Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Available Now: A Wizard's Choice by Maya Tyler

The Magicals Series, #2
Maya Tyler



99c/p through Sunday 21 July
Dreams or duty?

Wizard apprentice Kurtis Warde doesn’t want to become a full-fledged wizard, but he feels obligated to his grandfather who raised him. Making The Choice, whether or not to become a wizard and join The Circle, doesn’t feel like a choice at all. Leaving The Circle would give Kurtis the freedom to follow his own dreams, and to pursue vampiress, Dee, who has always intrigued him. He knows there’s more to Dee than the icy being she portrays, but will she give him a chance to know the real her?

There is unrest in the magical world. Fairies, a magical being thought to be long extinct, still exist. And the long-time feud between wizards and fairies threatens everyone Kurtis cares about, including his life coach, Alina, who has quickly become a close friend. And perhaps more. He discovers his connection to the ancient beings The Annunaki, the ancestors of wizards and fairies, may be key to the future. The more he uncovers, the more questions he has.

Will Kurtis choose to follow his heart or risk sacrificing his own happiness for peace in the magical world?

• • •

Evanston, Illinois
Present Day

It was an unspoken rule, among the many rules, in our house; we didn’t speak of my father. I wanted to please my grandfather, make him proud of me, and erase the pain my father caused. I knew the story of how I came to live with Waldor. But I didn’t know my father—beyond a hazy memory which was likely a dream and not a real memory at all. It would be fair to say I had no knowledge of him, no clue where he lived, no idea if he was even alive or dead. I knew even less of my mother. Waldor was my only parent, possibly the only person around with answers, and I couldn’t ask him any of my questions.

Thick, dusty tomes covered the scarred wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. Kurtis Warde brushed off the thick layer of grime coating one book and opened it up. The musty smell of an old book assaulted his senses as the cover opened with a reluctant creak. He doubted these ancient texts would even be applicable to modern wizardry. The days of adding “toe of frog” to “hair of dog” were long gone. Yes, incantations and spells created magic, but it evolved with the times. Kurtis considered himself to be a modern wizard. He liked technology and all the possibilities and potential that came with it. The Circle kept peace among the supernaturals and guarded the fragile barrier between the magical and human worlds. But providing magical security services and conflict resolution wasn’t exactly a glamorous job.

“How are you doing, my boy?”

Kurtis sat up straight in his chair. “Waldor, you startled me.”

“Which book are you reading?”

“Uh.” Kurtis checked the cover of the book. The History of Spell Making.

Waldor chuckled. “You might find The History of Wizardry more interesting.” He settled down into the chair next to Kurtis’. “It shows the development of the practice over the last three thousand years or so. You might be surprised to learn our ancient predecessors were actually quite advanced.”

Kurtis responded with a non-committal shrug.

“Even in the very beginning, wizards used the world, and elements around them, to create magic. Finding their strange abilities frightening, humans decided to hunt and destroy them, rather than seek understanding. We still encounter ignorance, but today’s humans see the ‘wizard’ as more of a fairy tale than a truth.”

“If you’ve already covered the book, then I guess I don’t have to read it?” Kurtis scowled and closed the book in front of him.
“You haven’t read any of these books yet, have you?” Waldor pointed to a book with a gilded cover, turning his palm up before raising his hand. The book levitated above the table and opened. The words, written in golden script, rose from the page and circled the room.

Kurtis’ head swiveled from one side of the room to the other as the words lined up into neat rows, hanging in mid-air. “What’s going on, Waldor?” he demanded.

“Magic, my boy, magic.” With a wave of his hands, Waldor released the book and set it down on the table. “Reach out and touch the words.”

Kurtis’ eyes widened. He extended his hand toward the golden words. As soon as his fingertips made contact, the words surrounded him like the funnel of a tornado. Amazingly enough, he absorbed and comprehended the entire text in a matter of minutes. Once he finished reading, the words returned to the book. Kurtis found himself speechless, although hundreds of questions ran through his mind.

“Magic, my boy.” Waldor nodded, his eyes filled with wisdom. “The answer you seek is magic.”

“But what does this,” Kurtis gestured toward the books on the table. “have to do with my training?”

“You must understand where we come from to know where we are going.”

“I get the history part—”

“Then you must continue.” Waldor stood. “And, in the meantime, be patient.”

Kurtis stared at the little particles of dust floating in the air. This is impossible. I’m more behind now than ever, like my training is running in reverse. At this rate…How will I ever get ahead? Anger welled up inside of him. He pounded one fist on the table, disturbing the books. One slid from a precariously stacked pile and landed in front of him. He read the words The Modern Wizard from the new and, surprisingly, dust-free, cover. Now we’re talking. Kurtis flipped open the book. The white, crisp pages were empty. He riffled through the rest of the book and discovered the whole book was blank.

As if by magic, a gold-tipped pen appeared on the table.

Kurtis smiled. This is the lesson. He knew what to do now. One by one, he absorbed the information from each ancient tome.

• • •

Maya Tyler writes paranormal romance with a twist. She believes in a happily-ever-after, but she likes to make her heroine and hero work for it. Mystery and action propel her stories forward.

Writing a book was her lifelong dream, which came true with the publication of her debut Dream Hunter. The dream continues with the release of her second book A Vampire’s Tale.

Maya is a testament that happily-ever-after doesn’t just exist in fiction. She loves life with her husband and two young sons in their little house in the country. There’s never a dull moment in a house full of boys! Life is good and writing is the cream cheese icing on the cake. It’s never too late to follow your heart and make your own dreams come true. We live in an era of infinite possibility.

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Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Available Now: Sweet Redemption by Olivia Peters

Twist of Fate Series, #1
Olivia Peters



99c/p through Sunday 7 July

Breaking off my marriage of convenience to start a smoldering affair turns my world upside down. Trevor was supposed to be worth it. He nearly made me spontaneously combust in bed while showing me a love I never thought possible outside of it.

Except it was all a lie. Happily ever after with a man who betrayed me? Not a chance.


I planned to destroy Brooklyn because someone had to pay for the sins of her father. Instead, her touch healed everything that was broken inside me, and I fell hopelessly in love with my enemy’s daughter.

Brooklyn thinks she can end us, but I’m not spending another day without her by my side. Give up on love? Never, even if it kills me.

• • •


Always knowing I’d face off with Arch Winslow didn’t truly prepare me for a confrontation with him.

His gaze circles the sprawling, expensively decorated office, focusing on anything but me. He shows the power he wields through arrogant displays of wealth and authority and hatred boils in my gut until it threatens to consume me.

Everything from the Parnian desk to the van Gogh artwork to the Persian rugs announce to all who pass through the monochromatic corner office that Arch is an important man who can have the finer things in life. If this is how his office is decorated, I can only imagine his penthouse.

His body language screams confrontation, making it clear he never wanted to see me again. Yet here I am, a common plebeian in his sacred kingdom. “I’m not sure what you’re expecting from me.”

How can he look me in the eye and say that? “Restitution.”

Arch stands behind his imposing desk while I sit before it, a power play if I’ve ever experienced one. Despite our massive class difference, or perhaps because of it, he’s uneasy, at least a little bit, which inflates my confidence.

“It’s been years—” Arch starts.

