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Author Showcase – Kendall Ryan (Finding Alexei)

He’s bossy, moody, and overprotective.

He’s also a pro athlete who needs to focus on winning games and staying out of the headlines.

I’m fiercely independent and need a man like I need a second period each month.

So when our worlds collide, I never expected him to be the one to jump in and save me. Especially not when my ex-roommate disappears, leaving me with her baby.

I’m clueless about babies—and it shows. Good thing Alexei isn’t. With six nieces and nephews and an apparent hero complex, the dude is both sexy and more than capable. It’s a combination that makes it easy to forget we’re just playing house.

 

Chapter Preview Courtesy of Kendall Ryan’s Website

 

Alexei

She’s petite yet curvy with a nice ass and beautiful tits. But that’s not the first thing I notice about her.

The first thing that strikes me is that her coat isn’t warm enough for a Chicago winter.

It’s dark out, and barely above freezing. She’s standing on a street corner discussing something with a man in hushed tones, waving her hands dramatically as she speaks. It’s nearly midnight, and the street is almost deserted.

She has long dark hair, a trim build, and a full pouty mouth. And she seems to be pissed off. Curious about her, I stalk closer and then slow my pace.

“Fine. Tell me what it’ll take, sweetheart,” the guy says to her.

She stiffens and puts one hand on her hip. “I’m not for sale, asshole. I did my job, but that’s it. When you step outside those doors, the fantasy ends.”

They’re standing outside a dingy club, the kind of place that smells of rancid smoke, cheap beer, and meaningless sex. I should know. I’ve been here once or twice for bachelor parties and those kinds of things. My friends would call it a titty bar. But my friends are mostly pro football players, and their manners leave a lot to be desired.

The place isn’t really a strip club, more like a topless bar where beautiful women serve drinks in their underwear. It all seemed innocent enough, until now . . . until a sinking feeling washes over me as I watch this woman get propositioned in the street as she’s trying to leave work.

The guy laughs, the sound abrasive, like he doesn’t believe her. “Three hundred bucks. Come on, baby. It’ll be fast.”

She chews on one of those pouty lips as she weighs his words, contemplating what looks to be a life-changing decision . . . and not life-changing in a positive way.

Don’t do it, lady . . . just say no to what this asshole is offering you.

Part of me knows I need to mind my own damn business, that this guy just wants a quick fuck. Who am I to judge how this woman chooses to support herself? The other part of me—the fierce protector in me—says this is a situation that I can’t ignore. I won’t allow this asshole to force a woman to do something she’s not comfortable with.

I walk over, my legs moving of their own volition.

“Excuse me,” I say, interrupting them.

Her gaze swings over to mine, and the guy she’s with does a double-take. I tower over him by at least half a foot. Now that I have a better look at him, I see the guy is middle-aged, round in the midsection, his hair graying at his temples. I also know I can take him if it comes to that.

He shoots me a look that’s half pissed off that I interrupted his bargaining session, and half panicked that I may kick his ass. The latter is definitely what he should be more concerned about if he tries any shit. I may just decide to do it anyway, despite the fact I just promised my agent I’ll behave myself and not end up on any more tabloid news sites.

“The lady said to leave her alone. I suggest you get the fuck out of here.” I glare down at the guy.

His eyes narrow, but he takes a step back and holds up his palms. “Fine. Going.”

He takes off down the street and disappears around the corner, leaving me standing across from the woman. She’s probably no more than five foot three, a hundred twenty pounds soaking wet. No way she could have defended herself against someone his size. More importantly, she shouldn’t have to defend herself from that prick.

“Were you really going to go home with that guy?”

She shakes her head. “No. He didn’t want to take me home. Just wanted me to show him my boobs and have me give him a hand job in the back seat of his car. He may or may not have mentioned something about finishing himself off on my breasts too.”

I wait to see if she’s joking, but sadly, I can tell what she’s saying is the truth.

Then she looks at me, with the prettiest shade of blue eyes I’ve ever seen, and my heart almost stops. “For the record—guys are gross.”

I chuckle at her surprising honesty. “Not denying that.”

Men can be real creeps. I’ve seen the evening news. Sadly, there’s just no arguing against her logic. Some of us are still good guys, but I don’t say this to her. I just let her believe what she wants.

“I’m Alexei,” I say, offering her my hand.

For a second, she just looks at my hand, and I don’t think she’s going to take it. But then finally, after deciding that she can trust me, at least for something as simple as a handshake, she places her small palm in mine and shakes my hand. She’s freezing.

“I’m Ryleigh. Thanks for, um . . . saving me.”

I haven’t done anything yet. I wanted to punch that guy in the fucking jaw when I heard him propositioning her. Instead, I let him walk away unscathed. Lucky prick.

“Do you work here?” I lift my gaze to the neon sign blazing above our heads in the darkness. I scrub a hand over my face as I picture the petite woman standing before me scantily clad and serving drinks to a group of horny men with grabby hands and fat wallets.

She nods.

“You a stripper, then?” I ask.

Ryleigh makes an annoyed sound in her throat. “It’s a topless bar. I’m not a stripper.”

I knew as much, but part of me didn’t want to admit I’ve been a customer at the place. It’s not exactly a classy establishment. “But you serve drinks in your underwear.”

