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Pivot: Jack Harper Trilogy, Book 1 by L. C. Barlow (Book Showcase)

From the age of seven, Jack Harper is raised by the leader of a mystical cult, Cyrus Harper. Through Cyrus, Jack receives a full education in all usual subjects―economics, literature, mathematics, history―as well as one unique skill useful to a person in Cyrus’s position: assassination. With the help of Roland James, a man incapable of dying, Cyrus hones Jack into the perfect weapon to use against all who oppose him.

It is not long, however, before Jack discovers that Cyrus and Roland are not the only ones living in Cyrus’s mansion. There, too, exists a mysterious creature in the depths of the house with supposed immortal magic. According to Roland, this creature is responsible for all the miraculous things Jack has witnessed throughout her childhood, including Roland’s resurrection. The creature, potent and powerful, only weakens in the presence of Cyrus’s red velvet box―a dark, enchanted tool that grants Cyrus his invincibility and ensures his reign.

Lonely and terrified by her life in the cult, under Cyrus’s neverending watch, Jack desperately pursues the mysterious being. When they finally meet, her world is turned upside down, as he offers her more than she could have ever expected―the possibility of escape and her own secret, magical power.

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Excerpt:

“The repetition of these particular lessons helped me—the time and effort I devoted to them. Winning a fight had nothing to do with an instantaneous surge of power and awareness but was about maintaining a sense of normality in the moment. It was about what I could forget. I got used to the sensation of a body against my body, of someone coming at me, the foreign twisting, pulling, and driving. When it became the norm, then it all fell away, much like a common denominator. Only the crosshairs, the target, the wind, the heart, the head, the veins were left. Training meant learning what one should remember and, more importantly, what one should forget. The winner is the one for whom the fight feels most like home.” – Jack Harper, PIVOT

 

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L.C. Barlow is a writer and professor working primarily in the field of speculative fiction.  She has an MA in English from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program.  She has studied with popular writers, including Nancy Holder, Elizabeth Hand, Ted Deppe, James Patrick Kelly, Elizabeth Searle, David Anthony Durham, and Theodora Goss.  Her work has been published in Oak Bend Review, Flash Fiction World, Linguistic Erosion, Flashes in the Dark, Separate Worlds, Every Day Fiction, and Popular Culture Review.  Her fiction has reached over sixty-five thousand readers and garnered praise, including a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Awards, a winner of the IndieReader Discovery Awards, a winner of the eLit Awards, and IndieReader’s Best Books of 2014.  On Quora, her posts have received over 1.4 million content views. Barlow’s horror trilogy – PivotPerish, and Peak – was picked up in 2018 by California Coldblood Books, an imprint of Rare Bird Books.  The first of the trilogy, Pivot, was released in October of 2019.  Perish will be released in October of 2020.  Peak will be released in October of 2021. Barlow lives in Dallas, TX with her two cats, Smaug and Dusty.

 

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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 ‘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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Author Tanya S.M. Kennedy (4 Book Showcase)

Series: The Terarch Rebellion (Book 1)

For fans of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series comes this medieval fantasy romance.

 

To save her people from slavery, Raivien must trust the very people who held her captive.

Raivien has never relied on anyone else; as a terarch, it is the only safety she has. But if she wants anything to change, she needs help and it comes from the most unlikely place: the very handler that captured her and the son of the man in charge of it all. Now if she could just get them to get along, she could focus on the upcoming battle.

Blerk was once the most promising terarch handler in Algar. Once, he had one of the most powerful terarchs the kingdom had ever seen. But he lost it all. One twist of fate and his life was balanced on a razor’s edge. But the closer he gets to Raivien the deeper his guilt grows. Faced with the true brutality he himself inflicted; he is determined to make amends. But one final mystery threatens to overwhelm everything he has worked so hard for.

For once in his life, Alden knows he is doing the right thing. He had looked aside so often when his father performed some heinous act or another. But no more. For his fallen sister, for the mysterious Raivien, he will make things right. Gathering his loyal men, he prepares to overthrow his own father.

Thrown together by fate, tested by fire, these three former enemies must risk everything.

Raivien had never sought out battle, but some things you can’t run from. With a vengeful king hunting them, a savage man out to capture her, and a flood of unaccustomed emotions threatening to overwhelm her, there is more than enough to keep her mind off the impending war and the inevitable deaths that comes with it. The only thing she is sure of is she can’t stand by while a monster sits on the throne of Algar.

The Terarch Rebellion is the opening to an epic fantasy romance series. If you like compelling characters, epic battles against oppression, and a gripping story, then you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s tale of this feisty heroine’s battle for freedom.

Pick up your copy of The Terarch Rebellion and join the fight today!

 

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Series: The Terarch Rebellion (Book 2)

Raivien is back in the long anticipated second installment of The Terarch Rebellion.

Welcome to Algar where beloved King Alden has turned the kingdom from a symbol of fear to a safe-haven. With the aid of Raivien and Blerk, Algar has grown and prospered. But not everyone is pleased with the change as an unknown foe appears to have their sights set on the throne. With a warlord threatening their border, the mysterious Hawk hunting her every move, and even those she loves doubting her, how can Raivien keep her family from being torn apart? Mystery abounds and enemies are everywhere as we return to Algar where the fight for freedom is never over.

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(Stand Alone, not a part of  ‘The Terach Rebellion’ series)

Adjusting to this new world is impossible, returning to her old world means certain death.

Eylsa has an easy life; as long as she follows orders, she avoids punishment. But a poison is growing within her, stealing her sleep and twisting her thoughts, making a once easy job torturous. And it all started with nothing more than curiosity.

Brendan can’t imagine why his mentor Darius is trying so hard to rescue the very assassin sent to kill him. Everyone seems blinded by the girl’s youth but Brendan isn’t fooled. He can’t deny there is something about her that calls to him, but only a fool would trust a killer.

Assassin retraining did nothing to purge the deadly compassion from Eylsa’s mind. Every day is a constant battle to hide how broken she is. If anyone were to find out the weakness pulsing through her veins her life would be forfeit. When Darius reenters her life she knows she has no choice but to accept his offer of protection. At least imprisoned she might find peace. But what is she if she can no longer be what she was raised to be?

An Assassin’s Redemption is an urban fantasy about two worlds colliding. If you like compelling characters, bad-a** female antiheros, and an epic battle of struggling against evil then you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s tale of one woman’s struggle for survival.

Pick up your copy of An Assassin’s Redemption and join the fight against the Trinity today!

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(The Ruling Priestess Book 1) 

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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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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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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