Archive for the ‘Adult Fiction’ Category

 

Watertight
E.J. Stevens
(Ivy Granger, #7)
Publication date: 2018
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy

Synopsis

When Torn is accused of murdering a local mermaid, Ivy Granger is plunged into the deep end of water fae politics.

With her psychic gifts and newfound wisp powers, locating Torn’s alibi should be simple. Too bad a deadly enemy with a score to settle is lurking in Harborsmouth’s darkest waters.

Ivy Granger might be in over her head. Even with the help of her kelpie king fiance, Ivy only has until the next high tide to prove Torn’s innocence. With the clock counting down and the bodies piling up, Ivy better hope she finds an alibi that’s watertight.

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Author E.J. Stevens

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the IVY GRANGER, PSYCHIC DETECTIVE urban fantasy series, the SPIRIT GUIDE young adult series, the HUNTERS’ GUILD urban fantasy series, and the WHITECHAPEL PARANORMAL SOCIETY Victorian Gothic horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Connect with E.J. on Twitter @EJStevensAuthor. For more, including a list of her books, freebies, and upcoming events visit www.EJStevensAuthor.com.

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Veritas
Quinn Coleridge
Publication date: July 13th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical

The ghosts are angry, thinking I’ve neglected them.
Do not forget us, they call out from the grave.
I won’t, I promise them. Upon my life, I won’t.

Being a demigoddess in 1892 Stonehenge, Colorado isn’t all one might suppose, especially when the dead are involved. Yet as Veritas of the Rocky Mountain sovereignty, it is Hester Grayson’s calling to help restless spirits cross over by bringing their killers to justice. Blind and pale as an albino, she dwells on the fringes of the nouveau riche, working with her telepathic beau Tom Craddock to catch the guilty.

When a young woman is brutally murdered, Hester and Tom are determined to solve the case as they have every other. But this one demands more. The killer wears many faces and wields greater magic than even Hester possesses. All sleuthing stops, however, when Tom is gravely wounded, and Hester is cast out of her parent’s mansion into the brutal squalor of an asylum.

At the mercy of an insane doctor, surrounded by agitated ghosts, Hester fights to maintain her own sanity by planning her escape and the downfall of her enemies. Can she achieve her goal and expose the madman who sent her to hell? Or will he continue his bloody reign in Stonehenge?

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~~~~~

Check out the Excerpt

My prayer for relief goes unanswered, and faces flash through my mind. Those I saw in my last vision, the one initiated when the doctor touched my skin. Men, women, old, young—they appear and blur a moment later, shifting into the next person. All of Faust’s victims are deep-branded inside me. They are angry, thinking I’ve neglected them.

Do not forget us, they call out from the grave. I won’t, I promise them. Upon my life, I won’t.

The ghosts tell me to find the Book and steal it. Escape the asylum and expose Faust to the world. Let him answer for every crime, they say, condemned by his own words. If only these spirits could be a bit more specific. How exactly do I escape to do their bidding? Have they any suggestions? But the dead only wail and cry for justice. Blasted ghosts always leave the finer points of the plan for me to figure out.

Further enraged by my hesitation, they cause me to burn hotter. All right, all right, I reply through my psyche. As you wish, I so promise. Truth vibrates through the Pit, and the dead finally set my body free. They have accepted my vow, for the moment, but might be less forgiving tomorrow if I don’t take action. I work for a very impatient crowd.

Most people belong to another in some capacity, as a daughter or son, a sister, spouse, or neighbor, but the inmates of this place have been forgotten. They have no one to speak for them, or to avenge their wrongs. And so I’m here, dumb and blind, to serve as the mouthpiece of the wretched, whether I like it or not. That brazen hussy Fate does love a paradox.

Ironically, serving the dead gives me a reason to live, to go on breathing each day. It answers Hamlet’s eternal question of whether to be or not to be with an affirmative. That is why I crawl about the Pit on my knees, searching for a palm-sized piece of metal. It has been hidden and used many times by the inmates before me. I find the broken iron strip and turn toward the northern wall. The rough surface is covered with spider webs and dirt, but something else as well.

Words.

Hundreds of them have been scratched into the crumbling stone with this strip of iron. I trace the curves and the straight lines of the letters, as I did with my alphabet stencils at home. Of sound mind, one inmate wrote, never insane. In another place, I find Hungry, God Sees, and Died Alone. I scrape the iron against rock. Over and over, until each letter is formed, perfect and smooth. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I blow the dust away from my masterpiece, my call to arms.