“As I said, men are gross. Sadly, they also pay my bills.”

I chuckle, again surprised by her. “I’m not denying it. And not that you asked for it, but in my point of view, men are visual creatures. And women are beautiful. We enjoy seeing them any chance we can get.”

She merely rolls her eyes, clearly not buying my bullshit. “Listen, as nice as it is to freeze my lady balls off and stand out here talking to you, I need to find a way to get home.”

“Where’s your ride? I can wait with you.” The words just stumbling out of my mouth before I can think about it.

“My car’s in the shop, and my friend bailed on giving me a ride.”

I nod, processing everything. Something also tells me she needs that three hundred bucks the guy was offering her. I take a deep breath, weighing my options. It’s either go home alone to my $6 million penthouse and lie awake wondering if she’s okay . . . or drive her home myself and convince her to just take the money I have in my wallet. It’s not like I need it.

As tired as I was walking out of my dinner meeting with Slate, now I’m way too keyed up for sleep. It’s then that I realize going home alone would be pointless.

“Is that what you needed the money for? Your car?”

Her inquisitive blue gaze meets mine, and for a second, I think she’s going to deny that she needs the money. She’ll probably try to save face by telling me I read the situation wrong, and she was never actually entertaining that scumbag’s offer.

Instead, she surprises me for the third time in five minutes.

“No. Well, yes. But not tonight. My immediate concern is getting home and taking care of my roommate’s baby.”

“Baby?” I ask, lifting one eyebrow.

She nods, tucking a long strand of silky brown hair behind her ear. “My ex-roommate, actually. She, um, dropped off her baby a few days ago and left. I have no idea when she’s coming back. I need to pick up diapers, more clothes, and baby formula. All of that stuff costs money.” Ryleigh straightens, her posture stiffening, like she’s revealed too much. “You know what, don’t worry about it. I’ll figure it out. I always do.”

“Where’s the baby now?” It’s after midnight, after all. But no matter how late it is, I’m not letting her walk away just yet.

“My neighbor is babysitting her so I could work.”

Something inside me believes Ryleigh’s telling the truth. Even though the last thing I want to do tonight is deal with a sad woman who has what sounds like more drama than an episode of Law & Order, with an even more unusual twist of playing nanny for someone’s baby, I find myself gesturing toward my car. My black Mercedes is parked right across the street.

“I’ll take you.”

She narrows her eyes. “I don’t even know who you are. Why would I trust you?”

I don’t point out that she was just considering getting into the car of a complete stranger. Or that she was considering doing unsavory activities with said stranger. I could tell her it’s because I grew up with three sisters, and I have a big heart. I could tell her that I have six nieces and nephews, that I’m good with babies. I could even hand her my business card and tell her she could ruin me with one call to the media about how I tried to pick her up outside a nightclub. But I don’t say any of those things. Instead, I find myself wanting her to trust me on instinct alone.

I finally settle on, “Because I’m offering to help you. No strings.”

“No strings, as in I don’t have to show you my boobs?”

I almost choke on the laugh that crawls up my chest. “Only if you want to, but remember . . . we men are visual creatures.” I offer her my best playboy smirk, the one that usually makes women swoon, only to find it has no effect on Ryleigh.

Strange.

Maybe it’s because she doesn’t know who I am, but she treats me differently than the women I usually meet, as if I’m a regular guy and not a famous millionaire sports star who easily melts women with simply a smile.

Ryleigh has no idea that I’m Alex Ivan, pro football player for the Chicago Hawks. She doesn’t swoon and bat her eyelashes or try to impress me. In fact, she doesn’t follow any of the normal protocols. Clearly, she’s not a gold digger, because if she were, she could talk me out of way more than three hundred bucks. An even bigger part of me knows I could add several zeroes behind that figure, and she’d need every damn dime.

“Fine. I’ll take the ride. But it’s going to be a hard pass on the boobs.”

“Whatever you want.”

The truth is, she’s gorgeous, and if she wanted to share her body with me, I’d jump at the fucking chance. But something about her no-nonsense demeanor tells me that’s not going to happen, which is probably for the best. I don’t have time to get tangled up in something right now, anyway. I have to focus on myself and my career now more than ever.

After another moment’s hesitation, Ryleigh looks back at the club one last time, and then to my car. I can see the moment she makes up her mind, letting out a soft sigh.

“Don’t make me regret this,” she mutters under her breath before she follows me to my car.

I hit the button on the key fob to start the engine, then unlock the doors. When we slide inside, I turn up the heat and direct the vents toward her.

“Thank you,” she says, buckling her seat belt. “Nice car.” Her gaze lingers on the sleek wood paneling, supple leather, and chrome fixtures.

“Thanks,” I murmur, suddenly feeling a little sheepish about the opulence of my luxury sedan while she has to consider back-alley propositions just to feed her baby. No, not her baby, her ex-roommate’s baby, which makes this entire situation even crazier. I shift into drive and pull out onto the road. “So, where to?”

“Oh, right.” Ryleigh rattles off her address, and I wince.

I’ve only been to that area of the city once, and it was by accident because I was lost. It’s not a safe or very nice area, and I hate to think about her walking around after dark alone, petite beauty that she is.

