Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Available now: One Night in Havana by Kathleen Rowland

City Nights series, #34
Kathleen Rowland



(99c through 4 February)
A desperate competition and sizzling attraction leads to dangerous desire.

New York Marine biologist Veronica “Roni” Keane is attending the Havana Bay Conference in Cuba. Tomorrow only one grant will be awarded which will provide the winner with professional recognition, resources for a project, and living expenses for two years. She hopes to continue her deceased father’s work, but smooth operator, Carlos Montoya, has won many grants in the past.

Carlos, a freelancer for the Havana Port Authority, works to help protect Havana’s reputation as a bastion of safety. As international travelers flock to the island, attracted by its 1950’s time-warp and colonial architecture, the drug business is running rampant, particularly on Roni’s cruise ship. Something’s not right, and when her scuba tanks are tampered with, Carlos brings in the military police to investigate. For her safety, he keeps her close, but he craves her body.

Their attraction leads to a fun night with a bit of kink. But Roni finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for when the criminals blame her for alerting the military police and come looking for her. Can Roni trust Carlos to protect her? Will she stay in Havana if Carlos wins the coveted grant, or kiss her lover goodbye?

• • •

“Why, Veronica Keane.” A voice heavy with a Spanish accent drawled from behind her. “A dive bar?” A taunting tsk. “What do we have? A slumming New Yorker?”

She stiffened and closed her eyes. She knew that voice and its owner, Dr. Carlos Montoya, a finalist like her, competing for the same damn grant at the biggest Cephalopoda conference of the decade. Her heart pitter-pattered against her ribs. To turn toward him would intimate distress, or worse yet, weakness. She wouldn’t fail to win this grant, not when she was a final contender. “I like this funky little place.” Sia Macario Café, smack in the center of Havana, allowed her to observe locals and their daily lives.

“You need to eat with all the mojitos you’ve downed.” The big tease wasn’t counting. This was her first drink, but his rumbling, sexy timbre hinted at all kinds of dark, hot promises. She’d rubbed shoulders with the Cuban scientist all week. This splendid specimen of Latin male brought on a physical ache that punched low.

A flare-up stirred fear. For her own good, she needed to resist. “I ordered camarones enchiladas.” By now she knew the menu on the chalkboard by heart. She tipped her head back to whiff grilled shrimp soon to arrive in sofrito sauce with fried sweet plantains.

“The flan is good. Just like my abuela makes.”

“I bet. Your grandmother would be happy to hear that,” she said, knowing he brought out the best in most people. Two days ago he'd invited her and a handful of others scuba diving. The chance to ogle him had been one of the perks. He’d worn nothing but swim trunks, his bare chest on display. Every glistening muscle was finely etched. Not a drop of fat on him. Since he’d not given her the time of day, she’d checked him out without him noticing.

The hard-bodied host had led the way toward habitats of soft-bodied creatures. To find where invertebrates lived was never an easy task. Octopuses squeezed into narrow passages of coral for protection and gave females a place to keep their eggs. She’d discovered the remains of a few meals nearby. Octopuses scattered rocks and shells to help them hide.

This grant meant so much to her and no doubt to him as well. Veronica mindlessly toyed with the gold necklace around her neck, but anxiety crackled through her brain. Unlike this man of action, she lacked the flamboyant personality necessary to talk people into things. Carlos had that ability. He'd made friends with judges on board while she’d conversed with an older woman about a box of scones made with Cuban vanilla cream.

That day the wind had picked up to a gale force, and this woman named Bela with Lucille Ball red hair needed help walking to her home. The half mile down the seaside promenade, The Malecón, had provided her with time to practice her Spanish. Turned out Bela was Carlos’s grandmother. She’d worked as a maid when the Castro government came to power. When private homes were nationalized, titles were handed over to the dwelling occupants. Bela owned a crumbling home in the respected Verdado district and rented out rooms.

What Veronica detested about Carlos was his abnormal level of talent for schmoozing. Not that he wasn't charismatic; he drew her like a powerful magnet with emotions hard to untangle. Why was a self-assured woman who ran her own life thinking about a man who commanded everyone around him?

She inhaled a breath and turned around on the barstool, caught fast by a gut punch of Carlos Montoya in the flesh. She sighed and surrendered to the tendrils of want sliding up between her thighs.

