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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Northwest of Eden by Yancy Caruthers

REVIEW

Eden ... an imaginary territory we could say. But, according to some studies and research done about writings from the Bible and Mesopotamian legends, this land would be found at the confluence of four rivers, two of which still exist today. It's about the Tigris and Euphrates. Starting from this point, and following the author’s direction in the title, Northwest of Eden, we find a country that many may not have heard or they could not be able to accurately locate on the map 25 years ago: Iraq. An area where the clay is thirsty for blood from ancient times, where it seems that violence has never missed from the picture, despite the fact that it was the cradle of some of the oldest and most impressive civilizations that humanity has known. What is sad is that in the very moments when I write these lines, the peace seems not to find place on that land. But leave aside this introduction that I did just because of the title the author gave to his book and let’s talk about the story itself.

First of all, it is about a true story and not a fictional one, and as much as we want not to be so, war is part of our way of being as a species. Yes, we are evil, violent, vengeful, but you will learn from this novel too that we are not doomed forever. Some of us are kind, compassionate and ready to help his fellow man in need, regardless of ethnic origin, social or gender. Do not hurry to jump to conclusions, it is not an ordinary book about war in which bullets are flying in any direction and the pages will be full of explosions. You will read a book in which not those that are found in the front line will be the heroes, but those that are behind the lines in the rear, women and men who are fighting to save lives not end them. A book in which you will experience with another facet of war in which no technical or military training will matters, but the humanity.

A novel about the human condition that is written by the author as a redemption. You will learn that war does not differentiate between children, old, men or women that the horrors and miseries of war zones not forgive anyone. The author will open a bit the door for you to this ugly world, but in this gloomy atmosphere you will get your moments of relaxation. And the outlet that makes everyone keep their mental health in such conditions is the humor. Of course the humor is a soldierly type one, based more on pranks, but who was in the army knows that military life is not a suitable environment for intellectual jokes. To make a parallel for you with the series M.A.S.H.? Frankly, it would not seem to be a pertinent one to me, just a facile one; you might get an idea of what I want to say to you, and you will be able to create a frame but nothing more. There are other problems, other times, another war, not to mention that Northwest of Eden is a real story and not a television series, albeit even M.A.S.H. has its controversial episodes which are not humorous.

You will surely love to read Yancy Caruthers’ novel not only because of the particular subject, but also because of his simple style, but on the good sense of the word, concise, savory, without complicated and tedious descriptions, with goings-on that are more or less strange, without abusing medical terminology that you might get bored. A book in which you will have the feeling that you stay in the face of the author and listen to him reeling more or less pleasant memories. Without doubt you will be captivated from the beginning to end. 

Happy reading!
About the author:
Yancy Caruthers (1971- )grew up in Alton, MO, and joined the Army Reserves at 17. He became a nurse, and worked in several areas until finding a passion in emergency medicine, which ultimately led to a job with an air ambulance company. He served in Iraq two different times, and retired from the Army as a Captain.

After this experience, he decided to leave the medical profession and pursue other endeavors. He has now lived on three continents, and is hoping to reside on at least three more. He currently lives with his family in Nassau, The Bahamas.


Guest Post and Giveaway: TRUE blue (DeLuca Family, #3) by Susan Rae

Description:

Sometimes we must revisit the past to embrace our future.

Twenty-four years ago, the murder of a Chicago police officer changed Joey DeLuca’s life. He lost his best friend and first love, Meghan McConnell, when her mother whisked her out of town. Now, on the eve of another officer’s death, Meghan is back and about to step into his life again.

There is very little gray in Joey's line of work as a Lt. Detective--it is either black or white, right or wrong. But Meghan’s insistence on finding answers to her father's murder threatens those beliefs and throws his marriage to CPD Detective Andi, his career, and the entire DeLuca family in jeopardy when new revelations come to light.

Can Joey save his marriage, solve the murder, and keep his family together all at the same time?

The third book in the DeLuca Family Series, TRUE blue can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

GUEST POST
Steamy Romantic Suspense—Does It Work With a Married Couple as the Hero and Heroine? 

As my bio states, I love writing romantic suspense. I grew up on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys novels and later moved on to Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Nora Roberts and Mary Higgins Clark, just to name a few of my favorite suspense authors. Add to those my fair share of bodice-ripper reads and I guess it was just natural for me to choose to write in the RS genre where I could combine a passionate love story with a gritty suspense tale. 

However, TRUE blue is not your typical romantic suspense. I had created the characters of Joey and Andi DeLuca in my award winning debut novel, heartbeats. Both are key figures in the investigations in heartbeats and in book two of the DeLuca Family Series, ICE blue. But, the thing is, when I wrote heartbeats, I had no idea it was going to be the beginning of a series. After writing it, though, I realized I had created an entire family of interesting characters that was ripe for the picking. 

In ICE blue, I chose Angela, one of the DeLuca siblings and a Chicago Paramedic as the heroine. For TRUE blue, I really wanted to tell Joey and Andi’s story. However, Joey and Andi are married--to each other. Joey is the oldest of the DeLuca siblings. He followed in his father’s footsteps and is now a Lieutenant Detective on the Chicago Police Department. Andi is a tough hitting detective in her own right. 

But married? Could I write a romantic suspense novel with a married couple as the main characters? Sure, I thought, why not. I like a good challenge. Besides, some of the most memorable sleuths in movies and television are married couples; dare I say Nick and Nora Charles, or “Hart to Hart,” or today’s Castle and Beckett? Oh, right…they’re not married yet, but they soon will be. 

And yes, that’s all well and good for the movies and TV, but a steamy romance novel? Most romance novels end in “I do,” but I thought it would be fun to explore what happens after the “Happily Ever After.” What if we checked in seven years later? Do married couples still have steamy sex? I certainly hope so! I would even venture to suggest that the need to keep the sex fun and exciting is heightened in a marriage versus other relationships because there is more at stake in trying to keep a marriage together. In TRUE blue, I explore how two police officers with very demanding careers and a three-year-old son keep the fire burning in this frenzied, mixed-up world we all live in. Add to that a childhood sweetheart returned to town and a twenty-four year old murder mystery, shake well, and the sparks begin to fly. 

I truly enjoyed writing TRUE blue and telling Joey and Andi’s story. I think you’ll enjoy it too. I believe I’ve packed in plenty of mystery, suspense, and drama in the DeLuca Family to keep you turning the pages. And in case you haven’t read heartbeats or ICE blue yet, don’t fret. All the DeLuca Family Series novels can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels. 

Thank you for spending this time with me. To read more about my writing and my books, please visit me

Until Next Time, 
Happy Reading, 
Susan Rae
About the author:
Susan Rae grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Columbia College, Missouri with an emphasis in creative writing. She penned her first melodrama in fifth grade for a Girl Scout Drama badge. Complete with hero, heroine, and dastardly villain, it wasn’t so different, really, than the romantic suspense she writes now.

“I love writing romantic suspense because it allows me to combine a sexy, passionate love story with a gritty suspense tale—in my opinion, the best of both worlds. It also allows me to express my appreciation for the outdoors in the settings that I recreate on the page.”

