ISSUE 14 | SEPTEMBER 2017
Feature Authors Deborah Wilde Anna Lowe Mary Morgan Carissa Lynch Sarah Northwood Ginger Ring J.S. Marlo and Brynn Myers
Interview with Soul Mate Publishing - the advantages of working with a publisher
New Releases Best-Sellers
with Darlene Kuncytes
Reviews Short Stories by the light of a harvest moon...
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Need • Review
Stay Connected • Excerpt from Crossing Roman • Reviews
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Lure of the Dragon
Carissa Lynch Interview • Stay Connected • Quick look at Midnight Moss • Review
Sarah Northwood Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from She’s Not Gone • Review
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Quest of a Warrior • Review
J.S. Marlo Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Thin Ice • Review
Darlene Kuncytes Darlene was in the very first issue of Uncaged, what’s she up to now?
Issue 14 | September 2017
shortstories 20 The Gift of the Unicorn
Danger: Road Ahead Closed, Pt 3-A JB. Woods
Soul Mate Publishing Uncaged talks with Soul Mate Publishing - the advantages of working with a publishing company
Stay Connected • Excerpt of Captivated by Crimson • Review
sneakpeeks 06 14 80 86
David J. Kucera
Margaret Fourt Goka Robert Childress Jamel Gross
4 Editor’s Desk 5 Bargain Bin 66 Best Seller Lists 99 New Releases 100 Uncaged Reviews 114 Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews 118 Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews 122 Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Welcome to Issue 14, September 2017 - Uncaged Book Reviews! This month, dig in to our featured authors: Deborah Wilde, Anna Lowe, Mary Morgan, Carissa Lynch, Ginger Ring, Sarah Northwood and J.S. Marlo! I can’t thank them all enough, for sharing their talents with us. Fang-Freakin-Tastic also brings Uncaged a feature author with Brynn Myers.
We also have part three of a short story for you this month from JB. Woods. This short story will be delivered differently, with a chapter each month, so jump into chapter three of Danger: Road Closed Ahead and a new short story by Chrys Cymri called The Gift of the Unicorn. Next month is our very popular Horror edition, and Uncaged will be concentrating exclusively on horror, paranormal, magic and all the weird and whacky, ghouly and ghostly in our book world. Uncaged will Catch Up with Darlene Kuncytes a past Featured Author that was in the first issue of Uncaged Book Reviews and see what’s been happening since we last spoke. Quietly in the background, I’ve been working hard on expanding Uncaged’s reach on social media, to make it the best possible value that I can - to both authors, readers and advertisers. I’m proud to announce that Uncaged now has a reach of over 1 million! Over 1 million people will have a chance to click on the links that Uncaged sends out, from issue releases, to blog posts. That doesn’t even count all the wonderful authors and publishers sharing on their networks. I can’t wait to hit the next goal! 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. Because of the amount of work on our small farm, from May-September, there will only be 6 Featured Author slots per month during this time. Get your requests in early. 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, 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 in Uncaged tab on the site for more information on how you can advertise in the magazine and support the Uncaged mission to promote authors.
All inquiries: UncagedBooks@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org So thank you and enjoy the August issue of Uncaged Book Reviews!
Bargains, Free Reads & Giveaways Great way to discover new authors and enter to win free books, both print and eBooks. https://www. goodreads.com/giveaway
Free Book Sifter
This site will sniff out all the free eBooks being offered on Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon. Choose the site you’re looking for in the drop down list. This site helps narrow down the search. http://www.freebooksifter.com/
Blog Roll Call Contributors, Advertising Swaps
Follow Uncaged on Facebook
Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.
FreeBooksy.com Pick your genre and let FreeBooksy find the deals, even freebies! Free-Ebooks.net Choose your passion from fiction, non-fiction, academic and even audio books. Free to join, free ebooks to download. BookBub.com Let BookBub send you daily deals right to your email, customized to your perferences. instafreebie.com Every Friday, InstaFreebie will email you with weekend freebies from all genres. bookbrag.com Emailing deals right to your inbox. redfeatherromance.com Romance deals delivered to your email.
A blog for horror fans. Uncaged review contributors.
A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.
Cozy mysteries, suspense and romance. Uncaged review contributors.
Help for authors and businesses. If you’d like your banner here, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 14 | September 2017 |
David J Kucera
Murder at Mason’s Mesa Murder at Mason’s Mesa David J. Kucera Contemporary/Suspense
Dr. Charles Quincy Kruse accompanies a small group of students to a minor archaeological site, where his students join students and teachers from a handful of other colleges. In addition to work at the dig students must attend lectures by college professors. The excavation proves to be anything but routine. The students and teachers must contend with a ferocious storm, flooding, vandalism, arson, drug smuggling, the murder of a student and the discovery of the body of a stranger on Mason’s Mesa. Dr. Kruse renews an old friendship with Dr. Page, which intensifies and transitions into a full blown romance. Dr. Kruse uses his wits to rescue Dr. Page when she was kidnapped; however, during their escape they fall into a hidden burial chamber. While he is trying to discover the motive behind the vandalism, arson and murders, and narrow escaping being killed a number of times, he struggles to find an explanation for Page’s apparent waning love for him.
bookventure.com 6| uncagedbooks.com |
US Review of Books “Ready to leave, Dr. Kruse was feeling disappointed that he had not found the evidence he had been looking for when he was kissed by inspiration.” The protagonist of this novel, Dr. Charles Quincy Kruse, is an esteemed archaeology professor conducting research at a dig site with other professors and students when things start going awry: first a water leak, then a fire, and eventually murder, drugs, and money, not necessarily in that order. This murder mystery novel is much more than just that, however. Sometimes waxing poetic (the mark of a professional writer), and full of twists that readers don’t anticipate, this is a novel not soon to be forgotten. Weeks after finishing it, readers might still be wondering whether this author had a lesson or message in mind when writing his book, or just an extremely riveting story rattling around that had to come out. Is Dr. Kruse the quintessential “noble scholar” whom the author wishes we would all emulate, showing perseverance and altruism, or is he simply a talented, tenacious, and inquisitive character in an intriguing book? “He found that teaching and coaching provided him with rewards...just as fulfilling as playing baseball. Teaching and coaching were not as financially rewarding as professional baseball, but money had never been Dr. Kruse’s motive for playing sports.” Entertaining from start to finish, our good guy, Kruse, is everything that most people want to be: intelligent, handsome, employed, responsible, and equipped with a sound moral compass and the guts to back it up. He is a methodical-thinking professor, taking his role as mentor and responsible party for his summer fieldwork students to heart. The other characters are wellrounded and realistic, but some are craftily written into the story as a tempting cast of red herrings, while the real bad guys are woven into the story subtly, like a play where characters are looming in the background, sans spotlights, and silhouetted. Finally, as if murder,
money, greed, politics, and academia aren’t enough in a novel, the love story is believable and unpredictable, too. Come to find out, there is more intrigue in this love story than in the murder plot. Stylistically, Kucera is clearly a talented writer. If you attended a field study course in college, the scene is instantly recognizable as you read about the students arriving at their 3-month camp, complete with mess tent and the cordoned off excavation site. If you have ever sat in a class where college papers were handed out and feedback solicited, you know the scene well when Krucera describes that university setting perfectly. Any readers who’ve been part of a tight-knit sports team, (baseball, in Kruse’s case, but the sport doesn’t matter), will relate to the scene Kucera sets at the end of the season: “The bonds between the ballplayers had become stronger than those of mere teammates or close friends; they were like the bonds between family members. To concede that the season was really over was comparable to saying their family was breaking up.” The ending of this book is a shocker. Did the author mean for it to be a “choose your own,” or did he intend for readers to face a philosophical question? Was he asking readers to ponder whether everyone has a price, or was he just leaving us jolted and impressed with the imaginative ending to this exquisite story? Some of the cliff hangers may leave readers annoyed, but this is a minor irritant in an otherwise excellent book. Book groups would do well to snatch up this novel. The questions are many and the answers regarding what the author intended are few. In short, this novel just leaves us with a lot to think about.
About the Author David J. Kucera is a graduate of the Wentworth Military Academy and Wayne State College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Years of camping as a Boy Scout leader and primitive camping with his family has given him a firsthand knowledge of a variety of geological areas and instilled in him a great appreciation of nature and the environment. He was raised on a farm and over the years he has worked in construction, as electrician, welder, and as a laboratory supervisor overseeing both microbiology and chemistry departments. He is the father of eight and grandfather of fourteen.
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Soul Mate Publishing The benefits of working with a publisher in todayâ€™s market.
hether an author would rather publish independently, or would like the benefits of a publishing house, Uncaged talked to Char Chaffin of Soul Mate Publishing to let authors know their process and may help undecided authors decide which route to take when publishing their works.
) Can you tell me process for new authors to sign up with Soul Mate Publishing (SMP)? As a traditional publisher, Soul Mate requires a full synopsis and the first three chapters from querying authors. Usually we can supply a response within six to eight weeks. Authors query according to which of our editors are taking submissions, and what genres they are looking for, information that can be found on our website: http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/ under “Editors.” If a contract is offered, usually the acquiring editor stays with the author throughout the publishing process, thus forming that vital professional bond.
) What are the advantages to signing with Soul Mate Publishing vs. staying independent? Soul Mate offers a traditional experience, promotional and marketing opportunities, an expert editing team, and talented cover artists to bring an author’s book cover to life. Regarding social networking, we are very visual, taking advantage of every platform in order to provide the right 12 | UncagedBooks.com
exposure for our authors. We offer an extensive author blogsite designed specifically for our newbie authors to be seen before they are even released through Soul Mate, a comprehensive Authors’ Guide, and two different craft/support loops through Yahoo. The Soul Mate family is close-knit, very supportive, and helpful throughout the entire process, and beyond.
) How does SMP market the books for authors?
Besides the afore-mentioned advantages listed above, Soul Mate’s Social Media Coordinator regularly submits our new releases to top book review sites such as Night Owl, The Romance Reviews, The Romance Studio, Uncaged Magazine, Romance Junkies, and RT Reviews, subject to their standard review policy. These review sites are subject to change. Our authors and their books are also promoted throughout the month on Soul Mate Publishing’s Facebook Page, as well as our Twitter and Instagram accounts. Our monthly newsletter offers Kindle Countdown deals that are also promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We utilize sites such as NewBooksy, BookSends, and BookBub to offer deals, all geared toward providing long-term, maximum exposure for our authors.
) Are there specific requirements that an author needs to meet to sign on?
Soul Mate looks for articulate, well-rounded romance authors who are not afraid of blending genres, are
| SOUL MATE PUBLISHING| or not they know what they need. ::grin:: We would be doing our authors a disservice, otherwise.
strong writers/storytellers, and are knowledgeable regarding social networking (including websites, Facebook/Twitter, blogging, and newsletter capability). They must adhere to Soul Mate’s submission guidelines and our basic publishing rubric, all of which are on our official website: http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/ We expect our authors to promote and market themselves as well.
) How many submissions from new authors do you receive on average?
It fluctuates according to our acquiring editors, since they receive queries directly, but I would estimate ten or more new author queries per week on average.
) From manuscript to print, how long does it take a book to go through the editing processes before it’s released? Our editors will go through a minimum of three edit/ revision rounds, a line edit/copy edit round, and a final galley round. Once the Advance Reader Copy (ARC) is created, author (and editor if asked) will complete one last read through before the book goes up for Pre-Order. From start to finish, no less than six months. Soul Mate doesn’t allow the process to be rushed. We understand completely the excitement of a new/first sale and we join in our authors’ joy, but a rushed release can make for a sloppy release. Some authors can get through the revision process quickly and others require extra time. Soul Mate’s release schedule remains flexible. Our authors get what they need from us whether
Char Chaffin studied Journalism and English Literature at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has over fifteen years’ writing and critique experience, belongs to several writing groups and is a member of RWA, including Alaska Romance Writers and Central NY Romance Writers. She is an avid reader with a fondness for horror and science-fiction as well as romance and erotica. Currently Char is actively acquiring the following romance genres: historical, (all sub-genres), sci-fi/time travel, and paranormal/fantasy. Char also specializes in series/trilogies. She welcomes imaginative, edgy, romantic passion that will sweep her away. A multi-published author, Char writes in several romance genres, crafting strong yet flawed heroes and heroines who find each other against all odds. She is currently working on her sixth novel. Char and husband Don divide their time between two homes: Fairbanks, Alaska, and South Texas. Contact Char at Char@SoulMatePublishing.com
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
showcase Margaret Fourt Goka
The Woven Flag The Woven Flag
Margaret Fourt Goka Poetry The Woven Flag is a collection of poems about home and family, places, animals, inspiration, questions and answers. It begins with poems by a young mother. Then there is a group of poems inspired by animals, real and imaginary. Following this are memories about places. The next poems give you some questions you may have to guess about. a group of poems considers sources of inspiration in coffee, tea or wine. The final poems include remembrances of my parents and my husband.
bookventure.com US Review of Books “…the seam is gone and the color faded, grayed, and the texture…soft and fuzzy with age, after all that wear the weave may last.” In her book the author/poet demonstrates both comfort and familiarity, revealing she is no novice at entertaining an audience. And entertain is exactly what poems written by Goka do best. Her specialty is utilizing word play and riddles in a poetic format that almost beg to be read aloud. 16 | UncagedBooks.com
In this 75-page work, the poet provides poignant glimpses into her creative processes. How she writes at her desk—the family table covered with checkered cloth—is told in “The Rose.” Another ‘mini-biography’ is “Lenten Poem” where the would-be author strategizes about the day when she is able to record her “ragged perceptions” with paper, pen, and help from a full pot of tea. Where do her ideas come from? The poet demonstrates how to start with a theme and then let creative juices flow in word associations. For example, homespun was the gray, woven cloth worn by previous generations. In a poem by that name, she contrasts spun grayness with “spun plastics” color-saturated for impulse buyers and with the tangled results of the modern washer after having finished spinning a riot of family colors. Another underlying theme is the passing along of encouragement to those, like herself, who have been experiencing loss due to aging or relocation. The poet bemoans the woods she once loved near a previous home that had to be traded for desert views when moving west. She challenges herself and aging readers to “stand up” and go on, leaving the “temple of the past.” She comforts those who mourn loved ones by advising they only keep a “little pocket/ handkerchief of grief.” Techniques well-used by the poet are the simile, wordplay, rhyme, and repetition. For example, her similes compare how coffee and tea taste: “coffee…like ground up books,” while green tea on Sunday afternoons is like springtime. The author’s wordplay catches the reader’s attention by switching out expected words with ones that sound similar, such as using “realms” instead of reams (of paper). Rhyme, linked with repetition, suits a poem for children: “The cat…/ Under stairs/ Under boxes, under chairs” and “insides of bags/ …fluttering of rags.” More fun rhymes
reminiscent of Dr. Seuss use words such as twitch, witch, jump, and lump. The section entitled “Riddles” contains ten poems, several mentioned above, that are among the best of Goka’s writings. Other memorable poems are “Kate” whose “quiet center” will develop from childhood into maturity, “Christmas Poem” where the household noise drowns out listening for Christmas, and her “Summer Wish” to enjoy the freedom of a hummingbird. Such variety and expertise indicate this book is not the poet’s first experience with publication. One wonders if wordplay might have even inspired the book title. The woven flag is perhaps a mental leap from flag waving. However, in the dedication and again in the first poem, the author provides insight on the title. A flag can be woven based on anecdotes, locations, whimsy, and, of course, on purpose for others to see. Goka has done an
excellent job of flying the woven flags in this book of poems. Readers are welcome to pick up, wave, and share a favorite with others.
About the Author Margaret Fourt Goka lives in Sunnyvale, California with two cats. She enjoys making jam with the fruit in her back yard, and being a grandmother. She is retired after working at a Community College teaching English as a Second Language. She has written poetry since she was young. She has shared her poems with her book club and church, and is looking forward to having a wider audience. This is her second book of poems. Issue 14 | September 2017 |
The Gift of the Unicorn by Chrys Cymri
| SHORT STORY |
The Gift of the Unicorn
by Chrys Cymri http://chryscymri.com The man halted at the top of the ridge. He propped his spear against a tree, then tugged a rag from his pocket to wipe his sweaty face. A breeze pulled the right sleeve of his shirt loose from his belt. He swore as it flapped against his side, and awkwardly tucked it away again with his left hand. The rough cloth rubbed against the stump, and he winced. The lacerations around the shoulder had not yet fully healed. A flicker of silver caught his attention. He grabbed his spear, then crouched, gazing intently down the hill. There, between the trees. The creature trotted into view, the glistening coat refracting sunlight into shimmering rainbows. Four silver hooves barely bent the grass as she crossed the valley to a small stream. She lowered her finely chiselled head, her silver horn breaking the smooth ripple of the water as she drank. He pushed himself away from the tree and charged wildly down the wide slope. The unicorn lifted her head, water dripping from her short beard. She watched him for a moment, the dark eyes calm. Then as he lifted his spear, preparing for the throw, she suddenly snorted. He threw the spear with all his weight, but knew even as it left his hand that he was still too far away. The unicorn wheeled, tail flicking as she slipped back into the trees. A tree root caught his foot as he tried to follow, sent him tumbling to his knees. The fall jarred his stump and reopened wounds on his legs. He slammed his hand into the ground, then bent his head, gasping in pain and anger. So close, he’d been so close. A week’s stalking come to nothing. And now the unicorn would be more wary, harder to find, to track, to kill. He crawled to the stream, noting the small flowers which marked where the silver hooves had stepped. At least that part of the legend still held true. Unicorns left blooms in their tracks. He cupped water from the stream to his mouth, the sweetness of the liquid testifying that a unicorn’s horn had purified 20 | UncagedBooks.com
the current. Two parts true. He felt the rage build up in him again. Two parts of the legend true. Why not the third? He splashed some water onto his face, then slowly rose to his feet and searched for his spear. It lay near the stream bank, tip buried in the earth. He pulled it free and glanced up at the sun. Evening was drawing in, as well as clouds promising rain. Not a night for a man to be without shelter. He started down the hill, the hoof-shaped mounds of flowers encouraging him that the unicorn had also gone this way. Tomorrow, he promised her. I will hunt you again tomorrow. The sudden acrid smell of wood smoke made him lift his head. He turned around, trying to identify the direction of the scent. The forest thinned as he carefully made his way forward, smaller trees appearing in the gaps between the giants towering above his head. Then he was in a small clearing, a cottage of mud-brick and thatch just ahead. Smoke came from the chimney, and he could now smell the warm scent of broth and vegetables. His stomach growled, reminding him of how long it had been since he’d last eaten. He walked across the grass. A cow lowed at him from a small barn nearby, and several hens fluttered from his path as he came to the wooden door. ‘Good man of this house!’ he shouted gruffly. ‘There is a traveller hungry at your door. What would you ask to feed him?’ The door swung open suddenly. He blinked, finding not some farmer, but an old woman, who stared up at him with dark eyes. ‘What can you offer?’ she demanded. When he’d been a knight, he had commanded, not asked. Had he known that only an old woman lived in the cottage, he might still have done so. But now, looking into those strangely strong eyes, he found himself saying, ‘I can offer you but little, for little be what an one-armed man can do.’ She snorted. ‘You be not proud, at any rate. Come in, and sup at my table. Doubtless we can find you some work in the morn.’ He started inside, but she suddenly stopped him. ‘Your spear,’ she demanded. ‘I welcome no weapons in this house.’ He glanced at the slender wooden shaft, the mudflecked point. ‘I once bore the finest of swords,’ he said quietly, ‘and daggers with jewels set in the hilt. Would you deny me what I have left?’ The deep eyes met his. ‘Are you no more than your weapons?’