Tall and muscular, his lush dark hair curled to his collar giving him a wild, roguish appearance. His face was lean and chiseled. His mouth full and tempting. His eyes the smoky-gray of a grass fire and fringed with black lashes as dense as paintbrushes. He smiled. A faint hint of mockery curved his mouth, a sensual mouth she imagined to be either inviting or cruel. Or both at the same time when he leaned over a woman with a diamond-hard gleam in his dark eyes while she drowned with pleasure. She fought a fierce desire to run her hand across his broad chest, tip her face upward, and…

His breath tickled her face.

Not going there. She blinked and forced her mind to focus. Carlos Montoya was not the kind of man you lost focus around. But that image of putting her mouth full on his and peeling away his shirt once introduced in her mind was impossible to expunge. Pointless even to try.

He was an intimidating blend of intellect and sexy danger. Both qualities had her leaning back against the bar’s edge. If it weren’t for him, she’d have a chance at winning the grant.

• • •

Book Buyers Best finalist, Kathleen Rowland, is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with a sizzling love story sure to melt their hearts. Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels.She grew up in Iowa, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Kathleen now happily exists with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California, where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write while listening to characters’ demanding voices in her head.

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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Available now: A River of Silence by Susan Clayton-Goldner

A Winston Radhauser Mystery, #3
Susan Clayton-Goldner



(99c through28 January)
The past always finds us.

When Detective Winston Radhauser is awakened by a call from dispatch at 12:45a.m., it can mean only one thing—something terrible awaits him. He races to the Pine Street. In the kitchen, Caleb Bryce, nearly deaf from a childhood accident, is frantically giving CPR to 19-month-old Skyler Sterling. Less than an hour later, Skyler is dead.

The ME calls it a murder and the entire town of Ashland, Oregon is outraged. Someone must be held accountable. The police captain is under a lot of pressure and anxious to make an arrest. Despite Radhauser’s doubts about Bryce’s guilt, he is arrested and charged with first degree murder. Neither Radhauser nor Bryce’s young public defender believe he is guilty. Winston Radhauser will fight for justice, even if it means losing his job.

• • •

In only eleven minutes, Detective Winston Radhauser’s world would flip on its axis and a permanent line would be drawn—forever dividing his life into before and after. He drove toward the Pima County Sheriff’s office in Catalina, a small town in the Sonoran Desert just twelve miles north of Tucson. Through the speakers, Alabama sang You’ve Got the Touch. He hummed along.

He was working a domestic violence case with Officer Alison Finney, his partner for nearly seven years. They’d made the arrest—their collar was sleeping off a binge in the back of the squad car. It was just after 10 p.m. As always, Finney wore spider earrings—tonight’s selection was a pair of black widows he hadn’t seen before.

“You know, Finn, you’d have better luck with men if you wore sunflowers in your earlobes.”

She laughed. “Any guy intimated by a couple of 14-carat web spinners isn’t man enough for me.”

He never missed an opportunity to tease her. “Good thing you like being single.”

The radio released some static.

Radhauser turned off the CD.

Dispatch announced an automobile accident on Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove Road exit. Radhauser and Finney were too far east to respond.

Her car phone rang. She answered, listened for a few seconds. “Copy that. I’ll get him there.” Finney hung up, then placed the phone back into the charger mounted beneath the dashboard.

“Copy what?” he said. “Get who where?”

She eyed him. “Pull over. I need to drive now.”

His grip on the steering wheel tightened. “What the hell for?”

Finney turned on the flashing lights. “Trust me and do what I ask.”

The unusual snap in her voice raised a bubble of anxiety in his chest. He pulled over and parked the patrol car on the shoulder of Sunrise Road.

She slipped out of the passenger seat and stood by the door waiting for him.

He jogged around the back of the cruiser.

Finney pushed him into the passenger seat. As if he was a child, she ordered him to fasten his seatbelt, then closed the car door and headed around the vehicle to get behind the wheel.

“Are you planning to tell me what’s going on?” he asked once she’d settled into the driver’s seat.

She opened her mouth, then closed it. Her unblinking eyes never wavered from his. “Your wife and son have been taken by ambulance to Tucson Medical Center.”

• • •

Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count.

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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Available now: In the Dark by Becca Fox

Becca Fox



(99c through 21 January)
How far would you go to save your family?

Movies and books have made being a monster sound cool.

Lindsay can’t wear silver jewelry or get drunk with her friends, but hey, she sprouts fur and fangs during the full moon. Totally rad, right? Not. Forget about exploring the beast within, Lindsay just wants to graduate from nursing school. When a stroll in the park ends with her and her little brother being surrounded by masked goons who want to sell them overseas, Lindsay has no choice but to change.

