Review of “Addict (The Cassie Tam Files Book 1)” – Matt Doyle

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

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I always did like Venetian blinds. There’s something quaint about them in a retro-tacky kinda way. Plus, they’re pretty useful for sneaking a peek out the front of the building if I feel the need. That’s something that you just can’t do with the solid, immovable metal slats that come as a standard in buildings these days. That said, a thick sheet of steel is gonna offer you a damn sight more security than thin, bendable vinyl, so I keep mine installed. Just in case.

Another round of knocking rattles the front door, louder this time than the one that woke me.

The clock says 23:47, and the unfamiliar low-end car out front screams “Don’t notice me, I’m not worth your time,” which makes for the perfect combo to stir up the paranoia that the evening’s beer and horror-film session left behind. This is my own fault. My adverts are pretty descriptive in terms of telling what I do: lost pets, cheating partners, theft, protection, retrieval of people and items, other odds and sods that the city’s finest won’t touch…I’ve got ways to deal with it all. That’s right, I’m a real odd-job gal. The one thing that I don’t put in there are business hours. The way I see it, even the missing pet cases usually leave me wandering the streets at half-past reasonable, so what’s the point in asking people to call between certain hours?

More knocking, followed this time by the squeak of my letter box and a voice. “Hello? Cassandra Tam?”

It’s funny, really. For all the tech advances that the world has made, no one has been able to improve upon the simple open-and-shut letter box. I stumble my way through the dark and wave dismissively at the frosted glass. The light switch and the keypad for the door lock are conveniently placed right next to each other on the wall to the right of the door, sowelcoming my apparent guest is a nice, easy affair. The lock clicks a moment after the lights flood the room, and I pull the door open.

“Cassie,” I say, turning and skulking my way back into the room. “Or Caz. Drop the Tam.”

I hear a sniff behind me, and the lady from the letter box asks, “Are you drunk?”

“If I pass out in the next five minutes, then yes,” I reply, turning the kettle on. I’d left it full, ready for the morning, but I guess this is close enough. “Take a seat at the table. Would you prefer tea or coffee? I’d offer beer, but since I reek of it, I guess I must’ve finished it.”

Footsteps creep unapologetically across the room, and a chair squeaks on the floor. Good. If you can’t deal with a snarky response to something, don’t say it all, and if you can deal with it, then as far as I’m concerned you don’t need to apologise.

“Coffee,” the lady says. “So, do you always see potential clients in your underwear, or is it just my lucky day?” Her voice has a slightly playful edge to it, but with a sarcastic kick to round it off.

The business portion of my apartment comprises entirely of a small open-plan room separating my kitchen from my living room. And by open plan, I mean an allotted space that encroaches on both territories but is conveniently large enough to house what I need. Or, in other words, a table, four chairs, and nothing else. Since filing went near entirely digital, filing cabinets have pretty much become obsolete, so the two that I found dumped outside the building when I bought the place currently live in my bedroom, and contain a mix of quick access work stuff and personal files I’d rather not have floating on the net. Most things, though, I store electronically, the same as everything else.

I rarely use the business table to eat, read, or any of that junk, so until this evening it’s been entirely empty for a good few weeks. The lady sitting there now is studying me, I can see, and probably wondering if this was a mistake. Whatever she may have expected, a Chinese-Canadian gal of average height in a cami top and a loose pair of sleep shorts most likely wasn’t it. For what it’s worth, though, I’m studying her just the same. She’s a lithe-looking thing, dressed in a casual pair of jeans and a plain black fitted top under a leather jacket. If the metal plugs running down her shaven head like a shiny, rubber-tipped Mohawk weren’t a giveaway for what she is, the light scarring punctuating the outer edges of her pale blue eyes certainly would be. She’s a Tech Shifter, and like most of her ilk, she looks like a punk rocker gone cyborg.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

The world is constantly evolving. Everyday a new gadget is being introduced to the market. At the same time, news sources can’t go a day without mentioning a story dealing with drugs. Matt Doyle took both topics and ran with it. VR (Virtual Reality) is NOT a thing of the past. You can buy the gadgets at your local department store. In Addict, Matt incorporated Flash7, a VR stimulant, which made today’s virtual reality experience the equivalent of using an Atari when you can use a Nintendo Switch.

This story, centering on a murdered VR user, had so much potential for greatness. I wanted Cassie (Caz) to embark in the VR world. I wanted more time spent there instead of the real world. Addict did have a decent plot and a nice twist towards the end of the story; however, the moments leading up to it where nothing extraordinary. I think Caz’s past with Charlie didn’t add much to the storyline. Also, Matt has this book labeled LGBT but really it didn’t have much in the way of same sex interactions. Glances. Quick peck. Honestly, those could’ve been left out and the story wouldn’t have suffered one iota. 

One character whom I thought needed more time on the scene was Bert. He was her AI Familiar that resembles a gargoyle and behaves like a good protective pet. Now I love my new kitty, but a pet gargoyle….. That would be a wonderfully crazy addition to my already crazy house. 

For utilizing today’s tech in an interesting manner and for my love of Bert, I will rate Addict a solid three.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤

 

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Matt Doyle
Matt Doyle lives in the South East of England and shares his home with a wide variety of people and animals, as well as a fine selection of teas. He has spent his life chasing dreams, a habit which has seen him gain success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.
These days, Matt can be found working on far too many novels at once, blogging about anime, comics, and games, and plotting and planning what other things he’ll be doing to take up what little free time he has.
 
 

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Author Showcase – Laura Kaye (Ride Wild: A Raven Riders Novel)

Brotherhood. Club. Family.
They live and ride by their own rules.
These are the Raven Riders… 

Wild with grief over the death of his wife, Sam “Slider” Evans merely lives for his two sons. Nothing holds his interest anymore—not even riding his bike or his membership in the Raven Riders Motorcycle Club. But that all changes when he hires a new babysitter.

Recently freed from a bad situation by the Ravens, Cora Campbell is determined to bury the past. When Slider offers her a nanny position, she accepts, needing the security and time to figure out what she wants from life. Cora adores his sweet boys, but never expected the red-hot attraction to their brooding, sexy father. If only he would notice her… 

Slider does see the beautiful, fun-loving woman he invited into his home. She makes him feeltoo much, and he both hates it and yearns for it. But when Cora witnesses something she shouldn’t have, the new lives they’ve only just discovered are threatened. Now Slider must claim—and protect—what’s his before it’s too late.

 

 

 

 

It was just the two of them. Standing nearly chest to chest in a downpour. Not speaking. Not moving. And Cora felt torn between the desire to hug him for coming after her and hit him for provoking the anxiety she managed to keep battened down tight ninety-nine percent of the time.

“I was a dick,” he said.

“Yep,” she agreed.

He stared at her for another long moment. “I’m kinda fucked up over here, Cora.”

Her lips almost twitched in humor, but she bit back the impulse, because those seven words were quite possibly the most honest, personal thing he’d said to her in three months of working for him. And it felt . . . important, like some wall had come down between them. Or, at least, started to. “I know, but on some level, aren’t we all?”

He didn’t answer, but what he did say still hit her square in the chest. “You’re the best thing that’s happened to my boys in years. I don’t want to mess that up for them. I’m sorry if I have.”

“You haven’t,” she said, shaking her head, rain catching on her eyelashes as she peered up at him. “But don’t do it again.”

Slider gave a single nod, then leaned forward, his face coming close and then pausing a hairsbreadth away. For a moment, Cora was sure he was going to kiss her, but then he grasped the handle and yanked opened the squeaking door. “Now get in.”

