The Face Transplant by R. Arundel [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

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The Face Transplant

by R. Arundel

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Thriller 

Dr. Matthew MacAulay is a Facial Transplant Surgeon at a prestigious New York hospital. His friend and mentor, Tom Grabowski, dies under mysterious circumstances. Matthew is forced to investigate. He uncovers his friend’s secret. A new technique that allows perfect facial transplants. No incisions, no scars. The surgeon is able to transplant one person’s face to another with the perfect result. Tom was able to accomplish this monumental feat with the help of Alice, a supercomputer robot with almost human abilities. While trying to find the people responsible for murdering his friend Tom, Matthew realizes he is the prime suspect. Matthew must flee for his life with the help of Dr. Sarah Larsson, a colleague and reluctant helper who has a secret of her own. Alice helps them make sense of a baffling series of seemingly unrelated events. Matthew is forced to undergo a facial transplant to hide his identity and help to uncover the truth. The clues carry Matthew and Sarah around the world. Matthew stumbles onto a sinister plot of monumental proportions, the real reason Tom was murdered. This discovery leads Matthew all the way to The White House with a dramatic conclusion. Matthew never wavers in his quest for the truth and perseveres against all the odds. He must race to stop a major catastrophe, ratcheting up the excitement until the thrilling conclusion. The Face Transplant is a powerful medical suspense thriller of the first order. The novel was written by a surgeon. The novel has a realism that only a surgeon can bring. The plot weaves politics, medicine and espionage into a tightly paced, intelligent thriller. The novel crescendos page by page to a totally unexpected conclusion.

 

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Excerpt

 

Guaarrr. It sounded like water draining from a very large bath tub, through a very large hole. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a   warm relaxing bath? Sit. Soak. However, in the fraction of a second that it took that thought to go through Matthew’s head, a more powerful thought pierced his mind. I just killed myself. I just killed the patient. Most likely a criminal anyways. He looked down on the operating room table at the very gaunt, greying man. Dr. Matthew MacAulay quickly scanned the operating theater. In his peripheral vision he could clearly see the short, wide man in the observation area. I just killed myself, Lars, and Marcia. Matthew looked across the operating room table at Marcia Lopez, forty two, an American of Spanish ancestry. She had been his scrub nurse, assisting him in the operating room for the last 3 years. Divorced, one child.

It would take a few more seconds for the monitors to tell everybody what Matthew already knew. Soon the monitors would alarm and all would know. But Marcia already knew. She was right across the table. She saw him use the robotic arm to dissect the vessel and mistakenly cut the large artery in the neck. An operating room nurse of Marcia’s experience has seen it all. When Matthew looked into Marcia’s eyes they flashed ever so quickly an acknowledgement that it was all over. Instead of any words she quietly unclamped the suction. Now a dull hiss filled the air. To the casual observer, or the short wide man holding a 9 mm Glock pistol in his fat stubby hands, nothing really had changed.

 

 

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Author Bio

Robert was born in London, United Kingdom. His early formative years were spent in Toronto Canada. Robert attended the University of Toronto Medical School. After obtaining his Doctor of Medicine degree he completed surgical training in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Toronto and obtained certification from the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Robert Mounsey practices surgery in private practice in Toronto. R. Arundel studied Film Studies at Ryerson University, after this he began writing screenplays and novels. The Face Transplant is his debut novel. He  is married and lives in Toronto, Canada. When not writing or practicing surgery Robert can be found cycling.

 

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Love and Punishment by Susan MacNicol [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

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Love & Punishment

by Susan Mac Nicol

Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

 

Male-Male

On the search for a serial killer, Detective Anthony Parglietto and Flynn Parker learn that every man must make a choice: to kill, to live, to love.

FROM DARKNESS AND LIGHT

Someone is leaving a trail of bodies throughout London, and Detective Anthony Parglietto is determined to end the violence. Then he’ll return to the man he loves.

Tough, street-savvy, and used to dealing with lowlifes, Flynn Parker is the last person Anthony thinks he has to protect. Then the Bow-Tie Killer strikes close to home and the world turns upside down. Right is wrong, black is white, and a policeman might become a monster. But in the name of love, justice must be served. In the name of love, pain can be endured. In the name of love, a man can taste the very essence that defines him.

 

 

Excerpt

Anthony walked down the hall. He reached the bedroom and gently pushed the door open. He saw Flynn framed in the light of the lamp shining from the lounge. He lay, apparently asleep, on the leather and wood divan Anthony had brought over from Italy. Its dark burgundy colour contrasted with what Flynn wore, which was nothing but a black thong lying stark against his pale skin. The divan was under the window. The bed covers were rumpled, as if Flynn had been sleeping. His robe was draped across the foot of the bed. Anthony moved towards the gleaming body of his supine lover.

Flynn’s face was turned away towards the back of the sofa. His dark hair was tousled and his arms stretched above his head to the right. He wore a blindfold. Anthony felt a stir in his groin seeing those lean, hairy legs stretched out wantonly, inviting him to run his hands up and over his groin. Even appearing asleep, Flynn had the power to excite him, to make Anthony hard and ready. He stepped towards him, watching the rise and fall of Flynn’s chest with their already hardened nubs. Anthony wanted to run his tongue over that chest, with its smattering of fine hair, to take Flynn’s nipples in his mouth and suck them until Flynn groaned in pleasure. As he got closer in the dim light he saw the hands with their bonds of silk. Green bonds lay dark against Flynn’s wrists, fastened to the wooden struts of the upright chair arm. His hands were tight fists. Anthony chuckled softly, a noise that sounded loud in the stillness of the room.

“Been waiting long?’ he whispered as he took off his jacket. ‘I tried to get home as soon as I could.”

Anthony knew the bonds would be loose so Flynn could break free if needed but he also knew he wouldn’t. It was the way the game was played.

 

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Author Bio

Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. At the age of eight, her family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she stayed for nearly thirty years before arriving back in the UK in December 2000. Currently, She lives in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her family.

Sue is a PAN (Published Author’s Network) member of Romance Writers of America and a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. Also, she is a member of a rather unique writing group, called the Talliston Writer’s Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell. She has written nine novels, two novellas and a screenplay since February 2012 and clearly believes in keeping herself busy. She has found herself wanting to stay in the sub-genre that is M/M Romance so more can definitely be expected.

Her plan is to keep writing as long as her muse sits upon her shoulder. Her dream is to make enough money to give up the day job and get that big old house in the English countryside overlooking a river, where she can write all day and continue to indulge her passion for telling stories.

 

 

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Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Lena Diaz [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

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Take the Key and Lock Her Up

A Deadly Games Thriller

By: Lena Diaz

Releasing August 5th, 2014

Avon Romance

 

Blurb

Lena Diaz returns with another sexy, thrilling Deadly Games novel and the darkest question of all: What do you do when your freedom could cost you your life?

Detective Emily O’Malley just stumbled upon a killer’s lair—and the remains of a woman he kept locked away for years. But this killer isn’t done yet. More women are missing, and all clues point to Devlin Buchanan—the man who seems to know just a little too much. Emily’s instincts are rarely wrong, and now they’re telling her this sexy, mysterious man is hiding something big …
As a trained assassin for EXIT Inc—a top-secret mercenary group posing as an international tour company—Devlin “Devil” Buchanan isn’t afraid to take justice into his own hands. But when the hot new detective on his trail gets too close to the organization and a contract is placed on her life, Devlin does the only thing he can: he turns rogue agent and kidnaps her to save her life.

With EXIT Inc closing in and passions running hot between them, Emily and Devlin must work together to find the missing women and clear both their names before time runs out … and the key to freedom is thrown away.

 

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Author Info

Originally from Kentucky, romantic suspense author Lena Diaz also lived in California and Louisiana before settling in Northeast Florida with her husband, two children, and a Shetland Sheepdog named Sparky. A Romance Writers of America GoldeLenan Heart® finalist, she’s won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and has been a finalist for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She loves to watch action movies, garden, and hike in the beautiful Tennessee Smoky Mountains.

Author Links

http://www.lenadiaz.com/

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From Indiana with Love by Sandra Sookoo [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

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From Indiana With Love

 

Contemporary

From Indiana with Love

By: Sandra Sookoo

Released July 2014

 

Blurb

Being embroiled in an FBI sting isn’t exactly conducive for book research or warm fuzzies—or is it?

Samantha Arnold, prep cook and struggling romance novelist, believes adventure is right around the corner. Trouble is, nothing exciting happens in the small town of Newburg, Indiana. When a routine trip to pick up chicken results in meeting a guy too well-dressed to be a farmer, she can’t help but hope things are about to turn.

Special Agent Patton Mitchell isn’t exactly enjoying his stint in the farming community. The property he’s using as a home base adjoins that of his mark, and it also connects him with meek and mild Samantha. Her questionable Internet search history has triggered a visit from the NSA, which means him, and he’s not above a little flirting to get his answers.

