BLOG TOUR | Ginger Snapped – Chloe Sunstone

Hi everyone!

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Ginger Snapped.


Ginger Snapped: A Cybercrime Thriller with a Shocking Twist

Publication Date: October 22nd, 2018

Genre: Thriller

How does an amazing professional opportunity descend into a living nightmare?

Carefree Ginger’s motto of “Work Hard, Play Harder” shapes her life. So when her husband, Jake, gets a job offer on the other side of the country, she is up for the adventure.

But after Jake accepts the promotion, nothing is as expected. While Ginger remains in Cleveland to sell their house, she is plagued by strange prank calls, premonition-like nightmares, and the feeling that she is being watched. Is Jake’s new job putting her in danger?

Unfortunately, she ignores her intuition and soon finds herself face to face with a ruthless killer. Trapped in a deadly world of corporate corruption and murderous greed, she must overcome her own fears and rely on her wits if she plans to survive.

Although the first in the Ginger Gibson series, this is a standalone book.

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK

Review:

Ginger Snapped was interesting from the first line and kept me hooked until the end. When a book announces it has a “shocking twist” I’m always suspicious if that is the case…but I can honestly say, I was shocked and surprised!

I loved the characters. Ginger was a great female lead, and I enjoyed reading her story. The romance was sweet, possibly a little too sweet but I enjoy a healthy romance.

Overall, I found this novel fun. The cyber part wasn’t too over my head, the thrills were awesome and the end shocked me as promised! I recommend checking this out.

Rating:

4/5☆


Book Excerpt:

Oh No! I’m back. I am surrounded by inky black nothingness. The air is musty…damp, my nostrils fill with the smell of dank basement. Like in a haunted house, filled with saws and chains and bloody hooks, this is the perfect place for any psycho to hide his tools of the crazy trade. I’m trembling, from the all-encompassing fear, eating at every cell in my body. Where am I? My fingers search out for clues. Beneath me is a thin mattress on a hard surface. My head rests on a concrete-like pillow. My breathing escalates as the panic rises in my chest. I open my mouth to scream, but only a muted croak escapes. Over the thunder of my pounding heart, I hear a booming crack, a gunshot. I recognize the sound from a trip to the range with Jake years earlier.

I swing my legs over the side of my perch, thinking in my blind panic to run even though I cannot see. I can’t ignore this intense urge to flee. But my impulse is thwarted by an unknown restraint trapping my left arm, a rope? Panic has me in its grip. I gasp for air to fill my lungs but produce only whimpers and muted pleas.

A loud screech reverberates through the darkness. Rats? Oh, please, no rats! Could this get any worse? Hysterical, I yank relentlessly on the rope tethering me. With each tug, the line cuts deeper into my skin. My arm warms as blood seeps from the gouges, coating my hand and fingers. Behind me, the pounding sound of footsteps startles me. Before I can turn to confront my visitor, I feel the rush of air preceding the impact to the back of my head. A blaze of bright stars then, a different blackness envelopes me.


After over twenty years in Human Resources, Chloe decided to make a change. She returned to her first love of writing. She combined her corporate experience with her love for the written word to create engaging cyber-crime thrillers.

On a personal note, Chloe lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her loving husband, Mike. They spend their free time boating, scuba diving, and of course, reading. Her latest cybercrime mystery, Ginger Snapped, is available on Amazon.

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🌟🌟🌟Giveaway🌟🌟🌟

Signed Print Copy of Ginger Snapped

(North America Only)


Blog Tour Schedule

Jan. 14th

Reads & Reels (Promo) http://www.readsandreels.com
Reading Nook (Promo) https://readingnook84.wordpress.com/
Yearwood La Novella (Promo) https://yearwooddailybookreview.com/
From Belgium with Book Love (Review) https://frombelgium.wixsite.com/withbooklove
Jessica Rachow (Review) https://jessicarachow.wordpress.com
The Writer’s Alley (Review) https://www.jacobrundle.com

Jan. 15th

Life at 17 (Promo) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Promo) https://klling.wordpress.com/
The Cozy Pages (Promo) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/
J. Bronder Book Reviews (Promo) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Jan. 16th

Misty’s Book Space (Promo) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com
Tsarina Press (Review) https://tsarinapress.com/
Hannah’s Beautiful Fantasy (Promo) https://hannahsbeautifulfantasy.blog/

Jan. 17th

Bobo’s Book Bank (Promo) https://bobosbookbank.com/
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Guest Post) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Promo) http://bansheeirishhorrorblog.com/
Literary Dust (Promo) https://literarydust.wordpress.com/

Jan. 18th

Didi Oviatt (Promo) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com/
The Return Cart (Promo) http://thereturncart.com/
Rockabilly Spoonie (Promo) https://lauramorningstar.com/


Hosted By:

R & R Book Tours


Let me know what you think!

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BLOG TOUR | The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King – Jerome Charyn

Hi everyone!

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! It’s simple, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and you’re entered!


In this novel, which Kirkus Reviews calls, “colorful, entertaining” in its starred review, Charyn gives new dimension to Roosevelt, revealing Manhattan’s swampy underbelly after the Civil War, TR’s farcical and dangerous expeditions to the Dakota Badlands, and his personal anguish at losing his mother and wife on the same day. Like the best of E.L. Doctorow, historical detail is supported by a keen grasp of language and marked by a lack of sentimentality about the past. With a colorful supporting cast—including Buffalo Bill Cody, Eleanor Roosevelt, Leon Czolgosz (President McKinley’s assassin), plus Josephine, the loveable mountain lion who was the mascot of the Rough Riders (seen with Roosevelt on the cover), and the Rough Riders themselves, whom Roosevelt never deserted, THE PERILOUS ADVENTURES OF THE COWBOY KING is historical fiction and Jerome Charyn at their very best.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Review:

I know…I know…don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Generally, I’m not a hystorical fiction fan. Not because it isn’t good reading, but because I’m too interested in the fantasy type novels, and I never give historical a chance. Well, when this book was offered to me, I couldn’t help myself. This time, I judged the book by its cover, and I think it worked out pretty well.

I don’t know Jerome Charyn’s work, but I do really like his style of writing. The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King is narrated by Teddy Roosevelt (yes, the president), and is an interesting take on his life, and a pretty fun biography to read.

The downside to this novel, in my opinion, is that if you aren’t a history buff, it isn’t as easy to get into it. It’s still fun, just took me a little work to grasp everything.

For fans of historical fiction, I think this is an awesome tale and an interesting and fun look into Roosevelt’s life. Definitely check it out!

