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ISSUE 21 | APRIL 2018


cont featureauthors

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Mary Lancaster

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Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from River City Dead • Review

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from The Wicked Marquis • Review

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Katherine Bone

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Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpts from The Regent’s Revenge Series • Reviews

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Terri Osburn

Melissa Keir Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Broken Dreams • Review

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Ravin Tija Maurice Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Prophecy Girl • Review

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Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Falling Star • Review

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Nancy G. West

Lee Ann Ward Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from See • Review

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Isobel Blackthorn

Previews of The Legacy of Old Gran Parks & Cabin Sessions


tents catchup 18

Issue 21 | APRIL 2018

FangFreakinTastic Tessa McFionn

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Back in Uncaged and promoting her latest release, To Discover a Divine. A SciFi worth a read.

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Richard Godwin

Stay Connected • Excerpt from Android Love, Human Skin

Christine Rees Christine lets us know what’s been happening since she was a Feature Author in Uncaged.

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CiCi Cordelia Preview of The Substitute Wife, releasing May 9, 2018 Pre-order available

promospecials 74 4 5 82 92 96 100 104 106

2018 Special Promotion

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

Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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from the

editor’s desk

Welcome to Issue 21, April 2018 - Uncaged Book Reviews! Our Feature Authors this month we welcome Mary Lancaster, Katherine Bone, Terri Osburn, Melissa Keir, Ravin Tija Maurice, Nancy G. West & Lee Ann Ward!

FangFreakinTastic is also bringing us a feature with author Richard Godwin A special thank you to Katherine Bone, who treated us to not one, but THREE excerpts from her Regent Revenge series.

and that I ask that the authors share the magazine with their networks. Read about that HERE. Uncaged is supported through advertising, both in the magazine, and on the site. Please see the Advertising tab on the site for more information on how you can advertise in the magazine and support the Uncaged mission to promote authors.

All inquiries: UncagedBooks@gmail.com or Cyrene@UncagedBooks.com So thank you and enjoy the April 2018 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews!

We have plenty of reviews for you to look over from Uncaged, Fang-Freakin-Tastic, Myra’s Horror Blog, Amy’s Bookshelf, Jen’s Reviews and Sweet Southern Reviews. Thanks to all the affiliates for the wonderful devotion to reading. The Uncaged website now has a video playlist of some of the tunes I listened to as I put together the magazine, be warned, I have eclectic tastes in music. :) And for March, I went country. 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. Uncaged Feature Authors are now full through June 2018! We will be featuring several authors over the next few months that are attending the Wild Deadwood Reads convention in June! The Featured Authors that are promoted in Uncaged, is a FREE service to authors. The only requirements being that Uncaged has read at least one of the author’s books, (can be read right before the feature)

UncagedBooks.com


Blog Roll Call Contributors, Advertising Swaps

Follow Uncaged on Facebook

Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.

A blog for horror fans. Uncaged review contributors.

A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.

Help for authors and businesses.

If you’d like your banner here, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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showcase

CiCi Cordelia

by stagecoach with young daughter Adeline in tow. When this lovely, soiled dove brings devastating news and a written plea from Jenny to marry and care for Retta and little Addie, what’s a good man to do? RETTA . . .

CiCi Cordelia is the pen name for the writing team of BFFs Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko. Published authors in their own right, they share a love for well-written stories infused with their favorite romantic genres: paranormal, suspense, and erotica. Both are fans of Alpha Men and the women they’d lay down their lives for. As a writing team, they bring a solid know-how for accomplishing the foundation of what makes a great romance read: a strong story, a passionate romance, fascinating characters, and a happy-everafter ending. CiCi can be found: https://ccromance.com & www. facebook.com/HeartfeltRomance

The Substitute Wife CiCi Cordelia Historical Western Releases May 9 HARRISON . . . Once his fortune in silver mining is secured, Harrison Carter finally sends back home for his fiancée. It’s been four years since he’s seen Jenny. But it’s Retta Pierce, Jenny’s sister, who arrives 8| uncagedbooks.com |

Fulfilling her dying sister’s request, Retta travels across dangerous territory to marry a man she barely remembers. But the hard miner who meets her at the stagecoach surely isn’t the same one her sister claimed was kind and honorable, a gentleman who’ll embrace her and her daughter as if they were his own. Has she made a mistake she’ll pay for, the rest of her life? TWO PEOPLE . . . Thrown together in shared sorrow, Harrison and Retta struggle to forge a life in the brand-new state of late-nineteenth-century Colorado. Chicago, Illinois March, 1878 The earsplitting whistle made Retta Pierce choke up as she hugged her sister goodbye on the train platform. Jenny’s slight frame trembled in her grip, and Retta fought back her worry. Too thin. Too frail. Shoulders drooping, as though too heavy to hold up. “There must be a better way, Jenny,” Retta murmured, stricken. “It’s just not right—” Her sister’s features took on that stubborn look Retta knew so well, indicating there’d be no changing her mind. “And what would be right, Retta? For Papa to really hurt you the next time he feels the urge to beat the devil from your soul? For him to finally slip and hit Addie?” Tipping up Retta’s chin with two shaking fingers, she smiled gently. “That darling girl is the best thing that ever happened to this family, no matter how her skunk of a father ran off and left you.”


Jenny glanced over to where their Aunt Millie stood under the metal portico, holding two-year-old Adeline in her arms. The desolate flapping of a loosened, rusty panel, noisily vibrating in the chilly breeze, only added to the solemnness of the day. Moisture gave a sad sheen to her aunt’s eyes as she cuddled the toddler closer. Retta’s sigh was as broken as her heart. “No, of course not. But to leave you when you need me the most . . . Please, Jenny. Don’t ask.” The dark circles around Jenny’s blue eyes gave her complexion a grayish cast. She shouldn’t be standing out in the wind like this, as sick as she was. She could barely stay upright. But Retta knew all too well her sister’s inner core of strength, because Jenny was cut from the same cloth as their beloved mother, gone three years now. “Mama wouldn’t want me to desert you,” Retta began, only to be silenced by her sister’s dismissive wave of one skeletal hand. “Mama would do exactly what I’m doing.” She shoved a wrinkled pouch into Retta’s shabby reticule, ignoring her protests. “Take it. You think I would leave Mama’s rubies to rot in Papa’s strongbox?” She snorted weakly, but her disdain was evident. “It’s your future, darling.” Her voice dropped to a wisp. “It’s my legacy to you.” Fighting back tears, Retta held on to her sister’s fingers when she would have pulled away. “You can’t go back. Papa will know you took Mama’s necklace, and will beat you for it.” She gripped her bag between whitened knuckles, then gasped at the clinking sound coming from within. “Are those coins? Jenny, where did you get them?” Jenny drew herself up, straightening her shoulders, and for a shining moment Retta saw her sister as she’d been, before consumption ravaged her body. “My dowry. Yours, now.” She patted the reticule in Retta’s fist. “There’s a letter folded inside with the coins. You take that letter to Harrison. It explains everything. Tell him I wish for him a happy life. Tell him I’m sorry.” She dashed wispy locks of dull-brown hair off her perspiring forehead. “I’m going to stay with Aunty until, well, until . . .” Her chin firmed. “I will be safe and wellcared for. By the time Papa sobers up enough to realize

we both left him, it’ll be too late to do anything about it.” A rambunctious boy bumped them as he sprinted across the wooden platform to keep up with his family. “Oh, Jenny,” Retta murmured sadly, steadying her sister when she nearly lost her footing. Retta blinked away fresh tears as Jenny gave her hand a final squeeze, before she eased away. Aunt Millie transferred Retta’s sleepy daughter into her arms then whispered in her ear, “I know, child. She wouldn’t admit anything but I know how sick our Jenny is. I’m taking her back to Dewfield with me. I promise you I will never say a thing to your father, and I’ll care for her faithfully.” “You’ll keep in touch? You’ll write?” Retta clung to her aunt’s vow, even as everything inside her demanded she remain to care for Jenny herself. “Yes, indeed. Have no worries.” Millie curled a supporting arm around Jenny’s thin shoulders. “I’d best be getting you back to the house, darling girl. A nice cup of cocoa and a nap will do you wonders. Just you wait and see.” An errant tear tracked down Jenny’s pale cheek that she quickly batted away before offering an encouraging smile. “Harrison is a good man, Retta. Be happy. All I want for you and Addie is to have a good life. Promise me you’ll give him a chance.” Retta’s stomach clenched with fear and uncertainty, even as she hesitantly agreed. For the love of her sister, she’d acquiesce to her final wish. Though it’d been four years since Jenny had last seen her fiancé. Who knew what kind of man he was now? Jenny traced a slender finger down Retta’s cheek. “I love you, little sister.” Blinking through a flood of tears that fell silently against the top of her sleeping daughter’s head, Retta whispered, “I love you, Jenny. I’ll hold you in my Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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heart forever.” There were no final goodbyes, just an assortment of promises and encouraging murmurs, before Aunt Millie guided Jenny from the platform, toward a waiting hackney. Struggling for composure, Retta held Addie close. As the March wind whipped around her ears, she watched them go until their figures merged into a single, blurred image, and the train whistle blew its final, ‘All Aboard’ warning. Only then did she allow the conductor to help her with her baggage. Harrison had reserved a sleeper for Jenny, an extravagance to be sure, but safer for a woman traveling alone. What will he do when I arrive instead? Blinking furiously, Retta guided Addie through the doorway. Inside the cramped compartment, she laid the sleepy child on the narrow bed and covered her with the only blanket she could find. Addie cuddled into a ball, snoring lightly. Retta brushed the tangled golden curls from her fair brow, trying to envision what sort of future awaited them out West. Love for her child stiffened her spine. Her baby—her world. I’ll make a better life for you, I promise. Even if she had to travel halfway across the country and marry a stranger to do it.

Read the Uncaged Review of The Substitute Wife in the Review Section.

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feature authors

historical | contemporary western romance

Mary

Lancaster

Katherine Bone

Terri

Osburn

Melissa Keir


feature author Mary Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grownup kids and a small, crazy dog. Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler. Her most recent books are light, fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.

Stay Connected

Uncaged welcomes Mary Lancaster! Uncaged: The Wicked Marquis is the fifth book in the Blackhaven Brides series. Can you tell readers more about the series? Blackhaven Brides is a light, fun Regency romance series set in a newly fashionable spa town by the sea in the very north of England. Here, the visiting great and the bad of Regency society turn local life upside down with romance, adventure and mystery. And many HEAs :) Uncaged: How many books are you planning for the series? There will be at least 9 altogether. Book 6, The Wicked Governess should come out some time in April.

MaryLancaster.com Newsletter

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Uncaged: When I read historicals, I am always amazed at the level of research the authors have to do to keep them as authentic as possible. How much research time is involved with writing a historical for you? It depends on the story. I have written historical novels that have needed a LOT of research, not just on background, but on actual people (such as Vlad the Impaler and Hereward the Wake) and details of historical events about which there might be very little written,


or there might tons of information to plough through. Because it’s set in a fictitious town, the Blackhaven Brides series isn’t too heavy on research time, because most of what I need is background information that can be reused – clothes and customs etc, plus odd questions that crop up when I’m writing. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them? I do read them, avidly! And gratefully, for the most part :). I can’t help being deliriously happy over the favourable ones, and utterly downhearted over the negatives. Some people have advised me not to read reviews for the sake of my sanity, but actually I find them helpful in giving me an overall feel for what people like in the books, and what they don’t. Not that I change my style, story or anything else on the basis of one review! But something picked up by several might make me rethink for the future. Uncaged: Can you tell us what you have coming up next? Well, there’s The Wicked Governess, and then 3 more Blackhaven Brides books to come! I also have a contribution to The Marriage Maker series to come soon. And hopefully toward the end of the year, another historical novel set in Scotland.

Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? I’ve been very lucky in attracting some very kind comments about my books! But here’s a recent one on The Wicked Marquis from an Amazon reader review: “I continue to be amazed by Mary Lancaster’s writing talent! ...one of those special books that you can’t wait to read all over again, in order to savor the beauty and the sweetness of it!” How nice is that? :) Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite? I like the justification for living in my imagination :). I love writing and story-telling, so it’s my ideal job! I suppose my least favourite part is the marketing. I find it difficult and I’m not very good at it, but it is a necessary part of making a living as a writer. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Spend time with my family and friends, bingeIssue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | watch tv series or films, eat, drink, travel. And read solely for pleasure! Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book? Hmm, I’m just not consistent. I usually find at least one area of each book hard to write, but it isn’t always the same part! Sometimes, the opening just won’t work, which means the rest of the book is in trouble. Other times, I find myself floundering in the middle, or I can’t find a climactic enough finish. Or the chemistry between my characters isn’t working for me… That’s where the perspiration takes over from the inspiration! But when it works, when the characters take over and all but write the book themselves, that’s the best bit, even when they’re going in a direction I never intended :) As to how long it takes to write a book, that’s inconsistent with me, too! Including research, some books have taken me well over a year. Other books, if things are going well, I can finish in as little as 4 weeks. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d like to say a huge thank you for reading my books and allowing me to do what I love every day! Without you, there would be no point :). If you want to stay in touch – and I hope you do! – you can find me at my social media links!

Enjoy an excerpt from The Wicked Marquis The Wicked Marquis Mary Lancaster Historical Regency The lady meets her match and he’s hopelessly ineligible. Poverty stricken marquis, Lord Tamar, is regarded in Blackhaven as an amiable ec14 | UncagedBooks.com

centric and a gifted painter, rather than as a wicked man. But Tamar has secrets that he dare not reveal to anyone, let alone to the delightful Lady Serena, the Earl of Braithwaite’s sister, who suddenly lights up his world. To Serena, fed up with London etiquette and sent home to her family castle in disgrace after her engagement is broken, the fascinating Tamar is a breath of fresh air. Accepting his help with the mystery of the strange barrels in the castle cellar, she is soon in the midst of danger involving smugglers and spies and a friend’s broken heart. But it is her own heart which is in most danger, as she falls swiftly and desperately in love. And neither her family nor Tamar himself would ever countenance a marriage between them. Moreover, the marquis turns out to have committed a far more shocking crime than mere poverty. Excerpt I had a lot of fun writing this story, so it’s difficult to pick just one scene. You can read the whole of Chapter One on my website (https://www.marylancaster. com/the-wicked-marquis), but here’s a short except that’s typically Tamar – light-hearted, unconventional, and over-bold! Serena has just encountered him for the first time, while he’s trespassing, painting in the grounds of her family home. Neither is really aware of the other’s identity. “Why do you paint at the castle? There are better views in the environs of Blackhaven, surely, than this orchard.” He cast her a sardonic glance. “Did I mention the bailiffs? I’m hiding.” “Really?” she said, intrigued all over again. “Sadly, yes.”


| MARY LANCASTER | “I’ll tell them you’ve gone to Scotland, if that would help?” “It might,” he said, gratefully. “Thank you.” “We might need the rest of the town to tell the same story, of course, but… Are you laughing at me?” “I’m delighting in you, which is quite different.” She cast him an uncertain glance. His teasing was verging on flirting, which she really couldn’t allow, especially given her disgrace. Besides which, he was a stranger of whom she knew nothing, and an artist to boot. She doubted anyone would consider him respectable let alone safe. “It’s a good thing and quite harmless,” he assured her, reaching up to pluck a solitary leaf off an apple tree branch. It was pale, golden brown and, halting his step, he held it up to her hair. “Almost.” “Almost what?” she asked, bewildered. “The same color.” “Is that good?” she asked with a hint of defiance. “Exact would be better,” he said. “For the leaf.” She couldn’t help smiling. “You talk a lot of nonsense, you know.” “So I’ve been told.” His gaze dipped from her eyes to the region of her lips, and her breath caught.

dark and yet always with that shade of laughter, as if he was never serious about the world. They caused a thrilling little twist in her stomach, as though a flock of butterflies had just taken wing. She swallowed. “Yes, I must,” she said firmly. “Then meet me again tomorrow.” I can’t. “Here?” he suggested. She raised her eyebrows. “If you’re still hiding from your bailiffs.” “Until tomorrow, then.” He raised his hand to her cheek, his fingertips just brushing her skin. A smile flickered across his lips and was gone as he lowered his head…

Uncaged Review What a terrific introduction to a new-to-me author. I’m always a person that seems to attach myself to the underdogs, and Tamar has to be one of my favorite leading men this year. Even though Tamar has a title and is a Marquis, his family’s past has left him broke and out of favor. When the sister of an Earl breaks her engagement, she is disgraced and sent to live with her brother. A chance meeting with an artist will change the course of her life forever.

“Must you?” He sounded flatteringly disappointed. Slowly, his gaze lifted back to hers.

I was completely captivated by the whole story. Tamar is witty and fun and doesn’t care what people think of him, he lives his life to the fullest. But he does have his secrets – underneath the bold character he shows the world, is a man who has his own demons to fight. Serena is drawn to him and both are drawn into a mystery and conspiracy I didn’t see coming.

He had rather beautiful eyes for a man, large and

This is a solid read with great characters with

“I should go.” Although she meant it to be decisive and forbidding, the words sounded as reluctant as she felt about leaving the eccentric stranger just yet.

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | some action and suspense thrown in to keep it moving nicely. I’ll definitely be picking up more to read from this author. Even though this was the fifth book in this series, it read fine as a standalone although I hope to go back and read the rest. Reviewed by Cyrene

Don’t miss these titles

MaryLancaster.com

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CatchUp with

Tessa McFionn

Tessa McFionn was a Feature Author back in August 2016, so a special thanks to her for help getting Uncaged off the ground! Uncaged: You were a Featured Author in Uncaged Book Reviews way back in August 2016. How was your experience being in the magazine? OMG! I just love you guys! To share the pages with so many amazing authors has been such a fabulous treat. Through your publication, I’ve been able to make some great connections with other authors and new readers. It’s been a great thrill ride and I’ve also been able to direct folks to discover new authors. I love the positive community you’ve helped to foster. Uncaged: Can you tell us more about your upcoming release, To Discover a Divine? Is there a set amount of books planned for this series? I would be delighted. When I first pitched this space opera, I called it The Wizard of Oz meets Star Wars. The opening book, To Discover a Divine, kicks things off with a human who finds herself smack dab in the middle of an interstellar conflict and wondering just what’s happening. There’s aliens, space ships, blasters, and of course, a great deal of romance from start to finish. Originally, I had planned to only make it a trilogy, but when I started working on book three, I found myself stuck. After a brainstorming session with a friend, I realized the reason I was locked: I wasn’t ready to end it. Once I gave my muse permission to keep dreaming in this new universe, things started going much better. So, there will be at least six books in this series, maybe even more. Uncaged: You are venturing out from the para18 | UncagedBooks.com

normal/fantasy genre to dip your toes in scifi. How is it different to write in each genre? Actually, I think sci-fi is easier. I know, sounds strange. There is a ton more world building to be done, that’s for sure. But since I have my paranormal layered over the mundane world of now, I have so much more research. What are the affluent neighborhoods of certain cities? When did the Persians attack Greece? And, most importantly, what are the engine specs of a 1972 Pontiac GTO and did they come off the line with bucket seats or a bench? Yes, if you’ve read any of my paranormals, I am rather obsessed with muscle cars. Yet, in the immense world building required for sci-fi, there’s no rules except for the ones I make. Of course, that means I have to write them all down to keep things consistent, but I just love the great freedom of being able to create everything. Uncaged: Will you be attending any conventions or in-person signings this year? I will be signing in just a couple weeks at my favorite local indie bookstore. On April 7, I will at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego from 4:00pm until they tell me to leave. If you contact them (www.mystgalaxy. com) they’ll have details about virtual signings. As for conventions, I’ll be attending RWA Nationals in Denver in July. There is also going to be a signing there as well that will be open to the public. Living the dream and loving the journey. Tessa McFionn is a very native Californian, growing up in San Diego and attending college in Northern California and Orange County, returning to San Diego to work as a teacher. She wrote her first story in elementary school, creating strange tales about evil Cabbage Patch dolls and the life lessons taught by Barbie. Insatiably curious, she loves to learn and discover, storing up a plethora of trivial knowledge. She feeds her artistic soul through her passions for theatre, dance and music, as well as regular trips to Disneyland with friends and family. Current President Elect of RWA San Diego Chapter.


| TESSA MCFIONN | To Discover a Divine Tessa McFionn SciFi/Romance When Kahlym cal Jhuen, freedom-fighting leader of the Chandar Stria, breaks into a prison ship controlled by the Rimmarian Thrall, he only expected to rescue two of his crew. But when he discovers a terrified female during his escape, he is immediately captivated by her unique beauty and makes a snap decision to take her with him. However, his good deed backfires when he learns he has stolen the Thrall Emperor’s prize. Down to her last dollar, Evainne Wagner expected nothing out of the ordinary when she stepped out of her Boston apartment. Instead, she found herself in the middle of an intergalactic firefight, complete with strange soldiers with deadly weapons pointed directly at her. Salvation arrives in the nick of time in the form of a mysterious leather-clad warrior, skidding in and whisking her away. Trusting her heart, she follows, hoping to find answers as well as a way home. Safely on board his ship, he learns more about her and her rare skills, triggering the memory of a halfforgotten prophecy spoken at the time of his cursed birth. Outcast because of a cruel twist of fate, he finds unexpected acceptance, even affection, from his new passenger. Could she be the one who holds the future of his people, as well as his own heart, in her tender hands? Excerpt The dunk into the pool was just what the doctor ordered, the temperature somehow perfect. Evainne hoped it would be cold enough to jolt her brain into some emotional state aside from pissed off, but she didn’t relish the idea of a long swim in the arctic. The

thing seemed almost intuitive, the water warming after one lap. Why was she so angry? It wasn’t as if she’d never been rejected before. She should be used to that, but she wanted so much to believe he was not like the asshats back home. Guess it’s a male thing, no matter what planet you’re on. So lost in her own head, she didn’t realize he was in the water until she heard him call her name. His voice brushed against her bare back, the single word trailing like fingertips along her skin. She closed her eyes, seeking strength in the darkness behind her lids. “I don’t know if I’m not mad at you anymore.” She swallowed hard, listening carefully as he stepped closer, the wake of his approach lapping gently at the tops of her thighs. “I do not wish you to be angered, but you must understand—” That did it. She spun around to meet his apologetic stare, an unspoken sadness casting shadows in his tourmaline eyes. “No, Kahlym. I don’t have to understand anything. I have no friggin’ clue about of the rules here. I was never one to stand on ceremony on my own damn home planet and I’m not about to start now. I was an outcast, tossed out and alone, and I had to make my way without a whole lot of help. Hell, even the crazy homeless had people willing to step up and say, ‘Yeah, that’s my family.’ All I trust is what I see from people’s actions and what my gut tells me. And I just don’t get you sometimes. One moment, you’re all hot and bothered and the next, you shove me away, spouting all about how you’re not worthy. I’m not some kind of princess or anything special, no matter what you might think. I just want…” She paused to take a breath and sort out her thoughts as they rocketed through her head. That was when she realized he was naked. Read the Uncaged Review for this book in the Reviews Section.

