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From the Desk of

Myra Nour BTS CEO

We are happy to announce our partnership with ARC in hosting the Awards ceremony. Author tickets are only $125, which includes a half table at the book signing, and $15 for readers to attend. The hotel is Holiday Inn on Loyola Ave., and only $99 a night! Details: http://www.authorreadercon. com/arc-nola-2015.html BTS & ARC have been moving forward fast to make this a great experience for readers & authors. BTS has hired the Concierge Literary Promotions firm, Jordan Deen in Marketing, and developing a professional website to promote the convention. We are thrilled that actress & writer, Robyn Peterman, will be our Master of Ceremonies at the Awards. You probably know her husband, Steve Zahn. We are working to have professionals at the convention that would be of interest to authors. So far, our PR firm will be there: Dawn Seewer with her design services, Decadent Publishing will have an exhibit table and free books. Plans include author & reader workshops, games, scavenger hunt, reader activities with authors, and more. We are looking at moving the awards convention to Myrtle Beach in 2016, and will give updates as they develop. New Employees I’d like to welcome these new staff members to BTS: Jordan Deen (Marketing Director & Blogger Liaison), Diane Bator (Author Liaison), Barbara Bradley (Tribe 2 promotions), Amberr Meadows (FB & Twitter Connections), Char Chaffin (Promotions), and Karen Fainges (Blogger Liaison).

BTS Book Reviews

LLC

Your Guide to Great Reading

Executive Coordinator Myra Nour Executive Designer Dawn Seewer Promotions Director Babs Hightower

Review Coordinator Annette Stone

Production Assistant/ Designer Cyrene Olson

Review Assistant Rachell Largent Missy Davis Babs Hightower

Editor Sheri Kraft Associate Editor Kellyann Zuzulo Author Liaison Leslie Ferdinand Diane Bator Yahoo Promotions/ Ad Coordinator Simon Nour Promotions Assistant Missy Davis Char Chaffin Triberr Team Amber Easton Keta Diablo Barbara Bradley Marketing Director Blogger Liaison Jordan Deen Blogger Liaison Karen Fainges Social Media Amberr Meadow

Reviewers

Negar Arvanaghi Stacie Carrier Karen Fainges Susan Frances Cassandra Graham Brittany Hale Sasha Hibbs Drue A. Hoffman Lisa Klaes Olga Núñez Miret Kim Patten Diana Silva Annette Stone Nathifa Swan Christina Torretta

Hollywood Interviewer Danita Minnis Columnists Karen Albright Lin Alex Bardy Sandra Bunino Adrienne deWolf Christy English Babs Hightower Kelly Hudson Nikki McCarver Nicole Morgan Kellyann Zuzulo

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

September/October 2014 | 5


on the cover

23 8 | btsemag.com

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series.


contents September/October 2014

columns 15 Bestseller’s Secret

FROM DYSLEXIC TO BESTSELLER...

31 Chic Trends in Romance

SEXY GOES BUMP IN THE NIGHT

57 The Hot Hunks of History DARK DUKES OF HISTORY

79 The Heat Diva

HOT SUMMER WRAP UP

107 Ali B. and the Forty Spaceships TO READ, PERCHANCE TO DREAM...

125 The Scrying Eye

GHOSTS OF THE PAST... DEMONS OF THE PRESENT

149 Forever Young

THE RETRO SCREAM: HORROR NOVELS THAT NEVER GET OLD

166 BTS Goes Hollywood ALEX BLEDSOE

stories & serials

143 101

features 38 Christi Barth 40 Mary Manners 68 Dorothy A. Bell 72 Danita Minnis 74 Michelle Styles 86 Lisa Beth Darling 92 Adrianne Brennan 96 Carol Lynne 98 Lisabet Sarai

114 R. Peter Ubtrent 119 Eve Langlais 120 Elissa Daye 131 Bill Bitetti 134 D.E. Ireland 138 Patrick Royal 154 Shelby Hailstone 156 A.L. Jackson 158 Quinn Loftis

book reviews 29 CONTEMPORARY & ROMANCE 55 HISTORICAL & WESTERN 77 EROTIC 105 SCI-FI/FANTASY & PARANORMAL 123 MYSTERY & SUSPENSE 147 YOUNG & NEW ADULT

BOG BODIES by Diana Rubino

plus

on the website Blogging 101 with Babs Hightower Karen’s Writing Detours with Karen Albright Lin September/October 2014 | 9


in this issue

Things that go Bump in the Night As summer starts to fade, the nights are getting longer and the heat begins to break. If you’re anything like me, long nights mean more time curled with a favorite read! We’ve got a ton of wonderful new books, informative reviews and lots of great columns to help you add to your list of favorite stories. In this issue, cover author New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Dianne Duvall shares with us about her Immortal Guardian’s paranormal romance series. Join us as we chat with Dianne about her work, then take a sneak peek at Night Unbound, the latest in her popular series. Looking for more paranormal romances to feed your late night-craving? Then check out Sandra Bunino’s Chic Trends in Romance as she takes a look at some of the hottest books in this popular genre. Then, get to know some of the “Dark Dukes of History” with Christy English’s sizzling column, The Hot Hunks of History. Summer may be on its way out, but the books are hotter than ever! Dip your toes into the remnants of the heat with Nikki McCarver’s Hot Summer Wrap Up in this issue’s Heat Diva. These paranormals are sure to put the sizzle back in your nights. Next, spice up your day with the next installment of Nicole Morgan’s popular serial romance, Sex & the Single Woman. And if a little out-of-this-world action is more your style, check out some great SciFi and Fantasy reads that go bump in the night with Alex Bardy’s column, To Read, Perchance to Dream...

Our ‘things that go bump in the night’ theme continues with Kelly Hudson’s chilling column, The Scrying Eye. Find some great reads with Ghosts of the Past... Demons of the Present. Then, get your retro scream on with Kellyann Zuzulo’s Forever Young where we delve into some great classic tales sure to give you chills. Finally, take a trip down the red carpet as we interview author Alex Bledsoe about his popular Eddie LaCrosse series. And of course, you won’t want to miss all the great featured authors we have in store for you this issue. You’re sure to find some great reads to keep you up every long night!

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

September/October 2014 | 13


craft

wisdom for writers

BESTSELLER’S

Secret

Adrienne deWolfe

From Dyslexic to Bestseller and Indie Pioneer to Amazon Consultant: No Obstacle too High for Ortolon Imagine being functionally illiterate: You can’t jot a phone message. You can’t write a check. Words look like “squiggles” on a page. Now imagine that your dream is to become a successful published novelist. Sounds like the makings of an intriguing, heroic character, right? Well, USA Today Bestselling Romance author Julie Ortolon is the embodiment of that intrepid heroine—and then some. Not only did she overcome dyslexia to live her writing dream, she doggedly hurdled escalating career obstacles (including publisher buyouts and tanking sales) to keep her dream alive. Fed up with traditional publishing, she finally extricated herself completely from that world. She became a pioneer in electronic self-publishing and earned a staggering income for having the courage to reinvent herself. This is one Indie author whom Amazon.com board members call when they want to talk about electronic publishing trends! When I first conceived of the column, “Bestseller’s Secret,” I wanted to inspire readers and writers alike, by sharing the wisdom of authors who had the courage to ignore the naysayers and the tenacity to beat the odds. Naturally, I thought of Julie. I first met her when she was an aspiring author, who kindly attended a book signing for my own debut novel, Texas Outlaw. Julie confided then that she was trying to write an historical romance novel for publication. Nearly twenty years later, Julie and I reconnected by telephone in her Austin, Texas, home. Looking back over her career, she described it as a series of obstacles that she refused to be limited by. But don’t let Julie’s gracious southern manner fool you: she’s a fighter. Dragging herself up by the bootstraps wasn’t easy.

September/October 2014 | 15


| Bestseller’s Secret | “I always had stories in my head,” she said, confessing that she’d nurtured the idea of that original historical manuscript for fifteen years. “Because I couldn’t read, I didn’t know my idea was a romance. I barely graduated from high school—I got by on sympathy Cs. There were so many obstacles to my stories that I just didn’t believe (writing them) was possible.” Turning to art (which, at the time, Julie believed was her only viable career), she owned a gallery and helped to market other artists. Then one day in her mid-twenties, she overheard her journalist-husband chatting in the adjacent room about a new computer and its state-of-the-art functions. “When I heard him talking about spell-check, my whole body went still. My life changed forever. I put down the paintbrush and got on the computer.” With the help of her husband, who tutored her every night after work, Julie spent five years learning how to read proficiently (she chose romance novels as her textbooks.) Next, she learned how to type on a computer keyboard. Finally, she learned how to develop characters and weave plots so she could write fiction. “My first historical romance manuscript was 700 pages—single-spaced,” she recalled, laughing. Overall, Julie dedicated ten years to mastering the skills that she would need to pursue her writing dream, including her switch from an historical voice to a contemporary one. That dedication paid off in a big way: her first published novel, Drive Me Wild, became a USA Today Best seller. Then the next wave of trouble hit. Julie had a two-book contract with Dell. Before Drive Me Wild was released in paperback, Random House merged with Bantam Dell, cutting 200 authors. Despite Julie’s smash debut, Random House gave her back the rights to her second book. (Later, Random House offered to buy that same book for more money! Isn’t that insane?) Meanwhile, Julie moved to St. Martin’s Press, where, unfortunately, she wasn’t treated much better. “Publishers are like horse breeders,” she said. “If they 16 | btsemag.com

see another breeder’s horse in the pasture, they want that horse. They put all their energy into securing that sale. Then they lose interest in the acquisition and focus their attention on something else.” (In this case, another author.) Despite her instant bestseller status, plus a Booksellers Best Award for Falling for You, St. Martin’s let her languish in its stable of authors, doing little to push her new releases. So Julie jumped ship to NAL (New American Library). By this time, Julie’s book Dear Cupid had also hit the USA Today Bestseller list for St. Martin’s—not that this achievement did her any good. NAL saddled her novels with cartoon covers (which were statistically unpopular with her reading demographic.) What was worse, book merchandisers didn’t recognize her covers as romance fare, so they shelved her novels in the Young Adult section—where her readers never thought to look for them. As if to rub insult into the injury, NAL informed Julie, “Readers just aren’t buying what you write anymore.” Feeling as low as an author can feel, Julie returned to marketing and graphic arts. At the time, she was adamantly against self-publishing. But her opinion changed drastically after she began researching the advantages of the electronic market. “I felt like traditional publishing was the Titanic, going down fast,” she explained. “They didn’t listen to authors. Plus, they made it impossible to build sales” of the author’s backlist. “E-book publishing, on the other hand, provides readers with an instant supply and demand of any novel that an author has written.” Remember those books that Julie’s publisher said no one wanted to buy anymore? Well, that publisher was wrong. Combining her savvy as a marketer and artist, Julie designed her own


| Adrienne deWolfe | covers and turned her novels into a goldmine. She became recognized among romance authors as a “goto” person for authors who want to understand e-book marketing. In fact, Julie got a phone call one afternoon from Seattle, Washington—headquarters of Amazon. com. “I thought the call was a prank,” she said, laughing. “Then I realized that I was on speakerphone with Amazon’s (marketing team). They asked me questions for two hours” about the strategy she’d been using to achieve her phenomenal online sales. When I asked Julie her bestseller’s secret, she had these words of wisdom to share with authors: • The market has changed. (Promotion and selling strategies) that worked in 2009 don’t work today. • Traditional publishers no longer control the market; big online merchandisers (like Amazon) and the big e-zines do. • Invest in your website. It’s the heart and core of your marketing machine. (You can check out Julie’s websites at http://www.julieortolon.com/ and http:// www.pearlislandbooks.com/) • Invest in a professional editor. Contrary to belief, readers do want books that are well-written. • Invest in a professional formatter, to keep pace with changes in technology, and a professional cover artist, who knows what art is trending and what art is old news. • Stay fluid. Try different marketing tactics; be willing to write different genres. • The bottom line? “Your best promotion is a new book,” Julie said. “Don’t get so tied down with promotion that you’re not writing.”

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 Devil in Texas, Book 4 in her Velvet Lies Series (September 2014). For sneak peeks of her sassy ladies and sizzling rogues, visit eBook Discovery. She can also be found at: Twitter, Facebook, WildTexasNights.com, WritingNovelsThatSell.com, MagicMayhemBlog.com.

September/October 2014 | 17


, -

-


Your

LETTERS “I just wanted to let you know that my ad in BTS did wonders for my book launch. The response was beyond my expectations. Great value for my investment. I was so impressed by the service I received and the results that I have recommended you to other authors.” ~ Leigh Carron, author

“...what did work for me was a full-page ad in BTSemag (www.btsemag.com). It made an Amazon rating skyrocket on both books I promoted. They only have a circulation of 40-50k people now, but these people must be loyal and voracious. I was shocked at how many books I sold the day of and after the issue came out. [The cost] was very, very reasonable for a full-page ad in an e-magazine.” ~ C.A. Szarek, author

“What a beautiful magazine! It offers great content for both writers and readers.” ~ Cheri Roman, author

“An outstanding Emag for news, reviews, interviews, and all things author and publishing related. BTS Reviews E-mag provides readers and authors with more information than anywhere else on a variety of reading material genres.” ~ Bernard Lee DeLeo, author

“I love BTS Book Reviews, it’s a fantastic place to find great new books! The magazine is beautiful, the columns entertaining and the books... well, let’s just say, there is a whole lot on my to-beread list!! ~ Sara H., reader

Readers & Authors: Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments about anything you see in any issue of BTS Book Reviews. Your comments may be chosen to appear in our next issue! Send yours to dawn@btsemag.com today! September/October 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 Decadent Publishing - http://www.decadentpublishing.com/ 1NIGHT STAND Special Call: 1Night Stand dates have reached new levels with the opening of a BDSM underground resort club in Las Vegas. With every luxury and amenity, gorgeous pools, wellequipped dungeons, the finest in leather and steel, and devices to delight, the Carnivore Club is ready to serve some of Madame Eve’s clients. Suites are available.We are looking for stories in the BDSM genre that meet the requirements of the 1Night Stand series. While stories need not take place at the resort, consider the facilities available. We are sure your characters will have the time of their lives. Stories should be between 15-20k and are due Oct 1, 2014 for release early in 2015. 1Night Stand series details are available on the 1NS blog, Decadent1Nightstand.blogspot.com. Contact Valerie Mann (submissions@decadentpublishing.com) or Kate Richards (kate@decadentpublishing.com) with any questions. GMTA Publishing - http://www.gmtapublishing.com/ GMTA Publishing is currently looking for the following genres: Romance (All), Science Fiction (All), Horror (All), Dark Fantasy (All) & Erotica (Limited, see website submissions page for details.) Submissions are open year round! You can send your submissions to: gmta.submissions@gmail.com. We would like to congratulate Holly Lauren on her award with Tome, as a 2015 pick for ‘Clean YA reads!’ We would also like to congratulate P.S. Bartlett for making it to the final round with Reader’s Favorite in the Fantasy genre and her second place win with Pubslush and Booklogix! Come on by and check out GMTA Publishing, we have a lot of new titles out and a lot more coming out soon! Evernight Publishing - http://www.evernightpublishing.com/ Evernight Publishing celebrates its fourth anniversary in October. It’s our birthday but the readers receive the gifts! Look for contest and sales during our celebration month. Planet Alpha, Evernight’s exclusive new series, was created based on reader requests for more erotic sci-fi. Six best selling Planet Alpha titles have been released so far with more on the way. Evernight is a major sponsor for the upcoming Hot Mojave Knights reader event in Las Vegas where we are hosting Salsa Night and conducting a publisher’s spotlight featuring at least ten best selling Evernight

authors. Our authors can also be found at various book signings, conferences and readings throughout the year. Totally Bound - https://www.totallybound.com/ Totally Bound Publishing is the Home of Erotic Romance. This year we were shortlisted for eBook Retailer of the Year at The Bookseller Awards 2014. We are looking for more submissions for our What’s her Secret imprint, we want 60,000 words or more with MF or MFM content. We are also looking for submissions for our brand new MM imprint What’s his Passion, also 60,000 words or more. We have also added a new genre, the Alternate Reality genre which is now open to submissions. Writers Exchange - http://www.writers-exchange.com/ Writers Exchange is currently hiring more staff to work towards releasing more books per month than it has been able to previously. Therefore we should soon be in a position where we can reopen to submissions and increase the number of books in many of our genres. In our fiction range we are currently short on Christian, humorous books, historical, time travel, paranormal, action/adventure, war and westerns.In our non-fiction we are desperately in need of: Business, Writing Advice, Christian reference and parenting. Soul Mate Publishing - http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/ Soul Mate Publishing is proud to offer high quality romances. We opened our doors in October (2011) and are happy to report we’re steadily growing. Our talented authors continue to garner excellent book reviews. From sweet to sexy, you can find the romance you’re looking for at Soul Mate Publishing.Soul Mate is actively seeking authors who can tell an exciting story and aren’t afraid to venture into new territory. We encourage novels that are original and blur the genre lines. We are a royalty-paying publisher currently accepting submissions for the following Romance Genres:Action/Adventure, Chick Lit, Contemporary, Erotica, Fantasy, Historical, Inspirational, New Adult, Novellas, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Futuristic, Suspense/ Thriller, Time Travel, Urban Fantasy, Women’s Fiction, and Young adult. Remember, blending of genres is allowed and encouraged. Varying levels of sensuality are welcome, however all stories should have an upbeat ending. (NO depraved or illegal acts, bestiality, or pedophilia.)

September/October 2014 | 21


| Industry Insider |

Upcoming

2014-2015 Conventions Indie Romance Convention IRC September 11-14, 2014 Lebanon, TN http://www.indieromconvention.com/

Auburn Writers Conference October 17-18, 2014 Auburn, Alabama http://www.cla.auburn.edu/awc/

Southern California Writers’ Conference September 19-21, 2014 Newport Beach, California http://writersconference.com/la/

Chicago Writers Conference 2014 October 24 - Oct. 26, 2014 Chicago, IL http://www.chicagowritersconference.org/

Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers’ Conference September 25-27, 2014 St. Augustine, Florida http://www.fhbookfest.com

2015 AWP Conference & Bookfair April 8 - 11, 2015 Minneapolis, MN https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/schedule_overview

Kentucky Women Writers Conference September 12-13, 2014 Lexington, Kentucky http://womenwriters.as.uky.edu/ Hampton Roads Writers’ Conference September 18-20, 2014 Virginia Beach http://www.hamptonroadswriters.org/ DitterCon October 16-18, 2014 New Orleans, LA http://www.ditterkellen.com/dittercon. html

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AUTHOR SHOWCASE

COVER feature

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series.

Dianne Duvall September/October 2014 | 23


| Cover Author |

AN INTERVIEW WITH

DIANNE DUVALL New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

BTS: What made you decide to become a writer? I’ve always been an avid reader and, likewise, have always had a very vivid imagination. I actually wrote my first romance when I was twelve or thirteen: a Young Adult Historical Romance. And I wrote poetry in high school. But I didn’t consider writing as a career until college. I originally majored in journalism, but soon discovered two reasons that it wasn’t for me. One, I’m shy, which tends to make interviewing complete strangers uncomfortable. And two, I found all of the rules of writing nonfiction just too constrictive. I wanted the freedom writing fiction would allow and also craved those happily-ever-afters I enjoyed so much in the romance novels I read every chance I could get. So I changed my major to English, studied creative writing, gave my imagination free reign, and eagerly lost myself in my favorite genre.

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series. Every book in her series—Darkness Dawns, Night Reigns, Phantom Shadows, Darkness Rises, and the Predatory anthology—has been declared a Top Pick by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews, and/or Night Owl Reviews. Darkness Dawns and Darkness Rises have also both been nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Vampire Romance. Dianne earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of St. Thomas and loves all things creative. When she isn’t writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and once even crawled out of a moonlit grave onscreen. You can find her online on DianneDuvall. com, her Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. 24 | btsemag.com

BTS: What book that you’ve read has had the greatest impact on you? As a writer, I was most affected by Stephen King’s On Writing. I consider this book a must-read for any writer, whether aspiring or already published, because


| Dianne Duvall | it explains so clearly things my creative writing professors didn’t even attempt to tackle, like passive writing. On Writing really aided me in improving and honing my writing style. And it entertained me while doing so. Listening to it on audio is as fun for me as listening to a favorite romance novel. As a reader, I have devoured countless works of fiction over the years that impacted me. Books have always been such a large part of my life. They fire my imagination. They increase my vocabulary without my even realizing it so I can be a better writer. And they provide a welcome distraction during times of stress. My keeper shelves are packed full of hundreds upon hundreds of books I’ll never part with, because each one has affected me in some way.

BTS: What advice do you have for new writers? Write every day. I know life can be busy and hectic and stressful and exhausting. But, even if you can only manage to write a single paragraph on your worst day, you will be one paragraph closer to achieving your goal. And always look for ways to improve your writing. If I had sold 30 million books that had been translated into 20 different languages and were all international bestsellers, I would still search for ways I could become a better writer. If you’ve never taken any creative writing classes, I again highly recommend that you read Stephen King’s On Writing. It will help you distinguish between strong and weak writing and avoid the pitfalls into which new and veteran writers can unknowingly fall.

BTS: What are you currently working on? I’m currently writing the sixth book in my Immortal Guardians series, which will feature Ethan as the hero and will be released in 2015. I am very excited about the direction the series is taking. The Immortal Guardians’ world is growing increasingly more dangerous, their enemies more formidable. As the stakes rise higher than ever, my immortals are being driven to find allies in the most unlikely places. I can’t wait to see what will happen next!

I’m also writing my second Immortal Guardians novella, which will be released in an anthology in 2015. The first, In Still Darkness, was released in the Predatory anthology last year, then was released as a solo ebook this past July.

Enjoy the excerpt from

NIGHT UNBOUND Lisette prowled the University of North Carolina’s campus in Greensboro. Though the fall semester had only recently begun, parties abounded. Freshmen, thrilled to have left the nest and escaped their parents’ rule, got drunk off their asses and lured vampires like sugar lured ants. Male. Female. It didn’t matter. Easy prey was easy prey. And vampires tended to be lazy that way. Even when the brain damage the virus caused in humans progressed enough to drive them insane, sheer habit—she supposed—prompted the vampires to return to college campuses. Lisette headed toward the frat houses. Everything else might suck, but at least she wouldn’t descend into madness. Gifted ones— men and women like Lisette who had been born with extremely advanced DNA (the origins of which remained unknown)—were protected from the more corrosive aspects of the virus. They also possessed various and assorted gifts that humans and vampires didn’t. Like the telepathy that let her hear the revolting thoughts of the vampires stalking a young couple deep September/October 2014 | 25


| Cover Author | in their cups.

their twisted plans for the inebriated couple.

Two vamps. Two potential human victims who had no idea they were about to be fed upon by creatures who delighted in inflicting pain. Immortal Guardians had recently taken an unprecedented step and begun attempting to recruit vampires who had not yet succumbed to the madness. These guys didn’t fall into that category. Bad news for them. Good news for her. She really wasn’t in the mood for conversation. Lisette raced forward so fast she blurred, little more than a breeze humans couldn’t follow with their eyes. Zipping past the young couple, she barreled into the vampires like the athletes she so loved to watch in the NFL and drove them back behind the nearest building. The vampires hit the ground hard as she released them. Out of sight of the humans, she drew her shoto swords. The vamps’ eyes lit up like candles, glowing blue and green. Her own, she knew, glowed a vibrant amber. “Immortal Guardian,” one vampire sneered, making the title an insult. She saluted him with a sword as the vamps drew bowie knives longer than her damned forearm. One good thing about vampires: Most were college students who had been turned after spending most of their leisure time lounging on their asses, gaming, texting, and surfing the Internet. Few had any real skill with weapons. Unlike Lisette, who had trained with a master swordsman. The vampires attacked simultaneously. Shoto swords met bowie knives, swept them aside, and struck flesh. Howls of pain pierced the night. The pungent aroma of wild fury mixed with fear suffused the air, accompanied by the metallic scent of blood. One vampire circled around behind her. Lisette merely turned to the side and continued to swing her swords, striking metal, metal, flesh, metal, flesh, flesh, flesh. The more blood she drew, the more careless they became, at last allowing her to strike major arteries. They dropped to their knees, spewing epithets and slavering like rabid dogs as they bled out faster than the virus that infected them could repair the damage. Weak and furious, they continued to cut the air with their weapons. Lisette took a couple of steps backward and waited as they collapsed and drew their last breaths. It would’ve been a hard thing to watch had she not heard

A moment passed. Their bodies began to shrivel up like mummies as the virus devoured them from the inside out in a desperate bid to continue living. Dr. Melanie Lipton had told Lisette this virus behaved like no other on the planet, and the proof lay—disintegrating on the ground—before her. She glanced around to ensure no humans loitered nearby. “Don’t do it,” she counseled herself softly as a compulsion grew within her. Yet again, the words didn’t stop her. Sighing, she looked up and searched the rooftops around her, waiting to see if a dark, winged figure would separate itself from the shadows. It didn’t. “You knew he wouldn’t be there,” she muttered with disgust, and bent to retrieve the bowie knives. “Who wouldn’t?” a deep voice queried softly. Gasping, she straightened and spun around. “You.” Just as she had imagined a thousand times, a tall figure emerged from the darkness and slowly approached her. Damned near seven feet tall, he towered over her five-foot six-inch form. Dark leather pants. No shirt. Just a leanly muscled form bereft of hair except for the raven tresses that adorned his head and fell beneath his shoulders. Behind him spread beautiful wings that would span twelve or fourteen feet when fully extended. Nearly translucent, the feathers that graced them were the same tan as his skin at the wings’ base and darkened to black at their tips. Her fingers curled as she remembered touching them. Just once. So soft. Like the hair on a newborn baby’s head. “Zach,” she breathed. The last time she had seen him he had saved her life. Stopping several feet away, he closed his eyes for a moment. “You remember my name.” “Of course I do,” she said, heart racing. “It’s only been four months.” His eyes opened, so dark a brown they were nearly black. “Is that how long it’s been? Four months?” She nodded. “Who were you looking for?” he asked. “You,” she admitted, though she knew she shouldn’t. A month ago, when curiosity and no recent sightings had driven her to ask about this intriguing, yet formidable immortal, Seth had not reacted well. Face dark with rage, he had instructed her to forget Zach and to stay away from him. Zach tilted his head to one side. “Why?”

