Page 1

ISSUE 32 | March 2019

from the

editor’s desk

Welcome to Issue 32, March 2019 - Uncaged Book Reviews! Our Feature Authors this month are Isobel Blackthorn, Katherine Wyvern, L. Salt, James Murphy, Tabetha Waite, M.A. Jewell, Lacee Hightower, Barbara M. Britton and Megan Morgan.

FangFreakinTastic is also bringing us a feature with author Valerie Willis We have part one of a short story this month from Myrtle Brooks, called Just Some Time Away. We have plenty of reviews for you to look over from Uncaged, Fang-Freakin-Tastic, Myra’s Horror Blog Amy’s Bookshelf & Jen’s Reviews.

advertise in the magazine and support the Uncaged mission to promote authors. Tier 2 review submissions in Uncaged are now open to new submissions. Because of an ongoing backlog, books that are reviewed for feature authors will be placed in the Uncaged review section of the magazine, and although the author needs to be willing to allow Uncaged to review a book to become featured, the review is not a requirement within the feature itself. This is to attempt to clear up the long review submission lists.

All inquiries: or Some changes to Uncaged for 2019 are already in effect, so stay tuned as improvements are made all year long. Until next month - keep reading! ~Cyrene

Thanks to all the affiliates for the wonderful devotion to reading. Uncaged is now in a review collaboration with Aurora Publicity. Uncaged and Aurora reviewers will review for Uncaged and you’ll see more Aurora author’s books being reviewed through Uncaged. Authors can now submit a Short Story, and in return, I’ll give space for either a full page ad, or a 1-page Sneak Peek of a book for an approved story. You can read more about that here. The Featured Authors that are promoted in Uncaged, is a FREE service to authors. The only requirements being that Uncaged has read at least one of the author’s books, (can be read right before the feature) and that I ask that the authors share the magazine with their networks. Read about that HERE. Uncaged is supported through advertising, both in the magazine, and on the site. Please see the Advertising tab on the site for more information on how you can 2|

2 5 84 90 94 98 102

Editor’s Desk Blog Roll Call Uncaged Reviews Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Jen’s Reviews

contents 10



Issue 32 | March 2019
















MeganMorgan shortstory



49 Just Some Time Away, Pt. 1

Myrtle Brooks

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


2019 Promotion Special “Buy 2, Get 1� *Buy $40 worth of advertising for the magazine, get a FREE Standard Full Page ad the following month FREE. For example: Buy an Inside Cover, Premium or Splash ad in January, get a Standard Full Page ad in February FREE. Buy a Standard Full Size Ad two months in a row, get the third month FREE. *This does not include Half Page ads or website advertising. This promotion is open-ended and will stay in effect for 2019.

Blog Roll Call

Contributors, Advertising Swaps

Follow Uncaged on Facebook

Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.

A blog for horror fans. Uncaged review contributors.

A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.

Help for authors and businesses.

If you’d like your banner here, please email me at Issue 32 | March 2019 |


upcomingconventions Apollycon March 21-24, 2019 Washington, D.C.

Virginia Festival of the Book March 20-24, Charlottesville, VA

Southwest Florida Reading Festival March 2, Ft Myers, FL

Dayton Book Expo April 27, Dayton, OH

Southern Kentucky Book Fest April 26-27, Bowling Green, KY

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books April 13-14, Los Angeles, CA

Southwest Florida Reading Festival March 2, Ft Myers, FL

6| |

Dayton Book Expo April 27, Dayton, OH php?st=Ohio#Dayton+Book+Expo

Join our team! Reviewer Bonuses! Become a reviewer for Uncaged and be entered in a drawing each month for a chance to win a $30 first draw bonus, or a $20 second draw bonus! For each accepted review turned in, you will receive an entry ticket! It’s that easy. The more you read, the more tickets you receive! Rules: 1) Uncaged will supply the book 2) Turn in an acceptable review 3) Receive an entry in the raffle bonus 4) Payout is PayPal only, sorry no conversions. Join our team!

feature authors

thriller | crime | historical science fiction

Isobel Blackthorn

James Murphy

L. Salt

feature author Iobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of original fiction across a range of genres, including psychological thrillers, gripping mysteries, captivating travel fiction and hilarious dark satire. Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel, The Unlikely Occultist. Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Many of her novels are set on the islands, including The Drago Tree, which was released in 2015 and is now in Spanish translation, Clarissa’s Warning and A Matter of Latitude. These novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction, and the novels are as much stories about the islands themselves as they are straight-ahead entertainment. Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. Some of her writing is dark, like the psychological thriller, Twerk, which is based on six years of research and firsthand accounts of dancers working in what are euphemistically called gentlemen’s clubs. A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives near Melbourne, Australia.

10 |

Please welcome Isobel Blackthorn Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about your latest release, Twerk? Thanks for having me! Twerk started out as flash fiction after I asked my daughter to talk me through a lap dance. She had been dancing at a strip club for a couple of years by then and the stories she would tell me on the phone on her way home from work – she called me to keep herself awake – were hilarious, outrageous and sometimes alarming. In its original form, Twerk was published in 2016 in a literary journal in the UK. By then I had a lot of material to base a novel on, but no plot. Another year went by before I finally arrived at a way of telling the Twerk story. I wanted to write something gritty and noir, but also provocative and steamy. If you are going to set a story in a strip club, it might as well be all those things. Otherwise, what could the story possibly be? With Twerk I wanted to both really entertain and give an insight into what it can be like to dance in a club. I wanted to write from the dancer’s point of view. I created Lana, a fly-in fly-out stripper studying law in the other Las Vegas, in New Mexico. And her best friend, Amber, a sheep ranchers’ daughter from Montana. The two are opposites in many ways, but they are very close. I had a lot of fun with the hot paramedic, who turns up at the club when a regular dies having a lap dance.

In Twerk, I tell the reality of dancing as it is, as it was told to me by my daughter, but I do play with stereotypes a bit. Ultimately, Twerk sets out to shock. It starts out delicious and then takes readers on a descent. Just when you think things could not get any worse, they will. Does Twerk have a happy ending? Not saying! I can say it is set in Las Vegas, in the seedy side of the city. Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about? Coming out in May is my short story, ‘Lacquer’ which will appear in A Time for Violence: Stories with an Edge, an anthology edited by Andy Rausch and Chris Roy. This anthology contains stories from Richard Chizmar and Joe R. Landsdale among many others. I am honored to find myself in such fine company and thrilled to have had a chance to explore the dark side again. ‘Lacquer’ features a world-weary, whisky guzzling private investigator who stumbles on a body in an alley outside a jazz bar. Who is she? Jim Morrison really doesn’t know or care

but he’s coerced into finding out. ‘Lacquer’ will be the first chapter in a new work a hard-boiled noir crime-thriller set in San Francisco in the 1980s, so far. I am not sure where I am taking this one but I do know it will be very dark with a steamy side. I visited San Francisco earlier this year and even though the city has been gentrified you can feel the pulse of the underbelly, the dark and gritty history in the streets. I want to capture that vibe, but I am drawn to other places, too, other countries maybe. I never know where a story will end up when I am incubating the ideas, but I have a strong sense I am heading to Asia. Uncaged: You are a crusader and humanitarian, can you tell readers more about The Ghana Link and what it’s accomplished? The Ghana Link is very close to my heart. Back in 1999, when I had just started my first teaching post at a high school in England, I stumbled on a project run by Oxfam linking schools and communities along the Greenwich Meridian, or zero degrees longitude. The line cuts through France and Spain and heads down through West Africa. I studied a map and picked Ghana, because that was where my first boyfriend was born so I had heard a lot about the country. Things took off from there. Most school links end up being pen pal exchanges. I had bigger ambitions. I sourced fundIssue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | ing for a teacher exchange project involving the creation of a garden in each school to commemorate the link. I figured if we built gardens, then the link would have real physical foundations and grow from that. Gardens are a permanent symbol of commitment. I was also determined that the link would be built out of friendship and a strong sense of equality and respect, and not charity. The school in Ghana was situated in a poor, rural and remote area. People were getting by living off the land but that was all. It would have been easy to slip into a charity-centered model. My headmaster backed me all the way and before long the link grew and grew. Teacher exchanges, student exchanges and myriad curriculum development projects – the Ghana Link impacted every member of each school community and beyond. It now provides a model for others to follow. I left the school and the link in 2002, in the capable hands of my successor who kept the link going and went on to forge links with schools in China and India. Much of the success of the link is down to her. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? It is so hard to gauge what works and what doesn’t. I think the podcasts I have been doing for Twerk have been great. They are always available to listen to and can be shared and shared. They certainly help reach much larger audiences. I also did an interview for Pop Horror magazine and of course I love Uncaged! I think continually getting your name out there is important. Readers who might think about trying out a new author or book need to see that face or cover again and again. It is a competitive marketplace. One million books were published last year in the USA alone. How is anyone other than celebrities ever going to get known with so much competition? That said, I think the least successful marketing is a book blast. Even with all the effort on the part of the bloggers and all the sharing that goes on, there is little evidence of success in terms of new readers 12 |

or sales. That said, it all helps, one way or another and it is good to see all those urls appear in searches. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? Most of the feedback I get about my books concerns the way readers relate to the setting and characters. I am always struck by the deep emotional engagement many have with my writing and the way readers identify with the characters and analyze them as though they were real people. It always surprises me and I feel a little nervous because you cannot ever really know how anyone will react to the characters you are creating. It is a huge relief to find that someone is totally convinced and you realize you have pulled it off. Storytellers are magicians. We create imaginary realities for readers to live in. When a reader moves into that reality and finds themselves fully immersed and then tells you, well, there really is no higher praise than that. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? I am always writing. The only time I am not writing is when I am on holiday. I leave my writing at home and off I go, preferably overseas. My favorite places are deserts. Not all deserts. I love mountainous deserts. You sure have some great examples in the States! In January, I spent time in the Valley of Fire, a state park in the Nevada desert north of Las Vegas, and I did not want to leave. I would happily have wandered off on my own and found a place to sit where there was no other human around. There is something haunting and deeply spiritual about the place. The silence and stillness are captivating. The Valley of Fire is my top pick at present. It is a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. My other favorite places are rugged coastlines where the waves crash against rocks. Who doesn’t love that! Sometimes, when the mood takes me, I watch Youtube videos of the largest waves ever filmed. Stuff like that. Not the same as being there, but still exhilarating. I guess when I take a break from writing I want to be still and stare at nature.

| ISOBEL BLACKTHORN | Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I am an esotericist, a qualified astrologer and esoteric thinker. I suppose that means I have a special way of seeing into things, life, people. I hold a PhD for my ground-breaking study of the teachings of Alice A. Bailey, who was the mother of the New Age movement and is a pet hate of conspiracy theorists. I have written a biographical novel about Alice Bailey, called The Unlikely Occultist, which was recently published. I find the occult and occultists fascinating and always have. Otherwise, I suppose I am fairly normal. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you for supporting me and my writing! Thank you for buying and reading my books! I promise to keep writing. Even on my down days when I think it is not worth the effort, I know there is nothing else I would rather be doing with my time. People can follow me by subscribing to my mailing list via my website. That is the very best way to keep up to date with my news of releases, discounts, freebies and public appearances. Otherwise, I am on all social media sites.

Enjoy an excerpt from Twerk Twerk Isobel Blackthorn Psychological Thriller A regular Sunday night in a Las Vegas strip club is rocked when a local oddball dies mysteriously, during his private dance. Amber falls immediately in lust with the hot paramedic who arrives, and follows him outside, anticipating sizzling romance. But, her casual encounter quickly descends into a terrifying, twisted nightmare from which she is

unable to escape. Five days later, and it’s Lana’s next shift at the club; she’s a fly-in-fly-out stripper paying her way through law school - she’s also Amber’s best friend. Where is Amber? And what about the dead client? Was it an accident? Suicide? Or murder? Finding neither the police, nor the club are taking much interest, Lana conducts her own inquiries, even though she finds herself the victim of a social-media hate campaign, and an ex-boyfriend who is sending her death threats. She’s desperate to uncover the truth about the death, but the person she most needs to speak to is Amber, who has failed to show up for her shift yet again... Lana is thrust into a web of lies and deceptions she is determined to unravel, in which everyone is a suspect. Excerpt Paco Rabanne? She leans back against the pole, hard metal cold on her skin. Yeah, Paco Rabanne. She poses, pirouette style, in her high, high heels and skimpy lingerie. Or Armani maybe. She isn’t sure. Whatever it is the douche in the Tom Ford suit must have taken a bath in it. She slides her butt down, nice and slow for him, pictures his face. Holding the squat, legs splayed, she marks time with the music – one, two, three, and pushes upright. Warrant’s Jani Lane whoops to a backbeat; Cherry Pie – sweet. It’s like muzak in a shopping mall, she’s sure she heard it in Wal-Mart the other week. She tilts her hips, eyes the guy in the chair, now with a noticeable bulge in his Tom Ford suit. She arches her back, rolls her pelvis forward, undulates her belly, and lets the movement flow up her lithe body. The guy with the suit bulge stares. It’s a Zombie stare. Not a talker then. Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | A steady bass throbs through the space, making the air swell and contract. She sways effortlessly to the beat, snaps off her bra and gives the slow reveal, putting on her best lip-parted pout. His hands grip the arm rests exactly where she’d left them. “No touching,” she’d told him. He would obey. His whisky glass, mobile, billfold and keys are on a small table beside him. He’s boosted. They are almost always boosted. Yet he’s nervous, and guilty with it too. Wears his guilt in fat band of gold wrapped around his ring finger. There’s gold all about him; fingers, wrists, neck. Probably in his teeth, she’d hazard a guess. What’s his name? Could be a Gary. Or a Larry. Or a Harry. But it’s Frank. Yeah, Frank. Good ‘ole Frank. She takes a step forward. Slips off her G-string, lets it fall. He ogles her flesh. She really doesn’t care. She really doesn’t care about Zombie Frank, all fancied up in his expensive Tom Ford suit. She’s indifferent. To his heat. To his stink. To his gold-ringed finger. To his vulgar and obvious crotch bulge. The song ends, the next beginning on its tail: Bruno Mars, That’s What I Like, as if Swanky Frankie was ever gonna get it. She wonders what Amy in the next booth is up to with her douchebag, Billy. Another forward step in her high, high heels and she kneels on the chair, hooking her feet on the insides of his thighs, to press them open. No closure. No contact. As she gyrates her pelvis. As she teases. 14 |

As she strokes at the air down there between her thighs and his. She goes in close, breathes in his ear. And takes a peek at her watch, its huge silvery face as large as her wrist, its distinct numbering illuminated in the dim light of the booth. Three. She leans away from Frank-en-bulge, arches her back, grasps her sweat-dampened breasts, and rubs them against his cheeks. She thinks she still has half a protein bar out the back. Maybe some of last night’s stir-fry. Or did she finish that earlier? The song pushes on. Her pelvis grinds to the rhythm. She leans forward, rests her arm against the cold brick wall behind him, sinks her flesh into his face, ignoring the hungry lips, the scratch of stubble. Swanky Frankie lets out a slow, throaty moan. She parts the velvet curtain and peeks into the next booth. Amy’s on her guy. They exchange eye rolls and a grin. She lets the curtain fall. Lets her mind drift. The song seems far too long. Her butt, locked in the stomping groove, starts complaining. She feels a cramp in her instep. She eases her body back and pushes off of Frank. He grabs her waist with his hot damp hands and pulls her down. She swings round. Backhands his face. He’s stung. She steps forward, grabs the pole, twirls round slowly. Twirls round slowly again. As Bruno Mars approaches his sudden end, she turns from the guy – swanky Frank-en-bulge – and sits down in his lap. She leans against him, feels the hard of his pencil-dick up against her butt, his breath hot on her bare shoulder. She throws her head back, grabs hold of her breasts and puts on a show of faked self-pleasure. He releases a slow rumbling groan. She thinks he sounds like a bloated frog.

| ISOBEL BLACKTHORN | Feels her laughter rise. He’s satisfied. She slides off him. Peeks into the other booth. Amy’s still on hers. She’s grinding the air above his crotch. Her head’s thrown back in fake ecstasy. He should be in ecstasy too, but his body just jerks in short, twitchy spasms. That’s no orgasm. He’s convulsing. Does Amy even know? There’s white foam leaking from the corners of her

guy’s mouth. His eyes stare straight ahead, bulging like they’re being squeezed out of him from the inside. Amy tilts her head forward for effect and locks her gaze with his. First there’s disbelief. Then her mouth falls open. She emits a curdling scream. She’s off him, like the Devil himself is on her ass.

Issue 32 | March 2019 |



feature author A visit to a medium and a well-timed word from his wife led west Belfast man, James Murphy, the confidence to get writing. And, he’s never looked back since... With his début novel, The Rise of Terror, now in its second print run his second book is nearing publication. Based around the primary school building James attended the ‘Terror’ is a trilogy of novels based around a fictional private detective agency, Farset Investigations. But unlike many tried and repetitive crime fiction yarns James has created an intricate web, including amongst the principal characters a medium. When a family friend persuaded James to visit a medium he received a message telling him to knuckle down to writing. That happened around the same time when an offhand comment to his wife, Heather, about being able to write better than the book he was reading had her tell him plain and straight to stop talking about it and do it! The 41-year-old saw The Rise of Terror published as he turned 40, a welcome birthday present and the motivation to keep working at his writing.

The Queen’s University graduate went on after gaining his degree in English to qualify as a teacher of English at the Institute of Education, London.

With a family and a career that has seen James take on roles such as Head of Department and School Principal getting the time to write hasn’t always been easy – especially when inspiration, in his own words, can pop into your head at four in the morning and you just have to open the computer. A firm believer in researching his work James is set to release ‘I Am Terror’ in 2018.

18 |

Uncaged welcomes James Murphy Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about your book, The Rise of Terror? The Novel is my debut as a writer and is the first of a trilogy. It centres around an emerging serial killer who has taken the alter-ego, Terror, the newly formed Farset Investigations, and it’s proprietor, Mark Shaw, whose Uncle was believed to be one of Terror’s first victims. The story tracks the development of both characters in their newly created roles as the hunter and the hunted as Shaw searches for justice. Throw in the complications and twists created by two cult movements crossing the paths of our hero and anti-hero respectively, the formation of an investigative team comprised of a former school principal, a psychic medium and a former DCI of Merseyside Police, and a building that is not all that it seems, and you have what I hope is an exciting piece of Ulster Noir with a twist. Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about? I have two big projects keeping me busy at the moment. Firstly, I have recently completed the second book in the Terror series, “The Terror Within” and I’m now gearing up with preparations for its launch on 13th April 2019. I’m also currently working as Education Director of the Northern Ireland Festival of Writing. This is the first Writing Festival of its kind in Northern Ireland and aims to engage with, empower and educate writers to be the best that they can be. Our inaugural festival

takes place throughout the month of April at venues in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. Uncaged: You’ve said that a visit to a Medium sparked your inspiration for this novel, what was it about the visit that encouraged your writing? Prior to the visit, I had been stuck in a bit of a rut with my reading choices, favouring a bestselling author who’s books in my view were starting to go off the boil a little. I do have to say that I remain a super fan of They Who Shall Not Be Named as not only did they return to form, but without them I would not be a writer. I complained to my wife as I was reading one night that I was beginning to think I could do better myself. With that a gauntlet was thrown down, though I didn’t really take it seriously. Around the same time, I had become preoccupied with the fate of my former Primary School. It had long been closed and was falling into a level of disrepair and decay that saddened me as I drove past it each week. The visit to the Medium who has since become a good friend and the inspiration for one of the characters in the book, crystallised my thinking when I received a message from my parents via the Medium, that it was time to stop faffing around and get the book started. The rest was history. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? I think that the best marketing that I did was to concentrate on building a social media platform and use it as

a springboard to other types of promotion, such as TV and Radio interviews. The least successful thing for me was my decision to initially self publish. I knew I had a good story but lacked the knowledge and skills to turn it into a marketable product, which is why I will be forever grateful to Excalibur Press for believing in the story and in me as a writer, and publishing the second edition. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? That they had to pull a sickie from work once they had started reading the book. As it turns out, they became so engrossed that they stayed up most of the night to finish it. Needless to say, I was delighted but obviously would not condone such behaviour lol. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? When I’m not writing, family time is what is most important to me. My wife Heather and I have a soon to be 7 year old daughter, Bella and family life is busy but enjoyable. We’re lucky in that Bella has taken on a lot of our interests so we can involve her in many of the things that we enjoy, hobbies such as cooking, going to the cinema, music and following our favourite football times. When possible, we like to spend time on the beautiful Antrim Coast, which is quite near to where we live. When Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | it comes to a favourite place on earth though, it would be hard to overlook St Brelade’s Bay in Jersey, one of our favourite holiday destinations. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I suppose that the most unique thing about me relates to my career outside writing. At the age of 28 I became the Principal of a Post Primary School, a job which I did for more than 10 years. It was unusual to be offered, let alone accept a job like that whilst still so young and relatively inexperienced. So now, as friends and colleagues are aspiring to reach such a career pinnacle, I’m doing the opposite, in scaling back my responsibilities to concentrate on my family time and writing career. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? The main thing that I would like to say is a huge thank you. Publishing a debut novel is a daunting task but to have so many people say such nice things about your work and to hear that people are eagerly waiting for book two to be released is very humbling and an absolute joy. Their patience will be rewarded on 13th April 2019 when “The Terror Within” is released and I hope that it meets and exceeds their expectations.

