carmichael takes audiences to post-Civil War America, a time of change. The author personifies this spirit in Alberta Hathaway, an aspiring portrait artist who takes on the responsibilities of caring for her niece Janey. A tragic event destroys her studio forcing Allie to return to her birthplace and live with her mother, Janey’s grandmother. The conversations between Allie and her mother are telling, describing Allie as adventurous and her mother as stringent and old school. Allie reacquaints herself with Thomas Bradford, a family friend whose love for her never waned. A veterinarian, Thomas revolves his thoughts around Allie. Though they make credible friends, they lack a romantic spark making his idolizing of Allie unwarranted. Judgment calls are on the mark assessing situations and characters for the readers rather than letting them figure it out for themselves. It’s a mild-mannered read with lukewarm characters.

Review: Placed in Minnesota during the Civil War as the Sioux uprising is going on, the story focuses on the Hudson family and their neighbors. The family-centric theme set in 19th century Wild West has a rustic ambience, but the tone of the narration and dialogue is more representative of Regency England. People are described as uptight building up embarrassing moments that despoil someone forever. In a society that imposes strict regulations on proper behavior, the language is modern with sharp quips and sarcastic remarks that reflect a 21st century mindset. Characters enter without their roles explained; making it difficult to figure out what is their connection to the main character Rory Hudson. Devoted to her family even at the expense of denying her attraction to the dashing Dawson Finch, Rory is a multi-layered character whom readers need to have patience with, making the story an effort to follow.

Virginia Carmichael

Reviewed bySusan Frances

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Keta Diablo

Reviewed bySusan Frances

The Incorrigible Mr. Lumley

Lasso My Heart

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Stubborn. Hard-headed. Single-minded. The qualities that make David Lumley a successful horse breeder are put to work befriending Lady Joanna Hurst with less than noble intentions.

Jake is Clara’s dead husband’s identical brother. But he’s the bad twin. Without his help Clara stands to lose her ranch . . . and her girls. She soon discovers accepting his help means she could lose her heart. Is saving the ranch worth the risk?

Aileen Fish

Review: A series of murders at a horse stable brings Lady Joanna Hurst and horse breeder David Lumley together to investigate who is behind the criminal activities. Unfortunately, the couple is more passionate about their horses than about each other making their romance feel contrived like they are pushed into it. The infusion of a crime drama is meant to draw readers into this microcosm set in Regency England, but the writing style has a sensational slant as emotions are exaggerated, making the murders have a fabricated tone used for the sole purpose of linking the hero and heroine. Their focus to find the murderer and raise horses to become thoroughbreds is the only bond the two shares making for a flimsy connection. It’s revealed that family is important to both but their families never blend convincingly so the two have little to discuss aside from their horses and the murders. Reviewed bySusan Frances

Linda Ford

Review: Lonely and bruised by the unfair conditions of life, Clara Davison and her brother-in-law Jake find the path to restoring their faith, making an effort to build a happy home and a prosperous business as cattle ranchers. Jake serves a prison sentence for a crime his twin brother commits, and endeavors to locate his brother after he’s released. He learns that his brother is dead leaving behind a loving wife and three sweet young daughters. From the start, the reader is let in on the unfair verdict foisted on Jake, innocent of the crime while his deceitful brother lives contently with Clara. His situation garners sympathy and makes him an endearing character. The writing is descriptive of the surroundings and the human qualities of the characters like their facial expressions, reactions, and responses. Flashbacks have a connection to the present engulfing the reader deeper into this world, stirring them emotionally. Reviewed bySusan Frances

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews historical | western | period fiction

Sweet romance through the ages! From turn of the century Chicago to 1860’s Montana to the Civil War era to Regency times, there is something for every historical romance reader. This sweet romance boxed set charms with seven novels by bestselling authors, starring unforgettable characters falling in love in the most captivating settings.

A Mile Apart

Secrets and Sensibilities

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Sarah Jae Foster

Only one thing stands between her and the man she loves…gold. When a ruthless speculator encroaches on the camp, threatening Joseph and the other miners, Eden knows she must do the one thing she vowed never to do…for the one man she vowed never to love. Review: Set in the era of California’s Gold Rush, Foster’s story goes into vivid detail when describing the smells and sights surrounding the miners and the small towns skirting their camps. These conditions give audiences a feel for the rugged lifestyle which America’s western pioneers endured. Many of the characters have a tough exterior exhibiting gritty manners and minds that sway towards being practical. The main characters, Eden Montgomery and Joseph Benton, exemplify people whose lives are hard with money being scare and people to depend on appearing even less frequently. Inwardly, the characters live by strict Christian values such as having family come first and refusing to abandon a love one. Readers often come into the middle of a situation and must figure out what’s going on, determining what sequences from the past are affecting the present. Action is minimal while human condemnation and snap judgments are rampant. Reviewed bySusan Frances

Regina Scott

This clean romance with a touch of romantic suspense was previously published by Zebra as A Dangerous Dalliance. When art instructor Hannah Alexander agrees to accompany four of her students on a country house visit before Easter, she never dreams of entering into a dalliance with the owner David Tenant, the handsome new Earl of Brentfield. But one moment in his company and she’s in danger of losing her heart. Review: A slow paced read with interesting characters each pursuing their own agenda, the story has a genuine Victorian feel as though Charlotte Bronte or Jane Austen could have written these words. The main characters, David Talent, the new Earl of Brentfield, and Hannah Alexander, an art teacher at a private all girls school, are the quintessential Victorian couple bred from two different social classes but falling in love nonetheless and tenacious about eschewing society’s strictures which dictate their love is forbidden. A typical Victorian romance ensues as David and Hannah discover they share a desire to be active members of society and possess a love for beauty and solace. Other characters vary from being supportive of the couple to discouraging them which creates an appealing mix of personalities reflective of real life figures. The ambience is minimal set in England’s rustic countryside but the conflicting emotions absorb readers. Reviewed bySusan Frances

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Through the Storm Brenda B. Taylor Historical Heat Rating: 1

Through The Storm, the third book in the Wades of Crawford County series, is a poignant tale of Leann and Ralph Wade, and their struggle to overcome the storms of life through love, faith, and commitment to each other. Review: A touching tale about a family comprised of a husband and wife whose love produces one natural child and branches out into providing a home for a gaggle of orphaned children, the author shows how life does not always follow the blueprint which people set for it. This post-Civil War story set in the Midwest relishes intimate family bonds, focusing on the love that members have for one another. Blood related or not, it’s their faith and commitment that binds them. Adhering to Christian values, the home life of Leann and Ralph Wade is conventional though their family comes about through unconventional means consisting of children who have been born into unstable households. The story shows that a home filled with love can pull its inhabitants through any form of deprivation. Here, the author creates a family that tugs at readers hearts and influences their perception of a good home. Reviewed bySusan Frances

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


teaming up to bring you more reviews

The Unexpected Duchess

The Unlikely Lady

Historical Heat Rating: 4

Historical Heat Rating: 4

Valerie Bowman

Lady Lucy Upton’s tongue may be too sharp to attract suitors but her heart is good, and when her painfully shy friend Cassandra needs help she devises a brilliant scheme to help her discourage an unwanted suitor, the Duke of Claringdon. Lucy will hide behind the hedgerow and tell Cass just what to say to discourage the Duke of Claringdon… but it turns out that he’s made of sterner stuff than either of them anticipated. And Lucy is shocked to discover that tangling with the tenacious man is the most fun she’s had in ages. Review: Perfect start to a remarkable series! Delightfully witty, utterly comical, completely drama filled romance! Lady Lucy Upton won’t put up with Lord Derek Hunt’s courtship of her friend Cassandra. Cassandra is in love with someone else and he won’t take no for an answer! What she doesn’t know is that Derek has promised a fellow soldier on his deathbed that he would marry Cassandra. He’s trying to do the honorable thing. The antagonist relationship between Lucy and Derek is such a delight to read! They never get truly offensive, but they sure can give it to each other! I fell out laughing several times! If you’re looking for slapstick humor, loyal friendships, and outspoken heroines this is the book for you.

Valerie Bowman

Certain that no man wants a bluestocking for a wife, Miss Jane Lowndes is careful to wield her books and her spectacles as weapons against matrimony. Convincing her ambitious mama that she’s content to stay a spinster is easier said than done, however. It’s a good thing Jane is not above a bit of manufactured scandal if it will keep her from the altar, and the argumentative, contrary Lord Garrett Upton… Review: Enemies to lovers, with Jane and Garrett sparks just fly off the page! Their relationship has been a case of well-document dislike throughout the first two books. They battle with words in every meeting. Jane is my kind of heroine! Witty, independent and resourceful, she brings in Patience Bunbury as a fictitious chaperone and wants to create a scandal so she can thwart her parents attempts to wed her off. Garrett, has the image of a rake, but he’s a closet bookworm! Jane finds his massive, well-read library and is shocked! During a masked ball, a few humorous circumstances led to a rather risqué interlude between them. Cass and Lucy, lead them to believe that the other is in love with them. Seems rather unnecessary since the passion between them is so steamy! That Garret sure knows how to use his cravat! A wonderful ending to an enjoyable trilogy!

