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ISSUE 29 | December 2018

from the

editor’s desk

the holiday season.

Welcome to Issue 29, December 2018 - Uncaged Book Reviews! Our Feature Authors this month are R.J. Blain, Jacqui Nelson, Deborah Garland, Linda O’Connor, Annabelle Anders, Becky Lower, Melanie Robertson-King & Engy Neville, as we celebrate

FangFreakinTastic is also bringing us a two features with authors Richard Farsi & Carrie Pack. We have plenty of reviews for you to look over from Uncaged, Fang-Freakin-Tastic, Myra’s Horror Blog, Amy’s Bookshelf & Jen’s Reviews. Thanks to all the affiliates for the wonderful devotion to reading. Authors can now submit a Short Story, and in return, I’ll give space for either a full page ad, or a 1-page Sneak Peek of a book for an approved story. You can read more about that here.

are closed to new submissions. If you want to submit a book, it will be held until the lists open again. Tier 1 review lists will remain open. Because of this backlog, books that are reviewed for feature authors will be placed in the Uncaged review section of the magazine, and although the author needs to be willing to allow Uncaged to review a book to become featured, the review is not a requirement within the feature itself. This is to attempt to clear up the long review submission lists.

All inquiries: or I want to wish everyone a wonderful season. There will be some changes to Uncaged in 2019 that are pretty exciting, finding new ways to promote even more authors, so stay tuned next month as I’ll give you a rundown. Until next month - keep reading! ~Cyrene Check out some of the awesome changes coming to Uncaged in 2019 on page 00

Uncaged Feature Author slots are now full through December 2018! Watch for when Uncaged opens slots for 2019 sometime in November. The Featured Authors that are promoted in Uncaged, is a FREE service to authors. The only requirements being that Uncaged has read at least one of the author’s books, (can be read right before the feature) and that I ask that the authors share the magazine with their networks. Read about that HERE. Uncaged is supported through advertising, both in the magazine, and on the site. Please see the Advertising tab on the site for more information on how you can advertise in the magazine and support the Uncaged mission to promote authors. Still ongoing, Tier 2 review submissions in Uncaged 2|


Issue 29 | December 2018


10 22 28 34 40 46 52 58

R.J. Blain

Jacqui Nelson

Linda O’Connor


featureauthors 64 68

Annabelle Anders Deborah Garland

Carrie Pack

Richard Farsi

Becky Lower

promospecials 4

2019 Promotion Special

Engy Neville


Reviewer Bonus

Melanie Robertson-King

upcomingconventions a convention near you and meet 6 Find your favorite authors. Happy Holidays from Uncaged Book Reviews

2 5 72 80 84 88 92

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

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


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

Blog Roll Call

Contributors, Advertising Swaps

Follow Uncaged on Facebook

Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.

A blog for horror fans. Uncaged review contributors.

A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.

Help for authors and businesses.

If you’d like your banner here, please email me at Issue 29 | December 2018 |



Wild Wicked Weekend February 21-24, 2019 San Antonio, Texas

Coastal Magic Convention February 28-March 3, 2019 Daytona Beach, Florida

Southwest Florida Reading Festival March 2, Ft Myers, FL

Tucson Festival of Books March 2-3, Tucson, AZ

Dayton Book Expo April 27, Dayton, OH

Apollycon March 21-24, 2019 Washington, D.C. Southern Kentucky Book Fest April 26-27, Bowling Green, KY

Virginia Festival of the Book March 20-24, Charlottesville, VA 6| |

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

feature authors

urban fantasy | historical western

R.J. Blain

Jacqui Nelson

feature author RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning. When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied. Reading is as important to RJ as writing. Here are some of her favorite authors in no particular order: Mercedes Lackey, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Madeline L’Engle, Anne McCaffrey, Lois McMaster Bujold, Grace Draven, Julia Kent, and Jenn Stark. RJ Blain also writes dystopian science fiction (with a touch of odd humor) under the name of Trillian Anderson and urban fantasy / paranormal romance under the name of Susan Copperfield. USA Today Bestselling Author.

10 |

Please welcome R.J. Blain Uncaged: Last year, I read one of your books, Playing with Fire, and I truly enjoyed the humor you infuse throughout your books. Can you tell readers more about the series you have ongoing? Thank you for having me! I’m so glad you enjoyed Playing with Fire. Originally, I wrote it to help cheer up one of my friends, Diana Pharaoh Francis. (She’s an author, too, and she wrote one of my favorite trilogies, the Path books.) I have a bit of a reputation for writing all over the place, so I have several series in the works, but I have two that are the most popular, and the magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books reign over them all. The series is an odd one; the characters will ultimately connect in strange and interesting ways, but most of them stand alone, with world building elements being passed on from title to title. But, since you liked Playing with Fire… Bailey and Quinn will be coming back soon in Burn, Baby, Burn; I’ve already begun writing the book and have it around a quarter of the way drafted! It’ll release sometime in early 2019 at the rate I’ve been working on it. I’m really excited about it. In a nutshell… the crazy pyromaniac meat-eating unicorn will be going on a road trip with Perky’s wife, whom is saddled with the name of Perkette. Poor Quinn has his hands full containing the Calamity Queen’s destructive tendencies while playing a rather amusing

game of interstate chase with his wife.

play is fairly self-contained.

(And poor, poor Perky, once again brought along for the ride…)

But, for those who do want a little to work with, here’s a quick guidebook to the series:

Let’s just say shenanigans will ensue.

Magic is almost anything goes with a few caveats; don’t screw around with death. Life costs more than ‘life for a life.’ (If you like books about death and magic, Whatever for Hire is probably up your alley. Satin, also known as the devil, has taken it upon himself to make the main character’s life rather interesting. I mean, it’s her own fault. She’s the one who mouthed off to the devil.)

Honestly, with that series, it’s mostly about me just having fun in new, interesting, and odd ways, and I love bringing my readers along for the ride. And since I do have other stuff in the works, my Royal States series (written as Susan Copperfield) is closer to a more traditional paranormal romance series with magical royalty. Let’s just say I’m totally biased as a writer and I’ll keep writing Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books until I either run out of ideas or someone beats the humor out of me. (I just don’t see that happening while I’m still breathing.) Uncaged: By the time this issue is published, you will have released a holiday themed novel within a series called Blending In. Will people be able to read this story without reading the rest of the series? Absolutely! Each book in the series is mostly meant to stand alone, although the ‘rules’ of the world are built on with each title. Blending In is really friendly for new readers to the series, as the magic that is brought into

Lycanthropes aren’t all wolves, but the infection/ disease was named after the first known species, wolves. It’s an incurable disease with a lot of benefits. Most of the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) novels include references to the lycanthropes. Let’s just say the infection has become rather widespread. Neutralizer is pretty fun. It’s pink, it shimmers, and it can cure most ailments with a few limitations. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) is the major organization in the book, and it’s a global controlling power. The CDC allies itself with organizations like the FBI for law enforcement and the research and control of all things magical. Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | If I destroy a car in a brutal, terrible, and hilarious ways, chances are, I really like that model of car. Often, I will include Easter eggs in my books about things I enjoy, usually by destroying them or having them cause significant amounts of mayhem! (See: cats.) I recommend you buckle in, sit tight, and enjoy the ride. I love, love, love worldbuilding in this series because anything goes—with a few rules I keep close to my heart and written down in a rather hefty binder. Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about? With Cheetahs Never Win coming out on December 7, 2018, my schedule has become rather chaotic but in a good way. I have several new books in the pipelines. As I mentioned earlier, Burn, Baby, Burn will release in early 2019 sometime. I’m really ridiculously excited to bring Bailey and Quinn back for everyone. Steel Heart, the second Jesse Alexander book, is also in the pipeline. But I think the book I’m most excited about is called Blood Bound, and it’s my first foray into vampire protagonists.

Well, let’s just say now is a good time to insert a weak yet slightly crazed laugh here… (P.S.: Grave Humor: A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) is my birthday book for next year, releasing on May 16, 2019. It includes dogs, undead, and my favorite of all, shenanigans!) Why yes, one of my favorite words is shenanigans. How did you guess? I’m also a fan of defenestration. Uncaged: What advice would you give new authors? Please don’t give up. Writing is hard. It’s so, so hard. But if you sit down and do it, you can get there. It just takes a lot of time. It took me over a decade to get anywhere with my writing, and I wasn’t very good at sitting down and being a writer. Now it’s my day job, and while I’m known to work 10-15 hour days, it’s been worth it. Even a few minutes a day can end with a finished novel. Be kind to yourself, and remember even the people you admire and look up to the most were once upon a time in your very shoes.

With a twist, of course. I can’t seem to approach anything magical without having some form of twist.

It’s not a race, it’s not a competition, and there’s plenty of room for everyone. And yes… it’s okay to just write because you love it.

Alas, to give myself a break and be a bit kinder to myself on the scheduling front, I’m not doing preorders for any of the titles, so the easiest thing to do is to click the follow button on Amazon ( B00EA5VH6M/ ) or on BookBub ( https://www. ) to catch the latest news.

Good luck. (We all need it.)

I’m hoping to be publishing a book a month throughout 2019. Well, that’s my personal goal. Will it happen? 12 |

Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them? Honestly, I avoid them as often as possible. Not everyone is going to love my books. Not everyone is going to hate my books. Some people will find my brand of humor offensive. Some will love it. I like finding out what readers want to read, but I have better ways for finding that out than from the reviews.

| R.J. BLAIN | I appreciate each and every review on my books, but they’re not for me. They’re for other readers. The problem with reviews is ten-fold. Authors need them, but they’re not really for us. They’re for all the readers out there. As that book has already been written and out in the wilds, by the time people get around to reviewing them, I’ve already written or edited at least one other book. I’m constantly working to improve my writing. So, they just don’t help me as an author very much. I’ve outgrown that stage of things. Now? It’s just a recipe for heartache. Not everyone will love my books. Not everyone will hate them, either. I repeat this to myself often. Not-so-secret secret: I have issues with anxiety and depression, and reviews trigger this. The only time I ever check reviews is if I filter for 5* and it’s on a book I know was well received as a reminder that there are people who love what I write. At the end of the day, it’s just better that I don’t read them. And usually, I do a pretty good job of avoiding them! Most of the time. (Oops.) Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? This is such a hard question. Many of my books feature protagonists or side characters dealing with some form of mental or physical illness. It’s not in every book, but I try to be inclusive. At least once a week, someone messages me with a thank you that they were represented or that my books

brought them a little laughter when they’re in a bad situation. I have readers who are chronically ill. I have readers who struggle with anxiety and depression. I have readers who are spending the final days of their lives reading. I have readers who are facing tragedy and need a little light in the darkness. My Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books get the most attention for those who are in bad places and need a laugh. But I think the book that brought the saddest stories to my mailbox were from Huntress (Susan Copperfield, a Royal States novel.) The main character has an immune system defect, and the book directly addresses some of the harsher realities of chronic illness. When I wrote it, I wasn’t aiming to have an impact on sufferers of chronic illness, but… it caught me by surprise how many people messaged me thanking them for including their situation (or something similar to theirs) in a book. One of them had even undergone the same sort of treatments the main character had. Of all my books, writing Huntress involved some of the hardest medical research work I’d ever done for a project. There just isn’t enough out there or known about the disorder I wrote about. I had to read technical medical journals to learn how this was treated, then I had to convert it to practical life experience for the character. I never expected it to make a difference, and to some of my readers, it did. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? Right now, I’m on a SIMS 4 kick. I love playing vampires, and I’m currently populating a world Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | with vampires named after my characters. Mostly, I like building really ugly houses. I’m very, very bad at building houses, but I sit there, for hours, just building gaudy, ugly houses. And my characters have an obsessive compulsive painting disorder to fund the building of my awful, awful houses. Plus cats. As for my favorite places on Earth… I’m going to go with Stonehenge. I am going to see it in February, and I’m so, so, so excited. Why? Who doesn’t love a good archaeological mystery? I do! I SO do, and there’s so many secrets about Stonehenge we may never understand. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? Uhm…. I bought a t-rex shaped black pleather purse to go to a formalwear event? I don’t really view myself as very unique, although I definitely love dinosaurs, the color pink, glitter, and sparkly thingies. Honestly, I’m rather boring except for a few random incidents of purchasing really odd things like t-rex shaped dinosaurs. I adore Jurassic World, and I love Blue. That’s not unique but shhh. (Though, funny story, when I saw the first Jurassic World movie… theatre was dead silent in one of the scenes that involved Blue getting her butt kicked… and I wailed, “No, not Blue!” Theatre broke into chortles. I almost died of embarrassment and attempted to hide under my husband. He was not appreciative of my attempt to crawl into his seat beneath him.) Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, 14 |

and where can they follow you? Dear readers, I hope you find many books you adore. I love reading as much as I love writing, and I wish I had more time to just sit down and read my favorite books over and over and over again. If you’d like to keep tabs on what I’m writing, you can follow me at the following places: Facebook: Amazon: B00EA5VH6M/ Bookbub: Happy Reading! ~RJ Blain

Enjoy an excerpt from Blending In Blending In R.J. Blain Urban Fantasy/Holiday


Thanks to a jealous divine, whenever Chase Butler comes anywhere near Miriah, she turns into a chameleon. While her hopes of having a happily ever with Mr. Right are dashed, she’s determined to have the next best thing: a perfect Christ-

Finding a puppy for her son, dodging the unwanted attention of her divine fling of an ex, and keeping on top of a holiday charity drive for local pet shelters sure is complicated when prone to transforming into a twelve-inch lizard with a severe allergy to snowbanks. Since blending in has gotten her nowhere fast, she’s going to have to pull out all the stops to get what she wants, even if it lands her on Santa’s naughty list. Warning: This holiday story contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution. Excerpt As always, when Chase Butler visited Price Financial Industry Solutions, I transformed into a twelve inch long chameleon, which made preparing the afternoon spreadsheets difficult at best. I gave it a week before I lost my job thanks to the CEO of our competitor visiting so often. Scrambling onto my desk, I nosed my trackpad closer to my keyboard. Come hell or high water, I’d finish my work on time. To get my son the puppy he wanted for Christmas, I

| R.J. BLAIN | needed to keep my job. To keep my job, I needed to get my head out of my rear end and find every last one of Chase Butler’s faults so I’d stop my headlong tumble into unrequited love. If I murdered Gavin, a week-long fling, a divine, and father of my child, would his curse break? How the heck was I supposed to find a man who could love me better than a frisky divine with bedhopping tendencies when I turned into a blasted chameleon whenever a man I liked came too close? Chase Butler needed to stop being a handsome, generous man who liked animals immediately if not sooner. Also, he needed to stop challenging my boss and coordinating competitive charity drives. If he gave up his goody-goody tendencies, maybe I’d be able to rein in my admiration. As usual, my traitor heart refused to listen to me. I needed to have a long talk with Gavin about his danged curse. A during-work-hours exemption would make my life a lot easier. Flicking my tongue and using my tail to control the trackpad, I plugged data into my spreadsheet. Whatever made me able to operate touch devices had saved my bacon more than once; had I been more like a natural chameleon, I would’ve been sunk weeks ago. My efforts worked well enough, and I enjoyed blending in with my desk, able to work without casual observers noticing me. Unfortunately, everyone in the open workspace knew I had a few quirks and a shapeshifting problem. My desk neighbor, best friend, sometimes babysitter, and general gossip rolled her chair towards my desk. “You’re so damned lucky Alex likes your work, Miriah. Must you do this every damned charity drive?” Charity drives always landed me in trouble. Without fail, I’d find some man who checked off every one of my boxes for a husband and father of my son. Every year, the story ended the same way. None of the men I liked could ever see past the chameleon to the woman beneath. Most of them hadn’t even noticed my existence. I tapped on the trackpad, opened a note file, and suggested Tiana should go suck on some goose Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | eggs before I returned to work. “While I understand Mr. Butler has an ass to kill for, you might be taking this a little too far.” I checked if any of our co-workers were listening in. Fortunately, her comment went unnoticed. Why couldn’t my tactic of ignoring Tiana work for a change? It hadn’t done me any good the ten other times the past week Chase had needed something from Alex. In person. I did my best to pretend she didn’t exist, working on calculating the charity drive results for the week and the projections for the rest of the event. Five pet shelters and six homeless shelters running out of supplies and funding had spurred the latest charity blitz, and the holidays helped convince the company’s clients to give their brands an ethical boost. When all was said and done, I’d join in the festivities, bringing Caleb home a puppy for Christmas. Despite my hopeless crush on Chase Butler, my son would get his puppy, and that meant working my reptilian, color-changing butt off to finish my report within the next two hours without the benefit of human hands. “It’s hopeless,” Tiana informed me before rolling back to her desk. “Good luck. You’re going to need it.” After I returned to human, I’d make a special trip to the salon, get conditioner for dry hair like she usually used, add extra oil, and to be even more helpful, add even more oil of the coconut variety so she smelled delicious, all so I could teach my fro-haired friend an oily lesson. Maybe if she needed to figure out how to get the excess oil out of her uncooperative mane, she’d leave my failed love life alone for a while. With my luck, I’d actually unlock the secrets of fro hair care. *** With seven minutes to spare, I sent the weekly report to my boss. As Chase seemed determined to stay in the building, I hid under my desk to ride out Gavin’s curse. I wished Tiana would stop laughing at me. “Where’s Miss Cox?” my boss demanded. 16 |

