Spotlight/Excerpt: Divine Justice Series, by Mary Abshire 1

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Description:

The demon population is growing out of control and vampires are mankind’s best hope for survival.

Divine Syndicate’s top field agent, Anna, hits the streets with her partner to locate the master demon responsible for the increase in possessed humans. But finding the person won’t be easy. The city is in a state of disarray with crime, poverty, and drug use at an all-time high. While Anna and her partner search for the master, they encounter more trouble than expected. As defenders of the human race, vampires want to save lives and exorcise the demons to send them back to Hell for good. Anna fears the worst is yet to come when demons aim to destroy the best protectors for all species. She’ll stop at nothing to prevent evil from ruling on Earth.

Excerpt:

Glenn parallel parked two blocks from the club. “What’s your plan?”

“I’m going to go in and find a spot at the bar. I want you to wait a minimum of five minutes before you walk in. Pretend you don’t know me. I’ll get a couple of drinks, show the picture, ask if anyone knew Jamal, and see what happens. And don’t worry, if they ask my relationship to Tim, I’ll say he was my brother and I took the photo while he was sleeping.”

“So you’re not going to create a scene or start a fight?”

“I will do my best to keep the situation calm. But if someone is going to try to intimidate or touch me, I’m going to defend myself.”

He grinned. “Do you want me as backup?”

“Yes. Right now I don’t know who is innocent and who isn’t. I need another set of eyes scanning people. But if I leave, don’t follow right away. Someone might be watching and I don’t want us to be seen together.”

“Are you carrying?”

“Have you ever known me not to?”

“No.” He smirked. “I’ll wait here for a while.”

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Tracker-Divine-Justice-Book-ebook/dp/B071FKQQPZ/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1495985055&sr=1-3

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Description:

While the Divine Syndicate is working to prevent an outbreak of demons, vampires are disappearing and turning up as corpses.

The Union of Justice is known for tracking and serving justice on vampires. With the increase in departed vamps spiraling out of control, the UoJ’s top field agent, Zale, and his partner must switch from their normal job to investigate the remains of destroyed vampires. Identifying those responsible is proving to be a big challenge. Zale needs the assistance of the vamp community, only they have their own idea of ending the bloodshed. They want to kill demons. But murdering humans, possessed or not, is against the law. Complicating matters, neither vampires nor the UoJ trust each other. Mankind’s future is dependent upon vampires and vice versa, but both are at stake as the demon population grows. Zale will do anything to save lives and end the madness, even if it means working with the one species he’s chased his entire career.

Excerpt:

“There are always casualties in war,” Gordon said. “No one wants to kill an innocent, including vampires. I’m sure they have plenty of guilt for their actions weighing on their consciences.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m certain they don’t want to take life from anyone. You should ask one sometime if you don’t believe me.”

“I respect your opinion. You’ve seen and lived through more than I have. But it’s difficult to find anything good about them when I’m constantly hunting down those who have killed humans.”

“Trust my words, the majority of vampires are moral and they are here to defend us from evil. If demons wipe them off the face of the Earth, we will be doomed. Demons will come for us and the rest of the non-human population. Humanity will have lost.”

A world filled with evil, hate, and murder was not one Zale cared to live in. He’d seen enough death and chaos from the last outbreak and never wanted to see another.

“We can’t let that happen.” Zale gave a single shake of his head. “I won’t let that happen.”

About The Author:

Mary is a romantic at heart and a lifetime lover of the paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction. When she’s not working or binge watching television, she enjoys creating fantastical stories with vampires, demons, werewolves, angels, and/or other supernatural creatures. She often adds mystery and suspense to spice up her books. For the most part, she lives a quiet life in Indianapolis. She aspires to become a full time writer one day. She also hopes to meet a vampire, werewolf, or angel who will sweep her off her feet. Hey, a girl can dream. And Mary does.
Author Links:

www.facebook.com/MaryAbshire.Author

www.goodreads.com/maryabshire
twitter.com/maryabshire

For latest news and special deals, sign up for her newsletter: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/k0i2e8

Other books available by Mary:

Heaven Sent Series: Divine Justice series:

First Kill Demon Hunter

Second Demon Demon Tracker

Third Love Crisis Alert (available Aug 22)

Fourth Fight

Fifth Regret

Sixth Surprise

Seventh Heaven

Soul Catcher Series:

Claiming the Evil Dead

Catching an Evil Tail

Fighting Evil

Love Conquers All Evil

Freedom From the Evil Dead

The Evil Next Door

Project Eve Series:

The Awakening

The Quest

 

Spotlight: Forbidden Addiction (Forbidden Series Book Four), by R.L. Kenderson Reply

Description:

With a tortured past, she’s a cat-shifter who refuses to get close to anyone. Yet she can’t seem to resist the leader of the vampire protectors.

Phoenix Kaplan has never felt a connection like the one she has with Dante Leonidas. She might service him monthly, allowing him to feed from her blood, but as much as her body tells her differently, she knows it can be nothing more, not with her insecurities and inability to be intimate with a male.

That is, until she realizes the one thing she desires most in the world is something he can give her…and she propositions him to impregnate her.

She’s never wanted anything more than to be a mother, and all she needs is this one thing from Dante.

Although he should refuse, Dante can’t resist the temptation. He’s addicted not only to her blood, but also to the enigma that is purely Phoenix. And he is determined to prove to her that he can give her much more than what she asked for.

She might protect her heart with an impenetrable wall, but he’s willing to do whatever it takes to break down that wall in order to get what he desires most in the world.

Excerpt:

Dante Leonidas raised his head from the map spread out on his desk from where he’d been studying it when he heard the rap at his door.

Phoenix.

Usually, he prepared himself before she arrived, but he’d been so lost in thought that he didn’t notice her scent or her presence, despite her blood in him. He cursed himself for not paying attention, but it didn’t really matter. He’d never be truly equipped to see her.

“Enter,” he called out.

The entrance to his office opened, and Phoenix slipped through before closing the door behind her.

Dante held his breath as the aroma of sunshine flooded the room, but it was too late. Her scent teased his nostrils, and suddenly, his pants were too tight as his cock hardened under his fly. He had to reach down and adjust himself under the desk before the painful position caused him to wince. Males always talked about having big dicks, but honestly, it wasn’t that great. It could really be a pain in the ass sometimes. No pun intended.

“Hey,” the beautiful cat-shifter said as she approached his desk.

She was sans makeup with her long red-and-black hair in a ponytail while she wore her usual outfit of shapeless clothing. Today, it was a sweater and jeans. But, despite her baggy attire, Dante could still make out her curves underneath. It didn’t hurt that he’d seen her without her clothes in the past. Picturing her naked didn’t help his hard-on.

She glanced down at the Minneapolis/St. Paul area map that he’d been reviewing before she entered. “What are you looking at?”

He pointed to the Xs he’d made in red. “I marked all the incidents on the list in hopes that maybe a pattern or something would jump out at me.” Dante threw the pen he held on top of the map as he leaned back in his chair and exhaled his frustration. “So far, it’s been a bust.”

Over the last few months, crimes had been happening to vampire and shifter residences and places of business. It wasn’t like the paranormal community was immune to crime, but the unusual part about it was how they were all coming in pairs. Whatever happened to a vampire-owned place, the same thing would happen to a shifter-owned place. The first incident had been graffiti at a vampire-owned restaurant on the same night a shifter-owned restaurant was hit. It was an obvious message to both vampires and shifters. The latest incidents were fires started at vampire- and shifter-owned homes with an hour of each other. The worst part of the entire situation was that the human police were starting to notice.

Phoenix came around to his side of the desk and leaned over to read the map and his notes. Her baggy pants hung on her hips, but when she bent over, they stretched across her ass, and Dante had to fight not to ogle her. His erection got harder, if that was even possible, and he fought his desire to pull her into his lap, strip off her clothes, and bury himself inside her.

But that would never happen.

Despite the fact that she was there to feed him, they were not in a romantic or sexual relationship. Dante didn’t know all the details about what had happened to Phoenix in her past, but he knew she had been traumatized. So, while he usually had sex with the females he fed from, the only thing he’d be sinking inside her were his fangs. His little head didn’t get it, but his big head did, and he wasn’t going to add to her issues. For now, feeding from her and being her friend was enough. But, damn, this celibacy thing just might kill him.

Maybe, someday, he would tell her how he felt about her, but today wasn’t that day. She wasn’t ready to hear it.

Turning his thoughts back to the task at hand, he asked her, “Have you guys come up with anything?”

She spun around and sat on the edge of the desk, the emerald greens of her eyes filled with vexation. “No. Are you coming to the meeting tomorrow?”

“Yes, we’ll all be there.”

“That’s good.” She nodded her approval. “One of the wolf-shifter sentinels is an officer in the Minneapolis Police Department. Damien told Vance that the sentinel would fill us in on what the humans knew.”

The wolf-shifter alpha was really proving himself to the cat-shifter alpha. Damien wasn’t going to let the newly healed bond between the two subspecies get fractured again, it seemed.

Dante furrowed his brows. “You don’t have any cat-shifters in the police force?”

“Yes, we do, but none of them are sentinels. They give us information, but we don’t share what we know back with them. It’s a good idea, what Damien did, having someone working both angles. I just hope Vance doesn’t make one of us sign up for the police academy.” She made a face of disgust. “At least, I hope it isn’t me.”

Dante chuckled. “Humans aren’t that bad.”

She looked at him like he was crazy. “Humans aren’t that bad? The same species that traditionally comes at your species with a stake through the heart?”

“Pretty sure none of the members of the St. Paul Police Department are carrying stakes.”

“No, just guns.”

He laughed again. “I suppose you have a point.”

“So, does that mean you have vampires on the force? How does that work with the sun thing?”

“Of course we do. They enter the academy before their conversion, and after, they work the night shift.” Dante frowned. “Although I never thought to have one of the Guardians work for us and the police at the same time. It is smart.”

The conversation stalled, and silence fell over the room. Their eyes met, but neither moved.

The knock at the door broke the quietness, and Dante looked at the bare skin on Phoenix’s neck. “Come back later. I’m busy.”

He swiveled his chair to face her and opened his legs. “Come here, Red.”

Book Three

Available For Purchase On:

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Amazon UK

Description:

Since one fateful evening at a nightclub, Kenzie Swanson and Sawyer Lennar have shared an undeniable attraction. They’ve had moments where they couldn’t ignore their desires, succumbing to their needs, and Sawyer has marked Kenzie in a way that no other man can.

But there is one problem that continues to keep them apart.

As a cat-shifter with a traumatic past, Sawyer hates humans—and Kenzie is all human.

Sawyer’s hatred pushes Kenzie away, and they try to maintain their distance from each other—until they are mistakenly kidnapped and have to act as a couple. When the unforeseen happens, Kenzie can only do so much to deny herself from being intimate with Sawyer.

Given a chance at what might have been, Sawyer and Kenzie are forced to face the forbidden temptation to be with one another.

Excerpt:

She stared down at Sawyer, asleep in her lap. He looked so peaceful, and she felt a little bad that she would have to wake him. She brushed his tawny hair off his face and neck before picking his head up and softly setting it down on the edge of the driver’s seat.

She climbed out of the vehicle and opened the door to the house, so there wouldn’t be anything in their path from the car to the house once she woke him.

She opened the passenger door and poked his leg. “Sawyer. Sawyer.”

Nothing.

This time, she shook his arm. “Sawyer.”

Still nothing.

She leaned in and shook his shoulders.

Nothing again.

