A Wicked Reputation by Liana LeFey
Series Once Wicked Book Three
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Entangled Amara
Publication Date February 25, 2019
Betrayed by her fiancé and her best friend, Lady Diana Haversham's reputation is left in ruins, and she is unjustly cast out by her family. Left with little choice, she agrees to pretend to be a courtesan to protect her benefactor's secret. What she didn't count on was meeting temptation in the form of one Lord Lucas Blackthorn.
Lucas is fascinated by the shameless Diana, whom his friends claim is his perfect counterpart. He can't stop thinking about her sultry smile and captivating eyes, but what draws him most is the sharp mind she reveals—and the certainty she's hiding something.
When Lucas learns the scandalous truth, Diana will have to make a life-and-death choice.
My life is over. Lady Diana’s hand trembled as she handed the paper back to her furious uncle, Lord Bolingbroke. Her fiancé had disappeared last week and, according to this morning’s Gazette, had yesterday returned from Gretna Green a married man. Lucille, her best friend--former best, she corrected herself—was now Lady Grenville.
Aunt Jane, her normally timid voice shrill, shattered the stifling silence. “I warned you what would happen if you lifted your skirts before his ring was on your finger!”
Diana’s temper flared. “And I told you it’s a lie! I never allowed—”
“Oh, stop it, girl!” snapped her aunt. “Everyone thinks you did, and that’s what matters. That, and the fact that Grenville is now lost to us forever.”
“I beg to differ,” Diana shot back, folding her arms across her chest so they wouldn’t see her shaking hands. “The facts matter a great deal. Aunt Jane, you’ve been with me to every ball, every party. When has there ever been an opportunity for me to behave in such a manner? You know it’s not true! You can tell all those gossiping old—”
“Not every party,” interjected her uncle. “Your aunt did not attend the Hancocks’ party with you a fortnight ago. Idid, and you were out of my sight for quite some time.”
The insinuation elicited a pain in Diana’s heart such as she’d not felt in years. She was accustomed to her uncle’s hard ways, but this was too much. In spite of the rage and fear coursing through her, she kept her voice calm. “If you will remember, Uncle, you went to play cards in the library with the other gentlemen and I was not permitted to accompany you. But I remained in the ballroom the entire time, as you instructed. I did not even visit the powder—”
“It matters not where it happened,” he said, cutting her off with a look of cool disdain. “Thanks to your imprudence, you’ve been painted in an ill light, and us along with you.”
Her gasp was a sound halfway between laughter and horror. “What imprudence? I beg you tell me so I may know what lie dares threaten my good name.”
“It is no lie,” he replied, narrowing his eyes. “Grenville told everyone you invited him to take liberties with you, and I know it to be true. Your aunt told me you let him kiss you.”
She let out an incredulous laugh. “I allowed him a chaste kiss the day I accepted his proposal. Nothing more! One simple kiss with one’s fiancé surely cannot be equated with ‘liberties’.”
But his expression remained unmoving. “He intimated it was far more than ‘one simple kiss,’ which you should never have permitted in the first place. That…among other things.”
Heat crept into Diana’s cheeks, and her heart began to pound anew. “It was once, Uncle, and only once. He’d only just asked for my hand, and you specifically ordered me not to discourage his affection for fear of endangering the match with—how did you put it? Ah, yes: ‘female frigidity’.”
Bolingbroke’s beefy face darkened to an ugly purple. “Insolent harlot! You dare cast my own words back at me?”
“I am no harlot!” Diana shouted, past caring. “And you were the one to speak them. Do you deny them now?” She braced herself as he took a step toward her.
Aunt Jane stepped in, her cheeks as pale as parchment, and laid a restraining hand on his sleeve. “Arthur, please—”
“Enough!” shouted Bolingbroke, shaking himself loose with a growl. “I will not tolerate defiance in my household. Not from her, and certainly not from you,” he rasped, shoving a fat finger in his wife’s face and causing her to flinch. “There is more to this than one kiss. Grenville said he’d heard tales concerning her lack of propriety on other occasions from several different men.”
Shock coursed through Diana, swiftly followed by anger. “What men? Who has spoken such lies?”
But her uncle ignored her outraged inquiry. “Being a gentleman, he had refused to believe them—until he’d witnessed it himself. It is an embarrassment not to be borne!”
“But she claims to be innocent,” pleaded Aunt Jane in a small voice. “Surely there must be some way to prove—”
His eyes widened until the whites showed all around his small brown irises, and Diana shook her head slightly, willing her aunt to be silent.
Bolingbroke’s voice was as cold as a cheerless winter’s dawn. “You dare persist in pleading this creature’s case when the stain of her scandal threatens to taint us all? Think of your own children, woman. People will talk of this for years to come. No matter what ‘proof’ is offered, there will always be the question. Even you confessed doubts as to her virtue.”
It was all Diana could do to conceal how deeply this revelation wounded her.
“But she is our niece, Arthur. We cannot—”
“She’s none of my blood!” he snarled, his mouth thinning to a bitter line.
Dread filled Diana, along with icy calm. She knew what was coming. Aunt Jane had been kind after her parents’ deaths and had loved her as best she could, but Bolingbroke had never warmed toward his wife’s orphaned niece. He’d tolerated her, but after assuming the title of viscount last year he’d become insufferable, always reminding her she lived as befitted a lady only because of his charity and sufferance.
Puffing out his chest, he continued, relentless. “I have a responsibility to this family, to my own good name, and I refuse to shirk it. You are to leave this house at once.”
“Arthur!” gasped Aunt Jane. “You cannot cast her out into the street! Think of—”
“Silence!” he thundered, sending flecks of spittle flying. “I will not be prevailed upon to house a wanton trull under my own roof!”
Rejecting the sudden impulse to crumple to the floor, Diana squared her shoulders and stood her tallest. She’d rather die than beg this man for mercy, if such a thing even existed in his cold, empty heart. “I vow before God I’m innocent of any immorality,” she said with quiet dignity. “You accuse me wrongly and will only add to the undeserved slurs against me by refusing to deny them.”
Beneath her withering gaze, he shrank a little. But it wasn’t enough. “I have little choice but to renounce you—for the sake of my own daughters,” he countered, but his tone was less strident than before. It weakened further as she continued to stare him down. “I do it for my family!”
Unbidden, a strangled chuckle rose up in Diana’s throat. “I realize you feel no personal obligation where I’m concerned, Uncle,” she said, placing deliberate emphasis on the familial title, “but despite your fervent wishes otherwise, I am a member of your family.”
Vicious glee kindled in his eyes. “Not anymore.”
Again, Aunt Jane risked censure to do what Diana couldn’t. “Arthur, I beg you to be sensible about this. If she isinnocent…” she trailed off, and for a moment Diana thought she’d fall silent rather than face his anger. But her aunt had more courage than she gave her credit for. “If that is not reason enough, think how others will view us. Remember that you are being considered for the Order of the Garter.” This time when she rested a hand on his arm, Bolingbroke let it stay. “As such, it would be far better to be merciful and be looked upon as overly kind rather than cruel and unfeeling.”
The silence stretched taut between them. Then: “Three days,” he said at last. “I’ll give her three days to settle herself elsewhere. Quietly.” He turned to again address her. “You may take what came with you when you go, as well as your clothing. I want nothing of you to remain in this house.”
“I assume that includes my dowry?” Diana heard herself ask mildly. It was almost as if someone else were forming the words with her lips. Satisfaction seeped into her, warming her as his face registered first surprise and then outrage. That’s right, you greedy bastard! I’ve not forgotten. “My father’s will made provision for seven thousand pounds for my dowry. You’ve held this in trust on my behalf. I am still unwed. As stipulated by the will, the moment you cease to be my guardian, it belongs to me.”
The plum flush returned to his cheeks with alarming swiftness. “Ungrateful little bitch! I have put a roof over your head and food in your mouth for ten damned years!”
But his rage was no match for hers. Diana no longer felt any fear, for she had nothing to lose. What good were clothes and a few pieces of furniture when one had nowhere to put them and no means to feed oneself? “Perhaps I should seek an audience with the king? I’m certain His Majesty would see the daughter of his dear friend, the late Duke of Avondale,” she reminded him. “Perhaps he would award you a fair portion to cover the expense of feeding and clothing a child for ten years—taking into account, of course, that the interest from my dower fund has been accumulating in your coffers for the entire duration—but I’m certain he would not ask me to forfeit the entire amount.”
His lips went white, slowly followed by the rest of his face. Diana knew his accounts would not withstand close scrutiny by the Crown. Even so, the man quickly recovered his bluster. “Do you truly believe His Majesty would tolerate someone like you in his presence? You can be assured he will have heard of your downfall.”
“Naturally, I shall request that the court physician examine me and attest to my innocence,” she said lightly. “And once my name has been cleared of the slander that has besmirched it, I shall protest your undeservedly harsh treatment of me and beg His Majesty to make me a ward of the Crown.”
“You would not dare!” he spluttered.
She smiled her sweetest smile. “In addition to reclaiming my entire dowry, the reinstatement of my good name would be well worth any embarrassment I might have to endure. You, on the other hand…”
“This is extortion!” he shouted. “I should have you—”
“Arthur!” hissed Aunt Jane, tugging on his arm hard enough to jerk his attention away. Braving his wrath, she leaned close, and Diana heard her whisper urgently: “If she petitions the Crown, His Majesty will hear her—her rank guarantees it. And she will have the right of it. You yourself said Avondale’s will ensured her dowry was well protected. And what if she should somehow manage to prove herself innocent? It would look very bad on you.” Her voice lowered further. “You would have had to part with the money when she married.”
Diana watched him struggle, his greed and loathing for her battling against prudence. His jaw worked, and the vein at his temple bulged as he tried to think of a way to rob her of her inheritance with impunity. She knew he’d never rescind his eviction—not that she’d stay now, even if he got down on his knees and begged her. His pride had suffered too much injury by her refusal to succumb to his bullying. “Aunt Jane is right,” she said quietly. “If you give me what is mine, I’ll have no legitimate grounds to petition the Crown. Or indeed to ever disturb you again,” she added for good measure.
He leveled his index finger at her, his fierce gaze belied by its trembling, his voice low and savage. “Three thousand, and not a penny more.”