Suddenly, small town life explodes into a story right out of Sam’s imagination, with intrigue, guns and betrayal to boot. What she thinks of as a madcap caper is a fight for life or death in Mitchell’s book. Between dodging bullets, chasing a would-be terrorist and dealing with drop-in relatives, there might just be a shot at romance—if the bad guys don’t get them first.

 

 

Author Bio

Sandra is a writer of romantic fiction. Her portfolio includes historical, contemporary, sci-fi, and paranormal romances in full-length books as well as shorts and novellas. No matter if the heat level is spicy or sweet, she loves to blend genres and oftentimes will add humor to the mix.

When not immersed in creating new worlds and engaging characters, Sandra likes to read, bake, taste new teas, watch The Big Bang Theory, and Psych as well as Finding Bigfoot and travel. Her favorite place to spend vacation hours is Walt Disney World: it’s where dreams come true and the soul can play. When she’s not writing, she’s keeping things interesting at her Believing is Seeing blog or spending time with her husband, who patiently answers questions she has about men, sci-fi-related subjects, and the odd “what if”.

Sandra loves to hear from her readers. You can write to her at sandrasookoo@yahoo.com, visit her website at www.sandrasookoo.com, or look her up on Facebook and Twitter. All links are provided on the front page of her website.

 

 

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Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson [BookBlitz]

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Mystery

Blurb

 

An eccentric Italian heiress from the Finger Lakes. An eighteen-year-old pop star from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Allison Campbell’s latest clients seem worlds apart in every respect. 

Rooted in Italian nobility, schooled abroad, the aging Francesca Benini is thrust into the corporate limelight when her brother suffers a stroke and she becomes the new head of Benini Enterprises.  Her family insists she decline the role, but Francesca, determined to leave her crumbling New York Finger Lakes mansion for the first time in decades, turns to Allison for help. 

Tammy “Swallow” Edwards is a newly discovered eighteen-year-old pop singer from Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Music producers see star potential, but the gangly, rough spoken Tammy must first transform from a swallow into a swan.  And that’s where Allison comes in.

When both clients disappear on the same day–and Allison’s business manager, Christopher Vaughn, is the last to have seen each–Allison races to find her clients and clear Vaughn’s name.  Her search uncovers an intricate web of family secrets, corporate transgressions, and an age-old rivalry that crosses continents.  The closer Allison gets to the truth, the deadlier her quest becomes.  All paths lead back to the sinister Benini estate and the suicide of a woman thirty years ago.  Allison soon realizes that the lives of two clients and the safety of those closest to her aren’t the only things at stake.

 

 

Excerpt

 

Clouds pressed in, painting the sky with a heavy coat of gray that matched Allison’s mood.  It was nearly six o’clock on Thursday evening.  Allison was unpacking her small overnight bag and placing her few belongings on padded hangers in the guest walk-in closet.  She had nothing formal for dinner, so her pink suit would have to do.  She hung up black pants and a cream blouse for tomorrow and carefully tucked her platform sling backs under a foot stool.  After a quick call to Jason, her ex-husband and current boyfriend, asking him to take care of her dog Brutus, she sat on the lounge chair in her suite and looked around.

True to Francesca’s word, the guest quarters were generous.  Two rooms–a bedroom and a study–flanked a full bath.  The bedroom was furnished with heavy antiques.  A four poster canopied bed, with down mattress, comforter and richly upholstered shams, stood against one wall.  On the opposite wall sat an ornate, carved dresser topped by a thick slab of champagne-colored marble.  A lounge chaise completed the bedroom.  All of the suite’s linens, bedding and fabrics wore a designer touch, with coordinating patterns of cream, butterscotch and brown.  The overall effect lent a comfortable charm to the decidedly masculine rooms.

But the bathroom was Allison’s favorite.  Nearly as large as the bedroom, it had two sinks, a bidet and a roman-style sunken bath that hinted at the wealth the Beninis must have once had.  Allison eyed the bath longingly.  No time for that now.

Leaning back in the lounge, Allison tapped her colleague Vaughn’s phone number.  Vaughn answered on the third ring.  “Guess where I am?” Allison asked.

“Hawaii?”

“Funny.  At the Benini estate.”

“Still?”

“Still.  I’ll be here until tomorrow.”  She gave Vaughn a quick rundown of her meeting with Francesca.  “She’s in a hurry to get started.”

“You’re staying at her house?  Isn’t that a little…weird?”

Allison laughed.  “Under normal circumstances, yes.  The Beninis have the room, though, and I could use the crash course in Benini culture if I’m going to work magic in such a short time.  I need you to do some things.”

“Name ’em.”

“We need to come back up and get her next Friday.  Do you think you can clear my schedule for next Saturday?  Maybe a portion of Sunday, too?  After that, find a few hours a day for the next two weeks.  And start to line up the gang.  Errol for hair, Natalie for make-up, Kenneth for voice and diction.  Call Neiman Marcus…try Annette for personal shopping.”

“So you want the works?”

“No nutrition, at least not for now.  But include Dr. Keith for a psych consultation.  Francesca may balk, but truthfully, she’ll need all the calm she can get.  Dr. Keith’s good at helping people deal with anxiety.”

“Got it.”

“Thanks.”  Allison thought through her intake checklist.  “What am I missing?”

“It’s not what, it’s who.  You received another urgent call today.  From a woman named Denise Carr.”

“Don’t recognize the name.”

“She manages musicians.  She’d like you to meet with her client, Tammy Edwards, next week.  She asked for today or tomorrow, but I explained that you were in Ithaca.”

“Why the urgency?”

“Tammy Edwards–she’s known as Swallow, how do you like that for a nickname?–will be on the next season of America’s Next Pop Star.  Heard of it?”

“Of course.  It’s one of those reality shows.  People sing in the hopes of becoming famous.”

“Yep.  According to Denise, Tammy was discovered by a music executive while singing a solo in her church’s choir during a wedding he attended.  He signed her on the spot and had her audition for this show.  She made it.”

“So why the image consulting now?  Isn’t it a little after the fact?”

“It’s all a little odd because Tammy already has a music contract.  But the show doesn’t prohibit it, and her manager thinks the show will be good exposure.  Denise–that’s the manager– says the kid has no stage presence.  That she was basically raised by wolves.”

Allison rose.  She walked to the window, parted the heavy drapes and looked outside.  The sky had darkened to a surly charcoal and although dusk was more than an hour away, it looked like night had fallen prematurely.

“Where’s she from?”

“Scranton.”

“What’s wrong with Scranton?”

“Nothing.”

Allison let the drapes fall.  “I’ve known you for a long time, Vaughn.  I can hear the hesitation in your voice.  What’s up?”

“Ignore me,” he said.  “Denise Carr just rubbed me the wrong way.  It’s nothing.”

Allison doubted it was nothing, but she knew Vaughn wouldn’t tell her until he was ready.  “So when did you get Tammy in?”

“Monday.”

“So soon?”

A weary sigh from Vaughn.  “’Fraid so.  You’ll get back tomorrow, you’re giving a speech at that business luncheon on Saturday and beginning on Monday, you start long sessions with Tammy Edwards.”

“Well, at least I have next Sunday night free.”

“Actually-”

“Uh-oh.”

“I had to reschedule your Recently Divorced group.  I made it for Sunday night.”

“Were the ladies okay with that?”

“I offered to refund their money, but they requested that timeslot instead.”

Allison laughed.  “Who likes to relax?”

“Relaxation is overrated.  Besides, you’re up there in the beautiful Finger Lakes.  Have some wine.  Enjoy the view.”

Lightening flashed outside.  Seconds later, Allison heard the distant rumble of thunder.  The lights in the suite flashed on and off.

“Sightseeing’s not in the cards.”  Allison glanced at her watch.  “Dinner in fifteen, then a session with Francesca afterwards.”  She closed the drapes as the lights flickered again.  “I’ll call you tomorrow when I’m on my way back?”

“Please.  And don’t let the ghosts get you.  I read something about the old Benini estate being haunted.  Someone died in that house.”

“Lovely,” Allison said.  She slipped her shoes on and looked around the room.  Shadows danced in the falling gloom.  “Ghosts I can handle.  It’s Francesca’s vultures I’m concerned about.”

 

 

Author Bio

 

Wendy Tyson is a corporate lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers.  She’s the author of three crime novels.  Her latest, DEADLY ASSETS, the second Allison Campbell mystery, was released on July 22wendy tyson.  The first Campbell novel, KILLER IMAGE, was named by Examiner.com as one of the ten best mysteries for book clubs in 2014.  She’s also written THE SEDUCTION OF MIRIAM CROSS.  Wendy lives near Philadelphia with her husband, three sons and two muses, dogs Molly and Driggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tax Cut by Michele Lynn Seigfreid [BookBlitz]

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Tax Cut

by Michele Lynn Seigfried

Blurb

“I saw him,” she said. “He handed an envelope filled with money to the tooth fairy.”

The ramblings of eighty-nine-year-old woman with dementia.  The government employees are used to her regular phone calls and dismiss the crazy old lady; but the new municipal clerk, Chelsey Alton, isn’t so sure the woman is off her rocker.  Something’s amiss in the Village of Coral Beach, a small, New Jersey shore town community, and Chelsey’s determined to find out what it is.