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


feature An Interview with:

Ruth Kaufman 1. What made you want to write about Medieval England? (It’s probably my favorite time period!). Is there anything specific that drew you to that time? Glad you love ME, too! In college (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), I had a small role in Shakespeare’s Richard III (Lady Margaret Plantagenet), and I wanted to know what was true and what wasn’t. This led to an interest in the 15th century as a whole. When I started writing, there were a few books set in RIII’s time, so I went a bit earlier. 2. Have you ever visited England and the areas in which your books take place? If so, what was your favorite? Yes, I’ve been to some locations, and would love to return to visit others, especially York, where FYH is set. I’ve been to Castle Rising (Amice’s home in At His Command) and London. It’s such a cool feeling to stand inside your heroine’s home...even if it’s in ruins. Imagination fills in the rest. The last time I visited England, I stayed in two castles (Amberley--my favorite because it was more medieval--and Thornbury). A bucket list dream come true. I’ve also visited the Snowdonia region in Wales, which is my favorite area so far. The castles (including Harlech, Caernarfon and Conwy, all built by Edward I) and countryside are amazing. I do have a book set, in part, in Wales....coming soon to an e-reader near you?

them, the actual book #2 includes more real history and also has points of views of more secondary characters. So it didn’t seem to fit with the others in terms of style.... I hope to have the next one available in the fall. After that, I may go back and release the book I skipped or move on to a new medieval paranormal series with magical realism. 5. How did you get into doing voiceover work? I’d wanted to do it in addition to on-camera work and improv for quite some time, but the barriers to entry used to be much higher. Years ago, you had to produce demo(s) on cassettes or CDs, with cool custom graphics. That seemed daunting to me, plus there

3. What was/has been the hardest elements to research to help your books be historically accurate? Many books (and most websites) are too general and broad to be very useful to authors. Summaries and generalities don’t help us show every day life. So over the years I’ve collected more than 200 books about the 15th century and medieval England. Scholarly books offer the most and juiciest details, as do books with “daily life” in the title. For FYH, I wanted readers to “see” Joanna’s studio. The great Medieval Craftsmen series book on glass-painters was very helpful, but I wanted even more detail. So I had to jump through some hoops to get access to a book in the Art Institute of Chicago’s library. For an as-yet unreleased medieval (see below), I even consulted a medieval jury expert. I couldn’t have written certain scenes without his advice. I’d tell him what I wanted the heroine to do, and he’d tell me the legal issues and what would have happened (it may have helped that I have a law degree). And learning some legal limitations of that time actually helped raise the stakes. I also consulted actual Parliament rolls (fortunately a research library near me has them)...only to find that a couple of the documents I needed weren’t in English. On the other hand, many times I need to know a particular fact, only to find that no one knows what happened. That’s fine, too, because then I get to make it up!

Ruth Kaufman is a Chicago author, oncamera and voiceover talent and freelance editor and speaker with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV. FOLLOW YOUR HEART is the second standalone book in her Wars of the Roses Brides series. Writing accolades include Romance Writers of America® 2011 Golden Heart® winner and runner up inRT Book Reviews’ national American Title II contest. Learn more at and Follow her on Twitter: @RuthKaufman or Facebook: Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress. romance and believes no matter what, love will find a way.

4. How many books do you think we have to look forward to in your War of the Roses Brides series? Well, thanks for asking! FYH, the second book I released, is actually the third book I wrote. Though of course I love all of my books or I wouldn’t have finished

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was no Internet to make it easier to figure stuff out (sounds like excuses now....). Now, everything’s online. When I decided to quit my “real” job to pursue acting and writing full-time, I decided VO should be part of that. I took a class that happened to offer a sample demo session as a follow-up. So I did that, then went on to complete my demo(s) and an acting website (www.ruthtalks. com). I already had on-camera talent agents. They accepted my demos, and I started booking work with them and on my own. My specialty is technical and medical e-learning. 6. What is the most exciting thing you have experienced due to being an author? The most exciting thing is hearing from/reading reviews from readers who love my books. It’s fascinating to see what resonates with different people, and even what doesn’t. Getting a great review from Publishers Weekly was exciting, too! And you never know when reviews will appear, so the fun can continue. 7. Is there anything about you that readers might be surprised to learn? Good question. I’d guess different readers might be surprised by different things. That I have a law degree and worked in highlevel corporate America sales, marketing and training for 16 years? That I’m as old as I am, because I keep hearing that I don’t look my age? That I still want a traditional publishing contract despite the explosion of self-published/indie authors’ successes? 8. What can we expect from you or your books in the future? Time will tell! As mentioned above, the next Wars of the Roses Brides should be out in the fall. I’ve written other books I’d love to release, and would also like to write something new (perhaps telling Joanna’s half sister Margery’s story because I love that setting), but I need to figure out the expense to effort ratio. I love the process of writing and creating characters and their worlds, but to be honest, I don’t love the process of selfpublishing.

England 1460: Joanna Peyntor has two uses for a man: to pose for a stained glass window design or to commission her skills. But when her brother conspires to ruin her reputation, she concedes to a third: a husband to help save her glass-painting workshop. On a quest to redeem his family name and lands, Sir Adrian Bedford must marry without delay. But what woman he’d accept would wed an impoverished former nobleman who insists on an unusual stricture in their marriage contract? Joanna, a woman striving to succeed in a man’s world. When irresistible attraction makes their marriage of convenience inconvenient, will his dangerous secrets keep them from following their hearts?

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


Contemporary | Romance | Mainstream | Literary Fiction



Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


trends reading trends in romance


Chic Trends


Sandra Bunino

Listen Up! Audio is Here to Stay! Audiobooks have been around for years, but there’s a new buzz around this form of reading. Audiobooks are multitaskers’ solution for not having enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. Download a book in the morning, and listen to snippets throughout your day during workouts, commutes, lunch hour errands, and household chores.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| Chic Trends in Romance | I asked my wonderful source of romance-book experts on Facebook about their take on audiobooks and opinions were divided. Many love listening to audiobooks during long car rides, while getting ready for work (and even at work!), to provide an alternative to music during their daily chores. However, they mentioned the narrator’s voice can make or break the story. Just like a song, if the listener doesn’t like the voice, the audio version of the book falls flat. Some love certain narrators so much they choose books based on the narrator. One of my FB friends loves to listen to authors narrating their own stories. How cool is that? Many dislike the slower pace of audio. Fast readers feel the narrated version is too sluggish for their liking. Hybrid readers/listeners love the fluidity of switching from text to audio. Whether you’re an audiobook veteran or virgin, here are a few of my top audio picks . . . The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich, Author, and Katie Schorr, Narrator (Audible Audio Edition, Harper Audio—available now) A sizzling story of everyone’s favorite couple from amazing Stephanie Evanovich’s New York Times bestseller Big Girl Panties: hunky professional baseball player Chase Walker and his sassy wife, Amanda. When pro baseball player Chase Walker first meets Amanda at her restaurant, it’s love at first sight. While Amanda can’t help noticing the superstar with the Greekgod build, he doesn’t have a chance of getting to first— or any other—base with her. A successful entrepreneur who built her business from scratch, Amanda doesn’t need a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. And a curvy girl who likes to cook and eat isn’t interested in being around the catty, stick-thin herd of females chasing Chase and his teammates. But Chase isn’t about to strike out. A man who isn’t interested in playing the field, he’s a monogamist who wants an independent woman like Amanda. His hopes rally when she discovers that squeaky-clean Chase has a few sexy and very secret pre-game rituals that turn the smart, headstrong businesswoman on—and into his number one fan. Then a tabloid discovers the truth and turns their spanking good fun into a late-night punchline. Is Amanda ready to let loose and swing for the fences? Or will the pressure of Chase’s stardom force them to call it quits?

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Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews, Author, and Renee Raudman, Narrator (A Hidden Legacy, #1, Audible Audio Edition, Harper Audio— available now) 2015 Audie Award Finalist Number one New York Times best-selling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire. Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire. Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive. Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world. Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner, Author, and Sarah Steele and JD Jackson, Narrators (Audible Audio Edition, Simon & Schuster Audio—available now) From the “hilarious, heartbreaking, and insightful” (The Miami Herald) best-selling author Jennifer Weiner comes a sweeping modern-day fairy tale about first romance and lasting love. Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her

| Sandra Bunino | his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to the emergency room and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again. Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation. Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they’ve been running toward each other all along. With honesty, wit, and clear-eyed observations about men and women, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters and a love story you’ll never forget. Would you like the chance to win an audiobook? Click over to my Facebook page and enter for the chance to win one of the audiobooks featured here!

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Sandra Bunino is a romance author of several novellas including The Satin Rose Experience series. Her first full-length novel, The Colors of Us from the McAvery’s Bar Series, released in August 2014. She makes her parents proud by putting her MBA degree to good use dreaming up Alpha heroes who dominate the bedroom as well as the boardroom. When not staying up past her bedtime torturing her oh-so-sexy heroes, she can be found shopping for shoes or saving turtles. She looks forward to hearing from her readers and she may be contacted at As a social media junkie in need of a ten-step program, you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Join her book group, Bunino’s Bookalicious Babes, on Facebook! You can also visit her website at

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Chasing Gold Alexa Bourne Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

Grace McKay spends most of her time alone trying to convince the world she’s strong enough and smart enough to become one of the best treasure hunters. According to the media, though, all she’s managed to prove is she’s a frigid, narrowminded woman who doesn’t have a chance to succeed in her current hunt. Simon Andrews is tired of being a glorified secretary for his family’s treasure hunting business. As the youngest brother, he’s never had the chance to test himself in the field, where his true interests lie. When Grace’s uncle hires Simon on a whim to assist her with the search for an ancient family heirloom, he comes up against a woman determined to accomplish her goal without his—or anyone’s—help. But Simon, although captivated by her passion for her quest and her beauty, will not relinquish his chance to prove to the client and his brothers that he has the family gift for finding valuables where others have failed. Grace, frigid? Simon is sure the media met the wrong woman. He’s in danger of bursting into flames every time they are alone together. As they get closer to finding the heirloom, though, their growing passion for one another may distract them from the very real danger that threatens their lives and their possible future together. Whatever that might mean.

Review: Simon Andrews is the picked upon younger brother who itched to have an adventure of his own like his adventurous treasure seeking older brothers. He doesn’t want to be the glorified go-fer guy any longer. So when an old man comes by, with an opportunity his brothers had passed on because they thought he was a nutty old man who was wasting their time. Simon actually took him up on it and had an adventure and a surprise he didn’t see coming and hadn’t counted on. It had a whole lot of danger, a whole lot of fun, quips and insults and who can resist a highlander in a kilt with a sword strategically placed? So if you want an adventurous ride to an unusually twisted tale, pick up a copy and enjoy the ride. Reviewed by CassandraG

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Sliding into Home Anne Lange Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Can an injured ex ball player convince the woman he wakes up married to in Las Vegas to take a second chance on him? After spending the last four months drowning his sorrows over the end of his baseball career, Jack Bishop finds himself winging through the blue skies to Las Vegas, not so ready to spend the weekend with some woman his best friend set him up with. He expects a paid escort. What he gets is the woman he walked away from ten years ago to pursue his passion, and she’s not very happy to see him. Devyn Tate believes she’s quite capable of finding somebody to take her out to dinner. She’s no longer looking for a lifelong promise. She has a commitment only to her batteryoperated toy to fulfill that particular need. Yet her friends have managed to talk her into spending the weekend in Las Vegas, on a blind date of all things. They promise the guy is trustworthy. They insist that she should have fun. Unfortunately, fun is not what she envisions when she discovers Jack Bishop lying on the floor of her suite in nothing but his underwear that’s on backward, and she has a wedding ring on her finger.

