November 2022 Magazine

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Table of Contents

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Charlie Holmberg: Creating History and Fantasy So Imaginative, It Can’t Help But Become Addictive!

Scandalous Confessions of a Technophobe: Paul Stans eld

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So You Want To Write a Book? Kate Archer

31 22 Everything I Ever learned about World-building,

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I Learned From Playing D&D With Eddie Munson:

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Grace Draven

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InD'Introduce: Zia West eld


November 2022 New and Improved? S.L. Carpenter

40 Claim Your Rightful Place: On Reader’s Bookshelves! Tamara Cribley

46 The Path of The Gods, Chapter 4 Julie L. York

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56 Reviews: Contemporary:

69 85

Paranormal

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Fantasy/Urban Fantasy:

97

Historical:

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Young Adult:

100

Suspense/Thriller:

103

Novella:

108

Mystery:

111

Science Fiction:

112 114

Audiobooks: Inspirational: Other:

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Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief: TJ MacKay

Our Staff:

RONE Awards Coordinator: Amanda Hupe

Executive Editor: Katy Nielsen

Technical Editor: Gabriella Sawyer

Copy Editors: Julie York, Marc Joseph, Penny Baker

Reviewers*

Special Publications Editors: Sarah McEachron, Ryan Jo Summers Social Media: Laura Trujillo, Amanda Hupe, Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick Columnists: S.L. Carpenter, Paul Stans eld,Tamara Cribley, Julie L. York Transcription: Ralph Conley Graphics: Elle J. Rossi, Rachel Rossano

Chelsea Anderson, Belinda Wilson, Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick, Tricia Hill, Viola Robbins, Emerson Matthews, Sarah E. McEachron, Roslynn Ernst, Victoria Zumbrum, Shailyn Rogers, PIper Valentine, Austen Grace, Joan Lai, Cara Cieslak, N.E. Kelley, Jennifer Shepherd, Sadie Wilson, Annalee Stilove, Ruth Lynn Ritter, *Please note, ALL InD’tale staff are required at times to read and review books. Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. All books and material reviewed by InD’tale have been read by the stated reviewer and are the opinions of that reader.

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By: Siobhan Davis Video: Book Candy Studios

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Editor’s Note

WHEW! The busiest time of year is slowing down, the RONE awards have been awarded (see all the winners later on in this issue!) and the holidays are creeping up on us. Right this very minute is my most favorite time of year! The leaves have turned the most brilliant shades, the air is crisp and cool but not yet cold, and the food is absolutely scrumptious. With everything harvested, we have the choice of so many fresh options, from apples (pie!) pumpkins (pie!) and all the assorted berries and

fruit (pie!) it is an absolute plethora of tasting delight. I love warm sweaters and red-sailed sunsets… *sigh* just everything about Autumn gives me joy. And that joy extends to a truly and deeply grateful heart. It almost brings tears to my eyes when I think of each and every one of you who have made this journey so rewarding. From the InD’tale staff, who word so very hard each month and whose hearts are the very best in the business, to the authors and publishers who support us by submitting their books for review, to all the amazing people who purchase advertising so we can continue to stay in business, to the amazing readers who look to InD’tale for great insights into their favorite authors and books to read. Each and every one have taken up residence in my heart. Whether you realize it or not, I know and remember. You amaze me, you inspire me and you lift me. You are the reason I love what I do. You are the reason I continue, even when things are tight and the work is hard. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the amazing people you are.

Smiles,

TJ Macka y

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Contributors

Kate Archer Kate contents herself with writing stories of adventure and romance in her beloved Regency time period. There are lives to be created, marvelous gowns to wear, jewels to don, instant attractions that inevitably come with a dif culty, and hearts to break before putting them back together again. Her stories are clean—the action happens in a drawing room, rather than a bedroom. As she muses over what will happen next to her H and h, she occasionally reminds herself that it’s also nice to have a microwave, Net ix, cheese popcorn, and steaming hot showers.

Julie L. York Julie is an author, editor, and mom though not always in that order. She also teaches English to adult and incarcerated students. She was was born and raised in the East Bay Area, California, graduated with a B.A. in English, minoring in Business Computers... got married and had children. Then she completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Media Design. Oh, and did she mention she is a voracious reader? Thanks to iBooks and the Kindle App, Julie has consumed thousands of eBooks and claims reading is her rst love.

Paul Stansfield New Jersey born and raised, Paul Stans eld spent decades as a eld archaeologist for his day job. Surprisingly, even though he professionally disturbed hundreds of graves, he has yet to suffer a haunting or zombie attack. He’s had over 20 stories published by magazines, including such publications as Bibliophilos, Morbid Curiosity, The Literary Hatchet, and Horror Bites. He has stories available in 10 anthologies, and the upcoming “Death’s Garden Revisited” (October 2022). He’s an Af liate Member of the Horror Writers Association.

S.L. Carpenter A lifetime Californian, Scott Carpenter lives the ordinary life of a husband and father. Humor has always played a large role in his life, and he enjoys making people smile. His stories range from the outright absurd to the deeply poignant, and his mastery of the short story format is undeniable. If asked, he'll describe himself as just another guy. His many fans will tell you that his writing paints quite a different picture.

Grace Draven Looking for any excuse to delay in doing the laundry, Grace Draven turned to the much more entertaining task of telling stories about fantasy worlds, magic, antiheroes, and the women who love them. Her talent soon propelled her to super stardom in the Fantasy genre, and she is now one of it’s best-selling authors. Grace currently lives in Texas with her husband, kids, and a big doofus dog. Laundry has now been assigned to the kids.

Tamara Cribley Tamara Cribley is a self-professed formatting junkie who believes beautiful books don't happen by chance. Having worked as a Commercial Photographer, Graphic Artist, and Art Director, Tamara’s unique skills enable her to put together classy and professional books that keep the reader focused on the story. She resides in Colorado where she gives back to her community by being an active Search and Rescue volunteer, and in her free time enjoys reading, gardening, and exploring with the dog.

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Charlie Holmberg

Creating History and Fantasy So Imaginative, It Can’t Help But Become Addictive! 10


Have you ever noticed that some of the most creative people in the world are also the most interesting? They look at life and the world around them in a unique way and that, in turn, opens our eyes to all the possibilities we never thought of before! Charlie Holmberg is definitely one of those people. With a sunny smile and friendly personality, Charlie embraces the fact that she is different than the run-of-themill person. But it is in such a fun and optimistic way that one can’t help but be inspired and enthused to embrace all the innovation and ideas right along with this incredibly talented and enjoyable woman! Read along see just what we mean! InD: Where were you born and raised? CH: I was born and raised in Midvale, Utah. InD: So how was your childhood? CH: Well, my street was just past a strip club and my next-door neighbor was a pedophile, although I did not know what a strip club was until I got older. So when we would tell people how to get to our house, we would say, “Go past the strip club before the Hooters then take a right turn”. I also didn’t know until I was much older that my backyard neighbor was a pedophile, but then I understood why my mom did not want me to talk to him. InD: Did you grow up in a bad neighborhood? CH: In my experience it was a good neighborhood, but there was a drug bust down the road once and they put speed bumps on the road because people kept drag racing on it. But I was blissfully unaware because there was also a lot of a really good people around. InD: What were you like as a child? CH: You know what’s funny? My mom assigned all of us Sesame Street names and she said that I was Ernie because I was fun-loving and did not realize that my actions affected other people. So I was apparently like that. I have always been extroverted and loud and tactless. I have been working a little bit on that last one in my aging years. I was always quite unique as a child. Like, I did not care about what I wore. I used to take my dad's knee high socks, and roll them down around my ankles and go to school like that. InD: Just because you thought it was fun? CH: Because I thought it was comfortable. I thought his socks were nicer than my socks so I would always steal them. Up until the fourth grade, I went to a private

school where we all wore uniforms. That was ine and normal but in the ifth and sixth grade in public school, I was known as the teacher's pet because I was slightly more advanced because I came from a private school. Then, in junior high, I wasn't anymore and my grades changed. I was just this weird kid. I met my husband in high school and he said he always thought I was weird. He says I still am, but he likes it now. InD: You are weird because you were rolling your socks down to your ankles? CH: Things like that and I was a huge anime junkie. I was one of “those” kids. I taught myself Japanese and watched anime all of the time. I found out what anime was when I was 13, and that was what actually made me want to write because I watched "The Vision of Esca lowne”. I loved the story and decided I wanted to be a storyteller. Originally, I igured I could either draw comics or I could write books. I could tell that I was a bad artist but I couldn’t tell if I was a bad writer or not, so I just wrote. I also loved fantasy and all of that stuff, reading it, writing it, and watching it. InD: Do you have any brothers and sisters? CH: I have one older sister had two younger sisters. InD: So there are four girls in the family. How was that growing up? CH: Pretty good. My older sister and I were pretty close. My younger sister had some undiagnosed anxiety stuff so we fought a lot, but overall I liked it. InD: Did you like to read when you were young? CH: Yes. I was never a huge bookworm, but I liked books. I read all of the American Girl Doll Books, even though I never had an American Girl Doll. I was also really into the Clue books. I have read a few Animorph

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books too, and I got more into it as I got older. It wasn’t until I moved away to college that I got into epic fantasy. InD: So when exactly did you start writing? CH: I started when I was 13, in junior high school. InD: And that was because you loved the anime series? CH: Yes, and I wrote fan- iction during my teenage years, as well. I would start original stuff but I would never inish it. There is actually a 420,000 word story on there that I wrote. It was totally “Mary Sue” and will never go anywhere! InD: What was the response you received on your fan iction from people? CH: I actually received some pretty good responses from people, so that was kind of nice. InD: So did you put up the 420,000 words at one time? CH: No, I put it up one chapter at a time as I inished it. InD: Did it ever turn into anything else? CH: No. I should go check to see if there's any star reviews done on it, but it has been a long time! InD: Why did you not try to do something with it? CH: It was just for me. I was inserting myself into this other world and making it continue from where the original series ended - something like people did with “Twilight” and other books like that. InD: And you started doing this in junior high? CH: Yes. InD: Wow! That’s impressive that you started writing fan iction at that young of an age. I also read that you were a band geek. CH: Yes. I really enjoyed being in band, but I never did anything with it. I did meet my husband in band actually, and he dated all of my friends. I was a pianist in a jazz band and I played the French horn in a concert band. Actually, I started on lute but then switched to French horn and then I played this thing called an Elkhorn for a pep band. It’s like if a French horn and a trumpet had a baby. It’s like a trumpet with a big old bell. InD: I am a little labbergasted because I am a partial music major, and I have never heard of an Elkhorn! So that was kind of who you were in high school?

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CH: Yes, I was a band geek, and I absolutely loved it. But I never thought to major in it instead of English. I worried that if I had to study music I would hate it because it was too close to math. My minor was in editing. BYU is one of the only places who offered that, and I think that is what got me some jobs before I was published. Now BYU has a publishing degree. InD: When you went to college, were you planning on an English major and editing minor? CH: By my sophomore year, I knew I would have editing as a minor. I remember thinking I did not want to emphasize anything, I just wanted to do the minimum and graduate. But there was a class we took, literally for just one credit, of what to do with an English major. It talked about the editing minors that you could get, and I thought that was pretty good because I like editing and I was pretty good with commas. I loved the minor, but not the major. InD: I think that's awesome because you can make money in editing. So in college, did you do anything with music? CH: I was in a band for a little while and I co-wrote a few songs with somebody else, but that ended up being a hot mess. I have actually gotten into music again the last three years or so. I’ve published some songs now on iTunes, but I haven’t done anything professionally. I work with a producer for some songs for my books, but that’s it. InD: I saw that! Some of the ones you did for your books were really good. CH: Thank you. I’ll have you know I got a check for $10.92, and so I have made money off my music! [both laughing] InD: How many people can say that? That is really awesome all the way around. You must've taken the piano lessons when you were young? CH: Oh yeah, my mom made us take piano when we were ive. She said we could quit when we were 16 and she would put us in a corner if we did not want to practice. By the time I was 11 I was grateful, but up until that time, I didn’t like it. Of course now, it is


InD: Until you realized you couldn't be somebody else, you had to just be yourself. CH: Yeah, because all I read were big, epic fantasies, so that is what I kept trying to write. I love romance, but back then I would never read them because I thought I was going to be single forever, and if I read these books they would depress me, so I would never touch a romance novel… And now I include romance into all my books! InD: Some people kind of scoff at romance, but honestly, I have found over the years that the relationships in any book whether it is fantasy or contemporary or historical - are what bring readers back. CH: Absolutely. InD: They can be, and often are, secondary themes throughout the book, but the people that you connect with and their relationships with each other are what keeps you wanting to turn the page. So, smart on you girl! So all the books you said you wrote in high school that you didn't inish, were they faniction? Or were you honestly writing books to publish? CH: Both. I have three fan ictions that I wrote, and then I had a bunch of original stories that I started and never inished. I remember one was called “Kaiku and The Ruby Necklace”. It was terrible, and I remember I wrote one called “The Lirut”, which is about a girl who gets powers from a beetle. I wish I still had them,

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super useful. If it had been up to me I would not have stuck with it, but I'm glad my mom insisted. InD: My mom did the same thing! I am also glad she was so insistent because throughout college I taught piano to earn money on the side and I was so grateful! So many people put their kids in music lessons but when the kids don't want to practice, they let them quit. I can't tell you how many people have come back to me and said “I wish I wouldn’t have quit!” They wished their mothers had made them continue. CH: Yeah, my husband is one of those kids. InD: Do you still play the piano? CH: Yes, but not as much as I used to. I used to have this giant, castiron piano that I would haul around to all of my dorms and I played like crazy. But for some reason, after I got married I didn’t play as much. But I do still play from time to time. I am 34 and I don't think that I am much better now I was when I was 20. InD: Yeah, but it is still something that you can do and enjoy. It's interesting that in college you started reading fantasy a lot. That is not something most people say. People usually say that in college they didn't read a lot because they were too busy with school.

CH: Yeah a lot of books that I was required to read in college classes I didn’t like. I don’t like most of the classics. I ind them boring. InD: Yes, and most of them are so depressing. CH: Yes. But I have always loved the fantasy stuff, whether it was watching the X-Men cartoon growing up or all the anime series I liked that were fantasy, so whenever I could read on my own, that is what I would pick up. InD: Was it something to do other than school to relax? Obviously as an English major, you have to read a lot. CH: It was a fun pastime, and by that time I knew I wanted to be a fantasy writer, as well. Actually, I knew by the time I was in high school that was what I wanted to do. I just didn’t really get into it until I went to college. InD: When did you start writing that irst book you consciously wanted to publish? CH: The irst book I inished was in college. I started a whole bunch before college but I never inished them. But when I was 19, I actually inished my irst book. It was terrible and way too long! I didn't learn how to write a proactive protagonist until my fourth book which was an epic fantasy retelling of Chicken Little. I was always trying to be Brandon Sanderson and write all of these epic fantasies, and I always felt that I naturally had a young adult voice. It wasn't until I stopped trying to write epics, though, that I started to write good books.


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but I wrote them on 3.5 loppies on this giant Macintosh I had. The earliest one that I have is “Chuck #3”, but I don't know what happened to Chuck number one and two. So I can never access the old, old stories of mine. InD: Oh that's too bad. What did you do with that irst book you wrote to publish? CH: I threw it in the ire. I actually liked part of it and tried reoutlining it about 10 years ago, but it just doesn't stick anymore. What is really funny is there was a character that I loved in that book that I created for a Star Wars RPG. I ended up putting him in ive books, and every time he goes into a book, the book dies! He kills the books. He's this super quiet guy, and in each book there is some reason that he can't speak, but he has a special way that he can communicate. I don't know why that every time I try and put him in a book the book dies, and I have tried so many times! But some day he will be a character in a book. It has just never ever worked out yet. InD: Which book was it that you really worked on and published? CH: "Followed by Frost”. It is the sixth book I inished and I was pretty con ident with that one, but it didn't go anywhere. The next one I felt really con ident with was "The Paper Magician" which was my ninth inished book, and that one ended up becoming my debut success.

InD: “Followed by Frost” was up for a RITA award. You said that it didn't do anything, yet it was up for an award? CH: It did end up getting published later, but I tried to sell it with an agent and I couldn’t. I inally got an agent with "The Paper Magician", and she represented "Followed by Frost” as well. InD: Why do you think it didn’t originally do well, yet later it did? CH: Part of it I think is I only have so much bandwidth to work on a novel, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I get tired and want to just move on. The other thing is when I was irst creating it, I would get a lot of requests for it, but then it would always get turned down. I tried improving it with every suggestion made until I just got tired of it and moved on to something else. InD: You said your ninth book, "The Paper Magician”, was the one that really took off. Had the seventh and eighth books come out? Or did they do well after? CH: The eighth one would be considered culturally insensitive – I know better now. The seventh one is weirdly dystopian and I really liked the idea, but it was only around 47,000 words which is too short. I knew I needed to go back and ix it, but I lost interest

and I started writing something else. Still, I like the idea of that book, so maybe someday I will go back to it. We’ll see. InD: So "The Paper Magician" went crazy. I have read thousands and thousands of books in my career and it is a really dif icult business because there is so much out there. Still, I can say in all honesty that I have never read anything like yours. Every single book is so unique and creative. You come up with stories I could never even imagine! CH: That is probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. InD: So how do you do that? Let's start with "The Paper Magician". CH: I have a notebook for all of my ideas for books. For instance, with "The Paper Magician”, I have always liked origami, and I was on a road trip when I thought it would be really cool if there were a magic system that could bring origami to life. I had a vision of a magician of something - but I didn't know what that something was. Then, during another road trip, I thought ‘what if it was just paper magic, and it wasn't just a side thing?’ Because it felt like it should be a part of something bigger. So I started to think about the attributes of paper - there are not a lot - but it is man-made, so what else is man-made? And that is kind of where the paper magic

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comes from. I was watching Downtown Abbey at the time, so that’s why my story ended up with an English lair to it. When I sold it, my editor wanted to make it historical so that's why it is historical but not historically accurate. The language is very modern, and we had to change a lot of the places so it could be set in England, but I kept the weird names that I had come up with. InD: Are you a plotter or a pantser? CH: I am a huge plotter. I don't understand pantsers. Pantsers are weird. InD: That’s amazing if one has read your books! I can't see how you can plot out all those wildly imaginative and creative things like taking a paper heart and putting it in somebody with magic to keep someone alive, and all of these weirdly creative aspects that pop up by plotting them out beforehand. CH: I am a little weird; I guess my brain just goes there. InD: When that irst book took off, how did that happen? CH: Amazon had this program that every month they would pick four books to give to prime members for free before the book released. I was selected as a debut author to be in that program and they gave me a new cover (which I think really helped a lot). I think it was the right book at the right time because there was like 100,000 downloads of this book in a month. It took me a few years to realize that was good. I was living in Idaho at the time, outside of Utah’s huge writing community. I didn’t do a release party or anything… I didn't know what was considered good numbers, and I had no one to tell me.

InD: But honestly, seeing that 100,000 people have read your book must have been something. CH: That was weird. But it's so cool! So yeah, that's a good number, but what is normal? It took me a few years to know that was really good. I'm like they gave me this trophy… I guess that means it’s good. InD: I bet you got all the residuals, as well? CH: If you are in the program they give you a stipend, and then you're not paid for the downloads for the irst month. But the marketing was so freaking phenomenal - especially if a book is part of a series, that is can still be worth it. InD: So you really did not get paid for that irst 100,000? CH: No. InD: Oh, now I can understand why you were not sure if that was good or bad because you're not seeing the money coming from it, but wow, it sounded good. Afterwards, did it grow from there? CH: Yes. It was weird because by the time the third book that came out, it hit the Wall Street Journal's bestsellers list, and it was a surreal thing because I was a nobody. It was really cool but also weird because I was on the bestseller list, but when I went to Barnes & Noble, they didn't carry my book because it was an Amazon title. It was this weird limbo, so once again, I didn’t know if I was doing well because I can't go to a bookstore and get my book. InD: I know that is frustrating for so many authors; not only for the Amazon authors, but for all the indie authors that do extremely well. It is this weird limbo that you end up in. CH: There is still a strong bias against us with listings and bookstores, but with that said, I would not choose a different publisher because 47North has been really phenomenal, and I am really happy with them. InD: Was "The Paper Magician" originally going to be a standalone? Or did you think it was going to be a series? CH: I wrote it as a standalone. But within that magic world, there was a potential series. So I had ideas for a second book, and we did end up selling the two books together, and then they bought the third book later. InD: Did the other books do well? CH: Yeah they did. And at one point I thought it would be fun to do a companion novel to go with that trilogy just to explore it more, but my brain was like, “No, let's move on to something new”. I don't want to stay in the same world for too long, but maybe someday. InD: Where did you go from there? CH: That was when we sold "Followed by Frost", and then I wrote "Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet”. I kind of switch back and forth with high fantasy and historical. InD: So for readers, what is the difference between high fantasy and epic fantasy?


CH: Some people will say they are the same thing, but I disagree. I say that high fantasy doesn't happen on our earth, and epic fantasy is high fantasy on drugs. Epic fantasies are a lot more complex. They have multiple viewpoint characters, and they expand very large and different worlds, different continents, a lot of political intrigue, and really complex plot lines in a big series. High fantasy can be this other world, but they don't have the same complexities. InD: So even though most of them are set in another world, they draw a lot on historical things to help create those worlds. So where does it become an historical fantasy rather than a high fantasy? CH: A lot of high fantasy will pull back on technology because magic isn’t fun when everyone has cell phones or Bluetooth and other stuff. So a lot of times, a book will use tech at a level similar to 1300s Europe or the like… But you can pull fantasy ideas from all kinds of things. Fantasy might be completely wild like "Dune" by Frank Herbert - because he was not pulling on anything historical when he incorporated big worms. But historical fantasy is actually set in Earth’s history somewhere 1850's India for example - but the story being told there is ictional. All the technology and social customs have to be correct for it to be historical, save where the fantasy elements alter it.

