BTS BOOK REVIEWS July/August 2014

Page 1

contents July/August 2014


on the cover

31 Chic Trends in Romance



53 The Hot Hunks of History


77 The Heat Diva


103 Ali B. and the Forty Spaceships


123 The Scrying Eye


Bernard Lee Deleo

141 Forever Young

RJ Parker


stories & serials

71 97

A Love Lost


by Alissa Baxter

4am Curry and Pinotage (a visit to the London Book Fair)



121 MYSTERY & SUSPENSE 139 YOUNG & NEW ADULT July/August 2014 | 5

From the Desk of

Myra Nour BTS CEO

BTS Book Reviews Book & Trailer Showcase

Executive Coordinator Myra Nour Executive Designer Dawn Seewer

Latest News and Notes from BTS Book Reviews BTS Review Awards: We are excited to announce our newest project, the Red Carpet Review Awards for 2014. Every author who received a 4 or 5 star review in any issue in 2014 in BTS Book Reviews eMag is automatically a nominee for the awards. The Promotions staff will be sending nominees notification and a graphic to use for promoting their nomination. Super prizes and recognition. See full details on page 16. New Columnist: We would like to welcome Adrienne deWolfe as our newest columnist. Look for her column, Bestseller’s Secret, in August on the website. She will be interviewing authors who are Bestsellers and sharing the secrets of their success.

Promotions Director Babs Hightower Production Assistant/Designer Cyrene Olson Editor Sheri Kraft Associate Editor Kellyann Zuzulo Review Coordinator Annette Stone Author Liaison Leslie Ferdinand Yahoo Promotions/ Ad Coordinator Simon Nour Promotions Assistant: Missy Davis Triberr Supervisor Amber Easton Hollywood Interviewer: Danita Minnis

REVIEWERS: Annette Stone, Myra Nour, Tim Davis, Drue DePompeiHoffman, Francine Alli, Leslie Ferdinand, Lynda K. Frazier, Marie Haney, Niina Cord, Rachel Flash, Rhonda Dennis, Stephanie Phillips, Susan Frances, Michele Biring-Pani, Sally Manson, Krissy Malott, Shelly Schulz, Priyanka U. Patel, Nila Bi, Shan McKinney, Shelly Hammond, Beckey White, Iris Montalvo Pross, Patricia Costa Melo, Gypsie Holley, Anita Rivers, Cassandra G., Dave Franklin, Savannah Mae, Abbie Foxton, Nicky Peacock, Michelle Willms, Dianne Solberg, Julie L Canfield, Michele Page, Tobyann Aparisi, Adeshr Rampat, Danielle S., Babs Hightower, Taunya Wells, Crystal Guidroz, Ioana Giju, Christina Torretta, Udita Banerjee, Namrata Parakh, Colleen Cook, Joss Landry, Jake Trauberman, Michele Boylan, Steve Liddick, Karen Fainges, Emma Mullins, Geri, Nancy Levine, Janice Ross, C. S. Johnson, Dm. L. Carter, SharaLee Podolecki, Brenda Lang, Elaine White, SharaLee Topnik, Kristy Nowinsky, Christie Mitchum, Jorja Davis, Tim Lasiuta, Sasha Hibbs, Diana Silva, Stacie Carrier, Sheryl, Arushi Raj, Brittany Hale, Lisa Klaes, Nazia Siddiqua, Tanya Johnson, Shana Festa, Julie Whiteley, Danielle Stone, Negar Arvanaghi, Elizabeth Holley, Dana Rettig, Nathifa Swan COLUMNISTS: Karen Albright Lin, Alex Bardy, Sandra Bunino, Christy English, Kelly Hudson, Nikki McCarver, Nicole Morgan, Kellyann Zuzulo No material in this magazine can be used or copied without BTS or the author’s permission. © Copyright 2014. BTSeMag, BTS Book Reviews, All Rights Reserved. By submitting material to BTS Book Reviews or its affiliates, authors certify they own the rights to all published information.

July/August 2014 | 7

in this issue

Hot Summer Nights As the temperatures soar, we’ve been on the lookout for sexy heroes and empowered heroines to quench the thirst of summertime readers. From tearjerkers to thrillers, we’ve got everything you need to enjoy those long hot summer nights. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more hard-core hero than special agent John Harding. In this month’s cover exclusive, we take a look at the fourth book in Bernard Lee DeLeo’s best-selling series Hard Case IV: A Violent Life. Fans of Jack Reacher will enjoy this actionpacked thriller. Shifting from fictional agents to real-life heroes, our cover exclusive continues with a look at RJ Parker’s Cold Blooded Killers: True Stories of Murder, Book 7. Delve into the gritty, gruesome details of the most notorious spree killers and serial killers the world has ever seen in this true crime collection. Then it’s time to take a trip to the London Book Fair with Hunter S. Jones. After that, cool off with this summer’s must have contemporary reads. If you’re on the hunt for a tortured hero, then look no further than Chic Trends in Romance as Sandra Bunino gets under the skin of some of our favorite secretive and brooding men.

Of course, sometimes the hottest hunks are the ones between the pages of a history book. Join us as Christy English introduces us to the young Duke of Normandy, Henry II in this issue’s Hot Hunks of History. And for those of you who prefer dukes, cowboys and rogues, we’ve got some great historical reads to suit your hero needs. If you like your summer nights with a whole lot of steam, then check out our must-have erotic reads. In this issue’s Heat Diva, we’ll be Serving it up Hot, Cajun Style with some smokin’ heroes to make your knees weak. From a reluctant dom to a yummy minotaur, Nikki McCarver and guest columnist Danica Avet bring us the hottest hunks in erotic fiction. Prefer heroes and heroines that tingle the spin? Let our mystery, suspense and horror reads add a little chill to your summer nights. Kelly Hudson brings us Of Murder, Intrigue, Adventure, Curses, the Undead, and Lurking Evil with tales that will confound and stories that will delight. But if shapeshifting heroes and alien heroines are more your pleasure, you won’t want to miss the out-ofthis-world reads in our Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal section. Plus, Alex Bardy takes a look at the early award season in People of Earth, Lend Me Your Books. Then step beneath the summer stars with some inspired young and new adult reads that will keep you turning the pages till morning. And join Kellyann Zuzulo in this issue’s installment of Forever Young, as she discusses the windows to every character’s soul. And if you’re looking for a quick summer story, look no further than Alissa Baxter’s historical short story, A Love Lost. Of course, you also won’t want to miss Nicole Morgan’s steamy serial, Sex & the Single Woman, as the adventure continues. Last, but certainly not least, let’s roll out the red carpet for Keith Rommel and Tom Nowicki in BTS Goes Hollywood. You won’t want to miss the chat with these great authors and actors. This issue of BTS Book Reviews hosts plenty of hunky heroes and spunky heroines to spice up your summer reading list. So welcome warm days and hot summer nights with the great books found in this hot issue. Enjoy!

Dawn Seewer

BTS Executive Designer

July/August 2014 | 11

| Industry Insider |

Publisher Spotlight Looking for some fantastic reads? Check out the wonderful books these publishers have waiting for you!

July/August 2014 | 13

ARC 2014 NOLA August 14-17 New Orleans, LA Are you ready for an awesome fun time? 3 days for authors and readers to interact face-to-face and have a great time!

A.L. Jackson & Heather Graham KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

• Badges • Swag Goody • Programs • Thursday Meet up Social • Breakfast • Lunch with Keynote Speaker and • Daily Raffles • Evening Event *Available Sponsorship for all these great items and more!

See full schedule of events here!

ACCOMMODATIONS Marriott New Orleans $125.00 Reservations can be made here.


A.L. Jackson

Heather Graham

ATTENDING AUTHORS: Shannan Albright Zoey Derrick Kris Austen Radcliffe Seraphina Donavan ML Guida Sylvia McDaniel Donna Michaels JT Schutz DN Simmons Barb Han Tonya Kappes BTSeMag will be providing all press coverage for this event! We hope to see you there!

Full Details at

Reader - $225.00 Includes: Friday & Saturday Events, Panels, Book Signing, Intimate Chats and Evening activities. You are also eligible to participate in all raffles, games & door prizes! You will receive a free swag bag full of goodies provided by your favorite authors and publishers upon arrival. Additional Sponsored events may be added. Author /Industry Professional - $250.00 You will enjoy everything the Readers receive as well as the opportunity to join panels and intimate chats. Exhibitor / New author Table $ 225.00 You will be in the center of the action with 1/2 of a 6 foot table to display your items. If you are registering as an author, you do not need this option. This is for authors who want to offer their swag and books to the readers all weekend OR if you have items to sell.

For more information or to register, click here!

| Industry Insider |


2014 Conventions Romance Novel Convention July 9-13, 2014 Las Vegas, Nevada Romance Writers of America 34th Annual Conference July 23–26, 2014 San Antonio, TX

Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers’ Conference September 25-27, 2014 St. Augustine, Florida RomantiCon® 2014 October 9-12, 2014 Canton, Ohio

Writer’s Digest Conference August 1-3, 2014 New York City, NY

DitterCon New Orleans 2014 October 16-18, 2014 New Orleans, LA

Authors After Dark August 6-10, 2014. The Westin Charlotte, Charlotte NC html

Auburn Writers Conference October 17-18, 2014 Auburn, Alabama

Indie Romance Convention September 11-14, 2014 Lebanon, TN Kentucky Women Writers Conference September 12-13, 2014 Lexington, Kentucky Southern California Writers’ Conference September 19-21, 2014 Newport Beach, Calif.

Chicago Writers Conference 2014 October 24-26, 2014 Chicago, IL

BTS Book Reviews eMag is proud to announce our first annual Red Carpet Review Awards for 2014. The awards will honor the best in literary and genre fiction. The presentation of awards will be conducted at ARC, Feb 27th & 28th, 2015 in Orlando, FL. Convention details will be released soon. AWARD 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. Reviewers Choice – Reviewers choose their favorite book. Staff and BTS family will vote for top winner, plus 2nd & 3rd place finalists. Cover, blurb, review and overall presentation to be considered. AWARD GENRES: All genres covered in the BTSemag 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. AWARD TIMELINE: Awards for 2014 will end with the November/December 2014 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 1st, 2014 in order to fit the timeline requirements. Any qualified books reviewed after the November/ December 2014 will be considered for the 2015 Red Carpet Review Awards. VOTING: Voting will start in October. The top 3 Finalists in each genre will be announced on the website by December. We hope the Finalists will consider attending the Presentation of Awards. Every Finalist at the ceremony will be presented with an Award Certificate. BOOK SUBMISSION: Please submit your books for review consideration via our website. When your book is chosen for review, it will be published in the BTS Book Reviews eMagazine. Your book will automatically be nominated for a review if it receives a 4 or 5 star review. Please note: We are getting many submissions, and while reviews are not guaranteed, BTS customers are given first consideration for reviews. Note: Please note that reviews and awards are open to all. BTS does ask our reviewers give first consideration to authors who have bought an ad or feature. This is a courtesy we offer authors who work with us. There is no purchase necessary to have your book reviewed or to be considered for the Red Carpet Review Awards.

Visit for details!


COVER feature

DeLeo Parker

Bestselling thriller author Bernard Lee DeLeo and bestselling true crime author RJ Parker talk about their hit books and give us a sneak peek into the world of Marines and serial killers

BERNARD LEE DELEO & RJ PARKER July/August 2014 | 17

An Interview with

BERNARD LEE DELEO Bestselling Thriller Author BTS: Can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Born and raised in Warren, Ohio, I write adventure fiction and have twenty-two of my novels offered for Amazon Kindle. Some of my latest novels are: COLD BLOODED, COLD BLOODED BOOK II: KILLER MOVES, HARD CASE, HARD CASE II: THE LURE OF HELL, and THE PROTECTORS published by RJ Parker Publishing. My new paranormal novel LANCELOT was released in October of 2012. I published my humorous paranormal romance, LAYLA, in November of 2012. My YA paranormal trilogy: DEMON, DEMON INC, and DEMON AT WAR are now all on sale. The latest releases are the humorous detective novels, RICK CANTELLI, P.I. and Rick Cantelli, P.I. Book II: Deadly Liaisons. Also on Kindle and paperback are the third and fourth books in my John Harding series: HARD CASE III: VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED and Hard Case Book IV: A VIOLENT LIFE. I served aboard the USS Ranger (CVA61) from 1969 until November of 1972. I earned an AA degree in Auto Technology from Chabot College in Hayward, CA, and a BA degree in English from Cal State Hayward.

Bernard: I grew up in Warren, Ohio, one of six kids. I joined the Navy in 1968, and served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger from October, 1969 until November of 1972. I took a Science Fiction Literature and writing class, and wrote my first story for that class. I never stopped writing after that. I’ve written twentyfive novels, twenty-two of which are on Amazon, many of them published with my partner, RJ Parker. I have written novels in many fiction genres, including paranormal, military, espionage, detective, fantasy, young adult, and science fiction. I have four ongoing series: Hard Case, Rick Cantelli, P.I., Cold Blooded, and the YA series Demon. Because writers seldom ever make enough money to live on, I’ve owned an auto repair shop for over three decades. I’ve found I can write anywhere, and when I’m not actually writing, I’m bombarded by the characters and plots in my head. It has proven to be an unending source of passion and entertainment. BTS: Who has influenced your writing the most? Bernard: I grew up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Ian Fleming, John D. McDonald, and Donald Hamilton. I have continued on in the same manner of adventure fiction and fantasy in my own writing. As a fiction writer, I don’t write reality. I write alternate reality. I figure if I can’t help a reader escape from reality for a while with my stories, then I’ve failed. BTS: What is the latest book you’ve released? Bernard: Cold Blooded Book II: Killer Moves was released on May 24th. My main character Nick McCarty is a New York Times Bestselling Author, but it’s a cover for his real calling. Nick is an assassin. In this second novel, Nick’s partner, Gus Nason, thinks Nick may be going slowly crazy trying to retire as a reclusive

| Bernard Lee DeLeo & RJ Parker | bestselling author. Gus assumes even with Nick’s wife Rachel pregnant, and walking his step-daughter Jean, and Deke the dog to school, Nick will become a danger if not pursuing what he does best: killing people. Gus quickly regrets his influence over his partner, when the first time out of the retirement chute, Nick’s contract on Sheik Abdul Nazari begins a chain of events he never envisioned. Nick incorporates only one guideline in his life - he has a handful of people and a canine pal he protects at all costs. An unwitting number of people decide to test what they think is Nick’s weakness. It proves to be a fatal error in judgment.

SNEAK PEEK Hard Case Book IV: A Violent Life

BTS: What’s your next book title and when will it be released? Bernard: I’m writing the third book in my Rick Cantelli, P.I. series, Into the Darkness. I hope to release it by the end of August.

A Violent Life blends horror, humor, terror, and cage fighting as John Harding’s crew of killers battle against a deadly bio weapon attack. They know thousands of lives hang in the balance, and they have no qualms about doing anything it takes to stop it. The approaching holidays find John Harding’s West Coast Murderers’ Row crew in the usual Las Vegas double duty mission. John takes on a rising star in the UFC world nicknamed Rattler, because of snake fast striking ability. On the flip side, Denny Strobert turns the crew loose on a lady drug queen, Victoria Lydia Voltaire. She plans to use her drug network to aid and supply a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot setting up terrorist cells

July/August 2014 | 19

| Cover Author | across the country. Thanks to Lynn Montoya, nicknamed Cruella Deville, the crew gets a bonus when she initiates a plan to lure the Muslim Brotherhood gang readying to be dispersed across the nation into a public trap. A successful sting leads out in spiraling directions with terrorist plots involving Alexi Fiialkov’s container shipping line. Soon, the crew launches a rescue mission for Fiialkov’s granddaughter, and entraps the architect of a weaponized anthrax threat. The kid gloves are off, and the bodies begin piling up. Add in a taste of what happens when Murderers’ Row decides to end an infamous start of the ‘Knockout Game’ in Oakland, and another excursion to help their ‘Hollywood Bounty Hunters’ reality show favorites take down a deadly assassin returning to our shores - all happening around the holidays, and a dreaded return visit by the in-laws to the Harding household. It’s business and humor as usual, but with a final cage rematch like no other.

I went down with the fading roar of the Mandalay Bay crowd turning the arena into a wall of noise. I barely had enough sense to roll away from my opponent. The Rattler lived up to his hype without any problem. Only reflexes honed for years in combat kept me from being pounded into a blood red corpse in this horrific first round wake up call. I scrambled, crab walking away into the cage, my head pounding with the crowd’s incredible mind numbing decibel level. The Rattler smiled at me through my haze of unconsciousness. He took no chances. The roundhouse kick to my temple exploded into the two arm block I threw up to survive, driving me to the mat again on my left. The referee dived in at some risk as the round ended with audible warning. Tommy, Devon, and Jesse guided me to the ring stool Jafar put into place. I staggered down onto it with their help. I grinned at their horrified looks. After that 20 |

round of attack I had no answer for, I must have looked a lot like raw hamburger. “Hi guys. How’d I do?” Only Tommy chuckled, knowing me like a brother. “You got whooped, Hard Case,” Devon Constantine smiled as he and the others tried to clean, clot, and staunch the damage. “I think I’m going to puke if you go out there again, brother,” Jesse added with heartfelt sympathy. “Lay the f**k down, Cracker! This guy is a beast!” Then the inexplicable happened. Al hit the cage, her fingers threading into the links, her teary eyed countenance sending a jolt right to my soul. She wasn’t supposed to be here under any circumstances! “Dad! Don’t…don’t do this!” It was the first time Al had ever called me Dad. One of the ring minions went to grab her, and ended up with Lynn Montoya at his side. “Go ahead. Touch the girl and I will slit your f**king throat before anyone in the arena can reach you!” Boy did she have backup. The guy backed off in open mouthed, hands gesturing compliance, with Clint, Casey, Lucas, and even Denny there surrounding her. Lynn patted the guy’s cheek. “Get the f**k away from here.” She watched him move away into the security squad. Lynn put her arm around Al. “C’mon, Al, sometimes it is what it is, kid.” Al wouldn’t let go of the cage links, tears streaming down her face. “I…I love you, Dark Lord.” I laughed, reaching back to stroke her fingers. “The Dark Lord orders you to go away with Lynn!” Then the warning buzzer sounded. Tommy patted my shoulder. “See you on the other side, DL.” Oh hell yeah! I ain’t candy, sugar cane, or an altar boy. I just got labeled a Dad. I stood up and pounded my fists together. I could tell the Rattler thought this was going to be his night. It probably would be… but by God… it was going to cost him some blood to put me down. I felt the pain wash over me from standing up, a long lost friend I knew well. I grinned like a dipshit buying a Big Mac at the local McDonalds. The noise enveloped me in a soothing fog of unreality.

An Interview with


Bestselling True Crime Author BTS: Please tell us about yourself. RJ: I have two daughters 18 and 22 and twin sons 29. I reside in two provinces in Canada, Ontario and Newfoundland where I was born of Irish descendants. I also have two grandsons and recently, a granddaughter. I spent many years in alphabet government departments and although retired when I was 45, now 52, I still get called upon for occasional covert projects. BTS: When not writing, how do you relax? RJ: I am also a musician. I love to play and sing. I really enjoy the Mandolin most. But I play a variety of instruments. Although I mostly play old country and country gospel, I have filled in a few times for the rock band April Wine many years ago as the drummer. I am an avid gardener and enjoy painting. BTS: What is the premise of your latest book?

RJ Parker, P.Mgr.,CIM, is an award-winning and bestselling true crime author and serial killer expert. He has written 14 true crime books, available in eBook, trade paperback and audiobook editions and have sold in over 80 countries. He holds Certifications in Serial Crime and Criminal Profiling. Parker publishes for several authors under his company RJ Parker Publishing, Inc. RJ Parker was born and raised in Newfoundland and now resides in Ontario and Newfoundland, Canada. Parker started writing after becoming disabled with Anklyosing Spondylitis. He spent twenty-five years in various facets of Government and has two professional designations. To date, RJ has donated over 1,950 autographed books to allied troops serving overseas and to our wounded warriors recovering in Naval and Army hospitals all over the world. If you are a police officer, firefighter, paramedic or serve in the military, active or retired, RJ gives his eBooks freely in appreciation for your service.

RJ: On April 30 I released Parents Who Killed Their Children: Filicide. It’s a heartbreaking book that portrays ten filicidal killers, people like--Andrea Yates, Diane Downs, Susan Smith, and Jeffrey MacDonald-who received a great deal of media attention and explores the reasons; from addiction to postpartum psychosis, insanity to altruism. This book has been selected by several universities in their upcoming courses in Criminology, Sociology and Forensic Psychology, including, the University of Utah and Penn State University. BTS: What are you working on next? RJ: My next book will be released in September titled; Social Media Monsters: Internet Killers. The World Wide Web has become a playground for many types of criminals. Stalking and murder is on the rise from social groups like Facebook, Craigslist and Instagram. Kids are ‘checking in’ on sites and showing the world exactly where they are. I will explore numerous cases but will also outline several precautions.

| Cover Author |


Cold Blooded Killers: True Stories of Murder Book 7

In this riveting book, an award-winning Canadian Author delves into the gritty, gruesome details of the most notorious spree killers, school shooters, and serial killers the world has ever seen. >>>> (Read how Edmund Kemper decapitated his mother’s head, used it as a dartboard, and then cut out her voice box and placed it in the garbage disposal.)

The term patricide refers to a child killing their father. The term matricide refers to a child killing their mother and the term Parricide references a child killing both of his or her parents. What type of child is capable of such an act of violence against a parent and under what circumstances could this happen? The literature suggests that these 22 |

| Bernard Lee DeLeo & RJ Parker | are neglected and abused children, more commonly, teenagers, who feel trapped with few options. They have had enough and they feel there is no other way out. Children cannot simply leave a bad situation as the law does not allow youths to run away and if caught, they will be returned to their legal guardian. Some do run away successfully but then find it difficult to survive on the streets with limited resources, limited skills, and insufficient money. In many instances, parents grow dependent on the adolescence and the child has too many responsibilities looking after the household and their parents. Children going through adolescence need the support of their parents as it is an altering time in their lives. The children who commit parricide are either the harshly abused child who is pushed beyond his or her limits, or the ruthlessly, mentally ill child or the severely rebellious child. The abused child is the most commonly encountered kind of killer. They killed because they could no longer contend with their surroundings at home. These children were severely abused by one or both parents and repeatedly suffered sexual, physical, and verbal mistreatment as well. Classically, they do not have histories of severe mental illness or grave and extensive antisocial behavior. They are not criminally stylish. However, for them, the killings symbolize an act of desperation. The ruthless mentally ill child can kill on occasion. These children have lost contact with reality and their medical records will indicate that prior psychiatric treatments have failed. In most cases, they are deemed unfit to stand trial due to insanity. There have been few children who have killed without remorse and yet their parents were kind and loving. This dangerously antisocial child is frequently the silage of news captions. These young offenders characteristically display improper conduct and severe disorderly behavior that continues for several months. These are the children that kill their parents solely for some kind of self-seeking reasons. Few severely abused children actually kill their parents. But most are at a high risk of becoming negligent or socially dependent rather than children who are treated well by concerned parents or loving guardians. Most often, the damage relinquished because of child abuse does not manifest itself until a generation later. The undeniable realities and effects of child abuse are increasingly being recognized as the responsibility

of everyone in the culture. Yet society has failed these children. It has failed to make a sufficient commitment to all children. It has clearly failed to protect these children and it has failed to foster good parenting. Parenting skills and parental support are areas that desperately need attention. Education needs to be made available to help parents cope with the stresses of raising children, particularly young parents or parents of children with special needs. Research shows that increasing the knowledge of parents about home and child management, and enhancing the development of good communication skills, healthy emotional ties, and parent-child bonding helps prevent child abuse.

July/August 2014 | 23

What happens when a girl, originally from sleepy little Tennessee town, goes to the London Book Fair? Or, maybe the question should be, what doesn’t happen?

May/June 2014 | 25

| The London Book Fair |

You know you are approaching London when you find yourself having a curry and a bottle of Pinotage to wash it down, at 4:00am GMT, which is only 11:00pm in Atlanta. London is such special city for me. I love everything about it – the history, the people, the shopping. London and I have a history, but we won’t get into that today. My excitement about returning a place that means so much to me is only rivaled by the adrenaline rush of the challenges and opportunities to be found at the London Book Fair. I booked my place at LBF with only one expectation – to make new friends. But, how do I explain to you how immense this event is? The London Book Fair was definitely a publishing trade event but there were plenty of opportunities for independent authors to learn at workshops, via networking and to basically discover what’s going on in the publishing industry.

Shock and Awe When I walked into Earls Court Arena, the immensity of the facility and the number of participants was awe inspiring. I was struck by the huge area covered by the Big 6 publishers. All those books, all those larger than life posters...the picture of J.K. Rowling had to be at least 30 feet tall. Those stalls, or stands, as they call them— numbering over 1500, were full of people having 26 |

meetings. Without an appointment, there is no chatting. (Or, so they lead you to believe.) I did feel a sense of the brotherhood of the large publishing houses. There are so many authors, a tremendous amount of books and an enormous number of people involved in making the magic happen. Any individual author can feel insignificant, but not me. I have always admired publishing and how they bring the written word to us. Seeing their magnificence only made me adore them all the more. There were more interesting stands around the edges and towards the back, where smaller and many indie publishers had stalls. There was a digital space with a networking area where many people had a coffee and more casual meetings. The Amazon KDP & Createspace area was permanently abuzz, as you can imagine. Ingram was the same. There was a focus on International Publishing and the translation opportunities available for authors and small publishers. I enjoyed the seminars I went to and generally felt there was a good atmosphere. A lot of people are positive about the future of publishing, even with the changes happening. That was downstairs. The agent’s booths were upstairs. They were guarded like the Highest of Holies. That area will be a discussion for another day. Here are a few of the items that caught my attention at the events I attended: • “Publishing used to be based on alco-rhythms

| Hunter S. Jones | (booze and instinct) and is now based on algorithms.” – Richard Charkin, Bloomsbury • The point of publishing is how creativity gets to readers and winning the consumer. • Audiobooks continue to expand as a market and the potential is enormous. • The book industry is sustainable, but not in its current form; 25% of books printed are destroyed. One book in five books doesn’t earn back its advance. “The karma in publishing is bad.” Yet, the interest in stories and ideas is very good. • Publishers want to embrace all things digital, but there is hesitancy because they cannot predict the future. • Print books are handled 24 times on average from manufacture to purchase. Planes take books to Australia and come back with the returns. Tescos buys 10,000 books and returns 9000. No business industry can sustain this. • All that really matters is the author and the reader. Everyone else is in the middle. Authors must realize that publishers can’t do everything for them. Neil Gaiman shifted thousands of his audiobooks with a tweet. Authors directly engaging with readers is the future. • Any kind of artist has to do everything. There is no such thing as sitting around dreaming. Performance is important.