“So, your name, Alexei, is that . . .”

“Russian. My parents moved here when I was six.” I also have no fucking clue why I told her my name is Alexei. Everyone calls me Alex. Everyone except for my mothers and sisters.

“Do you remember much of it? Living in Russia? I’ve never been out of the United States. I’ve barely been out of the Midwest.”

“A little. My parents tried to keep up the traditions for us. They were proud of their heritage. We spoke Russian at home, and every Friday, my mother would make a big traditional meal.”

“What kinds of foods are in traditional Russian meals? Like borscht?”

I chuckle. “Borscht is disgusting.” It’s a beet soup that looks like a bowl of blood. “My favorites were the cabbage rolls and herb-and-meat-filled pies she would make.”

“That sounds amazing. I haven’t eaten a real home-cooked meal in a long time.”

All this talk about food makes me wonder if she’s hungry, if I should offer to stop and get something for her to eat. Then I decide against it because I don’t want her to feel that I think she’s a charity case. Plus, dinner together seems too personal, and I can’t do personal right now. She’s a big girl. She can feed herself.

The conversation I just had with my agent at dinner rings through my head. I need to keep my head down and stay focused on winning. Prove that I’m worth the huge contract that was just plopped into my lap. Period.

“What about you?” I ask. “Family in the area?”

She shakes her head, folding her hands in her lap. “I was an only child. Both of my parents have passed on.”

“I’m sorry.” Shit. Now I wish I’d never asked, because her story has gotten even more pitiful.

She shakes her head, still looking out the windshield. “It’s okay.”

We drive in silence for a few minutes, and when we get closer to her neighborhood, I spot a superstore that’s all lit up on the corner, one of those twenty-four-hour places. I pull into the parking lot and park the car.

Ryleigh’s gaze swings to mine, and I can sense the question on her parted lips.

I recall a piece of advice a coach gave me once about how people would come out of the woodwork asking for money once I signed my first big contract. He recommended instead of giving out cash that I should give them what they need—you know, like paying an electric bill versus handing someone a hundred bucks.

“Why are you stopping here? My place is still a few blocks away.” She gives me a curious look.

“Let’s get the stuff you need.” Plus, if she’s lying about the baby, now would be the time to come clean.

She swallows and nods. “Thank you.”

I grab a cart and we wander the store aisles, finally locating the baby section. She grabs a package of diapers, the smallest she can find, and places it in the cart. I know how quickly babies go through diapers. Those will only last her a couple of days, and I open my mouth to object. Then I decide I’m being a controlling asshole, and should let her do this her way. Next, we find baby formula, and Ryleigh selects a yellow tub of the stuff, groaning when she sees how expensive it is. Babies go through formula faster than diapers, and I know she needs a few of those tubs, but I stay focused on what she wants.

“What else do you need?” I ask, turning to face her.

Under the bright lights, I can see how truly beautiful she is for the first time. Her hair is the color of deep honey. It looked brown outside, but here in the light, shades of gold run through the soft waves. Her skin is like porcelain, soft and creamy, and her eyes are the most striking shade of blue, fringed in thick black lashes. Stunning.

As if she can sense me watching her, she chews on her lower lip and shakes her head. “I’m really not sure. I don’t know the first thing about babies. She cries a lot, and I . . .”

“How old is she?”

“Two months.”

I push the cart to the next aisle and find what I’m looking for. “Does she use one of these?” I ask, selecting a pacifier.

“I’m not sure. My ex-roommate left me with almost nothing. It’s worth a shot.”

I toss a couple of them into the cart and then grab a Boppy pillow. “What about one of these?”

Ryleigh’s delicately arched eyebrows lift. “What the hell is it?”

I laugh again, amused by her honesty. “It’s a special pillow. She can do tummy time. Sometimes the crying is due to gas bubbles. This could help.”

“How do you know so much about babies?” Her eyes widen and lock onto mine.

I shrug, pushing the cart toward the checkout. “I have six nieces and nephews. I babysit them sometimes.” Whether I want to or not. I smile, thinking about my sisters shoving one or more babies into my arms anytime we’re at a family gathering.

We work together unloading the contents of the cart onto the conveyor belt. When the cart is empty, I pull out my gold card and hand it to the cashier.

Ryleigh stiffens. “You don’t have to do that.”

“I’ve got this, no worries.”

She looks at me, and I can see the wheels spinning in her head. She wants to trust me, wants to think I’m being chivalrous and gallant, but she’s wary because she’s likely never had a white knight ride in and save her. I see her underlying distrust, and for some reason, I want to prove to her that tonight, her white knight is real.

Besides, I’m not letting her spend whatever tip money she made tonight on this. I’m sure she needs it for other things, like fixing her car or feeding herself, not for taking care of a baby unexpectedly dropped off on her doorstep. I still need to get to the bottom of that story, but I sense that now’s not the time.

The cashier is watching our exchange with narrowed eyes. I smile and whisper to Ryleigh that she can pay me back if she likes, but it’s really not necessary.

The cashier rings up the items we’ve purchased, and I accept the bags after sliding my credit card back into my wallet.