Finally, she reached into the car and lightly smacked him on the face while trying not to fall on top of him. “Sawyer, wake up.”

“Mmm.”

“Sawyer, you need to wake up, so I can help you into the house. It’s cold out here.”

No response.

She went back around to the driver’s side since his head was lying on the driver’s seat. She sat down on the outside half and gave him a few more pats on the face since that had seemed to get a response out of him. “Sawyer, you need to get up. Now.”

“Mmm,” he muttered again. This time, he turned his head toward her and mumbled a word that sounded like make or Nate.

“You big oaf, will you please get up?” she hissed.

He opened his eyes.

Finally. Apparently, calling him names had worked.

She leaned her head over, so he could see her better. He looked at her with his amber eyes and smiled, as in an everything-is-hunky-dory-and-life-is-good kind of smile. Sawyer rarely smiled and never a smile filled with such happiness and contentment. And he certainly didn’t smile at her.

Something wasn’t right.

She tried to see his pupils since he had been drugged and knocked out, but the garage was too dark to assess them.

“Hey there, big guy. Can you get up for me, so we can go into the house?”

“Sure,” he said with a dopey smile, still lying there without even attempting to get up.

Sure? Now, she knew something was wrong.

This was not the Sawyer that she knew. Sawyer was not passive. Sawyer was not cheerful. And Sawyer certainly did not agree with anything she said.

The sooner she got him into the house, the better.

“Okay, big boy, let’s get you up.”

She exited to go to Sawyer’s side of the vehicle again. As she walked around to the open passenger door, he stared at her the whole time through the windshield, almost as if he were in a daze. He was starting to creep her out a little because he was never like this.

When she reached him, she got his legs out of the car and grabbed his hands. “I’m going to help you sit up. On the count of three, you push, and I’ll pull, okay?”

“Okay,” he answered.

She wasn’t sure if he’d even heard what she said.

“Okay.” She nodded. “One, two, three, and go!”

She yanked on his arms, hard, and it appeared that Sawyer was trying to help, but holy shit was the man heavy. She got him into a sitting position, and his feet were on the ground, but it hadn’t been easy. It took another ten minutes to get him into the house, and despite the cold garage, she had started to break a sweat.

“Let’s go to the couch,” she told him.

Thankfully, it was cleared off. Her brother was a bachelor, and even though he was in his early thirties, he still lived like he was ten years younger. After she helped Sawyer get to the couch, she looked around and noticed the place was remarkably clean. She hoped it didn’t mean what she thought it meant.

She went over to the thermostat and saw that the temperature was turned down to sixty-two degrees. That wasn’t good either. She turned the heat up to seventy before she used the bathroom. She prayed her brother’s girlfriend, Anna, had left some feminine products there.

Kenzie was in luck. She was relieved to get rid of her makeshift pad. Thank God that she was on birth control, that her periods were really light and would only last a few days, and that she was already on day three.

After she was done with the bathroom, she rummaged around her brother’s coat closet for a warm coat, hat, and gloves. Once she found a spot to leave the car, she’d have to walk home. To say she wasn’t looking forward to freezing her ass off while wondering if someone was out there, planning to kill her, would be an understatement.

She looked back at Sawyer and tried to ignore her irritation. She knew it wasn’t his fault that he’d been drugged and injured, but it wasn’t fair that she would have to do this all on her own either. She could really use his help right now.

After finding everything she needed, she returned to his side to check on him before she left. His eyes were closed, but he didn’t seem to be sleeping, so she nudged him.

He opened his eyes and looked at her. She could see his pupils now, and they didn’t appear to be dilated. That was a good sign, yet something was up. Even injured, she couldn’t believe he wasn’t taking charge, getting things done, and bossing her around.

She’d have to worry about it later though. If she had to deal with one more piece of bad news right now, she might explode. “I need to go and get rid of the car, but I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

She put on her brother’s winter gear while Sawyer watched.

“Do you think you’ll be okay while I’m gone?”

No reply.

He just blinked and stared at her hands while she put on the gloves.

“Sawyer, did you hear what I said? I need to get rid of the car. Are you going to be okay?”

He slowly raised his head and looked into her eyes. His brow furrowed, he asked, “Who’s Sawyer?”

Book Two

Available For Purchase On:

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Amazon UK

Description:

Payton Llewelyn, daughter to the cat-shifter alpha, wakes up with a throbbing head and a bullet wound to the hip. Recalling the events that led her there, the scent of a shifter permeates her senses—not that of a cat though, but of a wolf.

Damien Lowell, future pack leader of the wolf-shifters, has found himself in an impossible situation. Cat-shifters and wolf-shifters aren’t friends, and what Payton doesn’t know is that his father is behind her attack. He only meant to prevent her from being kidnapped, and he now has the wounded princess of the cat-shifters in his custody.

But when the heat becomes too much to handle, Damien and Payton must choose whether to follow their instincts or question the forbidden.

Excerpt:

She tried to open her eyes, but she had a headache, and the daylight hurt her pupils. Then, there were the smells. She wasn’t at home or any other place that was familiar, and the scent of wolf-shifter was strong.

Wolf-shifter. Payton sat up in bed, jarring her side and sending shooting pains through her head.

“Oh,” she moaned as the previous night came back to her.

She’d left the restaurant after dinner with friends. Three humans had come out of nowhere and attacked. She had been injured, and then surprisingly, a wolf-shifter had saved her. It was all very strange.

There shouldn’t have been any wolf-shifters in the Twin Cities, but she supposed a few would slip past their radar every once in a while. Since this one had rescued her, she was shockingly unconcerned. So, that was not what bothered her the most.

Actually, it was the humans. Something about them and that whole situation disturbed her. She’d been in the lit parking lot of a busy restaurant in a good neighborhood. Why had they picked her to rob? Why there? Unfortunately, thinking only made her head hurt worse. She’d worry about it later. She should be more concerned about the present anyway.

She looked around the room, finally noticing her surroundings. Hardwood floors and walls all around showed that it was a cabin of some sort. From her spot on the bed, she looked through the window and could see the cloudy winter sky and an endless sight of bare trees with a small amount of snow coating the branches.

The scent of cedar was strong, but it wasn’t the wood cabin. It was her wolf.

My wolf?

She mentally shook her head. She’d meant, her wolf rescuer. It was obviously his place. She looked at the empty spot next to her with the rumpled sheets and the dent on the pillow. This was obviously his room. Had he slept next to her?

A cupboard slammed in the other room. Sticking her nose in the air, she caught a whiff of food cooking, and her stomach rumbled.

She searched the room for a clock with no luck, and she assumed it was late morning or early afternoon. It was light outside, and days were short in November, so midday was a good guess.

Throwing back the covers, Payton attempted to swing her legs over the side of the bed.

Bad idea.

Pain radiated everywhere. She would need to do this a little slower.

Carefully, she put her right leg on the floor first. She noticed her right leg was bare. She looked down at herself. She could feel she was sans underwear. A man’s flannel shirt was the only thing she wore. She grabbed the collar and brought it to her nose. Although the smell was faint, it was the wolf’s shirt. It had been washed after he’d last worn it, and now, her scent covered it, too.

She pulled up the shirt to look at her throbbing hip. The wound was bandaged and clean from what she could see. Next, she picked up a chunk of her hair, seeing it had also been washed.

He had bathed her, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She appreciated his care, but she knew he’d seen her naked—as if things weren’t already awkward.

She lowered her shirt and moved to place her other foot on the floor. She was working up her motivation to stand when the wolf came to the door, carrying a tray of food.

They both froze.

“Payton?”

Wow. Now, this was a man.

Book One

Available For Purchase On:

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Google Play      Amazon UK

Description:

Next in line to lead the vampire species, Princess Naya Kensington has always abided by her royal responsibilities. At the urging of her best friend, Naya breaks the rules and crosses the line when she goes to a human nightclub. Following a chance encounter, Naya alters her life with a singular act forged from lust and blood.

Vaughn Llewelyn has secrets and obligations of his own, but he ignores them when he spots Naya across the nightclub. He wants her in a way he’s never felt before, and although he can’t possibly have more than one night with Naya, he knows no one else will do.

One night of forbidden love creates a bond that will forever change both of their lives…as well as their worlds.

Excerpt:

As Naya moved closer, she found a small opening near the corner of the bar. When she reached the counter, it was obvious as to why the space had been empty. Next to her sat a disheveled man perched on a stool. He stank of alcohol and smelled like he was about a week overdue for a shower. He ogled her, making her uncomfortable, but people were swarming the bar around her, so she was unable to put the space she wanted between herself and the dirty drunk.

However, she was sick of people forcing her to do things she didn’t want to do, whether it was consciously or subconsciously on their part. She was going to get a drink, head to the floor, and dance until she started to have fun, even if it killed her. She would not let anyone ruin her plans.

“Hey, baby,” he said as he scooted closer, looking her up and down and almost falling over in the process. Apparently, his intoxicated state wasn’t going to stop him because he next slurred, “You’re hot,” as he swayed into her personal bubble.

She’d had to hold her breath when he spoke since his teeth hadn’t met a toothbrush in some time.

Naya faced forward and ignored him, hoping he would get the hint. While situations like this didn’t happen often, she had learned that silence was sometimes the best policy.

He leaned in closer. “I said, hey, baby.”

This time, she gave him a stern look. “Sir, I am not your baby.” She turned away, praying the straightforward approach would work.

“Wanna come home with me tonight? We can grab a six-pack of beer and fuck.”

She gasped. “No!” Gross.

“What? You don’t like beer?” He laughed at his joke and extended his hand to touch her.

She jerked her arm away and lifted her chin with confidence. “I’m here with someone.”

If only it were true.

He called her bluff. “I don’t see anyone with you. Why are you playing hard to get, dollface?”

She groaned. Why won’t he go away?

She took a small step back, irritated that she had to be the one to leave, when she sensed a presence behind her. Even though she couldn’t see the person, she knew immediately that he was big, male, and powerful. But she wasn’t afraid. In fact, a calm sense of relief came over her, and she instinctively recognized he was the one who had been watching her. The deep feelings he’d first stirred in her now flared to life. Anticipation, excitement, arousal, and exhilaration fused into one. Her head was spinning as her nostrils flared, and the lonely place between her legs blazed to life.

From the mirror behind the bar, she caught a glimpse of a virile male before he slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her flush against him, engulfing her body with his own. He kissed her neck and lingered there as if he had the right.

She tilted her head and let him.

About The Authors:

R.L. Kenderson is two best friends writing under one name.

Renae has always loved reading, and in third grade, she wrote her first poem where she learned she might have a knack for this writing thing. Lara remembers sneaking her grandmother’s Harlequin novels when she was probably too young to be reading them, and since then, she knew she wanted to write her own.

When they met in college, they bonded over their love of reading and the TV show Charmed. What really spiced up their friendship was when Lara introduced Renae to romance novels. When they discovered their first vampire romance, they knew there would always be a special place in their hearts for paranormal romance. After being unable to find certain storylines and characteristics they wanted to read about in the hundreds of books they consumed, they decided to write their own.

They both live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area where they’re a sonographer/stay-at-home mom/wife and pharmacist/mother by day and a sexy author by night. They always love hearing from their readers.

Website: http://www.rlkenderson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rlkenderson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rlkenderson

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rlkendersonauthor/

Tumblr: http://rlkenderson.tumblr.com/

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7375708.R_L_Kenderson


Tour giveaway:

5 ecopies of Forbidden Addiction

1 signed paperback of Forbidden Addiction

5 ecopies of Forbidden Series: Volume One (Books #1-3)

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc1647/

Spotlight: The Dragon’s Playlist, by Laura Bickle 1

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Description:

From the author of THE HALLOWED ONES and NINE OF STARS comes a new novel blending the magical and the real…

“This is war,” the dragon said. And she believed him.