Shaking a little—from the chilly rain, she told herself—she climbed onto the old bench seat. The rain had plastered Slider’s T-shirt to his chest, giving her a pretty clear view of the lean, muscular frame beneath. And she found herself wondering what kissing him might’ve been like. How hard his body would be against hers. How far she’d have to tilt back her head to meet his mouth. How ticklish his whiskers would be against her lips.

The wondering made her shiver.

He slammed his door and frowned at her. “You okay?”

“I’m wet, cold, and irritated, but sure. I’m great,” she said defensively. Because she was still a little miffed at him for making her freak out—and for making her feel curious about kissing him.

Just a little curious. Hardly at all, really.

Damnit.

The corner of his mouth lifted. Not much, but the movement was there. And it made Cora stare. Because the change in his face, small and fleeting though it had been, made the corner of his eye crinkle a little, too. “Well, I think I can help with two of those,” he said, putting the truck in gear and swinging a hard U-turn.

“Wait, where are we going? The clubhouse is the other way.”

“Uh-huh,” he said, slanting her another glance. All the amusement was gone this time, though, and in its place was something intense she couldn’t name. “I’m taking you home.”

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New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller Laura Kaye is the author of over thirty books in romantic suspense and contemporary and erotic romance and has sold more than one million books in the U.S. alone. Among her many awards, she won the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense of 2014 for Hard As You Can. A former college history professor, Laura grew up amid family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing her life-long fascination with storytelling and the supernatural. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Laura also writes historical fiction under the name Laura Kamoie, also a Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today bestseller.

Laura is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Maryland Romance Writers, the Washington Romance Writers, and she is past president of the RWA-Contemporary Romance Writers.

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Review of “Portence (Fae Warriors, Book 3)” – Gini Rifkin

In the final battle to save the Earth, Fae Warrior, Portence Goodeve stands ready to serve Mother Nature. But as she fights for the future of the planet, she’s haunted by her past. One near-death experience and a betrayal that goes deep become weapons that could get her killed.

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The three sisters and Malachi stood nearby, waiting for the dust to settle. Down in the valley, the soldiers regrouped, the healthy helped the wounded to the transports waiting to take the injured to Lance. When Port spotted Captain Jackson looking their way, she nudged Solace and pointed. Her sister breathed a sigh of relief and waved down at her partner.

 
“Look,” Bliss said, gazing skyward.
 
 Nate was here now too. He and his balloon, hung in the air, drifting closer.
 
“With the Reps holed-up in the canyon, we should give them a chance to surrender,” Bliss suggested.
 
Fair-play ranked high on her sister’s personal code of ethic. Port leaned more toward ya pay’s your money, and you takes your chances. Or war is hell, and now you’re in it. “I suppose it can’t hurt to ask if they want to white-flag-it, but the answer seems rather obvious.”
 
“Not the point,” Bliss persisted. “It’s a matter of conscience and cosmic justice, and we’ll have given them a chance to make things right.”
 
“I agree,” Solace put in. “You’re accustomed to special ops, last ditch efforts with no viable alternatives. This is the real Multiverse, where we’re supposed to try and get along. Or as these Humes would say, uphold truth, justice, and the American way.”
 
Sarcasm flavored Solace’s words as if she knew getting along with a Rep meant ending up dead. Still, Port admired the integrity shown by both her sisters. And if by some long shot they did surrender, it could save many Hume lives. “Far be it from me,” she relented, “to tarnish the reputation of the Sisters of Anu.”
 
Noodge howled in agreement.
 
“So whom do we send on this deadly mission of goodwill?” she asked.
 
When Malachi stepped forward, her heart faltered. She knew it was the most logical choice, but the idea made her wingports twitch, and not in a good way. Why did he have to be so noble?
 
“Got some loose ends to tie up anyway,” he said.
 
What did he mean? Xandora, Thurax, Gorlock? This made her worry all the more.
“Loose ends my asteroid. You can get your payback-fix when we all go in. Just get the message to them as safely as possible, and when they refuse, come back to me in one piece.”
 
“You do care,” he said, with a half-smile, making light of her words. But the flash of light in tawny yellow eyes indicated deeper emotion.
 
Port liberated a five-foot atlatl dart from the back-quiver she wore. The wooden shaft, used for war would now be used for improbable peace. “Anybody got some white fabric?”
 
Bliss rummaged in the mini-tote attached to her woven canvas belt. When she came up with an
embroidered white linen handkerchief, hoots of much needed laughter broke out. Only Bliss would carry such a frilly item into battle, and only Malachi would be masculine enough to pull off waiving it at a Rep. Quickly attaching it, Port handed the shaft to him.
 
“This should get you close enough to negotiate. If they balk at talking or show any signs of aggression promise you’ll get the heck out of there. Play it safe.”
 
His smile grew, filled with warmth. “It’s not my style, but for you, I’ll try.”
 
Striding toward the rock wall, as if he hadn’t a care in the world, Malachi set out. By walking rather than flying or flash-moving, it allowed the enemy time to consider his non-threatening approach.
 
The Reps peered down from the stony ledges now holding them prisoners. They brandished their weapons, but made no threatening moves. When Malachi came within shouting distance, he halted and raised the white flag. An exchange of words appeared to follow. Again, when no form of retaliation ensued, she breathed a little easier. Then one Rep threw a rope ladder over the rocky ridge.
 
Malachi advanced, took hold of the hemp, and began to climb. What was he doing? Just deliver the message and leave.The words screamed through her mind with such force she knew he could hear her, but he didn’t alter course. He was going inside.
 
Frick.
 
She should never have let him go, at least not alone.
                                ****
Portence’s ire pommeled him like a physical sensation. But there was no turning back—even if he wanted to—which he didn’t. Unobtrusively using his power of levitation, he swiftly ascended the ladder. At the top, he forced himself to stand calmly as a Rep snatched the flag from his hand, and a second scaly ruffian patted him down for weapons which seemed quite silly since his most powerful armament was his mind.
 
“I’ve a message for Xandora,” he stated.
 
“I’m guessing she has a few words for you as well, traitor.” The Rep with the atlatl dart grinned, and then nodded for him to proceed down the far side of the escarpment. He hadn’t taken three steps toward the heart of the activity before he felt the pointy end of the dart poking him, none too gently, in the back.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

In the third and final installment in the Fae Warriors trilogy, I expected loads of action and Gini delivered…. starting in chapter one. There was green blood and Reps’ brain matter flying here, there…. every-freaking-where. It was a disgusting, fantastic scene — much like a few others. I will shall a few places in the book that stood out for me the most. 

 

1.) Hoover Rats. Ok, I don’t like regular rats but Gini has rats flying around and their packing weapons… aka egg bombs. Just no. Please no. I hope rats never fly, let alone come ready for battle with ANYTHING! 

2.) Portence and Malachi’s love scene: It has fun, sex, creative….. magical. Most importantly, it was memorable and that says a lot because, as an avid reader, I have read A LOT of love scenes. 

3.) I have no desire to ever step one toe onto Dermis III. To survive there, you have to literally shed your skin once every 24 hours due to superficial bugs and viruses. Nope. If I have to live on another planet I want to stay on one resembling Hawaii. Bikinis 24-7, 365 days a year! 

 

As with the above sections of Portence, I enjoyed the final battle scene. After a fiery start, Gini had both sides using whatever tools were at their disposal. You’ll see magic utilized, the elements, man-made weaponry, and even hand-to-hand combat. In the end, you know who wins but maybe you won’t guess so easily what happens to the Fae sisters and their counterparts aka their one true loves. I was happy with the ending and I think you’ll be satisfied as well. 

With humor, romance, action, and reptilian aliens running amuck, this book is a must buy. 