Rating:

4/5☆


For an astonishing span of over fifty years, Jerome Charyn has been dazzling readers with his “polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing” (Jonathan Lethem). His comic-tragic sensibility, along with his penchant for writing bold and adventurous stories, has inspired a new generation of writers across Europe and the United States, where he is nothing less than a literary icon. Now, with The Cowboy King, Charyn continues a literary structure he invented with Johnny One-Eye over a decade ago, that of using American history and the great figures it has produced to create a first-person novel rich in historical detail and uproarious dialogue.

Charging full on into American history, the main character of this audacious novel is Teddy Roosevelt, “the perfect bull in a china shop.” Raising the literary bar to a new level, Charyn recreates the New York City Police Commissioner, Rough Rider, and soon-to-become 26th President through his derring-do adventures, effortlessly juxtaposing superhero dialogue and daring exploits with haunting pathos and aching tragedy. Refusing to surrender to the womb-to-tomb of the president’s story, Charyn covers Roosevelt’s life up until his assumption to the presidency in 1901. Cowboy King begins with TR’s early years, as a sickly, asthma-wracked kid who was saved by his heroic and larger-than-life father, Braveheart, and concludes with McKinley’s assassination, told in poignantly elegiac prose, positioning Roosevelt as a fearless crime fighter and a pioneering environmentalist who would grow up to be our greatest peacetime president.

With an operatic cast, including “Bamie,” Roosevelt’s crippled older sister; or Eleanor, his gawky little niece; as well as the devoted Rough Riders, the novel even memorably features the lovable companion mountain lion Josephine, who in real life helped train Roosevelt for his “crowded hour,” the epic charge up San Juan Hill.
A master of lyrical farce and literary ventriloquism, Charyn has created a classic of historical fiction, confirming his place as “one of the most important writers in American literature” (Michael Chabon).

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🧡🧡🧡Giveaway🧡🧡🧡

USA, Canada & UK only

A copy of THE PERILOUS ADVENTURES OF THE COWBOY KING and Charyn’s previous historical fiction novel, I AM ABRAHAM

To enter, leave comment below! I will select one winner at random on January 16th and comment, letting you know you’ve won. You will then have 24 hours to email me with your name and address. I am just selecting a winner, Over the River PR will be handling the mailing of the prize.


This Tour Is Hosted By: Over the River PR
Follow the tour by clicking here.

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*CLOSED* GIVEAWAY | 500 Followers!

Hi Everyone!

I’m so excited to have reached the 500 follower mark here on WordPress. I have had a ton of fun over the last year or so, building my blog and this is just another step for me!

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As a thank you, I’m holding a giveaway for a

$25 US Amazon.com Gift Card!


To Enter:

  • Follow my blog via your WordPress blog or email. (If you’re already following, awesome! One step finished! :))
  • Comment on this post and tell me what you’re currently reading.
  • Fill this FORM out completely.

Other Things You Need To Know:

The Google Form will be used to ensure I have a valid way to contact you, because the Amazon.com gift card will be sent via email. Please be sure to submit a valid email. *Your email will not be shared, invalid emails will result in disqualification.*

*PLEASE NOTE* An Amazon.com Gift Card CANNOT be used on any other Amazon site (i.e. Amazon UK, Canada, etc). Please only enter if you can use an Amazon.com Gift Card.

Contest will run from 1/8/19-1/15/19

At 6PM (EST) on the 15th, I will randomly select a winner, and reply to the winner’s comment on this blog post and I will email you to let you know you have won. You will have 24 hours (until 6PM on 1/16/19) to acknowledge your win, and confirm that you can use an Amazon.com gift card. Once I’ve heard from you, I will email the gift card to you. If I do not hear from you, you will be disqualified and I will select another winner.


Thank you so much for being a part of my journey. I cannot wait to see where it takes me and I am so glad you are along for the ride! Good luck in the giveaway!

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BLOG TOUR | To Dream the Blackbane – Richard J. O’Brien

Hi everyone!

Today is my stop on the blog tour for author Richard J. O’Brien’s latest novel, To Dream the Blackbane! Don’t forget to enterthe giveaway!


To Dream the Blackbane

Publication Date: December 29th, 2018

Genre: Fantasy/ Urban Fantasy

A cosmic event in 2015 fused Earth with the faerie realm. Scientists referred to the event as The Anomaly. A byproduct of The Anomaly was the advent of hybrid beings—people who became mixed with whatever animal or object was closest to them the moment the event occurred. Humans, or pedigrees, soon relegated fairy refugees and hybrids into ghetto zones in large cities.

Seventy years later, Wolfgang Rex, a second-generation hybrid—part human, part Rhodesian Ridgeback—is a retired police detective who runs a private investigation business in Chicago’s Southside. It’s a one-hybrid show; though Rex couldn’t survive without his assistant, the faerie Sally Sandweb.

One night, two vampires visit Rex and offer him a substantial reward for the recovery of a stolen scroll. Later that same evening, Charlotte Sweeney-Jarhadill, a pedigree woman from Louisiana, visits Rex and hires him to exorcize the headless ghost of a Confederate soldier from her home.

To complicate matters, the private detective ends up falling for Charlotte. Meanwhile, the vampires demand results in the search for the missing scroll. When Rex’s assistant Sally goes missing, he must stay alive long enough to find her. Charlotte and the vampires, however, have other plans for Rex.

Add to Goodreads | Available on Amazon

Review:

I saw the cover for To Dream the Blackbane, and was very compelled to read it. I love the noir-inspired, private dective feel, and honestly, the story didn’t disappoint me. It gave me exactly what I was hoping for when I read the synopsis. There’s tongue-in-cheek humor and crime, with an interesting twist of fantasy/urban fantasy elements.

I absolutely loved the world building of this novel. There is a ton of backstory and worldbuilding, that gives us a really vivid look into the types of characters. We have everything from animal-human hybrids to gargoyles and vampires, along with a whole lot of other types of creatures. To sum it up, To Dream the Blackbane is a blend of well known creatures into an urban fantasy setting and it was done really well.

I’m really impressed. Richard J. O’Brien has crafted a really unique novel, and I think it’s worth a try! Highly recommended.

Rating:

5/5☆


Excerpt from the Prologue

One night, the stars went out. When they came back twenty-four hours later, the world witnessed new constellations. The year was 2015. Scientists called the event The Anomaly back then, and the name stuck. Before long, they found out that the new constellations weren’t the only product of The Anomaly.

Seventy years later, the debate continues between scholars about whether Earth herself, along with the solar system, remains in the same universe. In addition to the new constellations, one-third of Earth was shaved off—from Mongolia down over Greece and points south—and replaced with new lands. The satellites that once orbited Earth all vanished. Efforts were made in vain to launch new satellites into orbit, but none survived.

