Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

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The VisitorsThe Visitors by Catherine Burns
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Marion Zetland is now in her fifties and still living with her domineering older brother, John, in their family home after both of their parents have long since passed. Marion never knew what love was or had a family of her own so John has been the only one close in her life for years forcing her to rely heavily upon him. Marion overlooks things that should be red flags when it comes to John with him being all that she has until one night John suffers a heart attack forcing Marion to confront what he’s been hiding all these years.

The Visitors by Catherine Burns was one of those books I was a bit on the fence about and had to debate on how to rate when I was finished. The book primarily seemed to read more like a family drama looking back at John and Marion over the years showing both of them to be flawed characters in their own ways. Marion who is the main character wasn’t particularly likable but there was also an extreme curiosity that built to know just where the author was taking the story.

One of the biggest things I found with this though that brings my rating down was the extreme slowness of the book to unravel just what the actual plot was going to bring. The official synopsis mentions John having a heart attack but this particular event is well into the book which shows that overall the story is about 80% build up then the huge reveal seemed a bit rushed to a conclusion after so much build.

In the end I decided on giving this one 3.5 stars. The author does have a nice writing style that despite the slowness of the build I still wanted to continue to read so I would definitely try another by this author again.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

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Autumn’s Dance by Sarah Gai book blitz with giveaway

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Autumn’s Dance
Sarah Gai
(Season Named, #1)
Publication date: February 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

“A story that captures your heart and continues you thinking about it long after you fall asleep.”

Autumn Nash lives a nomadic existence with her harvest-travelling father, except every summer when they return to one place like clockwork…Ligonier, PA. But this season, Autumn meets a young man who changes her world and makes her long for more.

Eric Foster has been sent to stay the summer in Ligonier with his grandfather in hopes of altering his path as his life spirals downward. His direction changes the moment he sees Autumn; he knows his very reason for breathing is solely to be with her.

When Autumn is ripped away from Ligonier, she leaves Eric confused and devastated that their time is over. Both teens struggle through the years gone by without the other. Will Autumn ever see the boy who changed her life again? Will Eric wait for her? Will Autumn ever make it back to Ligonier? And what will happen when buried secrets surface?

Discover a love that takes you back to what it’s all about—the confusing, yet simplistic, beginnings of falling in love and watch it evolve into something that takes your breath away.

‘Autumn’s Dance can be read as a standalone or part of The Season Named Series’

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Grab your copy for 99¢ for a limited time only!


Author Bio:

So this is me in short. I’m plus size and completely adorable (or so my husbands tells me) A momma of three princes who light my world. I drink way too much coffee, chocolate is a staple. I love to write after midnight and my love for short stories will never fade. With such a limited amount of time to enjoy quiet writing, I have mastered the skills of fitting a lot into a small amount of pages. Humour keeps me smiling and well.. if you’ve read my books you’ll know that I put a lot of myself into the characters. And to answer your questions. My best friends and I forgot the part about growing up and love every minute of it. Aside from writing I also run a publication IndieLove Magazine, promoting Indie Awesomes from a range of fields and professions. Check it out at http://www.indielovemagazine.com

In 2017 I will be saying goodbye to Chick lit for a while and heading into Contemporary Romance. I hate to be put in a box! Join my street team at http://www.sarahgai.com and come have some fun!

Love to all xo.

Wanting to write for all the women out there who want a good short read about strong friendships, romance and body positive, love the skin you’re in kind of fiction. Check out http://Facebook.com/sarahgaiauthor or http://www.sarahgai.com

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Cover Reveal: Sure Thing by Jana Aston with giveaway

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Sure Thing
Jana Aston
Publication date: October 10th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

A new STANDALONE romance from New York Times bestselling author Jana Aston

Have you ever set out to have a one night stand with a sexy stranger?

No? I’m the only one?

Just kidding, I would never.

Ever.

Not usually.

But then I figured, why not? My entire life I’ve been good and it’s gotten me nowhere.

No job.

No apartment.

No boyfriend.

I’m owed a little fun, aren’t I? A reward for being good.

Sure, a new pair of shoes would be more appropriate, but Mr. Sexy Stranger is more appealing. And when he speaks—in that British accent—it’s a done deal. Every American woman has a hot British guy fantasy. Well, most do. I haven’t taken a poll or anything, but I’m pretty sure it’s a fact.