20 |

Enjoy an excerpt from The Rise of Terror The Rise of Terror James Murphy Crime/Suspense The quest for justice throws private detective Mark Shaw straight into the path of the deadly cult leader Terror. When Shaw’s uncle’s death went unresolved Shaw inherits Farset Investigations and vows to bring the killer to justice. The hunt takes the west Belfast man into the sights of two worldwide murderous organisations. His life, his family and his team are all at risk, but there is no turning back The self-proclaimed, Terror, alter-ego of Belfast Chronicle reporter, Caleb Doyle, has vowed to rid the world of people who he has deemed are #famousforallthewrongreasons. His worldwide following, is all too willing to do his will. The Prophet, global leader of The Enlightenment Movement, has total and absolute control of his acolytes. He will stop at nothing to retain his power, the great wealth he has amassed and to cover up the many crimes and misdemeanours of those who act in his name, with a trail of blood, bribery and corruption in their wake. Excerpt Having taken a taxi directly from John Lennon International Airport, Terror now found himself waiting in the impressive Reception Area of the newly redeveloped Majestic Hotel Liverpool. If his intelligence was correct, the man he was here to meet was a creature of habit who had opulent tastes and the need for discretion, so this location would be a natural choice

| JAMES MURPHY | for him. The man, Owen Grant was a Belfast born TV and Radio presenter, who after achieving success in his home Province, was now plying his trade UK wide to a high degree of success. As he sat watching the comings and goings of the beautifully designed, yet understated Reception Area, Terror allowed himself to relish in the thoughts of a murder that he had so meticulously planned. His experience of Grant was that of a second rate journalist who enjoyed the fame and reputation of taking on the Political and Celebrity heavy-weights and winning. The general public and even many of his opponents, seemed to be charmed by the man of the people persona that he presented. The thirty something, working class hero, whose selfmocking references to his gangly figure and his reluctance to truly leave the nest of his now elderly parents endeared him to them. Terror was not fooled. The movement of an approaching taxi outside snapped Terror back to reality. He watched as Grant struggled out of the taxi with his luggage and paid the driver. As he entered the hotel and moved toward the Reception desk, Terror nodded subtly and smiled at him. He knew that Grant was very publicly guarded about his sexuality. He also, as a journalist himself knew that there were a number of injunctions in place, preventing any media outlet from, ‘outing’ him. Terror was aware that his chiselled features and the way his tailored suit moulded itself around his athletic frame, may catch the attention of Grant and it looked like he was right. As Grant picked up his room key, Terror moved quickly toward him. ‘Excuse Me Sir, I hope you don’t mind me asking but are you Owen Grant’? his dialect betraying his own Belfast roots. ‘Yes, I am’ replied Grant somewhat shyly. ‘I’m a huge fan of your work,’ gushed Terror, ‘would you mind giving a short interview for the folk back home?’ Mr Grant was about to become part of a Media sensation that would elevate his fame much more than he could ever have hoped. 2 Bemoaning the fact that yet again she had caught the graveyard shift, the Majestic Hotel’s newest recruit, Junior Receptionist, Jessica Miller began to update the

social profile of the hotel. Just as she had logged on to the Majestic’s Twitter account a new post came in from the account of Owen Grant. She gasped in horror as her eyes locked on the picture of the naked and dead body of Owen Grant, posed upon the bed of the room that her colleague had checked him into earlier. Around the body were strewn, a number of cards advertising male escort agencies and on the left thigh, in what looked like black sharpie pen, was scrawled, #famousforallthewrongreasons. Beside the picture, the post read, #theriseofterror #themajestichotel #theowengrant #famousforallthewrongreasons. From his clearly less lavishly appointed room in the budget city centre hotel, Terror delighted himself in watching the 24 hour television news coverage reporting on his handiwork. Outwardly he appeared relaxed, nursing a heavy tumbler containing equal quantities of vodka and coke over ice, whilst sprawled across the luridly patterned and dated bed clothing. Inside however, he was buzzing. Having had his fill of indulging in the televised media frenzy surrounding the death of Owen Grant, he was now consumed in thoughts of his own genius in executing his plan so efficiently, right down to using Grants smartphone to publicise the murder via the media personality’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. These thoughts gave way to his replaying the killing in his mind. He relished in the fear in Grant’s eyes as he realised that what he had thought would be a casual dalliance was to be something much more sinister. Relish progressed to sheer elation as the fear in Grant turned to despair, then finally acceptance before Terror released his stranglehold of the now lifeless body. Drifting back to consciousness of the room around him, Terror began to feel weary from the night’s events. He drained his glass before turning off the TV and setting the alarm on his iPhone. All too soon he would be flying back to Northern Ireland to his cubicle at the Belfast Chronicle, to fill pages of saccharine laced copy on the, ‘tragic murder,’ of Ulster’s own Owen Grant. At least he had a headline in mind already. THE RISE OF TERROR. Issue 32 | March 2019 |


feature author L. Salt is a multi-genre writer from the UK. She studied History of World Culture and did Master’s Degree in Art Expertise at the St. Petersburg University of Culture and Arts. She was born in Belarus and has lived for many years in Ukraine and Russia, then finally settled down in the North of England, where she currently lives with her husband. L’s interest in writing dates back to her teenage years. Apart from creative writing, she has a passion for travelling, arts, history, and foreign languages. Her debut novella “His Personal Reich” was release in April 2018 by Crazy Ink Publication. Her novel “The Ways We Follow”, a futuristic urban drama was released on in May 2018 by Wild Dreams Publishing. Her second novella, a thriller/mystery story “Legacy of the Iron Eagle” will come out 24th of February. Her short stories appeared in different anthologies and magazines, both on-line and in print.

Uncaged welcomes L. Salt Uncaged: By the time this interview publishes, your newest book, Legacy of the Iron Eagle will release. Can you tell readers more about this book? “Legacy of the Iron Eagle” is a thriller/mystery novella with some elements of history and suspense. It’s a story about a common guy, Philip Rutkowski, a son of a Polish immigrant who lives a pretty boring life in London and doesn’t know much about real history of his family. It’s a story about self-discovery, about good guys turning to the dark side, but first of all, about the ability to fight your own demons, the ability to resist evil... I love history of World War II. This dramatic period of history still leaves more questions than answers for historians and researchers, and continues to tease imagination of authors with its theories and conspiracies. This is my second novella dedicated to this subject. Uncaged: You write in multiple genres, but what is your favorite genre to read and write?

24 |

At the moment, I’d say it’s speculative history, thrillers, mystery, and suspense. I love everything history-related and I love a hook or an intrigue in a book, both to read and to write. Uncaged: How did you begin your writing journey? I started to write at school, at the age of 12-13. I wrote a sci-fi series about time travel and another dimensions. I had a massive, about ten-year-long, gap in my writing career, but I started to write again in 2014 when I moved from Russia to the UK. I’ve been writing ever since. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? I use Facebook groups and other bloggers’ pages/blogs to advertise my new and upcoming releases, information about sales, giving interviews, etc. My publishers push really hard to get my works out there, using their own channels as well. I’m not sure about the least successful marketing. I’m still learning and trying different

techniques. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? One of my readers has made me a compliment by saying that after reading my book “His Personal Reich”, the plot still had been “playing” in her head till the end of the night like a movie. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? Apart from writing, I have passion for history, travel, arts, and languages. Of course, I read a lot. I’ve never been outside Europe, but there are so many amazing places there. My top favourites at the moment are Rome, Prague, Iceland, and Montenegro, and of course, St. Petesrburg where I’ve lived for more than ten years before I moved to the UK. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | unique about you? It’s difficult to tell about yourself, you know. I think my background is unique. I’m a bilingual writer. I was born in Belarus and lived many years in Ukraine and Russia. I speak fluent Russian, I understand a bit of Ukrainian, I also know a bit of French and Hebrew. I believe my experience of living in different countries and my belonging to diffent cultures make my writing unique. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you for reading this interview. I hope you’ve discovered a new author to follow and a couple of new titles to read. I’d be glad to see you following me on my social media. Enjoy an excerpt from Legacy of the Iron Eagle Legacy of the Iron Eagle L. Salt SciFi/Historical Fantasy London, 2010 Philip Rutkowski, a son of a Polish immigrant, “enjoys” all the benefits of big city life—a boring, routine office job, the everyday long commute, a massive mortgage, and rare nights out with a few friends. Everything changes for Philip, when his colleague and best friend, David Zilberschlag, gives him a vintage mirror to help his friend to decorate his newly-bought apartment. The mirror belonged to David’s deceased granddad, a 26 |

Holocaust’s survivor, who believed that the mirror hides some dark secrets from the past. Both friends don’t believe in old man’s “fairy tales”, but when Philip continues to see visions of a German SS-officer in the mirror who tries to talk to him, he has nothing to do, but to try to find the answers to the questions he doesn’t know. The investigation leads the two friends to a tiny town of San Augustine del Agua, hidden deeply in the woods of Misiones Province (Argentina). There, they meet Claudia Alvarez and her friendly grandparents, the proud members of a huge German community. Eager to find out the truth behind the mirror, lost in the woods full of evil and possessed by his visions, Philip slides deeply into madness. When Claudia does everything to help him, her own life starts to crumble, revealing secrets that her family prefers to hide, whereas David is more concerned about his own benefits. It seems this time evil is about to win… Excerpt The humming sounds of falling water had surrounded him; it sounded like a lullaby. He had found himself standing on a steep, rocky cliff, staring at the dark waters without a movement. No doubt, he was in the wood, and the falling mass of water in front of him must’ve been the waterfall. The lullaby had stopped abruptly, the sky flashed and coloured in all shades of scarlet-red. It was a tree in front of him. The more he stared at it, the more it seemed to him the tree’s mighty, thick branches had been changing their shape and finally… Oh, my God! It’s a… The branches swirled slowly, creating an easily-recognizable symbol—a massive, about five metres large, swastika. His stomach had cringed with spasm. He was out of breath; his lungs were ready to explode as if the icy waters of the waterfall had filled them up. He screamed, and the next second, the giant swastika caught fire. The thirsty flames had been licking the branches, illuminating an unknown landscape. He wanted to run, but stood rooted to the spot. It

| L. SALT | seemed to him the flaming symbol had started to swirl, pulsating and growing bigger and bigger every second. He had screamed again, but this time, his scream echoed all around him. The next second, everything disappeared. He had been standing in an unknown spacious room. All colours were blurry and faded, as if he had been watching an old-fashioned video—a heavy crystal candelabra hanged from the high ceiling, wooden panels on the floor and on the walls… Oh, what is it on the floor? It looks like…stains of fresh blood… A tall-case clock in the far corner had chimed two o’clock, interrupting his thoughts. He had turned around, when he noticed a familiar object on the opposite wall—the mirror…his mirror. He had taken a few steps closer. The crystal candelabra, the clock, the wide beige sofa—the mirror reflected everything, everything apart from him. It’s a dream… Of course, it’s a weird, nightmarish vision, Philip had realised finally. He shot a glance at the mirror again, but it had changed. The glass became dark, almost black; it didn’t reflect anything at all. And then…the familiar figure dressed in the SS-uniform had appeared. Philip wasn’t afraid, but rather curious. The man’s quiet, deep voice resounded from the walls and the high ceiling, but the figure hadn’t opened his mouth. He was speaking German, but surprisingly this time, his words sounded familiar to Philip. He didn’t know the language, and yet, he knew what the man had tried to tell him. ‘Listen to the voids in the sound of humming waters.’ These words had surrounded Philip, whispering in his ears and filling up the whole space of the room. And then, they had stopped by a thud. Something had been dropped on the wooden floor. A ring? Philip picked up the object. When he turned back to the mirror, the man had disappeared, but the glass was left smoky black. He had turned his attention back to the ring. Its band had been covered in some mysterious symbols which looked like ancient runes; a skull with crossed bones

decorated it in the middle. ‘Listen to the voids in the sound of humming waters.’ The whispers had started again, however this time, the voice belonged to a woman. Philip had raised his head to the mirror. A slim blonde woman smiled warmly to him. Dressed in a floral long gown, the blonde lady looked unfamiliar, but Philip could swear she wasn’t a complete stranger to him. He must’ve met her many years ago, somewhere in another reality, between two worlds, in the reflections of the mirrors, in the voids of the sound of humming waters. He hadn’t had time to finish his thoughts, when the sound of waterfall filled up the room, growing louder and louder, making him completely deaf. And then the pain which had been busting his lungs returned with vengeance. He struggled to inhale; he was drowning in the icy dark waters of the waterfall… ‘Phil, Phil…wake up, mate, wake up! God, what’s going on?’ David’s worried face had appeared in front of him. He was lying in his bed in the guesthouse. ‘It was just a bad dream, but it felt so real,’ he mumbled absently, taking a seat. ‘Oh man, you’ve scared me,’ David continued. ‘You’ve been screaming and mumbling, and howling like mad.’ ‘I’ve seen this man again. The German officer,’ Philip had started quietly. ‘This time, he gave me a ring.’ ‘A ring? What ring? What exactly have you seen?’ Swallowed by another portion of mysteries, it seemed like David had already forgotten his offence. ‘The ring with a skull and crossed bones. There was some writing in it, too.’ And Philip had told him the whole nightmare from the very beginning. ‘The ring, the woman, the voids in the sound… Hm, hm…’ His friend got up from the bed and circled around the room, trying to analyse and to connect all bits and pieces of this puzzle. ‘The voids in the sound, but the sound has no voids… It makes no sense whatsoever.’ He gave up finally. Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Philip leaned back on the pillows helplessly. ‘Probably, it’s just a nightmare, inspired by today’s events. Let’s try to get some sleep. We have a long day in front of us.’ He had stretched his arm, trying to find the light switch, but his fingers touched cold metal instead. He had turned to his bedside table instinctively and, the next second, covered his mouth with his palm, trying not to scream. ‘What’s up?’ David came closer. ‘The ring…’ Philip whispered barely audible; his full lips became as white as his bed sheets. He had pointed to the metal object on his bedside table. ‘The ring from my dream.’ ‘Damn!’ His friend picked up the ring carefully, as if he was afraid it might disappear. ‘Are you sure you haven’t seen it here before?’ ‘I’ve never seen such a thing in my life.’ Philip jumped on his bed. ‘In fact, I’ve never been a big fan of jewellery.’ ‘How on Earth does will appear here, if it doesn’t belong to us?’ Refusing to believe in poltergeist, David was close to breakdown. ‘Somebody has brought and put it here.’ Philip only shrugged. ‘Oh, please, don’t try to convince me it was the man in the mirror.’ His friend had made an impatient gesture. ‘There are only three people, besides us, who have an access to the keys for this room—our hosts,’ Philip suggested. Then both men shot a glance at the room’s door. ‘You’ve locked the door and left the key in the keyhole,’ David had continued his friend’s reasoning, staring at the long, heavy key peeping out from the door. ‘Exactly.’ Philip nodded. ‘So the only way to get to the room is…’ His long finger pointed to a slightly opened window. David shook his head in disagreement. ‘Ricardo is in his early eighties, for Heaven’s sake.’ He stood in front of the window, leaning his elbows on the wide wooden windowsill. ‘Can you imagine him, squeezing through this window and coming into the room soundlessly? Even I would 28 |

struggle to do it, trust me.’ He turned to his friend, but Philip looked captivated by the ring. It was heavy, made from white metal, small in diameter. Its band was wreathed with oak leaves and runes. ‘It seems it was writing inside the band,’ he pronounced slowly, examining the mysterious object. ‘Maybe it was the name of its owner engraved there?’ David suggested, taking a seat next to Philip. ‘Maybe.’ He nodded. ‘We need to know what these symbols mean,’ he continued, pulling his laptop out of the suitcase and switching it on. ‘Oh, my God.’ He covered his mouth with his hand, browsing the Internet pages, then turned the laptop’s screen to his impatient friend. ‘The Totenkopfring, also known as “Death’s Head Ring”…’ ‘…Was an award of Himmler’s Schutzstaffel (SS),’ David continued reading an article. His eyes widened, his jaw dropped. ‘A personal, customized gift from Himmler himself to high-ranking SS-officers?’ He frowned. ‘It looks like the one,’ Philip agreed. ‘The date of the reward and the recipient’s name should’ve been on the opposite side of the band, but they had been erased, erased on purpose. If we know the owner of the ring, we could…’ ‘We could figure out why it’s given to you.’ ‘To us.’ Philip frowned. The last friend’s words hit him where it hurt. ‘No, mate. This ring is connected directly to you,’ David objected. ‘I’ve volunteered to come here to help you solve this quest, but I don’t want to do anything with the Nazi’s jewellery and all this crap.’ ‘Oh, so you want me to deal with this shit alone, do you?’ ‘It’s your shit, not mine. The man in the mirror is talking to you, not to me.’ David only shrugged. ‘Who’s given me this mirror?’ Philip’s aggression was ready to breach the dam of his patience. ‘Of course, you’ve shit your pants and want to blame me in all your mess.’ David almost shouted it in his face. ‘You’re afraid to take any responsibility. Typical Philip—scared to death to get his hands dirty, wants to be nice and sweet to everybody. It seems like now, mate, your spotless reputation of Mr. Nice

| L. SALT | Guy is under serious threat.’ ‘You’re still moody towards me for this evening, aren’t you?’ Philip snorted bitterly. ‘Oh man, whatever…’ David waved his hand, switched his bedside lamp off, and turned away from his friend.

Don’t miss these titles:

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


feature authors

historical | historical christian | contemporary

Tabetha Waite

Barbara M. Britton

Lacee Hightower

feature author Tabetha Waite is the multi-award winning author of the historical romance Ways of Love Series. Her debut novel, “Why the Earl is After the Girl,” was published in July of 2016 and won the 2017 Best Indie Book Award in Romance and the 2018 Second Place Feathered Quill Book Award in Romance. She is a certified PAN member of the RWA. When she’s not writing, Tabetha is reading as true bookworms do, or checking out any antique mall she comes across. During the school year she works as a lunch attendant at the local community college. She is a small town, Missouri girl and continues to make her home in the Midwest with her husband and two wonderful daughters. You can find her on most any social media site, and she encourages fans of her work to join her mailing list for updates. www.

Stay Connected

Please welcome Tabetha Waite Uncaged: Your latest release is a historical romance title called Who the Marquess Dares to Desire. Can you tell readers more about this book? Yes! This book is the fourth book in my Ways of Love Series, although it can be read as a standalone. It is the story of Drayven and Clara, both on the quest to put away a common enemy – her father! I love to write stories full of adventure and heart, and thus far, it’s served me well. Uncaged: You are also a part of the Fortunes of Fate series releasing all summer. How did getting involved with that come about? It actually started out as the brainchild between

32 |

Zeta. Uncaged: What inspired you to write in the historical genre? Is there a lot of research involved with your novels? I’ve long been a fan of romance. I started out reading the Gothics from the 60’s and 70’s and then wandered to Harlequin and Zebra, and eventually began to devour anything historical. I found that I loved all the different time periods centering around the American Civil War and the Revolutionary War. But when I discovered the Regency era, there was something so appealing about it. I love the proper manners, but even more, I love it when my characters break the rules. I try to weave as much history into my novels as possible, but my goal is not to overload the reader. Most say that reading is an escape from the real world, which it was for me. I want the main focus to be the relationship between the MC’s, so that is my ultimate goal. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? Annabelle Anders and me. We’ve been supporters of each others work for some time and even collaborated on the Amazon bestselling Christmas anthology, “Yuletide Happily Ever Afters.” We are always finding new and inventive ways to work together (including a new spring anthology that will release in mid-April), and this is just another example. When Christina McKnight came on board, she had the amazing idea of doing a shared world set. It’s been so much fun working with all these amazing authors and I’m excited for readers to check out the different variations of the stories – all of which are centered around a fortune teller named Madame

Marketing is extremely tough for a new writer. Even with four books out and several collaborations, I still consider myself a ‘newbie.’ I started out traditionally published with a small press with the release of my first book in 2016. “Who the Marquess Dares to Desire” is my first single title that was self-published. Social media sites and an author newsletter are always great tools to get the word out about a new title and it’s free. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of all the places that contact you about a great deal regarding easy promo. You have to set a budget for yourself and try to stick with it. Weigh the pros and cons before you commit. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | I thought it was unusual, although rather endearing, that a reviewer on with Online Book Club said that she felt my second book, “Where the Viscount Met His Match” should become a movie adaptation. I was honored that she liked it so much, but at this point, sending anything to the big screen isn’t on my agenda. I’d like to make it to the NY Times bestselling list first! Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? I’m going to seem like such a nerd, but when I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. I’m still an incurable bookworm! I would love to go to England some day, of course, but one of my favorite places that I’ve visited so far is Washington. It’s a lovely state, but alas, rather far from Missouri where I currently live and where I grew up. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? Some people think it’s a creepy hobby, but I’ve been a doll collector for years. I’ve been to numerous doll shows, although my favorite one in Des Moines recently closed. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? THANK YOU for giving this girl a chance to share her stories. I’ve wanted to write since I was nine years old, a dream that I’ve never given up on. Now that it’s turned into reality, I appreciate everyone that is on board this journey with me. There are only good things ahead! Feel free to drop me a line any time!

