Sunday, 23 June 2019

Solstice Sizzle by Lilliana Rose


Title: Solstice Sizzle
Series: Pagan Pleasures Book 2
Author: Lilliana Rose
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publication Date: 18th June 2019


Johan Rogers is a sharpshooting family lawyer who is close to burn out. This is affecting his ability with the Magiks and his once reliable skill as a medium. On a whim, he’s come south to Edi’s shop, Crystal Sands, for a break over the summer solstice. He’s looking for fun, nothing serious, and definitely no commitment.

That’s how things start with the stunning Nova. But then a side of him he’s repressed to be a lawyer begins to emerge. Can he get a handle on his emotions, or will Nova help him to realize his full potential with the Magiks?

Nova McGinnis is struggling to find her unique skill with the Magiks. She’s been repressed too long, and despite Edi’s help, her ability is erratic at best. It’s been nearly a month of trying and she’s made minimal progress. Frustrated, she sees Johan as the perfect distraction.

It was meant to be just a summer love affair, but things are developing into something more lasting. Will a hot love affair prevent Nova from discovering her Magik ability, or help her?


Excerpt:

Johan has enjoyed the adult fun with Nova, and then getting to know her over a meal. They said good-bye for the evening, and he returned to his accommodation alone, and very much happy how things are unfolding with her. Just as he falls asleep, he has a spirit contact him, one that might ruin things with Nova.

      Johan settled between the sheets in the oversized bed in the master room of the Airbnb. They were crisp, clean, and after the exertion today and a big meal, he was ready to sleep the night away. He rested his head on the soft pillow with a sigh. He’d left the window slightly open, and the summer night air filtered in, bringing with it the sound of waves.
      I could get used to this.
      He reached over and switched off the light by the bed. His eyes slowly adjusted, there was enough natural light to see the outline of furniture in the room.
      His head swum pleasantly, moderately affected by the alcohol. For someone who didn’t like Chardonnay, he’d drunk more than he thought he could. It had been a lovely evening. He was very much looking forward to seeing Nova tomorrow. His mind easily began to plan what they could do when they met up, and he surprised himself that it wasn’t all about getting naked. He quite liked the idea of walking along the beach, having a swim then, of course, some time to get intimate with each other. He let the fantasy play out in his mind as he unwound for the day. Johan found himself relaxing deeply, something he hadn’t managed to do for so long.
      Sleep began to wrap around him.
      Then he felt it.
      The pull of a spirit in the afterlife.
      I hadn’t called for you. He sent the message through the ether.
      The spirit pressed harder, wanting access.
      I’ve not invited you. He was annoyed. This had never happened to him before. But then it was so long since he’d acted as a medium that his skills were more than rusty.
      This is why I don’t drink. Now the indulgence over dinner felt more like a burden.
      The spirit ignored him. Pressed through a weak spot in his aura.
      Johan braced himself, trying to build a barrier around him so the spirit wouldn’t fully enter his body. He was tired already. His skills unused for so long. He struggled. He didn’t always allow spirits to fully take over his body. It was more about how exhausted it left him afterward. When he was at his full potential with the Magiks, he could connect enough with the spirits to communicate with them and act as their messenger. Provided the person, or even spirit was willing to listen, but then that was his skill. Communication. As a Gemini, he was abundant with communication, and could get people and spirits to listen.
      You can talk to me like this. He figured if he couldn’t get the spirit to leave, then at least he could keep it at bay.
      I didn’t mean to do that to her. There was a ripple of fear and regret coming through with the words of the spirit.
      Name yourself, he demanded. If he were dealing with a spirit that had done something illegal he needed to exert his authority straight away. He thought it was a more feminine energy, but he wasn’t sure.
      No. Just tell her I’m sorry.
      I can’t if you don’t tell me your name.

      He felt the spirit withdraw. He tried to wrap an energy net over to catch and keep it. You started this, fucking come back.
      The spirit was too quick.
      Just like that, it was gone.
      For a moment, Johan felt an emptiness around him, a touch of regret, then his aura adjusted, and he began to feel more like himself again.
      He got out of bed, grumpy that something like this would put a dampener on what was a damn good day. Stumbling a little in the dark, he managed to find the black candle Nova had made.
      Cleansing.
      Clearing.
      She was right.
      He thought she was being cheeky suggesting this candle. Even though the recent events meant he needed a do some clearing work on his aura, he wasn’t about to admit to it. What just happened meant he needed this candle.
      Could she tell? Was her skill with seeing? He shook his head as he rummaged through the drawers in the kitchen hoping there were matches or a lighter. Even he couldn’t tell what Nova’s skill with the Magiks would be. He pulled out a box of matches and marched back to his room placing the candle by his bed and then lit the two wicks.
      Keep me safe. Keep me sound.
      Keep the monsters from coming around.

