Tag Archives: humor

Author Showcase – Alex Bailey (The Future Memoir of Ann Jones: A Time Travel Romance with a Splash of Magic)

How can Ann Jones be a widow before her husband is even dead?”

Ann Jones knows the difference between a daydream, a fantasy, and a vision. 
She’s a decent, middle-class mom with a respectable husband and two kids.
And a “wild imagination.”

But what kind of decent woman imagines her husband dead, a relocation across the country, a new career, the perfect boyfriend, and most importantly, Knitting Club?

Not just any old Knitting Club. This one has rules—not one of them concerns knitting. 

Ann listens to the club members’ stories, becomes entangled in their lives, obeys their rules, and keeps her suspicions to herself. 

Her independent existence is an awakening. Ann Jones has changed. 

So what happens when she wakes up?

 

Steel Magnolias meets Stepford Wives. Moving, powerful, enchanting, and brimming with a glorious cast of characters; this is a joy. 

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“There are rules. Never to be broken.” Freda looked Ann directly in the eye, and said, “Number one rule— never miss Knitting Club.”

Ann wondered, but not for long, what the consequences of missing a session might be, but Freda broke into her thoughts with, “Deadly consequences.”

Oh, is that all? Ann thought it might be something more serious like you’d be responsible for hosting the next meeting or be forced to eat more of Freda’s cooking.

The look on Freda’s face made Ann realize she was serious, which also made Ann want to burst out laughing. She looked around the circle, but no one was laughing. All heads remained lowered. How can these women take blankets and scarves so seriously? After all, it’s just knitting.

But it wasn’t just knitting. Knitting had very little to do with this knitting club.

“What are the other rules?” Ann wanted to know, since the first one was so pleasant.

Freda sat back down and relaxed her demeanor. “There are but two more.”

Ann looked expectantly at Freda for the answer.

“In time, Ann.”

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Karen, Goodreads Contributor, 5This is a great book! Interesting suspense that keeps you guessing until the end! It’s a very different premise that’s a pleasure to read. You’ll also need some cookies to munch on as you read!

 

Brigitta, Goodreads Contributor, 5The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. I like cute covers. Couldn’t pass up on the puppy and cookies. When I first started the book I was not sure if I was going to enjoy it. But, then I reached a point where I could not put the book down. I lost some sleep with this book. Yes, we spent the night together. The author kept me engaged, wanting to discover more about this knitting club and their rules. The women each tell a heartfelt story which forms a bond with the reader. The characters are well-formed. The story is written well with a few chuckles. The recipes sound delicious. They are a nice bonus. I definitely recommend this one.

 

Jeff, Amazon Customer, 5The Future Diary of Ann Jones is well written and has many levels— romance, mystery, recipes, and humor. Made me smile. The female characters within the knitting circle share their own personal stories that pull at your heart. The action builds to a twist at the end. A good read.

 

John, Amazon Customer, 5Recommended by a friend and far afield from my normal interests, The Future Memoir proved well worth my time. Really fun read – perfect for summertime. The “vision” of Ann Jones transports the recent widow to a new town, new friends, and very new experiences. Curiously, her new acquaintances have more in common than pets, socializing together and their own common backgrounds. Coincidence? The book kept me guessing until the surprising twists at the very end. I’m looking forward to Ms. Bailey’s next adventure.

 

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Alex Bailey was a bored writer/editor of documents as monotonous as vacuum cleaner manuals.  She left that life behind to create more exciting worlds than the one she lived in. The Future Memoir of Ann Jones is the first book under her assumed identity. She also writes children’s books under the name of Hoot N. Holler. When Alex is not listening to friends reveal wild stories about their future, she tends to her organic garden while belting out show tunes. Alex and her husband started the garden with the intent to donate fresh organic food to their local food bank, and so far, it has been a smashing success. Ironically, Alex does not have the patience to sit still long enough to knit. But, some of her favorite hobbies include: embarrassing her children in public with her rhythmically-challenged dancing, cleaning the small disc around the stopper of the bathroom sink, and dallying. 