Copyright Information This was a separate half day event that focused on what rights are, how they can be sold and the legalities behind it all. It was aimed at publishing professionals but I think all authors need an education in this. It could save you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Intellectual property rights are critical for us to understand so we know what we are selling and the possibilities that there are for us. I learned how the author’s work is used, how different books work in different markets, the attention to detail needed in contracts and tracking rights. Was it worth my time and investment? Definitely. Did I get a book deal? I can neither confirm nor deny it at this time. Am I going back in 2015? You bet even if it means have vegetable masula and red wine at 4am, seven miles above the Atlantic Ocean. Hope to see you, and all the friends I meet at the 2014 event, there next year when the event moves from Earls Court to Olympia in order to accommodate

an even larger number of participants and attendees.

The art form I create when writing is much more interesting than anything you will ever know or learn about me. However, since you ask, I have lived in Tennessee and Georgia my entire life, except for one “lost summer” spent in Los Angeles. My first published stories were for a local underground rock publication in Nashville. Since then, I have published articles on music, fashion, art, travel and history. October 2013 saw the launch of a novel collaboration, SEPTEMBER ENDS, contemporary fiction laced with romance, erotic and supernatural elements, bound by poetry. This novel is written with an anonymous English poet. SEPTEMBER ENDS has been labeled an “Indie Sensation” due to the critical reception and international recognition the novel has received. The book has been downloaded in every Amazon domain on the planet. It has achieved #1 status on Amazon for World Literature, #1 in British Poetry and #1 in Contemporary Poetry. The first installment of The Fortune Series, FORTUNE CALLING, released in January 2014, is the story of Dallas Fortune, a musician from Nashville who has been dealt a bad hand by fate, but finds her way. It has been #1 on Amazon in Contemporary Fiction featuring Performing Arts and #1 in Contemporary Look for the next September story, SEPTEMBER AGAIN, released on Amazon on April 15, 2014. SEPTEMBER AGAIN is a dramatic contemporary coming of age story. You can connect with me at the following social media sites:, https://, www.Pinterest. com/HunterSJones,, www.,, www., http://kissfrommymuse. com/

July/August 2014 | 27

, -


Contemporary | Romance | Mainstream | Literary Fiction



Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars - awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars - a must read 3 Stars - really good read 2 Stars - this was alright 1 Star - hard to finish, flawed


1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language

July/August 2014 | 29

trends reading trends in romance

Trends ChicRomance in

Sandra Bunino

The Tortured Hero He’s secretive, brooding, unforgiving, wounded . . . He’s the tortured hero. Not only do those sexy traits ramp up our hero’s hotness factor, his internal conflict also brings another level to the overall story’s conflict. The one that forces him to avoid the thing he wants the most—the heroine. Oh yes, that only makes her (and us) want him more. We need to discover why he’s in pain, how he can be healed, and why won’t he commit, even if we have to read into the wee hours of the night to do it. The tortured hero’s past is like a brick wall the heroine (and reader) is desperate to tear down and expose the sexy awesomeness hidden inside.

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| Chic Trends in Romance | Here’s a tasty sample of some oh-so-sexy tortured heroes:

Sweeter Than Sin Shiloh Walker (Secrets & Shadows, #2, St. Martin’s Press— available September 30, 2014) CAN’T FORGET THE PAIN It took years for Adam to stop drowning his regrets in alcohol, and running the local bar doesn’t make it any easier—especially not when everyone he knows gathers there to discuss the shocking allegations that have shattered his hometown. When another murder rocks sleepy Madison to its core, it becomes chillingly clear that even more vicious wounds are waiting to be exposed. WON’T RESIST THE PLEASURE Nothing is sacred anymore, and no one is safe, least of all the mystery woman who shows up in town out of the blue, looking like every fantasy Adam’s ever had. She may have her own dangerous secrets, but she can’t ignore the urgent heat between them any more than he can. As a killer’s quest for vengeance explodes into violence, Adam is tempted to lose himself in the delicious promise of her body—until he realizes he’ll risk anything if she’ll give him her heart.

Sin’s Flower Carlene Love Flores (Sin Pointe Novel, #2, Evernight Publishing— available now) From Jaxon James’ song “Mine” in Sin’s Flower: “I can’t help from drowning in your eyes. You make me wanna come and clean up all these lies. Let me up before I die. Mine.” When Jaxon James, a sexy rock star and struggling singlefather, is invited to ditch California and spend Christmas in Tennessee with his estranged family, he hesitantly accepts for his young daughter’s sake. But his attraction to his best friend’s baby sister, Lily Elstone, threatens to unravel the bonds he’s made for his daughter. The honorable thing to do would be to give up Lily. But his instincts are telling him she’s exactly the one who could bring light to his life and the missing fire to his bed. Unfortunately, Lily’s too sweet for his world. He fears his rock and roll life style will taint her. How far are Jaxon and Lily willing to go to find what’s missing at home?

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| Sandra Bunino | Who can resist a sexy historical . . .

Against the Wind Regan Walker (Agents of the Crown, #2, Boroughs Publishing Group—available now) A night in London’s most exclusive bordello. Agent of the Crown Sir Martin Powell would not normally indulge, but the end of his time spying against Napoleon deserves a victory celebration. Yet, such pleasure will not come cheap. The auburn-haired courtesan he calls “Kitten” is in truth Katherine, Lady Egerton, a dowager baroness and the daughter of an earl as elusive as she is alluring. She flees a fate worse than death. But Martin has known darkness, too, and he alone can touch her heart—as she has touched his. To the English Midlands they will steal, into the rising winds of revolution. Here’s one for my paranormal-lovin’ friends . . .

Shield of Winter

*Sigh* Tough and sexy on outside, melty hotfudge goodness on the inside. I do love a tortured hero.

Nalini Singh (Psy/Changeling, #13, Berkley— available now) Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life. For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake . . . Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to suffocate her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness . . .

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Sandra Bunino began a love of romance stories while penning a creative writing assignment in high school. The story ended with the heroine receiving a long-stemmed red rose in her locker on Valentine’s Day. Since then, all of her stories feature the hero presenting the heroine with roses. Sandra is constantly searching for different ways to achieve a heart-pumping, stomach-flipping, breath-catching reaction from her readers.

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contemporary | romance | mainstream

The Day He Kissed Her Juliana Stone Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

He can’t wait to leave Mac Draper finally has everything he’s always wanted: An amazing career. A New York City apartment. He’s this close to being free of his past forever. But a mind-blowing encounter with the sexy yet tough-as-nails Lily St. Clare has him delaying his plans to put Crystal Lake in his rearview mirror for good. She’s finally found a place to stay For Lily St. Clare the charming small town of Crystal Lake is her haven—a place she can hide from her famous, back-stabbing family. It’s as close to happy as she’s ever been. Until an unforgettable night with tall, dark and tortured Mac Draper gives her a glimpse of what true happiness feels like. Lily can’t help but melt a little under the sizzling heat of Mac’s touch. But Mac’s scars run deep, and Lily’s afraid she may be falling for the one man who can never return her feelings.. Review: It was charming and you really liked Mac Draper and you felt for him when you learned about the family dynamics. It was funny when he reconnected with Lily and that was after a long absence. They made a nice reunited couple and the supporting characters from Mac’s mom to their friend Jake and the rest of the gang were supportive and very likeable. So if you get a chance pick it up. You won’t be disappointed. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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contemporary | romance | mainstream

Once Upon A McLeod Kay Layton Sisk Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3

There’s a secret hidden at Ranch McLeod and someone wants Bethann Fox gone before she can find it and inherit the property. Fire and theft only strengthen her resolve to stay out her year--and bring out the protective instincts of Sheriff Bry Phillips, feelings he thought he’d buried long ago. She says she’s leaving when the year is over. What’s he going to do when his heart goes with her?

Review: Bethann meets Bry Phillips at her uncle Joe Thom’s Funeral, but she’d seen him before when he stopped and asked her if she and her friend Kiki needed any help. They made a good couple once they got together and had to contend with her stellar reputation and a few family secrets that managed to make their way out of the family closet. It was a fast paced, fun, enjoyable and a very suspenseful read. Kiki and Edna Earle definitely deserve to have their own stories told and they are really likeable. If you get a chance to pick up a copy you’ll really enjoy it and the complicated romance of Bry and Bethann. You won’t be disappointed. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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contemporary | romance | mainstream


Rebecca York Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

A corporate spy is leaking top secret information that could lead to extreme disaster. It’s up to former military police investigator Shane Gallagher to uncover the mole. To do that, he needs one woman’s help. Systems analyst Elena Reyes had no intention of stealing company secrets until her brother’s life was threatened by the cruelest of mobsters. When Elena finally confesses her deeds to Shane, he’s ready to do everything he can to keep her out of danger.

Review: A really good action packed story. It had lots of twists and turns and really held your attention from page one. Shane Gallagher rescues Elena Reyes and a few other hostages when a disgruntled employee goes slightly off the deep end. Elena was the only cool headed one, since one of the hostages who tried to get away ended up paying a small price for their stupidity. So when she saw Shane and realized what he was going to do, she distracted the lunatic so Shane could make his move. Anyway when everything died down, they tried to fight their attraction, but it was no good and they really did make a really good couple. Only thing was the disappointment of her parents’ reaction to the news she had to tell them and their reaction to meeting Shane. Nothing like good- old family tension at an unexpected homecoming. So if you like suspense filled action packed stories with a hint of romance you’ll like this one a lot. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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contemporary | romance | mainstream

Spring Training

Stacey Lynn Rhodes Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

With two diverging careers on the line, Teri and Aaron are torn between the right thing to do…and what feels so right to them. With a son whose played since he could walk, Teri lives, eats and breathes baseball. She was almost more excited than Emery when his invitation to a minor league team’s training camp came. But excited doesn’t begin to describe her reaction to Em’s new mentor, Aaron Reynolds. A spring fling? Just the ticket. Fighting a chronic injury, Aaron is biding his time until

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he can return to the majors. Being assigned a mixed-up rookie to babysit is fine with him, especially one that comes with a sassy, sexy camp follower like Teri. But he soon finds he has his hands full…trying to keep Emery on the straight and narrow…and trying to keep his liaison with Teri strictly physical. Review: This story is short but really sweet, and really hot! At only 45 pages I was glued to every word. Now of course being such a short story there has to be insta love. I mean, wait too long while the relationship is developing and WHAM the story is over. But I kind of liked this version. It was more like insta lust, really, but was completely fun to read. The plot was easy to follow although this is book four in the series. Characters are fabulous and I’m really hoping to see them when I read more from Stacey Lynn Rhoades. | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |

feature sneak peek

Savannah Young


FOUR WILDE BROTHERS... ONE WILDE COUNTRY BAND WILDE RIDERS is the first novel in a spicy new contemporary romance series about four sexy brothers, their small-town bar and their local country band. WILDE RIDERS can be read as a STAND ALONE NOVEL or as part of the SERIES. Cooper Wilde spent his entire adolescence counting the days until he could escape rural northwest New Jersey. Now at 26, he can’t believe he’s coming back. But his late father’s bar, Haymakers, is in financial trouble and his older brother, Jake, has asked for Cooper’s help. Riley Smith, 25, is fresh out of her Ivy League MBA program and wants to make an impression on her employer, H & C Bank. Her first solo assignment is a fraud investigation on a business loan they made to Haymakers. Even though Old Town is less than 90 minutes from New York City, Riley feels like she’s stepped into another world in this remote, one-bar town. Riley can’t wait to do her business and get back to the city as quickly as her sports car will take her...until she meets Cooper Wilde. He’s not like the other guys in this rural town and Riley feels inexplicably attracted to him.

I can’t believe I have to make a trip to New Jersey. And rural New Jersey to boot. Would someone just shoot me now and put me out of my misery? “Riley!” I hear a voice yell from behind me. It’s a voice I recognize and don’t really want to deal with right now. I contemplate speeding up my pace but I have a feeling Patti will just quicken her stride to catch up to me so what’s the point? Patti is almost breathless when she finally manages to grab my elbow. “Where are you going so fast?” I can’t believe she’s been running in Jimmy Choos and a business suit. Patti is 5 feet 9 inches and towers over me. She probably could have been a model with her gorgeous blond hair and flawless complexion. I’m petite with dark hair and eyes to match. We’re almost complete

opposites in the looks department. And probably every other department if the truth be told. “New Jersey.” I spit. I know I sound bitter but I can hardly contain my contempt for the state. Well, maybe not the entire state. I’ll give Atlantic City a pass but only because you can get drunk and gamble and it doesn’t require a plane flight like Las Vegas. Patti and I work together at H & C Bank but we’ve known each other for years. We were college roommates. I don’t have siblings so Patti is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a sister. Patti frowns. “Why are you going to Jersey?” The way she says Jersey makes it sounds like I’m going to garbage dump or a toxic waste site. Those options might be a few steps up from a trip to rural New Jersey. “I have to conduct a fraud investigation on a business loan. It shouldn’t take very long.” Oh, God, I hope it doesn’t. “I plan to be back tonight.” Patti smiles. “Good because we’ve got a double date.” “With who?” I sigh. Patti manages to fix me up with worst guys in the city. I don’t know how she does it. They’re all Wall Street wannabes and the only things they talk about are their 6 Series BWMs and the first million they’re going to make before they turn thirty. Most of them are so impressed with themselves they’re actually offended that I don’t want to jump into bed with them on the first date. “These guys are different,” she says. Patti always says they’re different and they never are. They’re the same guys over and over again just in different suits and shoes. “No,” I state adamantly. “I’m not going out with one more Wall Street July/August 2014 | 43

| Wilde Riders by Savannah Young wannabe. Forget it.” “Please,” Patti begs. She’s got a look in her eye that says she’s not going to stop until I agree to go. “Fine,” I say. “But if the guy drops one hint about his six figure salary or the fantastic view from his brand new apartment, I’m out of there. And I get to throw a drink in his lap if he mentions making his first million before thirty. Got it?” “I don’t know why stuff like that upsets you so much. You have an MBA from Columbia and you just bought your first BMW.” “And I’m well on my way to making my first million. But I don’t throw it in people’s faces when I first meet them. I want to know who the guy really is—what makes him tick. I don’t want to hear his impressive resume and a list of everything he owns.” Patti shrugs. “I just want to know if a guy’s good in bed. But I usually don’t find that out until after dinner. I don’t care what we talk about in between.” I shake my head. “You’re like a guy trapped in a gorgeous girl’s body.” She laughs. “So I’ve been told.” “Is the double date really that important to you?” She looks at me like I’m from another planet. “I haven’t gotten laid in almost two weeks. I’d say it’s nearing emergency level.” I don’t want to tell her that it’s been months since I’ve been with someone. Six months to be exact. “Fine, I’ll try to get back to the city as fast as I can.” She grins. “That’s why you’re my best friend.” “I’m your only friend,” I correct. “Best. Only. Semantics. I’ll see you tonight.” *** The drive into New Jersey is exhausting. My only saving grace is that most of the traffic is going into the city instead of out of the city like I am. You’ve got to love those bridge and tunnel guys. I wouldn’t date one but I have a little bit of respect for them. The commute into Manhattan turns a nine hour work day into an eleven hour one, if you’re lucky. I can feel my stomach start to knot as I get further away from the city and further away from civilization. Pretty soon I’ll be in the sticks surrounded by woods and farmland. I can almost smell the manure that will no doubt take days to completely rid from my nasal passages. I pray that I don’t run into any animals, especially cows, which are huge, smelly and completely freak me out. The only live animals I ever care to see have to fit comfortably in a handbag, like a Chihuahua or Teacup Poodle, for example. I have an appointment with a man named Jake Wilde. He asked me to come early, before the place opened at noon, so he could give me his full attention. I try to imagine 44 |

what someone named Jake Wilde would look like and all I can come up with is an old gunslinger like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven. As I pull into Old Town the place looks exactly like I thought it would. The buildings in the town square are old and I image the place hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years or so. Haymakers is just past the town square, down the hill from the deli, next to the gas station. Those were the exact directions I was given, in those words. I take that to mean the town only has one gas station and one deli. When I pull into the parking lot, there’s only one other vehicle sitting there. It’s an old beat-up Dodge Ram. Nothing like fitting the country bumpkin stereotype like a glove. Then I have a brief moment of panic and wonder if it’s safe to park my BMW in the dirt lot. Then I remind myself where I am. Who is going to mess with it in the middle of the day? A stray deer from the woods out back? The only thing I probably have to worry about is it getting dusty. I take in a deep breath. I have to be thankful there’s no manure smell yet. The quicker you do this, I remind myself, the quicker you can get back to the lovely asphalt jungle you call home. I’m hit with a gust of wind as soon as I get out of my car. How is it possible that Old Town is even windier than lower Manhattan? I didn’t think I’d ever find a place windier than Wall Street. Even the Windy City didn’t seem this windy when I had business in Chicago. When I enter the bar, I try to smooth down my thick hair, which I know is probably a complete mess from the gust. I’m surprised by the homey feel of the place. How could someone like me possibly feel at home in a country bar? Even if I was wearing jeans and cowboy boots, if I even owned jeans and cowboy boots, I wouldn’t fit in at a place like this.

Romance novelist Savannah Young grew up in rural northwest New Jersey in a place very similar to the fictional Old Town, which is featured in her books. When she’s not at her computer creating spicy stories, Savannah is traveling to exotic locales or spending time with her husband and their bloodhounds.


contemporary | romance | mainstream

Wilde Riders

Savannah Young Country Romance Heat Rating: 4

FOUR WILDE BROTHERS...ONE WILDE COUNTRY BAND WILDE RIDERS is the first novel in a spicy new contemporary romance series about four sexy brothers, their small-town bar and their local country band. WILDE RIDERS can be read as a STAND ALONE NOVEL or as part of the SERIES Review: A nice contemporary though it does take a little while to get into but all the characters were likeable. This is the first in a series about four brothers: Cooper Wilde, Hunter Wilde, Jake Wilde and Tucker Wilde. The first book deals with Cooper and Riley and introduces you to the rest of Cooper’s family and the family dramatics. When Riley comes to town to do business with the family, she doesn’t know she’s going to fall for Cooper. Especially, after her car gets hit by his brother Tucker. Each brother has his problems and some are a little jealous of the other. Cooper had left town and vowed never to return to the life he once led and opted to be a Wall-Streeter in the city instead. He just failed to mention it to Riley, wasn’t very happy when she found out about that little tidbit once she found out, but she got over it and they did make a good couple and if you want to find out some more about the brothers check out their stories when you get a chance. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

Rock Star

Nan Comargue Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

Hollywood lawyer Maggie Ward likes her client Finn Carter’s music but the sexy younger man is far too much trouble to actually get to know… Right? Maggie Ward is a Hollywood lawyer with a list of musician clients but none as famous as rock star Finn Carter. And he’s got the bad boy reputation to prove it. It’s no wonder every move he makes is dogged by paparazzi. So when he gets into an accident on his motorcycle and ends up in hospital, it’s splashed all over the tabloids that the car was driven by his ex-girlfriend’s new man. Finn’s manager wants him to lie low and the place he chooses is Maggie’s house. Finn’s habit of strutting around naked is more heat than Maggie can take and when she comes home one day to find him nude in her kitchen, she finally succumbs to her wicked fantasies. Afterwards, Maggie is more determined than ever to keep the relationship on a strictly physical level while Finn hints that he wants more. Can two such different people find more than sex in common? Review: Rock Star is an easy, sensible yet fun read, a perfect novelette. Romance novels are usually surreal with instant connection and insatiable infatuation but Nan Comargue smartly weaves a perfect love story in fewer than 70 pages. The decade long working relationship between Maggie and Finn, their snippy and sweet bickering and the bittersweet longing is too genuine and relatable. The “turning point” where Finn’s subtle manipulation partially overcomes Maggie’s wall could have been a little different. It goes from 0 to 100 in a split second. Especially Finn’s attitude about “I don’t want to wear a condom because I want children” was kinda weird. He might have been waiting for a decade but that’s not how you start a relationship and Maggie’s elation and hope over the comment was borderline menopausaldesperation. But it was refreshing to not read another testosterone driven baseless jealousy.

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contemporary | romance | mainstream

The writing is easy but not lax, there aren’t any grammatical errors and the plot is spot on. The story is enjoyable and succinct and the characters stay with you, making you smile and wonder.

Blissful Tragedy

Amy L. Gale Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

| Reviewer: Arushi Raj | Ambitious 22-year-old Lexie Waters is intent on taking the advertising world by storm. When she’s offered the soon to be open position she’s been vying for at a swanky advertising agency, there’s only one last summer separating her from dreams of corporate success. Still bitter from catching her boyfriend cheating, she heads out for a night of fun to see her favorite band, Devil’s Garden, but fun turns into utter embarrassment when she insults the enticingly confident lead singer, Van Sinclair. Van is intrigued by Lexie’s ability to resist his charm and secretly obtains her cell number. Shocked but eager to get to know this captivating rocker, Lexie accepts Van’s invitation to see his next show, which requires an overnight stay. The overwhelming feelings that follow take them both by surprise, and with two months left before starting her sought after new position, Lexie joins the tour. As she’s catapulted into the world of groupies and wild parties, she questions Van’s commitment to her. So what happens at summer’s end when time runs out? Review: Not your usual rock and roll love story, but it was very nice and kind of sweet. Lexie and Van made a believable couple, even if he was a sought after famous rock n’ roller and she was not. When they met for the first time it was funny. His band mates and her friends were funny and supportive, so if you get a chance to check it out you’ll enjoy it. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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contemporary | romance | mainstream

Colleen’s Choice

Holley Trent Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

Colleen Sanders watched her father Joe fritter away the family farm for twenty years. Now that she’s in charge of Split Acres operations, she plans to turn the outfit around, with or without his help. Unfortunately, with the farm finances in a mess and an unusual uptick of suspicious disasters to contend with, her savings aren’t enough to keep the business afloat. So she marries a stranger to get it. Review: What begins as a marriage of convenience becomes a love match between two enterprising individuals, Colleen Sanders and Alan Prevost. Both mislead the reader at first, describing their professions as something other than what they are. Colleen leads the reader to believe she’s a designer, but moving deeper into the story reveals that her raison d’etre is to own and operate her family’s farm. On first appearance, Alan pretends to be an electrician when actually his family is interested in buying Colleen’s farm. Ingratiating himself into her life, he proposes marriage to Colleen, convincing her that their union will save her family’s farm. There’s potential for a meaningful romance to evolve but the romance is lukewarm and the fireworks fizzle, although Holley Trent’s writing style is quite engaging with well-versed dialogue and the characters private thoughts deftly articulated. The character’s body language also demonstrates the author’s skills of perception. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

A Lesson in Passion Peggy Hunter Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

Cordelia Von Helt is on a mission. The eccentric rich widow wants to prove that love really can happen. After a disastrous marriage, Lucy is convinced she’ll never love again. There was simply too much pain involved. Besides, the sex with her ex-husband was never very good anyway. Why go through all that again? Shane has his own concerns to deal with. After his own bad marriage, he promised himself he’d never fall in love again and, since his divorce, he’s had a long line of willing women keeping his bed warm at night. What more does a man need? Cordelia sets out to prove them both wrong, and tricks Lucy and the disillusioned playboy into spending a long weekend at her summerhouse. The moment Lucy and Shane find themselves alone, passionate sparks fly. Still, good sex is one thing, but how can they find the love they both so desperately need? Review: I’m at odds with this storyline. I enjoyed it for its fluffy, fun romance and erotic scenes but I did not like how quickly things worked out. As to not add in spoilers I cannot say exactly what I did not like, but I will tell you what I did like. The characters. I loved Cordelia and I can see people actually doing this; meddling! But I loved her meddling and I knew she had everyone’s best interests at heart. Except Lena’s... the only character I wanted to go jump off of a cliff or something. And Shane and Lucy both are hurt people but they do not let that past pain get in the way of their relationship, or at least their lust for each other! The downside to being a short story is when the plot has to be rushed. I feel like I would have enjoyed two short stories instead of just one. The way this ended just had me gagging but then again as I said above, if you take this for a fluffy and fun romance then you’ll love it. Easily read in one sitting but I do want to know more about what happens to the characters, mainly Cordelia! | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |

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contemporary | romance | mainstream

Roses are for Romance Jacquelyn Webb Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 2

When the ailing family business of Merriland’s Florists merges with Westwood Flowers, Merry, one of the partners of Merriland’s, resents the new partner Sean Westwood. He tramples over her decisions, especially those concerning her irresponsible but charming cousin, Robert Townsend. Robert vanishes at the same time as the company’s money. Merry’s frantic search for him causes Sean to assume that Merry is Robert’s accomplice. Merry, caught between the half-truths and evasions of Robert’s fiancée Toni, ignores her growing attraction to Sean. When she discovers that love is the key that unlocks the mystery of Robert’s disappearance and that of the money, her own conflict about roses for romance is solved. Review: The reader is introduced to the four essential characters within the first few pages. Though the story is concentrated on a small group, complications emerge quickly and have an artificial feel. What’s expected to be a romantic read ends up a mangled narrative with the reader distrusting veritably everyone except the heroine, Marilyn “Merry” Land. Working at her parent’s florist shop, Merry is treated as a minor by the other characters though she is legally an adult. Decisions are made for her and activity, particularly the criminal kind, impact her life making her a powerless figure. The hero, Sean Westwood, a rival florist who’s a partner in her family’s shop, isn’t a gallant knight but serves as her knight-errant though not convincingly. The dialogue has a conversational fluidity and Merry’s moments of introspection build an emotional connection between her and the reader. She’s the only one who holds the reader’s interest. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

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More Than Temptation

Taige Crenshaw Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3

When temptation rises, giving in is more than sweet. Bella Locke works hard at her supper club and doesn’t have time for anything else…or so she thinks. A special event at her club brings Bella to her favorite candy shop where she meets a man who is pure temptation. Morgan James has a major sweet tooth. Visiting the candy shop for some treats, Morgan runs into a woman whose sweet, smoky voice makes him think of things he would rather not. His life is good, settled—he doesn’t need any complications. He tells her so, too. She leaves him with an invitation to come find her at a supper club. Despite his misgivings, Morgan seeks her out. Bella is pleased to see him and challenges him to take a chance. They both are swept away into something that could be more than temptation. Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series. Review: More Than Temptation is a contemporary romance novel set in Singleton, New York. Bella is a retired singer who now owns a supper club. Morgan is a fire investigator for the Singleton Fire department. They meet by chance at a candy shop where Bella is having sweets made for an event at her club and Morgan happens to be close friends with the owner. Sparks fly and the two are instantly attracted to each other. Over time their attraction becomes more than a flirtation and both realize that it may be love. Taige Crenshaw attempted to create a romance novel filled with passion and intrigue where the two main characters are instantly drawn to each other and the attraction unfolds naturally. Unfortunately, this novel falls flat in those categories. The main characters are not fully


contemporary | romance | mainstream

developed or thoroughly explored causing the characters to have flat personalities. The history of the characters is mentioned but very broadly without any glances into their true nature. I never saw a spark between Bella and Morgan, only a sexual attraction which I can assume was based solely on their looks since they rarely had conversations about their lives. The plot suffered because of the lack in detail. More Than Temptation could have been very interesting and successful if more focus was put on developing a story based on two fully imagined characters whose past was divulged and explored in order to create a meaningful future and relationship. | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

WANTED: Triberr Promotions Help BTS has gone over 2 million in reach in Triberr. We have 2 Tribes, one has a full membership and the other is a new Tribe. BTS is in need of someone to run the new Tribe. Compensation is a fourth page ad in each issue. If interested email for job details.