Except…

You know that saying about best-laid plans?

Good, because I don’t either, but I assume they go awry.

Like my one night stand…

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Author Bio:

Jana Aston likes cats, big coffee cups and books about billionaires who deflower virgins. She wrote her debut novel while fielding customer service calls about electrical bills, and she’s ever grateful for the fictional gynecologist in Wrong that readers embraced so much she was able to make working in her pajamas a reality. Jana’s novels have appeared on the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, some multiple times. She likes multiples.

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Undressed by Kimberly Derting book blitz with giveaway

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Undressed
Kimberly Derting
(The Men of West Beach, #1)
Publication date: August 27th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Can two people whose dreams have been cast aside find a new passion…together?

No one ever expected straight-A student Lauren Taylor to make waves. But that was the old Lauren, before she went to college and became an online stripper to make ends meet. Now, Lauren is on the run with a secret and a bag of cash, fleeing landlocked Arizona for the beaches of California.

Will Gabaldon was one of the hottest surfers on the circuit, but fate had something else in mind. When a surfing accident shattered his budding career, Will was forced into a life of tending bar and doing odd jobs just to survive.

A swim instructor with secrets like Will is the last thing Lauren wants. A distraction like Lauren is the last thing Will needs.

But soon, both discover there’s one thing more dangerous than the wave that ended Will’s career: Love.

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SNEAK PEEK:

I wanted to tell him he was doing this body shot thing all wrong. It was supposed to be done fast—salt, tequila, lime. One, two, three.

Rapid fire.

Not this leisurely investigation of my body. But I was convinced that if I tried to talk the words would get caught behind the massive lump clogging my throat.

The suction of his mouth made me shudder, and despite myself my body betrayed me. Fiery tendrils unfolded, and as he lapped at the tequila, drinking it up, I couldn’t help imagining what it would be like if his mouth moved lower . . . lower . . . lower . . .


Author Bio:

Kimberly has been in love with LOVE since the first grade, when she would make “boyfriends” hold her hand during recess . . . whether they wanted to or not. In high school, she discovered romance novels and she’s been hooked ever since!

She is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, THE TAKING trilogy, and UNDRESSED (her first book in The Men Of West Beach series). She’s also co-written the soon-to-be-released picture books about a girl who loves science! Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections.

These days, she spends entirely too much time ordering stuff off the Internet, binge-watching Netflix, and holding hands with a guy who doesn’t have to be forced (her husband).

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The Vampire Trick (Dark World: The Vampire Wish Book 3) by Michelle Madow

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The Vampire Trick (Dark World: The Vampire Wish Book 3)The Vampire Trick by Michelle Madow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Vampire Trick is the third book of a new young adult fantasy series by Michelle Madow. In the first book of the series, The Vampire Wish, we met Annika who had lost her whole family to a vampire attack and was taken hostage to the hidden vampire kingdom of the Vale where she is kept as a human blood slave to provide food for the vampires. Also introduced in the first book was Jacen who was also taken by the vampires against his will but unlike Annika who still remains human Jacen was turned against his wishes and now fights his desire to kill for blood. Jacen and Annika met and Jacen tried to help Annika escape but she was taken away with Jacen being led to believe she died and Annika believing Jacen had betrayed her.

In the second book The Vampire Prince Annika found herself in possession of a magical artifact that had trapped the ancient witch, Geneva. Whoever controlled the ring controlled Geneva so Annika had her power behind her as she continued to try to get revenge upon the vampires that killed her family and held her hostage. Meanwhile, Jacen had returned to the kingdom and was being forced to find a bride so with Geneva’s help Annika planned to disguise herself and become his bride to have full access to the palace and destroy The Vale from the inside.

Now in the third book of the series Annika and Jacen’s story picks up right where it was left off in the second book. Annika is still competing among the visiting princesses disguised as a vampire herself with Geneva’s help. Annika’s real goal when returning to the palace was to find a way to kill the vampire queen and little does she know that she and Jacen have more in common than she realizes. But will either be able to complete their plans with the wolves outside the kingdom planning an attack of their own?