Freefall, Susan’s second novel, takes place in Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine Forest and beautiful Door County. ICE blue returns to the busy streets of Chicago and the shores of Lake Michigan to continue the story of the DeLuca family which began in her award winning first novel, heartbeats. InTRUE blue, the third book in the DeLuca Family series, Susan was thrilled when it became apparent that her characters must take a trip to Montana’s majestic Glacier National Park. 

When she is not sketching characters, you might find Susan on the golf course working on her handicap, or traveling around the country seeking out new settings for her novels with her husband and empty nest puppies, Ginger and Nikute. To read more about Susan’s novels and the writing life, please visit her:


Kids Moment: Giveaway: The Cat Who Lost His Meow by Angela Muse

Published: June 1st, 2014
Illustrator: Helen H. Wu  
Recommended Ages: 3+ 

Desciption:

Chester the lazy calico cat has suddenly lost his meow. He’s looking everywhere, but can’t seem to find his voice. When Chester puts himself in a frightening situation he not only finds his voice return, but he also finds his courage. This experience makes Chester appreciate things a little bit more than he had before.

An adorable, rhyming story with lovely illustrations. Chester learns a lesson or two along the way that teaches him that his life as a cat is not so bad after all. Some added facts about calicos is a nice touch and over all a very appealing story for both children and adults who will no doubt enjoy reading with them. - Literary Chanteuse (Goodreads)

About the author:
Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the "new kid" in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. 

In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children's book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children's picture books and released her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2012.


Guest Post and Giveaway: Hideous by Devon McCormack

Description:

Eight years ago, Luke Retter witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and sister at the hands of his demon-possessed father. He survived but lost a hand and an eye. The demon also burned its emblem into his skin, marking him as a cursed. Those who bear this mark are at risk of becoming possessed themselves, so they are monitored and enslaved by the state-run UCIS. Working as a slave is hard, but Luke prefers it to the possibility of being controlled by a demon.

One night, Luke wakes to find his worst nightmare coming true. His father’s demon has returned. In a panic, he runs to the only person who might be able to help: Zack, a cursed who ran away from the state and created an underground community to protect other fugitive curseds. Zack helps him suppress the demon. But the city’s become a time bomb, and Luke’s demon itches to escape.

With the UCIS closing in on Zack’s underground operation and Luke’s demon crafting its own, nefarious plot, Luke realizes that he must take a stand.

Guest Post
Devon McCormack

When I was little, my aunt bought me a hardback copy of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. They aren’t the cute, clean ones we see in Disney movies. They’re dark…twisted…sometimes even a little perverse. I remember being very surprised to read the sadistic punishment that Cinderella and her new hubby had in mind for the evil stepmother. Then there were other stories that I hadn’t seen watered-down versions of in movies and TV shows. “The Little Brother and Sister” was one of my favorites. In this story, a brother and sister escape their abusive stepmother, who is also a witch. The brother ends up being turned into a faun by a magical spring, and a man hunting him turns out to be a prince. The prince meets the sister, they marry, and they all live happily ever after, right? Wrong. The sister marries the prince and has a baby, but the stepmother murders her and has her other, disfigured daughter pose as the queen.

As a kid, that blew my mind. It was insane and unlike the sorts of fairy tales I’d previously been exposed to. But another story fascinated me even more. It was called “The Handless Maiden.” In this story, a demon talks a miller into cutting off his daughter’s hands. She ends up alone and wandering through the wilderness, where she runs into her Prince Charming. Again, this is not a happily ever after moment. Rather, after she gives birth to their child, her husband goes off to war. Meanwhile, the demon intercepts letters between the husband and his mother, trying to convince the mother to kill the queen and the baby. Ah! They end up having to flee the castle, and the king has to set out into the wilderness to find them. Of all the fairy tales, this one fascinated me the most, because it was one of the few that represented a physically flawed princess.

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to do a modernized retelling of “The Handless Maiden.” I liked the idea of a physically imperfect character—one that had to survive despite their handicap. I created the character of Luke in Hideous, who only has one eye and one hand, injuries he sustained when his father was possessed by a demon. I also wanted demons to exist in this story the way they exist in fairy tales. In “The Handless Maiden,” demons aren’t discussed as some bizarre anomaly, but rather something that is a known and common threat in the world. In Hideous, demons are a rampant problem in the world. They’re almost viewed as an epidemic. Those who are possessed are even referred to as “infected.”

Hideous tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy trying to survive this sort of world. Not only does he have his physical handicap, but he also was scarred with a mark from his demon. Those who bear this mark are referred to as “cursed,” and they are more likely to be possessed than most. However, monitoring curseds discourages demons from possessing them, so the government enslaves curseds and forces them to work in low paying jobs. Luke has worked for the state since he was eight, and now he works at an all-boys high school, where he has to watch all the other kids enjoying life, going about as if there isn’t this global demonic threat. Luke just wants to blend in. He plays by the rules, because he doesn’t want to end up in jail, which is where noncompliant curseds are likely to end up. His desperate attempt to follow the rules falls apart when the demon that possessed his father returns to possess him...

This is the story behind my new young adult novel, available through Harmony Ink Press. If you get a chance, head over to Amazon or my publisher’s site and pick up your copy today.

Thanks for having me on the blog today!

About the author:
Devon McCormack spends most of his time hiding in his lair, adventuring in paranormal worlds with his island of misfit characters. A good ole Southern boy, McCormack grew up in the Georgian suburbs with his two younger brothers and an older sister. At a very young age, he spun tales the old fashioned way, lying to anyone and everyone he encountered. He claimed he was an orphan. He claimed to be a king from another planet. He claimed to have supernatural powers. He has since harnessed this penchant for tall tales by crafting whole worlds where he can live out whatever fantasy he chooses.

A gay man himself, McCormack focuses on gay male characters, adding to the immense body of literature that chooses to represent and advocate gay men's presence in media. His body of work ranges from erotica to young adult, so readers should check the synopses of his books before purchasing so that they know what they're getting into.



Happy Release Day! Giveaway: Mosaic (Dragonfly #4) by Leigh Talbert Moore

Release Date: June 2014
Cover designed by Christi Curtis

Description:

The future never goes as planned.
People are never what they seem.
Time changes everything.

So you want to know what happened to Anna and Julian? Well, listen up, because I’ve got the whole scoop. I’m Jules, btw, and I am an artist, as you already know if you’ve read Watercolor. What you might not know is I inherited my mother’s cute little newsy nose, thank you very much.

It’s high school reunion time, and everyone’s coming back to Fairview—everyone who’s not already there, mind you. What went wrong, who’s fault it was, and why the heck nobody knew about me… it’s all coming out.

Long-distance relationships rarely last, and a lot of water has passed under that bridge. Big Secrets will be exposed, and in the end we’ll know if that old saying is true: Love is stronger than time.

Dragon Fly (book#1) is FREE
About the author:
Leigh Talbert Moore wrote her first graphic novel at the age of nine--about a lady scientist burned by acid. Sadly, the text of "Fury Woman" was lost, and Leigh's novelist aspirations went on hiatus.

Then, after a decade working in journalism, editing, marketing, and public relations, she began writing books again, and in 2009 completed Dragonfly. Today, Leigh is the author of several popular young adult and new adult novels, all with a strong romantic slant.