Once I have the bags loaded into the back seat of my car, we set off again. A few minutes later, we’ve arrived, and when I park on the street and step out of the car, I get angry.

 

And my anger only intensifies with every step toward Ryleigh’s apartment.

 

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A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 2 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world.

Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.
She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.
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Author Showcase / Interview – Rexx Deane (Synthesis:Weave)

Welcome, Rexx!

 

  1.  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?

(Rexx) Nobody is ‘born to write’. I am no exception. I’d never been particularly good with grammar, and had no idea about the more complex rules (I probably still don’t, truth be told). How to write dialogue was beyond me, and I had no idea where to start with plot.

The closest I’d ever come to ‘proper’ writing was when I entered an Interactive Fiction competition in 2004 (IFComp) and wrote a text adventure based on the legend of the origin of Tai Chi. I really enjoyed describing locations and creating puzzles, and I was happy with that, so it never occurred to me to write a novel.

In 2011, I met my partner, Kris. He wasn’t a particular fan of many of the TV programs I enjoyed, but I convinced him to watch a boxset of that 90’s classic, Babylon 5, and he fell in love with it. Around this time, I convinced him to start using a wheelchair because of his disability and, after some strong initial resistance, he took it up and found the wheelchair liberating. In 2012, I started a new job at a software development company that focused on behaviourism, and while working there I realised that I could *learn* to write. It was just a skill other people learn, after all.

By 2013, Prompted by my love of Babylon 5 and games like Mass Effect, I had started making notes. Kris provided the inspiration for several character notes and plot points; I was desperate to write something scifi that involved a wheelchair, but didn’t ‘fix’ disability. Once I’d convinced myself I’d got enough notes to start forming a plot of sorts, I started reading books about the various components of writing and finally put pen to paper / fingers to keyboard. At this point, Kris started training to be a fitness instructor, so I used the time while he did his courses to begin writing.

Come the end of 2013, I’d completed the first draft of Synthesis:Weave. It was another year of editing (and seven more drafts) before I handed it over to my editor and subsequently rushed to publish it. Now, years later, and after having written the sequel, I regretted that decision and went back to tear it down in a rewrite, which has now been published as a second edition in August 2018.

 

 

(Kam) I’ve read many backstories and I find yours to be one of the most intriguing ones I’ve read. As for Babylon 5: I’m more of a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” kind of gal. I love Picard! BTW: Kris, in the photo above, is an inspiration to all who think that something is impossible. There’s no shame in trying. If you fail, that’s ok, at least you tried. 

 

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.

(Rexx) For me, writer’s block seems to come about because of two things that actually have the same cause: lack of information.

I’ll get stuck because I’ve not thought of some way for characters to get out of/into a situation, or not enough backstory. I’ll also find myself paralysed when I don’t know where the plot should go next – usually because it could go in far too many directions. Both of these are down to not having a vital piece of information – be that something I need to think of in backstory, or some way of limiting what can happen next.

I’m a plotter, although I don’t go to such depth as planning chapters and scenes. Instead, I plan ‘waypoints’ – information I want to relay to the reader, significant events I want to happen, problems that can occur, and occasionally fully-written scenes I want to insert. I don’t necessarily know the order of these when I write them, so once I’ve got enough I’ll go through and group them into themes which often end up representing the start, early middle, late middle and ending of the book’s plot.

I start writing and then see where each of these points leads, so getting stuck is a consequence of not having the right piece of the puzzle to put in next to continue the flow. It can sometimes be remedied by writing on paper instead of using a keyboard; the medium forces me to go forwards without being able to stop and edit what I’ve put down. Other times, prompting myself about the problem before driving to work or doing some other menial task will mean I suddenly have an idea when I’m not expecting it.

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Rexx) I currently write science fiction, although I like to veer slightly off-genre to mix things up a little. Only recently, I discovered that my work falls into ‘solarpunk’. While I will read dystopian, I wouldn’t want to write it and prefer upbeat/optimistic scifi.

When I’m not writing or doing my day job (as a systems developer), I like to play computer games. I don’t spend as much time reading as I probably should, but I do read to my partner before bed, so I guess that counts.

I’ve been in a group of RPG players for just over 10 years now, and we play 3rd edition D&D – although it took them nine years to convince me to have a go at running the game myself. They enjoyed it, and I recently convinced them to give Traveller (scifi rpg) a go. I think playing D&D has fed back into my writing and given me a way to understand the characters I write and get into their heads. Similarly, writing has furnished me with the tools to make up my own adventures and encounters with greater ease.

(Kam) I’ve played D&D once in my life.  My husband introduced me to it because he spent so much time playing it in his youth. He hoped I would love it too but I didn’t. Guess I’ll stick with Yahtzee, Uno, and Scrabble. 

 

 

  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?

(Rexx) If I think people might be interested in scifi, I’ll mention my novel(s). I’m actually more proud of the fact that I write than of the work I do every day, simply because it’s easier to talk to people about writing than it is to explain the technicalities of my day job.

My relatives and friends are proud of my writing (or so they say), but at times it’s a delicate balance to keep from getting obsessed with writing and have it getting in the way of my relationship with my partner.

 

  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.