‘I--’ He halted, not knowing how to answer. With his sword, he had kept part of a king’s army under his command. With the loss of his sword arm, that was never to be his place again. The spear was a poor substitution, but it promised him revenge. It will still be ready for me outside, he argued with himself. The unicorn is hardly likely to step into a cottage. He propped the spear beside the door, then stooped to go inside. The old woman nodded in satisfaction. She hobbled over the fire set in the left wall. The window shutters were already drawn, and he waited for a few moments, until his eyes had adjusted to the dim light, before moving any further. The cottage was small. This room held a small table, two chairs, and a long cabinet lining the right wall. Two doors ahead promised two further rooms. He walked to the table and lowered himself into one of the chairs. His half-healed wounds were aching again. He massaged one knee with his hand, watching as the woman tucked her long grey hair behind her ears and peered into the pot hanging over the fire. ‘Be the time of year when I always make for two,’ she said, swinging the pot back over the flames. ‘It be only broth, from one of me chickens and some carrots, but it will fill us both.’ He said, dredging the words up from the distant past, ‘I thank you for your kindness.’ She clucked her tongue. ‘These woods be lonely for an old woman. What be your name, young man?’ He gave her a slight smile at the exaggeration. ‘I am known as Robert.’ ‘Robert.’ She cocked her head. ‘I think there be a family name to follow.’ ‘There once was.’ He bent his head. ‘There is no more. When the king fell, that name died with him. I am only Robert now.’ ‘I be known as Elspeth.’ She poured soup into two bowls, and brought them to the table. A lump of soft cheese and a crust of bread were also placed before him. Robert dipped the bread into the broth, and chewed at the mixture. The cheese was crumbly but fresh. Made by Elspeth herself, he guessed. ‘You may lay yourself down in that chamber,’ she said when he’d finished, pointing at the door nearest him. ‘There be blankets and a bed. I oft have visitors.’ He obeyed, taking the candle she handed to him to light his way. The room was bare but for the bed, rushes covering the clay floor. He thought of the castles in which he had slept, the beautiful women who had been more than willing to share the bed of
| CHRYS CYMRI | the cousin to the king. Now another man wore the crown, and the family name which had once given him such rewards could bring a death sentence upon his head. A kingdom changes hands, he thought, glancing around the grey walls, and the peasants do not notice. Just another name to shout when the knights ride past, another name to fear when food and lodging is commanded of them. He blew out the candle, and crawled into the bed. The straw-filled mattress was prickly. He twisted, trying to find a comfortable position, tucking the blankets in and around him with his one hand. He closed his eyes, and willed sleep to come. Unbidden, the images rose in his mind. He saw again the men of his command. Swords pierced their armour, sliced through bellies, intestines uncoiling to steam on the ground. Axes cleaved skulls, brains splattering over the black visors of the enemy. Even worse than the yells of the men were the highpitched screams of the horses as arrows plunged into their heaving sides. Robert felt the moment come closer as he relived the last moments. His horse rearing, taking the sword meant for him in its own stomach. Falling to earth, his armour clanging around him, his sword dropping from his stunned fingers. Then he got up, and-‘No.’ He said it through gritted teeth, felt his left hand close into a fist, almost imagined that a right hand clenched as well. The memory dissolved. He brushed away the hot tears threatening in his eyes, then rolled onto his stomach, forcing himself to sleep. <><><><><><> Sunshine was streaming into the cottage from the open windows when he stumbled from his chamber the next morning. He sat down at the table. A straw mattress was comfortable enough, once one fell to sleep, he reflected. He’d not slept so well for over a month. Elspeth came into the cottage. ‘There you are,’ she said brightly. ‘Put out your hand.’ He obeyed, and found two warm eggs placed carefully into his palm. ‘Just laid this morn. Will be your breakfast, once boiled.’ He watched her busy herself at the fire, marvelling at the briskness in the old limbs. Then a chill thought struck him, and he hurried to the door. But his spear was still propped up outside, exactly where he had left it. Relieved, he returned to the table, and Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | was soon later breaking open the mottled eggs. Elspeth sat across from him, her dark eyes meeting his. ‘I have given thought to what you did say last night,’ she announced. ‘You wondered what work a man with one arm could do. There be much that needs doing. Winter be coming, and I have not had the travellers in these parts to prepare me cottage for the season. Visitors have been lacking this summer.’ ‘There have been many battles,’ he told her. ‘Aye, and what am I then to do? Shall I lose me home over kings’ quarrels?’ She placed her palms on the rough table. ‘I shall not. Do you search for something in these woods?’ ‘I track something in them, aye,’ he admitted. ‘Then I offer you this. Spend part of the day helping me to prepare for winter, the rest hunting your prey, and there will be a meal and a bed for you here, so long as you desire to stay.’ His first impulse was to refuse. If I wanted food and lodging, I could have commanded it, he thought. But that was the reaction of Sir Robert, knight and commander. Not Robert the fallen, the cripple, the coward. And winter is coming, he reminded himself, for the first time thinking of the dying leaves, the colder nights. I will need a place near to the unicorn’s haunts to return to the hunt in the spring, should I not be successful before the first snows. ‘I agree to your terms,’ he told her. ‘What can I do?’ She grinned at him, wrinkling her face further. ‘You can chop wood, milk me cow, re-thatch part of me roof, build a new pen for me chickens, dig up me potatoes-’ Robert found himself smiling. ‘Enough, woman. Autumn is still early upon us. Leave some tasks for another day.’ So she set him to chopping wood. Handling an axe left-handed called for concentration, and he nearly cleaved his foot twice. It was a laborious process, moving a log into position, lifting the axe to chop it once, putting the axe down to move a new piece into position, lifting the axe to chop again. Despite his intentions, he found the afternoon all but finished by the time he finally put the axe to one side. He wiped his face, glanced into the woods, then started carrying pieces of wood to a small lean-to built on the side of the cottage. When he had finally established a rhythm to his chopping, he had actually found himself enjoying the work. Now he studied the pile of logs, and despite the blisters on his fingers and the ache in his shoulders, he was 22 | UncagedBooks.com
pleased with what he had done. Maybe a one-armed man could have some use after all. ‘You have done more than agreed,’ Elspeth complained at him as she served him a chicken broth with fire-baked potato. ‘Take the day tomorrow for your hunting.’ Robert was too weary to do anything but agree. He soon went to his bed, and feel asleep without any troubling visions. The days settled into a pattern. In the morning, he would hunt the unicorn, tracking the flower patterns patiently through the forest. Several times he glimpsed the gleaming coat, the silver mane. But never close enough for a strike with his spear. Only lesser animals fell to his throws, rabbits and deer which he carried awkwardly to the cottage for supper. In the afternoons, he worked around the cottage, taking out his anger and frustration in his tasks. If Elspeth asked him to chop ten logs into firewood, he would chop twenty. If he were allotted five rows of potatoes to harvest, he would dig up ten. In the sheer physicality of his labour he could forget for awhile the sounds of metal shearing metal, the sticky smell of hot blood, the sour taste of fear. And when he crawled into his bed at night, he was so exhausted that he dropped to sleep without being troubled by dreams. ‘You work yourself too harshly,’ Elspeth scolded him one night, as she served up yet another of her broths. ‘I have never been so ready ‘gainst the snows. I have more firewood than I needs, enough potatoes and carrots to feed several mouths, and your hutch for me hens has let me keep more for stewing than ever afore. You have earned the rest of your keep. I do not want to see you fall ill!’ ‘No.’ He stirred restlessly at his soup with his lump of hard bread, wondering vaguely where she got flour from. ‘I want to ask lodging from you for the winter.’ She cocked her head. With the fire behind her, the deep eyes were shadowed. ‘Granted, and twice granted. But why should you wish to stay here? What do you seek in these woods?’ Robert dropped his eyes. ‘I hunt a creature.’ ‘What do you hunt?’ ‘You must know what I hunt.’ He met her dark eyes. ‘You must have seen me follow the flower tracks. I hunt the unicorn. I will redden my spear with her blood.’ He could almost feel her frown. ‘The unicorn be the
gentlest of beasts. Why should you wish to cause her harm?’ ‘Because she harmed me. And I will avenge myself on her.’ ‘The unicorn cleanses water with her horn and heals the wounds of humans. Why would you seek to kill such a beast?’ ‘Heals?’ He felt his mouth pull into a grimace. ‘Aye, she might heal some.’ He waved explanations away angrily. ‘Do not argue with me, Elspeth. I will only stop hunting her when the snows come, and once spring is upon us, I will hunt her again. I will track her down. And my knife will find her throat.’ <><><><><><> The nights came earlier, colder. Leaves coated the ground, crunched under the boots Elspeth had made for him. He moved firewood into the cabin, filled their bedchambers with sacks of potatoes and carrots, checked barn, hutch, and cottage for any cracks which might let in the freeze to come. He did not always know what to look for, but Elspeth was always available to point out what he had missed. It became a challenge to him, to complete a task so thoroughly that she could only nod with approval. He still tracked the unicorn, but was already resigned to continuing the hunt in earnest once winter was over. When he looked out the door one morning to find heavy snowflakes settling onto the fallen leaves, he resignedly made a final check of hutch, barn, and cottage, placed his spear into the lean-to, and returned to the warmth of the cottage. ‘Winter be a time for relaxing,’ Elspeth scolded him as he paced along the wooden planks which he had recently laid as a floor. ‘The work be over for the year.’ Robert slumped into a chair. He scratched absently at his stump, wondering why it itched at the change in weather. ‘I don’t want to relax.’ ‘You deserve a rest.’ She turned back to her weaving. A small loom rested on the floor in front of her, the wool spun, she’d told him, from goats she had once owned. ‘Does your jacket rest ‘pon you comfortably?’ He shrugged within its warm lining. Then he caught the barb to her question, and sheepishly removed the coat. ‘It does. Where did you get it from?’ ‘Many a traveller finds his way to me door.’ The clack of wood rubbing against wood paused for a moment. ‘Not all of them be as healthy as you. They
| CHRYS CYMRI | come with wounds for which there be no healing. Such a one has passed his coat to you.’ Robert fingered a dark stain near the collar, wondering if it were from blood. Many battles had been fought near these woods, many wounded wandered away from the field. ‘I am grateful to him.’ ‘Your shirt be growing tattered. Shall I weave a new one for you?’ ‘Don’t bother weaving a right sleeve.’ The bitterness in his voice reminded him that he was calmly scratching the stump. He straightened, wondering how he’d forgotten about his loss. The unicorn will pay for it, he thought grimly. ‘You have done more for me than many a man with two arms,’ Elspeth said calmly. ‘You have done well ‘bout me cottage. Have you any learning in farming?’ ‘My father believed in being a good steward to his people.’ Robert smiled slightly at the sudden memories. ‘We would oft ride together through his lands, always welcome at the tables of any of his peasants. He was known as a fair and good master, and I learned a little about the lives of those who till the land.’ ‘And did you go to war to fight at his side?’ The smile dropped from his face. ‘No. I went to be at the side of my cousin, the king, though my father entreated me to remain with him to defend his own lands.’ He stared down at his hand. ‘But I did not win the battle for my king, and my father must surely by now lie dead, his lands confiscated and given over to a knight in service to our conqueror.’ ‘I did not know me own sire,’ Elspeth mused. ‘And me dam be but a faded memory. All I have ever known have come and gone. Dogs, cats, chickens, goats, even a horse, brought me once by a traveller. But me cow has been with me for many years, and still gives milk faithfully through the season. A good friend to an old woman. But come, tell me of your sire and your dam. A winter grows long but for the talking.’ So he found himself telling her about his childhood, the castle of his father, the stallion he’d raised and trained himself, the hawk he had gentled to catch rabbits for him. He talked about becoming a knight at his father’s hand, and learning about honour and bravery. But when he asked Elspeth to tell him about her life, she demurred, saying that she had spent most of her life in these woods, and her story would only bore a man raised to the nobility. So she taught him how to cook instead. The rough-hewn Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | cabinet at the far wall from the fireplace held clay pots full of dried herbs and roots, which she had gathered throughout the year. She showed him how any broth could be livened by a few judicious additions. ‘And this be baywolf,’ she told him one day, ‘used to add strength to a broth. ‘Tis also good to the easing of overheated hearts.’ ‘Why, Elspeth,’ Robert said, teasing her, ‘are you a healer also?’ Her deep eyes met his, and he found himself stepping back, surprised at the pain his comment had raised. ‘Sometimes,’ she said softly. ‘Not oft enough.’ So the days passed uneventfully. In deference to Elspeth, Robert forced himself not to pace the floor. But exchanging tales and experimenting with herbs did not tire him as physical work had. Elspeth insisted on checking on the chickens and the cow herself, so he found little to weary him. The visions began to return at night. Despite the chill in his bedchamber, he would awake to find himself drenched with sweat, his stub pounding in remembered pain. And even when he dreamed, the unicorn was always just outside his grasp, slipping away into the trees when he chased after her, pleading her to stop for him. <><><><><><> ‘Me cow has disappeared,’ Elspeth announced one morning. She closed the door behind her and stomped snow from her boots. ‘She be a stupid beast. She has knocked the door asunder and taken to the woods.’ Robert rose from his chair, pulling himself from brooding over the dreams which had haunted him the past night. ‘She can’t have gone far. Was she by the lean-to?’ Elspeth shook her head, snowflakes spinning from her grey hair. ‘The tracks lead to the woods. She was a stupid beast.’ The past tense stung him into action. Robert lifted his coat from the chair and shrugged into the left sleeve, fitting the right over his stub. ‘I will find her for you.’ ‘‘Tis heavy full of snow,’ Elspeth warned, ‘and you-’ 24 | UncagedBooks.com
He was out of the cottage and the door shut before he could hear the rest of her words. She might call the cow stupid, but he knew how much Elspeth prized the beast. The old creature couldn’t have wandered far, not in this snow. Pleased to have an excuse for some physical exercise, he started following the tracks into the woods. The snow quickly deepened as he wandered further from the clearing. The cow’s tracks were still clear in front of him, and he wondered how she could have traversed some of the banks. He was a tall man, yet he still floundered several times in snowdrifts hiding gullies from view. Once he broke through to find himself up to his knees in the still-running stream. Legs and feet thoroughly chilled, he decided that he’d better find the cow soon, or turn back before the cold claimed him. He was about to give up when he heard the snort of a large creature nearby. Pushing aside a thick thatching of tree branches, he stepped into a small clearing, and found the cow staring at him. ‘You are a stupid beast,’ he informed her, crunching through the snow to her side. He grabbed her halter, then paused to catch his breath. They were in a strangely rectangular clearing, he suddenly realised. A wall of stone towered behind and on the right of the cow. On the left, a strand of small trees formed an almost impenetrable barrier. The only way in was the path taken by the cow and himself. It was also the only way out. An idea began to form in his mind. He glanced around. Snow altered many landmarks. In spring, when the trees were covered in green leaves, the rock face would be hidden--until a creature tried to escape in that direction. He smiled grimly. Yes, he’d know this place, come spring. And he’d corner the unicorn here. ‘Come on,’ he said to the cow, tugging at her halter. She followed willingly. <><><><><><> ‘You should not have gone for her!’ Elspeth scolded as he unselfconsciously stripped off wet boots, socks, and leggings. ‘‘Twere too dangerous!’ Robert propped himself by the fire and shrugged with more nonchalance than he felt. His head ached, and he felt very cold. ‘I know how much that cow means to you.’ ‘You mean more to me!’ Then, as if surprised by her own outburst, she busied herself with retrieving
blankets to drape over him. ‘How do you feel?’ ‘I feel well,’ he lied, then promptly sneezed. ‘You are a stupid man.’ She swung the pot from the fire, muttering to herself as she mixed in several herbs. He recognised some of them, but his head was beginning to swim, making it difficult to recall their names. Ap--Apple--Appleworm. An aid to easing coughs and aches in the chest. Coronaunt, used to warm the heart. ‘I’ve got plague,’ he said flatly, the seriousness of his pronouncement punctured by a loud sneeze. ‘You have not got the plague.’ She glanced at him. ‘What you have could be as deadly. Did your sire never teach you aught? Do you not know the dangers of cold?’ ‘We always had mulled cider when we went out in the winter,’ he said thickly. He found a scrap of cloth from his old shirt and blew his nose. Elspeth clucked disapprovingly. ‘I must make your bed by the fire, lad. You must now be kept warm.’ He wanted to protest that he could get his own bed, that he didn’t need her help. But he seemed stuck to his chair. Every muscle ached, deeper than from any physical task he’d ever undertaken. His thoughts were becoming nonsensical as he stared into the fire, and saw demons grin at his pain. He was only dimly aware of her pulling his bed into the room, and forcing him to get into it. Time slipped away from him. Sometimes he’d almost awaken, to find a broth being slowly spooned into his mouth, swallowing reflexively. Feverish dreams snapped at him. Again and again he was on the battlefield, his men dying around him. His horse reared, went down with a blade in its belly. He hit the ground, lost his sword. The young knight’s eyes met his, the blue depths full of pain and hope, then disbelief and incomprehension. Then the axe appeared from nowhere, crashed through armour and mail to sever the arm underneath. And a unicorn danced amongst the wounded. When he tried to call to her, she turned and pranced away, her tail flicking her disdain. Then he jumped to his feet, a spear clutched in his left hand, his only hand, as he chased her into the woods, away from the battlefield, away from the place of his shame. He was drowning in the images. There was no hunt here to keep them from crawling over his mind, festering in his dark depths. Robert thrashed, trying to free himself from their hold.
| CHRYS CYMRI | ‘Robert.’ A voice was calling his name. ‘Robert.’ He thought he glimpsed a silver horn, touching his chest, piercing through to his heart. He screamed soundlessly at the pain. ‘Robert.’ He awoke suddenly, found Elspeth sitting beside him, her hand on his. ‘Elspeth,’ he said weakly. ‘The body should be healed,’ she said softly. A strand of grey hair slid loose, touched him on the shoulder. ‘But the heart clings to some graver illness, and will not allow you to heal. Tell me, Robert, what be ailing you?’ He closed his eyes wearily, chose the lesser pain. ‘The unicorn. Do you want to know why I hunt the unicorn?’ ‘Tell me.’ It might be the lesser of his two wounds, but that did not make the telling any easier. ‘You know the triple legend of the unicorn, that she can bring even a desert to bloom, that her horn cleanses any water it touches, and that she seeks to heal any wound.’ ‘Healing be the gift of the unicorn. I know the legends.’ ‘I have seen proof of them all.’ He took a deep breath, drew comfort from the hand holding his. ‘I have seen the flowers left by her hooves, I have tasted water cleansed by her horn, and I have seen her heal.’ ‘Some would say you have been thrice blessed.’ ‘I say that I saw her heal.’ Again, the agony, the shame. ‘I do not know her powers for myself.’ He felt the hot tears, bit his lip to force them back. ‘After the battle died down, before we knew our king to be dead, our battle surgeons came forth to tend to our wounds. They completed the severing of my sword arm, and cauterised my wounds. All around was the groaning and muttering of the wounded, the screams of the dying. The eyes of a young knight, dead even as my arm had been taken from me, seemed fixed upon mine.’ He took another deep breath, pulled himself away from the greater pain yet again. ‘The crows were beginning to feed on him, to tear at my lost arm, and the uninjured of our army were already plundering from their own dead!’ The shout left him weak and gasping for air. When he could, he continued, ‘Night came, not soon enough to hide the field. Then, as the moon rose, she Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | appeared.’ Even what had happened after was not enough to utterly destroy the wonder he had felt at his first sight of the unicorn. ‘She was beautiful, so beautiful. Have you even seen the unicorn, Elspeth?’ ‘Never. There be only ever one in the world at a time.’ ‘She’s not very large, only the size of your cow.’ He almost smiled at the audacity of comparing a unicorn to a cow. ‘Her coat is a pure, shimmering white, and even in moonlight it gleams with rainbows, like a pearl. Her hooves are silver, as is her mane, and tail. And her horn.’ ‘What did she do?’ ‘She walked into the field, picking her way through the bodies, the weapons, the blood-soaked mud. Light seemed to follow with her. I saw her stop before a knight with a sword-cut across his forehead. She touched him with her horn, following the cut with its sharp tip. Behind, she left only a scar, and he looked up at her, healed. Then she went to the next man, and the next, giving back sight, fingers, healing broken skin and bones.’ He took a deep breath, turned his head away. ‘But she didn’t come to me.’ ‘Did she see you?’ ‘She saw me.’ The night was engraved in his memory. ‘She stopped in front of me, the moonlight spilling across my body, pooling in my wounds. But she stepped back, and left me.’ He released Elspeth’s hand to hit the blankets in anger. ‘She left me!’ ‘And that be why you hunt her? Revenge?’ ‘Yes.’ But he kept his eyes closed, unwilling to meet hers. ‘I told you that long ago. I will have my vengeance. My spear will plunge into her side, and my knife will find her throat.’ ‘If a unicorn dies from hate,’ she said softly, almost as if to herself, ‘a new one will not come, and the unicorn t’will be lost to the world forever.’ 26 | UncagedBooks.com
‘I don’t care what happens to her.’ Robert shook his head, finding his thoughts clearing. ‘But I want to get well. I can’t hunt her like this.’ ‘The fever seems to be subsiding,’ Elspeth said. ‘You have found your reason for living.’ Robert sat up to accept the bowl of soup she handed to him, wondering why she sounded resigned. <><><><><><> Spring came suddenly. One morning, Robert looked outside, and snow still covered the ground. The next, and the thaw had begun, with large icicles forming crystalline daggers on the branches of every tree. Mindful of Elspeth’s scolding, he put on boots and jacket before wandering out to the lean-to. Spear in hand, he brushed melting snow from a log and sat down with his knife to clean the head and scrape the wood. When the spear was shiny and gleaming once more, he propped it against the cottage, and returned inside to defend himself against Elspeth’s accusations. ‘I would like to remain awhile longer,’ he said once he’d convinced her that he’d taken all precautions before venturing outside. ‘You have a unicorn to hunt.’ Robert shrugged, knowing she didn’t approve. ‘I’d like to stay anyway,’ he said quietly, rubbing his thumb over the rough table, certain that he could make a better one for her. She snorted, and busied herself with the pot. But she put in two extra handfuls of chicken, so he knew that she was pleased. He leaned back in his chair, smiling as she began to list all the chores which needed doing. He was looking forward to physical work again. The dreams still haunted him, even more now since his illness. They’ll go away, he promised himself, after I’ve killed the unicorn. But his tasks did not seem to weary him as much as before the winter. He returned to the battle night after night, surrounded by the dying, the knight’s eyes holding his for a dark eternity. Each afternoon he wandered further and further into the woods, searching in vain for the flower-filled tracks of the unicorn. ‘Be it necessary?’ Elspeth asked him one evening as he wandered restlessly by the fire. ‘Must you kill the
unicorn?’ ‘Of course I have to,’ he said, poking at the fire with a stick. ‘Then hunt on the morrow. The chickens can wait the day.’ He nodded, staring gloomily into the flames. The demons were there again, snapping at the branch in his hand. Fire, he thought. Fire would have cleansed the battlefield, rid us of our dead. Rid me of that knight. He blinked, and the fire was only a fire again, the demons sunk back into the ash. The next morning, he half-heartedly fastened his spear to his back and slid his arm through the strap of a bag heavy with stones. He scanned the ground for flowers amongst the young grass and the winter leaves. She has gone, he thought despairingly. She has gone, and I don’t know where to find her. He felt the dark visions close around him. A flash of white caught his eye. He froze, the bag stilling at his side. Then he stepped forward carefully, parting the branches of the tree. There, on the ground, were the flower hoofmarks of the unicorn. Excitement coursed through his body. He took a deep breath, calming himself. His strategy had changed over the winter. Instead of simply trying to get close enough to throw his spear, he was now going to drive her into the dead end the cow had found. Rather than trying to hide his presence from the beast, he would have to broadcast it, and ensure that she went in the direction he had planned. The past month had not been a total waste. The trees were now in leaf, which would hide the trap from the unicorn. He had also become well acquainted with the woods, so that he now knew exactly where they were in relation to the rectangular clearing. Even if the unicorn’s own knowledge of the forest was as great, he still hoped to keep her so intent on avoiding him that she did not sense the trap until it was too late. Through the woods they travelled. Robert slowly manoeuvred her in the direction of the clearing, throwing stones into the trees to startle her back to the route whenever she attempted to slip away. His arm started to ache with the effort, and he glanced irritably up at the sun. Soon it would be mid-day. They must be close to the clearing. A quick glance
| CHRYS CYMRI | around confirmed that they were, and he threw rocks with renewed enthusiasm. He was getting closer to the beast. Flashes of sliver and white became more and more frequent, and he could hear her breathing start to labour as she dashed first one way, then another. The rocks forced her back along the path. Robert was walking on almost pure flowers, crushing petals of red and blue and yellow under his boots. The heady scent rose up to his nostrils. Then he was stepping into the clearing, dropping the near-empty bag of stones. The unicorn backed away, her slender sides heaving as she suddenly realised that there was no escape. Robert smiled. He unstrapped the spear, and drew back his arm, pausing to savour the moment. Then he threw it at the unicorn. The bright tip glinted as it curved through the air. The unicorn threw back her head as the shaft drove deep into her shoulder. Red blood spurted as she fell to her knees, the motion breaking the spear tip from the shaft. The snap of wood echoed through the forest. Robert pulled out his knife as he strode forward, all his hatred and anger focussed on the creature at his feet. He crouched down, grabbed the mane to pull the thin head back. The deep brown eyes looked up at him. Pain shuddered in the depths, and incomprehension. Why? they seemed to ask him. Why? He was suddenly transported back, to another pair of eyes, blood welling from another wound. His horse buckled under him, and he was flung to the churned ground. With his horse gone, his sword gone, his only thought was to flee, to escape with his life. His foot hit a young knight who was holding together two ragged ends of skin at his shoulder. The knight was part of Robert’s command, his sword pledged to his commander’s use, and the blue eyes lit with hope as Robert gazed at him. Sickened by the bloodshed, in fear for his own life, Robert turned away, but not before he saw the hope replaced by pain and incomprehension, not before he felt more than heard the axe which crushed the young knight’s chest, then rose to all but sever Robert’s right arm. And, unable to move from where he had fallen, Robert found himself still in the gaze of those now dead eyes, dead but still accusing him of betrayal, of desertion. Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | ‘I didn’t mean to do it, I didn’t mean to do it,’ he found himself saying, over and over, as he was suddenly back in the clearing, the unicorn’s blood running over his hand and legs. The dark eyes looked up at him, silent but full of pain. He stared into them, wondering at the lack of accusation. The unicorn was not his enemy. His shame was not her fault. Her death would not block out his darkness. ‘Not again.’ He threw the knife away, heard it clatter against a stone. His throat seemed thick as he spluttered, ‘I’m not leaving another to die.’
He turned, crushed something under his boots. He opened his eyes to the shine of flowers. A trail led to the cottage. He pushed himself away from the barn, and followed the blooms. The flowers continued into the door, then stopped halfway across the floor, petals of white and red gleaming against the dark planks. They spread in the direction of Elspeth’s bedchamber. Stepping slowly, carefully into the cottage, he crossed over to the room. He took a deep breath, then opened the door. ‘Elspeth?’
He bent down and tried to pick up the unicorn. But with only one arm, he could not, and he found himself cursing in frustration. I’ll have to drag her, then, was a sudden, lucid thought. He undid his jacket, managed to get it around the unicorn’s belly. Then he began the long journey back to the cottage. The journey took on the nightmarish unreality of his dreams. Time and again the coat sleeves would pull loose from his hand. Or the unicorn would slip off the material, and he would have to lift her back onto the jacket. The forest floor, which had seemed so smooth when he had walked along it earlier, was now full of rocks and dips, and each time the unicorn was jarred, he seemed to feel it in his own body.
‘Come in.’ He obeyed, treading cautiously into the chamber. Elspeth was in the bed, a dishevelled mass of hair, leaves, and flowers spreading across her pillow. She said calmly, ‘A bed be more comfortable than a barn, and it lacks the cow dung.’
Finally the cottage was in sight. He carefully dragged the battered jacket and its precious cargo to the barn, shooing the cow out to spread the unicorn across the straw. She was more grey than white now, her hooves dulled. But her horn still gleamed, exposing every knot in the rough planks. Robert made sure she was comfortable, then staggered to the cottage. ‘Elspeth?’ he called out. ‘We need herbs, and blankets, and water. Elspeth, I’ve brought the unicorn to the barn!’ There was no answer. He looked through the rooms, then hurried back outside, checking the woods nearby. Desperate, he returned to the barn, opening the door and expecting the worst. The unicorn was gone. He closed his eyes, felt a new pain go through him. Did unicorns go off to die on their own, like dogs did? She can’t die, he thought fiercely. I can’t let her die. 28 | UncagedBooks.com
Robert found himself shaking. He groped his way to the wall, resting his back against it before looking down at her. His voice seemed very small and far away. ‘I don’t understand.’ ‘Do you not, dear Robert?’ She smiled, shifted. The blankets fell back, revealing a deep, bloody wound in her left shoulder. ‘Why didn’t you tell me who you are?’ The room seemed to be spinning around him, and he pressed himself more firmly against the wall. ‘Why did you let me hunt you?’ ‘You must tell me, Robert. Tell me why you hunt me.’ ‘I did tell you why,’ he said stubbornly. ‘Because you wouldn’t heal me.’ ‘That be not the real reason, be it?’ Elspeth asked gently. ‘Think back, Robert. Remember that night on the battlefield, when I appeared to you? Remember how I lowered me horn to you, so that you might be healed? What did you do? Tell me, what did you do?’ His fingers dug into the clay wall. The lies he had constructed were falling around him, and he didn’t know what he might be able to cling to once they were gone. ‘I refused,’ he whispered. ‘I refused to let you heal me.’ ‘We have spent a long winter together under this roof. Can you now trust me with your heart, and tell
me why you refused me?’ He twisted his head away. The wide blue eyes, staring into his long into the night. ‘My father begged me to stay with him, to guard our lands against the invader. But I wanted the glory of serving the king, of having everyone listen to me because I was his blood kin. I wanted more than just one castle and a few hundred farms. I wanted--I wanted--’ He took a deep, shuddering breath. ‘I wanted to be war hero, covered in honour. The king gave me a command, and the knights swore fealty to me. In return, I pledged my protection to them. But when it was tested...’ His stomach cramped up inside him, cutting off his voice. He gripped the wall even tighter, felt the clay crumble under his fingernails. Elspeth said quietly, ‘The young knight who lay dead beside you. Be he part of your command?’ ‘Yes.’ Robert forced himself to move forward, so he could meet her gaze, know when she rejected him. ‘My horse was killed under me. I lost my sword as I fell. All I could see was death, all I could smell was blood, all I could hear was the screams of men and horses around me. My father raised me to be honourable and brave. But, I was--I was a coward. I turned to flee. At that point, I was only a coward. Worse was to come.’ He closed his eyes, but found himself swaying on his feet. He forced them open again. ‘My foot hit one of my knights as I turned. He was injured, unable to move, and waiting to die. But he recognised me, and he was suddenly hopeful. He expected me to save him. I should have tried to save him. I could have saved him. But--’ his voice threatened to strangle in his throat, and he had to force the words out, ‘--but I turned away, I tried to escape. I left him there, and he was killed a moment later, by the same axe which took my arm from me.’ The sound of his own heartbeat seemed to echo through the room, resound from the walls. Her face flickered in the tears he refused to shed. ‘So, you see,’ he said harshly, ‘I don’t deserve to be healed. That’s why I refused you, on the battlefield. If I had tried to defend him, as was my duty, he would be alive, and I would still have my arm. I don’t deserve to be healed.’
