A Very Dare Christmas – A Dare To Love Short by Carly Phillips


A Very Dare Christmas
A Dare to Love Short Story
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Carly Phillips

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Ian Dare misses the alone time and intense sex life he and his wife shared before their children were born. What’s an alpha man to do? He kidnaps Riley for an erotic weekend away before the Christmas rush overwhelms them both.

Riley Dare adores her husband and his dominant and protective ways, and she’s excited to spend time with him minus distractions on a sexy retreat where anything goes … and spontaneity leads to future surprises.

A complete stand-alone for people who haven’t yet read Dare to Love but a special treat for those who want to revisit their favorite couple.

NOTE: This short story was already shared in Carly’s newsletter so if you subscribe you may have read it before but many have asked if they could have this on their Kindle.

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I originally read this in Carly’s newsletter, but I didn’t remember it until I started reading.

I love the Dare family and I have read the whole Dare to Love series although I haven’t yet reviewed them all. I’ll have to get on that!

This is a short and steamy read as the holiday approaches. Ian and Riley haven’t had much alone time, Riley is exhausted and pushing to get the holiday shopping done. When Ian calls she is sure his family is growing as they speak since she realized there were folks she didn’t have on her list. Now he’s meeting her at home.

This is a favorite scene.

“Ian?” she called out.

“Right here.” He stood in the center of the family room, a red scarf in his hand.

“What’s going on?” she asked, a spark of excitement shooting through her at the obvious silk garment he’d used on her before.

“Come here,” he said in a commanding voice she hadn’t heard in too long.

A full body tremor took hold. Her nipples puckered, as if even they remembered the times he’d use that voice right before pinning her to the wall, her hands above her head, his lips on hers, his hard cock pressing into the softness of her sex.

She stepped towards him. “Why is that out now?” she asked, pointing to the scarf, her physical awareness of what was obviously to come a tangible, exciting thing.

“Turn around.”

She swallowed and did as he asked. He wrapped the scarf around her eyes and tied it behind her head. “Now you’re mine.”

Her heat pounded hard in her chest. “I’ve always been yours,” she murmured. “What is going on?”

“You’ll see,” he said and before he could argue, he lifted her up and into his arms.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on as he carried her through the house and outside into the warmer air. He placed her in a car, then settled in beside her.

So he was in the back too, she mused. They were obviously in a limousine, Ian’s favorite form of travel.

“I have to pick up the kids,” she reminded him.

“All taken care of.” He slid her skirt up her thigh and placed his hand on her bare skin. She shivered at his masculine touch.
Carly Phillips. A Very Dare Christmas (Kindle Locations 57-70). Carly Phillips.

Once on the private plane, Ian reveals where he’s taking her and after reassuring her his mother can handle the children he concentrates on her.

I can’t say much about the book without giving things away but I love this book! These two are so perfect together and the romance and heat is off the charts sizzling.

I am going to go back and do a re-read of their story in Dare to Love.

Thank you for releasing this story to everyone Carly. It reminded me why I love these books.

5 Contented Purrs for Carly!

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Carly Phillips

Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels featuring hot men, strong women and the emotionally compelling stories her readers have come to expect and love.

Carly’s career spans over a decade and a half with various New York publishing houses, and she is now an Indie author who runs her own business and loves every exciting minute of her publishing journey. Carly is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs (two wheaten terriers and one mutant Havanese) who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.


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Stolen By Them: Planet Athion – Between Rebels Book 1 by Skye MacKinnon


Welcome to the world of PLANET ATHION.
Here the aliens are sexy, the humans are hot,
and there’s plenty of action for everyone.
Be drawn into the drama by enjoying stories
from your favorite reverse harem authors
and meet kick-ass heroines
who decide what they want and take it.

Stolen By Them: Planet Athion
Between Rebels Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Sky MacKinnon

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I always knew that one day, I would be taken.
It was just a matter of time.

There are two basic facts every woman needs to know.

The Trads are bad. They will impregnate you and use your womb to bear their children until you die.

The Athions are good. They’re strong and protective, and you’ll practically be begging them to father your babies.

