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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“Christmas in July” Giveaway Hop International

Click HERE or HERE to see the list of blogs participating to this hop!

This is a Christmas Books only hop. The winner must pick a Christmas Book... 
or... a book that can be offered as a Christmas gift (are there any limits??), but up to $18

MYTHICAL BOOKS' Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as The Book Depository ships to you for free OR you want ebooks from Smashwords or Amazon 
The winner will be announced here, on Mythical Books
The winner has 5 days to claim the prize by sending an email with: his/her name, address and the chosen book
Good luck!
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Review: Crimson Beat and Indigo Dawn (The Josie Hawk Chronicles #0.6, #1) by Elle J. Rossi

REVIEW

As I said in the Alabaster Nights’ review, book # 0.5, Josie Hawk is a promising series.

The pathfinder role of Alabaster Nights seems to not have been left by Crimson Beat where, given the chosen title, I would have wanted a greater involvement of the new introduced characters and a greater detail of the final part of the story. But it must be said, that Crimson Beat is also a novella and so, its rules, other than those that are applicable to a novel, make my wish to be just that, a wish.

Indigo Dawn, volume one of the series, does not disappoint and still carries the promise of a good series, although the author’s exploration and her attunement  with the applicable rules to short stories still can be felt sometimes, especially in the final moment of the confrontation when, somehow, all seems to be too quickly resolved.

Elle J. Rossi builds the story well, gradually introducing the needed elements to increase the suspense, to emphasize the unknown and to transform the stake of the game. “Game” that will become Josie's personal fight and, at the same time, it will be extended to a much higher level. Therefore the final confrontation, even if is the volume’s wrap-up and not of the series, is solved a little too "real", a little too fast.

The characters are a forte of the series. The delicate upgrade of the classical features belonging to the fantastical creatures and the way that they are combined with different personalities create main and secondary characters that you’ll get to like them very much. Josie, the main female character is a real kick ass heroine, but at the same time she has a vulnerability that augment very well her character, vulnerability that gives her consistency and provides the necessary opportunities for the dark knight to help. About Keller, the so-called knight of the night that seems cannot be stop to save his lover even by the lethal sun, I will only say that I put him next to the favorite and famous male characters of the genre. I also liked the way in which the author sets the main characters’ "rank" changing not only the POV (point of view) in which the book is written, but even the person (from Josie’s first person to third person for Keller) bringing a plus of originality that fits well to the story.

But the secondary characters are not to be ignored either, and I cannot wait to know not only their history, but also the way in which their own love stories will ensue, love stories that seem to bloom at every step. The villains are as varied and benefit of motivations and purposes.

It’s a sure fact that I’ll keep an eye on this author and this series because there are so many good stuffs in here: a complex world with rules and ancient confrontations in which the allies may change, danger present on various plans, villains about you’ll want to know more, corruption and broken orders, love and lust, unexpected, vanity, power and delicacy, but also humor and the list goes on. I just want to warn you:

All members of the occult will need to make a decision soon, because whether they like it or not...
The revolt begins now.

Goodreads ** Amazon
About the author:
Elle J Rossi grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by great people, a huge family and more animals than she could count. But the sites and sounds of the world beckoned, so she left her small town to escape into a creative world full of music. As a full time singer she was able to lose herself in a thousand different songs in a hundred different places. After meeting the love of her life and settling down, she yearned to find a new and fulfilling creative outlet. Overly fond of the happily ever after, she wondered what it would be like to have her own characters lead her down dark and twisted paths. The very first word on the very first page sealed her fate. She’d found a new love. She’d found her escape. Now along with weaving haunting tales about the journey to love, she’s creating cover art for authors around the world and loving every second of it. For fun, she cranks country music to take her back to her roots, and sings karaoke anytime she gets a chance. Her husband, two children, and a cat that rules the roost keep her company along the way and guarantee she doesn’t get lost in the enchanted forest. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Guest Post and Giveaway: Becoming Lady Lockwood by Jennifer Moore

Published: July 1st, 2014

Description:

Amelia Beckett is delighted to be a widow. Married by proxy to a man she'd never met, Amelia recognizes that a fortuitous entry into widowhood frees her from meddlesome chaperones and matchmakers. Heiress to her mother's sugar plantation in Jamaica, she happily anticipates working in a man's world, with the additional credibility of her new title: Lady Lockwood. But with the arrival of Captain Sir William Drake, her plans quickly go awry...

William has traversed the Atlantic with one purpose. If he cannot prove that Amelia's marriage to his brother was a fraud, she will be entitled to a sizeable portion of his family's estate. He is determined to return this duplicitous "Lady" to London for an official hearing, and he carries with him a letter that will ensure her cooperation...

Left with no choice, Amelia joins the captain on his return voyage to England, and the two quickly find that ship life does not allow for evasion. Amelia and William are ceaselessly thrown together, and amidst fierce storms and ocean battles, what began as antipathy seems to be evolving quite unexpectedly. But as they draw ever closer to their destination, will the impossibility of their circumstances shatter any hope of a future together?