My best friend about to turn arch enemy giggled. “She’s hanging out under her desk, Alex.” “Again?” “Did you know chameleons can use a computer surprisingly well?” “She did the report while shifted, didn’t she?” “She sure did.” My boss sighed. “Fetch her scaly rump and bring her to my office. Mr. Butler wishes to speak to her.” Life ended for everyone, and my cause of death would be embarrassment. Before I could escape, Tiana grabbed me around the middle and carried me to my doom. If I blended in with her dark skin, would Chase notice me? Probably. I camouflaged despite the futility and wrapped myself around Tiana’s wrist. “That’s not going to work, Miriah.” Nipping her earned my nose a light swat. I hissed and nipped her again. “I’ll rip your tail off, asshole. Go ahead. Try me.” As I needed my tail to work, I kept my teeth to myself. “You’re so damned lucky I pay attention and know how to read your damned spreadsheets, girl. I own you for at least a week for this.” Tomorrow, I’d be grateful for my kind-hearted friend, who always stood ready to jump in and keep me from losing my job yet again. In the meantime, I considered taking leave of my solemn vow not to curse up a storm. I kept close watch over my mouth to keep Caleb from learning bad habits from me, but he was twelve. He could handle his mother dropping a few foul words now and then. Instead of modifying her conditioner, I’d buy her the flattening iron she kept drooling over and a bottle of tequila for saving my rump again. As Caleb, too wise for his twelve years, would snitch to his father if I had a single sip, I’d watch her drink and dream of the day my son turned eighteen so I could earn the worst hangover of my life. Gavin loved trying to get me to drink something to unwind, I enjoyed telling him no, and my son took after his father too much for my comfort. Gavin never had understood my poor relationship with alcohol. I didn’t like who I became when drunk, and that was

| R.J. BLAIN | that. Our boss beat us to his office, held the door open until Tiana stepped through, and closed it behind her. Closed door meetings meant trouble. A closed door meeting with Chase Butler would test my patience and sanity. With my luck, he’d open his mouth and say something irresistibly glorious, further entrenching himself in my traitor heart. “I thought Miss Harting was your top marketing guru,” Chase Butler stated from his perch on my boss’s desk. He wore a black suit with bright purple tie offset by a cream dress shirt. “Miss Harting is my top marketing guru,” Alex replied, circling his desk and plopping into his oversized leather chair. “Miss Cox is her bracelet. I’ve found these two ladies work quite well together, so it’s been to my company’s benefit to encourage their partnership.” Tiana lifted her hand to show me off. “She mouthed off to a divine.” My best friend hated me, and I pondered locating the nearest snowbank. I estimated I’d freeze to death within five minutes. Gavin might be capable of caring for Caleb if I left him a manual before putting myself out of my misery. “That takes guts,” my crush replied. “And how long has Miss Cox been a lizard?” “A karma chameleon,” Tiana chirped. I gave up trying to be a good example for my son. For the next few weeks, I’d make a point about saying unfavorable things about my best friend, and I wouldn’t swallow my words around him. What a bitch. That would teach her. Alex choked on his laughter. With a smile I wanted to photograph and immortalize, Chase gave Tiana his full attention. “I appreciate the warning and will endeavor to avoid mouthing off to a divine. May I ask which one?” “Dunno. She calls her baby daddy Gavin; he won’t fess up to his portfolio. For the record, he earned a tongue lashing, and I don’t mean the nice kind. He’s the baby daddy of six kids, and after making the rounds, he thought he could come back and marry Miriah. Her hell no included a healthy dose of mouthing off. So here we are. She’s on job fifty-six due to unin-

tentional shapeshifting and has been a chameleon for maybe two hours so far today.” My boss blinked. “She really did the entire report while shifted?” “She sure did.” I couldn’t tell if Tiana meant to save or lose me my job. “I’ll be damned. All right. Since keyboard use isn’t out of the question, we have a few questions about the report.” “I might be able to answer them for you, sir. She’s explained how her spreadsheets work before. I often use her data and metrics to monitor campaign performance.” “Good. Set her down. We were wondering about the projection columns. How is she figuring it out so accurately?” “Math, sir. It’s like black magic but worse. Be grateful she can’t talk. She might math you to death. Essentially, we run these campaigns the same way every drive. She accounts for current market conditions, the health of the companies contributing, and the current public economic conditions, and then she compares these figures to the past performance of similar campaigns. She then creates the projections from that data.” “Could she do that work for Mr. Butler’s company?” “Any analyst worth their paycheck can.” “Good. Someone in his company has sabotaged his data, and he asked me to loan him a trusted employee to jump fences for a while. I suggested he could borrow Miss Cox for the holidays.” I needed to make a date with the nearest snowbank immediately. “That’s going to be a problem,” Tiana whispered. If she told anyone Chase triggered my transformation, I wouldn’t need to find a snowbank. I’d fall over dead from horror. “If she can do this caliber of work while a chameleon, I see no problems,” Chase replied. “I can set up a touchscreen system and anything else she needs to do her work in either form. It’s her brains I’m after, not her body. I don’t care what shape she is. She can do the work. That’s what I need.” Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | He needed to stop saying nice things about me before my heart finished breaking under the strain of my hopeless crush. “Looks like it’s your lucky day, Miriah. You get to work for our competitor for Christmas.” “If you can send me an email with everything you need, I’ll have it ready for you by tomorrow morning.” Chase pulled out a business card from his wallet and handed it to Tiana. “I’ll see you at nine, Miss Cox.” Following a flicked salute to my boss, Chase left. How the hell was I supposed to work through a curse, especially when the subject of my infatuation refused to act like a jackass? I was so screwed. *** It took an hour after Chase left for me to return to my human form. It hurt, and had I possessed the right magic, I would’ve cursed Gavin back in some horrific fashion. While guilty of mouthing off to Gavin, if he hadn’t worked me and five other women at the same time, I might’ve been a little gentler about my hell no. The divine thought the world of himself. I’d recognized from the start he was too in love with himself to love me or Caleb like we deserved. On one front, he did well; Gavin didn’t show up often, but when he did, he gave Caleb his undivided attention. When the jackass made his appearance, I bailed so I wouldn’t attempt murder. Each and every time, Gavin insisted on leaving presents and a note begging me to reconsider his proposal. I bet the dead heard my infuriated refusals. I considered remaining huddled under my desk and hiding for all eternity. “There’s a pop when you shift, Miriah. You can come out.” Tiana rolled her chair over. “On a scale of one to ten, you’re fucked, babe.” “I’m going to need someone to take me to and from his office,” I whispered, hating I wouldn’t be able to handle the basics on my own. I really would die if I made friends with a snowbank. 18 |

“I’m on it, girlfriend. I’ll get Alex to waive my late penalties and blame him. I’ll tell him you’re bad off over the holidays. Total truth, too.” “Caleb wants a puppy. I’m going to be eaten by my son’s puppy. Or I’ll die in a snowbank. That’s how my life is going to end, Tiana.” “That’s morbid.” “But true.” “It’s not like you’re usually scaly at home. It’ll be fine. Anyway, Caleb’s aces at taking care of you when needed. He’s not going to let his puppy eat you.” “On purpose,” I corrected. “It’s only for a few weeks. You know how Alex gets. He prefers a challenge, and having you batting for Mr. Butler’s team makes it a challenge. The faster you figure out what’s going on with his company, the faster you’re back to work here. It’ll be fine. I’m sure he’ll prove he’s an insufferable ass within a week. No infatuation, no curse.” “Did you really have to tell them about Gavin?” “Of course. Alex hates bullies, and he now knows a divine is being a jerk to you while you’re doing the single mom thing. It’s called job security. I just landed you a lot of it. Merry Christmas. Keep doing your best and he’ll keep you. He can be a jerk, but he’s not a jerk like that.” “If you tell him why, I really might kill you,” I warned. “While true, you’d miss me. Don’t you worry about a thing. Just email the love of your life the list, tell him the curse is always really active this time of year, and enjoy the view—and don’t even try to tell me that view didn’t start this whole mess.” “Hot and nice needs to be illegal.” “Hot, nice, and rich is just wrong. He probably sucks in the sack.” “Hot, nice, rich, and great in bed is impossible. Just impossible,” I confirmed. “Did Gavin suck in the sack?” “I refuse to answer that question, but I’ll say this much: he wasn’t good enough to marry just for the sex.” “Good to know. And Miriah?” “What?” “Next time, remember birth control isn’t effective when dating divines.” “We weren’t dating. We were exploring mutual inter-

ests in bed.” “At least you’re honest about it.” I rolled my eyes. “My tramp stamp’s a fire-breathing dragon, Tiana. No man’s seen it, especially not Gavin.” “Go bed a few men you hate. Just confirm they’re not divines first. You have a hard enough time handling one boy. You don’t need another right now.” “One divine is one divine too many. It’s not like there are a lot of them around waiting for a chance to admire my tramp stamp.” “It’s not a tramp stamp if you’re a goody-goody, babe. Go forth and tramp!” I sighed and crawled out from beneath my desk. “You’re ridiculous.” “I’m more fun than a basket of ferrets. Go home, Miriah. I’ll pick you up early, and I’ll even make sure Caleb makes it to school.” I’d need to find extra presents to repay Tiana. “Thank you. I owe you one.” “You sure do, but I’ll accept juicy gossip about your quest to validate your tramp stamp in exchange.” “I’m swiping left on your generous offer.” “Live a little! That divine didn’t bar you from all of life’s pleasures. Look on the bright side. Any man who gets past that curse ain’t kidding around. No doubt, right?’ “I don’t find that comforting right now.” “It’s only a few weeks. How bad can it be?”

| R.J. BLAIN |

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Issue 29 | December 2018 |


feature author Fall in love with a new Old West... where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. You’ll find Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, and trick-riding superstars in my stories. Those are my heroines. Wait till you meet my heroes! My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada. I’ve been nominated for over 20 awards and won the RWA® Golden Heart® & the Laramie® -- but my best reward is hearing from readers who have enjoyed my stories.

Uncaged welcomes Jacqui Nelson Uncaged: You have a series, The Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides. Can you tell readers more about the series? The 12 Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides series was super fun to write! It’s a shared world set in Noelle, a fictional but historically accurate mining town high in the Colorado mountains. Twelve authors collaborated to not only create twelve standalone stories but a series interlinked by characters, setting, plot, time, and the gifts in the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. My contribution The Calling Birds: The Fourth Day features Birdie Bell (aka Bernadette Bellamy, sister of the Bellamy Gang of gold mine robbers) and Jack Peregrine (a steadfast family man who values hard work and honesty above everything). Here’s the series blurb… Twelve men. Twelve brides. Twelve days to save a town.

Christmas, 1876: Noelle, Colorado is in danger of becoming a ghost town if the railroad decides to bypass the mountaintop mining community. Determined to prove their town is thriving, twelve men commit to ordering brides before the railroad’s deadline six days into the New Year. Each of the twelve women has her own reason for signing up to become a mail-order bride. But after they arrive in the uncivilized settlement, they aren’t

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so sure they’ve made the right decision. Neither are the grooms. Will the marriages happen in time to save Noelle?

each of them will have their own story set in Noelle, Colorado—but not at Christmas. Those stories will embrace the other seasons.

Uncaged: You were a participating author at Wild Deadwood Reads this year. Will you be returning next year? What did you like about the convention the most?

Uncaged: What advice would you give new authors?

Unfortunately, I won’t be returning next year to the Wild Deadwood Reads event. I loved Deadwood and South Dakota but it’s an expensive and lengthy flight from where I live on the southwest coast of Canada. I had to change planes in Seattle and Salt Lake City which resulted in a 11-hour journey of mostly sitting in airports. What I enjoyed most about the 2018 Wild Deadwood Reads event were the activities (like the meet and greet, the mining tour, horseback riding, and the rodeo) that brought the authors and readers together in laid back but entertaining ways. Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about? This December, I’m releasing a sequel to The Calling Birds. It’s called Robyn: A Christmas Bride and features Jack Peregrine’s brother, Max, and Robyn Llewellyn, a flame-haired Welsh tomboy wagon driver who works for Peregrines’ Post and Freight (the family business owned by Jack and Max and their absentminded Grandpa Gus). Max and Robyn’s story includes her three big brothers (Brynmor, Heddwyn and Griffin) and

Write what you love and write from your heart. My favorite stories are those where the author didn’t hold back. They made me cry and laugh and cheer and gasp. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them? I read my review, but not very often. I guess you could call me a binge review reader. Great reviews can provide motivation and confidence for pushing hard to finish a new story. And not so great reviews can create ah-ha moments where an author might improve their craft. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? That they couldn’t put my book down and it kept them up way past their bedtime. I hate for anyone to lose sleep (because I love to sleep), but having a book that is a page-turner is a great compliment. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | When I’m not writing, I like to go for walks and take pictures of flowers. And since I live in the one little corner of Canada (Victoria, British Columbia) where we almost never get snow, there are lots of beautiful flowers and they make me look like a good photographer. One of my favorite places on Earth is the farm I grew up on in northern Alberta, Canada. Unfortunately, that area of Canada gets way too much snow for too many months. So, I followed my family (who aren’t keen about a lot of snow either) to the west coast. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I worked for seven years as an animator for TV shows and video games, and I think those experiences compel me to visualize my stories and even act them out. I love the concept of using words to paint a story. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I love hearing from readers in a review or by email or through social media. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you can receive a free story and hear about my events, giveaways, and new releases. Or if you only want to hear about my new releases, follow me on BookBub and Amazon. Website: Newsletter: html Amazon: BookBub:

Enjoy an excerpt from The Calling Birds The Calling Birds Jacqui Nelson Historical Western/Holiday Many years have passed since Bernadette Bellamy fled the Cariboo Gold Rush and her reputation as the sister of a French-Canadian gang of thieves. Armed with only an honest talent for sewing and a willingness to lead a solitary life on the run, she stays one step ahead of everyone seeking her brothers’ last—and now lost—heist. Until a craving to settle down makes her reinvent herself as Birdie Bell, a dress shop owner. The arrival of an old foe combined with her desire to hold onto her treasure trove of fabrics has Birdie joining a wagonload of brides bound for a remote town. After losing his leg and his wife, Jack Peregrine buries his pain under a mountain-high pile of work. He only agrees to sign up for a mail-order bride to save the town of Noelle, keep his freighting business, and care for his absentminded grandfather. But Jack’s request for a sturdy bride who won’t crumble under his burdens brings him a woman as tiny as she is troubled. Can two mismatched people band together to become the perfect match? A wanted woman’s flight, a man in pursuit of honesty, not stolen gold...and only nine days left to save the town. Excerpt Christmas Eve December 24, 1876 A crowd of women filled La Maison’s front hall. One

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| JACQUI NELSON | of them was Jack’s bride, Birdie Bell. A hard-working woman who’d started her own dressmaking business in Denver. A mature woman of thirty. A strong woman who wouldn’t break under life’s hardships. Maybe his luck would change today. With time Miss Bell might come to respect or maybe even enjoy his company. He needed this marriage to last. He should’ve looked for his grandfather first, but he couldn’t stop his gaze from scanning the women in search of his bride. Even wild-swept from the storm and huddled together shivering from the cold, the women were a fine-looking bunch. How had Mrs. Walters managed that? A raven-haired, pale-skinned woman standing slightly apart from the rest snared his attention. Her beauty would’ve been enough to hold any man spellbound but her tiny size turned him rigid with concern. A woman so small wouldn’t last long in a town like Noelle. His worry turned to anger. Whoever had asked her to come here should be horsewhipped! A faint smile curved her mouth as if she was amused by the prospect of being housed in a location as scandalous as La Maison. He must be dreaming. She shouldn’t be here and she couldn’t be amused.

Her gaze darted to him. When she caught him still staring at her, her expression turned blank and devoid of emotion. She straightened her shoulders, strode straight up to Gus, and said in a lyrical voice with a seductively foreign accent, “I am the bride you seek, Mr. Peregrine. My name is Birdie Bell.” A surge of euphoria followed quickly by alarm made him stagger and lean heavily against the nearest wall. This tiny Frenchwoman couldn’t be Miss Bell. He’d asked for a strong woman. This one wouldn’t be able to hold up under his workload, the rough town, or the surrounding wilderness. She’d abandon Noelle and him. Could he blame her if she did? If she didn’t, she might die here. “No!” His voice shot out louder than Gus’ a moment ago. Complete silence descended around him. The chance to make a good impression was long gone. Everyone in the front hall stared at him including his tiny bride.

She surveyed the room, studying everything and everyone—until she saw him. Then she stared at him the way he felt he must be staring at her, as if mesmerized. “I’ve come for a bride,” a voice proclaimed loudly, a familiar voice that made him cringe. “Which one of you is the future Mrs. Peregrine?” The woman spun to face the speaker—his Grandpa Gus. A wave of gasps and tittering laughter swept the crowd. Several of the women glanced at the tiny woman who’d captivated him. She was now staring at Gus with wide eyes. Issue 29 | December 2018 |


feature authors

contemporary | historical regency

Linda O’Connor

Annabelle Anders

feature author Award-winning author Linda O’Connor started writing romantic comedies when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at a local home décor store. Her books have enjoyed bestseller status. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic. She shares her medical knowledge in fast-paced, well-written, sexy romances – with an unexpected twist. Her favourite prescription to write? Laugh every day. Love every minute.

