Page 1


on the cover

23 LIZ

CROWE featuring:

Family Love


contents July/August 2015

columns 38 BTS Goes Hollywood ROSEANGELA

43 The Heat Diva

STEAMY KINKY READS SET IN THE HERE AND NOW

59 Chic Trends in Romance

features 54 Myra Nour 56 Lexi Adair 73 Sandra Bunino 74 A.B. Michaels 78 Tawdra Kandle 97 Amanda McIntyre

FANGIRLING MY WAY THROUGH BEA

106 Jackson Dean Chase 119 Teri Riggs 120 Bill Bitetti 144 Milly Taiden 146 Emily Cyr 147 Eli Constant 149 Rebecca Royce

83 The Hot Hunks of History

FASHION FORWARD, REGENCY STYLE

101 Forever Young

KIDS GET CARDED TO GET BOOKS

genres

109 The Scrying Eye

41 EROTIC & SENSUAL

125 Ali B. and the Forty Spaceships

61 CONTEMPORARY & ROMANCE

MASTERS AT WORK

MAKE MINE AN ECLECTIC MIX ON THE ROCKS, HOLD THE FLOUR

stories

81 HISTORICAL & WESTERN 99 YOUNG ADULT 107 MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

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123 SCI-FI/FANTASY & PARANORMAL

plus

on the website

Blogging 101 with Babs Hightower Karen’s Writing Detours with Karen Albright Lin Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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BTS Book Reviews

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BTS Team Bloggers Melissa Baker of Buried Under Books Melanie Bingle Marsh of Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Hollywood Interviewer Danita Minnis Columnists Karen Albright Lin Alex Bardy Sandra Bunino Christy English Kayla Lords Babs Hightower Kelly Hudson Kellyann Zuzulo

Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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From the Desk of

Myra Nour BTS CEO

New Staff Intro: I am pleased to announce that Babs Hightower will be taking over as our Review Coordinator. I’d like to welcome Melinda Williams as my Executive Assistant. Also, we welcome Savannah Verte as the new Review Assistant. Team Bloggers You will find reviews for Fangfreakin’tasticreviews in this issue under the Paranormal section. We also welcome Melissa Baker as a team blogger for the historical section.

star trophy. There will be 2nd and 3rd place winners, and three honorable mentions. BTS Awards update Anthology/boxed set category. We tweaked this category to include boxed sets. Here are the details. Anthologies or boxed sets eligible if in an ad in any issue of emag. Limit of 6 authors total in anthology or set. Each author in the anthology or boxed set receives a Medal award for 1st place. There will also be 2nd & 3rd place winners. There must be at least 3 entries for this award to be judged. For multiple authors; an anthology or boxed set by one author not eligible for this award. By committee vote. Authors can also enter for Best Book 2015 or Debut Author or Rising Star and Best Cover. Awards Deadline Deadline to submit to Customer Awards is August 30, 2015. Deadline to submit your book for Review Awards is September 30, 2015

Blogger Central Blogger Central is up and runninng! Bloggers, get more attention for your blogs. We will put your blog banner in Blogger Central which will rotate through the large banner on our home page. Plus your banner will be included on the Blog Beat page in each issue of the emag. All bloggers in Blog Central will be eligible for a monthly drawing of an interview on the BTS website and $10 Amazon gift card. Also all bloggers in Blogger Central will be entered into the NEW BTS Blogger Award as part of our Red Carpet Book Awards. We love bloggers and their support of our emag and want to thank them by including them in our awards. The top winner will receive a beautiful shooting 10 | btsemag.com


Publisher

| Ind

News Yo

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

SoulMate Publishing soulmatepublishing.com Soul Mate Publishing, where two become one. Debby Gilbert and Char Chaffin will be attending and taking pitches appoints at the New York, RWA conference in July. Soul Mate Publishing offers high-quality romantic fiction for readers around the world.

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

Loose Id www.loose-id.com Loose Id is proud to announce that the company will be celebrating it’s 11th birthday on July 7, 2015! Happy birthday Loose Id! A leading publisher of erotic romance, Loose Id is love unleashed. We’re taking romance to the edge.

Evernight Publishing evernightpublishing.com Find your next smart and sexy book at Evernight Publishing, a premier publisher of Romance, Erotic Romance and Urban Fantasy. With new titles releasing daily, readers will find a large selection of contemporary, paranormal, gay, interracial, historical, sweet romance, ménage and everything in between. Our best selling exclusive series, PLANET ALPHA, is heating up eReaders everywhere with sexy sci-fi that’s out of this world! The cold of space has never been hotter! Look for Bad Alpha and Bad Alpha: Manlove Edition Anthologies this summer!

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dustry Insider |

ou Can Use Young Adult fans will love our fresh, real and raw teen fiction line at Evernight Teen. Summer Crush will be available this summer. Don’t miss this collection of summer romance stories written by today’s hottest Young Adult authors.

Writer’s Exchange writers-exchange.com For the past few months Writers Exchange has been busily updating all our books into the latest formatting with many books receiving new covers. All our new ebooks are for sale at the Writer’s Exchange Website, Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Nobel, and Payloadz.). Payloadz is an online store as well as an affiliate site that we have had our books listed with for over ten years! So they are no fly-by-night company. This means you can buy our books for your own personal pleasure, or sign up and sell them on your website, or even to earn money every time you share the book on social media - without ever having to have a website of your own! Our payloadz shop is: http://store.payloadz.com/results/35507-writers-exchange-epublishing/?rs_id=14474 And every book cover you click on will take you to the book page that has all the info you need to earn money by selling Writers Exchange E-Publishing’s books.

Totally Bound totallyboundpublishing.com Totally Bound Publishing is the Home of Erotic Romance. Totally Bound delivers ‘A list’ escapism for readers who love Erotic Romance fiction. We specialise in MF and MFM fiction and we are the go-to destination for deliciously good stories that put a smile on reader’s faces and a spring in their step. We are currently actively acquiring manuscripts of 10- 100k in the following genres: historical, cowboy and western, High fashion and Agents and Detectives. We are still accepting manuscripts in our usual genres which can be found on our publisher site. http://www.totallyboundpublishing.com/submissions/submissioncalls/

Pride Publishing pride-publishing.com Pride Publishing is your new destination for GLBTQI fiction. Pride Publishing delivers empowering, enchanting and endearing storylines that are sure to capture readers’ imaginations from start to finish. We are proud to be flying the flag for the GLBTQI community and providing a platform for readers and authors who are passionate

about characters who identify as GLBTQI. We are currently actively acquiring manuscripts of 10-100k in all genres, as long as the main character identifies as GLBTQI. Series or serials are also welcomed. Please send your submission, synopsis and series outline, if applicable, tosubmissions@totallyentwined.com.

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

Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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Upcoming

| Industry

2015 Conve

Romance Writers of America Annual Conference July 22-25, 2015 New York City http://www.rwa.org/conference 2015 DFW Writers Conference July 24-26, 2015 Dallas, TX https://classic.regonline.com/register/ checkin.aspx?eventid=1551122 Author & Reader Con July 30th - August 1st, 2015 New Orleans, LA http://www.authorreadercon.com/ Including: BTS Red Carpet Book Awards! http://redcarpet.btsemag.com Writer’s Digest Annual Conference (WD) July 31 - Aug. 2, 2015 -, NYC www.writersdigestconference.com Florida Authors & Publishers Association Annual Conference Aug 7 - 8, 2015 Venue: Hilton Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, in the Walt Disney World® Resort FL http://writing.shawguides.com/FAPA

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Insider |

entions Authors After Dark August 12-17, 2015 Sheraton, Atlanta GA http://www.authorsafterdark.org/ index.html Colorado Gold Writers Conference Sept. 11-13, 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. http://www.rmfw.org/conference Florida Heritage Book Festival & Writers’ Conference Sept. 24-26, 2015 St. Augustine, Florida www.fhbookfest.com

Indie Romance Convention (IRC) October 1st-3rd 2015 Lebanon, TN https://retellity.com/event/ event-1403246-2015-IndieRomance-Convention-IRCLebanon-10012015 The Southern Festival of Books October 9-11, 2015 Nashville TN. http://www.humanitiestennessee.org/programs/southernfestival-books-celebration-written-word

Southern California Writers’ Conference Sept. 25-27, 2015 A Weekend for Words Newport Beach, CA http://www.writersconference.com/ la

The La Jolla Writers Conference Nov. 6-8, 2015 San Diego, CA http://www.lajollawritersconference.com/

Chicago Writers Conference Sep. 25-27, 2015 -, University Center, Chicago, IL www.chicagowritersconference. org

Miami Book Fair International Nov. 15-22, 2015 Miami, Florida http://www.miamibookfair.com

Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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Buy advertising from the list below and receive a sidebar ad for the website: • • • •

Elite Premiere Premiere Premium full page Any of the 3 types of features

Buy any of the ads below and receive a fourth (1/4) page ad in the Nov/Dec issue: • Full page standard • Half page premium • Half page standard http://btsemag.com/advertising/home/ or http://btsemag.com/advertising/features/

Sale runs until spots are filled. The Nov/Dec holiday issue is popular, so don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Note: If you haven’t purchased advertising with BTS for 2015, purchasing a sale ad/feature mean you can enter the Customer awards for 2015. http://btsemag.com/redcarpet/home and http://btsemag.com/redcarpet/about-the-awards/


COVER AUTHOR Showcase

Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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An interview with:

Liz Crowe Amazon Best Selling Author

BTS: How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a threecontinent, ex-pat trailing spouse. Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction hybrid, “Romance. Worth the Risk,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished. Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.

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I probably piss off more hard core romance readers than I endear mainly because I truly believe my novels all feature enough “realism” to make them the sort of book I would want to read. Readers are lucky—there are so many options now, free, cheap and otherwise. They also have a lot to choose from within the romance genre. Everyone should read what they love. I love books that have strong, realistic, character-driven plots about people doing real jobs and living lives that don’t necessarily include a ton of the billionaire fantasy elements. Nothing against those—obviously they are successful. But my brand of unconventional romance is something very different than that, and more readers are trying and finding them fulfilling, entertaining and satisfying. BTS: Why do you write the genre you do? I read across genres, and probably read more mainstream novels, thrillers, non-formula mysteries but I like novels about human relationships which has morphed into me being a romance writer. BTS: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?


Sell real estate; manage my youngest daughter’s junior year of high school complete with college soccer recruiting; drink more than I should. BTS: Did you always want to be a writer? No, not really. I came to this late in life, about 7 years ago to be exact.

BTS: What is the most exciting thing you have gotten to experience due to being a writer? Hanging out with fellow authors and fans at various events is a buzz. Proving to them I’m as “real” as I claim to be is always very satisfying.

BTS: Who has been your inspiration? Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Lianne Moriarty, Jane Smiley. And authors like Jasinda Wilder who can turn an indie backlist into 6 figure advances. It’s a pretty good goal. BTS: How do you combat writers block? Walk away from the project and return to it in a few days but I sort of have the opposite problem…too many ideas, not enough time to write them all! BTS: What do we have to look forward to from you in the future? FAMILY LOVE will release September 2 this year and is a pretty ambitious “novel within a novel” that will wrap up my critically acclaimed and best selling LOVE BROTHERS series. Also, HAT TRICK, releases July 7 and is book 4 of my Black Jack Gentlemen series about a fictional pro soccer team set in Detroit. BTS: Is there anything about you that readers might be surprised to learn? I’m a preacher’s kid and can still sing a lot of hymns from memory. I consider myself pretty spiritual and draw strength from that. BTS: What is your favorite part of being a writer? Getting emails, tweets, or other messages from new readers who say “Wow, I kept hearing about you but am glad I finally tried a Liz book!”

Family Love

Coming September 1st, 2015

“A wealthy horse farmer’s rebellious daughter meets a sultry stable hand—but the result is far from the average tale of forbidden romance.” When novelist Aiden Love publishes his parents’ story he has no idea the drama it will cause. The epic saga of one family’s turbulent beginning is entwined with the challenging drama of a mother’s relationship with her youngest child—the longed for only daughter, Angelique. But a secret Lindsay Halloran Love has kept for years could rip the tight-knit clan apart for good. Resilient bonds of loyalty and blood are stretched to the breaking point, until tragedy strikes at the very heart and soul of the Love family, forcing everyone to take stock of what really matters. Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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| Cover Author | Enjoy an excerpt from:

Family Love

Sneak Peek Excerpt Liz Crowe ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Her engagement party wasn’t until five so Lindsay took advantage of her early rising to fit in a ride—and as an excuse to hang around the barns. She carried a mug of coffee across the dew-covered grass, shutting out the reminder of the day’s coming festivities. Her dress was freshly ironed. Clean stockings were tucked into a drawer. She even had a pretty new pair of red patent leather pumps. But she wanted to believe that if she ignored it or pretended it was not going to happen long enough, the event would somehow not manifest itself. Dumb, she knew. There was no way around the fact that in less than a month she’d be Missus William Scott. She shivered, recalling her intensely strange dream starring assistant stable manager Tony Love not a few hours before. They’d been in a field. There was horse somewhere nearby off in the distance. They were sitting, glaring at each other, not speaking. He held a beer bottle. She had a burning cigarette between her fingers. Then she’d blinked and opened her eyes to the familiar contours of her bedroom. She dropped onto a hay bale, mind and gut churning, seriously thinking that she’d saddle Lucy and take off, never to return. Why couldn’t she say no to this whole stupid farce? She didn’t love Will Scott. He only wanted to do…whatever it was to her. The thing she thought she understood well enough to be afraid and intrigued and disgusted all at the same time. They’d be a miserable couple, arguing in front of the kids, drinking too much, constantly complaining to their friends. There would be plenty of money though. She sighed and looked around the barn, wondering how in the world her father’s business had fallen off so badly and put her in the position of getting sold off to the highest bidder. She dumped the remains of the coffee that had turned to acid in her throat. Deciding to sit a bit longer, she wrapped her arms around her knees and did that, letting slow tears burn their way down her face. She must have drifted to sleep because she woke with a jolt when someone or something touched her cheek. She jerked away, wiping drool off her face. “Back for another peep show,” she asked, hating herself for being so mean.

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“No, Miss. Just wanted you to wake up before you fell off the hay.” She stood and made a show of smoothing down her riding habit and adjusting her boots. Her face felt hot enough to set the whole dang place on fire. “Don’t stare at me. It’s rude.” Her eyes adjusted so she could see him dressed in a plaid flannel shirt and jeans, one scuffed boot heel propped on the wall as he sipped his cup of coffee, eyeballing her. He raised a dark eyebrow, then trained his gaze out into the barn, per her request. Lindsay ground her teeth together in frustration. “Will you be needing the practice track set up,” he asked, not looking at her. “What? Oh, um, yes. Please.” She chewed her bottom lip and flopped back onto the bale. “I noticed she’s been working against the bit the last few times, chewing it even.” “I’m aware of her flaws, Tony.” “Yes, Miss.” Silence descended. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to bite your head off. I’m just…oh never mind. Would you saddle Daisy for me? I’m going to run her a bit first.” “Yes Miss.” He set his cup on shelf and stretched, giving her a distressing view of a line of his skin between shirt and jeans waistband. She looked away, heartbeat thumping in her ears. “Stop calling me that.” “Calling you what?” He’d walked around the corner to Daisy’s stall. Lindsay could hear the animal’s soft nicker of greeting. She was a much calmer horse, easier to train, a real sweetheart. While Lucy matched her own temperament, Lindsay had won more blue ribbons with Daisy. “‘Miss,’” she said, following him and hoping to catch him doing exactly what he was doing then—caressing the horse’s neck and shoulders, easing the animal from sleep into work mode. The sight of him crooning to her horse, calming her, touching her, made Lindsay’s skin itch, wishing he were doing to her. Lindsay Alice Halloran. That is just … sick. “All right then,” he said, still facing Daisy, his thick Kentuckystyle Southern drawl more than a little incongruous considering he looked like he could have stepped off the boat from Italy five minutes ago. “What should I call you?” He turned, one hand gripping her horse’s bridle, his dark brown eyes alight in a way that made her stumble. Anger kept her upright. She crossed her arms over her chest. He didn’t move or shift his gaze away from her. She felt pinned down by it in way she didn’t like. “Well, Lindsay, of course.” Her voice broke, betraying her. “Lindsay,” he said, caressing the syllables. She blinked, not pleased with how this encounter was spiraling out of her control. “Tony,” she said, walking over to the other side of Daisy’s head. The horse snorted and nodded in pleased anticipation of attention from her mistress. Running her hand down the Daisy’s


| Liz Crowe |

other side and ignoring how her nerve endings zinged now that she was so close to him, Lindsay peeked under the animal’s neck and caught him wearing an expression that resembled a herd of deer about to get mowed down by a motorcycle gang. “Miss? Uh, I mean. What? Lindsay.” “You don’t look like a grease-ball goombah.” She averted her gaze, focusing instead on Daisy’s mane, her coat, anything but meet the man’s eyes again. “Um, well, my family’s definitely Italian. My mama is second generation. My grandparents spoke nothing but Italian at home.” He mirrored her movements, patting Daisy’s neck then sliding his palm across her right flank, ignoring her not-so-nice dig. “I thought Italians only lived in places like New York City.” Lindsay’s knees were knocking but she kept talking, eager to establish some kind of normalcy between them while at the same time wishing she could maintain her upper hand. “Yeah, well, my parents did. But I guess my papa had a thing for horses. He worked at Aqueduct since he was a kid, mucking out, doing anything he could. By the time he married my mama he’d gotten a job down here, at Keeneland. That was a Big Deal—capital B and D. As you’d know.” “So you and your brothers….” She could listen to him talk for hours. His low, raspy voice was like the sweetest, honeyinfused bourbon. “Born and raised in God’s country, ma’am.” He tipped the brim of his cowboy hat with a grin. “All three of us, plus a sister.” He averted his eyes, bent down to grab a hay stalk and stick it in his mouth. “She’d dead though.” He crossed himself, moving his lips in some sort of silent homage. “I’m sorry.” She was. But she was also so intrigued by him she wished she could stay here all day and into the night, skipping the stupid engagement party to the vapid frat-boy Will Scott. An awkward silence coated her skin, making her antsy. “Yeah,” he said, gruffly. “So she’s ready.” Lindsay blinked, confused. “Oh, right. Thanks, Tony.” She took the reins but stood frozen in place. He had his fingers tucked in his jeans pockets, that silly hay clamped in his teeth, his compact frame easy, loose-limbed, and tempting her in ways she couldn’t parse. “What’s your real name?” He frowned and took off his hat, running fingers through thick, black hair. “Well, I reckon it’s Tony. What else would it be?” He plunked the hat back on his head. “If you’ll excuse me, Miss— um, Lindsay. I have work to do.” He turned, sending panic racing down her spine. “Is it Anthony?” She felt like a fool, trying to keep the barn help around and flirting with her. But she simply couldn’t stop herself. He turned back, grinning again, those full lips so perfect she had to keep a death grip on the horse’s bridle to not tackle him

to the hay-covered dirt. What she’d do then, she had no earthly idea. “No. It’s Anton. After some uncle or another. Once we make it down to the third son we Eye-talians usually go deep for namesakes. I got two of ‘em: Anton Dominic, at your service.” He lifted the hat again. “Anton,” she whispered. “Okay. That’s what I’m calling you then.” “Miss,” he said, his grin widening. With wink, he walked off, whistling for the stable boy. Lindsay exhaled and leaned her face into Daisy’s neck, gripping her mane with one hand, breathing in the smells of the world she loved while her brain swirled around all the things she wanted to do, right then, with Anton Dominic Love.

ORDER NOW FROM AMAZON

Love Brothers

Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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| Bert Flow’s Parrot | Why did I rescue the parrot? I will never know, but it seemed the right thing to do at the time. From the Southampton quayside, I had supervised the loading of my scientific apparatus into the hold. The briny sea air was bracing and wholesome. But, dear me! How careless those fellows were as they flung around the packing cases. “Have a care,” I cried. “This is expensive equipment. Mr. Darwin will not thank me if it arrives in pieces.” One waved his hand, nodded, and stretched his mouth in a toothless grin. Then he said something to his companion that made them both guffaw. Disrespectful ruffians. I sought out the captain, but he was nowhere to be seen. No doubt ensconced in the harbor master’s office, knocking back a last beaker of rum before casting off. Not for the first time, I questioned the wisdom of engaging this master and his unsavory crew, but with limited time at my disposal, I had little choice. I winced as the men tossed another packing case into the hold as if it were a sack of grain. “Silly old bugger! Silly old bugger!” I spun round. Who could be addressing me in that vulgar fashion? A cage containing a large bird with brilliant plumage was perched on top of a pile of luggage. The bird ruffled up his feathers and preened. I smiled. We were to share our passage with a talking parrot. I had made little study of tropical birds, my speciality being Lepidoptera. But maybe this bird would brighten up a voyage that promised to be dull before we reached our destination, although I wished his turn of phrase were less uncouth.