Enjoy an excerpt from Who the Marquess Dares to Desire Who the Marquess Dares to Desire Tabetha Waite Historical Regency A man bent on revenge. A woman with a shadowed past. Together, they must face down a common foe. Miss Clara Upton has always been different. Society shuns her for her mismatched eyes. But when she is offered the chance at a proper London season, she isn’t about to waste a good opportunity. She knows the odds of ensnaring a husband for herself are rather slim, but she vows to do whatever is necessary to give her twin sister, Cora, a better life. So, when a shady figure from her childhood resurfaces, threatening her with blackmail, Clara has no choice but to comply with his demands or suffer the consequences. As she ventures out one fateful winter night, she comes face to face with an adversary of a different sort, a rather seductive marquess who doesn’t know when to mind his own business… Drayven Hollowell, the Marquess of Sussex, has only had one objective in life – bring down the criminals responsible for murdering his parents and shattering his world. He joined the Home Office as an agent in order to utilize all of the resources at his disposal, but his quest for retribution has yet to be fulfilled, as one man has continued to elude his clutches. Now, just as it seems that vengeance is finally in his grasp, he stumbles across a woman who is just as intriguing as she is lovely. When he uncovers a shocking discovery, he has to make a choice between justice and the woman who’s slowly stolen his heart. Excerpt

34 |

December 29, 1819 Blackheath, England Miss Clara Upton took a seat in a corner of the serving area of the Hare & Billet, where she’d taken rooms upstairs. She rather surprised the serving wench when she ordered a tankard of ale, but unfortunately, she couldn’t think of anything else that might force her nerves to calm as she waited for further instructions from her blackmailer. She detested the role of victim that she was being forced to play, but since she had no other options, she had to play along with this game. Once the drink was brought over and set down in front of her, Clara lifted the veil of her bonnet slightly in order to take a tentative sip of the bitter brew. Because she was a woman who was always whispered about due to the different colors of her eyes, she made sure to conceal her features as much as possible. Granted, it was impossible to wear a veil at all times, especially in the middle of a London ballroom, but at least the ladies and gentlemen of the ton hadn’t pointed and called her a witch yet, like some of the cruel children she’d grown up with had been wont to do. Just because she was different. Tapping her finger impatiently against the mug, she searched the area around her and pulled out the note she’d been given upon arrival at the inn. Short and to the point, it read: Eleven o’clock. Downstairs. And now he is late. Irritation filled her as the hour neared midnight. It would be just like the bastard to punish her for something that wasn’t her fault. As if she had any control over the unexpected wintry weather that had slowed her progress to a near crawl, causing her to arrive at the village much later than originally anticipated. Even if she hadn’t rescued a stranded duchess in distress on the road, she wouldn’t have made it to the inn any sooner. Either way, she knew no matter what time she arrived, her blackmailer wouldn’t have given up hope. He knew she had no other choice than to give in to his

| TABETHA WAITE | demands. No matter how extravagant they might have become over the past six months, since that first letter had arrived, she never failed to meet them. It had all started when she and her twin sister, Cora, had moved to London to stay with their guardian’s close friend, Lady Darla Meriwether, the widowed Countess of Marsh. Raised in the country by Mrs. Constance Prose, a widow who’d had no children of her own, the girls had lived a simple life in the hamlet of Upton. They had never been aware of their parentage, told only that they were orphans, so they had adopted the name of the town as their surname. It wasn’t until their guardian grew gravely ill that Lady Marsh had appeared on their doorstep. Needless to say, it had been quite a shock when this refined lady went on to not only offer to take them in but to act as a sponsor for a London Season, all expenses paid. Thus, when Mrs. Prose died shortly thereafter, Clara and her sister had reluctantly left their old life behind and moved to the city. That’s when everything changed. And not for the better. Clara had found the first blackmail letter sitting innocuously on a tray in the foyer of Meriwether House, not a week after they’d settled in. There hadn’t been a return address and it was simply marked, To the young ladies of the house. After Clara realized that the anonymous message was a threat to expose some terrible secret that would destroy her and Cora’s chances for a good match unless a monetary bribe was paid, she had vowed to take care of the issue herself and spare her sister from such a horrendous ordeal. Since then, Clara had met the blackmailer whenever she was summoned, which was starting to happen more frequently. The door to the pub opened on a burst of cold air that froze her lungs. But the man who walked in on a gust of wind wasn’t whom she was waiting for. Nevertheless, she could tell at a glance that he wasn’t one of the Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | locals, nor was he a pauper of any kind, for his greatcoat hugged his wide shoulders with perfectly tailored precision. His shining Hessians, lightly covered with fresh snow, encased long legs inside dark trousers. He was truly an impressive sight to behold. However, it wasn’t until he removed his hat that Clara truly felt the earth spin. It wasn’t because of his thick dark hair or the chiseled jaw brought into perfect view, or even the fathomless depths of his black eyes that looked as if they belonged on the face of a demon rather than on the body of an Adonis, as he scanned the room.

After taking a seat, he ordered a bracing scotch to warm himself and began a thorough inspection of the handful of occupants seated sparsely about the pub. He instantly dismissed most of the men present. Even if any of them wished to cause a ruckus, he could overtake them easily, for it was obvious they were well into their cups at this hour, their bloodshot eyes evidence enough. He gave a rather derisive snort, for the upcoming New Year was supposed to be a time for celebration and new beginnings, but most of the men here looked anything but jovial at the prospect. But then, he could sympathize.

She quickly shrank back into the shadows, for even though he might not know her, she knew exactly who he was. Everyone in London knew Drayven Hollowell, the Marquess of Sussex, even if just by reputation alone. He was an infamous rake who dressed only in black and shunned most of society. So, the question that begged to be answered was— what was one of the Sinful Swains doing out in this kind of weather?

It had been months since he’d been at his estate in West Sussex, as there really was no need. His steward was fastidious about apprising him of any concerning matters, so he spent most of his time in London, but not for the purpose of taking part in the social entertainment. Because of that blasted moniker he’d been saddled with, he was more than happy to distance himself from those wagging tongues as much as possible.

And what was his purpose in Blackheath?

There wasn’t a single person in fashionable England who hadn’t heard tales of the Sinful Swains of Sussex. Along with his cousin, Talon Lyridon, a respected barrister in his own right, they had originally been labeled the Twin Cousins of Sussex, due to their similarities – towering height, dark looks, and confirmed bachelor status. But thanks to that reputation, they were thought to be the most deviant libertines who ever walked the face of the earth. At first, it was something of a jest, but as the matrons began to shield their daughters from him and nannies steered their charges across the road in order to stay out of his path, it had all grown rather tedious. In truth, the only thing that truly mattered to him anymore was his work for the Crown.

*** Drayven ignored the curious stares as he walked toward the modest bar in the middle of the room. He was used to drawing attention, but in this instance, it didn’t matter. He might be a respected agent for the Crown, but this evening had nothing to do with a threat to England’s security. Tonight, he was on a specific mission. Finally, after months of waiting, he had received the message he’d been anticipating. The hour of reckoning had arrived, and he was practically vibrating with the tension coiled inside. Now, all he had to do was wait. 36 |

And putting away the one man who had destroyed his world.

| TABETHA WAITE | Drayven lifted his glass to his lips as he scanned the room once more. This time he paused, his eyes instantly narrowing. Like a fox who had just cornered a rabbit, he studied the shrouded figure in the corner of the room who had somehow escaped his initial perusal. While this fact didn’t settle well with him, for it wasn’t like him to overlook anything so obvious, he made no attempt to hide his interest as he slowly lowered his drink. The woman easily blended in with her surroundings, especially in her dark attire and concealing bonnet, but one thing was clear – she was most definitely out of place.

And it wasn’t a good one.

He downed his drink in one quick swallow and stood, making no effort to hide his intention to approach her. She stiffened, and his lips turned up at the corners. So, she had been watching him just as closely. That made her even more intriguing.

With shaking hands, Clara stood. She had to leave. Now. Since Drayven’s interest had been piqued by her presence already, she had no doubt he would return to question her if Blakely managed to elude him. For a man well into his fifties, Blakely could be rather slippery when he chose. It was how he’d managed to evade the law for so many years.

But before Drayven could take even one step toward her, the outer door opened on a gust of wind. The moment the patron spied Drayven, he froze on the threshold. For a moment, the two merely stared at one another before Drayven’s grin grew sly. A wool scarf covered the stranger’s face, but it didn’t matter, for it was his eyes that gave him away every time. Drayven’s voice was low and menacing when he said, “Hello, Blakely. I’ve been looking for you for a very long time.” The man instantly spun around and darted back outside. Drayven took off in pursuit, the thrill of the chase pounding through his blood. *** Clara’s mouth fell open. Stunned didn’t even begin to describe what she’d just witnessed. Her blackmailer had just entered the public house but abruptly fled— with Lord Sussex on his heels. It was shocking enough that the marquess was in Blackheath at the exact time she was, but to actually call out to her blackmailer by name? She had no idea how they might even be acquainted, but there was obviously a history there.

She felt the blood drain from her face. If Lord Sussex knew Blakely, then it was only a matter of time before he connected him to her. If Drayven was ever given a formal introduction to her in London, there was at least one thing he was bound to notice. Needless to say, he would be the ruin of her and her sister. It wouldn’t take much to connect her to her scandalous father. Just a simple glance…

Clara found her hired driver at the back of the inn, chatting with the buxom serving maid. She expressed her need to leave immediately, but it wasn’t until she dangled another shilling in his line of sight that he reluctantly bade his lady farewell. While he left to prepare the carriage to depart, Clara returned to her room to shove her few belongings into her valise. Her fingers were numb with growing panic, and she was trembling so violently she nearly dropped the bag as she quickly slipped out the back entrance. She hastily ran to the stables where her driver was nearly done hitching up the horses. He noted her arrival with a snort of derision, likely for being denied his amusements, but Clara ignored him, too anxious to make her escape. She had just lifted her skirts to climb inside the hired hackney when a firm grip on her arm kept her immobile. Instantly, her lungs seized as a dark voice growled in her ear, “And just where might you be rushing Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | off to?” Oh, no. No, no, no, no… “Here now!” The driver strode forward. He obviously had some sense of chivalry left, for he didn’t appear to take too kindly to a lady being manhandled. “Wot’s goin’ on?” Lord Sussex tossed a shiny guinea to the man, saying smoothly, “I merely wish to chat with your mistress. Until our business is concluded, why don’t you treat yourself to another pint?” To Clara’s dismay, the man whistled. Apparently, such an enticement overruled any conscience he might have otherwise found—as well as the generous payment she’d already given him. After shooting Clara an apologetic glance, he quickly scurried back inside the inn, leaving her alone with the devil himself. Irritated, Clara swallowed nervously as the marquess opened the door of the carriage and waved a gallant hand. “After you.” Left with little choice, she settled herself against the far wall of the hired conveyance. Lord Sussex sat across from her, stretching his long legs out before him and crossing his ankles. To all appearances, he was completely at ease, but she could sense the restrained energy he was doing his best to control. She didn’t have to guess the reason for his apparent upset. Obviously, his quarry had eluded him. And now she would pay the price. For several moments, he merely observed her with those obsidian eyes and it was all she could do not to fidget. When he finally spoke, it was direct and to the point. “What is your business with Grant Blakely?” 38 |

Clara was thankful for the concealed netting that hid her face, although she couldn’t very well change her voice if they ever happened to cross paths again. She kept her voice level when she replied, “I don’t know what you mean.” He snorted. “Don’t you?” He tapped a finger against his muscular thigh, and her eyes were instantly drawn to the motion. Danger emanated from him. She could feel it. “Very well. Let me ask you this.” He gestured to her veil. “Why the need for such secrecy if you have nothing to hide?” Since she knew all would be revealed if she removed it, she racked her brain for a believable lie. “I… was burned as a child. The… scars frighten people.” She was about to applaud her quick thinking when he grinned, those dark eyes flashing. She suddenly knew the meaning of true peril. Her blackmailer was nothing compared to this man. “Indeed?” he murmured. “Then it’s a good thing I don’t have a weak constitution.” Before she could even react, he reached across the coach and effectively ripped the entire bonnet from her head. Clara gave a startled gasp, not only because of the hat pin that dug into her scalp at the hasty removal but because her features were clearly revealed. Her auburn hair tumbled about her shoulders in a thick wave, but she ignored the tangled mass as she quickly covered her face with her hands. Her heart was pounding when he took her exposed chin in a firm grip. “Look at me!” he ordered in a soft but firm tone. When she shook her head, he gave her a gentle shake. “Do it!” Clara realized she had no choice, for he wouldn’t release her until she gave him what he wanted. In the end, she slowly lowered her trembling hands to her lap and opened her eyes, hoping that all of the defiance and anger she felt was clearly conveyed.

| TABETHA WAITE | Silence reigned, as it took a moment for recognition to slowly take hold, but once it did, the man across from her breathed, “Dear God. You’re the bastard’s daughter.” She ripped her chin from his grasp. She was on the verge of frustrating tears, but she wasn’t quite sure why. “Now that you have what you wanted,” she snapped. “Get out and let me be on my way.” Her angry words caused him to blink, as if he was coming out of some sort of trance. She thought he might say something further, but she gave an inward sigh of relief when he actually opened the door to the coach and stepped down. But before he left, he turned back to give her a smile full of dark promise. “Rest assured, my lady, I’m not even close to getting everything I want from you.” With that, the door slammed shut.

Don’t miss these titles

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


feature author Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Brookfield, Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. She is published by Harbourlight Books an imprint of Pelican Book Group. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.

Stay Connected

40 |

Welcome Barbara M. Britton Uncaged: You say that your writing is about Christian fictional stories with a basis in truth. Can you tell us more about that? My passion in writing is to bring little-known Bible stories to light. I’ve been a Christian for over forty years, and it amazes me when I discover a Bible story that I never knew existed. Most of the stories I write highlight strong women who changed history. When a reader reads one of my books, I hope they learn something new about God and His Word. Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about the books you have written? My latest novel, “Jerusalem Rising,” follows the daughters of Shallum who helped Nehemiah rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. The book of Nehemiah has bad guys and a false prophetess baked right into the plot. I add a bit of boy-next-door romance. “Building Benjamin” follows Hebrew girls who were kidnapped for wives at the end of the book of Judges. As you may guess, that is an enemies-to-married lovers story. And my first novel, “Providence,” follows the storyline of II Kings 5 where a young girl swiped by enemies of Israel, tells the enemy army commander to

go see her prophet if he wants to be cured of leprosy. The enemy commander is healed by the prophet, but we never know what happens to the servant girl in the Bible. I give my Hannah a before story and an after story, and eventually a husband. Uncaged: What is coming next that you can tell readers about? I am super excited to bring the daughters of Zelophehad to light beginning in October. These five orphaned sisters changed history, and no one knows their names. The sisters boldly asked Moses to inherit their deceased father’s land. Moses asked God about the matter and God said if a man dies without a son, his daughters can inherit his land. Groundbreaking! I call my mini-series “Little Women” in the tents of Manasseh. I will also have a Historical coming out in 2020 about a young seamstress who takes care of an injured WWI veteran in a remote Alaskan lodge. This is my “Me Before You” without euthanasia. I like happy endings. Uncaged: You are going to be an attending author at Wild Deadwood Reads this year. What are you looking forward to the most? I enjoy meeting readers and talking about books, so

Wild Deadwood Reads is a perfect venue. I have never been to South Dakota and I would like to see the sights and landmarks of the area. The reader events will bring out the flavor of Deadwood. You might even spot a cowboy or romance novel cover model. WDR has a nice mix of authors that write in all genres. Christian fiction authors will be in attendance along with romance authors who write at different heat levels. There is truly something for everyone. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? I participated in a book club called “Books and Beer” in Columbus, Wisconsin. My friend ad fellow author, Valerie Biel, organizes the club and is a marketing genius. I was in the local paper and Val even bought me dinner for driving to town. We had a blast talking about Biblical fiction and anything writing related. These readers also were voracious book buyers. Libraries and librarians are great, but book sales at library events aren’t stellar. Library patrons like to check out books from the library—not purchase books. I look at library events as a way to give Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | back to the community, meet readers, and teach about the publishing business. I don’t expect a lot of sales. Now, maybe that will change in the future. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? I scratched my head over a review that didn’t think my books were Christian. My stories are based on Biblical events and are pulled from Scripture. I guess that is what happens when you write about little-known Bible stories instead of David and Goliath. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? The “teaching” gene is wired into my DNA. I help lead a weekly Bible study and I also enjoy teaching about writing. It took me eight years to receive a publishing contract because I had a huge learning curve. I enjoy helping writers realize their book dreams. In fewer than eight years! Hawaii is one of my favorite vacation spots, but I wish it wasn’t such a long plane ride from the Midwest. My parents took me to Oahu, Maui, and Kauai when I was a girl. The aroma of plumeria blossoms is my favorite scent. Pineapple seems to taste better in Hawaii, too. The scenery and the spirit of “Aloha” keep bringing me back to the islands. I set a Young Adult novel in Oahu, but the story is still under my bed. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I’m a survivor! Thank you, Lord. I’ve had two life threatening episodes in my life. My first pregnancy was a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. I lost half my blood supply. The doctor told me if I had lived fifty years prior, I would have bled to death. Modern medicine is a blessing. I’m also a three-year breast 42 |

cancer survivor. That pesky cancer fooled everyone. I had a lumpectomy and then underwent surgery for a double mastectomy to rid my body of the cancer. My oncologist had a late start treating my cancer because I was told to return in six months after a suspicious mammogram because the ultrasound was clear. I tell women not to wait for a biopsy if something shows up on your mammogram. 3D mammography was the only imaging that picked up my cancer even if it was only a small piece of the tumor. Advocate for your health and learn from my delay. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I feel blessed to share my stories with readers. Thank you for reading my books! Writers love positive reviews. If you enjoy a book, please leave a review for the author. Readers can find out more about me and my books on my website www.barbarambritton. com and they can interact with me on Twitter, and Goodreads. Also, BookBub will tell a readers about my new releases.

Enjoy an excerpt from Jerusalem Rising Jerusalem Rising Barbara M. Britton Historical Christian When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David. Nehemiah challenges the men of Jerusalem to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Should her father who rules a half-district of Jerusalem be forgotten forever? Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside of the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same rocks they hope to raise. Excerpt A stranger emerged from the east, sword raised, horse at a gallop. His weapon did not proclaim victory. He meant to slay the enemy, and she was what he sought. His stare bore into her like a well-aimed spear. I am his enemy. Shoving Zipporah to the ground, Adah reached for a splintered trellis. Micaiah, still as a sculpted idol, held his ground. “Get your brothers,” she yelled. Her mouth tasted like sour goat’s milk. The boy did not move. “Now!” Adah gripped the wood. Her hand sizzled with the slice of sharp bark. She would tend the splinters later

| BARBARA M. BRITTON | if God spared her from this warrior, for now she would fight the pagan who intended to strike down the daughter of a ruler, a daughter of Jerusalem. She focused on the intruder’s wild-eyed stare and hurled the broken trellis at his face. The thrust of her arm caused it to ache as if it had dislodged from her shoulder. End over end, her trellis sailed toward the horse and rider. Balking at the incoming object, the rider’s mount spooked. Every muscle bulged on the grand animal as it sidestepped and turned to retreat. The wooden rod struck the rider in the chest. Falling, it grazed the belly of his mount. Back and forth, the horse’s head jerked, tugging on the reins, and urging its rider to set it free. The raider cursed. Adah launched another plank of wood.

Enjoy an excerpt from Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey Barbara M. Britton Historical Christian Love Grows Where God Grafts the Tender Shoot. Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife. Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her tribe. Excerpt Climbing over a landslide of rock, Naomi grasped a jut in the hillside and pulled herself up toward a plateau. Gazing at the rolling hills, her stomach hollowed like she was weightless and the wind could whisk her off her feet and down into the depths. She knelt and crawled closer to the edge, scanning the area she and Jael had crossed. No Eliab. No Isa. No one. Kneeling in the dirt, she squinted at the sun. “I can’t do this alone.” Was God listening? She raised her sweat-soaked sleeves. “Show me the way home.” She studied the cliffs for a sign. Anything to point her in the direction she should travel. Heat waves rose from the soil like formations of soldiers streaming into battle. Her eyes burned from the sunlight’s glare. All of Israel was the color of sun-bleached bones. She closed her eyes. The sting of her split lips overwhelmed her senses. Could she even mouth another prayer? Someone seized her arm. She jerked. A flash of fright shivered through her body. She screamed, and her hands formed claws, ready for another struggle. “Naomi.” Eliab towered over her. 44 |

She stood and collapsed into him. Her knees threatened to give way. “Oh, Eliab, where have you been?” She didn’t want to need Eliab, but in truth, she did need him. “There are secret routes in the hills. We knew we could catch up to you, so we didn’t chance the flatlands. We did not want to be followed.” He wrapped an arm around her waist and drew her flush to his body. “So, you are glad to see me?” She stiffened. She knew she should protest his embrace, but his hold kept her upright. “Do you have a waterskin?” she mumbled into his tunic. “Two.” “Then I am glad to see you.”

feature author Lacee Hightower is an American writer and romance novelist, referring to her style as contemporary, sweet romance with a “twist.” Living in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, she describes herself as a foodie that can’t cook, a large lover of fashion and SHOES, and an enormous hopeless romantic. Since she was old enough to know what the word meant, she loved the whole concept of romance and happy endings. Even though she has always enjoyed writing, life got in the way and she never really thought of pursuing it seriously until she decided to write her first book after both her children were grown in 2017. Now with a nice glass of wine in hand, or not, she is learning to love bringing the characters in her head to life on paper for those who enjoy peeking into another world.

