Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review of 'The Nines' by Dakota Madison & Sierra Avalon

Romantic Suspense
Date Published
: April 13, 2015

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Dakota Madison and Sierra Avalon team up to bring readers a new breed of antiheroes…THE NINES.

Vengeance is mine not the Lord’s. It’s what I breathe for. It’s what I’m still living for. I live for the moment when I will literally have his eye for mine. It’s been two years. Two long and difficult years, but my plan is nearly complete. When I’m not in a hospital having doctors try to repair my ravaged body I spend my time on the computer, doing hacking jobs for large corporations and governments who don’t want to get their hands dirty or be associated with a job if things go sideways. But they don’t have any reason to worry. I’m meticulous, so I’ll never get caught. Just one thing stands in my way: The mysterious young woman without a past who desperately wants to be part of my future. I just need to figure out why…

THE NINES is an ongoing romantic suspense series. Each book can be read as a STAND ALONE NOVEL or as PART OF THE SERIES.

Read an excerpt:

Vengeance is mine not the Lord’s. It’s what I breathe for. It’s what I’m still living for. I live for the moment when I will literally have his eye for mine. It’s been two years. Two long and difficult years, but my plan is nearly complete. When I’m not in a hospital having doctors try to repair my ravaged body I spend my time on the computer, doing hacking jobs for large corporations and governments who don’t want to get their hands dirty, or be associated with a job if things go sideways. But they don’t have any reason to worry. I’m meticulous, so I’ll never get caught.

I have the one thing that most people don’t.


After I was burned it was difficult for people to look at me and when they did, it was with pity or disgust, often both.

Even my own mother.

I don’t want anyone’s pity. And I have enough disgust towards myself to last five lifetimes.

So I left everything I’ve ever known and started over on my own.

Now I spend my days and nights in the small home I inherited from my aunt when she died. I would never have chosen to live next door to a large state university. It’s often loud and there are young people everywhere. It’s a constant reminder of everything I lost. I don’t feel young anymore. I feel like an old man trapped in a twenty-year-old body. If wisdom is the gift of tragedy I’d rather be ignorant.

I rarely leave home. It’s amazing what you can have delivered to your door these days. When I do need to go outside, it’s always at night and I always wear a mask. Not like the ones kids wear on Halloween. It’s more like the one that the Phantom of the Opera wore, but my mask is black and was specially designed to cover the burn scars on the left side of my face.

My latest job is for an Eastern European mob family. Modern day computer espionage has given a whole new meaning to the term “mob hit.” There’s no blood, no violence, just five million dollars vanished from several off-shore accounts in the blink of an eye. And I get fifteen percent. Not bad for a few weeks’ work.

Is it wrong to steal from criminals? I call it karmic justice. I don’t take jobs that could hurt innocent people. I only wrong people who have wronged others. 

I have the luxury of a hefty bank account and very few needs. I don’t need to work another day my entire life and I wouldn’t want for a thing. But I need to keep my mind occupied. So I take hacking jobs that interest me and I take university classes online.

Having online discussions with my virtual classmates gives me the illusion of having friends and a social life. I realize it’s a poor substitute, but it’s the best I can do given my situation.

I try not to dwell on the past. The person I was, Mr. Popularity, the Class President, the Homecoming King, died the day my body burned like a barbeque on the Fourth of July.

My life now is in the shadows. Living with the fringe dwellers on the edge of humanity. I often feel like a man whose body has died, but his mind hasn’t caught up to that fact yet.

When my computer roars I know I have an incoming message. It’s from one of my contacts in China. I get a lot of work from the Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese and don’t have the patience to learn, so I use an intermediary to broker the deals. He gets fifteen percent of every deal he mediates.

I hear the familiar buzz of SKYPE and when I click on the icon Xiang Yuan appears on the screen. He’s young, probably just a few years older than me, but much better dressed. He always wears five hundred dollar suits and I’ve never seen him wear the same one twice.

“I can get you eight hundred thousand,” he says.

I don’t reply right away. I like to play things cool.

He continues. “With your skills this job won’t take more than one week. Who else will pay close to a million for one week’s work?”

“The Russians immediately come to mind,” I reply.

“And they’ll slit your throat if you don’t deliver on time. We have much more patience than that.”

I give a hearty laugh. “You guys are saints. You’d never slit a hacker’s throat. Maybe I should tell that to Jenks. Oh, wait. I can’t. You killed him.”

“Jenks got sloppy. That’s one concern I never have with you. You’re too meticulous.”

I shake my head. “You’re just saying that because you need me to take the job.”

“You’re the best person for the job,” he corrects.

“I’m the only guy you’ve got left.”

“Nine hundred thousand. But that is the final offer. Do we have a deal?”

I nod. “We have a deal.”

“Good. Let me know when the job is completed.”

“Don’t I always?”

Xiang Yuan doesn’t bother with a reply. He simply disappears from the screen.

I don’t need the money, but it’s an easy job that will probably only take a few days’ work. They’re offering close to a million for it. It’s not something I can refuse.

I rise and take a stretch away from my laptop. Sometimes it starts to feel like an appendage and that’s when I know I need a little time away from it. I step into the kitchen and make a fresh pot of coffee. While it’s brewing I glance out my kitchen window. My aunt liked to garden and the backyard is like a small sanctuary. I like to look at the plants and flowers, but I can’t be bothered with the maintenance. I have a gardener who comes by once a week to trim and weed and do whatever else needs to be done to keep it looking nice. I’ve never actually met the man, but I leave a check in an envelope for him under a mat on the back porch.