It was more than she’d hoped for five minutes ago. She nodded acceptance, sending a silent prayer of thanks to God that he hadn’t called her bluff. In truth, she had no idea how to gain an audience with the king. Her father’s name might have held sway at court once upon a time, but ten long years had passed since his death.
“And another thing,” her uncle added, raking her with mean eyes. “After you leave, you are to have no communication with anyone in this household ever again. Is that understood? No visits and no letters. This family cannot risk further association with such as you.”
Though it pained her, she nodded again. Little Bellatrisse and Rowena were away visiting their grandmother and would not be back for a week. I won’t even be allowed to say goodbye, even in a letter… They were the closest things to sisters she’d ever had, and the thought of never seeing them again made her eyes smart. Steeling herself, she pushed her pain aside and focused on her outrage at his treatment of her.
“Well?” he demanded after a moment. “Will you not even thank me? I should think you’d be grateful for my generosity. A less kind man would have turned you out with nothing, regardless of your threats. I’d be well within my rights.”
Diana bit her tongue so hard she tasted blood. How dare he expect my gratitude for casting me out with only a portion of that which is mine to begin with? Still, she could little afford to provoke him further. Lowering her eyes, she forced the bile back down enough to say in what she hoped sounded like a meek tone, “Thank you.”
It seemed to mollify him somewhat. “That’s better.” He turned from her to face his wife. “A man ought to be more respected in his own household. I blame you for how this one turned out, Jane.”
Aghast, Diana tore her gaze from the floor to stare at her white-faced aunt.
Bolingbroke continued to berate his wife. “Had you done a better job of teaching her the importance of propriety, this would not have happened. I shall expect you to look upon this incident as a lesson to be applied to our own daughters whereas it pertains to instilling a sense of proper decorum.” He turned back to an infuriated Diana. “You’ve been bold here today, girl, but the world out there will teach you your place,” he said, jerking a meaty thumb toward the window. “I suggest you make good use of the time I’ve granted you, for it won’t be extended by so much as a minute.”
Oh, how I hate him! How could he blame either of them for something that hadn’t even happened? She wanted to rail at him, to claw at his eyes and tear the cruel smirk from his face. Instead, she stood in sullen silence, concentrating on the interminable ticking of the mantel clock, waiting to be dismissed.
“You may go,” he finally grumbled.
Turning on her heel, Diana stalked out and mounted the stairs on trembling legs. Upon entering her room, she closed the door and leaned against it, willing herself not to cry.
There wasn’t time to grieve. Three days. I have just three days to find a place to live and a means of supporting myself.
The money would be enough to rent rooms in a halfway decent part of Town and feed herself—if she were frugal—for a few years. And what good will that do? Cast out, my reputation in shreds, who will receive me? What man will consider marrying me? Without connections, how am I to make my way in the world?
Moving to the country was an alternative. The money would certainly last a lot longer there, but not indefinitely. And then what?
The question loomed before her like a great black cloud, obscuring all else. She could write and calculate sums, but neither of those skills would earn enough to support herself. No self-respecting mother would consider her for a governess once the tale of her “ruination” came to light. And none of the other feminine arts she’d learned at her aunt’s knee would afford her a living beyond that of the meanest poverty.
Three days. What could she do in three days except pack her things and sink into despair? I might as well leave now. She cast about, looking at the familiar room and wishing it was anywhere but in Bolingbroke’s house. Her newest ball gown hung on the wardrobe door, where her maid had left it to let out the wrinkles. She ran reverent fingers over the soft, petal-pink damask, noting how the diaphanous layer of fine gold silk covering the skirt panels made it look like a rose-tinted sunrise.
She was to have worn it to the Whitfield ball tonight.
Her aunt would have no choice but to sequester herself until the “harlot” had been ejected from their house, thereby restoring her to her proper place amongst the moral majority.
Why not go without her?
The rebellious thought was so ridiculous she almost laughed. But at the same time it was so utterly appealing that she was tempted. Sorely tempted. She’d give just about anything to be out of this room, away from this place. She eyed the gown again.
Why not? The invitation still stood, after all. No one knew her aunt and uncle were about to disown her. She’d wait until everyone had gone to bed, which ought to be soon, considering her aunt had already complained of a headache. Her uncle would likely closet himself in his library, nursing his beloved brandy, until the wee hours. Her hair was already done. All she had to do was put on that gown and get out unnoticed. The servants’ stair would work. She could hire a carriage to take her to the ball, which would not end until dawn.
It would be her last chance—her only chance—to ensnare a husband. No doubt that, like her uncle, many had read the papers and were even now drawing their conclusions, but she’d not yet been ostracized. There might still be a way out of this.
If I can somehow arrange to become truly compromised by a gentleman…
But hope’s flame guttered after only the briefest flare. It would never work. No man would offer her marriage under the current circumstances, not even after having taken her maidenhead. Despite her innocence, he’d deny it to save himself from the scandal of marrying a woman of questionable virtue, and then she’d truly be branded a harlot. A strumpet. A--
A prickly, unpleasant sensation crept across Diana’s scalp and slowly marched down her back. Now there was an option that would provide a comfortable life, for all that it would be a life of sin. That she’d even think of taking such a course showed the depths to which she’d already sunk.
Yet some courtesans become mistresses, and some mistresses eventually become wives. What if she agreed to become a gentleman’s lover tonight? And what if he then fell in love with her? As for returning the tender sentiment, she had no intention of it. Her heart wouldn’t be part of the bargain. Love was unreliable. People always broke your heart. Like her parents when they’d died. Like her aunt when she’d turned her back on her own kin. Like the fiancé who’d claimed to love her, only to betray her with her supposed-best friend.
Better to keep one’s heart to oneself than let it be torn apart.
She looked at the rose gown again. It was an enormous risk. If her first mark did not fall hopelessly in love with her and marry her, she would indeed have to become a courtesan in truth.
Can I bring myself to do such a thing?
A gleam of gold and a spark of reflected light caught her eye as she turned away. Her mother’s jewels lay on the vanity, ready for her to wear tonight. Bolingbroke might be willing to let her take furniture and clothing, but her jewels might be another matter entirely. Those, he could say, belonged to her mother’s sister—his wife.
She shook her head to clear it. Focus on the task at hand! If Bolingbroke decided to take them, there would be nothing she could do about it. Unless I wear them out tonight and never return. If this worked, she would send for her other things and hope he failed to remember them. She picked up her mother’s diamond necklace, feeling the cool weight of it in her palm.
Mama. Had she lived, none of this would have happened. She would’ve been presented two years ago and already be safely married.
As Diana clutched the jewels, a strange peace came over her, along with renewed resolve. Bolingbroke couldn’t take them before she wore them one last time, at least. When she was done, provided all went according to the half-formed and completely mad plan taking shape in her mind, London’s gossips would be telling another story entirely, one that would take the malicious lies that had ruined her and turn them on the very people who’d betrayed her.
Laying the necklace back down, she went and took the pink gown from the wardrobe and laid it across her bed. Next, she rummaged in her sewing basket and took out her embroidery scissors. With its lace-embellished bosom and a fichu, the pink gown was a very modest affair. Without those affects, however…
Her hands paused over the delicate lace, and she marked how they shook. Can I really do this? Can I deliberately set my feet on such an unsavory path? So much could go wrong. But the prospect of a slow decline into abject poverty loomed ahead if she didn’t take this final opportunity. Never again would she be received on her own by Polite Society.
Taking a deep breath, she began to carefully take out the tiny stitches securing the lace to the neckline.
Anything was preferable to starvation.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of A WICKED REPUTATION by Liana LeFey, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 3/1/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Liana LeFey
As a romance author, I delight in crafting incendiary tales that capture the heart and the imagination, taking the reader out of the now and into another world. Regardless of whether you choose to dive into the past, leap into the future, or lose yourself in another realm entirely, between the pages you’ll find deep emotional journeys and passionate romance! The splendor of the Georgian period (1714-1837) provides a lush, glittering backdrop for my sizzling historical romances. Between the pages of my early Georgian pieces you’ll find sensuous lovers, lavish royal courts, and deadly intrigues. My Regencies look back to an era of refined manners and strict propriety, while revealing the secret, wicked desires of its elegant ladies and courtly gentlemen. In my sci-fi romances, love transcends all boundaries and spans a future of endless possibility based on what we’re learning about our universe today. My fantasy romances will take you on a quest through realms both familiar and unknown, with characters and creatures from myth and folklore, and of course include powerful magic paired with that most potent of all enchantments: love. About moi? I live in Central Texas with my dashing hero/husband of nearly twenty years and our beautiful daughter. I’m also privileged to serve (and it is most definitely servitude) one spoiled-rotten feline overlord. I adore chocolate and just about anything involving the words “salted caramel.” When my brain is too fried to weave stories, I read (of course), watch movies or binge-watch television series, make jewelry and knit scarves. What do I read/watch? In addition to being a historical research junkie (there have been interventions), I’m a fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. Star Wars is the first movie I remember seeing. I was five and watched a double feature of Episodes IV and V with my parents at the big theater downtown…and came out wanting to marry Han Solo. Fed on bedtime stories from authors like Tolkien, Baum, and Herbert, I became a language-loving, book-gobbling monster at the age of four and have yet to be sated. The Kadin by Bertrice Small was the first romance novel I ever devoured. I was fourteen, it was delicious, and I’m now thrilled to be writing romance for fellow enthusiasts.
Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
Series The Palace of Rogues
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date February 26, 2019
A mistress. A mountain of debt. A mysterious wreck of a building.
Delilah Swanpoole, Countess of Derring, learns the hard way that her husband, “Dear Dull Derring,” is a lot more interesting—and perfidious—dead than alive. It’s a devil of an inheritance, but in the grand ruins of the one building Derring left her, are the seeds of her liberation. And she vows never again to place herself at the mercy of a man.
But battle-hardened Captain Tristan Hardy is nothing if not merciless. When the charismatic naval hero tracks a notorious smuggler to a London boarding house known as the Rogue’s Palace, seducing the beautiful, blue-blooded proprietress to get his man seems like a small sacrifice.
They both believe love is a myth. But a desire beyond reason threatens to destroy the armor around their hearts. Now a shattering decision looms: Will Tristan betray his own code of honor…or choose a love that might be the truest thing he’s ever known?
She’d taken two steps when he said, his voice raised only a little, “Lady Derring . . . something puzzles me.”
She halted. Closed her eyes.
Took a shuddering breath for courage.
