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Lured by Light by Beth Barany (Book Review)


At Bijoux de L’Etoile, the high-end casino orbiting Earth, anything can happen.

It’s a quiet day for L’Étoile lead investigator, Janey McCallister, until a young woman runs screaming through the blackjack tables. She looks like a victim of abuse, but when her boyfriend turns up dead the next day, she becomes the prime suspect.

Determined to investigate every angle, Janey searches for clues and uncovers a world of high-priced escorts and human trafficking—a world just like the one that took the life of her best friend long ago.

When Orlando Valdez, inspector for Sol Unified Planets, shows up with a new suspect, Janey isn’t sure she can trust the mercurial man who stopped returning her phone calls. But as the threats escalate and she unravels a deeper conspiracy, Janey and her team will need all the help they can get. If they fail, it could be the end of everyone on L’Étoile.

***

Lured By Light, the second book in the Janey McCallister Mystery series, is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys, and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough kick-ass heroine with secrets.

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

 

Lured By Light didn’t fail to keep me entertained. It had mystery, suspense, murder, misunderstandings, futuristic tech gadgets, more questions than answers, and left me counting down the days until Gone Green releases in 2021. 

As with Into the Black, Orlando Valdez worked his way back into one of Janey’s case and, I believe, her heart. Of course, I’m not entirely sure he ever left it. He’s charming but irritating at the same time. One day soon, I think these two will eventually get some quality time together. Maybe Orlando will wear a costume for fun, not just for his undercover assignments. *wink, wink*

As for the ending, Janey didn’t get everything she wanted. The loose ends mean more books, and I am 100% on board for this.

 

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

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The ‘Janey McCallister Mystery’ Series Reading Order

Into the Black: Kindle Purchase Link / Print Purchase Link

Lured By Light: Kindle Purchase Link / Print Purchase Link

Coming 2021 – Gone Green: Kindle Purchase Link

Red Running Deep: Date TBD

 

 

 

Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mysteries. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

For fun, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books.

Sign up here to be notified about once a month of book news and special events: http://bethb.net/itbnews.

 

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Into the Black: Janey McCallister Mystery by Beth Barany (Book Review)

She wanted to make her mark. How hard could it be?

In 2130, at Bijoux de L’Etoile, a high-end casino orbiting Earth, you can get anything you desire.

Newly-hired as an investigator, Janey McCallister wants to solve her first big case—the theft of a priceless gem.

When her case of theft escalates to murder and points to the seedy underbelly of world affairs, Janey has to rely on her new team and trust the mysterious insurance investigator, Orlando Valdez—before a killer escapes into the black.

***

Into The Black is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough heroine with secrets.

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

Into the Black had mystery, suspense, deception, murder, and sexual tension. Janey and Orlando’s interactions reminded me of Castle and Beckett, the lovable characters from the hit detective show — Castle. 

In the television show, Richard Castle brings out the fun side of Kate Beckett. He’s handsome, sneaky, flirty, quick to mischief. Hmm, yup, it sounds a great deal like Orlando Valdez. Janey and Beckett have some of the same qualities, too. Tough, intelligent, leaders, goal-driven beauties, but can let their hair down at times as well. Plus, they both seem unable to resist their partner, who was thrust upon them against their firm objections… (Figuratively, not literally, of course) 🙂

 

This story is labeled as science fiction, but I can see certain elements coming to pass as technology grows. 

*Casino in outer space? Sure, why not? Casinos are popular on Earth already. 

*Ocular eyeballs? I’m surprised Elon Musk hasn’t created that already.

*Personal AI assistants? TOTALLY!

*Penal colony on the moon? Alcatraz is known as The Rock, so would that make the moon The Rock 2.0?

 

Joking aside, buy the book. You’ll like it, I’m sure. 


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

 

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Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mysteries. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

For fun, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books.

Sign up here to be notified about once a month of book news and special events: http://bethb.net/itbnews.

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The ‘Janey McCallister Mystery’ Series by Beth Barany (Multi-Book Showcase)

She wanted to make her mark. How hard could it be?

In 2130, at Bijoux de L’Etoile, a high-end casino orbiting Earth, you can get anything you desire.