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feature author

National bestselling historical romance author Katherine Bone has been passionate about history since she had the opportunity to travel to various Army bases, castles, battlegrounds, and cathedrals as an Army brat turned officer’s wife. Who knew that an Army wife’s passion for romance novels would lead to pirates? Certainly not her rogue, whose Alma Mater’s adage is “Go Army. Beat Navy!” Now enjoying the best of both worlds, Katherine lives with her rogue in the south where she writes about rogues, rebels, and rakes—aka pirates, lords, captains, duty, honor, and country—and the happily-ever-afters that every alpha male and damsel deserve. You can claim a free ebook and give Katherine’s books a try by clicking here.

Stay Connected

katherinebone.com

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Uncaged welcomes Katherine Bone! First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! Delighted to be here, Uncaged Book Reviews! Thank you so much for welcoming me aboard. It’s a pleasure to sail with you! :) Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about The Regent Revenge Series? How did being a military wife inspire you to write historicals? Starting off easy, I see! Happy to oblige. I adore the series Poldark and have been fascinated by the Cornish coast for as long as I can remember. So I asked myself, what would happen if I combined various elements of Poldark with Robin Hood and The Princess Bride? Almost immediately, I came up with my Regent’s Revenge Series, featuring noblemen who take turns portraying the Black Regent (a tongue-in-cheek play on words based on the Prince Regent). These disenfranchised men don a pirate mask, for various reasons of their own, and rob the rich to help the poor along the Cornish Coast. The first three books feature Tobias, the Duke of Blackmoor; Basil, the Earl of Markwick; and Captain Pierce Walsingham.


In response to the second part of your question, I’ve been inspired to write historicals because I’ve lived on military bases around the world as the daughter of an Army Sergeant and the wife of a Lieutenant Colonel, a lifestyle that emphasized core basics of duty, honor, and country. As a child, I read Valley Forge, chronicling Washington’s winter campaign. For the first time as a reader, I felt hungry, cold, and the same despair as those freezing men. The effect was so real to my imagination that I knew I wanted to immerse myself in history and do the same with fiction. Uncaged: How many books are you planning for the series? Can you tell us what is coming next? Originally I had only planned for three books in the series: The Pirate’s Duchess, The Pirate’s Debt, and The Pirate’s Duty. Then I’d planned to lead into another three-book series based on the Seaton brothers from my Nelson’s Tea Series (there are six, and one brother is the hero from The Rogue’s Surrender). As the Seatons started appearing in the Regent’s Revenge books, however, all hell broke loose—as it always does when they show up. Now one of them has decided he’s the next Black Regent! ACK!!! What’s a writer to do, eh? But until I can write James Seaton’s book, I’m re-

launching my Nelson’s Tea Series. I got the rights back to my books last year and have been steadily re-writing and re-editing the series for Indie distribution. The primary reason being that the series is complete and I now have the opportunity to go back into the books and layer in more detail. (Hindsight is 20/20 after all.) It’s a great opportunity I couldn’t pass up since I can update the books and improve on them. The first book, My Lord Rogue, released February 6th. The second book, Duke by Day, Rogue by Night releases April 24th and is up for preorder now. The rest of the books, The Rogue’s Prize, My Lady Rogue, and The Rogue’s Surrender, will be released about two months apart throughout 2018. I’m super jazzed that we live in a day and time that I can refresh the stories and make them available to readers again! Uncaged: You’ve attended conventions in the past, do you have any coming up this year you can tell us about? April 13-15, 2018, I’ll be at the Biltmore Titanic Costume Exhibition and Author/Reader Retreat, Asheville, NC. We’ll be taking a private tour of the historic Biltmore Estate, a 250 room French Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Renaissance chateau built by George Vanderbilt in 1889. We’ll also be attending a 1912 Titanic Tea in period costume. Huzzah! http://www.biltmore. com/ June 8-9, 2018, I’ll be at the Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, AL. September 12-16, 2018, I’ll be one of 35 authors at the Historical Romance Retreat at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, CA. The Mission Inn began as a boarding house in 1876 and has since hosted film stars, explorers, writers, and politicians for more than 100 years. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, don’t hesitate. Highly recommended for historical romance readers everywhere! https://www.historicalromanceretreat.com/ Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them? I’ve been told not to read my reviews, but I often do. I want to know how my books resonate with readers. Reviews are also a great way to discover what works and what doesn’t in my stories. In fact, I’ve taken a lot of positive feedback about my Nelson’s Tea Series and have made certain adjustments to the stories as I relaunch them. Uncaged: As a historical writer, you already have quite a bit of research to do, and then you’ve added that extra layer of writing about pirates and ships. How much research goes into each novel? Ooh! *Smacks hands together with glee!* I LOVE, love, love to research historical sources! Of course, there’s always that chance of making an embarrassing mistake. No one is perfect, eh? Key, I think, is to focus on storytelling. If you get that right, readers will believe almost any element you add to a story. However, I do my best to research what I can. Going back to reviews for one moment here. I’ve had some scathing reviews that 24 | UncagedBooks.com

attacked my research. In those cases, I’ll often recheck. If I discover I’m wrong; I’ll fix it. The great thing about being an Indie author is you CAN fix things at any time. I enjoy that type of control over my books. Again, no one is perfect. No matter how much you research, someone out there may know more than you do. Humbly, I try to remember that. :) Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? There are so many! Of course, the best comments come from readers who love the story as much as I do. But the best thing anyone has ever said about my books would be that a particular reader believed they were there, in that time and place, with those characters. I try very hard to create a story realm where history and fiction meld into one and so this wonderful accolade boosts my morale like no other. :) Uncaged: What is your favorite part about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite? It goes without saying that my FAVorite part of being an author is being visited by characters who want their stories told, and then writing their stories and bringing them to life. Alongside that, I would add that meeting readers, hearing from them, and meeting each one has been wonderfully uplifting when I leave my writing cave. My least FAVorite thing would be how much time it takes to write a book, the agony vs. the ecstasy and digging my way out of edits. I often wish I could sneeze and my books would be ready for readers to read. That would be quite messy, wouldn’t it? LOL! On the plus side, I know I wouldn’t be who I am without taking this journey with my characters. I’ve learned a lot about never giving up, and I’m much stronger for it, which brings me to the one quote I rely on most during troubling times: “Never, never, never, never, never give up.” ~ Winston Churchill Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?


| KATHERINE BONE | Excellent question! Well, simply put, when I’m not writing, I’m researching. LOL! (My rogue tells me I need to get rid of some books as my bookcases are overflowing.) In my spare time, I’ll do things with my family, garden, knit, and read. Lately, my obsession is our darling seven-week old granddaughter! Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book? Wow! Those are hard questions. I would have to say it depends on the nature of the book. Some are easy to start. Some are effortless to write, period. Others… well, let’s just say the struggle is realz. LOL! But if I had to narrow the process down, I’d say the middle of the book is the hardest segment of a book to write. Beginnings are like springtime; everything is new. Endings are like winter, closing up threads and giving the characters their Merry Christmas (HEA). But the middle of a book can be a pistol. If that is the case, I venture forward by asking myself, “What’s the worst that can happen now?” How long does it take to complete a book? The longer I write, the faster it seems I can finish a book. But that also depends on my schedule, deadlines, etc., and personal life. Some books are harder to complete than others, whether that is the storyline, character arcs, or GMC (Goal, Motivation, or Conflict). I’ve had debilitating neck problems for the past seven years and two neck surgeries to correct them during that time. Last March, I started having neck pain again. Due to my deadlines, I put off going to the doctor. When I did go, I went through eight weeks of physical therapy and three steroid injections to control the pain. It wasn’t until this February that my characters finally started speaking to me again. (Horrors!) It’s been a frustrating road to walk, but in that amount of time, I put out two books and relaunched one, with the next one to come in April. On average I can write a 260/360-page book in two to four months, but then it has to go through two months of editing rounds before its ready for publication.

Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Ahoy, me hearties!!! Sail away with me on a great escape into days of yesteryear. There, you will find swashbuckling heroes who fight for duty, honor, and country and the heroines who long for independence and a means of obtaining it. My books are filled with action and adventure (seafaring rogues and spies), mayhem (sea battles and daring escapes), romance (sensual tension), and the happily ever afters everyone deserves.

Enjoy an excerpt from The Pirate’s Duchess The Pirate’s Duchess Katherine Bone Historical Regency

Duty forces him to take on the pirate code, but honor brings him back. Prudence, Duchess of Blackmoor, has one desire—to be happy again. After struggling to overcome the horrifying death of her husband, she accepts an earl’s offer of marriage, confident she’s taking a step in the right direction. But demons, refuse to die, and Prudence finds herself caught in an intricate web of deceit that threatens the very foundations of all she holds dear. Tobias, the Duke of Blackmoor, crosses the line when an assassination attempt on him fails. To restore the reputations of friends under attack by the same villain, and ensure his wife’s safety, he stages his own death, becoming The Black Regent, a notorious pirate bent on brandishing justice, never thinking he’d survive. But to his amazement, he has, and now the darkest-kept secrets are not worth losing the duchess his wife Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | has become. Excerpt “Please tell me you didn’t bring that book to my wedding.” “I did,” Chloe confirmed with a grin. “You know I never go anywhere without it. And I shall continue to read about blackguards and rogues while Markwick pampers you anon. I’ve never seen a man so smitten.” She closed the book and hugged the volume close to her chest. She sighed distractedly. “How I long for a gentleman like the Earl of Markwick to do the same for me.” “That day will come,” Prudence promised. “And when it does, your wallflower days will be all but forgotten.” Chloe released a hopeful sigh. “Do you think I shall find a man as worthy as Isabella’s Theodore?” “I know so.” It was only fair. Chloe deserved a man who’d move heaven and earth to convey his love—a heroic man like Tobias. I am such a fool hanging on to my ghosts. Tobias is gone. Basil is my future now. “What I wouldn’t give to meet a man as dashing as the Black Regent, though,” Chloe said, drawing in another idealistic sigh. Prudence released a horrified gasp. “The Black Regent? Why on earth would you glorify that rogue, especially when you brother is trying to catch him?” “Bookkeepers under my brother’s employ verified that local men are receiving stipends in their accounts when none were to be had. Does that not remind you of Robin Hood?” She stepped toward the mirror as if conveying mere gossip, rearranged an errant curl, then turned back 26 | UncagedBooks.com

to Prudence to put on her gloves. “I’ve overheard Pierce say the Regent’s demeanor is darker than the clothes he wears. His ship, the Fury, is the wraith of the Cornish coast, painted blacker than night, and nigh uncatchable. You do know what this means, don’t you?” “No.” “He’s even more complex than characters in our favorite tomes! How romantic!” “A pirate? Preposterous!” How many times did she have to remind Chloe that the novels she read were works of fiction? “There is nothing romantic about pirates.” Prudence eyed the door, counting down the moments until she was summoned, unsure she wanted to hear more shocking details. But for some inexplicable reason, she went on. “Tell me. What has he done now?” Chloe’s expression turned sheepish. “He targeted another one of Lord Underwood’s ships.” “Another one?” she asked, lowering her voice to a whisper. If she knew one thing about Lord Underwood, it was this: he valued monetary worth over blood. And right now, with the dire straits he was already in financially, worry sunk deep in Prudence’s belly. “Yes, the cunning devil,” Chloe continued. “He divided up the cargo and gave it to anyone who could carry it off the beach.” Prudence chewed the inside of her lower lip. “Why wasn’t I informed about this earlier?” “I assume Markwick didn’t want to worry you about it before the wedding.” Prudence toyed with the Honiton lace at her wrists as her friend went on. “I’m sure the earl waits to divulge this unhappy state of affairs after your wedding night. Men do not feel obliged to burden wom-


| KATHERINE BONE | en with their concerns.” Pru looked up at Chloe sharply. “I am not most women.” “Oh yes. I am well aware of that, dear friend. I feel positive Markwick simply wants to preserve your happiness, rather than encumber you with his father’s difficulties.” Prudence tapped her bottom lip, then sighed. “I suppose you are right. Go on. Tell me what else you’ve heard.” Chloe’s eyes brightened. “After the pirate’s last attack,” she said, thankfully leaving out her usual litany of the devil’s misdeeds, “Pierce was forced to escort debt collectors from Lord Underwood’s offices.” Prudence had known Underwood was struggling, but was Underwood destitute? “I assure you, these are not yarns. Not in the least. Pierce has it on good authority—” “Your brother has been feeding your imagination again.” Chloe’s smile faltered. “Balderdash.” Prudence fanned herself more rapidly. “I’m surprised that you, of all people, believe your brother’s stories. Even if he does work with the Royal Navy and the Revenue Office, don’t you remember how he deceived both of us into believing we could swim?” “But now we can swim,” Chloe said, leaving out the horrific way they’d learned to do so. “I’ve been telling you for nigh a year now that Pierce has chased the Fury out of the quay, down the Exe River, and into the Lyme Sea and never once caught it. He calls it a ghost ship manned by demons.” Prudence shivered. She wasn’t comfortable talking about ghosts.

“The Black Regent,” Chloe said breathlessly, eyes wide, “is as real as you and me, and thankfully so.” “How naive you are. The brigand is an elaborate sham conjured by free traders to cover up their own tracks. Or worse, he’s been invented by your brother to veil his inability to catch the marauder preying upon my future father-in-law’s assets.” “Do you really think my brother would be so cruel?” Prudence arched her brow and cast Chloe a meaningful glare. Chloe picked up her reticule with a soft huff, shoved her book inside it, and hugged the bag tightly to her just as the door to the room creaked on its hinges. She stepped forward expectantly as the gray-haired clergyman reappeared. “Apologies for the delay, Your Grace,” he said. “We are ready for you.” The old wooden door creaked more as it moved farther outward on its hinges, casting shadows on the wall beside it. Her father, Cyril, Marquess of Heathcote appeared. “The time has come, daughter. Are you ready?” “Yes.” She nodded, determined to put the Black Regent and Lord Underwood’s financial difficulties out of her mind. She and Chloe exchanged an emotional embrace, despite their quarrel. “Do not worry. It will be wonderful, Pru.” “Indeed,” her father added. He took hold of Prudence’s hand and placed it in the crook of his arm, glancing down at her with genuine affection. “We mustn’t keep your young gentleman Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | waiting any longer.”

her face before Basil, God, and their guests.

“No.” The thrumming wings in her stomach dissipated at the thought of Basil. She’d been through hell and looked forward to spending the rest of her life with a loving friend.

He squeezed her arm reassuringly. “Do not listen to foolish hen prattle, my dear. The earl is waiting for you.”

He patted her hand. She leaned her head against his shoulder and squeezed his arm. They followed Chloe toward the rectory, and as the chapel doors opened, Chloe flashed them one more smile before she disappeared through them. Prudence stood at the threshold with her father, looking out into the chapel. The pews were radiantly lined with flowers in shades of white and green, all leading up to where Basil patiently waited. His handsome face was eclipsed, his thick dark hair illuminated by fragments of light shining through the stained glass. Father patted her hand again and gazed down at her fondly. “Shall we do this, my dear?” She nodded. “Yes. I am ready.” Her father wasted no time guiding her to the altar, past faces she’d known long and well, servants devoted to her as a child and, since her husband’s death, Blackmoor’s tenants, as well as notable gentry. “It’s been two years since the duke’s passing,” someone whispered to her left. Prudence pressed forward, past rightful members of the ton seated near the front. “Imagine being a widow at three and twenty,” another voice said softly. Tobias’s face momentarily replaced Basil’s, and her slipper caught on the hem of her gown. Father’s quick reflexes kept her from falling flat on 28 | UncagedBooks.com

Straightening her shoulders, she focused on Basil’s handsome face and light-blue eyes that glinted like Blackmoor silver, twinkling, promising years of fidelity and conveying assurances that all would be well. Tall, lean, and clothed in simple black and white, Basil gave her a pleasant smile that lured her to him, and warmth swept through her. He was her future now. No more sleepless nights lying awake, feeling helpless and alone. No more nightmares or thoughts of what could have been. Her father stopped just before the altar and placed a kiss on her brow. “Your mother would be so proud of you if she were here. You are strong, my girl.” “Thank you, Papa,” she whispered, her heart filled with gratitude. He turned her toward Basil, who sketched a bow, then lowered his hand and helped her step up to the altar. When she finally stood beside him, he raised her hand to his lips, kissing the amethyst ring on her right hand before clicking his heels together with practiced ease. He leaned down to whisper in her ear as he removed her veil. “No regrets?” “None.” “I promise you’ll never have them.” “I accept your challenge,” she replied, returning his smile. Together, they turned to Mr. Leyes, who stood like a rotund badger in front of his den, a book held open in each hand. He nodded to Prudence and Basil, then began reading from the first book, a copy of


| KATHERINE BONE |

Fordyce’s Sermons. Throughout Leyes’s literal depiction of a woman’s character, Basil held her hand in his, gently rubbing her knuckles with his thumb as brilliant light filtered through the windows behind the vicar’s back, bathing them in prisms of color. Leyes paused, then said, “Is anyone present who can justifiably object to the joining of this man and woman in holy wedlock?” Someone cleared his throat, and Prudence’s breath hitched. When the vicar craned his head to find the instigator, the room fell silent. Then Leyes nodded, smiling confidently at Basil, who turned to take hold of both her hands and gazed into her eyes. “Basil Halford, Earl of Markwick, do you take Prudence Denzell, Duchess of Blackmoor, to wed?” The doors to the chapel slammed open. “I d—”

Uncaged Review

We start right off with Prudence getting ready to marry an Earl, after losing the love of her life in a fire – taking a step in a direction for her future. Little does she know, that her husband Tobias is alive and well, and to keep his wife safe from people trying to kill him, he takes up as The Black Regent and Captain of The Fury, a notorious ship that can’t be caught with a crew that maintains a Robin Hood like stance – taking from the rich and giving back to the poor to even the score. But will Prudence ever forgive or trust Tobias after deceiving her? This is a shorter novella to get you started into this series and it’s a grand start. Even though it’s shorter, the author does a nice job pulling you into the action and keeps it running smooth. I’m always up for a good pirate tale – and this story did not disappoint. Peeling back the layers of the suspense kept me turning the pages, and for a shorter novella, and I think reading this shorter novella before jumping into the series will give you a great background. Reviewed by Cyrene

“He does not,” came a deep, angry voice from the back. That voice! It can’t be . . . Prudence’s body tensed. Surely she’d heard wrong. She turned away from the vicar and Basil to see a cloaked man standing in dark silhouette, holding a silver cane. There was something ill-omened about the way he stood and angled his head. Her heart clenched, then raced. “What is the meaning of this?” Basil asked, anger rolling off him in waves. “How dare you interrupt our wedding?” “No one is going to marry my wife today.”

Enjoy an excerpt from The Pirate’s Debt The Pirate’s Debt Katherine Bone Historical Regency He thought he lost his honor... then she teaches him what it means to be a hero. Lady Chloe Walsingham is an enthusiastic gothic romance reader and hopeless romantic focused solely on finding her perfect Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | hero. She also happens to have a penchant for getting into trouble. So when the man she loves disappears after a scandalous duel, she decides to follow him to the ends of the Earth. To do so, however, Chloe must evade her brother, an infamous revenue man, and board a ship bound for Penzance. And nothing in her beloved books can prepare her for the harsh realities of wreckers who ply the coast. After his father destroyed the lives of countless innocent people, Basil Halford, Earl of Markwick is willing to do anything to earn back his honor. Betrayed by his blood and his reputation ruined, Markwick answers the request of a well-heeled duke and dons the Black Regent’s mask to repay the debt. His task? Rescuing a young woman who is chasing down a ghost of a man. But a pirate has plenty of enemies, and Markwick isn’t any different. No matter how diligent a captain he may be, sailing to Lady Chloe’s rescue involves risking not only the Regent’s legacy but the last thing he can afford to lose…his heart. Excerpt Markwick stiffened. Blackmoor’s reasons for enlisting Markwick’s help were triggered by love for his wife. Markwick’s sense of responsibility went deeper, to a place he’d never allowed himself to go out of respect for Walsingham. While it was true that Chloe had exceeded many levels of Markwick’s patience when she was younger, since his engagement to Prudence, she’d shown herself to be intelligent, talented, loyal, and a most beloved sister and friend. She was also enamored by the Black Regent, which put his identity at even greater risk. What could he do? How far was he willing to go to bring Chloe home safe and sound? “For the duchess’s sake,” he began, “I will do my best to find Chloe. You have my word.” 30 | UncagedBooks.com

“Remember, her willful head is in the clouds. That, dear friend, makes her dangerous. If she spies her brother, she will most likely flee to avoid facing his ire. But if you find her . . . well, that is a trap well laid.” “Surely you place too much—” “I’ve promised my wife that you will find her before Walsingham does.” Markwick bowed. “I shall strive to earn your confidence.” He gazed at the missive in Blackmoor’s hand once more, suspecting something else was responsible for the duke’s persistence that Markwick should be the one to locate Chloe. “What’s in the letter?” Blackmoor handed him the missive, then strode to the door. “Have a care for your soul, Markwick. While the Fury demands forte, females rein a tempest of emotions sure to drown better men.” Markwick straightened. “Aye, sir,” he said, gazing down at the note. The screen door slammed. When he looked up again, Blackmoor was gone. Markwick opened the note, then leaned back on the desk. His jaw slackened at the words on the page. My dearest friend, I ask you one question: is a body unhappy about another unless she is in love? I fear we both know the answer to that now, and a gentle violence thrills my soul as I share with you that I intend to sail with the tide. I cannot face the snares and wiles of this world without love to recommend me. Therefore, I beseech you to keep my secret, for you are the only one I trust.


| KATHERINE BONE | Markwick has disappeared. As you are no longer betrothed, I am finally at liberty to confess to you that I love him. I have always loved him, and I cannot bear for him to suffer alone. Sources close to my brother inform me that a man fitting Markwick’s description has been seen in Torquay. Therefore, I’ve attained passage for myself and my maid aboard the Valerian. Do not be alarmed for my person or harden your heart against me. Dry your earnest tears. My virtuous intentions steer me toward a higher destiny. Resourcefully yours, Chloe Walsingham Markwick shut his gaping mouth, then crumpled the letter in his hand. It couldn’t be true. Blackmoor was right? Chloe loved him? How was that possible? Why? Until now, he had always perceived her attention as infatuation because he’d been the only man her brother allowed around her. He dropped the foolscap and swiped his fingers through his hair. If he failed to rescue Chloe from another one of her outlandish adventures, Prudence would blame him. Which meant Blackmoor would blame him. Not to mention Chloe’s brother. If Walsingham found out Markwick had known where Chloe was bound and hadn’t alerted him, the bond between friends would be severed for good, making his stint as the Black Regent even more perilous. If anything happened to her, Walsingham would not rest until Markwick was hunted down. That endangered the Regent’s whole design. And a dead Regent could not help the people of Cornwall and Devon. Markwick hopped forward and yanked open the cabin’s screen door.

stand there? “Notify the crew that we have a target in our sights. We make way with the tide.” “Aye, sir.” The salty pirate grinned. “As soon as I’d seen the ol’ cap’n, I knew we’d have us an adventure ahead.” “Spare me your excitement,” Markwick grumbled. “This adventure may very well lead to my bloody end.”