Stay Connected 46 |

Uncaged welcomes Lacee Hightower Uncaged: You have a couple series running, can you tell readers more about them? The Beautiful People series is a trilogy, yet all can be read as standalones. Each book focuses on the relationship between hero/heroine while involving characters from each of the other books as well. Each couple is involved in a BDSM relationship as well as a mystery. The series is not meant for anyone under 18 years of age. The Gentry Duo revolves around two Canadian brothers and their relationships. Both men are ruthless and dominant and have challenges ahead of them in saving the women they love. All my books have not only lots of hot sex, but also a mystery involved. Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about? What inspires your books? I have just finished my first draft of Intrigue, a ‘fornow’ standalone that may evolve into a series. The

story of Tage and Ava, this is probably my darkest book yet, revolving around a sexual sadist. Uncaged: I also lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, what do you like most about living in Texas? I love Dallas/Fort Worth. I’m a native Texan, so it’s really all I know. The only thing negative I can say about Texas is that we really don’t get much snow, which I love, and tend to have some vicious storms being in Tornado Alley, which I detest. I live in a small area East of Dallas on Lake Ray Hubbard so I’m away from the actual city traffic, but close enough to all the shopping and entertainment that Dallas has to offer. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? Marketing is a tricky deal. I’ve tried all the social media sites and have had so-so results with them. For me, my best marketing has simply been staying active on social media sites and interacting with people. Having an occasional new teaser or small excerpt also gets

some attention. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? I guess the most unusual thing that a reader has said about one of my books was a gentleman who messaged me after reading Saving the Grace. My books are erotic romance. Adult/bad language is expected in them. This man offered to send me to counseling because he claimed God had very bad things in store for me due to using “BAD” language. He claimed he was afraid for my future. My books very clearly state the nature of them, so I did find it a bit unusual that he had even purchased it. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? When I’m not writing or working for the two private investigators I work part-time for, I read Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | a lot and listen to music. Both are very relaxing. I also love traveling, which I don’t get to do often anymore. I love Maui and the white sandy beaches. Now THAT’S what I call relaxing. I’ve been a few times and should I ever be fortunate enough to win the Mega Millions, you’ll find me there a whole lot more. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? Despite the fact that my books tend to be full of language and a bit on the dark side, I am actually very shy and timid. I rarely curse and have often been told I don’t fit the bill of an erotic romance author. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I have lots more dark, erotic stories in my head to hopefully share over time. Please look me up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or laceehightower. com to keep up with my future writings and just say hi. I love visiting with followers and have made some dear friends the last year.

Waking the Lion Lacee Hightower Contemporary Erotica Cold eyes… Even colder heart… He’s the first man I can’t look away from. The only man I’ll take any way … on any terms. Captain for the Dallas Blue Hawks, Rhett Gentry is unfriendly. Hard. Indifferent. Cold as a bitter wind in the Rocky Mountains. He’s loved hard. Given his everything. Lesson learned— never risk another broken heart. Days are all the 48 |

same for Rhett. Work, promises, obligations. It is what it is. Until it isn’t. He keeps appearing out of nowhere. He knows I’m interested. I can’t hide the fact. Yet, a man like Rhett is used to women looking his way. Used to turning a blind eye. Until he doesn’t. Rhett Gentry is the kind of beauty that has women chasing the puck to be near him. Tall, dark and handsome, the famous hockey player is hiding a secret. But I fall anyway. Our chemistry is undeniable. But as much as my heart longs for his, I fear his past may very well prevent our future. My heart keeps telling me there’s only one true love in Rhett’s life. And it isn’t me…

Because of the erotica nature of this book and because of the rules of my publisher, Issuu - Uncaged will not publish an excerpt for this book. However, if you’d like to read the first chapter, click on the book to be taken to Amazon where the first chapter is available for free.

Short story Just Some Time Away

Part 1

Myrtle Brooks


Just Some Time Away Part 1

© Copyright 2018 Myrtle Brooks She didn’t know where she was headed. She had spent the last three days behind the wheel on interstates dreading the nightfall which came early in October. Save the weekday rush hour the highways were quiet and the kids the same. There was little to see passing through the Heartland and prairies; windmills, crop dusters and flat fields for hundreds of miles in every direction. If you’d seen one you’d seen them all and the kids got bored easily and would be asleep much of the time. Before that, somewhere between the morning rush and the mind-numbing monotony of empty miles, the kids would ask: “Mommy, when are we going home?” It happened at night. Especially at night. When the sky held the last visible traces of a rapidly vanished sun and the kids were sitting up straight in their seats asking about dinner. It was inevitable one’s habitation would also be brought up.

them off for the first time. It wasn’t that they stayed off; not right away. They sputtered; they fizzled. Until it was 75:25 on, then 50:50, 25:75, then once in a while left on. They’d been terminally ill, that was for sure. Once altogether dead, she was certain of no return. Mentored from age 13 by her grandfather, Butch Cavanaugh, a bartender from St. Mullins in County Carlow, Ireland, until his passing two years later, she had taken a job at 17 tending bar at Haley’s Tavern on South 20th Street in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. On learning of it, her father, Stuart, a brick layer from Rathvilly, added several shades of crimson to his complexion. Let me make this as clear as I possibly can: if you come home with child, I will throw you bodily out the door and into the street with the harlots where you belong. You’ll not bring shame to the name of Cavanaugh. What were you thinking when you took this job? Her mother, Nan, was no less vocal. A young girl up all night with a rough crowd? Men putting their hands all over you? And I wouldn’t put it past the owner, either. He’s not running a family bar. Why can’t you understand? She was adamant. It’s what I dream about, it’s in my blood. You have my word I won’t get in trouble.

She’d learned to train her eyes on the soft red glow of taillights, to follow their lead. As long as she saw them, she could hear them as well: Just go on, just go on. It was in waves of two: one per light.

Her father eyeballed her. Sometimes, trouble finds you, and with one hand in the fire. If you weren’t turning 18 in two months, I’d put an end to it myself. Don’t expect me to sympathize with you.

Still, despite her every effort, she could not avert the glare of the oncoming white lights, the endless army of twos in defiant succession chanting: We’re free to go back, free to go back. It put her in mind of the lights Mike had installed on either side of the front door. Those bronze lanterns with the clear white candlelight bulbs and the floral pattern etched into the glass on all four sides. There was a time when they used to be lit. Every night when she got in from work before 2:30 AM when Mike was home.

Terry Cavanaugh wore a sterling silver locket with a well-spread tree engraved on its face, her grandfather had given her on her fourteenth birthday. It had belonged to her deceased grandmother, Maureen, and contained a laminated photo of Butch inside at age 20 before they were married. Terry never removed the locket from her neck, not even when she showered. It was the silver locket which first caught the eye of Mike Longdon.

She couldn’t remember exactly when she found

Mike Longdon had not seen the inside of Haley’s Tavern before that March, five days after Terry turned 19.

50 |

| MYRTLE BROOKS | He drove his rig from Salt Lake City to Oak Creek for an overnight en route to Muncie, Indiana, and parked behind the Turnabout Motel next door. He was 23. Sitting face-down over a bowl of chasers, dressed in a black fringed leather jacket and dungarees, his cowboy hat over his brow, he marked the flicker of Terry’s denim skirt as she approached. Taking pause at the outline of her figure below the waistband, his eyes traveled above, then to the silver locket to make a study of its design. Then they looked into hers. That’s a handsome piece of jewelry, Ma’am, if you don’t mind my saying so. Her smile was brief, courteous. Thank you. Do you need a menu? I’ll take a Rusty Nail. No ice. And a half-pound burger and fries. Medium-rare. He looked on as she poured liquids out of bottles without measuring first. There were men before Mike Longdon who had watched her at her art. Plenty of men. Every night some stranger sitting at the counter would fix his eyes on her. It was safer to just say nothing and act as if she didn’t notice. That night, a surge of heat welled up in her cheeks; she was afraid to be seen blushing. He took a sip and swallowed. You’re a natural. I’ve never tasted a Rusty Nail this good. Well… that’s sweet of you. His focus returned to the locket. Your work means a lot to you, I think. It does. She excused herself. After Jeannie Stiles, the waitress, brought out the burger and fries, he called Terry over. It’s the same with me, you know. Got my license when I was sixteen, back home in Joliet, Illinois. Started out making deliveries to local warehouses when I was eighteen. Another three years, I graduated to the big rigs. I can feel their heartbeat. I talk to them, and they talk to me. Tell me the places they’ve been to. Mike Longdon promised to see her when he was in town. In two months’ time, he returned. Three months

later, they married and settled in Elwood, Illinois, on the outskirts of Joliet: four miles from his place of employment, LITCO Trucking, fifteen miles from his divorced mother, Katey, two minutes from his sister, Irene, and her boyfriend, Kevin Harker, and 120 miles from Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Mike’s Mom and sister were present for the wedding ceremony at the Elwood Village Hall. Jeannie Stiles, who was close friends with Terry, was maid of honor, and Mike’s older brother, Corey, best man. Stuart and Nan Cavanaugh attended after a lengthy interrogation (Tell us the truth: are you marrying him for love, or because he got you in trouble?), and remained aloof throughout the reception. Mike Longdon didn’t smile much. He wore a gritty, determined expression most of the time. He said he got it from his Dad when his Dad was still around. When Mike Longdon smiled he drew Terry’s attention and affections. Over several years, between his cross-country runs, they had three kids together: Mary Beth, now age 8, Brian, 6, and Danny, 5. Mike told Terry he knew what her tending bar meant to her, that he would never expect her to give it up. The day I park my last rig, he nodded deferentially towards her silver locket. She applied at The Larkspur, a Mom and Pop establishment in Joliet, and was kept on by Hal and Tina Schmidt until a few days ago. When Mike was away, Terry dropped the kids off with Irene and Kevin, who had two boys of their own, and picked them up mornings. She never turned the outdoor lights on: those bronze and glass lanterns with the candlelight bulbs Mike installed. She told herself burglars would target the house as empty. And that missing her loved ones was a good thing; it made her appreciate them more when they were there. By the time Danny was 2 ½ and Terry 25, she had had her fill of being alone, taking nary a day off, no social life. She started drinking after hours. When Terry drank, she believed Irene probably thought little to nothing of her for working in a bar; that maybe, deep-down, Irene questioned her brother’s choice in marriage. Not that she or Kevin made remarks. Not even when Terry overslept a couple times and missed picking up the kids. But people imagine things and wear a certain look when they don’t approve of you. Even the kids, when they opened their mouths and asked, Where were you, Mommy? Even Irene’s and Kevin’s kids wore a look more than once. Issue 32 | March 2019 | 51

| SHORT STORY | She felt more secure and comfortable, those quiet nights alone with the outdoor lights off. Until Mike came home, and the lights were left on. Every night when she got in from work before 2:30 AM. She thought she had it figured out: if she drank outside, he would be upstairs asleep. Or if she fought off the urge until the kids were at school and he was running an errand. Instead, Mike accused her of betraying his trust; insisted she attend the local AA meetings. And then Irene had to come forward to “kindly” and “willingly offer herself as a designated friend. Outraged Mike had demeaned and humiliated her to his sister and her boyfriend, Terry disappeared during the day. When she returned, he threw it up that she couldn’t wait for him to leave to get those drinks down her, so she left first. What the hell are you talking about? she’d holler. You’re never home, anyway. Do the kids and me a favor and don’t come back. He would slam a few doors. Later, he’d apologize. Honey, I didn’t mean it. Please don’t go. But that was to salve his conscience over a number of things, one being his performance in the bedroom as of late. Of course, Mike turned it around, said her grade was barely passing when she wasn’t passed-out drunk. Said he thought she’d hold her own; didn’t expect her to embarrass him in front of his friends. When she found the outdoor lights off, she cursed him up and down for being spiteful. And stayed out until 4 AM. It was foggy at 11:30 PM when she drove home, a few days ago in October during the new moon. Her boss, Hal Schmidt, had dismissed her, warning this was the last time he or Tina would tolerate her coming to work in her condition. She parked the Ford Fairlane in the neighbors’ driveway across the street, staggered out and tried the key in their door. Realizing she had the wrong house, she left the car behind and crossed the road. The lights were off; she struggled to find the keyhole in the dark. It was dark inside the house, too, except for the night 52 |

light upstairs. She removed her coat and flung it over the banister, took off her shoes and mounted the carpeted stairs. It was unlike Mike to turn in early, not even when he was leaving the next morning for a week-and-a-half run to Arizona and New Mexico. When she flicked on the bedroom light switch, Mike was asleep, cuddled up to Brenda Culvert, the dispatcher at LITCO Trucking. Oh good God. Terry stood agape a few seconds. Then she lunged towards them. Get out! You bitch, get out before I kill you! You don’t have to do this, Mike addressed Brenda, who sprinted out of bed clutching her shirt buttons. ‘Don’t have to do’ what? Terry pointed a finger at Brenda. I never cheated on you, not once. Had plenty of times, plenty of opportunities, too, with men a whole lot better and finer than you. Was the damn locket around my neck stopped me. And my Daddy always telling me I’d get in trouble. Should have gone ahead and did it when I had the chance. Tell that to your bottle of Seagram’s, he whipped back, as Brenda’s stiletto heels pounded the carpeted stairs with a volley of thuds, and the front door slammed. You’ve not only cheated me: you’re a drunken, unfit mother to our children. Me faithful? To what? A filthy, slobbering lush who comes home night after night smelling like a garbage dumpster? I wouldn’t go to bed with you if you paid me a million dollars. Terry descended the stairs gasping, grasping at the railing, while Mike stared her down from the bedroom doorway. Inside the living room, away from his glance, her eyes traveled to the fireplace, fallen to disuse over several years except for holidays and occasional winter nights when the kids asked. Not a trace of ash, the hearth swept and tidied; the grate set in place. She went to the front door. The door Brenda had slammed moments ago. She flung it open. The streets were still; the Fairlane parked across the way. She eyed the lights at either side. Those oncein-a-while-left-on bronze and glass lanterns Mike installed. If Terry Longdon goes… as soon as Terry Longdon goes… as soon as Terry… Cavanaugh… Longdon goes… Mike Longdon will leave the lights on for… Brenda Culvert… Seizing the living room fireplace poker from the stand to the right, racing outside, she swung repeatedly and

repeatedly until the two lanterns became deformed, bronze skeletons, their contents shattered and strewn across the cement. What the hell did you do? Mike came to the door and bellowed. What I should have done a long time ago. She held the poker in her hands. You crazy bitch, when I come back from New Mexico, I’m going to do what I should have a long time ago: file and get custody of the children. He turned his back to her, thundered up the stairs and locked the bedroom door. Terry followed with the poker. He has to come out sooner or later. The bastard, I’ll bash his head in, break every tooth in his mouth. An hour later, she was in a room a quarter mile away at the Lakeside Motel with the lights on, asleep. At 6, she awoke and scribbled on a notepad she found in the nightstand drawer until it was after 6:30. Checking out, she left the Fairlane in the motel parking lot, and, concealed among a small clump of bushes nearby the house, she trembled while Mike tramped back and forth to his pickup truck with his luggage and gear. She heard him call: C’mon, Brian, Mary Beth, Danny, hurry up, you’ll be late for school. And the kids sauntered out with their schoolbags and lunch bags as they did every morning. Aunt Irene will bring you to their house in the afternoon. She counted the children on her fingers as they climbed into the pickup, watched them drive off and headed to the motel to bring back the Fairlane. Inside the house, upstairs in the unlocked bedroom, she reread the list on the notepad in haste while she threw suitcases onto the bed and shoved essentials into them. Danny’s asthma medication… Mary Beth’s favorite doll, Trudy… God, I hope Irene doesn’t come over for something… She entered the school principal’s office wearing business attire and black dress flats, her hair pulled back in a barrette. There’s been a family emergency. The children’s favorite aunt passed away last night. She sat for twenty petrified minutes acting calm, collected, appreciative; while the school secretary, expressing her heartfelt condolences, left to gather the


children. It was the kids who interrogated her with a barrage of loaded questions as she drove the Fairlane away. Is Aunt Irene coming, too? Daddy said she was meeting us after school. I heard you and Daddy yelling at each other; did you run away? Why did Daddy tell me not to tell anyone about his secret friend, Brenda? She thought she handled it well. Daddy and I decided it would be a wonderful idea if we go on a trip while he’s away, and he said Aunt Irene was picking you up to keep it a surprise. Daddy got upset because I left to babysit the neighbors’ kids in an emergency and he wanted me to stay: but after that he understood. Daddy wanted to introduce me to Brenda himself. The third day, she exited Interstate 70 in Colorado in a heavy snowstorm and drove two miles to an unknown town with a sparsely lit Main Street and Rodeway Inn. Long after the kids had fallen asleep, she remained by the window with the lights out watching the snow gather drifts around the Fairlane. During the night, the last visible spot on the windshield vanished, and by morning, the tires. At the Red Mountain Diner across the street she readied the kids for breakfast and, spotting a Help Wanted sign inside the door, instructed them to wait. As she crossed Main Street, she studied her surroundings, serene, secluded and pretty in the snow. In the motel room, her hands shook when she used the curling iron, fixed her face and changed into a pants suit. After breakfast, she spotted three apartments listed in the town newspaper classifieds. One was a small, furnished one-bedroom on Corral Drive, owned by a Mr. Grant who didn’t ask questions once he knew she had the rent and a month’s security in cash. She told them they were from Denver and looking for a quieter place to live. “You have that here,” he assented. Returning to the diner, she put a local residence on her application and took a job waitressing overnights. Come November, despondent and given to periods of uncontrollable trembling, she began frequenting the liquor store at Main and Firewood Avenue. And by month’s end, the apartment was back in the classifieds. Like a specter, a voice of condemnation cast its lengthy shadow over Terry’s thoughts, and for six months she found herself unable to stay anywhere for long. Nor could she endure the eternal stretch of the Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| SHORT STORY | highways to which she would return. She had told the kids Daddy had moved away, she didn’t know where he was, couldn’t afford the mortgage. You can’t afford to settle down at all, can you? the voice tolled. In April, two months after a family with a fiveyear-old girl discovered Trudy on the floor behind the nightstand in a Kalispell, Montana motel, Terry attended an AA meeting in Henderson, Nevada. It was her first of many. Under the name “Cavanaugh,” she found employment as a maid at a casino hotel with a large discounted room, minimum wage and good tips. The people she worked with were friendly and hospitable, the kids content at last. She enrolled them for school beginning September. Early December, she took the kids Christmas shopping on a Saturday evening after dinner, returned home and watched them drift off to sleep. She studied them from the easy chair where she sat holding a tumbler filled with Hawaiian Punch and lime on the rocks, and continued to look on as Brian shifted from sideways to face-up. Maybe I should call. Tell him I just needed some time away. As she redialed the house number five times, finding it “no longer in service,” Terry relived Sundays past when Danny was two and Mike was home. The kids chasing up and down the stairs and through the rooms; Mike picking them up one-by-one, hugging them. Mike grabbing Terry’s waist and kissing the back of her neck until she turned to meet the adoration in his eyes. No one answered at Irene and Kevin’s house. Her mind coursing, she combed through the pages of her pocket address book. Jeannie Stiles would be an hour into her shift at Haley’s Tavern. An unfamiliar voice spoke, then she came to the phone. “Jeannie, it’s me…” “I can’t hear you above the noise. Who’s calling?” “It’s me… Terry.” There was a pause. “Don’t call here again.” Jeannie 54 |

cut her off. Her skin suddenly clammy, she rubbed her arms as she looked up Mike’s Mom, Katey. “Where are you?” Katey asked her. “In… Florida. Jacksonville.” “Why now?” “Please, I called the house. The number’s disconnected.” “You’ll have to come up with something better than that.” “Than… what? I don’t understand…” “I’ll tell you what: they will find you. It’s a matter of time.” Her voice disguised, Terry phoned LITCO Trucking the next morning before her 8:00 shift. “May I speak with Mr. Mike Longdon?” Brenda Culvert, the dispatcher, put her on hold several minutes, then returned. “Mr. Longdon… no longer works at LITCO. Who’s calling?” She reached Corey, Mike’s older brother, at lunch time, struggling in vain to hold back her tears. “I believe you,” Corey said. “When you say you don’t know what happened. I’m sure you were stewed at the time. Weren’t you?” Terry replaced the address book in the desk drawer and returned to work. That evening, when the kids were in bed, she typed Mike Longdon’s name into the worldwide web and found the headlines from the Joliet, Illinois Times Weekly dated two days from the morning she picked them up from school and left. For those first six months, sheer dread had held her hostage every time she spotted a maroon Kenworth W900 among the rigs pulled into a rest stop. Now, numerous times in passing, along entries and exits and on the interstate, she thought she saw Mike behind the wheel. It was inevitable she find him behind the wheel, confronting in the night the endless army of

oncoming white lights “free to go back.” On afternoons at 4, when she finished work and the kids were upstairs (Mary Beth occupied with homework, and Brian and Danny with Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders), Terry stole downstairs to the casino bar. The elderly, amicable barkeep, John, from Reno, resembled her grandfather, Butch Cavanaugh, from the back. He would greet her as she studied the rows of glasses lining the overhead racks upside-down, and the patterns from the sun casting light and shadows of passersby on the mahogany tables and walls. Among half a room of patrons, she took a table near the counter, one such afternoon, sipping a non-alcoholic Virgin Mary in a highball glass. She looked on as the barkeep poured liquids out of bottles without measuring first. The wife and three children, the perpetrator and the instrument used to strike several lethal, stabbing blows into the back of Mike Longdon’s head and neck and left temple ‘remained unapprehended,’ the Times Weekly insinuated a week after the first article. Before that, Mr. Longdon’s coworkers at LITCO Trucking broke down when they described him to the news media as: A hardworking family man with domestic problems at home. His wife is a known alcoholic prone to fits of violent rage, Dispatcher Brenda Culvert added. And the neighbors, who Didn’t know the family that well, heard Fighting and foul language going on at all hours, day and night. The deceased’s sister, Irene Longdon, told the media the police found: Both porch lights smashed in: the bronze and glass lanterns Mike installed. And the school said, when Terry went to pick up the children, she gave the excuse their ‘favorite aunt’ died. The police have been patrolling our street in case she comes back here. Mike was troubled for a long time, Miss Longdon’s boyfriend, Kevin Harker, concurred, Over a loveless relationship that kept getting worse. He told me Terry threatened him on more than one occasion. Looks like it was once too many. And now the police say the fireplace poker’s gone missing. In vain, as Terry continued to search the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times and the Times Weekly, she had tried to recollect the events in full: from the time Mike closed and locked the bedroom door to her

| MYRTLE BROOKS | awaking in the Lakeside Motel, to her collecting the kids from school the next morning. Maybe she had brought the kids to school herself in the Fairlane, on the pretext that “Mike’s coworker picked him up early.” Maybe, too, she had imagined finding Brenda in bed with Mike; that it was, in truth, a Terry from ago, a ghost of passion and pleasure emerging from among the spirits of drink. “Would you care for something else?” the barkeep called to her. She fingered her silver locket with both hands to rescue them from the shaking which had returned. The urge was overwhelming; out of need; a welldeserved exception. He asked if I want something else. What else is there? I’m the patron, I’ll be the patron the rest of my life… “No. Not this time.” “That’s a handsome piece of jewelry,” he observed, and Terry stared at him wordlessly. “You know, you seem to have something on your mind. Been there, myself. If you need me, Terry, I’m here for you.” Dreams of the barkeep followed. They began the same way, his back towards her. When he turned around it was her grandfather, who greeted her without recognition and took her order. She reached across the counter to take his arm. Grandpa! Oh God, Grandpa… Are you sure you’re in the right establishment? He withdrew himself. And Terry felt for the silver locket around her neck with the well-spread tree and discovered it missing. Awaking, she felt for the locket again without exception. The dreams continued after the Times Weekly reported a school staff member as having greeted Mike that morning on her way into the building as the kids spilled out of his pickup.