(Rexx) I’ve read mostly ‘classic’ scifi and fantasy authors, and very few contemporaries, hence my skewed favourites.

Ursula Le Guin

Isaac Asimov

Arthur C Clarke

Carl Sagan

Gregory Benford

Julian May

Anne McCaffrey

Andre Norton

Michael Cobley

Alan Dean Foster

(Kam) Some of these names are not familiar to me. For that, I say thank you. I love being introduced to new authors/reading material. 

 

 

  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?

(Rexx) I’m going to be self-indulgent. I want to see Synthesis:Weave on screen. I wrote it to feel like a movie.

Bill Nighy (the British actor, not the science guy) as a particular enigmatic figure.

Rachel Weisz as Monica Stephens

Tom Hiddleston or James McAvoy as Sebastian

Bryce Dallas Howard as Sebastian’s sister, Janyce.

Emily Blunt as Karan

Ben Cross as Agent Gladrin (I had him in mind when writing the character)

A genuine amputee (double or otherwise) to play Aryx. Favouring Kurt Yaeger, although there are several paralympians who would suit, if they could act!

 

The laws of physics are about to change …

A tsunami on a space station.
An explosion with no trace of the bomber.

Cyber-security expert Sebastian knows evidence doesn’t magically disappear, yet when he and his colleague Aryx, a disabled ex-marine, travel the galaxy to find the cause, there seems to be no other explanation.

Can they unravel the mystery before his family, home, and an entire race succumbs to an ancient foe?

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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.

(Rexx) I’ve finished the sequel to Synthesis:Weave, and at this time I’m working on the cover for that, along with plotting the final book in the trilogy. I’ve also got ideas for an unrelated mild scifi set on present-day Earth, which I want to centre on a female character – it’s going to have a completely different feel to anything I’ve written so far.

 

 

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

(Rexx) Ebooks are available on Kindle, Kobo, Google play and Nook (all DRM free, so you can read it on any of the devices you own, regardless of which platform you purchase it from). Paperback and hardback formats are also available.

The preferred reading order is the order in which they were written. Synthesis:Weave was written first, followed by the short story prequel, Synthesis:Pioneer, which, when read after S:W, gives the ‘oh, so that’s what they meant!’ factor.

Synthesis:Weave 2, Afterglow is due out in March 2019, and follows immediately on from Synthesis:Weave.

 

When Calendula accepted the post of linguist aboard the Fluorescent Lightingale, she felt as though she’d been accepted as a token crew member. Little did she know what pivotal role she would play in Earth’s future.

Please note, Synthesis:Pioneer is a prequel short story to the Synthesis novel series only, and not a full-length novel.

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

(Rexx) By contact form on rexxdeane.com, or on Twitter @RexxDeane – I don’t tend to use Facebook much now and have been distancing myself from that platform, although I do have a page there.

 

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

(Rexx) I would like readers (and perhaps writers) to remember that just because a book has a character with a disability, it’s important not to make the disability the focus of the book. Disabled people just want to get on with their lives, and quite often get sick of being lectured or constantly presented with books that say they should behave a certain way. To be presented realistically, disabled characters should be the same. Just have them “get on with it,” and readers will love your book for it.

 

 

Your final comments (Q10) are absolutely true. People don’t want to be seen for what they can’t do but praised for the things they’ve accomplished. Disabled or not, we are all capable of truly amazing feats.  

I want to thank Rexx for sitting down with me today. I also want to thank everyone who’s reading this and decides to share, comment, or purchase Synthesis: Weave and/or Synthesis: Pioneer. Remember, reviews are helpful to authors. They love them. I’m sure Rexx especially loved the ones posted to Goodreads. (See below)

 

Chris B. (Synthesis:Weave), 5⭐: A Scifi story that keeps you gripped from beginning to end, with many twists & turns, a must read for all Scifi fans, it’s an excellent read, looking forward to a second book in the future 🙂

 

Alastair (Synthesis: Weave), 5⭐: I read this, and I liked it. Full of inventive ideas, spaceships, aliens and mystery. What’s not to like?

 

Rose E. (Synthesis: Pioneer), 5⭐: This is a very short SciFi story about 30 minutes of reading in which we get an introduction to ‘The Synthesis Series’, and a brief insight into the very varied crew on board the ‘Fluorescent Lightingale’. 

This tale centres around the linguist aboard who goes by the name ofCalendula a talented young woman who uses all her senses. I particularly like how the author describes what she smells and hears upon boarding the ship. 

I really do not wish to say more otherwise the story may be spoiled, but I do know that I will be moving the main story up my reading list.

 

(Kam) Yes, I know the last review had a typing error but I didn’t think it was appropriate to change it. It’s their review, not mine. Plus, I don’t think the error undermines the love Rose had for the story.  😛 

 

 

 

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Author Showcase – Lori Wilde (The Christmas Key: A Twilight, Texas Novel)

There’s a legend in Twilight, Texas. If you sleep with a kismet cookie under your pillow on Christmas Eve, you will dream of your one true love.

She saw him in her dreams . . .

It’s impossible! Naomi Luther was standing face-to-face with the man she’d dreamed about over a year ago. Was it the magic of kismet Christmas cookies that brought him to her? Or is there an even greater force at work? All Naomi knows is she is falling, hard and fast, for the one man all good sense says she should not have.

