__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

ISSUE 41 | DECEMBER 2019


note from the editor

D

ecember is upon us, and so is the holiday season. Hallmark movies, shopping deals, Christmas trees, cards and decorations all abound. Here in Wisconsin the weather has been mild so far, pretty sure that will change if history is anything to go by. :)

I n J u ly , t h is w il l b E m a il me to e a new ad s reserv e your pace. s lo t .

This month we have stuck pretty close to the holiday theme - with some romances that would be terrific additions to your reading list while you stay warm this year and take a break from all the holiday stresses. There is also a political thriller that may get you thinking.

can certainly do more.

Our special this month, is something we’ve never done before. With the release of the box set, Lady It’s Cold Outside - the authors have come to Uncaged for a multi-author feature. Hope you will enjoy it and you pick up the box set this year.

The magazine has a new monthly section for authors and their pets! Each month, the Featured Authors will be highlighted with their furry pals in a section separate from their feature slot. You will also get a bit of insight into my life as I feature one each month of my own.

Amanda Mariel has graced us with a Holiday Short Story, so make sure to read it, and just maybe you’ll find a new favorite author in her writing.

Enjoy the December issue of Uncaged Book Reviews and have a great month.

Uncaged still has an opening in our blog review group. If you have a blog and you review books and would like to get more exposure for your reviews, then shoot me an email. The only requirement is to review 4 books minimum although you

4| uncagedbooks.com

X cyrene


contents

specialfeature Lady It’s Cold Outside 12 Uncaged talks to the authors behind this regency

Issue 41 | December 2019

FangFreakinTastic

112

Rue Volley young adult/paranormal/occult

holiday box set

catchup

featureauthors Ellen Mint 50 contemporary romance 58

Barbra Campbell

68

Linda Bradley

86

Craig DiLouie

Deborah Garland Deborah Garland gives us a preview of her latest release: Matching Bloodlines

92 Ginger Ring

Ginger Ring talks about the re-release of a book and Wild Deadwood Reads convention in 2020

contemporary romance

western holiday romance

political thriller

96

holidayshortstory 77 Miracle on Castle Street by Amanda Mariel

Reina Torres

paranormal romance

104

Elyzabeth M. VaLey

3 Uncaged Pre-made Covers

paranormal holiday romance

authors and their pets

64

42

Uncaged’s Feature Authors introduce you to their devoted writing buddies, and the devotion goes both ways.

4 7 118 126 130

Note from the Editor Contributors|Swaps Uncaged Reviews Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

5


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 UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 36 | July 2019 |

7


upcomingconventions

Wild Wicked Weekend February 20-22, 2020 San Antonio, TX http://thewildwickedweekend.com/

Coastal Magic February 20–23, Daytona Beach, FL https://coastalmagicconvention.com/

Romancing Williamsburg March 18-22, Colonial Willamsburg, VA https://romancingwilliamsburg.com/

8| uncagedbooks.com |

Book Lovers Con March 18–22, Nashville,TN https://www.bookloverscon.com/

Apollycon March 26-29, Washington, D.C. https://apollyconevent.com/

A Weekend with the Authors April 16–19, Nashville,TN http://www.aweekendwiththeauthors.com/


l a i c e p

S

feature authors

regency historical holiday box set

J a n e Charles | Sandra Sookoo | Tabetha Waite Dawn Brower | Nadine Millard | Anna St. Claire Annabelle Anders | Christina McKnight


AMANDA M A RIE L

Uncaged welcomes Amanda Mariel Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? It’s fantastic! I love collaborating with other authors and this particular group of ladies is amazing. Would you do it again? Absolutely! Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about?

U

SA Today Bestselling author Amanda Mariel dreams of days gone by when life moved at a slower pace. She enjoys taking pen to paper and exploring historical time periods through her imagination and the written word. When she is not writing she can be found reading, crocheting, traveling, practicing her photography skills, or spending time with her family.

I have several releasing coming during the next couple of months. A Roguish Christmas is a multi author box set that releases Nov 26th. After that, I have Christmas at Fortuna’s Parlor which is a duo of new Christmas shorts by myself and Dawn Brower. It is a fun bonus installment in our Scandal Meets Love series. My next solo release is Forever in Your Arms, coming December 28th from WolfeBane Publishing. It is book 3 in my Mists of Babylon series as well as the final book in the series.Then Believe in Love will release January 21st. It is book 5 in the Scandal Meets Love series and is on preorder now. It is going to be a super exciting next few months! Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process?

amandamariel.com

Oh yes! For me it usually comes down to adding rather than deleting. Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal

12 | UncagedBooks.com


D aw n brower

you are working toward? I do and I am so blessed to be able to. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I design cover art, read, bake, and spend time with my family among other things. My daughter and I have been on a cupcake kick of late and have been selecting a different recipe to try each week. We started with apple cider cupcakes-they were delicious! Our next recipe to try is banana split cupcakes. A twist of fate…. Determined not to grow old alone, Daphne takes fate into her own hands. Marcus made her a promise years ago, and she’s ready for him to make good on it. He would give Daphne her first kiss once she was of an appropriate age. Not one to turn down a beautiful woman, he delivers on the promise. One passionate moment that neither will soon forget, but how could either of them have guessed where one stolen moment would lead?

U

SA TODAY Bestselling author, DAWN BROWER writes both historical and contemporary romance. There are always stories inside her head; she just never thought she could make them come to life. That creativity has finally found an outlet. Growing up she was the only girl out of six children. She raised two boys into productive young men. There is never a dull moment in her life. Reading books is her favorite hobby and she loves all genres.

authordawnbrower.com

Available Now Issue 41 | December 2019 |

13


| FEATURE AUTHORS | Uncaged welcomes Dawn Brower Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? Would you do it again? It has been wonderful. Everything is well organized. I love how much we support and encourage each other. I am blessed to work with so many brilliant authors. Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about? I have several things releasing in November and December. It’s a busy time of the year! In November I have Diamonds Don’t Cry, Lady It’s Cold Outside, A Roguish Christmas, and Loving an American Spy. In December I have How to Kiss a Debutante and Christmas at Fortuna’s Parlor. I’m excited for all of these releases, but I’m especially excited for Loving an American Spy and How to Kiss a Debutante. Those two books are part of my Marsden Descendants series which is a spin off from the Marsden Romances that launched my career as a writer. Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process? I add far more than I cut in editing. Anything cut isn’t more than a sentence in length. Additions though can be quite lengthy. Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal you are working toward? I do for the most part. I do work as a substitute teacher, but it isn’t more than a couple days of the week. I mainly still do this to make myself leave the house and socialize. Otherwise I might become a hermit that never leaves my office.

14 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncaged:What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? There is a lot that goes into producing a book. The cover, marketing, formatting… So when I’m not writing I’m doing stuff like that. I’m always working it seems. Listening to audiobooks for approval also takes a lot of time, lol. But for fun…I will watch certain shows with my son that we follow or read if I can squeeze the time in. I have to schedule “breaks” or I will work myself to death.

William Collins never wanted to leave the comforts of Lilimar, his home. One day the plantation would be his, and he’d poured his heart and soul into making it thrive. War breaks out around the world, and it becomes clear that he has to do his part for his country. If he has any hope of living the life he dreamed of, he first has to find peace to do it. So he enlists as a gentleman spy and throws himself into danger without a second thought. Victoria Grant is the daughter of a vicar. She has a strong sense of duty and trained as a nurse. When her country is thrown into war, she steps forward to join other nurses in tending to the wounded. She travels from camp to camp and helps where she is needed. On a train to France, she encounters an American gentleman, and an unlikely friendship forms between them.

Available Now


ja n e charles

| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE | Uncaged welcomes Jane Charles Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? Would you do it again? I loved being involved with this project. These ladies are great to work with and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about?

U

SA Today Bestselling Author Jane Charles lives in the Midwest with her former marine, police officer husband. As a child she would more likely be found outside with a baseball than a book in her hand, until one day, out of boredom on a long road trip, she borrowed her sister’s romance novel and fell in love. Her life is filled with three amazing children, adorable grandchild, two dogs, a cat, community theatre, and traveling whenever possible. Jane writes historical romances set in the Regency Era.

My next novel to be release is “Lady Hannah’s Holiday” which is the fifth book in my Spirited Storms series. Lady Hannah accepts the opportunity to act as companion and sail to Barbados where her brother also lives. Her motivation is to be as far away from her matchmaking great uncle, the Duke of Danby. There she encounters the one gentleman Danby has forbidden her from ever considering and Lady Hannah has every intention of denying his dictate. Ashton Grell, the Marquess of Wingate sailed to Barbados to visit family unbeknownst to him that the lady he’d sought last spring was also visiting. Unfortunately, his circumstances have since changed, and he is no longer in a position to pursue her, let alone offer marriage. Lady Hannah’s Holiday will be available in the Spring of 2020. Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process? Always! I’m not a plotter and type as the story comes to me, which often means going back to add or delete based on how the story evolved. Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal you are working toward?

janecharlesauthor.com

I’ve gone from working full-time to writing fulltime to working part-time at the original job. I returned temporarily to fill my original position. That was five years ago but remained because I enjoyed working outside of the home. However, early next year, I will return to writing full-time once again. Issue 41 | December 2019 |

15


| FEATURE AUTHORS | Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

a n n a s t. cla i r e

I love community theatre! We have two wonderful, local theatres that I love being a part of. At one I am in charge of the hair and makeup department and often design for different productions. Next year I’ve already committed to five separate shows. I’ve also been lucky enough to direct shows over the past eight years and it is just as much fun putting characters on stage as it is on the pages.

7

A

Historical Christmas Romances in one boxed set!

nna St. Claire is an avid reader, and now author, of both American and British historical romance. She and her husband live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their two dogs and often, their two beautiful granddaughters, who live nearby. Anna relocated from New York to the Carolinas as a child. Her mother, a retired English and History teacher, always encouraged Anna’s interest in writing, after discovering short stories she would write in her spare time. Her fascination with history and reading led her to her first historical romance—Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind. The day she discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss,’ books, Shanna and Ashes In The Wind, Anna became hooked. She read every historical romance that came her way.

Available Now annastclaire.com 16 | UncagedBooks.com


Uncaged welcomes Anna St. Claire Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? Would you do it again? It was SO much fun. Working with Amanda and these other amazingly talented ladies was easy. I’ve made some great friends and have gained so much through this relationship and would 100% do it again! In fact, I AM doing it again with lots upcoming for 2020 :) Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about? I’m part of the Common Elements Group. We have over seventy authors who have come together to write and release new stories--all with five common elments. [ Lost keys, a stack of thick books, a lightning storm, a haunted house (really haunted or rumored to be), and a person named Max.] My book, The Earl She Left Behind will be released in January. This is a story of second-chance love. Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process? Editors certainly earn their money! And yes, I have had scenes added and deleted--always to the betterment of the work. I will add, it kills me to cut a scene. <grimacing> Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal you are working toward? I do not. But it is truly a goal. Right now, I juggle a couple of part time jobs with my writing job. When I think of storylines, I put them into my notes section of my phone. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE | ing care of my grandchildren--spending time with them is very important.

Maggie Winters had everything she always wished for — betrothed to the man of her dreams, a loving home, and a new puppy. But it all changes when her parents die and her new guardian sweeps Maggie from town and forces her to marry a stranger to pay his debts. When she suddenly finds herself a widow and free of an unhappy marriage, can she finally find the love she’s dreamed of? Lord Maxwell Wilde still loves Maggie Winters, despite his years abroad in service to the Crown. They had planned to marry until she disappeared from his life, leaving only a scribbled note in her wake. Returning home late from an assignment in the middle of a sudden storm, he finds a badly injured woman lying in the road. He saves her only to realize he has rescued the woman he had never forgotten. Hearts are in play as danger beckons them into a treacherous game. Do they dare grab a second chance at love?

Pre-Order Available Now Releases January 21, 2020

When I’m not writing in my spare time, I refinish furniture or do other DIY projects from Pinterest. I’ve been updating my house and that’s been fun. I also enjoy takIssue 41 | December 2019 |

17


| FEATURE AUTHORS |

n ad i n e m i lla r d

Uncaged welcomes Nadine Millard Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? Would you do it again? It was SO much fun. I had a blast. These are amazingly talented ladies and I feel blessed to be in such good company. I’ve made some great friends through this job and would 100% do it again! In fact, I AM doing it again with lots upcoming for 2020 :) Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about? I’ve just released The Hidden Prince which is a novella to start of my Royals of Aldonia series. The second book, Protecting The Princess, will be out in February 2020. I’m so excited about it! Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process?

N

adine Millard is a romance author hailing from Dublin, Ireland.

Having studied and then worked in law for a number of years, Nadine began to live her dream of writing when she had the first of her three children. She released her first book in 2014 and has been writing ever since. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading anything she can get her hands on, running around after her three children, her cat, her dog, and spending time with her long-suffering husband!

nadinemillard.com

18 | UncagedBooks.com

There’s always something to be done in edits, which is why editors are so important. Life savers, even! Generally speaking, I add on and expand existing scenes. I’ve never yet been asked to cut something! Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal you are working toward? I do! I’m really lucky that I get to. It can be hectic with three children and a husband that travels a lot with work but it’s so flexible, and I love creating stories so much it never feels like a job! Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I read. A LOT. Any type of book, any genre. I have done from a really early age. I love to get together with friends and family. And I used to teach a dance class for kids so that’s something I’ll probably do again once I get some time!


| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE |

Lydia Charring is spending a quiet Christmas at Chillington Abbey, helping her mother to take care of an ailing relative. It will be quiet, peaceful, and uneventful as always. Or at least, it should have been. The arrival of the mysterious Alexander Farago brings some unexpected excitement to Lydia’s Christmas season. Could it also bring love? Alex is taken aback by the sudden and intense attraction he feels to the beautiful, out-spoken Lydia. As Christmas approaches, they grow closer and closer, and something strong is growing between them. But Alex is keeping a secret from the downto-earth Lydia. Something he’s not sure she’ll appreciate. Can Alex convince Lydia to love him for him, and not for his status? And when his secret is revealed, will Lydia trust the man who has won her heart?

Available Now

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

19


| FEATURE AUTHORS |

sa n d r a sookoo

Uncaged welcomes Sandra Sookoo Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? Would you do it again? I’m always thrilled when asked to do a boxed set or a multi-author series. It’s so much fun, and it allows me a chance to stretch my writing chops, to play with a theme that I might not have ever considered before. Of course I would do it again :) Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about?

S

andra Sookoo is a USA Today bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regencyera, serendipity and happenstance in Victorian America or snarky, sweet humor in the contemporary world. Most recently she’s moved into infusing her books with mystery and intrigue. Reading is a lot like eating fine chocolates—you can’t just have one. Good thing books don’t have calories!

sandrasookoo.com 22 | UncagedBooks.com

Well, since writing Christmas romances is kind of my jam, I just released Wagering on Christmas. On November 12th, Charmed at a Yuletide Ball releases. It’s the next story in my popular Thieves of the Ton series (adventure Regency romance) Then, of course, you can find my sweet romance On a Midnight Clear in the Lady It’s Cold Outside boxed set. Later in November, I have a novella called One Silent Night included in the A Roguish Christmas boxed set, and finally on December 4th, my novella Transformed by a Christmas Star releases. It’s the last story in my Lords of the Night series (Regency paranormal romance) I adore writing Christmas romances. Love during the holidays is somehow happier and more romantic. I hope you’ll check out all of these stories! Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process? Since I’m a plotter, I rarely need to cut scenes, but sometimes it happens. But yes, I do sometimes add scenes during my self-editing process before it goes to the hired editor. And sometimes my editors will suggest additional scenes. It’s all part of the process, and if an author is a professional, they’ll realize this is a good thing :) Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal you are working toward? Yes, I’m a full-time writer. I’m also a freelance development editor. Both jobs are fulfilling and I love them


both. I’m a big believer in time management and don’t believe in procrastination, so fitting both jobs into my schedule is not an issue. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE |

christina mcknight

I love baking and cooking. And I adore home decorating and craft projects. It all uses a different portion of my brain than writing does and allows me to relax and think about new plots, of course! Lol Since I don’t write on the weekends, I spend that time with my husband or my nieces. We adventure all over the state, because in Indiana, you have to make use of the nice days before winter sets in :)

Sometimes love needs a few wagers to stick the second time around. Pleasure is his only pursuit... Colin Rowley, Viscount Hartsford, has been given an offer too good to ignore: if he comes home to Lancaster Hall and his family by Christmas morning, he’ll win a coveted racehorse as well as an estate. Trouble is, recollections attached to his ducal father’s castle leave him haunted, especially those regarding the first girl he’s ever loved, the one who rejected him.

U

SA Today Bestselling Author, Christina McKnight Christina McKnight writes emotional and intricate Regency Romance with strong women and maverick heroes. Her books combine romance and mystery, exploring themes of redemption and forgiveness. When not writing she enjoys coffee, wine, traveling the world, and watching television.

Available Now christinamcknight.com Issue 41 | December 2019 |

23


| FEATURE AUTHORS | Uncaged welcomes Christina McKnight Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? Would you do it again? I’ve worked with several of the authors before on both box sets and in multi author book series. It is always great fun to bring authors together and allow readers to experience all the genre has to offer in ONE amazing box set. Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about? I’m currently editing a previously release novella for re-release. It was originally published in 2015 as part of a Kindle Worlds series--Keep an eye out for, A Lord of Her Own. Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process? I tend to utilize every scene I write--I’ve only learned in the last year or so that many authors cut tens of thousands of words. Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal you are working toward? I wrote full-time for four year. Recently, I took a part-time job outside my home office. It has been a BIG change for the entire family but allows me space and time to think about my current writing projects. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Sports! I have three kids and they each play multiple sports. Softball, dance, baseball, volleyball, and basketball. You name it and I’m sitting on the sidelines!

24 | UncagedBooks.com

A MAN TRYING TO ESCAPE FROM THE PAST... When Silas Anson inherits the earldom of Lichfield from a father he never knew, he has one goal: protect his siblings.To do so, he’ll need to do two things: replenish the estate’s depleted coffers,and gain the support of his powerful family--even though they betrayed his mother years ago. An arranged marriage with the daughter of the Marquess of Blandford will accomplish both of these objectives, while giving him a chance at a normal, happy life. NEEDS A WOMAN WHO CAN SEE THE FUTURE. Except Lady Mallory Hughes isn’t the normal debutante he expects. Along with a large dowry, she’s inherited her family’s gift for predicting the future. For years, her family has kept her hidden away from society, for fear she will bring the family shame. If she is ever to have a chance at an independent existence--and love--she must get through this week without alerting Silas about her visions. But when Mallory touches Silas, she sees his death. With Silas’s life on the line, how can Mallory save him without revealing her gift, and risking their chance at a future together?

Available Now


a n n a b e ll e anders

| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE | Uncaged welcomes Annabelle Anders Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? Would you do it again? All the authors in this set are amazing! We had our stories finished and turned in before summer so it’s been nice to not have to worry about it. And as for doing it again, I’m already signed up for A Christmas one 2021 with Amanda... Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about? I’m getting ready to release Lady Be Good, Book 4 in my Lord Love a Ladies Series, on Dec. 3rd. The heroine is a maid and the hero a Viscount so… yum. Secret meetings... Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process?

I

can only be grateful for a series of unfortunate events, for, with nothing to lose and completely demoralized, I sat down and began to write the romance novels which had until then, existed only my imagination. 
 I am happy to have found my place in life.


I use almost everything I write… I’m a plotter and unless something really goes awry, the characters are in charge. Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal you are working toward? I’ve been writing full time for one year now. Dream. Come. True. Working towards? Finding more readers… Writing better books…

Finally.

Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I love to read, drink wine, go out to eat… I need to get more active since I quit my bartending job… I’ve been on and off with exercise. Hoping to travel more in the coming years...

annabelleanders.com Issue 41 | December 2019 |

25


| FEATURE AUTHORS |

Tis the season... for wedding bells! But, the path of true love never did run smooth... as our brides and grooms soon discover. Twenty-seven authors bring you scandalous adventure, sizzling passion, and heartwarming holiday romance.

Available Now

26 | UncagedBooks.com

ta b e t h a wa i t e

W

hen sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not writing, Tabetha is reading, as true bookworms do, or checking out any antique mall she comes across. She is a small town, Missouri girl, born and bred, 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 any fans of her work to join her mailing list for updates.


Uncaged welcomes Tabetha Waite Uncaged: How was your experience being involved with this holiday set? Would you do it again? This isn’t the first time I’ve been in a Christmas anthology and I always think it’s a lot of fun. As for doing it again? Of course! In fact, I already signed up for another set next year with Amanda Mariel! Uncaged: What do you have releasing next that you can tell us about? I just released a Victorian Gothic entitled, “Behind a Moonlit Veil,” set during the time of Jack the Ripper, as well as another holiday set, “Yuletide Happily Ever Afters II.” Upcoming, other than “Lady, it’s Cold Outside,” is a winter contemporary short story set entitled, “Wrapped Up in Love.” All proceeds will be going to breast cancer research. Uncaged: Do you have to cut scenes (or add) in the editing process? I usually don’t have to cut anything, but I generally find something I want to add to various scenes during editing. Uncaged: Do you write full-time? If not, is it a goal you are working toward? I currently write part-time and work part-time. And yes, I would LOVE to write full-time someday! Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Read! If not, then it’s shopping at an antique mall, flea market, or thrift store. I love hunting for a bargain and something unique!

| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE | An evil lurks in the darkest corners of Victorian London... Amaris Maxwell has lived her entire life with ill health. As the daughter of a prominent doctor, it never occurred to her to question his abilities, nor his associate’s rather unorthodox treatments. But the life of a sheltered woman has its disadvantages. She yearns to be free, to live an existence outside the same four walls. It isn’t until fate thrusts her into the path of Mr. Jackson Moreland that she begins to question everything she’s ever known. As a mysterious killer begins to terrorize the streets of London, Amaris realizes that things are not always how they may appear… But how close is the true villain? Jackson Moreland has lived the last two years of his life in a personal hell after the brutal murder of his wife. Released from an asylum, he struggles to come to terms with his reality. When he is engaged by Scotland Yard to assist in learning the identity of the murderer of Whitechapel, everything changes the moment he meets Amaris. He knows something isn’t right and he’s determined to find out what it is. As things progress between them and secrets are revealed amid their growing attraction, they begin to fear that the true threat may not be the Ripper after all.