Uncaged Review The second book in this series, follows after the events of book one, The Pirate’s Duchess, and even though the reader would be better off reading that book first, it’s not required to step right into this one, but the first book gives you a more complete background on the characters in this book and just makes the story that much better. As Markwick takes the helm of the Fury as The Black Regent, passed to him from Tobias, to right the wrongs to the people that were hurt from his father’s dealings. Chloe, whom has always loved Markwick from the sidelines, makes a rash decision to find Markwick, hearing rumblings that he was in Penzance. Booking a seat on a ship, The Mohegan, Chloe and her maid Jane take off on the high seas. When their ship is attacked, all could be lost. Markwick was not as great of a pirate as Tobias was before him, being an Earl, he was truly out of his comfort zone, but he learned quickly. Chloe was a bit rash and stubborn, but she was brave and loyal. The love story was a little too easy for me, I like some conflict. What I can say is that I really loved was the fantastic action sequences – a very strong feature of these books. Reviewed by Cyrene

Pye stood there, just outside the door, waiting. “What be your orders, Cap’n?” Had Blackmoor ordered the one-legged pirate to Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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Enjoy an excerpt from The Pirate’s Duty The Pirate’s Duty Katherine Bone Historical Regency He lost everything... but his duty to her brought him back to life.

Innkeeper Oriana Thorpe is a smuggler’s daughter who has been hardened by a legacy she cannot escape. She has risked everything, including her safety, in her attempts to break free, going so far as to challenge her evil pirate brother, Charles, in order to save a lady and her maid from his wrath. Determined to atone for his villainy, Oriana distributes the blood money he left behind to widows and orphans living nearby. But when threatening letters promising retribution begin to arrive from Charles, she suspects one or more of her customers may be her despicable brother’s spies. Yet one haunted man promises to protect her, and she finds herself taking the greatest risk of all—falling in love. Captain Pierce Walsingham should have died when his ship was destroyed by the notorious smuggler Captain Carnage. Instead, Pierce was pulled from the water by the Robin Hood of Cornwall, a pirate known only as the Black Regent. In gratitude, Pierce accepts the Regent’s offer to take over the man’s role, allowing his name to be added to the list of the dead and vowing to protect the beautiful innkeeper who saved his sister Chloe’s life. Unfortunately, Oriana is also Carnage’s next of kin, and the smuggler has sworn vengeance against her and Chloe. While there is no cause dearer to Pierce’s heart than stopping Carnage, the task won’t be easy. Strategic allegiances have replenished his enemy’s power at sea, and he’s moving ever closer 32 | UncagedBooks.com

to enacting his revenge. Now Pierce must find a way to defeat Carnage, all while fighting his desire for the resilient woman who fiercely defends her roost. Excerpt Miss Thorpe’s stillness gave Walsingham pause. She didn’t trust him, as well she shouldn’t. I am going to betray her. Those six words ate away at his gut as he gazed down at her glorious hair, fisting his hands to keep from touching her, spinning her around to face him, and taking her into his arms. Oriana Thorpe was a desirable woman. He was uncertain what else she truly was, however. Girard and O’Malley claimed she was trustworthy, and the threatening letters she had received proved Carnage had a vendetta against her. And yet, if she was innocent, why hadn’t she turned in her brother’s gold? Girard and O’Malley didn’t know where it was, though they suspected it was in the cellar. If Miss Thorpe wasn’t involved, she’d be the only member of the family who hadn’t joined free trade. What were the odds? Or was she simply a brilliant actress? Marauders were content to wait out their enemies in order to succeed. Was it possible she was luring them all into a trap? Therein lay the challenge. Miss Thorpe’s beauty had become an ensnaring temptation he was finding hard to resist. Her stubbornness matched his, and in her eyes, there were instances where unbridled passion leaped from their depths, yearning—no, begging—to be satisfied. She had a habit of reining in her emotions, except when she spoke of saving young orphans from a life of misery. That wasn’t the kind of woman who’d lure men to their deaths. “What are ye doing, Mr. Hunt?” she asked. Jolted from his musings, Walsingham decided to tell


| KATHERINE BONE | the truth. “I’m looking at you, Miss.”

his heart beat as rapidly as hers did.

She dropped the curtain, her hand shaking slightly. “Why?”

She glanced down at his hand before raising her gaze to his. “You’re as solid as stone.”

He couldn’t be sure if anyone in her family, aside from Charles, had ever dealt with Captain Pierce Walsingham, or for that matter, anyone who frequented the tavern. If they had, he couldn’t trust her too soon.

Pleased with her praise, he chuckled. “I’m not made of granite, Miss. I’m flesh and blood, a man with needs and desires. Do not doubt it.”

“Do you really want to know?” He was playing a dangerous game, and he knew it. But he couldn’t seem to help himself when he was near her. “Aye.” The longcase clock sounded in the hall. Ding. Ding. She tilted her face upward to look at him, her gaze locking with his. “You’re a vision, Miss.” He would count himself lucky to claim such a woman, but not as long as Miss Thorpe or Carnage had the power to commit an unspeakable act that would seal the Regent’s fate . . . He didn’t intend to be the Regent forever. He already had an idea of who his successor might be, should the man agree. But he couldn’t retire the mask until he prevented Carnage from coming for Chloe. She ran an orphanage of her own. He couldn’t risk innocent lives, not even at the detriment of his own happiness. The world thought Captain Pierce Walsingham was dead, but in the candlelight, in Miss Thorpe’s eyes, he saw the man he wanted to be, a man who was blessedly alive. He narrowed the space between them, and she splayed her hand over his heart. “Don’t come any closer,” she said softly. “I won’t. Unless you ask me to.” He laid his left hand over hers, pressing ever so slightly to ensure she knew

She focused on his chin, avoiding his gaze. He stroked her cheek and then lowered his finger to her chin, tilting her head back, forcing her to look into his eyes. “And you’re a beautiful, desirable woman. Why aren’t you married?” Her green eyes sparked, boring into him. “I am well aware of what men desire and I do not need a man to survive.” “But what do you desire?” “I . . .” Her breath hitched. “I’m not in the habit of touching men who come to my inn.” She tried to remove her hand from his chest, but he held it steady. “Don’t,” he said. She bit her lip, drawing his attention to her mouth. “This isn’t proper.” “That depends on who you ask.” She wanted him, he could tell, but she was too proud to admit it. By all that was holy, he would never pressure a woman to do anything she didn’t want to do, no matter from what echelon of society she hailed. He wasn’t that sort of man. “May I speak freely?” “Of course,” she said. “It appears I’m your captive audience.” “I’ve been drawn to you from the moment I walked into your inn.” Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Her throat bobbed gently as she swallowed. “And I ye.” Her green eyes radiated unequaled strength, a steely reserve that drove her to betray her own flesh and blood to save a stranger—his sister. Was that what motivated him? A need to show her his gratitude? Or was it something more, something deeper, instantaneous, the type of attraction that gripped a man by the heart and never let go? Who could blame him? She’d worked tirelessly to operate an inn where men continued to exploit her femininity. She was a true Cornish woman who had joined forces with the church and the Seatons to support those without resources, those who could not care for themselves, extolling praises for the Regent . . . Or in essence, for him! “I’ve dreamed of kissing you,” he admitted. “Ye have?” “Aye.” A growl escaped his throat as he bent to taste her lips. But just before their mouths made contact, the latch on the door shifted loudly. Dredging up strength he didn’t know he possessed, he dropped Miss Thorpe’s hand and stepped over to one of the tables. Once there, he made quick work of appearing as if he had been rearranging the chairs. Miss Thorpe, in all her decadent allure, bent to rearrange lavender several tables away, the quick ruse perfection as Jarvis walked in, followed by Girard and O’Malley. “All is well in the barn, Miss,” Girard said, stopping cold and causing O’Malley to walk into him. “Miss, are ye unwell? Your face is as red as a brandy bottle.”

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Uncaged Review Of the series so far, this one is my favorite. Pierce takes the reins of The Black Regent, and vows to bring the smuggler, Captain Carnage to justice – who has been terrorizing the seas, killing and destroying all in his path, including destroying Pierce’s own ship, the Windraker. When Pierce is rescued by the pirates he’s spent years trying to catch, he finds his own friend Markwick at the helm. Pierce agrees to take over the Black Regent to catch the killer and protect an innkeeper, Oriana – the sister to Captain Carnage, even though being a pirate goes against everything he’s believed in. This book has just the right amount of action mixed in with the romance and there is enough road blocks to the love story that keeps me in my happy place. Pierce makes a cunning and perfect pirate, a Captain that easily transitions to his new role with a commanding presence. Oriana is a strong lead, with strength, independence and loyalty, but still fearful of her brother’s return to kill her. The setting is done in a way that draws you into the story, and has you wishing you could belly up to the bar at Marauder’s Roost for one of Oriana’s ales. If you like pirates and the high seas, this is a series you should pick up. Reviewed by Cyrene


| KATHERINE BONE | Learn more about Katherine’s other books in The Nelson’s Tea series! Start with Book 1, My Lord Rogue, only $0.99: http://www.katherinebone. com/my-lord-rogue

katherinebone.com

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feature author

Terri fell in love with reading at a young age, starting with condensed versions of classics such as The Wizard of Oz, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Little Women. She fell into Romance novels around Junior High and never looked back. Authors such as Judith McNaught, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and LaVyrle Spencer kept her going through high school, then she bounded into the 90s with authors like Julie Garwood, Dorothy Garlock, Johanna Lindsey, and countless others. Her bookshelves are lined with beloved keepers (many sporting Fabio covers), some tattered and torn but all filled with passion, love, lust, and above all, happy endings. From the Wild West to Romping Regency ballrooms to boardrooms and charming small towns, her library covers the spectrum. Terri makes her home in middle Tennessee with college-student daughter, four frisky felines, and two high-maintenance terriers. In her nefarious past she worked in government contracting, fundraising, catering, and was even a train conductor. (In the mall. Not as impressive as it sounds.) She was also a Country radio disc jockey for eight years, which makes her one of those rarest of author creatures – an extrovert.

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Uncaged welcomes Terri Osburn! Uncaged: You write in the Contemporary Romance genre for the most part, did your work as a country music station DJ inspire your Shooting Stars series? Can you tell readers more about the series? My history with country music definitely inspired the series. I have a degree in the music business (sounds fake, I know, but totally real), worked for a short time on Music Row back in the 90s, met my countrysinging ex-husband at Gilly’s in Nashville (book isn’t remotely autobiographical, sadly), and spent 8 years as a country radio personality. All that went into creating the Shooting Stars series, which centers around the Shooting Stars record label and the artists and dreamers who pass through its doors. Love isn’t easy under the best of circumstances. Toss in fame and travel, media and all the temptations so readily available and things get all the more complicated. Uncaged: How many books are you planning for the series? Can you tell us what is coming next?

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As of right now, I have ideas for three more beyond these first two, so possibly five total. The next book will feature the first female artist signed to the label.


For those who don’t follow country music, there’s been a surge in recent years of male artists with very few female artists breaking through. I assure you this is not due to a lack of talented women knocking on record label doors. So this one will explore that bias and the challenges women have faced in Nashville for years, which basically reflect the same challenges faced by women in many other industries. Let’s just say, Time’s Up is a strong influence on this one. Uncaged: You are an attending author of Wild Deadwood Reads coming up. Are there any other conventions you are attending this year? What is your favorite part about attending? I’m quite excited about Wild Deadwood reads. I’ve never visited South Dakota or even that region of the country, but I’m also looking forward to meeting lots of new readers. And spending an evening hanging with some bull riders won’t be a trial either. I’m a talker by nature, so getting to chat face-to-face with readers is my favorite part. Some are nervous, others are excited, and there are those who haven’t heard my name before but are gracious enough to smile and chat anyway. I’m essentially on a whirlwind tour this spring with two other big events before the Deadwood one. I’ll be

spending the first two weeks of May in Europe to attend the Festival du Roman Feminin in Paris the first weekend, and the Love Letters Convention in Berlin during the second weekend. I’ve never attended a reader event in Europe so to say I’m excited about these is an understatement. I’m pinching myself daily. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them? I do read some reviews, usually the ones posted before the book comes out and right after. I wish I could resist, but I have to know what readers are saying about the stories. I have a thicker skin than when I first started out, so these days I smile at the good notes and typically nod along with the not so good, typically seeing the reviewer’s point. I can say that at the beginning of my career there were lots of comments about the endings of my books being too abrupt. I took this to heart and now work extra hard to make sure readers get the endings they want and deserve. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? I have an avid supporter in Australia who once favorably compared me to Judith McNaught in a Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | review. My career could have ended there and I’d have felt like a success. Still the greatest compliment I’ve received. Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite? The writing truly is the greatest joy. Meeting these characters who walk into (or maybe out of) my imagination is crazy fun. Getting to ride along as the story comes to life is a fabulous way to spend my time. They make me laugh and cry and often teach me something about myself. My least favorite part is the marketing but only in the sense of trying to come up with new ideas of how to reach out and how to be available to readers. It’s a schedule and brain space thing. I’m terrible at locking down a routine without the demands and limitations of reporting to an office and a boss daily. This means I don’t ever really clock out. Makes for long days and even longer nights. But all that said, I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is by far the coolest job going. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Per the previous answer, I don’t have much time that isn’t spent writing or doing something writing-related, so my one break is music. I love concerts and musicals and make the time to attend lots of events through the year. Country, rock, alternative or anything Broadway and I’m there. I’m also an avid Nashville Predators fan so lots of time is spent watching or attending games. Maybe someday I should write a hockey romance series and then I can consider the games research. Hmmm…. Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book? For me the toughest part is the beginning. So much 40 | UncagedBooks.com

has to be established from page one that I stress more over the first fifteen to twenty thousand words than any of the rest of the story. But once I get past that first quarter or so, the rest is a blast. The easiest part for me is the middle. I’m amazed when writers say that’s the toughest part. That’s where all of the story happens! That’s where they fall in love and lust and where the secrets build and the attraction simmers. The middle is like the best part of the roller coaster—the giant ups and downs and twists and turns. I’m a fast writer, and an immersive one, which means I need to be head in the book all the way with no distractions. Though I have months to write each book, my brain thinks that light at the end of the tunnel has to be really close before we start. Makes for a stressful five to six weeks, but again, it’s a rollercoaster ride and I’ve come to accept that my brain or muse or whatever it is needs that pressure to bring the story to life. This also results in extra money spent on coloring out the gray hairs. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I have to say thank you to the fans. I’ve been beyond fortunate since embarking on this publishing journey, and I owe every good thing I have to the readers who are generous enough to spend their precious time reading my books and telling their friends about them. Since 2013 I’ve sold more than a million books worldwide. That’s a number I can’t even wrap my head around so just saying I’m grateful doesn’t come close to how much I appreciate every single reader out there. Anyone who wants to keep up with me and my work can check out my website at www.TerriOsburn.com or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook. com/TerriOsburnAuthor/. I also have a board for every book over on Pinterest. You can find me at https:// www.pinterest.com/terriosburn/. Thank you so much for this interview. This has been fun!


Enjoy an excerpt from Falling Star Falling Star Terri Osburn Western Romance A country star looking for a comeback has one last shot at fame— and he might just have one last shot at love. Naomi Mallard is a fixer by nature. And as PR manager for Nashville’s Shooting Stars record label, she’s facing her biggest fix: redeeming country music bad boy Chance Colburn. But in Naomi’s eyes, a police record and a stint in rehab are the least of Chance’s sins. He has spent his life running from demons and making tabloid headlines that have sent his career into a tailspin. Now he’s struggling to find his muse and maintain his newfound sobriety, all while counting on the woman he once betrayed to repair his tattered reputation. Naomi is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but that’s not easy when an unexpected injury forces the former couple into disturbingly close proximity. Will mending their once-broken relationship be Naomi’s best save yet? Or will Chance’s past wreck any hope for a future together? First Meeting Excerpt “Answer your damn phones!” she yelled at the useless piece of metal in her hand. “Unless that’s connected to a string and a can on the other end, I don’t think it works that way.” Annoyed by the sarcasm, Naomi replied, “Screw you,” and imme¬diately regretted saying something so horrible to a stranger. But when she looked up to apologize, the person she found was no stranger. Chance Colburn flashed his trademark bad-boy grin, and Naomi’s body tightened in response. Memories, both good and bad, filled her mind, and she was torn

| TERRI OSBURN | between physical longing and the intense need to punch something. “Hello, Nay,” he purred, transporting her back seven years to when she had lived to hear that nickname on his lips. Back when she’d been ready to give up everything to make a life with him. Too bad he hadn’t been willing to do the same. “Chance,” Naomi replied, her voice barely a whisper as her heart pounded in her ears. “I . . . I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” Broad shoulders shrugged beneath a worn Johnny Cash T-shirt. “I was getting tired of all the happy birthdays. ‘Screw you’ is a sentiment I’m more comfortable with.” “I, um . . .” Naomi tucked a dark lock behind her ear as she cleared her throat. “I planned to come find you.” Brown eyes held her hazel gaze. “No, you didn’t.” Calling her bluff shouldn’t have been sexy, but her body begged to differ. “Shouldn’t you be inside?” “You’ve been avoiding me,” Chance accused, ignoring her question. “I told you. I intended to find you.” He shook his head, sending a strand of jet-black hair trailing over his left eye. “I don’t mean tonight,” he said in his deep Texas drawl. “You make it tough for a man to apologize.” If Chance was trying to throw her off-balance, he was doing a spectacular job of it. “Apologize?” Squaring his stance, he slipped strong hands into the front pock¬ets of his black jeans. Regardless of the venue, Chance maintained his casual style. Ruggedly handsome and screaming virile male— from the thick black hair dancing along the edge of his collar to the snakeskin boots on his feet. And the parts in between could bring a woman to her knees, as Naomi knew all too well. “That’s part of the recovery process,” he explained, eyes cutting off to the distance. “Making amends for all the damage I did along the way.” “You don’t owe me anything,” Naomi replied, words clipped. She needed this to be over. “Your forgiveness isn’t required,” he continued. “Or expected.” Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Silence reigned. Hell no, she didn’t forgive him. But she saw no point in bringing any of this up at all. Not after seven years of nothing. That’s when she’d needed the apology. Back when he’d slept with her boss. “What do you want me to say?” “Well,” he offered, “we’ve gotten the ‘screw you’ out of the way, so maybe a ‘go to hell’?” Naomi couldn’t help herself. The bastard always could make her laugh. Almost as much as he’d made her cry. If he could be man enough to offer an apology, she could be wom¬an enough to accept one. “I don’t want you to go to hell, Chance. My job of redeeming you in the public eye is already going to be difficult enough. Explaining how you dethroned the devil in his own house might be more than even I can handle.” His rich chuckle filled the stately hall. “Fair enough.” After a less awkward pause, he asked, “How’ve you been? Other than becoming a PR powerhouse. I always knew you’d rule the world someday.” “You give me more credit than I deserve.” Naomi could barely run her own life, let alone the world. “But I’m good. I’d ask you the same question, but that seems unnecessary given the press coverage.” “Don’t believe everything you read.” Chance leaned in as if they were suddenly old pals. “Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, right?” Despite the tentative truce, one apology didn’t erase the past. “Chance, as a member of the Shooting Stars staff, I will do all I can to promote you and your forthcoming album, but I’m not interested in being your friend.” With a silent nod, he stepped back. “Right. There’s the ‘go to hell.’” He was not going to make her out to be the jerk here. “You can’t really expect anything more than that. Not after what you did to me.” Holding her gaze, Chance said, “I’d say it’s what I did for you.” “What the hell does that mean?” 42 | UncagedBooks.com

“You got out before I could really screw up your life. Be grateful, Nay. Some people weren’t that lucky.” Before she could reply, Chance strolled back into the small ball¬room, and it was all she could do not to scream at his back. He’d slept with her boss as a favor? Really? Going to rehab may have gotten Chance Colburn off the bottle— for now—but it sure as hell hadn’t cured him of being an asshole.

Uncaged Review I liked the way the book grabbed hold of me right away and got my attention. A lot of books take a few chapters to do that, but this one captured me quickly. Chance was a huge country star, but the alcohol took him and his career down, and now, fresh out of a stint from rehab and trying to get his career back on track, he’s signed with a label that is putting the time back into getting him back on track with a new album. Assigned to be his publicist is a woman that he betrayed years ago, Naomi. Naomi is determined to maintain a professional relationship and do her job, but has she really quit loving Chance? Slowly but surely, this story gives you a background on both main characters in a very organic way, with both of them opening up to each other. One of the things that was a bit over the top was Naomi’s meddling mother, and I only wish Naomi would have stood up to her long before she did, but when she did, it was quite satisfying. Naomi grows before the reader’s eyes as she finally begins to stand up to both her mother and Chance. A nice read by another new-to-me author, and I look forward to reading more from her and definitely going back for the first book in the series. Reviewed by Cyrene


showcase

Isobel Blackthorn

Isobel Blackthorn is the author of the novels Asylum, The Drago Tree, A Perfect Square, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. She creates compelling and intelligent stories drawing on her rich and varied life. Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism and the occult features in all of her writing. She lives on the southern coast of Australia.

The Legacy of Old Gran Parks Isobel Blackthorn Dark Humor Set in Cann River in Australia’s rugged southern wilderness, The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is a tale of a remote town haunted by a legacy, a legacy with ominous consequences. Gran Parks is stirring. Who will survive? Who will get away? Who will stay?