The captain, weaving back over the quayside, arrested my attention. Seeing me, he bent his uncertain steps in my direction. He clapped me on the back. I raised my shoulders and drew in my breath. “Well, Mr. Flow, we’ve a fine day for it.” He leaned toward me, his rum-laden breath enveloping me like a fetid fog. “Better get under way.” “Captain,” I replied. “Some of your men have not treated me or my effects with the respect I warrant. Kindly remind them that I am paying their wages.” “Oh, don’t mind them. They’re just letting off a bit of steam before we set sail. You need not trouble yourself about their conduct aboard. And now, if you will excuse me, I have much to see to.” Chuckling, he stalked off, stopped by the parrot’s cage and tapped on the bars. The parrot shifted from foot to foot and bobbed his head. “Got a drop of rum? Got a drop of rum?” he said. The captain threw back his head and shouted with laughter. “Put him in my cabin, Baines,” he bellowed to one of the men. I followed him up the gangplank and sought the cramped quarters that would be my home for the next few weeks. Out of port, we headed on a southwesterly course to join up with the Beagle. We enjoyed fine weather all the way around the Bay of Biscay. For the most part, I kept to my cabin reading the latest scientific journals, taking my meals there, or took solitary walks on deck. The captain sometimes invited me to take a drink in his cabin but desisted once he realized I was not of the same cut as him. His ribald humor was not to my taste. The parrot joined in with his limited repertoire. I started to rejoice that he was confined to the captain’s cabin. Our troubles began off the coast of Africa. The sky darkened and the seas swelled till the ship was tossed about like a shuttlecock. Mountainous breakers crashed down on the deck, and the ominous creaking of the rigging

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| Vanessa Couchman | and the woodwork filled our ears. Contained in my cabin, my mouth dry and my heart pounding, I could no longer endure the anguish or the conviction that the captain’s course of action was wrong.

the force of the waves was subsiding. I raised my head and looked about me but, in the darkness, could see no sign of the ship or of any land. With no means of propulsion or navigation, the sea carried me along with it. A squawking noise nearby attracted my attention. Another piece of wood was washing up beside me. On top of it, the parrot’s cage, complete with its occupant, swayed to and fro like a maharajah on an elephant. “Silly old bugger! Silly old bugger!” the parrot screeched.

Risking a soaking, I sought the captain on deck. “Would it not be more prudent, Captain, to follow the coastline and find a suitable place to put in until this storm subsides?” “I know this coast better than you, Mr. Flow,” he shouted back against the wind. “There is no place to put in. We would be dashed to pieces against the rocks. We will hold our course. And I’ll thank you not to question my authority. You would do better to get below.” He spoke with bluster, but he was pallid beneath his weatherbeaten skin. As the vessel lurched once more, the captain wrenched the wheel from the first mate, but his bulk was insufficient to hold sway against the towering waves. We were driven powerless before the storm. All at once, with a searing doomsday crack, the boat reared up like a bolting horse and swung over on its side. I was tossed from the deck and plunged into the icy waves, which closed over my head.

As it bobbed past, I grabbed at the piece of wood and saw that the cage was attached to it with nails, perhaps to prevent it sliding about in the captain’s cabin in heavy seas. Why did I not let it continue? Maybe it was the basic reflex to help a fellow creature in distress. I saw no others nearby whom I could help. In extreme circumstances, we are no longer the masters of rational thought. I clung to the iron bar with one hand and to the cage with the other. The bedraggled bird fell silent. After drifting for several hours, a watery sun rose from the horizon, wreathed in clouds shot through with crimson. A darker patch ahead detached itself from the skyline. We were heading straight for it. As we grew closer, my spirits lifted. Land. The sea needed no help from me, but I started a frenzied paddling with my feet, which hung over the end of the wood. The wooden panel washed onto a wide, flat expanse of sand. Clutching the parrot’s cage, still attached to its plank, I staggered up the beach, collapsed onto the warm sand, and fell into a profound slumber.

Struggling to keep my wits, I fought to regain the surface, but each time I was swamped by the weight of water falling on me. Salt water flooded my mouth. Unable to breathe, I started to panic until my flailing hands closed on something. It was a large piece of wood. Gathering my last ounce of strength, I hauled myself onto it and clung to a piece of iron bolted on, gasping for breath. The sea pummeled the wood, and yet, Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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| Bert Flow’s Parrot | When I awoke, the sun was at its zenith, and my sodden garments were steaming. I sat up, and the parrot regarded me, his head on one side. “Got a drop of rum? Got a drop of rum?” “We will need more than rum to sustain us, my friend,” I replied. “Our lives have been spared, but we are far from secure.” Looking about me, I could not tell if I was on an island or the mainland. Leaving the parrot on the beach, I walked off to explore and soon answered my question. It was indeed an island and a small one at that. Luckily, I found a spring of sweet water and plentiful trees heavy with ripe bananas with which I assuaged my thirst and hunger. As it happened, the parrot was the not only thing salvaged from the wreckage. Pieces of flotsam washed up onto the beach, which would do to construct a rudimentary shelter. Then two shapes came bobbing toward the shore. I rushed out into the surf and seized the first. It was a wooden barrel. I lugged it ashore, rolling it onto the sand, and plunged back for the second item.

parrot’s rations for the voyage. I glared at him. My heart plummeting, I applied myself to the second barrel. The contents gave off a rancid odor. My spirits soared again. Salt pork! With the discovery of the freshwater spring and a ready, if monotonous, supply of bananas, the problem of my immediate sustenance was solved. Food and shelter were secured; however, waiting for succor proved a tedious business. At first, I was glad of the parrot’s company in my isolation. The island was small and uninhabited. In some regards, that was a relief, since who knew what barbaric practices the savage tribes of these climes might indulge in. The parrot was no doubt a male, but I christened him Matilda, since he bore a striking resemblance to my great-aunt and shared her propensity for inconsequential chatter. I tried to teach Matilda some new phrases to relieve the tedium. “Say ‘Hello, Albert. Hello, Albert,’” I ventured. “Silly old bugger! Silly old bugger!” “Say ‘Hello, Bert. Hello, Bert.’” I tried, speculating that Albert might be beyond Matilda’s limited vocal abilities. “Got a drop of rum? Got a drop of rum?” I gave up. Opening the cage door, I offered the parrot his liberty. He peered out but preferred the comfort and safety of captivity.

My penknife was of little utility against their sealed lids. I set off along the beach in search of a suitable instrument and soon found a sharp stone which I employed on the first barrel. I pried off the lid. Birdseed. The 32 | btsemag.com

As the days stretched into a fortnight, I wearied of Matilda’s raucous jabbering. In fact, I developed something akin to hatred for the bird. He seemed incapable of emotional attachment and bit me when I tried to stroke his plumage. All he did was eat birdseed, preen himself, and indulge in his mindless chatter. I had half a mind to take him to the other side of the island and leave him there. In the meantime, my stomach felt the need of wholesome food. Reserves of my salt pork remained, but I was sick of its putrid flavor and had a strong desire for fresh meat. The fish I


| Vanessa Couchman | caught were spiny and lacking in taste, and the island seemed devoid of game, except for small rodents. I determined never to eat a banana again once I returned to civilization. “Silly old bugger! Silly old bugger!” Matilda and I considered each other. He might have his uses after all. I imagined that roast parrot might taste like chicken. I reached for my penknife. Matilda started to jig on his perch, his head lolling from side to side. As I opened the cage door, he squawked, “Hello, Bert! Hello, Bert!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Vanessa Couchman has lived in France since 1997 and works as a freelance writer. She started writing short stories in 2010. She has been published in numerous anthologies and online and has won or been placed in a number of competitions, including first place in Writing Magazine’s 750word competition. Her debut novel, The House at Zaronza, set in early twentieth-century Corsica and at the Western Front during World War I, was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in 2014. She is working on a sequel set in World War II and another novel set in eighteenth-century Corsica. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society. Visit her at http://vanessacouchmanwriter.wordpress.com.

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Movies | Television | Books | Adaptations

on the RED CARPET

BTS GOES HOLLYWOOD

Featured Videos,

REVIEWS and more

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

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Roseangela Makeup Artist TORONTO, CANADA

Roseangela is a Beauty Educator and Freelance Makeup Artist in Toronto, Canada with over fifteen years of makeup artistry experience. She graduated from Humber College in Toronto with focus in Fashion Arts and Makeup Artistry. Not only does Roseangela make up some of the beautiful faces you see in the theater, film, and photography industries, but for the past fifteen years, she has taught aspiring makeup artists how to get those “magic hands.� A talented artist, Roseangela is a wardrobe stylist and costume creator. At the time of this writing, Roseangela had just returned from assignments in Australia and New Zealand. To learn more about Roseangela, visit her at: www.roseangelamakeupartist.com.

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| BTS Goes Hollywood |

Roseangela, your makeup is featured in the 2015 short film The Crystal. In this adventure, scientists are teleported to a distant planet after experimenting on an ancient artifact. What techniques did you use to create the extreme looks in the film? The extreme makeup I designed for The Crystal was for the Evil Queen character, a sweet young lady who turns into an evil version of herself. I used a smoky black eye shadow to give the illusion of hallow sockets in the eye area, as well as a harsh makeup look to reflect the queen’s mood and personality. Her brows were painted on with an angle brush and wet dark brown shadow to give them a harshly defined finish. Lining lips in dark red then filling them out with a similar color and left unblended, gave the character a harsh, cold feel which is also indicative of the typical “evil queen” personality.

Film shoots can be unpredictable. There are always last-minute surprises and, of course, time constraints. When stuff happens, what’s in your survival kit? What can’t you do without? Eye puffiness sometimes happens due to seasonal allergies as well as other common causes. Sometimes this is sudden; a tube of Prep H in the gel solution that is odorless and easy to smooth on is a life saver for such emergencies. Allergy eye drop solution to clear up any eye redness due to seasonal allergies or other causes is also a must. A good lip balm is something I find I use often resulting from harsh weather elements, and using this product also helps lips to soak up color. You’ve worked with many models and actors, and you understand the amount of work it takes to bring out their best work. What are some of the tricks/techniques you use on the more challenging assignments? Do you coach models on skin care? I often work and meet these clients for the first time on the first day of the project. I like to get in touch with the talent as early as possible prior to the project date. I ask to see the most current photos of the actor or model so that I can go over hair and nails, and gauge all needs ahead of time and come extra fully prepared for anything for those particular people. Whether or not anyone has skin care issues, I like to go over any possible issues and also give tips on keeping the skin looking great, prior to the project date. This also ensures there are less surprises and less issues on set. Communication between artist and actor or model is crucial in order to produce quality work and to help make the day go smoother for everyone. Issue 28 | July/August 2015 |

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| Interviewed by Danita Minnis |

You worked on the 2014 short film White, in which a young woman wakes up naked in a white room with no idea how she got there. There are no doors or windows and no apparent way in or out. How did the atmosphere and setting of the film influence the makeup you created? The lone character of White finds a woman mysteriously trapped and naked in a box. Because she appears naked and confused, we have to imagine that she’s had no access to tools or products or had any interest in such things that would result in a made up face. The woman’s personality has a girl like quality; I designed the makeup to reflect the natural look that would probably be obvious in her predicament, as well as her delicate innocence. What’s next for Roseangela? I have dabbled with and enjoy photography very much and am planning to further develop this interest through a variety of creative fashion photo shoots that will feature my makeup artistry and costume styling as well. Excited to mention these shoots will be part of my new YouTube Channel debuting sometime in 2016! I will be producing some film projects later this year and will be working behind the scenes as well as supervising the makeup. I am very excited about developing these opportunities and challenging myself further. I am always ready to embrace creative challenges that will engage my imagination and give me further room to grow creatively. I’m only getting started, so please stay tuned!

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

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Sensual Romance and Erotics of all genres, shapes and sizes

see BEHIND closed DOORS

EROTIC & SENSUAL

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trends reading trends in erotic

Heat DIVA The

Kayla Lords

Steamy, Kinky Reads Set in the Here and Now—So Good You Can Imagine Yourself in the Scene When it comes to erotica, I don’t care when or where the setting is as long as the sex is hot and the scenes tantalizing. That being said, contemporary erotic fiction offers something different than other types of erotica. Familiarity. I can imagine myself in those situations because they’re in places or at times that I identify with. The characters check their Facebook profile and shop on Amazon almost as much as I do! It’s kind of cool to picture yourself in a tantalizing predicament of alpha males and kinky sex in the middle of places that are familiar to you. Take a look at the contemporary reads I’ve got for you this month. If you like it kinky and hot, you’ll love my picks for this month.

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| The Heat Diva | Daddy’s Game by Normandie Alleman (Daddy Girl, #2, Stormy Night Publications— available now) BDSM and Daddy/babygirl Erotica Stars: 4 Heat Rating: 4 Sparks fly when upand-coming artist Carmen Harris meets football star Natron Dakers at her first gallery opening. Carmen soon discovers that Natron is the type of man who sees what he wants and goes after it… and apparently what he wants is her. Almost before she knows it Carmen finds herself taking everything Natron gives her and begging for more, and when he reveals that he wants to be her dominant daddy and her to be his submissive little girl, she doesn’t hesitate to agree. My Take:As a kinky babygirl myself, Daddy’s Game, book two in an ongoing series, is right up my alley. The sex is hot. The dominance and submission is realistic. And both characters grow as people even as they give in to their kinky, erotic desire. If you’ve ever been curious what the Daddy/babygirl thing is all about, this is a steamy but realistic depiction. The Fling by Elle J. Lawson (Indie Book—available now) Erotic Romance Stars: 4 Heat: 3 Study-abroad student Amy Presgraves is full of excitement when she leaves for Greece, ready to start a new chapter in her academic life. A scenic romp to Athens is just what the doctor ordered, but she learns more than medicine from her professor, Dr. Dimitri Speros—a married man with the physique of a Greek god. Amy wants to deny her attraction to him, but, bizarrely encouraged by Lydia, Dimitri’s 44 | btsemag.com

wife, she finally finds herself unable to resist the staggering passion that she feels. But what starts out as a breezy summer fling becomes a struggle for happily ever after when Amy and Dimitri are faced with the ultimate betrayal. Together, they must learn to trust in order for their love to survive. My Take:The Fling is more romance than erotic and took a while to draw me in, but once it did, whoa! There was heat, kinky twists and turns, and ultimately, a happily ever after that you’re not sure is really possible. Lawson is a new erotic author, and if this is her first attempt, I can’t wait to see what else she’s able to do from here on out. I cried, I laughed, and I cheered. Captive, Mine by Natasha Knight and Trent Evans (Shadow Moon Press—available now) Erotica and BDSM Stars: 5 Heat: 5 The day my father agreed to testify against Terrence Randall, one of the most ruthless drug traffickers in North America, was the day I became the target of the drug lord’s enraged vengeance. I was the one thing that stood in the way of Daddy’s testimony, and the one thing that could save Randall. The man would stop at nothing to get his hands on me. I was prepared for what was coming—as prepared as one could be when vanishing into the U.S. Marshal’s Witness Protection Program. I just wasn’t prepared for him. For ex-Navy SEAL turned mercenary Lake Freeman, escorting Lily Cross into the Witness Protection Program was just another job— until a better offer came along. Lake couldn’t have cared less about the life he’d been hired to protect. After all, she was a part of the very organization that had cost him so much already.


| Kayla Lords | My Take: This one is steamy hot. It’s also dark, brutal, and harsh. If you like your erotica with an element of danger and questionable consent (at times), this one is it. Well-written, each chapter was from the perspective of Lake or Lily, giving readers a peek into their thoughts and motives. My heart was racing and other parts were heating up. This was one I couldn’t put down. The Interview by Jacintha Topaz (DykeLove Quickies, #1, Indie Book—available now) Lesbian BDSM Medical Play Stars: 4.5 Heat: 4 Small town girl Kaylee Hall wants to make it in the big city. Supplementing her weeknight college courses with a day job is the best way for her to make ends meet. However, interviewing for a position in a medical office lands her at the end of her rope. Out at work, Dr. Monica Halverson feels a gaping hole in her personal life. Posting a position for personal assistant yields an interview with a breathtaking candidate who pushes her hot buttons, one who meets and exceeds every description listed for the job. My Take: I read this in fifteen minutes (while waiting in the car circle at my oldest’s elementary school—I’ll read anywhere). In those few short minutes, I was drawn in and heated up. This is my first lesbian story to read, and it made me want more. The only problem I had with it is that it’s almost too short. I immediately wanted to read the rest in the series. As someone who loves BDSM, I enjoyed reading a female dominant character. She had me ready to say, “Yes, Mistress!”

Out of Control by Teresa Noelle Roberts (Samhain Publishing—available now) BDSM and Erotica Stars: 5 Heat: 5 Glass artist Jen Kessler has hit the jackpot—a cheap apartment in a charming Victorian house, complete with a sexy, intense, buttoned-down landlord…who may or may not have a riding crop in his bedroom. She’s not looking for a lover, but when her innocent, impulsive hug sparks kisses as hot as molten glass, it leads to bondage, spankings, and more naughtiness that, up to now, she had only tasted. My Take: I was 4 percent into the book and my e-reader began to melt, it was that hot that quick. The best part (from this kinky girl’s perspective)? The dominance and submission was realistic and erotic. They negotiated, they communicated, and then they played, which made my screen melt even more. Safe sex and safe BDSM were priorities—and neither took away from the heat level. Want to see a dominant man question himself and still come across as an alpha? Here’s your chance.

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

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reviews erotic | senusal romance

Out of Her Dreams Fran Lee

Erotic Heat Rating: 5

She’s a best-selling erotic romance writer. Her fans adore her. She’s making excellent money. All by writing about a man she dreamed up many years ago. Her hero is handsome, virile, sexy, strong, sensitive and a complete gentleman. He’s a hot-headed, sex-on-the-hoof pro wrestler. He has a reputation for being the hottest, nastiest man on the mats. The fact that his face and body are plastered all over a bunch of mushy romance novels written by a woman with a death wish doesn’t sit well on those massive shoulders. His agent’s demanding monetary retribution from the woman who’s dared to use his image on her covers but he has another form of retribution in mind...and it has nothing to do with money. She was his the moment he touched her. He came out of her dreams to claim her, and she wants every hot, throbbing inch of that delicious man. He wants her, naked, at his mercy. One hot, orgasmic night wasn’t nearly enough. She ran...but he’ll find her. Review: Samantha or as she likes to be called Sam has her dream come true at one of book signings. The hot looking guy in her dreams was looking down at her and Sam had to get away and ran to the stockroom of the book store. She really thought she was seeing things until the dram man came in to the stockroom looking for Samantha he has questions that needed to be answered. A wonderful book to read I was so gripped by the first page I read it in one sitting. I loved the characters and Sam’s spunk. There are some funny moments as I even laughed out loud. I loved David being a pro wrestler as back in the day I would go to wrestling matches. Samantha just fit in where she needed to and they worked well together. Neither one at first let the other one know they felts and Sam left and of course David found her. The romance that develops between the two make you want to crawl into the book yourself, have a cigaret or jump your husband then you might want to go to a wrestling match. Everything worked well in this book from the plot, setting and characters. This is a must read. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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Needing a Cougar

Regina Carlysle, Jayne Rylon, Fran Lee Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Drilled, by Regina Carlysle Lori Donovan accepts the Cougar Challenge and pledges to snag a hot young stud once she’s moved back to her Texas hometown. There she finds hunky Jackson Blue drilling for oil on her property. A driller. Hmm... Driven, by Jayne Rylon Lynn Madison transforms from corporate drone to seductress when her friends issue the Cougar Challenge. Her conquest? A stranger at an airport, sexy rally car driver Sebastian Fiori-who spots Lynn’s decadent menage novel and decides to take her for the ride of a lifetime-with his navigator Mark. Nothing but Sex, by Fran Lee Lee Blackhorse thinks she’s nuts for lusting after her younger weekend helper, but Mike Running Elk has no problem envisioning himself as Lee’s lover. In fact, if he can get her to realize he’s plenty old enough to ring her bell, he plans to do more than just clean her barn and mow her grass. He’s waited long enough. One stimulating challenge... three carnal cougars. Review: This book has 3 novellas Drilled, Driven and Nothing But Sex. Drilled involves Lori and Jackson. Lori moves back to Texas after a bad divorce to her grandparents old home. She knew there was some drilling being done and wanted to talk to the owner. Turned out the owner was a young goodlooking man and had eyes for Lori and vice versa. Driven... Lynn is on a plane trying to get to NY and then Europe for her news business. When the plan gets stranded by snow everyone is desperately trying to get out to NY. Sebastian gets into Lynn’s things while she is off to the car rental. He takes over and they get a ride to NY in a Limo and some hot touching and sizzling wants to over on the way to NY. The story as hot and run to read and even had another friend help along the way, Mark. It was interesting to see how Lynn who was uptight work through the two men and find love with Sebastian. Nothing But Sex....Lee Blackhorse was divorced and running her own little spread. This was one of my favorite of the 3. You can relate to how Lee feels been divorce for 7 years ex husband wants to make her life hell. Mike comes to her rescue more than once. A nice love story with heated and spicy passion. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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reviews erotic | senusal romance

For Everything

The White House

Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Erotic Heat Rating: 4

Rae Spencer

Clay Savage, the ebony haired lead guitarist of the rock band Distracted, has wanted dusky eyed Lily Travis since the moment he met her over a year ago. No matter what he said or how hard he tried, Lily insisted on keeping their relationship as nothing more than causal friendship. Weary of her excuses and only wanting a chance, Clay resorts to manipulation and cons Lily into being his weeklong date. Now that Lily can no longer avoid him or conceal herself as a wallflower, Clay determinedly pursues her only to stumble upon the horrific secret she conceals. Faced with trauma of her past and the shame she wrongfully bears, Clay must now prove to Lily he can protect her and convince her they have a chance For Everything. Review: I have had the pleasure of reading the first book Beyond a Proposition and this book carries on with Will’s brother Clay. I was happy to learn about book 2. Rae does a wonderful job with all her characters. There are some you love and a few you hate. The scenes exciting. There are so many twists in For Everything to keep you guessing and wanting to know more. I loved having Will and Skye come back for a bit part in the book. The romance scenes are hot you might want to read with a fan. Rae knows hot to heat it up. You do not have to read the first book to know what is going on. The 2nd book will fill you in a bit about Will and Skye. I will say you will want to know more about their relationship as well. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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JaQuavis Coleman

The White House is based on true events, reimagining the dark chronicles of a notorious drug kingpin’s death, and the unfortunate events that followed. The young heroine Draya lives paycheck to paycheck, laboring as a maid in a luxurious white house. One day, in the course of performing her duties, she is presented with an irresistible opportunity for a quick—and risky—payday. What unfolds in the white house changes the course of her life. Kidnapping, murder, and mayhem lead her—and the reader—through a harrowing and twisting plot to an explosive ending that no one sees coming. Look through the eyes of this young woman and glimpse how a life can forever be altered due to an unfortunate series of events—all touched off in a legendary white house. Review: This was a very quick read. A basic storyline that involved drugs, sex, and a robbery gone wrong. Lives were changed forever by one decision. This was the first book I’ve read from this author. It kept my interest with all the twists and turns and the surprise ending but was still somewhat predictable. Good depiction of karma..what goes around eventually comes back around. I felt like there could have been more to the story to make it read more like a book and not a short story. Reviewed by Tina Huey


feature sneak peek

Myra Nour

Love’s Captive When Serena awakes, after a close and unpleasant encounter with some sort of stun gun, she learns that resistance is futile and escape only a yearned for dream. She comes to find that she and the other Earth women have been captured by the Moyds..... interstellar merchants, and their mission is to procure fertile wives for the men of Volarn because their own race has been endangered due to the wide-spread sterility of their own women. Serena is disgusted to realize that they are nothing in the men’s eyes but baby makers, but she’s aware that she has no other choice than to face the fate that awaits her with as much dignity as she can.