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Historical | Western | Period Fiction

once UPON a TIME


Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars - awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars - a must read 3 Stars - really good read 2 Stars - this was alright 1 Star - hard to finish, flawed


1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language July/August 2014 | 51

more beyond the books

HotHunks The


HISTORY Christy English

Henry II, Young Duke of Normandy

I know that the twelfth century is not always thought of as the time for hot men . . . but among the ravening warmongers, there were a few historical heroes who can also be considered hot. And one of my favorites is Henry II of England.

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| The Hot Hunks of History | Now most of us think of an older Henry, who I am sure was attractive enough. Think of Peter O’Toole in the movie The Lion in Winter circa 1968. But let’s for a moment think back to the young Henry of Anjou, the man who had been cheated of his duchy in Normandy and his throne in England. At the age of eighteen, Henry began to rectify that situation. He fought battles with rebellious barons in Normandy, bringing the duchy bit by bit back under his control. The reason he had lost his duchy in the first place was that his mother had been the heir before him, and half the Normans and English barons in the twelfth century would not follow a woman. But it seemed they had no problem with following a smart, up-and-coming eighteen-year-old who was a master strategist on the battlefield and a master of diplomacy. So when Henry of Anjou visited Paris in 1151, he was already Duke of Normandy and was well on his way to becoming king in England. Of course, a man who is powerful and smart is attractive, but is he hot? When his soon-to-be wife, then Queen of France, Eleanor of Aquitaine, met Henry for the first time, he was with his father, the Count of Anjou also known as Geoffrey Le Bel. Now “le bel” means the beautiful. With blue eyes and golden blond hair, Geoffrey was known far and wide as a very handsome man. Since Henry was his eldest son, I like to think that he inherited some of these good looks. Henry’s eyes were gray, not blue, and he was not as tall as his father, but he was barrelchested and a man who rode on horseback wearing no gloves, making for callused hands. From all accounts written by first-person sources, the force of Henry’s personality added to his allure. So when the conquering duke strode into King Louis VII’s court, Eleanor knew where her future lay: with the hot young man who soon would be King of England. Trading one crown for another, Eleanor annulled one husband, married another, and the rest, as they say, is history. 54 |

If you want to see a bit of the young Henry in fiction, check out my novel To Be Queen... young Henry makes an appearance, and indeed, he is hot.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Christy English is happiest when she is dreaming. Her dreams have taken her to the royal court of Henry II in The Queen’s Pawn, to medieval Paris in To Be Queen, and now to Regency England in Much Ado About Jack, Love on a Midsummer Night, and How to Tame a Wilfull Wife, where she loves to watch her characters find true love, often in spite of themselves. Please visit her on her blog, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

reviews historical | western The Captive

Grace Burrowes Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

He’ll never be free… Captured and tortured by the French, Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, survives by vowing to take revenge on his tormentors. Before the duke can pursue his version of justice, Gillian, Countess of Greendale, reminds him that his small daughter has suffered much in his absence, and needs her papa desperately. Until he surrenders his heart… Gilly endured her difficult marriage by avoiding confrontation and keeping peace at any cost. Christian’s devotion to his daughter and his kindness toward Gilly give her hope that she could enjoy a future with him, for surely he of all men shares her loathing for violence in any

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form. Little does Gilly know, the battle for Christian’s heart is only beginning. Review: Grace Burrowes has become the queen of historical romance in my book. Another amazing tale of two people scared from their past brought together. Christian Severn has the physical scars from his time being a prisoner and tortured, while Gillian has the scars of a bad marriage of physical and verbal abuse. The two become closer when Christian feels it is his duty to protect Gilly from the unseen force that is trying to harm her. Is it his captures trying to get back at him for escaping or someone else? Suspense, romance, and two characters with their pain from their paste what more could a reader ask for. Grace Burrowes writing pulls the reader into the realm in which she draws you into the story, the magic she creates with the written word is amazing. | Reviewer: Annette Stone |

reviews historical | western

Upon Your Return Marie Lavender Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life. But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms. Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society… Review: I’m shocked and relieved to have stumbled upon this author! Marie Lavendar delivers a refreshing and fantastic story. I found her writing to be interesting and the storyline to be wonderfully paced. I was interested in the story and the characters from the first line. I thought that she really did justice to the characters and was able to develop them and make them credible. I tend to read plenty of romance novels so I was surprised to just find out about her. I really liked both the hero and heroine in this fun adventure! When the story begins Fara Bellamont is all alone. She is orphaned and is mourning the death of her parents. Because she is all alone she is sent to her closest relation, her uncle. While she is on the ship en route to join her uncle she meets Grant Hill. Grant was a true hero. He is a typical alpha male. Although he is always in control I really loved how he was knocked off his feet by Fara. At first I thought Fara was going to be weak and meek but she had a lot of spunk. I loved that she was able to make her own rules and ultimately decide her own fate. This was a great story. I’m so glad that I discovered this author and I definitely plan to read more books by her. The originality of the story

was refreshing and the characters were rewarding. | Reviewer: Diana Silva |

How to Marry a Cowboy Carolyn Brown Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

All Mason Harper’s twin daughters want for their birthday is a new mama… And when a beautiful woman in a tattered wedding gown appears on their doorstep, the two little girls adopt her—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Mason isn’t sure about taking in a complete stranger, but Lord knows he needs a nanny, and Annie Rose Boudreau stirs his heart in long-forgotten ways… Annie Rose is desperate and running from her dark past, so when a tall, sexy cowboy offers her a place to stay, she can’t refuse. After all, it’s just for a little while. As she settles in deeper, her heart tells her both Mason and her role as makeshift mama suits her just fine. But will Mason feel the same way once her nightmare past catches up with her? Review: What a fun read with thoroughly enjoyable characters you like from the beginning. Annie Rose Boudreaux and Mason Harper made a really good couple. His daughters Gabby and Lily were a hoot. Mason definitely got his hands full with those two, and adding Annie to the mix well, that was trouble waiting to happen. What’s the poor guy to do? You’ll enjoy the family doctor and the whole Harper family and Annie Rose and the rest of the cast. It was sweet, charming and had lots of laugh-out-loud moments brought to you by Gabby and Lily. Mason and Annie Rose made a good couple once they hooked up and he found out the real reason she’d ended up on his porch in a wedding dress. A wonderful read you’ll definitely enjoy it. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews historical | western

The Highlander’s Bride Trouble Mary Wine Scottish Highland Romance Heat Rating: 3

Has this savage Highlander finally found a woman to tame him? Nareen Grant is confident, well-educated, and quick with a dagger. So when her brother Kael unknowingly sends her to live at a cousin’s secret brothel, she escapes to court where she meets the arrogant Highlander Saer MacLeod… Saer is considered savage even by most Highlanders. It will take an extraordinary woman to handle him, and Nareen enchants him like no one he’s met before. When a furious Kael threatens revenge against the cousin who wronged his sister, Saer knows it’s his one chance to win over Nareen

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and reclaim the respect his family deserves…and he’s going to take it. Review: Wow... I loved the synopsis but when I started reading this I thought it was going to be a simple and hopefully fun romance. What I got instead was a book filled with courage and fear, lust and love, and a whole lot of stubbornness! I simply loved the characters. The plot was easy enough to discern but it was the way that everything happened that keeps this book apart from other romances. And the characters! They were lively and full of everything that any person would want to be full of. Some hard times happened to both of the main characters but they used the past to make them harder, both to their detriment and to their learning, but it just filled this book with a ton of fun stuff! The push and pull between Nareen, who can wield a knife like no woman should know how, and Saer was amazing. I loved the interaction between them even when they were

reviews historical | western

being stubborn beyond belief. I want to know more about them! Amazingly, the characters were done so well that I even want to know what happened to Abigail and she did nothing but annoy me! I loved every single word and although this is actually #4 in the Sutherlands series, I have not read any of the others and did not feel that I was missing anything. Although now I love Mary Wine’s writing and will want to stalk her and her books (and the men in them)! Fantastic read! Short, sexy, fabulous! | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |

of his family and inherited his great uncle’s property in Buckinshire. He also had to contend with a very talkative and demanding stepmother and a step-sister who’s just as bad and an introverted niece he adored. The step-mom and step-sister drove him nuts and they really didn’t like it when Justina came into the picture. After all she was his choice and not theirs. It had a lot of wit charm and a whole lot of humor and Justina and Darius made a really good match and belonged together despite what his step family wants. An enjoyable read you’ll enjoy. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

Once Upon a Kiss

Jayne Fresina Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Jayne Fresina has always loved England—she was born there and after her family moved to the US, she was enthralled by her dad’s memories of the English countryside, and soon began reading everything she could about England… eventually coming across the works of Jane Austen. Now, an acclaimed romance author herself, Fresina’s new regency romance series centers around a book club of women who have read a scandalous new novel: Pride and Prejudice… and now they are all determined to find their own Mr. Darcy! Once Upon a Kiss, the first book in the Book Club Belles Society series, is an idyllic delight for anglophiles and Pride and Prejudice fans everywhere! Review: Justina Penny was a feisty adventurous and always getting into some sort of trouble. She also wrote in her diary to relate all she’d been thorough during t the day and hoped that one day they’re be a statue erected in her honor in the village square. She really did have an over active imagination. Case in point the scullery maid who’d vanished without a trace and had worked in Midwich Manor had worked for Darius’s great uncle. She came up with many a scenario. Some were plausible, others totally far-fetched and outrageous. So when she met Darius she didn’t know what to expect. Darius was the last surviving male member July/August 2014 | 59

feature author interview

Leonard D. Rawlins GUNS OF JUSTICE

What three words would you use to describe yourself? Considerate. Loyal. Compassionate. What inspires your creativity? More often than not, small things ​ people do or say. My wife and son inspire me most, because even in tough times, their positive attitude towards my writing ​has made me carry on.

I was born on 21 April 1963 in a small mining town in South Africa, called Carletonville. The deepest Gold mine in the world is situated here, just as a matter of interest. I went to school here, and in 1983 joined the SA Army for two years. In 1988 I met my wife, and we got married eight months later. Today we are the proud parents of a son, aged 24, and a daughter, aged 21 after twenty five years of marriage. Writing is my passion, and I started writing when I was about ten or eleven years of age by writing my friend’s essays for them in school. This carried on throughout my entire high school career as well. It was only in 2012 that I decided to take a plunge, and submitted a few chapters for proofreading with a publisher. A couple of days later I received a full report on the contents of my submission, as well as an invitation to complete and submit the entire manuscript. It took me a year to complete, and five months after submission I was holding the first print proof copy in my hand. What a journey!

What can you tell us about Guns of Justice? ​Actually, Guns of Justice was written with a lot of passion. My father, and father-in-law, were both great fans of Westerns, and believed in upholding the law at all times. Both of them were the inspiration behind my writing the Novel. Although not dedicated to them, my next Western is​. Both have unfortunately, passed away some years ago.

What is the most challenging oil you’ve ever painted? Pencil Sketch? ​The most challenging oil painting I’ve done, is of The Big Five in Africa. I did the same in pencil, and it wasn’t any less difficult.​ Can you tell us what your next book is about? ​My next book is a true story, inspired by real events. It’s all about Substance Abuse and how it affects the people closest to you, especially when the person addicted has been helped, and then turns her back on those who love her. It’s called Total Addiction, and should be completed by July 2014.​ 60 |

Black Rock, Tennessee, 1882. Sheriff Jake Hudson, once honor-bound by his calling, loses his wife and unborn child to a gang of outlaws. Retiring his badge, he sets out after the men, following the promise to his dying wife that he would avenge her and their unborn baby. After five months on the trail and no closer to his wife’s killers, Jake meets a rancher and his wife in the small town of Bitter Creek, Texas. He also meets their beautiful daughter, Ronnie. After just a weekend at the ranch, Jake and Ronnie discover they are in love. The ex-lawman opens up and tells the family about his past, promising Ronnie that he will return. Jake asks the young woman to wait for him. With Ronnie’s promise in his heart, Jake rides off to finish his pursuit of vengeance. If you love a good shoot-‘em-out Western, you will love Guns of Justice. It’s a Western with a heart.

reviews historical | western

Upon Your Honor Marie Lavender Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

heroine. She was very similar to the previous heroine but still enjoyable. Although I read both books in the series, and I think it’s more rewarding to read them together, this novel is a standalone and just as enjoyable. I’m keeping my eye out for the next book in the series! | Reviewer: Diana Silva |

Deception is a dangerous path… New York City, August, 1891 – Orphaned after the death of her father, Chloe Waverly stows away on La Voyageur to escape the clutches of her cruel fiancé, Lamonte Beckett. Gabriel Hill, a strange and compelling gentleman, comes upon Chloe and promises to protect her without knowing the true circumstances of why she is running away. During their journey, Gabriel doesn’t bargain on being distracted by her fair beauty or succumbing to her many charms. As their attraction to each other grows, so does the danger and Gabriel suspects things are not as they should be. Both are determined to get to New Orleans, where she can start a new life. But, once they reach their destination, events spin out of their control and Chloe is captured by the fiancé she escaped. Gabriel is left wondering if he can overlook her betrayal. Soon he finds himself in a race against time, to reach her before Beckett can exact revenge. Review:I love when I discover a new author and when I love their writing. However, there is always the question (especially when I’m not familiar with the authors work) am I going to like the next book as much as I loved the first? I’m glad to say that with the Heiresses in Love Series the answer is yes! I thought that this story was just as engaging as her previous one. I also love when an author jumps into the story. I personally don’t care for stories that go on and on and you think, what is the point? Lavender grabbed my attention from page one. I only have two complaints. One the death and alone maiden were done in the previous story and two the meeting on the ship was too… I would have liked that the storyline was a little different from her previous book “Upon Your Return”. The hero, Gabriel Hill was a great character. He was a true gentleman and a genuinely good guy. He saw that Chloe, our heroine, was in trouble and immediately stepped up to help her. Lamonte Beckett, Chloe’s fiancé was a true villain. He was awful and he added a sense of excitement to Chloe and Gabriel’s story. Chloe was a great 62 |

reviews historical | western

How to Lose a Lord in 10 Days or Less Elizabeth Michels Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4 After years away from home, Andrew Clifton, Lord of Amberstall, is attacked by a hired hit man on his way back to London. But with an injured horse and no shelter, Andrew becomes the unintentional houseguest of the Moore family. Katie Moore could always be found at the stables— until her riding accident. Now, she locks herself away from Society—embarrassed by her injuries. While Katie tends to Andrew’s horse, the two are at odds about everything, except their feelings for one another and the danger that they’re about to discover on the road ahead…

Review: Elizabeth Michels delivers a great historical romance. This was the third book I read by her and I have to say she keeps getting better and better. Some of her signature storytelling techniques are: 1) a unique and funny heroine 2) original storylines and 3) memorable hero and heroine. In How to lose a Lord in 10 Days, all the above apply. Our heroine, Katie Moore is a heroine that lives by HER rules and no one else’s. In sharp contrast is Andrew Clifton, Lord Amberstall who follows all the rules of society and for the most part agrees with them. When he meets Katie is shocked by her living situation and her deviance of all customs. I loved that Katie and Andrew were opposites and I also loved that they really pushed each other’s limits. Although at first Andrew came off as very pompous and selfimportant I really enjoyed how uncomfortable he became with Katie’s ideologies. I also liked that Andrew pushed Katie out of her “comfort”. Although she lived, for the most part, isolated and on her own, she thought she was content-

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reviews historical | western

that is until Andrew provided her with companionship. Aside from the romance the author inserts a bit of mystery. We know that Katie’s uncle is desperately trying to take away Andrews property but neither one of them understand why. I thought that this bit of intrigue and mystery added another element to the story and it helped in joining Andrew and Katie. This was a fun read. I look forward to reading more by Elizabeth Michels. Her books are always a unique adventure. | Reviewer: Diana Silva |

The Truth About Leo Katie McAlister Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Can Dagmar flee Denmark? Dagmar Marie Sophie is a poverty-stricken Danish princess whose annoying royal cousin is about to have her stuffed away in a convent. When she finds a wounded man unconscious in her garden, she sees a way out of her desperate situation. By Lying to Leo? Leopold Ernst George Mortimer, seventh earl of March, and spy in the service of the king, finds himself on the wrong end of a saber and left for dead. He wakes up not remembering what the care of a beautiful woman who says she is his wife. Back in London, Leo-with the help of his old friends the eccentric Britton family-sets out to unravel what he’s forgotten... Is Dagmar truly the wonderful, irrepressible woman who makes his heart sing, or is she a dangerous enigma bent on his destruction? Review: What’s a penniless princess to do when she’s basically told to leave everything she’s ever known and never to return? That’s the dilemma facing Princess Dagmar who just happens to be a half-Danish half-English princess and a major thorn in her cousin’s side. Fredrick wants nothing to do with her and told her, she had to leave. When she found a way to travel to England and told him he was a bit reluctant to believe she was telling him the truth, but he gave 64 |

her his blessing none the less. Leo gets to help her even though he has no idea who she is let alone, where he is, or how he got to where he was and is basically in no condition to make any type of decision. She marries him in a hurry and travels to England with him, even though he’s injured and in a feverish state and has no recollection of even going through with the wedding, but it was funny when he finds out that he’s actually a married man and married to a princess no less. It was a fun read and it was great seeing some old friends who showed up from time to time. Princess Dagmar and Leo made quite a good couple. The supporting cast was really good too and quite enjoyable to read, well ,except for Fredrick and his wife. So if you get a chance pick up a copy ,you’ll actually like it a lot. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

reviews historical | western

Beauty and The Highlander Hildie McQueen Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Carrick Gordon gave his word and now he will marry a lass he’s never met. After lying with her long enough to procure an heir, he will release her from the marriage bed. She won’t fight it. Carrick is certain one look at his marred face and she’ll recoil in horror. It had to be a cruel joke. Analise Macgregor cannot believe the handsome man is to be her husband. That he rejects her after a wonderful night is hurtful, but not surprising once she sees how Carrick keeps everyone at a distance. Will Carrick and Analise get past preconceived

perceptions to finally admit their mutual attraction? Review: Carrick Gordon, oldest disfigured son of a cruel and abusive father who was married to Moraine, and the brother to a lecherous younger brother Declan, met his future wife when his father arranged his marriage to Analise, whose clan didn’t want her. He only did it because of family obligation and once he got married he could go back to his place and he wouldn’t have to deal with this family. They made quite a good couple and they really belonged together and she really liked him despite his scar and her family abandonment. It was just the right length and you’ll enjoy it. So if you get a chance pick up a copy. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews historical | western

A Game of Chance

Lauren Linwood Western Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

Gambler Jed Stone is arrested for a murder his twin brother committed, a man he never knew existed. When Jed wins the deed to Lucky Lil’s, San Francisco’s most famous whorehouse, he falls in love with the madam’s daughter Lily, who’s always been shielded from house life. Will Jed be able to start a new life with Lily and bring his outlaw brother to justice? Review: Linwood’s story is full of surprises, with original twists and turns that keep readers interested in the fate of the hero and heroine. Set in America’s Wild West after the Civil War, the author describes a unique situation. Cara Lee gives birth to two boys, Jed and Carl. They become separated after her death. Carl becomes a thief while Jed turns into the quintessential southern gentleman, a type of Rhett Butler earning his living as a gambler. The heroine, Lily Frontiere is the daughter of the owner of the San Francisco bordello Lucky Lil’s. Jed and Lily come together when Jed wins Lucky Lil’s in a card game. Flames spark between the two as they become both rivals and potential lovers. Jed is mistaken for Carl and blamed for his crimes, which draws the reader into his crisis. The characters are well written in a story that’s a classic romance. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

Thornbrook Park Sherri Browning Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Critically acclaimed author Sherri Browning thrilled readers with her Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations classic/horror mash-ups. Also an accomplished historical romance author, Browning’s new Edwardian romance explores what happens when upstairs meet downstairs and sparks ignite. Set on a grand estate and seat of the Earl of Averford, Thornbrook Park will appeal to fans of Downton Abbey hungering for a hot new period piece. Disowned for marrying beneath her, Eve Kendal returns to England destitute after her husband’s death and the mysterious disappearance of their savings. Her childhood friend, the Countess of Averford, compels her to take a job as a lady’s maid. Eve is resigned to her reduced circumstances until she meets the Earl’s brother, and sparks fly. But Captain Marcus Thorne has his own demons to face, and as they begin a steamy affair, secrets from the past threaten Eve’s future and the whole estate... Review: Eve Kendal had returned to London after a six-year absence. She’d journeyed from India after being told her husband had been killed. She’d married Benjamin Kendal against her family’s wishes and had been promptly disowned. She ends up going to a family friend’s home and along the way she meets Captain Marcus Thorne. Thorne was a good man who’d been through the war and he’d have moments of rage where he’d have to find something to hit. That’s why he became a prize fighter of sorts. Sometimes he didn’t win and sometimes he did. Sometimes he won sometimes he didn’t. It was funny when they met because he wasn’t quite himself. They made a good couple and the storyline was really good with lots of surprises and twists. Definitely worth picking up a copy and you won’t be disappointed. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews historical | western

To Love A Wicked Scoundrel Anabelle Bryant Regency Romance Heat Rating: 3

Is there a Lady who can resist this scoundrel’s charms? At her step-mother’s command, Isabelle is leaving the English countryside and heading to the London season. Isabelle cares little for society or the name on the lips of ballroom gossips – Lord Constantine Highborough, a scoundrel of the highest order! Yet once he sees beautiful Isabelle, London’s notorious rake is obsessed; and everyone knows Constantine gets whatever he wants, leaving a trail of broken hearts behind… Review: A generic Regency romance, the story exemplifies the polite world of London’s high society as either abused children growing up with emotional scars or as moneyhungry hunters motivated to add to their coffers. Isabelle Rossmore is an introverted young lady who resembles a number of genteel heroines from Regency novels like Charlotte Bronte’s Villette. Lord Constantine Highborough is a privileged rascal who flirts with the ladies of London’s high society but shies away from offering a commitment. Slim on action but abundant in the descriptions of the character’s impressions of one another, Isabelle’s special qualities are continuously told to readers but never demonstrated. What makes her stand out in a crowded ballroom in Constantine’s eyes feels more fabricated than natural. On the surface, the pair is a cozy couple sharing a love that makes for a happilyfor-now ending as opposed to a happily-ever-after. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

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December 27th, 1926 - March 5th, 2014

I got to know Jane online when we collaborated with Robin Bayne and Jennifer Dunne for the anthology, Shifters. None of us knew the anthology would gain so much prestige. It won Best Anthology for 2002 Dream Realm Awards and 2003 Eppie Award, plus received 2 other nominations in other awards. I met Jane in person at RT in 2004. She was elderly then and I was amazed that she kept writing so many books. I am sure any writer would be proud to have the legacy Jane left behind in her sharing of worlds and story telling.

- Myra Nour

For nearly 30 years, Jane Toombs and I were friends. Astrological opposites. She was a Capricorn and I’m a Cancer. We did have a number of things in common. Both of us were nurses and both writers. Together we wrote 2 books. Words Perfect, Becoming Your Own Critique Partner, won an EPIC Award in 2003. The other was a group of novellas called Moon Pool. We also belonged to the same RWA chapter, Hudson Valley. Jane was an inspiration and a help to many of the members who have gone on to become published writers. Critiquing stories was Jane’s forte. Beyond her story telling ability, that is. I once watched her listen while one of the group’s members read about ten pages of a work in progress. Jane listened and made copious notes. When we were going around the table with our critiques, Jane’s were spot on and she was able to point out many problems none of the others of the groups had discovered. If not for Jane, I’d still be bouncing over the ruts in the road to publication. I’d been away from the writing game for more than ten years, pursuing other things. Jane listened to the opening three pages of a manuscript I’d been working on. Several days later, she called to tell me she’d spoken to her editor at Zebra books and pitched my book. I was told to send made several changes in the synopsis and received a contract. Later as the New York market for books became tighter, Jane suggested I try electronic publishing. Suddenly my career was off and running. thanks to Jane. I’m not the only writer she pushed, shoved and cajoled into trying new things and in not giving up. Hopefully their memories are as wonderful as mine. There are days when I wish I could pick up the phone and ask her, “What are you writing now?” Would be wonderful to bat back and forth ideas and give each other support. Or get in the car for the long drive to visit her in Upper Michigan. There are also times when I hit a snag in the writing and I send her a message on the winds.