| CHRYS CYMRI | ‘My dear lad.’ She lifted a red-stained hand to him. He took it and knelt beside the bed, looking down at her wrinkled face in amazement. ‘Wounds of the body, those be easy to heal. It be not your arm which needs healing. You have carried a darkness deep into your heart, so deep that you deny it can be lifted from you.’ ‘But I don’t deserve--’ ‘Hush,’ she said, and clucked disapprovingly. It was so much like the Elspeth he’d thought he’d known that he felt the first tear break free and course down his cheek. ‘Who be to say who be deserving? Not you. Not I. ‘Tis the place of a unicorn to heal, and you can be healed. But you must wish it. Healing cannot be forced upon you. Do you wish to be healed?’ He bent his head over their joined hands. The pain he had borne for so long was like a heavy weight, dragging down his shoulders and freezing his heart. ‘Aye, Elspeth.’ She shifted on the bed, touched his head with her free hand. ‘I be dying, Robert. No, do not try to deny it,’ she said as he tried to interrupt. ‘I be very old, in experience, if not in age. Even a unicorn cannot take the pain of a world forever. I be dying, and you must let your darkness die with me.’ ‘I don’t want you to go,’ he said, the words wrenching from deep within him. ‘But I must.’ She touched his head again. ‘At least let me take one last wound with me.’ He nodded, unable to speak. He felt her hands drop away, and raised his eyes. The form on the bed shimmered, becoming half unicorn, half woman. The horned head turned towards him, the deep eyes meeting his in love and affection. The horn rested lightly against his chest for a moment. Then it plunged into his chest. He gasped as the silver spear sank deeper and deeper, until it pierced his heart. Then it twisted. Something dark flowed down the groves of the spiral, turning the silver to black. He felt the weight he had carried for so long drain from his body. The head lifted, then fell back, leaving an old woman lying on the bed. Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | Robert lifted his hand gingerly to touch her. Then she disappeared, the blankets dropping into the hollow. He stared for a moment, unable to believe that she was gone. Then he bent his head, and wept into the rough wool. <><><><><><> He stayed in the cottage several days, wandering around aimlessly, sleeping deep and dreamlessly. The agonising pain was gone, but there seemed nothing to replace it. He found himself picking up the herb jars, crumbling the dust of leaves and roots through his fingers. The walls were beginning to decay as well. New cracks appeared hourly, and the roof leaked when it rained. He supposed that the cottage was only ever meant to belong to the unicorn. Now that she was gone, it had no further purpose, and the woods were reclaiming their territory. He finally emerged early on the third day. As he had expected, the cottage collapsed once he was through the door. He opened the barn and the hutch, letting the cow and the chickens disappear into the forest. A pack he had found in his bedchamber rested at his feet, filled with some clothes and food. He glanced at the brightening sky as he turned away, single hand closing his battered jacket awkwardly against the chill of predawn and then lifting the pack. A glint in the distance caught his eye. High on the hills above, a glowing figure was leaping from rock to rock with reckless abandon. His heart surged for a moment, then dropped again. No old unicorn would dare such leaps. But what else could the creature be? He found himself running up through the woods, towards the meadow where he had long ago stalked a unicorn. The pack jounced at his back, unbalancing him as he battered branches out of his way with his arm. Uncaring of the scratches left on his cheeks or the bruises on his toes, he fought his way through the forest. He emerged, panting, on the meadow at the same moment as the unicorn. The unicorn laughed, a high, masculine laugh. He skidded to a halt several yards away, his coat gleaming even though dawn was still only a promise. ‘Well met on this lovely morn!’ he shouted, his long tail flicking merrily over his flanks. Robert swung the pack to the ground, feeling suddenly very old and tired. ‘I thought there was only 30 | UncagedBooks.com
one unicorn.’ ‘There be only one unicorn at any one time. We take the duty in turns.’ He bent his head to polish his silver horn against his shiny hide, then turned back to him. ‘She did not die from hatred, so I be able to replace her.’ ‘You could never replace her,’ Robert said without thinking. ‘Now, now.’ The unicorn’s tone was so similar to Elspeth’s scolding that Robert blinked. ‘Show to others the same compassion as be shown to you.’ ‘But I didn’t want her to die,’ Robert said stubbornly. ‘She didn’t have to die for me.’ ‘That be her choice to make. Who are you to gainsay it? Do not lessen her gift.’ ‘But what am I supposed to do with it?’ Robert demanded. ‘You humans!’ the unicorn exclaimed. ‘Be your life fixed and set? Be you not free to move and act? Make reparations! Make your peace with your sire-he awaits you on his lands, which he has defended from the invaders of your kingdom. Make your peace with the family of the knight you did permit to be slain--he left a young lady and a child without a home. You have accepted forgiveness. Now make reparations!’ Robert smiled, the unicorn’s imperiousness reminding him of Elspeth. ‘You’re right. Thank you.’ The unicorn bobbed his head. ‘I be sent to perform one last healing. A last from her, a first from me.’ He pranced forward, and Robert braced himself, wondering if the sharp horn were going to be plunged into his chest. But the thin tip merely touched his right shoulder. ‘That be all—and I be away!’ the unicorn shouted, his tail flowing behind him like quicksilver as he galloped into the woods. Robert found himself smiling again. The sun finally struggled over the hills, touching the flowering meadow with weak sunshine. He took one last breath of the fresh air, then bent down to retrieve his pack. Without thinking, he picked it up with his right arm and threw it over his shoulder. And stopped, amazed, to look at his right hand.
feature authors urban fantasy
feature author Award-winning author Deborah Wilde jumped from a twelve year screenwriting career to writing YA romantic comedies under the name Tellulah Darling because her first kiss sucked and she’s compensating. Both a hopeless romantic and a total cynic with a broken edit button, she branched out into adult urban fantasy as Deborah Wilde to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. She is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way.
deborahwilde.com Sign up for the newsletter under “Join the Wilde Ones” on the site 34 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged welcomes Deborah Wilde! Uncaged: You first starting writing as a screenwriter and then you wrote young adult fiction as Tellulah Darling. What inspiration did you have to jump into the urban fantasy world with The Unlikeable Demon Hunter, Nava Katz series? Magic has always featured pretty prominently in both my screenwriting and YA work. Oddly enough, one of my first staff TV jobs was writing for a demon hunting show. After releasing 5 YA romcoms, the time felt right to combine my loves of snarky banter, sexytimes, and urban fantasy for a non-teen audience. At the very least, I figured I’d entertain myself . :) In terms of Nava, specifically, though, that all came about because this image of her doing the walk of shame up her parents’ front lawn while half-drunk, and crashing her Chosen One sibiling’s induction ceremony only to discover they’d been training the wrong twin all these years, popped into my head. That
became the opening of book 1 and it snowballed from there. Uncaged: How many books are you planning for this series? The big picture arc that I have planned involves six books. But if I still love writing Nava, and readers want more, it could be expanded on a book-by-book basis. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all? I don’t because I feel like once I’ve put my book out into the world, it takes on its own relationship with readers. That said, I have the coolest readers around and they are not shy about letting me know their thoughts on the series. :P There hasn’t been any feedback that’s changed the direction of something I‘d planned, but I’ve definitely
clarified scenes because of questions they had and then run those revisions past them to make sure they worked better. Uncaged: When can readers expect more installments, and do you have any other books besides these on a back burner? I’m hoping early 2018 for book 4, though there will be a box set of books 1-3 released in November. I also have another YA romantic comedy that I need to release. It’s Romancing the Stone meets Romeo and Juliet – but without the body count. I’ve been so caught up in all my demon hunting madness that I’ve kind of neglected it, but I hope to have a release date on that soon, as it’s written already. Uncaged: I know you have a review team, as I’m on it, (YAY), do you also have a street team? What are the benefits to signing up for your newsletter? Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | You most definitely are! :) I don’t have a street team though I do have a great FB group that is open to members of my newsletter. Somewhere in the third or fourth email people get from me, I give details of that. The other benefits to signing up are exclusive access to the short stories in the Unlikeable Demon Hunter series, opportunities to be an advance reader, and my monthly urban fantasy book recommendations. I’m happy to say I’ve successfully pimped out a lot of my favorite series. Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? My love of urban fantasy is constant and ongoing. Favorite authors include Ilona Andrews, Karen Marie Moning, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, and Anne Bishop. I also love mysteries, like those by Tana French, and I’m a huge historical romance fan with authors like Sarah McLean, Tessa Dare, and Jennifer Ashley. And of course, YA. Rainbow Rowell, Becky Albertalli, Laini Taylor, Melina Marchetta and V.E. Schwab are a few authors I love. That all might seem pretty obvious (well, maybe not the HR part) so I’ll throw in that I also adore m/m romance, especially the works of C.S. Pacat and Santino Hassell. I do love series because I get separation anxiety when a good book ends so it’s nice to know there’s more to come. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Reading, binge watching TV, tap dancing, dinner parties with friends and family, and traveling. I also shamelessly eavesdrop on people’s conversations in the name of “research” and silently heckle the world-atlarge à la Statler and Waldorf.
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Uncaged: Recently, you attended a book convention with proceeds going to charity, can you tell us more about that? Are you planning on attending any others soon? Do you do blog tours or Facebook parties with the new releases? Yeah, that was amazing. I went to the Romance Writer’s of America conference for my first time and was one of 400 authors who donated books for a literacy charity. We did our signing in this massive ballroom in rows of tables, with the superstar authors along one side. I was hoping to sell one book but I sold out of them all. I even had readers who had come specifically to meet and support me. It was insane. Mostly, I think I entertained people because I kept offering “exotic Canadian delicacies” – these Canadian chocolate bars called Coffee Crisp that I love. They were a great icebreaker. This is me mugging for the camera, which is pretty much my basic photo face default. The exotic Canadian delicacies had not yet been set out. I have no other plans for other signings at the moment. I’ve done FB parties in the past and might again in the future. But I do blog tours and book blitzes for my releases. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? To those of you who have picked up my books and fallen in love with Nava, Rohan, and the boys, thank you from the bottom of my heart. There are so many books and so little time and I will never take the gift of your readership for granted. To those thinking that yeah, a series that’s described as “Bridesmaids meets Buffy” sounds right up my alley and I do love chatting all things urban fantasy, come sign up to my NL. My main character Nava, is essentially me with my “polite society” edit button turned off, so you’ll pretty quickly know what you’re getting yourself into. :P
Enjoy an excerpt from The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Need The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Need (Book 3 - Nava Katz)
Deborah Wilde Urban Fantasy
The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Winner of the 2017 Raven Award for Favorite Urban Fantasy. Less Hopelessly Devoted, more Worse Things I Could Do. Nava is hot on the heels of a demonic serial killer and finally working with her brother. The assignment should be a dream come true, not a nightmarish power struggle made worse by her twin’s refusal to believe there’s corruption within the Brotherhood. Nava is determined to find proof of their dirty dealings, even as she risks irrefutably breaking her sibling bond. Speaking of clocking annoying males upside the head... Nava is also totally over smoking hot rock star and fellow hunter Rohan Mitra. There is a veritable buffet of boy options out there, and this girl is now all-you-can-eat. So when her demon hunt brings her first love, Cole, back into her life, her revenge fantasies for closure-on all fronts-are a go. Except neither her old wounds nor her new ones are as healed as she believes. Still, she’s got work to do: Brotherhood: unmask. Demons: slaughter. Guy problems: terminate with extreme prejudice.
| DEBORAH WILDE | Excerpt “I could do with a boy or a burrito.” I rubbed my belly, the silky material of the long-sleeved tunic that I wore as a mini dress sliding under my fingers. Were TV shows and book covers to be believed, I’d stake out my prey with a sleek fall of hair, clad in head-to-toe leather. Too bad my curls were allergic to flat irons and tight leather pants gave me yeast infections. Learned that the hard way. “In that order?” My twin brother Ari was a disembodied voice in the shadows. I side-stepped the run-off dripping from the broken rain spout onto the alley’s cobblestones, thinking fondly of my double-breasted, classic trench coat back inside the bar. “Depends on how good the burrito is.” The bar’s dented back door crashed open, releasing a spill of music, a sharp blast of chatter, and two demons glamoured up to look human. I jerked my chin at them. “Took you long enough.” The taller of the two, Zale, swaggered toward me in his white shitcatcher pants, his white vest stretched tight across his wiry torso, and his fedora perched rakishly atop his bald black head. He cocked his finger and thumb at me like a gun. “All right, all right, all right.” Fucking Matthew McConaughey wannabe. The original was more than enough. Skirting the edge of the dim pool of light cast by the sole bulb over the door, I sashayed forward on my three-inch heels, a whisper of a breeze rippling my hem. “You promised me witches.” I trailed a finger down his chest. “Gonna deliver?” His friend Dmitri barked a laugh. Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Zale shot him an amused smile. “You want the goods? Pony up.” He reached for his elastic waistband. I reached for my magic.
wheezed exhale a pretty good dying bagpipe impression. “You were saying?” I asked.
Look at that. I was faster. Electricity snaked out of my fingertips in a forked bolt.
Five tentacles sprang from his chest like Shiva’s arms, the one closest to me striking the ground with a sticky slurp. The air fogged with the stench of patchouli and fungus.
“My implication that I was willing to blow you for their whereabouts?” I smiled sweetly and cracked open the concrete beside his shell-toe shoes. “Total fabrication.”
I swiped at my watering eyes. “You’re missing a tentacle.”
Zale blurred out of sight. I wasn’t concerned because this raku demon only had short range flash stepping ability and a dark shadow had disengaged itself from the gloom to give chase. Ari, my fellow demon hunter. My brother’s smirk, sharp as a razor’s edge as he tracked the demon, made it all too clear how hunting suited him. “What are you?” Dmitri’s perplexed and vacant blink at me fit right in with his dishwater blond man bun and tapered floral pants, but was still insulting. “I’m Rasha.” He laughed. “You can’t be a hunter, you’re a girl.” I grabbed my boobs with a shocked gasp. “That’s what this means?” Damn, I had a good rack. “I can’t sing either, but that doesn’t stop me practicing for The Voice auditions. So, yup. Girl and Rasha.” He made a sound of disgust. I didn’t need that kind of disrespect today, so I flicked a bolt of electricity into his crotch. The felan demon dropped to his knees, his 38 | UncagedBooks.com
“I’m perfect the way I am.” His snarled–and issueladen–response made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but the real kicker was his front tentacle lashing across my forearm. Take the precision of a bee sting and magnify it by the mass destructive power of a nuclear bomb. That was close to the searing fire that his paralytic touch shot along every nerve ending in my body. I wheezed a gasp, my arm dropping to my side. The felan snickered. “Shut it, asswipe. At least I’m not wearing floral pants.” I tried to move my arm, receiving a wet noodle dangle for my efforts. He fingered his fabric. “I’m wearing these pants ironically.” “Not paired with that hair abomination you’re not. Might as well wear a button that says, ‘I’m a demon, ask me how!’” My arm felt like my mouth after a dental procedure–numb, swollen, and clunky. Had my elbow been able to drool, I’m sure it would have. A sliver of moonlight guided me as I fired my magic at Dmitri, but the paralytic was already taking root, thick and sticky as molasses. My stream of blue and silver current stuttered out of me, the demon dodging it with ease. Dmitri swaggered in closer, locked a tentacle around
my ankle, and pulled. I crashed down on my ass, my legs wobbling like the finest Jell-O. “Cute panties,” he said. I’d have killed him just for the use of that horrid word but my heart hammering at an unsustainable speed was all I was capable of. He pinned me down and wrapped a tentacle around each appendage like I was Gulliver imprisoned by the Lilliputians. I stiffened out like a surfboard. My breath punched out of me in a scream, my pain spiking like I was coated in bubbling lava. I was half-convinced my flesh was melting from my bones. Gritting my teeth, I forced my magic out. Animated lightning bolts danced over my now-blue skin and a wave of current burst from my entire body to wrap around the demon like barbed wire. It knocked the felan back a whopping half-step, but at least it broke his hold. I still couldn’t move, but I could take a deep breath. “Witches. How do I find them?” I tightened my magic net on him, taking perverse satisfaction in his eyes bugging out of his head. “Urban. Myth.” He flailed his tentacles, caught tight in my web. “There are no witches, you moron.” My vision kaleidoscoped into black blobs, the paralytic sinking its hooks into every inch of me. Lungs burning, nervous system in a Code Red panic, I had to finish him off, except I was now seeing multiples of the lemon-colored tentacle tip indicative of his weak spot. His Achilles heel and the place I needed to direct my magic in order to kill him. I dug down into my last molecule of energy and nuked Dmitri with so much magic that he charred like a well-done steak. The air reeked of fetid BBQ, but I’d hit his sweet spot and dispatched him into oblivion with a puff of lemon-colored-yet-hippyscented-dust. At least I didn’t have to clean up after myself. Lack of a corpse, the sole public service that demons provided.
| DEBORAH WILDE | Fumbling for the edge of my Spanx with spasming fingers, I pulled out the modified EpiPen tucked against my hip and blue-to-the-sky’d it in my thigh. Thanks to the fast-acting antidote, the pain in my body subsided from “rip my skin off” to “whimper madly.” Much better. I twitched my fingers, happy to note they still moved, then flopped over, hands braced on the cobblestones. Luckily, the stones were dry. Landing in an unidentifiable puddle would have been an indignity too far. The bulb over the back door cracked and sizzled out. I turned my head away from flying shards and sat up. Zale blurred into the alley, eyes wide. Shadows pressed in as if they had weight and heft, tinged with an ashy smell. The raku backed away but he was cornered on all sides by darkness. There was a languid elegance to my brother’s magic. Zale spewed some super homophobic insults involving Ari’s interactions with his fellow hunters in a way I was almost positive was impossible. The shadows expanded, like they were taking a deep breath, before wrapping themselves around each of Zale’s arms and his upper torso. They jerked the demon back against the brick wall, the crack of his skull momentarily shutting him up. I yanked out the doctored-up EpiPen still sticking out of my leg. It contained a felan antidote provided by the Brotherhood of David, the testosterone-laden secret society of demon hunters that I had become the first female member of. The antidote had dealt with the worst of the poison–the fatality part–leaving me merely battered and bruised. A run-of-themill Wednesday. Zale struggled as Ari strolled closer, a pale blue silhouette. The raku’s tendons popped along his skin as he strained against his bonds. “F**king psycho.” Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Ari stilled. Flexed his fingers. The shadows holding Zale gave a sharp jerk, snapping both his arms out of their sockets. The demon’s roar cut off in a cough as a shadow slithered up his chest, wound around his neck, and strangled him.
for, but still only left me wanting more. Keep ‘em coming, Ms. Wilde Reviewed by Cyrene
“Ari.” I scrambled to my feet. My brother’s eyes glittered dangerously. He edged his face close in to Zale’s and Zale flinched. “Boo,” Ari said with a hard smile and fired a shadow like a punch into Zale’s abs. His sweet spot. The raku gasped and disappeared, dead.
Uncaged Review Did you ever have one of those books that you have to put down for one reason or another and the whole time you are away from the book, you just want to finish whatever task you are doing so you can get back to the book? That’s exactly how I would describe this latest installment for this series. The snarky Nava is back, and even though sometimes she seems like she’s in over her head and too stubborn to admit it, in this book, she gets back on track with her brother, and with Rohan, but it is not smooth sailing getting there. There are people dying of heart attacks in the city, young people without any history of problems. Ari and Nava are assigned to find out what’s happening. On a side note, Nava is still trying to find the spine that was infused on the demon in the last book, hoping to prove the Brotherhood is not on the up and up. Rohan and Nava are not seeing eye-to-eye these days because of his last mission, but he’s back and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. This book does not slow down, we get great action sequences and fun sexy times and a whole lot of humor, and keeps you engaged throughout. The ending was more than I could have hoped 40 | UncagedBooks.com
Both of the previous books in the series above were reviewed in past issues of Uncaged, and all received a 5-Star rating. Highly recommended for Urban Fantasy lovers.
feature author Author of Paranormal and Travel/Adventure Romance USA Today and Amazon best selling author Anna Lowe loves putting the “hero” back into heroine and letting location ignite a passionate romance. She loves dogs, sports, and travel – and letting those inspire her fiction. On any given weekend, you might find her hiking in the mountains or hunched over her laptop, working on her latest story – whether that’s an action-packed adventure romance or a smoldering hot paranormal romance. Either way, the day will end with a chunk of dark chocolate and a good read.
Uncaged welcomes Anna Lowe! Uncaged: I’ve read the first two books in the Aloha Shifters: Jewel of the Heart series, loved them both, can you describe this series? The best way to describe the series is “Magnum, PI” with a shifter twist! It’s about a group of dragon, wolf, bear, and tiger shifters who are trying to move on after a decade of service in an elite Special Forces unit. Transitioning back to civilian life isn’t as easy as it sounds - not even in sunny Maui, where they land a sweet gig as caretakers of a luxurious seaside estate. Fate still has a host of challenges in store for this band of brothers, including the deadly threat of evil shifter foes, the mysterious powers of a long-lost collection of jewels, and the alluring temptation of true love. Uncaged: How many books are you planning for this series?
annalowebooks.com 42 | UncagedBooks.com
There are six books planned for this series plus a holiday story. Books 1, 2, and 3 (Lure of the Dragon, Lure of the Wolf, and Lure of the Bear) are already out, and Book 4 (Lure of the Tiger) releases on Sep-
tember 6. Book 5 (Love of the Dragon), will be out in October, and the others soon after that. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all? Some author don’t read reviews but I can’t help myself! I love hearing what readers enjoyed in my stories and which elements drew them in most. It’s always great to hear how much a reader liked the characters or enjoyed the suspenseful elements - and of course, how hot they rated the romance! It’s good confirmation for me that I’ve done my job and it helps me continue to deliver those things in the rest of the series. Uncaged: Can you tell us more about your other series you have out? I have three other paranormal romance series, and they all interconnect. The WOLVES OF TWIN MOON RANCH series is set in the ranchlands of central Arizona
where I once lived. The series follows the members of one extended family and their packmates, all willing to battle for life and love. What I love about the Twin Moon series is the sense of community, being able to follow family members over an extended period of time, and how the desert reflects the dangers in those shifters’ lives. We get to see the characters and their children grow and develop over many years. That series spun out into the BLUE MOON SALOON series which features bear and wolf shifters who settle near Twin Moon Ranch. The saloon is almost a character in itself, and there are cameos by the heroes and heroines from Twin Moon Ranch. It’s so much fun, even though every story has a dark moment. My SHIFTERS IN VEGAS series takes a zanier approach to the same Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | shifter world those books are a little heavier on comic elements but just as steamy and fun! I should add that every single book can be read as a standalone, and I hate cliffhangers!
It’s my way of saying thank you for their support. My website is open for any fan to browse (you don’t have to subscribe. It’s http://www.annalowebooks. com/). That is chock full of bonus content such as the “making of” each story and fun extras like puzzles and games. I also have a number of videos that talk about the making of my books. Click to play
I also have a contemporary romance series - the SERENDIPITY ADVENTURE ROMANCE series which are all set in exotic Caribbean locales. I love letting location ignite a passionate romance, whether that’s in Hawaii, Arizona, the Caribbean, or even the South Pacific!
Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? Uncaged: What are some of the benefits of signing up for your newsletter? Do you have an ARC or Street Team? The biggest benefit of signing up for my newsletter is getting all the free stories and bonus scenes I write exclusively for that group. Each of the Aloha Shifters books has a bonus scene which I only send to newsletter subscribers. Those are fun glimpses of each couple living their happily-ever-after once the main action of the story winds down. I also write flash fiction (really short stories or episodes) about my favorite characters from time to time. Newsletter subscribers also get three free books (Desert Wolf, Perfection, and Off the Charts), and they’re always the first to hear about great deals and sales. I offer some books at a special pre-order discount that I only share with newsletter subscribers. And finally, I have a lot of contests that are only open to subscribers. Fans have won sweatshirts, mugs, signed copies of my books, and more. 44 | UncagedBooks.com
I usually read paranormal romance and whatever YA books my kids giggle over and show me (right now, that’s Terry Pratchett). I love series that follow a community or a family, which is why I always write about tightly knit groups. I just love getting to know the people and the special place they live in. What’s really important to me is good writing and a strong sense of location that stimulates my senses and carries me away from my every day world. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I used to be a competitive athlete, and I still like to keep fit, mostly through swimming, biking, and hiking. I love board games and watching movies on the weekends with my family. Uncaged: Have you attended any conventions or meet and greets with readers? How do you feel about the
| ANNA LOWE | online release parties that seem to gaining momentum? I haven’t been able to attend any conventions - yet! I personally don’t do online release parties any more but I really did enjoy the interaction with fans in the couple that I did. Now I continue that interaction on my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AnnaLoweBooks/) any time, not just at release times. I like to post teasers and ask/answer questions. Sometimes I have polls when I’m on the fence between two ideas. I recently had a pet audition where people could write about their pets, some of which will feature in a scene in Aloha Shifters, Book 5! That was really fun. I think a lot of my readers could be writers - their stories are so interesting and funny! Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Like I said, I love hearing from fans and chatting about interesting things - not just my books! Facebook is the best place for that (https://www.facebook.com/ AnnaLoweBooks/). Fans should also follow my website since I update the bonus content regularly. I love getting those behind-the-scenes looks into the inspiration for stories or characters! I wish more authors did that, actually. Thanks so much for the interview! It’s been a lot of fun!
Lure of the Dragon (Book One, Aloha Shifters)
Anna Lowe Paranormal Romance Nothing is forbidden to this elite corps of shifter bodyguards and private investigators...except falling in love. Good dragons? Bad dragons? Twenty-four hours ago, private chef Tessa Byrne didn’t know about the terrifying world of shifters. Now she knows too much, like the fact that a ruthless dragon lord is determined to claim her -- forever. Tessa flees to Maui, where sunny skies, swaying palms, and a handsome stranger conspire to play tricks with her heart. Can she truly trust Kai Llewellyn and his band of battle-hardened shapeshifters to save her from a gruesome fate? Don’t trust a human, and never, ever fall in love with one. Those are lessons Kai learned the hard way. But Tessa is different. Her emerald eyes mirror the mysterious pendant she wears, and her flaming red hair makes his heart race. Is his inner dragon just greedy for a new kind of treasure, or is Tessa his destined mate? Excerpt Tessa took two shaky steps toward the ornate gate of the private driveway and stopped. Was she really going to do this? You can trust them, Ella had said. Ella, the neighbor who’d come along at exactly the right moment and saved her life.
Enjoy an excerpt from Lure of the Dragon
Tessa bit her lip. The fabric at the shoulder of her shirt was ripped, and her throat ached from the attack. Her fingers were still shaking, and her mind was haunted by visions of a terrifying beast. How could she trust anyone after what had happened Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | less than twenty-four hours before? You have to trust them. No one else can protect you from that monster. Crickets chirped from the lush foliage, and a bat flew overhead, a splotch of black against the dark night. Tessa shivered in spite of the balmy night, unwilling to trust her own senses. Sure, the sea was whispering over the shore in a reassuring way. And yes, the moon’s rippling reflection over the Pacific should be soothing, like the sweet scent of hibiscus. But even the island paradise of Maui could try to deceive her. Nightmares could break the deepest peace — real-life nightmares she couldn’t block out of her memory no matter how hard she tried. She could still see the glowing eyes of the creature that had attacked her. Mine. You will be mine, his voice boomed in her mind. She drew a deep breath and looked over her shoulder, wishing she hadn’t sent the taxi away. She was alone at night in a remote corner of Maui, far off the beaten track, about to knock on the door of a complete stranger for help. A very rich stranger, she decided, inspecting the gate. There was an elaborate design in the middle, but she couldn’t quite make it out. Something swirly. Toothy. Wait — was that a tail? Shit, was it a dragon, or was she seeing things? She shook the thought away and told herself to think. A gate that massive must protect a hell of an estate — a seaside estate in Maui that had made the taxi driver whistle when she gave the address back at the airport. “Koa Point Estate,” he’d said. “You’ve got the right friends, miss.” Tessa gnawed on her lip. These weren’t friends. They were complete strangers. And anyway, the 46 | UncagedBooks.com
man who’d attacked her in Phoenix was rich, too. Rich didn’t mean trustworthy — or even human. She shook her head and turned back for the road. Who knew what secrets lay behind that gate? It would be safer to head back to Lahaina and find a hotel for the night. After a good night’s sleep, she could— The beams of twin headlights blinded her, and a powerful engine purred into the driveway. Tessa froze as a vintage Jaguar approached then stopped. The driver’s door opened, and a tall man climbed out. His dark hair and bright blue eyes contrasted with the pure white of his dress shirt, open at the neck. Sharp, angled features cast their own subshadows over his face. Tall and imposing, he seemed perfectly at home in the night. Despite the fine cut of his clothes, this man exuded an untamed, animal feel, like a lion or a wolf. A predator just as capable of ripping an enemy limb from limb as he was of protecting the one he loved. A little shiver went down her spine. “Have you decided yet?” His deep voice boomed, making her jump. “Decided what?” she asked, taking another step back. “Whether you’re coming or going.” Coming, part of her brain said. The part that couldn’t help noticing the ripple of muscles under the thin fabric of his shirt. Going, the terrified part of her soul screeched. Go, quick.