Another great addition to this series from Michelle Madow. A fast paced young adult fantasy read that has easily had me hooked from the very beginning and this was no exception as she has yet again surprised me with events happening that one would never expect and leaving the reader just wanting more and more. The story moves quickly but always has just enough in the beginning to bring a reader right back where it had left off then move quickly into the action in this installment then bringing everything around to an exciting conclusion that had me wanting the next book immediately. As always I would recommend these to the fans of fast paced YA fantasy and eagerly look forward to seeing where the story goes from here on out.

I received a free advance copy of this book directly from the author, thank you to Michelle Madow for allowing me to read early.

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

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The Blackbird SeasonThe Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Nate Winters is the teacher at the local high school that everyone loves, he coaches baseball and is always in there for his students. Alicia, Nate’s wife, wishes that her husband would put a little more into their family than he does his students as she struggles to raise their autistic son. One day in their quite Pennsylvania town a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field which in turn unleashes an unexpected chain of events.

As one of the reporters sent to investigate the phenomenon catches Nate embracing a student the story in town quickly changes. Lucia Hamm, the student Nate was seen with quickly jumps on the story making the claim that she is having an affair with the coach. As the town divides between those who believe Nate’s innocence or guilt things take an even worse turn when Lucia disappears.

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti is a psychological thriller that is told from multiple points of view of the four main characters in the story of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget. Alicia is the struggling wife of Nate who is accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student, Lucia, and Bridget is a co-worker of Nate’s that knows Lucia and doesn’t believe that Nate could possibly be guilty of the crime. The story is also told with flashing back to build up to the events in the current but was still easy to follow along.

Picking up this book I had noticed plenty of good reviews on it so I had some high expectations going into the story. For me I’d say this one could be a bit on the wordy side though which at times could slow down the pace of the story being a bit over descriptive or seeming to cover some of the same things as the point of view changed. Also, I tend to have my guesses in this type of read and didn’t find the ending to be too shocking as it was an early guess of mine. In the end I’d give The Blackbird Season 3.5 stars and thought this one was a solid thriller that many will enjoy.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Cover Reveal: Chasing Ella by Jillian Quinn

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Chasing Ella
Jillian Quinn
Publication date: September 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Every Princess needs a Prince Charming…

When a masked girl throws herself at Shawn Finch at a costume party, the hotshot football player assumes she’s just another girl trying to get his attention. Except she’s not just any girl. She’s his Cinderella, the nameless girl in the pale blue dress who got away.

Desperate to find her, Finch searches for his mystery girl with no luck. So, it must be fate when Finch’s grade point average drops and the school assigns him a tutor not knowing they just handed over his Cinderella.

After having a crush on Finch since the first time she spotted him on campus, one kiss was all she’d ever wanted. But Finch has other plans for his Cinderella once he discovers the truth about his tutor.

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Pre-order today for only $2.99!


Author Bio:

Jillian Quinn is the author of the international bestselling Face-Off hockey series as well as other sexy, sporty romances.

Jillian loves sports, bad boys, dirty talkers, strong females, and books with plenty of heat—all of which you will find in her books. As a lover of all things bookish, she has a serious book hoarding problem and runs a blog in her free time. When she’s not reading, writing, or blogging, she’s obsessively fangirling over hockey players and can be found wherever she can catch the next hockey game.

For updates, visit JillianQuinnBooks.com

Sign up for Jillian’s Bad Boy Mafia for book deals, giveaways, and exclusives. http://eepurl.com/cuJkOr

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Escape from Heartland by Jacquie Gee blitz with giveaway

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Escape from Heartland
Jacquie Gee
(Heartland Cove, #2)
Publication date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

We hardly know each other, yet somehow, on some unexplainable level, it feels like we’ve known each other forever.

Jules Bates is a fish-out-of-water in conservative, small town, Heartland Cove. A modern girl with modern dreams that have so far taken her all the way to father’s bait shop at the end of town. There, she spends her days, elbow-deep in worm dirt. She can’t remember the last time she’s been on a date, or dressed in anything but a lumberjack shirt and hip waders. Her life seems to be at a stalemate. It’s like her best friend said, “The perfect guy doesn’t just walk through your door and sweep you off your feet, you know?”

Or does he?

Jayden Sievert is on a mission, to solve the mystery of his life. But first he needs to track down a ghost. One in particular. The legend of Heartland Cove. Arriving in the small town, with his ghostbuster wannabe equipment in hand, he purchases the Caldwell place, much to the horror of the townsfolk—a stately Georgian Manor overlooking the sea, with a less than pleasant past. No one’s been brave enough to set foot in that place for over a decade.

