Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Release Day Blitz - Deep in Death by Colleen Helme!




Deep In Death 
(A Shelby Nichols Adventure #6)
By Colleen Helme


Blurb: 
Running “errands” for her mob-boss employer, Joey “The Knife” Manetto, often ends with Shelby in trouble, making her cautious about continuing her association with him. Instead, she focuses on a new client who hires Shelby to find her missing mother. What seems like a routine case turns into something more sinister and deadly than she ever imagined. In the meantime, Uncle Joey has summoned Shelby to his office, where she runs into her former nemesis. Shelby inadvertently hears something that makes her fear for the lives of Uncle Joey and his hit-man, Ramos. This time, Uncle Joey is not sure he wants to involve Shelby in something he knows could get her killed. Keeping Shelby’s involvement to a minimum has disastrous results, sending Shelby on a dangerous path. As her investigation unfolds, Shelby finds death at every turn, and soon realizes she is in over her head. Can she escape from danger in time? Or will she find herself deep in death?


  



Excerpt


“I’m investigating a missing person’s report.” I pulled out my file and opened it up. 

“Her name’s Darcy Shaw, and she went missing about six years ago. Do you think I could look at your files and see if there’s anything I could use?”

Dimples frowned. “From that long ago, it’s probably downstairs in the dead files room. Come on, I’ll show you where they are.”

“Thanks.”

I followed him to the hall and down two flights of stairs to the basement. He opened the door to a room and flipped on the light. Wall-to-wall filing cabinets filled the room, and a stale, musty odor permeated the air. From the smell, I’d guess no one had come down here in a long time, kind of how I imagined it would smell visiting a mausoleum. It seemed colder than normal too, and I realized that all of the files belonged to real people who had disappeared and were probably dead, and no one knew why or how.

“Go ahead and take a look,” Dimples said. “They’re filed alphabetically.”

“Um…yeah, okay.” I hesitated, not wanting to venture further into the room. It was so cold and dank that it kind of gave me the creeps. But I only needed one file. 

That wouldn't take long.

“When you’re done, come on back up and I’ll fill you in on a case I could use your help with.” Dimples was thinking he was anxious to leave me to it, not because he had a lot to do upstairs, but because the room had kind of a weird vibe that he didn't like.

“You’re leaving me here alone?” I blurted.

“What? You’re not scared are you?” He scoffed. “It’s just a room with files in it. 

There aren't even any guns or crazy killers down here.”

“Oh fine,” I said, still hesitating in the doorway and wishing I hadn't heard that part about the weird vibe.

“You want me to stay?” He folded his arms and raised his brow in challenge.

“Of course not,” I said. “Like you said, I’ll be fine.”

“Good. Hey…if one of those files attacks you…I’m right up-stairs if you need me.”

“Ha, ha.”

He chuckled and left. I shook my head and hurried over to the cabinets. As I found the cabinet with “S through T” on it, the door clicked shut behind Dimples, sealing me in. It was deathly quiet. The only sounds in the room came from me. My breathing and the shift of my feet echoed from the walls, magnifying each tiny breath and movement I made.

An unexplained sense of urgency rolled over me. I was alone in an enclosed space that seemed to get smaller the longer I stood there. A sudden stab of dread tightened my stomach, and my hands shook a little. It was mostly thoughts of the lights going out and leaving me in total darkness that did it. If Bates knew I was here, I wouldn't put it past him to do that to me, and I wanted out of this creepy place as fast as I could.

With renewed effort, I scanned the labels until I came to the right drawer and yanked it open. I quickly leafed through the folders and caught my breath to actually find the file. I swallowed with relief and pulled the bulky file out. Pursing my lips together, I set it on top of the other folders and opened it up checking to make sure it was the right one.

A larger version of the same picture I’d received from Tiffany stared back at me. Her eyes held a haunting mixture of sadness and foreboding, and goose bumps broke out along my arms. A sudden chill ran up my spine and my heart picked up speed. All at once, it felt like I wasn’t alone, and someone was standing right there beside me. I froze. I didn’t believe in ghosts, but I didn’t dare look either.

My mouth went dry and I hardly dared to take a breath. Glancing back down at the picture, I felt something cold and feather-like brush against my cheek. I inhaled sharply. It came a second time and I jerked my face away, hunching my shoulders to my neck with fear. “I…I’ll try and find out what happened to you,” I croaked. The chill intensified, then suddenly fell away in a cool breeze, leaving the scent of flowers behind, which I recognized as the distinct smell of gardenias.