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Author Showcase – Adam Wallace (How to Catch an Elf) (Only YOU Can Save Christmas!) (The Holiday Heroes Save Christmas)

Age Range: 4 – 8 years | Grade Level: Preschool – 3

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller!

“With delightful rhymes, How to Catch an Elf slots itself into place along such classics as “The Night Before Christmas.”―Foreword Reviews

You’ve been waiting all year long, and now it’s finally Christmas Eve! Is this the year you’ll finally catch an elf? Start a new Christmas tradition with this hilarious children’s book from the creators of the New York Times best-seller How to Catch a Leprechaun!

 

“It’s Christmas Eve! Hip hip, hooray!
Yes, Santa’s coming ’round.
He’s bringing toys to girls and boys
in every house in town.”

“Some kids have tried to catch him,
but Santa’s fast, you see!
So they’ve set their eyes on a smaller prize,
and now they’re after me!”

 

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Age Range: 5 – 10 years  | Grade Level: 1 – 5

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa needs YOUR help in this fun, interactive picture book from the New York Times bestselling author of How to Catch an Elf!

It’s Christmas Eve, and everything at the North Pole is going according to plan…until an elf discovers that Santa doesn’t have a present ready for Mrs. Claus! Time is running out, and you’re the only one who can help. But you’ll have to honk, whistle, wiggle, and shake to make things turn out all right.

 

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Age Range: 4 – 8 years | Grade Level: 2 – 3

This just in–breaking news from the North Pole!

Santa Claus can’t deliver presents on Christmas Eve and he needs backup. But not just anybody can help him–he needs the Holiday Heroes!

This Christmas, it’s up to the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, a Witch and a Leprechaun to fill in for Santa and save Christmas.

Can the Holiday Heroes deliver presents without being spotted? Will they be able to pull off Christmas in the end?

 

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I am a New York Times Bestselling author who loves writing stories that make children laugh and get excited about reading and drawing and writing and naps and music. As in I like naps and music. The books don’t make kids excited about naps and music.

I now have over 45 books published and out in the world, and love each one as if it were my child … except if that child is like really naughty and always breaks my favourite things and writes bad words on the walls of our house.

None of my books are like that.

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Review of “Eat the Rich” – Renee Miller

When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city’s homeless population spikes.

So does the murder rate.

Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city’s wealthiest residents. he tries to warn the police, but they think he’s crazy.

The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.

He’s right about the aliens. They’re here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a Plan B:

KILL EVERYONE.

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“Jahd and Dahl did well,” Senz said. He laid beside Ren, naked and filthy from head to toe. “This place is bountiful. Almost like home, but without the screaming and the imminent death.” He chuckled. “Yet.”

“We told you to put clothes on, Senz. It is how things are done here.”

“If a man cannot be naked in his own home, then what has the world come to?”

“Man?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Seriously, you have to wear clothes. We do not want to draw attention. So far, they have accepted us here. If someone starts complaining to the authorities about us, perhaps saying we are exhibitionists or perverts, they will force us to move on, or worse, they will notice you have a couple of noticeably inhuman parts and we will have to escalate the plan. Dahl would be displeased should that happen. We may even have to return home.”

“So? It would be nice to go home once in a century; do you not think so?”

“We cannot move on until we have done what we came here to do. It would be selfish of us to leave them to their misguided ways when we know how much better their lives could be.”

Senz sighed. He picked up the pants he’d discarded with his shirt on the ground beside him and sat up. As he put his legs into the coarse material of the pants, he nodded at the cooler tucked into Ren’s tent. “Did you eat it all, or will you share?”

“Sure. Help yourself.”

“I only received the entrails last night. Not very filling and they taste terrible.” “A meal is a meal.”

“Meh,” Senz zipped his pants and then reached for the cooler. “Little too rich for me.”

He laughed at his own joke.

Ren shook his head. “There is no such thing as too rich.”

“Unless you are one of them.”

“We will be heading out again tonight, so do not eat too much. Dahl has put you on the list.”

“Praise the human lord.” Senz removed a long, tubular package wrapped in brown butcher’s paper. He opened it. “I gave up hope on getting the first taste.”