But none of that is true. Not for me, anyway. I was kidnapped by Athions and now two Trads are trying to rescue me. Has everything been a lie or are these guys just pretending to be different from the rest?

I can’t let down my guard. I need to get away. But how do you escape when you’re trapped on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere?

Author’s Note:
Please be aware that this book contains scenes of violence that may be triggering for some readers.

Note:
Planet Athion is a shared world contributed to by multiple authors. Discover more about this exciting new Reverse Harem, Sci Fi Romance series HERE.

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With this one book Skye MacKinnon has hooked me on another multi-author series, Planet Athion.

In this first book of Skye’s Trilogy in this world where Trads are kidnapping women to breed and Athions are trying to protect them. We meet Wren after the death of her last roommate, she is traveling to London to get to a sanctuary where hopefully she will be safe.

There are two Athions on the bus she is on and her human seatmate encourages her to go with them when they reach London. Giving her bodyguards on the way to the sanctuary. Unfortunately that is not how things worked out.

After introducing themselves Arri and Laki call for a taxi since Wren didn’t want to walk the half hour to the Sanctuary. She wanted to be away from these aliens, she wasn’t comfortable at all. While waiting Arri offers her a sweet, which she accepts after Laki has eaten one.

This is a favorite scene.

I was glad to be breathing fresh air again, even though it was the smoggy air of London. It was better than the stuffy, smelly air inside the bus.

“Shall we take a taxi?”

The two Athion brothers were flanking me, but to my surprise, they didn’t make me feel safe, on the contrary. I was uncomfortable with them being so close. I didn’t know them, yet they behaved as if I needed them. I shouldn’t have accepted their offer.

“Is it far?”

“Half an hour to walk, ten minutes by taxi if the traffic isn’t too bad.”

That was an easy decision. I didn’t want to spend half an hour in their company.

“Then let’s take a taxi.”

The curly-haired Athion lifted his wrist and typed into a cyber bracer. It looked very different from the smart bracelets that existed for humans, but then, Athions had mastered space travel centuries before us, so of course their tech was far more advanced.

He grinned at me. “Taxi will be here in two minutes. I’m Arri, by the way, and that’s Laki.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Wren.”

“Where are you from, Wren?”

“A village in Yorkshire, you wouldn’t know it.”

Laki rummaged in his pockets and pulled out three small squares wrapped in silver cellophane. “Want one? They’re my favourites.”

“Are they sweets?”

Arri snatched one of them and unwrapped it in record speed before popping the turquoise square into his mouth. It looked like toffee, except for the colour.

“Delicious,” he muttered with a satisfied smile.

“Yes, they’re sweets, flavoured with a plant that’s similar to your Earth mint,” Laki explained. “Try one, I have more if you like it.”

“You never offer me more,” Arri complained.

His brother shrugged. “You’re not as pretty as her.”

I took the sweet he offered me and gingerly nibbled on it, not quite daring to eat it all in one go. I wasn’t particularly choosy when it came to what I ate, but this was alien food.

It was good. Delicious. The cooling aftertaste did indeed remind me of mint, but as if it had been crossed with vanilla and something spicy, almost like pepper. The way the flavours mixed in my mouth was decidedly alien, but definitely something I could get used to.

“Good?” Laki asked with an amused smirk.

I nodded and ate the rest of it. The Athions watched me and once again, they made me uncomfortable. Were all aliens like them? If so, then I had no idea why women would want to live with them. Despite their smiles, there was something dangerous about them.

A black cab stopped next to us and Arri checked his wrist. “That’s ours.”

He opened the door and gestured for me to get in. His brother walked around and entered from the other side, meaning I ended up squeezed in between them on the leather backseat. There was a fold-down seat opposite me, but I didn’t want to offend the men by changing my position. After all, they’d been nothing but nice to me. Ten minutes, that was all the time I needed to spend in their company before we’d get to the sanctuary and I could be away from aliens for the rest of my life.

They didn’t tell the driver where to go, but I assumed Arri had done that via his communicator.

We sat in silence until Laki offered me another sweet. I took it, glad to have something to do besides staring out of the window.