With my heart racing, I grabbed the file and slammed the drawer shut, then raced out of the room as fast as I could. In my haste, I left the light on, but I was too scared to go back and turn it off. The smell of gardenias stayed with me all the way up the stairs, but disappeared as I entered the office. With my chest heaving, I hurried over to Dimples’ desk and sat down, rubbing my cold arms.



About the Author

 A long career as a wife and mother while juggling several part-time jobs gave Colleen the ambition to dream of being a published author, where she could put her imagination to good use. Now instead of making up stories to tell her children, she writes books they love to read. Hopefully you will too. She is the author of three romantic fantasy novels, Songbird, Flame of Destiny and The Relic. Her Shelby Nichols Adventures include Carrots, Fast Money, Lie or Die, Secrets That Kill, and Trapped By Revenge coming soon!




You can find Colleen here:

         


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Monday, July 21, 2014

[Coffee Shop Talks] Covers I Would Never Want to Be Caught in Public With!


Favorite books with covers I would never want to be caught in public with!


I'm not usually one to get embarrassed by book covers. While I'm not a fan of shirtless man covers or the cheesy designs that many romance novels have, I can't say that I would be ashamed if anyone ever saw me reading them. Erotica is a bit different for me. I couldn't just sit in public flaunting a BDSM design or a naughty threesome cover.

Back in 2011 I read Be With Me by Maya Banks. Hated the cover. But I loved the redesign that Berkley released last year. You would never guess that I was reading a story about a woman who has an open sexual relationship with her 3 male best friends. 

  '08         '13


Here are a few books that I've enjoyed that have covers I would want to hide.






Our guest blogger this week is Michelle @ Because Reading Is Better Than Real Life!
Because reading is better than real life

        

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New Cover Art - Cherry Bomb, Viper Game, Deadeye, & More!





Viper Game by Christine Feehan

Cherry Bomb by Caitlin R. Kiernan 

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad by George R. R. Martin


Viper Game (Ghostwalker, Bk11) by Christine Feehan 
January 27, 2015 | Published by Jove

Cherry Bomb (Siobhan Quinn #3) by Caitlin R. Kiernan 
February 3, 2015 | Published by Roc Trade

Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4) by Patricia Briggs 
March 3, 2015 | Ace Hardcover

Panther Prowling (Otherworld #17) by Yasmine Galenorn 
January 27, 2015 | Published by Jove

Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) Chloe Neill 
March 3, 2015 | Published by NAL Trade

Deadeye (The Mutant Files #1) by William C. Dietz
January 27, 2015 | Published by Ace

The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson 
January 6, 2015 | Published by Ace Trade

The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley
Published by Tor Books | January 13, 2015

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad Edited by George R. R. Martin
Published by Tor Books | January 13, 2015



Friday, July 18, 2014

[Blog Tour - Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway] - Black Rook (Cornerstone Run #1) by Kelly Meade


BlackRookbanner

Cornerstone Run is a paranormal romance trilogy, set in a world of hidden loup garou, their mystical Magi enemies, and the occasional vampire. The small, reclusive town of Cornerstone, Pennsylvania, houses an almost entirely loup garou population?one of only thirteen towns around the country that serve as a sanctuary for their nonhuman inhabitants, where the loup garou are free to be themselves. When a neighboring sanctuary town is attacked by a vicious, unknown enemy, the three sons of Cornerstone's Alpha must stand together to protect their people?and the women who steal their hearts.





Black Rook
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Penguin | BAM | GoodReads
She never saw this coming
Brynn Atwood is a low-level Magus whose unpredictable precognitive powers have made her an outcast among her people, and an embarrassment to her highly-regarded father. After a frightening vision in which her father is murdered by a loup garou man, Brynn decides to prove herself by finding the killer, and stopping them at any cost.  Her target is Rook McQueen, the son of a small-town loup garou Alpha. Despite being the youngest of three, Rook is first in line to inherit the role of Alpha, a duty he isn't sure he's capable of fulfilling. When Brynn finally meets Rook, she doesn't expect the attraction that draws her to him, and him to her.  No longer believing him a murderer, Brynn and Rook strike an alliance to find her father's real killer. But when his older brother is targeted by an unknown enemy, Rook will have to choose between his growing feelings for Brynn and his duty as the future Alpha of his community.
INCLUDES A PREVIEW OF THE NEXT TITLE IN THE CORNERSTONE TRILOGY, GRAY BISHOP.