“That doesn’t sound like much fun. What good is a wish, unless it’s shared?” At Serena’s noncommittal shrug, he took a breath and scattered his petals in an explosion of overdone male force. “Good, now my wish will come true.” Turning to Serena, he said, “My wish is….” Serena covered Rhamus’ mouth playfully with one hand, “You must not tell, remember?” He gripped her hand and placed it on one of his shoulders. “Maybe I’m making up my own rules for this game. Maybe they’re rules that only apply on Volarn.” Serena’s eyes dipped down coyly as he continued, “My wish is for my Queen to kiss me.” Forgetting that it didn’t fit the rules of the game played back on Earth, Serena wanted nothing more than to join Rhamus in the spirit of his game. She leaned forward slightly and that was all the invitation he needed. Wrapping his arms snugly around her, Rhamus kissed her gently on the mouth, as soft as the petals floating by them. She could taste the perfume that invaded their skin with its exotic, flowery persistence. His kiss deepening, Serena answered in kind with an increased pressure of their joined lips and playful involvement of their tongues. His hands were restless and roamed her back, reaching to stroke her thighs as well. Serena ran her hands through her husband’s thick hair, creating a sensual delight for herself and Rhamus. Not realizing their impassioned movements created a precarious position for them on the small bench, both lovers felt their joined bodies shift too late to stop the short fall toward the ground. He landed on the bottom, a large pile of petals cushioning his fall. Serena giggled at the petals that puffed up all around as their bodies landed hard. Tiny bits of flowers clung to their

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skin wherever bare flesh was exposed. She raised herself up, her position of sitting astride her grinning husband was both embarrassing and of a sensual nature. Gripping the back of her head gently but firmly, Rhamus brought Serena back down to stretch out atop him and began their kiss anew. Inside her head, she thought of all kinds of reasons why they shouldn’t be engaging in such behavior in a very public place, but her body refused to listen. It didn’t take long before her body burned with the need for more of her husband’s caresses, ones that couldn’t be satisfied within the confines of a public garden. Her hands gripped Rhamus’ hair in a tight clench as he continued his oral assault on her senses while his large hands played havoc with her bottom. …She was on the verge of throwing caution to the wind, but a small sound interrupted their heated foreplay. “Uhum.” A throat clearing sound jolted through the sensual cloud that surrounded their intense petting. Serena slid quickly off Rhamus and turned a beet red face to Nicole who watched them with a quirky smile lurking in the corners of her mouth.

Myra has published 14 books with Ellora’s Cave & New Concepts Publishing. She enjoys writing romances with paranormal, fantasy & S/F elements, creating believable characters, and is known for her vivid imagination. Recently she has been writing horror; one short story was published by Undead Press in the House of Terror anthology.

MyraNour.net


feature sneak peek

Lexi Adair Rock Star

It’s not the act. It’s the details… Incredibly tight-lipped and painfully private, Anthony Phoenix has been known to make lesser women cry. Luckily, Summer Staite is by no means a lesser woman. It’s her job to know his type—rich, handsome, famous and used to getting what he wants. A dangerous, seductive combination. Luckily for her it’s not the man she’s after. It’s his story. A story that’ll earn her the respect she craves—one they tell her is impossible to get.

cry.

“You came a damn long way just to see me.” His words were harsh, terribly uncaring and might have made a lesser woman

Perhaps if she had been some lovesick fan his reaction might have brought tears to her eyes. But Summer wasn’t a fan and she was more than capable of dealing with his type without losing her head. She couldn’t have cared less about his pretty face, celebrity status, gold records or millions of dollars. There was only one thing she wanted from Anthony Phoenix and it wasn’t an autograph. “Let’s make it worth the trip then.” She didn’t bother to wait for an invitation as she took a seat beside him in the adjoining armchair. In the shadowed corner of the dimly lit café a half-drawn velvet curtain shielded him from public view. It created a deceptive sense of privacy and solitude amidst the chaos. It muffled the chatter of other patrons, the hiss of the espresso machine, even the clatter of dishes. The curtain created a barrier between their world and his. Rumor had it that this was his favorite hangout whenever he was back in his hometown. Her sources, damn secretive sources that had been almost impossible to crack, had told her he always made it a point to stop in for a cup of coffee. Though he’d managed to escape the notice of the other patrons in the quiet Seattle café, he hadn’t escaped Summer, and he certainly wasn’t happy to see her.

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“You want an interview you’ll have to contact my agent. I don’t get friendly with the media and I don’t like reporters.” “So they tell me.” That was just fine by her. She sure as hell wasn’t looking to get friendly with him either—his reputation as a womanizer had made him as famous as his chart-topping records. Despite her repugnance for celebrity womanizers Summer forced a smile. She might not have been interested in seducing the man, but she had every intention of putting his story to bed. The story they told her was impossible to get. The story that would make her career and prove once and for all to her prick of a boss that Summer Staite was worthy of her own byline. “This isn’t your typical interview, darling.” “Really? What is it then?” “A bedtime story.” A hint of a smile curved her ruby-painted lips. “I don’t do celebrity weddings. I don’t do dirty gossip. I don’t give a damn where you grew up, who you’re dating or when your next album is dropping. Stripped Magazine is all about the sex. We’re the best magazine to expose it all without ever exposing a thing.”

Author Lexi Adair has always been a hopeless romantic. She is an avid reader having cut her teeth on her mother’s Harlequin romances. Her stories stem from a deep love affair with the happily-ever-after, although the road taken is sometimes steeped in heartache and deception.

LexiAdair.com


Contemporary | Romance | Mainstream | Literary Fiction

CONTEMPORARY & ROMANCE

the HAPPILY ever AFTER

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trends reading trends in romance

in

Chic Trends

Romance

Sandra Bunino

Fangirling my way through BEA! BookExpo America (BEA) to readers is like Christmas to kids. The buzz of book talk makes you giddy with excitement. I slipped on my comfortable flats and started early because I had premiere tickets to the author breakfast hosted by Nathan Lane! Now I’m not an early morning kind of girl, but I made an exception for Nathan, Oliver Jeffers, Rainbow Rowell, and James Patterson. It was truly a fangirl moment.

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| Chic Trends in Romance | My fangirling didn’t stop at breakfast. I had the pleasure of seeing some of my favorite authors, like Elin Hilderbrand, Robyn Carr, Laura Kaye, Heather Graham, Colleen Hoover, Judy Blume, Alex Brunkhorst, and so many more! If you’re a romance book loving fangirl like me, don’t miss these wonderful and sexy 2015 new releases…

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst (Mira—available September 22, 2015) The story begins with a dinner party invitation… When young journalist Thomas Cleary is sent to dig up quotes for the obituary of a legendary film producer, the man’s eccentric daughter offers him entrée into the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. A small-town boy with working-class roots, Thomas is a stranger in this opulent world of private jets and sprawling mansions. Then he meets Matilda Duplaine. Matilda is a beautiful and mysterious young woman who has never left the lush Bel-Air estate where she was raised. Thomas is immediately entranced by the enigmatic girl, and the two begin a secret love affair. But what starts as an enchanted romance soon unravels a web of secrets and lies that could destroy their lives—and the lives of everyone around them—forever. A modern-day Gatsby tale filled with unforgettable characters and charm, The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine is a sparkling love letter to Los Angeles and a captivating journey beyond the golden gates of its most glamorous estates. Timeless, romantic and utterly absorbing, it is a mesmerizing tale of privilege, identity and the difficult choices we make in the pursuit of power.

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| Sandra Bunino | Hard to Let Go: A Hard Ink Novel by Laura Kaye (Hard Ink, #4, Avon—available now) Five dishonored soldiers. Former Special Forces. One last mission. These are the men of Hard Ink. Beckett Murda hates to dwell on the past. But his investigation into the ambush that killed half his Special Forces team and ended his Army career gives him little choice. Just when his team learns how powerful their enemies are, hardass Beckett encounters his biggest complication yet—a seductive, feisty Katherine Rixey. A tough, stubborn prosecutor, Kat visits her brothers’ Hard Ink Tattoo shop following a bad breakup—and finds herself staring down the barrel of a stranger’s gun. Beckett is hard-bodied and sexy as hell, but he’s also the most infuriating man ever. Worse, Kat’s brothers are at war with the criminals her office is investigating. When Kat joins the fight, she lands straight in Beckett’s sights . . . and in his arms. Not to mention their enemies’ crosshairs. Now Beckett and Kat must set aside their differences to work together, because the only thing sweeter than justice is finding love and never letting go. Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown and Company—available October 13, 2015) The Quinn family celebrates their most dramatic Christmas yet in this enchanting sequel to Elin Hilderbrand’s bestselling Winter Street.

Christmas on Nantucket finds Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn and his family busily preparing for the holiday season. Though the year has brought tragedy, the Quinns have much to celebrate: Kelley has reunited with his first wife Margaret, Kevin and Isabelle have a new baby; and Ava is finally dating a nice guy. But when Kelley’s estranged wife Mitzi shows up on the island, along with Kevin’s devious ex-wife Norah and a dangerously irresistible old fling of Ava’s, the Inn is suddenly overrun with romantic feuds, not to mention guests. With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns—and the Inn—through the holidays intact. Mark your calendars, BEA will be in Chicago in 2016! Book lovers, authors, and industry professionals will converge at McCormick Place, May 11–May 13.

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

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream Drawn Chris Ledbetter Contemporary Heat Rating: 1

Caught between the sweltering fall landscape of Wilmington, NC beaches and southern illusions and expectations, all sixteen year-old Cameron Shade thinks about is art. That, and for Farrah Spangled to view him as more than just a friend. Cameron hopes he can win her heart through art. After several warm interactions with Farrah, including painting together at the beach, Cameron discovers just how complex Farrah’s life is. Following a tense run-in with Farrah’s father, she forbids Cameron to speak to her again, but Cameron’s convinced there’s more behind the request. To impress Farrah, Cameron sketches her portrait into a mysterious sketchbook. He nearly jumps from his skin when the sketch moves and communicates with him. Farrah is now in grave danger because the sketch he drew of her sucked her real-life’s soul into the sketchbook. Cameron now has twenty days to extract Farrah. To save her, he must draw himself into the book. If he fails… they both die.

Review: Stunning! Each word was vividly woven together, creating a brilliant read. Drawn truly comes to life, each character jumps off the page. Drawn by Chris Ledbetter delves into the thoughts and feelings of teenage Cameron. His male voice shines through in his love for Farrah, his father, friends, how he misses his mom and his great admiration and respect for his art mentor, Mr. Cassisi, who wisely tells Cameron, “The greatest deceit this life delivers is the belief that you have time.” And that sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Art is a huge theme throughout, and the way the author cleverly weaves fantasy and real-life scenarios is simply amazing. I couldn’t stop reading this once I picked it up. Filled with tender moments, hard decisions Cameron has to make, Drawn was original every step of the way! YA lovers, look no further for your next read! Reviewed by Sasha Hibbs

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Lost and Found Rachel Hanna Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

When big-city girl Audrey wakes up on the cold, front porch of a working ranch, she’s got lots of questions. But before she can answer them, she’s greeted by three handsome brothers — cowboys — and their Ma, complete with a warm feast and a welcoming smile. Following the doctor’s orders to stay put for a few days, Audrey makes herself useful around the ranch; baling hay and hunting for coyotes. But the cowboys, one handsome one in particular, want to get to the bottom of her story. Can she trust these people she just met? And what she’s about to reveal is a dark past she’s trying to escape. Will the ranch be the future she’s looking for, or can she turn back to her flashy, citysicker lifestyle?

Review: Audrey wrecked her car in a ditch and waked to a ranch and feel asleep on the couch on the front porch. It was late in the night and didn’t want to wake anyone up. The three brothers are checking her out when Ma comes out and has them bring her in so they can send off for the doctor. He says she needs to stay put for a few days as she is dizzy. She can’t bring herself to tell the family the whole truth and helps out around the ranch. The guys are amazed she can ride and shoot with the best of them. Her uncle taught her well on his ranch. Jace doesn’t trust her much and is leery. Riley is all about women and enjoys here being around. Gage the oldest brother enjoys here around but guards his heart as he has been hurt before. The two become close as the days go by and Audrey is wanting to tell the truth about what is going on her life. Can Gage take what she has to say? The story was great and I wanted the pages to keep turning and turning. The characters were written very well and the whole story was great.

Heart’s Desire T.J. Kline Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

If you could have anything, do anything… what would it be? Jessie Hart has a soft spot for healing the broken, especially horses and children, but her business is failing and bankruptcy is looming. The one man who can save Heart Fire Ranch is the last man she wants to take advice from—financial expert Nathan Kerrington, the same man who broke her heart eight years ago. Nathan Kerrington has it all, except the one thing he wanted most—Jessie. Now that he’s finally freed himself from his corrupt family, he wants to make amends. When he’s called in to save Jessie’s ranch, he sees his chance to win her back—if only he can prove to her that she can trust him with her heart.

Review: T.J. Kline is one of my favorite western romance authors. I have read Runaway Cowboy and it was brilliant writing just like Heart’s Desire. The characters worm their way into your heart and you want to find out if the happy ending comes along. Jessie’s brother asked his best friend from college Nathan to help her out as her finances has been depleted from changing the dude ranch into a horse rescue. What her brother doesn’t know is Nathan hurt her a few years ago when he left with no word. No one knew about their romance. She doesn’t want him back into her life as she has never forgiven him for waking away. Nathan doesn’t understand how much he had hurt Jessie as he has no clue why she is so upset. This makes Jessie even more mad when she sees him. She knows the spark is still there but they will have to rebuild their trust and see where things go. Another great book from a talented author. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Ever After at Sweetheart Ranch Emma Cane Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

The only thing hotter than a cowboy... Math teacher Lyndsay De Luca never surprised anyone—least of all herself— until this summer. First, she secretly published her debut romance novel. Then, she started dating Will Sweet, the cowboy of her dreams. And now, Lyndsay’s scrambling to hide the juiciest tidbit of all: that the hazel-eyed hero of her steamy fiction is the same guy whose kisses have become her mind-blowing reality. ...Is a cowboy in love. Ever since Will’s high-school sweetheart died in a tragic accident, he hasn’t been able to commit to a long-term relationship. Lyndsay is the first woman in years who’s been able to catch—and keep—his attention. When they team up to teach Valentine’s teens about ranch life, Will discovers it’s not just her sexy-as-hell smile that has him hooked. Will she be the one to finally break down the walls around his guarded heart?

Review: I have to admit I have not read the other books in this series as I had no clue it existed until this tour. I am so glad I have found it to start at the beginning. This book was wonderful. Will’s past keeps him in the past riddle with quilt. His former high school girlfriend died in an accident that he feels guilty about. He can’t move on. Lyndsay has had a crush on Will for a long time now and for 15 years he has had this quilt. Lyndsay finally realizes he will never be able to love her and leaves. Lyndsay is about to release her first romance novel she tires desperately to keep the book under wraps but everyone wants to help promote her to anyone who listens. Will has no clue the hero is similar to him and has no clue the book is being released. I liked the fact we learn about the past characters in the other books another reason I want to read the others. I did not feel left out but saying that I wish I had started at the beginning. It does not take away from this wonderful read though. The author does a great job with this book and I will be looking for the other books and continuing this series. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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Love You Nicole Wright & Saraah Sowell Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

Aubrey Forrest’s Rumspringa is quickly approaching. She knows all too well what the ramifications can be for choosing to leave the community. Although she’s not to discuss it, the pain is still very real for her. After witnessing the excommunication of someone she loved dearly, Aubrey is not too keen on going through this rite of passage herself. Jamie Miller’s Rumspringa is approaching too. His feelings about it may be very different, but that still doesn’t make his decision any easier. A sweet friendship develops between Aubrey and Jamie, but there are rules to be followed. As Aubrey’s heart grows fonder for Jamie, some rules prove to be difficult to obey. Neither wants to keep secrets in this very disciplined world, but some secrets are necessary in order for their love to bloom. Can Aubrey and Jamie reconcile their personal struggles and find a happy medium that will allow them to love freely?

Review: This was a cute Amish romance. Aubrey doesn’t know if she is going to partake in Rumspringa as her sister Emma has up and left. She ran off and is now in NY what her family and Jamie doesn’t know, Emma writes Aubrey letters. Aubrey really likes Jamie who has moved to town recently. Jamie knows she is hiding something but continues to get to know Aubrey as he really likes her. When he finds out the truth he is upset and slowly gets over it but worries she will leave like her sister did. The whole community feels the same way and even whispers about it. A surprise happens ( don’t want to spoil anything ) and Aubrey has to make a choice that might make Jamie rethink his love for her. The authors do a great job with the book, there are some typo’s and grammar issues that can be easily fixed. The story continues to book 2 which I will be looking for. I want to know how this couple does. A very interesting read. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Bad Blood Lucienne Diver Contemporary/Urban Fantasy Heat Rating: 3

Latter-Day Olympians, Book 1 The gods play…and mortals pay. Tori Karacis’s family line may trace back to a drunken liaison between the god Pan and one of the immortal gorgons. Or…maybe it’s just coincidence that her glance can, literally, stop men in their tracks. While her fear of heights kept her out of the family aerobatic troupe, her extreme nosiness fits right in with her uncle’s P.I. business. Warning: Contains pot-boiling passion between a heroine who may—or may not—be a descendant of Medusa, and a hot god and a hunky cop with the… equipment…to handle her, even on her worst badhair day. Beware of killer kisses, trickster gods and bearded grandmothers Who Know Everything.