Di fled rural West Virginia to study music and pursue a bright future as a violinist. But when a mining accident nearly kills her father, she is summoned back home to support her family. Old ghosts and an old flame emerge from the past. When Di gets a job as a bookkeeper at the same mine where her father worked, she is drawn into a conflict pitting neighbor against neighbor as the mine plans an expansion to an untouched mountain.

If the mining company’s operation goes forward, there will be more at stake than livelihoods or the pollution of the land: Di has discovered a dragon lives deep within Sawtooth Mountain, and he is not happy with this encroachment upon his lair. When catastrophe strikes, Di must choose between her family’s best interests and protecting the dragon – the last surviving bit of magic in Di’s shrinking world.

In every fight, sides are chosen. And there can be no yearning for what has been left behind.

Read 2 New Chapters Free Each Week Starting June 1

at

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https://www.facebook.com/Author.Laura.Bickle

About The Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology-Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

More information about Laura’s work can be found at www.laurabickle.com

https://twitter.com/Laura_Bickle   

https://www.facebook.com/Author.Laura.Bickle

 

Review/Spotlight: Soul Dance Series, by Ann Gimpel Reply

4 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon    BN    Google Play    iTunes     Kobo

Review:

In this enchanting first novel of the Soul Dance series by author Ann Gimpel, we meet the heroine of this tale, Tairin, and her Gypsy Romany family. I was hooked from the first page. Tairin is a phenomenally strong character, and I absolutely fell for her. This novella follows her through her struggles as a young girl in 1700’s Egypt. In a few short days, her entire world turns upside down as she learns she’s half Romany and half wolf shifter, and that her family has disintegrated. Mother dead, father gone, and Tairin left on her own. What an amazing introduction to the Romany stories! I will most assuredly be reading more!

Reviewed by Deviant Diamond

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Tairin’s wolf is more than just a dream creature. She hates it, but it’s also her only friend.

1700s Egypt is a haven for magic-wielders of all kinds. Vampires hold court, staying one step ahead of the priests and priestesses who want them dead. Gypsy caravans roam the Nile from north to south and back again, plying their wares, telling fortunes, casting Tarot cards, and stealing from the gadjos.

Tairin Jabari was born in a caravan and has always believed she’s Romani. Why wouldn’t she? Her mother and father never suggested otherwise. The Rom have harsh rules. When Tairin’s first shift catches her unaware at thirteen, her father disappears, and the elders move with deadly speed to punish her mother for mating outside the blood.

Hurt, lost, confused, and fearing for her own life, Tairin runs away, leaving her mother’s smoking funeral pyre behind. If she could only find her father, he’d welcome her. He’s always loved her, hasn’t he? Only problem is he’s in a shifter settlement. With her mixed blood, they won’t welcome her any more warmly than the Romani. It doesn’t take long before Tairin discovers how desperately unprepared she is for life outside her protected caravan. With her survival on the line every single day, she and her wolf have some hard choices to make.

Tarnished Beginnings, the prequel to the Soul Dance books is only available in the Magic After Dark Boxed set.

About the Box Set:

Journey from the hills of Ireland to Victorian England, from medieval Italy to eighteenth century Egypt, from the United States to the sand-baked Middle East and beyond to explore forbidden magic, meet exotic gypsy lovers, navigate the pitfalls of ancient prophecies, battle vampires and shifters, and defeat evil sorcerers and hellish demons.

This unique collection, inspired by the rich and varied history of gypsies from all over the world, contains over one million words of captivating urban fantasy and paranormal romance fiction that’s guaranteed to keep you up long after dark.

Discover gypsy worlds where heroes roam and magic reigns with twenty-five brand new works from today’s New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors.

Each book within this collection is exclusive to the set and can’t be found anywhere else. Preorder now for a future filled with romance, mystery, adventure, and magical thrills!

*** Contributing Authors ***

New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton

USA Today bestselling author Caryse Locke

New York Times bestselling author Margo Bond Collins

USA Today bestselling author Ann Gimpel

USA Today bestselling author J.L. Weil

USA Today bestselling author J.A. Culican

New York Times bestselling author Tom Shutt

Melle Amade

USA Today bestselling author T.F. Walsh

Dean F. Wilson

Miranda Hardy

Award-Winning author D.N. Leo

David J. Normoyle

Megan J. Parker

Monica Leonelle

P.E. Padilla

Ainsley Shay

Megan Linski

Award-Winning author Julie Morgan

Cait Reynolds

Chloe Garner

Paris Andren

Cate Farren

Felicia Starr

Award-Winning author Nathan Squiers

5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Ann Gimpel    Amazon    BN    iTunes    Google Play     Kobo

Review:

This is the second book in author Ann Gimpel’s incredible Soul Dance series. We again meet up with Tairin from book 1, but now it’s 200 years (give or take a few) in the future. Tairin has grown into her abilities as a wolf shifter, and has found a Romany tribe in Germany to accept her, given that her nature is well hidden. She anticipates leaving the caravan, given that she doesn’t age normally, but what she doesn’t anticipate is Elliott, the seer for the group. In a fantastical turn of events, Elliott has decided he’s the one for her. Now he just has to convince her. I fell into this book from the first, and never once slowed down. I found it to be breathtakingly exciting (vampires, shifters, and Nazi’s, oh my!) and full of heart pounding adventure, and more than a little romance. I am eagerly anticipating the third book in the series!

Reviewed by Deviant Diamond

Description:

Germany, 1940

Half Romani, Tairin’s no stranger to hiding her mixed blood from gypsy caravans. What she can’t hide is her perpetual youth, courtesy of her shifter heritage. Every few years, she drops out of sight, resurfacing in a new country to join a caravan where no one knows her. She’s overstayed her welcome where she is, but Germany is at war, and travel has become all but impossible for everyone targeted by the Reich.

Elliott’s clairvoyance is strong, even for a Romani. Seer for all the caravans in Germany, he catches Tairin eavesdropping outside their leader’s wagon one night. He should turn her in, but it would mean her execution, and he can’t bring himself to do that. Instead, he interrogates her. Her magic is different, but he can’t figure out quite what she is.

Any association between Romani and shifters is forbidden, and Tairin shields herself from Elliott’s probing. She should leave right now, tonight. It would be easy enough. Shift to her wolf form and run, keeping out of hunters’ gunsights. She’s on the edge of flight when Elliott suggests a covert task to prove her loyalty. Tairin agrees immediately, kicking herself for being weak where he’s concerned. Shifters and Romani have no future together. Zero. Zilch.

She should be smart about this and vanish into the night—before he discovers what she is and destroys her.

5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon    BN    iTunes    Google Play     Ann Gimpel     Kobo

Review:

WOW! In book 3 of author Ann Gimpel’s fantastic Soul Dance series, we now meet up with more shifters than ever. Tairin is there, along with Elliott, and her father Jamal, who she found and reconnected with. This story is Jamal’s love story. It takes place right at the end of book 2, so no time is lost between books. First shifter Meara (a vulture who is beyond ancient and insanely powerful) has recruited hundreds of varying shifters and Romany clans to work together to defeat the Nazi’s and their vampire allies. As they search for safe haven, Meara, Jamal, Tairin and Elliott stumble across an enigma. Her name is Ilona, and she’s managed to escape (barely) from the prison camp she was held at. As an incredibly powerful Romany, Ilona knows the shifters are not really to be trusted…or are they? The closer she gets to them, the more she realizes that perhaps they aren’t so bad. And when betrayal comes from within, can she trust them, and ultimately, can she trust Jamal with her heart?  I loved this book, and am eagerly anticipating the 4th and final book in the series!

Reviewed by Deviant Diamond

Description:

Germany, 1940

Magic runs strong in Ilona, a gypsy seer. Powerful ability isn’t valued in Romani women, so she focuses her fortunetelling on inconsequential details. Nothing that could come back to haunt her caravan if a prediction went bad. Rounded up and dumped in Dachau prison camp, she has plenty of time to rue her decision to downplay her ability. If she’d taken the time to scry her own future, she’d still be free.

A wolf shifter, Jamal made the mistake of wedding a Romani woman centuries ago. His arrogance caused both death and heartache, and he’s been alone ever since. The recent threat of vampires joining the Third Reich has provided ample reason for shifters and Rom to lay their ancient enmity aside and work together, but their détente is fragile.

Jamal and a group of shifters come across Ilona after her escape from Dachau. Vulnerable, terrified, she’s fully prepared to fight. Her courage and mettle touch places in him he’d thought were dead, but she’s Romani. His last relationship ended so badly, the last thing he needs is to fall for another gypsy woman. He wrestles his tumbling emotions into submission, but when she trains her enigmatic, gray gaze on him, his resolve first weakens and then vanishes entirely.

About the Author:

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

Find Ann At:

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

https://twitter.com/anngimpel

Review/Spotlight: Dead and Delicious, by Tara West 1

5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon US      Amazon UK      iBooks      Kobo      Nook

Review:

This was a really good story. It had romance with the world ending and humor. Loved it. I have not read the books that came before this But i don’t feel the book was hard to get into, I will look for 6 when it comes out as I don’t think I would have changed anything in 5.

Reviewed by Brave One

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Two zombies and one skeleton on a road trip to Vegas to kill a witch, stop an apocalypse, and rescue their friends from the belly of a shadow dragon.

Nothing weird about that.

Five things I learned while being a fallen angel zombie:

  1. Duct tape works better than embalming.
  2. Alopecia is not my favorite hairstyle.
  3. Fried demons smell like bacon.
  4. This brain breath is affecting my love life.
  5.  Nothing ruins a honeymoon like an apocalypse.

Excerpt:

Our elevator had dropped us off smack in the middle of what could have only been described as an undead battlefield. We were in an old cemetery shrouded in a thin mist and faintly illuminated by moonlight. Gravesites had been unearthed and tombstones turned to rubble while grims and ghosters decapitated demonic creatures that came at them from all sides. And was it just me, or was it uncommonly hot for early spring in Seattle?

Margo Styles, a ghoster on the elite Alpha Squad, who looked like a Barbie and screamed like a banshee, shoved a big-ass machete into my arms. “Arm yourself.” She drew in a deep breath before driving a hatchet into some pale creature’s skull.

My stomach roiled when his brain exploded in a fountain of green ooze, splattering Margo’s face. I wasn’t crazy about Margo, and I’d wanted to dump a plate of caviar over her snooty head a time or two, but I wouldn’t wish a mouthful of demon sludge on my worst enemy.

Aedan pushed me behind him, slicing off a demon’s head before I had a chance to blink. The rest of the ghosters on my squad somehow found weapons and were joining in the action. I spun in a slow circle, nearly dropping the heavy machete on my foot. I could barely lift it. How the hell was I supposed to cut off heads with it? All while wearing a wedding gown and heels.

I ducked under Aedan’s arm as he decapitated a demon with spikes coming out of his skull. “Margo, what is happening?” I hollered, unable to keep the shrill rattle out of my voice.

“I don’t know,” she said between grunts, driving her blade into a scaly creature’s torso, “but all hell’s broke loose.”

A tall shadow fell over us, and I peered up at the commander of the ghosting squadrons. Shadow, a formidable ghoster, was made even creepier by me knowing he’d once been controlled by a powerful demon.