GUEST POST
The appeal of Historical Romance

Since I'm not an expert on the topic of reader trends or anything, I'll just focus on what appeals to me. 
When I read Historical Fiction or even Nonfiction, I like to imagine myself living in that time. What would I be like? Would I be a servant? A princess? How would I react when Napoleon invaded my small Spanish village? Or when Blackbeard held the city of Charleston under siege? The appeal to me--and I suspect to most people-- is learning about history, but more than that, learning about what regular people were like, how they lived, and how the history affected them. I love coming away from a historical novel feeling like I learned something.

Now, Historical Romance--specifically Regency Romance--in my opinion, the reason this appeals to us is because of all the rules of the time. Of course a Duke needs to marry a woman of equal standing so they can produce an heir with a spotless bloodline and unite two wealthy families. He won't be looking for a love match, but an investment in the future of his line. His posterity. But, just what if...? What if he happens to meet a milk maid by the side of the road when his carriage breaks down and ...you know the rest. We love that we understand the rules, we know that marriage for love was rare, but we hope that the rules will be broken. That's my opinion, anyway. That's what I love in a Regency. The opposites attract and one or both are willing to dare the disapproval of society to be with the one they love.

I don't know if any of that made sense. I'm sort of rambly.
About the author:
Jennifer Moore is a Passionate reader and writer of all things romance, helping her find balance with the rest of her world, which includes a perpetually traveling husband and four active sons, who create heaps of laundry that are anything but romantic. Jennifer has a BA in linguistics from the University of Utah and is a Guitar Hero champion. She lives in northern Utah with her family. You can learn more about her at authorjmoore.com. The author's first book, Becoming Lady Lockwood, is a regency romance centered on the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s.


Author's Giveaway
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Excerpt and Giveaway: Breaking Kate (Acceptance #1) by D. Kelly

Published:: July 7th, 2014

Description:

Michael Matthews has been in love with Katherine Moore since the second grade. In Michaels mind there is absolutely nothing that will ever be able to keep the two of them apart. The night Michael is set to propose to Katherine the evening is interrupted by an unexpected tragedy that tears the two of them apart for good.

Three years have passed since that fateful night when Katherine, now known as Kate meets Daniel. After an awkward start sparks fly between them. Daniel and Kate fall hard and fast into the most passionate and intense love affair of their lives. In three years a lot can change, Michael knows he made the biggest mistake of his life when he left Katherine and he will do anything to get her back. Asking his best friend Daniel for help is his first step in righting the wrongs he made so many years ago. Unfortunately, neither of them realizes that Michaels long lost love Katherine is Daniel’s true love Kate.

While attending the engagement party of a mutual friend, all of their paths collide. How is Kate supposed to choose between the two men that mean the most to her in the world? Kate has to push past her heartache and put some serious thought into what comes next. One wrong choice and not only could she lose them both but Daniel and Michael may never recover their friendship.

After almost four years, Michael Matthews has come face to face with the love of his life. To say it didn’t go quite as he envisioned is an understatement. Never in a million years would he have imagined that his best friend, Daniel, is the new man in Kate’s life.

Once their explosive evening concludes and everyone goes their separate ways, Mike takes the time to calm down and plan his next move. If there’s one thing that calms him it’s Kate, even if it’s just memories of her. Mike has four hours before he sees her again and gets to plead his case. Instead of sleeping, he spends his evening remembering every detail of their relationship from the beginning.

Experience Mike and Kate’s love story from the start, all from Mike’s point of view. Find out why he left Kate in pieces and learn just how far he’ll go to make her fall in love with him all over again.

EXCERPT

“Jessica, I…I’m sorry. There’s so much I want to say to you but it all seems insignificant somehow right now.”

She sniffs and wipes her nose with the tissue, finally looking me in the eye for the first time. Instead of the anger that was there a few hours ago, her eyes are filled with utter sadness.

“Michael, I honestly don’t know what to say to you. I’ve missed you and I’m pissed at you and I’m so fucking relieved to see you. I’ve been so worried about you, wondering if you were ever going to come back to us. Did you ever think about us? About Kate? About me?”

“Every single day, Jess, and every single night. I just wasn’t ready to face her, or you. How do you single handedly shatter your very own existence and then come back and try to piece it back together? When I destroyed my life I broke her trust, I broke your trust, and I don’t know if I can ever get it back. But it’s the one thing I want more than anything in this world.”

“He loves her, Mike, with his whole heart.”

Her voice catches when she says that, almost like it tears her up to have to tell me. I understand the feeling completely because my voice probably sounds the same when I answer her.

“I know he does. Does she love him?” I ask the question that I never want to know the answer to.

About the author:
I'm a wife, a mom and a dog lover. I'm also a taxi, problem fixer, extreme multi-tasker and my kids’ biggest fan in anything that they do. I love to write, so when my career suddenly derailed I turned back to my love of writing. I married my high school sweetheart... how cool is that? Margaritas and sarcasm make me happy. Chocolate makes that happiness grow exponentially. People who make me laugh are my favorite kind of people. I believe Karma is a bitch who slaps back hard and that mean people suck. I'm California born and raised, I love the beach but hate the sand. The Acceptance Series is my first series of books with more to come soon.


