Page 1


on the cover

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L.G. O’Connor is the author of popular urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance novels including the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles series.


contents November/December 2014

columns

features

17 Bestseller’s Secret

48 Victoria Vane 50 Claudia Y. Burgoa 54 Char Chaffin 62 F.L. Bicknell 66 Amber Lea Easton 84 Valerie Bowman 90 Julie Mangano 106 Dorothy Bell 110 Pamela L. Todd 116 Bailey Bradford 118 Kimberly Gardner

BARBARA ANKRUM

41 Chic Trends in Romance

BRING ON THE CHRISTMAS SPICE...

81 The Hot Hunks of History HISTORICAL HOLIDAYS

97 The Heat Diva TAKE YOUR TIME

131 Ali B. and the Forty Spaceships

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME...

151The Scrying Eye CHRISTMAS MURDER!

book reviews 39 CONTEMPORARY & ROMANCE

167 Forever Young

THEY DO BELIEVE: A SEASON FOR ANGELS

179 BTS Goes Hollywood BILL & SUSAN HAYES

79 HISTORICAL & WESTERN 95 EROTIC & SENSUAL

stories & serials Restoration

73 125

120 Nancy Corrigan 122 Charity Parkerson 136 V.A. Dold 138 Julia Mills 144 Courtney Farrell 148 Ashlyn Chase 157 Marguerite Ashton 158 Jacquie Biggar 170 Jessica Dragon Cheramie 172 Holli Anderson 176 Natasha Deen

by Leslie S. Talley

129 SCI-FI/FANTASY & PARANORMAL 149 MYSTERY & SUSPENSE 165 YOUNG & NEW ADULT plus

on the website

Blogging 101 with Babs Hightower Karen’s Writing Detours with Karen Albright Lin Rebels, Rakes & Rogues with Adrienne deWolfe Science News for Writers with Jim Fisher November/December 2014 | 7


in this issue

BTS

Book Reviews LLC Your Guide to Great Reading

Executive Coordinator Myra Nour

Giving Thanks for Great Reads As another year comes to a close it’s always nice to take a moment to give thanks for all the blessings we’ve received. Like new releases, favorite authors, and rising literary stars! Join Barbara Ankrum: The Girl Next Door, Who Left TV to Write Romance as she shares her story in Adrienne deWolfe’s Bestseller’s Secret. Get the low-down on Sandra Bunino’s 3rd Annual Naughty and Nice list; these stocking stuffers can’t be missed! Then step back in time for a little Historical Holidays with Christy English. It may be cold outside but it’s hot in here! We’ll turn up the heat with our new resident Heat Diva, BJ Gaskill. Then keep the steamy nights going with the next installment of Nicole Morgan’s Sex and the Single Woman. Take a trip out of the ordinary with Alex Bardy in There’s No Place Like Home, Toto, There’s Only Brainfood . . . And add a little chill to your winter nights as Kelly Hudson takes a look at Christmas Murders! From holiday murder to heavenly angels, join Kellyann Zuzulo for They Do Believe: A Season for Angels. Plus, join us for an exciting installment of BTS Goes Hollywood with Day of Our Lives stars Bill and Susan Hayes. And of course, there is no shortage of great reads, sneak peeks and author interviews. So much to be thankful for, how can I ever choose?

Dawn Seewer

BTS Executive Designer

Dawn Seewer is the Executive Designer for BTS Book Reviews. She has fifteen years experience in website design, graphic arts, ebook creation and design and marketing. Visit her website at http://dawnseewer.com

Executive Designer Dawn Seewer

BTSeMag.com info@BTSeMag.com facebook.com/BtsBookReviews

Promotions Director Babs Hightower

Review Coordinator Annette Stone

Promotions Assistant BJ Gaskill

Review Assistant Rachell Largent BJ Gaskill Babs Hightower

Executive Assistant: Vanessa Strickler Publicity Director Tracee Gleichner Production Assistant/ Designer Cyrene Olson Editor Sheri Kraft Associate Editor Kellyann Zuzulo Author Liaison Diane Bator Yahoo Promotions/ Ad Coordinator Simon Nour Promotions Assistant Char Chaffin Triberr Team Amber Easton Keta Diablo Barbara Bradley Social Media Amberr Meadow

Reviewers

Alyssa Williams Amy Moore Anita Rivers Annette Stone April W. Arushi Raj Babs Hightower Babus Ahmed Brittany Hale Cassandra Graham Christie Mitchum Christina Torretta Diana Silva Drue Hoffman Heather Lewis Jordan White Kim Patten Lisa Klaes Michelle Mauer Olga Núñez Miret Raluca Topliceanu S. Jane Gari Sally A. Wolf Sara Curtis Sasha Hibbs Shannon Ferguson Stacie Carrier Susan Frances Tammy Thompson

Hollywood Interviewer Danita Minnis

Columnists: Karen Albright Lin, Alex Bardy, Sandra Bunino, Adrienne deWolfe, Christy English, Jim Fisher, BJ Gaskill, Babs Hightower, Kelly Hudson, Nicole Morgan, Kellyann Zuzulo

No material in this magazine can be used or copied without BTS or the author’s permission. © Copyright 2014. BTSeMag, BTS Book Reviews, All Rights Reserved. By submitting material to BTS Book Reviews or its affiliates, authors certify they own the rights to all published information.

November/December 2014 | 13


From the Desk of

Myra Nour BTS CEO

Before I read his debut column with us, I had no idea red played such an important part in our lives. I don’t want to give anything away, so read it! Authors can find tidbits that they can infuse into their writing.

ARC/BTS Awards Convention 2015: We have exciting things happening at the NOLA 2015 Convention. Besides the Red Carpet Book Awards, we will be hosting the 2nd Mr. BTS contest. Models will compete for attendees, vote at the con, and the winner will be announced at the awards. Scott Nova was our first Mr. BTS in 2013 and he will be attending as our special model at the con. And he will be competing for 2015 Mr. BTS. Exhibitors so far are: Secret Cravings Publishing Kensington Lyrical Press Decadent Publishing Soul Mate Publishing Christa Reed Photography BTS Book Reviews Book Publicity Services New Publishers: We would like to welcome 2 new publishers to the emag. Loose Id joins us this issue. Allie McKnight, the owner, was one of my EC editors in years past. A special welcome to her. Musa Publishing joins us as well. Welcome to BTSemag. New Columnists: We’d like to welcome out newest columnist. Jim Fisher debuts in December on the website with his educational column Science News for Writers.

B. J. Gaskill starts her first column with us in the Nov/Dec issue as the new Heat Diva columnist. Her humorous turn of phrase made me smile, so enjoy her enthusiasm in sharing hot books with our readers. We say a fond farewell to Nikki McCarver for her many wonderful columns under the Heat Diva. Adrienne deWolfe started with us in Sept/Oct issue with her interesting column interviewing Best Selling authors. In October on the website her new column, Rebels, Rakes & Rogues debuted. An interesting look into why we love those bad boys so much in books. New Staff Members: We welcome Tracee Gleichner as Publicity Director. Tracee brings her experience in promotions, as a blogger and working with Entangled Publishing. B.J. Gaskill not only accepted the Heat Diva columnist position, but as our new Promotions Assistant. She brings her enthusiastic love of authors and books, plus her blogging experience. We say farewell to Missy Davis in this position who wishes to concentrate on her writing. Thanks for all you did to help promote. Vanessa Strickler has accepted the position as my Executive Assistant. Welcome Vanessa. Review Coordinator: We have to say farewell to our wonderful Review Coordinator Annette Stone. She has accepted a position as full time assistant to J.S. Scott. Congrats Annette! Heather Powers will be starting with us as Review Coordinator in Nov. Welcome Heather! PR Firm: I’m excited to welcome Kelsey McBride of Book Publicity Services as our PR firm to help us promote the NOLA 2015 conn. www.bookpublicityservices.com

November/December 2014 | 15


craft

wisdom for writers

BESTSELLER’S

Secret

Adrienne deWolfe

Barbara Ankrum: The Girl Next Door, Who Left TV to Write Romance If you’ve ever watched television, then you’ve probably seen Barbara Ankrum. Long before this #1 bestselling Romance author focused her attention on writing, she worked as an actress, appearing in dozens of commercials for Hertz, McDonald’s, and Michelob Beer, to name a few. But you’re most likely to remember Barbara from a national Head & Shoulders campaign that ran for approximately two years. “I was the girl who sat on the bus, scratching my head, and hoping nobody would sit beside me,” Barbara said, laughing. So naturally, the part of me that had always secretly wanted to be an actress was dying to ask Barbara to dish! “How does the girl next door, with the fresh face and the bright smile, go from actress to bestselling Romance author?” I asked. Barbara had a lot of answers to that question. The one that all writers can understand went like this, “I wanted control over my creative life. As an actress, I had none.” Another of her answers made me cheer—because, let’s face it, the doom-andgloom prophets in this industry get way more than their fair share of press time. Barbara confessed: “Before I got contracted, I’d never finished a book in my life. But I entered the (Romance Writers of America’s) Golden Heart Contest, which

November/December 2014 | 17


| Bestseller’s Secret | helped me land an agent. My agent sold my entry within three months.” OMG! Imagine getting that phone call, folks! “Hello, Barbara, this here’s your fab new agent, and I just landed you a two-book contract with Zebra (Kensington). By the way: you’re welcome.” “I was terrified,” Barbara admitted. “In the last two years, I had written three chapters. God only knows why I got an offer, when so many other writers, who actually finish their manuscripts, never get ‘The Call.’ I was very lucky.” Barbara did ask me to stress that last part: she was very lucky. But there’s more to Barbara’s “overnight success” than meets the eye. In college, she majored in Creative Writing and went on to get a Masters Degree in Fine Arts. “Writing was just one of those things I could always do,” she said. “Besides, I wanted to avoid math.” (And what writer can’t relate to that?!) Plus, Barbara was an avid reader: “I read milk cartons—anything I could get my hands on,” she quipped. After a while, she realized that decades of fiction reading had honed a skill that she hadn’t recognized she needed. “I understood the rhythm of a story.” As an actress, Barbara attended workshops in Los Angeles (where she now lives). These acting workshops taught her how to bring characters to life. “We had to create the backstory for a character in our scripts, before we acted out a scene. As I got better (at developing character motivations for theater roles), it occurred to me that I was writing characters like I read them in novels.” In one particular acting workshop, Barbara struck up a friendship with a fellow student, named Beth Henley. Beth was studying character-driven acting not to star in shows, but to be a writer. Beth must have discovered the proverbial “secret sauce” in one of those workshops because she went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Crimes of the Heart. “Beth’s success was very inspiring,” Barbara said. “I thought to myself, ‘Hey! Someone I know won a Pulitzer!’ Suddenly, completing a manuscript wasn’t 18 | btsemag.com

such a stretch.” Another of Barbara’s inspirations was RWA Hall of Fame inductee LaVyrle Spencer, whose books appeared on the New York Times bestseller list twelve times during her career. Barbara met LaVyrle at a national RWA convention. “I was so excited,” Barbara remembered. “LaVyrle was very sweet and approachable, and I was so nervous! I told her I’d read every book she’d ever written, and that Hummingbird was my favorite. I must have read Hummingbird ten times—I swear I know every word by heart. I told her it was her best book. LaVyrle looked at me, humble and kind of stunned. I’ll never forget what she said: ‘Really? I just see the flaws in that book.’ “To hear my idol, LaVyrle Spencer, say that her book had flaws was a real eye-opener,” Barbara continued. “It was like reverse psychology. Before meeting her, I never thought I could reach her level. After our meeting, I started to think that books don’t have to be perfect to be published.” Barbara’s debut novel, Holt’s Gamble (Book 1, Wild Western Hearts), won Romantic Times Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best First Book. In its electronic version, Holt’s Gamble reached #1 on Amazon’s Historical Western Romance List and spent two weeks in the Amazon Top 100. (Not too shabby for a book that she was “terrified” to write—and that she had to finish in under six months!) Two more of her


| Adrienne deWolfe | books have been finalists for RWA’s Rita Award. To date, all of Barbara’s novels have been set in the United States. “I feel an affinity for the American West,” she said, confessing that when she started her acting career, she hoped to appear in Western movies. “I haven’t gotten the Civil War out of my system, either. I think writers are drawn to write about an historical era for a reason. I tell my students the same thing: ‘It’s no accident that you’re writing what you’re writing. You’re working through something. Let it happen.’” Barbara has been writing and teaching fiction for twenty-five years—a period during which she quit book-writing three times to raise children, write screenplays, and finish her master’s degree. But the lure of the Romance novel keeps drawing her back to the computer. Her latest release, A Fair To Remember, was published by Tule in August. When I asked Barbara to share her Bestseller’s Secrets for writing, here’s what she had to say: 1. Write what you want to read. Don’t follow trends. If you follow a trend (and you have no passion for it), your lack of enthusiasm will show in your writing. 2. You will learn more from completing a novel than you will from rewriting the first three chapters over and over again. 3. There’s nothing wrong with writing a book that doesn’t get published—especially if it teaches you how to write. 4. Don’t stop. Keep going. Push through the doubt and the fear. Don’t listen to the voice in your head that says you can’t do it. That voice is telling you lies.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST

Adrienne deWolfe is a #1 bestselling author of actionpacked Historical Romance novels, where feisty Heroines buck the conventions and true Heroes must be wickedly funny. Currently, she is writing the first book in her new Romantic Suspense series, The Gunslinger and the Redheaded Sleuth. For sneak peeks of her sassy ladies and sizzling rogues, visit http:// ebookdiscovery.com.p8.hostingprod.com/AdrienneDeWolfe. Also visit: WildTexasNights.com, WritingNovelsThatSell.com, and MagicMayhemBlog.com

November/December 2014 | 19


| Industry Insider |

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

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| Industry Insider |

Publisher Wild Child Publishing - http://www.wildchildpublishing.com Wild Child Publishing, a fiction and non-fiction publisher and parent company of Freya’s Bower, has been online since September 1999. Since its inception, Wild Child Publishing’s goal has been to offer high quality, entertaining reading material. We love a wellwritten, fast-paced story that compels us to finish the tale to find out what happens. We focus on quality, and our catalog reflects that. While not large, our catalog is growing, and our readers are very happy with our books. Willing to take a chance on good material, you won’t find what we have anywhere else. Exciting, fresh, frightening, gripping are just a few of the adjectives used to describe our books. Step into our world - the world of the wild child. You can purchase our books at our website, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon, All Romance eBooks, OmniLit, and iTunes. Break free... Read wild... World Castle Publishing- http://www.worldcastlepublishing.com World Castle Publishing, LLC, is a young innovative publisher founded in March 2011. In this short time, we have grown by leaps and bounds and continue to prosper. We have over a hundred great authors and have published well over three hundred titles. Our bestselling genre is romantic fiction, anywhere from sweet romance to erotic romance. In this genre we are always actively seeking new talented authors. Don’t write romance? Don’t worry, we publish most fiction. Just go to our website and check out our submission guidelines: http://www.worldcastlepublishing.com/ submission-guidelines.html. A sample contract is included to answer most of your questions before you submit to us. Writers Exchange- http://www.writers-exchange.com/ Every month we have a featured author whose books are 20% off their normal price, this month is Herb Marlow, next month (November) will be Australian middle-grade reader author, Margaret Pearce. Every month we have five new free books to give readers a chance to try a new author risk free. We have been adding a pile of books to our “Collections”, these are bundled books either of a complete series or parts of a complete

series, if the series is too long:) We only start putting these out when the series is finished, so the reader can know with confidence that if they buy the book, or multiple volumes it is the entire story:) We will have a few more out over the next few days and then be announcing it on our facebook page. Totally Bound - www.totallybound.com Totally Bound Publishing is the Home of Erotic Romance. Totally Bound delivers ‘A List’ escapism for readers who love Erotic Romance fiction. We are the go-to destination for deliciously good stories that put a smile on readers’ faces and a spring in their steps. This year we were shortlisted for eBook Retailer of the Year 2014 by The Bookseller. We are currently accepting manuscripts between 10,000 and 100,000+ words in the following genres: Action/Adventure, Angels and Demons, Bondage/BDSM, Crime/Mystery, Comedy/Humour, Contemporary, Cowboy/Western, Fantasy/Fairytales, Futuristic/Sci-fi, Gods/Goddesses, Historical, Horror, Men in Uniform, Rubenesque, Ménage-à-trois, Multicultural, Older Woman/Younger Man, Paranormal, Timetravel, Thriller, Suspense, Shapeshifters, Morphers, Vampires, Werewolves, GLBT. Loose Id - www.loose-id.com Loose Id is always accepting submissions from new, unagented, and agented authors. After ten years in business, we have a sterling reputation with authors, agents and readers. Our editing, cover art, author development process, and marketing is unparalleled. We accept all subgenres of romance and heat levels from spicy on up. In particular, we’re currently looking for multicultural, romantic suspense, New Adult, LGBTTQA, and BDSM. If you have a strong story with sizzling chemistry between the romantic leads, we want to hear from you! In sales and distribution news, Loose Id has partnered with Google to get all of our titles into Google Play store. Additionally, our books are now available for pre-order at many sites; pre-order at www.loose-id.com should be available for your holiday shopping. We’re also offering select series in e-box sets at significantly reduced rates; in most cases only at www.loose-id.com.

November/December 2014 | 23


| Industry Insider |

by Myra

Nour

I had never been to New Orleans, so this was a great opportunity for me to get my toes wet in this unique, old city. Vickie Dold was hosting her first ARC Con, and BTS attended as press to cover the event. Vickie is well-known as the owner of Innovative Book Tours. By the time I met her in person, she had turned the tour company over to a friend, so she could write and host conventions. Her first two indie books, Cade & Simon have taken off like a shot. The ARC Con: We arrived on Thursday evening with the first event being the Meet & Greet. It was held in a room with a spectacular view of the city and river—a 180-degree view. I started having fun chatting with authors and enjoyed meeting A.L. Jackson, one of the keynote speakers. She was not only pretty but very sweet. Her husband was a cutie too. There were several author-sponsored events: a ghost tour and a walk down Bourbon Street. Vickie also took a group of authors who wanted to hit Crescent City Brewhouse restaurant for a good meal. Simon and I went

24 | btsemag.com


| Nola 2014 | with Vickie and had a great time. Later, we strolled down Bourbon Street and got acquainted with some of its strange characters. Many bars and little restaurants are tucked away in those charming old buildings. A few street performers entertained crowds. Friday morning, I got to kick the morning breakfast off as Keynote Speaker. I shared how BTS Book Reviews came to be, how we help promote authors, and I had a big announcement. ARC & BTS are partnering to host the NOLA 2015 convention to hold the Red Carpet Book Awards.

Then the panels and speed dating with authors were on. I chose to attend panels, so I missed the speed dating, but Simon took some good shots of participants. I was very interested in the Taking Your Novel to Movie Script workshop by JT Schultz and Donna Michaels. There were many other great workshops as well, such as Writing Sex Scenes: “The Deed: How Dirty Do You Want I to Be?” with Jackie Rhoades, A.L. Jackson, Seraphina Donovan, Kym Grosso, and Alexandra Weis. The evening ended with eating at great restaurants and taking a carriage ride through the French Quarter, courtesy of our hostess, Vickie Dold. Saturday morning, we all got better acquainted with A.L. Jackson as she shared experiences as Keynote Speaker. I took part in a panel, What Is Trending and Coming Up? The other panelists included A.L. Jackson, Jordan Deen, and Shannan Albright. It was interesting, listening to the authors share what they

know is trending in the publishing world. The audience joined in with great comments. Being authors, they had good info to share as well. I have to say, everyone seemed really interested when I read comments I had collected from various publishers BTS works with. What they see as trends now and for the future. There were other interesting workshops I missed, like the Writing Cowboys Panel with Sylvia McDaniel and Donna Michaels plus the Romantic Suspense Panel with Virginia McKevitt, Geri Foster, Courtney Farrell, Lori Leger, and Sarah Greyson, and many other workshops both days.

The Author Book Signing took place in the evening. I got to chat with many wonderful authors and picked up quite a few books. Most of my own books were sold or given away by the end. I am looking forward to reading all the interesting books I brought home. We ended the night with the Masquerade Costume Dance. Some people were dressed elegantly, some in costumes. We went as a matching couple. Simon was a pirate, me a medieval maid. Mix that with Shannan Albright’s unique female pirate style, and we had a fun little group. Simon and I danced since we love to do so no matter where we are. Most people seemed rather shy, but we heard the floor was bouncing after we left. I guess a few drinks will do that for dancing enthusiasm.:) We had a great time. I am looking forward to NOLA 2015 when we host the Red Carpet Awards and Mr. BTS Contest with Vickie at the ARC convention. And we’re going a few days early, so we can explore New

To see all the great photos from Nola 2014, visit btsemag.com/nola November/December 2014 | 25


| Industry Insider |

2014

26 | btsemag.com


@ Author & Reader Con 2015

FEATURING AUTHORS:

Author & Reader Con July 30th - Aug 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!


Premiere Ads: Inside front cover placement (page 2 or 3), premium ad design for up to 4 books – limit 2 spots per issue – $150.00 Elite Premiere ad placement (pages 4-12), premium ad design for up to 4 books - limit 5 spots per issue – $120.00 Premiere ad placement (pages 13-21), premium ad design for up to 4 books – limit 5 spots per issue– $100.00 Big Splash Ad: 2-page Big Splash ad, custom designed for up to 10 books - $160.00 Full Page Ads: Standard full page ad, template designed with up to 2 books - $60.00 Premium full page ad, custom designed ads for up to 4 books – $85.00 Submitted Ad, submit your own completed ad – $60.00 Half Page Ads: Standard half page ad, template designed with up to 2 books – $30.00 Premium half page ad, custom designed for up to 3 books – $50.00 Submitted Ad, submit your own completed ad – $30.00 Fourth Page Ads: Standard fourth page ad, template designed with 1 book – $20.00 Submitted Ad, submit your own completed ad – $20.00

Big Splash - Multi-Author Ad Sample


| Industry Insider |

BTS is proud to announce that our second Mr. BTS contest will be held at the NOLA convention!

Come meet our 2013 Mr. BTS, Scott Nova at the Nola Convention! Don’t miss this authorreadercon.com

exciting

event,

visit

Attention Models:

Are you attending the 2015 NOLA convention? If so, then we invite you to join us for the 2nd annual Mr. BTS contest! Models attending the convention will get a 1-page spread in the May/June 2015 issue of BTS Book Reviews! Visit btsemag.com/mr-bts for more information!

Scott Nova, Mr. BTS 2013

November/December 2014 | 29


2015 Coastal Magic Convention Coastal Magic is a super casual, urban fantasy and paranormal romance focused convention in Daytona Beach, FL. With panels designed to start interesting discussion, and meet & greets with fun themes, we’ve got something for every fan. While there IS a schedule, there is also ample time for authors and readers to just hang out together, this is what we’re here for! Join us for reader, blogger, and author shenanigans, and lots of “paranormal” inspired activities. Saturday’s charity book sale and signing is open to convention attendees, and also FREE to the public. We’ve got a Featured Author lineup, over 50 amazing storytellers, that showcases not only NYT Bestselling favorites, but debut and “new to you” authors that are sure to catch your attention. Come take a bite out of the beach with us!! Feb 5-8, 2015

For more information please visit CoastalMagicConvention.com 30 | btsemag.com


| Industry Insider |

Upcoming

2015 Conventions 31st Annual SDSU Writers’ Conference January 23-25, 2015 San Diego, CA http://www.ces.sdsu.edu/wc

Carolinas Writers Conference April 18, 2015 Wadesboro, N.C. http://www.carolinaswritersconference.org/

Coastal Magic Convention February 5-8 2015 Daytona Beach, FL http://coastalmagicconvention.com/

2015 Las Vegas Writer’s Conference April 23-25, 2015 http://writing.shawguides.com/2015lasveg aswritersconference

FRW Cruise Conference 2015 February 5-9, 2015 Sailing from Ft Lauderdale, FL http://frwfuninthesunregistra.blogspot. com/

Kauai Writers Conference May 1-3, 2015 http://www.kauaiwritersconference.com/

South Coast Writers Conference! February 13 & 14, 2015 Gold Beach, Oregon http://www.socc.edu/scwriters/ Sleuth Fest 2015 February 26 – March 1, 2015 Deerfield Beach, FL https://plus.google.com/+NancyJCohen/ posts/D8bsUqFYFdQ 2015 AWP Conference & Bookfair April 8 - 11, 2015 Minneapolis , MN https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/schedule_overview Romancing the Capital (RTC2015) April 17th & 18th, 2015 Ottawa, Canada http://orc.evelanglais.com/wordpress/ venue/

2015 DFW Writers Conference July 24-26, 2015 Dallas, TX https://classic.regonline.com/register/ checkin.aspx?eventid=1551122 Author & Reader Con July 30th - Aug 1st, 2015 New Orleans, LA http://www.authorreadercon.com/ Including: BTS Red Carpet Book Awards http://btsemag.com/red-carpet-reviewawards/ Indie Romance Convention (IRC) October 13-18, 2015 Mackinac Island, MI http://www.eventbrite.com/e/2015-indieromance-convention-grand-hotel-ticketstickets-12194464973

November/December 2014 | 31


| Industry Insider |

Wrap-Up of the 2014

Indie Romance Convention by A.L. Kessler The world of indie publishing can be a scary place, but it’s nice to know that you’re not alone in that journey. It’s also nice to know that most indie authors are willing to help one another and aspiring authors on their way. That’s what I found at Indie Romance Convention 2014. I attending 2013 and knew that I had to go back for more. This year didn’t disappoint me with great big name indie authors like Victoria Vane, Victoria Dannan, Susan Hamilton, Teresa Gableman and Eve Langlais, but there also smaller authors who are just getting their feet wet. The advantage of having such a wide range of authors is that it allows everyone to learn from each other. IRC 2014 had panels to appeal to any writing level, including ‘How to treat your writing like a business’ and ‘Crafting a story for the perfect HEA’. The panels held authors of different levels and subgenres which help readers and other authors get a wide range of views on subject matters. There’s nothing like getting different opinions on heat levels, sexual tension, or the villains. Not only was IRC full of information to help new and old writers alike, but the networking with readers and authors was an amazing advantage to this small convention. IRC has a limited number of spots open for readers, authors, bloggers and aspiring authors. This gives everyone the chance to actually sit down and get to know each other as more than just a name. Often readers forget that authors are human too, some authors forget that readers are the reason they are there. (Teresa Gableman gave a great workshop on why readers should be authors’ passion.) The events allow readers and authors to sit side by side and talk to each other. Now when I say talk, I don’t mean the authors sit there and push their books, but everyday conversations. The authors get the advantage of finding other authors that they can network with and to possibly cross promote with. This is a huge thing for authors since indie authors have to learn to use every marketing technique to their advantage. IRC offers a book signing towards the end of the 32 | btsemag.com

weekend. This gives the readers a chance to get those signed copies that they want and get a chance to see the authors they met in action. I loved seeing the look on readers’ faces as they picked up a new book from my table. As an author it’s an amazing feeling to know that you’ve made someone’s day. In the end, I came home exhausted, but with so much more information than I went with and new readers and friends that I never would have met or gained unless I attended IRC.

A.L. Kessler is the author of Dark War Chronicles. She dabbles in paranormal romance, steampunk and urban fantasy. Since she was a teenager she’s loved weaving stories and spinning tales. For those who like things on the more spicy side of life, she leads a double life as Alexandra Webb. For more info check out www.amylkessler.com and www.alexandrawebb.net


AUTHOR SHOWCASE

COVER feature

L.G. O’Connor is the author of popular urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance novels including the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles series.

L.G. O’Connor November/December 2014 | 33


| Cover Author | AN INTERVIEW WITH

L.G. O’CONNOR Author of the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles

BTS: When did you first consider yourself a writer? Great question. Being a writer was kind of an accident for me. I’d never set out to do this and suddenly in 2012 when I finished my first manuscript, I blinked and thought, “Wow, I guess I’m a writer.”

BTS: How does your work differ from others of its genre? L.G. O’Connor is a member of the Romance Writers of America. A corporate strategy and marketing executive for a Fortune 250 company, she writes adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. She is currently working on the third book in the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, Book of Four Rings, for publication in 2015. In addition, she is writing an adult contemporary romance series. An avid antiques collector, L.G. lives a life of adventure, navigating her way through dog toys and soccer balls and loaning herself out for the occasional decorating project. When she’s feeling particularly brave, she enters the kitchen . . . Find & Follow L.G. O’Connor Online: www.LGoConnor.com Twitter.com/lgoconnor1 Facebook.com/lgoconnor1 @ Goodreads.com

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I love this question because I made a conscious choice to deviate somewhat from the formula of pure urban fantasy or pure paranormal romance for the The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles. As an avid reader of both genres, I found that I preferred a blend of both rather than either genre straight up. I’m very character driven when I read. I want to fall in love the cast and feel like I’m part of their team, but I also want a rich and complex story that keeps me thinking. As result, The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles are not predictable reads or books that you can skim through without paying attention. That said I kept my world recognizable by using contemporary settings in New York City and San Francisco in an attempt to simplify. The series has some elements of Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I tried to ground the story in reality and biblical history as we know it. From there I applied literary license. My objective was for the story to have a broader mainstream appeal than just the two genres it’s associated with.


| L.G. O’Connor |

BTS: What are you reading right now? Thanks to STARZ and OUTLANDER, I’m now binge reading all of Diana Gabaldon’s books! I can’t believe we have to wait until April 4th for the mid-season return of the show. Grr! For years people told me I would love these books. I’m surprised I didn’t listen. Maybe it’s because for the last five years I’ve been on a paranormal romance and urban fantasy reading binge.

BTS: What are you working on? Wow. A better question might be what am I not working on *laughs* given my list. I’ve just finished several projects. The first is my second book in the The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles—The Wanderer’s Children— which is available for presale now for launch on December 16th through all major print and digital retail outlets with my new publisher, Collins-Young Publishing. For a chance to win one of five signed ARCs, visit http://www.lgoconnor.com/site/ wcgiveaway. On top of that, the Trinity Stones audiobook just launched on Audible and iTunes. But three’s a charm, right? I’m deep into writing the next installment of the A12 Chronicles, Book of Four Rings.

BTS: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying this, but it’s not something I’ve had to deal with for more than five minutes. If I get stuck on a scene, I just work on another or switch to editing until I’ve had time to relax my mind enough to find a path forward.