InD: Okay, that will help everybody understand because we're talking about high fantasy and epic fantasy and the historical fantasy. I’m not sure everybody would understand the difference, and you even helped me clarify it a little bit. So your irst books came out as historical, but then you wanted to write high fantasy. Correct? CH: Yes. Historicals tend to sell better, but my true love is high fantasy, so I would write a historical, then I would write a high fantasy That was something new and interesting and a whole new world, then I’ll go back to historical. A lot of it is Victorian because that is what I have learned and know the best. If I were to go and write a medieval book, I would have to do a ton of research because when you're writing historical, you have to be super accurate. But with high fantasy, you can BS all you want. I do enjoy historical, and the next one that I'm going to do will be alternate history, but I like switch between the two. InD: Where did you get the idea for “Star Mother”? CH: I visited Europe for the irst time three years ago and was really inspired by the French countryside and all of the cathedrals there. Kimberly Loth has a book called "God of the Sun", and if you look at the original cover, it has the backside of a woman where you can only see the back of her hair and shoulders. There was something

when seeing her that prompted the irst lines of "Star Mother" in my head. The line was something like, “I thought laying with the sun God would be the worst pain I ever experienced, but giving birth to his child was far worse”, and I just needed to know that person, and what her story was. InD: That one was so good and so well written, yet again, the storyline is so unique. You have an earthly woman and a Sun God that have a baby together who then becomes a star. It reminded me of Native American folklore. The book is very reminiscent of the stories they tell. CH: I'm de initely not the irst one who has dei ied celestial bodies and stuff like that, but I wanted it to seem familiar and for it to sound like folklore, even though I made it all up. InD: I am still amazed that you plot all of this stuff out. CH: I think it would be harder not to! For me to sit down and just start and to see what happens and where it is going… I just cannot do it. InD: Your writing is so diverse. All your books and series are so completely different and unique, even from each other. Most authors, even though they do different series, will usually keep some kind of thread throughout the genre they are writing in. You don't do that at all. CH: That's because I get bored easily.

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InD: Have you found a lot of reader’s expect a certain theme from you? CH: That's a really good question. I think when readers come to me, they are going to expect magic, a love story, and really good world building. So there are certain things you can de initely expect, but all my books are not going to be fairytale, for instance. Writing to market does have really good bene its, but I could never do it. I write what I want to write, and if it does well, that's great. If I had to write to market, I wouldn’t like writing anymore, so I write what I like. In my experience, if you write what you love, other people will love it too. InD: Because I think you establish a reputation. So we know when we read a Charlie Holmberg book, it will be something very different. We’re not able to say what that different is, but it will be very unique and very creative. Maybe the magic is that readers don't know what they're going to get in the next book they read from you. How long does it take for you to inish a book? CH: From when I start drafting (I'm not counting plotting, because sometimes the plotting is really quick and other times it takes forever) it usually takes me one to three months to write a book. InD: That's not bad at all. CH: No. I don't have a lot of hobbies. InD: Do you have stories that stand out as favorites? CH: I think the best and most complex stories for me are

probably the Numina series. There are different kinds of series: You have the type of series where each book is self-contained, like the “The Paper Magician" series. Then you have the companion novel series which is really popular in romance, like "Star Mother”. But the Numina series is an overarching series that is one giant story told in three books. That one took the most effort, the most plotting, and the most world building with all the reveals and twists etc. of anything else I have written, and so I am very proud of that series. Otherwise, when people asked me which is my favorite, it is the one that just came out. InD: Standalone and series, do you prefer one over the other? CH: I actually prefer standalones but readers prefer series, so honestly I write more series. Still, I consider myself a standalone writer. That's what I like because I want to move on to other things. Every time I try to write the third book in a series, I have a hard time - not because the book is bad; I still love the story and the characters, it’s just that I'm ready to move on to something else. InD: What made you decide to try a contemporary romance? CH: I got the idea for a contemporary romance because I read them from time to time, and I

thought that it would be really cool to write one. In “You're My I.T.”, it was the idea of a woman loving a guy who is not your typical romance hero. He is overweight and not stereotypically cute, but she loves him anyway. That inspiration is probably because of my own journey, but he ends up going through nutrition counseling and losing all of this weight, and suddenly everybody likes him but she liked him before. The original title was going to be "I Loved You First", but then I thought it would be fun if I branded it to be nerdy and worked it into that aspect. The series became “The Nerds of Happy Valley” series. That irst book was really fun to write, but then I put it aside. Then a year to later, I was telling my husband about this idea I was getting really excited about. I said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if two live-action role players were to fall in love”? So I wrote the second book, "Two Damage My Heart” from that. InD: You mentioned the irst book mirrors your own journey; how so? CH: Because in 2019 I was not very healthy, and what really got me thinking was when I was playing on the loor with my son and I was trying to stand up, but it was so hard! So I got a personal trainer (right before the pandemic hit). I did a year of nutrition counseling, lost a bunch of weight, and got real it. So that character’s journey was something that I went through, and I thought it would be really interesting to put that in a story. InD: Do people look at you differently since you became more it like your character? CH: I de initely got more comments about it. If you are a woman over 30, weight comes off really slow. But I got comments on

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it, and if I was single and in the dating world, I might have noticed more. InD: So tell me about your personal romance! CH: All of my life the guys I have been into were never into me. I would not read romance novels because I thought that I would never have a boyfriend. My irst boyfriend was when I was 21. Then I married my husband. But I was convinced that even with him it was never going to work out because it hadn’t before. So you get this mindset where you don't want to hope or put much into it because you don't want to be embarrassed, and that comes out in a lot of my protagonist’s love stories. I met Jordan, my husband, in my sophomore year of high school, and had a crush on him. I had taken a break from band, and when I went back, he was the saxophone player. I really liked him, but then he started dating one of my friends who played the piano. I was heartbroken, but they ended up breaking up. In our senior year, he was dating my brass partner, and I'm like, “You are missing the mark here!” I was always around him and we would hang out every now and then. We were friends but we were not close, and he would always date my other friends, so I thought it would never happen. After high school, he did missionary work so he was out of country for a couple of years. I would write him letters and show how funny I was, and I would do things like, “Oh look, my picture fell into this envelope!” I joke with him and say the only reason he dated me was because I lost weight off of my face. I was in college when he came home and a friend of mine and I went to see him. He told my friend, “Charlie got hot!” but I was dating somebody else at the time. I called Jordan for advice when I decided to break up with the guy, so I was subtly telling him that I was going to be available soon. InD: Was that intentional? CH: Absolutely. When me and this other guy broke up, we had originally planned to go to a haunted house together, so I called Jordan to go with me instead. Our irst date was 13 hours long because we spent most of the day at the amusement park, and then got yogurt together. When he asked me out again, I didn't get it, so a roommate explained to me that he liked me. On

the third date he asked if he could kiss me, and I said no, you haven't even held my hand yet! I had known him for six years; we dated for six months, and then got engaged. InD: I can totally understand why you would think he doesn't like you - even after he asked you out because you’d had a crush on him for six years, and he dated everybody but you. CH: Yeah, he dated around me. InD: Did he ever say what changed all of a sudden when he went from not ‘liking’ you to asking you out? CH: I don't know, but I did write him more than anybody else while he was on his mission. I actually stayed in touch with him when his ex-girlfriends didn't. He always thought I was weird, but he says he likes it now and likes that I am genuine. I would always say what was on my mind or what I was feeling, and I really value honesty, and he tells me that is one of the things he loves most about me. InD: I can understand that, and maybe those years that he was away growing up, he really started to value things that are genuine - from a high school guy to someone older wanting to have a relationship. CH: I was also a slow bloomer and I was probably a cup size bigger by the time he got back. InD: So the hot was not just the face? CH: The hot helped. [both laughing] InD: How long have you been married now? CH: We just had our 12th anniversary. InD: That is wonderful! So How many kids do you have? CH: We have a boy and a girl. My daughter is eight and my son is six. InD: That's awesome. Does your husband read your books? CH: He does, and he is in the acknowledgments of every single book I have published. He gives me feedback and helps me when I get stuck. He is my sounding board for a lot of the stuff. InD: Are your children creative?


CH: My daughter is on the autism spectrum, but they both do some really funny and creative things for sure. I think that is just a normal thing for them. InD: Do they get into the fantasy stuff like you did when you were a kid? CH: My son is still working on sight words. My daughter is a really good reader but she would not sit down with a book, so we are working on that aspect of it. They like stuff like Minecraft where they can build their own worlds and do really weird and creative things. My daughter is obsessed with cats, and she actually drew me a book cover and says, “I want to write this book, ‘Cat of Seasons’, and I want a book cat for each season”. InD: What other areas of writing would you like to explore? CH: I would really like to write a horror novel. I outlined a horror novel but I don't think I am going to write it anytime soon. InD: So how are you going to put romance in that book? CH: There is a secondary character but he’ll die at the end, so no, typically it would not be a romance, which is funny, because I don't read a lot of horror because it scares me. I think the people who write horror are really cool and I would like to write one someday. InD: Okay, so your parents gave all their girls typically boy names like Charlie. Did they ever say why? CH: My sister is named Danny and I was named Charlie (neither is short for anything else), then they just kept with that theme. The other two sisters are Andy and Alex. InD: Okay, so before we inish, let’s do some favorites! What is your favorite food? CH: Butter, and I eat that on my second favorite food which is bread. InD: [Laughing] Well, that is the most creative answer we’ve ever had! What is your favorite dessert? CH: Homemade chocolate chip cookies. InD: And your favorite color? CH: Pink. InD: Why? CH: Because I think it’s pretty. I really like that salmony-sunset pink that is like a sunset and has a little bit of orange in it. That is my favorite. InD: What is your favorite time of day? CH: I like mornings because I am the smartest in the morning. I have the whole day ahead of me. I do all of my writing and exercising in the morning, and by afternoon I am done and slow. I cannot stay up to save my life. I am not a night owl in the slightest. InD: Where is your favorite place in the world to be?

CH: Genuinely, my house, but my favorite place to visit is the English countryside because it feels like a fantasy novel, and I really loved it over there. InD: Do you have a favorite book or movie? CH: My favorite movie is "Howl's Moving Castle". There is a book by Diana Wynne Jones, but I like the movie adaptation better. It’s hard to have a favorite book, but “Howl’s Moving Castle” is de initely in the top 10 for me. I really love "The Bird and the Sword" by Amy Harmon. I really love everything from Brandon Sanderson, and "Daughter of the Forest" by Juliet Marillier made me ugly cry. I think that it is the only book that I’ve ever ugly cried over. And I have to throw this in here as well; I don't reread books very often, but there are two books that I have because I love them so much. They are "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" by N.K. Jemisin, and "Soulless" by Gail Carriger. I really love those. InD: Now we have great ideas on what to read next! Okay the very last question: The best piece of advice you have ever been given? CH: Allow yourself to suck. An indie author, Joe Vasicek, gave me that advice. He said, “You just have to allow yourself to suck. You can't be a perfectionist about everything”. I think a lot of people have a hard time writing and inishing books because they're worried about the sentence being stupid or the scene being so bad, and they keep going back and re- ixing it. But no, just let it be bad and keep going; you can ix it later. I feel like that is true with anything you're trying to learn. If it doesn't come quick we tend to quit, so I think in general, allow yourself to be bad at stuff and just keep pushing forward is good advice.

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Everything I Ever learned about World-building I Learned From Playing D&D With Eddie Munson

Dear reader, all but the last phrase of the title is true. I imagine it would be fabulous to play D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) with Eddie Munson from "Stranger Things". The entertainment value there is off the charts, to be sure. I did, however, play this well-loved game during my college years with a group that consisted of several of my brother's friends, and my brother, who presided over the game as the all-powerful Dungeon Master. It was these all-nighter adventures, steeped in fertile imaginations, fueled by junk food and warm soda, that gave me a solid foundation in the skill of worldbuilding. A fast Google search will yield up a mountain of examples and tutorials focused on world-building. Many talk about creating a world from the inside out or the outside in, leshing out things like topographies, mythologies, religious and political systems, ictional languages, etc.

These are necessary for sure, but world-building is more than just creating the epic; it's also about creating the myopic. Those tiny close-in details that may be considered mundane or ubiquitous are key elements which play as important a role as magic systems and geographies in bringing the reader into the world the writer is creating for the story. “World” itself is a word up for interpretation, subject to in inite horizons or something as enclosed as a bedroom, and if you ask 10 different authors what world-building means to them, you'll receive 10 different answers. Personally, I like to think of it as more of a creation of environment, viewed from a

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narrowed lens and in a de ined moment. All moments add up together to create a greater, larger world where "world" is subordinate to plot, but can be a character all its own as well. In D&D, a good Dungeon Master (DM) creates a rich, layered world in which to drop his players and run them through an adventure that will, hopefully, make them forget they're actually sitting at a fold-out table in someone's living room, rolling dice, and referencing character sheets instead of running from armies of orcs or angry dark elves across battle ields on fantasy worlds. This is called immersion, and is the inest bit of magic every creative strives for, whether it be writing, illustrating, composing, etc. The ability to transport your reader, your viewer, or your listener is a valuable skill, and one that takes a lot of work and practice. It's something a good DM knows how to do, and my brother—an instinctive storyteller —was one of the best at it. His worlds were layered, complex, vivid, and most of all, grounded, even when they resonated with sorcery. As a DM, he operated from the idea of perspective when building his worlds. For example, if our group entered a village during market day, he described our surroundings in such a way that we felt like we were there. A market teeming with people in a sweltering crush under a summer sun. Stalls selling every kind of good imaginable line the already narrow streets, creating gridlock in some spaces. It has just rained,

turning the streets into a sloppy quagmire of mud and horse manure. A fog created from the damp and the sweat of hot horses and too many people hangs over the entire market, scented with the perfume of ish, rotten fruit, and open sewers. The cacophony of vendors hawking their wares and people shouting at each other to be heard is so deafening, you can barely hear yourself think. Alleys spider off in every direction from the main street, less crowded, but more sinister, narrower, and garlanded in clotheslines drooping with wet laundry. See what he did there? This isn't just a tiny world; it's an environ. We, the players, are surrounded and encompassed by every aspect of this market, all of our senses engaged. We're no longer in an air-conditioned living room sitting in comfortable chairs. We're in the moment, sweating, inhaling foul air, waiting with bated breath to see what the DM is going to throw at us and eager to engage. This is immersion. This is actually the easier part for the DM. Reacting to the player's responses to the challenges presented in the world the DM created is much harder. For example, if the player is playing a pickpocket and chooses to ply his trade in this crowded market, the DM has to take into account the character's traits and personality and how the player will play that character. The roll of dice will play a big part as well. I remember playing that pickpocket in one of my brother's games. I told him what I wanted the character to do (pick the pocket of an obviously wealthy patron who was about the size of a bear). My brother had me roll the dice to see if I successfully picked the man's pocket. I did. I had to roll again to ind out if the man saw me do it. I rolled a critical miss/failure, which meant not only did he see me, he caught me. I rolled again to try and get free, taking a minus off my points for dexterity because he already had a grip on me and was much, much stronger. I rolled successfully that time, and escaped. I tried to run through the crowd, both bear-guy and me slowed down by the throng, but I was quick and stealthy. However, what I'd forgotten was the streets were calf-deep in mud, sucking off people's shoes and slowing everyone down, including me. Plus, while I was much smaller and faster than bearguy, I was too weak to pry myself out of the mud with any speed. Bear-guy, on the other hand, just bulldozed his way through. My brother, the DM from Hell (as I was thinking of him, at the time) hadn't forgotten any of it and kept

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Then that evil, vicious bastard sibling of mine—who was obviously out to get me—made me roll again for reasons unknown, at the time. I rolled a critical miss/ failure, which translated into me slipping on an abandoned ish in front of the ishmonger's stall and landing lat on my back hard enough to stun me and allow bear-guy to catch up. I survived the encounter with the help of my party and a nasty brawl which resulted in destroying the ishmonger's stall and all of us being put in the village jail until we paid the ishmonger for damages and bribed the warden to let us out. I remember wanting to reach across the table and strangle my brother with my bare hands during this encounter.

have no other shoes, and are about to go adventuring through a snowy mountain pass. There's a lot more to world-building. Entire books can be, and have been, written about it, and it's more than this article can tackle in its limited word count. However, I can tell you that, while I no longer play D&D, I still apply those valuable lessons I learned about world-building from my extraordinary brother to every book I write. There are times when I roll the dice for a character to see what might happen to them in a scenario I've set up. Most of all, I strive to create that story where the reader is no longer observing events from afar, but standing in the heart of the jostling crowd, smelling the smells, feeling the heat, and watching the pickpocket run, fall, struggle, rise, and inally prevail. It's that moment when I can tell the reader, “Welcome to my world. Please stay a while and enjoy.”

And that is true magic. Why? Because his thorough world-building, and attention to every detail in the environ we were in, immersed us in the moment, engaging not only our imaginations but also our emotions. What he did was manipulate the world he created so that it was subject to the character's actions and the plot behind the adventure. In turn, he manipulated the character, making them subject to the environ in which they operated. Things like mud, crowds, dead ish—all these commonplace things can, and do, have impact in the scheme of a story and the outcome of a character's goals and motivations. They are important details in world-building and should never be ignored. Everything has a consequence and a cost, even something as minor-seeming as losing your shoes in the mud—which isn't minor at all if you're dirt poor,

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making me roll with minuses on my strength, speed, and dexterity. I actually did roll a life-saving roll and managed to escape by dragging myself to a set of boards laid across the mud in front of some stalls and started running again.


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Scandalous Confessions of a Technophobe

Back in 2012, I published my irst ebook, called "Dead Reckoning". The fact that an important plot point of this story was Luddism, was no accident. I’m not technically a Luddite, but I do share many of their characteristics. (Or maybe this is just a high-minded excuse for my ineptness with, and fear of, technology.) Whatever the case, I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into every new technology, and usually I’m a good decade behind everyone else. To illustrate, I sent my irst email in 2001, still have CD’s instead of an iPod, and am totally at sea concerning new cell phones with Internet access, which I call computer phones. Anyway, like probably a lot of people of the age and time, in the early 1980’s, we wrote using pencil or pen and paper. As we got older, and it became apparent that some of our handwriting was crappy, combined with the more formal requirements of junior high and especially high school papers, we all began typing. Many families had an electric typewriter instead of a manual one, but that’s about where its sophistication ended. The typewriter didn’t even have a “return” key—you had to pull a lever for that. Typos were dif icult to deal with—you could use White Out/Liquid Paper, which worked okay, but required time to dry before typing over, or use correction tape, which was essentially the same as the other two, except it came in solid tape form that you put between the paper and the key bars.

Technology is constantly changing and evolving. In my 51 years on the planet, it’s amazing how many things have been invented, or at least, refined and improved. Similarly, as writers, we all have definitely noticed many important changes in the technology involved with writing.

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When the college years hit, kids of that age received a gift of The Next Big Thing—an electric typewriter with a built in correction key. This one had two typewriter ribbons—the regular black ink, and a white correction one. When you hit “correct” it went back one space, and spread the correction substance over the letter. It was a big improvement over the older method, as it was contained and automatic, plus the correction tape was instantaneous, so you could type over right away. The typewriter had some other features, too, it could retain a line or two of copy in a primitive computer chip and then type it out later, but almost needless to say I didn’t even try to learn this, and stuck with the basic system. Then a roommate and friend of mine got a word processor. It was amazing! One could type on a computer monitor (and could correct on the screen), inish a paper, and then print it out at the end. (I’m sure younger readers are laughing at this, kind of the equivalent of us adults listening to an ancient person extolling the wonders of the telegraph, but this new machine was quite remarkable at the time.)

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High school kids of the time, were required to take a typing class. I got solid “B’s”—I did very well on the written quizzes and tests (the “theory" of typing), but did very poorly on the speed typing exercises. We were timed to see how many words per minute you could get, with up to ive mistakes allowed. An “A” for like 60 or 70 words per minute, B for 50 to 60, and so on down. I barely scraped by with “D’s” due to my glacial 30-35 words per minute. The class did help—I went from horri ically slow, hunt/pecking, two inger typing, to just slow, but real, ten inger typing.

A few years later, I broke down and got a laptop, and things advanced even more. Microsoft Word made writing even easier. The computer checked spelling could store more stories than one could write in several lifetimes, and printed it up in easy-to-read type. Also, starting out slowly at irst, but gradually increasingly, magazines and publishers began to accept stories sent to them via computer email. No more buying reams of paper to print out copies of your novel, and no more expensive trips to the post of ice to purchase stamps, for both the outgoing package and the return postage. Plus the waiting period to hear back about submissions dropped drastically, as well. Around the same time, magazines and publishers changed. Many of them updated and upgraded and became online magazines and publishers, which were quicker to deal with, more readily available, and cheaper for readers. Which, essentially, is where we are today. I’m on my 4th laptop, and my Word program is a later edition, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same. Except in one major way. I still can’t write on the computer. That is, I have to write out everything with pen and paper, and then type that into the computer (even emails, unless they’re very short). I know this is stupid and wasteful, but I just can’t do it any other way. It does have one small advantage—when I type the paper rough draft in, it serves as an editing phase, and I can ix some of the mistakes I see.


But it’s still a pain—novels take 3-6 months to create, and then another 3-6 months to type in. You’d think with all the practice I’ve gotten in over the years, my speed would have advanced. Even a little bit. Nope. I haven’t timed it, but my impression is that I’m slightly faster—probably 35-40 words per minute. But, at the same time, I don’t know how old time, pre word processor/computer authors did it. The thought of typing a novel length manuscript, using a manual typewriter, with and without Liquid Paper to help you with inevitable mistakes—I don’t think many of us would have had the patience. I’m sure some of the bygone era authors wrote with pencil and paper, and possibly paid a professional secretary to type it, but that would require a bare minimum of legible handwriting, which some, like myself, don’t possess. And, to slow down enough to render my chicken-scratch readable would similarly probably cause me to go mad.

computer knowledge or savvy—if computer expertise was an educational system, I’d be in preschool school. A remedial one. Whenever I have computer problems, aside from cursing and childish tantrums, my only recourse is to bother friends for help, which is made even worse by my usual inability to adequately describe the issue, or explain what I did wrong. I’m sure many of my friends and family dread getting those kinds of emails from me—“Oh great,

It’s funny, too—my elderly parents are even worse (they sent their irst email, by themselves with no help, in about 2012). They ask even more obvious computer questions than I do, and sometimes refer to me as computer literate. I always laugh bitterly at this, and don’t hesitate to correct them, saying it’s like the blind leading the blind. I can only assume these problems will become magni ied as those of us non-tech savvy fold get older, and even more curmudgeonly. I’d like to say I’ll turn over a new leaf at some point and learn the new tech, but history has clearly demonstrated that this would be a lie. I’m thinking of trading in my abacus for one of those newfangled adding machines.

There’s another downside with the computer. I have almost no

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what incredibly obvious computer question does he need an answer to now?” You might think I’m exaggerating for effect, so I’ll give an example. I just learned, a few weeks ago, that you can save photos/images to your own computer by right clicking. Or, shifting back to phones, I sent my irst text message in late 2020. Really. And even that was because I had to, for a job.


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So You Want To Write a Book? You Decided to Write! YAY! Exciting! You can’t wait! I can’t wait! We all can’t wait! It’s going to be the next Great American Novel. Or a novella. Or a short story. Or flash fiction. Whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be amazing.

And then the moment arrives. Your ingers are poised above the keyboard, ready to strike and bring your vision to life and then…crickets. A void. A silence so profound you might be in a sensory deprivation tank. The page is diabolically blank. Your mind, generally so useful and nimble, is also a blank. Your ingers remain hanging in the air. A strange feeling that is some combination of annoyance and frustration sprinkled with a soupçon of anxiety has crept over you. The thing that was going to be exciting and fun is inexplicably…not.