Available Now

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

27


| FEATURE AUTHORS |

Enjoy excerpts from Lady It’s Cold Outside Lady It’s Cold Outside Various Authors Historical Regency/ Holiday Available Now Bring the magic of Christmas into your home with these nine heart-warming books full of mistletoe, love, and holiday merriExcerpts On a Midnight Clear Sandra Sookoo

Christmastide 1814 takes a fateful turn when Major Cecil Stapleton returns from hospital and finds his cottage in the country already occupied by the lover he left behind six years before. With danger lurking, it’s vital widow Olivia Presley remain hidden to keep their son safe, yet now at least one of her secrets has come due. As shared memories collide with budding romance, he and Olivia will need to work through painful truths and personal expectations in order to grasp the love they both desperately need. “Fine,” he growled, but there was no sting in the one-word answer. He bunched the edges of the towel in his lap, and his cheeks were tinged with a trace of redness. Had she ever seen him embarrassed before? How adorable and approachable it made him. Olivia laughed, but it was more of a throaty affair than it had even been. Dear God, he was having a profound effect on her. “I’ve seen you in your altogether, you know.” He grinned, and the gesture was so genuine it 30 | UncagedBooks.com

caught her breath, for he looked completely different without lines of strain crossing his brow or framing his eyes. “That was years ago, and not in this context.” “Does it matter?” Awareness of him as a man raced over her skin, sending tingles through her blood. This man, this hero, so broken and yet so proud, sent her scuttling into a cloud of confusion and awoke something deep inside of her. “No.” He stretched out his right leg so she could better attend to it. Olivia took the bottle of balm from him as she knelt between his splayed legs. After pouring another dollop of the liquid into her palm, she gave him back the bottle and then applied the lotion to his flesh, rubbing it into the long, silvery scar as well as the jagged marks where stitches had punctured his skin. She worked the taut muscles of his calf and just over his knee, and when she glanced at him, she wisely said nothing when the towel twitched. Did he desire her, or was it merely an unrelated reaction? Somehow, she couldn’t fathom he would have done the same to any of the other care givers he’d encountered, and heat burned within her cheeks. They both needed a distraction else this might end in disaster. She dropped her gaze to his knee, concentrated on the blond hair covering his leg. “The war will end soon, for the English might has finally subdued most of the French uprising.” Cecil grunted. “I believe it ended after Toulouse, but you’re right. However, there will always be a war somewhere. As long as there are men, there will be strife.” Obviously, talking of such things wouldn’t usher in healing. Once more she shifted topics. “Simon adores you.” A self-depreciating laugh escaped him. “I am a novelty of the moment.” “No.” The man needed to find his confidence again. “On some level, I believe he knows…” Her voice caught and she raised her gaze to his. “He knows you’re related.” His blue depths were shuttered. “Do you regret the decisions of your life?” “Not even one minute.” She stilled her fingers on his leg but couldn’t bear to break their connection. “Eve-


| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE | rything that happened to me has made me into the woman I am today. We must always own our path— good or bad.” Silence reigned between them for long moments. Cecil nodded. “Did you ever think of me while we were apart?” Another flare of heat went through her to lodge in her lower belly. The man was dangerous to her peace of mind. Olivia quickly stood. “Yes.” She wiped her hands on her apron. “I wondered where you were, how you fared, if you’d married.” If you were happy with your life… if you thought of me. “I couldn’t leave anyone behind who cared, and after that night…” He left words unsaid, and that was telling and all too intriguing. “Yet here we are.” “Indeed. Odd how fates works.” “Perhaps it gives us what we need, for whatever reason, which we have to puzzle out.” Her voice shook as did her hands. Why was he here, and what was she supposed to learn from it? The longer she stared down in his face, the more her resolve to remain distant from him shattered. They were forever linked, and perhaps that’s as it should be. She didn’t love him, of course, for passion years ago didn’t equate to that, but she did feel something for this man. For herself, for him, for the people they’d been that long ago night, as well as her own curiosity, Olivia stooped and swiftly pressed her lips to his. She kept her eyes open, as did he. Shock pooled in his cool depths, his sensual lips not giving quarter, but before he could reach for her, she stepped away. “I… I must go…” Coward that she was, she fled the room, the heat of his lips still tingling through hers and her mind wrapped in more confusion than ever, for the tiny kernel of need she’d always carried for him began to blossom into something more.

Stealing a Rogue’s Kiss Amanda Mariel A determined wallflower… Lady Daphne Rosamond never thought of herself as missing out. She believes that love will find her when the time is right. That is until she visits a fortune teller. Now she is determined to create her own future. An unapologetic rogue…. Marcus Wentworth, Earl of Clarendon, is out for life’s sinful pleasures. He’s made a name for himself charming the skirts off of every willing woman he encounters, and offers no apologies. What’s more, he has no plans for settling down. A twist of fate…. Determined not to grow old alone, Daphne takes fate into her own hands. Marcus made her a promise years ago, and she’s ready for him to make good on it. He would give Daphne her first kiss once she was of an appropriate age. Not one to turn down a beautiful woman, he delivers on the promise. One passionate moment that neither will soon forget, but how could either of them have guessed where one stolen moment would lead? Excerpt After strolling to the end of the corridor and turning the corner, Marcus stilled. The shuffling of feet caught his attention and he strained to determine where the noise originated from. In another moment, a woman figure appeared in the shadows. He squinted against the darkness in an attempt to make out her features. “Lady Daphne.” “Oh.” She jumped, her hand going to her chest. Turning wide blue eyes on him, she said, “You startled me.” “What are you doing roaming the halls at this hour?” Marcus sobered a fraction as he stood before her. Issue 41 | December 2019 |

31


| FEATURE AUTHORS | She took a small step toward him, her pink dressing gown revealing the thin fabric of her nightrail hidden beneath. “I couldn’t sleep so I decided to get a glass of warm milk.” Marcus felt the corners of his lips tug downward. “There are servants for that.” “I didn’t wish to bother someone else when I can find the kitchen on my own.” She gave a weak smile. “As you said, the hour is late.” “Very well.” Marcus proffered his arm. “Then allow me to escort you.” Daphne wrapped her petite hand around the crook of his elbow. Marcus led her through the house, down the stairs, and into the kitchen. Once there, she released his arm and went to retrieve the milk. “Would you like some?” He pulled out a stool and sat at a long counter. “Please.” As she reached for glasses, he added. “Perhaps something to nibble on as well?” She cast him a smile then strolled to the storage pantry. In a thrice, she joined him with a plate of pastries. “Will this suit? Or would you prefer something with more substance?” “Those are perfect.” Marcus reached for a pastry then took a bite. He watched Daphne sip her milk as he chewed. Her long golden hair streamed down her back, catching the light of a nearby candle. His finger’s itched to touch the thick wavy locks. He’d wager her hair would slip through his fingers like the finest silk. How had he never noticed it before? Marcus took a drink of his milk then reached for another pastry. “Are you going to have one?” Daphne shook her head. “Mama says I should stay clear of sweet treats.” Marcus arched a curious eyebrow. “For what reason?” Daphne averted her gaze. “They are bad for my figure.” Marcus trailed his gaze over her lush curves, taking an extra moment to appreciate the full curve of her breasts. “There is nothing wrong with your figure.” He slid the plate closer to her. “Have one.” The corners of her full lips turned up in a weak 32 | UncagedBooks.com

grin. “I suppose one will not cause to much damage.” She lifted the treat to her mouth and took a small nibble. Marcus spun his glass in a slow circle on the countertop. “Delicious, is it not?” “Indeed.” Daphne’s gaze met his, a mixture of pleasure and regret shining in the blue depths. “Mama would have a fit if she knew I’d eaten it.” “Your Mama is wrong. You deserve sweets and should be allowed to enjoy them. A man would have to be daft not to notice your beauty.” Marcus shocked himself with the realization that he had not noticed how attractive she was before now. As children, she’d been one more girl. Nothing special, simply another playmate. Of course, he’d noticed that she’d grown up. They all had. But he’d not had occasion to spend time with her in the past several years— not enough to take notice of the delectable creature she’d become. Curiosity swept through his mind and he had to get to know her better. “Forgive me for asking a personal question, but I find myself exceedingly curious to know why you are not yet married.” Marcus stretched his legs out, crossing them at the ankles as he waited for her reply. Daphne exhaled a deep breath. “No one has shown an interest in wedding me.” “I find that hard to believe.” Marcus stared into her blue eyes as a storm of emotions crossed through them. They seemed to cloud with sadness, then deepened with thought before brightening with excitement. “What is going through your pretty little mind?” “Nothing.” She nibbled at her bottom lip, shaking her head. “I was just recalling…Oh never mind.” He’d always found her interesting to talk with but could not recall ever hanging on her words the way he was doing at this moment. If she left him guessing at her thoughts, he’d likely go mad. “Recalling what?” She tipped her glass to lips, finishing what remained of the milk. “You cannot start to tell me something then leave me without all of the details. It’s not fair.” He drummed his fingers on the counter as he stared at her.


| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE | “Very well. I was remembering a conversation we had in our youth.” A pink tint crept into her cheeks. Marcus grinned with amusement. “We shared many conversations back then. Which one are you referring to?” Daphne fidgeted with the lace of her dressing gown. “Do you remember the deal we made? The one regarding a kiss?” A Gypsy’s Christmas Kiss Dawn Brower Fin and Lulia have a history. One that neither one has forgotten. When they meet again they are drawn together. After that chance meeting they share a magical kiss. Along the way they discover that sometimes the one thing a person needs isn’t what they would expect. Excerpt Candles filled one of them in different sizes, ranging from long, tapered candles to thick, oblong ones. He picked one up and tested its weight. They seemed solid enough… “Can I help you, my lord?” Fin opened his mouth to correct her—he was a duke— as he turned. He met the gaze of one the most ethereal girls he’d ever seen and decided against chastising her—his title didn’t matter. She had violet eyes and hair the color of the night sky unfettered by stars. He bet her midnight locks would be lovely dressed with diamonds, and would put a star-studded sky to shame in its beauty. She had it plaited with a long braid that fell to the middle of her back. The girl couldn’t be more than fifteen or sixteen, and he shouldn’t be admiring her. Maybe when she grew up… He shook that thought away. “I don’t know if anyone can help me,” he finally said. “You have a great sadness in you.” Her voice held an almost ethereal quality to it, but perhaps it was just how he perceived her. He’d never met anyone quite like her before. “Please, come sit and I’ll tell your fortune.”

Fin didn’t believe in such things, but it would help delay his return home. He didn’t much feel like gathering around mourners and their sympathetic gazes. He’d made enough of a mess of things, and there was no fixing it. He might as well humor the girl and let her tell his fortune. Fin walked over to a chair in front of a table. She sat on the other side. “Give me your hand.” “Does it matter which one?” She shook her head. “No, whatever one you’re comfortable with.” He lifted his left hand and set it on the table. She flipped it over and trailed her fingers over his palm. The gypsy was quiet for several moments and then she glanced up at him. There was a bit of surprise in her glance, but whatever had earned that particular look, she kept to herself. “Tell me, my lord, do you believe in love?” Mistletoe, Whisky and a Rogue Jane Charles One gossiping parrot, a few sips of whisky, and mistletoe could seal one’s fate. If Ethan Copeland had it his way, he’d be back in New Orleans and not stuck in England. However, one encounter with Miss Fanella Grant, a lass with a taste for whisky and adventure, could change everything—especially when a parrot not only repeats what he hears, but also what he sees. Excerpt “We should return before my brother comes lookin’ for me.” Ethan simply stared at Fanella. “I suppose.” Yet, neither of them moved and just as they’d been on the watchtower, their eyes held, except there was no frosty air this time. Ethan grew warm and took a step toward Fanella. The tip of her tongue darted out, moistening her lips. The closer he drew to her, the more her chin tilted, yet she didn’t take a step back, but remained where she was. Issue 41 | December 2019 |

33


| FEATURE AUTHORS | Was it an invitation? Did she wish to be kissed? If she did not, wouldn’t she retreat? Fanella gazed up at him as if waiting, and Ethan lowered his lips to hers and brushed them ever so delicately. He withdrew to gauge her reaction. The side of her mouth quirked, almost taunting him for offering such a chaste kiss and he succumbed to the unvoiced challenge and kissed her again. This time he molded his mouth to hers and drew her closer. At the parting of her lips, he delved, and Ethan was barely aware of her hands grasping his shoulders, as he was lost in the most delicious melding of mouths that he’d ever experienced. The room tilted and he lost all awareness of time or location, wanting only to remain where he was, holding Fanella close, and devouring her. “Click, click, click. Ethan kiss Fanella. Squawk.” Ethan jerked away and looked for Rogue who sat on the limb of an orange tree only a few feet away. “You will not be repeating what you just saw, Rogue. Do you understand me?” The damn bird just made kissing sounds in return. “I’ll muzzle you. I swear I will,” he warned. “Ethan kiss Fanella. Squawk.” Then he flew off. Bloody hell! “Can ye muzzle a parrot?” Fanella asked. “I’m not certain, but I’ll find a way if he doesn’t keep his beak closed.”

A Winter Wish Nadine Millard Mariah Bolton is as headstrong as she is clever, as strong-willed as she is beautiful. She enjoys her life and, apart from a rather snobbish mama, she is happy with her lot. Imagine her consternation then when her world is turned upside down by the brooding and aloof Mr. Brandon Haverton! Mariah and Brandon are forced to endure each other’s company more than either wants to when a snowstorm traps them in the same house. They argue, they bang heads and they drive each 36 | UncagedBooks.com

other insane. But something precious is blooming beneath the surface of all that ice. Something neither looks for but both need. Can love melt the snow around Brandon’s cold heart? Can Mariah be brave enough to take a leap of faith? And can a Winter Wish help bring two souls together forever? Excerpt “What did I do?” she asked. “What?” “What did I do?” “Nothing. Why?” “Because in the general way of things, when people want to talk to me about something of great importance it’s either a minor ailment that they think will kill them. Or it’s my mother. Whom I frequently think will kill me.” Haverton stared at her once again before shaking his head and chuckling softly. “Miss Bolton, I can safely say that you are unlike anyone I have ever met in my life.” Mariah wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not so she did not comment. “You did not ‘do’ anything,” he continued. “At least not to my knowledge. Unless of course you count almost killing the butler.” “I did no—” “The reason,” he went on, holding up a silencing hand, “I asked you in was to explain my earlier behaviour.” Mariah blinked in surprise and waited. This should be interesting. Mr. Haverton gazed at her for a moment before standing and running a hand through his hair. “Miss Bolton, as you know I did not expect – rather, I had not thought that the person recommended to me would be a woman.” “Yes, I gathered,” she said dryly because she really never had been able to stay quiet in such situations. “Yes, well, I realise that my behaviour was—” “Rude?” “Odd.”


| LADY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE | “Ah.” “Are you going to keep interrupting?” “No, of course not.” “Very well. I am sure I seemed a little, well—” “Brutish? Bad tempered? Arrogant?” she supplied. “Alright, forget it.” “No, no. I’m sorry. I shan’t interrupt again.” He eyed her suspiciously for a minute before huffing out a sigh and coming to lean against the desk in front of her. “Miss Bolton, I am sincerely sorry for my, what was it? Brutish and bad-tempered behaviour.” “And arrogant,” she whispered softly. His lips quirked. “And arrogant. I must say though, that I can already see how much work you’ve done in the library and it is very impressive. You are a diligent librarian.” “Thank you,” Mariah said sincerely, trying not to sound too smug. And then, because she really did have a problem, she added, “Surprising for woman, is it?” “Miss Bolton, I assure you my earlier, er—” “Rudeness.” “Yes, thank you” he said through gritted teeth. “Anyway, as I was saying, my earlier behaviour was in no way a reflection of my opinion on the capabilities of your sex to do a job well.” “Ah, I see.” He smiled in relief. “So it’s just me, and not women in general that you have a problem with?” she asked pleasantly. His smile faded. “Bloody hell,” he muttered standing up from the desk and muttering even more oaths, some of them rather inventive as he stalked toward the side table at the window. Mariah watched in amazement as he poured himself a very generous measure of brandy, offering her one by way of gesturing with the bottle. She shook her head in refusal. Somehow she did not think that her mother would approve of her arriving home in her cups. After throwing back the contents of his tumbler, Mr. Haverton turned to look at her again. His face was an emotionless mask but Mariah spotted the pulse in

his temple; no doubt he was working very hard to keep some emotion or other in check. “Miss Bolton,” he finally said wearily, “I had hoped that the house would be filled with silent servants and an unobtrusive, bookish young man. I have neither the time nor the inclination to host anybody else under my roof. You are neither male nor unobtrusive.” “No, I am not. Though I feel it is only right to point out that you sought me out to speak today, sir. Not the other way around. Furthermore, I was led to believe that you and your wife would not arrive until Christmas or thereabouts and that my job was to be finished before then, if at all possible. Tis hardly my fault if you changed your plans and arrived early.” Well, that had probably done it. No doubt he would now inform her that her services were no longer required but really, that may not be a bad thing. The truth of it was, if she wasn’t angry and or insulted by him, she was panting like a dog at his sheer, overwhelming attractiveness. Neither state was a good one, especially in light of the fact that he had a family. “My wife?” he asked in confusion. “Well, yes. I mean, I assumed when Mrs. Yates mentioned your family that—” “I am not married, Miss Bolton. If I were, your presence would not be a problem.” Mariah started at his words. What did he mean by that? “I don’t know—”she began before he held up a hand stopping her. “My life is — complicated at the moment, Miss Bolton. Further complications therefore, are unwelcome. I have no doubt that you have the skills required to take on this task, but you are very much a complication.” “But how?” she demanded, jumping from her seat, incensed. “And why? What have I done except mistake you for a groom and, well, yes I did almost kill your butler but he frightened me first.” “You misunderstand,” he said softly. “Although you are one of the strangest females I’ve ever met, Issue 41 | December 2019 |

37


| FEATURE AUTHORS | unusually outspoken and, well, loud,” he said with a wince, which earned him a scowl, “it wouldn’t matter if you were quiet as a church mouse. You are a complication.” “Why?” she asked again, shooting him an exasperated glare. Mr. Haverton placed his empty glass on the table, with more force than was necessary in her opinion, and then turned toward her. HE stared at her and she stared right back. She would not back down on this. She would not return home and tell her mama that she’d failed and had displeased the new man in town. She would likely never hear the end of it. Finally he sighed and ran a hand once more through his hair. Mariah’s hands fairly itched to follow suit but she balled them ruthlessly into fists. She would not, could not let herself feel relief at the fact that he wasn’t married as she’d assumed. “Because,” he said after an age, stalking toward her. Mariah’s heart began to gallop. “You are the most distractingly beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and I cannot concentrate on what I need to do when my efforts are being spent on not ravishing you on the spot.”

Miss Pageant’s Christmas Proposal Tabetha Waite He was supposed to be her catch of the season… Miss Emary Pageant is a diamond of the first water, one of the most popular debutantes of the Season. She could have any man in London that she wanted, but only one appeals to her – the elusive bachelor that everyone is talking about. He would be her ultimate conquest, something to preen about for years to come. The only problem is that he thinks she’s just another empty-headed daughter of a viscount. And try as she might, she can’t convince him otherwise. Thankfully, she has always been quick witted, so she quickly conceives a plan. 38 | UncagedBooks.com

He thought she was just like the rest… Donovan Wainwright, Duke of Windwood, is a physically and emotionally battle-scared war hero. He knows his duty to society the way he knew his duty to his country, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to fall prey to the first simpering lady who tries to gain his attention. While he might admit that Emary is appealing, she is far too vain for his tastes and he’s just not interested. One proposal makes all the difference. It isn’t until Emary boldly offers him a proposal – which he foolishly accepts – that the tide abruptly turns. All at once, the woman Donovan wishes to avoid becomes the one he can’t live without. Excerpt She was so focused on her hasty retreat that she didn’t notice the man walking in from the terrace — until it was too late. Emary awkwardly crashed into a firm chest. The man muttered an obscenity under his breath, and once she righted herself she found out why. Windwood had been holding a cup of punch in his hand, but she’d managed to knock it askew, causing a bright red stain to taint the front of his pristine, white shirt. The blood left her face in a rush, the dizzying sensation causing the room to swirl about her. “I’m s…so… sorry,” she stammered. She never stammered. The duke looked down at his shirt, and then flicked a glance at her. “I suppose it’s nothing that a good wash won’t fix,” he said dryly, and Emary could tell by the look in his eyes that he wasn’t pleased. “I should probably go upstairs and change.” She wanted to sink into the floor. If she’d thought she’d been mortified before, she was thoroughly humiliated now.


The Earl She Left Behind Anna St. Claire Maggie Winters had everything she always wished for — betrothed to the man of her dreams,a loving home, and a new puppy. But it all changes when her parents die, and her new guardian sweeps Maggie from town and forces her to marry a stranger to pay his debts. When she suddenly finds herself a widow and free of an unhappy marriage, can she finally find the love she has dreamed of? Lord Maxwell Wilde still loves Maggie Winters, despite his years abroad in service to the Crown. They had planned to marry until she disappeared from his life, leaving only a scribbled note in her wake. Returning home late from an assignment in the middle of a sudden storm, he finds a badly injured woman lying in the road. He saves her only to realize he has rescued the woman he had never forgotten. Hearts are in play as danger beckons them into a treacherous game. Do they dare grab a second chance at love? Excerpt Thunder boomed above him. A second later a sharp crack of lightning lit up the dark sky. Gripping the reins of his horse, Maxwell Wilde, the Earl of Worsley, fought to stay seated as his mare reared and struggled. The lightning illuminated a woman lying in the road just ahead. Had the lightning not struck, he most certainly would not have seen her. The scant light showed a small-framed woman curled into a fetal position, wearing a soiled, blue fashionable dress. A small, shaggy white dog stood next to her, pawing her arm, whimpering and licking her face. Large drops of rain pelted both of them but did not affect the small dog’s loyal persistence to the young woman. “Whoa, Willow.” Max slid from his mount and walked over to the woman. At his presence, the small dog at once became protective, giving a guttural growl, and forcing Max to stop and rethink his goal. “Easy boy.” Max lowered his hand to the dog and allowed him to sniff it. The dog stopped growling and eased himself down, curling his small white furry body next to the woman’s head—protecting her—still

whimpering and licking her face. Max took a deep breath, careful not to anger the dog, and, not wanting to injure it. Unmistakably, the dog was attached to the woman. Feeling more confident the dog would not attack him, he eased onto his haunches and turned to get a better look at the woman. Gently, he eased back wet, muddied blonde tresses from her face. Recognition was swift and tumultuous. “Bloody hell! Meg, what happened? Why are you out in this storm, of all places? What are you doing here?” Questions flooded his brain while he fought a gut-wrenching impulse to pull her close. When she did not answer, he picked up a limp hand and noticed rope burns around her left wrist, anger registering. “You are bleeding.” Max moved her damp blonde hair away from her forehead revealing a deep gash from which blood still oozed. “How did this happen, Meg?” He lifted her limp body and carefully placed her upon his horse. Good. She was breathing. “I do not know what happened, Meg, but thank goodness, you are still alive.” Her eyes opened and closed. Her throat worked, but she did not speak. She needed a doctor. Max needed to get her to safety and leave before she engaged his heart yet again. He had washed his hands of Meg…Maggie Winters when she ran away and abruptly married the Earl of Tipton three years past—when they were planning to wed. No matter how he tried, she would always be Meg to him. Anger churned in his gut thinking about the day he found out, and renewed his confusion, pain and anger. She had disappeared without a word— merely a scribbled note delivered to him. Without thinking, he reached inside this waistcoat pocket and touched the small folded missive. No one had heard from Maggie in years.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

39


C ATC H UP

CATCH UP WITH DEBORAH GARLAND AS SHE RELEASES THE LATEST INSTALLMENT IN THE PRINCETON ALLEGIANT SERIES


| DEBORAH GARLAND | Uncaged welcomes back Deborah Garland Uncaged: Welcome back to Uncaged! This year, you’ve released a new series, The Princeton Allegiant Series – a new paranormal romance series. Can you tell readers more about the series? How many books are planned for this series? Thank you so much for having me back. This has been an exciting year for me. My vampire romance series, The Princeton Allegiant, has taken a bite out of the paranormal world! The Princeton Allegiant series will appeal to paranormal/military romance fans. Unlike other vampire series where they are ‘out of the coffin,’ my vampires are still hidden. They walk among humans who only see them as rich, sexy, and sophisticated. Above all mysterious. The ‘allegiant’ system is how my vampires are organized in each state. Every vampire bends the knee to an allegiant commander, who then submits to the higher vampire command only known as New York. Because that’s where they are located. The New York Vampire Command is made up of powerful Lords. The allegiant world may look peaceful, but a war is brewing between neighboring allegiants. It starts with Book 1, Drawing Bloodlines, when the Commander of the Princeton Allegiant forcibly mates one of his male vampires to the newly installed female commander of the Philadelphia Allegiant. Only his male vampire has fallen in love with a human woman and has been carrying on an illegal sexual relationship with her. Each book ends with an HEA (Happy Ever After) between the MCs (main characters), but a loose end pops up and forms the plot for the next book. The secondary character from one book then becomes the MC to the following book. Each book can be read as a standalone, however. There’re enough details about what a reader may have missed to bring them up to speed with enough juiciness to make them want to go back and read the heart-stopping action and romance they missed.