“Shadow,” I cried. “Please tell me what’s happening.”

“Delta squad.” He frowned at me, waving to Sarge and Aedan. “You take the west end. Whatever you do, do not let them leave the cemetery.” He handed Sarge and Aedan walkie-talkies.

So like a man to talk over the woman, but now wasn’t the time to get into a sexism debate. I reminded myself Shadow had died 150 years ago, back when women were still swooning from tight corsets and battery-operated dildos hadn’t been invented yet, so we kind of had to take shit from men.

I shrieked when a demon head catapulted past me, spewing blood all over my wedding gown. Dammit! Now I was pissed! I dropped the machete and yanked a blade out of a demon’s back, shook off the blood, and marched alongside my husband. So much for my white wedding. Guess that was my karma for trying to pass as a virgin.

About The Author:

Tara West writes books about dragons, witches, and handsome heroes while eating chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate. She’s willing to share her dragons, witches and heroes. Keep your hands off her chocolate.

Tara West’s young adult and new adult romances have been Kindle bestsellers. A former high school English teacher, Tara is now a full-time writer and graphic artist. She enjoys spending time with her family, interacting with her fans, and fishing the Texas coast.

www.tarawest.com

@TaraWestauthor

https://www.facebook.com/tarawestauthor

https://www.amazon.com/Tara-West/e/B008DIXDAK/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1731936.Tara_West

Spotlight/Review: Waking for Winter (Philadelphia Coven Chronicles Book Four), by Katherine McIntyre Reply

4 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Loose ID

Review:

I have not read the other books in this series however I’m going to have to go look them up this book was really well written. I enjoyed the characters and the way they all went to well together. Cami’s character I wanted to find out more about and some of her choices even if I didn’t always understand why she made some of them.

Reviewed by Brave One

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

The Philadelphia Coven has thwarted the Order of the Serpent’s every attempt to destroy their city only to draw out the scariest nightmare from the Otherworld, the Caoranach. One of the Coven’s own, Cami Akiyama, has already met this creature—the very monster who tortured her, branding her with a mark. Given Cami’s history with the big bad, the Coven leader assigns her a bodyguard, none other than the gorgeous and lethal necromancer, Dante Martinez, the ex-boyfriend she disappeared on years ago. One conversation confirms the spark between them never died, and based on the way Dante flirts, he won’t allow that flame to extinguish out without a fight.

No one has ever compared to Dante and the incendiary passion he inspired in her, but the Caoranach broke her—Cami’s too damaged for any sort of relationship. Not like that stops him. If anything, he fights harder for the memories of a love that kept her sane on the bleakest nights. And despite every effort to distance, she finds herself falling for him all over again. Except the Caoranach isn’t finished with her—the branded mark holds the secret to the city’s destruction or salvation, and Cami stands in the center of the storm.

About the Author:

A modern day Renaissance-woman, Katherine McIntyre has learned soapmaking, beer brewing, tea blending, and most recently roasting coffee. Most of which make sure she’s hydrated and bathed while she spends the rest of her time writing. With a desire to travel and more imagination than she knows what to do with, all the stories jumping around in her head led to the logical route of jotting them down on paper. She writes novels with snarky women, ragtag crews, and guys with bad attitudes. High chances for a passionate speech thrown into the mix.

Website: http://www.katherine-mcintyre.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kmcintyreauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/pixierants

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authorkmcintyre

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6473654.Katherine_McIntyre

LooseID: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/erotic-romance-authors-g-k/katherine-mcintyre.html

 

Spotlight: A Warlock’s Secrets (Demon’s Witch Series Book Two), by Tena Stetler 1

Cover Artist: Kristian Norris

Tagline: In his darkest hours she is dragged into his magical world. If they survive, is she strong enough to heal his heart and tame the warlock?

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon      Kobo      BN       iTunes

 

Description:

Years ago a sacred ceremony at the Dragon’s Moon Coven, turned deadly. Son of the high priestess, Tristian Shandie’s life changed forever. With a price on his head and revenge in his heart, he has no choice but to follow in his father’s footsteps to a profession shrouded in secrets. Now his skills as an enforcer for the Demon Overlord are second to none. But dangerous secrets he harbors are a liability he can no longer afford.

A chance meeting with a woman he finds irresistible flips Tristian’s world upside down. Hannah is a cyber security specialist with secrets of her own. Bad boys never appealed to her until Tristian, who changes everything. In his darkest hours she is dragged into his magical world. If they survive, is she strong enough to heal his heart and tame the warlock? Or will their secrets destroy them?

Excerpt:

He offered his hand to Hannah as she stood, wrapped an arm around her waist and guided her out of the diner. “How about a ride up the coast?”

“Sure as soon as you explain how you held those teens down without touching them.” She smiled up at him knowingly.  “And don’t give me that crap about telling me or killing me.”

A slight grin curved the corners of his mouth. “How about on an as needed basis and you don’t need to know?”

A soft laugh bubbled up from her throat. “If I had to guess, I’d say you’re a warlock with well-honed powers.” She tilted her head up towards his. “Would I be right?”

HIs grin faded replaced with a stormy expression. “Where would you get that absurd idea?  They merely tripped and had trouble getting up. I suggested they stay put until the police showed up.  Simple as that.”

“Right.  Well on that note, I’ll see myself home.” She turned to her car and opened the door.

For a moment, he considered letting her go. Women are more trouble than they’re worth anyway. That’s when the meddling voice of Birch wafted through Tristian’s mind.  She’s moved on, so should you.  Damn faeries anyway. I’m sure he’s using some kind of magic to do this to me.

“Okay, you win. But only if you tell me why you are disguising your magic signature.” He leaned against the car a smirk on his face.

About the Author:

Tena Stetler is a paranormal romance and cozy mystery author with an over-active imagination.  She wrote her first vampire romance as a tween, to the chagrin of her mother and the delight of her friends. With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, Tena sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures telling her their tales. Colorado is her home; shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle.  Any evening, you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn. Her books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them.

Website: http://www.tenastetler.com

Authors’ Secret’s Blog – http://www.tenastetler.com/category/authors-secrets-blog/

My Say What Blog – http://www.tenastetler.com/category/my-say-what-blog/

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/tenastetler.author

Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/TenaStetler

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14187532.Tena_Stetler

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Newsletter: http://www.tenastetler.com/newsletter-signup/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/tenastetler

Tribber – http://triberr.com/TenaStetler

Tour giveaway:

2 $10 Amazon Gift Cards

Rafflecopter Link:

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Spotlight/Excerpt: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Sting (Nava Katz Book Two), by Deborah Wilde 1

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon

Description:

50% boobs. 50% sarcasm. 100% new breed of hunter.

After a bumpy start as the only female demon hunter in the top secret Brotherhood of David, Nava Katz heads to Prague for her first undercover mission: unmasking a demon movie star. She’d be all kinds of thrilled if it weren’t for the fact that her fellow hunter-with-benefits, Rohan Mitra, has reclaimed his rock star status and assigned Nava the role of groupie.

Rejecting her “be a good girl and follow orders” directive, Nava unleashes an alter ego guaranteed to hook their celebrity target and drive Rohan crazy. No downside-until she finds herself up against Rohan’s past, the Brotherhood’s antiquated thinking, and her own identity issues, turning her personal life into a bomb that could blow up the entire operation.

Sparkly and deadly; it’s a plan.

Excerpt:

Looping my fingers into his belt, I jerked his hips to mine. Rohan’s breath caught and when I brushed my lips over the shell curves of his ear, his whole body went tense. “Prove you’re worth it, baby.” Then I pushed him away, stalking off without a look back, mostly sure that he followed.

The second we got inside the empty elevator, Rohan shoved me up against the wall. I groped for the third floor button, leaning into him. He ran his hands feverishly over my body, hot tingles shivering through my breasts like a sexed-up call and answer. The focused hunger in his expression had me craving more, except my rapid breathing wasn’t all from arousal.

Given the barely banked rage evident in the tense bunch of Rohan’s shoulders, the feeling was mutual. Hopefully, he’d show no mercy in orgasm form and not body count, though I couldn’t promise the same right now.

I bit his earlobe, wanting to hurt him.

Rohan shot me a cavalier smile in response. Holy crap. My knees buckled.

The sprint to my room was a blur.

The second the door slammed shut behind us, Rohan edged his face in close to mine, his palm ghosting my cheek in the barest caress that sent slivery shimmers tumbling through me.

I raised my fingers to my mouth, not realizing what I’d done or that I ran them over my lips until Rohan tracked the movement, his eyes glittering dangerously.

His tongue flicked out, wetting his lower lip. He swayed in toward me and–

“No.” Taking his hands in mine, I forced them behind me. Forced him to hold me there, his rings biting into my skin. Forced him to make a decision; play by my rules or go.

Check Out The Unlikeable Demon Hunter Book One:

On Sale Today for .99

About the Author:

A global wanderer, hopeless romantic, and total cynic with a broken edit button, Deborah writes urban fantasy to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. She is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. “It takes a bad girl to fight evil. Go Wilde.”

Website: http://www.deborahwilde.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wildeauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16189297.Deborah_Wilde

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahWildeAuthor/

Tour Giveaway:

$10 Amazon GC

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Spotlight: GenTech Rebellion Series, by Ann Gimpel Reply

4.5 out of 5 Stars

GenTech Rebellion Series Backstory

Sometime between the interminable wars in the Middle East and 9/11, the United States moved forward breeding a race of super humans. Clandestine labs formed, armed with eager scientists who’d always yearned to manipulate human DNA. At first the clones looked promising, growing to fighting size in as little as a dozen years, but V1 had design flaws.

Seven years ago, a rogue group turned on their creators, blew up the lab, and hit all the other breeding farms, freeing whomever they could find. In the intervening time, they’ve retreated to hidden compounds and created a society run by men. Women are kept on a tight leash because the men fear if they discover their innate power, they’d launch their own rebellion.

Visit Ann’s Bookstore

Review: 

I binge read the whole 5 book series and loved it. In the not so far off future, there is a rebellion of the genetically enhanced. The main story centers on a group of 5 women who escape from the compound where they lived. They meet up with a group of military men who are trained and modified to hunt the genetically enhanced. There is a lot to follow but basically everyone finds their happily ever after (HEA). Some stories hit little bit close to home, girl likes guy, guy says and does something stupid, they eventually get together, sort of thing. I do recommend reading all 5 books in order and if you can, one after the other, since they do follow the stories straight on through.

I highly recommend all of these books and anything else you can read by Ms. Gimpel. She’s a wonderful writer and always leaves the reader entertained. I haven’t read anything by her that I didn’t like.

Reviewed by Angel

Our Blog was given these books in exchange for an honest review.

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon    BN     Google Play    iBooks    Kobo     Audio

The line between hunter and hunted thins, blurs, and finally shatters.

Description:

After years as a black ops CIA agent, nothing surprises Roy Kincaid, yet his current assignment is close to a bust. How could his target—renegade genetic freaks—drop off the radar as if they never existed? Burnt out and discouraged, he hunches over a meal in a backwater diner when a half-frozen woman with the look of an abused runaway staggers through the door. On his feet in an instant, Roy kicks himself. His first instinct is to help her, make certain she stays long enough for the bluish cast to leave her lips. His second is to finish his meal and leave. The world is full of broken women. It’s not his job to fix them, but he can’t take his eyes off her.

Glory’s telepathic ability blares a harsh warning. Roy hunts those like her, but damn if he didn’t buy her dinner. Maybe she can fool him, just for tonight. Add a dry motel room to the meal. If she plays it very cool, he’ll never find out she’s on the run from the same group he’s targeted for death.