- Janet Walters

stories short reads


Alissa Baxter

When I saw him standing at the other end of the room, I knew I was in trouble. With his perfectly cut coat outlining his tall frame and his strong legs encased in biscuit-colored pantaloons, he had about him an air of a caged tiger—a wild man tamed into civilization by the clothes he was wearing and the company he found himself in. I had not wanted to attend my cousin Annabelle’s evening soiree. However, I could find no appropriate excuse to avoid it, and in the end, I had accompanied my sister and her husband to the event. My sister finds me something of a trial, I’m afraid—a bookish unmarried woman in her late twenties is a burden to any July/August 2014 | 71

| A Lost Love | family, especially in London during the Season. Something about the man gave me pause. He was familiar, yet different. And then he saw me. Well, perhaps “saw” isn’t a strong enough word for the piercing glance he gave me when our eyes met across the room. He looked surprised, and then, after saying something to the group of people he was conversing with, he started walking towards me. I felt my heart beating rapidly in my chest. What would he say? What would I do? Before I could formulate my thoughts in to any form of coherence, he was standing beside me. “Jane,” he said softly, taking my hands in his. “Jane . . .” I looked up into those familiar green eyes and sighed, a heavy sigh that came from the depths of my soul. Surely I must be dreaming. To meet him again after all these years . . . my head was spinning, and for one desperate moment, I thought I might faint. However, strength seemed to flow into me through the warm grip of his hands, and slowly my world steadied. “I have dreamed of seeing you . . . so many times,” he said so softly that I had to strain to hear the words. And it was then that the burst of anger exploded through my body and up into my mind. I wrenched my hands away from his grasp, and taking a deep breath, said, “How can you say such a thing? How can you?” “Because it’s the truth,” he said quietly. “It cannot be . . . it can’t!” I moved a hand across my eyes. “Please leave.” “I have thought of this moment for years . . . seeing you again . . .” My sister came up to me. “Jane, dear, may I steal you away? Lady Hamilton desires a word . . .” I nodded my head and moved away, feeling a sense of such acute loss that it was if the years had rolled back to that terrible time when Miles had left me and never come back. I avoided him for the rest of the evening, and my sister stayed by my side. When we returned home eventually, she accompanied me up to my bedchamber. “My dear, I am sorry you are distressed. It must have been difficult seeing him again.” I found it impossible to say anything. My sister cleared her throat and continued, “You must put him out of your mind, Jane. He wasn’t the man for you.” “I thought he was. I thought he was.” My eyes welled with tears, and they fell down my cheeks. I 72 |

didn’t wipe them away. “Come, my dear. This happened years ago!” I simply shook my head, and with a sigh, my sister went away, leaving me to my sorrow. It had been the most wonderful time of my life. Miles was the younger son of our neighbor, Sir James Crawley, and we had grown up together. We had progressed from grubby playmates to the best of friends as we grew older. And then, after we had turned eighteen—strangely we shared the same birthday— the friendship had blossomed into love. I remember the day I realized my feelings for him had changed. We had been out riding together, and I had taken a tumble trying to take my mare over a particularly high hedge. Miles had been furious at my recklessness, and after he had established that I hadn’t broken any bones, he had given me a lecture second to none.

“What a foolish thing to have done!” he’d concluded. “Sometimes, I despair of you, Jane!” Looking up at his concerned face, I’d felt my heart melt. Raising my hand, I’d gently touched his cheek, and then he was kissing me, and passion exploded between us, thrilling and totally unexpected. I remember that summer as if it were yesterday. We kept our love a secret, not wishing to let the world in on our joy, hugging it closely between us. I dragged my thoughts away from the past, and fell into a deep sleep, waking the next morning with a dull head and an ache in my heart. How ridiculous that I should still feel this way after so many years! I needed some fresh air, I decided, and rang for my maid, Betty, to accompany me on a walk in Hyde Park, where I hoped to clear the cobwebs from my mind. It was quiet in the park at that hour, and I enjoyed breathing in the cool, crisp air. As I was walking along, I heard the clip-clop of a horse on the path behind me. I stepped to the side, and then drew in a sharp breath when a familiar voice said quietly, “And so we meet again.” I looked up to see Miles astride a beautiful black

| Alissa Baxter | stallion. With the sun shining behind his broad shoulders, he appeared almost a mythical figure—a splendid warrior on a dark steed. I dismissed the dramatic thought from mind as he dismounted.

“You can walk a little way behind us,” he told Betty, who immediately dropped back. I wanted to reprimand Miles for giving orders to my maid, but in the interest of not causing a scene, I said nothing. “Why wouldn’t you speak to me last night?” he asked softly. I remained silent, and Miles continued, “I guessed I might find you here.” “Indeed?” “I made a few inquiries amongst your acquaintances, and a couple of them mentioned how you enjoy early morning walks in Hyde Park when most of London is still abed.” “I enjoy the solitude,” I said pointedly, but Miles simply laughed. “I’ve missed you,” he said quietly. I took a deep breath and asked the question that I’d been asking myself for ten long years. “Why did you leave?” Miles frowned down at me and said, “You know why . . .” “I don’t! All I know is that one day we were discussing marriage, and then the next, your parents arrived and told me that you’d requested a pair of colors and that you were off to fight on the Continent. They said that you didn’t have time to say goodbye.” Miles came to an abrupt halt, which caused him to jerk the rein he was leading the stallion along by. After soothing the startled animal, he turned back to me and said. “I only requested a pair of colors after a visit from your parents. They informed me that I wasn’t up to scratch for their daughter and that my prospects weren’t good enough. They wanted you to go to London for the Season. Your mother was convinced

that you would land a duke, at least, with your beauty . . .” I drew in a sharp breath. “I had no idea that my parents spoke to you! How could you believe what they said . . . why didn’t you come and speak to me at least?” “They told me that you had already left for London and that you had asked them to inform me.” “I can’t believe it,” I said dully. “All these years I’ve believed that you left because you no longer cared...” “I’ve always cared for you, my love,” Miles said softly. “But I could see their point. As an eighteen-yearold I had nothing to offer you . . . I needed to establish some sort of career. I thought you’d be married by now.” “I frustrated my parents endlessly as I refused all offers for my hand. I never forgot you!” “I can support a wife now . . . may I court you again?” I looked up into the face of the man I had never stopped loving and said, “Court me? Oh, Miles!” “What is so amusing?” “You don’t need to court me,” I said tenderly. “You’re Miles . . . my oldest friend. My oldest love. It’s always been you.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alissa Baxter was born in South Africa and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. After school and university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she published her first book, a Regency novel called The Dashing Debutante. Alissa travelled to London, England, and did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second Regency novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote after she moved back to South Africa and settled in Durban. She then relocated to Cape Town, where she changed genres and published Send and Receive, a chick lit novel set in Durban. Alissa currently lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two sons. Decadent Publishing recently published her fourth novel, a contemporary romance set in Cape Town called The Blog Affair. Visit her at

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Miles took my hand in his and leaned over and kissed me on the lips—a gentle kiss of reacquaintance, sealing both the end of something and the beginning of something new. Then he raised my hand to his lips, and as I gazed up him, I knew that after years and years of wandering lost in the wilderness, I had finally come home.

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1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language July/August 2014 | 75

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Heat DIVA The

Nikki McCarver & Guest Author, Danica Avet

Serving it up Hot, Cajun Style So this month is all about our hot and hunky heroes . . . those yummy males that make your temperature rise and have you periodically shifting in your seat to lose some of that pent-up frustration. I joined forces with one of my own author heroes to see what makes her twist in her chair. I’m always fascinated by what does it for an erotic romance author. Danica Avet is all about the hot, as you will see through her choices and some of my favorites of hers thrown in! So here it is from the chica that reads almost as much as I do . . . lol.

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| The Heat Diva | Danica: I read a lot. I mean a lot. Most weeks I’ll easily wade through ten to fifteen books, sucking them back the way I would Jack and Coke at a conference (which has only happened . . . oh . . . a few times) *cough.* But when I was asked to come up with three titles that stuck with me and why, I knew exactly which ones to choose.

The Reluctant Dom (reviewed by Danica Avet) HEAT LEVEL: 5

The Reluctant Dom by Tymber Dalton (Suncoast Society, #4, Siren Publishing—available now) This wasn’t the first BDSM romance I ever read, but it was the only one I read that had me nearly sobbing. Sobbing, y’all. The journey the hero and heroine took, mostly the hero, was so heartrending and well written; it’s easily my choice book for anyone wanting to read about this subgenre of erotic romance.

The Mane Attraction (reviewed by Danica Avet) HEAT LEVEL: 4

The Mane Attraction by Shelly Laurenston (Pride, #3, Kensington Brava—available now) This is a much lighter book, but it shows that sex can be fun. The interaction between Mitch and Sissy Mae is fast-paced and entertaining. Oh, and the sex is hot. Did I mention it’s also fun? I love reading a book that makes me laugh, and this is always on my list for rereading.

Burn For Me (reviewed by Danica Avet) HEAT LEVEL: 5

Burn For Me by Cynthia Eden (Phoenix Fire, #1, Kensington Brava—available now) Third would be a much newer book. Burn For Me by Cynthia Eden is probably more hot than erotic, but it had such a powerful impact on me, I was instantly enthralled. The hero is so . . . dangerous. Can you hear me sighing? He’s so dangerous and dark, and you just know he’s trouble, but when it comes to his heroine, he’s the complete opposite. Well, still a little dangerous, but yeah, she manages to tame him. I love it. Love. It.

Ain’t No Bull (reviewed by Nikki McCarver) HEAT LEVEL: 4

Ain’t No Bull by Danica Avet (The Veil, #4, Siren Publishing— available now) Speaking of hot shifter love, how about a yummy minotaur? 78 |

| Nikki McCarver & Danica Avet | This is probably my favorite book (to date) by Danica, and the one that turned me on to reading her books. It also has that funny hot combo that Danica is not only known for reading, but also for writing. We have Grant who is an impossibly hunky minotaur shifter paired up with an outrageously cocky (and hilarious) Amazon. Just sit back and watch the book explode when these two opposite personalities collide.

Touched by Lightning (reviewed by Nikki McCarver) HEAT LEVEL: 3

Touched by Lightning by Danica Avet (Love Defenders, #1, Ellora’s Cave—available now) Speaking of heart-wrenching heroines, Gyda from Danica’s latest is sure to inspire more than a few tears. I believe torturing is good for the story as long as you give them an HEA . . . and Danica picked an extra special alpha just for her. I won’t give too much away, but the in-thesheets action between these two is quite literally electric.

Danica: So what draws me to erotic romance? As you can tell, it’s the characters. The sex is great. Sex is always great. Heh. But I feel it should help the story advance. Sex should be the moment when the main characters (no matter how many are involved) are their most vulnerable, the most open and honest with their partner(s). These sex scenes, even if they start off as a one-night stand, are what gives us a real look at who those main characters are. And that’s what I love about reading these books. It isn’t just the sex. It’s that the sex enhances the relationship between the characters. Because the way I see it, characters are what make a story. At least that’s what I look for when I’m reading. Nikki: I can’t agree more with Danica on that point! I hope you take the time to check out these great authors, especially my dynamite co-author!! Until Next Time . . . Stay Naughty!

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Danica was born and raised in the wilds of South Louisiana where mosquitoes are big enough to carry off small children, and there are only two seasons: hot and hotter. With a BA in History, she figured there were enough fry cooks in the world and decided to try her hand at writing. Writing is how she gives the voices in her head a way out. They speak to her constantly, wanting their stories told, and she does her best to accommodate them. When she isn’t writing, working, or contemplating the complexities of the universe, she spends time gathering inspiration from her insane family, reads far more than any sane person would want to, and watches hot burly men chase an oblong ball all over a field.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and erotica has brought my favorite pasttime to a whole new level. After the birth of my daughter, I started learning about blogging and all the wonderful ways to share my passion for reading and dived right in. I created my own blog to share my love of paranormal, historical, dark, and erotic books. I have had the opportunity to work with many great authors and look forward to working with many more.

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reviews erotic

Goddess of the Hunt Becky Flade Erotic Suspense Heat Rating: 5

Codename Diana - CIA field agent Paige Aster hides a cunning intelligence and lethal skill behind a mask of golden beauty. It serves her well as she moves from one undercover assignment to the next. Current Mission - Retrieve a stolen United States military defense program from a terrorist cell in Dublin, Ireland, before they trade it to Islamic extremists in exchange for munitions. Her only back up on this time-sensitive mission is a deeply embedded MI-6 operative. Her Asset - Eoin Fitzpatrick has sacrificed everyone he holds dear to bring these terrorists to justice. He’ll sacrifice Diana, too, if she threatens to compromise his mission or his cover. He has orders to do just that – his agency is only doing hers a favor. Compromised? - Paige expects danger, but welcomes passion—taking her pleasure where and when it’s offered. She’s not prepared for the effect Eoin has on her. Or what happens when she surrenders to him—Paige burns for Eoin but will he leave her burned…

a level of suspense due to the risk both were taking to complete the assignment. That obvious risked heightened the intensity of the story and made their sexual encounters all the more thrilling. My only complaint with Goddess of the Hunt is that it was too short. Flade has an obvious way with words and if fully developed this could have been an amazing full-length novel. I did enjoy this, the first of the Covert Passions series, and look forward to reading more from Flade. | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

Review: Goddess of the Hunt is a short, engaging, easy to read book that focuses on Paige, a CIA agent sent to Dublin on an assignment. Under the alias Diana, she must infiltrate a terrorist organization plotting against the United States, copy and disable the program they are attempting to sell. Eoin, is an undercover MI-6 agent and Diana’s contact within the terrorist group. After being undercover for years he will do anything to bring these terrorist down including allowing Diana to die if necessary. That also includes sleeping with Diana to make their guise as lovers as believable as possible. Becky Flade’s Goddess of the Hunt kept me on my toes throughout its pages. Thoroughly addicting and fast paced I found myself intrigued and fascinated by Paige, Eoin and their sexual escapades. Both of the main characters were intelligent, intriguing, very witty and well developed. The chemistry between the two characters was obvious throughout and brought life to the story. There was always July/August 2014 | 81

feature sneak peek

London Saint James THE GOOD SISTER Trinity Lane Winslow feared everything and lived her life vicariously through others. She dreamed of the impossible, yearning to be the kind of woman men desired—especially Reid Addison. Reid Addison feared nothing, except how the mousey little blonde daughter of his housekeeper made him feel. Even though Trinity Winslow wasn’t his type, there was something intriguing about her. Lord Ashton Archer lived a fairy tale life with property all over the world, was heir to a ducal dynasty, and had women fawning all over him. Anything a man could want, he obtained by the snap of his fingers. By a twist of fate the three of them find their way into the same illicit world of the infamous Madam Jacqueline Claudette Rousseau. But will they find what each of them truly desires? Or will they always long for the forbidden?

My breath came hard. And my chest heaved with the effort as I ran around the house to the back entrance. I stopped at the door, took in a deep gulp of air, brushed some damp curls from my face, and turned the shiny knob. With careful precision I opened the door, making sure to be quiet, and stepped inside. Quickly, I scanned the hall. I didn’t see anyone. I’d beat him home. Closing the door behind me, I snuck down the back hallway. I had to be careful. Reid could never know I watched him. I backed up slowly, controlled my breath, and hid within the shadowed corner of the downstairs hall. He always stopped in the kitchen before making his way upstairs so he would walk right past me. For the past two years I had observed him. Dreamed of him. Longed to touch him. But today was different. Reid would leave soon. I’d burn his image into my mind, and fuse it with the desire I felt, the love I felt, the need for him that I knew would go unattained. Even within my fantasy, deep down inside, I always knew the truth. All I ever had was my wanting of him, yet I wished for the impossible. To be the kind of woman to turn his head. I wanted to be the woman who would make him burn. Footfalls echoed off the tiles of the kitchen floor, followed by the recognizable suctioned groan of the refrigerator door opening then closing. Next, came the 82 |

sound of him lobbing something into the trash. “Score!” he yelled. I held my breath. He’s coming closer. As I figured, he walked right past me, his black hair tousled and wet with sweat. He’d been jogging. Something he did every day. I envied Reid’s freedom, his strength. I admired his sense of adventure, his boldness, and as always I admired his body. Hungrily, I scrutinized him as he scaled the impressive staircase. He took two steps at a time until he reached the top of the stairs where he slowed. In a fluid forward motion he ripped off his dark blue Adidas T-shirt from over his head. My breath hitched. Light sparkled out in the color of a kaleidoscope from the stainedglass window on the landing of the second floor. As he passed, the colors shimmered over the curve and cut of his muscular back. Brilliant, bright, illuminated, these facets of colors fell across the side of his face. Blue-green hues danced off the sweat glistening on his forehead, and framed Reid’s features like artwork.

As an award-winning, bestselling, multipublished author, London is living her childhood dream. She knew all the scribbling she did, that big imagination of hers, and all those clamoring characters running around in her head would pay off someday.

reviews erotic

Mating Brand

Laurann Dohner Erotic Shapeshifter Heat Rating: 4 Brand meets his dream girl in college—a half-human, half-leopard shapeshifter who cannot shift. Werewolves and cats are natural enemies but the power of their sexual chemistry overwhelms them. She steals his heart and makes him whole. When she abandons him it fractures his world and he knows no woman can ever take her place. Though many seek his attention, he is cold and unattainable. The love they share is soul deep but the fate of Charma’s family lies in her hands. The memory of every heated touch they share will cut out both their hearts when she leaves him but to save them all, she must run. After nine years

of desolation and heartbreak Charma is back. She risks forfeiting her life to warn Brand of an impending attack but she doesn’t hesitate. Brand has her in his arms once more and he will never lose her again. Review: When Charma leaves her pack to warn her old boyfriend of an impending attack against him, she’s a half human and he’s a full-blooded werewolf. They had met in college and got together briefly and then she disappeared only to reappear years later. Once back together, Brand had decided that he wasn’t about to let her go again and Charma knew she couldn’t go back to her pack and was resigned to that fact. They made a sexy couple and it was a nice reunion. Brand’s cousin and a few other members of the cast including Charma’s sister were funny, charming and very supportive. It is definitely worth the visit so check it out when you get a chance. You’ll definitely like it. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews erotic

How to Handle a Heartbreaker Marie Harte Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 3

The second of a steamy new contemporary romance series featuring the tight-knit rough-andready McCauley brothers by rising star and USA Today bestselling author, Marie Harte. HE CAN’T GET HER OUT OF HIS HEAD It’s lust at first sight when Brody Singer first lays eyes on Abby Dunn. The dark-haired beauty looks a lot like a woman he once knew, who died years ago. At first Brody fears his attraction is a holdover from that secret crush, but Abby’s definitely different. She’s a lot shyer, a lot sexier and, despite her attempts to dissuade his interest, absolutely mesmerizing. SHE CAN’T GET HIM OUT OF HER BOOKS Abby isn’t having it. She’s still trying to put her last disastrous relationship behind her and overcome the flaws her ex wouldn’t let her forget. But somehow Brody isn’t getting the hint. It doesn’t help that when writing her steamy novels, she keeps casting Brody as the hero. Brody is more than happy to serve as her muse and eager to help make sure her “research” is authentic. But when their research turns into something real…will she choose her own happily ever after? Review: I liked that the author had them have some deep conversations as well. It was never all sex, all the time. This book was funny, too. It had some sad moments. Brody’s childhood was not so good, although thank goodness he had the McCauleys to help raise him. The author does a great job of setting up the next book. | Reviewer: Negar Arvanaghi |

Trusting Love

Billi Jean Erotic Multicultural BDSM Heat Rating: 5 When a man has given up on himself—it sometimes takes a woman to show him how much he can have if he trusts in love. Kristen Sawyer wanted nothing more than to forget everyone and everything after the death of her daughter. The last thing she every expected was to find the one man she’d never been able to have or forget—falling at her feet. When Robert woke up and discovered that he’d passed out from his wounds at Kristen Sawyer’s home, he knew he’d found the way to hold on—and to begin again. Now, all he had to do was eliminate the men trying to keep them apart, destroy the toxic drug in his system, and somehow make her want to trust in love. Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and non-consensual sex. Review: A contemporary romance with a touch of speculative fiction and high drama, Trusting Love opens the reader’s consciousness to national terrorism. FBI agent Robert McNeil is stunned when he discovers his team of select operatives from the Sentinels unit is a band of traitors who sell government secrets to the highest bidder. The duplicity is shocking and the research being sold is equally startling. The story makes the reader question if some technology is better left undiscovered. Drugs that make genetic modifications possible such as enabling an individual not to feel the effects of a mortal wound, and ones that can turn a woman into a Stepford wife type. Robert turns to the only person he can trust, Kristen Sawyer. Their reunion evolves into a heated romance and a happily ever after merger. The couple’s confrontation with the Sentinels is high drama and makes them durable in the reader’s eyes. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

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Ditter Kellen

EMBER BURNS Ember Wells knows the fear of having a serial killer set his sights on you. For one horrible year she became the target of one man’s twisted game. But with the killer convicted and behind bars, Ember’s life as a photojournalist has finally returned to normal. That is, until the sexy, mysterious, Angelo Dimitrov moves in next door. Now a copycat has emerged, with the killer’s M.O. and signature, including his interest in Ember. With fear her constant companion, Ember’s suspicions fall on her sexy new neighbor with one too many secrets. She can’t trust him, but she burns for him, and Ember’s heart refuses to believe the threats come from the Angel of her dreams.

Ember gripped his biceps to keep from crumbling at his feet. Her heart beat overtime, and she had to remind herself to breathe. The feel of his tongue inside her mouth coupled with his amazing scent left her dizzy. The kiss suddenly ended, and Ember opened her eyes to find him staring back at her with a look of regret. “You taste better than I thought you would…and someone’s at your door.” He paused with his hand on the knob. “Lock this behind me.” Without another word, he eased the door open and stepped out onto the porch, shutting it softly behind him. Ember engaged the locks and rested her forehead against the cool wood. I’m sorry, Clay. A pair of big hands flattening against the door on either side of her head startled her. “Boyfriend?” Angel’s deep voice rumbled in her ear. His intoxicating scent surrounded her in a cocoon of warmth and need that left her weak. She couldn’t answer. Apparently her ability to speak had left with the detective. “No?” He prompted with a slide of his lips across her temple. Heat flew through her body from the point of contact to pool between her thighs. She could only shake her head. A soft growl echoed around her. “He kissed you.” “No…” 86 |

The rest of her thought fled when something hard pressed against her ass. It didn’t matter that he was a complete stranger questioning, dominating her as long as he didn’t stop. “Close your eyes…Ember Burns.” The command was gentle, yet firm. Her lids slid shut. Even the endearment was sexual. She’d never had sex with a complete stranger before, but something about him felt right. The hairs on Ember’s neck rose. She tucked the evidence inside her purse and slowly stood. Something was off. Her gaze swept the room and landed on the slightly open bathroom door. The light was off, and she couldn’t make out anything but a shadowed outline of the sink. Ember forced her foot to take a hesitant step. It’s all in my mind. There is no one there. She took a shaky breath and inched closer. Her heart rate spiked with rounds of adrenaline. With every step she took, fear snaked through her body. Her hand lifted to hover over the knob. She flexed her fingers and cautiously wrapped them around the cool silver ball. A former 911 dispatcher turned author, Ditter Kellen writes romantic suspense with a twist. Blogging is also her passion. She resides in Florida with a guinea pig named Shadow.

reviews erotic

Passion at the Castle Diane Thorne Erotica Romance Heat Rating: 5

Gwenevere is in Ireland for the last stop on her European vacation. The peace and solitude at the luxurious Dromoland Castle is nice, but she misses the company of a lover, especially the ones she has met along her journey. Her time alone comes to a quick end when a young man and woman ask Gwen to have brunch with them. She joins them and soon discovers they are far more interested in her than she could have imagined. They find her attractive and invite her to a threesome. The request stuns Gwen and she is hesitant to hook up with them. No married couple, let alone a woman, has never approached her before. She reflects on the opportunities she’s taken during her trip. All the brief sexual encounters had left her with incredibly satisfying experiences. Why should this new prospect be any different? Gwen takes her chances and the playful couple show her intense passion that leaves her hungering for more. She spends the remainder of her stay with them and learns that love from a woman is just as enjoyable as it is from a man. Publisher’s Note: This book contains ménage à trois. Review: Fleshy, raw, and erotic, the story has bisexual leanings showing pleasure that can be achieved physically between a man and a woman, and a woman and a woman. The author orchestrates a very personal and intimate relationship between Gwen Stratten and an unconventional couple Susan and Jonathan Haggerty. They meet at Dromoland Castle while on vacation which stirs fantasies in the reader about seeking adventurous lands to find excitement. Though Gwen parts from the couple after her vacation, there is a sense that the couple made a permanent impact on her. One which she will take with her through the remainder of her life, and once again inciting fantasies that venturing outside of the mundane can be stimulating. The story is a part of a larger volume by Thorne in the Diary of a Free Woman, a sexual escapade to Gulliver’s Travels and Around the World in Eighty Days.