“And I can see you’ve done a fine job moving on, sir. Unfortunately, my family hasn’t had that luxury.” He bristles at the interruption and weaker men likely cower in his presence while defaulting to saying, ‘yes boss.’

My eyes skirt to the photographs of Arch shaking hands with the who’s who of New York City and it’s clear he’s earned his place among the elite on the back of my family.

Arch sighs. “Look, I paid your mother a fair market price, which was more than reasonable given the circumstances.” A vein in his jaw tics, another hint that he isn’t over the betrayal from the past either.

“Fair market price?” Indignation has me half-rising to my feet and ready to pummel him senseless. Years of practice reining in my natural instincts allows me to breathe through the red haze consuming my vision. “Are you fucking kidding me right now?”

Arch makes a show of checking his Patek Philippe watch worth more than my house. “You showed up unannounced, and I made time for you, son, despite not having any to spare.”

My teeth grit against the familiarity of the endearment. When I was still knee-high to a grasshopper, Arch could have called me son, but not now. Not after he took my father away from me and then destroyed what was left of my broken family.

My eyes narrow, but Arch holds up a hand. “If you came for money, you won’t be leaving with any. If you came for an apology, remember it was your father who should have apologized to me. I’ve been more than generous, but my patience has run out.”

I’m not looking for a handout, only justice. Arch screwed my family over at our weakest and most vulnerable, an unforgivable act. As a child, I couldn’t do a damn thing. Now, though, I can make it right. He can make it right so my kid brother, Brandon, doesn’t repeat my childhood.

• • •

Olivia Peters is a Canadian girl who works as an executive ghostwriter by day and a romance novelist by night. While she has never mixed up her two roles, she sometimes thinks about it just to inject some fun into the boardroom.

She writes unapologetically about hot, dirty talking alpha men and the strong, sexy women who bring them to their knees. Her writing style is accessible with stories readers can relate to and characters they can get emotionally invested in.

Olivia’s erotic scenes will misfire your synapses. Don’t believe us? One of her friends forgot how to use her microwave after reading Olivia’s debut novel, Twist of Fate. Be warned that if you proceed, your Kindle may set on fire.

She is a country girl and spends as much time as possible at her lakeside cottage dreaming up her next story. When she’s not writing, she’s outside doing something active, cooking up a storm in her cluttered kitchen, or spending time with her husband, James, and their boxer, Buster.

Olivia is also a lifestyle blogger, sharing her passion for health and wellness with her followers. She is most active on Instagram, so head over and say hello—Olivia responds to every message she receives and would love to hear from you.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Available Now: Bittersweet Alliance by Kathleen Rowland

Donahue Cousins series, #3
Kathleen Rowland



99c/p thru Sunday, 30 June

Free on Kindle Unlimited
Will a snap decision change their lives forever?

Bizarre kidnappings stun the Big Island of Hawaii, pulling Danker Donahue back into the game and forcing him to partner with Jolene Kualoha, the woman who left him seven years ago when his DNA showed up in paternity lawsuit. The prejudice-motivated hate crimes are the wildest anyone has ever seen. Victims are being poisoned then released once the ransoms are paid, many losing their lives.

In the shadow of Jolene's success as a helicopter pilot, a troubled woman develops a fixation on Jolene and imitates her appearance. Matters turn dark when the copycat is shot dead. Was Jolene the target? Threats mount when she barely survives an accident after her brake cables are severed.

When these crimes threaten her sanity, Jolene is forced to trust the one person she thought she’d lost forever, Danker. Instantly, sparks fly between them, and as much as she wants to rekindle their relationship, she must protect her heart.

An old enemy, Seamus McGinn, breaks out of a maximum-security prison and invites Danker to a meet-up. Surprisingly, the kidnapper joins forces with McGinn along with his sick fans. McGinn trumpets his ‘murders by ice pick’, and it’s up to Danker to stop him. The whole island is on edge with a live feed from the maniac’s website.

In a stolen moment, Jolene shows him hope, and he makes a snap decision that will change their lives forever. Will he make it back to her?

• • •

Seven years since their breakup, Jolene Kualoha spotted Danker Donahue, ambling from the parking lot toward the store. She recognized him by his height and long gait. Wind from the north ruffled his hair and brought a bone-biting chill to her heart. Nuts, here he was, ducking his head to miss the bell overhead. It tinkled, and a strange twisting sensation hit her in the stomach.

This happened at the Kalua-Kona Food Emporium on a Sunday morning in July. She stared from where she stood near the avocados. His dangerous edge drew her in, but she turned her back to him. Her body reverberated like when her cell phone was on vibrate in her pocket. Stunned with minor electric shock, she froze. Maybe he wouldn’t see her. Wouldn’t recognize the back of her head or the once familiar shape of her ass.
Was someone waiting for him in the parking lot? Someone like Louella, the baby’s momma who’d summoned him for an immediate DNA test? For a split second, she craned her head around but didn’t see her with him.

She and Danker were a couple when the test confirmed his fatherhood. Her heart ached at the memory. Love hurt, but that wasn’t all. Loneliness hurt. Losing someone hurt. Decision-making hurt when you force yourself to do the right thing.

She’d pulled away, giving him space to work on his previous relationship for the sake of their child. The most shameful thing a woman can do is take parents away from a baby, and this began her year of stubborn steadfastness.

I did the breakup rituals. Got the dramatic haircut. Engraved a piece of jewelry he got me with a new message. Deleted the photos that made me cry.

To have been his woman was like living where the air flowered with jasmine, and the weather day after day was flawless, but the forecast was a hurricane.

Older didn’t mean wiser. All this time she’d dreaded running into him, sometimes dressing in expectation of it. If she did see him again, she wanted to look good. Today she looked like crap, but what did it matter? His reason for being on the Big Island had nothing to do with her, not in a personal way. Tomorrow they’d meet at the FBI field office to collaborate on a serial kidnapping case. She’d wear a sleeveless linen dress, open-toed pumps, and bring the accordion file full of notes and newspaper clippings she’d gathered.

The perpetrator targeted wealthy Hawaiians with social capital, the kind of people seen on television or featured in newspapers when they donated money to charities. The latest missing person, Pua Iona, owned Iona Hawaiian Rugs and was an acquaintance of hers. Not that they shared the same social strata, but they’d volunteered together at an artisans’ market to boost Hawaiian crafts. After Pua went missing and fit the criminal’s modus operandi, Mayor Billy Kim, frustrated with police progress, contacted Jolene’s former boss from California, FBI Agent Gary Guhleman, cowboyish in dress but wise in judgement.

Guhleman didn’t need to tell her Hawaiians resisted outside intrusions. “You know everyone,” he’d said. “Witnesses will share what they know.” The agent and his wife had retired, rather semi-retired, here in Kona. Soon after she and Guhleman had spoken, he called in Danker Donahue to consult. “You remember him, right?”

“Gosh, let me think.” She and Danker went hot and heavy after the Long Beach case that ended with the arrest of mobster Seamus McGinn.

Just then Danker spoke to someone with his rich Midwestern drawl, typical of California transplants. It was the first time she’d heard his voice in seven years after hearing it every day for ten months. She hardened like a turtle on a rock except for a slight turn of her head. He removed an earbud from his right ear and placed it in a protective case.