Author's Giveaway
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Guest Post and Giveaway: Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids by Morgan Moss

Description:

Motherhood is chaotic.

Some days are filled with unicorns and fairy dust, and some days the unicorn craps on your brand new rug and the fairies are flying around, crashing into walls. Mainstream parenting books help with the unicorn and fairy dust days, but what happens when your kid drops the f-bomb in a crowded grocery store? 

That's where "Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids" comes into play, tackling situations in motherhood that you were definitely not warned about. Think of this book as your manual to the parenting problems that leave you throwing your hands up in the air, wondering if you are the only mom who goes through this craziness, and has you hiding in the back of your closet with a bottle of Moscato and a cheesecake (we've all been there). 

"Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids" includes: 

~The myths that mainstream parenting books tell you, and how they don't apply to every mother. 
~How to deal with temper tantrums from toddlers to tweens. 
~How to "win" the various battles you will have with your children (like the Personal Hygeine Battle and the Clothing Battle) 
~Tips on dealing with picky eaters and the difficult potty trainee. 
~Helping build your tween's self esteem and creating a strong family unit.
~Motherly advice on parenting from birth until the tweenaged years (around 12 years old) 
~Mom Competition, unplugging your kids, chores, peer pressure and more! 

Written by an unconventional, tattooed, colorful mother whose out-of-the-box parenting tips have proven successful for many families, regardless of parenting style, "Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids" weaves together helpful advice with humorous stories from the author's own trials and tribulations as a mom, as well as stories from other moms and dads on their own parenting journeys. 

So get the kids in bed, grab a glass of wine and something sweet from your hidden stash of goodies (we all have one of those, too), and crack open "Tatted Mom's Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids". Your mom-sanity will thank you.

GUEST POST
Learning by a Manual?

My family plays those puzzle strategy games on the computer- those ones, for example, where you are locked in a room and have to figure out how to get out by pushing wall panels or by using what you have available to you, which only happens to be an avocado, a rubber band and a playing card. After pushing every panel and trying to make a key out of a fruit, my kids desperately want to move onto the next level, so they consult a strategy guide for hints on what they are supposed to do to get out of this room.

That’s what “Tatted Mom’s Guide to NOT Screwing Up Your Kids” is- a strategy guide filled with hints on what to do when parenthood has given you an avocado, a rubber band and a playing card to get out of a locked room, metaphorically speaking, of course. It’s not a follow-every-rule-stated type of book, nor is it a book that gives you exact equations of “If you do this, then your kids will definitely turn out like this.” That type of book not exist in the parenting genre, and if someone claims their book is an exact equation for successful parenting, sad to say, they are lying.

I believe the best way to learn is through experience, which is why I took my experiences thus far in parenting and compiled them into a strategy guide for other moms and dads. My methods won’t work for everyone, but they may help give the reader insight on how they want to deal with the curveballs parenthood throws at them. I added in some great stories and tips from parents all over the US, too, and funny stories from my own trials and tribulations as a mother to make readers laugh along the way. Readers can read through my experiences, try what feels right for their family, and discard what they feel won’t work.

Do I feel people should go through life only living according to what they’ve read in books? Of course not. That takes all of the fun out of pushing random wall panels and wondering if you are to eat the avocado or save it for something possibly more important down the line. But, if after I pushed every wall panel and still can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do, I have a guide that tells me one person rolled up the playing card, wrapped the rubber band around it, and then used that to scrape around the loose wall panel, further loosening it to escape from the room, why not try it? It may lead to my freedom, or it could lead to a web full of baby spiders. The experience is my own, even though the tip came from someone else.

Plus, I really wanted to eat the avocado, anyway. 

About the author:
Morgan Moss is the creator of The Inklings of Life humor parenting blog (www.theinklingsoflife.com), which was named a Top 10 Mom Blog of 2013 by the parenting website VoiceBoks (www.voiceboks.com). Many of her parenting and motherhood articles have been featured on sites such as the Huffington Post, Babble, WhatToExpect.com, Mamapedia, Parent Society and BlogHer.com. She is a trained tattoo artist, and spends her free time creating mixed media art.

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Happy Release Day! WALK WITH ME (The Thin Blue Thread Series) by Kaitlyn Stone

Description:

After escaping her abusive parents, nineteen-year-old Kenna Sloane is determined to create an independent life, free of emotional distraction. The last thing this focused college student wants is a relationship, especially with a hot rookie cop popular with the badge bunnies.

When Kenna reluctantly agrees to a double date with Santa Monica cop Donovan Alexander, she’s launched on an exciting and dangerous journey. With time, she discovers some souls are instinctively drawn together to quiet the pain of their traumatic pasts. But even after the revelation of Donovan’s own secret burden, Kenna continues to battle the fear she may be too broken for her modern day knight in blue.
Can Kenna open her heart to the healing light of true love before peril strikes?

This is, hands down, one of the best books I've read this year! Not just because of how original, emotional and brilliant the story is, and not because I'm a huge sucker for cop stories, but it's written in exactly the way I like it and I am just blown away by it. - D Neal (Goodreads)

About the author:
Since childhood, Kaitlyn Stone has gravitated toward fairy tales and happily- ever-after's, forever chasing the first love dragon. She is a self-professed adventure junkie, constantly talking her husband and family into some new life adventure, where they’ve learned to just buckle up for the exciting ride. When they do stay home, it’s in sunny Southern California located along the Pacific Ocean.