The former clerk of Coral Beach, Vinny Buttiglieri was murdered and dead bodies keep popping up all over town.  Between being a single mom to a temper tantrum throwing two-year-old, bosses who humiliate her in public, the dead bodies, and a man named Mike Nero that is stalking her, she has her hands quite full!

Chelsey recruits her good friend, Bonnie, a voluptuous woman with an off-color sense of humor, to assist her on a few recon missions. The deeper they dig, the more they put themselves in danger, becoming entangled with sinister mobsters, criminal activity, and government corruption.

Not everything is as it seems. Chelsey thinks she’s doing the right thing, trying to uncover the truth and protect herself at the same time, but can she save herself when she becomes entrenched too deep in this Jersey shore mystery?

Excerpt

I stopped by Take Ten and ordered a double espresso to go. From there, I drove to work and pulled in the parking lot. I looked in my rear view mirror to see how bad my dark circles looked. They were bad. I added some extra powder makeup to them and headed on inside. Bonnie had arrived before me. I passed by her desk and gave her a little wave as I took a sip of my coffee. In return, she rolled her eyes. I gave her that look, like what? She nodded toward Dingo’s office. I glanced in. He was sitting at his desk, picking toe jam out of his left foot. I looked back at Bonnie with a facial expression like, eww, then continued on my way. I didn’t have many dealings with Dingo, but from what I had seen of him so far, I didn’t like him much. He was a weirdo.

I spent the rest of the morning keeping busy with paperwork, while I intently watched the clock. I couldn’t wait for noon to roll around so I could go somewhere else and get some more coffee with caffeine in it. To my grave disappointment, those in charge of ordering coffee for the municipal building were only stocking decaf this week.

My phone rang. It was an interoffice call, except I didn’t recognize the extension.

“Hello.” I said.

“Nero alert!” Bonnie said.

“What? Where are you calling from?”

“The conference room. I can see Nero coming into the building from the parking lot. Run for your life!”

“Gotcha!” I said as I hung up the phone.

I darted out of my office and into the ladies’ room. I waited a few minutes and wondered how long I’d have to wait until the coast was clear. I might as well use the latrine while I’m in here, I thought. I entered the stall, lined the seat with a disposable seat protector, and sat down to do my thing. My tush no sooner hit the seat when I heard his voice.

“Hello? Chelsey? Hello?”

You have got to be kidding me! I thought as the blood boiled up through my veins.

“Chelsey? Are you in there?” I heard as the door began to crack open.

“Seriously? Seriously?” I screamed. I certainly can’t pee now, knowing that jerk is trying to come in here!

“Chelsey, it’s me. Mike Nero.”

“I know who the heck it is, and if you don’t get the eff out of here, I swear I’m going to march right down to the police department and have them lock you up for being a Peeping Tom!”

“All right, geez, calm down. You must be PMSing.”

That was the last straw. I pulled up my pants, slammed open the stall door and marched out of the bathroom, grabbing Nero by the ear and pulling him straight out of the building. I was fuming mad. The man was psycho. I couldn’t even pee in peace with him around. It was my breaking point, and I had had enough.

“Nero, I’m warning you, I am going to slap you with a restraining order, then I’m going to go to all the newspapers and tell them that you are a stalker. I imagine that won’t be too good for business.”

“Did you wash your hands in there? I didn’t hear the water running.”

“Nero! Concentrate! I…want…you…to…leave…me…alone!”

“Please,” Nero pleaded. “I have something important I wanted to tell you.”

Author Bio

Michele Lynn Seigfried is an award-winning novelist, children’s book author/illustrator and public speaker who was born and raised in Nemichele seigfriedw Jersey. In her mystery novels, she draws from her personal expertise in the area of municipal government, in which she has served for over 16 years in two different municipalities. She holds a B.A. in communication from the College of New Jersey with a minor in art. She obtained the Master Municipal Clerk certification from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks in 2010. She also holds the Registered Municipal Clerk certification and Certified Municipal Registrar Certifications from the State of New Jersey.  In combining her love of writing with art, Michele began writing and illustrating children’s picture books in 2013.

 

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Matt Archer: Redemption by Kendra Highley [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

 

Matt Archer: Redemption – Cover Reveal
By Kendra C Highley
Young Adult Paranormal
Date Published: July 3, 2014

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   “There’s more to me than you know…”
When Matt Archer’s sister, Mamie, said those words to him three years ago, he had no idea how prophetic they were, or what this would mean for his family.
Now, he knows. And it changes everything, bringing the war right to Matt’s doorstep.
In the epic conclusion to the Matt Archer series, the endgame is near. Betrayed by an enemy, the wielders have been called off the hunt by their own government, despite increasing reports of paranormal activity—and deaths—worldwide. Matt is forced to sit on the sidelines, knowing that proving monsters exist means revealing who—and what—he is. Soon the world will know his name…which will only make his job harder.
Matt’s only hope resides with a man he barely knows—his father. If Erik Archer can put together the final puzzle before the monsters do, maybe they’ll have a chance. Maybe.
Mystery, tragedy and the power of family combine as Matt races to win the war and save the people he loves. There’s just one thing he’s afraid of…
It might already be too late.
EXCERPT
        