His longer dark hair, broad shoulders, and square jaw evoked an intense mix of emotions. A car crash of desire. There was nothing more frightening than desiring a freefall. It wasn’t just the sex. Her heart had burst with happiness making her believe love conquers all. It hadn’t.

In profile, the skin of his face was not as smooth. His craggier appearance reflected who he was, a loner with little concern about his well-being. The work he’d chosen reinforced his inclination toward secretive and wary, trusting few people.

She sighed at his beautiful elegance. So beautiful in a manly way, and he was once hers.

She’d let him go.

No, she’d pushed him away and cut all ties. The right thing to do was the hardest thing. She expected Danker to be different, not just older but still having an immensely handsome face. Worst case, with the risks he took, she expected he’d be dead. What she saw was what she’d hoped for. Alive. Succeeding as a top investigator called on by the FBI. She also hoped he’d found happiness with the child he’d fathered.

• • •

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, 12 June 2019

Available Now: Soil and Ceremony by Julia Byrd

Julia Byrd



99c/99p thru Sunday16 June

Free on Kindle Unlimited
A history of loss and a terrible stammer have led gravedigger Benjamin Hood to a life of isolation.

When a rash of untimely deaths sweeps through his small English village, he cannot stand by in silence. To uncover the truth about the lives lost, he takes up a long-neglected role of responsibility among the townspeople.

As Benjamin questions the victims' families, he finds that beautiful widow Juno Stephens has preceded him in each case. She makes no secret of her odd midnight ceremonies and dark powers of persuasion. The villagers are whispering about a woman bearing a lethal hex.

Is Juno the source of danger in the village, or a victim of it? Benjamin must resist her beguiling ways and decide if he can trust her...until another death sets his smoldering worries ablaze.

• • •

Autumn 1840, near Stanmore, England

It was easy to dig the grave for the infant boy. It should have been difficult, the hardest task on earth to accomplish. Instead, I scarcely perspired as I shoveled dirt from a tiny rectangle. The job would soon be done, and I would be no different for it. I should have wept. I should have torn the calluses from my palms. I should have bled into the dirt.

But after it was done, I stabbed my spade into the rich autumn soil of Maida Green and straightened. I would do it again next week, or perhaps the one after. Babes die too often for a gravedigger to weep and rend and bleed each time. Apart from his mother, who carried him for months beneath her heart, nobody really knew the lad.

My apprentice worked on the other side of the path, hacking at a recalcitrant Cornus alba, a red-barked dogwood. He was watched over by the hulking manor house on a hill beyond the cemetery walls, called Maida House. One wing of the house was over two hundred years old, but Maida Green Cemetery was young, with fifty acres occupied by only a few hundred permanent residents. Its acreage had been portioned away from the traditional Maida House property like a severed limb. On quiet days, working in the cemetery was like working in a verdant park. We cut open the ground for more shrubs than graves, and pillars of smoke more frequently rose from burning leaves than burning incense. No smoke ever rose from the chimneys of Maida House.

“T-Toth,” I said, pulling my gaze from the house’s dark windows. His Christian name, Everett, was too much for my traitorous tongue. “L-l-leave some of th-those s-stems.”

My thoughts were clear, or as clear as any man’s, I suppose, but my words were not. As a result, I mostly kept my lips sealed. But Everett did not mind my stammer, and neither did the dead.

“I will,” he said. “They’ll look right cheery this winter.”

“M-more of them along th-th-th—”

“The south wall, I know. I’ll go over there next.”

I did not like being interrupted, but I liked it better than becoming stuck in a repeating loop, words swirling like a leaf in an eddy. I grunted an acknowledgment and turned for the groundskeeper’s cottage. I wanted to put the shovel away and check the log for burials planned for the next week.


I stopped, turned, lifted my eyebrows.

Everett crouched over a patch of dirt, peering intently at something. “What used to grow here?”

The cemetery kept no secrets from me, but I never claimed to have memorized all the plantings. I walked back to him, then sank down on one knee in the grass. There was a little hole in the dirt, right beside the Cornus alba. “D-don’t know.”

“Something was dug out.”

I nodded.

He turned dark brown eyes on me. “Did you dig up anything?”

I shook my head.

Everett touched the crumbling edge of the excavation, then rubbed his fingers together, face tightening in concentration. He appeared much more interested in the hole than I was. When I had saved the money to buy my brother’s farm, Everett would become the head groundskeeper at Maida Green. It was a good thought, a consoling thought. He deserved it, and he cared as much about the place as I did. Maida Green had been conceived when the old London cemeteries reached their fill of occupants. In the city, the dead sifted up through the soil, gleaming skulls and unseemly scapulae sprouting in the grass. But in our village, a few hours’ ride northwest from the dome of St. Paul’s, we had plenty of space. The walls were high and the gate strong—to deter the body-snatchers and anatomists from coming to take our fresh corpses. Families paid well for eternal rest.

“Hmm. No scat or claw marks. Not a mole, then, nor a badger.” Everett smoothed dirt into the hole. “Probably nothing. I do wish that Horvath boy hadn’t died. Making me twitchy and mistrustful, and I’m not the only one.”

I rose and started back towards my cottage. The main gravel path had an offshoot, a narrow track that curved behind a group of young trees and led to the groundskeeper’s cottage. It was snug and dry, with a pump in the yard that delivered cold, sweet water. Sometimes, after the gates were locked at night, I imagined I slept in a manor house with my own manicured parkland spreading around me like a green quilt.

As I returned the shovel to its hook under the sloping lean-to on the side of the house, something made me pause. The cemetery’s huge shears, steel-bladed with leather-wrapped grips, hung in the wrong place. Everett could have put them away incorrectly. I could have done it myself. But neither of us had tied a black silk ribbon around the pivot or threaded onto the ribbon a tiny slip of paper. For a moment I just stared.

The ribbon came loose with a tug, and I unfolded the scrap of paper. On it was written two words in a flowing, feminine script.
Thank you.

I jerked my head up and looked around. Was she still nearby? Surely one of us would have noticed a woman wandering the premises. Women frequently entered the cemetery, visiting graves and leaving flowers. But they didn’t borrow my shears.

The silk ribbon snagged on my rough fingertips, and on some impulse, I lifted it to my nose. It smelled of…nothing. It was just a strip of fabric. Had I expected to catch a lingering whiff of rosewater? Lavender? I snorted at my own fancy and jammed the note and ribbon into a pocket.

• • •

Maya Tyler believes in happily ever afters and enjoys writing paranormal romances with an unexpected twist. She's been writing since 2010.

She was first published in August 2012 with her short story "Just For Tonight", part of the anthology With Love from Val and Tyne, published by Breathless Press.

She released her debut paranormal romance novella Dream Hunter, published by Just Ink Press, in December 2014.

As well as her own weekly blog Maya's Musings and monthly Newsletter, she is a regular contributor to The Nuthouse Scribblers blog and #SexySnippets.

She enjoys writing, drinking Starbucks French Roast coffee, and, especially, writing while drinking Starbucks French Roast coffee!

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Good Old Bones
by Julia Byrd

Cultures around the world honor their dead in myriad ways, but for me, there is nothing better than a good cemetery. Burial grounds have acquired a creepy reputation in folklore and movies—think Stephen King’s classic Pet Sematary, if you dare. However, consider the last time you actually visited a real cemetery. It was probably daytime, and you might have been sad, even distraught. You might have been reflective and grateful, alone or surrounded by family and friends. You were not haunted. (Probably.) I hope that your worries were diminished, as mine often are, by a glimpse of the awesome time scale of history.

