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Howl by Mariposa Cruz (Book Showcase)


Howl and Roar were originally released as two separate titles with the same cast of characters. Based on reader feedback, I decided to roll both stories under a single title when I re-released Howl. I had dedicated Roar to honor my dad so I kept his dedication and referenced the story as Book II, Roar. Find out what happens to Kate and Jack and the rest of the pack in Book II.

 

Evil often strikes in unlikely places, outside an office in broad daylight or at secluded cabin at dusk. This unflinching pair of shifter tales reveals the beasts in our midst. After surviving a brutal attack, a single mother’s days become a battle to maintain control while her nights are a disturbing blur of dreams. A workaholic is plunged into turmoil when her weekend romantic rendezvous becomes a desperate struggle to survive. Will love save them or be their undoing?


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Excerpt

     Jack’s fists clenched.

     “A month after Mom died, I started receiving newspaper articles about missing women. I knew Pierce picked up where his parents left off. I’ve been trying to track him down.”

    “Have you talked to the police?”

    “Except for the clippings, I have no proof. Even if they were to apprehend him, can you imagine what he’d do to a prison population?” Without more tangible evidence, enforcers won’t pursue the case.”   

    “Enforcers?”

    “Since criminal behavior risks exposing the entire were population, we have our own methods of dealing with illegal activity. Enforcers investigate, evaluate and execute if necessary.”

    “That’s harsh. How can one person act as judge, jury and executioner?”

     “It’s necessary, to avoid exposing the community. Do you want to spend the rest of your life caged in a lab?” Jack asked.

     “No.”

     “I did get one woman away from him and brought her to the lodge. I assume Lillian helped her sort out her life. I haven’t heard from her since. It’s probably better that way.” Jack hesitated.

     “What else?” Kate prompted. 

     “Pierce called me this morning.  He’s here. He left cigarette butts near your window.  I spent all day tracking him.”  Kate hugged her knees trying to shake a sudden chill.

      “When I think about what he did to you…” 

     “I’m all right. I want to be with you in any way, shape, or form.” Kate put her arms around him.  She felt the tension in his shoulders. Kate turned his face toward hers and kissed him slowly, her free hand stroking his beard.

     “I never realized you could be such a tease,” Jack murmured into her ear.

     “I never knew you could be such a beast,” Kate replied and she kissed him again. 

     He returned her kiss, pulling her onto his lap, his hands slid up her shirt caressing her bare back while she snuggled closer and wrapped her legs around him.

     The first howl startled them both.

     “Damn,” Jack muttered. Kate sighed.

     “We can’t be late for dinner?” She murmured.

     “No. I’m not going to rush this time. We’ll continue this later in bed. I’ll wait for you outside.” His fingers traced the curve of her bare thigh when he released her. He kissed her hard on the mouth then turned abruptly and left her to change alone. If he lingered around her much longer, they would miss dinner.

    Jack paced restlessly outside while he waited for Kate to join him. Changing in the chilled night air cooled his ardor. He heard the others in the distance and his stomach growled. Searching the forest for Pierce, he hadn’t eaten all day. What was taking her so long? It wasn’t as if she needed to freshen up her make up or curl her hair. Finally, after several long minutes a small silver wolf joined him. She nipped at him playfully as they raced to meet the others.

 

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Mariposa Cruz balances writing with working as a full-time corporate paralegal. For her Create on the Side blog she has interviewed a variety of real life characters from artists to romance authors. She works, writes and dances Salsa in Reno, Nevada.

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The Battle for Trimera: The Ruling Priestess Book 1 by Tanya SM Kennedy (Book Review)

To give in could mean the loss of everything she holds dear but resisting is tearing her apart.

All Pria wants is to protect her family, but as one of only two high priestesses in all of Reia, everyone has an opinion on her life. But as the stories reach her of the peril of Trimera, there is nothing she will not give to return to the only family she has left, her older brother Janu. Emotion is dangerous for a priestess, something she realizes all to keenly when she thinks about her brother’s friend Mian. 