From my kitchen window I also have a slightly obstructed view of the small street I live on. The fact that it’s Macedonia Boulevard and my name is Alexander is a coincidence that is not lost on me.

The house is one block removed from one of the major thoroughfares the students frequent, so it’s not as noisy as it could be for being so close to campus. I’m still just a few blocks away from some of the dorms and much of the off-campus housing.

I’m surprised to see a beautiful girl, carrying a backpack, stop right next to my house. I have no idea who she is, or why she’s stopped there, but she looks lost.

Her long, dark hair moves slightly in the breeze and when it finally blows away from her face I can see her magnificent brown eyes and perfect pink lips. If my wishes came true and I was finally dead I know I’d be looking at the face of an angel.

I shouldn’t be standing in front of my window in the daylight staring at her. If she turned at just the right angle she could see me, and that wouldn’t be pretty. It would probably traumatize her. I need to move away from the window, but I can’t. I’m completely mesmerized by her. 

When she looks at the street sign then looks up and down the block again there’s little doubt in my mind that she’s lost. I want to tell her that she’s just a block from campus. She hasn’t wandered too far afield. But I can’t leave the house, especially not in the daylight. I know as soon as she took one good look at me she’d probably run away screaming before I even had a chance to utter a word.

As she heaves a large sigh my gaze is immediately drawn to her chest. She’s wearing a pale pink sundress that fits like a glove and accentuates all of the lovely curves of her petite body. For a few moments I think about what it would be like to have my hands on her body. To touch her in the most intimate of ways. To run my fingers along her perfect, unblemished skin.
Then I chide myself for even giving in to those thoughts. There’s no use in imagining what I can never have again. Access to a woman’s body is something I lost forever. No woman would ever consider being with someone as damaged and disfigured as I am.

I considered my life over the day that half of my flesh was burned off of my body. The doctors working on me didn’t think I would live. They called it a miracle that I didn’t die. I call it a life sentence with no chance of parole.

I realized pretty quickly that my life had irrevocably changed. What I didn’t really understand until much later was the impact my injuries would have on the other people in my life.

It wasn’t until my high school girlfriend, Sara, was finally allowed to visit me that reality punched me in the face and knocked my teeth out. Sara and I had been together for over a year when it happened. She would have been burned just like me if she didn’t have a doctor’s appointment that morning and arrived late to school.

Her allergy shots kept her from dying in the blaze, or even worse, surviving it like I did.

She told me that she loved me nearly every day we were together. She was supposed to be my soul mate. We were supposed to spend our lives together.

But when she saw me in the hospital for the first time after the school bombing it was like she didn’t know me. When she looked at me all the love vanished from her beautiful brown eyes. It was like she was looking at a complete stranger.

That was the moment I knew my life as I had known it was over. Sara never came back to visit me and I never saw her again.

I spent my senior year of high school being homeschooled because I was in and out of the hospital so much. I’m smart and was always a good student so I finished all of my work early and started taking college classes in January of what was supposed to be my senior year of high school.
I traded in my high school prom and senior graduation parties for a life of worldwide hacking jobs and built my reputation as one of the best in the field of cyber espionage.  

 For a brief moment I panic because the girl standing outside my house turns to face me and for a second it’s almost like she can see inside of my house and she’s watching me.

But I know it’s not possible. If she really had caught a glimpse of me she would have already backed away in horror, wouldn’t she?

The girl just looks puzzled. Her head is cocked like she’s trying to figure something out. Then I see her walk towards the front of my house.
I hurry out of the kitchen and into the living room. I move the curtains on the front windows the slightest bit so that I can just make out what she’s doing. She’s standing right outside on the front walk way, staring at my front entrance.

What in the world could she possibly want with me?

Then it occurs to me. Maybe it’s not me she wants at all. Maybe she’s one of my aunt’s former students.

She looks down at a small piece of paper in her hands and then looks back up at the house. It’s almost as if she’s trying to decide whether or not she should walk up to the front door and knock.

I’m not sure what I’ll do if she does decide to knock on the door. It’s broad daylight. I only have deliveries come at night, when it’s difficult to see me, and I always leave the lights off, obscuring their view of me even further.
I hold my breath waiting to see what the girl will do. Just when I think she might make her way up to the door she takes off down the road instead.
I breathe a small sigh of relief that I don’t have to deal with her at the door. But in a small way I also feel a twinge of disappointment.

Buy links

**My thoughts**

This book is a bit of a departure from what I am used to reading from these two authors. But, I really enjoyed it. Alexander and Roxie have a long history together, but don't realize it. They also have so much in common. One unifying incident has forever changed their lives. One incident shattered both of their lives into a million pieces. One incident can actually bring them closer together than they ever thought would be possible with another person, and can help them to pick up those pieces to create a new life. 

They are also unified by a shared disgust at what is happening all over campus. There is an evil that has been breeding for years, permanently damaging the lives of hundreds of girls, while their attackers get away with it. I know that this kind of nonsense still happens on campuses around the country. I cannot fathom how it is able to be. That is disturbing, and I'm not sure what the answer is. In this book, one potential solution to fighting crime and evil is presented. Unfortunately, we don't readily have access to someone like Alexander.