She lives with her husband and two young children in the middle of the country, where she conjures new worlds, characters, and situations while playing chauffeur, chaperone, group activity leader, and referee.

And she's still trying to remember the plot of Fury Woman...

Author's Giveaway
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Excerpt and Giveaway: Chrysoprase (Chalcedony Chronicles #2) by B. Kristin McMichael

Description:

Mari’s return to the present was not exactly what she expected. As the goddess predicted, there are always consequences to going into the past. Now, with the help of her friend Ty, Mari must find a way to get her loved ones back. Unfortunately, it may require the assistance of an ex-boyfriend whom she never wished to see again. He just might be the key to learn how to time travel on her own, or he might have another motive. Mari is left to decide, can he be trusted to help?

Everyone has a past, but for most it isn’t as long ago as Seth Sangre. His past is literally thousands of years ago. Seth’s life led him to the present seeking something that might help him save his country from destruction. He has been in the present for over three years now and just found exactly what he has been looking for.

Mari had dreams that college will be a fresh start, one where she would start over and not fall for the good looking player like high school. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what ends up falling into her lap on the first day she moves into the dorms. Now she has to hold to her promise to herself and not fall for the handsome Seth. But he doesn’t plan to make it easy for her. Seth has already marked her as his next conquest. As the semester progresses, Mari learns that Seth might just have a life of his own that’s actually from the past. Suddenly Mari finds her future along with her past put into question. She’s connected to Seth far more than she ever wanted to be and maybe the player isn’t who she thought he was. If Mari can trust her heart enough to follow him, Seth will lead Mari on an adventure of a lifetime and reveal family secrets she never knew existed.

EXCERPT



And new mysteries to be solved:

I was going to do it right this time. I pictured the Jones house library, and the book that called to me at the party over Thanksgiving. By the time I finished thinking of the book we were there, standing in front of it. Ty took a breath and moved a few feet away from me.

“I’ve never done that more than a once in a day. That was a bit weird,” Ty commented, shaking out the hand that had been touching the stone.

I nodded and looked down at the book with the ancient text. I still felt a hum coming off the book. I wanted to touch it and see if the pages were humming like I felt they would be. I peered into the box and looked at the weird lines. It was nothing I could understand. I looked up and around the room. Logan wasn’t there. I really wanted to touch the book.

“What is it?” Ty asked, stepping behind me and looking over my shoulder.

“I don’t know. Something about the book makes me feel like I should touch it. Like if I touched it I would know the secret it’s trying to tell me,” I explained. “Gosh, that sounds weird,” I added as I turned around.

“Weird? Yes. But I’ve seen a lot of weird things happen since we first found these stones,” Ty said, holding his up. The glow I normally saw off the stone was gone. I looked down to my arm. The lines were faded around the edges. We were going to have to wait until the power returned, or for Logan.

I looked up at Ty. I really wanted to see why I should touch the book. Ty nodded to me. It didn’t matter how weird it was, I was going to try. I looked around the room one more time. Ty stayed right behind me, he was so big that if anyone was in the room they would be blocked from actually seeing me while I touched the book. It felt like I was stealing, or doing something wrong. These texts were old and priceless. Oils from your hands could damage the paper, but I still had to know. The longer I stood there, the more the book pulled at me. I lifted the glass case only enough to get a finger in to touch the text. I slid my finger in and felt the shock as I touched it. I quickly pulled my hand out in surprise.

I turned back to Ty to tell him what happened when the shimmer of Logan traveling into the room caught my eye.




About the author:
Originally from Wisconsin, B. Kristin currently resides in Ohio with her husband, two small children, and three cats. When not doing the mom thing of chasing kids, baking cookies, and playing outside, she is using her PhD in biology as a scientist. In her free time she is currently hard at work on multiple novels. Every day is a new writing adventure. She is a fan of all YA/NA fantasy and science fiction.


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Happy Release Day! Giveaway: Primordial Dust by Sarah Daltry

Description:

A princess, trained to behave. 

An assassin, betrothed to her. 

A thief, whose eyes she dreams of at night. 

A kingdom at war, torn apart by the suppression of magic and truth, as well as family secrets that threaten to destroy decades of peace.

Questions of loyalty, of morality, and of free will culminate in a fantasy novel about forging one’s own path and choosing one’s own destiny.

About the author:
Sarah Daltry writes about the regular people who populate our lives. She’s written works in various genres – romance, erotica, fantasy, horror. Genre isn’t as important as telling a story about people and how their lives unfold. Sarah tends to focus on YA/NA characters but she’s been known to shake it up. Most of her stories are about relationships – romantic, familial, friendly – because love and empathy are the foundation of life. It doesn’t matter if the story is set in contemporary NY, historical Britain, or a fantasy world in the future – human beings are most interesting in the ways they interact with others. This is the principle behind all of Sarah’s stories.

Sarah has spent most of her life in school, from her BA and MA in English and writing to teaching both at the high school and college level. She also loves studying art history and really anything because learning is fun.

When Sarah isn’t writing, she tends to waste a lot of time checking Facebook for pictures of cats, shooting virtual zombies, and simply staring out the window.


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Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Descend (Awakened Fate #2) by Skye Malone

Release Date: August 4th, 2014
Cover Designer: Karri Klawiter (www.artbykarri.com)

Description:

Chloe always dreamed of visiting the ocean, and now the ocean is the only place she has left to go. Trapped in the form of a mermaid and on the run from the Sylphaen, her best chance for safety lies in traveling with Zeke to his underwater home and staying under his protection there.

Leaving isn’t easy, however. Her best friend doesn’t know where she’s gone, and her family doesn’t either. She’s been forced to abandon Noah, the boy she’s liked for years and who she’s just discovered likes her too. She only hopes Zeke’s people will help her so she can return soon.

But when conspiracies follow her and people start to die, safety becomes harder to find than ever. The Sylphaen are coming. They’re more powerful than she could have imagined.

And they’re not through with Chloe yet.

Running away from home was never Chloe Kowalski's plan. Neither was ending up the target of killers, or having her body change in unusual ways. She only wanted a vacation, someplace far from her crazy parents and their irrational fear of water. She only wanted to do somethingnormal for once, and maybe get to know her best friend's hot stepbrother a bit better at the same time.

But the first day she goes out on the ocean, strange things start to happen. Dangerous things that should be impossible. Things to which 'normal' doesn't even begin to apply. 

Now madmen are hunting her. A mysterious guy with glowing blue eyes is following her. And her best friend's stepbrother seems to be hiding secrets all his own. 

It was supposed to be a vacation. It's turning out to be a whole lot more.

Book #1 is 99¢ for a limited time!
About the author:
Skye Malone is a fantasy and paranormal romance author, which means she spends most of her time not-quite-convinced that the things she imagines couldn't actually exist.

Born and raised in central Illinois, she hopes someday to travel the world – though in the meantime she’ll take any story that whisks her off to a place where the fantastic lives inside the everyday. She loves strong and passionate characters, complex villains, and satisfying endings that stay with you long after the book is done. An inveterate writer, she can’t go a day without getting her hands on a keyboard, and can usually be found typing away while she listens to all the adventures unfolding in her head.