Despite her best efforts, these kidnappers know how to handle a werewolf inexperienced in hand-to-paw combat. She regains consciousness hours after the scuffle to find her brother gone. In a panic, she turns to the only werewolf she knows: Wayne, Mr. Werewolf Pride, the guy Lindsay rejected none-too-kindly several years ago. Being the forgiving kind of guy he is, Wayne agrees to help. . .so long as Lindsay joins his pack. Living among others of her kind is the last thing Lindsay wants, but for her brother’s sake, she bites her tongue and agrees.

Lindsay learns a few things while traveling through Europe in search of her brother. One: Being a werewolf can be pretty badass when you know how to use your abilities. Two: Being a freak isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by other freaks. And three: She might have misjudged Wayne.

When she and Wayne stumble onto the mastermind behind the kidnapping, this werewolf mafia king decides they know too much. Lindsay and Wayne should get out of dodge but, they know that unless this man is stopped, innocent people will die.

• • •

“Are you okay? Talk to me! I can’t see you.”

She lowered her hand, wrestling with panic and anger. He’s barely thirteen. Who could’ve done this to him? Why was he targeted? She immediately thought of her father. Has he made any enemies?

The thirteen-year-old stumbled over something and fell. “Oof!”

Surprise jolted Lindsay out of her thoughts. “Kyle?”

“I’m okay, I’m okay. I think. . .Holy crap! Lindsay, there’s somebody else in here.”

Lindsay nodded grimly to herself. I know.

“I don’t remember there being anyone else with us when they came.” He gasped in alarm. “Brody! Brody was with us. Do you think they took him, too?”

Lindsay remembered that first swing of the bat and the shriek of the Yellow Lab. She shuddered. They would never see that dog again. “I think he would’ve woken us up earlier if they had.”

“Oh, right.” He paused. “Um. . .”

“What? What is it?”

He sounded uncomfortable. “Well. . .I know it’s a guy. . .”

She laughed, but stopped when pain stabbed at her ribs.

Kyle’s hesitant footsteps came closer. “What’s going to happen to us?”

“They can’t keep us in here forever, munchkin.”

Kyle stumbled on her ankle. With a shout of triumph, he threw himself down by Lindsay and wrapped his arms around her.

“Gently,” she grunted.

“I thought you said you weren’t hurt.”

“I’m not. Not very badly, anyway.”

“Lindsay.” Kyle brushed a hand across her face. “Why’s your cheek wet?”

She wiped her skin and brought her fingers to her nose. Blood? It can’t be mine. I’d recognize the scent. . .I think. “It’s blood, but it’s not mine,” she told Kyle. “I don’t have any cuts on my face.”

“You must’ve been lying near someone who was bleeding. Maybe it was that guy I tripped over. No, wait, he wasn’t bleeding. . .”

“There must be a fourth hostage,” Lindsay concluded.

Kyle’s grip around her tightened. “I’m glad you came back.”

“I should’ve visited sooner. I’m sorry,” Lindsay said, giving his shoulder a squeeze.

Her brother shifted his weight, suddenly gruff. “That’s okay.”

“There were a bunch of things going on between me and Dad. It had nothing to do with you. I—”
Lindsay tensed. “Did you hear that?”


“Shush.” There was movement somewhere across the room.

“God, that hurts!” a man groaned. “What the—? Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

A mixture of emotions coursed through her at the sound of his voice: familiarity, longing, frustration, and exasperation.

“This doesn’t make any sense. I’m freakin’ broke, people!” The air around Kyle and Lindsay was disturbed as he walked right past where they sat, and ran into something solid. After grumbling more curses, he pounded what sounded like a cement wall. “I don’t have any money for you!”

“Before you start yelling again,” Lindsay said, causing him to yelp in alarm, “just know that you’re not the only one down here.”

“Don’t you have a sexy voice?” the man purred, recovering quickly from his scare. “What’s your name and what you in here for?”

“Shut up and back up, Avery, before I do something stupid,” Lindsay snapped.

“Oh, great,” Avery Mackenzie said, dropping the act. “I’ve finally been sent to hell, haven’t I? If this is the first stage, I’m never going to get through the rest.”

“Didn’t I tell you to shut up? What are you doing here?”