What I like about Alexander is his vulnerability. He has a big heart hiding underneath all of his scars and his anger. He just needed someone to break through again. Roxie seems to have a good head on her shoulders. Her scars and anger are internal, but just as devastating. She also has a kind of innocence within her, behind all of her pain. I do like the two of them together. They remind me of another famous couple, sort of a Beauty and the Beast thing, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Claire seems like a genuinely kind girl who is just trying to have fun during her freshman year at college. Her boyfriend Julio obviously loves her very much. They seem like a couple with whom I would want to hang out. Hector rubs me the wrong way, because he is a little too obsessed with Roxie. I know that deep down he means well, but he comes across kind of creepy. I felt like I knew these characters, all from people I have known throughout my life. New characters make an appearance later in the story and will be a part of future installments. It will be interesting to see how they are developed. 

I did like how this was a short read. Plenty of action kept it moving along and I could easily read it in one evening. There is also plenty of romance developing within the story, just to keep it a bit more interesting.

About the author:

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Mueller Bryson writes romance novels under four pen names: Dakota Madison, Savannah Young, Sierra Avalon and Ren Monterrey. She lives in a small town outside of Phoenix, AZ with her husband and their bloodhounds.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Read an excerpt from 'Lady of the Manor' by Adrian Heflin

Drama / Suspense
Date Published
- June 2013


Lady of the Manor is an epic tale of misery for Richard Creek. It is the story of how his mother, Rosemary, makes life miserable for him, his family, and many citizens of Savannah. The novel takes places during the summer of 1958 in a beautiful mansion. Secrets begin to unravel for the Creek family as they continue a summer filled with rape, murder, and indiscretions. Someone must prohibit the Lady of the Manor from her continuous oppression. But, does anyone have the courage to try?

The one woman who was supposed to love him was the one person who tried to destroy him. Richard Creek finally took a stand against his abusive mother, Rosemary, in the fall of 1929, leading to nearly three decades of her merciless tyranny. He has to decide how to protect his children from the omnipotent hand of the Lady of the Manor while they dwell beneath the same roof. Tensions overflow in this atypical home in Savannah, Georgia during the blazing summer of 1958.

71-year old Rosemary (Rosey) Isabella Creek is the cruel and ruthless matriarch of Creek Manor who carries out her malevolent deeds with the help of her loyal butler, Rayford Caruthers, whom she continually degrades for being an albino black man with atrocious English. Her only friend is Pop Barnes, who along with Rosemary’s brother, are the only ones who seem to remember a softer, lovelier ‘Rosey’. She lords over her only son, Richard, a 43-year old banker; his wife, 42-year old Helen; and their five children: the twins; Hilary and Taylor, along with Kimberly, Reginald, and Brock.

The patience of everyone is tested with each of Rosemary’s taunts as they try to understand the nature and reason of her cruelty. As more details of her past are revealed, it only further complicates their comprehension. Will she ever transform into a woman that they can love?

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One
Rosemary’s Baby
     She picked up a large silver bucket and emptied it into an old copper tub.  The tub was six feet in length and held some of the iciest well water that you’ll ever find in Savannah at that time of the year.  It was drawn from one of the deepest wells in Chatham County.  The well had been dug out in the backyard, nearly twenty yards from the back porch.  She walked over to the corner and set the bucket down with the little dent facing outward, always facing outward.
     “I guess it would help if you added the hot water, Rosemary,” she muttered to herself.
     Rosemary went back to the corner and took the silver bucket over to the fireplace.  She had a black, cast-iron cauldron of water boiling over a wooden fire.  She could never fill it to the brim because of an inch long crack at the top that had been there since she was a child.  Rosemary repeatedly dipped the bucket into the scalding hot water, emptying it into the copper tub until it was nearly full.  The steam glazed over the lone window until no one could see in or out.  She walked the bucket back over to its natural habitat, dent facing outward.  Rosemary grabbed a brown jug of iodine and poured a quart of it into the tub.  Then, she took a little swig in her mouth, swooshed it around, and spat into the tub.
     “Now, it’s ready.  Richard! Bath time!”
     He hated those words.  It was like the sound a buck hears, slightly before the bullet enters his flesh.  He opened the door and slowly peeped inside.
     “Come in, Richard.  It’s time to get clean.”
     Once a week, Richard had to participate in the dreaded bath time.  He walked slowly toward the tub and stood there, gazing into the water.
     “Can’t I do it myself, mother?”  He asked, knowing what her answer would be.
     “Nonsense!”  She always replied.  “You’re merely a baby.  Now, strip off those clothes and get in.”
     He completely undressed and put his left foot into the water, letting out a yelp.
     “It’s too hot, mother.”
     “Nonsense, it’s always the same every week.  Now, get in.”

     He stood in the water for a long minute, and then slowly settled into the copper tub.
     “It’s burning, mother.  Why is it stinging?
     “I saw where you scraped your elbow and got that cut on your leg.  So, I added iodine into the water.”
     “I have to get out.  It hurts.”
     “Nonsense; it will pass.  Sit back and soak your body real good while I get the soap.”
     She had a large chunk of homemade lye soap on a shelf.  Rosemary grabbed a handful of it; the door flung open.  
     “Did you have enough water, Rosemary?”  A smooth, gangly man stood in the doorway.
     “Yes,” she responded without looking around.
     “Father, how was work today?”
     “Terrible,” he replied.  “This economy is destroying people’s lives.  It may take years for this country to recover.”
     “Nonsense, Eugene,” Rosemary turned around.  “This stock market will rebound within another month.”
     “I don’t think so, Rosey.  They say it completely crashed.  Lots of folks lost everything.  People are out there killing themselves.”
     “People with no faith.  As great as the twenties have been, you people panic over one day in the stock market.  Nonsense!”
     “If you say so. Why don’t you give Richard that soap and come sit with me in the den?  I set on a bit of tea.”
     “I can’t leave this child alone in a tub of water.  He might drown.  Do you think me an unfit mother?”
     “I assure you; he won’t drown, Rosemary.  Don’t you think you’re being a bit dramatic?”
     “Of course not, E.H.  I mustn’t risk it.  I insist on being here.  The Lady of the Manor has spoken.” 
     “Sorry, Richard; I tried.  When the lady has spoken; she has spoken.”