      A slender tendril of smoke wove upward from the burning wicks. He wasn’t sure if it would be enough to keep the spirit away, but worst case scenario it would make it a damn sight harder. If it did get the courage to come back tonight, at least there was enough protection so he could wake up before the spirit attempted to enter him.
      Johan took a deep breath, inhaling the smell of the burning candle with a hint of sage. This was going to cleanse him for sure. It was time he tried to deal with what had happened with the last case.
      But first, he was going to sleep. Then tomorrow he was going to have more fun with Nova. See how long that would last, then he would tackle his own issues. The thought of Nova got him thinking about her and her situation. At least he knew his skill, and it was nurtured as he grew up.
      Her mom sure did a bang-up job of suppressing her skill, so it was deeply buried in her psyche.
      He froze. Realization flooded through him.
      Was that who was contacting him?
      Nova’s mother?
      No. No. No.

      Johan’s gut twisted. The last thing he wanted was to have to deal with a spirit who was riddled with regret and fear, who basically abused a daughter, and who he was having a fling with, contacting him in an attempt to make peace.
      This is going to ruin everything. He ran his hand through his short hair. He had no idea what to do about this.
      One thing was sure, he wasn’t going to tell Nova.



Author Bio:

Lilliana is an Amazon Bestselling author, who writes romance in the subgenres of contemporary, paranormal, steampunk, and rural. She enjoys helping characters overcome problems, or issues, and the misunderstandings that often plague relationships, to help them fall in love. Whether it city heels being replaced with country work boots, or some magic beyond this world, or cogs and gears and corsets, each story shows how love can prevail.








Saturday, 22 June 2019

The Catnapped Lover by Rue Allyn


Title: The Catnapped Lover
Series: April Fools Duet Book 1
Author: Rue Allyn
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Rating: R
ISBN: 978-1-7335907-2-3


A woman, a man, and a cat. What could possibly go wrong?


What does a bet between best friends have to do with a kidnapped cat and a tumbled-down animal shelter? Nothing, unless you are Adam Talcott and you want to prove to your best-buddy that you can survive without access to your wealth and family connections. Adam would have succeeded too, if it hadn’t been for Dierdre Clancy and that blasted cat.

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Excerpt:


         “Adam Talcott, it’s my turn, and I dare you,” Jack Hunter challenged. “I double damn dare you to live on your own for two months.” The two men staggered along the street toward their favorite blues club, with Adam’s chauffeur-driven limousine creeping along behind.
         Adam loosened the tie of his tux then started on his shirt studs. Damned tuxedoes, even the best tailor can’t make them comfortable. But the tux was part and parcel of indulging his mother’s penchant for giving birthday parties. “Whaddaya mean? I’ve been living on my own for ten years.” Not quite as long as he and Jack had been trading birthday challenges. He fiddled with the fastenings of his cummerbund and tossed it aside.
         “No, you’ve had your own residence for ten years. You have servants, employees, and s-sy-sycophants at your beck and call. That’s not living on your own. You have money too.” Jack hiccoughed.
         “You mean I can’t live on my own and have money too?” The street spun before Adam’s eyes as he tried to follow his friend’s logic.
         “Unlike myself, you’ve never lived without money.” For emphasis, Jack slapped his palm at a non-existent table and tilted forward.
         Adam grabbed him before Jack could smack the pavement with his head. “I don’t get it.”





Hero Bio:

Adam Talcott was born rich. He went into business with his best friend from college and made even more millions. His methods may be unorthodox, but he nearly always succeeds. Now he’s been challenged to live for two months without any of the privileges and resources he’s known all his life. Adam is confident that he can conquer this challenge as he has all others. But he didn’t count on Dierdre Clancy and that danged cat.


Heroine Bio:

Dierdre Clancy grew up in a family of givers. Her parents were missionaries and often too busy saving other, less privileged people to realize how lonely and abandoned Dierdre felt. When she reached her teen years, she was shipped back to the USA to live with her Aunt Shea on Shea’s rundown farm and animal shelter. Finally she was in a stable environment with an adult she could count on. Dierdre went on to gain a degree in social work and took up the Clancy family tradition of helping others. Most of the time helping others was easy. But Adam Talcott broke that mold and every other box she tried to put him into. How could one man be so difficult to manage?



Author Bio:

Hi, I’m Rue Allyn, I write heart melting romance novels. Books about characters and adventures in which love triumphs at the darkest moment. The kind of hopeful, steal-your-breath romance that melts a reader’s heart. The type of book I like to read. Hope you will too.

Freebie:

Get a FREE download of Rue Allyn’s May 2019 release Forever Hold My Heart, a Scottish historical novella. Just sign up for her newsletter.










Friday, 21 June 2019

After Gardens by Katharine Coldiron


Title: After Gardens
Author: Katharine Coldiron
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Maya, a weekend at a hot springs with her boisterous friend Rhondey is just what she needs to move forward after her divorce. For Rhondey, it's an opportunity to help Maya cut loose a little, shed some of her inhibitions. Maya doesn't see the need to shed anything, and she's not looking for a teacher. But the more Maya clings to her privacy, the more difficult it is for her to recognize her true teachers...and the right moment to step free.











Author Bio:

Katharine Coldiron’s work has appeared in Ms., the Times Literary Supplement, the Rumpus, the Manifest-Station, horoscope.com, and many other places.









Thursday, 20 June 2019

Aldo by Betty Jean Craige


Title: Aldo
Author: Betty Jean Craige
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publication Date: March 2018
Publisher: Black Opal Books


Aldo is a mystery/thriller/love story in which a brilliant and dangerous ideologue attempts to eliminate a university’s genetics institute by holding the university’s president hostage.