Watch for Part 2 in April © Copyright 2018 Myrtle Brooks Published with permission. Issue 32 | March 2019 |


feature authors

shifter | paranormal | lgbt historical

M.A. Jewell

Megan Morgan

Katherine Wyvern

feature author M.A. Jewell began writing after a satisfying career as an operating room nurse. An avid romance reader for many years, she traded in her reading addiction for a pen to write in her favorite subgenre, paranormal. Now, she can’t stop. She calls Omaha, Nebraska home, where she enjoys her own happily ever after with her biggest fan and supporter, her husband, Jim. Their two sons have fledged and married lovely, competent women. And if you have an extra twenty minutes, go ahead and ask about her two perfect grandchildren. Author of The Jaguar Queens series, Jungle Salvation, Book II will release on 3-15-19. Sign up for her newsletter at and receive a free contemporary romantic suspense novella download. You can also follow her on Facebook

Stay Connected

Please welcome M.A. Jewell Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about The Jaguar Queens series? When does book two release? The Jaguar Queens world is loosely based on a Lenca folk story, The Jaguar Princess. The Lenca are an indigenous people of Honduras who resisted the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s. The princess, also known as Comizahual, arrived mysteriously and, after rising to power, led the Lenca with an even hand, uniting the warring tribes by force when necessary. Abnormally long-lived, she was very fair with white blond hair and the people loved her. From this piece, I concocted the lost, latent Caucasian shifters residing in the United States. Did I mention “loosely based”? Jungle Rapture, Book I, is an action-packed novelette (hovering between a short story and novella), that introduces the Jaguar Queens’ world. With the help of a legendary jaguar shifter, Jaime Salazar, brave environmental journalist Kelsi Gorman must embrace her wild side to evade human traffickers. Though this book was well-reviewed, sales were modest. I like to think that, eventually, more readers will be pleased to discover this story.

58 |

Book II, Jungle Salvation, will come out in early March 2019. I hope for a firm date within the next couple weeks. This is a full-length action-packed novel. Ancient jaguar shifter Matteo D’Cruz emerges from seclusion to claim a mate. He can’t resist care-free Dakota Gorman, but must defend her – and his species – from a plot to weaponized shifter DNA.

Uncaged: On your website, you state that you started out as a Registered Nurse before becoming a writer. Are you a full-time writer now? True enough, I worked in the OR for many years. In fact, I put that experience to good use in a key scene in Jungle Salvation. Nothing squeamish! I have a tamer job now, in case management. No different than most authors I know, I’ve kept my day job. My goal is to drop to part time within the next year or two. Love of writing doesn’t pay bills, but maybe one day, my stories will buy a few groceries. Uncaged: What are your favorite genre to read? Living or dead, who are a few authors you’d love to meet in person? Oh man…I read romance almost exclusively. If I do read outside the genre, I end up rooting for a couple to have a happily ever after—and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Within romance, I read paranormal, historical, fantasy, and urban fantasy, and occasionally contemporary. It’s sort of odd that one of my two published books is a contemp. Most of my favorites go beyond a meet-greet and fall in love story. I like an element of suspense and action in my stories, or tales from other cultures. Stories set in another country or time period, real or imagined, captivate me. Authors who I would love to have over for a fireside chat include Diana Gabaldon, Anne Rice, and Jane Austen. Gabaldon and Rice have styles I would love to emulate, but I’m not sure I have enough life left to learn that much. Austen is in a class by herself. I was

riveted to the required high school read, Pride and Prejudice. I’ve re-read all of these ladies’ works numerous times. Their magic enthralls me and also escapes my grasp. Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? So far, I flounder in the marketing department. There’s no other way to describe it. The inexpensive avenues, Facebook and Twitter, do not seem very effective and I don’t think that is unusual. Really, a million people out there say, “read my book”, and because a potential reader (correctly) sees the author’s opinion as less than impartial, the self-promotion rings hollow. Recently, I started a newsletter, Precious Gems— the name is inspired by the fact that each reader is a precious gem. The jury is still out on how effective it is in terms of marketing/sales. However, surprisingly, I enjoy putting it out. I had avoided publishing a newsletter due to the time investment, and I was pleasantly surprised that readers actually respond to my newsletters. Also, I’ve made many contacts with other authors I wouldn’t otherwise run into. The curious can sign up here: Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? I wouldn’t say this was unusual, except that my reaction was so absolutely uncool. I was at the Romance Writers of America conference in Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Denver, CO, and walking in a throng of authors to the next event. A woman next to me glanced at my nametag. “Oh, M.A. Jewell. I love your stuff.” Like I might have forgotten who I was, I looked down at my lanyard. “Oh, I’ve haven’t sold many books, you must have me mixed up with someone else.” She glanced at the tag again. “Jaguar Queens, right? That’s you?” Well I proceeded to swoon on the spot. I had run into a person who had actually read my first and only book. I was so geeky, I asked her to pose for a picture as my first documented reader. Thea was very gracious and humored me. I will never forget her. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? Being with my grandbabies, wherever they are. You won’t see pictures of them on social media. I know some authors post family pics. Since my FB account and postings are set to public, I limit mine to me and the hubs. Now that I am writing, time to read for pleasure time has become scarce and precious. When I select a book to read that is entirely for me—I’m like a kid in a candy store who can only buy one thing. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? Not sure this is that unique, but here goes. Though I live a very secular life, I believe in God and pray daily. My own thoughts on religion are that no single tradition owns the path to the divine. Without a home-base church, I tithe in other ways. The obvious donations to charity are easy. Random acts of kindness are good for your soul, too, so I try for one daily. Some involve money, others not so much. 60 |

Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? To any existing fans out there, I would say a heartfelt, Thank you. You are my precious gems. A tale is written to be read and enjoyed—and a story is not complete until that happens. Check out my fantasy worlds at If you like what you find, sign up for the Precious Gems Newsletter and receive a free download of Autumn Renewal, a contemporary romantic suspense novella.

Enjoy an excerpt from Jungle Salvation Jungle Salvation M.A. Jewell Shifter Romance Releases March 15 Dragged back into the human world by well-meaning friends, ancient jaguar shifter Matteo D’Cruz realizes he’s been in cat form for over seventy years. With another transformation, he could lose his tenuous hold on his humanity. There’s no salvation for a feral shifter, only execution. Damaged by grief and guilt, he’s not sure he cares. However, when he discovers an unmated female shifter, he can’t resist her scintillating allure or his instinct to protect her at all costs. Carefree Dakota Gorman travels to Brazil to rescue her sister. Determined to expose the drug lords who have manipulated her sibling into a hurried wedding, she’s certain the baffling hottie Matteo is one of them. After Dakota’s sister turns into a giant jaguar

| M.A. JEWELL | before her eyes, she must confront a new reality, one including hidden family traits. Matteo helps her trigger her first exhilarating metamorphosis into a jaguar, leaving no doubt about her genetics, but her joy is cut short. A blackmailer sends Matteo a video of her transformation, demanding DNA samples. The extortionist threatens to post the recording to the internet and expose the shifters to the world. Dredging up courage she didn’t know she had, Dakota joins Matteo and the other jag shifters to save her family—and her new species—from scientific experimentation. Excerpt Matteo D’Cruz recognized the scent of his old friend Cristiano Salazar in thehumid Brazilian Amazon. Even so, territorial invasion raised hackles across his shoulders, and he drove his claws into the bark beneath him. The sensitive lining of his nose told him Cristiano escorted two other jaguar shifters—one an impossibility—a female. A harsh male scent polluted her essence. Mated. Adrenaline surged his heart into a gallop. The possessive warning didn’t temper her allure, as a mate’s mark should. His lack of control triggered alarms in his head, but he ignored them. Base cat instinct overruled his long-lost sense of propriety. Matteo strained to hear her above the never-ending insect symphony. She was close. A hundred meters, or so. Mated or not, she traveled his territory, and he would have her. God forgive me. Driven by ages-old instinct, Matteo barked a series of courting roars into the canopy’s understory. He waited a breathless beat. No response. Rocketing from tree to tree, ignoring the branches slapping his muzzle, he raced toward the queen. Flat-out shifter speed wasn’t fast enough. Monkeys screeched a warning to the entire jungle and scampered from his path. After an agonizing half-minute, human conversation reached his keen ears, slowing his pace. “Jaime, keep Kelsi close. Matteo’s near.” Odd. Cristiano spoke English rather than Portuguese.

A metered growl came from the unknown male. “Papai, your friend flirts with disaster.” Cristiano’s son! “You two act like he’s dangerous. Maybe we shouldn’t invite him to the wedding.” Odder still, the queen’s Yankee English was likely her native tongue. The sound of her voice assured Matteo he hadn’t entirely lost his mind. For an instant, he’d suspected his overlong solitude had sparked a hallucination. The soft compost layer of the jungle floor muffled her nearing footsteps. Compelled to lay eyes on the female, he used a lifetime of hunting experience to glide through the leaf-covered branches. He aimed for a lone rubber tree where his auburn rosettes and tawny hide would fade into the two-tone ochre bark. Careful not to disturb the foliage, he peered down between green leaves. “He’s Papai’s oldest friend and—I suspect—very lethal.” Jaime added the last with a warning tone, scanning overhead with a predator’s eyes. The younger shifter had Cristiano’s features and jet hair. If not for the scar from his ear to his jawline, and Cristiano’s gray streaks, Matteo might have mistaken the two. The graying version of his friend restrained the young doppelganger by the arm. In a protective motion, Jaime pulled an attractive, fair-skinned girl to him and stepped in front of her. Matteo indulged in a draught of the queen’s floral scent and then snorted to clear the male’s distasteful mark. Jaime’s her mate! Somehow, an unknown line had produced a female. A tsunami of aggression, a primal drive Matteo had never experienced, overtook the last of his will. The glands at the base of his whiskers throbbed, demanding release. He had no doubt he could best the younger shifter. After he won the challenge, he’d smother the queen with his scent, eradicating all trace of the cub from her body. Meu Dios! Furious with his friend for testing him so, Matteo snarled at his murderous jaguar thoughts. He didn’t even know this Kelsi, yet he Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | couldn’t dredge up the will to turn away from the queen. Cristiano’s attempts to entice Matteo back into society had dwindled over the years. This time, however, he had gambled poorly. Too many seasons in cat form. Helpless against nature’s gale force, Matteo prayed Cristiano could save his son. He stepped from cover, and fixing a predatory glare on Jaime, he roared a challenge. Even the insects fell silent. The big male charged forward with a dark glower. Cristiano looked up at Matteo, his mouth a firm line. “Come to us. Now.” Matteo dropped from the three-story-high branch and sailed effortlessly to the jungle floor, landing in a crouch. With eyes locked on his adversary, he stalked low to the ground, set on attack. Dark light shimmered across Jaime’s exposed skin, signaling his impending shift. Scowling at Matteo, he tossed his shirt and pants next to a clump of ferns. “You’ll never have her.” Cristiano, face drawn tight with rage, hurtled to block Matteo from his prey. “You’d challenge your own godson for his mate? Kill my son? Shift now, or die as feral.” Matteo snarled in anguish, praying Cristiano could make good on his threat. Kelsi’s green gaze darted from him to Jaime. She lunged at Cristiano to tug at his arm. “Just leave him.” He pushed her back, keeping his focus on Matteo. “Not possible. If his humanity’s lost, he could mate with a natural jaguar.” “As in sire a litter?” The female grimaced in plain disgust, turning an appalled expression on him. “This is who you thought my sister should meet?” “A selfish misjudgment. I wanted my best friend at my son’s wedding.” Cristiano’s amber eyes shone with tears. “Instead, I’m his executioner.” Sister! Where had the females come from? The last known living queen was Cristiano’s mate, Maria. The thought of females in the world overpowered any concern Matteo had for his own life. “Kelsi, you know genetic diversity is crucial.” Though Jaime spoke quietly in her ear, Matteo’s 62 |

sensitive hearing picked up his words, as though he’d spoken aloud. “No.” She turned tear-filled eyes to her mate. “Invite someone else, please.” Pinning his ears back, Matteo snarled in misery and lowered to his belly. He wanted to shift, to stifle his cat, and turn from killing the men before him—his only family. Matteo’s life meant nothing. If he killed Cristiano and Jaime to steal a mated female, his life would mean even less.

Don’t miss the first book in the series:

feature author Megan Morgan is an award-winning paranormal and contemporary romance author from Cleveland, Ohio. A mildmannered airport bar supervisor by day and purveyor of things that go bump in the night, she lives on the often-wintry shores of Lake Erie with her spoiled cat and adult son, both of whom shed too much.

Stay Connected

Uncaged welcomes Megan Morgan Uncaged: You write in Paranormal and Contemporary Romance genres. Can you tell readers more about your books? I started out writing exclusively paranormal and urban fantasy, but then I decided to switch it up a bit and write contemporary as well. I like to challenge myself and I don’t want to get bored sticking to one genre. I think I reach a broader audience that way too, since some contemporary readers don’t like paranormal. Right now, I have two series going on with Evernight Publishing, my contemporary Man Catalog series and my paranormal Fire and Iceland series. Uncaged: What is coming next that you can tell readers about? I’m about to submit the sequel to Hidden, the first book in my Fire and Iceland series, which will be called Unearthed. I’m also working on the third book in my Man Catalog series, which will be called Mr. Right Now. I’m hoping to get both out this year. In October I’ll be attending the first ever East Coast Author’s Convention and it would be nice to have them published by then.

Uncaged: What is your favorite genre to read? Paranormal, definitely. Also urban fantasy, though that sometimes gets lumped in with paranormal romance. However, I think they both have their own unique calling cards and can’t always be interchangeable. Urban

64 |

fantasy tends to be grittier and darker, and I’m often attracted to that sort of thing. Regardless, I tend to prefer a story that has something otherworldly to it.

Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?

Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful?

When I’m not writing I’m usually working my day job. Or, if I’m relaxing, I tend to waste a lot of time on the internet or watching Hulu or Netflix. I really need a productive hobby.

Sale prices tend to attract readers, especially if you can advertise it on a big site like E-Reader News Today or Bookbub. Review tours (as opposed to straight blog tours) help too, because getting reviews helps boost sales. And, getting a good review in the right place is worth more than any paid promotion—the exposure is tremendous. For the least successful, I find that straight blog tours give me exposure and are fun, but have never given me much return on investment. Paid advertisements in general don’t seem to help unless you can get a spot on a huge, successful site, again, like Bookbub. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? I can’t think of anything overly unusual, but people tell me often that the way I describe things makes the setting seem like a secondary character. I think that’s a great compliment. I do like to immerse readers in my setting, and I tend to write about places I really like, so I guess that comes through in a sort of loving background tone. My Siren Song series is set in Chicago and I’ve had readers tell me that though they’d never visited Chicago, after reading my books they felt like they’d been there. That’s a wonderful thing to hear.

One of my favorite places on Earth is Iceland! I went there last summer and I was blown away by it. Of course, I was already obsessed before I went there, and actually wrote the first book of the Fire and Iceland series before my visit. There’s no place on Earth like it. It’s a land that’s still geologically active and it’s so primordial and breathtaking, it’s hard to describe it. I’ve included some pictures from my trip instead. Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I’m a completely self-taught writer. I didn’t go to college, and apart from a couple of classes in high school (a very long time ago!) I haven’t taken any actual writing classes in any capacity. I’m just very passionate about writing and learned all I could on my own, and by reading. Also, with the help of some great editors, I’ve gotten to where I am today without much formal education on the subject. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I love to hear from fans! I’m very open to chatting with anyone who wants to talk to me, about my books or anything else. I have a pretty active blog with a lot of followers, so that’s a good place to engage me, but I welcome any sort of contact by any means (I mean, unless you intend to show up at my house without warning…).

Enjoy an excerpt from Hidden Hidden Megan Morgan Paranormal Suspense After a breathtaking journey through Iceland, Vanessa Evanston finishes her dream vacation with her two best friends in the capital city of Reykjavik—and wakes up the next morning on the ground, on a tiny island 250 kilometers north, with no memory of how she got there. Luckily, handsome and kind-hearted local Gunnar Heimirsson stumbles upon her—unluckily, he 66 |

can’t explain her mysterious journey either. Nor can anyone explain why Vanessa soon discovers “last night” actually happened a year ago, and everyone thinks she’s dead. Iceland is known for its folklore, but beyond the elves and mountain trolls, there are other creatures: beautiful, powerful, and vengeful, known as the huldufólk. Gunnar has been alive for a century, trapped by their curse after angering them. From the far flung Westfjords to the black sands of Reynisfjara, the answer to Vanessa’s missing year might be connected to Gunnar’s punishment—as well as his long-lost wife, Hera—but the truth lies somewhere in the realm of magic, myth, and love, and Vanessa has only just discovered fairytales are real. Excerpt Vanessa woke stiff and sore, lying on a cold, hard surface. I’m on the ground. She deduced this without even opening her eyes. She was lying on her side, her cheek pressed into—ice? Snow? Whatever it was, the entire left side of her face was numb. Her ribs hurt. What the hell did I do last night? With an almighty heave, she rolled onto her back. Her arm had been twisted beneath her and it throbbed. Though she suspected alcohol to be the reason for her current state of affairs, she didn’t have a hangover. Or at least, she didn’t seem to. No pounding head or queasy stomach. She was a little thirsty, but apart from aching and shivering from being on the ground, she felt fine. She opened her eyes. Slate gray clouds hung above her, low enough it seemed she could reach out and touch them. The wind ruffled her hair, which was scattered across her face in matted tangles. She pushed it away and blinked. The light, despite being dull, felt over-bright and made her wince, like she’d been in a dark room for too long. Somewhere nearby, muffled by the wind, she heard a voice. No, two voices. Men, talking. She lifted her head and looked around. What she saw baffled her even more than waking up to find herself on the ground. To say the view was shock-

| MEGAN MORGAN | ing would be an understatement. The land around her was rocky and muddy with patches of green, but it ended in the short distance. Beyond was a broad expanse of water, a few shades darker than the sky. On the horizon was an undulating line of mist-shrouded mountains. Or, maybe they were just hills. They looked too small to be mountains. This isn’t Reykjavik. Or was it? During her short stay in Iceland she’d discovered the scenery could shift from civilization to wild, awe-inspiring countryside quite rapidly. But, where were her friends? Two men stood near her feet. They were tall—or, they just looked tall because she was currently on the ground. One was blond and probably in his mid-twenties, the other a young man with dark hair, perhaps a teenager. They spoke Icelandic, but she swore she could understand them, so maybe they were also speaking English. She couldn’t possibly be translating, because beyond a handful of common phrases and random words she’d learned to make this trip easier, she didn’t speak Icelandic. Her vision blurred. Maybe she was hungover. She struggled to hear them over the wind. “…where she came from…” “…would have missed her on the boat…” “…if we should be worried…” Neither of them looked at her, but instead were glancing nervously around, as though spooked by the situation. She supposed she might feel the same if she found a random girl passed out in the middle of apparent nowhere. She pushed herself up on her elbows and sat up. Her back ached. Her neck was stiff. She looked down at herself and cringed. Her clothes were filthy. She also realized it wasn’t snow or ice her cheek had been pressed against, but cold, sticky mud. It was caked in her hair and smeared down her neck. None of this made sense. She wasn’t a heavy drinker. She had never in her life gotten so drunk she couldn’t remember the night before. She sure as hell had never passed out on the ground. The two men were still ignoring her.