Through the fog of disappointment, you suddenly hear a metaphorical ding, ding, ding. You realize what the problem is. You must delay. After lunch would be a better time to start writing because that ham sandwich is going to set your ideas on ire! Or tomorrow might be even more ideal. Or maybe next week or on your next vacation, or when the kids go to elementary school, or better yet, when they graduate from college, or maybe wait until you’re retired and you have all that free time… and now somebody is speaking at your funeral. “We never did ind out why Phyllis didn’t write her book.”

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But how can that be? You love you and always try to do the best for you. You’re your own best friend. Why would you turn against you? The villain is part of your brain. It is the part that feeds on your will to live. It’s your reptilian brain. The parts of your brain can roughly be put into three buckets. (FYI - If you are a neuroscientist, hold on to your hat because I have simpli ied things into buckets and will very predictably not ever be published in the Journal of Neuroscience.) 1. the neocortex. This is the part that can lead the charge in writing a book. 2. The limbic. This is the part that feels passionate about writing that book. And then, 3. The reptilian brain, creeping along and wrecking your plans. These three brains of yours all work together. But in the case of writing a book, it is the reptile that’s holding you up. It’s got you in its jaws and it’s dragging you away from your book. But why? What does the reptile have against my book? This part of your brain has one goal and one only—to keep you alive. That is an extremely nice and helpful thing to do. It also helps you with mundane tasks. Did you drive to work but can’t really remember the drive? Guess who drove you! So, kudos to you, reptile. However, we all have our weaknesses—the reptilian part of your brain is absolutely wretched at assessing threat levels. What is happening to you? Why is it happening to you? There are so many free resources about the craft of writing available. There are books, there are forums, there are online groups. There is probably a group that meets in-person somewhere near you. Anything and everything you could possibly want to know about the craft is within reach. You might have already read a stack of books. Maybe you can talk about writing like you’re an adjunct professor teaching a class. And yet, you cannot get started writing that book you are determined to write. Is it that there are so many elements to writing iction and you’re having a hard time putting them together? No, that can’t be it. You can’t have a hard time putting all the elements together when all you’ve got is a blank page and no elements yet. Should you feel bad that this blank page insists on staying blank like it’s a job? Is it a personal failure? No. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for what is happening here. There is a villain messing with you, and the villain is in you.

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This is why people often feel like public speaking is akin to a shark attack, or a irst date feels like you might be coming down with a norovirus, or why getting an unexpected email to go see the boss feels like somebody just punched in the nuclear codes. Your reptile is shouting at the top of its creepy little lungs—Are we going to die? It seems like we might die! We’re de initely going to die! It goes on high alert when it cannot predict the outcome. When something is new, it cannot predict whether you will live or die in the attempt. The reptile’s motto is: Better safe than dead. Trying something new was not so much of a problem when you were a kid. You were being bombarded with new things, you often didn’t have a choice about what was coming at you, it was the norm to make a lot of mistakes, and you had the commonsense of a peanut. But now, you have had life experiences and your ability to ‘see around corners’ is at it’s peak. So much of what you do now you have done a hundred times before. You are aware of your own mortality. The reptilian part of your brain applauds your routines! Habits are appreciated. Let’s keep doing what we’ve always done. This part of your brain does


but time is always indable if you want to ind it bad enough. 3. They say they have writer’s block. Yes, they do. They are just calling it the wrong thing. They have reptilian block.

not like surprises and inds anything new to be alarmingly surprising. On top of failing to appreciate anything new and unknown, the reptile goes on even higher alert when this new thing is creative because this new thing involves sharing you with the world. Writing your book is new, and it is creative. It can send the reptilian brain into a panicked tailspin. It becomes an army of Daleks shouting “Exterminate! Exterminate!” (If you aren’t a Dr. Who fan, the Daleks are wackadoodle robots who want to exterminate everything and everybody and, also, I’m wondering why you are not a Dr. Who fan.) Is that what’s happening to you? Are you being stopped by the Daleks through no fault of your own?

happened to stop them, they would probably point to 1. The lack of an idea. That is not it. Ideas are everywhere. The more ideas you come up with, the more ideas those irst ideas will generate. After a while, you will have more ideas than you could possibly write in your lifetime. Also, there are plot generators on the internet. 2. Lack of time. No, that’s not it either. Yes, your schedule may be a herculean juggle of people and tasks, but if you look closely at it, you will notice that you’ve somehow made room for Net lix, or tennis, or anything else you really like to do. You may have to give something up to ind the time,

Though the blame for this failure to write that book falls on the reptile, the reptile will never admit to it. It has disguised itself with logical-sounding reasons why this new activity you want to engage in should be delayed. (It actually prefers ‘let’s never do this’ but it seems to understand that you would not be happy with that, so it simply says, ‘Sure, buddy, but later.’) So, how can you test the theory that your reptilian brain is stopping you? It’s actually pretty simple. You decided to begin your masterpiece on Tuesday at 10 am. Then, on Tuesday at 10 am you are inexplicably cleaning out the refrigerator, or realizing that laundry isn’t going to wash itself, or combing through your closet for things to be donated. This is the reptilian brain helpfully redirecting you to known and safe activities. It is crafty. You will feel that your neocortex made the decision to put off writing for another day and you will be wrong. Your reptilian brain will be rather

Probably, since it’s what happens to most people. From various surveys, 81% of Americans think they have a book in them (I agree—they do!), but only 15% actually start one, a mere 6% manage to get even halfway through and a pitiable 3% get to type The End. If you were to ask people who wanted to write a book what

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How to subdue this reptile that is interfering with what you really want to do? The irst step is knowing that it’s happening to you. Awareness is always a step forward. Then, try different strategies and see what sticks. Try sitting through its sly machinations. If you decided you will write on Tuesday between 10 and 11, then sit at the computer and give yourself only two options—write something or stare at the wall. No emails, no Facebook, no daydreaming of what scathing bon mot you could have uttered at the car mechanic’s when you realized you were overcharged. It’s going to be one hour of writing or thinking about your story or nothing. The reptile will eventually surrender to your will. Move ahead without its cooperation. A great way to do this is just take a book you like and start typing it out. This accomplishes two things: you are writing well (though it’s not your story) and you are teaching your reptilian brain that this will not kill you. Remind yourself that whatever your irst words on the page are, they will likely be tragic, and not in a good way. Writing is revising. First drafts are not meant to be good. You are not creating the statue. You are only creating the clay you can shape over time. Remember that you have a delete button and passwords. Nobody need ever in the history of the world see what you wrote. Unless you change your mind later. If you haven’t already told people you were going to write a book – DON’T. It’s too much pressure to

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joyful at this turn of events, though. It has kept you alive and that is its raison d' tre.

have a blank page staring back at you and then your friend Marge keeps saying things like, “Wow, it’s been a year, you must be almost done, right?” Do a little self-talk. Have your neocortex assess the threat and overrule the reptile. What will happen if I write something and it is terrible? Nothing. How can I ever hope to be as good a writer as those I admire? You can’t this very minute. Those writers were crap when they started too because absolutely everything has a learning curve. But wait, I am so good at writing business memos and non iction articles. Why isn’t iction as easy? Because they are apples and oranges. It would be similar to being a good golfer and then assuming if you picked up a tennis racket you would be ready for Wimbledon. It’s okay. You can do this. Everybody started where you are now. And most of all, assure your reptile that you won’t both die in a iery crash at the keyboard. Remind yourself that your neocortex and limbic system already intuitively understand story. When you tell a friend about something you heard from another person at the grocery store, you don’t start the story with how long you looked for a parking space. Your brain did the editing for you without you having to think about it. Try exercises, particularly with ‘show, don’t tell.’ Write out a list of ‘tells’ and turn them into ‘shows.’ Tell: Mary was so frustrated over not writing. Show: Mary stared into the aqua water of the pool as her laptop gently drifted to the bottom. Try freewriting. Write anything, write nonsense, but keep your ingers moving on the keys. This will often lead you to something, to an idea you can run with.


Remember that writing is fun! (When you slay the reptile, it really is fun.) Block out writing time for when you are doing something that is inherently boring, like sitting for an hour in a doctor’s waiting room. Or go somewhere there is nothing else to do, like taking your laptop to a park. Use car-time. Have a long commute? Turn off the radio and think about something you might want to write – one idea often leads to another. Remind yourself that inspiration arrives late to every party. Miss Muse will stroll in after you’ve started writing. But don’t worry, she will show up eventually. Do not get alarmed if you start writing (YAY, you started!) and then you get stuck somewhere. This always happens. A typical problem would be that you have a premise, a beginning, but not a whole plot. Or maybe you’ve come to a scene you don’t feel like writing. Or you are getting depressed because you think it’s terrible. Keep going. Whatever the problem, you can get past it. Figure out if you are a pantser and need to write your way into a story, or if you’re a plotter who needs everything mapped out with an outline. Proceed accordingly.

Look into NaNoWriMo. It can be fun to join in with a lot of other people who want to do what you want to do. It can be fun to set a ridiculously ambitious goal. Read The War of Art by Steven Press ield. His concepts of resistance are another way to understand what’s getting in your way. Remember that 90% of writing is managing your reptile. (Okay I totally made that percentage up, but whatever it is, it’s a lot.) Math can be inspiring! What if you wrote for just a ½ hour each day? That would add up to 3 ½ hours a week or 180 hours a year. If you can write 200 words in a ½ hour, then in a year you would have 72,800 words. That’s a decent sized novel right there. When you see your friend who has unfailingly inquired into how it’s going, you can inally say, “Thank you for asking, Marge.” But mostly, think a lot about writing and make it a priority, even though your reptile is reminding you about the laundry. Give yourself a schedule, even if it’s only a half hour. Think of these strategies as exposure therapy for writers. There may be other ideas that work for you. Experiment! Your reptile may not thank you, but your soul will.

Remind yourself that inertia is a real thing. It takes a mental push to get the boulder rolling downhill. Partner up in-person or online and do writing sprints —focused and timed writing.

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Zia Westfield

Writers need a lot of space for all the characters who take up residence in their heads. I’m Zia West ield. My job as a writer is iguring out which of those characters has a compelling story to be told. Since a dead body is often involved in whatever I’m thinking, romantic suspense is where I’ve lexed most of my writing muscle. I’ve also had fun with paranormal romance where my love of quirky characters can be on full display. See my tipsy leprechaun or my talking misgendered duck. Lately, I’ve moved into historical romance. This is new ground for me, so I’m working on establishing my voice and style in this vibrant genre. I’ve been writing seriously since my youngest son was born, some 21 years ago. But like all writers, my story starts well before that—in the second grade, in fact, when I discovered mysteries. Honestly, if it had a good story, I was hooked. From Shakespeare to African-American lit to Spanish playwrights in my Spanish class, I read and read. As far as I was concerned, authors were magical beings, and I could never aspire to join that club. That sentiment was tested when I went to Japan after college. English books were at a premium and not easy to get. I reread the few I owned and created my personal versions of how the characters lived on. When I returned to

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Japan after grad school, I brought one suitcase full of books. I wasn’t taking chances. Since my husband had his obsession over manga he’d collected over the years, he understood my need. Then my husband was transferred to London. Suddenly, I was surrounded by the historic buildings and place names that I’d only read about in Regency novels. Talk about the swoon factor! We lived within walking distance of Regent’s Park and half a block from Abbey Road Studios. Okay, that’s a different century of history, but history is everywhere in England. The possibility of writing nudged me. It seemed ambitious as I’d given birth recently to my irst son. Still with baby in tow, I attended a luncheon in which Philippa Gregory was the featured guest, and a talk by Inspector Morse mystery author, Colin Dexter (with papa babysitting). Maybe, I could do it. It wasn’t until we were back in Japan and son number three came along that I began to shift from reader to writer. It wasn’t easy inding time and there were plenty of rejections along the way. I joined with another writer, and we collaborated on several paranormal romance suspense stories under the name Gabriella Hewitt. When my partner decided to move on, I kept writing. I contracted Killer Secrets and I haven’t looked back. Although my sons are grown, my job as a professor is busier. Being creative after hours in the classroom is a challenge. But those characters in my head won’t be silenced for long. Eventually, they want their story told and I’m here to do it.

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Sometimes it seems everywhere you look these days, things are being changed, updated, or improved. There are new versions of a variety of products, new packaging that confuses the heck out of us at the supermarket, or new colors for the same old things, also puzzling consumers. Wasn’t that shampoo blue yesterday? Now it’s purple?

New and Improved? This trend extends to foods, of course. New ingredients to your favorite snacks, take something out and replace it with something new. But, of course, we’re assured it will still taste as good, if not better, than the original. They add an extra layer of cheese to the nachos, just to tease our taste buds. The McRib Sandwich returns just to remind us all what McDonald’s is capable of. When it comes to movies? Well, that’s another matter altogether, and one near and dear to my heart. Many of my favorites now come with one or two deleted scenes, or a few minutes of missing dialogue, and are now called “The Director’s Cut”. Of course, you watch it, eagerly awaiting the exciting new developments that never made it to the original. Most often they’re so tiny you don’t realize you saw them, so it didn’t matter. Once in a while, there are

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By: S.L. Carpenter


We haven’t even gotten to the dreaded remakes of movies, where someone thinks it’s a brilliant idea to make the same movie, but with a different cast. To my mind, a classic is a classic for a reason. Yes, I have seen some remakes where the story has been updated, and it isn’t all bad. But overall, we’re always going to have a soft spot for the original actor. I mean there is only ONE Forrest Gump for a reason. And if anyone tries to remake the original "Star Wars" trilogy, well that would start a revolution, and I’ll be on the front lines with my trusty light saber at the ready. The reason all this came to my mind is, I have been updating a lot of book covers for writers recently. This doesn’t mean they’re rewriting their books, the original cover is getting a bit dated and they want a more modern look for today’s reader. Can you believe it was around 35 years ago that Fabio appeared on his irst cover? (The novel was “Hearts A lame” by Johanna Lindsey.) It’s easy to see, over the years, readers’ tastes have changed, and the covers have also changed to match the times. Today’s cover model looks a lot different now. The long lowing hair, sometimes blowing in the breeze, or the sheen of moisture across his hairless, muscular chest doesn’t really catch readers’ eyes today as much as it did when those handsome gentlemen burst onto the scene, inviting Romance fans to imagine themselves standing next to them. (And trying to avoid that blowing hair.) We’ve come a long way since then. Take a look at an assortment of covers and you’ll see that almost every man has beard stubble, some have hairy chests and arms, and the muscles rippling over these guys look like they came from hours in the gym, rather than chemicals. Not saying the older look is better or worse, but the standards for looks change over time. It’s not a bad idea to get a cover refreshed. All this got me thinking. Do readers like revised books? Will it inspire them to give it another read and catch the changes or updates? I went through a couple of my old books and caught things that made me cringe. Like a person listening to a Walkman. Oh, the horror. The pop culture references were downright brutal, so sometimes it’s a very good idea to review old books, just to make sure things are understandable to today’s readers. I know what a Walkman is, but do they? There’s also another reason I like re-reading my old stories, not only to ix things that were bad, but over time, I forget a lot of what I wrote, and coming back to it with a fresh eye gives me chance to add some much-needed dialogue to clarify things, or brush up a few plot points. All good for readers.

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additions that really do add to the storyline of the movie ("Blade Runner", folks!). But most often, not.


“ On a very related side note, editors don’t get as much credit as they deserve. Without them, readers would probably be lost in a story, and not in a good way. There would be little continuity, a hero whose hair color changes halfway through the book, and I won’t even mention the dreaded mole switching from one cheek to the other. Trust me, my editors deal with enough point-of-view head hopping to make them resemble those bobbleheads on the dash of your car. [*givingsquintyeyetoScott*--ed.] But, I’m babbling on again, where was I? Oh, yes. Revisions and updates. As I was saying, revising older stories has another effect as well. New readers can pick up these older books and ind they now have a chance to see where a writer had started. Friends of mine who read Nora Roberts books say it’s interesting to see how her style has changed over the years. With the amount of books that have been released over time, there are a lot from publishers that have gone out of print and are no longer available. Updating the cover and aspects of an old story can energize those books. And there’s always the writer who has now decided to revisit a world, or characters, they forgot about. Being able to publish independently has really opened a lot of new paths for authors to share their work with readers. I think I decided to write my thoughts about this whole

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updating/revising trend because I have been seeing more of my favorite authors hoping to share their past with the new generation of readers out there. For my part? I think it’s awesome. I hope you do, too.


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Claim Your Rightful Place O Re der’s Bookshelves

My journey into the independent publishing industry was a bit of a uke. I’d been a graphic designer for nearly a decade when an opportunity fell into my lap. So, I took it. The rst manuscript I formatted was a very spicy erotic romance. I’ve always been a reader. I used to get grounded for reading past my bedtime. I regularly fell asleep with a book in my hand and packed an extra travel bag so I could carry many books I would read on my trip. Avid readers will, no doubt, relate. I cannot imagine my world without books. The achievement I’m most proud of is instilling a love of reading in my niece and nephew. Books have consistently expanded my world, my values, and my mindset. What escaped my notice so many years ago, was the absence of so many voices that have so much more to contribute. A series of gatekeepers run traditional publishing. Very few books make it through. You

might go through agents, acquisition editors, marketing teams, and more. For the most part, a book should cover a popular topic or genre, be marketable, and avoid controversy. Traditional publishing is an expensive endeavor, and publishers want an exponential return on their investment. The vast teams that make up traditional publishing all need to get their cut for the work they have contributed, and so, as the author, you might receive 10-15% of royalties. For some authors, traditional publishing is unequivocally the right path. For authors who write on controversial topics, have written a story that’s not currently in vogue, or have a

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By: Tamara Cribley

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And that is a double-edged sword. Unless you leverage editors, enlist beta readers, and build a committed team to provide candid and honest feedback, your book may not stand up to readers' expectations. That can have some real consequences, both inancially, and to your writing reputation. The self-publishing industry has made great strides in the last 10 years. Because of the ease, affordability, and lack of gatekeepers, the early market was looded with books that often were irst or second drafts, unedited, unformatted, and raw in nearly every way. That didn’t mean they were unworthy or didn’t have potential, but their un inished state often left readers dissatis ied. Self-publishing earned a poor reputation among writers and

readers who expected professional-quality books. It’s a reputation which still exists in a few circles, and is challenging to overcome. Although things have improved immensely in the past few years, if you’re an independent author, you’ll no doubt still hear people talk about how they won’t read selfpublished books. There’s a stigma. What I have found in these conversations is that most people are talking about the quality of those early-days books. The quality and professionalism modern independent authors put into their books elevate them to a different class, one the naysayers don’t recognize as self-published. I often tout the freedom of independent publishing: to insist on your vision and write your passion, even if it’s not popular. Take risks. Be bold. Break rules. Challenge the industry. But at what cost? I passionately believe in all these things. The voices of independent authors enrich our world. How can we ensure readers hear those voices? Do rule-breaking and risktaking make a book unappealing or dif icult to read? Sometimes.

Would you compromise your vision to make your voice heard? Which compromises are you willing to make? We have total control. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the vision or the intent, to make your book personal and uniquely yours, to dictate every piece, from cover to cover. Remember, while we may not always write to be read, when we publish, we expect to be read. The reader experience is paramount to your success. If there are too many typos, your font size is too small or dif icult to read, or the formatting is confusing, you’ve pulled your reader away from what’s most important; the story or message you’re sharing. Like any distraction, poorly produced books dilute a positive reader experience. If there are enough distractions, your readers might walk away, never to return. The worst-case scenario is negative reviews. All the time and resources you have invested might be for naught. As you prepare your book for publication, consider your readers. How will your decisions impact their experience? Let’s review some common mistakes.

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very niche audience, selfpublishing can be the path that gives your voice a presence in this chaotic world. As an independent author, you make all the decisions. You decide your investment and resources. You are responsible for publishing, marketing, and maybe even orders and ful illment. There are no gatekeepers.


Cover Art: Your cover should be a taste of what’s to come. Just a nibble. It’s easy to want to make the cover a visual representation of the whole story. A welldesigned cover is intriguing. It should entice a reader to pick up your book or click on the thumbnail to get the rest of the story. It should also set expectations. A stark, high-contract cover doesn’t say Rom-Com, and appeals to a completely different audience.

implemented hyphenation settings eliminate distracting or awkward spacing on a page.

Editing: While traditional books from major publishing houses often have a typo or two, abundant or egregious errors are distracting. Readers are usually happy to overlook a few mistakes, but regular disruptions can cause them to abandon a book altogether. Typos aren’t the only problem. Incongruity also creates confusion and distraction.

The reality is that most readers won’t notice the tiny details. If your book is well-edited, cleanly formatted, and meets the reader’s content expectations, they can focus, without distraction, on what’s most important; your story or message.

Formatting: Many studies have been done to determine ideal reading conditions. Poor typesetting makes it challenging for the reader’s eye to follow a line across a page. Consider your audience when you format your book. Young readers and readers with poor vision often need larger font sizes. The ideal length of a line of text in any book is between 40 and 75 characters. Very narrow margins make it challenging to travel from one line to the next, as does wide leading (line spacing). One should use either paragraph indenting or spacing, but not both. Paragraph spacing is rarely found outside of non- iction. Use hyphenation. Well-

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Whether you tackle these tasks yourself or hire them out, use the reader experience as your inal gauge. How will your decisions impact readers? Who on your team will give you candid feedback? It’s easy to get caught up in the nitpicky details, like the color of your cover or the perfect font for chapter titles.

Give your voice its best chance to be heard. Invest the necessary time and resources into professionally publishing your book. Understand how your choices will impact the reader experience and take your rightful place on reader bookshelves. You’re invited to join the Professional Indie Publishing Roundtable. If you’d like to be part of the conversation with industry pros and other independent authors, join me on the second Sunday of each month for a virtual meeting. Be part of the conversation, ask questions, and share your experiences, challenges, and successes. Visit www.DeliberatePage.com/ Roundtable to sign up for meeting access details and information.


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***After a brutal, yet unseen, attack on Yana that nearly killed her, she decided to just sleep it off and go to work on time, to the shock and consternation of Ebbe, Donal, and Kit. Kit does not know what to make of being able to see and hear Donal and Ebbe, yet Yana cannot, and none know why Yana can only feel what is happening, but not see, when she saw the ames weeks back.***

In stunned silence, they left Yana sleeping despite all that had ripped her apart, and walked into the living area. Knowing she was aware of much not typically allotted to Mortals, Kit remained quiet, and sat in a darkened corner. According to the books of the Oracles and Teachers, Ebbe’s wrath was not something to tempt. A sideways glance around showed Emme was not present. Kit wasn’t sure if that was a good thing, or not.