On the same day that Isabel Canto, associate director of Pembrook Atlantic University’s Institute for Genome Modification, discovers she is pregnant with IGM post-doc Frank Marks’s baby, Pembrook Atlantic University’s president Mary Ellen Mackin receives a letter from “Aldo” threatening harm if she does not dissolve the institute and fire its director. Isabel recommends that Mackin refuse and not allow a terrorist to dictate what her faculty and students can research and discover, but this advice unwittingly sets off a chain of events that will change many lives forever—including hers.



About the Author:

Since graduating from Pomona College in 1968, Betty Jean Craige has been a teacher, scholar, translator, columnist, and mystery writer. She retired from the University of Georgia in 2011 as University Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. After retiring she published a Sunday column in the local paper about animal behavior titled “Cosmo Talks” and a book titled Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Gray Parrot. Then she began writing fiction. Her Witherston Murder Mystery series, set in north Georgia, includes Downstream, Fairfield’s Auction (First Place in Chanticleer Book Awards’ category of Mystery and Mayhem), Dam Witherston (Honorable Mention in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for Mystery, and Distinguished Favorite in 2018 Independent Press Awards), and Chieftains in Witherston (scheduled to be published in 2019). A suspense novel, Aldo, came out in 2018.





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Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Owen by Tony Riches


Title: Owen
Series: The Tudor Trilogy, Book One
Author: Tony Riches
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Presei Press


Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, OWEN is the epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience as he changes the course of English history.

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.

Excerpt:

Winter of 1422

I tense at the sound of approaching footsteps as I wait to meet my new mistress, the young widow of King Henry V, Queen Catherine of Valois. Colourful Flemish tapestries decorate the royal apartments of Windsor Castle, dazzling my senses and reminding me how life in the royal household presents new opportunities. My life will change forever, if she finds me acceptable, yet doubt nags at my mind.

The doors open and Queen Catherine’s usher appears. I have been told to approach the queen and bow, but must not look directly at her or speak, other than to say my name, until spoken to. Taking a deep breath I enter the queen’s private rooms where she sits surrounded by her sharp-eyed ladies-in-waiting. I have the briefest glimpse of azure silk, gold brocade, gleaming pearls and a breath of exotic perfume. I remove my hat and bow, my eyes cast down to her velvet-slippered feet.

‘Owen Tudor, Your Highness, Keeper of your Wardrobe.’ My voice echoes in the high-ceilinged room.

One of her ladies fails to suppress her giggle, a sweet enough sound, if you are not the reason for it. I forget my instruction and look up to see the queen regarding me with confident, ice-blue eyes.

‘You are a Welshman?’ Her words sound like an accusation.

‘My full name is Owain ap Maredydd ap Tudur, although the English call me Owen Tudor. I come from a long line of Welsh noblemen, Your Highness.’ I regret my boast as soon as I say the words.

‘Owen Tudor...’ This time her voice carries a hint of amusement.

I put on my hat and pull my shoulders back. She examines me, as one might study a horse before offering a price. After years of hard work I have secured a position worthy of my skills, yet it means nothing without the approval of the queen.

‘You look more like a soldier than a servant?’ The challenge in her words seems to tease me.

‘I have served in the king’s army as a soldier.’ I feel all their eyes upon me.

‘Yet... you have no sword?’ She sounds curious.

‘Welshmen are not permitted to carry a sword in England, Your Highness.’ I am still bitter at this injustice.

I remember the last time I saw her, at the king’s state funeral in Westminster. Her face veiled, she rode in a gilded carriage drawn by a team of black horses. I followed on foot as the funeral procession passed through sombre crowds, carrying the king’s standard and wearing the red, blue and gold livery of the royal household.

‘You fought in France?’

‘With the king’s bowmen, Your Highness, before I became a squire.’

The queen has none of the air of sadness I expected. Slim, almost too thin, her childlike wrists and delicate fingers are adorned with gold rings sparkling with diamonds and rubies. Her neck is long and slender, her skin pale with the whiteness of a woman who rarely sees the sun. Her golden-brown hair is gathered in tight plaits at the back of her head and her headdress fashionably emphasises her smooth, high forehead.

King Henry V chose as his bride the youngest daughter of the man they called the ‘mad king’, Charles VI. They said King Charles feared he was made of glass and would shatter if he didn’t take care. Charles promised Henry he would inherit the throne and become the next King of France and there were rumours of a secret wedding dowry, a fortune in gold.

Barely a year into his marriage, the king left his new wife pregnant and alone in Windsor. He returned to fight his war in France, capturing the castle of Dreux before marching on the fortress at Meaux, defended by Jean de Gast, the Bastard of Vaurus, a cruel, brave captain. The king never saw his son and heir, his namesake.

The siege of Meaux was hard won and he suffered the bloody flux, the dreaded curse of the battlefield. Men had been known to recover, if they were strong and lucky. Many did not, despite the bloodletting and leeches. The flux is an inglorious way to die, poisoned by your own body, especially for a victorious warrior king who would never now be King of France.