“We said we would rotate so everyone gets to enjoy a fresh kill. Dahl has prepared a schedule. It should be smooth sailing from here.”

“There are lots of them here, eh? It will take a while to do them all.”

“It will,” Ren said. “But we have time. The second wave arrives soon. Dahl says the General’s unit is docking in a place called California. I heard there are even more of them there. Must be nice to have rank so you can pluck the juiciest fruit.”

“You will get there. Dahl likes you.” Senz winked.

“Do not be a… dick.”

“Is that a new insult?”

“Yes. It means you are being mean and annoying.”

“Huh.” Senz bit off a piece of meat, chewed, and then swallowed. “I like it. I hope I have the opportunity to use it soon.”

“Just do not call Dahl or Jahd a dick. They are not in the mood for humor these days.”

“Always like that in the early stages of a renovation.”

“Renovation?”

“Yes, it means restoring or repairing something. Making it new or upgrading.

Is that not what we are doing?”

“It is. Renovation… so many words in this language that mean the same thing.”

“Gopher is teaching me the ins and outs of it. They also like words that are not words.”

“Slang. I know.” Ren scowled. “Do not become fond of Gopher.”

“I find that impossible. He is thoroughly entertaining.”

Ren sometimes wished he’d been put on the General’s fleet, where they weren’t allowed fraternizing and all that mattered was the mission. “By the way,” he said. “A disturbingly hairy man at the church said California has wealthy morsels on every corner. He said they bleed money out there. Tehn thinks he knows something. I did not allow him to kill the man, though. As he is not wealthy, I figured Dahl should approve it first.”

“He was not being literal,” Senz said. “Another ‘figure of speech’ in this language. Makes my head hurt, which is why I am grateful for the education

Gopher is providing.”

“I suppose he is useful.”

“And I, too, heard the General’s city is wealthier than this one. This is a good start, though.” He bit into the meat nestled in the brown paper again. “Look who is back.”

Ren looked to where he pointed. A short man with a hook in place of his right hand, and a good year’s growth of facial hair matted around his chin walked toward them, cup in hand: Gopher. “You must remember he is not one of us. Put some distance between yourself and him. If the mission goes wrong, he will not survive.”

“Jahd says we will need liaisons. They will trust what other humans say or something.”

“The fact that we did not eat them should be enough to make them grateful.”

Senz shrugged. “These creatures are strange. They do not behave in a way that is logical.”

“True. Still, I think Dahl’s original plan was better. Tell them how it will be and kill anyone who does not fall in line. Seems a faster way to get things done.”

“I disagree. We must cultivate relationships. Make them see we mean to help them, instead of bullying them into doing things our way. If they like and respect us, then they will work with us. The renovation will be successful, and we can go home sooner.” Senz put the last of the meat in his mouth and swallowed it without chewing. “What do I know, though? I am only a soldier who is fond of a human that smokes plants and scratches his genitals with unseemly regularity. I am not a great and powerful leader who knows all because of my rank.”

Ren picked a speck of dust from his pants. “Are you speaking of Dahl?”

“Never,” Senz said. “I was merely voicing an opinion. I would not mind keeping one, though. Perhaps I will be permitted to bring Gopher back. It has been done before. The bums at the shelter are hilarious as well, and they do not judge.”

“All humans judge.”

“You are wrong. I told them I eat the rich when times are tough, and they asked for recipes.” Senz laughed. “If they knew the truth, I imagine they would… what is the phrase? Shit in their pants, I think.”

Ren didn’t bother telling Senz they weren’t supposed to reveal themselves or how they survived. He’d been told enough times. Dahl would have to know about the security breach. Senz might not get a chance at fresh meat after all.

“Hey,” Gopher waved at Ren. “Your buddy Judd said to tell you soup’s on.” He shook the can.

Ren smiled. He waited until Gopher knelt and then pulled a dollar bill from the can. Senz did the same and they both inhaled the scent of the money. Ren saw the donor clearly in his mind. He looked at Senz. “Care to do some reconnaissance with me?”

“Do we get to eat this reconnaissance?”

“Eventually.”

“All right. Let’s go.”