Rescued by the Buccaneer Normandie Alleman Erotic Historical BDSM Heat Rating: 5 When Frederica Beauchamp boards a ship for the Americas, she dreams of a life filled with adventure, but she gets more than she bargained for when her passenger ship is attacked by pirates. The heartless men kidnap her and force her to serve their captain. It will take a dashing French pirate to save her, but once Frederica gains her freedom will she surrender to her liberator in the hopes of capturing his heart? Review: Frederica Beauchamp is our heroine in Rescued by the Buccaneer an erotic, historical fiction novel. The year is 1665 and Frederica is aboard the Adelaide on her way to the Southern Colonies, when her boat is attacked by pirates and she is taken captive, sexually abused by the captain of the Neptune’s Damnation, Humphrey, and made to be his slave. Then Gaston Galette is found drifting in the sea and brought aboard the ship. After learning of the crew’s hatred of their captain he begins plotting a mutiny but, he’ll need Frederica’s help to overthrow her captor. Alleman created an easy to read, fast paced, lustful short novel that has the roughness of the high seas you would imagine of a novel filled with pirates. The story was well written, well developed and well researched, full of information detailing life on the high seas. While the plot was interesting, the methods used to instill the erotic aspect of the story were lacking. The sexual immaturity of the main character, Frederica, took away from the sexual aspect of the story instead of heightening it. I felt as if Frederica barely understood the sexual motivations of the other characters and was confused in many ways by her own sexuality. While some may find the plot and character interactions enjoyable, I find solace only in the descriptive writing and well imagined world. | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

| Reviewer: Susan Frances | July/August 2014 | 87

feature author interview

DC Stone


D.C. Stone is a romance author and full-time fraud investigator. She lives in the northeast with her incredibly supportive husband and two kids. After serving in the United States Air Force, she went on to transition into the world of financial crimes and became a lead investigator for many years. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, RomVets, RWA Kiss of Death, and the Liberty State Fiction Writers. She currently serves as the Vice President and 2014 Conference Chair for NJRW.

In your opinion, what makes a dynamic character? Someone who is memorable, who stands for what they believe in, carries the truth for all to see, and becomes a character that makes them unforgettable. As a reader, I want a character who will make me laugh, who I will shed tears for, or who I will cheer for. Creating a character like that can make the difference between a reader wanting more, or setting the book aside after the first fifty pages or so. What is your ideal writing environment? Ideal, or what I settle for? Ideal would be stuck out in the middle of nowhere, sitting lakeside behind a cabin. Toss in the two majestic mountains that collide on the other side of the lake for good measure…oh, and the closest neighbor can be no closer than ten miles away. Seeing as I’m currently ten miles from New York City, you’ll have to picture what I’m settling for… Can you tell us about your latest release? Intimate Danger is the first book in my new romantic suspense series, Empire Blue. In the small town of Nyack, New York, there’s someone on the loose who isn’t your average criminal. He’s got a thing for women’s lingerie, and his subtle B&Es start to progress into devastating murders and violent rapes. Small town Detective, Charlie Lopez, is assigned to investigate and finds herself partnered with FBI agent Trent Rossi. His dark, sexy looks and broody ways has Charlie’s desire surging for the agent—only to realize that his particular understanding of the criminal makes him a primary suspect. Agents Trent Rossi and Dillon Echols work closely with Charlie, but as the crimes progress, dark secrets begin to cloud the air, blurring the line between who is on the side of the law and who’s against it. Being Charlie’s first major case, she’s unprepared not only for the menacing killer on the loose, but also with the unexpected feelings Trent draws out of her. While Trent holds secrets, disappears at random, and seems to understand 90 |

their perpetrator all-too-well, Charlie’s suspicions grow along with the pull she feels toward him. Her attraction could become fatal, yet she does not realize it until it is too late. Give us a little background on yourself. I’ve served eight years in the United States military as a criminal investigator, and upon my end of service, I switched to the world of white collar crimes in the civilian sector. Within my company, I’m known as the “Investigator Whisperer” for the amount of confessions I obtain. I’m a mom of two wonderful and crazy children who are constantly gagging at my love for romance. And I’m married to my best friend—whom at one point before we started dating I couldn’t stand… ;)

A sleeping threat has awakened in the cozy village of Nyack, and Detective Charlese “Charlie” Lopez is tasked with stopping the deranged perpetrator. Ready to prove herself, Charlie’s surprised by the arrival of two FBI agents sent to assist, one of which is the charming and sexy, but guarded, Trent Rossi. As the crimes progress, so does Charlie’s desire to know Trent on a very personal level. She finds her attraction surging for the agent—only to realize that his random disappearances, his silence when questioned, and his exceptional knowledge of the perpetrator make him the primary suspect. Dark secrets begin to blur the line between who is on which side of the law. If she can’t solve these crimes, Charlie’s attraction to Trent could become fatal.

reviews erotic

A Little Death

Scarlett Parrish Erotic Paranormal Heat Rating: 4 Mallory’s liaison with the seductive vampire Jonathan was only supposed to last for one night, but fate—in the form of his slightly more sinister contemporary Cian Ambrose—has other plans. Seeing dead people is all very well…unless one of them wants to kill you. To Mallory Sharpe, vampires are a fact of life. They exist, walk the streets and for the most part mind their own business. As a second-year university student, she doesn’t pay the undead much attention until she meets Jonathan Cutler. He has needs, and blood is only one. The other, Mallory is more than willing to help him with. After all, he has but one rule, to never spend more than one night with a woman. He won’t get attached, or consciously put anyone’s life in danger..

to get a sentence out... anyone please! But that was the worst part. I mean if you’re going to jump into the fire, you have to be ready to get burned and I think it comes down to Mallory didn’t realize the situation but more so with Cian. And how could she really? And then Jonathan. Ohh... I’m not going to get started on that guy but even at the end of the book I just felt dumbfounded by his actions and reactions. You’re a vampire dude, man up!! So, all in all, this is way beyond sexy and the sex portions will have you reaching for water because wowza! But the plot was missing something. This ended on a total cliff hanger so Scarlett is probably working on book two and I’m curious if those plot holes will be filled in with a second book. | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |

Review: Whew... this started off with a bang (ha pun totally intended) and the characters really jump out at you. And boy was this sexy. Literally from the beginning it’s like sex oozes from page to page! But then the story kicks in and I started not appreciating the characters. You know when you’re watching a movie and the victim does something really stupid and you know they’re going to be in trouble but all you can do is sit and watch, and well let’s be honest, yell at that television or movie screen because we think that will help the character’s decisions. This was sort of like that. Mallory makes some really weird decisions and I just didn’t get it. I mean at first I was all into it and hey we only live once so why not go out and find some action but really? Has Mallory’s mother never given her the “He could be an axe murderer” speech? I mean when you play with vampires you’re probably going to get burned right?!! Well, Mallory is a strong girl and she surprised me more than once but what got to me was all the angst. She’s strong yet half of her sentences have pauses or ums or more ellipses because that’s the speech of a strong girl! And even the vampires have the same issue. Instead of screaming at her to stop doing stupid stuff, I was screaming for someone July/August 2014 | 91

reviews erotic


Tanith Davenport Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 5 Tara Thornton hasn’t spoken to her sister in two years, ever since Azure married the man of Tara’s dreams. Tired of the rift, Azure invites her to take a Mediterranean cruise on a friend’s yacht and, bowing to family pressure, Tara accepts. But Ryan has a way of getting under her skin, and Tara’s plan to get closer to Liam is rapidly losing its importance as Ryan begins to break down her defences. Can she let go of Liam, let Ryan into her heart…and tell Azure the real reason for her silence?

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Review: Davenport establishes a love triangle between two sisters, Tara and Azure, with Azure’s husband Liam in the center. Emotionally driven, the story concentrates on the sister’s relationship, their bond which Azure wishes to repair though she doesn’t understand why Tara withdrew from her suddenly. The narration delves into the sister’s minds, seeing their points of view which lead the reader along their journey to reuniting, becoming spectators of a drama speckled in scenes of sizzling intimacy. To the reader’s gratification, Tara slowly lets go of her attachment to Liam when another man comes into the picture, Ryan Hyde. A model of modern chivalry, Ryan is the type of guy that romance fans enjoy reading about and see wins the girl’s heart. Set on a Mediterranean cruise onboard a yacht, Davenport points out the difference between a crush and a love one can depend on a daily basis. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |


sneak peek

Bailey Bradford

UNEXPECTED PLACES Love finds you in the most unexpected places. Carter Hausemann loves his adventures in the great outdoors. He never feels as free and happy as he does when he’s hiking up a mountain or over a desert trail. After a childhood spent locked indoors, he craves the sunlight on his face and the blanket of moonlight. Unfortunately, he has to work, so his hiking trips aren’t as frequent as he would like. He has a new adventure planned, but little does he know, his real adventure will start at a worn-down looking club in Odessa, Texas. Carter’s dreams of finding his perfect men will become more than fantasy, starting with one sexy leather-clad man, Eddie Canales. What starts out as a night of debauchery turns into so much more. Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of male ménage.

I am very excited to be a part of Totally Bound’s new imprint, What’s his Passion. When I was asked to take part in it, I already had a full writing schedule for the year. However, I couldn’t say no to such an intriguing proposal. It meant some twenty-hour writing days to meet all deadlines, but it was worth it, and I am very proud to be in the company of such fine, talented authors on this project. Honestly, I was so thrilled, I had the short story turned in less than two weeks later. Getting to choose the passion for Carter, one of the main characters in Unexpected Places, was easy as I was on vacation when the email arrived about What’s his Passion. My husband and I were in Gila, New Mexico, gallivanting all over the mountains. So I thought, hiking is something that brings a person closer to nature and themselves, and that’s what I wanted for Carter.

Getting to extend his and Eddie’s short story into a much longer book that involves things hinted at in the short was a challenge and more fun than I can express. I hope y’all will enjoy both stories as much as I enjoyed writing them. And, I can’t wait to read the other contributing authors’ stories as well. Join me in discovering What’s his Passion at https://www.totallybound. com/imprint/whats-his-passion Excerpt from Unexpected Places “Hey, Carter, you headed out to Grayson’s?” Carter Hausemann bit back a groan. He hadn’t gotten away quick enough to avoid Mark Watson. Carter turned enough to watch him approach the elevator. Mark was an attractive guy, but he wasn’t someone Carter wanted a long-term anything with. Or even a quickie, for that matter. Mark skeeved him out. “Actually, I’m not,” Carter told him. He desperately hoped someone else would join them for the elevator ride down from the twelfth floor. Mark could be pushy to the point of obnoxious if they were alone. “I’m going home to prepare for the hiking trip I’m taking over the weekend.” Not that it was any of Mark’s business, but Carter hoped it would get the man to back off. Instead, Mark stopped just a little too close, but not so much that Carter could call him out on it. Well, he could, but Mark would likely tell him he was being paranoid—even though they’d both know better. “Hiking again?” Mark raked him with a calculating gaze Carter had seen too often. “Surely there are better things to do with your time?” July/August 2014 | 93

| Unexpected Places by Bailey Bradford | And that attitude was one of the reasons Carter would never want to hook up with Mark. Besides being a co-worker, he always had something bordering on snide to say about Carter’s love of hiking. Carter shifted his briefcase into the hand closest to Mark, forcing him to move back or get whacked on the knee. As tempting as it was to tell Mark to leave it, Carter wouldn’t do it. He was certain that, eventually, Mark would lose interest in him. “Nothing beats the great outdoors.” “Nothing?” Mark asked, skepticism layering over his features. “Uh huh. I’ve seen the Odessa Meteor Crater hiking trail and don’t see how anyone could want to bother with it more than once, yet you seem to practically live out there on the weekends.” Mark cocked his head and gave Carter a borderline leer. “If that’s the most fun you’ve had here in Odessa, maybe you’ve been doing some things wrong, because I can think of at least one thing that should top the great outdoors.” “Not if you’re hiking right,” Carter retorted. “Oh hey, here comes Becca.” He almost added, Thank God, but restrained himself at the last moment. “Hey, Becca, just in time,” Carter called out as the elevator bell dinged. Becca was his boss, and he’d never been so grateful to see her as he was at that moment. She got on the elevator with him and Mark after murmuring greetings to them. Carter made certain he stood on her right as Mark was to Becca’s left. “Are you ready for your trip? This one’s going to be different from your usual day-hikes out here. Think this will be a big adventure?” Becca asked him. She pressed the button for the ground floor. Carter smiled warmly at her. He liked his boss, was glad to be working on her team. “Hopefully it will be, yeah, though not the get-eaten-by-a-bear kind of adventure. As to being ready, almost. I’m quite excited about the weekend trip exploring parts of Big Bend. I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I moved here.” “You just have to pack,” Mark added, eyeing him as if gauging whether or not Carter had lied about that. “Exactly,” Carter agreed. “I was given a list of recommended supplies for the trip after I signed up for it. This’ll be my first weekend hike there. I’ve been all over New Mexico and Colorado.” Becca turned to him, effectively cutting Mark out of the conversation. “You know, your enthusiasm is inspiring. I think I’ll talk to Lee about taking the kids hiking soon. Plus, the exercise will do us all some good. Let me know what you think about Big Bend.” Carter nibbled his bottom lip, running through what he did know. The elevator reached the ground floor. The doors 94 |

opened and Mark hovered. Carter focused on Becca. “After you.” She started forward and he followed, asking her, “How old are your kids?” Mark’s annoyed huff was amusing to hear. Becca waited for Carter. “They’re teenagers, so lots of whining.” Carter laughed and was relieved to see Mark march past them to the front doors. “Oh come on, I bet they aren’t that bad.” Becca harrumphed and they walked together to the exit. Carter held the door for her, as he would have done for anyone else. Becca thanked him and their conversation resumed outside in the waning sunlight. “They are. I swear, I don’t remember being so annoying at those ages, but I’m sure my parents would disagree.” Carter imagined he’d been a pain in the butt to his mom at that age, too. He didn’t say as much to Becca and instead thought of something that might discourage her, though that wasn’t his intention. He merely wanted her to have the facts she needed to make a good decision. “Well, I do know that mountain lions are a danger, and it’s advised that small children not be out and flapping their arms and such. They tend to look like bait or prey to wild animals in such situations. But, I’m not sure about teens, or how tall your kids are.” “They’re taller than me, and I’m five-nine.” She laughed and shook her head. “I seriously doubt a mountain lion would want anything to do with a whining teenager. Poor cat would probably run far, far away.” She stopped at the entrance to the parking lot. “If you don’t get eaten, I’ll have to seriously consider taking the family there. There’s not a lot the kids want to do in Odessa other than movies and the mall.” “And you think they’ll want to hike?” he asked, doubtful that they would. Becca shrugged. “Don’t care, they’ll get out and do it before their butts become permanently affixed to the couch.” She cleared her throat and something about that made Carter nervous.

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out.

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| Nicole Morgan |

continuing stories

Nicole Morgan

One month ago . . . “Hello? Miss? Can you hear me?” I tilted my head up to the ceiling when I heard the strange man’s voice. The light got brighter, so bright that I had to shield my eyes from it. When I opened them again, everything had changed. I was no longer in my living room but lying down in the back of what looked like an ambulance. A man leaned over me, shining a pen light in my eyes as he spoke to me. The sound of beeping suddenly made sense when I looked over at a small screen that showed the squiggly lines of my heartbeat. “There you are. You gave us a scare there.

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| Sex & the Single Woman |

You’ve been out for thirty minutes.”

feel like some sort of a freak.

“I . . . don’t understand.” “It’s okay. Just take it easy. We’re on the way to the hospital now. You’ve gotta be the luckiest woman I know. The witnesses said that car didn’t even slow down.” “Car? I was in an accident?” “Yes ma’am you were.” “Wait . . . what is today’s date?” “Thursday, December 7, 2013. Why?” My mouth hung up in disbelief. How could that be? Just minutes ago, it was March. How did I lose three months?

I stepped out of my car, locked the door, and armed the alarm before walking to the main driveway of the parking lot. I looked for oncoming cars at least a half a dozen times before hesitantly walking out into the open. There were some people standing near the entrance who gave me some odd stares, but I didn’t care. They could judge me all they wanted. If they had been run down by a car doing forty plus miles an hour, I had no doubt they’d have the same reservations about such menial things. When I approached the door, one of the bystanders opened the door for me. I nodded politely and thanked them before stepping inside. The dim lighting and different hues of lounge lighting were a shock to my eyes. For the past month, I’d gone from the bright lights of a hospital to the safety and comfort of my own apartment. Courtney was the first to catch my eye. She stood up from a table in the back and motioned for me to come over. I smiled and waved back before making my way through the crowd. Jen was sitting beside her, and Kim was just making her way back from the bar where she’d obviously been flirting with the two men who were currently staring at her behind. “You made it!” Jen opened her arms and embraced me in a hug. “Like I had a choice.” I motioned my head toward Kim. “This one would just make my life miserable if I didn’t.” “Aww . . . I love you too honey.” Kim leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Come on. Sit down.” Courtney pulled out a chair for me. “So how are you doing? I know we’ve talked on the phone, texted, and e-mailed, but how are you really doing?” Jen asked. “I’m fine.” I replied. “Just fine? Or good?” Courtney asked. “Do you still have any pain?” “Nope, not a one. Haven’t taken in a pain pill in a couple of weeks now.” “Good. You hang on to those. You never know when they’ll come in handy,” Kim said while winking. “Good God, woman! Do you have a tactful bone in your body?” Courtney chided her.

Present Day . . . I squeezed my fingers tightly around the steering wheel as I made my way down Turlington Avenue. It was one of the busiest in the city and even worse at this time of day. It took all of my willpower to not turn my car around and go back home. I knew if I did though, it would only be met with Kim giving me an ear full of unwanted lectures about how I’m becoming an agoraphobic and will never fully recover unless I leave my apartment. I’ve heard it all from her more times than I care to remember. And what’s worse is that no matter how much I love her, she had become highly annoying in the past four weeks since my accident. So, reluctantly, I had decided to meet her and the other girls for our Thursday night drink date. That didn’t mean I had to like it though. When I pulled up to the bar, I parked as close to the front door as humanly possible without breaking the law. I couldn’t help my fear from creeping up every time I went outside. While I couldn’t or wouldn’t remember the accident, I still remembered the pain my body felt from it. And I had absolutely no desire to relive that kind of pain. Ever. As it was, it was hard enough realizing that my memories of Jack were completely made up, some sort of suspense fantasy my mind had concocted out of thin air. Per hospital policy regarding head injuries, I had spoken to one of the psychiatrists about all that I thought I remembered, but he assured me that a deep state of dreams was normal for many patients who suffered the type of head trauma that I had. Still, while he called it normal, I couldn’t help but

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| Nicole Morgan |

“Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not the only person who has found a little pain-killer mixed with a glass of wine and a hot man to be the best sex ever.” “This is why you should never have children.” Jen shook her head at Kim before returning her attention to me. “Don’t listen to her. Let’s get you a drink. What would you like?” “I’ll have a Long Island Iced Tea, but I’m warning you all right now that I probably won’t be staying that—” I stopped my words cold when I looked across the bar and saw a man standing on the far side of the room. I stood up, shocked and unsure of what to do, when I saw a woman come toward him and wrap her arms around him. It was a woman who looked all too familiar to me. “Hey, are you okay?” Courtney asked. “It’s them.” “Who?” Jen inquired. “Jack and his ex-wife, Mary. I knew I hadn’t

imagined them! They’re right . . .” When I looked back to point toward Jack and Mary, they were gone. I quickly scanned the room and couldn’t find a sign of them anywhere. I slumped down in my chair, feeling confused. “Hey, are you okay?” All three girls asked me. “I don’t know.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nicole Morgan is an author of erotic romance novels, which more often than not, have a suspenseful back story. While she’s written everything from contemporary to paranormal, her leading men will more than likely be wearing a uniform of some kind. From military to police officers, she has a love for writing about those who protect and serve. From her very first novel (which turned into a four-book series) about Navy SEALs to her more recent releases, you will be sure to find a few twists and turns you were not expecting. She is a proud member of the wonderful group of gals known as Four Seduced Muses and is honored to be a part of Romance Books 4 Us Gold Authors. Find out more about Nicole and her books by visiting her website, blog, Google+ Page, Twitter, Facebook and her Yahoo Group, Nicole’s Think Tank.

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Science Fiction | Fantasy | Paranormal | Urban Fantasy



Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars - awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars - a must read 3 Stars - really good read 2 Stars - this was alright 1 Star - hard to finish, flawed


1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language July/August 2014 | 101


reading trends in sci fi & fantasy

AliB FORTY and the

Spaceships Alex Bardy

People of Earth, Lend Me Your Books... “Witch Sight is the ability to see through ILLUSIONS and to spot Magical events, invisible persons, ELVES and the nimbus surrounding a Spellworking. It is a truly useful GIFT. All MAGIC USERS seem to have it. In some cases it entails the ability to see patterns that others cannot perceive.” —The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones

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| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships| This issue of BTS Book Reviews has a heroes and heroines theme, and at time of writing in the land of science fiction and fantasy, the Early Awards Season is in full swing—although depending on what obtuse works have been shortlisted this time round, it’s occasionally also referred to as The Silly Season. Occasionally. Not so this year. Founded in 2009 by the website, The Kitschies are a set of UK literary awards for “the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining fiction with elements of the speculative or fantastic,” and the shortlists for 2014 were announced in early January with the winners announced a month later. There are four awards, but the main fiction ones are The Red Tentacle for Best Novel and The Golden Tentacle for Best Debut Novel. In a snazzy award ceremony at London’s Seven Dials Club, the winner for Best Novel went to Ruth Ozeki for A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate), a title that also got nominated for the Booker Prize last year. The winner for Best Debut Novel went to Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (Orbit), a galaxy-spanning space opera that’s been garnering attention left, right, and centre given that it’s also a joint winner of the BSFA Awards (see below), alongside Ack Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell (Solaris)—mentioned in this column’s last issue... also won this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award (see below), was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award (see below), and has been nominated by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) for the 2013 Nebula Awards—the winner of this to be announced 17 May 2014—as well as making the shortlist for this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novel, the winner of that one to be announced in a grand ceremony at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention later this year (August) in London, UK. The winners for the 2013 BSFA Awards have also been announced. These have been given out annually since 1970 and are drawn from a list of nominations by members of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) and—more recently— attendees of Eastercon, an annual science fiction convention that takes place, you guessed it, over the Easter weekend here in the UK. The BSFA Awards are often considered true “fan awards” since there is no official panel other than the small team of people who simply compile the results from everyone else’s nominations. Like The Kitschies, there are also four BSFA Awards, for Best Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Non-Fiction, and Best Artwork. The joint Best Novel winners this year were: Ack Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell and Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, with Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer (Abrams Image) winning the Best Non-Fiction category. One of the little gems that also made it as far as the Golden Tentacle shortlist is Ramez Naam’s Nexus (Angry Robot); this is an excellent tale exploring the concept of a new illegal, mindenhancing drug that allows people to communicate through thought alone, but like any classic good vs. evil tale, there are those who would use it for good but probably twice as many that would use it for more nefarious reasons . . . Crux (also from Angry 104 |

| Alex Bardy | Robot) is the sequel to Nexus, and in this bio-techno thriller we find the foundations for global revolution being laid as the author gets set to expand his canvas to fully encompass every facet of the political and ethical issues surrounding his premise. The third and final part, as yet untitled, is due at some point later this year, so do please keep your eyes peeled for when it does appear as global carnage is virtually guaranteed. Oh, you want to know about some more Award Winners, do you? No problem . . .

The 2014 Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in original paperback format within the United States. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony itself sponsored by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society. This year’s winner, announced on 18 April 2014, was Countdown City by Ben H. Winters (Quercus Books), volume two of The Last Policeman trilogy; the first of which, called The Last Policeman (also by Quercus Book), won the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Original Paperback. As already mentioned, Ancillary Justice won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, an annual award given “for the best science fiction novel first published in the UK during the previous year.” Established with a grant from Sir Arthur C. Clarke himself, the winner is chosen by a panel of judges invited from the BSFA, the Science Fiction Foundation, and the SCI-FI LONDON film festival, and has been running since 1987. The Arthur C. Clarke Award is considered by some to be the most prestigious science fiction prize in the UK, and the winner receives a prize equivalent to the current year in GBP sterling, which is something not to be sniffed at (£2014 this year in case you need prompting), and this particular award always receives generous press coverage in the national broadsheets to boot. One of the Clarke nominees that has also made it onto the Hugo Award shortlist for Best Novel (alongside Ancillary Justice) is Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace/Orbit UK). I really liked Neptune’s Brood, it’s a clever tale that reads like a space opera but has a lot to say about the nature of money and debt. It also has bat-like intergalactic pirates who happen to be insurance adjusters, a space-going evangelist church, and a selection of privateers, and a quest for lost treasure, all told with typical Strossian flair and panache. A book well worth looking out for if

you haven’t seen it before. Just enough room for a selection of quickies, so here goes . . . Sarah Pinborough is probably one of the most hardworking writers I know, and I intend to cover more of her books next time, but do please keep an eye out for The Language of Dying (Jo Fletcher Books), an exceptional—and short—piece of work written in the second person as a kind of love letter to a dying father. Haunting, eerie, and beautifully written, this has been one of my all-time favourite books from the last five years or so, and I’d urge you to seek out a copy to fully experience her sparkling prose for yourself. Anne McCaffrey is probably best known for her countless Dragonriders of Pern novels, but the American-born Irish writer also wrote a staggering amount of other genre fiction spanning many different universes. To this end, I’d like to introduce you to her not-so-well-known Freedom series (aka The Catteni Sequence), written at the tail end of the last millennium and set in a universe where subjugated humans are unceremoniously dumped on apparently empty, uninhabited worlds purely to see whether or not they survive, thus paving the way for the Catteni to settle them at a later date for their own race. Of course, things are never that easy, and we soon find that the Catteni themselves are also being subjugated, but in a completely different manner and by another alien species, the Eosi. Freedom’s Landing is the first in the series (all July/August 2014 | 105

| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships|

published by Corgi and available via Kindle), and is set on planet Botany, where a group of humans and a noble Catteni defector manage to forge the beginnings of a survivalist colony. Book 2, expands on this much further; with the humans (and their Catteni aide) forging a full-blown colony and capturing a couple of Eosi/Catteni ships with which to steal and import much needed supplies to bolster and support the colony. In Freedom’s Challenge, things turn full circle as the human colonists use their ships to strike back against the Eosi in an effort to rescue the families of dissident Catteni rebels and ultimately help free planet Earth and other planets from Eosi suppression. Finally, Freedom’s Ransom is arguably the weakest of the bunch, and details the efforts of a small team from Botany as they battle greedy merchants and try to reform a battered Earth in the wake of Eosi departure. All are a very far cry from McCaffrey’s Pern books but, nonetheless, are a worthy read, and by a true mistress of genre fiction to boot. Make a point of investigating them today.