The queen has an appraising look in her eyes. She has buried her hopes for the future along with her husband. I remember I am looking at the mother of the new king, once he comes of age. One thing is certain; she will not be left to raise the prince alone. Ambitious men are already vying for their share of power and influence.

At last she speaks. ‘And now you are in my household?’

‘My appointment to your service was made by Sir Walter Hungerford, Steward of the King’s Household and constable here at Windsor.’

‘Sir Walter was one of my husband’s most trusted men—the executor of the king’s will.’

‘I worked as squire to Sir Walter for many years, in England and France.’

‘You speak French?’

‘A little, Your Highness.’ I answer in French.

‘Were you with King Henry at the siege of Rouen?’ Now she speaks in French.

‘I was, Your Highness. I will never forget it.’ I answer again in French. I learned the language on the battlefield and in the taverns of Paris and can swear as well as any Frenchman.

‘I heard the people of Rouen were starving... before they surrendered.’ Her voice is softer now and she speaks in English.

‘War is cruel, yet now there is less appetite for it.’

‘I pray to God that is true.’ She glances back at her ladies, who are watching and listening, as ladies-in-waiting do. Queen Catherine regards me, giving nothing away. ‘I welcome you to our household, Master Tudor.’

‘Thank you, Your Highness.’

Our first meeting is over. She is unlike any woman I have known, fascinating, intriguing and beautiful. More than that; there is something about her I find deeply attractive, a dangerous thing to admit. Perhaps my fascination is with the glimpse I’d seen of the real woman, the same age as myself, behind the title of Dowager Queen of England.

‘Aim high, boy,’ my garrulous longbow tutor once advised me, his voice gruff from too much shouting. ‘It’s not the Welsh way to play safe and wait until you have a clear shot!’ The man spits hard on the ground to add emphasis and stares knowingly into my eyes, standing so close I can almost feel the coarse grey stubble of his beard. ‘When you aim high,’ he points an imaginary bow up at the sky, ‘your arrow will fly far into the enemy ranks and strike with the full vengeance of God.’

‘Who, of course, is on our side.’ A daring, foolhardy thing for a boy like me to say to a man who can punch me to the ground or worse.

For a moment I see the old man’s mind working as he tries to decide if I am being disrespectful, sacrilegious or both. The moment passes. I notch a new arrow into the powerful yew longbow and fire it high into the sky, without a care for where it will fall.

I smile at the memory as I return down the long passage to the servants’ hall. Life as a king’s archer was hard, but I enjoyed the camaraderie of the other men and it taught me many things. As well as how to use a longbow, I learned to watch my back, when to speak up and when to remain silent. My tutor died in the thick mud of Normandy, yet his lesson serves me well. I know to aim high.

That night, wide awake in the darkness, I reflect on the unthinkable turn my life has taken. I always imagined I would become a merchant, setting up shop somewhere in the narrow, dirty streets of London, or perhaps an adventurer, sailing off to seek my fortune. I remain a servant, yet for the first time I have my own lodging room, however small and cramped.

My reward for long and loyal service as squire to Sir Walter has been this new appointment, a position of great responsibility. The queen’s wardrobe is a treasure store of priceless gold and jewels, as well as all her expensive clothes and most valuable possessions. Such a senior post in the royal household pays more than I have earned in my life and carries influence, allowing me regular and privileged access to the queen.

I resolve to become indispensable to her. High and mighty lords and dukes will come and go, with their false concerns and self-serving advice, yet I will see her every day, tending to her needs. I recall how she referred to Sir Walter as one of the king’s most trusted men. That is what I wish to become; Queen Catherine’s most trusted man.



About the Author:

Tony Riches is a UK historical fiction author living in Pembrokeshire, Wales. You can find out more on Tony’s website and his blog ‘The Writing Desk’. Find him on Twitter. Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is available in eBook and paperback on Amazon, where it is a #1 historical fiction best seller. There is a short video trailer for the book on YouTube.







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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Every dog has his day by Chloe Grace


Title: Every dog has his day
Series: Albertus Eagle Detective Beagle Book 2
Author: Chloe Grace
Genre: Cozy mystery, animal
Publication Date: 13th June 2019


They say every dog has his day.
Well, today I've certainly had mine.

Hey, I'm Albertus Eagle and it turns out I'm an unwitting pet detective. I haven't always been such a successful legal beagle, but when I'm confronted with a case that is so personal I can't ignore it, I discover I have a passion for finding those who don't want to be found.

Cleo the cat. Well, she came along for the ride too.

So, sure I've had my day today, but not in the sense of being past my prime. To the contrary, the fun is just starting. And I am buzzing with a new purpose, mixed with a tiny amount of vindictive elation.

Why?

Because, I've not only found myself a new home after the untimely demise of my previous owner, but I've also made amends with the cat. It turns out she's not that bad, really.

On top of that though, and this is what really sends shivers racing all the way down my spine to my paws, is that we've fingered a killer.

How?

Because you human’s, you underestimate us animals. And while you go about your business ignoring our very existence, the cat and I are listening and taking notes.