LEX TALIONIS

YOUR DAY OF RECKONING AWAITS, FAUST

 

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Breaking Bad: 14 Tales of Lawless Love
Publication date: July 11th 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

About Breaking Bad

Nice guys finish first, said no one ever. But we guarantee you’ll finish this collection filled with dark and dangerous alphas who obey no one, play by their own rules, and least of all allow anything to come between them and what they desire most. You’ll never look at thieves, hit men, bounty hunters or ex-cons the same way again. Break bad and our sexy-as-sin bad boys will steal your heart.

NOTE: These bad boys and girls may break hearts, but you’re guaranteed a happily ever after in every tale! No cliffhangers!

His to Possess by Theodora Taylor
What ruthless mafia prince Luca Ferraro wants, Luca Ferraro gets. And he won’t stop until he possess the daughter of his family’s biggest enemy. In. Every. Single. Way.

Star-Crossed by Koko Brown
Some people are born bad…again and again, and again

His Favorite by Eve Vaughn
With one taste, an addiction is born.

Notorious by Caitlin Daire
He says he’s not guilty, but he might be the death of me anyway…

Sleeping With The Enemy by LaQuette
When sleeping with the enemy, hate becomes their addiction, and love… a complicated distraction they can’t afford.

Indebted by Sharon C. Cooper
Even when he does good, he’s bad.

Bad Things, Good Killers by S.W.Frank
He thought he buried the past; but one woman won’t rest until he’s paid the debt for his sins.

Dangerously Theirs by A.M. Griffin
She thinks she can outsmart the law, but can she outrun the bounty hunters who want to claim more than the reward for her capture?

Hideout by Billy London
Rae can hide from everyone out for her blood but she can’t escape what she’s done.

Drive Her by Bridget Midway
There’s no honor among thieves and con artists, and no rest for the wicked, but can there be love?

His for the Taking by Nia K. Foxx
When the lines are blurred it’s hard to distinguish between the good, bad and predators.

Debt Collector’s Due by Shyla Colt
He’ll collect what he’s owed at any cost.

One Hit by Victoria H. Smith
He’s her new neighbor and she’s curious. She’s his new neighbor and well… he wants a taste.

Rectified by Xyla Turner
His lifestyle wasn’t fit for a queen and only one dead man stood between them.

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~~~~~

SNEAK PEEK:

STAR CROSSED by Koko Brown

“Don’t you have any decency?” he asked, lifting his gaze.

“I’m a pirate. Decency and modesty are distant memories. If they’d been instilled in me at all,” she scoffed. “Hard to find morality in a brothel.”
His gaze narrowed. “A brothel?”

“My mother was a gaggle of whores. I was one as well until I pledged my loyalty to Madame Shih.” She held out her hand and wiggled her fingers at him. “So you can rest assured you have nothing I have not seen before.”

He mulishly stood looking down at her, unyielding. Thinking she’d failed to sooth his ruffled feathers, she was mildly surprised when he unbuttoned his breeches. He slid the material down his legs, bending at the waist, giving her an enticing view of his back, the fluid cording of muscle evident even in the slanting shadows of the cabin. Lèsè bit the inside of her cheek. His large, powerful body was beautiful.

With irrepressible, flame-hot desire seeping into her veins, she second guessed her decision to shoot two hawks with one arrow. First and upmost, she wanted to gain his knowledge of foreign shipping routes, putting her one step closer to freedom.

As an added boon, his company would be a much needed distraction from the monotony of sea life, the loneliness of an empty bed. She didn’t need it to turn into a foolhardy venture which would be seen as treason. And she would not, she mused, shoving back her shoulders. After all she wasn’t some naïve virgin unaccustomed to a man’s company.

Body throbbing with awareness, she accepted his clothing. But not before she took a prolonged peek at the abnormally thick flesh between his legs. She lifted her gaze and caught him looking at her. She tried to diffuse the loss of oxygen in the room with an upward curl of her lips.

“Absolutely no sense of decorum,” he muttered, tan cheeks turning pink with embarrassment.

“No harm in looking,” she countered, pivoting on her bare feet. Chuckling, she padded across the room, his garments tucked under her arm. She opened the door then chucked them into the hall. As ordered, two buckets of hot water had been placed by the door.