She grimaced. “Hey.” They stopped talking and looked at her. The blond one’s curls fluttered against his forehead. He had a chiseled, clean-shaven face, and the sharp slope of his nose and rounded point of his chin gave him an unconventional attractiveness, as did his pale blue eyes. He was what her friend, Jessica, would call a hottie with character. The other one had long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, his eyes dark as well. He couldn’t be much past eighteen. Both wore boots and jeans and were wrapped in thick wool sweaters of typical Icelandic fashion: the zig-zag patterned ring around the shoulders, the front zippered. Just her luck, to wake up from her first-ever blackout, disgusting and covered in mud, in front of two hot guys. “Um.” She shifted from side to side, trying to peel her ass off the cold ground. “Hi, I’m Vanessa. Vanessa Evanston?” She had no idea why she said this. Like they were going to proclaim, “Ah, yes! Vanessa Evanston, of the Connecticut Evanstons!” The blond one knelt in front of her. He didn’t look repulsed, just worried. “Vanessa. How did you get here?” He spoke English for certain now, though it was with a thick Icelandic accent. She stared at him a moment, woozy. His eyes were so clear she could almost see the surrounding water in them. The gray light washed out his skin but made his face distinct. He wasn’t just a hottie with character, he was downright handsome as hell. “I … was hoping you could tell me that.” She tried to stop staring into his eyes. “I don’t remember.” The younger one stepped closer. “Are you American?” His accent was not Icelandic. Irish, she thought, though she wasn’t an expert on accents. “Yes, I’m here with my friends on vacation.” Panic slowly began to replace confusion as her dominant emotion. “Where’s my purse? And my phone?” She patted the ground around her. “Where are my friends? Are they here?” Handsome Guy narrowed his eyes. “Where were you last night? What do you remember?” This was surreal. Maybe she was still passed out Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | and having some crazy dream, brought on by one too many cocktails. “I was in Reykjavik.” She continued looking around. “But this isn’t Reykjavik, is it?” More cringing ensued on her part. “I didn’t go home with you guys last night, did I?” That seemed out of character for her as well. She could barely flirt, let alone pick up a guy, let alone pick up two guys. She didn’t typically drink or carouse in a way that would put her in this situation, so it was utterly bizarre. “No,” Younger One said. “We just found you out here a few minutes ago.” “Where is here?” she asked. “Grímsey.” Handsome Guy was still gazing at her in concern. “It’s an island. The only way out here is by boat.” She struggled to remember the geography of Iceland. She’d been in love with the island for years and they’d made a detailed itinerary of places to visit before the trip. Grímsey sounded familiar, and then it struck her. “Isn’t that up north, near the Arctic Circle?” She boggled at him. “It’s the northernmost point in Iceland or something.” They’d been debating going there just to say they’d visited it. Handsome Guy shook his head. “This is a different Grímsey, in Kaldrananeshreppur.” He pointed across the water. “That’s Drangsnes.” In the distance, on the mainland, were rows of buildings and houses, what appeared to be a small town. None of those mouth-filling words sparked any recognition. Younger One’s gaze pierced her. “We’re in the Westfjords.” That rang a bell. An area also up north. Way up north. “How far are we from Reykjavik?” She almost didn’t want to know the answer. Dread filled the spaces inside her where panic had not yet taken root. Handsome Guy looked up at Younger One. “About, say … 250 kilometers?” “A hundred and fifty-five miles,” Younger One supplied, apparently for her American benefit. Terror swept through her, though thankfully she was so stunned she didn’t immediately leap to her feet and start screaming. “How the hell did I get 68 |

here?” She looked to the heavy clouds, as if they held the answer. Horrible possibilities presented themselves. She could have been drugged and abducted. Her missing purse suggested she was at least robbed. Why would they dump her so far away from where they picked her up, though? Her stomach turned as she also wondered if she’d been violated. However, her clothes, though dirty, were in place, even her boots, and she didn’t feel … anything like that down there. “What’s the last thing you remember?” Handsome Guy tenderly touched her calf. “What were you doing last night?” She swallowed. Her throat was tight and dry. “I was at a bar with my two friends, in the 101 District, in Reykjavik.” As she tried to recall the previous evening, she found the memory strangely faded, as though it happened a long time ago. “We came here for a week to sightsee, and we ended our trip in Reykjavik. We were dancing. I was only on my second drink. I don’t drink that much, not enough to end up passed out somewhere.” Again, she felt queasy. She had to have been drugged. The two men stared at her, their demeanor so intense it made her feel like she was being interrogated. “It was stuffy inside the bar.” She struggled to connect the dots. “I went outside to get some air and I—I don’t remember anything after that.” Though she found, in truth, she did remember something. She could almost recall a voice, but she couldn’t hear the words, or discern if it was a man or woman. Someone calling out to her. One of her friends? She saw herself walking down a street, as if in a dream, but after that it was blank. The memory faded and vanished. “Someone must have slipped me something.” Tears welled in her eyes. “I didn’t drink enough to pass out, I swear.” “And they brought you all the way up here?” Younger One sounded skeptical. She struggled to get up. “I need to call the police. I have to get help.” She stopped and looked at them, desperate, frightened. “Please, can you help me?” Handsome Guy looked at Younger One again. They seemed to be sharing some silent conversation.

| MEGAN MORGAN | “We will take you back to Drangsnes.” Handsome Guy nodded in the direction of the town. “No one lives here. Only tourists come out here.” That sounded bad. Whoever brought her here expected her to not be found for a while. “We thought you might have gotten separated from a tour group,” Younger One said. “But they would have missed you on the boat back. Drangsnes is small. News of a missing tourist would be everywhere by now.” She was on the verge of hysterical sobs. “Please help me.” Her voice squeaked out tiny and scared. “Someone did something terrible to me.” Handsome Guy reached for her. He grasped her arm. “Come on, let’s get you up.” He helped her to her feet. Her legs were stiff and she wobbled. She was freezing, as she only had on the thin blouse and jeans she’d worn to go clubbing. Summer in Iceland, at least in the south, was mild enough she was able to leave her jacket at the hotel. But up here, it wasn’t so much. She wrapped her arms around herself, teeth chattering. Handsome Guy quickly unzipped and slipped his sweater off and draped it over her shoulders. He wore a long-sleeved, formfitting white shirt beneath it. He was only a few inches taller than her, now that she was standing. So was Younger One. “Thank you,” she murmured, and pulled the sweater around her shivering frame. The fabric smelled like fruity cologne. The two men exchanged glances. Handsome Guy murmured a word in Icelandic, and the way he said it—with foreboding and dismay—made her ears prick. “Huldufólk.” Hidden people. She somehow knew what the word was, but not what it meant. Younger One scowled, his eyes glittering. “You can bet.” She had no idea what they were talking about, but she didn’t care. She just wanted to get to a phone, find out where her friends were, and piece together what happened last night. They led her down a steep and muddy trail cut into the side of the island. The path was wide enough they could flank her and hold both arms, though near the

bottom it narrowed and Handsome Guy stayed by her side while Younger One went ahead. Tears slipped from her eyes and dried on her cold cheeks, but she struggled not to give in to fullon crying. She would fall apart after she got help. The fear inside her swelled until she could barely pull in a breath. At least she had boots on, though they were goingout boots, not meant for rugged terrain. Still, they helped her not slip as the three of them descended to a gravel beach. There, a metal rowboat was tied to a rock and bobbed on the water. She looked up. The cliff behind them was craggy, the island floor high above. “How did you find me up there?” Birds circled against the clouds. A few more hours, and they might have been feasting on her. Younger One looked over his shoulder. “We came out to walk the island and we stumbled upon you.” Though it seemed weird they would just walk around this island, she was grateful they had. She climbed into the boat and sat down on a plank across the middle. Younger One got in behind her, where oars were propped inside the boat. Handsome Guy untied the rope and hopped in, in front of her at the back of the boat. “It will take about fifteen minutes to cross,” he told her. “We will get you some clean clothes and something to eat and drink when we get there.” She huddled into the sweater, the wind whipping her hair around her face. More tears slipped from her eyes. As Younger One rowed them out into the water, the world expanded in all directions. The sky arched above, the view around her endless. The wind rocked the boat and made small waves break against the sides. Handsome Guy gazed at her. He leaned forward, bracing his forearms on his knees. His shirt rippled across his broad shoulders and exposed the thick column of his neck. “Vanessa?” His eyes took on the deep gray of the water. “Is that your name?” He spoke the V in her name like a W. She nodded. Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | “I’m Gunnar.” He extended a hand. “Heimirsson.” He nodded to the front of the boat. “He’s Aedan.” She slipped a hand from beneath the sweater and it was trembling, though she couldn’t tell how much was from cold and how much was elicited by emotion. She shook his hand. It was as cold as hers, but strong, his fingertips rough. She wanted to cling to him out of fear, desperately in need of reassurance and comfort, but she made herself let go. She turned her head and spoke over her shoulder, trying to make her voice loud enough to be heard over the wind. “Aedan. Are you Irish? I thought your accent sounded Irish.” She needed some small talk right now or she’d go insane. “My Ma was Irish.” Aedan grunted out the words as he worked the oars. “I was born here, though.” He had a frank, matter-of-fact way of speaking and she got the impression he didn’t want to chat. She turned back around and dropped her gaze to the boat floor, so she wouldn’t keep staring at Gunnar’s face. In any other circumstance, she’d be happy to meet such an attractive, strapping, and kind man. She might even make some bumbling attempt to flirt. A thought flashed in her head, from out of nowhere. You have met him before. She frowned. No, she hadn’t. She would certainly remember him. Unless … she had met him last night. “You’re American?” Gunnar asked. “He heard your accent, too.” She looked up. A faint smile broke his lips, the first crack in his grave demeanor. He was trying to keep her from panicking, at least. “Yes.” She pushed her hair out of her face. “My friends must be terrified. After I contact the police, I have to get in touch with them.” “Are you hurt?” “I don’t think so. Just cold and sore.”

70 |

Don’t miss these titles:

feature author I have entered that age when looking at beautiful male models in their prime makes me a cougar, ahem. Almost all my heroines are short: that’s because I look at the world from hobbit level. Being so small I am three times more concentrated (read: obsessive) than anybody I know. I am exhaustingly creative in writing, arts, crafts... Sometimes my brain gets friction burns from hurtling at such speed from one universe to the next. I live a strange off-grid life in a little homestead in France. I love animals, plants, and occasionally even people. Like the Highlander I come from a lot of different places. I was born in Italy but lived here and there and consider myself simply and deeply European. I love Europe passionately, its antiquity, its diversity, its quirkiness. All my books are set in Europe, or alternate versions of it. I have been writing since I can remember.

Stay Connected

Uncaged welcomes Katherine Wyvern Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about your latest release, A Muse to Live For? A Muse to Live for is the third book in what I call a loose trilogy, together with Woman as a Foreign Language and Spice& Vanilla. All three books are standalones and can be read in any order, but there are subtle connections between them, and all three of them feature male-to-female transgender (specifically, gender-fluid) characters. I was interested in exploring the transgender theme in a way that is emotionally sympathetic to the transgender characters, but still fairly accessible (and hopefully appealing) to cisgender, mainstream readers unfamiliar with the topic and its established vocabulary. The main theme of A Muse to Live For however is a painter’s creative obsession with his model and muse, and the way this devotion brings him back to life after a very dark period, and becomes a huge motivating force in his personal, as well as artistic journey. It is a book about the terrific and sometimes destructive power of inspiration. Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about? What inspires your books? I have a story swirling in my mind, but it hasn’t really taken shape yet… but it involves time travel, a villain that will turn hero, a reluctant hero that might turn almost a super-hero, and a rather heartbreaking twist on the idea of fated mates. Uncaged: Is it still true that you live in France, and only ride a horse for transportation?

72 |

I still live in France, in a really basic, off-grid life, in a yurt, and I still have my horse, who’s getting on in years now, and lives a very happy and well-deserved retirement in a pasture just outside my garden. We did acquire a car in recent years, although I am quite ok coming and going on my feet when my husband is travelling with the car for weeks on end! Uncaged: What did you consider your best marketing that you did for your book? What was the least successful? Word of mouth seems to have been my best advertisement tool so far. One or two of my releases were shared more widely than others on Twitter via friends and friends of friends, and that definitely translated to a spike in sales for a while. Twitter can be a great platform. But it can also be a killer. Facebook post-boosting was a complete flop for me. Uncaged: What is one of the most unusual things that a reader has said to you about your books? Well, just a few days ago my book Spice & Vanilla got a review that started by stating “Definitely in my top five for tear jerker, soul crusher, and heart destroyer.” That was a little alarming, but as it turned out the reader had really, really loved the deep, harrowing emotional journey in the story and rated it five stars. Whew! Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?

I am always busy with something. Sometimes I’m simply occupied by my homestead, but my favorite creative outlet lately are my pencil drawings. Sometimes these are intertwined with my own writing, and sometimes they are illustrations for other stories I love. Words and imagery always go together for me. My favorite place on Earth? Perhaps simply the forest and pastures surrounding my garden, where I do all my daily walks with my dog. They are both intimately familiar and endlessly magical. I find so much inspiration there. And other than that, I am blessed to live in one of the most beautiful regions in all of France, and surrounded by fantastic places I love… like the Chateau de Commarque, Rocamadour and Collonges La Rouge to name just my top three. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I am a builder. As in, building actual buildings, with my own actual hands, from the foundation to the roof. Perhaps it’s not really unique, but I suppose it’s fairly Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | unusual for a woman. I am passionate about natural building. Stone walls, sculptural cob structures, round-wood reciprocal roofs covered in grass… I love building structures that blend in their surroundings and are built from the materials that are already there, as if they sprouted organically from the place itself. I keep wanting to write a story about such a house… and its builder. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Every time someone leaves me a review or comment telling me that my writing or my characters touched them, I am honored, and grateful, and really thrilled, because I pour so much of myself in my books and the feedback of my readers is really wonderful to me. So, if you feel like giving any of my books a try, and like them, feel free to get in touch. I have a Facebook group with a wonderful fellow author and artist, Katerina Ross, where you can chat and find all my books news, snippets of writing, and free reads, and there is my blog where I ramble on about books and other things, or follow my Instagram account, especially if you are interested in my art and photography.

A Muse to Live For Katherine Wyvern Historical LGBT London, 1884 An artist lives to create. When Nathaniel’s urge to paint died, so did his will to live. Gabrielle.

Until the night he meets

Gabrielle may be just a poor prostitute, but she has the beauty of a Pre-Raphaelite stunner and the otherworldly aura of a fallen angel. She also 74 |

has a secret. Gabrielle is Gabriel, and when Gabriel’s dark past comes knocking and Gabrielle must abandon her new career as an artist’s model, Nathaniel’s whole world comes crashing down again. Better to die than living without her love, and the breathtaking creative drive she brought him. But it’s dead easy to die for a woman. Any fool can die for love. To live for it, that takes altogether more courage, doggedness, and imagination.

Because of the rules of my publisher, Issuu, I will not be publishing an excerpt. If you’d like to read the first chapter of this book for free, please click on the book where it will take you to Amazon where that is available. Uncaged will however, print a 5 Star review for this book below from an Amazon reviewer. A Haunting, Impossibly Lovely Book If this review is not as long as it should be, it’s because I couldn’t stop reading this book and now the day is almost gone. I hardly know where to begin praising it. First off: A Muse To Live For is pretty flawless historical fiction, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Secondly, it is every bit as gorgeous and dreamy as the pre-Raphaelite art that is so much a part of its plot; the prose is simply luminous. But it never goes over the top or gets self-conscious, which is a stunning accomplishment, really. Nathaniel and Gabriel/Gabrielle are wonderful main characters, and their two distinctive voices narrate this love story. Like Woman As A Foreign Language, also by Katherine Wyvern, this is a tale about the redemptive power of love. Imagine being gender fluid in the late nineteenth century, before there were words that “respectable” people could use for it. Gabrielle at the opening of this novel is a prostitute working presenting herself as a woman on the dan-

| KATHERINE WYVERN | gerous midnight streets of London, but at the end of the book...well, no spoilers. Likewise, Nathaniel learns that it is better to live for your muse than to die for her. The scenes evoking cramped, dark Victorian rooming houses are movie-in-your-head real, as are several really terrifying plot turns. And the blissful scenes in Europe are drenched with the purest kind of artist’s light. The characters are lovable and true--except for the ones who really and truly don’t deserve to be, and they are well-rendered in their evil. The love scenes flow naturally out of the plot. A Muse to Live For might not be quite as good as a vacation in the Italian countryside--but it comes pretty darn close. ~Amazon Reviewer

Don’t miss these titles:

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Join our team! Reviewer Bonuses! Become a reviewer for Uncaged and be entered in a drawing each month for a chance to win a $30 first draw bonus, or a $20 second draw bonus! For each accepted review turned in, you will receive an entry ticket! It’s that easy. The more you read, the more tickets you receive! Rules: 1) Uncaged will supply the book 2) Turn in an acceptable review 3) Receive an entry in the raffle bonus 4) Payout is PayPal only, sorry no conversions. Join our team!

fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author


A.H. Gilbert


Valerie Willis is a Fantasy Paranormal Romance author based out of Central Florida. She loves crafting novels with elements inspired by mythology, superstitions, legends, folklore, fairy tales and history. She received the Reader’s Favorite Bronze medal in ‘Fiction – Mythology’ and FAPA’s President’s Silver medal in ‘Fantasy/ Sci-fi.’ You can find her hosting workshops or a guest speaker at many events sharing her expertise in self-publishing, novel writing, research in fiction, worldbuilding, character development, book design, reader immersion and more. Her Award-Winning Dark Fantasy Paranormal Romance, ‘The Cedric Series,’ is a wonderful blend of genres that appeal to a wide-range of readers described as “dramatic, lustful, and fantasy fulfilling.” The motto here is: “No immortal is beyond the ailments of man” and that includes powerful creatures, demons, witches, and Gods. Many of the monsters present in the content is 78 |

derived from Medieval Bestiaries and adds a fun flavor of new yet deeply rooted assortment of creatures such as Coin Iotair, Shag Foal, Cynocephali, and many more. For Young Adult readers look for her Dark Urban Fantasy filled with coming-of-age and beyond life lessons, the ‘Tattooed Angels Trilogy.’ Hotan is a failed reincarnation and is becoming immortal against his will. Life is complicated and often we withdraw within ourselves and shut others out when life becomes hard. As the story unfolds, we learn the importance of opening up and asking for support in all its forms even beyond friends and family. Each immortal controls powers of nature like fire and wind or elements of humanity such as fear and judgment. You can often find Valerie hosting workshops about writing and self-publishing in the Orlando, Florida area or working on the next novel. She loves to inspire other writers and creative minds. Be sure to visit her blog for some of the writing advice she has to offer. Uniquely, she brings in a perspective that has influences from Game Development and Graphic Design.

| VALERIE WILLIS | cubine bloodline or true romantic emotions?Torn between his tragic past and his suicidal quest to kill his creator, Cedric and Angeline must learn to trust each other or lose themselves to the oncoming war. Enter a world with memorable antagonists like Succubus Queen Lillith, Romasanta the Father of Werewolves, Battle Goddess Badbh, and many more. Lose yourself to lores and history long forgotten from the 12th Century and beyond. Excerpt Enjoy an excerpt from Cedric, The Demonic Knight Cedric The Demonic Knight Valerie Willis Dark Fantasy/Paranormal For almost a century Lord Cedric has hunted the supernatural, hiding the fact he’s one of Sorceress Morrighan’s abominations. Fearful of others discovering his true nature, he weds the Lady of the Court, Angeline, after winning a tournament. The dormant magic in her veins overwhelms his senses, forcing him to realize she’s more than what she appears. He must ask himself: are his feelings a creation of his in-