Kensal Green Cemetery, London
My next novel, Soil and Ceremony, takes place partially in a cemetery, where our hero is a groundskeeper. If that sounds a bit grim, allow me to persuade you otherwise.

Cemeteries reflect our best selves: the desire to pay tribute to our dead, to remember. A loved one who was fully human and flawed can shed their complications on a marble headstone. We can ask our stonemason to carve Beloved Father, Brother, Husband or Cherished Aunt, Sister, Wife, Friend and display the truest, happiest facets of our lives.

I love the pared-down simplicity of a cemetery. Birth, death. In between, a complication we aren’t forced to examine. The earth itself, by providing soil and granite tombstones, offers us all a tiny slice of immortality.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans
In 19th century London, overcrowding and the temptation of profit led to the creation of the “Magnificent Seven,” private garden-style cemeteries. The earliest of these and my favorite, Kensal Green, was one of the inspirations for the fictional cemetery in Soil and Ceremony. Kensal Green has a non-consecrated section and a Dissenters Chapel that were in popular use by atheists, free thinkers, and others who didn’t conform to the Church of England.

The author in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York
The renowned cemeteries in New Orleans, Louisiana, are filled with mini-mansions to house the deceased because the original water table was so high at the foot of the Mississippi River that underground burial wasn’t feasible. You may occupy the shelf within for some time, but eventually you join your ancestors in the pit below, politely creating room for a fresher occupant.

The lovely, historic cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, is famous by its association with Washington Irving’s story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” It also hosts the mortal remains of Andrew Carnegie, a couple of Rockefellers, Brooke Astor, and three of Alexander Hamilton’s children. Sleepy Hollow and neighboring Tarrytown put on a wonderful, atmospheric public celebration in October every year, complete with lantern tours of the cemetery, reenactments of the Sleepy Hollow legend, and a lot of carved pumpkins.

A new personal favorite is the nondenominational Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois, where tens of thousands of people occupy a wooded, curving valley alongside the Illinois River. The community has been busy restoring their old Civil War monument to fallen soldiers, one of the first in the United States. This February, my family laid my father to rest in Springdale’s graceful mausoleum in a crypt of his own choosing. (“Feet toward the right!” he insisted, as we rolled our eyes.) It reassures me to have followed his wishes, as so many other families have done. Any of us can visit while we grieve, then look around and see the idyllic cemetery is a perfect type of place to spend an eternity.
Hanwell Cemetery, London

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Available Now: Rich and Gone by WF Ranew

Red Farlow Mysteries, #1
WF Ranew


Free on Kindle Unlimited
PI Red Farlow is on the hunt to find $300 million a Florida insurance executive has bilked out of family and friends.

Woody Cunningham stashed the money in safe havens around the world before disappearing. Has he been done in by one of his enemies? Or did he skip town with his girlfriend to live off the ill-gotten wealth? If that’s the case, where is he?

Farlow must quickly learn how and why people hide their money in offshore accounts if he's to find out what happened to Cunningham.

When a tough guy from Farlow's past resurfaces, wanting to settle an old score, Farlow discovers he also has links to the missing man. Clues lead him across Georgia and Florida, and Europe, to find the answers.

Is Woody Cunningham dead, or just rich and gone?

• • •

We stopped and got out of our cars. Water oak leaves scattered over the ground. A gentle breeze rustled the fennel, sending its pungent odor into the air. I remembered yanking up the fennel weed from days spent on my uncle’s farm. If the cows ate it, which they rarely did, their milk would taste sour. This day, sunny and mild with fall in the air, made me imagine stomping around the fields with a shotgun.
"We received a missing person’s report on two people who were headed up here last Friday night," Tom said as we huddled near the gate. “No one has seen them since. We also got a disturbance call in the vicinity of where they visited in town.”

Tom kicked some rocks. “One caller mentioned Cunningham and a lady traveling with him. She’s Wanda Ramirez. Then we heard from his company. He didn’t show up at his office on Monday, Tuesday, or today. He missed a big meeting with shareholders yesterday morning.”

“Anything on the disturbance?” I asked.

“We sent someone over there to check into it. They found nothing out of the ordinary. We confirmed it was at the home of Wanda’s mother, a Mrs. Gonzalez.”

Tom waved to a deputy, who ambled over. “Willis, this is Red Farlow, a private investigator. We’ve known each other for a few years.” Willis nodded and shook my hand.

“Tell us about the car,” the sheriff said.

"Hit’s a Mer-say-deez Benz.”

"Any signs of any other vehicle?”

"Nawsir. Nothing. We wus careful not to mess anything up. Just looked’s all. No sign of anybody. We did check out the car."

"ID in it?" I asked.

"Yessir. Car's registered to the Oceans South Life Assurance Company. We found an insurance card on the floorboard. Florida.” The deputy held up both documents.

"Who is he?" Tom asked.

Willis squinted as he stared at the card. "Name is Woodrow Cunningham of an Ortega Boulevard address down in Jacksonville," he said.

“Sure confirms the missing person’s name,” Tom said. He wrinkled his brow and looked at me. “Thoughts?”

"Yep. Two things. Old South, deep pockets, well-heeled,” I told them. “Ortega is a chunk of prime real estate, juts out along the St. Johns River, and upon which sits one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Duval County. No, the wealthiest."

“And the other?”

“Cunningham’s wife is my client.”

Tom nodded. “Quite a coincidence. I want to hear more about it. It appears this was the couple’s last stop. Given what we have or don’t have here, I’m calling in the state crime scene analysts. No telling what those guys can turn up.”

It's never too early to assume the worst.

“Do we know anything else about the Wanda woman yet?” I asked.

“Only that she and Cunningham stopped in Badenville to visit her mother,” Tom said. “I’ll talk with Mrs. Gonzalez when we leave here.”

We straddled barbed wire in a low-slung section of the fence and tramped toward the cabin pitched above the languid, black-water river, stained dark by tannins of vegetation. Along its banks, the sugar loaf knees of cypress trees rose up out of the water. An idyllic spot, if you loved pines, mossy oaks, solitude, and an occasional water moccasin basking on a stump. Lord, it was quiet out here. A quiet broken only by the gently moving stream, birds chirping, and fish jumping. In the distance, a mourning dove sang its song of lamentation.

The dark brown chink-log cabin looked rustic enough. Upon closer inspection, modern accouterments stood out. A roof-mounted satellite dish turned up to the southwestern sky, and a surveillance camera pointed in our direction. A deck had been added at some point and wrapped around the original structure. One section, with a hot tub, hammock, and rocking chairs, extended over the riverbank.

Cunningham owned an expensive collection of shotguns for his frequent hunting trips on the property. Had he kept them in this house? Probably not. He was an insurance executive after all.

The car grabbed my attention. A relatively new, big, executive model Mercedes-Benz S class 550. Its steel-gray exterior complemented dark-blue leather seats. There was no better ride for Cunningham than this German-made automobile, which conveyed luxury and smooth driving—the man’s castle on wheels.