Review: What a ride this book gave me. Hollywood is ripe with Greek gods, some run amok! Tori is a detective, determined to discover the murderer of her recent client. Of course it didn’t help that she met the killer face-to-face and he looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Who would believe he was a perp? The deeper she delves into the hunt, the more Tori wonders if some of her grandma’s stories were true. Did the old Grecian gods still roam the Earth? Was she really descended from a Gorgon? I loved it when Tori found she could literally freeze people. Apollo was an exciting character and the description of his power over women’s desires interesting. His effect on Tori was sizzling! The author’s sense of humor had me cracking a smile throughout. An entertaining read. I highly recommend this book to those who love a wise-ass heroine, mysteries and twists of mythology. Reviewed by Lois Chandler

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Withering Hope Layla Hagen Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

Aimee’s wedding is supposed to turn out perfect. Her dress, her fiancé and the location—the idyllic holiday ranch in Brazil—are perfect. But all Aimee’s plans come crashing down when the private jet that’s taking her from the U.S. to the ranch—where her fiancé awaits her—defects mid-flight and the pilot is forced to perform an emergency landing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. With no way to reach civilisation, being rescued is Aimee and Tristan’s—the pilot—only hope. A slim one that slowly withers away, desperation taking its place. Because death wanders in the jungle under many forms: starvation, diseases. Beasts. As Aimee and Tristan fight to find ways to survive, they grow closer. Together they discover that facing old, inner agonies carved by painful pasts takes just as much courage, if not even more, than facing the rainforest. Despite her devotion to her fiancé, Aimee can’t hide her feelings for Tristan—the man for whom she’s slowly becoming everything. You can hide many things in the rainforest. But not lies. Or love. Withering Hope is the story of a man who desperately needs forgiveness and the woman who brings him hope. It is a story in which hope births wings and blooms into a love that is as beautiful and intense as it is forbidden.

Review: This is one of those books, you start reading and can not put down. You want to keep those pages turning to see what would happen between Aimee and Tristan. After they crash into the Amazon things are pretty much the same for a while trying to get food, bathe etc. Tristan came across as protective but also very needy. The story wasn’t bad they finally get together but her now EX finance takes the news a little too well I think. He must not have loved her too much. The character were good a little more depth would have been great but looking at them over not bad. The secenes were pretty good you can picture yourself in the story. I would read another story by this author. Reviewed by Babs Hightower


Gambling on a Dream Sara Walter Ellwood Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

With Everything At Stake… It’s been years since Sheriff Dawn Madison said goodbye to Texas Ranger Wyatt McPherson. She’s closed the door on the heartache of her past. But when the sleepy town of Colton, Texas, is rocked by a series of shocking murders, Dawn has no choice but to trust the man who broke her heart if she wants to protect the ones she loves... All Bets Are Off Four years have passed. But Wyatt hasn’t forgotten the bold, Native American beauty who stole his heart . . . and broke it. Losing her and the life they had hoped to share left him an empty shell of himself. But if he wants to stop the deranged killer terrorizing the innocent kids of Colton, he’ll have to let Dawn back into his life. It’s a risk he’s willing to take, even if heartache is all he takes home.

Review: This is the third book in a series and I have not read the first two. It can be read as a stand alone but I think I would have been better off reading the first two books first. A warning...prejudices, PTSD, and attempted suicide by a former military personnel are in this book. With that being said..there is a lot going on through out the story. It is easy to get confused but if the reader pays attention you can get through it fairly well. Wyatt and Dawn’s relationship ended really badly. Dawn was shot while they were on a sting operation, Wyatt discovered she’d risked and lost their unborn baby boy. In his grief, he abandoned her or so it seemed. A misunderstanding brought this all on. The drugs added to the mystery of the town and what is going on. Kids keep dying on Dawn’s watch but she doesn’t know what or who she is fighting. The book was well done for everything going on overall. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

Texas Bossa Nova Cynthia D’Alba Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

Texas Montgomery Mavericks, Book 5 He plans to take the wander right out of her wanderlust. Magda Hobbs’s job as ranch housekeeper—and its daily dose of cowboys—wreaked havoc on her libido. Especially one certain cowboy she couldn’t resist. Scared of going down the same path as her mother, Magda jumped on her motorcycle and hit the road. Five months later, her father’s mild heart attack has forced her back to Whispering Springs. While she’s grateful for the cleaning job at one of the Montgomery ranch houses, she’s not so thrilled one of the cowboys she’s looking after is the one she fell for last spring. Reno Montgomery’s parents hiring a housekeeper for him and his brother is a nice surprise, but he’s shocked to discover it’s Magda, the woman who up and left just when things were getting serious between them. When a freak snowstorm cuts off the outside world, the isolation rekindles their desire. But when the weather and the roads clear, Reno has to work hard and fast to keep the woman of his dreams from accelerating right out of his life again.

Review: It was a fun quick read with very likeable characters that you liked right from the beginning. Strong, independent Magda, and sexy cowboy Reno Montgomery, belonged together even if they were worlds apart. Their supporting cast members , like dear old dad who actually managed to find a new love, Reno’s twin brother Darren, need their stories told along with one or two others. Reno and Magda weren’t your typical reunited, on again-off again couple, but they made it work and they made you want them to have the happily ever after that they deserve. Even though there are obstacles that may prevent them from having one. So, if you want a fast read and a good time at the D & R ranch, pick up a copy and enjoy your time there. Reviewed by Cassandra G

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Tryst Arie Lane Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

Bentley Celeste is a witty, foul mouthed, reclusive, dark romance writer. She lives her life in solitude, hiding from her painful past and the one person hell bent on destroying her future. She doesn’t have time for relationships and has no interest in allowing anyone but her best friend into her private little sanctuary. Tristan Reece is sultry, sexy, and jaded. He also happens to be the cover model for Bentley’s long time acquaintance, Electra. He believes everyone who he loves is going to betray him, and then walk away. Though he carries the reputation of a ladies man, Tristan prefers to keep his heart and his bed empty. A chance meeting blind sides Bentley as she’s nearly trampled by the giant wall of muscle that is Tristan. Tempers aren’t the only thing to fly. Bentley may not have any interest in Tristan, but after getting his ass handed to him through a verbal assault, he can’t forget the tiny Spitfire that sparks more than just his fury. Both are stubborn, with the will to fight against each other until the very end. Will Tristan’s determination be enough to fight the demons lingering in Bentley’s shadow? Or is Bentley’s fear strong enough to tear them apart.

Review: What a page turner this book is really better than I thought it would be. Bentley has so many layers to her you can’t help but fall in love with you and relate to her in many ways. Bentley and Tristan are both trying to get over some past hurts and problems. Tristan pushes Bentley’s buttons in a way that no other person has in a long time. They really don’t understand why they are each drawn to each other. The author does a great job with the characters and the over story. I will be checking out the 2nd book. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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Favorite Coffee, Favorite Crush Victoria Pinder Contemporary Heat Rating: 3

Penny moves back to Miami to start her a job with a list of things to accomplish. 1. Find a place to live. 2. Avoid her gold-digging mother. 3. Reconnect with old high school friends: her best friend Sandra, the dramatic Eva, the dark Michael, her half-brother Wyatt, and her former crush Jay. Jay may have kept her firmly in the “friend zone”, but that didn’t stop her from wanting more. Her five friends have stood by her through some difficult times and she’ll need their help now to accomplish her first two goals. As soon as Jay sees Penny, he puts his plan into motion. His investors need to see him with a stable woman, one who isn’t all flash and no brains; Penny fits the bill perfectly. There’s just one hitch—he wants more. Their pretend date sets off a whirlwind of plots. From mothers who want to control their children’s lives to the loss of her exciting new job, Penny’s world turns upside down. She knows she can overcome all obstacles except one—she’s falling for Jay all over again.

Review: It was charming, witty, and a very likeable read. You liked Penelope Knightheart and Jay Marshall and they were quite believable as a reunited couple after Jay propositions Penelope. This worked out rather nicely despite the few major hiccups and glitches that came along. Which came in the form of some interesting family members who believed, they had the right to act the way that they did and, neither, Penelope or Jay were happy about it. They each had some unwanted baggage to get rid of as well and it was interesting watching them get rid of it. A very entertaining read that you’ll enjoy, so grab a coffee and enjoy this likeable book. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Heart of Design Ellen Butler Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Sophie Hartland has recently turned 30, and is five years out from a confidence crushing divorce. She’s sworn off men in favor of making her interior design business a success when her best friend introduces her to LA Heat’s hot new star, Ian O’Connor. He’s one of Hollywood’s beautiful people, with an Irish accent that makes Sophie’s toes curl. Ian hires her to renovate his home, and at their second meeting he initiates a scorching kiss that knocks her socks off. Even though she would love to drop down and go for it on the funky kitchen floor, Sophie sticks to her guns and enforces her “no dating clients” rule. Can Sophie ignore her traitorous libido and hold Ian off for the next five or six weeks until the renovations are finished? Or will she cave in to his pull on her heartstrings, and end up doing the knicky-knacky on the new velvet sofa? More importantly, can she protect her heart in this game of wills?

Review: This book is about Sophie Hartland an Interior Designer meeting a sexy Irish actor named Ian O’Connor. Sparks immediately fly between the two but Sophie is not sure that Ian wants her more than a one night stand. Would Ian convince her otherwise or would Sophie’s terrible past with men proceed? This story was amateur in the beginning. As I was reading the book in the beginning I did not feel any sort of excitement for this book. It was predictable and I was not interested in knowing what was going to happen. The book picked up and I could not put it down. I love Ian and Sophie together. I admire Sophie’s strength and determination to not date Ian until the project is done, and I like Ian for continuing to try to change her mind. This book was fun and flirty with a bit of danger to it. Reviewed by Nathifa Swan

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feature sneak peek

Sandra Bunino Colors of Us

Everything she knew to be true fell apart. Then fell apart again… Michelle Willis is running from her past. What better place to hide than in the anonymity of New York City. Finding refuge in a tiny SoHo art gallery, she rebuilds her life one painting at a time. A wrong turn sends Hunter McAvery on a crash course with disaster. He fights his own demons by following his big brother’s lead – drinking and bedhopping his way through Manhattan. A glance at Michelle’s self-portrait triggers emotions Hunter can’t tamp down. Driven to meet the artist, he discovers a fiery chemistry as their lives collide. But when their past threatens to tear them apart, can their love survive?

“I’m trying like hell not to kiss you.” Hunter straightened his back but didn’t loosen his grip on her arms. Her skin prickled from the nearness of his body. She let her gaze drift to his lips. “Why?” she whispered. He blew a slow breath between his teeth. “Nothing good would come of it. I’m not capable of giving or feeling… or offering anything much to you.” He shook his head but he didn’t move from her body. “I don’t believe that.” Michelle wriggled her arms from his grasp. Her fingertips lingered on his corded forearms, which flexed under her touch. Easing a trail toward his shoulders, her fingers reminded her of a paintbrush’s first dab of color on a fresh canvas. She’d always believed each canvas had a personality of its own, and it was the symphony of the brush, artist, and canvas that created the work of art. She wanted to explore the blank canvas of Hunter McAvery. She studied his arms, still caging her in. Protecting her. Wanting her. Her eyes met his gaze. He stared at her, unmoving, but a spark burned in his eyes. She held her breath, afraid to break his trance. Her palms smoothed over his shoulders and down his chest, stopping at the center of his ribs. Pushing into the muscles of his chest, she felt the strong beat of his heart on her fingers. “Kiss me, Hunter.” Raising her eyebrows, she dared to look him in the eyes, almost afraid of what she’d see. “You don’t understand. You’re too… good.” He averted his gaze. “Maybe you should let me decide what’s good for me.” She moved closer, his breath burned hot on her face, and he squeezed his eyes closed.

Her hands traveled up his chest and rested on the bulk of his strong shoulders. Pulling him in, her breasts molded into his chest and, finally, he crashed his lips down on hers. She met every stroke of his tongue as her fingers raked through the ends of his hair. Moaning into his mouth, she straddled his muscular thigh as warmth flooded her sex. She’d never felt more alive. His hand grazed her cheek before taking her chin between his thumb and index finger and pulling away from their kiss. He tipped his forehead to hers, his raspy breath hot on her mouth. “Michelle….” Michelle widened her eyes. “What?” she whispered. “You. Me. This just can’t happen. Not now. Not like this.” . But it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Sandra Bunino is a romance author who makes her parents proud by putting her MBA degree to good use dreaming up heroes who resemble David Gandy whenever possible. When not staying up past her bedtime torturing her oh-so-sexy heroes, she can be found shopping for shoes or saving turtles.

SandraBunino.com

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feature sneak peek

A.B. Michaels The Lair

After her playboy father dies in a racing boat mishap, innkeeper Daniela Dunn must travel from Northern California back to Verona, Italy and her childhood home, an estate called the Panther’s Lair. To say she’s reluctant to go is an understatement. In fact, she’s petrified. The mansion she grew up in holds terrifying memories and deeply buried secrets. It’s a place where appearances are deceiving and the price of honesty could be death. Gabe de la Torre needs to settle old family debts before starting fresh with the woman he feels could be The One. But when a mystery woman reveals that Dani’s father may have been murdered, the stakes rise dramatically and Gabe realizes they’re now players in a treacherous game. Keeping Dani safe becomes his top priority, even as Dani strives to figure out whom she can trust: her relatives, Gabe, or even herself.

“You are absolutely getting off in Frankfurt. You are not going to follow me all the way to Milan!” Daniela Dunn stood in the aisle of the rapidly filling 747, an oversized carry-on bag slung over her shoulder. She leaned over and hissed the words at the tall, raven-haired detective sitting in the aisle seat of row twenty-nine. Gabriele de la Torre—Gabe to his friends—didn’t say a word. He simply smiled and stretched out his long, muscular legs, obviously settling in for the transoceanic flight. “What, you’re going to ignore me now?” she said. “After I told you and told you—” “Is there a problem, ma’am?” A very attractive blond flight attendant paused while checking the overhead bins, glanced at Dani, and smiled at Gabe as if he’d just made People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” Dani glared at him before mumbling, “No, I … uh …” The attendant glanced at Dani’s boarding pass. “You’re back in row thirty-seven, seat B. That’s—” “I know which seat I’m in,” Dani interrupted. The attendant turned crisp as a Granny Smith apple. “If there’s no problem, I’ll have to ask you to please take your seat. You’re holding up other passengers who are trying to get settled. We have a very full flight.”

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Gabe sent Dani a patronizing look before addressing the attendant. “I hope we don’t wear you out,” he said with a melt-in-your-mouth smile—the kind of smile Dani wanted to wipe right off his face. The attendant matched him wattage for wattage. “We’re here to please,” she chirped before stepping into the next row to allow Dani to pass. “I’ll talk to you later,” Dani muttered as she made her way back to seat thirtyseven B, bumping her bag into several seated passengers along the way. “Excuse me,” she said. “Sorry … Pardon me.” She found her row and wriggled between a gawky teenage boy wearing enormous headphones while staring out the window, and a middle-aged man with perfectly cut hair wearing a Bulgari wristwatch. She learned shortly after takeoff that he was an Italian banker who traveled a lot and was more than eager to “practice my Eeenglish” over pasta and a fine chianti. In fact, since Dani was una bella donna di mondo, would she be available the next time he was in San Francisco on business? He could text her when he arrived.

Born and raised in northern California, A.B. Michaels holds master’s degrees in history and broadcasting, and worked for many years in the public relations and marketing fields. An avid quilter and bocce player, she currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two furry “sons” who don’t seem to realize they’re just dogs.

ABMichaels.com


Author & Reader Con 2015

FEATURING AUTHORS:

Author & Reader Con

July 30th - August 1st, 2015

2nd ARC NOLA Con and Book Signing

Quinn Loftis

Plus, the BTS Red Carpet Book Awards! - Enjoy the tours and fun of the French Quarter with the authors - Speed Date the authors - BTS E-Magazine Red Carpet Awards - Book Signing - Games - Hollywood Ball FUN FUN FUN! Visit AuthorReaderCon.com to register now! Authors - $125.00 Includes entire weekend with 1/2 table for book signing!

Readers - $15 Includes entire weekend access!

Keynote Speaker: Abbi Glines

V.A. Dold

author and creator of ARC

Donna Michaels

Myra Nour

author and CEO of BTSeMag

and many more!

Visit AuthorReaderCon.com to find out more and register online!


feature sneak peek

Tawdra Kandle The Posse

One woman, three men, and a beach romance as unpredictable as the riptide. . . Being a widow at the age of forty-four was never in Jude Hawthorne’s plans. After her husband’s death, she’s left with her family’s beach restaurant and two nearly-grown children. The last thing she’s looking for is another chance at love. However, if her husband’s best friends, the Posse, have anything to say about it, love is just what she’s going to get. The Posse is determined to take care of Jude, and when they decide the best way to do that is for one of them to sweep her off her feet, three begin to vie for her affections. But only one can reach her heart.

Remembering, he moved toward her now, tugging loose his tie as he went. The music muffled his steps, and he might have reached her entirely undetected, except that Jude chose that moment to execute a perfect spin. She saw him, and her hand flew to her throat. She screeched in shock, and for a moment, Logan thought she might pass out. He knew the minute surprise was superseded by annoyance, but before she could say anything, he stuck out one hand. “Dance with me?” Jude’s face melted into a smile as she took his hand. Logan spun her once, and then simply held her hand, moving in synchronicity to her steps and swings as Sheila E. continued to tout the benefits of a glamorous life. After a few moments, the drums gave way to the more mellow guitar of Madonna’s Crazy For You. Logan pulled Jude close, wrapping his other arm around her back, just he had wanted to do over twenty years before. In those days, when the music slowed, Jude always turned away, her eyes searching for Daniel until he found her on the dance floor. But tonight, her wide green eyes fastened on Logan’s. For a moment, he feared she might pull away; confusion and a hint of trepidation clouded her face. Then she relaxed and rested her forehead against his shoulder, slipping her hand around to press against his back.

Logan wondered if she could hear the pounding of his heart. How many years had this been his dream? All through high school, definitely. Even when he had known that Jude would always love Daniel, that he would come first in her heart for the rest of their lives, he had still dreamed. He had never betrayed how he felt in any way. He had stood up for them at their wedding as Daniel’s best man, offered the toast, kissed the bride on her cheek. He’d been there for first Meghan’s birth and then Joseph’s. He hadn’t been obsessed with Jude all those years. He had lived a full life and had several relationships, because he knew that being in love with his best friend’s one true love and wife was an untenable situation. So at some point, he had simply decided to stop. But now here they were. Jude was in his arms, swaying with him. He could feel the heat of her breath against his chest, her fingers moving absently over his shirt, her other hand small and fragile in his. Desire rose, and Logan swallowed, hard. He knew he should leave it alone. Enjoy the dance, revel in the feel of her against him, and for now at least, leave it at that.

Tawdra Kandle writes romance. She loves unlikely pairings, strong women, sexy guys, hot love scenes and just enough conflict to make it interesting. Her books include YA, NA and adult paranormal and contemporary romance. She lives in central Florida with her family and too many cats. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.

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Introducing the new BTS Customer Awards!

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

RedCarpet.BTSeMag.com


Historical | Western | Period Fiction

once UPON a TIME

HISTORICAL & WESTERN

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more beyond the books

Hunks Hot HISTORY The

of

Christy English

Fashion Forward, Regency Style In honor of this month’s contemporary theme, I thought I might muse on what was considered the cutting edge of fashion for the hot hunks of history living in the Regency period. In spite of what you see on my covers, most gentlemen did not go about shirtless. Just so we’re clear, the old-fashioned gents of the Regency period (1811–

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| The Hot Hunks of History | Just so we’re clear, the oldfashioned gents of the Regency period (1811–1821) wore linen or cotton shirts without buttons, as did their younger, more modern counterparts. It seemed that the fashions of the Georgian era were fading, with their bright colors and their silks and satins. In the place of peacock clothes for men, Beau Brummell had gentlemen dressing in stark black with hints of color on their waistcoats. A man in the height of fashion wore trousers instead of breeches; something that seems perfectly normal now was once thought of as very casual. Ladies throwing a ball preferred their male guests to wear breeches, which fastened at the knee and showed off a gentleman’s calves. At the Almack’s Assembly room, a gentleman would not be admitted wearing trousers. For centuries, men had sported longer hair, and in the Georgian era, they wore their hair tied back and powdered. The wealthiest often wore powdered wigs, as the Vicomte de Valmont did in Dangerous

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| Christy English |

Liaisons. But gentlemen of the Regency era did not wear wigs any longer. And Beau Brummell even started a trend of gentlemen cutting their hair short and brushing it forward in the Brutus cut. Everything from antiquity was back, and during the Roman era, men had worn their hair short. If it was good enough for Caesar, it was good enough for a fashionable Regency man. So with a gentleman wearing trousers and short hair, he could almost pass for a modern hunk. Almost, but not quite. As much as I adore the Regency era, there is no substitute for a modern man.

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.