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| Dianne Duvall | “I . . . ” Can’t stop thinking about you. “I wanted to apologize.” “For what?” Was that moisture forming on his forehead? Even immortals her age could regulate their body’s temperature without thinking about it. Though the night was unusually warm, his body should be cool. “For what?” he asked again. She swallowed hard, wishing now she had thought of another answer. This man possessed almost as much power as Seth. Pissing him off probably wasn’t a very good idea. He glanced to the side, as though he heard something she couldn’t. “I don’t have much time,” he murmured, and returned his attention to her. “I wanted to apologize because . . . I think I said something that made Seth angry at you.” His eyes flashed golden. “What?” Thunder rumbled overhead, drawing her wary gaze. “After we fought Donald’s mercenaries that last time, I asked Seth why he didn’t just do what you did when you came to my rescue and kill all of our enemies with a thought instead of letting us risk our existence in battle with them.” She shook her head. “The question seemed to anger him.” An understatement. “But that anger seemed to be directed at . . . you.” A shadow formed on Zach’s chest. No. Not a shadow. A large bruise. Another darkened the area around one eye. “I thought . . . ” A long gash, like that cut by a whip, streaked across his chest, parting the bruise. What the hell? Her gaze darted all around them, seeking but finding no assailant. “I thought,” she stuttered, “that might be why I haven’t seen you around.” More gashes opened on his flesh as he stared at her, his handsome face expressionless. “I thought Seth might have told you to stay away.” An ugly abrasion formed on his temple. Blood trailed down to the edge of his strong jaw and drip, drip, dripped onto his broad shoulder. She took a step forward. “Zach, what’s happening to you?” In what seemed like seconds, bleeding lash marks striped his arms, shoulders, chest, and abdomen. His jaw clenched as, beneath her horrified gaze, bones in his wings began to break. Swearing, she raced to his side, swords raised to combat . . . whoever the hell was doing this to him. Feathers fluttered to the ground at his feet as he staggered. Those still attached to his wings began to glisten with crimson liquid as wound after wound appeared.

“Who’s doing this?” she shouted, panic threatening. Who could move so fast that even she couldn’t see them? “I can’t stay,” he whispered, blood painting his teeth and staining his lips. “Who’s doing this to you?” she repeated urgently. “How can I help you?” He shook his head. “You can’t. I can’t believe you would even want to, knowing . . . ” “Knowing what?” He grunted as another bone snapped. “Zach!” His eyes rolled back as his knees bent. Lisette dropped her swords and thrust her arms out to catch him as he sank toward the ground. A warm breeze washed over her as he vanished inches before they touched. Shaken, she stared down at her empty arms. “Zach?” Turning in a circle, she waited for whatever unseen force had attacked him to turn its attention on her and begin inflicting wounds. It didn’t. “Zach!”

September/October 2014 | 27


| Cover Author |

DARKNESS DAWNS Immortal Guardians Book 1

DARKNES RISES Immortal Guardians Book 4

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NIGHT REIGNS Immortal Guardians Book 2

NIGHT UNBOUND Immortal Guardians Book 5

PHANTOM SHADOWS Immortal Guardians Book 3

Also Available: In Still Darkness Immortal Guardians Novella


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

September/October 2014 | 29


trends reading trends in romance

Trends ChicRomance in

Sandra Bunino

Sexy Goes Bump in the Night Even if paranormal romance is not your go-to genre, this is the time of year to embrace your inner vampire, shifter, or witch. Paranormal (PN) romance is hotter than ever, and it shows no sign of cooling off. Since I usually read just a handful of PN each year, I turned to the romance book experts in my Facebook group, Bunino’s Bookalicious Babes, for their favorites.

September/October 2014 | 31


| Chic Trends in Romance |

Dark Bites First up is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Series and Dark Bites (St. Martin’s Press—now available) is the perfect taste of Ms. Kenyon’s best selling series. For years, fans have been clamoring for an all-in-one collection of #1 bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon’s novellas. At their enthusiastic behest, we have delivered this brand-new short story collection, Dark Bites, including stories previously exclusive to Sherrilyn’s website, as well as an all-new, never-before seen DarkHunter story! Sherrilyn Kenyon takes readers from the Dark-Hunters to the demigods, from Dream-Hunters to demons, and everything in between. Dangerous and exciting, each story is one thrill ride after the next, proving time and again how Sherrilyn has captivated millions of readers worldwide. Now, readers are invited to go deep into Kenyon’s rich and imaginative world and experience the heartracing moments that never stop coming!

Alpha Mine Aline Hunter’s Alpha and Omega Series is another Bookalicious fan favorite. Like all of the Alpha and Omega’s series, Alpha Mine (Alpha and Omega, #4, Ellora’s Cave—now available) is set in New York City. Oh, how I love the Big Apple setting! A mating like no other. Trey almost turned his back on his pack to claim Sadie—the stunning vampire who made him whole and crept into his soul. Finally, things have settled. But as an alpha, Trey’s always busy. Thankfully he has a woman who’s more than happy to ease his frustrations, see to his every desire and give him as much of her as he can take. He can’t wait to greet each day with his mate by his side. Then Shepherds return to New York and start killing off shifters. Sadie’s powerful enough to protect their people but Trey is determined to keep her safe. Until other dangers arise—ones that could harm humans and immortals alike—and he needs her help when things take a turn for the worst. To destroy their enemies, they’ll have to stand together. Even if it means risking everything, including each other. 32 | btsemag.com


| Sandra Bunino |

Dark Skye Last but not least, what PN romance list is complete without Kresley Cole? Check out the cover of new release Dark Skye from the Immortals After Dark Series (Immortals After Dark, #15, Gallery Books—now available). In this highly anticipated fifteenth novel in the Immortals After Dark series, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole spins a sultry tale of a mighty warrior scarred inside and out and the beguiling sorceress with the power to heal him—or vanquish him forever. Eternal Obsession As a boy, Thronos, prince of Skye Hall, loved Lanthe, a mischievous Sorceri girl who made him question everything about his Vrekener clan. But when the two got caught in the middle of their families’ war, tragedy struck, leaving Thronos and Lanthe bitter enemies. Though centuries have passed, nothing can cool his seething need for the beautiful enchantress who scarred his body—and left an even deeper impression on his soul. Endless Yearning Lanthe, a once-formidable sorceress struggling to reclaim her gifts, searches for love and acceptance with all the wrong immortal suitors. But she’s never forgotten Thronos, the magnificent silver-eyed boy who protected her until she was ripped from the shelter of his arms. One harrowing night changed everything between them. Now he’s a notorious warlord with a blood vendetta against Lanthe, hunting her relentlessly. Can the heat of desire burn brighter than vengeance? With their families locked in conflict and battles raging all around them, will Thronos and Lanthe succumb to the brutal chaos that threatens everything they cherish? Or will the fragile bond they formed so long ago spark a passion strong enough to withstand even the darkest doubts?

So grab your e-reader and an extra blanket because these stories are guaranteed to keep you reading well past your bedtime!

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

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reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

Deeper Than Need

Shiloh Walker Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

Time heals all wounds Eager to put a dark, troubled past behind her, Trinity Ewing buys an old house that will make the perfect refuge for her and her young son once renovations are complete. The last thing on her mind is finding someone new…but the contractor she’s hired is an irresistible distraction—and Trinity can’t help but fantasize about all the business they could be doing behind closed doors. So does one man’s touch Noah Benningfield thought he’d put his demons behind him. But the moment he lays eyes on Trinity, the temptation he feels is too powerful to deny. Soon the attraction between them explodes into something neither of them could have imagined. But their desire will be put to the test when a shocking local murder has them dodging danger at every turn. Can the beautiful and damaged Trinity trust someone like Noah, whose own past is as haunted as her own? The only thing she knows for sure is that she can’t live without a man who makes her feel this good—over and over again…

Better She Live

Judy Baker Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3

Ruby Thornton, the proprietor of a saloon, meets the businessman who has the entire town smitten, including her. When a cowboy named Stryker propositions her for a night of pleasure. She’s tempted. Only, she isn’t a prostitute. Who’s the shrewd and fiendish man, the wealthy Webster or Stryker, who called her a prostitute? Caught up in a charmed life, Ruby’s backed into a corner of kidnapping and murder. Who can she trust?

Review: My first Shiloh Walker read and oh what a read it is. The secrets that are held and the path we read through to uncover them is totally captivating. I love Noah and Trinity and their journey to finally be happy, but there are horrendous secrets that once uncovered could be their undoing. They both think they have been to hell and back, but what lies in hiding could take them farther into hell than they ever imagined, if they even survive it. This book had it all, mystery, suspense, romance, and I can’t wait for the next installment and to uncover who all is involved in what seems to be a decades long top secret hidden ritual that some will kill to keep hidden.

Review: Best She Live really struck a chord with me, from the title page to the very end. Although not a huge Western fan, the story was so real to life and the characters so absorbing, even those that hate Stetsons and horses may still read and enjoy this book. While there are moments of hot flashes of passion at the smell of leather that seem to be clichés for every western romance, they were actually believable and I found myself nodding and reading on. More to the point, I enjoyed reading this book from the moment I picked it up until I finally put it down. If not for the fact that I had to work and feed my family, I would not have put it down at all. Told mainly from the point of view of Ruby, the owner of a ‘clean’ saloon in a small mid-western town, the impact on her life of the coming of the railroad and Richard, the Railway owner, the knowledge of the true history of the West shines through in the everyday impact on those living in the towns the rail connected during its heyday. So if you like your history, real characters that had a story to tell, Stetsons and six-shooters or romances, read this book. If you like them all, strap in, you are going to love this book.

| Reviewer: Drue A. Hoffman |

| Reviewer: Karen Fainges |

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reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

Find My Way Home Michele Summers Romance Heat Rating: 4

Interior decorator Bertie Anderson is almost ready to say goodbye to small-town life in Harmony, North Carolina. She’s excited about living her dream life at her new job in Atlanta, the design capital of the South. She just has one last job to do… Keith Morgan is ready to leave his fast paced life in Miami for a quiet life where he can raise his ten-year-old daughter. Unfortunately, his new lifestyle is threatened the moment he lays eyes on the decorator his aunt hired to help him create his dream home—the curvaceous temptation that is Bertie Anderson. As Bertie begins to turn his house into a home, will he find his way into her heart before it’s too late and she leaves Harmony for good? Review: What do you get when you combine Betty Boop and Daffy Duck? Unexpectedly you get the fourth of July.  Well with all the fire-works going off, I thought it was the fourth of July.  Michele Summers wrote an amazing story that had me a little disappointed at the end.   Bertie Anderson is an interior decorator with her own business that has the determination to get out of her home town. Even if that means quitting her business and accepting a lowly position at a firm in the city of Atlanta, the design capital of the South. Everything was going as planned until Keith Morgan walked into her life. Keith Morgan went to see a man name Bert, which his aunt recommended, to redecorate his new home.  Leaving the fast lane for a more simple life for the sake of his ten year old daughter, Keith just wants some peace and quiet, but instead he gets a clumsy, big chested woman who dresses inappropriately for a work site that he can’t keep his hands off of.  Can Daffy Duck, sorry, I mean Keith get over himself in time to realize that Bertie is the best thing for him and find his way home or would he let the women of his past mess up his future.  Find out in the exciting tale of Find My Way Home. Michele Summer wrote a fun and exciting story that had me relating since me and Bertie share something in common, we’re both very shapely and I love that I can relate to that.  The thing that had me disappointed is that Bertie gave in to quickly. | Reviewer: Nathifa Swan |

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feature sneak peek

Christi Barth

Up To Me

Ella Mayhew’s view improves dramatically when a hot stranger runs by—shirtless. He’s the first man to kickstart her hormones in the three years since she lost her parents. Graydon Locke’s on his umpteenth undercover assignment. Then he makes two classic rookie mistakes—falling for the sweet, sexy girl who owns the business he’s on the verge of axing. And letting the small town’s residents get involved in both his life, and his relationship with Ella. Ella’s the best thing to ever happen to Gray, but he’s lied to her from the start. If he pulls the plug on Mayhew Manor, the entire town may crumble. It’s up to Ella to save her family’s hotel. Even if that means turning her back on true love.

Slowly, her gaze traveled up his long, tan legs covered in dark hair, up muscled thighs to…boxer briefs. Probably. Only the edge showed beneath the gap in the robe. Still, it was enough to get her thinking. Musing about everything she couldn’t see. Things she wanted to rub up against. Instead, she blurted out, “You’re wearing a bathrobe.” “It’s the middle of the night. Is there a dress code I don’t know about?” Gray smoothed the lapels. Too bad he wore a T-shirt beneath it. “A No Shirt, No Shoes, No Wine policy?” Funny. Gray tugged smile after smile out of her with the same ease a magician pulled endless scarves from his sleeve. “Most people don’t take up the already limited space in a suitcase with a bathrobe. I’m trying to decide what it says about you.” “Got any guesses?” “Germaphobe?” “Nope.” She took a long drink. Savored the smooth tang of the tannins, while equally savoring the sight of his utter masculinity sprawled across her stairs. “Door-to-door bathrobe salesman?” That surprised a short bark of laughter out of him. “Interesting guess.” He let his fingers trail slowly down the back of her hand, lingering before taking back the glass. “Got anything else?” Why not go for broke. Throwing caution—and possibly her pride—to the wind, Ella looked up at him from beneath lowered lashes. “Underwear model?” A dark eyebrow shot skyward. “You’re flirting outrageously with me, Ella.” Quite true. Gray had apparently popped the tiny cork in the dam holding back three years of pent-up, ignored lust. The release threatened to overwhelm her. She 38 | btsemag.com

held her breath. “Do you mind?” “Not one bit,” he said in a slow, husky drawl. “More that I’m thinking I need to step up my half of the conversation.” “In what way?” “Well, I’ve been very remiss in not mentioning how cute you look with your hair all tousled.” He leaned forward, spearing his fingers through the long strands hanging behind her back. Along the way, he grazed her neck with his thumb. Goose bumps formed a path of stepping stones that, if Gray followed them, would lead straight to the very most erogenous of her zones. “Seeing it like this just makes a man want to play with it. Comb through its softness. Imagine it trailing across my chest—and what we could do to mess it up more.” Her heart skipped a beat. Then hammered into double time to make up for it. “You catch up quick. I bet you used to rock the heck out of make-up tests in school.” “I prefer to do things right from the start.” Gray kept one hand lazily brushing through her hair. With the other, he passed her the wine glass again. The hypnotic rhythm of his hand in her hair made her want to arch into his touch, to flutter her eyes shut and revel in the feel of it.

Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes awardwinning contemporary romance. Christi lives in Maryland with her husband.

ChristiBarth.com


reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

Parker’s Passion

Sabrina York Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 4

Scarred by a long-ago crime of passion, Parker Rieth has dedicated himself to a cold, emotionless existence as a divorce lawyer. He is utterly unprepared for the effect Kaitlin Stringer has on his heart, mind and soul. Beautiful, ethereal and irresistible, she touches him in a way no other woman has. Though he has vowed to avoid her, he is drawn toward her. Psychic healer Kaitlin is just what Parker needs to reconcile his past, to finally set old ghosts to rest, and to claim his destiny. Can he find the courage to step into Kaitlin’s embrace? Does she have what it takes to awaken

his sleeping passion? Review: The characters strike a chord with readers as Parker Rieth is a hardened, irascible attorney who becomes enamored of the refined and ethereal Kaitlin Stringer. The characters are scarred souls who are compelled to protect their hearts, though the shape which their personalities take is entirely different from one another. Their diametrically opposing natures somehow complement one another enabling each to see inside the other’s soul as though they are privy to the other one’s secrets. Fate puts the pair in each other’s path though it’s up to them to pursue an intimate bond. The two must move past their fears and overcome the pain of their past to arrive there, finding the strength to entrust their lives in each other’s hands. A sensual romance, the story delves into hardcore reality keeping readers feet planted on the ground while holding their imagination in the sky, hoping, wishing and dreaming. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

September/October 2014 | 39


feature sneak peek

Mary Manners Wildflowers and Wishes Series Wyatt Cutler manages to break away from family-owned Cutler Nursery--and Clover Cove--until his father perishes in a tragic accident. With no choice but to abandon his prestigious position at world-renowned Messer Dynamics and return to Clover Cove, Wyatt’s only goal is to help his mother and brother, Reese, keep Cutler Nursery in business. The laughter that surrounds Kami Moretto at her family’s pizzeria has faded. Her mom is gone and, for her dad, depression has set in. With Pappy’s Pizzeria hanging on by a thread, Kami longs for days of the past and a time when her faith carried her through every storm. Across the street, she watches Wyatt scowl as he works and wonders how he can take his family--and his business--for granted when hers is in such shambles. When tragedy strikes, Wyatt realizes he must let go of the past and cling to hope for the future; he’s in danger of losing his family, his business, and the only woman he’s truly loved.

Wyatt tossed his pencil onto the desk and sat back in the chair, stretching kinks from his neck. It was no use…nobody had given the nursery’s books more than a cursory glance in the year since Dad passed. To say they were a mess was an understatement. Taxes, due to be filed in less than two weeks, were sure to be a bear. Just thinking about it gave him a headache. He’d have to schedule a 40 | btsemag.com


family meeting quick, bring Reese and Mom up to speed. “Hey there.” He glanced up to find Kami in the doorway. Her sleek black hair was twisted into a braid that ran the length of her back. His heart slammed against his ribs as he suddenly wondered what that mass of hair would look like if he reached over and loosed the band, setting it free. She propped one hip against the jamb and his throat turned to sandpaper. “Hey yourself.”

“Is that…?” “Yes. Coffee—just the way you like it.” “You’re an angel.” “Thank you.” She wiggled one shapely hip onto the edge of his desk. “Something change in the past week to put the reins on your…distaste for the nursery?”

“You look flustered.” “The books.” Wyatt tossed his reading glasses onto the desk, willing his pulse to find a normal cadence. Since he’d moved in next door to her two days ago, he’d been hard-pressed to keep his mind on anything else. The traitorous state of his heart was as annoying as a paper cut and putting a serious dent in his ability to accomplish anything of merit. The last thing he needed was for Kami to catch wind of his frazzled disposition. So he twisted in the chair and turned away from her, pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers as a migraine threatened to take hold. “They’re like a code that’s impossible to crack.” “You’ll manage.” “That’s reassuring, coming from the very woman who her own meltdown just last week, while working on books for the pizzeria.” “That was different. I want to stay here, Wyatt, want to make my family’s business viable and watch it grow. I like what I do. You, on the other hand, seem to loath the nursery and just want to…leave.” “Loath? I wouldn’t go that far.” “Oh?” She crossed the room to place a thermos on his desk. “Fill me in, then.”

Mary Manners is an awardwinning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they’ve rescued from local animal shelters... Lucky and Gus. Mary writes romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone. Learn more about Mary at her website: www. MaryMannersRomance.com

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reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

One Summer Rayne Forrest Romance Heat Rating: 4

Holly Thomas has a simple plan for the summer—take care of her favorite aunt and celebrate Burkesville’s centennial. Her immediate attraction to the town’s newest resident quickly proves problematic. Joe Mercer’s keeping secrets behind his blue eyes. Holly’s instincts are good. Joe Mercer’s reasons for coming to Burkesville are two-fold. On the surface he’s the pub owner he looks to be, but he’s also undercover for the government. Holly’s everything he wants in a woman and he’s trapped. He can’t confide to her that he’s in the middle

of this little covert assignment, and he can’t stay away from her. When the deal goes down, Joe scrambles to stay on the right side of everything. Holly has it all wrong but he’s in too deep to back out of the operation. It’s all coming to a head and he’ll be able to tell her everything—if he can just hold on to her for one more day. Review: Nice paced story with really likeable characters. Joe Mercer who used to work in the Air Force and Holly Thomas, who never did, made a really likeable couple. It had humor and a lot of charm and you rooted for them to stay together despite the secrets that couldn’t be told. You even liked the supporting cast that made an appearance every now and then. Especially Holly’s aunt, who needs her own story.So if you get a chance pick it up. You’ll like it. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

Light of the Heart Regina Andrews Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 1

Stained-glass artist Cascade Preston has overcome a childhood shadowed by domestic violence in Sterling Lakes. When she is approached to design windows for a refurbished church, she ignores the request. But the no-nonsense Project Manager Dan McQuay needs her plans. Will Cascade be able to keep the cocoon she has built around herself intact, or will McQuay break through and shine new light into her heart? Review: Regina Andrew’s Light of the Heart is the first novel in the Sterling Lake series, an inspirational series that

reflects on faith and relationships. This novel focuses on forgiving those who have hurt us in the past and trusting and having faith in not only yourself but in God. Cascade’s history with her home town has everything to do with the abuse her mother received at the hands of Cascade’s father. She hasn’t forgiven those that stood by and did nothing to assists her family. Dan is the challenging aspect that forces Cascade to look beyond herself to what God has planned for her. I liked this story but I found it at times to be underdeveloped. I would have liked to see the characters more well-rounded so the relationships formed would be more believable. This was a nice story that I’m sure many looking for an inspirational story would enjoy | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

September/October 2014 | 45


reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

Angels of the Heart Regina Andrews Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 1

The life of a television journalist has been good to Maryanne Lynch. That is, until she learns of developer Travis Collimore’s plans to destroy the Townsend Barn with its rare angel weather vane, a cherished Sterling Lakes landmark, and build a strip mall in its place. Will Maryanne’s efforts to stop her old flame be successful? Or will Travis’ plans for the future prevail over her attachment to the past? Review: Angels of the Heart by Regina Andrews is an inspirational novel about finding faith in God and trusting in

that faith throughout life. Maryanne has struggled with her relationship with God since losing her brother at a young age. Now as an adult and successful newscaster, she has learned to trust herself. Now her relationships with people are changing and as she remembers what the barn means to her, she remembers what it’s like to have faith. I enjoyed this novel and found that it moved well and had relatively well developed characters. Unfortunately, while the emotions felt genuine, much of the dialogue and interactions felt rushed. This novel could have been more successful if the characters had more opportunities to develop the relationships. It would simply make the story more believable. I would still recommend this novel to anyone in the mood for an inspirational easy to read novel. | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

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reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

Glory of the Heart

Regina Andrews Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 1

War hero Perrin Stafford discovers a scandalous family secret in the contents of a box of letters stashed in Sterling Lake newcomer CC Cogshell’s attic. The truth that is revealed from World War II Italy is a betrayal so deep that it shatters everything Perrin believed about his family and tests the limits of his faith. Will CC help Perrin see his way through this shocking revelation? And will the future see their friendship turning into something more? Review: Glory of the Heart is the fourth book in the Sterling Lake Series. This series focuses on inspirational romance stories that emphasize having faith in God and trusting Him to be the guide in all aspects, especially those of the heart. CC and Perrin our taking a leap of faith with each moment they spend together. While those around them are influences and offer opinions and insights, CC and Perrin are leaving their faith in God. This was the third book I’ve read from this series. If you are a fan of inspirational romance novels then you will enjoy this easy to read series. I do have a complaint though with this series: each book is the same story, written with different characters. An unexpected attraction that leads to unexpected love and branching out on faith. The writing is fine but the stories need to vary and be better developed. | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

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contemporary | romance | mainstream

Secret Past

Anna Sugg Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3

Sarah Shapiro rummages through the ruins of her grandmother’s deteriorating farmhouse and discovers a metal box and a Tommy gun buried beneath the floorboards. While trying to unravel the mystery of her grandmother’s secret past with the contents inside the box, the Tommy gun disappears, her soon to be ex-husband is killed, and how could she possibly fall in love with a deceiving contractor, who happens to have a wife. Review: It was a little confusing at the beginning, but once you understood the players and figured out the gist of where it was going, it was really intriguing and likeable. It had complex and interesting characters and a story from her grandmother’s past that connects with hers and a Tommy gun was also thrown in the mix. You liked Sarah and the journey she went on when she went on her trip minus her better half. The characters you liked, you really liked and there were a few that needed to be despised and they were. Give it a chance, you might be very surprised. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

Dancing in the White Room Ute Carbone Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3

PD Bell is a great skier and a risk taker. Mallory Prescott loves him. But when he decides to try a descent that nearly killed him, he breaks a promise to her that he’d never try it again. Can Mallory forgive him? Review: An introspective read, Dancing in the White Room influences readers to reflect over their life choices through the challenges and plight of the characters. It becomes personal as the writing inspires audiences to invest their interest and emotions in the outcome of the characters. PD Bell, who is an extreme skier, is a consummate adventurer. His life partner is Mallory Prescott and together they have a four-year old daughter Emily. When Emily is hospitalized, the couple is faced with a need that neither one had anticipated. It’s a need to be there for each other, to provide a shoulder for the other to cry on and console one another. The story shares an inner turmoil reflective of the barriers erected in the movie Penny Serenade, revealing a human honesty that people of all ages and trades can relate to and may have experienced. It’s a story that moves readers. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

If Only

Ashlyn Mathews Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3

When her high school crush, Rhys Miles, returns to Willowbrook for his grandmother’s funeral, Asa Chanthavay realizes a year is too long for her to let Rhys believe he was at fault for her father’s death. But if she asks Rhys for his forgiveness, she’ll have to tell him the truth behind her accusation. And for a woman raised to hide her intense emotions, the thought of being vulnerable again has her fighting her feelings every step of the way. Review: Asa Chanthavay and Rhys Miles have a sordid history. They have had strong feelings for each other since high school and he eventually took her virginity. Weeks later she was accusing him of being responsible for her father’s death. Now, almost a year has passed and his grandmother, Asa’s neighbor and friend, has passed. Communication and showing emotions is neither of their strong suits but their feelings for each other are forcing them together again. With the snow falling over Willowbrook, the two are forced to finally confront what happened in their past. But is there hope for a future? If Only is a contemporary romance novel that examines a relationship scarred by miscommunication. Mathews leading characters have a lot of emotions that need to be overcome and openly discussed in order for tensions to be put aside and love to be understood. There is a lot of details that exist between Asa and Rhys, from their friendship in high school, Asa’s friendship with Rhy’s grandmothers and the attraction that always existed between the two. The concept had a lot of promise but nothing felt genuine. Much of the conversations seemed forced and the sexual tension was almost too paramount. Mathews has an obvious talent for writing but this novel suffered because of a lack of cohesion. If Only could be improved if more time was placed on the development of the circumstances through conversation. | Reviewer: Stacie Carrier |

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reviews

contemporary | romance | mainstream

While You Were Writing Virginia Nelson Contemporary Romance Heat Rating: 3

Bestselling author and infamous town hermit Radcliffe McQueen knows what he likes, what he doesn’t, and refuses to pretend social niceties. Particularly with a red-hot mess of a woman who’s taken it upon herself to smooth his rough edges. She thinks she can change him? Bring it. He’s more than willing to teach her the wisdom of doing things his way. Besides, it’ll distract him from the horror of facing a blank page. Review: An author and an artist came together through fate or just plain stubbornness. Two lost troubled souls in need of being found, now the question is, do they want to

be found? Radcliffe brought out emotions and memories that Sheri thought were long forgotten. His eyes searched into her soul and made her feel naked and vulnerable. But would Radcliffe’s bad attitude turn forced polite attitude drive Sheri away with its falseness and lies or would Radcliffe help Sheri instead of the other way around. So the question is who is helping whom. Virginia Nelson wrote a book that was difficult to read. I have never taken so long to read a book in my life. The characters were just that, characters. I felt nothing for them; they were just facts on a page. The circumstances that brought them together were unrealistic and made no sense. When they were falling in love, I did not feel it. This book to me was very on the surface. The event that made Radcliffe the way he was does not seem big enough to merit that big of a response and Sheri just had to get over herself, seriously. The only thing I enjoyed about this book is that Radcliffe is an author and Sheri is an artist, my two favorite things in the world, but it did not do it for me in this book. | Reviewer: Nathifa Swan |

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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 September/October 2014 | 55


more beyond the books

HotHunks The

of

HISTORY Christy English

Dark Dukes of History

My first dark duke of history is the Duke of Cumberland who destroyed the Highland Clans at the battle of Culloden. The dead of each clan were buried in mass graves, which still mark the battlefield. While lauded by many in England for finally defeating the Jacobites, this duke was called “Butcher” Cumberland by his political enemies. To delve into a fictional view of this general and prince, check out Diana Gabaldon’s fabulous

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| The Hot Hunks of History |

Outlander series. And then, there is William Cavendish, the Duke of Devonshire (pictured above). This dark duke, in spite of his dapper appearance in this portrait, spent two years subjugating Ireland before returning and becoming prime minister. Of course, one man’s overlord is another man’s lord lieutenant, but from the Irish point of view, the Cavendishes were dark dukes indeed. For a fictional dark duke, you can always read my Regency romance Love on a Midsummer Night.