I stopped short of going any closer to the structure so as not to disturb any possible evidence. There were footprints of more than one person in the sandy soil around the car and the cabin’s front porch.

At this point, calls to Tom and me indicated people close to Cunningham thought something amiss. One thing for sure, a man had disappeared, and possibly a woman, with no indication what happened to them or where their bodies might be.

I gazed over at the bank and watched the river winding downstream. Possibly a stretch, but a river search could be in order. I had to remind myself of my unofficial status. All this together posed a mystery. The kind you do not usually get in rural South Georgia.

Whatever happened to Cunningham on that fall evening differed little from the fate of a lot of people who disappear. Such events raise a lot of questions and concerns. Where did Cunningham go? How did he leave the place, assuming he arrived there as the car’s presence indicated? A planned vanishing act or murder? Did he flee the country after socking away millions of dollars in the Caymans? Or did an enemy orchestrate a plot to get him out of the way? Finally, was he alive or dead?

Soon enough, some of the answers unfolded, leaving ample room for even more speculation, and revealing more about Wanda, too.

Crime scenes take time to evaluate and analyze for evidence. As I’d done my share of waiting in my years as a law officer, there was no need for me to remain at the site. Before returning to Badenville, I spoke with Tom, and we agreed to meet at Mrs. Gonzalez’ home in an hour. He gave me her address.

It wouldn’t take long for word to get around Cunningham had disappeared. Some luck, Gloria’s call, and my good friend Tom Weltner allowed me to stumble onto this early. Of course, a missing person often hasn’t gone missing at all. His family or friends just don't know where he went. Considering it had been only five days, the sheriff and others assumed he might show up in the next forty-eight to seventy-two hours. He didn't.

Driving away, the cabin receded in my rearview mirror. Someone had left on the porch light.

• • •

W.F. Ranew is a former newspaper reporter, editor, and communication executive. He started his journalism career covering sports, police, and city council meetings at his hometown newspaper, The Quitman Free Press. He also worked as a reporter and editor for several regional dailies: The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, The Florida Times-Union, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ranew has written two previous novels: Schoolhouse Man and Candyman’s Sorrow.

He lives with his wife in Atlanta and St. Simons Island, Ga.

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Available Now: The Illusions in Between by JM Robison

The Last Wizard Series, #3
JM Robsion



Free on Kindle Unlimited
Still hunted by the church, Zadicayn has remained in hiding with his small family for seven years. But rumors of his location finally reach the Illuminati, a secret underground society of Black Magicians.

Wanting his magic for themselves, the Illuminati lure Zadicayn to Rome where the last wizard is forced to fight, not only for his life, but for his family, his magic, and for the world. Because his next death will be his last.

• • •

Rome, Italy
1 February 1848
Pope Pius IX

The soul is a cavern, much larger than the body containing it. This cavern fills with memories, thoughts, feelings, decisions, and dreams until you are so full of it that surely it bleeds out of your pores and everyone who lays eyes on you while you stand upon the balcony above Saint Peter’s Square can see it. I’m so full of it all that it covers my robes in a blinding white.

The throng below denies seeing it because the head of God’s holy church does not bow to threats and is not easily swept into coercion. Both of those fill my cavern wall-to-wall, so I can’t even feel the love I express to the people below me with my smile and wave of my hand.

I pass through the curtains and enter the warmth of my chambers. Silly how the door to my incarceration is made of heavy red silk. If I had magic, I’d sprout wings and fly out of here like Icarus, even knowing what fate befell him.

But magic is why I’m a prisoner to the Vatican.

I sit at my table, hand shaking as I reach for my hot tea. I cup it in both hands, hoping the heat will soften the shake, though it’s not from the February chill. My recent plight has called to question many things which a devout, sober, Catholic mind would never have questioned. But my mind is not sober. It’s drunk on fear and desperation, the weight of which has deepened the cavern of my soul to reach new depths, new questions. Like, the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, that future popes ought never to come to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization…damning thoughts for a pope of the Catholic Church.

Me. Damning me.

I flinch when the door opens. I spill hot tea over white knuckles. Carlo Vizzardelli enters.

I made him cardinal in January. Hard to turn the position down to a man who was awarded the apostolic protonotary and became the consultant to the Sacred Congregation for Bishops. Three days after I gave him the red beret, he wasted no time outlining his position in the Illuminati and flexing the control over his demon.

It took ten minutes for me to go from Pope Pius IX of the Roman Catholic Church to Slave of the Illuminati. I’d always heard rumors about them, but never that they called themselves Black Magicians and commanded demons from hell to perform wizardry for them. Or threaten me into doing what they want. Which was to rule Rome from behind me.

The same day as my prayer to the Holy Father for rescue, I received my monthly report from Valemorren, England, concerning the status of the wizard they’ve been unable to capture again. I can’t decide if God wanted to double my worries or laugh at my troubles.

“Ready?” Carlo barks.

I nod and sip my tea. He must see the tremor in my hands.

He sits opposite me, laying a fresh sheet of paper and inkwell on the scatter of documents on the table. The other cardinals must see Carlo as terribly ambitious to meet with me one-on-one so frequently. But that oddity is pushed aside when compared to Carlo’s many other ambitions prior to his arrival to me. I see his own cavernous soul through his eyes. Now that I know him, I see the many tunnels and depths he’s bored to fit all his greed, lust, and hate. I don’t know why I was blind to it until after I knew him.

He’s talking while he writes, but I don’t listen. I set my tea cup aside and nod when he looks up for my approval. It doesn’t matter what he writes. I’m going to sign it, whether or not I agree. If I don’t sign, he’ll drag me out to the Belvedere Courtyard where he’ll summon his demon and threaten to rip out my tongue, tear out my eyes, something to cause permanent damage to me while still leaving me alive. His threats are good enough; they keep me doing what he wants. Lord give me strength to resist and not care about any mortal maladies he may cause to fall upon me.

I look at the table, at the documents scattered below the one Carlo writes on. A chunk of Valemorren’s report glares up from the bottom…Ashdowns continue to deny having any contact with their daughter, though we have our suspicions they get into the mountain at least monthly th…Zadicayn must have a secondary way out, as we constantly watch the only entrance we know of, and we have it on good report he appears in Bristol every month



“Have you heard of a Fae Wizard?”

Carlo sets his quill down and leans back in his seat, his short, pointed beard aligned with the center of his body. “I have. What prompts the question?”

I can’t say what prompts the question, only that a damning idea blossoms in my chest because I too, have dug tunnels and depths in my soul searching for the gem which will free me from this man, and I found…this. “There’s a Fae Wizard in Valemorren, England.”

His eyes light up. Every pontiff has heard at least the title of Fae Wizard. But because the pope before me actually had to deal with one six years ago–who was never caught–the task fell on me. I’m familiar with Fae Wizards, and because of Carlo, I’m familiar with the envy Black Magicians have had of the wizards since antiquity.

The light in his eyes darken. He sees my intent to get him out of Rome. He leans forward. The malice he invites into the room prickles heat beneath my zucchetto. “Prove it.”

I’m anxious to divert his gaze off me. I tip my tea off the table without care as I dig through the papers until I unearth the one which has, finally, diverted his gaze.

He snatches it out of my hand. His eyes bump side to side as he scans the entire page. Though when he puts it down, he’s grinning, and I know he’s read every word.