Uncaged: You also have the Darling Cove series running, and you have a new release in January for that series, can you tell readers more about this series? Yes! It may seem like two worlds but there are a lot of similarities between my small-town Darling Cove series and my Princeton Allegiant vampires. That’s the relationship between all the MCs in each book. In my vampire series, they all are connected through their fidelity to the Princeton Allegiant and its commander. In my Darling Cove series, the MCs are family members. Darling Cove is a fictional town on the North Fork of Long Island, New York. The Darling Cove series currently has four books published: Must Love Fashion: A Steamy Office Romance Must Have Faith: A Second Chance Romance Must Be Crazy: A Single Dad/Fireman Romance A Must for Christmas: A Small-Town Holiday Romance The series was supposed to end there, but a secondary character from Must Have Faith and A Must for Christmas caught the eyes of many readers. So on January 28th, the 5th and final Darling Cove book, Must Keep You: A Billionaire Surprise Baby Romance will go live on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. Uncaged: Do you have any holiday traditions that can tell us about? I do! My husband is a volunteer firefighter in our small town (not unlike Darling Cove) and every December the fire department puts on a parade for the town. I don’t have children of my own, but my niece and nephews visit from Virginia Beach and we enjoy a festive holiday weekend.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

43


Uncaged: Are you planning on attending any inperson events or conventions in 2020? I will be at the Middle Country Public Library on February 11 for a Tea with the Authors event along with USA Today Bestselling Author Jeannie Moon, Award-Winning Author Lauren Rico and Jennifer Gracen.

Deborah Garland is now an Award-Winning Author! Must Be Crazy has won The Carolyn Readers’ Choice Award. After years of doing the whole corporate thing, it was finally Deborah’s turn to make the dream come true of being a published author. Her 2017 debut novel, Must Love Fashion, was a Golden Leaf finalist for Best Contemporary Romance. She writes strong and witty heroines and the heroes fall hard for them. Her novels have received words of praise from RT Book Reviews, Kirkus Reviews, InD’tale Magazine, Library Journal, and Uncaged Magazine. In addition to a great book, she loves pugs and chocolate ad eats her bacon cheeseburgers with a Grey Goose Cosmopolitan. Her newsletter followers get not only a good laugh each month, but also updates on new releases, sales, and giveaways.

deborahgarlandauthor.com 44 | UncagedBooks.com

Enjoy an excerpt from Matching Bloodlines Matching Bloodlines Deborah Garland Paranormal Romance Vampires don’t date. They possess. Nothing could have prepared Francisco St. Claire for bachelorhood after three centuries of being mated. The serious and scary Commander of the Princeton Allegiant is now heartbroken and that makes him one dangerous vampire. When the ruling lords demand he hire a matchmaker to find a new mate, the loyal commander follows orders, but vows he’ll never love another woman ever again. She’ll be a mate in name only. Princeton Matchmaker, Charlotte Kincaid is drowning in debt. She’s so desperate for cash, she agrees to find a ‘mate’ for a mysterious rich businessman who turns out to be a vampire. If only this intoxicating French man with the most sensuous lips she’s ever seen wasn’t her client. Since meeting Charlotte, Francisco’s emotions and senses have awoken, including his primal need for a woman’s body against his. But if he takes Charlotte to mate and turns her, she can’t find matches for the rest of his unmated vampires. Will the Princeton Allegiant Commander show his strength by mating with the woman he craves or will he continue to follow orders? Never match a vampire with the wrong mate… The Princeton Allegiant Series features a recurring cast of hot and sexy vampires, but each book can be read as a stand-alone. Excerpt Francisco St. Claire grew more and more annoyed watching Loren pace around his home office while he argued with someone on his phone. Being ignored took a back seat, however, to the front-row frustration of the world’s deadliest vampire now living in his state.


Unlike the two other New York Lords who kept dazzling Manhattan penthouses, Loren had bought his mate one of the biggest houses in Princeton, New Jersey. They now lived only a few miles away from Francisco’s legacy fieldstone manor in the historic district of the sleepy university town. Vampires didn’t have pissing contests. They didn’t urinate. They didn’t compare penis sizes. They were all huge. They competed with women, money, cars, and houses. Francisco called this one a draw, and he had no interest in seeing Loren’s dick. “Great. I’ll send the wire transfer for those meds.” Loren tapped the Bluetooth device wedged in his ear and put his phone down. When he wasn’t carrying out Lord business, he put his medical background to use in a nearby research lab to study vampire anatomy. “Francisco. How are you? Thank you for coming.” “Thank you for meeting me, Francisco. I’ll get right to business. We are once again permitting vampires to turn humans,” Loren Tagaris, newly anointed New York Lord said to the commander of the Princeton Allegiant. “For mating purposes only.” The news shocked Francisco. With every other policy, process, or political crap, though, he always thought about his allegiant first. Except decades of pushing away his own needs had left Sophia empty and unhappy. This was a positive development for the vampires in his command, though. Unmated males were a pain in the ass. “I am quite impressed you are willing to put such a policy into action.” For so long, the New York Vampire Command had taken the innate pleasure of siring a progeny away from vampires. The previous regime, four very old, very stubborn, very out-of-touch vampires could not be reasoned with for decades. Their population had to be kept low in numbers and the less interaction with humans the better. Humans would no doubt eradicate vampires from the planet. “I set up a meeting for us with someone who can help you,” Loren said, tapping away at his keyboard. “Help me turn humans?” Francisco bared his fangs with a hiss. “I am quite capable of that. Although I have no intention of turning anyone.” Ever again.

“How are you doing by the way?” Loren sat back and eyed him with steady scrutiny. “Accepting the whole Sophia thing?” “That’s my business.” He would never confess the hell he’d been going through dealing with Sophia choosing to stay in Philadelphia with Aiden. “As one of the ruling Lords now, an erratic, unstable commander is my business.” Loren stood and strode toward him. “Do I seem erratic and unstable?” Francisco’s chin drifted downward emphasizing the one inch of height he had above the wicked vampire. “No. Like I said before, I like you, Francisco. My wife likes you. Things are finally secure for me. I may not have intended to mate with Julianna or become one of the New York Lords but . . .” “But?” “You just never know sometimes, Francisco.” He backed away. “What is this meeting about then?” “The other Lords and I have been doing some research. We need to have our vampires mate in a controlled setting.” “Like a zoo?” “No!” Loren scoffed in frustration. “You have how many unmated males in your command now?” “I don’t keep track of such things.” Loren growled and grabbed his iPad. After swiping and tapping the screen, he said, “By my count, you have seventeen. Eighteen including you.” “Don’t include me.” He groaned inwardly, furious his allegiant’s demographics sat on a cloud server somewhere. “Don’t you want your entire allegiant to know Sophia didn’t break you?” Loren’s question stung. Had she broken him? Yanking the subject away from that dangerous edge, Francisco shot back with, “So just males?” “Let’s start with the males and see how this works,” Loren said, pursing his lips together. “There’s a company right here in Princeton. I noticed the storefront a few times while checking in on Alexander. It’s a matchmaking agency.” “Seriously? A matchmaker?” He dropped his hands. Issue 41 | December 2019 |

45


feature authors

contemporary | western holiday |

Ellen Mint

Barbra Campbell

Linda Bradley


E

llen Mint adores the adorkable heroes who charm with their shy smiles and heroines that pack a punch. She has a needy black lab named after Granny Weatherwax from Discworld. Sadly, her dog is more of a Magrat. Her first two books, Undercover Siren and Fever are available in both ebook and paperback. Get-tin’ Lucky and Reefcake are two of her newest paranormals in the Wild Ménage series. Her next book Pride & Pancakes is to be released by Totally Bound. Look for it Christmas 2019.

S tay Con n e c te d

Ell e n m i n t Please welcome Ellen Mint

ellenmint.blog

Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about your newest book, Pride and Pancakes? It’s a modern take on Pride & Prejudice where the hero and heroine are trapped together in a cabin from the moment they meet. I didn’t want to follow the exact plot of Austen’s novel. There’s no Wickham, no Lydia or Jane. But I wanted to capture the themes that are universal regardless of the time period. Beth Cho is a reporter tasked with interviewing the elusive singersongwriter Tristan Harty. He’s dismissive of her work thinking it worthless to the world, she digs into his sordid past demanding he explains himself. They swear to never speak to each other only for mother nature to intervene and dumb two feet of snow. Trapped in a cabin hidden deep in the mountains, Beth and Tristan begin to melt the ice between each other and learn the depths of the pain etched into their souls. There are also pancakes and real maple syrup.


I suggest you have some pancake mix at standby before reading it, just in case. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? Right now I’m writing the sequel to Pride & Pancakes that’s a modern gender flip of Sense & Sensibility. Martin Dashwood is a hopeless romantic who’s looking for his princess. When he rescues a woman from a mugging he thinks this is his one true love. He’s fully unaware of the woman’s less than savory nature. All the while, Brandy has worked beside him at the bookstore as his closest friend and confidant. Will he finally see her for what she could be? I also have a shorter story for a Feisty Heroines romance anthology to fill in the time. In this one, a woman who defied death rescues a man from the reapers only she can see. But the reapers will not stop until

they take the soul due to them. She doesn’t care, as she’s tired of being alone in the world trapped between the living and the dead. Uncaged: What are the advantages of joining your ARC/Street Teams? On top of getting early access to not only my books but anthologies containing up to 30 award-winning authors, there’s also access to giveaways. Sometimes I’ll even send secret stories only for my subscribers. For Halloween, I did a “Choose Your Own Monster” story that involved the reader wandering around a haunted house. You got to pick which version of the monsters kept traveling with you for each step of the way. It was so much fun and I can’t wait to do something like that again.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

51


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Sir Terry Pratchett. I adored his sometimes esoteric and often biting sense of humor as well as the characters he crafted. He could have hidden behind the ‘it’s satire’ excuse, but no, he gifted us people like Sam Vimes, Granny Weatherwax, and a DEATH that loved a good curry. But mostly, we could sit quietly and talk both nerdy science stuff and farm animals. Uncaged: What is a scene that was the most difficult to write? While there were some highly emotional scenes that always leave me gasping and teary-eyed, I don’t want to go into detail because *spoilers*. (You have to read the book to find out *evil laugh*) My biggest struggles when writing are when I transition from the first act into the second. That initial action to entice people to keep reading is over. Now I have to start building the sturdy foundation to hang the rest of the book on. That takes time, and if one block is out of place the entire thing could collapse by the climax. Sometimes I try to sneak in a stabbing just to keep myself entertained. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I am a gamer, mostly RPGs like Mass Effect or Skyrim. I also love Assassin’s Creed as I am a sneaking demon. Aside from being able to take down enemies as stress relief, gaming helps my writing skills, specifically fight scenes. Gaming gave me skills on learning how much a character 52 | UncagedBooks.com

can pay attention in a fight and what all falls to the wayside. It also assists in learning new tactics that can then be applied in books. I also make my own Halloween props. Corpses, tombstones, ghosts, and the like. One of my favorite props is a broken mannequin I bought. After adding some skeleton bits, I had my own Hel. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? That line is forever moving. Finishing a book, publishing a book. Publishing two books. Finishing a series. Getting a review. Getting fifty reviews. Making my first book ad. Getting a Bookbub feature. I don’t know if I’ll ever really feel successful because I’m always looking ahead at how can I expand not only my writing but my marketing. It doesn’t matter how amazing of a book I write if no one ever reads it. Or when I finally find a tiny gnome with a strange name in the woods and he agrees to make me a successful author. That seems easier. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? It depends on the setting. If I have tons of time to kill and am staying in one place, nothing can beat the feel of a book in my hand. But if I’m on the move, have to stop and get up a lot, then ebooks are perfect as the story can be easily passed from phone to ereader. I don’t do audiobooks. My brain is wired so weird (I can’t get brain freezes) that I struggle focusing when listening to a story I have no trouble reading. That’s the neat thing about technology, it helps to open things up to more people and what works best for them.


| ELLEN MINT | Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? If you want steamy romances with cinnamon roll heroes that have the occasional action scene, come hang out with me. I post about not only my books, but whatever weird crafts I’m up to, shows I’m watching, and how my latest game playing is going.

Enjoy an excerpt from Pride & Pancakes Pride & Pancakes Ellen Mint Contemporary Romance When a cold-hearted singer and a hard-headed journalist are trapped together in a blizzard, there will be sparks—and pancakes. When Beth Cho is tasked with interviewing elusive musician Tristan Harty, it’s hate at first sight. Despite his sapphire-blue eyes and lithe frame, he’s got to be the most infuriating man on the planet. Tristan Harty is already sick of reporters and this one is proving no different. Sure, she might be adorable with her ebony hair and big brown eyes, but her incessant need to dig into his past is dragging on his last nerve. The bickering duo vow never to meet again, but Mother Nature has other plans for them, trapping them in a Vermont cabin via a blizzard. The more Beth learns about the aristocratic Tristan, the harder it is for her to keep her professional distance, just as Tristan discovers that a loving heart beats inside the beautiful reporter. But what happens when the snowstorm’s over, and the melted Tristan and enamored Beth are free to

leave? Can their reluctant attraction bloom into a deeper love now their cold-as-ice judgment has thawed? Excerpt In this scene, both characters are trapped together for their first night in the cabin. Beth is trying to get Tristan to open up about the hit song he wrote when he was sixteen but he’s still being obstinate about it. Pride & Pancakes excerpt Tristan sank deeper into his collar, as if he truly didn’t want to relive his greatest hit. Was that it? A reminder that he’d already reached his peak and it was only down-hill from there? No, that wasn’t accurate. While this song was easily his most memora-ble, he’d had other hits even into his twenties and collaborations with bigger artists. There was something else. Some reason why he dismissed it out of hand, but still clung to the words. As the bridge washed to the chorus, he closed his eyes. He didn’t mouth along, but his cheeks fell hollow and his lips slack, as if he was waiting for the trauma to end. “Me to you, and… Rain of glass, forever between we. Once there was us, now only me.” The last of the words in the song drifted away upon the final piano refrain held in-to a fade. All the while, Tristan kept his fingers locked tight together as if in prayer. She’d been moved to tears attending concerts in both massive arenas and private dining rooms, but Beth had never felt such a trembling rise through her body from a single song. How often had she heard this song on the radio in the past two decades? Discovered it, danced to it, dismissed it? Never before had she felt stricken like an ici-cle was plunged through her heart until watching the man who’d created it struggle to keep his sheen in place. With a rattling finger, she shut off the playlist as Issue 41 | December 2019 |

53


| FEATURE AUTHOR | it cycled for another Tristan Harty song. “Are you…” She coughed. “Will you tell me what it means?” Her voice had lost all its command. This one pleaded and cajoled for the once ice-man melted before the fire to explain. He seemed to hear it, though whether he’d re-spect her for it was hard to guess. “I…I can’t,” Tristan said. He swept the heel of his palm up over his cheeks, blan-keting away the icy blues. He watched his own movement as if unaware his body could do such a thing. In an instant, he sat up, rod-straight. “I doubt you could comprehend it anyway.” A sneer raised her lips and Beth let the growl loose. Perhaps he heard it and snickered, or perhaps his own smug satisfaction clogged his ears. Either way, she dove back into her work. The work she could complete without needing him. Slapping her blinders on, she paid no heed to the other person in the cabin. He could be laid out on the floor bleeding to death for all she cared. Swiping back and forth between different documents, Beth hate-wrote nearly two thousand words before a crick in her spine caused her to break. No one was sitting in the chair. A confounding fear rattled in her heart that he’d left, which should have been a godsend. But she spotted him standing before the window. He cradled his chin in his hand, worrying the rising scruff in thought. She assumed he had no idea she was watch-ing him and was about to resume writing. “It’s stopped.” Tristan’s voice echoed through the cabin. “Thank God,” she gasped, pressing Save and backing her work up into the cloud. At least this place had working internet and electricity. The heat seemed to come pre-dominantly from the fire, but there were a lot of trees around. And all she had to do was make it through the night, then she’d be free of him. He stared at her from the reflective window, but she wouldn’t look up. What time was it? The moment she saw it was nearing midnight, a yawn rumbled in her gut. 54 | UncagedBooks.com

“There is the matter of sleeping arrangements,” the strange man she’d only met this afternoon declared. Beth’s heart sank. One bed in the honeymoon cabin. Not a reason for another. “I don’t care how big it is. I don’t want it,” she babbled, rising from the couch. To her surprise, and small delight, Tristan blinked in confusion, his brow cloud-ing. “What…what are you? What do you mean?” “The bed, the only bed.” “Oh!” he gasped as if coming to God. He canvassed the ceiling before landing his sight upon her. “You referred to…yes, of course.” “Why? What did you think I meant?” The moment the question left her lips, she played back what she’d said without thought and the innuendo it crafted. A blush moved to scamper over her cheeks, which she could disguise thanks to the firelight. “You take the bed, alone,” he tacked on quickly. “I’ll sleep out here on the couch.” Beth glanced at the small two-seater. She could probably scrunch up to fit, but no way he’d manage. “I’ll sleep on the couch. You, Mr. Big-Wig Musician, take the bed.” “Ha,” he snorted. “You think I can’t hack it out here?” “Damn certain you can’t.” Beth nodded to herself, well aware of the riders most celebs demanded just to sit for a few minutes and talk about themselves. No way any-one who’d gone platinum would demean themselves by sleeping on a couch. “I’ll have you know, I’ve slept on buses in my touring days.” Tristan broke from his vigil over the snow, his closed-off body sliding closer. “Oh yeah? I’ve done Greyhound.” “Vans, as well. One time, I had to sleep on the floor of an overbooked hotel room.” “Big deal.” She prodded at him without touching him. “You ever slept on the floor of a cargo plane? Or a rickshaw? Or the bottom of a leaking boat?” Her rather colorful background threw Tristan off. The cocky demeanor melted, his arms falling out of their tight cross as he eyed her. “No. No, I haven’t.” “Then take the damn bed.” She indicated the bedroom, exhausted by his sudden chivalry. “I can handle myself on a damn sofa for a few hours. And no, I won’t mention it in the article. ‘Musician sleeps in


| ELLEN MINT | bed.’ Hardly pull quote material.” The edge of his stark-white canine emerged as he sneered. Had he perfected that in the mirror when younger or was it simply his face reacting to his soul? “You cannot stop riling people up, can you? Like a scrap of splintered wood rubbed over skin.” Beth moved to rise to defend herself and point out how he knew as little about her as she did him. But the haughty musician spun on his heels and finally trudged off to the open bedroom. Without another word, the door slammed, rattling the cabin’s frame until snow plummeted off the roof. A shudder climbed her spine as she remembered she was trapped in a cabin with a stranger. A near-stranger known to have a temper problem. He buried it under cold scowls and erudite language, but it was there. It was the sixth or seventh thing people thought about when imagining Tristan Harty. And Beth knew better than to ask about it, espe-cially with no one around to pillow his punches. Twisting in place, she glared at the short sofa she’d vehemently insisted be hers. Sitting up wasn’t so bad, with her back nestled against the armrest and her feet up on the cushion. But how was she going to sleep on this thing? She’d have to scrunch up like a child in the throes of a nightmare to fit. And he’d thought he could do it? Too riled up to sleep, Beth turned her back to the closed bedroom and opened her laptop. The blank page mocked her, the blinking cursor questioning why she didn’t get a job in engineering instead. Because you’re awful at math and fear being electrocuted. At least engineers didn’t have to deal with being trapped in snow-bound cabins with fickle, thin-skinned musicians. He’d been so damn insistent she not take her car when there’d been a chance and now they were both stuck together. Always having to be right, having to throw his intellectual weight around as if it were a ten-ton wrecking ball. Flexing her fingers, Beth laid into her keyboard to quickly type, Tristan Harty is an arrogant know-it-all who cares little for the consequences of his actions. The cursor flickered at the end of her cruel cut, wondering about the bias and the rather limp lede. Fold-

ing her other fingers into a fist, Beth plunged her pointer to the delete key, pressing to vanish every letter of the accurate but inflammatory sentence. Tristan Harty is… The sound of the door opening caused her to crane her head around. Instinctively, she closed her laptop as the subject of her non-start barreled out of the room. A blanket curled from his arms down to the floor and a pillow nestled against his chest. “Here,” he said, thrusting both at Beth. She reached for them, confused as to why he’d bothered. Before she could ask, he spun on his heels and marched back into the bedroom, once again slamming the door. Wrapping her arms around the offering ripped from his bed, Beth breathed in a sur-prising masculine scent. Warmth lingered in the wool fibers. Had he been tossing and turning in the bed before deciding to give the blanket to her? Or had he been holding both blanket and pillow, pacing back and forth, wondering if she’d even accept them? Despite her annoyance at the man, she wasn’t stupid enough to turn down poten-tial warmth in the midst of a snowstorm. Tucking the pillow behind her back and lay-ing the blanket out over her legs, Beth tried to dive back into her work. She stared blindly at the blinking cursor, watching as the document automatically synched up to the cloud with its half a sentence. As she leaned back into the pillow, warmth curled across her weary back and the smell of sandalwood spiced with juniper wafted around her. Tristan Harty is confounding.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

55


B

arbra Campbell writes fast and hot contemporary romance/erotic romance as an escape from the regular world. When she was raising her natural born children, exchange students, dogs, cats, birds, horses, chickens, a rabbit, and a cow, she found time to nearly get her PhD in Genetics, help with her husband’s construction company, play cello in multiple symphonies, and volunteer for roughly seven hundred organizations. Life happened. New paths were taken, and she’s finally escaped most of the rat race to dream up sexy fantasy worlds where the characters are guaranteed a Happily Ever After, or at least a Happy For Now! And since she’s busy, she appreciates stories that get right to the point!