Cornerstone Run Trilogy
Black RookGray BishopWhite Knight

Excerpt - Chapter 1

Brynn Atwood observed the entrance to McQueen's Auction House, as she had done for the past few minutes while she gathered the courage she needed to leave the safety of her rental car. A steady stream of vehicles entered the parking lot and ejected browsers and buyers, all eager to view today's auction and visit with acquaintances seen only during these once-a-week sales. Not Brynn. She was certainly the only person who'd showed up today intending to prevent a murder.

Walking alone into a town populated with and run by loup garou wasn't the smartest thing she had ever done in her twenty-four years, but it certainly counted as the bravest. If she managed to achieve her goal, even her father would have to admit to her courage and to the validity of her visions. He didn't trust in her seer ability, nor did he believe that her vision of him being murdered by a loup garou would come true.


Surely you know I would never put myself into a situation that would result in such a calamitous outcome, her father, Archimedes Atwood, had said the previous day. And as with every chilly encounter between them in the last few months, he'd spoken with the impatience of a strict teacher correcting a belligerent child. Perhaps some of your visions have come true on occasion, but do not use me to distract attention from your own disgrace. I have no more time for this nonsense?


Her visions were always nonsense.


Archimedes was a Prime Magus in the Congress of Magi, one of four, as well as a powerful practitioner of elemental magic. He'd never hidden his disappointment over Brynn's uncontrollable precognitive powers?powers he had yet to acknowledge were real, or her inability to one day claim his spot on the Congress. She was too weak, a failure as a Magus. She couldn?t even manage to keep her job as a Congress tutor for more than two years. All she had left were her infrequent visions, in whatever time or manner they chose to come.

And worse yet, he had all but accused her of fabricating this vision and the need to save him in order to make up for the shame she?d brought to their name when she was fired. She didn't want the vision to be true. She wanted her father alive for many years to come.

She would figure out how to save him on her own. She would prove her value.


Brynn climbed out of her car and surveyed the quickly filling parking lot. In any new situation, her best first step was to observe her surroundings, study others, and discover the way to best fit in. She had never before attended a public auction of any sort; she knew only that antiques and other goods were bid upon and purchased, sometimes at outrageous prices. Some patrons walked into the building carrying their own boxes, clearly expecting to purchase items. Others entered carrying only cups of coffee or soda, or small children.


The variety of patrons surprised her: young and old, scruffy and well-kempt, couples and singles and large groups, and families. Some drove up with pickups and vans; some parked expensive cars in the narrow, crowded lot. Everyone seemed at ease.


I must stick out like a smoking vampire in daylight.


Standing there like a fool would only garner her unwanted attention. Subtlety was the route to accomplishing her task. Brynn forced her feet to carry her forward, past other vehicles, toward the main entrance. Everyone seemed to be entering the large, barnlike building through those glass double doors. A few people came back to the parking lot from the side of the building, which indicated a back entrance/exit, as well. She?d tried to find blueprints of the layout before her arrival, but getting any sort of in-depth information on Cornerstone, Pennsylvania, was next to impossible.

The town had a small population of six hundred forty-one residents, and Brynn could guess that about ten percent were human. 

Cornerstone was founded by a run of loup garou nearly two centuries ago, and was one of a dozen similar safe havens around the country. Much like the Congress of Magi and a few surviving nests of vampires, loup garou runs required secrecy and anonymity to survive in the modern world. The weekly auctions at McQueen?s brought outside income to the town without the interference of tourism or industry, and it kept them from appearing too insular to the outside world.


Her father stubbornly refused to have any faith in her abilities, but Brynn's visions of the future came true without fail, and the most recent had led her here to McQueen's Auction House. Led her to the loup garou she?d seen standing over her father's broken body. The man her careful research told her was named Rook McQueen.

The boy, she corrected.

As a general rule, her people did not trust technology. The Magi trusted tradition and magic above all else. Growing up an only child with few friends, Brynn spent hundreds of hours on her computer, a gift awarded by her father on her twelfth birthday, as a means to keep her mind occupied beyond the limited resources of their home's physical library. Only weeks before, she had spoken to him of her first vision. In the middle of reading a book, she had seen a clear image of a baby bird falling from a nest. It disturbed her so much that she'd fled into the backyard in time to see it happen. She scooped the tiny robin up and climbed the tree where she spotted the nest, returning the lost baby to its siblings.