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ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Alex Bardy lives in a very dark place, below a small dank stairwell, beneath a dark step, under a speck of dirt, tucked away in a cold, dark emptiness, somewhere on the fringes of the charming, historical city of York, in the North Yorkshire area of the UK. He also writes as DenizenOfTheUniverse under his Twitter moniker: @mangozoid. He is a contributor, reviewer, and word-lender to the British Fantasy Society, and an active member on the board of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), mainly responsible for the design/ layout of their publications, coupled with an occasional foray into writing/interviewing.

reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Cougar’s Mate

Terry Spear Paranormal Shapeshifter Heat Rating: 4

Instinct told her to run… Shannon Rafferty learns that hanging out with the bad boys could be a dangerous business, but hooking up with a cop is even worse. Now she’s on the run, trying to avoid being murdered by his cougar shifter brothers and uncle. If that isn’t bad enough, a deputy sheriff hunts her down while she’s running as a cougar and trying to survive in the Colorado wilderness. He vows to protect her no matter what she’s done. With three dead boyfriends to her name, she’s sure she will be the death of Chase Buchanan before either of them can prevent it. No matter how much she knows she has to run again, he soon holds her heart hostage. But will that be enough to keep them both alive? Chase Buchanan—as wilderness cabin resort owner, former US Army Special Forces, and part time deputy of the small town of Yuma, Colorado that boasts a love of cougars—is tasked to track down a cougar reported to be hunting human prey. Chase soon learns she’s a shifter, not a full-time cougar, and she’s on the run. When he takes her in, he vows to protect her. After losing his wife and baby to the human kind of predator years earlier, he’s not letting Shannon’s hunters kill her, too. But how is he going to hold onto the wild-cat woman, who is unpredictable at every turn, without losing his heart to her, and then losing her as well?

catch her, the question is can he keep her safe and hold on to her? This is unquestionably one of those books that is a keeper for re-reading over and over again. I cannot wait to see what Ms. Spears comes up with next. She is an author that you give her a blank sheet of paper and she will write you an amazing tale. | Reviewer: Annette Stone |

Review: Hot, hot, hot!! What more to really say. Terry Spear’s new book which is the first in a new series is a must read. Shannon and Chase are two characters you can easily fall in love with. Throw in the danger that Shannon manages to find herself in and you will find yourself turning the pages to find out what happens next. Shannon definitely gives Chase a good run before he manages to

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reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Vampire Trouble

Sara Humphreys Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 4 A fledgling vampire ignites a war... Maya remembers the last moments of her life as a human with haunting clarity, and every man she meets pays the price...until Shane. Finding herself in the middle of a bloody fight between vampires and werewolves, Maya has no choice but to let the devastatingly sexy vampire guard get close to her. And that’s not all that heats up... Shane Quesada, a four-century-old vampire sentry, is known for his cold, unemotional precision, but once Maya begins to invade his dreams, his world is changed forever. His job to protect her is swiftly replaced by the all-consuming need to claim her as his own

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Review: Sara Humphreys takes us back into her enchanting world of sexy, hot and entertaining vampires. Maya is a youngling and a royal pain who hates feeling restricted and she soon finds herself drawn to Shane, not something she is overly thrilled about. Shane has his suspicions that he and Maya are bloodmates when he can walk in the dreamscape and discovers he is in Maya’s dreams or actually her nightmare. When Maya finds herself being wanted by the werewolves it is up to Shane to protect her and prove to her that she is strong and can also protect herself. This book captured my attention from the first word! Sara Humphreys writes a titillating tale that has you engrossed with the storyline and her characters. If you are a lover of paranormal romance or if you have never read one before I suggest you read this one. | Reviewer: Annette Stone |

reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Now and Then Willa Okati Gay Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

Robbie and Ivan wrought havoc on their first chance at love. Can they mend their fences and find their passion the second time around? Soulmarked as mates, Robbie and Ivan come from different worlds. Robbie’s the oldest son in a long line of outlaws who live squarely on the wrong side of the tracks, and Ivan’s family tree is packed with law enforcement. That didn’t stop them from falling in love, but when they risked tearing each other apart, they cared enough to let go and hope they’d find a better life. Years later, the strength of their soulbond still burns bright when chance brings Robbie and Ivan together at the game of the year. The passion they felt for one another is powerful as ever, bringing them into explosive contact. They’re not the boys they used to be—Robbie’s turned his life around and raised his younger brothers to be good men, and Ivan’s learned to stand tall and mix justice with compassion. But though they want to hope they could be happy now, not everything has changed. Maybe not enough has changed. Or has it, after all? It’s up to Robbie and Ivan, now. Only they can make the choice that will change their lives forever.

them, which I found somewhat disturbing, whether lovers or friends a one sex world seems out of balance. This simple lopsidedness of this all male world threw me as the reader for a loop. I sought to understand why this civilization had no females. More background in the beginning would be a plus. Overall Willa Okati has an elegant, amorous way with her words and Now and Then was an engaging read which kept me turning the pages to understand the flaming desire between these men which easily translates to lovers anywhere. | Reviewer: Lisa Klaes |

Review: Now and Then by Willa Okati is a story of lovers bound by their soulmarks. Robbie and Ivan found each other at a young age and troubled by life circumstances were driven to separation. Many years later they happen upon each other and the love and fervor they once shared still burns deep inside each man. Soulmarked is a story of passion and life. Robbie, as a young man was put into the position of raising his younger brothers while Ivan followed the path of his ancestors. It is merely a twist of fate that brings them together again. Willa Okati has an impeccable talent in relaying the thoughts and emotions of the men within the novella. She reaches inside and draws out their feelings and emotions, showing women that men are just as passionate about love. That being said I was somewhat bothered by the absence of any women. It was as though they lived in a world without July/August 2014 | 109

feature sneak peek

Lia Davis


After losing her parents in a brutal attack from a monster straight out of her nightmares, Gwendolyn Preston tries to pick up the shattered pieces of her life. Just when she believes her life could go back to normal, the deliciously dark and handsome Markus Sullivan disrupts her hopes to grieve in peace. As the son of Ares—god of war— Markus Sullivan and his brothers’ number one priority is to stop the earthborn demi-gods from starting another rebellion against the gods. That is until he meets Gwen, the granddaughter of Aphrodite, and the next target of the descendants. Together, their path is rife with passion and danger. It might take more than the son of War to win this battle…Gwen herself.

Studying the man at the window, Gwen felt a strange pull toward him that she’d never experienced before. The feeling was more of a knowing. There was something familiar about him—which was ridiculous, because she’d never met him before. As if sensing her intense stare, he turned. Gwen took a step back at the intensity in his gaze—his eyes were so dark, they looked black. When he walked toward her, her heart sped up and a wave of hot desire rushed through her. Without realizing it, she crossed the room until they met in the middle. She blinked as he raised his hand and ran his knuckles down her cheek. “Impossible.” He whispered, but it didn’t quite register. Breaking eye contact, he took her hand and spoke with a smooth, but husky voice. “I’m Markus.” “Hi.” Wow. Was that all she had? A gorgeous man touched her and suddenly she regressed to fifteen, crushing on the quarterback? You’re pathetic. Gathering what composure she had left, she tugged her hand out of his and stepped away. She needed to clear her head. “This is a beautiful house.” “Thank you.” His husky, sensual reply heated her skin, making it feel tight and highly sensitive to how close his body was to hers. Sidestepping him, she put a few more feet between them and glanced at Elle. Annoyance rose up at the sight of her sitting next to Seth and watching him playing a stupid game. Seriously? Wasn’t she supposed to have Gwen’s back? 110 |

Frustrated, she turned, only to find Markus several inches from her. Startled, she lost her balance and had to reach out and grab his biceps to steady herself. That was it. “What’s your problem?” The corner of his lips twitched. “I don’t have a problem.” “Do you always crowd people?” The twitch in his mouth turned into a grin. “No. Only you.” “Lucky me…” She stopped talking because his black eyes shimmered with flecks of blue, then his pupils lengthened until they looked like a cat’s. Her pulse hammered under her skin and her breaths came in short gasps. No. Those were not cat eyes. “Dragon,” she managed to whisper right before she bolted for the door.

Lia Davis is the author of the bestselling shifter series, Ashwood Falls, a mother to two young adults and three kitties, and a wife to her soul mate. She and her family live in Northeast Florida battling hurricanes and very humid summers. But it’s her home and she loves it!

reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

The Sexy & The Undead Charity Parkerson Fantasy Romance Heat Rating: 4

A potion gone wrong, or right? Single, unemployed, and in charge of her very own pet zombie, Ella Perry is cooking up trouble, and it’s raining men. Ella has spent years searching for a cure for a zombie named Freddie. However, when an experimental concoction takes an unexpected turn, she gets a glimpse of the life she’s been missing by hanging out with the undead. Review: What a delicious short book. The Sexy and the Undead by, Charity Parkerson, is filled with angels, dark

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angels, fairies, zombies, witches and so much more. Ella a witch with a pet zombie. Freddy is feeling quite lonely one night so she conjures up her perfect man. Samuel, a tall dark, shirtless, kilt-wearing angel, appears. Ella, who has bee trying to find a cure for Freddy’s zombification, enlists the help of Samuel. Together they set out on an adventure to turn her pet zombie back into a human. I really enjoyed this short story. The story moved quickly but it kept the same pace throughout the entire story. I wish that it were a longer book, it would have been nice to have a deeper background on each of the characters. The Sexy and the Undead is a humorous tale that doesn’t lack steamy sex scenes. I look forward to reading additional books by Charity Parkerson, and would recommend this as an introduction to her work. | Reviewer: Brittany Hale |

reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal


V.A. Dold Shapeshifter Romance Heat Rating: 4 Anna James is single again, finally. In her opinion, men are self-centered and will never love her for who she is, a beautiful, plus-sized woman. All except the fantasy man that she’s been meeting in her dreams for five years. She just never expected her fantasy to be a real live alpha shifter... Cade Le Beau isn’t what he seems. He’s a billionaire wolf. A Shifter. He laments his missed chance six months ago to meet his fantasy woman in the flesh. Just as his second chance presents itself, his fantasy woman, his mate, is threatened by the local mob boss and her ex-husband. Now, he has forty-eight hours to deal with this threat once and for all or chance losing her again. Is it Anna who’s in danger, or the humans who unwittingly threaten her? The heat is on the moment they lay eyes on each other. Neither, age, children, horrid ex-husbands, nor mob bosses will stop this love affair.

The Zoastra Affair

Victoria Pinder Science Fiction Romance Heat Rating: 3 A hundred years from now, Earth has trading partners with alien beings, mostly humanoid. However, going into space has brought forth an unknown enemy who attacks Earth at will. The Zoastra are part of the Earthseekers, an organization originally designed to go into space. Its new mission is to find Earth’s enemies. Ariel, stuck on a Victorian planet, steals Grace’s body in order to get off the planet. Now Grace must get her body back before Ariel bonds with Grace’s husband, Peter. Then there is Cross, the man on a mission to find those who killed his family. Ariel is attracted to Cross, but she’s stolen someone’s life. What can she do?

Review: Who doesn’t love a shifter? I know I do and V.A. Dold delivers with Cade. I was engrossed from the minute I read the blurb and was sucked in from cover to cover. I love that Anna is not your typical woman you find in most romances. She has curves. The pages heat up with the chemistry between Anna and Cade and throw in the mob and ex-husband and you have a story with action. I know I have found a new author to watch.

Review: Ariel has been trapped in a body that is not her own, on a planet where women are expected to live in service to their men. Once a valued engineer, she is unable to cope with life in her new body. She will stop at nothing to get her body back, but is she willing to switch bodies with another women? Is she willing to trap another women in the hell of a society she has been trapped in the past four years? Grace, an Anthropologist/Sociologist, goes to the planet of Sheraton, expecting to receive a relaxing day at the spa. She not only seeks a little relaxation but also is hoping to find a woman living on Sheraton who is unhappy with the inequality that occurs on this planet. Betrayal, friendship, unlikely alliances and love, The Zoastra Affair was a highly enjoyable science fiction adventure. One doesn’t have to be a die-hard science fiction fan to enjoy this book.

| Reviewer: Annette Stone |

| Reviewer: Brittany Hale |

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reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Sunrise Over Brasov Stephanie Burkhart Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 3

Rosa Getzi lives a life of intrigue at Poiana Brasov with Clement, a werewolf, and Cassandra, the witch. Her past doesn’t matter to her – until she discovers what it holds. Prince Michael Sigmaringen joins his sister-in-law, Caroline, and the vampire prince, Darius, in a daring rescue, igniting Rosa’s desire to find her family. However, all is not as it appears. Rickard, Rosa’s friend, escapes with her. Clement will go to any lengths to get Rosa and Rickard back. At Darius’ fortress, Michael soon discovers Rickard is a new breed of werewolf – one who can control the change, and Clement hopes to exploit Rickard’s abilities. Michael’s courage, strengths, and convictions will be tested like never before. Can Michael and Rosa find true happiness and the rid the lupine haunting of the Sigmaringens once and for all? Review: Rosa and Michael made a very good couple even though she was a bit apprehensive when he rescued her and she didn’t want to go with him. She didn’t want to go, because she didn’t know him, though she kept getting the feeling that she knew him from somewhere. It had a lot of magic, suspense, werewolves, witches and a very good gothic-like story. It kept you on your toes and you rooted for Rosa and Michael to actually get together and become a team. It also had humor. Case in point, Rikard managed to follow and locate Rosa in his werewolf form and Michael was scared to let him in. It took some convincing, but she actually managed to convince him, against his better judgment, mind you. So even heroes, can get a little timid, and unsure about certain things. This is the third book in the series and it is really good, so if you get a chance, check it out. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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Her Perfect Mate

Paige Tyler Shapeshifter Romance Heat Rating: 3 He’s a High-Octane Special Ops Pro When Special Forces Captain Landon Donovan is pulled from an op in Afghanistan, he is surprised to discover he’s been hand-picked for a special assignment with the Department of Covert Operations (DCO), a secret division he’s never heard of. Terrorists are kidnapping biologists and he and his partner have to stop them. But his new partner is a beautiful, sexy woman who looks like she couldn’t hurt a fly—never mind take down a terrorist. She’s Not Your Average Covert Operative Ivy Halliwell is no kitten. She’s a feline shifter, and more dangerous than she looks. She’s worked with a string of hotheaded military guys who’ve underestimated her special skills in the past. But when she’s partnered with special agent Donovan, a man sexy enough to make any girl purr, things begin to heat up... Review: Her Perfect Mate, is the fantastic story of Ivy and Landon, new partners in a super secret agency. They have to learn to trust each other fully, which is easier said than done. Ivy has been burned by partners before, and Landon really doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. But he’s a quick learner and is definitely noticing that things in this organization are a little strange. As Ivy and Landon go through training and then into missions together, they realize their mutual attraction, but both of them have been burned before and agree to keep things platonic. As their missions heat up, so do things between them and then Ivy is captured and Landon’s most dreaded requirement of his new employer is upon him, if captured he is to kill Ivy, but can he do what he has sworn to do? | Reviewer: Drue Hoffman |

reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Claimed by a Demon King

Felicity Heaton Fantasy Romance Heat Rating: 4

The moment the demon King Thorne of the Third Realm set eyes on the mortal huntress Sable, he knew she was his fated one. The fiery, dangerous female awakened hungers he had never experienced before, a dark craving and passion that has consumed him in their time apart. As the lunar cycle wanes, she enters his world again and nothing will stand in the way of him claiming his forever with her.

Review: Sable was a hardened military officer who’d seen just about everything. She was totally unaware that she’d be the fated mate of a demon King. The Demon King in question was called Thorne and he knew his mate because of the steamy dreams they both shared. It had unexpected humor and quite a few funny lines. Sable and Thorne made an unusual and interesting couple, because he was a demon and she was a mere mortal, but somehow they managed to make it work. The supporting cast was really good so even if this is not the type of genre you’d normally read give it a try. You just might be pleasantly surprised. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Passion in the Blood Margaret L. Carter Vampire Romance Heat Rating: 3

Cordelia and her twin sister don’t realize the mother who left them soon after their birth bequeathed them a dark bloodline. They are half vampire. Although human in most respects, they have certain psychic gifts. A friend of their late father’s, Karl, a vampire, has been watching over their family for generations to honor his love for their distant ancestor. When her sister is kidnapped and Cordelia must beg for help from Karl, she learns the truth about his vampirism and her own heritage. Review: Passion in the Blood is a paranormal romance novel

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about Cordelia, a young woman who learns the truth about her family after her twin sister Miranda has been kidnapped. The ransom for her sister is a leatherbound journal that she must steal from Karl, her father’s friend, executor of the family’s estate and unbeknownst to them, a vampire. He catches Cordelia in the act and eventually divulges to her the truth about her mother, Corrine, who is a vampire as well. Her blood flows through the twin’s veins and because of that they have their own psychic abilities. Margaret L. Carter’s Passion in the Blood was a suspenseful, easy to read, well-written novel full of supernatural elements and intense attraction. Cordelia was simply trying to save her sister. She recognized she was different from other people because of her ability to sense the emotions of others, influence animals and become invisible, but she never imagined that her mother was a vampire. She was filled with fear at the realization but she also yearned for the truth. Karl, who swore to protect the family, tried to

reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

guide and help Cordelia but the passion between the two was incredible and even though both feared the possibilities they couldn’t resist each other. I enjoyed this novel. The characters were interesting and their attraction fascinating. More developed relationships between characters would have improved the novel. It would have added necessary depth and information into the characters motivations. | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

The Genie Smolders Kellyann Zuzulo Fantasy Romance Heat Rating: 4

Zubis. A jinni. A creature of fire. A lover who touched Bethany’s body and soul like no man ever could. He swore to love her forever, but betrayal and ancient promises tore them apart. Bethany escapes with their child. When their baby is snatched, Bethany will reunite with Zubis in a storm of heady desire and deadly intrigue. Together, they reignite a smoldering love that has the power to set two worlds on fire. Review: The Genie Smolders is a paranormal, suspense novel about a woman, Bethany, fighting to get her daughter, Fia, back after she has been kidnapped. Imtiri, a genie with a mission to open the portal from her world so the jinn can once again rule over humans, has taken the half-human, half-jinn child as a ransom. Bethany must find Fia’s jinni father, Zubis, and bring him to Imtiri so he may open the portal. It’s been two years since she has seen Zubis and now she must find him and free him if she ever wants to see her child again. Kellyann Zuzulo created a fast paced, well written, interesting novel with The Genie Smolders. In this novel the jinn are described as the fallen angels described in the Bible. Imtiri represents those still fighting to resume power over humans. Zubis does not share Imtiri’s views and has loved Bethany as she is now and as she was three thousand years ago as Lina, a priestess meant to learn the ways of the jinn. Now the child that Zubis and Bethany share is showing signs of her jinni lineage. Bethany fears that kidnapped, Fia may be used against the human race to release the jinn into the human realm. I enjoyed this novel. Zuzulo created an imaginative story with historical and biblical references dating back to the time of King Solomon. Full of imagination and mysticism, with a little romance, a fan of this genre would definitely appreciate this novel. | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

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reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

One Bite Per Night Brooklyn Ann Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 3

Vincent Tremayne, the reclusive “Devil Earl,” has been manipulated into taking rambunctious Lydia Price as his ward. As Lord Vampire of Cornwall, Vincent has better things to do than bring out an unruly debutante. American-born Lydia Price doesn’t care for the stuffy strictures of the ton, and is unimpressed with her foppish suitors. She dreams of studying with the talented but scandalous British portrait painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence. But just when it seems her dreams will come true, Lydia is plunged into Vincent’s dark world and finds herself caught between the life she’s known and a future she never could have imagined. Review: Lydia Price and Vincent Tremayne are interesting characters placed in challenging circumstances that require them to be dependent on one another. Their bond seems natural at first and promises to put them on the course to a happily-ever-after conclusion. The couple is set up to grab the reader’s attention; however, as the story progresses, the pair becomes less interesting and may even turn some people off with Vincent’s penchant to suck the blood of smugglers and doxies and Lydia’s proclivity to leap forward without looking. Fusing a historical romance with paranormal aspects, the story intends to bring together a couple who are different species. However, their merging isn’t as complimentary as the author leads the reader to believe. It’s fascinating how the author crafts a subculture of vampires living along the fringes of mortal society, but it’s a storyline that she started and didn’t follow through with during the read. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

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Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | Horrror



Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars - awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars - a must read 3 Stars - really good read 2 Stars - this was alright 1 Star - hard to finish, flawed


1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language July/August 2014 | 121


reading trends in mystery & more

Scrying EYE The

Kelly Hudson

Of Murder, Intrigue, Adventure, Curses, the Undead, and Lurking Evil Welcome back, friends and neighbors, to the newest showing of the Scrying Eye! The crystal ball is ready, having had ample time to relax and recover since our last viewing. It has been burning hot with desire to show you all the latest, greatest, and upcoming fiction in the world of Suspense, Mystery, and Horror. That’s right, dear readers, the Eye has changed its focus, narrowing in on tales that will confound, stories that will delight, and accounts that will raise the hair on the backs of your necks! So come, step inside, make yourself comfortable. Sit ’round the crystal ball as I remove the cover. Open your eyes and gaze into . . . The Scrying Eye! But be careful, for sometimes, the Eye gazes back into

you . . .

July/August 2014 | 123

| The Scrying Eye |

Suspense/Mystery American Appetites by Joyce Carol Oates (HarperCollins— available July 15, 2014) is the long-awaited return to print of an all-time suspense classic. Oates is an incomparable writer and with this rerelease of one of her earlier gems, you have the chance to delve into one of her timeless stories. Ian McCullough has been happily married to his wife Glynnis for twenty-six years. Ian is a researcher at a social think tank while Glynnis is the author of several successful cookbooks as well as a dazzling hostess. Their happy marriage is destroyed one night when the couple gets into a vicious argument over accusations of infidelity, an argument that ends with Glynnis plummeting to her death. Was she pushed through a plate glass window or did she fall? Only a jury can decide, because now Ian is on trial for his life and the suspected murder of his wife. How could so much happiness and success fall apart in the matter of a few moments? Find out by delving into this delicious thriller, brought to you as only Oates can, with plenty of wit, charm, and chill. Gold Digger by Frances Fyfield (Witness—available July 15, 2014) is the newest US release by the best-selling British author and is another mystery to confound and delight. Thomas Porteous lies dying in his aging mansion while his younger wife Di attends to his every need. Di is the sole heir of Thomas’s fortune, but that will change if his remaining relatives have anything to do with it. They all believe they are owed a portion of his vast wealth and regard Di as a gold digger and unworthy of the money. As the collection of relatives circle around Di, they seek to crush her, exposing secrets from her past in hopes to discredit her and bring the money to them. What they did not count on was her will to defeat them and what follows is a deadly game of cat and mouse as the relatives gather at the mansion to pay their condolences. Di sets her traps to uncover their greed, but will she succeed or fail? Read on to find out in this tale of twists and turns and sharp suspense. Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster— available July 15, 2014) is a stand-alone novel by the master of Cajun mysteries that follows the life of a young boy from a chance encounter with Bonnie and Clyde through World War II and to the oil fields along the Texas-Louisiana coast. At age sixteen, Weldon Avery Holland gets involved in a robbery by Bonnie and Clyde, putting a bullet through the rear window of the escaping thieves’ car. Ten years later, Weldon is all grown up and in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge, which he barely escapes alive. While there, he falls in love with Rosita Lowenstein, with whom he returns to Texas and marries. But the adventures don’t end there. Weldon finds himself in the middle of more trouble as he enters the vicious oil business and squares off against a former 124 |

| Kelly Hudson | Marine, haunted by wartime guilt, and that man’s wife, a spiteful anti-Semite who is determined to make Weldon and Rosita’s life a living hell. And it is here where Weldon learns that peacetime America is even more dangerous than the criminals of his youth and the wars of his young adulthood. Is there a way out of the trouble coming for Weldon and Rosita? As always, Burke writes a scintillating tale full of action, intrigue, and apprehension.

Horror! Witch Island by David Bernstein (Samhain Publishing—available now) is an old-fashioned tale of ancient curses and evil revenge brought to you by a writer who keeps the action flowing and the scares coming. A hundred years ago, it was said that a witch was burned to death on this small island, a witch who placed a curse on the land, swearing her vengeance. The residents of the isle, afterwards known as Witch Island, perform a series of rituals to keep her spirit trapped on the atoll, unable to pursue them. Now a hundred years later, a group of foolish teens decide to skip their high school graduation ceremonies and have a little party on the supposedly haunted island. They’re not scared, of course, but they soon will be, as the legends prove themselves true, and the Witch begins to stalk her victims, one by one. This is a throwback to the old days of horror, but do not be put off by the simple premise because Bernstein brings the juice, and the juice runs blood red! The Eric S. Brown Zombie Omnibus by Eric S. Brown (CreateSpace—available now) is a vast and exhaustive collection of Brown’s tales of the living dead. This compendium includes short stories, novelettes, and novellas from the very beginning of Brown’s career up to the present day. Contained herein are tales of classic zombies, thinking zombies, animal zombies, clown zombies, superhero-fighting zombies, and stories set in outer space as well as the past. If you like zombies, you’ll find something here you’ll absolutely adore. Brown is a darling of the underground horror community, and this plays as a greatest hits compilation of his work and an excellent place to begin your introduction to a prized and valuable writer.

Violet Lagoon by John Everson (Dark Arts Books— available now) In this tale, the reigning master of terror introduces us to a quartet of co-eds who decide to travel to an abandoned Florida Key and reenact the movie The Blue Lagoon. What was supposed to be a weekend of kinky, sexy fun turns into a nightmare, as an evil no one saw coming stalks the partygoers. And soon these young scamps find that instead of entering a sexual adventure full of pleasure and fun, they are instead entering a world of horror filled with terror and pain. This story was originally broken-up and used as a prologue and flashback device in the novel Violet Eyes. Here it is collected in its full, finished form. And here, as always, Everson delivers the heart-pounding thrills he is famous for. And with that final tale of terror, the Eye closes, and we slip the cover over it once more so that it may rest and gather energy to look further into the future and bring us more tales of suspense, mystery, and horror. It is time to go home, dear readers, and time to take the information that you’ve gleaned here today and apply it to your reading future. Go forth and read the tales presented to you and enjoy all the pleasures, frights, and chills they bring. And return again next time, as the Scrying Eye opens yet again . . .

