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ISSUE 45 | APRIL 2020


Even with despair, hope remains

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Venice’s water is clearer https://abcnews.go.com/International/venice-canals-clear-fishcoronavirus-halts-tourism-city/story?id=69662690

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NOTE FROm ThE EDITOR W

ith the world pandemic with the COVID-19 virus, and all the “stay at home” and “social distancing” orders in place for what could be months into the near future, readers and authors will depend upon each more than ever. People have been laid-off from their jobs, kids can’t go to schools, and health care systems and essential employees are overwhelmed, and I’ve seen some of the best of people, and the worst during these trying times. Be kind, watch out for your fellow neighbor and follow the orders of your local government and the CDC. In these times, I’ve seen authors really stepping up to the challenge and getting free books into the hands of readers to help them during a very stressful shut-in time. Readers are finding new authors to stalk as a result, this is a true win-win for everyone. There are a few groups on Facebook that you can search for and find these free books - make sure to help the authors out and leave a review if you get a free book. I’ve never been prouder to be a small part of the book world. If you find a new author you love with these free books, please consider buying more of their books if you are able, as book sales have been affected also by this pandemic. Even better, if you have a KindleUnlimited subscription, many authors are offering theirs on this platform, and right now Amazon is offering a two month free trial on KindleUnlimited - so give it a try for free. Uncaged Book R ev i ew s readership is up dramatically. New readers are finding the magazine and discovering new authors. Uncaged will continue to bring the best possible content as usual.

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mind. You don’t just see a commercial on TV one time and remember it, right? So we will continue to try and provide the best bang for your buck and get the most eyes we can on your work. Uncaged is supported through advertisements, but the prices will not increase in 2020. Feature author openings are available now for the rest of 2020, so if authors have a book that is releasing this year, give me a shout and we will see what we can do - most of these spots fill up pretty quickly - so don’t be afraid to contact me. Unfortunately, Tier 2 review requests will remain closed until further notice. That review Tier is only open to Feature Authors at this time. Uncaged is always open to bringing on new reviewers, so if you’d like to get books for free in exchange for an honest review, please email me at Cyrene@ UncagedBooks.com Enjoy the April 2020 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews and stay safe and healthy!

We will be continuing with the “Buy 2, Get 1” promotion we’ve been running. It really does help from a marketing standpoint, to have an advertisment run three months in a row - to repeat in the readers

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C Y R E N E


Issue 45 | April 2020

contents featureauthors Julie Johnstone 12 historical romance 26

Collette Cameron

34

Samantha St. Claire

44

Sara Ohlin

54 58

92

historical western romance

contemporary romance

Debra Jess scifi superhero

catchup 30 Nadine Millard

Nadine returns to tell us about her very busy 2020 and her new book, P r ot e c t i ng t he P r i nc e s s .

scottish historical romance

72 Hope Malory

Hope returns to tell us about her new release, B l ue Sk i e s of Sum m e r and promoting in a pandemic world.

showcase

young adult/spy adventure

50

Meg Lelvis

sneakpeek

Nicole Nadeau

mystery

64

Lauryn Dyan

76

Humphrey Hawksley

84

Bruce Olav Solheim

psychological thriller

thriller

occult

authors and their pets

52

F angFreakinTastic

Isobel Blackthorn The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

12

Othmar A. Brunner

71

Nancy Thorne

4 7 96 104 108

ihuman Victorian Town

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

Uncaged on Instagram

Uncaged’s Feature Authors introduce you to their devoted writing buddies, and the devotion goes both ways. I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

5


Contributors | Partnerships

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.

I f y ou ’ d l i ke y ou r b anner h er e, p l ease emai l me at UncagedBooks@ gmai l .com I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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upcomingconventions Please make sure to check their websites or call ahead to make sure events are still continuing and have not been canceled. At the time of preparing this issue, these events were still scheduled, but please check ahead.

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

Romance Slam Jam March 28–30, Norfolk,VA https://rsjconvention.com/

BookCon May 30–31, 2020 New York City, NY http://www.thebookcon.com/Home/

Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together (RAGT) June 4–7, 2020 West Chester, OH http://readerauthorgettogether.com/ KissCon April 17-19, 2020 Chicago, IL https://info.harpercollins.com/kisscon2020authors/

Interracial Romance Authors’ Expo April 23–25, Daytona Beach, FL https://www.irauthorsexpo.com/ 8| u ncagedb ooks.com |

Wild Deadwood Reads June 20, 2020 Deadwood, SD http://wilddeadwoodreads.com/


Othmar A. Br u nner ihuman ihuman Othmar A. Brunner Politics & Government I nm

ar e be l aw y t he i r t i t ude T hi s t ude i s t he s oc i e t y as I n adi e x pos s i t uat t i ons St at e of w or

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When author Othmar Brunner noticed that injustices are brought to the people by the ones who should be upholding the law, he figured it is time to change the system and instead focus on boosting economic growth by patronizing home-grown companies. In a fictional location set in the United States of America, Othmar Brunner recreated some of the injustices he notices happening around him in the book i-Human. In his blog tour interview, the author shared some of his motivation and his process in writing his first novel. Q: What’s the hardest thing about being an author? 10| u ncagedb ooks.com |

sneakp eek A : Time shortage. Q: What is the best thing about being an author? A : Getting rid of accumulated frustration. Q: What book changed your life? A : No book has changed my life, but I really liked reading Fingerprints of the Gods. Q: How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work? A : A bit amateurish as a result of no experience, but interesting for most of the title. Q: What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year? A : To spread the content of the book to as many people as possible. Q: Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you? A : It flows naturally for me. Q: Can you share your next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details? A : I am working on the continuation of i-Human Q: Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? A : Please recommend the book to others.

Writer’s Republic Amazon othmarbrunner.com


feature authors

historical romance | historical western

Julie Johnstone

Collette Cameron

Samantha St Claire


JULIE JOhNSTONE

12 | UncagedBooks.com


Uncaged welcomes Julie Johnstone Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest releases have been a Highlander time travel series with a cowriter, Cecelia Mecca. How did this partnership come about? Can you tell readers more about the series? It’s so great to be here! Thank you so much for having me! So, the Scottish time travel series, Highlanders Through Time, came about when Cecelia Mecca approached me about working together at the NINC conference. I was excited to work with her because I love her writing, and we share a similar fan base. I’d had an idea some time ago about writing a time travel series, and Cecelia had written one before, so after telling her my idea, we decided to go for time travel, but we came up with a new idea in case I wanted to use my other one ulie Johnstone is a USA Today and #1 Amazon bestselling author. Scottish historical romance, Scottish historical time travel romance, and Regency historical romance featuring highlanders, aristocrats and modern-day billionaire bad boys are her love, and she enjoys creating both with a hefty dose of twists, plenty of heartstring tugs, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

J

Her books have been dubbed “fabulously entertaining and engaging,” making readers cry, laugh, and swoon. Johnstone lives in Alabama with her very own lowlander husband, her two children - the heir and the spare, her snobby cat, and her perpetually happy dog. In her spare time she enjoys way too much coffee balanced by super hot yoga, reading, and traveling.

Stay Connected

NEWSLETTER

in the future. This series revolves around four modern day billionaire bad boy brothers who are tossed back in time to Medieval Scotland! Say that ten times really fast! Anyway, Cecelia and I both share a love for Scotland, and I was pretty steeped in Highland history, so the book delves into the political drama surrounding the death of the Scottish king Alexander. We started asking a bunch of ‘what if’ questions and built are plot from there. What if the king’s death was not an accident but a conspiracy? What if the king of England was involved? What if there was a witness to the plot? What if time travel was possible? There are four books, and each book focuses on one of the brother’s journeys back through time. The overarching plot though is a quest to find their mother who disappeared five years earlier from modern day New Orleans where they live. Since the day she disappeared their father has been claiming that she was a time traveler who was snatched back to her time, but everyone thought he was crazy. Turns out, he was not so crazy after all. When the father falls critically ill, the brothers go to his home, and discover an ancient chant and a time travelling cross and the journey begins! They set out to try to time travel and bring their mom back to try to help their dad come out of the coma he’s in. Here is the blurb for book one, Sinful Scot, which is out now! In a time he doesn’t belong, in an alliance she shouldn’t have made, they’ll fall dangerously, hopelessly in love. N e w O r l e ans , 20. B doe s n’ t be l i e v e f or m ot he r i s a t i m e t r t hat s he di dn’ t l e av t hr ough t i m e t o he l and. B ut w he n he anc i e nt t i m e - t r av e f at he r and R hy s i s Sc ot l and, he c an’ t

i l l i onai one se c av e l e r . St e t he m r t r ue hom and hi s l i ng s pe c at apul e x ac t l y

r e R hy s M c C ai m ond t hat hi s m i s s i ng i l l , hi s f at he r i ns i s t s w i l l i ngl y but w as p ul l e e i n m e di e v al Sc ot t hr e e br ot he r s t e s t out l l t o ape as e t he i r dy i ng t e d t o t hi r t e e nt h- c e nt ur de ny i t any m or e . Su de I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

d an y

nl y

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h e ’ s a H i ghl ande r i n a l and on t he v e r ge of w ar . H e n e e ds t o ge t bac k t o h i s t i m e be f or e al l he l l br e ak s loose, but first he must find his mother. Luckily, fate d r ops t he p e r f e c t gui d e i n hi s pat h. She ’ s br i l l i a nt , b e aut i f ul and bol d, a nd he ’ s dr aw n t o he r i n a w ay he ’ s ne v e r be e n d r aw n t o any one or any t hi n g b e f or e . B ut he c an’ t a f f or d t o be di s t r ac t e d f r om hi s m i s s i on or l ow e r hi s c ar e f ul l y c ons t r uc t e d guar d . S c ot l and, 1286. M ag gi e I r v i ne i s v i c i ous m an w ho c ar e s onl y of w e M ar r y i ng hi m w i l l r e s t or e he r f am h ow e v e r , s av i ng he r s i bl i ngs f r om S he has r e s i gne d he r s e l f t o he r f at m y s t e r i ous , hands om e s t r ange r m b e f or e he r out of t hi n ai r , he r pl an— g e r ’ s l i f e — ar e i n j e op ar dy . A nd t he h i m i s t o r i s k e v e r y t h i ng. A s s he c s hoc k i ng t r ut h of w ha t he hi de s , M w hat hape ns w he n d ut y c ol l i de s l o ng- abndoe d dr e a m s r i s e t o t he B undo by t a ngl e d i n W i t h hi s k t h e pow e r s uc c e s s f ul h e ’ s s pe nt t h at be gan i l e av e t he m a nd w hat

s e c r e t s and l i e s , M agi t he rb e w i ng bat t l e f or now l e dge of t he f ut ur f ul abi l i t y t o al t e r hi s l y , he m us t l e t M a gi a l i f e t i m e bui l di ng. N n de s pe r a t i on be c om bot h t or n be t w e e n w l ov e de m an ds .

be t r ot h e d t o a al t h an d pow e r. i l y ’ s r e put at i o n, liv e s o f m is e r y . e , but w he n a agi c al l y ape ar s and t he s t r a n onl y w ay t o s av e om e s t o l e ar n t he agi e di s c ov e r s w i t h de s i r e an d s ur f ac e .

e nda R hy t he Sc ot t i s e , R hy s pos s t or y . Y e t , t o do s e pas t t he de ow , an al l i anc e s a ne e d t hat t he y s houl

s ra e e n h t hr one . e sse s o f e ns e s e hat w ill d do

Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I just turned in the first draft of Seductive Scot, which is book 3 in the time travel series. After I take a much needed week vacation, I’m going to be delving into a new historical series that combines Scottish heroes and heroines with the Regency period. I started my career in the Regency period, but I hopped over to the Medieval period three years ago to write my Medieval Scottish books. Fifteen books later, I think I’m ready to shake things up again. It’s really important to me to write what I’m feeling passionate about and not to try to force something 14 | UncagedBooks.com

just because it’s selling well. Medieval books have been very good to me, but I’m feeling the Regency period again, so I’m going to take a leap of faith and go for it. Uncaged: Is your Street Team open to new members? What are the expectations and benefits to being on the team?


| J UL I E J O H N S T O N E | hope is that you will provide an honest review when you are done reading the book. Beyond that, there are no expectations. Uncaged: Are you planning on attending any inperson events in 2020? Yes! I’ll be at the Romancing the Gold Coast Conference on October 1 in Long Island, NY. You can check out the conference here > > https://romancingthegoldcoast.com Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Present: George R.R. Martin – I’d love to know how he went about building the complex world of Game of Thrones. Did he have it fully plotted before he began or did he have a shell of a plot and let the characters take him where they would. Present: Diana Gabaldon – Same question as above! Present: Jeaniene Frost – Is she naturally funny? Her heroes are hilarious but bad ass. I consider that quite an accomplishment. Past: Jane Austen – I’d want to know every aspect of what was it really like to live in the Regency period and to be a writer in a time when it would have been pretty frowned upon for a woman to do such a thing. Past: Alexandre Dumas who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo. If you have not read this, you must! This is writing at it’s absolute finest! I would want to pick his brain on how he wove so beautifully the counter themes of revenge and hope into his novel. My Street Team is definitely open to new members. I use a revolving street team. In other words, you cannot expect to get every book I write, but you can expect your name to come back around eventually. I try very hard to rotate out who gets the ARCS to be fair and to have variety. Basically, you get the ARC of my book usually three weeks before it goes for sale, and what I

Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Yes! I’m not much of a plotter, so my characters often do things I did not intend!

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| J UL I E J O H N S T O N E |

Enjoy an excerpt from S i nf u l S cot

Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I like to travel, cook, hit the gym, read, take long walks outside, hike, spend time with my kids and husband, go to concerts, and go pretty much anywhere where the water is.

Sinful Scot Julie Johnstone & Cecelia Mecca Highlander RomanceTime Travel

Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you?

In a time he doesn’t belong, in an alliance she shouldn’t have made, they’ll fall dangerously, hopelessly in love.

Success is always, and I hope will always be for me, writing a book that readers feel passionately about. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I like all three for different reasons. Ebooks to travel and for the convenience of getting a book right when I want it, even if that’s at midnight. Print books on the beach or in the tub. Audio books in the car. I’m always reading something! Right now, I’m finishing up Deborah Harkness’s book A Discovery Witches. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I love interaction with my readers! I have a private Facebook group where I interact with my readers daily. You can join that here > > https://www.facebook.com/ groups/1500294650186536/ I also have a newsletter that I send monthly where I give sneak peeks at what’s coming from me, talk about my latest books, chat everyday life, and have giveaways. When you sign up for my newsletter, you can download It’s in the Duke’s Kiss, which is one of my Regency Novella’s, for free.

N e w O r l e ans , 20 20. B i l l i onai r e R hy s M c C ai m doe s n’ t be l i e v e f o r one s e c ond t hat hi s m i s s i ng m ot he r i s a t i m e t r a v e l e r . St i l l , hi s f at he r i ns i s t s t hat s he di dn’ t l e av e t he m w i l l i ngl y but w as pul l e d t hr ough t im e to he r t r ue hom e i n m e di e v al Sc ot l and. B ut w he n he and hi s t hr e e br ot he r s t e s t out an anc i e nt t i m e t r av e l i ng s pe l l t o ape as e t he i r dy i ng f at he r and R hy s i s c at apul t e d t o t hi r t e e nt h- c e nt ur y Sc ot l and, he c an’ t e x ac t l y de ny i t any m or e . Sude nl y he ’ s a H i ghl ande r i n a l and on t he v e r ge of w ar . H e ne e ds t o ge t bac k t o hi s t i m e be f or e al l he l l breaks loose, but first he must find his mother. Luckily, fate drops the perfect guide in his path. She ’ s br i l l i ant , be aut i f ul and bol d, and he ’s dr aw n t o he r i n a w ay he ’ s ne v e r be e n dr aw n t o any one or any t hi ng be f or e . B ut he c an’ t af f or d t o be di s t r ac t e d f r om hi s m i s s i on or l ow e r hi s c ar e f ul l y c ons t r uc t e d guar d. Sc to l and, 1286. M v i c i ous m M ar r y i ng hi t i on, how m i s e r y . She w he n a m l y ape ar and t he s onl y w ay

agi

e I r v i ne i s be t r ot h e d t o a an w ho c ar e s onl y of w e al t h and pow e r. m w i l l r e s t or e he r f am i l y ’ s r e put a e v e r , s av i ng he r s i bl i ngs f r om l i v e s of has r e s i gne d he r s e l f t o he r f at e , but y s t e r i ous , hands om e s t r ange r m agi c al s be f or e he r out of t hi n ai r , he r pl an— t r ange r ’ s l i f e — ar e i n j e opar dy . A nd t he t o s av e hi m i s t o r i s k e v e r y t hi ng. A s I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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c o m e s eh ih d e s , M utd y c ol l i de rd e am s r i s B undo by e nt na gl e t hr on e . W pos s e s s e Y e t , t o do s pas t t h e i ng. N ow be c om e s be t w e e n w de m ands

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s e c r e t s and l i e s , M agi e and R hy s ar e d i n t he br e w i ng bat t l e f or t he S c ot t i s h i t h hi s k now l e dge of t he f ut ur e , R hy s s t he pow e r f ul abi l i t y t o al t e r hi s t or y . o s uc c e s s f ul l y , he m us t l e t M agi e de f e ns e s he ’ s s pe nt a l i f e t i m e bui l d , an al l i an c e t hat be gan i n de s pe r at i on a ne e d t hat w i l l l e av e t he m bot h t or n hat t he y s houl d do and w hat l ov e . Excerpt Chapter One

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep. ~ Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” The Present 2020 New Orleans, Louisiana “Don’t tell me you’re gay,” asked the too perfectly put-together blonde standing before Rhys, her eyebrows arched in a question mark. “That would be a shame,” she continued, grinning at him. “All the best-looking men seem to be.” The bass guitarist strummed more chords from the stage of the Dungeon, and the notes vibrated into Rhys McCaim’s chest, rumbled through his veins, and pounded into his head. Normally, he’d be starting to feel loose by now, unwinding from a long week of running his family’s billion-dollar shipping company and all the responsibility that came with it. But not tonight. Not when Reikart was with him. He didn’t need to turn his head to see his younger 18 | UncagedBooks.com

brother’s glare. He could feel it burning a hole in his temple. Rhys was here for the music and Reikart for the women, which was why Rhys rarely frequented this underground club—or any club, really—with his brother. Reikart tilted his head none too discreetly at the raven-haired woman standing beside the blonde. The two friends were a package deal apparently, and Reikart wanted to open his part of the package. “You’re really not going to dance with me?” the blonde said, managing a perfect pout while sharing a quick what-the-hell look with her friend. Rhys circled his shoulders, trying to loosen the knots that had formed during the board meeting earlier that day. He mentally cursed his brother for asking to tag along tonight, and he cursed himself, too, for relenting. All three of his brothers were grown men, but as the eldest, Rhys felt responsible for them, as if he had to be the stand-in parent after their mom had disappeared five years before and their dad had slid into insanity. “I just don’t dance. Sorry.” He shrugged. Her pout grew more pronounced. “We don’t have to dance, if you know what I mean.” She offered a coy smile. He knew exactly what she meant, but he didn’t do that, either, or at least he hadn’t in the last year. Hell, he could be a priest with his celibate lifestyle if he had any desire to, which he didn’t. “I appreciate the offer, but I have a girlfriend.” “Just my luck,” the blonde said, raising her hand to his chest and slipping one long, pointy nail between the buttoned material. She gently raked the sharp end along his skin. “I spot the hottest guy here, and he just so happens to be the last honorable man alive.” With that, she withdrew her hand, flipped her hair over her shoulder, and motioned to her friend. “Come on, Ally.” “Ladies, don’t rush off,” Reikart said, flashing a smile at the brunette. She looked at him like the cat who most definitely wanted to eat the canary, but her friend tugged on her arm. “Ally, don’t you dare! You promised,” the blonde whined. Ally bit her lip and nodded, and with one last look of longing at Reikart, the two women disappeared into


| J UL I E J O H N S T O N E | the press of bodies that seemed to be swaying as one to the music. “You don’t have a girlfriend,” Reikart snapped, then downed the remainder of his beer and slammed the bottle on the bar. “Jenny is a girl, she’s my friend, and she used to be my girlfriend, so it’s not technically a lie,” Rhys said. He finished his own beer while meeting his brother’s irritated look. “Would it have killed you to dance with the girl? You knew I wanted to dance with her friend.” “You want to dance with every woman who crosses your path.” “And you don’t want to do anything with any woman these days.” Reikart eyed him. “Are you sure you still like women?” “Do you want me to punch you in the face, Reik?” Reikart threw up his hands. “Easy, bro. I’m just saying that maybe it’s time to face the truth.” “You’re right,” Rhys growled. “It is time to face the truth. I hate coming to clubs with you. You want to pick up women, and I want to listen to music. We always end up in a fight if anything like this happens. So good luck and good night, and don’t ask to tag along with me anymore.” He turned, slipped into the opening of the crowd behind him, and weaved his way toward the dark stairs that led out to the even darker night. Beer, sweat, and smoke swirled in the air around him and only increased his desire to get out of there. He needed fresh air. Hell, he needed a fresh start, but clean air would have to do. Three steps up the slippery stone, a hand came to his elbow. He shot a glance behind him, and Reikart grinned. “You know, fleeing is an omission of guilt. I still love your big gay self.” Rhys chuckled at his brother’s attempt to lighten the mood. He wanted to be irritated that Reikart hadn’t just left him the hell alone, but it was hard to be mad that someone always had your back. Three someones, if he counted his two other brothers. As annoying as the three of them could be, and as heavy with responsibility as they sometimes made him feel, they were always there for him. With Reikart by his side, Rhys pushed past the last of

the clubgoers. The crowd parted easily for the two of them, who towered over most everyone else, and they went out the door onto Toulouse Street. A carriage clopped by, the sidewalk teemed with tourists, and the sweet soulful notes of a saxophone suddenly filled the night. Rhys took a deep breath and angled toward his home, but when his phone started dinging he paused to withdraw it from his pocket. Multiple texts from his brothers Greyson and Ian lit up his screen. He read them in succession: G re G re I an: G re I an: I an:

y s n:o y s on: B igt y s on: W he Y o ut

C mo e t o D ad’ s . T r oubl e . r oubl e . C mo e t o D d’a s . W he r e t he eh l l ar e y ou? r e ’ s R e i k ra t ? w o ne v e r a sn w e r y our amd

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A sliver of worry slid down Rhys’s spine to settle hard and unwanted in his gut. “It’s the anniversary of Mom’s disappearance,” he said to Reikart, looking up from his phone and quickly stepping out of the way of several drunk college kids. His brother frowned at him, glancing up from his own phone. “You think I don’t know that, Rhys?” His tone was slightly hostile and sarcastic. Rhys clenched his teeth, determined to give Reikart a pass. They were all edgy on the anniversary of the day their mother had walked out of their lives. Despite the police bluntly telling their father that there had been no sign of foul play on the day they’d last seen her and there had been every indication that she’d left of her own accord, their father remained determined to prove she had not abandoned them. With each year that passed, he withdrew further into his fantasy that their mom was a time traveler who’d been snatched back to her own time. And each year his efforts to prove it got stupider and more costly. God only knew what he’d done this time. Last year, he’d spent a fortune on some rare Scottish book about herbs that was purported to have been used by Highland witches. Witches! Just thinking that word made Rhys want I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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to roll his eyes. He looked in the direction of his home with a wistful glance, then changed his course, turning toward Orleans Parish where the family home was. Rhys glanced at his brother. “I assume Ian and Greyson texted you, too?” “Yep.” Reikart proceeded to read the texts he’d gotten, which were pretty much the same ones Rhys had received. When Reik was done, silence descended between them, even though the French Quarter was as lively as ever. Finally, as they walked away from the crowds of partiers, the noise lessened. “Listen, about earlier—” Reikart started. “Forget it,” Rhys cut in. His irritation with his brother’s natural desire to pick up women seemed foolish as hell now in light of whatever their dad might have done. “But for the record, I’m not gay.” Reikart gave him a nod and a wink. “I know, bro. I just like razzing you. But I do wish you’d act like the wingman you used to be. You’re wasting that pretty face, and all your time, training at the boxing gym.” Rhys shrugged. He couldn’t force what he didn’t feel, and he didn’t want a relationship right then. He’d had enough midnight hookups in his thirtytwo years to know that a woman might say she only wanted sex in the heat of the moment, but when the heat cooled off, she wanted more. He didn’t have more to give, and he was self-aware enough to know that the problem was most definitely him. His ex-girlfriend would be the first to agree. Over a year ago, when Jenny had given him the ultimatum to either propose or let her go, he had chosen to let her go. He was ashamed to say it hadn’t hurt, nor had he really missed what they’d been: a comfortable couple. They’d been together for four years. Jenny had wanted the life he could provide—or that his money could, rather—and he had wanted someone who didn’t demand a depth of feeling he never wanted to experience. He’d thought she was that person, but then she’d started wanting more. What had she called it? He frowned. Big love? 20 | UncagedBooks.com