When I was fourteen, I picked up a knife, ignorant of the destiny that awaited me. That night seems like a lifetime ago, even if it’s only been three years.
A lot of things can change in three years.
A boy can become a man. A man can become a soldier. And that soldier can witness things he’ll never forget. Earn scars that won’t fade. Cut down enemies. Save lives.
Lose them, too.
Through it all, I’ve tried to remember who I am, where the legend ends and the man begins. Not to lose myself to my blade-spirit and become a monster. Some days are harder than others. I’ve seen friends die in this war, injured myself, and nearly lost the girl I love more than anyone, all for the cause. The price for being named the guardian of humanity is high, especially when my own government is calling me a criminal.
Despite all the obstacles, despite the pain, one thing remains true: it’s still worth the fight.
My name is Matt Archer. And I’m going to save the world.
Or die trying.
* * *
Packed into a black government SUV with five other people on the way to a Congressional hearing wasn’t my idea of fun.
That it was my reality made it even worse. Especially since riding with these particular men gave me a migraine of epic proportion. Being in close contact with the other knife-wielders always caused me pain. It was better than usual—I’d gotten used to the sensation of overwhelming power somewhat. Still, not the best way to start this day.
My new suit wasn’t heavy, but a trickle of sweat ran down my back the closer we got to the Capitol and my tie felt like it was trying to strangle me slowly. If I’d had my way, I’d be going to the hearing in bloodstained BDUs and my oldest combat boots—the ones with African sand still on them. The House Armed Services Committee wanted to call me a hardened juvenile delinquent? Fine, at least let me look the part.
Everybody else—except Will—told me that was a terrible idea. So Mom and Aunt Julie took me shopping and wrangled me into the suit. Complete with shiny new wingtips.
I felt, and probably looked, very stupid.
“I heard CNN was going to carry C-SPAN live during the hearings,” Will said. He stared out the window with his shoulders bunched up around his ears. “Everyone in the world will know who we are after today.”
Everyone in the world would know…but how we’d be judged was the question. Would our accusers accept that everything we’d done was to protect and defend the defenseless? Or would we go down in flames, remembered by history as the very worst of violent offenders?
What worried me most was that the world wouldn’t learn the truth until it was too late: that the war wasn’t over. Pentagram Strike Force had been pulled off of active duty to participate in this political circus. Meanwhile, the Dark Master had gained a toehold in our world. The search for the Chinese shaman, our final lead—along with hunting the last two prime monsters—should’ve been our priority, and necessary to putting an end to the Master’s reign of terror. Instead we were here, sold out to Congress by the enemy’s favorite human servant.
As we made our way through the streets of D.C., Tink made a sullen noise in my head. I’ve never liked this place. Too many skeptics.
“Insulted some people don’t believe in you?” I asked, biting back a nervous smile. “Do we need to clap and bring you back to life?”
Will laughed, while Tink growled. The nickname is bad enough without the jokes, thank you very much.
The other wielders didn’t react. Parker was more pale than usual, and his freckles stood out like measles on his face. Ramirez glared out the window. Jorge had his hands folded in his lap and his eyes were closed, almost like he was praying.
“Anybody else coming to the party?” I asked.
“This is it, far as I know,” Parker said, the faintest hint of Alabama twang coming through. “We brought a couple of our guys as character witnesses, but they aren’t allowed to testify unless they’re called. So it’s just us.”
Ramirez flashed me a rare smile. “Murphy’s here.”
“I heard,” I said. “He’s driving my family over to the hearing.”
“He can’t wait to see you.” Now Ramirez was chuckling. “Said he’d watch as we do the walk of shame through the crowds at the Capitol.”
“Wait…crowds?” I asked. “What crowds?”
“Haven’t you been watching the news?” Parker raised an eyebrow. “That’s why we’re taking a caravan with draconian seating arrangements. They wanted the wielders to be the first out.”
“We gave up on watching the news a few days ago when that anchor on MSNBC called me and Matt ‘budding psychopaths,’ who’ve become trained killers,” Will said.
“You’re in for treat, then,” Parker said.
He wasn’t kidding. As we turned down First Street leading past the Capitol steps, people choked the sidewalks. Some had signs saying we were saviors. Some yelled that we worshiped Satan. Every single one of them watched the cars pass. We were sacrificial lambs, going to the slaughter, and it would all play out on television.
“This…is gonna suck,” Will said as an egg splattered against the SUV’s window.
“They can’t get near the entrance,” Johnson told him. “They have barriers holding everyone back.”
Yeah, because a little bit of plywood would be an excellent deterrent against mob violence.
We turned the corner on Independence, heading for the Sam Rayburn building. It was one of the House’s office buildings and where we’d have the hearing. You’d think the President was coming to visit, because we were led by a police car and followed by two motorcycle cops.
More people crowded the mall around the Capitol building and lined the streets all the way to our destination. Tink was jumpy, twitching around my skull. Instinctively, I reached for my knife handle, sheathed in my thigh pocket.
Ramirez’s eyes tracked the movement. “The knives have to stay in the car.”
“I thought they’d demand to see them,” I said.
“We don’t want members of Congress to get a hand on them, so the plan is to lock them up and leave them with Johnson.”
Being without my knife in tense situations usually caused me physical pain and leaving it behind sounded like torture. “But—”
“This is the only way we’ll be certain to get them back,” Ramirez said as he handed his knife to Johnson, looking as if it hurt to loosen the handle from his fingers. “General’s orders.”
We followed his lead. I set the blade in its metal box and locked it in. My head ached the instant contact was broken.
I’ll be nearby no matter what. You aren’t forsaken just because you aren’t wearing the knife, Tink said. All the same, don’t do anything stupid.
“Okay,” I murmured. Will whispered something similar and Captain Parker smiled at us. Instructions were universal sometimes.
A rap on the window announced the MPs’ arrival—military escort from the SUV to the hearing rooms. I didn’t know if that was for our protection, or to make us look more like criminals.
We slid out of the vehicle, all of us steely-eyed and standing erect. The MPs led us along the barricaded street. Cameras pointed our direction and reporters screamed questions. As of now, anonymity wasn’t a luxury I had anymore. Everywhere I looked, people were staring at us. I could almost hear the gasps of surprise zooming through Billings as our faces started showing up on television. Greenhill High was on fall break, but that only meant the news would travel faster.
The building itself was white stone, with two massive statues guarding the front door. Crowds of people surrounded them, pressed against the blue police barriers and jostling to get a better look.
As we headed for the stairs, someone shouted my name and the voice sent a shock wave through my chest. I stopped dead in my tracks and searched the crowd for the source, finding who I was looking for when I spotted a flash of auburn hair. I wasn’t sure how she’d gotten here…but I was sure she would be grounded for six months for coming.
Ella stood at the edge of the barrier, scowling at the MPs. I knew how she’d gotten such prime real estate—by holding a sign that read “No more monsters under your bed, courtesy of my boyfriend!”
Penn stood next to her, directing the crowd in a chant. Something about “stupid politicians.”
“What are they doing here?” I asked.
“No idea,” Will said.
Before the MPs could react, I ran for Ella. I heard Will pounding the pavement behind me, but she was all I saw. Ella dropped her sign and flung out her arms. We got in one long kiss before one my escorts put a hand on my arm.
“I can’t believe you came,” I told her in a rush.
She lifted her chin. “There’s no way I wouldn’t be here for you today.”
The MP’s grip tightened around my bicep. I dug my heels in. “I love you.”
A second MP had joined the first, tugging at my arms. As they dragged me away, she yelled, “I love you, too!”
The frenzy from the press got more chaotic, jostling to shove microphones in Ella’s face. The last thing I saw as the guards pushed me into the building was her granting interviews, looking like the queen of all she surveyed.
Our handlers led us to a small room off the hearing chambers. A few minutes later, my family showed up. My uncle and his wife, Colonel and Captain Tannen, came in first, followed by General Richardson. Not long after, Mom, Mamie and Brent arrived. Mamie looked anxious, twirling a pigtail around her finger, but Mom was angry. The night she’d found out about the hearings…well, I’d never seen her that pissed off, and her mood hadn’t improved much over the last few weeks. She paced the room, looking like she wanted to punch something really hard.
Once we were all settled, Army counsel gave us last minute pointers. Mom glared at him several times, finally saying, “Enough. You’re making them nervous.” She put her hand on my shoulder. “Tell the truth. That’s all you can do. Don’t let them twist your words.”
I would do my best, because I needed to focus on getting through the proceedings without slipping up. If I did, Uncle Mike, Badass Aunt Julie and General Richardson could lose their jobs. Or go to jail for endangering minors. Take your pick.
The general and Uncle Mike talked quietly in one corner, wearing their Class As. It was the first time since his wedding that I’d seen my uncle in full dress uniform. The large section of commendation ribbons on his jacket made him look impressive and I stared longingly at the uniform. I hated being in this suit. I belonged in uniform, but when I begged to enlist with Mom’s permission, no one had gone for it.
“You wouldn’t complete basic in time for the hearings,” Captain Johnson had said.
Mike had ground his teeth a full minute before adding, “Before he died, you promised Colonel Black you’d go to West Point. Stay the course and we’ll get you there.”
Mom’s answer was even simpler. “No.”
So here Will and I were, looking awkward in coat and tie, as if this was some joke of a graduation ceremony instead of a moment that would decide the fates of every single person in this room. I tugged at my collar, wondering if it would suffocate me before the hearing was over.
Mamie touched my hand. Brent loomed behind her, an ever present watchman to keep our sister out of harm’s way. Despite the gravity of our situation, she smiled. “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”
And so I was laughing when someone knocked. A House page about Mamie’s age stuck his head in. The guy eyed Will and me warily, then said, “I’m here to escort you to the proceedings.”
The general stood. “All right, gentlemen. Time to go.”
About the Author:
Kendra C. Highley

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Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most critical job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.
 
Author Links
 
  
 
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Dust to Dust by Karina Halle [Cover Reveal]

Dust To Dust Cover

Title: Dust To Dust (Experiment In Terror #9 )
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy
Release Date: July 29th, 2014

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About Dust To Dust (Experiment In Terror #9):

 

Dust To Dust CoverThe dramatic conclusion to the Experiment in Terror Series.

Perry Palomino and Dex Foray.

On their own, they’re uniquely brilliant. Together, they’re an unstoppable team.

Until now.

Because after everything the duo has encountered, they haven’t come across an evil quite like this. An evil that has been years in the making, an evil that will stop at nothing until they, and everyone they care for, are destroyed.

Dex and Perry’s love has survived a multitude of sins.

But can it survive the end?

 

The Experiment In Terror series by Karina Halle:

 

Book #1 — Dark­houseFREE

Book #2 — Red Fox


Book #2.5 –
The Ben­son (An Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Novella)

Book #3 — Dead Sky Morn­ing

Book #4 — Lying Sea­son
Book #5 — On Demon Wings

Book #5.5 — Old Blood (An Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Novella)

Book #5.7 — The Dex Files (An Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Novella)

Book #6 — Into the Hol­low

Book #6.5 — And With Mad­ness Comes the Light (An Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Novella)

Book #7 — Come Alive

Book #8 — Ashes to Ashes


About the Author

Karina Halle

 

With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term “Hybrid Author.” Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she’s a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA…whenever possible.

 

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiance and rescue pup.

 

Facebook | Goodreads | Karina‘s Website | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

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Ringmaster by Trudi Jaye [BookBlitz]

Ringmaster.v5FINAL_v2

 

Paranormal Romance

Date Published: May 28, 2014

 Blurb

Roll up! Roll up! Join us for the greatest show on Earth! 

The magical Jolly Carnival is the only life Rilla Jolly knows—and it’s all falling apart around her. Just as she’s thrust into the role of Ringmaster after her father’s unexpected death, an old family friend turns up to challenge her birthright.

Her rival’s sexy son Jack isn’t helping either. Despite being a greenhorn and an outsider, he’s intent on charming everyone, convincing them that Rilla isn’t up to the task. It’s not going to be easy to persuade the Carnival folk she’s still the best choice to lead them all.

But Rilla must also contend with another threat—the ongoing sabotage that has been disturbing their delicate magical balance and threatening to destroy the Carnival. All signs point to an insider, making it impossible to know who to trust.

To save her beloved Carnival, Rilla must do everything in her power to find the saboteur before they attack again—but if she takes her eye off the battle for Ringmaster for even a second, she risks losing the one thing she’s trained for her entire life.

 

Excerpt

 

CHAPTER ONE

The red-and-white tent roof shuddered in the wind and rain. Ropes and canvas flapped, as if Abacus himself were objecting to his final resting place.