From the day she was born, Mian knew he would die for Pria. But the woman that returns from the Lorien is a pale shadow of the fiery girl he remembers. Still scarred by the loss of his Prince’s advisor, the previous high priestess, he now has to watch his Pria face the same danger. But the more he tries to protect the high strung Pria, the angrier she gets. The only thing he knows for sure is that Trimera would not survive the loss of Pria; that he would not survive the loss of Pria. 

A mysterious being has gained control of the monstrous grinlo and every second that ticks by only serves to confirm that they are after Pria. With the Lorien watching her every move she can’t afford even the hint of weakness. But the longer she spends with Mian the more addled she finds her thoughts. How will she save Trimera when her very emotions could spell ruin?

The Battle for Trimera is the opening to the epic Ruling Priestess medieval fantasy series. If you like compelling characters, epic battles against savage monsters, and a gripping story, then you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s tale of a priestess struggling against tradition to save her home. 

Pick up your copy of The Battle for Trimera and join the fight to save Trimera today!

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

 

At almost 600 pages, The Battle of Trimera is not only a beast in size, but the story is busting out the seams with blood-thirsty creatures. The grinlo are vicious beasts with sharp, black claws. Many men, women, and children have encountered them, yet survivors are few and far between. Ortid, one lone survivor, witnessed their wickedness firsthand. He stumbled up a very gruesome, gory, unforgettable, and stomach-turning scene. The grinlo’s leader, Neram, might be a man, but he was a monster just the same.  

As you are well aware, you can’t have a villain without a hero or heroes. There’re a check and balances in life, real or imaginary. In this scenario, multiple individuals band together to defend their land from the grinlo: Prince Janu, Lord Mian, Priestess Lana, Priestess Pria, Jaren, Liando, and various other soldiers. 

 

At three hundred page mark, Priestess Pria’s mind is troubled. She’s on the hunt for the person pulling the strings of the grinlo, and she’s trying to keep Mian at a safe distance. She wants to be seen as an adult, a powerful High Priestess; however, he makes her feel like a child again. Up to this point, if Pria looked closely, she would see he doesn’t –not entirely. His attraction to her is becoming more apparent for all to see. 

The sexual tension between Pria and Mian is growing with each page. 

 

The next 150 pages were quite active. There were nasty creatures, big and small, being a pain in the neck (literally and figuratively). Emotions also reached the boiling point, and, instead of throwing barbs at each other, Pria and Main let their true feelings show. No, they didn’t shag, but they had some steamy kisses.  

 

From page 450 until the endThe Battle of Trimera kept the same speed as the pages before it. The pace wasn’t too fast or slow. In actuality, Tanya (the author) balanced everything quite well. Overall, I felt she took ample time to develop characters, their relationship to each other, history, plot, etc. She had death scenes, but they weren’t overly detailed. Sure, they were gross but not horror movie gross (if that makes sense). Basically, what I’m saying, Tanya gave us enough visual stimuli to allow the reader to get the picture but not be overwhelmed.

There were some sections I wanted, craved more embellishment on, but I get why Tanya refrained. As I stated in my opening sentence, The Battle of Trimera was almost 600 pages long. 

To sum up, a great book and definitely worth the price tag attached!

 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

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Tanya SM Kennedy was born in the wilds of West Virginia where she was raised to be strong, independent, and bull-headed. She spends her free time (any she can find) reading, writing, and taking care of her menagerie. She still lives in the wilds of West Virginia with her family enjoying the solitude.

 


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The ‘Trueborn Heirs’ Series by Nyna Queen (2 Book Showcase)

“I’m a spider, sugar. My shaper kind doesn’t bear that name for nothing.”

 

That’s not something Alexis Harper dares to say very often. If she did, it might just get her killed. Not that she is an easy mark, but even fools get lucky once in a while.