 

Heart Rating System

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:  ❤❤❤❤

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CHECK THESE OUT TOO! 

books_0067

Fae Warrior, Bliss Goodeve, fires up her empath skills to battle the Reptiles invading Earth. But when it comes to her new human partner, Nathaniel Calhoun, Bliss would rather make love than wage war. A man of mystery, she wonders what he’s hiding behind the horn-rimmed glasses and white lab coat.

Nate admits to being a brainiac, at least that’s the persona he shows the outside world. If his boss discovers his troubled past, life could get complicated. The bad boy in Nate wants the beguiling Bliss in the worst way. Yet, the scientist inside him calculates high odds of being left broken-hearted.

After one Reptile goes rogue, it’s up to Bliss, Nate, and an alien critter named Noodge to bring him down. But time is running out, and things are heating up—especially romantically. Bliss is all for living in the moment. But will that be enough for Nate?

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Solace Goodeve, one of Mother Nature’s favorite Fae Warriors, is assigned to Earth to help save the planet. Reptile invaders, disguising themselves as humans, are waging a takeover—and Mother is mad enough to eat asteroids. Solace is ready to prove herself as a warrior, but having a human for a partner is not in her battle plan—even if the man is rugged, ripped, and ready for action.

Army Ranger, Tanner Jackson, has seen his share of black op missions. The last one took a toll on both body and soul. Tanner isn’t looking for love, even though his new partner is six-foot-tall and drop dead gorgeous. However, after Solace shows him a new meaning to working undercover, he may have to reconsider that possibility.

As the Reps plan to sabotage NOAA, Tanner and Solace must learn to trust one another. But as they’re trying to save the world, Solace and Tanner might just lose their hearts—and that takes the most courage of all.

 
 
 
 
 

Gini Rifkin writes adventurous romance, past present, and into the future. Her settings include the American West, Medieval England, Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not reading or writing, she has the privilege of caring for a menagerie of abandoned animals including ducks, geese, rabbits, goats, donkeys, and cats. She was born and raised in Illinois where she went to school to become a registered nurse. When struck by wanderlust, she moved to Colorado and met her husband Gary. They shared the journey for 30 years, spending vacations canoeing, doing Mountain Man reenacting, and traveling around this great country. Although Gary has passed on, he left her with the skills to soldier on alone, and a little bit of him lives on in every hero she creates. Her writing keeps her hungry to keep learning new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.

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Review of “Beyond the Mist (Lake Lanier Mysteries)” – Casi McLean

Piper Taylor concedes she’ll never fall in love, until a treacherous storm spirals her into the arms of the handsome Nick Cramer. Unrelenting remorse over a past relationship haunts Nick, but he can’t deny the mysterious connection and hot desire Piper evokes. 

The allure of a secret portal hidden beneath Atlanta’s Lake Lanier tempts him into seizing the opportunity to change his mistakes. But his time slip triggers consequences beyond his wildest dreams. 

Can Piper avoid the international espionage and terrorism of 2001 New York, find Nick, and bring him home before he alters the fabric of time, or will the lovers drift forever Beyond The Mist?

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Excerpt

A soft mist hovered over the moonlit lake, beckoning, luring him forward with the seductive enticement of a mermaid’s song. Rhythmic clatter of a distant train moaned in harmony with a symphony of cricket chirps and croaking frogs. Spellbound, Nick Cramer took a long breath and waded deeper into the murky cove. Dank air, laden with a scent of soggy earth and pine, crawled across his bare arms. The hairs on the back of his neck bristled, shooting a prickle down his spine that slithered into an icy pool coiled in the pit of his stomach. He clenched his fingers into a tight fist, determined to fight through the emotion consuming him. Fear sliced through his belly like icy shards until he finally heaved, forcing rancid bile to choke into his throat.

I have to do this––he inched forward––only a few more steps and––

A sudden surge swirled around him, yanking him into a whirling vortex, where a violent blue streak dragged him deeper, deeper beneath the lake into the shadowy depths. Heart pounding, he battled against the force, twisting, thrusting toward the surface with all of his strength but, despite his muscular build, he spun like a feather in wind into oblivion. When the mist dissolved, Nick Cramer had vanished.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

Casi McLean touched on many emotions in Beyond the Mist: guilt, love, regret, anger, remorse, and fear. She had us step into the past, relive the horrific moments of 9/11, and feel the desperation to alter a moment in time. If given the opportunity, I can’t imagine many who would not want to tweak those course of events.. despite the unknown changes that might occur in the future. To save a love one. To save everyone. It is so tempting. Nick faced such a temptation and we discovered, with him, how one small change ripples.. tears….. causes more harm than good. 

After the horrific carnage unfolded around them, Nick and Piper had no option but to head back to their time. The past had to stay the past. Instead of an easy journey back to their timeline, these two destined loves got thrust (painfully) into the future.  Again, Casi tapped into two prominent emotions felt throughout this suspenseful tale: fear and love. Nick and Piper feared never going home. Never being together again. But, as you had guessed, love finds a way. They found each other. They found home. But the surprises and twists don’t end then and there. They are not the only two who found a HEA. Plus, she ended the story with one heckuva setup for the next Lake Lanier Mysteries.

 

Heart Rating System 

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Don’t miss out on this great mystery! 
 

A ghost town submerged beneath Atlanta’s famous man-made Lake Lanier reportedly lures victims to a watery grave. But when Lacey Montgomery’s car spins out of control and hurtles into the depths of the icy, black water, she awakens in the arms of a handsome stranger, in a place she’s never heard of — 34 years before she was born.
 
When the 2012 lawyer tangles with the 1949 hunk, fire and ice swirl into a stream of sweltering desire. BobbyReynolds is smitten the moment the storm-ravaged woman opens her eyes. Learning the truth about her origins does nothing to stop the passion from taking root in his heart, and leaves him torn between finding a way to help Lacey return to 2012 or convincing her stay with him.
 
The desperation to find her way home dissolves as Lacey falls in love with a town destined to be erased from the face of the Earth, and the man who vows to protect it. Will the couple discover the key to the mysterious portal before time rips them apart? Or will their star-crossed spirits wander forever through a ghost town buried beneath the lake?

 

BUY NOW AT AMAZON: KINDLE / PAPERBACK
 
 
 

Award winning author, Casi McLean, pens novels to stir the soul with romance, suspense, and a sprinkle of magic. Her writing crosses genres from ethereal, captivating shorts with eerie twist endings to believable time slips, mystical plots, and sensual romantic suspense, like Beneath The Lake, WINNER: 2016 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for BEST Romantic Suspense.

Casi’s powerful memoir, Wingless Butterfly: Healing The Broken Child Within, shares an inspirational message of courage, tenacity, and hope, and displays her unique ability to excel in nonfiction and self-help as well as fiction. Known for enchanting stories with magical description, McLean entices readers in nonfiction as well with fascinating hooks to hold them captive in storylines they can’t put down.

Her romance entwines strong, believable heroines with delicious hot heroes to tempt the deepest desires then fans the flames, sweeping readers into their innermost romantic fantasies. Ms. McLean weaves exceptional romantic mystery with suspenseful settings and lovable characters you’ll devour. You’ll see, hear, and feel the magical eeriness of one fateful night. You’ll swear her time travel could happen, be mystified by her other worldly images, and feel heat of romantic suspense, but most of all you’ll want more.

Award Winning Author

2016 Best Romantic Suspense

Winner Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 

Winner 2016 Best Heroine Still Moments Magazine

2016 Aspen Gold Finalist for Best Romantic Suspense

2015 Top Pick by Night Owl Reviews

2015 Chicago Fire and Ice Finalist

2014 Winner 2014 AWC Short Story Award

 
 

 

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🎃 Happy Hallow’s Eve! 🎃

I love Halloween because I enjoy seeing the various costumes. Whether I am astounded by a person’s creativity or left smiling over a trick or treater’s cuteness, I never end the night with a sad face. Below, I have shared a few photos that I thought were memorable from past Halloweens. Enjoy and remember be safe out there. 