Newly-hired as an investigator, Janey McCallister wants to solve her first big case—the theft of a priceless gem.

When her case of theft escalates to murder and points to the seedy underbelly of world affairs, Janey has to rely on her new team and trust the mysterious insurance investigator, Orlando Valdez—before a killer escapes into the black.

***

Into The Black is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough heroine with secrets.

Kindle Purchase Link
Print Purchase Link

 

Her implant flagged a quick movement in the crowd. Out of place, a shadow shifted. She clicked on her video. She’d get irrefutable evidence this time. Hope and determination fluttered in her chest.

A short, grey-haired man wove his way through the crowd, shoulders hunched, barely jostling people. Her implant flashed an ID: Mortimer Xang. His hotel record showed he’d arrived via space jet a week ago, and he had a room in the mid-priced level. No others in his party. He was leaving on the next transport Earthside in a few hours. Payee: Xang Enterprises.

One minute left.

He looked innocent enough, except for how one corner of his mouth quirked up in a faint smirk even though his gaze was downcast. His arms seemed pasted to the side of his body, and he took tiny steps as if to make himself even smaller.

Classic moves of a thief. Suspicious, though not evidence.

Her vid was recording, but all the other thefts had happened under the casino cameras and had not been detected.

She’d always trusted her intuition and her ability to read body cues before. But since she’d come to the station, she’d gotten it wrong twice. Should she wait for another sign that Xang was guilty? No, her gut told her he was up to something. She trusted that.

If she waited for the pickpocket to strike tonight, they could be here all night and still come up empty. She had to act now.

But if her instincts were wrong again, she’d be looking for a new job tomorrow.

“Got a possible,” Janey said to her team. “Shawhan, guard the exit. Lane, converge on my position. Kou, take our six.”

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At Bijoux de L’Etoile, the high-end casino orbiting Earth, anything can happen.

It’s a quiet day for L’Étoile lead investigator, Janey McCallister, until a young woman runs screaming through the blackjack tables. She looks like a victim of abuse, but when her boyfriend turns up dead the next day, she becomes the prime suspect.

Determined to investigate every angle, Janey searches for clues and uncovers a world of high-priced escorts and human trafficking—a world just like the one that took the life of her best friend long ago.

When Orlando Valdez, inspector for Sol Unified Planets, shows up with a new suspect, Janey isn’t sure she can trust the mercurial man who stopped returning her phone calls. But as the threats escalate and she unravels a deeper conspiracy, Janey and her team will need all the help they can get. If they fail, it could be the end of everyone on L’Étoile.

***

Lured By Light, the second book in the Janey McCallister Mystery series, is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys, and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough kick-ass heroine with secrets.

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

 

She said good-night to Faizah and stood up to go. Just then, from deeper in the casino, a young woman in a short, rainbow-sequined, barely-anything-there dress dashed past the bar. Fear tightened the young woman’s mouth, her olive skin splotched red. Her short brown hair flopped in her bloodshot eyes as she pushed through the crowd, saying something Janey couldn’t hear above the clamor of the huge room.

The young woman made barely a ripple in the boisterous, game-playing crowd, but Janey noticed her. She was trained to notice anything out of the ordinary, but this was more than different. This was startling. The young woman bore an uncanny resemblance to her best friend, Christine, who’d been dead for over four years now.

Time to intercept and find out why the young woman was in such a hurry and so distressed.

Janey rushed to interrupt the woman’s trajectory toward the casino exit.

She strode through the crowd while her ocular implant ran a facial rec and dished her the woman’s name and hotel registration: Amelia Gain. Her check-in date was seven days ago, her hotel registration and premium room service paid for by the Eshe Kamal Coffee, a corporate city-state inside of the Independent Empire of Ethiopia. She looked young, no more than twenty-three, but corporate often sent their staff to L’Étoile as a corporate perk or for bonus vacations. And five to ten percent of L’Étoile’s guests came from Eshe Kamal Coffee.

Amelia’s heart rate accelerated and her breathing shortened, all details Janey registered in a flash on her ocular implant in her right eye, which scrolled data continuously across the top of her visual field.

Janey was two arm lengths behind her, then one. Close enough to hear what the young woman was saying under her breath.