     “Keep the tea hot, dear.”
     “Of course, Rosey,” he shook his head in disgust, wishing he would do more but knowing he wouldn’t.  He was frustrated with his wife, but even more disappointed in himself.
     “Close the door, darling.”
     He slammed it shut.
     “Why can’t I wash myself, mother dearest?”
     “You are a little child, Richard.  Children don’t know how to wash themselves.  You just sit back and let mother scrub the dirt and filth from your body.”
     “But all the other boys my age bathe themselves.”
     “Nonsense.  Now, hand me that cloth rag and relax.”
     She took the rag from his hand and squeezed the water down his back and shoulders.  Richard stared at the little dent on the silver bucket and clinched his fists.  She rubbed the rag on the lye soap and began to scrub the back of his neck and behind his ears.
     “Such a dirty little boy.  How do young boys attract such filth?”
     Richard closed his eyes.  He could still see that silver bucket in his mind, dent always outward.  Rosemary began to cleanse his chest, stomach, and back. His eyes remained shut.
     “I met a girl today, mother.  She was quite lovely.”  He tried anything to take his mind off this bath.
     “Nonsense.  You’re much too young for courting.”
     “Mother, I’m fourteen years old.  I’m quite old enough for a relationship.  The other boys in my grade have girlfriends.  It’s 1929; times are different.”
     “Nonsense.  Remember this and remember it well.  All girls are evil.  They’ll use you for your money, cheat on you, and lie on you and to you.  Never trust a female, Richard.”
     “You’re a female.”
“Don’t be silly.  I’m your mother.  Now, lift up your feet.”

     She took the rag and rubbed the bottom of his feet, then between his toes.  She washed his legs up toward the thighs.  Richard’s eyes had remained closed.
     “Please, mother; let me wash the rest.”
     “Never.  Only I can clean you correctly.  Otherwise, you will miss spots.  Now, open your legs.”
     Richard stared at the bucket’s dent one last time before clenching his eyes again.  He opened his legs, slowly and reluctantly.  She reached down into the water with the ragged, soapy piece of cloth and began to clean his genitalia.  They both knew that ‘cleaning’ was the least of her concerns at this point.  As tightly as he clenched his eyelids, he couldn’t keep the tears from seeping through and gliding down his cheeks into the milky water.  She eventually dropped the rag and continued with her hand.  He cried even harder, trying to focus his mind on the dent in the silver bucket.  She broke his concentration with a light voice.
     “Who’s Rosemary’s baby?” She whispered in his ear.
     He refused to answer, pretending not to hear.
     “Who’s Rosemary’s baby?” She slowed her strokes and softened her whisper.  His slow tears turned into a speedy sob.
     “Please stop, mother.”
     “Nonsense,” Rosemary continued to whisper.  “Mother must finish cleaning her special, special boy.  Now, tell me who is Rosemary’s baby and we’ll be done.”
     “I am,” the sobbing turned into full-blown crying.  “I am Rosemary’s baby.”
     “Stand up,” she stopped rubbing him.  He stood in the tub, still erect from being molested.  “My, how you grow with each week.  You have surpassed your father; I do believe.”
     His eyes never opened as ‘mommy dearest’ went for the towel.  She began to dry him off, beginning with the upper body.  Rosemary worked her way down to the buttocks, then around to her target area.  She began to stroke him with the towel as she had with the tattered rag.  He withstood as much as he could before he snatched the towel from her hands.
     “No more!” Richard covered his nakedness with the towel.  He kept his eyes shut.  “This is the last time you will put your filthy hands on me, mother!”
     “Nonsense.  However will you get clean?”
     “I’ll bathe myself.  I am perfectly capable.”

     “You’ll do no such thing.”
     “Either that or I shall run away.  I want a tub in my room and a lock on the inside of my door.”
     “Nonsense?” He interrupted her.  “Is it, mother?  Is it, really?  Does it really seem like nonsense that I desire my privacy?”
     “I suppose not,” she stood up from her knees.  “But…”
     “Either that or I leave.”
     “Okay, Richard.  I don’t want you to leave me, ever.  As long as you are here, I shall never touch you again.”
     “I need to dry off and get dressed…alone.”
     “Okay,” Rosemary opened the door.  “I only did what I did because I love you, Richard.  When you’re ready for me again, I’ll meet you here.  Empty the tub when you’re done.”  She closed the door behind her.  “I may not touch you again, Richard, but I will make your life a miserable hell until you let me,” she muttered to herself as she walked down the hall.
     Downstairs, Eugene was pouring hot tea into two porcelain cups.  He squeezed the juice of a half a lemon into each cup, along with two teaspoons of sugar.  He set the cups, pitcher, and Rosemary’s oatmeal raisin cookies on a silver platter and brought them into the den.  They were sitting on a mahoganycoffee table when Rosemary entered the room.  She grabbed a cup and sat in silence.  Eugene nibbled on a cookie, trying to figure out how to start the conversation.
     “It isn’t right, Rosemary.  It’s got to stop.”
     “I can’t help myself, E.H.  It’s all I know.”
     “Doesn’t matter.  A son’s worth can go no further than a mother’s trust will guide him.  It can’t happen anymore.”
     “It won’t.  I promised him that I wouldn’t touch him again.”
     “Do you mean that, Rosey?”
    “I have no choice.  He threatened to run away from me.  I can’t lose my baby.”