Enhanced genetics only go so far. A roadblock and her face on a Most Wanted flyer shatter her fragile truce with Roy. If her Handlers find her, they’ll kill her. If Roy finds out what she is, she’ll be worse than dead.

Excerpt:

…“Dessert, hon?” The waitress sidled back over to him, and Roy realized he was her only customer.

“Sure. What do you have?”

She rattled off a series of pies and cakes. He chose apple pie with a scoop of ice cream, and she left with his dinner plate. Roy slumped against the chair. He had to keep going. No choice. Not really. A good night’s sleep, coupled with the first adequate meal he’d had in a couple days might make a big difference in his attitude. At least he hoped they would.

He’d just begun on the pie, which had a surprisingly flaky crust, when a rush of cold air yanked his attention toward the door. A tall woman walked in. Long, dark hair caked with snow swirled around her, and she held her body tightly as if she were really cold. Roy glanced at her feet and was shocked to see a pair of tennis shoes with holes in them. Good God, had she been outside with such inadequate footwear? Didn’t she understand she could freeze to death? Even his stout boots didn’t do much to divert the cold.

Keeping her gaze downcast, she made her way to the counter and sat.

“Coffee, hon?” The waitress asked.

“How much is it?” the woman inquired.

“Two bucks.”

“Oh.” The woman’s shoulders drooped, and she swiveled the stool around, getting ready to go back out into the storm.

“No, you don’t.” The waitress’s voice sharpened. “I’ll stand you a coffee. You look about done in.”

The woman’s even features melted into what looked like relief before she turned back to face the counter. “Thank you. That’s really kind and I appreciate it. My wallet was stolen, and—”

“Never you mind.” The waitress patted the woman’s shoulder. “Bet you’re hungry too.” She poured hot coffee into a mug and handed it to the woman, who drew the steaming liquid to her lips.

“Maybe a little,” the woman ventured. She clasped the cup with fingers white from cold.

By now, Roy knew he was staring, but he couldn’t make himself turn away. There was something waiflike and alluring about the tall woman with long, black hair. Snow dripped off her, creating puddles around her stool. All she wore against the winter weather was a thick, gray sweater and worn jeans. No scarf. No gloves. No hat. He was close to certain her wallet hadn’t been stolen. She looked more like an abuse victim on the run to him. Maybe he could help her get to her intended destination, if it wasn’t too far out of his way.

He pushed his chair back and made his way to the counter. “Say—” he began, but she started and drew away as if she expected him to hit her.

I was right. Abuse victim for sure.

“I’m not going to hurt you.” He kept his voice low, soothing. “Order whatever you want, and I’ll pay for it.”

She kept her gaze on her hands clutching the coffee cup. “I can’t let you do that, sir. I’m all right. Truly I am.”

Without waiting for an invitation, he took the stool next to hers and called to the waitress. “Bring her the same meal I just had.”

“You got it, hon,” rang from the direction of the kitchen.

“You are not all right,” Roy said. “You’re thin as a rail, and you were shivering when you came in here. In fact, you still are. I’ll bet your shoes are wet clear through.” When she didn’t respond, he ploughed on. “Let me help you.”

She shook her head. “Don’t want your kind of help. It always comes with strings.”

“Mine doesn’t.”

He pushed a little with his enhanced mental ability to get her to look at him. If she did, maybe she’d see truth in his eyes. A shudder ran down her thin frame, but she dragged her gaze upward reluctantly. Roy felt bad for forcing her, but he didn’t have time to soothe her wounded places, which he suspected ran deep.

Eyes a shade of green he’d never seen inspected him. Long, thick lashes framed those eyes, and they were set in a face with high cheekbones, a high forehead, and black eyebrows winging a track over porcelain skin.

“Who are you?” The words tore from him. He hadn’t meant to say them. She was nervous as a feral cat as it was.

She shook her head sadly. “No one. I’m no one. You’ll forget all about me when you leave here.”

Something shifted in his mind, but he fought it. Before he could determine if something real had just happened or if he were imagining things, the waitress showed up with the woman’s dinner.

“Here you go, hon. Hope medium’s okay for that steak?”

“Fine, thank you.” Before the words were out, the woman picked up the fork and knife and shoveled food into her mouth.

Roy congratulated himself on a good call. Even though she’d been reluctant to admit it, she really was starving. He had no idea what she’d do tomorrow or the next day, but it wasn’t his problem. While she ate, he observed her from the corner of his eyes. In addition to being hungry and underdressed, she looked young. Maybe twenty. He’d be surprised if she were much more than that.

He shook a mental finger at himself. The country was full of abused women running from the men who used them as punching bags before they raped them. It was one part of law enforcement work he’d never understood: why the women kept going back for more.

“There are safe houses for girls like you,” he said, and could’ve kicked himself. What the hell was wrong with his mouth tonight? He couldn’t seem to keep words on the other side of it.

She stopped chewing long enough to glance at him. “What’s a safe house?”

“A place where women like you can go so whoever’s after you can’t get to you.”

“What makes you think someone’s after me?” Color splotched across her white cheeks.

Roy took a deep breath. “I was a cop for a long time.”

Her entire body tightened, and he wondered if he’d been wrong about why she was out in the storm. “You said was.” She swiped a paper napkin over her lips. “Are you still?”

“No. Not anymore.”

She took another bite, clearly thinking about what he’d said. “These people you think are after me. Could they still find me in a safe house?”

He wanted to lie to her, but didn’t. “Sure. Anyone can find anybody with the Internet and all, but the people who run the safe houses won’t let anyone who might hurt you inside.”

She drew her arched brows together and drank some coffee. “I’d have to go outside sometime. Work. Earn my way.”

He nodded. Those things were all true. He scratched his head and pushed too-long hair out of his eyes. “Sometimes, when a man is really persistent, there are ways of setting you up with a different identity in a different part of the country.”

Interest lit her features, and she cut up the last of her steak. “Where would I go to have that happen?”

“I’m not sure, but we could check with local agencies in the morning.”

A blank expression washed over her face, as if someone had shut out a light. She shot him a look she might have given yesterday’s overripe trash. “Morning, huh? You’re just like all the rest of them, mister. Means I’d have to spend the night with you.”

Roy winced. He hadn’t been thinking. Of course she’d make that connection. “No.” He shook his head emphatically. “I’d buy you your own room for the night. You can clean up, get some sleep, and we’ll regroup in the morning after breakfast.”

She narrowed her eyes, and he felt himself drawn into their depths. “My own room with a locked door?”

He nodded solemnly, willing her to believe him. If he could just do one decent deed, it would make up for the last two weeks of beating his head into a brick wall. Maybe it would give him enough juice to keep hunting for the scientists who were a bunch of Houdini fuckers.

“Mmph.” She started on her potato, taking large bites. In between them, she said. “I’m trying to figure out your angle. If I’ve worked my way around to believing you won’t hurt me by the time I’m done eating, I’ll accept your offer.”

It was the best he was likely to get. Roy stood. “Fair enough. I’m going to finish my pie.” It was sitting in a pool of melted ice cream, but he didn’t mind. “If you’d care to accept my help, just stop by my table on your way out. If you walk past, I give you my word I won’t bother you.”

“Deal.” She said around a mouthful of food. Swallowing, she twisted to look at him.

It felt as if she were staring straight through him, but Roy held his ground even after he identified a zing of power withdrawing from his mind. What the hell was she, anyway? When she returned to her dinner, he retreated to his pie, thoughts racing a mile a minute. What the fuck was he doing? If he were smart, he’d forget his offer, throw enough money on the table to cover both meals, and run like hell for his car.

There was something about the woman, though, an appeal that drew him, snared him, and wouldn’t leave him be. He ate mindlessly, not tasting the pie. He knew the feel of freak mind control. Was that it? Had he inadvertently stumbled onto one of them?

Impossible. They’re never by themselves, and whatever she examined me with didn’t feel quite right.

Plus, she didn’t resemble the ones he’d killed before. They had dark hair, but animal eyes. Amber, not green like hers. Of course they’d been men, but simple genetics argued they’d all look much the same if they came out of the same petri dishes.

Were there other augmented humans beyond those he already knew about? The thought fascinated and chilled him at the same time.

He scraped his fork over the plate and realized it was empty. Slugging back long-since-cold coffee, he dug for his wallet and extracted what he was certain would cover dinner, laying bills on the table and placing his empty mug atop them.

The woman looked almost done with her meal. What would she do?

What would he do if she walked by him and out the door? Would he be able to keep his promise and not go after her?…

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We have to trust to fight side by side, but love’s so unexpected—and so irresistible —it trumps everything.

Description:

Honor takes a huge chance and flees her compound one wintry night. A genetically altered woman, she has no memories from before her kin staged a rebellion seven years before. Because of her enhanced physiology, she finds a home working for the CIA alongside four other women just like her. There are still plenty of rules, but they’re different, and she’s figuring out how to blend in.

Milton Reins burns through women and marriages. After the third one implodes, he swears off hunting for a replacement. Running the CIA is a more than fulltime job. There’s no time for anything else in his life, which is fine until Honor comes along. Training in the gym throws their bodies together and makes him remember the feel of a woman in his arms. Milton aches for her, but she’s a freak—the CIA term for test tube humans designed by scientists.

Honor wants Milton with every bone in her body, but it’s a terrible idea, especially after she delves into his head and sees his ambivalence toward her kind. Need drives them together, but their differences create roadblocks every step of the way. Fueled by anger and fear, she shuts him out. So what if the sex was great, she’s done.

Or is she?

Excerpt:

…“How about this?” Honor finished her drink and twirled the glass between her hands. “The other women and I are on top of things. We’ll make sure nothing…unexpected happens.”

“What if I pull rank and order Charity to stay here?” he demanded, not liking her answer.

Honor shook her head. “That’d be a bad idea.” After a pause, she added hastily, “Sir. With all due respect.”

Milton chortled. “You’re learning. Why is it a bad idea?”

Honor closed her teeth over her lower lip. “Like all of us, she’s finding her way. Figuring out where she fits in here. Even though we lived in the western United States, we may as well have been in Bangladesh for all the differences between living here and where we were after the rebellion.”

“You still haven’t told me why it’s a bad idea.”

“She needs to trust you. If you ride herd on her, treat her like the Nameless Ones treated us, she never will, and this…problem of hers will just get worse.”

Desperation flared, a glowing nimbus she nipped quickly, but he’d been paying close attention, plus he’d been inside her mind. Milton pushed forward with a combination of intuition and his augmented ability. “You’re worried it will get worse anyway.”

Her gaze skittered away. “Yes. No. Possibly. These things are hard to predict. Please.” She leaned forward this time and placed a hand over his where it lay atop his leg. “Let us handle it our way. I give you my word we’ll ask for help before it gets out of control.”

Her touch was warm, electric. Before he could stop himself, he set his other hand over hers, and turned the bottom hand upward, capturing her flesh between his. His mouth was suddenly dry, and his groin tightened with a rush of sexual energy so intense it stole his breath.

Words became a struggle, but he forced them out anyway. “Doesn’t sound very smart to me. Is there any chance she’ll switch allegiance?”

Honor’s eyes widened. “Oh hell, no. You mean fight for the Nameless Ones?” When Milton nodded, she was even more emphatic. “No. That’d never happen. She hates them just as much as we do.”

It was the main thing that had worried him: that he’d been playing host to a double agent—again. Some of the tension drained out of him, and he rubbed his fingers over Honor’s where they lay clasped between his.