“You tempt, Pius. That’s not a Godly trait you should have.”

I shrug. My heart beats in my throat. If I open my mouth, he’s going to hear a rapid thud.

He looks at the paper again. Black Magicians borrow a demon from Satan, and that demon performs requests for the magician. Since the demons are invisible to everyone but the magician, everyone thinks these performances are magic. Fae Wizards follow a different set of rules. I don’t quite understand the depth myself, but I know they use real magic and it comes from a different entity. And Black Magicians want the same thing.

He folds the report and tucks it into his robes. He stands. He’s lost most of his hostility, replaced by a greedy aura. “I know you’re doing this to get me out of here, Pius, but don’t think you won’t be watched in my absence. I will know if you do something to betray me, and you will suffer the consequences.”

I clasp my hands on the table and nod. Carlo sweeps out of my chambers like he’s already missed the train, leaving his unfinished document on the table.

I slam my eyes immediately in prayer. Dominus vobiscum, Fae Wizard. Defeat Carlo and free me from the Illuminati.

• • •

Born in small town Bennington, Idaho, J.M. wanted to be just like her big, story writer sister. Big sister paints now, but that initial role model was all the springboard J.M. needed to fearlessly leap into writing the novels of her heart. Getting around the world as a soldier has helped broaden J.M.'s views on cultures and personalities, and settling down as a Deputy Sheriff in Nevada for a time has helped her maintain all the fine intricacies humans are capable of which has helped define her characters into something realistic and believable. Without any prior claims to fame, J.M. is proud to showcase that hard work, even from rock bottom, DOES pay off.

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Available Now: The Change by CV Leigh

The Wolves of Faol Hall, #1
CV Leigh



Free on Kindle Limited
Kincaid pack Alpha, Alistair, has called his family back to their ancestral home in the Scottish Cairngorms. His wife, Megan, is losing control of her ability to shift and it has him rattled. When it comes to light that Nathan Trevell, Megan's ex and the lycanthrope who turned her, has travelled from the States and is in the UK, closing in on his family, Alistair is even more determined to keep everyone safe.

Nathan isn't deterred by the Kincaid pack. He's in the UK for a very specific reason, a reason that threatens to turn the lives of the Kincaids upside down - and possibly endanger them.

Being cooped up together in Faol Hall only serves to highlight the differences between the Kincaids, and fighting soon breaks out. Can they put aside their issues and present a united front, before it's too late?

• • •

Faol Hall, Cairngorms

Alistair Kincaid watched helplessly as his wife was taken over by the beast that lurked beneath her skin. She trembled in his arms, her teeth chattering, eyes rolling back until the dark green he longed to gaze into had been replaced by pure white. Her mouth relaxed and opened, her canines elongated and tapered into a sharp point.

“Shit. Hold on, Megan.” He rocked her back and forth, smoothing his hand down her long, brunette hair, still damp from where she’d been in the shower. Strands clung to her face and arms. Sweat beaded on her forehead. She clawed at his bare arms, leaving long scratches.

He looked around the large bathroom, desperately searching for some way to help her. The shower head still spewed into the cubicle. Water splattered against the tiles, droplets raced down the glass screen. A green pouch sat on top of the medicine cabinet, taunting him. Megan needed the drugs inside it, but she needed him to hold her steady as well.

“Jacob!” He could only pray his brother hadn’t gone for a run. “Shit… it’s okay, Megan, it’s okay… I’m here.” He stumbled over the words, each one catching in his throat.

“N-n-n…” A sound, nothing more, tumbled from her lips. “Nay-n-n-nay…” She repeated it over and over again. Coarse, dark brown hairs began to push through the smooth skin of her arms. She released an agonising cry that tore through him, leaving his heart in tattered shreds.

“Jake!” he called again.

“I’m here.” His younger brother filled the doorway, as wide as he was tall; a wall of pure muscle and brute strength. “Fuck.”
Megan’s bones cracked. Bile rose in Alistair’s throat. “Get the sedative,” he said, nodding at the cabinet.

Jacob pulled the little bag down, along with the amber pill bottles that had been stored next to it. A bottle snapped open, and tiny tablets spiralled towards the drain. “Fuck, I’m sorry.” Jacob fumbled with the bag’s zip.

“Just get the damn drugs,” Alistair snapped, spittle landing on his bottom lip. Sweat dripped down his brow. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold her–how much longer it would be before she was taken over completely, lost to him.

Jacob found the syringe. He attached a needle, then plunged it into a vial and withdrew the clear liquid. He knelt beside his brother and grabbed Megan’s naked leg, then tugged it towards him. After sitting on her ankle to stop her from wrestling away from him, he stabbed the needle into the thick muscle of her thigh.

The animalistic growl Megan released was enough to curdle blood, ripping from her throat and filling Alistair with dread. Her eyes were wide, the usually-green irises now burning chartreuse, flecked with gold and amber. She grunted and groaned, panted for breath. “F-fuck… y-you…” Her voice was low and gruff, cracked by the venom coursing through her veins. Her sights fixed on Jacob, watching his every movement.

Jacob stood, syringe in hand.

• • •

Originally from the Nottingham/Lincoln borders, C.V. Leigh now lives in Somerset with her family and pets. She comes from a long line of natural witches, and spent her childhood learning to read tea leaves from her grandmother and Tarot from her mother, so it's no surprise that she has a love for the fantastical and paranormal.

When she's not creating new worlds, C.V. enjoys reading with a hot cup of tea, or exploring the beautiful countryside that Somerset has to offer.

C.V. Leigh's favourite authors include Kelley Armstrong, George R.R. Martin, Douglas Adams, Grant Naylor, Terry Pratchett, and Roald Dahl.

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Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Available Now: Silent Mayhem by Sue Coletta

The Mayhem Series, #3
Sue Coletta



FREE on Kindle Unlimited

(99c through Sunday 28 April)
Some things in life defy comprehension, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Or deadly.

When a familiar crow drops a cryptic scroll at Shawnee Daniels’ feet, she’s compelled to open it, even though everything in her power warns her not to. Mr. Mayhem—the most prolific serial killer the North Shore has ever known—claims her life is in danger. He “claims” he wants to help her, but just last year he threatened to murder everyone she loves.

While Mayhem taunts her with oddly-placed feathers, like The Creator left at his crime scenes, an interstate killing spree rocks Massachusetts and New Hampshire. A madman is decapitating men and women, dumping their headless corpses on two area beaches. But what Shawnee soon uncovers shatters all she’s ever known, her memories shredded, the whispers of the past in shambles on the ground.

Can she find the strength to move forward, or will the truth destroy her?

• • •


“As you take your final breath, let the tears rain down from the heavens, a silent mayhem whispering the sins of the past.” In the bunker, an ornate lair several feet below ground, Mr. Mayhem leaned toward Mary Rowlandson’s face, her bloody nose an inch away from his. Gazing into her watery eyes, he listed his head to one side. “Will you scream for me? Oh, how I miss the sound of raw emotion.”

She screeched, “Why are you doing this?”

“You don’t know?” He jerked away from her, laying splayed gloved-fingers to his chest. “My apologies. I was under the impression that you’d been fully informed.” His gaze fled over his shoulder to Chayton, his protégé. “Is there some reason you withheld the truth from Ms. Rowlandson?”