In the early days there was no way of knowing whether that chunk of the world had been obliterated, or if the land and its people—and a good chunk of the ocean—had been transported to a non-local plane. That’s what the scientists called it. A non-local plane. It was accepted as fact that the walls between realities had weakened. What no one could prove was how all of this had happened. As for everyone on the missing side, no one ever heard from them again.


Richard J. O’Brien is a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in Creative Writing Program. Richard’s novels include Under the Bronze Moon, Infestation, and The Garden of Fragile Things. His short stories have appeared in The Del Sol Review, Duende, Pulp Literature, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Weirdbook, and other magazines. Richard lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Rowan College at Gloucester County and Stockton University.

Website | Goodreads | Amazon

⭐⭐⭐Giveaway⭐⭐⭐

International Giveway: For your chance to win 1of 2 digital copies of To Dream the Blackbane, click HERE!

North America Only: Win 1 of 2 print copies of To Dream the Blackbane, click HERE!


Tour Schedule

Jan 7th
Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://www.readsandreels.com
Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Excerpt) https://klling.wordpress.com/
The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/

Jan. 8th
On the Shelf Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com
Jessica Rachow (Review) https://jessicarachow.wordpress.com
Your Books, My Reviews (Review) https://yourbooksmyreview.wordpress.com

Jan. 9th
I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
The Voluptuous Book Diva (Excerpt) http://www.thevoluptuousbookdiva.com/
Rockabilly Spoonie (Interview) https://lauramorningstar.com
Splashes into Books (Excerpt) https://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com/

Jan. 10th
Anthony Avina (Excerpt) http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com
The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/
The Return Cart (Review) http://thereturncart.com/
Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Jan 11th
Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com
Cats Love Coffee Book Reviews (Review) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com
J. Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/
Sammie Reads (Review) https://sammiereadsbook.wordpress.com


Book Recieved From:

R & R Book Tours


Let me know what you think! Good luck in the giveaway!!

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BOOK BLITZ | In Servitude – Heleen Kist

Inservitude

I’m thrilled to share this gorgeous book today! In Servitude by Heleen Kist, has been blowing readers away in Europe since it’s release and now is taking North America by storm!

Today I will be sharing an exclusive excerpt, and inviting you to enter an international giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of this exciting thriller!
In Servitude is also available for review through R&R Book Tours. Find out how you can get a copy below!

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In Servitude

Recently voted Top 50 Best Indie of 2018 on Read Free.ly

Publication Date: August 23, 2018

Genre: Thriller/ Suspense/ Mystery

Do you owe your family your life?

Grace thought her sister led a charmed existence.

She was wrong.

Now she has to pay the price.

When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully planned life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory had been manipulated into illegal activities at her trendy vegan café. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings.

Determined to keep her fingers clean and protect those Glory left behind, Grace plots to escape the clutches of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her moral certainty is challenged when more family secrets emerge and her sister’s past intentions remain unclear.

Grace grows convinced Glory was murdered. Why won’t anyone listen?

Seeking justice, she finds betrayal…

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

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Blue pulled at the lead. I let him off once I’d scanned the area and noted no loose dogs. Only a lone figure loitering. His eye line crossed mine as he also examined the park, and paused on me long enough to raise a creepy sensation.

I moved to a bench by the play park and pretended to tie my laces. When I straightened up, the man was striding straight towards me. I searched for Blue, hoping for a semblance of protection, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was anyone else.

Before I could stop him, the man sat down next to me. He whistled and shouted, ‘Here boy!’ then faced me with a disturbing grin. As if he knew the dog wouldn’t come. I jumped to my feet and looked around. What had he done?

On the second blow of silent air through my dry mouth, Blue appeared from behind a tree thirty yard away. Safe. He showed no interest in me or the man, instead sniffing out the ground’s many treasures.

I turned back to the intruder. Standing over him gave me an edge—at least I thought it did—and I raised my chin and my voice when I asked, ‘Do I know you?’

He chuckled. ‘Nah, hen. I’m only the messenger.’

‘What?’

His smile faded. ‘We’re not very happy about you closing the café for so long. You need to open up again. There’s a delivery coming on Thursday.’

‘What do you mean? How do you—’

His eyes turned to ice as he grabbed my wrist in a flash. ‘We’ll be very disappointed if you’re not there to receive the goods. Ken what I’m saying?’

He rushed off, his dark coat billowing behind him like a cape, almost engulfing Blue who circled his legs, tail wagging, until he turned towards the road.

For a limited time, In Servitude will be on sale, so be sure to download your copy today!

Amazon US only 2.99

Amazon CA only 3.99

Amazon UK only 1.99
Europe only 2.99

Paperback also available Barnes & Noble & other outlets!

About the Author

InServitude_HeleenKist_Author

Heleen Kist is a Dutch businesswoman who lived all over the world while growing up and for her career. Then she fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow.

She was selected as an ‘up and coming new writer’ and awarded a Spotlight at Bloody Scotland 2018, the International crime writing festival.

Her debut psychological suspense novel ‘In Servitude’ was inspired by Heleen’s expertise in small business finance mixed with her friend’s courageous idea to open a vegan cafe in a city renowned for its dubious diet. She is currently working on her next book, which will be dark women’s fiction.

Heleen Kist | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

2 paperback copies of In Servitude by Heleen Kist are up for grabs!!!

*International Giveaway

Winners will be selected at random on 23 December and notified personally, only your initials will be used in the winner’s announcement.

Enter Here!


Hosted by:

R & R Book Tours


Let me know what you think!

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BOOK BLITZ | Kingdom of Glass & Ashes – Multi Authors

Kingdom of Glass and Ashes: A Limited Edition Collection of Cinderella Retellings
Publication date: December 18th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, Fantasy

A classic fairy tale- but not how you remember it…

What if the stepmother wasn’t the only one who was wicked and Prince Charming wasn’t what he seemed? What if your favourite princess didn’t make it home by midnight?

Be transported to far away lands where fantasy and magic come together and pumpkins and princes are joined by shifters and stepsisters in this captivating collection of one of the greatest love stories ever told.

From the imagination of our authors, prepare to meet Cinderella as you’ve never read before. Kingdom of Glass and Ashes is a spellbinding collection of retellings, written by multiple USA Today and bestselling authors telling their own version of the beloved tale.

Get ready for romance, excitement, enchantment and more than just a glass slipper.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

SNEAK PEEKS:

Excerpt from Holly Hook:

I’m Ellia, Syndie’s ugly stepsister. Mother knows this, so she works Syndie to the bone, but this whole time, she’s been waiting. Planning. Syndie wants us on the streets, and despite my kindness, I’m no exception.