Turned back to him. From the relatively safe distance of three feet, she said, “Surely not. We’ve established you know everything.”
His smile was small and patient. “You seem to excel at so very much here at The Grand Palace on the Thames. Yet you can’t seem to disguise how much you want me.”
About Julie Anne Long
USA Today bestselling author JULIE ANNE LONG originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up (and she has the guitars and fringed clothing stuffed in the back of her closet to prove it), but writing was always her first love. Since hanging up her guitar for the computer keyboard, her books frequently top reader and critic polls and have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Rita, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and The Quills, and reviewers have been known to use words like “dazzling,” “brilliant,” and “impossible to put down” when describing them. Julie lives in Northern California.
Hardest Fall by Juliette Cross
Series Dominion Book Three
Genre Adult Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy
Publisher Entangled Amara
Publication Date February 25, 2019
The tattooed demoness, Bone, doesn't like anything except the magical weapons she makes. But she has hidden talents few know about. When I was brought to her near death, she used her Seraph song to manipulate flesh and bone to heal me. But she wasn't happy about it.
Now I must return the favor. Even though she refuses to take sides in the apocalypse, there's one job she's not willing to do for the demon prince Rook. If she doesn't, her head will end up on a spike. The question is, what sinister plans does the prince have with this unusual weapon? And what plans does he have for her? Of course, there's a good chance we're all going to die anyway, but No matter what, I will do anything to protect this fierce woman—and not just because she saved me.
So, we're both off to kill a demon—or three—and possibly save the world.
No. Nothing’s fair in love and war. I agreed with the haunting lyrics by Fleurie floating through my shop while I leaned over a finished blade, etching a skull and crossbones into black steel. This fresh hell called the apocalypse hadn’t changed my mind about humanity. Or heaven. Or the underworld. I knew that humans were doomed eighteen hundred years ago when I watched them singing hymns as they walked to their brutal deaths. That was when I’d stepped down from Elysium—gave up its Light—and channeled my gifts into something more worthwhile. Arming the fighters, offering survival to the fittest, and taking no sides.
So here I was, finishing a blade for one of the Twelvers, a human resistance fighter. Last week, I sold to an angel warrior a specialized crossbow with my own brand of powerful ether ammo designed to incinerate any creature—supernatural or earthly. And tomorrow another demon would stroll in, wanting to buy my wares.
The revolving door of otherworld beings and desperate humans with a need only I could fill kept my hands busy and my head on autopilot. Just the way I liked it. Or at least, that’s what I--
I jerked, nearly slicing my thumb with the engraving tool.
I recognized the voice yelling my name from the front corridor of my basement workshop. A glance at the camera’s monitor above the workbench confirmed it was him, all right. Dommiel, a dangerous demon who recently switched sides—definitely the work of his angel lover—and one of the few demons I called friend.
Anya wasn’t with him, but I recognized the demon hunter George from around London—and from the time I visited his estate to heal Dommiel. Tonight, he helped carry the body of a human with a bleeding chest wound. Leaping toward the steel inner door, I unlatched and opened it wide. They were steps from the door, moving fast.
“Why are you bringing me a dead man, Dommiel?”
“Nearly dead, beautiful,” he said, voice unrattled as usual. He eyed the table at the center of my shop, littered with ammo and handguns. “I need another table.”
Heaving a sigh, I led them through the archway to my private inner rooms and gestured toward the high wooden table against the wall where I crafted harnesses. Sweeping it clear of scraps of leather, I stepped out of the way while the hunter lay the injured man’s head down gently. That was when I noticed the similarity in their looks—George and the nearly dead man. Not identical by any means, but I saw a likeness in the coloring of skin and golden hair, though the hunter’s leaned toward auburn. Same dimpled chin, chiseled jaw, high cheekbones, and long slash of a nose. But I knew this hunter was centuries old. This human couldn’t be--
Taking in the injured man, I realized my mistake. Because his lifeforce was ebbing away, I hadn’t sensed the low hum of otherworldly power pulsing from his body, pumping slowly through his veins.
“Who is he?” I asked, stepping closer.
“He’s a Dominus Daemonum,” said George. Master of Demons. A hunter, like him. “And he’s the last of my kin.”
I swiveled toward Dommiel, whose black iris rimmed in ruby red—the one not covered with a patch—stared at me expectantly.
“I’m not sure why you brought him here.” Gesturing to my shop, the blades and pieces of steel and leather stacked on every surface, I said, “As you can see, I’m not a healer.”
“Bullshit,” growled Dommiel. He thrust out his mechanical arm and wiggled his black steel fingers. “You can heal him.”
George spoke. “Look, I know you’re a seraph.”
“Was a seraph,” I corrected.
He swallowed, his eyes darting nervously to the unconscious man bleeding out on my work table.
“You have the power of inspiration. You can save him.” The handsome hunter’s desperate expression stoked something in that long-dead organ inside my rib cage. “Please,” he whispered.
“Come on, Bone. I know you can do this,” urged Dommiel. “Any price. You name it.”
Shifting my attention back to the injured man, I noticed that the pool of red seeping across his unusually crisp, white shirt was slowing down. His heart was pumping slower. Gripping both sides of the button-down, I ripped it open, still wondering at a man—a demon hunter—dressed up and groomed so impeccably during the apocalypse. Who did that? Apparently, he did.
The wound looked to be a clean stab through his left pectoral, right where his heart was.
“Who stabbed him?”
“One of Simian and Rook’s red priests.”
Not good. “Was the blade tinged with the demon princes’ essence?”
“No,” said George. “They were trying to kill him. Not take him as a slave.”
A demon used his essence to take possession of others.
“How do you know that?” I glanced over at him.
“My cousin Xander, here, keeps pissing on their plans. The demon princes, that is. They’re trying to get rid of him.”
I swiveled back to the man on my worktable. “Seems they were almost successful.”
“Yeah. Xander wiped out about twenty on his own, from what we could tell. Even with this injury.”
Impressive fighter. His pale chest, smeared with blood, seemed to grow even paler. I hesitated only one more second.
“Strip him,” I ordered, marching back toward my living quarters where I kept my suture kit.
Dommiel was the only one I’d ever operated on, and that was to attach his new arm. I feared what I’d find when I opened up this Xander. I wasn’t a surgeon. But they were right. My power as a former seraph had not diminished when I left Elysium—the home of heavenly hosts. This power of inspiration could be twisted into persuasion. I’d once inspired the souls of the lost to walk away from despair—before I’d fallen into that dark pit myself and come to understand its allure.
I now enjoyed manipulating metal and steel—much less difficult to manage—singing my song of creation into the metalwork, making it become what I envisioned in my mind. I’d only ever once sung my song to manipulate flesh and bone. For Dommiel. To give him back his arm. And the result had left me drained, exhausted, and…content.
By the time I’d grabbed my kit and wound back through my bedroom and small kitchen into the workroom, they’d stripped the hunter down to his underwear. Dommiel had a wet cloth and was wiping clean the wound.
“No.” I pushed him out of the way and popped open my leather bag. “It needs disinfecting. That rag could have all manner of bacteria on it.”
He moved over as I pulled out a bottle of antiseptic and ripped out a clean sponge from its wrapper. The bleeding had slowed to a crawl, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. The blood might be clotting, but it was more likely that he was near death, his heart pumping slower. I kept my instruments sterile, but I still wiped the scalpel with the antiseptic-soaked sponge.
“You keep a scalpel and surgical instruments handy, yet you say you’re not a healer?” asked George.
“Well, George. I hate to break this to you, but we’re in the midst of an apocalypse.”
“I’ve had to stitch myself up a time or two.”
Without glancing up at either of them, I set to my work, opening the knife wound wider with the scalpel, cutting deeper through the bone.
“Sponge, Dommiel.” He blotted the wound while I held it open with surgical tongs, delving deeper to see the damage. “I prefer working with metal,” I grumbled as I went back in.
“Why’s that?” asked George.
“Metal doesn’t bleed.”
Once I could finally see the damage done to his heart, I nodded and marched to the opposite wall where I kept my various lengths of wire.
“Not as bad as I thought.”
“Really?” George sounded more than relieved.
“Well, let me amend my statement.” I rummaged through the bins on the wall with blood-stained hands until I found what I needed. The finest alloy I’d ever come across—a blend of titanium, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and carbon fiber. “If this doesn’t work, he will certainly die. But his attacker’s knife cut cleanly through his left pulmonary artery and left pulmonary veins, not through the aorta.”
“But you can fix him, can’t you?” Dommiel’s confidence in my ability gave me pause.
I was well-known for my talents in the art of weapon-making. But he believed in my ability to heal, not just kill. Clearing my throat, I used my wire cutters to snip off a thick ribbon of the dark gray alloy. I’d never used my magic in the presence of anyone but Dommiel.
“I can,” I assured them both. “I’d prefer it if you left.”
“I’d rather stay.” George stepped forward with those imploring eyes, damn him. “If he wakes up or dies on this table, I want him to know I’m here.”
I wasn’t shy about my abilities. I’d just rather others not know the extent to which I could use them. It put my own life in danger, and Rook had already been sniffing around me again.
“Please,” George begged in a forlorn voice, one that tugged on that part of me that was more angel than demon.
“Stand out of the way.” I snapped a look at Dommiel. “Both of you.”
With a switch on the wall, I locked and bolted my outer door so we wouldn’t be interrupted by drop-in customers. Even so, I closed the door to my warehouse of goods, shutting us in the room, then I flipped off the camera monitor and the lights. Swiftly pulling my sage and camphor candles from the cupboard, I placed and lit them in the corners of the room, whispering the words to summon my magic.
“Respirare…audite.” I then summoned my song. “Et huc venerunt…mihi carmen.”
To their credit, the demon and demon hunter in my midst remained silent. Cupping my hands around the sheet of metal—cleaned with antiseptic—I held them before me over the open chest of the dying hunter.
The song found me fast and hard, as if it knew this was more vital than metalwork, humming from my core in a ripple of supernatural sound. I didn’t always sing in creation. I didn’t need to. Not for small tasks. But the song always knew more than me, recognized the need and the importance beyond my own understanding. I was an instrument, after all. A conduit for the seraph song. And though I’d stopped singing to save souls long ago, the song had not left me…when I deigned to set it free. It seemed more than eager now to help me save this hunter’s life.