This is the first full length novel in the Albertus Eagle detective beagle series of animal cozy mysteries, starring Albertus Eagle, and his two sidekicks, Cleo the cat and Bella Schuhmann, the smart human who actually understands him. In this wonderful full length book packed with humour and satire, we see the world of murder and intrigue set up through the eyes of a loyal dog turned amateur sleuth.




Author Bio:

Chloe Grace is the cozy mystery pen name for romantic mystery author, Karen Botha. While she doesn’t understand animals quite as well as Bella in the Albertus Eagle Detective Beagle cozy mysteries, she does chat along to her rescue dog, Shadow, pretty much all day.

And she’s sure that he chats back.

Chloe lives with Shadow and her hubby in a small outpost of London city—funnily enough it’s a little like where Bella and Albie live. As a family they like to go on walks in the local woods and throw a tennis ball until their respective arms ache, which is usually before Shadow shows any hint of exhaustion.

While her first romance novels were inspired by true life events, the Albertus Eagle series are complete imagination – although her conversations with Shadow can’t be ignored.




Monday, 17 June 2019

Knightmare Arcanist By Shami Stovall



Title: Knightmare Arcanist
Series: Frith Chronicles Book 1
Author: Shami Stovall
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: June 18th 2019
Publisher: Capital Station Books


Magic. Sailing. A murderer among heroes.

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

A fast-paced flintlock fantasy for those who enjoy How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Unsouled (Cradle Series) by Will Wight, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

AmazonB&N

Excerpt:

         I threw down my sack of clothes. “Illia?” I trudged through the mud until I reached her side.
         “Look!” She pointed.
         I glanced up. A bright white creature sat perched on a crimson branch, sticking out like snow in the dead of summer. It wasn’t a squirrel—it appeared more like a ferret—with brilliant blue eyes and silver stripes down its back.
         Illia got to her feet, her dress half-covered in brown grime.
         “Is that a mystical creature?” Lyell asked as he walked over. Well, he wasn’t really walking. He lifted his leg high with each step, making sure his foot came out of the thick water before moving forward. At one point his boot got sucked off his foot, and he struggled to find it with a sneer on his face. “I can’t believe it. A mystical creature here, of all places?”
         “Hello,” Illia called up to the white ferret. “My name is Illia. What’s yours?”
         The tiny creature, no bigger than my forearm, tilted its head from side to side. At first, I didn’t think it would respond. Then it rubbed at its face like only rodents could and replied, “Are human parents trying to kill off their children through negligence nowadays? You three really shouldn’t be here unsupervised.”
         Although he spoke with an air of sophistication, his squeaky little voice made it hard to take anything he had to say seriously. I stifled a laugh.
         “Volke and I are adults,” Illia said. “But not Lyell. He was just going home. Right, Lyell?”
         “What?” Lyell said once he reached us. “Why would I go home now? Do you see that? It’s a mystical creature! In the flesh!”
         “Yeah. Maybe you should hurry home and report it to your father.”
         “What? N-no!” He straightened himself and then glanced up at the ferret. “Bond with me, creature. I’m a member of the Ren family. I’m educated, talented, and my brother is already an arcanist.”
         “I won’t bond with a child,” the ferret said.
         “What? But—”
         The ferret shook his head. “No exceptions.”
         It didn’t surprise me. Mystical creatures became more like the person they bonded to, and children often haven’t grown into their true selves yet. Plus, no one wanted to become immature or childish, so most mystical creatures waited to bond with individuals only after their coming of age. Lyell still had a couple years to go.
         Knowing the ferret wouldn’t bond with him also sent a flood of relief through my body. The last thing I wanted was to lose another arcanist opportunity to the Ren family.
         “I want to bond with you,” Illia said, completely ignoring Lyell’s incredulous look. “I think we would be perfect together.”
         The ivory ferret rubbed at his nose. “Bond with you, huh?”
         “That’s right.”
         “Hm. I see.” He bounded to the edge of the branch and hopped up and down. “While I want nothing more than to leave this wretched mire, I can’t just bond with any ol’ random person.”
         Illia glanced around and then cocked her good eyebrow. “Well, I’m not just anyone. I’m the talented individual who discovered your whereabouts. I’m your rescuer.”
         The ferret chirped as he hopped. But then he stopped and stroked his tiny chin with one of his paws. “I suppose you did find me. Though, to be fair, I was heading out of the mire myself. Finding me doesn’t prove much. Oh, I know! We’ll have a ceremony of worth. It’s only proper, after all. You have to prove yourself to me.”
         “Anything,” Illia replied.
         The ferret bounded across the branch again, his run a mix of jumping and scurrying. Then he stopped at the far end of the limb—the closest he could get to Illia, though he was still three feet above her head—and he stared down with a rodent smile.
         “But how shall I determine your worth?” he asked. “I don’t want to watch you parade around in the mud. Physical feats aren’t as impressive to me as wits and cunning. Oh! I have an idea. We should have a contest of character. You should impress me with tales of your past.”


About the Author:

Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrillers to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.



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Sunday, 16 June 2019

Injections of Insanity by Lorraine Mace ​




Title: Injections of Insanity
Series: D. I. Sterling Series Book 3
Author: Lorraine Mace
Genre: Crime – hard boiled
Publication Date: 13th June 2019
Publisher: Accent Press



Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling has just six weeks to solve a series of murders by insulin injection, with nothing to connect the victims except the manner of death and a note left at each crime scene.