Hoisting one of the steaming buckets into the air and then setting it on her head. Arms out stretched, crouching low, she pretended to walk a tight rope.

“I return bearing gifts,” she announced, a hint of playfulness coloring her tone.

Not exactly unbending, a shadow of a mile touched his lips.

Happy looked good on him. Delicious in fact. So delicious, she hungered for more of them.

With a dramatic flourish, she set the bowl in the washstand then went to retrieve the one she’d left in the hall. This one she set on the floor.

“This is nothing like the glorious soaking baths of Zhangzhou. Still, this should do the trick,” she reasoned, fingering her copper washing basin leaning against the wall. Resembling a sundial with a depth of exactly eight finger, the shallow pan scratched her yen for a bath.

“I may be a pirate but I like my luxuries,” she confessed. “I have clean linen rags, a couple of sponges from a trade with a fisherman and even a bar of soap from your fair England. I particularly like the lavender.” Unable to resist, she picked up one of the sleeves and sniffed. Feeling like she was talking to the wind, she glanced up.

He edged closer, practically towering over her. His eyes stole over the large basin like a man starving, and the pan had become a slow-roasted dungpo pork.

“Water’s warm?”

Seeing the fish on the hook, she nodded. “Not long from the coals.”

He didn’t say anything for the longest, but she imagined she could hear his smile.

“Wash rag and soap,” he finally requested.

With a smile, she handed him both. At the last minute he pulled his hand back.

“The catch?”

Lèsè opened her mouth to dissuade him of the notion but thought better of it. “I only require one thing—that I be allowed to watch.”

His gaze dropped to the washbasin and lingered. Again, a pregnant pause fell between them like a brick wall. “You may watch but not touch.”

“You’re no fun,” she pouted prettily yet not feeling the least bit put out. After all, he’d granted her a boon. Gloating, she spun about. Considering the bed held the most advantageous views, she ambled over to the day bed. With exaggerated purpose, she tucked her hands behind her head and crossed her feet at the ankles.

“Comfortable?” he groused.

“Quite,” she purred, digging her shoulder blades into the silk bedcovering.

“And the view is to your liking?”

“Far better than the bed,” she readily confessed. “As you Englishmen would say, “You cut a fine figure, Mr. Flynn. Very fine indeed.”

“Indecent—”

“Worse than a sailor on shore leave,” she smugly asserted.

“—immoral—”

“Never claimed to be a monk,” she countered with pride.

“—shameless—”

“My mother was a prostitute. The bar was set very low.”

“—corrupt—”

“I’ve seen too many pure souls starve and it’s not a pretty sight.”

“—licentious—”

Lèsè frowned. “I am not familiar with the word.”

“Lustful.” His eyes burned bright and it wasn’t anger.

“When I’m willing,” she pretended to look pensive as a yielding warmth flowed through. “It’s only with a select few. And you, Mr. Flynn, are definitively select.”

“Oh, joy. I live to be pleasing to my captive.”

His teasing jest restored her humor.

“Better I find you pleasing than distasteful.” She gave him an appreciative glance.

“It should rile me the way you eye me like a leg of succulent mutton,” he drawled. “And your openness is quite off putting…”

“But,” she coaxed. Interest piqued, Lèsè flipped onto her side.

He was obviously playing a game with her because he grinned as he changed the subject.

“You say the water is warm?”

“Right now, I wish it to be scalding,” she groused.

She lived for a good game of cat and mouse but only when she was the predator. Being the prey—particularly his prey—proved to be a discomforting, slippery slope especially when it played havoc with her insides.

Even when doing something as innocuous as simply filling the water basin with water, pleasure began to spread through her body. Or when he soaped his sponge, his thick strong fingers dripping with suds, her breath caught. And there was nothing she could do to stop it. She’d seen scores of men in various stages of undress. None of them—even lovers of her own choosing–made her body react like Christian Flynn.

Made by the gods. That’s what came to mind as she watched him begin his bath. Perfectly made, he’d been favored at birth. Every inch of him carved so beautifully, and so sinfully male she wanted to weep.

Her gaze devoured the lazy path of his hands. All that bare, beautiful alabaster skin and muscle covered in sudsy foam. Mouthwatering, she could taste every single bubble.

 

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Tales from Harborsmouth
E.J. Stevens
(Ivy Granger Psychic Detective, #0.5, #1.5, #2.5, #5.5)
Publication date: July 11th 2017
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Synopsis

In Tales from Harborsmouth, readers get the chance to delve deeper into the award-winning world of Ivy Granger.