Following her to the Courts lands me in the hands of a handsome guard, Jasper. Literally. And he doesn’t seem to notice my corset or frizzy hair. Nervous and secretive, Jasper wants to stop cruel Prince Calvin from becoming King, which he’ll do when he chooses his wife at the royal ball. And now I’m key to a plan that can save my family and the entire Kingdom.

Our weapons? Two magical slippers. One gives false beauty–but only until midnight. Then the other shows the wearer’s true nature. If Prince Calvin even holds the hand of his chosen when the clock strikes twelve, the spell hits him, too. Everyone will see the truth and he’ll never become King.

He and Syndie deserve each other.

I must make her dreams come true. But Mother, my sister, and a kingdom of jealous girls will do anything to stop Syndie from snagging the Prince. But what terrifies me the most is that trapped slipper. I can’t let Jasper see how ugly I am, but if it all goes wrong, I’ll have to give myself to its magic.

The Kingdom must be saved at all costs, even if I must sacrifice my happily ever after.

Blurb from Emma Savant:

Hidden in the city of Portland, Oregon, is a shimmering world of magic—one faerie Olivia Feye doesn’t want to touch with a ten-foot wand. She’d rather study biology, or garden, or floss her teeth, or do literally anything except pay attention to the Glimmering world and her internship at Portland’s premier faerie godparent agency.

But when her supervisor is hospitalized after a flying pumpkin carriage accident, Olivia is thrust into the middle of a case. And this one won’t be easy: Her client is Elle, a barista whose plans don’t include an enchanted prom or Prince Charming.

The reward for a happily-ever-after is enough gold pieces to get Olivia out of the Glimmering world forever. But as she comes face-to-face with the complexities of faerie godmothering, she’s forced to wonder: How much is she willing to sacrifice for her own happy ending?

Blurb from D.L Pitchford:

A modern day Cinderella with a twist…

High school seniors Noah Barton and Eden Prince have competed for top of their class since age seven. When their academic rivalry ruins a thermodynamics demo, their physics teacher decides to help them get along. By forcing them to be lab partners.

As graduation approaches, Noah and Eden are too busy figuring out college to deal with each other. Noah’s football-loving dad sabotages his chance to win a big scholarship. Eden’s traditional mother cares more about finding her a husband than encouraging her dreams.

Winning big at the regional science fair is their last hope.

Will Noah follow in his mother’s footsteps? Can Eden show her parents the environment is more important than a boyfriend? Will Noah and Eden finally learn to work together?

Follow Noah and Eden’s budding romance in this emotionally charged, gender-swapped retelling of Cinderella.

Blurb from Cate Dean:

Sometimes, you have to create your own happily ever after…

Elle Summers spends her days taking care of her stepmother and stepsisters, but she is secretly working on her escape. With the help of her best friend, she plans to act her way to freedom.

When she auditions for a local production, her life is turned upside down by entrepreneur and producer Henry Winters. He needs a new leading lady for his Broadway production, and he wants her. He sweeps her off her feet and to the Great White Way, where she finally has her chance to shine.

But in the whirlwind of her new life, she forgets one thing – her stepmother and stepsisters.

While she starts to live the life she’s always dreamed about, they are plotting a way to bring her home. And if their plan works, Elle will fail – in a way that not even a fairy godmother can fix.

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hosted by:

Xpresso Book Tours


Let me know what you think!

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BOOK BLITZ | Once Upon the Longest Night – Multi Authors

Once Upon the Longest Night
Publication date: December 21st 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

The longest night. A vampire’s delight.

The winter solstice, a time of birth and rebirth, life and death, waning light and rising darkness. A time when those who flee the sun and crave the taste of blood find their greatest solace.

But one never knows what the longest night might hold.

Once Upon the Longest Night, a collection of adult paranormal romances, features eight novelettes of lovers and their battles against one of the greatest legends of our time: the vampire. A 15th-century seaman and the love of his life come face to face with a vengeful manjasang. In ancient Rome, a hunted priestess captured by a loyal centurion offers her aid to the enemy. With the help of a handsome Royal courier, a reluctant Romanian princess braves the curse flowing within her noble blood. Danger awaits when a vampire in the far reaches of North Dakota must endure the lethal cold to protect the woman she loves. And in a future New York, a broken general returns home for the Longest Night Ball where he meets a young male witch who might change his life forever.

This anthology combines vampire mythos and affairs of the heart with the sacred symbolism and magic of the winter season.

Sit back and let us tell you a tale. Welcome to the Longest Night.

Heat levels: Sweet to erotic.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

SNEAK PEEKS:

From His Last Battle by Sara Dobie Bauer:

Story Blurb:

Suffering from PTSD, vampire general Devlin Frost returns home from the war on Lycans and attends the historic Longest Night Ball. Here, royal witch Elijah Crow must choose three immortal suitors to compete for his love and power. When Devlin is shockingly chosen as one of the three, his immediate attraction to the young witch coaxes him into entering the fray, but this battle is for more than Elijah’s love. The broken general might also win back his ruined heart and bruised soul—if he survives the night.

Excerpt:

Everyone knew Westwyck Coven threw the best Longest Night Ball. Devlin had been there before, six years prior, before heading off on another successful tour to battle the Lycans in Africa. Ever since they’d butchered all the humans on that continent, the werewolves had been trying to invade upon the rest of the world.

He’d only been home for a matter of weeks and had yet to remember how to be normal, although “normal” was difficult to quantify within the bounds of fae high society. As a soldier, the aristocracy frustrated Devlin. He’d spent hundreds of years fighting bloody battles with wolves, yet it was the wealthy that scared him most—with their passive-aggressive posturing and sickly sweet smiles. At least werewolves came at him with teeth bared. Now that he was back in New York, it was impossible to know who wanted to be a friend and who wanted him dead.

And, there was the matter of the posadh.

Some royal witch had apparently just turned eighteen, and as per custom, she was forced to choose three possible vampire mates to compete over her for the duration of December twenty-first’s darkest hours. Deflowering a virgin witch gave vampires increased power—whether that be physical, influential, or financial. That power could last upward of one hundred years, so competition was famously fierce. At least one of the three “suitors” usually ended up dead. It was a disgusting business but part of fae high society. The union benefited vampires, but it also granted witches a vampire’s immortality, ensuring the secrets of magic lived on and on, all part of the treaty’s give and take. Devlin wanted nothing to do with it. Already, he missed the war.