When the voice rose up into my throat and I let loose the ancient words—the song of inspiration and making—a violent wind ghosted through the room, guttering the candles. Trembling with the power vibrating through my limbs, I held steady and let the melody pour into my cupped hands. An electric-green glow shimmered there, flickering up with magical flame, melting the metal and melding with my essence of song.
My voice rose with an ethereal melody, rattling the loose metal in the bins on the wall behind me. The green-glowing alloy snaked out of my hand and poured into the open wound of the hunter, seeping down into the cavity. I leaned over him and lowered my voice, crooning old words that had no direct translation in any human language. The closest I could come to them were…grow anew, love the flesh, mend the broken, make it whole.
My attention drifted back to the unconscious man’s face. His beautiful face. For there was no denying this hunter was gifted with profound masculine beauty. Taking the wet rag Dommiel had dropped, I wiped the dried blood smeared on his brow. Continuing to wipe his face clean, I ventured lower, my melody slowing. Wiping the broad planes of his chest and torso, the ridges of his abdomen, I noted the flesh of his gaping wound stitching itself together, the green glow dimming as it was swallowed by the closing skin.
Skimming the rag down to his legs, I continued my exploration, wiping every smudge of red, making sure none of the blood was a sign of another injury. The stains were all from his one wound or from ones he’d inflicted on another. I finished at his feet, the song leaving me, and I folded the rag onto the table. Placing a hand over his now-sutured wound—a thick red scar slashing over his heart—I hummed softly, feeling his heart beat strong against my palm. The ripples of seraph magic leeched away, fading to wherever it came from.
“Gratias tibi.” I thanked the power for its gift, feeling utterly drained as I smiled down at the demon hunter.
“Bone,” came Dommiel’s gruff voice from behind me.
Turning, I hadn’t expected to find the expressions they wore—of awe and wonder. And of deep gratitude.
Dommiel shook his head. “I never”—he stared down at Xander—“you never sang like that for me.”
I scowled. “The song does what it wants. I’m not in control.”
The demon smiled. “Your song must like him, then.”
That sparked even more ire. I didn’t know this hunter or care for him any more than I would a stranger on the street. It wasn’t my fault the song was enamored with his plight. I was about to rattle off a few choice words for Dommiel’s insinuation that I was playing favorites when George stepped forward.
Swallowing hard, tears standing in his eyes, he said, “I can’t thank you enough.”
“It was the—”
He raised a hand to stop my protests. “No matter. If you weren’t willing, he’d be dead now.”
Realizing I still had my hand on his bare chest, I stepped back. “What about Uriel? Your archangel? He couldn’t have healed him?”
George cut a swift negative. “He’s still healing from his own ordeal and from—” He thumbed at Dommiel.
“Yeah, yeah. From breaking me out of Simian’s torture dungeon. She knows.”
I glanced back at the hunter, still unconscious but breathing easier. “I’d better keep him for a day or two. At least until he wakes up. I don’t know if he’ll need a second…treatment.”
I wasn’t sure what to call what I’d done. That seemed close enough.
“Yeah.” Dommiel grinned and quirked his brow. “Seraph treatment.”
“Dammit, Dommiel. Only you could make that sound dirty.”
He winked. “Speaking of dirty…I’d best be getting back to Anya.” He headed for the door. “I left her with that Twelver, Cooper. Don’t like the way he looks at her.”
George scoffed. “The way all men look at a beautiful angel with blue wings?”
“Yeah. Don’t like it.”
The Twelvers were the human resistance fighters who’d banded together in this scary new world, determined to not only survive but to fight back against the demon hordes and thrive. I sold to them as well, willing to help out anyone who could help themselves. Hell, they were the underdogs. They needed all the help they could get.
George shook his head, turning to me. “I’ll be back to check on him tomorrow. Thank you, again.”
He followed Dommiel out, leaving me alone with the demon hunter.
While my wards kept anyone from sifting through my outer walls and doors into my home, I hadn’t put up wards to keep from sifting within my own inner workroom and living space. Call me lazy, but I liked to get to the bathroom in a blink if needed. I also liked to arm myself quickly if someone broke in to rob my warehouse.
Gently, I leaned over the hunter, scooping one arm under his neck and gripping his shoulder. The other arm I wrapped around his waist, then sifted with him in my arms, vanishing and reappearing in my bed. His legs were entwined with mine, my arm trapped under the weight of his upper body.
I rolled in a panic to get him off me and wound up straddling him. That spiked my adrenaline more, his warm bare torso heating through my jean-clad thighs. Scrambling off of him and the bed, I blew out a deep breath. He remained unconscious and unfazed by this badass demoness’s panicked reaction to being trapped in bed with a man.
Laughing, I shook my head, hands on hips. It’s not like I hadn’t been in bed with men before. Something about this hunter’s proximity sent my senses into a spiral. I’ll just have to stay as far away from him as possible.
Get him well. Then get him out of my house.
Yes, that’s what I needed to do.
Marching back into my workroom and to the blade that still needed finishing, I shut the door behind me.
“And definitely out of my bed.”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of HARDEST FALL by Juliette Cross, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 3/1/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Juliette Cross
JULIETTE CROSS calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home where the landscape curls into her imagination, creating mystical settings for her stories. She has a B.A. in creative writing from Louisiana State University, a M.Ed. in gifted education, and was privileged to study under the award-winning author Ernest J. Gaines in grad school. Her love of mythology, legends, and art serve as constant inspiration for her works. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance–brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.
Things that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry... That something is really, really wrong with me.
Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.
From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.
The benefit for the Red Cross was “dinner and a show” in a ramshackle tavern perched precariously on waterlogged wooden beams, hanging over the muddy edge of a lake. Joanna worked with women and children in refugee camps around Macedonia. Her boss, Elaine, in Washington, DC, had asked her to attend the charity event and given her two tickets. She’d begged me to come visit for the weekend and go as her “plus one.”
Jo had a habit of plaiting her hair when she was bored or nervous. Now she was hunched over her vodka tonic, fingers weaving, her hazel eyes on the handful of mousy intellectuals milling around the communal dinner tables trying to decide where they should sit. “And to think,” she said, “we could be somewhere else watching paint dry and having so much more fun.”
“Free drinks,” I answered. I was indifferent.
“Should we just leave?” she asked, sitting up bright-eyed and suddenly enthusiastic.
“If you won’t get in trouble,” I answered, openly encouraging a runner.
She wilted. “I might, though. If you help me kiss a few of the more important asses, I think it would be okay to leave in an hour.”
At that moment three men walked in, one of whom was very tall and, at least from a distance, shockingly handsome. I leaned in to whisper, “Is he on the list? I might be willing to volunteer.”
Jo leaned back and laughed. “Uh, no. I can guarantee you I’ve never seen that man before in my entire life.”
“Wait,” I said, noticing the man’s companions. “Isn’t that your friend Hillbilly Buck? From the American Embassy?”
“Holy shit, yes, it is,” Joanna answered, standing up and waving the trio over to our table.
Hillbilly Buck was our name for Mr. Buck Snyder, the whiskery, rabbit-toothed military attaché to the American Embassy who Joanna sometimes called to discuss the security of her refugee camps. We had christened him with the nickname Hillbilly Buck one night after he’d spent a long drunken dinner bragging in his Southern twang that, “All these Balkan women, man, they don’t care. You can say anything. Man, you can do whatever. If you’re riding with big blue you’re still gonna get your dick wet.” “Big blue” was Hillbilly Buck’s name for his American passport.
As we pretended not to be watching their every move, Joanna and I waited to see if the men would actually come sit with us. Jo reached over, touched my arm and said, “Thank you for coming. I’m so glad I’m not here alone.”
I’d been slightly reluctant to get on that horrible bus on this particular occasion. A clash between Macedonia’s Christian majority and the growing Muslim minority had resulted in a recent escalation of violence, and like everywhere else in the region, a fog of hatred and fury hovered over the quaint mountain villages like an industrial cloud. Macedonia was no longer safe for anyone.
However, Joanna hadn’t exactly twisted my arm to get me to come. I really loved visiting her and felt lucky that we had both ended up living in Eastern Europe after graduate school. It was, however, an uncomfortable five- to eight-hour bus ride for me, depending on how long I was detained at the border separating our two countries. Also, I was tired from work.
I was at the tail end of a fourteen-month Fulbright Scholarship in Bulgaria that involved teaching English classes at the University of Sofia while working on a nonfiction book. My days were comprised of writing, travel and teaching, and I was mostly happy.
I’d met Joanna Jasinski when we were both high school students on a summer exchange program in Spain. We’d had a shared interest in linguistics, making out with Spanish boys at discos, Russian and German philosophers and The Cure. At the time we met, we had both wanted to “grow up” to be interpreters, and we often spoke to one another in a hodgepodge of the various languages we were studying, infuriating and alienating others. For a long time, we were one another’s only friend.
She majored in international studies and became an aid worker, and I went into journalism. We were eventually both drawn to work and study in the former Soviet Bloc where we could put our Slavic language training to use, and over the past year we had visited each other more than a dozen times. We kept the wolves of loneliness growling just outside the gate.
After stopping to speak to a few people, Hillbilly Buck and the other two men began crossing the restaurant. I was able to get a better look at them as they moved out of the shadowy entrance and toward our table. Hillbilly Buck was never a handsome man, but next to these two he looked positively rodent-like. They were tall, broad at the top and slim in the hips. One was blond and angelic, with curls and cartoonishly huge blue eyes. The other man was the one Joanna and I had both noticed at once. He was strikingly shaped, with a cleft chin and shoulders like rolling hills. He walked with his eyes on the view of the lake outside, lost in thought or as if he were alone. Unafraid.
His brown hair was short on the sides and tousled on top, and he wore dark, neatly pressed jeans. His chest. I paused there for a second. His chest. It was a showstopper even beneath that horrible apricot-colored dress shirt. There was something boyish about his outfit, like a kid dressed up for his school musical. His classic features were more suited to a black-and-white photo, him seated at an outdoor French café with an espresso. His youthful attire looked wrong on him, and I remember thinking that if he showed up in my hometown of Meadowlark, Kansas, dressed in that apricot getup, he would be beaten to a pastel pulp just for walking in the door.
Annie’s sophomore novel and first psychological thriller BEAUTIFUL BAD will be published by Harper Collins/Park Row books in March, 2019.