They were a day shy of clearing the dense patch of forest. Camping out in the thick brush, Angeline had come across a large buck. A 10-12 pointer with shoulders as wide as a large stallion scrapped its antlers against the tree in the distance. Her heart thudded in her ears; this was going to be the largest kill she has ever taken down. Thinking over her studies, she took her time, identifying the different kill spots, choosing which would leave her the best chance to hit her mark. It was unclear how she was going to manage to drag the deer back to camp, but she was not going to let this one go. The fur was worth the effort alone, not including the amount of meat and use of the horns for new handles on her daggers. Drawing her arrow back, she paced herself. Deer were fickle, and utter silence was of the utmost importance. She was blessed to have started her life as a farmer’s daughter, learning the art of skinning, preserving, and more importantly, knowing the many ways to stitch the leathers to common goods. Snapping of a frozen branch caught the Buck’s attention as he drew his head high, eyes wide as his ears flicked about nervously. Squinting, holding back the cursing, she looked down at her feet expecting to see the branch she had leaned into, but found nothing. Crunching of the snow to her left sent her hair on end as a large paw rested there next to her. She could smell blood and dirt coming from the creature as it crouched in the shrubs close to her, clearly unaware of her presence. Her eyes Issue 32 | March 2019 |


| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | grew wide as she took in the sight of the chimera. The heat of its breath melted the snow in front of it, its massive lion’s head and mane crowned with four curving horns of a goat, its back half flowed out from its feline front into a split hooved creature. The tail whipped side to side as its scales glittered in the sunlight. The sight of the eyeless serpent’s head at its end made her bite her bottom lip until she tasted the iron of her blood across her tongue. Repeating lessons of stealth, she hoped to keep calm as her thoughts flew. Her lip remained in her mouth, fearing the smell of her blood would reveal her to the massive creature. The sound of something metallic caught her attention, and she saw that it wore a crude collar, buried in its mane. This was a sign that this creature belonged to the Sorceress Morrighan, and as she looked back to the large buck, it was obvious he was part of a pack. Two smaller chimeras were stalking on the other side of the deer, which stood stone still unaware of the glowing eyes approaching. Another pop of a branch from a smaller chimera sent the buck jolting towards her and the larger monster. With effortless grace, the beast pounced, shattering the antlers of the deer with one large aggressive bite. The three creatures fought over the deer, ravaging it across the snow, painting it a gruesome red in the sunlight. Slowly, she backed herself out of the shrubs, hoping that their prey and hunger kept them blind to any movement in the area. Panic was causing her to shake; she struggled to switch her focus from the chimeras to her feet. They were consuming the deer so fast. There was no way she could make enough distance to get away. Her shoulder bumped against a tree, and looking up, it became clear this was her only chance to remove herself from the immediate danger. Climbing as swift and silent as she could, she was thankful for her new rabbit fur gloves. Managing to get a good height up, she pulled her bow off her shoulders and readied herself just in case. A sensation of anger hit her and instinctually she 80 |

looked back towards the way of camp. She could see glimpses of Cedric’s red hair through the far off trees approaching. He had sensed her fear but could not possibly know the cause for it. Panicking, she whistled the bird song he had taught her in case of danger in order to warn each other. In the process, she neglected to prevent the spraying of blood from her lips. The chimeras froze and started sniffing the air in her direction, and Cedric broke into a run. Sucking her lip back into her mouth, she turned her focus on the chimeras smelling their way closer to the tree. Pulling the arrow back, she waited for the right moment to release it. She could feel Cedric getting closer, his anger adding to her anxiety. He broke through some shrubs, catching the attention of all three creatures, and she let her arrow free. It landed its mark into the largest chimera’s paw, bringing his attention back to her. This would give Cedric a chance to kill the others if she could keep the larger, stronger one’s attention. The tree shook, and snow-covered branches rained down around her to the ground, threatening to knock her off her perch. Another thud of its massive lion paws made her hug the trunk of the tree. Looking down did nothing to soothe her fears, as the flames rolled between its teeth. Chimeras were infamous for breathing fire and nowhere to go, she had to think fast. She sat on the branch and wrapped her legs as firmly around the limb. Locking her feet and ankles to one another, she readied her bow. Swinging upside down confused the chimera who mistook the motion as falling, cancelling his fire breath thinking to catch her in its jaws, opening his enormous mouth. This was just long enough for her to take aim and make her shot count. Roaring, it pawed at its mouth knocking into the tree, desperate to free its tongue of the arrow she had placed in it. According to the book of Rangers, an injury to the mouth will keep a fire breather from using this tactic. Now she struggled to right herself as the beast bashed itself against the trunk, still occupied with the arrow lodged in its tongue. A branch fell across her left hand, causing her to shriek. She flailed wildly, her legs losing their hold, her fingers possibly broken. The mixture of pain and pleasure was adding to her hysteria.

| VALERIE WILLIS | Cedric’s jaw twitched as he dropped his sword from the unexpected pain in his left hand. There was no time to waste, it was clear Angeline was not going to be able to recover her position on top of the branch after smashing her fingers. Running head on against one of the smaller chimeras, he picked it up with amazing strength and flung it into the larger beast. The two slid and rolled across the snow, and without missing a beat, Cedric launched himself up the tree. Angeline’s wild tear-filled eyes met his enraged green ones. There was a large jolt against the tree, and a large crackling like thunder roared from the bottom as it started to tilt and roll. Her legs slipped from the jerking and she braced herself. Catching her in time, Cedric gripped her waist hugging her close, and together they abandoned the falling tree. The pack of chimeras had regrouped quickly and rammed the tree in unison, breaking it at its base. They were fast and worked in union unlike the Hellhounds he had faced.

Don’t miss these titles

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Uncaged Reviews Phaze

S.C. Mitchell SciFi When Kayla Armstrong is attacked in her lab, she falls into a chemical stew. Now she’s walking through walls and falling through floors. As the leader of Xi Force, Joel Weisberg is always looking for new superheroes for his team. What he wasn’t looking for was sexy Kayla Armstrong falling through the ceiling of his apartment right into his bed. Still he isn’t complaining when the event finds him a new Xi Force member and a new love. Now she just needs some training and some time. But when an old enemy comes back with new powers and captures Joel, it’s up to Kayla to lead the Xi Force against her. But can they rescue Joel before he’s murdered . . . again?

Uncaged Review: The XI Force team are back with a vengeance with Joel being their new leader this time. But an old threat is starting trouble again. Someone Joel thought was out of his life for good. Just as he thought he was happy with lab worker Kayla, things go boom. This book can be read as a standalone book or as part of the series. Filled to the brim with SciFi gadgets and cool costumes this book packs a punch. Great action and there are wolves. What more could you ask for? This series is becoming increasingly more exciting to read. Reviewed by Jennifer

84 |

Silver Tongue Shayne Silvers Urban Fantasy Nate Temple has gotten away with a lot in recent years: cow-tipping the Minotaur, decimating a gang of weredragons, sucker-punching Angels, and eating pancakes with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He’s kidnapped one of the most powerful wizards on the planet and slaughtered the Brothers Grimm. Lady Luck has been very good to Nate Temple… Until now. Uncaged Review: This time out in Nate Temple’s world, it seems like a whole lot of bad-ass people are looking for the same thing, and they think Nate has it. If Nate thinks that his life is going to slow down and give him a breather, I think he’d better rethink those plans. This is a non-stop action urban fantasy that is smart, roller coaster ride with great characters and witty dialog. Mr. Silvers brings the mix of the supernatural and all the old fairy tales to life within the pages, but don’t be thinking of the Disney versions. I once said in another review, that these would make a perfect TV series or movies – but I’m not sure that they can get it right – but I’d be first to watch if they did. I’m going to hang out in Nate Temple’s world as long as Mr. Silvers keeps writing them. Reviewed by Cyrene

Maybe This Time Susan B. James Time Travel Romance Their Happily-Ever-After is over before it begins unless they can change time. Forty-nine-year-old actress Jennifer Knight would rather eat worms than face her first husband. But when her niece Kat accidentally time travels them to 1988, she needs his help. Lance Davies is more comfortable with computers than people. He never knew how to handle his beloved, mercurial Jen. But now her future self is here in front of him and he wants another chance. Jen finds herself torn. Her traitorous body insists that home is in Lance’s arms, but her heart has trust issues. Can two people whose timelines are thirteen years apart

Uncaged Review: A second chance romance features Jen Knight. An actress who is about to get a birthday present from her niece Kat that will leave her in a spin. This book was very enjoyable to read even with the whole time travel concept. I could see a little of Jen in myself. Plus there was a lot of funny one liners that made laugh out loud. Reviewed by Jennifer

The Dragon of New Orleans Genevieve Jack Urban Fantasy New Orleans: city of intrigue, supernatural secrets, and one enigmatic dragon. A deadly curse... For 300 years, Gabriel Blakemore has survived in New Orleans after a coup in his native realm of Paragon scattered him and his dragon siblings across the globe. Now a jealous suitor’s voodoo curse threatens to end his immortal existence. His only hope is to find an antidote, one that may rest in a mortal woman. Uncaged Review: Raven is dying from cancer – and her time is almost up when Gabriel visits her hospital room and pulls a tooth from his mouth and has a dying Raven swallow it – unknowingly bonding herself to a dragon. When she starts getting miraculously better, she thinks it was a dream. When he requests that she work for him, she agrees to help him. I loved this romance and I loved Gabriel and Raven. The romance burns slowly, and the suspense on if Raven can help save Gabriel will keep you glued to the pages. The author did a great job with not only the main characters, but with the secondary characters also. A few good twists that start in the back half of the book may surprise you. This is a series that I’ll be looking forward to reading more of. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Uncaged Reviews Love Me Love Me Knot Deb Lee Romantic Comedy

Silver Clouds Dirty Sky Orlando A. Sanchez Urban Fantasy

YouTube me once, shame on you. YouTube me twice, shame on me.

London Bridge is falling...but it’s not their fault...mostly. Montague and Strong have left the building-in fact, they’ve left the continent.

After her humiliating breakup goes viral, Sophie Dougherty must nurse a broken heart while attending a mandatory company training for work, which is taking place aboard a luxury cruise ship. For most, this sounds like a dream, but for Sophie, it quickly turns into a nightmare when . . . Uncaged Review: After her boss tells Sophie that her and her co-workers are all going on a team building event. She becomes overwhelmed after she hears the news that her ex is hosting this team building event. Sophie and him have some unfinished business to sort out. I liked this book it wasn’t you’re typical romance book. Sophie battles some health issues in this book and I think the author done a great job bringing them to attention. I would definitely read more by this author in the future. Reviewed by Jennifer

86 |

What could possibly go wrong? Uncaged Review: Whenever I get in a reading funk, all I have to do is pick up one of the urban fantasy favorites and dig in. It will pull me out every time, and this world and series is one I hate to leave whenever I get to the end and yanks me right out of any book hangover. Jumping right in after the end of book 3, we are tossed into the action from the first pages. Landing in London from the teleportation link, but Tristan is still be hunted and there is a mad man on the loose summoning demons, letting them loose on the city. The tests on Simon’s immortality curse will be tested – and he doesn’t like to die. I can’t recommend this series enough. If you like urban fantasy, this is a great one. From the seriousness of Tristan, the smart-ass dialog from Simon, and Peaches – the Hellhound with a bottomless pit of a stomach and all the supporting cast, you will be on a wild, original and thoroughly engaging ride that will have you strapped in from the first pages to the end. I’m catching up with you, Mr. Sanchez. Just two words for you: “write faster,” the next one is already on my Kindle. :) Reviewed by Cyrene

To Tame a Viscount Jenn Langston Historical Regency

Tanked Joshua C. Chadd Horror

Kaylee Shepherd knew there was much more to life than marriage when she’d left her stepbrother’s house to begin Lady Constance’s House of Reform three years ago. Now, more than ever, she is determined to experience everything she is able before she is too old to enjoy it. When Simon Highgate, Viscount Washburne, makes his interest in her known, she seizes the opportunity. One night with him is more than she could imagine and one she will never forget..

Allen Hook is your not-so-typical twenty-something-year-old dude living each day just to get by. He spends his time consuming copious amounts of alcohol and playing endless hours of video games. But when he’s not living every bachelor’s dream, he’s working a dead end job he detests more each day. He knows things need to change soon… and they do, the world ends. Now he spends his time fighting the undead as he tries to escape a crumbling Fort Collins.

Uncaged Review: Kaylee Shepherd works as an instructor at Lady Constance’s House Of Reform. Where ladies go to brush up on talents and men go to find a wife. Kaylee loves not being tied down by marriage and doing her own thing. But suddenly this is about to change. This is the second book in the Series but can be read as a standalone novel. Upon reading this as I started with book two it took me a while to get a grasp of the characters in this. Even with them only been briefly mentioned in the previous book. At times I did get annoyed with Kaylee as she was rather naive in certain circumstances. But soon redeemed herself. This was an enjoyable read and after reading a bonus sampler of book three. I’m excited to continue with this series. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Review: This is a good prequel to a series that didn’t drag, and actually is the first in a long time that has me interested in reading the first book in the series. The main character, Allen, aka Tank, is better equipped for the apocalypse than most, being a major video game player. When he gets involved with a group, they will have to find a way through a lot of obstacles and blocked roads of vehicles and the dead and undead. Trying to find his way north to his friends who prepared for a doomsday. This is a short, action packed read that isn’t sluggish, and you’ll find that Tank is someone you’d like on your side during an apocalypse. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Uncaged Reviews Beyond Forever

Rhonda Frankhouser Contemporary Wise beyond her thirty-three years, advice columnist, Lily Anne Fincher, relishes being the consummate wall on which everyone leans. It gives her life purpose and makes her feel needed and loved even when people ignore her advice. She never considers the possibility of her own happily ever after, until she catches the shy, handsome guy in a three-piece suit, watching her from behind a newspaper in the downstairs coffee shop. Determined not to allow anything to ruin their chance at forever, Lily ignores the signs of looming disaster. Is this the end of their fairy tale? Or just the beginning?

Uncaged Review: I’ve never read a book quite like this one. So emotional, so heartbreaking, so heartwarming. Just make sure you have a tissue box handy, because you will cry over the heartbreak, and over bittersweet moments, and over the love shared between Lily and Kisa. This is a sad story, but full of wonderful and beautiful moments. And even a happy ending, of sorts. One I re-read a couple of times. It will break your heart but it will also fill your soul. It will also give you hope – and warm your heart with an end that you wouldn’t see coming as you read. One thing this book will do, is not only dare you to put it down and quit reading, but it will also remind you that every day is a gift, and there are no guarantees. So truly live your life, don’t back out of it. And what I can say about this book, is don’t back down from the book either, keep going, even if you feel you can’t. After the author wrings you dry, she will give it all back in final chapters and have your heart soar. Five stars isn’t really enough. Reviewed by Cyrene

88 |

Fangs and Fairy Dust Joynell Schultz Urban Fantasy

When the shifters went public, the government hunted them to almost extinction. The vampires are smarter. They’ll stay hidden, even if the Blood Board’s second in command, Ryker, has to hunt down a rogue vampire all by himself. Uncaged Review: A shorter novella that can introduce you to the Angels of Sojourn series. Ryker is an older vampire, working for an organization called the Blood Board, that tracks and eliminates rogue vampires to keep their secrets safe. When he is tracking a rogue, he comes upon a survivor – and is determined to get information from her about the attack if he can. Little does he know, that she isn’t all that human herself, although she doesn’t know it yet. I liked the premise of the book and it has my interest for the series. This is easily a standalone and you don’t have to read the series to catch on, but it doesn’t waste a lot of pages with stuff it doesn’t need, so it never weighs down. This is a new-to-me author, and is now on my radar. Reviewed by Cyrene

Quiet Vapor

K.E. Landry YA/Dystopian Two will live. One may die. In a world where the State controls what you eat, where you live, and when you die, three students are about to find out just how far that goes. When Bree Carter finds out the ordinary school project she’s been working on will determine her work assignment for the rest of her life, she immediately tells her project group. They must make a choice: tell the rest of the class, even the school bully who doesn’t deserve to know, or use the knowledge to their own advantage.

Uncaged Review: This is a nice intro to a new Young Adult series that gives you a good feel for the world this author is building. It does not tell you enough about how the world came to be, but that will probably be better explored in the full length novels. What it does do, is give you a strong character lead in Bree, who is forced out of her own comfort zone to work within a group. Bree is also a champion of students that are relentlessly bullied. Secondary characters are well flushed out, and the novella does it’s job to interest the reader in reading more. Reviewed by Cyrene

The Merging

Logsdon & Young Urban Fantasy Las Vegas is getting rampaged by ubernaturals, and only one team has the guts to step in. Ian Dex is the captain of the Las Vegas Paranormal Police Department (PPD), the crew responsible for kicking the crap out of any supernatural stupid enough to mess with the Strip. He’s a cop, a millionaire, an amalgamite, and a horndog.

Uncaged Review: This urban fantasy kicks in pretty fast - and set in Las Vegas, because - well, why not? There is some fun comedic moments and good action sequences. To be honest though, I didn’t like Dex as much as the authors want the readers to. He’s a little full of himself but if that was toned down a bit, he’d be more likeable. In this series, the team is better together than apart, and the secondary characters are well thought out. I’m definitely going to continue on with the series to see where the authors lead us next. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Body of Ash Eli Constant Paranormal Fire, fire, burning higher, fairy better fight. Victoria’s a necromancer, fairy, Blood Queen… hot freaking mess. Her identity is so twisted up in supernatural nonsense, that all she wants to do is go back to embalming bodies and coffin brochures. Being in love should make things easier, but when your beau’s a bear and you’ve got a fairy suitor waiting in the wings, romance is just another complication.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This series just keeps getting better and better with each book. Victoria Cage is such a realistic character, embodying all that is relatable in today’s society as a woman. Between her ability to laugh at herself and find humor in the most inappropriate times to the way she deals with the unfortunate amount of curveballs life seems to throw at her, I adore this character and this entire series. One of the things I love about this series, aside from Tori, of course, is the way Constant has brought a different “hot topic” into each book. Bringing attention to the issue while not having it override the rest of the story, she brings awareness to uncomfortable topics in a way that people can relate to despite the difficulty of the discussion itself. The action in this book is both exciting and heartbreaking. I definitely got a little teary-eyed at least twice but I’m not sure if they were angry

90 |

or sad tears. Maybe both. The relationship between Tory, Kyle, and Liam is frustrating as all hell, but that’s to be expected. I’m not happy with Liam at the moment. Overall, this is another great book in a vastly underrated series. I guess some people just don’t know what they are missing and I’m happy to recommend it to anyone looking for a great read that doesn’t follow strict trope lines.

Listen to Me Now A.L. Nasser Horror/Occult After the success of his first novel, John Krik has struggled to come up with a follow up that his fans would eagerly gobble up. On a spur of the moment decision, John leaves his suburban married life to spend six months in an abandoned house in the quiet eerie town of Cafeville, where secrets lurk in every corner. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This is one of Nasser’s better books. I’m not saying his other books weren’t good, most of them were very good, but this is probably my favorite of his. It reminds me a bit of Stephen King’s The Shining. It’s rare for me to compare one author’s books to another, but in this case I will because they do share similarities but not so much that I would think this is a copy cat type thing, it most definitely isn’t.

I do wish there had been more talk of the history of things, but Nasser gives just enough details at the right time to keep the story moving along at a nice pace. I thought the action was good and occurred in the right places. I don’t love the title, but that’s ok, the book itself is so much more than the title anyway. I did love the cover though. Overall, this was a really good book by an author that hasn’t always made me 100% happy but has more than made up for it through his other books. I’ll keep reading this author as long as he keeps writing books of this caliber.

Soul Harvest Ron Ripley Horror Anthology Subject B will do anything to get his life back. But the dead have other plans… Kidnapped by the brilliant Professor Worthe, Vietnam vet Marcus Holt is forced to take part in a sadistic experiment. Worthe’s game has one objective: to see how much fear a man can survive. Now known as Subject B, Marcus is about to discover the answer to that question… Whether he likes it or not.

Each of the ghosts presented in Ripley’s stories come with a unique and terrifying back story. That’s one of the things I enjoy about his books. They are all twisted in unimaginable ways and carry their horrors over into their afterlives to inflict upon unsuspecting mortals. They are violent and disturbing, but I adore all of them. Obviously, some more than others, but I have yet to come across a ghost series with such a variety of characters. The ghost in Soul Harvest is different from all the others in past books because he doesn’t just kill his victims, he keeps their souls. I’m not sure if Worthe just didn’t do enough homework on this one, but regardless, it’s going to present problems for him, I’m sure. Abel Worth seems to be slipping. His experiment in fear doesn’t seem to be going in the direction he had necessarily hoped and, in my opinion, the stresses of that is starting to show. Between his subjects within the village not always responding in the way he thinks they will, to someone trying to sabotage his experiment from the inside, something has to give soon. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Soul Harvest is the 4th book in Ron Ripley’s Haunted Village series. It picks up pretty much where book 3, Butcher’s Hands left off. While I was left feeling somewhat underwhelmed by Butcher’s Hands, Soul Harvest didn’t disappoint.

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews The Haunting of Winchester Mansion Alexandria Clarke Horror/Occult In the small town of Black Bay, a vacant, forgotten house sits atop an overlooking bluff. When Bailey and Bodhi Taylor move in and begin renovations, the house seems perfect. But things move on their own, screams echo from the basement, and Bailey sees a shadowy figure out of the corner of her eye. Is the house haunted? And if it is, what does the ghost want with Bailey? Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Great series except for the cliffhangers at the end of each book. If I hadn’t bought the whole series at one time, I wouldn’t have continued reading. I like cliffhangers, don’t get me wrong but this was so abrupt, it was almost as if the author wrote the entire series and just cut it into pieces to make multiple books. Bailey and Bodhi are house fippers with a popular blog. They move to a tiny town to restore The Winchester Mansion. The previous owners and their 2 children mysteriously died in a boating accident and the house fell into disrepair. They were beloved by the whole town after bringing it back from the brink of bankruptcy, so the town mourned the loss of the family for years. Bailey and Bodhi are welcomed with open arms by the townspeople but when Bailey starts to experience the unusual, she starts to believe maybe there was something more sinister to their deaths than a simple accident.

92 |

There are plenty of twists and turns in this series, as well as mystery and emotional strife. The relationship between Bailey and Bodhi isn’t what it seems from the outside but as the series goes on, we learn where the problems lie and why. Overall, I truly enjoyed this series, but as I mentioned the cliffhangers where awful. At the end of each book, I may have uttered a quite few expletives, demonstrating my displeasure. The ending left me satisfied that everything was tied up in a neat little bow, even though parts of it were kind of sad.

Ring of Roses Sara Clancy Horror A mysterious island. An ancient plague. The doctors will see you now... On break from med school, Annabel and her sister Jezebel embark on a sight-seeing cruise off the coast of Italy. But their idyllic getaway comes to a terrifying halt with the sudden appearance of a violent storm. A collision with a mysterious ghost ship sends their boat to the bottom of the ocean, and strands the sisters and other survivors on a desolate island.

I’ve read some of this author’s other books and I think Ring of Roses is probably the only one I’ve felt disappointed by. If you don’t mind taking a chance on this author, I’d suggest trying out her other books first.