Stay Co n n e c te d BarbraCampbell.com linktr.ee/campbellwrites

barbra ca m p b e ll Welcome Barbra Campbell Uncaged: You are releasing Christmas, Coffee and Curves soon, can you tell readers more about this book? Christmas, Coffee, and Curves is a fun play on the magical qualities many people claim coffee has, combined with the magical feel of Christmas. In the stories, the characters explore the idea that if they BELIEVE in something it’s more likely to happen. Haven’t we all been told that’s true? The stories are short and fun, and the coffee isn’t the only thing that’s steamy! 58 | UncagedBooks.com

In this set, the coffee served at Liquid Savior is fabled to be able to help you secure your true love, but only on Christmas Day. Each story focuses on a person who decides to give the magical brew a try. But it can’t be that easy! One cup ends up in the hands of a vagrant, one seems to be ready to go to waste when the intended recipient is in the arms of another man, and one is turned down because apparently there’s someone on this planet who doesn’t like coffee. It’s romance so everyone finds a Happily Ever After, but in the end, none of the protagonists can say for sure that the coffee made the difference, or if they got what they wanted because they followed their heart. Uncaged: You are also a part of a holiday box set. How did that come about and would you take part in a box


set again? Christmas Wishes was pitched to me as a set of romances about a small town that has a magical wishing well. One-click! Oh, wait, they were asking me to write, not purchase. :) I confirmed that steamy contemporary was acceptable and signed up right away. Christmas Wishes was my second box set to take part in and I would definitely do it again. Between the two sets I worked with over twenty authors, a very eye-opening experience. A lot of creative minds can be a boon, but it can also set up frustrations. I learned a lot about collaborating and made friends along the way. I know who to keep close, but I also know who to keep closer! I’m already scheduled for over five sets next year and enjoy the social aspect of these groups. It’s handy to

interact with real people no matter how real my characters feel. Uncaged: You also have several shorter reads that you’ve written. Can you tell readers more about your other books? I have a slew of novellas and short story romances because I’m all about the happy ending. They involve doctors, cowboys, billionaires, dad/brother’s best friend, opposites attract, firefighters…basically whatever I’m in the mood for. Most of my heroes are pretty alpha, but I steer clear of alpha-holes, and I just wrote a geeky guy that I totally love in Christmas, Coffee, and Curves. I also tend to write instalove, maybe it’s a reflection of me because I give my heart away very easily. (And I’ve been married to my own insta-love alpha for 27 years!) The com-

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

59


| FEATURE AUTHOR | mon thread for all of my stories is that they’re sexy. Very sexy. After I got complimentary feedback on the sexy times I wrote, I decided to create an erotica pen name, Lily Lust, and I’m having a blast with that too. Because I love sexy times, I guess you get the point! Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? This is the worst question ever! (No offense meant!) I feel like I’m cheating on so many authors by leaving them out. I’m fascinated by people and would be honored to sit with any number of them. Shortly after I started publishing, I discovered Hope Ford and became fascinated with her crazy fast path to success. I’ve adored her stories and would simply love to buy her lunch to say thank you for all the escape she has offered me. If I went farther back to middle school, I’d have to say Alexander Hill Key, the author of Escape to Witch Mountain because he captivated me at a level I’d never experienced before. That’s the first book I remember having serious withdrawal from when I finished it. I vividly remember scouring the library shelves for more of his work. I’d simply love to meet the man who showed me the power of fiction, except he’s dead, so let’s not go there. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began?

characters take the lead. I keep my pre-writing handy so that when a change happens, I can revisit my plan and scratch out everything the change annihilates. I guess that’s become my writing style. I’m a planner until the pantser takes over. Uncaged: What is a favorite holiday tradition that you have? I freaking love eggnog! A lot! When I lived in Texas, I found a brand that was amazing, but only a couple of stores carried it. Now I live in Colorado and can’t find any as good. One year I went on a mission to find the best eggnog recipe because the store stuff wasn’t cutting it. Bingo! The first recipe was like drinking heaven! I kind of thought it would be a good one because the first step of the recipe said to make a light custard…how can you go wrong? Now I make it every holiday season. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? I’ve defined it several different ways. One was making a time commitment to work at writing full time and I’ve mastered that. Another was making an emotional connection with readers and I’ve nailed that one too. Now it has more to do with being able to support my family. My husband’s incredibly supportive and has contemplated quitting what he’s doing so he can help with all the non-writing aspects of me being an author. When we get to the point that he’s my assistant, I’ll know I’m a success! :)

Ha! Every single one!

Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books?

I brainstorm, plot, outline…it sounds so organized…then I start writing and all hell breaks loose. Usually that’s followed by me audibly gasping or maybe I start clapping, and someone in my family gives me a side-eye and I say, “I can’t believe what my character just did!” Like I have no control at times, but I know I’m on to something when my

Physical-I love the weight, the smell, the way the pages flip, and the crazy notion that I’m holding the same book other people have read. BUT, ever since I tried rock-climbing fifteen years ago, I’ve had trouble with my wrists. Physical books leave my wrists in intense pain that cripples my ability to type and play cello. SO, I’ve mostly transitioned to ebooks and audiobooks. Ad-

60 | UncagedBooks.com


| DESIREE HOLT |

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

61


| FEATURE AUTHOR | mittedly, I good narrator who tells me a story while I drive or do dishes is the best. Realizing I’m not alone in that, one of my books is in production to be an audiobook and I hope to work out a contract on a second one before Thanksgiving. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Whether you read my books or anyone else’s, thank you sincerely for trusting us to transport you to another world. When you read, you’re not only escaping into that world, you’re supporting someone’s dream to share those worlds.

Enjoy an excerpt from Christmas, Coffee & Curves Christmas, Coffee & Curves Barbra Campbell Contemporary Romance #1 Patience, Perks, and Pleasure Luna When I left home for college, I never intended to go back, but life had a way of ruining my plans, and I ended up back home. At least I could put my business degree to use running my family’s coffee shop. As Christmas neared, Nana reminded me about using our coffee to find my true love. I’m pretty sure my true love was the coffee itself, but whatever. Getting caught up in the festive spirit, I figured it couldn’t hurt to believe. After all, I hadn’t found any other way to get the sexy guy that came in every day and typed on his computer to talk to me. #2 Courage, Caffeine, and Kissing 62 | UncagedBooks.com

Barry I was captivated by Becca, but she always showed up with a male friend. The guy didn’t seem like a boyfriend, but he was definitely more than a brother. Not wanting to cause a scene, I’d never made a move on her. When she invited me to go ice skating with them on Christmas Day, I seized my opportunity and took her a cup of the fabled love potion coffee. What I saw when I show up dashed my hopes. #3 Bashful, Brews, and Bliss Anne I was shy, reserved, mousy…whichever word you preferred was fine. I wouldn’t correct you, I was too timid to do that. But after working for Zach for two weeks, I desperately wanted to break from that mold. I didn’t want to regret letting another opportunity slip through my fingers. I wanted Zach. I’d heard rumors about coffee that could help you find your true love, but I hadn’t exactly been a believer in anything except keeping to myself. Could the combined power of the Christmas season and magical coffee be enough to help me say what I want for once? Excerpts Excerpt from #1: Often times a leading question from me sparked a customer to overshare, but not Liam. I’d only been able to get his name because I had to write it on the order. The intimacies customers divulged made me feel like people were starved for interaction, and many times revealed some burden they were bearing behind the guise of everyday normalcy. Watching him type away on his computer, he looked like a sexy version of everyone else: a person moving through his day, bearing his own burdens, and moving on. Except, Liam didn’t discuss his bur-


| BARBRA CAMPBELL | dens. Ever. Trying to catch his eye had proven fruitless on numerous occasions. Despite questioning whether he even noticed my attention, I tried to play it cool and not stare. Wiping down the already clean tables around him, I observed his ritual with the sugar packets: Take one out, set it on the table. He did this sporadically through each visit. The oddity could have been annoying but he always put them back in the sugar holder before he left. And thankfully he didn’t mangle them. His body seemed to stiffen when I stopped next to his table. I waited for his eyes to meet mine, which took a second longer than I would have liked, but I wasn’t backing down. “Did I mention I’ll be open Christmas Day?” His usual controlled expression gave way to a tiny curl at the edge of his lips. Nodding, he said, “You did.” My heart filled with promise. Maybe I could win him over after all. “I hope you’ll stop by. Wouldn’t want you to miss your daily coffee fix.” “Okay.” His damn curt answers gave me nothing to go on. “What do you work on every day?” I tried to pry my way through the small opening he’d given. “Work.” His eyes darted back to the screen and his fingers hovered over the laptop’s keys. Nana would have smacked him for that useless answer, but I opted not to move our relationship ahead with something so dramatic. Standing beside his table for a beat, I hoped he would offer more. Nope. “Okay, then. Back to work.” I patted his hand and the fleeting contact warmed my soul, left me believing I needed more. He needed more. But I couldn’t know that. Sucking in a breath, I convinced myself to walk away. Nana’s ramblings about Christmas being the one day of the year our coffee could help people find their true love looked like my only option.

Excerpt from # 2: The background--Barry doesn’t have to ask if Luna got her guy. The grins on both of their faces when they walk out of her office tell him everything. Barry’s glad he didn’t show up any sooner, that could have been embarrassing. (the story from #1). Coffee? Luck? Confidence? No one will ever know, but Barry’s ready to take the plunge and find out if the guy Becca’s always with, Charlie, is her boyfriend. He hatches a plan to take her a cup of the magical coffee... Excerpt-Pulling in to the parking lot at the ice rink, sanity begged me to reconsider. Showing up was definitely weird. At least if I’d brought three drinks, I could have played my desperate attempt off as friendly. Shit. The longer I sat in the parking space, the worse my plan seemed. No casual ‘fancy meeting you here, want a coffee’. My actions had clearly been premeditated. My stomach sank. On a positive note, there was the clearing in the storm. Charlie’s car was in the lot, and I only knew what he drove because they’d parked in front of the shop so many times. I’d absorbed every detail about Becca, down to what kind of car she and her friends drove. The memory of Luna and Liam bolstered me. That’s what I wanted, a chance with the girl of my dreams. I shoved the end of my scarf over my shoulder, grabbed the coffees, and exited the car. Asking her out was something I could have done on numerous occasions, yet I hadn’t. If she brushed me off as insane, I wouldn’t fault her. And if I wanted to avoid that damning label, I could get back in my car and wait for the next time she came for her coffee fix. The other issue was pissing off a possible boyfriend. But I didn’t want to skip out on the Christmas magic, if there was any. I bit the inside of my cheek. Was I going to buy into Nana’s mumbo jumbo?

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

63


DAWN BROWER & Bella, Loki & Thor

constant letters to the editor. She loves wearing clothing so much. Once it cools down she lives in two or three sweaters. If any blankets hit the ground they are the dogs now. She’ll roll them all up into her giant nest in the middle of the living room by the heater.

DEBORAH GARLAND & Harley

I never thought I would love having dogs. My son wanted a dog when he was in elementary school so we adopted Bella. She decided I was her human and has been attached to me ever since, which upset my so. Flash forward to over a year ago at the start of his senior year. He wanted another dog. I agreed to let him get another puppy. We ended up with two: Loki and Thor. This is one of the first pictures of the three dogs together. I cannot imagine not having them in my life. Bella is almost all white, Thor has a black patch around his eye, and Loki is Brown and white.

ELLEN MINT & Essie This is my dog Essie. She’s named after Granny Weatherwax from Discworld but is 100% a Magrat. While she was a ball of energy when younger, she’s leaned hard into being an old grump once she reached the age of 10. I’m glad she can’t type or we’d probably receive

64 | UncagedBooks.com

As a full-time author who writes from home, I spend all day with my beloved pug Harley. I feature him every month on my newsletter with fun pictures and a small story of his latest antics, whether it’s him sitting on my writing notes, licking my touch screen, or having a meltdown because he wants my attention. A few years ago, my husband and I bought a summer trailer up in Maine and while he’s off for the summers, my writing schedule is a twelvemonth commitment. So I bring my laptop, set it up, and work. That doesn’t mean the pug is happy about it up there either.

ELYZABETH M. VALEY & Brego, Gildor & Millennium


A U T H O RS A N D T H E I R P E TS Pets and companions come in many shapes and sizes. From furry to feathered to hairy and scaley - there is a place for all of them. Authors have a special relationship with their pets - whether they remind them to get up and take a break or they inspire their writing. Meet the critters that share their love and devotion to Uncaged Feature Authors.

Brego, the black Labrador, is my baby. He just turned eight in June, and due to a heart condition, we’ve had to retire from agility training, which was something we’d been doing for the past five years. His favorite things to do are eat, shred toys and jump into muddy puddles. If you don’t have a treat, he won’t let you pet him. Gildor, mama’s golden boy, is the youngest of the family. Not even two yet, he’s a bundle of neverending energy. We’ve just started agility training a few months ago and he enjoys it even if he has a hard time focusing. He’s afraid of strangers, so though he likes eating, he won’t take a treat from anyone. His favorite things are finding tissues (and eating them if he can), and being cuddled and petted. Millennium or Milli for short, is my little old lady. She’s over 19 years old and has always been fiercely independent. She enjoys sleeping in the sun, meowing at 3am and occasionally pestering the dogs.

CRAIG DILOUIE & Dumbledore

Dumbledore is our rescue cat. He’s a Siamese cross and a very good boy, and we’ve had him in our family for about a year. The kids named him Dumbledore because he looks like a wizard. He’s very affectionate and playful and is great company, and we were happy to give him a loving home. Issue 41 | December 2019 |

65


LINDA BRADLEY & Maisey

CYRENE & Swagger I have a mob of pets. Mainly because I seem to like them more than most people, at least that’s what my family says. I will feature one each month - and you can get a small peek into the life I lead on a small farm.

This is Maisey. My husband and I rescued her in 2013, and often think she was the one doing the rescuing. She’s not shy about asking for a treat or head-butting us when she wants a walk. She loves a car ride or a trip to the beach. She has quite the personality! Last summer, I needed a photo of Maggie’s Way so I took the book outside and set it with a vase of flowers. By the time I had my shot ready, Maisey had made herself part of the photo shoot.

A few months after we brought home Ana, I adopted Swagger. Swagger is a 10 yr. old Standardbred mare that is a retired pacer. From what the breeder/trainer said, she wasn’t all that interested in racing, so she was released to Racer Placers, the rescue organization I’ve worked with for a couple years now. Swagger was the horse I was looking at when I wanted to adopt, but she was scheduled to be spayed, so I would have to wait for a few months. She was worth waiting for. Swagger has a large personality and is an alpha mare, and she’s picky about who she likes. She’s the boss in the pasture and at 16.1 hands, she is the tallest of our horses and my main riding horse (which figures since I’m only 5’4”). She’s amazing on the trails, not much bothers her, probably due to her time on the noisy and busy racetracks. Everytime she sees me from the pasture, she whinnies and starts walking toward me. There isn’t a better feeling in this world than being loved by a horse. The feeling is mutual.

66 | UncagedBooks.com


l i n da b r adl e y

L

inda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her women’s fiction highlights characters that peel away outer layers of life to discover the heart of their dreams with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Her writing integrates humor found in everyday situations, as well as touching moments that make readers connect with her characters. Linda lives in Michigan with her husband and rescue dog. Christmas Blurb: (I included this blurb in the first question of the interview. I hope that’s okay. See interview file. Should I re-answer the question?) Chloe and John McIntyre await Maggie Abernathy’s arrival at the 617 Ranch, but snowfall has halted flights from Michigan to Montana. While Maggie and her mother prepare for a delayed departure, eight-year-old Chloe prepares for disappointment by inviting her Hollywood mother to the ranch in hopes of filling the void. Brook’s unexpected acceptance raises the stakes for John who longs for the perfect Christmas. This cast of misfits bands together in true Montana Bound style when unexpected guests arrive and a curious dog goes missing.

Stay Co n n e c te d LindaBradleyAuthor.com

68 | UncagedBooks.com


Uncaged welcomes Linda Bradley Uncaged: You released, A Montana Bound Christmas two years ago, can you tell readers more about this book and the Montana Bound series as a whole? The Montana Bound Series revolves around middleaged Maggie Abernathy. She’s a divorced second grade teacher diagnosed with cancer. Her wish is to recuperate in solitude while on summer vacation. This proves difficult when precocious seven-yearold, Chloe McIntyre and her father John move in next door. With Maggie’s grown son away, her exhusband in the shadows, and her meddling mother’s unexpected visits somehow Maggie’s empty house becomes a home again. As the series progresses, Maggie searches for her way as John and Chloe’s life decisions cause rift and heartache. When John’s dad from Montana arrives on the scene things get even tougher. In A Montana Bound Christmas, Chloe and her father John await Maggie Abernathy’s arrival at the 617 Ranch, but snowfall halts all flights from Michigan to Montana. While Maggie and her mother prepare for a delayed departure, Chloe prepares for disappointment by inviting her Hollywood mother and John’s ex-wife, Brook to the ranch in hopes of filling the void. Her unexpected acceptance raises the stakes for John who longs for the perfect Christmas. This cast of misfits bands together in true Montana Bound style when unexpected guests arrive and a curious dog goes missing. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I have completed a women’s fiction novel with mystical elements. It’s currently out on submission, and I hope to share it with readers soon. I’m also working on another series set in Montana. There will be many characters from the Montana Bound Series meshing with a crop of new characters. In Issue 41 | December 2019 |

69


these books, Chloe McIntyre has grown into a stubborn fine young woman who can wrangle cattle better than any farmhand, and she’s determined to run the 617 Ranch along side her father despite heartbreaking setbacks. Uncaged: You attend a lot of in-person events and signings. Do you have anything lined up or are considering for 2020? At the moment, I don’t have any big plans for events or signings. I’m attending a Mid-Michigan RWA writing retreat in April. June 2020 will prove to be exciting as I will begin to write full-time. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? I’d like to have lunch with Women’s Fiction 70 | UncagedBooks.com

novelist Elizabeth LaBan. I recently had the opportunity to meet and chat with her at an event in Michigan. Her kindness and sense of humor were infectious. I’d love to talk about books and life with her. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Absolutely. Characters tend to develop minds of their own when story lines develop. Straying from intended paths can lead to wonderful scenes and character growth. However, unexpected happenings can sometimes just lead to a lot of rewriting. Uncaged:What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I like to paint, bake, and travel. Last summer, my husband and I trekked to Whitefish, Montana for a week


of riding, relaxing, and making new friends. Sometimes you can find me binge watching Netflix or the Cooking Channel. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Success is achieving a dream. It’s holding a published copy of my work in my hands, knowing readers are leaving reviews and asking for another book. Success is receiving a fan letter and having someone tell me my story changed their life. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books?

| LINDA BRADLEY | I’m old-fashioned. I love a physical book. My son once told me, I’d be sad if I couldn’t hold a book and smell the paper. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? First, I’d like to say thank you! I’ve gotten requests to write more books for the Montana Bound Series, and it excites me to know that readers want more adventures involving the cast of Maggie’s Way. Readers can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and Book Bub

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

71


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Enjoy an excerpt from A Montana Bound Christmas A Montana Bound Christmas Linda Bradley Western/Holiday Romance Chloe and John McIntyre await Maggie Abernathy’s arrival at the 617 Ranch, but snowfall has halted flights from Michigan to Montana. While Maggie and her mother prepare for a delayed departure, eight-year-old Chloe prepares for disappointment by inviting her Hollywood mother to the ranch in hopes of filling the void. Brook’s unexpected acceptance raises the stakes for John who longs for the perfect Christmas. This cast of misfits bands together in true Montana Bound style when unexpected guests arrive and a curious dog goes missing. Excerpt CHAPTER 1 John “DAD, WHEN’S MAGGIE going to get here?” Chloe’s breath fogged up the picture window. Her gaze scanned the snowy Montana mountains. “I hope she makes it in time for Christmas.”
Ruffling Chloe’s dishwater-blond mane, I prayed like hell Maggie and her mother, Glad, would get here soon. Traveling had come to a halt across the country thanks to the winter storm, but at least Maggie and Glad were safe at home and not sleeping on some airport floor like the many interviewed on the news. Feeling anxious, I massaged my temples. Wrapping my arms around Maggie and kissing her lips were the only Christmas presents I needed. 72 | UncagedBooks.com

“Not sure, Pumpkin. Depends on the flights.” Crossing paths with Maggie the summer before last was like finding a rose bush on top of a mountain while searching for gold. As much as she resisted, her heart finally won. We all won. Acquiring Glad in the deal was a bonus. Without hesitation, she’d taken a special liking to Chloe. They’d bonded instantly through their love of mischief. Glad was like the grandmother Chloe never had, and her sense of humor cut to the quick. Glad wore her heart on her sleeve and was the only one capable of giving Maggie a run for her money when Maggie needed a challenge. Glad was Maggie’s mother first and foremost, but their relationship—built on sarcastic wit, middle-naming, and genuine love—was most unique. “Maggie has to get here.” Chloe drew a heart in the moisture on the frosty glass pane. She wrote her initials above Maggie’s, then she added a plus sign. “The snow is so thick you can barely see through it.” Chloe hummed a holiday tune between thoughts. “Just think, Dad, next year at this time, I’ll be nine and Maggie will have been here a whole year.” Nudging the hat back from my brow, I thought about the woman who’d stolen my heart. I never dreamed in a million years I’d fall head over heels for my Michigan neighbor lady, Maggie Abernathy. Living in Grosse Pointe hadn’t been on my agenda originally, but the picture was crystal clear why I’d established residency in the Great Lake State before coming back to Montana. If I didn’t believe in fate before, I did now, and I wanted Maggie to get here as much as Chloe. We had big plans of starting a life together and this was only the beginning. “Why couldn’t Maggie and Glad come earlier?” When Chloe spoke, deep lines appeared along the bridge of her nose. “I told you, Chloe, Maggie’s settling things with her house. Remember when we sold our house in Grosse Pointe? It takes time. Papers have to be signed, things need to be packed, and besides Maggie wanted to spend some extra time with her momma. You can understand that, right? When Christmas is over, Glad’ll fly home. I don’t think Maggie has ever really been apart from her momma.” I lifted Chloe’s chin with my index finger. My daugh-


| LINDA BRADLEY | ter’s soul shimmered behind her green stare. Hope should’ve been Chloe’s middle name because my girl never gave up when the chips were down. “Glad’s house is where Maggie grew up. Maggie’s saying her last goodbye.” Chloe’s expression tugged at my heart like the snap of a lasso when wrangling a wild pony. “I know what you mean. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten used to being apart from my momma, but maybe that’ll change someday. Hollywood sure is a far way away.” Chloe’s momma was nothing like Maggie, and I wondered if I’d ever shed the guilt from our failed marriage that had left my daughter living with her old man. Chloe longed for a normal household, whatever that was in this day and age. Smiling at Chloe, I wished she’d see the well of hope I carried myself. “I guess so, but I want Maggie to be here. It’s almost Christmas. We have so much to do.” “I want Maggie here, too, Peanut, but it is what it is.” Resting my hands on Chloe’s thin shoulders, I prayed for the skies to clear so our Maggie’s arrival was sooner than later. “Maggie promised she’d make cookies with me. Christmas will be here before you know it. This is our first Montana Christmas, and I want it to be perfect.” Chloe leaned her forehead against the window, closed her eyes then whispered in the sweetest of voices, “Please Lord, it’s me, Chloe. I know I can be kind of a pain, but can you please help Maggie and Glad get here, and fast?” “Come here, Peanut.” Opening my arms, I scooped my little girl up. My cheek grazed hers. Nothing compared to her soft touch when pangs of disappointment bristled. On the outside, my daughter was as tough as they come, but on the inside, she was soft and cuddly. Chloe rested her head against my shoulder, her warm breath like butterfly kisses upon my neck. “Are you going to marry Maggie?” “Without a doubt.” My heart pounded as I imagined sharing life with the woman I loved. “Don’t you worry.” “Good,” Chloe whispered. “I can feel your heartbeat against mine. I think we both love her.”