“You guys are fucking odd,” Gopher said.

Ren smiled. “I found you a new dog.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes,” Ren said. “You were so upset about the old one that got crushed by the bus, I thought you might like a new one.”

“Well thanks. I do miss ol’ Goober, so I ain’t gonna say no to a new friend.

Where is he?”

“Dahl has him. We did not know if you wanted him skinned or not, so we have left him alive for now.”

“Skinned? For fuck’s sake, don’t skin the poor thing. What good is a dead dog?”

“He is alive…” Ren was confused. He’d seen animals in the homes of others and wondered at the way they treated them like family. “I thought your kind ate animals.”

“Christ, not dogs.”

“Do you not breed cattle and pigs and other animals for the purpose of eating?”

“Yeah.”

“Why not dogs? They too have meat that is edible.”

“Because we’re not savages.”

“And you think we are odd?”

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

Renee prayed on the fear some people have (alien invasion) but also gave us something new to consider. It’s not what we see coming that we should worry about… it’s what we don’t see, what could be lurking out there, we should fear.

Many folks believe in aliens. They also believe one day aliens will invade us. However, I don’t imagine most individuals envision the otherworldly beings integrating themselves so seamlessly into our society. Unfortunately, a vast number of people turn a blind eye to the homeless so posing as of them was one helluva, brilliant disguise.

I liked many points in this story. No, I don’t mean I like aliens eating us Earth dwellers. What I mean is… I enjoyed how Renee wrote the scenes were the aliens learned about our society, the inventiveness on how to blend in, and the reason why the aliens felt the need to bring us Earthlings back to basics.

Yes, they were disgusting beings doing horrific things but this story was more than just a planet take-over.

Of course, some humans revolted and this is where my score dropped a point. The ending…. I didn’t quite grasp it.

What will become of Ed? What’s the ‘visitors’ next course of action? The end didn’t feel like an end but a set-up for another installment.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Renee Miller has published stories in the crime/suspense, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy/horror/comedy, and erotic horror genres. You can find her on TwitterFacebook, or on her blog.

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Author Showcase – G.E. Stills (The Tiger’s Rage)

A magical night of sexual abandon turns into a nightmare for Marni. She passes out in the hotel room of a man she has just met while in the grip of a drug induced fog of sexual bliss. She wakes days later to learn the man has abducted her and taken her to another world. Marni soon discovers she has been changed dramatically in outward appearance, as well as internally. Her new life is filled with people who care deeply for her and those who would use her ruthlessly. **The Tiger’s Rage is filled with action, adventure, humor, and descriptive sexual encounters.** 

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Excerpt: for the 18+ reader: strong language, descriptive sex scenes and graphic violence.

 

He was just finishing breakfast in the cafeteria three weeks later when the watch on his arm vibrated its attention signal. He pressed one of the buttons on the side of it. The watch hands vanished to be replaced with a blank screen then a message began to scroll across it.

Come to the operating room, the words read. She is ready to be moved. Kara.

Komel took a final sip of his drink, dumped his tray and cup in the slot for soiled utensils located in the wall, then headed down the hall toward the operation room. Kara admitted him when he knocked on the door and after greeting her, Komel gazed down at Marni. The woman he viewed appeared a lot different than the one he had carried in this room. The IVs in her arms were gone and the straps on her limbs had been removed. Komel swallowed his anger. This wasn’t the first time he had witness the results of Kara’s surgical alterations to the women he brought here from Earth. Even so, each time left him with a feeling of disgust at seeing what had been done to them just to please the sick and twisted ideals of the emperor.

Kara had elongated the corners of Marni’s eyes and surgically applied permanent makeup to highlight them. The tip of her nose was black, and her lips were black traced with white. Colored sequins of red, orange and white were embedded between her elongated eye sockets and her temples in a spreading spray pattern. Three long black whiskers were attached above her upper lip on each side.

“Her whiskers look so real,” he said.

“They are real,” Kara said. “They’re even attached to her central nervous system and will provide sensory signals just like a real feline.” Proudly Kara pried one of Marni’s eyes open to reveal that they were still green, but the pupils were elongated into points at the top and bottom.