He couldn’t even place the blame for his emotional shutdown on his mom leaving. He’d been like this for a lot longer than that. What he would talk to a therapist about—if he believed in therapy, which he didn’t— was his abhorrence of what his eighth-grade girlfriend had called “romance-movie love.” She had said it longingly while looking dreamily at his parents. She’d been right. His parents had been crazy in love. Or at least everyone, including his dad, had thought they had been. And maybe they had been once and Mom had fallen out of love. Or maybe she’d just been a superb actress and she’d gotten tired of playing the role of loving wife and doting mother. As they walked, his mind drifted to when he was fourteen and his mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. They had feared she might not survive it, and in the hospital one night, his dad had tearfully confessed to Rhys that he didn’t want to live if she died. Rhys would never forget that. He had thought then that he never wanted to be that dependent on or intertwined with someone else ever. Just look at Dad now. Deranged. Delusional. Defunct. Rhys ground his teeth. He was out of D words for the moment, but apparently, he still had enough emotion left to let the anniversary of Mom’s disappearance get to him. He hated that, too. “Good talk,” Reikart said, his tone dripping sarcasm. “Sorry, Reik,” Rhys replied, stopping to text the family chauffer, Patrick, who immediately responded that he was on his way from the hospital and would be there in three minutes. “The hospital?” Rhys muttered and flipped back to the text from his brothers. “Jesus…” “What?” Reikart asked. Rhys flipped his phone so Reikart could see the text from Patrick. As Reikart read, Rhys said, “Greyson and Ian contacted us two hours ago. I just noticed the time.” Reikart’s lips parted. “You don’t think—” “That Dad hurt himself and is at the hospital? Yea,” Rhys said, amazed at the fresh anger his mother still inspired. Frustrated and worried, he yanked a hand through his hair. “That’s exactly what I think. Whether it was purposeful or a stupid mistake remains to be seen.”


| J UL I E J O H N S T O N E | ~~~ “What happened?” Rhys asked as he pushed open the door to their dad’s hospital room. He swept his gaze over Ian and Greyson, who stood at the foot of the bed but had turned to look at him and Reikart as the door opened. A doctor stood to the right side of the bed, and he paused in writing something on his clipboard to glance up, as well. “Are you relatives?” the doctor asked. Rhys nodded and stepped into the room, noting that Ian and Greyson were wearing matching dazed expressions. Rhys swallowed, feeling doom and desperation clutch at his chest as he moved around his brothers to see his dad. Long IV tubes were coming out of his arms and hands, pumping him full of clear liquids, and his body was bloated and bruised. “Jesus,” Reikart muttered behind him. Yes, God’s blood, he thought to himself, invoking the curse his mother had used whenever she thought none of them were listening. His mother had never cursed like a normal person. Why the hell he thought of that now, he couldn’t say, except perhaps shock. Was he in shock? He ran a suddenly trembling hand through his hair as he stared at his father’s injured body. “What the hell happened?” he asked again, but this time, he looked to the doctor—Dr. Jameson according to his hospital name tag. Dr. Jameson cleared his throat. “The patient—” “Colin,” Rhys interrupted. “His name is Colin.” It felt odd to refer to his dad by his first name, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to stand here and listen to the impassive-faced doctor refer to his dad as “the patient” as if he were just a number, as if his life wasn’t important enough for the cocky doc to know his dad’s name. Dr. Jameson cleared his throat again, nodding, and shifted his chart to the other arm. “Yes, sorry,” he said, and Rhys watched as the man glanced down, probably trying to scan all the information he should have already read and learned about Rhys’s father. One thing Rhys had learned about running his family’s company, McCaim Shipping, with his brothers—under their father’s tutelage before he’d lost his

mind, of course—was that the difference between someone who was successful and someone who wasn’t successful was knowledge of the details, hard work, and ruthless determination. “Your father was brought in an hour ago and has been in and out of consciousness. Everything indicates that he fell and hit his head.” The doctor paused and glanced at Ian, who nodded. Ian must have been the one to find their dad. “Initial tests indicate dehydration, low sugar levels, malnutrition, and pneumonia,” the doctor continued. “His white blood cell count is very high, and we believe his pneumonia is bacterial.” Disbelief was a funny thing. Rhys could hear the doctor still talking, but he sounded so far away. As if he stood at one end of a tunnel and Rhys was at the other. “He’s been in and out of consciousness,” the doctor repeated, his voice still sounding as if he was whispering, even though Rhys was certain the man was speaking in a normal tone. “He gets very confused when he’s awake. He keeps saying he was trying to get to another time.” That last sentence was loud, blaring like the horn of their yacht, the Shona, which their father named after their mother. Dr. Jameson swept a questioning, slightly probing gaze over the four of them, and Rhys exchanged uneasy looks with his brothers. He wasn’t ready to publicly admit his dad’s insanity to this doctor yet, and apparently, by the collective silence of his brothers, neither were they. “Maybe the dehydration and malnutrition are making him delusional,” Rhys offered, hoping it was a believable possibility. “Certainly,” Dr. Jameson agreed. “Once the tests come back, we’ll better know how to proceed. Right now, we’ve stabilized him, given him something for pain and agitation, plus fluids to hydrate him. I’ll return as soon as we have the results.” As soon as the door closed on the doctor, Rhys moved to his dad’s side. Reikart simultaneously went to the other side. Ian and Greyson didn’t move, nor speak, and Rhys chalked it up to the fact that they’d had longer to process Dad’s condition and were giving them a moment. Rhys stared I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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down at his father. Blue lips. Blue nails. Why was that? Lack of oxygen? He could feel his brow furrowing as he looked at the machines. There was no ventilator or tube coming from his dad’s mouth, so he was breathing on his own. The blue tint didn’t make sense. Rhys made a mental note to ask Dr. Jameson about that when he returned. He glanced from the machines to Ian. “How could Dad be dehydrated and have malnutrition without you knowing?” Rhys asked, keeping his voice low. Dad looked like he was sleeping, but Rhys didn’t want to risk disturbing him. Ian’s jaw tensed noticeably. “Did you notice?” he demanded. Before Rhys could even respond, Ian continued. “Oh wait, of course you didn’t. You haven’t been to see him in a month.” Guilt was a bitch. She had a hard-core punch and true aim. Rhys clenched his teeth on the knee-jerk response sizzling on the end of his tongue. Instead, he inhaled a long, slow breath and said, “If you’ll recall, I was traveling for work three out of those four weeks.” He could tell by the parting of his brother’s lips and his uneasy shift that Ian had forgotten. Rhys had been back in town for seven days. Yes, technically long enough to go see Dad, but there had been a lot of fires to put out at the office. The nights had been long and draining. “Just because I live at home does not make me Dad’s babysitter,” Ian finally muttered, jerking a hand through his hair and scowling. “True enough,” Rhys agreed. “But still. Haven’t you seen him? Noticed things were off?” “Hell yes, I did!” Ian thundered, to which Rhys, Reikart, and Greyson hushed him. Rhys glanced toward his dad, expecting his eyes to open. They were fluttering but with tightly shut lids, as if he was dreaming. “I’ve told you guys repeatedly over the last year that Dad stays holed up in his study more than he’s out of it. But you all brushed me off, told me I was acting like a woman with all my worrying.” Rhys shifted uncomfortably. He had blown off his brother. Frankly, he’d just been happy that their dad had stopped showing up at the office insisting that Rhys and his brothers help him dis22 | UncagedBooks.com

cover how to travel back in time to rescue their mom. Their employees had heard and talked, and then the whispers had gotten to some of the shareholders, who in turn had demanded Dad be removed as head of the company. It had been horrible, but what had been worse was the subsequent intervention Rhys had needed to orchestrate. They’d had to warn Dad that his outlandish behavior was not only hurting the company but could land him in a psych ward. He’d mostly dropped the subject after that, and he’d become somewhat of a hermit, only bringing up his time travel theory now and again. Really, he only spoke of the nonsense when he’d been drinking scotch. “What was Dad doing in the study?” Reikart asked, which brought Rhys’s attention back to Ian in time to see his brother shrug. “I don’t know,” Ian said. “He kept the study locked down like it was an office of the Secret Service. I tried to find the key several times but couldn’t, and he got agitated and belligerent when I asked for it.” Something dawned on Rhys then. “Is this why you stayed there? Why you didn’t move out?” At Ian’s nod, Rhys felt the weight that was always pressing on him grow heavier. He was the eldest, and he’d tried to shoulder as much as he could by stepping into their dad’s shoes at the company, but it was clear now that he hadn’t paid enough attention to things on the home front, nor to the sacrifice Ian was making for the family. He opened his mouth to say they should break into the study when a loud beep filled the room and their dad started wheezing. Another monitor went off, then another, and Rhys’s blood went cold. He bent over his dad, whose eyelids suddenly opened. His piercing blue gaze locked on Rhys. “I’m dying,” he rasped. “Dad,” Rhys began, even as his brothers crowded around him, even as a hard ball of emotion lodged in his throat, “You are not—” “Promise me,” his dad interrupted as he clutched Rhys’s forearm with surprising strength. “Promise me, you’ll find your mother,” he finished on a gasp. Reikart shifted forward to stand beside Rhys. “Dad, she le—”


| J UL I E J O H N S T O N E | “We’ll find her,” Rhys cut in, glaring his brother into silence. The last thing their dad needed was to get more upset, and the contentious relationship Reikart had with him seemed to lead to that too damn often. “I need to see her,” his dad said, his voice barely a whisper. “I need to know that she’s okay. I can’t—” His eyes rolled back into his head. More beeps joined the ones already going off, and he started to convulse. For a second, Rhys stood frozen in shock, but then he turned to run for the doctors and nurses. They were already pushing their way through the doors, though, directing him and his brothers out of the room as they barked orders at one another. Rhys didn’t want to leave, but he knew they’d only be in the way. He followed one of the nurses as she led his brothers, who all looked just as shocked as he felt, out of the room and down the white, fluorescent-lit corridor tinged with the smell of antiseptic. They walked through a set of double doors and into a waiting room filled with black faux leather couches, flat screen televisions, and a handful of people who seemed to be switching from staring into nothingness, crying, and arguing with whomever they were with. “He’ll be fine,” Rhys told his brothers, taking a seat at the same time he stepped into the role of comforter. He’d been doing this for so long now that he no longer believed his own words. The skeptical looks he received from his brothers confirmed that they no longer believed him, either. And why should they? It had been five years since their mom had left, and their dad was far from fine. He was apparently worse than ever. Something had to change. Rhys scrubbed a hand across his face, the stubble scratching his skin. “When Dad is stable, I want to go home and get into the study. We need to find out what the hell is going on.” “Agreed,” Reikart replied. “We’ll probably have to kick down the door,” Ian mused. “What if Dad dies?” Greyson asked, staring directly at Rhys. “He’s not going to die,” Rhys said, refusing to even acknowledge the possibility. “He’s too damn stubborn, for one thing.”

“And he won’t let go without seeing Mom again,” Reikart said. “We have to find her.” Rhys nodded as if it were simple, though they’d had a team of the best private investigators working on her case for two years after she had vanished, and they had found nothing. The investigators had said they’d seen enough cases like hers, cases with no signs of foul play, to believe she didn’t want to be found. That her leaving was purposeful. They’d even gone so far as to investigate the foster system she’d told their dad she’d grown up in, and it turned out, she hadn’t. There were no records of her in the foster system. She’d lied. When they’d confronted Dad, he’d claimed she’d had to make up a past to explain why she had no family since she was not from their time. Recalling Dad’s utter denial of the truth made it seem like it had all just happened. He breathed in a long, deep breath. It was as though she’d never existed. Except she had. He couldn’t say how long they sat there in the waiting room because he didn’t look at his phone, but when Dr. Jameson finally came out to talk to them, it felt as if it had been years. Rhys stood, as did his brothers, and before the doctor said a word, Rhys knew it was bad news. Dr. Jameson had that look about him, the one people got when they had something unpleasant to tell you. His face was pinched, his hands twined together in front of him, and his gaze kept shifting from one of them to another. He finally settled it on Rhys. Everyone always did. It was part of being the eldest. “Your father is in a coma,” he said plainly. Rhys jerked at the news. “Will he live?” “We’re hopeful,” Dr. Jameson said. “We’re treating the dehydration, which should bring the swelling in his brain down, and once that happens, hopefully he’ll wake.” “How long will that take?” Greyson asked. “I can’t say for certain,” Dr. Jameson replied. “We’ll let you in to see him one at a time. He won’t respond, but he might be able to hear you. Don’t say anything to upset him. Oh, and he kept I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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asking for his wife earlier, before the coma. Is that your mother?” Rhys nodded. “Is she…” Dr. Jameson shifted, looking distinctly uncomfortable. “If she’s willing and able to come see your father, it could help.” Rhys didn’t have any idea if she was able, but she clearly wasn’t willing or she’d have never left. And he wasn’t about to stand here and tell this doctor that she’d apparently created an identity out of thin air, lied about who she was, and left them all without a backward glance. Or worst of all, that their father had lost touch with reality. That he’d convinced himself she was from another time. That he believed their mom had believed that, too. According to their dad, she’d told him as much. Rhys jerked a hand through his hair as the doctor stared at him. None of them had ever been able to pinpoint exactly when their dad had broken. Rhys cleared his throat, thought about what to say, and decided in this instance, it was easier to not say much at all. “Thank you. We’ll do our best to find her.” His brothers looked at him as if he was crazy; they all knew they’d already done their best. But maybe they’d find a clue in their Dad’s study, a piece of her history he had discovered. It didn’t seem likely, but Rhys had given his word, and he had to try.

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DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:


COLLETTE CAmERON Uncaged welcomes Collette Cameron Uncaged: Welcome back to Uncaged! Your newest release on March 20, is the 5th book in the Heart of a Scot series, To Enchant a Highland Earl. Can you tell readers more about this book and the series?

SA Today Bestselling, award-winning author COLLETTE CAMERON® scribbles Scottish and Regency historical romance novels featuring dashing rogues, rakes, and scoundrels and the strong heroines who reform them. Blessed with an overactive and witty muse that won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she’s lived in Oregon her entire life. Although she dreams of living in Scotland part-time.

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A confessed Cadbury chocoholic, you’ll always find a dash of inspiration and a pinch of humor in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances®.

Stay Connected

collettecameron.com

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T o E nc hant a H i ghl a nd E ar l is a witty, enemies-tolovers historical romance about Kendra MacKay and Broden McGregor. Set in the early 1700s, the characters in this 8-book series are friends whose paths to happily ever after are rather bumpy. However, despite villains, heartache, and the occasional misunderstanding, they find their hard-won happiness. Uncaged: Unfortunately, these are very trying times for the world with the COVID-19 virus. How is this affecting you and your writing? Are there any in-person event plans that you have to alter so far? I was supposed to have attended a conference in Virginia in March, which has been postponed until September. I’m hopeful this crisis will be over by then. My writing schedule keeps my home, and it’s not unusual for me to not leave the house for a week at a time. So, the social distancing isn’t affecting me as much. I know there are a lot of my readers are finding this time difficult, and I’m trying to reach out to them and give them a chance to share their feelings and concerns via social media. Uncaged: What are you working on now that you can tell us about? I just finished NEVER DANCE WITH A DUKE, the 7th book in my Seductive Scoundrels Series. It was my 41st book! I’m finishing the 2nd Edition of THE EARL’S ENTICEMENT, and I’ll be writing TO BAR-


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| F E A T UR E A UT H O R | GAIN WITH A HIGHLAND BUCCANEER next. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? I’d love to have lunch with Christi Caldwell, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Jane Austen. Jane Austen because she was the impetuous for Regency Romance, Kathleen Woodiwiss, because she caused me to fall in love with Historical Romance, and Christi Caldwell, because she, amongst several other historical authors, are amazingly gifted.

Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I want to thank my fans for all of their support, and also pray they are all safe during this precarious time. I love hearing from them too.

Enjoy an excerpt from T o E nch ant a H i gh l and E ar l To Enchant a Highland Earl Collette Cameron Scottish Historical Romance

Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Oh, yes! I just had that happen in NEVER DANCE WITH A DUKE. That’s one reason plotting doesn’t work well for me. I’ve tried it, but my books are character-driven, and my heroes and heroines have minds of their own.

Sparks fly whenever they m e e t … not t he s e ns ual k i nd. P i c k up bok 5 i n t he eb s t s e l l i ng H e ar t of a S c ot eS r i e s t oday ! R e ad f o r F R E E w i t h K i ndl e U ln i m i t e d!

Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I love long walks and hiking. Trips to the beach, gardening, and snuggling with my dachshunds. She

A nd i M c i nhe m us

Uncaged:What does success as an author look like to you? An author who can make a reader forget their difficulties or stresses for a few hours, is a successful author, in my opinion. Our readers are why we write, and when they take the time to thank me, or any other author, for providing a reprieve, then that is a successful author. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I used to say physical books, but a little over a year ago, I started listening to audiobooks, I didn’t have time to read like I wanted to, and audiobooks have been wonderful. I have a chance to support my fellow authors, and enjoy fabulous stories too. 28 | UncagedBooks.com

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|C O L L E T T E C A M E R O N N e i t he r c a n de yn orn r e s i s t t he pas t he m as s e c r e t s , t e m pt ta i ons , and l ar e r e v e al e d. B ut at w hat c os t ? ong-

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Excerpt Now, as he guided Kendra down the passageway, her honeyed heat, mere inches away, beckoned him. As did her perfume, light and tempting with a promise of spring. Fully aware, he flirted with danger and perhaps risked a slap, as well, he bent his neck and inhaled deeply. Her womanly scent tunneled through him, an intoxicating elixir of femininity and Kendra. She glanced up, curiosity rather than censure in her amused gaze. A winsome smile played around the edges of her soft, plump lips. “Are ye sniffin’ me, Broden?” He chuckled as they turned the corner leading to the top of the stairs. No sense in denying the obvious. “Aye, I am. Ye always smell amazin’.” His superior height gave him a delicious view of the tantalizing hills and valleys her bodice revealed. He was a lecher for taking advantage of it but, damn his eyes, if he could haul his attention away from the lush display.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m no’ laughin’ at ye. It just seems so ludicrous when a week ago, I wouldna have believed ye even aware I wore perfume.” Oh, he was aware. Too damned aware of everything about Kendra MacKay. That was the root of the problem. He couldn’t rid his consciousness of her. Even when he wasn’t with her. “Never mind. It isna important.” Broden felt a sheer fool. He, who had his choice of any number of women, couldn’t hold an intelligent conversation with the only woman that mattered. Her fingers tightened on his arm minutely, and she said, “If ye must ken, there is lemon in it. And camellia, along with the merest bit of juniper. That gives the fragrance a wee hint of mystery.” “A bit of adventure and sweetness and mystery. And zest,” Broden murmured low, finding the conversation oddly arousing. Did she dab the scent behind those delicate ears? Between her superbly ripe breasts? Inside her shapely elbows? Elsewhere? Lord, help him.

Desperate for a distraction, he said, “Yer fragrance contains lemon?” Those winged eyebrows of hers that so often pulled together in annoyance and scorn when in his presence, shied skyward, as a smile just this side of teasing, curved her mouth. “Are we truly havin’ a discussion about my perfume?” A giggle escaped her, and she clapped a palm over her mouth. He adored her laugh but was rarely gifted the chance to hear it. I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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C ATC H UP

CATCH UP WITH SALLY BRANDLE AND HER LATEST RELEASE IN THE LOVE THRIVES IN EMMA SPRINGS SERIES


|N A D IN E M IL L A R D Uncaged welcomes back Nadine Millard Uncaged: You have a box set with seven other authors releasing in May. Can you tell readers more about this set and your part in it? It was such a fun set to be involved in! They are a series of stories around May Day. Mine is called M a r r i e d B y M ay and it’s one of my all-time favourites. I laughed, cried, and everything in between when writing it so I hope my readers go on the same rollercoaster lol. And if people have read H e r A c c i de nt al G r om then they’ll definitely recognize Lady Beatrice Uncaged: What else are you working on that you can tell us about? I’m releasing P r ot e c t i ng t he P r i nc e s s on April 20th. It’s a standalone but readers have met Princess Harriet in The Hidden Prince. I cannot WAIT until people read this. The dynamic between the princess and her very reluctant guard was a blast to write and I think that comes across in the story Uncaged: Because of the COVID-19 virus, what is your promotional schedule looking like for 2020? Any plans that had to be changed? P r ot e c t i ng t he P r i nc e s s is releasing a month late, unfortunately! I have a high risk child here, and Ireland went into lockdown about two weeks before the States so we’ve been at a bit of a crisis point for a while now! It sort of threw everything into chaos. And my wonderful editor was then dealing with the fall out a couple of weeks after me! But we’re back on track, thank Goodness. It has set me a back a while but it’s also given me the chance to give back to readers a bit! Since everyone will be isolating, I’ve reduced my entire Saints & Sinners series to only 99c each, and I’m currently working with my publisher to have a couple of my books completely free! I think it’s great to see the author community try to give back a little and say thank you to everyone working on the frontline to help us out, all over the world. <3

N

adine Millard is a bestselling writer hailing from Dublin, Ireland.

When she’s not writing historical romance, she’s managing her chaotic household of three children, a husband and a very spoiled dog! She’s a big fan of coffee and wine with a good book and will often be found at her laptop at 2am when a book idea strikes.

nadi nemi l l ar d.com

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Enjoy an excerpt from P r ot ect i ng t h e P r i ncess

Protecting the Princess Nadine Millard Historical Romance P r i nc e s s H ar r i e t he r pa m pe r e d , pr w or s e t ha n t he gi ov e r pr ot e c t i v e nat pr i nc e . W he n t he pal ac e H ar r i e t t ak e s t he br anc h out on he r be t o l i v e n ot as a l ady ? H ar r i e t w ant s t o s he i s d e t e r m i ne d E s pe c i al l y no t a s om e s t r ange r.

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he r wo n t w o f e e t , a nd otn ih ng w i l l ge t i n eh r w ya . e e nc ount e r w i t h a ah nd -

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The last thing Jacob Lauer needs or wants to do is pl ay na ny t o a s poi l t pr i nc e s s . But that’s exactly what he finds himself having to do.