Is this man mad? Or perhaps just a little crazy?

Jayden ignores them all. He knows the key to his success lies in his ability to minimize distractions, but then he meets Jules. Could she be the answer to the long-buried secret that Jayden’s spent a lifetime searching for?

The second in the series of sweet romances set in fiction Heartland Cove, this contemporary coming-of-age romance features a deliciously unexpected paranormal twist!

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EXCERPT:

“Maybe she was here and left. I was supposed to be here sooner. Maybe she thought I was a no-show.”

“Maybe. But she would have texted. Anna’s not one to give up that easily on a sale.”

“Well, then, I guess we’d better keep looking for her.” I lean against the doorjamb, feeling the cold air encroaching on us again.

The muscles along the sides of Jules’ jaw twitch, as lightning snakes across the front bay windows. Then, without warning, the air hits Jules in the back, tossing her forward into my arms. I instinctively catch her as thunder strikes and it appears she’s leapt into my arms because of it, but it’s actually the ghost at play. He’s tossed her into my arms.

“What was that?” Jules cranks around looking very distressed.

“I dunno for sure.” I shake my head. “But you better stay close.”

She clings to my chest. No argument there.

Lightning strikes again and thunder crashes. “She’s an angry one and she’s close.”

“Ridiculously angry,” Jules adds.

“Is this a typical Maritime thing?”

“No,” she snaps, trembling. “I don’t remember rain even being in the forecast!”

Another crash of thunder and she scowls, looking deeply troubled. It sounds like it’s hitting right outside the door. “You’re right.” Jules’ eyes look like they’re about to pop from her head. She talks a mile a minute. “Anna must have left. Otherwise, we’d have seen her jeep. She can’t be here, or she’d answer me. We should go.” “She whirls around, ready to bolt from the building, and I catch her by the waist.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa…” I say into her ear, pulling her to me, her feet still kicking. “No sudden movements, my friend. Besides, we can’t go out there right now in the middle of all this.” I look again to the lightning streaking the panes of the windows, like fireworks now. Every window of the house is affected, illuminating in rapid sequence. Thunder booms all around us, shaking the rickety old structure.

“Well, we can’t very well stay here.” Jules glowers into my eyes, as I lower her to the floor. “I’ll take my chances.” She turns, about to bolt again, and a particularly loud crash of thunder sends her screaming back into my arms.

“I think it’s best if we let things die down out there a bit.”

“I think you’re right.” She buries her face in my chest. Her skin is warm and soft in contrast to the cold air around us, closing in tighter with every moment.

Jules looks up as lightning slashes the windows again. She lets out a small shriek and digs her nails into my chest.

“It’s only a storm,” I say, trying to comfort her.

“I don’t think so,” she gasps. The lights above the staircase flash on and off again. A strong crack of thunder hits, driving a gasping Jules to crawl the fronts of my shins. “Okay, look,” she says, breathlessly, fearfully, staring up into my face. “There’s something I should have told you. This place is haunted, okay?” Her words come out fast and slightly garbled, her voice trembling as hard as her hands. “I probably should have told you that on the drive up here, but Anna said she really needed the sale, and there was the possibly of her winning the trip to Hawaii to consider and—”

“I know.” I gaze down at her.

“You know about the trip to Hawaii?”

“No.” I laugh. “I know about the house.”

“You do? And you came to look at it anyway?” Jules scowls. Her voice cracks.

“Call me crazy—”

“Evidently!”

“And you’re a very good friend, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Thunder crashes again and she snuggles close. The cold air presses us even closer.

“I’m… ah…” I start, feeling as though I owe her some sort of explanation. I can’t tell her all of it, but I should tell her something. “I sort of fancy myself a bit of a paranormal sleuth,” falls out of my mouth. It’s not completely the truth, but it’ll have to do for now. I feel guilty lying to her, but I swear when this is all over, I’ll tell her the truth.

“So, like a ghostbuster wannabe, is that it?” Jules pulls back, her voice nearly shrieking.

“Something like that—”

“You knew this could happen, and you dragged me up here?”