She was his buddy’s sister . . .

Rebellious Mark Shepherd found order in the Marines but chaos on the battlefield. In a mission gone wrong, Mark is injured and one of his fellow soldiers loses his life. Haunted by guilt, he arrives in Twilight to keep a solemn promise. But when the Luthers mistake him for their handyman, he’s swept up in playing Santa to his buddy’s orphan son . . . and falling hard for Naomi’s irresistible bright spirit and sweet, sexy smile. But what will happen when she learns the truth?

 

(Excerpt courtesy of Lori Wilde’s Website)

 

December 2nd, The Teal Peacock, Twilight, Texas.

“Hon, if I put another thing on top of that pile, you’re not going to be able to see where you’re going.”

Undaunted, Naomi Luther dropped her shoulders. The subtle move lowered the boxes stacked in her arms about half an inch. She was a pro. For the past five years, she’d owned Perfect Fit, a personal-shopping business. She had this.

“Lookee,” Naomi said. “If you take that last box out of the bag, there’s enough room to slide it right on top of the others. And I’ll be able to hold it all down with my chin.”

The older woman behind the counter, Patsy Crouch, looked skeptical. “One false move and the whole shebang will come crashing down.”

“I’ll be fine,” Naomi reassured her with a jovial grin. “Go ahead. Stock it to me.”

“You are so funny,” Patsy laughed. “It’s amazing the way you’ve bounced back after—”

“Gotta keep my spirits up for Hunter.” She polished her smile, brightening its sheen. Hoping to head Patsy off at the pass. This Christmas mustbe a happy one. Which granted, was hard to pull off when everyone in town kept recounting her family’s sorrows.

“How are things with Robert?” Patsy asked.

Naomi pressed her lips together. She didn’t want to get into her love life. Or lack there of. “Robert and I are….”

What was her situation with her long-distance boyfriend? She wished she knew. When Robert took the job in Denver, they’d had an understanding. Robert would get his life and career in Colorado established and then she would join him and they’d get married. It wasn’t an official engagement. Nothing formal. He’d not asked for her hand in marriage. But she’d planned on marrying him since she was a junior in high school. She had a hope chest, and a wedding idea book stuffed with dreams.

 But since last Christmas, everything had changed. And Naomi was no longer quite sure where she and Robert stood. She hadn’t seen him in four months. They texted, but it was not daily. They’d both been so busy. Shocked, she realized they hadn’t even talked on the phone in over a month.

“It’s complicated,” she said as much to herself as to Patsy. “All my focus is on Hunter right now. It has to be.”

“Does that mean he’s free to date other people?”

That pulled her up short. She hadn’t really thought about it. Robert hadn’t mentioned wanting to see other people. Was he seeing other people?

“How about you?”

Naomi made a dismissive sound. “If I had time for dating I could fly to Denver every few weeks and reconnect with Robert..”

“Robert’s not coming around to the idea of you adopting Hunter, is he?” Patsy looked at her over the rim of the reading glasses perched on the end of her nose. “That’s the real issue.”

Patsy made a good point, but she wasn’t going to discuss that. She and her parents had decided as a family that Naomi should be the one to adopt Hunter since her mother’s health was fragile and her parents were both over sixty. Robert hadn’t understood, and asked why her parents were trying to “saddle” her with her dead brother’s baby.

They’d had a huge fight over it. He didn’t get that adopting Hunter had been heridea, not her folks. In fact, they’d tried to dissuade her, telling her they didn’t want her to give up her life to raise her brother’s child. But Hunter was everything to her.

Her relationship with Robert had not been the same since, even though he’d apologized, and they’d smoothed things over.

On the surface, anyway.

“I’m sure everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.” Patsy took the box out of the shopping bag she’d just put it in.

“Hopefully..” Naomi felt unsettled by Patsy’s questions because she didn’t know the answers, and she hated not being in control.

“How’s your mother?” Patsy’s voice lowered, knitting a sympathetic tone.

Naomi flinched at the pity, but kept the smile pasted on her face. Nothing was gonna get her down. The family had been steeped in sorrow long enough. Being happy didn’t mean they still didn’t grieve their losses. But if she’d learned anything, it was that life was short and you had to make the most of it.

And hey, in high school, she hadn’t been a cheerleader for nothing. Rah, Rah Twilight Titans.

“Mom’s good.”

“I know this is a rough time of year for your family. The holidays—”

“We’re fine.” Her smile stiffened, but she kept her voice loose. A flag flapping in the breeze. Oh, say can you see, life is good, good, good. “We’re doing great. Honest.”

“You’ve all suffered a huge loss.” Patsy added the box to the leaning Tower of Pisa in Naomi’s arms. “It’s okay to grieve. I—”

“Could you open the door for me, please? Thank you.” Naomi locked her elbows to help brace the load. Mashed her chin against the top package. Squelched the sad feelings rising up inside her.

None of that, Missy.

“How far to your van?” Patsy asked.

“It’s in the shop. Transmission overhaul. It’ll be out of commission all week.” But she wasn’t letting the inconvenience get her down.

“So how are you getting all this home?”