My own yawn surprised me. I’d slept on the bus for at least two hours, but I guess travelling always made me tired. I swallowed my sweet and stifled another yawn.

“Tired?” Laki asked, his eyes fixed on mine.

I shook my head. “No, just exhausted from travelling.” I looked at my watch, realising we’d been in the taxi for almost fifteen minutes already. “Will we be there soon?”

Another yawn escaped my mouth and my eyelids twitched. I was having trouble keeping my eyes open, no matter how much I blinked. I was so tired all of a sudden. Maybe I could take a nap at the sanctuary.

Laki was still watching me, a smile curving his blue lips. As if he was happy seeing me this tired.

“Did you…?”

Talking became too exhausting and I let myself drift off, fading into the darkness of sleep.
Skye MacKinnon. Stolen By Them: Between Rebels Book One (Kindle Locations 127-162). Peryton Press.

The next thing Wren knows she awakens on a spaceship, the Athions with her are not the protective aliens she was led to believe and she needs to find help somehow. In an ironic twist her rescuers are Trads, pirates because they didn’t agree with the current policies on their home planet.

What ensues are several twists and turns, Vuk and Rafaz are nothing but kind to her, but things go awry rather quickly.

A page turning read with tears and some giggles, as we traverse Wren’s experiences, both good and bad. I can’t wait to read the next book in this trilogy.

5 Contented Purrs for Skye!

More Books in this Series!
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Skye MacKinnon

Skye MacKinnon is a USA Today & International Bestselling Author whose books are filled with strong heroines who don’t have to choose.

She embraces her Scottishness with fantastical Scottish settings and a dash of mythology, no matter if she’s writing about Celtic gods, cat shifters, or the streets of Edinburgh.

When she’s not typing away at her favourite cafe, Skye loves dried mango, as much exotic tea as she can squeeze into her cupboards, and being covered in pet hair by her two bunnies, Emma and Darwin.

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Dirty Game – The Anti-Hero Chronicles Book 1 By Mika Lane


Dirty Game
The Anti-Hero Chronicles Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Mika Lane

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I said undress.

Saved from a violent shoot-out, I am now “in debt” to Luca and Leo Borroni, the gorgeous mob twins of Las Vegas.
They said I’d be dead without them.
And that my payment is to play “The Game.”
Problem is, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up the loser.
Because guys like the Borroni brothers win. Always.
I mean, they aren’t the most brutal men walking the streets of Sin City because they’re sweethearts.
And I’m no match for their wicked ways.
I may have survived their shoot-out, but I don’t know how I’ll survive what’s next.

NOTE:
This hot, over-the-top romance includes sexy mafia hitmen with a penchant for pursuing and protecting the women who give them a run for their money. If you love outrageously naughty stories as a way to indulge your not-so-secret bad girl side, this is for you.

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This may have elevated itself to a new favorite from Mika Lane.

Twin brothers Luka and Leo have been frequenting the Loaded Dice. A seedy strip club where the owner has managed to get on the wrong side of their uncle. It’s time for him to pay the price but first the brothers have to send all the girls on their way. Luka has his eye on their waitress Echo, so there is a different fate they have planned for her.

This is a favorite scene.

“So, Echo, there is something I wanted to discuss with you.”

God, he was handsome. I hated that about him.

And it was so unfair the universe made two of him, essentially.

“What’s that?”

“Since I saved you—”

I leaned toward him. “Excuse me? Saved me? You did no such thing.”

He leaned back slightly in his chair and looked at me. I could swear I saw amusement on his face.

I wouldn’t have minded smacking it right off, too.

“I could have run out of there. I didn’t need you to save me,” I said, sitting back in my chair.

So there.

“Oh, but I did. That’s why I sent you to the sub shop. And now because I saved you, you owe me.”

I didn’t owe that asshole jack. Time to wrap this fun little lunch right up.

I stood to leave. Yeah, he definitely looked amused now.

“Luca, I don’t have much money, but I’ll give you what I have. I’ve been saving it to move my little sister out here, but if you really want it, you can have it—”

He frowned and cut me off. “Do I look like I need money?”