Excerpt Croajingolong National Park was a wild, inhospitable place in every respect. Which was why, when a sedan pulled into old Fred’s place across the dirt track, I went inside to fetch my binoculars. Not that 44 | UncagedBooks.com

I expected to make out much in the dark, but I wanted to see whatever I could. The driver had obliged my curiosity by leaving his headlights on. Wanted to see his way around. I assumed it was a ‘he’ and when I returned to the deck and adjusted the binoculars, I found I was right. Sam let out a low growl. I hissed at her to stay quiet. The man disappeared around the back. I heard a dull bang and then another. Sounded like he was breaking in. I could have run across and told him where to find the key, but I wasn’t about to make his entry easy. No need. He’d got in anyway. The front door opened and out he strode, all cocky confidence. He was a small, stocky man, dressed in puffed out city gear. With his big hair, I had him marked out as a yuppie. Judging by the way he ferried the contents of his boot into the house, he wasn’t that strong. Three trips later he opened the rear passenger side door. He bent in and when he stood up I could see a sleeping child in his arms. The kiddie would have been no more than five, judging by the size. Moments later he was back at the car, and out came another one, about the same size as the first. My heart squeezed in the looking. I wanted to think the guy was just some devoted dad taking his kids on a holiday, but old Fred never let his shack out to anyone with kids, and judging by the way he’d entered, the guy was more likely not meant to be there. If he’d been a woman, I’d have rushed over to offer my support. As it was, I felt torn between my concern for the welfare of those kiddies and wariness over that man. The father? Had to be, surely? How did he know about the shacks? A local? Not dressed like that. Someone who’d been there before, on holiday? There was no point dwelling on it. I’d phone Fred in the morning. Sam made low throaty grumbles. I thought any moment she’d bark so I tugged her collar and yanked her inside. I had to sit with her, stroking her back, keeping her calm, while I tried to think what else to do. I poured myself another whisky. Then I drew the curtains and locked all the doors in case the stranger went on a nocturnal walkabout. I sat there in the kitchen in the dark with my whisky and my dog, hoping daylight would bring sanity to the situation. The dark always brought the dark along with it. I kept


thinking he had to be a child abductor, a paedophile, a snuff movie maker, a serial killing psychopath about to do those kiddies unspeakable harm. Who knew? The Cabin Sessions Isobel Blackthorn Horror The Cabin Sessions is a confronting, hard-hitting, dark psychological thriller told with acid wit. Themes of abuse are explored through minds distorted by fear and corrupted by hatred and delusion; this is a tale in which redemption is gained in unexpected ways.

Why do so many children’s tales of yore contain a bad old witch? To scare the children into obedience or to satisfy the need to keep a woman in her place: submissive, subservient, undemanding. It was Mother who read me those tales, Mother who was herself submissive and subservient and undemanding, who always bowed her head in Father’s presence, who upheld the rituals of family life as if her very existence depended on it. Growing up in the deep valley of Burton, Hansel and Gretel was the most terrifying of all, for the woods were all around us and there was no escaping the fact that the town had its share of crones. That’s how it appeared to me growing up here. And suddenly I did remember that story. Every page of it. We would say our night time prayers, and before she took me off to bed Mother, a willowy dark-haired woman, would smile her wan, closed-mouth smile as she put down her knitting, and she would sit me on her knee and read to me from a large bound volume with colour plates. And she would scare the life out of me with thick descriptions of the cruel deeds of the witches. Then she’d tell me to look out for Cynthia Morgan, who appeared to me old and wizened even

then, and through my child eyes wicked and sure to curse me with a terrible spell or chop me up and eat me. Looking back, Cynthia would have been about forty. Her parents had died long before I was born, and after their death she’d cared for her much younger sister, Joy. I never discovered the full story of the tragedy that befell their parents. Rumour had it there were suspicious circumstances leading up to the deaths, and I once heard Delilah insinuate that Cynthia herself had driven that knife through her parents’ hearts while they lay asleep in their bed, but there was no evidence to support Delilah’s claim and nothing was proven, no motive found and no one was ever charged. Cynthia, they say, was never the same. For years after, she would stand at the crossroads opposite Alf’s guitar shop and stare at the bridge, always in the same crocheted shawl and headscarf. Suspicion had it she was contemplating suicide, but I think she was making a statement, as if one day the real killer would pass her by down Burton Road East and she’d point and say, that’s him. It was a sad and lonely vigil.

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feature author Melissa Keir has always wanted to be an author when she wasn’t hoping for a career as a racecar driver. Her love of books was instilled by her mother and grandparents who were avid readers. She’d often sneak books away from them so that she could fantasize about those strong alpha males and plucky heroines. Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a movie reviewer with WHMI (a local radio station), owner of a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice- a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature happy endings and is often seen plotting her next story.

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Uncaged welcomes Melissa Keir! Uncaged: What inspires you to write in the western romance genre? Can you tell us more about the Cowboys of Colorado series? I love writing about men who love nature, their family and treat women like queens. Most Cowboys are downhome and caring. They take care of their homes and families, work hard and aren’t afraid to get dirty. The first book in the Cowboys of Whisper, Colorado was inspired by a student I had who was selectively mute. She was receiving equine therapy to help with her anxiety. Taking a piece from her life and from another piece of my history, I wove the story together. After all, who wouldn’t love finding a way to help your child? Uncaged: How many books are you planning for the series? Can you tell us what is coming next?

melissakeir.com

The Cowboys of Whisper, Colorado keeps growing. Each time I think I’m finished, another character pipes up and wants a story. I don’t have a plan for when it will be done. I’m working on some other books at this time but my next story in the series will be the story of the owner of the pizza place. He was a secondary character in Bidding for the Cowboy’s Heart. Uncaged: You are an attending author of Wild Deadwood Reads coming up. Are there any other conven-

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tions you are attending this year? What is your favorite part about attending? This is my first time attending Wild Deadwood Reads. I’m excited to see the area. South Dakota has been on my bucket list and getting to be a part of this amazing book signing has me on top of the world. I am attending Once Upon a Book in Frankenmuth, Michigan in August. It’s a fun event which features a dance party, amazing dinner and the best readers! My favorite part of attending book signings is meeting people. I love to meet other readers and have become close friends with some as well as meeting readers. There’s nothing like talking to someone who has enjoyed your story. It’s like winning a million dollars. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them? Reading reviews is a double-edge sword. I like hearing what people think about the story but some reviews can hurt. I do always try to find the positive and take away the constructive criticism. I value any time someone reads one of my books and appreciate hearing what they think of them. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? Recently, someone told me I was one of their favorite

authors. It was such a stunner for me because I’m a fangirl myself and follow my favorite authors. This person said they loved how my stories were always a “feel-good” read for them and filled with positivity. I do firmly believe we need a little more Happily Ever After in our lives! Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite? My favorite part of being an author is giving life to my stories. I enjoy putting the ideas and characters down on paper and seeing them come alive. I’m a little strange because there isn’t really anything I don’t like about writing. I even love edits and learn so much! But since you asked, my least favorite is promotions. I like to talk about a variety of things but I don’t like to “push” my books. I’d rather share about what I had for dinner or the crazy things my dogs did. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Be sure to check out my bio. You can see I’m a busy person. I adore guest teaching and working with students. I substitute in a variety of classrooms from pre-school special education to middle school. I also appear on the radio each Monday giving my thoughts on the latest movies. In addition, I own a publishing house where I give Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | authors a chance to realize their dreams of being published. Add in a wonderful husband, children and my silly pets…I don’t have much downtime. Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book? The hardest part of the book to write is the middle. I have an idea of the whole story but the small pieces in the middle are ones where I get stuck. It’s like I can see the road but there are all these roadblocks I have to get over to reach the prize. The easiest part is the first page. I love putting those words down and starting a new story. It can take me three to five weeks to complete a book. My stories are novella length which means you can read them in one sitting and enjoy your happily ever after before you close your eyes at night! Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you Uncaged for giving me this time to share my books with your readers. And thank you to all the people who have picked up one of my stories and given me a chance. I know it takes a leap of faith to spend money on a new author and I appreciate you taking the time and money on mine. I enjoy meeting and chatting with readers on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/melissaakeir). Please friend me and reach out! I’d love to hear about your favorite food or what you would do if company suddenly arrived at your home unexpectedly. I also am on Amazon (https://www.amazon. com/Melissa-Keir/e/B0078TCJX2/), where you can get an email each time a new book releases. If you want to stay up to date and get sneak peeks at my covers and books before they are released, you can join my group on Facebook (https://www. facebook.com/groups/281344902289428). Melissa’s Mod Squad is not a street team per se. I don’t 50 | UncagedBooks.com

ask you to share or promote, just be there and see what others won’t see until later. :)

Enjoy an excerpt from Broken Dreams Broken Dreams Melissa Keir Western Romance Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned…. Trey Arking was on his way to becoming TBC Pro-Rider of the Year until a bull named Brickhouse derailed his life, paralyzing him. Sara Corday wore Trey’s engagement ring and dreamed of their life together. Her dreams altered when his life changed. Trey is unable to see the wonderful future of his dreams from a wheelchair, but Sara is determined to help him see hers. Can these two stubborn people find a way to live again? Excerpt Doctor James Marshall, the neurological specialist, strode into the room, his gray hair cut close to his head, his walk purposeful, his gaze focused on the chart in his hands. Trey’d met the man for the first time yesterday when he’d woken up. Dr. Marshall had come in to do some tests on his legs and reflexes as well as discuss the results of MRIs on his spine. The man wore a perpetual scowl, thereby intimidating him. Trey couldn’t get a read on his results, no friendly bedside manner, no small talk, only short, clipped questions and grunts when Trey had asked questions. The man’s “resting bitch face” would be wonderful at a Vegas blackjack table. No one would be able to tell when he had the winning hand. Trey was positive the doctor would make millions. Having Sara beside him, hearing the prognosis as well,


would give him perspective. Trey would be able to discuss exactly what the doctor said and recommended with someone who had a vested interest in his improvement. He hoped she didn’t get overly emotional, though. She’d always worn her heart on her sleeve, and he didn’t need to worry about upsetting her along with trying to deal with any news he’d receive. His focus would be on walking. Sitting in a wheelchair for the rest of his life wasn’t an option. And if he didn’t get the answers he wanted from Dr. Marshall, he was sure there were other doctors, more experienced doctors, he could contact. “All right, Doc. Give it to me straight. When will I walk again?” Trey believed in getting right to the heart of the matter. No beating around the bush. At Sara’s gasp, he looked at her. Her hands were in her lap, twisting around a handkerchief. It appeared she was creating origami animals, the way the piece of fabric twisted and folded. Sara wore her shoulder-length blonde hair up, off her neck. Her regal look was complemented by the green blouse and black skirt she wore. She was beautiful, sexy, and he wanted to eat her up. But nothing was happening down below his waist. Trey glanced at the blankets on his lap then back up to the doctor. The sadness in Dr. Marshall’s gaze sent Trey’s stomach spinning. “I’m sorry, Mr. Arking. There’s still swelling of the spinal cord area. We removed some fragments of the backbone that were pushing on the cord, irritating it near the L1-L2 lumbar region. At this time, we are unable to tell if the cord is damaged. If there is damage to the cord, it would depend on where precisely, as to what it might affect. The lumbar region has the best success rate for recovery, but that’s not a guarantee. We give patients up to one year for improvements. We will continue with physical therapy to help with muscular atrophy and to strengthen the core, which, in turn, will help you, should you improve enough to walk.” The doctor flipped through the chart to another page. “The good news is you have no intracranial hemorrhaging and the brain trauma has improved. Your most recent MRI showed no swelling and no cracks in the skull. While we aren’t sure about any secondary symptoms you might exhibit, such as a loss of memory or depression, we will also continue to monitor those issues. We

| MELISSA KEIR | are confident the coma was helpful in giving your body time to heal.” Dr. Marshall tucked the chart under his arm and reached out to shake hands. “Thank you, Doc. I’m determined to get back to my life as soon as I can. I’ve already lost three months.” Trey’s words came out like a warning. “Mr. Arking, I understand determination. It’s what has gotten so many of the former military men and women back on their feet after coming home injured from overseas. But I have to caution you to not end up pushing so hard, you undo all the good work you accomplish. We will run our last batch of tests on your head and then, if there are no other issues, we will send you to a step-down rehabilitation center tomorrow.” “What’s this step-down? I don’t want to go to a nursing home and be surrounded by old people.” “It’s a place where patients go when they leave the hospital, but can’t go home yet. Most will be about your age, although some are teenagers and some are elderly. It’s not a nursing home. You’ll need physical therapy daily, ideally more than once a day, if you are as determined as you seem. The Wildbrook Center has medically trained therapists who specialize in spinal cord injuries. It’s your best shot.” The doctor nodded at Sara and closed the door. Sara stood and leaned over, getting into his face. “Trey Arking, you will do what the doctor tells you. I am just glad you are here. You coded twice in the ambulance.” She shook her finger in his face. “You died. Do you understand? They had to jump-start your heart. Then you were in a coma. We didn’t know if you were goin’ to come out, let alone speak to me again.” Her anger dissolved into tears as she laid her head on his shoulder and cried. Trey patted her back and held her close. He looked over her shoulder at the wall of windows overlooking the nurses’ station. “Shhh, honey. It’ll be okay.” He brushed a slip of hair that had escaped her bun off her face. “Curl up here next to me and rest. I’ve got you.” Sara nodded and climbed onto the bed. She curled up under Trey’s arm and snuggled in close to his body. Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Soon, Trey could hear her restful breathing, indicating she’d fallen asleep. It felt right to have her in his arms. He studied her body. She’s lost weight. Probably not taking care of herself, worried about him. Trey sighed and tugged a blanket over her. Trey wanted to get better so he could be the man she deserved, the husband she needed. He knew she’d been by his side since the accident. It was the kind of woman she was. Sometimes he wondered who was more stubborn, him or her. *** Sara’s neck hurt. She tried to turn over, but her leg cramped up. Charley horse! The pain! She stretched down to rub her calf and stuck her knee through the rail of the bed. “Oomph!” She tried untangling herself and fell over Trey’s legs with her ass stuck up in the air. Her hair had long ago fallen out of her bun and covered her now-heated face. Whack! Sara jumped up and looked at her fiancé’s shiteating grin. “Did you smack me?” Trey raised his brows and smiled wider. “Who me?” She growled at him. “Since you are the only person in the room…” As ladylike as she could, Sara climbed off the bed, straightened her outfit, and stood next to Trey with her hands on her hips. “What was that for?” She was glad to see the twinkle in his eyes. She’d been so worried over the last few weeks. “Come here, woman.” Trey wiggled his finger. “A good wife gives her husband a kiss when she wakes up.” “I’m not your wife, yet.” She enjoyed their bantering. Trey’s looks were the first thing that had attracted her. The tight Wranglers and cowboy shirt stretching tight across his chest. But it was his sense of humor and witty mind that cemented her love for him. “What if I say please?” He used his puppy dog eyes in order to sway her. “Begging might help.” She winked at him. Then 52 | UncagedBooks.com

Sara strolled over, her hips swaying, her hands lifting her hair off her neck again. This was a woman’s power. She stopped just before reaching the bed, undid the top button on her blouse then another. After three buttons, she pulled back the collar, exposing the tops of her breasts, and ran her fingertip across them. Trey watched her closely. His eyes were glued to her motions. Trey’s breathing sped up. Sara leaned in and gently bit his bottom lip then ran her tongue over it. Trey reached up and pulled her face closer, pressing their lips together in a passionate kiss. When she pulled back, she was breathing heavily herself. “Are you happy, now?” she teased. “It’s a start.” He winked at her. “If I’d have known how hot you got over a smack on the butt, I’d have been giving you them for a while now.” Sara turned and looked at her fiancé over her shoulder. “A girl’s gotta have some secrets. Now, I know this place has food coming for you, but I’m going to hit the cafeteria. Do you want anything?” “Naw. Just you. Why don’t you bring your food up here and we can have a picnic lunch in bed?” Trey patted the spot next to him. Sara rubbed her nape. “Only if you promise to give me a massage. Sleeping all scrunched up put a crick in my neck.” “I’ll massage you, you massage me.” He wiggled his brows. Sara blew Trey a kiss as she left the room. She had a bounce in her step as she strolled into the elevator. At least Trey’s personality wasn’t affected by his injuries.

Uncaged Review We start right off in the action, with Trey getting ready to ride a bull that no cowboy has ever managed to stay on for 8 seconds. If he manages to ride the bull, he’ll win the Championship and take home a purse of $200,000 – a great start to his life with Sara – with their wedding only a few months away. Trey does manage to ride the bull, but when he has trouble dismounting and getting hurt, he wakes up in the hospital – three months later, and paralyzed from the waist down. Depressed that he can’t be the man


| MELISSA KEIR | that Sara needs, he pushes her away. But Sara won’t back down so easily. This is a novella length, and it felt a bit rushed and I would have loved to have had a bit longer of a book, because the characters are easy to like and I think they could have been explored even further. Even though this is book five in a series and I had not read the other books, I had no problem at all – it read perfectly fine as a standalone. As for the characters, there were times I felt empathy for Trey, and other times I felt like kicking him myself – and then cheering him on as he moved in the right direction. I would like to have read more about Sara, as it seemed she was on a back-burner for part of the story. I really enjoyed the epilogue and I’m looking forward to more from this author. Reviewed by Cyrene

Don’t miss these titles The Heartsong Cowboy Melissa Keir Western Romance Can two people, one horse and the power of love cure a little girl? Angela French blames herself for her daughter’s lack of voice. Determined to do anything to correct the situation, she seeks out Jake Kyncade, the owner of The Heartsong Ranch. Jake Kyncade hides his own sorrows behind his nononsense demeanor. Helping children becomes one way to correct his past. Using equine therapy, he sets out to make a difference. Can Jake help Angela’s dreams come true or will Jake’s past bring more heartache? Will love save them all?

The House That Built Me Melissa Keir Contemporary Short Country’s newest rising star, Mandy Watkins, disappears from the limelight for a while with the help of her good friend. She’s got a lot on her plate and needs some time to figure out who she is. Travis Perkins loves gardening after teaching at the local high school. He’s determined to leave the world in a better state either through his connections with his students or his garden. When Mandy lands on Travis’s doorstep, he believes she will be just another of his projects, but what neither of them expect is how much their hearts may change. Can two people with only the love of an old home find a deep, lasting love? Or will their relationship end like the notes of a country tune?

melissakeir.com

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feature authors

mystery urban fantasy young adult

Nancy G. West

Ravin Tija Maurice

Lee Ann Ward


feature author Aggie Mundeen, weird, wise, and funny, popped up in the suspense novel Nancy was writing, Nine Days to Evil. Aggie demanded that Nancy write a story about her. Or maybe a series. Aggie, Detective Sam, and their friends are still in Nancy’s head. Each novel in the series has won or been nominated for an award. So there’s more to come. Stay tuned. Please welcome Nancy G. West!

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Uncaged: River City Dead is the fourth book in the Aggie Mundeen Mystery series. Can you tell readers more about this series? Aggie Mundeen worked her way up to VP of a Chicago bank which was bought by a conglomerate. She also wrote the “Stay Young with Aggie,” column, answering readers’ questions about everything from fitness to relationships. When her bank stock shot sky high, she realized she no longer had to work there. She could write her column from anywhere. She was past thirty-five: this was her chance to start over. She knew someone in San Antonio, a detective who lost his wife and daughter in a tragic accident and had moved to the River City six months before. Sunshine, fiestas, and a man she knew and admired. Why not San Antonio? Uncaged: Is this an open-end series or do you have a set amount of books planned for the series? Aggie moves to River City, and decides that with her curiosity and intelligence, she can help Detective Sam Vanderhoven solve cases. He’s not always pleased, but by book four, River City Dead, they’ve reached a level of understanding and a new place in their dicey rela-


tionship. In the next book, a crisis shows them it’s time to re-evaluate. The forthcoming Aggie Mundeen Lake Mysteries veer in a slightly different direction. Stay tuned. Uncaged: Are you planning on attending any conventions or in-person signings this year? At Left Coast Crime, Reno, I’m on a panel discussing how important setting is to a mystery—like attending Fiesta on the San Antonio River Walk and stumbling on a crime. At Malice Domestic in Washington, D. C., our panel talks about Sleuthing Duos: How do two people approach crime solving when they rarely think alike and tend to head in opposite directions? Between these two conventions, I’ll be at San Antonio’s Emma Hotel, “An Evening with the Author,” and at the San Antonio Book Festival, ready to sign all of Aggie’s stories and visit with people who stop by. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them? Always. When I see how readers respond to Aggie and Sam, it helps me know how to approach their next adventure. When you post a review on Amazon or

Goodreads or elsewhere, I feel like I’ve connected with you, and I love it! Uncaged: Can you tell us what you have coming up next? See number Two. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? That they fell in love with Aggie. That they laughed aloud at some places in the book. That they would like to marry Sam. Uncaged: What is your favorite part about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite? My favorite parts are imagining what might happen next to my beloved characters and talking with readers. My least favorite part is working on deadlines. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Read. Be with my family. Listen to music. Watch the lazy river go by. Daydream. Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book? The hardest part is making the plot flow logically. It’s easy to assume things that I haven’t made clear to the reader. The easiest part for me is writing scenes between Aggie and Sam. Finishing a book can take six months, eight months, or a year. It depends on the complexity of the plot, the amount of research needed, how life intervenes when I thought I’d be writing, and deadlines set by the publisher. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I hope they love Aggie, Sam and the people they meet as much as I do. Readers can find me on Facebook: https://www. facebook.com/authorNancyG.West/ Twitter: @NancyGWest_ or visit me on my website: www.nancygwest.com If you sign up there for my newsletter, you can enter drawings for free books, and I promise intrigue and fun sent directly to your email. (I will never share your name or address.) Thank you, Uncaged, for your questions. They uncaged my brain.