November/December 2014 | 35


| Cover Author | Enjoy the excerpt from

“O’Connor tackles important world building, while also kicking off the story with a bang.” - Publisher’s Weekly Anxiety-ridden New York investment banker, Cara Collins, has little to smile about on her 27th birthday between a hostile work environment and an impossible romantic situation with her longtime friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon. But before the day ends, she learns she has inherited $50 million—a windfall that must remain secret or risk the lives of those close to her. As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they’re getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race. In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai. But when Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear. In doing so, she realizes it’s not just her heart , but rather her destiny, that is entwined with the two men in her life. 36 | btsemag.com

New York City. Perry Street Apartment. Friday, March 21, 1:35 p.m. EDT The sounds of Cara choking and her panicked struggle filled the air. Chamuel held his breath. His palm wrapped around the empty hilt of his weapon, and he silently invoked the blade to life. Brilliant light sprang from the sword’s hilt as Chamuel crept up behind the demon and rammed the blade home into its back. Cara dropped from its clutches and hit the floor, unconscious. An ear-splitting shriek escaped the demon before it disintegrated, turning into a column of black ash and falling into a pile next to her. The blade gone, Chamuel’s hand shook as he clipped the hilt back onto his belt next to the rest of his weapons. Stepping over the demon ash, he dropped to his knees next to Cara. He turned her over and stuck two fingers to her jugular to find her weak pulse. He scanned her quickly. The strength of her energy told him she’d recover. The breath he’d been holding escaped with a whoosh, and his large shoulders slumped in relief. That was too close. He glanced around Cara’s living room. Other than the signs of a struggle, the apartment was meticulously organized and inviting. Not unlike his own personal space. Looking down at the ash pile, he made a mental note to dispose of it before he left. A bucket, a broom, and a vacuum would do the trick. The demon had conveniently collapsed downward, leaving Cara covered in only a light coating of ash. Chamuel hadn’t escaped so easily, taking an extra dose of ash through the blade’s exit wound. Removing his demon ash-covered duster, he turned it inside out and laid it over the back of the nearest chair. His T-shirt and cargo pants were more or less dust-free. He knelt down next to Cara, and opened up his silent telepathic line to Michael. Before Chamuel could say a word, Michael’s voice rushed at him. “I’m on my way. What the hell just happened?” “Did you see it?” Chamuel asked, more interested in if Michael had gotten the vision through the Flow in advance than if he was close by when it had happened. New Trinities usually required an adjustment and finetuning period before they fully bonded. He could hear Michael’s agitation. “Of course I saw it. I ran out of class and jumped in a cab as soon as it hit me. But why wasn’t she at work?” Chamuel ground his teeth in frustration. She should


| L.G. O’Connor |

still have been at the office. Otherwise, he would have been guarding her more closely and this would have never happened. “I don’t know,” he said to Michael, his jaw tight. “I’ll be there in about twenty minutes,” Michael said. “By the way, Constantina just arrived.” Chamuel could hear the weariness seep into Michael’s voice. Visions required energy. “I know. She called me earlier.” “Take care of Cara, please.” Michael’s request was more of a plea. Chamuel frowned. Did Michael actually think he wouldn’t? True, they’d met only recently and hadn’t yet formed a proper working relationship, but still. “Of course I will. One thing: I don’t want her to see me when she wakes up. I’ll be close by, but not visible.” “No problem. I won’t give you away.” Chamuel closed down their telepathic link and looked down at the unconscious yet beautiful woman lying in a heap at his feet. Her stocking-covered feet poked out from the pair of brown slacks she wore with a matching sweater. A diamond solitaire pendant lay at her throat. Her long auburn hair fanned out in a halo around her head. Glancing around, he noticed her high heels lay inside the door next to a table that held her discarded suit jacket and keys. He brushed his hand down his face. His cheeks burned as his blood pressure rose, livid that he’d misjudged the situation. Had he known she planned on leaving work early or not using her driver, he would have stayed with her all day. Under standard rules of engagement, demons rarely took native form in front of human witnesses. Outside of a safe house, like the penthouse, Cara was safest in places like Cabot. Luckily, he’d been close by when he’d picked up on her distress, but not close enough to prevent the attack. Again, he had to ask himself: was he up to the task? He couldn’t live with a second mistake. He’d been on the job less than twenty-four hours, and he’d almost lost her. Fortunately for them all, he’d arrived in time, but the nasty bruise circling her neck reminded him he hadn’t arrived early enough. He reached down and gently scooped her up. Waves of hair draped over one of his arms; her legs draped over the other. His weapons dangled from his belt as he carried her limp body over to the sofa. But rather than laying her down, he folded his large frame into a sitting position on the cushions and continued to cradle her. She felt small, fragile, and strangely at

home against his chest. There’s barely any weight to her, he thought. She couldn’t be more than one hundred twenty pounds, nothing like the solid weight of a Nephil woman. Despite her unconscious state, he didn’t want to let her go. The second he’d touched her, an odd sense of peace rushed over him. Holding her satisfied something deep inside him and quelled his restlessness. Granted, a long time had passed since he’d touched a woman, yet there was something more significant and special about touching her. He couldn’t quite place it. He studied the delicate beauty of her face with wide-eyed fascination, drinking in her creamy pale skin and the long lashes that brushed her cheeks as she slept. Her lips, soft and full, begged to be kissed. His eyes lingered there a moment longer, wondering what her lips would feel and taste like on his. Leaning down, he breathed in the scent of her hair, its sweet bouquet filling his senses. He drew a deep breath. Someone like her could tempt him out of his self-imposed celibacy. He’d denied himself a pathway for his physical desires as part of his atonement. Had he paid enough yet? As she lay in the crook of his arm, the softness of her hair touching his bare skin made it tingle. A strand of it, the color of autumn leaves, lay over her face. Instinctively, he reached his hand up to brush it away. But as he was about to make contact, he froze. Forbidden. That’s what she was to him, forbidden. The rules were clear; she could never be his. His lips could never touch hers…

Buy it now at Amazon Buy it now at Barnes & Noble

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November/December 2014 | 37


| Cover Author | COMING DECEMBER 2014! The WANDERER’S CHILDREN (The Angelorum Chronicles #2)

on her and those closest to her as her body transforms into Amazonian proportions and an overabundance of pheromones threatens to land her in hot water with Simon—not to mention a sudden suspicious outbreak of “insta-love” among her friends. Michael Swift, Cara’s Trinity Messenger, has spent months running from his attraction to Cara’s brazen best friend Sienna, the only woman who has ever skirted his considerable defenses. But if he wants a future with her, he must confront his tormented past head on, or risk losing her and destroying the future of the Angelorum. As dark forces and outside threats gather, Cara has more to worry about than fitting into her wedding dress and playing Cupid to her friends. A second encounter with rocker Brett King shows Cara once again that there are no coincidences. One of the Wanderer’s children, Brett and his secret siblings are the key to gathering the rest of the Twelve. When the newly forming team finally comes together, an unexpected revelation shakes them to their core. They must all look deeper into their souls as new secrets come to light to discover what’s really at stake in the final battle between good and evil…if betrayal and Lucifer don’t rip them apart first. AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER @ AMAZON.COM

And the story continues… A thrilling follow-up to debut novel, Trinity Stones, The Wanderer’s Children continues the story taking us deeper into the depth of destiny and the impact of our free will on the forces that sway our fate, and the most powerful force of all—love. The Wanderer’s mission three decades ago: secretly sire children to hide his bloodline, and protect them until their destinies can unite in the final battle between good and evil. That time has come… Cara Collins, the First of the Holy Twelve, longs for one last peaceful weekend with her bridesmaids as she plans her wedding to Simon Young, her former Trinity Guardian, before duty calls with the Angelorum to gather the Twelve and prepare them for battle. Life, as she knew it, has changed; weird is Cara’s new normal. Her newly acquired Nephilim DNA is wreaking havoc 38 | btsemag.com

HOPE’S PRELUDE Look for the prequel novella to Trinty Stones and meet the Rogue and find out how Hope and Dr. Tom Peyton started it all… coming soon


Contemporary | Romance | Mainstream | Literary Fiction

CONTEMPORARY & ROMANCE

the HAPPILY ever AFTER

Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

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

BTS HEAT RATINGS:

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

November/December 2014 | 39


trends reading trends in romance

Chic in

Trends Romance Sandra Bunino

Bring on the Christmas Spice: 3rd Annual Naughty and Nice List Breakout the eggnog and add an extra shot of brandy because this is my Third Annual Naughty and Nice Chic Trends in Romance column! Woo-hoo! Searching the new holiday titles and covers is just like opening presents on Christmas morning, and I can’t wait to share my favorites with you.

November/December 2014 | 41


| Chic Trends in Romance |

Let’s check out the Nice List first, shall we? I’m so excited about Suzanne Enoch’s story in Christmas Brides (A Holiday Anthology, St. Martin’s Press—available now) because I’m a big fan of her Scandalous Highlanders series. Not only do you get Enoch’s story, which is worth the price of admission, but there are three other holiday wedding stories in this lovely anthology. One Hot Scot by Suzanne Enoch Duncan Lenox lives surrounded by enemies, a MacLawry in a land of Campbells. But when an English beauty has nowhere else to turn, he feels obligated to help. Now that they must spend a night together in an abandoned cottage while a storm rages on, will their mutual passion save—or doom—them both? Once Upon a Christmas Scandal by Alexandra Hawkins Lady Ellen is outraged when she learns her dowry’s been increased by her dad, eager to draw every bachelor in England to her front door. So when Lord Swainsbury comes knocking, Ellen assumes he’s another dreadful fortune hunter. Little does she know that Swainsbury has completely fallen for her— body, heart, and soul . . . The Scandal Before Christmas by Elizabeth Essex Lieutenant Ian Worth needs a wife by Christmas. He has to find her, woo her, and wed her before he goes back to sea. Anne Lesley is a shy spinster with no prospects, so she accepts Ian’s hasty offer only for the security it will bring. But when a midwinter storm rolls in, things start to heat up between them . . . and they might just find true, honest-to-goodness love . . . It Happened Under the Mistletoe by Valerie Bowman Oliver Townsende intends to avoid the hordes of marriage-minded misses at a friend’s holiday party. When he meets Miss Cerian Blake, who’s dodging her own unwanted set of admirers, the two decide to join forces and fake an infatuation to keep their suitors at bay. But when mistletoe becomes involved, will their Christmastime prank turn into a love to last all seasons? Next on the Nice List is not exactly a holidaythemed story, but it’s a sweet reunion love story and doesn’t that just scream Christmas? Plus, I 42 | btsemag.com

adore the German shepherd puppy on the cover. In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins (Blue Heron, #4, Harlequin—available now) is the perfect yule-time read. Everyone loves Jack Holland, but Emmaline Neal needs him. Her ex-fiancé is getting married in Malibu and, obviously, she can’t go to the wedding alone. In Manningsport, New York, tall, blond and gorgeous Jack Holland is practically a cottage industry when it comes to rescuing desperate women. He knows the drill, Em figures, so he won’t get the wrong idea. What Jack needs is an excuse to leave town. Ever since rescuing four teenagers from a car wreck, he’s been hailed as a hero and the attention is making him itchy, especially since his too-pretty ex-wife is back, angling for a reunion. He’s always liked Emmaline. She needs a weekend date? No problem. So when they wind up in bed together, Em chalks it up to red wine and chocolate cake, just one impulsive night not to be repeated. But Jack’s pushing for more, and if she lets down her guard, either she’ll get her heart crushed again, or discover that Jack’s worth more than just dreaming about.


| Sandra Bunino | Is that enough sugar for your cookies? Now, let’s get spicy with On the Naughty List (A Holiday Anthology, St. Martin’s Press—now available) Lori Foster has two co-workers plan a Christmas party side-by-side-and discover a love worth celebrating in Christmas Bonus. Carly Phillips explores a “mistletoe moment” when a no-nonsense lawyer intent on seducing her boss meets his twin instead—and gives him a scintillating kiss that leaves him begging for more in Naughty Under the Mistletoe. In Sugar Jamison’s Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas, former wild child Dina Gregory returns home to New York to find the father of her young son. Instead, she finds his stuffy older brother, Ben. Ben can’t help but admire her tenacity—and her bold beauty. Could it be that Dina has reignited his Christmas spirit? Beth Ciotta brings two friends who, after years apart, together at home for the holidays. They don’t seem to have much in common anymore, but when the two get stranded together during a blizzard, they are forced to reexamine if they are better off as “just friends”? Or could it be that true love was there all along? in Some Kind of Wonderful. How much do you love Jaci Burton’s covers? She doesn’t disappoint with Holiday on Ice (A Holiday Novella in the Playby-Play Series, Berkley Trade—available November 18, 2014). Superstar hockey player Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer and dancer Stella Slovinski have picked up where they left off a year ago, resuming their hot, uncomplicated affair. Stella refuses to call it dating, or a relationship. But lately, Trick is looking for more . . . 

 Stella’s been burned before—in a relationship she never talks about—not with her family, not with her friends, and definitely not with Trick. But now it’s the holiday season and Trick is determined to give Stella his heart wrapped up in a bow. He knows Stella is the right woman for him, but he’ll have to melt the ice surrounding her heart to keep her from walking away.

I wish you a sweet and spicy season complete with wonderful holiday romance. See you in 2015!

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 (@sandrabunino). Join her book group, Bunino’s Bookalicious Babes, on Facebook!

November/December 2014 | 43


reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Even Heroes Cry

Slow Hand

Romance Heat Rating: 3

Romance Heat Rating: 4

Hildie McQueen

Victoria Vane

Military vet Adam Ford returns to his hometown a damaged hero— the war stole his best friend and left him with severe PTSD. Every day is a challenge as he struggles to reconstruct his life. When a tempting beauty moves in next door, Adam’s world is turned upside down and he doesn’t appreciate it.

Wade Knowlton is a hardworking lawyer who’s torn between his smalltown Montana law practice and a struggling family ranch. He’s on the brink of exhaustion from trying to save everybody and everything, when gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office. She’s a damsel in distress and the breath of fresh air he needs.

Review: I absolutely loved this book, it was an emotionally charged roller coaster and I found myself not wanting it to end. The plot was fantastic and the writing was flawless, it moved me in so many ways. I cried, laughed and cried some more. The characters drew you in from the start and the author did a fabulous job of making them come to life so you felt like you were a part of their lives somehow. This book should be in your “to be read” pile. The story was a complete hit in my opinion. It kept me riveted, and I could not put it down. I cried and laughed and it had just the right amount of romance and passion to make me want to re-read it over and over again. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Review: If you love a good contemporary love story and even better one set in the west you will fall in love with this book. Victoria Vane brings two strong characters together, one being a city girl and the other a small town western boy and what do you get? Fireworks. Of course there are the ups and down but what romance story doesn’t have those, but the chemistry between Nicole and Wade is one of those meant to be. Well written and full of romance, laughter, and you may call one or both of the characters at some point idiots but you will end up wanting more. I look forward to more stories like these from Ms. Vane and I have no doubt they will be just as addicting.

Reviewed by Kim Patten

Reviewed by Annette Stone

November/December 2014

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Lost in Zungville Susana Falcon

Urban Satire/Humor Heat Rating: 2

Lisbet Torrington is determined to keep a professional distance from her ex-lover. But, not only does he work at the restaurant where she tends bar, his wife is managing the wine shop, next door. What’s worse, photos of him skinny-dipping with Lisbet and another woman have been emailed directly to his wife. Lisbet must now wade among lecherous customers and bullying restaurant owners to keep her job, her reputation and her integrity intact. Review: What an adorable read! Lisbet is a bartender by night and a college student by day. She works hard at everything she does and does not like to dwell on negative things. She has had some rough spots in her life and is working on changing things around. The bar is owned by three brothers that really don’t know much about how to treat their employees. Lisbet’s ex-crush returns to work at the bar. His name is Drew, who happens to be married and has a daughter. He claims he wants to be back with Lisbet but she refuses because she is seeing someone. Together they deal with co-workers drunken fits or skimming the books to bosses missed up rules. Lisbet soon realizes she cannot work in this environment and quits!! (Have to say that made me so proud because she was putting up with a lot of crap that no one should have to deal with.) Reviewed by Michelle Mauer

Play With My Heart Meda White

Romance Heat Rating: 2

Southern musician Liz Baker enjoys her quiet life, but it gets complicated when a British actor walks into the picture. Ian Clarke enjoys his celebrity status and won’t let anyone get in his way. He never expected to meet a woman like Liz, but she’s the only one who can help him. In close quarters, an intense attraction catches them by surprise, but secrets and the paparazzi could threaten their new dreams. Review: Liz likes her life to be low key. She belongs to a wealthy family, so she knows what comes with being wealthy. She just chooses to stay out of the lime light until Ian. Ian is an actor, and he lives for the lime light. He measures himself by the roles of his Hollywood career. Nothing can possibly matter accept Liz. But can she be enough? The journey these two go through is quite an adventure filled with many struggles. Liz has been hurt before and will not be fooled again. Ian knows what he wants and the timeline he wants it in. Unfortunately, not everything works as such. Play with my Heart is very well written and well planned out. I loved the concept and all of the emotions throughout. The author knows how to draw an audience and really keep them there. The characters are dramatic, fun, and witty. It is impossible not to enjoy. I couldn’t put the book down once I began reading. I really want to read about her brother Danny now. He is a character worth even more development. Although Liz and Ian are a tough act to follow.

If You Want Me Cassi Carver Romance Heat Rating: 4

The Ashford Legacy, Book 2 Sara Castillo has sworn never to get sucked into the world of the rich and famous, not after billionaire Benjamin Swayne broke her heart and left her carrying the burden of their shared secret. Now Sara has a successful career working with her dear friend, Kyle Ashford, and her life runs like a welloiled machine—until Kyle chooses Ben as his best man. No way will Sara let the renowned bad boy turn Kyle’s bachelor party into a front-page fiasco. She’s going to plan the party herself… even if she has to blackmail Ben into agreeing. Review: What a great story! I loved the chemistry and history between Sara Castillo and Benjamin Swayne! Both Sara and Kyle had some unfinished business to take care of. When Kyle (Sara’s co-worker) asks Ben to be the best man she is not ready to sit back and let him take control of the bachelor party. Ben and Sara were worthy opponents. They both had strong personalities so neither let the other takeover. They were also really enjoyable characters together and individually. As Ben and Sara begin to fall in love both of them realize that the bachelor party is not the only thing that they want. As their shared secret begins to take a toll on both of them they have to reconcile their pasts and ultimately decide if they want a future together. I have to say my only complaint is that it was a novella and not a full-length story. Fortunately, it is the kick-off of a series which I am excited about! I’m really looking forward to the next books in the series! Reviewed by Diana Silva

Reviewed by Alyssa Williams

November/December 2014

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feature sneak peek

Victoria Vane

Slow Hand

In rural Montana... Wade Knowlton is a hardworking lawyer who’s torn between his small-town Montana law practice and a struggling family ranch. He’s on the brink of exhaustion from trying to save everybody and everything, when gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office. She’s a damsel in distress and the breath of fresh air he needs. Even the lawyers wear boots... Nicole Powell is a sassy Southern girl who has officially sworn off cowboys after a spate of bad seeds-until her father’s death sends her to Montana and into the arms of a man who seems too good to be true. Her instincts tell her to high tail it out of Montana, but she can’t resist a cowboy with a slow hand...

“Don’t you have to be in court soon, Counselor?” Nikki reminded him in a voice that came out breathless. “Yeah, I do,” he replied. “Guess I got a bit sidetracked. You’re turning out to be a big distraction, you know that?” She bit her lip. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be such an imposition.” “I said a distraction not an imposition. There’s a big difference. I didn’t realize until now just how badly I’ve needed such a distraction.” He stepped away with a reluctant sigh. Her pulse still hammering, Nikki exhaled the breath she hadn’t realized was trapped in her chest. Wade spun toward his office. “Help yourself to the phone and anything else while I get cleaned up.” He paused again on the threshold. “Of course, you’re welcome to use my office if you need greater privacy.” He added over his shoulder with a look of devilment. “Or in the event any wild impulse overtakes you while I shower.” He went to work on his shirt buttons. His collar was soon wide open revealing a generous show of muscular chest that make her hands itch to rip it off him. She diverted her gaze and curled her itchy hands by her sides. “Have no fear, cowboy,” Nikki replied in a cool tone meant to disguise the warm flush coming over her. “I corralled all my wild impulses long ago.” “Did you, now?” He still stood in doorway, head cocked. “Somehow, I think you may have missed a few strays.” “Maybe I need to make myself clearer. I have an aversion to cocky cowboys.” Just keep telling yourself that, Nikki. Maybe if you repeat it often enough it’ll become true. “Is that so?” His brows flew upward. “I can’t say I ever met a woman with an actual aversion to me.”

48 | btsemag.com

“Don’t take it personally. It’s nothing against you in particular, but your type.” “And what do you think you know about my type?” “Since I don’t have a pole handy, enough to keep you at arm’s length. Besides that, this whole line of conversation is entirely inappropriate in light of professional ethics, don’t you think? You are my attorney, after all.” “Well, darlin’”—he scratched his unshaven jaw—“there’s a little hitch to that.” “What do you mean? You said you’d help me.” “And I will, but you can’t engage my professional services until I know who you are.” “I’ve told you who I am!” she insisted. “Sweetheart, I’m a lawyer, and according to the law, your claim don’t weigh without authentication.” “Authentication?” “Proof.” “So what are you saying? That you don’t believe me?” “I’m not saying that at all. Only that our professional relationship will commence once you get your ID. In the interim”—his gaze slid over her in a way that threatened to melt her insides— “you’d best find yourself a nice, long, sturdy pole.”

Victoria Vane is an awardwinning author of smart and sexy romance. Her works include wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance and have received numerous accolades to include the 2014 RONE Award for Treacherous Temptations and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 for The Devil DeVere series.

VictoriaVane.com


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part where you left without even saying goodbye?” “I had an emergency at Alexander’s,” He places a hand on top of mine stopping my pretend pinching and pulling. “I left a post-it on your monitor, I wished I had stayed. Really.” “I’m not upset that you left, per se, it’s more like… I don’t know. You met them; it’s embarrassing and then you left without a word. It felt as if you wanted out, or that I’ll blame you for it. That’s why I avoid introducing my friends to my mother.” “Because she ends up having sex with them?” Mitch Knight “There’s that. Are you going 1. Loves a good challenge to—?” 2. Never turns his back on a dare “Damn, Hayley, that’s out of 3. Loves to create nicknames the question. I have nothing but 4. Nobody cooks better than him respect for your mother.” I nar5. Doesn’t believe in love row my eyes. “Well, not too much When Parker Welsh sells Mitch Knight his respect after that scene but I organic restaurant, Willows, he not only gives wouldn’t sleep with her. We’re Mitch ownership; but everything entangled friends, right?” “Not sure, you and your ego with it. Including the annoying pastry chef are extremely obnoxious on a who supplies the muffins and cupcakes. daily basis.” “My ego as usual bleeds from Hayley Roth-Welsh your comments,” He chuckles and 1. Loves To-Do Lists and Five-Year Plans I smile. “There, smile, check. Now 2. Has her dream job of baking sweets continue pulling and pinching as I 3. Always tries to make others happy read my magazine.” 4. Never seems to succeed with her family “You’re getting flour on it.” I 5. Is still a virgin, waiting for love complain. Hayley played by her mother’s rules for “You said you already read the first eighteen years of her life, instead of it, Hayley, now let me continue learning how to lose those pesky heading to college as her family expected, pounds while eating what I like.” she rebelled and opened a bakery, Pieces “Pinch and pull up, Hayley,” Mitch “I don’t know if you’re mocking of Heaven. Her family expects her to fail and instructs me, as I try to create perfectly the magazine, or me.” head back to school and their wish may come round rolls. “Keep doing it until it’s a per“No.” He closes it and I nofect round shape.” true once Parker sells his restaurant to the tice the corner of his lips slightly “I know, pinching and pulling.” I sigh; handsome, arrogant Mitchel Knight. It’s either lift. “I’m mocking whoever wrote today I’m having a hard time interacting join forces with him or lose her dream. this article. There’s no way in hell with him. On one hand, I had a bad night, women like to eat alfalfa sprouts tossing and turning thinking about my parent’s altercation as it says in here. No one likes that. What you like to eat is and how Dad never said something like, “You’re not the misa subjective term. This Kwarovsky guy needs to learn what take.” or “I love you.” or… Just thinking about it brings back women like to eat, then write an article. Why are you reading the stomach pinch, heavy heart and the mass on my back this? You need to eat real food. Today’s Fitness doesn’t talk that weighs more than a car. “Can you sprinkle more flour on about fitness, only diets.” top, please?” “You’re so not reading my other magazines.” I don’t even “Where are you today?” I raise my gaze from the wooden understand why he’s reading this one. I should place a yelboard to his dark green eyes, trying to understand what he low tape around my office that says No Mitch Allowed. means. “I lost you yesterday, Muffin, between my family’s “Like Unique Woman?” He asks while wiggling his eyecake request and your family’s crazy scene.” brows. I feel the heat creeping through my face. “Certainly “You mean when my mother came on to you,” I stammer not. Since I don’t care about taking the quiz, ‘Does his size awkwardly. I start to regret saying it because I don’t know if matter to you?’ but I am curious about ‘The biggest O yet.’” he wants Mom and I’m about to put my foot on my mouth or “You read it, didn’t you?” what. I continue with yesterday’s events. “Dad calling her a “No, only browsed it.” He bursts into a full-blown belly slut and calling me a mistake? Or are you talking about the

sneak peek

Claudia Burgoa Standing By

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| Standing By by Claudia Burgoa | laugh. “So, little roll of dough, does size matter to you?” I place my lip between my teeth and start fidgeting with it. How can I tell him that I don’t…? I haven’t… well… The term saved by the bell fits almost to a T. Except I’m saved by his ringing phone. “What’s going on, asshole?” He answers the phone, then lifts his gaze and shakes his head. “I’m busy; I can be there in half an hour. Yes, doing my secret thing that I won’t tell you because I’m more important than you. Hey, those were your bride’s words, not mine.” Mitch places the magazine on one of the top shelves and walks around the working table to where I stand. “Half an hour, forty-five minutes. I have a few things I need to tie up before we leave for… yes, well you’ll have to repeat yourself. No, I’m not being difficult, I’m just making sure I take care of my… see you then, asshole.” I take a side-glance at him, which is difficult when he’s standing behind me. “Are you going to be okay without me?” “Wow, conceited much?” I question his sanity. Why wouldn’t I be? “Mitch, you’re leaving for the day. Yes, I’m shaken up about my parents, that’s a daily thing for me. Funny, it hasn’t happened sooner to you and you’ve been visiting for about two weeks. I’m impressed.” “That’s daily?” He takes a step back and stares at me in shock. “Yes, and that was nothing. I think my mother controlled herself because of you or maybe her alimony check is due soon. Either way, things didn’t escalate the way they normally do. Now go and talk nicely with your brother.” “My twin is being a pain in the ass; therefore, I’m entitled to be one too. As for leaving for only one day, I’m actually leaving for his bachelor party. I won’t be back until Sunday night or Monday. Will you miss me?” “No.” I take a side step to look at his face. “At least do something fun for once in your life, Hayley.” “You know,” I tell him, deciding to give my weekend a chance. “I will have fun. Tonight I’ll map out a plan to enjoy a relaxing, fun weekend outside of New York.” “Where are you going?” “That’s for me to know and for you to never find out,” I beam, thinking about buying a few things for the trip. Perhaps even a new outfit and some killer sandals—with a heel. “Who knows, perhaps next Monday you’ll find a new and improved Hayley.” We both laugh at the same time. “If it’s not on the To-Do List, it won’t happen.” “Or in my five-year plan,” I remind him. “Now, let me toss this dough away. It’s already crusty and will end up tasting like crap since you won’t be here to coach me.” “I’m curious to know what this life change will be,” he snickers. “A new pen? No, I got it, a new notebook.” “A new partner because you’re a nightmare.” “If you replace me, Muffet, I’ll make your life miserable.” “And what you’re doing right now is…” I wait for him to finish my sentence but instead he kisses my cheek. “If you really go out of town, stay safe, kid. Call me if you

need me.” I watch him leave and wonder what it is that I can do in Vegas that’ll be fun and perhaps life changing. Get kicked out of the casino for counting cards or thrown into jail. Yeah, those are about the only things I would end up doing. I can always lose my virginity to some anonymous hot guy that will search for me like Cinderella. The thought disappears as the bell announces the presence of a customer. No, instead, it’s my father and today he is dressed in a pair of slacks and button down shirt. “Hi Pumpkin,” he greets me with a smile and removes his aviator sunglasses. “How are you today?” I lift both shoulders and don’t say anything; instead I head to the kitchen for the buttercream spice muffin I saved for him earlier. “You know I love you, right?” I stare at the muffin suppressing my thoughts and my tears. “Yesterday I wasn’t very nice with your mother and I apologized to her already. She’s the mother of my little girl and deserves respect. As for you, you’re not a mistake, cupcake. You’re my little piece of heaven who keeps giving me hope and happiness.” Until the next time he decides to take another hit and call me irresponsible, useless, unreasonable or… the list can get long. “Hayley, talk to me. What’s bothering you?” I can’t, it’s jammed right in my throat and refuses to come out, ever. “Did you hear that Parker isn’t going to the wedding?” I finally find a safe subject or at least safer than talking about yesterday’s hurtful words. “You shouldn’t go, cupcake, I have a bad feeling about it.” “What can go wrong, Dad?” I slam a hand on my mouth, Hayley’s Law. I hope I didn’t unleash the Haylmageddon.

Born on the mystical day of October 30th in the not so mystical lands of Mexico City, Claudia grew up with a childhood that resembled a caffeine-injected soap opera. Seventeen years ago she ventured to the lands of her techie husband—a.k.a. the U.S.—with their offspring to start a new adventure. She now lives in Colorado working as a CFO for a small IT company, managing her household filled with three confused dogs, said nerd husband, two daughters wrought with fandoms and a son who thinks he’s the boss of the house. To survive she works continually to find purpose for the voices flitting through her head, plus she consumes high quantities of chocolate to keep the last threads of sanity intact.