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“Donal, you must stop swearing at your shelf. It will not do more than it’s allowed, no matter how creative your curses are,” Ebbe said, pulling up his pad and shelf, seemingly searching randomly. A stream of ancient obscenities, muttered under the breath but still audible, wafted into Ebbe’s ear. “I am fairly certain I said something about your colorful vocabulary, did I not?” Ebbe said.


With a shrug, he added, “I thought I should check my weapon calling too, and ive are gone.” He looked pointedly at Ebbe. “You know I keep close track of my weapons, and how fast I can call them, even if Emme is always after me about my shelf organization.” “Or lack thereof,” Ebbe countered. Motioning toward Donal, the shelf was loated over to him. Doing a quick inventory, he answered, “It looks as if your outburst in the Concilium has cost you dearly.” He frowned. “While that’s not out of the ordinary, they have removed some elements and mixes I made for you speci ically. They should not have been able to touch those.” He held his hand up to stop Donal’s rightfully angry retort. “I will speak to them. It’s most likely an oversight by an overzealous lower god with something to prove to a higher god.”

“Your Cycle companion just left, were you looking for her?” The “voice” of the gods asked. Though arti icial, Ebbe swore he heard a sneer in the question. “Ahili,” Ebbe said shortly, “not a simple companion. And where she is, is none of your concern.” He was growing impatient with having the voice speak irst, more so since the revelation was not part of the Concilium’s consciousness, but an arti icial creation. “How dare you...” the voice began. “Keep your words to yourself before you ind yourself in pieces,” Ebbe bit out. “Is that any way to show respect to us?” a goddess asked. Ebbe watched as she walked up the dais and sat down. Most of the Concilium was not present.

Kit was doing her best to remember what she was overhearing, so she could tell Yana later, but... no writings and no Oracles or Teachers had ever mentioned shelves or weapons or a... Concilium? Waving Donal to sit across from Kit, Ebbe said. “You two... Donal, practice and try to igure out why you could touch Yana previously, but cannot now. That is not something any god or goddess can take away. All in Deisos, or the Hereafter, can touch any Mortal, should they so choose. You are to wait here until I return from the Concilium.” He paused. “If Yana does “Rachel’s veins constricted into thin lines. choose to go into work, Kit, go as normal, but try to Pure keep close. Donal, up your guardians to surround terror froze herset limbs. The creature huffed. Slowly, them both. Something... is occurring.” kneeled. Based on odd dominance and submission, animals

How dare you...” the voice began. “Keep your words to yourself before you nd yourself in pieces,” Ebbe bit out.

she showed

subjugation to the a pack. She bowed herodds. head. Garrett mimicked Better “Perhaps not,” Ebbe said,her his tone did not Without a look back, andstrongest a lick of a in inger, a portal movements. a eeting glance, gripped the“Iweapon in one hand. match the words. came to ask, directly, why so opened and EbbeWith disappeared through it. she saw he still much of Donal’s element shelf was taken, If Mary could communicate theother. creature, maybe she could too. “We need yourincluding help.” Kit and Donal simply sat and staredwith at each elements and mixes bestowed by Emme directly, and Harry’s humongous* feet then touched the top of her head, * * * shuf ed closer. He grunted, since when does the Concilium retract weapons after tapping twice and grunting again. one has shown mastery?” Stepping out of the portal, a breath outside the Slowly, she raised her gaze and swallowed thickly. Its language was indistinguishable. A eternally tall and intimidating Concilium doors, Ebbe The goddess did not immediately answer, and Ebbe series his of note grunts and low growls. The ashlight she’d dropped, splayed light his Sitting inished to Emme. Pinching his ingers saw his person being sized up... foracross something. hairy toes and illuminated a few square feet of coarse ground. As she raised her head, she together, he sent it through their personal back slightly in her chair, all she said was, “It will be spied his thick muscled legs. Terri ed, asupon well,a her traveled up his communication element mix. He did not trust hisbut awestruck returned showgaze of true penitence.” observations would be taken wellhis if others thighs to his belly, across torsoread to itrm pectorals. She kept going until she met his dark “Excuse me?” Ebbe spat before he could catch the irst. Shifting his head to side slightly, an old Mortal brown eyes in a face caught in transition between human and ape. Leather like dark skin words. habit, no longer needed, toand release stress, he steeled covered his features a low jutting brow exed as he looked down at her. Thick ngers She forward. heard me, Cycle God. His himself through theindoors. similarand towalked an ape, ended sharp nails. He tapped onsather head “You again. disobedience was above the pale, therefore, his “What’s he doing?” Garrett whispered.

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“Some of my elements are missing, as are several of my weapons,” Donal bit back. A raised eyebrow was the only response. With a sigh, and swallowing his anger, he continued. “I saw what you were doing, realized I stumbled across something similar not long ago, and went to pull up the elements I used then. And half of the ones I needed are missing from my shelf.”


punishment remains. As is allowed by the Laws of Progression.”

confront those responsible.” She stopped short, folding her arms. Waiting.

Ebbe exploded. “Show me where, in any Law given me pertaining to my Cycle, in which you can remove My gifts from any within My lineage?”

The statement sank like a mountain dropping into the deep.

“I will do no such thing! You are not high enough to even make that request, pleasantly, let alone screaming about it,” she answered, her words melting in disdain.

She shook her head, still refusing to speak. As mistimed a thought it was, Donal was right, when angered, the sparks emanating from Emme’s person matched the ire of her hair.

“Not high enough?!” Ebbe thundered. “Not high enough to see the Laws about MY Cycle...” Mid-word, he found himself yanked sideways, his shoulder nearly removing from his bonecage.

“Get that smirk off your face about my unfortunate coloring issues,” she chided.

Stumbling over upturned roots and loose dirt, he

She snorted, “That’s only because they fear you for your size so none really look at your face, everything is written there, if they dared look.”

found himself in his private gardens. “How did this happen?” he muttered to himself, kicking at the debris. “Really, that is what is irst out of your mouth?” Emme scolded. She held her hand up to halt whatever rationale was going to come out. “I made the mess.” Ebbe stopped kicking, slowly turning toward her. After a pause, “I take it you went before the Concilium for some purpose related to Donal, or Yana, and it went well.” “Sarcasm does not suit this purpose, though it’s accurate.” Taking a deep breath, she continued, “I heard the commotion and screams related to Yana’s attack, and I discovered the real source. I went to

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“The Concilium?”

“I am always amazed at what you can read on me, when no one else can,” he remarked. She snorted, “That’s only because they fear you for your size so none really look at your face. Everything is written there, if they dared look.” “Not the entire Concilium, but one, or a small contingent,” Ebbe answered her unspoken question. She nodded. “And you know which?” Silence. “Ah. Interesting. Did you get my message?” “I did, but all elements are suspect. I am glad you remembered the code from our Mortal lives and used that, but still, that in and of itself is easy to ind.” “True, but if all are suspect, we don’t have many options,” he said, pulling forth his shelf and pad. Flicking a few items into oblivion, he spoke an ancient word she didn’t know, and a handful of new elements settled into place on the shelf. Tapping the pad, he nodded. “The Concilium took weapons from Donal, and several elements and mixes you made speci ically for him.” It was his turn to hold up his hand before she could explode. “That is why I was in the Chambers, arguing, when you yanked me here. They expect true penitence from him for the return of his items, and refused to answer where and what Laws allowed any to do this inside our Cycle. If any can do this and not get caught by the Laws and punished, we are in danger, not just Yana or Donal.” As he had been talking, Emme was calling a portal. Both stepped through, darkness swirling behind them. **** “...and as it happens, like clicks on our time pieces, the two moons’ pull will be at their height from midday through midnight. Be careful in the deep waters and on the shore.” Yana never had been able to understand why there were so many dumb Mortals on the planet, that the announcers always felt a need to remind the world of


routine natural dangers. Trying to not be obvious about the pain in her sides, she tenderly leaned to each side, testing and stretching their limits. The ribs in her bonecage protested, three sharp stabs across them made her stop trying. Glancing at her timepiece, she stood cautiously, grabbed her bag, and headed outside to hope that the light would make her aching form feel better while she ate. Finding a nice spot, she sat. “You know, Kit, I do realize I shouldn’t be exasperated that you’re coming to check on me, but I don’t know what’s going on, and I really just want to go back to normal, be my boring-no-one-lives-at-home-anymore self.” Kit nervously sat next to her, digging out a weird looking green... something... and began to chew, it. Noticing Yana’s face, she said, “This is only during midday. It’s as icky as it looks, but I did a lot of mixing of balms to come up with what worked.” Looking at Yana’s meat and dairy, she added, “I could go through the books for you and make a blend for you.” “Uh, no thanks. Knowing my luck it will look and taste worse, besides, aren’t balms supposed to be used on the outside, not eaten?” Yana asked with a smirk. Kit looked at the goop, in surprise, and was about to answer, but Yana noticed her sitting up straighter, trying in vain to hide it. “What?” Yana asked, taking a quick glance around and seeing nothing. “They’re. Here.” Kit hissed, eyes wide. “Both of them. Ebbe AND Emme,” Kit whispered low enough that Yana almost missed it.

he looked like, he could very well be telling the truth,” Yana answered. Donal’s grin couldn’t be seen by her, but he hoped she could sense it. “Even in this form, she’s brilliant.” “Don’t be smug,” Emme cautioned. “Who she has become here had nothing to do with your direct actions in her life.” “Maybe not, but it means she listened and read enough to understand and believe,” Donal began. “There are more important things to discuss at the moment,” Ebbe broke in. He paused, waiting indulgently as Kit scrambled to tell Yana who had said what. He continued once she’d taken a deep breath. “There are... issues... which need resolving, and Yana

“They’re. Here.” Kit hissed, eyes wide. “Both of them. Ebbe AND Emme,” Kit whispered low enough, Yana almost missed it.

Yana did not see anyone anywhere close by. Kit looked left, “Oh, and that other one.” Donal sighed, “My name is Donal.” Kit repeated his words. “Huh. That’s an interesting name. It’s the same as the Oracle who lived just as this age began,” Yana said absentmindedly. “What do you mean, that was you?” Kit said, somehow sitting up straighter. “Being dishonest, even when you’re dead, carries consequences.”

will need to assist us. If one looks closely, inside the books which still exist, of all the ages of Oracles and Teachers, there are hints about a being coming into power and existence, one who sets all of the Path straight,” he paused again, letting Kit catch up. “What’s wrong on the Path?” Yana and Kit asked simultaneously.

Yana was wiping her hands off, but decided to mention, “The beginning of the age had no images because that wasn’t a widespread practice in the poorer, outside the city areas.”

Ebbe hesitated a breath long enough for Emme to step in, “We don’t know, but the lames in your hand when you went to The Sites was the marker spoken of since before the Path began.”

“So?” Kit asked.“So, how do you know that who you are seeing is not the same male? We don’t know what

“But, I’m Mortal,” Yana protested, numb to implications she didn’t quite believe. One odd occurrence shouldn’t mean so much, should it?

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“Yes, to be honest, it never occurred to any of us, that such an... obligation and power was at all possible for a Mortal,” Emme answered. Kit was tripping over her words. This was immense. She looked at Yana, who was gathering her wrappings and shoving them into her bag. “I need to get back to work,” Yana said, not looking up. “But...” everyone said in staggered tones. She looked at Kit, then vaguely around. “Even if this is true, and I have a lot of doubts about the signi icance of one weird event, I have a job. I have to pay for things, I have to live a Mortal life because it’s not like I have unlimited accounts.” She didn’t look back, opened the door to the of ices and went in. After a pause, Donal quipped, “Well, that went well, didn’t it?” earning a glare from Ebbe, an exasperated sigh from Emme, and a wide eyed question from Kit. With a shrug and a nod that brought his army forward, he followed Yana in. “It’s got to get better than this,” he muttered to himself.

Glossery of Names and Terms

Alil–AH leel (husband) Alili–AH leelee (wife) Concilium–cohn SIL eeyum (a council of high gods/goddesses who guide others on the Path of Progression and oversee much of the running of the Hereafter) Corrupt–the dead whose Mortal life choices and doings align them with evil and the Demons Deisos–DEE sohs (after death “paradise”) Donal–DOH nul (male protagonist) Ebbe–EH beh (Cycle God) Emme–EH mee (Cycle Goddess) Gods/Goddesses–those who were Incorrupt, then passed their various tests and trials in Deisos, allowing their ascension to godhood on the Path of Progression; god(s) is often gender neutral, as they

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are equals, but lazy, and the word is shorter to write/ say Ochuroma–O schu ROH mah (after death “hell”)Hereafter–the life continuation along the Path of Progression that occurs after Mortal existence endsIncorrupt–the dead whose Mortal life choices and doings align them with the gods/ goddessesGuardian–a guide, helper, from Deisos, who assists Mortals Oracles–Mortal version of prophets, seers who can talk to/see the Incorrupt, Guardians, DeisosTeacher(s)–Mortals spiritually and higher skilled than Oracles, rarer too, few known, can talk to/see Ebbe/Emme when allowed Yana–YAH nuh (female protagonist)


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2022

RONE Awards Winners! *Since the awards were strictly a video presentation this year, each winning author was invited to say a few words here in the magazine. The ones you see here are those who accepted our invitation.*

Contemporary: Cops, Jocks, Cowboys Anthology Winner:

Winner: Chute Boss by Sophia Summers

A Rogue to Remember by Chasity Bowlin, narrated by Alexandra Ralph

* I am so grateful for InD'tale Magazine and all they do to further good ction. Chute Boss is one of my favorite books. In this series, we highlight women recovering from all kinds of emotional trauma, as well as the honorable cowboys who run a rodeo nearby. I wrote this book to honor all war vets and, I’m thrilled that my female lead is recovering from injuries received from serving her country. Thank you for the honor of a RONE award. I will cherish it.

1st Runner-Up

Runner-Up

Clover by Nicole Kilpatrick, narrated by Cassandra Alling

Distracting the Deputy by Shanna Hat eld

Storm and Shelter by Bluestocking Belles

Audiobooks Winner:

2nd Runner-Up Fire Maidens: Greece by Anna Lowe, narrated by Kelsey Osborne

Contemporary: Steamy Winner: Read Me by Lauren Connolly *Putting my stories out in the world is always a terrifying thing. I love what I wrote, but will anyone else? Receiving the RONE Award for

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Read Me was like getting a comforting hug, telling me that I did right by Summer and Cole. I want to thank everyone who helped make Read Me into a book, especially City Owl Press, the indie publisher that took a chance on me! And thank you, InD'tale Magazine, for highlighting indie authors. You've made 2022 an awardwinning year for me, and I will always be grateful!

Runner-Up A Reckless Heart by Jennifer Wilck

Contemporary: Sweet Winner: Hometown by Wendy Rich Stetson *My deepest thanks to everyone who has supported and championed Hometown from its beginnings - nearly two decades ago, until now. I'm forever grateful to everyone at The Wild Rose Press, and particularly to my editor, Leanne Morgena, for your commitment and dedication in bringing this story to life. To the many friends who read drafts over the years, your encouragement meant the world to me. To my actual hometown of Lewisburg, PA, which inspired much of the story, your warm reception of the book has been a delight. Finally to my family, my parents, and my dear husband and daughter, your love and support made The Hearts of the Ridge Series possible. I'm so pleased and honored to accept this award, and I continue in the steadfast belief that heartwarming stories full of humor, kindness, generosity, and love can

brighten our lives even in the darkest of days. Thank you.

Runner-Up The Casserole Dish by Amey Ziegler *Thank you to the staff at InD’Tale magazine for putting together a high quality magazine and review program. Thank you to my editor Lorie Humphreys. And a HUGE thank you to my readers! We write for you! Receiving the Runner-up for The Casserole Dish in the Contemporary Sweet category has been the greatest honor in my writing career!

Fantasy Winner: The Witch Collector by Charissa Weaks

Historical Regency Winner: Exiled Duke by K.J. Jackson *Wow! First, an enormous THANK YOU to all my readers - you are the best! I know I take you to some weird, dark places at times, but you stick with me and I am grateful. Next, thanks to InD'tale for recognizing all of these fabulous books, I'm so honored to be included. Thanks to my fabulous editor, Alicia Street of iProofread and More. She's always got my back on too many mistakes that we shall never talk about. Lastly, thanks to my fellow authors nalists - you superstars are always raising the bar, and any one of you is deserving of this award (I just had the luck of the right readers at the right time on this one)!

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LGBTQIA+

1st Runner-Up Always the Second Choice by Emily EK Murdoch 2nd Runner-Up Once Upon a Devilishly Enchanting Kiss by Bree Wolf

Historical: American Winner: The Truth of the Matter by Leigh Fleming

Historical: Ancient

Winner: Cinders of Yesterday by Jen Karner *I’m tearing up a little just writing this, so know I'd absolutely be crying otherwise. Thank you so much to everyone who was involved at every stage: My early readers Jo & Cas, my partner, Riggs, who watched me try not to lose my mind, my editor, Heather McCorkle, who really believed in my story, Tina Moss, who runs my publisher, City Owl Press, and ensured everything ran as smoothly as possible. Everyone has been so supportive, and so welcoming, and I'm so glad they helped to introduce Dani & Emilie to the world. We wouldn't be here without all of you, or the amazing readers who have found me in any number of ways. I wrote this book for the people who didn't see themselves on the page, and I'm not planning on stopping anytime soon. Thank you all so, so, so, much.

Winner: The Ghost by Maeve Greyson

Mystery Winner:

Historical: Victorian-20th Century Winner: A Proper Scoundrel by Esther Hatch Runner-Up Mysterious Lover by Mary Lancaster

Lost Creek Cabin by Susan Clayton-Goldner *I am thrilled to have won the RONE award for best mystery this year. I've been a nalist 5 times, and it meant so much to me to go from bridesmaid to bride. Thanks so much to Tirgearr Publishing for taking a chance on this unknown writer, and thanks to InD'tale Magazine for providing small and independently published authors this wonderful opportunity.

Runner-Up An Embarrassment of Itches by M.K. Dean

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Paranormal: Long Winner: Craved: A Vampire Syndicate Romance by Rebecca Rivard *I’m both stunned and humbled that Craved (The Vampire Syndicate) won a RONE Award. I'd like to give a shout-out to my awesome editor, Tiffany Winters; my cover designer, Jacqueline Sweet; and all the reviewers, editors and behind-the-scene folks at InD'Tale Magazine who help make this such a meaningful award.

Rorik by Mary Morgan *Thank you, InD’tale Magazine for this RONE Award accolade! I’m honored my book, Rorik placed 1st Runner Up in the Paranormal Short category. Your support for authors and readers is phenomenal. And a huge shout-out of appreciation to all my readers. You’ve walked this amazing journey with me, and I’m forever grateful.

2nd Runner-Up Auras, Heirs, & Witchy Affairs by Sabrina A. Fish

1st Runner-Up Pints and Potions by T.M. Cromer

Science Fiction/Time Travel

2nd Runner-Up

Winner:

The Warrior King by Abigail Owen

The 7th Lie by Tamara Grantham

*Thank you so much to InD'Tale, the readers who voted, and the judges who loved The Warrior King. Thanks as well to my editor, Heather Howland, and my publisher, Entangled, for the amazing support. This dragon shifter series has been a blast, and it's wonderful to see it embraced!

*Thank you all so much for this incredible award. I’m humbled to be chosen as the winner. I would like to thank my husband, David, my family, and my publisher, Babylon Books, for their unwavering support. I would especially like to thank TJ Mackay for her vision in recognizing indie authors and publishers. It can be a lonely road at times, and being recognized makes all those long hours worth it. Thank you all!

Paranormal: Short Winner: Enchanted Magic by T.M. Cromer 1st Runner-Up

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Runner-Up Return of the Raven by Judith Sterling


Suspense/Thriller

Runner-Up

Winner: Fall to Pieces by Becky Flade

Mind Trap by Matt Cost

*I am so grateful and excited to win this RONE Award. I’d like to thank my parents for always believing in me; especially my mom who is my biggest fan; my girls who live through the writing and editing of my books with such good humor; my favorite fella and best guy who already think their Mummum is a star; and Tirgearr Publishing for helping me make my dreams come true.

Thank you, InD'tale Magazine, for conferring upon Mind Trap the runner up for the RONE award in the Suspense/Thriller: Steamy category. Cults are as real as love and lust and can be found in every nook and cranny in the world.

Young Adult

Runner-Up

Winner:

Third Man on the Left by Roni Hall

Gravebriar by Casey L. Bond

Suspense/Thriller: Steamy Winner: Serve 'N' Protect by Tee O’Fallon Thank you to all my readers, friends, and fans who voted for Serve 'N' Protect in the rst round of voting, and thank you to the judges who reviewed all the books in the nal round. I know your time is precious, and I appreciate yours! I am honored to have naled with such esteemed company. Last, but by no means least, thanks to all the folks at InD'tale Magazine for providing this amazing opportunity for our books to be seen.

InD'tale Magazine is such an important and established staple of the book community, as are its illustrious RONE Awards, that I'm truly honored to be among the talented authors and incredible works nominated this year. I appreciate my readers and the dedicated staff at InD'tale for all the wonderful work they do to further reading and promote literature as a craft and can't possibly thank you enough.

Runner-Up Departures by E.J. Wenstrom

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2022

RONE Cover Awards Winners! Contemporary

2nd Runner Up:

Winner:

Where You Are by Natalie Parker, designed by Lori Jackson

Don't Kiss The Bride by Carian Cole, designed by Carian Cole

Historical 1st Runner Up: Dreams of Fate by Skylar Shoar, designed by Hammad Khalid

Winner: The Black Unicorn by Heather E.F. Carter, designed by Damonza.com

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1st Runner Up:

Mystery/Suspense/Sci-Fi

The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney,

Winner:

designed by Fiona Jayde Media

Forgetting Jane by CJ Warrant, designed by Anne Berkeley

2nd Runner Up: Lachlan's Heart by Suzan Tisdale, designed by Dar Albert 1st Runner Up: The Axiom Paradox by C.T. Knight, designed by Yocla Designs

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2nd Runner Up:

1st Runner Up:

The Neighbor by London Clark, designed by Stephen J. Lee

The Girl Who Belonged to the Sea, by Katherine Quinn, designed by Mible Art

Paranormal/Fantasy

2nd Runner Up:

Winner:

House of Bastiion by K. L. Kolarich, designed by Fiona Jayde Media

Anchored by Bridget E. Baker, designed by Wynter Design

It is an immense honor to receive a RONE award within our bustling and impassioned community. However, this award is of particular speciality, as I cannot wholly claim it as my own. All credit goes to my industrious artist Fiona Jayde (of Fiona Jayde

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Media), for it is she who takes my rudimentary musings and transforms them into monuments. House of Bastiion has received its multiple accreditations because Fiona rst ensures it is always given a chance. They say we feast with our eyes... and what a table she has set for us all.

1st Runner Up: Guiding Gaia by Tish Thawer, designed by Melissa Stevens

Young Adult Winner: Gravebriar by Casey L. Bond, designed by The Illustrated Author Design Services

Thank you so much to InD’tale and to my amazing designer, Melissa Stevens. Her ability to take all my examples and sketches and turn it into an design that met my vision perfectly, is truly a wonder!