She was so proud when she told her father about it that night not only the bird, but the premonition. Her very first display of a Magus power.  Manifestations of a child's overactive imagination, he had scoffed.  Do not bother me with these small things, daughter.

The computer became her gateway to the outside world, a link to knowledge far beyond the borders of her home in Chestnut Hill. And like the young sleuths in the slim novels she'd loved so much, Brynn taught herself how to research and investigate skills that had served her well these last few days as she raced to identify her father's killer.

One of three sons of Thomas McQueen, the auction house's owner, Rook was two years younger than herself, a recent college graduate, and the former lead singer of a popular local rock band, not exactly the portrait of a killer, loup garou or otherwise. And yet the brief glimpse of him in her vision, skin marked with tattoos, human teeth bared, and hands covered in her father's blood, showed him capable of violence, as all loup garou inevitably were.


She would not allow her father to become Rook McQueen's victim. Archimedes Atwood was too important, not only to herself but to the Congress of Magi. The Magi were small in number, and they relied on their leaders to protect them from their enemies, including the volatile, deadly loup garou. And as an elemental Magi, he was among the most powerful. Few others shared his ability to manipulate fire. Their people needed him, so Brynn needed to protect him. She had to find a way to prevent her father's murder before it occurred.


The biggest blank in her research was Rook's relationship to the run's Alpha. Brynn had no access to the Congress's files on the loup garou, and she couldn't directly ask her father for the name of Cornerstone's Alpha, her father had no idea she'd identified his would-be assassin, or that she was in central Pennsylvania doing reconnaissance on said assassin, instead of at the family home wallowing in her professional disgrace.


A random loup killing her father carried a very different meaning than a loup from within the higher ranks of the run's Alpha family, the latter could easily be considered an act of war against the Congress of Magi. A foolishly begun war, as the Magi and loup had maintained an uneasy peace for the last sixty years.


Concentrate, foolish girl, before you get yourself killed. This isn't one of your novels, this is real.


Brynn smoothed her palms down the front of her green t-shirt and tugged at the hem. She stopped, recognizing the nervous gesture, a habit from the two years she'd worked as a Congress tutor, which required skirts and blouses and high heels. The t-shirt, denim shorts, and Keds combination she'd chosen for today's mission had been partly for comfort in the August heat and partly to blend in. 


The final piece of her costume was the Magus pendant hidden behind the t-shirt, which would act as a sensory mirror and hide her natural scent, any loup sniffing her for signs of other would smell a common human female, instead of a Magus. The auction attracted dozens of human buyers, but the people who ran it and worked there were still loup. The pendant was her only real protection against their sense of smell.


The stolen pendant, you fool. 


Plucking it from her father's office had nearly given her fits, and her father would be apoplectic when he discovered it was missing, yet another reason to finish her task and return home posthaste. 


Maybe, just maybe, she could prevent this vision from coming true. She had to try.


Nerves twisted her stomach into a tight ball that nearly squeezed the air from her lungs. The thump of music and drone of voices greeted her as Brynn pushed open the door and stepped inside McQueen's Auction House.


Avesta, protect me, your loyal daughter.


Plea to the Magi's patron sent, Brynn forced her anxiety into the background and paid closer attention to her surroundings. The entrance was spacious, with a short hallway and a brightly painted Restrooms sign on her immediate right. On the left was a bulletin board covered in layers of posters and flyers advertising yard sales and on-site auctions. Past it was a roped-off stairwell going up to parts unknown. A handsome young man in cowboy boots and a matching leather hat leaned near the stairwell, sipping from a Styrofoam cup, as though he lived solely to hold up that particular wall.


His intent gaze landed on her, and she didn't have to search for the copper flecks in his brown eyes to know he was loup garou. Brynn's insides froze, but she forced out a calm, flirty smile. She knew she was attractive enough to gather a few second glances, and he was what she might hesitantly call beautiful, if a man could be considered so, with a slim nose and perfectly symmetrical features. However beautiful, this man was also her enemy. His body was fit, impeccably toned, and even at ease he thrummed with the power of his caged beast. He also wasn't Rook McQueen, so although he was quite pleasant to look at, he did not hold her interest.