Skye also writes YA urban fantasy as Megan Joel Peterson and is the author of The Children and the Blood trilogy.

Happy Release Day! Crazy Dreams by Dawn Pendleton

Description:

Stone Tucker has big dreams. Someday, he wants to be on a country radio station. Flash forward to reality, and Stone isn’t any closer to his dream than he was months ago when he left his high school sweetheart and hometown in Pennsylvania to move to Nashville. Every one back home thinks he’s going to fail, and unfortunately, Stone has started to believe it, too.

Enter Ember Daniels.

Ember lost her dad years ago in a car accident, and more recently, her older sister to leukemia. She’s had her fair share and then some of heartbreak and needs to get away from the modeling life her mother has been pushing on her. A summer trip to Nashville is just what she needs to find herself. She isn’t prepared for Stone, with his hot body and overall indifferent attitude toward her.

One night can change everything, and with seemingly endless summer nights, Ember and Stone both discover exactly what they’re looking for.

AVAILABLE NOW AND FOR ONLY $.99!!

About the author:

Dawn Pendleton spends her time between Maine and somewhere warm for the winter, dragging her husband and pup wherever she goes. A lover of travel, an avid reader, and a softie at heart, Dawn writes romance novels that face the dark reality of life, which is that not everyone gets a happily ever after right away.

Want to meet Dawn? Check out the list of Events she will be attending!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grizzly (The Realm #1) by Bonnie Bliss

Published: June 15th, 2014 

Description: 18+

One Alpha shape-shifting bear.
Plus one geeky computer girl.
Equals an explosive mated pairing.

Living her life as a reclusive computer programmer, Sorscha never expected much out of life. That was until the man who had not only ignored her for her whole life—but was hired as her bodyguard—suddenly shifts into a huge, hulking—bear.

Watching over Sorscha has been a pain, right in Tethur’s big, fat—well , you get the point. Suddenly Sorscha’s life is threatened, their deep mutual sexual attraction is exposed, and Tethur reveals he’s a shape-shifting hunk from a world right out of one of Sorscha’s favorite movies.

The unlikely pair are thrust into a world of fantasy, sexual hunger, and mysterious powers. Join Sorscha as she discovers that she is not quite the nobody she thought she was, and after years of trying to get in the Grumpy ole’ bear’s pants—she is going to have to start ‘trying’ to keep him out of hers.

EXCERPT



Tethur didn’t look like a bear now, although his eyes had that deep glowing hue to them. The heat of rage radiated off him.

“Do you have any fucking idea what I thought when I went to our room and saw not only the lock shattered, but you missing?” he snarled at her.

His voice and aggression was so fierce his hot breath fluttered her hair around her face. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she stormed around him.

“You can’t just lock me up like a doll, Tethur. You spent my whole life caging me, I realized today. No more. I have powers, I’m strong. I can do stuff on my own, you know,” she fired back.

“I can lock you anywhere I wish. That is my right as your guardian and mate,” he roared.

His huge arm locked around her upper arms and she was spun around. A squeal leaked from her lips as she was pinned against the wall. She heard the ice splinter.

A sharp whistle sounded, and she looked over at Cassandra just before Tethur’s large bicep blocked her path. He caged her in with both his huge, bulging arms. Arousal consumed her.

Hmm, who would have thought?

Sorscha’s chest rose and fell, her heartbeat kicked up a notch and she met his fierce, predatory gaze with her own look of defiance.

“Dear Goddess, thank you for gifting me with a horny elf and not a bear.” Cassandra tossed the couple a wink and disappeared back outside.

“No, wait…” Sorscha protested.

The deep rumble that came from Tethur’s chest drew her gaze back to him.

“You’re being unreasonable,” she whispered.

Tethur leaned in closer. His nose brushed against hers. The hair that covered his cheek and jaw brushed over the tender flesh of her cheek, and she shivered.

“Unreasonable? So that is what you call keeping you alive?” he rumbled.

“I call caging me unreasonable,” she whispered.

Turning her head to the side, feeling the hot breath spilling over her cheek, she squealed and ducked out from under him. Trying to run, she heard the roar and the sound of rending fabric, and froze.

He had shifted.

Sorscha’s eyelids fluttered shut and she braced for impact. Tethur was shockingly gentle with how, as a bear, he threw her over his shoulder and moved up the stairs with the grace of any animal in the wild. He dropped her to her feet at the foot of the bed. Before her eyes he shifted. His fur slid back into his skin, his muzzle melted into the handsome man she had known her whole life. Those glowing eyes gazed at her as if she were a feast laid out just for him. But it wasn’t just his face, oh no, she could see him all, [...]. Her mouth went dry and she fought to drag her eyes back up to his.

They were both breathing hard. They looked at one another, and Tethur’s steps ate up the space between them.

“Strip,” he growled.

She could feel her eyes go wide. Her words gone, lost, as he looked down at her, his gaze burning through her clothes. She took a step back and he matched it, keeping his bare chest pressed against her.

“No!” she said with much more fire than she felt.

“Yes, but you will,” he rumbled back at her.

The confidence in his voice shattered her independence. She would not give into him, she couldn’t. Tethur would understand that she was equal to him.

“Little bird,” he warned. “If you don’t do it, then I will, and I’m not in control.”

Sorscha shook her head, attempting to clear her thoughts. It was hard when every nerve ending responded to him. His voice, his scent, his breath, dear God, she was drawn to him like a moth to a flame and her body fucking burned for him.

Moving back, feeling as if he had left her with no escape, her next words were stuttered out again.

“Look, just because I was swoony over you in high school doesn’t mean I will let you, just, well…” she paused.

Should I say fuck me? Because I kind of want him to fuck me.

“So you call smelling like heaven and honey twenty-four seven, and pushing every button I have day and night…swoony?” he growled.

She gulped as he prowled closer and she retreated. The chase, small as it was, excited her. Feeling her body get warm as sweat beaded onto her flesh, the cool air brushed against her and she realized they were outside, on the balcony.

Trapped like a…bird.

About the authors:
Bonnie Bliss is the brainchild of two authors. Bonnie is a husband and wife duo who have come together to weave stories of passion, action, betrayal, and ultimate surrender. They have discovered that mixing genres is their thing. Their tastes go dark, and they love to twist up sweet stories and make them a bit more tense and sexy. Bonnie writes in multiple genres with plans to dabble into more areas of fiction.

One is a Southern California native, the other was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. The husband spends his time giving the wife alpha males with bite. He is a man that needs to see his world in print. He has a panty melting accent, loves listening to music, watching Game of Thrones, and obsessing over Heisenberg. The wife spends her time writing strong women that evolve into their power, they don't just come out guns blazing. She claims the song California Girls, by Katy Perry is totally accurate. She's done everything from waitressing, customer service phone rep., Corporate Real Estate, and spent a pretty impressive part of her life working for the Disney Corporation--before finding her way into the publishing world with her husband.


Excerpt and Giveaway: Captured (Fallen Siren 0.5) by S.J. Harper

Description:

Join FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.
She’s a Siren. He’s a Werewolf. 
Their mission is redemption.