ClaudiaYBurgoa.com November/December 2014

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Island Seduction

Just Destiny

Romance Heat Rating: 3

Women’s Fiction Heat Rating: 1

Adrianna DeCole

Renee Carlson stopped believing in love the moment her last boyfriend cheated on her. After swearing off men and embracing the reclusive lifestyle of island life, she prepares for a family of her own in beautiful paradise. That is until a handsome stranger arrives on the island. Warning: Sexy romantic chemistry and a beautiful, dreamy beach setting abound in this simple tale of falling love...and keeping it no matter what. Review: It was a very nice story that had an island backdrop and a very seductive quality. Renee and Jordan made a good couple even if he’s from a really rich family and Renee wasn’t. It had a lot of nice conversations and a lot of wit and charm courtesy of Renee’s sister when she chose to make an appearance. Even when a crisis and other problems arose, they stood by one another. So if you’re looking for a little sunshine and a nice story, you’ll probably like this a lot. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

Theresa Rizzo

Just Destiny is a love story wrapped in suspenseful courtroom drama. It’s about a grieving young woman, willing to risk embarrassment and possibly revealing long-held family secrets in court, for the right to conceive her dead husband’s baby, and her lawyer, best friend’s struggle to help her, despite his reservations. Review: Wow!!! Fantastic, exciting read. The synopsis doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all that this book entails. Readers will think it’s just a book about a woman who has suffered an unimaginable loss and who is fighting to keep her husband’s memory alive by using his sperm to have the child she always wanted, but it is so much more! It’s a story involving explosive secrets, loss, family, survival, and new beginnings! All of these things blended perfectly together to create a beautiful book with a very realistic ending. This was the first book I have read by Theresa Rizzo, but it certainly will not be my last! Wonderful book that captured my attention from the very beginning and kept it until I finished the last page. Readers will remember the characters long after they have finished reading Just Destiny. Reviewed by Christie Mitchum

November/December 2014

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feature sneak peek

Char Chaffin

Jesse’s Girl

Tim O’Malley returns to his home town of Skitter Lake, Ohio, to clear his name and reconnect with Dorothy Whitaker, the love of his life since eighth grade. Blamed for a destructive fire he didn’t set, only Tim and Dorothy know the truth; that Jesse Prescott, Tim’s best friend and Dorothy’s boyfriend, did the deed. Jesse died in that tragedy and years later, the town still honors him as a hero. But Tim, not Jesse, saved six people from perishing in that horrendous fire. To set the record straight and finally claim his love, Tim and Dorothy will both discover that too often the legend often outweighs the truth . . . and their family and friends will forever see Dorothy as “Jesse’s girl.” Now the need to lock Dorothy in a tight embrace, and never let go, overwhelmed him. He would have picked her up and carried her to his car, then driven her all the way back to Los Angeles just to get her away from a life he instinctively knew made her miserable. Tim remembered her folks. Wilma Whitaker had been a difficult woman when she was healthy and relatively happy. He couldn’t imagine how losing Dorothy’s dad would have twisted Wilma up inside. He must have squeezed too tightly, because Dorothy let out a breathy gasp and wriggled until he loosened his arms. She stepped backward with a blush and downcast eyes. “I really do have to go, Tim.” She raised her head and all the longing he’d already been experiencing, all the need, was plain to see on her lovely face, for about half a second. Then, her expression shuttered, she picked up her purse from the battered nightstand next to the bed where she’d laid it, and moved toward the door. Tim followed, unsure what to say even though a hundred different lines crowded his head. Stay with me. Get to know me, again. Love me, the way I never stopped loving you. They remained locked behind his compressed lips as he escorted her to the door and wished the last seven years had never happened. In the open doorway she formed a smile that fell short of her eyes. “I’m glad we got to spend a little time together, Tim.” She slipped her arms around his waist for a quicksilver hug, then stepped back before he could reciprocate. “Please give your folks my best when you get back home.” Tim flicked his eyes up to hers, then over her face, prettier than ever and without a speck of makeup. Her silky, red-blonde hair, combed back in its usual ponytail, was so unlike the current style he’d seen not only in California but here in Skitter Lake. Her dress wouldn’t have been out of place at the sock hops he remembered

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from twelfth grade. It was almost as if Dorothy Whitaker had frozen herself in time. And he suddenly knew he wouldn’t be leaving at the end of the week. He’d stick around and see what was what. For Dorothy, and maybe even for Jesse. Slowly, Tim reached out and clasped her fingers, then her wrist. Before he could talk himself out of it, he yanked her into his arms, up against his body, catching the back of her head, right below her ponytail. As her lips parted to speak, protest, whatever, he covered them with a kiss that spun out of control the instant it began. He wound an arm around her waist to anchor her tightly, but she’d already thrust her hands into his hair as she kissed him back. Tim groaned into her mouth and felt it echo back to him in the whimper she uttered that throbbed in the scant space between them. For what seemed like an eternity, he kissed her, deep, then slow, then fast, greedy, pouring years of want and desire into a single, perfect moment. If he’d ever kissed another woman like this, he couldn’t remember. He deepened the kiss even more, and felt her fingers fist reflexively in his hair. He didn’t care if she ripped it out by the handfuls, as long as she never let go.

Char Chaffin is a member of AKWRA and CNYRW, a displaced Alaskan who splits her time between Fairbanks and Upstate New York. She has three books and an anthology published with Soul Mate Publishing and is also an Acquisitions Editor for Soul Mate. She’s hard at work on her fourth novel, another anthology, and a project with her writing collective, ‘The Power of Three.’

Char.Chaffin.com


Elaine: Amazon Bestselling Author Elaine is her latest release. When she’s not writi Cajun accent upon request. Connect with

Gina: A native Texan, author Gina Hoote is a 2014 RONE Awards Finalist. Before p Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Con romance. You can find Gina on Facebook

Larissa: After teaching in the US and Jap Press), PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, is a with the prequel novella, QUICK SKETCH Atlanta with her family and Cairn Terrier, B

Linda: Writing in the bleachers of a most fever.” She writes contemporary romance finalist. Her second novel, BAYOU BOUN www.linda-joyce.com, and www.facebook

Melissa: Melissa Klein writes contempora or the struggles of a soldier returning hom rethinking the definition of hero, what it m debut novel. HER HOMETOWN HERO, r facebook.com/Melissa.Klein.Romance, a


e Calloway grew up in New Orleans with a love of cemeteries, Gothic architecture, and all things paranormal. NO GRITS, NO GLORY ing about Elementals, Fallen Angels, or Southern Ghosts, she likes to read and spend time with friends and family. She can also do a h her online at www.elainecalloway.com, on Twitter at @writerscanvas and Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorelainecalloway.

en Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Her debut historical fiction novel THE STORM AFTER publication, THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in The Linda Howard Award of Excellence for Unpublished Writers Contest and the ntest. Her most recent release TOMORROW COMES AT MIDNIGHT is a work of literary fiction with more than a touch of mystery and k at www.facebook.com/ginahootenpoppauthor and on Twitter @gina_popp

pan, Larissa loves writing sassy female characters with a penchant for trouble. The first in the Cherry Tucker Mystery series (Henery a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, and DEATH IN PERSPECTIVE follow, H, in the 2013 anthology, HEARTACHE MOTEL. Expect the fifth, THE BODY IN THE LANDSCAPE, in June 2015. She lives near Biscuit. Find her at larissareinhart.com, www.facebook.com/RisWrites, and twitter.com/RisWrites.

tly bare playground at an Air Force base in Japan where girls lined up to read pages gave award-winning author Linda Joyce “writing e about the anguish, angst, and joy of a big extended southern family. Her debut romance novel, BAYOU BORN is a 2014 RONE Award ND won 1st Place in Romance from the Southeastern Writers Association. Book three is expected in early 2015. You can find Linda at k.com/LindaJoyceAuthor, and on Twitter: @LJWriter

ary romances about everyday heroes fighting extraordinary battles. Whether facing the demands of caring for a child with special needs me, her characters take on the challenges life throws at them with perseverance, courage, and humor. Her characters will have readers means to be sexually attractive, and who deserves a happy ending. A RISK WORTH TAKING was a 2012 Maggie Finalist and is her released in October, won the Maggie Award in 2013. Connect with Melissa at www.melissakleinromance.com, on Facebook at www. and Twitter @klein_klein344.


reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

The Husband Games Jamie Farrell Romance Heat Rating: 3

A divorced mother and a young widower are united in the Most Married-est Town on Earth. Their history would make them good enemies, but their common goal of saving the town’s annual Husband Games is putting them in close quarters and sparking an unexpected attraction. Review: It was a likeable fun and enjoyable read and a very quick read. You’ll enjoy all the characters and it was a fast pace and fun read. It also had a whole lot of wit and charm you’ll enjoy. So let the games begin.! Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

Scorin’ on the Fourth of July Cassandra Carr Romance Heat Rating: 3

After Mikael signs a free agent contract with the Buffalo Storm professional hockey team, he finds himself agreeing to a part of a charity hockey tournament taking place over the Fourth of July weekend. While there, he meets Terri, the goaltender who recently backstopped the US women’s hockey team to a gold medal. He’s instantly enamored, both by her skill and her beauty, and sets out to learn more about her. Review: Nice sport novella with likable characters and it moved at a nice pace. Kind of gives you an inside view in the hockey world and all the complex situations that may surround it. There are some characters you may or may not want to get to know. But it’s a short read and you just might enjoy all the on/off drama that comes with the territory. So if you get a chance check it out. You just might be surprised. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

November/December 2014

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Share the Moon

A Groom for Christmas

Romance Heat Rating: 2

Romance Heat Rating: 3

Sharon Struth

Sophie Shaw is days away from signing a contract that will fulfill her dream of owning a vineyard. For her, it’s a chance to restart her life and put past tragedies to rest. But Duncan Jamieson’s counter offer blows hers out to sea. Duncan still finds Sophie as appealing as he had during boyhood vacations to the lake. Older and wiser now, he has his own reasons for wanting the land. His offer, however, hinges on a zoning change approval. Review: Sophie Shaw is a lifelong resident. Carter aka Duncan Jamieson, a lifelong Manhattanite, thinking about relocating. When Sophie finds out about Duncan’s real identity and the real reason he’s in town, things don’t look at all promising. But once things get worked out and they come to terms with everything, everything works out quite nicely for everybody. It’s a nice story, a little on the slow side at times, but it’s really nice and you actually like Sophie and Carter/Duncan as a, would be/ wanna be couple. So despite the obstacles, you rooted for them to get together and stay that way. So if you can handle a little nice, quiet slow read that’s really not bad, check it out. You just might be a little surprised. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

Cara Marsi

Family pressure might just make her do something crazy... When a young woman hires her hometown’s former bad boy to be her pretend fiancé for the holidays, she finds she can’t wrap up her feelings as easily as a Christmas gift. Review: When a former bad boy, pretends to be the good girl’s fiancé what could possibly go wrong? Graceanne and Jake Falco definitely made a great couple .Check out this delightful novella to find out what could go wrong. It was a fun read with thoroughly enjoyable characters and a lot of wit. Graceanne and Jake Falco definitely made a great couple you’ll enjoy. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

Her Uniform Cowboy Donna Michaels Romance Heat Rating: 3

Texas Army National Guard First Sergeant Kade Dalton never planned on becoming Harland County Sheriff or the attraction to a curvy, military-hating designer from Pennsylvania. The Yankee bombshell threatens not only his sanity, she tempts his body...and his heart. But does he have the right to saddle Brandi with his stress issues? And if so, will the town’s newest resident abandon him like others in his past? Review: Kade and Brandi made a very good couple despite the rocky start they started off on. It was a very enjoyable read and you like everybody associated with them. This is the third in the series, but it was really good. So if you get a chance, check out the series from the beginning and you probably won’t be disappointed. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

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feature sneak peek

FL Bicknell Avoid Writer’s Hell: Publishing Flame Repellents

From the irreverent mind of Faith Bicknell-Brown, a 25-plus year publishing veteran as both an editor and an author, comes an easy-to-understand and detailed guide to avoiding writer’s hell. Ms. Bicknell-Brown’s no nonsense, informal approach to the publishing world makes learning the ins and outs of this business relatively painless. She addresses many of the issues writers both new and old face, including, but not limited to, the dreaded query letter and synopsis, formatting for submissions, grammar, punctuation, writer’s etiquette, telling vs. showing, and crutch words. This book is available in both PG-13 and R-rated editions as well as print and eBook. The R-rated edition will include how to write sex scenes. You must be 18 years of age or older to purchase the R-rated edition.

In this section, we’ll go over original plots, overdone plots, character development (it’s more than buxom, blonde bombshells and hunky heroes, honey!), setting (not every hero or heroine should live in a super-rich home), sub-plots, background story, how to avoid informational dumps—the bane of every good editor—and more that all ties together neatly with a red, glittery bow on top (sparkle-sparkle). So, you have a good plot, right? Are you sure? How do you know your plot is truly original? Are you saying your idea is so unique 62 | btsemag.com


| Avoid Writer’s Hell: Publishing Flame Repellents by FL Bicknell |

editors will vie for your manuscript? I highly doubt that and here’s why. Have you ever heard someone say that every story has already been told? This is mostly true, but there are two distinct differences. One is that the stories change with the times. Once there were sweeping romances with damsels in distress; now there are novels with freaky paranormal villains and heroines who find themselves in dire straits. However, these same fiery women kick vampire ass and shoot the bad guy through the head and the gonads with awesome crossbows. The second difference is the execution of the story. Where Shakespeare gave us the drama of Romeo and Juliet, involving the Capulets and the Montagues, now there is every variation of that story line, even incorporating forbidden love in the form of gay and lesbian themes. Oh, Marsha! Oh, Charlotte! In horror fiction, there is always a monster or a demon of some sort wreaking havoc on the little unsuspecting town out in the middle of nowhere. Oh, so you write horror, eh? How do you write yours so it stands out from the rest? And what about you, dear fantasy author? Are your elves, dragons, and warriors going to shine brighter among the numerous titles already published with similar elements? Please, don’t tell me your dragon spews a variety of colorful Skittles candy while the hero dances around in a rainbow tutu. That’s not different. It’s just kinky. Are you nervously chewing your keyboard into confetti yet? Good. I really hate to say it, but most, if not all

plots, have already been done. There’s even a theory that we all draw upon a collective consciousness, so if it’s been written, sang, or invented, chances are there’s already many forms of it out there somewhere. Think I’m wrong? I’ll give you an example. A simple computer was created in 1937, but the first really big, complex one was developed in the 1945, correct? Wrong! The Antikythera Mechanism—dated to have been created around the second century BCE— was discovered in 1902 in the Mediterranean Sea. However, it wasn’t until 1971 that it was put under a special X-ray to find it was actually an ancient computer with intricate gears, springs, etc., inside it. Never assume anything in this business. Every now and then something exceptional comes along, but the consensus is that it’s the subtle nuances, the writer’s special style (bad grammar and awkward sentences have nothing to do with style), and the unique details that convert a basic plot into something riveting and entertaining, thus making it unique.

Faith’s work has appeared in many publications both small circulation and national, including Canada. Another way she express herself is through drawing and painting. Most of her themes are based on nature and fantasy. During 1999 Faith provided the cover art for Poet’s Fantasy. Her latest art project is a children’s picture book, targeting ages 7-10. Although she enjoys art, writing is foremost in her life. “My writing is like a rushing river of words within me, something that can be harnessed, but never contained.”

FaithBicknell.com November/December 2014

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Christmas at the Cove

Near Perfect

Romance Heat Rating: 3

Romance Heat Rating: 3

Rachel Brimble

More family for Christmas? Scott Walker doesn’t have time for a relationship. The sexy mechanic has career ambitions, not to mention a mother and three sisters to take care of. The last thing he needs is Carrie Jameson, the beauty he never forgot, arriving in Templeton Cove over the holidays with some unexpected news. Scott still finds Carrie irresistible, and he’s not one to shirk responsibility. Scott’s issues with his own dad make the prospect of parenthood a minefield. But if he and Carrie can overcome their fears, this Christmas could bring them the best gift of all. Review: Christmas at the Cove examines the complications of a “love at first sight” romance. Carrie and Scott are compelling characters, each with their own baggage in the form of family obligations. The idea of family is a central theme in this tale, with both main characters making serious choices to get what they truly want. I’m impressed by the author’s ability to take us into the deepest thoughts of the characters but felt there was a bit more internal monologue than was needed. I would have liked to have seen more description of the surrounding community to set the mood of the tale. The extensive description isn’t a large enough factor to put me off the book completely. Conversations were wellwritten, fitting into the story as they should but the details inserted within might distract some readers. As a whole Christmas at the Cove is a good choice if you are looking for a serious love story. Reviewed by Heather Lewis

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Ashlyn Mathews

Not one to take a chance, Lucy Badeaux takes the biggest one when she uproots herself from her hometown and moves to a different state. Too bad living next door to hunkiest of hunks, Bryce Morgan, exSupercross champion extraordinaire, is less than perfect. As the attraction between them heats up, Bryce and Lucy soon realize their agreed upon “experiment” in passion is the perfect set-up for love or . . . heartbreak. Review: Near Perfect was an easy, enjoyable, romantic read. It is a very fast paced book, and the relationship between the Lucy and Bryce develops rapidly after they are thrown together in a snowstorm. Readers can feel the sizzling attraction between the two, and I found myself cheering them on and wanting a HEA for them which by the way will be an uphill battle. While I enjoyed the book, I wish the characters had been a little bit more developed. There were parts of the story that moved a little too fast for me. However, I did enjoy the book; I just wish it would have been a bit longer. I did see that this is going to be a series, and I will definitely be reading the future books. This is the first book I have read by this author, but it won’t be my last! Reviewed by Christie Mitchum


feature sneak peek

Amber Lea Easton Dancing Barefoot

Jessica Moriarty appears to have it all—a successful career as an architect, loyal friends, a gorgeous apartment, and an onagain-off-again affair with Boston’s most eligible bachelor. Behind this “perfect” façade, Jessica hides her loss over giving up her dream career, copes with her alcoholic mother, and struggles with heartbreak. World-renowned photographer Jacques Sinclair is a man without boundaries who only needs his cameras, a backpack, and a good pair of walking shoes. Despite fame and fortune, he yearns for the woman who shattered his heart five years ago. After a chance reunion, they become ensnared in a web of conspiracy— constructed by people who want to control their lives. Jacques and Jessica struggle to reclaim their love and build a life of extraordinary possibility.

“Excuse me, do you know if Mr. Sinclair is staying in Boston tonight?” she asked. The woman looked at her as if she were a stalker. “He probably went back to New York. His gallery exhibit isn’t until next weekend.” “Back to New York?” Information overload crashed her system. So close. The same side of the Atlantic. She braced herself against the counter. “He lives in New York,” she answered as if speaking to a small, slow child. “Right. He has an exhibit next Saturday. I saw that in the article...what gallery?” She handed over her credit card and blinked at the cover again. “The Bliss Institute.” Breathing ceased again and she silently cursed Fate. Her friend Miranda owned the Bliss Institute. What was happening? Did Jacques know that? Of course not, how could he? She felt like an insane woman on the precipice of a major nervous breakdown. “Are you all right?” The woman grabbed the book and slipped it into a bag. “Perfect, never better.” She needed a martini…she’d give her life for a martini. Oblivion sounded like heaven right now. The girl handed her the receipt before stepping away as if afraid of catching the insanity bug. Six weeks. Jacques planned on being in Boston for six weeks. Laughter from upstairs halted her retreat. As if dragging her legs through mud, she walked toward the stairs. With every step, memories overpowered her. Laughing in bed with rain falling outside open windows, whispered secrets in the dark, sharing

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wine directly from the bottle, feeding each other bread with their fingertips. Him asking her to marry him, her saying yes. Her throwing it all away for reasons that now seemed meaningless. “We should go, Jacques. We’re running late. Miranda’s already at the restaurant.” A stick-like man with shaggy brown hair and black-framed eye glasses appeared at the top of the stairs. She stood on the bottom step, one foot poised to ascend, her hand on the railing and blocking the way. She clutched the bag to her side and turned to flee. “Jess?” The quiet question stopped her descent. “Jessica Moriarty?” She gripped the railing and looked up at him. Jacques stood at the top of the stairs, blond hair falling across his forehead and skimming his ears, different from the picture on display, more like it had been when they’d known one another, shaggy and disheveled. Emerald eyes snapped with fire as his gaze raked over her from head to foot. A cobalt blue shirt had been stuffed into black jeans, half in the waistband and half out as if he simply didn’t give a damn. He’d rolled the sleeves to his elbows, exposing tanned forearms, and a leather bracelet twisted around his left wrist. He walked toward her like a predator who’d cornered his prey. Slowly...surely. Sexuality oozed from his pores with every step he took. Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. In addition, Easton works as an editor, freelance journalist, and professional speaker. She speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood. She currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and also publishes paranormal erotic romance under the name Dakota Skye.

AmberLeaEaston.com


reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Audrey’s Promise Susan Sheehey Romance Heat Rating: 3

Audrey Allen is poised to become the youngest Texas senator, nicknamed, Peacemaker. But she’s unable to make peace with many in her hometown, where memories and grudges run deep from a decade-old tragedy. Ethan Tanner, an ambitious journalist, joins her at Thanksgiving for an in-depth look with a not-entirelyhonorable agenda. Ethan could stir up trouble for her budding career, or awaken her deeply buried passions. Will Ethan value love more than getting the story? Review: Audrey’s Promise by Susan Sheehey is a contemporary romance novel. Audrey had left her past behind 10 years ago when she left her home to go to college. Ever since then she has been trying to make a difference in other people’s lives, which is why she was running for Texas Senator. Ethan was simply looking for his big break and the opportunity to move to New York and saw the potential in Audrey’s return trip home. This was an easy to read novel with interesting plot and intriguing characters. Unfortunately, while Audrey and Ethan had interesting interactions their romantic relationship felt forced. I was more interested in the scandal that caused the town to turn their back on Audrey than I was in the brewing romance. Even though this novel had its faults, I can still see many people enjoying this story and Sheehey’s writing style. Reviewed by Stacie Carrier

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream Chaperoning Paris Victoria Pinder Romance Heat Rating: 3

Gigi Dumont never forgot how she walked away from the only man she

ever loved. She’s a teacher who has led her students to the finals of an international French competition to be help in Paris. The night before the trip, the principal tries to cancel the trip before he, in turn, loses his job to her high school boyfriend, Sean Collins. Sean Collins has survived cancer, a divorce, and Gigi having aborted their child back in high school. He assumed he’d hate her, if they ever crossed paths again. But he discovers she’s exactly what he wants. Review: Chaperoning Paris was a good contemporary read. There were a few times when it seemed to fall short, and I walked away from it for a few days. Gigi is a sweet female lead, whose mother should’ve been turned into the police years before. Sean is a hot alpha millionaire, who is recovering from cancer. The story was pretty well written, and loved how the students took part in some of the “romancing”, so they weren’t just fixtures in the background of the book. There’s a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in, with Gigi’s mother still creating chaos even in death. There is a twist at the end I hadn’t seen coming, which makes the chemistry between a few of the characters understandable. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good contemporary read. Reviewed by Shannon Ferguson

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reviews contemporary | romance | mainstream

Adam’s Ambition Monica Tillery Romance Heat Rating: 3

Forever and for Always Ed Stuteville

Women’s Literature Heat Rating: 3

Oldest son Adam Whitman never planned to take his place at the helm of the family business, and he’s living the life he always wanted. When his father asks him to come home to consider his options, he reluctantly leaves his high-powered job in Los Angeles and heads to Emerald Springs, determined to help his father make the transition to retirement and quickly get back to his own life. What he didn’t count on was the pull of the one person he’d left behind to chase his dreams.

Jeff and Susan Long had a charmed life for years. Separated by ten years in age, they found an uncommon love and built a love story that lasted for over 28 years. Bipolar Disorder, and Breast cancer together in this poignant story of how we all can find love in the strangest of places—like the bowling alley; a picture is painted of true love that is meant to last Forever and For Always.

Review: Torn between an ambition to be an influential figure in a big city and being an honor-bound son, Adam Whitman is a relatable character leaving his sleepy hometown to live the life of a high-powered broker in Los Angeles. When his father calls him back home he comes, keeping one foot in the glamorous world of LA while the other one is entrenched in his family’s business. His high school sweetheart, Zoe Miller, comes into the picture. The narration attempts to spark a romance between Adam and Zoe but the embers fizzle never transitioning their relationship into an engrossing affair. Hurt feelings and regrets are told to the reader through the characters private reflections, but the exposed wounds feel flat, never penetrating the audience’s emotions. Zoe and Adam each display independent spirits capable of living without the other. Their happiness doesn’t rely on one another but derived from their service to others.

Review: Forever and for Always is a real-life type of romance with all the problems that all real life romances have. Written in first-person point-ofview from four different perspectives, it appears that the story will become a tangle of opinions and emotions, but that’s far from the truth. Mr. Stuteville coordinates the voices well and the story is seamless in its telling. Each narrator tells their part of the story as it affects them and the parts add up well. I was taken with the portrayal of mental illness and its effects on the characters. The entire family suffers and the author has communicated this extremely well. Jeff’s bluntness is quite refreshing in the novel. His first admission of “I am not a great man” tells so much when in fact we only scratch the surface. It takes fifty years to find the real Jeff. Forever and For Always is a good choice for those looking for a sentimental love story to remind them of their own.

Reviewed by Susan Frances

Here I am, As if to confound myself, Just as I ever was. Seemingly little more Than an excited dervish, Forever chasing shadows, Knowing that, Come what may, Beauty will continue To throng around me, Till I am no more. What was it I never told you? For isn’t it true that, Without fear, We are capable of anything… The smell of fresh rain, Like gunpowder on the lawn, Embellishes the day, As the summer rips on. And we can but wonder As, flawless, Early morning moisture, Stranded on a leaf, Glints in the sunshine. The world watches And waits for us, it seems… As if to suggest tis best To have an unquiet response To the nature of things. So drink deep of your sorrows, Drink deep of your joy And then love and live restlessly For as long as the charged ache In your spirit allows. www.scotthastie.com

Reviewed by Heather Lewis

November/December 2014

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stories short reads

“There goes Alfie, starting out on his rounds,” Alfie heard Madge say. She didn’t even try to hide the contempt in her voice, he noted. Alfie felt himself blushing but pretended not to hear the antique dealer. He continued to amble along The Place, checking dumpsters and likely looking garbage cans. Every day at ten o’clock he would come out on The Place, say, “Stay, Duke,” to his scruffy-looking dog, and put the padlock on the door of his shop. Then he would wander vaguely down the street as though he had no fixed destination. He always wore the shabby tweed jacket with grease stains on the sleeves and trousers that bagged permanently at the seat and knees. His only shirt, of indeterminate hue, had at last disintegrated. His face would have looked vacant if not for his slightly pained expression. He looked as though his feet hurt him, which, in fact, they did; it was rare he could find shoes big enough to fit him at Goodwill. He always managed to look as though he had shaved the day before but not that morning. He was forty-one, but gaunt; most people would guess nearer fifty. The change in the neighborhood bewildered Alfie. He knew The Place had once been fashionable, but that was back at the turn of the twentieth century. During the Depression, the area had dwindled to boarding houses. In Alfie’s time it was called a blighted neighborhood, if not a slum.

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| Restoration | Now, The Place had been rediscovered. Alfie saw signs of this now as he passed dwelling after dwelling. The house Madge owned had the first floor restored—the shop and a few rooms in back; the rest was uninhabitable. The house next to Madge’s was completely gutted. Joe, the schoolteacher-turnedantique-dealer, had replaced the roof of his building and done the tuck-pointing, whatever that meant thought Alfie. He had heard them all—the dealers, young married couples—talking restoration and raving over things like dormer windows, mansard roofs, and marble mantels. Alfie belonged to that remnant of the old neighborhood which had survived the new influx and increase in real estate value. Alfie was a junk dealer— not “junque” as in “Antiques and Junque”—but junk. As Alfie approached Steve’s place, he ducked his head and would have passed by if Steve had not hailed him. Steve was the only friend Alfie had among the new residents. Steve didn’t act as if he looked down on the junk dealer. Not like that Gertrude Steve he was talking to now. She struck terror into Alfie’s soul. She looked like a sweet little old blue-haired lady from the Historical Society. He’d seen them around giving tours of the neighborhood and Doc Willoughby’s old place. But when Gertrude opened her mouth any resemblance to a sweet little old lady or even to a sweet anything disappeared. Alfie had heard the other dealers say that Gertrude would sell her own mother’s coffin plate for a buck. She demonstrated her superiority to Alfie now by giving a snort, turning on her heel, and heading back to her own shop. Alfie stood diffidently, first on one foot, then the other, waiting for Steve to speak. Steve glared at Gertrude’s retreating back for a moment before turning his attention to Alfie and saying, “Well, Alf, how’s business?” Alfie smiled slightly and shook his head slowly from side to side. “It’s all right, Steve. She don’t bother me none. But you been real nice, and I want you to know I ’preciate it.” Steve averted his eyes and shifted his gaze to the window of his shop. He straightened the sign that hung on his door. He muttered something about being embarrassed for his colleagues. Then he said with a forced laugh, “Take Madge, now. She looks down her nose at all the rest of us because her specialty is Royal Doulton china. But,” he said quickly, “where are you heading? Your usual rounds?” “No. I’ve bought an estate,” he said, feeling as though he would burst. “Remember me telling you 74 | btsemag.com

about my friend Miss Harriet?” “The lady who worked at the Farmers’ Market?” “That’s the one,” Alfie said, nodding. He was pleased that Steve called her a lady. “She died here awhile back.” “I’m sorry,” said Steve gently. “Yeah, well. Caught a bad cold and living in that old carriage house. . .” Alfie shook his head. “Anyways, I didn’t want no stranger pawing over her things, so I bought ’em. I’m on my way over there now.” “Let me know if you need any help—the truck or anything.” “Thanks. I will,” said Alfie. Alfie continued along The Place until he came to a boulevard. There he turned right and went for several blocks until he came to an alley. Alfie turned down the alley and walked toward the gate with the honeysuckle growing over it. It was here in this alley that he and Miss Harriet had met, he recalled. Alfie had been gleaning the garbage cans, as was his custom. Miss Harriet, in the act of emptying her trash, had helpfully pointed out promising trash bins. A friendship had grown up between the two, based on their reduced circumstances and a mutual respect for each other’s privacy. Miss Harriet, as Alfie always politely called her, would bring home the “tired” limp vegetables and aging fruit from the market and share these with Alfie. He repaid her by running errands for her. When she died, Alfie felt as if he should Do Something, so he mortgaged his shop and bought her estate. He hadn’t any competition. None of the antique dealers would have touched it. They would consider it beneath them, just as they did Alfie. The bank was only too glad to mortgage a piece of property that was increasing in value. They probably hoped he would be unable to pay, and they’d be able to force him out. So nothing had stood between Alfie and Miss Harriet’s treasures. As he followed the brick walk to the entrance of the carriage house, Alfie reflected that this would be the first time he had entered Miss Harriet’s house. Theirs had been an outdoor relationship. Stepping over the threshold, he was conscious of a feeling he’d never before put into words, but one he’d known instinctively all along: Miss Harriet had been a lady. The carriage house swallowed up her meager possessions, but what few pieces she had reflected better days. Alfie noted the quilt on the neatly made bed. He had seen it once hanging on the line to air. He fingered it gently. It was made of odd-shaped pieces of velvet, stitched together with no apparent pattern.


| Leslie S. Talley | A “crazy quilt,” Miss Harriet had called it. He walked to the center of the room and inspected the round oak table; it shone under its new layer of dust. As his eyes roamed the room, they fell on the old wardrobe in the corner. A huge thing, it reached almost to the ceiling. The daylight that filtered through the curtains enabled him to see that it was elaborately carved. The wood was a hue unfamiliar to him—reddish with a faint purple cast to it. Its glow seemed to come from within. Now Alfie knew nothing about antiques, but he knew his junk. He had picked over other people’s leavings for so many years that when confronted with quality, he recognized it at a glance. Alfie stood transfixed. He stroked his chin. He would have to think about this awhile.

him to the Reading Room with his books. So absorbed was he in turning the pages, he didn’t see the security guard enter. Did people really live like this? So surrounded by beautiful things. Alfie had never encountered anything in real life to match the beauty of the pictures. A hand fell on his shoulder. “All right, buddy, move along. Not allowed in here with no shirt. This isn’t a charity ward for you to sleep in. Go to the mission if you need to get out of the cold.” Alfie saw an enormous guard towering over him. “But. . . .” Alfie said. “Come quietly, now,” the guard said, taking Alfie by the elbow. Alfie found himself once more outside the library in the cold.