 

 

👻HAPPY HALLOWEEN 👻

 

 

Photoed: “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson

 

Photoed: Ariana Grande

 

Photoed: Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson

 

Photoed: Serge Ibaka & Keri Hilson

 

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Author Showcase – Marie Harte (All I Want for Halloween)

TONIGHT, SHE PLANS TO LET GO.
Dressed up and anonymous, Sadie Liberato feels powerful, sexy and free. Where better to lose herself than a masked party?

Gear Blackstone’s cheating ex and scheming best friend have managed to spin his life into a serious downward spiral. At least with a mask on he can cut loose for one night. And cut loose he does—with the sexiest, snarkiest chick he’s ever met.

After a scorching-hot encounter, Sadie and Gear are desperate to find each other in real life. But can the heat last when the masks come off?

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Excerpt courtesy of Marie Harte’s Website

 

The music’s tempo jolted the partyers to new heights of enthusiasm.

“Great DJ,” Devil said, his foot tapping to the beat.

She found herself doing the same. “No kidding.” She eyed the tiny corn dogs on his plate. He had half a dozen. She wondered if he’d miss one… “Hey, is that B-Man over there?” she asked.

When he turned his head, she stole an appetizer off his plate and shoved it in her mouth. Oh yeah, Elliot would be thrilled to see her display her “house manners” in public.

The devil turned back to her. “Not him.” He frowned at his plate, then at her full mouth. “Did you just steal my food?”

“Nope,” she answered around a mouthful.

He stared at her for a moment, then burst into laughter. It was a full-bodied laugh, holding nothing back. Charming and real. She put Devil at the top of her list.

She swallowed, wishing she had something more to drink. As he finished off his plate, he glanced at her clean one, then at her. When he sighed and handed her his beer, she took it gratefully.

“No backwash, I promise.” She opened her mouth to show him hers was clean, then downed half the bottle. “Damn, that was good.”

He blinked. “Ah, you want more?”

“No, no. You drink that. I’ll go get some.”

She moved to go, but he grabbed her arm. They both paused. Together, they glanced down at his large hand on her wrist, and he dropped her arm. “Ah, that’s okay. You stay here. I’ll get you something. Beer? More chow?”

She nodded. “Um, both, thanks. I’ll save your place.”

He left, and she watched his progress as he cut a swath through the crowd. Yes, the devil made his own path. This time, no one bothered him as he returned posthaste. To her surprise, she was glad. The guy smelled good, a hint of subtle cologne that went straight to her head. He had a kickin’ body and a great smile. But that air of Don’t fuck with me really turned her on—ah, made her amenable to his presence.

Talk about a wordy mouthful. At the thought, she found herself glancing down his body to see what else might be a mouthful.

Jesus, Sadie. Get your head out of the gutter, girl.

“You okay?” Temptation leaned closer. “You look a little flushed.”

“You can tell in this lighting?” she teased, trying to get it together.

“Good point.” He handed her a beer, placed his own down on the table, and then put a plate overloaded with goodies on top of their empties. “This is to share. To share,” he said slowly.

“Yeah, yeah. Man, I’m starved.” She fell on the plate as if the Russians were coming.

To her amusement, he fought with her for the cheese curls as much as for the mini egg rolls, and they devoured the snacks in good company.

They talked with their mouths full, making fun of the drunken genie as well as several unsuccessful hookups on the dance floor.

“Oh, now that had to hurt,” the devil said. “Rejected by a zombie and her warty witch friend.”

“Yeah, but he’s not taking it personally.” Sadie took another sip of beer, loving the fact he hadn’t gotten her a sissy glass to drink from. “See? He’s turning from the undead to slutty doctor chick.”

“Slutty? Isn’t that non-PC?” he sneered, and she thought he sounded familiar, but the loud music made it difficult to tell. “Because I say the wrong thing about a woman, not a ‘chick,’ and I’m a caveman asshole setting women’s rights back twenty years.”

“Well, I can say slutty. You have to say sexually adventurous.” Sadie grinned. “Kind of like telling a gay guy he’s a raging homo. Now I can say that, because my brother earned the title. But you try telling him that, and he’ll knock your head off. And call him anything else, and I’ll knock your head off.” She hefted her fake sword before leaning it against the wall. “Don’t try me.”

He shrugged. “You have a sword. I have a pitchfork…somewhere. I think I left it by the bar.” He glanced across the room. “But hey, I have no plans to tangle with your brother. I’m here to sin until this thing is over. Nothing else, and no fights.” He paused, and she swore he added something else under his breath.

At that moment, her brother appeared in the crowd, his gaze searching.

“Shit.”

“What?”

She took Devil by the waist and turned him, noticing how he tensed but ignoring it. “Sorry. I’m having fun not mingling, and my brother is right over there looking for me.”

He relaxed and glanced over his shoulder. “Which one?”

“See the Phantom? He’s a pain in my ass, much as I love him. I didn’t want to come to this tonight, you know.”

“Yeah? Me neither.” He stayed where he was, still watching the dance floor. “Uh-oh. He’s looking over here.”

“Crap, crap, crap. This is a primo spot!” She did what any smart woman in her situation would do. She turned Devil so he completely blocked her from Elliot. “I need to blend in. Work with me, would you?”

“Sure, what—?”

She wrapped her arms around his thick neck and dragged him down for a kiss.

At the taste of his lips against hers, she shuddered, not having expected he’d taste better than his beer, or that up close and personal he’d smell like man and sex and chocolate. Chocolate?

Jesus, she must have had too much to drink.

Then he dragged her closer and deepened the angle of their kiss.

Sadie forgot about her brother, about the last crab cake on the plate, about how much she didn’t want to be at the party.

And fell into the arms of a man who kissed like the devil himself.

 

 

 

MH2cropped

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Award-winning author Marie Harte has been writing professionally since 2005. She’s both a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author and has written over 100 books and counting. Marie writes books with heat, humor, and Harte. ♥

She writes independently and for several publishers, to include Sourcebooks and Entangled. Though currently writing contemporary romance, she also writes paranormal and romantic suspense. Basically, everything romance with a touch of spice. 

Before turning to writing full-time, she earned a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and spent several years in the United States Marine Corps as a communications officer.

Marie currently lives in Central Oregon with her family. There’s nothing she likes more than finding a good book to read and a great cup of coffee to drink.

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Author Showcase – G.E. Stills (When Cold Hearts Melt)

For the 18+ reader: Strong language and descriptive sex scenes. Extensive BDSM play.

When Holt answers the door of his hotel room, high priced call girl, Valorie, considers him just another john. Her plan is to go out to eat, maybe go dancing. After that she’ll spend the night with him, then go home. It will be just another business evening.

This was not going to be a normal evening. Her first clue was when he put a collar around her neck and attached a leash. Next, he told her to put on her coat and boots, but nothing else. “We’re leaving the hotel,” he told her. Hours later, Valorie has been kidnapped, humiliated and is being held captive on an island. She doesn’t know where the island is located, or what Holt’s ultimate plan is. It’s not for the sex she was hired for, she’s certain of that.

 

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**Excerpt**

 

Holt pinched her chin between his thumb and forefinger and tilted her head up. “You were a good girl in there.” He leaned in to kiss her and she twisted her neck at the last second so his kiss landed on her cheek instead.

“It’s my policy to not kiss clients on the lips,” she said.

“I see,” Holt said, and pulled back.