Rilla swallowed hard around the lump that had been permanently stuck in her throat since she’d been told of her father’s death. All around her were Carnival folk, their heads tilted upward, tears running down many faces.

It couldn’t be true. Her larger-than-life father was limitless, unbeatable. Certainly not meant to die in a stupid car crash.

Over their heads, Missy crawled along the high-wire rigging toward the top of the massive tent. The silver of her leotard sparkled under the lights, and her long legs clung to the ropes with an elegance that hid powerful muscles. Every pair of eyes in the tent watched as she completed the tradition that had been started three hundred years before, by the nine original families.

The ashes of almost every member of the Jolly Carnival who’d passed on were contained in one of the two huge round tent poles. They literally held the very essence of the Carnival. And now her bright and brilliant father was another collection of ash in the Carnival tradition.

Barb squeezed her hand; Rilla glanced at her and nodded. It was Barb’s daughter Missy up there doing the final ceremony, and she was glad it was someone who’d loved her father almost as much as she did. Rilla looked around the tent, trying to memorize the people. Everyone was there, from the newest greenhorn to the oldest hand, crowded into the massive big top. She knew every face in the room.

Rubbing at the tears running down her face, Rilla felt her anger flare again. She’d been keeping it at bay, but every so often, it burned its way up her throat. She wanted to shout at someone, hit them, cry out at the injustice.

It wasn’t right.

A violin began to play a slow, haunting melody. The tune hit the chorus and she recognized it. She tried to smile. From her other side, Christoph’s muscular arm clamped around her shoulders, and she listened silently to the rest of the ABBA song that Viktor was playing in slow time.

The song was a lovely idea, but her father would have hated the slowness. He loved the speed of the tunes by the Swedish band. He’d always said the tents went up faster to the beat of “Mama Mia.” And he’d always preferred the nickname Abba to his full name Abacus.

“He wouldn’t want you to be sad, little one,” said Christoph as he gave her another squeeze with his massive arm.

She looked up at him and took comfort in his familiar lined features. He was the strongman of the Carnival in more ways than one. “I know. But it doesn’t help.”

“No, it doesn’t. Come, we should go now.” Rilla allowed Christoph to gently pull her toward the tent flaps that would take them away from the crowds of people. His mustache twitched, and she knew he was trying not to cry at the loss of his friend.

As they walked out, a flash of blue hair caught her eye. A man stood near a side entrance to the big top, his expression a strange mix of anger and excitement. His shock of blue hair stood at attention on his head, and he wore a black shirt with matching black trousers. A ripple of unease washed through Rilla. The stranger caught and held her gaze. Then he turned and disappeared out into the storm.

Rilla frowned. She opened her mouth to question Christoph, then closed it again. Her father knew literally thousands of people. He’d been a big, charismatic personality who’d lived his entire life on the circuit. There could be any number of people she’d never met who could claim a relationship with him.

The blue-haired man might have seemed out of place, but that didn’t mean he shouldn’t be there.

She glanced back up at Christoph as they neared the exit. For the first time, she noticed the grey hair mixed with the black on his head. Her father and Christoph had grown up together, lived their lives together. The big man had helped Abacus raise Rilla when her mother had left. He was going to feel the gap left by Abacus just as she did.

“Rilla, there’s a problem.”

“Pardon?” Rilla turned, trying to focus on the scruffy boy who’d stopped her. She blinked and recognized Joey, one of the younger runners.

“There’s a man. He says…” Joey trailed off as an older man strode past him, straight up to Christoph and Rilla. He pushed out his chin and glared at them both.

“My name is Blago Knight. I’m here to claim the title of Ringmaster.”

Rilla felt the world sway. If Christoph hadn’t been holding her up, she didn’t think she would have remained standing. The momentary confusion cleared and she blinked, looking at the man in front of her. Her gaze narrowed.

Who the hell did he think he was?

“You do realize this is my father’s funeral?” she said, her voice breaking in the middle. She cleared her throat and pulled herself together. She was the Carnival leader now.

“Of course I realize it, young lady. But it doesn’t change the fact that I demand to speak to the Nine. You must convene an emergency session.”

“You’ll have to wait, Blago. This isn’t the time.” Christoph’s voice boomed unnaturally loud. Every eye in the crowded room focused on Rilla and the stranger.

“I know the rules as well as anyone, Christoph. I have to announce my intentions to the Nine immediately or it’s too late.” He glanced at Rilla. “If you stand in my way, you forfeit your rights to the Ringmaster claim.”

Shivers raced across her skin as she stared at the old man in front of her. Bushy eyebrows covered bloodshot eyes, dark and fierce at their center. The lined face was surrounded by a seething mass of white, frizzy hair. He held a black cane in one hand and an old-fashioned bowler hat in the other.

How could he have a legitimate claim? She didn’t understand. She’d never even heard of him.

A knot of tension pushed against her temple, and a headache crawled across her scalp. She lifted one hand to her forehead and rubbed at it, trying to break up the pain that was bashing around inside her head. She just needed a moment to clear her head, time to think without this grief filling her up until she was ready to burst with the pain.

But rules were rules. “Come with me. It will be informal but enough to judge your claim and if you’re valid.”

“‘Course I’m valid. Just ask ol’ Christoph here. He’ll vouch for me.”

Rilla looked up at Christoph in shock.

Her oldest family friend nodded and she realized he’d used Blago’s first name a moment ago. Of course he knew him.

But how? And why had she never heard of this stranger? “Fine.” She looked around and gestured to the others in the Nine. They would meet immediately to determine his claim.

***

Rilla paced along the narrow aisle in her caravan, clenching and unclenching her hands. “How can someone I’ve never heard of have a claim? It doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Christoph lifted his head from his hands. “I’d never have thought…” He cleared his throat. “Abba… your father would never have expected him to come back. It was so long ago.” He lowered his head into his hands again and seemed to shrink into the small sofa in Rilla’s lounge area.

“What was so long ago? What is this all about?”

He looked up again, shaking his head. “He was in the show crew, probably would have been Showmaster instead of me if he’d stayed. But he was thrown out, thirty years plus three.”

“Thirty-three years?” Rilla stopped pacing. “Isn’t that…? He tried to stop a Gift?”

Christoph nodded. “Got himself and his family kicked out. Everyone back then was shocked, especially Abba. They were tight.”

“His whole family?”

Again, Christoph nodded. “Mother, father, sister—they all helped him. He fell for the Mark, interfered with her Gift.”

She’d been told, her father had drummed it into her, but she’d never really thought… The Carnival had thrown someone out? Left them behind to survive without the help of the group? “But surely…” She stopped when she saw Christoph shaking his head. “No wonder he’s pissed.”

“Listen, Rilla, he’ll have support from some of the older ones who’ve been rumbling that you’re too young to be Ringmaster and that you won’t be able to deal with the sabotage problem.”

“It’s not against the rules to be young.” She crossed her arms and glared at him. Her father hadn’t expected to die and leave her to run things at twenty-four years of age, but she was perfectly capable of doing it.

“No, just uncomfortable for some of the older ones to accept.” Christoph heaved a sigh and rubbed one hand over his forehead.

“And some of the younger ones.”

He shrugged. “You’ll just have to prove them wrong. You’ve been raised for this, Amaryllis Jolly. It’s your family name on the sign out front, your family that survived the wreck, and your father that’s been running the show for the last forty years. Don’t forget that.”

“I can’t forget it. But…” She rubbed her hand over her stiff neck muscles.

“Don’t doubt yourself, Rilla. This isn’t the time or place. You’re the acting Ringmaster until the Carnival chooses someone to lead. You’ve got an advantage and you need to use it. You need to prove to everyone, especially the Carnival, that you’re the right person for the job, and you’ve got to do it quick. Blago, he’s a smart man. He’ll take every advantage he can get.”

“How well do you know him?”

Christoph sighed. “He was one of the old gang. We were all tight when we were kids. But I’ve changed since then. Maybe he has too.”

Rilla took a deep breath. “The Nine accepted it pretty easily.”

“What else could they say? He’s legitimate, Rilla. Him and his son.”

“His son?”

“The fella that was waiting outside the tent. Tall, dark hair.”

Rilla shook her head. How could she have overlooked the son? It frightened her that she could have missed something so simple.

“Nah, he stood back. Let his da do the talking. Blago was raised Carnival. But the boy, he’s green and he looked it. That’ll count against him, no doubt there.”

Rilla nodded. Outsiders weren’t welcomed easily.

“Where are they now?” She had to plan, to figure out how she was going to fix this.

“In the food tent, where you should be.”

“I’ll get there.” It was her father’s funeral; of course she would be there. “How long do I have?”

“‘Til the end of our stay here. Three weeks. After that, we’re headed for the Compound with a new Ringmaster.”

Rilla nodded. Winter was almost on them; they were due a rest. “Has there been a Mark named yet?”

Christoph shook his head. “Maybe there won’t be. We’ll be busy dealing with this. Maybe the Carnival will give us a break.”