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F r om t he m om e nt he m e e t s he r , s he i s no t hi ng but t r o ub l e , and w hat s houl d hav e be e n an e as y as signment is turning out to be more difficult than he had ba r gai ne d f or . N ot l e as t be c aus e t he l onge r he s pe nds i n H ar riet’s company, the more difficult it is to hide his gr ow i ng at t r ac t i on t o t he y oung r oy al . T rh wo n t o ge t he r , t h e t i on, nda noya nca e A nd J ac ob ash t o w or hi s he ar t t o hi m s e l f w

r e i s on ed ny i ng t he at gr ow i ng eb t w e e n t he k har ed r t han e v e r to hi l e pr to e c t i ng t eh pr i nc

t r ac t w o. k e e p e ss

Excerpt “Let’s get you back to the cottage so I can look at your head. Then once you’ve eaten, we will need to think about our next steps because you are out 32 | UncagedBooks.com

of supplies already.” He watched her expression go from amused to bemused, to downright furious. The sparkle of humour in her eyes change to a glint of danger. And once more, those tell-tale hands planted themselves on her hips, which was quite the fete considering one of them held her belongings all bundled up in yesterday’s dress. “I beg your pardon?” Damn. He was in trouble again. He’d never clashed so frequently with another person in his life. Not even enemies he’d interrogated, or captors who’d interrogated him. “What?” he asked defensively. Perhaps even a little petulantly, he acknowledged. But only to himself. “I don’t need you checking my head or deciding when I should eat. Or what I should it. Or how I should eat.” Her voice grew shriller with every word, but he felt it best not to flinch at the tone. “And what will you do?” he asked, his own temper sparking to life. Never had he met a more infuriating female in his life. “Starve to death?” “Of course not,” she bit out before she suddenly took off, marching back toward the cottage. “Then what?” he demanded easily keeping pace with her shorter strides. “Because out here, you need my help and you’re getting it whether you want it or not.” They reached the cottage and Princess Harriet threw her bundle haphazardly on the bed before spinning to glower at him. “You can’t help me against my will. I forbid it,” she yelled. Jacob raised a brow. She needed to be more careful. Her princess was showing. “You forbid it?” he questioned and watched as her eyes widened. “Do you make a habit of ordering people around as though you had a right to, Miss Royal?” As he’d expected, she began to blush furiously at his goading. “No, of course not,” she tripped over the words, more flustered than he’d seen her thus far. “I just – I don’t appreciate your interference. But I know I can’t order people about. How silly.” Her laugh was as brittle as the fake smile she had plastered on her face.


|N A D IN E M IL L A R D The water on the fire began to spill over so Jacob rushed to remove it. Wordlessly, Harriet began to prepare tea. They worked together in silence for a moment or two then by unspoken consent, they both sat at the table. It was unusually intimate and domesticated, and Jacob wasn’t entirely happy about that. Clearing his throat, he determined to re-erect the border between the princess being a job, and being someone who was far too attractive for his peace of mind. “So, Miss Royal,” he watched as she poured tea, every inch the society lady. She should have looked out of place in such modest surroundings. Even without a crown she was the epitome of regal. Yet she seemed just as comfortable in a rundown cabin on a rickety chair as she was sure to be in a gilded hall on a golden throne. “How do you manage to survive out here then, if you refuse to let me help you, and you insist on staying hidden?” She blinked at him, her wide, chocolate eyes doing their best to affect him. But he was strong. He was a spy, for God’s sake. He could withstand a pair of eyes. She was quiet for a moment, nibbling distractedly on her bottom lip before she tilted her chin. “I’ll live off the land,” she sniffed, and Jacob had to work to keep a straight face.

days.” Her cheeks paled and he felt a momentary guilt at having been so harsh. But she needed to know that there were limits to what she could do. And it would make Jacob’s job a hell of a lot easier if the princess actually wanted him around. He thought back to last night, when he suspected she’d wanted him there. Perhaps if reason wouldn’t work, her own fears might. “I’ll go if you want me to, of course,” he kept his tone even as he cut a piece of cheese from his own modest portion. “I just hope nobody else finds you out here.”

He knew she’d be spitting mad if he allowed his grin to break free. “Live off the land,” he repeated. “How?” “Well, you know,” she stuttered. “I’ll fish and - and hunt, and-“ She cleared her throat nervously, looking less sure of herself with every passing second. “Forage for berries and such”. Jacob quirked a brow, earning one of her scowls. “I don’t know why I was worried”, he drawled sarcastically. “Clearly you’re an expert in all things survival.” That earned him an eye roll and a long-suffering sigh. “And I suppose you are?” she snapped. “I am, as it happens,” he answered. “And I know with absolutely certainty that if you go “foraging for berries” you don’t recognise, you’ll be dead within two I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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S A m A N T h A S T. C L A I R E


S

amantha St. Claire divides her time between her homes in Idaho and the Olympic Peninsula. Traveling along the old Oregon trail provides her with the wild landscapes and historic inspiration for this exciting new series, The Sawtooth Range. Her own pioneer roots have stirred her interest in the early settlements of Idaho and Montana. Sign up for Samantha’s Newsletter for early notifications of new releases and interesting news relevant to readers of historical fiction.

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Uncaged welcomes Samantha St. Claire Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest release, A Portrait of Dawn will release April 8th. Can you tell readers more about the book and the series, The Sawtooth Range? The Sawtooth Range Series has evolved from a western stand-alone of a woman frontier doctor to a family saga. Comes the Winter is a traditional romance introducing Lena Sommer and Evan Hartmann who complement each other, becoming the characters who now anchor the series. In Redeeming Lies, the Hartmann’s purchase their ranch north of what is now known as Sun Valley, Idaho. A Portrait of Dawn takes place one year later when the Hartmann’s welcome their first guests. My intention with the series is to continue to build an ensemble cast where guests come to the stunning beauty of the Big Wood River and the magnificent

Sawtooth Range to fall in love under the magic of the landscape. Additionally, I will continue to introduce historical figures who appear in cameo roles, hopefully anchoring the stories in time and real place. Uncaged: You are very passionate about researching the western history of the U.S. and readers can go to your blog to read up on some of that research. Is your love for the western history what inspired you to write? I’ve been writing stories since I entered Dick and Jane’s storied world in first grade – great characters – flat plots. My interest in western history sparked when I moved after college graduation to take a teaching position in Arizona. Weekend hikes through the desert washes and wild mountains allowed my imagination to run free. It was also the first time I hiked packing a six-gun, because rumors of crusty, protective prospectors abounded in the Superstition Mountains. It was a transformational time for a girl raised between corn fields in the flat farmlands of the Midwest. Later, as I traveled through Idaho and Oregon along the iconic pioneer trail, my fate was sealed as a western writer. Landscapes inspire my writing spirit. The pistol I carried in Arizona was stolen, but my son replaced it with a lever-action rifle with my name engraved on the stock. What a great gift! Uncaged: What are you working on now that you can tell us about? Another intriguing setting is the Washington state San Juan Archipelago. The islands between British Columbia and the U.S. share a long history of smuggling, of both humans and goods. A Light from Friday Harbor is set in the prohibition years and is part mystery and part love story. I’m currently writing the sequel set in 1939 as England stands on the brink of war with Germany. While some hold onto the fading hope of a negotiated peace, the reality soon makes clear to all that war is inevitable. It’s the theme of the novel. Conflict and seasons of life take us to places we’d rather not travel. Ultimately, it is I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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the story of acceptance and resilience. The Wisdom of Songbirds should be complete by the end of 2020. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? It would have been a great honor to share a cup of coffee and conversation with Madeleine L’Engle. Aside from her landmark fantasies for young adults, she penned a number of books on the writing life. She speaks to the issue of author labels. Like Ms. L’Engle, I consider myself a Christian that writes fiction. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? My novels are carefully plotted before I write the first word. Character arcs are created. Plot points carefully noted. But when it comes to writing a scene, I know where I need to have my character land on the final sentence, but sometimes they take a circuitous path. Some call this discovery writing. I think it’s what keeps the writing fresh and unpredictable. While it may appear a maze, I know the

path to the escape door. Sometimes, I have to drag a character there. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? For relaxation, one can’t beat a hot bath with bubbles. But maybe that’s TMI. I love to walk along the beach, a short distance from our house at the edge of the Salish Sea. The sea has an ability to drown out distractions and allow the character voices to begin their dialogs. I’ve had whole scenes write themselves when I’m far from my computer. It can be a bit frustrating. Gardening is another great outlet. I’m not a vegetable gardener since I’ve failed so miserably, feeding the bugs more than my family, but I do like effortless wildflowers and peonies. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? Although my tablet is full of eBooks, I find a physical copy so much more satisfying to read. There is a sense of responsibility to complete a book I hold in my hands, a kind of commitment that I feel to it. EBooks just don’t seem to come with a call to relationship. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I would love to hear more from fans. I’d like to hear what they like about the stories and characters. For months, I live with these characters talking to me. So, I love it when a reviewer makes comments that show me the characters have become real to them, people they’d like to sit with and share a pot of tea. Readers can connect with me through my website: samanthastclaire.com or message me on FaceBook or Instagram. They can also find Pinterest boards for Samantha and the books by title.

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Enjoy an excerpt from A P or t r ai t of D aw n A Portrait of Dawn Samantha St. Claire Historical Western Romance D aw

n’ s f ut ur e l om s be f or e he r l i k e a bl ank c anv as , and onl y t hr ough t he ar t i s t ’ s e y e s w i l l s he see her true self and find t he c our age t o pai nt t he first stroke. I t ’ s 1890 a nd I daho T e r r it or y i s c e l e br at i ng s t at e hod. T he e v e nt w i l l dr aw t w o i ndi v i dual s w ho, l ik e the new state, must redefine and prove themselves. While the artist, Luke Brennan, is captivated by D aw n F ai r bur n’ s be w i t c hi ng, j ade - gr e e n e y e s and br i l l i ant m i nd, t he w or l d c har ac t e r i z e s he r as l e s s t han an ac c e pt abl e m od e l of w om anl y pe r f e c t i on. B ot h ar e l ac k i ng i n s oc i e t y ’ s e s t i m at i on, he f or hi s I r i s h he r i t age and s he f or he r de f or m e d l e g, but to gether they may prove them all wrong. Like the new s t at e , t he i r c om bi ne d s t r e ngt hs w i l l gi v e t he m t he c our age t o s t e p i nt o t he w i l de r ne s s of t he i r unc e r t ai n f ut ur e . Excerpt Unbridled Imaginations “ T h e rg e at e s t t hi ng a h um an be i ng e v e r oed s i n t hi s w or l d i s t o s e e s om e t hi ng . . . t o s e e c l e ar l y i s poe t r y , pr o phe c y , a r e l i ig on al l i n one .” J ohn R us k i n JUNE 24, 1890 For a future yet to be written, an unbridled imagination is a dangerous thing. Although Dawn held to such philosophical convictions, as she turned to her slumbering father sitting beside her, she allowed herself to travel that treacherous path leading her thoughts to notions of what might be.

|S A M A N T H A S T .C L A IR E | Even in sleep, with his chin nodding gently against his chest in easy rhythm to the rocking motion of the train, he looked dignified and even . . . presidential. Dawn smiled to herself, pleased by the notion. She considered her father’s pleasing features, his strong, square jaw, the touches of gray giving him that suggestion of experience and wisdom that could build confidence in his constituents. She pressed her lips together and lifted one eyebrow a slight degree higher than the other. Why not? Her skin prickled at the image. If he could go from legal counsel to the next U.S. Senator for New York, why not President? And she would be the one to help put him there. Dawn shifted in her seat, frowning. Mr. Pullman’s train cars were a definite improvement from those wooden seats of early years when she and her father traveled from New York to Washington. But comfortable, they were not. She envied his ability to fall asleep so effortlessly—the benefits of a man with a clean conscience. She reached down to retrieve her father’s brochure from the floor, the one he’d read to her with such enthusiasm moments before he’d fallen asleep. Now, with the campaign before him, why did he insist on this trip into Idaho Territory? They needed to be planning, not traipsing off to the frontier for . . . Reading the advertisement again, she felt a scowl pinch her brow. Come to the Hartmann Ranch where you can experience the frontier ranching life. As the train rounded a bend, the view from her window shifted to the east, the direction from which they’d been traveling since yesterday morning. Streaks of palest yellow heralded the break of day. It should have cheered her as it usually did, but unlike her usual day of ordered routine, this one held too many uncertainties. She looked down at the twisted brochure still gripped in her hands. The word adventure peeked between her fingers. It wasn’t a word that often appeared in her vocabulary. Adventure conjured up images of safari hunters in wild, foreign lands. Dawn lowered her head to her father’s shoulder, breathing in the familiar scent of his pipe tobacco and starched collar. How could she ever remain I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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impatient with him? With a skill she’d honed since earliest childhood, she focused her thoughts on this moment. In this moment, she was blissfully content. Tomorrow was yet to be. With luck, she would see the adventures only from the windows of a rolling train. From the train window, the indistinct reflection appraised the serious young woman with green eyes. Dawn had been told often enough they were the same shade that made her mother so attractive. But unlike her mother, Dawn lacked the golden locks. Her brown hair favored her father’s, as did the firm line of her jaw. And like her father, her thoughts rarely strayed from her duty to support and serve. *** Luke Brennan sat as rigid as the straight-backed chair, prepared for the worst, as his employer squinted at him through a dense cloud of cigar smoke. The barrel-chested man behind the desk pursed his lips as he studied Luke’s most recent drawing. “It isn’t the quality of your illustrations, Luke.” Luke tried to interpret the editor’s tight, expression, uncertain whether the man was commiserating or experiencing another bout of chronic indigestion. He suspected the latter. Empathy was not among Mr. Carrington’s virtues. The older man leaned back and shoved the cigar between his lips, taking one long draw and puffing another fetid cloud in Luke’s direction. “It’s business, purely business. The St. Louis-Dispatch is foremost designed to make money for our publisher, Mr. Pulitzer.” He waved his hand, and the cigar sent a thin smoky trail, spiraling to the ceiling. Luke imagined how he’d capture smoke with his pen. Of course, he’d need to consider the limitations of the engravers. Luke followed the ribbon of smoke curling back upon itself and watched it transform in width as it drifted to the ceiling. “Luke, are you listening to me?” The editor leaned forward, resting his arms on the edge of his desk, a scowl lining his brow. Luke cleared his throat and brought his gaze back to the man. 38 | UncagedBooks.com

Apparently satisfied, the editor continued, “It’s a problem of speed. You submit half as many illustrations as everyone else on my staff.” His lip lifted into a sardonic smile. “Personally, I like your work. You have an eye for humor, like the drawing you made of the governor last month—the one where the woman’s hat is covering his lip.” He demonstrated with his cigar, posing with it close to his upper lip. “Looked like he was wearing the peacock feather right there! Brilliant!” “Are you giving me notice?” “What? No! You’re good. I just wish you could turn yourself into a photographer. As soon as we can figure out how to print the darn things cheaper and faster, no paper will waste time with illustrations. As much as our noble publisher would like to kick us into the twentieth century, we aren’t ready. But the writing is on the wall, so to speak, or should I say in the typeset? Or should I say, engraving?” He cackled at his own poor attempt at humor. “Illustrations will soon be passé. We are moving into the modern era of photographic journalism, at least that’s the term they’re using in the windowed offices down the hall.” Luke had yet to understand fully his tenuous position, and his patience was growing thin. “Are you telling me I’m not covering Idaho’s statehood?” The editor tapped ash into his coffee cup. He pursed his lips. “Yes, and no.” “Sir?” “I’m still sending you to Idaho, but not to the capitol. We’ll be assigning someone else for the bigger event. All the political posturing will happen in Boise City or. . .” He glanced at the paper on his desk. “a town called Hailey. I want you to go to Ketchum to capture the—let’s call it, the more prosaic side of the occasion.” Luke imagined this Ketchum would be less a city and more fitting to a setting for some Western dime novel, filled with saloons and drunken miners. If he was lucky, maybe he’d see his first street shootout. His mood made a radical shift. Perhaps, this wouldn’t be so bad. He’d have a chance to encounter some real wildlife, the bison, the antelope or even the bears he’d only seen in zoos. “We have some patrons who are investors in the Philadelphia Smelter in Ketchum. They’ll be attending


|S A M A N T H A S T .C L A IR E | the celebration.” The editor interrupted these positive thoughts with the realities of his assignment. “You might do well to figure them prominently into any illustration you make for the paper.” A cunning smile inched across his face. “I’m certain that our financial department would be appreciative.” “I see.” “Good!” The big man waved a hand to the door. “Miss Turner has your train tickets for you. Oh, and I’ve arranged accommodations for you at a place called the Hartmann Guest Ranch. Seems some couple has opened their ranch for people interested in—” He picked up the same paper from his desk. “Experiencing the frontier.” He raised a bushy eyebrow. “Can’t imagine why anyone would want to. But see if you can ferret out a good story without getting scalped.” He let out a loud guffaw, adding, “Although, that would make a topnotch story.” When the man stuck his cigar back between tight lips and began shuffling through the mess of papers on his desk, Luke assumed he was being dismissed. He left the office feeling more hopeful than he thought he’d be when walking through the door minutes earlier. The wild western frontier, a ranch, and real adventure might be just what he needed. His excitement tempered as he glumly realized that it might also be his last assignment. *** With Elena Hartmann’s straight brown hair and brown eyes and Jessie Long’s freckled nose and strawberry blond curls, no one would have mistaken them for sisters, but Jessie was the closest Lena had ever come to having one. Besides the sharp contrast in their appearance, they were even further dissimilar in personality. Jessie was always the impulsive big-hearted optimist while Lena remained the cautious, reserved introvert. Being brought together through adversity had forged a bond that nothing in four years could weaken. Lena scanned the telegram a second time before handing it to Jessie. “It’s a good start. Four guests will give us a good opportunity to see if we’re ready to become innkeepers.” She folded her arms, tapping one nervous finger against her forearm. “From what I can determine, only Mr. Fairburn has expressed an interest in hunting or fishing, so that shouldn’t tax

Evan’s time with the normal ranch operations. I’m wondering what we’ll find to entertain the others.” Jessie nodded in a slow, thoughtful manner. “Evan and Bart can easily take turns escorting the gentlemen and teaching them things about ranching and such.” She folded the telegram and returned it to Lena. Her eyes sparkling, she added, “I’ve already planned menus for a week. We’ll have a new breakfast pastry every morning.” She ticked off the days on her fingers. “Monday—popovers. Tuesday—cinnamon rolls. Wednesday—spiced muffins. Thursday—apple pandowdy. Friday— currant scones. Saturday—fritters. Sunday we’ll serve leftovers.” Lena lifted an eyebrow by a skeptical degree. “That’s something we may need to discuss, Jessie. Your twins aren’t even a year old. I’m afraid your plans might be a little too ambitious.” Looking more like a petulant child and less like a mother with two children, Jessie wrinkled her nose. She opened her mouth to respond when a crash brought both women swinging heads to the kitchen door. Another thud and Jessie started saying, “Oh, bother! Bart is supposed to be watching them.” Jessie passed Evan coming from the kitchen. Evan grinned and said, “Your husband looks like he could use your help.” From the kitchen came a pair of gleeful squeals along with Jessie’s dismayed voice. “Oh Lord, have mercy.” Evan chuckled as he crossed the room, sweeping Lena into his arms. “Never boring with those two. Good thing she has you around to help.” “You mean, those three. I’d put Jessie in the same grouping.” He kissed her, not the chaste peck of a greeting, but a warm resounding kiss on the lips. Then he asked, “How was your afternoon?” Lena rested her cheek against his chest, breathing in the earthy scent of horses and cedar. “The bedrooms are ready for our guests and I’ve closed all the doors to keep them that way.” She looked up. “I missed you.” “Only been gone one night.” He stroked her back and rested his chin upon her head. “Are you all I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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right?” He always knew, could read every subtle shift of her mood. Empathy for others had attracted her to him four years ago when they’d first met in Sawtooth City. His boundless compassion, as he’d expressed it for others, had nearly stifled their budding romance before it blossomed. Those misunderstandings no longer mattered. But this ache, this sense of longing, she must never speak into words. “I’m just glad you’re back.” She unraveled herself from his arms. “We have two more guests arriving this month, that makes four in all. Edward Fairburn and his daughter are coming.” “Seems the good Lord might be smiling on your dream.” “Our dream,” she corrected. “Our dream.” He took her hand and started for his favorite chair near the fireplace, but pulled up short when Lena cleared her throat. He followed her gaze to his muddy boots and the layer of trail dust covering his pants. “Sorry. Guess I shouldn’t. “No, you should not.” She laughed at the boyish look of chagrin on his face. “Come on out to the porch. You can tell me about the ranching half of our enterprise and take my mind off the guesting side.” “You mean you want to hear about how your shrewd husband sweet-talked Nate Gallagher out of that bay stallion?” Lena spun to face him. “You didn’t?” “I did.” His mischievous grin told her there was more to the story. He took her hand again and led the way to the porch railing where the view of their long valley stretched west to the Big Wood River. “And would you be surprised to know how I got him to throw in that pair of pintos you’ve been adoring for the past year?” Lena covered her mouth as she let out a cry. “Oh, Evan, did you really? The little mare?” His lips curved into a teasing grin, his eyes sparkling. “And the stallion.” She threw herself into his arms again. “You dear man.” Evan breathed into her hair, “There’s nothing too good for you, my sweet lady.” 40 | UncagedBooks.com

Even as she accepted his love with an open heart, she marveled at his words. He stood, offering all he was to her, a good man who had seen something within her worth cherishing. Had she continued to think herself unlovable and refused him, she would have never known this contentment. What more could she desire? The open range land rolling down to the river belonged to them now, and it’d been hard earned, making it all the sweeter. As happy as she was in this moment, a nudge of worry kept her from savoring it. What if her gambit failed? What if all those articles she’d read about the numbers of people heading west from the cities searching for frontier tours had been exaggerated? All they’d invested could be lost. Was her dream too ambitious? Evan stroked the side of her neck with his thumb. “Stop worrying.” “You know me too well.” “Yes, I do.” “What if the dream has been too risky? All your money saved for the ranch . . . the profits from your mine. . .” He lay his finger beneath her chin and lifted her face to his. “It’s our dream, Lena. It’s always been our dream.” *** Luke’s hand moved rapidly across the white paper, his slender fingers, dusted black, capturing life with swift sure strokes. The thin charcoal stick snapped in his grip as the train hit a rough section of track. An ugly smudge spoiled the drawing. Luke tucked the smaller piece into his jacket pocket and pulled out a handkerchief as soiled and gray as his fingers. He dabbed at the corner of his sketch, where he’d drawn the child’s fingers burrowed beneath the kitten’s fur. A few more strokes with the broken edge of his charcoal and fine strands of sketched hair covered his mistake. He looked up again, and studied the child’s face in profile. Her eyes reflected an old soul, but her thin arms and round face made her youth clear to any casual observer. How did he translate that dichotomy to paper? How did he truly communicate her essence? He’d seen the work of artists who had mastered such skills, but he had yet to see it realized in his own work. “May I see?” The child peered curiously at him from across the aisle.


|S A M A N T H A S T .C L A IR E | Luke caught and held her round curious eyes—too serious for one so young. The kitten in her lap stirred awake while the older woman beside the child slept on. He passed the sketch pad across the aisle. The child studied it for a time, then looked up, a frown drawing her thin brows together. “It’s very nice, but my kitten is white.” Her lips pursed as she lowered her gaze to the drawing once again. “But I suppose one could not expect much else if one was drawing only with charcoal.” “I would suppose you are correct, Miss.” Luke glanced down to conceal his amusement. Critics abounded, and he’d heard from his share over these past years as an illustrator for the St. Louis-Dispatch. From newspaper patrons to editors, he’d received both praise and condemnation. For the most part, he’d come to accept them both with equal detachment. Besides, he was his own worst critic. She handed the pad back to Luke, a polite smile briefly lifting her countenance. “You are an artist.” Luke hitched one shoulder. “I imagine you’ve drawn some pictures. Have you made any of your kitten?” The child’s face grew somber, almost grave. “My grandmother says drawing is idle child’s play and I should give up childish ways and learn to behave like a lady.” Her answer took Luke aback. A question seemed the better response. “And is that what you think as well?” She dropped her gaze to the kitten, wiggling her fingers behind its ear. “Grandmother says it is.” Softer, she added, “You see, Grandmother is always right.” Who was he to refute the child’s dutiful conviction? “Ah, yes. I see.” He closed his pad and slipped it into his leather satchel, then seeing the girl returning to her lady-like composure, he turned his face to the darkened window. A ghostly reflection of his own features superimposed itself onto the rolling landscape beyond the glass. The blue eyes staring back were like those of his mother. The one time he’d tried to paint her, he’d used a mixture of Prussian blue and aquamarine, never finding the distinct hue. He brushed a hand through his unruly brown locks, then ran it down his cheek bristly with a day’s growth of whiskers and frowned. As usual, he looked older than his twenty-three years. He always had and he

blamed it on the annoying fact that he’d been shaving for over five of those years, a hereditary gift from his Irish father whose face Luke had never once seen free of whiskers except for the day they laid him out in his casket. With pale clean cheeks and his thin body clothed in a borrowed suit, he’d looked a stranger. Why his mother would have ever said that Luke would one day steal the hearts of young ladies remained a mystery. He certainly hadn’t, but, when he was honest with himself, neither had he tried. Responsibilities to his family left no room in his life for a wife. At least, that had been true until four months ago when his mother had passed. But habits aren’t quickly altered. He threw a glance at the child, now cooing softly to her kitten. Her childhood would probably fade as quickly as the first blush of sunrise if her grandmother had her way. Responsibilities had a way of doing that. In the child’s case, he wondered if the needs of the grandmother had superseded those of the child to remain a child for a little longer. Under the ambient light of a nearly full moon, Luke could just discern a flat landscape stretching into the moon shadows cast by a distant mountain range. The terrain was so unlike the cityscapes he’d lived in for all his life. He felt a shiver of excitement course through him. Here in this vast and sprawling landscape he’d find subjects to fill the blank pages of his sketch books, the wild, the living wonders he’d long dreamed of seeing with his own eyes. He checked himself, because he had an assignment to complete if he wanted to keep earning a living, even if it was for a job as unsatisfying as illustrating the news. But the concern nagged at him; would even his best be enough? Worry never put food on the table nor coins in your pocket. Only hard work and a firm determination had the power to do either. Those were the words his mother had lived and died by. He pulled his collar close to his neck and sat back, as the train rocked him into an uneasy sleep.