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Please welcome Linda O’Connor Uncaged: You are a physician and an author. How do you balance the two professions? I work at an Urgent Care Clinic so scheduling time for medicine is easy. It’s tougher to set aside time to write. I make a point of having protected time at least three days a week. No appointments, deliveries, or repairs – just uninterrupted time. I’d write every day if I could – I love it! Uncaged: You write romantic comedy, can you tell readers more about the series that you have ongoing? There are six romances in the Perfectly Series and four as part of the In the Game Hockey Romance series. The Perfectly stories are set in three nearby small towns. Book 1 has a case of mistaken identity with unexpected twists, Book 2 is about following your passion (and did you ever wonder what the car you drive says about you?), Book 3 is quirky, 4 is poignant, 5 is full of small-town Christmas fun, and Book 6 brings them all together – Perfectly Together. :D They’re all standalone romantic comedies, but the characters pop into subsequent stories and keep in touch. The hockey romances feature members of a professional hockey team, the Clarington Quakes. The stories combine the best of medicine and hockey with a bit of mystery thrown in too! Head to the rink…where it’s hot! Uncaged: You have a saying, “Do something every day that scares you.” Can you tell readers a few of the

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things you’ve done that scare you? Every time I publish a book, it’s a wee bit scary. Exciting, but scary. I cross my fingers and hope that readers love it. However, I’d have to say the scariest thing I’ve ever done was … deliver my nephew. At the time, I was an intern in my final year of medical training, and I’d had a few deliveries under my belt. But, you know, when you’re the aunt, in the delivery room for moral support, and the obstetrician is running a little late, and the baby is in a rush to make an appearance, all the warnings about what could go wrong, how you’d never forgive yourself if something went horribly awry … well, they just vanish like a popped balloon, and you step up to the plate. Now, apparently I commented that it was a tad messy and it’d be a shame to ruin my shoes, but frankly, I don’t remember that part. Heart racing, sweaty brow, nausea in the pit of my stomach – that I remember. But when that slippery, little, adorable bundle slid into my waiting hands, the terror was replaced with joy. Today, that little baby is a kind, witty, wonderful adult, and for that, I’m taking credit. After all, they say it’s all in the delivery. :D Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about? My latest release is Time for the Doctor. I’ve joined a group of authors, and we’ve all written romances set in small town Copper Mills, Arizona. I was thrilled to be asked to write a medical story. Dr. Tash Bannon, the

only internist at Copper Mills General Hospital, is a workaholic. After a couple of patient complaints, the board of directors realizes Tash needs a break and “suggests” he take a three-month vacation. Dr. Melissa Sinclair is a single mom, and her adopted son comes first in her life. She’s used to the hustle of a big city hospital but takes the job to cover for Tash hoping to expose her son to his Hopi ancestry during their time in Copper Mills. Tash resents having to take time off – and has an even harder time staying away now that Melissa is around. Now he just has to decide which is more important: his job or Melissa? Come visit Copper Mills, Arizona - a small town with a heart as big as the wide-open spaces and a history of making dreams come true. Uncaged: What advice would you give new authors? Once you’ve published a story, you’ll spend a lot of time promoting it. You could also invest a lot of money on marketing, but my advice would be to look for free ways to advertise and promote. You can set up a Wordpress website for free, schedule tweets with Tweetdeck, use Canva to create ads, and use sites like Pixabay for images that are free for commercial use. Save your money for professional editing and cover design! Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them? Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | I do read reviews. Encouraging ones brighten my day and constructive criticism helps me improve my writing. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? “I loved this book and can’t wait to read more by this author.” “I laughed out loud several times… thank you for taking me away from my normal day.” Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? Go for a walk, cycle, dance, and swim. I love to be active. Home is my favorite place – or anyplace that my children are. But I’d be happy sitting on a beach with my toes buried in warm sand any day too!

Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I’m a physician who writes romance novels. :D Probably more surprising is that I don’t drink coffee. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I would like to say thank you to my fans - a huge thank you for picking up my book among all the others that you could have chosen. Your support means more to me than you’ll ever know. I love connecting with readers,

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Enjoy an excerpt from Perfectly Christmas Perfectly Christmas Linda O’Connor Contemporary Holiday Romance On the first day of Christmas, his true love said to him, “Sorry, I have to work.” That’s the life of a surgeon, and Dr. Madison Hayes wouldn’t have it any other way. Dr. Quinn Malone has another priority. In the countdown to Christmas, he needs to convince his old flame that there’s more to life – and love – than the job itself. This time, his heart is in it for the long haul. Really. Romantic and . . . complicated – it’s Perfectly Christmas! Excerpt Edna Alexander and Bea Mitchell stood at the window of the seniors’ center and watched the new surgeon drive out of the parking lot. “She’s very young, Bea.” “And very pretty,” Bea agreed with a frown. She adjusted the tortoise shell glasses perched on her nose. “Didn’t we specify we wanted someone old, someone frumpy?” “There wasn’t a tick-off box for that.” “Hmph. There should’ve been.” They watched the car pull out onto the street and hit the curb as it turned. “She drives like us.” “True. And look at the bright side, Edna. If we need surgery, it’d probably be better to have a young whipper-snapper doin’ it rather than some old fart like us.” “I’m more worried about losing Dr. Quinn.” Bea pursed her lips. “I know. But what are the chances of that happening?”

Edna gave her a grim sideways glance. “I’d have said slim to none three weeks ago. But when Dr. HoityToity Hecktare decided she’d had enough of us, and Dr. Quinn looked like he was going to go with her, I almost had a stroke. I would never have believed he’d abandon our beloved Strathaven for a girl.” “Woman,” Bea corrected absently. “Do you think he truly loved her?” Edna shook her head and her gray curls bounced. “No.” She bit her lip. “Yes. That’s what I’m worried about. What if he up and falls in love with this new surgeon and leaves us?” “We’d have a town of five thousand with no doctor.” “Exactly. We’d be right back where we were five years ago before Quinn returned home.” “And we’d have to go through another round of recruitments for a new doctor. I rue the day when someone from the Underserviced Area program figures out that we’re the Mitchell Alexander who’s been filling out all those forms.” “A problem for another day.” Edna sighed. “Maybe she’ll stay. Dr. Madison Hayes. She seemed very friendly. Very small-townish.” Bea grunted. “Not likely. You read her application. I’ll bet my boots she’ll do her two years and move on.” “And take Quinn with her.” Edna twisted the strap of her oversized purse. “We can’t control his heart.” “No. But we can’t risk him falling in love, either.” “So we’ll keep them apart.” Bea’s eyebrows shot up and she paused, considering. “That’s not a bad idea.” “Of course, it’d be easier if he wasn’t also the only anesthetist for miles around. They’re going to have to work together.” “Sure, but they’re professionals. I can’t see them getting into any hanky-panky at work. We’ll just make sure they’re never alone together outside of the clinic.” Edna grinned widely. “Excellent plan. I’ll get on the blower, and before she unpacks, we’ll have a network of chaperones in place.” “Email me the list.” “Send me an email, and I’ll reply.” Bea looked at her pointedly. “Edna, you gotta learn how to send an email.”

| LINDA O’CONNOR | “I know how,” Edna said. “You hit reply, then type, then send.” Bea laughed and threw her arm around Edna’s shoulders. “I think I’ll get you a computer lesson for Christmas.” Edna’s eyes lit up. “A private one? With that hotty Albert Sparkle?” Bea stepped back and started buttoning her coat. “Albert’s one hundred and two. And I think the name is Spartan. Does he even own a computer?” “Yes, and he’s rigged himself up the perfect cup holder with this little drawer thingy that slides out at the top of the computer engine.” Edna pulled a crocheted cap over her curls. Bea frowned. “You mean the CD tray on the tower?” Edna smiled. “Maybe. Isn’t that brilliant?” Bea laughed. “You two were made for each other. C’mon, let’s go and start Operation Put Out the Fire.”

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Issue 29 | December 2018 |


feature author Married to the same man for over 25 years, I am a mother to three children and two Miniature Wiener dogs After owning a business and experiencing considerable success, my husband and I got caught in the financial crisis and lost everything; our business, our home, even our car. At this point, I put my B.A. in Poly Sci to use and took work as a waitress and bartender. Unwilling to give up on a professional life, I simultaneously went back to college and obtained a degree in Energy Management. And then the energy market dropped off. And then my dog died. I can only be grateful for this series of unfortunate events, for, with nothing to lose and completely demoralized, I sat down and began to write the romance novels which had until then, existed only my imagination. I am happy to have found my place in life. Finally.

Uncaged welcomes Annabelle Anders Uncaged: What inspires you to write in the Historical Regency genre? Do you spend a lot of time in research for each book? I’m love writing in the historical genre because of the rules of the times. They present completely different challenges to what couples face today, and yet‌ not :) As far as research, I try not to make a vocation of it. In my books, story is KING. I try to stay as accurate as possible in creating my worlds but I am definitely not a historian. Uncaged: You recently released a holiday anthology, Yuletide Happily Ever Afters. How does an anthology come about? Do all the participating authors agree to a theme? I learned how to compile these from a good friend who had had success doing cowboy romance anthologies. I simply ask various authors (6 is an ideal number) and then we decide together what we want to do. The most challenging aspect of an anthology is getting all the authors to agree on a cover image :) I have another anthology planned for this spring and the theme will be Widows, Spinsters and Second Chance at Love. We have a GREAT author line up for this one! Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about?

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I’m finishing up my Devilish Debutantes Series and jumping right into a follow up, that is briefly connected, called the Not So Saintly Sisters. The heroine in the first of these books “The Perfect Debutante” faces a different type of challenge than I’ve ever written about. She is a cutter. Book two will be titled “The Perfect Spinster.” Uncaged: What advice would you give new authors? This industry is not for the faint of heart. Keep writing and keep promoting. Sometimes it takes a while to find your readers. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them? I read the first reviews that come out… just to get a feel for how the book is being received and to reassure myself. After that, I sort of just keep an eye on the average rating. I try to avoid looking too closely at them because reviewers are as different as people and I will never please everybody. I don’t want one person’s opinion to ever change the way I write. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? I received an email last week from a reader who told me one of my books actually caused her to question how she’d viewed a particular type of sin. My books are not religious, by any means, but throughout time, we’ve all had differing perspectives on god. Many of

my characters wrestle with these issues the same as I have. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? When I’m not writing… I love to be with friends. I love the beach, the sun, the mountains. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? Hmm… this is a tough one. Probably not unique, but I am at a time in my life where I am unwilling to put up with a lot of drama… I cannot afford to be around too much negativity as it tends to drain me. I guess I consider myself something of an empath. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I love keeping in touch with readers and would be thrilled to hear from you! Join or follow me at any (or all!) of the social media links below! Amazon Bookbub Facebook Author Page Facebook Reader Group: A Regency House Party Twitter

Issue 29 | December 2018 |



Enjoy an excerpt from Yuletide Happily Ever Afters Yuletide Happily Ever Afters Anthology Historical Regency/Holiday Yuletide Happily Ever Afters A Merry Little Set of Regency Romances

Christmas is a time of celebration as well as family and friends. Join these six award winning and best selling Regency authors as they share with you the season for romance Married by Christmas by Jenna Jaxon After two miserable Seasons, Miss Marianne Covington is determined not to have a third and enlists the help of longtime friend William Stanley to assist her. Will wagers he can find her a husband before Christmas. But when none of the suitors suit, he is ready to do something drastic for the woman who’s become more than just a friend. The Christmas Wager by Angelina Jameson Lord Chastain, darling of the gossip sheets, has seven days to turn a lady’s head. Lady Iris, aware of the wager, finds the earl hard to resist. As the pair spend the holidays together, Chastain finds his own head turned and Iris discovers you can’t believe everything you read. His Yuletide Bride by Nadine Millard Daniel, Duke of Darthford, had pined for Sarah Starling since her disappearance three years ago. When Daniel and Sarah unexpectedly cross 36 |

paths again, it’s no surprise that sparks fly once more. Could this Christmas bring two hearts back together, again? And can love truly conquer all? Twelve Gifts by Christmas by Tabetha Waite When Lady Philomena Wallace, the Countess of Lipscomb, receives a gift from a secret admirer, she imagines it’s a lark. It isn’t until a stranger from her past abruptly returns that she has to make a choice between a mysterious suitor - and a second chance at love. Hell Hath Frozen Over by Annabelle Anders The Duchess of Prescott, now a widow, fears she’s experienced all life has to offer. Thomas Findlay, a wealthy industrialist, knows she has not. Can he convince her she has love and passion in her future? And if he does, cans she convince herself to embrace it? Boughs of Folly by Anna Bradley He’s a scandalous rake who needs a respectable wife. She’s a notorious actress who was once a lady. Will they give in to the passion between them, or will it take a Christmas miracle to bring them together? Excerpt from Hell Hath Frozen Over by Annabelle Anders “Have you never ridden in a curricle, Duchess?” The sheltered lives of nabobs never failed to surprise him. Had her husband not ever taken her for romantic picnics in the springtime? Had her sons not ever shown off a new vehicle to their mother? She was shaking her head side to side. “Lucas had one. But no.” She stepped around to the back, seemingly examining the integrity of what he planned to carry her away on top of. “I’ve never ridden in one.” Without giving her any more opportunities to change her mind, Thomas stepped forward and placed one hand on her slender waist. “Put one foot here, Duchess.” He pointed to a narrow ledge a little over two feet off the ground. When he moved to assist her, she

| JACQUI NELSON | instinctively dropped one hand upon his shoulder. Her clean scent carried a hint of rose. He’d never appreciated flowery perfume on women before. It had always seemed too strong, overpowering even. But not on the duchess. On her, it was perfect. Subtle. Restrained. He couldn’t help leaning in for a second whiff as he lifted her the rest of the way to the seat. She gasped slightly when he did so. She didn’t cry out though. Or complain. She did all things with dignity. Which gave him cause to wonder…

Also enjoy an excerpt from Hell of a Lady Hell of a Lady Annabelle Anders Historical Regency Releases December 12, 2018 THE DEVILISH DEBUTANTE Miss Rhododendron Mossant has given up on men, love, and worst of all, herself. Once a flirtatious beauty, the nightmares of her past have frozen her in fear. Ruined and ready to call it quits, all she can hope for is divine intervention. THE ANGELIC VICAR Justin White, Vicar turned Earl, has the looks of an angel but the heart of a rake. He isn’t prepared to marry and yet honor won’t allow anything less. Which poses something of a problem... because, by God, when it comes to this vixen, a war is is waging between his body and his soul.

SCANDAL’S SWEET SIZZLE She’s hopeless and he’s hopelessly devoted. Together they must conquer the ton, her disgrace, and his empty pockets. With a little deviousness, and a miracle or two, is it possible this devilish match was really made in heaven? Excerpt “How then did you come by the name Rhoda?” She sighed loudly. “Rhododendron.” A pink flower, from what he could recall. Hearty for landscaping. “One of my favorite flowers.” He would not make a joke of it. She chuckled. “Well done, my lord.” Could he woo this prickly young woman? As the thought crossed his mind he brought himself up short. He was not looking for a wife. Was he? And he certainly couldn’t take on a woman in her circumstances. God, but she was a beauty though. And she tugged at him in a visceral way. His eyes searched her face; strong, high cheekbones; delicate arching brows, and lips, full, plump, the color of a pomegranate. She watched him back warily, as though waiting for him to chastise her for such insolence. Behind her eyes lurked that combination of defiance and fear he’d begun to recognize. He quickly searched his memory for what he knew of various flowers. “The Rhododendron is one of the heartiest of flowers, you know. It’s from the evergreen family. Why wouldn’t it be somebody’s favorite flowers?” She looked for a moment as though she might soften, but then straightened her spine. “You haven’t studied the language of flowers, have you?” He hadn’t. He’d heard of it but considered it someIssue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | thing frivolous – something suited for lovesick swain with nothing better to do with their time. “I’m afraid not. Feel free to enlighten me.” “But of course.” She pinched her lips and narrowed her eyes. “The Rhododendron isn’t exactly a romantic flower. Whereas most flowers signify beauty, or devotion or other such nonsense.” She bit her lip and twisted her mouth into that brittle smile once again. “The Rhododendron leans more toward the macabre side of human nature. When you see a rhododendron, you ought to consider it a warning. In the language of flowers, it means caution. Beware. Danger.” “That doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful.” He nearly whispered the words. He’d not meant to say them out loud.

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feature authors

contemporary | historical

Deborah Garland

Becky Lower

feature author Deborah Garland is a versatile author of women’s fiction, contemporary and paranormal romances. Her books are about love and the struggles of complicated relationships. The heroines are strong and witty and the heroes fall hard for them. She lives on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband and two pugs, Zoe and Harley. They like to vacation up and down the East Coast, but her favorite place is on a bar stool on a Friday night with a Grey Goose cosmopolitan, listening to her husband tell her the same stories over and over. You can visit Deborah at http://www.