Emma Monroe is a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now she works for the FBI and is on temporary assignment in Charleston. Solving this next missing persons case could be the key to ending her ancient curse—unless the temptation that’s her new partner gets in the way.

Zack Armstrong is a Werewolf. Tall, dark, and dangerous, he currently works for one of the bureau’s elite Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams. In many respects the man is every bit as mysterious as his secret and perilous past. But there are two things he’s certain about, that he’s going to get his man and his woman.

When Zack finds himself suddenly shy a partner and a third child goes missing in Charleston, Emma goes from consultant to CARD team member in the space of a few hours. The abductions of the first two boys ended in murder, an outcome that neither Zack nor Emma can abide. As they race against time to track down the kidnapper and rescue the latest victim, they find themselves fighting something just as treacherous—a growing attraction that can’t be ignored or denied.

Book 1 
Meet FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.
 
She's cursed. He's damned. 
Together, they make one hell of a team.

 

Emma Monroe is a Siren, cursed by the gods and bound to earth to atone for an ancient failure. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now that she works missing persons cases for the FBI, it could be just a rescue away. Unless her new partner leads her astray.

 

Special Agent Zack Armstrong just transferred into the San Diego Field Office. He’s a werewolf, doing his best to beat back the demons from his dark and dangerous past. As a former Black Ops sniper, he’s taken enough lives. Now he’s doing penance by saving them. 

Emma and Zack’s very first case draws them deep into the realm of the paranormal, and forces them to use their own supernatural abilities. But that leaves each of them vulnerable, and there are lines partners should not cross. As secrets are revealed and more women go missing, one thing becomes clear: as they race to save the victims, Emma and Zack risk losing themselves.

Book#2 - October 2014
Join Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.
She’s sacrificed. He’s suffered. They’ve both been betrayed. 
Now it’s time for a reckoning.

Special Agent Emma Monroe has a secret. She’s a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. As an FBI agent she saves the lives of others believing redemption could be one rescue away.

Her partner Zack is a werewolf and former Black Ops sniper who once carried out a string of questionable assignments. Now he’s determined to atone for his past. Ironically, there’s a portion of his past Zack doesn’t remember—an affair with Emma. Giving into their attraction for one another almost led to their undoing. Now it’s back to business as usual.

While trying to unravel the mystery behind a series of kidnappings in Southern California, Emma and Zack become entangled with political tensions in the vampire and Were worlds. Not to mention the struggles they face in their relationship with one another. With so much uncertainty, they come to realize the only thing they can really count on is one another…or can they?

EXCERPT


Since we haven’t heard from either Taft or Biller, I have to assume there still hasn’t been a ransom demand in the Anderson case either. So what is going on in this kidnapper’s head? What’s the motivation? He kept the first boy one month, the second, two weeks. The length of time between crimes is also shortening. There’s been no evidence of sexual assault in either case. We’re running out of time. Is the kidnapper losing patience, becoming more desperate? Why? There’s obviously a need he’s trying to meet, a need these boys are not satisfying.

Or maybe his motivation is changing. Perhaps there was some specific expectation, or should I say explanation, for taking Andy Boroson—assuming Andy really was the first. And now he’s simply losing interest in keeping the boys longer because it’s the rush of the abduction, the thrill of the kill that’s driving him.

I shudder.

It’s a truly frightening prospect. If that’s the case, we could be in for a long haul.

And more victims.

Zack turns off the road and into a parking space along a block of quaint, brick-faced shops. I follow him out of the SUV and into an eatery. The sign out front says Cannon. It’s only eleven thirty so we have our choice of booths lining the sides of the small restaurant.

Zack chooses the one farthest from the long, scarred wooden bar already bustling with patrons. A smiling, busty waitress hands us menus and in that distinctive Southern way, tells us, “Just wave a hand, handsome, when you’re ready to order. I’m Gwen.”

That, of course, was directed at Zack. He doesn’t seem to notice the obvious flirtation, or maybe he’s just pretending he didn’t notice for my benefit.

“I bet you get that a lot, huh handsome?”

Zack eyes are on his menu. “Didn’t figure you for the jealous type.”

“Jealous?”

He doesn’t bother to look up. “I understand. It’s probably difficult having to watch me share a moment with Gwen when what you really want it to have me all to yourself. I wouldn’t mind dividing my time. Just say the word. There’s plenty to go around.”

I let a beat pass. Then another.

His eyes lift to meet mine.

I drop the menu on the table and lean forward. “I should warn you,” I tell him, my gaze steady, the tone of my voice low and laced with something just this side of wicked. “If I were to ever say the word, there would be no dividing of your time. You’d have neither the energy nor the inclination.”

A slow smile forms. “Are we flirting?”

“I don’t flirt.”

“’Cause that felt a lot like flirting.”

*****************************
Upon waking I’m faced with the realization that a six-foot-plus werewolf is spooned up against me. His body is flush to mine. Head buried in my hair. Arm draped over my waist. Hand clasping my breast.

If the funny business happens while both parties are unconscious, does it still count as funny business?

Yikes. Was I so out of it that I actually invited Zack to sleep in my bed when there was a perfectly good couch in the room?

I lift my head off the pillow just enough to check the bedside clock red numbers flash, all zeros. The cable box next to the television seems to accurately display the time four fifty. Our wake-up call will be coming in ten short minutes. A wave of fatigue washes over me…along with memories of the last few days. I need another twelve hours sleep. No wonder my thinking was muddled. I move to slip out of bed when Zack stirs.

“Shit!” His hand moves off me so fast, you might have thought he’d been burned. He quickly puts distance between us. “Sorry.”

I roll over to face him. “It’s okay.”

“Really?” He places his hand on my hip. Gives it a gentle squeeze.

I gently remove it. “Not so fast, hotdog. Can’t help what you did when we were asleep. But we’re awake now. And we’re meeting with the committee in just over an hour. We need to get ready. And sex between you and me? Not a good idea.”

Zack sits up and reaches for the bedside lamp. Click.

The room is flooded with light.

He looks back at me over his shoulder. “I guess I’m going to have to agree to disagree with you on that point, Agent Monroe. I should probably confess, I’ve given the matter a great deal of thought and happen to believe sex between you and me is a fine idea.” He snatches the key card from the top of the nightstand and climbs to his feet. “You still up for dinner when we’re through? We can both pretend I didn’t feel you up. Wouldn’t want the evening to be awkward.”

I shrug. “Girl’s got to eat.”



About the authors:
S. J. Harper is the pen name for the writing team of Samantha Sommersby and Jeanne C. Stein, two friends who met at Comic- Con in San Diego and quickly bonded over a mutual love of good wine, edgy urban fantasy, and everything Joss Whedon.

Samantha Sommersby left what she used to call her “real- life” day job in the psychiatric !eld to pursue writing full- time in 2007. She is the author of more than ten novels and novellas including the critically acclaimed Forbidden series. She currently lives with her husband and terrier pup, Olive, in a century- old Southern California Craftsman. Sam happily spends her days immersed in a world where vampires, werewolves, and demons are real, myths, and legends are revered, magic is possible, and love still conquers all.