In this novel, the evil Duke of Hawthorne comes into the heroine’s bedroom in the dead of night, a knife in his hand. This Duke may not be crushing Highlanders or Irish clans beneath his boot, but he is a menace to more than just Arabella’s virtue. 58 | btsemag.com

Arabella would have slept all night had not the sound of her husband’s bedroom door woke her. She had not heard the door between their rooms open in years, but Arabella remembered well the first hideous year of their marriage, those nights when she never knew when Gerald would come until she heard that door. He would lie on top of her, his skeletal hands on her body, lifting her nightgown. She did not shudder at the memory, but lay still between the soft sheets of her bed, listening. Hawthorne stood over her in the dim light of the lamp. Arabella tried not to show the fear that instantly flooded her. “Your Grace, I fear you have lost your way.” “No, Arabella. I have found it.” Hawthorne made his way through the shadows closer to her bed. He was dressed in evening clothes, but his cravat was askew and his black coat thrown open. Arabella wondered idly why he always dressed like an undertaker. It was then that she saw the glint of the knife in his hand. Her heart was pounding and her throat was dry with fear. She swallowed convulsively and forced herself to sit up, bringing the bedclothes with her to shield her body from his eyes. “My lord, you will not kill me?” she asked. She swallowed hard, trying to stop the rising terror that swamped her reason. She breathed deep, gripping her wits so that they would not flee. Hawthorne raised the knife as if to show it to her, turning his eyes for one moment from her to it. “No indeed, Arabella. I am not the Moor, come to kill his Desdemona in the dark of night. But it occurs to me that I ought to see if you please me, before I vow to marry you. Mistresses and whores abound, of course, but marriage is for life.” She felt herself shaking beneath the covers of her bed. She thought frantically for what she might use to hold him off, what words might persuade him to lay that weapon down. Her death was like a shadow, a third person in the room come to claim her. Her terror rose to choke her or she would have screamed. Hawthorne stopped within a foot of the bed, laying his lamp down. He reached for her with the hand that did not hold the knife. She flinched, but his fingers only took up her honey-colored braid where it fell across her shoulder. He hefted the weight of her hair, fingering the


| Christy English |

end of it as if testing a bolt of fine silk. Arabella felt her nausea rise, bile coating her throat and mouth. She swallowed again, moving closer to her bedside table. Would any of the household staff help her if she screamed? She swallowed again, desperate to find her voice. He reached out with the knife then, and with one expert flick of his wrist cut away the top three buttons of her nightgown. She felt the cool night air on her throat, and on the tops of her breasts. His eyes gleamed at the sight of her exposed flesh, as if she were a feast he were about to devour. She would not die here. She did not know how she would live, but she was damned if this man would be her doom. Death could come back another night, for she was going nowhere. “I would have you now,” Hawthorne said, “before I take you to Yorkshire. I find a year is too long to wait.” “Never is not long enough, my lord.” Arabella took up the first thing her fingertips touched on her bedside table, an unlit lamp recently filled with oil. As Hawthorne bent as if to kiss her, the knife still in his hand, Arabella raised the heavy lamp and brought it down on the back of his head. The porcelain base shattered against his skull, coating his head, her nightgown and the bedclothes in a layer of flammable oil. He fell against her, and for one horrible moment she thought she had failed. But when he did not move, she pushed him off her, drawing her legs from beneath him, climbing over him to get off the bed. His knife fell from his fingers, but not before it sliced into the skin of her wrist. She gasped in pain, her blood staining the sheets, for the blade was razor sharp. Had he slit her throat, at least it would have been quick.

I must say, if I was going to face a dark duke on the battlefield or in the dark of night, I would prefer the fictional kind.

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

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reviews historical | western

Love and Let Spy Shana Galen Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

Third in Shana Galen’s high-spirited Regency “Lord and Lady Spy” series follows Bonde—Jane Bonde—of the elite Barbican group, in her quest to defeat the madman Foncé and his French spy ring. Jane Bonde was raised to be a spy, but the town knows her only as an elusive beauty who turns men’s heads when she walks into a room. She’s also the Crown’s last best hope. If she can’t find and destroy the diabolical Foncé and his French spy ring, England’s defenses may fall. But something even more dangerous than a madman stands in her way—her fiancé. The demons of Dominic Griffyn’s past make it difficult for him to get close to anyone. When his stepfather, the marquess, demands he settle down and marry, Dominic allows himself to hope that the beautiful but mysterious Miss Bonde will help him forget his troubles. He may be right—the most important mission of her career is about to plunge them both into danger. Review: Dominic Griffyne and Jane Bonde made quite an interesting couple. She was fearless. Dealt with assassins and unscrupulous people, all in an effort to seek justice and then has to deal with family members trying to marry her off and wanting her to be more ladylike. Dominic’s family just wanted him to settle down, much to his dismay. It had warmth, charm, wit and a whole lot of likeability and it moved along at a rather nice pace. You won’t be disappointed. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

In Bed with a Rogue Samantha Grace Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

The darling of the ton has a scandalous past, and the wicked Baron Thorne just uncovered her secret… He’s the Talk of the Town The whole town is tittering about Baron Sebastian Thorne having been jilted at the altar. Every move he makes ends up in the gossip columns. Tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes, Sebastian vows to restore his family’s reputation no matter what it takes. She’s the Toast of the Ton Feted by the crème of society, the beautiful widow Lady Prestwick is a vision of all that is proper. But Helena is no angel, and when Sebastian uncovers her dark secret, he’s quick to press his advantage. In order to keep her hardwon good name, Helen will have to make a deal with the devil. But she’s got some tricks up her sleeves to keep this notorious rogue on his toes… Review: Baron Sebastian Thorne and Lady Helena Prestwick made a really good couple. The story line had its humorous and fast-paced moments and was very enjoyable. She had her secrets, he had his. They met underunusual circumstances and he wasn’t really sure who she was when they first met. She was kind of incognito and he had been waylaid by thieves. She happened to be there to help him in his time of need. Tho he didn’t remember most of it. She did remember. It was nice when they officially met. It was an enjoyable romp and you like the characters and their supporting characters that were funny and charming and knew when to help and when to stay out of trouble. So if you’re looking for nice read with a lot of humorous, quirky moments, pick up a copy. You’ll enjoy it. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews historical | western

Desperate Hearts Rosanne Bittner Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

SHE’S A WOMAN WITH A SECRET Elizabeth Wainwright is on the run. Accused of a murder she didn’t commit, she has no choice but to cut ties with her old life and flee West. The last thing she wants is attention, but when her stagecoach is attacked, she suddenly finds herself under the fierce protection of one of Montana’s famed vigilantes… whether she likes it or not. HE’S A MAN WITH A CODE Lawman Mitch Brady is sworn to uphold justice in the wild lands of 1860’s Montana. He’s never met a man he’s feared, and he’s never met a woman more desperately in need of his help. Something’s shaken the secretive Elizabeth, but as he gets to know the beautiful city belle, he finds the only thing he wants more than her safety…is her trust. Review: Rosanne Bittner has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to western romance and she did not fail me this time. Desperate Hearts is full of excitement, secrets and of course romance. The characters Elizabeth and Mitch hit it off right from the beginning but her secrets could ruin them, which makes it hard for her to trust anyone with the truth. If you are a fan of historical romances and top it off with it being a western, then this is a book for you. You will find yourself drawn back in time into the small mining town and into the lives of all of those that live there. Looking for an easy going and relaxing love story without going overboard then this is the book for you. | Reviewer: Annette Stone |

My Highland Spy Victoria Roberts Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Love in the Highlands has never been this steamy! This Highland Laird won’t bow to the Crown… Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do—he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep. But this lady spy might make him... Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess—a job easier said than done—she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator. If she doesn’t betray him first… Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy? Review: Ravenna worked as a spy for His majesty King James, just like her father before her. Her father had taught her everything she knew, so that one day she could take his place, which in itself was an unusual undertaking for a woman at that time. It was fast paced, humorous with extremely likeable characters. Ravenna was a strong independent-minded woman who suddenly found herself in the unusual position of becoming a nanny by infiltrating the Laird home in the guise of caring for his son. She definitely wasn’t happy about that. But she did what she had to do. Ravenna Walsingham and Laird Ruairi Sutherland made an interesting couple despite their differences and his secrets. It was also a fun story with extremely likeable characters; from Ravenna sisters to members of Ruairi own clan. So if you like highlanders, and a really good sense of humor, you’ll enjoy this one immensely. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews historical | western

Lakota Renegade Madeline Baker Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

Jassy McCloud is a sweet young lady. Not the kind of woman Creed Maddigan is used to or even wants. But when he gets a taste of her, she is who he’s determined to have. But what is Jassy to do when he’s accused and jailed for a crime he didn’t commit? Exactly what her heart tells her to do. Follow Creed wherever he goes, because their love can bring them through whatever dangers lie ahead. Review: An old school romance wrapped around classic western scenery, Lakota Renegade is a story about a jaded half-breed Indian who resides on the outskirts of society and a young pioneer woman whose only source of protection is her quick wit and equally quick reflexes. Creed Maddigan is a hired gun which is a profession greatly in demand during the 1870’s throughout the Old West. Jasmine McCloud is a housemaid at the Lazy Ace, a local brothel/saloon. Jassy’s manners are impeccable epitomizing the wholesome American girl and Creed’s chivalry presents him as an armored knight with the courage of El Cid and a boundless kindness towards the weak that’s reminiscent of Robin Hood. Both characters are instantly likeable. Their vulnerabilities make them personable and their drive to pursue the higher road is admirable. When Creed is accused of a crime he doesn’t commit, Jassy follows her heart to the reader’s delight. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

Bride of the Black Scot Elaine Coffman Historical Romance Heat Rating: 4

Lady Juliette Pemberton is ready for marriage, even if it means being forced to marry a Scottish earl. Bored with dull English society and ready for adventure, she never expects it to give her the opportunity to gaze at length at the first naked man she has ever seen, and a handsome one at that. If all Scots look this good, being forced to wed doesn’t seem so bad… If only he was the mysterious man she was here to marry. Review: An English lady deigned to marry a Scottish laird by order of the British king is a recurring theme in historical romances, and Elaine Coffman applies a vivid imagination to the commonly woven tale. The story concentrates on Laird Alexander Stephen Gordon’s background, his illegitimacy and rise to becoming the Earl of Gordon. He is a sympathetic character who is courageous, honorable, and earnest in his acts of chivalry. Lady Juliette is a supportive character, aiding Stephen and guiding him along the path to becoming a fair leader able to wield authority effectively over rival clans. Sporadically sprinkled with fight scenes, the read gives audiences a sense of the enmity between Scottish clans in the Georgian Age and the art period of Rococo. The couple’s sparring is grating on the reader, but their reconciliation is wholesome and romantic, compensating for any bouts of hostility and making for an ageless love story. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

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reviews historical | western

The Tragedy of Fidel Castro Joao Cerqueiro Historical Romance Heat Rating: 1

When God receives a request from Fátima to help prevent a war between Fidel Castro and JFK, he asks his son, Jesus, to return to Earth and diffuse the conflict. On his island, Fidel Castro faces protests on the streets and realizes that he is about to be overthrown. Alone, surrounded, and aware that the end is fast approaching, he plays his last card. Meanwhile, Christ arrives on Earth and teams up with Fátima, who is convinced she can create a miracle to avoid the final battle between JFK and Fidel Castro and save the world as we know it. At the end, something really extraordinary happens!

Review: This is no ordinary book. A novel (?) with protagonists such as God, Christ, JFK, Fidel Castro... all of them sharing the same space couldn’t be. It is not a book easy to define. Not a straight comedy but with incredibly funny passages, not historically accurate but offering fascinating comments on historical moments and figures, not a political treatise but questioning of past and current politics and power relationships, not openly religious but offering some of the funniest and most interesting comments on God, Christ, miracles and donkeys that I’ve read in years. Fragmented and not told in a strictly chronological order, brief but complex, it is not a book for everyone. But if you enjoy books that make you think (about politics, religion, philosophy) and don’t mind a challenge this could be a great discovery. | Reviewer: Olga Núñez Miret |

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feature sneak peek

Dorothy A. Bell

The Cost of Revenge

Quinn O’Bannon should settle down. He has two likely candidates, both sensible, attractive, young women. His fantasies keep straying to Tru McAdam, that thieving, sloe-eyed vixen with a grudge against the whole darn O’Bannon family. Tru McAdam believes the O’Bannons, all of them are rotten, heartless cheats. God help her, she wants to believe the handsome, arrogant flirt Quinn O’Bannon is the worst of the lot. Stanley O’Bannon, Quinn and Royce’s old man, is on a mission to destroy his traitorous sons, and the folks who turned them against him. Tru believes destiny called her to Laura Creek to surrender her heart to her sworn enemy, Quinn O’Bannon. But why? All becomes clear when Quinn’s life is threatened and Tru strikes the fatal blow.

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“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 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 slow-witted, 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. Quinn gave her a peck on the cheek, and she swatted him on the nose to let him know she wasn’t happy. With the guns safely tucked away beneath the big bed in the master bedroom, Quinn did as instructed and made up the two cots in Cleantha’s sewing room for Ryder and Harmony. Cleantha cleared out a drawer in the bottom of the wardrobe to give little Jewel a place to sleep. Quinn doubted he’d stay put, but it would do until they could find something better. Next, he set up a bed for Tru in Royce’s study. **** While the children played on the lawn with the puppy, Tru sat, her ankle propped up on a milk-can, seated in the rocking chair on the front porch. Her brothers and sister amazed her. How could they laugh and play like that— like they hadn’t a care in the world. They were homeless orphans...no mother, no father. She couldn’t understand it. Didn’t they feel anything? Could it be the memories of their home, their parents, had already begun to fade? Feeling abandoned, bereft, and betrayed, she cursed her weakness. Because of her injuries, she’d caved in and accepted charity. She’d had no other choice open to her but to surrender the responsibility of taking care of her brothers and sister to someone else, as it turned out—to the O’Bannons, her sworn enemies. She’d sacrificed her pride for the children. For their own good they would take advantage of the O’Bannons, stay here on this lovely farm. After all, she couldn’t wear the hair shirt forever, and she didn’t want her brothers and sister to have to wear it either; it wasn’t healthy for any of them. “They’re having a good time,” Quinn said, and put his hand lightly on her shoulder. The gesture came as a shock, too intimate, too possessive. Nearly upsetting the milk-can, Tru rocked backward in the chair. She winced, as the sudden movement pulled her ankle. So deep in thought, she hadn’t sensed his presence beside her. It wasn’t like her to be so unaware of her surroundings. Why hadn’t she heard him come out of the house? She thought only Indians could move like that. With the chair tilted back, she looked directly up into his eyes. Shifting her weight, she rocked forward, and his hand left her shoulder, leaving behind a vague sense of loss where it had

been. He helped her reposition the milk-can and her ankle. Tru cast him an accusatory glance. “You startled me.” She adjusted her skirt while mentally pulling herself up out of her funk. Injuries or no injuries, she couldn’t let her guard down; she had to stay alert to all the dangers, every little nuance. He had that know-it-all smirk on his face as he moved out to stand at the edge of the porch. She hated that smirk. It taunted her every time she met his gaze. With her eyes forward, she knew his every move, could smell him, knew how his hips moved when he shifted from one foot to the other as he leaned his shoulder against the porch post. He presented a body at ease, relaxed— relaxed as a cougar about to pounce. For a long while, he stood there watching the kids out on the lawn. She waited, knowing he had something to say—something she didn’t want to hear. When he turned his head toward her, his brown eyes narrowed, she sensed he was deliberating, gauging, calculating how to handle her. “You know,” he said, “it seems as if Royce and I have lived here all of our lives.” The words fell from his lips in a slow drawl, all lazy, giving the impression they were spoken without thought or purpose—but Tru knew better. “But it’s only been a year...not even a year since we came here.” His gaze left her to return to the children, one broad shoulder resting against the porch post. Tru studied his back. He had a lean body, wide shouldered, arms well-muscled, narrow hips, long legs, but she could imagine them being strong. Beneath his black Stetson, his black hair curled over the collar of his white shirt. Quinn O’Bannon exuded an easy-with-himself masculinity. Strange he should remind Tru of her father. She felt a wave of electricity skitter down into her core and quickly looked away, her cheeks becoming warm. She shifted in the rocking chair, ashamed of her response to his nearness.

Dorothy and her husband live in Central Oregon with two terriers, a longhaired Dachshund and one angora cat. When she needs a break from writing Oregon historical western romances, short stories and poems, she works in her yard, her garden, takes walks and works out in the pool.

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feature sneak peek

Danita Minnis

Love Entwined

Amelie’s goal is the top of the jewelry designing world. Her orderly life comes undone when jewelry tycoon Roman steals her away on assignment to a remote English estate. He wants Amelie all to himself but St. Clair Manor’s ghost has waited for her much longer than he has. An unseen gunman takes a shot at Roman and he blames a business rival. But Amelie and Roman are to blame, for falling in love 200 years before in a time neither of them remember. From the heartbreak of pre-Revolutionary France to modern day corporate wars, Amelie and Roman uncover a history of blood jewels, lust and demons. When Amelie discovers her inner witch she learns the real reason she was summoned to St. Clair Manor. Il Dragone demons will kill to get her back. Amelie will kill if they do.

“Amelie Laurent, may I introduce you to Roman Cardiff.” Harold gestured toward the Burberry divan in the corner. She closed her mouth and turned, hand extended. The apology died on her lips. Dieu. He was a Greek god in a dark tailored suit. Very tall. Different in reality. Cooler than she expected. There was arrogance in his square jaw. His aquiline nose and thick, black brows made him look like a predator. His expression would have seemed harsh except for the warmth of the sky blue gaze traveling slowly up her body. The eyes gave his features a seraphim quality. They leisurely toured the peachy-pink lacquered toenails peeking through the front of her navy pumps, and then moved up the curve of her hips. She felt those eyes like a puff of warm breath when they grazed the swell of her breasts above the white silk blouse. She was an innocent doe being circled by a panther that was higher up on the food chain and more resourceful. 72 | btsemag.com

Clearly, he wanted to take a bite out of her. His imperial stance said it was his due. His nostrils flared as he inhaled her scent. Amelie looked down at the large hand holding hers. Warm, like a glove. Finally, his gaze met hers. She did not move, but something sinful shivered inside her. It was the part of her who knew this man. But these feelings weren’t hers—they belonged to that other woman. The one who waited for him at night in her bedroom. He is real. But he could not be her dream lover. With an unholy smile, Mr. Cardiff lifted her hand. Full lips moved over her skin in a warm caress, and she was filled with craving. A native New Yorker, Danita is a singer, writer and lover of romance. A member of Romance Writers of America, she is the author of The Cardiff Novels, which tells the tale of one family’s trials with vengeful demons, a legacy of ghosts and mysterious blood jewels. She is currently working on a love affair between a 2000 year-old vampire with a moral code and an ex-MI6 agent whose only belief is in self-preservation after being set up to kill an oil magnate. Mystery, mayhem, the fantastic and the fey are as intriguing as Siberian Huskies - shout out to the Khan Man. One more hour with her laptop and Danita is living the dream.

DanitaMinnis.com


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feature sneak peek

Michelle Styles

Saved by the Viking Warrior “THERE IS NO ONE. I TRAVEL ALONE. I LIVE ALONE. ALWAYS.” Battle-scarred Thrand the Destroyer has only one thing on his mind: settling old scores. But with the beautiful Lady of Lingfold as his prisoner, the unyielding warrior starts to dream of a loving wife and a home to call his own. Cwen is also seeking justice, but she knows the fragile alliance she’s built with Thrand will only last as long as they share a common enemy. Unless they can find a way to leave revenge to the gods to forge a new life together. “Maintains the myth while adding sexual tension, nonstop action and spice.” —RT Book Reviews on The Viking’s Captive Princess ‘You have remained in the same place since we arrived.’ Thrand’s voice rolled over her. ‘Is that wise? Surely my lady must have a complaint about the primitive standards of this camp.’ Cwenneth lifted her head. All of her muscles screamed with pain and the shadows had grown longer. She wasn’t sure if she had slept or if her mind had become mercifully blank. Now everything came flooding back. She remained in the nightmare and it was about to get worse because they had stopped for the night. And she had no idea of Thrand’s plans. He had claimed her as his woman. Did he expect her to become his concubine? There had only been Aefirth. She knew how to be a wife, but she had little idea how to be a mistress. Refusing the position was out of the question, not if she wanted to live. ‘I wait for my orders, to find out what I need to do, rather than presuming.’ ‘Are you capable of following orders?’ ‘If I’m going to stay alive, I have to learn.’ ‘Clever woman.’ His gaze slowly travelled over her, making her aware of how her hair tumbled about her neck and the way her gown was now hopelessly stained with mud. She must look like something the dog had dragged in. ‘I kept going today.’ He put a hand on her shoulder. Heat flooded her. She wanted to lean into his touch. ‘My men wagered that you wouldn’t.’ ‘I heard them when we started. Who won in the end?’ ‘I did.’ 74 | btsemag.com

‘You bet on me?’ The blue in his eyes deepened. ‘My purse is heavier. But you lasted even longer than I thought you would. Impressive. I thought, back by the farm, you’d beg for a ride.’ ‘Giving up is not an option if I want to return to my old life. It is better to be unbound. It makes me believe that one day I will regain my freedom.’ She kept her head erect. ‘I have my pride. The lords and ladies of Lingwold never beg.’ ‘And you want to return?’ ‘Very much. It is my home.’ Cwenneth looped a strand of hair about her ear. ‘Life is good at Lingwold. The walls are strong. Food is plentiful and everyone sleeps soundly in their bed. I would even kiss my sister-in-law and stop complaining about her silly rules about how you weave tapestry.’ ‘If it is in my power, word will be sent after I have finished with you.’ He balanced the pouch of gold in his hand. ‘But you have presented me with another problem. You walked too slow.’

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a range of periods including Viking. Born and raised near San Francisco California, she currently lives near Hadrian’s Wall in the UK. An avid reader, she became hooked on historical romance after discovering Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton and Victoria Holt.

MichelleStyles.co.uk


reviews historical | western

A Prescription For Love Callie Hutton Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

In Guthrie, Oklahoma in 1903, Heidi Lester wants to prove she’s capable of taking care of herself. After being burned once, Michael Henderson wants nothing to do with women, especially his beautiful employee. But spending every day together is chipping away at his resolve. Review: The main characters grow as they battle insecurities and develop a backbone that gives them confidence in their romance. The hero Michael Henderson is uncertain

that he has what it takes to inspire fidelity in a woman, and the heroine Heidi Lester fears crossing her parents. The internal conflicts are well written so the reader can grasp the situation immediately. The tone of the story swings from being lighthearted to portraying an atmosphere of despair for the pair. Although the story is drawn out making the pair oscillate between being together or allowing external forces to keep them apart, overall, it’s a romantic tale that connects with readers, addressing the same insecurities which steer people away from love. Set in America’s Midwest during the turn of the century, the author brings out the characters hardships traveling into newly explored territory both inside their relationship and in the world around them. | Reviewer: Susan Frances |

September/October 2014 | 75


reviews historical | western

A Countess Most Daring Jessie Clever Historical Romance Heat Rating: 3

Katharine Cavanaugh, the Countess of Stirling, has always lived according to the expectations of her heritage. American mercenary Matthew Thatcher has spent his life running away from every expectation he has for himself. But when their latest mission from the British War Office goes wrong, trapping them behind enemy lines, they must decide if they dare to realize the greatest expectation of all: the expectation of love. Review: This was my first reading by Jessie Clever. I found her to be a good writer. I thought she paced out her plot well. Her writing was engaging and I was interested in the story. Katherine Cavanaugh, the Countess of Stirling, was a fascinating character. Mathew Thatcher was also a great hero. He played the role of an American mercenary very well. He had excellent chemistry with Katherine. They were worthy adversaries and partners. When they find their lives in danger they are forced to come together so they both can live. I have to say that since I didn’t read the previous books in the series I was very confused as to what was happening. The story started off so quickly I couldn’t figure out who the characters were or what they were doing. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if I had a little more history about who they were and what they were doing. I plan to read more books by Jessie Clever and I enjoyed her fun adventure. For me a book is good if the hero and heroine are interesting-which they were. Also, if they have great chemistry together-which they did. I also really enjoy a book if there is adventure and there is definitely adventure in this story. I recommend this book for anyone that wants a quick read, is looking for adventure, and likes an exciting hero and heroine. Great read! | Reviewer: Diana Silva |

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Erotics of all genres, shapes and sizes

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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

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 September/October 2014 | 77


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Heat DIVA The

Nikki McCarver

Hot Summer Wrap Up

Are you looking to hold on to the remnants of this year’s scorching heat that has rolled through this summer? Then I have just the thing to set the rest of your nights aflame. Come with me as I dip into the paranormal pool and throw some hot summer lovin’ your way!