In a world where the magically gifted trueborn rule and the magicless halfborn slog away in the slums, half-blood mongrels like Alex are outcasts—feared and shunned. For most of her life, she has lurked in the shadows, trying to keep her true nature a secret. But the secrecy ends abruptly when she saves two trueborn aristo children from a group of hired killers.

Accused of a crime she didn’t commit, Alex suddenly finds herself running from powerful enemies, with no one around to trust. Or what about the mysterious stranger who has been following her? He is one of Death’s Servants, born and bred to kill at the country’s command. Not the most preferable ally, but then, her choices are limited. Soon she has to decide whether she can trust him or not—it’s a gamble she might not survive either way. And before Alex knows what is happening, her life is hanging by a silken thread…

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THE room was long and sterile and reminded Alex too much of a hospital: white tiled floor, metal shelves, slim silver objects glinting dully in the too bright overhead lights, the biting scent of disinfectant … It brought back memories of her sire’s bedroom just before he died, and she instantly felt sick to her stomach. 

Dr. Creevy, a scrawny man with thinning gray hair, in a stained white lab coat, stood waiting beside a naked metal cot with leather shackles attached to all four corners. Alex felt Darken stiffen beside her and quickly put a restraining hand on his arm—just to pull back when a little shock tingled through her fingertips. 

“It’s alright,” she muttered softly, although her stomach churned at the sight of the cot. “I might shape during the process and accidentally hurt someone.” 

Darken’s eyes wandered from the cot to her and back, and slowly widened in understanding. “You’ve done this before.” 

She nodded. And no pleasant memory was linked to the experience. But sometimes there simply was no other choice. Like right now. 

He studied the cot again and she could almost hear the blocks falling into place as he drew the right conclusions. His eyes narrowed and grew darker. Dangerously dark. “And this will hurt you.” It wasn’t really a question. 

Quite quick on the uptake, aren’t we, Mr. Trueborn? 

“I’m afraid that can’t be avoided.” 

Resentment flooded those cavernous brown eyes, liquid red anger churning right below the surface. “Then there has to be another way.” 

Alex blinked. Just like that, huh?

He did sound like he meant it, too.

Why? she wondered. To assume that her pain would matter anything to him, would be foolish. They barely knew each other. And she hadn’t exactly done a great job endearing herself to him in the past day. 

Maybe he didn’t like to be indebted. She certainly didn’t. And a debt of pain wasn’t one easily paid back. 

“Well, I don’t really see another way, sugar. Do you?” Now would be a good moment to mention it. 

He scowled. Yep, that’s what I thought

His gaze went back to the cot and his lips pressed together in obvious discontent. “I don’t like this!” 

She barked a short laugh. “Neither do I, sugar, but if we want this portal, someone will have to bite the bullet. Looks like that someone is going to be me. But don’t worry, it won’t kill me—and if it does”—she raised her arms and batted her lashes at him—“spares you the effort.” 

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The witty, action-packed sequel to Nyna Queen’s urban fantasy / paranormal romance debut BY A THREAD. Filled to the brim with treachery, forbidden love, racism, loyalty, and unexpected friendship.

A royal gathering. She isn’t invited. And if they find her, they will kill her… 

Against all odds, Alex Harper survived her deadly wounds and managed to shake off her faceless pursuers. But she is hardly safe. With a death sentence looming over her, she must quickly find out who is pulling the strings in this twisted game she has become a part of – before they catch her. But that means infiltrating the trueborn royal elite; a glamorous world that possesses no love for shaper mongrels such as Alex. One wrong step will be the death of her.