He tilted his head in a friendly gesture, then winked. Brynn blushed and ducked her head, a reaction she did not have to fake. Male attention of any sort nowadays left her insides squirrely, a sense of bitter panic residing where her confidence had once dwelled. She also needed to remain inconspicuous while here, and flirting with a local cowboy was not the way to stay alive.


Brynn followed an elderly couple out into the main room. She slipped over to her left, out of the flow of traffic, and absorbed the scene of orderly chaos. An elevated pair of cash registers stood near the entrance, with lines on each side. The customers in line traded personal information for a large index card with a number written in black marker. Cards in hand, the customers went to one of many places in the cavernous room.


Dozens of tables of merchandise were set up along the perimeter of the room, three rows deep, and at the center of it all was a dais, two stools, and a microphone. Directly behind the dais was a long row of antique furniture and four glass cases. Rows of mismatched chairs covered the rest of the floor space, facing the dais. At least half the chairs were marked by either sitting bodies or empty boxes waiting for their owners. In the far back of the room, close to Brynn?s position, was a food counter advertising sandwiches and chips and cold sodas, and it produced the bitter scent of over-brewed coffee. Opposite Brynn was another set of propped-open double doors, and a steady stream of people moved in and out of a second room that seemed crowded with boxes.


Someone jostled past on a waft of coffee-scented air, alerting Brynn to the competing odors in the room. The food counter fought with the tang of human body odor, as well as the musty stink of old paper and leather. A damp smell, like rain, hung over everything else, reminding her that even though she was surrounded by human beings, nonhumans also mingled. Every loup in the room posed a threat to her safety.


Brynn walked along the back wall, out of the heavier flow of people, alert for her prey. She spotted three other men who set off her loup alarms. Each wore a black t-shirt and jeans, just like the man outside in the cowboy boots.


McQueen employees. They must be.


One of them lingered near the dais, chatting with an older woman in a purple caftan, giving her his full attention while still managing to observe the room. He had a strong facial resemblance to the loup in the entrance, and a stronger resemblance to the photo she'd found of Rook. Each could easily be one of Rook's two brothers. Brynn swallowed hard, mouth dry. If two of the three McQueen brothers worked here, maybe Rook did, as well. He could appear at any moment.


Your brother may one day murder my father.


The thought saddened her. Rook wasn't just a potential murderer. He was also a brother and a son, and his family would miss him if he were gone. They would also fight to protect him the moment they considered her a threat.


You can't think about that now, foolish girl.


Brynn inhaled a steadying breath. She palmed her right hand in her left, the fingers of her left hand smoothing over the gold band of the ring she wore on her right index finger. The top of the ring appeared to be a piece of costume jewelry, a blue gem the size of a nickel. A blue gem filled with a paralytic poison, developed decades ago to specifically target the loup garou's nervous system. One tap of the ring would send a dose of poison down the ring's band to her hand, and one firm handshake with any loup would put enough on his skin to kill him within an hour. No one would suspect such an innocuous item to be a deadly weapon, which was exactly the reason she?d stolen it from her father's study.


As a small child, she had once overheard him boasting to another Magus of using the ring to drug an unsuspecting loup garou, and they were none the wiser. She had thought this made her father particularly clever, and the moment had stayed with her. Brynn Atwood might walk alone into a loup sanctuary town, but she wouldn?t walk in unarmed.


She had a single dose of the antidote hidden in her car in case she accidentally poisoned someone, no sense in leaving that to chance. She might be willing to kill to protect her father and she would defend herself if attacked, but she would not hurt an innocent loup.

If loup could be considered innocent. Her father would scoff at the notion.

She had considered her plan a dozen different ways before engaging. She didn't rush blindly ahead. She rarely undertook any sort of action without having first clearly considered the potential outcomes. The only action guaranteeing her vision never came true was her removing Rook from the equation. Murdering him first. That was, however, a last resort action that almost guaranteed her own death at loup garou hands, as well as bringing the full power of her father's anger down on their run.


She preferred the plan where she observed, gathered information, possibly discovered who the run Alpha was so she could introduce herself, and then took steps to prevent her vision that left all involved happy and healthy, her father especially.


Awareness prickled up her spine just as a male voice said, 

'You look a bit lost, miss."

Brynn turned, not terribly surprised to find the cowboy from the entrance watching her. The cup was gone, but he still wore the silly leather hat, which cast a shadow over his eyes. It didn't hide his beauty, though.


Enemy.


"I was supposed to meet someone here, but I don't see them yet," she said, the rehearsed lie falling easily from her lips.