Jeanne Stein is the national bestselling author of The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles. She also has numerous short story credits, including most recently the novella Blood Debt from the New York Times bestselling anthology Hexed. Her series has been picked up in three foreign countries and her short stories published in collections here in the U.S. and the U.K. She lives in Denver, Colorado, where she !nds gardening a challenge more daunting than navigating the world of mythical creatures.


Excerpt from Love After Dark - Special Offer

Release Date: June 25th, 2014

Description:

Love After Dark features nine bestselling authors who create worlds and love within them.

Not only will you find love between the pages but new content relating to their fabulous series!

This bundle will include:
Brina Courtney, Ella James, Melissa Andrea, A.O Peart, Alivia Anders, Heather Hildenbrand, Julia Crane, Melissa Pearl and Beth Shelby


Reveal by Brina Courtney ( Ignite Novella included )

Shay could be the key to ending a war that humans don't know exist. Of a race of beings that aren't real, or are they?
Shay Tafford's childhood has been fatherless, filled instead with memories of speaking to the dead. She is forced to hide her unique ability from those living around her. That's why it's been comforting to have Jeremy, a child ghost, as her confidante. But recently he's been absent, perhaps lost as her father is. When Shay meets Hugh, the guy she's had a crush on for weeks, and finds he can speak to ghosts too she's just starting to find a normalcy in her life.

But as Hugh reveals the truth to Shay, about who she really is and about what it is she can do, he erases all chances she had at a normal existence. Turns out talking to ghosts is just scratching the surface of her genetically engineered gifts. Shay learns she may be part of an age old prophecy that could save the entire race of cryptids. But can she?


Here by Ella James

Milo Mitchell's life used to be charmed, but that was before her family dissolved, she went a little crazy, and her best friends started acting more like strangers. Spending Saturday morning in a treehouse with a stun gun for company and a herd of deer for friends is the only exciting thing in her life...until she shoots a fawn and finds her dart stuck in a guy.

Her gorgeous victim is dressed in a Brioni tux and armed with a hanky. He has no idea who or where he is. Afraid her dart caused his amnesia, Milo takes him in, names him Nick, and vows to help him solve his mystery. Soon the pair find Nick's face in a newspaper obituary, and Nick beings to have strange, ethereal memories of Milo--who is sure she's never met him. Suddenly Nick knows things he shouldn't know and is doing things he shouldn't do. When the Department of Defense shows up, Nick and Milo run--toward a shocking conclusion that could destroy both their worlds.


Illumine by Alivia Anders

For the past five months Essallie Hanley has been trying to forget about the frightening murder of her boyfriend. Haunted by vivid nightmares and hallucinations of the event she does anything she can to pretend she's like every other normal girl in High School.

Only Essallie is far from normal. Able to conjure blue fire and a shimmering silhouette of wings from her body, she seeks the only known solace left to her name; her first home in Belfast, Maine.

But she soon realizes that her return home is only the beginning of a long and twisted road taking her as far from her humanity as possible, with Kayden, the demon originally summoned to slaughter her, leading the way. Unable to touch her but oddly curious, he joins Essallie in her search to find out just what she is. But neither of them were prepared for the secrets they've begun to unravel, secrets that will change Essallie and everyone around her forever.


Flutter by Melissa Andrea

Sara
Sara's life is forever changed -
Waking up, buried & hidden deeply in the last place anyone would want to be, will do that. She is determined to find out how she ended up there & why, but when the only person who can help her, continuously lies to her, she finds herself forced to suffer alone. She can't ignore the strange things that begin to happen to her nor can she hide from the nightmares that haunt her sleep. And when her world collides with Adan - the mysterious boy whom she can't seem to stay away from, literally - she is consumed by the familiar flutter that sparks whenever he is around and she is desperate to discover the reason why.
But the biggest discovery will come from the secret of what she is…

Adan
Adan’s mission to find Sara has finally approached -
It seemed simple: bring her back to the enchanted world that lives, breathes and survives because of her, but he quickly finds himself faced with an entirely new challenge. Immediately, Adan realizes that staying unknown to Sara is a task he will fail before even attempting. The pull to her is far too strong to refuse, and being with her will defy the very reason he existed. He was the key to her survival and loving her was not part of the plan that he had been born to follow. Can he find it in himself too resist the urge to be with her and follow through with their destiny or will he destroy everything that had been left to Sara to protect and defend -
And the kingdom she is unaware she rules…

Flutter
As Sara and Adan struggle to overcome their own separate battles -
There is a far more determined evil that is stalking the shadows and waiting to annihilate them both.
Sara will figure out that not everything is what it seems and knowing what she can and can not trust will be the key to finding out the truth to what happened to her, the reason why she had been buried alive and who she really is…
Sara and Adan will discover the hidden meaning to why she was the reason he existed and why he would be the reason she survived & together they will fight to change the rules and rewrite their fate.


Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand

I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up.

Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And Two, I was born to kill them.


Anna by Julia Crane - Spin off of The Keegan Chronicles

Follow Anna from Keegan's Chronicles on her own adventure!

Seventeen-year-old Anna is an unskilled, natural witch still seeking a way to access her magick. When she moves to Seattle for college, she encounters two powerful witches who need her as much as she needs them. For the first time, Anna believes she's found someone who can help her explore her own magick.

Her dream quickly turns into a nightmare.

Creatures of the Light have gone missing, and the witches she admires so well are a part of the mystery.

Before she knows it, Anna is knee deep in the disappearances and trying to forge a relationship with a certain soldier named Tommy, all while trying to find her way. Will she have time to save the creatures of the light or will she become the next victim?


Forged by Greed by A.O. Pert

Two Seattle 16-year-olds, Jatred and Jasmira, are not your typical star-crossed lovers. They are not even your typical Shape Shifters. Sure, they try to live an ordinary life. At least, as ordinary as the Prince and the Princess of the rivaling ancient Races--the Winter wolves and the Summer leopards--can live. But eventually they learn that not much about their existence can be normal. Especially when the Races' two commanding Goddesses are involved.

One of the Goddesses is on a quest to tilt the scale of power to her side. The other will never let it happen, even if it means kicking Jatred and Jasmira's love to the curb. Nothing is off limits, including removing Jatred's memories of Jasmira.

To complicate things even more, there are the Universe's powers to consider. They are trapped in an ancient Amulet in order to protect the stability of the world. But the Universe has a mind of its own, and when the powers are unleashed, the forces of nature are disturbed; earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions shake the Earth. All Shifters of both Races are summoned by their respective Goddesses to fight in the name of, or against, the normalcy of the world.


Set In Stone by Anna Cruise

Fifteen year-old Valerie is used to losing things–she lost her dad to his job ages ago and her best friend moved with no warning...and hasn't been heard from since. During a weekend camping trip with her emotionally distant parents, she stumbles upon a hidden, mysterious stone and she finds herself desperate to keep it, to possess it. Two strange and beautiful boys have other plans, however. They follow her home–Leo, warm and seductive, who covets the stone and will stop at nothing to get it; and Noel, dark-haired and wise, who pledges to protect her and keep her safe.

As she delves deeper into the magic of the stone and the Celtic lore that surrounds it, Valerie realizes that she's losing. Again. But this loss might involve more than a magical stone – this time, she just might lose her heart.