“I really should go, sir.” She tried to pull her hand back, but he didn’t let go.

“Do you always do what you should?”

Honor looked away. “Not a fair question, sir.”

“Stop calling me that!”

“But you are my commanding officer.” Honor kept her voice soft, but the meaning in her words slapped Milton squarely across his forehead.

He released her hand. “Sorry.” He spoke stiffly. “I forgot myself. You’re free to go.”

The sadness he’d sensed earlier was back in spades. It flowed from her in slow, tired waves. He pushed, surprised when she let him inside her mind. Not far, but enough for him to view the loneliness she’d lived with all her life. Her only safety zone had been the dozen women in her dorm at the compound, and seven of them were dead. No wonder she needed to do everything possible to protect Charity.

Milton got to his feet and offered her a hand. She took it and stood too. “Thanks for helping me understand you a little,” he said.

“You’re welcome. Sometimes that way is easier than talking. Thank you for not insisting Charity stay here.”

“She’s important to you,” he said. “I didn’t fully appreciate how much you depend on each other until you allowed me into your thoughts.”

Milton didn’t know if he moved toward her, she toward him, or both of them simultaneously, but Honor ended up in his arms. He tightened his hold, enjoying the feel of her sleekly muscled body against his. She matched his six-foot height and fit perfectly in his arms. His cock hardened against her belly, and her eyes widened in surprise.

“Of course you’d be a virgin,” he murmured, stroking his hands down her back.

“We were off-limits to the Nameless Ones, but we talked about sex among ourselves.”

Arousal flashed deep inside him. Even though he knew he shouldn’t, he asked, “What did you talk about?” He cupped his hands around her high, firm buttocks and snugged her against his erection.

Desire apparently trumped discomfort, and she pushed against him. “Men. We talked about how penises get hard, and how one might feel inside us.” She licked her lips, and heat flickered in her eyes. “Sometimes we’d touch ourselves and mind link, so we could feel each other come.”

He’d never considered that possible use for his enhanced senses. The feedback loop from feeling what his partner felt right along with his own arousal intrigued him and made him hotter than hell. Honor pressed closer against him and kneaded his back.

Milton traced her full lower lip with his thumb. “Has anyone told you what a devilishly attractive woman you are?”

She shook her head.

He couldn’t resist the siren call of those lips. Milton angled his head and closed his mouth over hers. He kept the kiss tentative in case he wasn’t reading her signals right, but she ran her tongue over his mouth, tasting him. He licked, nibbled, sucked, and she kissed him back with growing fervor as her body radiated need. Her nipples hardened where they pressed into his chest, and she rubbed against his ridiculously erect cock.

About the time she pushed her tongue into his mouth, and he sparred with it, loving the taste of her, common sense intruded. He pulled back, his breath coming unevenly. He wanted to strip her clothes off, unwrap her, worship the amazing body he’d scuffled with in the gym, but tonight wasn’t the time. Not before a major offensive, and not with her in a direct line of command, with him functioning as her team leader. The women ended up his responsibility to remove Glory from reporting to Roy, but here was the same problem all over again.

Reluctantly, he placed his hands on either side of her head. “Honor, we can’t do this.”

“I know it’s wrong, but I’ve never been kissed before, and I…” She looked away. “…didn’t want it to end. I’m sorry, sir. I’ll do a better job of—”

“Goddammit, Honor. You’re not listening.” Frustration vied with desire and feeling like a shit for letting the situation get out of hand in the first place.

“Yes I am. You said what we did was wrong.”

“No, I didn’t, but the timing’s bad.” He paused a beat. “And you work for me, which means—”

“I know exactly what it means. I may have been sequestered in that compound, but I’m far from stupid.” She wrenched away from him and stumbled toward the door.

“Honor, please.”

She spun to face him. “This was a mistake.” Hurt carved furrows around her eyes. “I’m used to being by myself. Taking care of myself. Don’t worry. I won’t be a burden on you.”

“That’s not what I—”

She turned and fled out the door. Milton considered going after her, but recognized it was a bad idea. The attraction between them was so strong, there’d be no way to have a rational conversation.

Until they’d shared an orgasm or two…

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What does it take to move past a lifetime of hating?

Description:

Charity’s luck never ran strong because her original configuration was unstable. Her handlers designed experiments to fix the problem, but only made it worse.

Sick to death of living under their thumb, she jumps at a chance to escape her compound. She’s no sooner settled in as a CIA special operative—a role where she can put her augmented mind and body to use—when her wobbly genetics escalate.

Tony’s a freak—a genetically altered human waging war against the government. He snaps up an offer of amnesty, walking away from his role as a genetic researcher to work for the CIA. When Charity collapses in a severe seizure, he labors to save her life, but nothing’s working. In a last ditch effort, he joins his mind to hers and discovers he wants her more than he’s ever wanted anything. Only problem is she hates every single male freak for how they treated women in the compounds.

Charity recovers from her medical crisis, but all she can think about is Tony. Furious, determined to never let anyone like him near her, she blocks him from her mind, but he seeps back in anyway. Loving someone like Tony is a huge risk, a gamble that could throw her already precarious genes into a tailspin.

Knowing all that, why the hell is she considering it?

Excerpt:

Tony dialed his night vision up another notch and paced Frank as they ran hard around Langley’s perimeter. After being cooped up for hours in a plane, both men needed to burn off some steam. As Tony ran, scenes from his computer-like brain flashed before him.

After his petri dish birth on one of the breeding farms set up by the U.S. government, he’d been groomed from adolescence to work as a genetic researcher. None of them attended school; their knowledge was downloaded directly from huge mainframes operated by government scientists. He lived a comfortable life at his breeding farm near Portland, Oregon, but it blew up in his face seven years ago. He was twenty-two then and knee-deep in research to perfect those like him. Each successive strain was a bit better than the last, but problems still cropped up.

He’d been close to a major breakthrough—at least he thought he was, but it could’ve been a dead end like so much of his research—when a cadre of renegade freaks, genetically engineered humans just like him, staged a rebellion. They hadn’t cared for the decision to scrap the earlier prototypes, so they blew up every breeding farm they could find. After that, they created hidden compounds, like the one in Keyser, West Virginia where Tony ended up.

He hadn’t bought into the violence, but there wasn’t a hell of a lot of choice once it began. Normal humans shot them on sight after the rebellion, so he went along with the program and moved his genetic research to his assigned compound. He didn’t have nearly the access to materials he’d had prior to the rebellion, but at least he was still alive.

“You’re pretty quiet, buddy,” Frank observed.

“Sorry. I was thinking.”

The other man snorted. “Always dangerous. About what? Did you come up with something we missed on those hard drives Milton swiped from our headquarters?”

“Nah. Wish it were that straightforward.”

Frank slugged him in the arm. “Watch that esoteric stuff. Our programming’s not designed for it.”

“Maybe not, but do you ever wonder what will become of us?”

“The probability of that line of thought producing something of value is—”

“Not what I asked,” Tony snapped. “We’ve thrown in our lot with normal humans, V0 as it were. We can’t undo it.”

“So? You and I discussed this before we showed ourselves and requested amnesty. We could’ve remained hidden. They would have found Charity without our help, and then they’d have left. We didn’t take that route. Are you having second thoughts?”

“Not really. We didn’t fit in with the other Nameless Ones—except it was a ridiculous moniker, since we had names, we just didn’t tell them to the women.” Tony slowed when they came to a perimeter fence and turned to face the other man. Because of the physical strength built into his genetics, he wasn’t even slightly winded.

Frank stopped and tossed his hood back. Shaggy black hair fell to his shoulders, and he examined Tony through his amber, animal-like eyes with vertical slit pupils. All the men looked very much the same due to shared genetics. Tall, rangy, muscled. Both of them wore regulation issue CIA field gear they hadn’t changed out of yet.

“What aren’t you saying?” Frank asked.

“Not sure. Except I’m feeling like a man without a country. We didn’t fit in there, but we don’t fit in here, either. They don’t trust us. I saw it in Milton’s eyes that night you and I saved Charity’s life.”

Frank grimaced. “Shit, bro. We’re machines. We’re not supposed to have feelings. Who cares if they trust us, so long as they continue to offer us a place to work and live? When did you fall off the wagon?”

Should I?

Tony weighed the advisability of confiding in Frank, but if not him, then whom?

“Talk, or I’m going back to my apartment. I’m fine when we’re moving, but I’m getting cold. Can’t be much more than fifteen degrees out here. In fact,” Frank sent a short blurt of power outward, “it’s eighteen point three Fahrenheit, but there’s a five knot wind, which brings the ambient temperature to—”

“Never mind that. I know it’s cold without a weather report. I have a problem that runs deeper than the humans not trusting us. They made a commitment to us, same as we did to them. The odds of them welching on the deal—so long as we don’t fuck them over—is under twelve percent.”

Frank furled his brows. “Okay. So you have a problem. Is it something we could hash out inside where it’s warm?”

“I think better when I’m cold.”

“Fine.” Frank gestured with a gloved hand. “Whatever it is, get it out, so we can chase down something to eat and find our beds.”

Tony unclenched his jaw. It was either spit it out or shut up. Running probabilities about Frank’s reaction wouldn’t alter his choices. He squared his shoulders and began to talk. “I spent a long time—hours—linked to Charity when she was so compromised. I was the one who sent my energy into her.”

“I haven’t forgotten. So?”

“I developed a fondness for her during that time.” Very unmachine-like feelings tightened Tony’s gut.

Frank’s eyes widened. “Oh ho! You want to fuck her. I’m not seeing where that’s a problem. The women were off limits to us at the compounds, but the CIA doesn’t have those kind of rules.”

The unmachine-like feelings intensified, and Tony felt his face grow warm. “Yeah, I want her that way, but it’s more than that. I like her. She’s a bitch, sure, but she’s fresh and funny and spunky. We drummed the spirit out of so many of the women, but not her.”

“Have you talked with her about any of this?”

Tony shook his head. “No.”

“Why not? Seems to me that’d be the logical place to start.”

A snort blew past Tony’s lips. “Yeah, huh? Problem is I got a pretty good look inside her head. She hates us.”

Frank drew back. “Why? She never even met us before she and her group attacked our compound.”

Tony shook his head again. “It runs deeper than that. She hates all of us men—for how we treated her and the other women. Even if that weren’t there, it must’ve been appalling for her when she discovered the V4s slaughtered the females in our compound. Her team planned to rescue them. The V4s figured it out and beat them to the punch.”

“Yeah, but none of that was personal—” Frank began.

“Try telling her that. I’m sure it felt goddamned personal. Christ! The women’s bodies weren’t even cold when Charity stumbled onto them.”

“I’m not sure Charity found them, but the women who did certainly told her about it.” Frank jerked his chin in the general direction of their apartment building. “Let’s get moving.” When Tony fell into step with him, he went on. “Seems to me you’ve really only got two choices. One. You suck it up and keep quiet. We weren’t exactly designed to have mates. All our babies were created in test tubes—even after the breeding farms.”

“That was because we were afraid the women would pick our brains during sex, discover how powerful they were, and demand equality.”

“It doesn’t matter why,” Frank replied. “Even though I was a minority, I never believed it would’ve been the end of the world if the women discovered their innate power, but they didn’t. Regardless, over time, we got away from intercourse as a primary source of procreation.”

“We’re getting off course. What’s my second option?”

“Sit down and talk to her. Tell her how you feel.”