Well, no.

“You have to come home with me,” he said, polishing off the last oyster and looking mighty smug.

“Yeah. I don’t think so,” I said. “But thanks for the invite.”

Dick.

This was where I’d have doubled over laughing if I hadn’t been so damn scared of the man.

“You have to come home with me and live with my brother and me for a three-month three-month period, and play what we call ‘The Game.’ After that, you are free to go.”

At that, I actually did burst out laughing just as some sort of soup was delivered. Luca picked up his spoon and dove in.

“Yeah, that’s a good one, Luca. Hilarious. But I gotta go now. Thanks for the clothes.”

As I stood to go, I turned and leaned into his face. “And thanks for killing everyone at my club, you fucking asshole.”

His hand found my wrist, and tightened like a vise.

“This is not a joke,” he said.

Oh. Crap. I tried to pull out of his grip, to no avail.

“You will have your own room in our home, and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”

I waved my free hand for him to stop. “You don’t understand. I have to work. I have to support myself and my sister. In fact, I need to go find a new job since everyone at my old job is now dead.”

Again, he shook his head at me. “You don’t need to work.”

Yeah, right.

“You will be provided for, as will your sister.”

For the second time, I burst out laughing.

“I’m serious. You will be supported by us, and very generously, at that.”

Okay. I go from cocktailing in a shitty dive strip club to being a prisoner of the two gorgeous twins of organized crime?

I was speechless.

What was I going to tell my roommate, Yasmina?

Luca got up from his side of the booth, still gripping my wrist, and pushed me back into my seat. I was effectively trapped. That’s when he let go of my wrist.

And damn if he didn’t smell great.

Which reminded me.

“Luca, was that weird smell at the club this morning… from guns or something?”

He picked up a lock of my hair and brought it to his nose. “Yeah. That was from the guns.”

And don’t you know, while he twisted a lock of my hair around his forefinger, he leaned toward me, right there in the restaurant, and brushed his lips across mine.

It was as though I’d put my finger in an electrical outlet. Tingles shot through my every pore. And while I knew I was supposed to hate the guy, something made me lean toward him for more.

God, I was in trouble.

Big trouble.
Mika Lane. Dirty Game: The Anti-Hero Chronicles (Kindle Locations 408-442).

Really having no choice, Echo moves into the Twin’s home. She’s still not sure where all this is heading or how serious her situation is.

Plenty of heat as Luka initialized the Game. However, there are those who aren’t happy about Echo’s place in their home.

A look from the mafia side of things gives this an interesting twist. I loved the feisty Echo and the way the relationship between her and Luka develops.

I can’t wait to see what Mika has in mind for the next book.

5 Contented Purrs for Mika!

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Mika Lane

Writing has been a passion of mine since, well, forever (my first book was “The Day I Ate the Milkyway,” a true fourth-grade masterpiece), but steamy romance is now what gives purpose to my days and nights.

I live in magical Northern California with my own handsome alpha dude, sometimes known as Mr. Mika Lane, and an evil cat named Bill.

A lover of shiny things, I’ve been known to try to new recipes on unsuspecting friends, find hiding places so I can read undisturbed, and spend my last dollar on a plane ticket somewhere. I also drink cheap champagne and have way too many shoes.

I’ll always promise you a hot, sexy romp with kick-ass but imperfect heroines, and some version of a modern-day happily ever after.

I LOVE to hear from readers when I’m not dreaming up naughty tales to share. Join my Insider Group below, So we can get to know each other better.

Gingerbread Kisses – A Christmas Novella by Kat Baxter


Gingerbread Kisses
A Christmas Novella
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Kat Baxter

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The hot guy…

The first time I see Ginger Starr after four years of being abroad, she is wearing a hideous Christmas dress. But the obnoxious monstrosity does nothing to hide her generous curves. One thing becomes perfectly clear: I’ve never wanted a woman more.

…and the curvy bookworm

Brock Daniels might be ridiculously hot, but he’s also my high school nemesis. I’m prepared to hate him and find him annoying with his washboard abs and toothpaste commercial smile. What I’m not prepared for is how he’s looking at me…like he wants me.