2nd Runner Up: Departures by E.J. Wenstrom, designed by Darkstroke Books

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Guide to Our Reviews and Ratings: Our rating system is the standard 5 star rating system:

5 = 4 = 3 = 2 = 1 = CNF

exceptional excellent good fair poor = If the problems

in a book are such that a reviewer is unable to finish it, the book will be given to another reviewer to read. If both reviewers are unable to finish the book, it will receive the rating of “CNF” or “Could Not Finish”

We also rate the "Steam" or sex factor so readers can enjoy whatever level they are most comfortable with. The criteria is as follows:

1 Steam Kettle = 2 Steam Kettles = 3 Steam Kettles = 4 Steam Kettles = description 5 Steam Kettles = graphic description

Nothing but kisses Passionate kissing, Sex but the door is closed Slightly steamy sex with some Steamy sex with somewhat

Those books receiving a 4.5 or a 5 star review will also be awarded the "Crowned Heart" for excellence. This symbol will be seen beside the review in the magazine.

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Historical

A Governess Should Never... Deny a Duke (The Governess Chronicles Book 2) Emily Windsor

has recently lost his brother and has taken on his niece, Mari, and is struggling with the adjustment to parent. Both are exceedingly kind and caring individuals who are looking for love - and manage to ind it. One will enjoy the relationship Rhys has with his niece, and how Isabella is able to win Mari’s love and trust. The chemistry between Rhys and Isabella is hot and undeniable, and fairly steams up the pages! The attempts on Isabella’s life and the attempt at framing her for a crime bring intrigue and mystery to the story and show the real Duke. A delightful story all the way through. Victoria Zumbrum

Rhys Cadogan, the Duke of Aberdare, is looking for a governess for his troubled niece, Mari. Both are grieving the loss of a father and brother. Rhys is hosting a party at his home to ind a wife. Isabella is French by birth and has been working to be a governess since her parents’ death. She does not want to lose her independence and is happy with her job. Rhys hires her and inds she is very different from other governesses. She is smart and has a lot of con idence. But she’s the governess… which means off limits. How can a happy ending be possible when two people are from such different social circles? “A Governess Should Never Deny a Duke” is a lovely tale with a lot of twists and turns. The author has created a believable storyline with characters the reader will love. Isabella is an independent woman, who has become an extraordinarily successful governess, yet she suffers from a tragic past. Rhys is a Duke who

Betty: The Rebel (The Pine Lake Girls Book Two) Jane Yunker

loved Alice. During their travel to Harry’s new job in Minnesota, Betty realizes her deception puts their marriage on a foundation of eggshells. In short order, it becomes clear her husband controls their household. Will the women of Minneapolis support or shun her small-town beginnings? Will Harry’s injuries haunt him more than his nightmares? Can Betty get her happy ending after beginning this stage of her life with deception?

Details of the historical times of post-World War I, the rise of women’s suffrage, and prohibition become the perfect backdrop to the rich character development. Readers will appreciate Betty’s commitment to making Harry love and appreciate her as a wife, social support, and mother to his children. Women will join Betty’s journey as she recognizes her shortsighted choices and personal growth, especially with her exposure to people from various backgrounds and experiences. The pacing of this story is exciting as each element of reality in women’s rights is peeled back and bared for closer inspection. This story demands the reader uncovers the unsettling options Betty shaped. Simone Dober

Pre-World War I, Pine Lake, Wisconsin, was home to three inseparable girls, Betty, Alice, and Lizzie, thinking of their future lives as wives and mothers. Their high school sweethearts return from battle, wounded but alive, and Betty set her sights on Harry during the celebrations after the war to end all wars. Her choice severed her relationship with her best friends. Betty forced Harry to marry her, even though he

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Wronged and Respected The Gentleman's Valiant Wife Bree Wolf

No le inds herself alone, tending her infant, Oph lie, and recalling memories of her husband, tienne. Even though he perished two years ago, she cherishes memories of their love. The Duret family becomes a haven for her after a privateer ravages her. When the unwelcome Dubois returns, she resists. When the dishonorable Dubois inds the hiddenbaby, he beats No le. He takes her and the baby, burning her home. Henri Duret inds No le and returns her to her family to recover. Determined to get her back, Henri Duret provides a ship and captain to rescue the baby. Ian Stewart, captain of Duret’s ship, reinvented himself to escape the life he left behind. He promises to take No le, vowing to ind her daughter. Along their tenuous journey, Ian and No le relive their painful pasts in their nightmares. They are both unwilling to trust their innermost feelings with anyone. Will their secrets unconsciously emerge while they travel the sea searching for Oph lie? And will either of them risk their hearts to ind a happy ending?

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Readers will discover a deliciously crafted adventure of second chances and family commitment. Follow the exciting story as Ian and No le discover their innermost desires in life by helping one another work past emotional barriers. The process of giving support deepens their relationship in unexpected ways, and it’s touching to watch. The backdrop of the high seas highlights insightful and thoughtful character development, and simmering romance intertwines with honest feelings of the past, but most importantly, the future. “Wronged and Respected” is a perfect choice for fans of Scottish historical romance. It stands well on its own, and becomes a teaser to devour the series. Simone Dober

Wylder Bride (The Wylder West) Amey Zeigler

the wild frontier looking for wives. Maisie reads one, and a spark is ignited. When Maisie’s mother gives her an ultimatum, Maisie leaves Boston in the dead of night to travel by train to Wyoming, where she hopes a new husband, and a new adventure awaits. With her dear friend, Cara, by her side, they step off the train into a world unknown to both young women. While there, a love blooms for Maisie, but is the captain she came to Wyoming for the actual one who wrote all those letters? And why does she feel an overwhelming connection to the local gunsmith, Cyrus Haddock, the captain’s best friend? Ms. Zeigler has written a charming story illed with loveable characters that will have the reader rooting for love. Though some readers may ind the story slow to start, the pacing does pick up and has a beautiful love story unfolding throughout. Aspects of revenge, discovery, adventure, and change are all included throughout the pages of this engaging tale, bringing excitement and fun. The author has written antagonists who bring suspense and unknowns to the book. As Cyrus and Maisie combat the hardships that occur, their friendship and new feelings blossom like a rosebud in spring. This quick-to-read tale will have readers living vicariously through the pages of the Wild, Wild West. Absolutely delightful! Heather Kroll

Maisie Brinley, a young, strongwilled woman, utilizes her words to turn away eligible bachelors from the wealthy Boston scene. Maisie holds a secret from her overbearing mother on why she refuses these bachelors. When Maisie meets the local preacher, he tells her of letters from men in


How to Marry a Duke (The Cinderella Society, Book 2) Allyxandra Harvey

Belinda Wilson Meg Swift, a viscount’s daughter, is at “The Cinderella Ball” her godfather, the duke, hosts for his unwed goddaughters. Meg catches the attention of Dougal Black, Duke of Thorncroft, while she is ilching gilded almonds. Three months prior, the duke himself was a commoner. He feels out of place at the ball because of all the rules. Meg comes from the ton, but does not have a dowry because her uncle gambled it away. The past Duke of Thorncroft gifted many antiquities to Meg’s godfather, the Duke of Pendleton. After the ball, he sends Meg home with Dougal to sketch the relics for him. Pendleton also mentions there is a treasure hidden somewhere in the abbey at Thorncroft. A mystery to solve! Now if only Dougal can ind a wife before the prince inds one for him! “How to Marry a Duke” is a whimsical piece sure to delight the reader! Meg and Dougal are well written and described as strong individuals. They both are lawed, endearing them to the reader. Secondary characters are eccentric and add color and brilliance to an already lively

The Lady and Her Duke (The Ladies of Sommer by the Sea #3) Ruth A. Casie

However, his cause of death was no longer a gunshot wound, rather it was poison from a South American snake. Ian and Ivy-Rose, better known as Katherine, must work together to uncover Bennett’s murderer, but will they ever learn to love one another? “The Lady and Her Duke” is full of everything anyone could imagine with chemistry igniting off the pages, mystery lurking in the shadows, and action that takes one’s breath away. When one chapter feels slowly paced, the next will surely be illed to the brim with constant action and chaos. Ruth A. Casie develops a beautifully written stor,y and each character has a clear vision, personality, and development throughout the entire series. Even the secondary characters are more than just names passing in the wind. Katherine is a freespirited, headstrong, and intelligent woman that knows her way around machinery, and Ian let her be free to express her interests how she pleased. Their relationship is expected for a woman who was thrust into a marriage with a man she did not trust, but the development of their relationship is also written magni icently. In the end, this story grows in complexity until the very end, when all is revealed. Sadie Wilson

Lord Ian Wallace just witnessed Bennett Sutton become injured during a duel; however, he knew he did not ire a single shot. Chaos fuels the encounter as everyone present tries to discover who shot Bennett and why. In the uncertainty of his survival, Bennett asks Ian to promise to uphold his deal to marry his niece, Ivy-Rose. Ian agrees, until the next morning when they discover that Bennett had died in the night.

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story. Loosely based on the “Cinderella” story, the plot differs enough to make this an entirely new perspective on an old idea. Plot complications are delightful, keeping the reader engaged. A treasure hunt and the riddle are fun and add another dimension to this entertaining romance. Although the old Duke of Thorncroft is dead, one can still feel his wrath due to the crumbling plaster of the murals. The treasure hunters and marriage-minded debutantes keep everyone alert as time runs out on inding the treasure - and a wife!


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Highland Soul (Highland Outcasts #1) Elizabeth Rose

Sadie Wilson

Gavin MacKeefe is known around the town as a Highlander and terrible glutton, loving nothing more than to eat and drink. However, he inds himself in a predicament after breaking two of Old Callum MacKeefe’s rules of the tavern. Due to his rule breaking, he is now sent away as an outcast of the town and must assist the cordwainer’s daughter, Davita, in order to redeem his good graces. His task is to make a new pair of Cordovan leather boots for Old Callum MacKeefe if he ever wishes to enter the clan again. As Davita and Gavin spend more time together, will their feelings for each other take precedence over their duties or will they sacri ice love for their livelihood? Elizabeth Rose writes an interesting story, illed with enjoyable humor as the Highlanders ind themselves getting into trouble. However, this is not an easy book to begin reading. The dialogue can be dif icult to follow as it is written to mimic the thick accents of the character’s nationality, but at times the spelling is so off that the words are unrecognizable. If

Kostanski offers to be the link between the two families - despite the ghetto being heavily guarded. Is that even possible? With characters that are amazingly realistic, Lilly Mirren weaves together a story about Word War II that many historical iction enthusiasts wouldn’t want to miss out on. The major theme of the book, overcoming evil, stretches the reader’s mind to its limits as he/she tries to igure out just how much evil a human being can wield on fellow human beings. The reader will appreciate just how much good people can be tested and re ined under the heat of evil. Although there are gross and gruesome scenes in the book depicting some of the events of the war, the ray of hope and a good measure of suspense keeps the reader’s hands busy lipping through the pages. The couple of typos in the book takes nothing from the delightful rhythm of the low of the storyline. JM Lareen

Under a Sunburnt Sky Lilly Mirren

Nacha and her family are busy going about their daily lives in Warsaw, Poland, when a dark cloud hits the town. The arrival of the Nazis and their evil agenda of segregating the Jews in ghetto settlements throws Nacha’s family in great despair. They think their lives are over when they ind themselves within the con inement of the concrete walls of the ghetto. Their close friends and neighbors, the Kostanski family who are Polish Catholics, have to come up with a plan to make life somehow bearable for Nacha’s family. Teenager Janek

The Last Dollar Princess Linda Bennett Pennell

India Elisabeth Petra De Vries Ledbetter would rather live her life in her native Appalachia doing good works and staying home than attending the social whirl of

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readers can move beyond the dif icult dialogue, the plot is entertaining and contains a lot of humor, romance, and bits of historical knowledge on shoemaking. The characters' personalities oppose each other greatly as Davita is headstrong and devoted from the start, while Gavin's character progression happens slowly after he meets Davita. Overall, “Highland Soul” is a unique take on historical romance with just enough humorous moments to bring out a grin.


At the end of the glittering Gilded Age, India is a woman with her own mind, but little experience or freedom to exercise it. Thrust together with Charles Westmorland the Earl of Kilnsey, and a man in great need of India’s money, the romance between them is stilted at irst and full of unwillingness. Fortunately, as backgrounds are explored and characters are given depth, adversaries become friends and then more as the challenges both India and Charles face are brought forward one by one. While many of India’s decisions and freedoms are limited and occasionally manipulated, as was usual at the time, the story successfully shows her growth. Charles grows as well but to a lesser degree. Although some questions are left unanswered, readers will likely ind a great deal to like in the more independent India and the man who wins her heart. Overall, this book can easily sweep the reader into a time that shone on the outside but had secrets within. Sarah E Bradley

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Gilded Age New York. However, her mother and grandmama have plans in store for India and her fortune, so India inds herself attempting to impress the Astor’s old 400 and make an impressive match. However, old scandals still haunt her family. When hearts are broken and Society turns away, only her mother’s choice for a match remains, leaving India with one choice. Fight to control her own marriage or remain under her mother’s thumb forever.

The Duke’s Sword (The Duke’s Guard Book 1) C.H. Amirand

fully leshed out, especially the hero, Patrick. So many questions arise about how he got his illustrious position and his easy friendship with the duke and his family. Gwen, on the other hand, despite her mysteriousness, feels much more complete. As well, the villain’s motivation is not really delved into or fully discussed, so the perilousness never quite rings true. The book, nonetheless, manages to be an intriguing, charming tale that readers will still enjoy! Roslynn Ernst

Patrick O’Malley is the guard for the Duke of Wyndmere and his family. Patrick is known as The Duke’s Sword. So, Patrick’s sole focus is the duke and his family. When Mrs. Gwendolyn “Gwen” Alexander arrives to take care of the duke’s twin babies, Patrick’s whole world gets thrown off kilter! As Patrick gets to know Gwen, he cannot help his feelings. Gwen also becomes close to Patrick, slowly falling for him. Gwen knows that her affection puts her heart in danger. Patrick cannot afford distractions from any woman because the duke’s family is under threat. Patrick would do anything to protect everyone, including Gwen. Yet all his efforts could be in vain, putting everyone in danger, or could end up killing him instead. “The Duke’s Sword” is a unique historical romance between servants instead of the titled. Even though the servants do run the household, they seem to take way too many liberties with the duke and duchess. True historians will balk at all the servants constantly fraternizing with the duke and duchess. Unfortunately, the plot and characters are never

Only Rakes Would Dare (The Debutante Dares Book 5) Charlie Lane

Lady Edith is between a rock and a hard place. Due to foolish behavior on her part, the London season is nearly over and she remains without a suitor in sight. Her father will have none of it, and so she madly pours out her feelings in her music. Grif in Paxton, the Earl of Eastern, is drawn to Edith like a moth to a lame. But she is a woman full of passion and is all wrong for him. Although he, too, is under orders to ind a wife before his rake of a father dies, he is determined it should be someone who will help him restore the family name.


"Only Rakes Would Dare" is a virtuoso performance of two wounded souls inding love! Edith and Grif in's romance is refreshing, as Edith tempts Grif in with her "rake-ess" ways. The interplay with Edith's brothers adds humor, even as it underscores the loneliness she feels in her family. Grif in walks a path that could lead to a proper, cold marriage, following the logic that such an alliance would avoid any of the excesses of his father. But Edith with all her passion brings him alive and soothes him at the same time. "Only Rakes Would Dare" is a story of true romance that will touch readers' hearts and leave them wanting more! Tricia Hill

Hero of My Heart (Those Regency Remingtons, Book 3) Jennifer Monroe

fear, and hints of past love, this a second chance story begins by tugging at the heartstrings and continues to weave them together throughout. Although the ending is obvious and the pace is slowed a bit due to the nature of the con lict, the story lightly tackles overcoming past abuse and the forgiveness for oneself it requires. Supporting the con lict, the romance remains light and sweet, a journey of remembering a longawaited love rather than the passion of a new one. Overall, it’s a delightful book for any Regency lover. Sarah E Bradley

Ten years ago, Miss Tabitha Carter was forced to give up the love of her life and marry his cousin, an abusive and violent man with a fortune. Now a skittish widow, she’s terri ied that either her husband will return from the grave or worse, the men he angered before his death will turn their wrath on her. To protect her children, she seeks out Christopher Remington, her former love and now a professional boxer for help. Christopher knows Tabitha can do better. After losing his estate, his factory, his place in society, and his one and only love, he’s barely surviving by the strength of his ists. But he would never allow anyone to harm Tabitha if given the choice, even if it means torturing himself with the past. Reclaiming themselves after a decade apart will take work, but a love still shared might just be the answer. A sweet and clean Regency romance, this story takes two people heavily scarred by the past and those close to them and brings them together in an intense situation. Full of anger,

The Upright Son (The Ashmead Heirs Book 4) Caroline War ield

A widow, Lady Delia Fitzwallace, has settled with her three children in Ashmead, putting distance between herself and her overbearing father-in-law, the duke. Country life offers freedom until she comes face to face with the ever so proper Earl of Clarion - her landlord and neighbor! David doesn’t know what to make of Delia. He'd rather not make anything at all,

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Grif in has always relied on mathematical logic to maintain order and control, yet around Edith, he inds the ice he's encased himself in melting. When they enter a fake engagement, how long will it take before true love shows them what could be theirs if only they will dare?


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but once his children form friendships with hers, he inds himself often in her company and enjoying it. As a widower, he struggles to ind the kind of easy relationship that Delia has with her children. Furthermore, David is beset with pressure to host a political event that will establish him as the next Home Secretary… and to take a wife. Having done his duty to his estate and to his family, isn't it time for him to follow his heart? "The Upright Son" unfurls its petals one by one with a touching tale of love and family! Delia intrigues and delights with her Jamaican childhood and determination to raise her children as she wishes. David's efforts to be a better father than his own ever was engages readers from the start. There's a reality to the storyline within the childrearing and politics of the day that brings the history of the era to life. The numerous Bensons can be confusing, yet those messy relationships are what made David the man he is. This is the last of the series and can be read alone, though it probably helps to read the series in order. With its opposite attracts premise, this tale will keep readers turning the page from start to inish! Tricia Hill

Made for the Marquess Alexa Aston

Percy is an outstanding army of icer who receives word of his brother’s accidental drowning while away from home. He must leave his commission and accept his title as Marquess of Kingston. The war has left Percy with nightmares, and his soul is tortured. He does not believe he will be a good enough husband for any woman. Minta is a twin who was stuck in Canada due to the war, and has never had her irst season. She is now 21, and long overdue to ind a husband. With the help of her generous aunt and uncle, they prepare her for her season. Percy and Minta meet and connect, but Percy pushes her way because he believes she deserves better than a broken man. This story can be read as a standalone, but one would enjoy it so much more if the others have been read, as previous characters play roles in this tale. The pacing of this story is fairly slow, and lacks excitement and action. Alexa Aston has created some complex and believable characters, and has done an excellent job in describing the horrors of war and the trauma later experienced by those who served in it. Although the reader will love both Percy

and Minta, one may not feel a believable connection or attraction between them. Percy is quiet, awkward, and uneasy in social situations. With the help of their friends, will Percy and Mint ind their happily ever after. “Made for the Marquess” is Book 4 in the Second Sons of London series, and despite its shortcomings, is an enjoyable historical romance. Victoria Zumbrum

One Saint in Tonica: Grooms of Tonica Book 3 Lynda J. Cox

Klint St. John is content working as the local bank teller in the small town of Tonica, Texas… Until the day Miss Varina Carroll walks through the doors. Suddenly, his world changes and he has no idea how to reconcile his future with the past he so desperately needs to leave behind. Varina knows her father is dying. He has settled her into a nice cottage in Tonica, made arrangement for Jon Andrews, a close friend (and unrequited love), to oversee her inances. Although she dreamed of a life with Jon, it is the quiet yet strong and supportive company of Clint that compels her as she works through the aftermath of her

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Historical father’s passing. Soon she realizes that the man she is falling in love with is also the man who has ghosts that he refuses to speak of, and a battle he refuses to ight in order to have her. What will it take for Varina to tear down those walls and ind happiness? What a beautifully penned story of life and love in the aftermath of the American civil war! While focusing on the romance, this book still succeeds in lending small but deep insights into life at that time with a beauty and tragedy that all can feel. The characters are sympathetic, and while Klint’s wavering but insistent refusal to accept a future with Varina is exasperating, as the story unfolds further it becomes understandable. There could have been a bit more time spent in allowing the reader to see their love grow, but otherwise, this is a top-notch and enthusiastically recommended read for anyone who enjoys this era in history! Ruth Lynn Ritter

brawl. Little does he know, however, that the sunset-haired beauty is really the infamous Irish Red. Esmerelda inherited the title but enthusiastically enjoys pillaging the British Navy as an American Privateer during the War of 1812. Little does she know, however, that the handsome Naval Captain will haunt her for years to come, and may just be the answer to her secret dreams of inding her family - as well as carrying on her legacy. We have a swashbuckler of a romance in this one, folks! It is interesting and creative, yet never falls to the ordinary clich s. Ms. Allyn deftly weaves a story of a woman searching for her roots into an action and intrigue- illed story of discovering love - not an easy task! The characters are real with surprising depth of character and historical signi icance. There were some odd switches in POV from third person to irst that were disrupting, and the sudden love aspect after only two short encounters never succeeded in being believable. But, as the story progressed, those feelings were given more concrete evidence, satisfying the inconsistency. The mystery and intrigue, while a bit underdeveloped, were all kinds of fun to follow! Overall, for just sheer reading enjoyment, this story is perfect! It keeps one turning the pages and loving every twist! Ruth Lynn Ritter

The Pirate Duchess Rue Allyn

Esmeralda Crobbin and Brandon Gilroy’s fates collide one night as he helps rescue her from a dirty

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Sin Like Flynn Kathryn Le Veque and Alexa Aston