September/October 2014 | 79


| The Heat Diva | Gods and Goddesses (Box Set) HEAT LEVEL: 4

Gods and Goddesses (Box Set) by A.R. Von, Shyla Colt, Seraphina Donavan, Leanore Elliott, Leigh Savage, Kate Baum, and Siobhan MacKenzie (Indie Book—available now) Let’s kick off our first spell with a witch’s best friend. Felipe is our newest yummy victim in Lucifier’s never-ending plot to fill hell with happiness and babies. LOL. This kitty doesn’t know what hit him, but trust me when I say it was good and hard. Jenny has what it takes to make that kitty purr on overtime!

There’s a New Witch in Town HEAT LEVEL: 3

There’s a New Witch in Town by Tawny Weber (Indie Book— available now) This one not only was sexy but tickled your funny bone as well! I loved the main character! She was sassy and spirited. This was a good story about two people who had been burned learning to love again. It made for some exciting fireworks in the end!

Chosen by Sin HEAT LEVEL: 3

Chosen by Sin by Virna DePaul (Para-Ops, #3, Indie Book—available now) Paranormal cops, anyone? Then this is the book for you! It is chockfull of mystery shifters, a great plot, and some steamy sex scenes. I really liked the unique mythology behind the characters. It gave it an amazing twist and made it a great right-before-bedtime read!

Ashes of War HEAT LEVEL: 3

Ashes of War by Lia Davis (Sons of War, #2, Fated Desires Publishing—available now) Out of all the brothers, I must admit to you that Ty fascinated me the most. I have a thing for the tortured hero, and this hottie had it rough. As sexy as dragon shifters are, Ty had to wear sunglasses because one of his eyes was permanently in dragon form. There is nothing sexier than a shifter that’s more his animal than his man. This one will is sure to make you shiver into the night.

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| Nikki McCarver | Hell’s Kitty

HEAT LEVEL: 3 Hell’s Kitty by Eve Langlais to Hell, #4, Indie Book— available now) Let’s kick off our first spell with a witch’s best friend. Felipe is our newest yummy victim in Lucifier’s never-ending plot to fill hell with happiness and babies. LOL. This kitty doesn’t know what hit him, but trust me when I say it was good and hard. Jenny has what it takes to make that kitty purr on overtime!

(Welcome

Paranormal Picks are my specialty, and I like them hot with a dash of humor—something all these ladies have in common. I hope you’ll take a moment and give them a try! Until next time my little heat cravers . . . Stay Naughty!

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

September/October 2014 | 81


reviews erotic

Clay’s Quest

Christi Williams Erotic Western Heat Rating: 4

She’ll do anything to get her way. Tall, elegant and beautiful, Emma Thorpe has wanted a baby for years. The yearning for a child occupies all her thoughts, her time, her effort, and any money she and her husband can scrape up for medical intervention. After trying and failing to conceive, the solution that finally comes to her is to leave her husband and hope to find a man—any man—capable of fulfilling her deepest desire. Big, handsome Clay Thorpe isn’t the kind of man to let his wife just wander away. It takes a few months of Emma’s absence from his bed to devise a plan, but he’s determined. Eventually, Clay lures Emma home with a convoluted strategy only he could concoct, involving an antique diamond ring, sex three times a day, and...a turkey baster? Review: This is really hot! Holy moly. I liked that Clay and Emma immediately come together and realize that since they love each other, they should be together. There was no angsty hemming and hawing. Of course, Emma had moved out some time ago, so maybe this was just the perfect moment for them to come back together. Clay’s “plan” is hilarious, yet so sweet. I can just picture him and Micah discussing it. Who knew cowboys liked gossip? Ha, the trickster. Although, it was starting to look believable by the end there.

Bending the Rules Marie Harte Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

Rex Samson is at the top of his game. His business is booming, his family loves him, and there’s no woman—or man—he can’t charm. Until he meets Natalie Wielder, a tough-as-nails city planner. She’s firm, sexy, and exactly what he needs—a woman to put him in his place. She’s also all work and no play, and that won’t do at all. Nat has better things to do than play with the mayor’s golden boy, but orders are orders.

Review: Rex Sampson meets Natalie Weilder and asks her to go on a date with him to a function they both have to attend. She doesn’t know him from Adam and was definitely a bit reluctant to attend the function with a complete stranger. But he turned it into a challenge that she reluctantly accepted. They actually made quite an interestingly couple despite the secrets that they have between them and they discovered what they were when they got to know one another. It was flirty, sexy and definitely for the over 18 crowd and quite enjoyable. If you’re interested, pick up a copy you just may find you like it a lot. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

| Reviewer: Negar Arvanaghi |

September/October 2014 | 83


reviews erotic

Getting Played Lexxie Couper Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

After yet another month without a lead singer, the band Synergy is on the verge of calling it quits. Which drives Jaxon Campbell, keyboardist and perpetual player, to do something dangerous—hit up a woman with contacts—and curves—in all the right places. Trouble is, the last time he saw her, he kind of broke her heart. And stole her cherished, autographed AC/DC album. Natalie Thorton, Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, knows everyone who’s anyone in Australia’s music industry. She’s driven and utterly professional and doesn’t have room in her schedule for relationships. Review: He needed the help of a former flame, whose heart he’d broken. Would she help him? What price would he have to pay? Keyboardist Jaxon was looking for a singer for his band Synergy. Natalie Thornton knew everybody in the industry and the only way Jaxon is going to get anywhere is to give her something in return. You’ll definitely like Jaxon, even if he’s a womanizing playboy. It was fast paced and had quite a few humorous moments as well as the steamy! So do they get what they want? Check it out, to find out. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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Love’s Lasso Kianna Alexander Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

When Deidra LaRue is called to town hall for a meeting, she knows the news can’t be good. She’s been madam at Miss LaRue’s Gentleman’s Club for a decade and the “good” folks of town have made no effort to hide their opinions about her line of work. When she finds out they have taken over her home and sold it without her knowledge, she has to find a way to begin again. But it’s 1850 and she has few options. Review: Carter and Deidra made an interesting couple given the profession she was in and the current legal situation mess she found herself in. That alone should have tipped Carter off and make him question everything he knew. It was a good story though and you actually rooted for them to get together. And she really needed somebody on her side, considering what had just happened to her. But she didn’t let that faze her and she did what she had to do to survive. Some of the townspeople were something else (pompous jackals), though there were others that you actually liked. It was a nice quick read you’ll enjoy. So if you get a chance check it out. | Reviewer: | Cassandra Graham |


reviews erotic

Wolf in Her Bed N.J. Walters Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

LaForge needs right now is a woman in his life, much less a human.

Anny Conrad is a single thirtyyear-old librarian—a cliché complete with two cats. Dragged out to a local bar, she’s rethinking her life plan over a few drinks when a man walks up and asks her to dance. And what a man. Tall, rugged and more than a little untamed. Before she knows it, she’s in his arms and throwing caution to the wind.

Review: What’s a librarian to do when she meets her mate that just happens to be a member of the stuff of legends and sexy as hell? See where it leads of course, and have a little fun and adventure along the way. A great cast of characters and the supporting cast that surround Anny and Armande need their own stories told as well. The villains were despicably despicable and in a weird way, kind of interesting. Though you definitely, wouldn’t want to be friends with them. It was a nice size read and you’ll definitely like Anny and Armande. Pick up a copy. You’ll be glad you did.

With a pack war in full, deadly swing, the last thing Armand

| Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

September/October 2014 | 85


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Lisa Beth Darling

Kingdoms of War

Apollo looked off into the distance and to the glittering reflection of stars dancing on the ocean surface. “Just thought I’d check in and see how things are going.” He glanced back to the opening of the cave. “I take it they’re not going well.” “A hundred million dead aren’t enough for you? You have to come here and watch three more die?” 86 | btsemag.com

Four billion souls have perished from the Earth the victims of Major Falls a hybrid disease unleashed by Apollo. From the fiery wreckage a new world is slowly rising one that will see Olympus returned to its former glory. As Ares and Athena wander the world hoping to curtail further damage the God of War slowly succumbs to the dreaded disease. Ares may not live to see the glory of Olympus restored nor fight to keep his Wife. If he does, how high will be the price for Ares’ life? How long will Alena have to keep paying Apollo even once Ares is crowned King of Olympus. With devastating consequences shattering their lives will Ares ever be able to swallow his pride and forgive Alena when the truth is revealed or will she take her place on the Throne of the Dark Kingdom leaving Olympus and Ares behind forever?

Apollo looked down at his feet and kicked his feet around a little. “Actually, we’re closer to two hundred million-left alive that is,” Apollo proudly crooned before raising his golden eyes back to the sea to wonder aloud. That couldn’t possibly be right. There was no way nearly six billion people dropped dead in a few short months. Apollo was playing her. “You’re lying, you always lie.”

“Awww, Maggie, you wound me.” The Golden God hung his golden head but his eyes didn’t stop shining as they stayed fixed on her. Holding her stormy stare firmly Apollo let his head roll up on his long neck as he wondered aloud. “Maybe those women in there don’t have to die? Maybe I can help.”


Ragging flooded through Alena’s small frame. The fine tea cup in her hand tumbled to the ground at her feet and shattered as she reached out for his throat. “There is a cure? You son of a bitch!” Apollo stood there unflinchingly but at the last second he batted away her angry talons as though she were no more than a fly. “Maybe, but you won’t find out that way.” Knowing he couldn’t be trusted, Alena took a step back and away from him, a step toward the edge of the cliff. “You’re still lying! You’re trying to get into my head, that’s all. You don’t have a cure. This is just another mind game of yours.” “Is it?” Apollo muttered thoughtfully. “Hmmmmm. Maybe. Maybe not.” Surely there was some pact with the devil to be made here and Alena wasn’t interested in signing on the dotted line. “Get out of here. Nothing that comes from your venomous lips is the truth. You’re just a nasty little boy with a wide cruel streak.” Apollo kept his voice tight as he bit back the sting of her barb. “Look into my eyes little Fae then tell me I’m lying,” Apollo challenged as he took a purposeful step toward her. “As for my cruel streak, you haven’t seen the worst of it yet.” He glanced down at her hip hidden below the tight fitting blue jeans. “What did you tell my Brother about the scar? I know you didn’t tell him it was me or I’d be dead. Is that because you dream of me in the night? This…nasty little boy,” Apollo whispered seductively. “Now that the belt is no longer between us do you lay awake aching to know how I’d feel inside you?” Instinct took over and Alena’s little hand curled up into a tight little fist as she landed a right hook across Apollo’s smug face. “You’re a pig!” Alena spat and took another step away

from him, another step closer to plunging off the cliff. “Get out!” Apollo rubbed his cheek and ran his tongue along the inside to catch the salty taste of his Ichor. His golden eyes rolled in her direction, the rage in them unveiled. He wanted to hit her back but that wouldn’t get him what he wanted. It wouldn’t do him any good if she fell off the cliff either still he ventured one more step. Alena backed up, lost her footing and began to topple just as he slipped his arm around her waist to catch her. “Fine,” he whispered, holding her close, “but when their eyes are glazed and the fever hits their brains, when they’re foaming at the mouth, snarling, trying to bite everything that comes into view as they twist and turn in agony, “ he glanced off toward the cave’s opening and then smiled slyly, “don’t say I didn’t offer.” Twirling her swiftly back to safety, Apollo chuckled and then disappeared from the cliff.

A life-long lover of romance, horror, and the paranormal world Lisa is 48 years-old and lives in her hometown of New London, CT with Roy her husband of 28 years. Together they have weathered every storm imaginable as they raised two beautiful daughters to adulthood.

MoonsMusings.com September/October 2014 | 87


reviews erotic

Captive Eden

Brenda Williamson Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

Blush sensuality level: This is a sensual romance (may have explicit love scenes, but not erotic in frequency or type). On the western prairies of Nebraska, Eden befriends the handsome Pawnee half-breed Indian, Brant. Over the years, he treats her with unrelenting respect and they fall madly in love, vowing to be together forever. But when Eden’s father discovers she’s with child, he sends her away. When Eden returns home with her son to settle her dead father’s affairs, it challenges everything she left behind.

Review: Brant and Eden were reunited when Eden came back to town with a son that Brant wanted to take away from her. Eden didn’t want that so she ended up going with him for the sake of her son. They were a good reunited couple that had a complicated history. It also had adorable and likeable characters that you liked a lot. So if you want a quick read, check it out. You just might like it. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

His Every Need Terri L. Austin Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

Allie Campbell is determined to take care of her family, no matter the cost, but when her father loses their home to British tycoon Trevor Blake, Allie finds herself forced to plead for more time to pay off the loan…and if she has to use her own body as collateral, then so be it. Trevor isn’t moved by Allie’s story. But when Allie impulsively offers to do anything to keep the house, he’s intrigued enough to raise the stakes: for the next two months, she must cater to his every need, no matter how depraved.

Review: Who knew that a self-sacrificing heroine and an overbearing, arrogant selfrighteous Brit, who had a little charm would make their type of agreement work. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. Allie was a strong minded family orientated woman who’d do anything for her family. Trevor was the type to avoid his, at all costs. Somehow they made their unusual agreement work even if it did have a few hiccups along the way and they actually made a somewhat believable couple eventually. Their families need their stories told. They had their humorous moments, feisty moments, confrontational moments and their downright quirky moments and they definitely knew how to use words to their advantage. So if you’re interested in something a little different, you’ll like this. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

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reviews erotic

The Edge of the Woods Shady Grace Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

In the remote Alberta wilderness, a madman wanders Cold Lake. His victims are happy to share his company…until they suffer by his blade. Journalist Carmen James and her cameraman are there to cover the story, but as darkness falls they must fight to stay alive.

woodshed. She’s bloodied, bruised and terrified, compelling him to aid her. Can love overcome the twisted mind of a killer? Review: It was a fast-pace thriller that held your attention from beginning to end and had some complex characters and some very funny ones. Abel really needs his story told. Carmen and John made a really good couple and they were believable, even if Carmen met him while on the trail of a killer. It was a great suspense story that held your attention to the end. Pick up a copy: You’ll like it. | Reviewer: | Cassandra Graham |

John Malloy lives a simple life in his cabin in the woods, until he stumbles upon a half-naked woman hiding in his

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feature sneak peek

Adrianne Brennan

Kingdoms of War Amanda, graduate student and devoted follower of the Greek god Apollo, is intrigued when she meets Jesse, a handsome young scholar who shares her love of both the classics and the occult. He quickly sparks her interests and ignites a dark flame of passion between them. Together, they embark on a shadowy path that leads Amanda straight into Jesse’s scintillating underworld of vampires, magick, and secret societies. Little does Amanda know she is about to fulfil a legacy that began over thirty years ago and ended in tragedy. Can she learn the truth about her identity in time to help those whom she has grown to care about and find happiness in her new life with Jesse? Blood of the Dark Moon combines the classic eroticism of vampires with a touch of modern sensual romance and occult intrigue.

Some time after they had left the diner, Amanda could only guess that they were venturing further into Queens and would soon, perhaps, be in Long Island. She kept scrutinizing the roads and the signs, looking for places she recognized. Unfortunately, she hadn’t traveled very much out of Manhattan during her stay at NYU and so nothing looked familiar to her. She settled for chatting with Jesse and enjoying the view from her window. It was almost midnight when Jesse finally pulled off a major road and stopped at a nearby rest stop. He parked the car off to the side and gestured towards the sky. “You can’t see this in Manhattan. Damn, it’s 92 | btsemag.com


beautiful.” She stared up at the sky and saw all of the individual stars that had been obscured by the pollution from the city. Amanda leaned back against the car, finding herself awed by the majesty of the sky combined with the gentle, clean breezes that swept through her hair. Away from the highway and the noises of the city to distract her, she experienced the outdoors at its fullest. She was spinning away in the galaxy towards the stars. With a flourish, Jesse opened up the back door of the car. “Here, sit down with me.” He sat on the seat and pulled her onto his lap. Wrapping his arms around her, they gazed up together at the night sky. “Gods, it’s beautiful,” she breathed. As he brushed her hair away from her face he merely commented, “And so are you.” She turned to smile at him before resting her head onto his chest. They stayed that way for a few moments until Amanda began to feel that something was odd. She racked her brain to figure it out, still bedazzled by the night sky and the feeling of being in his arms, but couldn’t think of it. Then at last she realized what it was: her ear was up against his chest, but she couldn’t feel nor hear a heartbeat. Puzzled, Amanda wondered if it was just because his leather jacket muffled the sound, but that couldn’t have been it. At their close proximity, she should still be able to hear or feel something. Figuring that the late hour and the fatigue were doing strange things to her mind, she dismissed it as her imagination. But in the silence between them, away from the city and the noise, the only breathing she heard was her own. I must be losing it. But as she stared up into the sky, too many things fell into her mind, persistent in their logic. Amanda had never seen Jesse during the daylight, had never seen him more than perhaps taste food, didn’t know what he did for a living other than “freelance computer work”, and now she couldn’t hear a heartbeat nor him breathing. “Jesse?” she queried, her hesitancy showing in her voice.

Feeling him freeze behind her, she wondered if he knew what was on her mind, and thought to phrase her next words with caution. “You’re not a normal guy, are you? I mean,” she continued, trying not to rush through her words, let alone sound nervous, “not that I’m… all that normal myself, and all, but….” Her voice trailed off. Amanda did not know what to say, or how to say it. Many moments passed without a response. With great deliberateness he ran his hands through her hair, and she delighted in the feel of his fingertips as they coursed through the strands, brushing against her neck as soft as silk. In that moment she remembered their first dinner outing, when Jesse showed her the Latin magickal text which referred to strange allegories, symbols and various arcana. She recalled that the text kept referencing “blood” in some mystical context. “Jesse?” Her voice was quieter, and she was no longer so certain that she was crazy. YOUR TIME HAS COME.

An avid reader, Adrianne has been most influenced by various science fiction and fantasy authors including Madeleine L’Engle, Roger Zelazny, Laurell K. Hamilton, LA Banks, Yasmine Galenorn, Michael Ende, Neil Gaiman, and Alan Moore. Like her main character from Blood of the Dark Moon, she professes a love for Iamblichus and Greek philosophy.The author resides in Boston, Massachusetts with two cats and a car she has aptly named “the TARDIS.” She assures her readers that people tell her it looks bigger on the inside.

FreyasBower.com September/October 2014 | 93


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Carol Lynne

The Brick Yard For Lucky Gunn, the hardest fight of his life happens outside the cage. On the south side of Chicago sits an old gym called The Brick Yard. Ten years ago, on a bitterly cold day, Lucky Gunn wandered into The Brick Yard dressed in a threadbare jacket, looking for refuge. He hadn’t expected the owner, Tony Brick, to welcome him with a job and a place to sleep when Lucky’s abusive and drug addict mother made it too dangerous to return home. Dray was a gay man living in a world of straight fighters. When his secret was exposed to the media, he dropped out giving Lucky a piece of advice, if you want to make it as a MMA fighter, bury the part of yourself that won’t be accepted. Lucky discovered the cage was the perfect place to keep his demons at bay, but when he learns his trainer and mentor, Brick, is suffering from end-stage cancer, he begins to spiral out of control. After eight years, Dray returns to help Lucky and Brick deal with the devastating news. With Dray so close, Lucky’s old desires return, and Dray teaches him more than how to fight. Torn between his career and the passion he feels for Dray, Lucky’s past demons resurface in full force, threatening his sanity and his budding relationship with Dray. Despite leaving the cage years earlier, Dray finds himself in the battle of his life with the only man he’s ever loved. Will he stand and fight or walk away like he did years earlier?

“Come on, boy!” Brick yelled. “Pay attention!” Lucky blinked several times as Brick smeared more Vaseline over the newly-opened cut on his left eyebrow. “I’m fine,” he mumbled around the mouth guard. His opponent in the amateur match, Jake ‘Lightning’ Boone, had a better record and was higher ranked, but in Lucky’s opinion, the guy’s heart wasn’t in it. “No you aren’t. We both know your power’s in your fists. You can’t use your best asset if you let this joker engage in dirty boxing.” Lightning was a clinch fighter, someone who preferred to hold his opponents too close to land punches. He was good at using his elbows to inflict injury, thus the cut above Lucky’s eye. “I’ll finish him this round,” Lucky declared. He needed the win. His record was good, but not great. Definitely not good enough to get the UFC’s attention. Brick slapped Lucky’s chest before sending him back into the cage for round 96 | btsemag.com

two. He stared at Lightning and knew the next three minutes meant everything. Four more wins and he’d have a shot at a title match—something he wanted more than anything. He’d given up too much not to succeed in the sport. “I’m taking this,” he told Lightning. Lightning smirked as much as the mouth guard allowed, but despite the attitude, the fire in his eyes had been snuffed at some point since the fight began. Lucky waited for the referee to signal the start of round two. Do it. He took a deep breath then landed two power punches to Lightning’s nose and an uppercut to his chin. Lightning’s eyes rolled back and like a giant redwood, he toppled with a loud thud. Lucky stared down at his opponent, wondering why the victory didn’t feel as good as it should have. At twenty-four, he was already behind a lot of fighters due to the time he’d taken off to deal with his mom’s legal battles and subsequent incarcerations. Each knockout was a notch on his belt. An avid reader for years, one day Carol Lynne decided to write her own brand of erotic romance. Carol juggles between being a full-time mother and a full-time writer. These days, you can usually find Carol either cleaning jelly out of the carpet or nestled in her favourite chair writing steamy love scenes.

TotallyBound.com


reviews erotic

Runaway Cowgirl Cheryl Dragon Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

Emily isn’t about to marry just any man, but falling in love with two hot ranchers might be more than this respectable young lady can handle. Emily St. Claire is wealthy, beautiful, young and very eligible to the single men of Manitou Springs, Colorado. The Wild West isn’t safe for a woman alone, but she isn’t about to marry for anything but love. Her charitable efforts put her in touch with all manner of people, and while she’s respectable, she causes gossip around the small town as she tries to help prostitutes and orphans. Still, she does want a family of her own.

Review: What’s a gorgeous girl to do when she single and doesn’t want to marry, if it’s not for love? And what’s she going to do if she can’t choose between two when she finally has no choice but to narrow down the competition? Well she can’t choose between the two she’s settled on so she decides, if not one, how about two! They had to keep that between themselves however. Society back in the good ole days definitely was not ready for a relationship like that and on top of that there were other interesting secrets that played out along the way. The characters were fun, flirty and you really liked everybody, and a really quick read. So if you get a chance check it out.

Renovating a Heart Deanndra Hall Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 5

Steve McCoy has been hiding his pain and fear his entire life and using his work as an attorney, a businessman, and a Dominant to do so. The only love Kelly Markham ever knew died, and even he didn’t know the secrets of her past. When Kelly’s efforts to help Steve kill his demons turn deadly, will he be able to admit his feelings for her before his hopes and dreams are lost forever? Review: Nice story and definitely for the over 18’s, because of the BDSM that’s in it and because it’s a really good story. Kelly and Steve turned out to be an interesting Dom and his Sub combo and it was only supposed to be for a short time and there were a few hiccups along the way. All the characters were likeable and the supportive characters were really that. Supportive. This is the third one in the series, so if you get a chance, check it out from the beginning. You just might be surprised you actually, like it. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

| Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

September/October 2014 | 97


feature sneak peek

Lisabet Sarai

The Ingredients of Bliss One sexy French chef. One kinky American TV producer. One ambitious Chinese gal who thinks she wants them both. The ingredients of bliss? Or a recipe for disaster? Accomplished cook Mei Lee ‘Emily’ Wong knows exactly what she wants—her own show on the Tastes of France food channel. But life is full of complications. First, her deceptively nerdy producer, Harry Sanborne, initiates Emily into the delights of submission. Then her boss, legendary chef Etienne Duvalier, begs her to dominate him. Emily just can’t resist—especially when Harry orders her to explore her inner mistress. Suave and sexy Etienne will do whatever she asks—in the bedroom if not in the kitchen. And Harry, her lovingly diabolical Dom, adores pushing Emily’s limits. When the network sends the trio to France to shoot a series of cooking shows on location, Emily knows her career is on the upswing. Her plans fall apart in Marseille as a Hong Kong drug syndicate kidnaps both Etienne and Harry. The Iron Hammer Triad mistakes Etienne for notorious gangster Jean Le Requin, who has stolen their drug shipment, worth millions. Emily realizes she must find the real Le Requin, retrieve the purloined dope, and bargain it for Harry’s and Etienne’s lives. The secret she’s been keeping from Harry might prove useful. Still, what chance does one woman whose knife skills are limited to chopping vegetables, have against the ruthless cruelty of two criminal organizations?

“You’re shivering, Mei Lee.” Etienne’s sparkling eyes reflected the deep blue of the waves. “Here, take my jacket.” Before I could protest, he’d removed the garment and settled it around my shoulders. He gave them a quick squeeze that warmed me at least as much as the extra layer. “It’s this silly dress—it’s made out of tissue paper.” I snuggled into the jacket, which held a trace of his heat and his scent. “I like the dress.” He flashed me a brilliant smile, turning on his celebrated charm. “It’s romantic, like something out of a 1940’s musical.” My desire to thrash his butt morphed into a need to feel those full lips on my own. “What’s romantic? The dungeons of the Château?” Harry joined us by the railing before I gave in to temptation. As he brushed past to stand on the opposite side from Etienne, he gave my ass a surreptitious pinch through the thin fabric of my costume. 98 | btsemag.com

I sucked in my breath at the sudden sting then relaxed as new warmth flooded through me. “Mei Lee’s dress. Don’t you think she looks beautiful?” “She always looks beautiful, whatever she wears. Most especially when she’s not wearing anything at all.” “Harry!” I scolded, as a blush climbed into my cheeks. “Someone in the crew might hear you.” “So what? I’m not ashamed of loving you. I’m sure Etienne feels the same way.” “Please! If the network finds out—I don’t want to lose this job…” “You’re still more concerned about your career than about me, Emily?” A quick glance at Harry’s face told me he wasn’t teasing. “No, of course not…” “Then why don’t you just relax?” “But the media—Etienne’s fans— if the word got out about what we’re doing…” “If word got out, our ratings would likely sky rocket,” Etienne commented, arching an eyebrow. “Don’t worry, though. Our lips are sealed.” “In all the right places.” “Harry! You’re impossible.” Despite my embarrassment, though, I couldn’t help laughing. How could I be angry when they both so obviously cared about me? Lisabet has more degrees than anyone would ever need, from prestigious educational institutions who would no doubt be deeply embarrassed by her chosen genre. She has traveled widely and currently lives in Southeast Asia with her indulgent husband and two exceptional felines, where she pursues an alternative career that is completely unrelated to her creative writing.