The murderer, determined to avenge a wrong from many years earlier, gets close to his prey by assuming various identities.

Can Paolo win in his race against the pretender?



Excerpt:


Paolo’s perspective as he is brought into the first of six murder scenes

Week One – Friday 25th July to Thursday 31st July

Ah, bliss, the rest of the day to himself, he thought, just as his mobile rang. The tune told him it was Dave Johnson and he was almost tempted to ignore it. But he couldn’t. Dave would only call on a Saturday if it was serious.

He picked up the phone and slid the bar to answer.

“Paolo here,” he said. “What’s up?”

“Looks like we’ve got a murder on our hands, sir. It’s a Professor Edwards’s, apparently an eminent psychiatrist. His housekeeper called emergency services, but it seems the professor was dead long before she dialled 999.”
“What makes you think it’s murder?”

“The killer left a piece of paper in an envelope on the coffee table. The computer printed message says: ‘one down – five to go.’”

“Shit! I don’t like the sound of that. Where are you now?”

“On my way to the professor’s apartment,” Dave said.

“Give me the address. I’ll meet you there as soon as I can.”


By the time Paolo arrived at the professor’s penthouse, the forensic team were already in place.

“Who’s in there?” Paolo asked Dave, slipping on white overshoes so that he could enter.

“Barbara Royston and she’s not in a good mood.”

Paolo took his eyes off the shoes and looked up, almost losing his balance in the process.

“Maybe she was having a nice relaxing weekend like me and resented being called out,” Paolo said.

Dave shrugged. “Could be. I’m just saying, be careful. She bit my head off just for asking a question.”

Paolo grinned. “That’s normal behaviour for Barbara. Come on, let’s go in and see what we can find out.”

He saw the forensic pathologist leaning over a figure sprawled in a deep armchair and headed towards her.

“I hope you’ve covered up,” Barbara said, without even looking round. “I’ve got enough to do without worrying about contamination.”

“Hello, Barbara. Happy Saturday to you, too.”

She glanced back at him and gave a half smile. “Sorry, Paolo, this call came in at a particularly bad time.” She shrugged. “Sometimes I wonder why I do this job.”

“Because you’re good at it,” Paolo said. “What can you tell me?”

She glared at him. “If that half-hearted compliment was meant to soften me up so that I’d answer questions before I’ve had time to make a proper examination, you’ve wasted your breath.”

Paolo took a step back. “Whoa, calm down. I don’t know what’s eating you, but whatever it is, I’m not the cause.”

Barbara shook her head as if trying to rid her mind of an unpleasant image. “No, I know you’re not.” She nodded towards the body. “He’s been injected with something. I won’t know what until I can do a proper tox screening, but there’s a faint smell on his face, which makes me think he was given something to render him unconscious before the injection was administered. There’s very little sign of struggle other than the table being knocked over. I think someone came at him from behind.”

“Thanks, Barbara. When will you do the autopsy?”

“I’m not going to be able to get to it until Wednesday morning. I’ll let you know what time.”

Paolo nodded his thanks. “I need to speak to the housekeeper. I’ll come back and fill you in if she comes up with anything that might help you.”

Barbara smiled and Paolo was horrified to see tears forming in her eyes. He stepped in closer so that nobody would be able to overhear.

“What is it, Barbara? Can I help?”

She shook her head. “No, it’s something I need to work out for myself.”

“Okay, but you know where to find me if you change your mind.”

She nodded and Paolo turned away to leave the study, stopping when Barbara called out to him. He turned back, eyebrows raised in question.

“Thanks,” she said.

“Any time.”




My Review:

The third book in the D. I. Sterling Series has the same gripping and gritty style as the previous two.

We rejoin Paolo and the rest of the cast as they attempt to track down a murderer who is out for revenge.

Paolo is a well fleshed out and realistic character. I like the way he deals with his complicated home life and his work colleagues, as well as investigating a series of murders, where the victims seem to have no connection to each other.

The case has plenty of twists to keep Paolo (and the reader) busy trying to figure it out before someone else is killed.

This series is now a firm favourite of mine and I'm looking forward to the next one.


Author Bio:

When not working on her D.I. Sterling Series, Lorraine Mace is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers' Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions. A tutor for Writers Bureau, she also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service. She is co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of The Writer’s Abc Checklist (Accent Press). Other books include children’s novel Vlad The Inhaler – Hero In The Making, and Notes From The Margin, a compilation of her Writing Magazine humour column.








Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Wedding Crasher by Nikki Stern


Title: The Wedding Crasher
Author: Nikki Stern
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: May 8, 2019
Publisher: Ruthenia Press
Number of Pages: 340
ISBN: 978-0-9995487-3-8


A brunette in a bridal gown turns up in Pickett County, Tennessee, throat slit and ring finger missing. She’s the latest victim of the Wedding Crasher, a serial killer who murders women just weeks before their weddings.

Samantha Tate is Picket County’s yoga-loving, poker-playing new sheriff, a former Nashville homicide detective who struggles with her inner demons. To catch the meticulous murderer, Sam will have to follow her instincts and ignore her worst impulses. Can she stop the Wedding Crasher before another bride-to-be dies?