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S t ay C onnec t ed

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uget Sound based writer, Sara Ohlin is a mom, wannabe photographer, obsessive reader, ridiculous foodie, and the author of the contemporary romance novels, Handling the Rancher, Salvaging Love, and Seducing the Dragonfly.

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She has over fifteen years of creative non-fiction and memoir writing experience, and you can find her essays at Anderbo.com, Feminine Collective, Mothers Always Write, Her View from Home, Under the Gum Tree, and in anthologies such as Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Healthcare in America, Take Care: Tales, Tips, & Love from Women Caregivers, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Although she’s the author of many essays about life, grief, motherhood and the connections we make through delicious food and shared meals, Sara loves creating imaginary worlds with tight-knit communities in her romance novels. She credits her mother, Mary, Nora Roberts and Rosamunde Pilcher for her love of romance. If she’s not reading or writing, you will most likely find her in the kitchen creating scrumptious meals with her two kids and amazing husband, or perhaps cooking up her next love story. She once met a person who both “didn’t read books” and wasn’t “that into food” and it nearly broke her heart. 44 | UncagedBooks.com

SARA OhLIN Welcome Sara Ohlin Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest book, Seducing the Dragonfly is the second book in the Graciella series. Can you tell readers more about this series? This series takes place in Graciella, a fictional town on Oregon’s rugged, but gorgeous coast. The first three books center around the Brockman Brothers, Cruz, Turner and Adam. They were raised by a cruel patriarch, T.D. Brockman who has recently died (in Book 1, Handling the Rancher). The brothers have to bring their family farm back from the despair and neglect it suffered under T.D.’s ownership. But they also have to heal their hearts from the abuse and neglect they suffered under T.D.’s hands. Each one meets his match in a successful, intelligent and sexy lady. I try to write books in beautiful, imaginary locations with loyal friendships, community and food, lots of great food! Uncaged: How does your writing process work? Do you plot out your novels for the main scenes beforehand, or are you more of a panster? I am such a pantser!! I hate outlining with a passion. Usually I see images in my head before I’ve written the


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book. Images of the two characters meeting, or the beginning of the book and I go from there. I excel at insomnia, so I often imagine scenes and plot the stories in my head in the middle of the night. My characters and their issues keep me company while everyone else in my house sleeps. During the day, as soon as my kids leave for school, I get to work writing. When I’m working on a manuscript I try to put in 4-6 hours a day during the week on it. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I just submitted Book 2 in my Rescue Me series for review with my editor at Totally Bound. And I’m starting Book 3 in the Graciella Series, Adam’s story. At the time of answering these questions (March12-16th, 2020) all our schools have just closed for at least six weeks, restaurants have closed, and large gatherings/events are all closed due to the Corona virus. So I’m planning on writing more essays and food related blog posts because they bring me comfort and I love connecting with people through food and writing. Uncaged: Have you attended any in-person signing events? If not, is that something you would enjoy doing? When my first book came out, Handling the Rancher (Graciella Book #1) I had a book party and signing event which was a blast!!! I haven’t done any at bookstores or other events, but I would love to!

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Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Oh my gosh there are so many! I’d love to have tea and scones with Rosamunde Pilcher. She is one of my favorite authors who passed away in 2019. And I’d love to bask in the amazingness of Nalini Singh because I think she one of the most amazing romance writers ever. Both of these female authors have such different styles, but both make me feel like I am right there in the scene experiencing all the senses and emotions. Brilliant. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Actually, I didn’t intend for Lily, in Seducing the Drag-


onfly to keep running away from her feelings, literally and figuratively, but she kept getting freaked out by her thoughts that her love for Turner was so much greater than his love for her. It totally smothered the external conflict I had originally planned for that book, so I took Lily’s path instead. Some readers haven’t liked that about her at all. Which I totally get, because not every book is for every person. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I love to bake and cook when I finish a particularly grueling manuscript or edit, especially cooking. Being creative in the kitchen and feeding people I love with delicious food is one of my favorite things to do. I also read like crazy and am stupidly obsessed with HGTV

|S A R A O H L IN | Meghan Quinn and Samantha Whiskey’s Carolina Reapers Hockey Romance Series. I’m also reading (and making) Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, by Brad Thomas Parsons. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? You can follow me on my website at www.saraohlin.com, on Twitter @SaraOhlin222 or on Facebook at Facebook.com/saraohlinwriter.

Enjoy an excerpt from Seducing the Dragonfly Seducing the Dragonfly Sara Ohlin Contemporary Romance C na an i nde pe nde nt , s uc c e s s f ul de s i gne r l e ar n t o t r us t he r he ar t w i t h t he one m an w ho c r us he d i t t w e l v e y e ar s ago? R e t ur ni ng hom e t o t he O r e gon t ow n o f G r ac i e l l a af t e r t w e l v e y e ar s aw ay , i nt e r nat i onal r e al - e s t at e gur u T ur ne r B r oc k m an i nt e nds t o m ak e am e nd s f or hav i ng di s ape ar e d, t he n v ani s h agi n. H e di dn’ t plan on meeting a figure from the past he tried to escape—beautiful Lily Moreno, now all grown up and the independent creative owner of Dragonfly D e s i gn & C ons t r uc t i on. Lily never expected to see Turner again and she’s de t e r m i ne d t o hi de t he l ov e s he ’ s f e l t f or hi m s i nc e s he w as a gi r l , w he n he c r us he d he r he ar t and k i l l e d he r t r us t i n m e n. C r e at i ng and ow ni ng t he t op c ons t r uc t i on c om pany on t he W e s t C oas t and being there for her friends and family are Lily’s onl y de s i r e s now . E x c e pt … t he r e ’ s an i n t e ns e c he m i s t r y be t w e e n he r and T ur ne r , one s he gi v e s i n t o, onl y t o har de n he r he ar t af t e r e v e r y e n c oun I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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te r. W e l c om e d bac k i nt o t he be aut y of G r ac i e l l a and t he f am i l y f ar m w i t h l ov i n g ope n ar m s , T ur n e r falls quickly for Lily, but faces his greatest challenge yet—seducing Lily into trusting him compl e t e l y . W i l l hi s i nt e ns e l ov e , pat i e nc e and god ol d- f as hi one d w oi ng be e nough t o c ap t ur e hi s dragonfly’s heart? Excerpt Lily snaked her truck through the construction signs and orange barrels from the road crew that was working on Main Street during the week and parked at an angle that would make getting the long boards of wood out of her truck and straight into the theater easier. Lily put her earbuds in, cranked up Brandi Carlile and got to work. Brandi was in the middle of an angsty love song when the two by fours Lily carried over her shoulder smacked against something behind her. “Holy hell!” she swore as the impact jarred her. When she turned to inspect what had gotten in her way, her heart flipped over. Not something, someone. No. No. No! It can’t be. Not here. Not now. Not ever. She slammed the wood to the ground and sucked in a breath. Turner Brockman in the flesh. Lily ripped out her earbuds, her music replaced with a shadow from the past. “I’ll second that,” he said, rubbing his shoulder. She followed the motion of his arm. She’d smacked him with her two by fours. Appropriate. His voice was deeper, but, even with his pissy tone, she’d recognize the sound anywhere. “I didn’t see you…” No one’s seen you in twelve years. Her heart hovered and fluttered in recognition. Oh, no you don’t, you traitor. We do not love him anymore. “See me? What about hear me?” he said, his voice edged with cold annoyance. “You left your truck blocking the road. I honked at you, twice. What kind of an idiot leaves his truck in the middle of the street full of lumber in broad daylight?” Lily’s shock and surprise flipped over into anger. Idiot? Honked at me? ‘His’ truck? Oh, hell no! 48 | UncagedBooks.com

She wasn’t prepared for his return. She’d told herself he never would. It was the only way to exist, to move on once she’d picked up the shattered pieces of her young heart. Oh, how naïve she’d been. Thank goodness she’d grown up. He stood there lecturing and thinking she was a man. Why had she ever fallen for him? Jesus, he didn’t even recognize her. She’d often wondered what kind of an impression she’d made on him. Now she knew—absolutely none. The jerk he’d been as a teenager seemed to have exploded into its full identity. And he was in her face. Great! Just fricking great! She turned and stalked outside. Just who’s the idiot? She made it to her truck and could hear Turner yelling after her. She dug in the bed of her pickup for her toolbox and tried to regulate her breathing. Seeing Turner had knocked it loose and it skimmed and fizzed out of control, like scrambling to find breath after diving into freezing water. Turner Duke Brockman, middle and favored of the three Brockman sons. The one who’d been gone for over a decade now. She should know—she’d never forgotten the day he left, or everything that had happened before he’d deserted them all. Or how much she’d loved him once. Her first love, so much more than a crush, and it had taken her years to get over him. But she had gotten over her feelings. Or, rather, shoved them to the pit of her stomach, where they could stay hidden, burning in acid.


showcase Isobel Blackthorn The Legacy of Old Gran Parks The Legacy of Old Gran Parks Isobel Blackthorn Horror Suspense Sout

he r n A us t r al i a, 1983. W hi l e M i dl e age d s t al w ar t M i r i am r ol l s i nt o t ow n i n he br ok e n dow n c ar , F r ank i e - a de e r hunt - i s up i n t he f or e s t e hi nt e r l and w i t h he r -

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r e r gun.

Meanwhile, fisherwoman Old Pearl sits on her f r o nt de c k w i t h he r dog, a gl as s of w hi s k e y i n he r ha nd, and E m i l y , t he E ngl i s h bac k pa c k e r , s c r ub s out t he pi e - e nc r us t e d k i t c he n at t he r oad hous e .

Excerpt I didn’t see it at first. The intersection was staggered so the two arms, north-south and east-west, didn’t quite align. Not that I was thinking in symbols back then. That came later. It came with an awareness that crossroads are meeting places, drawing in forces from all four directions, for better, for worse. Although, that particular intersection didn’t seem to want to be a crossroads. Then again, maybe it did. Best not to overthink things. I do know crossroads are places where decisions are made for you and crossroads are not places to get stuck in. My stay in Cann River taught me that. My car rolled into town about six. At that time of 50 | UncagedBooks.com

year—it was autumn—the light of the day had begun to give way to the darkness. I’d been driving all afternoon, and I was on a downhill stretch of road coming in from the west. Didn’t notice the lack of power until I’d reached the bridge and saw the scattered buildings of the town up ahead. It was then, as the road flattened out, that I realised something was wrong. I depressed the clutch and changed down, touched the accelerator and nothing happened. I felt that rippling in my belly, a sensation I refused to give in to. I had to be practical, rational, calm. Things worked out better when people stayed calm. It felt like good luck when I saw the roadhouse coming into view on my right, lit up in anticipation of the night. I depressed the clutch again and coasted towards it. Hoping to park out of the way, I jerked the steering wheel as the tyres hit the concrete driveway, coming to a full stop on the forecourt a bit shy of the bowsers. I pulled the keys from the ignition, thinking with relief I’d been saved. As if some guardian angel up there in the heavens was looking down on me, kindly. In the moment, it was a reasonable thing to think. Had my car packed up a mile back, I’d have been forced to spend the night at the roadside on one of the loneliest stretches of uninhabited forest that corner of the world had to offer. Not a nice place for a single woman to find herself. People have been murdered out there. Bushwhacked, disappearing without a trace. Besides, my belly was empty, and I had no food in the car. My mouth was dry, and I nursed one mother of a headache too, after my send off the night before. All the way from Cockatoo, that send-off had felt like punishment. I convinced myself my workmates had bought the cheapest grog known to woman or beast, and that it just about summed up their view of me. A sort of alcoholic good riddance. Or maybe they were jealous. After all, I was relocating up the coast. Set to take possession of a neat cottage in open country after taking early retirement from a position in local government. I’d had enough of the office lifestyle and thought to try my hand at something else. Besides, my house had burned down in the catastrophic wild fires of February 1983—Ash Wednesday, as they were calling the conflagration and, unlike some, I wasn’t going to rebuild.


That was all behind me and I was looking ahead to the east in anticipation of a fresh start. Sun rising over sapphire waters. Rolling green country and cows. The village fair. I thought maybe I’d join the historical society. They were bound to have one. I was brimming with speculation and optimism. I couldn’t get there soon enough. Cann River was halfway from where I’d come to where I was heading. Halfway to paradise. The horror firmly behind me. Even as I entered the roadhouse, taking in at a glance the young man seated by a window to my left, his multicoloured beanie failing to obscure his scarred brow, I had a sinking sense that my optimism was premature. On the jukebox, Joan Baez was busy lamenting poor old Dixie. Misgivings reared, and it was as though the carnage back in Cockatoo had followed me all the way along the highway, trailing behind me like a wraith. I shook away my thoughts and approached the counter. The woman cleaning the pie warmer looked personable enough. Although she had her back to me, I thought she might have been a kindred soul. She seemed about my age and same in height and build. I thought it funny how women over fifty all ended up looking the same. Well, maybe on the surface. She wore her hair scooped up high on her head and as she turned, I saw the fingers of grey pinned back from her face. She’d painted her eyebrows—they were overly arched—and caked on the makeup, yet her cheeks still creased when she offered me a smile, waiting, hands on hips. ‘What you want?’ ‘My car has died on me,’ I said by way of explanation. She eyed me with cool hostility. Any hope I had of conviviality withered. ‘My car has died on me,’ I repeated, deciding, despite my rumbling belly, that if she expected me to order, she had another think coming. ‘That it, there.’ She indicated with a tilt of her head and I followed her gaze back to my steel-grey hatchback, angled awkwardly, its rear jutting out, obstructing the exit. ‘It isn’t in the way, I hope.’ ‘I get Con to shift it.’

Her accent was thick. I couldn’t place it. Italian? I detected a twang. Eastern Europe, maybe. Somewhere like Romania. She held out her hand. I gave her my keys and she disappeared. I shifted round a fraction and surveyed the roadhouse interior, avoiding looking in the direction of the scarfaced man. Set alongside the long run of casement windows were tables of lurid orange Formica with matching chairs. The sort of colour that showed every blemish. The floor was covered in cheap grey patterned linoleum, worn and chipped about the entrance. The counter, with its display cabinets and vintage till, protruded into the space. In one cabinet were the remains after the day’s trade: two sandwiches—egg mayo, and ham and salad —and an otherwise lonely Kitchener bun. I hadn’t seen one of those since the weekend I spent in Adelaide several years back. It looked odd and out of place and homemade. On a menu board, propped on a high shelf behind the counter, were listed hamburgers with the lot and chips, written in neat lettering. Beneath, written in large, clumsy letters by someone who couldn’t spell, was a small range of gourmet pies: Venisen, Hunta and Stake. I thought maybe there was a good cook in residence, for those pies were obviously not bought in. Besides, almost no one deviated from the traditional meat pie, not even in the city. Meat slurry they were normally, with tomato sauce squirted in the crust vent. The woman reappeared behind the counter. ‘He’s moving it into the garage.’ I looked around to see a burly-looking man heading past the bowsers to my car. He had on the navy-blue overalls of a mechanic. I noticed a slight limp in his gait. He opened the driver’s side door and reached in to release the handbrake and disengage the gears. Then he went around and leaned back against the rear bumper. Once the car was moving, he hurried back and took hold of the steering wheel. There was a brief pause in which I admired his strength. I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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LAURYN DYAN & Lexy

This is Lexy. My Brittany Spaniel that started out as a cuddly poof ball, then morphed into a hyperactive tornado, before settling into my faithful shadow. I can always count on her to keep me company while I write as everyone else sleeps, and to lift her head with interest when I mumble my author frustrations.

MEG LELVIS & Robby Our German Shepherd, Robby, is 11 years old and has been a part of the family for 8 years. We adopted him from a rescue league in Houston, and he’s really a sweet boy in the house. He likes his routine, and needs to adjust if something like the doorbell interrupts his day!

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SARA OHLIN & Fionn

Almost a year ago we adopted a border collie named Fionn. He had a really rough start, but came to us from a lovely foster family. In the house he’s a bit anxious, following me everywhere and whining when we are not all together. Outside he’s all confidence. He loves snuggles, chasing dogs, herding, and more snuggles. He might be part cat as he follows the sun. And he’s a love muffin!

COLLETTE CAMERON & Ayva This is Ayva, my writing assistant. I wrote several books with her sitting on my lap until she became too heavy. Now, she sleeps beneath my desk, and she helps me with my book releases.


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.

NICOLE NADEAU & Penny & Lola I have a cat, Penny, and a dog named Lola. Lola is a Morkie, a cross between a Maltese and a Yorkshire Terrier. Penny is a formerly feral cat that we ended up adopting and she couldn’t be sweeter. Thankfully, they don’t fight like cat and dog and get along great.

CYRENE & Spencer 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.

Spencer is a tabby that I found last summer in my flower bed. Either dumped off or lost, no one will ever know. He was dangerously thin and full of fleas and about 4-6 months old. I did keep an eye on the lost cat ads, but nothing ever came up. So I cleaned him up, got rid of his fleas, wormed him and just fed him. He’s a sweet boy these days and is the boss over the dachshunds at bed time. He is asthmatic and will go into coughing fits at times, but medicine controls most of that.

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NICOLE NADEAU icole Nadeau grew up in Springboro, Ohio, with her older sister, Paige and younger brother Mark. She also has a dog, Lola and a rescue cat named Penny.

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An avid reader since grade school, she read every action and adventure book she could get her hands on. Eventually, her love of reading developed into a love of writing. She started working on her own book while she was in high school.

Nicole has a neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) which creates challenges in her daily life. She refuses to let SMA stop her from doing what she loves. Like the lead character in her book, she is determined and overcomes any obstacles that stand in her way.

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Uncaged welcomes Nicole Nadeau Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell readers more about your book, Death by Midnight? Is this your debut novel? Death by Midnight is my first book. It’s a young adult spy adventure about a teenage genius that gets dragged into a conspiracy involving the CIA when her parents are kidnapped by a terrorist. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I’m starting on the sequel to Death by Midnight. Uncaged: Do you plot out your books beforehand, or are you a punster? I plot out everything. It makes it easier when it’s time to write. And if I don’t, I’ll forget and leave out a major plot point. Uncaged: Have you attended any in-person signing events? If not, is that something you would enjoy doing? I haven’t. I think it might be something I would enjoy. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? I would love to talk to Rick Riordan and C.S. Lewis. They both have such fleshed out characters and vibrant, imaginative worlds. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Not really. Because I plot everything out, I can figure out how each character would respond and work it into the story.

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| F E A T UR E A UT H O R | Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working?

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Read and play video games. They really help me unwind.

Jake’s phone rang. He answered it, and a confused look crossed his face. He handed her the phone. “It’s for you.”

Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you?

She took it. “Hello?”

Having my book being someone’s favorite.

Her skin crawled as Komarov’s voice filled her ear. “I heard you and Ivan had a little accident. I thought I’d call and let you know he’s alright.”

Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I prefer physical books, I need to hold it in my hands. And I just finished reading The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ nicolenadeau24. And you can also sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date on what’s happening.

Enjoy an excerpt from D eat h b y M i dni gh t Death by Midnight Nicole Nadeau YA/Spy Adventure

“How did you get this number?” she asked, stunned. “You practically gave it to me when you texted your friend. I hope you’re not planning on running off. Your parents and I are waiting for you.” “Where are they?” she demanded. “Oh, don’t worry about them. They’re fine. They’re my guests. For now.” “What does that mean?” Komarov sighed. “It means that your little escapade is putting my very sensitive timetable at risk. My men are stretched too thin as it is, and I might not have enough to bring you back and take care of your parents.” “Don’t hurt them,” Anna begged.

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ode i s a t e e nage d w i t h a s e c r e t — he r hom e m ade i nv e nt i ons t hat s he onl y s har e s w i t h he r be s t f r i e nd, J ak e . B ut w he n a shadowy figure kidnaps A na’ s par e nt s , s he i s f or c e d r y out hi s m y s t e r i ous pl an. W ith and J ak e by he r s i de , A n a m us t i nd t o s av e not onl y he r par e nt s , ot he r s . A nd s he be t t e r hur r y . B e k i s t i c k i ng. ge ni us

t o he

l p ih he r i nv e nt su e he r gi utb c ou nt c aus e t he

m c ar i ons fte dm le s s c l oc

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“Well, it’s time for hard decisions,” Komarov told. “And I’ll have to choose between them and my plans. Unless…” “What?” “Unless you want to run a few errands for me and take care of what my men needed to do. Then I would be able to look after your parents.” “Why would you want me to do that?”


|N IC O L E N A D E A U| “Because there are things that need to be done,” he reasoned. “You can’t come here on your own, we can’t have you leading anyone here. So it’s this, or your parents can’t be my guests anymore.” A knot formed in her stomach. “What do you want?” Komarov answered. “I just need you to pick a few things up for me. Do it, and I’ll let you and your parents go back to your boring little lives. We can even forget about the device I wanted you to build. Do we have a deal?” She swallowed hard. “Fine. Deal.” “Excellent,” he chimed. “Ivan will meet you at Brandywine Creek State Park, not far from Wilmington. He’ll explain everything and give you a few things you’ll need.” Komarov’s voice suddenly turned cold. “And remember, we’re on the clock. If you don’t have everything I need within forty-eight hours then the deal is off. And if my plans are ruined, then I’ll have plenty of men to take care of you and your parents. Understood?” “Yes,” Anna replied, her voice barely above a whisper. “Perfect,” Komarov said, some of his icy tone disappearing. “Oh, and if you try to go to the police again or try to take what I need for yourself, the deal’s off. This should be easy for a genius like you.” The phone clicked, and the line went dead. Anna lowered the phone and stared at it in shock. “Well,” Jake said, after Anna filled him in. “We’ve got a lot to do then.”

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mEG L E LV I S

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eg Lelvis grew up in northern Minnesota and taught English and psychology in Houston and Dallas. Her fiction and poetry have won awards from Houston Writers Guild and Houston Writers House. Her first novel, Bailey’s Law, won the 2017 Maxy Award for best mystery. Her short story featuring Bailey’s Law character, Jack Bailey, was published in Houston Writers Guild mystery anthology, Waves of Suspense. Meg’s second Bailey novel, Blind Eye, was released in April, 2018. It won Maxy Award’s runner-up for best mystery in 2018. She is excited that Black Rose Writing also published her third novel, A Letter from Munich, on April, 9, 2020. This also features protagonist, Jack Bailey. Meg resides in Houston with her husband and dog, Robby.

Uncaged welcomes Meg Lelvis Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest book, A Letter from Munich will release April 9th. This is another book in your Jack Bailey Mystery series. Can you tell readers more about this series? Jack Bailey is a hard-nosed detective who has demons of his own. In the first two books, Bailey’s Law and Blind Eye, he solves murders in Texas and Chicago. Frustrated at work, he quits his job, and also receives an unexpected inheritance. In A Letter from Munich, Jack finds himself in Germany trying to unravel a family secret. This book is a change in genre from mystery/crime to fiction/historical fiction. Uncaged: How does your writing process work? Do you plot out your novels for the main scenes beforehand, or are you more of a panster? Before I start drafting a book, I have the general story in mind, including the ending. I don’t outline, but draw by hand a story arc shaped like a hill which includes the beginning, middle, climax, resolution. I jot down the plot events on the arc, and of course, change things at times. I also keep a handwritten chapter log to easily keep track of what happened when. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about?