Chayton bowed his head, staring at the concrete floor.

“By doing so, you’ve missed the mark, my dear boy. Look at me.” He waited for the young executioner to look up. “This message is important. She needs to know…to understand…she must feel her shame.”

With an intent stare into Chayton’s eyes, he strode toward him. “Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart…”

“It knows,” replied Chayton.

“Indeed, it does.”

He gave a knowing nod, and young Chayton swung the sword.

In one swift motion, Mayhem snagged a fistful of Ms. Rowlandson’s fair hair before her decapitated body crumpled to the concrete. Raising the severed head toward the dome ceiling, he proclaimed, “With this one brave act, the tears shall fall. Your reign has begun, my son. Make us proud.”

• • •

Sue Coletta is a Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Grafton County Series and the Mayhem Series, which won the Best Mystery/Thriller/Heist Award and Readers’ Choice Award in Mystery/Thriller. Sue also writes in the Kindle Worlds, where she hit #1 in Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense. Sue’s had short stories and flash fiction published in Out of the Gutter Flash Fiction Offensive magazine and numerous anthologies, and InSinC Quarterly featured her forensic articles.

In 2017 & 2018, her Murder Blog won Feedspot’s Top 50 Crime Blog Award. She’s also the communications manager for Forensic Science and the Serial Killer Project, both groups founded by cold case expert, Detective Sergeant (Ret.) Joe Giacalone. As a way to help fellow crime writers, Sue created a team of crime experts (detectives, coroners, police captains, etc.) and founded #ACrimeChat on Twitter.

Sue lives in northern New Hampshire with her husband/best friend. When she’s not writing or reading, you might catch her feeding circus peanuts to her beloved pet crows, who live free.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Available Now: Missing Pieces by Susan Clayton-Goldner

Susan Clayton-Goldner



99c/p through Sunday 21 April
Lillianna Ferguson has spent the last twenty years pretending her father is dead. She moved to Oregon—far away from her childhood home in Delaware—changed her name from Emma to Lillianna and vowed never to go back.

When her brother, Greg, phones, begging her to come home to care for their father who has been diagnosed with a dangerous, aortic aneurysm, she is adamant in her refusal. When did he ever take care of her?

But Greg is equally stubborn in his arguments that she return, as the surgeon at Johns Hopkins won’t repair the aneurysm without first amputating their father’s infected leg.

Calvin Miller, a disabled WWII veteran, survived a grenade that killed his best friend. It took off most of his right hand and left him with osteomyelitis in his leg, a bone-destroying infection, that refuses to heal. His surgeon believes his only chance for survival is amputation. The irony that his body is about to experience another explosion does not escape Lilianna.

Calvin, who has fought more than fifty years to save this leg, is adamant he will die the same way he lived—with both legs. Greg believes, if anyone can convince their father to have the amputation, it will be Lillianna.

Will she leave her safe life and reenter the minefield of her childhood?

• • •

Williams, Oregon
Thursday, September 21, 1995

“You know he’s fought hard for more than fifty years to keep his leg.”

Lillianna Ferguson paced across the kitchen of her Oregon ranch house, stretching the coiled phone cord to its limits. But she couldn’t escape the slam of guilt her brother’s words brought. Their mother had told her about the way, against all the odds, her father had learned to walk again in the corridors of Valley Forge Military Hospital.

“Can’t you find someone else? A nurse or caregiver? Maybe the Veterans Administration can help.”

“Doctor Willingham claims he can’t fix the aneurysm without amputating. And the way it is now, Pop won’t agree to the surgery. With the size of that bubble, it’s just a matter of weeks before his aorta blows. The VA is paying his bills at Johns Hopkins. Come on, Em—”

“The name is Lillianna, Greg. It’s only been eighteen years since I changed it.” She sighed. Why couldn’t her brother or anyone in her extended family accept the fact she was no longer Emma Miller? That name was a constant reminder of everything she wanted to forget. “The VA has rehab facilities.”

“I checked out a couple, and they’re pretty depressing. Besides, they bring

back things. Things he’d rather forget. You’re his daughter, and he hasn’t seen you for years.”

A dose of guilt she refused to swallow. “Since when does he care if he—?”

“For crying out loud. Let it go. He’s an old man, and he needs you. He… He…” Greg’s voice broke.

Lillianna swallowed. Greg, though three years older, had always been the soft-hearted one, the caretaker, the boy who’d tightened her roller skates with a key he kept on a string around his neck.

“He what? He needs me to take care of him? Is that what you’re saying? Well, when did he ever take care of me?” Despite her attempts at control, her voice cracked, and she gripped the phone receiver in her sweaty hand. She glanced at the clock on the microwave. Her husband, Steve, would be back from feeding the horses soon and dinner was almost ready. She didn’t want to be in the middle of an argument with her brother when her husband returned.

“Hell… he didn’t take care of me either,” Greg finally admitted. “But he’s our father. And he’s been through a hell of a lot. He’s not the man you remember. Pop stopped drinking after Mom died. I’ve tried to put the past behind me and be there for him in spite of…”

She dragged her left hand through her hair and clutched the phone a little tighter with her right. “And I haven’t? Is that what you’re saying? Don’t you ever get sick and tired of seeing his side? Don’t you want to stand up and tell the truth about him for once?” She bit the inside of her cheek. Tears stung her eyes. Her brother was right. She hadn’t been there for their father. But that didn’t mean she had to start now.

“No,” Greg answered softly, then sighed. “I’m not even sure I understand what the truth is anymore. And even if I did, it doesn’t matter.”

“You’re a saint, all right. I acknowledge it. Shall I Federal Express you a halo?” She laughed bitterly.
“Forget the halo. Just tell me you’ll come. Agree to help me out, if not him. He’ll be in the hospital for weeks. I can’t take that much time away from the business. It’s my busiest season. Besides, this may be your last chance.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel guilty?”

“It’s a fact. Somebody has to convince him to have the amputation. I tried. He won’t listen to me. Please, Sis, help him see there’s no choice. His doctor isn’t the one to do it.”

“He’s a stubborn old fool,” Lillianna said, her voice almost a hiss. “What makes you think he’ll listen to me?”

“Because he really wants to see you. Whenever I talk with you on the phone, he questions me. How is she doing? Does she sound happy? Did she say anything about coming back home? If anyone can convince him, it’s you. Come on. I’ll pick you up at the airport in Baltimore. There’s a hotel right next to the hospital. I’ll even pay the bill, for God’s sake. I’ll be there on weekends to give you a break. Please. It would mean a lot to him. And to me.”

“I have a life, too, you know. Ranching is hard work. And I’m not sure Steve can manage twenty-six horses on his own. Besides, even if I don’t go into an office every day, I’ve got deadlines to meet.”

“I’ve thought about that. You can bring your laptop. And I can hook you up with a printer if you need one. Don’t let your writing be an excuse not to see him. If you do…” He paused, and his voice grew faint. “I’m afraid you might regret it once he’s gone.”

After agreeing she’d think about it and get back with him in the morning, they said their goodbyes and hung up. Lillianna stared vacantly out the window at a gray squirrel as it sifted through the needles, bark, and pine cones under the conifers. A late September sun lingered over the trees and left a bright shadow on the ceiling.