“Contacts?” he asked although he knew better.

“No, they’ve been surgically altered. When she is finished, she will resemble an Earth tiger as much as possible and still remain human. I realize tigers don’t have pointed pupils, hers are more like a domestic cat, but it goes with her enhanced nocturnal vision.”

Komel winced.

Kara brushed Marni’s hair back to show that the woman’s ears were long and pointed now. Komel’s gaze drifted downward and saw that Kara’s alterations hadn’t been restricted to Marni’s face. Her pubic patch was gone. A plastic ornament resembling two tiny plastic hands encircled her enlarged clitoris holding the covering hood back and making it always available for stimulation. Komel couldn’t resist grazing his hand over the smooth skin of her arm. Not a hint of the fine hair remained on them.

“The visible changes I’ve made to her appearance are small in comparison to what my medications have done inside her. These changes are still taking place. Her bone structure is being altered, lightened and yet strengthened, her lung capacity is increased, her heart is larger and more efficient. She has greater flexibility and strength than she ever had. She will never grow body hair again not even the follicles remain. The one exception is the hair on her head. Her night vision has been vastly improved to go with her feline shaped eyes.”

“And yet you say she is still human?”

“In many ways yes, but in others she is more than human. Pick her up we need to take her to another room to continue her transformation.”

Komel lifted her in his arms and a long tail brushed against his knees. He glanced at the naked woman he held and saw the tail originated where her human tailbone had been. He raised an eyebrow.

“The tail is real, just like her whiskers,” Kara said to answer his unspoken question.

Kara strode to the door and he followed carrying Marni. They paced down the hall and descended a flight of steps to another room. This room he was familiar with and disliked. It was a prisoner torture chamber.

“I hate this place,” he said.

“She will not be tortured. Attach her to that H railing so we can further prepare her.”

While seething inside, Komel attached restraints to Marni’s wrists and ankles so that she was suspended in a spread-eagle manor. A man, pushing a cart, joined them. He examined Marni top to bottom and front and rear, while touching her several times, but not in a sexual manor.

“This is a magnificent canvas to work with,” he said. “She will not come to?” he asked.

“She will not regain conscious until I administer medication to end her comatose state.”

“Then I’ll call you when she is done,” he said.

Komel climbed the steps with Kara.

“When the artist calls me, I’ll call you. When he is finished, her transformation will be almost complete.”

They separated and Komel went to perform his other duties. Late in the afternoon Kara sent him a text and he joined her in front of the door leading into the torture chamber. When they entered the room, he saw that a woman had joined the artist. Next, he looked at Marni and sucked in his breath. Her throat, most of her breasts, stomach, core and inner thighs were white. The rest of her, including most of her face and tail was orange with black strips. Her hair was snow-white and with her head tilted back the way it was, reached to her waist.

The artist was spraying a clear substance on her which he explained, “When this spray dries in a few minutes it will make the paint I have applied permanent. I think she looks beautiful, if I do say so myself. The hair extension my assistant has applied is also permanent without the application of the proper chemical.”

Kara walked around Marni inspecting her for any spots the artist had missed painting. “I feel certain his majesty will be pleased with her,” she told the man. “Dismissed.”

The artist and his assistant left the room. Kara shifted her attention to him while they waited for the glistening spray to dry. “She is a beautiful specimen. I hope you agree. Carry her to her room.”

Komel released Marni’s restraints and lifted her into his arms tenderly. He followed Kara to Marni’s room and after fitting his eye to the scanner to activate the locking mechanism, waited for Kara to open the door. She held it open then strode past him to turn down the bedding. He laid Marni on the bed and pulled up the sheet to cover her.

Kara took a large syringe from her pocket and plunged the needle in Marni’s arm. “In forty-eight hours she will wake and be ravenously hungry.”

“And madder than hell,” Komel added. “Look what has been done to her. I think I know her well enough to say she’ll tear things apart in rage.”

“I’ve thought of that. Give me your watch.”