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I’m glad you asked! I’m now on my fourth book, which features Jack Bailey’s sister, Jenny, who also lives in Bridgeport, a former Irish enclave in Chicago. The time setting begins in the 1990s, and reflects themes of family secrets, addiction, and life experiences many of us can relate to. I can’t seem to leave the Bailey family behind, with its various quirky characters. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Oh, so many wonderful authors; how to choose? I’d love to meet Elizabeth Strout, Anne Tyler, Alice McDermott, and if I had the nerve, Joyce Carol Oates, to hear about their character observations. Deceased writers I’d love to take tea with are the three Bronte sisters, Daphne du Maurier, Willa I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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| F E A T UR E A UT H O R | Cather, Maya Angelou, for starters. These writers have such astute understanding of characters’ motivation and perception of life in general, and they express these to the reader so beautifully. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Yes, I change my mind off and on, so the characters must react differently than planned, or take on burdens or joys which were unplanned as well. Uncaged: How do you feel about traditional publishing vs. indie publishing?

I’ve only experienced having a traditional publisher, which works really well for me. I am tech-challenged, and would find it difficult to arrange for formatting, cover design, etc., which a traditional publisher handles for you. My publisher handles pre and post release tasks and is available for whatever support I need. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I always have my nose in a book, and besides spending time with family and friends, I enjoy travel. I have fond memories of many overseas trips, and like soaking up literary and art culture of European countries in particular. I also love harmonizing in a group or choir, and playing the piano for my ears only! Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? For me my success as an author is pretty much intrinsic. I always dreamed of writing a book, and I feel a great sense of accomplishment that I will soon have three published books. I find it a great legacy for my children and grandchildren. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I enjoy all three. I read both print books and have a huge library on Kindle. I especially like an ebook for traveling. I listen to audiobooks off and on, in addition to whatever book I’m reading. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’m grateful for people who read my books and have taken the time to leave a comment or review. I hope to write as if I know them personally, and they can relate to the characters, especially Jack Bailey and his family and friends. I’m on Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, and my website.

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Enjoy an excerpt from A L et t er f r om M u ni ch A Letter from Munich Meg Lelvis Mystery Releases April 9 T w o di

s t i nc t v oi c e s e m e r ge : , a j ade d e x - c op, t he ot he r , an agi ng, but s pi r i t e d G e r m an l ady , t e l l i ng he r s t or y of l ov e , w ar , e t hi c s , and r e d e m pt i on. G e r m any , 1930s . I n t he pe ac e f ul v i l l age of D ac hau, A r i an l i v e s w i t h he r f am i l y , or di arn y G e r m an c i t i z e ns , dur i ng t he T h i r d R e i c h. A r i an an d he r s i s t e r , R e nat e , c om e of age am i ds t t eh gr ow i n g hor r or s . one

M uni

c h, 2 de t e r m i ne W W I I w ar J ac k and h k e y t o hi s

012. H dt tim is pas

J ac k ’ s f r i e M uni c h, w f or , i nc l udi C hi c ago, s f at he r t o r c am p’ s l i b c one c t i ng c hangi ng

nd, She r k , i nv i t e he r e J ac k l e ar ns ng a s hoc k i ng di houl d he r e v e al e s t ? F r om t he D e r at i on by t he A t w o pe opl e i n an unf s t or y .

o l co e l ov br ot t dr

ar -d nos e at e A r i an e le tte r he r t hi nk unk e n abus

d e x - c op, J ac k a Sc rh öde r , w t o hi s f at eh r de t he l e t t e r m ay i v e ne s s .

B ia l e y , i s ho w r ot e a c ade s ag o. hol d t eh

s ih m sc f am

m t o v i s i t hi s nat i v e or e t han he bar aig ne d l os ur e . B ac k i n i l y s e c r e t s and put h is ca hau de at h t r ai n t o t he m e r i c ans , a t a l e unf lo ds , or ge t t abl e , e v e r -

Excerpt Jack Bailey did not believe in fate, but the invitation to visit Germany could be an omen. A silent voice niggled at his brain. You must investigate the letter. The letter he thought would remain a secret he and his brother would take to their grave.

|M E G

L E L V IS |

reason later. The next evening, Jack had recovered from jet lag and was settling in for the night. Cool summer air floated through an open window of the comfortable guest room in Sherk’s family vacation home. After he popped a couple Ambien to avoid insomnia that plagued him for years, he lay on the bed’s overly firm mattress staring at stark white walls offset by two Georgia O’Keeffe-type large prints of purple and yellow flowers. Colors blurred as he let his thoughts drift back in time. # Two months ago, Jack had abruptly quit his job as a detective with Chicago’s Police Department, after coping with a difficult sergeant and frustrating, never-ending bureaucracy. However, he could well afford the Germany trip, thanks to a recent windfall from his former father-in-law’s estate. Do him good to get away. Besides, Sherk had been his loyal partner in the department for two years, a burden not everyone could bear. Jack, described by many as a rugged Liam Neeson look-alike, had not mellowed with age. He’d often overheard co-workers mumbling to Sherk. Don’t know how you put up with Bailey, man. Last month Jack phoned his older brother, Tommy. “I’m going to Munich with Sherk. We leave in June for a couple weeks.” Tommy had nodded, paused. “You gotta do it, Jack. As long as you’ll be in Munich, take the letter. It may be our only chance.” Now the time had come. He was counting on Sherk’s fluent German to help unravel the decades-old question posed in the letter. But he’d have to tell him about it first.

He arrived in Munich with his friend, Karl Scherkenbach, nicknamed Sherk, whose extended family lived in the area. Jack had jumped at the chance to accompany him on his yearly trip overseas to visit his relatives. He would tell Sherk the real I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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feature authors psychological thriller | thriller | occult

Lauryn Dyan

humphrey Hawksley

Bruce Olav Solheim


LAURYN D YA N

L

auryn Dyan is a marketing professional by day, an author and music magazine reporter by evening, and a blackeyeliner-wearing-jumping-bean that loves to sing her lungs out at concerts by night. When not busy with her husband or tripletsyes, triplets-she is continually working on, or at least thinking about, her next great story that will keep you guessing. You can find out more about her on her website www.lauryndyan.com or by following her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter at @lauryndyan.

Stay Co n n e c te d

l au r y ndy an.com

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Please welcome Lauryn Dyan Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about your debut book, Hollow Stars? My favorite promotional line for the book is “discover the dire side effects of partying like a rock star,” because that really boils the plot down into a neat little sentence. In reality, Hollow Stars is a multilayered thriller that on the surface seems like a rollicking, debauchery-laced mystery, but on a deeper level, deals with personal demons, substance abuse, and the fluidity of trust in complicated relationships. It all revolves around rock star Kennedy, who lands in a psychiatric hospital after her first major tour with an unstable perspective on how she got there. Uncaged: Music is a big inspiration in your life and you even write for Smash Magazine. What music inspired Hollow Stars? I have always loved rock music, but it is the emo/ screamo scene of the early 2000s that most influenced Hollow Stars. The majority of the characters are actually inspired and/or named after an artist, band, or song as a way to pay homage to their art and influence in my life and the lives of so many others. Some of the bands I work in are AFI, Thursday, The Used, Thrice, Alexisonfire, and Chiodos, to name just a few. I actually had a spreadsheet at one point to keep track of every connection so I wouldn’t miss anyone I wanted to include! They are fun little Easter eggs for readers familiar with the scene, but don’t detract from the story if they aren’t. To hear some of the songs that inspired the book or capture its essence, there is an accompanying Spotify playlist up on my website at lauryndyan.com/ music. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I’ve started writing for Smash Magazine as you mentioned, which is a really fun way for me to take the album reviews I usually compose in my head I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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| F E A T UR E A UT H O R | while driving and share them with an audience. I’ve also started working on a new novel tentatively titled Lost Immortal. It is different from Hollow Stars in that it is an urban fantasy with supernatural elements (not vampires), but similar in that it will keep you guessing until the end. I am also dabbling in short stories. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Past, it would be Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I have a fascination with the classics from their era and would love to know what it was like to be a female writer in a time when women were married off for money or goats or something ridiculous like that. Present, it would be Veronica Roth. She has a gift for world building and immersing you in that world without droning on and on about the setting. I would love to be able to create such vivid mental imagery without boring the reader. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Even though the first word out of Kennedy’s mouth in Hollow Stars is the f-bomb, she cusses way more than any character I ever expected to write! Uncaged: How do you feel about traditional publishing vs. indie publishing? This is the question of the decade for authors, isn’t it? Honestly, there are advantages to both for the writer as well as the reader. Indie publishing allows writers whose stories don’t fit perfectly into a specific genre or style to get their work out there to readers who are craving something new. It also saturates the market with a lot of crap. Traditional publishing can help an author cut through that crap by giving them the promotional backing they need to reach the right audience, and for a reader, it serves as another level of endorsement that what they are about to read isn’t just an incoherent string 66 | UncagedBooks.com


| BI L L P E R C Y | of babble. As a writer, you just have to be open to both and learn and adjust as you go. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? My go-to is binge watching scripted television. I love to get lost in the fiction of it. I work hard. Life is busy. I don’t need to watch a reality tv version of life (even if it isn’t all that real) or a documentary that just reminds me of those things. Truthfully, I love teen dramas and almost everything on the CW, past and present. I also go to a lot of concerts, which in the moment are exhilarating, but leave me with that relaxed, post-workout feeling when they’re over. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? I don’t need to be a best seller, but I’d hate to be easily forgotten. I want my writing to stick in the readers’ brain. I want them to hash over the little details that led up to the ending I carefully crafted and be satisfied with the things they unraveled on their own and pleasantly surprised by the things that caught them off guard. If I amassed a small group of fans who fell in love with one of my books for these reasons, I would consider that a success. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I fought ebooks for a long time but it’s really all I buy now. They are just so much easier. I have had many a fight with a booklight in bed trying to get it in just the right spot only to have it pop off the pages right during a riveting scene. I’m glad those days are behind me. I am currently reading Seven Inch Vinyl by Donald Riggio, another Vegas author, that focuses on a completely different era of music than what I write about. It’s set in the 1950s and the story feels equal parts entertainment and music education, even I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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| F E A T UR E A UT H O R

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| L A UR Y N

though it’s fiction.

j us t a f ot

not

I also just finished The Testaments by Margret Atwood. So good! Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Just typing the plural–fans–is exhilarating. While I’ve been writing for years, it’s only as of recent that my work has been out there for others to read. I’m still blown away that strangers have read anything I’ve written, and I am eternally grateful that they spared whatever small window of time they had to unwind immersed in my words. My website, lauryndyan.com, is a great hub for keeping tabs on me. It has links to all my social media profiles (Instagram is my primary, but I’m everywhere as @ lauryndyan), info on my book and work in progress, Spotify playlists, and a blog with album reviews, general thoughts, and more. I hope some Uncaged readers will check it out!

Enjoy an excerpt from H ol l ow S t ar s

by

Hollow Stars Lauryn Dyan Psychological Thriller

as i ns t abi at r i c t our T r ape pas t m e m

t r i ng lity hos pi m at e di and t or i e s

e v e r - w or he r m i nd has t al . D e s pi t e s s abot age d h n t he as y l um he pr e s e nt de s o s he c an r of

of

A s l e ad s i nge r of poul ar , e m e r gi ng r oc k band, T r ac i ng S t ar s , K e ne dy has t he s w ag g e r of a bads s , or at l e as t s he us e d t o. W hi l e c aught up i n t he boz e , pas s i on, and chaos of her first major rock t o ur , he r dr e am s ar e e r as e d s e ni ng bl ac k out s . N ow t he l ande d he r i n a ps y c hi b e i ng c onv i nc e d one of he r e r , s he l ac k s any e v i de nc e . , s he al t e r nat e s be t w e e n t he t e r m i ne d t o r e c ov e r he r l os t e t ur n t o he r band be f or e s he ’ s

e i n t he i r r i s e t o f am

D Y A N

e .

Excerpt Prologue I used to blackout every night and it was marvelous. I took those dark periods of nothingness as a sign I had made it. That the world was affirming what my fragile ego was slow to accept. That I was a beloved success. I mean, what persona is supposed to party harder than a rock star? None in my book. So, when reality started slipping from my intoxicated hands, I didn’t worry. I didn’t turn to my friends and bandmates, my manager, or my mom to help me get a handle on my mind. I embraced it. I let hedonism pull me further down the rabbit hole and patted myself on the back. Job well done, Kennedy. You are officially amazing. Now, I realize how utterly wrong I was. That losing a part of your life isn’t how you celebrate it. I took for granted that I was the reason I blacked out all those crazy nights on tour. I did it to myself. Alcohol, drugs, whatever caught my eye was all I needed to send me into the darkness that was my happy place. How foolish was I not to see this as a problem? Most people would turn away from a blackhole but I just skipped right into it. It wasn’t until it had twisted me completely upside-down that I tried to find my way out. Unfortunately, even when I got clean, the blackouts still came. My control was gone. And now, I sit alone in my cage, living my worst fear: that I am as forgotten as those drunken nights punched from my memory like holes in Swiss cheese. Chapter 1 “Hell yeah! Thank you...whatever city we’re in tonight!” I shout as the final chords of our last song of the night reverberate through the sweaty, packed venue. I take a big swig from my bottle of tequila that has just a whisper of orange juice mixed in, and the crowd goes nuts with approval. I chuck the nearly empty bottle into the masses, not knowing if it will hit someone in the head or if someone will catch it when it comes back down. Either way, it’ll make a memorable story for the lucky recipient. I turn and stumble off the now empty stage right before the house lights come up. Thank God. I hate when I don’t make it off in time I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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| F E A T UR E A UT H O R | and they blind me. Sure-fire way to kill my buzz. Not that I mind increasing my intake to make up for it. It’s just jarring. This is our fifteenth show of a thirty stop tour. The first dozen were along the West Coast and now we’re somewhere in Middle America. I lost track a while ago. I love not knowing where I am. I’m constantly trying to prolong my high and being unaware of where I’m careening to in my tour bus is like being in a drunken haze while sober. Everyone gets a good laugh at my ignorance, but it doesn’t bother me. Sometimes, if I happened to glance a ‘Welcome to...’ street sign or some other identifier (like the Space Needle or St. Louis’s Arch) I still play dumb if the timing is right to get a laugh. Why not? It’s only for fun. Right now, I couldn’t care less. I push through the throng of dark clad roadies and staff that blend in with the dim, backstage atmosphere eager to continue the party and celebrate our mid-tour anniversary. Then again, I was also ready to celebrate our quarter-tour and eighth-tour anniversary. Any excuse to go all in, not that I need one. My band, Tracing Stars, has clawed its way from obscurity to notoriety over the last several years. While we’re no Nirvana, Muse, Twenty One Pilots...insert current mega-rock act here...we are formidable. Headlining sold out shows at all the mid-sized venues that attract alternative music fans around the country. We are particularly popular with the college set, maybe because we’re about the same age. Maybe not. I think we’re just the right mix of underground cool with borderline, mainstream appeal to make us the ‘it’ act of the moment. Yet, as I dodge another scruffy dude hefting heavy extension cords like they’re spaghetti noodles, I square my shoulders reminded I’ll always have something to prove as a female lead singer in this male-dominated industry. Even three out of my four bandmates are guys. I can still drink them all under the table and get up, do an in-store signing, satellite radio interview and acoustic set before I get sloshed again. I’d say that makes me as badass as any man playing the same part. I sidestep a stack of dismembered drums and nearly smack into a stocky, local concert promoter I 70 | UncagedBooks.com

met before the show. “Shots, shots, shots!” he chants, at my appearance. “Absolutely later,” I reply, as I turn and trot backwards, not breaking my stride. He smiles and his eyes betray the same expression all my male counterparts show after they hang with me for the first time: wonder and appreciation. Most are leery, at first, of letting the cute but edgy girl into their boys-only club, but it doesn’t take them long to realize I won’t kill their good time. Usually, I enhance it. The dynamic is just different when you mix fun-loving, female musicians into the free-for-all that is a rock tour. For example, last night after our show everyone went to the bar. We skewed ninety percent male to ten percent female. The guys were the instigators for chugging Jaeger bombs, but it was the ladies who got everyone dancing. How often do you see a group of pierced and tatted up guys decide to jump up on a four foot wall and gyrate? Proves we’ve got just the right balance of estrogen and testosterone in our group. I’m not sure what happened after that but I hear it was epic. So far, tonight is shaping up to be a fabulous repeat. I wink a green eye at my bassist, Jack, as he flirts with some groupies under the glowing exit sign. I strut out the backstage door toward the tour bus to ditch my sweat-soaked jeans and tight, gray tank top for something less disgusting. Let the chaos begin. *** “Kennedy? Did you hear me? Are you still having the blackouts?” I pull myself out of my trance and try to focus on my therapist. The tall string bean with the cul-de-sac head of gray hair. I’m struggling today, more so than I have in a while. Not like when I first arrived at this SoCal institution, but damn if it’s not close. “I think I was just blacked out,” I mumble. This elicits that look I’ve become all too familiar with. That alternating crinkle and creasing of his forehead indicating a battle between pity and disapproval. Even after two months in the psych hospital, I can’t seem to prove my dissolutions aren’t my fault. That what is happening to me now is because of ‘him.’ Nobody believes me.


sneakp eek

Nancy T h or ne Victorian Town

Even with the whistled melodies from a pair of cardinals outside the church’s entrance, the following silence felt awkward. It persisted, and I assumed Ben was already regretting kissing me.

Nancy Thorne Young Adult/Historical

“Miss Abigail−”

A by

I brought up a hand and covered his mouth. “It’s okay.” We walked down the hill without saying another word. A lot of activity was happening on Main Street: coaches lined the front of the Royal Hotel as travelers zipped in and out of the main entrance; horse carts delivered goods in dashes of haste; store merchants hurried beyond their open doors; street sellers sold goods out of baskets; helpers swept the boardwalk; ladies could be seen purchasing last minute necessities behind the windows of each shop.

Victorian Town

P ar k e r pl ane d out he r w hol e l i f e : c om pl e t e her final year of high s c hol , go t o c ol l e ge , ge t a j ob, m ov e aw ay f r o m he r i ns ane f am i l y , s t ay be s t f r i e nds w i t h J e s s i c a. B tu , t hat w as be f or e s he br ok e i n t o t eh en ar by t our i s t at t r ca t i on and unw i t t i n gl y nsa w e r e d a c al l f r om a c e nt u r i e s - ol d s pi r i t w h o dr gea d he r i nt o t eh 19t h c e nt ur y . N ow

s he m ge t t i ng h e r t r ape d int l ov e s an d al

us t s ol v e a V s e l f k i l l e d, or he asp t , l e va t e r i ng t he i r

i c t or i an m y s t e r y w i t hout w or s e , s pe nd a l ife tim e i ng be ih nd e v e r y one s he l i v e s f or e v e r .

W eh n s h e m e e t s org eg uso B e nj am l ok s a l ot l i k e w r e c k age .

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I waited for him to make the next move, to tell me how inappropriate, how forward that was of me. As I struggled to think of how best to offer an explanation, he turned to me. Gently but deliberately, he moved his hand up my arm, stopping at the nape of my neck beneath the ribbon of the bonnet. The moment he leaned in, I closed my eyes. His lips, soft and full, touched mine with the modest pressure of an indecisive act. A warm energy coursed through my body, but the strangest thing was that everything felt unbelievably familiar, like it had all been rehearsed before that moment. I held onto this profound feeling, not wanting it to leave, until Ben removed his lips from mine.

Ben accompanied me up the stairs of Town Hall’s entrance and stopped on the landing before we reached the front door. I peered through the window. Martha arranged long-stemmed flowers in a vase on a table at the side of the ballroom. A young man placed a candelabra on a table and then another on top of a piano. Ben had already started back to the street when I turned. He waved. I waved back. Still a chance he’ll change his mind. The gloves were easier to remove now that one was missing its button. I placed them, and the button, on the ledge of the window and took off the ring. Jess was still sitting on my bed when the haze cleared, but her tapping fingers had moved from her chin, which now rested on her knuckles. It was obvious it had taken longer for me to return this time. It made sense to me right then that the ring held within it a finite amount of energy with which to transport me to the past and back home, like a battery depleting its energy with each use. And, I had no idea how to recharge it.

nancy t h or ne.com I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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Catching Up with Hope Malory Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about your latest release, Blue Skies of Summer? Blue Skies of Summer is a romantic suspense set in a fictional small town, Azalea Valley, in the beautiful foothills of the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. After Krystan Parks, a single mother, flees from her Ohio home to the serene town, danger follows her. Baseball coach, Blake McLemore, takes down her gunwielding, abusive ex-husband—with a baseball—in a local café. While Blake attempts to protect her, other unknown forces continue to put them both in harm’s way. Uncaged: Are you planning on more to this series? Can readers read the books in this series as standalones? Yes. Blue Skies of Summer is the third of a six-book series in the Azalea Valley Series. Three more are scheduled for publication in 2020 – June, September, and December. They all can be read as standalones, however, if a reader plans to read others in the series and wants to avoid spoilers, it is best to read the them in order. Wildfire and Roses is first in the series and Rhythm in Blue is second. My author page has links and information about all three: https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Malory/e/ B07J5XGHL3 Uncaged: Because of the COVID-19 virus, what is your promotional schedule looking like for 2020? Any plans that had to be changed? Understandably, most of the focus now is on COVID-19 virus. My husband and I celebrated launch day with a quiet dinner at home rather than a launch party or dinner at a restaurant. All promotion for the near future will be done online. Any in-person events such as book signings will be delayed until later in the year after the threat of the virus has passed.

H

ope Malory, author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels, grew up in a small Tennessee town. An avid reader, she was often away on an adventure in her mind…a true foreshadowing of things to come. Never to be underestimated, Hope’s natural gift for writing would become her third career, only after her family and a traditional profession. Today, Hope and her husband live near Nashville and travel across the US and to other countries as often as they can. Together they still make plenty of time for family including two grandchildren, but you’re just as likely to find them preparing for their next journey. Hope’s love of travel and culture make it into her novels giving them a touch of intrigue and creating beautiful settings for a down home story of love and family.

h op emal or y .com I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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Blue Skies of Summer Hope Malory Contemporary Romance Coach Blake McLemore loves women. All wome n. T he w ay t he y l ok , t he w ay t he y s m e l l , t he w ay he f e e l s w he n he i s w i t h t he m . B ut , he has y e t t o m e e t one he w ant s t o c om m i t t o m uc h l e s s s pe nd a l i f e t i m e w i t h . . . unt i l he m e e t s K r y s t a n. K ry m an. W s m al s he m e e

s t an P

ar k s rb e ak s eh n s he nda he l t ow n, dange r f ol w ant s i s anot he r m t s B l ak e .

f r e e f r om he r e x . A c al l o us r s on e s c ape t o a pe ca e f ul l ow s t he m . T he l as t t ih n g an i n he r l i f e . . . unt i l s he

W ath ra e t he dso f or a m a t c hup be tw e e na j ade d s i ngl e m mo on t he r un and t he hands om e l adi e s ’ m a n pr ot e c t i ng he r f r om a de s pe r at e e x hus band? W i l l t he i r s e sa on e nd w i t h a s t r i k e ou t or a hom e r un?apr t? Excerpt Blake placed his hand on hers. “I got the impression you downplayed the episode with Luke. So how are you really?” Krystan nudged her plate aside and picked up her glass of tea. “I don’t know how much more I can take. The worst part is Noah’s anxiety level has intensified since the incident and shows no signs of ebbing. The nightmares and imaginary friend are back.” His jaw tightened. “Damn. What can I do to help?” “Hold me.” “With pleasure.” He stood and reached out his hand. She stepped straight into his arms and pressed her head on his shoulder. The warmth of his body and comforting strength helped to peel away layers of stress. Long moments later, he tilted her face toward him, brushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear, and gently kissed her. The embrace was meant to console her, but in74 | UncagedBooks.com

stead it aroused her. He took her hand and led her to the sofa. She curled up close to him and draped her legs over his. His masculine scent and the light touch of his fingers grazing her neck did nothing to curb her mounting passion. She traced his lips, and when she leaned closer, his mouth claimed hers. Sweet sensations vibrated through her body when he skimmed his thumb over the swell of her breast. She whimpered and arched against him savoring the lingering kiss and his every touch. The intensity deepened and she struggled to breathe. His tongue parted her lips creating pleasurable waves that shot to her core. Her desire skyrocketed. She wanted him. Needed him. “Mom, can you come here?” As they pulled apart and pressed their foreheads together, they groaned simultaneously. “Coming, sweetie.” To Blake, she whispered, “Sorry,” and gave him another quick kiss before she trudged to Noah’s room. Such is the life of a single mother.