“We can’t count on it,” said Rilla. “Tell Joey to keep an eye out, and let me know as soon as something happens. We can’t lose focus just because we’re in the middle of a crisis.”

“Listen, Rilla, no one expects you to—”

“What? Do what I’ve been trained to do? This wouldn’t have stopped my father, and it won’t stop me.” Rilla banged her fist against the wall. Glass rattled in the ancient trailer, and she scowled. It might be the biggest trailer in the Carnival, but it sure wasn’t the newest.

“Christoph, what happened to the Mark he fell for?” she asked.

“Last I heard, Blago married her.”

 

 

 

Author Bio

  I’ve always loved books, and the stories they bring to life in my head. I’ve always had an overactive imagination as well, and distinctly remember sitting at the base of the big oak tree at school when I was a kid, building houses for the fairies, telling their stories as I went.

Born and raised in New Zealand, I have also lived in the UK, US, and Denmark. I love to meet new people; it’s a fantastic way to gain exposure to new ideas and cultures and, of course, to get story ideas.

For the last ten years I’ve been a magazine writer, and currently I get to write about innovative and cutting-edge research for a tertiary institution in New Zealand. It’s an inspiring job, talking to people about their passion, and I try to tell their stories in the Trudi picbest possible way.

I live in a secluded haven amongst the trees in Auckland with my lovely husband and cheeky three-year-old daughter. I enjoy yoga, although I’m not very bendy, and karate, although I don’t like the idea of hitting anyone. It’s about pushing my boundaries, and both those activities are physical, in a way that my work as a writer isn’t.

I’ve worked as a camp counsellor, a waitress, a checkout girl, a citizenship officer and an editor. But none of those jobs compares to being able to call myself a writer.

 

 

Links

 

Author Links

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Shadows of Damascus by Lilas Taha [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

NBtM Shadows of Damascus Banner copy

 

MEDIA KIT Shadows_of_Damascus_copy_2

 

Blurb

Bullet wounds, torture and oppression aren’t the only things that keep a man—or a woman—from being whole.

Debt. Honor. Pain. Solitude. These are things wounded war veteran Adam Wegener knows all about. Love—now, that he is not good at. Not when love equals a closed fist, burns, and suicide attempts. But Adam is one who keeps his word. He owes the man who saved his life in Iraq. And he doesn’t question the measure of the debt, even when it is in the form of an emotionally distant, beautiful woman.

Yasmeen agreed to become the wife of an American veteran so she could flee persecution in war-torn Syria. She counted on being in the United States for a short stay until she could return home. There was one thing she did not count on: wanting more.

Is it too late for Adam and Yasmeen?

Shadows of Damascus was released by Soul Mate Publishing on January, 2014.

  Excerpt

ADAM

Baghdad, Iraq

Summer 2006

M4 Carbine rifle ready, Sergeant Adam Wegener scanned the street, skimming from window to rooftop. Nerves on edge, his neck and shoulder muscles strained to keep him focused. His heart thumped against his ribs.

Patrol leader Lieutenant Clifton moved his troop with caution through the street, Adam’s fire team at the rear. They’d done street sweeps many times before, but this one was different. Something was not right. Apprehension took hold of his insides and squeezed tight with every step.

Adam turned and walked backwards a few steps, establishing eye contact with Corporal Scottsdale. He nodded at the big guy’s expressionless face, assurance at having Big Scott cover his back. He checked on the other two members of his team trailing his left, Corporals Andrews and Bradley, and faced forward again.

The neighborhood seemed unnaturally quiet. No children walked to school, no laundry hung outside windows on this breezeless day, not even alley cats explored the overflowing garbage containers.

From a corner of his eye, he caught a movement in one of the windows. Wood shutters slammed closed against the windowpane.

A loud boom burst the air. Adam hit the dirt, his head pounding the pavement. The world went silent. He spat blood mixed with something solid. Parts of his body armor and uniform had been ripped off, along with patches of skin. He rose to his knees, his hands searching for his rifle. Finding it, he clasped the rifle in his arms and crawled. He moved as if swimming in a viscous liquid, not knowing which direction to take. He saw only clouds of smoke.

He screamed the names of the soldiers in his team, not sure if his voice even worked. He couldn’t hear a damn thing. His elbow landed on something hard, a boot. He moved his fingers up the leather, across the twill fabric of the pants, until his hands sank in soft flesh and wetness. The man mumbled something, his voice muffled and distant.

“Big Scott, that you?” Adam shouted.

A shower of bullets rang by his side. Helmet gone, he ducked and covered his head. His ears popped from the pressure, jump-starting his hearing.

“Take cover.” Big Scott’s voice penetrated the sounds of warfare.

He scrambled to his feet, hoisted Big Scott on his shoulder, and dashed to the nearest house. He kicked the door and threw himself and Big Scott inside. Propping the injured soldier’s back to one wall, away from the windows, he snatched the M9 Beretta pistol from the holster mounted on his chest rig and forced it into Big Scott’s hands.

“Cover the door.”

Rifle raised and ready, he moved from room to room to secure the small house. He entered the kitchen, coming face-to-face with an old woman. Sitting motionless on a wooden chair, hands clasped on the Formica table in front of her, she stared down Adam’s raised barrel.

Keeping an eye on the wrinkled, tanned face, he scanned the kitchen. No place for anyone to hide, not even a closet door to check behind.

“Anyone else in the house?”

She held her stare, unflinching.

Adam tried to recall Arabic words he heard Fadi, the interpreter assigned to his patrol unit, say in situations like these. But he couldn’t recall a single one.

“Where’s your husband?”

The woman blinked. She craned her neck to one side, looking past him toward the front of the house. The white scarf covering her hair slipped down to her shoulders, revealing gray strands pulled back in a tight bun. She lifted the scarf and refastened it under her chin.

His hand shook. He aimed a loaded weapon at a woman the same age as his mother. Hell, she even resembled her.

“Rajul? Rajul?” Was that the right word for man? Why was she so calm?

The only point of entry was the door he came through. He heard heavy movement outside. The sounds of shouting men grew closer. The old mother could yell to alert the insurgents any second. He snatched a towel hanging on a hook to his left, and held his index finger to his lips, motioning for the woman to go with him to the front room.

She followed without uttering a sound.

Adam pointed his weapon for her to sit on the cement floor. He tore the towel into strips and kneeled in front of her.

Big Scott moaned. He slumped to one side, pistol aimed at the door.

“I got you, man. Have to secure the old mother first.” He used a towel strip for her hands and tied another around her mouth.

He turned to Big Scott, got his first aid kit out of a side pocket on his torn pants, and dug for supplies. He applied bandages to Big Scott’s bleeding midsection. Keeping pressure on the wound with one hand, he pulled the radio from his pack and reported to his platoon sergeant they were trapped inside one of the houses.

“Damn it, which one?” Lieutenant Clifton’s voice crackled.

“Don’t know. Scottsdale’s injured. It’s bad.”

“Andrews, Bradley?” The lieutenant screamed back.

“God damn IED was right under them. Can’t confirm.”

“Second platoon’s six blocks away. They’re en route and—”

A loud explosion silenced the radio. Cursing, he flung the radio across the room.

“Hang in there, big man. QRF’s on the way.” There was no way the Quick Reaction Force could come to their rescue if they didn’t know where they were.

“How long?” Big Scott’s voice came out calm, surprising him.

“Ten minutes.” He fumbled with more bandages. Could second platoon make six blocks in ten minutes? It was possible. “Stay with me. Think about that sweet girl you got back home. Sandy, right?”

He slumped beside Big Scott. Sticky stuff on his back squished. He closed his eyes, hoping to God the sensation resulted from an injury he hadn’t yet felt, rather than the blood and flesh of his missing team members splattered all over him. He needed to find a way to signal their location.

Big Scott clamped a charred hand on top of his. “Won’t make it.”

“The hell you won’t. Sandy’s waiting for you.” He pulled himself to his feet and approached the door. “You’d better not disappoint her.” If he opened the door and his patrol didn’t spot him, the insurgents would be alerted to their position, and that would be the fucking end. If he didn’t do anything, Big Scott would bleed out. He looked back at the corporal. His friend didn’t have much time. There was only one thing to do.

“We have to get out of here.”

He propped Big Scott on his shoulder and opened the door. Clouds of smoke blocked his view. Using the cover of smoke, he edged his way along the side of the house, unable to see a yard past his face. His foot stumbled over a chunk of cement, and he collapsed against the house, slumping down on the dirty street, overcome by how absurd this mission was.

A clomp of boots on the gritty pavement caught his attention. They were trapped. They could not fade into the concrete, not a car nor a bush to hide behind, and he didn’t have time to retrace his way back to the door. He aimed his rifle in the direction of the approaching boots and counted the steps. One man, probably a scout. Shots would draw others.

He slung the rifle across his chest and let it hang. Clamping a hand on Big Scott’s mouth, he stifled the soldier’s agonized moan. Adam stretched to full height, flattened his back against the wall, and pulled his knife.