“This is where Maggie needs to be, Peanut.” Holding my daughter tight, I breathed her in. She was a wee one, but something told me the years would pass in a blink of an eye if I wasn’t careful. “I love you, Daddy.”
 “I love you, too, Munchkin.”
Outside, heaping mounds of snow grew deeper with each passing hour. If Maggie and Glad couldn’t get to the 617 Ranch before Christmas morning this was going to be some Montanabound holiday.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

73


| SHORT STORY | “Very well. Continue on.”

Miracle on Castle Street USA Today Bestselling Author

Amanda Mariel Chapter 1 England, 1814 Lady Nicollet Wentworth clicked her locket shut as the carriage jerked to a stopped. With her fingers curled around the golden bauble, she released a breath. “What on earth was going on?” She pulled the curtain aside to peek out the window. Nothing but snow for as far as she could see. Large fluffy flakes fell from the sky, and the ground was blanketed in white, making it impossible to distinguish the road from the surrounding countryside. She tapped on the window separating her from her coachman. He slid the glass open. “My Lady.” A blistering cold breeze filled the conveyance sending a shiver through her. “Why have we stopped?” “I’m afraid the roads are becoming impassable. If we continue much farther, we are likely to get stuck,” The coachman said. Nicollet rubbed her thumb across her lockets surface. She’d hoped to reach her family’s home by nightfall, but it would not do to put them all in danger. It seemed she had no choice. “What do you propose?” “If we are lucky enough to reach the next town, we should find lodgings and ride out the storm.” The coachman glanced back out at the road. “I’m afraid the snow won’t be letting up anytime soon.” Nicollet sighed. “How far are we from lodgings?” “Canterbury is about a mile down the road, Ma’am.” 78 | UncagedBooks.com

The coachman gave a nod, then slid the window closed. A moment later, the carriage jerked into motion. Nicollet slid her feet closer to the warming block grateful for the heat it provided. The winter’s chill had seeped into her bones causing her to shiver. After repositioning her lap blanket, Nicollet opened her locket and stared at her husband’s miniature. What she would give to have his arms around her at this moment. Tears stung her eyes. Regardless of the time that had passed, she still found it hard to believe he’d been killed. Pain pricked her heart as she recalled the last kiss they’d shared. He’d been called to duty, and after saying their farewells, he’d pulled her tight against him capturing her lips in an all-consuming kiss. The last words he’d spoken to her rang through her mind: Be strong, my love. Had he expected that he wouldn’t survive the war? She shook her head, no. He couldn’t have, because he’d followed those words with: I’ll hold you in my heart until I have you in my arms once more. With a final squeeze of her hands, he released her, turned, and mounted his horse. His smile had been bright, his hazel eyes sparkling as he rode away. A fresh batch of tears clouded her eyes, and she dashed them away. Nicollet pressed her lips to the locket. “I love you, Michael. I always will.” Her declaration whispered through the conveyance only adding to her loneliness. Perhaps she should have stayed home for the holiday. It had only been six months since she received the news that Michael had perished in the war. She remained in mourning and had no doubt her heart would always ache for him. It was too soon for her to be out even if she were only venturing to her parent’s home. She’d be a spoilsport, ruining the festivities for everyone else. Rather than enjoying the holiday, her parents and siblings would spend their time in vain at-


| AMANDA MARIEL | tempts to cheer her up. Nothing would improve her mood. How could it? She’d lost her husband, her soul mate, the love of her life. And now things were even worse. She’d be forced to spend the night in unfamiliar surroundings with nothing other than her memories for company. A merry Christmastide, indeed. Nicollet drew in a deep, stabilizing breath. Michael would not want this for her. She had to pull herself together and find a way to go on. How hard could it be when she’d already faced so much? She would be brave. Strong. Nicollet would find a way to continue without Michael. She had to. One second, one smile, one holiday at a time. “Lord give me strength.” Nicollet lifted a prayer before leaning her head back against the carriage wall.  

Chapter 2 Bloody hell, it was freezing. Wind and snow swirled around Michael Wentworth, his cloak doing little to shield him from nature’s rage as he galloped toward Canterbury. His stallion’s breath came out in great white clouds as the horse carried him toward his destination—his beloved Nicollet. The moment he’d gained his freedom from Napoleon’s men, he’d procured passage across the channel, then back on English soil he traded his pistol for a horse. He was determined to have Nicollet back in his arms by Christmastide. Michael nudged his mount urging it to speed up. “Come Comet.” The horse did as he wished, racing down the snow covered road. “Good boy,” Michael praised, holding the reins a little tighter. So long as the storm did not pick up strength, he would reach her parents home before the holiday ended. He glanced up toward the heavy grey clouds. One thing was certain—the storm showed no indication of stopping. Pray, let me reach Nicollet in time for the holiday.

Michael wished he had a gift for his love. A pretty bauble of some sort, or a new frock. Not that she would care. Nicollet had long ago told him that things were not important, that she only required love. He had to agree, for there was nothing he desired more than to be with her. She was his everything—his dreams, his soul, the one thing that kept him alive during his imprisonment. How many nights had he laid awake cold, hungry, and in pain with nothing but thought of her to save his sanity? Memories of her—of them lending him warmth and hope. Lord, he’d give anything—everything to hold her now. To feel her skin touching his, her lips pressed to his. To stare into her golden eyes, run his fingers through her silken chestnut hair. His pulse speed at the thought and he leaned lower over Comet’s back urging the horse forward. By the time he neared Canterbury the snow had picked up in intensity, and the winds blew so hard that his hands stung despite the heavy leather gloves covering them. Snow drifts piled up on the road, ice patches creating hazardous conditions for him and his horse. With a heavy heart, Michael made the decision to seek shelter. Most of the town lay in silence as its residents sought shelter from nature’s fury. Doors were tightly closed, smoke billowed from chimneys, and the streets were all but deserted. Michael brought Comet to a stop outside of the first inn he reached. With numb fingers, he secured the horse to a post then entered the Wild Rose. Welcoming heat greeted him as the door closed behind him. He glanced around the dark room, his gaze landing on a man seated at a table near the hearth. “Sir,” Michael said, making his way deeper into the room. “Excuse me, sir.” The man lifted his head to peer at Michael through sleep-laden eyes. “Are you the innkeeper?” Michael moved closer to Issue 41 | December 2019 |

79


| SHORT STORY | the warmth of the fire. “I am.” The man ground his palms against his tired face before rising to his feet. “How may I help you?” “Have you any rooms available?” The man shook his head. “I’m afraid not. With this weather and so many traveling for the holiday we filled up fast.” Michael pressed his lips together in thought. All wasn’t lost, there were many inns in Canterbury. “Might you know of another establishment where I can procure lodgings?” “As I said, many have sought rooms. I’d be surprised if there are any left empty.” The man turned toward the stairs at the sound of footfalls. A rotund woman dressed in a brown frock of rough material came into view. “Kitty,” the innkeeper called. “Do you know of any available rooms?” The woman brows drew together as she turned kind green eyes on Michael. “There are none. Last I heard, stranded travelers were being directed to Klaus Haus.” A light blush crept into her cheeks. “It’s not an inn mind you, but it’s better than freezing to death in the streets.” “Thank you, ma’am.” Michael gave a nod of appreciation. He didn’t care what the establishment was so long as he could secure a warm place to sleep. He’d not be staying long at any rate. The moment this dreadful weather let up, he’d be back on his way to Nicollet. Michael stepped away from the fire then asked, “Would you be so kind as to provide me with directions?”

allow nothing else to prevent him from reaching her. They’d already been apart for far too long. He patted his pocket where he’d tucked her perfume scented handkerchief. Soon my love.  

Chapter 3 Nicollet could scarcely believe where she found herself as she alighted from her carriage. The building radiated warm light from the bright lamps burning within. Laughter, song, and loud voices poured out of the establishment. Bold colored drapes framed the frost covered windows blocking her view, but she could well imagine what lay beyond the doors. Heavens, Michael must be rolling in his grave at the very idea of her entering a brothel. Wellbred women did not enter such establishments—not for any reason—and yet, here she was. And on Christmas Eve no less! She should be arriving at her parents in a few hours. Attending midnight services at their parish and attempting to make merry with her siblings while they saw the mistletoe hung. She most certainly should not be seeking shelter at a brothel. But then what choice did she have? Every inn in Canterbury was full to capacity. If she refused to enter Klaus Haus, she’d likely perish in the storm. “Are you alright, Ma’am?” Her coachman asked, concern furrowing his brow. Nicollet pulled in a steadying breath. “Yes, I’m fine. You go see to the horses.” He gave a nod, then returned to the carriage.

The innkeeper pointed. “Go to the corner then turn onto Castle Street. You can’t miss Klaus Haus.” Michael gave a firm nod before stepping out into the raging snow storm.

Nicollet swallowed back her reservations and mounted the steps leading to the large wooden door. There were worse places she could be. Not that she could think of any at the moment, but surely there were. At least here she would be safe and warm.

Whatever Nicollet was doing, he prayed she was safe and warm. She would be back in his arms the very moment this dratted weather cleared up. He’d

Her heart beat wildly as she lifted her hand to sound the knocker. Before she caught hold of the garish golden ornament, the door swung open. A scantily

80 | UncagedBooks.com


| CINDY TOMAMICHEL | clad woman with dark red lips and coal lined eyes ushered her inside. “Come along. It’s bloody cold out there.”

“Miss.”

When Nicollet failed to take a step, the woman reached for her arm and yanked her inside. “We don’t bite.”

Mini just laughed as she shook her head. “You’ll get used to it. Now come.”

“I-Of course. I’m sorry,” Nicollet stammered as the door thumped closed behind her. The woman smiled. “I’m Minett, but everyone calls me Mini. I assume you are not here for pleasure.” Heat scorched Nicollet’s cheeks, and she averted her gaze. “No.” “Then, it is shelter you seek.” Mini nodded toward a brightly lit, garishly decorated room. “Do not fret, many others have done the same. Follow me.” Nicollet glanced back at the door with a moment of longing. Turning back to Mini, she gave a weak grin. “Thank you.” “No need for all that.” Mini shook her head. Nicollet followed the woman into the room she’d indicated a moment before. Several people were gathered within—many of them appeared to be stranded travelers. They were fully dressed and lacked the face paint and ornamentation Mini possessed. A fire burned strong in the hearth, casting heat through the room and several lamps and candles were lit. The room boasted luxurious furnishings covered in lush fabrics, bold colors and cherry wood pieces decorated the space. Nicollet’s eyes roamed over the tannenbaum, it’s green bristled branches decorated with paper roses, apples, and tinsel. She’d never seen anything like it. Probably never would again. All she could do for a long moment was stare at her surroundings. Giggling from the corridor drew her attention from the tannenbaum, and she turned her head in time to catch a glimpse of a halfnaked woman rounding the staircase.

Nicollet looked back to Mini. “Sorry.”

Mini led Nicollet into another boldly decorated room of golds and reds. She came to stand before a middleaged woman with a long face and expressive eyebrows arching over her blue eyes. An ornate turban of green and gold silk pinned with a gold brooch and three white feathers crowned her. “We have another one,” Mini said. The woman stood revealing her full height. She was much taller than most woman Nicollet had seen. She bobbed her head sending the feathers into motion. “Thank you, Mini.” Nicollet swallowed back a protest as Mini quit the room. She felt very much like a fish flopping on the beach as the other woman stared at her. Forcing air into her lungs, Nicollet waited for the woman to speak. “Welcome to Klaus Haus. I am Madam Frau Elke Klaus.” She held her hand out. Nicollet stared for a moment unsure what to do before she took the madam’s hand. She never would have imagined herself in such a position, and yet here she stood. More than that, she was finding her surroundings welcoming. These people did not seem so much different from herself. They were kind and warm. Nicollet gave a genuine smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Nicollet Wentworth.” Frau Elke gave her hand a little squeeze. “I assume you are looking for a room?” “Do you have any available?” Nicollet nibbled her lower lip, praying the madam would have one to offer her. “I won’t turn you out. There is always a way when Issue 41 | December 2019 |

81


one has a will to find it.” Frau Elke winked, her eyes taking on a decided sparkle. “That is most kind of you.” Nicollet rested a hand on her belly. “Thank you.” “It is my pleasure. Now come along and let’s see what we can manage.” Nicollet followed the madam from the room, through the hall, and back into the common area. To her surprise, more people now crowded the space. Her stomach sank a little as she studied the scene. How could there possibly be any place for her with so many people already here? “George. George come here.” Frau Elke waved a lad of no more than ten over to where they stood. Nicollet watched the boy as he made his way passed the tannenbaum. Several men and women had gathered around the festive evergreen, and a couple of them nodded to the lad as he strolled by. She could not help from wondering what the boy was doing in a brothel, though he clearly enjoyed his station. He was well kept and appeared to be well fed. Most importantly, he had a smile on his face as he came to stand before the madam. Frau Elke reached out and ruffled his hair. “This is our boy George, he does all sorts of errands for me and can surely find a space for you to spend the night.” She grinned at the lad. “Isn’t that right?” His smile widened as he nodded. “Of course I can. I’ll get right to it.”

unoccupied chair. Her gaze seized on a man standing near the entrance of the room. It couldn’t be. Her imagination had to be running wild. Too much wishful thinking, far too much… Frau Elke took her elbow, steadying her. “You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.” “I may have.” Nicollet stared harder at the man fully expecting him to evaporate—and yet he remained. “Michael.” His name left her lips a mere whisper. “Who?” Frau Elke asked. Nicollet brought her shaking hand to her lips. “My husband.” She took a tentative step toward him, Frau Elke releasing her elbow. “Michael.” This time his name left her throat with force causing several of the guests to look her way. She did not pay them any mind as she continued toward him, one tentative step after the next. He glanced at her, his hazel eyes wide with surprise. “Nicollet?” She raced across the room at the sound of her name and flung herself into his arms. Clinging to him, she buried her face in his coat. He did not dissolve. She hugged his solid mass, inhaled his scent. Her shoulders began to shake as the first tears crested her eyes. “It’s alright, my love. Everything is alright.” He placed his thumb under her chin guiding her gaze back to his. “I’m here now.”

“I knew I could count on you.”

She reached up, placing her shaking hand on his cheek. “They told me you were killed.” Nicollet traced his jaw with her fingers before bringing them to his lips. “You’re real. You’re here.”

“Wait here, and I’ll fetch ya when I have a room.” George dashed off back the way he’d come before Nicollet could reply.

He kissed her fingertips. “I was taken captive, but I’m alive and well, my love. I’m here now, and I am not going anywhere.”

“Please choose a seat and rest while you wait. Refreshments will be brought out before long.”

She moved her fingers from his warm lips to rest her hand on his chest. The steady beating of his heart matched her own racing pulse. “Oh, Michael. I’ve missed you so terribly. I thought my heart would die

“Thank you.” Nicollet glanced around looking for an 82 | UncagedBooks.com


from my sorrow.” A fresh round of salty tears trailed down her cheeks as she hugged him closer. “Thoughts of you kept me alive. Our memories brought me through all I had to endure.” He wiped her tears away. “I’ve missed you with every beat of my heart, Nicollet. I love you.” He captured her lips in a passionate kiss full of promises for the future— their future—and she knew without a doubt that he’d come back to her. “It’s a Christmas miracle.” Frau Elke’s voice broke through Nicollet’s muddled mind as a round of applause filled the room. She should care that they were creating a spectacle, but with her beloved kissing her so soundly all she could do was match his enthusiasm with her own. Michael eased his lips from her. “Merry Christmas, Nicollet.” “The merriest one ever.” She smiled up at him, her heart near to bursting with joy. He was her Christmas miracle—the only gift she truly wanted, and she’d cherish him always. The

End

Miracle on Castle Street ©Amanda Mariel All Rights Reserved. Published with permission. amandamariel.com

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

83


feature authors

thriller | paranormal romance

Craig DiLouie

Reina Torres

Elyzabeth M. VaLey


E

ver since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State.

C R A IG D I L O U IE

When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books.

S ta y Co n n e c te d CraigDiLouie.com

Please welcome Craig DiLouie Uncaged: Your latest book, Our War, seems like it could be all too real in so many ways. Can you tell readers more about this book? Published by Orbit, Our War is a literary dystopian story about a brother and sister forced to fight on opposite sides of a second American Civil War. Set in a besieged Indianapolis, we follow their story and also the lives of people they cross paths with, including a UNICEF worker, journalist, and a sergeant in a militia. Thematically, the novel is about the dangers of political tribalization and how in civil war, everybody fights, and nobody wins. Picture Omar al-Akkad’s American War meets Stephen Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo, set in contemporary America. This is not a wish-fulfillment novel for one political side or the other but instead a hard look at what a civil war might look like if it were to occur in America, and what it would cost. As inspiration, I drew on the Bosnian War of the 90s, as I believe a modern civil war in America would look

86 | UncagedBooks.com


far more like that conflict than the last civil war of the 1860s. American exceptionalism would be an early casualty, as there would be citizen militias, atrocities, shortages, refugees, and even children being used as soldiers as in other conflicts around the globe. Of course, I also took inspiration in decades of increasing polarization culminating in the Trump presidency. At the time I was writing the novel, it seemed prescient, but lately, it seems torn from today’s headlines, with impeachment underway, speculation of what might happen if Trump were to be convicted by the Senate and refuse to leave office, and the right wing calling the impeachment a “soft coup by the Deep State” and threatening civil war. We seem to be living with the proverbial curse, “May you live in interesting times,” and Our War imagines what happens if the cold civil war were to ever turn hot. Uncaged: This is a book that could potentially backfire on you in many ways with the division in the U.S. at this time. Were you worried about that when you released the book? How have readers reacted so far? Given this is a novel about a polarized America read by a polarized America, I honestly expected more blowback than I received. While the primary purpose of the book is to make readers think and feel in an immersive, gritty story, any novel about the costs of political polarization is going to feel political. In that respect, the intent was to be even-handed but pull no punches. The novel presents a spectrum of political opinion, and these opinions belong to the characters. As the author, I tried to keep myself and my own views out of it and make the story fair. While the characters have their own villains, for me as the author, the story’s real villain is the war itself, an allconsuming thing that threatens to become not a means to a new America, but an end in itself—an end that may have no ending. That being said, some people get upset when treasured mythologies are contradicted, so yes, there were a few unfavorable reviews based on that. I was happy to see, however, that the large majority of readers took Issue 41 | December 2019 |

87


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

the novel as I intended it and have given the novel glowing reviews. Even better, the novel made them think and feel, which was the ideal outcome for me as the author. This is a novel for intelligent, openminded people, and it appears to have found its intended market. Uncaged: You’ve also written some post-apocalyptic stories – can you tell us more about those? I’ve always loved apocalyptic and post-apoc stories. The end of the world as we know it is one of the oldest forms of literature on the planet, and remains fertile ground for examining ordinary people in extremely extraordinary situations. When the poop hits the fan, you really see what people are made of, and when writing that stuff, I loved challenging my characters with ethical dilemmas that forced them to redefine their humanity. While this subgenre has endured and fluctuates in 88 | UncagedBooks.com

interest based on popular perception of how turbulent and scary the real world is at a given time, the mode of apocalypse keeps evolving. The genre has seen alien invasion, nuke war, plagues, robot uprisings, meteors, EMP, zombies, and so on. After writing a number of zombie books, that market became saturated and I felt like I’d said everything needed saying, and so I moved on to other genres. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? I’d love to finally meet a few authors I’ve known on Facebook for years, such as David Moody, author of the Autumn and Hater series. David inspired me to write a zombie novel back in the day that became very popular and set me on a path to publication with major publishing houses. We still keep in touch and have even worked on a few projects together. He’s a great guy. Besides that, I’m always up for hanging out with my favorite colleagues, such as Peter Clines and John Dixon,


| CRAIG DILOUIE | and learning from very smart brand-and-craft guys like Jonathan Maberry. As for who I’d love to meet for the first time over lunch, a few come to mind, like Cormac McCarthy and James Morrow. Successful authors are the rock stars of my world, and I love to see them at conventions and learn from them. Nietzsche, I think it was, said one sentence can change your world; I’m always on the lookout for that one truth that can change my writing game and take me to the next level. I’m a better writer than I’ve ever been but not as good as I’ll be next year, and I’m always working hard to make my storytelling even better.

it, and so I kept on with it. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? I’m glad you phrased that by adding “to you,” recognizing that success is subjective instead of objective. For me, success is both literary and commercial. Commercial success brings money and money is good, and more important, commercial success supports me doing more of what I love. That being said, literary success is far more satisfying for me. Awards, good reader and critical reviews, all of these things for me is what success looks like.

Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began?

Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books?

All the time! First off, let me say I’m a plotter, as for me, knowing where I’m going with a story is essential to efficient storytelling. This entails determining plot and pinch points in a four-act story architecture (inciting incident/reaction/attack/all in), determining character arcs (misbelief or flaw/disruption/change), or more often both working together.

I read physical and eBooks depending on the mood I’m in. Sometimes, I just crave the tactile experience and appreciation of good design that you can only get with a physical book. I love my Kindle in that it’s easily transportable and I can go on trips with an entire library in a single device, and it’s also a way to try out new authors with less cost and environmental guilt.

While being a plotter, that’s not to say everything is known in advance. The plotting gives me major goalposts and a beginning and end. Everything else in between is written organically via a process of creative discovery. Many times, a character has decided to do something differently than I’d originally imagined, and I have to adjust the story. This is part of the joy of writing, where you create people, events, and a world, and they all take on a life of their own. Uncaged: Since this is our holiday issue, it wouldn’t be fair that I don’t ask you a related question, lol, what is a favorite holiday tradition that you have? I found with my kids that they would get overstimulated on Christmas Day, so I started spreading out the joy of the holiday by allowing them to open a gift a day for several days preceding. That way, they really get to enjoy their gifts as they receive some of them one at a time. It was something I tried, the kids absolutely love

Audiobooks are wonderful, especially for me as an author when I hear my work read—I feel like a reader instead of the author while listening. However, I just don’t have the patience for it; I tend to zone out or get distracted. That’s just how my brain works. I do one thing at a time and then I do it with extreme focus. It’s also why I don’t listen to music when I write, though it would be cool to say I did. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d say writers survive on reviews, so if you like a book, please take just a single moment from your day and leave a good review on Amazon or Goodreads. I’d also say to never be shy about writing to your favorite authors. More often than not, they’ll love to hear from you and your note will make their day. For me, these things are more satisIssue 41 | December 2019 |

89


| FEATURE AUTHOR | fying than any level of commercial success. Finally, to my own fans, I say thank you! Thank you for reading my stuff and joining me on this journey, which for me has been gratifying and humbling. For those who’d like to stay tuned on new releases, sign up for my new release mailing list and visit my blog at www.CraigDiLouie.com, where you can learn not only about my work but also other media, like books and movies, I review on the site. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter, though I’m more active on Facebook.