Annie received a BA in English Lit with an emphasis in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. While studying at AFI, she sold her first short screenplay to MTV/ BFCS Productions. Starring Adam Scott, STRANGE HABIT became a Grand Jury Award Winner at the Aspen Film Festival and a Sundance Festival Official Selection.
After film school, Annie moved to Eastern Europe to work for Fodor Travel Guides, covering regions of Spain and Bulgaria. She remained in Bulgaria for five years spanning a civilian uprising and government overthrow. The novel THE MAKING OF JUNE, which Annie wrote with the Bulgarian revolution and Balkan crisis as its backdrop was sold to Penguin Putnam and published to critical acclaim in 2002.
During Annie’s five years in the Balkans she received a Fulbright Scholarship, taught at the University of Sofia, and script doctored eight screenplays for Nu-Image, an Israeli/American film company that produced a number of projects in Bulgaria for the SyFy Channel. She was later the recipient of an Escape to Create artist residency.
She lives in Kansas City, Kansas with her family.
Dangerous Distractions Book 3
by Samantha Keith
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Even good guys need to be bad sometimes . . .
FBI agent Nate McIver hasn’t been able to get sexy, impetuous Maddie Worth out of his mind since the last time he saw her at a wedding. If only she wasn’t his best friend and colleague’s sister. That’s about the only thing that gave him the strength to back away from the steamy encounter they shared. But now
take-no-prisoners Maddie wants his professional help. And with her life on the line, all bets are off . . .
Maddie’s overprotective brother may have had her blackballed from getting into the FBI, but he can’t stop her from conducting her own undercover operation—whether it’s between the sheets with unforgettable Nate and his abs of steel—or on the streets, trapping a notorious drug lord. And when she combines the two, the result is explosive for everyone involved . . .
A shiver of disgust rippled over Maddie’s skin. Her six-inch heels scuffed across the pavement and her feet throbbed. She scooped her hair off the back of her neck and dropped it over her shoulder. His hands had been all over her tonight—serious progress. But the second she got home, she was going to scrub her skin raw. A horn blared from the dark street ahead and a car whizzed past. The smash of a beer bottled sounded behind her. She didn’t turn around.
She dug her hand in her black shoulder bag that matched her skimpy, black dress and pulled out her keys. She enjoyed dressing sexy every once in a while, but prancing around the club with naked dancers on stage and bringing drinks to sleazy punks was not her cup of tea. But she was almost done. She’d spent two months laying bread crumbs, and the stupid oaf was finally showing interest other than wanting to take her in the back room and screw her senseless. She shuddered. One day, she’d have to sleep with Carlos in order to keep up the charade. Her finger pressed the unlock button and the headlights of her sleek, black Mercedes flashed at her.
She opened the driver’s side door and her bare legs slid over the warm leather. Goosebumps raced over the back of her neck and she slammed the door and locked it. She swallowed and closed her eyes. This assignment had her on pins and needles. It wasn’t like her other investigations in the past. This one was more than just work, more than putting a bad guy behind bars. This one struck a nerve. And if Carlos found out what she was up to…he would kill her.
An arm closed around her throat from behind her, crushing her back against the seat. Her heart slammed against her breastbone and her fingers gripped the black sleeve that surrounded her. Her chest screamed for air, but not a sound left her mouth.
She wouldn’t die like this.
She twisted against the arm, hurling herself forward, but he held her tight. Her fingernails dug into her palm and she shot her fist over her shoulder, connecting with his face. It was enough to loosen his hold. She
yanked his arm forward, gripped his fingers, and bent his wrist back toward his elbow. He yelped.
“Christ, Maddie. It’s me,” he growled.
Her gaze flew to the rear-view mirror. Fiery hazel eyes met hers. Her chest expanded on an exhale and she whipped around in her seat. Her eyebrows snapped down.
“Hey, easy now. I was only trying to help you. What the hell are you thinking getting in your car without checking the back seat? Are you trying to get yourself killed? Because that’s how easily it could have happened.”
Her anger settled to a low simmer. Nate McIver made her blood boil like no one else. He pressed her buttons, teased her, and worst of all, wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole. Oh no. Nate was too noble. Too
good of a friend to give in to the attraction that burned between them like a flashfire. And he wasn’t her friend. Barely, anyway. He was a coward and a jerk… but he was here. He’d shown up when she’d needed him. The
only one she could trust right now.
Samantha Keith resides in Saskatchewan, Canada, with her husband and brilliant daughter, who share her love of literature. Teddy, the family multi-poo, completes her family. Samantha writes steamy, fast-paced, romantic suspense novels in the rare moments she has uninterrupted—even interrupted, she manages to apply words to paper. Aside from her love of writing, her other interests include cooking vegan meals and creating recipes. Abducted, the first book in the Dangerous Distractions series, came in first place in the romantic suspense category for the Heartland Romance Authors’ Show Me the Spark Contest.
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Amazon * Goodreads
Justice For Breeze
Team Cerberus, Book 5
by Melissa Kay Clarke
Genre: Romantic Suspense
From the moment Asher "Finch" Finchly laid eyes on a Navy Officer when he was a child, his only thought was to become a SEAL. Every action he took was with the single-minded goal of becoming an elite special forces member. He vowed to let nothing get in his way.
Then one night of revelry changed everything.
Two years into realizing his dream, Finch suddenly found himself as a father. Now, there was someone more important than his dreams or duty. Love for his daughter taught him there was something more to life. He would kill for one of Lolly's beautiful smiles - and then the unthinkable happens--she and her mother disappear without a trace.
Raised in an isolated cult, Breeze knows only her simple life - farming, taking care of children, and paying homage to The Mother Gaia. When one of the members escapes with her daughter, Breeze agrees to go along and help, so she leaves her world behind to face the uncertainty of the Outside. Everything is strange in this unknown world, but nothing is more unusual than the feelings she has for the father of the little girl. He stirs feelings in her she's never known and makes her question everything she stood for. Could her entire life be one big lie?
Finch is happy to have his daughter home, but something is not right. Someone is watching her - waiting for him to let down his guard, determined to take away everything he holds dear. He's in for the fight of his life to get back his daughter and the woman who has stolen his heart. Lolly and Breeze are all that matters. No matter what, he will keep them safe or die trying.
"You don't remember me do you?" Her words were soft, and he barely heard them in the racket of forks being dropped and plates slamming onto tables.
Her words stopped him in place. Should he know her? He turned and searched her face. She was pretty, with large coffee-colored eyes, long lashes, a tiny upturned nose, and cupid bow pink lips that she gnawed absently. Her long dark blond hair was captured in some sort of hair thingy high on her head leaving long wisps to caress her face and neck. He saw a small beauty mark on her shoulder next to the expanse of her neck. He had a flash of pressing a kiss to that mark, but it was gone before he could grasp it and figure out what it meant. Drawing in a deep breath, he let it out and winced. "I'm sorry, I feel like I should, but I can't place you."
"It's all right. We were both pretty wasted that night." She threw her hand out. "Sarah Nolan."
"Nice to meet you, Sarah," he shook her hand lightly. "Asher, but you know that."
"Yeah. I do." She dropped his hand. Glancing at the name patch sewn into his uniform she muttered, "Finchly. I never knew your last name." She chewed her lip as she stood next to him saying nothing.
"So, where do I know you?" he prompted.
"Oh, yeah. Sorry, I sort of zoned out there for a minute. We met a couple of years ago at Shimmy. You and a bunch of your friends came in to celebrate passing some sort of test?"
In a flash, it all came back. Finch and the others had finished their BUD/s training and in celebration, had taken over a local bar. Images of Sarah wearing a short blue dress with spaghetti straps and strappy, high heels played through his mind. They had danced, drank and enjoyed each other's company until his memories became foggy. He did have a faint recollection of waking up in an empty bed in a downtown motel room.
"Sarah, oh yeah, I remember now." He pulled her into a careful half hug. "It's good to see you."
"You too. So, I was wondering if we could go somewhere and maybe talk? I've been kind of looking for you for a while, but I didn't know your last name, and you've not been back to Shimmy's when I was there."
Finch shook his head. "I'm sorry. I've been out of town for a while, and it's just not a good night. Maybe some other time? Give me your number, and I'll call you sometime."
She jotted down her number and handed it to him. He took it and stuffed it into his pocket before dismissing her. The truth was, Finch wasn't looking to hook up with anyone. He rarely dated, if ever at all. He knew he was a good looking guy and could probably have his choice of women, but his personal life was on a back burner for now. Instead, he concentrated on the military career he had been dreaming of since he was ten years old.
He was brought out of his musing by his number being called. Stepping forward to grab his food, Finch turned and saw Sarah standing there, wringing her hands and biting her lip anxiously. He gave her a gentle smile and stepped to the side. "It was nice to see you again, Sarah. Stay in touch, yeah?"
"Asher, wait, I need to tell you something."
"I'm sorry, Sarah, but I'm tired right now. Can we catch up another time?" He started to walk off when her next sentence stopped him in his tracks. It only took four words to change his world in an instant.
"You have a daughter."
Melissa was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and raised in Houlka, a small rural town forty-five minutes southwest down the famous Natchez Trace. She found a love of reading very early and quickly devoured everything she could. Told repeatedly that she had a wonderful imagination, she turned to scribbling her musings and wrote her first novel while in college. It was never published and has since vanished. The death of a close friend who aspired to become an author reawakened her own desire resulting in penning her first book, Shattered Dreams, published in 2013.
Melissa now resides in Meridian, Mississippi with her supportive family – husband, Robert and daughter Rebecca, two cats, and two dogs. When she isn't writing, she spends way too much time with her online friends and feeding her ravenous appetite for the written word.
Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads
Crashing Into Her by Mia Sosa
Series Love On Cue (Each book is a standalone.)
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Impulse
Publication Date February 19, 2019
“Mia Sosa delivers wish fulfillment with off-the-charts sparks.”--Entertainment Weekly
Relationships are a thing of the past for Eva Montgomery. Her current motto? You can’t spell “manipulative” without man. But Eva has needs, and a one-night-stand at her best friend’s wedding is the perfect way to kick off her new approach to singledom. Then a job opportunity puts her in the same city with the guy she can’t forget . . .
Anthony Castillo is a perpetual bachelor—no strings, just flings—a status he maintains by being honest about his intentions and never looking back. So why is he still thinking about the firecracker of a woman who rocked his world at his cousin’s wedding? It’s a question he refuses to answer, until she comes crashing back into his life, taking his emotional walls down with her.