"That explains it, then." His tone was light, his voice lyrical and calming, but it still held a hint of danger. And challenge.


"Explains what?"

"Why you looked like you were casing the place.'

She laughed without forcing it, finding actual humor in the comment. 


"Do you often have problems with armed robbers staging stickups here?"


"No, but we've caught a few thieves over the years, trying to break in and steal items before they go up for sale."


"Are you saying I look like a thief?"


"You just looked a little lost, that?s all. This your first time here?"


"It's that obvious?"


He lifted his left shoulder in a shrug. "My father owns the place, and I've worked for him since I was a kid. I know all of the regulars, and most of the semi-regulars. New faces are easy to spot, especially faces as pretty as yours."


Two things solidified for Brynn then: this man was definitely one of the McQueen brothers, and he was definitely flirting with her. Inbred disgust at the loup's attention seized her, and she barely managed to stall a physical reaction.


He jumped, then his hand went to his jeans pocket. Brynn's rising alarm calmed when he whipped out a vibrating cell phone and checked a message. "Damn," he said as he tucked the phone away again. "Work calls."


"Don't let me keep you."


"I hope your friend shows soon. In the meantime, take a look around. We've got a lot of great stuff today."


"Thank you."


"My pleasure."


He eased past her and walked straight up the center aisle of chairs to the dais, directly to the other man she suspected of being a McQueen. She watched them from the corner of her eye, but the other man gestured at the furniture behind the dais. They didn't seem to be talking about her. She'd just had a conversation with her target's brother and no one suspected a thing.


Don't get cocky. Things could still go badly in a moment's time.


She pushed away the voice of reason. A little more confident now, Brynn gave herself permission to look around. It was her first auction, after all. She wandered to the other side of the room, as much to make a show of belonging as to check out some of the items for sale. She'd always assumed auctions were full of dirty antiques and shiny glass baubles, but the table nearest her was covered with books. Boxes and boxes of books, hardcovers, paperbacks, textbooks, in all genres and on all subjects. The reams of knowledge in those boxes made her chest ache for the satisfaction she used to get from teaching.


Until last month, when she was fired from her tutor position and found herself with zero standing among her people, and with no hope for her future.


Maybe after this you'll find a new calling as a Congress investigator.


Smiling at the ridiculous notion, she picked up a thick copy of the annotated works of Homer and smoothed back the torn corner of its dust jacket. Nostalgia for school and learning settled heavily in her chest, so heavily it tried to force up tears. She'd briefly considered returning to school and earning a new degree, since history and education hadn't served her very well. Briefly. If the Alpha reacted badly to her presence in his town, or Rook took issue with her allegations, she'd never get the chance to reconsider her education more thoroughly.


She'd never get the chance to do a lot of things. Her father once said that loup justice was swift and merciless.


She put the book down and pinched the bridge of her nose, damming the tears and steeling her nerves. She would not cry, not here in public. Not when she needed to accomplish a job that required her full attention.

A flash of movement caught her attention, and Brynn turned her head toward the entrance. Her gaze drifted up. Above the entrance, probably accessible from that roped-off staircase, was a large window and a room behind. Two men stood at the window, talking and gesturing, in what looked like an office. Probably the manager's office, which gave him a bird's-eye view of his business.

The shorter of the two men captured and held her attention. Hints of a tattoo peeked out from beneath the sleeve of his black t-shirt. Metal glinted in his right earlobe, and another tattoo, or possibly the same, crept down his ear to his neck and disappeared into the collar of his shirt.


Even in profile, Brynn knew him. Fear and rage collided in a storm of cold and heat, and she clenched her hands into tight fists.

Rook McQueen. Her father's future killer.

Blood rushed hot in her veins, and her heart thumped harder. He wasn't just a face in a vision any longer. He was real.


"Ma'am?" The strange male voice alarmed Brynn into spinning around too fast. Her elbow clipped the voice owner in the chest and he grunted. Brynn's stomach bottomed out. The man from the front of the room, her second McQueen brother suspect, frowned darkly, and she saw her own death there.


"I'm so sorry," Brynn said. "Are you all right?"


"Fine. I'm sorry to bother you, but do you drive a white Dodge Neon?"


She blinked at the odd question about her rental car. "Yes, I do."


"Someone reported that they backed into your car. You may want to come with me and exchange insurance information."