TotallyBound.com


reviews erotic

Her Secret Past

Iron Rods

Victoria Blisse Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

A past she wants to forget, a secret that will change everything and a hunky guy who should have known better. It’s no secret that Katrina Quinn has been caught having an affair with her hunky co-star. Hounded by the press she has escaped to Yorkshire, England and the remote seclusion of Copse Cottage. It’s a house packed full of junk and memories—far too much for one woman to handle. Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence and bullying. Review: What’s a bona fide mega movie star to do when he’s caught doing more than shagging a married co-star? Deal with the consequences and high-tail it out of Dodge. And wait for the furor to die down at the same time. Ryan Taylor met Katrina Quinn when she goes home to her grandmother’s funeral, after her latest catastrophe. Ryan’s currant girlfriend isn’t thrilled that he does odd jobs and helps out the ladies of the village and she’s more than a bit jealous and not to mention self-centered and unemployed and, maybe a tad depressed at the moment. So when Katrina and Ryan connect, sparks and tempers fly. It was good and interesting. Especially when you learn about the connection, you didn’t know existed. You like Ryan and Katrina and other supporting characters that were really likeable and there were some you definitely didn’t like, so if you get a chance pick up a copy. You’ll be glad you did. | Reviewer: Cassandra Graham |

Brenna Zinn Erotic Romance Heat Rating: 4

The women of Austin, Texas, could mix fantasy with flesh at Iron Rods but the strip club is now in disrepair. Bennett Truitt, estranged son of the club’s aging and half-crazy owner, wants to replace the landmark with condos. He hires feisty Tatum to manage the club, sure she will fail, but not before he has a chance to sample her skills in bed. After another rejection letter, Tatum realizes she’ll never be a professional dancer on or off Broadway. Down on her luck, she’s determined to make the run-down club successful no matter what, or who, it takes. She never expected her new boss to be so enticing they’re breaking doors down to get to each other, get their clothes off, taste each delectable inch. Review: This was an absolutely entertaining and fantastic read, it was erotic and sexy with lots of humor mixed in. If you love a romance with some comedy and erotic and sinful sex scenes then this should be on your TBR pile of books. The author didn’t waste any time with developing the chemistry between the two main characters and as a reader you were drawn into the story right from the first page. Bennett and Tatum were amazing right from the start! Tatum is one strong willed and determined woman and she is on a mission, besides being beautiful she is also amazingly talented. Bennett is one sexy, hot, and intelligent man who is also just as determined and has his own agenda and between the two of them being on opposite sides their battle of wills is explosive in more than just the battlefield it ignites in the bedroom as well. The author gives us real characters, they are interesting, and ultimately flawed in all the right ways. The secondary characters were so well written into the story as well that you fall in love with all of them! You won’t regret reading this book, it was exciting and fast paced right from the start! It had just the right amount of romance, it was funny, intriguing and the action and controversy continued all the way to the end of the book. The writing here was flawless. The emotions were intense. I can’t wait to read the next book that comes out in this series. I would definitely recommend this book. | Reviewer: Kim Patten |

September/October 2014 | 99


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serials

| Nicole Morgan |

continuing stories

Nicole Morgan

I had just finished hitting send on the e-mail when the client I was meeting walked into the coffeehouse and greeted me with a smile as he waved and walked up to the counter. He recited his order off to the less than enthused barista and waited for his order. I used the time waiting to shut down my e-mail and open up his project on my laptop.

September/October 2014 | 101


| Sex & the Single Woman |

Mr. Terry was a former and returning client. He had already used my services once before when he first began his company. The small T-shirt store he’d founded only a year ago had grown exponentially in the last several months, and his small informative website was in need of a massive overhaul to include an e-commerce portal for online orders. I’d just finished applying all of the bells and whistles last week, and this was the first chance that our schedules didn’t conflict. “Sorry I’m late. We got in a last minute family reunion order, and I had to drop it off at the post office on my way here.” “Not to worry. I caught up on some e-mails while I waited. I’m glad to see business is booming for you. Are you ready to see your new site? I integrated all of your wants and must-haves. I think you’re really going to like it,” I said with a smile. “I can’t wait. Let’s see what you have.” Over the course of the next two hours I took Mr. Terry on a mini-tutorial as well as e-mailed him an information packet on the general running of his new e-commerce site. He seemed very pleased with what I had done, and that, in turn, made me very happy. I was a perfectionist when it came to my work and having my clients completely satisfied always left me with a great deal of pride afterward. After spending the rest of my day e-mailing with clients and setting up a few networking meetings, I drove to what was becoming my weekly Friday night ritual with Kim. She seemed bound and determined to get me out of the house—or, in my case, an apartment—and find me a man. I’d tried telling her a hundred times or so that I didn’t need her help, but Kim being Kim, she just couldn’t listen. In her eyes, I needed a man, or at the very least, I needed to get laid. Granted that was Kim’s fix all for every problem in the world, but what was I going to do about it? Kim had been one of my best friends for years. Her tenacious and sometimes even scandalous behavior was just part of her charm. It was half past nine by the time I pulled into

102 | btsemag.com

the parking lot of the latest meat market Kim had insisted we try. This was the time of night when the clubs really began to burst with horny, and sometimes even desperate, people looking to hook up. As I locked my car and walked to the door, I spotted a few less than stellar looking men standing outside smoking their cigarettes. They were middle aged, showing a bit too much belly for my taste, and their shirts were unbuttoned as if they never received the memo that the seventies have come and gone. One of the men smiled at me and the other winked as I walked past them and into the crowded bar. Once inside I was met with a virtual wall made up of nothing more than hot and loud bodies. The music was shrieking loud from the DJ booth as the sound of bass thumped in my ears, keeping in tune with vibration I felt emanating from the floor. I spent a good twenty minutes walking around the bar before I finally heard Kim shout to me from a corner booth. She was sitting there looking far too content with two men flanking her on either side. One of the men had been laving Kim’s neck with kisses while the other was nibbling on her ear as his eyes wandered in my direction and winked. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the sight really. I mean this was Kim I was dealing with after all. But despite all the times she told me she’d been with two men, seeing the prelude to it was something entirely different, and dare I say a little shocking. Maybe Kim was right and I was too vanilla when it came to my sex life. I knew things like what I was witnessing occurred in life. It just seemed a bit more real when it was right before me. “Hey, sweetie. Sit down.” Kim pointed to a seat next to the nibbler. “We have champagne.” “Thanks.” I sat down hesitantly as the eyewandering nibbler looked my way. “Who might we be exactly?” Kim giggled as her hand worked its way up the neck licker’s thigh. “This here is Paulo and his friend, Ramon. They are here on vacation from


| Nicole Morgan |

Italy. Aren’t they sexy little tourists?” “Hello.” The nibbler greeted me with a look that said more than hi. “Hello. Nice to meet you both.” “It will be.” The licker added with a hint of mischief in his tone. I did my best to keep from rolling my eyes, but it was obvious that Kim must have caught my annoyed glare as she chimed in, “Don’t be such a fuddy duddy. Have a drink. Let’s get acquainted.” “Yes.” The nibbler pulled himself away from Kim’s ear and poured me a glass of champagne. “Let’s get acquainted. We never know what tonight may bring us.” I looked into his eyes and saw the intent staring back at me. I knew what he was implying. I knew what could happen. I knew that in that moment that was the last place I should be. Yet I didn’t budge from my spot on that small leather seat.

Instead, I found myself taking the glass from him and taking a drink. After all, I always had a hint of inquisitiveness to my personality, and I was mildly curious to see what tonight may hold.

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.

September/October 2014 | 103


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 September/October 2014 | 105


trends

reading trends in sci fi & fantasy

AliB FORTY and the

Spaceships Alex Bardy

To Read, Perchance To Dream . . . “Forest of Doom. This is usually the home of mobile and prehensile Trees. There will be giant SPIDERS too, and Dwellers near the centre who will want to SACRIFICE any stranger to their God. It is best to avoid the place if possible. An OLD RUINED CITY is sometimes situated in the heart of this Forest. See also WOODS.” —The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones

September/October 2014 | 107


| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships| Things that go bump in the night seems a particularly appropriate topic to cover in a SF/Fantasy-themed column, given that horror is often considered an integral aspect of what I like to term ‘genre fiction,’ but before we get into all that malarkey, I did promise an awards catch-up last time, so here goes . . . Last issue, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie captured various UK awards, and I mentioned it was also up for a Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novel, awarded by the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) . . . well, sure enough, it took that one, too, making it almost a clean sweep this year for Ms Leckie, on both sides of the border. If she miraculously takes the Hugo Award for Best Novel as well later this year, to be announced at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention over here in London (aka Loncon 3, Aug 14–18), then I will indeed eat my proverbial hat as there is no precedent for this—surely it’s not that good, is it? The term ‘essential reading’ springs to mind . . . As seems appropriate for a horror-themed issue, the 2013 Bram Stoker Award Winners were announced a while back— Doctor Sleep by Stephen King nabbed the Superior Achievement in a Novel Award this time round, and I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read this one yet. However, I have been fortunate enough to read some works by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son) this year, of which NOS4R2 (bizarrely entitled NOS4A2 over there in the United States) struck me as quite simply brilliant, frankly. NOS4A2 is a book of horror and psychological terror and centres around a basic battle of good vs. evil, with Vic McQueen as our heroine and the only person to ever have escaped the clutches of Charlie Manx, our child-stealing baddie. With writing that is, at times, startlingly witty and scarily grotesque, the author introduces us to a bizarre and corrupt fantasy world called Christmasland, an adjunct to our own but also an alternative reality of the mind where it’s Christmas every day, and children are stolen from their parents and forced to stay whether they like it or not. Manx drives a 1938 black Rolls Royce Wraith which is not all it seems, and his childlike psychotic partner in crime is Bing “The Gasmask Man” Partridge, a despicable character who we still somehow manage to understand and feel for by the end. Of course, Vic McQueen has some tricks of her own, including a handy bridge that takes her pretty much wherever she wants to go in a matter of seconds. . . . This is a twisted tale indeed, but it’s also really rather cool and dangerously addictive. A truly fabulous and frightening read if you haven’t yet had the pleasure, but I would recommend avoiding it around the festive season, just saying like . . . Now, I mentioned Sarah Pinborough’s beautifully written The Language of Dying in my last column and promised to cover more of her work this time round, so please be upstanding for a trilogy with a difference: Poison, Charm, and Beauty is a charming set of twisted fairytales that adopt a modern spin on the old classics and can be described suitably thus: “Yes, it’s those lovely Disney Princesses, but not as you know them . . .”—I really liked these, they’re also quite short (200+ pages), and the complete set looks very pretty on any bookshelf if that’s important to you! 108 | btsemag.com


| Alex Bardy | Sarah is one of the hardest-working authors I know, and she’s also written for the award-winning BBC TV series Torchwood as well as several gory crime thrillers, including Murder and Mayhem, the Dog-Faced Gods trilogy, a number of horror novels like London-based Feeding Ground, Tower Hill, and The Reckoning, as well as the truly heartbreaking Stay With Me, a story about The Death House, a place where terminally ill children are sent to die. She really is one-of-a-kind and deserves a much wider audience, so make a point of discovering her work if you haven’t already. Looking ahead, we have quite a few goodies to look forward to as summer passes slowly into autumn (that’s fall to you guys!), so here’s a quick look-see . . . One person getting a revival of sorts is Andre Norton, a great author of fantasy and science fiction who died just over a decade ago—her unforgettable Witch World series (begun in 1963 with Witch World) is but one of many she has gifted to the fantasy community, and—in line with her achievements within the industry, including the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award back in 1998, and the Science Fiction Writers of America even naming an award after her—there is heaps of her work due to be republished over the next few months, so do please keep an eye out for them care of Open Road Media and Amazon. com. Other things to look out for include Larry Niven’s classic Ringworld (published by Tor/Seven Seas, July 2014) making its transition to a graphic novel/comic format—the first part of which has probably already appeared in US comic and bookstores by the time you read this; and a young man called Joe Abercrombie who has unleashed (or rather, reinvented) the concept of so-called ‘grimdark fantasy’ through his grittily hardhitting First Law series, as well as several other books set in the same universe. My favourite Abercrombie novel remains Best Served Cold, published back in 2012; it’s a straightforward fantasy tale of a woman wronged and an intricate and somewhat gory account of how she exacts revenge on each and every one of those who wronged her. Nasty stuff indeed, but filled to the brim with great characters, a number of sticky ends, and an air of smug satisfaction for the reader . . . Joe Abercrombie’s new series is a trilogy of YA novels, beginning with Half a King (published by Gollancz, July 2014), and to be followed in due course by Half a World and Half a War—it’s the tale of a one-armed Prince Yarvi who unexpectedly becomes a king following the untimely death of his father and brother, but who is himself just as unexpectedly

unseated by betrayal and deception . . . you can guess what happens next as he embarks on a quest for vengeance, but despite the predictable outcome you can guarantee that Abercrombie will make it a journey to remember . . . No time or space for a classic this time round, but I promise a return to form next time. Toodles . . .

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

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| Ali B and the Forty Spaceships|

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reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Carnal Magic

Lila Dubois Paranormal/Vampire Heat Rating: 4

Two hundred years after the Tuatha de Danaan and Vampires formed a fragile alliance, the Wraith Accords are unraveling. Isabel Santiago is a leader in one of the most powerful of the vampire cabals, and she agrees to join the Fae court as a gesture of goodwill—and damage control. While Aed mac Goll’s loyalty to Fae is absolute, he’s never supported the accords which gave the Vampires sanctuary and restored the Tuatha de’s link to humanity. The very idea he could desire an undead human is unthinkable, yet he’s drawn to Isabel’s dark beauty and fierce intelligence. Review: Finally! FINALLY off of my book hangover thanks to Lila Dubois! The synopsis of Carnal Magic teases and hints to some sexy scenes between Aed and Isabel and Lila does not disappoint! This book isn’t just about some really hot stuff going on between a vampire and a fae though... there is a much deeper plot behind the scenes. It was very interesting the way Isabel is introduced in the story. She is all vampire but in fae territory so she realizes she is very vulnerable. Being a vampire she is not one to let these silly fae get in her way of ensuring the alliance is upheld and strengthened but it is surprising to see how these fae act. Aed sounds like a god! It’s no wonder Isabel is taken with him so suddenly. It’s a wonder how faes must react to each other since Aed is barely glanced at and finds it ridiculous when Isabel compliments him. Faith in his looks notwithstanding, he is the epitome of a Knight in Shining Armor and is set to protect Isabel, as is his duty. These two are formidable! The tension, not just from the lust but from their separate loyalties hangs in the air constantly leaving them unsure of each other. I loved that these two are so strong and yet the make a striking juxtaposition to each other, as any reader would assume being that they are vampire and fae. SO different and yet so strong and conscious of their duties to their families. The entire story was fascinating and had me drooling for more. The only downside to this fantastic story is that there

wasn’t much at the end. The synopsis does say Book 1 so it is with high hopes that the author is continuing the story and plans to divulge some of what is going on! There were just so many questions that went unanswered but the writing and the characters made up for that and I am highly anticipating book 2. | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |

Solace Shattered Anna Steffl SciFi Heat Rating: 2

The fascinating Solace trilogy continues with greater stakes and deeper romance in an unforgettable fantasy world. One relic is lost in an act of fidelity when Paulus’s blessed sword falls into undeserving hands. One relic is won by testing the strength, endurance, and mercy of the champion who proves himself worthy of the Blue Eye. But two souls are shattered in the process. Though Arvana serves her penance by choosing a champion, the pure joy of a shacra evades her until a forbidden moment of tenderness. Will the single kiss endanger the fate of the world and destroy her heart’s longing for solace? Review: A new hero emerges causing Arvana question whether he may be the one who can harness not just the Blue Eye, but her heart as well. Will this new hero be the one to control the ancient relic, or will Chane return a changed man with the ability to harness the power of the Blue Eye? Shattered Solace is full of suspense, mystery, assassins, princesses, princes, kings, warriors, romance, sprits and action; that forces many of the characters to show their true colors. Those who once seemed pure now seem to be as corrupt as those who harbor the draeden. I cannot wait to read the not book in the series. | Reviewer: Brittany Hale |

September/October 2014 | 111


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Magick & Moonlight Marie Lavender Paranormal Romance Heat Rating: 4

Messing with free will is always a bad idea… Ethan Hamilton moves to a lazy little town in Oregon, hoping to escape his demons. But, instead he discovers a woman dancing nude in the moonlight. This woman who claims she is a witch dazzles him with her sensual presence. He thinks she’s crazy, but what if she’s not? Jessie Anderson has been taught that her kind hides who they really are. And she has a problem on her hands. Someone knows her secret and she has to do all she can to protect herself. Review: Magick and Moonlight by Marie Lavender is a sweet romance between an ex-cop, Ethan, and a wican, Jesssie. He finds her in a secluded area on the beach naked during a full moon dancing around a cauldron. Upon seeing her face he is amazed at how beautiful she is. He offers her his coat and a ride home which she accepts. Immediately she casts a spell on him. Lavender builds the suspense, leaving the reader to wonder why she casts the spell. Throughout the story small details are given, although the answer doesn’t come out till close to the end. The love affair between them starts to bud and grow and throughout everything the couple goes through they manage to be a benefit to one another. The author brought the characters to life in this short novella that centers around Ethan and Jessie through the use of dialogue, expression, and descriptions of place and person. I found myself engrossed in the plot throughout the entire length of the story in anticipation of the couple’s fate. The story flowed easily and was a quick read. Too quick. Upon turning the final page I yearned for more. A true page turner! | Reviewer: Lisa Klaes |

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reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Rebel

Cheryl Brooks SciFi Heat Rating: 4

TKimcasha has lived by her wits since she lost her family when she was eight years old. So when three of her friends vanish, she has no fear about using herself as kidnapper’s bait, until a stranger foils her plot… After ten years of selling his services in a brothel, Onca has decided to retire. A refugee of planet Zetith, he has no family, no surname, and no woman—until he rescues a young homeless girl from a kidnapper. Onca helps Kim find her friends, but as their intense attraction deepens, he begins feeling too jaded for someone so innocent. It’s up to Kim to convince him otherwise... Review: This is a REBEL with a cause. I absolutely adored the premise of the novel: experienced hero, Onca, meets inexperienced heroine, Kim. Rebel was sweet, seductive, and oh so steamy. As the tenth novel in the Cat Star Chronicles, Rebel was enjoyable as a stand-alone. I’m sure the previous works in this series can only add to the enjoyment this reader experienced devouring Rebel. Our heroine runs into Onca in an attempt to use herself as bait in the hopes of finding friends that have come up missing. This element of the story added a wonderful pace of action as Onca and Kim find themselves working towards the same goal. The world building in Rebel was vivid and allowed my imagination to soar! The romance was simply perfect, making me flip through the pages as fast as my fingers could fly and not wanting it to end at the same time. | Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs |

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R. Peter Ubtrent

Dark Pilgrim Series A religion that might even be older than J’tan?” “But it’s so perfect.” He started to pace as light drifts of snow began to fall from the leaden sky outside. “She’s so perfect. She can hardly read or write. She isn’t all that intelligent, yet. And she’s young and, I assume, a virgin.” “And how would you know that? And what would it matter if she weren’t?” Her eyes lit up with indignation. “Stop and just listen to what I’m saying, what I’m proposing. We take her and all that we’ve written up to one of the numerous caves where she likes to go to. We leave her there.” “In this storm? You’ve gone crazy. I’m not about to leave her in that cold out there, alone.” She crossed her arms under her ample bosom and set her face hard, the same way she did when she was completely opposed to anything Sayi had to say and refused to budge. “Fine, then we can provide her with heaters and a few blankets, which we’ll take away later. But just image this for me, please. We put her up there and after the storm she comes wandering down with this revelation from the Creator under her arm, given to her by the Creator, in its entirety. No one knows that we’ve been working on this, that we have these discs. Think of what a sensation this will create? She can’t write or read so how would she be able to create such a piece of literature as this? It has to have been divinely inspired.” She looked at him sternly but he could see that she was thinking about it, that the idea was starting to gain hold. She raised her chin slightly. “And the discs? What do we do with them? There’s far more here than what we incorporated into our divine manuscript. There are hundreds of years worth of history here. Patch-work to be sure, but human history nonetheless from before the Dark Ages, before humanity was even supposed to have any history of its own. There are things here that prove beyond a doubt that Dwad-Mehstiv didn’t make us simply to serve them. That we weren’t a slave race created specifically to be slaves and only slaves. These discs can never be found by the Drek. And they can never

The Dark Pilgrim series is a set of six books that will take the reader on a grand space opera that spans the galaxy as love and greed, lust and corruption, honor and evil vie for contention in the lives of Ailanthus and Tethys. Falsely convicted and left to languish in the worst penal colony in The Imperium, they will soon learn that their fate and the fate of all the species in the galaxy are hopelessly intertwined. Forced to repeatedly choose between those he loves and the destiny of which he wants no part, Ailanthus becomes the focal point for a lust that will either destroy him or the galaxy. Packed with adventure, desire and sexual passion, The Dark Pilgrim Series will leave you wanting more.

Sayi patted her knee. “Because that’s the way these things work, dearest. We’re on the threshold of a new religion here, a new beginning so it’s only natural for us to embellish a little. And I didn’t rip them out of his hands. He was already dead. It doesn’t count then.” “And he didn’t tell us to rewrite the entire thing like we have. That I remember very distinctly.” “No, you’re right. But he did tell us to protect the heritage and continue to protect humanity’s legacy.” He indicated with a sweep of his hand the entire room and its contents. “And all this is that legacy and the best way to protect it is to put it into as many hands as possible.” “I know all this, Sayi and I agree with you that the best way to protect it all is to spread it out so that the destruction of one group doesn’t destroy it all. And I even agree with the rewriting part, especially with placing our newest saint, Orion Morgase, into a leading role. But I do object to your suggestion that we use Aurum. She’s too young. You’re aware what the Drek will do to her when they find out what we’ve done, aren’t you? They aren’t too thrilled with the current attempt at a human religion. Imagine what they’ll do with this, a real human religion from before the Dark Ages? 114 | btsemag.com


be found by anyone else either. If they find these discs, then they find out what we did and our entire attempt to create a religion will be destroyed.” “I don’t want to destroy them. But we can’t keep them here either.” She uncrossed her arms, a sure sign that she was warming to the idea. “How ‘bout we disguise them, put them inside something else that no one would ever thing to look at. Then we give them to our children and they to their children and so on and so on, always keeping it in our family, never revealing them, never losing them.” He moved over to her and knelt before her. “So you like the idea?” “It has merit... And potential. But we need to be very careful. After she’s recognized as a prophet, you and I must distance ourselves from her forever.” “And the discs.” “Yes, and the discs. If this is going to work, Sayi, then we really need to make certain that she gets off this planet, eventually. And safely off the planet, mind you, not in the hands of the Drek.” “I think that will take care of itself. If this works as I envision it, they’ll come and get her. Her’s will become a household name. Probably something like St. Aurum Gossomer. She’ll be heralded as the founder of a great religion, of the great human religion, inspired by the Creator to a young virgin. Just like this book called the Bible talks about. It has virgins all over it.” She smiled, then put her hand on his neck and rubbed. “You certainly have big plans for this, don’t you?” “You should also. We wrote it. You know as well as I do what explosive power this manuscript has. This could be the binding force that brings us all together, that ends this senseless war and slaughter and puts humanity back on a even par with the other species rather than just an easy target for their aggression.” She looked into his beautiful brown eyes, saw the light behind them like a thousand candles burning and knew they were on the edge of a threshold here. No one would ever know that they had been the authors, had pirated the ideas from a number of religious books that was once the lexicon of human religions. That was a good thing, for this would only work if everyone believed that Aurum Gossomer, the young girl from an out-of-the-way planet, had spoken to the Creator and received this sacred revelation. If it was ever revealed that Sayi and Elaphe had written all these, or if the discs ever surfaced, it would ruin the entire plan. The potential for success was immeasurable. “Have you spoken to her yet?” He shrugged, stood up and walked back to his tea. He tasted it and found it no longer hot. He frowned, walked back to the sink and poured it out, then poured himself another cup from the pot.

“Have you spoken to her yet?” she asked again, her voice raising slightly. He looked at her over the rim of the cup. “I might’ve mentioned something like it.” She stood abruptly. “You spoke to her already? How much did you tell her?” He sipped at his tea and found that now it was too hot. “She can be trusted. She likes me, I think. And she certainly likes you.” “And...?” He walked over to the frosted window and peered out as the snow-flakes began coming down heavier. They needed to finish the manuscript and get her up to the cabin before the storm grew too big, before it would be too difficult to cover their tracks. Timing was a key to this and now was certainly the time. She stepped up behind him and turned him around. “She’s only fourteen, Sayi. How are you going to make sure that she never tells anyone about us?” He put his hand on her cheek, saw the warmth in her eyes. “I didn’t lay out the whole plan for her. In fact, I haven’t even told her about what we’ve been doing. All we talked about was religion and the Creator and I found out that she’s been having dreams about Him, about something great happening to her. She’s ripe for the picking, this one is. She’s ready to receive a revelation. We drug her here, ask her over for tea or something innocent, then carry her up to the cave where we leave her and the manuscript, all written out in words she could never know, on material she could never have access to, with concepts no human has seen in over three thousand years. If we use the proper drugs, she’ll have all sorts of hallucinations about the Creator, seeing that I’ve seeded her mind with concepts of Him. She awakes, finds the manuscript, finds the suggestion we placed in her mind and we have ourselves a prophet; The prophet.” She frowned. “You make it sound too simple. You’re leaving too much to chance.”

R. Peter Ubtrent was born in NYC but managed to escape at the age of eight to Albuquerque, NM. He has been trapped ever since. He lives rather peacefully with his wife and three dogs and garden. He has degrees in Astrophysics and Secondary Education and advanced degrees in Military History.