     She sipped her tea in silence for a while, staring into the fireplace.  Eugene picked up his cup and followed suit.  She knew that the urge would come up sooner or later.  If she couldn’t touch Richard, she’d have to find someone else until she could.
She finally broke the calm, “You know I don’t care much for this tea.  Have Caruthers put on a pot of coffee.”
     “He’s already left for the night.”
     “Oh bother,” she continued to sip her tea, saying nothing else till they went to sleep.
     Upstairs, Richard finally managed to pry his eyes open.  He was still standing naked in the water, holding the towel.  He vomited into the tub as he had done after every other episode with his mother.  The thought of her hands on him always made him puke.  He slowly dried himself, shaking all the while.  Then, he grabbed the silver bucket.  He began filling the bucket with tub water, pouring it down a chute that led to a water trough outside of the house.
     Richard couldn’t help but notice the little dent on the bucket.  He had only noticed it the first time she had molested him two years prior.  It was the roaring twenties, but for him it hadn’t been that much fun.  He knew that he would have never run away, but it was the only viable threat he could think of, other than murder.  But, he knew he could never kill his mother.  
     Richard poured the last bit of water out and set the bucket on the floor.  He hung the towel and rag up on nails and slipped into his long johns.  He sat on the oak wood floor, back to the tub, eyes red from crying.  He decided to leave the ring of vomit and dirt around the tub.  If she wanted it clean, she could do it herself.  He planned to never use it or the room again.
     Richard caught sight of the silver bucket out of the corner of his eye.  He punched it over and over until his knuckles bled.  He picked it up and walked over to the window, intending to toss it outside.  He hesitated for a moment, and then walked it back over to its proper place.  Richard spun it in his hands over and over as if the dent might somehow change.  Then, he set it down in that same corner that it had always resided, dent facing outward, always outward.

Buy links

About the author:

Adrian Heflin is a graduate of the University of West Georgia with an accounting degree. He is a former banker and security guard. He began his writing career with short stories, eventually evolving to novels. Adrian has published four books and is in the planning stage of several others. Lady of the Manor (ISBN: 978-1490416434) a family saga and Devil Town (ISBN: 978-1490523392) an urban fiction novel was published in 2013. E.M.A. Chronicles (ISBN: 978-1491078341) a collection of short stories and The Untrackables: Zhang Rule (ISBN: 978-1491077863) a political thriller were both published in 2014.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

'For the Love of a Gypsy' by Madelyn Hill

Historical Romance
Date Published: April 17, 2015

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Can she betray the Gypsy clan who saved her for the love of a stranger?

Martine Petrulengo is stifled by the traditions of her adopted Gypsy clan. They gave her new life when she was left all alone. And now she is expected to marry in order to forge clan allegiances. When she nurses handsome and charming Lord Declan Forrester back to health, she is lured by the seductive idea of life outside of the clan—and the prospect of love with the Irishman.

Can he prove his innocence in order to claim his Gypsy?
Lord Declan Forrester trades prison bars for a loveless marriage in order to save his soul. And now he’s trying to prove his innocence not only as a traitor, but that of his wife’s murder.  When the lovely and beguiling Martine saves him, he falls in love for the first time. Yet, the obstacles of his past seem insurmountable.

Martine and Declan must fight tradition, prejudice and the haunting ghosts of their past in order to fight for their love and ensure their future.