Enjoy an excerpt from Our War Our War Craig DiLouie Political Thriller A prescient and gripping novel of a second American civil war, and the children caught in the conflict, forced to fight. Our children are our soldiers. After his impeachment, the president of the United States refuses to leave office, and the country erupts into a fractured and violent war. Orphaned by the fighting and looking for a home, 10-year-old Hannah Miller joins a citizen militia in a besieged Indianapolis. In the Free Women militia, Hannah finds a makeshift family. They’ll teach her how to survive. They’ll give her hope. And they’ll show her how to use a gun. Hannah’s older brother, Alex, is a soldier too. But he’s loyal to other side, and has found his place in a militant group of fighters who see themselves as the last bastion of their America. By following their orders, Alex will soon make the ultimate decision behind the trigger. On the battlefields of America, Hannah and Alex will risk everything for their country, but in the end they’ll fight for the only cause that truly matters each other. Excerpt Chapter 2 The Canadian Air Force transport plane trembled on air pockets at fifteen thousand feet. Gabrielle Justine sat clenched in her metal chair attached to the bulkhead. She wore a blue helmet, flak jacket, parachute, and around her neck an oxygen mask. To her left, tarpaulin-covered wood crates

90 | UncagedBooks.com


| CRAIG DILOUIE | filled the cargo hold. Twenty tons of milk and cheese. Cold air whistled through the compartment, bringing a strong whiff of fuel and canvas. Corporal Kassar smiled at her from his seat on the opposite bulkhead. Goggles and a dashing red scarf complemented his uniform. The other crewman chewed gum while reading a paperback. “You’re UN, right?” the corporal shouted over the propeller hum. “UNICEF.” She didn’t trust herself to speak. She nodded. “But you’re from Quebec,” he added. “Your accent.” Gabrielle spoke French as her first language. “Yes.” “Here to help the children. Very noble. First time in the jungle?” Booms sounded far below. They were getting close now. Gabrielle turned to look out the nearest window. From way up here, Indianapolis appeared peaceful through a smoky haze. Indy, the locals called it. The crossroads of America. Then she spotted the scarred ground marking the contact line, battlefields and trenches among houses and strip malls. The city and its population of some nine hundred thousand people had been under siege for nearly a year. No sane person would come here by choice. The gum-chewing crewman called out without looking up from his paperback, “What’s the difference between a smart and a stupid American?” Kassar rolled his eyes at the old joke. “The smart one is watching the war on TV in Canada.” Gabrielle flinched as light flashed on the ground. The crewman set down his novel and threw her a sharp look. “The same joke now goes for Canadians, it looks like.” Two years ago, the Democrats retook Congress and impeached President Philip Marsh. After the Senate convicted him, he refused to leave office, and in the end, it was the bulk of Congress that fled Washington, DC. The military wavered as massive protests swept the country. Armed groups seized government buildings and TV stations, triggering a civil war. When UNICEF put out a call for field operatives to go to America, Gabrielle quit her safe job buried in a humanitarian relief organization and took a contract. In Indianapolis, she’d evaluate the needs of the city’s children. It promised to be hard work, and dangerous. But worthwhile. Her friends worried she’d lost her mind. Her parents had begged her not to go. Dad told her she was smart

and young and had a long life filled with choices ahead of her. She was already helping children at her current job. Why risk life and limb? She could do more good in the field. She wanted to take part in history. Gabrielle gave him every answer except the truth, which was long ago, if a single man hadn’t taken a risk on her behalf, she’d be dead. She was tired of helping from a safe distance. It was time for her to pay it forward, take her own risks, and try to make a difference. Now that she was here, she wondered if she’d made the right decision. Gabrielle sighted the sprawling airport. So close. Then the plane tilted and cut off her view. “Why haven’t we started descending?” Kassar grinned. “Because we don’t want to get shot down.” He leveled out his hand and angled it toward the deck. The plane had to maintain altitude to avoid ground fire and then plunge for a rapid landing. She grabbed onto the canvas webbing and prayed. “Dieu nous protège.” The C-130 Hercules dropped out of the sky. “Here we go,” the corporal said. Alarms shrilled from the cockpit, automatic systems warning the plane wasn’t being flown properly. The plane screamed in its descent. Corporal Kassar reached into the folds of his scarf, found a talisman, and kissed it for luck. “Hey, UN,” he said. Gabrielle stared at him, unable to speak. The airframe was shaking. “Hey!” “What?!” “Are you seeing anybody?” “Are you kidding me?” “Can I take you to dinner sometime?” “No,” she said. “Maybe. I don’t know!” Anything, she prayed. Just let me survive this. Her stomach lurched as the transport plane leveled out. Giant wheels slammed asphalt, carbon brakes screeching. Gabrielle gaped out the window at the blessed ground. Armored personnel carriers flashed by on the tarmac. Hesco walls surrounded the airport like a medieval town. She prayed again—this time that she hadn’t made a huge mistake coming here.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

91


C ATC H UP

GINGER RING RETURNS TO TELL US ABOUT THE RE-RELEASE OF GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS AND WILD DEADWOOD READS CONVENTION IN 2020

92 | UncagedBooks.com


Catching Up with Ginger Ring Uncaged: Welcome back to Uncaged! You are rereleasing a previously published title called, Getting Down to Business with new material added and a swanky new cover. Can you tell us about the story and what made you decide to re-release the book? Getting Down to Business was a fun and sexy story that I wrote about six years ago. After years of thinking about writing a book, this was the first time I actually sat down and did it. At the time Fifty Shades of Grey was the hottest book on the market, so I decided to really turn up the heat. Getting Down to Business was an erotic cougar story and was well loved by a lot of readers. Since then I have written stories that are more my style. Stories that are contemporary, historical, and romantic suspense. I also wanted to write something that I felt comfortable having family members read. Lol When I got the rights back to this story, I decided to write it my way. It still has a lot of sexy scenes, but I tried to tone them down a bit and add more of the background of the characters. What made them tick and what made them do the things they did. It’s a fun and flirty story about a career woman named Jessie. She’s a traveling car parts salesperson who never considered trading in her work for a house with a white picket fence. That is until she meets a young mechanic that turns her life upside down. He’s starting a business and she’d be perfect for the job as his manager, but can the two accomplish working together and keep things business only? Getting Down to Business was originally a short story but I had so many readers asking for more that I ended up writing a Christmas novella with writer Ryan O’Leary. I’ve added that in this book as well, so you are getting two stories for the price of one. I had a beautiful cover for the first edition, but when I got the rights back, I had to make my own. Kim Killion of the Killion group helped me choose the wonderful

new image for the front of the book. She also designed it, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I am just finishing up Chasing Arlo, which will be the last book in the Genoa Mafia Series. I’m very excited to finally tell his story and to also recap all the lives and loves of the characters in this series. Uncaged: Do you have any holiday traditions that you can tell us about? We don’t do a lot but I always enjoy seeing family during the holidays that I don’t get to see too often. I love baking cookies and always eat way too much!! I also enjoy sending out and receiving Christmas cards. Uncaged: I know you’ve been busy with next year’s Wild Deadwood Reads. What is one of the funnest parts of this convention? Is there anything new for 2020? For me, the most fun is hearing how much people enjoy going there. The town of Deadwood is a major part of the event and then there are all the wonderful things to see and do around there. People bring their whole families, so there really is something there for everyone to enjoy. It’s great getting together with people who love reading and books as much as I do. As always, we try to combine local sites and activities that we think people will enjoy participating in. On Thursday afternoon we have a ‘learning day’ where authors, aspiring authors, and readers interested in how the writing world work can attend four free talks. The subjects so far include: learning about audiobooks, using your senses to create memories and meaning to your stories, and Suzan Tisdale will be sharing tips on character development and improving your craft. Issue 41 | December 2019 |

93


Thursday night is a meet and great out on the patio of the Deadwood Mountain Grand Resort. Friday we are offering a bus trip to Devil’s Tower and a guided tour of the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis. Friday night is a book reading with drinks and desserts. Saturday morning there is a breakfast with the authors followed by the book signing. Saturday evening there will be a family fun movie night at the hotel. People interesting in attending and wishing to purchase tickets to the different events can find that information on our website http://wilddeadwoodreads. com/ We also have a couple great cover models attending this year, Michael Foster and Robert Kelly. Michael does an amazing job as our MC for the book signing and Robert will be on the cover of Chasing Arlo, so he will be available to sign books and greet readers.

Ginger Ring is an awardwinning author with a weakness for cheese, dark chocolate, and the Green Bay Packers. She loves reading, watching great movies, and has a quirky sense of humor. Publishing a book has been a lifelong dream of hers and she is excited to share her romantic stories with you. Her heroines are classy, sassy and in search of love and adventure. When Ginger isn’t tracking down old gangster haunts or stopping at historical landmarks, you can find her on the backwaters of the Mississippi River fishing with her husband.

gingerring.com

94 | UncagedBooks.com

Getting Down to Business Ginger Ring Contemporary Romance Releases December 17 Tired of living life out of a suitcase, traveling auto parts sales representative Jessie Knutson jumps at the chance for a job close to home. But when a flat tire keeps her from an appointment and the sexy tow truck driver awakens her inner cougar, she realizes all work and no play has done a number on her libido. Now the only position she’s interested in is naked and pressed tightly against the hot, younger man whose eyes say she’s more than just a one night stand. But will her beckoning wander-lust pull her away from the stability he offers? BJ Spencer has no time for love with an auto parts store to run, though he yearns to find the right woman someday. So when the smoking hot redhead he rescues alongside the road gives him a sexy smile, he remembers sometimes a man needs to enjoy the finer things in life. Long legs encased in thigh-highs are definitely fine, Jessie seems to be total perfection in a tempting package. But BJ has been used before, and mixing business and pleasure is something he avoids at all costs. But losing Jessie might be too high a price to pay… This book is for ages 18 and older. It was previous published and additional material has been added.


Reina torres Uncaged welcomes Reina Torres Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about your different series you have running?

L

ove – Romance – Books

Aren’t they all the same thing? Oh, I sure hope so!

I’ve been reading romance books for what seems like forever. When I was a teen, the days that I wasn’t in dance class after school I’d go to the mall to wait for my mom to finish work for the day and my haunt of choice… Waldenbooks. (I think I just showed my age there.) Whether it was Scottish Lairds, Medieval Knights, Regency Gents, Rough and Tumble Cowboys, or handsome modern Heroes, I loved them all! There was always another hero and heroine to follow through page after page of breathless love! I really hope that my readers will enjoy some of the same thrills as discover characters to love between the pages of my books.

Stay Connected

reinatorres.com

I had to look at my schedule for 2020 to answer this: Delta Force Hawaii – The State of Hawaii is a military hub in the Pacific – What better way to have romance in Hawaii than with the Delta Force (Books 1 & 2 are out, at least 3 & 4 in 2020) Military-ContemporaryHeat Sylvan City Alphas – Shapeshifters went public when tiger Devlin Kerr had to give up the age-old secret to save his mate on live television. Since then, shifters have flocked to Sylvan City to live their lives in the open and find their mates. (Books 1 through 4 are out books 5 and 6 in the first half of 2020 – finishing the series) Paranormal-Contemporary-Heat Mystic Mountain – With the success of Shapeshifters coming into the public eye, there are still places where shifters have been living in the open for generations but kept from the scrutiny of mundane humans by their secluded locations. Mystic Mountain is a place where shapeshifters can enjoy a quiet life in the mountains. (Book 1- Winter is available for Presale – Books 2 and 3 set for 2020) Paranormal-Contemporary-Heat The Suttons: An American Legacy (Starting in February 2020) – Book 1 – Jesse is set in the early 1970s when a war veteran takes the heavy mantle of running his family’s business onto his shoulders. Not everyone runs a ranch which doubles as a Western Movie Set for Hollywood. This book is how Jesse finds the love of his life! The books coming after it will be their five sons – the next generation of Suttons. Contemporary-HeatWestern Elements


Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? Besides all the stuff up above… I have several books coming out in the HOWLS imprint – HOWLS is a mashup of high concept Harlequin-like stories and Shapeshifters!!! My first Paranormal/Shapeshifter trilogy was part of Howls – Orsino Security followed bearshifting brothers Salvatore, Valerio, & Uberto as they found their mates and Happy Ever Afters! I really like the energy of the group and there will be at least two if not three more shapeshifter species that I will tackle in the books. There’s also Center City First Responders – Fire, Po-

lice, and Medical Heroes & Heroines! One of the characters in my book “Justice for Sloane” moved to Center City and she will have her own book in that series. There are also some one-shot books that I’d like to write and release too!! Uncaged: You write in several genres – do you have a favorite genre to read? I read all over the board, probably why I write all over the board! My kindle is like a crazy quilt of genres! The muse waiting room in my head is a bunch of different story ideas in different costumes from different genres and I love it. When I curl up with my kindle/iPad/phone to read I have so many to pick from! Issue 41 | December 2019 |

97


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: You live in Hawaii, do you ever get state-side for book signings or conventions? Is that something you’d like to do? It is a strange process to figure out which events that I can get to. Flying in from Hawaii to the Continental States is a struggle with the costs and time needed to plan. If I lived in the contiguous, I might be able to pack the car and drive. This is a little different! I have been to two signings so far, but in 2020 I’m headed to Nashville for A Weekend with the Authors in the spring and I’m hoping to find another for the second half of the year! And in 2021, I’m headed to FOUR! You’ll find me on the Barbara Vey Cruise, Knockout Book Bash (Louisville, KY), Apollycon (Washington DC), & Books at the Beach (Clearwater, FL) – I’ll be a Vagabond Author that year! Uncaged:Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Past - Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott - As a young reader they were the first two that really transported me into history and gave me this tantalizing view of the past. I felt like I was sitting there in the Ingalls house and the school room with the children or on a trunk in the March home watching their dramas unfold. I would love to just talk about their lives and their experiences. Present - There are toooooo many romance novelists on my list to pick two, so I’m going to go outside of romance (shocker!) Naomi Hirahara & Elizabeth Peters - Naomi Hirahara’s book series focus on AJA characters (Americans of Japanese Ancestry) which I share a family background. I would love to chat with her about what she has planned for the future. Elizabeth Peters - sadly, I wouldn’t be able to talk to her as she passed away, but I found her Amelia Peabody series at a used bookstore and fell in love with a solidly built, attack-parasol wielding Victorian woman of circumstance and passion. I did send Ms. Peters a fan letter after I finished the first book in the series and 98 | UncagedBooks.com

I was thrilled when she wrote me back! To write such engaging fiction in historical and contemporary suspense and use her knowledge as an Egyptologist. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? All the time! The whole idea of characters taking on their own lives is so true. Most of the time that’s a good thing, but sometimes that whole section is cut and pasted into another document. The best moments are when another character pops up like an unexpected visit from a friend. And then that whole scene ends up running like a mountain river… just beautifully and clear and I wonder if that’s the character in my head or some other kind of inspiration. I say a big ol’ thank you and keep on going!


Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? This ‘relax’ – What is it? I’m one of those people who go on trips and have tons of events planned, especially museums, historical sites, and botanical gardens. I’m not sure if those are considered relaxing… I take any chance I have to chit chat with my son. He’s twentytwo going on ancient in his soul and I don’t want to miss any opportunity to get to know who he is at those moments and to hopefully create memories that he might enjoy in the future! I injured my back when my mother and I took care of her parents in the last few years of their lives, so I go to the local YMCA pool for exercise. It’s at least an hour of running in the water up to my neck. Sometimes I close my eyes like a sensory experiment and ideas pop

| REINA TORRES | up for stories or scenes! Still, it feels great to move without needing my walker – joy! Other than that, I like to paint (my mom really likes those Paint events) and I love to sew. My college degree is in Theater Arts – specializing in costume design and construction. My minor in college was voice performance and living in Hawaii, Karaoke is part of our culture! I guess you can say I’m a regular at a local bar and it’s nice to touch base with folks and try new songs. I do also pull out my phone and write there if the inspiration strikes! Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Success… right now I feel like I’m in the trenches and success feels like some awesome destination on the horizon. Although, I should have a definition to put into my Passion Planner, right? So, Success… To have readers eager for my upcoming books. It would be lovely to hit some of the bestseller lists outside of Amazon, but I believe the greatest measure of success would be to share my stories with others and make a living with the proceeds from my books! I don’t think about retiring as an author, my mind is constantly busy with new stories and ideas so I doubt I’ll stop writing, if only to lower the volume in my head, but I do hope to continually find new readers and keep connecting with readers who already know (and hopefully love) my books. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? As a reader, I have boxes and boxes of physical books - most of them are research books on my favorite historical periods (The Old West, Regency, Victorian Era…) but my ebooks are the ones I can carry with me. I remember taking vacations and stuffing my carry-on bag with a half-dozen books to read and end up visiting bookstores and picking up more. Those were the days! I haven’t quite picked up the audiobook bug. Mainly because car rides are my music time and I tend to read quickly, basically gobbling up pages. Not quite as fast as Dr. Reid from Criminal Minds, but fast. Issue 41 | December 2019 | 99


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged:What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

now, she’d never survive.

It feels weird to say fans in relation to my books. Do I want my books to have fans? YES! It’s just hard to grasp the idea, but it’s exciting too!

Aaron knows he has to tell her who he really is if this is going to work between them, but to drag up old memories into the darkest night of her life may set her against him forever. Still, he can’t give up.

Enjoy an excerpt from Winter

He’ll move a mountain to prove that he’ll protect her and love her like no one else could, because they were meant to be. Excerpt

Winter Reina Torres Shifter Romance Releases Dec. 17

and his bear.

Aaron Winter has waited for nearly two decades to claim his mate and now he has his chance. He’s going to do everything he can to convince Celeste that she’s the only one for him…

He’s had two dreams in his life: Turning Mystic Mountain Resort into a getaway for shape shifters and to have Celeste at his side. The town is excited as nearly all the residents are shifter themselves. Celeste Olwin is at a turning point in her life. She raised her kids as a single mom, with Aaron as her friend and rock. She was already half in love with the man. But Aaron has always kept his emotional distance from her and after all of this time he’s offering her a dream. There are still some questions she has about him, something she’s sure he’s hiding from her. She’s not sure if she can take that leap, because if he broke her heart 100 | UncagedBooks.com

Setting a waffle on her plate, Celeste was reaching for the bowl of berries when the doorbell rang. Julia was out of her chair like a shot. “I’ll get it.” Celeste turned her curious gaze toward Jason who studiously avoided her eyes. “What’s going on, Jason?” He pursed his lips and whistled, but there wasn’t much of a sound at all as he got up from his chair. Julia swung the door open and let out a shriek in greeting. “Aaron!” Even at eighteen, Julia was as exuberant as she’d always been, and as soon as she’d dragged their guest into the room, she jumped and wrapped her arms around his neck. Celeste couldn’t seem to make herself move. Or breathe. Aaron Winter was the closest thing to a father that the twins had. Reaching out, Jason gave her arm a gentle squeeze before making his way to the entryway to offer his own hug in greeting. Watching her children embrace him and share smiles with the mountain of a man filled her with warmth. Bone deep satisfaction. In a word, she was content. Jason was the sprout of her babies, almost six feet tall, his head barely came to Aaron’s shoulder and Julia’s hand on his arm looked impossibly delicate even though her daughter’s hands were just a hint smaller than her own. Goodness. Seeing him, standing there in her home with her children let down her guard, just like she’d


| REINA TORRES | dropped her panties for years and years when she was alone at night, thinking of him. Aaron Winter, her own private naughty fantasy, with his mountainous shoulders, that silvery gray beard, and muscles… all over. The way that man could fill a pair of jeans and a t-shirt made her all tingly and“Look, Mom! It’s Aaron!” Celeste was on her feet like a shot and thankful that her thoughts were locked away inside of her head, but as she set her napkin down beside her plate and walked around the table to greet Aaron, she hoped that her heart wasn’t pounding nearly as loud as it sounded in her ears. Beating like a Sousa Military March, her heart only managed to crash even harder against her ribs when she caught his scent. Pine and fresh air. Good rich soil. Sunlight. It was silly really. Sunlight didn’t have a smell, but that’s what she thought of when she was close enough to Aaron. And it only made her want to get closer and wrap herself around him and breathe him in over and over. So, she managed a hug and accepted the kiss he placed at her temple by holding onto his shoulders. If she’d let go, with his lips so close to her own, she wasn’t quite sure she could have held herself back from slanting her lips over his. The man was… she let out a breath and felt heat flood her cheeks… perfect. “It’s good to see you, Aaron.” She could barely hear her own voice through the rush of blood in her ears, but she heard his words as clear as day. “It’s been too long, Celeste. I’ve missed you.” It took every bit of energy that she had and the two point seven brain cells she had left to step back and away from his muscular body. She saw her kids smiling at them both and struggled to fix the same kind of smile on her lips, joyful and carefree. The last thing she wanted them to know was how much she wanted Aaron, and not just as their family friend.

Don’t miss these titles

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

101


e ly z a b e t h m . val e y

E

lyzabeth M. VaLey is a writer of sizzling, sexy romance who firmly believes in happy ever after. From paranormal to contemporary, fantasy, or historical, she enjoys exploring her charactersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; darker side and writing stories about tortured heroes, strong heroines, and all that comes between them and their love.

When sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not writing, she can be found walking in the Spanish countryside with her black Lab and Golden Retriever mix, exploring castles, or enjoying some tapas with her friends and family.

104 | UncagedBooks.com

S t ay C onnec t ed

elyzabethmvaley.com


Welcome Elyzabeth M. VaLey Uncaged: You’ve written a couple holiday books and a new one releasing in December, in A Christmas Realm Tale series, can you tell readers more about that series?

tors, my paranormal-fantasy series. Although, I have to admit, I’ve been itching to write another vampire story. Uncaged: You write in several genres – do you have a favorite genre to read?

Absolutely! As a child, did you ever wonder where Santa lived? Sure, we were told his home was in the North Pole, but what was it like up there? Was he alone with Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and elves? Were there other magical creatures? How did he survive?

Not particularly, I like to read it all! As long as the blurb catches my attention, I’ll read it.

A Christmas Realm Tale series brings us answers to all those questions and more. Santa is not that affable grandfatherly figure we’re used to seeing every holiday season. He’s a ruthless businessman and he’s not alone in making sure everyone’s wish list become true. Vampires, shifters, pixies, humans and other fantastic creatures all form part of the Christmas Realm.

Oh, now that’s a difficult one! I have a lot of author friends which I haven’t met in person but with whom I’d love to have coffee or lunch someday.

Each book in the series can be read as a standalone as it explores the romance between a set of different characters and delves into different areas of the Christmas Realm. For instance, in book one, The Beauty of Forever, we get a close look at the toy-making area, while book two, Bear’s Beauty, explores the marketing department and in the upcoming, Weekend Magic, we move toward the mountains and into Christmas tree territory.

Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why?

However, if I could pick an author from the past, I would choose JRR Tolkien. Fantasy has always been one of my favorite genres and Lord of the Rings one of my favorite books. I’d love to sit with Tolkien and speak to him about world building and language.

Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I’m currently working on the last instalment of Lust, Love and Darkness, my BDSM dark-romance series. Once I’m done with that, the plan is to write book five of Alpha ProtecIssue 41 | December 2019 |

105


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

106 | UncagedBooks.com


Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? All the time? LOL I’m not a huge planner when it comes to writing, I’m definitely more of a pantser, so usually, my characters take the wheel. With that being said, I do try to have a certain structure on how I’d like the story to go, but things change all the time. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? When I’m not writing or working, and excluding spending time with family and friends, the number one thing I enjoy the most is spending time with my dogs. I live in the countryside so I like taking them out for nice long walks. (I have to admit, it also helps my creativity as a lot of stories have come to me when I’m out with them). When I want to relax and totally disconnect I also enjoy watching Disney movies. I’m a huge Disney fan. Finally, when my finances allow it, I love travelling and going to concerts. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Success is making readers dream. It’s to have them connect with my characters and the world I’ve built. To know that I’ve been able to make them feel. To have them experience another place, another time, another reality different from theirs. Once that’s achieved, I’d love to see my books in bookstores and to maybe someday live off my writing. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? As a reader, I enjoy both ebooks and physical books. I love the smell of paper books, but ereaders are comfortable and easy to carry around. Not to mention, most of my books are published electronically, so what’s not to love about it?

| ELYZABETH M. VALEY | Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you for reading and being there. Every kind word, every hello, like, heart, means the world to me. I appreciate it.

Enjoy an excerpt from Beloved Enemy The Beauty of Forever Elyzabeth M. VaLey Paranormal Holiday Once dead, always dead. Christopher Beaufort works in what could easily be the most cheerful place on earth, Santa’s Christmas Realm, but as a vampire, he is nothing more than a shadow among the living. Worn out by the demands of his job as Chief Toy Officer, Santa assigns a human woman to help him, Samantha Kraus. Tantalized by the fiery redhead, Christopher makes it his business to seduce her, but as he does, something within him begins to stir. Life is a gift in which every moment counts. When Samantha Kraus accepted the job of assistant manager at Santa’s, she expected elves, fairies and maybe some shifters, but definitely not vampires. Least of all did she imagine her boss would be one of them or that she’d be attracted to him. Though she tries to remain professional, Samantha finds herself falling for Christopher. But, can Issue 41 | December 2019 |

107


| FEATURE AUTHOR | a vampire’s heart ever beat again? Excerpt “That went well with Jacobs, right?” she blurted, searching for a distraction. Christopher looked at her. The intensity in his gaze threw her back and her knees weakened. “Yes,” he replied. “You were fantastic. I can see now why Santa hired you.” His mouth thinned. “Jacobs was practically salivating after you.” Samantha blinked, surprised by the ferocity in his tone. “I don’t know him as well as you do, but from what he spoke, he seemed devoted to his wife.” “It’s not what I saw.” She smiled, trying to ignore the low timber of his voice and the way it curled in her belly, heating her from the inside out. “Is that why you were glaring at him while we were working?” she joked. “I wasn’t glaring. I was simply—” Christopher raked his gaze over her. “Watching.” Samantha shivered. She lifted her chin. “And did you observe anything of interest?” Christopher slid his arms to the height of her elbows. He didn’t touch her, but the hairs on her body rose. Nerve ends tingled. Christopher leaned in. “Absolutely.” “Mind sharing?” What was she asking? She knew full well they weren’t talking about work anymore, but she couldn’t stop herself. Her body had taken over her mind and all it wanted was for Christopher to come closer. She craved to see him bring out his humanity in the most carnal way possible. “I’m not sure you’re ready.” “Try me.” Christopher grinned. His gaze held a warning which she should have heeded because the moment his lips touched hers, she knew she was lost. Burying his hand into her hair, he slanted his head and dove into her mouth. Like a flower urgently seeking sunshine, she opened up to him. His groan reverberated through her and she arched 108 | UncagedBooks.com

against him. His minty taste swept over her, taking her by surprise. Holding her firmly, he devoured her like a man starved of nourishment. Each stroke of his tongue drew her further away from reality, into a bubble where only they existed. Desperate to find something to hold on to, to keep her grounded, Samantha fisted his shirt. It didn’t help. The world vanished, leaving only him behind. His essence. His strength. The heat of his passion, which she frantically desired. The train lurched to a stop and they stumbled, breaking apart. Gasping for air, Samantha stared at Christopher. His eyes had deepened to an indigo blue and he had a wildness to him that spoke of danger and unyielding hunger. For her? She swallowed. She had to stop this now. Before it got too far. It was one thing to flirt with him so he would smile, and another one entirely different to kiss on a train full of people. “Christopher—” People shoved their way out of the wagon, drawing them close again. Christopher wrapped her in his arms. His scent flooded her and for an instant, she shut her eyes and pretended the sound against her ear wasn’t her own heart thrashing, but his, beating. But it wasn’t. The knowledge chilled her to the bones. Christopher wasn’t really alive. He spoke and he moved but his heart was dead. How did he even exist? The piercing whistle of the shutting doors signaled the train’s departure. Christopher tilted her chin. “Are you all right?” Samantha sucked in her cheeks. “Christopher, we can’t do this,” she said. “By this, I imagine you’re talking about the kiss? She nodded. “Why not, Samantha?” He stroked her bottom lip with his thumb, leaving a tingling trail which echoed in other parts of her body. Damn it all if she didn’t want to nip his finger and tease him. She yearned to kiss him again, to feel his unpredictable heat against her. “I don’t see the problem. We’re both adults and we’re attracted to each other,” he continued. You’re not alive. “We need to work together. Things could get complicated,” she said instead.


| ELYZABETH M. VALEY | Christopher cupped her cheek. His eyes narrowed and he set his jaw. “Complicated?” “We work together,” she repeated. Wanting you scares me. It’s unnatural. Christopher raised his eyebrows. “I see.” He disentangled himself from her. Samantha shivered and fought the urge to wrap her arms around herself. Christopher smirked. He knew. “I’ll respect your wishes, Samantha. For now. But, just remember, doll, I’m an animal of prey. What I want, I hunt down and get. I’ve lived long enough to know I want you, Samantha, and a night of hot, passionate sex won’t make things, as you put it, complicated.” The train started to slow again. Their stop was next. Christopher leaned in. “Sooner or later, doll, I will have you.”

Don’t miss these titles

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

109


fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author

Rue Volley


Rue Volley is a USA Today Bestselling Author and award-winning screenwriter who is best known for creating compelling storylines with a multitude of twists and turns that leave her readers virtually speechless. She specializes in paranormal romances that include otherworldly characters who, regardless of their supernatural abilities, feel oddly familiar, or in other words, human. This, coupled with her easy reading style, wicked sense of humor, and excellent world building skills, has garnered her a fiercely loyal fan base over the past decade who support her regardless of what genre she chooses to write in. Some of her best works include 13 Ways to Midnight, Hellhound, The Devilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gate, and A Vampires Tale of Blood and Light. All of which utilize her skill at piecing together compelling dramas that highlight her love for vampires, witches, angels, and demons across many genres including young adult, new adult, urban fantasy, 112 | UncagedBooks.com

and erotic romance. Rue Volleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work seems to be synonymous with one phrase in the publishing world. Thoroughly addictive. She is accredited with three award-winning screenplays for film, Hellhound (original script, 2014), Awakening (contributing screenwriter, 2015), and The Acid King (co-producer, 2019). IMDb: imdb. com/name/nm7043310/ Rue is represented by Gladys Gonzales Atwell, Publicist, and Sarah Davis Brandon, Publisher. Business inquiries, please contact ruevolley@ gmail.com

ruevolley.com


Enjoy an excerpt from: The Dead Boy’s Club The Dead Boy’s Club Rue Volley Young Adult/Occult/ Ghost

small Victorian town.

Fifteen-year-old Harper J. Ellis lives in Juniper Hollow, a hotbed for paranormal activity. Here the dead outnumber the living ten to one, and strange occurrences are a way of life. Most of the residents choose to ignore the odd quirks of the

But not Harper. She’s perfectly content to spend her days in the graveyard, reading paranormal romance books at the foot of a tombstone. Like many girls her age, she obsesses over boys. However, it’s her taste for all things strange and unusual that prompt her to start a club. A pulse isn’t required, but a flair for ghoulish fun is. Care to join? Excerpt These carefully painted black fingernails whiteknuckled the edge of the cover, wide-eyed, cautiously whispering, “It was always you,” through cherry-red lips. The sweet taste lingered on my tongue. I feel like I’ve been here so many times before, yet I know I haven’t. My heart beats harder in my chest. My pupils dilate. This love is my love. My love always. I’m caught at the ending, forever tumbling. I nearly forget to breathe. It should be second nature, but for me, it isn’t. Not when I’m reading. Butterflies fluttered, filling my gut, then radiating outward. My expression went from blank to hard-focused. “You better not say something snarky and ruin this. I swear, if you do, I’ll crawl

| RUE VOLLEY | right inside this book!” I closed my eyes. The anticipation was terrible. I could barely stand it, so I opened one eye, then the other, and welcomed a huge sigh of relief. Sort of. That’s it. The story had ended, taking with it my heart. Breathe, Harper. Just breathe. This is the journey you wanted to take. The story you love. The characters who became family. I flipped the page back and forth to make sure that I had read every precious word. My shoulders slumped. A strange emptiness began to spread through my stomach, snuffing out the swirling butterflies, suffocating them without warning. One lit by me, beckoning me to follow. I nearly reached out for it, but I refrained. I didn’t want to damage it. It seemed so delicate. I couldn’t bear bringing it harm, but I wanted to hold it in my hand. To feel it move—to feel life. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m really living at all—just going through the motions, every day moving into the next like one endless loop. But today is different. I can feel it in every fiber of my being. My bright green eyes locked on it as the sunlight penetrated the wings, brightening the colors: blue, purple, with hints of green—nearly blinding me. Tears moistened my eyes, blurring my vision. My skin tingled, and the hairs rose on the back of my neck. It felt like a rebirth. Today would be different from the rest. The old replaced by new. I was forever changed; so much so, that I wondered if my reflection would look oddly unfamiliar. I drew the book in, cradling it against my chest. I didn’t want it to be over. It couldn’t be over, but it was. I was plagued by temptation, so I feverishly re-read the last page again. It fixed nothing. The emptiness remained. It’s a feeling that only a vetted member of a dedicated book tribe can understand. I love these characters. I love this world. But mostly, I love him. I’m smitten by a boy—a dead one. Dead boy, as in immortal book boyfriend of the supernatural kind. I had met him in book two of this series when I was eleven, fallen for him when I was twelve, became obsessed when I was thirteen, then ultimately decided he was the one when I was fourIssue 41 | December 2019 |

113


teen. Now, here I am at fifteen, and that was the last words, last line—last book? I insist that the author gives us more. My heartbeat sped up. I bit my lip, tasting cherry lip gloss. I’m on the verge of a complete meltdown. I swallowed hard, trying to bury my emotions, but the tide is rising. Ah, yep. I’m going to cry. I sniffled. The first cold tear ran down my cheek. I hate showing emotions, but I guess I’m about as alone as I can be, so why not get it all out while I can? At least here amongst the dead, I won’t be judged. Or maybe I am, but I don’t know it, and that’s fine. I whimpered, then more tears followed. Wrecked is what I am. Utterly wrecked. I closed my eyes and could see him with that messy hair and brooding eyes nestled in thick dark lashes. He has perfect lips, pouty, crimson red, of course. He’s perfectly imperfect. Intolerable, charming, sarcastic—irresistible. But most of all, he’s immortal—sigh. Admittingly, these are words borrowed from the author, but I feel every single one of them. She made sure of that. Her obsession with him became mine. I wanted more—always more. Thoughts paused with the rustling of leaves. A small multi-colored patch swirled in the wind. I studied it with a wary eye. The season had changed, bringing chilled bursts of wind and darkening clouds. A million leaves had fallen, and yet the trees still held onto more than you would think possible. It was always this way, for as long as I could remember. Always October. My favorite month. I ignore the rest. I drifted for a second as the words echoed in my mind, then cautiously regained my composure, while clearing my throat to the side of my hand. It hurt to swallow, and I felt tired. It’s so annoying. I never feel that great, so reading is a perfect distraction. I have allergies, exacerbated by my surroundings. We live like hermits, or as close to as possible. Our town was built in a thick, dense forest. We have trees on every street, every corner—everywhere. Old wise trees with thick trunks and gnarly branches. A perfect backdrop for anything Victorian in nature. I don’t hate them, but they sort of hate me—or my 114 | UncagedBooks.com

sinuses, that is. Come to think of it, everyone sneezes or coughs here. It’s so common that it’s ignored. The dancing leaves stopped, and it allowed me to think about my book again, so I settled back into deep thought as my thumb caressed the cover. It has a matte finish. Smooth to the touch. Soothing. I find books to be more reliable than people and much more enjoyable. They don’t ask for anything, really—just attention, and I’m happy to oblige. I turned the book over and stared at the picture of the author. She looks so—normal, for lack of a better word, with her short black bangs and thickrimmed glasses that appear to be clinging to her button nose. I guess I expected her to look more witchy or something. Maybe more like me since I seem to relate to her on a level that’s nearly unexplainable. I mean, she had created the most incredible landscape speckled with Victorian houses, cobbled streets, iron gates, and supernatural creatures that I had ever known. A beautiful fantasy of which I had become immersed. Willfully, sort of. I mean, she’s also to blame for my current corrupted state. She spent years making me love him. This beautiful dead boy in her books had enticed me to hang on his every word. She allowed him to come and go, angering me, then forced a gasp to escape my lips with his triumphant return. But there was always a twist of events, which both infuriated and delighted me. I know I may sound crazy, but I’m not. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Right? I wish that boys like him exist in the world — more than anything. The temperature dropped, and I shivered. My teeth began to chatter. I tightened my coat, shielding myself from the elements. Usually I notice nothing. I just read and read, totally distracted, but now it had ended. All the words had been said. I opened the book again, staring at the last page, even flipping it a few times. The absence of a goodbye note from the author gave me hope. “It was always you,” I choked out. That line. Those words. They would truly haunt me. That ending, though. Swoon. I wiped the tears away with the side of my hand. My skin felt heated; I may have a fever. It


| RUE VOLLEY | wouldn’t surprise me. As I said, I don’t feel great that often, but oddly enough, never so bad that I can’t function. It’s more like mild allergies, or maybe a reaction to something. I’m prone to both. I took a deep breath, and my chest rattled. I gave it a light tap, and it was followed by a cough. Had I felt this crummy all along? I hope not. I swallowed and took in the situation at a glance. Everything was shrouded in a thin mist that seemed to be rising. Up, up it went, revealing the real world to me, along with gnarled tree roots and aged moss. I took another breath and could smell burning leaves floating on the wind along with salty sea air. Sounds began to filter back in—locusts droning, crickets chirping, and church bells chiming. It overwhelmed me for a moment, so much so that I lifted the book to one ear and my free hand to the other, blocking it all out. Ridiculous, I know. Then a calming feeling settled in as a few butterflies surrounded me. I grinned, watching them rise into the air toward the once gray sky that now seemed to be blue. My breathing slowed, and the noises subsided. What would I do now? I felt lost. My mouth formed a straight line. I wanted to go straight home and grab book one so that I could relive it all over again, but then a voice pierced through the silence, rudely interrupting my plans and properly jarring me. “Really?” The question floated on the wind and nearly had me choking on a yelp. I launched the book like a guided missile. My obligatory response was unsettling. A firm hand extended, catching it mid-air. I scrambled to my feet, nearly toppling over. At least my precious book didn’t hit the ground. I felt so guilty for throwing it. The whole situation had me swaying on my feet, totally dizzy from the shock. I was forced to reach out and grab onto the side of the mausoleum that I had been leaning against as I read. Yes, I read in the cemetery. Well, one of five. Juniper Hollow, my hometown, is surrounded by them, as well as the trees that I mentioned earlier, and I couldn’t be happier about it, but that’s a discussion for another time. Right now, a boy—a living one, has my property, and that means I’ll be forced to talk to this transient to retrieve it.

I cleared my throat and steadied myself as I spotted this menace perched on top of a tombstone. I guess I should be impressed that he maintained his balance even while snatching my book from the air. My throat was starting to ache more, so talking would be just as annoying as his interruption. I reached up and rubbed it, but it didn’t help. The ache remained. I took in the sight of him from head to toe out of need, not want or real curiosity. He was really more of a crouching outline because the sun was to his back. I guess I should be grateful, I’m not a fan of the sunlight, and I forgot my black laced umbrella, but anyway, it looked like he may be wearing a black hoodie and jeans. My eyes lowered to his feet again. Tennis shoes rounded out his lazily slapped together ensemble. I’m far from impressed. Honestly.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

115


R E V I E W S

R E V I E W S 11 8

uNCAGED BOOKS uNCAGEDBOOKS.COM

126

FANG FREAKIN TASTIC fangfreakintasticreviews.com

130

AMYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S BOOKSHELF

writeramyshannon.wixsite.com/bookshelfreviewS


Uncaged Reviews Rogue’s Holiday

Regan Walker Historical Regency Robert Powell’s work as a spy saves the Cabinet ministers from a gruesome death and wins him accolades from George IV. As a reward, the king grants him a baronetcy and a much-deserved holiday at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton where he thinks to indulge in brandy, cards, good horseflesh and women.

Uncaged Review: The final book in the Agents of the Crown series, but don’t be alarmed, you can easily read these as standalones. Having the background of the family from the beginning just enhances the books. I’ve come to rely on this author to always be a good read, and she doesn’t disappoint here. This book is not just a romance, it’s a thrilling regency, with suspense and danger. There were times I laughed out loud and other times I was reading as fast I could to see what happened next. With real history facts woven thru out the story, you will unknowingly learn as you are entertained with this clean historical. No spoilers from me, but any reader that loves a good historical romance, won’t go wrong with this book, or this series. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Cyrene

118 | UncagedBooks.com

First Hunt Alexis Calder Paranormal Romance What happens when you fall for the creature you were taught to hunt? Violet I was raised as a hunter - trained to kill all of the monsters that go bump in the night. I left that life behind, vowing to never kill unless necessary. Unfortunately, necessary happened pretty quickly. With blood on my hands and no place to go, I rely on the help of a sexy rancher. Turns out he’s a wolf shifter and I’m falling hard. FML. Uncaged Review: This book is a novella length introducing readers to Diablo Falls, a group on books written by different authors revolving around this area of supernaturals. For me, this book doesn’t set up this series well, there is a mix-up between alpacas and llamas (yes, there is a big difference), and Violet seemingly knowing a waitress’s name even though she had no name tag, and being a hunter, she seemed completely off her game and not being able to identify a single supernatural at a restaurant full of them. The story had potential, but it was too short for any real revelations, or a real plot that you can really sink your teeth into. I really didn’t feel the main characters at all, even though they were likeable enough, I didn’t have the time to really connect to them. Reviewed by Cyrene


Fire Maidens: London Anna Lowe Fantasy Romance “Rebel with a cause” Gemma Archer flees Boston one step ahead of a creepy stalker. Now she’s in London, trying to build a new normal — and absolutely, positively not getting involved with any men. That is, until an irresistible stranger prowls into her life. Liam is a sweet, sexy modern-day knight who sparks her sizzling desires. The problem? He’s as loony as some of her relatives. Dragons? Lion shifters? Werewolves? The poor man really seems to believe the tales he spins.

Uncaged Review: In this second book of this series, we get Liam and Gemma’s story. We met Liam in the first of the series, but these books definitely can read as standalones. Liam is the lion-shifter with dual bloodlines, lion and dragon, so the Guardians consider him - of mixed heritage and undesirable because of the dragon bloodlines from his father, but when they see that Gemma – a Fire Maiden, they task Liam to the job of seducing her and bringing her in to the Guardians. But Gemma is Liam’s mate, he feels it deep in his soul, so how will he convince Gemma that she’s his soul mate after she finds out about his orders? It’s fun to get to know these two, Liam is still the same sexy, fun shifter we met before and Gemma is a strong heroine that shows she’s not a pushover or someone to be kept in a corner. The action scenes are fantastic, the sex scenes – hot, and the world building is still developing with this world and the author makes you feel like you are there. Highly recommended and looking forward to the next one. Reviewed by Cyrene

Taming My Christmas Rogue Tammy Andresen Historical Regency Lord Andrew Maddox is a rogue of the first order…he’s the last man Dani should want. Yet her eyes are drawn to Drew every time he enters the same room as her, which is often since her family and his are spending Christmastide together. Dani just has to avoid him for a week and then she can go back to her orderly life and her almost husband hunt. Being shy does make it difficult to search. Except for her rakish rogue has other ideas.

Uncaged Review: Another delightful read by this author. Drew has been a first class rake, much to the dismay of his family. But one woman has set his heart into motion, and that’s Danielle – and leave it to his family to set up a Christmastide celebration, inviting the family along with Danielle- who is a cousin to one of his brother’s wife and along with two other eligible suitors, enough to drive Drew crazy. A bit of danger and a hero with a huge heart, some laughter and a heartwarming tale of love during the holidays. A great novella to give you a great feeling for the holidays. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

119


Uncaged Reviews The Innocent Wife CiCi Cordelia Historical Western THE SHERIFF AND THE VIRGIN . . . Everyone seems to be finding love in Little Creede, marrying and building their families. As Colorado grows larger and richer, will Vivian and Joshua find their way to each other? Uncaged Review: This is the third book in The Brides of Little Creede series, and I am hoping that this series continues as the stories continue to get better and better, and I’m learning to love this growing town and even all the misfit residents. This time out, young Vivian Carter, the teacher of the town and Joshua, the sheriff are forced into a quick “shotgun” wedding after being found making out by Vivian’s brothers. Even though this was a forced marriage, both Joshua and Vivian have loved each other for years. As with all of the books so far in this group, the danger arises from a small boy that has abandoned by his tramp of a mother – and has won the hearts of many in the town, especially Vivian who spends extra time teaching him as he’s a brilliant student soaking up the lessons. But when the whore mother returns and wants Nate back for all the wrong reasons, this book gets really moving. Danger and attempts on Vivian’s life have Joshua and Vivian’s brothers scrambling. This is a fantastic addition to this series, the danger keeps you turning the pages, and the characters almost leap from the pages. It’s not too often that I can see a story playing out in my mind as I read along as this did. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Cyrene

120 | UncagedBooks.com

Acending Meg Pechenick SciFi Twenty-five years ago the Vardeshi came to Earth. Then they vanished without a trace. Graduate student Avery Alcott always knew they would return. When they do, she’s the only one who can speak their language. She’s quickly recruited to join the crew of an 11-man starship on a one-year mission into the depths of space.

Uncaged Review: I can be a hard sell on scifi. I love the genre – when it’s done right. And this book is one of those. Is it a hard-core scifi? No, but it’s not meant to be. This is not Timothy Zahn or Arthur C. Clark, but this is a debut novel, and this author is one to watch in this genre. A lot of this is setting up and world/character building – and some of it gets a bit drawn out, but it has good pacing and it didn’t take long to draw me in. There is even a bit of suspense and danger – that threatens the alliance, and it has good twist to it. The book did not leave off on a cliffhanger, but it did set up nicely for book two. Is it going to set up as a romance down the line? Maybe…. but that’s not in this book. I’m definitely moving on to book two. Reviewed by Cyrene


Wicked in Winter Scarlett Scott Historical Regency

Devereaux Winter is one of the wealthiest men in England, but he hails from a notorious family. The Wicked Winters are as reviled as they are renowned. He is desperate to find a wife of good breeding so he can begin the Herculean task of seeing his siblings settled. Fortunately for him, the duke next door’s wits are addled. Even more fortunate? The duke’s only daughter is a beautiful spinster.