Alfie did something he hadn’t done in years: he took a bus downtown. He sat toward the rear of the bus; he gazed out the window but didn’t really take in what he saw. He gave himself over to the swaying of the bus. The bus lurched as it pulled away from a stop; it jerked Alfie back to his surroundings. He noticed the bus was now full. He half rose in his seat to offer his place to an older woman who was burdened with packages. She averted her eyes, and, gathering her skirts closer around her, moved away slightly toward the front of the bus. Alfie felt himself blushing for the second time that day. He looked quickly around to see if anyone had seen. Bland faces met his gaze. He pulled the cord and left the bus two blocks before his stop. He walked briskly back to the main library; it had grown colder, and he had only his tweed jacket which wasn’t lined. He entered the library with the intention of seeing what he could find about the wardrobe. He had no idea where to begin, but he knew he was in the right place. He knew he would have to ask someone. He picked out an older lady seated behind a desk in the Reference Room. Alfie liked the way her hair waved back into a bun with wisps escaping here and there around her face. She reminded him of a Sunday School teacher he had once had in his dimly remembered past. Alfie breathed with a deep sigh as she smiled at him and got up briskly to find what he wanted. “Let’s look in the card catalog, shall we? Under ‘Antiques’ or ‘Furniture,’” she said. He had come to the right person. He pulled his tweed jacket closer around him. The librarian pointed

Alfie sat in his dark shop, absently rocking from side to side in his swivel chair. A bare light bulb hung from the ceiling and seemed to be in motion; it cast weird shadows on the walls and inventory. The swaying

movement highlighted the strange assortment of odds and ends that lay strewn on surfaces and on the floor. Unidentifiable pieces of metal jostled with doorknobs, rusty hinges, sinks, wooden posts, and old keys. A thick layer of dust covered this conglomeration. Duke lay on the floor; he gnawed at a raw spot on his left hind leg. Alfie came out of his reverie, reached down, and patted the dog. “You still worrying that spot, Duke?” He gently stroked the dog’s muzzle. “We’re both licking our wounds, aren’t we, old fellow?” Alfie had been accustomed for years to blend into his background; he rarely left his neighborhood. He November/December 2014 | 75


| Restoration | should have been prepared for today’s experience by the attitude of the people on the street. How had he never noticed that he had drifted downward—just like the neighborhood? Which world did he belong in? Not the new one—with Gertrude, Joe, and Madge . . . and Steve. Steve. Alfie stopped swiveling. Then he turned out the light, said, “Stay, Duke,” exited the shop, and put the padlock on the door. He walked purposefully down the street to Steve’s shop, which was located next to the corner pub. Steve’s shop was on the ground floor of a three-story townhouse. He lived on the third floor and used the second for storage. “That way I only have to lug everything up and down one flight of stairs instead of two,” he had explained to Alfie. “And if the roof leaks, the antiques are protected.” Steve was engaged in refinishing a table when Alfie entered. “Hey, Alf,” he said, straightening. “How’d you do today? Find any sleepers?” he added. Alfie shifted his feet. “Can you come?” he blurted out. “There’s something . . . I think I might just have something. . . . If you could take a look.” Steve wiped his hands on an old rag. The teasing look Alfie had noted a moment ago had vanished. He looked businesslike and enormously capable to Alfie. Sure, Alfie,” he answered at once.

“Better not leave it here unprotected,” Steve said. It had taken both of them, plus three winos, to transfer the wardrobe from the carriage house to Steve’s truck and to Alfie’s shop. Steve had gone back to his own shop, reappearing in a moment with several lamps and three antique books: Guide to Nineteenth Century Furniture, Victorian Furniture, and Cabinet Making. Alfie traced the lettering in Victorian Furniture. The same book he had been turning the pages of when the security guard threw him out of the library. Steve placed lamps strategically in the background. He began a minute inspection of the piece of furniture. Alfie stood in the background waiting for Steve’s verdict. Steve was 76 | btsemag.com

over six feet tall, but he had to stand on a chair to inspect the top. He opened the doors, tested the fit. He took out drawers and ran his hands lovingly over the scrollwork. He bewildered Alfie with words like “patina” and “laminated.” Even the name of the piece was a French word: armoire. “Arm-war,” Alfie repeated carefully. Steve glanced quickly at Alfie. “Come here, Alfie. Look at the detailing. See the figures in the carving? The fruit? The lacework? Feel it, Alfie.” He took the junk dealer’s hand and placed it against the side. “Feel the finish, Alfie.” Alfie ran his hand over the surface. “What kind of wood is this?” “Rosewood. The Victorians practically razed the rosewood forests for furniture.” “It’s beautiful! Beautiful,” Alfie murmured. “And look here, Alfie,” said Steve, diverting his attention to the back. “It’s signed! By John Henry Belter himself.” “Is that good?” “Good! Belter was probably the most famous cabinetmaker of the last century, and he specialized in chairs. This could be a rare find. I don’t find anything like it in my catalogs.” Alfie regarded Steve affectionately. His confidence had not been misplaced. If he had shown the piece to any of the other dealers, he would have been cheated. Steve would never get rich at the antique game. “I’ll have some of the other dealers take a look,” said Steve. “Then maybe we should consult an auctioneer.”

Alfie surveyed his shop silently. He had straightened up as best he could; he had swept the floor, even dusted off several chairs for his guests to sit on. There was Coke in the icebox, and he had bought a box of chocolate chip cookies. He wished things looked better but hoped maybe the poor lighting would hide the dinginess. Besides, they’d only be interested in the wardrobe. As he fidgeted around the shop, he noticed Duke, too, pacing the floor beside him. “Not used to company, are we, old fellow?” Alfie said, stooping to pet his head. Except for the occasional down-and-outer who slept on the floor when it got cold nights. The expected knock fell on the door. Smoothing his hair with spit, Alfie opened the door for his guests. On the sidewalk stood Steve and three other antique


| Restoration | dealers: Joe, Madge, and Gertrude. Those three wore sour expressions, Alfie noted. They didn’t want to be there; Steve must have twisted their arms. Alfie bowed to his guests with old-world courtesy and ushered them into the room. Joe ignored Alfie’s outstretched hand. Madge and Gertrude huddled together. Alfie heard Gertrude give a short crack of laughter as he bustled around setting out chairs. “G-O-D,” said Madge in an ill-concealed undertone. Steve gripped Alfie’s shoulder in a companionable way. His eyes silently pleaded with Alfie to ignore their rudeness. Alfie held out a chair for Gertrude. “No, thanks,” she said frigidly. An awkward pause ensued, broken by Steve saying, “Well, I suppose you can’t wait to see the armoire.” The group moved over to the back of the shop where the armoire, covered by sheets, stood by itself away from the clutter of the shop. Steve whipped the sheets off with a flourish. Like a magician, thought Alfie. Alfie heard Joe suck in his breath. Gertrude moved forward and with a trembling hand, stroked the side. The corners of Madge’s mouth turned down. “Very nice, I’m sure,” she managed to say. She sounded as if the words choked her. Gertrude and Madge backed away; they gathered their coats around them snugly. They turned to Steve. “We’ve seen enough,” Madge said. Joe said nothing. He still inspected the armoire as if he were trying to memorize the carving. Gertrude tugged at his sleeve. He turned reluctantly to go. Steve remained behind after the others had left. No one had thumped Alfie on the back and congratulated him on his find. “They’re pea-green, Alf,” Steve said. Maybe so, Alfie thought, but jealousy didn’t completely explain their attitudes.

News of the find electrified the antique world. Alfie found himself courted by different factions. He was offered money—a lot of money. The rest of the dealers held themselves aloof from these proceedings. They seemed to have no desire to share vicariously in the find. All except for Steve. Steve was having a great time fanning the flames, Alfie noticed with amusement one night at the pub. Alfie was seated unobtrusively in a dark booth next to the dealers’ table. He listened to Steve as he expounded 77 | btsemag.com

the possibilities of the sale. “Sotheby’s has offered to auction it for him . . .” he said. Gertrude snorted. “The Smithsonian wants it, too, but the city museum thinks it ought to stay here,” Steve added. “What do you think, Madge?” he said, turning to her. There was a moment of silence. Then, “You want to know what I think? I’ll tell you! It just galls me that that scroungy little man is the one who found it!” Madge shouted at Steve. “That scroungy little man, as you call him, recognized instinctively that he had an extraordinary piece. You, ducky, would probably have sold it for five hundred bucks to some housewife from the suburbs,” Steve said. “Are you saying I don’t know my business?” asked Madge, half rising from her chair. “Oh, can it, Madge,” said Gertrude. “You wouldn’t know Belter if his factory fell on top of you.” Alfie sat silent, sinking deeper into the gloom afforded by the booth. What was it that made them so damn superior? When he could do so, Alfie slipped quietly away. He pondered off and on for several days. The net result of his reflections was a round of the antique stores on The Place. Alfie ignored the startled glances of the dealers. He had never before presumed to enter their shops. He made no comments. He merely browsed. “God knows, plenty of other people do the same,” Alfie heard Gertrude say to Madge. “If we didn’t buy from each other, we’d starve to death,” Madge agreed. Alfie came back to his shop and surveyed his stock. What he had seen in those other antique shops was unidentifiable pieces of metal, old keys, doorknobs, rusty hinges, and wooden posts.

Alfie strode down The Place toward his shop. He slowed momentarily as he spied Madge, Gertrude, and Joe peering in his window. Alfie grinned. Steve had said their curiosity would overcome them, and he was right. Alfie coughed. All three dealers jumped in unison. They turned to face Alfie and stared. Alfie, feeling a little self-conscious, tugged at the collar of his brand new JCPenney shirt. He wore a new pair of slacks, too. The old tweed jacket was the same, but it had made a trip to the dry cleaners.


| Restoration | “Excuse me,” said Alfie and stepped to his padlock. Duke greeted his master affectionately; he looked spruce, too, with his new collar and shining coat. He bristled somewhat when he saw the others behind his master. They quickly scattered. Alfie watched them go and then turned to the window of his shop. There, gleaming from its new polish, stood the armoire. Alfie read the sign Steve had helped him with: By John Henry Belter, circa 1860. For display only. Not for sale. His eyes traveled to the brand new lettering on the door. “Alfred’s Restoration Supplies,” it announced. With a smile, Alfie entered his shop. Soon the bell over the door rang, heralding a customer. “Yes, sir?” said Alfie. “What can I do for you?” “I’ve bought an old house about six blocks away, and I’m restoring it,” the man answered. “I need some doorknobs that fit in with the style of the house.” “Yes, sir, right over here. Brass or china? Now this,” said Alfie, “came from a mansion on Hanley Road that they tore down a few months ago.” “Really?” the man replied, his eyes lighting up. “I’ve got lots of other things you might be interested in, too. Pedestal sinks, stained glass, gas lighting fixtures, ceiling moldings . . . ”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Leslie Talley received her BS in Nursing from the University of Kentucky and a BA and MA in English from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, where she subsequently taught, as an adjunct, Technical Writing and Business Writing for ten years. Leslie and her husband, Luke, have two children: Terri Talley Venters, Wild Child author of Carbon Copy, Tin Roof, Body Of Gold and Copper Cauldron; and Damon Talley, video conference lead at Harris Corporation. Leslie and Luke have lived in Titusville, Florida, for forty-five years. Make Old Bones and Bred In The Bone are both available from Wild Child Publishing, amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com. Purchase links can be found on her website: http://www.makeoldbones.com/.


Historical | Western | Period Fiction

once UPON a TIME

HISTORICAL & WESTERN

Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

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

BTS HEAT RATINGS:

1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language November/December 2014 | 79


more beyond the books

HotHunks The

of

HISTORY Christy English

Historical Holidays My favorite time of the year is Christmas. I love watching the year turn, midwinter come, and the sun begin to return on the solstice. These traditions have been celebrated in England and France for millennia in many different ways.

November/December 2014 | 81


| The Hot Hunks of History | Today, we celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, but we have held onto some of the historic traditions of the Celtic people. One of these is the Yule log.

hunky consort, brought the tradition with him from Saxe-Coleburg, and it was a huge hit. Soon, every Christmas Eve, people of wealth were tying presents for the children to the evergreen tree in their drawing room, along with tinsel, colored ribbons, and candles for light. To my modern eyes, this version of the Christmas tree looks like a fire hazard, but no doubt it was also a great joy to the children and to the whole family on Christmas Day.

In medieval France and England, during the twelve days of Christmas, a great log would be brought into the keep, and it would stay burning throughout the festivities. This tradition was to celebrate life in the midst of winter, and it was also a way of letting go of the past year’s bad luck, which would burn away with the great log, leaving nothing but ash. In France, a chocolate pastry, the Buche de Noel, is still consumed in honor of this.

Whatever your own holiday traditions, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a blessed New Year.

Another tradition at the holidays from old England is the gathering of mistletoe. These clusters of berries and greenery remind us even in the depth of winter that spring is coming, and that life is renewed. During the Victorian period, and even now, when we hang

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST

mistletoe, it offers a chance for lovers to kiss or for a gentleman to steal a kiss from an unsuspecting lady. So what, you may ask, does all this have to do with the Hot Hunks of History? Which brings me once again to Victorian England, and the introduction of the Christmas tree. Prince Albert, young Victoria’s 82 | btsemag.com

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


reviews historical | western

Better She Die

Arizona Gold

Western Romance Heat Rating: 3

Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

Judy Baker

In 1858, Clare Rose Coulson is kidnapped by a band of Apache Indians after they murder her husband, her father, and best friend. Four years later, Captain Drury Burchett, a Texas Ranger, rescues Clare Rose and her half-breed son. Only, the beautiful redheaded woman is angered by her rescue. What makes this woman so strong in her beliefs and needs to defend the Indians? Review: After being kidnapped by Indians, Clare Rose learns the true meaning of compassion, survival, and love. The question is, can other individuals in her life learn to do the same? From the dawn of civilization, people of other cultures have persecuted each other for their perceived differences. This book explores the conflicts between the Indians and the white men. I liked this book until the end. Throughout the book it was clear how passionate the two main characters were together. After really looking forward to a redeeming ending, I felt the story did not meet my expectations, after all the foreplay that took place between those characters. This issue only mildly detracts from the overall enjoyment of the book. Perhaps this was purposefully done as a tempting cliffhanger. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story with a strong female lead.

Maggie James

On the hunt for a killer, they find passion along the way… Left all alone after her mother’s death, Kitty Parrish receives word that her beloved uncle has been murdered in far-off Arizona. With nothing left to tie her to her hometown, Kitty embarks on a long journey to Arizona in search of revenge. Handsome half-breed Ryder McCloud is on a mission of his own. His father was half-owner of a gold mine, and both he and his partner— Kitty’s uncle—were murdered as a result. Worse yet, it seems they took the location of the gold mine to the grave with them. Desperate to claim his birthright, Ryder anxiously awaits the arrival of the one person who may have the key—Kitty Parrish. Review: A passionate, captivating tale of trust, revenge, love and romance. Half Breed, Ryder McCloud and Kitty Parrish find more than they expected in this fast paced adventure. Well written with an intriguing cast of characters and a captivating storyline.  This was my first time reading this author, and I look forward to more of her tales of romance and adventure. Reviewed by April W

Redeemed by a Rebel Cynthia Woolf

Western Romance Heat Rating: 3

Jake would give his life to protect Becky, but all he can offer her is a broken heart, a criminal’s life, and a past haunted by failure. How can he save her when he’s already lost himself? Will he destroy everything, or can the beautiful rebel redeem Jake’s lost soul? Review: Jake Anderson was strongedarmed by his brother Zach after Jake killed an army officer who’d raped and shot his fiancée and left her for dead. His brother got him to his other brother and they told their side of the story. Jake knew who’d done the dastardly deed and told the authorities, but the Army captain told the fiancée’s father that Jake was behind it and told that to the sheriff too, but the sheriff didn’t believe that. It was fast pace and held your attention and you rooted for the brothers to get the justice that they deserve and justice for Jake’s former fiancée. When Jake meets Becky, his new love, they made a really good couple and one who stood by one another no matter what and they really did belong to one another so if you get a chance, check it out. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

Reviewed by Sally A. Wolf

November/December 2014 | 83


feature sneak peek

Valerie Bowman

The Accidental Countess For seven long years, Lady Cassandra Monroe has waited for the man of her dreams to return from the war. Unfortunately, he happens to be engaged to her flighty cousin. What Cass wouldn’t give to take her cousin’s place! When he mistakes Cass for Patience Bunbury, a fictitious friend her cousin has invented to escape social obligations… even with her future husband, Cass thinks this is her chance.

“It seems Penelope has left prematurely for Miss Bunbury’s house party and in addition to missing us, she’s missed her intended, back from the war. Such a pity.” Lucy Hunt sighed dramatically. “You said you are going there,” Julian replied. “I assume that means you know where this house party is?” “Oh, yes. We know precisely where it is,” Lucy replied serenely. “Could I trouble you to give me the direction? It’s imperative that I speak with Penelope as soon as possible.” Lucy’s smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Eager to see your future bride, Captain Swift?” He tugged at his collar again. “Something like that.” Cass had to look away. This was excruciating. She couldn’t listen any longer. And what possible address could Lucy give him? It was preposterous. She’d have to come out with the truth now that he’d caught her in her lie. “I’d be more than happy to share the address with you, 84 | btsemag.com

Captain Swift.” Lucy set her teacup on the table in front of her and folded her hands on her lap. “In fact, I can do even better than that.” “Better than the address?” Julian tilted his head in inquiry. Cass’s insides went hot and cold. Suddenly, it all came together, the sly look Lucy had flashed, the failure to introduce her, the questions she’d asked Julian, the things she’d said. “Yes.” Lucy turned to Cass and splayed her hands in front of her as if displaying her for the first time. “Because this is Miss Patience Bunbury right here and we would be delighted to invite you to her house party.” VALERIE BOWMAN is an award-winning author who writes Regency-set historical romance novels (a.k.a. Racy Regency Romps) with a focus on sharp dialogue, engaging story lines, and heroines who take matters into their own hands! Valerie loves to hear from readers. Find her on the web at Facebook, Twitter, and at www.ValerieBowmanBooks.com.

ValerieBowmanBooks.com


reviews historical | western

Fallen Hopes, Taken Dreams J.M. Barlog

Native American Heat Rating: 1

It was the roaring twenties ... Their only crime was being born Native American ... Still teenagers, their dreams were taken from them when they were wrongfully committed to our nation’s only Indian insane asylum. Each had been dealt a life sentence in a place where hope was crushed and spirits destroyed. Once behind the barred windows and locked doors of the Canton Indian Insane Asylum, they would endure unspeakable abuse and torture. Death was their only escape. Review: Fallen Hopes, Taken Dreams by J.M. Barlog is a historical fiction novel that traces the life of a young Apache Indian by the name of Jimmy who is abducted from his home and taken to Canton Indian Insane Asylum in 1924. Unaware of why he may have been forced into this institution his life becomes a fight to live, maintain his sanity and one day escape back to his wife and the child she carried. J.M. Barlog wrote an emotionally packed, well researched novel with Fallen Hopes, Taken Dreams. I found myself extremely emotionally invested in many of the characters introduced within the novel and found their ingenuity and strength harrowing. All of the characters were well developed and the different perspectives given well balanced. This novel was paced well, with information and plots unfolding naturally. This is definitely a novel I would recommend to any lover of historical fiction. Though a little repetitive at times, I really enjoyed this novel. I can always tell if a historical fiction novel has affected me if I find myself wanting to research the topic after completing the story. This fits that mold. It was as intriguing as it was emotional. Reviewed by Stacie Carrier

November/December 2014 | 85


reviews historical | western

Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures Lillian Marek

Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Harry de Vaux, Viscount Tunbury, has loved Lady Elinor Tremaine for as long as he can remember—but is convinced that his past makes him unworthy of her. He agrees to accompany the Tremaine family to Italy to explore Etruscan ruins, even if it chips away at his resolve to stay away from the delightful woman he loves. The intrepid Lady Elinor is caught up in the Victorian fervor for exploring distant lands. But during her travels she is thrown back into the company of an old friend, Harry de Vaux. Amid the sightseeing and treasure hunting, Elinor comes to realize that she wants far more from Harry than friendship. But when a dangerous discovery leaves them fighting for their lives, it might just be too late... Review: Who doesn’t love a book that includes a treasure hunt, a sexy hero and a heroine with a sense of adventure? Such a joy ride of a story that will have you smiling, chuckling and having so much fun and keeping you entertained from cover to cover. Throw in the search for treasure and traveling to faraway places you have a true gem of a story. Elinor and Harry have known each other for years and he has always had strong feelings for her but never allowed himself to express them, until now. Ms. Marek has written a story that will pull you in and keeps it at a pace that you will never get bored and want more. The characters jump right off the pages and keep you totally entertained. This is one for the keeper shelf and I look forward to reading more from this author. Reviewed by Annette Stone

86 | btsemag.com


reviews historical | western

Raising Her Hopes May Williams Victorian Heat Rating: 3

When Sidney White arrives in England, he seems like the perfect man for Belinda Ferguson. She wants to love him, but first she must overcome her past before she is free to raise her hopes. Review: Such a lovely story! It is quite short but right at the beginning I fell in love with the author’s writing and her ability to bring a historical world to life. Her characters are quite intriguing and although they both have some issues to work on, they are both interesting enough that I wanted to learn more from the get go. What immediately drew me was definitely the writing. It is sweet and almost lyrical in a way but still able to get the point across. The plot may have not been way out of the box but again, it was the characters that made me want to know more. My only slight dislike was that the main characters are so against each other at the beginning. Sidney is already thinking about how he can work his way into her heart but then bashes himself mentally because he doesn’t have the time nor resources to take care of her. This was like 5 minutes after they met! Too much for me! But apparently it wasn’t because I kept reading and kept loving it. I found out this is actually the third in the series which I didn’t realize when I started reading. I don’t know if I would have put together some things easier had I read the first two but I didn’t feel like they were required to read and enjoy this one. In short: Absolutely lovely, fun romance with great characters. Reviewed by Christina Torretta

November/December 2014 | 87


feature sneak peek

Julie Mangano

Braha

Julie Mangano has been involved in the publishing industry since 1989 as a publications manager, writer, editor and art director. Braha is her first mystery. Born and raised in Southern California, she now lives in Round Rock, Texas. She is currently at work on the sequel.

productive place is in my home office. I usually write at night, sometimes in the middle of the night, because I write best when I have no distractions I same daytime writing time for research and editing, things I can do better with typical daily interruptions.

What gave you the idea for this story? I am a descendant of Germans from Russia, a group of Germans who emigrated to Russia at the invitation of Catherine the Great in the mid 1700s. It’s such an unusual story, and yet I never heard much about it outside of my family. I thought it could be very interesting to combine the history of my family with a mystery. Why did you start writing historical mystery? You write what you love. Given my love for history and mystery, there was never a question about what kind of book I would one day write. Which is your favorite genre to read? This should come as no surprise: mysteries and thrillers. The more complex they are, the better. I love how there is always an unexpected twist close to the last page of Harlan Coben’s novels. It’s like the author’s final “gotcha” to his or her readers. Now I try to mentally prepare myself for those last minute surprises, and I love it when it turns out I am thinking the same way as the author. What is your best advice to aspiring novelists? Don’t give up your dream to write. Even if you have another job to pay the bills, write when you have time. I always have a notebook in the car and I’ve been known to send myself emails from my phone with bits of text and dialogue that hit me when I’m away from my computer. Pull all your different pieces of information together and organize it with a writing program like Scrivner. Then when you have the time, write, research, and create.

A finely-crafted tale of two unforgettable women, born centuries apart, whose lives of secret parallel danger coincide in a suspenseful saga...a story that reaches down through the ages following decades of intrigue, spying, and murder to culminate in a shocking yet satisfying finale.

Where do you write? I write in different places, based on what’s going on in my life, but the most

JulieMangano.com

90 | btsemag.com


reviews historical | western

The Rake’s Handbook Sally Orr

Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

Pistols & Petticoats

Barbara Ankrum, Adrienne deWolfe, Sharon Ihle Romance Anthology Heat Rating: 3

The definitive guide to seduction… The Rake’s Handbook was written on a dare, and soon took the ton by storm. Now its author, Ross Thornbury, is publicly reviled by the ladies—who are, of course, forbidden to read the handbook— but privately revered by the gentlemen. Unfortunately, Ross’s notoriety is working against him and he flees London painfully aware of the shortcomings of his own jaded heart. Spirited young widow Elinor Colton lives next to Ross’s country estate. She’s appalled not only by his rakish reputation, but also by his progressive industrial plans. Elinor is sure she is immune to Ross’s seductive ways. But he keeps coming around…impressing her with his vision for England’s future and stunning her with his smiles. How does one resist the man who wrote the manual on love? Review: Fun, entertaining and such an enjoyable read that I could not put it down. I loved the characters and their interaction. There was some laughing at their encounters in their first encounters before they knew who each other were. The story gives a look into a time when the aristocracy did not mingle in trade and Ross has no issues with not being your normal peer. As for Elinor she will do what she must to protect her land at any cost. Ms. Orr’s debut novel will most definitely not be her last hit, I look forward to reading more from her soon. The Rake’s Handbook is well written and keeps you engrossed until you realize you have reached the end.

From bestselling authors Barbara Ankrum, Adrienne deWolfe and Sharon Ihle come three fresh novellas, featuring three firebrand ladies, each determined to make her mark while making her match. ETHAN’S BRIDE sequel to Chase The Fire (Wild Western Hearts, Book 4) SHADY LADY - prequel to Devil in Texas (Velvet Lies, Book 4) BAREBACK BRIDE - sequel to The Bride Wore Spurs (The Inconvenient Bride Series, Book 1 Review: Three stories, three heroines and their heroes, who captured your attention in a very likable and quick way to adventure. Even, if Daddy wasn’t happy about it at the time, for one of the heroines in question. The stories were enjoyable and you rooted for everyone to be with the one they were meant to be with. So if you get a chance, check it out. You may find you actually like it a lot. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

Reviewed by Annette Stone

November/December 2014 | 91


reviews historical | western

Wolf’s Castle Madelyn Hill

Gothic Romance Heat Rating: 3

Can he forget the past and embrace the future? He’s the beast of Lomarcan Castle. Tortured, angry, and bound and determined not to allow Vivian Stuart to invade his lair. Lord Galen Maclean refuses to be endeared to the lovely woman who has landed on his island looking to study alchemy. The island possesses secrets, secrets too horrid to share with the gentle woman. However, her beguiling nature brings light to the darkness of the castle and edges into his heart. Review: Exhibiting influences of Beauty and the Beast, Madelyn Hill weaves a dramatic tale about a lone wolf who is enchanted by a woodland sprite, figuratively speaking. A historical Scottish romance, the story is shrouded in gothic images with an imposing stone castle fraught with dark foreboding corridors and hidden passageways. Born with an adventurous nature and an analytical mind, Vivian Stuart embarks on her father’s mission to learn about alchemy from Lord Galen Maclean. Wishing to keep his hurt feelings guarded, he pushes Vivian away from seeking the knowledge he has on the subject. Their shared interest in alchemy threatens to manifest into deeper feelings in Galen, desires which he equates with hurt. Vivian’s scientific leanings make her a modern and capable figure while Galen is a pure gothic type, vacillating between repressing love and allowing its charms to penetrate his armor. Each makes audiences enthusiastic about gothic romances. Reviewed by Susan Frances

92 | btsemag.com


reviews historical | western

A Rake by Any Other Name

Highland Deception

Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Mia Marlowe

When his father, Lord Somerset, tumbles off the roof, Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, is called home from his Grand Tour to take the reins of the estate while the Marquis recuperates. Somerset is in serious financial difficulty, which can only be remedied by marriage to an heiress, Miss Sophie Goodnight, lately arrived from India with her nabob father. Review: If you are looking for fun, exciting and an all-around good read then Mia Marlowe has the story for you. Right from the beginning she has you engaged in the story of the two main characters Richard and Sophie and she doesn’t let go. Sophie is so set on making sure Richard has no interest in marrying her that some of the things she does will have to chuckling. I always enjoy a great historical tale and Ms. Marlowe does not disappoint. I will admit there were a couple slow spots for me but it picks right back up and pulls you right back in. I would suggest to anyone to give this book a try and get drawn into the world that has been created and go back in time. Reviewed by Annette Stone

Meggan Connors

Long ago, Kenneth Mackay was betrayed by his twin. Now that his brother is dying, he plans to give Kenneth back the life he lost. All Kenneth has to do is assume his brother’s identity. But complicating matters is the return of his brother’s unwanted wife. Falling in love with her husband had never been Isobel’s plan. But when she finds their future imperiled, she must save him from the deception tearing them apart. Review: Tragedy is forthcoming in every crevice of the read as the forsaken Kenneth Mackay is released from exile while his brother Malcolm, the laird of the clan, prepares to meet his maker. To save his kin, Kenneth must act in his brother’s stead taking Malcolm’s place as a leader and husband to his brother’s discarded wife Isobel. Reflecting the spirit of the times when marriages were contracted to align enemies, Isobel is the daughter of an English Marquess and forsaken for her English birth. The author gives readers a sense that Malcolm and Kenneth are like night and day, one is cunning while the other is honest and would die to save his family and country. Capturing the revolutionary mood of Scotland during the attempt to restore the Bonnie Prince Charles as sovereign of England, Meggan Connors succeeds in putting the reader in the heart of the conflict. Reviewed by Susan Frances

November/December 2014 | 93


reviews historical | western

One Last Letter Pema Donyo

Historical Romance Heat Rating: 2

One Last Letter is the story of Evelyn Lancaster, a romantic hardened by reality, and Jesse Greenwood, a cowboy returning to what he left behind. The reticent cowboy returns to Texas with new wealth to save his first love’s ranch from ruin while she hopes for another chance after she was forced to spurn him years ago. Will one last letter give them the courage to say yes to love on the wild Texas plains? Review: One Last Letter was a beautiful novel, displaying both the charms and difficulties of ranch life as well as creating a strong, albeit indecisive female lead. However, certain inconsistencies in character development, as well as the logic behind some of the decisions made by the lead characters, take away slightly from the novel having a full impact on its readers. The split perspective between Evelyn, the female lead, and Jesse, the man whom she had turned away those many years ago, drains focus and a sense of mystery from the plot, and one would argue that the novel would have generated higher interested only being told from Evelyn’s perspective. Small moments of tasteful sexual tension between the main characters give an indication of their still existing bond, and they will be appreciated by readers who seek a milder romance novel. Reviewed by Raluca Topliceanu

94 | btsemag.com


Sensual Romance and Erotics of all genres, shapes and sizes

see BEHIND closed DOORS

EROTIC & SENSUAL

Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

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

BTS HEAT RATINGS:

1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language November/December 2014 | 95


trends reading trends in erotic

Heat DIVA The

BJ Gaskill

Take Your Time I think each of us want a little adventure in our books. We crave it with each book we pick up. Be it with the shifter, the vampire, or even the highlander, it doesn’t matter. We want it. To escape just for the moment, some of us even picture that we are the heroine or the hero. Reality gets to the best of us, and we rely on our authors

November/December 2014 | 97


| The Heat Diva | to bring us a venue, a means of an out, if just for a few chapters. If you are like me, you don’t want sweet and romanticized, you want hot, you want the chase, let’s get a little dirty. Bring it on! In this day and age with our busy lives the way they are, with some of us having work, school, and families, time for reading is precious. Finding it is almost like finding a hunky shifter standing on your front porch (let me know where you live should this happen). I hope that each of you try to find a bit of time no matter how little. Should you be lucky enough to find a small bit, maybe Nighttides (Bolero Books— available now) might be you answer. Ten authors, ten stories to raise your temperature. Almost all have HEAs and lots of heat. Each story is a stand-alone with no author invading the other, quick reads so that you can have your cookie and move on to your next pre-planned event in life. They are really cool too. You have your old loves and your boss falls in love with the nanny as well as a crazy shy girl falls for the library guy. There is only one that goes off the cliff, but you will have to read the book to find out which one it is. Oh, and did you just hear about the Twilight vampires to our computer screens for five short films! Do you want to bury yourself in a wolf shifter book or with a vampire that doesn’t sparkle? I swear I couldn’t believe the news myself. V.A. Dold actually has an indie series, the Le Beau Brothers, with two 98 | btsemag.com

books out right now. The first is Cade; man is he hot! I wouldn’t mind running my fingers down that chest. Oops! Manners. He is the first brother looking for his mate in New Orleans. Of course he just happens to be a billionaire and loves big beautiful women. Her second book follows Simon, the next brother who finds his mate. Oh, to be in these books. I swear the yummy factor is right up there with chocolate! As for a vampire that doesn’t sparkle, I have one that not only doesn’t sparkle, but also kills and drinks blood. Yes! The Mortal One by Shannon Bell (Indie book— available now) is so hot! Her vampire, Nico, drinks blood and can drink me anytime. I really don’t know what one thing gave this book the heat factor. Maybe it was picturing how hot Nico was through the entire book. (Amazing cover art!) Or maybe it was the passion between Dylan and Nico, or heck, maybe it was knowing that Nico actually tried to kill Dylan, and that first kiss was so freaking hot. Damn, if I can pinpoint it. Any way you look at it, this book is full of hot vamps! What? Vampires and shifters don’t really move you to the next level? Then put on your fanciest orange dress, and maybe you will be noticed by the one and only Blake Law Barrington. He just happens to be the billionaire banker in Georgia Le Carre’s, Owned (Billionaire Banker, #1, Indie book—available now). He will show you who the dominant one is. He will make you his little doll. He will dress you how he chooses, feed you what


| BJ Gaskill |

he likes, and he will make you scream his name, all in one day. He does own you after all. Nothing against rich, dominant men, because I love them; however, a man in uniform gets me every time. Those boys know not only how to play hard, but how to protect what’s theirs (or what they think is theirs.) Lisa Eugene has a rather interesting book out about a Navy SEAL and a nurse. I know just putting those two together alone would make a great story line, but of course, Lisa had to throw in danger and intrigue! Check out Steal My Heart (Washington Memorial Hospital, #2, Dakota Press—available now), and see if it steals your heart and leaves you breathless! Remember books are not reality but way better than any reality show that will ever be put on television—unless some crazy executive finally reads my e-mail for the battle of new authors. Now that would be a killer show. Besides, where else but a book are you going to find a tall, wellbuilt man who wants to worship the ground you walk upon . . . No, wait! Make your dinner wearing nothing but an apron. Much better!