To rectify his unease, he had wandered away from the grand ballroom an hour before. He now perused the quiet back hallways of Westwyck Estate, far from the sound of an impressive all-witch orchestra that played Christmas carols arranged as waltzes and tangos. He sipped a rich mixture of blood and sweet red wine from a crystal goblet as he strolled, taking in the mansion’s interior. In homage to ancient tradition, electric lights had been dimmed for the night, replaced by tall, gilded torches standing at intervals down the endless hall. Their dancing flames cast flickering shadows on the walls, creating what he assumed should be a sensual mood. Instead, he thought of battles long past, bloody fangs in firelight. As opposed to terror, the memory afforded perspective. He would much rather have been at a twilight fight than surrounded by the cultural complexities of a fancy ball.

On the walls, papered in forest green, hung massive portraits of Westwyck witches who’d come before—men and women who’d probably died long before the treaty. For all he knew, vampires had killed some of them. Magic and blood fae hadn’t always been buddy-buddy.

He was leaning forward, almost nose-to-nose with the painting of an ugly witch named Galahad, when a hidden door sprang open to his right. A blood-soaked Lycan lunged with jaws wide.

Devlin vaguely heard his wine glass shatter. He punched the monster once in its gaping jaw, twice beneath its hairy ribs, then unleashed his own fangs, prepared to tear the monster’s throat. But a bright green light flashed through the hall, momentarily blinding him. He didn’t notice the pain until his back slammed against a wall, and he melted to the floor.

He curled in on himself, moaning. He hadn’t been hit by a spell like that in… Never. He had never felt such power in his long, long life. He tried to stand, ready to fight more and more—fight forever if he had to—but a tall, dark shape pointed a glowing finger in his face.

Eyes unfocused, Devlin at first thought the tall creature looming above him a phantom until it said, “General Devlin?”

He blinked and tried to swallow around the lingering pain rising from his gut. He tasted blood, but at least pain allowed a little clarity.

Devlin sought his werewolf adversary but saw nothing more than a heavyset thug with a bloody nose, groaning on the floor ten feet away. And the phantom wasn’t a phantom at all but a man.

Though young, he held the bearing of someone who knew how to own a room. Despite being thin and in possession of such delicate features as to appear feminine, he held his shoulders up and back, his chin high—like a soldier bracing for battle. In an all-black suit, the witch was all the more ominous due to his glowing green pointer finger, still directed at Devlin’s nose.

“I’m sorry.” Devlin pressed the heel of his hand to his throbbing temple. “I thought…” The words solidified in his throat. War had followed him home.

After his last tour—when he’d started seeing imaginary enemies everywhere—he’d been forcibly sent home to New York. The doctors said the delusions would stop once away from combat. They said to give it time. Get married. Get settled. Find happiness. But what did doctors know about being a soldier?

The phantom lowered his glowing hand and spoke over his shoulder. “Jesus, stop moping, Lucius. Some bodyguard you are. Clean yourself up.”

The injured “bodyguard” swore and shoved to his feet before disappearing through the door hidden in the wall, leaving Devlin alone with the witch.

Devlin stood slowly—no sudden moves with this witch around—and eyed the man warily. “You don’t seem like you need a bodyguard.”

With a cocked brow, the witch shrugged a slender shoulder. “I don’t, but my mother insists.”

Hand no longer glowing, he reached up to touch the long scar on Devlin’s cheek.

Devlin caught his wrist and squeezed, feeling a powerful pulse radiating into his palm. It tempted him far more than it should have. “Don’t be rude,” he said.

The witch smiled, and Devlin instantly read the question glittering in his eyes: Or what?

Hand still in Devlin’s grip, the witch’s dark eyes drifted over him, taking in the navy blue uniform and cornucopia of medals over his heart. “The great general.” A hint of admiration warmed his voice. “My grandfather used to tell stories about you. But you’ve been gone.”

Devlin still held the witch’s hand. He couldn’t seem to let go—or, perhaps, he didn’t want to. He swallowed hard, realizing how long it had been since he’d stood close enough to smell desire in someone’s blood. He smelled it now. “Only six years,” he said.

“That’s a long time. To me.”

“It would be.”

Devlin couldn’t keep from studying the witch more closely. He had the tender skin of innocent youth, the unbridled passion of a boy on the cusp of manhood, and the eyes of a fearless soul. It was almost too much. Too tantalizing.

Finally, Devlin forced himself to let go. He busied his hands with straightening his suit. “Are you even legal?”

The witch touched his wrist where Devlin’s grip had been, as though he’d felt the heat between them, too. On an exhale, he pushed black curls behind his ear and stared at Devlin, who found such scrutiny unnerving. He would have sworn the witch saw straight to the depths of his dead, empty heart. Based on Devlin’s reputation, the witch should have been scared; instead, he tilted forward, closer. He was recklessly confident for a man his age. But more than that, this magic fae carried something akin to fire beneath his skin.

And Devlin wanted to be burned.

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BOOK BLITZ | Library Absolution – Jennifer Derrick

Library of Absolution
Jennifer Derrick
(Legacy of the Book Mesmer, #1)
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: December 17th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Alarick Brandon is the powerful wizard who operates The Keep, a refuge for magical people fleeing the persecution of the Ministry. A bitter realist, Alarick knows it’s only a matter of time until the Ministry succeeds in eradicating magic from the world—and exterminating all magical beings—so he has been careful to avoid any personal involvement with the people who pass through his sanctuary.

But when Elissa Stone arrives at The Keep, her village a smoldering ruin, and only her magical talent and a forbidden library left to her name, Alarick’s ordered world descends into chaos. Elissa is a Book Mesmer, a magical talent long believed extinct. She can enchant books, making them indestructible, unreadable…even deadly to unauthorized readers. But while her magic can secure a legacy for future magical generations, it’s not a skill that’s good in a fight, and certainly not one that Alarick sees any real use for. But there’s something compelling about a woman who defies the Ministry’s edicts against female literacy, and she seems determined to prove that knowledge is a weapon in its own right…

The first installment in an enticing new fantasy series by author Jennifer Derrick, The Library of Absolution is a compelling story of perseverance and determination in the face of persecution, in a Dark Age where hope is lost—and knowledge is the only thing left to fight for.

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EXCERPT:

“You told me you left to look for books,” Alarick said.

“I did, in part. That wasn’t a total fabrication. I figured if I was leaving I might as well make the effort. If I was going to get killed by the Ministry, it should be in the service of something larger than myself. Fool that I was,” she whispered.

Alarick ignored the last part. She was only stating a fact. There was no need for him to comment further on her foolishness.

“But you had no intention of returning?” he asked. “Because of something you found in my library?”

The thought of her leaving with no intention to return gutted him. It was bad enough she’d wanted to leave at all; to put her safety at risk for the sake of some books. It was bad enough that he had failed to keep her safe; to understand what she meant to do until it was too late.