"Oh for Av, God's sake." Brynn mentally slapped herself for the near slip. Using "Avesta's sake" in the presence of a loup garou was as obvious as wearing a t-shirt that said "Yes, I'm a Magus Spy. Kill Me."


"Small lot, so it happens once in a while," the man said. Up close, she better saw the resemblance to the cowboy-wannabe in his narrow nose and hooded eyes. However, the slight roundness in his cheekbones and higher forehead showed a more pronounced similarity to Rook. And he was definitely older than the other two. 


"The auction doesn't start for another forty minutes, if you're worried about missing something."


"No, it's fine," Brynn said, even though it wasn't. The coincidence unnerved her, but she had no choice except to see how this played out.


He stepped to the side. "After you."


She walked to the end of the row of chairs and made her way back toward the auction house entrance, keenly aware of her shadow's presence, and that she'd just turned her back on one of her people's greatest enemies.

About Kelly Meade
Raised on a steady diet of Star Wars, Freddy Krueger and "Fear Street" novels, Kelly Meade developed a love for all things paranormal at a very young age. The stealthy adolescent theft of a tattered paperback from her grandmother's collection of Harlequins sparked an interest in romance that has continued to this day.
Black Rook is the first novel in her Cornerstone Run series, a paranormal romance trilogy from Berkley Intermix that also includes Gray Bishop and White Knight. It follows three loup garou brothers who will do anything to protect their town, their family, and the secret of their existence?and maybe fall in love in the process.

Writing as Kelly Meding, Three Days to Dead is the first book in her Dreg City urban fantasy series. The series follows Evangeline Stone, a paranormal hunter who is resurrected into the body of a stranger and has only three days to solve her own murder and stop a war between the city's goblins and vampires. Additional books in the series, As Lie the Dead, Another Kind of Dead, and Wrong Side of Dead, are available in both digital format and mass market paperback from Bantam. Book five, Requiem for the Dead, is available digitally through all platforms.

Trance begins the story of the grown-up children of the world's slaughtered superheroes who receive their superpowers back after a mysterious fifteen-year absence, and who now face not only a fearful public, but also a vengeful villain who wants all of them dead. Trance and Changeling are available now in both digital format and mass market paperback from Pocket Books. Tempest and Chimera are available in digital format only via Pocket Star. All four MetaWars books can also be purchased as a digital bundle.


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July 01[Insert Clever Quip Here]July 15Rantings of a Reading Addict
Pure TextualityJuly 16Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks
SnoopyDoo's Book ReviewsJuly 17Rabid Reads
July 02Rage, Sex, and Teddy BearsJuly 18BookSkater
Wild Wordy WomenAddicted 2 Heroines
July 03Booked and LoadedJuly 21Paranormal Haven
July 04MM Jaye WritesJuly 22All Things Urban Fantasy
Toot's Book ReviewsGizmo's Reviews
July 07Geeks in High SchoolTotally Addicted to Reading
July 08Rhi ReadingJuly 23Deal Sharing Aunt
July 09The Book NymphoJuly 24Book Lovin' Mamas
July 10Angel's Guilty PleasuresJuly 25Between Dreams and Reality
July 11Mad Hatter ReadsJuly 28I Feel the Need, the Need to Read
Wendy Dawn's Wicked WorldPlatypire Reviews
July 14Romancing the Dark SideJuly 29Indie Author How-To
Wicked Women Book BlogJuly 30WTF Are You Reading?
July 15I Smell SheepJami Gray's Blog
July 31Tez Says

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Early Review: Prototype (Archetype #2) by M.D. Waters




Release date: July 24, 2014
Published by: Dutton Adult
Source: Digital ARC, Edelweiss
Author links: Blog | Twitter | Facebook



Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.




*Slight spoilers for those who haven't read Archetype*


Protoype was even better than the debut! The story was emotionally charged and Emma's struggles with her identity and where she fit into her new life had me glued to the pages. Is she Emma Burke? Emma Wade? A wife and a mother or an independent woman who just wants her freedom? 

The story begins with Emma's search for her parents and the action begins shortly thereafter. She is being sought after by the same people she previously escaped from and Emma has no choice but to run and hide. But there is only one place where she can truly escape their reach and that's with Noah Tucker. She's reluctant to run back to him for a number of reasons, but her life depends upon it.