A cab pulled up and Holt held the door for her then slid in beside her. He gave the driver an address she didn’t recognize and the cab pulled away from the curb. Thirty minutes later they pulled into one of the smaller airports that served the area rather than the international one she was familiar with. The cab let them out at a two-story building and he guided her inside. A single, what she thought of as a ticket counter, occupied one side of the room and a man stood behind it. There were two rows of seats and three people, a man and two women, sitting in them.

Instead of going to the doors that led onto the tarmac, Holt guided her to a set of stairs that led up. At the top, he opened the door there and a blast of cold air smacked her in the face. Holt guided her across the lighted roof observation area to the outer wall that rose to just above her knees. From there up was a fence made of wire that reached over her head.

While the cold bit at her, falling snow collected on her shoulders and in her hair. A red and silver business jet was parked on the tarmac below. It was the only plane there. “Nice plane, I wonder who it belongs to.”

“Me,” he said.

Valorie glanced at him and her estimate of his wealth rose.

“We’re going to be flying out of St. Paul soon, but we have a few things to take care of first.”

“First of all, Mr. Frazier, I, nor my booking agency, ever agreed to leave the city. Second, remember you’ve only rented my services until tomorrow morning.”

“An oversite I intend to take care of right now.” Holt pulled his phone out of his suit jacket and called the agency. “Mr. Frazier again, I’ve decided I like Valorie and wish to retain her services for the entire weekend.” He waited to listen, then continued. “Yes, that amount is fine. Put it on my card.” Another pause. “I’ll have her back Monday morning. Thank you.”

He put the phone back in his pocket and smiled at her. “I’ve extended your services until Monday.”

“So I gathered.”

“Okay that’s taken care of. Next on my list; take your coat off, Val.”

“You’re fucking insane. I don’t have anything on under my coat and it’s freezing out here. Besides, I won’t get naked in public.”

Holt rubbed his chin. “Won’t? Or just haven’t had the proper motivation?”

Valorie said nothing, she just glared at him.

“I guess we’ll see.” He dug into his wallet and took out a bill but didn’t show her its value. “This is what I’m asking. You’ll take your coat off, then walk down the stairs with me and out onto that plane wearing nothing but your boots and jewelry.”

“For a fifty, or even a hundred, no damn way. It’s cold out here and there’s people down there”

“What if the bill is a five hundred? And you can put on this.” He dug into the sports bag and handed her a black mask that covered her eyes and nose.

She swallowed hard. “What do you think I am?” she growled.

“We both know what you are, Val. Your body is for hire. We just have to negotiate how much money it will take to motivate you into doing what I ask.”

“I beginning to hate you, Holt.”

He chuckled. “Hand me your coat.”

Valorie frowned, then, in resignation, untied her coat, slipped it from her shoulders and handed it to Holt. Her nipples stiffened immediately, and goose bumps formed on the rest of her body. Flakes of snow had collected in her hair and now they touched the rest of her with cold biting kisses. Her teeth began to chatter.

“All right, I’m naked and standing in the cold, satisfied?” she snarled.

“Not quite.” Holt stretched her arms above her head. “Hook your fingers in the fence wire.” Reaching down he slapped her inner thighs while ordering her to spread her legs. “Now hold that pose,” he said.

Valorie peered down at the workers around the plane and tears filled her eyes. They were partly from the cold and partially from humiliation. If any of them should look up she was fully displayed for them. She envied the hooded jackets they wore. Twice a flash of light highlighted her and Valorie knew Holt had snapped pictures.

He slapped one of her butt cheeks, the coldness magnifying the sting that radiated outward and causing the cheek to tense reflexively. The smack sounded loud as a gun report in the silence. “Ow, fuck, that hurt, Holt. You got your nudie pictures, can we go in now?” she asked.

“Not just yet. Turn around and face me in the same pose.”

Valorie spun, hooked her fingers in the fence again and waited for him to snap two more pictures of her in full frontal pose.

“Excellent. You’re a gorgeous woman, Val,” he said.

“Humph. Can we go inside now? I’m freezing my tits off.”

Holt stepped closer and pulled down on the leash attached to the back of her collar. His action forced her head to tilt back, her breasts to jut forward, and her back to arch.

“You’re an asshole Holt,” she snarled.

He grinned. “I’m your client, indulge me.”

“Danm it, take me inside before I turn into a Popsicle.”

“What will you do for me if I agree to take you inside?”

“What do you want? A blowjob? You want me to lick your balls?”

“The price of taking you inside is a kiss…full on the lips. Right here and right now.”

“Fine! You win. I’ll kiss you.”

Holts grin widened. “I’ve changed my mind and I’m upping the cost.”

“What the hell do you want?” Her lips trembled from the cold and frustration.

“The price is still a kiss, but the open mouth, tongues jousting kind.”

Tears gathered at the corners of her eyes. “Okay, but do it now while I can still feel my lips.”

Holt pulled her into embrace and sealed his mouth to hers. His suit coat was cold but infinitely warmer than her bare skin. The taste of his kiss and the passion behind it nearly stole her breath.

Holt broke their kiss, and said, “See? Bending your rules and kissing me wasn’t so bad was it?”

Valorie frowned at him. “Fuck you.”

“That will come later at the time and in the manor of my choosing, not yours.”

Valorie bit her half frozen lip to silence her retort and glared at him instead. Holt gathered the sports bag and her coat then took her hand. “Let’s get you inside now.”

“Thank you. I’m freezing. I’m going to turn blue.”

“Are you ready to go in without clothes, Val?”

“Yes.”

Leaning down, he stuffed the bill into her boot, again preventing her from seeing its value. When they entered the building and the door closed behind them, she relished the warmth. At the bottom of the steps they paused before going into the lobby. Holt held one of her hands and she automatically placed the hand of the other over her pussy.

“Uncover yourself and put your arm at your side,” he ordered.

She growled but did as he commanded. Valorie wanted to dash across the lobby, but Holt’s restraining hand prevented her from doing so. Instead they crossed at a slow pace. The man behind the counter gawked at her as did the trio that was seated. Her nipples slowly relaxed from their stiff condition.

“I feel like some damn prize racehorse that you’re parading around for people to see and admire,” she grumbled beneath her breath at him.

“I’ve had racehorses before and they were fantastic to display for all to see. They’re beautiful and so are you. If my plans work out, you’ll probably cost me more than a racehorse.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she asked.

Just as they reached the door leading out onto the tarmac, the man seated behind the counter spoke, causing her to forget her question to Holt. “Nice handprint on that tight ass of yours, babe.”

Valorie’s cheeks heated. “Fuck you,” she mumbled low enough that only Holt could hear.

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G.E. Stills is zany but has a serious side. He lives in the southwest with a wife and two fur babies. He cares deeply for his friends and hasn’t met an animal yet he didn’t like. He lives in the southwest but often longs to live by the sea. He frequently says, “We have the sandy beaches but where is the water?”

Most days will find him hovering over his keyboard putting to words the stories of the many characters that pace into his mind. Their tales are both serious and humorous. A multi-published author, his stories cover many genres including contemporary, paranormal, and science fiction. Most of his stories have action, adventure, and humor. Some of them are erotic and some are not, but all have romance. His paranormal stories normally involve witches, demons or vampires with an occasional shape shifter thrown in for good measure.

G.E. Stills loves to hear from his readers and can be contacted at any of these sites.

Website / Blog / Youtube
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Author Showcase – Susan R. Hughes (Romance Novella: Halloween Kisses – An Office Love Story)

One kiss can change everything. Dulcie has had a secret crush on her co-worker Rowan for ages, but she’s too shy to let him know, and preoccupied with raising her rebellious teenage sister. When she bumps into him in the darkness of a haunted barn, she can’t resist stealing just one kiss.

That kiss enchants Rowan. If only he could figure out the identity of the woman whose kiss haunts him. While running from a troubled past, he may find that the woman he least suspects could lead him out of the dark forever.