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST Kelly M Hudson is the author of two horror novels and dozens of short stories, including a piece in the recent D.O.A. II collection by Blood Bound Books. You can find links to all of his works by visiting if you dare!

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reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Murder Comes Ashore Julie Anne Lindsey Cozy Mystery Heat Rating: 2

Patience Price is just settling into her new life as resident counselor on Chincoteague Island when things take a sudden turn for the worse. A collection of body parts have washed up on shore and suddenly nothing feels safe on the quaint island. Patience instinctively turns to current crush and FBI special agent Sebastian for help, but former flame Adrian is also on the case, hoping that solving the grisly crime will land him a win in the upcoming mayoral election. When the body count rises and Patience’s parents are brought in as suspects, Patience is spurred to begin her own investigation. It’s not long before she starts receiving terrifying threats from the killer, and though she’s determined to clear her family’s name, it seems the closer Patience gets to finding answers, the closer she comes to being the killer’s next victim.

high school sweetheart, Adrian, is running for a local political office and everyone is wearing Team Adrian T-shirts until Team Sebastian T-shirts start popping up. Everyone on the island gets into it adding to the quirkiness of the story. Julie Ann Lindsey gives Patience Price and the entire island, including each and every character, depth and quality. She uses first person and Patience’s thoughts to narrate, guiding the story from her perspective. She adds to the recipe of the novel the correct, helping of description to give the reader a clear vision of events through tickling all the senses. For the mystery buff Murder Comes Ashore is a fun read that will have you rooting for Team Adrian or Team Sebastion. | Reviewer: Lisa Klaes |

Review: Murder Comes Ashore by Julie Ann Lindsey reminds me of an Agatha Christie novel only with more humor and sarcasm. Patience Price the protagonist is the daughter of vegan ex hippies. Her life jumps from one awkward, hilarious situation to the next. Starting with an ear, she finds on the beach during a non traditional counseling session. Yes, she is a counselor at a small island, whose office was blown up and now works wherever her clients want to meet and gets paid in services mostly rather than money. Body parts keep washing up, threats are left at her doorstep along with dead birds. The birders are in town for to catch a glimpse of the Black-Tailed Godwit, and the entire island is choosing sides on her love life. Body parts are found everywhere she goes. She perseveres to solve the crime when her folks, get blamed for the murders and have to do a stint in the local jail. She manages to get a few details here and there, although her boyfriend Sebastion the drizzling hot FBI guy wishes he could get her to drop it and allow him to do his job. As dead birds strangely show up on her front porch the birders naturally accuse her for animal cruelty as she is caught red handed. Her best friend and July/August 2014 | 127

reviews mystery | suspense | horror Stalked

James F. Broderick Thriller/Horror Heat Rating: 4

What happens when what you know can’t explain what you experience? That’s the crisis facing Kelsey Kane, a twenty-seven-year-old single mother who’s desperately trying to build a life for her and her seven-year-old son. As she nears the end of her formal education—and is tantalized by a life just beyond her reach—she finds everything she’s learned in graduate school is about to become academic. Kelsey will encounter a fierce reminder of the limits of logic—as well as her own insecurities—as she battles to save herself, her son, and her sanity from the clutches of a creature that can’t exist—but which does Review: Kelsey Kane is a 27-year-old graduate student. She is close to presenting her paper so she can move on in her chosen career, crytozoology. This science search for and study animals that are disputed to even be alive, such as Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster Along for the ride is her young son. Life isn’t hectic enough for this single mom. Her professor calls her in about one of the animals in her paper, the Indiana Corn Weasel. Reports have been coming in of natives witnessing these creatures that, according to Kelsey’s paper, do not exist. Telling her this is an opportunity of a life time, she receives a grant to travel to prove or disprove the claims. Kelsy just wants to present her paper and move on but instead uproots her small family to check out the reports. The adventure begins when she witnesses one for herself. Simply put, I absolutely loved this book. I read it in a day and a half. The characters were well- developed, the descriptions used were dead on. The plot never wavered or stalled. If are into mystical creatures and love a great page turner, this is the book for you. It had a bit of everything. You had religion, a pretty young mom, a rural area where anything can happen and a cast of characters that make your root for some while others not so much. | Reviewer: Sharon Williams | 128 |


sneak peek

KJ Montgomery TROVE

An investigative mythologist, seeking hidden clues to uncover the secrets of the mythic Norland, joins forces with an archaeologist searching for clues, in an attempt to bring a murderer to justice. Forced to deal with their simmering attraction and hidden secrets, can they stay out of the killer’s cross-hairs? Alec heard the car before he saw it. The engine was revving and heading straight down Adams. It slammed to a stop beside her, and a huge gorilla of a man stepped partially out, keeping one concrete post of a leg in the car, and grabbed Katie’s arm. He was trying to drag her into the back of the late-model sedan with its blackened windows when Alec ran around behind the car in an effort to reach her before she was swallowed by the gorilla. He saw her trying to dig her heels into the pavement to slow the forward momentum of the man pulling on her arm. Alec was almost within reach when the ape-man stepped completely out of the car and wrapped an arm around her waist, lifting her feet off the pavement. The ape-man turned and stepped back toward the car, the open door yawning like the mouth of a behemoth waiting to be fed. Because ape-man had her by her waist, her hands were free. In her left hand were the remains of her coffee. She reached over with her right hand and whipped the cover off, letting it drop, the plastic lid bouncing on the pavement. She transferred the cup to her right hand and let the liquid fly. He instinctively released her, bringing both hands to his eyes. “You bitch.” Alec was there to catch her as ape-man let her drop. He grabbed her hand and started back across Adams. She tugged on his hand, holding tight, and said, “This way. He can’t follow in the car.” She led them into the narrow pedestrian passage that was Crest Lane. Here, only a motorbike or someone on foot would be able to follow. They raced toward Oceanside, glancing back only once to see no one following. They kept running and reached Oceanside in record time. They crossed Oceanside and headed toward Colonial Wharf and their condo building. She was totally out of breath and slowing. He could see her starting to falter “I . . . I can’t . . . keep the pace,” she gasped. “Come on, Katie. We’re almost there.”

She tried to keep up but caught her foot on the brick walkway on Colonial Wharf and fell hard, landing on her hands and knees before collapsing on the bricks. “Alec,” she yelled. He stopped and turned. Katie was sprawled on the ground trying to get up, struggling as she was clearly out of breath. He scanned the people walking along the street end of the wharf, checking for signs of ape-man. He ran to her and helped her stand. Taking no chances by staying outside in the open, he scooped her up and headed quickly to the front door.

KJ Montgomery loves a challenge and multi-tasking. It’s no wonder then that her stories dare the reader to look beyond the obvious as she takes them on entertaining adventures wrapped in romantic suspense. A firm believer that legends and myths are based on fact, she weaves the ancient tales into her contemporary stories, each with a unique spin. Late at night when the NH skies are clear and the stars are brilliant against the black velvet canvas, you’re likely to find her gazing at the heavens searching the Milky Way. July/August 2014 | 129

reviews mystery | suspense | horror

The Martin House Trina M. Ward Horror Heat Rating: 4

Just learning how to channel his visions, Brice wasn’t prepared for what he came face to face with during a paranormal investigation at the Martin House. His visions of what was there were so vivid he could smell the stench of the thing’s rotting flesh as it decayed off of its bones. There were eight others depending on him to come up with answers. And not just for their psychology thesis paper. Their lives hung in the balance, even as Brice began to have trouble differentiating between reality and his visions. Was he losing his mind? He had to find a way to save the group, but the entity dwelling within the house wasn’t going down without a fight. As he prepared for the possibility of death he also prepared for the battle of his life. Review: Well, this started off and it was reading sort of like a manual. I explained to the hubby that it was in third person and he helped me to realize that this can be a plus for some books. It wound up being a plus later on in this story. The main thing is that there are quite a few characters. They are all described at once so instead of feeling that almost intimate getting to know you, I was just reading their bio’s. But I got over that once they got TO the actual house. The plot started getting eerie real fast after that! The storyline behind the plot also started coming out in bits and pieces, mainly through one of the characters that is psychic and I enjoyed those portions the most. The downside was the way some of the information was given and the fact that all these college kids seem to be totally willing to accept the fact that there could be ghosts. I just didn’t agree with that. There had to be a really pessimistic and vociferous one of the bunch, but there wasn’t. Of course when freaky stuff started happening, that’s when I really got into it. But, that was about 40% into the story. From there it gets gory, like crazy gory, and the ending was phenomenal. In short... this was like a gory version of Alfred Hitchcock.

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Horror fans will enjoy, if they can get past the way the characters are introduced. | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |


sneak peek

H.T. Barkman

ZION’S CROSSING Described as Amish Macabre, ZION’S CROSSING is the tale of Amish twin savants, Jed and Anna. On their first Rumspringa outing, a tragic car accident leaves the twins in equal parts peril and self-discovery at the local hospital. A coma-stricken Jed battles for his very soul against a Deathrunner whose intent is to send him to Hell. His guilt-ridden sister suffers her own demons in the shape of narcotics. Journey with Jed through an Amish version of Dante’s Inferno and experience the heartache and triumph of redemption

Jed opened his eyes. The bright sun glared down on the fields alert to the impending butchering from the blades of his tractor. His head felt like an ice pick pushed its way from the inside out. Jed shook his head, focusing on the landscape. The tractor weaving to the right disrupted the straight lines in the field. A lightheaded Jed corrected the course. He didn’t remember being in the field and couldn’t recall his last memory. Even the tractor felt new. Jed tried to recall if the elders allowed tractors during certain times of the harvest. He seemed to be driving it with no problem. Feeling misplaced, he blamed the sun for burning too hot and causing his mind to play tricks on him. He searched across the fields. Of course, Anna wouldn’t be anywhere in sight, but he wanted to see her nonetheless. He wanted see her safe. His head argued against the strain. Shielding his eyes from the sun and not finding her, he decided to take a break, perhaps get a glass of water. Putting the tractor in neutral and turning off the engine, he stepped down and lumbered toward the house. The long rows of corn shot up as his feet touched the ground. The stalks towered over him and took on an existence he found unnerving. One step at a time and in desperation he avoided contact with the corn. The stalks blocked the sunlight, dimming his path. Jed stopped. Confounded, he held his position until he regrouped by mapping out the field in his mind’s eye. Countless times he played and plowed this field, yet now, he was lost. Thick corn disoriented him, and the vastness of this particular field daunted him. The stalks grew higgledy-piggledy. Each journey begins with a first step. One foot in front of the other he walked,

determined to reach the house no matter how long it took. The earth hardened against his boot, and the dirt squeaked like an old floorboard. Weaving through the corn stalks, the brittle shunts snapped at the lightest touch when he failed to avoid brushing against it. Swaying in a nonexistent breeze alerted Jed to another possibility. He might not be alone. “Hello?” he called, not yet afraid but pulse quickening to the breaking point. The earth stood still, halting on cue, alarming Jed. Palms heating up he reached in his pocket and grabbed his handkerchief to wipe them off. The action seemed strangely reminiscent. Déjà vu, hadn’t he just reached for something... smokes...? Was reality turning into a dream or vice versa? He couldn’t decipher which was which. “Keep walking,” he told himself. Starting again, the corn rustled. “Who is it?” He forced a calm tone into his words. Hands reached his shoulders from behind and he jumped. “Gotcha!” yelled a voice he recognized. Spinning around, he saw Anna taking a few innocuous steps back and laughing hard. “Anna!” he shot back, his pride injured from spooking himself. “What are you doing out here?” he asked her, hoping she didn’t notice his wimpy reaction. Snatching his hat, he wiped his brow again. The sun was a scorcher today. Anna continued laughing and ran, catching him off guard. “Wait,” he called and ran after her. The stalks rustled from Anna’s passing, and he followed the noise but saw no telltale signs of where she went. The stalks reacted differently to Jed. They seemed to now break from July/August 2014 | 131

| Zion’s Crossing by HT Barkman | the mere intention of his touch. Wondering if the Red Sea parted this way, he found the scenario doubly creepy. The moaning stalks fell over like a whooshing wave from his glance. Not blocking the sky anymore, it announced a set sun. “Anna, hold up,” he yelled, all reservations dropping by the side of the field. Hearing her reassured him he was going the right way, even if he couldn’t find trace evidence of her trail. Why will she not answer me? As quickly as the thought flitted across his mind, Anna’s laughter ceased. “Anna?” If she ditched him, then someone else could hear his calls. Swallowing hard and feeling childish, Jed whispered one last time to no one, “Anna.” His pace slowed as he saddened. Somehow following the path the corn laid out for him seemed detrimental in the end, but his limited options extended only to the sight in front of him. With Anna’s laughing absent, Jed couldn’t follow her. “This isn’t funny, Anna!” She hadn’t the power to make the sun go down and raise the night. How can he blame it on her? But he did. Wondering why he bothered straining to look ahead, he went on for quite a ways until the silence stole his other senses and rebuked his ears. The corn shuck runway ran out into the yard. Jed caught the blessed sight of his house. A single light lit the darkness, radiating the single thread of smoke finding its way to heaven from the chimney. One look deceived his nose into smelling it. His heart slowed and he picked up a brisker pace. Joy hastened his stride. He’d plot out his revenge on Anna later. Approaching the house, the light grew dimmer instead of brighter and the smoke hung like a picture frozen in time. His heart quickened again till his chest hurt. Reaching for the front door handle, his free hand went to take off his hat which he discovered had fallen somewhere in the fields. Taking a deep breath, Jed turned the brass handle on the front door. Heat escaped from the inside, blowing past him, and tearing at his vest. Coming in, he closed the door and the hot wind subsided. The outside of his house appeared normal, however the interior didn’t. A single black light hung from an extension cord, dancing to a song somewhere deep inside Jed’s head although he couldn’t really hear it. The black walls swirled with unintelligible designs of neon peach and lime colors. The walls swayed to unheard sounds. Jed reached for the wall to steady himself and closed his eyes. Gulping down sour anxiety, he counted all the prime numbers to five hundred and fifty seven. The structure of the hall appeared correct, but had mutated into a sick haunted house. His voice shied away from calling out for anyone. The further inside he went, the more sounds emerged. His steps forward made little 132 |

progress getting down the hall. If he made it to the kitchen, maybe things would take a turn around. He reasoned the sun must’ve blistered his brain or dehydration was wreaking havoc and he was entertaining hallucinations. “Do you need help?” The speaker sounded a little mentally handicapped from a slight lisp. Jed turned to find a young boy of eleven reaching his hand forward, offering guidance. His thin medium brown hair hung lifeless in a bowl cut with the top of his head coming to a peak, either from his bad haircut or his actual head pointing. The little boy smiled. Jed inquired, “What’s your name?” “Odysseus, but my friends call me Od for short,” the boy replied, but he pronounced Od as odd. “I’m Jed...” “You need help,” the little boy said. “Yes.” “Follow me. You hungry? Wanna go to the kitchen?” “Yes, that’s where I’m heading. It’s a good thing you’re here,” Jed said. Od’s clouded blue eyes made it hard to read his reaction. He appeared to be smirking, but Jed didn’t want to believe that, for it anticipated bad news. He couldn’t trust smirking or a smirker. Taking Od’s hand, Jed held on quietly. Being unnerved by a little boy wasted energy Jed needed to solve bigger problems. The painting on the wall faded into the recesses of the paneling the further they travelled down the hall. Jed was aware he had walked and made no progress, but when Od found him the journey sped to magnificent speed, therefore Jed became grateful for this little boy. “Hey, you!” a shrill voice shouted. “Let go of my son, you pervert.” Jed recoiled at the language and spun around locating his accuser. A pretty middle-aged woman stood, feet spread apart in a firm stance, with her fists on her hips. Jed let go of Od, but Od’s grip continued to clench his hand. The mother ripped at her hair, continuing to scream profanity at Jed, demanding the release of Od.

HT Barkman lets ideas find her and then writes their stories. As an “author without a genre”, she has novels in the works about everything from gothic romance to fantasy. Currently she is a nontraditional student studying Philosophy. HT Barkman lives in northeast Ohio with her husband and youngest daughter.


sneak peek

Jenn Nixon

LUCKY’S BREAK After almost losing her uncle Phen during the investigation of her mother’s murder, Felicia “Lucky” Fascino cut all ties and ran away, hoping her family would move on and forget the promises they made. Kenji Zinn, determined to locate his ex-lover, finds Lucky on a small island in a miserable and self-destructive condition. He persuades her to come home, but only Phen convinces Lucky that the way to get closure is finding a man named Quimby and taking him out permanently. Lucky returns to work for the network, struggling through each job, aware that pushing everyone away won’t bring anyone peace. Before it’s too late, Lucky realizes Kenji is her best ally to help finish what she started and find Quimby before he strikes again.

Kenji is at ‘the compound’ recovering… Kenji jerked up, waking the instant the doors shut. Looking over, he saw her walk in. His heart thumped. His stomach churned, causing the wound to throb. It felt like he was dying a slow, poisonous death. Wearing a sports bra and tight spandex shorts, Felicia moved to the mat and stretched. The thick, curly locks pulled back to reveal her stunning face and bright golden, catlike eyes. She appeared healthier, vibrant again. Filled out, with the curves he loved to trace. Kenji shuddered, attempting to ignore his natural response to her as he stood up. Noticing immediately, she spun around and gawked at him. “Didn’t know anyone was here.” She turned, picked up her towel, and went for the door. “Felicia,” he said and crossed the room, forcing his body to move faster than it liked. He winced near the treadmill, paused,

and grabbed the rail. She lurched forward. “Easy,” she chided and bit her lip. “I am fine,” he said. “I will be leaving shortly.” “Okay,” she said while hanging her head. “As long as you’re well enough.” “Irrelevant. I have stayed too long.” “Don’t let me being here stop you from getting better. You won’t see me again.” Her tone turned tight, sharp. He bridged the distance slowly, nearing the weight bench. “Until you sneak into my room again.” Felicia whipped around, storming toward the exit. “How long will you ignore what you feel for me?” “What?” She seemed genuinely shocked by his question but didn’t miss a beat with her retort: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Why did you come to my room?” He followed her to the exit. “To say good-bye,” she said. “Every word you speak is a lie. You do not want me to leave anymore than I want to go.” “Keep telling yourself that, maybe you’ll believe it one day.” “Is it so hard to admit you care?” She paused at the door and stared at him, emotionless. “No, you are too stubborn. You will realize you want me, and it will be July/August 2014 | 135

| Lucy’s Break by Jenn Nixon |

too late. I hope you are willing to live with your choice.” “I am,” she said. “Go. All you do is run away.” He wave at hand to the door and shook his head. “Screw you.” “Do you fear what I make you feel that much?” “Listen, I just wanted to tell you my side, okay? That’s all. I know what I did was wrong. I tried to make that perfectly clear. It was despicable and hurtful. The drinking wasn’t an excuse; it’s just an explanation. I wasn’t myself. I don’t expect you to accept my apology. I just wanted you to have it because it’s the right thing to do. Gives us both a clean break.” Kenji wasn’t getting through; Felicia ignored everything he said. He didn’t care about that anymore. He wanted her to admit the truth. Confess what he saw in her eyes. Want him to stay. “You think a few words etched on a sheet of paper are a proper apology? Why not tell me to my face?” Her pitch rose. “You didn’t want me to know you were here. Why would I think you’d want to see me?” “You were on assignment. I know you did not need another disruption.” He looked knowingly into her eyes; she glanced away. “I said I would never trouble you again, and I have stayed true to my word. You approached me.” “You barged in on my family!” “They offered help if I ever needed it. I left you alone,” he said, the anger seething like an overcooked broth, rising to the rim. “If not for you, this injury would not be here!” “Oh, so it’s my fault you did a shitty job?” She placed both hands on her hips in defiance. His blood boiled, but he didn’t dare move closer. Then she laughed. Kenji almost snapped. “It’s all over your face; you fucked up all on your own, fella.” “You know that is a lie. Have you been flawless these last few months?” “I’m fine,” she said, slapping her thighs. “You have wanted to tell me how sorry you are, for this long, and I am supposed to 136 |

believe you are fine? The shame must have been torture for you; a confession only helps so much.” “It was an explanation.” “How long have you wallowed in your suffering?” When she glared at him, he smirked. He had ammunition to use as well. “I know you, Felicia.” “You used to.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “I see through your armor, remember?” Felicia tilted her chin higher, eyes narrowing. “I’m bulletproof now.” “I waste my words on you,” he said and approached. The slight trembles in her body told him the truth. Yet she stood there, resistant as ever. He looked down at her before passing. “Sayōnara, Felicia.”

Jenn’s love of writing started when she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Jenn adds a thriller and suspense element to everything she writes. She spends her free time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her dogs, and working on charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

Young Adult | New Adult | Childrens


BEYOND the fairy TALE

Featured Authors,

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BTS REVIEW RATINGS: 5 Stars - awesome book, read it now! 4 Stars - a must read 3 Stars - really good read 2 Stars - this was alright 1 Star - hard to finish, flawed


1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language July/August 2014 | 139


reading trends in young adult

Forever YOUNG Kellyann Zuzulo

The Eyes Have It: Hot Doesn’t Mean Handsome

Hot heroes in YA fiction have a way they look and a look they give. Physical descriptions in this genre diverge from the descriptions of the big boys (i.e., new adult, adult romance, and erotica), in that YA readers don’t necessarily want to focus on the minute details of members and glutes. (Tip: when writing romance fiction, never use the word “minute” and “member” in the same sentence.) Angst and emotion are how a hero heats up. Descriptions will reflect this delicate balance between lust and yearning. Balance “pecs” with “respect.” Describe longing as opposed to “long”; intense rather than “immense.”

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| Forever Young |


The look a hero gives his heroine goes a “long” way toward bringing the character to life. The eyes have it. The eyes are the windows to the soul (alternately credited to the Bible, Matthew 6:22–23, and previously to Cicero). Readers and authors in YA fiction recognize that eyes can be beautiful, even if the face is ordinary. Augustus Waters, the hero in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, is a normal-looking charmer, cancer survivor, and amputee. That’s really what the message is today in YA fiction. It’s a good message. The appearance of the package (and I don’t mean “that” package . . . I mean the whole person) is not as important as the character that shines through the hero’s actions, words, and eyes. Here are some more tips in recognizing or writing a hot hero in YA:

• Smolder, simmer, gaze, study, watch . . . but never stare. That’s just creepy. • Eyes can fix, focus, or gaze unwaveringly . . . as long as the focus is on the object of their desire and not on a blank space. • Steady gaze. The hero won’t look away too quickly. • He may look down at his shoes, showing uncertainty in how to proceed, and that’s just cute. • He squints in the sun, but never with confusion. • Intense and serious, perhaps, so that when he smiles, your heart breaks. • Then again, there’s the fun and vigorous friend with a ready grin and a rakish wink.

EYES • Eye color must be as unique as the individual; not just hazel, but storm gray or as bright as polished pewter. • Green flecked with gold • Cobalt eyes spangled with teal • Large brown eyes that shine with mischief • The eyes are clear; they shine, they sparkle, they wink. Go easy on the blink


• As the eyes were unique, the hair can be a wavy, flopsy mop of curls. It doesn’t have to be trim and coiffed. Just memorable. That also means that it doesn’t have to be perfect or even full. Bald can work as a description with body (i.e., a bad-boy biker with a heart of gold or an easygoing athlete confronting

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| Kellyann Zuzulo |

chemo). The way the details are written show readers that we are all an assemblage of many pieces, with many opportunities to be seen as “beautiful.” • A mix of colors is appealing, not just blond or brunette. • Straight and coarse, his ginger hair stood on his head like a wreath of autumn leaves, Pan-like and boyish. • His hair was close cropped, glinting like a cap of gold on an angel. • A coil of hair from his crown of unruly curls fell across one eye. • Sandy hair edged with gold. • Black hair as glossy as a rainy-night sky.

even before she clarifies this, any reader can see that there is something infinitely appealing in Simon’s bespectacled eyes, “the color of creamed coffee.” His loyalty to Clary and his unrequited affection for her highlight his allure. Teens are excruciatingly aware of appearance and how they perceive the image that looks back at them from the mirror. Books that validate a sense of the ordinary while elevating the beauty of individual personality are what YA readers connect to. There’s actually a discussion on Goodreads about “YA with Ugly Protagonist.” As one reader writes, “I’m getting sick of the whole beautiful protagonist/love interest trope. Non-gorgeous people have lives, too!” Granted, there is still a lot of appeal in the nearly fantasy level of a gorgeous hero who is not directed by his looks. He sees the world and the women or men around him in terms of how he feels about them. That, ultimately, is the message in YA fiction today. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in the eyes of the readers.


These descriptions are not painting the hero as necessarily handsome or even pleasant looking. These are traits that lend character to the personality. Simon Lewis who isn’t described as handsome is a main character in Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. In fact, the protagonist, Clary Fray, notes that he becomes much “hotter” after he is turned into a vampire. But

Kellyann Zuzulo is an editor and author. Her novel The Genie Ignites was a finalist in the 2013 Abalone Awards, which recognize “Outstanding Ethno-Cultural Romance.” Her latest book, Ties That Bind, was released in April 2014 and published by Boroughs Publishing Group. She is working on the next installment in the 101 Nights series. As an editor, Kellyann edits both fiction and non-fiction books for clients who seek clarity, continuity, and beauty in their written work. Kellyann is a member of International Thriller Writers, Backspace Writers Group, and Romance Writers of America. She lives on the East Coast with her husband, three children, and two terriers.

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feature author interview

Melanie Schwapp

Dew Angels

When writing a storyline, are you guiding the characters or are they guiding you?

Melanie Schwapp was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Two short migrations at two key stages of her life opened her eyes to the cultural and social discriminations in society, and thus began her quest for understanding through writing. At the age of five she moved to England with her family, where she was awakened to the nature of colour prejudice, and then during her late teens she attended the University of South Carolina where the subtle traits of discrimination cemented her interest in the social repercussions of theses prejudices. The novel “Dew Angels” explores the hidden aspect of prejudice and other social handicaps in Jamaican society.