As Annabel tends to the survivors’ wounds, the storm forces them to seek shelter in the remains of an ancient medieval town. But they soon learn they are not alone. Bonfires choke the empty streets with smoke. Jezebel sees strange apparitions, visions she cannot explain. And when the abandoned town’s church bells toll, the island’s most terrifying secret of all is revealed... Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: For some reason I had a really hard time getting into this one. I got into it pretty well there for a while and then it just couldn’t hold my interest. I think the idea is awesome and this author’s creativity is to be commended. I just wasn’t able to connect enough with the story to truly enjoy it as much as I had hoped. There are plenty of characters in this story. They experience a shipwreck onto a weird island together, but that’s about all you know about most of them. There isn’t enough backstory going on for me to connect with any of it, and I’m pretty sure that’s a big part of where I ran into trouble with it.

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews

Revolt of the Dead Keith Gouveia Horror Two friends. An ancient book. One heck of a problem. Best buds Barry and Shawn hate going to school. Well, that’s not exactly true. They go, but it isn’t the most pleasant place to be, especially when Mitch Johnson makes a fool of Shawn in front of everyone. Myra’s Review: Shawn and Barry are normal teenagers; a bit awkward, not popular, but not on the bottom rung in high school. A bully, Mitch, bothers them regularly, but they chose to ignore him. It’s Halloween and they are looking for a way to scare their classmates. They stumble across an old book hidden in the library and Shawn starts reading it. He tells Barry it can raise the dead, and he wants to try it at the cemetery. Barry doesn’t want to go but does anyway. Shawn plans on raising one or two dead people to frighten the party goers. When the dead do actually start to come out of their graves, the friends are shocked. Barry runs but can’t get his friend to follow. Shawn is convinced he can control the ghouls, but they don’t obey and attack him. Barry flees home and hides under his bed. Later, he hears something in the house and can tell his par94 |

ents are being attacked. He discovers their devoured corpses in the morning and leaves. Barry meets a man, Eddie, who shows him the dead can only be “killed” by destroying the brain. The government message on TV explains that intense heat is the only sure way to destroy the zombies. Also, that the residents in that area of Florida have been quarantined and anyone still alive needs to make it to the constructed wall. The military will nuke the place in hours. It’s a race against time as Barry tries to escape and keep from being eaten. Eddie left him and Barry stops to help two strangers. Clearly, though a teen, Barry is made of better “stuff”. He is determined to get the injured Richard and his wife Denise to safety. After many run-ins with the undead, he makes it to the wall with Denise. Richard was shot by soldiers guarding the wall when they saw he had been bitten. After a nuke rocks the city, soldiers go out with Hazmat suits on, carrying flamethrowers, to dispatch of any zombies not burned up by the blast. Barry wants to find and annihilate his old friend Shawn, who he’d run into while inside the quarantine area. Shawn is a zombie and has to be stopped; he is giddy and wishing to spread the undead plague. Barry encounters Mitch inside the safe area, and ironically it is the bully who sneaks out with Barry to help on his mission. They put on suits and slip out with the soldiers. The two do find Shawn and manage to burn him up with flamethrowers they’d borrowed. Barry sees the book snuggled inside Shawn’s ribcage and grabs it. But spying what Barry holds, the General takes it from him, assuring the kid the government will take

care of it. Hmm, I see undead soldiers in the future! It seems we, the reader, are inside a child’s mind when the plot turns to the government very quickly making the decision to destroy everything inside the quarantine area. Government moves slowllly! As anyone who has been in the military knows, one of the favorite sayings is “Hurry and wait.” So the soldiers would be guarding, but would have to wait some time to receive a decision about what to do in this situation. That’s my two cents on that topic. Reminds me of the 1970’s movie “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”. People should never utter incantations in a graveyard. While not a top notch read, it was a fun one.

Before Safe Haven - Lucy Christopher Artinian Horror A virus has infected billions all over the world, turning its victims into vicious zombies. The UK and Ireland have remained uninfected...until now. Lucy Blair is an American doctor stationed at a field hospital outside the quarantined city of Leeds. Each day she hears more rumours circulating about the virus spreading. Each day she plays her part in the vast mechanism that has been constructed by the British government to safeguard the population. Myra’s Review: The world is being devastated by a disease. So far the UK’s precautions and isolation have paid off – they have managed to control the zombie outbreak. People are told to stay home or in government sanctioned shelters; there are curfews and food distribution. Lucy, a doctor, is assigned to work with a nurse, Samantha. They are sent out daily to check on civilians whenever a possible infected person is found.

The individual is checked for bites, fever and blood samples taken. Anyone who is bitten by an infected will turn and are put down by the soldiers in attendance. Lucy is barely hanging on and addicted to oxycodone. Having lost her precious daughter 3 years earlier in a car accident, she has horrible nightmares every night, in which Charlie has turned into a zombie and attacks her. Lucy is a good person but the sense of impending doom hangs over her every waking moment. In the beginning, government officials kept her base updated with reports; how the UK was doing compared to the rest of the world, food stockpiles, and other pertinent information. Now only orders and directives were getting through, convincing Lucy that things are getting worse. While out on the latest call, the ambulance crew encounter several infected (called RAMS for reanimated corpses) on the street, eating a policewoman. This is shocking; it’s the first time her team has witnessed such an occurrence. When Lucy returns to the base camp, she becomes even more anxious when she overhears soldiers discussing multiple cities having outbreaks. Later, on another run, the ambulance comes across many zombies, and as they flee, more and more emerge onto the streets. Looking for a safe place, they head to one of the large shelters, unfortunately upon arrival, they find bodies lying everywhere. After inspecting the dead, who are composed of civilians and soldiers, they realize raiders had attacked. As they leave, they are chased by raiders. When the soldiers assigned as guards on the ambulance confront the killers, they are gunned down. Lucy and Samantha are alone and scared witless. Luckily, they manage to evade the raiders. The two women travel the streets, avoiding the undead, trying to figure out where to go. Command control back at their base doesn’t answer and they fear it has been overrun. Finally, Samantha suggests they go to her friend Mike’s house. He is strong and honorable, so they hope for a secure hide out. Although only a novella, this story is packed with angst and action. The tension is palpable. This is a great introduction to the Safe Haven series and I look forward to reading it now.

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews The Fear Charlie Higson Horror The sickness infected everyone sixteen and over, and no one escaped its terror. Now kids all over London are forming alliegances and battling grown-ups in order to survive. But who is a friend and who is an enemy? Myra’s Review: When I bought this book, I didn’t realize it was the 3rd in the series. It works find as a standalone, you just need to “read between the lines”. The story takes place in Britain. The characters use some historically significant places to survive – The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Natural History Museum and others. First, let’s look at the horror which is the core running through this story; the grownups. All people over 16 caught a disease that turned them into savage cannibals. The infected are not zombies, they eventually die, but still there are essentially zombies. The affected are confused at first and sprout sores on their bodies, but then they begin to decay, including their brains. The children call them “fathers and mothers”. I am guessing this was a nickname conceived in the first book, indicating all female and male adults. Sadly, every surviving child had a parent(s) turn into monsters, or some other adult in their life. DogNut and a few friends, who are part of the Tower of London community, decide to search for Brooke, who got separated from them in the last book. They also have been curious about this part of London; is it overwhelmed with sickos or have the children survived? Using a boat on the river, the group makes it close to Buckingham Palace. David leads the kids in the palace. They 96 |

have a good set up; food and security. Something doesn’t smell right to DogNut though. He feels that if they stay, David may not let them leave. Actually, he is correct - David has already directed his “officers” to detain them. The friends slip away, discovering Brooke in the Natural History Museum. The children at the museum are the best organized group in London. Leaders are elected, and Justin is the top one. Warning: this book is filled with disgusting scenes depicting children being eaten. I am not criticizing - it is unfortunately the horrific world the children have inherited. The most terrifying character was an infected man. He is a huge monstrosity and his house is over stuffed with hoarded items. Also, he collects children and when he tires of “playing” with his toys, he devours them. While running from a mob of infected, DogNut and his friends unfortunately seek shelter in the worst house imaginable – the one belonging to the giant. They find several dismembered children and desperately search for a way out. The trash creates mazes, which were a nightmare to navigate, but they do escape. There’s a surprise ending which made me crack a smile. David had planned something really nasty for the kids at the museum. But his plans backfired and he was going to receive the same treatment on his home that he had planned for his rivals. Lots of action, with children surviving or not, against a deadly enemy. While there are many sad moments, there are many uplifting ones as well, with heroic children fighting to survive. A recommended read for zombie lovers and those who are looking for something different in the genre. Shades of Lord of the Flies, with some characters displaying more humanity then you might expect from children in such circumstances.

Generation Z Peter Meredith Horror It’s been twelve years since the undead hordes swept over the earth forcing mankind to the brink of extinction. We now live like rats, scavenging in the ruins of our fallen civilization as the dead hunt us night and day.

Myra’s Review: We’re introduced to several main characters living different lives. Jenn and Stu abide on land in the Hill People community, while Mike lives with the Islanders on Alcatraz. Jenn’s life is run by her belief in signs and the supernatural. The leaders of the Hill community are called the Coven, dictating life by signs and omens. The Coven and poor Jenn also believe she is bad luck. We follow Jenn through her daily routines, like gathering wood or checking her traps for game. But nothing in her life is ordinary. The world is still filled with zombies, ones that continue to grow as they age, many 8 feet tall. Jenn is a very capable fighter and takes down the dead whenever she can. Jenn and Stu are sent to the Island to facilitate trade, but unbeknownst to the two teens, the Coven has an ulterior motive - Mike and Jenn are to be married. No woman is left alone in this world, especially young ones. When several members of Jenn’s community are injured, she decides to search for a girl doctor rumored to live near Seattle. Stu and Mike insist on going with her. They know Mike’s smaller craft won’t make an ocean crossing; hence they “borrow” the largest boat the Islanders’ own. All three realize they will not be welcomed back into their communities unless they find antibiotics and the doctor.

injured earlier aboard their boat, and miraculously the girl doctor, Jillybean, lives at the community and takes care of him. Jillybean is a shocking surprise, pretty and around 18 years old. The friends slowly discover she is a genius, but also has multiple personalities. The “mad” doctor wants to go with them and helps the three escape on a skiff. They don’t know how she hopes to make a journey on the small boat and are shocked when Jillybean unveils her plot to take a Corsair ship. Stealing form the most dangerous slaver pirates is crazy, but with Jillybean’s strategies they do snag a boat. The ship barely keeps ahead of the pirates, who trail them all the way to the Hill community. With the doctor, Jenn creates a plan to use the zombies to attack the Corsairs. I loved the end when Jenn comes into her own; taking over as leader and telling the Coven what to do. She finally also realizes her love for Mike. I have not followed The Apocalypse: The Undead World series, where we were introduced to Neil, but have been meaning to. I loved Neil’s character, so I was very interested in seeing him in this one. I was shocked to discover Jillybean was Sadie. This gives me more incentive to go back to this series. Recommended for zombie fans and those who follow Peter Meredith’s work.

After a hazardous journey, they stumble across a wellfortified community. It reminds them of the “before time” – people look well-fed and their clothes are clean, there is electricity and running water. Stu was

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Back to Serve Cesare Giannetti War Fiction Back to Serve is a fictional memoir about a soon-to-beretired army captain, Nico Corretti, who after a career in the military is ready to begin his civilian life with his family. But first, he must out-process and then drive halfway across the country to get home, during which he has an improbable encounter with a Russian woman who informs him that his safety and his postservice stability may be in jeopardy. Amy’s Review: Magnificent Story Giannetti pens a magnificent story in Back to Serve: Return of a Soldier. I really enjoyed this page-turner, as there was something about the reality of the world and plot, and how it brought history to life. Even tragic history. Giannetti has a unique writing style, and I’m sure his writing fits his voice, as there were some phrases that were unfamiliar to me, but fit with the story and storyteller. I am honored to read this work from Giannetti, and will definitely read more. Any reader can tell this not only came from experiences, but also from the heart. Giannetti writes “I got a lump in my throat and knot in my stomach. All I could think about was the men I had lost in my unit, who had not made it home. The woman smiled politely as she handed me the trifold American Flag ...” Now, time to read more of Giannetti’s work.

98 |

Justice Gone N. Lombardi Jr. Legal Thriller When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Amy’s Review: Powerful and Gritty Lombardi pens a magnificent story in Justice Gone. This story is intense and filled with drama and violence. This story has many layers and plot points, and the characters have that great depth that lends to the telling of the story. “Alone, torture. With others, torture. Whatever you do, whoever you’re with, wherever you are, the torture doesn’t leave you.” Lombardi shows a great, intense story that unfortunately happens in the world. Darfield is one character that soon won’t be forgotten. I look forward to reading more by this author.

All Thy Sons K.M. Breakey Political Fiction Life’s unfolding on schedule for Tony Fierro. Raised in Vancouver by a loving Catholic family, he’s blessed with good looks and self-confidence to burn. He gets the job. He woos the girl. He has the world by the tail.

Amy’s Review: Simply magnificent Breakey pens a magnificent story in All Thy Sons. This book was one of those thrilling-edge-of-yourseat journeys. I enjoyed the main character Tony, who has a lot of depth and different levels. Tony and Ivan are two different characters who look at the world differently and want to live their lives in the world. Breakey brings the dynamic destruction of the world and its impending demise into the main focus of the story and how it interacts with its characters. This story is written dramatically and thrilling. This is one of those page-turners I won’t soon forget. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Alexandria BDL Biographical Fiction Get lost in an enveloping epic tale about an iconic celebrity of the twenty-first century whose autobiography inspires a dynamic patriotic resistance against a full-fledged Judeo-Christophobic America. Alexandria: World Class Life Story is a riveting hypothetical drama that details her amazing life set in a dystopic America paralleled by a resulting dedication to salvaging her beloved nation from doom. Amy’s Review: Magnificently written BDL pens a magnificent story in Alexandria: World Class Life Story. It’s a unique story that brings to life Alexandria and faith. The story is well put together and the characters have a great depth. This was definitely a page-turner. The story has hints of adventure, and dystopic politics, and it was something I had to read from beginning to end. Adventure in destruction and revolution. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Corruption Nick Wilford Young Adult/Dystopian Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible have found themselves in a position where they can make their native land somewhere that lives up to its name: Harmonia. However, they’re setting their sights further afield for their number one task: eradicating the disease that has plagued the neighbouring country of Loretania for generations and allowed the privileged Harmonians to live in a sterile environment. Amy’s Review: Remarkable Sequel I read the first book in the series, Black & White, and enjoyed it. I do believe that this one is better than that one, and that’s saying a lot. This book is part 2, and Wilford tells a great story. Wilford has a writing style and imagination that I enjoy. The characters, Wellesbury and Ezmerelda “Ez” have a great chemistry and are now on a new journey and have to face a villain that is a disease. It’s both dark and heartfelt, and a magnificent journey that makes me look forward to the next one in this advertised trilogy.

100 |

Thorne Bay Jeanine Croft Young Adult/Paranormal

Disillusioned and aimless, Evan Spencer makes a pact with herself. To follow wherever the finger of destiny points. Even if that means heading to some obscure Alaskan town she’s never heard of. A place where the primal beauty of the backwoods is rivaled only by a certain pair of steely green eyes. But Thorne Bay has a dark side. It’s not just rumors and wary gazes that shadow the darkly alluring Tristan and his reclusive family.

Amy’s Review: Magnificent Story Croft pens a magnificent story with Thorne Bay. I enjoyed this book from the beginning and was introduced to Evan Spencer, a great character who embarks on a new adventure. This book is filled with ups and downs, and the author brings her imagination to life. It’s well-written and characters as Evan and her love interest, Tristan have great depth and character. The characters don’t feel forced, and feel very natural. It’s one of those stories that is hard to put down. This may be my first book I’ve read by Croft, but it won’t be my last.

Cocktail with a Dead Man Joe Albanese Poetry

Shift of Destiny Carol Van Natta Paranormal Suspense

These poems leave no doubt in our minds that the poet is a great artist and poet by birth. The poet’s mastery of words is remarkable and incomparable. All these poems reveal the concrete and artistic expression of the poet’s various moods and emotions.

There is no such thing as magic, or sexy shifters. Or… is there?

Amy’s Review: A wonderful prose collection Albanese certainly knows how to write a poem, and this collection shows that talent and thought behind each one. I’ve read each one carefully and aloud, as I find that brings the poetry to life, and you can hear your own voice speak the talented words of this poet. One of my favorites was “Echo Knives” and I’ve read it several times. “Act III is all that remains of hollow halls. How it got to those haunts—redacted, breathing in only its echoes. Kindred lacks the identical; identity conforms through misinterpretation ...” Simply wonderful collection. I look forward to reading more prose by this poet.

Moira Graham’s car breaks down in the tourist town of Kotoyeesinay, Wyoming. She’s on the run. Again. A crazy billionaire wants to possess her ability to predict the future, but it’s not a “gift.” It’s simple guesswork. Magic doesn’t exist. And this quirky town—which uses elves, fortune tellers, and fairytale gimmicks to draw tourists in—isn’t helping. Amy’s Review: A great second story Van Natta brings Shift of Destiny to her Ice Age Shifters series as book 2. Now, it’s a new story and introduces the readers to Moira, as the story just gets started. Yes, it’s a magical shifter story but it brings a sense of realism with its characters and their chemistry. I enjoyed reading this and getting to know the characters that interconnect with each other. A great second story, and I know there is more, so I’ll just have to keep reading Van Natta’s work. A wonderfully grand second story by a talented storyteller.

Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Jen’s Book Reviews Revenge of the Fae Carly Fall Urban Fantasy

Blood of the Fae Carly Fall Urban Fantasy

A Fae hell-bent on Revenge. A shifter prison guard searching for answers. And a dangerous path to cross.

Someone is murdering the Fae … and Avery may be next on their list

When a family member is murdered, Avery Dubois is led to believe the murderer isn’t human. But her wildly dangerous journey for the truth ends when she is thrown into solitary confinement in a paranormal penitentiary. Jen’s Review: Avery is a mutt which is half human have paranormal being. To make things easier she is a fae which is a fairy of sorts. Even with Avery processing this power she trys very hard to lead a normal life. After being the object of a attempted sexual assault she trys to live a normal life. Until Avery is thrown into a catastrophic event which ls life changing for her. This book was very enjoyable and fast paced with killer action. I’m delighted to have read this and will be moving on to book two of the series swiftly.

When Avery’s long-lost father shows up in Seattle, Washington, he warns her that her being halfFae has placed her in grave danger. Once again, she’s thrust into the drama of the paranormal world she’s tried to avoid.

Jen’s Review: Avery the half Fae and Gabe the were shifter are back with a vengeance. Just when Avery is starting to feel normal again and the dust has settled a little. Gabe shows up once again with a urgent message for her. Once again this book was a very emotional and enjoyable read. With a few plot twists I didn’t see coming. I really love Gave and Avery’s Chemistry and the way they are a kickass duo. This book has me like before switching to book three of this series quickly. I just can’t get enough of this world. Book two can be read as part of the series. Or as a standalone book.

Visit Jen on Goodreads 102 |

Kiss of the Fae Carly Fall Urban Fantasy Blood might be thicker than water, but it’s not thicker than the truth. The vampires of Seattle are dying, and everyone believes Avery’s father is responsible. But when she finally agrees to help discover who is framing him, she’s confronted with a reality she doesn’t want to face. Jen’s Review: Avery and Gabe are caught up in a case which means everything to Avery. Her Father is in trouble once again. This time it could lead to dire consequences. It’s nice to see this story ark developing with all the characters throughout each book. The writer does a good job of wanting to keep you enjoying and focused on each book in hand while eagerly awaiting the next instalment in the series. I will definitely be continuing with this series as I feel like I’m a team member with Avery and Gabe etc. Each book can be read as part of the series or as a standalone book.

The Elemental Coven Kayla Krantz Young Adult/Fantasy With the Land of Five being systematically torn apart by war, Ignis witch, Lilith Lace, has a number of problems before her. Captured in the Battle of Ignis by The Elemental Coven, she must deal with the recent deaths of her loved ones as a prisoner of war. Mind torn between escaping and giving up completely, Lilith is presented with a new surprise—infamous rouge witch, Willow, is not only alive and well but has a larger role in Lilith’s childhood accident than she ever imagined. Jen’s Review: After Lilith is captured by the Elemental Coven in the battle of Ignis. She must find a way to cope with the aftermath of the war. Lillith is confronted with her sister willow someone she has mixed views about seeing. This book was very action packed and focused on a lot of drama. Leading to a cliffhanger for book three. I would really recommend reading these books in order. As to enjoy them more. But can be read as a standalone book. Just the wait to 2020 for book three now.

Visit Jen on Goodreads Issue 32 | March 2019 |


Do you have a short story that you’d like published in Uncaged? Uncaged is now accepting short stories - in return, Uncaged will provide ONE FULL PAGE to promote up to 3 books from the author, OR a free Sneak Peek promotion!

Guidelines: • Must be PG/PG-13 rated per Issuu’s Terms of Use • Must be approved • Free promotion will be scheduled for the same month as the short story • Submit the story or any questions to

Submit your story today!

Profile for Cyrene

Uncaged Book Reviews  

March, 2019 - Issue 32 Feature Authors: Isobel Blackthorn, James Murphy, Katherine Wyvern, Lacee Hightower, L. Salt, Tabetha Waite, Barbara...

Uncaged Book Reviews  

March, 2019 - Issue 32 Feature Authors: Isobel Blackthorn, James Murphy, Katherine Wyvern, Lacee Hightower, L. Salt, Tabetha Waite, Barbara...