UbtrentBooks.com September/October 2014 | 115


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Life After Death Sharon Saracino Paranormal Heat Rating: 4

After artfully arbitrating her return from the dead, Max Logan considers her experience with the afterlife a thing of the past. But Max’s success as a temporary Superintendent of Spiritual Impediment was no accident, as she discovers when the permanent SSI shows up in the middle of the night to reveal that Max has a genetic predisposition to a supernatural calling. When Max’s exhusband and current boyfriend, Roger-the-Proctologist is lost in a plane crash due to an inept Reaper gone rogue, Max has no choice but to venture back into the sweet hereafter in an attempt to rescue him. Review: Life After Death was not at all what I expected. In looking at the cover. I expected this novel to be a gripping, haunting story that would end tragically. I was pleasantly surprised to find the heroine to be anything but willowy or fragile. Max Logan was quite snarky and strong and made this sequel very enjoyable. Having not read the first, the author did a great job of catching the reader up to speed so that I didn’t feel lost. The premise of the book was fabulous! I loved reading about the afterlife and the world building surrounding it. Throw in a rescue mission concerning her current boyfriend, ex-boyfriend and the Grim Reaper, and now you’ve got a recipe for a fun ride. While Life After Death may have the appearance of a somber read, it was anything but that. It was witty, packed with clever world building, and easy to breeze through. Very entertaining! | Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs |

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Twilight Over Moldavia Stephanie Burkhart Shapeshifter Romance Heat Rating: 3

Romanian unification is on the horizon and the spirited Crown Princess of Carpathia, Caroline, would prefer to ride horses and archery to embroidery and dancing. Complicating her life is her recent discovery that she’s a witch. Prince Stefan Sigmaringen travels to Carpathia to meet Caroline. He discovers he has much in common with her. He also learns that a strange man, Timon, has an unnatural interest in him. Upon Stefan’s engagement, he overhears his mother confessing to a horrible secret – she cursed him in order to conceive him and Stefan will become a werewolf when he turns eighteen. Review: Wonderful! Full of romance, suspense, supernatural elements…Twilight Over Moldavia is sure to please lovers with an appetite for romance. This novel never had a dull moment. One of my favorite parts was when the female lead, Caroline (crown princess of Carpathia) meets the male lead and love interest, Stefan. I loved the historical details the author incorporated into the story as well as all the curses, twists and turns. This is the second book in a series, but worked wonderful as a stand alone. Having not read the first, I never once felt that I was lost or confused in the story. The writing style is flawless and had so many swoon-worthy moments. I would highly recommend this to lovers of stories with curses, witches, and stories brimming with romance! | Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs |


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Seeking Solace Anna Steffl SciFi Heat Rating: 2

The first book in Solace, an immersive, realistic fantasy/ romance trilogy, follows Arvana, the only Solacian capable of seeing the Blue Eye’s revelations, as she reluctantly leaves her cloistered refuge to seek a champion to wield a relic against the resurrected draeden. The obvious champion is the charismatic Prince Chane Lerouge, who possesses the one remaining sword the ancestors used to end the Reckoning. But the unknown warrior, Captain Degarius, unrelentingly

pursues a rumored lake monster with a blade whispered to be blessed. Will Arvana’s mission earn her the elusive solace she seeks or spiral her heart—and the world—into a second Reckoning if she chooses the wrong man? Review: Arvana, a Solacian by trade is positioned as a tutor to Princess Lerouge. As a member of the religious order Arvana has be tasked with finding the chosen one. The one who will be able to harness the powers of an ancient relic, a relic that Arvana must keep safe. The chosen one is said to be the one who will slay the draeden, and bring peace to the lands. Seeking Solace is a captivating fantasy, which is full of dragons, romance, hidden agendas, as well as, the intrinsic battle between good and evil. I really enjoyed this book; it has just the right amount of romance and action. | Reviewer: Brittany Hale |

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reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Never Forget Always Remember Ashlyn Mathews Vampire Romance Heat Rating: 4

He burns with desire for her. He kills for her. But will Xavier Doom, a demon with an insatiable appetite for women, money and power, give up everything for Vampire Slayer, Elise Castle, a woman who can only offer him her love? Work together to bring in X’s vampire-turned friend, but don’t fall for one another. Simple enough. Yet they can’t deny their instant attraction for one another. Review: I love a good paranormal romance and I was not disappointed when I read this book. The story was filled with action, and Ashlyn Mathews has a true gift for storytelling, she had no problem drawing you right into the heart of the story. The writing is vividly descriptive, the story is well written and is filled with twists and turns, wondering what will happen next. There is lots of action, drama and suspense and the sex was hot, hot, hot! This is a very different take on the paranormal genre and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Xavier is a fallen and oh so sexy! At first I thought he was kind of an arrogant jerk and wasn’t sure I would like him but his character grew on me and underneath that brash bad boy exterior he has quite a protective and romantic nature. Then we meet Elise who is a slayer, she is sexy and smart but has been dealt a bad hand up until now, she has lived with a lot of guilt and faced some of the worst fates possible. The passion and chemistry between the two of them was intense and made for some very steamy scenes. The secondary characters were also very well written, they add so much to the story. The book has a very vivid and lifelike feel to it. I found myself being pulled into a great story that took me on a roller coaster ride of intense and conflicting emotions. The author draws you into her own paranormal world and takes you on a really entertaining ride that just keeps getting more exciting and more complicated for the characters the further into the book you read. I really had a hard time putting this book

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Eve Langlais

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Hell’s Kitty

Good thing this Hellcat has nine lives because he’s going to need them if he’s going to survive Lucifer’s latest scheme and land on his four furry feet. Okay, so Felipe ate a few of the Styx sea creatures. In his defense, they were awfully tasty. Depleting the monster reservoir didn’t mean Lucifer had to go all Lord of Hell on him and order him to go on a stupid mission. And to Siren Isle of all places! Everyone knows males should stay far, far away from that dangerous place. The only stroke of luck is the woman he’s after isn’t a siren. Nor is she quite a mermaid. As a matter of fact, Jenny isn’t like anyone he’s ever met—so, of course, this curious cat wants her. Except he’s not the only one. “Gaia!” Lucifer bellowed her name, then leaned back in his chair, undid his pants, and let his mighty beast spring forth. He waited. And waited. A frown creased his brow. “Woman, where are you?” he yelled again. “I know you can hear me. You’re always listening in.” Darned female, always sticking her nose in his affairs. She spied almost as well as he did. This time she answered his call, arriving in a cloud of green sparkles that emitted an obnoxiously fresh-flowered smell that totally clashed with the manliness of his office. “About time,” he grumbled as he waved his erect dick at her. She gave him and his mighty snake but a cursory glance. “Really, Luc. How many times do I have to tell you that is not sexy?” “You like it well enough when I use it to plow you.” “After some foreplay. But that...” She waved a dismissive hand in his direction. “Wagging it around? Surely in the thousands of years you’ve prided yourself on being a lover, you’ve acquired a more suave method of seduction.” “I thought we were past all that crap,” he complained. Wasn’t the whole point of dating and fidelity so he could bypass the annoying parts and get right to the fun stuff? “Just because we’re lovers doesn’t mean you have to stop trying.” “But all that seduction crap takes time. And I want some nookie now.” He gave her his best pout. She ignored it. “What’s this I hear about a new menace heading toward Hell?” 119 | btsemag.com

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“Nothing to worry your pretty head about, although I do know of another head in need of attention.” He tried a winsome smile—which always failed with the ladies, but he kept practicing. He’d seen Felipe and Remy use it, with success he might add. Lucifer just couldn’t figure out why his version didn’t have the same effect. For some reason, with the exception of Gaia, women either screamed or fainted at the sight of it. His smile didn’t work. His groin waggle didn’t merit a glance. And his suggestive leer met with a furrow. “Be serious for a moment. We need to talk about the news Felipe just imparted. Who has the power to mess with the Styx?” mused his girlfriend. With a big sigh, as Lucifer realized he wouldn’t get any coital action until he’d—ugh—had a conversation with the missus, he tucked his equipment back in his pants. Yeah, the Lord of the Pit is back stealing scenes in my newest Welcome to Hell story. For more of him and the yummy kitty we met in A Demon and his Witch, pick up your copy of Hell’s Kitty today :D

Hello, my name is Eve Langlais, and I love to write hot romance, usually with shifters, cyborgs or aliens. I am an international bestseller with a twisted imagination and a sarcastic sense of humor, which I like to let loose in my writing. I hope you enjoy my stories, ~Eve

EveLanglais.com


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Elissa Daye In Chains

Destiny calls them. Duty binds them. Beware what you wish for. After a werewolf bite, Brieanna’s world is changed forever. Transported to the world of Lena, she makes a pact with the Goddess Adriana to become the fated Spirit Wolf, a creature destined to save them all from the Lair’s poison. Leo would go to any lengths to bring them down the Lair, even if it meant joining forces with the culprits to uncover their deadly secrets. Her spirit is a beacon of light within the darkness. He walks between both worlds with scars that were carved into his body and soul. Their secrets keep them bound to a path they are destined to walk alone. Will love bring them She leaned closer to the wolf and wrapped back together in the end? her arms gently around its scruff. She laid her head in its neck and breathed in the wolf’s aroma. The smell of cinnamon and vanilla wafted through her nose. As she breathed, something strange started to happen. It was as if the white wolf was melting away before her. Like the white ash from a smoldering fire, small dots of white fluff swirled around her, over and under, across and through, until it made a long line of fluttering white that surrounded her like a blanket. She stood up inside the twisting ring and laughed as the air tickled her face. Brieanna felt a strange tingling run through her body as the fluttering moved close enough to rake her skin. Her skin started to feel hot. Rubbing her hands over her arms, she looked down. Her hands were no longer hers, but large paws. Panic entered her for a moment, for she was afraid of turning into the uncontrollable beast that the Lair had created, but then she realized that the madness she had felt earlier was no longer inside her. This transformation was not one created in darkness, but one that resided in between the love and light. This was her destiny. She sat back down on the ground and let fate take over. Where she had once stood tall in her human form, she now lay on the ground in a completely separate form, the white wolf. An unknown cognition rose within her, like a siphoned image into her mind 120 | btsemag.com

from afar, sharing the story of the fabled healer of Lena, the Spirit Wolf. Spoken of only by the Women of Lena, this story was passed down from generation to generation, from mothers to daughters, in the form of a fairy tale. The Spirit Wolf was an all-powerful being who would rise when the world needed light to pave the way through darkness. This mystical creature could heal everything from the common cold to the most mortal wound. When children were sick, the mothers would tell them that the Spirit Wolf would come chase away their cold as they slept, steal the disease from their bodies, and replace it with magical dreams that would make them feel better. As she took on her new body, a new perception entered her head as an extensive knowledge base flashed and sparked in her mind. It would take almost a life time to decipher all the details, but she knew it would come to her eventually.

Elissa Daye graduated from Illinois State University in December 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. After teaching for several years, Elissa is now happily married and a stay at home mom, who writes in every spare moment she can find.

Elissa @ Facebook


reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

down and read it in a day! There is a lot of potential for a series following this and I look forward to reading more about this world that Ms. Mathews created, I would definitely recommend this book if you love a great paranormal erotic read with lots of action, drama and a HEA. | Reviewer: Kim Patten |

Prim & Proper

Jordan K. Rose Paranormal/Vampire Heat Rating: 4

A formal vampire reception is just that- formal. There are rules. There are expectations. There are certain security measures that must be taken. The list of things that should not occur includes, but is not limited to: duels for subjugation, bar brawls, and accidental, er, unintentional, well, not-meant-to-happen-at-that-moment demon calling. Drinking from other master vampires, turning new vampires without permission, and reliving your first kiss, which happened to be with a serial killer are absolutely inappropriate. Review: Although I have not read the first book in this series this felt like a second book. There were underlying things that I felt like I was missing. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed this! Yes, I feel like book one would have given me more insight to the varying relationships (there are a lot of people in this!) but for the most part I was able to go with the flow and was able to enjoy this. I truly like the main characters, Prim and Proper. Prim is crazy! She gets herself into some mischief like you would not believe. This entire book is based on that mischief! The entire book!! When I’m not loving and laughing at her antics, I want to strangle her because of them! The only thing I didn’t quite feel was fully expressed was

the relationship with her hubby. She seems to love him but is also scared of him. I didn’t fully understand until closer to the end. Again, reading book one may help with this as well. Then we have Proper. She is a mess!!! I mean a real MESS. Something about her just makes me love her though. She tries way too hard to get people to like her and because of that she winds up overdoing nearly everything. It’s just crazy. Hilarious but crazy. Put these two together and you have one fabulous relationship. Chock full of drama. At first I was wondering how in the world they were going to even begin to be friends but they sort of feed off of each other. When one is down the other seems to be able to be strong and lift that one up. I actually want to know a lot more about not only Prim & Proper but all of the characters in this story. Dick was by far my favorite! He’s much more in the beginning but he definitely makes an impression. I feel like Calliope’s story would also make for a very intriguing read. In short: Extremely cute! Definitely paranormal and not just your typical vampire novel either. This has dragons and werewolves too! | Reviewer: Christina Torretta |

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reviews sci fi | fantasy | paranormal

Step in Time

Juliet Cardin SciFi/Time Travel Heat Rating: 4

It has long since been a fantasy of Starr’s to dance at Stonehenge. Making the long trek to the Salisbury Plains, she waits for night to fall, and alone she dances, making her dream a reality. But her dream becomes a nightmare when her intricate dance turns back the hands of time. Starr finds herself in a primeval world that knows only warfare and desperation. Two men, champions sent forth by their people, are there to settle a long dispute over territorial rights in a deadly final dance of their own. Review: Starr is a newly 18 dancer goes on her dream trip to Stonehenge, once separated from her tour group she dances among the stones quickly finding herself in a different time. Unsure how she time traveled to the past Starr must figure out a way back to her own time. This book is difficult for me to review; it definitely falls in the realm of erotica, which makes what occurs sexually in this book, vary from woman to woman. I also may be a bit ‘vanilla’ when it comes to the type of sex I like in novels. Step in Time is well written, the setting and plot are executed well but I really disliked the naïve nature of Starr. I also didn’t like how the men in Step in Time take advantage of her naïve nature. That’s why I gave Step in Time three stars, it’s not my cup of tea; but it is a well-written short story.book down and read it in a day! There is a lot of potential for a series following this and I look forward to reading more about this world that Ms. Mathews created, I would definitely recommend this book if you love a great paranormal erotic read with lots of action, drama and a HEA. | Reviewer: Brittany Hale |

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Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | Horrror

BEYOND the EXPECTED

MYSTERY & SUSPENSE

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 September/October 2014 | 123


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reading trends in mystery & more

Scrying EYE The

Kelly Hudson

Ghosts of the Past . . . Demons of the Present Welcome fellow travelers, purveyors of worlds seen and unseen, observers of realities both harsh and horrific, those curious as to what the future holds as well as what they may have missed, ghosts and haunts that have passed them by in the night. Put aside your fears and worries, all are welcome here in the parlor, all are welcome to gaze into the crystal ball, and all are welcome to get a glimpse into what was, what is, and what shall be. For the Scrying Eye has opened, and it has many secrets it is eager to reveal.

Sit closer, my children, sit and stare at the hypnotic Eye as it swirls and spins. Gaze with wonder and awe ...

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| The Scrying Eye |

Suspense/Mystery Any Other Name by Craig Johnson (A Longmire Mystery, #10, Viking Adult— available now) is yet another sterling entry into the sprawling saga that is the life of the Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. A police detective is dead in the next county over and as a favor for his old mentor, Longmire heads out to investigate the suicide. As he digs deeper into the reasons why this cop killed himself, he discovers that the detective was hiding information on three missing women. From there, the story takes another turn, and soon, Longmire finds he’s knee-deep in a secret that may claim the lives of others. Can he solve this case and stop the violence? Read on to find out. If you’ve never read a Longmire book, you’ll find a nice sense of laconic storytelling coupled with some inventive characters and amazing dialogue. You’re in for a treat, so start digging in . . . Parker: The Man With the Getaway Face by Richard Stark, illustrations by Darwyn Cooke (Parker, #2, IDW Publishing—available October 7, 2014), is another riveting tale set in the world of Parker, a planner of robberies and heists. Parker is practically amoral, nearer to being a sociopath than a regular human; the only thing he cares about is the job. He wants it done right, and no one will stand in his way. Since he’s made the Mob angry, he has to change his face in order to stay in the game. And along the way, he’s got this armored car heist planned, one that will take care of his immediate monetary concerns. Parker is the ultimate antihero, and his series started in the early 1960s, stopped in the early ’70s, and renewed in the late ’90s. Here’s an excellent chance to see what all the fuss is about and in a handsome new edition with some amazing artwork. Black Hat Jack by Joe R. Lansdale (Subterranean Press—available September 30, 2014) is the story of Deadwood Dick, a legend of the Old West. But here’s the thing, old Deadwood was always thought to be a white man, and it turns out that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Deadwood was really Nat Love, a black cowboy, buffalo soldier, Indian fighter, and raiser of hell. Here Nat takes matters into his own hands, telling the real story of Deadwood Dick, his own story, and he pulls no punches. Blood flows, humor bounces around, action is plenty, and Nat manages to work in a little bit of romance, too. What else would you expect of a Lansdale story? It’s a tale of the Old West, but not quite like it’s ever been told before.

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| Kelly Hudson |

Horror! The Hidden: A Fenris Lyall Tale by Ethan Sandlow (Werewolves and Shifters, #1, Indie Book— available now) is the first in a series about librarian Amanda Burrage. She lives a lonely existence, filling her time with her job and volunteer work at a homeless shelter. Soon that lonely life will be shattered forever when Amanda discovers that she is part of a group known as The Hidden. It seems she has powers she did not know she possessed. But with this breakthrough comes the revelation that forces are moving against her, hoping to steal her abilities for themselves. Her only chance is Fenris Lyall, a lone alpha werewolf. He saves her once, and in order to survive, they will have to team up to fight their common enemy. Can they possibly make it? This is a tale that plays to both the Young Adult crowd as well as the horror fans, with plenty of action and romance, so seek it out!

dream of the future and what wonders and terrors it holds. Go home now! Fix some coffee or tea, or crack open a beverage of questionable origin. Drink deep and open your next book, order a few new ones, and delve into another dark and dangerous world. All from a safe distance, of course. Of course . . . Nothing is safe. For the Scrying Eye is always watching.

SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror by Jonathan Maberry, Weston Ochse, Greig Beck, and more (Cohesion Press—available now) is exactly what it says it is. Several tales of terror featuring soldiers and military personnel, a collection of ancient myths, time travels, horrors in the Old West, and the fighting men who have to survive them. Featuring many great writers such as Maberry and Ochse, this anthology is one you can’t go wrong with, especially if you want to read something a little off the beaten path. Do it for your country! Saint Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel by Dean Koontz, the last in the series (Odd Thomas, #7, Bantam— available December 9, 2014) is the final story in the Odd Thomas series. This is it, the last one, the story that will wrap it all up and bring to a conclusion this most startling and interesting tale. Odd Thomas will face his final fears, his final foes, his final tests. A truly remarkable and interesting character, it seems almost a shame that it will all come to an end, but with Koontz, who knows? Sometimes endings are only beginnings in disguise. So save your nickels and dimes and invest them heavily into the future, because come December, when the cold winds blow and Christmas is winking at you from the near distance, the arc of a beloved character will be coming to a close. And there it is, lovely readers, the end to our stories of today. The Eye closes and must sleep, so it can

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!

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reviews mystery | suspense | horror

The Devil’s Woods Brian Moreland Thriller/Horror Heat Rating: 3

Fear wears many skins. Deep within the Canadian wilderness, people have been disappearing for over a century. There is a place the locals call “the Devil’s Woods”, but to speak of it will only bring the devil to your door. It is a place so evil that even animals avoid it. When their father’s expedition team goes missing, Kyle Elkheart and his brother and sister return to the abandoned Cree Indian reservation where they were born. Kyle can see ghosts that haunt the woods surrounding the village—and they seem to be trying to warn him. The search for their father will lead Kyle and his siblings to the dark heart of the

legendary forest, where their mission will quickly become a fight for survival. Review: The Devil’s Woods belongs to a subgenre of horror, that of the evil creatures/monsters in the wilderness chasing after an isolated group of people. Moreland’s book scares and makes us jump in the right places as it should. But it offers us more. You will find family conflict (including the search for an Indiana Jones-type archaeologist-father), a strong paranormal element, a love story flourishing under difficult circumstances, an exploration of Native American traditions, and a writer overcoming his block… Written in a direct style, with vivid descriptions that make you live the action, psychologically complex characters you get to care for and a good rhythm that never lets you off the hook. These elements confer the novel a wider appeal than just for the die-hard genre aficionados. In summary, this is a good novel that happens to be a horror book. | Reviewer: Olga Núñez Miret |

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feature

author interview

Bill Bitetti Bill Bitetti earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. Soon thereafter he traveled extensively throughout Europe earning a living as a professional model and actor. He has gone onto become a prosperous entrepreneur and an aspiring writer and poet.

What are you currently working on? Actually, I’m trying to popularize my most recent novel, Devilish Little Flying Machines. Most people are oblivious to the fact that the use of domestic drones is a grave threat to our society. Alas, I’ve found that it would probably be easier to climb Mount Everest in the nude, than to affect public opinion on this matter. If we, the people, lose our voice the government will keep on usurping our liberties, and ultimately use this new technological Trojan Horse for the purpose of surveillance and control. You’ll know it’s too late when the day comes that you wake up and look out the window to see a drone peering at you ... What is your advise for new and aspiring writers? To write for the sheer joy of self-expression, as I have done all my life. As far back as I can remember I have loved words, and the emotions they can evoke. The power of words is unparalleled in human history. Thus, I wanted to harvest that power and put it to good use. As Plato said: Those who tell the stories rule society. We do best when we do what we love. I have always loved, to tell stories, to let my imagination run wild. It makes me feel free, like a Stallion racing over the open plains. So, my advise to any aspiring writer is to love writing so much that nothing else matters. Don’t write stories with the hope of fame or fortune. Write from your heart, about things that move you to tears. As I’ve always said, if we have nothing we are willing to die for, we have nothing to live for.

Two brothers, Nicholas and Gordon St. James, become estranged following the death of their parents in a hit-and-run accident. Twenty years later, feeling betrayed after losing his fiancée to his best friend, and haunted by the loss of his parents, Nicholas falls into a deep depression. Meanwhile, on the other side of he country, Gordon is tormented by demons, obsessed with power, and consumed by his desire to control his wayward wife. Unwittingly, these two misguided men are destined to once again cross paths after the older brother, Gordon, becomes embroiled in a post 9/11-type attack that rocks the world, while an uninformed society sadly looks on in horror. Is the time soon approaching when this new technology will become a Pandora’s box full of unforeseen evils that cannot be undone?

BillBitetti.com September/October 2014 | 131


feature sneak peek

D. E. Ireland

Wouldn’t It Be Deadly Following her successful appearance at an Embassy Ball—where Eliza Doolittle won Professor Henry Higgins’ bet that he could pass off a Cockney flower girl as a duchess— Eliza becomes an assistant to his chief rival Emil Nepommuck. After Nepommuck publicly takes credit for transforming Eliza into a lady, an enraged Higgins submits proof to a London newspaper that Nepommuck is a fraud. When the Hungarian is found dead, Henry Higgins becomes Scotland Yard’s prime suspect. However, Eliza learns that most of Nepommuck’s pupils had a reason to murder their blackmailing teacher. As another suspect turns up dead and evidence goes missing, Eliza and Higgins realize the only way to clear his name is to discover which of Nepommuck’s many enemies is the real killer.

London 1913 The shadowy hallway seemed as black as the heart of Jack the Ripper. Eliza Doolittle paused at the top of the stairs. Why were the lights turned off on the second floor? Since there were no windows along the corridor, the housekeeping staff normally kept four electric lights burning. But all she could see before her was darkness. Although she had no idea where it was located, Eliza fumbled for the light switch. She cursed these newfangled devices. How was a soul to know what to do when the electricity went out? If she needed illumination when she lived in her old digs on Drury Lane, she reached for a gas lamp – assuming she had a penny for the meter. Now every building in London was awash in the dim glow of electric lights. Maybe the storm caused the lights to go out. Today’s weather was especially foul as thunderous rains and wild winds swept over the city. If she felt her way, she’d reach the room where she gave phonetics lessons. Her fingers brushed the flocked velvet wallpaper when she inched along the corridor. With her other hand, she grasped a heavy cloth sack weighted down with the tuning forks she used for her lessons. What a silly goose she was. For years Eliza wandered through alleyways darker than this, with murderous dodgers lurking in them. That’s what civilized living did to people – made them fear every sound. Put a Whitechapel girl among the gentry and she becomes as jumpy as a Brighton maiden aunt. After all, she wasn’t walking along the corridors of a Bethnell Green council house. This was fashionable – and 134 | btsemag.com

sedate – Belgrave Square. The distant ring of a telephone downstairs reminded her that she was far from alone in the building. Not only did a prestigious company of solicitors rent offices on the first floor, her employer Maestro Emil Nepommuck lived and gave lessons in the apartment directly across from her classroom. In fact, she could probably hear him moving about his rooms as he prepared for the arrival of his own students. Eliza stopped and listened. Not a sound. There wasn’t even the usual smell of Nepommuck’s Turkish cigarettes, which often permeated the whole second floor. Only the relentless pounding of rain on the roof broke the eerie silence…

D.E. Ireland is a team of award-winning authors, Meg Mims and Sharon Pisacreta. Long time friends, they collaborated on this unique mystery series based on George Bernard Shaw’s wonderfully witty 1912 play Pygmalion, using Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins as amateur sleuths, and adding new characters to flesh out events.

DeIreland.com


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Dark Shaman

Sean E. Thomas Thriller/Horror Heat Rating: 4

Most Alaskans have heard rumors of powerful ancient shamans. Dark Shaman turns that legend into a fast-paced murder mystery in which Alaska State Trooper Sergeant Robert Sable, along with help from the FBI, investigates the ritualistic deaths of school children. Rumors hint to an absurd idea that the children were slaughtered by AuktelchnÄŤk, a powerful evil shaman who somehow has been resurrected. As more bodies turn up, Sable and his partners try to find the connections between the victims and their killer by interrogating local rapists, pedophiles and sexual deviants. Someone begins killing off the suspects one by one. Is this a new killer, an irate parent or someone else? Along the way, Sable encounters a bevy of nasty characters who could only be found in Alaska. Review: Children in Alaska are being kidnapped and being murdered, found with their hearts ripped out of their chests. Native American children are being targeted leading the community to believe that an ancient evil has returned, and is killing their children. The local police, not willing to believe that the ‘boogieman’ is killing children, focus on pedophiles trying to find the killer before he kills again. As a warning Dark Shaman contains violence and a fair amount of pedophiles, along with situations that pedophiles are in. The pedophiles are not glorified in anyway; just enough is written that the message is received without crossing a line that made me stop reading the book. If you are sensitive you may want to read another book. Dark Shaman is a high action book, suspenseful from start to finish. | Reviewer: Brittany Hale |

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feature sneak peek

Patrick Royal

Shattered, Mind Shadows Book 1 The only thing that multi-published, award winning horror author, Tom Elliot, wanted was to move to the country for a change of scenery and relaxation, to a quiet part of southern Illinois. It seemed he’d picked out a wonderful spot, miles away from the closest neighbor and even farther away from civilization. Tom couldn’t write to save his soul. Weird thoughts trampled through his head and left him wondering if he’d made a mistake moving from Chicago. Could it have been that he ripped himself from his element, like his best friend, Michael Gully, had predicted? That he couldn’t answer yet. Words came and flowed like wildfire, but at what price? Tom’s imagination was getting the best of him and running rampant. The very characters that he created tormented him, driving him mad where he couldn’t distinguish fiction from reality.