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Enjoy an excerpt from Ghosts Through the Mist River City Dead Nancy G. West Cozy Mystery Advice columnist Aggie Mundeen and SAPD Detective Sam Vanderhoven plan their first rendezvous at a San Antonio River Walk hotel during Fiesta Week—sumptuous sights, sounds, and festivities in the middle of America’s Venice. A vacation from crime and a reset for their tumultuous relationship. But murder descends on the Casa Prima Hotel. Disturbing revelations surface about the Fabulous Femmes, Aggie’s new friends holding a convention. Evil emerges at parties in La Villita. Calamity plagues Aggie’s debut dance performance at the Arneson River Theater, the celebration skewed by carousing, crazies, and corpses. Even in idyllic River City, crime complicates relationships Excerpt April 1998 Not every city has a river running through it. And not many women plan a rendezvous at a San Antonio River Walk hotel during Fiesta Week after years of self-imposed celibacy. I was about to make history. Sam and I were meeting at Casa Prima Hotel. Hopefully our first days and nights together in River City would be more fiesta than fiasco. And we could avoid dealing with crime. To calm the jumping beans in my stomach, I decided to make a quick detour to Barnes and Noble. Instead of turning south from Hildebrand toward downtown, I turned north on Highway 281 and headed toward Loop 410. If SAPD called Sam away, I’d need something to read. He assured me they wouldn’t contact him, but sometimes they had to rely on an experienced homicide detective for a difficult case. Barnes and Noble was packed. After a lengthy


| NANCY G. WEST | search through half the store, I found aisles brimming with romance novels. I didn’t relish being caught scouring this area. In my Flash-News column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” I answered readers’ questions about everything from fitness to relationships. As an “expert,” I wasn’t supposed to need help. It wasn’t as though I was innocent. I became painfully experienced after Lester the Louse seduced me when I was barely eighteen, impregnated me and vanished like mist. But stories of other people’s romances might be enlightening. Slipping down an unoccupied aisle, I reached for a title that caught my eye, A Well-Spent Night. A bare-chested, muscled Scottish hunk wearing a plaid kilt bulged from the cover. I squinted at the title, which upon closer inspection actually read, A WellSpent Knight. Worked either way. I flipped pages to the middle, found what I was looking for and started reading. There was a lot of heavy breathing and rippling biceps, but it never said why the guy wore a kilt or how he got it off. I’d wondered about that. Historical romance might not be the thing. I replaced the book and continued down the aisle. The face-out cover of Steaming in Hawaii gleamed with electric blue ocean water and swaying palm trees. A gorgeous half-dressed couple grasped each other beside the cobalt ocean. Sam and I would have a swimming pool at our River Walk hotel. Close enough. I slipped the novel off the shelf and flipped through pages. The title did not refer to steam from Hawaii’s volcanoes. Skimming pages, I noticed contemporary novels offered details and felt my body parts tingling. From the corner of my eye, I saw a young sales girl eyeing me. Was my face flushing? “Can I help you?” About twenty-five with swinging hair and a pouty mouth, she looked sexy, bored, and all-knowing. Whipping the novel under the arm laden with my shoulder purse, I reached blindly toward the shelf for another novel, hoping I didn’t look like a waif grasping for crumbs. “So many choices.” I doused her with my superior bank teller expression. “I doubt if any of these books are really that good.” Another cover caught my eye with the title The Long Hard Ride. A shirtless muscle-bound cowboy stood spreadlegged front and

center while a steer romped around behind him. I snatched the book off the shelf. “Imagine that,” I said. “You even have westerns.” She smirked. Some urge compelled me to jabber. “I don’t think he could ride a steer dressed like that.” The new-fangled phone jangled in my purse. I resented the impertinent metal box demanding my attention. Digging to retrieve it, I dropped the books. The sales girl swiveled over and scooped them up. “I’ll keep these at the counter while you search for more.” She cocked a corner of her sulky mouth before walking away. I fumbled to flip open my Motorola StarTrac. “Where are you?” It was Sam, using his professional detective voice. “I just needed a few things. Have you seen the…our room?” “You need to get down here, Aggie. We have problems. I’ll meet you in the lobby.” He hung up. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. Scouting the quickest route to the exit to avoid the sales girl, I skirted through rows of books, sailed out into the sunshine and headed for my Wagoneer. I rolled down the windows, leaned my head back on the seat and inhaled clean April air, convincing myself that whatever problem Sam encountered couldn’t be that bad. Revived, I cranked up Albatross, my station wagon, headed south on 281 and turned right on McCullough toward Broadway, the main thoroughfare to downtown and the Fiesta parade route. Huge paper flowers with streaming ribbons decorated doors. Shop windows proclaimed “VIVA FIESTA!” Crews were setting up roadside bleachers for several hundred thousand people to watch parades later this week. Civic-minded ladies organized the first parade to honor President Polk’s visit, stopping horse-drawn carriages in front of the president’s viewing stand to lay wreaths in front of the Alamo, the shrine of Texas’ independence. Resuming their parade, they threw flower petals at onlookers, creating the Battle of Flowers Parade in 1891, the first Fiesta event. How perfect that Sam Vanderhoven and I Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | would begin blending our lives during Fiesta. At least that’s what I hoped we were doing. Since he was an SAPD Homicide Detective, I naturally tried to impress him with my investigate skills. Unfortunately, my headstrong (he might say, “irrational”) behavior frustrated him. The last time I intervened against his advice, I almost got myself killed. At least the crisis made us realize we loved each other. We’d even pledged to trust one another, which might prove to be the bigger hurdle. The towering Casa Prima Hotel loomed in the next block, re-activating my jumping beans. What did Sam’s call mean? Had he discovered a crime, considered the burden of my pesky interference and decided to jettison our rendezvous?

Uncaged Review A very witty cozy mystery, and although this is the 4th book in a series, I was not lost at all, I was easily able to pick up with the book and get a nice grip on the characters. Would it have been better if I had gotten to know the characters from the first book? Of course, but the author does a nice job making sure readers new to this series can run with wherever they decide to begin. Aggie is finally getting her romantic weekend with her beau, Sam, during Fiesta Week in San Antonio. But a crime gets in the way, and in the hotel room that Sam had booked for their getaway. As Sam investigates, Aggie does her own sleuthing. This is a fun and entertaining read all the way through with enough twists and turns to keep mystery lovers happy and running back for more. The story felt clean and fresh and kept a nice pace and the author did a nice job keeping the characters believable and likeable. Reviewed by Cyrene

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feature author Ravin Tija Maurice lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada with her husband and daughter. Her books span several time periods and feature a diverse cast of characters, all with a paranormal twist. She loves to binge watch television shows, has a large collection of stuffed animals, and is a history geek. A lifelong writer, she is constantly trying to find ways to grow and learn new skills to improve her craft. Uncaged welcomes Ravin Tija Maurice

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Uncaged: Prophecy Girl is the first book in the Camille Bishop series. Can you tell readers more about the series? Prophecy Girl is an urban fantasy novel about Camille Bishop, a young private investigator in Toronto, Canada. The story revolves around her and the first case that she does solo and how it completely changes her life. As soon as Jane Lowry came into Camille’s office her life gets flipped on its head, and she discovers that nothing she knows is as it seems.

authorravintmaurice.weebly.com

Uncaged: How many books are you planning for the series? As many as I can! I am in love with Camille and her story, and I can’t wait to see what adventures happen next. I also have other ideas for new characters in the same world that would get their own book. Uncaged: You also have a series out called The Afflicted. What can you tell us about that series?

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The Afflicted is the story of a young woman named Katrine and what happens to her when she finds out she is a descendant of the famed Blood Countess Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Bathory. Countess Bathory is believed to have been a serial killer and bathed in the blood of virgins (which is not true, but is part of her legend). It’s paranormal historical fiction and takes place in the 1600’s in Europe. It’s something different, but if you like history you should check it out. Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them? I do read reviews. Not all of them, but some of them. I hope to learn something from them, whether it’s something a reader really loved or something that they feel needs work. I like to think I can take a little something from every review and it helps me grow and learn as an author. Uncaged: Can you tell us what you have coming up next? Right now I am hard at work on the second Camille Bishop novel. I am also exploring the stories of other

characters in the same universe. Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books? One of the first reviews I got of Rebirth, my debut novel, said that Katrine’s story was captivating. That was really amazing. Also, someone told me that Prophecy Girl reminds them of the early Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels by Laurell K Hamilton which is amazing. I am a HUGE Laurell K Hamilton and Anita Blake fan and to be mentioned in the same sentence as those remarkable women is an absolute honor. Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite? I love sharing my stories, and I love getting to read other people’s stories. Being involved in the book world has been life changing for me. I love everything about the process and about interacting with readers. I feel like I have found my people for the Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | first time in my life. My least favorite part? That is a hard one. Having to navigate social media is my least favorite. I still feel like a beginner in so many ways, every time I think I get the hang of it something new comes out and I am lost again! Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? When I’m not writing I enjoy reading and spending time with my husband and three year old daughter. We like to watch movies and spend time outdoors. Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book? The hardest part? A synopsis! I am not good at them at all. I also struggle with making the blurb on the back of the book seem dynamic. From start to finish it takes me anywhere from eight months to a year to write a book. But edits and revisions don’t take too long, so once it’s done it moves rather fast from there. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thanks for taking the time to read my interview! And I hope you enjoy my books as much as I enjoyed writing them. Camille’s story is just getting started and I cannot wait to share more with you all! You can follow me on most social media, but facebook, twitter and instagram are the ones I frequent the most. Prophecy Girl even has its own twitter and instagram! It’s @prophecygirl13 on both platforms. I look forward to hearing from you! Come by and say hi.

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Enjoy an excerpt from Prophecy Girl Prophecy Girl Ravin Tija Maurice Urban Fantasy I never thought my life could get any weirder, then Jane Lowry came into my office. It seemed like a straightforward paternity case. Something simple for my first solo assignment as a private investigator. Everyone has secrets. Jane Lowry’s would lead me down a path that would completely change my life. I knew the world was full of crazy things but nothing could have prepared me for how crazy it would get. Excerpt My name is Camille Bishop. I might be just like you. Only, I’m not. Jane Lowry fidgeted nervously, twisting the brightly coloured beads on her Pandora bracelet. She would look at me, and then quickly look away like she was somehow not confident enough to speak to me. There was a thin sheen of sweat on her forehead by her hairline. She blinked a lot. I wondered if she thought it would stop her pupils from dilating. All it did was make her look more nervous. She couldn’t have been more than eighteen years old. “Why don’t you tell me why you are here, Miss Lowry?” I asked. She turned her body towards me. My office was so small there wasn’t much room. The sides of my desk each touched a wall, and the only way around it was to climb over it. “I want to find my real father,” she said, making eye contact then immediately looking away. “I believe the man who I’ve always thought is my father....isn’t. But I have to prove it on my own. Can you help me?” I started making notes. For my first case this seemed


| RAVIN TIJA MAURICE | pretty standard. “Well, we need to gather some DNA so we can run a test,” I began. I made sure that I kept my eyes on her, regardless of if she turned hers away from me. She reached into her purse and pulled out four zip lock bags, two with toothbrushes and two with hair. All labelled. “Oh. Well, you’re efficient. Aren’t you?” I continued. “Now, what can you tell me about the man you believe to be your father?” She touched her face nervously. “I don’t know anything about him except he’s.....” She moved around uneasily, returning to fidgeting with the beads on her bracelet. I’d been around the P.I game since I was young and I’d heard a lot of craziness. I would be impressed if she shocked me. “I think he’s not of this world, you know? With these health issues I have it would explain a lot,” she blurted out. She went from relaxed and looking around the room to nervous again when she looked at my face. “You have to be more specific.” “I think he’s a....creature of the night.” She couldn’t be serious. I started to wonder if Jane Lowry was a prank set up by my cousin to torture me. I tried to keep my expression level but prepared for this to turn shitty in an instant. I cleared my throat. “Excuse me?” “I think he’s a creature. Part of a bigger network of creatures, actually.” I wrote it all down. I wasn’t sure what she meant by ‘creature’. Some people called prostitutes creatures of the night. I wasn’t about to mock my first client, though. Besides, there was a time when something unexplainable consumed a large part of my life. “Does he have a name?” I asked. She looked uncomfortable again, and my instinct said she had a name but didn’t want to give it to me. “No. That’s another reason why I am here. I need a name and I want to know exactly who I am dealing with before I approach them - if I even can.” “Okay. Well, I will send these samples off and we should know in a few days,” I said, “but with the info you gave me I can do some poking around. Now,

we need to talk about fees. The DNA test is not cheap.” She pulled out a rolled up wad of cash a few inches thick. She smiled, clearly proud of her achievement. She blushed. “I knew it wasn’t cheap so I’ve been saving. I’m not sure if you can understand what it’s like to know that something went on with your parents that regular minds can’t grasp. You can’t talk to anyone about it.” I smiled at her. My parents had been killed by the mob when I was thirteen years old. What I saw often haunted my thoughts. Visions of death and ghosts that took me years to suppress. “Don’t worry, Miss Lowry. You don’t have to justify anything to me. Hopefully I can find you some information that will set your mind at ease.”

Uncaged Review This book is a slow burner. It starts out with a good informational background, but is never dull, but it really starts ramping up around the half way point, and it takes so many twists and turns that you won’t expect. This did not start out as a typical urban fantasy, but it ended it up there. Camille works for her Uncle as a Private Investigator. When a client shows up, and seems like a slam-dunk paternity case – Camille finds herself immersed in a world she never knew – and finds herself along the way. This book sets a great pace – and the characters and the world is well thought out. It is written in first person, so it takes time to picture the people in your mind as those type of explanations are left up to Camille to convey to the reader. Some great storytelling going on, and I look forward to how this story plays out in the coming books. But be warned…this ends on a killer of a cliffhanger. Reviewed by Cyrene

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CatchUp with

Christine Rees

Christine Rees’ book, The Hidden Legacy won a Raven Award in 2017 for Favorite New Adult/ Young Adult. Uncaged: You are following up your Raven Award winning novel, The Hidden Legacy with book two this year. What can you tell us about the follow up? I don’t want to reveal too much – just that it is currently in-works and I am aiming to have it released by the end of 2018. Faye’s journey has been tough, but she has great friends who are willing to stand by her as some of the darkest days loom ahead. With the Seekers hot on their trail, the rag-tag team need to work together now more than ever. Uncaged: What was being a featured author in Uncaged and winning a Raven Award mean to you? Was it a positive experience? It means so much to me. I am still surprised and thrilled to have won! Of course it’s been a positive experience. Uncaged Book Reviews was one of the first eMagazines to feature me as an author and write one of THE HIDDEN LEGACY’s first reviews. I am honored to win the Raven Award. Uncaged: Who or what inspires your writing? Wow. This is tough to answer because I have a who and a what that inspires my writing. The who includes many authors who have influenced my writing and roped me back into reading in my younger years. Some of my favorite and most influential authors include, but are not limited to: Meg Cabot, Ellen Hopkins, Kelley Armstrong, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The what that inspires my writing is a mixture 66 | UncagedBooks.com

between going on runs, the people in my day-to-day life, and music. Music is my ultimate influence because it shapes my ideas into stories. It’s always been tough to explain this process because it comes so naturally. When I have an idea for a book, genres of music push the story along in my mind. For example, rock music tends to bring action or fighting scenes. Sad or slow songs could create a moment of emotional impact for the lead character. Music is the clay that molds my idea into a story. Uncaged: You also have an active blog. Has it helped you connect to readers? My blog is definitely an outlet to connect with others who are passionate about reading and writing. It has helped me connect with readers, but I discovered that Instagram and the #bookstagram community have brought me closer to readers and general book lovers. I have met so many lovely bookstagrammers who have read my book simply because we keep in touch! It’s incredible. Canadian teen fiction author Christine Rees is a Western University graduate, Sheridan alumni, and lover of all literature. Christine spends most of her time traveling, writing books, and helping others pursue their passion. She is also an admitted TV junkie, inspirational blogger, and animal enthusiast. Winning the 2017 Raven Award for Favorite New and Young Adult, THE HIDDEN LEGACY is Christine’s debut paranormal, suspense novel.

christinerees.com


| CHRISTINE REES | The Hidden Legacy Christine Rees YA/Fantasy The curse of premonition follows Faye Lithyer, forcing her to witness death—over and over again. When Faye moves in with her grandmother in Astoria, Oregon, her visions grow stronger. Faye watches a new friend fall victim to a murder in the not-so-distant future and becomes obsessed with preventing it from happening. However, Faye’s insecurity has her undecided whether she should tell her friend about their impending death or hunt down the murderer before it’s too late. Faye will be faced with an epic choice that threatens to expose her abilities. Will she choose to save her friend from a monster or risk becoming one herself?

I couldn’t answer her. I was still stuck in the premonition of her death. It was killing me to see it happen again and I refused to watch any more. I wanted to cry. I wanted out. I wanted out NOW. Colors and chattering exploded around me and I had to blink a few times before my eyes focused on a worried-looking Rachel sitting next to me. She wasn’t being attacked. She wasn’t in faded colors. She was in photography class. Safe. For now. My eyes teared up when I noticed the stares students were giving me. Did people know what an outsider I was? Had I scared Rachel away? Without knowing what else to do, I pushed out my chair and walked out of the classroom. I just cleared the doorway when the tears began falling. Then I ran.

Excerpt Oh no, please, not while I’m in class! Rachel was running through the park again, but even though this was the third time I was watching the attack, it felt different. Something changed, but was that possible? She sped past where I was sitting on a park bench. “Help!” she screamed. I wanted to help but she was so far out of reach. “Faye? Are you okay?” Rachel’s voice appeared distant in reality. I was getting caught between the vision and the real world. Hopefully, I only looked spaced out. In the vision, Rachel was cut off by the first attacker as she always was. So she ran back towards me. I smacked the bench I found myself sitting on and managed to give myself a sliver. Why? Why was this happening? Why did this keep happening? “Faye,” Rachel whispered in reality. “What’s going on? Why are you acting like this?” Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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feature author Lee Ann Ward is an award-winning fiction author with a background in journalism and mass communications. She is also the former Senior Editor of Champagne Books. Her love of books started at the age of three, and she’s been addicted ever since. She’s published 9 novels and has written several more. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, singing, baking designer cakes, bowling and dreaming. She’s married to Joe and they have 4 sons whom they adore, and a granddaughter who is the love of their life. They make their home in the small fishing community of Bayou La Batre, Alabama.

Stay Connected

leeannward.com

Uncaged welcomes Lee Ann Ward Uncaged: You definitely captured a teenager perfectly in See with Carlie and her friends. Can you tell readers more about See? Thank you so much! Certainly. SEE is the story of Carlie Henson, a pretty and popular, All-American girl. She has a gorgeous boyfriend and a mother who lives to keep her safe. Probably because everyone is drawn to Carlie…including the murderers she has the ability to identify when she looks in the eyes of their victims. Keeping Carlie’s secret seems simple when all she has to do is avoid dead people. But when a cheerleader at her high school is murdered and the killer seems to have gotten away with it, Carlie knows what she has to do. With the help of her boyfriend, Dillon, she devises a plan to see what she must, no matter her personal safety. But when Dillon is the one who’s injured in the showdown with the killer, Carlie vows to never help anyone again…until the next young woman attacked is her best friend, Jenna. Uncaged: What inspires you to write in the YA genre? Have you dabbled in other genres or plan to in the future? What do you have coming up in the near future?

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I have always adored the YA genre. Probably because I devoured books as a teen, and I enjoyed the relatable voice in young adult fiction. Fortunately, as an author, I’ve never lost that voice. I do have books published in the adult romance genre as well, but I do prefer YA. I have sequels to SEE and two of my other YA titles coming about in the near future, and I recently completed an adult women’s thriller novel with my writing partner, Michael Neff. Our penname is Michael-Ann Ward.

ers are specific about why they liked the book, or even when they point out areas where the story could’ve been stronger. There is no growth as a writer without constructive criticism, and I learn something new every day. I encourage all readers to leave reviews, especially on Amazon. Reviews are a writer’s best friend.

Uncaged: You had a Facebook launch party for See. How do those types of promotional events work for authors?

The nicest thing anyone has ever said to me about one of my books was that it helped her through a dark time in her life, and after reading my story, she knew someone understood and she didn’t feel so alone anymore. That phone call from a fan solidified my passion to write. And I love what I do.

Launch parties are great because you capture the excitement of your readers, who are always asking, “Hey, when’s your next book coming out?” They can order your new book during the party and receive prizes for doing so. It’s great! And, they get to interact with me, other guest authors, and fellow readers as well. It’s a total blast! Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them? Yes, I read all of my reviews. And I love it when read-

Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books?

Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite? My favorite part about being an author is connecting with my fans. I love reading their messages or autographing one of my books for them (and when they say it’s their favorite). I write for my readers, and they are the favorite part about what Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | I do. My least favorite part about being a writer? Rejection. Querying and pitching publishers IS NOT FUN!! But I am thrilled to be a part of the Evernight Teen and Inkspell families. I have two amazing publishers. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I love to read, and baking designer cakes is my second career. I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my 18-month-old granddaughter, Lilliana Rose. Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book? To me, the hardest part of a book to write is the beginning. You must hook the reader from the first page, or you’ll lose them. The easiest is writing action scenes. When there’s a lot going on, my fingers start flying. The longest it has ever taken me to finish a book is 3 years (my book set in ancient Egypt took almost 3 years of research, and only 4 months of actual writing), and when SEE was originally titled Beholder, I wrote it in 6 weeks (keep in mind that it has since been rewritten 9 times, though). Each story is different, and so are the timeframes to write them, but I do always keep one hard, fast rule. I storyboard every book before I write it. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I would like to thank all of my fans, first and foremost. It thrills me when I hear from you, and I answer every single fan message or letter. You are why I do this.