Excerpt:

The dead woman lay in the clearing like a macabre version of Sleeping Beauty. She was dressed in a long-sleeved, high-necked ivory gown, set off by luminescent pearl drop earrings and a matching necklace that almost hid the dried blood around her throat. Her head rested on a satin pillow, her silky walnut hair spread behind her like a fan. The right hand held a bouquet of wilted flowers and rested on her chest underneath the left, absent the fourth finger. The ring finger.

Sheriff Sam Tate stood to one side of the grim tableau, arms folded, and took it all in: the victim; the tall white-haired man who knelt by the body; the deputy who walked the scene in throwaway boots, snapping pictures; the pale young man in running gear sitting on a rock, head almost to his knees; the uniformed officer who squatted beside him.

Sam had dressed in her standard uniform of pressed black slacks and a spotless white shirt. A shaft of early-morning sun bounced off the polished badge at her left breast pocket. On her right wrist, she wore a utilitarian watch. Three small studs twinkled along one earlobe, her single visible concession to a rebellious streak. She’d pulled her unruly dark locks into a tight braid. Ray-Bans shielded her green eyes, though not the line that formed between her brows.

One of the victim’s low-heeled white pumps had dropped off to reveal a slim ankle in hosiery. Stockings, not pantyhose, held up by an old-fashioned garter. Sam didn’t need to look.

He’s back, she thought, adding a curse for good measure.



Author Bio:

Nikki Stern is the author of the inspirational Hope In Small Doses, a 2015 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist, and the thriller The Former Assassin, a 2018 Kindle Book Review category finalist. Her essays are included in three anthologies and she co-authored the interactive CafĂ© Noir murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Eight of her short stories have been published in various online journals and she was a Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch finalist for her short story “Long Away and Far Ago.” Nikki is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.







This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be two (2) giveaway winners. Each winner will receive one (1) Amazon Gift Card. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.


On Tour June 1 - June 30, 2019
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

These are the stops on the tour as of May 15 and are subject to change.




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Friday, 14 June 2019

The Red Ledger #7 by Meredith Wild



Title: The Red Ledger #7
Author: Meredith Wild
Genre: Suspense/thriller
Publication Date: 11th June 2019


No one else can stop them…

I’ve never loved Tristan more. I’ve never trusted him less. Is it murder in his eyes or just jealousy when he insists we’ll find answers in Boston, headquarters of one of our greatest enemies and home to the man I left back in Rio?

I haven’t forgotten Kolt’s betrayal nor the blood that’s already been spilled between our families. Inviting him back into my life with the promise of settling our unfinished business is a dangerous gamble that could end in more bloodshed.

But as his family’s twisted plan starts to unfold, nothing can prepare me for the horror of what will happen if I do nothing. More people will die, and every death will serve a dark purpose. Tristan and I may be an army of two, but one thing is certain—if we can’t save them, no one will.


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The Red Ledger, a binge-worthy suspense/thriller series with Wild’s signature erotic twist



Start the Series Today!

Red Ledger Part 1 is free. 

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Download books 1 - 3 as a bundle  

Reborn: The Red Ledger (Vol 1)


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"Meredith Wild effortlessly moves into the suspense genre, joining the ranks of James Patterson and Robert Ludlum. Thrilling, suspenseful and heart-stopping!"
-New York Times bestselling author Alessandra Torre

"The Red Ledger is Wild's most daring, suspenseful, and brilliantly executed work to date."
-USA Today bestseller Angel Payne




Meet The Author:

Meredith Wild is a #1 New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author. After publishing her debut novel Hardwired in September 2013, Wild used her ten years of experience as a tech entrepreneur to push the boundaries of her “self-published” status, becoming stocked in brick-and-mortar bookstore chains nationwide and forging relationships with the major retailers.

In 2014, Wild founded her own imprint, Waterhouse Press, under which she hit No. 1 on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists. She has been featured on CBS This Morning, The Today Show, the New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Publishers Weekly, and The Examiner. Her foreign rights have been sold in over 20 languages.

Living on Florida’s Gulf Coast with her husband and three children, she refers to herself as a techie, whiskey appreciator, and shameless sun worshipper. Find out more about what projects she’s working on next at www.meredithwild.com.





Thursday, 13 June 2019

Section Roads by Mike Murphey



Title: Section Roads
Author: Mike Murphey
Genre: Coming of Age / Mystery / Humor
Publication Date: June 8, 2019
Publisher: Acorn Publishing


When attorney Cullen Molloy attends his fortieth high school reunion, he doesn’t expect to be defending childhood friends against charges of murder…

In a small town on the high plains of Eastern New Mexico, life and culture are shaped by the farm roads defining the 640-acre sections of land homesteaders claimed at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Cullen and Shelby Blaine explore first love along these section roads during the 1960’s, forging a life-long emotional bond.

As junior high school band nerds, Cullen and Shelby fall under the protection of football player and loner, Buddy Boyd. During their sophomore year of high school, Buddy is charged with killing a classmate and is confined to a youth correctional facility. When he returns to town facing the prospect of imprisonment as an adult, Cullen becomes Buddy’s protector.