“I’m obviously being tortured by one of my other exes. All right, I’m a jerk! I’ve learned my lesson.” He started pounding the wall again. “Get me out of here before she eats me alive.”

“You know this guy?” Kyle asked.

“Unfortunately, I dated him for ten months,” Lindsay muttered.

“You still love me. They all do,” Avery said with an audible smirk in his voice. “Why I didn’t recognize your voice earlier I have no idea. Maybe it’s because you weren’t yelling at me or screaming under me.”

“I swear, Avery, you say another word and I’ll—”

“What’s he talking about, Linds?” Kyle squeaked. “Did he hurt you?”

“Repeatedly,” Avery said. “Not that she complained, of course.”

Lindsay kicked out with her good foot and made contact.

He fell with a grunt. “Often. She didn’t complain often.”

“Ignore him, Kyle. He’s just an idiot.”

Avery chuckled. “So you’re Kyle. Nice to meet you, kiddo. Your sister told me lots about you. Don’t be too hurt that she’s never mentioned me before. She swore I didn’t exist after she ended it.”

“You ended it,” Lindsay said. “Seriously, who in their right mind would pay a ransom for you?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, toots. I’m broke.”

Lindsay snorted. “Big surprise there. Don’t call me toots.”

“Whatever you say, sweetheart. All I know is that one minute I’m walking this really cute girl home after a lame party, and then I get hit on the back of the head. I woke up here.”

“We were attacked,” Kyle chimed in. “Three dudes in masks appeared out of nowhere and put a sack over my head. Lindsay tried to fight them, but I think they hurt her to keep her quiet.”

“What?” Avery said, concern changing his voice.

“I’m fine,” Lindsay said, irritably. You have no right to be worried about me.

A feminine moan sounded in the distance. “What’s. . .How. . .Where am I?”

Avery lit a match and held it up. “That’s what we’d all like to know.”

• • •

Becca Fox was that strange girl in high school who always seemed to have her nose in a book. She didn’t talk much because, more often than not, she was daydreaming about the different worlds in her books. Instead of doodling on the corners of her notes, she wrote scenes for her works in progress while the teacher lectured. She preferred quiet weekends at home with family or with Netflix over parties and large crowds.

Becca talks a bit more now, but not much else has changed. She still enjoys reading, writing, daydreaming, and watching TV, although, she’s gotten a lot better at socializing…over Twitter.

She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, a fat orange tabby cat, and a forever-puppy.

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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Available now: Misfortune of Vision by Christy Nicholas

Druid's Brooch series, #4
Christy Nicholas



(99c through 14 January)
Prophecy can be dangerous

In 12th century Ireland, Orlagh has been Seer to her king for forty years. He doesn’t want to hear her prophecies of war and destruction, and dismisses her efforts to warn him. Therefore, she is determined to fulfill her own quest: to find a worthy heir for her magical brooch.

In the course of events, she must pass judgment on a thief, escape a Norman war camp, and battle wits with a Fae lord. She receives some prophecy of her own and enlists the help of a grizzled old warrior, who happens to be a long–time friend.

• • •

January 5th, 1177AD
Dún Dá Leathghlas (Downpatrick), Ulster, Hibernia

Orlagh breathed deep of the fragrant smoke, concentrated on her magical brooch, and willed her Vision to begin.

Her chief’s voice broke in. “What do you See?”

“Patience, my chief. It has barely begun. Let me See something first.”

The incense wasn’t necessary for the Vision. They were part of the trappings, along with the wooden cross. It was all an attempt to defend against hostile cries of her magic as something demonic. Still, it helped her concentrate, at least when her chief didn’t interrupt.

The mists parted, and her chief stood on a barren desert, surrounded by nothing. He stood tall and proud, dark blond hair and multi–colored cloak whipping in the wind. She spoke as a new detail appeared. She was always careful to tell exactly what she saw, lest any detail be lost.

“You are standing in an empty field. A crimson river flows past your feet, roiling with bloody chunks.”

He grunted. “Bloody chunks of what? Pig? Cow? Those Ui Neill bastards?”

“How could I possibly tell? Do be silent for once. I see something on the horizon. A great host arrives. Hundreds, no thousands of men. They are well–equipped and carry a banner.”

“What’s on the banner? Describe it for me!”

“It is white, with three scarlet eagles, the same color as the river.”