A rider urged his horse forward. He wore a leather doublet of a quality she’d never seen. The black hide was pierced with metal and thick stitching formed elaborate Celtic designs. Regal and rich. His breeches hugged his thighs so closely ’twas indecent, but that didn’t stop her gaze from venturing along the hard expanse of his legs. Heat crept up her neck and flushed her face like a flame. 
He tipped his head in her brother’s direction. Martine gasped. 
The stranger from the glen. 
“We’ve business,” was all he said. 
Rafe nodded, but didn’t twitch a muscle. Martine wanted to run from the confrontation, hide in her grandmother’s berth safe from the bewitching blue eyes of the intruder. But her feet stayed rooted to the ground. 
Och, this man was handsome. Strong jaw, brilliant eyes, and a broad mouth composed a man so striking. His face was a composite of hard planes of granite that matched the intense glare of his eyes. 
The man sighed and his comrades inched closer to his side. They dressed as he did, except their clothing lacked the obvious quality she could see stitched in the leather of his. 
“The villagers are concerned with your presence, Gypsy.” 
She could feel the tension in the tight line of her brother’s shoulders, taste the anger in the air that hummed about him and the stranger. His jaw clenched and he remained silent. 
“I’ve come to ask you to leave. Gypsies bring foul memories to Riverton.” His voice was rough, husky, as he commanded her brother. 
Rafe stepped forward. She knew he wished to throttle the tactless man. “We’re Tinkers. Men and women with skills and trade.” 
“And itchy fingers if Lady Bannon’s sheep have say of it,” the man behind the stranger spouted. The other men chortled and slapped the man on the back. 
The stranger held up his hand and was rewarded with instant silence. 
Her brother shrugged, a harmless action unless you were Rafe Petrulengo. “My clan has no need of other people’s sheep.” 
Martine took a step forward. 
The stranger’s head snapped in her direction. 
He leaned forward in his saddle. “You’ll leave my land, or pay the consequences.” His tone brooked no room for argument. 
“We’re people of the land, trainers of dogs, and masters of horses.” 
Her brother’s words seemed to befuddle the stranger’s friends. They looked to one another, smirks creasing their faces. If only they knew her brother’s genius. 
“I’m Lord Declan Forrester, Earl of Riverton,” the stranger pompously said. “This is my land—and you are to leave.” 
Rafe bowed deep at the waist, his extended arm almost grazing the dirt before him. “As you wish.” 
“Be gone by morning. ’Tis all the time I’ll give you.” 
A shiver ran up her spine at the cold gruffness of his voice. He clucked his horse forward, a magnificent animal, well-muscled with a gleaming coat of black. 
Martine was so aware of the lord’s presence, her skin tingled. And she knew without looking up that trouble was about to ensue. He stopped the horse before her and just sat. When her gaze met his, the lord nodded his head and gave a mocking salute. 
She sighed, not knowing why she was reacting so unlike herself, why she was enthralled with the stranger. 
With a nudge to his horse’s side, he was off without a backward glance at her or her brother. 
One look at Rafe and she knew he’d witnessed what had transpired. Rage boiled in his dark eyes and tension pulsed his jaw. He tapped a pointy leather boot against the packed earth. The women of the clan weren’t to be appraised by Gajos. Especially a Gajo who’d ordered the Kapo to leave. 
No matter, she thought with a smile of satisfaction. Lord Forrester had acknowledged her, and the realization swept through her with unparalleled warmth.

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About the Author

Madelyn Hill has always loved the written word. From the time she could read and all through her school years, she'd sneak books into her textbooks during school. And she devoured books daily. At the age of 10 she proclaimed she wanted to be a writer. After being a "closet" writer for several years, she sent her manuscripts out there and is now published with Soul Mate Publishing. And she couldn't be happier! A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They now have 3 children and keep busy cooking, watching their children's sporting events, and of course reading!

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3 ebook copies

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Meet Professor Birdsong, author of '177 Dumbest Criminal Stories: International'

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What was the inspiration behind this book and the rest of the series?
I have had a lot of experience with criminal law as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C and later a defense attorney in D.C. 
Since I now teach, I started a blog in 2008 for my students where I post, among other things, funny and weird criminal law stories I find from around the world. For this particular book I realized that I had a goodly number of international criminal law stories. So I came up With the idea of the 177 Dumbest Criminal Stories: International. In addition to the funny crime stories I tell a bit about each country they come form a bit about the legal system of the countries. Researching and editing funny criminal stories is a hobby that has led me to write books that may give people a few good laughs.
From where do you get your stories?
Each week I read a number of newspapers and check wire service stories.
What is it about these crazy stories that hooks you as a writer?
I have always found such stories as fun. I started reading the newspaper as a 12 year old newspaper boy. 
I was always amazed at some the crazy things people did that made the news.
What is it about these crazy stories that draws in readers?
The stories draw readers because they are short, easy to read and funny.

Which book in the series is your favorite?
I actually have two favorites. The first is my “Weird 365: stories for each day of the year.” This book won a 2014 Silver Medal in 2014 from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association as one of the best ebooks of the year. My second favorite is my Weird Criminal Law Stories, Volume VI: Women in Trouble. This volume contains only stories about women who get in trouble with the law.
Do you plan on doing any more of them?
Yes, I hope to put out a new volume of Dumbest Criminal Stories each year for the next two or three years.
What is one of your own personal weird and crazy stories that you would be willing to share with us?
As a federal prosecutor long ago in the 1980’s I had to prosecute a dyslexic bank robber. The fellow had trouble reading and writing but wanted to rob a bank. He wrote a note to pass to the teller and he did pass it to the teller. The note read: “This is a rob, I have a pen, give me mon.” The teller laughed at him and gave him no money. The fellow ran from the bank and was arrested a block away. 
He decided to go to trial. The teller testified at the trial. The badly written not was entered into evidence and the jury had a good laugh and then found him guilty of attempted bank robbery. 
He was given a three year prisons sentence.
Have you ever written or thought about writing a different type of book?
I have already written a book of 12 Immigration Law Essays which was published in
November 2014. In addition to teaching criminal law I also teach immigration law. I am not interested in writing fiction.
You have worked in many governmental and law positions. Which one was your favorite?
My favorite job was when I was a U.S. State Department officer posted to the U.S. Consulate in Hamburg, Germany in 1985 for three years. Hamburg was a lovely city. I had the diplomatic rank of Consul and I was the head of the nonimmigrant visa section.
I also served as the chief hearing officer for former Nazi Party members and Waffen SS soldiers who sought to obtain nonimmigrant visas to travel to the U.S. At that time there were more ex-Nazi Party members and ex Waffen SS soldiers living in this northern German area than anywhere else in the world. As such I hold the State Department record for holding more of these hearings than anyone else in the State Department.
What else can we find you doing, when not in the classroom or collecting weird criminal stories?
I spend a lot of time doing both. When I relax I like to sit at my baby grand piano and bang out and sing a few show tunes.
I also like to swim and bicycle.