A moan drifted from the next room and teased Tom’s ear. Stopping to listen, he struggled to figure out what he’d heard. He stepped slowly into the living room. A woman stood with her back toward him. His heart thudded fast. The woman moaned. Her long-fitted skirt hugged her hips, and a pleated white shirt. On the floor by her feet lay droplets of blood. Tom peeped around the woman’s 138 | btsemag.com


body and caught a glance of her face. “Lady, who are you? Why are you in my house?” he asked and widened his eyes. Tom still faced the woman’s back, and she wept a bit harder. “You should know why I’m here,” she said in a soft but shaky voice. She turned around, faced him, and quickly threw her arms out in front of her. Blood trickled and dripped onto the floor from deep slits across both wrists. In her hand she held a yellow hair ribbon. Tom’s jaw dropped open and he stumbled back, widening his view. “Oh my God. Wha…?” The woman stepped closer to him and held her arms out with her wounds still dripping blood. Her body projected forward, as if traveling in flash.

friend proved unable to offer any help. Hanging up, Tom sat at his desk more confused than ever. Am I losing my mind like Michael fears? He chuckled over his friend’s reaction when he told him that he planned to take a small break from writing. He had to admit that it even sounded strange to hear himself say it. Maybe, he was losing it. He had never really been scared of anything. Michael was the one that had always been scared and had nightmares over things that bothered him. What bothered him now was that he loved where he lived, but he hated the idea of being so far away from Michael. He had grown used to driving over to his house and discussing life’s little problems, and vice versa.

“You did this! You killed my daughter, and you made me what you see.” She shoved her bloody wrists toward Tom. “No, no. You’ve made a mistake,” Tom screamed and backed away from her. He clung to the wall with his legs weakening and his hands trembling. The woman stood and laughed hysterically. Tom squeezed his eyes shut. “You’re not real. You’re not real,” he screamed. Opening his eyes, the woman had disappeared, the room once again silent. Tom sank to his knees, sat on the floor, and leaned against the wall with a blank stare. Not long after the sun rose high in the sky, Tom’s nerves finally calmed. He called Michael, and it ended similar to the other times he called him for some well needed answers. His

Patrick Royal is a family man. Born in Virginia, raised in Northwest Indiana, he and his wife Lynette have resided in Western Kentucky for ten years. An avid reader of Stephen King. He’s inspired to use the gift God gave him to chill his readers. He’s also the author of Novels “Jacob’s Closet,” Sleep Stalker, and Mind Shadows: Book 1: Shattered.

WildChildPublishing.com September/October 2014 | 139


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

Burning Intensity Elizabeth Lapthorne Thriller/Horror Heat Rating: 4

El works for the Agency, fixing their toughest problems. James is a thief, and her ex lover. El is used to working through the messiest difficulties, but this might be too much for her to handle alone. Eleanor Williams and her partner, Robert Stevens, have been called in to ‘fix’ the slight problem of a stolen and now missing Cezanne painting. Used to being assigned the difficult problems El figures it’s another day at the office. Until she finds she needs an expert consultant. Someone used to the art world, and familiar with the criminal mind, that of a thief.

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A thief like her ex-lover—James Waters. Review: Burning Intensity by Elizabeth Lapthorne is a hot, steamy novel filled with intrigue. El and her partner Rob are spies working on finding a painting, a Cezanne. The novel begins with Rob and El grilling hardcore criminal Thaddeus, attempting to get a lead on the whereabouts of the painting. Thaddeus won’t bend and they are left looking elsewhere to find their answers. That’s where James, her ex-flame and man of her dreams, comes in. He is a professional thief with class and a big heart. The heat between El and James hasn’t diminished and fires back up upon seeing each other after several months of separation. The author’s writing style is conversational and addictive. Lapthorne does a first-class job weaving the thoughts, emotions, and animated descriptions of each character in the story giving them depth from page one. The novel moves with fluidity as spy scenes transform into passionate love scenes. She captures action, suspense and ecstasy in this exciting novel that is sure to keep the reader turning pages. Scintillating novel that I couldn’t put down. | Reviewer: Lisa Klaes |


reviews mystery | suspense | horror

The Mangled Spoon Joan Mauch Thriller/Horror Heat Rating: 3

Cello-playing psychiatrist Marcus Rukeyser has a problem: Miss Jane, his newest patient, is catatonic. Discovered foraging for food in a dumpster clutching a curiously damaged antique spoon, Rukeyser learns she’s connected to three dead or missing nuns from a prominent Chicago parish. With only two weeks until she’s committed to a state mental institution, authorities make it clear they’ll go to any lengths to prevent him from uncovering the ugly truth—including destroying his career, his home and potentially his life. Review: I was so into this storyline and then a few odd things started happening. First, the relationship between the main character and his wife. There is so much going on here that I just do not understand. I get being a woman I can be mad and then turn on a dime but there is usually an explanation, which I then explain to my husband (if he doesn’t already know). This however seemed really weird. Markus is dealing with a LOT of stress and his wife doesn’t support him in most of the book. And then she calls his patients names which totally threw me off. He’s a psychiatrist and they have a 15-year-old son. It’s not like he just started talking with patients. Instead of trying to talk to him she really pushes and pushes him and at a time when he is really trying to help a girl that is helpless. Nearly every part with her pissed me off. BUT! The beginning is really interesting. The characters even with questionable motives are also interesting. Maybe things could have been done differently but the way Joan Mauch wrote the book kept me on my toes and kept me wanting to read, even with all the questions in my mind. It was a lot to get over but I’m a curious person so I decided to stick with it. In short: Dramatic and sometimes just plain weird but all in all a really interesting read with a mystery that isn’t finished until the very end! | Reviewer: Christina Torretta | September/October 2014 | 141


stories short reads

by

Diana Rubino

BOG BODIES The man was lying on his side in the fetal position. His leathery bronzed skin cast a dull glow in the waning sunlight. Besides a brown leather cap and belt, he wore nothing. But he was hardly a nude sunbather out here in the peat bog with only two accessories to complement his birthday suit. He was a two-thousand-year-old corpse. “It’s uncanny. He looks like he could have died yesterday.” The archaeology student shook his head in wonder as his mentor, Professor Wilhelm Glob, and five students stared down at the perfectly preserved body. Professor Glob rose from his kneeling position at the edge of the shallow grave, swept his glasses off, and turned to the amazed students. Thrusting his hands deeper into his pockets to shield them

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| Bog Bodies | against the whipping Danish wind, he explained, “This is one of many, many young men. More than a hundred of these bodies have been found in peat bogs here in Tollund Fen as well as Northern Germany and the Netherlands. The peat stained him, and its ironbearing acids preserved him. Examination of nearby pollen tells us that these burials took place about two thousand years ago.” Geir Svenning stepped away from his fellow students, all tapping away on their tablets. He stood over the grave, his wiry blond hair flying in all directions, his zealous blue gaze fixed on the dead man’s placid expression. The head, embedded in the ground at a three-quarter profile, exposed heavy eyelids and a slim aquiline nose, and the lips parted to reveal yellowed teeth. Tufts of dusty hair sprinkled the thin skin stretched over the skull. The shoulders were hunched, and an exposed arm bone jutted from the remaining flesh at a right angle to the drawn-up knees. Geir anticipated the feel of the ancient flesh under his sensitive finger pads. “What are we going to do with him, Professor?” Geir dug into his pocket for his reliable roll of antacids. “Excavators from the National Museum are going to crate him and ship him off to Copenhagen to study him. With their permission, we’ll be able to audit the investigation and find out more about this mysterious old chap.” He snapped a few photos of the corpse with his cell phone. “Until they give him a proper name, we’ll call him Tollund Man.” At the Copenhagen museum, a team of archaeologists made another shattering discovery while examining Tollund Man. On removing a lump of

peat from beside the head, they found a leather noose pulled tightly around the man’s neck. As Geir and Professor Glob stood by observing, one astonished face met the other as the puzzle snapped together: Tollund Man had been strangled. Geir turned the page of his yellowing journal, twenty years to the day since he’d begun recording entries. 144 | btsemag.com

The feel of the leafy pages instantly brought him back to that day when he extended his right hand to touch the ancient brow. Surprisingly, it hadn’t felt like leather. It was hard and smooth, fossilized, like the sandals dating back to 1500 B.C. which he’d excavated from a vanished town in Northern Iraq. Returning to the journal, he reviewed his scrawled notes of Professor Glob’s lecture after they’d determined the reason of Tollund Man’s death: he had been quietly slain and offered to the gods at a Nordic pagan ritual. He could have been a priest, or simply a martyr, relinquishing his Earthly life for his survivors. His last meal, upon investigation of his digestive tract, had been grains and sunflower seeds, ingested to germinate and grow by the goddess’s journey through the spring landscape. Sunflower seeds! Geir marveled. Still intact and undigested after two thousand years! He shut his eyes as the image from twenty centuries ago appeared in his mind. “Geeeir!” His wife’s piercing shriek shattered his thoughts and sent him crashing back to Earth, to his life as an overworked archaeology professor and to his tragically unhappy marriage. Gudrun would undoubtedly demand that he carry out another menial chore: take out the trash or wash his coffee cup or walk the puppy before he “dirties” again. He found her lounging on the living room sofa, painting her fingernails a piercing blood red, a grotesque contrast to her bright orange tunic and canary yellow hair. “Make me a snack, dearie. I’ve been so busy all day shopping, standing in long lines, my shoes nearly choking my feet to death . . .” She stretched, extending her feet over the edge of the sofa. “Please, I’ll make it up to you . . . I’ll fix you dinner one night next week.” Geir wouldn’t have minded so much if she just wanted to lounge around the house, reading magazines and playing on the computer—eager to give her everything he could afford, he’d hired a maid and a cook. But all she’d produced in a decade and a half of marriage were two meals burned beyond recognition, on their first and tenth anniversaries. Her incessant demands and whining pleas for more money made her unbearable to live with. “Why not divorce her?” his colleagues, aware of his plight, repeatedly asked him. “Simple,” he would reply. “I cannot afford it.” He was in more than a rut—he was in a grave, a catacomb deep within Mother Earth from which no mortal man could escape—just like the sacrificial Tollund Man he’d examined twenty years ago, strangled, dumped into a grave, a sacrifice to the gods, a sacrifice, a sacrifice...


| Diana Rubino | The word whistled through his mind like a musical phrase as he poured a mixture of seeds and nuts into a bowl. How much would Gudrun really be willing to sacrifice? Would she ever sacrifice anything for this marriage... or for its merciful end? Professor Glob’s words echoed over two decades as Geir peered into the living room at Gudrun, now flipping through a fashion magazine. “Who killed this man two thousand years ago?” the professor had put the rhetorical question to the class, thirty eager junior archaeologists, each wanting to make that one discovery that would herald success. “Two thousand years and we’ll never know... we’ll never know... we’ll never know...” “We’ll never know,” Geir repeated Professor Glob’s words out loud, echoing the deep intrusive voice, the tone he always tried to emulate while lecturing his own students. Trying to still his trembling hands, he placed the bowl of seeds and nuts on the table in front of his wife. “What are you mumbling about?” Gudrun demanded, tossing the magazine aside and twisting the bottle cap closed as the pungent odor of nail polish dissolved into the air. “Nothing, nothing, you keep on doing . . . whatever it is... you do...” He exited the living room and headed for Gudrun’s walk-in closet. He snapped on the light and before his eyes appeared a wardrobe to rival a top fashion model. He scanned the array of colorful garments: flowered frocks, cashmere sweaters, leather trousers, all boasting designer labels. He saw a stack of hats about to topple from the shelf above, handbags every color of the rainbow hung from hooks on the far wall. Plastic compartments at his feet held enough footwear to shoe a family of centipedes. His eyes roamed a bit farther, to the opposite corner, where she stored her accessories. All genuine leather, nothing but the best. How many alligators, lambs and elks had sacrificed their hides to clothe Gudrun Svenning in elegant splendor? More shoes, belts, handbags studded and trimmed with gleaming gold hardware... he extended an arm and flipped through the leather straps, hanging from a revolving belt tree. The buckles tinkled gently as they clinked against one another, brown belts, red belts, so many belts... “No one will ever know.” “You’re right, Professor,” Geir replied to the twentyyear-old lament. “No one ever will.” His clicking heels echoed through the dark hall as he approached the research laboratory. Shining his flashlight on the lock, he inserted the key and pushed

open the heavy door. It groaned on its rusty hinges as he stepped inside, opened the glass case with a smaller key, and retrieved the one item he needed. Stuffing the item into his pocket, he replaced it with one of his own and shut the glass case. He then lifted a bottle of concentrated sulfuric acid off a high shelf, taking pains to ensure that the deadly liquid wouldn’t escape the rubber stopper. He popped an antacid into his mouth as he exited the lab, locked up, and returned to his car. He grasped her wrist between his thumb and forefinger to make sure she was dead. The ancient leather noose had nearly snapped but he’d pulled as tightly as his strength would allow as he watched his wife’s last breath depart the thrashing body. The lips paled to blue as color abandoned the cheeks, fading to a chalky marble. Another pagan ritual—however, a very modern one. He removed her clothes, tossing aside the silk housecoat, yanking the ermine slippers from the icy feet. The sun had swept the unruly strands from his forehead. “Well, she’s... she’s always had lots of clothes, you know... you know women...” he emitted a little chuckle. His odometer indicated he was fifty-six kilometers from Aarhus. He pulled over next to a peat bog similar to the one in which they’d found Tollund Man. He dug a four-foot grave and sprinkled pollen seeds around its edges. Working in the muted beams of his car’s headlamps, he flexed his gloved hands, dragged his wife’s body from the car and stained the skin brown with the peat. Arranging it into a fetal position, he dumped it into the grave, the noose tightly bound about the neck. He poured acid over the hands and face to emulate quick decomposition and obliterate her facial features and fingerprints. He shoveled the peat back into the grave. The simple ritual completed, he dashed back to his car, tossed the shovel into the back seat and drove away, munching on sunflower seeds. Now Gudrun belonged to the gods—a Tollund Woman. “Yes, Inspector, she’s been gone over two weeks. I bought her a train ticket to Copenhagen, just to get her out of the house... I’d been neglecting her terribly; I’d been so busy the last few weeks... Inspector Larsen nodded, chewing on his overgrown mustache with a busy lower lip. “Did you check with the Copenhagen police?” “Yes, several times, there’s been no sign of her.” He forced anguish into his tone and wrung his hands. The Inspector pushed past Geir towards the September/October 2014 | 145


| Bog Bodies | bedroom and scanned the area. Geir guided him over to Gudrun’s closet, flipped the switch and let the Inspector thumb through the clothes. His huge paws grabbed at dresses, jackets, and trousers. “She hasn’t taken much with her, has she?” The Inspector turned to Geir, still wringing his hands, trying to force tears. Geir fumbled for words, his hair falling into his eyes as he picked up Gudrun’s silver comb and swept the unruly strands from his forehead. “Well, she’s... she’s always had lots of clothes, you know... you know women...” he emitted a little chuckle. The Inspector didn’t join him. Instead, he turned and walked towards Gudrun’s vanity, exactly as she had left it. He contemplated the array of cosmetics with a speck of wonder in his eye. He scrutinized one item at a time, perusing the numerous bottles of nail polish: Copper Frost, Cosmic Crimson, Sky Blue Pink. “That’s some shade of red,” he commented on the Cosmic Crimson. He abandoned the nail polishes and studied the eye shadows, the face powders, all bearing descriptive shades: Tawny Peach, Barely Beige, Blushing Pink. “A woman who wears this much makeup shouldn’t be very hard to find,” he remarked. “She just had no reason to leave... none at all. We were so happy together,” Geir emphasized that last sentence. “She really had it made, huh?” One thick eyebrow shot up and disappeared under the shadow of the Inspector’s hat as he turned to exit Gudrun’s powder room. “She had just about everything a woman could want,” Geir insisted, shaking his head. “I miss her terribly.” “I’m sure you do.” The Inspector regarded the antique furnishings, the silk Turkish rug. After recording more information in his notepad, he assured Geir he’d be in touch and turned to leave. Geir saw him out and popped an antacid into his mouth. With a spark of déjà vu igniting his memory, Professor Geir Svenning answered a summons to the phone while lecturing...a body recently discovered near Aarhus... workmen cutting peat had found it... this was a female... similar to all the others . . . Would he like to see it? He saw Inspector Larsen at the site with several students peering into the grave, displaying wide-eyed gaping-mouthed astonishment. “What’s your opinion on this, Professor?” The Inspector greeted him, his finger on the button of a small digital recorder. Two students approached Geir and clicked on their recorders, thrusting them into his 146 | btsemag.com

face. “It’s... it’s another of the sacrificial pagans...” he began, only having glanced briefly into the three-yearold grave at the woman, the leather noose intact as the night he’d fastened it. “This woman lived during northern Europe’s Iron Age, at the beginning of the Christian era...” He concluded his statement with Professor Glob’s famous axiom: “But no one will ever know.” He added, chuckling, “Our good Inspector here was probably still walking the beat when this crime took place. You’re wasting your time trying to solve this case, sir. Leave this one to us archaeologists.” The Inspector motioned for the students to move on. They wandered away after one last glimpse into the grave, unable to conceal their shared grimaces and smirks. “It’s very interesting, Professor, thank you for enlightening us.” The Inspector held out a huge calloused hand and Geir took it. They shook. “You’re very welcome, Inspector. Now I must be going, I’ve got a class at eleven.” He smiled, taking his time turning and heading for his car, wiping the beads of sweat off his upper lip. “Just one last item, Professor Svenning.” The Inspector’s voice rang through his ears like the clap of the doomsday bell. “What is it?” He stopped and turned halfway, fighting to keep the tension out of his voice as his heart began to slam. “You’ve overlooked one minor detail in your cursory examination of this Iron Age woman, Professor. Two-thousand-year-old pagans did not put Cosmic Crimson polish on their toenails.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR I am the author of several historical novels set in England and the United States, two time travel romances, a vampire romance, and a fantasy romance which won the Romantic Times Top Pick award. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America and the Richard III Society. With my husband, I own an engineering business, CostPro, based in Cambridge. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play piano, and devour books of any genre. Visit www.dianarubino.com and DianaRubinoAuthor. blogspot.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ DianaRubinoAuthor.


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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

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 September/October 2014 | 147


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reading trends in young adult

Forever YOUNG Kellyann Zuzulo

The Retro Scream: Horror Novels Never Get Old What freaked me out the most when I was thirteen years old was the mere thought of something that I couldn’t see sneaking up on me. Something dangerous. Something malicious. Something evil. So, of course, I read those books . . . huddled in the corner of my bedroom, my back to the wall, a flashlight in my hand (because it was masochistically more fun to read these scary books in the dark.)

September/October 2014 | 149


| Forever Young |

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, The Shining by Stephen King, The Omen by David Seltzer, Jaws by Peter Benchley, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. And, yes, they meant the books for those first four choices . . . although the

I am happy to report that the many of the same gruesomely terrifying creations that haunted my thoughts and my footsteps continue to delightfully disable teens today. One of my personal faves was Jaws. And I read it in the summer. I was a kid who loved the ocean. I’d swim out farther than my folks would have liked and splash around. Then I read Jaws. I was enthralled and petrified. I had been out there in the big blue . . . with all the big fish. As I would back float on the surface, I would imagine what I looked like from below to a shark. A yummy seal! I still swim out far, but even after all these years, I can’t back float without imagining how I look to a shark, and every few minutes, I tread water and look around. But I try not to splash too much. Now, my daughters are the same. They loved the book, but apparently, the “thrill” of the ocean swim has taken on a whole new meaning. On the upside, they don’t swim out too far. Before beginning this column, I polled some young teens that I know about their favorite scary books. In the interest of full disclosure, I must report that I probably helped bias these young adults because books by R.L. Stine and stories by Edgar Allen Poe were in the bedtime library. But, really, what is more terrifying than our familiar fairy tales of princesses plagued by murderous hags (Sleeping Beauty; Snow White); children captured by flesh-eating neighbors (Hansel and Gretel); and a clueless teen locked in an attic, forced to work, and visited by a vengeful midget (Rumpelstiltskin). The answers to my anecdotal poll included:

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movies were horrifyingly well done, as well. Stephen King, the king of horror, continues to appeal to readers of all ages. And I dare you to hand a young adult reader a copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or Bram Stoker’s Dracula and make them read it . . . in a dark room. Despite the lingering screams of yesteryear, kids today are frightfully aware of where the contemporary scares are between the pages. Pretty Little Liars was also mentioned in my informal poll. That series only flew to television popularity because it was, first and foremost, a bestselling series of books about a secret kept by hip teens in Rosewood, Pennsylvania. The series is not categorically horror; however, it is the suspenseful sense of something or someone unseen watching the girls that gives readers the shivers. No matter what the title, there is one thing that never changes in what young adults read for fun frights. The element of psychological fear—narrative that creates that chill down the back of your neck—is the common element in all of the best horror novels. While there often are supernatural or science fiction factors at work, scary stories would fall flat if not for the changes that occur in the characters. They are altered by their odysseys, shifted by their situations, changed by their encounters. What better way to capture young adult readers? Teens are going through possibly the biggest changes of their lives— physically, psychologically, socially—and can relate to the frustrations and mortifications inherent in, say, discovering that your major new high school crush is a vampire (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer) or that your new potential boyfriend is a zombie (Warm Bodies by Isaac


| Kellyann Zuzulo |

Marion). Zombies are probably the top rage in young adult books these days. And despite the chomping jaws and flaking flesh, the race to survive is what is most gripping. Readers, especially young adults, imagine themselves dodging, hiding, and innovating ways to destroy their pursuers or, at least, evade them until help arrives. They say, “What would I do?” The question fuels their imaginations and their shivers. That sense that death is imminent and that only a clever solution will save the protagonist from doom keeps readers reading those scary novels. Yet, sometimes, even speed and agility can’t save you. You’ll need to get to the last page to find out. If you’re in the market for a good fright, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Goodreads has an excellent list of “Young Adult Horror Books.” Another website, Snappy Pixels, has synthesized their list to “22 of the Best Young Adult Horror Books to Read for Halloween.”

Boo!

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

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reviews young adult | new adult

Win The Rings K.D. Van Brunt Young Adult Heat Rating: 2

The Army’s most valuable weapon is…kids—kids who are special, lethal. Jace is one. But the Army doesn’t control all special kids. Gray got away, and he’s spent sixteen years in hiding. Now, the Army has found out about Gray, and Jace is sent to hunt him down, but Jace isn’t the only one. She has competition, and they’re after her to. A desperate chase ensues, as Jace must decide whether the enemy of my enemy might be my friend. Review: Amazing! Win the Rings, by Mr. Van Brunt was an exhilarating, fast paced, action packed novel that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. The cover is gorgeous and begs: Who is the intense girl on the cover? Well, let me tell you! Her name is Jace, and she is government property, and she is not to be messed with. Jace is one of the strongest female leads that I’ve read in a long time. I loved her. Jace is a shifter, and at the age of 5, was taken from her family and whisked away into a government/US Army training facility called CRACKED. It was absolutely heart wrenching to read Jace reflect on all she’d lost and how very different her future may’ve been had she not become government property only to be trained and used as weapon. I loved that regardless of the wretched training she’s endured during her tenure at CRACKED, Jace can still relate with how life should’ve been. Her humanity remains intact. And then things get interesting as we’re introduced to Gray, another shifter on the run, with his nonshifter sister, Nia. Gray was humble, sweet, and loved his sister. All of Gray’s characteristics made him an easy character to empathize with and provided a nice dynamic between him and Jace as they are two very different characters. The story is told from alternating view points and wraps up beautifully at the end with Jace and Gray meeting and a shocking cliffhanger that makes me scream: I need book 2 NOW!

Tortured Souls

Kimber Leigh Wheaton Young Adult Heat Rating: 2

Kacie sees ghosts—and it’s ruining her life. Her mother left, her father blames her, and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t keep the ghosts away. Nightly visions of grisly murders and a relentless predator draw her to the brink of insanity. Kacie can’t ignore the tortured souls crying for help. But can she banish this powerful phantom, or will Kacie lose not only her body, but her eternal soul to the monster. Review: Tortured Souls was amazing from page one clear through The End! Instantly, the reader is introduced to Kacie, a strong female lead who also happens to see ghosts, that in mind, the book was super creepy in places that made me scared to get off my couch. You know the writing is good when you believe ghosts could be waiting around the corner. The romantic element in this novel was just right. In the very first pages, Kacie’s crush, Logan, saves her from a phantom they both can see and the action just begins there and never stops. I loved Logan. With him and Kacie combined, the romantic tension was written beautifully. I was captivated by The Orion Circle, reading about their mission, how they engage on the field, and how Kacie fit into it all. Tortured Souls, book 1 in The Orion Circle, is a wonderful start to a new YA series that offers much to fans of supernatural, suspense, and things that go bump in the night. I will certainly be on the lookout for book 2. | Reviewer Sasha Hibbs |

| Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs | September/October 2014 | 153


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Shelby Hailstone Lady Thief

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. Between her anger toward him for ruining her reputation and his growing affection for her cover identity, she is drowning in emotions she has never dealt with before. But when evidence points to a rival criminal messing with the team, can the Lady Thief walk away with a clear conscience, or will she risk everything to help the very people sworn to bring her in?