Golden Blood by Melissa Pearl

Gemma Hart never knows when her father is going to whisk her back in time. Her toes start tingling and she has a few minutes to find a secret haven where she can disintegrate and appear in another time and place. While “across the line,” her training and skills are put to the test as she completes a mission that will change history for the lucky few her father has selected.

Gemma's parents are adamant that secrecy is paramount to her family’s safety. If people knew what they were capable of, they could be "used and abused", as her mother always says. Afraid she might accidentally utter the truth and break the ancient oath of her people, Gemma spends her school days as a loner. Only one thing can throw her sheltered life askew... Harrison Granger.

Harrison never expected to talk to the strange Hart girl, but after a brief encounter he can't stop thinking about her. He begins a campaign to chisel away her icy veneer and is met with unexpected consequences. As he slowly wins this girl over, he enters a surreal world that has him fighting to keep his newfound love and his life.

Website ** Goodreads ** Facebook ** Twitter


EXCERPTs




1.Reveal by Brina Courtney

Lastly there was the firefighter. He was hot, no pun intended. But when my mom found out he was in a firefighter calendar called Hold the Hose, she stopped taking his calls. I, on the other hand, purchased the calendar immediately. Mr. October is still hiding under my mattress. Yum, yum.

Sometimes I miss my dad and I know my mom does too. Some nights I sit on one of the Adirondack chairs on the wraparound porch with my coffee and look at the stars. When she joins me, I know we’re both thinking the same thing, where is he?

My dad disappeared when I was six. Chad was just a toddler at the time so he doesn’t remember anything. To be honest, I don’t remember much either, just my dad not coming home from work one summer night. I remember it was summer because I had been swimming all day, without floaties, and Mom said I could wait up to tell Dad about it. That’s the night I started talking to ghosts and I have ever since.

2. Here by Ella James

I knew I was being evasive, but what could I tell her? I had no access to whatever part of me knew whatever there was to know. I could feel things going on behind the scenes—Like knees and elbows poking through a stage sheet as the company changed set—but it was all vague, unreachable…

Until the rock. I’d felt…like someone else. Something else, because I wasn’t anyone. Somewhere else, but not any place I could understand.

And whoever or whatever I had been, I knew Milo. Not only did I know her… I had some kind of weird… thing for her.

Even now standing in the grass by her house, I could feel the power of the memory. And I could almost remember something else. A cold purpose, lurking somewhere behind it.





3. Elfin by Quinn Loftis

Lorsan stood and began to pace. “We need to move things forward. If Tamsin is dealing with

your human,”

“—Chosen,” Trik growled. “My Chosen.”

Lorsan waved him off. “Yes, yes, your Chosen, then. If he is dealing with that little issue, then he

won’t have had to time to move forward with the land purchase, which means that we should have

time to contact Leon and tell him to get it done.”

Leon was the human realtor that the dark elves had hired to help them find the land. Trik didn’t

care for the sleazy little man, but it wasn’t up to him who Lorsan employed.

“I’ll go see him.” Trik stood to go.

“What are you going to do about your Chosen?” Lorsan asked.

“You aren’t going to tell me what to do?” Trik raised his eyebrows at his King.

“Would you obey me?”

Trik’s face spread into a callous smile. “Not when it comes to her.”

Lorsan rolled his eyes. “Not when it comes to anything is what you really mean. Do what you

must, but at some point you will have to tell her who and what you are. Will she be able to handle it,

I wonder?”

Trik shook his head with a low chuckle, “I’m the assassin and spy for the Dark Elf King. I kill

without remorse. I live for myself and my own pleasure. I come from a dark people with dark hearts.

What do you think?”



4. Illumine by Alivia Anders

The nerves returned once more, and I shifted in my shoes, uncomfortable. “You do know what you’re doing, right?”

“Of course,” he said, sounding assured. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“I’ve never seen anything like this. What if we accidentally open up a portal to Hell, or summon a demon, or curse me with boils for life?”

Chase laughed. “Relax. I read about this in a book I picked up from a little Wiccan shop outside the city. You won’t come out with boils on your face.” He came to a stop near the end of the circle, leaving a small patch free of salt. He set the bag down and stepped into the circle with me. Gently he took one of my hands, and I watched as he pressed a kiss to the palm. “You’re going to be just fine.”

“We’re going to be just fine,” I corrected him, smiling nervously. “After all, this is happening to both of us, right?”

He nodded, rubbing my palm with his thumb in slow, lazy circles. “More or less, yes.”

I started to ask what he meant when I felt the pain pulse in my palm. Immediately I yanked my hand back from his and cried out. “What the hell, Chase?” I looked at my hand, stunned to see a bubble of blood that began to run along my wrist like a ribbon. It was then I noticed the small, silver dagger in Chase’s hand, the blade tip coated in blood. My blood.

My head began to spin, and I swayed in my spot. Chase backed away with remarkable speed, and by the time I found focus, the circle had been closed in completely.

“Chase,” I said, hearing the weakness in my voice. “You’re scaring me.”

His eyes had turned to the small bowl of water in front of the circle, where he dipped the blade tip into until the water turned a light shade of pink. “Sorry, love. I should have said it might hurt a little bit.” He glanced up at me as he crouched before the water dish, and in the candlelight he looked possessed. “You know what they say. The best things in life come with a little pain.”

“Who the hell said that?” I challenged back, shaking. I started to move toward the edge of the circle, keeping pressure on my hand. The blood had started to run over my fingers, the sticky liquid nauseating. “This is sick, you know that? I’m not doing this, I take it back. I don’t want to bond with you.”

A figure stepped out from the shadow, all glitter and beauty. Her voice was charming, even when she was cruel. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Cassie?” I practically cried. “Oh my gosh, Cassie, go get the hotel staff, call for the police! Chase is out of his mind over here—” I paused, repeating her words in my head. “Wait, wouldn’t do what?”

Her eyes flickered to Chase, and she crossed the room to him, cupping his face lovingly. “I’m sorry it took me so long. You really hurt me, you know.”

“I always hurt you,” he said, practically sneering. “You get too sensitive when we linger around mortals. I like you better when you take my heat and fire it back at my heart like you used to.”

“Funny. Last time I did that, you whined that you’d find another Necromancer to keep your sagging excuse for a body alive.” She pinched his cheek, tsking. “How’s that working out for you, darling?”

Chase pushed her aside and muttered something under his breath, and Cassie cracked a dark grin. Her eyes turned back to me as she folded her arms across her chest. “Don’t take this personally, Essallie. We’ve been sacrificing people for decades. It comes with the deal we made forever ago.” She stepped closer to the edge of the circle, and I inched closer. “I’d chalk it up to bad luck. Normally, we’d just pluck some drunken idiot off the street or from a homeless shelter. But once Chase found out what you were—”

“Cassandra,” he said warningly. “You are forbidden from telling her.”

She sneered back at him. “I know, I know. Always the party-pooper.” Cassie flicked her eyes back to me, smug. “Let’s just say, your blood is worth all the riches in the world.”