He unstrapped it and handed it to Kara. She pressed buttons on the small keyboard entering a code. “The software I just uploaded allows you to control the implant I’ve installed in her. It does two things. If she displays any aggressive action, you can trigger it with the touch of this button.” She pointed it out on the keyboard. “It will suspend all of her motor functions except her heart and breathing for fifteen minutes. She will be incapable of moving. Her implant will also cause her body to release calming endorphins that will overcome aggressive thoughts. His majesty also has the ability to control her implant.”

“Lucky for his majesty. During the short time I’ve known her, I get the impression Marni is stubborn and has a fiery temper.”

 

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Normally zany and often naughty talking, G. E. has a serious and compassionate side if you can find it. He cares deeply for his friends and hasn’t met an animal yet he didn’t like. He is terrified of heights so hasn’t braved the tramway ride in his home town. He lives in the southwest while longing to live by the sea. He often says, “We have the sandy beaches but where is the water?”

He heeds the call of the many characters that pop into his mind and demand to have their stories put in print. Their tales are both serious and humorous. A multi-published author his stories cover many genres including contemporary romance, paranormal romance and science fiction. His stories are both erotic and non-erotic in nature. G.E. is the leader of a local writers group and in addition hosts a meeting of his own locally on fiction writing bi-monthly.

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

Website / Blog
Personal Facebook Page / Facebook Author Page
Twitter / Amazon Author Page  

Goodreads / Google+

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Author Showcase – Rebecca Chastain (Madison Fox Urban Fantasy Series)

Reading Order

1. A Fistful of Evil

Madison Fox just learned that her ability to see souls is more than a sight: It’s a weapon for fighting evil. The only problem is she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing.

On the positive side, her money problems are over and her coworker is smoking hot. On the negative side, evil creatures now actively hunt her, and deadly experiences are becoming the norm.

When she thinks it couldn’t get worse, a powerful evil sets up shop at a local hotel’s video game convention, and it’s got its eye on more than the gaming geeks—it’s hungry for Madison’s soul. Madison needs to become an expert illuminant enforcer overnight to save her job, her region…and her life.

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2. A Fistful of Fire

 

Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, but if her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.

But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.

As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.

 

 

 

2.5 A Fistful of Flirtation 

Madison finally gets her date with Dr. Love—and if they had picked any other restaurant, she might have had a chance of enjoying it, too . . .

~~ NOTE TO READERS  (From Rebecca) ~~

If you have not read A Fistful of Evil and A Fistful of Fire, this novelette will include SPOILERS. Catch up on the series first so you don’t miss out! 

A Fistful of Flirtation will be available to readers who sign up for my VIP newsletter http://www.rebeccachastain.com/newsletter/

 

 

3. A Fistful of Frost

Madison’s job—and soul—are on thin ice.

Madison Fox is determined to reform Jamie, her half-evil pooka, but the bond linking her to Jamie works both ways. Already, it has manipulated her into bending the rules. If she continues down this path, she could doom her soul. Since her judgment can’t be trusted, a high-ranking inspector now dictates Madison’s every interaction with Jamie, and each directive drives them further apart. 

Unfortunately, Madison has bigger issues than the potential degradation of her soul. Winter has struck with a vengeance. Frost moths plague the entire state, reinforcing the artificially frigid temperature. Worse, cold-blooded, soul-stealing enemies are flocking into her region from the north—creatures Madison has little defense against. 

With the inspector scrutinizing her every misstep, Madison is in for the battle of her life. If she hopes to survive, she must make an impossible choice: save herself and her region or save Jamie.

An imaginative urban fantasy filled with heart, humor, and plenty of butt-kicking action—A Fistful of Frost is a book you won’t want to miss.

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I expected the inspector to look like an Army Ranger, tall, muscular, and radiating an “I could kill you if I wanted to” vibe. The woman who stepped from the car shattered my assumptions. Midfifties, petite, and pale, with a slash of bright auburn in her chin-length white-blond hair, Inspector Pamela Hennessey didn’t look authoritative until her assessing gaze landed on me. Then I fought not to squirm.

“Madison Fox and the pooka Jamie,” she said, not quite a greeting and not a question. It would have sounded rude if not delivered in her posh British accent. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“All good, I hope,” I quipped.