The case haunts the three friends into adulthood, and it isn’t until their fortieth reunion, that they’re forced to revisit that horrible night. When a new killing takes place, Cullen, Shelby and Buddy find themselves reliving the nightmare.

Murder is an easy thing to hide along old country section roads.



Advance Praise:

“An ambitious, evocative small-town tale located somewhere between Peyton Place and The Last Picture Show.” –Kirkus Review



Excerpt:


July 2009 Friday



      “I’ll ride with Buddy,” Shelby whispered. “Do you mind? It’ll give us a chance to talk.”
      “No, I think that’s a good idea.” Cullen lifted his eyebrows, which Shelby dismissed with a wave.
      Buddy stood a little apart from them at the Enterprise counter. They’d been through the greeting rituals. A hug for Shelby, which she returned with a kiss to his cheek. A polite, interested handshake with Lori.
      Cullen and Lori left them and began an hour-long drive through the agricultural blight of West Texas.
      “So, what’s the deal with Buddy?” Lori asked. “I know you worked together a long time ago, but you really haven’t talked much about him.”
      They drove along a paved road—an impossibly straight line heading north. Deep green alfalfa fields alternated with stubby rows of cotton and weedy, untilled soil bank every few miles forming a pattern replicating itself off into a horizontal infinity. Heat waves shimmered along the pavement. From the soil bank, dust and debris climbed columns of rising, swirling air.
      At the age of five, Cullen came to believe these thermal dust devils were pathways for souls fleeing to heaven. He believed this because on the summer day his grandmother was buried at a rural cemetery with brown grass and a few gnarled, wind-battered elms, one of these dust devils sprang from an uncultivated field across the road and as it grew—sucking dirt and paper and tumbleweeds along—passed over the mounded red earth marking the new grave. A spurt of dust leaped from the mound, painting a segment of the great undulating pillar a pale rosy shade. This pink apparition climbed as the thermal moved across the cemetery, finally disappearing into a hot, whitish-blue, eastern New Mexico sky.
      Dust devils always made Cullen think of the people he loved who were no longer alive. His mother and father rested with his grandmother at that same cemetery.
      Cullen had a ready description when his friends asked him about his home town. Arthur, New Mexico, along with hardscrabble oil patch towns like Hobbs, Artesia, Midland and Odessa, was located on a high plane called Llano Estacado which, Cullen originally speculated, was Spanish for something like really windy dry flat place.
      Occupying Eastern New Mexico and Northwest Texas, the region is characterized by hot blustery summers and even colder blustery winters. The wet part of the Llano received barely twenty inches of rain during a good year. “Arthur,” Cullen would note, “is in the dry part.”
      Bleak as they might be, the Hobbses, Odessas and Artesias of the world were at least plopped down atop semi-vast underground puddles of oil. Not Arthur. Not a drop. If tumbleweeds had been a cash crop, though, the homesteaders would have prospered.
      Arthur and Arthur County were named for Chester A. Arthur, America’s twenty-first president. Researching a junior high school history assignment, the most compelling facts Cullen found about him were that Arthur was America’s fifth fattest president and owned eighty pairs of pants.
      The community of eight thousand—at an elevation of four thousand feet above sea level—had nothing geographical, like a river or a canyon or an oasis, to warrant its location.
      Arthur just was.
      The flat monotony spread in every direction. “Given a clear day,” Cullen was fond of saying, “you could climb a six-foot stepladder and see the earth curve.”
      He often puzzled over the pioneers’ judgment. Certainly, more attractive locations waited further west. He supposed the settlers might have been tired and stopped to rest, thinking they would wait for a good rain to replenish their water supplies before they moved on. And when the livestock had all died of thirst, they were stuck.
      Still, despite this hardship, there grew a civilization defined geographically by dirt roads that formed the borders of all those perfectly square six hundred and forty-acre sections of land claimed by early twentieth century homesteaders.
      As Cullen composed his answer to Lori’s query about Buddy, he thought of those section roads, and all the ways straight lines and straight laces had twisted the paths of this small group of friends.
      “I told you about Christy Hammond, didn’t I?” Cullen answered. “The girl who was shot to death our sophomore year?”
      Lori gave a little gasp. “That was Buddy? Oh, no. And he went to jail?”
      “Juvenile detention. He pled guilty to manslaughter. They kept him until his eighteenth birthday. They took him away in November of 1966. He came back May of 1969.”
      “At least he got to come back.”
      Cullen gave a rueful laugh and shook his head.
      “No, that was part of the punishment. A lot of people thought he should have been charged with murder. They thought he should have been sent away for life. When the judge didn’t agree, half the town was furious at the injustice of it all. Christy’s uncle is a lawyer. He convinced juvenile court authorities to make Buddy finish high school here as a condition of his release.”
      “But why would they—”
      “It was their last shot at punishing him,” Cullen said. “They had a few weeks to give him hell when they knew he couldn’t fight back.”



About the Author:

Mike Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Their company produces the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort Myers, Florida. They love baseball, fiction, cats and sailing. They split their time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona. Mike enjoys life as a writer and old-man baseball player.





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