Stay Connected

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Please welcome Deborah Garland Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about the different series that you write? Thank you for giving me the time to get to know your subscribers. I have just completed (for now) my Small Town/Contemporary Romance series, Darling Cove, which is a fictional town on the North Fork of Long Island (wine country!). Next year, I will have a Vampire Romance series coming out, which is set in Princeton, New Jersey. Series are really fun to write. I love pulling former and future characters into scenes to tease readers. In Must Be Crazy, the 3rd book in Darling Cove series, the Mallory family gets a little too close for comfort when all characters from each book (siblings) find themselves under the same roof. The dynamic and the dialogue snapping back and forth between all characters at one point was so much fun to write. Keeping with that, I am currently writing the 3rd book in the vampire series, and the commander who is seen in the first two books as a little scary, and brooding gets brought to his knees big time by a woman he was not expecting to want. And he

has to do it in front of the main characters from books 1 and 2. I just keep laughing while I write this book. I am also putting the final touches on what will hopefully be a southern series, set in Nashville, centered around a Country Music label. There are potentially two other series I can write, but I’ll keep the details to myself for now. Uncaged: You also just released a holiday novella which is a part of the Darling Cove series. Would a reader be able to pick up this book without reading the rest of the series? Yes, A Must for Christmas, my Holiday Novella, as well as all other books in the series, can be read as a stand-alone. Darling Cove is a family drama series, so in each book the secondary characters are family members. You know, you can’t get rid of family! In the first book in the series, Must Love Fashion, I introduced each of the characters in the rest of the series and gave a small window into what their books would be about. As the series progressed with Must Have

Faith and Must Be Crazy, I went back and forth, giving the reader a small taste of what they missed and hopefully tease them to check out the other books. What was so great about A Must for Christmas, while it centered on the main characters from Must Have Faith, the whole Mallory family pulls together to help Greg and Faith get through a spot of trouble they’ve found themselves in. Uncaged: You’ve attended quite a few events in the past year, do you have any planned that you can tell us about? Yes, I was lucky enough to participate in several book signing events this year. I attended New Jersey Romance Writers annual conference last month, and I met with three book clubs who read my books. I loved getting questions and also giving these dedicated readers some behind the scenes information about chapters I re-wrote and why. With the year winding down, I will signing my books at the Islip Arts Center Holiday Fair on December 8th. Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | The first book signings I’d done, I was very nervous and I quickly learned that readers are nervous to approach authors as well. I’ve learned a few tricks to open a conversation and I do really love talking about my books and my writing process. I love having the Novella as an economical book (at fairs it’s $5.00) as a great introduction into the series. AND I also have a short free read that I give away for those who sign up for my Newsletter. It is a prequel to the first book, Must Love Fashion. Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about? The last couple of months have been busy. I released books in June (Must Have Faith), October (Must Be Crazy) and November (A Must for Christmas). My next planned release is a sexy vampire romance, called Drawling Bloodlines. It is the first of a new series called the Princeton Allegiant series and is scheduled for April 2, 2019. The publisher has contracted me for a second book in that series, Guarding Bloodlines, and I just learned that will be releasing Oct 2, 2019. I am currently writing the third book in that series, Matching Bloodlines. Uncaged: What advice would you give new authors? Great question. The first thing I would tell a brand new author, especially if getting an agent and into a top traditional publishing house is the goal… write a masterpiece. New authors are held to an unforgiving standard. Some editors will say they will publish anything that drives them bat-**** crazy. That’s tricky, because you’ll end up chasing trends. Many people are not interested in getting an agent or a deal with a traditional publisher and many are successful in the independent publishing space. My advice for a new author testing those waters, study how to market your work on all the different platforms. 42 |

And of course, keep writing as long as you enjoy it. And if you don’t enjoy it, stop. Take a break. Breaks are amazing. You’ll come back refreshed and stronger. 6) Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them? Yes, I read my reviews. I’ve been lucky so far (knock wood) to have had a majority of my reviews be positive. My favorite reviews are the ones where I can tell the reader really got what I was trying to do with the story. I had been going for a very dramatic ending in Must Have Faith and was really delighted to see reviews that specially called out the ending in a positive way. It is difficult to suggest an author take something away from a review. Especially when some review could be unfairly brutal. The beauty of independent publishing is that if your reviews are all tilting toward a similar narrative, you can pull your book down and make changes. The goal of course is to put your best work up, the first time around. Save testing your material for Beta Readers or Critique Partners. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? This is a great question. In my first book, Must Love Fashion, my heroine is challenged by repeated abnormal mammograms. Because her mother passed away from breast cancer she’s at risk. It’s a sub-sub plot in the story, but I received very kind words from people who were apparently survivors about how I addressed the subject and how real they felt my character dealt with her issues. In general, I love when a reviewer says they loved my character. I love them too! Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? In the last two years I feel like, I’ve done nothing but

| DEBORAH GARLAND | write. For 2019, I am going to carefully plan my writing schedule and I will already say, it’s going to be scaled back. I had committed to two series, (Darling Cove and Princeton Allegiant) and wanted to make sure I delivered books so I didn’t leave any readers hanging. With those two series almost complete as far as books written, I feel that I can take a breather. In late 2017, my husband and I bought a seasonal summer place in Maine. Our favorite place on Earth! This past summer, we spent several weeks there, on an off. I was so busy writing, I feel like I missed so much. I am hoping next summer will be different. I want to sit by the pool and read for a change. Take day trips and connect to the environment and not be looking at my phone all the time! I am also an avid gym-person. I work out five days a week, in the mornings. My close family members, also live out of state. So I have to often travel to visit relatives. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? Wow. That’s a tough question. Keeping with a book theme, I have a very unique library. I’ve read a wide range of non-fiction. Just glancing at all my books here’s what just caught my eye: “And The Band Played On”, “Tudor England”, “The Corrections”, “Veil of Mists” and “Sweet Surrender.” If anyone is wondering, I keep copies of my books on my desk in my office. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Well first, to my fans… THANK YOU. Even those who’ve picked up my books through various review promotions I’ve done, thank you for choosing my book to read. And thank you for your support and kind words to help readers make a decision about where to spend their money. E-books are great, because for the most part, it’s a low investment. My books are currently all $4.99, and the novella is $2.99 (but it’s also in Kindle Unlimited!)

I blog from my website www.deborahgarladauthor. com. I have a newsletter and send out updates when I have a new release dsHN3D. Readers can follow me on Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub. Thank you so much for this great interview.

Enjoy an excerpt from A Must for Christmas A Must for Christmas Deborah Garland Contemporary Holiday Romance It was supposed to be perfect... Faith Mallory finally has it all. She married her childhood sweetheart, the only man she ever loved and in a month she and Greg will be blessed with two sons to carry on the Mallory family name. Life was supposed to be perfect. Except, it isn’t. Faith is keeping secrets, some that will threaten their happy-ever-after. Greg envisioned a married lifestyle for his family that includes Faith giving up her career and all she’s worked hard to achieve. Her long, stressful hours makes Greg fear she’s put her health as well as his sons’ wellbeing at risk. With tensions running high, the strain on Faith cause early labor and complications. Fear holds Greg in its grip as he waits for word from the doctors. Now everything is at risk. A potential medical disaster and revealed secrets will jeopardize his and Faith’s relationship. They will need a Christmas miracle for their little family to survive the holiday season. Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Excerpt They’d been briefed about what the delivery would be like since it was a planned C-Section. The plan had gone to shit, though. No one in that room looked familiar. Not the doctor she and Greg went through meticulous lengths to find. Now this man she didn’t know was asking Greg to leave.

Her lids lowered, she was growing tired and weary. “There will be two more people to love soon.” “All of you.” He rested his lips against her mouth and breathed. “You’re all mine now.”

That’s not good.

“I want to stay,” Greg blurted before the doctor got any further with his explanation. “Faith!” A pretty nurse stepped up to him. “Sir, we need a few more doctors in the room, and I’m afraid you’ll be in the way. We want your wife and babies safe. I’ll keep you informed at every step.” She put a hand on his arm. “Plus, I’m sure your family out there is worried. Go be with them, and let us take care of Faith.” The nurse said her name like she wasn’t just another mother giving birth. Perhaps it was personal to them. “Okay,” Greg replied gruffly but moved briskly past the medical crew. “Babe, I’m in the way here. They’re gonna put you out. I want this to go smoothly.” Two men stood at Faith’s head, while others moved her legs. Her soft, pale limbs, in other men’s hands probably made Greg furious. Even though he was likely to make a scene, Faith needed her husband. “I can’t do this without you.” When her voice cracked, it looked like it smashed him to pieces. “Please can’t he stay?” “I’ll be right outside. Let’s just get these babies born so we know everything’s okay.” He brushed her forehead; his tense fingers felt cold and clammy. He took his hand away but she could feel him shaking.

“I love you more. The whole time, Babe. You thought you loved me? I had you beat by miles.”

“I love you, Greg.”

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This book is reviewed in the review section of the magazine.

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feature author Amazon bestselling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. A regular contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After column, her works have been featured on ten separate occasions. Becky lives in North Carolina with her puppymill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at Visit her website at

Uncaged welcomes Becky Lower Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about the different series you have ongoing? My first big series was the Cotillion Ball series, set in America during the build-up to and during the Civil War. It was such a fascinating time in this country, with abolition, interaction with Native Americans, the westward expansion, the suffragette movement and women entering the work force for the first time. The series follows the lives of the nine Fitzpatrick children as they come of age and find their footing in this exciting country. My second series is set in Regency England, and is kind of my interpretation of what would happen when Little Women meet the Secret Garden. Four sisters work with their father, who owns a nursery and landscaping business in the 1820s, outside of London. Book One in this series, Winning Violet, was released nearly a year ago, right before the publisher folded it doors. Books two and three in that series, Losing Lily and Remembering Iris, are nearing completion and will be ready when I can get the rights back to Winning Violet, possibly as early as April, 2019. Uncaged: Your first Regency novel was a holiday theme, A Regency Yuletide, what inspired you to write in the historical genre?

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I’ve always been a sucker for history and spent the better part of my adult life in and around Washington, DC, which is full of history. When I saw the movie, Titanic, and saw how the lives of ordinary people were impacted by historical events, I realized I had stories to write. Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about? Books two and three in the Flower Girls series are next. Losing Lily is about a woman who likes to keep precise control of things. She’s taken over the landscaping portion of her father’s business and dresses like a man for convenience. She constructs massive hedge mazes as part of her job, which is well suited to her orderly mind, although she really wants to dress as a woman again. Especially when she meets Angus MacCallum. Remembering Iris is a bit of an unusual tale. Iris and Baxter discovered love with each other when she was just sixteen. He then went off to war and was killed. Or so she thought. Six years later, she sees a man behind a mask and his unique eyes remind her of her long-buried love. It takes nearly 1/3 of the book before she pieces things together and finds out her love is very much alive. Uncaged: What advice would you give new authors? Experiment with different genres before you decide what you’d like to write, and then read as much as you can from that genre. Take workshops, enter contests,

find a critique partner, and have no fear. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them? I do read my reviews. If I’m doing something right, I like to know about it. If I’m doing something wrong, I really want to know about it. If someone comments that I rushed the ending and didn’t give the reader time to savor the victory, I take that into consideration as I write the next one. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? I met a woman at a conference recently who told me she thought I’d be much younger, since my books were written from the perspective of a woman in her twenties. She thought I’d take offense to her statement, but I considered it an utmost compliment. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? I like to take walks with my little dog, Mary. I recently moved to North Carolina, which is filled with golf courses and hiking trails, so we’ve spent the months exploring and have our favorites. But there are many more we haven’t yet been to. One Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | of my favorite places on earth is the Jedediah Smith National Forest in northern California. It’s full of giant redwoods and sequoias and is a truly reverential place. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? As is the case with most writers, I’ve been putting pen to paper since I could hold a No. 2. But unlike most writers, I submitted a screenplay to a TV show when I was just 12 years old. I wish I’d kept the very sweet rejection letter they sent me, but it got lost over the years and the many moves I’ve made. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I really appreciate that you’re willing to spend a few hours reading my flights of fancy. Writing a book is hard work and if you enjoy what I’ve done, it’s all worth while. My website is www., where you can sign up for my newsletter, which will announce new releases, and follow my blog, which I post to weekly.

Enjoy an excerpt from A Regency Yuletide A Regency Yuletide Becky Lower Historical Regency/Holiday After a disappointing season in London, Sophie Davenport returns home without a marriage proposal. No sooner does she settle back into her country life than she learns her uncle has arranged for her to marry the local vicar’s son, a respectable and utterly forgettable man. He’s returning home immediately after the Christmas holiday and they will wed. She sets about making this last Christmas with just she and her mother memorable. Jeremy Wyatt hatches a plan to help his friend Thomas and his love, Emma, escape to Gretna Green and marry before her father comes after them. What he’s really doing is avoiding heading to his parents’ home, where he is the son who is always making the wrong choices. But their carriage becomes hopelessly mired in the mud from the incessant rains so Jeremy sets off to find shelter for them at the first house he comes to. Sophie welcomes the wet and weary travelers, and her mother agrees to house them temporarily until they can free the carriage. Sophie forms a bond not only with Emma, but with Jeremy. However despite the sparks they ignite in each other, they have to maintain their separate paths. But love and mistletoe have a way of upsetting even the best-laid plans. Excerpt

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| BECKY LOWER | “Whatever shall we do with the rest of the day?” Jeremy quirked his brow in her direction. “I’m going to talk Emma into coming with me to the Female Visiting Society meeting this afternoon. If I can pry her away from Thomas, that is.” Sophie chuckled. “They do appear to be joined at the hip, don’t they?” “Are there ever any men at these meetings? Or are they all women?” Jeremy shifted his load of greenery. Sophie glanced over. “Would you care to come with me? I’ll admit, I did extend an invitation to you yesterday, but I didn’t expect to be taken seriously.” He shrugged. “I have no wish to be the only male in the room, but I am interested in what you do.” “You are?” Sophie’s voice rose an octave. “Why?” He shook his head. “You really have no idea how interesting I find all this, how interesting I find you?” “Now you’re making fun of me, sir.” Sophie removed her hand from his arm and hurried ahead of him.

in. And, as for dancing, no one starts out dancing well. I’d wager all you need are a few lessons. As for your charity work, I find it a much more appealing topic than the latest dress or bonnet fashion. I’m not making fun of you. You’re very special.” She blinked and stared up at him. He leaned closer and their bodies bumped together. She stood, transfixed, the heat from his touch branding her skin. “Very special, indeed. I can’t seem to control myself around you, but I will endeavor to do so.” He backed off, picked up the bundle again, extended his arm, and smiled at her. “Shall we continue?” Her stomach fluttered, and she placed a hand to her waist. She placed her other hand on his arm and swayed into his body, their shoulders touching. They were scandalously close to one another, but she didn’t step back. She appreciated his hard body against hers. Mother would truly be beside herself if she witnessed Sophie’s behavior, but they had a few hundred yards yet to go before they reached the cottage. A few hundred yards where they could be alone. She closed her eyes to better capture the memory and let him lead her home.

“Sophie.” Jeremy’s voice softened and she stopped. Although tears threatened, she faced him, straightening her spine. “I am not some country bumpkin here for your enjoyment, Mr. Wyatt. If I learned nothing else from my season in London, I learned I am not considered acceptable to the Ton. My body is too plump for modern tastes, my hair has a mind of its own, and my feet refuse to shuffle in time to the music. I’ll not have you make a laughingstock of me.”

This book is reviewed in the review section of the magazine.

“Sophie,” he whispered again and dropped the pile of greenery he’d been carrying. He took a step closer and wrapped his hands around her elbows. “You are not too plump, you’re just right.” He placed one hand on her waist and wrapped a tendril of hair around the other hand. “Your hair is the deepest black I’ve ever seen and was the first of your features that drew me Issue 29 | December 2018 |


feature authors

Melanie Robertson-King


Engy Neville

feature author A native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie RobertsonKing lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Before starting school, her family moved to Brockville where she received her education, including a post-secondary degree in Computer Programming. Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader and remains so to this day. She knew then one day she would be a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age. Melanie’s father was a Scottish national. He came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. She promised herself that one day her feet would touch the soil in her father’s homeland. That first trip was in 1993 and she’s not looked back since, having returned to the auld country a further eleven times and is looking forward to trip number twelve. On one of her many trips to Scotland, Melanie had the honour of meeting Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) at the orphanage where her father was raised. When she’s not sequestered in her cave writing, plotting or editing, you’ll find her out about. In addition to writing- she loves to travel- prowl through cemeteries (the older the better)- and photography. 52 |

Please welcome Melanie Robertson-King Uncaged: This year, you released a holiday novel, It Happened on Dufferin Terrace. Can you tell readers more about this book? Think Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle. These are a couple of my favourite movies, so I went with a cross between those themes. Serenity Layne is a career-driven consultant with a prestigious firm in Toronto. She’s assigned the task of bringing the department store chain, jonathans, into the 21st century. The principle location of the retail empire is in Old Québec City. Enter widowed father Roger Scott, his ten-year-old son Adam, and their black Labrador Retriever, Tori. The young boy puts his father’s profile on a number of dating websites, with the best of intentions – doesn’t want his Dad to be sad and lonely anymore. It’s a sweet romance, although neither Serenity nor Roger are looking for a relationship. She’s married to her job. He wants to be the best father he can be to his son. Old Québec is beautiful any time of year, but in the winter when the city is decorated for Christmas, it’s even more so. It’s that magic I fed off to bring Roger and Serenity’s romance into bloom. Uncaged: Who or what inspires your stories? Can you tell us some of your favorite authors?