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Enjoy an excerpt from See See Lee Ann Ward YA/Paranormal Carlie Henson is pretty, popular, and an All-American girl. She has a gorgeous boyfriend and a mother who lives to keep her safe. Probably because everyone is drawn to Carlie… including the murderers she has the ability to identify when she looks in the eyes of their victims. Keeping Carlie’s secret is pretty simple when all she has to do is avoid dead people. But when a cheerleader at her high school is murdered and the killer seems to have gotten away with it, Carlie knows what she has to do. With the help of her boyfriend, Dillon, she devises a plan to see what she must, no matter her personal safety. But when Dillon is the one who’s injured in the showdown with the killer, Carlie vows to never help anyone again…until the next young woman attacked is her best friend, Jenna. Excerpt CHAPTER 1 I was five and a half when I realized I could see him. I was five and a half, two days, and six hours when I realized he could see me too. There was nothing extraordinary about that night. Mom had long put me to bed, and she and Dad were watching an unsolved cold case show on TV. By the time I’d made my way downstairs for an unnecessary drink of water, a picture of a murdered lady was flashing on the screen. No one knew who’d killed her, and


| LEE ANN WARD | the cops had looked for the murderer for several years and given up. “That’s such a shame,” my dad had said. He was still around then. “Yeah, it is.” Mom’s words were dragging and nonchalant, as if she were reacting to some lame laundry detergent commercial or something. But not me. There I stood in my Belle Disney Princess nightgown, my gaze transfixed on the television. I couldn’t move—couldn’t look away. Something about the image of that dead woman struck a chord— her lifeless body and wide, opened eyes. All I could do was scream. “I know who killed her!” I remember the panic, the way it made my stomach ache and my skin crawl. “I know who did it! I can see his face!” “Carlie.” Dad picked me up, the exasperation in his voice as clear to me now as it had been ten years ago. “What are you doing out of bed? This is way too scary for you to be watching.” I was crying so hard my nose was running. “Daddy, I know who killed her! I can see him! I really can!” Mom turned off the TV and took me from Dad. The puzzled look she threw him let me know she was at least listening to my wild claim, and to this day I’m grateful for her next move. “Do you want Mommy to draw a picture of the face you’re seeing, sweet girl? Would that make you feel better?” “Linda, what the hell are you doing? Don’t encourage her.” Dad was pissed at me to be up that late. He was always such a tight ass about things like bedtime. “It might help her,” Mom insisted. “Something obviously has her freaked out, Patrick. I’m getting my sketchbook.” It’s the one time I was actually glad that my mom’s a sketch artist for the Pensacola Police Department’s Homicide Division. People describing perps to her so she can draw them never bothered me. But the photos of decomposed bodies—the ones of unidentified missing persons that she has to create faces for—totally creeps me out. Mom lit a lavender candle to help me relax and set me on her knee. “Go ahead, honey. Tell me what the man looks like.”

One hour and three holy shits from Dad later, I’d described a killer’s face, and Mom had him on paper. I was sure of it. But my parents were convinced I was simply spooked from seeing the dead lady on that show. Until two nights later when he came for me. A scratchy hand on my ankle wakes me, yanking, pulling, suspending me in mid-air for several seconds until my face is buried in a wide chest, wider than Daddy’s. Maybe it’s a giant. The stranger smells like dirt and worms—the fat ones in Granny’s garden. Slimy. Greasy. Nasty. I hate worms. “Dad—” The man shoves a hand against my mouth so hard I bite my lip. I want to cry out, but it’s useless. My lips are crushed. No sound comes from my racing lungs, no matter how hard I try to scream. His face is in my hair, against my ear. “Don’t make a sound,” he whispers, “or I’ll kill your parents.” Kill my parents? I’m frozen, silent. He tugs me to the window and my elbow scrapes the ledge on the way out. It burns and stings. Tears sting my eyes too, but I’m quiet. So quiet. We reach a car and he digs in his pocket with one hand while the other keeps me tightly against him. When he finds the keys and opens the car’s trunk, he starts to shove me inside it. I hate the dark. I can’t ride in there. Before he lets my mouth go, I bite down as hard as I can on two of his fingers. “Shit!” he screams. “Let go! Ahh, shit!” It hurts my mouth, but I don’t care. Something that tastes like dirty pennies hits my tongue as he throws me to the ground. I cover my face when I see a foot coming down in front of it, but then I hear a loud crack and the man falls. “Carlie!” “Daddy!” He drops the wooden bat and scoops me in his arms. Mom isn’t far behind, her eyes wide and hands shaking. After they call the police, Dad stands over the guy, daring him to wake up, and Mom rushes me to the couch to look me over for injuries. “Did you see him?” I ask when she brings me a glass of water and tells me to drink. “What do you mean, Carlie?” she asks, kissing my Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | forehead and stroking my hair, still grateful he hadn’t made off with me and that Dad had played baseball in college. “It’s him,” I mumble. “Him who?” I open the drawer on the coffee table and pull out the sketch we’d created two nights before. “The man who killed that lady.” She takes the drawing and springs from the couch. “Wait here, baby. Patrick!” She sprints outside to Daddy, but leaves the front door open. “Look at this. Oh my God! She’s right. It is him!” By the time the police arrive, the guy’s coming around from Dad’s brain bash, and all he says is, “She knows what I did. All these years, and that kid knows what I did.” Several months later, the scumbag is convicted and sentenced to death for killing Tara Shaw, the lady from the show. Trying to silence a five-yearold had sealed his fate…and mine too. Now we know that if I look in a murder victim’s eyes, I can see their killer. The only hang up with that is I attract the murderer straight to me as well. Irony blows. So I learned a long time ago not to open the oversized envelopes littering my kitchen table. Those are Mom’s bad photos. She spends hours drawing faces for them, and equally as much time reminding me to never look in the packages. Can’t have some psychopath coming after you like what happened when you were little. So that’s my life—avoiding yellow envelopes, true crime shows, the news, or anything corpse-like for… well...forever I guess.

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Uncaged Review This has to be one of the best YA books I’ve read in a long time. Ms. Ward captures a teenager perfectly, without the overabundance of angst that you find so much of. The paranormal part of the book is light – just the right touch. Carlie could have been me as a teenager, or any other reader. She’s moody but smart, and she’s not whiny, she’s a strong young woman that is loyal and stands up for herself and her friends. I even smiled at some of the interactions with her mother which I’m thinking a lot of readers will be able to connect with. On to the story. If Carlie looks into the eyes of a dead person, she can see the killer. The one bad part about that, is that the killer sees her too. So she makes it a point not to look, and that’s worked up until now. But when a friend is killed, Carlie will risk everything to bring the killer to justice. With her boyfriend trying to keep her safe, this book will keep you on the edge of sanity – and I hope you don’t have a habit of biting your fingernails, or you may not have any left. This is also a book that is written in first person that is done so well, that I had no problems picturing the places or the characters as I read along – which doesn’t always happen. A great suspenseful YA that needs more readers. Lee Ann Ward is one to watch. Reviewed by Cyrene

Don’t miss these titles:


| LEE ANN WARD |

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2018 Promotion Special Purchase any ad valued at $20 and up in 2018 (starting with the February Issue of Uncaged Book Reviews) and receive a FREE rotating footer ad on the website the following month! The rotating ad will be seen on all pages of the website, and not be subject to adblockers and remain onsite for 1 month!

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fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author

welcomes

Richard Godwin


| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |

Richard Godwin is the critically acclaimed author of novels Apostle Rising, Mr.Glamour, One Lost Summer, Noir City, Meaningful Conversations and Confessions Of A Hit Man. He is a crime and horror writer as well as a produced playwright. He was born in London and obtained a BA and MA in English and American Literature from King’s College London. His stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies. He has 29 distinct works in print.

richardgodwin.net

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FFT: In your new novel, “Android Love, Human Skin”, there are 4 genders, and most of the human population has no skin. I admit I was skeptical after reading the back cover. Then I read the story - compelling stuff. Where and how did this thought torquing concept originate? I was reading a lot of Philip K Dick. I was toying with the exploration of the extent to which we inhabit a nearfreezing (hence enclosed, think enclosure as total social control programme) zone of covert social engineering that is totalitarianism at its elemental purest. I wanted to explore gender conflict within the precise and hidden terrain of the socially engineered man and woman, in itself a composite of pre-imposed cultural propaganda and imprisonment, both mentally and spiritually, as it is presented to us through both education programmes and media control. And therefore I was inevitably led to one place: four genders. But four genders that are not quite human; sex machines, made for human pleasure. Machines with human DNA, machines that have their own ideas, machines that have their own plans and


programme, not quite human, or perhaps methinks ... as Nietzsche wrote and posited, ‘Human, all too human,’ four gender conflict is rich dramatic terrain. FFT: This is a genre bender, for sure. Dystopian, sci-fi and a chill factor that will light up the pleasure centers of classic horror buffs. Did you intend for this story to cross over or appeal to such a massive audience?

| RICHARD GODWIN | I ran for years and gym it five times a week. I lift heavy, weighing in at 72 kg, and I deadlift 140 kg, bench 100 kg. I still row, and I love that feeling of wellbeing that sport and exercise gives. Motto: mens sana in corpore sano. I like to watch tennis and baseball, and plan to keep going for a long time. I also trained here:

I didn’t even think about it. I wrote the story, the story wrote itself. FFT: Share with us a dark emotion you experienced during the writing of Android Love, Human Skin. Share a moment of profound pleasure. The sheer power of androids. The sexual pleasures of androids. FFT: I’ve seen other writers and industry professionals refer to you as the “Dark Godwin”. Is that fitting? I think it was Jason Michel who named me The Dark Lord. Make of it what you will. FFT: Your Facebook page features several photographs of you, all very serious and very fit. Do you exercise? Sport has always been an important part of my life. I went to a school where it was emphasized. I wanted to play football at a young age, by which I mean to the American audience, soccer. But my father sent me to a rugby school. I was fast around the pitch, was a good cricketer also. I ended up on four teams, rowing, freezing conditions, training for competitions on Saturday mornings, no gloves allowed. Pain was a must, blisters popping, hands leaking water, as I penned my extensive homework. Also on the athletics team, I was a fast 200 metre runner. Judo, tennis. At 15 I became heavily into martial arts, got black belts in Karate and Taekwondo, pursued my interests further in Kung Fu and Jeet Kune Do and, now, Krav Maga. As I realise, fully, that any amateur boxer can kick the shit out of a Karate black belt, Krav is the business.

Commando Temple Gym - 2015 The Commando Temple gym is unlike any training space in London. Built on a strong foundation of world class educ... Yes, sport is important. FFT: Imagine a person sitting at home enjoying this interview. What comes to mind? Imagination per se, I am invoking a Revolution. You think I’m kidding?

Enjoy excerpts from Android Love, Human Skin Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | Android Love, Human Skin Richard Godwin SciFi/Dystopian Welcome to the four genders in a future with no planned conflict, a utopia of pleasure engineered by the union. Society has been revolutionised by gender control and the technologization of man and woman. In a future where a biochemical weapon has removed the skins of the population, the rulers hunt for the beautiful ones, those men and women who still have skins. The union is the new government, a faceless body of politicians who were behind the order to use the weapon that backfired on them, leaving them skinless. In the glass citadel, the new utopia, where the only surviving humans with skin are placed, they recreate the world of gender by offering humans four types of robot with which to have relationships. All the humans are placed in relationships with machines, apart from Gerald, who appears to be a spy for the union and is filming the humans, and Elliott, a robot programmer. The union watches it all, political voyeurs in a totalitarian state of enforced sexual ecstasies. Food has been replaced by nutrient skins, and flavours can be chosen. Humanity falls into four categories: Traditional man, who has values that fall within the norms of the old society, heterosexual Traditional woman, the female equivalent, heterosexual Questioning man, who has been programmed to quash his own desires, sexually ambiguous Revolutionary woman, who has broken free of conditioning, lesbian The four machines they are coupled with in a social engineering programme are: Android, male, paired with the Traditional woman Gynoid, female, paired with the Traditional man Androgyne, neuter, bearing both genders, paired with the Revolutionary woman Biodyne, a crossover, alternating between male and female, paired with Questioning man Relations between humans are banned and rela78 | UncagedBooks.com

tions between machines are illegal. The only law is to seek ecstasy. In a world of pleasure what can go wrong? Gender conflicts soon arise among the humans. And the robots appear too interested in their skin. It seems the union is planning to harvest human skin for themselves from human relations with the robots. But things start to go awry and the programme breaks down. The humans become addicted to the robots, and two of the robots, Hank, an android, and Viola, a biodyne, begin a love affair, something never anticipated in a social programme anticipating only sexual pleasure and need. Then the humans start to meet and talk, and have relationships with one another, and the machines start to have sex with one another. When Viola falls pregnant she and Hank escape the citadel and discover the mutants on the outside and the lies of the union. But the union send the hunters after them and the sex police to the humans to ensure compliance. Excerpt 1 PEELED WORLD. Breakdown. All the bodies in piles. A mountain of bones. The roads like bones beneath the wheels of the armoured trucks that fetched them away. The military wore masks. Unsafe air. Collapsed world. Ravaged earth. The weapon was launched during the war, peeling away human skin. Photographers took shots of the red bodies dripping on the tarmac. Took shots of the dehumanisation. Took shots of the soldiers. Took shots of their dead colleagues. The army opened fire, removed press intrusion. A few men and women escaped the annihilation of their skins, were taken to the hospital where they were building the machines, readying them for the future state. They worked on them. They built a world of skin, a beautiful world of beautiful bodies. The old society was decayed. Men and women sexually alienated through the unreal world of virtual lives lost in the engineered fantasy. Sexual pleasure derived from electrical signals. They plugged themselves into the orgasm generator, addicts to the thrill, empty bodies and empty minds, the children of machines. Riding the pleasure wave. Population wipe out in the empty city. Information access denied now. The government was ready. The science was already well advanced. Their victory howled


| RICHARD GODWIN | along the empty streets like a midnight song only vagrants could hear. But there were no vagrants in the place of endings, only the bodies they needed to build their state from the flesh and bones, from the peeled world, where they’d removed the thing they wanted most, that human thing that defined the body of man and woman. This was more than sex. This was more than Eros and his hectic fever, a design on the living by voyeurs. Inside out man and woman, like an inverted glove, bodies like bleeding gums or diseased genitals. Ugly world. They took them away. They built the citadel while the survivors slept in the hospital, while their doctors worked on their bodies and the other bodies they were preparing. The government retreated beneath the screen. Became the watchful observers of human pleasures. A single tree blew in the wind, the last fallout of the weapon, a poisoned air that smelt of charred meat, then it was gone, no leaves or branches, just a stump somewhere in the mind, existing in memory, a place far away from the recreated world ready for the humans with skin. What world without beauty is worth governing?

The body became gold. The body gave pleasure. Economically it ran the state. To please the body and control desire. The undeclared manifesto was structure gender to cancel dissent. But in a world of communication breakdown men and women had to be introduced to one another again. The reduced population needed to be enlarged. The government controlled sex. But no one was breeding any more. Technologised man and woman loved machines. The eternal mismatch had lost its spark. Their bodies no longer interested in the sexual dance. The arguments worn, faded like a once angry bruise. It took more than food to build the citadel and house the population in its sterile enclosure. It took a world of human skin dancing with electric desire.

Excerpt 2 THE RATIONING. Food shortage. It had existed for years. They lied. They did what they do. They dwelt in the poisoned food chain, weakness dominated mankind, bones became brittle, body parts atrophied. It caused the war. They fought for plants that had no future, not after the first chemicals. War and economics worked hard to starve them. And they’d run out of space and time. They were feverish in dishonesty. Insane reasoning. Wasting away. Paper white skins waiting inscription. Humanity written on with the engineer’s needle. Needing food. Nutrient skins. The breakthrough. The government’s way out. They manufactured films with different nutritional properties inside. Men and women sustained by skins. Men and women with bodies. With bodies that had skins. Intact skins. Beautiful world. From epidermis to hypodermis, all the way down to bone and muscle, they were human again. They needed an angle and they got it. Pleasure. In a world of minimal food pleasure was needed. Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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Sweet Southern Book Reviews


Uncaged Reviews Devotion

Kim Loraine Contemporary

Firefighter Donovan Miller finally got everything he wanted when he married Valerie, the love of his life. Now, everything is falling into place and starting the family they’d planned on seems like it’s next on the horizon. But when tragedy strikes and their plans are derailed, Donovan finds out it takes a lot more than love to keep a marriage together. It takes devotion.

Uncaged Review: Devotion - a story about a husband and wife that face a tragedy only to overcome it with love. Adult themes and sexual content. I am not big on love stories but I found the book well written and easy to read. This novella will have you crying and laughing with the characters as they take you on their journey and the hardships that befall them Reviewed by Skye.

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The Substitute Wife CiCi Cordelia Historical Western Releases May 9 - Preorder Available TWO PEOPLE . . . Thrown together in shared sorrow, Harrison and Retta struggle to forge a life in the brand-new state of late-nineteenth-century Colorado. Uncaged Review: A promising beginning to a new series by these talented authors. In the days of silver mining, men work hard to secure their futures and Harrison is waiting for the day that he can bring home his fiancée Jenny. When Harrison arrives at the stagecoach to pick up his love, he doesn’t find Jenny, but her beautiful sister Retta instead, who has been almost ruined by a man who seduced her and left her, with a daughter to raise on her own. When Harrison reads the letter from Jenny, who pleads with him to marry and take care of Retta, Harrison honors his dying fiancée’s wish. Over the course of this story, we see the love story unfold, the patience of Harrison as he gives Retta time to trust, and Retta for her courage of agreeing to marry a man she never met. I felt like I was sitting in a rocking chair in front of a general store, watching it all unfold. Learning that this story was written based off of a true story, makes it that much more special. Historical western lovers will enjoy this one. Reviewed by Cyrene


Song Jesse Teller Dark Fantasy Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him.

Uncaged Review: Rayph Ivoryfist, a powerful 10,000-year-old wizard who is enjoying a muchdeserved vacation from his warden and wizarding duties, is informed that the prison Mending Keep has been attacked; all the prisoners have been freed. When one of the prisoners, Julius Kriss, makes plans to assassinate the king, Rayph gathers a group of “Manhunters” to stop him. This book is written beautifully and is very engaging and enjoyable to read. The editing was great as well. The story is told from the perspective of two people, Rayph the wizard and Konnan the bounty hunter/father. The “slow”/”boring” scenes are minimal, and the creativity of this author really amazed me. The magic in this book seemed very unique, and that’s something that is hard to find in fantasy. For example, Rayph hides things in pocket dimensions, uses fetishes (bat skulls in this case) to communicate, stores spirits in pottery while projecting elsewhere, and so much more. There were unique kinds of races and multiple kinds of magic used in the book, and the lines between friend and foe were blurry at times (that always makes for a good story.) Some of the scenes just made my jaw drop with how beautiful and/or powerful they were. The imagery in this book is very effective. The storyline was definitely not cookie-cutter, and there were plenty of twists and turns and surprises that I enjoyed. The characters had a lot of depth, and the messages of justice were consistent. Rayph is a very interesting character. I was definitely not solid on his background or the extent of

his power in the beginning (although it became a little clearer as the book progressed). He apparently is very old and powerful, and he has (had?) a wife that we don’t get to hear much about. His motivations are not clear, but what is clear is that he cares about his country. I would really love to hear more of his story in future books. The thing I like most about Rayph is that he has a good sense of justice. Although he is very powerful, he avoids killing innocent people. He continues to protect the king, for the good of the country, despite the fact that the king is literally trying to kill him. I did think Konnan was easier to relate to as a parent. His motivation made sense, and like Rayph, his ethics/morals also seemed just. The supporting characters were written well and made the story interesting and fun. Smear was such a pleasant character, and I was happy with what happened with him in the end :). My only “issue” with this book is that things are not very well defined. The book has a tremendous amount of richness to it, but readers are essentially “thrown into the thick of things.” It ends up working out okay, and I can understand why an author wouldn’t want to artificially introduce a lot of dry background information. I have seen that done in fantasy too often (an author will spend pages and pages, if not chapters, on the history of the realm and the main characters and the types of magic they wield.) This book did not waste any time with that, which was actually a good choice overall, but it was a little hard to get into the rhythm of the book as a result. Finding a balance with this issue is difficult. Warnings: There is a bit of violence in this book. It’s a part of the storyline though and not used often for shock value in my opinion. The disturbing and needless cruelty is recognized as evil. The killing that happens by the hand of the main characters is almost, if not always, in the name of “justice” (killing bandits and assassins). There is one sex scene in the book, but it is treated as “background noise” in a way. There is nothing explicit about it. After reading this book, I went to Amazon to preorder the second installment. I think this is one of those book series that will just get better with multiple readings, and I may in fact be ordering physical copies! Very nicely done, Mr. Teller! Reviewed by Emily

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Uncaged Reviews An Initial Countdown Kevin E. Hatt Crime Fiction After witnessing what transpired to be the murder of a seemingly innocent man, Haszard be-comes yet more intrigued when he hears of a vicar spontaneously combusting in his own church, locked from within. To add fuel to his intrigue, both men were from the same remote country village.

Uncaged Review: The author describes this book as a stand-alone novel, although it is part of a series. This in mind, near the end of the story I was expecting something to rationalize why the principal character involved himself in activities that were inconsistent with his profession. But the entire novel has him playing a role that the reader cannot reconcile, because the author has not revealed who this character really is. Secondary storylines are well woven into the novel, and character development is acceptable, although supporting characters could have been used to better advantage in defining the main character. The overall storyline is entertaining, as it relies mainly on the somewhat comedic sleuthing of the principal and supporting characters. However, there are parts where I questioned the credibility of the process, the characters relying more on good fortune than good planning. Reviewed by Doug

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The Golden Rose of Scotland Marissa Dillon Historical Medieval When poisonings are an everyday occurrence, healer Rosalyn Macpherson must be ready with an antidote. Unless it’s for the English Lord who means to claim her clan’s Highland castle. Uncaged Review: I absolutely loved this book and if you love a historical Scottish romance with a twist of suspense then this book is for you as well. All Rosalyn wants is to get back Fyvie, her families homeplace. But a few things stand in her way, like the fact she’s a woman and to her horror an Englishman named Lachlan. Lachlan as well cannot believe that a woman stands in his way of claiming Fyvie as well and together they start a journey that could lead only who knows where. Their one common ground is The Golden Rose of Scotland which Rosalyn becomes the chosen one or the one to see that it’s delivered safely to the King of Scots. Lachlan needing the Fyvie matter settled and the King being the only one whom can settle the matter goes along as a guard of the Chosen One and The Golden Rose. Little do either know, this journey and the adventure that ensues will change both of their lives but will it be for the better? You go back and forth both loving and hating a few of the characters in this book and that just made reading their story all the more interesting. It kept me riveted and wanting more! Reviewed by Danielle


Elephant Dreams

Martha Deeringer Historical/19th Century Desperate to escape her squalid life on the streets of New York City, sixteen year-old Fiona Finn seeks help at the magnificent Church of the Ascension where Charles Loring Brace, a social reformer horrified by the plight of New York City’s street children, arranges for her to go west aboard an Orphan Train.

Uncaged Review: A young adult book which I thought was just a heartfelt story. I really enjoyed this book and think others will too. Fiona Finn lives on the streets in New York where she is constantly hiding from her dad who wants her to sleep with men for money to fuel his alcohol addiction. Luckily for Fiona there may be someone out there willing to help. I highly recommend this book to others and would read other books by this author too. Reviewed by Jennifer

Z-Bot

S.C. Mitchell SciFi Chris Johnson never really started living until he died. Orphaned, fostered, and drifting through life, the twenty-seven-year-old programmer had no family, little money, and few friends. But he also had no enemies. So, who the hell killed him? After an experimental process brings him back from the dead as a zombiebot, he gets the chance to find out.