What I was most anticipating about this sequel was the relationship development between Emma and Adrienne. Of all the complicated situations that Emma has had to face, I knew her future with Adrienne would be one of the most difficult, especially now that she has been away for so long. Her transition from stranger to mother was filled with drama, as expected, and Emma had to deal with feeling more like an intruder than a parent thanks to Sonya's role in their lives. She also had to deal with her feelings toward Noah and differentiating between which parts of her life were Emma Wade's and her own. 

I was a little confused at times because it seemed as if she wanted to separate herself from Wade when she should have been trying to cope with the melding of the two. After all, she only existed because of Wade. Her life, her memories, her child, her true love were all there because of this other woman. But part of her difficulty with these things were what made this so interesting, even if her attempts at reasoning with it didn't always make sense to me. 

Overall, I thought Prototype was a fantastic sequel. It was filled with complications and Emma had so many obstacles to overcome. In the end, it was all worth it because she receives her happily ever after. I don't know if Waters plans on writing more stories set in this world, but if she does I will be the first in line to read them.




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Macy By Any Other Name - Guest Post by Author Amy M. Reade!


                                                                                     


 Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead.

But her first sight of Summerplace is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions. Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming.

Watching eyes, veiled threats…slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House…

Romantic Suspense | Kensington Publishing Corp. | July 17, 2014

eISBN-13: 978-1-60183-299-3 | eISBN-10: 1-60183-299-0

ISBN-13: 978-1-60183-300-6 | ISBN-10: 1-60183-300-8




http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Hallstead-House-Amy-Reade-ebook/dp/B00IO3QR70/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1405482271




Macy Stoddard is the name of the main character in my first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House. I tried out other names, but Macy just worked. And once the story was written, there was simply no way I could have changed her name, even if I had wanted to. It was as much as part of her as my name is a part of me.

So where did her name come from? The short answer is “I don’t know.” I just like the name Macy. And the name Stoddard. 

I used to read books featuring characters with exotic, faraway-sounding names. I always wondered where the authors had ever heard those names or whether the names were just made up. I also remember thinking I would never want to name my children after any of those characters.

But every once in a while I come across a book peopled with names that are straight out of the “Book of Common Names” and I find them boring. I don’t mind the occasional regular name here and there, but I want names that show imagination and originality. They don’t have to be names that have never been used, but I want them to have some personality. Some oomph. If a story has characters named Mary, Joe, and Dave, that’s boring to me. Not that I don’t like those names, but I want those characters to be called Ysobel, Georges, and Maurice instead. In Secrets of Hallstead House, Macy meets a man named Pete. I really like the name Pete, and it fits the character, but there are days I wish I had called him something else from the very start. Something like Mick or Sean. 

One of the characters in my second book used to be named Helena, but she was one of three main characters whose names all started with the letter H. I ended up having to change her name to Lucy, which actually fits her better. I thought it would be hard for me to think of her as a Lucy when all along she had been Helena to me, but it wasn’t. I think her name was always meant to be Lucy.

I love names. I love to research them and learn their origins and meanings. I enjoy surnames as much as first names. In my work-in-progress notebook I have a whole page dedicated to noting names that I hear and love or names that I think of and want to remember and use in a later story. 

I still have the baby name book I bought before my first child was born and I actually keep it right near me on my desk. I love to leaf through it looking at different names and their origins and alternative spellings. I like go online and search for names from different countries. My work-in-progress takes place in Hawaii, and I’ve had a lot of fun researching Hawaiian names for men and women. 

I know of several authors (I’m sure there are lots of them) who hold contests and the winners get characters named after them. Hmmm. That might be something for me to think about. 

In the meantime, I still love the name Macy. And Brandt and Alex and Leland and Valentina and all the other names of the characters in Secrets of Hallstead House. Their names are personal to them and to me. 

Readers, what’s your name? Do you ever wish it was different?


 



Amy M. Reade is a debut author of romantic suspense. A native of upstate New York, she grew up in the Thousand Islands region and was inspired by the natural beauty of that area to write her first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House. She now lives in New Jersey with her husband, three children, a Bouvier des Flandres named Orly, and two rescued cats who refuse to answer to their names of Porthos and Athos.

Upon graduation from Cornell University and Indiana University School of Law, Amy practiced law in New York City, but soon discovered that her dream job was writing. In addition to volunteering with school, church, and community groups, Amy is currently working on her second novel, set in the area around Charleston, South Carolina.

Though Amy lives within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, she is partial to the blue waters of the Pacific and spends as much time as possible on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the setting of her as-yet-unwritten third novel.

 
 
 
 
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