“No!” I frown. “I—I had no idea this would happen.” I run a flustered hand through my hair. What does she think I am, a monster?

“Unbelievable.” She drops her hands from my chest. “I knew this was too good to be true.”

“What was?”

“Never mind.” She turns her back to me.

“Look, i-if it’s any consolation, this is not what you think.” I move closer. “It’s not voluntary. I have a gift or something. I—I see things—”I stammer, trying to explain the unexplainable.

“Omigawd, you see dead people?” She melts away from me.

“No, no—not like that. Well, sort of—”

She glares back at me, panicked.

“Okay, no, that’s not it.” I put up a hand. “No, that’s exactly it.” Jules gulps. “But only sometimes, and especially when they’re related to me—”

“Fantastic. So, what? You know the guy that haunts this place?”

“In a roundabout way, yes.”

The wind picks up, throwing the chimes that hang on the porch outside sideways into the wall, causing both our heads to snap around. A second gust of wind drives the chimes into the door and Jules back into my arms. The cold air intensifies, engulfing us like a blanket.

“It’s a long story,” I whisper in her ear. “Maybe I’ll tell you sometime over a beer—”

“I don’t drink beer.”

“Okay, fine, what do you like? Wine?”

“Moscato.”

Another resounding crack.

Jules screams. “I have to get out of here!”

“No, wait!” I reel her back when she tries to run again, catching a flash of green glowing light out of the corner of my eye. I pull her even closer than before.

“So, let me get this straight,” she clings, her breath jagged. “You make a living by talking to dead people?”

“No, not usually.” Gawd, I hate lying to her.

“But that’s why you’ve come to the Cove. To talk to a dead person.”

“One in particular, yes.”

“Why is that?” She glares up at me.

“Well, I was hoping this could wait till our second date, but, okay …” I glance briefly at the floorboards then back up into her eyes. “I came to talk to a ghost about my heritage. I’m hoping to find out exactly who I am.”

Thunder cracks so loud it drowns me out. I’m not sure that she’s heard me.

“And this ghost, he’s here, now?” Jules voice wobbles.

“I dunno for sure.” I glance around.

Thunder booms and lightning flecks like a light show. Hinges creak, and both our faces snap around and stare at the door, gape-mouthed and terrified, as it grates slowly open, revealing the raging storm outside. Wind howls within. The door gasps open and closed.

“I think it wants us to go.” Jules swallows as lightning wildly stripes the sky.

“I think you might be right.” A blast of thunder shakes the floorboards, and I grab her hand and step forward, as the door slams furiously shut, and the lock falls with a clunk. Jules’ body shakes at the end of my arm. “What do we do now?”


Author Bio:

Jacquie Gee is the alias of Jacqueline Garlick. Maybe you’ve read her?

We are one and the same. Two faces of one author with very different writing styles. That way, I keep readers happy by keeping my writing passions separated.

On a personal note, I love to talk… strange for a writer, I know, but I do. I’m told I can be pretty funny, though, my kids see things in a different light. I love to write romances with a strong, sassy, heroines, and scrumptiously, gorgeous leading men. I write sweet romance surrounded by chocolate and an overweight sheltie. Neither of which are related. And there are always with fresh flowers in the room. Raised in a small town in the country myself, I like writing about them best. I mean, who doesn’t love a small-town? Enough about me, what about you?

Drop me a line and let’s get to know each other.
jacqueline@jacquelinegarlick.com I love to hear from readers!

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Ivar’s Prize by Amy Pennza book blitz with giveaway

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Ivar’s Prize
Amy Pennza
Publication date: July 10th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

Nadia Green has everything–power, prestige, and a fiancé. That all ends when she’s sentenced to life on the prison planet Tolbos. Within hours of landing, Nadia finds herself captured, stripped, and placed on an auction block, where she’s purchased by Ivar Holok, a brutal warlord with golden eyes and an ability to wield kaptum with a mastery unlike anyone she’s ever seen.

Ivar is instantly attracted to the beautiful slave, but he suspects her presence on Tolbos has sinister implications. The Council wants him dead, and what better way to achieve its goal than by planting an irresistible assassin in his bed? No matter how much he wants to trust her, Ivar has to protect his people–even if it means denying Nadia her freedom. He vows to keep her enslaved and at his mercy until she confesses her involvement in the Council’s schemes, but he didn’t count on the slave enthralling her master.