There was something about autumn that roused her affection and sadness—the way the pastures turned golden and the apples along the drive dropped to the ground in fermenting mounds. She wanted to talk to Steve, but already knew what he’d say. He’d tell her to go, her father wouldn’t be around forever, and someday she’d be sorry. And maybe he’d be right.

Without any warning, young Emma floated up inside her until she was back in Mrs. Ward’s first-grade classroom on the early June day they’d invited dads to their Father’s Day play.

• • •

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, 3 April 2019

Available Now: Bones by Ainsley Cole

Black Dove Security seies, #1
Ainsey Cole



99c/p through 7 April
FREE on Kindle Unlimited
Braedon “Bones” Roberts is used to getting his own way. As leader of Black Dove Security, he runs an efficient and often deadly team of operatives who specialize in keeping the rich and famous safe. There isn't a situation in the world he can’t tackle and come out on top of...until he meets Witty and smart Doctor Abigail Baker, the lead scientist who's tasked with discovering the cause of mass bleeding deaths in the Kenyan desert.

Abigail grinds on Bones’ nerves with her forthright honesty, but he can’t keep her out of his mind and his dirty fantasies, and before long, they're closing in on becoming more than colleagues in a dangerous realm.

When the local militia find out who Abigail is, the hunt is on, and the Black Dove Security team leap into action. Their primary goal is keeping Abigail on the move and away from the militia is going to be harder than they hoped.

Bones has a decision to make—keep Abigail in Kenya to find out what is causing the disease, or flee from the militia and protect her life.

Either way, he’s playing with fire, and at the center of it all, she's a woman he’d lay down his life for.

• • •

Inhaling, he closed the door, shutting off the sight of the women getting intimate. Following the hunkering man down the hallway of the hotel, he skipped a little, trying to keep up with him. “Hey, has Wolf told you anything?”


“Do you know where we’re going?” The man didn’t answer, and Bones frowned, stepping up next to him, waiting for the elevator. Reaper didn’t look at him. “Is everyone else getting the VIP pick-up, too?”


“Is it because I’m the boss?” Bones asked, chuckling, doing the belt up on his jeans.

Reaper turned his head, raising an eyebrow. “No, it’s because you’re the only one who won’t show up unless someone comes to get you.”

The doors to the elevator pinged and he stepped inside, leaving Bones on the landing.

“Not true. What about Queenie?” Bones stepped into the elevator, the doors slid closed behind them, and he looked at the big man.

“He’s already waiting in the car.”

Pushing his hands through his hair, Bones screwed his nose up. Damn the Greek for being on time for once.

The trip down the six floors was silent, the whir the only sound.

Heading out of the elevator, a dark Humvee waited at the front of the hotel for the pair.

It would be full of the rest of his team.

Ethan ‘Wolf’ Whitefeather.

Bastian ‘Apollo’ Phoenix.

Milo ‘Queenie’ Price.

They’d all be sitting in the vehicle, chuckling to each other, as he did the walk of shame. While they were all prone to their moments of passion with the fairer sex, Bones seemed to be the only one who hooked up with the wrong type of woman.

Usually, ones who liked to take off with his wallet.

Stepping out into the chilly air, he opened the door of the car.

Reaper took up his customary position in the front and Bones climbed into the back.


Shifting his gaze to the driver, he nodded to the blond. The man's blue eyes flashed with amusement in the rear-view mirror.


The Humvee started off, taking them away from the hotel and the two women Bones had been with. Pity. He had been enjoying himself.

“So, what’s the mission?” he asked, turning his attention to the man by his side.

Wolf turned his head. Dark chocolate brown eyes staring at him.

Wolf handed him a folder, close to the thickness of his little finger.

Taking the folder, Bones looked at the cover. “Waterford Bio Medical? Who the hell are they?”

“They’re a small medical research company out of London,” Wolf explained. “We have to take three doctors into a small village and bring them back out. Alive.”

“Why just three?” Opening the folder, Bones flipped through the contents.

Documents of incidence. Infection reports. Photos of the victims. Group bios.

“They will only be there to seek out the incident of infection and report back to the WHO if they deem it necessary.”

Bones flipped over the bio sheets, coming face to face with a pair of doe brown eyes. “Oh, hello there, beautiful.”

“Doctor Abigail Baker. She is the one who is assigned to be the leader of the group, and the woman you have to deal with.” Wolf took the file and placed it on his lap. “Try to keep it in your pants.”

Bones acted offended, screwing his nose up at the man beside him. “Hey. When I am working, I happen to be a very professional man.”

“It’s only when you’re not working, you become an animal,” Queenie quipped, looking around Wolf to his boss. “How many did you leave back there?”

Bones’ face heated, and Reaper held up his hand, two fingers wiggling in the air.

“Only two? Wow. Why not more?”

“I have one dick and one mouth, Queenie. I can only do so much.”

The whole car erupted in laughter. Once it had died down, Bones tipped his head back, looking up at the roof lining of the vehicle. “So, when do we leave?”


Bones had a feeling it would have been the case. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have come and gotten him. He would have been left to have fun with the women and called later in the day. “My things packed?”

“Of course. Apollo saw to it,” Wolf replied.

“Thanks, Baz,” Bones said, earning a wink from the driver. They were more than team-mates. They were adopted into the same family as kids. Bastian was the only one who had a key to his house, knew how he lived. He would have only had to walk in a couple of feet and picked up the bag from the last mission and walk out. Bones was like that.

Didn’t even like to live in his own house. “And the gear?”

“Reaper’s already seen to it. It’s all waiting at the base.”

“Good.” The scenery flashed by, the vehicle’s occupants falling silent. “So, where we off to?”

No-one answered, and Bones turned his head. “Wolf?”

The Native American by his side blinked, turning his head, lips pursing. “Kenya.”

The pit of Bones’ stomach rebelled, and he gripped the handle on the car door. The scar which ran from the middle of his forehead, down around his right eye, ending at the corner of his mouth—itched. Burning as memories flashed through his brain.

“How much are they paying?”


“Yes,” Bones replied through clenched teeth. They wanted him to go halfway across the world. To a place which brought back bad memories. There’d want to be fucking good compensation.

“One million.”

One million.

After paying for the trip and equipment, flights and other costs—each member would pocket $150,000. A few days in Kenya to make more than what most people could in a year? He could deal with that if he had to. He’d gone to hell and back for less.

“One million to take a group of doctors to Kenya and back?”


Bones’ eyebrows scrunched together as he looked out the window and the vehicle fell silent again.

Now he knew why Reaper hadn’t told him where they were going.

Everyone knew why Bones hated that country so much.

The scar on his face itched again, and he lifted his hand, rubbing at it.


One of the last places on earth he wanted to revisit.

But he had a company to run and a reputation to uphold. There wasn’t a place they wouldn’t go or a person they wouldn’t protect—for the right price.

Grinding his teeth together until his jaw ached, Bones’ day went from bad to worse.

He didn’t want to go to Africa.

• • •

Ainsley Cole lives in a tiny coal mining town in Australia. She lives with her soul-mate and the four little beings they made together. Writing since she was only 11, she has a few books under her belt under different names. In her spare time, (when not being a busy mummy) Ainsley likes to garden, play video games and marathon Marvel movies.

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