My tagline on my website is “where fact and fiction meet”. Almost anything can set my brain into motion for a story. It could be a location, an event, or something mentioned in passing. Favourite authors – I have a number of them, and rather eclectic tastes in my reading. Stuart MacBride (love his Scottish sense of humour in his crime novels), Ian Rankin with his Inspector Rebus series are my top two crime writers, although I have others. One of my faves here in North America is Stacy Claflin. She pens sweet romance, thrillers, and paranormal. Lastly, the author of Outlander fame. I love that series by Diana Gabaldon. I have all of the books, so far, although ashamed to say some remain unread on my bookcases. I keep promising myself, when I get “this” done, my treat will be ... At the rate I’m going, I’ll have to start from scratch back at book 1. Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about? Late last year I got the rights to my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past, back from the publisher. I’ve been busy editing and polishing and creating a new cover. I’m happy to say that the book (a time-travel romance set in Scotland) is (perhaps optimistic as I answer the interview questions) back out in print and e-book format will soon follow. Uncaged: What advice would you give new authors?

Read, read and read some more. Write every day. Find a writers’ group. Writing is a solitary occupation so getting out with like-minded people is extremely helpful. You’ll build relationships with your fellow members, find critique partners and beta readers, too. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them? Yes, even the occasional 1-star. I don’t mind receiving them as long as they’re not mean and hateful and tear the book to shreds, which has happened. I used to joke when I got my first one, I had arrived. My reviews, good or bad, make we want to write more, especially for the folks who love my work and maybe sway those who aren’t so keen over to my side. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? This was shortly after I received my author copies of It Happened on Dufferin Terrace. “Her creativity and hard work has paid off in yet another amazing accomplishment. Thank you for getting me (one of your biggest fans) my copy in time for me to read on my holidays.” Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | When I’m not sequestered in my writing cave, more of a belfry because it’s upstairs, I love to travel, prowl through cemeteries (the older the better), and photography. I’ve walked through many an old cemetery on my trips to Scotland, which has to be my favourite place in the world (my Dad was born there), although Québec City is close behind. My most recent visit to Scotland was in May of this year and by the time this article goes live, I’ll have made my November trek to Québec City. I have my fingers crossed for snow on the ground this trip.

Twitter: @RobertsoKing Goodreads Author Page: Melanie Robertson-King Blog: Celtic Connexions Website:

Enjoy an excerpt from It Happened on Dufferin Terrace

I’m ashamed to say, I’ve travelled abroad and not fully taken in the beauty of my native country. I hope to rectify that next year.

It Happened on Dufferin Terrace Melanie Robertson-King Contemporary Holiday Romance

Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you?

Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle.

Not sure how unique it is, but I love to travel by train. I don’t do nearly enough of it when I’m home, but when travelling abroad and not having to drive in big cities, it’s the only way to go. My husband hates driving, so when we’re in the UK, driving on the opposite side of the road and car, yours truly is behind the wheel. It doesn’t bother me a bit. Is it because I’m left-handed? I don’t know, but I’ve been called Jackie Stewart on more than one occasion. Is having my own set of bagpipes unique? I’m quite sure the neighbours are quite pleased they’ve not come out of late. :-) Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you for buying my books! I hope you enjoy my novels and short stories. I love to hear from you. I know commenting on blogs seems to be going out of favour, but you can follow me there or at any of these links: Facebook: Melanie Robertson-King- Author 54 |

Toronto business consultant, Serenity Layne, knew the only person she could depend on was herself. Married to her career, she has no time for other pursuits and life’s intangibles. Widowed for three years, Roger Scott, a data security specialist in Quebec City, is a single parent to his tenyear-old son, Adam. On a day out on the Plains of Abraham with their black Labrador retriever, Roger’s cell phone rings incessantly. Adam has played matchmaker and put his father’s profile on a number of online dating sites. The week before Christmas, Serenity is heading up a series of meetings after a six-month study of the Canadian retail chain, jonathans. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the store managers, she escapes from the boardroom of the Château Frontenac Hotel, only to be bowled over by Roger and Adam’s dog. Guilty over the accident, Roger invites Serenity out for a drink by way of apology. Over the course of the week, and spending time together, feelings long dor-

| MELANIE ROBERTSON-KING | mant for Roger are re-awakened. At the same time emotions foreign to Serenity fill her with contentment and happiness. Will the couple get their happily ever after? Excerpt The following morning, six months of gruelling work came to fruition. In the Place d’Armes conference room, Serenity turned on her MacBook Air with the PowerPoint presentation and ensured the projector functioned. In addition to the electronic copy, the hard copies she made in Montreal for the jonathans participants were placed them in front of each chair. This was the first time her superior sat in on one of her meetings, making her more nervous than normal. Did he not trust her judgement? Scheduled to start at ten a.m., a number of attendees were still missing. The time function on her Fitbit indicated three minutes to go. The managers had to arrive soon or her boss’s trust in her abilities would be shattered. A brief assessment of her leather-bound notebook confirmed the time and date. Gradually, men in three-piece suits, shirts and ties straggled in. They nodded at her as they took their seats. During her visits to the outlets across Canada, she came together with them. All were friendly and cooperative. Some stores performed well, while others struggled. The head of jonathans made his entrance. Well over six feet in stature, with a stocky frame, his imposing size commanded respect and attention. “Good morning,” she said. The man acknowledged her with a nod of his head and moved to the head of the table. Now, she and the other attendees waited for her missing employer and one last jonathans employee. “We’ll give them another five minutes then we’ll start. In the meantime, feel free to look at the documents in front of you.” She lingered by the chair used by the director of the Vancouver location and smiled. The door burst open, eliminating the opportunity to speak with the gentleman. In the gap stood the man from the Yorkville Avenue outlet, as unkempt as the first time she met him. When he looked up, his eyes

bulged, and his jaw dropped. “You’re the hardnosed, jumped up high and mighty who made trouble. You’re the reason we’re having this powwow,” he snapped. The hairs on the back of her neck bristled. Coat plucked from the rack, she darted out the door putting on the garment on the fly. The man busted her straight away. No way could she head this meeting now. Where was Martin Thacker? He would have stood by her. She left the hotel, turned right, and scurried through the arched vehicular entryway on Rue Saint Louis. From there, she stumbled to the boardwalk running adjacent to the spectacular architecture and overlooked the St. Lawrence River and the town underneath. Snow, packed down from shovelling and plowing, made the boards slippery. High-heeled shoes were inappropriate for the conditions, but escaping that room was paramount. Why did she allow that man to antagonize her? Any other time, any other meeting and she would have let comments like his roll off her. This action was out of character. Struggling to maintain her balance, she picked her way to the hand rail. At least she had gloves in her pockets. After extracting the knitted mittens, she pulled them on her hands and tried to regain her composure so she could go back to the meeting. She would have to create an excuse for her sudden departure. Arms resting on the bannister, she took in long, slow breaths. Each time she exhaled a puff of steam formed in front of her. About to go back into the warmth of the hotel’s conference room, she let go and turned. A massive black dog charged at her with a man and a boy in pursuit. The ear flaps of the man’s trapper hat resembled wings. Stretched out horizontally, how he managed not to take flight astounded her. “Tori, bad girl. Halt.” The man shouted commands to the canine, but the animal was oblivious to them. Before she had an opportunity to react, the black Lab launched itself in the air and hit her square in the chest knocking her to the ground. The impact Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | sent her eyeglasses flying and they crashed on the granite ledge beneath the handrail. The child dove for them but couldn’t get a proper grip. His fingertips brushed the frames and her eyewear skittered away from him on the icy rock and vanished.

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Don’t miss these titles:

feature author Engy started her career in the entertainment industry and years later, she worked in brand consulting. Some of the interesting personalities she met along the way have inspired the characters in her books. She’s a Southern California native and finds solace in being outdoors. Meditation and yoga help her maintain a Zen outlook in the midst of life’s chaotic blessings. Engy lives with her husband, two kids and dog on Long Island, New York.

Uncaged welcomes Engy Neville Uncaged: You started out in the entertainment industry – working with celebrities and red carpet events. Why did you transition to being an author? I wouldn’t say that I transitioned to being an author but more that I’ve dedicated more time to writing. Writing was and still is a creative outlet. I’m a storyteller and I love drawing from real life experiences to give my characters more depth. I enjoy the process of dreaming up characters and then letting them come to life on the pages of the story.

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Uncaged: What inspires you to write romance? I’m inspired by strong women that fight for their dreams in all aspects of their life. The romance is the icing on the cake. I like writing stories that show the heroine’s personal growth and discovering a deeper sense of herself. Strong heroines make for a better romantic partner.

Uncaged: What do you have coming out next that you can tell us about?

Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you feel you can take away from them?

A Christmas Wish is a novel about a young woman that overcomes unexpected challenges at work and in her personal life. One day, her life is near perfect and the next minute, everything is falling apart. Through the low moments, she learns to find happiness within herself and carve out her own destiny.

I do read my reviews, every single one of them. It’s my way of showing appreciation for the readers that took the time to read my books and review them. My takeaway is that every reader has a different take on the same book and that’s part of the magic. The same book will resonate with different readers for a million different reasons. It’s humbling knowing that our unique experiences in our individual journeys play a role in everything from our daily decisions to how we relate to a book.

Uncaged: What advice would you give new authors? Approach writing the way you’d approach a work project. Don’t just write when the mood strikes. If you actually want to write, you have to take it seriously and set time aside for writing. Also, it helps to have deadlines that you’re working towards. Every author has his / her own process for writing and there’s no right way or wrong way. Find out what yours is and go from there. As you evolve as a writer, your process might evolve also and that’s ok. Be patient, don’t get discouraged and don’t give up.

Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? One of the nicest thing someone has said to me was they couldn’t put my book down until they were finished and then they felt sad the book ended. Seriously, that’s gold! And yes, the ugly cry was in full effect when I read that. Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth? I have a few favorite things depending on the time of year. During the summers, I love being outside. Being from LA, it’s in our DNA to gravitate towards nature and outdoor activities. Every summer I grow an organic vegetable garden. Not to brag, but I have a green thumb! In the winter, I tend to cocoon with a good book. I’m a bookworm. My favorite place on earth is Positano in the Amalfi Coast. My husband and I went there on our honeymoon and the coastal town was everything we dreamed of and more. Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you? I have an obsession with Roman and ancient Egyptian history. I’m convinced I’ve had a past life in Pompeii. My love for Pompeii inspired my first novel, A Leap In Time. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you lovelies for reading my books and sharing them with readers in your life. Your support means the world to me. I would love to hear from you. Follow me here for the latest:

Enjoy an excerpt from A Christmas Wish A Christmas Wish Engy Neville Contemporary Romance/ Holiday Amy McKinsey is living her dream. In Manhattan. Working for one of the most popular lifestyle magazines in the country. Dating the perfect man, Richie Hendricks, III. Her charmed life couldn’t be better. Christmas was gearing up to be everything she hoped for and more. Until everything falls apart. The dream job becomes a battle to the death when her old nemesis—and former boss—joins the team, determined to ruin her. Worse, her perfect man all but disappears when he’s forced to take over the family business. What else could life possibly throw in her path? In this touching and inspirational story, Amy must learn that true happiness lies in unexpected places, and only she can forge her own destiny. Excerpt The summer heat rolled deliciously over her skin, and Amy soothed the first prickles threatening with a generous dollop of sunscreen. She loved everything about summer from the long bright days to the blue skies to the spontaneous beach trips. Being a Los Angeles native, she had never missed the beach until recently. It was always there, available and waiting. After moving to New York at the tail end of the coldest winters on record, yearning

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| ENGY NEVILLE | for the beach and warm temperatures was suddenly a real dilemma. She couldn’t believe her lucky stars when Megan, her coworker and friend, invited Amy and Amy’s best friends Miranda and Lisa to the Hamptons for a whole week. The beach house belonged to Megan’s parents. They’d planned a summer in Europe, but their regular dog sitter had already scheduled a vacation herself for the week, so the duty fell to Megan. “You can’t make this stuff up,” Amy said, more to herself than anyone. She could barely contain her enthusiasm; her only hesitation was the preplanned staycation with her best friends from LA for a week of sightseeing in the city. Granted, a week in the hot and humid city didn’t compare to a beach house in the Hamptons, but she still didn’t want them to feel slighted. They’d been inseparable since college, and this was the longest stretch of time they’d ever been apart. She missed them. To her relief, when she called Miranda to explain the slight change of plans, Miranda’s didn’t hold back her excitement. “What? Are you kidding?” Miranda screamed into the phone. Someone in the background shushed Miranda, and she muttered a quick apology. “I’m listening. I’m just stepping outside to talk to you,” she whispered. “I’m not kidding. It’s all set. Do you remember me mentioning my coworker, Megan?” Amy asked, her voice rising with excitement. “Long story short, her parents need her to watch their dog while they’re in Europe, and she thought it would be fun for us to join her. So I said yes on our behalf. I hope you don’t mind. If you hate the idea, we can always back out. It’s not a big deal.” Reaching for her wine, Amy took a generous sip and leaned back into the chair, glass in hand. An entire week at the beach house sounded heavenly. Amy couldn’t be more grateful or more excited to get out of the city and experience a real summer in the coveted Hamptons. A beach vacation. What could be better? “It sounds really cool. That’s so nice of her. There’s only one small problem… I know our original plan

was for Lisa to come too, but she can’t make it anymore. She’s on some crazy deadline and she’s hoping to make partner. So it’s just me. Is that okay?” Loud honking muffled Miranda’s voice. Impatient LA drivers. “Of course that’s okay. Bummer about Lisa. She’ll miss out on a great trip,” Amy said, her enthusiasm waning a bit. “I’m glad you’re still coming. We’re going to have a blast, and you’re going to love Megan. She’s so sweet and mellow.” “I can hardly wait. I can’t tell you how much I need this getaway. I’ve been teaching back-toback classes since you left and have worked almost every weekend. Between people taking vacations and calling in sick, I seem to be the only one available to teach vinyasa. Anyway, let me run. I need to air out the studio before my class. The instructor before me never cracks open a single window, ever. It’s so disgusting in there,” Miranda said before blowing kisses into the phone and ringing off. Now, a few weeks later, Amy was fully embracing the aristocratic lifestyle of East Hampton, practically feeling like a local as she woke up early to practice yoga on the beach with Megan in tow and Miranda at the helm. She wasn’t sure how long their ritual would last, but it was day two, and their dedication hadn’t wavered yet. Amy hardly recognized herself these days. The sudden shift in her life after accepting a new job in a city so far away from home proved to be a positive and a rejuvenating change. As the marketing manager at Glitz, a popular Los Angeles based lifestyle magazine, Amy was often the punching bag for her incompetent and inexperienced young boss who had landed the position because of family connections, not merit. Amy had hit a low point in her life and career when Sarah began targeting her, issuing insults and verbal assaults as a form of sport for her own amusement. Lo and behold, a dream job at her favorite magazine opened, and despite some unforeseen hurIssue 29 | December 2018 |


| FEATURE AUTHOR | dles along the way, Amy nailed the interview and landed the job. The leap of faith required to move her entire life within a matter of weeks was the catalyst for other positive changes. Instead of snoozing the alarm a million times before dragging herself to the office, Amy now woke up extra early to squeeze in a yoga class before work. Ironically, Miranda taught yoga daily at a local studio not far from Amy’s old apartment in Brentwood, CA, and yet it took moving cross-country for her to embrace the healthier lifestyle. She gave up the gazillion cups of coffee a day and switched to Jasmine green tea—unsweetened. She found herself smiling more often than not, the light in her brown eyes shining brightly. She pinched herself at least once a day for her good fortune.