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reviews historical | western | period fiction

Earls Just Want to Have Fun Shana Galen Historical Heat Rating: 3

His heart may be the last thing she ever steals… Marlowe is a pickpocket, a housebreaker—and a better actress than any professional on the stage. She runs with the Covent Garden Cubs, a gang of thieves living in the slums of London’s Seven Dials. It’s a fierce life, and Marlowe has a hard outer shell. But when she’s alone, she allows herself to think of a time before—a dimly remembered life when she was called Elizabeth. Maxwell, Lord Dane, is intrigued when his brother, a hired investigator, ropes him into his investigation of the fiercely beautiful hellion. He teaches her to navigate the social morass of the ton, but Marlowe will not escape so easily. Instead, Dane is drawn into her dangerous world, where the student becomes the teacher and love is the greatest risk of all. Review: An original rags to riches story! Marlowe, or rather Lady Elizabeth, was kidnapped from a park at age 5. Thrown into a Seven dials gang and raised to be a thief-taker, she is literally dragged, kicking and screaming, back into the world of the ton. This feisty female meets, Maxwell Derring, the Earl of Dane, a priggish gentleman who is definitely not an alpha male, but delicious none the less. Shana doesn’t hold back on the gritty part of being in a gang as a young girl and yet this story is filled with humorous segments that have some good comic relief. This was a great start to the Covent Garden Cubs and I’m looking forward to reading of more reformed thieves! Reviewed by Nelle

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Echoes in the Darkness Jane Godman Historical Heat Rating: 2

Not betrothed, but beguiled In artistic circles she is the Divine Dita, Paris’s most sought-after nude model. But now she’s not so much posing as playing a role: fiancée to the next earl of Athal. The charade is a favor to Dita’s friend, Eddie Jago, a dissolute painter…and the aforementioned heir. As deceptions go, it is innocent compared to what will come. On the grim Cornish coast, from the ashes of a ruined castle rises the Jagos’ sumptuous new manor house. The freshhewn stone, however, cannot absorb the blood of centuries or quiet the echoes of past crimes. Dita struggles to decipher the family: the infirm earl and his inscrutable wife; resentful Eddie; sheltered sister Eleanor. And Cad: the handsome second son whose reputation is spotless in business—scandalous everywhere else. Review: Echoes of Darkness is a really fast read and surprisingly light for being a gothic romance. Although it is gothic there is not a set time period that the book is set in and so I am a little unsure when I am reading what time period I am supposed to be in. Because of that I was unsure if historically the book was correct. For me that was a little off putting. Other than that I found this book a very good read that really drew the reader into the lives of the characters, especially since the first page throws you into a situation with a naked visitor. I enjoyed the pace of this book and how the author was able to characterize the characters without being boring. Overall this book was better than I had initially expected and so I was happy with that.

Lady Honor’s Debt Maggi Andersen Historical Heat Rating: 2

Freedom. That’s all Lady Honor Baxendale wants—for her sisters and for herself. Honor has a bold plan to become financially independent, using a skill she learned at her father’s knee. She seeks the help of a solicitor and is pleased with her choice… as long as she can resist the solicitor himself. Lord Edward Winborne has been happy to come to the aid of his four sisters in the past. But when a neighbor’s daughter, Lady Honor Baxendale, requests his help for a dangerous scheme she has in mind, he feels it his duty to dissuade her. When that fails, he wants to protect her, and then somehow finds he wants to do more. Much more. Review: Loved this story! This was a good, funny, sexy, romantic read. My favorite character was Lady Honor. She was a strong willed lady hiding her beauty in hopes of saving her family. Lord Edward came across as an intelligent, caring, sensitive, strong, gentleman. This story had romance, a bit of mystery, suspense, and emotion. Some of the details throughout the story helped me picture the scenery and what the ladies might be wearing. The descriptions throughout the book had my imagination and creativity flowing. I would highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the next book. Reviewed by Tina Huey

Reviewed by Andi Schellinger

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reviews historical | western | period fiction

A Code of the Heart Jacki Delecki Historical Heat Rating: 3

Miss Amelia Bonnington has been in love with her childhood hero since she was eleven years old… or so she thought until a not-so proper impassioned and unyielding kiss from the not-so honorable and equally disreputable Lord Derrick Brinsley, gave her reason to question the feelings of the heart. Lord Brinsley, shunned from society for running off with his brother’s fiancée, hasn’t cared about or questioned his lack of acceptance until meeting the beguiling Amelia Bonnington. One passionate moment with the fiery Miss Bonnington has him more than willing to play by society’s rules to possess the breathtaking, red-haired woman. Amelia unwittingly becomes embroiled in espionage when she stumbles upon a smuggling ring in the modiste shop of her good friend. To prove her French friend’s innocence, she dangerously jumps into the fray, jeopardizing more than her life. Review: Lord Brinsley has his hands full when he ends up in the presence of Amelia Bonnington, a very captivating and tempting fiery red headed temptress. She managed to capture his attention like no other, but the only trouble is he’s the kind that’s “no good” for a gentlewoman of good standing in society. It doesn’t help that she’s got four giants for brothers and the fiancée of her best friend to look out for her, not to mention that one of them is also Lord Brinsley’s boss. It had charm, wit, and even if they were polar opposites, they meshed together quite nicely and they belonged together. It had a little bit of everything and the characters were well defined. And quite a few of the secondary characters should get a story of their own. So if you ever get a chance, check it out you just may be pleasantly surprise Reviewed by Cassandra G

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Clockwork Pirate

The Best of Both Rogues

Historical Heat Rating: 4

Historical Heat Rating: 3

Samantha Grace

Lyn Gala

Alex hid his unnatural attraction to men for many years. That changes when the pirate Beche takes Alex after capturing his ship. At first Alex believes his fate is death and the only question a matter of how he might die. However, the longer he is on the ship, the more he realizes that Beche hates the world because it is unfair in ways Alex never understood. As Alex begins to respect this strong, independent man, Alex’s dormant desires begin to reassert themselves. Beche hates the titled classes and their government enforcers. They might have outlawed slavery on paper, but they never came to the islands to free him or his family. Since his skin is black, society has little respect for him. Beche expects no more of this latest captive, but soon Beche begins to realize that Alex is a naïve and beautiful man who values family and struggles with his own place in society. That poses an even larger problem because Beche does not want to send Alex back to a world that will mistreat him, but he has no place for a lord on a ship full of pirates. Review: I really enjoyed Clockwork Pirate by Lyn Gala. This book has all the good stuff; pirates, sci-fi, steampunk, you know all the good stuff. I enjoyed how Lyn was able to grab my attention quickly and was able to guide me through the book in a good way, not pushy but correctly. The one thing that I did not enjoy was the way that the author portrayed racism and how men treat women. The social commentary regarding gender and souls was very interesting but I am still unsure how I feel. I found this to be not only a good book but also a good look at how social structures change and how social commentary is important, be it in the news or in a steam punk fictional novel. Overall a solid book with some small things I found issues with.

The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was leave his bride-to-be on their wedding day. The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man. After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right. Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he’s back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself… Review: I went into this book thinking it wasn’t for me. Samantha Grace is a new author to me, so I just wasn’t sure. I truly enjoyed the book! I couldn’t understand why Ben left the way he did and why he never came back for Evie. It seemed very wrong when from the start you could see they both still loved each other! My heart was hurt when Sir Jonathan and Evie announced their engagement. I thought Evie was a really good fit for Ben! I knew there was something up with Sir Jonathan! LOVED that twist! I’m now hoping for a book for him and for Lord Margrave. Through the twists and turns Ms. Grace led us to a very happy conclusion. Reviewed by Nelle

Reviewed by Andi Schellinger

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reviews historical | western | period fiction

Kiss the Earl

What a Rake Wants

Gina Lamm

Maggi Andersen

Historical Heat Rating: 3

Historical Heat Rating: 3

King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn’s inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued. After her neighbor, Sir Harold Crowthorne informs Althea that he means to take her country property, Owltree Cottage, by fair means or foul, she must search for help. The first man she turns to is promptly murdered and the second lies to her. That leaves Flynn, Lord Montsimon, a man she has been studiously avoiding. But Montsimon is decidedly unhelpful, and more than a little mysterious. Her only option is to seduce him. Althea has little confidence that she will succeed, especially as before her husband was killed in a duel, he often told her she was quite hopeless at intimacy. When a spy is murdered, Flynn wonders just what Althea knows and what her involvement might be with the man the king wants Flynn to investigate. Review: You liked feisty young widow Althea and her resolve to live the way she wanted to instead of conforming to the ways of society. Lord Mountsimmon helped Althea when somebody was trying to gain access to property that Althea owned and would do anything to acquire it. Even if it meant getting her out of the way to do so. Mountsimmon was willing to do what it took to protect her. The villains that showed up were reprehensible and got what they deserved eventually. It had wit, charm and a likeability factor right from the beginning and a few characters just may need a story of their own. It was fast paced and moved along quite nicely and was a highly entertaining read, so if you get a chance, check it out. You just may be pleasantly surprised. Reviewed by Cassandra G

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A modern girl’s guide to seducing Mr. Darcy When Ella Briley asked her lucky-in-love friends to set her up for an office party, she was expecting a blind date. Instead, she’s pulled through a magic mirror and into the past… straight into the arms of her very own Mr. Darcy. Patrick Meadowfair, earl of Fairhaven, is too noble for his own good. To save a female friend from what is sure to be a loveless marriage, he’s agreed to whisk her off to wed the man she truly wants. But all goes awry when Patrick mistakes Ella for the would-be bride and kidnaps her instead. Centuries away from everything she knows, Ella’s finally found a man who heats her blood and leaves her breathless. Too bad he’s such a perfect gentleman. Yet the reluctant rake may just find this modern girl far too tempting for even the noblest of men to resist… Review: Hilarious adventures! Witty, snarky, humorous dialogue. Gina Lamm’s 3rd book in her Geek Girl series, is non-stop adventure. While some of it was a little far-fetched, I believe the book to be a gem! Tricked into time travel again, Ella, gets mistakenly abducted by a rich, honorable Earl, Patrick. Once the mistake is discovered, they go in search of the original lady, Amelia, Patrick’s “fiancée”. The road to romance for these two is fraught with misunderstandings. I really enjoyed Ella’s take on using chamber pots and laughed out loud when Patrick realized that’s what she’d been doing. I loved the new take on time travel, although the ease of which they’ve learned to come and go was unusual. This was a fast-paced, entertaining little read! Reviewed by Nelle


Of Love and Vengeance Louise Lyndon Historical Heat Rating: 3

Forced to marry Lord Aymon to ensure her young nephew’s survival, English Lady Laila vows undying hatred for the Norman she holds responsible for the deaths of so many innocents. Discovering Aymon has committed an act of treason gives her the chance to seek vengeance he deserves. But can Laila let Aymon die at the hands of the king once she learns the truth? A hardened Norman warrior, Lord Aymon has lived through atrocities no man ever should. With the invasion of England over, all he wants is a quiet life and a wife who will give him heirs and obey his every command. Instead, he finds himself wed to feisty and outspoken Laila. But when she learns the truth of his treasonous act, can Aymon count on her to keep his secret? Review: Of Love and Vengeance by Louise Lyndon is a historical fiction romance novel taking place in England in the early 1700’s. The novel follows the developing relationship between Laila, an English woman, and the man she is forced to marry, Aymon the Norman. It is a time of great conflict between the two forces and their relationship is fraught with prejudice and bias. The two must work through their own preconceived notions if this marriage is to succeed. I found the story interesting but the romance slightly forced. It takes time to develop relationships and this novel didn’t give the characters the time necessary to develop such strong emotional ties after the horrors that had taken place. The writing though was engaging and easy to enjoy. I prefer more detail in my world development but the simplicity worked well with this novel. An extended, thorough storyline would have been very enjoyable Reviewed by Stacie Carrier

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teaming up to br

The Treasure Hunters

A Bit of Heaven on Earth Lauren Linwood

Beth D Carter

Historical Heat Rating: 3

Historical Heat Rating: 2

When the stock market crashes on October 29, 1929, it doesn’t take long for Ruby Talcott to lose everything. Her father’s shipping legacy slips through her fingers. Alone, destitute, she packs up her two best friends Eden and Merridie, and takes them to England for a new life. Working in her family’s warehouse of unclaimed cargo, she foils a plot to steal a map. But this isn’t just any map…it’s to a lost pirate treasure. Ruby takes the map for herself and convinces Eden and Merridie to go with her to find the priceless treasure. She finds Captain Sinclair Dardon, a man also hit hard by the economic turn, to sail them towards adventure. But Ruby didn’t count on her wild attraction to the handsome Captain. Nor did she expect he has his own bad guys hunting him. Review: This book is about a girl, Ruby, to lose everything after the stock market crashes. Like so many others, she sets off with her two best friends to a whole new world of opportunities. But oh to her merry delight, she comes upon a treasure map taking her to a lost pirate treasure. She convinces her two best friends to go with her to find the treasure. Her only problem? How is she going to get there? She hires the hunky Captain Sinclair Dardon, that’s how! There is love brewing on the ship between Ruby and the Captain. But how long until she finds out about his own demons chasing him? I have to say, I really enjoyed this book! I am a huge fan of adventure movies; my favorite being Goonies! That is exactly what this book reminded me of. Well, except the steamy romance between Ruby and Sinclair!

When Gavin of Ashgrove and his closest friend are captured in a fierce battle during the Hundred Years’ War, their captors demand a hefty ransom from their fathers for their return. Robert is quickly set free, but Gavin’s father refuses to pay for his son’s release, leaving him to rot in a squalid French prison. Aided by a sympathetic priest, he escapes and returns home to England, only to find he has been proclaimed a bastard and disinherited. With nowhere to turn Gavin journeys to Kentwood, where he fostered as a boy, hoping Lord Aldred will take him on as a knight in his guard. The old warrior is close to death, but he soon realizes Gavin is his son. Aldred plots to have Gavin inherit Kentwood and marry his much younger wife, Elizabeth, a famed and opinionated beauty who remains a virgin after a decade of marriage. Will the king recognize Lord Aldred’s first request of a marriage between Elizabeth and Robert, uniting Robert’s estate with Kentwood—or will the temperamental Edward reward Aldred’s years of service and honor a dying man’s final request? Review: Ms. Linwood succeeded in making history exciting! She put a lot of detail into the surroundings and the characters that made this a very enjoyable read. I really liked Elizabeth’s character. She is very strong minded and strong willed. Her thirst for knowledge comes in handy when she is married off to an over-aged man and a life without intimacy. Then there comes Gavin. He is her knight in shining armor that awakens a passion in her she didn’t know existed. Although, fate is not on her side. After her husband passes away, she is fated to another man. But love endures over all the hardships that these two had to face. This book is a very good love story. There is so much fantasy and wonder that goes into this genre and I am very happy to have been given the chance to read it.

Reviews by Melissa Baker of Buried Under Books

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ring you more reviews

Born in Vengeance

Healer’s Cursed Gift

Historical Heat Rating: 1

Historical Heat Rating: 2

Wanda A Wallace

Camelia Miron Skiba

Originally published as a short story titled I WAS HERE-BEFORE YOU CAME, this stand-alone version includes an expanded storyline and excerpts from BORN IN SIN (Dacian Legends, #2), all that you would expect from a full novel.

Though the town needs a doctor, Claire finds the sign he’s posted outside his surgery most disturbing. The doctor plans on treating anyone, including outlaws, and the border’s not far away. She fears more riffraff will darken her family’s general store and cause grief for the townsfolk.

Legend has it … centuries after Spartacus another hero is born—Ilias, the bastard son of King Decebalus. Thirsty for revenge and eager to unshackle the Roman oppression, Ilias’ obsession to fulfill his oath has no bounds, even if that means kidnapping Nerva, the beloved daughter of Emperor Traianus. What he doesn’t know is his own heart threatens to betray his conscience.

Preoccupied by her thoughts, she misses the rattlesnake that causes her horse to rear. Responding to gunshots, Doctor Healdeman attends to his reluctant patient. After, Healer extracts her commitment to secrecy when his special gift is revealed during treatment. Thus begins their relationship, full of tension and strange twists, unlocking an unbelievable future.

Review: I really enjoyed reading this book. It was written really well for being a novella. There was a lot of detail put into the surroundings and the characters and I felt like the action scenes were written really well. I enjoyed that this story came from the POV of Ilias. I find it wickedly hilarious that he kidnaps this female only to have it backfire on him! HA! That will show you!! I think Nerva is a very strong character. Even though she is kind of the damsel in distress but yet she has a heroin attitude. She is a feisty character and has no problem telling Ilias how she feels. I give this book a solid 4 stars. I would highly recommend this book and can’t wait to start reading book 2.

Review: When I first started reading this book, I could feel the tension between Claire and Doctor Healdeman. She worries about bandits and outlaws coming to town and he is ok with treating them! But from his perspective, they are people too. There is definitely a lot going on in this book. I really like Claire’s character and I feel like there is something coming all the time. That aspect made this book hard to put down once I started. There is a lot of yummy romance in this book. I have always been a romantic at heart and I always love a good romance. This book is pleasantly surprising and there are a lot of twists and turns. I am afraid if I reveal more I will give the whole book away. Needless to say, definitely a 4 star in my eyes.

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feature sneak peek

Amanda McIntyre

The Dark Seduction of Miss Jane

A scandalous betrayal sets Miss Jane Goodwin on an unexpected journey to London to pursue her dream of being the first female investigative journalist, but she soon finds herself in a hotbed of murder and controversy. Seduced by the passions of a mysterious lover and stalked by a madman, Jane falls prey to her desires as tensions mount, only to discover a deadly secret that threatens more than just her trust in men.

“Beg your pardon, Miss Goodwin. I’m going to have to take leave. I have a pressing engagement that I’m afraid I must attend to.” She eyed him sharply, making him feel as though she could see right through his façade. “I hope to see you soon, inspector. Thank you for your time, and best of luck in your investigation.” She stood and held out her hand with a friendly smile. While she was dismissing him, he felt strongly that she was not yet satisfied with the answers he’d given. Her hand was warm. He toyed with bringing it to his lips as he’d seen Kerchov do, but he feared that one taste of her skin would never be enough. He smiled at the firm resolve in her handshake. It would have been wise to let their conversation rest, but he was compelled to be clear on one final point. “Miss Goodwin, may I speak candidly?” She stopped to face him, folding her hands in front of her. “Of course.” Her attempt to show meekness amused him. The woman was a firestorm in lavender and lace. He bit back a smile, preparing to make his point. “Scotland Yard does not need an aspiring journalist poking around London looking for a story. Even if the journalist happens to be as lovely as you.” “Meaning…that I am a woman and therefore not capable of reporting on such a gruesome topic?” Her brow crooked in query. “Meaning, Miss Goodwin, I would prefer you leave the investigation to the proper authorities. With all due respect, it could be dangerous and unwise for anyone untrained to become involved. Whomever is the master of this heinous crime, it is obvious that he is dangerous. Do we have an understanding?” Her expression softened. At least, perhaps, he hadn’t offended her pride. “I understand perfectly, Inspector Mansfield. Though you can rest assured that I will not hesitate to be curious as to the progress of your investigation.”

Randolph smiled easily. “Understandable, and a mystery that I am anxious to resolve. However, I would advise that should you happen to obtain any information that may be helpful in this case—no matter how small—you’ll please bring them directly to my attention.” “Though you most likely won’t be at liberty to discuss it, correct?” she returned with a pleasant smile. “Or answer any questions?” “That depends entirely on the question, Miss Goodwin.” He found her bullheaded, American persistence oddly tantalizing. “Then you present me with a challenge, inspector.” She opened the door instead of waiting for him to do so. “What is that, exactly, Miss Goodwin?” He could have spent several more hours with her, engaging in this delightful verbal dance. It was like foreplay of the mind. “How, exactly, to go about getting what I want from you.” He stared after her, barely dodging the door slamming on his hand.

Amanda McIntyre’s passion is telling character-driven stories with a penchant for placing ordinary people placed in extraordinary situations. A bestselling author, her work is published internationally in print, E-book, and audio. She writes sizzling contemporary and erotic historical romance and believes no matter what, love will find a way.