Review: Anne Lang hits a homerun with her novella Sliding Into Home about second chances. It’s an easy-to-read story, full of self-exploration and emotion. A set-up between friends is the catalyst with Las Vegas the setting for a fun tale of life changes and the decisions they bring. Character development is good as both Jack and Devyn have a history both with each other and without to contend with. The plot is uncomplicated but there are twists that take the story in unexpected directions, keeping the reader’s interest. While the story centers on a baseball player, there’s little baseball here so non-sports lovers will be satisfied as will sports lovers. It’s great quick read! Reviewed by Heather Lewis

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream A Saint’s Salvation Beverly Ovalle Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Corporal Nicholas ‘Saint’ Santiago needs to go home to reclaim the man he used to be. To be the man he was before Operation Enduring Freedom slowly hardened his heart. He needs to reconnect to the values and the reasons he is doing what he does. Saint also needs to try to forget the courageous woman he knows was meant to be his. Petty Officer Angelina Jones’ life changed the moment Saint saved her life. She survived the blast but now has to deal with the fact that she will never be whole. Knowing Saint received a ‘Dear John’ letter, Angelina has no intention of being his rebound romance. She needs to be loved for herself. She needs to forget about the one man she knows was meant to be hers. They each try to find someone to help them forget. But what does fate have planned for them?

Review: A Saint’s Salvation deals with a sensitive subject in recent time, the plight of our wounded servicemen and women. The author employs an unusual style of narration for a romance novel using the male point of view. Ms. Ovalle deals with the issues faced by vets with PTSD and war injuries in a kind and compassionate manner, however, the story lacks the emotion you’d expect to read in a story involving veterans. The plot was predictable, including too much internal monologue that reads more as a report than a novel. The result is an uneven read that failed to keep my attention throughout. The short length was a plus, making it ideal for an afternoon read and the story itself is compelling even though not developed nearly enough. Reviewed by Heather Lewis

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Home to Cedarwood Megan Slayer Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Colin Baker owns a book store and he’s back in Cedarwood with his son. He’s looking for a new start after a bad breakup, but he never expected that start to include his old crush, Officer Jordan Hargrove. Jordan hasn’t come out, but if he can score with Colin, then he’s all in. He’s dreamed of hot nights with the quiet man. After a speeding ticket and some hurt feelings, sparks fly between the bookstore owner and the police officer, but Cedarwood is a small town with small town values, and a gay couple isn’t what the town expects. Colin’s created a support group for single gay fathers and he feels he’s making some difference in Cedarwood. Some folks in Cedarwood are fine with these two men reconnecting, but some aren’t. Will the naysayers be enough to drive Colin and Jordan apart, or will they make their way together in this small town.

Review: Meeting an old crush is what started Colin Baker on a series of events gave him both pain and joy. The pain of living in a town that refuses to understand him and the joy of finding love. This book had such potential to be great but it was so predictable, it bordered on un-realistic. The same day that he ran into his high school crush, Officer Jordan Hargrove, the same crush that made his high school days a loving hell, is the same day that Jordan explains why he was mean in school and all was forgiven, just like that, years of resentment vanished into thin air. This book had way too many contradictions, one minute Colin is supposed to be shy but he does things that no shy person does. Another, Colin refuses to be in a secret relationship yet he does have one with Jordan, who, by the way, understands that Colin has a son and does not want to hide but still makes them hide anyway. Reviewed by Nathifa

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


feature sneak peek

Rhea Woodruff Born Special

When Rhea Woodruff was born, her doctors were concerned. After some testing, they concluded she would probably never walk or talk. As time progressed, Rhea proved them wrong, but the full scope of her developmental delays were clearly evident. Despite her disability, Rhea remained determined to overcome the obstacles in her life, and she has developed into a kind, caring, and capable individual. All she ever wanted was to find love and be treated like everyone else. After much heartache and many disappointments, her dreams of becoming a wife, mother, and author are now a reality. Rhea hopes readers will find inspiration in her candid chronicle of rebounding from adversity. Born Special proves that the toughest challenges in life can be overcome. By sharing the outcome of her personal When I was three months old, my struggles, Rhea has succeeded in mother was well aware that I did not delivering the message that you should reach the benchmarks of her other never give up on your dreams. children. I did not roll over, make any effort to lie on my stomach, or attempt any crawling motions, so my mom knew something was not right. Her in laws insisted that I needed a medical evaluation so we went to Duke University Hospital, where I went though a series of tests. The results were devastating. They told my mother that I would not walk and would probably never be able to verbalize or read. As I mentioned earlier, she knew something wasn’t right but this was much more than she had anticipated. When I was a baby, I would sit in my crib and wait for my mom to say Good Morning and feed me. She was always there for me whenever I started crying or wanted to be held. She did a great job raising me and helping me grow. As a child, I didn’t know I was developmentally delayed and would have to try harder than normal people to understand things or fit in. I was eager to learn and wanted to learn as much as I could. I feel that I need to tell this story about my life and that others like me will identify with it and how it relates to their lives. my life has not been easy, and I remember many times when I was laughed at or picked on.

When I become old enough, my parents enrolled me in the local school. at that time, my father was stationed in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I attended school in Gretna. After the first marking period, they attended the school’s open house and met my teacher. After entering the classroom, my parents asked where my desk was. The teacher showed him a desk in the corner, facing the wall. When they asked why my desk was there, the explanation given was that I needed to concentrate. Needless to say, my parents succeeded in getting me out of that environment, and by the next day, I was enrolled in another kindergarden in the same area. How any teacher could be so cruel to a sweet child who never had a discipline problem is beyond me.

Born in 1973, Rhea Woodruff was raised in a military family. As a result, she and her family moved every four years. Along the way, she met a number of special people, and had many incredible experiences, both good and bad. As a result of her severe learning disability, she has worked harder than most people to fit in and to do a good job; and as a result she has accomplished much in her life. Rhea loves to write. Her dream has been to become a published author; and with the publication of her first book, Growing Up Special, her dream became reality. “Don’t give up on your dreams,” says Rhea. “They will come true if you don’t give up on them.” Rhea lives in New Orleans area and plans to enjoy being an author for the first time while working on her next book.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


Introducing the new BTS Customer Awards!

BTS CUSTOMER AWARDS: *New for 2015! BTS Best Book *New criteria! BTS Rising Star *New for 2015! BTS Debut Author *New for 2015! BTS Best Anthology *New criteria! BTS Best Cover *No review needed for BTS Customer Awards, see site for details.

Wrap Up ARC 2015 Nola

July 30th - August 1st by Babs Hightower

Arriving in New Orleans was a feat all in itself but a fun trip none the less. Friday morning started off strong with the Bling Your Badge with the authors. BJ Gaskill and I had a fun time. Many authors showed up to get their stickers. The Minions were not safe everyone wanted a minion sticker.

authors. We have a great turn out and everyone got involved with the discussions. Some of the tips- Do not use a form letter to contact a blogger to review. Use their right name on the email. Be sure to go look at their blog and see what they are currently reading and see if your book fits. Say something personal about their blog that way they know you really did come by and look.

Left to right- Kelli, Jennifer, Jillian and Babs

After everyone got their badges looking pretty it was time for the panels. I was involved in two. Teaming up with Bloggers & Online Promotion. There were four of us on the panel. Jillian (Busy Moms Blogs), Kelli (Totally Talented Promotions), Jennifer (Wickedly Innocent Promotions and myself (Babs Book Bistro). A lot of things were brought up from how to approach a blogger for reviews, Amazon reviews, what to do and not do with bloggers and

Next up was Promtions Village Style by Myra Nour (BTS CEO & Author) and Babs Hightower (Review Coordinator & Promotions Director for BTS) Myra and I had a great time with the authors and what they need to do to promote. Myra had a spider web with various items as you can see below.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| Nola 2015 |

| Babs Hightower |

As mentioned no one has time for all of these but if the author takes time to do a few of the above good things will come of your books and yourself. Readers want to know about the author and will find you all over the internet. They want to know you are a real person. There are so many things you can do for promotions that are free or cheaper than you think.

Friday night we have a dinner hosted by ARC & BTS and we had a nice turn out. The food was wonderful.

borrowing things from each other. The big night started at 6 pm everyone was happy and excited we even had a hot model (Ani Saliasi) escorting the ladies down the isle. I want to take a minute before I go on Ani is in the military and we want to thank him for all his hard work in protecting us and our country. He is about to ship out again.

Myra and Babs calling out awards

Ani escorting Meda White after her award.

Simon, Babs, Myra, Abbi Gaines, Addam Bramich (actor) and Abbi’s friend, Miranda Shanklin and her husband.

Red Carpet Awards As you can see Myra, myself, Gwen and Savannah were all working hard to get the ball room ready for the awards. We had 30 minutes to get ourselves ready for the event. We had some fun times running around and 96 |

Myra and J.M. Barlog

Simon, Myra and Ani-who by the way won Mr. BTS

| Nola 2015 |

| Babs Hightower |

Ani & Vicki Dold at the Book Signing

I will close with this funny that no one will ever let me forget. Ani and I for a picture and I accidently grabbed his butt yes the chair was really in the way. Thank you Ani for being such a good sport and keeping me company while your ladies where waiting for their awards.

Haunted Tours

Myra and Milly Taiden

You can find more pictures about the convention here. Workshop

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


Young Adult | New Adult


BEYOND the fairy TALE

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| Funny Arithmetic for Bored Fossils | “Bogey, I’m bored,” the Dragon said. “Start writing a blog,” the Bogey said.