But even at the worst of it, he’d believed she intended to return to him. To the Keep. That was why he’d gone after her, because he believed she still wanted to be here. That she’d intended to run away forever was unthinkable. That he’d risked his life for someone who had run from him, who wanted nothing to do with him, was galling.

He choked back his rage and sorrow, replacing them with cool disdain.

“Well, then, are you going to tell me just what was so terrible that it would make you flee and never come back? I’m aware that nothing in that library paints me in a flattering light, but you already knew of my unpleasantness. Surely the disjointed ramblings of a young man could not be quite so damning,” Alarick said.

Of course, he knew the truth. There were some secrets in there so damning he could imagine exactly why she wanted to run from him. It was why he kept that room protected. Damn her for finding it. Damn her for finding him.

She turned her head away from him. Not that it mattered. She couldn’t see him. But he wasn’t going to let her damn his soul and cast him out of her life without at least facing him while she did it. He reached over and with gentle pressure turned her chin toward him.

“If you expect me to forgive you for your trespass, you will at least face me while you tell me exactly what sort of monster you believe me to be,” he said.

“I’d rather you tell me the story as the man you are now, not the boy who did the things I read. Tell me there’s a better ending to your story. Tell me that you are not the monster.”

He laughed at that.

“Would that I could,” he said. “But since you read my books, I’m certain you know there is no redemption for me. That is why you left, isn’t it?”

“No. I didn’t leave because I feared you to be irredeemable. My time with you has taught me that there is more to you than the boy in those books. I left because I feared there was no place for me in your story. And that I could not bear.”

He was about to say something, but suddenly he couldn’t remember what it was. What had she said? She hadn’t left because of his past deeds, but because she was afraid he had no place for her? Was that possibly right? He struggled to make sense of it in his brain. He’d expected condemnation, not… Was it disappointment he heard in her voice?

Before he could sort out a proper response, she said, “I’ve read your grimoire. It’s terrifying. Start with why you took such an interest in dark magic and go from there.”

Alarick said nothing at first. Why had he taken an interest in dark magic? The question was better phrased as, “Why not?” He looked at Elissa. She might not be able to see him, but she had an uncanny ability to focus on his face as though she could. And something in her eyes compelled him to tell the story that he’d never told anyone in its entirety.

Author Bio:

Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents.

Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official website: JenniferDerrick.com.

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BOOK BLITZ | The Watchers – Misty Hayes

The Watchers
Misty Hayes
(The Blood Dagger: Volume 2)
Publication date: December 15th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Thriller, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Corinth Taylor didn’t sign up to become a Watcher—an elite warrior destined to restore balance to the human race—he was chosen.

Corinth can barely control his own hormones… much less the deadly blade. And to make matters worse, his best friend, Larna, just so happens to be the very thing he’s supposed to eliminate.

But when vampires and slayer find a common enemy, Corinth knows it’s his innate calling to hunt evil down. And evil has a name: Gabriel Stanton. The enigmatic vampire who escaped their capture, has plans for Corinth, Larna, and Alastair… and it’s a threat they’ll never see coming.

When the line between good and evil gets crossed, devastating consequences start to happen. As Watcher and vampire worlds collide, Corinth must decide where to place his trust: with his old allies or his killer instincts. An upstart slayer. A clan of vampires.

What could go wrong?

It’s only the end of the world.

The Watchers is the second book in The Blood Dagger series, a high-octane paranormal YA thriller.

If you like witty heroines, unconventional relationships, and friendships that can withstand the grave, then you’ll love Misty Hayes’ high-stakes story.

Sink your teeth into a fun, fierce vampire series today.

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EXCERPT:

After walking for about an hour, the tunnel deposited us into a larger cavern. Every inch of space was filled with mushrooms. They were glittering blue patches of bioluminescent light. It was strangely hypnotic and exactly how I imagined another planet might look.

Larna dropped her hand from my shoulder. By the soft glow coming off the walls, I could see her admiring the shimmering fungi with her mouth slightly ajar.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that not all of the mushrooms were glowing. There was a section of fungi that darkened a spot on the wall where Al had stopped.

As I joined him, his voice carried around the cavernous space, making him sound haunted and forlorn. “Bluefoot

mushrooms.” It was the first time he’d spoken in over an hour. He pulled his backpack off and filled it with the

fungi. “I used to cook with these when I lived in France … They taste great in omelets.”

I plucked one off the wall because I had worked up an appetite, and popped it into my mouth and then

immediately spit it out. “Gross. That tastes like dirt.”

Taking a quick swig of water from Larna’s pack, I hissed, “You eat that?”

“They taste better cooked,” Al said, his mouth quirking up in amusement. “But they’re great protein. You

should eat up while you have the chance.”

“I’d rather eat sludge,” I muttered under my breath.

The further we progressed, the more claustrophobic I started to feel. Being in closed-off spaces and in the pitchdark for hours was taking its toll on me. I deposited a pebble from the bottom of my shoe back to its home, noticing for the first time how many blisters I had accumulated during this trek. I couldn’t see them, but I could definitely feel them. Mental note: Converse do not make great hiking shoes. I had a pair of perfectly fine boots, but they were swimming with the fish at the bottom of the ocean. That morning, before Larna dropped my bag, I had switched them out, hoping the gnarly blisters on my feet might heal if I wore a different pair of shoes.

Everything hurt, but I didn’t want to be the first to whine, so I sucked it up, and we continued on … and on …and on … until it seemed like we’d never see the light of day ever again. I felt something dark and sinister twisting its skeletal little fingers into my gut.

That thought sent me into an even more depressed spiral, and pretty soon that depression turned into an infection. What if Al didn’t really know where he was going? What if he was leading me to my death? He loved Larna—he didn’t care about me. They could see in the dark—all they had to do was leave me behind, and I would be lost down here forever. It wasn’t until I felt Larna’s hand shift on my shoulder that I realized she was still beside me.

Still, resentment started to gnaw away at me.

Author Bio:

Misty has always called Texas home but has a passion for world travel.

Before taking up writing, she has had a long career in law enforcement. Besides the self-torture of writing books, she also loves the self-torture of running. Misty is currently working on book three of her young adult trilogy in ‘The Blood Dagger’ series. The Watchers – Volume 2 will be released in December 2018.

When not writing, Misty enjoys reading any books by Jim Butcher, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Joe Hill (Owen King), and J.K. Rowling. A lot of author’s write about pets on their bio’s… Misty has a rescue parakeet named Peeta (As in the Hunger Games).