Uncaged reviewed this book in a past issue and it received a 5-Star rating. See the Uncaged review for Lure of the Wolf, the second book in the series in our review section.
feature author Award-winning Scottish paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan, resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return. Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling-writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.
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Uncaged welcomes Mary Morgan! Uncaged: Quest of a Warrior, is the first book in a new series, but it also interconnects with another series that you’ve written, The Order of the Dragon Knights. How do you explain these stories to readers? I’ve always been fascinated with Celtic Mythology, in particular, the legends of Ireland. I took one of the legendary invasions of Ireland—the Tuatha dé Danann, or in similar terms, the Fae, and created my own fictional world. In the series, Order of the Dragon Knights, my Scottish highlanders were part human and fae. However, there was also a Fae (Fenian) Warrior in each of the books. In general, these Fae warriors were there as guardians for the heroines, and maintained the balance between the mortal and fae realm. Often times, my Dragon Knights and Fae Warriors butted heads over certain issues. And when a Fae Warrior stepped through the pages of my first book, Dragon Knight’s Sword, I knew their stories would have to be told, and the Legends of the Fenian Warriors began.
Uncaged: How many books are you planning for this series?
Absolutely! They can sign-up on my website. I love making new friends.
Four. Currently, I’m working on the second Fenian Fae Warrior, Rory MacGregor’s story called, Oath of a Warrior.
Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series?
Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all? Yes. I read all my reviews only once. No, they don’t influence my stories. I write from my heart and soul. If the review is positive, I’ve told the tale well, and I’m overjoyed. And if it’s critical, I’ll give it some thought. Yet, I don’t dwell on the negative for very long. Uncaged: What is the inspiration for your books? My travels to Scotland and Ireland. Each time I visit these mystical places, a piece of my soul remains. In addition, I’ve always had a love affair with Irish and Scottish mythology. I blame it on my own bloodline—a yearning to return to the land of my ancestors. Uncaged: Do you have a newsletter that readers can sign up for to learn of anything new?
Historical fiction and non-fiction. I fell in love with this genre while reading “Hawaii” by James Michener as a young teen. Other favorite authors are, Morgan Llywelyn, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Diana Gabaldon. And yes, I enjoy reading books in a series. I love re-visiting favorite characters in future books. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? After a long day of being in my writer’s cave, I enjoy cooking and baking. I’m usually very chatty, too. Just ask my husband. :) Other interests include gardening, yoga, and reading. Uncaged: Are you attending any signings or conventions to meet readers in the near future? Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Yes. I’m attending the 152nd Scottish Highland Gathering and Games at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, California on Labor Day Weekend (September 2 - 3, 2017). You can find me all weekend at the Scottish Treasures Celtic Corner booth. For more information on the games, visit the website: http://www.thescottishgames.com/ Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? My readers are the best in the world! Thank you for embracing my stories and sharing your thoughts. My love for you reaches the stars.
Enjoy an excerpt from Quest of a Warrior Quest of a Warrior Mary Morgan Historical Fantasy Romance “You met them in the Order of the Dragon Knights. Now, journey to the realm of the Fae and witness their legends!” Fenian Warrior, Conn MacRoich has traveled the earth for thousands of years, guarding the realm between mortal and Fae. His deeds are legendary. Yet, one mistake will force him on a journey to fix a broken time-line. However, on Conn’s quest, he must face a human female who will eventually bring this ancient warrior to his knees. When Ivy O’Callaghan inherits her uncle’s estate, she never imagines there will be more secrets to unravel, including the one she hides from the world. With the help of a mysterious stranger, she learns to trust and step out of the shadows. However, nothing prepares Ivy when she learns Conn’s true identity. 50 | UncagedBooks.com
As the loom of fate weaves a thread around the lovers from two different worlds, will the sacrifices they make lead them to love? Or will their secrets destroy and separate them forever? Excerpt Conn fought the bolt of desire spearing a path throughout his body. Her touch spoke volumes—an invitation to taste. Never had he longed to kiss a human like this wee lass. His heart beat loudly, and he found himself unable to move. She was a Goddess of the moonlight. It danced off her face and hair, and he trembled before her. Ivy’s fingers traced down his cheek and across his lips. He was helpless to contain the growl that escaped from his mouth. The rush of passion overtook him, and Conn slammed the door on his mind. Grasping Ivy around the waist, he hoisted her up on top of the bridge. Her lips parted on a sigh, and he lowered his mouth to feast on something he dared not take. The first brush of her soft lips against his own ignited a hunger he could no longer contain. Taking her moan deep into him, Conn glorified in the sensation of her mouth— one filled with a honeyed sweetness. The Fae warrior became just a man for the first time. Something primal burst within him. Emotions he had never felt left him dizzy, spiraling to a physical plane. He craved them all. His lips seared a course down her neck, to her throat, and then recaptured the velvet warmth of her mouth. Ivy wrapped her arms around his neck, and he deepened the kiss. When her legs went around his waist, he was the one to moan. His body burned to delve inside her—give her all that he had by spilling his seed deep within her. He wanted to claim her for his own. Show her the moon and the stars with every kiss—every touch.
| MARY MORGAN |
A very magical, epic fantasy – and one I didn’t expect. This book takes you on a magical journey, of a woman who inherits land, a bookstore and a cottage from a long-lost uncle in Ireland. Within this story is magic, love, romance, secrets and a well written intricate story of both human and the land of the Fae. Speckled with a mystery to unravel and worlds that could only be possible in a fantasy or fairy tale, Ivy O’Callagahn will find her destiny. When the Fenian Warrior Conn MacRoich is sent on a quest, to right a wrong that he committed in the time weaves, his path must cross with Ivy’s, the descendant. But he never counted on her… I had a hard time putting this down once I started it. Over 400 pages felt like 200. The author pulls you in, and you can feel the world evolving around you, and see it in your mind as you read along. A new-to-me author and it feels like I found a new favorite. Reviewed by Cyrene
Don’t miss The Order of the Dragon Knights series
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
feature author Carissa Ann Lynch is the USA Today bestselling and awardwinning author of the Flocksdale Files trilogy, Horror High series, Searching for Sullivan, Shades and Shadows, 13, 13: Déjà vu, Grayson’s Ridge, Shattered Time, Things Only the Darkness Knows, Twisted, Dark Legends, Midnight Moss, and This Is Not About Love. She resides in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with her husband, children, and collection of books. Besides her family, her greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. She’s always loved to read and never considered herself a “writer” until a few years ago when she couldn’t find a book to read and decided to try writing her own story. She’s a selfproclaimed genre hopper, always experimenting with her craft and pushing herself to the limits. With a background in psychology, she’s always been a little obsessed with the darker areas of the mind and social problems.
Uncaged welcomes Carissa Ann Lynch! Uncaged: Midnight Moss is a very twisted story, and it kept me on my toes, I did not expect a few of the twists that the book took. What inspires your stories? I like to write what I like to read—which is a little bit of everything. But I have a special place in my heart for dark, twisty stories about women. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that inspires me when it comes to writing. It’s a combination of: movies, music, books, my psychology background, and my own life experiences/interests. Uncaged: Midnight Moss is the first book in a series, how many are planned for the series? Right now I only have one other book planned: Midnight Magic. However, I’m usually a 3-book kind of girl when it comes to series, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were three by the end of it. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all?
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Okay, when it comes to reviews—I rarely read them anymore. I don’t expect everyone to like my books, so I don’t let negative reviews bother me. But if it’s feedback before the book comes out—from editors, agents, beta-readers—then I take it VERY seriously.
If someone tags me in a review or I happen to see one on social media, I will definitely read it and share it. But for the most part, I don’t let reviews influence my writing. I do appreciate them though. And as a reader, I understand how important they are to other readers when they’re making a decision on whether or not to buy a book. Uncaged: What is your favorite part about being an author? Your least favorite? I love books, in general. My favorite part is turning a simple idea into this awesome book I can hold in my hand. My least favorite part of publishing is the waiting. If you want to be a writer, expect to WAIT and be patient. It takes time to write a book, and then you have rewrites and edits. And then you have to wait for agents and publishers to read it and either accept/reject. I’m a pretty impatient person, in general, but the publishing world has taught me to slow down and get comfortable with waiting. Uncaged: Do you have an ARC team or a newsletter? I have an amazing street team called Flocksdale’s Finest—they share my posts and read my books. They are irreplaceable! I also have a newsletter that I try to send out once or twice per month.
Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? Oh, wow. Too many! Right now I’m actually reading Stephen King’s It, which is a whopping 1154 pages! It’s so good, though. My go-to genre is thriller/mystery/horror, and I prefer female-driven suspense. But, honestly, I’ll read anything. I’m also a huge of fan of the Game of Thrones books, which is very different than what I normally read. Here are some of my current favorite authors: Liane Moriarty, Gillian Flynn, Heather Gudenkauf, and Megan Abbott. I do love when a book is part of a series! I’m a little OCD and I usually have to buy them all right from the start, though. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Oh, this is an easy one: when I’m not writing, I’m reading. And I spend WAY more time reading than writing. Uncaged: Are you attending any signings or conventions to meet readers in the near future? Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I recently attended Naughty in Nola in New Orleans, which was incredible! I don’t have anything else planned yet this year, but I will definitely let my readers know when I do on my author page! Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I just want to say that I appreciate you guys taking a chance on me and reading my books. There is nothing that makes me happier than someone reading my work!
Midnight Moss Midnight Moss Carissa Ann Lynch Paranormal/Fantasy Fresh out of high school and stalling on college, all Dorothea wants is a little freedom. So when she’s offered the opportunity to move into her late grandmother’s house in Black Cat Springs, she simply can’t refuse the deal. Cheap rent and distance from her parents is exactly what she’s always wanted...and a handsome new neighbor seals the deal. But as soon as she moves in, she’s drawn to a mysterious fence in the woods. Despite her better judgement and dark stories beyond, she sneaks inside, learning that some things from her past are better left contained... A twisted town with a mind-boggling past is about to become Dorothea’s future. And one thing is certain--she cannot trust her instincts.
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Uncaged Review A very twisted story that starts out normal enough, with Dorothea moving out of her mother’s home, into her Grandmother’s house that the family inherited. Rent free – seems like a perfect solution for Dorothea who barely makes over the minimum wage. Her first morning in the house, she decides to jog down to the local food mart for some milk – and as she passes buy a fenced off area, she is drawn to a hole in the fence when she sees sparkling water, and her curiosity gets the better of her. There are tales about the small lake, and that there used to be a factory nearby that may have dumped toxic waste into the water… but those are just stories, right? Good twists and turns, a mystery to solve and secrets to unveil, and a romance that enhances the story rather than distracting. This book is not overly long, so it keeps a good pace. New adult OK. Reviewed by Cyrene
Short story Danger - Road closed Ahead, PT 3-A by JB. Woods
| SHORT STORY |
This short story will be brought to you differently than in the past. Each month you will receive a chapter, so come back each month to read the full story.
Danger - Road closed Ahead pt 3-A JB. Woods Hunter slid the zip back to its fullest extent and said, ‘Anna, if you’re buzzing off, what do we do with these clothes you’ve spent a fortune on?’ ‘You take them with you for the next Mrs Hunter. Here’s the receipts. That’s how I built my wardrobe.’ ‘Do you always change over at the Blaue Engel?’ ‘Yes. It’s an echtes German restaurant and you’ll enjoy the food.’ ‘How many times have you done this?’ ‘I’m not telling you but you are the first one I’ve slept with and if you’re good, very, very good—The last.’ He smiled and pretended to look for something in the holdall. They replaced a couple of the pillows with Anna’s new outfits and left the Hotel at eleven a.m. and drove to Checkpoint Charlie full of apprehension of what might await them. — The crossing into the East Zone went too smoothly for his liking. The Border guards raised an eyebrow at the boot stuffed to capacity but made no effort to check it other than peering in. Hunter was suspicious. Previous cars had taken a lot longer to pass through. He didn’t complain and drove with studied legality North-east to the suburb of Weissensee and found the Café-Restaurant Blaue Engel on the side of the lake with parking at the rear. Sitting in the car outside holding hands they said their farewells. Anna whispered, ‘Take care, Hunter, I’ll be waiting for you at the house.’ 58 | UncagedBooks.com
‘You likewise, Anna. Keep your fingers crossed and pray. This is new territory for me and from here on in I’m playing this by ear and probably taking the long way home. Goodbye.’ They kissed long and hard before they went in. — While they removed their coats Anna whispered, ‘Hunter!, Something’s wrong. This place is usually busy.’ Before they could move a waiter came over and showed them to a table on the far side of the room. Hunter declined and despite protests, being lefthanded he chose a table near the kitchen where he was covered by a right-hand wall and he could also observe and have a pick of the exits while Anna could watch the narrow space behind him. Thinking it wise to allay fears that they were suspicious in any way they ordered, but only a light bite, ochsenschwanzsuppe and coffee. Halfway through their soup the hairs on Hunter’s neck bristled. The staff had disappeared and he was aware of activity in the street. He grabbed Anna’s hand and shouted, ‘Come on! We’re leaving.’ ‘Hunter!’ ‘No buts. Come on, through the kitchen. I knew there was something wrong with this.’ With Hunter in the lead they crashed through the swing doors and bumped into the curious staff. By the main cooking range a foolhardy chef picked up a ladle and menaced Hunter who seized a rolling pin and rammed it end on into the chef’s throat. Hurriedly they stepped over the writhing cook and burst out through the back door into the car park and he muttered a quiet prayer in thanks for his early anticipation of trouble. Whoever was out to get them hadn’t got around to covering the rear of the premises and they were able to make the car without difficulty. ‘Dig out those guns, Anna, and hang on.’ He started the engine and gunned the car towards the entrance. Anna opened the glove box and ripped the lining out at the top and removed two VP70’s and four magazines and then pulled down on a catch under her seat and retrieved two holsters. A shoulder holster for Hunter and a belt for her. ‘Shit!’ Alerted that they were making their escape a Police car began reversing across the entrance. Hunter swung the wheel and glanced the Cortina off the rear of the vehicle and with tyres screeching gunned it
down Park Strasse. At the junction with Busch Allee he jumped the lights, turned left across the traffic to work his way South East towards the Frankfurt-amOder highway via Markische Allee and Landsberger Allee. The Polizei Skodas were no match for the Ford engine and by the time they had reached the main highway they had put enough distance between them and the chasing bunch to be momentarily out of sight. Choosing his moment he picked a gap in the central reservation and did a handbrake turn through onto the other lane narrowly missing oncoming cars. He moved across into the nearside lane and slowed to the flow of the traffic. ‘Keep your fingers crossed, Anna,’ he uttered, ‘I want them to think we’re heading towards Checkpoint Charlie.’ They held their breath as two Skodas with sirens blaring went past in the other direction and kept going. Once clear of the immediate area he turned right and then did a series of left turns and pulled into a Gasthof and parked immediately before the junction with the main Frankfurt carriageway. ‘Time for a drink,’ he said. ‘We’ll waste a couple of hours and then drive onto Frankfurt during the rush hour. It’s a pity we can’t do anything about that front wing although it should look at home amongst the Trabbies and run down wrecks I’ve seen.’ They hid the pistols, one in a holdall and the other in Anna’s handbag but inside the Gasthof he pretended to use the toilet where he fitted the shoulder holster and extracted his combat stiletto from under the hard bottom of the holdall and clipped it onto his right forearm while Anna ordered bier, bratwurst mit brochen und salat. When he considered the time was right they bought some frigadelle, two Wiener schnitzel and two bottles of water. As an afterthought he added a couple of bottles of Schnapps. ‘What are they for, Hunter?’ He tapped the side of his nose and said, ‘Bribes, the same as the whisky. Remember, it’s Plan ‘B’, Anna, we’re going home the long way.’ ‘Do you think that’s wise?’ ‘We have no option. They’re onto us. Let’s go.’ At the junction with the main road there was a garage and they filled the tank which Hunter estimated would give them four-hundred or more kilometres if they didn’t have to hurry and with a careful look around they edged into the rush hour throng heading out of town. They made steady progress and had an anxious
| JB. WOODS | moment when a couple of curious Volks Polizei in a shabby Trabant eyed them with obvious hostility. The traffic thinned as they left the outer suburbs and a few kilometres into clear countryside Hunter turned off the main road once more. The shadows were growing longer and he hoped they would distort their profile as they drove between fields and into a wood some distance from the highway. He walked a hundred metres further up the track and studied the ground. There was no obvious sign of fresh activity and he decided it was safe to stop but he parked between some trees and shrubs just in case. Here they resorted to the back-up plan. He reversed the number plates to reveal a different set which although they were English he hoped they, along with their false documents, would throw anyone off the scent long enough for them to get some distance between them. Next, taking care not to start a forest fire they burned the old car documents and their current passports and visas before studying their new identities. ‘Look at this, Anna. I’m a bus driver on a bus spotting holiday. I suppose there are anoraks who do that sort of thing?’ ‘That’s alright. I’m your long suffering half Polish wife who you met while you were in the Army.’ ‘That could be awkward. If I was in the Army, as I was, they may think I’m a spy.’ ‘Let me do the talking, Hunter. I’ll be your interpreter. Playing dumb should come naturally to a man.’ ‘What are you trying to say?’ Anna grinned. ‘Nothing!’ ‘Watch it. I’ve got feelings.’ It was almost dark and with a rueful look at his watch he added. ‘Dig out the stash of dollars, Anna, put them in your bag and then grab some sleep. I’ll wake you in a couple of hours.’ — Undisturbed Hunter dozed fitfully until a little after two in the morning when he woke Anna and after a quick snack he gingerly drove without lights back to the main road but not before he had placed one of the bottles of whisky on top of their bags in the boot. He waited until the road was clear in both directions before joining and as soon as they had reached the highway speed limit he switched on the headlights and continued towards Frankfurt and the border crossing. As expected, apart from a few heavy goods vehicles there was little traffic. They approached the border post without fuss and Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | sat patiently in the queue before they were waved forward. Obeying the signs Hunter handed both passports and visas to a sleepy Border Guard who disappeared into a hut only to return a few moments later with an Officer. He opened Hunter’s door and enquired why they were travelling at night. Hunter shrugged and Anna explained that they had been told it could take an hour to cross during the day and so they had reluctantly decided to travel at night. He grudgingly accepted their explanation but nevertheless ordered Hunter to open the boot where he went through the motions of searching. Holding up the whisky he said, ‘Was ist?’ Pleading ignorance, Hunter pointed at the bottle and replied, ‘For you,’ and pushed it into the chest of the Officer. ‘Ist verboten.’ ‘Yah, okay. No problem.’ Protocol was forgotten and he slipped the bottle into his uniform, spoke a few words to the Guard who returned their passports and paperwork and waved them through. Hunter thanked them profusely in deliberate broken German and drove sedately down to the Polish Station where he unloaded a bottle of Vodka. They exchanged some of their dollars for zloty and hurriedly disappeared into the night in the direction of Poznan. It didn’t take him long to discover the hazards of driving in Poland as the highway soon gave way to a narrow ‘B’ road with an earthen track on either side supposedly for tractors. They were soon engaged looking out for the next pothole and in places especially through villages the tarmac turned to rough cobbles which meant that speed limits were superfluous. Dawn was breaking when on a whim he suddenly turned south. A puzzled, Anna enquired, ‘I thought we’d decided on Poznan.’ ‘I dunno, lass, just a feeling. I’m doing a detour around Swiebodzin. We’re still going south.’ They spent a tortuous hour driving down little more than farm tracks first right and then left and up a few dead ends before the found the road to Sulechow. They had only travelled a short distance when Anna said, ‘Hunter, I want a pee.’ He drove through the next village and turned into some woodland and parked fifty metres off the 60 | UncagedBooks.com
road. ‘Before you go, Anna, dig out one of those Schnitzel, I’m starving.’ ‘You’re always starving, Hunter. It’s one thing I’ve noticed about you.’ ‘You sound just like me Mam,’ he said. ‘She always complained she couldn’t feed me.’ ‘I’m glad I wasn’t your mother.’ By the time Anna had finished her ablutions he was fast asleep the half eaten schnitzel lying in his lap. She watched him for a few moments quietly pleased to be in the care of this unflappable man. She settled herself in the passenger seat and re-wrapped the uneaten part of his snack before she too stretched out and closed her eyes. They were disturbed by an urgent tapping on the side window and awoke to find a bearded Polish peasant gesturing wildly and pointing to a battered two wheeled tractor and trailer. Hunter wound his window down and choked on a mixture of garlic and stale tobacco. ‘Chcialbym aby go do pracy. Sen gdzieś indziej!’ Before he could answer Anna responded with equal vigour and told the intruder in no uncertain terms that they would sleep where they wanted and to remove his foul smelling breath and if he waited a minute they would move. Surprised by rhetoric in his own language the farmer stepped back muttering to himself. Hunter rubbed sleep from his eyes and with little difficulty manoeuvred over enough to allow the farmer through. In a cloud of one-cylinder oily two-stroke smoke he waved his fist and chugged deeper into the forest. They looked at each other and burst out laughing. ‘I’ve been woken up by many things,’ said Hunter, ‘but he takes the prize and where did you learn to speak like that?’ ‘I’m half Polish. My Dad was in the RAF during the war and settled in England. He taught me. I thought you knew that?’ ‘I knew the half Polish bit but I never imagined you could speak it.’ ‘I do Russian too.’ ‘And German. Is there no end to your talents?’ She punched him on the shoulder in mock anger and laughed. ‘Many things some of which you already know.’ He looked at her and smiled. ‘Give us a kiss, you?’ They kissed and only pulled apart when they were disturbed by the blaring sirens of a Police car as it
passed by the end of the track. ‘Jesus! I wonder who the hell they’re after? I hope it’s not us.’ ‘Relax, Hunter, I don’t think so. We’ve done nothing wrong in Poland and I don’t think they work too closely with their supposed Allies.’ ‘You’re probably right but I wonder how much sway the Ruski’s have in this country?’ ‘I don’t think there is any love lost between them. They may be in the Communist Bloc but the Poles still have a grievance about the Russian land grab after the War.’ ‘Okay, we’ll give them ten minutes and then look for somewhere to freshen up.’ Impatiently Hunter stomped around occasionally kicking a tyre and when only five minutes had passed, he said, ‘Come on, Anna, we’ve waited long enough. Let’s go!’ Anna shrugged, climbed in and sat silently while he drove slowly to the main road and carefully looked both ways before continuing their journey south. On the outskirts of the next village they came upon a typical Polish wayside Inn. It was a wooden building surrounded with rusting farming implements and old crashed cars. They enjoyed a rough strong coffee before they each in turn used the primitive toilet to wash and make a change of clothes and pleading hunger after travelling all night the landlord heated up a tureen of Bigos, a thick meat and cabbage stew. He placed two steaming bowls before them with a large village loaf and urged them to finish and help themselves to more. After their third bowl they threw their arms up and begged to stop and while the inn-keeper was in a jovial mood Hunter urged Anna to enquire about the Police car. ‘To, co uczynił tego samochodu Policji chcą?’ ‘WYGLĄDAJĄ dla turystów i powiedzieliśmy je, no. Państwo nie miał wówczas przybyła.’ ‘He said they were looking for tourists but we hadn’t arrived by then so he told them he had seen nothing.’ Anna and the landlord gabbled on for a little longer and they parted cordially with a package of Goląbki to help them on their way. Hunter couldn’t contain himself and as soon as they were out of site of the waving inn-keeper and his wife, he said, ‘And what was that all about?’ ‘Nothing really. He just said he wouldn’t help the
| JB. WOODS | Police whatever the price and asked what we’d done.’ ‘And?’ ‘I told him we’d had an accident and after an argument we had driven off and that was why the wing was damaged.’ ‘And?’ ‘I’m won’t repeat what he said but he was sympathetic and didn’t have a good word for Polish drivers on top of which he told us to be careful. Nice guy, but I bet he’s on the phone right now to the authorities.’ ‘You really think so?’ ‘It’s more than his life’s worth not to. If it ever came out that we had stopped there and he hadn’t told them he would spend the rest of his life in a Gulag. They don’t like the Police or State. It’s the fear factor.’ ‘Shit! We’d better ditch this car a.s.a.p.’ Traffic had built up on the roads and during their conversation they had to make many excursions onto the rutted soil strip to avoid oncoming Polish vehicles and he became aware of the flashing headlights as they passed. He was not sure why but in the back of his mind something niggled. ‘Bugger!’ He pulled over and searched frantically for the road map. ‘What is it, Hunter?’ ‘Those flashing lights. They’re warning us there’s Police ahead.’ ‘Oh, that. I thought they were just being friendly.’ He was about to comment on women drivers but thought better of it. Instead, he said, ‘I’m not sure where we are.’ He poked his finger on the map, ‘I think we’re close to this town here. We’ll take the next left and if we do a lot of rights after that hopefully we’ll get around it.’ He gave her the map. ‘Here take this and see if you can recognise any landmarks.’ He pulled into the traffic behind a small lorry loaded with hay and stayed behind it for the next kilometre before he found the turning he was looking for. ‘That town, Anna. Have you found it?’ ‘Yes, the last sign post says it’s the one you said it was. Take the second right about two K’s down here.’ A hundred metres off the main road the side road deteriorated into a cobbled track no wider than the car with the usual mud borders for passing. Speed was out of the question and cursing under his breath Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | they drove at a desultory thirty miles an hour conditions permitting. Things got gradually worse. They ignored the first two lanes to the right but after searching backwards and forwards for half an hour Hunter chanced his arm down what was marked as the second right on the map. It was a mud road with occasional stretches of hardcore which because of the predominately dry weather was a series of corrugated humps. After ten minutes of tortuous driving he remembered the technique used by the Army drivers on the laterite roads in Thailand and he increased their speed to forty miles per hour and although it rattled their teeth it was a smoother vibratory ride. At every opportunity Anna studied the map and between gaps in the many wooded areas she spotted over his right shoulder a run down Church in the distance. ‘We’re almost passed the village, Hunter. Turn back towards the main road.’ ‘Okay. I shall never knock Fords again if this thing stands up to this. Hold tight here’s a turning.’ He swung the wheel and in a cloud of dust maintained their momentum towards the main road. He stopped short of the junction and walked to the corner. The road was busy but this time he saw that cars going in the opposite direction were flashing their lights. The car was now suitably dirty and he took the opportunity to mix some water with soil and smeared the muddy mixture over the number plates before mingling with the south bound traffic. They had progressed a little way when he realised that the car wasn’t handling correctly and he gently brought it to a halt on the mud strip. His first thought had been spot on and he cursed when he found the offside rear tyre had a puncture. He emptied the boot and picked out the reflective triangle. ‘Anna, lass, put a scarf around your head, look scruffy and take this fifty metres back down the road while I start changing the wheel.’ He watched for a moment as she walked away from him and called out to her. ‘Slouch, Anna. Try and look like a tired peasant on a day out.’ He heard her laugh and she drooped her shoulders and began to trudge while he propped one of their bags in front of the number plate and proceeded to jack up the vehicle. Anna returned and sat in the car when a few moments later a Police car pulled up behind them. Anna was quick to get out as one of the Policemen walked towards them and she whis62 | UncagedBooks.com
pered to Hunter to stay down and carry on with the wheel change. Hunter loosened his pistol and listened to the conversation between Anna and the policeman and although he couldn’t understand a word he guessed she was putting on a good show. After a few anxious moments the policeman returned to his car and they drove off. Anna came around to Hunter’s side. ‘Well done, lass,’ he said, ‘what did you tell him?’ ‘Nothing really. I just said we were on our way to the next town to buy spares for our tractor and we had this puncture. I felt sure he was going to ask for our papers but he was too interested in flirting. I don’t think the headscarf put him off.’ He tightened the last wheel nut, threw everything back in the boot with the punctured wheel on top and they continued their journey. ‘We’ll stop at the next garage, Anna, and see if we can get that tyre fixed and fill up at the same time. Have we enough zloty? I don’t want to draw attention to ourselves if we can help it.’ ‘I’m sure we have. There is one advantage to a Communist State. The prices are controlled.’ On the outskirts of the next town they came upon a garage with two old fashioned hand operated pumps and a ramshackle shed and although he was dubious about the quality of Polish petrol they filled up and hung around while the tyre was fixed laboriously by hand. It was an ideal opportunity to wander around and Hunter noted with satisfaction a number of wrecked cars dumped at the back of the premises. Anna paid and with the usual vociferous Polish entreaties they drove off but he turned north, back the way they had come. Anna looked puzzled. ‘Why are we going this way?’ ‘We’re going to park in the woods until nightfall. Did you see those wrecked cars around the back?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘I want to steal two sets of number plates.’ ‘Is that wise?’ ‘We’ll soon find out.’ At the next junction they turned off, drove for a kilometre and parked in a small wood. ‘It’s going to be a long day, Anna. There’s no fresh tracks so I think it’s safe enough to go for a walk and then we’ll get our heads down for the rest of the day.’ ‘Yes, sir!’ He looked across at her and laughed before he gave her a quick poke in the ribs, tickled her and leaned
across and kissed her. ‘Stop right there, Hunter, this car’s not big enough.’ ‘He looked around. ‘Ooh… I don’t know.’ ‘Forget it!’ — They waited until a couple of hours after nightfall and without lights crept towards the main highway. The road was clear and he switched on the lights and drove the short distance back to the garage. It was in darkness and a hundred metres short he cut the lights and coasted up to the entrance and parked on the mud strip at the edge of the road. ‘Wait here, Anna. Get in the driver’s seat and be ready in case we have to leave in a hurry.’ Before she could answer he disappeared into the darkness. He removed the front plate from one wreck with his multi-purpose knife but the rear plate proved more difficult. The screws came out but the plate remained stubbornly stuck to the car. ‘Shit,’ he muttered under his breath. He was just about to give up and move on to the next vehicle when with a final tug it jerked loose. He staggered back and his elbow connected with the wreck behind him. The muscle numbing shock loosened his grip and the plate clattered to the floor. The noise finally stirred the family dog into life and with a latent burst of energy it barked unceasingly in frustration. Hunter made to run back to the car when suddenly the lights went on in the kitchen and the proprietor burst out of the back door waving a shotgun and at the same time restraining a salivating German Shepherd dog. ‘Który udaje tam. Stop, lub i pędów.’ He didn’t wait for a reply and not knowing who or what was out there aimed randomly and pulled the trigger. Hunter instinctively ducked and cursed when a wayward pellet scratched his cheek. Before he could react the landlord released the dog which hurtled towards him with teeth bared. It was about to pounce when a single shot rang out and with a whimper the dog died in its tracks. Anna holding her pistol in two hands at the ready stepped into the circle of light around the doorway and in a voice which demanded obedience said, ‘Put down your gun and you won’t get hurt.’ The proprietor made to raise his gun once more. ‘NOW,’ she yelled. He dithered for a moment before he let the gun drop.