Uncaged Review: I have discovered, that I love Scarlett Scott’s books. This one took me a little longer to like, because I hated Lady Emilia in the beginning. She was arrogant, spoiled and cruel – and she vowed never to go below her station, but she did that, over and over with her cruel words. As for Dev, I liked him and his sisters almost immediately. Don’t worry, Emilia does redeem herself….eventually. But it was unfortunate, as I did grow to like her well enough, but I never loved her as the beginning chapters set the tone for her. I did understand her outrage at being “sold off” to settle her father’s debts, I know that would never fly in this day and age, but the author went a bit over the top with her. Even with that said, this is a good love story at the bottom of it. Emilia and Dev are a good pairing and I’m looking forward to more of this series, and I hope we see the two in future books as supporting characters. Reviewed by Cyrene

Wildfire and Roses Hope Malory

Contemporary Romance Sparks fly when tenacious mountain climber and hiker Beasley McLemore meets hot smokejumper Will Gregor on a search and rescue mission in Yosemite. Getting together, however, isn’t easy. Strong-willed Beasley is bent on building a thriving landscaping business back home in the foothills of the majestic Smoky Mountains. Busy working 24/7, she has no time or energy for a man in her life...she thinks.

Uncaged Review: This is a nice contemporary that will draw a reader in pretty fast with a good lead-in in how Beasley and Will meet – with a little boy missing on a trail and both of them being on the team that volunteers in the search. Will is a firefighter/smokejumper and is not thrilled to have a thin woman on the team, but Beasley proves herself pretty quickly. This is a good debut novel, and the backstories of the characters, even the secondary characters, are very well developed and interesting – my only wish was there just a bit fewer characters overall to read about. The long distance romance between Will and Beasley plays out and this book covers about a year’s time, so the reader has a lot to cover. But it’s done beautifully and paced well, and for those who like a bit of suspense in their novels, the mystery in Beasley’s family is woven seamlessly into the story. An author to watch in the future.Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

121


Uncaged Reviews Keeper of the Flame

Elizabeth Rose Medieval Historical Fantasy Immortality isn’t always a blessing . . . sometimes it’s a curse! An old sorcerer is how everyone knows him, but Orrick Pendragon has only chosen to shapeshift into the image an old man because of his painful past. When he stole the Eternal Flame over a hundred years ago, he had no idea of the consequences of his action. Being immortal and also married, he had to watch as his loving wife grew old and died while he stayed young and continued to live forever. Heartbroken, he swore, he would never fall in love again. But when Lady Hope appears at his tower door seeking his assistance to find the Eternal Flame, he’s intrigued and strangely attracted to her. Against his better judgment, he finds himself shapeshifting back into his young and handsome form of Sir Rick. Uncaged Review: This is the fifth book in a series, and I hadn’t read the others, but I’m definitely planning on going back and reading them – I really enjoyed Orrick’s story. The medieval time period is where this author excels. After his wife died, Orrick is an old sorcerer, or at least that’s what he shows the world, as he keeps up the old man look. But when Hope arrives, he begins to feel for the first time since he lost his wife and the real Orrick comes through. I wasn’t a huge fan of Hope in the beginning, but I grew to like her as the story progressed. This book brings, suspense, romance and even a bit of humor. Well worth picking up. Reviewed by Cyrene

122 | UncagedBooks.com

Red Snowflakes

Kristal Dawn Harris Paranormal Romance

Forensic photographer, Dena Williams, has spent her life trained to see what others cannot. Vampire, Dimitri Kovac, has waited every Christmas for a miracle that does not come. In the Oregon wilderness, during a snowstorm, these two destined souls collide. Dena’s only hope of survival rests in a vampire with the heart of a poet. Dimitri only has five days to win a skeptical woman’s heart. As the Christmas tree lights burn brightly and the snow continues to fall, will Dena succumb to a vampire’s charms? With so little time, can Dimitri win her love?

Uncaged Review: A Christmas themed book with a fairy tale aspect which reminds me of Beauty and the Beast. I really enjoyed reading this book in places I was giggling like a love struck teenager. It’s not weird to want to be bitten by a vampire right? Highly recommended for some pre- Christmas vampire fun Reviewed by Jennifer


Earl of Scarborough Collette Cameron Historical Regency

’Tis the season to be wicked… When a woman desperate for a job saves the life of an earl… … both of their plans for the future are thwarted. Neither is prepared for the upheaval to their lives when she reluctantly accepts his offer of employment…as his housekeeper. Nor can either predict the mayhem that follows when a lord who disdains society and a country miss with no experience plan a haut ton Christmastide gathering. Uncaged Review: “Her tread lightened somewhat, the furious tramping giving away to normal footfall. Ah good. He was making headway, then.” This was one of the many lines in this book that made me either smile broadly, or laugh out loud. The characters are very endearing, especially Ansley with his need of schedules and routines to keep his life relatively calm. Although he is an Earl, he’s also kind, fair and completely thrown for a loop when he meets Willow. Willow is a commoner, half English, half American, with an excellent education, but society is prejudiced against her, and it’s been difficult to find a job as a teacher after her grandfather passes away. When she is hired by Ansley, she knows her station as a commoner and there can’t be anything between her and the Earl. Or can there? What about the haut ton?

Demon Curse

Linsey Hall Urban Fantasy Life has gotten a bit dicey, lately. Which is a major understatement. My normal gig as a demon slayer turns extra deadly when a group of them attacks my home. I manage to take them out, but not before it’s too late. My sister and I are hit by the deadly fire veins curse. We have only days to find a cure, so we’ve got to split up to cover more ground.

Uncaged Review: This is a fast paced story – and this time, Aeri and Mari are hit with a curse – and it will kill them in days if they don’t get the antidote in time. Problem is, as they are searching for clues, Mari is kidnapped. And not just by anyone, by one of the oldest and most powerful of the Fallen Angels, one who is pure evil and very powerful. Aeri will need all the help she can drum up to save herself and her sister. This story doesn’t let up on the gas, and it’s full steam ahead. Declan and Aeri are getting closer, even with the nullifying curse inside Aeri. This is a fantastic series that keeps ramping up, and the 4th and final book is out and I am looking forward to reading it, although a bit sad that it will be over. Reviewed by Cyrene

This is a type of Cinderella story, and I was completely charmed. The author gave us an imperfect hero – which in turn, made him perfect. And the cover? I know exactly where that takes place in the book. Cheers. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

123


Uncaged Reviews Honeymoon Bite

Sharon Hamilton Paranormal Romance Anne caught her husband cheating with the maid of honor before their wedding cake was cut. She decided to take her planned and paid for honeymoon in Tuscany, alone. On the evening of what was to be her wedding night, she gets bitten by a female vampire.

Uncaged Review: As the first book in a series, world building is usually paramount to be able to really get involved with the story and to understand the world – especially in paranormal and fantasy books. This book did not really do that. I am a huge reader in these genres, but I never got a great grasp here. For some reason, the vampires have too many morals – or so their laws state, but there is a female vamp going on a rampage without any repercussions. As for the couple, by the end of the book, I did like the two of them, but honestly, there was more sex in it than almost anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I love good sex scenes, but sometimes the punch of a sex scene is better when the tension leading up to it is drawn out more. If you get past the first half of the book, the book picks up its pace, and even our hero, Marcus – actually becomes the hero the reader was looking for all along. Reviewed by Cyrene

124 | UncagedBooks.com

Queen of Swords L.A. McGinnis Fantasy Romance

She came for revenge. They made her a pawn. She was meant to be a queen. Returning to Chicago to avenge her family, Morgane Burke spends her nights on the streets, battling demons no one else can see. Her tally might be growing, but so is theirs, as human disappearances mount by the day. Her one-woman war on evil takes a turn the night she discovers she’s not the only one fighting the monsters. Uncaged Review: So the reason I picked up this book, is that I got the fourth book in the series as part of a larger author promotion, and I’m one of those people that really hate reading out of order on a series. So I went back to start at book one as it sounded pretty interesting to me. And I’m so glad I did. All the Norse gods are here, and this book is focusing on Loki. The gods have been banished to Earth, fighting off the demons that plague the planet every night that humans can’t see. Well, except one human – Morgane. Morgane lost her parents and her sister, and can see the monsters – so she trains and goes out hunting the creatures that took her family. When one particular night goes bad, Loki is there and is drawn to her and takes her back to Mir – for healing. And this is when the book hits yet another gear. They will need to go back to the Underworld, to face Hel, Loki’s evil daughter – and it’s non-stop. There is romance, humor and the age old fight of good vs. evil. Hard to put down once you get going. Looking forward to book two. Reviewed by Cyrene


Securing Sidney

Susan Stoker Romantic Suspense

For Sidney Hale, rescuing dogs is more than a hobby. It’s a calling. A deep-seated need. An unstoppable compulsion. For reasons so unsettling, she shares them with no one… until she meets Decker. After coming to her rescue while Sidney battled to save a dog—literally—the gorgeous SEAL proves he can be trusted with her secrets, her safety…maybe even her heart.

ing anticipation. Profanity does flow liberally, but it is in context to the character’s dialogue. The first—and only—sex scene does not happen until three-fourths through, but it is very explicit. Sometimes the dialogue between characters or internal monologues seem repetitive. The conclusion was expected and lacked originality but did give a satisfying HEA and a nice lead-in to the next book in the series. Caution, this book does look at the harsh reality of dog fighting and other abusive crimes. Some scenes and descriptions may be upsetting to certain readers. Reviewed by Ryan Jo

Uncaged Review: Sidney Hale has an unstoppable, deeply ingrained compulsion to rescue dogs, even if it means placing herself in danger’s way. A recent hand to hand confrontation with a suspected dogfighter to save a Pitbull brings her face to face with Decker “Gumby” Kincade, Navy SEAL and fellow dog lover. Decker, who had a close call in Bahrain while on a mission, has had a change of plans for his life. Literally running into Sidney is an eye-opening and heart -opening experience. This book is a standalone in the series, with no cliffhanger and provides its own HEA. However, other characters and situations from book 1 are featured predominately and the reader would have a better understanding if they read book 1 first. Sidney is no shrinking violet. A rough childhood turned her into a fearless, compassionate, and independent woman who goes after what she believes in, sometimes to her own detriment. Decker is a Navy SEAL and has a protective streak at least a mile long. He is the kind of tough and tender, patient and understanding man every woman secretly wants—and deserves. Their fast connection is organic. These are two imperfect, emotionally damaged people coming together at the right time in their lives. Readers will not be able to help but root for them. This story is edgy, gritty, suspenseful, with page-turnIssue 41 | December 2019 |

125


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews The Soul Collector Laura Daleo Dark Fantasy/Paranormal As I lay trapped inside this quiet realm, My soul adrift, my body earthbound A magical book guards my flight, Will it keep me safe till morning’s light? It begins with darkness. Are they dead, or trapped inside a horrible dream? No one can hear them, see them. Has the world forgotten them? Are they invisible? Not to the Soul Collector. They have stepped into her Kingdom, and she is waiting for them.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Soul Collector is much different from any other book I think I’ve read. It deals with the afterlife and the place in between life and afterlife in a way I’ve not seen before. The majority of the characters are trapped in comas and given the opportunity to “live” out their lives in a secluded mansion owned by The Soul Collector. I really like the ideas put forth in this book. The idea that those in a coma can be doing something other than just what it appears is a cool idea. To think our loved ones are potentially having a good time verses the possibility that they are trapped in their bodies is comforting in a way. The main characters are all quite interesting. There were a few side characters I’d like to know more about, but it wasn’t their story. I really didn’t like Drara at first, but as time went on and we were shown more of her personality, I grew to

126 | UncagedBooks.com

like her to a degree and maybe feel a little sorry for her. The Soul Collector was a book I had a hard time putting down. The kids can only eat so much cereal before Mommy has to actually make real food instead of reading. Each chapter brings a new piece of the puzzle and I just couldn’t put it together fast enough for my own tastes. Daleo knows exactly when to reveal each detail in the perfect place. This really was a great book and I recommend it for anyone looking for a unique read. It’s definitely worth the time.


The Diary Of A Mad Zombie Killer: Book 2, ‘Welcome To Newmerica’ JoJo Strange Horror Humor Book 2 of the series, ‘The Diary Of A Mad Zombie Killer’. Jojo Strange has went from stand up comic to zombie outbreak survivor and now he’s the leader of the territory known as Newmerica. Follow along as he invades Las Vegas and recreates the Louisiana Purchase. But, remember, sometimes, even when you win, you lose.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This is a great follow up to the first book. I had been thinking about what my old friends in Eastwood had been up to lately and I was happy to find an update.

of crappy page filling nonsense like you find in other books attempting to just fill pages instead of telling actual story. I don’t feel like there are any parts that drag along either, which is a nice change from most other books. I was a little disappointed that my own central Florida town wasn’t mentioned despite the towns touching both the north and south were, but that’s all right, considering why they were being mentioned. I loved the Key West scenes. It was fun to read about places I’ve spent time in real life. I’m certainly looking forward to both the next diary and the book of interviews. If you haven’t started this series, please do. They are worth the time it takes to read them, and you’ll feel like you’ve joined a crazy fun family in the end.

I am so in love with this series it’s not even funny. I’ve decided that when the apocalypse finally happens, I’m going to use The Diary of a Mad Zombie Killer series as a guide because it truly has great ideas. It addresses the way people should actually treat each other and just be decent. The book isn’t all sunshine and roses. There are some really dark themes, but they’re necessary for the story. At this point though, Jojo seems like an old friend. His personality and sense of humor shines through the darkness and you just want everything to work out. Another thing I really like about this series is the length of the books. I read fairly quickly, so, on many occasions, I find myself really getting into a book and then it’s over before I’m ready for it. These books just keep on trucking without any kind

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

127


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Thrill of the Hunt: Buried Alive Various Paranormal Suspense ~What happens when you find yourself “BURIED ALIVE”? Sometimes it’s more dangerous to fear yourself than the Reaper. This collection of stories challenges you to understand the fear of being Buried Alive, whether physically or metaphorically.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This is the 5th or 6th book in the Thrill of the Hunt anthologies and each one gets better and better. A great place to find up and coming authors with amazing storytelling skills, this series has something for everyone. Each book has its own theme, from Urban legends and now Buried Alive. The fear of being buried alive is a very real thing for many people. I don’t think anyone would be too keen on the idea to start with and this book brings that fear to life in a variety of ways. I love an anthology where every single story is a great read. It doesn’t happen often, but this series has consistently delivered on that front. I can’t say I had a favorite story because they really were all good. They all had their own twists and turns that I could appreciate. I think the two stories I loved the most were Trapped by Celeste Kuri and Buried by J. Nichole Parkins. I’ve read stories by both of them in the past and, once again, they didn’t disappoint.

128 | UncagedBooks.com

If you’re looking for a book with a variety of stories to creep you out, look no further. The Thrill of the Hunt Anthology is worth reading.


13 Ways to Midnight Rue Volley Young Adult/Paranormal “Twilight meets Charmed.”

like her writing style and sense of humor that shows in her characters. I enjoyed the story along the way and look forward to reading the next book.

Dive into this exciting new paranormal series for fans of Twilight, Charmed, and Buffy. it’s gone.

You’ll never miss the sunlight until

Sixteen-year-old Echo Navarri, daughter of world-famous archaeologists, Alice and Peter Navarri, had spent her life traveling from one expedition to the next as her parents unearthed lost civilizations. On their thirteenth dig, Midnight, Echo’s twin sister, disappears without a trace. This prompts a year-long search that leaves the family nearly broken.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: 13 Ways to Midnight is a great start to a new to me series. It’s been out for a while, but I just hadn’t had the opportunity to try it out. I’m not normally one for YA, but I loved the cover and was in a quirky mood so I thought I’d take a chance. I’m glad I did. The main character, Echo, has been described as similar to Bella from Twilight. I don’t agree with this. I think her snark and overall personality make her a much more enjoyable character. I couldn’t stand Bella, Echo, on the other hand, I can relate to. I wasn’t a fan of her twin sister, Midnight, so I wasn’t too upset when she vanished. There were a lot of unanswered questions I still had in the end, but it’s a 13 book series, so there is plenty of time for everything to be revealed. This is the first book I’ve read by Rue Volley, but I

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

129


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews A Thousand Mothers Brenda Marie Webb Jewsish Fiction In December 1942, the Nazis deport Perl Kaczlowicz from the Plonsk ghetto in Poland and send her to Ravensbruck, the infamous female concentration camp. She says good-bye to her husband that fateful morning not knowing that she is expecting their first child, or that she will never see him again

Amy’s Review: Powerful Webb pens an intensely remarkable story in A Thousand Mothers. I was immediately drawn into this story the minute I read the Introduction, backed up by the Prologue. I’ve read this book in one sitting, but sometimes, I just had to put it down, before I could continue on. The story brings to life the horrors and strengths of survivors and victims in WWII Germany. This story was both powerful, raw, horrifying, and magnificent. The words of the author flow across the page, painting a story for the reader, without hesitation because of the subject matter. The story as a whole both shook me and enticed me. “Nothing could have prepared Perl for what happened next as the rough hands of a female guard grabbed her and shaved off her hair. She was mortified as male and female SS guards pointed and laughed at her and the other degraded women.” I look forward to reading more by this author. It’s too bad that the highest rating is only 5 stars. This read is definitely recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

130 | UncagedBooks.com

Development Paul Backalenick Family Life Fiction The money was gone. That much was certain. Mystery, tension and poignancy combine to make this multi-layered novel a riveting read. Well written and thoughtfully crafted, DEVELOPMENT weaves together three stories about life. About hopes and dreams. About frustrations and disappointments. And about love and redemption. Amy’s Review: Magnificently told! Backalenick pens a magnificent story in Development. There is something about this story that didn’t allow me to put it down once I started reading it. First, the writing style is just spot on for this story. I enjoyed the way the author put his words together to paint a story that was more than just a story. It was about family, and triumphs, tribulations, disappointments, and survival. It was a thrilling read to gain insight into the character’s lives, and how things ended up at the end. The plot has a lot of different dimensions that made this reader feel like I was part of the story. I look forward to reading more by this author. This is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.


Her Perfect Lies Lana Kortchik Psychological Thriller When Claire Wright wakes in hospital, she doesn’t recognise the person staring back at her in the mirror. She’s told that she has the perfect life: she’s beautiful, famous, with a husband and a house to die for. But Claire can’t remember anything from before the devastating car crash that’s left her injured. And now she’s surrounded by strangers, saying they’re her family and friends. Amy’s Review: Magnificent storytelling Kortchik has written a magnificent story. I’ve read this author’s work before, and I was definitely not disappointed with this thrilling story. The characters have a lot of depth and growth, while the plot keeps the reader turning the pages, breathlessly awaiting for whatever comes next. It’s filled with mystery and intrigue, and the reader gets pulled in from the beginning. Claire is a very strong character, probably stronger than she realizes. The secrets led to more, and even more. I found it to be very unpredictable, which is what I love about a story. I look forward to reading more by this author. This read is definitely recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

Shattered Maura Muir Malpractice Law When their therapist’s actions spawn her husband’s sudden violence, suburban mom Maura is catapulted into a brutal fight for truth and justice against two dangerous people she had trusted and a behemoth insurance corporation. Amy’s Review: Outstanding read! Muir grabbed my attention from the beginning, especially when I learned this is based on a true story. It was a remarkable read, and this reader could feel the betrayal and deception run off the pages. It was a real page-turner, and to know it really happened, and could happen to someone else made it all the more emotional and even frightening. This is the first book of Muir’s that I’ve read, and it definitely kept me turning the pages. I look forward to reading more by this author. This read is definitely recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

131


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Advocacy Melissa Fischer Women’s Fiction Drawn from her own experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, Melissa Fischer weaves a rich tale set in 1992, Obuasi, a mining boomtown. The gold mine, West Africa Gold, dams the Gyimi River, stagnating the water source of Gyimiso Kakraba, a village of subsistence farmers who refuse to accept a modern world that has forsaken the art of human connection. Amy’s Review: Very interesting story Fischer pens a remarkable story in The Advocacy. This is the first book of Fischer’s that I’ve read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It brings the reader to Ghana. I recommend reading the information at the beginning of the book, which gives the reader information about naming conventions and languages. Also, take a look and peruse the images of the maps, before diving into the story. Now, once I started the story, I read it from beginning to end, as it was a page-turner. It was both heart filling, and heart breaking. A step of humanity and inhumanity. The story was told well, and very well written. I look forward to reading more by this author. A very remarkable story, and this book is highly recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

132 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncredible Thoughts John Marszalkowski Memoir From the mind of author John Marszalkowski comes nonsense and foolishness at its very finest. Polished and primed, poppycock and spiels come from a wide variety of one-sided arguments, essays, and micro-stories. Everyone can relate to the topics of these hilarious rants—ranging from naps and being fat to assimilation and feminism. Amy’s Review: Loved this book! I found it interesting to leap inside the mind (the ADHD mind) of Marszalkowski. Something about this book, makes you feel like you’re sitting down with the author, and listening to the rants and perspective of the thoughts and ideas, no more like Essays, Spiels, and Poppycock that come from his mind. Just a browse through the table of contents will give the reader an idea of what is to come, but when you get there, it’s so much more than that. An amazingly unique rant and perspective, and I loved reading his thoughts, and knew I was definitely hooked. I couldn’t put it down, and several times I read the same passage, repeatedly. I laughed out loud, and nodded a great deal. I look forward to whatever new thoughts, ideas, spiels, come out of the mind of Marszalkowski. This book is definitely recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.


Were We Awake L.M. Brown Short Stories

Release Leah Moyes War Fiction

In each story, events make the characters understand that their world is not as it seemed.

Treachery, heartache, and loneliness led Ella Kühn to take her first alcoholic drink ten years ago. Survival in the shadow of the Berlin Wall takes on a new face as her resulting addiction turns toxic.

In Hidden, the discovery of an affair between her father and aunt is only the start of finding hidden secrets for Hazel. What It Means to Be Empty-Handed is narrated by a fourteen–year-old daughter of an alcoholic. Her denial and elaborate imagination starts to disintegrate when she lies to the wrong person. Amy’s Review: Powerful stories I love the stories that Brown put together in this collection, Were we Awake. Each story brings a unique perspective in a life situation that affects not just one character, but all of them. The actions of others can affect those around them. Brown definitely knows how to tell a story, and tells many. The writing style matches the story itself, along with its great pace and giving a whole story in a short story format. I look forward to reading more by this author. This read is definitely recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

Amy’s Review: Incredibly written I have read the first two books in the Berlin Butterfly series, and I was looking forward to reading this one. This book is another remarkable story from Moyes. It’s a powerful story of survival, and the haunting past, and also living in the shadow of the Berlin wall. Moyes definitely writes a raw and ingenious story. I really liked this story, and found many of the scenes powerful and real. I look forward to reading more by this author. This is a definite recommendation from Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

Issue 41 | December 2019 |

133


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 UncagedBooks@gmail.com

Submit your story today!

Profile for Cyrene

Uncaged Book Reviews  

Issue 41 - December 2019 Lady It's Cold Outside Box Set - Meet the authors behind the set Feature authors: Craig DiLouie, Barbra Campbell,...

Uncaged Book Reviews  

Issue 41 - December 2019 Lady It's Cold Outside Box Set - Meet the authors behind the set Feature authors: Craig DiLouie, Barbra Campbell,...