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BOOK BLITZ | What a Wolf Desires – Amy Pennza

What a Wolf Desires
Amy Pennza
(Lux Catena Series, #1)
Publication date: November 21st 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Lizette Butler has the only thing she ever wanted—freedom from her pack Alpha, Maxime Simard, and the ability to decide her own fate. She and Max have a turbulent history and a powerful—if unwilling—attraction. Unfortunately, mere distance can’t stop the past from crashing back in to disrupt her life. Nor can it stop the rush of desire that overwhelms her the minute she sees him again. Her body may crave his physical seductions, but her heart will never let her love him.

As leader of the New York territory, Max has everything—wealth, power, and an army of wolves ready to jump at his command. But a mistake he made five years ago may have cost him the only thing worth living for: Lizette. He also knows something Lizette doesn’t—she possesses a rare ability that makes her a target and a prize.

Max can command Lizette to return to the pack, but he can’t command her trust…or her love. And if he can’t heal the rift between them, he may lose her forever.

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EXCERPT:

The inside of the Lodge was brighter than Lizette remembered, the foyer spiraling up a dizzying sixty feet. Twin staircases graced either side, each one leading to a catwalk that appeared to float across the impressive space.

The foyer opened onto a massive great room dominated by a huge stone fireplace. She’d spent many an evening lying in front of it, chin propped on her hand, studying the flames.

She longed to sink into one of the big leather couches in front of the fireplace, but she had her instructions. Her orders. She was to report directly to the Alpha as soon as she set foot in the building. Disobeying wouldn’t be a good way to start her visit.

And a visit is exactly what it’s going to be. As she walked the familiar path to Max’s study, his presence was like a beating heart in the huge Lodge. Each pulse dragged her closer to him, even though every nerve screamed for her to run back out the door and never stop.

“Lizette?” a young, feminine voice called behind her.

She stopped and pivoted toward it. “Haley?”

A dark blur shot from the other end of the hallway. Before she could say anything else, Haley threw itself into Lizette’s arms, wrapping her in a tight, perfumed hug with surprising strength.

She patted her friend’s springy, light brown curls. “Have you been working out?”

Haley laughed and pulled back so they were face-to-face. “It’s the wolf,” she said, her white, even teeth bisected by the thin metal wire of her retainer. “I can’t believe how much it’s changed me in such a short time.”

Six weeks earlier, Haley had convinced her guardians to let her spend a weekend with Lizette. Haley turned seventeen that past Christmas with no sign of her wolf emerging. The Turn happened at different ages for everyone, but it usually happened by puberty—and because girls tended to mature faster than boys, females usually Turned earlier. But Haley hadn’t made the change, and her guardians worried she never would. Among werewolves, such wolves were called latents.

Latents had a wolf counterpart, but they couldn’t Turn. They felt the pull of the wolf’s instincts but had no outlet for them. Lizette had heard it described as being a pianist with your hands permanently tied behind your back.

It was a sad, frustrating existence for wolves, cursed to live trapped inside their human bodies, unable to transform into their other selves. The hope of finding a mate was slim, since they lacked the ability to form the lifelong bonds so treasured by the wolves, and many couldn’t bear to be around normal werewolves.

The problem had even spilled over from werewolf society and trickled down into the human world. Every now and then news headlines told of a madman or killer who’d committed some unspeakable crime. In some cases, it was just a random crazy human. But in others it was a latent who’d lost his or her grip on reality, and the local Alpha would dispatch a group of wolves to quietly take care of the problem.

In the morning the human police would find the defendant hanged in his cell. Was it murder? Yes, but it was too risky to allow those wolves to live.

The human word lunatic was a lot closer to the truth than most people realized.

At first Haley’s guardians thought she might simply be a late bloomer. But when puberty came and went and she still hadn’t Turned, they were desperate. So they sent her to Lizette, hoping some time with another female around her own age might relieve some of the Haley’s anxieties. What if she never Turned? Latents often lived a sort of half-life. Cut off from the werewolf community, many committed suicide.

To everyone’s delight, Haley Turned for the first time during her stay at Lizette’s place. She and Lizette had danced around the apartment blasting One Direction and Taylor Swift until Lizette got a migraine and the downstairs neighbor pounded on the ceiling to shut them up.

Lizette squeezed Haley’s bicep. “I’m impressed. You have Madonna arms.”

Haley laughed, her pretty face lit up with joy. It made Lizette’s heart happy to see her like this. In a way she felt protective of her, and not just because Lizette was there the first time Haley Turned. Like Lizette, Haley lost her parents as a child. Although Haley was raised in a werewolf community, they’d both been foster kids of a sort. Haley knew what it felt like to be an outsider.

Haley’s expression grew abruptly serious. “Have you seen him yet?”

Lizette swallowed. Of course Haley knew why Lizette was here. There was only one thing—or rather one person—who could have compelled her to return. “Not yet. Soon.”

“Oh.”

They stared at each other. Even at seventeen, Haley understood that being summoned to appear before the Alpha was serious business. Everyone did. In Lizette’s case, however, it held a special significance.

“I should go.”

“You should go.”

They both laughed.

Lizette took a reluctant step toward the foyer. “I’m sure I’ll see you later. We have a ton of things to catch up on.” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “Like boys.” Although goodness knew Lizette had little advice to offer in that area. Aside from one brief—and that was generous—relationship as a teen, her love life was DOA.

“Definitely,” Haley said. “And I want to run together before you go.”

Lizette gave Haley a little wave and tried to ignore the way her stomach lurched as she headed back the way she’d come. She stopped in front of a set of big double doors and wiped her palms on her jeans. She angled her chin down and took in her sweater and mint green Chucks. Was Aiden right? Maybe she should have changed.

This is ridiculous. She was twenty-four years old, not fifteen…so why did she feel like a teenager reporting to the principal’s office?

Or a woman on a first date.

Not going there. She’d see what he wanted and then go home. Simple as that. She took a deep breath and knocked.

“Come,” said a low voice from behind the door.

The sound ripped through her like a thunderclap, and her knees almost gave out. She clenched her fists and pressed her fingernails into her palms—a trick she learned from Dom. The pain steadied her. She pushed the door open…

…and locked gazes with the Alpha. Her Alpha. Maxime Alexandre Simard.

He sat behind his desk, his posture relaxed. A lord in command of his domain.

And in the werewolf world, that’s exactly what he was.

The first time she saw him was in the back of a Los Angeles County courtroom. Her caseworker had called her foster parents the day before, breathless, saying a relative had come forward—a distant cousin of Lizette’s mother. He was flying in from New York and would be there the next day to file the paperwork.