In his interests, the Dragon put princesses and gold and for location, cave. On the first day, fourteen users subscribed to his blog. “Who are the people?” the Dragon asked the Bogey. Those people were seven gnomes, four accountants, two speleologists, and one pedophile. The Bogey whispered, “Specify your sex.” The Dragon typed male. As soon as he took his claws off the keyboard, 340 users subscribed: 300 maids, 30 princesses, 9 maids passing themselves off as princes, and 1 knight, for some reason. “I don’t know what I should talk about with them,” the Dragon complained, “Maybe I should write I love knights too?” “Add culinary to your interests,” the Bogey said. This interest helped the blog to get four cooks, but the next day the Dragon learned one accountant, three gnomes, and fourteen maids left. “Why!” the Dragon yelled. The loss proved to be shrewd, so much that he suffered as though someone bucketed up his pile of gold and ran away. “Because you write nothing,” the Bogey explained, “Blogs are for writing, reading, sharing the loot, and making wars.” “How complicated,” the Dragon muttered under 102 |

his breath, “Really, I have no time to write entries. I was about to abduct a maid today.” “Abduct and write about it.” Waiting till the Dragon left, the Bogey logged in, came to the thousand-friend-blogger Lancelot and wrote: “At the latest joust, you fenced poorly.” Then the Bogey came to the multi-thousandfriend-blogger Merlin and wrote: “At the latest battle, you conjured poorly.” Then he came to Guinevere and wrote: “When flying above Camelot, I saw you. You must lose weight.” He duplicated all the comments on the blog. Returning home, the Dragon flopped down on the enormous pile of gold and began twiddling his thumbs. A picture of health, the Maid sulked and refrained from any contact. “Scratch my back,” the Dragon said. The Maid snorted and turned away. “Make a cup of cacao for me?” the Dragon asked. “What next!” the Maid growled out, watching her own nails. “By the way . . . I have a blog,” the Dragon said timidly. The Maid’s face lit up, “May I take a look?” The Dragon logged in and . . . opened his eyes wide. Fifteen hundred knights, sword-bearers, servants, ploughmen, princesses, maids, and some incomprehensible entities had subscribed in order to admire the event when the Dragon would be torn to pieces. The thousand-friend-blogger Lancelot, the multi-thousand-friend-blogger Merlin, and Queen Guinevere along with all their fans camped on his blog. “Oh!” the Maid said, “How many comments you have! Do you like Lancelot? I think he’s cutie!” “And I think he’s cootie,” the Dragon said sullenly. He visited Lancelot’s page and wrote: “Forgive me. I did not want to hurt your feelings. It’s the devil’s work. You fence with humans fairly well, maybe very well, though against a dragon you are

| Lara Biyuts | good for nothing, anyway. Forgive me once again, but it’s true.” Then he wrote to Merlin: “Forgive me. I did not want to hurt your feelings. It’s the devil’s work. You are a tough sorcerer among humans, though against a dragon’s magic you are good for nothing, anyway. Forgive me once again, but it’s true.” To Guinevere he wrote: “Don’t lose weight. Your bum is nice, so big and soft. Dragons are not dogs. They don’t pounce upon bones.” “There . . . I’ve apologized,” the Dragon said to the Maid. The next week was busy. The Dragon stopped abducting princesses and fighting with knights; he heaped up the cave’s entrance with a boulder, and made the inscription: “Left for Tenerife.” To the Maid he gave a slate and a piece of chalk to write down the increase and decrease of his blog’s readers. The Bogey prompted the Dragon to give nicknames to the apostates and witty remarks to the address of the thousandfriend-blogger Lancelot, the multi-thousand-friendblogger Merlin, and Queen Guinevere with all their fans. Business is business. By the weekend, the battle began to decline. The watchers got bored and began scattering. The Dragon made his peace with Lancelot; Merlin removed him to “Ignore,” Guinevere butted in the discussion about diets and disappeared on page thirteen. Fifty-four trolls, eleven elves and one “pixy practicing bogeying” subscribed to the blog. The Dragon and the Maid jubilated. Having a little rest, the Dragon wrote an account about abducting the Maid. A gifted artist, the Bogey made a picture of

the moment when the Maid was carried away in the claws: the Dragon flapping wings and giving out the open flame, the Maid squealing, the skirts flying on the wind (view from below). “I ought to lose weight!” the Maid said proudly. The Dragon gladly counted the new readers. But one accountant unsubscribed. Concerned about this last, the Dragon wrote an entry about gold. Seven gnomes, King Midas, and tax administrations of all neighboring kingdoms subscribed. Six knights, above taking money, unsubscribed. The Dragon grunted and wrote an entry about peculiarities of a siege castles from the air. One king, one thousand knights, and someone nicknamed Icarus subscribed. All princesses unsubscribed. The Dragon howled and asked help of the Maid. Together, they concocted an entry about the next season vogue. Thinking a little, the Dragon added a recipe of a knight stewed in panoply. Six intellectual maids and one nervous knight unsubscribed as well as forty men who proved to be vegetarians. “Damn them,” the Bogey gave the piece of advice and gagged his mouth with the tufted tip of his tail not to burst out laughing. The Dragon grunted and subscribed to communities “Let’s Damn All Together” (moderator Morgana) and “Voodoo Ado” (moderator Sabbath). His entry with the literate and ornately developed damnation (to the seventh generation) quickly reached the top. Hundreds of witches, thirteen necromancers, and the community “Great Inquisitor” (moderators Sprenger and Institoris) left his blog, and forty-nine users unsubscribed for different reasons. The Dragon stopped eating; his cheeks got sunken. At night, he wept and called mammy; in his sleep, he saw mobs of unknown users, who subscribed and, in another moment, unsubscribed, Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| Funny Arithmetic for Bored Fossils | roaring with satanic laughter. The Maid stroked his head gently and gave some milk. On the seventh night, she found a pair of gold scissors in the pile of gold and cut the cable. There was no Wi-Fi in the cave. With no blogs, the Dragon became animated. Looking healthier, he began some physical exercises, namely, stealing sheep and princesses. Then he took his Maid to Tenerife, and then they returned, and it all went all right, but . . . “Bogey, I’m bored,” the Dragon said. “Hmm . . .” The Bogey became thoughtful, and then he said, “Join a writing contest.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR A Smashwords author and translator, Lara Biyuts lives in Russia, writing in English. She is proud to be a Goodreads librarian. Her self-published works are available at Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Smashwords,, iTunes, Amazon, Kobo. Please visit Lara at view/lasept.

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reviews young adult | new adult | childrens

The Star Child

Stephanie Keyes Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

The world is about to be cloaked in darkness. Only one can stop the night. Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. When the sudden death of his Gran takes him from the East coast to the rugged cliffs of Western Ireland, all that changes. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role. Suddenly, Kellen finds himself on the run through a Celtic underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of hellhounds, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time? Review: The Star Child was a breath of fresh air. The world and cast of characters Ms. Keyes created is unique and vivid. The male protagonist, Kellen, was easy to empathize with and is a character you cheer for. Each chapter was chockfull of surprises and twists that kept me reading, needing to know what happened next. Most impressive in this novel is the mythology and folklore woven carefully throughout. It was unlike anything I’ve read before. There’s a nice helping of romance as well. Kellen seems like an unlikely hero amongst Gods, but therein lies the surprise. It’s one you don’t see coming. If you’re a lover of mythology, young adult and romance, look no further. Pick The Star Child up… You won’t be disappointed. The first in a series, The Star Child will leave you satisfied, but you’ll want to revisit this world… soon!

Come to Me Quietly A.L. Jackson Young Adult Heat Rating: 3

Aleena Moore is haunted by Jared Holt. It’s been six years since she’s seen her brother’s best friend, the selfdestructive bad boy she secretly loved in high school. As the years pass, she knows it’s time to move on. Time to decide between a practical nursing degree and her true dream as an artist. Time to get over Jared and give another guy a chance… Just when she opens her heart to her friend, Gabe, Aly returns home to find Jared sleeping on her couch. The teenage boy she loved has grown into a man she can’t resist. Covered in tattoos and lost in rage, he’s begging to be saved from his demons—the memories of the day he destroyed his family. As the two reconnect, their passion is hot enough to torch Aly’s judgment. But can she risk her future for a man who lives on the edge of destruction? Review: This is the first A.L. Jackson novel I’ve read and certainly will not be the last. This novel did justice to the NA genre. It was a ball of sweet, tender, and tragic all rolled up into one heartbreaking, beautiful, and haunting novel. Reviewed by Sasha Hibbs

Reviewed by Sasha Hibbs

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews young adult | new adult | childrens

Powerless (The Hero Agenda #1)

Shari Green

Young Adult Heat Rating: 2

Kenna is tired of being “normal.” The only thing special about her is that she isn’t special at all. Which is frustrating when you’re constantly surrounded by superheroes. Her best friend, her exboyfriend, practically everyone she knows has some talent or power. Sure, Kenna’s smart and independent, but as an ordinary girl in an extraordinary world, it’s hard not to feel inferior. So when three villains break into the lab where she interns, Kenna refuses to be a victim. She’s not about to let criminals steal the research that will make her extraordinary too. But in the heat of battle, secrets are spilled and one of the villains saves her life. Twice. Suddenly, everything Kenna thought she knew about good and evil, heroes and villains is upended. And to protect her life and those she loves, she must team up with her sworn enemies on a mission that will redefine what it means to be powerful and powerless..14+ due to adult situations Review: Kenna, the powerless of the title, narrates this YA novel in present tense. That is a somewhat risky point of view to use and I think it might be responsible for some of the minuses of this book. The story takes place in a very enclosed environment, where there is no sense of what the rest of the world or the population is like, when it is happening… No world building. The secondary characters, particularly the villains and Rebel, are more sympathetic than the protagonist. Although she describes herself as smart, she misses important clues and is slow on the uptake. There is a fine line between being independent and determined and being obnoxious. The novel improves towards the end, with intriguing plotlines and mysteries left unsolved for the next instalment. The issues in the first novel might be solved throughout the series and the overall message is positive. Reviewed by Olga Núñez Miret

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Z Children

Eli Constant and B.V. Barr Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Our kids are no longer our future… They’re our demise. Humanity’s advancements in medicine, meant to eliminate disease and extend life, have led to a macabre reality of childhood vaccinations gone terribly wrong. Kids have transformed, changed into ravenous beasts that are nightmarishly quick, disproportionally strong, and void of empathy. Yet, there are survivors- individuals who, by luck, skill, or circumstance, lived through the initial wave of destruction. These ‘lucky’ ones will join together, bonded in their quest for survival. They will try to maintain their humanity in a world where children have graduated from bubble baths to blood baths. And they will try to find an answer to the only question that matters: What will tomorrow bring? Review: Z Children is one of my worst nightmares come to life. Zombie kids. There’s nothing worse than freaky kids. There is something horrific about the idea of such innocence being corrupted in such a disgusting way. Constant and Barr have a way with words that leaves the reader stunned and excited at the same time. This was a great book. We get to watch the world around us crumble through the eyes of several different characters. I really liked how Constant changed up the perspectives and how they intersect. The characters were easy to relate to and believable in their journeys. I enjoyed every aspect of this book even though it freaked me out. I do wish the author had been more clear on how the outbreak started. I had a bit of trouble with the timeline and vaccine explanation, so I hope that is clarified in future books. It was a quick story and a must read if you like zombies. Reviewed by Melanie M

feature sneak peek

Nikki Jefford

Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter If there is one thing eighteen-year-old Aurora Sky wants, it’s to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn’t hurt either. Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora’s life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter. In Alaska. Basically she’s a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type, which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis right before she has to finish the job... by hand. Now Aurora’s only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire.