“Jana’s swinging around to pick me up at the curb.”

“You sure you don’t need help getting the packages into Jana’s Jeep?” Patsy folded the empty bag emblazoned with a teal peacock and stuck it back inside the drawer.

“Juggling packages is all part of the Christmas fun, right?”

Patsy hustled across the old wooden floor to open the door, moving fast for a woman in her late sixties. “Do mind your step, hon, and watch out for the workmen setting up Dickens.”

During the first weekend in December, tourists flocked to Twilight. Looking for fun at the annual Dickens on the Square festival. Normally, Naomi loved this time of year. But after last year’s tragedies…

Stop. No unwanted thoughts. Come hell or high water, this was going to be the best Christmas ever. No excuses.

With the packages blocking her view, Naomi inched down the stairs of the Teal Peacock. Workmen were stringing electrical cords and wiring. Two crewmembers carried neon orange sawhorses. They were using them to block off the cross streets.

Dang it. Now, Jana wouldn’t be able to drive through that way and pick her up. She’d have to wait on the curb with her unwieldy load while Jana circled around to the back of the building.

No worries, no worries. Smile. Life is good. Yes, her arms were screaming at her to put down the packages, but she could ignore the burn for a little longer.

Hurry, Jana, hurry.

It was okay. Achy arms weren’t going to kill her, and it wasn’t as if she didn’t have a loving community to help. Things were so much better than they were a year ago. She counted her blessings. She was healthy. Her business was turning a profit. She had parents who loved her. She lived in the best small town in Texas.

And she had the sweetest little boy who was about to become her son. Who could ask for anything more?

“Thank you,” she murmured skyward. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Jana’s black Jeep Grand Cherokee pulled up to the curb. Whew! Nick of time. Relieved, she headed toward the back of the Jeep.

“Here, here,” said one of the workmen. “Let me help.” The man stretched out long, reached for the handle, and flung the door open.

“Thank you.” Naomi breathed, offered him a harried smile. Nice man. Helpful. She dumped the packages in the backseat, and slammed the door. Heard her cell phone ding from the bottom of her purse.

She wanted to ignore it, but with Hunter in preschool, she didn’t dare. Digging in her purse for the phone, she hopped into the passenger seat. Without looking around, she clicked on her seatbelt.

The workman shut the door behind her. She nodded at him, waved.

“Hello,” she said into the phone, but the caller hung up. She pulled the phone from her ear to see who’d called.

Jana.

Huh? Why was Jana calling her when she was sitting right here in the car with her? She turned to her best friend.

But it was not Jana sitting in the driver’s seat.

Rather, it was a man. A tall man. A handsome man. A complete stranger. And…

Sweet

Holy

Mother

of

baby

Jesus…

He bore an uncanny resemblance to the dark-haired man she’d dreamed of last Christmas Eve, when she’d slept with a kismet cookie under her pillow. Not that she believed in the legend.

And yet, here he was.

Believe me now?Taunted the legend.

“Eeep!” Naomi cried, scrambling for the door handle to jump out.

But the seatbelt yanked her backward, Tightening down on her chest. Which he must have noticed. Because he was staring at her breasts with an amused expression on his gorgeous mug.

Feeling like a ginormous idiot for getting into the wrong vehicle, she blurted, “Who are you?”

“Better question,” he said in a voice as deep and dark as the Brazos River at midnight. “Who are you?”

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Lori Wilde is the New York TimesUSA Today and Publishers’ Weekly bestselling author of 85 works of romantic fiction. She’s a three time Romance Writers’ of America RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Readers’ Choice Award. She has won numerous other awards as well. Her books have been translated into 26 languages, with more than four million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her breakout novel, The First Love Cookie Club, has been optioned for a TV movie.

Lori is a registered nurse with a BSN from Texas Christian University. She holds a certificate in forensics, and is also a certified yoga instructor.

A fifth generation Texan, Lori lives with her husband, Bill, in the Cutting Horse Capital of the World; where they run Epiphany Orchards, a writing/creativity retreat for the care and enrichment of the artistic soul.

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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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Author Showcase – Laura M. Baird (Rory’s Christmas Angel)

Print Length: 110 pages

Instinct kicks in as Frankie Chandler, former Navy nurse, now soon to be veterinarian, witnesses an accident and rushes to save a man’s life. When State Trooper Rory Sanders arrives on the scene, he’s awestruck at the sight of the gorgeous woman taking charge. Once the frenzy is over, both are reluctant to walk away from their mutual attraction. But they’ll each have to get beyond their hesitations, such as Rory telling himself it’s okay to let love in while raising his daughter after losing his wife, and Frankie who’s never had a serious relationship in her life because she’s been focused on school while also helping raise her nephew. Will the power of love win out and make their Christmas wishes come true?

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~~ Excerpt ~~

 

Widower, Florida State Trooper Rory Sanders encounters ex-Naval nurse, Frankie Chandler, at a road-side accident. One look has him bewildered at his instant attraction. Is it a sign that he’s ready to open his heart in order to find love again?

While pursuing her degree in veterinary science as well as helping raise her young nephew, Frankie doesn’t have time for a relationship. But fate has no concept of time when the striking Rory Sanders bursts onto the scene.