DON’T MISS THIS TITLE:


cocoa. Hawksley has written ten international political and military thrillers. Man on Edge is the second in the much-praised Rake Ozenna series which was launched in 2018 with Man on Ice, set on the U.S.Russian border

Stay Connected

T

o my neighbors, I am a quiet and assuming guy who works blue-collar. What they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know is that I also write dark speculative fiction. My work has been printed all over the world. I have three novels on the market and a fourth in the final stages of publication. My short fiction is available with numerous pubs, including magazines and anthologies. I have my own writing style but would say I was influenced by authors like Robert R. McCammon, Joe R. Lansdale, and John Sandford.

h u mp h r ey h aw ksl ey .com

hUmPhREY h AW K S L E Y Uncaged welcomes Humphrey Hawksley

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umphrey Hawksley is an author, foreign correspondent and commentator on world affairs. His work with the BBC has taken him to crises all over the world. His journalism has also appeared in most mainstream media in the U.K. and U.S., such as NPR, the New York Times and the London Times. A revised and expanded edition of his latest non-fiction book is Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the IndoPacific and the Challenge to American Power is published in June 2020. He has lectured widely on it he including at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and the RAND Corporation in Los Angeles. He presented a series of award-winning BBC documentaries exposing child labor in international supply chains, such as Indian cotton and West African 76 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell readers more about The Rake Ozenna series? Thanks for having me. Rake Ozenna, is in his midthirties, an officer in the Alaska National Guard and a native of Little Diomede Island, a rugged, remote place in an incredibly hostile environment on the border with Russia. He is an orphan and grew up in the tight-knit island community under the shadow of a hostile superpower. The border is known as the Ice Curtain. His island is a settlement of fewer than a hundred people. Aross a narrow stretch of water is a Russian military base. Rakeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only way out was to join the military. He broke through to officer and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and because of his special Arctic skills worked with special forces units. He falls in love with


Dr Carrie Walker and trauma surgeon from Brooklyn whom he met in Afghanistan. It is a passionate and troubled relationship because they both come from such different worlds. MAN ON ICE begins when Rake is taking Carrie back to Little Diomede to meet his community. MAN ON EDGE, the second in the series, takes Rake and Carrie to the western Arctic edges on the Russian border with Norway and NATO, with action in Moscow and politics in London and Washington. Because of his unusual background, critics have hailed Rake as a unique action hero standing out in a crowded market.

ent to BBC, and have reported on many different crises. Has any real life experiences influenced your writing? Just about all of them. I have incredible access into peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives whether to villagers who have lost loved-ones in a civil war or the highest levels of a government caught between a rock and a hard place and having to make decisions against the clock. It also allows perspective. Kosovar Albanians may believe their history of bloodshed is unique and the most dreadful. The foreign correspondent has seen similar in Palestine, Israel, the Korean Peninsula, Cambodia and so on, so understands the pattern of suffering, recrimination and hatred passed through the generations that leads to conflict, the universality of human thinking. The Rake Ozenna series was born out of an assignment to the remote US-Russian border during the Ukraine crisis. Although that was on the other side of the world, I was curious as to why we heard so little about the border where the two antagonistic superpowers actually meet head on. Once there, I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t resist writing a thriller.

Uncaged: You have also been a Foreign Correspond-

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| H UM P H R E Y H A W K S L E Y | Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I am writing the third Rake Ozenna thriller with the working title MAN ON FIRE. It has a different setting, but the same high stakes, and the same key characters, taking the reader from action in the field to policy making at the very highest level. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Say a lunch for twelve, I would host with Mary Shelley, Leo Tolstoy, K. J. Howe, Charles Dickens, George Elliott, John Le Carre, Hilary Mantel, Robert Ludlum, J. K Rowling, Lee Child and Liz Jensen. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Just today, in fact. It was one of those scenes with the point of the view of Rake Ozenna, but with big government decisions being made around him. I realized Rake needed to make his mark within that group of suits and found something that fitted perfectly. Uncaged: How do you feel about traditional publishing vs. indie publishing? Indie publishing involves a lot of work on marketing, PR, social media that is far removed from writing. Traditional publishing is preferable. The author needs to understand that this is a business partnership with the publisher who is essentially the printer and distributor of your work. It is fatal to go into that contract and end up blaming the publisher for things that go wrong. Everyone is pushing in the same direction. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I’m a big walker, outdoors, cycling, swimming. I love travelling, new places, gritty places, edgy I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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places. I’m not sure if that is relaxing, because I’m always taking notes, filling up the tank of stories and images for the next book or piece. It’s what I love doing.

Enjoy an excerpt from A cadi a E v ent Man on Edge Humphrey Hawksley Thriller

Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Not sure. There is a section in the magazine about authors and their pets, and I am living in a big city and travelling too much to have a pet. There is little more satisfying in life than seeing a beautiful dog running along the heather of a coastal path and bounding back on the whistle. That would be success. But right now, there is little better than getting a reader’s note out of the blue saying how much they loved the book and asking a really tough question that ends up making the next book better. Success, I guess, is waking up, looking forward intensely to the next few hours of work. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I like them all and often triplicate the same book to read or listen on different platforms. Audible is great for the gym and driving; Kindle for the subway; physical for an armchair and a shot of single Islay malt whisky. Right now, I have on the go John le Carre’s Agent Running in the Field; Peter Pomerantsev, This is not Propaganda; Lee Child Blue Moon; Harry Brett, Time to Win and Don Winslow The Force Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? First up, thank you. Second, I love constructive feedback, I absorb it, like it, process it and use it relentlessly. Please send it.

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w i s t i ng e s t hr i l l e r i nv lo v i ng e s e c r e t s , l e t hal sa s as nda t he t hr e a t of a C ol d W ar .

T r uma a s ur ge on C ar r i e W al k e r i s t ak e n ab ac k w he n he r e s t r ange d unc le m ak e s c ont ac t out of t he blue. Senior Russian naval officer Artyom Semenov c l ai m s t o be i n pos s e s s i on of an e x pl os i v e pi e c e of i nf or m at i on w hi c h he i s of f e r i ng t o s har e w i t h t he W e s t . B ut c an he be t r us t e d? T r av e l l i ng t o M os c ow unde r c ov e r t o m e e t w i t h Semenov, Carrie finds herself stranded when the c ar e f ul l y - pl ane d ope r at i on goe s c at as t r ophi c al l y aw r y . I n gr av e dange r , t he r e ’ s onl y one pe r s on s he can turn to for help: her former fiancé, Major Rake O z e na of t he A l as k a N at i onal G uar d. A w ra e how v i t al i t i s t hat he r e ac he s C ar r i e be f or e ot he r s do, R ak e k now s he ’ s pi t t e d agi ns t a pow e rf ul and l e t hal e ne m y . B ut i s i t a r ogue age nt - or t he R us s i an s t at e ? A s pr e par at i ons gat he r pac e f or a high-profile NATO exercise off the Norwegian coast, R ak e m us t ac t f as t i f he i s t o pr e v e nt a gl ob al c at as t r ophe . Excerpt THIRTY-SEVEN Carrie grasped branches and found footholds in the ice. The bank was steep and slippery. There were plastic bags blown onto bushes and frozen hard. She pulled herself up to a vast white landscape. She

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| H UM P H R E Y H A W K S L E Y | looked for a green Skoda, saw only a narrow, rutted road flanked by thin, dark trees. The phone signal was good. She messaged Rake: Off train. Olenegorsk. It helped her feel normal. I’m here. Running late. Where are you? What a luxury! Rake was her go-to guy. Yes, she thought, let’s sort out today’s shit and make it work. Two words came back from Rake. On plan. She tried to think of something useless, funny, affectionate. Normal times, she would take a photo and send it. Normal wasn’t infected with electronic tracking surveillance and burner phones. The sky looked restless with jagged, black snow clouds, wisped with white ones which twisted and curved into a river-like line of deep blue. On one side of the road stood spiky, barren trees, on the other slanted, wind-battered telegraph poles, snow clinging to their frozen wood bases, icicles hanging like a modern-art installation, cables drooping, but holding up. She saw vehicle movement by the intersection ahead, this the smaller farm road crossing the bigger one that led to the town. There were two vehicles. She swiped away her breath cloud like smoke obstructing her view. One vehicle stopped, taller than the other, maybe an SUV. The other kept coming slowly, weaving around potholes and ice packs. It was green and had to be the Skoda as Hektor had described. She lowered herself back down the bank, out of sight to stay under cover until she could see the make of the car. The vehicle sloped down on the driver’s side. Its green bodywork was peppered with rust spots. The bonnet was silver, the passenger front door a dirty faded blue. A front-wheel hubcap was missing, and a crack streaked right across the middle of the windscreen. In the middle of the upper radiator cage, almost unblemished, was the winged arrow of the Skoda logo. Carrie draped the red scarf over her hat and let it fall onto her shoulders. She scrambled back up the bank. The Skoda drew up beside her, fogged with cigarette smoke until the driver lowered the window. ‘Mikhail?’ He pushed open the passenger door. The leather seat was torn. Rust had eaten through the floor. Carrie climbed in, kept her medical bag on her lap, the other at her feet. Mikhail tossed his cigarette out the window. He wore black woolen gloves with finger holes, missing the right-hand middle finger. A scar ran down

the left side of his face which was gaunt, cheeks drawn in, covered in a couple of days’ growth. He was extraordinarily thin, veins protruding from his wrist and neck, which was disproportionately big. He was not a well man, might be an overactive thyroid. Carrie drew the pistol from her bag. ‘This is from Hektor.’ ‘Keep it,’ he said. ‘But—’ ‘Keep it,’ he repeated. He moved the stick into gear, made a single turn in the road, and began back toward the intersection. ‘Who’s that?’ Carrie pointed ahead to the second vehicle. ‘Friends. Better car to take you to Nikel.’ They rode in silence. Carrie messaged Rake. In car. There was no heating. Windows were down. Wind cut through, unforgiving, tearing through the trees and telegraph poles, sending icy pellets against Carrie’s face. She drew the scarf tighter and dabbed lip balm onto her cracked lips. The second vehicle was a black SUV stretch, which would be sturdy and warm with good suspension and solid heating. A driver sat behind the wheel. A second man leaned on the hood, seemingly oblivious to the cold. Mikhail stopped some yards away. He leaned across her to open her door. ‘What—’ Carrie felt a churn in her stomach. It wasn’t right, although everything made sense, the new vehicle, the friends, keeping the gun she had anticipated. Mikhail’s surly, monosyllabic conversation. Stay calm. She checked her phone. Nothing from Rake. ‘They will take you.’ They, not him, Hektor’s cousin. Mikhail kept his gaze straight ahead. He pulled out another cigarette, unfiltered and crushed, from his top jacket pocket. He hung it between his lips and pushed in the Skoda’s lighter. Carrie got out, gripped the top of the door to stay steady on the ice. Between her and the SUV what looked like a farm sack lay in the middle of the road. She leaned down to check back with Mikhail. He plucked out the lighter and lit his cigarette, inhaling deeply, not looking at her. The man waiting outside the SUV pushed himself off the hood, arm outstretched in beckoning wave. She hoisted her bag more securely onto her shoulder. Treading carefully, she walked to meet him. I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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He shouted something, lost in a howl of wind. Carrie’s eyes watered. She pulled the scarf right around her face, protecting everything except her eyes. His face was covered, too, small goggles over the eyes, quality cold-weather clothing. He walked fast on the other side of the road, pointed to the Skoda, held up his right hand, five fingers splayed as if to say: Got to talk to Mikhail. Give me a few minutes. There was someone else in the SUV. Carrie spotted movement in the back. Its engine ran, exhaust white, vanishing in swirl. She stepped left to skirt around the farm sack. Except, closer, when she saw what it actually was, her strength drained. She had to stop herself buckling. She cried out from deep in her belly but had no voice. She squatted down to see more. She put her arm out to check and pulled it back because it was pointless. The amputated arm was enough. The red, scarred face lay on the ice, the neck twisted. She recognized the brown jacket. Less than an hour earlier Hektor Tolstoye had saved her life. Now, he was dead, his body here as a warning. She looked back toward the Skoda. Through the cracked, filthy windscreen, she saw Mikhail, just as she had left him, hands on the wheel, cigarette in mouth, eyes straight ahead, Hektor Tolstoye’s cousin. Or so she had been told. The man from the SUV leaned on the roof of the Skoda, head at the window, as if casually chatting to Mikhail. In his right hand was a pistol. He killed Mikhail. The wind carried the two cracks of pistol shot. Blood splattered the windscreen. The killer stepped back, holstered the pistol, and moved quickly toward Carrie. He pulled up his goggles and lowered his scarf. A broad smile stretched across his face. ‘Ruslan Yumatov. Remember? I helped you in Moscow.’ He touched her elbow, informal, friendly, and moved on ahead to the vehicle to open the back door for her. Rufus sat inside, upright in the middle of the bench seat, the safety belt around him, clutching his battered book of fairy tales. He saw Carrie. His eyes glimmered with recognition and surprise. Carrie mustered every strand of broken energy to show him a face of certainty, to portray falsely that he would be all right. ‘Hello, Rufus.’ Carrie’s voice cracked. 82 | UncagedBooks.com

He looked at her expectantly. He would have seen his uncle murdered, which would have been Yumatov’s point. Rufus’ lips opened to speak. He said nothing and looked back down at his book. ‘Great kid. Fantastic future.’ Yumatov laid his arm on her again and switched to English. ‘Do what I ask, Carrie, and he’ll be fine.’ She didn’t shake him away because she didn’t want to give him the pleasure of her discomfort. She got into the back of the SUV and gave Rufus a tight, consoling hug. Yumatov shut her door and got in the front. The driver pulled away. Carrie looked back at the battered green sedan, the body lying in the middle of the farm track, misty snow. Rufus trembled, hands shaking, as he pretended to read Russian fairy tales. Yumatov turned, arm slung over the back of his seat. ‘You got your uncle’s flash drive?’ Carrie didn’t look at him, didn’t answer. She ran her fingers through Rufus’s hair. ‘Work with me, Carrie, and we’ll all be fine. It’s four to five hours to Nikel and Rake’s expecting you. The FSB are letting him through at the border. Message him that you’re safe and on your way.’

DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:


Fulbright Professor and Scholar in 2003 at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway. Bruce has published nine books and has written ten plays, two of which have been produced. He is married to Ginger and has four children and two grandsons. Bruce has published three paranormal books: Timeless, Timeless Deja Vu, and his latest, Timeless Trinity. His latest book deals heavily with his alien contact experiences as well as other paranormal events. Bruce has recently published a comic book featuring an alien hybrid character named Snarc. It is for all ages and is illustrated by Gary Dumm of American Splendor fame.

BRUCE O L AV SOLhEIm

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ruce Olav Solheim was born in Seattle, Washington, to Norwegian immigrant parents. Bruce was the first per¬son in his family to go to college. He served for six years in the US Army as a jail guard and later as a warrant officer helicopter pilot and is a disabled veteran. Bruce earned his Ph.D. in history from Bowling Green State University in 1993. Bruce is a distinguished professor of history at Citrus College in Glendora, California. He was a

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Bruce’s mother was psychic and introduced him to the magical realm. His first paranormal experience took place in northern Norway in 1962 when he was four years old. His first alien abduction experience was in 1964. He has continued to have paranormal experiences throughout his life and has developed advanced mediumship capabilities. Bruce took a parapsychology class while he was stationed in West Germany in 1979 and has wanted to write about his experiences ever since. It was only three years ago that Bruce had a spiritual awakening after a vision and communication with his departed close friend Gene that Bruce decided to publish his paranormal stories and overcome his fear of being rejected and ridiculed by his peers and the college administration. Bruce studies quantum theory and has developed a model that may help explain our quantum reality, ghosts, reincarnation, alien contact, and more. He is interested in all esoterica and oddities. Bruce has been abducted several times, has seen UFOs, and continues to have contact with alien beings. He teaches a popular Paranormal Personal History course at Citrus College and has his own radio program and has appeared on many radio programs including Coast to Coast AM. He will be a featured speaker at


Contact in the Desert in May 2020. Dr. Solheim is an associate member of the Parapsychological Association, a member of CERO, and MUFON.

Stay Connected

b r u ceol av sol h ei m.com

Please welcome Bruce Olav Solheim Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell us more about your latest release, Timeless Trinity? Timeless Trinity is the third book in my Timeless trilogy of paranormal books. I document 24 more true experiences that I have had since childhood (the entire trilogy documents a total of 89 such experiences). In addition to demonic, angelic, and ghost experiences, I also share my four alien abductions and contact with an ancient alien mystic named Anzar. Uncaged: You have a Ph.D. in History. Did you think it was risky to write and publish books in this topic? Yes! That is why I tested the waters with the first Timeless book and after everyone seemed okay with it, I revealed more in the second one, and then finally let it all hang out in the third. It is my mission to tell the truth about the paranormal and at this point in my career there really is not much anyone can do to hurt me professionally. Could you imagine looking for a tenure track professor position and mentioning to the hiring committee that you speak to the dead and have been abducted by extra-terrestrials? You would be shown the door rather quickly and crossed off the list.

Uncaged: Can you tell us what paranormal personal history is? The paranormal course that I teach at Citrus College is called Paranormal Personal History because all history is personal and because it is a safe forum for people from all walks of life to share and discuss their paranormal experiences and understand the theoretical frameworks that could help them navigate through these experiences in a rather hostile world. Uncaged: What are you working on now that you can tell us about? I am recording a song I wrote with my band and working on Snarc #2. Snarc is a comic book series I started late last year. Snarc is half human, half alien, and all heart. His mission is to help prepare Earth for colonization. He then decides that humans need to be free and he decides to help us. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Mark Twain, Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury, and Plato. I would enjoy the humor and insights of Twain, the creative high strangeness of Sturgeon, the imagination of Bradbury, and the wisdom of Plato. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t intend when you began? Since I write non-fiction, that does not happen. However, I have written theatrical plays, ten of them, of which two have been produced, and often my theatrical characters take on a life of their own and give me their dialogue and direction. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t writing or working? Meditative spirit walks, exercise, gazing at the night sky, watching movies, cooking for family and friends. I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Stay in the light and be the light! They can go to www. bruceolavsolheim.com and email me at bootstobooks@ gmail.com.

Enjoy an excerpt from T i mel ess T r i ni t y Timeless Trinity Bruce Olav Solheim Occult

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Uncaged:What does success as an author look like to you? If my books, comic books, plays, and stories help people in some way, then I have done my job.

t s , haunt i nf ma ous H ol m e s , and c w or l d, and t Sol he i m ’ s a t r ul y par t he i l l us t r Y v one Sm

T i m e l e s s T r i ni t y i s t he c om lp e t i on of Sol he i m ’ s par anor m al t r i l ogy of t r ue s t or i e s . T r i ni t y go e s be y ond the first two Timeless books as i t de t ai l s t he aut hor s c ont i nui ng c ont ac t w i t h A n z ar , an anc i e nt al i e n m y s t i c , U F O s i ght i ngs , al i e n abduc t i ons , ani m al s pi r i t s , i ngs , de m ons , an e nc ount e r w i t h t he or i gi nal A m e r i c an m as s m ur de r e r D r . H .H . onc l ude s t hat t he s pi r i t w or l d , t he al i e n he quant um w or l d ar e al l t he s am e . D r . T i m e l e s s T r i ni t y i s a pe r s onal gl i m ps e i nt o anor m al l i f e . G ar y D um m agi n pr ov i de s at i ons and w or l d r e now ne d hy pnot he r api s t i t h pr ov i de s a f or e w or d. Excerpt

Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? Print books and audiobooks. Not much of an eBook fan. I read 6-7 books at a time. Here is one: Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence.

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Prologue: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Several months ago, I was switching my medical treatment and care to the Long Beach Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center. As the intake nurse was looking over a survey I had filled out, she asked if I ever heard voices from people who weren’t really there or seen people that weren’t there. I laughed and said, “I didn’t mark yes on


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your sheet, but I have psychic-mediumship abilities, so I can tell you that I do hear them, I do see them, and they’re really there.” She smiled nervously. Dr. Solheim has been abducted by aliens several times and talks to dead people on a regular basis. That sounds like the beginning of a competency hearing that wouldn’t go well for me. The truth is the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. I want to know the truth, and I suspect so does everyone else. So, what is it that stops us from pursuing the truth about the paranormal? Answer: Fear. I, for one, am tired of living in fear. We must liberate ourselves from the conventions and constraints of the past and adopt a bold new vision. As American patriot Patrick Henry wrote in 1775, “I know not what course others may take; as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” “His problem is that he doesn’t know his place.” That is what a senior college administrator once said about me at an academic dean’s meeting. One of the deans in attendance told me this later in confidence. I suppose it was meant to be mean, but it sounded more like frustration on his part. I had gone over his head and that of my dean to talk directly to the college president and start a unique distance education program for the US Navy that proved to be very successful. I consider his statement to be a great compliment. I’m glad that I have the freedom not to know my place. Where would this country be if everyone stayed in their place and tacitly accepted what others told them or expected of them? None of our American heroes were such timid creatures. President Barack Obama wrote a book entitled: The Audacity of Hope. I believe not only in the audacity of hope but in the audacity of purpose and action. As Georges Danton, a leader in the early stages of the French Revolution, wrote in 1792: “L’audace,

l’audace, toujours l’audace.” Or, in English, “Audacity, audacity, always audacity.” Although I’m no hero, I’ll admit that it was risky for me as an academic to publish paranormal books. I suppose critics could say that my first Timeless book was the work of an eccentric professor nearing retirement. Timeless Deja Vu, on the other hand, might have given them a reason for concern, while this third book, may prove that I’m certifiable and should be locked up or silenced through some kind of academic fatwa. Just kidding. I don’t worry about the critics; I publish what I’m compelled to publish, and if the people like it and it helps them in some small way, so much the better. It’s unbelievable how successful the other books have been not to mention my paranormal personal history class, which is now being offered twice a year. My radio show, Timeless Esoterica, is doing well and we’ve had many intriguing guests covering a wide range of topics. I’ve been interviewed on Coast to Coast AM and many other radio programs. I hope that someday my Timeless trilogy will be translated into other languages. None of this would mean anything if it were not for the fact that we’re helping people. My message is simple: Live forever and be the light. There is no reason to fear death because we’re timeless, and love is the most important force in the universe, and it’s forever. I’ve come to embrace having psychic medium abilities fully. One of the first things I learned was that it’s not about being right or wrong; it’s about helping—that is the first rule of mediumship. You can’t let your ego get in the way. I’m not special or better than anyone else; I’m just me. You must maintain humble confidence, which is no easy task for us mere mortals who tend to gravitate back and forth I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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from conceit to calamity. In other words, I have a gift but it’s not about me; it’s about the spirits and their loved ones. Timeless Trinity is aptly named because it’s the most spiritual book in the Timeless trilogy, referring to the Christian Godhead, and explores the three realities postulated by physicist David Bohm. In addition to my paranormal personal history, I’ll offer you, dear reader, direct communication that I’ve received from the spirit world and from extra-terrestrials that may be of some comfort. Dr. Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, wrote in Real Magic that: “The essence of magic boils down to the application of two ordinary mental skills: attention and intention. The strength of the magical outcome is modulated by four factors: belief, imagination, emotion, and clarity. That’s basically it. The ceremonial robes, somber settings, black candles, secret handshakes, chanting in ancient languages, sex, and drugs—all are good theater, which may help in withdrawing the mind from the distractions of the mundane world. But ultimately, they’re unnecessary.” I agree with sticking to the basics because the paranormal is quite normal, and the supernatural is quite natural. This brings me back to the point that I made before, in Timeless Deja Vu, quoting my departed friend Gene Thorkildsen, “Experiencing is believing and believing is experiencing.” For a person who hasn’t experienced, or better said, hasn’t acknowledged a paranormal event in their life, it’s easy to dismiss any notion of such strange things. However, not wanting something to be true, when it’s true, doesn’t make it go away, no matter how hard you try. When I was a young child, I often thought that 88 | UncagedBooks.com

maybe I’m living another life and that I had already died. In other words, reincarnation. Nobody taught me that. I felt it and thought it. I liked hanging out in graveyards. Nobody instructed me to do that. It was my own idea. This is just one of many of my childhood beliefs that have been validated and have played out. In my first two Timeless books, I discussed my childhood belief that we all lived in the belly of a giant. I think that conception helped me understand the interconnectedness and wonder of the universe. I’ve always allowed my imagination to guide me in exploring consciousness. My occasional startling sense of self-awareness is a reminder that I’m alive and connected to everything, all the time. The stories in this third Timeless book delve deeper into the paranormal and take you, dear reader, into brave new worlds of adventure and understanding. I deal more directly with alien life, for instance (one look at the cover and you know). It’s my understanding that we’ve been visited by aliens since the beginning of humankind. Alien activity has accelerated lately, and I’m not the only one to have noticed this. I realize that some folks might grudgingly accept that ghosts may indeed exist, or that telepathy is real, but they draw the line when it comes to aliens. It reminds me of the old trick played by intelligence agencies when they’re covering up their actions: don’t attack the message, attack the messenger. In other words, aren’t all people who have claimed to have seen UFOs or told stories of alien abduction crazy? You know, tinfoil hats and all? The simple answer is no, these people aren’t crazy, they’re telling the truth, and the truth has been covered up. I’m one of those people and belong to a group of other fearless, brave souls who have stepped forward. The group is known as CERO: Close Encounters Research Organization. As I wrote in Timeless Deja Vu, the process of disclosure reminds me of the words generally attributed to German philosopher Arthur Schopen-