Fane grinned as I walked past. “Shouldn’t you be in class?” “Shouldn’t you?” He pushed off the wall and walked toward me. “We’ve missed you in gym. I enjoyed your little performance the other day.” I turned my head to follow Fane’s movements as he circled me. “I’m glad to see that you’re feeling better,” he continued. “Yep. Never better.” He stared at the red scarf around my neck. I didn’t take my eyes off him. “Good,” he said slow and sensual. He stepped in my path as I tried to walk past. My heartbeat quickened. There had to be something seriously sick about feeling turned on by a person who pissed me off.

My jaw tightened. “Get out of my way, unless you want me to drop you the way I dropped Clayton.” Fane’s teeth flashed when he grinned. He stepped aside. “Careful, Aurora, I might take you down with me.” I hurried past him, feeling his smile on my back the entire way. Now I had a whole other reason to avoid gym besides loathing the class. To think I actually wanted to dance with the scoundrel at winter ball. I’d sooner dance with a viper.

Nikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan now living in the Pacific Northwest. She loves fictional bad boys and heroines who kick butt. She writes fast-paced paranormal romance novels for mature young adults and older. Books, motion pictures, TV series, hiking, writing and motorcycle riding are her favorite escapes.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


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Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


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Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | Horrror



Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |



reading trends in mystery & more

Scrying EYE The

Kelly Hudson

Haunted Motels, Haunted Pasts, Vampires on the Prowl, and the Undead Rising! Hello! Welcome, my lovers of wicked little tales of murder, suspense, and horror! Step right inside, travel down the dark hallway, and focus your vision on the flickering light at corridor’s end. There lies the sitting room, and in the middle is the Scrying Eye, open and ready to divulge stories sure to amaze, thrill, and even scare you (just a little bit). Sit down, gaze into the depths of the Eye as it stares back at you. Come, share the visions of the future . . .

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| The Scrying Eye |

Suspense/Mystery The Night Sister: A Novel by Jennifer McMahon (Doubleday—available now) is the latest novel from this New York Times best-selling author and features an atmospheric and suspenseful tale. The once-thriving Tower Motel in rural Vermont stands in disrepair, neglected but for the haunted remembrances of Amy, Piper, and Margot, three girls who played there as youngsters until the day they discovered the motel’s dark and twisted past. Now that they’ve grown up, those awful recollections behind them, Piper receives a call from Margot and finds out Amy is accused of a horrific crime. Now the girls must delve into their memories of the motel and their discoveries there in order to free their falsely accused friend. Will this trip down memory lane lead to even more treacherous discoveries? Read and find out in this harrowing tale of sisterhood and suspense.

Phantom Effect by Michael Aronovitz (Night Shade Books—available February 2016) is the story of Jonathan Martin Delaware Deseronto, a six-foot-five serial killer with a problem (besides a long name). He’s stuck on the highway during a bad thunderstorm with two flat tires and the dead bodies of a cop and a co-ed named Marissa Madison in his trunk. He ditches his car over the edge of a steep slope, and it crashes into the demolition site of an old motel. Seeking shelter in the abandoned motel, Deseronto discovers the ghost of Madison has come to haunt him, and not only that, she forces him to relive the memories of her stalking and death by his hands. Deseronto discovers the terror of being stalked by . . . himself. With this unique blend of the serial killer and ghost genres, Aronovitz brings a new variation to an old genre. With plenty of thrills and chills, this is a novel to

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| Kelly Hudson |

Horror! seek out and preorder. If you like suspense, this one will deliver all you could ever want, and more . . . The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp (Gallery Books—available now) is a twisted tale full of menacing characters and memorable frights. Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang, an antiques dealer who has made a fortune by travelling the globe for the finest of lost objects, has a secret that is both insidious and ingenious: he is a master vampire hunter, killing the undead to reap their priceless hordes of treasure. But things have now flipped, and Sax is being hunted by a vicious, ageless creature bent on getting revenge for all the wrongs Sax has committed against his brethren. Now Sax must assemble a team to find the monster and kill it before it kills not only him, but all he holds dear. Fast action and terrifying thrills help make this story a unique twist on the vampire myth. Read it if you dare! The Zombie Stories of H. P. Lovecraft: Featuring Herbert West—Reanimator and More by H. P. Lovecraft (available September 2015) is a new collection of old horrors. This anthology features six horrifying stories, all published between 1921 and 1933, all centered on both the living and the undead. First up is “The Outsider,” the tale of a shut-in whose loneliness finally drives him out to seek human contact. Other stories include “Herbert West―Reanimator”; “In the Vault, Cool Air”; “Pickman’s Model”; and “The Thing on the Doorstep.” All of these are classic tales of shock and fear. Lovecraft is the undisputed master of horror, the biggest name since Poe and before King, and all who love a tale of ripping terror will appreciate what his writes. There are numerous repackagings of Lovecraft’s work, most cynical ploys to wring as much money from the stories as possible. This collection looks to be no exception, banking on the current popularity of the living dead to try and sell older property. However, who really cares? This serves as a fabulous introduction to the most important writer in horror history. So buy it, crack it open, and go ahead—try to sleep with the lights off!

And there it is, boys and girls, men and women, lovers of the macabre and thrilling! The Eye has shown you its hidden depths, tales that will both terrify and delight. But now the Eye closes, going back to its natural, restive state, better able to look into the future to spy new stories of murder and mayhem, terror and chills. Go home, take all that you have learned with you. Hold this knowledge close to your hearts, and when the time is right, strike! Find these tales, and let them take you away if only for a little while. And then, when your thirst is slaked, return to the parlor, for the Eye will open once again . . .

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

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Peril by Ponytail Nancy J. Cohen Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 1

Marla and Dalton’s honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch veers from dangerous to downright deadly faster than a horse headed to the corral. With her husband’s uncle--the resort’s owner--on the suspect list for murder, Marla races to prove his innocence. She hopes her blind trust isn’t misplaced, especially when she learns their relative has secrets he’d rather keep buried. As the bodies pile up, she digs deep to find the killer. With her new family in jeopardy, she’d better figure out who’s adding to the spirits haunting a nearby ghost town before someone she loves is hurt. Review: This is the first book in the Bad Hair Day Cozy Mystery series by Nancy J. Cohen that I have read. I will be getting the others in the series to read. Marla Vail, hair salon proprietor, and her new husband Dalton Vail, a homicide detective, are on a belated honeymoon. Dalton’s cousin Wayne runs the dude ranch and asked Marla and Dalton to come help with some problems. The action starts to build as a rattlesnake in Dalton’s luggage appears, a fire and then Carol getting injured things are really getting heated up as more bodies are turning up as well. The author does a great job between all the characters, the storyline, the descriptions and the scenery. Each of them draws you into the book and you never want to stop until the story ends even then you want the story to keep going. A great series you will not be disappointed in reading. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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Demolition of the Heart Cassandra Hawke Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 3

Wade Faxton and Kayla Mackenzie clash head on for the ownership of her beloved family home. They are caught in a web of revenge and sizzling passions that puts both the house and their hearts at risk. Kayla Mackenzie is shocked when she finds out the man she has just made passionate love to is responsible for her priceless paintings being in a charity auction and intends to demolish her beloved family home. Wade has no idea that his inheritance of historical Ainsley House has been carefully orchestrated and that he is just a pawn in a complex plot that will not only deprive Kayla of her beloved family home and her inheritance, but also her life. The thing he hadn’t counted on was the impetuous fiery tempered Kayla stealing his well-guarded heart before he even knew it was at risk. Their confrontations are fierce and explosive as they both determinedly maintain joint residence of the historic house, but they find themselves fighting an entirely different battle as the smouldering attraction between them erupts into an inferno of desire and sexual attraction. They finally get to the truth of how the house came to be in Wade’s hands and Kayla claims her inheritance and strikes a business deal with Wade that will save the House. his door, did he know the face of evil. Review: It was a very suspenseful and very quick read. You’ve got an auction, a mysterious painting or two. A guy who may or may not be who or what he says he is and a girl out to solve a mystery and people determined to not let her solve it. It had some humorous moments and some not so humorous moments and you rooted for the heroine to get all the good she deserves. The main characters were likeable charming and even, if it was a bit quick in the beginning, they did manage to belong together and they did make a nice couple. So if you get a chance, pick up a copy and give it a try. You just might be rather surprised that you’ll like it. Reviewed by Cassandra G

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Eternity’s Handmaiden R. Peter Ubtrent Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 3

Alexis Locke gave the first forty-five years of her life to an agency that never gave a second thought to putting her in harm’s way. After fifteen years of voluntarily retirement and seclusion, she is forced to investigate the seemingly accidental deaths of five unrelated scientists, one of whom turns out to be the son she had to give up at birth. Following the clues that lead her from the mega-biotech companies in Kasakhstan to the orbiting O’Neill Colonies, Alexis quickly learns that she is being set up, that her death is wanted by many and that the deaths she’s investigating have a far bigger connection that anyone ever thought possible, eventually forcing her to question her own existence and purpose. And with that questioning, Alexis soon sees that there is a plan as work handed down from the future from which she can not escape. Review: Alexis was created for one purpose to fix all of the flawed time streams. To do so she must do the unthinkable. Can she understand the importance of this mission before it is too late and she has to repeat the whole process all over again? Normally I would say you will have to read this book to find out, unfortunately, this time I would not recommend it. The premise behind this book is well thought out and the characters are believable. However, the execution of the story is long and boring. The descriptions of the environments while very through are repetitive and can be tedious. This story is in the science fiction category, but it takes you reading the first four chapters before you even realize it. The parts in the story about the aliens were confusing because they were inserted into the story randomly with no warning or explanation. This issue could have been solved by simply stating at the beginning of the chapter where the reader was located. This story would be great as a full-length movie but is the way to boring as a book. If you like slow to start science fiction and long winded repetitive descriptions then this book is for you if you like fast paced action then stay away. Even with the redeeming ending this book is hard to swallow. Reviewed by Cassandra G

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


feature sneak peek

Nancy J. Cohen Peril by Ponytail

Marla and Dalton’s honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch veers from dangerous to downright deadly faster than a horse headed to the corral. With her husband’s uncle--the resort’s owner--on the suspect list for murder, Marla races to prove his innocence. She hopes her blind trust isn’t misplaced, especially when she learns their relative has secrets he’d rather keep buried. As the bodies pile up, she digs deep to find the killer. With her new family in jeopardy, she’d better figure out who’s adding to the spirits haunting a nearby ghost town before someone she loves is hurt.