To make things worse, she has to work with Darken again. Now back in trueborn territory, the scorching hot Deathbringer has retreated behind his armor of fire and the class difference between them becomes painfully obvious. Can their feelings for each other survive this growing gulf? Not that it will matter if Alex’s self-control isn’t good enough to pass for a member of the elite, and in the Royal Palace of all places! Caught between dark secrets and political intrigues, Alex soon realizes that she has entangled herself in a deadly web of lies…

 

What readers of the series say …

  • “WOW! This Book is EXACTLY why I fell in LOVE with the Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Genre!” — Read Between the Lines
  • “I absolutely loved this book! Once started, I just didn’t want to stop reading.” — Elbcrout
  • “After just a few pages you immediately feel like a part of the world, as you are observing from within, watching the events unfold.” — the_survivor
  • “Nyna Queen does an exceptional job diving deep into the minds of her characters, and her imagery and use of metaphors are at the expert level.” — T&S M
  • “I’ve put Nyna Queen on my author watch list. This is superb storytelling.” —Tiella150
  • “Ms. Queen has positioned herself as one of the best new authors I have ever read. Excellent work.” — Colleen
  • “I couldn’t put this book down. It has a really unique group of characters and a fresh story.” — Amazon Customer
  • “The story is brought together with seamless writing and world-building. The author brings familiar together with the unfamiliar to where everything seems normal. If you want a book with a mystery interwoven with suspense and a sprinkling of a romance then this book is for you.” — Tabby

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Nyna started reading fantasy books at the sweet age of six (in fact, as soon as she could read) and never got out of it. After she finished her law degree, she finally decided to commit herself to a career as an author. When she isn’t reading a book or dreaming up another story, she works as a lawyer, indulges in way too much coffee and enjoys long walks in the sun. If you are looking for Nyna, you’ll likely find her behind her laptop, hitting the keys, writing down her latest novel ideas – careful, if you speak to her now, she might not remember later!
 

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More than Neighbors (Blackberry Bay) by Shannon Stacey (Book Showcase)

From New York Times Bestselling author Shannon Stacey comes an emotionally powerful story of community, fresh starts, and secrets.

The only thing they have in common is a property line!

He’s trying to uncover his past.
She’s hoping for a brighter future.

Cam Maguire is in Blackberry Bay to unravel a family secret. Meredith Price has moved next door with her daughter. He’s unattached. She’s a widowed single mom. He’s owned by a cat. She’s definitely team canine. All these neighbors have in common is a property line. One they cross…over and over. And Cam thought he knew what he wanted—until his family’s secret changes everything.


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Chapter One

 

“Is that our new house, Mommy?”

Meredith Price might have sat in her sporty SUV, strangling the steering wheel with white-knuckled fingers, until the sun went down if not for the tiny voice from the back seat.

“Yes, honey.” She killed the engine and unfastened her seat belt. Knowing that was the signal they were getting out of the car, the small white dog that had been napping next to Sophie leaped between the seats and into her lap.

“It’s small.”

Meredith hadn’t done the math, but she was pretty sure their new home was smaller than the garage area of the six-thousand-square-foot home they’d left behind. “It’s the perfect size for the two of us.”

Oscar yipped, as if to remind her there were three members of the Price family, and she tried to keep the fluffy bichon frise still long enough to clip his leash onto his collar. “Be still, Oscar.”

“I want to get out,” her daughter whined.

“Hold on a second, Sophie. We can’t open the doors until Oscar’s leash is on.” She heard the frustration in her voice and took a long, slow breath. “Wait for me to open your door, okay?”

She couldn’t blame either of them for being anxious to get out of the car. The road trip from California to New Hampshire had been too much for a six-year-old and an energetic dog, even with more stops than Meredith had planned for.

Flying out and paying to have the car shipped probably would have made more sense, but driving cross-country had seemed like a grand adventure at the time. It had been an adventure, all right, though grand probably wasn’t the word she’d use for it.

Once she’d managed to get Oscar on the leash, she stepped out of the car and set the little dog on the ground. He immediately sprinted to the grass and lifted his leg, and Meredith heard the car door slam as Sophie got out. Within seconds, her daughter’s hand was tucked in hers as they both stared at their new home.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?”

Forcing her expression to relax into a smile, she looked down at the sweet face that was a younger version of her own. They had the same long, thick dark blond hair and oval faces with noses that were just a little too small. “Nothing, honey. I’m just tired because that was a very long drive.”