They continued to bicker back and forth, lighting candles and pulling out various small bags from different corners of the room. I didn’t know what to think at this point. My ex-boyfriend and best friend had to be insane. They thought magic was real? That they had to sacrifice someone? I thought back to Cassie’s words about picking up drunks from bars, and started to wonder if the men she had taken to her place after our nights out ever made it back home. They were mad, absolutely out of their minds. And I wasn’t going to stick around for them to kill me in their insanity.

I spotted the dagger at the edge of the circle and moved for it, reaching out to grab the hilt. As soon as my skin hit the edge of the circle, the salt lining it erupted into a wall of fire, striking my skin. I screamed and fell back onto the ground, cradling my burnt arm against my chest. What the hell was going on?



5. Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand

I felt the air in the car begin to change as I stared back at him. It felt warm and thick, like a

humid, post-rain summer day. And even though we were already touching, palm to palm, I

suddenly had an intense desire to be closer to him, pressed to him. My muscles ached with it and I had to restrain myself from scooting across the seat, and wrapping my arms around his shoulders, and burying my face in his neck.

The image wouldn’t remove itself from my mind and I finally had to wrench my gaze from his to keep from acting on the impulse. I was breathing heavier, partly because of the thickness in the air and partly from wanting to touch him. I wondered if he was affected, too, but I couldn’t look at him again or I wouldn’t be able to stop myself.

His hand slid free from mine, and he started the car and busied himself with checking the rearview and easing us out of the lot. I pressed the button for the window, letting in a gust of cold air. For once, I didn’t curse the cold, and was relieved when I felt the tension melt away.

When we were on the road, Wes cleared his throat. “Well, that was …”

I lifted my head from where I’d been leaning closer to the open window and looked over at him. He was running a hand through his hair, still searching for a word to describe what had

happened. He’d noticed it, too. “Different,” I finished.

He sent me a half smile. “Yeah. Definitely that.”



6. Anna by Julia Crane

Tommy folded the canvas bag and placed it on a chair at the table. “So, how have you been? I’ve been counting the days ‘til I’d see you again.”

“You have?” Anna asked, surprised. “You could have called or texted you know,” she blurted, and then regretted it the moment the words flew out of her mouth. Didn’t she learn anything from the movie How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days?

“I was such an idiot; I lost my phone and wasn’t able to get my contacts back.” He smiled sheepishly.

He lost his phone? That sounded like something that would happen to her. “Well, I’m glad you

remembered how to get here.”

“Actually, Rourk remembered. I think he has some kind of freaky photographic memory. I swear he never forgets anything.” Tommy opened the lettuce and washed it in the sink, and then turned to grab the chopping board that was hanging on the wall.

“I’ll have to remember to thank him.” Anna felt heat rise to her cheeks. “I wasn’t sure I would ever see you again.”

Tommy glanced over his shoulder, and his clear blue eyes met hers. His gaze was serious. “Anna, I would have found you if I had to knock on every door in Seattle.”



7. Forged By Greed by A.O. Pert

“Prince Jatred!” The Winter Goddess’s voice sounded angry. She marched fast

toward him. A deep frown settled between her brows.

Watching her, the wolf lowered his head between his shoulder blades, his tail

between his hind legs. A quiet growl rumbled in the back of his throat. Freezing gusts

whipped at her hair and clothes. The Goddess’s long black dress trailed behind her, loose

sleeves flapping in the wind. Her nails were painted black and matched the series of

complex black tattoos covering her face. She appeared as the Celtic goddess Morrigan.

“You know why you’re here.” Crystal’s voice reverberated in the wolf’s head.

Her lips were pressed together.

He didn’t answer but kept his eyes on her. The Goddess stood in front of him,

glowering, her hands on her hips. Her body stretched and grew until she was over ten feet

tall, muscular and commanding. The wolf crouched down, baring his teeth.

“You are going to leave her today!” The Goddess’s voice boomed in the air. It

echoed several times, bouncing off the mountains. Her face contorted in anger. She

waved her hand, and a wave of freezing air hit him like a tornado. He tumbled

uncontrollably, clawing at the snow. Crystal moved her hand again, and Jatred stopped

rolling. He tried to stand up but he felt too dizzy. His body ached as if it was bruised all

over.

“Prince Jatred,” the Goddess hissed. Her eyes were furious. Jatred got up and stood, panting, his legs wobbly. He took an unsure step forward,

testing the ground. A low snarl escaped him, his ears flat.

“No,” he said with his mind, growling louder.

Crystal flicked her wrist once more, and the wolf flew back several feet, as if hit

by a truck going at full-speed. He yelped and fell, sliding in the snow on his side.

Gasping, Jatred snapped his eyes open and bared his teeth. He growled and wrinkled his

muzzle. The Goddess walked up to him. She stopped and folded her arms over her chest.

“Stop resisting. I don’t really want to hurt you.”

“We have a different understanding of the word ‘hurt’,” he wheezed with his

mind.

“You will obey me this time, my Prince. Don’t make me summon you here again

to remind you of your duty. Or it will be more than physical pain that I will inflict on

you. Think of those you love that are my Shifters.” The Goddess’s voice was calm, barely

above a whisper. “Now go back to the Human World.”

Crystal stretched her arms, palms flat over Jatred. Shimmering dust rained from

her hands down to his fur. The pain in his body subsided, and calmness enveloped him.

He squeezed his eyes shut and forced himself to shift into his human form, before she let

him return to the Human World.



8. Golden Blood by Melissa Pearl

Harrison is running from some school bullies and crashes straight into Gemma. They decide

to hide out in a clothing store change room.



Gemma’s eyes rose to meet his.

“What?”

He kept his smile in place. “I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to talk to you.”

“Is that a line?”

“No,” he chuckled and ran a hand through his hair.

Her eyes went stormy and she bit her lip. Flustered, she pushed him away and jumped

down. She collected her bag and reached for the lock. “I gotta go.”

“No wait.” He grabbed her hand and froze. His skin was on fire. Looking down at his

fingers, he felt the warm licks of flame curl up each digit and spread over his hand.

Gemma’s eyes were huge as she jerked away and rubbed her thumb over her fingertips.

“What was that?”

She shook her head with a frown and backed away from him, crashing into the door.

With fumbling fingers she undid the lock and burst out, weaving around the clothing racks

and shooting out the door.

Harrison leaned against the frame to watch her. He curled his fingers into a fist then

flexed them straight. The warm lick of flame was rapidly cooling. His disappointment

surprised him.



9. Set In Stone by Anna Cruise

Noel pressed me against the wall and covered my mouth with his hand to silence me. He leaned closer and, for one panicked moment, I thought he might kiss me. But his mouth whispered past my lips, scenting the air with evergreen and peppermint, past my cheek until it rested just above my ear.

"Don't." His breath tickled my ear, sending shivers to the tips of my toes. "I'm telling you the truth. I can't tell you anything yet." He straightened slightly and uncovered my mouth.

"I'm scared." I hated myself for admitting it. Especially to him.



Noel leaned in once again but this time his hands cradled my face, his blue eyes troubled. He studied me for a long time. "I know you are." Regret flavored his voice. "But don't be." His lips did brush my ear this time before moving softly to my cheek, leaving a trail of soft, stinging kisses. "I'll protect you. I'll keep you safe. I promise."