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fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author Carrie Pack


Richard Farsi


Carrie Pack is an author of books in multiple genres, including Designs on You (2014), In the Present Tense (2016), and Grrrls on the Side (2017). She is a recipient of two Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year Bronze awards: in 2016 for In the Present Tense (science fiction) and in 2017 for Grrrls on the Side (young adult). Grrrls on the Side was also a finalist in the Bi Book Awards. She also hosts the BiSciFi podcast and is creator of the #BiSciFi Twitter chat. She’s passionate about science fiction, feminism, and red lipstick. Carrie lives in Florida, or as she likes to call it, “America’s Wang.” 64 |

The Lights Carrie Pack Horror It’s winter break and Molly Monroe is content to enjoy her town’s annual Festival of Lights with her girlfriend Chelsea at her side. But almost immediately after the lights go up, the town’s children begin to act strangely, especially Molly’s own brother, Roger. When their next-door neighbors are killed in a grisly double homicide, Molly begins to suspect the incidents are linked. Now she must convince her parents and the rest of the town to take down the Christmas lights before everyone gets killed. Excerpt We still had another week of school left before break, but something was making me unsettled and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Chelsea and I had big plans: sitting on the couch in our PJs eating junk food and watching ‘90s teen movies and cheesy Christmas rom-coms. So I should have been excited. Two whole weeks without homework or teachers or tests, and absolutely no burpees or running laps. But I couldn’t shake this eerie feeling that something was horrifically wrong. It didn’t help that Roger was still being a pain in the ass. He’d been acting weird since the processional. I’d find him standing in his bedroom door staring off into the

| CARRIE PACK | distance or sitting in front of a blank TV screen for hours at a time. On Wednesday, he was sitting on my bed in the dark when I came home from practice. I screamed as I turned on the lights. I clutched my hand to my chest. “Holy shit, Roger! You scared the crap out of me.” My heart beat faster than it had on the track that afternoon. “What are you doing in here?” Roger stared at me but didn’t speak. “Roger?” He blinked but said nothing. I inched closer, gently laying my gym bag on the floor at my feet. “Are you okay? Are you sick?” Still nothing. I took a couple steps toward him. “Want me to get Mom?” “It’s time,” he said. His eyes were glassy and dark. My room suddenly felt cold and unfamiliar. Shakily, I pointed toward the door. “Get out of my room.” Roger didn’t move. Panic pinched tightly in my middle. “Get out!” I yelled through clenched teeth. Roger slowly rose and walked toward me. I stepped to the side and held my breath. He walked silently into the hallway. I exhaled. Roger paused and glanced back at me. “It’s time,” he muttered, almost as if he were speaking to himself. I slammed the door and tried to calm my racing heart. I didn’t come out of my room again that night. On Friday Roger came home from school with a brutal headache. I overheard Mom on the phone saying he was the fifteenth kid in his school to come down with one in the last two days. The fourth just in his class. First it was Dominic Walker, then Danny Evans

and Charity Robideaux. Now Roger. “It’s probably just something going around,” she said. “But I thought you’d like to know since he and Brayden were at practice together the other day.” Brayden Watson was a kid on Roger’s basketball team that was homeschooled. His mom was a germaphobe, constantly sanitizing everything. She demanded that the parents call her whenever any of the kids on the team were sick. “Yeah, I will. Thanks. You too. Bye.” She hung up and grabbed a bottle of Tylenol “Well, mister,” she said to Roger. and immediately put Roger to bed and gave him some Tylenol, just like the school nurse had suggested. Then she called Dr. Rodriguez and made an appointment for the next day. She seemed to think he was coming down with the flu. “What’s wrong with him?” I asked Mom. “It’s probably just the flu. Nothing to worry about, sweetie.” She kissed me on the forehead. “Just wash your hands a lot and try to keep your distance for a few days. Okay?” “Yeah. No problem.” Keeping my distance was the easy part. I already had been thanks to Roger’s near-catatonic state. Maybe he really was sick. That certainly would explain all his weird behavior. That afternoon, though, Roger seemed restless. He came downstairs at least a half dozen times. “Are you thirsty, honey?” Mom gave him some juice and sent him back upstairs. “How about a popsicle?” Mom plopped a grape one between his tiny fingers and sent him on his way. By the third time, her patience was wearing thin. “Go back to bed. You need rest.” And she shuttled him back to his room. The next time he appeared Mom felt his forehead. “No fever.” She furrowed her brow. “How’s your head?” Issue 29 | December 2018 |


| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | But he didn’t answer, so she shooed him back upstairs. The last time he appeared she simply said, “Go back to bed, Rog.” It was quiet while we ate dinner. Mom checked on Roger, then she and Dad went upstairs to watch TV. The volume was so loud I could hear it in my room, so I stayed downstairs to do my homework. Around seven-thirty, while trudging through my pre-calculus problems, I heard the first scream. I chalked it up to dumb kids in the neighborhood. It had snowed the night before and snowball fights weren’t uncommon this time of year. About twenty minutes later, I heard another scream. This time it was a louder, more terrified scream. It was coming from next door. But the Van Atters had no kids. “Fucking assholes,” I muttered. How could they bother Jim and Beverly? They were literally the nicest people in the neighborhood. I went to the patio door and flipped on the lights. Our backyard was awash in brightness, but I couldn’t see much beyond the swing set Dad had built for me when I was Roger’s age. I pressed myself up against the glass and squinted to try to see into the Van Atters backyard. It was pitch black. That was odd. Usually they left their lights on until they went to bed around eleven. As I watched, the screaming continued, but I was too paralyzed with fear to investigate. I pulled out my phone and began to dial 911, but I didn’t hit send. I didn’t want to be that girl. I held my breath with my thumb over the button, waiting for a sign that told me it was okay to panic. And that’s when I saw her. A little girl with two perfect, dark braids framing her face stood as still as a statue in front of the swing set. I exhaled a shaky breath and waited for her to do something. As I studied the girl, I noticed her fuchsia dress and pale face were flecked with what looked like paint. Her gaze was fixed on the 66 |

Van Atters’ house but she still hadn’t moved. Her bare feet were covered in mud up to her ankles. She had to be freezing. I reached for the door to open it. Perhaps she had been the one screaming. And then I saw it. In her right hand she gripped a large kitchen knife. That wasn’t paint on her dress. I jumped back from the sliding glass door and bit my lip to keep from screaming. My phone clattered to the floor and landed under the dining room table. When I looked back up, the girl was staring at me and I recognized her. It was a girl from Roger’s class, Danica Woodson. Our parents were friends, and when they were younger, she and Roger had play dates together. But this wasn’t the Danica I knew. Her pale green eyes had gone as black as the sky above her. Her bowshaped mouth was now an angry slash of red. At first I wasn’t sure she recognized me. But as I made a plan to dive for my phone and make a break for it she broke into a sinister grin as she started walking toward me. I screamed and took off for my parents’ bedroom. At the top of the stairs, I nearly collided with Roger. I was running so fast, I hadn’t seen him. “Rog, what are you doing?” But Roger didn’t answer. He just stared. “Come on, boo, let’s get you back to bed.” I put an arm around him, expecting him to follow, but he wouldn’t budge. I knelt down so I was at his level, but he regarded me with a curious look. His head tilted to one side and he smiled at me. “It’s time,” he said softly. “Time for what?” I asked, my voice shaking. “Time for bed.” My Dad’s voice came from behind us. “You get back in bed, kiddo. You don’t want me to tell Santa to put you on the naughty list.” Without looking at Dad or saying anything, Roger

| CARRIE PACK | walked silently to his bedroom and shut the door. I swallowed around the invisible ball of cotton in my throat. Something was not right. “Dad, I heard a noise outside. Will you come take a look?” “Sure, honey.” He patted me on the shoulder and descended the stairs. I knew when he saw Danica he’d know what to do. So I sat and waited, craning my neck to try to see … anything. But I may as well have been blind. I chewed nervously on my fingernails and waited. The silence was deafening. Footsteps crunched in the snow outside, lights switched on and then off. Time slowed to a crawl. Then I heard the scratch-squeak of the patio door opening and closing. I held my breath. The hall light switched on and Dad’s face came into view. He rubbed his hands together and warmed them with his breath. “Nothing there, kiddo.” I released my breath. “Are you sure? You checked the backyard?” He nodded. “Probably just a dog or something. Whatever it was, it’s gone now.” I knew what I saw and it wasn’t a dog. But the longer I sat there on the warmth of the stairs, I became more convinced that I’d blown it out of proportion. Perhaps it was a weird shadow instead of mud on Danica’s feet. A stick instead of a knife. Melted snow instead of blood that dotted her pretty dress. It was pretty dark out. Maybe I should have told my dad what I actually saw. But I don’t think he’d have believed me if I had. And in that moment, I felt safe and loved and whole.

Issue 29 | December 2018 |



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| RICHARD FARSI | End Survival Richard Farsi Horror We wake up every day, go to work, come home and repeat the cycle. This is the life of your average working member of society and then one day you wake up thinking about another average day, but you find your life is no longer average. Tyler has always had end of the world dreams and ideas that until now all his friends have considered him a bit crazy. He went from a normal Monday-to-Friday job to searching and stockpiling food and weapons. Along his way, he meets other normal people finding their way to “safe zones” but the zombies, yes zombies, aren’t making it an easy task. Is the whole state like this? The entire country? Or maybe even the world? Tyler is hell bent on finding out and will do whatever it takes to survive.....the end survival? Excerpt I never thought that dreams could ever become reality. For years I have been infatuated with zombie movies and books and would sit and daydream about all the ‘what ifs’. Just imagine waking up one day, and seeing the dead walking around. I thought What would I do? I found myself trying to plan everything out in my head. Where would I get supplies? How would I secure the house? Do I have the right weapons? Would I even be able to survive?

friends. I saw the looks on their faces and the expressions in their eyes. I could tell they were trying to figure out which loony bin they might have to ship me off to (and which one would be the least expensive). So over time I learned to curb my enthusiasm and keep all the strange thoughts and ‘what ifs’ to myself. Well, maybe now people can take me more seriously. I never wanted to tell anyone “I told you so,” but well, you know. I was right. The Zombie Apocalypse began. Did it start on a dark, hazy night? Was it in a creepy, old cemetery? Maybe in the morgue? Nope, wrong. It wasn’t in any of those places. This nightmare begins for me in the most normal place in the world. Right down the street from my modest, little home in the suburbs. Just an ordinary middle class neighborhood. On a nice sunny day, not too warm and not too cool, it is early in the afternoon and I am in my driveway washing my car. I happen to glance up as a bird flies overhead and I see what appears to be a slow or maybe lazy person walking down the road. I don’t think much of it and continue to clean the car, but as this person comes closer and closer, I start to notice some strange details.

Maybe it sounds as though I’m just bored and have no life, or maybe I’m really crazy, but after reading all the books and survival guides and watching countless movies on the subject, I began to wonder where people came up with these ideas. It had to stem from somewhere. Could there be some truth in all these tales? Maybe I am not completely crazy after all, but I could never talk about any of this with my family or Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Uncaged Reviews Blending In

R.J. Blain Urban Fantasy/Holiday Thanks to a jealous divine, whenever Chase Butler comes anywhere near Miriah, she turns into a chameleon. While her hopes of having a happily ever with Mr. Right are dashed, she’s determined to have the next best thing: a perfect Christmas.

Uncaged Review: This is such a fun book, and the originality is off the charts. I found myself laughing out loud at the banter between characters and even the thoughts of Miriah. Miriah is set on two things, keeping her job and having a perfect Christmas for her son, Caleb. When her boss loans her out to Chase Butler to help unravel a money skimming operation against Chase’s company, Miriah is 1) resigned to being a chameleon for the duration because of her attraction to Chase, and 2) is then targeted by someone wanting to get rid of her. This can easily be read as a standalone, but you are definitely going to want to go back and read the rest of this series. This book has just about everything you could want in a holiday read. Suspense, romance (the clean kind), danger, fantastic secondary characters and a whole lot of humor. Just wait until Christmas Eve and Midnight Mass with Miriah’s parents. Pass the chicken. Reviewed by Cyrene

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A Regency Yuletide Becky Lower Historical Regency/Holiday After a disappointing season in London, Sophie Davenport returns home without a marriage proposal. No sooner does she settle back into her country life than she learns her uncle has arranged for her to marry the local vicar’s son, a respectable and utterly forgettable man. He’s returning home immediately after the Christmas holiday and they will wed. She sets about making this last Christmas with just she and her mother memorable. Uncaged Review: A very charming regency with enough of a story to pull me right in and read from start to finish in one setting. Even though it’s novella length, it’s still a very nice addition to anyone’s holiday reading fare. Even though Jeremy is footloose and free, he hatches a plan to get his best friend Thomas and his lady, Emma spirited off to get married, as Emma’s father is trying to marry her off to an undesirable older man. After their carriage gets stuck in heavy ruts from rains, they find shelter in a cottage with a lady and her daughter Sophie. Jeremy is struck by the simple beauty and intelligence of Sophie, and with a meddling mother afoot, they get more alone time than is really proper. The author did a wonderful job, drawing you into the story with enough description to set you inside the parlor, instead of looking through a window. The romance is quick, but it works. This is a nice feel good story perfect for the season and historical romance lovers. Reviewed by Cyrene

A Must for Christmas Deborah Garland Contemporary Romance/Holiday It was supposed to be perfect... Faith Mallory finally has it all. She married her childhood sweetheart, the only man she ever loved and in a month she and Greg will be blessed with two sons to carry on the Mallory family name. Life was supposed to be perfect. Except, it isn’t. Faith is keeping secrets, some that will threaten their happy-ever-after.

Uncaged Review: A couple days before Christmas Eve, Faith goes into early labor. With complications of having twins, they rush her into the hospital and surgery. With added complications, Greg is surrounded by family as Faith battles for her life, as does one of the twin boys. This is a gem of a book – and even though it’s novella length, it packs the right amount of emotion, background and good feeling for this moment in their lives. Even though this novella is part of the Darling Cove series, I had no issues being able to read this as a standalone. The author does an outstanding job in keeping a new reader up to date. Nice read to snuggle up with on cold day this holiday season. Reviewed by Cyrene

Holiday Heart T.M. Cromer Contemporary Romance/Holiday Fiona “Fee” McIntyre gets more than she bargained for when she moves to the small town of Stonebrooke to open her bookstore. With a world-famous author as her new smokinghot landlord, an ex-boyfriend who wishes to rekindle their love, and a stalker out to ruin her every relationship, her life is in upheaval. Uncaged Review: A nice relaxing read, easy to read in one sitting. It’s not an overly holiday stuffed romance, but it does give the reader a nice plot, with a bit of danger and mystery. Fee and her brother Killian move to a small town to open a bookstore with an inheritance she got from her late grandfather, and when she finds out her landlord is the famous author Dylan McAdams the fun truly begins. This author keeps you smiling and outright laughing at times and the story is set on a nice pace. Even though it’s a shorter novella length, nothing felt hurried or left out. There was enough mystery to keep me turning the pages, and the romance between Dylan and Fee is spot on. A nice holiday romance that hits a nice spot this season. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Uncaged Reviews A Charlie Browne Christmas Laurie Baxter Contemporary Romance/ Holiday

showed up.

Ming loves Christmas and the movies and today she’s treating herself to a little of both. Too bad the blockhead who broke her heart in high school just

Uncaged Review: This is a cute and humorous short story – and I won’t get into any specifics, but it is actually a perfect length that doesn’t rush the story, nor does it drag out. There is some cute plays on the title within the book, and for a nice short interlude, it’s worth the fun and proves that sometimes we carry the past into our futures for all the wrong reasons. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Seductive Surrender Collette Cameron Historical Highlands Their futures collide. Forced together in order to oust a would-be killer, irresistible passion erupts between Gwendolyn and Dugall. Dare she trust her traitorous heart one last time, especially to a known rake? How can he choose between his love for Gwendolyn and his desire to be a spy? Uncaged Review: As with all of Ms. Cameron’s books in this series, you can easily read this as a standalone, although there are some reoccurring characters showing up from earlier books, and you definitely won’t be disappointed in this series. This time out, Gwendolyn moves her family to Scotland after finding out her young nephew is the heir to a Lairdship. With yet a fourth broken engagement, Gwendolyn is happy to get out of America and away from the humiliation. Being the guardian of both her nephew and niece, she sells their plantation in America and sets out to her new destination in Scotland. Dugall is an honorable hero, and Gwendolyn is a strong and feisty woman who is a good match. And it was great to see Ewan and Yvette McTavish again. I’m a huge fan of catching up with past characters as much as I am for meeting new heroes. This book has a couple good twists that I didn’t see coming, and even though I expected one thing, Ms. Cameron threw me a curve ball and it was fun and unexpected. This author never fails to entertain me, and I always look forward to reading her books. This is a great series, not to be missed.Reviewed by Cyrene

Destroying Dominic Ginger Ring Contemporary Mafia Romance Dominic I don’t dance. I don’t date. I don’t fall in love. But there’s one woman who does intrigue me—Stephanie Barclay, the best friend of my boss’s wife. The same boss who wants Stephanie dead. Uncaged Review: I’ve read the other books in this series, and I was thrilled to learn that Dominic was going to get his story this time out. The mystery and background on what/who made Dominic, the cleaner for the mob, who he is, is all revealed. And we learn about Stephanie – a lady hiding from her past, and working for, and best friend to Madison. All out favorites are back, especially Roman and Madison. I only have two minor complaints on this. There was a lot of Dom and Stephanie dancing around each other – I think that was a bit overdone, I felt like locking the two of them in a small room and leaving them there so they had to actually talk to each other instead of over thinking everything. Secondly, although I liked the outcome, the ending was a little too pristine for a mafia group.

The Haunting of Dylan Klaypool James Alan Ross Horror

To hear the truth, she must listen to the silence. Dylan Klaypool’s dark history has her searching for answers that can only be found down a single path: paranormal investigation. Battling demons from her past, the high school junior’s obsession with proving the existence of ghosts has become the only consistent aspect of her troubled life. Now living with her estranged grandmother in a new town and attending a new school, Dylan’s focus has not wavered. And the boarded up, abandoned house she discovered on Cemetery Road might hold the key that can unlock the secrets that have long haunted her.

Uncaged Review: A new adult book with elements of paranormal activity. I really enjoyed reading about Dylan and her activity into the paranormal world. Even with this only being the first book in this adventure. I am already a fan of the kooky Dylan. I also liked the side story in this book. Really hoping there’s more to come in this series. Highly recommended by me. Reviewed by Jennifer

Even if you’ve never tried a mafia romance, this author is well worth a look. With a strong supporting cast and even a new player to the scene, Jasper (are we going to get more on him please?)– this series will draw you in and you will be completely engaged. Romance, danger and mystery are all strung together nicely in this story. And it was nice to see that Roman has not gone soft and Madison can still keep him in line. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Uncaged Reviews Tombyards & Butterflies Orlando A. Sanchez Urban Fantasy

Dark Moon

Kathryn Le Veque Medieval Romance

A Missing Ferryman. An Undead Dilemma. An Immortal Detective. An emissary from the Dark Council has just materialized in the office of the Montague & Strong Detective Agency, and makes Simon Strong an offer he can’t refuse. Charon is missing. The legendary ferryman responsible for transporting sorcerer souls across the river Styx hasn’t been seen in days. And with each passing hour, those unable to cross the river are left to walk among the living, tilting the world further out of balance.