Ivy Granger is a psychic detective with ties to Harborsmouth’s paranormal underworld. Too bad those ties tend to ensnare Ivy and her friend Jinx in the Machiavellian schemes of the city’s teeming population of bloodsucking vampires and psychotic faeries.

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QUICK SNEAK PEEKS:

It’s hard to pay the bills when you’re dead, but if you die in a city filled with faerie magic and have Ivy Granger on the case, you sure as Hell can settle your debts.
—Ivy Granger, Frostbite

A detective’s job is to take note of the little things, the small details that can break a case wide open, but having anthropomorphic snot treat you like you smelled worse than a troll fart could give a girl a complex.
—Ivy Granger, Frostbite

There was a serial killer in Harborsmouth with a penchant for murdering faeries. Happy freaking holidays.
—Ivy Granger, Blood and Mistletoe

If a faerie, a vampire, and a demon walk into a bar, you wait for the punch line. At Private Eye, when a faerie, a vampire, and a demon walk through the door, it’s just another day at the office.
—Ivy Granger, Blood and Mistletoe

I blew a stray lock of hair from my eyes while running a damp cloth over the bar. The raven black curl froze at the edge of my vision, ice crystals from my breath coating it like the dust of fractured diamonds. But within seconds the damp chunk of bangs thawed from the perpetual heat of the club. The heat was one of the many things that I despised about bartending at Club Nexus.
—The Ice Faerie Beryl, Club Nexus – Iced

Deviance is nothing if not full of variety and Puck had discovered how to capitalize on each and every one of our desires. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the imp was purposely late to our meetings to build the suspense, and empty my wallet.
—The Vampire Cyrus, Club Nexus – Dusted

It had been centuries since a human had piqued my interest, longer still since anyone had stirred feelings of lust and longing, but there was something unquestionably magnetic about the woman my eyes now frantically sought.
—Forneus, Club Nexus – Demonized

Of all the nightclubs, in all the cities, in all the world, the freakin’ demon had to walk into Club Nexus.
—Jinx, Club Nexus – Jinxed

I’d seen a lot in my nine lives, but nothing so strange as Ratfink’s Family Fun Palace and its tone-deaf taxidermied talent.
—Torn, Thrill on Joysen Hill

 

Author E.J. Stevens

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the IVY GRANGER, PSYCHIC DETECTIVE urban fantasy series, the SPIRIT GUIDE young adult series, the HUNTERS’ GUILD urban fantasy series, and the WHITECHAPEL PARANORMAL SOCIETY Victorian Gothic horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Connect with E.J. on Twitter @EJStevensAuthor. For more, including a list of her books, freebies, and upcoming events visit www.EJStevensAuthor.com.

Website / Goodreads / Facebok / Twitter

 

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Hearing Voices
Axel Cruise
(An Isaac Blaze Thriller)
Publication date: April 2nd 2017
Genres: Adult, Thriller

“You’re a dead man,” he yelled.
“That’s great. Now answer the question.”
–Isaac Blaze

Isaac Blaze.

A quick wit, zero allegiances, and every major government agency after him. He’s also got two voices in his head. Neither of which is particularly helpful. Or care to be.

But at least he’s never been caught.

Hell, he’s barely even come close.

So when finally a SWAT team does actually manage to take him in – and with such ease at that – they probably should’ve been asking themselves: why?

Too bad they didn’t.

A lot of people got killed.

Goodreads / Amazon

Q&A with author Axel Cruise

RG: How did you get into writing? Is it that classic story of long-time reader who decides to pick up a pen?
AC: To be honest, I’m a TV man. Always have been. Right from when I was a kid. I’d come home from school and just sit and watch.

RG: Your parents must have loved that.
AC: Ha! Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a great hobby in their eyes—or my homework-hungry teachers for that matter. I frequently got the (wags finger) “Watching TV won’t get you anywhere” speech.

RG: I think we’ve all been on the receiving end of that one. So did you have to sneak in your TV time?
AC: Well, luckily I was a quick kid. So whenever I got the speech, I’d just calmly wait for the list of supporting reasons to come to an end—square eyes, kills brain cells, doctors and lawyers don’t watch TV—and then I’d say, “But what if I want to make TV shows?”