Tony rolled the probabilities of how that would go through his brain. “Less than an eighteen percent chance she’d be open to it,” he muttered.

Frank didn’t respond, and they ran the rest of the way to their building in silence. Once they were inside, Tony said, “Thanks.”

“For what? I didn’t help much. See you tomorrow at zero seven hundred.” Frank turned down the hallway that led to his apartment.

Tony climbed a flight of stairs to his quarters and let himself in. If getting something going with Charity was such a crapshoot, why couldn’t he let go of the idea?

When the answer came, he didn’t like it much. He’d broken protocol to save her, blending his energy with hers in an intimate pattern that wasn’t in any of the manuals. Apparently she’d gotten under his skin during the process, and now he was stuck. When he wasn’t busy, she was all he thought about.

He stripped out of his heavy field coat and tossed it over a chair. The rest of his clothes ended up in a heap on the floor. Everything could stand a tour through the washing machine, but not tonight. He headed for the bathroom and a shower with his cock standing out like a ship’s prow. He was hard almost all the time now, despite jacking off two or three times a day. Hard because he wanted her.

Crap!

He pulled the shower curtain aside. Once he got the water going, he stepped over the high rim of the tub. Even though he tried not to, his hands found their way to his engorged flesh, and somewhere between the soap and hot water, he made himself come with visions of what he thought Charity’s perfect, naked body would look like plastered behind his eyes…

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Trust is fragile. Hard to come by and easily broken.

Description:

Hope’s had her eye on Charlie for a long time, for all the good it’s done her. He’s not even aware of her existence—other than as a fellow agent working Black Ops for the CIA. Her friends, Glory, Honor, and Charity, found men to love, so Hope knows it’s possible. But the odds aren’t in her favor. Not in a world of normal humans where she’s a genetically modified aberration. Hell, even she refers to her kind as freaks. What man in his right mind would want one of those in his bed?

Charlie swore off women after his last marriage went down in drama-tipped flames fifteen years ago. His first mistress is danger. He fell in love with the adrenaline rush when he signed on as a Navy Seal right out of college, and he never got over the thrill of pitting himself against the impossible.

Hope caught his eye the night she escaped her compound, but years of ignoring anything resembling a feeling made it easy to ignore the attraction—until they’re paired on a mission. Her intelligence and resourcefulness impress the hell out of him, but her half-naked body, exposed after an animal attack, forces him to face feelings he was certain he’d buried for good.

Excerpt:

Hope blinked dirt out of her eyes and stifled a groan. She didn’t want to risk an energy flare looking for the others. Doing anything other than keeping her resources muffled was an enormous risk.

She took a mouthful of water from the canteen hanging off her field belt and swished it around her mouth. Time had passed since a blast hit her helicopter, knocking it out of the air. Maybe as much as an hour. Things happened fast after the bird was hit, and her team leader, Charlie McClaren, folded her hand around the ripcord on her parachute.

He’d all but pushed her out the open chopper door with exhortations to, “Watch out for the rotor, goddammit.”

A few other choice instructions were lost in the slipstream as she plummeted from the dying aircraft, her pounding heart stenciling fear from her head to her toes.

What was supposed to be a simple out-and-back mission had turned into something much more complex, never mind much more dangerous. She’d been expecting Charlie or Frank to materialize ever since she cut herself out of the tree her chute got tangled in, but neither man showed up.

She didn’t understand why. They couldn’t have landed very far away after the crash—assuming they made it out of the chopper intact. Too rattled by her first actual parachute jump, she’d neglected to watch for the other chutes, which would’ve told her the location of her teammates.

Were they dead? Or tripped up by the old growth forest?

She’d been careful chopping her way out of a particularly tall tree. Her caution ate up well over half an hour while she freed herself from where she swung thirty feet above the ground. She picked splinters out of her hands as she considered what to do next.

According to the GPS in her augmented brain, she was in a wooded corridor in north central Maine. She, Charlie, and Frank had been on a routine mission to pick up Cortexiphan, an experimental drug banned by the FDA, from a freak compound near Bangor. Not that they’d expected the freaks—a renegade group of genetically modified humans who wanted to take down the U.S. government—to just hand over the drug, but military planes had annihilated the settlement. No one expected it would be difficult to waltz in and locate the chemical.

Hope shook her head. Underestimating her people was always a mistake. The genetically modified were smarter, stronger, faster, and more capable of pivoting in response to adverse conditions than normal humans ever dreamed of being.

She sheltered in a thick grove of some sort of deciduous tree and leaned against one of them. Could she risk her communicator? Would telepathy be safer? Hope grimaced. Freaks had to be behind the attack on her chopper, which meant nothing was safe. Who else would shoot down a CIA chopper over U.S. soil?

She bit hard on her lower lip. She understood freaks—how they thought, what made them tick—because she was one. She’d escaped the compounds, though, and left that life behind.

“What do I do now?”

She started at the sound of her voice, not realizing she’d spoken aloud until she heard the words. A quick glance at the sky told her she didn’t have much daylight left to work with. Not that it mattered. She could always dial in her night vision, but it held a particular energy signature.

The flash of warmth in Charlie’s hazel eyes as he’d covered her hand with his, instructing her how to yank the ripcord, filled her mind. She liked him. A lot. But he barely knew she existed beyond her working under him. She’d made a few pathetic attempts at flirting, but he’d ignored her. Maybe her shy smiles were so subtle he hadn’t interpreted them the way she hoped, but that probably wasn’t it. She was a freak. He was a normal human, and a goddamned good-looking one at that. He could have his pick of women. No reason on earth to look twice at her.

Much like the genetically altered men she’d spent her life with, Charlie was tall and rangy, with dark hair and hazel eyes. He was addicted to danger the same as all CIA operatives. When twin fires burned in the backs of his eyes, it was all she could do not to throw herself into his arms and beg him to take her.

Here.

Now.

In front of everyone.

She tossed her head, muffling a snort. She knew next to nothing about men, sex, or love. Her entire primer on all things human was derived from hours of television and the Internet. Her other source of information came from pumping Honor, Glory, and Charity, three of her closest friends, about their relationships with CIA agents they’d hooked up with.

A branch crackled behind her. Hope lunged for her sidearm, thought better of it, and focused her mental kinetics. She didn’t loose anything—not yet. Power ran through her in high voltage jolts. Holding it in abeyance wasn’t easy, but she needed to know what she faced. The minute she targeted someone, her ability would glow like a beacon, alerting any genetically modified human in the area to both her presence and precise location.

“Hope! I’ve been hunting for you ever since the chopper crashed.”

Frank limped from behind a bush. He was well over six feet tall with heavy slabs of muscle providing superior physical abilities. Genetically modified like her, his shaggy dark hair brushed his shoulders, and his amber animal-like eyes with vertical slit pupils came close to radiating joy. Given Frank’s taciturn ways, that said a lot.

She siphoned off the lethal force dancing through her body an electron at a time. “Fuck!” She trotted to his side. “I almost killed you.”

A crooked grin lent him a boyish appearance. “I felt the energy build. Figured I needed to say something.”

Hope took a closer look. A wicked looking gash ran from below Frank’s right eye to his cheekbone, and his hands were abraded and bleeding. She ran a hand down his body, scanning for injuries.

Before she was done, he batted it away. “I twisted my ankle when I landed in a bramble thicket. It’s how I got so banged up—fighting my way out of thorns as long as my thumb. I’ve instituted a healing program. Should be better than new in a few hours.” Breath hissed from between his teeth. “Shit! After my last impromptu exit from a chopper, I promised myself I’d practice parachuting, but somehow I never freed up the time.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve never even come close to doing anything like jumping out of a helicopter. Didn’t like it much. Any idea where Charlie is?”

Frank shook his head. “I was hoping he’d be with you.”

“We may not have had all that fancy commando training, but I never would’ve guessed how easy it is to lose someone between an auto-rotating helicopter and the ground.”

“We have to locate him.” Frank narrowed his eyes, or he might have winced, she couldn’t tell. “You haven’t expended any power, or I’d have found you sooner. Charlie certainly hasn’t used any.”

“It’s not safe. Charlie must’ve figured that out.” She crossed her arms under her breasts. “Freaks did this, huh?”

He cocked his head to one side. “Who else? I’m surprised you asked. Their signature is all over it.”

Hope shrugged, feeling uncomfortable for missing something obvious. “Maybe it is. Once the chopper started going nuts, I kind of stopped thinking.”

He looked at her then. Really looked and ran his own scan of her systems before she could move out of range.

“I’m all right.” She took a few steps away. “If I weren’t, I’d have told you.”

“Needed to check for myself,” he said gruffly. “We have more latitude with two of us—but only if we’re able to tap into all of our abilities.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She frowned, still not feeling a hundred percent.

His face settled into the patronizing lines she associated with Nameless Ones, genetically modified men who’d made her life hell when they lived in compounds. All of them—men and women alike—were products of genetic research originally hatched up by the U.S. government. Appalled by how they were treated, they staged a rebellion, and blew up the breeding farms. While women had been an integral part of the rebellion, they’d been relegated to second-class citizenry after a few years of living in hidden compounds. Their abilities were superior to the men’s, and the men had been frightened of losing the upper hand—

“It means we need to risk exposure to find Charlie. We can’t leave without him.” Frank’s words broke into her thoughts, and she shelved her foray into the past.

Hope set her jaw in determination and moved back to Frank’s side, so she could join her mental energy with his more easily. “Ready.”

“Before we do something that’s certain to compromise us, have you looked for him?”

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The bigger the secret and the longer it’s been hidden, the harder it is to reveal.

Description:

Faith fled her compound one wintry night with four other genetically modified women. Glory, Honor, Charity, and Hope have all found men who adore them. Faith is happy for her sisters, but it’s lonely on her own. A man piqued her interest, but she ran the probabilities, and the odds of him ever being interested in her are thin. Tough and forbidding, Reginald was a field surgeon in the Middle East. He eats and breathes medicine. Besides, he’s married to the CIA. No wives in his past. Faith hacked into the personnel database to check.

Reginald Thomas agreed to run the CIA’s infirmary after a bullet nailed him in Afghanistan. He’s one of a handful of scientists who produced the original batches of genetically modified humans, and he’s laid low since their rebellion. The catastrophe rankles, but he hasn’t given up finding a fix for their genome problems.

A permanent bachelor for a host of feeble reasons, he’s substituted immersion in medicine and science for a personal life. Easier that way. And a whole lot cleaner.

The status quo might be sterile, but at least it’s trouble free. When Faith catches his eye, he fights his attraction to her, but it’s a losing battle. Loving her fulfills him, and he can’t walk away. What will happen if she discovers he helped create those like her? In a radical departure from his normal forthright manner, he buries that fact deep. If she never finds out, it can’t ever come back to bite him.

Excerpt:

Faith walked slowly across the CIA’s extensive grounds. She’d just seen Hope and Charlie off at the terminal building next to the airstrip. They’d looked deliriously happy, and Faith was grateful Charlie’s near miss with death hadn’t left lasting problems. She stuffed her hands into her pockets, wishing she’d brought gloves. For once it wasn’t raining, but it was almost dark, and the wind had a bite to it.

Milton Reins, head of the CIA, had been there to wish Hope and Charlie well too. He’d also been chockful of instructions about the Gulfstream business class jet until Charlie reminded his boss he was qualified to fly it.

Not quite ready to return to her apartment building and all the new women who’d been assigned housing there, Faith wandered aimlessly. Glory, Honor, Charity, and Hope—women who were like sisters to her—had hooked up with men they loved dearly. It seemed like an impossible fantasy come true.