“You look scared.”

“I’m not scared, silly.” She lied to her daughter because it was easier than admitting the truth.

Scared might be a strong word, but the anxiety and doubt that had been her constant companion since leaving San Diego only intensified as they walked to the front door.

The home she’d bought from three thousand miles away based on nothing but a video tour, her gut instinct and hazy, warm memories of growing up happy in Blackberry Bay, New Hampshire.

She punched the code the real estate agent had given her into the keypad next to the door. When the lock disengaged, she took another deep breath—they never really helped—and turned the handle.

Sophie bolted inside and, as soon as the door was closed and Meredith unclipped his leash, Oscar scrambled after her.

 

Meredith leaned against the closed door and breathed in the light scent of citrus, probably from whatever the cleaning service had used, and allowed herself to savor this moment.

This was the place she’d chosen to start over. Only four years old, the house was a small, single-story contemporary that was totally open concept except for the two bedrooms on the end, with a bathroom between them. The cream walls, hardwood floors and high-end finishes aligned perfectly with her taste, and because it was meant to be a summer getaway, it was furnished for comfort, with an overstuffed sofa and chairs in a pale blue.

The previous owners hadn’t wanted to deal with emptying out what had been a third home for them, so Meredith had been able to negotiate a turnkey price that included all the furnishings, right down to the comforters the owners had chosen to complement the bedroom wall colors—though she’d brought new sheets with her. She’d had her hands full with the San Diego house and had been happy to avoid having to choose between picking out furniture for a house three thousand miles away or waiting until they arrived.

It hadn’t been all practicality on her part, though. As soon as she’d clicked on the listing, she’d been interested in the house, but it was the interior shots that had her making an offer. The existing decor was all about peace and relaxation and light, and she’d fallen in love instantly.

It wouldn’t be a summer getaway for her and Sophie, though. It would be their home, and judging from Sophie’s excited chattering to Oscar, she’d chosen well.

“Wait,” she called when she spotted her daughter reaching for the handle of the sliding door leading out to the deck. “Oscar needs to be on his leash before you open any doors.”

Sophie was practically dancing in anticipation as she waited, and Meredith grinned at her before clipping Oscar’s leash on and pulling open the sliding glass door. This was the most animated she’d seen her daughter since Devin had died in a car accident two years ago, leaving her without a husband and Sophie without her beloved Daddy.

(To read the entire first chapter, visit Shannon’s website!

 

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Welcome to BB’s: A Sex Shop Series Novella by Tracy A. Ball

Paperback: 159 pages

Lizzy didn’t know why her friends were broke, anti-social, and content to remain that way. Until her birthday, when they chipped in and got her a sample package.It came with a coupon…

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Snippet:

Lizzy’s heart skipped a beat when she heard the light tap on the door. Here we go. Her heart almost stopped when she opened it.

Leaning against the doorframe, Javier filled the space. His eyes were hazel with amber flecks of fire. His broad shoulders gave the T-shirt a pleasurable stretch. The hand he had casually blocking his groin didn’t hide a thing. His stance left her no doubt of his confidence. And the stud in his left ear—a silver heart—was a total turn on. “Sorry for keeping you waiting, pretty lady.” He brushed by her and took command of the room. 

Lizzy didn’t know what to do with herself. She wasn’t squeezing a rubber dick in front of him. 

“You look like you could use a drink.” Javier relieved himself of a small backpack, Lizzy hadn’t noticed. “Let me make you one and we’ll get started.”

“Uhhh…okay…” Lizzy couldn’t breathe; she couldn’t think. She stood there watching him mix drinks. 

When he finished, he held up a cold cloudy beverage, garnished with a slice of lime. “Gimlet. Gin, lime, and a little sweetener. It’s an easy sipper. To relax and inspire you.” He gave her one glass, and caught hold of her fingers, leading her to the sofa. He sat beside her, close, touching her hand.