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST BJ Gaskill loves reading everything but self-help books, as there is no help for her. When she isn’t running her blog, Inside BJ’s Head, you can find her on Facebook stalking her favorite authors. She calls about five acres on the East Coast home and claims to have some of the best minions around. Feel free to connect with her at https://twitter.com/beejee77, https://www.facebook.com/ InsideBjsHead, http://insidebjshead.blogspot.com/.

November/December 2014 | 99


reviews erotic

The Tulpa Knight

Moving On

Her Dragon Hero

Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

Gay Romance Heat Rating: 4

Fantasy/Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

Juliet Cardin

Kallie Evander’s thoughts have made Jamie de Brock—the medieval villain from her romance novel—come to life. Unbelievable as it seems, she cannot fathom another possible explanation for the giant, handsome rogue she suddenly finds in her bedroom. Nor can she mistake the extreme attraction they have for one another. While their passion overtakes them, Kallie is not only consumed by lust, but also with guilt. Jamie is a tulpa—a thought form that has been made real by her intense concentration—and she fears he will eventually turn on her. So, while she lies in his arms and fights her growing love for him, she must also devise a way to destroy him…before it is too late. Review: What a delightful short story. The Tulpa Knight is about Kallie, who is dead set on winning her not-to-great boyfriend back. As she is preparing for Nick, the ex, to arrive a muscle bound man turns up in bedroom dressed in medieval garb professing to be Jamie, the villain from Kallie’s latest novel. Was Jamie sent by Kallie’s best friend to deter her from winning Nick back? Has Jamie come to life from the pages of her manuscript, and if so is he really the villain she thinks he is? Could a real relationship come from such a weird beginning? A fun, inventive tale of romance The Tulpa Knight, will keep you entertained from beginning to end. Reviewed by Brittany Hale

Ash Penn

Cody’s trying to move on from an abusive past relationship. New neighbour Greg is the ideal man to show him how. It’s moving day for Cody and his sister Justine. Cody’s hoping for a fresh start in a new town. He wants to remember what it is to be young, single and alive. Most of all, he wants to move on from a toxic relationship that’s resulted in crippling panic attacks, which severely limit his ability to live his life as he wishes. Review: This is the first homosexual book I have read and it was amazing! It was very easy to relate to the characters in some sort of way either on a personal level or because someone you know is like them. Justine is a very protective sister, who wants the best for her big brother. She has witnessed him become part of an abusive relationship and doesn’t want that to happen again. Cody is that big brother. He is a year out of an abusive marriage. It was not physically abusive but emotional. Cody was made to believe he was not worth anything and no other man would want him. His luck changes when the siblings move in next door to the hunk Greg. The relationship that builds between the two men is wonderful. It really teaches you to remember everyone is worth being loved and is ok to lean on close friends for comfort!! Reviewed by Michelle Mauer

Angela Castle

Red fighting dragon, Brimstone the Crusher, is dragged into the human realm, at the order of the Dragon King. A bad-assed, seven foot wall of muscle, he’d rather be killing demons than learning about humans. Yet, when he discovers his true mate in a feisty little human woman, his whole world is turned upside down. Review: I absolutely loved this book it was just that much better than the first! There were plenty of very alpha sexy and yummy dragon shifters, which I have a weakness for! Then add in some gods and a very interesting elf/ demon and you have a fantastic story full of all kinds of excitement and enough testosterone to make your heart stutter. Brimstone was fantastic, he was big, burly and gruff, and no one messes with him, except his best friend Slade who dragged him into the human realm and that was one place he definitely did not want to enter. Then he meets Amber, under not so favourable of circumstances for her, but isn’t that how it always happens? The two have an amazing chemistry and I loved all the interaction they had with one another. He is just what she needs to find her confidence again. I loved them together. I loved all of the other characters in this book as well. Slade is another dragon I would love to be able to sink my claws into. Lots of sex, action, humour, excitement and a fabulous plot. I would definitely recommend this book and I am really looking forward to what comes next in the series! Reviewed by Kim Patten

November/December 2014 | 101


reviews erotic

On Company Time Annabel Wolfe Romance Heat Rating: 4

Michael Hanover has a knack for business, and he keeps his company vision on track with strict policies. Yet one of the strictest—no interoffice romance—he’s tempted to break himself. So far he’s managed to hide his secret desire for one very beautiful, very innocent young woman who happens to work for him. As fate would have it, he gets the chance to get her alone at his house. And he’s shocked that he’s tempted to bare something other than her body—like his closely guarded heart. Review: On Company Time ramps up the dramatic tension by taking an already seductive premise and adding elements of the thriller to the mix. There are no stereotypes here, and that’s refreshing. Brooke and Michael are simultaneously confident and self-deprecating in a way that is authentic and endearing. Watching them fall in love makes the reader feel like a voyeur, but not the creepy kind. Wolfe supplies a stalker to satisfy that department. The villain is unassuming until he reveals himself, and the twist on the stalker’s motive is a shocker worth waiting for. The only complaint I have is that the last twenty pages went too quickly. I wanted to spend more time with Michael and Brooke. They were likeable, flawed, fun, and genuinely romantic. If you’re looking for intrigue, down-to-earth characters and love scenes stripped of most of the available clichés, this is your next read. Reviewed by S. Jane Gari

102 | btsemag.com


reviews erotic

The Girl He Knows

Dragon Down Under

Chick Lit, Rom Com Heat Rating: 4

Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

Kristi Rose

Blind dates, bad boys, and her best friend’s older brother Hank. All part of Paisley’s journey in embracing her newfound single status. It’ll take the mother of all epiphanies for Paisley to realize Hank is the man for her before it’s too late and she loses him forever. Review: What an amazing, lighthearted, and entertaining romance. I fell in love with this book from the very beginning. Imagine waking up to the most amazing night of passion and then realizing it was with your best friend’s brother, who is also one of your closest friends. How do you keep it quiet in fears of losing both his friendship and that of your best friend, and keeping it from your meddling families? When Hank offers a “no-strings attached” affair to Paisley, how can she turn it down?  It’s obvious he’s hoping for more, but Paisley is still recovering from a painful divorce and fears another failure, she wants to explore the single life she missed by marrying so young. There are some tough moments for Paisley, but in the end, she discovers what matters most, reclaims her life, and realizes where her heart truly belongs in a heartwarming, happy tears, HEA. Reviewed by Amy Moore

Angela Castle

Dragon Down Under: Accused of a crime he did not commit, dragon shifter Kaden, has been exiled to the human realm. His only chance for survival is to find a remote, warm dry place to live, as both man and dragon. Dragon Down Under: Two Plus One: Dar and Jax, two dragon shifters, exiled from the dragon realm, are forced to make a home—away from the humans—deep in the Australian desert. Review: I love dragon shifters and I was not disappointed in this story at all. I always enjoy Ms Castle’s books and this book was no different. It was a great entertaining read, it kept me captivated and I loved the story line and the writing. It took me all of an evening of some serious reading to finish this book, I had a hard time putting it down. Kaden is a Dragon shifter that is accused of a crime in his realm that he is innocent of, thinking that the worst punishment that he could face is being banished to earth, he is pleasantly surprised when he meets Terrie. She is a spitfire and a very stubborn and independent woman. They have a great chemistry between them, although I do feel that things happened a bit fast. There was a little of everything in this book, from action, mystery, passion, a villain and of course some really hot bedroom action between Kaden and Terrie. I did enjoy this book and would definitely recommend it for those who love dangerously good looking alpha dragons shifters. I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did! Reviewed by Kim Patten

November/December 2014 | 103


reviews erotic

Cyborg

Charity Parkerson SciFi Erotica Heat Rating: 5

Books One and Two of the “Cyborg” series, in one place. Generation Automation is upon us. The craving to own the latest and greatest technology in the name of convenience has created a world where man and machine live alongside one another in an unsteady peace. Humans still rule for now. However, an underground movement has begun that will change everything. Review: Inoperative: Cyborg One and Intact: Cyborg Two are the two novels in Charity Parkerson’s erotic, science fiction Cyborg series. Set in an unknown future, Alexia is a subliminal coder whose work with military grade androids has put her life at risk. Miles is the android that has been assigned these last six months to Alexia for protection. Parkerson’s Cyborg series is a fast paced, easy to read, sexual thriller that keeps readers on their toes. What does this future hold where people live with helper robots always there to do their owners bidding? Who is Miles trying to protect Alexia from? All of these questions are answered throughout the pages of these short novels. Inoperative flows easily into the second novel, Intact, and reveals within its pages a more in depth look at the world filled with humans, cyborgs and androids and the battles raging within. I enjoyed these books. They were filled with just enough action and intrigue to invest me in the well-developed characters. My only complaint was with the undeveloped world. While aware of the battling raging within, vague details were provided of how this world came to be. I still recommend these books to anyone interested in sci-fi and erotic romances. Reviewed by Stacie Carrier

November/December 2014 | 104


reviews erotic

The Billionaire’s Bodyguard Erin M. Leaf

M/M Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Billionaire Alex Roman needs a bodyguard. His best friend, Jesse Emerson, an ex-Security Forces Specialist, needs a job. What could possibly go wrong? Jesse thinks protecting Alex will be a piece of cake. He’ll get to spend quality time with his oldest friend while avoiding his ex-girlfriend. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned. Why would Alex introduce him to everyone as his lover? And why didn’t Alex tell him about the threatening notes he’s been receiving for months? Review: This book had romance, suspense, intrigue, and most of all Hot, Sexy Men! Jesse has denied his sexuality for years while his best friend Alex has been waiting in the wings for Jesse to realize where his heart truly belonged. This book takes you on the journey of Alex and Jesse. The road to true love and happiness is not always easy, and the danger that Alex finds himself in, is what is needed to open Jesse’s eyes and heart. This was a very quick read that I was able to finish in only a few hours.   If this book  had been longer, it would have received at least 4 1/2 stars. The story line and concept was really good, but more could have been added to make this story great.  The dialogue between characters flowed well and the description of details was good and easy to visualize.  (Not over done making the story boring.) I hope there will be more from this author that will continue this story.  Alex and Jesse would not need to be the main characters but as supporting characters so we could see more of their HEA.  Reviewed by Tammy Thompson

November/December 2014 | 105


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Dorothy Bell

The Cost of Revenge Quinn O’Bannon knows it’s time he settled down. He has two likely candidates, both sensible, attractive, young women. However, his fantasies keep straying to Tru McAdam, that thieving, sloe-eyed vixen with the grudge against the whole darn O’Bannon family. Tru McAdam wants to believe the O’Bannons, all of them are rotten, heartless cheats. God help her, most of all she wants to believe the handsome, arrogant flirt Quinn O’Bannon is the worst of the lot. When destiny shuffles the cards, strange pairs show up in the hand. Who can fight destiny, not the handsome, flirtatious Quinn O’Bannon, not the thieving, sloe-eyed vixen, Tru McAdam.

“What-in-the-world made you think I’d appreciate having Elizabeth Tatom out here, Quinn?” Cleantha asked as she shoved the contents of her husband’s gun cabinet into his arms. “She’ll go home and report every little thing to Margret and Grandmother Tatom, you can count on it. She’ll tell them all about my burning the biscuits, and how I let the dust stack up on the mantle. Damn it, Quinn.” With his arms full, Quinn couldn’t defend himself and wound up with his back against the wall. “Whoa, she’s not a spy, it’s Elizabeth; she’s a little girl.” He’d intended his offhand remark 106 | btsemag.com


to be funny, but made the mistake of chuckling to himself. With the tip of her cane, Cleantha jabbed him in the side to herd him toward the door to the hall. “Well, that’s how I feel. It feels like I’m being spied upon.” Her canes thumping the floor, she sailed past him in high dudgeon, moving on to the next room. “Grandmother Tatom thinks I’m slowwitted, as well as crippled. Margret and my father want to believe my marriage is too much for my crippled constitution to withstand, predicting it will end in some kind of horrible tragedy. Whatever Elizabeth reports to them will be set to their own measure of thinking.” Quinn followed Cleantha down the hall to the big bedroom she shared with her husband. In an attempt to justify his, and his brother’s thinking, Quinn said, “Royce wasn’t going to leave if I couldn’t find someone to help you.” He got down on his knees and started to stow the guns under his brother’s bed. Cleantha tapped her cane on the floor next to his ear in exasperation. “Anyone but Elizabeth Tatom. Why Elizabeth?” “It seemed a logical choice, Cleantha,” Quinn said, coming to his feet. “Come on, you’ll see, she’ll be a big help around here. You know Royce and I’ll back you up when it comes to Grandmother Tatom and Margret. No one, not even your father, could possibly find fault with the life you and Royce have made for yourselves here.” Shaking her head she said, “These days, whatever his dear Margret says, father takes as gospel. Having children

in the house won’t cause my collapse, for pity’s sake. I’ve been a music teacher, teaching children, sometimes ten at a time for hours at a time.  I’m not completely helpless when it comes to dealing with children.” “Ahh, no one said you were helpless, Cleantha,” Quinn said, hand going to her arm. “Anyone would need help with a toddler and a three year old, plus an eleven year old, plus a full grown woman with the disposition of a badger.” “But Elizabeth...?” After an unladylike oath, Cleantha nodded her acceptance of the situation.

Dorothy A. Bell was in the sixth grade when she encountered the boy she would eventually marry. She lives with her husband in Oregon with two West Highland White terriers, a long-haired Dachshund and one angora tuxedo cat. When she needs a break from writing, she works in the garden.

dbelltakesromance.com November/December 2014 | 107


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Pamela L. Todd

Now You See Me Invisible. A ghost. No one sees her. No one knows her. Until him. For the last seven years, Jo has been a ghost in her own life. No friends. No permanent address. No long-term job. And that is exactly the way she wants it…until a typing error lands her on Nate’s doorstep in the city of Edinburgh, answering his ad for a roommate. Tall and rugged, Nate is a distraction Jo can’t afford, but his touch brings Jo back to life and every encounter leaves her craving more. As they grow closer and intimacy creeps its way around them, Nate knows there are things Jo isn’t telling him. The less he knows about Jo and her past, the safer he is.

The light was gray and dim when I slipped outside, clutching my coffee mug. The sun was slowly burning off the haze and it would be another hot August day. But right now I was thankful for the chill that made my mind alert. After a nightmare, I always craved the outdoors. For some people they felt safer inside, with their locked doors and windows, hiding under the bed covers, hoping the boogeyman didn’t think to look under them. But the only place I ever felt truly safe was in an open area. Somewhere to run. Somewhere to flee to. I pulled the oversized cardigan tighter around my shoulders and sipped the rich, strong coffee. Movement on the wall surrounding Nate’s patio pulled my focus, and a skinny ginger cat jumped down, keeping close to the wall but not taking its eyes off me. For a while we observed each other. The cat was wretched and pitiful, more than likely a stray. It was painfully skinny, though didn’t appear flea ridden or diseased in any way. I rolled my eyes. “Fine, here.” I tossed a piece of the buttery toast I had been forcing myself to eat. The cat jumped at my voice but leaped on the toast, licking the melted butter before nibbling on the bread. “You’ll never get rid of that thing now.” This time it was me who jumped at hearing a voice. Coffee sloshed over the edge of the mug and burned my leg. I stood up, wiping at the spill and feeling my cheeks scorch hotter than my leg. “Sorry, did I scare you?” Nate asked, sitting on the step a few higher than mine. “Startled, that’s all.” I managed a wobbly smile and sat back down, my shoulders 110 | btsemag.com

slumping when I saw the cat had disappeared. “I think I startled your new friend away.” “Mmm.” Nate waited a moment before speaking again. “Everything okay? You seem out of sorts this morning.” I shrugged. “I didn’t sleep very well.” He chuckled—the sound so low I felt it everywhere. “I know the feeling.” “Are Suze and Tilly awake yet?” “You’d know about it if they were. Did Tilly keep you up?” “No, I didn’t hear a thing.” “You know, I’m a little disappointed.” Nate leaned closer to me. “I thought you would sneak up to my room last night.” A laugh bubbled in my throat. For the first time that morning, my nightmare wasn’t the foremost thought in my mind. I twisted around to look at him, smiling at the boyish grin on his face. “Like I was at a friend’s house and her older brother was trying to corrupt my innocent ways?” His grin widened. “There was nothing innocent about what we did in the hall last night. And it’s my house.” Pamela has adored books since she can remember. There was no greater pleasure than discovering a new world to venture into, a new character to fall in love with… until she created her own and realised there was something even more magical. When she isn’t locked away at her computer, or scribbling in a notebook, Pamela can be found as her alter ego—namely wife to Matthew and mother to Todd. They also share their home with a schizophrenic cat and two greedy goldfish.

TotallyBound.com


reviews erotic

A Grand Prix Romance

Devon Rhodes & T.A. Chase Gay/Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Two men who share a passion for speed find out what can happen if they slow down enough for a Grand romance. Paolo’s more than just a football player—he plays at life. But underneath the party boy image, he’s well aware that his career is stagnating and a big move might be needed. Before anything like that can be decided, though, he’s going to enjoy his annual trip to Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix. Review: Paolo is a footballer from Germany. As the season comes to an end, things are changing. His best friend may be leaving, his closest teammate is retiring and has settled down, and he himself is making changes as well.  No longer the party boy looking for the next easy score, Paolo takes off after the ball season is over to enjoy his annual trip to Monte Carlo to watch the Grand Prix.   What could be better than a fancy hotel room, gambling, great food and fast cars?  That would be Johann of course!  A sexy F-1 racer with a fast car, easy smile, and a body any man would drool after!  Johann has a heart of gold and he wants to  find Mr. Right.  Fate steps in and now he’s on the fast track to losing his heart forever. The story line and concept were really good.  I really loved the characters and their dialogue flowed really well. The romance build-up was nice and not rushed and did not seem forced.  The love these two shared was a pleasure to read. Reviewed by Tammy Thompson

November/December 2014 | 111


reviews erotic

What to Do with a Bad Boy Marie Harte

Romance Heat Rating: 4

Mike McCauley had his soul mate for a precious time before she died giving birth to their son. She left him with the best boy a guy could want, so why is everyone playing matchmaker? He’s sick of it… until he meets Delilah Webster. For some reason, the foulmouthed, tattooed mechanic sets his motor running. He sees the loving woman buried within. But the closer they get, the more the pain of past wounds throws a monkey wrench into a future he’s not sure he can handle… Review: Even though Mike and Del were from obviously different worlds, they actually blended together quite nicely. Mike was a widower with an adorable kid. And the kid actually liked Del from the beginning, despite all her tattoos. It took Mike, a little bit longer, but eventually, he came around and liked Del for who she was despite her tattoos. The supportive cast was a hoot. Like the guys who worked at Del’s garage and her brother and Mike’s family to. Check it out when you get a chance. You just may be pleasantly surprised. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

Enraptured

Take Me If You Dare

Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Mel Teshco

Kate grew up knowing how badly bullying could batter self-esteem. That’s why she never imagined herself as beautiful and sophisticated Brandy, high-class call girl. She loves sex, loves her job that gives her self-assurance and financial security. When billionaire philanthropist Blaine takes more than a professional interest in her—both in and out of bed- Kate has to decide whether to run, or stay and risk it all Review: The novelette analyzes and rationalizes why and how Kate got into prostitution but does not satisfactorily explain why Blaine pays for sex. Was Kate aka Brandy the only prostitute he has engaged because of his obsession-at-first-sight or had he engaged with other prostitutes in the past? It would have been interesting if the author would have delved more into his tendency for possession. A struggle against this flaw would have made his “epiphany” that love cannot be bought, more realistic. But the author chose the technique of “telling” instead of “showing”. The plot is fluid and engaging. Though there are some repetitions which could be avoided, there aren’t any spelling and grammatical errors. The plot ignites a sense of curiosity for a sequel as well as a much needed prequel. Reviewed by Arushi Raj

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Nina Crespo

One decadent dare, one steamy night… when her best friend dares her to have a one-night stand during a business trip to Miami, Jasmine is all in. But just as she hits her cheesy-come-ons limit, a wickedly hot former soldier comes to her rescue. Can one night of passion lead to more? Because taking it further goes against everything Jasmine wants… and everything Ethan fears. Review: It was a very sexy and enjoyable read that had some very steamy characters. So when Ethan saw that Jasmine needed a little rescuing from an unwanted situation he stepped up to help her out. They both got a little more than what they had bargained for, and they really did make an interesting couple even with the few hiccups that came their way. So check it out. You just might be pleasantly surprised. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham


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Bailey Bradford

Unexpected Moments

Love begins at the most unexpected moment Carter Hausemann and Eddie Canales are embarking on a new romance. They know they’re compatible sexually. Now it’s time to find out if they’re meant for each other—and a third man. Eddie will do whatever it takes to make Carter happy and he’s more than willing to see if a relationship can work between three men. But first he and Carter need to concentrate on them. Dare Habrock has the microbrew everyone’s talking about. He also has a secret that has kept him from having a lover in far too long. When they meet, they learn love flourishes in the most unexpected “Welcome to Dare’s,” a pleasant- moments. looking older woman said to them. But someone is determined to destroy She had a genuine smile, short white every bit of joy they have. hair, and rouged cheeks, or maybe she really had what Eddie’s grandma called peaches and cream skin. “I’m Dee, Dare’s mother, and you two must be Carter and Eddie. Which is who, or who is who?” “Eddie here.” He waved. Dee shook his hand then offered hers to Carter. “So that makes you Carter. Dare will be here shortly. We hope you enjoy the technical tour. Dare’s been wanting to try them out for a while now, but he’s been so busy since the brewery was nominated for a James Beard Award. Why, Dare’s—” A warm, robust chuckle preceded the entrance of a man who had to be a few years older than Eddie. He was slight of build, and the clothes he wore looked to be a size or two too big for him. As he neared, Eddie noted the flecks of gray in the hair by his temples. The new arrival offered a radiant smile, along with a handshake when he stopped beside Dee. “My mom will brag about me for hours if you let her. I’m Dare Habrock. Welcome to my brewery.” Eddie liked him. He seemed genuinely nice and had a good handshake. Dare had finely sculpted cheekbones and a perfectly straight nose that was neither too long nor too short. It tipped up slightly at the end, giving him a more youthful air than his graying hair did. Eddie couldn’t tell up close if Dare was older or younger now. “You make some great beer,” Eddie offered, before releasing Dare’s hand. 116 | btsemag.com

Carter stepped in then. “Yeah, you do. Eddie prefers the stout but I love the Pale Ale. This place is pretty cool inside so far.” “Thanks. I’m glad y’all like the beer. Maybe you can sample some of the new ones I’m considering selling.” He tittered and Eddie thought Dare was possibly a little nervous. Well, Dare didn’t usually do the tours. Hadn’t Dee said these technical tours were just starting up? Eddie checked the interior of the front part of the building out. One of the walls were dozens of framed pictures, newspaper articles, and awards. Eddie would bet Dee had hung up most of them. Even now as Dare spoke to Carter, Dee was smiling at her son as if he were the Second Coming. “Shall we begin?” Dare asked a moment later. Dee sat at her desk and began humming. Eddie met his gaze and nodded. “Sure.” Dare had pretty eyes, the color a soft glassy green. He had a small mouth with a full, finely bowed top lip. Eddie felt a nudge to his ribs and realized he’d been checking the man out. “Sorry,” he murmured in Carter’s ear. Carter patted his hip. “We’re good.” I’m a Texas native who enjoys writing. My imagination is always in full gear, and I can’t write fast enough to keep up with it. I’ve written over fifty books for Totally Bound and love hearing from readers. You can contact me at itsbaileybradford@ yahoo.com and at the links provided on my profile page with Totally Bound https:// www.totallybound.com/author/baileybradford

TotallyBound.com


reviews erotic

Soul Temptation

The Celtic Fan

Contemporary Heat Rating: 4

Contemporary, Mature Heat Rating: 4

Nichelle Gregory

U n e x p e c t e d passions will tempt two lovers—body, heart and soul… The beauty of Tahiti mesmerises Serene Ryan who has travelled to the island to be the maid of honour in her sister’s destination wedding. She soon finds herself distracted by the undeniable pull she’s determined to ignore towards Oliver Banner, the best man. When her good intentions are cast away in a moment of sizzling passion, Serene’s resolute on not letting things go further than one night. Review: In Tahiti for her sister’s destination wedding, Serene Ryan has an undeniable attraction to the best man, her soon-to-be brother-inlaw, Oliver Banner. After a night of sizzling passion, and Oliver opening her world to erotic possibilities, Serene is determined things that happened in Tahiti stay in Tahiti. Oliver has always been a playboy, never looking for anything more than a good time and great sex. He isn’t prepared for the intense connection he feels for Serene or her refusal to explore things between them further. He is determined to show her there is more than great sex between them. I enjoyed this story and the sex scenes were panty-wetting hot.  I love the alpha-take charge side of Oliver.  Serene’s insecurities felt real, although when she turned it into a race issue I didn’t care for that, but that is just my opinion. I haven’t read book one of this series but was still able to follow along with this book as a stand-alone. Reviewed by Amy Moore

Deanndra Hall

Steve Riley has a goal: Find Nick Roberts, secretive author of the bestselling novel, The Celtic Fan. A trip to sleepy little Ebbs Mill, North Carolina, with a stolen address sends Steve to the home of Diana Frazier, who obviously isn’t Nick Roberts. But when Steve’s trapped there with her for a week following a natural disaster, he’s reminded that things, and people, aren’t always as they appear. Excerpts from the original Celtic Fan included. Review: Steve Riley goes on a vacation every year with his three friends Russ, Michael and Jim. Russ usually comes up with an idea for their trip and this year he wants to find Nick Roberts, the elusive author of The Celtic Fan. He has never been seen in public, refusing to do book signings or interviews. All four men have read the book and agree a trip to find the author would be some story to tell, and may even help Steve’s career as a journalist. Instead, Steve finds Diana with a Celtic fan tattoo and an amazing secret. The Celtic Fan is an easy to read, contemporary romance novel. Diana and Steve’s chance meeting and budding romance flowed easily through the pages. Both characters were well developed and interesting. Steve doesn’t consider himself to be ladies’ man but has definitely shunned the idea of commitment after the unfortunate end to his last relationship. Diana has lived an isolated existence for the last six years, living alone quietly in the town of Ebbs Mill, North Carolina. There were things that I really enjoyed about this novel, like the unfolding of the history of both characters. Unfortunately, I found the excerpts from Nick Robert’s Celtic Fan unnecessary. There was no correlation between the excerpts and the story taking place between Steve and Diana. The excerpts, while interesting, served to be a distraction. I would still recommend this novel for its lighthearted turn of the page plot and well-developed writing. Reviewed by Stacie Carrier

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Kimberly Gardner His Fair Lady

Mark Talleo is something of a dog with the ladies. Any girl, anytime, anywhere is his motto until he meets Josie Frazier. The long lean redhead not only shares his love of musical theatre, but her smoky sexy voice and infectious laugh drive Mark wild and haunt his every step. Equally fascinating is his sense that she has a secret, one he is determined to uncover on his way to becoming her leading man. Josie does have a secret, one she guards with her whole self. Although she has always known she was female, her name used to be Joey and she’s still biologically male. As much as she yearns for love and acceptance, her fear of rejection is just as strong. Mark’s need to know the truth is matched only by Josie’s need to hide it. But when malicious gossip reveals her deepest secret the price of honesty may turn out to be too high to pay. But if each can accept that the woman he wants is the woman she is then at last he may find His Fair Lady.

Seeing his chance to escape, Mark grabbed his own bag and laptop and scanned the front of the room, where two separate groups were forming. He found the rest of the twos and slid into the seat beside a girl with a mane of flame-colored hair that made him think of autumn sunsets. Trying to look like he wasn’t looking, he slid a sideways glance at her. Mmm. Nice. Ever since Carlie Casey had kissed him under the sliding board in the second grade, he’d had a weakness for redheads. As the professor distributed copies of the discussion questions, Mark tried for a better view of Red’s assets. Her phone was out, held low in her lap. Her head was bent forward, a heavy curtain of hair obscuring most of her face as her thumbs flew over the screen. When the stack of handouts came to him, he took one and held the rest out to her. When she didn’t respond, he shoved the papers between her face and her phone. She looked up. Their gazes met and held for the space of a heartbeat. Her eyes, a clear pale blue and fringed with thick lashes shades darker than her hair and brows, widened slightly. “Handout,” Mark said unnecessarily and wanted to kick himself. Idiot, of course she could see that. 118 | btsemag.com

She nodded and accepted the pile of papers, removing one from the top before she passed the rest to the guy on her left. She returned her attention to her phone without another glance in Mark’s direction. Holy shit but she was gorgeous! He wanted another look at her. The brief glimpse of high cheekbones and skin so pale it seemed almost translucent was simply not going to cut it. He willed her to look at him again as the prof’s voice faded to an annoying buzz in the distance. Finally he couldn’t take it any longer. Drastic action was required. “Psst.” Nothing. “Psst!” She looked up, a small frown that might have been annoyance dug between her golden brows. “What?” “Do you have an extra pen?” Her brows lifted. After a moment’s hesitation, she pointed. “What’s that?” Mark looked down and saw the pen lying on his desk. “Out of ink.” His dream girl sighed and dug in her handbag while Mark congratulated himself on the alacrity with which he’d produced the small white lie. She passed him a pen. He took it and sent her his most dazzling smile.