Author's Giveaway
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Excerpt and Giveaway: Deep In Death (A Shelby Nichols Adventure #6) by Colleen Helme

Description:


Running “errands” for her mob-boss employer, Joey “The Knife” Manetto, often ends with Shelby in trouble, making her cautious about continuing her association with him. Instead, she focuses on a new client who hires Shelby to find her missing mother. 

What seems like a routine case turns into something more sinister and deadly than she ever imagined. In the meantime, Uncle Joey has summoned Shelby to his office, where she runs into her former nemesis. Shelby inadvertently hears something that makes her fear for the lives of Uncle Joey and his hit-man, Ramos. This time, Uncle Joey is not sure he wants to involve Shelby in something he knows could get her killed. Keeping Shelby’s involvement to a minimum has disastrous results, sending Shelby on a dangerous path. 

As her investigation unfolds, Shelby finds death at every turn, and soon realizes she is in over her head. Can she escape from danger in time? 
Or will she find herself deep in death?

EXCERPT




A twinge of pain burned through my arm, and I gently rubbed the spot where I’d been shot nearly three weeks ago. Getting a shot in the arm may sound like a simple thing for most people, but when it’s done by a bullet, it’s a whole different story. At least it was healing nicely, and the scar wasn’t too big, but every once in a while my arm ached like it had happened yesterday, probably because I was overdoing it again. After a few seconds the pain subsided, and I finished pulling on my shirt and got dressed.

Today was my first day back at work since the shooting, and I was ready to take on a new project. This time the job was a client from my consulting agency, which suited me just fine. My last job for Uncle Joey, the local mob-boss, had gotten me both arrested for murder and shot by a bullet in the arm, so I was a little nervous about doing anything for him again.

A few months ago I had to tell Uncle Joey my secret that I could read minds so he wouldn’t kill me. We’d worked out a compromise, and over the course of our association, we’d even become close. Crazy as it sounded, I’d started to think of him as my real uncle, even though he wasn’t. Since most of his errands seemed to get me into trouble, he’d also saved my life a few times. Well, to be honest, it was his hit-man, Ramos, doing most of the saving. But it was Uncle Joey who’d told him to watch out for me.

I sighed every time I thought of Ramos. He had a troubled past which only I knew about, and I’d helped him come to terms with it. Besides saving my life several times, there was also a physical attraction that I only dared admit out loud to my best friend, Holly. Of course after seeing him, she had a crush on him too, and since we were both happily married, I had to think it was all right. But with all of that going on, I had to wonder about myself. I mean, Uncle Joey was a big, bad mob-boss who had threatened to do me bodily harm, and Ramos was his hit-man. They were the bad guys and I had a soft spot in my heart for them. Was something wrong with me?

My husband, Chris, had no qualms about severing all ties with Uncle Joey, and it put me in a hard spot trying to please them both. But since the last job, things had changed. After I got shot, Chris had a long talk with Uncle Joey, and I hadn’t heard from him in three weeks. In some ways it was a relief, but in others, I kind of missed him…and Ramos…well…mostly Ramos. Still, I wasn’t about to call and offer my services. Not considering what had happened last time. Nope. I wasn’t ready to get shot again. In fact, I would be pretty happy if I never saw another gun in my life.

I took a deep cleansing breath and checked the time. I had an appointment with my client at ten this morning, and it was time to go. Her name was Tiffany and this was her senior year of college. Since I didn’t have a real office, I’d told her we could meet at the campus library in-between her classes, and with her busy schedule, meeting on campus worked out great for both of us.

I drove through town with my windows down and breathed in the crisp fall air. It was the first part of October and the sky was the perfect color of blue. The trees were just beginning to change into brilliant autumn colors, and framed against the blue sky, the pure beauty and serenity lifted my spirits. With everything I’d gone through lately, I knew I was lucky to be alive.

I parked at the visitor parking meters near the library and headed toward the front of the building. It had been several years since I’d been there last, and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. I’d only been to one year of college before I’d talked Chris into marrying me. It was love at first sight for me, but it had taken some gentle persuading on my part to help Chris see how perfect we were together. Right after our marriage, we’d gone off to law school in another state. Josh had been born exactly nine months later followed by Savannah two years after that. There were times when I regretted not finishing college back then, but I wouldn’t trade the life I had now for anything.

I loved my family and, as it turned out, I had a pretty good career without a degree, and I was proud of what I’d accomplished. Of course, if I hadn’t gotten shot in the head during a bank robbery, which left me with the ability to read minds, it might be a different story.

It was still hard for me to believe how my life had turned upside down simply because I’d stopped at the grocery store for some carrots. Who would have thought? Now I had my own consulting agency where I could get paid for helping people, and most of the time, all I had to do was read their minds. Not that it was always that easy, but after getting shot, I’d take some simple cases for a while.