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Young Adult | New Adult

YOUNG & NEW ADULT

BEYOND the fairy TALE

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trends

reading trends in young adult

Forever YOUNG Kellyann Zuzulo

Kids Get Carded to Get Books YA readers turn to libraries to get their fiction fix

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| Forever Young | The YA market may be churning out digital titles as fast as popcorn at a Hunger Games premiere, but print books are still on the menu. Increasingly, young adults are turning to libraries to borrow the books they want to read. In a report released by the Pew Research Center called “Younger Americans’ Library Habits and Expectations,” it was clear— despite recent lamentations that “kids don’t read anymore”—that young Americans actually read more books than the older generation. In the study, 75 percent of all Americans aged sixteen to twenty-nine reported that they have read a book in print in the last year, compared with 64 percent of geezers over thirty. Teens aged sixteen to seventeen seem to be spending the most time at libraries . . . and they’re not just slouching in stiff institutional couches, slogging through school book reports, or snogging in the stacks. They’re pulling books off shelves, whipping out their library cards, reading, and returning them on time. More than 85 percent of these young adults read a print book in the past year, making them significantly more likely to have done so than any other age group. While 65 percent of Americans aged sixteen to twenty-nine have a library card, they are also more likely to be gorging on books across platforms. According to earlier stats collected for this report, about 97 percent of younger Americans own a cell phone, and 65 percent own a smartphone; some 16 percent owned an e-reader, and 25 percent own a tablet computer. And that was way back in 2012. So you can imagine all the library selfies that have been taken since then. The report notes that, “Compared with older adults, Americans under age 30 are just as likely to have visited a library in the 102 | btsemag.com

past year (67% of those ages 16–29 say this, compared with 62% of adults ages 30 and older), but they are significantly more likely to have either used technology at libraries or accessed library websites and services remotely” And keep in mind that it’s not possible to play Call to Duty on the library desktop. So these kids are actually reading. And perhaps it’s appropriate that loyalty to libraries links young adults to this genre that was created just for them. A recent CNN report by Ashley Strickland detailed “A Brief History of Young Adult Literature,” showing how the birth of YA sprang nearly fully formed—or at least with all its pages—from the library system: The roots of young adult go back to when “teenagers” were given their own distinction as a social demographic: World War II. Seventeenth Summer, released by Maureen Daly in 1942, is considered to be the first book written and published explicitly for teenagers, according to [Michael] Cart, an author and the former


| Kellyann Zuzulo | president of the Young Adult Library Services Association. It was a novel largely for girls about first love. In its footsteps followed other romances, ands sport novels for boys. The term “young adult” was coined by the Young Adult Library Services Association during the 1960s to represent the 12–18 age range. Novels of the time, like S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, offered a mature contemporary realism directed at adolescents. The focus on

whether in paper, e-ink, or backlit fonts, as long as authors continue to write the books they love. You need only look at this previous YA column for a listing of all the latest in YA fiction. And the stories keep on coming. As the Pew report concludes: “The under-30 age group remains anchored in the digital age, but retains a strong relationship with print media and an affinity for libraries. Moreover, younger Americans have a broad understanding of what a library is and can be—a place for accessing printed books as well as digital resources, that remains at its core a physical space.” Read on.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST culture and serious themes in young adult paved the way for authors to write with more candor about teen issues in the 1970s, Cart said. Part of the beauty of the American library system is its interconnectedness to its readers. The library now allows digital downloads and provides the software and websites to support research into the titles that are hot now. According to the Pew report, “Almost one in five (18%) Americans ages 16–29 have used a mobile device to visit a public library’s website or access library resources in the past 12 months, compared with 12% of those aged 30 and older [bold in the original text].” Young adults will continue to read books,

Kellyann Zuzulo is an editor and author. Her novel, The Genie Ignites, was a finalist in the 2013 Abalone Awards, which recognizes “Outstanding Ethno-Cultural Romance.” Her latest release is Ever Afters, the fifth book in her 101 Nights series from Boroughs Publishing Group. 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. Visit her at http://kfzuzulo.com

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reviews young adult | new adult | childrens

Following Chelsea Shari Green

Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Walking in the footsteps of a dead girl isn’t easy... After her social life flatlines, seventeen-year-old Anna Richards wants nothing more than to lie low at her new school. But it seems Anna looks an awful lot like Chelsea, the sweet and popular girl who recently died, and Anna finds herself stepping into the void created by Chelsea’s absence. Anna is determined to make the awkward situation work in her favor, though, because Chelsea didn’t just leave a spot open with the in-crowd; she also left a gorgeous--and now available--boyfriend. But it turns out that following Chelsea might be a lot more complicated than Anna expected. 14+ due to adult situations Review: This was tender, filled with angst, pain, and eventually recovery. This is a beautiful novel tackling serious issues. The author did an incredible job showing how Anna navigated her way through them. We’re introduced to Anna her last year in school in serious trouble. It’s right after that Anna loses nearly everything: her best friend, boyfriend, childhood home, father, and soon she’s about to lose her identity. When Anna and her mother move for a fresh start, Anna finds herself following in the footsteps of a ghost. She doesn’t just bear an uncanny resemblance to Chelsea, she’s practically her twin and finds herself the object of much speculation. And Ryan, I could feel his pain, understand how he had to cope, make his grief real so he could move on. Ms. Green’s writing was beautiful. The ending was perfect, a conclusion with Doran that tied it all together nicely. Reviewed by Sasha Hibbs

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feature sneak peek

Jackson Dean Chase Drone

The neighborhood gets rougher, more ruined-looking with every step. This is where the Unassigned live—Drones like me, but runaways or those too crippled to work in the factories. They survive by killing, thieving, or worse.

What would you sacrifice to survive? Vikka Raymer is a fifteenyear-old Drone, a member of the worker caste destined to labor in the factories of the New World Plutonomy. When Vikka is forced to sell her organs to pay her family’s oxygen bill, she becomes trapped in a secret genetic modification program. The experiment transforms Vikka from a frail waif into a super-soldier. She escapes the program with the help of a mysterious, handsome stranger. Hunted by both the NWP and the Revolution that opposes them, Vikka must learn to harness her new power and decide whether to help her rescuer reform the NWP from within or join the Revolution to destroy it. Drone is the epic YA dystopian sci-fi adventure you’ve been waiting for!

Coming here is the most reckless thing I’ve ever done, but if my plan succeeds, I’ll have enough money to pay my family’s oxygen bill. As my anxiety grows, my pace quickens. This has to work. It just has to, otherwise I’ll be forced to do the one thing I hoped I’d never have to . . .

“N-nothing,” I stammer. His hook snags my jacket, pulling me close enough to see the veins in his eyes. “Nothing, huh? Then you won’t mind giving it to me and my friend . . .” The punk with the mohawk circles behind me. He has hungry eyes and a crutch slung over his shoulder like a club. I run, not caring that my jacket rips. Behind me, I can hear the punks gaining. If they catch me, I’m not just dead. I’m worse than dead . . .

Jackson Dean Chase is a Pacific Northwest Author and Poet. He writes thrilling tales that bring you “Bold Visions of Dark Places” (TM). His YA books include the dystopian “Beyond the Dome” series and the #1 international bestselling “Young Adult Horror” series.

A tall punk with a blue mohawk leans out the doorway of an abandoned building. He leers and whistles. I cross the street to avoid him and run into a bald guy with a prosthetic hook for a hand. “Hello, beauty!” he says with fake cheer. “Whatcha hiding under your jacket?”

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JacksonDeanChase.com


Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | Horrror

BEYOND the EXPECTED

MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

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trends

reading trends in mystery & more

Scrying EYE The

Kelly Hudson

Masters at Work The Earth rumbles and the skies quake as the almighty Eye opens, splitting our reality in two, so that it may gaze deep into the future, with a sideways glance at the past. Come into the parlor, be not afraid of the change in atmosphere, in the feeling of dread and horror that permeates the air. Time itself must be distorted for the Eye to do its work, and you are simply feeling its magickal effects. Sit, stare deep into the Scrying Eye, and let it show you the way . . .

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| The Scrying Eye |

Suspense/Mystery Finders Keepers by Stephen King (Scribner—available now) is another in King’s more recent excursions into realms filled more with mystery and suspense than horror. This novel deals with an unhinged fiction fan and the discovery of a lost manuscript that could change the literary world forever. Super-fan Morris Bellamy murders his literary idol because of a perceived breach of contract by the author. Morris steals money and a long-awaited final novel by the writer. Before caught and imprisoned for a completely different crime, Morris hides the manuscript, waiting for his freedom to finally get to the novel. In the meantime, the hiding place is uncovered by a boy named Pete Saubers. Pete has no idea what he’s in for when the deranged Morris is released from prison and comes seeking his manuscript. This is a continuation of characters and storylines from the previous Mr. Mercedes novel. Suspense, mystery, intrigue . . . it’s all here, as only the King can deliver! Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale (Mulholland Books—available now) features another rollicking story of Deadwood Dick, aka Nat Love, a famous AfricanAmerican cowboy. This adventure follows Love as he seeks to avenge the brutal attack on the love of his life. She is driven mad, and Nat heads south to find the culprits and make them pay. But the road of vengeance and freedom is not easily tread, and there is much violence and bloodshed. With this Western novel filled with suspense and a bit of old-fashioned detective work, Lansdale plunges us into the harsh world of Love with his usual wit, humor, and blood-stirring action. If you are fan of Westerns or a fan of good old-fashioned storytelling, then hop onto your stallion and giddy-up!

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| Kelly Hudson |

Horror! The Eye takes a look into the past to bring to light a hidden classic from the vaults. Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows (Avatar Press—available now) is a brilliant twist and chilling take on the Lovecraft mythos by a comic book legend. Two young and cocky FBI agents investigate a series of ritual murders that eventually leads them to the shadowy town of Innsmouth. They wade through occult rock bands, arcane images, glossolalia, and strange portents of horror and dread. When they finally crack the case, when they finally find the cult behind the ritual slayings and bizarre events, they find they have only scratched the surface of terror. What unfolds next must be read and seen to be believed. An undisputed classic of horror.

The Madness of Cthulhu, Vol. Two, edited by S.T. Joshi (Titan Books—available October 20, 2015) is the companion piece to the first volume of Madness and continues the Lovecraft theme for this Horror section. Featured are sixteen all-new tales, original to this edition, all tied into the Cthulhu mythos—doomed explorations, remote terror, cosmic horror, this one has it all. Authors include: Kevin J. Anderson, Alan Dean Foster, Erik Bear and Greg Bear, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jonathan Maberry, and

others. Follow this incredible lineup of amazing talent as they take you down roads to madness and beyond.

And with a shudder and a sigh, the Eye closes for another period of rest. But do not fear, for the Eye slumbers in the deep pockets of the cosmos, gathering energy to once again peer beyond the veil of our present reality and into our past and future. Your task is to go home and follow the advice of the Eye: delve into these stories both devious and scintillating, explore worlds of madness and despair, where Love and Will can bring heroes through bitter embattlement and the forces of darkness can be vanquished, if only for a short time. The Eye bids you goodnight and good luck in all you do. For soon, the Eye will open once more . . .

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

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reviews mystery | suspense | horror

A Dash of Desire

Short Tales of Horror Part II

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 4

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 2

Charity Parkerson

He wants to tame her… After losing his wife to her wild ways at a young age, Tristan moved on to follow a higher calling. He finds comfort in helping others and has no intention of inviting drama back into his life. That is, until temptation blows into town. She wants to corrupt him… Riley is a foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, and bitter soul. Down on her luck and on the run from another terrible decision, the last thing she needs is a soul-saving hottie pushing his way into her life. But will they end up destroying each other? Taming Riley becomes an obsession for Tristan. With his reputation on the line and Riley’s heart on the table, can Tristan find a way to keep both? It only takes a dash of desire to ignite a flame when this savior and sinner collide. But this is one inferno that could end up destroying them both. Review: What are two polar opposites to do when one helps the other in their time of need and they decide they actually like one another despite their first impressions? Riley and Tristan definitely fall into a unique category that’s kind of ripe for temptation. They were intriguing right from the beginning and there were quite a few humorous moments with…. Oh how shall one put it? Let’s just say a minor shouldn’t be in the vicinity, so they can learn a new language that’s definitely not age appropriate for their ears! You’ll like the suspense, the characters and the action. So if you get a chance pick up a copy. Reviewed by Cassandra G

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Regina Puckett

While Sheriff Wilson has no idea what really transpired the night twelve people were murdered in the old mental hospital during what was supposed to be a simple night of ghost hunting, he was at the scene moments after the lone survivor committed suicide. Now it’s a year later and a group of paranormal investigators want to set up a haunted house and invite the general public in that same abandoned mental hospital. How is he supposed to keep that many people safe from whoever or whatever killed the last group? Review: Short Tales of Horror 2 is just that, short horror stories. And these are definitely horror stories. Many times, when I read a book of short stories, there is one or 2 that I don’t care for. Not in this book. Each one was well written and creative. The subjects were interesting and generally psychologically scary. I’ve got a 9 month old baby, so Silent Baby Screams definitely hit home for me, and was honestly a little terrifying! I recommend this book to anyone looking for some good scary short stories that will leave you shaking your head in a good way. Reviewed by Melanie Bingle Marsh


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Flagitious

Midway

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 2

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 1

JoAnne Myers

Melanie Karsak

To Solve His Mother’s Murder After his career was interrupted by his mother’s untimely murder, Steven Moore returned home determined to find his mother’s killer, even at the cost of his own life. 3381 Market Street Katherine Sims, a young widow working for a brokerage firm in a small southeastern town, is tired of the excuses concerning her nephew, Charlie’s absence. After exposing the killer, Katherine’s life is turned upside down and she finds herself fighting for her life. The Other Couple’s Child Charlotte had it all. A husband, suportive family and friends, and a house full of beautiful children. Everything was perfect for this Super Mom, until a medical procedure turns her life upside down, and spirals into a child abduction case. The Tarot Card Murders New Detective, and exnavel man, twenty-six-year-old Nick Difozzio, returns to his small county determined to abolish crime. Not until death knocked on his door, did he know the face of evil.

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the beginning of the end. Carnie. Ride jockey. Roustabout. White trash. Tilt girl. Gypsy. Cricket has been called a lot of things, but she never thought survivor of the zombie apocalypse would be one of them. One day she’s barking on the midway, and the next day, the world is eating itself alive. Cricket, along with Vella, a tarot reader, and Puck, Cricket’s mangy mutt, find themselves running for their lives, but where can you hide when mankind has fallen? Cricket will need help if she hopes to survive. Luckily for her, we were never really alone, and apparently, magical forces want to keep this tilt girl alive. Join Cricket in this unique zombie apocalypse series. It’s all fun and games until someone ends up undead!

Review: They were very suspenseful stories that held your attention right from the beginning. You’ll definitely find a favorite among them and you’ll be intrigued by each character you meet and you’ll want to know more about them. Whether it’s Steven who is trying to solve his mother’s mysterious death or any of the other stories, you’ll enjoy each and every one and you’ll definitely find a favorite among them. They were short but very well written stories and they were very intriguing. So if you get a chance pick up a copy of this action packed mystery twisted thriller and enjoy.

Review: Midway is a short book that exists in Melanie Karsak’s world of The Harvesting series. It follows the story of carnies Cricket, Vella, and Cricket’s dog Puck in the newly zombiefied world. Cricket is a tilt girl, running the tilt-a-whirl, and Vella reads Tarot cards. I really enjoyed this glimpse inside their lives. The Harvesting series is on my TBR list and hope I get to it soon. I was worried that I wouldn’t know what was going on, but I never felt like I missed something and was completely comfortable in the details given. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good zombie story with interesting characters lol. Cricket is an interesting character and has a spunky personality. Vella seems more reserved. I am interested to see where the other characters in this story came from.

Reviewed by Cassandra G

Reviewed by Melanie Bingle Marsh

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reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Sin Factor

Women Under Fire

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 3

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 3

Sandy Loyd

In this intriguing mystery, Jeffrey Sinclair has a thief in his midst. One of his highly sensitive prototypes has gone missing, and he’s on a timeline to recover it to avoid bankruptcy. In his search he finds himself in the middle of a deadly game where trust is a luxury he can’t afford. The last person to have the devices has been killed and now his only link to the stolen property is the man’s widow. Avery Montgomery is a woman heroes marry and protect for life, and Sin’s never been the protecting, hero type—not like her dead husband. When her life is put in danger, Jeffrey strives to keep her safe, while following the twists and turns to uncover the truth before it’s too late. Unfortunately, time spent with Avery makes him yearn for the impossible…to be her hero. Review: This novel is a romance that develops within the background of a thriller/mystery story. There are attractive men galore (Sin, Jeremy Sinclair, becomes the love interest, although I expect there will be more stories to come involving his mates, Des and Eric) and an interesting intrigue where everybody is a suspect and everybody’s motives are questioned and questionable. There is a piece of specialized equipment they all want (a MacGuffin of sorts), and the involvement of the military and secret agencies add to the tension. All these elements work well, and the difficult pasts of the men and some secondary characters (like Andy, the son) keep it interesting. My only issue is that I prefer more substantial female protagonists. I found it difficult to identify with Avery, wife and mother, always being rescued by men and with seemingly no interests or independent personality. Otherwise, a solid novel. Reviewed by Olga Núñez Miret

Jackie Delecki

Life has heated up for Grayce Walters: thrust into the public eye and hounded by the media after solving an arson case with a critical clue from a French Poodle. When Ewan Davis, the sexy arson investigator Grayce has been steaming things up with, starts talking commitment, she definitely feels the burn. Then a desperate mother begs Grayce to help find her missing daughter—an Afghanistan war veteran suffering from PTSD, and Grayce reluctantly takes on the case, following a disturbing clue provided by the missing young woman’s cat. Calling once again on the aid of her cross-dressing best friend and her shrewd assistant, Grayce uncovers a terrorist plot with chilling international implications. Grayce races to rescue the young veteran before the escalating danger explodes. But if she manages to escape the threat, will she find the courage to commit to the fiery passion that awaits her wrapped in Davis’s arms? Review: Fast paced action right from the very beginning. You root for Angie despite the major hiccup that landed her way. You like Grayce, her tarot reading aunt, and her nephew. I didn’t care for the client’s son when Grayce went to help a client’s sick cat and the son, Hunter Hines was, let just say, they didn’t get along and he thinks she’s a bonafide fraud, until she proves him wrong. The villains were reprehensible, but quite believable and the story flowed at a nice pace. It would be nice if some of the secondary characters got a story of their own-Grayce’s Aunt Aideen or even James. Either way you’ll enjoy the story so if you get a chance pick up a copy. Reviewed by Cassandra G

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reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Centerfold

Private Dancer

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 3

Mystery/Suspense Heat Rating: 4

West Thornhill

Kris Norris

Lights. Camera…die. Detective Scarlet Reid has spent the past three months trying to make her alter ego, Ms. December, a ghost of Christmas past. Forced to become the sexy centerfold in a high-stakes undercover assignment, she’s spent more time pulling copies of her naked butt off the bulletin boards at the precinct than she has collaring criminals—and it’s far from over. A deadly agenda. A gruesome new case has revealed a disturbing trend—one that has placed Scarlet on a list of possible targets. With limited options, she’s going to have to resurrect Ms. December—and her old partnership—which means facing the one man who stole more than just a kiss. A love worth fighting for. Federal Agent Roman Kinkaid has some explaining to do. His final assignment with Scarlet changed him, and he’s been running from her ever since. But he’s ready to make things right—only he’s not alone. His partner and lover, Special Agent Aiden Cross, is just as invested and determined as Roman is to claim Scarlet as theirs. And they aren’t taking no for an answer, especially when their souls—and Scarlet’s life—are on the line. They have three weeks to catch the stalker before Scarlet’s time runs out and they lose their one chance at a happy ending. Review: This book was OK. It had some merit. It kept me guessing until the end and took enough time, for a shorter book, to make me feel like a part of these situations. But I wish they had used some of that time to let the feelings grow between the characters rather than an immediate love. The backstory between them wasn’t enough. I also got frustrated with the inconsistencies of Scarlet’s character. She was this strong character that always cried appeared weak without independence. My biggest struggle was the romance portion read a lot like a VERY dramatic soap opera and the scenes weren’t believable. Dramatic for the sake of drama. But there were steamy sex scenes and intense suspense with a surprising ending. Reviewed by Jena

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What happens when a stalker invades your life? Troy is about to find out. And it looks like he’s in for more than one surprise. Not long after graduating from high school, Troy Marlowe is finally able to escape from his overbearing mother and stepfamily. He moves to California and into the house he inherited from his grandmother who also left him enough money to attend the college of his choice. To keep from tapping into that money, Troy accepts a job as a stripper in a private, members-only club. Little does he know he has two admirers—one wants to keep him safe while the other is consumed by a sinister obsession. Deacon Landry served in the Army and started his own security business with his best friend Nelson Mathers. While running a background check for a former associate, Deacon is surprised to find himself falling for the young man in the photo. Now, he’s practically a stalker in his quest to keep Troy safe, but he needs to figure out how to insert himself into Troy’s life. What happens when a series of murders leads investigators to Troy and Deacon? Who needs to be kept safe, and from whom? Review: I was pulled into this book by the synopsis. I love a good mystery suspense. Throw in some hot M/M and I’m in. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this book. I gave it two stars because I did like the originality of the story and for it being so short it kept me guessing, for the most part, until the end. The suspense part of it was good, but fairly quick. What I didn’t love about this was the insane amount of characters. There were too many to follow in not enough time. I had a difficult time keeping up with who was who while reading. Also, every one of them fell in-love with each other. And within a five minute span of meeting. I think this book could have been better if the author had focused on the main characters, their love story and the mystery behind it all. Reviewed by Jena


feature sneak peek

Teri Riggs

The Eyes of Vengeance What happens in Vegas— Could be Murder… Someone is methodically killing past members of The Consortium, a defunct group of ruthless businessmen. They’d made their fortunes buying and selling prime Las Vegas real estate during the era that saw the beginnings of the mega casino and luxury hotels. Homicide Detective, Kennedy O’Brien and her temporary partner, Reno Homicide Detective Hunt, race to stop a killer who claims a new victim every fortyeight hours. The search for clues seems easy—too easy Kennedy suspects.