Kimberly has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. As early as seventh grade, she was slashing her favorite rockstars for her own enjoyment. So it’s not surprising that her two passions-romance and putting pretty boys--with other pretty boys would come together in her writing.

KimberlyGardner.com


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Nancy Corrigan

Hunter Betrayed Tainted from birth, Harley lives a life cloaked in darkness and temptation. She resists the lure of her evil legacy by holding the memory of her ghostly savior close. But he’s not the protector or lover she’s envisioned. He’s a Hunter bred to eliminate her kind. He’s also her only hope of salvation. Calan, the leader of the Wild Hunt, was created to protect mankind from the Unseelie Court. For a millennium, he’s sacrificed to ensure the horrid creatures remain in the Underworld, but his strength wanes. He must rely on his enemy’s daughter to save him, but he doesn’t expect the intensity of their lust or love. He’ll risk all to save her, including damning himself to suffer forever in his own living hell.

“Wh-who are y-you? What…” She focused on where his chest should be. He glanced down and saw the ground, not his body or even a ghostly apparition. “What are you? A g-ghost?” “Not a ghost. I’m alive. I’m just not here.” He stretched an invisible hand out… and touched her cheek. The surprise in connecting with her in a tangible manner nearly pulled him away from her. With mental fingers, he tugged her closer. He wouldn’t lose her. Not now, not ever. He slid a hand to her bottom and pressed her body flush to his. The cushion of her breasts stirred his lusts and awakened his carnal desires. Impossible, so he would’ve thought. The half-breed fairy in his arms would one day become his enemy. A child of Dahm, she carried the chaotic taint he’d willingly invited into his body. It should’ve begun to corrupt her, turning her into a monster too. Yet…it hadn’t. Why? Calan tipped her head back. Her dark blue eyes captivated him. Fear shown in 120 | btsemag.com

them. After a moment, a desire to match his flared. He skimmed his fingertips over the contours of her angelic face. Possessiveness rose within him and mixed with an intense need to protect her. She was special. He sensed it, but didn’t have time to explore it. “You need to run. You cannot allow them to steal the goodness you’ve managed to retain.” Because it belonged to him. So too did the female. He would claim both and she would be the one to free him. The rightness of his vow took hold. A millennium had passed without him finding the one half breed who would have the courage to free a Huntsman. Nine years ago, when he’d spied her in the midst of flowers, he had. Today, he would ensure she did, no matter the cost.

Nancy Corrigan writes epic tales of unending love with a paranormal flare. She enjoys transcending the boundaries of reality to take her readers on an erotic and romantic journey. She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. When she’s not weaving sizzling fantasies, she works as a chemist.

NancyCorriganAuthor.com


reviews erotic

Blue 52

O for Two

Romance Heat Rating: 4

Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Elaine Cantrell

“First Lady Kills President Lovinggood” December 5, 2018 Thirty years later, Hank Lovinggood embarks on a quest to prove his mother’s innocence and punish the killers who took his family from him. Together Hank and lovely physicist Dr. Kathryn Sinclair confront an implacable, twisted, and merciless enemy who’ll do whatever it takes to hide the truth forever. Review: “First Lady Kills President Lovinggood”, these five words were enough to capture my curiosity. Moreover, how cool is the surname “Lovinggood”?! It promises scandal, mystery, maybe some of the Jason Bourne stuff. I think I had the book all figured out but this book constantly throws curve balls. It’s set in the future but not clouded by technical jargon. Also, it isn’t a fantastical, alienating and bizarrely different future. We can empathize with it. Just because technology changes, it doesn’t mean that the foundation will too, especially the foundation of family. There is warmth in the relationships. No matter how good a plot is, without good characterization and wonderful writing the book is doomed. Thankfully, Blue 52 conjugates these three necessities beautifully. There is the element of reality in the characters. Senator’s grief is almost tangible and the protagonist himself a lovable character with his wicked sense of humour. The writing is fluent not letting the science clog down the story as well as maintaining genuine romance with the background of mystery, political “games” and sci-fi environment.

Holley Trent

After a decade together, partners Clint and Ken admit their relationship needs a feminine influence. They believe rolling stone Olivia could be their ideal match. When she slips away before they can invite her home, Clint and Ken left with a dilemma. Should they give chase to the only woman they’ve wanted to share, or let her fly? Review: Olivia is on a vacation from her job as a flight attendant at an infamous hotel’s exclusive sexthemed bash. On her last day there, she’s approached by Ken and is surprised to learn that he is actually in a committed relationship with Clint. Thinking that they’re just looking for a no strings menage, she agrees to a night of hot sex. Only problem is Olivia finds herself falling for both men... O For 2 was a well written book. There wasn’t much of to the story beyond finding a partner and scorching sex scenes. The whole book was based on a weekend of sexual indulgence and the chemistry between three people. The sex scenes were fun to read and the characters were made for each other. I was slightly disappointed in the end, as I felt it left me hanging. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy ménage stories. Reviewed by Sara Curtis

Reviewed by Arushi Raj

November/December 2014 | 121


feature sneak peek

Charity Parkerson

Intact: Cyborg Two A world on edge... The “Cyborg” team has kept one eye glued to the unrest inside the A.I. community for some time. Each member understands the ramifications of a revolt. If war is declared, they could find themselves on the opposite side of the law. One tiny detail changes Miles’ stance. Solving the case he’s worked since meeting Alexia could be the deciding factor. Left with no other choice, Miles orders his second in command to move to plan ‘B’—Dr. Kiston Beck. A woman caught in the middle... Kiston has stood with the Androids since her teenage years. Her inside knowledge of Cryo-Zone—an all-droid community—could mean the difference between a war lost or won. Convincing her to go against all she believes to be right is another matter. Kiston has no idea what the Cybernetics Agency thinks she possesses. There hasn’t been a human alive who cared to hear her opinion in years. The one detail she’s absolutely sure about is that they sent the wrong team member if they hoped to seduce the information from her. Cyborg Two is every woman’s dream. His wide shoulders, alpha ways and smoldering glances leave her breathless. Unfortunately, his biggest flaw is one too many for Kiston. He believes she’s crazy. But is it too late? After a botched kidnapping, a concussion and near-death experience, can Miles and his team still convince Kiston to join them, or will their brand of friendship end up destroying the world?

Sim grunted as a droid smashed into his back. Brick bit into her shoulder blades as he crowded her closer to the wall. She ignored the way it rubbed at her exposed skin, leaving it raw, as she scrambled to see around his massive frame. If anything happened to Zephyr, it would break her heart. Finally, Kiston realized if she ducked her head, she could peek beneath Sim’s arm and see most of the fight going on behind him. A sigh of relief rose in her throat when she spotted him fighting back to back with Rep. It died on her lips when she caught sight of Dez. Battle transformed his features. Watching him in action as he fought against a training program had done nothing to prepare her for the real thing. The lines of his face were hard, and his eyes had changed color. They were a vivid green, as his optics switched to 360 radar. His movements seemed timed a half second faster than the two bots attacking him, allowing him to anticipate their every move. It was as hypnotizing as it was terrifying. 122 | btsemag.com

Sim kept her protected with his body to the point where she felt as if a force field stood between her and the action. She clung to his chest, gripping his shirt between her fingers. As Dez’s fist connected with an audible crunch to the droid on his left, the one to his right switched directions as if deciding he couldn’t win against Dez. With Rep’s attention otherwise engaged, he managed to sneak in a lucky hit. As it skimmed Rep’s cheekbone, a sound that reminded Kiston of a banshee’s scream rent the air as the cyber angel on Dez’s arm rose from his skin. Its outline shimmered in the air before solidifying. Kiston pressed closer to the wall. Time seemed to freeze as every eye turned toward the sound. Droid and Cyborg alike appeared mesmerized by the sight of it hovering over their heads. Its silver wings glimmered in the sun, causing balls of light to dance upon the ground and break the spell. When the A.I. who’d struck Rep came to realize he was the center of its focus, he tried to run. He didn’t make it. Dread rose in Kiston’s chest when the angel’s red gaze landed upon him. She was transfixed. “Kiston.” At the sound of her name, she tore her eyes away, meeting Sim’s stare. “Don’t watch,” he ordered. She held his stare, doing as he bade. Unfortunately, there was no way to block out the man’s screams as he died. Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with Ellora’s Cave Publishing and Punk & Sissy Publications. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters. *2014 Readers’ Favorite Finalist *2013 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner

CharityParkerson.com


reviews erotic

Possessing Providence

Angela Castle Erotic SciFi Heat Rating: 5

Electrician, Providence Velour, is called in to fix an electrical problem in a cosmetics factory in her remote home town. But what she discovers, throws her into deep trouble and into the arms of a large and sexy alien. Zelron, a warrior of Kelon, is a dangerous creature, wanting to kill the humans who hold him captive. Ever since his ship crashed to Earth, he has been at their cruel mercy. When a small human female stumbles into his cell, Zelron has little choice but to protect her, it’s that or let his tormentors kill her. Review: Possessing Providence was my first book regarding paranormal & science fiction activity. Usually books that contain this content do not hold my attention. However, this story was very riveting to me and the attraction between the main characters Providence & Zelron kept me intrigued. They learned about each other while being held captive. The author brought forth the similarities of the characters while discovering their cultures and the sexuality between them. Not sure if this book is part of a series, and if so I read it out of order, but if it is, have to make it appoint to read the series. My only vice with the story was that it was too short for me, but for my first foray into paranormal fiction I found the story to be very entertaining and sexual overtones made it a great short read.

Her Men

Ashley Ladd Erotic Heat Rating: 5

Julie has never forgotten her men, Timmy and James. When she gets a second chance to rekindle the romance at their reunion, she can’t choose between them. Forty-four-year-old Julie Weston has loved Timmy and James since her college days twenty-something years ago. She’s fantasised about both men all these long years, never able to choose between them. Review: Ladd’s premise is tantalizing, and some of the sex scenes live up to the heat promised by the book’s tagline. Julie has authentic relationships and a backstory that makes us root for her. We want Julie to get what she wants: hot sex and true love. But the book’s stylistic flaws and its inconsistent point of view are distracting. There are well-drawn scenes of the selfdoubt and nerves a single, middleaged woman experiences when she attends a reunion. When Julie finally beds her men we’re ecstatic, but the mood is crushed by clichés and overwritten descriptions of kissing and the mechanics of arousal that left me nauseated. Parts of this book are decent guilty pleasures that smack of what erotic romance can be at its best. If you’re willing to deal with uneven writing to enjoy some guilty pleasure, then this might be a good read for you. Reviewed by S. Jane Gari

Reviewed by Anita Rivers

November/December 2014 | 123


@ Author & Reader Con 2015

FEATURING AUTHORS:

Author & Reader Con July 30th - Aug 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!


serials

| Nicole Morgan |

continuing stories

Nicole Morgan

So this was hell. I looked around the dimly lit, but obnoxiously loud, room as patrons both young and old bumped and grinded against one another like they were auditioning for extras on MTV’s Spring Break dance party. For far too long I’d been sitting here in this corner booth, pretending to ignore the creepy duo of the neck licker and ear nibbler. Just like the villains from

November/December 2014 | 125


| Sex & the Single Woman |

those old Batman shows I watched when I was younger, I’d given these two the only two nicknames that suited them. Their birth names escaped me. Whether Kim had mentioned them or not, all I could see at the present moment was how they were pawing all over my best friend like she was the only female in a prison full of sex starved men. Kim, being her tipsy and far too friendly self, was having way too much fun soaking up all of the attention they lavished on her. I, however, was bored and so ready to leave, if for no other reason than to sanitize every part of my body that had come in contact with this leather booth. Hadn’t I seen a Dateline or 48 Hours episode about the types of disgusting fluids found in a nightclub? Or was that a hotel room? Did it even matter? Judging from the way the patrons of this bar acted, this place wasn’t too far from a full-fledged pay-by-the-hour motel in a seedy neighborhood. Sipping my cocktail, I eyed the nibbler with disgust. I had no idea what he saw in himself, but I sure as hell wasn’t looking in the same mirror he was. Maybe in Europe that sort of greasy, slicked back hair and multi-colored tailored suit worked on the ladies, but it just wasn’t doing a thing for me. Then again, he behaved like a pig also, which probably had a big impression on how I perceived him. I turned away, shivering from the chill that raced up my spine as he winked at me while nibbling on Kim’s ear. My dear friend always had been rather liberal with her “love the one you’re with” type of lifestyle, but I had always assumed she had a much stricter screening process than this. Then again, I hadn’t gone out with her clubbing in quite some time. Maybe this was why. Had she always been like this, I wondered. Her sister Courtney had been known to call her a slut a time or two, and while I hated hearing such a thing come out of her mouth I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe an intervention wasn’t in order. “Hey, Kim. I need to go to the ladies room.” Laughing Kim answered, “Okay, sweetie.” I stood up and waited for Kim to do the same. With the licker apparently checking her for an ear infection with his tongue, all she did was giggle. “Umm . . . Kim?” “Yes?” she answered with a drunken smile. “Would you care to join me?” “No, you go on ahead. I’m going to sit here with 126 | btsemag.com

. . .” Kim turned to the two men and laughed some more. “What were your names again?” Rolling my eyes, I yanked on her forearm and pulled her out from in between the two animals. “Hey!” Nibbler protested. “Where are you taking her?” I grabbed Kim’s purse and wrapped my hand around her waist. “To the ladies room. It’s an American thing. We can’t go there alone.” “Ahh . . . you two talk about us, no?” The licker asked. I raised a brow at his apparent impression that he was the cat’s meow and we were going to have a cat fight over who got to bed him that evening. How nice it must be to be so utterly clueless, I thought. “Yes,” I humored the man. “We’ll be talking about you.” I turned away with no remorse for the lie I’d just told. It wasn’t a complete falsehood. I mean I was going to talk to Kim about the two of them but in the morning and after she’d had a chance to sober up. Pushing my way through the crowded club, I felt more than my share of hot and sweaty body parts. A shower with extra hot water and antibacterial soap was definitely in my immediate future. When we reached the front of the club, Kim finally realized that we were nowhere near the bathroom and began her tirade. “Where are we going?” “Home.” “Why? I don’t want to go.” She insisted while I dragged her by the hand through the parking lot. “Well, I don’t exactly want to see my best friend taken advantage of. So, since I’m the only sober one tonight, it looks like we’ll go with my idea and take you home to sober up.” I hit the button on my car and opened the door. Trying to argue with a drunken Kim, who could barely stand and manage to get her in the seat without knocking her head into the roof of the car, was a task in and of itself. With all the skilled sports out there like synchronized swimming and cheer teams, I was really starting to think the real talent lay with dealing with an intoxicated person. Five minutes later, I slid behind the steering wheel and wiped a bead of sweat from my brow. Either I was getting too old for this kind of crap or I was highly out of shape. It most likely was a little bit from column A and B.


| Nicole Morgan |

“You are so boring.” Kim slurred. “That’s why I wanted to take you out. Show you a good time. I should’ve known better, that you’d be a party pooper.” I took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly in an effort to calm myself. Placing my key in the ignition to start the car, I turned to her. “Kim, I’m not sure what your idea of a good time is, but you are out of control. I can’t sit by and let you continue to sleep around with any man who will buy you a drink and show you attention.” “Pfft . . . what do you know?” she scoffed. I didn’t answer her. I just drove out of the parking lot on the way to my apartment. Her behavior had been slowly getting out of control for far too long. How I didn’t know it was this bad sooner made me feel more guilt than I cared to admit. Kim was my friend, and more than that, she was a woman who deserved better than the treatment she had been getting from these nameless, faceless strangers. She may not be aware of her self-worth, but I knew what an amazing person that she was. Tonight I would let her sleep, but tomorrow I planned on reminding her that she was a woman; she had value, she had worth, and she deserved better than just a one-night stand.

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

November/December 2014 | 127


Science Fiction | Fantasy | Paranormal | Urban Fantasy

SCI FI / FANTASY OUT of this WORLD

& PARANORMAL

Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

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

BTS HEAT RATINGS:

1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language November/December 2014 | 129


trends

reading trends in sci fi & fantasy

AliB FORTY and the

Spaceships Alex Bardy

There’s No Place Like Home, Toto, There’s Only Brainfood . . . “Fever is something that follows a wound: it never has any other cause (except possibly PLAGUE, which you will not catch). It will cost a day or so of sweating and strange DREAMS before someone fetches a HEALER. Then a drink of herbal tea will have you right in no time.” —The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones

November/December 2014 | 131


| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships| Last time I was here, I talked about eating my proverbial hat if Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit, 2013) won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. The Hugo Award results were announced last month over here in the UK at Loncon, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention—sure enough, not only did she win that Hugo, but she also won the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer (aka the Sydney J. Bounds Award). So, as I sit here suffering from indigestion after my latest plateful of proverbial hat, I am also recovering from a fantastic British Fantasy Society (BFS) FantasyCon event that took place last weekend here in my home city of York—it’s an annual convention organised by the BFS, and this time round it was, shall we say, a doozy . . . I won’t bore you with what a brilliant time I had catching up with so many of my friends and fellow writers all in one place, but I will get straight on with some news and recommendations for you. First up, please keep an eye out for the Penny Dreadful collection, a trio of classics due to be reprinted and repackaged by Titan Books. This is an official tie-in with the Showtime TV series of the same name, and all three are already available: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and Dracula by Bram Stoker were released this weekend (Sept), with more to follow. Also just out is Breed, a brilliant short novel by K.T. Davies, published by Fox Spirit Books, an independent UK publisher. Breed is a fabulous story of magic, skullduggery, drug-addicted vagrants, and an ancient destiny that really is world-shattering, and Breed is our lizard-like half-man, half-thoasan hero who is bold, brash, somewhat partial to excessive foul language, and when push comes to shove, outright awesome. We’re also introduced to the charming Mosquito, aka Sebastian Schiller, who is worthy of his own series, and a thoroughly disreputable chap called Tosspot, who handily drifts in and out of the action as and when. It’s a wonderfully charming read, very action-orientated, very funny, and any book that has a demon dedicated to stealing pen nibs in it is well worth your immediate attention. K.T. Davies also wrote The Red Knight (Anachron Press, 2012, and another independent), a great fantasy work about Alyda Stenna, the female captain of the royal guard and her many trials and tribulations, interspersed with numerous bouts of uncertainty, self-doubt, and even self-loathing. A very good work, and overdue a sequel—The Golden Hart will hopefully be available early next year. Independents don’t get enough notice for their efforts, but they’re also among the most celebrated publishers in this genre. I hope to be featuring more of their stuff in future columns and have recently acquired a taste for anthologies—there are many great ones out there and being able to dip in and out of them as the mood takes me does make it ideal reading for the holidays with so much else going on at the same time. Among the anthology award winners this year, (Solaris, 2013, 132 | btsemag.com


| Alex Bardy | edited by Jonathan Oliver) won the British Fantasy Award, with Tales of Eve (Fox Spirit, 2013, edited by Mhairi Simpson) and Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome (Jo Fletcher Books, 2013, edited by Stephen Jones, illustrated by Tolkien artist Alan Lee) just two of the other nominees in what proved to be a very strong category.

I am fast running out of room, so just enough space to mention the frankly quite brilliant Freda Warrington. Dark Blood of Poppies (Titan Books, Oct 2014) is the third book in her excellent Blood Wine Sequence and should have been officially released in the US by the time you read this. The first two were A Taste of Blood Wine and A Dance in Blood Velvet (both Titan, 2013), and both are darkly gothic, full to bursting with beautiful prose, and dripping with sexually-charged romanticism—Freda Warrington was doing the True Blood-style dark, brooding vampire thing way back in the early ’90s and a brand new, fourth book in the series, The Dark Arts of Blood (Titan, May 2015), is due to hit bookshops next year. Personally, I can’t wait for that one, but there’s plenty of time for you to catch up with the rest of this fantastic horror series between now and then.

Finally, we lost a superb writer in Graham Joyce only a few days ago (Sept 2014), and apart from being one of the nicest guys I ever got to meet, he has also written some amazing books. Some Kind of Fairy Tale (Gollancz, 2012) left an indelible mark on my psyche, and The Year of the Ladybird (Gollancz, 2014) has been garnering lots of great reviews left, right and centre. He also wrote the Introduction to The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough (Jo Fletcher Books, 2013), a book I mentioned back in the July/August issue of BTS as one of my all-time fave books over the last few years. It’s all the more special to me, now. RIP Graham Joyce.

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.

November/December 2014 | 133


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Simon

V.A. Dold

Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 4

Four years of honorably serving his country has left Simon, Cade’s younger brother, damaged and trapped in wolf form. Little did he know the only person with the ability to heal him completely would be found at home. Literally. Now that he’s found her, he is desperate to claim her. Rose is a beautiful, voluptuous woman with limited experience with men. Although she’s confident, she still has reservations. Never having a family of her own, her fear of abandonment has her fleeing romantic relationships, and doubting herself. Review: This is book two of the Le Beau Brothers Series but can be read as a stand-alone. Do I recommend it be read as a stand-alone? Absolutely not because number 1 (Cade) was just as good as this one was!   Simon and Rose have both been “damaged”.  Their journey to find their happily ever after put me on such an emotional roller coaster ride.  It gave me heart twinges, moments of surprise and even a few tears, as I watched it all unfold.  There was romance, intrigue, danger, and of course a hot, sexy wolf!  What I found even better, Rose was not your normal female lead.  Rose was a beautiful, plus sized woman and not your typical skinny woman you see in most romances.  It was so easy to relate to her character. Her character was so natural and believable. The story line and concept was wonderful.  I really loved the characters and their dialogue flowed really well. The romance build up was nicely paced and did not seem forced.   The love these two shared was a pleasure to read. Reviewed by Tammy Thompson

November/December 2014 | 135


feature author interview

V.A. Dold Cade

How did you get started writing? My writing is a complete accident. I had a book in my head and no one else wanted to write it. After goofing around writing it I found after 10,000 words, I could write it myself.

V.A.Dold is the bestselling author of the Le Beau Brothers series, New Orleans wolf shifter novels. A graduate of Saint Cloud University, she majored in marketing. Prior to becoming a full time writer, she was a publicist to the authors, owning Innovative Online Book Tours and ARC Author & Reader Con’s (ARC NOLA) (ARC Phoenix). Still is. The companies mesh so well together, much like PB&J. Her idea of absolute heaven is a day in the French Quarter filled with nothing but her computer, her coffee mug and the Brothers, of course. A Minnesota native with her heart lost to Louisiana, she has a penchant for titillating tales featuring sexy men and strong women. When she’s not writing, she’s probably taking in a movie, reading or traveling. Her earliest reading memories are from grade school. She had a major fixation with horses, and the Black Stallion was a favorite. Then junior high came along and teenage hormones kicked in. It became all about the Harlequin Romances. She has been hooked on romances ever since.

What is the best part about writing? Getting lost in the story and watching it unfold. The worse? Editing! UGH.

Where do you write? In my lazy boy chair in the living room, generally with a cup of coffee at hand. What are you currently working on? As crazy as it sounds, both Stefan and Thomas. They are books 3 and 4. The scenes come as they may and I am getting them for both books at once. What’s next for you? After Stefan and Thomas I have Lucas. He is a cross over into cowboys 136 | btsemag.com

and will launch a contemporary cowboy series based in Texas with a psychic match maker finding wives for the cowboys.

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

VADold.com


feature sneak peek

Julia Mills

Saved by Her Dragon

thighs caused her pulse to race. The corner of his mouth raised and she wondered if There Are No Coincidences… he had any idea what that look did to her Devon’s heritage has given him heart rate. She shivered at the sound of his voice. the strength of a warrior, the heart of a healer and the soul of a mate. “You sit right here and I’ll go run you a bath. It’ll help your sore muscles and get The Universe Does Not Make you prepared for a busy day.” Mistakes… Unable to speak past the lump in Orphaned as a child and raised her throat, she nodded and watched as by powerful Earth witches, Anya’s Devon headed to the bathroom. Her eyes life was normal until she was zeroed in on the incredible display of male anatomy before her. The muscles in his abducted and left for dead. Stuck well-toned backside rippled and tugged at in a magically induced coma, the denim of his jeans, and for the first time Devon’s voice was all that kept her Anya could remember, she was jealous of the worn fabric. Her fingers tingled as she alive. imagined them caressing and kneading Fate Will Not Be Denied… those toned, hard muscles. Anya is the light of his soul  Closing her eyes, she counted to ten and the only woman able to tame and gave herself a quick reality check. He’s the beast within. Devon has the helping you, that’s all. It doesn’t matter strength and knowledge she will that he kissed you; it was just a heat of the In one fluid motion, she found need in the coming days. Together, moment kind of thing. Stop thinking about herself standing, with Devon him naked, it’ll only get you in trouble. positioned behind her, his arms they just may be the key to saving His voice stopped her inner monologue around her waist. Her legs shook Dragon kin. but what he said made no sense to her lust and her knees threatened to buckle, soaked brain. “Lavender or citrus scent?” but she refused to fall. His words at “Huh?” her back strengthened her resolve, He looked around the door frame and “Just relax and lean on me. Let your legs get used to repeated, “Lavender or citrus scent?” holding you again.” When she didn’t answer right away, he explained, Anya concentrated on first one leg and then the “Kyndel makes bath oils infused with healing herbs other pouring as much energy as she could to her and…well, I guess you’d call it her special brand of weakened limbs. The tremors slowed and then stopped love.” He chuckled. “And I wondered if you preferred completely as she felt her strength returning. She lifted lavender or citrus scent; she makes a lot of different her right foot, testing her balance, and then placed it ones but those two suit you.” just inches in front of the other. Repeating the process, She held back a girlie giggle at his continued she was completely thrilled when she was still upright. attentiveness to her needs and answered, “You pick. Devon’s praise only added to her exhilaration. “You Whichever’s fine with me.” This man is gonna be the got this, mo chroi’. Let’s see if you can make it to the death of me…but what a sweet way to go. end of the bed.” She grinned and looked towards the window. A Feeling like she could climb Mt. Everest, Anya grandfather clock somewhere beyond the door chimed nodded and took first one step and then another, until twelve times and she gasped. Devon was in front of she reached her destination. She was panting like she her in a flash. “What’s wrong? What happened?” had run a mile and sweat was rolling down her back, His hands moved up and down her arms, across but she was as happy as she could ever remember. her back, and across the tops of her legs feeling for Devon helped her take a seat on the trunk at the end injuries and leaving tiny little tingles in their wake that of the bed and knelt in front of her. His hands on her fueled the libido she was trying so hard to control. “I’m 138 | btsemag.com


fine. Sorry. I just heard what time it was and realized everyone’s waiting for me so we can eat. We need to hurry.” Devon laughed, “I assure you Aaron has already conned them out of food. There’s no way he waited longer than thirty seconds after leaving this room and I’m sure the others followed suit. We don’t miss meals around here.” “Are you sure?” she asked, still worried. He leaned forward, letting his forehead touch hers and looked her in the eye, “I’m positive. Now let’s get you into the bath. It’s you that needs to eat. You need your strength to get back on your feet.” With no further warning, she was in his arms again and being carried to the bathroom. He sat her on the corner of a gorgeous roman style tub, citrus scented steam rising from the wonderfully aromatic bubbles. “Here are some towels,” Devon pointed to a wicker stool stacked high with white fluffy towels. “And here,” he pointed to a matching stool on the other side, “is a robe. I’ll be right outside the door, just holler when you’re done and I’ll come escort you out.” He turned to leave, and although she knew it was totally inappropriate, she was a little disappointed that he didn’t even try to sneak a peek of her naked. Get over it, Anya. Why would he want to see you naked? The thought had barely made it through her mind when Devon stopped in the doorway, looked over his shoulder with a fire burning in his eyes that hadn’t been there before, and said directly into her mind, “OH, I  will see all of you, m’fhiorghra’ but only when you have the strength for what comes next.” He winked and exited the room, leaving Anya more breathless and aroused than before. She soaked in the miraculous tub, enjoying the heat of the water and the feel of the herbs working the soreness from her muscles, invigorating her tired body. Wanting to get her hair washed before the water cooled, she turned on the water and attempted to situate herself under the faucet. As she shifted onto her knees, Anya realized a second too late that the bottom of the tub was more slippery than she thought. Her butt went one way, her knees the other, and without warning she slid under the water with an audible yelp! Before Anya could resurface, two large hands were pulling her from the water as she spit and sputtered warm soapy water in a most unladylike fashion. Embarrassment damn near overwhelmed her as she refused to open her eyes, simply feeling around for the hand towel she knew was on the side of the tub. Devon’s hand met hers as he handed her the cloth and the same electric charge as before ran through her system, landing squarely in her womb. The sound of water pouring into the tub stopped. After she had wiped her face, Anya sat perfectly still, eyes squeezed shut. She prayed Devon would just leave her in peace, to die of embarrassment. Instead, he spoke, “Are you okay, a chumann?” She heard the smile in his voice and the thought of simply sinking under the water again bounced around her brain, but she figured he would just fish her out, so she answered, “Yes, I’m fine.” Anya knew she sounded

like a petulant child and Devon’s bark of laughter only served to confirm her thoughts. “What were you trying to do?” She pouted a moment longer before answering, “I wanted to wash my hair but the tub was slippery. My top half zigged when my bottom half zagged and well…you know the rest.” “Are you gonna open your eyes?” “Nope.” “Why?” “Because…” “Please?” She could hear him trying to hold back a laugh and bit the inside of her cheeks to keep from smiling. She was embarrassed…not flirting with the irresistible man that had once again saved her silly ass. “Nope.” She worked hard to say that one word without laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. “Okay, if you’re not gonna open your eyes, how about I help you wash your hair?” He didn’t wait for her answer, which was good, because she had no clue what she would’ve said. The softness of a towel touched her shoulder, causing her eyes to fly open. The cocky grin and twinkle in his eyes told her that Devon knew exactly what he was doing, but in the end, she really didn’t care. Just having him close made her feel better, whole…complete, and quite frankly, it was worlds better than anything she could remember, so she decided to enjoy it. The towel he had secured to her shoulders covered her breasts, protecting her modesty and showing her what a gentleman Devon really was. With his hands on her shoulders, he carefully moved her in a semi-circle until her back was to the faucet. Only after he had checked the water temperature no less than four times did he speak, “Lean back against my hand and let’s see what we can do.” Anya let herself relax into his touch. The warmth of the water against her scalp was heavenly, but when his fingers followed, she sighed despite herself. What is it about his touch that makes it hard to breath? She had no clue but never wanted it to end.  His voice beside her ear sounded like silk sheets felt against bare skin as he whispered, “Is the water warm enough?” 

Hey Y’all I’m Julia, a crazy southern chick that loves hot alpha men, the sassy woman that love them and happy ever after! I am still working on my story but believe it will contain all of the above with as much SPICE as I can work into it. CHEERS!