A young woman sat on a bench near the fountain where we’d planned to meet. Her gaze caught mine and her eyes widened slightly before she recognized me. As I approached, she smiled and gave me a quick wave. She had long blond hair and a sweet face, but her somber eyes seemed out of place for someone her age, like she’d gone through some hard times.

Since she was a college student, I was a little nervous that she couldn’t afford my one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar-an-hour fee. But we’d talked about that before I agreed to meet her, and she’d seemed fine with it then. She stood to greet me.

“Shelby Nichols? Hi. I’m Tiffany Shaw. Thanks for meeting me.”

“Hi Tiffany, nice to meet you in person,” I answered.

“I know this is kind of informal, but it’s such a beautiful day. Do you mind staying out here in the sunshine?”

“I think that’s a great idea.”

“Good.” She resumed her seat on the bench and I sat beside her. She was thinking that she wasn’t sure how to start. What she needed might not even be possible, but she’d read about me in the paper and figured if anyone could help her, it was me. She’d been saving up for years to hire a private investigator and wanted the best. After a little digging, she’d heard rumors that I had premonitions. It didn’t faze her in the least. In fact, after all this time, she thought it might be the only thing that would solve the case. She just had to make sure her dad didn’t find out, since he was the over-protective sort. He’d tell her she was throwing away her money, and probably accuse me of taking advantage of her.

That certainly put a lot of pressure on me, and my stomach tightened with dread that her father would disapprove. But since she was thinking about not telling him, maybe he’d never need to find out. Considering her age and circumstances, I had hoped she’d hired me for something easy, like finding out if her roommate was after her boyfriend. But no, she was thinking about her mother, and that she was probably dead, and I knew nothing was ever as easy as I wished.

“I’d like to hire you to find my mother.” Her lips tightened and pain flashed through her eyes. “You see…I’m getting married in a few weeks and I really want her to be there.” She didn’t add ‘if she’s still alive’ like she was thinking.

She’d always imagined her mother would be at her wedding, and now that it was actually happening, she couldn’t stop wondering where her mom was and what had happened to her. The day her mother had gone missing was the worst day of her life, and thinking about it brought all the horror back, but she knew she would never move on unless she had some answers.

“Tell me what happened,” I said gently.

She took a deep breath. “It’s been nearly six years, and I know that’s a long time, but just hear me out before you decide if you can take the job or not.”

“Okay.” I encouraged her with a smile. “Go on.”

“Like I said…it will be six years on the twenty-eighth of October since she went missing. That night, she drove to the office where she worked to drop something off and never came back. They found her car parked in the parking structure with the keys in the ignition. Her purse was on the passenger seat. Nothing was taken, and there was no sign of a struggle. It was like she just disappeared off the face of the earth.”

“What did the police tell you?”

“Well…they dusted for prints, checked her office, put out a missing person’s report, questioned her colleagues at work, and brought my father in for questioning.” She hated that they had suspected him. He was innocent. He had nothing to do with it. He loved her mom. It still made her angry. It was part of what had made the day so bad. She not only lost her mother, but her father was never the same after that.

“What happened to your father? Did they charge him with anything?”

Tiffany shook her head. “No. They had no evidence that he was involved, but the police always suspect the husband first. So it was bad enough that my mom disappeared, but the fact that they thought my dad had something to do with it made it ten times worse.”

She sighed, wondering for the thousandth time what kind of person she would be right now if she still had her mom. She’d probably be a lot happier, that was for sure. “My dad’s doing better now. He even got married a couple of months ago.”

“That’s good,” I said.

“Yeah.” She was glad he had finally moved on, and wished it was something she could do. But the ache just wouldn’t go away, especially with her upcoming wedding. This was the most important day of her life, and her mother should be there. So where was she? What had happened? Who had taken her? Why hadn’t she come home?

In her heart, she knew her mother never would have left unless she was forced into it. Speculation from the police and others of affairs, with her mom running off with another man, only deepened the wound, and she wouldn’t believe any of it. That’s why a small part of her had to believe her mom was dead, but what if she wasn’t? What if someone was holding her captive? It could happen, and she just couldn’t give up until she knew for sure.

“What did the police decide about the case?” I asked.

“Officially, she’s missing and presumed dead. At least that’s what they declared so my dad could re-marry. I don’t know what happened to the case files. But I’m hoping you can dig them up and maybe find something that got passed over. I know it’s a long shot, but I’ve never had the resources to hire a private investigator until now. Do you think you could look into it for me?”

I bit my bottom lip. The chances of finding out what happened at this point were pretty slim. My mind-reading ability wouldn’t be of much use, although I could still question her dad. Even though she didn’t think it was him, I’d learned that some people were really good at keeping secrets, and I wasn’t about to rule him out. I could probably get my hands on the police file and talk to the detectives who handled the case, but beyond that, I didn’t have much hope.





About the author:
As the author of the Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, Colleen is often asked if Shelby Nichols is her alter-ego. “Definitely,” she says. “Shelby is the epitome of everything I wish I dared to be.” Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby’s adventures. “I love getting Shelby into trouble…I just don’t always know how to get her out of it!” Colleen lives in the Rocky Mountains with her family. Besides writing, she loves a good book, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.