She eyed me up and down, giving me a noncommittal, “Mmm.”

My smile froze at the corners.

Rose climbed from the driver’s seat and shut the car door with more force than necessary. The Latina empath gave me a curt nod, as if we were strangers and not coworkers and friends. What the hell? I stopped pretending to smile. Jamie shifted closer, brushing his gloved hand against mine, worry crinkling his eyebrows as he read the tension of the group. I gave him a shoulder bump to reassure him, pretending to be relaxed. Pamela’s gaze snapped from our touching hands to our shoulders to our faces, and I fought the urge to leap away from Jamie as if I were doing something wrong.

“Give me a net and let’s get your purity test out of the way, Madison,” the inspector said.

“Pardon me?” Wasn’t a purity test a medieval way to judge a woman’s virginity? Not only had that ship long since sailed, but I also didn’t see how it would be relevant—or anyone’s business. I checked Brad’s neutral expression. Did details about my sex life fall under the impress her or don’t embarrass me category?

The inspector rounded on Brad, wispy-fine hair flaring on either side of her pink headband earmuffs. “She doesn’t know what a purity test is? You haven’t tested her once in the last five days?”

“Madison’s purity has never been in question.”

A warning frizzled down my spine at Brad’s bland tone. She’d put him on the defense. I glanced to Rose for a clue, but she only grimaced and looked away.

“Don’t let your recent victories make you arrogant, Brad,” Pamela said. “Of course her purity is in question. She’s bonded to a pooka.”

Aha! This wasn’t about virginity; this was about Jamie’s dual nature and the metaphysical bond he’d placed on me. I’d been warned—repeatedly—to be careful of Jamie’s darker half; more than one bonded enforcer had been corrupted by a pooka’s morally ambiguous influence. No one had mentioned purity tests.

“This is to see if Jamie has . . . changed me?” I asked, choosing my words carefully in deference to Jamie. Nothing in his expression said he took offense to the insinuation that our link might have tainted me. He saw nothing wrong with wielding atrum as readily as lux lucis, and if I failed a purity test, it’d probably make him happy.

“Changed you?” Pamela echoed. “No. I need to know if the pooka’s bond has sullied you.”

So much for being tactful. I peeked sideways at Jamie, but he hadn’t reacted, his gaze focused beyond Pamela on the people walking by.

“Is there a problem?” the inspector asked.

“No. Of course not, but, Inspector Hennessey—” I shot Brad a desperate look.

“Call me Pamela. Never Pam.”

“Got it. Um, Pamela—”

“She doesn’t know how to make a net,” Brad said for me.

“Why not?” Pamela demanded, spinning to confront my boss again, the hem of her wool coat flaring to reveal the calves of her pale leather boots.

“I haven’t had the luxury of instituting a methodical training regimen with Madison.”

“Mmm,” Pamela said.

I was starting to hate that noise.

“And if she encountered a frost moth?” she asked.

“She has a lighter.”

One I’d purchased this afternoon at Brad’s insistence. Shaped like a small blowtorch, with a trigger to ignite the flame, it was the fanciest lighter I’d ever owned. It also had the distinction of being the only lighter I’d ever purchased with the intention of using as a weapon—or at least I thought that was the plan. I pressed my lips together. Now wouldn’t be a good time to confess that after reading Val’s entry on sjel tyver, I’d completely forgotten to ask the handbook about frost moths—what they looked like, where to find them, or how to kill them.

“I can instruct Madison on nets now,” Brad offered.

The inspector shook her head. “Let’s get the inquisition out of the way.”

The what?

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REBECCA CHASTAIN is the USA Today bestselling author of the Madison Fox urban fantasy series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles fantasy trilogy, among other worksInside her novels, you’ll find spellbinding adventures packed with supernatural creatures, thrilling action, heartwarming characters (human and otherwise), and more than a little humor. Rebecca lives in Northern California with her charming husband and two bossy cats.

Website: http://www.rebeccachastain.com/
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Twitter: @Author_Rebecca or https://twitter.com/Author_Rebecca
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