Uncaged Review: A fast action packed story with a lot of hot romance. Chris is a newly turned robot with a lot of new information to take in. I did enjoy this book I would like to read more in this series. If there is more I would like to know how Chris is getting on being a robot and what becomes of him and company. Reviewed by Jennifer

Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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Uncaged Reviews Loving a Hero

Cheryl Yeko Romantic Suspense

TRUST: Can two people overcome their tragic pasts and find a future together? Uncaged Review: A talent of this author, is to drag you into a story in the first few pages, and in Loving a Hero, you are tossed into the action in the first pages, and it hangs on until you hit the end. Ms. Yeko does not pansy foot around with a lot of descriptive paragraphs that slow the book down, instead she injects the information you need within the story as it all unfolds. I’ve read others that have a similar idea, but they don’t always pull it off like this author. This is a shorter story, more than a novella, but easy to read in one sitting. And I didn’t want to put this one down once I started, so I made sure I had a couple free hours without disruption. The love story within this suspense is a heartwarming tale of second chances, even from two people with past mistakes – and it just makes them human, believable and likeable. Great story. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Silas Morlock

Mark Cantrell Horror/Dystopian “Humanity built its monolithic spires of hopes and dreams and tried to believe that the whole sordid mess actually meant something.” Terapolis is an urban sprawl of global proportions. The vast city state has smothered whole nations, liberated humanity from the tides of history; the place is ripe with secrets... Uncaged Review: In Terapolis, books are banned because they caused a plague long ago, and the Gestalt (an advanced form of virtual reality) is what society craves. They work for all their lives to get money to go into the nearest access point for the Gestalt. It is what they think about and live for. Reality and memories get blurred. Terapolis, a semi-organic and living city, has consumed a good portion of the globe already. At MorTek, they are working on new Gestalt technology that will bring them closer to “Completion,” but the bibliophiles of the Incunabula are working to preserve all the literature they can in the hopes of outlasting and ultimately defeating Silas Morlock. Caxton, an author in the Incunabula, is finishing a very important manuscript and has become very concerned with (much to the chagrin of his fellow Incunabulites) a young man named Adam. Caxton and Adam are being followed by hired hands Marla and Otto. The libraries are always in danger of being burned if discovered. Can the bibliophiles hold out against Morlock and help society escape the darkness? As a bibliophile, I really enjoyed this book and the underlying messages that it presents. Books do have a drug-like quality to them, and they are dangerous to those who crave power over the masses. If you can get rid of free thinkers and stop the spread of ideas, you can control the population. I loved the character development in this book, especially Adam’s. He struggles with being addicted to the Gestalt like everyone else, but he has also been exposed to books. He keeps getting told that books and the Gestalt do not mix, and he is attempting to break free from the Gestalt, but the Incunabulites do not fully trust him, having turned down much better candidates for their ranks. Caxton, who appears to be going mad throughout the book, is insistent though, and much is revealed about how the characters connect. Laura, a courier for the Incunabula and a former girlfriend of Adam, is a great character also. I liked her more and more as the book came to its conclusion.


The author included some really fun nods to other books, TV shows, and movies (I particularly enjoyed references to Fahrenheit 451 and the one quip about Star Trek “red shirts.” Parts of Caxton’s manuscript are woven into the novel in such a way that the backstory and the ultimate plot of the story is revealed in a very natural way. My main complaint with this book is that there were many sections and aspects that I was not clear about. This book is both very dark and very metaphysical/spiritual. There were a lot of concepts that I didn’t understand fully. The Gestalt really isn’t artificial or virtual reality--it is some sort of spiritual or energy thing. People often are transported to other places or realms outside the Gestalt as well, but these episodes are neither dreams nor visions. Many people hear voices. The people who have just come out of a Gestalt access point (G-spot) walk around glassy-eyed and in a daze. Some sections of the narration were very smooth and easy to understand, and I felt like I finally had a grasp on things. Then there would come a section that was very confusing, with lots of terms I didn’t understand. I trudged through it though, and I am glad I did. In general, everything is just very vague and blurry – part of that I am sure is intentional (the citizens of Terapolis come across as confused themselves) but part of it is that I had a really hard time visualizing the city itself. It is some sort of chitinous organic material, but I wasn’t clear on exactly what that meant. Terapolis has multiple layers and levels, tunnels and sections. It gives the impression that the city is one big organism that is, in fact, feeding off the people. It’s like a nightmare that the people are stuck in. I also do wonder how books could ever be truly banned. I can understand that people might slowly lose the ability or the desire to read, but as it was stated in the book at least once, you have to have writing on signs and manuals. It really does seem necessary that some sort of written communication exists. I was not clear on whether or not there actually was a plague that was spread by the books. It seems that this was just a convenient lie to get rid of them, but no one ever says that explicitly, so I am not sure.

Halloween Nightmare Marin & McKinzie Dark Fantasy

Welcome to Dead Oaks. The New Home of Fear! Something strange is happening in the sleepy, little, town of Dead Oaks, N.C. Tales of disappearances, strange deaths, murder, and mayhem have been passed down through the town’s history and are now used as scary tales to keep local children behind locked doors at night. Still, it all continues. Whatever sinister force that has its claws into Dead Oaks is still there, and it wants nothing more than to claim the town as its own.

Uncaged Review: Mia and her sister Tia go back to their family’s cabin in Dead Oaks to host a scary Halloween party for their friends. Things don’t go to plan as they hoped. A short horror twisted book which I really enjoyed with enough terror to make a good film if given the chance. I think people of the ages 13 and upwards will enjoy reading this as much as I did. Reviewed by Jennifer

Overall, reading this book was a very pleasant experience. The editing was good, and it kept my interest throughout. The characters were believable, and the content is very imaginative. Although I wish some of the concepts were a little clearer, I can appreciate the book for what it is. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves books and believes in the power they hold to keep society FREE. Reviewed by Emily

Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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Uncaged Reviews To Discover a Divine Tessa McFionn SciFi Romance

When Kahlym cal Jhuen, freedom-fighting leader of the Chandar Stria, breaks into a prison ship controlled by the Rimmarian Thrall, he only expected to rescue two of his crew. But when he discovers a terrified female during his escape, he is immediately captivated by her unique beauty and makes a snap decision to take her with him. However, his good deed backfires when he learns he has stolen the Thrall Emperor’s prize.

Uncaged Review: I used to be a SciFi reading nerd, and the majority of the books I read were in that genre. I strayed away quite a bit in the last few years, but Tessa McFionn grabs hold of me and tosses me back into the fray, and you won’t get a complaint from me. A very original story, with characters that are well thought out, and a world that I can’t wait to read more about. Evainne, our main character, is a human who finds herself suddenly in an alien world, believing that she’s in a dream, what else could it be? When raiding a ship to rescue crew members, Kahlym discovers a female, unlike any that he’s ever encountered. Protective instincts kick in and he decides to take her with him, specially after she saves his life on the ship. The characters are well thought out, Evainne is smart, brave, witty and strong – and Kahlym is not only a feast for the eyes, but a warrior prince. The romance is swoon worthy – and the action sequences tense and fantastic at the same time. The world building that Ms. McFionn is so good at is ever present, and I can’t wait for more installments. I keep opening my door hoping I’ll get zapped into a new world. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Don’t You Know Who I Am? Marie Easton YA/Contemporary

Kayla Johnson has no idea what is in store for her senior year in Nogales, Arizona. Tired of moving from place to place for her father’s job, she just wants to get out and start her own life. That is, until she meets Javier Fuentes. Uncaged Review: This story reeled me in from the beginning. After struggling through the tragedy of losing Javier, the one guy she couldn’t get enough of, in a tragic car accident, Kayla Johnson finds herself struggling to go on with life after the loss. Dealing with pain and guilt, she finds herself going to college where she continues to adjust to her new life without Javier. Meeting Steven Holt may be exactly what she needs. Now she is faced with letting go of her emotions over the loss of Javier and deciding whether its finally time to open her heart to love again. This story is very touching love story that leaves you hoping for the best for the characters and is quite a touching read. Reviewed by Rena


Health Nut Cafe

Off Course

Imagine recognizing someone you’ve never seen before…

What happens when a tangsmelling, foul-talking earthling duo sets out for cheap dates in outer space?

Rhonda Frankhouser Paranormal

Becka Clemmons’ one true passion is running the Health Nut Café. Awakened every morning by the same nightmare, Becka sees the world through tainted eyes. She’s never believed in fairytale romances until Jonathan Parker walks through the café door one cool, foggy morning. She struggles to understand why this familiar stranger makes her crave things she’s never craved. Solving the mystery of Jonathan is the first thing that has ever taken her focus away from her café. Uncaged Review: Imagine missing someone you don’t know or recognizing someone you’ve never met. This story was quite entertaining! Becka Clemmons main focus in life is The Health Nut Cafe. Suffering from nightmares, she doesn’t view the world like others do but when she meets Jonathan Parker things in her life begin to change dramatically. Jonathan himself, feels a pull to Becka that he cannot explain. As the two of them struggle to deal with their attraction to one another they must also overcome Jonathan’s family and Becka’s refusal to believe in something she doesn’t understand. This story offers a bit of everything as you find yourself rooting for Becka and Jonathan and their love. Reviewed by Rena

Various - Anthology SciFi/Humor

Casius and Remus are the most pathetic excuses for humans in the universe, but everyone deserves love right? The hopeless pair go out on the pull after finding dates on the infamous “SpaceConnections” website but get lost in space. On their journey to the illusive sector 315a to meet their dates they get lost after taking several wrong turns. Uncaged Review: A collection of various science fiction stories all with their own twist featuring a duo called Casius and Remus. I laughed at them, felt sorry for them and even hated them thoughout this book. If these two in real life were ever sent to other planets on space to represent humans, I would feel sorry for the aliens. I don’t read much science fiction, but this one seemed to stand out to me. It’s very funny and is worth a read. Reviewed by Jennifer

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Uncaged Reviews Sara’s Last Resort

Kendra Vasquez Contemporary Western Educated automotive technician Sara McDaniels drives her truck off the road in a small, Rocky Mountain town. She never intended needing another mechanic in her life, but Jason Cole, Sauk City’s only grease monkey, has the resources she needs. After abandoning Denver, Colorado, with its cheats and liars in the auto repair business, she has no reason to trust Jason, but, after she meets his intense gray gaze, her defenses weaken. Her fierce will builds up walls, ever wary, for how can she learn the truth about him without revealing her hopes and heart in the process?

Uncaged Review: Now this was a totally unexpected fun book. Sara is an auto technician. She has one semester to complete of school before she is certified. What she discovered was how the biggest share of mechanics are frauds. They will take the customer for what they can get without realizing they are losing the repeat service. She is looking for one “car shop with an honest reputation which would offer real employment.” Sara is staying with her best friend Lauryl and working as a vet assistant and at the opening she is on her way to work when her truck breaks down. She discovers it will need a new pivot arm or a tow. Enter Jason, the local mechanic. She denies having car trouble when she realizes who he is. She thinks of him as ‘the mechanic’ who would take her for an arm and a leg to repair her truck and negating her attraction to the big man with the nice voice. During the story, Sara goes back and forth with whether she can trust him or not. Jason meanwhile does what he can to find out why she isn’t working as a technician/mechanic thinking she may be a fraud. He is worried about her finding out how he had hired a mechanic who committed fraud while working for him. Jason tries to get past her defenses by talking and 90 | UncagedBooks.com

Rdoing things which aren’t related to car repair. He is attracted to her and wants her to stay, but he also needs her help. He decides to do a deal. He will show her the area for the weekend and she will help him with a car where he can’t find the problem. Enter Cameron, who tries to get a date with Sara then to guess Sara’s real name when she says it is related to an alcoholic beverage. (Syrah) He makes a play for her, but it doesn’t work. Throughout the book, there is a back and forth between Jason and Sara. Cameron keeps trying, but Sara lets him know she isn’t interested. She and Jason share who they began in automotive repair. It brings them closer together. As she begins to trust Jason, her world comes crashing down when she finds a box of receipts when she helps a lady who told her where the receipts showing fraud were kept. She repairs the woman’s car, but decides it’s time to lock up her heart and say goodbye to him. Jason discovers she had found the box of receipts he kept, attempting to make thing right with those who were scammed. He goes after her and tells her the truth about the guy he had hired who was a fraud and how he was still picking up the pieces from what the man had done. He leaves, letting her decide if she wants him or now. She ends up going to him only to discover, he had solved the riddle of her name and her. You could feel Sara’s mistrust of Jason and all mechanics while she is attracted to him as a person. Jason’s worry that she is like the man he had hired keeps him from fully trusting her. It’s easy to see in the way he keeps backing off from having her help him. Of course, I’m a sucker for the happy endings. I loved the originality of the characters and the automotive theme. It’s one which I haven’t seen before in the quick read romances. I’ll give it 5 stars for originality and being well written. Reviewed by Barbara


Can’t Stop the Music

C.D. Hersh Contemporary Romance

For college senior and hippie wannabe Rosemary—Rose for short—a teaching job is within her grasp, but she wants more. She wants love, the kind of love that has bound her parents for so many years. When she’s dumped by her current boyfriend because her morals can’t bring her to give in to free love, she finds herself at Woodstock in the middle of the biggest free-love music festival of the Sixties. Alone, again. Until a magical tree grants her wish and she finds the man of her dreams—and loses him before she really knows who he is. Uncaged Review: This book resonated with me as I was a teenager at the time of Woodstock. Rosemary, the main character, loves music. She goes with her friends to hear the different bands play. Even though she dresses the part, she really isn’t part of the hippie culture. The poem from the Soul Mate tree as beautifully done and is part of the story. First of all, she doesn’t do drugs of any type, preferring to be high on life. She also sees how the free love isn’t free when a person cares and is hurt when their partner ends up in the arms of another person. She sees this when her friend Willow is hurt when her guy Bodie returns after going for food with a girl on his arm and marijuana instead of food. Rosemary, who goes by Rose at Woodstock, meets the two guys who called out to her from a bridge as she and her friends were making their way on foot to the concert site. She runs into them later on a ridge where she went to get out of the press of the crowds near the stage. She is claustrophobic and couldn’t stay there. River and Dakota as the two call themselves let her know they are interested in her. She is drawn to Dakota, who is the tall dark and handsome while River is blond and a playboy. When she discovers, Dakota has a girl, she goes off with River. He tries to rape her but is saved by Dakota and his girlfriend Melody.

What Rose doesn’t know is how Dakota has been wanting to dump Melody before the concert. He ends up doing so, but now can’t find Rose anywhere. During her time there, she finds the South Mate Tree which seemed to talk to her. She keeps the two leaves which fell from it, saying she believed she would find her heart’s desire. Shoot ahead ten years. Rose is now a music teacher who is dating the principal. She comes to the conclusion that after two years of dating him, she’s over him. Over the summer, he barely went out with her and she has decided he was only using her to get information on what the teachers were thinking and doing. She has the tickets from Woodstock and the two leaves she kept in a frame on her wall. She still believes she’ll find her heart’s desire. Enter a new band teacher who is tall dark and handsome. Yep, Dakota, only his real name is Anthony. They go through various problems from her attempting to brake up with Patrick, the principal to Anthony’s ex-wife showing up out of nowhere and demanding he pretend they are still married for the sake of their daughter who just had her appendix out. Yes, it does have the HEA ending you want them to have. I loved this book. It was a quick read, kept me interested and wondering what else could go wrong as Rosemary and Anthony try to get together. You see her waffling in her belief he is her soul mate as things don’t go as planned. If you want a book who has great main characters, keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen next with a happy ending, this is it. My only complaint was I felt Patrick wasn’t as well developed as he could have been. Also, you get an decent idea of how she feels about him, but that aspect could use more depth and their confrontation was over way too quickly. With the type of man Patrick is, he gave in way to easily without any threats or accusations, which most narcissistic, self-righteous men will do to maintain their belief of always being right and the other person wrong and out to get them. I give the book 4.5 stars.

Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Where the Dead Go To Die Dries & Gunnells Horror

possible.

There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us. Now it’s time to euthanize to survive in a hospice where Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Where the Dead go to Die is a very unique and heartbreaking zombie story. I’ve never read a zombie story anything like this one and as truly heartbreaking as it was, I loved every minute. Lately I’ve felt somewhat bored with the zombie genre, but this was such a different take on it that I was pulled out of my zombie funk. Zombies are now put into a Hospice program to be “taken care of” when the time comes. I can only imagine the emotional toll this would take on the nurses and anyone who experiences this world. I almost think this would be worse than just killing them and getting it over with in the beginning. They are referred to as “guests” instead of “patients” which I think is kind of condescending considering usually when you are a guest somewhere it’s because you want to be there. Kind of like referring to prisoners as guests. The characters of Emily and her daughter could be anyone really. They are easy to relate to and believable in their simplicity. I want to hug them. This is an extraordinarily unprecedented story that will grip you by the heart strings and pull until you are almost as broken as the characters within. I recommend Where the Dead go to Die to anyone

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who may be a little tired of your average zombie story but is willing to try something different. I plan to look into these authors further and read more of their work.


Beautiful Victim Claire C. Riley Romantic Suspense The perfect villain… or the perfect victim? Growing up, Carrie was Ethan’s one true love, his fixation and his constant obsession. Friends to the bloody end, they were each other’s rocks whilst navigating through their dark and monstrous childhoods together. But then Carrie died and Ethan was almost destroyed by the secrets that were revealed in her wake.

She caused things to be a self-fulling prophecy of sorts. In many ways, she’s a product of her upbringing, but that still is no excuse for her behavior. Overall this was an amazing read. Thrilling and surprising throughout, and while I didn’t feel like I knew what was going on until the very end, it wasn’t in a confusing way; It was more of a “I know all the answers will appear in time” sort of thing. I recommend it to anyone looking for a great psychological thriller.

It’s now fifteen years later and Carrie is back from the dead… and Ethan is forced to confront a truth he’s tried to deny himself for all these years.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: All I can say is wow. This isn’t the kind of book I’m used to from Claire C. Riley, but I’m blown away. Beautiful Victim is both disturbing and exciting at the same time. The writing itself flows with the grace of a shark through water, seeking the seal it’s about to devour for breakfast. Ethan is one of those characters who you aren’t quite sure if you should pity or fear. At times, his character reminded me of the “The Narrator” character from Chuck Palahniuk’s book Fight Club that was played by Edward Norton in the movie. Essentially, some of his thought and speaking patterns were similar in some ways, which could give insight as to his mental state. He felt to me like a quite unreliable narrator, though I do understand do a degree why he was the way he was and it makes sense for him to be that way. I’m still not sure what I think of Carrie. I feel bad for her in some ways, but in other ways, I’d really like to stab her. I feel like a lot of what was going on was her fault but didn’t necessarily start out that way.

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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews The Ghost Within Elle Klass Horror/Occult Price will change the day of release! The day Opal observes her boyfriend locking lips with a gorgeous blonde is the day her life goes to pot. People turn to ash before her eyes, then her parents move the family into a creepy house left to them in a will by her great uncle. In the house, objects start disappearing and a a sleek black creature saves her from a bolt of lightning meant to kill her. She feels her mind is sinking into insanity, except everything seems so real and more absurd than the vampire shows she watches. She surmises her imagination must be defective. Meanwhile Nova -- the sorceress -- keeper of night magic and the mother of Bloodseekers, is sinking Earth into a thick cloud-covered darkness, each day colder than the next, and the Slayers still haven’t found Agate the empath. Without her they can’t destroy every Bloodseeker on Earth or stop the inky blackness from taking over and feeding Nova’s night magic until the light is gone forever. Even the unique witches they have ties with can’t stop her without the seventh Slayer. Can the Slayers reunite all supernaturals and find Agate to defeat the dark forces and save humanity?

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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Ghost Within is a great continuation of The Bloodseekers series. I love the variety of paranormal entities. This isn’t just a “vampire” or “witch” book; it’s filled with the full spectrum of creatures, each with their own unique qualities that gives them something different than the traditional aspects of their lore. I love this series Klass has been building and I think it’s great for both readers of Young Adult paranormal as well as others. It isn’t filled with sex, which I like lol. It is both exciting and intriguing. The Ghost Within was able to keep my attention throughout and once it got going, it seemed to fly by. I definitely recommend this book and the whole series to anyone looking for something that isn’t run of the mill paranormal.


Demonic Wildlife Various Fantasy Anthology READERS BEWARE You are about to set foot on a bizarre adventure, a funny fantastical one filled with demonic animals. The first few stories are light, more about the giggles, but be warned. As you read further, the dark creepy side will sneak up on you. Within this entertaining tome you will find spiders, snakes, sheep, wolves, manatees, hummingbirds, squirrels, and many more!

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I was extremely excited to read Demonic Wildlife. I first saw it at Indie Bookfest in Orlando, FL this past October. I loved the idea behind it, I knew several of the contributing authors and had good experiences with their work in the past, and the money raised from the sale of it was going to a good cause. Some of the stories are better than others, but that is to be expected with books containing a variety of stories. A few of the stories just weren’t for me. I particularly enjoyed the contribution by L.E. Perez about a squirrel with human characteristics. Overall this was a cute read and I recommend it to anyone looking for a variety of animal stories that all contain some weird little quirk that will make you laugh out loud or at least scratch your head in wonder.

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Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews

Omega Days John L. Campbell Horror/Occult San Francisco, California. Father Xavier Church has spent his life ministering to unfortunate souls, but he has never witnessed horror like this. After he forsakes his vows in the most heartrending of ways, he watches helplessly as a zombie nun takes a bite out of a fellow priest’s face… University of California, Berkeley. Skye Dennison is moving into her college dorm for the first time, simultaneously excited to be leaving the nest and terrified to be on her own. When her mother and father are eaten alive in front of her, she realizes the terror has just begun… Alameda, California. Angie West made millions off her family’s reality gun show on the History Channel. But after she is cornered by the swarming undead, her knowledge of heavy artillery is called into play like never before… Within weeks, the world is overrun by the walking dead. Only the quick and the smart, the strong and the determined, will survive—for now.