How does your family support your endeavors?
My children are all grown and out of the house. My wife leaves me to my own devices
and loves to know that I am staying out of mischief by working on my stories.

What is your favorite advice to offer to your students and readers?
I say write your passion and have fun doing it. I hope my readers appreciate that I am trying to bring them a little joy by putting a funny spin on some dumb criminals.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think I have already said too much.

Thank you so much for your time!
You are welcome. I thank you for the opportunity to provide answers to your questions.

177 dumbest criminal stories international - cover  copyProfessor Birdsong is out with another volume of his Dumbest Criminal stories. And he has done it again! Many of his stories are so funny that they will make you laugh out loud. He has managed to use his expertise and experience in criminal law to bring you 177 more of the most outrageous and dumbest criminal law stories from around the world. This new volume features stories of dumb criminals from China and the Far East, Stories from Around the Indian Ocean basin, Russia and Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom and France, as well as stories from Canada and Mexico. There is the story of a Chinese woman accused of killing a shopkeeper by squeezing his scrotum when he asked her not park her motorbike in front of his shop; her grip was so strong that the man went into shock and died. Then there is the story about a South Korean airline passenger who was not allowed to bring a certain liquid on the plane. She drank the liquid in front of airline officials but refused to swallow. When officials made her spit the liquid into a bucket they found she was attempting to sneak dozens of tadpoles on board. In India we learn about the use of “weapons-grade” spice wherein a group of criminals hijacked a train and freed a fellow gang member by throwing locally made chili powder in the face of police chasing them. They got away with it, too. From Australia there was a 20-year-old thief who stole a tanker truck containing 5,811 gallons of milk and led police on a two hour chase. From Poland we learn of a man who sued his ex-wife for a refund on the $8,000 he had spent on her breast implants. From Germany we find that a well-endowed woman allegedly tried to kill her boyfriend by smothering him with her size 38 DD breasts. Then there is the one about the English man arrested for having sex with his girlfriend’s dog. The stories just go on and on; this book covers just about every silly, unlawful citizens from around the in the globe. The stories are all true stories. Full of his witty “Birdsong” commentary the book is sure to deliver some great laughs. Professor Birdsong presents a wide variety of just plain, dumb criminals that make this anthology worth reading and, will, as previously stated, at times, make you laugh out loud.

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About the author:

birdsong-colorProfessor Birdsong received his J.D. from the Harvard Law School and his B.A. from Howard University. He teaches law in Orlando, Florida. After graduation from law school he worked four years at the law firm of Baker Hostetler. He then entered into a varied and distinguished career in government service. He served as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department with various postings in Nigeria, Germany and the Bahamas. Professor Birdsong later served as a federal prosecutor. After leaving government service, and before he began teaching, Professor Birdsong was in private law practice in Washington, D.C.

Find Pfr Birdsong on his website and on Twitter @Prof_Birdsong


Follow The Tour


'Princess of the Indies' by Wilbur D. Spencer

This is the tragic story of the closing days of the hectic reign of Christophe, black emperor of Haiti, when a piratical colony still infested the neighboring isle of Tortuga. The leading character is represented as a British sailor, shipwrecked in the Indies, who follows a fateful quest in the interest of the beautiful, but unfortunate, “Princess of the Indies.” In that quest, on land and sea, he encounters privateersman and piratical hordes, the then prevalent scourges of the southern seas. The narrative opens at a time when the bloody pirate colony of Tortuga had dwindled and Isla Espanola, once the alluring paradise of Columbus, had lapsed into a fantastic realm of racial discord. The fabulous wealth and exotic extravagances of Christophe, the black emperor, have been stressed by credible authorities during the many years which have elapsed since his suicidal exit in 1818. The title of the story has been debatable for a long time, but it would not be out of line with the custom of novelists of that ancient period if an appropriate sub-title "Foothills of Fate" had been added as an alternate. This tale of the Indies is based upon actual happenings during the second decade of the nineteenth century. It is, perhaps, only fair to observe that the writer has found it desirable to revise Captain Carroll's log to give both dialect and sequences a more modernistic twist.

About the author:

Joseph M. Demakis is a Maine Author and he enjoys the seasons of the year that inspire his works. His travels of the world while being in the United States Marine Corps has greatly inspired many of his writings. He deployed twice to the Middle East with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the War on Terror. His service to Country and Corps lasted seven years, when he was honorably retired out as a Wounded Warrior. He now lives in his home state of Maine where he grew up. 



The Ultimate Book Of Quotations - Best Seller, hit number #1 for Quotations in September 2014

Maine Immortals - Best Seller, hit number #1 for New England History in January 2015

From Out The Void - Best seller, hit number #3 for American Poetry in June 2014

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Monday, April 20, 2015

'Ask Me About My Unicorn (a B3 Novel)' by Delphina Henley


Loving a unicorn is easy. Yourself . . . ? Not so much.

Val is powerful, kind, a bit quirky . . . but the daughter of hunters. Facing your long time crush is challenging on a good day. But throw in a set of parents who want to sell him, his family and his friends in bits and pieces for dark magic and it adds a whole new set of problems. As secrets are revealed and danger mounts, Val must come to terms with where she came from and become the woman she was meant to be.  