1518 A.D – As the eldest son of the knight who betrayed Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth (Gaston de Russe of THE DARK ONE: DARK KNIGHT), Trenton de Russe bears the dark legacy of men who changed the course of history. The name de Russe is both hated and revered in England, and is well-known to the kings of England who have depended upon the family for their strongest, most noble, and sometimes most controversial knights.

Uncaged Review: A voice in the urban fantasy genre that I am so happy to read. This book will shoot you out of the gate at full throttle and it’s a fun ride. Simon Strong is an immortal detective and his partner, Tristan Montague is a high level mage. With a mix of Norse and Greek mythology, this book never lets up and when you hit the 50% mark, be prepared to read until the end.

Uncaged Review: This author doesn’t know how to write a bad book. She doesn’t even know how to write a 4 Star book. She is consistently a 5 Star read, and you would think that she would start repeating herself somewhere along the line, but every single story is original and unique. The only thing similar is that the books are written in the author’s style, which drags me into the story and makes me feel like I’m walking the hallways of the castles as the story unfolds.

Strong action sequences, smart writing and a lot of humor make this a must read for urban fantasy lovers. How can you resist a vampire allergic to blood, or a Hellhound called Peaches? Even though Simon is immortal (cursed into it) – he definitely tries to avoid testing his immortality but with his mouth getting him into trouble and him running headlong into trouble, that is almost unavoidable. This is a fun, well written urban fantasy, and I can’t wait to learn more about the characters in the books to come. Reviewed by Cyrene

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This is a story of love, revenge, friendship and loyalty. And ponies. You will bust out the tissue box one moment and be cheering out loud in others. And I totally didn’t stand up and yell when Dane and Cort came riding onto the grounds. OK, maybe I did. But thankfully only my cat saw me do it and I won’t be locked away soon. Easily highly recommended – so pick up a copy and get on Le Veque’s roller coaster, you won’t be sorry you did. Reviewed by Cyrene

Love Blooms Collection M. Kay Kleven Romance Anthology

Come along and enjoy watching ‘Love Bloom’ in each of these eight short stories: Azalea Boulevard, Brittlebush Junction, Lilac Road, Mum Creek, Primrose Bay, Rose Harbor, Stargazer Way, and Winterberry Hills.

Uncaged Review: This is a book filled with a various collection of short stories. With love being the theme it may seem trivial, but is something that consumes a large proportion of our lives. I think the old saying still goes with today’s generation: “You can’t help who you fall in love with.” A message that is well worth its weight in gold and beautifully written by this author. There is a different mixture of all sorts of stories in this wonderful collection. For young and old. Far too many to choose from. So let’s start by reading this book and falling in love. Reviewed by Jennifer

No Tomorrow

Carian Cole Rockstar Romance The people we love are thieves. They steal our hearts. They steal our breath. They steal our sanity. And we let them. Over and over and over again.

Uncaged Review: I have a love/dislike relationship with this book. It will break you. It will rebuild. It will break you. It will rebuild. And this is the mantra throughout the book. The story itself is heartbreaking, but it’s not all angst. There are some wonderful moments that keep you going. The downside, the book is a bit long and drawn out, with situations repeating themselves or overly explained - to almost the point of boredom. But then it will draw you back into the story – but a lot could have been edited out – to make this one of the best reads of the year, but it didn’t quite make it. The love part – I loved both our characters, and specially Blue/Evan. What he was going through and how he tried to fix himself and gain control of his life, is heartbreaking and beautiful and believable. Piper is a strong woman, but also quite self-destructive in her own way, the way she lets Blue treat her over and over. It’s not that he doesn’t love her, it’s just he can’t stop himself. Most women would have bailed out long ago, and maybe that’s why Blue calls her his “warrior.” The story of his and Piper’s relationship is both inspirational and disappointing. The dislike – the “disappointing” started pretty fast. The first time these two come together for sex, is almost forced, and it’s unaspiring to say the least. And a bit unbelievable. But if you hang in there, it gets better. One example of the drawn out part for me was when one character said something, you might not see the answer from the other until a few paragraphs later, and then I felt a little dropped out of the conversation a bit and almost forgot what was said. On a whole, I liked the book. I like that the author tackled mental illness in a way that is both respectable and realistic and didn’t sugar coat it. So my love/dislike relationship with the book still kept me turning the pages to read, even though I had to set it down and come back to it at times to clear my head before it drew me back in. Even with all that said, this book is compelling – when a book can make you feel as much as this one does, it’s like a drug in itself - you can’t force yourself to stop reading. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Uncaged Reviews Playing Defense

Aven Ellis Contemporary/Sports Romance

Dirty Like Me

Jaine Diamond Rockstar Romance

A gorgeous rock star. An indecent proposal. How can a girl resist? After a string of bad set-ups and boring dates, Reese Brannon is done with men. She’s focused on her job as a fitness model and blogger. Her life in the city is fun. She’s young. There’s no need to look for a man because she doesn’t want one. Especially when relationships usually end in heartbreak. Uncaged Review: I started this book and didn’t stop until I was finished. The storyline has some extremely funny lines and I loved the humor between Reece and JP. This book is a part of the Dallas Demons Hockey Series. It can be read and enjoyed as a standalone as I haven’t read the books in order myself. It’s a simple story of girl meets boy still a very emotional and heartwarming read. Highly recommend this book. Reviewed by Jennifer

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Struggling barista Katie Bloom doesn’t even know who Jesse Mayes is until she inadvertently wins the coveted role of sex kitten in his hot new music video. But by the time she’s in bed with him, she knows his reputation. Uncaged Review: I have a soft spot for Rockstar romances, and this one hits the spot nicely. This is a new author to me, and I definitely am on board. When Katie Bloom is recruited to play hot rock star Jesse Mayes girlfriend in a video, the video ends up going viral, and Jesse offers Katie a job to play his girlfriend for a 6 week tour. The problem is, will Katie be able to keep her heart from getting involved? This is great start to this series that concentrates on the band Dirty. A fun and sexy read that kept me wanting to pick it back up, even after I put it down for one reason or another and it grabbed a hold of me within the first few pages. The only caution I have is there is a lot of alcohol use and some minor drug use. The characters are fantastic, gorgeous rock stars with hearts of gold and strong women that can handle them, and I can’t wait to read more. Reviewed by Cyrene

Katie & the Cowboy

Carol Lee Mahler Contemporary Western Romance

on as foreman.

The good news is that Katie Monroe has inherited her grandmother’s Texas ranch–her favorite place on earth. The bad news is that the will stipulates that she must keep handsome cowboy Chance McCoy

Uncaged Review: Katie Monroe spent summers at her grandmother’s Texas ranch—the Double M. It’s been a wonderful place in her heart. Now she has inherited the Double M, but to keep it, Granny’s will stipulates ranch foreman Chance McCoy must be kept on. Their attraction is fast, but when challenges present themselves, it’s no sure bet where their romance will lead. This is a cute story, with sympathetically written characters that are easy to root for. The setting is easy to envision. The story line is good—who doesn’t love a meddling grandma? What holds this book back are a few issues. One is the fast pace. It seems to jump steps or small chunks of time, potentially leaving a reader wondering if they missed something. Another issue is character development. In the beginning Katie is too prideful to wear her glasses due to remarks by her ex-boyfriend. This proves to be a mistake many times. It could also create an image problem for readers who wear glasses themselves—or should wear glasses and already struggle with their appearance. The third issue is details that conflict each other lines later and the cliché ways matters are sometimes handled. It’s too convenient occasionally, if not just unbelievable. One example is how conveniently Chance is taken out of the picture at the time Katie needs him the most. Then magically all is fixed and he rides to the rescue like a knight upon his steed. The last issue is multiple points of

view within the same paragraph by multiple characters throughout the book. By the time Katie finally gets her act together, Chance seems to have lost his altogether. Together, they are prone to making rash choices based on misunderstandings, or impulsive emotions, which could be easily rectified with communication. The characters are very layered, (the story how Chance got his name was cute and shows the layers they have), and the reader might find themselves wanting to grab Katie by the shoulders and shout, “Girl! Get it together!”. Likewise, they will want to tip a beer with Chance and tell him straight up he is going to lose the girl he’s always dreamed of having. Katie and Chance seem like star-crossed lovers, and numerous situations challenge their desire to kindle their love. Reviewed by Ryan Jo

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews The Lights Carrie Pack Horror It’s winter break and Molly Monroe is content to enjoy her town’s annual Festival of Lights with her girlfriend Chelsea at her side. But almost immediately after the lights go up, the town’s children begin to act strangely, especially Molly’s own brother, Roger. When their next-door neighbors are killed in a grisly double homicide, Molly begins to suspect the incidents are linked. Now she must convince her parents and the rest of the town to take down the Christmas lights before everyone gets killed.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Releasing just in time for the holidays, The Lights by Carrie Pack is the perfect amount of creepy to make you question whether those new LED Christmas lights are truly worth it. If the idea of murderous kids obsessed with Christmas lights doesn’t make you nervous, I don’t know what will. When the younger kids in town start acting freaky after the annual Christmas light display in this small town, Molly, her girlfriend Chelsea and their newish friend Brandon must figure out how to keep themselves and loved ones alive. For some reason, none of the adults in town have noticed there’s a problem, but then again why would they expect kids to be murderers? There is something to be said about innocent looking children murdering the adults in town. That is one of the few ideas that scares the hell out of me. Despite my fear of brutal kids, I really loved this book. The Lights is the first book I’ve read by Carrie Pack but I’m confident I will read more of her books very soon. Her story telling is

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top notch and her characters are unique and interesting. They are normal and easy to relate to. The Lights kept me anxiously awaiting the next bit of horror with each page. I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good scare right before Christmas (or anytime really). Thanks to this book, I can say I plan to talk my husband out of buying the lights he planned to get for the house this year!

End Survival Richard Farsi Horror We wake up every day, go to work, come home and repeat the cycle. This is the life of your average working member of society and then one day you wake up thinking about another average day, but you find your life is no longer average. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: End Survival by Richard Farsi is a different sort of zombie book. The main character, Tyler, isn’t the perfect hero. He’s an average guy caught in the zombie apocalypse. He’s normal. He goes to work, he washes his car, cooks for himself etc. He’s a fan of zombie books and films but is in no way an “expert” on the subject. I really like how average he is. He’s also quite funny at times. This book is told from Tyler’s point of view. I know there are some who hate first person for one reason or another, but whatever. I don’t mind it. In this case, it gives the reader insight as to what an average survivor could experience and what could go through their minds. He’s not eloquent, he doesn’t have the superi-

or fighting or survivalist knowledge that many zombie books have. He makes mistakes. I love that about this book. He speaks like most of us would. He’s an imperfect narrator and it works in this book. I didn’t like that he used his guns as much as he did because I feel like that’s a rookie mistake and could potentially attract more zombies, but it worked for him, so I won’t complain too much. I thought it was strange that there aren’t more survivors, but Tyler has noticed it too so I’m excited to read the next book to find out what’s going on. Overall, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Tyler seems like a good guy just trying to survive and seems to be a good person at heart. I think if it were to come down to it there wouldn’t be enough people like him in an actual apocalypse. The uniqueness of the way the story told as well as having relatable characters makes this an enjoyable read for sure. I look forward to finding out what happens to Tyler in the next book.

Bad Cop Angela McCallister Paranormal Romance A cop who tosses the rulebooks to get his way… Vampire Ian McCready doesn’t care for Alice Capshaw’s opinions about his version of justice. Her humanity makes her off-limits, but that does nothing to lessen his overwhelming desire for her. To Alice, Ian is just another bad cop as detestable as the one who destroyed her family. She’s attracted to him, yes, but he threatened his way into her agency’s murder case and has too many secrets.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Alice hates cops. She works for the VLO, Vampire Liaison Office. When she investigates the death of a newly changed vampire, Alice is forced to work with Ian, a Vampire Cop, to solve the case. Someone is killing new vampires, and the case is very familiar to Ian. He thought he solved a case just like this one years ago. Did he kill the wrong man? I had a hard time getting into this book at first. I’m not sure why. I almost gave up on it, but I’m glad that I didn’t. Bad Cop is the 2nd book in the Immortalis series, and I was worried that I would be lost since I didn’t read the first book, Bad Mouth. This worry was unnecessary as the further I got into the book, the more I realized I knew exactly what was going on. I think that if I had read the first book, it would have giving me bits of insight to some of the characters, but I don’t think it took away from the overall read of this book. There is an obvious attraction between Alice and Ian. Alice is so set in her hatred of cops that for a good portion of this book, she fails to see that not everyone is the same. Is Ian a perfect cop in his methods? No. But would I consider him a “dirty” cop? No. The attraction between them is really sexy and you know the sex between them is going to be explosive, but they need to just do it already. There is a scene after he gets shot that gets pretty hot, and that’s the first time we see any kind of sexy times but it felt like a long time until there was another such scene. Overall I liked this book. It had a lot of action, plenty of mystery, and enough sex to keep it interesting without it overrunning the story. I’m not big into the sex scenes, and for me, if there is too much sex it takes away from the focus of the story. McCallister strikes a good balance between all of the different elements of the story and I enjoyed reading it. I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone that likes a crime type book with a touch of vampire and sex. It’s pretty low key on the violence, so there really isn’t much more in this book than in any other.

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Odium VI Claire C. Riley SciFi/Dystopian Book six in the heart-racing post-apocalyptic series, Odium! People will do anything to survive! In the sixth book of the Dead Saga series, Nina is fighting more than just her demons; she’s waging war upon evil, because the greatest enemy now isn’t the deaders—it’s humans.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Dead Saga is the type of series you hope to never see the end of. Each book is just as great as the last and Claire Riley continues to surprise me while never losing sight of the heart of the book. Many series either lose their steam or just keep repeating the same storyline over and over, but lucky for me The Dead Saga isn’t one of those. In book six we are taken back to the post-apocalyptic world of cannibals, zombie/deaders, Nina, Mikey, a couple biker gangs and a few other friends, both new and old. I still haven’t decided how I feel about O’Donnell. Crazypants makes an appearance, though I wish she had more screen time as she is one of my favorites. Nina is still impulsive and can be something of a brat at times, but she has grown as a person immensely. She doesn’t seem as selfish or stupid as she started out and that is something I can appreciate. She used to drive me a little nuts with some of her antics but she has definitely evolved.

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We learn more about the Devil’s Highwaymen and the Devil’s Rejects, their backstories and reasoning behind their feud. The Dead Saga is now slightly tied into Riley’s Devil’s Highwaymen MC Romance series. I’ve read all of the Odium books so far but I’ve only just started reading the Devil’s Highwaymen. I haven’t run into anything that made it imperative to read the other series before Odium, so if MC Romance isn’t your thing, worry not, you will still have plenty of info about them in the Odium books. Overall, this is another great story in this series. The only thing I wish was different is I wish there had been a bit more action, but that’s just me being picky. There is plenty in Odium VI to be surprised about. That ending though!

Moving In Ron Ripley Occult/Ghosts “Iron…and…salt,” whispers the old man. The dead old man. “Hurry or it will be too late…” To escape the stress of living in the city and the anxiety of his high pressure job, Brian Roy moves his family to the country. His wife loves the easy living, but Brian hates it… especially when weird things start happening in the house. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I’m pretty sure I’ve been reading Ripley’s books out of order, series wise at least. In the Moving In series we are introduced to Brian in Jenny (who also appear in the Berkley street series).

This is a great start to this set of books. There are tons of ghosts and we learn how Brian and Jenny become participants in the ghost world. Since I’ve been reading out of order, it was cool to find out the back stories on characters I didn’t realize had roots in other series. Seeing their progress as they learn to navigate this world was quite interesting. This book has several mean ghosts and we are introduced to a bunch of characters we see more of in later books as well as other series. As with the Berkley series books, once I got started I couldn’t stop reading. I’ve had several late nights of reading as I’ve fallen in love with this author’s storytelling. I will say there are more errors and things that weren’t present in later series, but in my opinion, that just means he is growing as an author or he’s gotten a better editor since then. Overall, I highly recommend the Moving In series because one of the things I’ve loved is Ripley’s books don’t follow a set pattern. Something I’ve noticed in a lot of series is the author follows what seems like a mad-libs version of an outline. This makes their books predictable. I don’t think this author does that and it makes for a series of books that I don’t get bored with.

Murderous Little Darlings John Hennessey YA/Occult/Ghosts Three siblings. An endless list of victims. A whole lot of time to kill.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I had high hopes going into this book. Who doesn’t love murderous little kids? They’re terrifying AND adorable. I can’t say I was satisfied. I liked it to some degree, but I didn’t love it as I had hoped. It felt like it took forever to get to the point. It was confusing at times and just left me wanting more. Not in the “this is so awesome I want to know more” kind of way but more of the, “well that wasn’t enough” way. There was a GREAT plot twist at the end though that I never saw coming. That was the best part of the book, and not just because it was the end. I doubt I will read the next book in the series, but it’s not completely out of the question if I find it on sale.