In court he wore a charcoal gray suit and a dark blue tie. His jacket sleeves rode up when he shook her foster father’s hand, exposing his shirt cuffs and the strange metal jewelry he wore there instead of buttons. When she slid past him to climb into the limo, she accidentally brushed his sleeve, and the fabric felt like a cloud against her skin. He’d smelled of pine and soap and something…darker…a rich spice she couldn’t identify.

Lizette knew right away that he wasn’t human. There was something other about him. At fifteen, she’d been old enough to see through a disguise, even a convincing one. As soon as the door closed, she’d blurted, “Are you human?”

“Not entirely.”

Her heart had pounded so hard her chest had hurt. “Will you hurt me?”

“Never. I promise you.”

“Are you…” She thought back to the stash of vampire novels she kept hidden under her bed at her foster parents’ house. “Are you immortal?”

“I’m afraid not.”

Disappointment washed over her…followed by renewed curiosity. “How old are you, then?”

“Twenty-seven.” She must have looked surprised, because he smiled. “You expected me to be older?”

“If you’re not human, then what are you?” He spoke perfect English, but he had an accent…something refined and Old World. It curled around her brain like a lazy cat. She caught herself leaning toward him, hoping he’d speak again.

“Ah.” He looked thoughtful for a minute. “What do you think I am, petite?”

“I…don’t know.”

He tapped on the glass dividing the back seat from the front, and the car rumbled to life and slid into traffic. When he turned back to her, his light blue eyes were different. Sharper. “What if I told you that you and I are the same…”

Sitting behind his desk now, Max looked exactly as he had in the courtroom nine years ago. Knowing what she did today, Lizette knew he’d look more or less the same for the rest of his long life.

His face was aristocratic and refined—his patrician nose set between straight black eyebrows. He wore his thick black hair brushed back from a broad, unlined forehead, and his jaw was shadowed by what looked like several days’ growth of beard. But his light blue eyes were his most arresting feature. Pale as a spring sky, they focused on her as if she was the only creature on earth.

He was the only wolf she knew whose eyes changed very little between forms. To notice any difference, a person had to be standing toe-to-toe with him.

Or kissing him.

Her breath hitched. She realized she was staring and dropped her gaze to the thick patterned carpet. Shit. First she challenged Dom. Now she just challenged Max. With Dom, she’d breached protocol because she was angry. This time she hadn’t even realized she was doing it.

“Sit,” Max said, his voice curt. He remained seated as she approached the leather chairs in front of his desk. That didn’t surprise her. Alphas stood for no one—especially this Alpha.

She perched on the edge of one of the chairs, her gaze on the space near his right shoulder. He sat with his elbows on the desk, studying her. He’d rolled back the long sleeves of his starched white button-down, revealing muscled forearms sprinkled with black hairs. The casual style should have made him look less intimidating, but it did the opposite.

She felt his gaze wander across her body, its heat like a spotlight against her skin. All thoughts of controlling her heart rate fled—the meditation she practiced during the drive scattering like a flock of birds.

As if drawn by a magnet, she locked gazes with him again. The back of her neck tingled as they stared at each other. If he felt anything in the soft skin of his right thumb, he gave no indication.

After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, he let his wolf creep into his eyes. “You think to challenge me?” he asked softly, sounding merely curious.

She lowered her gaze to his collarbone. “No.”

His chair creaked as he leaned back. “You’ve been too long in the human world. You forget our ways.”

“So I’ve heard,” she muttered. The thing was, it was true when Dom said it. This time, though, she hadn’t forgotten. Normally the wolf’s instinct kicked in and compelled her to drop her gaze whenever a more dominant wolf was around. Max was the most dominant wolf in any room, which meant her instinct should have been firing on all cylinders. But it had deserted her just now.

For a brief moment she’d forgotten to avoid staring directly into his eyes. She was surprised she was able to maintain eye contact as long as she had. Apparently the usual rules didn’t apply to them.

“Well,” he continued, “we shall remedy that now that you’re here.”

She cleared her throat. “Since you brought it up, I’d actually like to know why I’m here.”

He rose and walked to the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the gorge a hundred feet below. The windows took up the entire wall—a feature that repeated across most of the rear of the Lodge, which had been built to take advantage of the area’s natural beauty. The wall behind his desk displayed a large map of the United States and Canada. Instead of showing the usual boundary lines, however, it was sectioned into sixty territories—each marked with a capital no human would have recognized. They sat in the New York Territory which, predictably, included all of New York. Unlike the human version, Max’s domain extended all the way north to Quebec.

She tore her gaze away from the map. She didn’t need another reminder of his power. It was literally in the room with her, almost like an aura shining around him. She’d never felt it so strongly before. All high-ranking wolves oozed power, but most wielded incredible control over it. If they chose, they could also mute their power so it wasn’t so obnoxious.

Was he displaying his on purpose to intimidate her? But no, displays weren’t really Max’s style. He was far too subtle for that.

“How are your headaches?” he asked without turning around.

She closed her eyes. “Fine.”

“I can smell your lie from here.”

It was impossible to reply without telling the truth—or getting caught in another lie—so she clamped her mouth shut. She had a feeling he was going to say whatever he wanted to say anyway.

“You’ve lost weight.”

She gritted her teeth. “In the human world, that’s generally considered a good thing. Women are always trying to lose weight.”

“You’re not a human.” He rolled his neck on his shoulders, the movement drawing her gaze. She’d forgotten how big he was. Even if he wasn’t an Alpha, he’d still command any room he entered, and not just because of his physical size. The fabric of his shirt stretched tight over powerful shoulders and a broad back that tapered to lean hips. Her stare sank lower…until she realized where it was headed and tore her eyes away.

What was she doing?

She must have made a sound, because he turned away from the window. She had his full attention now.

Crap, crap, crap.

She pressed her damp palms against her jeans as his denim-clad legs appeared before her. He stopped in front of his desk, his body inches from hers. A warm hand lifted her chin and kept lifting her, gently pulling her to her feet.

Her heart threatened to leap out of her chest. He tipped her chin up. He’d stuffed his wolf down so deep, he appeared as a normal man—or as normal as Maxime Simard would ever get. In a blink, his demeanor changed. The wolf bled from his eyes, and his gaze dipped to her mouth. They were no longer speaking Alpha-to-subject. This was something entirely different.

She knew this Max. He was more terrifying than the Alpha.

“You want to know why I called you back.” He made it a statement.

She swallowed. “Yes.”

His eyes glittered. “That’s easy. I wanted to speak with my wife.”

Author Bio:

Amy Pennza has been a lawyer, a soldier, and a copywriter. Although she liked the first two well enough, she decided writing romance is the job she loves best. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and two demanding animals. You can visit her at amypennza.com.

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