With ten minutes to kill before reaching my destination, I turned the jet’s television on. After I hit the “power” button, I ducked into the bathroom to grab my hairbrush so I could tuck a particularly unruly bit of hair into my braid. When I returned, I saw that idiot, Kittie Starr, on the news. The reporters, who obviously could find nothing better to do with their lives, decided to host a discussion about the actress’s disappearance and life outside of the movie screen. I groaned; could I last for five minutes without that annoying Kittie Starr invading my life? I stayed in the bathroom to braid my hair, wanting to avoid the television screen at all costs—in hindsight, I realized simply turning off the television would help my cause so much more, but I left the remote outside the bathroom—but I ended up sticking my face out the door anyway. As much

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as I hated Kittie Starr, I also loved the way reporters could tear down celebrities like her. Maybe they would complain about her constant absences; she deserved some bad press, for once. No such luck. Instead, they started talking about all her successes, the different movies she starred in, and the different scientific papers she wrote. “I’m sure we’re all thinking the same thing when we see this girl. How can one person do all that, right?” laughed one of the reporters. She took a sip of coffee through her stretched-thin lips; I wondered if her face even moved anymore after all those treatments. “Lots of time management and spa treatments,” the other reporter smiled. “And you’re not the only one impressed by all this, either.” They showed a clip of a talk show Kittie appeared on months ago. Kittie wore a ridiculous, overly decorated outfit with elbow-length gloves and several layers of fabric that looked like it belonged on some fairy tale character instead of an actress. She wore beads in her hair, and her earrings dangled almost to her shoulder. Even her pants had layers. She wore a light shade of blue for the lower layer, with a darker shade of purple for the top layer that started just above her knee and flared at the bottom to cover her sandals. Overly dressed, indeed. What happened to jeans and a T-shirt? The first part of the clip showed Kittie talking all about her busy life and schedule, which I essentially ignored. Why should I care when Kittie woke up and brushed her teeth? But when the host asked Kittie about life as the public face


reviews young adult | new adult

of the Lady Thief, I peeked my head out of the bathroom once more. She responded in a semi-intelligent-sounding imitation of a politician, talking about how she enjoyed her role but did not lose herself in it, as most actresses do. It sounded like she wanted to reassure her viewers that she did not condone the Lady Thief’s actions. Of course, even Kittie Starr worried about the all-powerful public, the people who would stop watching her shows if she enjoyed her role too much. I heard her piercing, high voice from across the plane as I finished braiding my long hair all the way to the small of my back. “Do I think I’m like the Lady Thief? Of course not. The woman is too serious. I have too much fun in life for her.” “Still, anything? At all? I mean, after immersing yourself in a character like that, don’t you start to see similarities?” the hostess pressed, hoping, as I hoped, to find something wrong with the perfect Kittie Starr. “Well,” Kittie said, crossing her legs and leaning back, “I think we definitely share the same drive to succeed, to get the job done. I truly believe I’m starting to understand her after all the research I’ve done on her.” I snorted and turned off the television. Kittie? Knowing me? Right. I rolled my eyes and grabbed my helmet, wishing I had not turned on the television at all. Now I would be thinking about the stupid interview instead of focusing on the mission. I folded my braid up into a black bandana, pulled on my helmet, and stepped into my boots, ready at last. I enjoyed the velvety touch of the gloves on my hands again—warm and soft, with padding around the fingers. I spent so much time collecting information that I forgot what my suit felt like. When I first pulled it on, I shivered; after sitting in my closet for so long, the suit material cooled down significantly. But it felt wonderful, all the same. And of course, I took the precautions that I neglected when I ran into Devon ten months ago. That time, I had not upgraded my helmet to be bulletproof, and when a trigger-happy pirate took advantage of that hole in my defenses, that mistake allowed him to see my face. No mistakes this time. No mistakes. The door opened, and the sudden gust of wind brought tears to my eyes, even behind the helmet. This came almost too easily to me, and I donned my parachute casually, not at all afraid of the fall ahead of me. Why would I fear something that exhilarated me? I wanted to take off my helmet when I jumped out, to feel the wind in my hair and on my face. But I could not take the risk, in case they placed hidden cameras in the area. The rush of dropping thousands of feet would suffice for now. I used to do this all the time; even before I took on the Lady

Thief identity, I sought out these kinds of thrills. But lately, those thrills diminished. Most of my recent jobs came to me from New York City, and in that crazy place, I never did much skydiving. Mostly ground work. I relished the feeling in my stomach that always preceded these dives, and a slow, soft smile crept across my face without my permission. I opened the parachute at the last second, allowing my feet to graze the treetops. My parachute caught in the branches, and the jungle animals scattered. Pieces of the parachute ripped and stuck onto the branches, an obvious sign of my presence. No problem; I wanted to leave evidence behind. For the first time in my career, I wanted them to know my position—that way, they would worry about the Lady Thief and call for backup. After all, I knew I would always remain one step ahead, even if they did know when I arrived. I fought Aaron and his crew before, and I knew I could handle them without any problems. This particular team could not quench my thirst for a challenge. Except maybe Devon, but I would deal with that when the time came. I slipped out of the parachute and dropped to the ground, and then I took the parachute down out of the trees and folded it up, stowing it away under some bushes for them to find. Before I moved even ten feet from the bush, though, I decided to hide it somewhere less obvious. So I buried it in some loose dirt, just in case. Aaron already suspected foul play; I did not want to give him any other material to feed his frenzied paranoia. Shelby M. Hailstone has been writing since she was in elementary school. She grew up in Georgia surrounded by a supporting and wonderful family and great friends that she tormented with draft after draft all through high school and into college. Currently she is attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where she is on track to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Editing.

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A.L. Jackson

Come to Me Softly From the New York Times bestselling author of Come to Me Quietly comes a scorching new adult romance in the Closer to You series. A second chance at life… A second chance at love… Jared Holt never thought he deserved either—until he found both in the arms of Aly Moore. Aly has loved Jared for as long as she can remember, and she’s more than ready for the new family they’re making together. But Jared can’t help remembering his own family. And he’ll never forgive himself for what happened to them. How can he allow himself the very happiness he once destroyed? To live a life worthy of Aly, Jared knows he has to stop running and finally put his past to rest. But when he decides to face his demons head on, he encounters more than he bargained for: a dangerous mix of jealousy, lies, and dishonest intentions. When those intentions threaten Aly and their baby, Jared loses all control, giving into the rage that earned him his bad boy reputation years before. And he’ll fight to protect her no matter what it costs…even if he destroys himself in the process.

“Jared was rough. Hard. The defined angles of his jaw were coated in coarse hair, and turbulence swam in the depths of his ice blue eyes. But he was holding me as if he’d just been granted a gift, like I was the most fragile kind of treasure that he would guard with his life. There was something secure and strong and incredibly gentle in his hold. Even as damaged as I knew he was, this gorgeous man was my perfection. Almost on instinct, my fingers crawled up his narrow waist to the place where a haunting depiction of my eyes had been etched into his skin. The most intense green stared out from between two wilted petals on the dying rose sealed on the center of his chest. That rose had always seemed a beacon to me. A key. I’d been undone when I found he’d made me a permanent part of it. Like the moment that had defined him had defined me, too.

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And now he’d allowed me to become part of his definition. Still, I hurt for him because I understood this broken man. Last night we’d lain awake for hours in the quiet, me in his arms while he stared at the ceiling and let all the revelations of the day seep into his consciousness. He’d murmured into my hair that he’d never be good enough for me, even though he’d spend his life trying to be. He told me it was so much easier admitting he loved me than accepting that I loved him. I knew he still felt unworthy of love. Yet I loved him with all my life. That love was enough to crush me.” A.L. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of Take This Regret and Lost to You, as well as other contemporary romance titles, including Come to Me Quietly, Come to Me Softly, Pulled, When We Collide, and If Forever Comes.

AlJacksonAuthor.com


reviews young adult | new adult

Malice

Sophie Harris Young Adult Heat Rating: 4

After three years in prison, Emma has nearly given up. She’s been accused of a crime that she didn’t commit, but no one believes her. Her best friend was murdered, and Emma took the fall. But much to her surprise, she is granted a second chance to prove herself to the world. She sets out, determined to prove her innocence and catch her friend’s killer. Who was behind this setup? What forces were working against her? Unfortunately for Emma, nothing could prepare her for the events that are about to unfold. Review: Malice by Sophie Harris is an excitement laden introspective read. Emma is in the psych ward for killing her best friend... only she didn’t do it. Every convict says that right? Except she really didn’t do it. Her best friend Lily was fighting cancer and she left her alone for only a few minutes to come back and find her dead body. Emma’s psychologist Ms. Rand readily recognizes Emma’s innocence but is powerless to do anything about it. The consequences of saying she is sane might place her in a jail cell instead of psych ward. Ms. Rand adores Emma and can’t stand by and watch her convicted of a crime she didn’t do. She takes it upon herself to break her out and assist her in solving the mystery of who really killed Lily. Along the journey of solving the crime a jumble of plot and character twists invade the story making Malice a truly compelling novel. Every detail of the story leads to the unexpected climax. While in the institution, Ema gets weekly letter, no name, no address from an individual who believes she is innocent. The town she grew up in is full of adopted children, including Emma. The author finds a way to tie the adopted, the institution and Emma’s biological mom into a chilling page turner. Masterful, gripping, suspenseful!!

The Watcher Lisa Voisin Young Adult Heat Rating: 3

TMillennia ago, he fell from heaven for her. Can he face her without falling again? Mia Crawford is drawn to a mysterious new guy at her school and discovers a past life of forbidden love, jealousy and revenge that tore an angel from Heaven and sent her to an early grave. Does she have a chance at loving that angel again? Or will an age-old nemesis destroy them both? Ancient history is only the beginning. Review: The Watcher by Lisa Voisin was thrilling, achingly beautiful and heart pounding! Filled with Angels and Demons, The Watcher takes the reader on an action packed thrill ride from beginning to end. The leading female of this novel, Mia, finds herself caught between today and past lives. When she meets Michael, he evokes feelings in her that over the course of the novel, Mia realizes go very deep. When Michael is conflicted between doing what is right and wrong, Mia is kind of driven into the arms of the “bad boy”. Ah….a love triangle. It makes for an intense read and keeps readers cheering long into the night. The author did an incredible job with the descriptive writing in The Watcher. I felt like I was there, that I could see what was transpiring right in front of me. Overall, I thought The Watcher was an intense, age-old love story with twisted myths turned into a fresh and thrilling read. | Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs |

| Reviewer: Lisa Klaes |

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Quinn Loftis

Into the Fae

Prologue

“It has been said that with great power comes great responsibility and that is true. However, what should have been added to that saying was that with great responsibility must come even greater self-control. For those with great power often seem to lack the power of self-control. Not that I have any such difficulty.” ~Perizada of the Fae

I am over three thousand years old, yes I am aware I look amazing. I have seen civilizations rise and then crumble like sand beneath the evening tide. I have watched kings be exalted on their thrones, only to be ripped down and trampled upon as the next great name is being written over the fallen. I myself have fought in battles and felt the warm spray of my enemy’s blood upon my face as I cut them down. I have laughed in the face of danger, danced on the edge of death with the warlocks, played chicken with the wolves, riddled with the pixies, and yet, the thing I fear most does not come

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at the end of a sword. The thing I fear most comes at the will of another. It is not something I can force, it is not something I can change, and it is not something I can control. So, in short, I don’t like it. At this point you might be asking yourself who I am and why anything I say matters. Well listen up and listen good because I’ll only say this once. Don’t bother to point out to me that you can come back to these pages and read it over again, it will only piss me off, and the last thing anyone needs is a member of the high fae pissed off at them. I am Perizada, a member of the council of the high fae. I was chosen long ago by the Great Luna, the creator of the werewolves in case you were wondering, to be an ambassador if you will—between the fae and the wolves. You see, the fae are the most powerful of all the supernatural beings. Therefore, the Great Luna saw fit to make us the overseers and law enforcers of the supernatural world. I did as the Great Luna asked and became the go between for the Wolves and the council of high fae. As time passed, the werewolves’ vulnerabilities as a species, their tendencies toward divisiveness territorialism, began to weaken the packs. In an effort to aid the wolves, the Great Luna, in her infinite wisdom, presented the packs with a gift—gypsy healers. These are humans with an affinity for healing magic. So it was that a gypsy healer was chosen from the tribes of gypsies and given to each pack. It was then that the Great Luna decided that it would be best if the high fae were assigned a certain number of packs and healers to oversee. I was given the packs in the region of Romania. At one time they were divided into two packs but after the werewolf wars, the two became one and now are under the rule of one great Alpha, Vasile Lupei. That is how I came to be the liaison to the Romanian pack. But that is not really where this story begins, for that we must go back a little further. Now I will condense this as much as possible to bring you up to speed so that you don’t feel the need to stab yourself in the eye out of boredom. Before the great werewolf wars, there was a powerful fae,

With peace finally descending on the Romanian Grey Wolves, longtime fae ambassador to the wolves, Perizada, has been given a new mission by the Great Luna. But Peri’s desire for revenge against her sister, Lorelle, burns in her heart. Further complicating matters, the great white wolf, Lucian Lupei, has been returned to the pack after centuries trapped in the Dark Forest, and it appears he is destined to be with Peri. Can she put aside her thoughts of vengeance long enough to accept Lucian’s love and complete her mission?


the most powerful in fact. His name was Volcan. His power— and lust for more of it—became an obsession. Unbeknownst to the high council, he began to create witches with his dark magic and began releasing them into the human population. Once the council found out, we knew he had to be stopped. A desperate battle was fought between Volcan and an alliance of wolves and fae. Volcan’s castle was raided, and at the cost of many lives, he was defeated. If this story were a movie then that would be the end, the happily ever after for the wolves and fae alike, but alas real life often sucks sour lemons. The happily ever after’s never come or if they do it is at too high a price. Unfortunately somehow evil continues to rule in the hearts of those who think they are superior to everyone else. Volcan’s evil had permeated the dark forest so completely that it had to be sealed off, and the knowledge of it blocked from the minds of those who had been involved in the battle.forward. For my part, which this is about me so really the most important information you need right now is my juicy details. When we sealed the dark forest, we unknowingly imprisoned a pack member of the Romanian wolves and not just any pack member. We unknowingly confined none other than Lucian, Vasile’s brother. For centuries he lived in darkness, surrounded by malevolent magic that has no place in the fae realm. Now, ages later circumstances, horrible circumstances mind you, that involved my own sister trying to kill me, for which she will pay, led to his release. Now I am not begrudging Lucian of that, far from it. I am however disturbed, rattled beyond anything I have faced before, and let me tell you I have faced things your puny minds cannot even begin to fathom, because upon his release and thanks to the Great Luna and her bloody love-fest, the wolves are able to find true mates with the fae and you guessed it― yours truly is the true mate to one Lucian Lupei. In the words of the great John McClain, Yippee Ki Yay, Mother--, and I’ll stop there lest someone get their panties in wad. So now that you’re up to speed, for the most part, I suppose we can get this party started. Things are going to be moving fast so if you need to get some beauty rest before you start this journey with me, I suggest you do that right about now. But if you’re ready and you think you got what it takes to keep up with me, then keep reading, (insert creepy voice), my pretties. We have a psycho bitch fae to catch, a mate to deter, and lives to save. There is no time for dilly dallying or wishy washy pansy ass whining. If you’re in this with me, then you are in it ‘til the end. And the first one of you that cracks a joke about the whole being mated to a werewolf thing will be farting out of their mouth every time they hear the word gas and burping laughs for the rest of their stinky, noisy existence. As my good friend Jen would say, let’s do this. Okay she would say him, but we’re going to go with this in an effort to keep things rated PG.

Chapter 1 “There’s so much noise, so much life and light and chaos. For so long I have been trapped in silence, surrounded by death and darkness. Even though I’m now surrounded by all this light, I find that all I want is her. In the midst of all the reunions, there is only one my soul cries out for, but she is the only one who won’t let me near.” ~Lucian “I’m tired, Costin,” she whispered to him. “Lay down, Sally mine. I’m here with you.” Peri watched helplessly as the little healer lay on the ground, her breaths growing shallower by the second. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t get to her no matter how she tried. She was pleading with the Great Luna not to let this light be taken from the world, but her only answer was the final breath that rattled from Sally’s lungs. “She shouldn’t have done that,” she heard herself say as she stared at Sally’s still form. “Not for me.” These young ones had no idea how old she was, how long she had lived and how many lives she had spent. They couldn’t comprehend fifty years, let alone thousands. She had screamed at Sally to stop, to not put the pill in her mouth and just like the bloody wolves were apt to do, the healer had ignored her wishes. And now she was dead, taken from this world much too early in her young life and it was Peri’s fault. As she watched Costin wrap his arms around his mate, tears stained his face and pain that Peri knew she’d never experience, wracked his body.

Quinn is an award winning author who lives in beautiful Western Arkansas with her husband, son. She is the author of twelve novels, including the USA Today bestseller, Fate and Fury .

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reviews young adult | new adult

Destiny

Jennifer Gibson Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Jessie is determined not to let her hearing loss hold her back. She aims her sights even higher as she ventures in a new direction. With a Black Belt on the horizon, and so close to achieving it, she is unaware of the danger closing in on her. Until one day, everything suddenly changes and she finds herself standing on the precipice of life. Will she be strong enough to hold on or will she succumb to the darkness that surrounds her? Review: Destiny is the third installment in a series surrounding the life of a girl named Jessie. This is her coming-of-age story. Being a huge fan of YA paranormal novels, Destiny was a nice change of pace for my reading tastes. The story focuses on real life issues and I applaud the author tremendously for tackling issues such as bullying and how a teenager can persevere instead of giving up. Jessie deals with being deaf and the novel lets the reader travel along her journey. Destiny reminded me of what a struggle it is for teenagers and then to throw in a curve ball and have the main character be deaf…it was very real for me and enticed me to genuinely applaud and cheer for Jessie, wanting so desperately for Jessie to not let her hearing loss stand in the way of her dreams. Destiny was an inspiring read that kept me engaged all the way through. I felt invested in Jessie’s future and was left satisfied by the author’s conclusion to this series. | Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs |

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An Alien Collective Roxanne Barbour Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Cyn wakes up to find herself stranded on an alien planet. She finds seven other teenaged humans and they are as confused as she is. To Cyn’s delight, and some apprehension, twenty-four aliens (all teens on their own planets) have also been deposited: eight Temman, eight Irandi, eight Reannone. Every day, supplies and instructions are delivered to their village for pickup by the managing committee—which consists of Cyn, Stire, Frakis A Kirba, and Tine Jana—one representative from each race. Review: An Alien Collective was an enjoyable read! The synopsis of the story really captures the essence of the story and so we find our leading lady, Cyn, waking up on an alien planet where she is faced with having to communicate and work alongside other aliens from various planets to accomplish a specific task formulated by their captors. I loved the way the author incorporated how various walks of life can come together under the right circumstances. It was enjoyable to discover the plot twist of the main characters purpose in being abducted along with the other supporting characters. This is a story of alliances and love with a wonderful science fiction theme that would appeal to all lovers of YA/SCI-FY. | Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs |


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Minno

James Barlog Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

It isn’t easy being 13 ... And being raised by your grandfather ... and having a name like Minno ... and then having to journey through a strange land to rescue your parents. But Minno is doing the best she can. For all her young life Minno believed her parents were dead. Then she learns they’re alive, but they’re in grave danger. Her friend Hailey thought she was having a sleepover at her friend’s house. Now she’s Minno’s ally and partner on their incredible quest.

Review: Minno is a fast-paced magical read filled with adventure. Believing that her parents are dead, Minno finds out otherwise, setting the stage for her journey, one packed with new creatures, a new world, and a new friendship. I enjoyed reading the friendship building between Hailey and Minno and how it was put to the test. There were laughable moments which only added to the enjoyment of the book, drawing me further into Minno’s new world. The world created by the author was unique, and vibrant. Most impressive for this reader, was the cast of creatures dreamt up by the author. I felt like I was in Wonderland! Readers of all ages who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and magical realms would enjoy Minno, but those looking for a great young reader, Minno is a sure bet. | Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs |

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reviews young adult | new adult

The Dark Hour J.F. Jenkins Young Adult Heat Rating: 1

Becca Simpson is a not so average teenager, and she knows it. In fact, she embraces it. She was cho-sen to be a Keeper, one who keeps the gates sealed between the magic world and the “normal” world. The only time she isn’t safe from the dark creatures of the Other Side is the Dark Hour. Every night, at the same time, the gates between the two worlds open and Becca is left vulnerable until the gate closes and the minions disappear. But that’s why she has Erik Manchester. Review: The Dark Hour is a great start to a YA series, The

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Keeper Series. I loved that the author jumped right into the story with Becca, the leading heroine, as a Keeper. Right from the very first pages the reader is introduced to a wonderful lineup of characters, including Becca’s protector, Erik. I loved the concept of this story. It was a buffet of creativity: Keepers (those who protect the gate from this world to the magical world), Guardian’s (those who protect the Keepers during their vulnerable period: the Dark Hour), the emperor, magical creatures from the Other Side…There’s so much going on, the action jumps right off the pages and pulls you in. I liked that Kyne introduces new possibilities to Becca. It made for some tough decision making. The ending wrapped up with a cliffhanger setting the stage for book two. Overall, fans of YA with a supernatural twist will really enjoy The Dark Hour. | Reviewer: Sasha Hibbs |


reviews young adult | new adult

The Last Virgin Alive Stephanie Crosby Young Adult Heat Rating: 2

It’s ‘s a Romantic Suspense novel about a girl’s first year of college. she is going through family drama that she went to college away from her home state; she feels rejected because she is still a virgin. Review: The Last Virgin Alive by Stephanie Crosby is an introspective novel about a young girl Symphony who has low self esteem. She was teased in highschool and called a monster and is convinced that she is one. Her mother died when Symphony was younger and she lived with her father and sister until she left them and went to college in Chicago. In college, she meets a nice young man who truly cares for her but she can’t seem to believe his love is real, always falling back on, “I’m a monster”.Symphony’s family is dysfunctional which feeds her insecurities. Her sister Michelle blames her for their mother’s death even though she died of illness. Michelle’s hatred and despair has driven her down the wrong path and she turned to drugs. Symphony doesn’t seem convinced that her father cares for her. Death can be a difficult to deal with; Stephanie did a great job with the destruction a family may undertake after the death of a loved one. Crosby shined as an author in the unrelenting feelings of loss but had difficulty with building character and climax. She spent too many repetitive words on Symphony’s pity party and not enough giving the reader detail to the senses. Where she used words to describe Symphony’s thoughts she could have brought in depth to her person. I wanted to feel for her inner drama but needed something to give me a sense of who she is outside her monster bubble. There were few descriptions amongst the dialogue to know the characters facial expressions or descriptions of their surroundings. This story was decent but dry | Reviewer: Lisa Klaes |

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feature an interview

Alex Bledsoe HE DRANK, AND SAW THE SPIDER

Interviewed by Danita Minnis

While Alex Bledsoe’s fans come in droves for the sword and sorcery tales he spins, they stay for the realistic worlds he creates in his novels. Read one of Alex’s urban fantasies and commune with gritty characters in a world that very much seems like home. A background as a reporter, editor, photography and even vacuum cleaner salesman only adds to the hard-edged humor in Alex Bledsoe’s novels. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and three children.

Alex, your latest installment of the Eddie LaCrosse series He Drank, and Saw the Spider delivers the fantasy-fest your fans can’t get enough of. Who or what inspired you to create Eddie LaCrosse and his humorous misadventures? I first started thinking about this character back in high school. I wanted to have a fantasy hero who wasn’t an idealistic boy like Frodo or Luke Skywalker, but who also wasn’t the wise old sage: a guy who had some mileage on him, but was still in his prime. There weren’t a lot of those back then, though thankfully they’re more common now. My initial template was Tom Skerritt’s Captain Dallas in the original “Alien”: I loved his low-key, and ultimately doomed, heroics. In fact, in my head, that’s who Eddie looks like. You began the magical world of the Tufa clan with The Hum and The Shiver. In 2013, you took us back to those haunting Smoky Mountains in Wisp of a Thing. Wilderness is an intriguing setting in your stories and used to maximize psychological games. Does the wilderness hold an otherworldly quality for you? I grew up in a tiny Tennessee town, so “wilderness” was never more than a hundred yards away in any direction. I spent my childhood catching frogs, lizards and snakes. That’s a kind of tactile, hands-on relationship with nature that many kids (including my own, alas) can’t get when they live in town. Sure, you can take them to a park, but it’s not the same as walking out your own back door and startling a black racer snake so that it shoots away along the foundation line. And that’s the paradox of “wilderness” for me; it’s both entirely mundane, something I’ve touched with my own hands, and simultaneously mysterious, grand and magical. When you see a thick stand of trees, you can make an educated 166 | btsemag.com

guess about the plants and animals you’d find there. At the same time, the presence of faeries, gnomes, trolls and nymphs doesn’t seem entirely out of the question, either. “Wilderness” is big enough to accommodate all of them. You have worked as an editor and a reporter, which may potentially be stylistic opposites. During the creative process does the reporter in you help in thinking out of the box when writing? Does the editor shut him down? They work pretty well together. The reporter does the first draft, which gets the idea out and provides the raw material, and the editor does everything after that. Sometimes they overlap, but it’s seldom a problem. I will say that it’s LOADS more fun being the editor than the reporter. Beginning with 2009’s Blood Grove, you explore the seedy side of Tennessee’s nightlife, vampire style. Let’s talk Baron Rudolfo Vladimir Zginski in Girls with Games of Blood, the follow-up to Blood Grove. Baron Zginski is gritty and humorous. He has a certain appeal and is quite human for a vampire. What inspired this excessive vampire? I wanted to have a vampire who was compelling and interesting, but also scary—you know, like Dracula, or, before him, Varney and Carmilla. They haven’t really been scary since Anne Rice came along in 1976, which is one reason I set both novels in 1975. I deliberately took the surface tropes of Dracula—old world Eastern Europe origin, royal title, power over other vampires—then tweaked them a bit, making him at heart more a


con man than a nobleman, giving him historically accurate misogynistic and racist attitudes, then forcing him to address all that if he wants to survive in the 70s. With a body of work that includes swords and sorcery, vampires and ancient clans, you take us on mixed-genre adventures that readers can’t resist. What is the one thing you haven’t yet explored with your writing that you are excited to share? Oh, man, I can’t pick one. I have tons of ideas I’d work on if I had more time. I’d like to do a pure, balls-out horror novel. I touched on it a bit with my two vampire novels, but they were ultimately (to me, at least) about other things. I have an idea for one, and I’ve written about 200 pages, but I can only work on it when I have down time from other projects, which (thankfully) I haven’t had much of lately. I’d also like to do a western with dinosaurs, a kind of tribute to The Valley of Gwangi, my favorite childhood movie. And I’ve toyed around with a kind of Southern Gothic autobiographical thriller, but I haven’t done much actual work on it. Finally, I’d like to do a superhero novel, which I have an idea for, but not much else. And I have a great title for a zombie novel, but no plot.

AlexBledsoe.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

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BTS Book Reviews September/October 2014  

Your Guide to Great Reading - Featuring New York Times Bestselling author Dianne Duvall, plus columns, book reviews, featured authors, and m...

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