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Chapter One courtesy of Susan R. Hughes’ Website

 

Two weeks before Halloween

The first kiss happened in the dark. It couldn’t have happened otherwise. Though Dulcie had longed to kiss Rowan for ages, ever since he first ambled by her cubicle at the office and tossed her one of his affable smiles, she wouldn’t have dared to let him know. How could she? Rowan Pearce was beautiful. Self-assured. Magnetic. Everything Dulcie Brooks wasn’t.

Of course she hadn’t planned the kiss. Kisses were the furthest thing from her mind as she strode toward the haunted barn at Sumner’s Farm. The ramshackle building stood on a small rise overlooking the farm’s expansive cornfields on one side and forest on the other. Above the craggy black outline of the treetops, a half-moon gleamed against a swath of inky sky.

Stepping around the slanted, weathered-looking gravestones that flanked the path leading to the barn’s entrance, Dulcie merged with the lineup of visitors waiting for the dour Frankenstein’s monster guarding the door to usher them inside. Red lights glowed in windows laced with cobwebs, where shadowy faces peered out and ominous moans and creaks emanated from within the wood-plank walls. Cheesy as heck, but just creepy enough to rouse goose bumps on her arms.

When a pair of hands gripped her shoulders from behind, Dulcie jerked and let out a startled squeak.

The hands pawed her hair. “Brains! I must find brains to eat. Where can I find brains?”

She spun to face her coworker, Nora, who flashed a wicked grin.

Dulcie folded her arms over her chest. “So very droll.”

“Scared?” Nora waggled menacing eyebrows. In the evening dark, the shadows crossing her face deepened the hollows of her eyes, lending her normally elfin features a ghoulish aspect.

“Only afraid that you’ll flay the skin off my arms like you did on that haunted hayride.” Dulcie plucked a sprig of straw from Nora’s pale blond curls. Huddled in the tractor-drawn wagon that had brought them to the barn, Nora had screamed like a six-year-old as zombies and masked men with chainsaws emerged from the woods and shambled behind in chase. Dulcie could still feel the fingernail gouges in the delicate flesh above her elbow.

Nora laughed. “This place is a blast. Why didn’t you bring your sister?”

Dulcie rubbed her hands along the sleeves of her cardigan, where the October chill seeped through to her skin. “Allie didn’t want to come and hang out with my stuffy old coworkers at some lame team-building thing.”

“Stuffy? Well, she may have a point. We’re not exactly the most with-it crowd–evidenced by the fact that the only term I can come up with is ‘with-it’.”

Dulcie slid off her glasses and used the edge of her cardigan to wipe a fine coating of dust from the lenses. “She had plans to go out with some friends tonight. Lord knows where, or what shady business they’re up to.”

The lineup inched forward, and Dulcie glanced at her coworkers, a mixture of staff from several departments at the head office of River’s Edge Adventure Gear. Alan McCarthy, the company’s vice president who had arranged the outing, waited at the front of the line.

Directly behind Alan, she spotted Rowan, his hands resting casually in the pockets of his fleece jacket while he chatted with copywriter Andy Newman. Normally she tried not to let her gaze linger on Rowan for too long, but she couldn’t resist the occasional glimpse at the strong lines of his profile and soft sweep of his blond hair.

Glancing away, she gave herself a silent scolding. At twenty-six, she was far too old to be caught in the throes of a secret crush. Especially when she’d barely spoken to the man in question in the nine months they’d worked two floors apart in the same building.

“My kids wouldn’t come, either,” Nora commiserated. “It’s for the best that they aren’t here to witness my embarrassing cowardice. It might scar them for life.”

Dulcie glanced back at her. “At least they’re at home with your husband, not roving the streets with their hoodlum friends.”

One edge of Nora’s mouth lifted. “You sound like a mom.”

“I’m the closest thing to a mom that Allie has right now. Someone has to worry about her.”

Nora’s hands settled on Dulcie’s shoulders again, but with a reassuring squeeze this time. “She’s seventeen. Rebellion is natural at that age. And, as her guardian, you have the pleasure of reining in that rebellion. But don’t fret so much. This isn’t big bad Toronto, it’s Donnington, Ontario’s most innocuous city. There’s nothing scarier here than this ridiculous haunted barn.”

“The shambling, grungy-haired, tobacco-reeking boy she hangs out with scares me more than anything lurking about here.” Dulcie heaved a sigh. “At her age, I was home every evening, usually studying or curled up in front of the TV. No parties or boyfriends. I never gave our mother a moment’s anxiety.”

“You don’t say,” Nora replied dryly.

Dulcie shot her a withering glance.

“It’s just that you’re a cautious, by-the-book sort of person. In a good way. Everyone appreciates how reliable you are.”

Boring and predictable, you mean. Dulcie opened her mouth to offer a rebuttal, but couldn’t think of one before the line ahead began to move and Nora nudged her forward.

Within a couple of minutes, Frankenstein’s monster lifted his moldy hand to direct them through the doorway into the barn. Dulcie entered ahead of Nora, her stomach tightening a little as she passed the threshold and headed into a darkened corridor. She felt Nora close behind, breathing raggedly, the toes of her shoes bumping Dulcie’s heels.

“Stay close to me,” Nora whispered, dread lacing her voice.

Dulcie folded her arms tight over her chest to avoid Nora’s clutching hands. She shuffled toward a corner dimly illuminated by blinking lights. Eerie moans echoed through the walls.

A figure leaned out from an alcove–a vampire baring his fangs–and Dulcie jolted. Nora gasped, while the teenaged girl behind them let out a startled shriek.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Dulcie muttered, walking onward while the vampire retreated behind a curtain.

Rounding the corner, with Nora still at her heels, she passed a series of mutilated corpses and skeletons suspended from hooks, and then entered a corridor lined with formal portraits of ghoulish half-decomposed subjects.

Nora bent close to a portrait of a woman wearing a black Victorian dress and hat. “Look at this one,” she said. “The eyes seem to follow you.”

Just then, the woman in the painting opened her mouth wide and screamed. Nora yelped and jumped back, splaying her hands over her face.

“Oh my God, Dulcie. This place is gonna give me a freakin’ heart attack.”

Dulcie gripped her elbow. “Come on. We’re halfway through.”

In the next room, in order to pass they had to push through a cluster of decapitated heads dangling from ropes, eerily aglow in sickly green light. Dulcie wrinkled her nose and shoved through the rubber props.

Emerging on the other side, she realized she’d lost track of her companion. She spun to look back, but a crush of teenagers in the narrow doorway blocked her view. “Nora?”

No response came, and to avoid being trampled she had to move forward into a pitch-black passage. Staring blindly, Dulcie pressed her hand to the rough planked wall. Whispers and nervous laughter echoed around her. It was all cheesy special effects and cheap scares, but she couldn’t help the frisson of nervous tension that ran down her spine as she stumbled through the dark, not knowing what might leap out at her at the next turn.

She took a step away from the wall and collided with a warm body. Hands closed around her upper arms and she jolted.

“Sorry. Are you all right?”

Dulcie froze, and then wavered on her feet. Rowan’s voice. Her pounding heart tripped over itself while his hands remained on her arms, steadying her. She could read in his tentative tone that he didn’t know who she was.

She couldn’t find her voice. Rowan Pearce stood inches from her, touching her. Heat flared from her skin under his fingers and rippled through her body. With her heart throbbing in her throat and her insides quaking, something came over her–an impulse too powerful to resist, a long-repressed compulsion unleashed in the cover of darkness.

Finding his elbow, in a single swift motion she slid her hand up the soft sleeve of his jacket and over the collar, touched his neck, and then traced the line of his jaw with her fingertips. Skimming her thumb across his lips to fix their location, she leaned in and pressed her mouth to his.