| JB. WOODS | ‘Anna,’ Hunter shouted, ‘offer him fifty dollars for these plates but he mustn’t tell anyone.’ She spoke quietly to the proprietor. ‘We want two sets of old number plates. We pay you fifty dollars but if you tell anyone we come back and kill you.’ ‘What about my dog?’ ‘Okay, we give you one-hundred dollars.’ ‘Yes, okay. I take it, but if you want numbers so bad why did you not ask this morning?’ ‘Hunter! Get one-hundred dollars from the car and give it to him.’ ‘One-hundred. What are we buying, the bloody garage?’ Reaching into the glove compartment for the money he gave it to Anna and said, ‘Ask him how far to Poznan.’ Anna looked at him quizzically but did as she was asked and while she did this he finished collecting the number plates and stored them in the boot and after a few moments conversation and some crawling apologies they got back in their car and following the instructions they were given did a U-turn and disappeared into the night. They hadn’t gone far when he turned the car around and they waited fifteen minutes during which time he fitted the first set of bogus number plates before continuing on their journey south towards ZielonaGora taking great care as they crept past the garage. They drove steadily through the night and after a few missed turnings they eventually reached the town of Legnica. ‘We’ll stay here today, Anna, look out for a nice boarding house.’ They mingled with the early morning traffic until they came to a crossroads where they were kept waiting in a queue. Hunter became restless after ten minutes and began looking around for a way out when he heard in the distance the distinctive twotone sirens of Police vehicles. With nerves jangling they sat patiently as the noise got nearer. Two military lorries pulled up and the junction filled with Russian soldiers who began clearing the centre of the road. With much cursing the cars, trucks and farm vehicles struggled to get out of the way. Their car was poking out slightly when some Poles came across and with much shouting and gesticulating pushed the car further off the road scratching another in the process. Anna leaned out of the window and remonstrated with them and after a few moments wrangling she Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | ducked back in and said to Hunter. ‘Don’t worry about the bump. If we’d stayed where we were we would have no car.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Something to do with a convoy.’ Hunter shook his head in dismay. ‘What have we got ourselves into, Anna.’ ‘I don’t know, but I fancy this town is not the right place to stay.’ The rumble they felt through the floor changed to a roar and a rhythmic clatter that Hunter recognised. ‘Tanks!’ With sirens blaring two Police motor cyclists swept by followed by a convoy of Russian T72 tanks and he realised why the Poles had panicked to get them out of the way as one unfortunate Trabant was immediately crushed to pulp by the lead tank. ‘Jesus Christ, Anna! They’re bloody Russians.’ ‘You can say that again, Hunter. It’s the first time I’ve been down this way but it looks like we’ve landed in a Russian enclave or their Headquarters at least.’ He grabbed the crude road map and studied it. ‘Right, Anna, girl. As soon as we get moving we turn right at the junction and head out of town. It looks like we’re sleeping in the car again, lass.’ ‘Any idea where we’re going?’ ‘Nope. Anywhere but here will do.’ For twenty minutes tank after tank rolled by followed by supporting vehicles and Infantry but eventually calm was restored and with good humour and some excited cursing of Russians in general they were once more on the move. Sticking to Hunter’s plan they turned right and kept going until they were outside the city limits where they studied the map once more. Twenty kilometres ahead was the small town of Chojnow which they entered with caution twenty-five minutes later. In contrast to Legnica they discovered a quiet organised community. They chose the first guest house they came across and parked the car at the rear and after a light breakfast they tumbled into bed.
Watch for Chapter 3-B in November 64 | UncagedBooks.com
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IndieReaders.com Best Selling Fiction 1. What Do You Do With A Problem? by Kobi Yamada 2. The Soul Mate by Kendall Ryan 3. Shelter For Sophie by Susan Stoker 4. The Scotch King by Penelope Sky 5. Thousands by Pepper Winters 6. Swept Into Love: Gage Ryder by Melissa Foster 7. Royally Endowed by Emma Chase 8. To Love A Reckless Lord by Collette 9. Cameron 10. Creatures by Various 11. Wild Card by Karina Halle
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feature author Ginger Ring is a Midwestern girl with a weakness for cheese, dark chocolate, and the Green Bay Packers. She writes contemporary and historical romantic suspense. Her heroines are classy, sassy and in search of love and adventure. When Ginger isn’t tracking down old gangster haunts or stopping at historical landmarks, you can find her on the backwaters of the Mississippi River fishing with her husband. Please welcome Ginger Ring to Uncaged!
gingerring.com 70 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged: The Genoa Mafia Series – can you explain what these books are about to readers? What inspired you to write mafia romance? I was asked to write a short story for an anthology called Men of Mayhem which was a collection of Mafia romances. I did a story called Madison’s Mobster, about a small town girl that bumps into a big city Mobster. She doesn’t want anything to do with him but sometimes you just can’t help who you fall in love with. Even though Madison finds Roman fascinating, she doesn’t want to get involved with him. I continued their story in Crossing Roman. There’s a new threat to her town and it seems like Roman might be the only one that can help. I’ve added more characters and am currently working on the next story which will focus on Roman’s sister Valentina. There are so many genres of romance right now, you can write about anything. Everyone has their favorites whether it is MC, cowboy, etc. I’ve enjoyed reading mafia/suspense type stories for some time so it was a great chance to see if I could write one myself. Making bad guys human and worth loving is a challenge and a
fun aspect when writing the story. Uncaged: The setting for this series is a fictional town called Genoa. Living very close to a Genoa City, WI myself, is the setting in the books inspired by that town? It is actually inspired by the town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It’s a beautiful tourist town with a lake. It has a history with some former gangsters that I will probably add into future stories. I changed the name of the town because I didn’t think they would want their beautiful tourist town linked to organized crime. Lol Uncaged: I have to bring up Wild Deadwood Reads, a convention in South Dakota that you are a huge part of. Can you tell us about this convention? Yes, thanks for asking. I was at an event a few years ago sitting around with some readers and other authors. We were chatting about how we love going to events but also felt a little guilty about the time spent away from family and the money that we spent at these events that could have been used for family vacations. So we got the idea of having a destination event. A place to bring
the whole family and spend time having adventures with fellow book lovers. At our last event in June, people brought their kids, their parents, some brought campers and camped, rode horses, etc. It was great fun. Deadwood is one of my favorite towns to visit. There is something for everyone to do. In addition to the book signing on June 9th, 2018, we also have a Friday bus trip planned. Trip -goers will have a chance to visit a gold mine and pan for gold, visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, and sample wine at a Black Hills winery. We also tie our event in with the PBR Rodeo that is in town that weekend. There will be lots of western romance writers at the event to go to the rodeo with. There will also be opportunities to meet the bull riders and get tours of the rodeo chutes. Uncaged: What is your favorite part about being an author? Your least favorite? Favorite – meeting other authors and readers. Seeing my books in print and helping with the design and concepts of my covers. Least – Promoting. I am very shy so I have a hard time getting out there and blowing my own horn, so to speak. Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged:Do you have an ARC team or a newsletter? Not yet. Note above comment about shyness. Lol Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? I love reading western, mafia, and romantic suspense. I have too many favorite authors to pick but the newest one that I have been reading is A. Zavarelli. I have a love/hate relationship with the series. I like to see where the characters go but sometimes book series get too long. I guess I like trilogies. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I love to read, travel, and eat. Lol Uncaged: Besides the Wild Deadwood Reads, have you been at any other signings or conventions? Yes, I have been to some in Vegas and local ones here in the Midwest but one of my favorites is the Writer’s Police Academy held in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It’s a chance for writers to experience what it is like to be in law enforcement. The activities have included driving police cars, shooting guns, and learning interrogation techniques. I come home with lots of great information to make my stores more detailed, and hopefully, as accurate as can be. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I just want to say hi and I hope to meet you all someday. Also please check out my books! I write small town romance with big time love! I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I did creating them. 72 | UncagedBooks.com
Enjoy an excerpt from Crossing Roman Crossing Roman Ginger Ring Mafia Romance/Suspense Madison Miller is a small town girl with big dreams, but years of running her mother’s bridal business has put a damper on that… Madison is weary of planning other people’s dream weddings and ready to find a man of her own—when a sudden encounter with a handsome visitor leaves her world spinning. He’s all she can think about, but the son of a mafia boss is not the kind of man she’d had in mind. She wonders how being involved with him might impact her life—and the lives of those she cares about. Roman Caponelli is looking to expand his family’s business on the legitimate side—not the mafia side— and perhaps find a little romance… Roman is captivated with Madison, but this local beauty wants nothing to do with a criminal like him. Madison said no to him once, and come hell or high water she won’t deny him again—and if he has to use mob tactics to make that happen, so be it. Roman sets out, determined to win the only woman who has kept his interest for more than one night. Madison is everything he wants in a woman, and he will stop at nothing… Not until the entire town knows that Crossing Roman is not an option. Excerpt Madison wearing nothing but a towel was not what he’d been expecting to find when he walked through the door of her house and barged into her bathroom. Her thick hair had been up in the back.
Loose curly strands gently framed her face. A girly fragrance floated in the air. Her golden skin was still damp from her bath and dewy drops of water streamed down in areas not yet touched by the towel she gripped tightly. So tight, in fact, that her breasts threatened to spill over the top. He knew she had long legs but never dreamed they would be this shapely. Even her toes were sexy, red polish dotting the ends. Growing aroused, he knew he needed to leave, now. Arlo was supposed to have had her packed, ready to go, and out of here. Instead he decided to pack her things first. Give her time to finish her bath, Arlo had explained, trying to ease the tension. He knew Roman would be pissed as shit when he had to come out here. Hell, he didn’t have time for this. She was a distraction and one he couldn’t afford. He was going to keep her safe and find out who was behind the destruction of her shop. Or the bigger picture in the scheme of things, find out who might be moving into their territory. Roman wanted her, needed her, but it was not the time for that. Things had been so much simpler when they first met last fall. It was important to keep his head in the game. Making her his own would have to wait. “Get dressed now.” It was best to remain angry at her right now, but desire and possession overtook him. He wanted her and damn everything else to hell. His fingers itched to rip the towel from her body. Roman had to get out of here before he took her slippery and wet up against the bathroom wall. That was definitely not how he wanted their first time together to be. “Don’t order me around. Get out of my house.” Her deep blue eyes were wide and her cheeks pink and flushed. He secretly hoped it was because of him and not her recent soak in the tub. “You’re coming with me.” He stepped out of the bathroom to address Arlo and gain relief from the tightening in his pants. “Do you have her things packed yet?” he barked. Arlo stood perplexed in front of her closet, a sweater in one hand and a pair of sweatpants in the other. If Roman wasn’t in such a hurry, the sight of Arlo trying to figure out what to put in her suitcase would
| GINGER RING | have had him bent over in laughter, but this was serious and knowing Madison was only in a towel in the next room made him hot all over again. “Uh, it might be best if she picked out her own stuff.” His best friend had never looked so stressed. Poking his head back into the bathroom, he narrowly missed being beamed by a roll of toilet paper. Madison still hadn’t moved. “That’s all you’ve got, sweetheart?” He smirked and leaned against the broken door frame. “Get out.” She screamed and whipped a jar of lotion at his head. This time, he wasn’t as fast. The container cracked him right on the bone below his eye. That would surely leave a mark. He raised his fingers to his now throbbing cheek. Damn, that hurt. Roman exhaled, feeling his cheekbone throb and counted to ten in his head. Wandering back in her bedroom, he spied a robe on the bed. Determined, he grabbed the robe and headed to the bathroom for the last time. “You have two choices. Either put on this robe or keep the towel. One way of the other, you are leaving with me in ten seconds.” His eyes narrowed. “You decide.” Madison stepped closer, reaching cautiously for the robe. Finally, he breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly, everything went black. What the hell? Roman was blinded by soft fleece and small hands thrust at his chest. Madison had thrown the robe over his head and pushed. His shoes slipped on the water soaked floor and he fell back against the tub just narrowly missing landing in the water. “Son of a…” He cursed, flinging the robe from his head. “Arlo, grab her.” Roman’s voice was at an ominous low. Regaining his feet, Roman rushed after her. Arlo had her by the arm, stopping her. There was no escape now. “Put her things in the car. We’ll be right out,” Roman snapped. Arlo, happy to get the hell out of there, released her, grabbed her haphazardly filled bags, and left Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | the room in a hurry. Madison stood proudly before Roman, smug and defiant. She wasn’t giving an inch, and he couldn’t help but admire her will. He held the robe out one last time. “Like I said, we are leaving, so wear this or go naked. I don’t care.” In a stunning display of defiance, the beautiful woman in front of him narrowed her eyes. Dramatically, she dropped the towel. His heart stopped and the front of his pants constricted again. She snatched the forgotten garment from his hands and quickly donned the robe. With a determined glare on her face, she stomped her foot then folded her arms across her chest. “I’m not going anywhere. This is my home. I’ve been bullied enough for one day.” Roman chuckled and wished she kept the robe off. In a swoop, he bent down and tossed her over his shoulder, fireman style. Madison squealed and kicked with her feet. “You can have your way some other day, but right now, like it or not, you’re coming with me.” “Put me down,” Madison screamed. “Not today, sweetheart.” “This is kidnapping,” she cried. “You’re no better than Diego. I thought you were different.” That comment cut like a knife to his heart. They were nothing alike. Diego was a vicious abuser of women. Roman stopped at the front door and set her on her feet. He kept both hands on her forearms to keep her immobile. “You’re coming with me. Now, you can either have your neighbors see you be carried out over my shoulder or you can come willingly.” She opened her mouth but he stopped her with a gentle tap to her lips with his finger. “I’m trying to protect you. The person who trashed your business and threatened you may come after you again. This is for your own good.” Her eyes misted and his heart ached to pull her into his arms and promise that everything would be okay. “Are you willing to take that chance?” Madison wiped her eye with the back of her hand. “What’s it going to be?” He had her backed into a 74 | UncagedBooks.com
corner figuratively. Madison looked torn. She stomped over to the closet and flung open the door. She mumbled under her breath, but he couldn’t make out what was uttered. As she threw on a coat and slipped on a pair of Uggs, he thought he made out a word or two, bastard, asshole. He’d been called worse, but hearing it from Madison’s pretty bowed lips stung like hell.
Uncaged Review Who knew you could have so much fun reading a mafia romance? And in Wisconsin to boot? Close to where I actually live? HA. The author took the real town of Lake Geneva for inspiration, and named it Genoa, funny enough there is a Genoa City also, just south of Lake Geneva. And did I mention both are within about 15 miles from me? So not only did the setting hook me, but the book is a great story that takes you through all the family dynamics of a mob family, the secrets, the trust issues, the turf wars between them – and still shows the reader that they are still human, even in their brutality. This is Roman and Madison’s story, and the story grabs you right away and holds on, with danger, secrets, intrigue and love. You will cheer this couple on, and the last couple chapters are re-read worthy. Reviewed by Cyrene
Madison’s Mobster Ginger Ring Mafia Romance/Suspense A small town woman who longs for romance… Madison Miller loves what she does. She takes pride in helping brides find the gowns they’ll walk down the aisle in. But she still longs to hear wedding bells of her own and discovers that her dream of finding a husband is
| GINGER RING | souring her work. She’s about to give up her fantasy of marriage when she bumps into a handsome stranger… literally. A big city man who lives by the gun… Roman Caponelli is seeking a quiet life in a quiet town and sees Lake Genoa, Wisconsin as the perfect place. His ties to the mob make it difficult for him to be a normal man, but he wants to give it a shot when a woman named Madison walks into his life. She’s beautiful, driven, and challenges him unlike any other woman he knew back in Chicago, tempting him to leave his old self behind for good. But as any mobster knows, once you’re in the family, you’re in the family for life…or death. A mystery that can bring them together, or tear them apart… Their budding romance becomes complicated when they learn they both have ties to a missing woman. Madison knows her as a bride who called off her wedding when her fiancé beat her, but she’s also the daughter of one of Roman’s friends, making finding this woman top priority. Will they be able to find her before it’s too late, or will the sparks between them ignite an entire town, burning them both in the process? Sometimes doing what you want is worth the guilt.
Uncaged Review A very short intro to the Genoa Mafia series, and it gives you a crash course on the characters you will meet. Roman is an underboss for a mob family, moving from Chicago to the quiet small town of Genoa, Wisconsin. When he meets Madison, who runs the local bridal shop for her mother at the snowflake dance, he is so entranced with her, that he believes he can make it work. I’m not giving any more away about this, but in a short 35 pages, you are already smitten with Roman, tossed into danger and see a small taste of the seedier side of mafia life. A great intro to the series and good thing the first main book was out and I could head straight to it. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Darlene Kuncytes was a Feature Author in the first issue of Uncaged Book Reviews, August 2016. We catch up with her this month to see what she’s been up to since we last chatted. Uncaged:You were a Featured Author in the very first Uncaged Book Reviews in August 2016. How was your experience being in the magazine? It was amazing! SO well done! Uncaged: Now it’s time to find out, what’s coming up next for you? Do you have a timetable on when will book 4 in The Supernatural Desire series will release? Ugh! I wish! I am working on Harper’s story now, but life just keeps getting in the way! I swear! But, I promise. It will be soon!! Uncaged: You were nominated and won a Runner-up Raven Award for A Vampire’s Saving Embrace. What does it mean to authors to be nominated for awards? There are really no words. Just to be nominated means SO much. It means that my stories are truly touching people, and whether I win or lose, just to have that recognition is priceless. Uncaged: Any fun events that you will be attending coming up in 2017 that you can tell us about? Yes! I will be at the Arch City Author Event in Columbus, Ohio on October 14th. And Glass City Author Signing event in Toldeo, Ohio on October 27th which is an AMAZING event!! It’s wonderful! This is my first time going to Arch City, so I am really excited to meet some new friends! 76 | UncagedBooks.com
Darlene Kuncytes is the best-selling author of The Supernatural Desire series. She was born and raised in Ohio, and still happily resides there. She’s a complete smart ass with a wicked sense of humor who has been told on more than one occasion that she is irritatingly chipper in the mornings. And, honestly-she really couldn’t care less! She is the eternal optimist, and you can usually find her with a coffee mug in hand and a smile on her face ~ causing all kinds of trouble. “A Vampire’s Saving Embrace” is the first novel in The Supernatural Desire Series. Hard core romances with no cliffhangers! Book 2- “A Wolf’s Savage Embrace” ~ Luke and Kat’s story!! Funny, sexy, romantic! They will have you laughing out loud as your toes curl! Sexy fun! Book 3- “Marcus’ Mortal Embrace” ~ Warm, sensitive...touching. The journey continues with this heartstopping read! Darlene is currently at work on Book 4 in the series ~ Harper’ Heavenly Embrace. She has always loved the supernatural with a touch of suspense - not to mention the allure of finding one’s soul mate. In her spare time, she fosters and rescues Puppy-mill survivors. ( And, yes - she has been a foster failure on more than once occasion! But, she refuses to apologize for it! She LOVES her fur-babies more than anything!) The Supernatural Desire Series are stand alone reads that fit together and will have you wanting so much more! It’s time to join the journey of this wonderfully romantic and sexy band of Supernaturals and get your paranormal on!
| DARLENE KUNCYTES |
darlenekuncytes.com Enjoy an excerpt from I’ll Be Seeing You I’ll Be Seeing You Darlene Kuncytes Romantic Suspense Katherine Chastain has been running from her past for ten very long years. She is a woman who has been hiding from the nightmare that stalks her. Desperate and sick of jumping at every shadow, she stumbles into the small town Police Department in yet another town where she lives – desperate for help. Desperate to know that she isn’t insane like everyone seems to believe. She wasn’t prepared for the force of nature that answers her call. Detective Cole McKenzie was the playboy of the precinct. With movie star good looks and a body just made for sin; he never had a cold bed – but when Katherine walks into his office in search of salvation, he is nearly knocked to his knees. There is something about her that he just can’t shake. Her haunted emerald eyes burn him to his very soul, and he finds that he wants nothing more than to help her stop the nightmare that has become her life. Can Cole protect her from someone who is like a phantom? Someone who has been stalking and terrorizing her for most of her life? Can he fight the desire that wells up inside him with just a simple look from this amazing woman? Or will she be his end? Can these two fight the attraction that snaps and
crackles around them as danger lurks in the shadows? Excerpt Katherine Chastain nervously walked through the doors of the police station and took a deep, cleansing breath, trying hard to get her nerves under control as she once again questioned why she was even here to begin with. Maybe this was all just a huge mistake. Maybe she shouldn’t have come. The place was abuzz with the sounds of phones and shouts as she walked through the front doors, and she could feel her hands beginning to tremble as they instantly grew clammy. God, she hated police stations with a passion. They made her nervous. She grunted quietly; who in the hell was she trying to kid…she was absolutely terrified of them. She straightened her spine and willed herself to move, walked over to the middle-aged man sitting at the first desk, and cleared her throat. “Excuse me,” she croaked, closing her eyes a moment as she tried to control the rapid beating of her heart. Damn it! Suck it up, Katherine! You can do this! You have to. You have to at least try! The man glanced up from his computer screen and looked her over, his eyes crinkling slightly in appreciation at what he saw, and she had the insane urge to slap him. She hated being looked at, almost as much as she hated police stations. “Can I help you?” he asked, his voice having that rasp of a long-time smoker. “Yes, I’m looking for a Detective McKenzie.” She tried hard to sound self-assured and strong, but realized with a sinking feeling in her gut that she sounded anything but. She squeezed her eyes shut once again and urged herself to calm down. She wasn’t that frightened little girl anymore. She wasn’t! She could do this–she was stronger than this, damn it! “Mac? Yeah, sure,” he mumbled, quickly eyeing her up and down again before pointing toward a hallway to her left, his mouth turned up in an Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| CATCH UP | amused smirk that made her feel as if she were missing some private little joke. And for some reason, it made her feel dirty. “Right down the hall there, last door on the right.” “Thank you.” Katherine squared her shoulders and forced her feet to move, silently praying that she could keep her knees from shaking; or worse, giving out on her as they seemed to so want to do. She didn’t like crowds, and the activity going on around her was unsettling. She caught the interested glances of some of the men mulling about as she walked past, and fought hard to keep her breathing even. God, she hated to be gawked at. It made her physically ill. She tapped on the door with Sr. Detective McKenzie stenciled on it, and heard a gruff enter being called out. Okay, Katherine…this is it. Time to man up. You can do this! Katherine wasn’t prepared for the man sitting
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behind the desk. He looked up and she stopped dead in her tracks; the deep blue of his eyes nailing her to the spot as if her feet were suddenly glued there. His hair was such a dark brown that it appeared almost black, and just touched the collar of the white dress shirt that he wore. His broad shoulders and muscular arms were intimidating to say the least. The man was a solid wall of muscle and raw masculinity. His strong jaw and full lips were what dreams were made of. Oh, God. This was a mistake!