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Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone

Description:

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

Given the order to disperse and arrest a crowd of Jewish demonstrators in Red Square, Jez breaks up the rally but discovers his sisters in their ranks. Rushed for a solution, he sneaks the girls from under the noses of secret police and hides them in downtown Moscow. But he knows they will no longer be safe in Russia. He has to find them a safe route out. 

The journey begins, but he is unaware that his every move is being observed and that he has set in motion a chain of events that will plunge his life into a headlong battle to stay alive.

About the author:
Do children born into poverty become impoverished adults? It happens; pitfalls and roadblocks to advancement are everywhere. Rik Stone grew up poor amidst the slum-lands of fifties North East England, and left school at 15 without any academic qualifications.

He worked in the shipyards on a local river and later went into the merchant navy. Further down the line, he worked quarries in Essex in South East England.

But life was without horizons until, contrary to what his teachers had told him, he found he was capable of studying and completed a BSc degree in mathematics and computing.

Life got lucky for him when he took company pension at 50 and began writing. And now, here he is offering up his debut novel Birth of an Assassin, the first in a series.


Excerpt and Giveaway: Kiss Me Dead by Dale Ibitz

Description:

One curse…
Christian, a nineteen-year-old reaper-human hybrid enslaved to the Other World to harvest souls, earns his freedom by making a bargain with the Goddess of Death. As part of the bargain, he’s been cursed with the kiss of death. 

One kiss…
The only way Christian can break his curse is for an angel to kiss him. Willingly. He finds Brooke, an nineteen-year-old descendant of a Naphil whose destiny is to hunt rogue reapers. But she’s hiding, suffocating in a semi-agoraphobic cocoon since witnessing a reaper steal her brother’s soul. 

Two destinies…
Christian has found the angel who can break his curse, and the seduction begins. To break her phobia’s hold, Brooke embraces her angelic role and makes it her mission to kill rogue reapers, trying to avenge her brother’s murder. Christian can break his curse by kissing Brooke dead ... but will she figure out his game and kill him first?

EXCERPT



Christian watched the dying girl and did nothing. 

He longed to do something—anything—to save her, but it wasn’t his place, his calling, or his duty. His duty was to wait for her death, then act.

Giltine, Goddess of Death, had branded the girl for death, the mark on her cheek glowing like slick silver while wet moonlight clung to her breasts. Her flailing arms and flooded gasps forced Christian’s eyes to close and his hands to clamp over his ears.

Nothing could stop the sound of death.

He could taste the girl’s fear; blood-metallic, like pennies. Even though he yearned to run, he wouldn’t. He would stay. He’d wait for her death then reap as he was bound to do.

Inhaling, he closed his eyes, scenting Giltine’s addictive poison, a sweet nectar reapers craved. He was a slave to her and to his addiction, just as the girl was a slave to death. Neither could escape their fate.

But no matter how many times he tried to abstain and break his addiction, no matter how fervently he wished for death to claim him, to awake and find Giltine’s mark glowing silver on his cheek, he would continue to exist, if only to hunt for death.

The girl’s hands slapped the water. She slid deeper into the shadowy lake. Pulse in his neck throbbing, he swallowed, trying to remain detached and unemotional as a proper reaper should. Unfortunately, he was also human. His humanity made him suffer.

As he edged closer to the water, sweat formed along his hairline. The mark on the girl’s cheek shone brighter, sweeter. He licked his lips. It was almost time.

Trembling with need, he rubbed his thumbs along his pants’ seams. He’d gone too long without a soul-hit, and cold rotted him from the inside. The longing for poison that tightened his stomach also made his lips twist in disgust. Not wanting to watch this beautiful girl die with hungry anticipation, he turned his head away. 

Water covered the girl’s mouth, sucking out one last, drowning breath before consuming her nose and fear-glassed eyes. She sank below the surface.

Christian sighed. It was done. The silence, however comforting, didn’t dispel the echoes of the girl’s dying breath lingering inside his head. He shuddered. 

The girl’s stillness revived the nocturnal silence: the grinding cheeps of tree frogs, an owl’s chirruping hoot. Wooden docks stretched into the water like skeletal fingers. A red fox’s tail flashed. Not willing to enter the water, he waited on the shore for the girl’s soul to emerge. The spring lake water was snow-melt frigid, and he detested both the water and the cold, as all his kind did. 

Moments later, like dust motes in a sunbeam, the girl’s soul appeared. Her skin shone with an ethereal glow, a result of Giltine’s poison, and her hair hung in damp ringlets. He could almost taste the sweet poison, so saccharine as to make his teeth ache.

He studied the drop of water that tickled the girl’s neck and trailed between her breasts. To him, her soul appeared as alive as her living form had been. He knew that once she crossed to the other side, the embodiment of her physical being would dissipate and he’d no longer be able to see her, feel her, smell her. Until then, however, she was real to him.

Realizing he was staring, he bit his lip and focused on the ground. The girl might be dead, might no longer care about decency or modesty, but he believed in dying with dignity. He scooped up her dress.

“Put it on.” His voice squeaked like an adolescent boy’s.