Excitement exploded inside her. His supple, warm lips tasted of the salty-sweet caramel popcorn she’d seen him eating during the wagon ride.

To her surprise and pleasure, Rowan didn’t pull away. His grip on her arms tightened a fraction as his mouth molded to hers and glided against her lips.

Though blind in the dark, Dulcie let her eyes flutter closed. The kiss lasted only a few seconds, but filled her senses with heat and longing.

Excited voices and giggles erupted from around the corner, just before a crush of bodies jostled Dulcie and Rowan apart. Shrieks filled the darkness. She stumbled sideways, dazed and disoriented, her hands flailing. The fingers of one hand scraped the wall while the other brushed against the people shuffling past. Rowan was gone.

She found her bearings when a sliver of light pierced the dark as a nearby door cracked open. The door opened further and she stumbled toward it, following a woman ahead of her onto the grass outside.

While the evening chill cooled her heated cheeks, Dulcie blinked and glanced around at the people scattered behind the barn. She didn’t see Rowan among them.

A hand closed over her shoulder and she whirled around.

Nora stared at her with reproach. “Where were you? I thought you were right in front of me.”

Dulcie cleared her dry, tight throat. “Lost my way for a bit.”

Shuddering, Nora hugged herself. “I didn’t like it in there. Too crowded. What did you think?”

“It was … fun. Kind of a rush,” Dulcie said. She still felt slightly dazed, as though she’d just woken from an intense and titillating dream.

“But would you do it again?”

She bit her lip to keep a grin from spreading over her face. Yeah, in a heartbeat.

 

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I’m a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and historical romance. Nothing gets my heart pumping like a good love story with absorbing emotion, plenty of passion, and an old-fashioned happy ending. That’s why I write romance, and I’m thrilled to share these stories with you. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, with my husband and three children.

To  find out about my sales and new releases, sign up for my newsletter. You can also like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter.

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Review of “The Damsel and the Dragon: Seven of Stars” – Mae McKinnon

As a child, Linandra spent many hours slaying monsters and having adventures. 

So, when faced with a future containing little in the way of excitement (but plenty of cereals) she gathered up her courage and set out into the world. 

It soon turned out that becoming a dashing hero – or any hero at all – wasn’t as easy as the stories made it out to be; if someone’s garden was, say, infested with weedrats, they sought to hire a mercenary, not a waif off the streets. 

Now on a journey going nowhere, when Lin comes upon an old barn, all she’s really looking for is respite from the cold. But this is a place which holds more secrets than it does hay and Linandra soon finds herself dragged into the lives of wizards, cleaning-ladies and other, even stranger, folk. Much to her chagrin, this also includes Setharrion, who is trying very hard not to let his own past catch up with him.

She’d spent years looking for a second chance. Now it had found her. Only, it wasn’t like anything she’d ever imagined… 

She was, however, very grateful that it didn’t eat her.

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Excerpt

 

What she really wanted was to be back in her bed at her last attempt at holding down a job. Even more, she wanted to be back in her own bed. The one she’d always had, growing up.

It had been hard and narrow and there hadn’t been much in terms of bedclothes, but they had been there. Right now, even that sounded appealing. Being back home, going about what you did every day. Was that really so bad?

Lin’s thoughts strayed, as if trying to find anything else to think about but the current situation, while edging another step closer to the ground. Her knuckles turned white where she gripped the bars.

A shivering foot swung down, searching for the next rung in the dark.

What had she been thinking, switching that dead certainty of her future for this? That every day would be the same? That she’d know what she’d be doing ten, even twenty, years from now?

And what had she exchanged it for? All this? She hadn’t even found a place for herself yet. Not after her last position went down the drain, quite literally.

A tumbled drop down to the ground and a loud ‘ouff’ when she misjudged the last bar on the ladder and she couldn’t fall any further. Once there, Lin knew that the path between her and the barn doors was devoid of obstacles and those had, inside of them, a much smaller normal door that she could go through without all the hassle of towing open the big ones.

That’s what she normally used when sneaking out.

Tonight, she never got the chance.

Accompanied by a whole series of rumbles and forks of blazing light zigzagging through the air those large barn doors flew open. As if forced aside by the sheer power of the wind, they greeted the storm beyond in its unbridled fury.

Linandra became transfixed to the ground. Her vividly green eyes, thrown open as wide as the doors, stared almost without seeing. Her mouth fell open, gaping like a fish out of water. The gale tore at her long hair, whipping it all around her, but she didn’t notice.

The next bolt of lightning caught her off-guard and as she peered out into what was left of the night, the night looked right back.

‘Oh, mother of all that is,’ Lin whimpered, while the rest of her mind went blank.

The lightningstrike had just lit up what was in front of her. She’d been happier if it hadn’t.

It was big. No, big didn’t even come close. It was huge. Humongous. A veritable mountain of flesh and armoured plating. The rainwater wasn’t just trickling off its skin, it was cascading down from its body in torrents and lightning reflected off the powerful flanks every time the sky sizzled and frayed.

If it hadn’t been for the illumination of the thunderbolts, she never would have seen it. From tip to tail it gleamed with a deep, inky, black. It was as if the night had coalesced from smooth velvet into rocky crags. If crags could move with a purpose.

Had it been moving away, Lin would have followed its progress, even been impressed by the sheer, raw, power it exuded. But it was getting closer and every part of her mind that hadn’t already shut down, was screaming with primal urges to run away—if only she hadn’t been frozen in intimidation.

While the storm continued to rage around them it was being pushed into the background for Lin. The rain kept streaming in through the opening in the barn, hitting her in the face, but she no longer saw that either.

The body before her gleamed, slick with rainwater. The muscles bulged even as it stood still, as if had been caught in motion, readying a leap into the sky.

Immense wings, still partly extended, blackened out parts of the heavens, drowning her world in shadow, like an eclipse to the suns.

The head, this close up, seemed elongated with noble, if craggy, features as they reached the crest, and it was crowned with a whole array of short horns and spikes carrying on down the neck.

But that wasn’t where her attention was. It was the eyes. Luminous orbs in the dark. Yellow and red with fire, they filled her world. Looking into them you could, almost, believe you could see beyond them, into a world twirling and spinning and, without any doubt whatsoever, looking right back at her.

For a brief moment, the two of them stood there, motionless, in the rain and the wind. Then, lowering its head, the dragon approached the gaping hole in the barn.

Held by the same almost hypnotic gaze as the mouse caught out by a viper and, foraging for food, becoming food itself, Lin couldn’t move. Her breath came in short, jagged bursts.

The jaws, slightly parted, were only meters away when Lin finally managed to break away. She scuttled backwards.

To her horror the dragon pursued even if it had to crouch down to fit through the doors. But it didn’t pounce. Surely it saw her? It couldn’t be ignoring her, could it?

Its steps light, each one still made the nearby ground shiver every time one of those clawed feet hit the ground. And what claws they were … more like an armful of talons. Or should that be a foot-full of talons? Four whole sets of them.

Creeping forwards, moving with a grace and dignity that belied the cramped location, the midnight dragon entered the barn. And as it wrapped its tail around its feet, the doors slammed shut behind it.

She was trapped. Trapped, with a huge, toothy beast only meters away. Why, oh why weren’t any alarms sounding? They must have them in this place, surely? No one wanted a rampaging dragon dropping in unannounced. Dragons raided places like this, didn’t they?

A calmer mind might have asked itself, that if a dragon raiding party had arrived, then why was it curling up like a cat that had just returned home from a three-day excursion, in a wooden, very flammable structure, rather than roaring and gnashing its teeth at everything in sight.

By now, body parts should have been raining from the sky, screaming and wailing coming from the people still alive.