Robert Childress Understanding the Struggle Understanding the Struggle Robert Childress Religion
The struggle between the flesh and spirit of the best Christian is very real. I, myself struggled for years in my Christian life trying to find peace with God and through the struggles I have devoted myself to put in print those studies to find I can rest in the arms of Christ Jesus my Lord and its to Him alone I give glory and honor. God Bless. This book offers a pace of hope and rest to the struggling soul not a comfort zone to willfully sin. And it is my prayer that the reader will be inspired, encourage and challenged to find rest in Christ Jesus for eternality.
bookventure.com US Review of Books “…most religious groups today…are trying to improve the natural man and do not yet understand that the natural man has not been redeemed…” The struggle Childress addresses in his book is between two warriors―the natural man and the redeemed nature―within a born-again Christian. The author experi80 | UncagedBooks.com
enced this first-hand and also witnessed others struggle with this during his 40 years of serving as a church pastor. His book provides words of encouragement, promise, and protection. This struggle began in the early years of the church and recently has returned with ferocity. Two natures within the believer war against each other. As the Apostle Paul stated, the good that he wanted to do, he could not; the evil he did not want to do, he did. Recently, the doctrines called Sinless Perfection, Holiness, or a Higher Life have gained many adherents. In a society where no one is willing to admit he/she has sinned, promises which offer freedom from guilt appeal to the new believer. Childress declares that what is being promised by these concepts cannot be delivered. While measuring self by comparison to others, an honest heart will soon become discouraged with failed attempts at perfection. Even a person who boasts must spend time and energy defending a sinless claim against facts and conscience. When Jesus appeared to the Apostle in the Book of Acts, he announced that it was hard for Paul to kick against the pricks of the law. How much harder is it for believers to kick against the extended offers of grace? The author tackles this important subject in six chapters. Within each chapter, insights are followed by scriptural references to substantiate points made. This format is a highly effective teaching/preaching tool. Chapter 1 places the focus on man’s position in Christ, not on the corrupt nature of man. The natural man continues to seek position, power, and possession. Only when these are lost will he/ she pursue either religion or addiction. The goal of the spiritual man is fellowship with God. Chapter 2 explains how we grow in grace but are never meant to reach a standard of sinless perfection. Attempting to do so
transforms the Good News into Bad News. Chapter 3 instructs the warrior that the real struggle is learning to trust God’s love for us, not our own abilities. Trusting in self will eventually lead to depression, anxiety, anger, and frustration. Chapters 4 through 6 are studies from the Book of Romans regarding righteousness and grace [unmerited favor]. Proponents of Sinless Perfection worry about falling away or giving new believers a license to sin. However, a serious study of God’s righteousness and great love gifted to us is motivation enough to constrain obedience.
that make written content more readable. More editing in this regard would enable the author’s points to come across more clearly to the reader. Childress admits that fellowship with God will not improve the natural man. But complete surrender to the Lord will increase the maturity of the spiritual man and prepare him for the ongoing battle.
The author’s decades of familiarity with the Bible have given him some valuable insights into its interpretation. Still, for long-time preachers like Childress, adapting spoken messages for print is not always that easy. The spoken word often has sufficient pauses, but these do not necessarily correspond to the standard punctuation rules
About the Author A pastor for 40 years and dealing with those that struggled to find peace with God and free from the guilt of sin and quilt.
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
feature author My name is Sarah Northwood, I write fiction for both Adults and Children, publishing on Amazon and I’m also on Goodreads. I guess you could say these are opposites in terms of styles and genres and that’s one of the things I love about being an Indie Author. The ability to write where your heart takes you. That describes me as a person too, I’m led by my heart! I dabble in Poetry, write piano music and songs for fun. I enjoy; wine, films, food, animals and generally love life completely! I’m married with two children who I adore and have inspired me so much. To say I’m proud doesn’t do them justice.
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Uncaged welcomes Sarah Northwood! Uncaged: In She’s Not Gone, you’ve brought in a bit of the supernatural, that plays a bit off of Stephen King, but also you brought in the tough issues of abuse, what inspired this story for you? Originally, She’s Not Gone was written as a short story. The concept came about because I used to have a car that broke down randomly and for no apparent reason! I liked the idea that a car could keep a person from harm or remove them from a harmful situation and perhaps there could be something a little more to it, no spoilers! I’m a huge fan of Stephen King but should confess I’ve never read Christine. I also used to love the TV program Herbie, perhaps that influenced me a little? Once I realized that the short story just wasn’t cutting it as there was not enough character development or investment for the reader I had to expand it and make it better. My family suggested I leave it and move on to another project but I must see things through once I start them, I have a single mindedness when it comes to writing. After that the story seemed to unfold before me, it wasn’t a conscious choice to write about such a tough subject. In fact, I then felt a huge burden of responsibility to ensure the story gave a valid and thought out view on this topic, because despite it being fiction, for many people this is a reality they are living in.
Uncaged: A lot of the inner feelings that Katie feels are so realistic, did you do a lot of research for this story? Yes! As I mentioned I wanted to ensure that my characters and the situation, was portrayed in an accurate way. I researched using Google, I spoke to people who had experienced this and I drew on experiences I was aware of. There were aspects of the story that were extremely painful to write. Knowing that my words reflected real situations is a toughie. I generally enjoy writing fiction that is so far-fetched from my own sphere of knowledge that I don’t creep myself out, so this was genuinely difficult at times. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all? Yes! I want to improve as much as I can and reviews are the readers opportunity to feedback, they are a great learning opportunity. A positive review is like being kissed by a unicorn. As a sensitive soul, I’ve yet to comes to terms with negative reviews, I need to get better at this. I write the stories that I want to write, I truly follow my heart and as an indie author I can explore whatever path I want to take. I feel like every book is a learning experience. Uncaged: What is your favorite part about being an author? Your least favorite? Favourite things: I love writing, it’s a compulsion! The friends I’ve made through other authors and my readers. My facebook page and followers, I love it. The satisfac-
tion of knowing my words are out there and people are reading them. Knowing my work is enjoyed. I could go on… Least favourite things: the number of people who friend request me to spam me. Negative reviews. When I get stuck in a story and feel like I will never succeed. Marketing (its such hard work!) Uncaged: What are the benefits to joining your mailing list? Do you have an ARC team, or a Street Team? It’s only recently that I started a newsletter and already I love it. It’s a chance for me to show my personality and connect more directly with readers. Newsletter subscribers get everything first and right now I’m working on some additional stuff that will be exclusive to the newsletter, this will hopefully include some secret diaries that my main character in She’s Not Gone has. Again, until recently I had separate ARC teams for each of my books and when I first started I didn’t even have an ARC team. Now, my newsletter subscribers get to hear about the chance to get copies first and I am expanding this group so that they can stay with me for all my books. My ARC team have been so amazing with She’s Not Gone that I would like to keep this and build on it. As for a street team, no I don’t have one at the moment. Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I love a bit of everything in terms of genre but these are my favourite, horror, thriller (esp psychological), poetry and children’s work. I almost exclusively now only read Indie Authors and have started blogging my reviews. We must support each other! Generally, I only read one or two books out of a series because I want to make sure I can devote time to as many authors as I can. Time is very precious and it’s difficult to read as much as I would like too! Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I’m a Mum to two beautiful girls, who keep me busy in all the usual family things. I have a part time job, which is great and gets me out of the house. I love to play the piano and compose songs and I have gorgeous King Charles dog, whom I adore. Uncaged: Are you attending any signings or conventions to meet readers in the near future? The short answer is no. So far, I’ve done local signings (I’m in Cheshire in the UK) at craft fairs and Christmas events. It’s something I’d like to do more of and I’m hoping to pursue more of in the coming months. It’s kind of scary :) Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? The idea of having fans is more than a little mind blowing. I still can’t quite get my head around it and I’m pretty sure they’re just humouring me. Seriously though, to all my readers, I want to say a huge thank you and to those who have become friends, you are awesome and I can’t quite believe you are real but Unicorns are, absolutely. 84 | UncagedBooks.com
Enjoy excerpts from She’s Not Gone She’s Not Gone Sarah Northwood Thriller/Suspense A chilling thriller with a twist of evil and a twang of the supernatural. When Daryl charms his way into Katie’s life, sweeping her off her feet, she thinks she’s found the love of her life. Until he cuts her off from her friends and starts to control everything in her life, right down to the food she puts on her plate. There is a monster inside of Daryl that plays on his insecurities, and the monster is ready to come out and play. Will Katie make the most important decision of her life before it’s too late? Who will protect her when she discovers Daryl’s deadly secret? Excerpt 1 Once the illusion is shattered, though the glass may cut your skin to shreds, at last, truth is revealed. Painful, bloody and real. Excerpt 2 To the outside world, to everyone but me, Daryl is a sweet, gentle guy. What’s so wrong with me that he treats me this way? Why does everyone else get the best of him? For a moment, I feel something like jealousy. Excerpt 3
The colourful bruising has now turned my face into a work of art, but you should think less Da Vinci and more Picasso. Momentarily I let my fingers trace over my skin as if confirming it really is me beneath the mountain of swellings and dried blood, but I don’t linger for long. It won’t change things and the longer I stand here, the worse I feel. I won’t give in to selfpity. Excerpt 4 A driver notices me looking for a spot to cross. He kindly flashes his lights to let me walk across the road but I wonder if I should trust him. I hesitate for a moment at the kerb, one foot clinging to the pavement. If I let fear consume now, it will set the standard for the rest of my life. If I cling to the safety of the pavement, I will never get better, so I plunge into the road with a lolloping gait, strolling across the oncoming traffic. I smile a sunny smile back to the driver, outwardly looking like a carefree pedestrian. Inside, my heart is beating wildly and the blood seems to have pooled into my feet, making them heavy and hard to move, but there is no harm done. I’ve crossed the road.
| SARAH NORTHWOOD |
This book brought out a lot of different emotions for me. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of this story, because it is a shorter novella length, but it really hits on some major points. Katie’s life as a domestic violence victim with a man. Daryl, who wants to control everything she does, and the emotions and the feelings of worthlessness, or it being her own fault – all of this is brought out in the book. I can’t really give any plot info, as anything I say could be a spoiler. There were a few things that Katie does that I wanted to jump into the story and grab a hold of her to protect her from herself and her bad decisions, and a couple things that seemed a bit unrealistic – but all in all, this book is a well written journey of a woman losing and re-finding herself. I think it’s going to be a hit or miss type storyline, as abuse storylines aren’t for everyone, but if you give this one a chance, you might be surprised. Reviewed by Cyrene
Excerpt 5 I scream again. Sharply, my mind springs into action. I am wide awake. The thoughts come thick and fast: shit…fell asleep. Then, how am I not dead? I look around but it’s impossible to see anything in the pitch black. I have no idea how I am even still alive. Am I in a ditch? As my eyes begin to adjust to the lack of light, I can make out white lines on the ground around me. I haven’t run off the road, I am in a car park. Trembling, my body rejects the notion that I fell asleep…but how else did I get here.
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
showcase Jamel Gross
A Knight Without His Lovers A Knight Without His Lovers Jamel Gross Poetry
A Knight Without His Lovers is a set poetries where readers will feel falling in love all over again. I feel compelled to talk about the dark ages in that time to love and not to love and to love again. This is a classic tale of love.
bookventure.com US Review of Books “Please explain, what I’m doing I’m in love with you Our time apart is killing me Please don’t understand what I’m going through.” In A Knight Without His Lovers, Gross expresses the various shades and states of love, but primarily dwells on the feeling of falling in love. The poems exhibit an air of authenticity and spontaneity that allow readers to look past the highly experimental nature of the sentence structure 86 | UncagedBooks.com
and lack of any consistent rhyme scheme. From the get go, the titles of the poems make Gross’s “cinematic” vision and mindset quite apparent. Poetry titles like “Mirror in the Sky,” “Wedding Showers,” and “Summer Sun” already help the audience conjure the respective images and are enhanced by the poet’s use of resplendent imagery. The sparks that fly in the midst of the first love are beautifully captured in “When Love Feels Like the First Time,” which undoubtedly takes readers down memory lane and rekindles the magic of their high school sweethearts. Similarly, “Can You Get Away” explores the coming-of-age theme of love; however, Gross digs a little deeper and starts a discussion about what a woman looks for in her partner. While the central theme of the poetry is love, there are many underlying variations: the love of a daughter for her father, love for the military man, the eternal nature of love, and inevitably the loss of love. In “My First Love, You’ll Always Be My First Love,” Gross captures the unique, yet fleeting seasons of love: “You’re the sunshine of my world. As seasons grow love never dies. When time to mend let’s take hold? Can’t capture time in a bottle.” Though this is an ode to sweet love, there is an almost heartbreaking quality to the mortality of life and, to a degree, love. Gross juxtaposes images of the sun and light with poems of darkness and pain. In “Shadows of Darkness” and “You’re Always on My Mind,” there is a glimpse of the speaker’s grief as he buries loved ones and ruminates in the cemetery. With respect to themes, Gross is extremely thorough and diligent with his exploration of the respective topics. Perhaps one of the more chilling poems from the compilation is “Talking Heads,” which
describes the feeling of finally finding a soulmate, but “draped in blood, from feet to head.” Other poems that are sure to catch the audience’s attention include, “If Heaven were Mint” and “Hour Glass.” In many ways, poetry is simply a medium of expression, but this compilation unquestionably exudes the feeling of a narrative. The story of love that is told within the undercurrents of Gross’s various themes is alluring and helps offset the shortcomings of poetic style. When experiencing the energy in poems like “Scarlett’s Blood Love” and “I’ll Never Let You Go,” it isn’t far fetched to imagine the poet completely consumed by his sentiments and frantically transforming his emotions into words on paper. This energy and genuine delivery of so many variations and complexities of love is truly intriguing. A Knight Without His Lovers is a compilation of passionate poetry that can be a worthwhile endeavor for those who can look be-
yond the grammatical shortcomings, and simply enjoy poetry for what it’s meant to be: words that make you feel. About the Author On a relaxing day, I enjoy a good book to start the day. I hope everyone has an opportunity to purse their dreams in life... Also I like to take time and enjoy life. Sometimes things aren’t as promised, never take loved ones for granted, spending time with family and friends. The Drive is the most intoxicating force. Sometimes I feel as if I’m on a mission. Pray for World Peace and the lives that were lost??? As a writer, I find people fascinating. It is only the beginning until the clock is up. Precious time, precious few. Make time and savor the moment let no obstacles come between you and the gift... A little robust, a good jolt to start the day. Issue 14 | September 2017 |
feature author J.S. Marlo spent her childhood in a small French Canadian town, reading and daydreaming stories. One day, she met her hero, a dashing young officer, and followed him back and forth across the country. The “memorable” adventures she experienced with her young family fueled her imagination and kindled the dream of one day becoming a published author. When her three spirited children left the nest in pursuit of their own adventures, J.S. gave writing a chance. She captured her dream with her first novel “Salvaged” then carried on with two series. The “Duty Bound Series” (Unscripted #1, Unearthed #2, and Untamed #3) and the “Heart & Endurance Series” (Cold Sweat #1, Thin Ice #2, and Hot Water #3). J.S. lives in Alberta with her amazing hubby, and when she’s not visiting her children and little granddaughter, she’s working on her next novel under the northern lights.
Uncaged welcomes J.S. Marlo! Uncaged: Thin Ice is the second book in a series, but does well as a standalone. I did notice that there is crossover characters from book one. How can you describe this series for readers? The series is a blend of mystery, romance, and suspense with biathlon, hockey and swimming as backdrop. In each book of the series, we delve into new storylines with new protagonists, one of whom is a high-caliber athlete, and renew acquaintance with some characters from the previous books. The Heart & Endurance Series is about young love and mature love, forgiveness and second chance, courage & determination, duty and sacrifice, hope and resilience. Cold Sweat #1 takes place in December. Thin Ice #2 is set a year later. Then Hot Water #3 wraps the series three years after Thin Ice and answers any unresolved situations that couldn’t be solved within the short time span of Cold Sweat or Thin Ice, including “What became of the infamous Senator Craig Norman?” Uncaged: Are you a huge hockey fan? Do you attend hockey events?
JS Marlo Website
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First, maybe I should tell you I’m Canadian. Growing up, I watched hockey every Saturday night. It was a family ritual, and during playing off, my parents ordered pizza and we were allowed to eat in the living
room while watching the game. Like all the kids in the neighborhood, I played hockey in the streets during the summer and on uneven ice on outdoor rings in the winter. I’m ashamed to say, I was never a good skater and I spent more time falling than skating. My son on the other hand inherited his father’s abilities and ended up playing Junior and varsity hockey. Nearly every week over the course of more than a decade, I sat on cold uncomfortable arena benches and watched my son defend his team’s net. Any goaltender’s mom will understand when I say it was nail-biting, agonizing, and exhilarating, all at the same time. Nowadays, I don’t often stop by the arena, but it’s about to change. I have a little three-year-old granddaughter…and she is learning to skate. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews on your books? Do they influence your story at all? Yes, I read them. They do not influence my storylines per se, but they prompt me to reflect for example, on how I could have made a scene tighter or a character more engaging. For me, reviews are useful learning tools. Uncaged: What is your favorite part about being an author? Your least favorite? My favorite part is creating new characters and watch
them come to life as the story progresses. For me, they are real, and sometimes I have a hard time saying good bye. It may be why I’m writing series…I can’t let them go. My least favorite part is promotion. You know how some people could sell ice cream in the middle of a snowstorm? Well, I couldn’t sell a single cone during a heatwave. Uncaged: Do you have an ARC team or a newsletter? No newsletter at the moment. I do not have an “official” ARC team either, but I have a couple of friends who enjoy the opportunity of going through the last edits and point out any mistakes that my editor and I missed. Uncaged: What are your favorite genres to read right now? Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you like to read books that are part of series? My list of favorite authors is long, too long to name only a few. I read many genres: historical romance, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, suspense, romance… Right now, I tend to gravitate toward romantic suspense and historical mysteries based on real events, but that could change tomorrow. I like series and I like standalones. I don’t really have a preference. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | Aside from spending time with my family and spoiling my granddaughter, I like to travel, though to be honest I end up doing a fair amount of writing in airports, on planes, or in cars. I also enjoy walking, hiking, doing puzzles, drawing, knitting, and gardening.
agent embroiled in an explosive investigation. The sudden disappearance of her only son tests Julie’s courage and determination. She welcomes Luke’s help to search for Thierry, but their two investigations intertwine, jeopardizing her chances of ever seeing her son again.
Uncaged: Have you attended any in-person book signings to meet readers?
No, not yet, but I’m planning one this coming November, so I’m excited and a bit nervous about it…okay, a lot nervous. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I would say “THANK YOU”. Thanks for reading my books. Thanks for supporting me. I would invite them to ask questions and/or drop me a line.
Enjoy an excerpt from Thin Ice Thin Ice J.S. Marlo Romantic Suspense Can the truth unleash the past and set their hearts and minds free? Thierry Leboeuf, an eighteenyear-old goaltender, witnesses the drug problems plaguing his teammates. On the verge of exposing the traffickers, he vanishes on his way to a hockey tournament. Julie Lavoie is no stranger to personal tragedy, but as she contemplates giving love a second chance, she must face her fears regarding the occupation of Rubens “Luke” Lucas, a federal 90 | UncagedBooks.com
Aside from a few moist invoices, the remaining papers in the latest shoebox hadn’t been damaged by their fall on the icy parking lot. If only the owner’s wife had cleaned that closet on Friday night, it would have saved Julie time and frustration. If only. Matthieu had hated those words. He’d lived in the moment and taught her to do the same. Longing for a past that would never be again went against everything he’d believed in. In her place, he’d have already moved on. If only Matthieu had left a trail of blazing arrows in the sky pointing me in the right direction. Her gaze traveled to the soggy note Agent Lucas left on her windshield. By the time she found it, the ink had run down, blurring the words. His name was illegible. Deciphering his phone number had taken luck, along with six phone calls. The other five persons she’d disturbed on a Sunday morning hadn’t been as gracious as Lucas. Maybe the accident was a sign to mend more than her van. In the last five months, she’d found solace in her work, but today the numbers she manipulated failed to provide any distraction. At least they’re singing a nice melody now. With the door of her personal office open, like it was right now, she could see the waiting area adjacent to the secretary’s desk. From the corner of her eye, she caught an outdoor shadow moving across the blinds. A moment later, someone knocked on the door. She peeked through the slats. A tall stranger wearing an unzipped coat stood in front of the door. He held a large yellow envelope in his bare hand. Julie hadn’t asked Lucas what kind of agent he was, but his short brown hair combined with the pale blue
| J.S. MARLO | shirt and dark tie visible under his coat suggested he worked for one of the many governmental agencies in Washington, D.C. An hour had elapsed since she’d called him. The odds were she was looking at her saving angel. She opened the door. “Agent Lucas?” “At your service.” A warm smile softened his rugged face, marred with a scar above his left eyebrow. “And from the sound of your voice, I’d say you’re the unfortunate owner of an unlucky minivan whose name I didn’t catch.” His clever introduction was the breath of fresh air she needed this morning. “My van has been renamed Wreck and I’m Julie. Please come in.” Silent chuckles shook his shoulders as he stepped inside and closed the door behind him. “A detailed account of the accident is in there along with a description of the driver and the make, model, and license plate of his truck. I also included all my coordinates in case someone at your insurance company wants to contact me.” She accepted the envelope with gratitude. “This will make dealing with them that much easier, Agent Lucas. You saved my sanity this morning. I owe you more than a few thank-yous.” “Then would you join me for brunch? If you’re not busy, that is.” A slight frown appeared on his forehead. “I don’t mean to imply you’re not busy or you wouldn’t be in your office on a Sunday. This isn’t coming out right, right? Feel free to stop me before I make a complete fool of myself.” The man was articulate and confident, and his sudden discomfit seemed out of character, which she found endearing. “Are you asking me out, Agent Lucas?” “Yes. No. Not exactly.” Amusement bubbled inside Julie’s chest. “That doesn’t sound too flattering,” she teased. “Didn’t you tell me you had an unpleasant task to accomplish, or have you already take care of it?” When he took a long breath, she found herself holding hers. Sharing Sunday brunch with a stranger would be insanely irresponsible. And invigorating. “I’m faced with the unpleasant duty of attending my mother’s brunch alone. If you’re free for an hour or two, I can promise you the food will be excellent.
There are no strings attached. And if you wish to leave within five minutes of our arrival, I’ll be glad to drive you back here.” Over the years, she’d been forced to attend so many parties she’d learned to recognize the telltale of a dreadful gathering when she heard one. “Is it going to be that bad?” “Probably.” “Will your mother throw me out if I speak my mind?” A mischievous glimmer flickered in his dark brown eyes. “Probably, but I hope it won’t stop you.” “I…” Live in the moment, Julie. Matthieu’s voice resounded in her head, a comforting echo from the past. “I would be happy to accompany you, Agent Lucas.”
Uncaged Review A nice shorter novel and nicely written. This is book two in a series, but I did not read the first one, and it held up very well as a standalone. Julia is a widow, who lost her husband in a flying accident with an 18 yr old son, Thierry, who is a talented goal tender in a junior hockey league. Luke, is a FBI Special Agent, who meets Julia in a parking lot of a hit and run accident seem to hit it off very easily, maybe too easily? With Luke trying to track down a serial bomber, and with Thierry disappearing on his way back to his league, the story gets a lot more interesting. New beginnings and second chances, a bit of intrigue and suspense with a dash of danger tossed in, and it makes for a fast read. Even though there are a couple things that happen in the book that aren’t all that realistic, it definitely is worth a read with a clean romance. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR |
“Shaped by fire. Bound by duty. Driven by love.” Riley’s tumultuous life rivals the television scripts she writes for Wild Rescue.
Can they conquer the mountains and the past in time to save Hope?
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| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |
Enjoy an excerpt from Captivated by Crimson Captivated by Crimson Brynn Myers Dark Fantasy/Paranormal She is the fated one I have been waiting for... The crimson in her veins will restore me… ***
Brynn Myers is an adult paranormal romance author. After considering writing a hobby for years, she finally turned her passion and talent into a career. She came into the paranormal genre later than most but has always loved fairy-tales and all things magical. Using that love, she creates charmed worlds by writing stories involving passionate, strong willed characters with something to discover. Brynn lives with her family in Central Florida.
My desire for her burns like no other… I must possess her… Dare to touch her and you will be the one to suffer… *** Nola Blair is a free-spirited photographer sent to cover the party of the century in Elizabeth Bathory’s ruined castle. It was an assignment she’d declined–– twice, but when she was offered a hefty sum to indulge the wealthy eccentric, she finally gave in. Little did she know that the guests at this party were centuries old and their desires reached far beyond those of a normal partygoer. One captivating night will change her life and the two vampires vying for her will fight to the death to get what they want. One wants her to be his and the other wants her blood. Who will decide Nola’s fate? Excerpt
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1614 ~ Erzsebet Distant footsteps sound on the stone, but I can still hear them with perfect clarity. I know by the gait it is the male servant my captors left to feed and care
| BRYNN MYERS | for me––that is if being walled into a dungeon could be considered caring for someone. Twenty more steps, fifteen, ten, five… “Mistress,” the voice called through the slit in the door, “your breakfast.” I remain silent. Best they all assume me dead, for I will not beg for the scraps of food they slop on a plate––human food. They believe it will sustain me and prolong my suffering, but they are wrong. When the footsteps fade to silence, I rise, the foul stench of copper and decay assaulting my senses as I sit up in my tattered bed. The rat I’d fed from last night drops to the floor with a thud, and I kick it towards the wall with a sigh of disgust. I used to feed from the blood of virgins––bathe in their blood and drink my fill until I was sated, and now I’m forced to eat vermin and waste away. My mind is sharp, but my body is weak. They will all pay for this, I think as I stare down at my pallid skin. Looking out the small square opening they left to serve as a window, I am reminded that another day has dawned in this hell I’m forced to endure. Time should be irrelevant by now, but it is not. It has been four years since I’ve been locked away in this room. Four long years since my lover betrayed me––one thousand four hundred and fifty-two days to be exact. Rurik may have turned me into what I am, but he by no means made me who I am––that was all my doing. Soon, he and those who conspired against me will know my wrath. My mistake was to have trusted a man. I knew better. All men lie to get what they want. I smile at the thought, because I may have been fooled by Rurik’s affections, but he was the fool who made me into a vampire. Someday I shall be free, and when that day comes, I will hunt him down and take my place once again as queen. I will rule over the ferals. I will be their salvation. As the sun’s rays spill into the room, I look up at my aging portrait. You will be beautiful again. This torture is only temporary. You just need to feed–– gorge yourself on a human or two, and you’ll regain
your strength. Dorotya always used to say the reflection of a woman could be seen through her eyes, but I always thought it was in the way she carried herself––the way she communicated. I always did like to maintain my sensibilities. I once ruled nations. I used to draft eloquent letters to my husband and children, but now I’m forced to document my life on these cold stone walls. I make sure to mark each dawn with a sigil. Each one adding to the spell I will soon unleash. I’ve kept track of time by using old bones to chisel each symbol. I’m certain the villagers and palatine hoped I’d have killed myself by now, but I’m an immortal queen. My reign has only just begun
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Captivated by Crimson is not your average vampire book. It combines the vampire legend with the history of Elizabeth Bathory and gives it a nice little twist. I’ve been looking forward to this book for quite a while so I am thrilled it is finally out. The characters are easily loved or hated depending on their role. The only one I was on the fence about was Elizabeth herself because based on this story it almost sounds like she was a victim of sorts. With her being my favorite character from history, I was mildly sympathetic to her anger. Nola was a very strong character. I quite liked her as compared to many other characters I have read lately. She’s very down to earth. Maybe the artist in her makes me like her so much. As horrible of a person Elizabeth was as well as her sidekick Becca, I have to say, their sense of humor had me dying. Becca was a huge smart ass mainly to Paul and with good reason. He deserved every snarky comment he got. One thing I enjoyed is how Myers took characters from Greek mythology and used them in a new Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | and exciting way. Her origins story for the vampires is one Iâ€™ve not seen before so the originality was greatly appreciated. The art pieces Nola and Arianna create sound amazing and I wish someone would actually make them in real life. Thatâ€™s just me being a dork though. I would like to see them in reality lol. Overall, Captivated by Crimson is a well written, unique and interesting story from an author who has yet to disappoint me. Her other books are great as well and I highly recommend everything she has written.