JuliaMillsAuthor.com November/December 2014 | 139


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

The Last Seer

Cerece Rennie Murphy Science Fiction Heat Rating: 3

When the fall of one nemesis unleashes an even greater danger into the world, Lilli, Joel and the Lost Seers must stand against a new enemy with the means and the will to destroy all of mankind, starting with those they hold most dear. As the Seers mobilize to confront this new evil, the Guild tries desperately to uphold the crumbling world order on which it depends. When their attempts to manage the crisis fail, the members of the Guild are forced to place themselves at the mercy of an unlikely ally. Review: I have read the entire Order of the Seer series and I have to say Cerece Rennie Murphy wove a top notch story that flowed seamlessly from one book to the next. In the final installment we see the aftermath of the guilds downfall. New menacing creatures take form and threaten the lives of civilians across the planet. The guild finds themselves working with the renegade seers for the sanctity of human civilization. The importance of Lilli’s role in peace is amplified as she begins to transform into something more than a seer. Murphy’s writing is captivating as her words flow and weave, commanding the reader’s attention. Lilly, Joel, and the other characters gain momentum, becoming more than fictional. They have the ability to grip the reader’s heart and pull at the strings eliciting sadness, joy, and anger. The climax builds steadily building the suspense with each word and stewing the pot for the unforgettable climax. This is one of the best series I’ve had the pleasure to read. Reviewed by Lisa Klaes

November/December 2014 | 141


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Demon Killer Myra Nour

Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

Attacked by a soldier of the demon race, a young woman has a child from their union. To her horror, he bears the mark of the demon, and her people will stop at nothing to kill it. Being part fairy, Azra uses her magic to try and save her child from his demon blood. In spite of her best efforts, he briefly turns into the monstrous Sartwor beast, slaying her entire village. A perilous journey to the home of the pure blood fairies ensues as she races to save Bretuck before he turns into the beast again. This time she may not be able to pull him from the grasp of the creature ruling his body. Can a mother’s love prevail over her son’s cursed blood? Review: Demon Killers is riveting with strength, magic, twist and emotions. The pages keep you gripped in Azra and her sons’ story.  You want to know if she can find the cure with the fairies help and can she find them?   With the harsh land elements and people trying to kill her son she has to take precautions.  The characters keep a strong hold on you even after the story ends.  The author does a wonderful job mixing human and demon together in such a way the reader doesn’t want to give up. Azra’s love for her son is magical.  With her love and strength you feel as nothing could go wrong. Reviewed by Babs Hightower

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feature sneak peek

Courtney Farrell Bait

An epidemic targets women. Females are rare. Healthy girls are worth a fortune. Most live in squalid basement harems. Jackie is the last free girl, chief of a gang of teen boys. To them, she’s the prize, infinitely desirable, the last woman on earth. Competition may tear the crew apart. To make things worse, the boys are starting to think she’s crazy. Jackie is convinced that the same soul shines from the eyes of every infected person, slipping like a demon from one body to the next, stalking her. Is she losing her mind, or could an unseen enemy control the infected?

My tension spiked when I made it back to home territory. Our crew had a decent spread—a couple blocks of slum, with a few abandoned buildings and the Bar and Grill. That was my home, cracked vinyl booths and all. The trick would be to get there alive, and there was a pretty good chance I wouldn’t. I dreamed up the security system when I was eleven, but I never thought it would kill me. I took a slow right turn off the main road onto a cramped side street. At that point, I should have turned off the headlights, but I chickened out. Nerves made my underarms damp, and I couldn’t stop shivering. Another right took me down into an alley barely wide enough for one car. I had to switch off the lights then, or the boys would put a bullet in my head. Won’t they be sorry when they find me, loaded with loot and dead as their mother, I thought, trying to stay strong. My back ached from sitting on the edge of the seat, and it wasn’t doing my butt any good either. I missed my left turn in the dark. Swearing, I hit the brakes and struggled with the stick, trying to back that monster up. I can pass with one miss. Two, and they’ll open fire, just like I taught them to. Ditto if I hit anything, or even turn over a trash can. Leaning out the open window into the smoky night air, I saw the first rooftop spark. My miss had been noted. I swore again, more colorfully this time. My hands clenched the wheel. Nothing was scarier than a bunch of preteen boys with rifles. I knew, because I trained them. They moved over the rooftops like monkeys, with no fear of death at all. 144 | btsemag.com

The way I saw it, anybody who crossed our territory with headlights didn’t know the place. People who lived there could come and go in the dark. Lights were nothing but a rolling advertisement saying I’m trespassing, might as well shoot me. I sat stiffly, staring forward, as the big Jeep inched between two trash cans and a wrecked car. Would it fit? I resisted the temptation to get out and check. Anybody dumb enough to scout ahead would get shot. I made the next left perfectly, clearing the brick buildings on each side by inches. Ahead, on top of a flat-roofed building, a boy struck a piece of steel against stone, and sparks flew. Not fair! I made the turn, I wanted to shout, but I couldn’t. As close as I was to losing control of my crew, I couldn’t show up crying for mercy. My boys would be off following Dakota before I was done bawling, and I needed them. That pack of young killers was all that stood between me and gangs like the Zunos. Courtney Farrell was once a molecular biologist, but writing is more fun than lab work. She is the author of three novels and fourteen nonfiction books. Courtney lives with her family on a Colorado ranch where they support three dogs and a pair of freeloading horses.

CourtneyFarrell.com


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Almost Magic J.M.Kelley

Fantasy Heat Rating: 3

Jack Riley, a still-grieving widower, relocates from the big city to small-town Essex Woods with his young daughter, Elizabeth. His introduction to Vivian Burroughs leaves him enchanted, but rumors regarding her mysterious abilities soon come to light. Is the local beauty a witch or merely the product of an eccentric upbringing by her mother Fred and Aunt Lil, identical twins with a penchant for mischief? Review: Vivian Burroughs has been called a witch among other things. Due to rumors of witchcraft, which have lingered for years, Vivian has been unable to have any kind of successful relationship. So when she meets Jack Riley and his young daughter Elizabeth, she is caught off guard by the immediate attraction. Jack is a widower whose daughter has an unimaginable gift and amazing aura that shines brightly. But how far can the attraction go before he begins to believe the rumors are true. Almost Magic by J.M. Kelley is an easy to read, light hearted and highly enjoyable tale of magic, love and hope. Jack is overwhelmed with the task of raising a daughter that may or may not be able to hear his thoughts. They move to this small town and meet Vivian. She has never known what it’s like to be loved by a man and is worried by her immediate attraction to Jack. Kelley’s well developed characters and whimsical storytelling made this a novel I could easily recommend to friends who enjoy romances. It’s playful and funny with hints of magic. There was definitely more story to tell here and I would gladly read more by J.M. Kelley. Reviewed by Stacie Carrier

November/December 2014 | 145


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

A Hero for the Empire

Christina Westcott SciFi Romance Heat Rating: 4

The Dragon’s Bidding, Book 1 Commander Kimber FitzWarren is running on borrowed time. The cybernetic augmentations that give her superhuman strength and speed have also shortened her life. The success of her next mission is imperative, not only to save her Empire, but because this operation could be her last. Review: Kimber FitzWarren has been tasked with; gaining the help of Colonel Youngblood, finding Ari Ransahov, and bringing her back from the grave. If the mission is successful, the hope is Ari Ransahov will unseat Emperor Ashcraft, and bring peace to the empire. A Hero for the Empire, is full of telepathic cats, augies (enhanced humans), romance, warfare, and monstrous aliens. I really enjoyed this book it was entertaining, and the science fiction/fantasy world Westcott created was loads of fun to get lost in. Reviewed by Brittany Hale

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feature sneak peek

Ashlyn Chase

Tug of Attraction Two witches. One screwy spell... Failed actress Brigit Love wants a baby, and she’d better get on that soon or it may not happen. She isn’t willing to marry just to get what she wants, so doing things in “the correct order” may not be possible. Even her Wiccan spells can’t turn back the biological clock. Tug boat captain and coven member Ethan Cox loves his life as a happy bachelor and his only goal is to keep things exactly the way they are. He should be the perfect guy to plant the seed and walk away whistling—especially with an iron clad contract protecting his interests. So how did everything fall apart?

“So why don’t you just get married and try with your husband?” “I won’t trick some poor sap into marrying me just to maybe get pregnant. Look, I want a child to love and raise on my own. I don’t believe in marriage anyway. My mother has been married four times. I thought you’d be perfect since you seem to be a happy bachelor.” “I am. So why would I saddle myself with a child? I’m not the guy who wants a mini-him running around. And if I’m not that guy, why would I take on visitation, sports uniforms, music lessons, college expenses…” “You don’t need to do any of that. In fact, I don’t want you to.” She took a deep breath and spoke quickly so he couldn’t stop her. “I don’t want you involved in any way. I live in another town, so you wouldn’t even see the child unless you went out of your way, and I’d like you to sign something saying you won’t.” She dug around in her leather shoulder purse until she produced the document her lawyer assured her was an iron clad contract. “Here, read this.” He took it from her, scanned it, and then handed it back. “Why don’t you just go to a sperm bank? You won’t even know who the father is.” “Two reasons. First, I’d like to be able to tell the child that I knew his or her father, and that he was a good man. Second, in vitro fertilization is very expensive. If it’s difficult or impossible to conceive I could wrack up a ridiculous debt.” Ethan’s distress was plain to see. He placed his elbows on the table and his hands covered his face. She let him process the information in silence for a few moments. At last, he scrubbed his face and then stared at her, frowning. “I just don’t see this as an option, Bridge.”

“You don’t have to decide right away. Think about it for a while. That’s all I ask.” She handed him the contract again. “Here. Keep this and look it over at your leisure.” “I’m not a lawyer. I could look at this jargon all day long and I wouldn’t be able to spot a loophole.” “That’s because there are no loopholes. I was assured it’s ironclad. I don’t want the interference of another parent. I’ll provide for all the child’s needs. You won’t have any responsibilities. I promise.” “What about child care? How are you going to afford that if you can’t afford to go to a sperm bank?” “I have my mother. She lives right next door and would love to babysit.” “Doesn’t she have to work?” Brigit snorted. “She hasn’t worked since college. If marrying millionaires was an art-form, she’d be a master.”

Ashlyn Chase describes herself as an Almond Joy bar. A little nutty, a little flaky, but basically sweet, wanting only to give her readers a satisfying experience. She holds a degree in behavioral sciences, worked as a psychiatric RN for several years and spent a few more years working for the American Red Cross. She credits her sense of humor to her former careers since comedy helped preserve whatever was left of her sanity. She is an award-winning, bestselling author of humorous erotic and mainstream paranormal romances, represented by the Seymour Agency. She lives in beautiful New Hampshire with her true-life hero husband who looks like Hugh Jackman with a salt and pepper dye job, and they’re owned by a spoiled brat cat.

AshlynChase.com


Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | Horrror

BEYOND the EXPECTED

MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

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

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1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language November/December 2014 | 149


trends

reading trends in mystery & more

Scrying EYE The

Kelly Hudson

Christmas Murder! The cold winds whirl and moan, slapping against the house, making the boards creak and the windows rattle. Winter is here again, and with it, the frigid chill of shorter days and longer nights. But the season also brings Christmas, and with the holiday, much cheer and joy. But as with any holiday, there is a dark side as well. Come into the parlor, the Scrying Eye has opened and is ready to show you visions of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future. Sit, drink your coffee, drink your tea, drink your eggnog, and open your mind, for the Eye has many wondrous things to show you, and almost all of them begin with . . . Christmas Murder

November/December 2014 | 151


| The Scrying Eye |

Suspense/Mystery Festive in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death, #39, Putnam—available now), is the newest adventure of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Set in the year 2060, another murder mystery has popped up, and Eve not only has to solve it, but also juggle the guest list of her upcoming holiday party as well as find just the right gifts for all of her friends. It seems fitness guru Trey Ziegler was found dead with a kitchen knife stuck in his chest and the roll call of suspects is long and sordid. Many women wanted the narcissistic trainer dead, and it’s Eve’s job to sort through the accused and find the real killer before the New Year dawns. As always, she applies her wit and intelligence, and before long, Eve is on the trail of the culprit. This is a mystery that will jangle your nerves and keep you glued until the suspenseful conclusion. Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron (Being a Jane Austen Mystery, #12, Soho Crime—available now) features the historical Jane Austen embroiled in a mystery that tests not only her wits but her sanity as well. On Christmas Eve, 1814, Jane is invited to spend the holidays with her family and friends at the Vyne, the historic home of the wealthy prominent Chute family. This is a joyous time for Jane as one of her books is selling well, and peace seems to be spreading throughout the world. But something sinister is afoot and comes to spoil the festive gathering! A member of the holiday entourage dies in what is at first perceived as a tragic accident but one that Jane soon comes to suspect is actually murder. And if it is indeed murder, that means one of the snowbound guests is responsible. Can Jane reveal the killer before any of the other guests find themselves dead? Filled with dark secrets and innuendos as well as a clever game of cat and mouse, this will surely be a treat for fans of historic mysteries. Dig in with great delight!

Horror! The Dark Servant by Matt Manochio (Samhain Publishing—available now) tells the story of a small New Jersey town beset by an ancient evil that has only one thing on its mind: Death! Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer not only has an ongoing feud with his police chief father and a load of resentment towards his unimpeachable older brother, he also had a vast amount of depression to deal with as the girl of his dreams utterly rejects him. All of this and a winter storm that turns the town into an inescapable hell. Oh, and did we mention the monster that’s working its way through the town, leaving behind a swath of dead bodies and bloody hoofprints? We mustn’t leave 152 | btsemag.com


| Kelly Hudson |

that little detail out. As the danger draws nearer to his family and friends, Billy must find a way to defeat the creature before it claims him and his own. It seems Santa is not the only one checking to see who’s naughty and nice I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas by Adam Roberts (Gollancz—available now) is an older book and a holiday horror classic. Scrooge sits in his house counting his riches while the zombie hordes gather outside his boarded-up mansion, trying to get inside to eat his flesh. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future team up once again to bring the truth to Scrooge and convince him to travel back in time to stop the terrible outbreak from happening. The only problem is that it seems that the original infection began with sick little Tiny Tim. Can Scrooge kill the boy before the evil is spread? Christmas cheer and gore for all those full of loathing for the Happiest Holiday of the Year! And with this we bid sweet goodbye to you, our faithful guests, as another year passes on and a new one is born. The Eye closes to rest and gather strength for its next glimpse into the future of mystery and horror fiction. Take the knowledge you’ve learned today and dive into these diverse and amazing tales. Be sure to travel slowly on your way home as the storm is gusty and the weather is chilly. We wouldn’t want any of you to catch your death! Happy Holidays to all!

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

November/December 2014 | 153


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Thrillers & Suspense The Schwarzschild Radius By Gustavo Florentin Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press ISBN: 978-1620076118 Published: September 23, 2014 Pages: 290 Genre: Thriller, Suspense, www.GustavoFlorentin.com Molly’s Moon By Ron Parham Publisher: Pen-L Publishing Published: April 2014 Pages: 317 ISBN: 978-1940222424 Genre: Suspense/Thriller www.RonParham.com


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Wouldn’t It Be Deadly

Cries from the Grave

Historical Mystery Heat Rating: 1

Thriller Heat Rating: 1

D.E. Ireland

B. J. Kibble

Following her s u c c e s s f u l appearance at an Embassy Ball—where Eliza Doolittle won Professor Henry Higgins’ bet to pass off a Cockney flower girl as a duchess— Eliza becomes an assistant to his chief rival Emil Nepommuck. After he takes credit for Eliza’s transformation, Higgins proves Nepommuck is a fraud. When the Hungarian is found dead, Henry Higgins becomes Scotland Yard’s prime suspect. The only way to clear his name is to discover the real killer.

What the hell did Kristian Hunter PI, do in his past to deserve so much crap all at once? The death of his only son, the incarceration of his wife in a mental institution pending charges of alleged infanticide, and his subsequent dismissal from the police would have broken a lesser man. Then he witnesses a baby thrown out of a ten-story hotel window and he’ll need every last ounce of spirit and determination as he’s propelled into the desperate and dangerous world of people trafficking where murder, kidnapping and mayhem are commonplace.

Review: The classic characters, Eliza Doolittle and Hennery Higgins find themselves caught up in a delightful murder mystery. When Eliza’s boss, Hennery’s competition, Nepommuck turns up dead with Eliza’s tuning fork in his mouth the police place Eliza and Henry at the top of the suspect list. In order to clear Eliza and Henry’s names; Eliza and her friends join forces to find out exactly who killed Nepommuck. The list of possible suspects isn’t a short one either, for Nepommuck isn’t a very likable guy. Wouldn’t it be Deadly is an engrossing, intelligent murder mystery that thoughtfully breathes new life into the characters from Shaw’s Pygmalion.

Review: B.J. Kibble’s fast paced thriller Cries From The Grave sees his two protagonists ex-policeman and now private investigator Kristian Hunter and Inspector Scott Allen of Sussex’s Finest stumble across a human trafficking operation that reaches high into the echelons of society. As they are drawn further and further into their investigation they discover there are very few, if any, they can trust outside their friendship. This graphic and gritty thriller opens with a death of an infant and the death toll mushrooms as the chapters fly by, however, it has a clever plot with many twists and turns that will keep any ardent crime thriller fan at the edge of their seat. With a highly capable cast of characters from the police and exarmy men, the book is not short on action and takes in detail from the seedy underbelly of the sex industry. Far from predictable, this roller-coaster ride will have you hooked from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed Cries From The Grave, which was easy to read despite its complex plot and violent content, there were a few typos and inconsistencies in the story but they didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the book, however a more thorough proofread of the Kindle version I purchased to review would have done the book better justice.

Reviewed by Brittany Hale

Reviewed by Babus Ahmed

November/December 2014 | 155


feature

author interview

Marguerite Ashton Marguerite Ashton is the founder of the blog Criminal Lines and Co-founder of the Crime Writers’ Panel. There, she works alongside Joe Giacalone with other panel members to educate writers on the importance of showing accurate portrayals of criminal investigations and law enforcement procedures in their novels. Her radio show, Criminal Lines Radio airs bi-monthly, bringing together law enforcement and authors in an open forum. A member of Sisters in Crime, Marguerite grew up in Colorado, but now resides in Wisconsin, where she is currently working on her next book.

How did you get started writing? I’ve been writing since 2000 as a hobby, but soon realized that I wanted more. I wanted my works to be read. In 2009, I set out to hone my craft with the hope of writing an awesome story that would entertain my readers. It’s my passion to be here for my readers. Why do you write crime novels? I love writing crime novels. It keeps me focused on doing what I have always enjoyed, criminal investigation. Five years ago, I was on my way to sign up for the police academy when I learned I was expecting my fourth baby.  So I did the next best thing. Write.

What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on the next book in the Lies Series, titled, Inherited Lies. Detective Lily Blanchette investigates the murder of a former colleague. One suspect is a family member she had no idea existed. What’s next for you? Next on my list is to work on my upcoming shows for Crime Writers’ Panel.  All of us at CWP have crazy schedules and we’re looking forward to starting a new season filled with information to help writers who are doing research for their books.   Also, I’m working on some joint ventures with two other authors, Kathy Ryan and Darcie Duranceau. One of the projects is Dead Silent, the first in a mystery series. The second project is a blog dedicated to all of the moms in the world where they can come and share their stories among other women who understand and know them well.

How many books have you written? I have written three books. My latest novel, Led By Lies introduces a new series featuring Detective Lily Blanchette. Burned Bridges, a novella from the Crossing Series, was released in 2012 and soon will be followed by, Raging Rivers, which is scheduled to be released on December 22, 2014. Burned Bridges fans will get a chance to see Traci’s new life and connect with Oliana, now seventeen, as she uncovers family secrets about her past and who killed her best friend. What is the Crime Writers’ Panel? Crime Writers Panel is a free online workshop put together by a team of writers, including members of law enforcement and forensics. We provide guidelines to help authors craft realistic situations; starting with the initial dispatch of a call, continuing through CSI investigation and  encompassing gritty procedures from  an officer’s point-of-view. 

MargueriteAshton.com November/December 2014 | 157


feature sneak peek

Jacquie Biggar Tidal Falls

Sara Reed is on the run from an abusive ex with ties to organized crime she’d known nothing about. Mistakenly thinking her and her daughter would be safer if she had some kind of leverage, she takes a copy of some valuable files. Files that make her a target. Nick Kelley is an ex-marine trying to find his place now that his career is over due to injuries suffered from an IED. When the two of them meet in the pretty little town of Tidal Falls, the experience is explosive.

Sara Sheridan waited with nervous anticipation, and when her husband turned away to network with the senator and his wife, she made her move. Excusing herself from her half-hearted discussion on the state of the economy with old Judge Perkins, she edged out of the dining room and hurried down the dimly lit hallway, ignoring the condescending stares from Tom’s ancestors lining the walls in their expensive frames. Knees quaking now she’d in fact committed to her plan, Sara slid the key borrowed from his nightstand into the lock, entered his office and pulled the heavy oak door closed. Flipping on the lights she froze as his mahogany desk loomed out of the darkness. Forcing her stiff limbs to move across the room, the pungent scent of his tobacco violated her nostrils. She wanted nothing more than to run, fast and far. But couldn’t, not yet. Rolling his heavy leather chair out of the way, she slid her fingers across the keypad to wake his computer. Password protected, she’d expected that. Pulling a list from her pocket, she started at the top, working her way down. Nothing. Please, please, plea… The screen changed, signaling success. Yes. Her eyes slid shut in a brief moment of gratitude. Knowing she had to hurry Sara grasped the thumb drive Fiona had smuggled in to her and plugged it in. A quick search brought no results. Now what? 158 | btsemag.com

Frustrated, she entered random words from the password list. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Crap. Covert stuff wasn’t her forte. Sweaty hand sticky on the mouse, her ragged breathing loud in the otherwise silent room, she keyed in one last word. Phoenix. The screen switched and a list of names, dates and times appeared. She’d done it. Excitement skittered up her spine. The download took the longest minute of her life. When it was done she shut everything down, replaced his chair and turned to leave. Then a muffled thud out in the hall just about stopped her heart. She wasted precious seconds staring at the closed door wishing herself invisible, before frantically searching for a place to hide. There were heavy velvet drapes covering the windows, they’d have to do. Praying her dust allergies wouldn’t give her away, she hid between the folds, clenching the edges of the fabric in her hands. Kicking herself seven ways to Sunday for leaving the key in the outer lock, she held her breath when the door opened.

I owned a successful diner in my hometown for a number of wonderful years. Now I’m ready to take up the writing reins and see how far I can travel. I expect it to be an exciting, new journey and would be honored to have your company along the way.

JacquieBiggar.com


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

In His Eyes

Her Lone Wolf

Romantic Thriller Heat Rating: 3

Romantic Suspense Heat Rating: 4

Nina Pierce

It’s always wonderful to be noticed … or is it? To those around her, Maggie Callaghan appears to have the perfect life…a handsome husband, three beautiful children, and her own business. But beneath her thin veneer lies a dark past and self-doubts. When evidence of her husband’s infidelity surfaces, Maggie leases a cottage on the Maine coast and prepares for her inevitable divorce. But a serial killer is on the hunt—and he’s marked Maggie as his next victim. Now her beachside retreat is the focus of an undercover FBI investigation targeting the murderer who’s left a trail of bodies across two states. As lies and secrets are revealed, Maggie realizes her life depends on knowing who’s protecting her—and who’s got her in his sights. Review: In His Eyes is in some ways a typical thriller about serial killers. You have an obsessed FBI investigator who pursues a killer nobody else believes exist, the local police department who don’t tolerate FBI interference easily, gross assaults and murders, and a could be victim being targeted from the beginning. Maggie (the prospective victim) is going through a separation and her difficult family situation adds complexity to the mix, but it is the particular style of writing and the author’s choice of diverse points of view that keeps you on your toes. Readers get inside the heads of not only Maggie and her husband, but also a variety of friends/ possible murderers, and although we might think we know, we’re not really told who is who. Red herrings, confusing clues and creepy guys with secret identities will keep you guessing throughout. A gripping read. Reviewed by Olga Núñez Miret

Paige Tyler

It took everything she had for FBI Special Agent Danica Beckett to walk away from the man she loved. But if she wants to save his life, she has to keep her distance. Now, with a killer on the loose and the stakes higher than ever before, the Department of Covert Ops is forcing these former lovers into an uneasy alliance… whether they like it or not. The last thing Clayne Buchanan wants is to be shackled to the woman who broke his heart. She gets under his skin in a way no one ever has and makes him want things he has no right to anymore. All he has to do is suffer through this case and he can be free of her for good. But when Clayne finds out why Danica left in the first place, everything he’s tried to bury comes roaring back—and there’s no way this wolf shifter is going to let her get away this time. Review: The top secret DCO agency has been called in by ex-operative Danica Beckett, now an FBI Agent, to help solve a serial murder case, that has some unique characteristics that Danica notices all too well. Who does the DCO send? The one man she thought she would never see again, the man who hates her more than anyone in the world, the man who’s heart she ripped to shreds, the man who she loves more than anything. Clayne Buchanan has always been somewhat of a rogue, he doesn’t play well with others, and he doesn’t work well with others. Until he was paired up with the beautiful Danica, they were the perfect pair, partners in sync with each other and then Danica destroyed him. I love this series, I like the whole government top-secret agency type stuff, the paranormal angle and of course the electrifying romance. X-Ops is a fantastic Paranormal Romantic Suspense Series and is at the top of my ones to watch for list! Reviewed by Drue Hoffman

November/December 2014 | 161


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Without A Trace

Double Take

Dixon’s Duty

Romantic Suspense Heat Rating: 3

Travel Mystery/Crime Heat Rating: 3

M/M Suspense Heat Rating: 3

Laurie White

Magazine journalist Rachel Bennett has a reputation for getting to the heart of a story. However, when her sister disappears, the story has suddenly become personal. The last thing Rachel wants right now is the distraction of Matt Romero, the detective assigned to the case. She wants a “safe” man…and Matt is anything but that. Review: It was a very nice and suspenseful read that had a lot of nice twists and turns. A hunky hero who might or might not help solve the mystery, he finds himself in along with the sister of the prime suspect, who is trying to prove that the prime suspect is innocent and being unfairly accused. It’s a quick read that’ll have you rooting for the good guys and hoping the bad guys get everything they deserve, so if you get a chance, check it out. Reviewed by Cassandra Graham

R.R. Harris

Tour the Big Island with photojournalist, Carter Woods, and his guide, the beautiful and exotic, dolphin expert, Nai’a Mitchell. Carter’s photos frame a whiplash of double takes as he helps Nai’a and her family solve the mystery of a missing war hero, who had returned to the island from combat only to run headlong into malice and greed. A modern-day Sherlock Holmes, Carter Woods leaves us with only one unsolved mystery - will he stay with his new-found love, or will he continue traveling the world alone?

Jenna Byrnes

A serial rapist and murderer on the loose. Will Kansas City’s finest solve the case before the madman strikes again? Detective James Dixon is determined to track down the most recent serial killer terrorising the people of Kansas City. The chase leads him to the Last Chance Bar and Grille, where he meets and immediately falls for the sexy owner, Bryan Scott. But things at the bar aren’t exactly as they seem. No one there remembers seeing the latest victim the night before she was brutally murdered. So why do the clues keep pointing back to the Last Chance? When the attacks strike close to home, Dix and Bryan must work together to save the next victim and whatever chance they have for happiness.

Review: Breathtaking photos and a tangled but realistic plot capture the pages of Double Take by R.R. Harris. Carter is photo-journalist who travels to Hawaii in hopes of capturing photos of the volcano. He finds much more than the volcano, including a beautiful woman and a troubled family history. Nai’a is a dolphin researcher who captures his heart. In getting to know her he becomes entranced and involved with her family’s dark past. This novel has many great qualities such as the amazing photography sprinkled throughout the story and the author’s vivid descriptions. He captures the language, customs, and traditions of the culture and weaves them into the story line. Harris does an excellent job animating the characters through colorful words and dialogue. The beginning of the story seemed a bit choppy discouraging the natural flow of the book leading me away from the plot instead of towards it. Halfway through the plot began to thicken and enticed me to continue. Overall Double Take was an interesting novella with a touch of romance and mystery.

Review: Dixon’s Duty is a brief novel, with elements of gay erotica, romance and thriller/police procedural. It is an easy read and satisfactory within its parameters. It is not a book for lovers of serious thrillers who expect detailed investigations and analysis of the police and forensic procedures. The romantic link between the two main characters, Dix and Bryan, develops very quickly and the novel justifies it by the similarities between the two men (who have been married, have grownup children, came out as gay late in life and have survived personal tragedies), their immediate sexual attraction and the investigation that ends up becoming closer and more personal than they would have liked. The writing is effective and if you’re looking for a brief gay romance, with erotic scenes, and a fairly interesting backdrop story, check it out.

Reviewed by Lisa Klaes

Reviewed by Olga Núñez Miret

November/December 2014 | 163


Young Adult | New Adult | Childrens

YOUNG & NEW ADULT

BEYOND the fairy TALE

Featured Authors,

REVIEWS and more

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

BTS HEAT RATINGS:

1 – No sexual content 2 – Behind closed doors sexual content 3 – Mild sexual content, clean language 4 - Heavy sexual content, open-door sex 5 - Erotic content, explicit sex and/or language November/December 2014 | 165


trends

reading trends in young adult

Forever YOUNG Kellyann Zuzulo

They Do Believe: A Season for Angels By the time our tiny tots are teens, Santa Claus has fallen from his sleigh somewhere over the North Sea. But that doesn’t mean belief has taken a dive. The magic of the season lives on in the books that young adults read. Apropos of heavenly legends, angels exist in many of the bestselling novels in today’s market. However, winged cherubs and elegant seraphs are not necessarily what you’ll find. “Fallen” is a popular term that is bandied about in dark plots about ripped and supernatural figures who may be more comfortable wearing horns than wings. That’s probably because angst and rebellion are topics that are near and dear to much of the young adult audience. But so is love and attraction, adversity and redemption. Angels fly on many different winds. And today’s readers want to feel the force of emotional shifts that rival their own.

November/December 2014 | 167


| Forever Young |

Following are ten young adult novels that are newly winged this year and explore angelic antics.

Ten 2014 Novels with Angels Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins (Sweet Trilogy, #3,HarperTeen—available now) Anna Whitt is the daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one. She works with the Nephilim to battle evil on earth. Kaidan Rowe is her bad-boy true love, whose love can be used against her. The amount of times that the word “hot” is used in the reviews and the description of Kaidan compels me to suspect that the sexual intensity definitely puts it at the older end of YA. Battle Angel by Scott Speer (Immortal City, #3, Razorbill— available now) The Immortal City saga was riveting enough in the first two books to keep thousands of readers fluffing their wings as they waited. The consensus seems to be that the story of the love triangle of Maddy, Guardian Jackson, and heroic pilot Tom continues the tension and intensity of the previous two books. But the ending may not be what readers prayed for A Slither of Hope by Lisa M. Basso (Angel Sight, #2, Indie Book—available now) Independently published and not widely read, this book has an imaginative array of subplots. Rayna gets a new set of wings, maybe so she can fly out of the way when the feathers start flying in another love triangle with her, Cam, and Kade.