She relished his silence as he digested that information. Willing herself to See more, she cast out beyond the plane. The soldiers didn’t end, but trailed off into the mists. Ravens swooped but didn’t harry the soldiers. Instead, they attacked her Thigerna, Chief Ruaidrí mac Con Ulad Mac Dunn Sléibhe, known as An Dunn Sléibhe, Chief of the túath, and her distant cousin.

A loud bang shattered her Vision and brought her back to the chief’s rooms in Dún Dá Leathghlas. Someone had slammed open the door and yelled. She shook her head to clear the incense fumes and looked through the smoke to see the intruder.

“My chief! I’d heard, but I didn’t wish to believe! Thank our dear Lord that I arrived in time to save you from this wicked hedge–witch!”

The man was of medium height with a tonsure, neatly dressed in clerical robes. This must be the new Bishop. She’d heard he was on the excitable side.

With a deep sigh, An Dunn Sléibhe said, “Bishop Malachi, your concern is touching. May I introduce Orlagh íngen Gobhann?”

The bishop’s eyes barely flicked in her direction, but he shuffled a few steps away. Confronting this ignorant arse was the last thing she should do at the moment, as much as she’d love to give him a piece of her mind. Who did he think he was, the pope in Rome?

She tried hard not to laugh. Fighting off the incipient headache that always came after a Vision, Orlagh trusted her chief to handle this. Anything she said was likely to add fuel to the zealot’s fire.

An Dunn Sléibhe stared at his bishop. “You’re a stranger here, so I’ll ignore your accusation. She’s kin and my trusted advisor, Bishop Malachi. I trust her with my life.”

“You know the scriptures almost as well as I do. ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’.”

Lovely. That’s just what she needed. A self–righteous churchman was always trouble.

An Dunn Sléibhe stood. He was shorter than the bishop, but much broader across the shoulders. “Cack. She’s a Seer and an honored advisor. We share a grandsire, so she’s within my dearbhfhine. For heaven’s sake, if she were male, she could be elected tánaiste and succeed me as An Dunn Sléibhe.”

“That’s as may be, my chief. It’s all very good and honorable to stand by your kin, but the fact remains—the woman is still a pagan hedge–witch.” The bishop paced.

Hedge–witch, indeed. God’s Bones, but her head pounded.

“Scorching and burning upon you! Orlagh is a good church woman, Bishop Malachi. She attends every evening for Mass. She uses a cross in her rituals, for heaven’s sake!”

The bishop looked down at her. “She may act like whatever saint she likes, she’s still a false prophet. God does not sanction prophecy.”

Orlagh had had enough. It was time to speak. “And what of your own predecessor, then?”

The pacing stopped, and he glared at her with burning eyes. “My predecessor?”

“Máel Máedóc predicted all the popes for almost a thousand years to come.”

The bishop gasped. “That’s not prophecy!”

Orlagh stood, crossing her arms. “Then what is it? Poetry? A love song? A bawdy ballad?”

“That’s not… the archbishop refuses to acknowledge such writing exists.”

As if simply wishing something away worked in this world.

An Dunn Sléibhe’s chair scraped against the flagstones as he rose. “Well, regardless of your internal politics, my seer has done well by me these last forty–five years. Her gift is a true blessing from God, according to several other bishops. I shall not dismiss her, nor burn her, nor even chide her for her help over the years. In fact, I believe she’s due a gift for her continued help and support. Now, if you will excuse me, I’ve work to do before the noon meal.”

The new bishop spluttered for several hilarious moments before he stomped out of the room. An Dunn Sléibhe rolled his eyes, and Orlagh chuckled as she gathered her implements. She heard another door slam and glanced out the window to see the bishop leaving the royal hillfort.

The last bishop assigned to Dún Dá Leathghlas had accepted her as a spiritual colleague, and the one before that had studiously ignored her influence with the chief. Orlagh must convince this one she represented no threat to his own power. That’s all most of them cared about. The prior Bishop had been a cut above the rest. He had a talent for prophecy himself, and it nearly got him excommunicated from his church. However, the old man wisely died before the decree could be made, and this new feisty pup now threw his weight around. Well, she refused to be bullied, and he’d best learn that and right quick.

With a nod to An Dunn Sléibhe, she left his rooms and walked down the curved hallway.

• • •

Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she's a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. She loves to draw and to create things. She says it's more of an obsession than a hobby. She likes looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or seeing a fragrant blossom or a dramatic seaside. She takes a picture or creates a piece of jewelry as her way of sharing this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus she writes. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

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