I was drowning, but all I needed to do was breathe. It was 5:45pm when I decided my future. By 9:43 I was well on my way to making it all come true. At 11:16 I took the first step to make it a reality. At 11:17 I fell and found peace. When a dream of dying actually becomes a chance to live. All you have to do is fall.
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New Releases September Release Dates - A Selection
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn Intensity by Sherrilyn Kenyon Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld Deathtrap by Dannika Dark
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore Dear Bridget, I Want You by Penelope Ward Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
September 12 Warcross by Marie Lu Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows A Column of Fire by Ken Follett Fireblood by Elly Blake Odd & True by Cat Winters The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud Play On by Samantha Young
September 26 There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King Invictus by Ryan Graudin Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh Wishtree by Katherine Applegate The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti Holly and Ivy by Fern Michaels The Hunt by Chloe Neill Smoke and Sin by Shayla Black Immortally Yours by Lynsay Sands Dark Swan by Gena Showalter
Publishers and authors: If you would like a new release in these lists, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews Lure of the Wolf
Anna Lowe Paranormal Romance She can’t remember her past. He wishes he could forget his. Nina only has the vaguest memories of who she is or why two men tried to kill her one terrifying night. All she knows is how quickly she’s falling in love with her rescuer — a man with secrets of his own. With her, he’s kind, gentle, and fun — but there’s a ferocious, animal side to Boone and the group of Special Forces vets he shares an exclusive seaside estate with. Can Boone help her uncover the past before the killers catch up with her? Or will an unexpected twist of fate steal her only chance at true love? If fate were to come knocking on the door of Boone Hawthorne’s beach bungalow, he’d shove it right back into the sea — especially if it started whispering any nonsense about destined mates. But one night, a woman washes up on his private stretch of beach. Before the wolf shifter knows it, he’s breaking every personal rule for her and making promises he’s not sure he can keep. Investigating Nina’s past means crossing paths with a powerful archenemy, cutthroat criminals, and a ruthlessly selfish ex-lover who will stop at nothing to get Boone back in her bed. Can he solve the mystery of Nina’s identity while protecting her — without risking his own heart?
Uncaged Review: Another thrilling addition to the Aloha Shifters series, this is book two, and it’s as good as the first one. These books all connect, not only with the shifters themselves finding their destined mates, but also with finding the Jewel of the Heart power stones, each different in their powers, but when brought together, they are even more powerful. And there are people willing to kill to get a hold of them. This one revolves around broody Boone, the wolf shifter in the group, and when he finds a woman washed up on the beach with no memory of who she is or what happened, his inner wolf claims her. This book slaps you into the action right out of the gate, with Nina being thrown off a boat and 100 | UncagedBooks.com
left for dead. There is suspense, humor, action and hot romance. You are also treated to the inner dialog of Boone’s wolf, like we were treated in book one, with Kai’s dragon. This is a mesmerizing series – and a page turner. They just seem to end too soon. . Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Mild violence, sex
10 Dates Emily James Contemporary Romance/Humor Joanie Fox can’t wait to settle down and marry the man of her dreams. However, when her engagement starts to look more stalemate than soulmate, her best friend stages an intervention sure to make even the most hardened, serial daters wince: 10 Dates in 10 Days. Statistically, if you kiss a lot of frogs there’s bound to be at least one that’s not a complete toad, isn’t there? With nothing to lose, Joanie embarks on a crazy rollercoaster of blind dates. After all, what can possibly go wrong in the search for Mr. Right? Uncaged Review: Joanie Fox newly single after her boyfriend says he’s moving to New York to focus on his dating app. She thinks she will be single and become a spinster her whole life. Her two best friends try to cheer up by setting her up with 10 random guys for 10 dates. They don’t all go according to plan. I loved this story as it had you laughing and crying throughout especially when the story concerns matters of the heart. The storytelling was light and refreshing and would make a good Rom Com Film. Reviewed by Jennifer
Rock My Body Lee Piper Contemporay Romance
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex scenes, mild language
The Accidental Stranger Cj Fosdick Time Travel/Suspense Jessica Brewster is being watched... and things go missing from the remote Wyoming home she shares with her toddler. In a freak accident, she shoots the bearded thief stalking her before she recognizes the mesmerizing green eyes that belong to the only man she ever loved. Has Mitch bridged time to find her? In a race to save his life and change hers forever, she takes him into her home and heart. But his memory loss and puzzling clues curry doubt and expose mystery and danger. Is he truly her son’s father or an irresistible stranger in her arms?
Uncaged Review: Set where the accidental wife left off we’re back with Jessica and her son. This time it’s a mysterious green-eyed stranger who turns up in the 21st century. Jessica thinks it’s Mitch. The mystery and twists of storytelling are a plenty in this book. The author really likes to keep us guessing until the very end. It was an enjoyable read. Makes me wish I had a magical teacup that could make me time travel. Book three coming soon. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Mild language, sexual activity
Twenty-two year old Riley Sears promises herself never to fall in love unless it’s with a guy who is long-term boyfriend material. She’s not crazy, her psychologist reassures her of that, but when faced with situations she cannot control, well, her anxiety skyrockets. Enter Dominic Mondez, the hottest creature ever to grace pecs and abs. The notorious playboy propositions Riley with the best sex of her life—his words. However, after learning he never sleeps with the same woman twice, Riley’s decision becomes remarkably simple. No. Way. In. Hell. Sadly, traversing the murky waters of friends without benefits is far from simple, especially since Dominic is the lead guitarist of local rock band, Mondez. He is also tempestuous, a womanizer, and—even worse—inexplicably jealous. Dominic is bad for Riley in every possible way. Bad, bad, bad.
Uncaged Review: The fun and humor that had hooked me in the first book, Rock My World, is back with this new installment. This time out we are hanging out with Dominic and Riley. The one thing that I’m not sure I am reconciling with very well, is that this story is running parallel with Rock My World’s couple, Levi and Grace, so even though I read the other, we see that relationship develop through Riley’s eyes as we go through her interactions with Dominic. Very original concept, and the author does a nice job with it, but I don’t know how many authors could pull this off, or if I would really want to read a lot of series books this way. With all that said, this is a fun, romantic, sexy and well written read that will have you hooked within Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews the first couple chapters. I love the writing style and the wit of the author and had a hard time putting this one down after about the half way mark. Great series. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Mild language, sex scenes The Demon Magician Alex Dunn Horror We’ve all made a wish we’ve regretted, but what if you’ve asked an archdemon like Belphegor to grant it? When Ella agrees to help fellow student Jonathan Trent with his audition into a mysterious magic circle, she never thought she’d fall in love with him. Nor did she ever conceived the three freakish judges named Hellmouth, Brimstone and Blackheart were actual demons, sent by Belphegor to recruit Jonathan.... Uncaged Review: Jonathan wants to be a magician so badly that he’s willing to make a deal with actual demons. It’s up to Ella - his assistant to stop him before things get out of hand. This is my favorite book by Alex Dunn so far. Filled with creepy demons, magic tricks and more. Be careful what you wish for. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, violence
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Managed 1 Carissa Carlyle Rockstar Romance Jasper and the Weeds are the hottest bands on the scene. Jasper, the lead singer’s voice has made the band an instant success. At one of his concerts, Tara Jackson requests to see him. She is a well-known high-class socialite from the Wild and Town series. She set her latest fantasy on being the one to grace Jasper’s bed. Jasper is powerless to resist her beauty and sex appeal. Jasper never anticipated that one night of gratification would result in Tara posting pictures of their intimate moments on social media. When his fans learn of the escapade they quickly label him the bad boy of pop music... Uncaged Review: Good start to a series, Hailey is working to clear up rock star Jasper’s bad boy image a bit after it gets out of hand. But when Hailey starts peeling back the layers, she finds Jasper is much more than the rock star - and falling for a client is the last thing she should do. This is a short novella - and it held my interest but I was bummed with the cliffhanger. Looking forward to reading the next one. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Mild language, adult situations
Highland Pursuits Emmanuelle de Maupassant 20th Century Romantic Comedy A wickedly naughty romantic comedy. It’s 1928, and defiant debutante Lady Ophelia Finchingfield is banished to the Highlands of Scotland, having refused a marriage proposal from the Earl of Woldershire. Ophelia isn’t willing to marry just to please her mother, and certainly not to a man she finds sexually unappealing... Uncaged Review: Set in the 1920’s, Ophelia is sent off to stay in Scotland at her grandmother’s house. Her family is hoping this will tame her wild ways after declining a marriage proposal. This is a little naughty but fun read involving Ophelia and her charming dog and there adventures of what they get up to in Scotland. A short read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Language, sex
Mirror Mirror E. J Bennett Young Adult/Horror Skylar finds herself in a horrible accident, one that changes her life. She is forced to move and live with her aunt. Skylar’s aunt thinks she is going crazy. As events unfold, Skylar must fight for her life. Will her aunt believe her? Skylar is sure that there is something in the attic. That something wants her dead.
Uncaged Review: Syklar lost her parents in a crash on the way to her aunt’s house. Forced to live with her aunt after her parent’s death, she learns the fact that her uncle use to be a horror writer and wrote a chilling tale involving a mirror. Now I don’t want to give too much away about this book, but the author is a very talented writer who when it concerns horror. Can leave you feeling spooked, a perfect horror read for any age. Short read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult/Adult Scenes of death
Ella Summers Urban Fantasy
Leda Pierce’s latest mission brings her back to her hometown at the edge of the Frontier. But things have taken a turn for the worse in the six months since she left home to join the Legion of Angels in New York City. Crime lords now rule over the town, and the beasts’ numbers are exploding just beyond the great magic wall that separates humanity from the plains of monsters. Together with the fiercely seductive angel Nero, Leda guides a group of pilgrims across the monster-infested expanse to the ruins of the final battle between gods and demons. What begins as a pilgrimage, however, soon turns into a treasure hunt for an ancient weapon that could tip the balance of power between heaven and hell—and spirals into an intrigue that pits Leda and Nero against a rogue member of the Legion, a legendary angel as powerful as he is black-hearted. Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews Uncaged Review: The Legion of Angels series just keeps getting stronger and stronger. There is not let up in this series, and this is the third book in the series that is one of my favorites this year. In this edition, Nero leads a group back to Leda’s home town of Purgatory, where they will enter the Black Plains, the area that has been walled off to protect humanity from the monsters. The book really ups the ante in the action department and Leda and Nero will have to work together to defeat a legendary rogue angel. Some nice twists and surprises in this one, and plenty of first base romance. There are quite a few spelling errors in the book, but once you are heavily into the story, you sort of just skim over them. I think that a good editor would be invaluable to these books, because they deserve it, they are that good. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: New Adult/Adult Language, violence
Down the Tubes
Kate Rigby Contemporary/Abuse
It’s the late 1980s and mother of four, Cheryl West, lands herself a job at a drugs project in London. But memories of her old life are never far away, especially when her surly daughter, Elaine, makes her unwelcome visits. Meanwhile, Cheryl’s estranged son, Michael aka Dodo - is ironically having his life destroyed by drug addiction in his attempt to avoid painful memories of abuse. He goes from one chaotic 104 | UncagedBooks.com
situation to another, ending up on the streets and reaching rock bottom, until he is referred to a drug rehabilitation centre in rural Hampshire where dark family secrets are uncovered. They’re each on a journey, but can there be reconciliation as well as rehabilitation? Uncaged Review: A powerful story focusing on a mother called Cheryl who finds herself working in the same field of addictions that held so many problem’s for her own children. As we process through Cheryl problems and her failed attempts at being a mother to her children, we learn that sometimes the children have big problems of their own and you can’t always blame the parents or life. The book opened my eyes to the many forms of addictions be it motherhood or drug related - a must read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Addiction and sexual abuse
The Crow Girl
Erik Axl Sund Suspense/Crime/Noir
It begins in a Stockholm city park where the abused body of a young boy is discovered. Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg heads the investigation, battling an apathetic prosecutor and a bureaucratic police force unwilling to devote resources to solving the murder of an immigrant child. But with the discovery of the mutilated corpses of two more children, it becomes clear that a serial killer is at large...
Uncaged Review: A crime book like no other Detective Jeannette and her partner are looking into the murder of some young boys. Meanwhile her home life is in ruins, her marriage is falling apart and her son doesn’t speak to her anymore. The dark twisted case this is turning into is beginning to take its toll. I have read some dark crime books before but nothing like this. Some of the story plot was a bit upsetting to read but it didn’t take away the fact that the story is well thought out and written and kept me guessing as to who the bad person was. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sexual abuse, drug use
Trim and Julka Paranormal Erotica Along the edges of darkness, a war of attrition rages between the demon plane and the Tehrex Realm. Dark Warriors alone stand between humans and the evil that seeks to destroy them. Zander Tarakesh, the sexy as sin vampire king, leads the battle. Zander is battle-hardened and accustomed to command, yet wrestles to regain control when his Fated Mate is propelled into his world, bombarding him with unfamiliar emotions. His life depends on him uniting with Elsie, the slip of a mortal, who unknowingly protects a vital piece of his soul. Eradicating the demons will be an easier task than combating her sense of guilt and betrayal to gain her acceptance, loyalty, and ultimately her love. And, he must do this before she plunges a stake in his heart. One thing is certain; the flames of passion ignite a fire in their shared souls…
Uncaged Review: This book is very similar to other series such as The Black Dagger Brotherhood from J.R. Ward, or The Midnight Breed series from Lara Adrian. This is book one in the Dark Warriors Alliance series, and Zander is the Vampire King and in charge of this Dark Warriors. One thing I loved about the book, is mostly the secondary characters and the closeness and fun of the group and how protective they are of their own. What I didn’t like, is that the reader is constantly aware of Zanders issues with his tight pants every time he looks at Elsie. In this story, the Dark Warriors are true Vampires and they do not hunt humans, as a matter of fact, they protect humans from the skirm – an animalistic version of a made vampire. After Elsie’s husband is killed, she becomes a part of a secret group that hunt the skirm, and has no idea that there is a difference between good and evil vampires. Was this an original plot? No, if you’ve read either series above, you’ll know it’s not. But…it was a fun read. I enjoyed the secondary characters almost more than the main characters of this edition, which is Zander and Elsie’s story. This is worth a read if you are into paranormal romance, and it will keep you turning the pages after the half-way point. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, violence, language
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews What the Clocks Know Rumer Haven Horror/Ghosts
Twenty-six-year-old Margot sets out on a journey of self-discovery - she dumps her New York boyfriend, quits her Chicago job, and crashes at her friend’s flat in London. Rather than find herself, though, she only feels more lost. An unsettling energy affects her from the moment she enters the old Victorian residence, and she spirals into depression. Frightened and questioning her perceptions, she gradually suspects her dark emotions belong to Charlotte instead...
Uncaged Review: Set in present time and crossing over to19th century Victorian time, we meet Margot who is fleeing from America to London after a split with her boyfriend James. Staying at her friend Rand’s London Victorian resident she begins to encounter strange ghostly visions. This is a story filled with love, betrayal and the dabbling of spirit boards. This is my first read by Rumer Haven and I found myself caught up with Margot’s story and 19th century Victorian London. Reviewed by Jennifer
The Second Man
Emelle Gamble Romantic Suspense Her first love is back in town . . . and so is a murderer. Could they be one and the same man? Jill Farrell’s college reunion is coming up, but she wants no part of it. The man she once loved, Swedish exchange student Max Kallstrom, is rumored to be attending. Max disappeared from her life the night before the graduation, and has never been heard from since.
Uncaged Review: Jill is going to her college reunion when she learns her ex-husband will be there as well as her old flame who she’s never gotten over after he disappeared after a tragic accident many years ago. Jill has all this on her plate then she’s told there is a murderer on the loose who’s killing people from her class. I really liked this book as I thought I knew who the killer was but was wrong This was a good read that kept you guessing until the end. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, mild language
Running from a Rock Star Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sexual activity, language
Jami Albright Romantic Comedy
She’s a good-girl control freak. He’s a bad boy in need of a clean image. Will these opposites attract or self-destruct? Scarlett Kelly is the poster child for responsible living. Growing up as the daughter of the town floozy, she’s made it her mission to be the exact opposite of her mother. So when she wakes up naked and hung over in bed with a bad-boy rock star, she bolts immediately. There’s just one problem: Scarlett’s bedmate is her new husband.
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Uncaged Review: A very funny and engaging book, with just the right pacing. After a drunken one-night stand in Vegas, Scarlett wakes up to find she’s married to a rock star. Sneaking out and running home, she figures she can just get a quick divorce and no one will be the wiser. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be smooth sailing, especially after her rock star husband, Gavin, decides it would be better for his image if he stayed married for a while, and offers Scarlett money to keep up the charade. Scarlett, needing to save her family home, takes him up on the offer, how bad could it be? A lot of fun moments, and you get to watch a love bloom before your eyes, and it is a blast getting there. I am not ashamed to admit that I totally laughed out loud in places. I’m not giving any spoilers – we all know how this is going to go, but it’s a great rainy day read, and the last chapter is re-read worthy. A great debut novel. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Review: Dev Mac Murphy, former soldier now turned Radio DJ, made a promise to his best friend - Danny’s fiancée Amanda that he would look after her. As he feels responsible that Danny lost his life because of him. Dev hunts down Amanda but when they finally meet he gets more then he bargains for. This is a story of obsession gone wrong, guilty feelings and promises made. I really liked Amanda’s side story in this book and all that uncovers. Such a cozy read romance and mystery all in a neat package. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, mild language
Love at War
Viola Russell 20th Century/War
Uncaged Ratings: Adult No major warnings
Hers by Request
Karen Ann Dell Romantic Suspense In three short minutes the war destroyed Devlyn MacMurphy’s career, killed his best friend, and locked his heart behind a wall of guilt. Now he had a promise to keep and falling for his best friend’s fiancée only made matters worse. As her calls to his request line became more frequent, he used the songs of his favorite composers to hint at what he could not say.
Nuala Comeaux and her brothers are part of a typical working-class family living life on the brink of World War II. Like most Americans, they pray war won’t come their way, but Nuala is more preoccupied with her budding romance with the handsome and intoxicatingly sexy Keith Roussell. Nuala willingly gives in to his charms, but soon, the tides of war will engulf Nuala and her family. Nuala marries Keith, and soon, Keith and her brothers are overseas, facing the enemy.
Uncaged Review: This is a story set right before the start of World War II, and it’s a story of love, betrayal, family, espionage, revenge, bravery and the tragedies of war. It starts out a bit slow, and there are some very depressing moments, but the story is an honest one, and you can easily picture it in your mind as you read along. Even though this is marketed as a historical romance, the romance is not all that prominent like you
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Uncaged Reviews would see in most, it takes a backseat to the war to the bravery of what Nuala and Keith and her family will do for both revenge and love. Even though books about war are normally some that I shy away from, this is a good read, an epic love story, with a fierce loyalty to family within the despair of war. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Violence, minor sexual situations
Never With a Rich Man Tina Susedik Romantic Suspense
Cassie Jordan has been lied to, cheated on, and passed over at her job. Married to a wealthy womanizer, Cassie finds out he has been cheating on her. After her divorce, Cassie decides the wealthy can’t be trusted and vows never to fall for a rich man or anyone she catches lying to her...
Uncaged Review: Cassie Jordan meets Hogan Wynters after he left his tennis shoes at her sisters, as Cassie is left to look after her sister’s kids for a weekend and Hogan and Cassie hit it off. The twist in the tale is Hogan works for FBI and is investigating her and her ex-husband who might be involved in stolen antiques and fraud. So it’s a race against the clock for Hogan to prove Cassie is innocent even as he’s falling for her. The story was quite funny I liked when Cassie and Hogan are trying to be romantic and the kids get in the way as is always the way when the grown-ups try to have some fun. Also the ending was funny, I really enjoyed this some romance with light hearted humor. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, language
Not Her Baby
Cassandra Jamison Young Adult/Contemporary When eighteen-year-old Aubrey Dale’s cousin is diagnosed with leukemia, Aubrey volunteers to in-vitro fertilization in order to become a vessel for the donor that will save her life. Now this clean-cut high school student must learn to adapt to life as a pregnant teenager, despite still being a virgin. Things only get more complicated when she falls in love with her best friend, Eli Calhoun, who has just returned from the penitentiary. Rumors soon spread that the insemination story is only a cover up. That’s when the anonymous threats begin. Someone in her small town disapproves of this so-called abomination. The psychological games soon take a twisted turn, putting Aubrey and her unborn child’s lives in danger. Aubrey and Eli race to uncover the horrible truth before it destroys everything.
Uncaged Review: Aubrey feels very close to her cousin who is suffering from Cancer. There’s a way that she can survive but it leaves Aubrey with a major life choice. Coming from a small town with small minded people and beliefs. Problems start for Aubrey and soon death threats follow. This is a New Adult Teen Read that packs a punch. The storyline is fresh and new and gave me a new insight into treatments for a cancer patient. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult No major warnings
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No One Gets Out Alive Adam Nevill Horror
When Stephanie moves to the notoriously cheap Perry Bar neighborhood of Birmingham, she’s just happy to find an affordable room for rent that’s large enough not to deserve her previous room’s nickname, “the cell.” The eccentric — albeit slightly overly-friendly — landlord seems nice and welcoming enough, the ceilings are high, and all of the other tenants are also girls. Things aren’t great, but they’re stable. Or at least that’s what she tells herself when she impulsively hands over enough money to cover the first month’s rent and decides to give it a go.
Uncaged Review: Stephanie moves to Birmingham with the hopes to get a job and a cheap room. Cheap room is exactly what she gets it may be shabby and the landlord a little iffy but at least it houses only women. Until Stephanie’s first night in her room when she hears voices and things aren’t what they seem. Stephanie realizes she can’t leave the dreadful house. This tale is very creepy and action packed. You may want to sleep with the lights on and beware of the one they call Black Maggie. Reviewed by Jennifer
Bad Boy Brother Chance Carter Romance/Sports
She needs my protection. And I’m going to make her cute little tush work for it. I always protect a bro. I just didn’t count on having to protect his sister too. Joey and I have been close since childhood. I have his back and he has mine. Always. But now he’s in trouble. He’s been arrested for murder and everyone thinks he’s guilty. His sister needs my help.
Uncaged Review: Jenny after getting a promotion at work has to go back to her small town home after she gets a phone call saying her brother who is a local cop has murdered his wife and is in jail. Forced to look after her niece she has her doubts about her brother being guilty. After a few home truths come to light and somebody sets fire to her brother’s house with her in it. This is a thriller meets romance that will keep you on your toes and a completely new look for the author’s writing style as he has only ever wrote straight up romance. If you like thrillers with some romance this book is for you. A great read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, language, sex, death
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Sexual activity, some language
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Uncaged Reviews (Almost) Average Anthology Jason J. Nugent Horror Anthology
Culled from the archives of the (Almost) Average blog, this anthology of flash fiction collects sixteen original stories in one volume. Maniacal creatures, deadly aliens, and strained relationships reveal the darker side of life through tales perfect for the reader wanting adventure in bite-sized stories.
Uncaged Review: A short collection of tales featuring adventures, loss, and oddity. We learn of a young man trying to make a living from his plant’s. Only to be meet with a gruesome end. Or a jealous cheerleader who can see the future in a bubble above your head. This is a very short read perfect for New reader’s or Teens who don’t have much time to read. You can read this book at anytime of your life. A enjoyable read. Reviewed by Jennifer
Then, on Good Friday morning he is called out to a crime scene at one of the largest cemeteries in Newcastle. The body of a redheaded woman has been found buried in a shallow grave and the killer has given her wings, like an angel.
Uncaged Review: Ryan and his band of detective’s are pulled into the office. During Easter break as a bunch of murdered women with red hair are being killed and buried in cemeteries. This is the fourth story in the series that features DCI Ryan and his team and the first book I’ve read by this author. I wasn’t sure of some of the characters background and history throughout the book. But I did pick up the story quickly. The book ends at a cliffhanger I quite liked the story and found Ryan and his team very interesting. I would most certainly read the rest of this series. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Mild language, sexual activity
Leave Me My Convictions Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult OK Mild language
Jessie Salisbury 20th Century It is 1973.
LJ Ross Suspense/Crime He’ll make you his angel, but first you have to die... After a turbulent time, DCI Ryan’s life is finally returning to normal and he’s looking forward to spending an uneventful Easter bank holiday weekend with his fiancée.
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The Vietnam War is dividing the country, college campuses are being disrupted, and families are being torn apart by dissension. Even love is being questioned. Earl, totally against the war and tired of arguing with his traditional-minded family, wants to stay in school and pursue his degree, but he can’t. Shortly after their last heated argument, his father died of a heart attack, and they are all blaming him because of his involvement with the campus unrest....