Anthology: The Sin Commandments by Kathryn Le Veque Being the outcasts of the ton isn’t easy. In fact, it has made Rory Flynn to hate what he came from… and it sure doesn’t help the temper he has in such abundance. He decides to take the honor of the daughter of his enemy, Lord Sinbrook, and he sees his chance at the Stag Ball where he puts a plan into action. However, when he meets the beautiful Lady Edith Rissington, he is powerless to resist her. With both of them harboring secrets, it will be a bumpy ride for the couple… and the big question is will these secrets tear them apart, or bring them closer together? One Magic Night by Alexa Aston Aidan Flynn is all too familiar with his family history illed with rogues and pirates, so he is determined to set his own noble path. However, when his Grandfather tells him that he has two weeks to marry in order to inherit Larkhaven, the noble Aidan inds himself in a precarious position. Lady Larissa Warren has been unlucky in the


marriage department. When an ultimatum is given that she ind a husband at the Savernake Stag Ball or she will be married off to an old Lord, she becomes desperate. Aidan is immediately taken with Larissa, but his family reputation is too much for the Lady. Aidan makes it his mission to prove to Larissa that he is nothing like the Sinning Flynns, and to make her his wife. Two fantastic authors, and two amazing stories with dynamic and engaging characters. It should end with a chef’s kiss. This book is perfection in every sense of the word. Kathryn Le Veque and Alexa Aston have come together with two stories that will have historical romance readers drooling and chomping at the bit to download. The tales are descriptive and accurate with regards to the setting, and are just overall delightful. There isn’t much else that can be said except this is one of the best historical romances of the year. Don’t delay in reading this gem and make sure there is plenty of time because it is unputdownable and could lead well into the wee small hours of the morning. Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick

Rebellious (Poisonous Passions Book 3) Mae Thorn

enemies-to-lovers card to keep readers interested. It gets hard to keep track of all the character names, since there are so many different family members, and they all have different last names. The character development and focus on both protagonists does make up for the lack of organization and the author ties Max and Lynette together wonderfully, without forcing them to give away a part of themselves. If readers like action, lust, and romance, this book is a great choice. Austen Grace

Lynette Wolcott happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when her carriage is stopped and robbed by the highwayman, Wyvern. Fortunately, Maxwell Rycroft saves the day and Lynette, even though he doesn’t want to. However, Max soon discovers that Lynette is much more than he can handle. She does what she can to take matters into her own hands and learns secrets she shouldn’t know. Max is forced to press for her return to Briarwyck before he has to take the more violent option of removing her. The only question is whether Lynette will tempt him into taking a different route. Right off the bat, readers will be enthralled with this exciting plot, persuading them to never let this book touch the table until it’s inished. The author does a brilliant job of immediately enveloping the readers into the plot with an action scene to keep them on their toes. Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep up with a plot that moves so fast, and readers may feel lost toward the middle of the book. However, the author does give readers an attractive slow-burn romance, playing the

Discreet Destruction (Guardians of the Bones Book 1) K.J. Jackson

Declan Rudderton has enough on his plate being a business king in London, and yet, he’s received an in lux of random men trying to kill him in dark alleyways. Declan suspects there must be more to the story, but he’ll soon ind out that his maid, Verity, is mixed into the mess. Verity Jones cautiously gained Declan’s trust over the last two years, pretending to be a mute maid, while working undercover as his guardian. The only problem is her feelings for the man she’s had since the

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Reading this book is like falling into a sweet pot of honey—it sticks to readers so they can’t quite shake it out of their head, slowly tempting them to get addicted to its sweet taste and stay wrapped up in every scene. The main romance trope is “she fell irst, but he fell harder” and the author portrays it perfectly, keeping readers completely invested. This plot has a unique take on this historical era in which a woman gets to act as the protector instead of the damselin-distress. There were some parts that just felt too sappy and didn’t quite it the story’s overall tough demeanor. However, the author does a great job of keeping the romance relatively realistic, building up the connection and not throwing the two characters together. Everything about this book from its historical accuracy to its creative descriptions is enticing and every reader should get a taste of it. Austen Grace

Nothing But a Rake (The Ashton Park series Book 3) Abigail Bridges

animal whisperer of cats, horses, and birds. Of course, she isn’t supposed to be adept at anything yet still she can do no wrong. Michael, the reformed and disillusioned hero, is long suffering because of his supposedly rakish behavior, but doesn’t act the libertine. In fact, readers will pity him instead of truly understanding him. However, the book is many layered and pretty intriguing and despite all the heavy issues, manages to be a satisfactory tale! Roslynn Ernst

Lord Michael Ashton is ighting the temptation to drink when given a glass of champagne at his elder brother’s wedding. Fearing his own weakness, Michael decides to escape to his one source of solace, the Kennet family stables. While in the stables, he hears a scream and inds Lady Clara Durham on the ground covered in mud. Michael helps Clara out of the muck and is instantly attracted to her. Unfortunately, Clara holds many secrets, including her betrothal to a duke. Michael and Clara forge a friendship and enter into a clandestine affair that could very well destroy their reputations irreparably. What an adorable yet teary historical romantic read! The emotion-laden story is illed with strong positive feelings but also with plenty of vices, from selfdestruction and cruelty to compromising forced circumstances. The contrasting situations the main protagonists ind themselves in makes the plot feel a bit jumpy. The minimal backstories also cause some confusion as the story progresses. Clara, the unconventional, feisty heroine, seems to be almost an

Life Dust: A Novel Pam Webber

Nettie and Andy have been best friends and soul mates since their early childhood. Engaged to be married, their wedding is put on hold when Andy receives orders from the Army to deploy to South Vietnam for a year. Determined to wait for him, Nettie focuses on her work as an ER nursing intern. However, when she stumbles upon a nursing supervisor and a surgeon having a tryst, she inds herself the target of the vengeful lovers. Meanwhile in Southeast Asia, Andy is leading a

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beginning. Will Declan catch her through her lies and never forgive her, or will the two ind a connection when they work together to discover who’s after Declan?


reconnaissance squad through the treacherous jungle to scout enemy movements under orders from an incompetent superior. When an opportunity arises to capture an enemy of icer and aid a high-ranking freedom ighter appears, it could be a trap, or it could save many lives. Struggling to survive miles apart and dealing with the best and worst of humanity at home and abroad, Nettie and Andy must trust in God and their allies to make it back to each other. A remarkable tale of courage, honor, and love, “Life Dust” addresses the struggles of the Vietnam War period as well as the effects of our choices during life. Told in alternating viewpoints over the course of a year in 1971 the experiences of both Nettie and Andy engage the reader with a tale of choices, forgiveness, and a reason many ight. The characters introduced are rich and colorful. The plot and its con licts are neatly explored and resolved. Many historical events and organizations are presented in such a way to help readers connect with these events. Overall, this book is a must read for lovers of military and historical iction. Sarah E Bradley

Highland Silver (Highland Outcasts Book 4) Elizabeth Rose

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character development so that it’s hard to connect with any character. Of course, the dog and the kids help, pretty much stealing the show. This book, being the last in the series, should be read in order and really doesn’t stand alone well. Matilda, the resilient yet tragic heroine and the greedy hero, North, act too modern. From Matilda’s tragedy and North’s banishment, the relationship happens at lightning speed. Ms. Elizabeth Rose nonetheless writes a charming book that is a satisfactory tale. Roslynn Ernst

When Lady Matilda Montclair was six years old, her whole family is killed while hiding from an English traitor. While hiding, Matilda hurt the Englishman’s hand before she was rescued by her uncle. Matilda was then raised by her uncle and his family. Someday, Matilda plans to enact vengeance on those who destroyed her whole world. While Matilda is in town, she sees pirates trying to sell a silver goblet which used to be hers and manages to get it from them. North MacKeefe is tasked with inding the silver chalice that he took from his chieftain. His quest takes him to England and his supposed distant relations. North would do anything to get the cup, even seducing Matilda to get it. North thinks it will be easy until love gets in the way. What an emotionally charged and nail-biting historical romance! The story is illed with many realistic, tragic, and humorous action-packed scenes. Many things, though, take place too quickly, making the story seem unbelievable too. Numerous plot holes cause the writing to feel choppy. There is a lack of

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An Unintended Engagement (Victorian Grand Tour – Book 6) Lisa H. Catmull

“An Unintended Engagement” contains the reunion romances of not one but two couples, along with a host of characters from the previous books in the series. Lady Agatha Goulding travels to Paris with her friend, widowed Isabella Phillips, and Mrs. Phillips toddler. Both women have loved and lost in the past. Lord Arthur Yelverton and Geoffrey Rushton both serve as undersecretaries to the Duke


Historical of Woodford, the English ambassador to France. They have history with the two heroines and ind themselves as guests of the Duke at a lodge where the meddlesome Duke and Duchess facilitate the couples’ reunion. A unique approach to a sweet, Victorian romance, with not one but two couples inding their happily ever after! This tale is sure to please fans of the era with its lush details of the time period and locations, although it sometimes feels as if the story is intended only as a way to tie up loose ends of two unrequited romances. The author does a good job of resolving the issues that broke them apart in the past. The host of supporting characters are a fun and interesting addition to the plot in some places, yet overwhelming in others. The era details are well done, the romances are respectful, as be itting a Christian-aimed romance. While the book is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone as the author does a good job of illing in the details of the backgrounds of both couples. If one enjoys historical romance with a unique twist, this story is one to try! N.E. Kelley

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Sasha’s Secret Santa (A Dickens Holiday Romance: Dorrit’s Diner) Peggy Jaeger

Sasha Charles has returned home after living in New York City and working as a trauma nurse in an extremely active hospital emergency room. Coming home is safe and comforting and hopefully healing for Sasha. Having abandoned nursing, she’s now working in her mom’s diner as a server. When a customer is having a major health crisis, Sasha lies into autopilot mode. She acts quickly, and all present are in awe of her medical knowledge and talents. This act also gets the attention of a handsome newcomer to town who’d bene it greatly if he could get Sasha on board at the local hospital’s ER/Trauma unit. Steve Caldwell asks and receives her hard pass. He’s shocked but respects her decision. Is there any way he can change her mind and heal her heart? “Sasha’s Secret Santa” has the holiday spirit imbedded in a story of real life trauma and healing.

The mystery of what ends her career and lures Sasha back home is well played out and revealed later in the story, so readers will need to be patient. It’s a tragedy that surely would shake up any hospital employee and cause PTSD. The delicate, life-altering scenarios, approaches to healing, anxiety with panic attacks and misunderstandings all add the perfect balance of angst. The characters are strong, supportive and give the feeling of true friends and family. Steve becomes our hero, and many may appreciate his tough exterior that eventually softens and leaves readers wanting more. A delectable holiday-themed book wrapped with emotions and inished with a big red bow on top! Viola Robbins

Confessions of a Glamour Girl Kirsten S. Blacketer

inding impossible to ignore. Jackson Roberts noticed Lily the minute she walked into the building, but she is his employee and the age difference is noticeable, so he determines never to let his attraction be known. As time progresses, however, and Lily proves herself as not only a talented worker, but a kind and loving person, his resolve weakens. How can he have a relationship with the woman he is realizing he does not want to live without? As an age-gap romance, this story is both exciting and endearing! Lily is a wonderfully sympathetic character that is easy to love. Jackson is the perfect Cary Grant-style older man that women dream of, and the fact that he’s determined to take the highground makes him even more attractive. The downside to this delightful romp is that it brushes over so many plot points with so little understanding. Large chunks of time pass from one scene to the next with things having happened that readers are never in on, but suddenly have to accept. So many important points in the story are never explored enough to understand and add the depth needed for this to be a truly great read. Still, as a light, easy getaway, it is a delightfully enjoyable way to spend an evening. Ruth Lynn Ritter

Lily Astor has always been looked upon as a rich, entitled daddy’s girl, a stereotype that is not accurate and one she is determined to rise above. So she lands a job and works to launch her own brand of vintage fashion. She is willing to work hard, but her incredibly suave and debonair older boss is a distraction she is

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Heartsong Hills (Hearts of the Ridge, book 2)

did in the beginning. Readers can feel how the differences in their lifestyles pull at Nora and Tucker. However, those differences between them won’t let them ignore what happens when they’re near each other. When Tucker goes back on the road, Nora fear and loneliness will tug on readers’ heartstrings. The perfect book to curl up with by a warm ire, and a cup of hot chocolate! Leah Neale

Wendy Rich Stetson

Nora Beiler, a young widow, is in constant pain from the accident that destroyed her hip and killed her husband. Though a local doctor encouraged her to get a hip replacement, Nora believes faith should help her as much as medicine could. When she inally gives in and has the surgery, she’s amazed at how she feels. The doctor recommends a local exercise class for seniors as physical therapy. No one mentioned, however, the class was tap dancing. Amish don’t dance, but Nora enjoys the movement and the last of the stiffness is leaving her body. When she meets Tucker McClure, grandson of one of the dancers, she has no idea he’s a well-known country star. While the couple has more questions than answers, the one thing they understand is being together is not an option. Readers will love the beauty and depth of this story from Amish country. The family dynamics and simple dedication to faith and home create an entertaining story. While Nora struggles with faith and beliefs and a curious, intelligent daughter, Tucker longs to write songs with the ease he

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Losing Us Gloria Davidson Marlow

father. Can the two of them work out their differences and rediscover the love they once shared? ‘Losing Us’ is a heart-wrenching look at loss, in idelity, and family secrets. Yet, at the same time, it is uplifting, poignant and meaningful. The extraordinary cast of supporting characters adds to a story that is already engaging and emotionally entertaining. After suffering a loss early in their marriage, Olivia and Daniel Carson have grown apart. Their lovemaking has been one of function, rather than passion, all with the hope of having a child. Unfortunately, by the time Livy discovers they’ve succeeded, Daniel has taken a mistress for pleasure. He loves his wife, but desires another. A tragedy brings them back together, and the realization that he’s going to be a father strengthens Daniel’s resolve for reconciliation. The author tells a beautiful story of a woman’s strength in the face of heartbreak, and allows us to come along for the ride. N.E. Kelley

What happens when a woman learns she’s inally pregnant after years of trying, catches her husband in a compromising position, and is told she’s adopted, all in the course of a few hours? Devastated, Olivia Carson lees her home and travels to Key West to visit her aunt, an eccentric former television and movie star. Meanwhile, Daniel, the cheating husband has to come to grips with the fact that he’s a cad of the lowest order. He needs to ind his wife, beg her forgiveness, and plead for reconciliation. However, he doesn’t get the chance. It isn’t until Olivia returns home for a family emergency, that Daniel inds out he’s going to be a


Meet Me at the Top S.H. Pratt

Alice Davies was a hopeless romantic until her boyfriend hooked up with her best friend and left her crushed. When he left her friend and began stalking Alice, her parents stepped in and sent her on vacation to Seattle the home of her favorite movie.

Alice’s journal is illed with entries detailing her hurt and confusion over this awful incident. Seeing her favorite places from Sleepless in Seattle makes the trip very enticing for Alice, and inally gives her something positive to write about in her journal. A chance meeting at a caf means she sets up her own meet-me-at-the-top adventure at the Space Needle. Sam Decker is severely disappointed when his plans for Valentine’s Day fall through. Can this chance meeting lead to another romance for two people that are Sleepless in Seattle?

behavior of her ex-boyfriend. She’s not looking for love, but she inds herself open to an unexpected opportunity. When she and Sam meet, however, it’s not ireworks and sparks; it’s just a gentle hello that leads to a lovely date. The relationship that develops is sweet and delightful. By the time readers inish this book, they’ll know all about favorite spots from the movie, and wanting to learn even more about this sweet couple. Truthfully, this book would make a delightful movie! Leah Neale

This story is a beautiful homage to Nora Ephron’s classic movie. Fans of Sleepless in Seattle will enjoy walking around Seattle with Alice and Sam. Alice is a sweet, likeable character readers will enjoy getting to know. Her heart is de initely damaged by the

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Christie Clayton

Thanks to a turbulent past, Emily has built carefully cultivated rules in regards to men. Her rules are never broken, until the handsome stranger with changing eyes orders a coffee. After he lost his interest in creating and selling several businesses, Sebastian inds himself wandering around looking for some meaning to his life. He never expected to ind his meaning in a barista at a charming little coffee shop. His newly transformed eyes con irm that the human girl is his mate. Honestly, it’s his worst nightmare. Mating with a human can become maddening, and makes the vampire vulnerable to hunters. But Sebastian cannot ignore the pull of the bond. Now he must convince the stubborn girl to turn before they complete the bond, or they both might wind up six feet under. A steamy paranormal romance sure to ignite the senses and still hearts! This beautiful story loses

Annalee Stilove

Ghost Mark

Paranormal

herself in danger each and every time she enters a dream leaves Jane feeling vulnerable at best. Discovering that her dreams are a link to the past, and that each dream holds clues to the puzzle, Jane must work quickly to ind out who these murdering thugs from her dreams are before she or someone she cares for loses their life. Jane is living in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse whether she wants to or not, knowing the dreams won’t end until the mystery is solved. Ms. McLean has done it again in this captivating nail-biter that will leave the reader thirsting for more! Jane and Sadie are back in this riveting story that will once again test their friendship, their relationships, and their buttkicking skills. As the second in the series, it is a tad slow in spots, yet this book is still an absolute delight to read! Watching Jane and Ethan progress and grow in their personal relationship all the while butting heads with their stubbornness while trying to solve crime is amusing. Every character that returns from the irst book shows major growth, making the reader fall even more in love with them, and the new character only added to the fun. Truly, a magical work of art! Marie Sanderson

J.P. McLean

When Jane Walker’s nightmares return taking a shocking turn in the form of bright white marks on her skin, no one is more surprised than her. Thinking the nightmares were gone for good, this time she starts to notice small differences, such as the marks no longer being invisible but ghost-like. Putting

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Bond Bitten (The Bonded Vampire Chronicles #1)

no time as Emily and Sebastian’s worlds collide and sizzle on the very irst page. The construction of the intricate world is beautiful written and allows the reader to immerse themselves effortlessly. While Emily’s iery nature can get in her way, her love and devotion to those she cares about is beautiful. The way in which Sebastian puts aside his own needs so Emily can make a choice on what happens to her is heart melting. This, paired with how the natural pull of the vampire bond slowly breaks down his resistance, really keeps the reader lipping the page. There are also some surprising twists along the way. With some more character development, this vampire story will be an immortal read for any romance lover!


The Were Queen (Seven Deadly Veils #8)

love triangle plays out makes Liz’s commitment seem weak. Also, the high amount of characters, backgrounds, and clan af iliations that get thrown at the reader all at once, makes it hard for the reader to keep things straight as the story progresses. There are surprising twists that will delight readers, and with more attention to details, this book will be a work of art. Annalee Stilove

Diana Marik

Liz knows that being Queen of the Black Star Werewolf clan comes with heavy responsibilities and high costs, and some price tags money simply can’t pay. The worst of which has been her heart. While the love of her life, Gavin, gave her more satisfaction and happiness than anyone else, the threat of what might come left her with no option but to leave him for someone better suited to help her people; Cyrus. With the threat of war for her territory in Central Park quickly becoming a reality, and news of a traitor in their ranks, Liz’s con idence in her choice of mate starts to waver. Losing her territory would be bad enough, but the thought of losing her people is unbearable. Thankfully Cyrus is known for his strength, and she isn’t so bad in a ight herself. A iery cocktail of second chance love mixed with an explosion of action, and a dash of betrayal. Liz and Gavin’s chemistry are off the charts, and the way in which Gavin plans on getting her back is phenomenal. However, this is dampened down by the odd dynamic and agreement of an open relationship between Liz and Cyrus. The way in which this

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Paranormal

Wishes Under A Highland Star (A Tale From The Order of The Dragon Knights) Mary Morgan

HISTORICAL: Alex MacFhearguis has a lot of responsibility as the leader of his clan. His one true passion is to escape into the forest to get away from the craziness at home where he is in great demand. What he doesn’t expect is to ind himself in a magical land with a woman who makes his heart race. Aine Fraser is half fae and she decides to make a wish. She’s surprised when as a result of her wish, a strong, handsome man appears, but he has lost his memory. As they embark on

an adventure to answer the questions of who he is, their feelings begin to deepen. Will Aine be able to reveal her secret? And when his memories return, will Alex still want to be with her? Or is there relationship doomed to fail and both to remain alone? Glued to the tale from page one, readers will be dying to know what happens to the Chieftain who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and who will capture his heart. Alex is a likeable if somewhat standof ish character that readers will swoon over. When Alex and Aine meet, it is the perfect storm, despite that Alex has lost his memory and has no idea what’s going on. Let’s not forget the searing-hot love scenes; so hot that the e-reader will have to double as a fan! It might be a good idea to have the fan close by because stopping to read to fan oneself isn’t exactly doable. “Wishes Under a Highland Star” is a great addition to the autumn book list! Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick


Louise Skinner has highlighted mental health which is something that many can relate to nowadays. It is handled perfectly and it all comes together to create a paranormal romance worthy of the genre. This cracker is perfect to read on a cold autumn night, wrapped in a leece blanket with a cup of tea. An unputdownable delight!

The Book Boyfriend

The Nighthawkers Amy L. Bernstein

Sadie Wilson

Pauline is an archaeologist, but a special gift is what gives her a true ability to dive into her work. She can speak with the dead and learn stories about each artifact that no other would ever be able to decipher from its discovery or read in any textbook. Throughout school she was snubbed for her ability to ace every class she took, but while her ability granted her perfect grades and untouchable knowledge, she only saw herself as weird. Grey Henley on the other hand thinks she is a genius, and with his smooth talking and handsome appearance, convinces her they belong together. The two carry heavy secrets with them though, and without honesty, will their relationship last?

The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven

Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick

Jenna Louise Skinner

Being an author was more than a job for Emmeline. It was her reason for getting up in the morning and brought her a comfort that was indescribable. When she inds herself unable to write due to mental illness and being the owner of a second-hand bookshop, it seems as though the world is going against her. What she doesn’t expect is for a handsome man to come into her shop asking for help. Lord Jonathan Dalgliesh has been imprisoned in an ancient book by a curse, and he needs Emmeline’s help to break free. Neither of them expect the growing feelings for one another, and when the danger becomes all too real against Emmeline, it becomes a ride-or-die situation. Will Emmeline and Jonathan be able to break the curse and free him? But in doing so, will they be separated forever? Take one writer with a severe case of writers block, add in a sprinkle of Tudor Lord in the twenty- irst century, and chaos will ensue. However, the chaos is a riveting and exciting story that will have readers jabbing the screen of their e-readers in order to turn the pages faster! Emmy and Jonathan just work together, and Jeanna

Paranormal

“The Nighthawkers” is an incredibly well-written story, and the focus lands on Pauline’s ability to accept her gift and discover her destiny. There is so much packed into each page, with twists and turns that take the reader into actual different dimensions. Pauline’s character is portrayed perfectly. She is a young woman who feels out of place, unloved, and strange. Every time she feels her gift, she remembers how different she really is. It's sad to see her struggle with her own worth so much that she is willing to go through everything she does just to feel loved by someone. The way Grey and Ty are written adds so much depth and complexity to the story that aids in Pauline’s overall character development. Every emotion that pours out of her from beginning to end tells her story of rebirth and acceptance. This novel is worth every minute it takes to see their destiny unfold.