When her father doubts her ability to make it in LA, Eva vows to go big and prove him wrong. With her athletic background, she’s an ideal candidate for stunt work. But first she’ll need training, and the instructor is none other than her former hookup, Anthony Castillo. Except he’s not as cocky as she remembers and he’s definitely still sexy as sin. The only problem is . . . Anthony doesn’t want her anywhere near his stunt school—or his heart.
I send a quick update to Tori and Ashley. The latter responds with a combo of thumbs-up and heart-eyes emojis. The former sends a two-word reply: Hang on. In the meantime, I hustle behind a dozen or so people waiting for cabs.
Tori sends a longer text a minute later:
Anthony’s at the airport. He just dropped off my parents and Bianca. They’re heading to NYC for sightseeing. He can pick you up outside the terminal and take you to the hotel. Says he’s coming around again and will look for you. Ok, Carter’s giving me some serious side-eye. Going on airplane mode. Love you.
A heavy weight settles in my belly when I finish reading her message. Shit. Tori’s cousin—I’ve secretly dubbed him the square root of Thor—is the last person I want to see. My hand flies to the unruly strands on my head. Argh. This hair travesty alone is spiking my blood pressure, which doesn’t bode well for him. When I’m not at my personal best, I’m more irritable than usual, and judging by our interaction this weekend, Anthony’s very presence makes me cranky. This should be fun for everyone involved.
It isn’t long before he finds me. In truth, I spot him first and duck my head, giving me a minute to watch him as he rounds his rental car and surveys the line, his eyes hidden behind silver lens aviators that are pure overkill given that sunset is fast approaching. To me, a white T-shirt and jeans typically read basic; on him, they add dimension to his appearance, emphasizing the assured, relaxed way he carries himself. And although I’m aware there’s no correlation between the size of a man’s hands and the girth of his penis, I still glance at his long fingers—for pseudoscience. The man’s an eggplant emoji, for sure.
He shouts to get my attention, his smoky voice pulling my mind out of its permanent residence in the trash bin.
“Eva! Over here!”
The woman in front of me twists her upper body around and meets my gaze. “Dayum. Are you Eva?”
Stifling the urge to laugh, I nod.
“No offense, but I’m considering stealing your identity,” she says.
Ha. Imagine how she’d react if I told her he’s a Hollywood stunt professional. She’d probably shank me. “No offense taken, and yeah, I know what you mean.”
Because yes, there’s no denying the man’s physical gifts: broad shoulders, dark brown wavy hair that’s a smidge too long for my liking, and full lips that probably predispose him to better-than-competent-kisser status. He’s a mishmash of muscles and scruff, but in a refined package, like the construction worker in a music video who struts around with manicured hands, spotless jeans, and a single, perfect streak of dirt across his cheek. All of this means Anthony takes up more than his fair share of physical space in my mind’s eye, not because he’s huge—although he is big considering my five-foot-two frame—but because there’s so much to absorb when I look at him that I trick myself into giving him a larger blueprint. Oddly, no single trait stands out from the rest; rather, it’s the totality of the man that holds my attention hostage. Free me, damn you.
It’s been this way since I met him a few days ago. In that moment, the idea of a hookup planted itself in my brain, an unfortunate and all too common occurrence when a sexually frustrated woman gives up on pricks but still wants dick. But then Tori warned me against pursuing him, explaining that he’s “emotionally unavailable,” whatever that means, and I grudgingly backed away. In short, bitches before itches. Still, the thirst is strong with this one. Until he opens his mouth, that is.
Since I can’t ogle him forever, I step out of line and give him a weak wave, readjusting the strap of my bag across my body.
He saunters over to meet me, a lopsided grin broadcasting that he’s poised to say something annoying. “Philadelphia decided it couldn’t handle you either, huh?”
And this is the crux of the problem: He speaks. What I wouldn’t give for a roll of duct tape. I’d use it on his mouth and anywhere with a surplus of hair. His crotch, probably. “Ahhh, so that’s what happened. You decided you couldn’t handle me.” I scan him from his head to the tops of his derby shoes. “Makes sense. I spy a lightweight.”
Folding his thick arms over his impressive chest, he takes a step back and tilts his head. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why the hostility, Eva? I thought we were friends.”
“We’re acquaintances, not friends, and I’m good with that.”
He pouts at me and runs his index finger from his lower eyelid down to the hollow of his cheek. Sad face. I press my lips together, refusing to laugh at his antics even though that’s exactly what I’d do if our roles were reversed. When he gets no reaction from me, he lowers his arm and sighs. “Not interested in being my friend because . . . ?”
I give him a halfhearted shrug. “Not sure, exactly. You just rub me the wrong way.”
He leans in and waggles his eyebrows. “Teach me how to rub you the right way, then.”
The epiphany smacks me upside my head: Anthony’s my male counterpart. As evidenced by the swagger, the self-confidence—in his case, it’s overconfidence—and the mouth that must have the last word, no matter how inappropriate it may be. There’s only room for one of me in my life, however, and if I were looking for someone to balance out my ridiculousness, this man would fail miserably. On one end of the spectrum is a shy, quiet type who’ll cower in the center of my tornado; on the other end of the spectrum is someone like Anthony, who’ll grab the funnel with his bare hands and swing it around in the hopes of wreaking even more havoc. Neither one will do. Well, given my abysmal track record when it comes to men, no one will do.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t extract a little fun from the situation. So I drop my bag, round the front of his rental car, and hop onto the hood, resting my feet on the bumper and spreading my legs wide. Waving him over, I say, “You want to learn how to rub me the right way? Go ahead. Break me off a little something right here and show me what we’re working with.”
I raise my face toward the sky and close my eyes. A woman somewhere in the vicinity cackles. Car horns blare with impatience as drivers try to navigate the airport traffic. Anthony, however, doesn’t say a word. I drop my head and open one eye to sneak a peek at his reaction. But he’s not in my line of sight. Someone else is, though—and the scowl on his face suggests he isn’t friendly at all.
Fuck me sideways twice.
From CRASHING INTO HER. Used with permission of Avon Impulse. Copyright © 2019 by Mia Sosa.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of CRASHING INTO HER by Mia Sosa, we’re giving away three paperback copies of the book!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will each receive a paperback copy of Crashing Into Her by Mia Sosa. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 3/3/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Mia Sosa
MIA SOSA was born and raised in New York City. She attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications and met her own romance hero (spoiler alert: she married him). Mia once dreamed of being a professional singer, but practical considerations (read: the need to generate income) led her to take the law school admissions test instead.
A graduate of Yale Law School, Mia practiced First Amendment and media law in the nation’s capital for ten years before returning to her creative roots. Now she spends most of her days writing contemporary romances about smart women and the complicated men who love them. Mia lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters and will forever be on the hunt for the perfect karaoke bar.
Cold-Blooded by Kendall Grey
Series Ohana Book Two
Genre Adult Supernatural Suspense
Publisher Howling Mad Press
Publication Date February 19, 2019
As the toughest son with the fewest morals, Manō Alana promised his mother that he’d protect his siblings. Since her death, he’s embraced his role as the family heavy, but killing is the one part of his job he hates. And the awful nightmares driving him to commit violence aren’t doing him any favors—nor is the sinister, ancient magic calling to him from under the slopes of a dormant volcano.
A shakeup in power between rival drug lords reveals a half brother Manō didn’t know he had, complicating the Alana family’s plans to take over the marijuana trade on Maui. Not only that, but one wrong move could turn the sexy cop he’s involved with against the family.
When a crime the Alanas fought hard to bury is exposed, their whole cartel is in danger. Now Manō’s blood has him trapped between two clans: the siblings he’s loved since they were kids, and the ruthless, shadowy kin he just learned he has.
Manō can either succumb to the darkness threatening to drag him under or tap in to its power and embrace his role as a cold-blooded killer.
About Kendall Grey
A whale warrior, indie freedom fighter, and vodka martini aficionado, KENDALL GREY is calm like an F-bomb*. She writes about fierce women and the men who love them. Her aliases include Kendall Day (FALLING FOR MR. SLATER) and Seven Slade (COMING OUT).
Kendall lives off a dirt road near Atlanta, Georgia, with three mischievous Demonlings, a dashing geek in cyber armor, a long-haired miniature Dachshund that thinks she’s a cat, and an Aussie shepherd mix whose ice-blue eyes will steal your heart and hold it for ransom.
*Detonation manual not included.
The Montgomery Ink: Colorado Springs series continues with a couple fighting to keep what they thought they had and gain what they didn’t know they needed.
Roxie Montgomery met her soul mate when she least expected it. When he asked her to marry her, she thought her happily ever after was only just beginning. Then, she found that walking into the sunset was much harder than her favorite books made it out to be. After a crushing loss, she feels as though she doesn’t know her husband anymore, or rather…she doesn’t know herself.
Carter Marshall has loved Roxie since the first time he saw her. But as the days pass between them, so does the distance. He doesn’t know how to show her that he’s all in, and honestly doesn’t know if she’s in at all. When an accident changes everything, they’ll have to decide if what they have can be salvaged, or if starting over is the answer. Or even possible.
Without fighting, without a true new beginning, sometimes, the remnants of what was lost can leave anyone jagged, shells of what they were before. It will take more than the idea of forever for Roxie and Carter to find themselves again, but as the Montgomerys know, nothing worth fighting for is easy.
They still had a couple of hours before bed, but neither of them commented on that. They were just going to go their separate ways, a prelude to what would happen as soon as Carter was completely healed.
Roxie gave him a tight nod and then went upstairs. He did his best not to look at her. Because when he looked at her, he ached.
Because he missed his wife. He missed her smile, he missed everything about her.
He missed the way she would laugh at something inane and then bury her face in her hands because she knew that it was silly to laugh at it.
He missed her touch, her taste. Yeah, he missed sex, but it wasn’t like they’d had sex recently. They used to have their hands on each other all the time.
And then she’d stopped talking.
She’d stopped smiling.
And he couldn’t figure out how to make her do either of them again. He’d tried, but it hadn’t worked.
And then, eventually, he’d stopped trying altogether.
And she hadn’t done anything about it.
So, this was his fault. Because he had tried, and he’d failed. It would always be his fault.
About Carrie Ann RyanCarrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.