Lizzy had a sip. Then she had another because she was nervous and couldn’t help herself. “It’s good. Thank you.”

“My pleasure.” He drank his own.

Oh damn. He had a dimple. 

“So, uhh…how does this work? What should I be doing?”

“Enjoy your drink. We’ll hang out and chat until you’re comfortable. Then we can do whatever you want.”

Having a drink was definitely a good idea. It might have been the gin/champagne combo.  More likely, it was him, but Lizzy believed she was already starting to buzz. “So you’re a sex shop tour guide. How long have you been doing this?”

“This is my first and only tour.”

“No.”

“It is.”

Something about his confession—if it were the truth—encouraged her. She felt less embarrassed than she would be with an old-hand. He didn’t have an arsenal of tired sell-lines to throw at her. She leaned into him without realizing it. “Why would this be your only tour?”

He drank his gin. “I’m here for you. It’s all I’m good for.”

She watched him weave his fingers through hers. 

“You don’t even know me.”

“I’m learning.”

Having put all her energy into stressing over the sex shop visit itself, Lizzy was unprepared for the shock he gave her hormones. Her skirt had risen a half-mile higher than it needed to be. Damn peppermint. It put her in the mood to make-out…with a total stranger…with a pipe in his lap…

Say something, say something, say something…“Do you guys really sell souped-up sex dolls?” She hadn’t meant to blurt it out, but she wanted to know.

“I’m not familiar with the term, souped-up. But, I imagine it would be self-flattery coming from me.” The bright amber flecks in his eyes lit up his face. “And, while we don’t consider ourselves sex dolls, a large portion of what we do would suggest it. I believe the answer would be affirmative.” 

It had to be the gin. “Pardon me?”

“I’m a souped-up sex doll.”

She burst out laughing. “I meant the supposed robots.”

Javier leaned over and whispered in her ear, “That is a conflicting response.”

It was a straight sentence, no hidden meanings or innuendos. But his breath in her ear made her wet her panties.

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Gimlet

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

 

My jaw is still dragging the floor after reading Welcome to BB’s. 

If you can forget Lizzie is having wild sex with a very, very, VERY  enhanced robot, then the sex scenes were off the charts hot. 

Javier is not your typical robot. He looks real, feels real, and has thoughts and emotions. However, there is no mistaking he is not human. First and foremost, he’s price tag was no joke — $350,000 with no upgrades!

There were several instances where I laughed, though.  

  • He had a magical schlong. It literally shot out Gimlet (a cocktail). His tongue also released liquor from it. 
  • His ‘member’ can also shrink, deflate, or grow in size, depending on Lizzie’s pleasure and which hole he was about to or in the process of occupying. What a nifty trick!
  • Boris was a cad. Love that guy! 

I know sexbots are a real thing. I know they are becoming more realistic with each new model. I’m not sure if I would shell out or take a loan out for one, but there’s no harm in taking a tour of the shop. Now is there… *wink wink*

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:  ❤1/2

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Made entirely of rum and snacks–International Bestselling Author, Tracy A. Ball is a native Baltimorean and veteran West Virginian, whose family is a mashup of cultures. She writes real and raw interracial romance with an intensity that burns because she has been busting stereotypes while teaching interracial/generational healing for more than a quarter of a century.

Tracy engages with folks from every twist of fate and all manner of experience. She has hung out with murderers and dined with people who have dined with the Pope, which is why she needs the rum…and a nap.

Her published works include: Blood Like Rain, Welcome to BBs, The Other Shore, Death’s Desire, Big Guns & Bullsh@t, “Imogene’s Flowers,” “Thorns,” “Black’s Magic” “Truly, Madly, Kiss Me,” “Cumberland Christmas,” Civil Warriors, Dragonfly Dreams, “An Angel with Dirty Wings,” “Tsarina,” KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse, The Tiger & The Snake, The Right Way to Be Wrong, “Left on Marriottsville,” “The Train Ride,” Mail Duty, White Russian Lies.

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