Kennedy stared at a painting of Elvis…the real Elvis, in all his glory, wearing one of his famous rhinestone jumpsuits. The King held a microphone still attached to the stand in one hand, and a scarf in the other. It was a painting of Elvis on a black velvet canvas, and God help her, there was an electrical cord hanging from the frame. “So…is this not the coolest gift you’ve ever received? I thought having the King hanging around—no pun intended—might cheer you up.” He took the monstrosity out of her hands, removed her six hundred dollar original print of the Grand Canyon from the wall, and hung the King in its place. Her mouth dropped open, and for the life of her, she couldn’t get it to close. Elvis plugged in the dangling cord and the rhinestones on the jumpsuit Elvis wore on the canvas lit up like brightest stars against the darkest desert nights. The flashing lights set against the black velvet background rivaled the neon signs and lights of the Vegas Strip. Elvis stepped back, his eyes full of admiration and pride. “I knew you’d be touched. This baby’s loaded with ninety-four LED lights capable of twinkling in double time or used as chasers.” She fought to keep a straight face. Elvis sighed deeply. “But…but…honestly? I can’t accept the gift. It belongs on your walls, twinkling in all its glory. I’d be selfish depriving you of the King.” He held up his hands, shook his over-hair-sprayed Elvis head of hair with a dramatic flair. “No. I insist. This will cheer you up.” “We’ll cross that bridge later. For now, thank you for the gift. It’s…ah…truly

unique. And big. And twinkly. I’ve never seen anything quite so—unique.” Hopefully, she’d never see anything like it again. “I’m glad I could share my pride and joy with you. This amazing piece of art is one of my most prized possessions.” Clearly, Elvis didn’t own much. “Well, again, thank you. I’m sure I’ll treasure the gift until the day I part with it.” Kennedy tipped her head to one side. Maybe at the right angle the painting wouldn’t look as hideous. Sadly, changing views didn’t help. Elvis took one more admiring look at his prized painting and moaned. “I need a moment please.” “Do I need to grab the tissues?”

As a child, Teri made up her own bedtime stories. When her children came along, Teri always tweaked the fairy tales she told her daughters, giving them a bit more punch and better endings when needed. Now she spends her days turning her ideas into books. She lives in Marietta, GA with her husband.

teri-riggs.com

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feature book showcase

Bill Bitetti The Hacker

Running from the nightmare of losing his wife to ovarian cancer, Donald Giovanni moves to a small town on the east coast of Florida and buys an old country store. Soon, he discovers that he’s fallen into a pit of vipers when he becomes embroiled in an FBI stock scam investigation involving a New York Mafia family and a dead computer hacker, whose body is found hanging from a tree in front of his father’s estate on ritzy Jupiter Island. Confused, frightened, and alone, Donald’s heart melts when he meets Penelope King, a pretty young Canadian woman. However, Penelope is grief-stricken by the belief that she has inherited Huntington’s Chorea, the same dreadful disease that struck down her sister in the prime life. She ignores his advances until the day fate forces her into his arms.

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The temperature was a balmy 77 degrees with an indigo blue sky. Glowing shafts of light had already begun to burn away the morning mist that had settled along the coast. Wearing Flip-flops and a dark-blue cotton sweat suit, Daniel Nass opened the front door of his three story ocean-front mansion on plush Jupiter Island and stepped over the threshold onto the covered portico. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he inhaled the cool, salty sea air while listening to the ocean waves pound out the earth’s heartbeat on the beach behind his house. He’d lived his entire life no more than a few miles from the ocean. He couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. His ex-wife, Clara, had phoned a little after dawn, awakening him from a deep sleep to fearfully inform him that their twenty-three year old son, Martin, had walked out in a huff two days earlier. She hadn’t seen or heard from him since. Martin had disappeared several times before, only to return home some days later with a sly grin on his face as if nothing had happened. However, Nass couldn’t ignore Carla’s urgent plea. He’s promised to do what he could to find him. He ran his hand over his balding head, then made a feeble attempt to straighten his aching back. But as soon as he stepped off the portico he was again hunched over. He shuffled down the long winding driveway toward the mailbox on the side of the road to retrieve the morning newspaper. After breakfast he intended to speak to Rick Kemp about his son’s disappearance. If Martin didn’t return home in the next few days, he would ask Kemp to find him. Kemp was a private investigator who worked for many of the high-powered attorneys in South Florida. Kemp was a legend on the Gold Coast. He wasn’t really concerned by Martin’s disappearance. He assumed that he was shacked up with some girl and would return home when he’d had enough. Standing six-foot-four and weighing two-twenty-five, he was sure Martin could take care of himself. However, he didn’t want his ex-wife to accuse him of being a neglectful father, as she had so many times in the past. Her dreadful nagging had a way of gnawing at his sensibilities. Every time one of their children had strayed from the straight and narrow Carla would blame him.


She was a master at the blame game. She had a knack for twisting the truth to make him feel like the burden of guilt for their divorce, as well as their children’s problems, lay squarely on his greedy shoulders. Although, her outrageous alimony demands clearly demonstrated her unbridled love of money. As he approached the road he stopped dead in his tracks and peered through the mist and trees at what appeared to be a partially clad young man standing next to a giant fichus some forty or fifty feet away. His eyes galvanized on the man’s head, which appeared to be cocked back in an unnatural position. He gasped when he realized it was a body hanging from a limb of the tree. Walking toward it in stunned disbelief, a wave of agony washed over him when he recognized that it was his son, Martin, hanging by a thick rope tied around his neck. His feet were a foot or so above the ground, and his shirtless, muscular torso appeared ghostly white. His jeans had fallen to rest below his waist, revealing a pair of red and white striped boxer shorts. Nass trembled as he stumbled toward his son’s body, crying out, “No … No.” He couldn’t believe his precious son had hung himself. Why had Martin done it? How could he possibly justify taking his own life? When he reached Martin’s body, a gut wrenching feeling hit him like an unexpected blow to the solar plexus. A hundred different thoughts jumped into his head, jumbled, painful thoughts that felt like knives piercing his heart. He could hear his wife’s castigating tongue accusing him, telling him that it was all his fault. He couldn’t help but ask himself if he was somehow to blame? His fatherly instinct urged him to lower his son’s body, and cradle it in his arms. He yearned to tell Martin how much he loved him. But it was too late. He knew the prudent thing to do would be to summon the police and have them thoroughly examine the body before it was moved. What if it wasn’t suicide? He was an attorney, judicious and analytical, trained not to jump to conclusions. He knew the police wouldn’t want him to contaminate the crime scene. Heartbroken, he stood breathless, staring up at his son’s body with a mournful expression on his face. The heartache was more than he could bear. He grabbed hold of a nearby tree trunk, broke down, and began to sob. It was a sorrowful wailing. Yet it had an edge. It was more like the cries of a vengeful man who wanted to lash out at the world for taking away his

beloved son. Whimpering like a wounded animal, he turned and ran back to the house to phone 911.

Bill Bitetti earned a Bachelor of Arts degree then traveled extensively throughout Europe as a model and actor. He has become a prosperous entrepreneur and lives with his wife, her two daughters, and their Great Dane in a dream house in a bucolic setting in Northern Florida.

Bill Bitetti.com

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Science Fiction | Fantasy | Paranormal | Urban Fantasy

SCI FI / FANTASY OUT of this WORLD

& PARANORMAL

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trends

reading trends in sci fi & fantasy

AliB

FORTY Spaceships and the

Alex Bardy

Make Mine an Eclectic Mix on the Rocks, Hold the Flour . . . “Bread is quite well known in Fantasyland, but you will seldom get much of it and it will never be fresh. You might be given some to sop up your STEW in an INN of an evening, but in the morning, just as that day’s baking should be ready, the Rules state that you will make a hurried departure, having time to grab only a piece of stale loaf and a hunk of cheese.” —The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones

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| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships| Bread-and-butter fiction is the term I often use to describe a lot of modern and contemporary titles, so it was rather gratifying to find the latest Charlaine Harris title fall into my lap recently. Day Shift (Gollancz, May 2015) is the second book in her Midnight, Texas sequence—Midnight being a small quiet town set in the same world/milieu as True Blood’s Bon Temps, the playground for Sookie Stackhouse, Eric Northman, and location of Merlotte’s Bar & Grill, etc. Alas, after the initial excitement and anticipation, my hopes were soon to be dashed: crushed and squished like a very small grape in very big hands. Day Shift felt like a book that was just trying to be a TV series and, frankly, read a bit like those three or four middling episodes you’ll find halfway through any Desperate Housewives or Mad Men season (both otherwise great TV series in their own right). As interesting as the characters and situations were (a psychic witnesses a client die in front of him during a séance and everything unravels from there), and much as I recognised some of the “fan service” in expanding on a few characters from the original series, I couldn’t help thinking it just smacked of laziness, I’m afraid. Yet I’m sure fans of the author will probably still love this, as well as those looking for an easy read, but personally I prefer to be challenged a tad more.

Sticking with vampirism for now but still ploughing some well-worn turf, I’d like to introduce you to one of the prettiest books I’ve seen in a while. Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story (Headline, 2012) is a graphic novel adaptation based on the original Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, but from the point of view of little Claudia, the child vampire created by Lestat to help tame the all-too sensitive Louis and, of course, destined to never grow up.

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This does stick by and large to the original, including some heart-rending scenes with Louis and Armand along the way, and it’s difficult to explain just how gorgeous it all is—’tis a true visual feast from debut artist Ashley Marie Witter, and all in sepia tones with the odd splash of red for those more gruesome, bloodier moments. An indelibly beautiful adaptation and highly recommended.

Ghosts of War (Titan Books, March 2015) by George Mann is a long way from both the above, set in a steampunk-styled 1920s New York against a 40s-style pulp noir tapestry. It’s the second in a series (Ghosts of Manhattan being the first), but you don’t need to have read that to enjoy this fun, schlocky romp. In an alternative 1927, the United States and Great Britain are at loggerheads, and flying mechanical-winged creatures are swooping ordinary US citizens away for dastardly experimentation. Behind it all, we have a mad scientist hell-bent on starting a war, and our rocket-booted hero Gabriel Cross (aka The Ghost) uncovering one conspiracy after the next in his effort to thwart the damned cad! All wonderful stuff, and it has flying dirigibles (zeppelins) in it too. What more could you ask? A fabulously fun read.


| Alex Bardy |

V. E. Schwab’s newest fantasy, A Darker Shade of Magic (Titan Books, 2015), also has an alternative setting, but this time it’s London, but not the London you may be familiar with. There’s Red London from whence our main protagonist, Kell, hails, and magic is revered and respected; Grey London, ruled by a mad king and a place magic shouldn’t exist; White London, where magic abounds but fights back for balance; and finally Black London, a place most people prefer not to believe ever existed. All of these Londons share the same physical space, separated by magic portals littered throughout the magical city, and if that doesn’t whet your appetite, Victoria’s writing is swift and easy, making it a fast, speedy read. An excellent, imaginative piece of work, and, O Man, what an incredible coat of many colours Kell has . . . jealousy notwithstanding. No room for more, so here are some other titles worth seeking out: Half a War (HarperVoyager, July 2015) by Joe Abercrombie—Book 3 of the Shattered Sea trilogy; Operation Arcana (Baen Books, March 2015), an anthology of military fantasy tales edited by the Hugo Award-winning John Joseph Adams; and Déjà Vu (Unsung Stories, 2014), a mindmangling future thriller from Ian Hocking featuring the quintessential debut of Saskia Brandt, detective adventurer. Toodles for now, but do keep that reading light shining bright, beloved peeps!

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.

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reviews

science fiction | fantasy | paranormal Time Shifters Myra Nour

Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

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Briana has heard his voice for years in dreams. Calling to her. She hears that same voice in the handsome stranger she meets on vacation. Captivating and so familiar. When he unexpectedly transforms into a werewolf, Briana flees in horror. She knows him … he is the wolfman who haunts her dreams. More than anything else, it is her lustful response to the beast that terrifies her. When Raynor finally meets his mate, he is confused by her reaction and even more so by her response when he shifts. She doesn’t recognize him. In an attempt to escape, Briana jumps through the time portal of his people, landing her in Medieval England. Raynor must rescue her, which requires bonding with Briana as her mate. But first he must teach Briana that she is a shifter, then convince her not to be repelled by her other self, an ancient, powerful shifter. A snakewoman. Review: I was pulled into the story from the beginning of page 1. Briana doesn’t realize who Raynor is. She knows the voice but is scared to death when he shifts to a werewolf. Why would he does this in front of her? Raynor doesn’t understand why Briana would run off scared from him. She doesn’t remember? When she goes to another time he has to save her and show her what she really is. But can she handle the truth? The love between these two is remarkable and hot. They get though some rough spots and Briana accepts what she is. Together they are a great team and can do anything. The author does a great job with the characters and time travel was outstanding. You can picture yourself in the story right along with Briana and Raynor. You want to see where the story goes and how things will be handled. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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A Succubus Guide to Gold Digging Barbara Monajem Paranormal Humor Heat Rating: 2

All Madison ever wanted was to fall in love. For a Succubus coming from a long line of gold diggers, this makes her the black sheep of this strictly matriarchal family line. But with the mystery surrounding her mother’s unfortunate death after vaginal reconstructive surgery and Madison’s discovery that she’s been cut from the will, she decides to take up the family trade in order to hire a detective. Review: This is a fun and fast read, where the paranormal is the norm, and everybody seems to have a bit of something “extra” to keep the readers on their toes. It’s a tale from riches to rags and back again, where the main character is a Succubus from a long-line of Gold Diggers who believes in love. Like the prodigal whore with the heart of gold, she might be spoilt but she wants to do the right thing and her troubles are very recognizable. Fast paced, full of action and wonderful insights/lessons, with a handsome and intriguing love interest (Luca), a huge puppy, and despicable baddies, you can’t help but root for the good guys. Although descriptions are kept to a minimal and the ending could be explained in more detail, it’s an easy, unassuming read with no explicit sex scenes. Reviewed by Olga Núñez Miret

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reviews

science fiction | fantasy | paranormal

Cameron’s Law Mia Darien

Paranormal Suspense Heat Rating: 1

Vampires are people too... That’s what Sadie Stanton has been trying to get people to understand, and what the business she’s setting up in the paranormal hotspot of Adelheid, Connecticut, is aiming to do. Cameron’s Law has made all supernatural creatures legal citizens, and the boy next door has suddenly become the werewolf next door. Not everyone likes that. Now vampires have started attacking werewolves without provocation, and as if her fledgling business and preternatural rights poster girl status isn’t keeping her busy enough, people are looking to Sadie to help keep these events from giving their enemies the ammunition to repeal the law and push them back in the shadows. But her notoriety comes with an even higher cost. Can she find a way to keep the city’s two biggest paranormal populations from descending into chaos and war, while her very help shoves her into the crossfire? Review: This is a good mystery/paranormal book. The main character, Sadie is a vampire who lives in a world where vampires have recently gained citizenship. Not everyone is as accepting of these changes and tensions rise when vampires start attacking werewolves unprovoked. Sadie must discover who and/or what is causing these attacks before human society begins to believe they are the monsters someone is trying to make them out to be. Sadie is a fun character with a good sense of humor and obviously cares about others. She’s easy to like. The story was interesting, fast paced, and well written. There are references made to Sadie’s ex, Cameron, who is behind the laws granting them citizenship, but we are not told everything, so I did feel I missed something at times. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Reviewed by Melanie Bingle Marsh

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Taste

Samara King Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

A recluse vampire hotelier meets his match with a sexy reporter. Reporter Ashlyn Douglas always gets what she wants. Her target—an interview with the elusive Rayven brother Cyrus, and to get the goods on the notoriously eroticthemed hotel that only a chosen few are able to visit. Ashlyn won’t admit to anyone the instant connection she feels towards Cyrus during her research on him and his twin brother, Coye. She has no intention of starting an affair. She plans to stick to the business at hand and get the truth behind the history of Rayven clan. But is Ashlyn ready for what Cyrus requests of her in return? Cyrus Rayven isn’t a man of many words. His need for communication with the outside world left him the moment his mate, Jordana, died years ago. Though he has his choice of lovers, no woman has moved him since. That is until Ashley’s shapely curves and wicked tongue make everything within his cold vampire heart run scalding hot. He’ll grant the exclusive interview she seeks, but not before she spends five nights in his bed. Will Cyrus accept the newfound love between them? Review: Whoa baby, if you are looking for a steamy book, look no further! Almost from the beginning Taste: Scarlet Ties has the excitement you’re looking for. It has the grieving vampire who has lost his love way too long ago meeting the secretly sexy news reporter scenario down perfectly. Neither is really looking for someone, yet here they are. When Ashlyn Douglas goes to a notoriously exclusive erotic-themed hotel, she’s hoping to score the interview of a lifetime with the mysterious Rayven brother and owner, Cyrus. The chemistry between them is unmistakable from the beginning and Ashlyn gets more than she bargained for. The story aside from the sex holds its own, though I think I would have liked it to be a bit longer. There are plenty of unanswered questions that I would love to find out about in subsequent books. Reviewed by Melanie Bingle Marsh

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reviews

science fiction | fantasy | paranormal

Tears of Heaven

Immortal Kiss

Urban Fantasy Heat Rating: 2

Vampire Romance Heat Rating: 4

RA McCandless

In the past, the children of angels and humans, the Nephilim, were allowed to lead their lives as they willed. But they proved too strong, too ambitious, and too cunning for their own good. They became warlords, conquerors and emperors. They caused war and strife until the Throne stepped in and forced them to submit to Its will, or die. Unlike most of her fellows, Del, one of the first Nephilim, had no interest in conquest and domination. In the ancient past, prior to the Throne’s interdiction, she met and fell in love with Dami, a Mediterranean ship captain and trader. Together, they face down pirates and storms and try to create a future together. In the present, Del unwillingly works for the Throne, obeying the commands of the angel Ahadiel. She helps to keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons. At the same time, she keeps herself in the Throne’s good graces. Whenever a rogue demon breaks free from Hell, she and her partner, Marrin, another Nephilim, work together to banish it. Review: Tears of Heaven is a paranormal fiction novel about Del, a Nephilim born from a mortal mother and an angelic father. She curses him every day for the burden she put on him. She is a servant of the Throne, an assassin forced to eradicate the Earth of the rogues that unleash chaos within the realm. McCandless produced a high paced, original narrative with the story of Del. The mystery of the Throne, its hold over the Nephilim and the hunting of the rogues kept the plot moving and interesting. The switch in narrative from the past to the present was well executed and brought better understanding of the main character. I would have liked to have seen more world building and more explanation behind the history of the Throne and the creation of the rogues. All in all this story was enjoyable and one I could recommend. Reviewed by Stacie Carrier

Laura Daleo

Centuries ago ten powerful vampire gods first walked the earth; their blood thirst knew no boundaries. The destruction of mankind was inevitable. Recognizing their weakness, they selected twelve wise human beings to transform with their godly blood. These twelve, known as The Old Ones and The Council, govern The Ten. A blood lottery appeasing The Ten’s hunger was set forth into the human world and passed down every fifth generation, continuing into the present day. All of Beth Ryan’s life a mysterious mist watched over her, a mist she believed to be a vampire. On a cold winter night, she comes face to face with Philippe Delon, a 700 year old vampire with a human soul. Beth is certain Philippe is the vampire behind the mist. She is drawn to him, accepting his immortality without question or fear. Beth and Philippe cannot deny their love for each other, nor do they try to fight it. Within days of their encounter, Beth accepts Philippe’s invitation to move into his mansion. The mansion unlocks the door to the vampire world and exposes secrets from Beth’s past. Within its walls, she learns the true identity of the mist, her link to the blood lottery, and betrayal of her loved ones. Surrounded by lies, Beth stands before The Council begging for resolution. Review: It took more effort than expected to get into this book. It was a good read, don’t get me wrong, but it was missing something for me. The storyline is intriguing and there is a definite love triangle, or maybe love square? Daleo has a cool idea behind her vampires as far as their origins and “blood lottery.” I can see why this book has so many favorable reviews, even though I, myself, didn’t fall in love with it. The main character, Beth, felt weak, but not helpless. She’s definitely got some conflicting emotions going on. Caleb was my favorite character in this book, and I think it has to do with his more ruthless attitude. This isn’t a bad book if you like a longer, more drawn out story. Reviewed by Melanie Bingle Marsh

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Divinity in Chains Danielle Devon

Fantasy Romance Heat Rating: 3

In the beginning there is always darkness… Aramon’s blood runs hot for the ravishingly beautiful Eliyn, the mysterious young woman who seemed to appear like magic out of the woods, lost and alone. But as Garde Lumia of the kingdom of Kinra, he is bound by duty to his country and the divine family he has sworn to protect. Aramon must marry according to his high station, the laws of the kingdom have no care for the desires of his heart. Eliyn lost the only family she has ever known to the barbaric Viscans, and is grateful to the royal family for taking in. She knows Aramon would willingly defy his king to bond with her if she would only say the word, but she is mindful of her low-born status. All she can ever have of him are nights of forbidden passion. Then a dark ship appears on the horizon, a ship bearing Araqael, the Night Lord cast from the heavens by the goddess herself. The centerpiece of his plot for revenge is his intended bride—Eliyn. The world would be hers to command if only she would take her place at his side. She must choose between the demon who could offer her everything and the man who could offer her nothing but his heart. But Divinity has other plans… Review: Divinity in Chains was unsettling for me. The prose is quite descriptive and the characters had a strong background. Normally those two elements draw me into a book, here, they turned me away. The prose goes into detail in almost every sentence. The characters were derived from the author’s fable of good and evil. A fallen angel’s revenge on the Goddess that rejected his advances, taking a young woman who was born divine. She has fallen for a proud man in service, and well, I don’t really need to go much further. And that is why I think I found this book so difficult to get engrossed in. For those that enjoy lot of description and the fight of good versus evil, give it a try. For shades of grey and characters that do not accept Fate without a fight, maybe look elsewhere. Reviewed by Karen Fainges

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The Lightning Prophecy

The Lightning Witch Prophecy #1

Emily Cyr

Paranormal Romance

Delaney Hagen’s power to control lightning is unique, even among witches. That uniqueness has caused her to run and hide from her kind - and the other supernatural beings in the world. Finally, after years of running, she feels safe enough to settle down. But her life’s calm is completely destroyed when her best friend is murdered. Delaney teams up with the mysterious and sexy Reid Jamison to figure out just what is going down in her world. Delaney will have to make a choice between her life and love. Will she be the product of a prophecy or will her fate be changed? Reid Jamison knew this case wouldn’t be easy. But, with the money the Coven was throwing at him, how could he say no? When he met Delaney, his whole world began to unravel. Faced with a prophecy, murders, love and betrayal, will Reid be able to hang on to this new world, or will it slip away?