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EXCERPT:

Ivar Holok watched the auction from the edge of the crowd. All around him, men cheered and laughed as the woman on the platform twisted and fought to free herself from the manacles.

Ivar could have told her that was pointless. He knew they were reinforced with kaptum. Dario might look like he was short on brains, but he was a savvy businessman. He took no chances with his merchandise.

And this female was a prime specimen. Taller than average, she had long, lithe legs that flared into gently curving hips. Her full breasts were proud and high, her small

nipples a becoming rose color. His cocked twitched as he watched her breasts bounce with her movements.

Dario faced the crowd as he rattled off the woman’s attributes. An appreciative murmur ran through the assembled men when she aimed a kick at his ass, her booted foot nearly connecting with her target. She threw her head back and screamed.

Ivar winced. Healthy lungs.

“Better watch out, Dario!” a man near the front called. “If looks could kill, you’d be a dead man already!”

The merchant gestured to Axos, who grabbed her legs and jerked off her boots and socks. He sailed the boots one by one into the crowd, followed by the pants that had puddled around her ankles. One man brandished them in the air like a trophy.

Now fully divested of her clothing, the woman gazed across the crowd, her eyes searching and desperate. Her long red hair had fallen over her shoulder in her struggle with Axos, and one dusky pink nipple peeked through the bright strands. The sleek muscles of her legs flexed continuously as she struggled to remain on her toes. Even after such a short time on the pole, Ivar knew her arms had to be on fire from bearing almost her full body weight.

Dario sidled up to her and swept her hair away from her breasts. “As you can see, gentlemen, this one is hot as flame!” He moved his hand to her flat belly, then slid it lower and cupped her bare sex. “As to whether she’s a natural redhead, you’ll just have to take my word for it!”

The woman jerked away from his touch, giving the men a look at her shapely ass as she twisted sideways. Her chest was a mottled red, and her breasts heaved as though she’d just run a long distance. Ivar discreetly adjusted himself.

He looked out over the crowd, which had swelled with the nude woman displayed on the platform. She raised up higher on her toes, her small, delicate features twisted in obvious pain. Dario attempted to pry her lips apart to show the men her teeth. She snapped at his hand, and he danced back. The crowd guffawed.

Ivar narrowed his gaze. She didn’t lack for courage. Most women would be weeping and begging for mercy by now. Most men too. But she kept her head high as she looked over the leering, boisterous crowd.

Her gaze connected with Ivar’s, and it was like a punch in the gut. He sucked in a breath. It was impossible to see her eyes clearly from where he stood, but he couldn’t look away. It was as though she held him captive with her stare. He crossed his arms over his chest and glowered at her, then watched, astonished, as her chin rose a notch higher.

“It’s a shame such beauty fell into Dario’s hands,” Porter said next to him, ending the unsettling moment. “He’ll sell her to the highest bidder without a second thought.”

Ivar looked at his second-in-command and grunted. “That’s the way auctions generally work.”

Porter gestured with his chin toward the other side of the crowd. “Not this one. Not with him here.”

Ivar followed the direction of his gaze. A small group of men strode to the edge of the crowd and began shoving their way to the platform. Their leader punched a man in the back of the head, making him crumple to the ground and then kicked him out of the

way and kept moving. The crowd immediately parted. The leader swaggered toward the platform, his long black hair loose over his shoulders.

Dario’s face split in a broad smile that didn’t fool Ivar. The fat little merchant made his way down the steps, moving quickly despite his girth. “Raddoc! We are honored by your presence!” He bowed, his nose almost touching his knees.

Behind him, the woman stilled, her gaze now fixed on the huge man dressed all in black. The long column of her throat convulsed as she swallowed.

“How much?” Raddoc asked in a deep voice, his gaze never leaving the woman. One hand rested on a broadsword at his hip.

Dario wrung his hands. “Ah…well, we haven’t started the auction yet. If you wish to bid—”

“Five liters.” Raddoc snapped his fingers, and one of his men flung an old rucksack to the ground. It fell open on impact, revealing five canisters beaded with condensation.

The crowd gasped. The men closest to the canisters jostled each other as they tried to get a better look. One man crept close, his hand outstretched, only to be sent sprawling to the ground by another of Raddoc’s men.