The girl hesitated then took the dress. He averted his gaze until she slipped it over her head. The dress was old, with a frayed hem and torn collar. Most of the buttons were missing, and it barely covered her nakedness. The loose flapper-style made her seem like a young girl, but he’d seen her nude, and her figure suggested she was one or two years older than him; maybe twenty-one. 

Unable to stop himself, he slid a fingertip along her cheek, the silver mark sweet and sticky like icing on a hot bun. When he licked his finger, Giltine’s poison shot like bathtub gin down his throat and seared his lungs. His sigh bordered on a groan.

“Who are you?” She was pretty, with cat-green eyes and hair he was sure would lighten like honey when it dried. 

“Christian.”

He held still, watching her while sweat collected along his back. Despite the aching need, and despite the small taste he’d just sampled, he couldn’t take her soul completely. He had to wait until he took her to the Void, and for her to make the decision to cross to the Other World. If he didn’t follow the rules, there would be punishment.

Lines wrinkled her forehead. Her pain leaked fragile ribbons that looped around his chest. His Other World senses allowed him just enough information to lure her there, and he could taste the earthy flavor of her confusion. Some might consider such knowledge cheating; Christian considered it a means to an end.





About the author:
Dale Ibitz was born in Oxford, Connecticut, grew up in the state of Washington, and then re-located back to Connecticut as an adult. Always a lover of books, she spent much of her childhood reading, visiting the library (her best friend’s mother was a librarian…how convenient), and writing. She majored in English at Central Connecticut State University, and while Dale holds a full-time day job where she’s immersed in the dry life of writing contracts, she’s been writing young adult fantasy and mid-grade contemporary for seventeen years (on the side, of course).

If you were to visit Dale’s house, you'd meet her husband, 2 kids, their dog Lea (most people simply refer to her as The Beast...and for good reason), their kitten Luna (affectionately known as Loony Luna), a gaggle of ducks, and a flock of hens ruled by a tyrannical rooster they call The Stump, or Stumpy. How he got his name is a long story...maybe she’ll tell you sometime.
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Curve My Song (Book 1 of The Curvies ) by Sarah Gai

Description:

Follow the amazing plus size trio, The Curvies, as they find love, drama, tears, laughs and a song to match every situation. Bree Carson loves her life, friends and little town, but something is missing. 

Taylor Cole returns home after ten years and old flames reignite. Can he break through Bree’s walls? This book is the first in a three novella set following the lives of three curvy best friends: Bree, Elise and Skyla. 

This book follows Bree and her life as she fumbles her way through letting down walls and letting love in.

With a lot of laughs and a little drama it introduces the readers to the rest of the characters leading into the second book, which builds up suspense for the third and final installment.


About the author:
Sarah Gai is the author of The Curvies series. Living in Victoria Australia. As a devoted wife and mother of three, when Sarah is not writing she will be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or out for coffee with her own real life Curvies. Being a busy mum she was always trying to find a quick and fun read to squeeze in and that is when the idea for the three novella set sparked into her mind. Wanting to write for all the women out there who want a good short read about strong friendships, romance and body positive, love the skin you're in kind of fiction.


Happy Release Day! Jolted (Conflicted Encounters #1) by Alyne Roberts

Description:

Sometimes, something jolts you out of everything you have ever known, and it isn’t possible to go back to the way things were.

Kallie Adam’s life is turned upside down when she loses her first love. When she can’t handle the pressure of her overbearing life anymore, she runs away. Kallie has always been forced to live up to everyone’s expectations. When Kallie meets Ryder, she sees an opportunity to break out of the good girl life she always led.

Ryder Brooks has his own secrets and knows he is no good for the girl that showed up out of nowhere. He will only ruin her, like he ruins everything, but he can’t help wondering what she is running from. Ryder makes Kallie feel things she thought she would never feel again. Will he help Kallie heal or be her undoing? They will soon realize they have more in common than they knew, enough to keep them apart.

Goodreads ** Smashwords ** Amazon ** Barnes&Noble ** iBooks ** Kobo 
About the author:
Alyne lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. Working full time in an office all day, she spends her nights reading, writing or watching TV marathons. She loves coffee, animals and country music.


Happy Release Day! Excerpt: No Regrets by Claire Kent

Description: 18+

On my last birthday, I made one vow for the year. Live with no regrets. Eleven months have passed, though, and nothing has changed. I still sleep alone, spend my life working, and never move out of my comfort zone.

Then the loss of my dog throws my whole life out of orbit, and I end up in bed with a very hot and slightly-too-young veterinarian, who has recently made a vow of his own. Live with no strings. Josh is more than happy to help me with the things I’ve been afraid to try. Semi-public sex. Spanking. Anal sex. He’s a willing partner for everything I’ve wondered about, as long as I don’t demand more.

He’s serious about his no-strings philosophy. As serious as I am about living with no regrets. I can’t help but fall for him, even though I know better. So my biggest regret might be a broken heart.

EXCERPT



I couldn’t stay on this park bench forever.

I hadn’t moved yet. I was still staring blindly at the dogs and people on the path when I noticed from the corner of my eye a man slowing down from a run and then jogging toward me.