Crazy on You
A Love and Harmony Romance #3
by Crystal B. Bright
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 2/12/2018
Worse than a one-hit wonder, Tassia Hogan is a one-line wonder. Infamous for a memorable, extremely provocative verse, her music career is going nowhere. Finding a decent man to date has also proven fruitless . . . they all think she’s as wanton as those lyrics. But now her label is offering Tassia the chance to shine—with a catch. The album is duets. Her partner is a Country Western singer. And he’s just as reluctant to agree as she is.
Hyde Love has been in the music business since he was eleven, and he’s becoming more and more disenchanted with it. Collaborating on an album seems great in theory, but Tassia is an R&B singer. Melding their sounds and personalities will be difficult—though not as tough as keeping things strictly business. Getting involved with his partner could prove career-wrecking, yet discovering the real Tassia could be earth-shattering.
Tassia Hogan sat in a makeshift director’s chair that reminded her of the chairs on the set of the TV show she had done as a pre-teen called the Ratty Rat’s Fun Crew. Fifteen years later and she still liked to sit in the taut cloth seat with her leg draped across the arm, leaned back against the stretched black fabric. Anything that relaxed her before a show fit the bill right now.
Since she sat backstage with Aaron’s back-up singers and dancers, she felt comfortable with this group. She wore black shorts along with her black leather bra until showtime. Then she would swap the shorts for a matching black leather skirt and heels that would kill her feet as she danced around in them for over an hour on stage. Thankfully, tonight would be the last show on the tour.
The limber dancers all stretched in different corners of the room. Even in a room far away from the main arena area, Tassia heard the crowds all chanting Aaron’s name, which sucked for the opening act on stage at the moment. She could relate. Tassia knew full well that the sold-out arena full of people would have their full, undivided attention on the headliner, Aaron. She just happened to sing a hook on his latest hit song. One day she would gain some respect and have fans of her own. Now that enough time had been put between her and that kids’ show, she could start making a name for herself.
Tassia rarely gave her attention to the generally foul-mouthed crew that surrounded her.
Most times the backstage area sounded more like a teenager-filled locker room than a room full of professionals working for one of the highest-paid rappers in the game. When she heard the expletive she didn’t flinch. Like she did at ten years old when she had worked on the show, she swung her leg back and forth. Then she heard her name.
“I can’t believe they still play this show.”
The hairs stood on the back of Tassia’s neck as she dared to bring her attention to the wide-screen TV that hung on the wall. It didn’t take her long to notice the taped opening to Ratty Rat’s Fun Crew where she and five other children danced around a man dressed in a rat costume.
A rat. Why the hell did it have to be a rat of all things?
“Aww, Tassia, you were so cute.” A female dancer put her hand to her chest.
“Yeah, look at those pigtails.” A back-up singer pointed to the screen.
Tassia didn’t need to look. She knew what she looked like. For a year, the show pressed her natural hair using a blow dryer and a hot comb so that she could achieve her straight-hair look. With all the dancing she did on the show, by the end of the day, the sweat that had poured from her reverted her hair back to its naturally wavy pattern.
Thankfully with wigs now, she didn’t worry about her hair, still in its natural state. Pretty soon she would see a stylist to get cornrows in her hair to get ready for her vacation. Fuss-free hair on a drama-free vacation.
Although she fought hard to avoid looking at the screen, her gaze fell on one of her kiddie co-stars. Tassia remembered Hyde Love being shy and quiet.
As though a back-up singer had read her thoughts, the woman said, “I can’t believe that chubby kid turned out to be the biggest star out there.”
She turned to Tassia, who now had to bring her leg down and squeeze them together when that familiar school-girl crush returned. “Did you know he would blow up like he has?”
Tassia shook her head. “We were kids. We didn’t know what would happen in the future.”
Yes, she wouldn’t have known that this man would stab her in the back, not once, but twice. It was too bad because at one time, she completely thought the world of him.
Even angels have their demons
Jordan Reiss is well aware that if she was on fire the entire town of Oak Creek would probably go inside and make a sandwich. She can’t blame them. Her father scammed half the town out of their retirement funds, and then she…
She did so much worse.
She doesn’t expect forgiveness. But she’s back in town with no other options and just wants to be left alone to live on the fierce Wyoming land she’s missed so much during her six years in prison.
Former Navy SEAL Gabriel Collingwood's callsign may have been Angel, but he'll be anything but to protect his sister. Especially from a pretty ex-con who has somehow weaseled her way into a job at his sister’s new bakery.
He doesn't trust Jordan, even with her big gray eyes and quiet smile.
But when someone decides its time for Jordan to leave Oak Creek--preferably in a body bag—Gabe will have to put his distrust aside.
Jordan needs her own guardian angel. And he happens to be one.
Jordan Reiss and her destiny shattered my heart. Janie Crouch continues the Linear Tactical series with another strong female lead, Jordan, whom I admired while wanting to hug her, fight for her, defend her, and be her friend. Her life has never been easy, the obstacles and challenges on her way either accidents or fault of others, yet she takes the responsibility for them, makes the liability her own, the goal of her life to make restitution for those her father has wronged.
The way the townfolks treat Jordan had me in tears. All the feels come to the surface and the injustice towards Jordan made me want to take action. But through all the trouble, attacks, and aggression she experiences, she stands strong, tough, humble, and kindhearted.
I adored the joy Gabriel Collingwood brought to Jordan, all the firsts they experience together melted my heart. Their story is filled with passion, adoration, sweetness, and admiration.
Gabriel, the former Navy SEAL, is everything Jordan needs in her life, he is tough, protective, kind, caring, generous, and considerate. The only thing lacking is the one thing Jordan needs the most, being able to trust, blindly, at times. He's in a crossroads in his life, wanting a new direction with the family company, and his own future career, after being ruthlessly betrayed by the people closest to him (read the previous book, Shamrock, in the series), and from that foundation, I could understand and even accept some of his actions and reactions towards the things happening around Jordan. I was able to relate to those deep wounds he has, the lack of faith in the fellow humans, after being so crossly embezzled. But his own experiences pale in the light of what Jordan faces next, and he can only hope they will be able to rescue her, even if she will never be able to forgive him.
When the fierce, detrimental, vehement action and suspense meets the fervent, heartfelt, adorable love story all the feels are in the play, the emotions run rapid, and the tears, laughs, sighs, and even good oldfashioned swooning happen. I loved every aspect of the story, it was easy to immerse into, the characters are likable, relatable, people I wanted to spend time with and invest my emotions in.
Jordan and Gabriel have to go through some rather deep and dark alleys to find the sunny, peaceful meadows in their lives, yet each moment of that journey is worth the growth and development their experience on the way.
A breathtakingly beautiful love story mixed with lethal suspense, a heartbreaking tale of new beginnings and forgiveness.
Linear Tactical is proving to be a must-read series, each installment as strong and powerful read as the last one.
~ Five Spoons
Release Blitz for SEDUCTIVE Anthology by Brea Viragh, Donna Mercer, Jade C. Jamison, Krista Ames, M.C. Cerny, Marlow Kelly, Michelle De Leon, RaeAnne Hadley
SEDUCTIVE Anthology by Various Authors
Series n/a; anthology
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Pure Textuality PR
Publication Date February 12, 2019
EIGHT STEAMY ROMANCE READS.
ONE ANTHOLOGY YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS.
Pure Textuality PR is proud to present SEDUCTIVE, an anthology which speaks directly to the romance lover in all of us. Featuring eight of today's best romantic storytellers, this anthology promises to deliver the love stories you crave.
Blitz Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of the SEDUCTIVE anthology, we’re giving away one $100 Amazon gift card and five paperback copies of the anthology!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. Five winners will each be chosen to win a paperback copy of the anthology. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR. Giveaway ends 3/31/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. By entering, you agree to sign up for the newsletters of the eight participating authors and Pure Textuality PR’s reader newsletter. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
SEDUCTIVE Story: Hold My Heart
BREA VIRAGH is a contemporary and paranormal romance writer based in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is a proud Gryffindor, a graduate of Brakebills, and a member of Fairy Tail. When she isn’t writing and daydreaming about her newest project, her hobbies include binge-watching HGTV, scouring thrift shops for goodies, and maintaining her alpha status among her puppy and three cats.
WEBSITE | AMAZON | NEWSLETTER
SEDUCTIVE Story: Watermelon Spice
Editor’s Note: This story is not featured in the paperback version of the anthology.
DONNA R. MERCER writes romances that she doesn’t like to label but contains bold characters that are not afraid to push the boundaries. She brings her own unique outlook on life to her writing which she shares with her readers. It’s cheaper than therapy. Join her on a journey into the unknown wonders of her mind. Seatbelts are optional.
WEBSITE | AMAZON | NEWSLETTER
SEDUCTIVE Story: My Boyfriend’s Dad
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” While you’re more likely to see JADE C. JAMISON headbanging than Dirty Dancing, she—like Baby—won’t be put in a corner…or a box. So even though you can’t really stick her books in one genre, you could say she mostly writes steamy Contemporary Romance—and, while you’re at it, you’ll notice in her stories that Jade freaking loves Colorado, hard music, coffee, bad words, and CHOCOLATE!!! And so do her characters.Oh, and there’s always a glimmer of hope…because if life doesn’t have that, what’s the damn point
WEBSITE | AMAZON
SEDUCTIVE Story: Playing With His Heart, a Breaking the Billionaire Novella
KRISTA AMES is an International #1 best-selling author of contemporary romance, including several sub genres. Western Romance is her failsafe and she loves a man in uniform but Paranormal is starting to be her new go-to.Born and raised in Indiana, she is now a Northern Lower Michigan transplant and married to the love of her life. They have 4 children and a few fur babies. She is a full time stay-at-home mom and pursues her writing career when she’s not running her kids every which way.She finds her inspiration in the love of her family and binge watches romantic and scary movies.
WEBSITE | AMAZON | NEWSLETTER
SEDUCTIVE Story: Love, Doctor, an Inner Harbor Novella
M.C. CERNY fell in love with books after experiencing her first real ugly cry reading, Where The Red Fern Grows. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Flashpoint was written in a series of post-it-note ramblings that would likely make her idol Tom Clancy and her mother blush. She is a post graduate of NYU, and calls rural NJ home with her menagerie of human and fur-babies. When M.C. is not writing, you’ll find her lurking in Starbucks, running stupid marathon, singing Disney show tunes, and searching out the perfect shade of pink nail polish. xoxo
WEBSITE | AMAZON | NEWSLETTER
SEDUCTIVE Story: Disturbance, a Gathering Storm Novella
Editor’s Note: This story is not featured in the paperback version of the anthology.