“I do believe that’s a record bid,” Raddoc said, gesturing to the precious water.

Dario stared at the canisters, and Ivar could almost see the gears turning in his brain. In a blink, his expression changed from subservient to calculating. He glanced back at the naked woman. “It’s a princely sum, to be sure. But as you can see, this slave is fit for a king. Everyone should have a chance to bid—”

A meaty hand fastened around his throat. Raddoc lifted him off the ground, the muscles in his arm bunching. Dario’s legs flailed.

The merchant sputtered and coughed. “P-please.” His eyes bulged.

Raddoc paid him about as much attention as a gnat. Still clenching the merchant’s throat, he pivoted slowly, his black-eyed gaze falling on the crowd. “Who here can match my price?”

A tense silence fell over the crowd, the only sound Dario’s gurgling protests. All around, men lowered their eyes. A few turned and shouldered their way out of the gathering.

Ivar glanced at the platform and caught his breath. The woman was staring at him again. For the first time, she looked afraid. She sagged against the chains.

Raddoc pulled Dario forward until they were eye to eye. “Looks like I won your auction, fat man.” He opened his hand, and the merchant fell to the ground, his face an angry purple. His mouth gaped as he sucked in air. Raddoc snapped his fingers at one of his men and pointed to the platform.

“Go fetch my new slave.”

Ivar uncrossed his arms. “Ten liters!”

* * * *

Nadia watched as heads jerked toward the warlord standing on the edge of the crowd. Up until now, he’d been so still, she’d wondered if she was imagining him. The only thing he’d seemed to move were his eyes, which occasionally roved down her body with a heat that made her cheeks burn until she was certain they were as red as her hair.

Even with the distance between them, she could tell his eyes were an unusual color—a pale, glowing gold that reminded her of the holo-vids she’d seen of lions that had once roamed Earth. His hair was shaved so close to his head it was impossible to tell the color, but everything else about him was golden, from his strange eyes to his tan skin.

He shouldered the men in front of him aside. Murmurs rippled through the crowd as he and another man moved toward the platform, their pace unhurried.

Raddoc scowled and put his hand on his sword hilt. “The auction’s over, Ivar,” he growled. “The slave is mine.” The wind caught at his long mane of hair, sending the lank black strands whipping around his shoulders. At first, she’d thought his face was dirty, then she’d realized it was tattooed with strange swirling symbols a few shades darker than his skin. His men bore the same markings, although none had his monstrous teeth, which were filed to sharp points.

When he’d grinned at her, she’d felt truly hopeless for the first time since the head magistrate had read her sentence back on the starship. Until that moment, she’d thought that being stripped naked and chained to the pole was the worst thing that could happen to her. Then the black-haired warlord had flashed his razor-sharp smile, and she’d nearly given in to the blackness that beckoned at the edges of her mind.

For some reason, she’d sought out the golden warlord on the edge of the crowd. Their eyes had locked, and he’d stepped forward just as she’d begun to slump into a faint.

Now he and his companion had reached the space in front of the platform where Raddoc stood surrounded by his men. The golden-eyed man stepped deliberately over the canisters and stood over a still-gasping Dario. He gave the little merchant a considering look, then lifted hard eyes to Raddoc.

“Ah, Raddoc. You never did like playing by the rules. You heard our friend here. The auction hasn’t started.”

Raddoc’s hand tightened on his sword, and he took a step forward, bringing the two men toe to toe. Seeing them like this, there was no question they were both warlords. If Axos and his men were giants, these two were inhuman. They towered above the men around them, their big bodies roped with muscle. More than that, they practically bristled with weapons. Sunlight shined off the edges of blades tucked into belts and pockets. Like Raddoc, the golden warlord had a broadsword, but he wore his strapped to his back, its thick hilt a visible reminder that this was clearly not a man to be trifled with.

“I bid five liters,” Raddoc said, his eyes glinting. Metal flowed down the insides of his arms and formed into knives. His men stirred but didn’t pull any weapons.

The warlord he’d called Ivar leaned into him. “And I bid ten.” Behind him, his companion drew a short sword from a sheath on his leg. It rippled and sprouted a jagged edge where it had been smooth a moment before. Nadia gasped. Kaptum could transform, yes, but the transition had been flawless—like living art.