Dalton flung her to the ground and shielded her with his body as the chandelier crashed to the floor with a huge clang and the sound of shattering glass. Clouds of dust and slivers of crystal billowed into the air. “Uncle Ray, are you all right?” he called once the debris had settled. “I’m still here. Are you guys okay?” Marla, crushed under her husband, wriggled free. “We’re fine. Aren’t we?” She brushed off her clothes after Dalton helped her to stand. Her body trembled. She folded her arms across her chest while her racing heart calmed. “That was close,” Dalton said, his face somber. His gaze scanned the catwalks, as did Marla’s. She didn’t discern anything unusual. Had she imagined the shadow before? Or the hint of laughter in her ears now? Historic theatres would never again hold the same appeal for her. Raymond’s eyes blazed behind his spectacles. “This wasn’t any accident. We could have been killed.” “I should go up there and take a look around.” Dalton turned to Marla. “Why don’t you wait outside? It’s not safe in here.” “All right, but please be careful.” She couldn’t leave this place too soon in her opinion. Waiting on the street, she considered who might have been following their movements. Somebody had noticed them entering the old theatre and had taken advantage of the opportunity to cause harm. Had it been a member of Raymond’s crew or someone else? “How well do you know your workers?” she asked Raymond when he and Dalton had rejoined her. Dalton’s negative shake of the head indicated his mission hadn’t proven fruitful.

“We’re on passable terms. I wouldn’t say I know each guy personally.” “Did you hire them yourself?” “I brought in Gomez. He vetted the applicants. Don’t worry, they’re legal. They each had to show their documents, and I had my lawyer verify them. We wouldn’t risk skirting the law.” “By we, you mean yourself and Gomez?” Raymond’s gaze shuttered. “That’s right.” Somehow she didn’t think he’d meant his foreman. Drilling noises impacted her ears. Marla inhaled a deep breath of earthscented mountain air to restore her equilibrium. Raymond gestured expansively. “Let me show you the hearse before you go. We discovered it intact, and it only needed a bit of polish.” He led them down the street at a fairly steep decline. A hearse. Oh, joy. They’d nearly ended up in one.

Nancy J. Cohen writes the humorous Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring hairdresser Marla Vail, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Nancy is also the author of <i>Writing the Cozy Mystery</ i>, a valuable instructional guide on how to write a winning whodunit.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


feature sneak peek

T.A. Kunz One Tiny Secret

Being the daughter of the sheriff in a small town like Holden Ridge means that eighteen-year-old Danielle “Dani” Marks’ life is under constant surveillance. She’s made a habit of staying under the radar by being a floater among social circles at school, which has kept her out of trouble--until now. After a missing persons case stirs up the entire town, Dani finds herself caught right in the middle of the scandal. When she’s labeled a possible suspect, things quickly go from bad to worse. The sudden return of her old flame, Parker Reed, manages to make her whole situation even more complicated. Who can she trust when anyone around her could be a suspect? One thing’s for certain though: Never underestimate the power of one tiny secret.

As I flip on the flashlight app on my phone, the path becomes illuminated. The rough terrain, full of leaves and branches, crackles underneath my feet as I make my way through, causing me to feel uneasy. The noise from the party fades as I venture deeper into the woods. The darkness is pitch black and the only lit area is wherever my phone’s light hits. The path takes a sharp turn to the left and I keep following it. I find it ironic that I’m dressed as Little Red and wandering through the forest alone. I laugh to myself, and then hear a loud cracking noise off to my left. Quickly panning to the side, I hope my light will catch whatever just made that sound. There’s nothing there. I continue on until the trail ends at two long, white tables with five large silver kegs perched on top of them. They’re each labeled with what’s inside and I immediately go for the pumpkin ale. I place my phone back in my pocket and set the picnic basket on the table before grabbing two red Solo cups. I take a sip of the one I fill for myself before filling the next one for Janice. The beer is so good that I keep it in my mouth and let it swirl around to savor the flavor. “Damn, I love pumpkin beer,” I say after swallowing it. I hear rustling behind me and spin around, dropping my beer in the process. “Shit. Way to go, spaz.” After my surprise subsides, I groan, looking down at the little river of deliciousness flowing out of the cup into the dirt. Taking another cup, I fill it and then attempt to grab the other one while picking up my basket at the same time. I reach for my phone to use its light again, but it’s difficult to balance everything. “Well, this wasn’t thought out very well, now was it, self?” There’s rustling behind me again, only this time it sounds louder, as if it’s right

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there, but I don’t see anything. Actually, I can’t see much at all in front of me at the moment because the little camping lantern, which is currently providing the only source of light in the area, barely even shines on the beer kegs. I panic and place the cups and the basket back on the table so I can pull out my cell phone. I fumble with the phone and it falls to the ground. “Dammit,” I mutter when I hear the rustling start up again. While feeling around for the phone on the ground I hear footsteps in the distance. I feel the cold plastic of the phone under my hand and pull it to me. Unlocking the screen as quickly as my fingers will allow, I turn on the flashlight app and shine it up the path. A sudden scream slips through my lips when I catch a glimpse of someone standing there.

Author T.A. Kunz has always had a fondness for reading thrilling mysteries and actionpacked urban fantasies. It is no surprise that when T.A. decided to write stories that they’d fall into one of those two genres. T.A. lives in Central Florida with two fur babies and a mechanical engineer who also happens to be quite the culinary badass.

T.A. Kunz

Sensual Romance and Erotics of all genres, shapes and sizes

see BEHIND closed DOORS


Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


trends reading trends in erotic

Heat DIVA The

Kayla Lords

Witches, Ghosts, and Paranormal Erotica—Oh My! Halloween is almost here, and all things scary, creepy, and ookie (is that a word?) are popping up everywhere. I hate being scared or creeped out. Blame it on an overactive imagination. I couldn’t even watch Unsolved Mysteries back in the day. Raise your hand if you remember that show. Instead of searching out erotica meant to horrify, I’ve got witches, genies, ghosts, and other paranormal fun for you to check out. Personally, I’m all for the authors that can add suspense

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


| The Heat Diva | and wait for life to unscrew itself. Things would have gone just fine, if not for the witch in the airport shoving her way to the front of the line. He had every intention of letting her know how little he appreciated her rudeness . . . then he looked into her eyes and felt the chains around his heart clink to the floor.

Sacrificed to the Dragon, Parts #1–4 by Jessie Donovan (Stonefire Dragons, #1, Mythical Lake Press—available now) Paranormal erotic romance Stars: 4 Heat: 4.5 In exchange for a vial of dragon’s blood to save her brother’s life, Melanie Hall offers herself up as a sacrifice to one of the British dragon-shifter clans. Being a sacrifice means signing a contract to live with the dragonshifters for six months to try to conceive a child. Her assigned dragonman, however, is anything but easy. He’s tall, broody, and alpha to the core. There’s only one problem—he hates humans. My take: Where have dragon-shifters been all my life? Sure, I know about bears, wolves, and big cats. But dragons?! Yes, it’s as hot—literally and figuratively—as it sounds. Melanie’s a strong chick who doesn’t take crap, but she’s also able to bend when necessary. The sex was hot. The romance was strong. And I am so glad I read the boxed set because the cliffhangers would have killed me! The Genie’s Witch by Lyn Brittan (The Djinn Series, #1, Gryy Brown Press—available now) Paranormal erotic romance Stars: 4 Heat: 4 A genie down on his luck, Tig wanted nothing more than to get to Vegas 126 |

My take: I knew when they got a little freaky on the plane ride within a few minutes of meeting that this was going to be a good one. Genies and witches need love and hot sex just as much as the rest of us. Am I right? I was pulled right in and wanted to read more of the series once I was done. Don’t worry, this is a standalone so no cliffhangers! The Para-Portage of Emily by Muffy Wilson (Shadow Seduction Series, #1, Secret Cravings Publishing—available now) Paranormal erotic romance Stars: 5 Heat: 4 Emily Macque, a young, beautiful junior partner in her father’s law firm, is but a heartbeat away from love or destiny. Duty brings Emily to a frozen Island estate two-hundred and fifty miles north of Chicago. Devotion requires she delve into the property history to settle an estate probate. Death lures her into the arms of the shadows seduction created by the flickering light and dark shadows. My take: This is a haunting, beautiful story of love, self-discovery, and the choices we make. I was blown away by the scene the author set, the amount of emotion she evoked in her characters (and me as the reader), and even with all that, the eroticism in each scene. I was peering into shadows after this one, wondering if such seduction was possible. Gosh, I hope so.

| Kayla Lords | Red Moon by Elizabeth Kelly (Red Moon Second Generation #1, Indie Book—available now) Paranormal erotic romance Stars: 4 Heat: 4.5 Many years have passed since the Great War that destroyed over three quarters of the world’s population. Now, humans and supernaturals alike have learned how to survive in the new world. For Avery Hendrin, the eldest daughter of the man who brought light back to the world, life has taken a turn for the worse. Sold into slavery after her father’s death, Avery’s only concern is keeping her younger sister safe. Branded as a witch and rejected by her own kind because of her red hair, Avery resigns herself to a life in the slave house until a chance meeting with a powerful Lycan named Tristan Williams. My take: If we’re talking paranormal and fantasy, you know we need another shifter story, right? My emotions ran the gambit with this one. I was turned on by Avery and Tristan’s heat. I cried at the injustices she faced. I got mad when people meddled in their lives—and you know someone has to meddle, right? Red Moon is the first in a series but not a cliffhanger. I can’t wait to read more from this author and learn more about the world she’s created. The Mark by Arla Dahl (Immoral Virtue, #1, Brooklyn Rose Press—available now) Dark erotica Stars: 4 Heat: 5 In 1600’s New England, it was decreed thus: “Whoever lies with the beast will bear a mark that is insensible and in their most secret parts, and may be located only through diligent and careful search.”