When writing a book, I begin with a storyline which I have all intentions of sticking to. However, as the characters develop and become stronger, they seem to overpower my plot and take the novel into a direction which surprises even me! It’s a very exciting process since the storyline at times becomes completely unpredictable and unfolds before me as much as it does for the reader. Do you have a favorite character from your book? If so, why? My favorite character in my novel Dew Angels is definitely Mad Aggie. This character had just been intended to be a bystander on the roadside, but she grew into such a strong personality that she eventually became a larger, more influential part of the story. I love how much depth the secret past of Mad Aggie contributed to the storyline, and how much she aided in the development of the protagonist’s own character. Can you tell us about your current release? “Dew Angels” is a novel about courage. It’s a study of just how crippling prejudice can be, but how finding one’s true self and being able to accept that path, even though a painful one, can lead to this revelation. The book took me a total of six years to write, and was quite an emotional journey for me. I tapped a lot into my heightened emotions, so I would write during times of extreme sadness or joy with the hope that I would be better able to transfer these feelings onto the pages.

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Give us a little background detail about yourself. I grew up in Jamaica, West Indies, but spent a few key years of my life in the U.K. and in South Carolina. As such, I faced many instances of color prejudice which opened my eyes to the harsh reality of a disjointed world. I began to see prejudice not only in relation to color, but to gender, body size, educational levels and social class, and I realized just how much of the world issues arise from these prejudices. My novel “Dew Angels” was really a book I started as a sort of handbook for my children, because I wanted them to see just how much they could rise above the cruelty of the world and grow into responsible world citizens. Growing up in the countryside of Jamaica, I fell in love with nature, and even though I studied Hotel Management and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, I now have made a small career in Landscaping. My love of nature can be seen on the pages of my novel as I refer a lot to the soothing, searing beauty of the Jamaican countryside. I now live in Kingston, Jamaica with my husband and three children. To date I have written a children’s book Lally-May’s Farm Suss and the novel Dew Angels. From birth, Nola Chambers is rejected by those she should most trust. Born with dark skin into a family that prides themselves on light complexions, Nola perceives herself as worthless. Trying to overcome the brutalities in her life, Nola embarks upon a journey to unearth herself beneath the thick cloak of prejudice.

reviews young adult | new adult

Mary of Starlight Jeffrey Aaron Miller Young Adult Heat Rating: 4

After the events of Mary of the Aether and Mary of Shadows, Mary Lanham is on the run, desperate to stay one step ahead of the terrible Devourers who pursue her by the dark of night. She flees through lonely places, following country roads, passing through tiny towns and trying to stay out of the public eye. Meanwhile, back in Chesset, her friends find themselves under attack by Lookers who want to use them as bait to draw Mary home. A trap is sprung, and the whole world watches as universes collide in an explosive showdown that will change everything. Review: Mary Lanham is the female lead in this series. Picking up in this third installment, Mary recently left Chesset, Arkansas, with the intentions of drawing danger in the form of Devourers from her friends and loved ones. Life alone is a sacrificial, solitary existence for Mary, but one that is necessary. Things don’t go according to plan when the Lookers capture Mary’s friends and boyfriend to lure her into their trap. And, of course Mary takes the bait, and things really pick up and get interesting from there. The supporting cast of characters in Mary of Shadows is just as important and essential to the story. Mr. Miller did an incredible job with description, paying attention to the smallest detail. The story was fresh, the plot nicely paced, and the characters unforgettable. This is novel number three in the Mary of Aether series, so be sure to pick the others up as well, as I believe they are best enjoyed all at once. I would recommend this novel to fans of suspense, mystery, Sci-Fi, and overall readers looking for a great new series to get wrapped up in.

After Forever Jasinda Wilder New Adult Heat Rating: 2

Ever, I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m a castaway. Lost. Drowning. I love you. That’s the only true thing I know, and it’s all I have to hold on to. I love you. I’ll love you forever. Until the day I die, and I’ll love you in whatever world comes after this one. I love you so much, Ever. I miss you. Dear Jesus, I miss you. Come back to me. For forever, and after forever, Caden Review: Wonderfully Tragic - that is the best way to describe this book. Caden’s life is more upside down than it has ever been, at times he seems to literally be cracking up – losing it totally. Then MORE sorrow is dumped on him. Not much has helped keep him going and what has certainly should not be. By the end of this book I could look back and see the atrocious inner struggle and self-destructive and depreciating that Caden went through, and now his greatest hope and worst nightmare is upon him. Now that Ever has come to, what in the world will he do about Eden! | Reviewer Drue Hoffman |

| Reviewer Sasha Hibbs |

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reviews young adult | new adult

Forever & Always Jasinda Wilder New Adult Heat Rating: 3

Ever, These letters are often all that get me through week to week. Even if it’s just random stuff, nothing important, they’re important to me. Gramps is great, and I love working on the ranch. But...I’m lonely. I feel disconnected, like I’m no one, like I don’t belong anywhere. Like I’m just here until something else happens. I don’t even know what I want with my future. But your letters, they make me feel connected to something, to someone. I had a crush on you, when we first met. I thought you were beautiful. So beautiful. It was hard to think of anything else. Then camp ended and we never got together, and now all I have of you is these letters. S**t. I just told you I have a crush on you. HAD. Had a crush. Not sure what is anymore. A letter-crush? A literary love? That’s stupid. Sorry. I just have this rule with myself that I never throw away what I write and I always send it, so hopefully this doesn’t weird you out too much. I had a dream about you too. Same kind of thing. Us, in the darkness, together. Just us. And it was like you said, a memory turned into a dream, but a memory of something that’s never happened, but in the dream it felt so real, and it was more, I don’t even know, more RIGHT than anything I’ve ever felt, in life or in dreams. I wonder what it means that we both had the same dream about each other. Maybe nothing, maybe everything. You tell me. Cade *************************************** Cade, We’re pen pals. Maybe that’s all we’ll ever be. I don’t know. If we met IRL (in real life, in case you’re not familiar with the term) what would happen? And just FYI, the term you used, a literary love? It was beautiful. So beautiful. That term means something, between us now. We are literary loves. Lovers? I do love you, in some strange way. Knowing about you, in these letters, knowing your hurt and your joys, it means something so important to me, that I just can’t describe. I need your art, and your letters, and your literary love. If we never have anything else between us, I need this.

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I do. Maybe this letter will only complicate things, but like you I have a rule that I never erase or throw away what I’ve written and I always send it, no matter what I write in the letter. Your literary love, Ever Review: I am such a sucker for emotional books and Forever & Always did not disappoint. Caden’s life is an emotional rollercoaster, but the one constant is Ever. She is truly his lifeline. After 5 years of being open honest pen pals, Caden needs Ever more than his next breath. Armed with her address, he heads to her college dorm many miles away. When they finally meet face to face again, their love is explosive and the tears of joy fall freely. Then BAM! Life takes another nasty twist and you just can’t help but think, how much more can one soul take, as your heart breaks right alongside Caden’s. | Reviewer Drue Hoffman |


sneak peek


Born a slave inside a secret government biodome, Sunny O’Donnell becomes the unwilling victim in a political plot that sparks a rebellion. Accused of treason and facing execution, Sunny escapes with Jack Kenner, a man she considers her enemy and discovers she not only has to work with him to survive, but lead the revolution. Find out why Readers Favorite awarded this debut novel 5 Stars and calls it a heart-stopping ride to the very end. An Amazon action and adventure romance bestseller! I had decided I didn’t want to give up on my plan to help change things. After all the hardship I had brought on my father and Summer, I owed it to them to try to make things right. I didn’t want to fail. Jack stood up and went into his T’ai Chi stance. I followed. He began the fluid movements and I tried to keep up, but he seemed to be going a lot faster tonight. “So you want to start stopping people in the hall and ask them if they want to join the rebellion?” Jack asked, his tone light. “Well, it sounds stupid when you say it like that.” “Alright, we’re all warmed up now.” Jack faced me in a defensive stance. “Take your best shot.” “I don’t feel like it anymore.” “Come on.” He flicked a hand out at me, stopping inches from my face. “Pretend I’m Reyes. You must be mad at him.” I threw the heel of my hand toward his face, which he blocked easily. I followed with a roundhouse kick at his stomach. He pushed me away. “That’s weak, Sunny,” he said. “Come on. The other night you just about ripped my head off when you were mad about Summer.” I had been really mad about Summer. Even the thought of her now in the clutches of that crazy president was making me angry. He had my father, too. My anger snuck out of the place where I thought I’d had it tucked safely away and gripped me again. I threw a punch as hard as I could at Jack, then another. He blocked them both, but I kept coming at him. First with my right leg followed swiftly by my left. He threw a right punch at me, but I pulled my head back and he missed. I instinctively knew

he was going to follow with his left fist, and I ducked. He missed again. He was smiling at me. I came at him to wipe the smile off his face, but he turned, and I missed. He grabbed me from behind. “I see the boyfriend isn’t the key to getting you mad. Your best friend is,” he whispered in my ear. I drove my elbow as hard as I could into his stomach. As soon as I made contact, I heard his breath forced out of him. I realized I might have hit him too hard. “I’m sorry!” I turned around to see if he was okay. He was bent over, holding his stomach. “Jack, are you hurt?” “I’ll be fine,” he choked out. I felt a little helpless watching him struggle to get his breath back. He finally straightened up and gently touched a couple of his ribs. “Nothing broken.” He limped off to sit in a chair. “Maybe I should have told you the first rule of sparring before I started teaching you. You don’t actually hurt your partner.” “Sorry. I guess I let my frustrations get the better of me.” “I don’t suppose there’s a hot shower in here?” he asked, even though he must have known the answer. “No.” I laughed at the thought. “But I can take you to the common bath.” He got up from the chair. “Take me.” I found a couple of towels and a bar of soap in a cupboard. “We only have about forty-five minutes left before lights out. We need to be back by then.” We left the apartment and headed toward the bathroom. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack changed his mind when he saw where he had to bathe. It July/August 2014 | 149

| Sunset Rising by S.M. McEachern | wasn’t anything like the private hot shower in his apartment. When we reached the common bath, I was silently relieved to see that the water had been changed recently. It wasn’t bad at all. “It’s freezing!” Jack exclaimed when he put his hand in the water. “I’m not getting in there.” “You don’t actually get in. Soak your towel in the water and wash off that way. You can dry with mine. You go first.” I started toward the door. “Wait. We’re supposed to be married. Isn’t it going to look weird if we’re taking turns in here?” “I’m not watching you have a bath. I’m only prepared to take the pretend marriage thing so far.” He gave me a wry look. “We’ll just turn our backs on each other. It will save time, and we can get back before lights out.” “I don’t know. It seems a little…intimate.” But there was a guard on duty within view of the bathroom, and he might wonder why we were taking turns. “I promise I won’t peek,” Jack said, but I wasn’t convinced. “Hey, I’m taking a big risk here, too. You know how many girls would love to see the Jack Kenner naked?” That made me smile. A week ago, that was probably true. “I can’t believe I’m going to do this. Turn around.” We both turned our backs on each other. I stripped as fast as I could so I wouldn’t have time to change my mind. I heard his clothes drop to the floor. An image of my hands on his naked chest came back to me, and a feeling of excitement began to grow in the pit of my stomach. If I turned around right now we would both be naked and only inches apart. A warm sensation spread through me at the thought, and my chest tightened, making it difficult to breathe. I wanted to banish the thoughts from my mind. I didn’t want to think of Jack in that way. I dunked one of the towels into the water and scrubbed my arms. The water was freezing and made me shiver, but at least now I could blame my heavy breathing on that. And I was grateful it was helping to douse the heat that seemed to be consuming me. When I was done, I rinsed the towel and stuck it out behind my back to pass it to him. “That was quick,” he said. I heard the water splashing behind me then Jack sucked his breath in. “Oh my god, it’s cold!” I dried off and put on my clothes. I waited for him to finish and get dressed before I knelt down to wash my hair. “Not so bad,” Jack said, but I could tell he was lying. He dipped his head in the water, ran the bar of soap through his hair, and then rinsed. I was still working on my long hair. A lot of coal was coming out, darkening the water and I felt a little guilty considering it had just been changed. I wrapped the towel around my head to hide my red hair

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until I could reapply the coal. “We better get back before lights out,” I said. Jack opened the door for me. “Even though it was freezing, it feels good to be clean,” he said. “I like the cold. It’s refreshing.” Maybe I would have to have a bath every night if my body was going to continue to respond to Jack like that, I thought. Back at our apartment, I busied myself hanging up the towels and brushing out my wet hair. I was feeling a little vulnerable without the coal, but knew I would have to wait until my hair dried before I could reapply it. The lights would go out any minute now. I put the brush away and turned around to find Jack flopped in a chair observing me. “What?” I asked. “Nothing.” He looked away. But there was something about the way he was looking at me… “Did you peek?” I asked. “Sunny,” Jack shook his head, but a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth and his cheeks turned pink. “Of course I peeked. I’m a guy.”

S.M. McEachern (also known as Susan) grew up on the rocky shores of the Atlantic. With a background in International Development, Susan combined her knowledge of international affairs with her love of action and romance to create the Sunset Rising series.

reviews young adult | new adult


Stephen H. King Young Adult Fantasy Heat Rating: 1

A child of two worlds, Alyssa has long been prophesied to leave her human mother to return with her father, the elf king, to the land of his birth to claim the throne that is her birthright. The crown does not come easy, though, as the Mississippi girl faces lessons and language gaps along the way. Her ranger-trained cousin and the dashing warrior prince are all who stand with her as she battles against magical foes in a land where the use of magic has been forbidden for centuries. Review: After years without any contact at all, Alyssa’s estranged father shows up to take her home to undergo the necessary training to claim her birth’s right to the throne in her father’s homeland. Think of this Alyssa as Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries, but with elves. Before cracking this open, I had the pre-conceived notion this was strictly a fantasy book and slightly worried this would be a horrible, sci-fi indie novel. I was blown away by the atypical, simple yet entertaining writing style. Similar to sitting down to chat with an old friend, this book drew me right in and I was hooked from the first page. The occasional description droned on and on, a careful balance between contemporary literature and the customary world-building of science fiction. A little bit too much talking about being sarcastic and too little sarcastic dialogue also hinted (and I do mean hinted) at a problem of show versus tell. Though the cover is misleading and the glossary should have been placed near the beginning, the text was impressively formatted. As a part of a series, the ending was exactly as it should be: an ending. I am delighted to know book three of this series is completed and the author is working on book two. I would definitely read the rest of this series. A clean read and suitable for all ages, I would recommend this without hesitation. | Reviewer Michele Biring-Pani |

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BTS Book Reviews eMag is proud to announce our first annual Red Carpet Review Awards for 2014. The awards will honor the best in literary and genre fiction. The presentation of awards will be conducted at ARC, Feb 27th & 28th, 2015 in Orlando, FL. Convention details will be released soon. AWARD 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. Reviewers Choice – Reviewers choose their favorite book. Staff and BTS family will vote for top winner, plus 2nd & 3rd place finalists. Cover, blurb, review and overall presentation to be considered. AWARD GENRES: All genres covered in the BTSemag 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. AWARD TIMELINE: Awards for 2014 will end with the November/December 2014 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 1st, 2014 in order to fit the timeline requirements. Any qualified books reviewed after the November/December 2014 will be considered for the 2015 Red Carpet Review Awards. VOTING: Voting will start in October. The top 3 Finalists in each genre will be announced on the website by December. We hope the Finalists will consider attending the Presentation of Awards. Every Finalist at the ceremony will be presented with an Award Certificate. BOOK SUBMISSION: Please submit your books for review consideration via our website. When your book is chosen for review, it will be published in the BTS Book Reviews eMagazine. Your book will automatically be nominated for a review if it receives a 4 or 5 star review. Please note: We are getting many submissions, and while reviews are not guaranteed, BTS customers are given first consideration for reviews. Note: Please note that reviews and awards are open to all. BTS does ask our reviewers give first consideration to authors who have bought an ad or feature. This is a courtesy we offer authors who work with us. There is no purchase necessary to have your book reviewed or to be considered for the Red Carpet Review Awards.

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July/August 2014 | 153

feature an interview

Keith Rommel


Interviewed by Danita Minnis

Keith is an award-winning author and retail manager. He’s enjoyed collecting comic books since he was a child (a hobby inspired by a teacher in grade school to help overcome a reading comprehension disability) and is a total nerd. Keith authored the critically acclaimed dark suspense Thanatology Series which has been called, “Horror for the curious mind” and includes the titles The Cursed Man, The Lurking Man and The Sinful Man. Keith has dabbled in psychological crime with the fast-paced You Killed My Brother and the soon to be released mythological novel entitled Among The People. Keith is the co screenplay writer for The Cursed Man movie being filmed in Los Angeles, California as a major motion picture under the same title (and he still doesn’t believe it’s true - but it is and someone needs to slap him!).

Keith, as the award-winning author of dark suspense, Death is never very far from your mind and plays a major role in your stories. I can’t think of anything more horrific than Death stalking someone. Can you? To me Death is one of the biggest questions to mankind. It is something that invokes fear and controversy. No matter your stance, we’re all going to have to face it one day. There is no escaping that fact. Some people might be afraid of it and others may welcome it. But I do think from time to time, no matter your stance, sometime throughout your life, the question of how and when it will happen plague us. That leaves another question and it is probably the most important one of them all. What’s on the other side waiting for us and did the way we lived our life affect what we’re going to face? That’s the place I like to tell my stories. The characters I focus on do not send a message of happily ever after. I need tension. Real life tension that puts someone face to face with Death. The entity, behaving in a way you may not expect. In all of the books in the Thanatology series, Death had a very specific plight. Maybe you’ll find yourself sympathizing with Death more than the main character because who says it’s easy taking a life? One particularly frightening aspect of your latest release The Sinful Man is the abject isolation Leopold experiences as he is being chased by the 154 |

mob in the woods. How important is psychological tension in your stories and what other goodies do you love to pull out of your Author tool kit? The fear of the unknown is a powerful catalyst. What’s on the other side of Death waiting for us and did the way we lived our life affect what we’re going to face? That’s the place I like to tell my stories. The characters I focus on do not send a message of happily ever after. I need tension. Real life tension that puts someone face to face with Death. The entity, behaving in a way you may not expect. In all of the books in the Thanatology series, Death had a very specific plight. Maybe you’ll find yourself sympathizing with Death more than the main character because who says it’s easy taking a life, even for Death? As your thriller The Cursed Man is being made into a movie, what are the challenges you faced bringing your characters to life on the big screen? The Cursed Man took me five years to write. I wrote the story by hand, and rewrote it more than a dozen times. The biggest challenge I had being so close to the story was which scene or scenes I had to cut out to get the movie to fit into a 2 hour window. What I was going through at that time often reminds me of the scene in the movie where the bad guy holds the family hostage and has the parent at his side. He’s swinging the gun back and forth between two children, demanding the parent to pick which child gets to live and which one gets to die.

Writing a book versus writing a screenplay, definitely more than one hat to put on. Did you have to make a mental shift as a writer to write your screenplay for The Cursed Man? The biggest challenge I came across in the mental shift actually came with acclimating myself to the details of the story again. I had already written The Lurking Man and a crime book called You Killed My Brother. So the details of The Cursed Man were buried deep in my brain as I moved forward with other story outlines I had. So when I reread The Cursed Man I was rather surprised at the complexity of the story and read it with an eye of enjoyment rather than critiquing it so much. What’s next for Keith Rommel? I have quite a few things going on right now. They finished the principal shooting of the film and have now gone to editing and creating the CGI. I’ve seen some of it and it is brilliant. The movie company is looking at a late October release so I’m sure I’ll be doing plenty of PR work for that. There are talks about turning The Lurking Man into a motion picture so we will see how that turns out. I’m about a week away from the release of The Sinful Man (which will probably be out by the time the this article hits) and immediately following I’ll be releasing a novel called Among the People. I take a step into the supernatural with that one and dabble in a story where an angel that fell from the grace of God with Satan. In this, the present day, he is on the run from the minions of Hell, hiding among the people because he discovered something out about Hell that disturbs him so much, he wishes to return to Heaven. But it is said once an angel falls from Heaven, they can never return. And lastly, I’m writing the fourth book in the Thanatology series entitled The Silent Woman. This story is powerful and I can’t wait to get it out there!

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reviews books turned movies

Keith Rommel

The Cursed Man Psychological Suspense

Alister Kunkle believes death is in love with him. A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill. With his family deceased and a path of destruction behind him, Alister sits inside a mental institution, sworn to silence and separated from the rest of the world, haunted by his inability to escape death’s preferential treatment. But when a beautiful psychologist arrives at the institution and starts offering him care, Alister braces himself for more killings. When none follow, he tries to figure out whether he truly is insane or if death has finally come to him in the form of a woman. Review: The Cursed Man was an interesting read. Following the path through Alister’s troubled life that leads to voluntarily institutionalizing himself, one can’t but wonder if Alister is simply insane. To think that you are cursed because people around you die? Seems like a misdirected way of thinking or weird coincidences. But, then as the story unfolds, the reader begins to understand no one who has direct contact with Alister lives very long after first meeting him. A mysterious female doctor who visits disturbs him. Alister doesn’t want another death on his conscience. But then Dr. Lee returns the morning after their visit unscathed. He begins to hope—perhaps the curse is broken. Things go downhill fast when Alister realizes there are horrific bizarre things happening at the institution. He becomes convinced Death is stalking him again, wreaking havoc on those around him. By the end of the story, I was vacillating between is he is crazy or is Death real? I’m not going to give a spoiler because this is one of those books where you will want to discover the truth yourself. I recommend this book for those who like Suspense mixed with Psychological elements. Someone in Hollywood loved it, because this book is being made into a movie. | Reviewer Lois Chandler |

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Get your LIMITED EDITION HARDCOVER version of THE CURSED MAN. Kept at only 500 copies, this hard cover book with cloth on boards and a dust jacket is going to be a great collectible. The ONLY way to get this book is through the publisher’s website as this is a “collectors edition” in celebration of the coming movie.


an interview

Tom Nowicki Tom Nowicki is an American actor with over 100 film and television credits. He has appeared in such feature films as THE BLIND SIDE and REMEMBER THE TITANS. Tom received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and dramatic art training from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In the Fall of 2014, he will appear in USA Network’s television series SATISFACTION.

Interviewed by Danita Minnis

Inside Tom Nowicki the actor is a literature teacher in THE BLIND SIDE and a football coach in REMEMBER THE TITANS. Somewhere in there hides a 500-yearold warrior king in the fantasy epic THE LEGEND OF RED REAPER. How was it to make the shift from gritty realism to magic and mysticism? Refreshing or scary? More fun than a barrel of flying monkeys! A big part of why we become actors, obviously (I suppose) is to try on other lives, get to live and die in all different kinds of dimensions and realities. And when the role takes you out into the 500-year-old warrior-king realm, there’s not a lot of rules you need to obey. For your imagination, it’s like letting your Spaniel loose at the dog park after he’s been stuck in the house all week...I’m still trying to lure mine back, get a leash on him... I mean, for chrissake I was swinging a broadsword! You don’t come back the same… True, a broadsword definitely sharpens the edge, so to speak. Does Tom the Producer ever get in the way of Tom the Actor? How was Adonis the warrior king in The Legend of Red Reaper affected by the producer in you? Well, first, I have to explain that my producer-philosophy is heavily influenced by Tom Sawyer: I convince my friends to do a project that will be GREAT for me, then get THEM to do the hard work. So as long as I’m at the center of attention, it all feels just about the same. But Tara and her company did an almost magical job with RED REAPER, making things that we needed seem to appear from out of nowhere. They had next to no money at all, but they spent it brilliantly (other than hiring me...). One thing they did that all young filmmakers should do: they hired a driven, gifted, and very experienced cinematographer, Irv Goodanov, who had been there a million times before and had no doubts about how to make a movie. When the person with the camera knows how to get what the director needs, the actors, at least this actor, are much happier. Let your camera-friends from film-school learn on other

people’s movies; pay what it takes to get experience (and a movie that cuts together). I think that answers your question? It does. I think Tom Sawyer would have loved to take part in your adventure. I see a love of theatre in that menacing stare when you’re in character. What role has theatre played in your development as an actor? You know, I think that “menace” was developed in a different place...In my youth, I was a professional wrestler, “Lord Larry Oliver, Evil Genius of the South.” And in that world, which is kind of a kabuki world, you learn how to get to your demons and hone your ferocity. But yes, I am as much a creature of the theatre as you can get. I had the gift early on of attending a high school that had a real theatre department run by an amazing woman, Anne Derflinger, who had worked in the capitals of theatrical art and remained a true believer in its power to change us all for the better. For Ms. Derflinger, it all came down to the actor striving to tell the truth in every moment; no lies and no embroidery, which is the key to good acting no matter the medium. Of course, making even a very modest living in the theatre is nearly impossible, so I started sneaking out to do TV and film to stay solvent, and it turned out that those gods liked me more than the theatre ones, so...I get back to legitimate theatre as often as I can, and it feels so good... Tell us about your latest television project, USA Network’s SATISFACTION. SATISFACTION is about a young Wall Street broker, played by Matt Densmore (THE GLADES) who gets July/August 2014 | 157

tired of making even more money for people who already have too much of it, and decides to use his talents to do good. Of course, we’re not going to let him get away with that....I play a 500-year-old bond-trader-king (told you I couldn’t put down the broadsword...) SATISFACTION is created and produced by Sean Jablonski, who created WHITE COLLAR and SUITS, and the show has the same urban sexiness, the same high-stakes stories. It will be on this Fall, and I hope everyone will watch it. I think you’ll like it. Hmmm…broadswords and satisfaction. It sure doesn’t sound like you’ll be following any rules - yes, Tom, we’ll be tuning in this Fall.

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER Born and raised in the heart of New York City, Danita is a singer, writer and lover of romance. She is the author of The Cardiff Novels, a series about one family’s trials with vengeful demons, a legacy of ghosts and mysterious blood jewels. A member of Romance Writers of America, Danita is currently working on the third novel in the Cardiff series, which introduces the family connection to ancient vampires. One more hour with her laptop and Danita is living the dream - mystery, mayhem, the fantastic and the fey.

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