A few months back, they’d lived at a compound in Washington State, sharing a dormitory with seven more genetically modified women just like them. Glory’s bravery freed the five of them who’d been willing to trust her, and Faith blessed the CIA every single day for taking a chance on them as agents.

More women had joined their ranks during a raid they’d just completed in Maine. Twenty to be precise. It made her heart glad the women had been able to lay their reservations aside and take a chance on a new life. One where they’d be treated like human beings rather than slaves.

She really should hustle back to the apartment building and see if any of them wanted to go to dinner. Faith remembered her first days on the sprawling CIA campus. How lost and overwhelmed she’d felt. It had helped that Glory was already there. The least she could do was pass on the goodwill to the new gals.

“Faith. Hold up.”

She glanced over her shoulder at the sound of Frank’s voice, but kept walking. Frank was genetically modified too, but he’d been one of the Nameless Ones, men who’d made the women’s lives holy hell in the compounds. He was also a genetic researcher. Her friend Charity had fallen in love with Tony, the scientist Frank defected with, but Faith didn’t harbor fond feelings for any of the genetically modified men.

During the seven years the CIA had hunted those like her, they’d labeled them freaks. The tag stuck, and she still thought of men like Frank as freaks, but not necessarily her or the women.

How’s that for hypocrisy? She smothered a snorting laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Frank caught up with her.

Faith shrugged. “I was thinking about how the CIA calls us freaks, and I’m good when it means you. Less good when it means me.”

“Doesn’t matter what they call us,” Frank countered. “They took us in. Gave us homes and work. They didn’t have to. How’d Charlie look? I’d meant to check him over one last time before he left, but didn’t get there in time.”

“Like the old Charlie. None the worse for wear. Dr. Thomas was there. I’m pretty sure he had some of the same concerns you do, but Milton told him to go back to his infirmary.”

Frank hooted laughter. “Bet that didn’t go over very well.”

“No. It didn’t. The doc stayed until Charlie and Hope headed out onto the tarmac.” Faith narrowed her eyes. “You’ve gotten to know him pretty well, huh?”

“Who?”

“The doctor.”

“In a manner of speaking, yeah. After Tony and I pulled a rabbit out of a black hole and saved Charlie, the guy decided we weren’t just a bunch of uninformed quacks pretending we knew something about physiology.”

“You’re mixing your metaphors.”

“So?” Frank angled his unusual amber eyes with their vertical slit pupils her way. Like all the genetically modified men, he was tall and broad-shouldered with a rangy build. Unevenly cut jet-black hair hung to his shoulders.

“So, nothing. Just pointing it out. Um, did you want something? I really should get back to the apartment building. We have all those new women, and—”

“Yeah I did,” he interrupted in true Nameless One fashion.

Faith shook off irritation. “Whatever it is, hurry up.”

He tucked a hand beneath her elbow in a distressingly familiar gesture. “How about joining me in the cafeteria for dinner? Tony and I got done early tonight, and he’s spending the evening with Charity.”

Faith jerked away from his touch. “The new women are my first responsibility,” she said stiffly, wishing Frank would take the hint and leave. If he were human, he might’ve, but subtlety and picking up on social cues weren’t part of how any of them had been programmed.

“Bring ’em along.” He grinned rakishly. “You may not like me, but one of them might.”

Faith stopped walking and stared at him. “What the hell, Frank? Any woman in a storm?”

“Now who’s mixing metaphors?” He looked down his nose at her.

Faith felt her face heat. “I’ll be in the dining hall in half an hour or so. If you want to sit with us, that’s fine—so long as none of the women object. They’re much fresher from a compound than me, so they may well run screaming from the room if you get too close.”

Frank closed a hand around one wrist, effectively trapping her. “Get real, Faith. I wasn’t in your compound, but it wasn’t as if we flogged the women. You make it sound as if we were the devil incarnate.”

“To us, you were. You rationed everything from food to blankets to when we had to show up to have our eggs harvested.” She angled her head to one side. “The men in my compound ate what they wanted. They weren’t half-starved like us. I bet they had more than one blanket. And they had private rooms; they weren’t stuffed twelve to a dorm like we were—”

“You can stop now.” Frank held up his other hand. “I’m sorry. I felt bad I didn’t do more at the time, and I still do, but you living in the past and hanging onto hostility and bitterness isn’t wise.”

“Why not?” she demanded. “What’s the phrase? He who forgets history is doomed to repeat it.”

“George Santayana said that, but you’re living in a different world now. The odds are better than seventy percent the CIA will effectively quell the rebellion sometime in the next six months. V4 has proven unstable. God only knows how many freaks were made with that configuration, but they’ll implode, which will further thin their ranks.”

“Fascinating,” she muttered, “but I need to get moving.”

Frank released her wrist. “I’d like to get to know you better, Faith, but I won’t be heavy-handed about it. Give it some thought, and let me know.”

She took a step backward. “What about wanting to give the women a thrill by having dinner with them?”

“Eh, I just said that to see if you’d react. Be jealous or something.” He actually looked mildly uncomfortable when he twisted his mouth into a frown. “You weren’t, and I’m crushed, but I’ll get over it.”

Without waiting for a response from her, he spun and took off at a quick lope.

Faith ran hard the other way, heading for her apartment building. Her thoughts were a roiling mess. Charity may have managed to square hooking up with a nameless one, but Faith didn’t have it in her to overlook their years of horrific treatment. The women may not have been beaten, but they’d endured every other type of abuse.

Except sexual.

Intimacy was forbidden in the compounds. The reason Glory had run away was because a Nameless One tried to rape her. She’d used her kinetics to kill him, been scared half to death, and gone out a window in the thick of winter with only a worn pair of tennis shoes and a threadbare sweater. It was hard enough in Washington, but by the time she’d hitchhiked halfway across the country to Minnesota, the cold had almost killed her.

Frank was a hunk of a man. All the Nameless Ones were, but Faith couldn’t see herself letting her guard down long enough to allow him inside her hopes and dreams, let alone sleeping with him. The thought of physical intimacy with someone like him made her vaguely ill.

She reached her building and tipped her chin so the retinal scanner could trip the lock and let her in. She was capable of employing kinetics to spring any lock, but so long as she was here, she’d do things the CIA way. After she nodded to the security guard patrolling the lobby, she pulled open a stairwell door and headed for the third floor.

Faith employed telepathy as she hastened up the stairs to see which women might be interested in joining her for dinner in the cafeteria. By the time she got to her floor, seven of the new recruits waited for her, milling about in the hallway. Faith recognized three of them since they were part of a group assigned specifically to her for weapons and martial arts practice.

A thought struck Faith. “I never asked, and we mostly communicate via telepathy when we train, but did you ever swap out your identification numbers from the compounds for names?”

A woman from Faith’s group squared her shoulders. Like all the genetically modified women, she had long, thick dark hair and clear green eyes. The women had sleekly muscled bodies, and were both tall and strong. “Some of us did,” she replied.

Faith smiled grimly. “That was one of the concessions we insisted on in my compound. We got sick of numbers, so we named ourselves and refused to respond when Nameless Ones called us by our numbers. Tell you what. Before we’re done eating tonight, at least the seven of you will have picked names.”

“Sounds like a plan,” another of the women said.

“Tell us about Hope and Charlie.” Another pressed forward and clasped her hands together. “It seems like such a fairytale romance. Everything went well? They’re off on a honeymoon?”

“Well, they’re not exactly married, so honeymoon isn’t the correct word,” Faith replied. “But I watched their plane take off, and they did look happy.”

A collective ahhhhh surged through the group, and seven pairs of green eyes shone with delight for one of their kind who’d found happiness.

Faith could relate, and it made her both sad and angry. Up until she’d fled the compound, the thought of falling in love was just a fantasy. Something that happened in movies she watched on the Internet, but nothing that would ever happen to her. Frank’s invitation—and his obvious interest—nagged at the back of her mind.

No. I’d rather be dead than hook up with a Nameless One. Charity may have, but I’m not her.

“Dinner?” Faith urged to quell her churning thoughts and trotted back down the stairway. If they got there after eight, the steam tables would be closed. Snacks were always available, but they weren’t as satisfying as a hot meal.

The women trailed after her, chatting among themselves. They sounded carefree, another emotion that had eluded them in the compounds where they’d had to watch their backs every single minute.

“What do you think about goddess warrior names?” One of the women joined Faith.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Faith offered. “A name is important. It symbolizes who you are. Humans don’t get to pick their own names, but some of the research I’ve read indicates that people grow into their given names—for good or for ill.”

“So I should pick a name where I have an affinity for the woman, right?”

About the Author:

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

Find Ann At:

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Spotlight: My Defender (Bewitched and Bewildered Book Eight), by Alanea Alder 2

Available For Purchase On:

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Tagline: She’s been Bewitched, he’s Bewildered

Description:

When a mysterious illness begins to sweep through Noctem Falls affecting the children, Eleanor Kimball is called to the city to see if she can determine what is wrong. As a pediatrician Eleanor loves children and desires many of her own, however, after several dating disasters she has not only sworn off men, but has given up her dream of a family, and the promise of a destined mate.

After discovering Grant in Noctem Falls she is faced with her own insecurities and finds it hard to believe in his love.

Grant Douglas is a man of few words and doesn’t do well surrounded by others. He is scared to death of finding a mate. He believes the harshness of his past, where he struggled to survive, didn’t cultivate a gentle heart. After a series of terrifying nightmares where his mate is at risk, Grant has decided he doesn’t want a mate at all.

When he meets Ellie, he realizes there are some things worth fighting for. Even if it means putting himself out there by becoming the Alpha he was born to be and facing the power he desperately tries to hide.

As Ellie starts to believe in Grant’s love it will take every ounce their combined strength to discover why the shifter children are suddenly falling ill before it’s too late.

Excerpt:

He grabbed the hem of her shirt and in one fluid motion pulled it over her head. She squealed and grabbed for a blanket. His dark chuckle reverberated through her. “Don’t hide from me.”

Ellie had one arm across her breasts and the other one was desperately trying to use the blanket to cover her legs. “My thighs are huge!”

When Grant crawled out from under the blankets Ellie could clearly see that he was, indeed, naked. With a wolfish grin he pushed her onto the pillows. “The only time a man should be worried about a woman’s thighs is when he’s trying to earn a place between them.”

What was probably supposed to be a sexy moment turned into a game of tug of war with the blanket. Their actions reminded her of playing with her neighbor’s dog, Kip. She released the blanket and Grant landed back on the mattress. She covered her mouth with both hands giggling uncontrollably.

Grant tilted his head to one side, just like Kip and she could barely breathe she was laughing so hard. “S-s-stop it!” When he growled out his frustration she had to cross her legs.

“Ellie, what has gotten into you?” he asked as he rolled her on her back. He knelt between her legs and stared down into her face.

“You remind me of Kip.” She wiped her eyes.

“Who is the hell is Kip?”

“My neighbors yorkie-poo.”

“What the fuck is a yorkie-poo?”

“Yorkshire terrier and poodle.”

He blinked. “I remind you of a poodle?”

About The Author:

USA Today Best Selling Author, Alanea loves reading almost as much as she loves writing. She began writing at a very young age, some of her first scribblings are treasured in a keepsake box and written in green marker. She started when she was still in grade school and continued on through college.

She believes that love truly conquers all and that everyone no matter what, deserves a chance at that love and a place they can call home. She absolutely loves to hear from her readers so don’t hesitate to reach out to her. As always, her promise to her readers remains, “If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing!”

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