Uncaged Review: Set in the early 1970’s, with the protests on campuses and the draft in place for the Vietnam War, Earl leaves college and takes over the log running job that his father did when he passed away suddenly. Earl is trying to prove to himself and his family, that he can be worth more than believe of him. This started out very slow and even though it never picked up any speed, it did get more interesting the more I learned of Earl and his family. I never felt connected to Earl and what he was trying to accomplish and why his family was so against his beliefs. I grew up in the 70’s myself, and Earl was no troublemaker even by a stretch. But I did get engaged, and it was a well written book. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: New Adult OK No major warnings
Donna Steele Paranormal Romance When Dusty Williams walks into a strange bar to contemplate the ruination of his career, the last thing he expects to find is a compelling woman. He’s not even in the mood for a onenight stand. He just wants to escape from all humanity. Dee Stevens can’t believe she’s in a bar at all. She’s just lost two patients due to drunk driving. Whatever could have drawn her into a strange bar tonight, of all times? When the two meet, and they feel an odd vibration that seems to pull them together, they have no idea what’s ahead, or behind, them . . . and what it can mean for mankind.
Uncaged Review: Dusty and Dee are perfect strangers who hit it off on night in a bar. After a one night stand Dee is driving Dusty to the airport for a business meeting when they crash and are thrown into another time period. Believe they ended up here for a reason, they begin putting their skills to the use of the town. This is book one in the series Featuring Dusty and Dee and the way it ends we are surely going to be seeing more of them. I for one love this storyline and found what they accomplished in this story amazing. A very entertaining read can’t wait to see what’s next in store for them. Reviewed By Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sexual activity, language
Charlie Cochrane Historical Regency/Gay The Shade on a Fine Day: Curate William Church may set the hearts of the parish’s young ladies aflame, but he doesn’t want their affection or presents, no matter how much they want to give them to him. He has his sights set elsewhere, for a love he’s not allowed to indulge. One night, eight for dinner at the Canon’s table means the potential arrival of a ghost. But what message will the spirit bring and which of the young men around the table is it for? The Angel in the Window: Two officers, one ship, one common enemy. Alexander Porterfield may be one of the rising stars of the British navy, but his relationship with his first lieutenant, Tom Anderson, makes him vulnerable. To blackmail, to anxieties about exposure—and to losing Tom, either in battle or to another ship. When danger comes more from the English than the French, where should a man turn? Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews Uncaged Review: Two completely different stories set in historical times. Story one features Curate William Church despite all the women falling for him, he’s only interested in one young man who he must not fall in love with. The other story features two officers of a ship in the British Navy. But his relationship with Tom must be kept a secret or cost them both - deadly I really enjoyed this book as it focused on love and the message that you can’t help who you love be it man or woman and the cost they will go to prove their love. The first story was my favorite to read in this book. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sexual activity, M/M
One Night in Minneapolis Margie Church Contemporary Romance/ Erotica
Marine Major Skylar Landis doesn’t resemble the demure Catholic high school girl Vince Andersen once knew. They’d dated briefly until she’d patch things up with his nemesis, Ethan Standfeld. After school, she joined the Marines and they’d lost touch
Uncaged Review: Marine Major Skylar hooks up with an old high school flame Vince. She only has a short time until she’s deployed back to the Middle East. So they agree to some no strings attached sex. After a short time Vince falls for Skylar even though she has to go back to work. This was a short sweet sexy romance with a little insight into how people make relationships work while being abroad for work. Reviewed by Jennifer 112 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sexual activity
Tiffany Reisz Paranormal Erotica Mona Lisa St. James made a deathbed promise that she would do anything to save her mother’s art gallery. Unfortunately, not only is The Red painted red, but it’s in the red. Just as she realizes she has no choice but to sell it, a mysterious man comes in after closing time and makes her an offer: He will save The Red if she agrees to submit to him for the period of one year. The man is handsome, English, and terribly tempting...but surely her mother didn’t mean for Mona to sell herself to a stranger. Then again, she did promise to do anything to save The Red...
iUncaged Review: Mona takes over her Mother’s Art Gallery after her death. But the debt is showing The Red in extreme debt. So when Mona is approached by a mysterious handsome man with a business proposal that will save Mona’s gallery, she agrees only not realizing that she will be in over her head in a sexual frenzy. This was an interesting read and had a good twist in the tale concerning the handsome stranger. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, language
Dirty 30, Vol. 2 Rose Caraway Erotica
The Sexy Librarian, Rose Caraway returns with another Library of Erotica, just for you. From Torrid Literature to BDSM, Fairy Tales to Orgies, Clandestine Military Adventures to Bi-Curious Rendezvous, this adventurous, and fantasy-filled collection is here to turn you on. So grab your partner and peruse the card catalog and see which sexy story catches your interest first. This is your very own, hand-held library! Explore this volume of Erotica to your libido’s content.
Uncaged Review: A collection of sexy erotica stories featuring all sorts of interesting delights. From sexy car repair men, to fairytale classics like The Snow Queen. There should be something for everyone in this book. No need to read in order be a little naughty and read what you want to first and enjoy. Reviewed by Jennifer
asked. In a cat and mouse chase through foreign lands and on home soil, Lexi finds herself caught up in a world of crime and punishment, where the cost of curiosity may just be her very life. Uncaged Review: After the cliffhanger of book one featuring Mr Landon Miller, we dive straight in with book two and The mystery of Landon. And the horrible Alistair who claimed Landon as his own sub like years before. Lexi travels to Italy to bring back Landon, will she succeed? This is a awesome read and leaves you on a roller coaster of emotions. I’m desperate to find out what is to happen to Lexi and Mr Miller. Can’t wait until book three is out. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Adult situations, no major warnings
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, language
Bound R.M. Gauthier Suspense/Thriller The Mystery of Landon Miller deepens… Landon’s abrupt departure from Alexandria’s living room, and her life, leaves her feeling abandoned and more determined than ever to rescue the man she loves. Teaming up with her best friend and an unlikely accomplice, Lexi travels across the world, seeking answers to questions that are better left unIssue 14 | September 2017 |
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Feast Thomas S. Flowers Horror/Gay Between the rural Texas towns of Bass and Sat is the most popular barbecue restaurant in America. Big Butts Bar-B-Que has been the seat of power for the Fleming family since the Great Depression, but when tragedy and scandal beset Titus and his transgender son Lavinia, deals are made to keep control of the restaurant. An arrangement that will put a father at odds with not only his legacy but his heir. As the table is set, who will hold the keys to the barbecue kingdom?
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Feast by Thomas Flowers is a disturbing story centering around 2 families in Texas. It’s violent from beginning to end and I enjoyed it immensely. At just a smidge over 100 pages, it’s a quick and easy read, and it is the type of story that is difficult to put down because it moves so quickly. This story is crazy. The son of one family wronged the daughter of another family. Her family is determined to ruin his family business despite the fact they had nothing to do with it and were trying to work with them. Her mother is a horrible person and her brothers are just as bad if not worse. They are all seriously screwed up in the head. The violence in Feast is quite gruesome. An extremely violent rape scene made me sick to my stomach but was, unfortunately, necessary for the story. This book is also quite gory. I hate that Titus’s family has been through so much but I really like how he handled things.
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Feast is the first book by Thomas Flowers I have read and I look forward to reading more from him. I can see why this book is considered “extreme horror.” I recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read and has a strong stomach. Be prepared for violence galore but if you are easily triggered you should probably skip this one.
Snafu Fubar Bob Dixon Humor *****WARNING***** If you are easily offended, then this is NOT the book for you. Please put it down and back away slowly. However, if you have a warped sense of humor, please read on. In the town of Lost Hope, Florida reside two heroes unlike any others. These champions of justice go by the names of Snafu Fubar and General Nuisance. Nightly they patrol their fine city to protect it from evil’s grasp. And by ‘patrol’ we mean they sit on a porch, appropriately nicknamed ‘The Fucking Nuisance Cave’, drinking beers, smoking cigars, and talking about sex.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Snafu Fubar is a ridiculous book. Seriously. It’s ridiculously hilarious. Absolutely unique in every imaginable way, this book will keep you shaking your head and laughing at the same time. If you are easily offended, please don’t bother with this book. It’s not for you. It is in no way possible meant to be taken seriously, so please only read it if you have a good sense of humor. You will never see this book in Oprah’s book club, but it is definitely worth the read for a few hours of toilet humor (which is my favorite kind). Snafu Fubar and General Nuisance are the epitome of offensive douchebags, but for some reason, are loveable at the same time. Cigars, sex, and booze are their main interests but have convinced themselves they are somehow protecting their town. They really are a hot mess. They are definitely what you would consider “unlikely heroes” To be honest, these guys remind me of people I knew growing up, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I was raised on a military base, so there’s that lol. They are easy to relate to, and their conversations are pretty epic. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good laugh.
Vinnie and Mook, Hitmen for Horror, The Boss’ Cut Mitch Hyman Horror Sunshine, ocean breezes, umbrella drinks...and voodoo, zombies, vampires and Hitmen. What more could you want? Vinnie and Testeroni and Morris “Mook” Chichinski were two of the most respected- and feared- Hit men around. Vinnie: the proud Sicilanu (Sicilian). Call him and “Italian” and it was your only - and last- mistake. No questions asked. Mook: the son of a Jewish Miami hooker and a mob wiseguy. Call him a “bastard” and it would be your only - and last - mistake. One he had his long and painful “fun” with you. Like ham on a bagel, they broke the rules - but that’s what made them the only hope for a frantic New York mobster. “Fat Shelly” Wasserman, a racketeer, whose daughter was gone and feared kidnapped. His last message from her was all he had to go on: a photo. One minute, she was a university student in the Big Apple. The next, she was being photographed deep in the West Indies-- a most unusual photograph. It was a new style Polaroid photo of the sun drenched girl looking like the hadn’t a care in the world and of two men next to her. That was the unusual part -- either the sun was too bright or the camera was too old, because the men looked so ghostly, that they were almost blurs. But the truth was far older - and worse- than just a photo taken with a camera of all things. Had
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Fat Shelly known it, he would have called his worst enemies, the authorities, instead of his biggest enemies, Vinnie and Mook. From their aptly named shop they retired to as Key West fishing outfitters, ‘Too Tough to Tackle’, to a centuries-old New World horror, they would soon learn that not everything alive you kill stays dead- or was never alive in the first place. And in this edition you also get the original popular “Vinnie and Mook” Novella, “Swallowed Hook, Line and...” which sets the stage and introduces the boys and some very unusual new friends for the full length Novel also contained herein
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Vinnie and MookHitman for Horror by Mitch Hyman is actually 2 books in one. It contains both Hitmen in Paradise and the novella Hook, Line, and Sinker. Vinnie and Mook are totally different characters from what I’m used to reading. It seems like no matter what they do or where they go, they always run into something supernatural. They are just trying to do their “job.” I really like Vinnie and Mook as characters. They are stereotypical hitmen who kill people, but they still have standards. They are easy to relate to and I became quite attached to them both. They are also quite funny. Their banter is very entertaining. This is the first book I’ve read by Mitch Hyman and it certainly won’t be the last. He is a great storyteller and writes in a way where the reader can see and follow everything in that world. I recommend this book to anyone looking for something a
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little different from your typical monster books.
Z-Children: The Rising Eli Constant & BV Barr Thriller/Horror Z Children #3: The Rising - Follow Juan’s group as they traverse the dangerous and challenging landscape of the U.S., meeting monsters both dead and alive. A quick stop at a gas station escalates into a bloody gang scene. An established fort hides horrendous, less-thanhumane secrets. And the death of someone close leaves the group emotionally shattered. “Eli Constant & B.V. Barr don’t shy away from exploring the true depth of evil that grows during a zombie apocalypse.”
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: To be honest, I’m really not even sure what to say about Z Children 3: The Rising by Eli Constant and B.V. Barr. I love this series so much that each book has its own life. There are 2 main things that stood out to me the most for this book. The emotional intensity and the imagery. Constant and Barr create some of the most brilliantly disgusting and disturbing imagery I’ve ever read. Their ability to paint that graphic illusion of horror is amazing. When I read, it’s like watching a movie in my head. When I read their books, it’s like watching a horror movie that makes me want to barf and smile at the same time.
Z Children 3 has seriously intense moments. One thing I have come to expect from these authors is their ability to create extremely emotional scenes without overdoing things. There were times while I was reading that I got odd looks from people around me because I was talking to the book. I guess that’s not really anything new for me but it can be entertaining to see the looks on their faces. There isn’t a whole lot I can say about the storyline contents themselves because I don’t want to give away any of what happens. Each book focuses on a specific group while at the same time introducing us to new ideas. Book 3 focuses on Juan, Sherry, Marty, and Frank the dog. We are also briefly introduced to Bethany, and I am very interested in where her story goes next. Overall, this was a great story, as usual. If you haven’t started this series, you most definitely should. It’s easy to become attached to the characters and relate to their situations to some degree.
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews
Extinction Horizon Nicholas Sansbury Smith Horror/Post-Apocalyptic Master Sergeant Reed Beckham has led his Delta Force Team, codenamed Ghost, through every kind of hell imaginable and never lost a man. When a top secret Medical Corps research facility goes dark, Team Ghost is called in to face their deadliest enemy yet--a variant strain of Ebola that turns men into monsters. Myra’s Review: Master Sergeant Brett Beckham and his Delta team are tasked with checking out a Medical Corps facility and bringing back a sample of a doctor’s work. No one has heard from Dr. Medford at the research center for two days. He found a breakthrough for a possible cure for a deadly new Ebola strain. Or so he reported. When Brett and his team travel deep into the secret facility, they encounter monsters; men mutated into vicious non-human beasts. After half his team is wiped out and no sample extracted of the disease, Beckham is furious. What exactly did the General send them to investigate and why weren’t they properly forewarned? What they don’t know in the beginning is that Dr. 118 | UncagedBooks.com
Medford merged the Ebola virus with formula VX99, a concoction created during the Vietnam War to turn men into super soldiers. Only it turned them into violent, killer/cannibals. Brett’s team rescue several scientists, including Kate, a beautiful woman. She is the hope for the future, the only scientist left who is closest to finding a cure for the new mutated disease. While Kate can’t cure those already infected, she comes up with a way to wipe them out. Unfortunately, 8-10% of the infected don’t die; only making them more deadly. At the end of the story, the remaining governments of the world order gas dropped in cities, with Kate’s “death cure”. Then they begin formulating plans to send in troops to kill the infected still “alive”. I can’t wait to read the 2nd in this series, where the new war will be in full throttle. Highly recommended for zombie fans. Note: The disease is described in depth and a lot of detail. The author did his work on disease parameters.
Shadowchild Matthew Williams Thriller In 1629 something visited the parish of Feckenham. The events that followed were so terrifying that they never gained their place in the history books. Now in 2008, something seems to be wrong with Marie Watson’s young children. Her father won’t believe her and her mother is nearing the end of her tether. Marie feels utterly alone. But is she? Myra’s Review: This novel is set in Britain, an element I always enjoy in a book. In 1629 an evil pervades the townspeople of Bennett’s Bower. Those possessed are violent and cannibalistic.
tions of a rape/orgy of an elderly woman (including two clergymen and a doctor, controlled by the entity; who were rapists and victims) were violent and abhorrent, but central to the woman’s tragic history. The situation in the church at the end was very disturbing. It was hard for me to reconcile that both the Reverend and his son acted so selfishly in sacrificing all church members. Finally, we discover the evil deeds are being orchestrated by a unique entity, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for readers. After all the horror ended, Commissioner Howard wanted a scapegoat to blame, targeting Helen and Danny. It was funny that the evil entity flipped the tables on the Commissioner. The story line includes some harsh situations involving religion and believers, so this may not be a book Christians would enjoy. If a reader does not mind the above mentioned elements, plus multiple brutal rapes, it is worth checking out.
Flash forward to present day where the story centers around Marie and her young daughter, Preeti. There are strange occurrences in Marie’s home and she has a feeling her daughter is involved somehow. People start committing violent acts in the community; including extreme violence, sexual depravity, cannibalism and murder. Officer Helen and Danny investigate the disappearance of Preeti and stumble upon increasing scenes of escalating horror. I enjoyed the developing relationship between the two police officers. The beginning grabbed my attention right off, and the end took me on a creepy journey of discovery, but the middle dragged. As a horror reader I could have done with fewer interactions between characters and more encounters with the vile being at the center of the story. Note: There are explicit sex scenes. Also, the descripIssue 14 | September 2017 |
Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews THEM: Counter Action M.D. Massey Post Apocalyptic/SciFi The stunning third installment in M.D. Massey’s Paranormal Zombie Apocalypse series! Scratch has been through hell surviving the apocalypse—attacked by a werewolf, brutally beaten and left for dead, and finally, infected with deader venom. But nothing prepared him for this... The vamps just can’t leave well enough alone. First they brought a zombie apocalypse down on our heads. We survived that. Damned few of us made it, but somehow we pulled through. Now they’ve pulled the werewolves into it, by getting the Pack to do their dirty work. Worst part is, they took my Kara, along with the rest of the townsfolk. At least, those who survived the attack. Myra’s Review: We pick up with Scratch heading out to rescue his girlfriend Kara from the Corridor werewolves. Gabby and Bobby are on mission with him, and saving the kidnapped townspeople is one their goals as well. The friends encounter an interesting group of young men dressed in Medieval fashion. The teens also walk-the-walk; speaking in Renaissance style language and using weapons appropriate to the period. It reminded me of Ezekiel in The Walking Dead, though there wasn’t pure imitation. Scratch devises a plan to take out a good chunk of the werewolves with explosives. The rest were hand-to-hand, teeth/claws fighting. Scratch is aided by an old friend, Colin, and new compadres, a Jewish rabbi plus the Golem he created. Joseph, 120 | UncagedBooks.com
the giant Golem, was a fascinating character. As the story progresses we discover more about the paranormal creatures and where they came from – hell. For millennia, beasts such as werewolves and vampires have slipped through the partially opened portal. Zombies, featured more in the first book, also made it into our world. The small team of friends are literally in a race against time when they discover the portal is about to be busted wide-open. It was sad that Kara had been coerced into the ranks of the paranormal creatures, but it was great that she took down the powerful vampire in charge. Though he and Kara’s relationship seems doomed, Scratch carries hope that one day the vampire infection can be purged from his lady love. If you are a THEM fan, don’t miss this 3rd installment in the series. Recommended for readers who enjoy kick-ass characters who are well-developed; fighting through a world infested with zombies, werewolves, vampires and other creatures.
The Apocalypse Peter Meredith Post Apocalyptic/Horror If you love a bloody good Zombie adventure, don’t miss The Apocalypse! Greed, terrorism, and simple bad luck conspire to bring mankind to its knees as a viral infection spreads out of control, reducing those infected to undead horrors that feed upon the rest. It’s a time of misery and death for most, however there are some who are lucky, some who are ruthless, and some who are just too damned tough to go down without a fight. This is their story. Myra’s Review: Terrorists spread a deadly virus, turning humans into zombies. It expands rapidly, and it doesn’t help that the President doesn’t believe in full engagement of the military. It was no surprise who was hinted at as our Commander-in-Chief. Ramirez (Ram) is a DEA agent, tough and good at his job. He’s tasked with helping hunt down the terrorists who started the virus. As things escalate out of control and whole Army units are overrun, Ram plunges into a cowardly spiral. I believe he got hit with PTSD. We meet Neil, a small stature businessman who hasn’t a clue how to survive, but he learns fast. In spite of Neil being a Metro Male and his lack of survival skills, he never gives up. Once he takes teenager Sadie under his wing, plus the beautiful Sarah, Neil will do anything to protect and provide for them. This was my favorite character. Sarah gets involved with a Colonel for protection and some disgusting situations evolve. Though she thought her fighting skills were nonexistent, Sarah puts up an amazing effort to protect her parents. Sadie is a cheeky, tough teen and I loved the daughter/dad relationship that grew between her and Neil. Ram meets Cassie first, while hanging out with gangsters. Next, he runs into Julia, a kind, lovely woman. She
was way too PC toward Cassie and some really bad predicaments developed. I really did not like Cassie and thought they should have gotten rid of her after the first act of violence she committed against the small group. Although there is plenty of action and fighting, this is a very character driven story. The author’s warning should be heeded. There are elements some will call racists, but I understood the reasoning behind the characters as depicted. There were events I found unpleasant concerning female characters. I do agree with the author that many women would have to fall back to living in the world of “caveman mentality” in order to survive; ie, depending on men to protect them. While it’s fun to read kick-ass female characters, in reality in an apocalypse, those would be few and far between.
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Dark Web Rising Eugene T Schurter SciFi For most people, today is just another day. Nothing special or extraordinary will happen… unless your name is Stewart Breston. In that case, today is not just another day, it’s the biggest day of your life. This is the day you inadvertently hack a secret government agency, and in so doing become a fugitive on the run. Even with unexpected help it doesn’t take long to realize there is nowhere to hide, at least, nowhere on Earth. But then again, Earth isn’t looking that promising right now anyway… Amy’s Review: Great story The jargon is a little tough if you’re not a computer hacker or programmer, but the story is interesting. I like that it’s a fast-paced story and it’s a wonderful journey and very adventurous. The story is believable and well written, though a few errors, it wasn’t hard to follow. Good read.
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Darkshine R.D. Vallier Dark Fantasy Miriam always knew something wasn’t quite right with her life, but it isn’t until a clash with the supernatural that she discovers her entire existence is built upon lies. Now two magical beings are promising the truth. One problem: Only one version is correct and each insists the other will bring her destruction. When Miriam discovers secrets that can destroy her husband’s political campaign, she finds the strength to escape his abuse and seek her true and magical birthright. But he refuses to lose his wife so easily, and will hunt her down to assure his secrets are never exposed Amy’s Review: Leaves the reader wondering It’s not a typical story about good and evil, truth and lies, and that’s what brings this story together. I liked the plot and how the characters were involved with each other. Miriam had a lot self-esteem issues, but that’s what gives her a more depth of character. She is one of those characters that the reader can just relate to, but there are times when she is a little annoying, too much self-doubt, but it works for her and the story. A very well written story and I look forward to reading more by Vallier.
Tarnished Gold Lynn Thompson Fantasy/Young Adult When Sam first met Jamie in Sterling, she was homeless, dressed in rags, and a mess. She had no memory of her parents or where she came from. Jamie couldn’t imagine throwing Sam back out on the street, so Jamie took her in and made her part of the family. Now, with Jamie gone on vacation, Sam is left to her own devices.
Amy’s Review: Magnificent read! Sam is struggling, even more so now that she has a family. She’s just dealing with not remembering parts of her life. Thompson writes this story well, and in different POVs, it brings a unique look into Sam’s life. With spells and magic, and new friends, Sam is a new person. She grows as a character, and has a back story that is a major part of the current story. Im a fan of Thompson, and this book is the best one of hers that I’ve read so far.
The Tree Rebels Chantelle Atkins SciFi/Dystopian It’s 2145. 13-year-old Lissie Turner lives in the peaceful community of Province 5. Everyone is provided for and everyone is grateful. Everyone obeys the rules. Lissie has never questioned her society until she falls into a daydream and wanders beyond the fence that keeps them safe. She finds an apple tree which changes her life and threatens to blow her world apart. Growing food has been forbidden since the last war ended 70 years ago. All food is raised under the Domes... Amy’s Review: Timeless It’s in the future, but the future is not so far off. It’s one of those stories that you can’t put down until the end. You read it, reread it and feel satisfied and content at the end. Rules and rebellion, and questioning life. Lissie is a young character in a very grown up work, and something changes her life. The premise makes you think and wonder, and the story keeps you connected until the end.
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Friend Khadija Styles Fiction FRIEND is a story about a set of girlfriends who start out inseparable but are slowly torn apart by jealousy, betrayal, and lies from the inside out. The story is told from the perspective of Bonnie, whose friendships are the center of her life for the moment. Her friends are Cora (the good girl), Leena (the giver of good advice but never the user), Jenelle and Jayna a.k.a. “the Twinzies” (and double trouble), and Hazel (the dime piece whose beauty is, unfortunately, often overshadowed by her selfish ways)... Amy’s Review: Filled with Drama There is a fine line between friends and enemies, and usually someone has to be friends before they can be true enemies. This story is filled with drama and secrets, and the strain that can come between a group of friends. It’s well written and it keeps the reader engaged. The chemistry between the characters bring out the true connection and depth of the friendship.
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The Geyser Girl of Yellowstone Park Myrtle Brooks Historical Western In Yellowstone National Park, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a girl of mysterious origins is adopted from infancy by Old Faithful geyser, and by a mother buffalo named Bearer of Song. Beloved to all the park, Flower of the Steam Basin grows up with their stories, proverbial sayings and teachings.... Amy’s Review: Connection with oneself and nature This is a mythical and magical story and it was well written. This is the first book I’ve read by Brooks, and she has a way with words. It’s filled with other story of those that linger in the Park. It’s a very unique story and embraces nature and the lore of the Geyser Girl. One of those that you don’t put down until the end, and it makes the reader feel good for reading it.
The Infinite League John Yeko Jr. Fantasy Emily Watts had always wanted to be a police officer, just like her father. For her, the police are the real heroes of the world. Not those people that fly above her head every day, flaunting their special abilities and gifts and making ordinary people feel so inconsequential. ... Amy’s Review: Gripping and compelling! It’s all about how a story is told and how the story plays out, and of course, the characters. The characters have a great depth, especially Emily, who is the main character and in deep turmoil. She has an interesting backstory that plays very well with her current predicament. She can either lie or go to prison. I like how this story was written and told, and it is filled with twists that are unpredictable. One minute you think she’s going to do one thing, and then something else happens. I really enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more of Yeo’s work.
The Magician’s Workshop Volume 2 Hansen & Fehr Fantasy/Young Adult n Volume Two, the Festival of Stars has finally arrived, and the Color Ceremony is about to commence. As children from all over the islands gather to stand before a puller, one question remains: who will have a Color, and who will be found void? ... Amy’s Review: A magical (pun intended) sequel enjoyed the first book in the series, and was introduced to the myriad of great characters, but that book set the tone for this one, which has more depth and action than the first one. The reader gets taken on a mysterious and magical journey and was wonderfully written. Hansen and Fehr make a great author duo, and hope there is more to come. I enjoyed the story and the premise of both books. It may be slated for young adults, but it’s great for those of us who are or want to be young at heart. The colors are front and center and still have a major impact of the characters. I enjoyed this book more than the first one, but both were excellent.
Issue 14 | September 2017 |
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September 2017, Issue 14 Featuring authors, Deborah Wilde, Anna Lowe, Mary Morgan, Carissa Lynch, Sarah Northwood, Ginger Ring, JS Marlo an...
Published on Sep 1, 2017
September 2017, Issue 14 Featuring authors, Deborah Wilde, Anna Lowe, Mary Morgan, Carissa Lynch, Sarah Northwood, Ginger Ring, JS Marlo an...