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews

Slow Burn 7 Bobby Adair Horror Kill the infection! Kill the Infected! In the aftermath of the battle for Monk’s Island, Murphy has been nursing Zed back to health in a remote house at the west end of the lake. But every day they see helicopters cross the sky, heading south and then back north again. Myra’s Review: Zed and Murphy are on their own. Their friends have traveled on to a secure new location, Balmorhea, and the two decide not to join them. There are a few among the group, including Murphy’s sister, who will accept them, but others hate or are terrified of Slow Burn Whites like them. Zed is still grieving over losing Stephanie and recovering from his wounds. Murphy is a kind but firm nursemaid. While they stay in one house so Zed can heal, they keep seeing helicopters flying back and forth. Hoping the government is trying to reestablish order, Zed convinces Murphy to go along with him and investigate. Sneaking into the compound where the helicopters land, they discover a new kind of infected; not very smart, 84 |

normal looking with no pale, white skin. The only clue they were Slow Burns were their pupils would not dilate and they felt no pain. A few men who look like military have been captured by the new type of Slow Burns, who call themselves Survivors. Zed decides the soldiers must be rescued. After fierce fighting with the Survivors and Whites outside the compound, the friends run into more Slow Burns like themselves. Swapping stories with those they rescued, Zed learns the soldiers are on a mission to try and save humanity. They are gathering blood samples for scientists they are protecting at a Texas University, with hopes of making a vaccine. As always the friendship between Murphy and Zed adds lots of humor and warmth into a harrowing tale of survival. This series is highly recommended for zombie fans.

Nightmare in the North Kelli Al Wilkins Horror Nightmare in the North

the storm.

Stranded during a violent blizzard, Mark hikes to the only house nearby. George, a well-mannered University professor, welcomes Mark and gives him shelter from

By morning, Mark suspects that everything isn’t what it seems. George’s adult daughter, Kate, who also lives in the house, shares a disturbing and unsettling tale. When questioned, George insists that Kate has a psychological issue and can’t be trusted to tell the truth.

she may tell him. Meanwhile, Kate whispers that she is not George’s daughter and he is holding her hostage. Mark doesn’t know who is lying or who is crazy. This reader wasn’t sure either, although I suspected George more of any dubious intentions. I can’t say anymore without giving away too much, but the ending was creepy. Though I was suspicious the story had certain elements to it that were later confirmed, I was still a bit surprised by the end. A worthy horror read to while away a little time.

Mark quickly finds himself caught in a game of cat and mouse. Who should he believe? Is Kate’s desperate plea for help sincere? Should he be suspicious of George? Or are both of them plotting something together? Isolated from everyone, Mark is forced to wait out the storm—and find a way to escape—if he hopes to make it out alive. Myra’s Review: This is a novella, but still packs a punch! Horror and mystery set in a snowy setting; mother-nature won’t give Mark a chance to leave the safety he finds anytime soon. When Mark’s car runs off the road due to a flat, he discovers the cause is a spiked chain cast across the road. The snow is piling up and a town is not close. Mark feels lucky he spotted a house nearby when he was driving, and very grateful when strangers welcome him into the cozy home. Mark quickly becomes confused when George shares that his daughter, Kate, has mental issues. And don’t believe any wild stories Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews Brokedown Tony Urban Horror Free Read - Sign up for mailing list


A dedicated school bus driver tries to survive the zombie outbreak aboard her bus. Can she save any of her kids as

Myra’s Review: While this is a short story, it hits fast and doesn’t let up. Peggy drives a school bus and sounds like the typical driver; watches her charges for trouble makers and wants to keep them safe. When a child falls down and she goes to see what’s up, Peggy is shocked by his appearance. He is gray colored and looks dead, plus she can’t find a pulse. When she calls for help, the school dispatcher doesn’t answer and the 911 line is busy. Screams erupt in the back of the bus and Peggy is stunned by the chaos. Why are kids attacking others? It doesn’t take long to figure out there is a zombie outbreak aboard the bus. Peggy manages to escape, along with one of the students. The ending is very open-ended and I wonder if the two characters will reappear in Urban’s Life of the Dead series. A very enjoyable short read for those who love zombies and horror.

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The Scourge Roberto Calas Horror/Medieval God has forsaken this land. A mysterious plague descends upon 14th century England, ravaging the country and trapping the souls of the afflicted in eternal madness. The feudal hierarchy--and even the church itself-- slowly crumbles as the dead rise to feed and the living seek whatever shelter they can. The bishops of England call for calm and obedience, but one man isn’t listening. Sir Edward of Bodiam has been separated from the woman he loves and nothing on heaven or earth can stop him from seeking her out. Edward and two of his knights travel through the swiftly changing landscape of England, a countryside now overrun by the minions of hell. The knights encounter madness, violence, and sorrow, but Edward fights his way ever deeper into the thickening darkness of unholy terror. Roberto Calas brings you along on a dark, historical tale full of love, death, and black humor. Follow Edward as he journeys to save his wife, his kingdom, and his very soul.

Myra’s Review: This is not your usual zombie novel. It is set in Medieval England and the main characters are knights, which is cool. Edward, Tristan and Morgan set out on a quest, but not to rescue a damsel from a dragon, but Edward’s wife, Elizabeth, from plaguers. The folks in this historical setting call the undead plaguers. They are all too familiar with the Black Plague, but unlike the Black Death, victims don’t stay dead. People are much more in peril than nowadays. Villagers and peasants live in hovels or structures not built to keep out zombie hordes. Luckily, they can escape to either castles or fortresses, but even some of these get overrun with plaguers. Edward prays that Elizabeth is safe behind the wall of St. Edmunds Bury abbey, but it will take days to reach her. The knights plan on stopping each night at a castle or fortified manor, but don’t expect the insane people they encounter and the hordes of undead. One of the first strange occurrences is their run-in with disgusting men using plaguer women as prostitutes. The have a barn full of undead, and explain they attract them by burning mint; the zombies love the scent of the herb. The knights are happy to ride away from these madmen, after leaving threats of death to the men if they catch them doing the activity again. They are spreading the plague sexually.

The brave trio encounter many threats and fight seemingly hopeless battles, but survive nonetheless. Sadly, Morgan is bitten when the knights try to fight their way out of a castle surrounded by zombies. They leave him in the care of a friend and hope to bring back the thigh bone of Saint Luke, which is said to heal many ailments. Morgan believes the religious relic will heal him of the plague. When Edward and Tristan finally reach the abbey, they discover the gentry have been sealed in a dormitory with plaguers. Edward cannot give up his Elizabeth, and when they breach the door he goes into a fighting mad rage, slewing the undead stumbling toward them. Edward finds his beloved wife, already a zombie, but ties her up, determined to find a cure. He plans on using the thigh bone of Saint Luke and see if she can be saved. Meanwhile Tristan sets out to track down an alchemist rumored to hold the remedy for the plague. I am very interested in the next book and hoping that Elizabeth and Morgan can be brought back to their humanity. The author did an excellent job of presenting the time period; you can tell he did a lot of research. The setting, clothes, language and beliefs have a ring of authenticity that makes this a unique, enjoyable read in the zombie world of literature.

Ironically, it is the burning of mint that saves the day later, when the knights use it to lure the undead toward French troops who have invaded an area. On their travels, they seek shelter with Lord Roberts who is convinced they are traitors to King Richard. The knights must go through a trial by combat to prove themselves, with Edward going first. Unfortunately he is not pitted against the Lord’s champion knight, but a huge brown bear. Using wile instead of strength, Edward escapes by jumping onto the platform around the arena, and the bear tears into the Lord and his men.

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Insincerity Richard Godwin Thriller/Suspense Ex-military PI, Tammy Wayne, tracks serial killers for a living. With the help of her colleague Arlene she locates a killer known as The Pimp, who killed her sister Holly. The Pimp has Tammy under surveillance, coming and going to her house as he wants, sending her Holly’s body parts. Amy’s Review: Undoubtedly intriguing! Godwin definitely pulled me in with his book Insincerity. The story is gritty and raw, and throws not just one serial killer in the mix! It’s written very well as it keeps this reader engaged, hooked on every word, every grisly detail of “The Pimp” and victims. The quest for law and order may be overpowered by vengeance. It’s an amazing story that brings lively characters, and shows the dark side of the world that people try to ignore. It’s a passionate and vivid story of survival and darkness. It was my first by Godwin, but I’m sure it won’t be my last.

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9/11: A Survivor’s Story Artie Van Why Memoir After an upheaval, you must face what seems impossible: continuing your life. Artie Van Why found himself in that situation after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he recalls his experiences as a survivor and witness of that day in this memoir.

Amy’s Review: A “reboot” of his previous story I was asked to read the “reboot” or remake of Van Why’s previous story “That Day in September.” Of course, I was honored to read what he added to the story. The story was still powerful and amazing, and when I read this reboot it was very close to the 17th anniversary of 9/11. Van Why shares his story, and not just that day, but his life. I am extremely touched by his words and am not giving this a 5 star because of the day but because of the words of Van Why. He survived, as a worker in building 5. I felt this one brought some new light and essential information. He adds to the story, as well as including a magnificent section on living with and dealing with PTSD, something that a lot of survivors of that day have to deal with. That day may have taken a lot of lives but it didn’t take away the spirit of the survivors, nor the memories of those lost.

Save One Child Ian James Memoir/True Crime

The Viking Throne JB Michaels SciFi/Dystopian

n the late 1970s, Detective Ian James had quickly risen through the ranks of the London Metropolitan Police. After ten years, he relocated North to Cleveland where he continued in the role of a detective running informants on the Regional Crime Squad and National Crime Squad to infiltrate the underworld. Drugs and gun were on his watch.

The Henihans, a family of sirens, are brutally separated. James Henihan failed to protect his family. He will dive into the murderous depths of the Cursed Seas of Europe to find his family on a voyage wrought with bloodthirsty pirates, supernatural beasts, sorcerous legends, and environments not fit for the living.

Amy’s Review: Powerful story Save One Child is the first book I’ve read from author Ian James, and I am so glad I was honored to be chosen to read it. It was a remarkable story that entered the dark life of the underworld where pedophilia is common place. This is definitely a powerful story that delves into a world that most of us would never enter. The characters had great depth and bring the audience into this devastatingly dark story. It may be hard to read, not because of the writing, which is magnificent, but because of the subject matter, but it’s worth the read. I was automatically drawn in by the author’s words that bring the characters to life. A well-penned story, told by a remarkable author. I look forward to reading more work by this author.

Amy’s Review: Riveting story I am a fan of Michaels’s work, and his story, The Viking Throne is another great story that came from a grand imagination. The story brings the reader in the middle of it, and it definitely does not lack action. I enjoyed the depths of the characters, and their intense emotions that bring this story to life. This was definitely not a cookiecutter or stereotypical story, and Michaels brings a fresh take on new villains and monsters. As always, I look forward to reading more by this author. Anything Michaels writes, I’ll definitely read.

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Hyper John A. Autero SciFi “Evil doesn’t have a problem finding the middle of nowhere.” Earth is ravaged by a Vermiculira epidemic which threatens every human life on the planet. The only way to save humanity and propagate the species is to restart civilization someplace else. That someplace else is Mars

Amy’s Review: Filled with twists Hyper is definitely filled with twists and action. Autero pens a grand story, and it’s not just a futuristic story, there is a thrilling mystery to solve. Autero brings the reader into the story and lets her (me) sit shotgun while the story unravels, twisting and turning. It’s very unpredictable, and that’s what keep readers hooked. Charlie has a lot of depths and levels, and is a very engaging character. He keeps the story going, and it’s a very interesting read. I look forward to reading more of Autero’s work.

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Thief in Law Michael Dirubio Thriller/Suspense Stealing has always been easy for Michael Davidson. The hard part was life. Now the FBI, the Russian mob, the cops, and a woman are all competing to see who gets to kill him. The new novel from Michael Dirubio explores the world of high end burglary and the people who take things that don’t belong to them Amy’s Review: Unique read Dirubio’s Thief in Law is not exactly what the title presents, but it is soon explained within the story. This is the first book that I’ve read of Dirubio’s and I must say that I enjoyed it. It was an action story that revolved around the criminal life of Michael. There are some classic areas of the story, and it does bring the reader in. It’s well-written and gives intricate details of Michael’s plan for his next robbery, but there is another side to Michael. Almost makes the reader feel guilty for rooting for the “bad” guy, but almost, not quite. I enjoyed reading this story, and look forward to more of his stories.

Shin T. Cook Fantasy A conscience stricken warrior; a blindly brilliant assassin; and a war without reconcile. Shin is a powerful shapeshifter, but he is yet vulnerable, and too many creatures, both mythic and mortal, have a stake in his death. Caught between his samurai uncle’s ambitions for a bloodless war and his shapeshifter mother’s immortal fight for celestial territory, Shin’s uncle gives him up as a tribute warrior for the shogunate military. Amy’s Review: Magical Story Shin is one of those fantasy stories that bring Shin, a shapeshifter on a grand journey. It’s a great story that brings loyalty and adventure into the plot line. I enjoyed this story, and it’s majestical characters. Cook pens a good story, and has a great writing style. The characters leap off the pages, floating with action. Indeed a good story and interesting read.

Edge of the Known Bus Line James R. Gapinski Horror/Cult A woman’s daily commute takes an abrupt turn when she’s dropped off in a grotesque shantytown in Edge of the Known Bus Line. The townsfolk live in huts and tents scavenged from broken trinkets. They eat dead rats and human flesh. They’ve developed cult-like religions about miracle bus routes that will someday set them free. The narrator searches for a way out of this surreal hellscape while dredging up a few nightmares of her own. Amy’s Review: Please Do Not Disturb Driver An everyday bus ride turns into something sinister. This reader was pulled in once I read “Please Do Not Disturb Driver.” Then, it just went on from there. It is an interesting take in first person as the narrator expects to be on her normal bus trip home, letting passengers off. I like her perception of each of the remaining passengers on the bus, such as “ass-starer” or “Nappingwoman”, as she gave each person a label, since she didn’t know their names. The end of the road leads to terror and a nightmare she needs to try to escape. The buildup for the fear and intensity of the terrifying trip is just the beginning as they reach “the end of the line.”

Issue 29 | December 2018 |


Jen’s Book Reviews Cassidy: Twisted Roots E.J Bennett Fantasy Short Cassidy is the daughter of the queen of witches. But living on earth with her mother is nothing short of a nightmare. Cassidy watches as her mothers heart grows darker with each

day that passes. The people that once trusted and put their faith in their queen want her dead. Cassidy is torn. Should she stand by her mother’s side? Jen’s Review: On a journey of darkness and despair Cassidy the daughter of the evil Queen Cora. Must stop the evil that is destroying the world. Filled with evil and hate Cassidy longs to be free. Will she succeeded ? Or is she destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps. I really enjoyed reading this book it’s just another chapter which is proving to be a magical series. Can be read as a standalone novel but to enjoy fully and to really grasp the storyline I would recommend you read in order. I cannot wait to read on in this adventure patiently awaiting what happens next.

Winters Curse E.J Bennett SciFi/Fantasy Alexia has just finished her first year at college and looking forward to getting the summer holidays over with to return. A letter from her estranged father sends Alexia’s life into a world of make believe. She is the only one that can break a curse that holds his people. With Secrets, Lies and Love, Follow Alexia’s journey to a new world where she uncovers her family history. Will Alexia break the curse? Can she believe in this new world? Jen’s Review: Alexia is about to find a whole new meaning to her life. After receiving a strange letter from her distant father, she becomes overwhelmed and finds herself traveling to another time where fate awaits her. I really enjoyed reading this book, it’s not a long read, but the plot and story covers a lot of the story and the action that I the reader, felt the book was longer then it was. Alexia was a rather likeable character so I had no trouble following her situation This was a good enjoyable reading experience. Worth a look.

Visit Jen on Goodreads 92 |

Scarred by Betrayal E.J Bennett Paranormal Romance Influenza as swept through the small town of Kinston, killing many, including Henry’s mother. Henry alone and grief stricken struggles with his feelings, while his father only thinks about money and wealth. He finds hope in a young woman, who claims she has lost her family to the dreadful disease. Blinded by lust and love, is Aura all that she seems to be? Or is there something sinister about her? Henry’s life has drastically changed, to a world of fear and uncertainty, can Aura provide the kindness and understanding that his mother once did? Jen’s Review: A supernatural quick read that moves fast and gets straight to the action. Short but very interesting I enjoyed the storyline. The whole concept of the story and the characters were intriguing. Can be read as a standalone book but is based on a idea from a series.

Simmering Darkness E.J Bennett Fantasy Ariel the daughter of Mother Nature finds it hard to fit in with the rest of her peers and does not want to follow in her Mothers footsteps. She is training to take over from her Mother Gaia and become the next Mother Nature. There is one problem, Ariel does not feel loving and passionate about nature she wants to burn the earth to ash. She as a deep anger inside of her that screams to be let free and destroy everything in her path. Jen’s Review: A supernatural read with a vengeance daughter Ariel. Must decide whether to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Or undertake a whole new direction. This book is very fast pacing at times and quite dramatic in action. I did enjoy this book but I believe there’s still a lot of questions left unanswered. I believe there’s still plenty more to this story.

Visit Jen on Goodreads Issue 29 | December 2018 |


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Uncaged Book Reviews  

Issue 29 - December 2018 Author Features: R.J. Blain, Jacqui Nelson, Deborah Garland, Linda O'Connor, Annabelle Anders, Becky Lower, Melan...

Uncaged Book Reviews  

Issue 29 - December 2018 Author Features: R.J. Blain, Jacqui Nelson, Deborah Garland, Linda O'Connor, Annabelle Anders, Becky Lower, Melan...