must strip for the masses and submit to the Governor’s inspection. She is ill-prepared for this shameful, grueling probe as it permits him to see and test her every inch and every hollow. My take: Hot, hot, hot! A lot of BDSM touches throughout this one, and consent is dubious at times—which only makes sense considering the plot line of a “grueling probe.” It’s a quick read that steamed up my Kindle in a big way. It was almost too short, but the story did the job of making me want to read more in the series. Best of all, just when you think it’s over, there’s a kinky, erotic twist.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Kayla Lords is an erotic author, sex blogger, and freelance writer who\’d rather write smut than anything else. She\’s also a kinkster in the BDSM lifestyle who wants people to get turned on by BDSM but not scared by it. A sarcastic, introverted, tea drinker, she usually laughs too loud and often thinks inappropriate thoughts. Visit Kayla at

Accused of witchcraft, Abigail Prescott Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews erotic | senusal romance


Ker Dukey

Erotic Heat Rating: 5

This is an International Best-selling NA/ Dark erotic romance novel. Warning this book will mess with your mind. It’s a dark, sexy, twisted romance novel. 18+ only. The follow up title Desolate is out now! Blake: I am a brother I am a police detective I am a contract killer I don’t want to love I don’t want to feel I don’t want … EMPATHY. Melody: I was a daughter I was a student I was a victim Did I have his love? Did I make him feel? Did I have his empathy? Review: This is a book I heard about forever and never had the chance to read until now. As the terms goes, “better late than never”. “Empathy” by Ker Dukey is an erratic and mind bending trip of a read. With brothers Blake and Ryan that hypnotize you and make you fall for their charming and menacing ways. Blake is a cop and a killer for hirer. When a hit gone bad throws him into the path of sweet and innocent Melody, Blake’s world is thrown for a loop. He never has feelings for anyone, he wasn’t suppose to care so much for this girl, but fate told him differently. Loved how the story kept you glued from page one right until the very end. Basically everything you read in this novel is not what it appears to be. So a word of caution: hold onto your heart. You are in for one bumpy and bloody ride. Reviewed by Lynn

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A Promise at Dawn Jane Leopold Quinn Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Faye Burke, recently widowed, retreated to the coast of Maine to grieve and reassess her future. Her favorite part of the day is watching the sun rise out of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also when the man she considers her guilty pleasure runs along the beach. Gil Farrelly, a successful painter, is trying to get his career back on track after the studio fire that destroyed everything. He starts his creative juices flowing every day by running on the beach. The lovely woman who watches him also gets his juices flowing and he’s determined to reinvent his career by painting her. Faye’s combination of maturity and sensual vulnerability intrigue Gil and he wants to immortalize her on his canvas. She’s flattered, aroused and ultimately frightened of the emotions he incites. He claims not to care he’s younger by twelve years but she believes sooner or later he’ll come to his senses and seek out women his own age. Can Faye conquer her fears? Can Gil prove to her it’s not age separating them but her fear? Review: Faye Burke is trying to get a handle on her life after loosing her husband Ken. Though his death was not unexpected she is having a hard time with her feelings of loss and loneliness. She decides to spend some time at the coast to unwind and come to grips with life. She is an early riser and enjoys sitting on her deck watching the ocean – it’s soothing to her soul. On one of these early mornings the silence is broken by Gil Farrelly on his morning run casually saying good morning. Gil sees Faye a couple of more mornings and stops to chat and ask if he can paint her. The two get together for dinner and discuss the painting Gil wants to do of her. As Gil and Faye become more acquainted they each find the other is recovering for their own losses. Gil has lost his life’s work when his gallery burns to the ground destroying everything. Gil is trying to rebuild his gallery and wants to do a painting of Faye. She agrees and as the painting progresses so does their attraction for each other. There is an age difference between them that is a roadblock for Faye but as time goes by Gil begins to fall for Faye and with time and some ups and downs Faye decides to just enjoy life. This was a very enjoyable read I liked the character development and how the story flowed until the last page. I look forward to reading more of Jane Leopold Quinn’s books. Reviewed by Susan C

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews erotic | senusal romance

Calculated Collision C.A. Szarek

Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Special Agent Lee Dawson has secrets. Secrets that forced her from Dallas to New York City in disgrace two years ago. Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Nate Crane visits New York and witnesses the brutal murder of a friend. When Lee is assigned to the investigation, her personal and professional life collide. She can’t avoid the man she ditched six months ago. She’s the one Nate can’t stop thinking about. The one he let get away. He’s determined to get her back, no matter what she thinks she wants. Being a witness in her case puts them close— and Nate intends to keep it that way. Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of kidnap and references to human trafficking. Review: It’s an action packed adventure with likeable characters you actually want to root for. They’re really nononsense, witty and charming, with an underlining of steel that you don’t want to mess with. You like agent Selena “Lee” Dawson from the moment you met her and District Attorney Nate Crane, the district attorney who was on vacation and happened to be there when his buddy was gunned down. Lee was forced to put him in protective custody and that was a little tricky since they kind of had a history that nobody knew about. The tension was good, as was the back and forth comradery between the two, and despite their prior history, they really did belong together. Lee’s partner also needs his story told. The villains were complex and some were quite conflicted, but they deserved what they got. So pick up a copy and enjoy. Reviewed by Cassandra G

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Collision Control C.A. Szarek

Erotic Heat Rating: 4

A one-night stand can’t possibly mean forever… Detective Jared Manning met his match at a bar. After a night of passion, she sneaks out of his bed without so much as a note. Problem is, now he can’t find her. Kindergarten teacher Melody Nash doesn’t do one-night stands. Embarrassment gets the best of her and she lies about her name. When they collide at her school, Mel resists his pull. She won’t risk her heart on the obvious playboy, even though she can’t stop thinking about the night in his arms. Stress engulfs both Jared’s personal and professional life. His brother is at the centre of the joint case he and his partner are working in cooperation with FBI. He puts his job on the line when he fails to share his blood relation—a complication he doesn’t need, considering the FBI agent on the case is convinced his brother killed her fiancé. Balance is the name of the game. Can Jared save his brother and convince Mel they’re meant to be together? Reader advisory: This book contains references to past childhood sexual abuse and rape. Review: An action packed goodie with likable characters and an adorable kid and a great story. It had wit charm and a whole lot of adorability in the form of the kid. And even though, Cole was a mouthy somewhat cocky FBI agent with a lone Wolf bad boy image, he really did belong with Detective Andi McLaren, even if they had a rocky beginning. They complimented one another quite nicely and even if they didn’t quite know it at the time. And Andi’s son Ethan from her first marriage was really adorable managed to get along with Cole quite nicely. So if you want an action packed really good read, pick up a copy and enjoy. Reviewed by Cassandra G


Losing Faith

Erotic Heat Rating: 4

Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Charisma Knight

Lucinda is unaware her sultry dreams are about to become a reality. Night after orgasmic night, she succumbs to the wildest dreams she’s ever had at the hands of the mysterious yet familiar vampire. When Marissa leaves for a business trip, Lucinda discovers a memory long forgotten in the sands of time. When her girlfriend returns, Lucinda notices there is more to Marissa than meets the eye. Be Warned: f/f sex

Review:This is a short but intense story. It starts out with an incredibly sexy and steamy sex dream starring Lucinda and Katrina. Katrina is a vampire who has been plaguing Lucinda’s dreams for a few months, much to the displeasure of Lucinda’s girlfriend, Marissa. Reviewed by Melanie

Robbie Cox

“What’s your fantasy?” An innocent enough question asked by Selby to his wife Faith, but it leads them down a journey that may or may not have dire consequences to their relationship. Wanting to please each other, they decide to open up their marriage to other sexual adventures. All is well when they explore their sexual side together, but what if they played with others without the other one present? Sex isn’t always just about sex. As they explore their desires, they discover how it affects not only their marriage, but the relationships around them-family, friends, even work relationships. The question is, will they survive? Review:Losing Faith was a very sexy read. There is a TON of sex scenes and most of them are pretty sweet. This book highlights the relationship between Faith and her husband Selby. They have begun to explore alternative sexual options within their relationship and are learning their path together. Reviewed by Melanie M

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


reviews erotic | senusal romance

Ambushing the Boss

Bondage Included

Erotic Heat Rating: 4

Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Isabelle Drake

A video camera, a too-short-to-ignore skirt and a come-getme attitude—Jake Reed doesn’t stand a chance against Sabrina Weller. Sabrina Weller has just moved to Washington DC and is ready to make the most of city life. nept new president of Steelsmart Corporation, has two problems on his hands. One, his newly acquired company has morale problems. Two, he wants to bed one of his employees. When his vice president arranges for the entire company to go on a retreat on a secluded island, Jake can’t avoid crossing paths with the sweet-talking, fast-living temp who continually teases and tempts him. He’s in over his head and she isn’t about to give up until she gets what she wants. Review:I quite enjoyed this read, the author wrote well and it was a nice and easy read. I felt that the characters were very well developed and were interesting, the male character was definitely someone I would like to meet, he was hot, sexy and intimidating, what more can you ask for, however it seemed that the story ended too quickly as it could have been something much more. Honestly, I think that if these two characters had a novel of their own, where the romance builds over time, and drama takes over, it would have been an amazing read, however I can’t complain, as it was a pretty good read, I just think that it could have been much better. The author definitely did a good job, and I look forward to reading more stories from this particular author, as I imagine they will all be just as good. Reviewed by Nila

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Tori Carson

André would do just about anything to please Adriana, but the one thing she needed, he couldn’t give. Adriana has it bad for André, a consummate bachelor. He owns a kink club and often jokes he’ll die single with a flogger in one hand and a whip in the other. Their instant spark turns into a smoldering fury when she learns he has three live-in trainees. She has no intentions of being one of many. She is a one man kind of girl and she demands the same in return. When a situation arises and Adriana suddenly has André all to herself for nearly four months, she’ll stop at nothing to land her man. Though she lacks his experience, Adriana has more than one surprise up her sleeve. Will she be the woman to curb his bachelor ways? Review:I have to be honest and say that I was quite disappointed in this read, I’m not one to give spoilers so I will say little as possible about the story line itself. I found that the characters were quite dull, they had an interesting persona, but a terrible personality. This read didn’t really catch my attention, which is what I look for in a good read. It took me a while to get through it as It wasn’t keeping my attention, but I tried my best to give it a good go, but I wasn’t very impressed, it contained more dialogue than any action and maybe if the writing style was a little but different I would have found it much more interesting. But from where I stand right now, I wasn’t very impressed and I don’t think I’ll be reading any more from this particular author. Reviewed by Nila

feature book showcase

Cassandre Dayne Shattered

When there’s nowhere to run, no way to hide… Hiding. That’s exactly what movie star Hunter Reynolds has been doing his entire life, preferring to wear a mask made because of his perfected image. An action star, he’s Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor and a real ladies’ man, but prefers the company of men. If discovered, the scandal will end his illustrious career. Unfortunately he has enemies who will stop at nothing to expose him for the man he truly is. While he adores Taylor, his live-in lover and best friend, they aren’t in love and Hunter refuses to be seen in public with him. When Hunter is brutally attacked, he’s uncertain he will ever work in Hollywood again. Sadly, his doctors may be unable to repair the damage. Angry and bitter, Hunter pushes everyone out of his life, including Taylor. Hunter is merely the latest victim in a series of horrific crimes targeting gay entertainers.