After being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, MARLOW KELLY made her way to Canada where she found love, a home, and a pug named Max. She also discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, children, and let’s not forget Max, she started putting her ideas to paper. She enjoys writing suspenseful, fast-pace romance stories that always feature strong women. Marlow is an award-winning author, and a member of the Romance Writers of America.
WEBSITE | AMAZON
SEDUCTIVE Story: A Couple of Forevers
MICHELLE DE LEON is a native New Yorker living in Metro Atlanta. Her first three novels were published by author Zane’s Strebor Books International/Simon and Schuster. Independently, she released three Inspirational books and published a Christian stage play via JAC Publishing. Currently she is writing a diverse superhero series for Nuff Said Publishing and working on a series of crime and romance stories
WEBSITE | AMAZON
SEDUCTIVE Story: Love’s Everlasting Song
I’m an accidental author as I began writing my first story, Mechanics of Murder, after I had been fired for taking maternity leave. I took a 3rd shift job and trying to keep myself awake, I used my imagination and started creating a story of a female mechanic, which I was, finding a dead body underneath the truck she was working on. My father absolutely loved the story and encouraged me to complete it and get it published. I was almost finished with the first draft when my father had a stroke. Encouraging him to get better, I rushed the book to Lulu Publishing without it being edited. My father was able to hold my first novel but was never able to read it, he passed away 2 days later. But it began a passion for me that has not dwindled!I have continued writing and my list has now grown. With Love; Now & Forever and Shadows, both paranormal romances though with different personalities and twists. The sequel to Mechanics of Murder, A Wrench in the Plan, was completed in January of 2011 and was released in the spring of 2012.I know my Dad would be proud. My contemporary romance, Love’s Everlasting Song, is a sweet tale where hopes,dreams and occasionally fairy tales do come true.I usually have 5-7 novels in the works and plan on writing for many more years! My stories are not sexually graphic because I believe each readers experience and imagination are usually more erotic and more sensual than what I will put into words and I ALWAYS have to have a happy ending! Life is meant to be fun, enjoy the journey!!!
WEBSITE | AMAZON
The California sunshine’s not quite so bright for three sisters who get dumped in the same week…
Finola, a popular LA morning show host, is famously upbeat until she’s blindsided on live TV by news that her husband is sleeping with a young pop sensation who has set their affair to music. While avoiding the tabloids and pretending she’s just fine, she’s crumbling inside, desperate for him to come to his senses and for life to go back to normal.
Zennie’s breakup is no big loss. Although the world insists she pair up, she’d rather be surfing. So agreeing to be the surrogate for her best friend is a no-brainer—after all, she has an available womb and no other attachments to worry about. Except…when everyone else, including her big sister, thinks she’s making a huge mistake, being pregnant is a lot lonelier—and more complicated—than she imagined.
Never the tallest, thinnest or prettiest sister, Ali is used to being overlooked, but when her fiancé sends his disapproving brother to call off the wedding, it’s a new low. And yet Daniel continues to turn up “for support,” making Ali wonder if maybe—for once—someone sees her in a way no one ever has.
But side by side by side, these sisters will start over and rebuild their lives with all the affection, charm and laugh-out-loud humor that is classic Susan Mallery.
Finola could only stare at her, even as her mind rejected the words. This isn’t happening, she thought desperately. It can’t be. Nothing the other woman was telling her could be true. Before she could react in any way, Treasure released her and walked away. Finola pressed a hand to her stomach, hoping to slow the bleeding just enough to not die that very moment.
She had to run, she told herself. She had to get out of here. She had to--
Melody’s voice competed with the very loud buzzing in her head.
“Finola, you need to get on set now.”
The show. She had to do the show. It was live, so there was no second chance. She had to walk out there and face the two hundred people in the audience, not to mention the million or so in their homes. AM SoCal was hugely popular. She was well liked in the community and today they had on a massive star. Ratings would be huge.
She drew in a breath and dug as deep as she could for every ounce of professionalism, not to mention self-preservation, she’d managed to accumulate in her life. She had to survive sixty minutes. Just sixty minutes and then she would be able to collapse. Just the next hour. That was all.
She walked out to face her audience. They immediately burst into applause. She waved and smiled at them, focusing only on the people in the first few rows. Near the center aisle were what looked like three generations—grandmother, daughter and granddaughter, all clapping happily. There were a few of her regulars—those who always came to tapings, but the rest of the audience was filled with teenagers.
The Treasure fans, she thought grimly. How was she going to survive? She glanced at the teleprompter and breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the show. We have something very special in store for you today, although based on the demographics of my audience, word has already spread—Pause for laughter.
She stepped into place and waited for the countdown to live. Normally she would have chatted with the audience a little, but not only wasn’t there time, she couldn’t have done it. Not today.
“Five, four, three.” She watched the fingers indicate the silent “Two, one,” then thought of puppies and kittens playing and how drunk she was going to get later. When the red light on the camera illuminated, she was fairly confident her smile was something close to genuine.
“Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the show.”
Finola worked the introduction. She never fully felt like herself, but the shock and pain faded just enough that she could inhale. She consciously relaxed her body and focused on what she had to get through.
“Here she is, and I’ll confess I’m a little star struck myself. Treasure!”
Finola turned to where the singer would enter. Treasure sauntered across the set, her familiar coltish walk and easy smile bringing the audience to their feet. There were plenty of screams and whistles. Treasure waved at everyone, then looked at Finola. For a second something dark and evil seemed to turn her face into a sinister mask, but then it was gone, leaving Finola to wonder if she was imagining things or if, in fact, the superstar was about to discuss her affair on television.
They sat angled toward each other. Finola was grateful her overly efficient team had loaded questions into the teleprompter. She didn’t have to think, she reminded herself. She simply had to look engaged and ask the prewritten questions.
“Your new album is doing incredibly well,” she began. “Congratulations.”
“Thanks. I’m really happy with the way my fans are responding. Especially to the first single.” She flashed the audience a smile. “‘That Way.’”
“It is a provocative song.”
Treasure leaned toward her and lowered her voice. “It’s about sex.”
The audience laughed.
Finola couldn’t tell if she was blushing or if she’d gone totally white. She was light-headed and hoped she wasn’t swaying in her seat. The potential for disaster was massive and if Treasure said anything...
With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.
Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.
Two exes reunite as danger rocks the family ranch.
A Coltons of Roaring Springs romance
Years after ending her relationship with her husband, Wyatt Colton, Bailey Norton shows up on his doorstep with an unexpected request: to father her child. Unresolved passion sets off sparks between them, but Bailey must resist Wyatt’s undiminished allure—and show her true grit when the Colton ranch is mysteriously sabotaged. Can this Colton cowboy lasso the culprit and a forever family?
An intriguing set up in the story, with the ex-wife approaching the ex-husband with a proposal that blew me away.
Wyatt Colton had his heart shattered by Bailey Norton when she walked away from him and their home, their marriage without an explanation. Now, out of the blue, she's back, with an outrageous request.
I admit, at first, I could not understand how Wyatt let Bailey even inside into his home, not to mention let her present the request she did. I wasn't sure if I admired him for it or not. But I got over that quickly, and I was looking forward to a deep, edgy, emotional reconciliation, completely forgetting that this was romantic suspense by the halfway to the book, when the mystery of a dead woman was brought into the picture and all the marital and relationship problems were forgotten.
I wish the story would have stuck into the romance, and not tried to dip into the suspense that felt flat and unnecessary. Because with Wyatt and Bailey, there was a chance to built the emotions and angst, making it into a great, passionate love story. Now the reconciliation between the exes felt rushed, almost as an afterthought, to get to the end. And the different aspects of the suspense and mystery -- it felt discrete, like two stories put together to make one ensemble.
A love story with great potential to be made into an epic romance tale interrupted by murder, mayhem, family drama, and vindictive townspeople.
~ Three Spoons
Marie swears she was born writing, "which must have made the delivery especially hard for my mother." From an early age, Marie's parents would find her watching television or tucked away in some private place, writing at a furious pace. "Initially, I began writing myself into my favourite shows. I was a detective on '77 Sunset Strip,' the missing Cartwright sibling they never talked about on 'Bonanza' and the 'Girl from U.N.C.L.E.' before there was a 'Girl from U.N.C.L.E.,' not to mention an active participant in the serialized stories of 'The Mickey Mouse Club.'" Marie began to write her first romance novel when she was 11 years old, although she claims that, at the time, she didn't even realize it was a romance! She scribbled off and on, while dreaming of a career as an actress.
Marie was only 14 when she first laid eyes on the man she would marry, truly her first love, Charles Ferrarella. During her days at Queens College, New York, acting started to lose its glamour as Marie spent more and more time writing. After receiving her English degree, specialising in Shakespearean comedy, Marie and her family moved to Southern California, where she still resides today.
After an interminable seven weeks apart, Charles decided he couldn't live without her and came out to California to marry his childhood sweetheart. Ever practical, Marie was married in a wash-and-wear wedding dress that she sewed herself, appliqués and all. "'Be prepared' has always been my motto,"the author jokes. This motto has been stretched considerably by her two children, Nikky and Jessi, "but basically, it still applies," she says.
In November of 1981, she sold her first novel for Harlequin. Marie, who now has written over 150 novels, has one goal: to entertain, to make people laugh and feel good. "That's what makes me happy," she confesses. "That, and a really good romantic evening with my husband." She's keeping her fingers crossed that her reader's enjoy reading her books as much as she enjoyed writing them.
Bad Breed by Amanda Heartley
Series n/a; standalone
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance & Biker Romance
Publisher Cheeky Books Ltd.
Publication Date February 2, 2019
If you love dirty-talking, bike-riding, gun-toting hotties, Bad Breed is a full-length, standalone MC romance with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a happy-ever-after!
About Amanda Heartley
USA Today bestselling author, AMANDA HEARTLEY, writes heart-warming steamy romance, featuring strong, sexy bad boys and feisty, sensual women.
Her stories take you on an emotional ride of enduring love and steamy sex that always end with a happy-ever-after, and her evocative characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.
You can join in the fun in Amanda’s reader group to talk about love, life, books, and share a little man-candy.