“Oh my god, no! No more. I can’t…He can’t…I won’t…” Amelia’s words burst out between sobs.

Near the slot machines at the casino entrance, Janey reached out to touch Amelia’s shoulder to slow her progress and get her attention. “Can I help you?”

Amelia flinched from Janey’s outstretched hand and shook her head. Tears streaked her cheeks. “No!” Her strident voice carried above the whine and buzz of jangling slot machines.

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Coming April 14, 2021

L’Étoile’s lead investigator Janey McCallister faces her hardest case yet.

On the eve of the hotel space station’s twentieth anniversary celebrations, Janey must discover who robbed the casino’s vault, killed one security guard, and left another badly wounded.

Since the casino has only a day’s worth of cash on hand, she needs to solve the case before the theft creates a mass panic and puts the casino-hotel out of business—and before the criminal strikes again.

During the search for those responsible, Janey and Orlando Valdez, her on-again off-again lover, and undercover cop for the Sol Unified Planets, are kidnapped in mysterious parts of the station.

Not only does Janey have to work together with Valdez to get free, but she’s faced with a terrible choice between saving the life of someone she cares about and protecting the hotel casino guests and staff. Janey must face enemies from within and outside unexpected quarters.

***

Gone Green is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and Killjoys and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough kick ass heroine with secrets.

Kindle Purchase Link

 

 

 Janey McCallister Mystery series
Into The Black (Book 1)
Lured By Light (Book 2)
Gone Green (Book 3) – Coming April 14, 2021
Red Running Deep (Book 4) – Date TBD

 

 

Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mysteries. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

For fun, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books.

Sign up here to be notified about once a month of book news and special events: http://bethb.net/itbnews.

 

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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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Projection by Tabatha Shipley (Book Review)

No one types anything anymore. You simply think it, and it appears on the page. Sharing a memory with friends is as easy as recalling and sending it to a screen. The ubiquitous chip implanted in everyone’s wrist has made interaction with technology seamless and natural, almost making our tech an extension of ourselves. What happens when it goes wrong?

Emma Johnson has enough problems. School, boys, and her firm-yet-aloof dad are enough to keep her on her toes. But everything falls apart when her most embarrassing thoughts and memories start to appear on any device she’s near.

Why is this happening? How can she function in a world of technology when technology seems to be out to get her? Who can she trust? Will she ever be able to find a new sense of normality?

Find out in Tabatha Shipley’s new YA Science Fiction novel, Projection!

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

Present-day, there is an RFID chip that people can get placed somewhere in their hand, under the skin, that allows a person to unlock doors. It’s an ID badge of sorts. No one has created a chip that attaches to the nervous system yet, but Elon Musk’s company NEURALINK is working on a prototype that will allow a scientist to manipulate brain synapses. It’s a highly complicated and comprehensive invention, but Elon doesn’t know the word simple.

I can understand the reasoning behind such a device mentioned above. It will help with motor function difficulties. However, I am not 100% behind a chip that allows a person to control apps with a simple mental command. I’m afraid it will malfunction or have adverse health risks if it needs to be removed. These exact two scenarios were discussed at length in Projection.

I’ll admit, there were some pros and cons to the NFC chip in this book, Projection. Projecting memories from vacations and revisiting class discussions was quite nifty. However, displaying private fantasies or misleading memories has to go on the negative pile.

Every day, there are advances in science and technology. Before long, we could all be chipped at birth. What then? When will this madness stop?

As much as I love the advances of science and technology, sometimes I worry about how far people will push the boundaries to make life ‘easier’ for humankind.

Tabatha Shipley (the author) gave us many reasons why some things should not be invented. I know Emma (character) wishes she never received the implant.

Some things are better in the land of fantasy, and this was a great fantasy read.

With that said, I must point out there were several editing errors. If you can overlook them, and I’m sure you can, you’ll discovery a book with a solid plot, likable characters, and top-notch resolution.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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Tabatha is the author of the Kingdom of Fraun series,Projection, and 30 Days Without Wings. She believes strongly in the power of helping others and is always willing to help out a fellow writer or reader. Find and connect with her on whichever social media platform you love best.

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