That’s what dragons did. Everyone she knew said so. That was why all those knights in all those stories had always needed to go off protecting the kingdoms from them.

Dragons were beasts: huge, hulking brutes that breathed fire and trampled everything in their wake.

This one, however, was making itself comfortable in the middle of the open planned structure. The tail was, slowly, draping itself around the series of support pillars that held up the loft. Its tip scraped against the bottom wood, creating furrows where the soft material was no match for the hard scales.

Guess that explained those marks she’d seen earlier, Lin figured, in between the madness. What an odd thought to have pop into your mind at a time like this, Lin chided herself. 

By now, the dragon had nestled its head on top of its front paws. It didn’t seem like it was planning on going anywhere, anytime soon.

The problem—and since she was still alive it was a somewhat smaller problem than, say, five minutes ago—was that the dragon was looking right at her. It was a calm gaze, filled more with amusement than cunning. But it was looking right at her.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

When we visualize a dragon, we form an image of a humungous, snarling beast determined to bring havoc, death and destruction. However, in The Damsel and the Dragon we learn dragons can be gentle, compassionate, loving, and protectors of all — humans or otherwise. Kaherion possessed all the above qualities and so did Setharrion (Seth). Being a beast doesn’t always equate a monster. Lin, a humanoid, was a witness to their softer side. They were patient with her when she gave them attitude. Seth, in fact, rescued her on more than one occasion. He charmed her. He was playful. He was a dragon worth knowing – worth caring about. Joran, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. He was a true beast and did have carnage in his sights. When the dragons battled, the book really heated up. 

 

Now, even though, I thought the fist 2/3 of the story was dragging a bit there were some memorable scenes. 

1.) Seth (in human form) groaning about nails and their lack of importance. Also, him clothes shopping was quite a funny experience (for me, not so much him). Let’s not forget his sweet tooth. Cute.  

2.) Lin’s pet dragonling was just adorable, in a highly mischievous way. It behaved like an ordinary unruly pet. It chewed on inappropriate things, needed obedient school, and liked to do its own thing. Sounds like new puppy behavior to me. 

 

Once again, I must state that once Lin and Seth came face to face the book picked up much needed steam. My interest, which seemed to be diminishing, was captured. Seth was just so likable, a sweetie. When Lin confronted him in dragon form, I almost snickered at his reaction. He whined, folks. That moment made the whole chapter for me! 

 

**This book did end with a HEA but also left it wide open for more adventurous tales.**

 

Heart Rating System 

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

 Score: ❤❤❤

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Mae is a creature of contradiction: The type of person who loves to discover new things, and faraway places, but worries about sticking her nose into the shop she’s walked past every day for years and years and who can be as much a starry eyed idealist as the most bitter of cynics, about the same thing, at the same time. If you think this is exhausting – you’re right.

There’s absolutely nothing contradictory about her love of reading or writing though – and she happily does both as much as she can (it’s true what they say, there never IS enough bookshelf space). Somewhere along the line, this will, probably, involve dragons 🙂

Incidentally, she also wishes she could type as fast as her imagination runs and that someone really should come up with a reliable way to train muses and characters to stick with the story and don’t go chrono-hopping, explore strange new alternate realities or, even worse, insist on bringing home plot-bunnies.   

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Dragonquill Publishing

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Interview with Daniel Curzon

 

  1. Welcome, Daniel Curzon (pronounced Kerr-Zin). For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Daniel) I started as a writer by putting on plays as a child in Detroit despite the neighborhood bullies. They all died young. 

 

  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(Daniel) If people have a “block” I think they are not writing out their resentments enough. Write them out but not in the first person. Also let “them” have some of the best lines. You have to find something essential to your personality to use as motivation. Everything irritates me, so I never have writer’s block.

 

 

 

  1. Contrary to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Daniel) I am about as far from a romance writer as you can get. I write to reveal what I think other people don’t get right — the irregularities of the truth, not what orthodoxy says is the truth, neither all left or all right. There is obviously porn. There is also Emotional Porn.

When not writing, I watch men beating each other up in MMA. 

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Daniel) I think it best not to show your writing to those who know you, especially if it is about them. You won’t be telling the truth if you show them what you have written. Lie and hide it asked what it’s in it.

 

  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(Daniel) My favorite authors are Nathanael West and John Steinbeck. West was the first writer I sensed was not so much an influence as a similar sensibility — that life is a bitter, dark comedy. I liked Steinbeck in my innocent, liberal past.

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(Daniel) My movie would be The Big Book of In-Your-Face Gay Etiquette, starring Brad Pitt, and then me winning the first of my ten Oscars for Best Screenplay. 

 

In some places it is the best of times to be gay. In other places it is the worst. If you have chosen to be gay – and why wouldn’t you? – remember to 1) be proud, but watch your back at all times, and 2) to be good, except when you shouldn’t. This is the 3rd and completely updated 21st Century Edition of the classic, bestselling reference for Gay Proper Etiquette. Revised and expanded for any sophisticated audience some ‘interesting’ millennial changes have occurred over the years from 1982 to the present. “Daniel Curzon is a comic genius.” (Amos Lassen Reviews) “The absolute must-read at US-military . . . worldwide, now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is officially cancelled.” (Executive Editor Wisehouse Publishing) Daniel Curzon has never been afraid of controversy and has been on the cutting edge of several major social and political issues. He is the author of many books of fiction and plays, including the landmark gay protest novel “Something You Do in the Dark” (G.P. Putnam, 1971). (“I greatly admire Daniel Curzon for writing this novel.” – Christopher Isherwood) (“Engrossing, powerful, and disturbing.” – Joyce Carol Oates).

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  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Daniel) I’m thinking of next writing a musical about Guerneville Sal, who was a saloon entertainer from 1849-1851. She sang saucy, dirty versions of Xmas carols for the Forty-Niners. Sal was rumored to be a man. 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Daniel) My books are on Amazon.com and on the Wisehouse website. Buy a book of plays, for god’s sake!

 

~~ Sample of what’s offered on the sites ~~

COLLECTED PLAYS of DANIEL CURZON (VOLUME I, 1977-1982) 

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The Delicious Memoirs of Daniel Curzon, chronicles the author’s encounters with dozens and dozens of gay and/or gay-hating figures in American literature and theatre from the early nineteen sixties very nearly to the present. The bulk of the many short pieces was written in 1986, and is followed by copious updates on most of the people named.

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  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Daniel) Contact me via danielcurzon.com    

I think people might be surprised how much is there.

My email is curzon@pacbell.net

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Daniel) The Oracle at Delphi once predicted that I would be world famous.  Under her breath she said, “But not until you are one hundred and one.” 

I’m working on it. 

 

~~ Closing remarks ~~

Thank you Daniel for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for me. Based off a scan of your website, I see you are truly a busy fella. It sure does have a lot of content! 

Visitors, I want to also thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed your time here and I’m sure Daniel appreciates your visit as well. Oh, I am sure he would love to hear from you (here, his site or through email). Before you go, may I ask you to stick around and check out just one more book. It’s Daniel’s latest and just arrived on the scene last month. 

 

 

Paperback: 250 pages

Publisher: l’Aleph (September 1, 2017)

 

Sweet, Sweet Stories, Some Sweeter Than Others by Daniel Curzon is a product of a lifetime of living with a super-thin skin and a lot of scar tissue from the vicissitudes of the world. Whether it is possessed of a “monumental originality,” as expressed by Phi Beta Kappa Reviews, it is at the very least a readable, unpretentious collection of short stories that explore the  purpose of fiction, of story telling: is it just to pass the time, to divert and amuse, or is it to tell the truth so people will know they are not alone  in this world with its bafflements, oddities, sadnesses, and strange turns of mirth?

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