Rory ran to the scene and catalogued what was happening. An older man stood by while a younger man and a woman were crouched down attempting to pull someone out of the car. He couldn’t see the woman’s face as her back was to him. All he could see was a red and black flannel shirt atop jeans that fit snugly to a shapely backside.

Jesus! What’s wrong with you? You’re at an accident, not here to ogle this woman!

As he got closer, he heard the woman yell, “Three!” And everything seemed to happen at once. He heard the clicking of the seat belt, and he saw rapid movements of the man and woman cradling the victim as they carefully maneuvered him out of the crunched car. He saw the woman turn and bright green eyes collided with his, leaving him momentarily stunned. Short blond hair haloed her face as a rosy blush colored her cheeks. Probably from the exertion. Or more likely from the heat of the car which suddenly had flames bursting from the engine compartment.

“Move!” the woman yelled.

While they scrambled to pull the man further away from the vehicle, Rory shot forward to assist. He grabbed near the victim’s shoulders while the woman held the torso and the younger man moved to hold the legs. Together, they got the victim a safe distance from the burning car before setting him down, he and the woman kneeling at his upper body. Looking at the man, he noticed a gash across his forehead that was bleeding freely, and he appeared unresponsive.

Before Rory could act, the woman was tearing off her flannel to reveal a black tank top beneath. As well as more shapely anatomy. Rory tried hard not to stare at the generous breasts and the well-toned arms, at the intricate tattoo gracing an arm—the design he couldn’t quite make out due to the woman’s quick movements.

“He’s unresponsive!” she yelled. “Hold this to his head while I start CPR.” She shoved her shirt into Rory’s hands while she assessed for a pulse. She must have felt one, because her next step had been to check for breathing. As her cheek hovered above the victim’s mouth, she looked down at the man’s chest. Her next move then had been to tilt the chin up and pinch this nose while she gave breaths.

Oh, to have that beautiful face so near to him. To have those lips touch his.

Rory shook his head to clear his incredible thoughts, wondering what the hell was wrong with him.

“His pulse is faint but he’s not breathing,” she said. “I’ll continue breaths until the ambulance arrives.”

That prompted Rory to speak. “An ambulance should be here shortly, coming from Gainesville.” While kneeling down on the opposite side of the victim, across from the angel … er … the woman, he continued. “I’ll relieve you if needed. I’m Trooper Sanders. Rory Sanders.”

After two more breaths, the woman pierced him with her emerald eyes and said, “I’m Chandler, Frankie Chandler.” Her voice had been almost lyrical even in the tense situation, and he shouldn’t have been zeroing in on her plump lips, but that’s exactly what he did.

“Used to be a nurse in the Navy,” the older man supplied as he stated his name while standing over the scene. “I didn’t think it wise to move the man, but she seemed certain it had to be done. Good thing, seeing as he would have burned to a crisp if not for her actions.”

Rory looked to see flames licking over every inch of the vehicle. He clicked his radio to update the situation, saying they’d need a fire truck and a wrecker on scene. Once he got the affirmative from Dee, he faced the group again.

“That’s for sure,” said the younger man. “I’m Frank and that’s my truck.” He indicated to the parked semi with a nod of his head. “Saw this guy weaving all over, in and out of traffic until he clipped my truck and flipped. Scariest thing I ever saw.”

Rory looked at each person before his gaze fell back onto Frankie as she finished another round of breaths. Or was it Franki? Or Franky? Dammit! Concentrate! “Pretty brave and quick thinking.”

“I couldn’t not help. Instinctual training took over.” She once again positioned her face over the victim’s mouth while feeling his pulse. Bringing her head back up, she said, “Still not breathing and his pulse is even weaker. May have to start compressions.”

Rory nodded. “Are you still a nurse?”

“No.” She shook her head. “I’m in my final year at U of F, becoming a vet.”

“A veterinarian?” Rory asked, knowing he must have seemed dumbfounded. All he could do was stare at Frankie, wanting to know more.

“Yes.” She smiled. And boy, what that did to her face, her entire presence. Even with the smudged dust on her skin and her hair in disarray, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. “Are you all right, Sanders?” she asked.

Was he? 

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Wife, mother, former U. S. Army, and dental hygienist, I can now add published author to the list. I’m slowly transitioning out of hygiene, hoping to make writing a full-time endeavor. After writing for many years, my publishing dreams came true in August of 2017 with the release of my debut contemporary romance, “Keyed Up”. Since then, I’ve had the fortune to work with several publishers, and as of June 4th, my eighth title was released. Hopefully many more are on the way!

I write in a variety of romance subgenres: contemporary, comedy, and erotic, with stories containing suspense and small-town romance in the works. I’m constantly learning, loving the journey, and all the amazing people I’m meeting. A voracious reader myself, I enjoy all romance from contemporary to erotic to paranormal to suspenseful.

I strive to write stories I can be proud of and enjoyed by many; ones that are not only sexy and fun, but thoughtful as well.

I grew up on the East Coast and now reside on the West Coast, having lived in FL, GA, SC, MA, ID, and WA. Hubby and I hope to fill our passports with stamps from Scotland and Fiji, to name a few destinations. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the beauty of the PNW.

 

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