Jennifer Ivy Walker

HISTORICAL: When the princess of Scotland, Morag, marries Lssylte’s father, the king of Ireland, Lssylet’s undiscovered

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A fun retelling of two classic tales! The way the story quickly shows lashes of Lssylte’s powers is beautiful. It truly allows the reader to become enthralled with the story without letting the reader know there is any magic happening at all in the beginning. The growth the reader sees in Lssylte is perfectly done; a frightened, weak princess transforms into a strong woman with all the courage to go along with it. Lssylte’s romance with Roan plays out softly and grows authentically in the background. With that said, there are moments in the book when the amount of focus put into making different classic tales it causes confusion… With a little more plot focus, this tale is sure to amaze. Annalee Stilove

Paranormal

Gilded Butter ly (Rockin’ Fairy Tales 2) Leslie O’Sullivan

What is fame, but an ephemeral cage for the gilded butter ly? In the rock-and-roll world of Midas Lear, the future of his music empire depends on passing his magical Golden Guitar to the worthiest of his three daughters, Glissanda, Rubata, and Chorda. This enchanted event takes place in front of millions of fans in a televised reality show, Kickin’ It With Midas. While Lear’s elder daughters lavish sycophantic praise upon their Da, the youngest refuses to add her voice to the lattery. Chorda’s humble plea for authenticity infuriates Midas and earns her banishment from the family. Adair Holliday, the young producer of the show and Chorda’s best friend, is caught in the controversy. It is his job to broach a compromise between Midas and Chorda and save the show, but his feelings for Chorda point him in a different direction. “Gilded Butter ly” is a fashionably self-aware blend of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, King Midas, and King Lear. The relationship between the Lear family members’ musical talents and their respective deities hint at magical in luence. In fact, the

three sisters engage in an uncanny ritual moments before the choosing ceremony is ilmed. Readers are left wondering if they are truly witches. Chorda and Adair cling to their faith in family even in the face of ever mounting evidence of treachery. Chorda is especially sympathetic, being at one with nature and worshipping her own goddess with sincerity. This Lear retelling is a must-read for anyone who hopes for a kinder ending for the original Cordelia. Leslie O’Sullivan’s narrative style celebrates truth, love, and heritage, and reads as pure poetry from the opening line until the end. Joan Lai

Riftsiders: Unlawful Possession Paul A. DeStefano

Incredibly, Enrique and Elle are both possessed by demons, and it might be the best thing that ever happened to them. While Enrique is trying to get over the death of his wife, he must also navigate being possessed by a demon named Tzazin. Then one night when Enrique has lost total control of himself, fate brings him to meet love again in the form of Elle. Elle is shy and quiet and

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powers rise up to warn her of the evil learning in her new stepmother’s heart. That evil shows itself when Morag tries to have Lssylte killed. Hiding with the Fairy Witch in the woods, Lssylte learns to use her powers. But when fate inds her once again, it’s a handsome elf named Roan who comes to her rescue. While Roan and Lssylte ind love with each other, a knight of the Round Table, Tristan, inds himself in the company of the Lady of the Lake. With his tragic past haunting him, Tristan continues to train, vowing to never let anyone in his care come to harm again. When Lssylte and Tristan’s paths collide, they ind it might just be time for Lssylte to take back what was stolen from her.


possessed by a sex demon named Key. Over this shared predicament, Enrique and Elle bond and ind a support group with others in a similar boat. Together, they’re they will be better able to face whatever the human and demonic worlds throw at them…hopefully. “Riftsiders: Unlawful Possession” jumps right into the action! From the very irst page, readers are thrown into an exciting new world that Mr. DeStefano brings to life with wonderful vibrancy! The author turns the paranormal romance genre upside down in the best way possible! Elle and Enrique have a unique relationship, yet the way they love each other is relatable in many ways. Readers will laugh with them and share in their high moments as well as the low ones. Full of wit, the narrative is quick and easy to read, and will have no trouble keeping readers hooked throughout. All in all, “Riftsiders: Unlawful Possession” is a fun read that resonates long after the book is inished! A great read for lovers of paranormal romance and anyone looking for something new to try! Chelsea Andersen

story unfolds and the small amount of romance that is entwined within the book. There is a trigger warning for this book as it does mention sexual abuse of a minor. In the middle of the book, the pacing slows down quite a bit, but the reader will get sucked back into the adrenaline-fueled moments shortly thereafter.

Serenity’s Gift (The Wolves of Whitebark Stand #1)

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Jennifer Shepherd

M.L. Cook

Erika wants desperately to move away from her abusive family. As a little girl she found the woods to be a place of peace and would go there often to get away from her family. When she discovers wolves in the woods that almost seem like statues, she becomes very emotionally attached to them, seeking them out whenever the opportunity presents itself. When Erika is inally able to leave her family, she changes her name to Serenity Chase. And not only that, but she decides to take the wolves with her into a new home she’s bought for herself. Unbeknownst to Serenity, the community she’s just moved into is illed with wolf shifters. Follow Serenity as she discovers her family’s past, the truth about who she really is, and how she can help save the wolves. “Serenity’s Gift” is an actionpacked adventure following a pretty down-to-earth main character as she uncovers things she never knew about herself and her family. The wolf shifter characters are presented well and the history behind what happened to them is very interesting. The premise of the book is unlike any other. Readers will be very captivated by how the

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Paranormal

Dark Wine at Halloween Jenna Barwin

MYSTERY: As if Henry adjusting to being a new vampire parent and Cerissa having recently been acquitted of the mayor’s murder isn’t enough, a fun night out with their friends, Rolf and Karen, to visit a Haunted Funhouse, turns into another headache as they ind a newborn vampire feeding on one of the staff members. After returning to The Hill with the newborn, Henry and Cerissa must work to save his life - and uncover who his maker is. Is there a vengeful, jealous vampire trying to ruin The Hill’s well-kept secret by revealing the existence of vampires? Or is there a Revenant on the loose? With Chief of Police, Tig, and her partner, Jayden, leading the investigation, Henry and Cerissa try to help however


Paranormal

they can. But when dead bodies keep turning up, how can things end well for the vampires on The Hill? Readers are in for some spooktacular fun with this great whodunit! This tale mostly stands alone, but for full comprehension and appreciation of the world and its nuances, the series should be read in order. This installment features a fabulous mystery as a boy is turned against his will, and bodies keep surfacing in the nearby town. The chemistry between Henry and Cerissa is as sizzling as always, and their trademark humor will bring smiles and chuckles. Readers will be drawn in and kept glued to the pages as the mystery unfolds. Staple characters from the series make appearances which adds extra enjoyment for the fans. If one is looking for a fun paranormal tale to curl up with this Halloween season, “Dark Wine at Halloween” is a fang-tastic choice! Piper Valentine

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Dial Magic (Dial Witch Trilogy Book 3) Jo-Ann Carson

story, such as paranormal, fantasy, romance, mystery, action, and even murder.!The characters are very well developed, fun, quirky, and keep the reader engaged. One will enjoy this story as it will keep the reader guessing if good will win over evil. “Dial Magic” is fun read that will have the reader laughing out loud at times. Although, the story can be read as a stand-alone, one should read the books in order to get a better sense of the characters and this magical world. A fabulous ending to the trilogy! Victoria Zumbrum

Jane Black is a witch who comes from a long family line of witches and warlocks. She is being pursued by a wolf, a dragon, and a vampire, who are all vying for her affections and want to be with her. Jane wants to use her powers to help others. Slade Derringer is a warlock who needs her help to stop Metus from stealing his dreams. Jane agrees to assist the warlock, realizing that if she does not stop the dream walker, her family and the town could be next. With the help of her cat familiar, Vixen, and her family and friends, will she be able to stop Metus and ind her happy ever after? “Dial Magic” is the inal installment in the Dial Witch Trilogy. Jo-Ann Carson has created a magical world illed with so many different paranormal creatures that have learned to live and work together to protect their home. One cannot forget Vixen, the cat, and Handsome, the dog, who also bring this story to life with humor and antics. There are aspects of many different genres in this

Coyote Calling (A Shifter Seeker Book 1) Heather McCorkle

Sonia Michaelson is a varulfur (werewolf) with an enormous responsibility to help new and reluctant “bitten in” shifters control their very irst shift so that they do not go insane. Her job as the leitar (seeker) and her boyfriend, Tyler Vidarsson’s job as kennari (teacher) is ordained by the Norse Gods. Sonia and Tyler are summoned by the Caninus Council of alpha shifters, who challenge their roles, along with the roles of their reaper counterparts, because the last seeker and reaper had been gone

for over three hundred years. Regardless, of the other shifters’ vote of no con idence, Sonia must still deal with the mystery of female Navajo skinwalkers being “bitten in” to become coyote shifters against their will. Her mother comes from the line of skinwalkers but has gone missing. Will Sonia ind her and discover the culprit before more women become victims? “Coyote Calling” is an ambitious branching out of Norse werewolf mythology. Shifter terminology derives from Icelandic, Swedish, Navajo, Yoruban, and more. Although meant to be a standalone, there are repeated references to previous stories that will leave newcomers wondering. The established cast and new characters are so numerous that some, like Sonia’s roommate and Sonia’s subsequent coyote rescues, don’t appear in person. Her familiar, a clumsy raven named Gripp, steals every scene and provides humor and stability. Sonia and Ty have a loving and very sexy relationship throughout. Despite Ty’s tempered protectiveness and support, at times Sonia has more self-suf iciency than common sense. It is no surprise when Sonia, in turn, needs rescuing, but some of her rescuers are unexpected indeed! This is thrilling, action-packed, and poised to introduce new adventures. Joan Lai

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Fantasy/Urban Fantasy


Fantasy/Urban Fantasy are mentioned off hand with little to no explanation. Rather, the reader must rely on an unreliable narrator in Joseph who while ignorant is also cynical and suspicious enough of his new life to investigate a crime and possible coup with mixed results. This leaves an open ending which is set up for a second book. With all that in mind this book will appeal most to those who like fantasy thrillers, and kookie conspiracies! Sarah E Bradley

The Republic of Reality Adam Rowan

Joseph Shields never expected to die at nineteen in a toaster ire. But to his surprise, he wakes up neither in heaven nor hell but rather in Hyleberia, an island republic that rules the Earth and its reality. Selected at random to become a citizen and future worker, Joseph is surprised to learn that reality is more complicated than he ever imagined. With new eccentric friends, secrets of reality to uncover, a corrupt government, and more, the only certainty is that Joseph may be the only one who can protect the island and his second chance at life. An astonishing mix of ancient mythology and modern religions, “The Republic of Reality” takes a bit of many things to create a reality as rife with problems as our own and adds in an aimless and suspicious “hero.” From the beginning readers are introduced to characters who lean toward the more disagreeable and chaotic. Which might intrigue some readers, though little is done to make them more likeable. Additionally, this fantasy world is full of many highend philosophies and complicated magic systems that

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working on small airplanes leaping from the pages. The reader will also love Jay’s friends and his father igure, Kent, who is respected by all. Jay is willing to risk everything - including his friends, and his new romance, to prove who was doing it. “Valley Fliers” is a must read for fans of well-crafted and suspenseful plots! Victoria Zumbrum

Valley Fliers David Boito

SUSPENSE: Jay Smalley is a 17year-old boy who loves remote control navigation. He spends most of his time with his friends at the small air ield near his home in San Fernando Valley, working on model airplanes and lying them. Someone is using drones to assassinate people, and Jay suspects someone at the air ield is responsible. Someone new has appeared at the air ield and has been practicing light maneuvers with a military-issued drone. With the help of the Valley Fliers, the suspect is put under surveillance by Jay and his friends, but he is unable to prove anything. “Valley Fliers” is a fast-paced thriller that will leave the reader on the edge of their seat as young adults try to stop a terroristic plot before it is too late. The author, David Boito, has created a unique and entertaining plot that will leave the reader guessing until the very end. The author has created some complex and interesting characters - especially Jay - who is very responsible, smart, and intelligent. Jay has this ability to see what others do not, and feels that he needs to do what is right, no matter the cost. One can feel Jay’s passion for lying and

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Young Adult

Quest of Fire: Desperation Brett Armstrong

their dislike of one another. As they learn to work together and trust one another, they ind that they may not dislike each other as they irst thought, but may even have feelings for one another. Romance blossoms even as they are ighting and battling for their lives. The ighting scenes are exciting, dramatic, and illed with suspense. With all of the names of different races, islands, ships, etc. it becomes hard to keep track of who is who and who is on whose side. The reader who can sift through the many complicated names and relationships will enjoy this suspense illed, actionpacked story, that has a delightful touch of romance. Although this novel can be read as a standalone, it may be best enjoyed if the previous installments have been read, as one would have a better understanding of the complicated names and relationships. Engaging and exciting from beginning to end. Cara Cieslak

FANTASY: Thomas Fenwrest is a page to Sir Hurstwell, accompanying Mia, her sister, Delia, and his cousin, Gregor, heir to the throne, to castle Yerst. When they encounter trouble along the way, they are joined by Terrillian, a Knight of Light from Libertias. Terrillian represents a world they took previously for myth. Through their adventure, they learn that not only is everything not as they thought, but they are also not all on the same side. They must quickly igure out who they can trust, and also learn to trust themselves if they want to not only win the war, but simply survive. Mia and Thomas start off not caring for each other, yet the two teens have chemistry, despite


Young Adult

The Kingdom of Dadria: The Blood of Wolves and War N.J. Hanson

FANTASY: After her kidnapping, Princess Endelynn of Dadria has escaped from the Wolf tribe, with the help of a member of the tribe. Shunka, who has been banished from the Wolf tribe rescues her, and together they travel to the White Mountain. Endelynn’s mother searches for news regarding her kidnapped daughter, but not all who surround the Queen of Dadria speak the truth. With con licting reports, her trust is stretched thin. The forest tribes and then walled cities draw closer and closer to all-out war. Blending together epic fantasy and Native American mythology, “The Kingdom of Dadria: The Blood of Wolves and War” is a captivating tale of love, revenge, and camaraderie. The second book in a series, this story is best read in sequence with the irst book. A new reader can relatively easily pick up the story, but there are plot points important to the story that occurs in the previous book. The world-building is wonderful, especially with the unique tie-in of Native American

culture. The point of view alternates between nine different characters throughout the book. The split from the large number of characters makes it a little dif icult to truly relate or connect to them at times, despite their depth. Each character has their own unique struggles and con licts and their dialogue feels natural. The story’s pace is satisfactory, although at times it feels a little on the slow side— mostly due to the switching of perspectives bringing one storyline to a halt in order to revisit another. N.J Hanson’s spellbinding fantasy carries readers on their own emotional adventure, encountering harrowing violence, sweet new love, and the dichotomy of hope and revenge. Shailyn Rogers

Teslanauts Matthew Donald

technology to keep the world safe. Raymond discovers that his father was a member of this organization and he joins it himself to get answers and do something important with his life. One great war has ended, and the Teslanauts must work quickly to prevent another which could mean the end of civilization as they know it. Will Raymond igure out what happened to his father while navigating this new environment? Or will he have to go the rest of his life with so many questions and no answers? “Teslanauts” has an interesting concept and really grips onto the reader from the irst page and refuses to let go! Teens and adults alike will be able to relate to Raymond and enjoy going through his journey with him as he discovers an underground world he had no idea existed. The plot moves at an even pace, and has an engaging storyline throughout. Matthew Donald has done his research when it comes to the period in which the book is set, with dialogue, descriptions, and setting being accurate. Each one has been thoroughly researched and written properly. Whether a fan of YA or history with a little futuristic technology thrown in, there is a lot to enjoy in “Teslanauts”. Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick

FANTASY: When his father goes missing, Raymond Calvert embarks on a journey to get answers. Little did he know that this journey would bring him into a secret organization which has technology he could never have imagined. A secret society, the Teslanauts, use advance

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Suspense/Thriller

Operation Blackbird: A Cold Way Spy Novel (Brass Compass Series Book 2)

thriller. The presence of a strong female lead adds a feather to the astounding hat that this novel dons. The waves of uncertainty that are generously spread across the book, rock the reader’s mind into sailing towards the shores of every subsequent chapter. Other than the rather abrupt appearance of the brass compass that, for a moment, sends the reader off the boat, the reader is up to a thoroughly enjoying experience with “Operation Blackbird”. As the old saying goes, this book is worth every dime.

Ellen Butler

JM Lareen

Cushioned between the ful illing feeling of a great vacation and the gaining of a new lead to solving one of the puzzles from her daunting past, Miriam Becker is in one of her best elements. The arrival of a fellow operative with whom they had shared childhood roots cuts short her refreshing moments. Jake Devlin wants her in his next big operation, Operation Blackbird, which sees them traverse continents to extract and deliver to safety a package of international interest. Ms. Becker soon learns that not every operative in the operation can be trusted. The success of the mission - and her life - depends on her ability to apply all her senses and training effectively. With many barriers to overcome, that could never be an easy task. What begins as a torch to some historical injustices soon espouses a thrilling spy operation that brings together a myriad of characters ranging from a politically-driven asylum-seeking scientist to moles within a top American Agency making the perfect recipe for a be itting spy

getting under his skin. They start to get closer, and it turns out that they might just be food for one another. Will they be able to put their pasts behind them and focus on their future? Or are they doomed to repeat what happened before they met? One sexy cop who is a tad bit angry and trying to take down a crime family; an EMT who wants nothing more than to help people and is trying to stay away from said cop. What could go right? Well, it’s a perilous journey with two iery characters that are dead-set against being involved with one another. Lynn Crandall has written a suspense that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, not only with good description, but characters that feel as though they are standing next to you having a conversation. A suspenseful journey with twists and turns galore that is perfect for a rainy evening in front of the ire with a cup of hot chocolate! Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick

Could It Be You (Love In Dunes Bay Book 3) Lynn Crandall

Needing a new start, Dobson Ramirez has a new job at the Dunes Bay Police Department as a detective after working in Chicago. She is tasked with taking down the Esposito crime family, and previous experience means that she will not let her personal life interfere with her work life ever again. What she doesn’t expect is to run into an infuriatingly sexy EMT who pushes her buttons. Jasper Steele is determined to keep things professional between him and the new detective, but she is good at

Bloody Pages (Kim Jansen Detective Novel, Book 2) Bruce Lewis

Rare books stolen from a local library give Detective Kim Jansen her latest case. The sixteen

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volumes are half of a set featuring photographs of Native Americans. During the theft, there is serious injury to a security guard. As Jansen gathers information, her list of suspects grows to include a wealthy vineyard owner, his history professor son, and an old college roommate. Kim’s former partner, who went into private security, returns to help her with the case. The clock is ticking as the detective follows clues around the city and one question lingers in every inquiry: why steal only half the valuable set? A family’s past does affect future generations. Bruce Lewis is skillful is relating that in this story. A man haunted by the abuse of his childhood seeks to create awareness in the present in a way that will make a mark. Although the premise of the book is profound, the story itself drags in many places due to the author’s efforts to include detailed information about characters. Many scienti ic studies about intergenerational trauma as depicted in this novel are well known, but the level of detail here is almost too much. The detective isn’t even introduced until well into the book and doesn’t stand out as the heroine of the story. This is the second book in the series. Overall, it’s a fascinating story of a family’s struggle and the domino effect that past trauma can have. It’s de initely a thriller that offers a satisfying ending for all involved.

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Ballroom Blitz

real villain. With that being said, more dance scenes would be amazing to read about to get a better sense of the chemistry between Patrick and Anita. Readers would also bene it from more character development of the villain in this story. While motive is presented, personality traits were a bit leeting for this character. Nonetheless, readers who are fans of mysteries and slow-burn, angsty romance will not be able to put this book down!

Natalie Cross Jennifer Shepherd

Anita Goodman is a professional dancer who owns her own studio. She is all set to perform in a competition known as the Keystone Star Ball, with her boyfriend, Mikhail, when he suddenly breaks up with her for someone else. Struggling to ind someone to replace him, her best friend, Patrick, offers to take his place. While Patrick has been off the dance circuit for a while, he is pretty sure he can keep up with the vivacious Anita. As the two spend more and more time together, their old feelings begin to resurface, and dancing together isn’t the only thing on their minds. But someone else does not want them together, dancing or otherwise, and will stop at absolutely nothing to keep them apart. “Ballroom Blitz” is a fun and fastpaced story of old lames inding each other again in an unfortunate situation. Ms. Cross writes her main characters very well. They are very down-toearth, relatable, and easy to love, despite some of their laws. The plot lows smoothly and the twists and turns will have readers guessing which character is the

Leah Neale

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Suspense/Thriller

Fatal Hunt Michelle Godard-Richer

Jon, a retired FBI agent, is living peacefully with his pregnant wife, Jessica, and her son, Bryce, on a ranch in Montana. That is until mobsters set out to seek revenge on Jon and his family. Over a decade ago, Jon helped bring down Hugh Jones’ Kansas City Mob, and Hugh is determined to get his revenge. Hugh targets Jon and his family relentlessly. Jon, Jessica, and her son are forced to lee from one location after another to survive. Readers will follow Jon and his family as they travel from Montana to Canada, across the Rocky Mountains, to


Kansas City and Hawaii, trying to escape the threat that is continuously following them. “Fatal Hunt” is a heart-pounding thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats! With great character and plot development, Ms. Godard-Richer does an outstanding job of engaging the reader. There are also paranormal elements introduced in the form of a late husband that are very surprising and well written. Readers are sure to enjoy this supernatural twist. The characters are very well thought out and may have readers rethinking their initial feelings, as some characters mature throughout the book. The story lows smoothly with a lot of surprises along the way. All of this action mixed together with a little bit of romance makes for a very fun and exciting read. With very likeable characters, as well as very deplorable villains, “Fatal Hunt” is fast paced and will have readers guessing until the very end. Jennifer Shepherd

Come, Gentle Night (Natalie Marsh #5)

persona of the psychologist, who seems to go through what appears to be schizophrenic episodes such as, ‘I can help’ to ‘no I should withhold’ and then goes into a series of ‘could it be?’ that destabilizes her hold of the low of events. However, the other characters form an amazing crew that delivers such a sweet story for any readers whose idea of a cool sunset involves a well-lit room with a delicious murder mystery to devour.