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hauer. To paraphrase: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. So, what is the connection between ghosts and aliens? Well, since the spirit world is the quantum world, it makes sense that advanced alien beings would know this and operate in that realm, meaning that the spirit world, the alien world, and the quantum world are actually one. Dr. Edwin M. Young, a scientist who ran a psychic research lab at Stanford University in the 1970s, told me that matter vibrates constantly in and out of our reality. Matter is a condensed form of energy that is guided by mind focus and powered by spirit. I’m not a scientist, but this pretty much sounds like the unified theory of everything that scientists have been looking for. Could it be that we simply create our own realities? Affirmative. As children, we hadn’t yet learned the laws and social customs we were to obey. We observed everything around us without preconception and judgment. As we started school and learned society’s acceptable “truths,” our youthful, unfettered view of the world was channeled and shaped into acceptable ways of thinking. For instance, I had two “make-believe” playmates, John and Johnny. To me, as a young boy, they were real, as was my teddy bear and other stuffed animals. I also talked to animals, especially our cats. Slowly, I was convinced that they weren’t real and couldn’t speak and that if I persisted in acting as if they were communicating with me, people would think I was crazy and shun me and lock me away. Luckily, I pretended to follow society’s conventions but secretly held on to my childhood experiences and beliefs. That has made all the difference in my life. This book reaches further than the first two Timeless books. In so doing, I’ve taken more risks, and dared to present subjects that most academics would run from in horror, for to write about

them, is to “commit academic suicide” as one graduate student said. I believe in living life boldly and taking risks when the need arises and is justified. As Alfred, Lord Tennyson, wrote in his epic poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade: Forward the Light Brigade! Was there a man dismay’d? Not tho’ the soldier knew Some one had blunder’d: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die, Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. When Patrick Henry said: “Give me liberty or give me death,” he wasn’t kidding around. What is this life worth living for if you’re not living it free and truthfully? As my spirit guides so often tell me: “Stay in the light, feel the light, be the light.” So, my friends, it’s okay to be different, to think differently, and to live your own true, authentic life as you sense it in every possible way. To do otherwise is not to be honest. As we grow older, we come to realize that we’re all the heroes of our own life story and truly embrace the full meaning of Shakespeare’s words, “to thine own self be true.” Indeed, it comes down to this, I really don’t know my place, and neither should you.

I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author

Debra Jess


A

Connecticut Yankee transplanted to Central Florida, Debra Jess writes science fiction, romance, urban fantasy, and superheroes. She began writing in 2006, combining her love of fairy tales and Star Wars to craft original stories of ordinary people in extraordinary adventures and fantastical creatures in out-of-this world escapades. Her first published novel, Blood Surfer, has won the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award for Best Paranormal and Futuristic. Her follow-up novella, A Secret Rose, has won the Maggie Award & Golden Leaf Award for Best Novella. Her short stories have appeared in Heart’s Kiss Magazine and are also available at Curious Fictions. Debra is a graduate of Viable Paradise and is a member of Codex. She’s also a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Science Fiction Romance Brigade.

Enjoy an excerpt from: Blood Surfer

DEBRA JESS

Blood Surfer Debra Jess SciFi Superhero T he i r de s t i ny bl od.

Stay Co n n e c te d

deb r aj ess.com 92 | UncagedBooks.com

br ko e n body k i l l l i ne .

, he

H anh bl e w nya H av e n w eh n s he has a r e put ta i on f

w i nds c hanc

is w r itte ni n

W e l c om e t o St ar H av e n, w he r e t he pol i c e ar r e s t and i m pr i s on al t e r nat i v e hum ans , i f not e x e c ut e t he m o ut r i ght . W he n out l aw H an h Q ui n saves Officer Scott Grey’s life by bloodsurfing through his up on t he w r ong s i de of t he

e s eh had of e s c api gn St ar c osh e t o s av e Sc to t ’ s l i f e . Sc to t ro k i l l i ng A l t s i ns t e ad of ra r e s t -


| D E BR A J E S S | i ng t

he m . N wo t hat s he ’ s t r i ge r e d hi l i t y , he ’ s f or c e d t o og on t eh r un w c na br e ak ih s de s pi s e d A l t pow e r. abi

s od r m nta i t h he r ntu

A lt i l s he

pi c i on di e s har d af t e r a l i f e t i m e of c o ndi t i oni ng. Despite the threat to their lives, Hannah finds herself f al l i ng f or t he one m an s he c an’ t t r us t — a nd Sc ot t f al l s f or t h e w om an w ho de s t r oy e d hi s l i f e .

“Gunfire. Stay down.”

Sus

W i t h l o v e nda m al c an e ra n y our t e nuos ob dn be

DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:

i s t r u s t ta w ra i n a c i t y w he r e eb t r ay f r e e omd , w i l l H anh a dn Sc to t ’ s e nough t o s va e t he m ? Excerpt

“Hannah.” She tilted her head back just as Scott lowered his to place the mostgentle kiss he could manage on her lips. “Oh...” She didn’t sayanything further. Instead, she slipped her arm around his neck and pulled his head down toward hers. His plan to keep it slow and shortflew across the Bay with the breeze. He slid his arm down from hershoulders to her waist. “I think we should move,” he said, when she pulled back to catch her breath. “Good idea.” They stood up, pressed together since neither of them was willing to let go of the other. She giggled. “Do you want me to pick you up again?” “That would be romantic.” He curled his left arm around her legs. In the next instant, without warning, a familiar series of staccato pops erupted. One instinct overrode another. He shoved Hannah to the ground and covered her body with his. “Ow, Scott, not so fast...” I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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Uncaged Reviews Ponytails and Promises Annette Bower Contemporary Romance

Relic Blade Ben Zackheim Urban Fantasy C co k y v ma ip r e s , m y t hi c al s w or sd , s t e ady G l oc k s nda ghos t hor d e s . W e l c om

e tom

y w or l d.

T he v am pi r e s j us t w ko e up f r o m a y e ra s l um be r . B e f or e napt i m e t he y urb i e d t h e i r f or t une s ar ound t he w or l d. N ow t he y w ant t he i r hi d de n t r e as ur e s bac k . It’s my job to get to the relics first.

Emily Lange is a fourth-generation farmer with fields to seed, machinery to fix, grain to sell, and a lot to prove to a c om m uni t y w ho doubt s he r abi l i t i e s . B ut i n t he he ar t of t he C andi an pr ai r i e s , family always comes first. Her aging une ed m e nt i a i s w or s e ni ng, ne e ds c ons t ant s upe r v i m i l y i s f or c e d t o hi r e a c ar e gi v e r t o s e e t o hi s i ng s pr i ng s e e di ng.

10-

c l e , w osh s i on and E ne e ds urd

Uncaged Review: This is the first book in an established series, and it’s a pretty good start. I was on the fence for a while during the book, it had a lot of action, a lot of snark and some good characters – but it took some time to grow on me. What I really like, is the author takes mythical relics and figures and intertwines them throughout the book. I still have a lot of questions about Kane and his group – but I’m thinking it will come through in future installments.

Uncaged Review: Two dreams become one. A realistic and beautiful look at a family of farmers and the love and loyalty to each other. Emily is taking over the family farm, but it’s tough when she also has her older uncle with dementia to keep watch over. Emily hires her best friend’s brother Max, who is a nurse with a dream of his own. If you don’t know anything of a farming life, you will learn a lot in this book, of the struggles, the hard work, and the unique intelligence of a farmer’s life. It will also show you a realistic look of the progression of dementia, and the family that is devoted to each other. And if that’s not enough we find a love story.

This a non-stop action book and by the mid-point, it’s hard to put down. I like the strange group of characters and the original storyline. If you are a fan of urban fantasy, don’t give up on this book – keep going – it’s well worth the read. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

96 | UncagedBooks.com

Emily is outgoing and outspoken and Max is a bit more reserved, watching how the two navigate their growing attraction to each other, specially knowing Max will only be around for the planting and then he will move on to his new position. I went into this book with a bit of trepidation – as so many contemporary romances seem the same to me, but this one is a wonderful surprise and is highly recommended. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne


Star Kissed C.D. Gorri Shifter Romance W e l c mo e t o t eh W ra d e ns e l i t e rg oup of Z odi ca hiS t o s av e hum nka i nd!

The Soul Summoner Elicia Hyder Psychic Suspense of T e r r a, an f t e r s de s t i ne d

T he

H undso of G od hav e be e n di s bande d by t he C at hol i c C hur c h, l e av ing a terrible void in the fight to save h um ank i nd. A s a r e s ul t , a m uc h ol de r or gani z at i on r e t u r ns to power and takes up the reins to fight to save the Earth f r om t he e v i l t hat s t al k s i t . T he y ar e t he W ar de ns of T e r r a, an e l i t e f or c e of Z odi ac S hi f t e r s e ac h c ar r y i ng t he pow e r of t he i r s i gn t o ai d t he m i n t he ne v e r - e ndi ng bat t l e ag i ns t t he f or c e s of dar k ne s s .

Uncaged Review: This is short story intro into this shifter world. And it has a lot of potential, especially because of their training compound, and that they are “guardians.” This book does not get into any of that – it’s a short story on Isabella and Luis from childhood friends to destined mates and how it transpired. I would like to read more on this world, but this was a very rushed story that was once a part of an anthology. I am definitely on board to read more about this world even though this short story was not a great introduction. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

B l e s s e d or c ur s e d w i t h a c on ne c t i on t o t he s oul s of ot he r s , Sl oan J or dan c an s e e t he be s t i n pe opl e .and t he w or s t . W i t h not hi ng m or e t han a gl anc e at a phot ogr aph, s he c an j udge t he l i v i ng f r om t he de ad and t he god s oul s f r om t he e v i l one s . F or t w e nt y - s e v e n y e ar s , s he ’ s k e pt he r abi l i t y a s e c r e t , but e l e v e n y oung w o m e n hav e be e n m ur de r e d i n t he m ount ai ns of N or t h C ar o lina, and Sloan may be the only hope of finding t he i r k i l l e r . Uncaged Review: This book caught me right away – within the first chapter, and that doesn’t happen too often. I liked the concept of this world that is beginning to build with this book. Sloan can see if a soul is evil or good just by seeing them or even seeing a picture. She can also tell if the person is alive or dead from a photo. She also seems to be able to think about a person or say their name aloud, and the person seems to show up. She’s never told anyone about her abilities except her best friend, Adrienne. When Detective Nathan comes along, she slips up and she finally gives in and tells him. To her surprise, he doesn’t act like she’s a nut job. When attending a festival, she sees someone she can’t read, and that’s never happened to her in her life. When she finally finds him, they both find that they have many of the same abilities, only his tend to be on the darker side. I enjoyed the characters, and I didn’t mind the love triangle that really isn’t there, but I have my ideas on what/who both Warren and Sloan are – but I guess we will find out. The three of them, Sloan, Nathan and Warren are hunting a serial killer and some of it is a bit predictable, but it was a good ride getting there. I don’t know that I will continue with the series or not, time will tell – but I’d probably be more encouraged to if it was under Kindle Unlimited. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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Uncaged Reviews

I nat he

re ni

s hadow

i ny

s e sa r ne w “ nor al l y on t he s and s htg . Som e

Remembrance Heather Hildenbrand YA/Fantasy

Hellhound Blues Orlando A. Sanchez Urban Fantasy

A fte r al w ho t ak K ni ght I t ’s l i k e a nd bom fe re n t.

A hungr

ife e s i s af s he

i de t ow n, Sam m la ” o nl y t o di t abl e . N ot w he om e t h i ng’ s f ol t hi ng no t hum n.a

. She

tim no c r ai w

l e ra sc nm l ow

e sa a bads s r ap, Sam d of e v e r y t hi ng. ok e up one ayd ’ s j us t . . . di fns

t o c peo w ith ov e r nor m la i s n’ t nso t e r s l ru k i n t he i ng he r hom e at

Uncaged Review: In a supernatural world, Sam has lost her memories of a night 2 years ago, and since then she has bouts of times she doesn’t remember what happens. Afraid of almost everything, she tries to keep a low profile and works at a store called Oracle, selling metaphysical herbs and goods. The store is owned by a true oracle, but Sam doesn’t believe in any of it. She has no idea that she’s been stalked, until she runs into Alex. Alex is a Hunter, who takes out feral werewolves and is actually sick from a werewolf bite. With venom running through his veins, he’s losing strength and time, without a cure to be found. When Sam finally learns of the dangerous world she lives in, it will finally come down to her remembering what happened that night two years ago, but will it cure Alex or will it piece her back together again? I’m not telling, but this is a well written story with a couple good twists I didn’t see coming. This is a six book series, and all of them are released. Plenty of action, some suspense and some sweet moments. Well worth the time. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

98 | UncagedBooks.com

ous

he l l hound.

y he l l hound i

s a dange

W eh n t eh bond P e ac eh s s har w i t h Si m no i s i nt e r r upt e d, P e s k now s s om e t hi ng i s w r ong.

re s e ac h -

H e m us t l oc at e Si m on be f or e hi s body be gi ns t o e x pand. W i t h now he r e t o t ur n, P e ac he s v i s i t s t he i r ne w ne x t - dor ne i ghbor , C e c e l i a, an e i ght - y e ar - o l d i c e m age , and T r i s t an’ s ne w apr e nt i c e . C e c e l i a ’ s guar d i an, R ags , a G ar m r hound i nf or m s t he m t he y ne e d an experienced mage to help them find Simon. Uncaged Review: The fans of Peaches wanted a story centered around the hellhound, and Mr. Sanchez delivers with gusto! This is a fun short story with plenty of action and a story of substance you don’t often see with the short novellas. Simon and Peaches bond has been interrupted, and that only means trouble – for both. Peaches must enlist the help of Cecelia, the child ice-mage that is in training with Monty, her guardian (I’ll let you read about that little nugget) Rags, and a dragon, Frank. I laughed and cheered on Peaches and his “Brew & Chew” club, and it was a fun read. It will be a lot of fun to read more adventures from this little trio, and if that doesn’t get you, Peaches has a crush on Rags…..and remember – meat is life. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne


Too Wicked to Wed Tammy Andresen

Dragon Rising Linsey Hall

Historical Regency

Urban Fantasy

A r ka i s h l or d and a l de t t a … .

ady

w ith av e n -

Lady Caroline knows all about rakes. O ne r ui ne d he r af t e r al l . A l l ow a rake to kiss you once under a floweri ng p e ar t r e e , s ham e on hi m . B ut al l ow anot he r t o k i s s y ou be ne at h a f ul l m on of t he s um m e r s ol s t i c e , w e l l , s ham e on he r s e l f . She ’ s no t f al l i ng f or t hat sort of trick no matter how handsome Lord Marksman is or how al l u r i ng hi s s t r ong ar m s or how t e m pt i ng hi s ac h i ngl y w i c k e d l i ps ar e . C ar ol i ne ’ s l e ar ne d a f e w l e s s ons . I n f ac t , s he ’ s e v e n r e c or de d t he m i n a c hr on i c l e t o t e ac h t h e ladies of London how to avoid these very traps. But she c an’ t l e av e unt i l s he ’ s t aught M ar k s m an a l e s s on. A v e r y god one on how a ge nt l e m an ought t o t r e at a l ady …

Uncaged Review: Another great installment of the Chronicles of a Bluestocking series, and this time out we have Pierce and Caroline’s story and I think this is my favorite of this series so far. A great second chance romance and who doesn’t root for an underdog? I will admit I wanted to shake some sense into Caroline a couple times, but Pierce was a loyal and fierce friend and suitor, who never wavered. The one issue, and I’ve been seeing this too often for historical romances lately, is that the cover doesn’t match the characters at all. It really does bother me that the attention wasn’t paid to the book at all, although it’s a lovely cover. But it didn’t diminish the great story inside. Don’t let the page count on Amazon fool you, it’s 161 pages, not 21 as it’s marked. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

A c i us t he w he w be hi i ng, w one

ant

or

, t he

s upe hi c hoi

dar

k e s t f al l d, k own s w hat s m e — t o be ih t.H e ’ ll s c h l e av e s m e c e .

l e n an eg l i n I am . A nd s que e ,n t o t op at not h w i t h onl y

K i l l hi m . N ro m la l y , m y pr e y r un f r om m e . B tu he ’ s t he unth e r t o. W eh n he ed l i v e r s w or d of ih s pl na t o de s t r yo M agi c ’ s B e nd w i t h an e orn m ous s e r pe tn , i t ’ s obv i ous l y a t r ap m e ant t o e sn nar e m e . B tu e dge

I avh e no c oih c e . T o s av e m y t ow ,n I m su t s k i r t t he of ed at h. I m us t out r un hi m and out w i t hi m , ro w e w i l l al l l os e — uro omh e s , uro l i v e s . E v e r y t hi g.n

Uncaged Review: The fourth and final book in this series and it takes the finale to another level. With the dark fallen angel Acius, wanting to detroy Magic Bend, and Aeri to be his pawn – so the group will have to go big – or lose everything. This is a fantastic finale, the action is non-stop – sprinkled with humor and Declan and Aeri finally acknowledge their feelings to each other. This is a fitting conclusion to this series and I clung to the pages. Even though Aeri’s series is completed in this set, Mari’s story will continue on and I’m looking forward to staying in this world the author built a little bit longer. Re v i e w e d by C y r e ne

I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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Uncaged Reviews

e v e ot he t o he w i dow al l he ar ago ar nat

r oned .H e r m r m na s av e d he r he ra t . T hat e d, s he ’ s r e i t t ak e s i s one t t o r e al i z e t he e s t i l l t he r e e l y , hi s f e e l i ngs

ar

gl

ad

w

,s

Duchess of His Heart Collette Cameron Historical Regency

Wooed by a Wicked Duke Collette Cameron Historical Regency

H e nco e l ov e d he r e as n.o D ra e eh br e ak agi ?n

H e ’ s be t r ot he d.but w om na w oh hol

r eb y ond a ll r i s k he ra t -

Leaving her first love behind w as t he har de s t t hi ng R e gi n e , D uc he s s of H e ar t w ai t e , had r i age of c onv e ni e nc e t o an r f am i l y , e v e n as i t l a i d w as t e as y e ar s ago, how e v e r . N ow y t o be gi n he r l i f e ane w . B ut i m ps e of he r f or m e r s w e e t f e e l i ngs s he bur i e d s o l ong t r onge r t han e v e r . U nf or t u f o r he r a r e de c i de dl y c ol de r .

Uncaged Review: A wonderful second chance romance and a fitting story to this series and for James, who we met previously in the series and truly gives us insight on who James is and how he became the man he is. When the love of his life leaves him, marrying a Duke for convenience – James is heartbroken and throws himself into his work. But when Regine comes back to London, two years after her husband passes away – James has a hard time tamping down his feelings and when they continue to be invited to the same gatherings, avoiding her will be difficult. This is a sweet story of second chances and this author can draw in the reader from the very first pages. Even though this is part of a series and characters reoccur, they can be read as standalones and you won’t be lost. A charming story that historical romance readers will enjoy. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

100 | UncagedBooks.com

ds

not

t o t he hi s eh ar t

She

’ s ih di ng f r om t he pas t . H opi ng t o put t he s ham e of he r f a t he r ’ s di s gr ac e be hi nd h e r, J e s s ic a B r e nt w od i s de t e r m i ne d t o be t he e pi t om e o f de c o rum and propriety her first London Season. All is well unt i l s he ’ s di s c ov e r e d nak e d i n t he ar m s of a not or i ous r ak e , C r i s pi n, t he w i c k e d D uk e of B ai nb r i dge .

Uncaged Review: I was determined to catch up with this series, and I’ve almost accomplished that goal, even though it is not a hardship to read this author’s works. Each book can be read in any order or as a standalone, but the reader will want to read about the other characters that pop up in the books, I’m no exception. In this outing, Crispin, the Duke of Bainbridge has had a pre-arranged marriage since he was a young child, a very unwanted and unsuitable betrothal. The woman he has always admired from afar, is Jessica Brentwood. When a malicious couple plot against them, and leave them in a compromised position, all hell breaks loose. This is another wonderful book in the series, and I think that Crispin and Jessica are my two favorites so far in this series. I may say that often with this author, but she has a magical ability to endear her characters to the reader. This book went by so quickly, that I actually thought it was a novella, and it is not. That’s a pretty reliable sign of a good book. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne


His Fake Girlfriend Jolie Day

Gheist Richard Mosses

Contemporary Romance

Paranormal Suspense

A dru e y t hi kn s I ’ m eh r w or s t e ne m y . I ’ m bouta t o ac uiq r e eh r f am i l y bu s i ne s s . W e l l , I ’ v e got a s ol ut i on f ro he r . H e r c om pany i n e x c hange f or an ar r a nge m e nt . I need a fake girlfriend, and she fits the bill. O f c our s e , s he s ai d y e s t o t he de al . B ut w e ’ v e g ot s om e gr ound r u le s . N os e x . N o f al l i ng i n l ov e . I hav e a f e e l i ng t hat s he ’ l l br e ak t he s e bar r i e r s al l by h e r s e lf.

Uncaged Review: This is a fun book – and I’m always excited when I find a contemporary romance that I really like. They call this book an “enemies to lovers” and it was in a way, but not completely. I have to admit, for the first few chapters I wasn’t sure I was going to like the book, because Aaron is a complete jerk. He’s arrogant, cocky and treats his employees so badly, I’m surprised they still work for him. He has no friends and has never been in a relationship with a woman, he’s the love them and leave them kind. So I had my reservations on liking the book. But along comes Audrey, who works for a competing company and a good suspenseful plot line that I only guessed half of. We see growth and likability in Aaron that was because of his relationship with Audrey, who makes him a better man. Well worth the reading time, and even though I would have liked to see them out more together and explore how they got to where they were by the end of the book, it still worked. The point of view switches from chapter to chapter between Audrey and Aaron, which is the best way to work these type of narratives, in my opinion R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

c r e w of c r i m s t age m agi c s he s e t s on a que he ar t . B ut w ho i s w w hat w as t ak

i nal i an M

After losing a card game to Las V e gas gans t e r D ant on, K a t M c K ay i s k i dnape d, and he r he ar t r e m ov e d f r om he r c he s t . B i z ar r e l y , K at w ak e s up w itha ne w f ound pow e r : s he c an s e e t he de ad. T oge t he r w i t h a m ot l e y hosg t s , i nc l udi ng m obs t e r C l i nt , e l c hi or and hi t m an J ac k T he K ni f e , s t t o r e s t or e t he i r f r e e dom - and he r

or t hy of e n f r om

he r t r us t , and c he r ?

an s

he

r e gai

n

Uncaged Review: This book has a good original premise, but it fell a bit flat for me. The first 30% of the book seemed pretty promising, but then it went a little bland until we got toward the end. The whole “gheist” (a heist with the help of ghosts) is a very fun idea, and this book missed so many opportunities of hilarity and fun. The action scenes didn’t hit as well as they could have. I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t love it either – but I could have. I think I actually liked some of the ghosts more than I liked Kat. I think the author could have had a great story on his hands had he developed the humor and the tension a little bit more. Re v i e w e d by C y r e ne

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101


Uncaged Reviews

i s f e ar r e v e al t he har t he e y

f ul

e .d T de e of

Highland Mists Hildie McQueen Historical Highlands

Curse Me Beautiful Marie Bradford Paranormal Romance

I f ih s t r ue i de nt i t y i s di s c ov e r e d he w i l l hang.