RG: Oooh, good answer. That must’ve driven them crazy!
AC: Yeah, you bet. But then again, I never got more than a derisory headshake. So I was pretty confident I was on to something.

RG: (Nodding whilst holding a copy of Hearing Voices) Seems you were.
AC: (Smirks) Well, all right, it was a little more than that. I mean, you have to understand, I wouldn’t just be sitting there. It wasn’t a passive activity for me. It was a whole experience. I’d really see myself in the show. As one of the characters.

RG: Any TV shows in particular?

AC: Not really. I watched pretty much everything. Anime, sit-coms, superheroes—I loved them all. Even stuff I was a little too young to understand. Like for example Seinfeld or Married with Children, when I was only five or six.

RG: OK, so it was through copious watching that you subconsciously picked up the fundamentals of story production?
AC: Yeah. Without knowing it, I was absorbing the dialogue, learning about story arcs, understanding how to pace your plot—all of it.

RG: I think Ben Stiller had a similar theory for himself. He wasn’t just watching TV, he was studying it. Were movies a big thing for you?
AC: Not really. But only because we (the family) never went.

RG: OK, let’s turn back to the written word. You’re an avid reader, so when did your love of books take flame?
AC: When I was about 16.

RG: 16? That’s late.
AC: Like I said, I’m a TV man. But then I really got into reading. Biographies and how-to books, mostly. My mum was always into bios and she encouraged me to read all the time. Eventually I gave it a try, and—surprise, surprise—I found I quite liked it.

RG: Which biographies?
AC: I read a lot of entrepreneurs—Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs. I remember reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s in university. That was a definitely a game changer for me. If you need a kick up the ass to get going, read that. It’s called Total Recall.

RG: What about fiction? When did that start?
AC: When I picked up my first Lee Child.

RG: Which one?
AC: Number one. Killing floor. I was in a bookstore, leafing through the selection, and I found this orange book (the UK version) and I read, I was arrested in Eno’s diner. At twelve o’clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee. A late breakfast, not lunch… I didn’t put the book down. (Note: Axel can quote the first chapter by heart. He’s read it that many times.)

RG: Who are your favorite authors?
AC: (Blows air out of cheeks) Where to start? I mean, obviously, you’ve got the big guns: Child, Chandler, King, Cole…(coughs) Cruise…Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Karin Slaughter; and then you’ve got the lesser known, but equally incredible: Alan Glynn, Chuck Palahniuk, and whoever wrote that creepypasta about the Russian sleep experiment—damn thing gave me nightmares for weeks!

RG: Are there any self-published authors you particularly look up to?
AC: All of them. Seriously. Because we’re all cut from the same cloth. We’ve been rejected, beat down, told “no”. Doors slammed shut, dreams taken away. But. We didn’t stay down. We got up. Grabbed on to what we want and we’re not going to let go. I’m extremely proud to be part of the self-published community.

 

Author Axel Cruise

Axel Cruise is the author of the highly acclaimed psychological thriller Hearing Voices—the first in the Isaac Blaze series.

Check out what Readers’ Favourite is saying here: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/hearing-voices

Axel is known for his ability to craft fast paced interweaving storylines, but primarily it’s his ‘cool’ and ’compelling characters’ and ‘dialogues that read so naturally’ that draws in audiences, with readers and reviewers likening Isaac Blaze to icons such as Deadpool and Jason Bourne.

British born, Axel grew up ‘pretty much in front of the TV’, and, in much the same way as Quentin Tarantino with films, Axel credits his incredible consumption of TV shows for his extensive knowledge of story craft. Some personal favourites include: Spiderman TAS (‘the best thing Marvel ever made’), Seinfeld (‘the best show ever made’), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dragonball Z.

Of course, Axel is a voracious reader, too. His prefences for reading and writing are expressed well in a recent interview and the question of plot vs character:

“Look. Plot’s important, yeah. But really, I just want to see cool characters doing cool shit.”

You can check out the full Author Interview with Axel, here: http://www.axelcruise.com/interviews

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

 

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Rook
J.C. Andrijeski
(Bridge & Sword: Awakenings #1)
Publication date: April 22nd 2017
Genres: Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction

From USA TODAY bestselling author, a psychic warfare alternative history set in a gritty version of Earth. Contains strong romantic elements – a book in the Bridge & Sword World. Apocalyptic. Psychic Romance.