Review: This is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. The characters, the storyline, the creativity, all of it. This book is the total package in my opinion. The characters are likeable and have realistic senses of humor. Delaney cracked me up and Troy, oh my god Troy was hilarious. Delaney is a witch. Reed is a werewolf. The sexual tension between the two, well, let’s just say there’s more than one reason this is called The Lightning Prophecy! The sex in this book is fairly graphic and super steamy. Emily Cyr really does something special with her version of witch and werewolf origins. I’ve never read anything like it. This trilogy is definitely something worth reading.

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Giving up the Ghost (13 Shades of Red #1)

S.A. Price Paranormal

Rhys Bellamy is the front man for the wildly successful 13 Shades of Red, a band hailing from New Orleans that is just a bit more then they appear. He’s sexy, caustic and on a path of self destruction that has everything to do with the fact that he can speak to the dead. A man hounded by the death of his fiancée, Rhys is a lothario of the highest caliber. His life, his band, and his agony celebrates his lost love, Phaedra, and it has made him a very popular man with the ladies, even if they will never mean anything to him. Too bad Phaedra has never and will never contact him. Review: Giving Up the Ghost has so many great elements. It has rock stars, music, sexual tension, demons, ghosts, love, sex, and secrets. The story itself takes precedence over the sex, which is something I prefer. While the sex scenes are as steamy as you can get and well written, if the author had left the sex scenes out or just implied the sex, it would not have taken away from the story. The writing is of good quality and the story flows nicely. I honestly couldn’t put it down once I got into it. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. If the rest of the books are anything like Giving Up the Ghost, S.A. Price has gained a fan for life. I would recommend this book who likes books about rock stars and romance, with a medium amount of paranormal action.


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Hot Head

One Tiny Secret

Erotica

Thriller

Damon Suede

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire... Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish. Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do... until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there-together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?

Review: This is one of the few M/M Erotica books I’ve ever read. Though, I have a hard time really classifying it as erotica, as this book is more about love than sex. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started it. It came highly recommended by friends and I’ve met the author several times. It’s not my normal genre by far. I am very glad I took a chance with this book. It was really an amazing story of two firefighters who are best friends. Circumstances give them an opportunity they both thought impossible. I thought the story would be totally about sex and while there is very graphic sex, this book is about so much more than that. There is so much emotion, and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever read about a love so pure. Amazing read.

T.A. Kunz

Just one tiny secret has the potential to ruin everything. Being the daughter of the sheriff in a small town like Holden Ridge means that eighteen-yearold Danielle “Dani” Marks’ life is under constant surveillance. She’s made a habit of staying under the radar by being a floater among social circles at school, which has kept her out of trouble—until now. After a missing persons case stirs up the entire town, Dani finds herself caught right in the middle of the scandal. When an elusive unknown person begins to blackmail Dani by threatening to reveal her deepest secrets, Dani refuses to play along. That is, until the person’s actions take a violent turn. Holden Ridge begins to lose its sense of quaint town security, and Dani is caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Who can she trust when anyone around her could be a suspect? One thing’s for certain though: Never underestimate the power of one tiny secret

Review: One Tiny Secret kept me guessing until the very end. This book was fast paced and had enough plot twists to always be one step ahead of what I thought was going to happen. As I was reading, I kept picturing this book as a movie, and I honestly think it would make an amazing horror/thriller type of movie. It was action packed and had characters with whom the readers can relate to on a personal level. I enjoyed every minute and my only complaint was that it was over far too soon for me. One Tiny Secret is T.A. Kunz first book as a solo author and if this book is any indication of what we have to look forward to from this author, we, as readers, have a lot to look forward to!

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Dead Trees Eli Constant

SciFi/Dystopian

Limerence

(The Obsession Series Book 1)

Claire C. Riley Paranormal

Humanoids have risen from the belly of the planet to wreak havoc on humanity. They hunt in darkness, dragging bodies into tunnels teeming

with primitive life. Elise is a widowed mother desperately trying to keep her daughters alive, but bloody fights define survival road. Even when Elise finds Jason- a strong, capable man- she feels no safer, no more confident that her babies will see a tomorrow. Barely staying alive becomes the norm. Against all odds, Elise and her group reach a government safe zone. Yet there is no rest for the weary. Doctors O’Toole and Peters have been studying the beasties, trying to find an answer; but the doctors aren’t really interested in saving humanity. So Elise assists them while working secretly with Nick and Jamie. The trio’s knowledge may be the key to restoring Earth as it was… Before the undergrounders came out to play on the

Review: Dead Trees is so different from what I’m used to reading that it completely caught me off guard and turned my brain upside down. It’s a dystopian story, but no zombies here. Instead, we have what are called “Beasties.” It’s disturbing in its plausibility. A mother alone with two children trying to survive the apocalypse scares me. Eli Constant showed me exactly what I was afraid of. I loved every minute. Your heart goes out to this family and you want things to work for them so badly that you hurt for them at every turn. There is more science in this book than I’m used to and for the first time, I found myself actually reading and understanding it instead of just skimming those parts. Any author that can have that effect on me is worth a read in my book!

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One man’s obsession will destroy her world. After a chance encounter with Mr Breckt- the mysterious new owner of The Island, Mia’s thoughts are constantly consumed with the handsome and powerful stranger. But there is much more to her fixation of him than she realizes. Mr Breckt is a hundred year old vampire, and he isn’t used to being told no. He could take her at any time, but his ego insists that she wants him of her own freewill. With his obsession spiraling out of control, he finds her body, her mind, and most importantly her blood continuously calling to him, and the more she fights him, the more he wants her. Mia finds herself at the center of a struggle she doesn’t understand. Caught between life and death, hope and fear, love and lust. Ultimately, she will have to make a sacrifice that will affect everyone. But no matter what choices are made, Mia could still lose. Review: Limerence took me by complete surprise. It’s a wonderfully different kind of vampire story that really gives the reader a new perspective on the way vampires work. Creative and well written, this is absolutely a great book. There is romance and angst and the author does a great job of “painting” the picture for the reader so they can see the story around them. The female main character is likeable and the male main character is really worth hating. There are no wishy-washy feelings, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. This isn’t your typical sparkly vampire story and takes the monsters back to the dark where we first knew them to be. Great book!


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Vamped

Drone

YA/Paranormal

YA/Dystopian

Lucienne Diver

Gina Covello’s Perks and Pitfalls of Vamp Life 1. Hello?! Eternal youth and beauty! 2. Free. Designer. Clothes. 3. My hot new boyfriend Bobby went from chess dud to vamp stud. 4. No reflection! First order of business: turn my own stylist to stop the downward spiral from chic to eek. 5. Vampire vixen Mellisande has taken an interest in my boyfriend, and is now transforming the entire high school into her own personal vampire army. If anyone’s going to start their own undead entourage it should be me. I guess I’ll just have to save everyone from fashion disasters and other fates worse than death.

Review: This is a really cute YA high school vampire story. Gina is your stereotypical pretty girl who suddenly comes down with a case of vampirism after a secret make out session with the suddenly hot Bobby and a prom night accident. You can see the growth of her as a person when she can no longer see her own reflection and is forced to defend herself and former classmates from a fate worse than (un)death. This is a clever and funny story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s fast paced and has enough action to keep it from being sappy. If you like a story that centers around a girl coming to terms with herself and the changing world around her, mild love, and action, this is definitely worth checking out.

Jackson Dean Chase

What would you sacrifice to survive? Vikka Raymer is a fifteen-yearold Drone, a member of the worker caste destined to labor in the factories of the New World Plutonomy. When Vikka is forced to sell her organs to pay her family’s oxygen bill, she becomes trapped in a secret genetic modification program. The experiment transforms Vikka from a frail waif into a super-soldier. She escapes the program with the help of a mysterious, handsome stranger. Hunted by both the NWP and the Revolution that opposes them, Vikka must learn to harness her new power and decide whether to help her rescuer reform the NWP from within or join the Revolution to destroy it. Drone is the epic YA dystopian sci-fi adventure you’ve been waiting for!

Review: I don’t normally read any dystopian that doesn’t include zombies or something similar, but I made an exception for this book because I enjoyed this authors other books immensely. This is a book that I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down! It’s fast paced and exciting. There is action and adventure, mild teen romance and tons of explosions. It takes place in a futuristic world where people pay for oxygen just to live, and everyone other than the super rich is a “drone,” working in factories just to make enough money to BREATHE! This is a terrifying idea of what our future could be. The twist at the end was insane! I highly recommend it to anyone who is even mildly interested in a futuristic Teen Dystopian Thriller.

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After the Storm M. Stratton Thriller

Undeniable

(The Serendipity Duet #1)

Tawdra Kandle Paranormal

Alexia “Lexi” Hanson moved across country and rebuilt her life after the attack that could have destroyed her. She enjoys her simple life in the beach cottage. Life was complete in her eyes. Noah Matthews is Rock & Roll’s hottest star and on top of the world. After years without a break he finds the solitude he craves at his beach house. Enjoying his early morning coffee Noah was surprised to watch his neighbor sneak into his garden and start crawling around. They never saw what was coming that fateful morning. Someone else was watching them. Someone who thought she belonged to him and would stop at nothing to have her. Lives are changed forever when they meet amongst the blooms in his garden. Even when things seem darkest, there is always light After the Storm.

Review: After the Storm has a lot to offer its reader. It’s multifaceted in the sense that there is love, humor, action, creepiness, and thrilling moments where you have no idea which way things are about to go. I knew something was up, but I really didn’t expect what actually happened in the end! Stratton really keeps the readers on their toes with her storytelling and boy can she write a bad guy! I look forward to reading the rest of this series. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good thriller. The romance isn’t sappy and overbearing. You can see the characters developing friendship with the hopes of something more, but are never guaranteed things would work out.

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For Rafe Brooks, running from a broken heart means losing himself in alcohol and women. Lots of women, none of whom will remember him, since he has the ability to manipulate their minds and make them forget. Numbing the pain works until he meets an irresistible redhead with secrets of her own. She offers him the opportunity to join forces with an organization that will use his powers for good rather than his own amusement. Jocelyn rocks his world with her unapologetic passion and makes him believe for the first time he just might survive heartbreak. For Rafe and Jocelyn, when life is uncertain, love is undeniable.

Review: Undeniable was an enjoyable read for me. It is a spin off from Tawdra Kandle’s The King Series. I did not read The King Series first and feel there are enough details given from the series to ensure that the reader doesn’t feel lost by starting with Undeniable. Reading The King Series would give more insight as to why Rafe is the way he is, but you should be fine if you didn’t read it. I loved the dynamic between Rafe and Joss. There is intensity between them that just can’t be denied. The romance is steamy and sexy without being overbearing or too graphic for those who don’t enjoy that sort of thing Great story overall, and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an intense story with mild paranormal elements. The paranormal elements aren’t typical; these are more mental abilities which isn’t as mainstream.


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Milly Taiden

Tall, Dark and Panther Paranormal Dating Agency Book 5 Maya Zara is a curvy woman sick and tired of men who think she should settle. She loves her curves and wants to find someone who will love them too. When she meets Gerri Wilder and signs up for a date with a shifter, Maya has no idea what’s in store for her. Noah Wright has had the hots for his curvy neighbor for months. Too bad she’s got a boyfriend. When he allows Gerri to set him up on a date, he never expected for her to get him the woman he and his panther have lusted after.

“Okay, you asked for it. Let’s see. A stalking ex and a crazy family My co-worker, Erica, tells me she make Maya’s life a living hell. Both will has a friend I need to meet who’s in try to tear them apart. She’ll have to town for just one night. Hank . Sounds figure out what she wants with Noah easy enough.” She headed out of the before losing a chance at love with the elevator next to Gerri. Why was she lonely panther telling her about her horrible date? Who knows? Maybe because she needed to share it with someone to believe it really happened. “We agreed to meet at this coffee shop, because I’m kind of paranoid about dating since my last boyfriend. He doesn’t seem to get the picture that we’re done.” The doorman met her by the security desk and handed her the cell phone. She thanked him and strolled to one of the seating areas. There were tables and chairs, and she headed straight for one with Gerri by her side. “Go on.” “I get to the place ; the guy isn’t there. No big deal. He’s lost so I give him directions. I sit there waiting, and when he finally shows up, I know it’s him because Erica had described him to me. What she didn’t tell me was that he was short.” “Is that a problem?” Gerri frowned. “Oh, not really. I’m five-two, so I’m already short. Except, Hank is not short. Not really. He’s a little person.”

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Gerri’s eyes widened. “So he is more than just short.” She nodded. “I’m open-minded, really. I mean, I was willing to give him a chance. His being short isn’t a big deal, but when coupled with what came next, I was sitting there horrified. The entire time, he is talking about how big his penis is, and how he has a prince albert and I need to see it. Do you know what a prince albert is? A penis piercing!” “Oh, my.” “Wait. There’s more. When I’m getting ready to leave, he slaps my ass and asks when he can get the chance to ‘hit that.’”

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Milly Taiden (AKA April Angel) loves to write sexy stories. Milly lives in New York City with her hubby, the boy child and their little dog “Needy Speedy”. Don’t ask. She’s aware she’s bossy, is addicted to shoe shopping, chocolate (but who isn’t, right?) and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

MillyTaiden.com


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sneak peek

Emily Cyr

The Lightning Prophecy Delaney Hagen’s power to control lightning is unique, even among witches. That uniqueness has caused her to run and hide from her kind. Finally, after years of running, she feels safe enough to settle down. But her life’s calm is destroyed when her best friend is murdered. Delaney teams up with the mysterious and sexy Reid Jamison to figure out what is going down in her world. Delaney will have to make a choice between her life and love. Will she be the product of a prophecy or will her fate be changed?

they would do if they found out about me. Between shaking lips I said, “Get the fuck away from me or this ball of lightning is going to turn you into beef jerky!” He raised an eyebrow at me and flicked his glance at my hand and took two small steps back. He put his hands on his hips and peered down at me. “Now, Ms. Delaney, the question is, what are you?”

Reid Jamison knew this case wouldn’t be easy. But, with the money the Coven was throwing at him, he couldn’t say no. When he met Delaney Hagen, his whole world began to unravel. Faced with a prophecy, murders, love and betrayal, will Reid be able to hang on to this new world? Or will it slip away?

“I, my dear, am a shape shifter, as we like to be called, but think of me as a werewolf. And the Coven hired myself and my partner to handle this matter as discreetly as possible.” He didn’t back away. He just sat there, staring at me. He seemed to be waiting on something, a reaction of some kind. A shape shifter or werewolf. I was officially living in Twilight . Oh my God, this guy looked serious. I laughed in his face. I mean, what else could I do? “Are you done yet?” he said, looking mighty annoyed. “Yes, I think so. But really, what are you?” I asked, half snickering. He leaned even closer and his eyes went green. Those beautiful caramel- colored eyes freakin’ turned green, as in traffic light green. I abruptly stood, knocking the chair over behind me and scrambling over it. My foot caught on the leg of the chair and I went down, but I would not be a victim to this, this thing . On hands and knees I scrambled over to the pantry door, but before I could stand up I saw him move. He calmly walked over to me, moving the chair out of the way, and offered me a hand. Yeah, right. Was he nuts? I called the lightning to my hand and raised it to him in threat. I was going to barbeque his ass. Brick house or not, his ass was grass. I didn’t stop to even think about the Coven or what

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Emily Cyr is a stayat- home mom turned writer. She holds a degree in middle grades education. She resides in Florida with her incredibly supportive husband and 2 young sons. Despite the demands of her family, she still finds time to write about her fantasies.

emilycyr.com


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Eli Constant Dead Trees

Subterranean humanoids, existing since the dawn of man, arose from the belly of the planet. Humanity was unprepared. The undergrounders came with nails and claws and speed to kill people in the night, dragging bodies downward into dark tunnels teeming with rabid life. Civilization is now a ghost of yesterday and the remaining humans fight for survival. One thing’s for sure- a scientist mommy battling beasties better be handy with a scalpel.

We were barely ten feet from the porch when I heard the scratching. Kara was burying her face in my shoulder. Megan was screaming in Jason’s arms. I knew I was moving fast, but the turning of my head felt like someone had hit the slow motion button. Too many of them. Oh. My. God. There were too many. Their pale, malformed faces were pressed against the window glass, the large table now removed so they could see out. The dim light bothered their eyes. They squinted at us; but even without clear vision, they knew we were there. They could smell our scents lingering in the hotel. They could smell the musk of my daughters’ unwashed, campfire-scented hair. “Run… Run!” “I am running!” Jason’s voice was strained, bordering on hoarse. “Run faster, damn it!” But we couldn’t go any faster and they were too fast. I made the mistake of glancing behind us again. Undergrounders were pouring out of the hotel door. One after another on all fours, they came barreling towards us. Since they weren’t feeding on human beings, I could only guess that the undergrounder collective had decided on complete human genocide. Why else target two adults and two children minding their own damn business and only taking

food that the undergrounders wouldn’t eat anyway? It was freaking unfair. The humanoids’ legs pushed backwards in unison like lions sprinting across the African plain. I could pinpoint the more evolved beasties- their joints were less feline, their appendages slightly more human and bipedal, all aspects of them shifting away from humanoid. The change did not affect their speed. They were a mere hundred yards behind us and closing that distance rapidly. This herd didn’t seem to have crude weapons, just claws and teeth and speed. I focused on running, trying not to keep looking back at the horror. The joint-popping sound was a comfort. At least I could measure the coming of my death by the proximity of the pop, pop, pop. It was a little blessing in a hot hell.

Eli worked in pathology before transitioning to homemaker. She’s never regretted the decision; not only are her kids the most amazing creatures, but writing fulfills her soul in a way science never did. She is the author of the Dead Trees series, Mastic, DRAG.N, & Z Children: Awakening.

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Rebecca Royce Alpha’s Strength

Cyrus runs Manhattan with an iron fist. He will keep his pack safe whether they want him to or not. But something is missing and lately he is more on edge than ever. With his pack at risk and the Alphas of Philadelphia and Boston breathing down his neck, he doesn’t anticipate the arrival of his true mate, particularly when he finds her in a coffee house across the street from his office building. She’s not only identical to the mate of the alpha of Philadelphia but has no idea that werewolves even exist, let alone that she’s one herself.

Cyrus rushed toward her, but she got there first. She held the knife in her shaking hand. Having never actually threatened anyone with a weapon before, she had no idea how hard it was to do, even if the person who needed the threat was actually part-wolf, had stalked her home—and busted in her door because he smelled her blood and wanted to protect her. Or maybe that wasn’t what he’d meant. Maybe he wanted to eat her because of her scent? Cyrus still hadn’t said what he wanted with her, other than to talk about what he smelled like. “Listen, I want you to go. Okay?” Her voice didn’t shake and she had a moment of pride about it. Small victories were all she was going to get. Cyrus crossed his arms. “Do you mean to stab me with that, princess?” He didn’t look particularly threatened. If anything, he seemed bored. What the hell? She wielded a knife here. “I don’t want to have to stab you. I don’t want that at all. I’ve never stabbed anyone. I’m not a violent person.” Why was she explaining so much? “I want you to go. Leave me alone. Take your crazy, you’re-a-wolf talking self

and get out of my house.” “This isn’t your house. This is that coward’s house. And I can’t believe you’re living here or wearing his ring because you want to.” “Why would you say that? You don’t even know me.” “I know your name is Betsy.” He paused, and, if anything, his gaze became even more smoldering. When he left, she was going to need a shower and vibrator to take care of all the heat coursing though her body. “And I know that you’re mine.”

I am the mother of three boys and married to my best friend. I live in Texas where I am determined to eat all the barbecue in town. I am in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and try to use all of these elements in my writing.

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from our website must read columns

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

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

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ABOUT THE COLUMNIST

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


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Issue 28 - July/August 2015 Your Guide to Great Reading - Featuring Liz Crowe, plus columns, book reviews, featured authors, and more!

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