I t ’ s T he O f W i z ar be boy s t ur ne d i

W he n v i s i t or s f r om Sk y e ar r i v e t o t he s m al l v i l l age of M or i ag, P ade n F r as e r t hat t he s e c r e t s f r om hi s pas t w i l l be he m or e he t r i e s t o hi de f r om t he t r u t h, r i t be c om e s , e s pe c i al l y w he n he c at c he s t he v i s i t i ng l ai r d’ s daught e r.

Uncaged Review: Paden makes his living as a blacksmith in the village of Moriag. Paden has kept his identity secret, knowing if his true identity is revealed, he could be sentenced to death. Emma, who was betrothed to a man who was killed, comes to the village, she is taken with Paden from the first look, but she can only mean trouble for Paden. This book kept me engaged, and I enjoyed the characters, but some of it felt a bit rushed. Since it was a shorter book, it wasn’t able to flush out the characters as well as I would have liked. And the suspense involving Paden and his secrets were pretty easy to figure out from the start. All-in-all, the book was engaging and even though there weren’t too many surprises, I enjoyed the story and love when authors include an epilogue. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

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G r e at D r az i n S c hol dr y , w eh r e oyb s w i l l . U nl e s s t hat i s , t he y ’ r e nt o a gi r l.

M e , M at t H al l ow s - - k i ng of t he s c hol , al l - s t ar at hl e t e , and bi g gest guy on campus--is now a five foot nothing, blubbe r i ng m e s s of f e m al e hor m one s . A l l t hank s t o A l i s t ar C r ow , t he ac ade m y ’ s gol de n boy ge ni us and budi ng nar c i s s i s t . Uncaged Review: When I first started reading this, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book much, there was way too much testosterone flowing – with arrogant sports players in a wizard school. It was a bit strange, that there wasn’t a whole lot of magic in the book, and I never got a sense of what all the students of this boy’s school had an affinity with. I just knew that Matt was an all-star athlete, popular, arrogant with anger issues and his friends, and then there is Alistar, the resident genius – and enemy it seems to Matt. But all my trepidation for this story was tossed out the window as soon as Alistar curses Matt into being a girl. The hilarity and fun begins and it doesn’t slow down. There is quite a bit of swearing and a couple good hot sex scenes to top it all off. But there are some good lessons in this book, and Matt, his/her friends and Alistar will all grow and learn. And believe it or not, it has a HEA. So if you like a book that’s different, can entertain you and make you laugh out loud, then this may be a good choice. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne


Must Keep You Deborah Garland

Ride or Die Lily Wallis

Contemporary Romance

Contemporary MC Romance R i de unc

or

on di s mo e one i ng s o m f ai l o r s pl aus i bl

D i e , t he t i onal ac , no que e one ’ s bac uc c e e d. I e ?

ul t i m ta e bond, t t of be i ng t he r e s t i ons sa k e d, hav k no m ta t e r i f s i t pos s i lb e ? I s

he

f or

t he y it e ls e .

W eh n be s t f r i e nds pl ay j us t t he t i p, s e x y - t i m e ge t s out of c ont r ol , and a casual fling turns serious and complicated. Now Lily i s pr e gnat w i t h a bi l l i onai r e ’s bay . N o pr obl e m , unt i l C a r t e r ’s f at he r t r i e s t o m ar r y hi m of f t o

W ath i f t he pe r s on be c om e s unr e c ogni z abl e , or y ou f e e l yourself die in the process? Is there an invisible fine line, a nd i f s o, w he r e do y ou dr aw i t ?

s om

e one

N ot

s o f as t .

Uncaged Review: Ride or Die, the words that signify one of the most sacred bonds in the MC world. This is a pretty quick story, some of it felt a bit rushed especially at the end. The characters were a bit one dimensional and could have been flushed out better. I enjoyed the story, but the story switches from Brooke’s point-of-view to Hawk’s, and that can be confusing as it is mostly from chapter to chapter, but it’s not marked, so a couple times it threw me off. Brooke is the straight laced girl with a great family, and Hawk is the classic guy from the wrong side of the tracks that had the crappy childhood and his whole life was changed by the motorcycle club he belongs to, a club that gave him a family he never had.

Uncaged Review: The great story of friends to lovers. It doesn’t always work out that way, and Lily and Carter are from very different worlds, and this story is a heartwarming and toe curling that will make you laugh at the same time. I liked the slow burn as it ramps up the intensity of who will crack first. The characters are well rounded, and the plot line moves smoothly from scene-to-scene. This was an enjoyable read from start to finish and you will want to keep reading to see how this all ends. Re v i e w e d by C y r e ne

All in all, this is an entertaining read, although it seems it may have been the debut book by this author, and I think this author will get better and better as the foundation is there. This is dialog driven story and it would have benefitted from better world building which is not as easy when you write in the first person narrative, but I would definitely be onboard to read more from this author. R e v i e w e d by C y r e ne

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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Stitches Steven Stacy & Kevin J. Kennedy Noir Crime/Horror T rh e e c apt i v at i ng m ode l s a r e s t al k e d t hr ough t he f as ih on c api t al s of E ur ope by a s e l f m ut i l at i ng k i l l e r w ho w ant s t o ge t unde r t he i r s k i n. I n t hi s ni ne t i e s , ne o- noi r style, erotically charged thriller, Olivia Leadoux is a gor ge ous H i t c hc oc k i an bl onde be i ng s t al k e d by a de r ang e d m adm an nam e d ‘ St i t c he s .’

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I feel like I should warn readers. I had a book hangover for a week after reading this book. I fell into it hard and fast. Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading. And for at least a week after, I kept thinking about all the different aspects and the “what-ifs”. I didn’t love the characters, which made everything that happened that much easier to be ok with so to speak. And when I say I didn’t love them I mean their personalities we kind of awful. They seemed like shallow people and the kind of person I want nothing to do with. I don’t mean they were written badly. They were written exactly who they were, so it was hard for me to feel sorry for any of them. I’ve not read anything by Steven Stacy before, but I’ve read a lot of Kevin J. Kennedy’s stuff. Stitches ranks right up there at the top of my list of not only favorite Kennedy stories, but of stories in general. They did a great job with it and I look forward to reading more work by Steven. I’ve been in a bit of a book slump lately. Very little has been holding my interest for long. I loved how it wasn’t full of filler scenes “setting

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the mood”, etc. So often I find myself bored and skimming that kind of stuff. They did a great job of getting right to the point and staying there.


Exorcism: The Ravencrest Saga Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross Occult/Horror I t ’ s s pr i ng t i m e at R av e nc r e s t M an or . F l ow e r s ar e bl o m i ng, B e l i n da i s s e e t hi ng, and an i nv i s i bl e l ov e r c e l e br at e s t he R i t e s of Spr i ng w ith any one , w i l l i ng or not . W i t hi n t he m ans i on, t he s c e nt of v i ol e t s pe r v ade s t he ai r , and i n he r r o om , B e l i nda s e e s t he be aut i f ul ghost of Violet LeBlanc - the White Violet - a silent screen s t ar w ho m ar r i e d a M ani ng and l os t he r l i f e t o t he M a n ni ng C ur s e . T he s am e c ur s e t hat has c aus e d E r i c M an i ng t o w i t hdr aw f r om B e l i nda.

in the destruction of the Manning family. Which isn’t surprising. It’s actually gross in a way, but I’ll leave it at that. I enjoyed getting to know Father Alejandro a bit more. He seems like a cool guy. Ravencrest Exorcism is another piece of the Ravencrest mystery. I feel like it’s like having 5 big puzzles to put together to see the final picture. Each puzzle has its own importance but is a picture in and of itself. Thorne and Cross have never failed me. They give me stories I fall in love with that keep me on the edge of my seat. Wanting more, but afraid of what’s next. If you haven’t read the Witches of Ravencrest, do so. It’s worth your time and such a great story to get lost in. It leads up to Exorcism and good lord does that family need an exorcism.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Just when you think everything in Ravencrest will calm down, Thorne and Cross come out with another part of the story. And as usual, this one will have you in its grip within just a few pages. The usual list of characters is there: Belinda, Eric, Grant and Cordelia as well as Justine, Violet, Henry and a few others who each play their own important part. I’ve grown to love (or hate) these characters as if I know them personally. It’s actually kind of bittersweet because as a reader, you can see aspects of their lives they can’t, and it’s frustrating. I just want Belinda and Eric to be together and happy with Grant and his husband Riley, living their best and doing their part to keep the Manning’s safe. I want Cordelia to quit being such a manipulative witch. One thing I’ve enjoyed about this part of the Ravencrest Saga is that we are given more info about Violet Manning. I had always wondered what her story was and I feel like I got it in Exorcism. Opposite of the good of Violet, Justine is playing her role to usher

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105


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Red Eye Season 2 Claire C. Riley & Eli Constant Post-Apocalyptic A z mo ib e bl od t he l l ! *P r e s um e d s af e r nm e nt c am p pr poundi ng pr obl gr oup— e s pe c i al continues to battle her affliction. **

e s t?B

l ody

e t y i n a gov e s e tn s he ar t e m s f ro t he l y Sam , w ho

When Rose and Sam find themselves in a military c am p s ur r ounde d by ot he r s ur v i v or s , t he y hav e no i de a t h at t he dar k e s t day s ar e y e t t o c om e . R so e , f e e l i ng m ro e hom e f or gui ancd e . W i t h he r pl not hi ng utb a pi ep dr e ma s he c on t e m pl at e s t he bl e

s i c k t han e v e r , l ok s t o N lo an ans fo s e e i gn t h e w or l d no w and he r par e nt s l i k e l y de ad, ak f ut ur e hea da of eh r .

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: My reviews of this series are getting increasingly difficult to write. I feel like I’m repeating myself because each book is as good, or better, than the last. With each episode, we get deeper and deeper into the apocalypse. We are getting more and more background on the characters and the situation. Some of the characters have turned out to be exactly the opposite of who I thought they were, both good and bad. These authors really know how to keep their readers on their toes. Just when you think you know what’s going on, something happens to throw you for a loop. Its both exciting and exhausting but well worth it. Two of the four episodes in this season are written by soley one main character. Epsiode 2 is from Rose’s perspective and episode 3 is from Sam’s.

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The last episode is both of their perspectives. I thought this was in interesting way to do it since they’ve been separated. I like that I was able to focus on one character or the other for an episode. I’m still not sold on Barrett, but I guess we will just have to wait and see how it goes. My only complaint is the same thing it is with every book I read by these authors. None of the episodes are long enough for me, just as none of their books are long enough either. This is primarily because I get so wrapped up in their stories I just want to keep reading, even after they’ve finished writing. My main complaint is this, I really did not like the way it ended. I felt there should have been a little bit of something more, but that is the nature of a cliffhanger I suppose. It seemed like the story just stopped. Like you should have been able to turn the page and continue reading that scene, or just more of the story. I didn’t feel like there was any sort of conclusion to that part of the story.


Tortured Dreams Hadena James Seriel Killers/Horror A is linC A Se r i al W eh n t C r im e i ng at gi v e n a c s av e to he r pe plo e ’ s f ut ur e s . She t w o id f f e r e n t s e r i al k i l l e r s and de t eh dar k e r s i de of hum an hi s A en h is w or r is k a f f or h um

w k i l l e r i s su i ng m v i c t i m s . She c an gi l d, but not w i t hout s f al l i ng i nt o t eh de d t o he l p, k now i ng t ani t y ?

e di v e ac pt

ai ’n s l i f e i s a hor K i l l e r T hr i l l e r he

U SM s T r ac k A is linC hanc has v ot t or y .

e v al t he m os t . I hs of ha t t he

ar s hal

r or

s eS r i al i ng U ni t c om e s k ai n’ s dor , s he e t o us e he r pas t s ur v i v e d at t ac k s e d he r l i f e t o s t udy

s t or y -

noc

is to by

k -

i ng

t or t ur e m e t hods t o s l ay a gl i m ps e i nt o hi s t w i s t e d f s he peo ns eh r s e l f , s he he r ow n dar k ne s s . C an s he c os t c oul d be he r ow n

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: If you love serial killers and/or medieval torture history, you might love this book as much as I did. It combined 2 of my favorite things to read about into one fantastic story. This book had my attention from the get-go. The synopsis sounded pretty good, but with many books of this nature, it’s usually hit or miss as far as quality. I wasn’t disappointed with Tortured Dreams as I have been with others. The material is interesting and accurate for the most part. I love that the main character is a sociopath. I think it makes the story more believable. Each of the characters has their own quirks and that gives the story even more depth, which I appreciated. I would like to have known more about a few of them, but I’m hoping future books will give the glimpses I’m looking for. I wouldn’t say everything is perfect. A few things are quite a bit far-fetching, but I don’t read fiction for it to be 100% plausible. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the creativity involved. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Tulum Takedown Jeanine Kitchel Crime Action A j our nal i s t . A m i s s i ng gi r l. A fatal deadline. Layla Navarro, n e w he ad of M e x i c o’ s m os t p ow e r f ul c ar t e l , k now s s om e t i m e s e v e n dr ug l or d s ne e d t o r un f or c ov e r . H i di ng out in M e x i c o C i t y af t e r he r dar i n g as s as s i nat i on of a c ar t e l r i v al , Layla is searching for a safe place to land until t he r uc k us di e s dow n . Amy’s Review: Magnificent and thrilling Kitchel pens a magnificent second story in Tulum Takedown, which is book two in the Wheels Up series. I loved the first book, and dare I say, I liked this one even more. The characters were intriguing and interesting. There is a great chemistry between the characters, and a depth that makes them realistic and flawed. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. Tulum Takedown is a definite attention grabber. This story was intriguing and kept the reader guessing. Even when I read for the author repeatedly, I go in without any expectations. I loved being surprised in a story, and being so engrossed, I put others aside until I finish, and this was one of those stories. Layla is one of those unforgettable characters, and if there is more by Kitchel, I will read it. Kitchel has found a fan in me. The writing is wonderfully detailed and shows the author’s talent for storytelling. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

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The Prince’s Oath A. Leroy & Mohammad Wali Historical Romance F r om A f ghani s t an — A T i m e l e s s Tale of Love and Betrayal A n i noc e nt m na m us f r e e dom , an i noc e nt y i e l d he r v i r gi ni t y , i n t i onal t al e f r om na e r

t lo s gi r l t hi s a of

e ih s m us t t r adi k i ngs .

F r om bandi t at t ac k s i n a f or e s t t o t r e ca h e r ous lp to s ta c our t , l vo e w i l l unde r go m any t r i al s w i t h A l l ah’ s eh l ,p e v e n i f i t c mo e s i n t he f or m of a c he e k y l i t t l e m ous e ! Amy’s Review: Magnificent As always, I was not disappointed by LeRoy’s work. He has a very prolific lyrical and yet grand storytelling ability that is unlike any I have ever read (or listened to, and yes, if it is one of his audiobooks, it should definitely be listened to as well). As you can tell, I am a big fan, not just because I think his writing style and technique is a definite lost art, but how the story is told. It is always interesting, and intriguing to read LeRoy’s work, and The Prince’s Oath was a very enduring and unique story, taking place, in a time long ago, but the tale could be as old as time. Mix romance, ancient, extremely ancient history with romance, betrayal, love and strength. The author’s technique of intense characters and great plotlines is a gift. The story is intense, and the dialogue perfect for its place in time. asylum. “I don’t care if the lunatics kill me,” [the princess] told herself. “If my true husband is not there, or he is dead, it’s better to die at their hands than suffer a living death if I go back.” It’s grand story that keeps me reading from beginning to end, and looking forward to more work by LeRoy. This book is highly recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.


Shundra Henderson Thorns and Roses Annette Whitaker-Moss Women’s Fiction “ I ’ v e c om e a l ong w ay , and t hat ’ s put t i n g i t m i l dl y ,” s ay s Shundr a H e nde r s on, a be aut i f ul y oung l ady r e m i n i s c i ng ov e r l i f e ’ s ups and dow ns , w hi l e adm i t t i ng t hat he r struggles were real. Like many others with some of the s am e s t r ugl e s , Shundr a has s e c re ts . Amy’s Review: R e m ar k abl e r e ad Whitaker-Moss pens a remarkable story in Shundra Henderson, Thorns and Roses. Shundra Henderson is one incredible character, and I thoroughly enjoyed her story. There is a strength yet rawness about this story, intertwined with life’s ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs, and overcoming overwhelming odds. A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. An inspiring story. The title drew me in, but the story made me stay. The author’s technique of intense characters and great plotlines is a gift. This author is not just a writer but a great storyteller. I am a big fan of this author, and will read whatever is written with this author’s pen. I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

Rocket’s Red Glare Cy Stein Historical Fiction R oc k e t ’ s R e d G l ar e i s an a lte r nat e hi s t or y nov e l s e t i n N e w Y or k C i t y , 194. F D R i s de ad and t he U S i s fascist. Charles Lindbergh is pr e s i de nt and J os e ph P . K e n en dy i s T r e as ru y Se c r e t ar y . F r e d T r um p i s M ay or fo N e w Y or k . O l i gar c hs and pl ut oc r at s hav e t he rp e s i de nt i al e ar . Amy’s Review: Magnificent read! St e i n pe ns a r e m ar k abl e s t or y i n R oc k e t ’ s R e d G l ar e : A W W I I E r a A l t e r nat e H i s t or y N ov e l . I hav e n’ t r e ad any t hi ng f r om t hi s aut hor be f or e , and I r e al l y e nj oy e d t hi s s t or y . T he c har ac t e r s w e r e i nt e r e s t i ng and v e r y i nt r i gui ng. I l i k e d t he “ r e w r i t e ” of hi s t or y i f G e r m any w on W W I I .I t ’s a uni que pe r s pe c t i v e , and obv i ous l y an al t e r nat e v e r s i on of hi s t or y . W hat m ak e s i t s o i nt r i gui ng i s t hat t he aut hor s how s w hat c oul d’ v e hape ne d, i f t he e v e nt s i n hi s t or y w as di f f e r e nt . T he aut hor ’ s writing style is freeflowing and very strong. This aut hor br i ngs t he s t or y t o l i f e . T he s t or y br i ngs i n t he be l i e v abl e , e v e n i f al m os t i m pos s i bl e . T hi s bok de s e r v e s a s e c ond r e ad! ( and m ay be m or e ) . T hi s aut hor i s not j us t a w r i t e r but a gr e at s t or y t e l l e r . T he t hr i l l s and i nt r i gue i s w r i t t e n c l e ar l y and the characterizations are engrossing. Love t hi s s t or y . St e i n has gai ne d a ne w f an i n m e . I l ok f or w ar d t o r e adi ng m or e by t hi s aut hor . T hi s bok is a definitely a high recommendation by Amy’s B ok s he l f R e v i e w s .

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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Rise of the Rays Wes Markin Crime Fiction T he y s ay doe s n’ t tw ic e .H W i l t s hi r t r ue .

i l y ’ s l e acg y , he t hougt oneg .

t hat

l i ght ni gn s t r i k e t he s am e pl ca e wo t he pe opl e fo e w i s he d t hat w e re

W he n P ula R ay ed c i de s t o bur n dow n hi s e v i l f am f la l s i nt o t he c l ut c he s of t hos e eh

Amy’s Review: A not he r F ant as t i c M i c hae l Y or k e I am a big fan of the Michael Yorke series, and this book, Rise of the Rays, volume four does not disappoint. Markin creates characters who are relatable, and definitely not perfect. This author brings the story to life. I love the imperfect, flawed characters, and the journey to save the day, or at least save someone from evil. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages. A definite attention grabber. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly and the characterizations are engrossing. Love this story. If you love a good psychological thriller, this book should be next on your list (as well as the ones that come before it.) I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews

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Jillian Dangerous and the Peculiar Adventure Ruthie Davis Children’s Time Travel

e ra en d w and Sam l oc at i on i

A l l J i l l i an C as s i dy e v e r w as an e x c i t i ng adv e nt ur s he ne v e r e x pe c t e d one l i k e t hi s . A f t e r be i ng bul J i l l i an i s s e nt t o he r t o he m om ’ s ol d boar di ng s c hol U pon ar r i v al , he r ni c k nam he n s eh and he r r om m at e s , M e g, Sadi ar e t hr ow n bac k i n t i m e t o t he s c hol n 1965 V i e t nam .

w nta e d e . B ut qui t e l i e d, r . e is e , ’ s ol d

Amy’s Review: E ngai ng Davis pens a remarkable story in Jillian Dangerous and the Peculiar Adventure. I haven’t read anything from this author before, and I really enjoyed this work. The characters were incredible and very developed. They fit in the story perfectly, even when they were transported back in time. The author’s writing style is engaging and definitely fits this story. This author brings the story to life. There is a great chemistry between the characters, and a depth that makes them realistic and flawed. The story brings in the believable, even if almost impossible. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more).A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. This story was intriguing and kept the reader guessing. I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is highly recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.


Jillian Dangerous and the Extraordinary Secret Ruthie Davis Children’s Time Travel J i l l i an C as s i dy m ay hav e de f e at e d one c hal l e nge but now she must find a time warp out of boar di ng s c hol i n 1965 V ie tnam . T he w ar i s f as t adv anc i ng and i n a s hor t t i m e t he e nt i r e s c hol w i l l be e v ac uat e d f or e v e r . B e f or e t hat hape ns s he and he r r om m at e s M e g, Sadi e and Sam ar e i n a r ac e trying to find a portal back to the future in numerous w ay s – one w i t h ne ar c at as t r ophi c r e s ul t s . Amy’s Review: A magnificent sequel Davis pens a wonderful story in Jillian Dangerous and the Extraordinary Secret. I have read the previous book in this series, and I really enjoyed it, and this one was enjoyable as well. There is a great chemistry between the characters, and a depth that makes them realistic and flawed. This author’s characters develop and interacts well with the other characters. I have fast become a big fan of Davis. The author’s technique of evolving, realistic characters and great plotlines is a gift. Love this story. Jillian Dangerous is a great character, and if the author writes more about her, I will definitely read it. Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages. I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

That Night Azaaa Davis Urban Fantasy A l l N adi r a H ol de n w ant s i s t o pr e s e r v e t he l as t of he r s oul and c r e at e a ne w l i f e f r e e of m agi c , de m ons , and w ar . H e r i nv ol unt ar y b ond w i t h a s uc c ubs m ak e s he r de s i r e s i m pos s i bl e . T he t hr e at of t hi s di s gr unt l e d de m on pos s e s s i ng he r ur ge s Nadira to find the succubus’s missing body. Amy’s Review: I nt r i gui ng Davis pens an incredible story in That Night, the second book in the Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter series. I’ve read book one, and enjoyed it. This is another great story, and I enjoyed how Nadira intended to live a so-called normal life. The characters were remarkable and interesting. This author brings the story to life. The details in the story telling and making Nadira and her battles pull the reader in. The demons aren’t just against her, but her ideas and wants to keep what little soul she has left, brings on another journey. The author’s technique of intense characters and great plotlines is a gift. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. This author’s characters develop and interacts well with the other characters. “Without laying a finger on him, Nadira walked away. She rolled her eyes at his sloppy attempt to attack her. The demon was blinded by his ego and subdued by his own haste. She was so close to the curb— already looking both ways for oncoming traffic— when she heard something whipping through the air from behind her.” I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

I ssu e 4 5 | A p r i l 2 0 2 0 |

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