“You are the Bridge…”

Allie Taylor lives in a world populated by seers, a second race discovered on Earth at the beginning of the 20th Century. Psychic, hyper-sexual and enslaved by governments, corporations and wealthy humans, seers are an exotic fascination to Allie, but one she knows she’ll likely never encounter, given how rich you have to be to get near one.

Then a strange man shows up at her work –– then another –– and pretty soon Allie finds herself on the run from the law, labeled a terrorist and in the middle of a race war she didn’t even know existed. Yanked out of her life by the mysterious and uncommunicative Revik, Allie discovers her blood may not be as “human” as she always thought, and the world of seers might not be quite as distant as she always imagined.

When Revik tells her she’s the Bridge, a mystical being meant to usher in the evolution of humanity––or possibly its extinction––Allie must choose between the race that raised her and the one where she might truly belong.

Goodreads / Amazon

~~~~~

Enjoy this glimpse inside

I CHOKE… CHOKED… am choking… caught inside a fisted clutch of light, an egg-shaped pocket that holds me unflinchingly in place.

Inside that heated glow, I birth.

Stars swim past me in a pale swath, sky broken by sharp eyes and lightning flashes, snaking charges of gold and orange and crimson, the late side of the setting sun.

I am with him again.

I have never left him.

Now we lie together on a bed, wrapped into and around one another, alone in a single room in a building full of seers. I know I am supposed to be like them. I know I’m supposed to be the same as those women I met when we came in off the street––yet he is the only one here who feels at all like me. His breath warms my skin, his fingers wrap around me, stroking my face and neck and hair, stroking my arms and fingers and lips.

The pain between us worsens, a spike that arcs, starting as a gentle pull before it keens steeply up, inexorable, becoming gradually more unbearable, until I am sure my insides will be ripped out, torn into so many pieces there is nothing left.

Beyond where I lay, a golden ocean beckons. It is familiar.

Even more familiar than the mountains we share, the grief over our pasts.

He is there, too.

I’m sorry, he says. I did this. I did this to you. I’m sorry––

Shhh. My voice is steady, somehow apart from the lights clashing, the ghosts winging over both of our heads. Revik, it’s all right.

Don’t leave me, Allie. Don’t leave me alone with this.

I feel confusion on him, confusion in his own words, what he means by them. The feeling intensifies though; his hands tighten on my skin.

The pain worsens, too, making it hard to see.

Still, my own words come easily, without thought or regret.

I won’t, I tell him. I never will.

There is a question in this. The question shocks his heart.

I am asking him for something. My light is, anyway. I can’t say it’s a conscious question, not fully, but the intensity behind it is real, and it feels entirely like me.

I am asking him for something.

I want a promise from him. A vow.

I want him to give himself to me.

It is nonsense, what I am asking of him, but I don’t withdraw the question, nor try to qualify it in any way with words. I only wait, seeing what he will say. Before I’ve fully understood either the question or the possible answers he might give, he’s agreed.

A surrender lives in that agreement.

I feel shame there, too, like he knows he should say no, but he cannot––will not. He clasps my fingers, and I see tears in his eyes. They bewilder me, touch me sharply through the pain and he pulls me closer until…

He kisses me. It is a brief kiss. Clumsy. Awkward. Yet it is tender, too. Meaning lives there, more meaning than I can comprehend. I feel him agree again, and it feels final that time. It is absolute. He is certain now.

The vow is set. It is more than a promise.

It feels like an ending and a beginning, all at once.

Even as I think it, the night sky disappears. Above us, light weaves into complicated patterns, in and out like a shuttlecock between silk threads. I have a fleeting impression of time removed. The weaving of the threads grows more and more complicated, more subtle, more beautiful and intimate and more connected to my heart.

I watch a painting form in that vastness of sky, a painting of fiery, diamond light, in a pattern too breathtaking for words. My struggle stops, even as the pain I felt before melts into warm breath, a feeling of ending, of beginning.

I know, somehow. This is familiar to me.

I feel it in him, too, that surge of familiar.

The feeling is so heart-wrenching, so intense, I cannot see anything else.

He belongs to me. He belonged to me before I asked the question.

We know one another here, and a timelessness lives in that knowing, something that lives so far from my conscious mind it feels almost alien. That deep sense of familiar is something I can’t explain to myself, something I understand without words, without really understanding it at all.

Something is… different.

I don’t know it yet, but it will never be the same again.

 

Author JC Andrijeski