Stephanie Black

JM Lareen

Rowan Montrose believes that he has met the love of his life after less than an hour of dancing with her during a fundraising gala. His brother, Brett, is serving his fourth year in prison for a murder that Rowan strongly believes he didn’t commit. His distrust for the police force landed him on the force’s watchlist. Things don’t look good for his life, especially after realizing that his newly found love is none other than the sister of one of the detectives in the police force. Can he get in the detective’s good graces to win his sister’s love? Natalie Marsh, a practicing psychologist who is well-known to both the police of icers and the Montrose family offers to help. How can she do that without compromising her career? “Come, Gentle Night” is a riveting tale that leaves the reader craving more drama, secrets, and action amidst a roller coaster of emotions caused by a budding romance that is tried and tested in every manner. This amazingly unique story has a very enticing shade thrown into the damsel in distress giving it an overall exotic feel. The drawback is on the

Saddled Hearts (The White Rune Series, Book 3) Jan Sikes

PARANORMAL: Colt Layne loves his horses, he loves the ranch he inherited from his late grandfather, and he loves playing music with his friends. Colt also operates a horse sanctuary and has a special gift which allows him to communicate with the large animals. When a mysterious stranger rolls onto his land claiming it’s rightfully his, many questions arise. His grandfather had never mentioned the man, so now Colt wishes he could simply ask his grandfather what’s happening. When Colt shares this with his close friend Jag, he

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Suspense/Thriller


Suspense/Thriller suggests talking to a medium. Colt is desperate for answers from his grandfather, so he makes an appointment with Sage Coventry. When a murder occurs and Colt is the accused, things go sideways quick. Can Sage help clear Colt’s name. “Saddled Hearts” is a high drama suspense story that will keep readers hands gripping tight to the reigns! Ms. Sikes has checked all the boxes for a suspenseful romance and takes readers along for the wild ride. Her characters are all strong. Each has their own strengths which that serve their purpose in the story. The villains unfold as the mystery develops and are well developed. The drama is well paced, the mysterious power of the special stone and the gift of the medium are done in a believable way which adds a special layer to the overall story. Readers who enjoy a hard working cowboy with some paranormal bits thrown into a budding romance are in for a treat with this installment. Viola Robbins

be wanted. Kevin G. Chapman has most certainly written a great novel and has a talent for creating dynamic characters. Don’t hesitate to download “Dead Winner” to start off the autumn season off right - curled up with this gripping tale while enjoying a hot beverage and irelight. Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick

Dead Winner Kevin G. Chapman

Rory McEntyre isn’t exactly the type of guy who comes to rescue a fair maiden. As a trust and estates attorney, his job is relatively even and on-going. However, when his friend and his wife who is a woman Rory has never forgotten walk into his of ice with a story about a lottery ticket, he offers his help. Everything turns on its head when Tom, his friend, is found dead in an apparent suicide. Tom’s wife, Monica, is suddenly in the crosshairs of the police, and Rory must act as her attorney. As the situation grows more precarious, Rory and Monica ind themselves growing closer. Is Monica the true grieving widow she claims to be? Could Rory be the next one to turn up dead? Enticing from the irst page, “Dead Winner” has all the hallmarks of a true suspense. Rory is an immediately likeable character, and the irst meeting between him, Monica, and Tom will set off alarm bells for readers which will continue ringing until the very end. The plot is entwined and moves at a brisk pace. This is a page turner, and one that could easily be inished in one sitting. For fans of suspense with a sprinkling of romance and danger, it has everything that could ever

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Flowers in Her Bones J.R. Erickson

Two years after surviving her throat being slit by a would-be killer, Gloria suffers from debilitating agoraphobia, living at a distance from the world. Mental monsters force her to relive the night she and her best friend, Wren, were attacked. From her apartment window, Gloria inds herself witnessing a strange scene at the very same apartment in which Gloria and Wren once lived. Gloria attempts to take steps forward to leave her mental prison, convinced the scene is related to Wren’s disappearance. With the help of Wren’s brother, Gloria makes strides in inding answers. However, unusual things begin to happen, driving Gloria to escape her prison no matter what the cost.


Suspense/Thriller “Flowers in Her Bones” hauntingly lures readers into the curious world of agoraphobia. J.R. Erickson does a ine job educating readers about the character’s condition, through her mental and physical struggles, creating a desire to see what happens next. An edit of repetitive words such as sentences with more than one “and” would enable readers to move forward rather than feel like they are combing through lists. Creepy moments will snag readers in a slew of fantastic red herrings. Readers may wish the attacker could be intertwined a little more to throw them off the scent of who did it. The touch of supernatural has interesting moments, yet is a bit confusing considering who the real protagonist is. A creative twist on a true story, “Flowers in Her Bones” capitalizes on real mental fear, which will cause readers to question who is in their closet. Moira Wolf

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Novella

Lady, No More (Naughty Ladies Book 3) Cerise Deland

HISTORICAL: Although Hadley Sherborne, Viscount Grey, has just helped to rescue one of Laurel’s sisters from a kidnapper, she is disgruntled at seeing him in her cousin’s home. The blackguard had broken their engagement two years prior, and she never heard a word from him. His father had made an agreement with a neighbor, where Hadley would wed his daughter. Now he suddenly reappears as a hero who has helped to liberate Addy! Hadley desperately wants to talk to Laurel and win her back. But the father died, and she married the man she loved, leaving Hadley free to marry Laurel, the woman he loves. But Laurel wants to hear nothing from him. In fact, she has asked him to help her ind a proper man to marry! Hadley needs to convince her he is the one and only man who is right for her. If only she would listen. “Lady, No More” is an interesting novella which can be quickly read and enjoyed. Laurel and Hadley are well-written characters who wear their emotions on their sleeves. Aunt Grace is an eccentric character who really adds a spark to this story with her lavish

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parties and unconventional clothing. There is a lot of miscommunication and noncommunication which makes this story frustrating. Sexual tension is easily felt throughout the entire piece, but there is no great climax in this tale, so the story arc leaves the reader wanting. This story is repetitive, one long disagreement that gets resolved in the last few pages. Descriptions of the characters are divine, and so are those of Hadley’s home. There are some unique twists in this tale which will surprise all.

jump out of the moving carriage. She runs until she is in front of the Lyon’s Den. Inside, she meets Mrs. DoveLyon, who hides the unfortunate girl. Lord Danford comes in, looking for her. Thomas, Lord Braeton, is in the Lyon’s Den with his friend, Geoffrey, Lord Longford. He sees what is happening and offers to marry Honoria. He thinks this will keep Danford away. But he is sadly mistaken…

Belinda Wilson

“Pride of Lyons” is another spectacular addition to the Lyon’s Den Connected World. Honoria and Thomas are extraordinary people in extenuating circumstances who manage to pull a love match out of the situation. The dastardly Lord Danford is shallow with little depth, but his obsession with Honoria is a force to be reckoned with. Readers see a softer side of Mrs. Dove-Lyon in this story which is a nice touch. With so many details throughout, one can almost smell the roses in the rose garden. It is easy to engage in this story as it offers twists and turns and a rollercoaster of emotions. Ms. Jaxon skillfully weaves together the story of Lord Danford and the love story of Honoria and Thomas to produce a masterpiece!

Pride of Lyons Jenna Jaxon

HISTORICAL: Honoria Quinn is retained as a companion for Lady Danford’s mother, Mrs. Edwards. She enjoys the position - except for Lord Danford. His gaze always seems to be on her. She is enjoying her day off when a carriage comes lying up. The groom tells her Mrs. Edwards is seriously ill; Honoria must come home immediately. Upon entering the carriage, she sees Lord Danford. Forcing himself on Honoria, she manages to

Belinda Wilson


Mary Lancaster

The one thing that seems to help the war hero sustain himself is Natalie Derwent, a harpist whose concerts he has been attending. However, one night when Richard inally gets up the courage to talk to the harpist, Natalie is ambushed by her evil ex- ianc . Richard takes it upon himself to act as her guardian and helps her in the plot to take down the villain. Will these two fall in love during their time together, working to take down the evil ex, or will the villain stand in the way of the romance?

HISTORICAL: Captain Lord Richard Gorse comes back from the war with bodily wounds as well as damage to his mind and most importantly to his heart.

Ms. Lancaster takes an assortment of crazy plot twists, an engaging plotline and an adorable romance and ties them up in a perfect, short and sweet novella for readers to enjoy. It may be a little disappointing if readers are expecting something a bit steamier, however, the plot is

Sin and the Soldier (Gentlemen of Pleasure Book 3)

unique and interesting in its own way. Readers may wish they had gotten more background about Natalie, since the novel doesn’t really dive into the details of her previous relationship. But the romance between Richard and Natalie was swoon-worthy, keeping readers constantly wanting more. One could wish for more character development since there is little real connection to make with the characters in such a short tale. Nonetheless, this novella is pleasing and well-developed, one that readers should de initely take a chance on. Austen Grace

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Mystery

Attribution Linda Moore

Cate does not yet know, but opening the chest in the storage closet is opening Pandora’s Box. Inside is an exquisite old painting reminiscent of an artist from The Spanish Golden Age. She calls it “La Gloria” and thinks this is a lost work; worthy to be her doctoral dissertation. So far Dr. Jones has axed her every idea. Removing the painting, she takes it home with her. When circumstances prevent her from returning it to the university, she takes an impromptu research trip to Spain over Christmas. While there, she meets Antonio, a struggling Lord who is trying to keep his estate out of bankruptcy. He joins Cate in her search for clues on the timeline of the painting. She keeps running head irst into obstacles, but now Dr. Jones is encouraging her in her project. “Attribution” leads the reader through the restoration of precious art and gives an interesting overview of academic arguments surrounding Velasquez. Cate is determined,

and concerned with truth and not consequences. Torn between revealing the truth and helping Antonio adds bitter con lict. Dr. Jones is a misogynist, willing to let Cate have her day as long as she furthers his career. Antonio is a very likable character, yet he has little depth. The story drags with art jargon which may be unfamiliar to the lay person. Cate’s guilt about “La Gloria” and her brother’s death are felt throughout the novel, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. Deception runs rampant throughout, adding to the mystery. A puzzle to the very end, readers will enjoy solving the mystery with Cate and Antonio! Belinda Wilson

The Poisoned Clergyman (The Perfect Poison Murders Book 2) E.L. Johnson

While Charles is judging the baked goods, he mysteriously ends up dead, and the whole town becomes suspect. When Constable Henry Dyngley comes back to town engaged, Poppy must bury her feelings for him. Despite his betrothal, Henry asks Poppy to help him solve the murder. As Poppy and Henry ind out who Charles is and get closer to solving the case, everything, including their relationship is tested, which could also put them both at risk. This is such a marvelously put together story that any mystery buff will love! The second book in the series, there are some things that aren’t fully explained, however this doesn’t really detract from the story at all. The plot moves steadily, taking readers along for a harrowing ride. The conundrum of a murdered clergyman might start off simply, yet it keeps one guessing whodunit. The evermoving plot heightens with each successive chapter until the very end. Poppy, the plain yet charismatic heroine is just delightful, while Henry comes off as a dense but handsome hero who has no clue, which can be quite exasperating and annoying at times. In the end, though, he isn’t a bad guy. Ms. Johnson writes a truly evocative, enticing read that manages to keep readers’ attention throughout! Roslynn Ernst

HISTORICAL: Miss Poppy Morton, a clergyman’s niece, loves solving murders, but in the peaceful town of Hertford nothing ever happens. When Poppy’s uncle is called away, Poppy’s life is turned upside down. Mr. Charles Ingleby comes temporarily to replace Poppy’s uncle and moves into her home. Charles plans to raise money for a new church roof with a bake sale.

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A Matter of Time (A Fantasy Resorts Novel) Lizzy Gayle

Wally is an adorable nerd with a hidden heroic streak that comes out to play when he realizes that Sadie and Teddy are threatened. Sadie is admirable in her determination to protect her son and maintain her ranch without interference from the mayor/ sheriff and his bullies. Plot holes include futuristic technology that is spectacularly ineffective in security and forensics and the necessity of a Watcher who fails to prevent time contamination. The vibe and tempo are more about fun than logic. “A Matter of Time” is a time travel romance that is truly imaginative escapism! Joan Lai

Embark on an exclusive vacation enterprise! The Time Capsule Resort (TCR) employs time travel technology engineered by Walter Doyle. On its maiden voyage to ferry one hundred guests from 2117 New York to 1888 Arizona, the TCR goes off course and lands on the outskirts of Devil’s Creek. The craft loses its cloaking device in the mishap and Wally is the only one who can ix it. His search and recovery lands him a close encounter with widowed ranch owner, Sadie Rogers, and her young son, Teddy. Wally and Teddy bond over a love of tinkering and invention. Wally and Sadie bond over helping each other with critical problems and ind a mutual attraction that transcends their different centuries. Surrounded by danger, can Wally and Sadie ind out who sabotaged the TCR, entertain a crowd of time tourists looking for a Wild West good time, and avoid the malice of Sadie’s neighbors? Take a whopping dose of suspended disbelief before boarding and prepare for a lifechanging adventure! Zany characters from the future meet dastardly cowboys from the past.

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Science Fiction

Alien’s Temptation (Earth Brides & Alien Warriors #3) Tina Moss

Jane is the captain of Earth’s moon base, and she has been assigned to go on a mission with a Rhonar Warrior named Tor to locate ergamite. The treaty between Earth and the Rhonar Warriors is dependent upon them inding this, so despite their differences, they must work together. Tor can be pretty domineering at times, and Jane is very put off by this regardless of the lustful feelings that are growing inside of her. In spite of his demeanor, Tor is quite

smitten with Jane, and well aware that they are fated mates. Follow Jane and Tor as they travel the galaxy together and try to ignore their lustful thoughts for each other while also experiencing some out of this world encounters with some unusual creatures. “Alien’s Temptation” is a steamy, dual-perspective science iction romance following a very unlikely pair. The very snarky banter between Jane and Tor is amusing to read. The relationship between the two develops rather quickly, more lust than love, and may be off-putting to some readers. The history of the previous books in the series is described to the reader, albeit not as detailed as it could have been, but it still allows for this book to be read as a standalone. There are a lot of sexually explicit scenes throughout the book. Some are rather comical, and all of them are very graphic. The plotline of the story is interesting enough, but it’s pretty ambitious for such a short book. However, readers are sure to enjoy this story that is illed with space adventures, aliens, and a very hot and steamy romance! Jennifer Shepherd


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Audiobooks a sweet story with a satisfying slow burn romance.

An Inconvenient Grand Tour (Victorian Grand Tour #1 Lisa H. Catmull Narrator: Jessica Carney

HISTORICAL: Eleanor Barrington must marry; that was always in her future, and she understood it at a young age. She has her sights set on marrying one particular suitor who doesn’t seem to notice she’s alive. Her brother’s best friend, Percy enters her life, and the plan she’d so carefully concocted for herself goes out the window. Together, they are to travel on a grand tour, each with their own goals in mind… goals that are tested and changed for better or worse as Eleanor asks herself if she can indeed ind love, or if she must only marry for convenience. Time traveling via a book! Incredibly historically accurate and vivid, “An Inconvenient Grand Tour” instantly transports readers to another time! Eleanor, a headstrong female, both strives to be accepted in society and have whatever freedom she can muster from its expectations. This balance that she tries to strike is part of what makes the book so fascinating to read. Her chemistry with Percy is instant and believable, and their scenes alone together are some of the best in the book. There are a few slow moments in the story. Overall, it’s

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Ms. Carney gives a solid performance in “An Inconvenient Grand Tour.” Her characterization of Eleanor is especially spot on, truly giving voice to a unique character! All of the other characters in the story have a distinct sound to them. While Ms. Carney doesn’t change vocal pitch often, she has other lares she attaches to her speech that help to differentiate all of the different people readers will meet. She’s able to keep the low of the story going even in the slower moments as well. A great production, all around! This is a great listen for lovers of historical romance and sweet romances. Chelsea Andersen

Daring Duplicity: The Wellington Mysteries, Vol 1 Narrator: Jennifer Lewis

LGBTQ: Stetson Goody is a woman ahead of her time! A woman of many disguises, she poses as her own secretary to a ictional male boss in order to run her own business and solve mysteries as a private investigator. While the business seems to be booming, Stetson hopes to ind a moment for a personal life as well. There’s just one problem, her taste in

lovers isn’t considered proper for Victorian England. Stetson marches to her own drum, and nothing is going to get in her way…except for perhaps the mystery that might just be her undoing. “Daring Duplicity” is a collection of fast paced mysteries with plenty of unexpected twists and turns! Ms. Lane does a phenomenal job of immersing readers into the Victorian Era, and it’s easy to want to stay there! Stetson Goody is a fascinating lead! Smart and witty, she does what one must to survive in a world where she doesn’t quite it in. Readers will easily connect with her personality as well as her personal life. Her many romances through the series of short tales captures her softer side, and does well to show the joys and hardships of being a part of the LGBT community during a time where it was heavily frowned upon. The mysteries themselves are light and quick. They follow a bit of a formula, but it doesn’t take away from the overall fun of the stories! Ms. Lewis does a remarkable job bringing readers into Ms. Lane’s world! She’s passionate and connected to the book in performance. She does some great accents and has created some distinct and dynamic voices for the characters. The pacing is great and follows the rise and falls of the drama for each novella in the collection. It’s a read that is hard to put down! This is a great listen for lovers of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and LGBT stories! Chelsea Andersen


Audiobooks

The Omen of Crows Nest Cathrina Constantine Narrator: Amy Hall

MYSTERY/YOUNG ADULT: Penelope’s father was murdered, and she’s the only witness to the crime. The problem? No one believes her! Thought to be mad, Penelope is put into a psychiatric hospital until she realizes she has to tell a lie if she ever hopes to have her freedom again. That doesn’t stop her from looking for the truth, though. Determined to make a new life and untangle the mystery that derailed her old one, Penelope goes on a quest that could end in her doom. Whatever her family is hiding, she’s going to ind it, and with that knowledge she will hopefully learn the full nature of her heritage. Cathrina Constantine has created a mysterious young adult adventure full of twists and turns that will keep readers guessing! She creates a perfect dark ambiance that is both fascinating and, at times, frightening! “The Omen of Crows Nest” is full of magic and has many elements of a psychological thriller. Penelope makes for a strong heroine as she balances trying to ind the truth with keeping herself out of trouble. Her life changes quickly, and she asks a lot of questions that will resonate with readers. There are a few sections of the book where the explanations get in the way of the action, and that can cause some confusion along with slowing down the pacing. Deeply developed characters and a satisfying conclusion will keep readers captivated! Ms. Hall gives an emotional performance as she taps deeply into Penelope’s character. In doing so, she brings Penelope to life in a vibrant way! Some side characters do blend in with others, but Ms. Hall is able to give most a distinct sound and personality. Her pacing helps keep the story moving during some of the slower or more confusing moments, and she truly brings out the urgency in the more intense scenes! A fun listen! This is a great listen for fans of paranormal mystery and young adult stories! Chelsea Andersen f

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Inspirational

The Letter Carrier L.C. Lewis

HISTORICAL YOUNG ADULT: Travel back to WWII and the German’s march across Europe as it reaches the French countryside. What would one do if they found themselves controlled by a tyrannical power and only had their loved ones and their faith to see them through? What could they do, if one by one, those beloved family members were ripped away and they were only left with a fragile faith and shaky hope in the face of constant fear? Michelle Naget, a French teen, and her family ind themselves caught in a hell on earth for four years as the Nazi enemy commandeers their home as command headquarters. The Naget family motto of “We do what must be done” is sorely tested in those four challenging years as they balance living one step from death with a determined faith in God and a desperate hope the allies will help free them. This story will stay with the reader for a long, long time! It is powerful and will take their breath away. This is Michelle’s coming of age story as she matures under the Nazi’s thumb. She tells her story in irst person and she brings the reader

squarely into her life. Pacing was dif icult to follow sometimes as time shifted rapidly within paragraphs. Editing also failed to catch some mistakes in character names. Beyond these minor laws, the story boasts characters who are easy to invest in emotionally. Make no mistake, though, this is not a romance, but a history based on years of interviews and letters from Michelle, her family, and survivors of the Nazi’s control of France. Prepare for a strong story of loss, faith, resiliency, pain, oppression, and so much more. Get ready for an emotional narrative that will leave you speechless! Emerson Matthews

Two Roads: The Unraveling of Dark Family Secrets

the love of his life, Allison, his children Dorothy and Jackie, and his best friends are faced with a truth that has been buried for decades and could motivate drastic changes in who all these people believe themselves to be. And it may have a dire effect on what they will do next. What an incredible tale! “Two Roads: The Unraveling of Dark Family Secrets” explores the lives of three generations of a family and how a couple of major decisions early in Ray and Allison’s marriage impacted everyone years later. Smooth alternating points of view between the family members reveals several challenges for the couples and for the characters as individuals. The plot slowly builds to quite the dramatic climax. Besides the believable characters and their engrossing drama, there is also a very hopeful and inspirational Christian undertone which explores how to overcome some dif icult marital challenges and grow love. Although the ending is surprising and abrupt, readers who love a good thoughtprovoking contemporary tale with a dash of realistic drama should de initely check out this book! Sarah E Bradley

Randy Wojnarowicz

Ray Shipman is an optimist driven by an experience he had many years ago. The problem is that Ray is slipping deeper and deeper into the grips of Alzheimer’s, and the man that emerges is nothing like the cheerful man his family has always known. Worse yet, a dark family secret is wrapped up with the events that created the marriage and family he has now. When the secret begins to slip out,

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Daughters” but it is nothing compared to picking up the book and reading it. Some may ind themselves going to ind other works by the author and devouring them, too. For fans of political drama and a book that delivers on what will happen next, this is de initely the one! Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick

Favorite Daughters Laurel Osterkamp

WOMEN'S FICTION: Elyse Gibbons is an undergrad at Columbia and she has made friends with the elite. Compared to her friends, she has had a relatively normal upbringing, and as she makes her way through the political scene, she takes what she has learned to survive the political mad house. As the years pass, they make their own paths. But what Elyse realizes is that it could all come crashing down in the blink of an eye. She must be careful if she’s to make it in this world. She’ll risk it all to keep her head above water, and Finn, the man she has come to love more than she can comprehend. Laurel Osterkamp has navigated politics and put it on the page with a main character that so many can relate to. Elyse is a really likeable character, and she is thrust into a world where it is dog-eat-dog and a career can be unraveled with even the smallest mistake. There are many moments where readers will be shocked; there is betrayal, backstabbing, and all sorts of interesting aspects. What will happen next? Read and ind out because there is so much that could be said for “Favorite

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Other

28 Days Aleisha Maree and Susan Horsnell

WOMEN"S FICTION: Ziggy Yorke and Branson Reid meet by chance in a hospital, which is not exactly romantic. Fortunately, the spark was there. Ziggy is in the hospital because she has cystic ibrosis and now she’s dying. Branson’s sister had emergency surgery and is in a coma. But once again, love proves stronger than what is happening around them, and the two are drawn together with immediate and intense love. When Branson and his motorcycle club gift Ziggy with the space for living her last days in luxury, their love story truly begins. Her goal is to fully live each day. His is to give her as many of her wishes as he can while keeping her safe and healthy.

The sweetest thing about this book is the realization that a lifetime of love doesn’t need lots of years. Readers experience each day with Ziggy and Branson, and learn a lot about the medical side of this illness. Susan Horsnell is a retired nurse, bringing realism to the story that puts readers in the middle of the action. While the romance unfolds, the reader also glimpses inside Ziggy and Branson and sees what made them the adults they are. However, the illness doesn’t overwhelm the beauty of the romance between these two. They experience many of young love’s irsts - from that breathtaking irst kiss to the joy of bringing their souls together in intimacy. In between, there are the wonderful experiences Ziggy has longed for and couldn’t have had on her own. It’s de initely worth the read, but keep tissues handy! Leah Neale


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