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“You must be MacGyver Donovich,” he said, his voice husky from emotion. Mac nodded as he held his hand out. “Taylor Porter. I certainly recognize you but what relation are you to Mr. Reynolds?” As soon as he said the words he realized this was the other man in the damning photograph. Taylor smiled and he eyed the closed room and glanced over at the bank of suits before locking his gaze onto Mac. “Well, you must be the last person in this lousy town that hasn’t painted us as the new hot and troubled Hollywood couple.” “The picture.” Rumors had surrounded both men for years, but there was no way of knowing given the day and age. Unsure of what to say, Mac looked down. “The picture. Don’t worry. Join the bank of embarrassed people. Hell. I’m fucking used to it!” Taylor snapped as he eyed the three men lurking behind Mac. There was more than just casual anger rushing through Taylor. “I’m not embarrassed. I’ve genuinely sorry that some fucking freak would do this kind of thing. There’s no excuse and unfortunately this jerk has beaten up several men in the city over the last several weeks.” “I don’t think this severe.” Taylor rubbed his eyes and looked away. “Really?” The pain in Taylor’s eyes was telling. “Yeah. When I saw him the first time I burst into tears and I…” Taylor’s voice faded away. He cleared his throat and offered a waning smile. “I keep telling myself if I’d just waited and left the club with him then maybe he’d be okay. Shit! I don’t know what the hell is wrong with this world.” “You can’t know that.” He snorted. “Yeah, well try telling that to Hunter. He’ll never be the same. I have no doubt everything he’s worked so hard to achieve with his career is gone.” Mac could hear such bitterness in Taylor as if Hunter’s career mattered more than anything. The notion was certainly close enough to the rumors. “Cops say anything?” Going into reporter mode, Mac pulled out his notebook. “Eh, not yet. There were no fingerprints or any other evidence that they could find and they don’t give a shit about the notes. Matter of fact, I’m not certain they give a shit about this case. Who cares if another gay guy was attacked? Right?” “People care.” His curiosity peaked Mac inched forward. “Notes?” “Yeah. Hunter didn’t want to tell me much and hell now he’s clammed up tightly. Some jerkoff has been

sending him threatening notes about exposing our relationship. I only took a quick glance at the damning things and they say very little. The words are biting but nothing more.” “And the cops didn’t take them?” Mac was surprised. No matter what reason the fact that a major celebrity had been beaten in a common back alley of a club was horrific and the media was all over trying to get additional information. Taylor shook his head. “Hunter threw them away and while one cop jotted down a couple of lines in his report about them I haven’t heard anything else.” “You sure Hunter threw them away?” Mac had covered enough celebrities over the last four years to know that they kept their own version of souvenirs to remind them of whatever was happening in their life. If they were threatened, then notes would be in a secure place. After all, America was one litigious place. “That’s how I noticed the two of them. They were balled up in a trash can. Something just seemed off about them so I took a look.” “Interesting. Why would Hunter hide them from you?” Taylor dropped his head. “We’ve been going through some shit. My guess he didn’t want to worry me.” There was definitely a rift in their relationship. “But you think there are others?” “Yep. I know there were more because of his behavior. Granted, I can’t be sure how many and right now Hunter is doing almost no talking. Not that he can talk very well.” Taylor tossed his head back and grunted. “God, he’s a mess.” Mac wrote down several thoughts and leaned against the wall. “What do you remember about what these threats said?” “Plain white with block lettering and the words were pretty straightforward. Something like ‘faggot, now the world’s gonna know’.” “What did Hunter say about them?” “You don’t know Hunter at all but I suspect given his snarly attitude that you’re going to learn more about him than you care to. Hunter refused to admit to almost everyone that he’s gay. There’s still that Hollywood stigma or so his befuddled muscle men think.” Taylor raised his eyebrow as he shot the men a nasty glare. “Given the few reports I gleaned over, I guess the man is right. They’re out for what blood the man has left. Bastards.” “They can be,” Mac said quietly. “I’m still surprised he didn’t say anything to you given the threat could be about you as well.” Laughing, Taylor clenched his fists. “No, life doesn’t happen that way in the Reynolds’ household.” “But you’re his lover.” “Only when convenient which meant almost never.” “Anything else that matters that you can remember?” Mac

had heard this kind of a story before. Everyone wanted to have the perfect persona in Hollywood. Taylor walked away from the window. “I have to ask you a question. Why did he call you?” “Hunter didn’t. His agent did.” “Ah, damage control,” Taylor snorted. “Look, for what it’s worth I’m the only reporter on all of these cases.” “And why are you? When I heard you were coming I checked out your credentials. This isn’t like the normal glamor stories you normally report on.” Mac fought a flash of anger. Now was not the time or the place to express why or why not. “I have a certain understanding of the gay community. I’ve written several pointed columns before so they seem to respect my work. When I heard about how heinous the first crime was I was incensed. For whatever reason my editor asked if I could write a human-interest piece on the first victim along with reporting the basic facts. When I said yes initially I had no idea we had a serial nutcase on our hands. I would think you’d want every avenue in your court to try and find the freak that did this to your partner. Am I missing anything?” While he certainly didn’t mean to allow his anger to flare, he was pissed at being questioned for giving a damn.

Cassandre Dayne is the award winning, best selling author of over one hundred and seventy books in several genres including BDSM, D/s, horror and thrillers. She’s also a blog talk radio host of ‘The Edge’, highlighting artists who take their creative pieces to an unconventional precipice. In addition, she’s the Managing Director for the Edge and Entice Imprints at Booktrope.

Issue 29 | September/October 2015 |


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from our website must read columns

GHOSTWRITING: If You Want to Be a Ghostwriter Beware, ghosts are around us every time we go into a brickand-mortar or online bookstore. How many times has someone come up to you and said, “I’ve had cool things happen in my life. It would make a great book. Want to write it?” Some believe they are doing you a favor by slipping you their amazing stories. I love a great tale as much as the next writer, but telling that story in three hundred pages is no small undertaking. Unless it were Grandma trying to get down her story for the family, I wouldn’t do this for free. Though it has its upsides, ghostwriting, in many ways, is harder than writing your own nonfiction, novel, or memoir (which has elements of each). Why would anybody do something so complicated? There are many reasons. For one thing, it helps you connect with people you might not otherwise. It makes you accountable, keeps you on task. And an added perk—you won’t have time to experience writer’s block. One question to ask yourself before taking on a project is whether or not there is some assurance your work will see the light of day. That means it’s already agented, contracted, or, in the case of screenplays, funded or attached to an experienced producer/director. It may also be a fascinating and timely tale as was brought to me by woman with a current-day Erin Brockovich-style story. The “author” could be a notable public figure, like a successful model and agent who approached me with her self-help idea. Even if the marketability piece is in place, collaboration is not something to take on without great consideration. As in marriage, it matters why he chose you. Hopefully there are many reasons. Were you referred or sought after because you understand the subject matter or at least have a great amount of interest in it? After all, there will likely be plenty of research that will go into the project, especially if it is nonfiction. Do you know this person or trust someone who knows her? You’ll want to know if the potential client works well with others. Do you

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have enough experience to tackle the project? Some projects require previous work in a specific area, such as familiarity with science or medical topics. Did the “author” see a trial sample of your work and like it? Can you keep secrets? This is especially important when there is a nondisclosure clause in your contract. I worked on a project that included a revelation whose exposure was essential for the success of the book. Because you aren’t creating the story from whole cloth, you will need to be able to dig the gold nuggets out of a lot of irrelevant information thrown at you. You’ll need to have an intuitive sense of what to put in and what to leave out. Be sure you are available when needed. I’ve had times when I’ve kept my phone on my nightstand with my audio recorder ready to be turned on even in the predawn hours of the morning...

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

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Now Accepting Books for Review for our 2015 Red Carpet Awards! If you would like to have your book considered for the 2015 Red Carpet Books Awards, simply submit your book to BTS Book Reviews for review consideration. Vist our website at for details! Note: As a courtesy BTS asks our reviewers to look at our customer books first when choosing a book for review. Genres: All genres covered in the BTS Book Reviews will be considered: Contemporary & Romance, Historical & Western, Erotic, Mystery & Suspense, S/F, Fantasy & Paranormal, Young and New Adult. Sub-genres such as Urban Fantasy or Horror will go under the appropriate genres. Timeline: Awards for 2015 will end with the November/December 2015 issue of BTS Book Reviews magazine. Please note, we have a 2 month lead-time for our reviewers, this means your book must be submitted by September 30th, 2015 in order to fit the timeline requirements. Any qualified books reviewed after the November/December 2015 will be considered for the 2016 Red Carpet Book Awards. Categories: Readers Choice – Readers to vote on their favorite (one only) in each of the genres. Voting on all 4 & 5 star reviews in each genre. Grand Prize Winner plus 2nd and 3rd place finalists. Reviewers Choice – Reviewers choose their favorite book. Committee vote for top winner. Cover, blurb, review and overall presentation to be considered. Grand Prize Winner plus 2nd and 3rd place finalists. Best Book of Year – Top winners in categories will be considered. By committee vote. Grand Prize Winner plus 2nd and 3rd place finalists. Best Cover – By committee vote made up of Design and Marketing staff. Grand Prize Winner plus 2nd and 3rd place finalists. Rising Star – Authors with 1 to 3 books published, with stellar reviews. By committee vote. Grand Prize Winner plus 2nd and 3rd place finalists. Best Short Story - All short stories published in BTS Book Reviews during 2015 are eligible. By committee vote. Grand Prize Winner plus 2nd and 3rd place finalists and honorable mentions. Please note that submitting a request does not secure a review within our emag. Only reviews published in the BTS Book Reviews emagazine will be considered for the 2015 awards.

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