Glancing over, I expected him to head past me toward the parking lot, but he seemed to be coming directly toward me.

When he got close, I realized it was Dr. Bennett.

He looked different than he had this morning. He wore a t-shirt and gym shorts, both wet with perspiration. His face and short brown hair were wet too. He’d obviously been running hard.

His eyes rested on me as he approached. Obviously, he’d recognized me. Before I’d recognized him.

“Hey,” he said, breathing heavily. “How are you doing?”

“Fine.”

It was a stupid question and a stupid answer, but that’s what people do. It was part of living in a civilized world. You made up nice-sounding lies and you said them to each other, instead of talking about how much the world sucked.

His face was flushed, and he was having trouble catching his breath. Bending at the waist, he rasped, “I better do a lap to cool down. I’ll be right back.”

“Okay.”

I had no idea why he’d bother coming back. We didn’t know each other. We had nothing to say to each other. And I wasn’t really in the mood for talking.

He’d killed my dog that morning, but I could hardly hold it against him.

He took a slow jog around the track and ended up back at the bench with a water bottle in his hand. His breathing was less ragged as he sat down beside me.

He didn’t say anything, and I felt a little strange. I didn’t know exactly what he expected from me. I certainly wasn’t going to cry on his shoulder, if that was what he was thinking.

So I just asked a casual question. “You’re done with your shift for the day?”

“Yeah. I got off at three.”

“Do you always come here to run afterwards?”

“Sometimes.” His vivid blue eyes rested on my face, searching or questioning or something. “It’s on the way home.”

“Have you lived in Lexington long?”

“I grew up here—in Versailles, actually. But I just moved back to the area.”

“Where were you before?”

“Vet school.”

“Oh.” I blinked, slightly surprised. I’d landed on his age as younger than me but still in his thirties, but he must be quite a bit younger if he was just out of vet school. “So you just got your degree?”

“Yeah.” As if he could see the surprise in my face, he added, “I started late. I didn’t go right after college.”

That made more sense. The conversation, as casual as it was, managed to distract me from thoughts of Polly, so I pursued it. “What were you doing before you went to vet school.”

He didn’t answer immediately, which prompted my curiosity. To take the edge off the silence, I said, “Bank robber? Computer hacker?”

He gave a low chuckle and smiled at me—not broadly, but it still transformed his face until he was almost unbearably attractive, even as sweaty as he was. “Nothing that exciting. I was in Chad.”

“Chad? In Africa?

“Yeah.”

“Wow.” My eyes widened in surprise. “What were you doing there?”

“International aid work. I started right after college and did it through most of my twenties. I was mostly in Chad and Sudan.”

“So what made you decide to be a vet instead?”

He gave a strange little shrug and looked away from me. “I couldn’t do it anymore. And animals…are different.”

I studied him, trying to read his expression, trying to interpret the paradoxically empty bitterness on his face. There was obviously more going on with him, but there was no reason to expect him to tell me.

There was no reason I needed to know.

“What do you do?” he asked, obviously trying to change the subject.

“Paralegal.”

“Who do you work for?”

We chatted for almost a half-hour, about my job, about how he was settling back into the area, about running—which I used to do, although not much recently.

Eventually, the perspiration had dried on his skin and his clothes, and we’d both faded into reflective silence.

I felt a little better—like I wasn’t on the verge of tears—but the thought of going home still filled my stomach with dread.

He’d been staring off in the distance, and he said without warning, “This morning was the first time I’ve had to do that.”

I glanced at him in surprise, realizing immediately what he was referring to. “Aren’t you supposed to be professional and distanced about the whole thing?”

“I guess. I thought I’d be able to keep the right perspective with animals, but it was harder than I thought. She seemed like a very sweet dog.”

I took a loud, ragged breath as emotion surged up. “She was.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“Thanks.” I took a few more breaths until I was in control again. “I really don’t want to go home.”

“Do you want to get a drink or something?”

I blinked. “Right now, you mean?”

“Yeah. Why not? I don’t want to go home either.”

I finally landed on an explanation for his mood. He seemed adrift, kind of lost, not emotional but torn in some way.

I wondered what he’d experienced in Chad. What it had done to him. Why he’d decided against working with people anymore.

Even yesterday, I would have said “no” to his invitation. For the last few months, I hadn’t done much of anything except go to work and take care of Polly. I hadn’t liked to leave her in the evenings.

It had been years since I’d had a drink with a guy I didn’t know, and this particular guy was too young for me anyway.

But it was just a drink. Nothing more. He wasn’t coming on to me. He was just being nice. And it would give me something to do with myself, other than go home to an apartment without Polly.

I felt a little better, talking to him. Like the world wasn’t about to pull me into some sort of black hole.

I remembered my vow, eleven months ago, on the day I’d turned thirty-eight.

I was supposed to be living with no regrets, and so far I hadn’t done a good job.

This would be something I wouldn’t have to regret.

“Okay,” I said. “Why not?”



About the author:
Claire has been writing romance novels since she was twelve years old. She has a PhD in British literature and, when she's not writing, she teaches English at the university level.

She also writes contemporary romance under the penname Noelle Adams.