Buy it on Amazon

Read more from the world of B³

Unless you can be aUnicorn_high
Always be yourself

That was the last advice Scout's Grandma Nora gave her before she died. Scout has spent her life trying to be anything but, but she has a chance to start anew as she moves several states away to college. She had always thought the glowing aura she saw around some people was a childhood fancy, but when it starts coming back just as she's starting her new life, she learns there was much hidden about who she truly is. Thankfully, she has a motley crew to help her along the way: a spunky bookseller, a trustworthy pub owner, a commanding grandmother, a possible best friend, and a hot rocker boy who only has eyes for her. 

Bonus: “Witches, and Werewolves, and Unicorns, Oh My!” By Elizabeth Kirke: A More than Magic Series Short Story— Exclusively written for Unless You Can Be a Unicorn

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'Unless You Can Be a Unicorn (a B3 Novel)' by Delphina Henley

Unless you can be aUnicorn_high

Always be yourself... that was the last advice Scout's Grandma Nora gave her before she died. Scout has spent her life trying to be anything but, but she has a chance to start anew as she moves several states away to college. She had always thought the glowing aura she saw around some people was a childhood fancy, but when it starts coming back just as she's starting her new life, she learns there was much hidden about who she truly is.

Thankfully, she has a motley crew to help her along the way: a spunky bookseller, a trustworthy pub owner, a commanding grandmother, a possible best friend, and a hot rocker boy who only has eyes for her.

Unless You Can Be A Unicorn is a New Adult Paranormal Romance with content appropriate for a Young Adult audience.

Buy on Amazon

Unless you can be aUnicorn_Final


'Wind Catcher' by Jeff Altabef & Erynn Altabef


by Jeffrey Altabef & Erynn Altabef



Juliet Wildfire Stone hears voices and sees visions, but she can’t make out what they mean. Her eccentric grandfather tells her stories about the Great Wind Spirit and Coyote, but he might as well be speaking another language. None of it makes any sense.

When she stumbles upon a series of murders, she can’t help but worry her grandfather might be involved. To discover the truth, Juliet must choose between her new life at an elite private school and her Native American heritage.

Once she uncovers an ancient secret society formed over two hundred years ago to keep her safe, she starts to wonder whether there’s some truth to those old stories her grandfather has been telling her.

All she wants is to be an average sixteen-year-old girl, but she has never been average—could never be average.

Betrayed by those she loves, she must decide whether to run or risk everything by fulfilling her destiny as the Chosen.

Read an excerpt:
A square mirror hangs over the sink, but it’s an enemy. I don’t want to see who I’ve become, so my gaze stays fixed down toward the sink. Unfortunately, the blood-smeared faucet is shiny, stainless, and reflects back an image of myself anyway. I glare deep into my eyes, leaning close to the faucet to study them. They look familiar, but as I pierce them more deeply, a hollowness appears that has never been there before. It scares me.

People change. Sometimes they change over the course of a lifetime, and other times change happens swiftly because of a single momentous event. I’m not the same person I was just a few days ago. Too much has happened, too many lies revealed. Truths, solid and real, have crumbled away before me and left behind falsehoods, shadows, and a future as uncertain as a prisoner on death row waiting for a pardon.

The pendant Sicheii gave me flops out from underneath my shirt. It was supposed to protect me. I grip it until my knuckles turn white.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

“Juliet, we’ve got to talk, Love. We need to come up with a story for the police.”

Just a few days ago, I was an average teenaged girl who looked forward to her sixteenth birthday, hoping for a little freedom and a chance to get a driver’s license.

Being average is a joke. I will never be average. I was never average....

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Wind Catcher: A Chosen Novel is a joint project between the father/daughter team of Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef. Jeff Altabef is an award winning author who has two published thrillers. He has a column on The Examiner focused on writing, and a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. Erynn Altabef is an avid reader, dancer, and community activist who has just earned her Girl Scout Gold Award. When she’s not in High School, she loves reading, performing in school musicals, baking, and watching movies with her friends.

The author is giving away a $20 Amazon/BN GC, autographed print copy of Wind Catcher, or a digital copy of Wind Catcher. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

'Modern Disciples (Volume 4)' by I.S. Anderson

The disciples must track their greatest enemy to a forbidden city….

Diana has been busy lately. She stalks the night looking for prey, a prey who is predator to all else. When she finds her prey, she will create a shift in power to which all disciples will succumb. The only disciple who knows her true intent is Armand Perez.

Armand awakens in the night with strange dreams. He has lost much blood in the hopes of gaining notice from his mother, the Aztec Goddess of filth, Tlazoltéotl. An action he comes to regret.

Diana has taken refuge in the city of New Orleans. The city is rich in history and culture. It is also filled with dangers even disciples need to be weary of. Not only is it dangerous, but also off limits to disciples of all pantheons save one. New Orleans is watched over by the disciples of the gods of the Loa, also known as the Voodoo gods.

In order to find Diana, Armand along with Ryan, Jane, Lisa, Angie, and Sajaad must gain the approval of the Loa. This blessing comes with a price. The disciples must endure the constant tampering of the Loa disciples themselves.

In New Orleans, Armand will face the truth about his feelings for Lisa, and Jane. He will become a pawn in a game played by the gods of his pantheon. His rivalry with Ryan will come to a head. He will be given a choice, one that will lead to a great sacrifice on his behalf, and one that could lead to the death of his companion.

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I.S. is a writer from Tampa Florida. He has been into mythology and writing about it since a young age. His Modern Disciples series follows a group of six demi-gods helping the gods fight a cold war against their ancient enemies the Titans. He works as a tech support specialist and also has a Youtube page.

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