“You’re outnumbered, Ivar.” The pointed teeth flashed. “I could kill you where you stand.”

Ivar’s reply was so quiet, Nadia had to strain to hear it. “Do it. You and your people will be dead in a week.”

Something on his arm drew her eye, and she squinted as she tried to make it out. At first, she thought it was an insect, but that was impossible. There were no insects on

Tolbos. A darkly-inked tattoo slid from his biceps to his forearm, where it curled around his skin like a snake. She blinked and shook her head, trying to figure out what she was seeing.

The wind whipped around the platform. Nadia sucked in a breath, waiting for either man to make the first move. Raddoc stepped back, and she exhaled on a shudder. He glanced at her, then leaned to the side and spit. A wad of glistening saliva hit the ground with a wet smack. Without another word, he pivoted on his heel and walked away, the knives dissolving and slithering back up his arms. His men gathered the canisters and then hurried to catch up to him.

Ivar watched them go before casting his gaze over the crowd. “Does anyone else wish to bid?” Men shuffled their feet and kept their eyes trained on the ground. Seemingly satisfied, he reached down and hauled Dario to his feet. “You know where to find me. I’ll have your ten liters waiting.”

The merchant massaged his throat and nodded, his bald head shiny with perspiration.

The golden eyes fixed on her. She tensed. The weight of his stare was even more intense up close. He strode to the platform, planted a hand on the wood, and vaulted his body over the edge. He stopped in front of her, and she fought the urge to shrink away from him. Instead, she forced herself to look at him, craning her neck back as her eyes traveled up and up his body. He stared down, his cruelly handsome face a mask that revealed nothing of his thoughts or feelings. His gaze dropped to her breasts as he reached a long arm up and tapped the manacles. The metal bracelets snapped open, startling her.

She fell forward, and he caught her, mashing her breasts against his chest. Big hands massaged her arms and shoulders.

“How…” She stared at his chest. “How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

She tried to pull back, but he held her in place, his fingers still kneading her arms. “The manacles. You just touched them and—”

“Ask your questions later.”

She snapped her mouth shut. His order rankled, but she was hardly in a position to argue with him.

He stopped kneading and slid a hand to her wrist. “Come.” He pulled her to the platform’s steps.

“Wait!” Her bare feet skidded on the rough wood.

He rounded on her. “What?”

She stepped sideways so his body blocked her from the crowd’s view. “I…I’m not wearing any clothes.”

His gaze flicked to her chest. “I noticed. Now, come.”


Author Bio:

Amy Pennza is an author of romantic fiction that’s not afraid to turn up the heat. A lawyer-turned-copywriter, she’s much happier behind a keyboard than she was in the courtroom. A mom of four, including a set of twins, she always has a granola bar and a package of baby wipes handy. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and one very persnickety cat. You can visit her at amypennza.com.

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Three Heart Echo by Keary Taylor

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Three Heart EchoThree Heart Echo by Keary Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Iona shows up on Sully’s doorstep he is immediately on guard as he’s no stranger to the reporters that are like vultures circling him looking for their big story. Iona is there however because she’s heard that Sully can contact the dead and she’s desperate to speak to her fiancee again after his life was shortened by a murderer without any logical reason behind the attack. Iona believes she won’t be able to move on from the loss and is desperate for Sully’s help.

Sully is a bit hesitant to open the gate between dimensions yet again. He’s gotten used to his own fate which has his death looming ever closer and being in contact with those he has lost is a daily occurrence for Sully but there’s just something about Iona that isn’t right. After Sully breaks down and contacts Jack for Iona however he begins to see that Jack has some sort of hold over her even after death and Sully makes it his mission to help her break free.

Three Heart Echo by Keary Taylor is one of those books that I saw the cover on this one and just kept coming back to it wanting to see what the story held inside. Thankfully this turned out to be another that my cover obsession turned into picking out a really engaging and compelling read that I ended up devouring even though I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.

The story in here is sort of a paranormal suspense read mixed with a twinge of horror. Iona was the perfect grieving widow wanting to hang onto the love she knew and didn’t want to continue living without. But once that dark side of the afterlife is brought in the reader learns that there was so much more to Iona’s love of her life that just had me on the edge of my seat waiting to find the answers. In the end this one was definitely an eerie and creepy read from start to finish that I’d recommend checking out.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.