Heavy fire erupted around them. Bullets shattered the wall to Adam’s left. He hit the dirt again. Big Scott’s limp body fell on top of him, pinning him down. Knife gone, he tried to push Big Scott off. Pain shot through his body like electricity. He doubled over and collapsed once more, trapping his rifle under him.

Leather boots slammed right next to his face. He wrapped his hand around the ankle and tried to topple the guy down.

“Don’t fight me, Adam. I’m here to helb you.”

“Fadi? That you Fadi?”

“Shut ub before zey hear us.”

Fadi took hold of Big Scott’s shoulders and pulled him into the house. He returned to Adam and dragged him until they were inside. He checked their injuries.

Multiple holes on Adam’s left side bled. Big Scott lay flat on his back, praying aloud.

“Clifton knows where you are now.” Fadi applied bandages to Adam’s leg.

He sucked in a sharp breath and tried to stay alert, his eyelids too heavy to keep open.

Fadi shook his uninjured shoulder. “Do what you always do to stay awake.”

Adam opened his eyes. “What?”

“Count, man. Count za bains. Double za number if zey were very bainful, half if zey were minor,” Fadi urged in his particular accent.

Adam’s mind kicked into counting mode. Shit, was he crazy?

“How’d you know where we were?”

“I heard za insurgents shouting to each ozer.” Fadi moved fast to administer the articles in his first-aid kit to Adam’s other wounds.

Crunching numbers didn’t do much to alleviate his pain, but the process helped him filter through Fadi’s heavy accent.

“At first I didn’t understand the words they were using for directions,” Fadi explained. “Arabic has two words to indicate left. One can mean north, depending on the dialect. I had to get closer to figure it out, and that’s when I saw you. Clifton was very mad. Didn’t want me to leave the team, but hey, I’m a contract interpreter, not one of his soldiers.”

The woman moaned from her corner. Fadi shot his head up and approached her.

“Who did this?”

“Needed to make sure she didn’t scream.” Adam tried to lift himself on his elbows. He groaned, the full force of deep searing pain setting in.

Fadi untied the woman’s mouth, released her hands, and spoke to her, his tone low and gentle.

“She’s an old woman, Adam. She’s trapped here just like we are. This is her home. No one and nothing is going to drive her out of it. You didn’t need to tie her up.”

“Not taking any chances.”

Scott’s praying voice disturbed rather than comforted Adam. He concentrated on breathing. Why couldn’t he just pass out and be spared this agony?

The woman placed her hands in her lap, flipped her palms upward and muttered something.

“What’s her problem?”

“She’s praying,” Fadi said.

“I didn’t hurt her. See what else you can do for Big Scott before I lose it.” Adam found it hard to formulate his words.

Fadi kneeled in front of Big Scott, tore a bag with his teeth, and spread its contents over his gaping wound.

Adam’s eyes darted between the old mother and Big Scott. Never hesitant Scott. Never questioning and never smiling either. Were they praying to the same God? Would He listen?

“Tell her I’m sorry I tied her up, will you?”

“Itlaa barrah balady,” the woman responded to Fadi.

“What the hell did she say?”

“She wants us to leave.”

“We wouldn’t be here if her people hadn’t planted that Goddamn IED. Tell her that.” Adam spat blood.

“She meant leave her country.”

Darkness closed in on Adam, the bliss of unconsciousness threatening to take over. He closed his eyes.

“I’m okay with that . . .”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author Bio

Lilas Taha is a writer at heart, an electrical engineer by training, and an advocate for domestic abuse victims by choiceMEDIA KIT Lilas_Taha. She was born in Kuwait to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father, and immigrated to the U.S. as a result of the Gulf war in 1990. She earned a master’s degree in Human Factors Engineering from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. There, Lilas met her beloved husband and true friend, and moved with him to Sugar Land, Texas to establish a family. She is the proud mother of a daughter and a son. Instead of working in an industrial field, she applied herself to the field of social safety, working with victims of domestic violence.

Pursuing her true passion for creative writing, Lilas brings her professional interests, and her Middle Eastern background together in her debut fictional novel, Shadows of Damascus.

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Dying for a Living by Kory M. Shrum [BookBlitz + Guest Post + Giveaway




On the morning before her 67th death, it is business as usual for Jesse Sullivan: meet with the mortician, counsel soon-to-be-dead clients, and have coffee while reading the latest regeneration theory. Jesse dies for a living, literally. As a Necronite, she is one of the population’s rare 2% who can serve as a death replacement agent, dying so others don’t have to. Although each death is different, the result is the same: a life is saved, and Jesse resurrects days later with sore muscles, new scars, and another hole in her memory.

But when Jesse is murdered and becomes the sole suspect in a federal investigation, more than her freedom and sanity are at stake. She must catch the killer herself—or die trying.

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Guest Post

 

10 favorite books of all times

An impossible task! But here is a good sampling:

1 Empress by Shan Sa
2 A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
3 Here by Wislawa Szymborska
4 Dune by Frank Herbert
5 The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
6 Averno and/or The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck
7 On Writing by Stephen King
8 Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton
9 Emma by Jane Austen
10 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kory M. Shrum lives in Michigan with her partner and a ferocious guard pug. When not writing, she can be found teaching, traveling, and wearing a gi. Her poetry has appeared in North American Review, Bateau and elsewhere. Her first urban fantasy novel Dying for a Living  is now available on Amazon, as well as her short story, Dive. She’d love to hear from you on Facebook, G+, her blog, or Twitter.

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Kane’s Bounty by A.S. Fenichel [BookBlitz]

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Kane’s Bounty & Joshua’s Mistake

By: A.S. Fenichel

 

Kane's Bounty

 

 

Blurb

Kane’s Bounty, Released May 8th, 2013

 

Telepathic bounty hunter Kane has one rule—never get involved with a fugitive.

It’s a simple assignment with good money at the end. Picking Lena up is no problem. Protecting her when her ex-husband, mercenaries and another bounty hunter threaten her turns into the fight of their lives.

Together, the Stones of Adeline and Lena are powerful magic. She never considered the complication of the sexy bounty hunter and her undeniable desire for him. Their paranormal bond will need to be strong if they’re to survive together.

Excerpt

The overcrowded bar didn’t stop Kane from spotting his mark the moment she walked in. Even if he hadn’t seen her picture, her nervous demeanor would have given her away. It was too crowded to get a psychic read on her, but there were other ways to find a fugitive.

The mug shot hadn’t done her justice. Lena Cruz could stop traffic. Her curves were exactly the kind a man liked to run his hands over and other body parts came to mind too. Her dark hair just touched her shoulders and those bright hazel eyes darted nervously to every corner of the room.

She even looked at him for a second or two. He smiled and moved to lift his glass in her direction, but her focus shifted before he had the chance. He followed her gaze to the corner of the room.

“John Porter,” Kane mumbled. He had to make an effort to relax his grip on the glass before he ended up with a hand full of Jack Daniels and cheap glass. He shrugged and downed the remaining whiskey before getting up and moving to a barstool that was closer and had a better view of the corner. Porter wasn’t alone. He had a couple of his bodyguards with him and a blonde wearing too much makeup.

The band finished their set and the crowd noise lulled for a few seconds.

“It’s nice to see you, Lena,” Porter said. He stood and kissed her cheek.

“I need your help, John.”

Porter’s eyes darted around the bar. “You shouldn’t—”

The jukebox kicked on, and Kane couldn’t hear the rest of their conversation.

It made no difference. She was a mark, no more, no less. He was hired by the bail bondsman to pick her up and bring her in. What she was doing talking to a notorious money launderer was irrelevant.

He’d wait. No need to tip off Porter. Someday he might have to pick the scumbag up and he didn’t want to blow his cover. He signaled the bartender and ordered another Jack on the rocks.

Something niggled at the back of his senses. The atmosphere changed and a familiar mind slipped into his consciousness. “Wade, NO!”

The words were not out of his mouth before Shamus Wade torpedoed through the crowd and crashed into Porter’s table.

Kane was on his feet. He didn’t move forward. Interesting distraction.

All three men and the blonde who was sitting with them stood up as drinks splashed in every direction. Lena stood gape-mouthed, and Wade grabbed her arm. He stood a full foot taller than her and probably outweighed her by a hundred pounds, but she pushed at him and slapped his face. Wade’s beady eyes narrowed. Closed-fisted, Wade punched her in the head.

Mistake. Kane took a step toward them to get a better position and wait to see how the situation played out.

Wade’s head spun around, sensing Kane for the first time. When their eyes met, Kane just smiled and shook his head at the ill-laid plans of the other hunter.

The crowd went dead silent. The music screeched to a stop. Lena looked dazed for a moment and then her knees began to buckle.

Wade sensed the change in the focus of the crowd. Men and women alike were glaring at him and moving closer. “It’s okay, folks. This is my wife. We’re just heading home now.”

The bartender had already dialed 911. Kane could hear the conversation behind the bar. A woman with colorful full-sleeve tattoos, flanked by two enormous men, stepped forward. “I don’t care if she’s your momma. You ain’t going anywhere with that woman. We don’t care for men who beat their women around here.”