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The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost (Broken Destiny, #1, Harlequin— available now) Hallucinations grip Ivy, but she’ll soon find out that they are real and that her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. Interestingly, this novel gets an average of four stars out of 103 reviews on Amazon, and it is ranked 2,213 among Kindle books. However, there is an amusing and painfully truthful review with one star on Goodreads that you should check out, just for the fun of it. The Revelation of Gabriel Adam by S.L. Duncan (Revelation Saga, #1, Medallion Press—available now) It’s always a challenge to redo a classic tale. Gabriel will be known to any reader as the archangel. And in this story, Gabe must set aside dreams of NYU when he finds out that he is one of the archangels, born human and sent to stop Armageddon. The cover is not captivating and it’s independently published, but Kirkus Reviews calls it a “satisfying battle between good and evil.” Awaken by Lori Adams (The Soulkeepers, #2, Flirt— available now) Here we have another love triangle and another battle between good and evil, and reviewers love it. Sophia St. James has a sexy guardian angel named Michael (what a surprise), but Demon Knight Dante is hot on her tail, with designs on dragging her to hell. Empower by Jessica Shirvington (Embrace, #5, Sourcebooks—available now) There’s a pretty picture of wings on the cover, the precursor to a final battle between Angels and Exiles. I’ll let you guess who the good guys and the bad guys are. Angels have given Violet abilities


| Kellyann Zuzulo |

that put her in the path of evil minions. She has to figure out how to use those abilities before they are used against her and her angelic cohort. Dark Hope by Monica McGurk (Archangel Prophecies, #1, Greenleaf Book Group—available now) The Archangel Prophecies series is off to a great start, just like Hope Carmichael, who is liberated from a religious zealot father and starts high school in Atlanta. There, she meets Michael and wonders why he seems so familiar. Uh, maybe because his name is Michael, and this is a book with angels. Just a guess. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments, #6, Margaret K. McElderry Books— available now) If you’re a Mortal Instruments fan, you already know about this book. Clary, Jace, and Simon return in this final installment of the series. “Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world.” Kind of makes it hard to see shadows. Just sayin’. Guardian by A.J. Messenger (The Guardian, #1, Indie Book—available now) There’s a mysterious and attractive new stranger at school. No, it’s not Michael in Dark Hope or Michael in Awaken, it’s Alexander Ronin. High school senior Declan Jane soon learns about special abilities and ominous threats . . . yes, pretty much the description of any of these books. It’s all about the writing, and USA Today notes that, “Within this everyday world is a great cast of characters who bring life to the story—a feat that couldn’t be done without Messenger’s distinctive literary style and voice.” And the best part . . . it’s only 99 cents at Amazon.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST 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 101 Nights series from Boroughs Publishing Group has genies instead of angels, but they’re just as heavenly. The latest installment is Dangerous Devotion, released in August 2014. 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

November/December 2014 | 169


feature sneak peek

Jessica Dragon Cheramie Secrets of the Truth

When trying to find out who you are, you may just get more than you bargained. Meridienne Drake thought she had it all figured out, but her parents had other plans for her. Thrown on a plane to Portland, Oregon, to spend the summer with family she never knew existed, Meridienne realizes she didn’t know the people who raised her at all. More than that, strange things are beginning to happen to her. Meridienne wants to be anything other than strange. But the strange and unusual just keep occurring until she discovers an even bigger secret: magic. Her fourteenth birthday reveals secrets and realities that Meridienne had only dreamed about, literally. Meridienne and Katie managed to slip away from the party with an excuse to show Katie around. Daniel, instead of going with them, said he needed rest after the long trip that morning. They entered the ballroom. Katie pretended she knew how to waltz and danced in sweeping motions all over the room. “Is Daniel okay?” Meridienne dropped onto a chaise longue chair. “I mean I know he said he was tired, but he looked more annoyed when he left.” Katie, still dancing with her imaginary partner, said, “He’s hormonal. Don’t worry about him.” “He didn’t want to come?” A funny noise slipped through Katie’s lips. “Are you kidding me? He volunteered to come. My mom wasn’t keen on letting me go alone. Daniel was all too willing to come with.” “Well, technically, you were with my parents, so you wouldn’t have been alone.” “On the flight here, but you ‘rents won’t be staying as long as we are.” Katie shot a huge grin Meridienne’s way as she spun around. Katie abruptly stopped dancing and laid herself over the end of the chair that Meridienne was cuddled on. “Okay. Next room.” When Meridienne neared the library, her headache that she had earlier instantly returned, growing in intensity with every step. She kept going, knowing what she needed to do—find the book. Upon entering the library, colors radiated around the large room. They seemed to project off the sparkling book. How did the book get back there? Katie didn’t seem affected by the colors. “Wow, I think this library is bigger than George Washington Middle’s.” Meridienne, unable to properly form words, muttered, “Uh-huh.” 170 | btsemag.com

Katie realized Meridienne’s sudden change. “Hey, you okay?” Meridienne struggled to speak but moved closer to the book. “Yeah. Need the book.” That was the best she could do. Katie stopped dead in her tracks and followed her up the spiral staircase. “What?” Katie watched as Meridienne climbed the ladder, reaching for the book. The moment Meridienne grabbed the book, she fell of the ladder almost falling over the railing. Visions that she had recognized from her dreams that she had her entire life became clear. Centuries of bloodlines flowed through her veins. Memories of lives she hadn’t lived blended with her own. She began seeing things she couldn’t understand. Realizing myths that she heard since she was a child were real.

For twenty-three years, she was known as Jessica Dragon. Having a last name such as this inspired her debut novel, Secrets of the Truth. She was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina flooded her home, she moved to Houma, Louisiana where she resides to this day.

JessicaDragonCheramie.com


reviews young adult | new adult

Enhanced

Sacrificed

Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Courtney Farrell

Sixteen-year-old Michelle is a product of the Institute’s eugenics program, where people are bred like livestock. One doctor decides which kids get to grow up, and which disappear. Only Culls walk into the slum outside Institute walls, and they never come back. Michelle has survived every purge, and she’s about to win a luxurious life as a breeder. Then the doctor banishes her brother Seth and her boyfriend Brian, and she risks everything to find them in the cutthroat slum. She’s in trouble until handsome Dillon stakes a claim to her. Michelle is mortified, because Norms are practically animals. But the doctor is using the missing boys in a twisted plan and she needs Dillon’s help to stop him. Michelle and her friends must find Seth and Brian, but a plague is spreading, the doctor is after her and Dillon isn’t thrilled to help her find her lost boyfriend. Review: Enhanced has a wonderful premise. It was easy to immerse yourself in this novel as Farrell takes the themes of genetics and a dystopian centered world and runs with it, spinning a tale I wasn’t able to put down. Ms. Farrell did an incredible job mapping out each character: their strengths, weaknesses and what they were able to bring to the table. I really felt Michelle’s plight and the creepiness/hideousness of what the Institute does with these little more than children. Breeding, purging, abandoning…it’s the great sadness the best dystopian novels are made of, but it hurts nonetheless to read about it, even if fictionally because it makes one wonder, “Could something like this ever really happen?” I cringe to answer that. But that is the mark of a good book, when it compels the reader to pause and debate over possible scenarios in real life. Bravo, Ms. Farrell. Bravo.

Courtney Farrell

At the Institute, they breed the best and kill the rest. Sixteen-year-old Michelle is a survivor, but she’s a pawn in a game she doesn’t understand. A remote arctic military base mysteriously goes silent. The Institute’s founder needles his old enemy, the colonel, by sending teenagers to help. Michelle’s half-breed boyfriend Dillon makes the team, along with her disturbingly hot ex, who won’t give her up. When their helicopter arrives at the base, Norms attack. The rebels capture Michelle, but they’re not the brutal savages she imagined. Their cause is a just one. The colonel is capturing their women and killing their men, and if it continues, these primitive people will die out entirely. Will Michelle take up arms against her own kind? . Review: Sacrificed, by Courtney Farrell, did not disappoint as a follow up to Enhanced. The twists, turns and dilemmas are taken to a whole new level in this sequel. Michelle finds herself captured by Rebels, (thought of as savages for an unjust cause) but she finds out soon enough that the rebels are probably the least savage of the entire group. It’s not long before Michelle is caught up in a game of moral dilemma’s and ethics where she is the pawn. The author continues developing the characters introduced to us in the first making them relatable and allowing the reader to cheer even more for them and their cause. The sequel was as heart pounding as the first, loaded with action, suspense and wrapped up nice with a pretty dystopian bow on top. Great read! Reviewed by Sasha Hibbs

Reviewed by Sasha Hibbs

November/December 2014 | 171


reviews young adult |sneak new adult peek

Holli Anderson

Five Out of the Dark Five teenagers with magical powers, living in the Seattle Underground, become protectors of the human race against otherworldly foes. When their leader, Johnathan, is bitten by a changeling— the consequences are dire. Paige vows to find a way to cure Johnathan of the evil now embedded in his soul. Johnathan’s desperate situation isn’t the only problem the Five have to deal with. They are also gearing up to face their toughest and most dangerous enemy yet—a powerful and ruthless Warlock who will go to any means, including high school, to build his Dark Army.

Little blue sparks of electricity gathered at my fingertips. That should have scared me, or at least aroused my curiosity. But the scene playing out before me pushed away all other emotions except anger. Intense, red-hot anger. I recognized the three boys from school—future serial killers, to be sure. The trio had Sadie tied to a tree. Her usually silky black coat was covered in dirt and pine needles. One of the boys—Justin was his name; we had History together—looked up at me. “Hey, look. It’s the preacher’s daughter. Maybe we can try it on her next.” He hocked a loogy and spit at my whimpering dog. They all laughed. Sadie yelped as one boy held her tail up while a greasy haired boy knelt behind her holding a flaming lighter. He moved it closer to the firecracker they’d shoved in her behind. I could smell the singe of her fur. A fresh flurry of electric anger pushed its way out through my fingertips. My hair flew about my head, gathering more of the little blue

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bolts. Then, I lost it. Completely lost it. I pointed at the boy with the lighter and let loose all of my anger and fear. “Get Away!” I screamed, and with those two simple words, that fear and anger formed into something tangible and strong. An unseen force rammed into that sadistic boy with the power of an NFL linebacker. He flew into the tree directly behind him. The breath was knocked clean out of him. His brave, dog-torturing friends looked at him, then at me, then they high-tailed it out of there, leaving their fallen friend in a moaning, gasping heap on the forest floor. I ran to Sadie. My hands shook as I removed the offending explosive device from her butt. I untied her, all the while keeping an eye on the remaining enemy. I needn’t have worried, though. As soon as he was able to breathe again, he crawled away from the little clearing, mumbling something about “a witch.” Sadie rained slobbering dog kisses all over my face as I slumped the rest of the way to the ground. The contents of my stomach exploded from my mouth. When I finished puking, I held my hands in front of me, turning them, examining them. The blue sparks were gone. Maybe I just imagined it. I shook my head. No, I know I did something to throw that sick creep away from my dog. What just happened? The sun slipped behind the trees and the drop in temperature finally forced me to move. I rubbed my arms as my Lab and I walked along the darkened path leading to the back yard of my house. “Paige, you’re late,” my mom said when I entered through the back door into the kitchen. “You know your dad’s rule, we


reviews young adult | new adult

all have to be home in time to eat dinner together.” “Sorry,” I mumbled. She lowered her head to look into my eyes. “Are you okay, honey? You’re pale as a ghost.” She felt my forehead with the back of her hand. “Yeah,” I looked at the floor. “I’m just tired. What’s for dinner?” I wasn’t lying. I was tired. Exhausted, actually. She turned her head and scrunched up her brow. “Hmm. Chicken casserole. I hope you aren’t coming down with something. Go wash up so we can eat.” Dad said Grace and the three of us dug in. I gulped down my dinner then asked to be excused. “I have some homework I need to get done.” “Okay, sweetheart, go ahead. Love you,” my dad said. “Love you, too.” I kissed them each on the cheek and hurried to my room, Sadie at my heels. The only homework I planned on doing that night was to try to figure out what had happened in the clearing. And, to see if I could do it again. The first thing I did was flip open my laptop and hit the power button, thinking maybe the internet would have some answers. It powered on for a brief moment before emitting a sick sounding series of beeps followed by a pop. The screen went black, the power light turned off, and that was it. It wouldn’t power back on. “What . . . no, no, no.” I growled as I pushed buttons and checked the cord. My dad was not going to be happy. After much begging on my part and studious research on his, he’d finally caved in and bought the laptop for my sixteenth birthday just a few weeks earlier. I wanted to cry but forced the tears away. I needed some answers, but had no one to go to for them. Who would believe me? Well, except for those stupid boys . . . . Maybe it was all just a fluke. A freak incident where all things in the universe aligned for just a single moment. I picked up a pencil from my desk and balanced it on the palm of my hand. I concentrated on the pencil and imagined it floating. I thought I felt a twitch, but decided it could have just been my overactive imagination. Flashing back to the earlier events, I remembered saying something out loud when I blasted the boy. Concentrating on the pencil again, I imagined what I wanted it to do, then I added a word. “Rise.” The pencil lifted a couple of inches. My heart jumped into my throat and I jerked my hand back. The pencil dropped to the hardwood floor with a rattle. So much for it being a

onetime thing. Sadie looked up from where she lay on my bed. She whined, low and brief, before laying her head back down. I picked the pencil up. My heart raced as I concentrated once again. “Rise.” The pencil rose just inches from my outstretched hand. It hung in the air. I continued to concentrate and lowered my hand down to my side. The pencil stayed suspended in air. “Are you seeing this, Sadie?” I whispered. She raised her ears at the sound of her name. A gentle flow of energy formed deep inside my chest. It reached forward and wrapped around the pencil. When I cut the flow with a conscious effort, the pencil dropped to the floor. Bending to pick it up, I shook my head. I twirled the pencil in one hand, sat on my bed and scratched Sadie behind the ears with my other hand. I laid down and thought about what could have caused my newfound, frightening talents. Hmm. I don’t remember being bit by a radioactive spider. No exposure to gamma rays. I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t find me in a field surrounded by the remains of a spaceship. I ran through all I knew about magic and superhuman abilities. Which wasn’t much—just the comic book stuff. Which wasn’t real. Maybe an alien life force implanted a chip in my brain. I drifted off to sleep as chaotic thoughts bounced around my head.

Holli Anderson has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing—which has nothing to do with writing, except maybe by adding some pretty descriptive injury and vomit scenes to her books. She discovered her joy of writing during a very trying period in her life when escaping into make-believe saved her.

Holli-Anderson.com November/December 2014 | 173


reviews young adult | new adult

Lady Thief

Shelby M. Hailstone YA Light Scifi Romance Heat Rating: 2

The Lady Thief used to be famous for her prowess as a thief—but after a run-in with Devon Harris and his team of spies, rumors of romance follow her everywhere. So she jumps at the opportunity to infiltrate a top-secret project guarded by Devon’s team: a superhuman experiment. But when another infiltrator threatens the safety of everyone involved, will the Lady Thief walk away—or save the very people sworn to bring them in? Review: The Lady Thief is the most famous criminal of her time, but ever since her brush with a spy named Devon, sappy love stories have replaced her previously imperious image. So when Devon and his team embark on a secret project designed to create the ultimate superhuman agent, the Lady Thief quickly discovers that infiltrating his team is more complicated than she ever imagined. Lady Thief is a head-spinning, mindblowing thrill ride that will leave you hungry for more. The superhero-esque action meets the cunning world of renowned spies stuns as battle lines are drawn and hearts on put on the line. The passion sizzles off the page and the adrenaline is enough to make you dizzy in anticipation for what’s to come. Lena and Devon are playful and dazzling in their wildly innocent attraction. Their interactions are sweet and yet full of fresh barbs and sarcasm. The plot is epic. Not only is the Lady Thief a powerhouse protagonist with mean mechanical skills, she’s a real, bold, and morally conscious thief. Unexpected and unforgettable. Reviewed by Jordan White

174 | btsemag.com


reviews young adult | new adult

Eruption

Firecracker Queen

Young Adult Heat Rating: 3

Romance Heat Rating: 2

J. Hughey

I’m living the perfect college semester, miles from Mom, with an awesome roomie and my freshman crush becoming a sophomore reality—Hotness! I’m mastering calculus, both hands on the handlebars and the wind in my hair. What could slow my roll? How about if the Yellowstone caldera erupts for the first time in 630,000 years, spewing a continuous load of ash (crap) all over North America? Think that’ll put a kink in my bicycle chain? Review: Eruption, book 1, is off to a nice start in the Yellowblown series. The story immediately introduces us to Violet, a girl going to college and leading what seems a normal life until disaster hits, a devastating eruption that leaves what felt like a virtual wasteland behind. Once the volcano erupts, Violet is forced to see the devastating impact the eruption left in its wake. Reality check number one coming in the form of her school getting shut down and forcing her back to her parent’s ranch. I loved the way the author clearly pulled from her knowledge of what effects an eruption would have across the land and her imagination in pulling together a romance during a catastrophic natural disaster such as this. I enjoyed reading about Boone and Violet. Boone was detailed wonderfully and it was a pleasure to read about Violet’s feelings. The end was satisfying and while there were no OMG Cliffhanger moments, I would love to pick up the next book to see where the author takes this.

Cat Shaffer

How can one small town cause Betsey Jones such big

problems? Betsey Jones has one simple desire: to spend a peaceful summer in her hometown of Milford Falls, Michigan, while she decides what to do with the rest of her life. But Betsey hadn’t figured on being blackmailed into competing in the Miss Firecracker contest, mentoring a teen who didn’t want a faux big sister or coming face to face with Quentin Hayes, the cocky jock from her high school years. Review: This short (124 pp.) and gentle romance is a ‘next door category romance’. And it does what it says in the tin? Wholesome and likeable characters with some difficult experiences in their pasts now trying to decide the direction of their future, a group of endearing and slightly cracked ladies, a worthy mission (well, two), a beauty pageant as oldfashioned as Milford Falls, the picture perfect small-time American town, a beau who re-discovers the girl he ignored as a youth and the charms of small-town…No great passions, no big suffering, no shocks. Comfortable as an old pair of slippers. If you’re looking for romance with no sex, no violence, no swear words and no nasty surprises, suitable for all ages, this could be it. You might smile but it won’t rock your world. Reviewed by Olga Núñez Miret

Reviewed by Sasha Hibbs

November/December 2014 | 175


feature sneak peek

I put my hand to his cheek. “You did good. I won’t make you go any further.” Twisting back into my seat, I put the car into reverse and parked it on the side street. I unbuckled my seat belt and got out. “Stay here.” There was a momentary pause then he gave a soft chuckle. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” “No. Let’s go home.  Something’s wrong with this whole thing.” For seventeen-year-old The ulcer forming in my stomach confirmed Maggie Johnson, transitioning his word but I still said, “You don’t know that for the dead isn’t hard. What’s sure.” tough is surviving the insults “Why’s he driving to my house?  Did Craig and pranks of Serge Popov, ever act like he liked you until after the murder?” high school thug and the “No, but—” dumbest jock to ever set foot “Your dad’s dating the town cop—you’re in Dead Falls, Alberta. When ground zero for information about Amber. Don’t she finds him dead and later you find it weird?” discovers his spirit trapped “You think it was Craig and not your dad who in her room, she figures it’s killed you?” a case of divine justice. Let He shook his head. “No, but something’s the jerk rot for eternity, bound weird and he’s suddenly all over you?  It’s not to an earthly prison. But right.” someone—or something— “Thanks a lot.” I pushed out of the car. has a different agenda. If “Maggie, I didn’t mean it like—” Maggie doesn’t help Serge “Just stay here. I’ll be back.”  I slammed the cross over, she’ll die at the hands of the otherworldly door and took off down the street.  There was a We drove another two blocks when entity that’s taken an interest full moon and coupled with the streetlights, the he suddenly yelled, “Pull over!” His head in the dead bully. As she path before me was illuminated. I jogged. My snapped back.  “Maggie, please.” digs into the circumstances breath came out in foggy puffs that curled into “Okay, okay. I will.” I moved the car of Serge’s murder, she’ll the air and disappeared into the black sky. I tried to stay focused on the task. Whatever to the side. uncover the secrets hidden by “No! No! Go into a driveway. Now!” the world of the living and the was going on, the psychic side couldn’t hurt me. The hysteria in his voice made panic wonders revealed by cities of After all, I was doing what The Voice wanted.  I spike in my body. I swerved into the first the dead—if her investigation had some protection, but I still needed to stay on guard. Easier said than done. Serge had pissed driveway I saw. doesn’t kill her first. me off. “Douse the lights.” He was wrong. I did. So why had his words hit the bull’s eye? We sat in silence. My heart pounded and his breath Because part of what he’d said had merit, said a small came out in rapid, shallow pants.  “Why are we sitting here?” voice inside me. Because Craig really hadn’t done much “Something’s coming.” to start a relationship until Serge’s death. Because all we A few seconds later, I heard the hum of a car coming seemed to talk about was the murder. down the road. Both Serge and I turned and watched out the Man. Someone please tell me I hadn’t hooked up with back window.  The car drove by. some guy who only wanted me ’cause he got off on murder My lungs froze.  “Craig’s car.” and disaster, and was living out some blood lust fantasy I looked at Serge. through me. “I don’t know why, but he’s dangerous,” he said tightly, I turned down the street. Serge’s house was four doors his gaze still on the street.

Natasha Deen Guardian

176 | btsemag.com


on the left. I took a few steps then hit a wall. Or maybe it hit me. All I know was something hard and solid slammed my body. I hurtled backwards and smashed on to the hard pavement.  My head smacked the grass of someone’s lawn, the rest of my body caught the cement driveway. I groaned, coughed, and rolled over. Every part of my body hurt, my ears were ringing, and my head throbbed.   I pushed my hands against the grass and winced as the cuts and abrasions mixed with dirt.  Stumbling to my feet, I checked out the area, but saw nothing. Okay, what was going on? I crossed the street, shuffling because I was too sore to do anything and because I wanted to go slow in case I hit any other invisible walls. Hanging a left as I stepped on to the curb, I moved to Serge’s house. And bounced off an invisible shield. I heard a boom, like the burst of a sonic jet. Then a highpitched keening rose into the air. My heart jerked, every hair follicle on my body rose. Instinct pushed me behind a parked car and my freaked out body, in survival mode, didn’t register any pain. The wail grew in intensity, volume. Then its tone changed. From despair, I heard anger. Rage. A high undertone of violence throbbed in the scream. I slapped my hands over my ears and cowered under the minivan’s bumper. “Maggie.” My eyes snapped open.  Serge crouched in front of me but he looked terrible. Sweat poured off his face and he clutched his stomach. “We gotta get out of here.” He wheezed the words.  Serge dropped to all fours, groaning. “What’s wrong with you?” “I—I don’t know.” His body went surfboard straight, rigid and tight. The skin on his face went leathery. His mouth pulled back in a rictus grin.  His eyes, wide and frightened, stared into mine. My skin crawled as though I was being swarmed by a billion insects. I’ve never seen this happen to a ghost.  “Come on, I’ve got to get you up.”  I grabbed at him, but he couldn’t bend.  My sweat-slicked hands slid on his clothing.  I started crying. Come on, Come on, Maggie. Man up and help him. I slid my hands under his armpits, locked my fingers across his chest and heaved. Man, he was heavy. Serge made a snuffling sound and I knew he was crying. “It’ll be okay, it’ll be okay.”  I was almost straight; I glanced over at his house. The walls and roof bowed, the edges blurring like a painting with too much water poured on it. It stretched and warped, and the colours changed, like reverse negative. Bright purple, too-lime green. And black smoke. It spewed from the windows, exploded out of the chimney. The front door opened.

Fear locked me into place. A figure stepped out. The night was dark, too dark to make out faces, but I knew that frame. Had worshipped that walk. Craig. His head snapped in my direction, like he was honing in on me. I dropped to my knees, cushioned Serge’s head on my thighs. “This is bad. This is so bad.” “Leave me. I’m dead. What could happen?” He wheezed the words. “Can you try to bend? Move?” “No.” “Can you handle the pain? Try to stand?” He winced. “Yeah. Sure.” The tears streamed down my face. I knew he was lying. Either way we were dead. “Go! Go!” He tried to push me away but I wouldn’t move. He was sobbing, now. “Just go. Don’t be killed because of me.” I went to all fours, peered around the wheel of the vehicle.  Craig was gone. “It’s fine. I think I can drag you.” “I always knew you were an idiot. Totally stupid. Deadhead.” “Nice try.” I hooked my arms under his armpits. “I’m not going to get huffy and stomp away.” He clutched my hands. “You should. I’m already dead. This is a second death and it’s killing me.” I swallowed the boulder-sized stone of fear.  “Let’s go.” The wailing suddenly stopped.  I looked at the house. “It stopped,” said Serge.  “Why did it stop?” “I don’t know but it doesn’t make me feel good.” He took a breath. “The pain, I mean, it stopped.”  Serge twisted to his feet. I let go. “Let’s get out of here.” I turned and found Craig standing behind me.

When she’s not working on a novel, Natasha Deen teaches writing to children, teens, and adults. She loves taking walks, eating tons of chocolate, and watching a grotesque amount of television. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with her family. For more information, please visit www. natashadeen.com

NatashaDeen.com November/December 2014 | 177


reviews young adult | new adult Displaced

J.F. Jenkins

Young Adult SciFi Heat Rating: 2

Chevelle Donahue thought going into work would be just like any other boring day at the mall. Sure, there was her annoying coworker Wicken Sanders, and a promotional visit from teen heartthrob Timber Hudson, to watch and keep her entertained. But who was she kidding? Working retail was lame no matter what happened. A terrorist attack changes everything - an attack from aliens of all things. The patrons are given two options: comply or else. Complying means giving in to a new set of rules and changing her entire life. “Or else” means she has no chance of going home again. Review: Chevelle Donahue thought going into work would be just like any other boring day at the mall. Sure, there was her annoying co-worker Wicken Sanders, and a promotional visit from teen heartthrob Timber Hudson to watch and keep her entertained. But who was she kidding? Working retail was lame no matter what happened. A terrorist attack changes everything - an attack from aliens of all things. The patrons are given two options: comply or else. Complying means giving in to a new set of rules and changing her entire life. “Or else” means she has no chance of going home again. Displaced starts off slow but quickly picks up with the horrific alien abduction and integration into a pseudo-human lifestyle on a space ship. There’s sufficient paranoia and suspicion about the intentions of the aliens, the fate of the three main characters, and uncertainty about their romantic destiny. The role reversal that places women in a superior position is intriguing and mentally stimulating, sparking many questions about the state of humanity. The division of the humans into subclasses, as normal and undesirables calls into question just how far morality extends. Thought-provoking and a nuanced look at abduction, Displaced is an eyeopening glimpse at a sinister reality when fate is placed in the hands of aliens. Reviewed by Jordan White

178 | btsemag.com


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feature an interview

Bill Hayes Susan Hayes Interviewed by Danita Minnis

Veterans of the stage and screen, Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes are an unbeatable creative force. Still working the day job at the beloved soap Days of Our Lives, Bill and Susan enjoy collaborating on lush romances with pen and ink.

Bill and Susan, you are the king and queen of the soap opera world and star in the long-running fan favorite Days of Our Lives. What made you go from acting to writing the historical romance Trumpet? Was it a natural extension of your own timeless romance? Susan: “Write about what you know” everyone says, and indeed after forty years of deliriously happy marriage off screen and dramatic situations onscreen, I believe we do know what love feels like, both the highs and lows. Then too, we are actors first of all, so we spun a story of an actress in another age (The age of Napoleon, Jane Austin, and the discoveries of ancient tombs and temples in Egypt). Trumpet took seven years to research and write. Too long, perhaps, but we traveled to every location we described and had a delicious time. Twenty years of history are crammed in there amid the trials and passions of an English actress. Many of the experiences described we had lived, but I won’t share which ones. For the final draft we sat side by side at the computer reading it all, aloud, making the final cuts, changes and edits. Talk about a bonding experience! I recommend collaborating on a work of art, if you want to deepen a relationship. Bill: Susan and I are both romantics. We breathe romance, we think romance, we fantasize romantic situations. For us to write romance is our natural expression. We love to travel back in imagination to exciting times in history. For us to write of life during the Regency Period is pure joy. Theatre—acting, singing, entertaining—has ruled our careers, our studies, our lives. What else could we have written about? It had to be the story of a dreamer who dedicates mind, heart and soul to a life in theatre! Of course Lizzie Trumpet makes mistakes along way; who of us doesn’t? But she does fall in love, she does hone her talent, she does taste the heady wine of success. I love her. 180 | btsemag.com

Acting, singing, dancing and writing; you’ve done it all. With a career that started in the Golden Age of television, what is your inspiration for longevity and keeping it fresh in multiple venues? Susan: Believe in the material. Commit everything you’ve got to the story, the song, the moment. Half-hearted critical performers (thinking they are better than the play, the scene, the character), soon lose the audience’s faith because they had lost it themselves. Just get on with it, show up on time and don’t bump into the furniture. Bill: The infancy of our careers coincided with the childhood of television. We were trying our wings at the same time TV emerged from the cocoon of experimentalism and began to supersede radio and vaudeville, to distinguish itself from cinema, to create its own individuality. Equipment was primitive. Except for a few early John Wayne movies, programs and commercials were frighteningly LIVE-LIVE-LIVE, so that when you goofed, the entire country saw it happen. The result—inspired or dreadful—was exciting for both performers and viewers. That excitement became a part of us. Whether we are onstage in a play, or doing our act in Australia, or playing a Doug and Julie love scene, that feeling of LIVE-LIVELIVE has never left us. That’s who we are!


Artistry is honesty. Truer words were never spoken when it comes to your witty and heartwarming memoir Like Sands Through the Hourglass. How challenging was it to bare your love and life through the written word? Susan: We wrote the memoir ourselves, no ghost writer smoothing our feelings or juicing up the past. An editor far away in New York guided us, but in five months on our own we scribbled on yellow legal pads and made the deadline without a nervous breakdown. The Soap Opera editor for TV Guide said it was the best book ever put together about the soaps, because we were so honest. Of course it’s about our lives in show business and the emotions that stir us to risk being emotionally naked before an audience. Why bother if you’re not going to tell the truth? Bill: Before we put our lives and souls on paper for all to see in LIKE SANDS THROUGH THE HOURGLASS, we discussed how deeply we were going to reveal ourselves. We decided that each of us would write the truth as we saw it—even if our perceptions were exactly opposite. We determined to tell the good and the bad, the hurtful as well as the sweet, and to include both successes and failures, so that readers would not only experience DAYS OF OUR LIVES from our perspectives, but also come to know us as Bill and Susan, not just as our fictional personas. That said, our writing just happened to result in a love story—a love of our world of theatrical make-believe, of family, of life, of our collaborative relationship, and a love of each other. It’s real, and people sense that. During the creative process, actors and writers often think in terms of a legacy. What do you want to be remembered for? Susan: I would like to think I entertained a few million people in the afternoons for a while, and they remember a bit of it with a warming glow. That’s enough. That’s a great deal, really. Bill: My life dream has been to create joy, not sadness, wherever I am. I see the world through laughter, music, achievement, togetherness, family. I prefer positive to negative, creation rather than

destruction, hope over discouragement. I’m a lover, not a hater. To be remembered for this would be a dream come true.

BillandSusanHayes.com

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

November/December 2014 | 181


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