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Myra’s Review: We follow a multitude of characters, from how they were affected when the outbreak started, to how each individual survived. These are two of my favorite parts of a zombie story and I wasn’t disappointed. Xavier is a priest who questions his faith. I liked his character and felt he was too hard on himself. Skye is a college student who sees her parents and younger sister attacked by zombies as they were helping her move into her dorm. It was the start of a new life for her, but not in the way she expected. Skye was my favorite character. Her development throughout the story was admirable as she not only learns to survive, but becomes a kick-ass female heroine. Carney and T.C. are escaped convicts. Carney’s actions toward some other cons in the beginning had me wondering if he was totally unredeemable. But a nobler side emerged when he rescued Skye after she was almost overwhelmed by zombies. T.C. showed his true colors early on; a disgusting human being with a rapist mentality. Angie and her companions were an interesting group. Due to her reality TV show about fire arms, her van was filled with guns. Angie and her team start gathering survivors, using their abilities. There were other intriguing characters; a motorcycle riding travel writer, a family of hippies living off the grid, a Russian pilot, and a con man evangelist who is evil to the core. Each character’s ultimate goal was to reach a large ship on the coast, rumored to offer shelter and refuge. Fate brought them together for this endeavor.


An enjoyable read. Recommended for zombie and horror fans.

Tarot of Hate Antonio Simon, Jr. Horror Death and vengeance are in the cards in this macabre collection of horror. Each story is accompanied by an illustration from the classic Rider-Waite tarot, first issued in 1910. So cut the deck and deal, if you dare, for no matter which cards you draw, you can be assured there will be blood. Dogfaced Eve —A man fights to survive on an island inhabited by a monstrous female with an insatiable appetite for lust. Toll Road —A professional kidnapper gets more than he bargained for when his latest abduction leads to terrifying supernatural encounters on the Florida Turnpike. Fifteen Dollars’ Guilt —After a close brush with death in a steamship disaster, two strangers discuss the meaning of their lives, inadvertently setting in motion the assassination of President Garfield. No Thanks —A meek employee perpetrates a workplace massacre, knowing he can dispel away the consequences with the two most powerful words in the universe. Red Airwaves —At the height of the cold war, one man decodes clandestine signals broadcast over a shortwave radio station. His discovery pushes the world to the brink of global nuclear disaster. Hunter, Hunted —A reality TV production crew gets the scare of their lives when their latest subject comes on looking for revenge. Lilith —A hermit’s life is turned upside-down by the arrival of a mysterious woman in his camp. Only time will tell if Lilith is a heroine, a victim, or a monster. Water, Ice, And Vice —Jeremy’s new apartment harbors a demonic wish-granting fridge, which he uses to exact bloody vengeance on his obnoxious roommate.

Myra’s Review: In Dogfaced Eve, a man is castaway on an island with a beastly creature; part human but mostly hyena. He is ravished every day by the monster, and no part of it is pleasant for him. When he attempts to kill her, his fate is much more nightmarish than his existence had been so far. Toll Road follows Merritt, a professional kidnapper for hire. After he captures a young boy, he suffers from a horrendous day dream. He is attacked by a creature which reminds me of the New Jersey Devil. After his dream, will Merritt change his course in life? In Fifteen Dollars’ Guilt, when a friend borrows $15, Maynard is horrified after he discovers the purpose; to purchase a gun (it’s 1880) to murder someone. No Thanks will make you wonder about your co-workers…is there madness lurking behind their eyes as in the main character in this story? Lilith is the author’s perspective on the story of Adam, Eve and Lilith. In Red Airwaves, a man in 1962 listens to the ham radio daily, on the lookout for deadly messages from Russia. Intercepting mathematical readings from a young boy, he is convinced the family are Russian spies. Just how far will a man’s paranoia carry him? Hunter Hunted follows a popular reality TV host and her crew as they entice and entrap predators who victimize children. But are they always honest and real? The sister of one of the previous targets goes after them in a savage attack. In Water, Ice and Vice, a young man rents a great house, impressed with all the furnishings, including a nice, large refrigerator. He is stumped by the words Vice on the frig. When he accidentally stumbles on the secret, the appliance starts providing what he asks for. Clearly it is a magic refrigerator. The story is reminiscent of The Monkey’s Paw - be careful what you wish for. My favorite story in the book. A collection of stories; some filled with brutality and horrifying imagery..

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Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews Zombie Fallout 3 Mark Tufo Horror Zombie Fallout 3: The End... Continues Michael Talbot’s quest to be rid of the evil named Eliza that hunts him and his family across the country. As the world spirals even further down into the abyss of apocalypse one man struggles to keep those around him safe. Side by side Michael stands with his wife, their children, his friends and the wonder Bulldog along with the Wal-Mart greeter Tommy who is infinitely more than he appears and whether he is leading them to salvation or death is only a measure of degrees. Myra’s Review: In this book in the series, we discover who Tommy is and how he got to be that way, which is interesting to say the least. After the group is rescued by the military, they are taken to Camp Custer. Mike is severely wounded in the shoulder and BT has a broken leg. Both will need weeks of recovery time, but will they have it with Eliza hot on their trail? Doctor Baker at the camp tries an experiment on Justin; a shot of the virus vaccine. Perhaps it can push Eliza out of the boy’s system. It does work, clearing him from Eliza’s influence, but he must receive a shot every day in order to maintain his humanity. Way too soon, Eliza, hordes of zombies and human traitors attack the camp. Although the military puts up a valiant fight, Mike knows it is a losing battle. Talbot discovers a zombie repellant on one of the attackers and goes after more humans working for Eliza, so his family can stay safe while escaping. The family does manage to flee and head for 98 | UncagedBooks.com

Maine where most of Mike’s relatives live. It’s a racquous scene when everyone is reunited and Talbot’s family are as unique as he is. As BT claims, they are all nuts. Tommy slips away to find Eliza, because she won’t leave the family alone unless he goes to her, or so he thinks. Mike loves his adopted son Tommy and once he finds him gone, is determined to go after him. Some of the group will stay with Mike’s family, others will go with him. I can’t wait to see how Talbot rescues Tommy, for I’m sure he will. Note: Up to this point in the series, I honestly didn’t see the value of Henry the dog. I know Talbot loves him, but he doesn’t contribute to the group other than stinking their space up. And yes, I know he’s there for comedic value. BUT, when Henry kills a redneck who is about to slaughter his master, he is redeemed in my eyes. It was an amazing attack and I cheered him on. Now when he stinks up a scene, as described so eloquently by the author, I’ll just roll my eyes as I’m sure Talbot does. PS: I am a dog lover; our mini schnauzer is like our child. Each novel has fully developed characters, great storylines, lots of action and humor out the ying-yang. A rollicking series, highly recommended for horror, zombie, and Mark Tufo fans.


Slow Burn 2 Bobby Adair Horror Slow Burn: Infected picks up the story of Zed, Murphy, and Jerome where Slow Burn: Zero Day ended. All three have all been infected but have not succumbed to the most pernicious symptoms of the virus. They’re not the mindless cannibals that most infected are. Nevertheless, their band of survivors, fearful about the trio’s infections, have ostracized them. Now, back on the street, with weapons to defend themselves but little food in their packs, they embark on a search for Murphy’s family while following the rumor of a safe haven in the form of a doomsday bunker under a house in east Austin. But the world is more hazardous than they could have guessed. They expect violence from the voracious infected but they have harsh lessons to learn about the lethality of the uninfected. And without people to support the infrastructure of modern civilization, they find that danger comes in many forms.

ever is inside. The lone survivor of the hell-hole bunker is Mandi, a petite young woman. She of course is grateful, and it appears loyal to Zed and Murphy, something the others they rescued did not maintain. The three also run across another slow burner, Russell, who is very child-like It was fascinating when Murphy and Zed shared their philosophies on life. Murphy shares his idea of not only how they can survive as the feared and hated slow burners, but actually thrive. It will be interesting to see if they go through with Murphy’s plans. Highly recommended for horror and zombie fans. Pick up book one and have a blast with this series.

Myra’s Review: We pick up with Zed and his friend Murphy. After being expelled from the ROTC group, Murphy’s on a quest to find his mom and sister – alive or dead. Unfortunately, the news is not good for his mom and his sister is nowhere to be found. Next the friends decide to check out a bunker Murphy knows about. The man who built it died years ago, but Murphy thinks due to its hidden location, it may still be intact. They do find the bunker, but it’s a mess, because many other survivors found it first. At the end of the large, 3 part shelter, there is a metal door and moans from the undead clearly filter from behind the door. Resting for the night before moving on, Zed is shocked when he hears a metallic tapping sound. The two friends go through a nasty battle to rescue whoIssue 21 | April 2018 |

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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Punk Love Foucault Gabe Riggs Memoir Punk Love Foucault gives voice to the borderland existence that is transgender life in a society driven by sex and self-doubt, no matter who you are. It is a coming-of-age story of a transgender youth who rebels against even the meaning of transgender. Within this atypical circumstance, it critically engages in the existential underpinnings that propel all of our relationships, from the familial to the strange. Instead of just confessing how hard it is to be “abnormal,” this memoir is about how hard it is, period, to be alive in a world that isn’t ready to accept anyone. Amy’s Review: Intense and invigorating Riggs demonstrates his great writing skills as he shares the story of this heartfelt, heart-heavy story of a rebellious transgender youth. The story is more than a story, but derived from experiences, and a sense of self-discovery and self-truths. It was not an easy read, more emotional and some parts were disturbing, but it’s worth every word written. It’s full of raw emotions, and thoughts that seem like they always kept to themselves.

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Between the Waves William N. Lindemann Mystery/Suspense Metropolitan museum curator and artist Clay Larkin leaves his contemporary urban life for a second chance in a remote historical park district. Seduced by the woodsy charm of reluctant co-worker Sandy Jorgensen, the two set out on a rocky path. Clay incorporates a found object into a sculpture and unleashes a string of circumstances that force Sandy to reconcile a dark family secret. Amy’s Review: A magnificent storyteller I view myself as a storyteller, rather than author, so when I read another self-proclaimed storyteller’s work, I have high expectations. This book has exceeded my expectations. It’s more than just a book, it’s a story, and grand tale that Lindemann tells the reader. Filled with riveting characters that have depth and grandeur to them, it’s one of those books you don’t want to put down. I look forward to reading more work from Lindemann. He has an interesting mind, and readers are fortunate to be able to follow along on the journey.


Feast of Reverence Katherine M. Hearst Paranormal For centuries, Serena served as an assassin for one of the most influential forces throughout history—the Catholic Church. Lately, the only assassinations she has in mind are her relationship with Nicholai, and his propensity to lose their mortgage money at the poker table. That is until Nicholai’s human descendant is murdered, and he’s the prime suspect. Amy’s Review: Absolutely Magnificent I always enjoy any work for Hearst, and have yet to be disappointed. Her writing is wonderful and compelling. This story, as she revamps her series, is absolutely thrilling and action-packed. It’s one of those page turners, you read that makes you read the pages over and over just to make sure you didn’t miss something. Serena is one of those unforgettable characters that just make you love her and you don’t know why. She’s one of those forces that have been living for centuries as an assassin. She has great depth and different parts of her, some seem cold and others are shown through her relationship with Nicholai. Thrilling.

You, Fascinating You Germaine Shames Historical In the final weeks of 1938, in the shadow of Kristallnacht and imminent war, a heartsick Italian maestro wrote a love song called “Tu Solamente Tu.” Its lyrics lamented his forced separation from his wife, the Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf, in the wake of Mussolini’s edict banishing foreign Jews from Italy. Amy’s Review: Just sit back and listen I enjoyed this book through the audio copy and it took my breath away. I loved just sitting back and listening to the magnificent narration of You, Fascinating You. It’s the first book of this author’s that I’ve had the honor of listening to (or reading) and I was impressed. The story of the ballerina Margit, and her true love, her maestro taking years to reconnect, during one of the hardest eras in history. It’s a powerful story, and listening to this you can really feel the emotions running throughout the story. An epic story and well worth the read and listen. The final chapter brings a lot of pain, remembrance and even small hope for what may come next. Highly recommended.

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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Whisperer A. Ireland King Suspense/British She chose death. She got life. When Meredith Potts jumps in front of a train, the first surprise is that she still exists. She meets the mysterious Michael, a guardian angel of sorts. As Meredith learns to help the living in quiet ways, she must also face her own demons. Amy’s Review: Great story It captivates the reader from the beginning, seeing both the living and dead’s perspective of a suicide. That’s all I’m giving, but the story kept me hooked. The story is well written, and very easy to follow. I’d like to say it’s an easy read, but the emotions and build up are just not so easy. However, I enjoyed this read, very much. I read this book in its entirety, but am also posting this review on the different novellas that make up this book.

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Divining Destiny Melanie Nowak Paranormal Felicity’s husband Ben hopes to rescue her from the evil clutches of vampire coven-master Arif, but to ensure Felicity’s safety he would have to play by Arif’s rules. Is Ben willing to make a deal with the devil to retrieve his wife? Or should he put his differences aside to try and work with his former rival, the vampire Cain, to find a solution? Cain may be able to help rescue Felicity, but once she is safe, the vampire may not be willing to give her up...again. Amy’s Review: Final book in Series 2 This is a very climatic book, wrapping up the 2nd Almost Human series, and giving an opening for the next series (which i know is due out soon). I think out of all of them, the final books in the series are the best, as they are the most twisting and climatic, and energized books of the series. This story is indeed something worth reading, and worth looking for future books. The writing and storytelling and showing the audience these characters, is amazing. Giving the readers the insight into the fine line between humanity and immortality, and each has its own flaws and perfections.


The Last Child of Leif Chris Pridmore Epic Fantasy Forced from my home, I find myself fleeing from the evil forces that killed my father. My mother and Sebastian, our protector, are by my side — but for how long? I soon find myself travelling with a circus led by a kindly man called Konrad, but my young mind doesn’t know who to trust. Sebastian seems less at ease with every passing day. I’m struggling to cope with the tragedy that has befallen me, and the world now seems a lot more dangerous than I had ever imagined. My name is Prince Valiant, and I am a Child of Leif. Amy’s Review: Intriguing journey Pridmore brings Prince Valiant to life, in this wonderous and torturous journey. Innocence seems to be stripped from the young prince, and he must be brave. Filled with magic and mayhem, and wizardry, the story is set in Medieval times, where life and death sometimes go hand in hand. This story gives running away to the circus a new and interesting plot line. The characters have depth and are filled with emotion. A great story.

Bender Alexander Rigby SciFi/Gay Two souls. Four love stories. Ancient Egypt. Renaissance Italy. 1980s Pittsburgh. Futuristic Argentina. Bender tells the story of four couples across space and time, chronicling their relationships from the moments they meet, until their love stories ultimately end. These interconnecting tales follow a princess who falls for a slave, two men whose love is taboo, a dysfunctional couple struggling to make it work, and two women who discover a fascinating machine that reveals they’ve lived multiple past lives. Amy’s Review: The title says it all ... or does it? A great story from Rigby, as it’s the first one of his that I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. I was drawn into the premise of the story, and read it from cover to cover, because it was captivating. Reincarnation, drawing and connecting souls, it brings in four stories to mesh and connect, and then divide. The interaction between the characters, and the different stories, and are the same as well. Bender takes the reader on a new journey, through time and space, and present, past and future. Tragedy and triumph, a definite well written read.

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Jen’s Book Reviews Behind Closed Doors B.A. Harris Suspense Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed. From bestselling author B. A. Paris comes the gripping thriller and international phenomenon Behind Closed Doors. Jen’s Review: A gripping and psychological read I didn’t want to stop reading until I had finished. I’m now a fan of this author. Grace and Jack are the perfect couple with the perfect marriage and life. Or that’s what you’re led to believe behind closed doors is a different matter. Where things are dark and rules must be followed. I really enjoyed this book, it’s worth a look and isn’t a long read.

First Time Lucky Chance Carter New Adult/Sports Romance Ladies, take it from me, if you have any sense, do not fall for an Irish guy. Especially a fiery-tempered, muscular, tattooed, bad boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks without a father. That’s Shane. My Shane.

Jen’s Review: Shane is a poor Irish guy who lives in a trailer park with his mum. He has a mega crush on a girl at school, but unfortunately for him so does the high school jock. This is a sweet high school romance with a little danger thrown in for good measure. I think romance fans will love this story and feel a little lucky themselves for reading it.

Deep Down Dead Steph Broadribb Crime/Suspense A fast moving bounty hunter style crime. That keeps the reader’s on there toes. I really enjoyed reading this book this is the first in a series of book’s. That feature Lori Anderson a bounty hunter from Florida. That finds herself all mixed up in all sorts of nasty business. While attempting to pickup someone that has skipped bail. Jen’s Review: A fast moving bounty hunter style crime that keeps the reader on their toes. I really enjoyed reading this book, this is the first in a series. that feature Lori Anderson a bounty hunter from Florida who finds herself all mixed up in all sorts of nasty business while attempting to pickup someone that has skipped bail.

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Legend of the Night Unicorn Sarah Northwood Children/Fantasy Martha is excited about her trip on the steam train up Mystic Mountain. She finds out from a kind old man how the train got its name. Legend has it there’s a night unicorn who lives on the mountain. After Martha arrives at the top of the mountain peak, she has one burning question. All she wants to do is find out if the legend is true. Jen’s Review: A short story about a little girl called Martha who hears a magical story featuring a unicorn while aboard a train journey. Perfect for young or old. I think everyone deserves a little magic and sparkle in their lives.

Behind Her Back Jane Lythell Contemporary In a TV station run by men, how do the women make themselves heard? Liz Lyon is a television producer at StoryWorld, the UK’s favourite morning show. Her job is stressful and demanding, but she is determined to show her teenage daughter that women can succeed. Then a new female colleague joins the station. In this predatory climate of toxic masculinity Liz and Lori should be helping each other. But when Lori starts secretly building her power base with the bosses, Liz is desperate to know what’s going on behind her back... Jen’s Review: Book two in the Storyworld Series featuring Liz and her TV Company. Very much like the first book in the series. I read this book basically in one sitting. The characters are very rich and lovable and the story has just the perfect amount of gossip and drama that makes you feel you are a member of Storyworld team. This book can be read as part of a series or as a standalone. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for Liz and her team.

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Sweet Southern Book Reviews The Pearly Gates Phone Company Chele Pedersen Smith Inspirational Ever been wowed by the wonders of God? Enchanted by an extraordinary experience? An unexplained call from a departed loved one, oddly timed answers to prayers. Encouraging pick-me-ups, messages and visits from missed loved ones, perilous saves and vivid dreams just when you need them the most. SSReview: If you are feeling down or miss someone near and dear to your heart than these stories are just what you need. They make you think about signs you may have gotten from someone that has departed from your life. I completely believe in communication from the other side. I believe they don’t leave you completely or if they do then they have a way to every once in a while let you know they miss you, love you and are looking out for you even after departing. So in your moment of just pure weakness or just reflection grab your copy of Pearly Gates Phone Company and just think on what could be happening around you from someone you love that has departed!

If By Chance We Meet Karen Saunders Contemporary There was only seven years difference in age between Peter Swanson and Sandhal Rice when they first meet but at the time it might as well have been decades. Years later, while they occupy the same world, they are like ships passing in the night, never quite meeting until Peter’s friend Marty takes it upon himself to bring them together. SSReview: This is one of the best love stories that I have read in a really long time!!!! This book was recommended to me by one of my best book friends and I am so glad that I listened to her!!! This story is a throw back to the classic love stories of the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. This is a clean romance that will leave you believing in the true love and soul mates!!! This story reminds the readers about all that good and sweet about love!!! If By Chance We Meet is such a great story. Once I started reading, I could not stop until I was on the final page of the story. I lost all track of time and what was going on around me. The book read like a movie that I instantly fell in love with plan on enjoying again and again!!! This is the first book that I have read by Karen Saunders and I hope to have the pleasure of reading more by her in the very near future!!! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a book to get lost in. I was transported into the world of Peter and Sandhal and honestly did not want to leave!! This is a very easy 5 star rating for me and hope that more people experiencing the pleasure of falling in love with this story!!!

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Heart of a Highlander Emilia Ferguson Historical Highlander Can the memories of the past be put aside for the sake of love? Revenge Takes a Strange Path… But when sinister intentions surface and Amabel is captured before she has a chance to reveal them, Broderick is forced to see past the deceptions and begin another campaign of vengeance. With conflicts between powerful clans escalating and the well-laid plans unraveling into senseless violence, Broderick has no choice but to work together with his new wife to bring Aisling’s killers to justice. But can they find love? SSReview: Broderick MacConnaway does not think he

could ever love again but knows he must ask for a marriage with an ally to help get his vengeance. Little does he expect when he first lays eyes on his intended his world will be flipped upside down. Amabel is expected to marry as the oldest in her household for gain. As most ladies in that time she’s not happy about it but will do her duty. Then she meets the eyes of her intended and feels something she’s never felt before. Can Amabel help Broderick realize his vengeance is for naught and learn to love again or will they both be doomed to live in an amicable marriage? Sit back and be prepared to be transported to Medieval Scotland where things are wild and beautiful to take in the love story of two stubborn Highlanders that must learn that they both need one another!!!

Immortal the Chosen Terra James YA/Paranormal Seventeen year old Emmaline Watson’s life is about to change forever. Her family has generations of secrets that are about to change everything she thought she knew existed. What will happen when she finds out that she is one of the most powerful parts of the supernatural race, and it’s her responsibility to save them all? Can she become what they need her to be? Will the supernatural world cease to exist, or will she be able to save it in time? SSReview: It’s Emmaline’s 17th birthday and all she wants us to get through school and have the birthday party her Grams has planned for her. But that is not to be, as today is the day her life is to change forever. She is the Chosen, or the one to help all supernatural races. She couldn’t know any of this until she started showing the signs that she was indeed on the path of the Chosen. Her first sign was the fact the boy she had a crush on was able to talk to her telepathically. That alone was enough to through her for a major loop. So much is being thrown at her that she can’t even make it through school, she has to go to her Grams for help. Her Grams plays a major role in all of these life altering changes. All the major people in Emmaline’s life were put in her path for a reason, to help her with being the Chosen. All must go through a ceremony with Emmaline as well, but they only get through one part of it before Emmaline is taken. I loved this book! I haven’t read the second in the series but I cannot wait to. Terra keeps you on the edge of your seat and there is not a dull moment!!!

Sweet Southern Book Reviews Issue 21 | April 2018 |

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Uncaged Book Reviews  

Issue 21, April 2018 Featuring authors, Mary Lancaster, Katherine Bone, Terri Osburn, Melissa Keir, Ravin Tija Maurice, Nancy West, Lee Ann...

Uncaged Book Reviews  

Issue 21, April 2018 Featuring authors, Mary Lancaster, Katherine Bone, Terri Osburn, Melissa Keir, Ravin Tija Maurice, Nancy West, Lee Ann...