JC Andrijeski is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes paranormal mysteries and apocalyptic fiction, often with a sexy, romantic and metaphysical bent. JC has a background in journalism, history and politics, and loves martial arts, yoga, meditation, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, painting… and of course reading and writing. She grew up in the Bay Area of California, but travels extensively and has lived abroad in Europe, Australia and Asia, and from coast to coast in the continental United States. She currently lives and writes full-time in Bangkok, Thailand.

To learn more about JC and her writing, please visit jcandrijeski.com.

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The Lucky One
Sylvie Stewart
(Carolina Connections, #3)
Publication date: May 11th 2017
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

When your luck runs out, do you run away—or do you stay and fight?

Bailey:
Let’s get one thing straight. I am not your typical girl. Sure I’ve got all the parts, but I’ve been a stubborn, irreverent tomboy since the womb, as my Irish father would proudly attest. Despite my Irish blood, I’ve had a bit of bad luck here and there—I recently trusted the wrong guy and got derailed in my professional pursuits. But I’ve bounced back. With my shields firmly in place, I thought nothing, or no one, could touch me again. Until he did. And he just might make this tomboy do the girliest thing in the world—fall head over heels in love. Of all the damn luck…

Jake:
I’m a pretty lucky guy. I have a phenomenal family, a career I love, and I’m building a brand-new life back in my hometown. And, not to be a jerk about it, but I do more than all right with the ladies. Everything’s been going according to plan—like I said, I’m a lucky guy.

That was, until my luck ran out.

Until I met the girl I call “Irish.”

Irony can go kiss my a$$.

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Enjoy this glimpse inside

I was struck again by the thought that everyone in the world seemed to be good with kids but me. And how unfair was it that Jake Beckett was not only hot as sin and a wizard in the sack, but he was also nice to small people and fainting women?

What was I supposed to do with that?

We finally pulled into the driveway and I hopped out quickly to avoid any awkward assistance that might be offered. Seeming to need no invitation, Jake followed us inside and closed the door behind him.

I took a deep breath and firmed my back as well as my resolve.

“As you can see, we’re all fine. I appreciate your concern—and the burritos—but everything is under control. We’ll go ahead and get on with our day and you can get on with yours.” I held my hand out toward the door like some damn restaurant hostess.

“Uh-huh,” he replied and had the nerve to lean against the entryway wall and put his hands in his pockets.

What was this? Was he posing for a bachelor-of-the-month calendar?

Gah!

I performed the hostess gesture yet again.

This time it received a grin.

“What?!” I demanded.

He looked me up and down. “Uh-huh.”

I became acutely aware of my attire and general appearance in that moment. I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks.

My hair was in a messy ponytail and I was dressed in athletic shorts and a men’s t-shirt. I didn’t need to look down to know there was a ketchup stain on the hem and a dinosaur riding a bicycle on the front. I have no explanation.

I urged myself to ignore Jake’s look and not even attempt to interpret it.

This moment perfectly captured the reason all Jake’s texts and calls had gone unanswered over the past three weeks.

He wasn’t texting me.

He was texting the girl from the wedding.

The girl I’d pretended to be for one night.

The girl I would never be.

The one I couldn’t afford to be.

(Copyright 2017 Sylvie Stewart)

 

Author Sylvie Stewart

Sylvie Stewart’s addiction to books has been a lifelong problem. It was the cause of many scoldings when her mother discovered Sylvie army-crawling to the bookshelf after lights out. And it is the reason her husband would have a fairly solid case if he claimed “alienation of affection” and pointed a finger at her e-reader (a.k.a “The Precious”). Never-the-less, books are in Sylvie’s heart to stay, and she has transformed her love of books into a career as an author.

A recent move to North Carolina inspired Sylvie’s debut Romantic Comedy series. Carolina Connections is a collection of standalone novels based in her new hometown, and it combines her love of romance, humor, and sexy times. There is also some wine drinking incorporated in there, as this is another of Sylvie’s passions. Perhaps a future story will also involve kayaking, a new interest in Sylvie’s life. Experience has taught her that you can’t kayak and drink wine simultaneously, though, so don’t try this at home!

The Fix, The Spark, and The Lucky One are now available. The fourth book in the Carolina Connections series will release in Fall 2017.. That is, if Sylvie’s eight-year-old twins will stop trying to peek at her laptop while she’s writing. That might lead to some awkward parent-teacher conferences.

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