“It was just a little misunderstanding. Right, Lena?” Wade looked scared as the crowd moved in on him. Kane felt the building tension and rage in the bar. Anger and fear pulsed in the room, creating a dull ache in the back of his skull. He was sure Wade could feel it too and it was the cause of the hunter’s fear.

Wade still clutched Lena’s right arm tightly.

Lena’s eyes rolled back in her head and she leaned against Wade, forcing him to release her arm and grab her around the waist.

Kane moved in another two steps and sidled off to the left. The crowd pushed forward and Wade pulled his handgun. He waved the Remington 9mm in the direction of the crowd.

Mistake two.

John Porter and his associates bolted for the back door as soon as the weapon came into view.

Kane rushed in just as the two large men and the tattooed woman charged Wade. Lena slipped from his grasp and the gun hit the floor. Kane closed the gap, threw Lena over his shoulder and headed for the back door.

He heard as much as sensed the change in the crowd as the fight started. Kane didn’t know how long it would take the police to arrive or if Wade would get away before that happened. He had to get her to a safe place. He could take her to local law enforcement for extradition in the morning.

The rear exit led out to a narrow alley. Before they’d reached a hundred feet from the noisy bar, she pounded on his back. “Put me down.”

“That was a fine performance, Lena. Why don’t you continue with the knocked-out act for a few minutes more?”

 

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Joshua's Mistake

 

Blurb

Joshua’s Mistake, Released March 28th, 2014

 

Accused of treason and the murder of her Psychic Special Forces team, Tessa is in the custody of the FBI. She’s shocked and terrified when the most powerful Psi Agent in the world shows up to probe her mind and discover her guilt or innocence.

Joshua never expected to find a victim of one of his probes attractive, but he can’t seem to leave her behind when all hell breaks loose. Saving the stunning blonde means being drawn into a psychic war that will definitely end his career—and likely both of their lives.

The rhythm of their psychic auras hums to perfection and neither can fight the bond, but it’s all ripped away by a madman with a grudge. Tessa falls into a coma, and Joshua will have to risk his heart and soul to pull her back from the brink.

 

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About the Author:

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books A.S. Fenichelhave always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in both erotic and historical romance, A.S. has 5 books currently available and three more under contract with Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.

 

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Vengeance is Mine by Harry James Krebs [BookBlitz + Giveaway]


Driven by a traumatic, violent event in his teenage years, Benjamin Tucker, bestselling true crime author, is obsessed with helping authorities solve savage crimes near his home turf of Holly Springs, North Carolina. When a series of decapitated female victims is found in neighboring communities, he is helplessly drawn in to the investigation to help bring the killer to justice. But in a bizarre twist of events, the psychopathic murderer becomes fascinated with Tucker and stalks him, presenting him with unimaginable, grotesque gifts. The hunt for the killer turns personal and Tucker isn’t sure if he’s become the killer’s idol or his next victim.

Vengeance is Mine, a gripping thriller with a healthy dose of droll humor, is a tale of sadistic revenge guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

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About Harry James Krebs
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After receiving his BA in applied physics from Aurora University in Illinois, Harry spent thirty-seven years with United States Department of Energy Contractors as a senior mechanical engineer. He designed, built, maintained, and operated large experimental detectors for high-energy physics experiments at national laboratories such as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Superconducting Super Collider, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University.

Krebs always wanted to write mystery novels, but his engineering career left him little time to write until now. His first novel, Fractured Persona, is based on a recurring dream where he would wake up in someone else’s body and life.

The author and his wife currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina with their Chihuahua, Lucille.

Click HERE for Peak City Publishing

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Cold Sacrifice by Leigh Russell [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

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Title: Cold Sacrifice

Author: Leigh Russell

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Crime/Detective

Publish date: April 29th

Publisher: WitnessImpulse an imprint of HarperCollins

Event Organized: Literati Author Services

~Synopsis~

When three dead bodies are discovered in Detective Ian Peterson’s hometown of Kent, it becomes clear that a vicious killer is on the loose.And without his trusted colleague, Detective Geraldine Steel, by his side Ian’s left to take the lead on a complex murder case with few clues.

The first victim is a middle-aged woman named Martha brutally stabbed to death in the local park. Her husband, who does not report her missing, is the prime suspect until a young prostitute, Della, reveals his whereabouts the night Martha was murdered. But then she is strangled to death in her apartment. While the police are frantically gathering evidence and looking for a connection, a second prostitute is suffocated.

With nothing but the timing of the murders to tie the three women to each other, Ian and his new partner, Polly Mortimer, struggle to make sense of the case and find the elusive killer before he strikes again. But, by the time Ian realizes the truth, it may be too late to save Polly.

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About the Author

Leigh Russell photo leigh_russell_zpsb2104a85.jpg
LEIGH RUSSELL is described as “a brilliant talent” by Jeffery Deaver. CUT SHORT (2009) was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award for Best First Novel. Road Closed (2010) was listed as a Top Read on Eurocrime. With Dead End (2011) Leigh’s detective Geraldine Steel was Number 1 on amazon kindle’s bestseller chart for female sleuths. Leigh Russell is the award-winning author of the Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson mysteries. She is an English teacher who lives in the UK with her family.

Connect with the Author: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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A Sinister Obsession by S.B. Redstone [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

 

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Title:  A Sinister Obsession

Author:  S. B. Redstone
Published:  August 2013
Publisher:  Black Opal Books
Word Count: approx. 94,000
Genre:  Mystery Thriller
Content Warning:  Violence and Sexual Content
Recommended Age:  21+
A psychopathic killer on a quest leaves behind a string of brutal murders, and to find the Who, the police must first discover the Why…
Detective Aubrey McKenzie has been assigned to investigate the murders. A lovely, fabulously wealthy, dark-haired Scot, whose iron will was forged in the inferno of human tragedy, Aubrey is stymied by the lack of solid clues. Now she must rely on her paranormal ability to apprehend the killer—an ability that has been invaluable in her police work but has made a disaster of her social life.
Fate teams Aubrey with Detective Joshua Diamond, a handsome, talented, and compassionate man who is more than happy eating a greasy bacon-cheeseburger and wearing clothes that should have been thrown out with the trash. In a race against time, Aubrey and Joshua must overcome their vast differences—and their attraction for each other—and discover the identity of this elusive killer, and the quest this fiend is on, before more lives are destroyed.
 
Excerpt

 When Aubrey arrived home, she glanced at her answering machine. There was one message. Since she didn’t have friends, she knew who it was. She pressed the button and heard that cold, authoritative voice. “Aubrey. This is your mother. I am reminding you of Randal’s birthday party tomorrow night. He would be quite disappointed if you did not make an appearance. The time—”

 Aubrey quickly pushed the delete button. She hated being reminded of times and dates by her mother, as if she was a forgetful child. It pissed her off.

After taking a hot shower, she slipped into green satin pajamas. Sitting in her entertainment room, watching the late evening news, she sipped 1981 Armagnac Cames Brandy and ate crackers with brie.

Nearing three in the morning, Aubrey turned off the television, and went into bed. In the darkness, she obsessed about the murder case, feeling a rising anger toward this heinous criminal. Her last conscious thought before falling asleep brought a smile to her face. She knew the perp had failed to take one essential factor into consideration before deciding to perpetrate the crime. A factor that he didn’t predict, and in fact, couldn’t have predicted. And that factor would eventually lead her to discover his identity and get a conviction. He didn’t know I’d be assigned to the case!

 

Author Bio
Sinister Obsession Author photo SB-Redstone.jpg
I write under the name S. B. Redstone. I began my career, after graduating from Hunter College, as a caseworker for the New York City Department of Social Services, Protective Services, investigating the horrors of the abuse and neglect of children. After attaining master’s degrees in Social Work and School Psychology, and then completing a post-graduate education in Psychoanalytic Therapy, I became a School Psychologist in the New York City Department of Education and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in a private therapy practice on Long Island, treating adults, adolescents, children, and couples. Always striving to improve my understanding of human nature, I researched and then wrote a personal improvement book, Taming Your Inner & Outer Bullies: Confronting Life’s Stressors And Winning, which offers remarkable insights into behavior, societal institutions, and relationships. I have written articles on the web concerning human nature, relationships and the abuses of societal institutions, given lectures, and appeared on radio shows.
Always having a vivid imagination and a desire to write fiction, I developed my writing skills by becoming a successful writer of short stories, all of which have been published on the web and in print. As an expert in the field of human psychology, I have been able to develop realistic characters from the dark side of human nature where my villains don’t aspire for happiness through personal achievement, but rather from their demented narcissistic schemes. Many of my characters have been taken from my clinical experiences and interesting people I know. I love romance in my stories. It is an essential element in my mystery thriller A Sinister Obsession and horror novel. Now that I am obsessed with writing “senior” romances, it has become further developed and heartfelt. I have two seeking publication at this time. I am a member of the International Thriller Writers Organization and Romance Writers of America.
 
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