…just might find their forevers
underneath the mistletoe

Our parents are jointly hosting a 12 Days of Christmas party and we’re stuck together. Pretending to be civil isn’t that hard and one spontaneous kiss might change everything.

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Ginger has considered Brock her nemesis since eighth grade when he took her to a dance and left her to kiss Chelsea all night.

Brock left after high school to pursue his education in Europe, now he’s back home with more adventurous plans.

It’s the Christmas party season and Ginger’s parents and some others have created twelve themed events to raise money for charity.

Her parent’s ugly sweater party is where Brock and Ginger meet up again.

This is a favorite scene.

Her warm cinnamon-colored eyes narrow with suspicion. “Why are you being friendly?”

An instrumental version of Jingle Bells plays in the background.

“Am I not allowed to be?”

“Not to me.” Her arms cross over her chest which just serves in squeezing her already fantastic tits further together. Damn, she’s cute when she’s pissed.

I chuckle. “Since when?”

“Since forever.” Her words come out in a hiss. “You don’t like me. You’re not nice to me.”

“Gingerbread, we haven’t seen each other in years.”

She closes her eyes. “Ugh, that nickname.”

“Here let’s do this right.” I hold out my hand to her. “Brock Daniels, nice to meet you.”

Again she watches me through narrowed eyes, but finally she extends her hand.

The moment our palms touch I swear some sort of electrical surge pumps through the room. But none of the lights flicker. She clearly feels it too, though, because she quickly pulls her hand back.

“We used to be friends, yeah?” I ask.

“When we were little kids.”

“You were my favorite person to run around with outside.” I smile at her again.

“You look good, Ginger. Really good.” I let myself take in her curves, and my eyes get caught on the sexy as fuck cleavage she’s showing.

“Until you decided I wasn’t cool enough for you.”

I sigh. She’s not entirely wrong, but I guess I’d hoped we could just forget about high school and it’s stupid teenage politics.

I nod to the empty glass she set next to her discarded phone, on side table behind her. “Where can I get one of those?”

“This way.” She spins and walks out of the room.

And I follow because damn if that dress isn’t doing amazing things for her body. Which frankly doesn’t make sense because the bow-encrusted monstrosity is ugly as hell. Looks like Christmas threw up all over her skirt. But it still hugs her just right, accenting her narrow waist and hips that I could really grab onto.

She brings me into the kitchen where I find a sizable display of food and drinks. But she waits, standing in the entryway.

“You should be able to find whatever you want in here.”

I look down at her and take in her face. She’s really pretty.

“None of your crowd will be here tonight.” She tugs on one of her curls and I find myself longing to do the same. “Your mom said you hadn’t seen anyone yet.”

“I wouldn’t call them my crowd. Just people I hung with in high school.” People I let dictate who I was because I was too chicken shit to stand up to them and be myself. I admit, I got wrapped up in the whole popular stuff. I played football and dated the head cheerleader and we were Homecoming King and Queen three years running. That seems like a lifetime ago and I don’t think about those people anymore. Ever. But Ginger…

She tilts her head back, and gasps, and I follow her gaze.

Mistletoe. “I’m right where I want to be with who I want to talk to.” I smile down at her and lean in for a kiss. But at the last minute she turns her head and my lips press into her cheek.

I chuckle and she squeezes past me to leave the room.

She evaded that kiss, but I know one thing for sure. I’m not done with Ginger Starr.
Kat Baxter. Gingerbread Kisses: A Christmas Novella (Kindle Locations 137-165).

Seems Brock has a bit of convincing to do before Ginger gives him more than the time of day.

A phone left behind leads to the second encounter and the realization they are both now adults has Ginger thinking of rekindling their friendship.

A fun Christmas tale with some snark and sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for Kat!

 

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Kat Baxter is the pseudonym for a bestselling historical romance author. She lives in Texas with her family and a menagerie of animals.

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Shelter for Penelope – Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 15 by Susan Stoker


Shelter for Penelope
Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 15
By
NY Times, USA Today and
Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker

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Dubbed the “American Princess” after her rescue from months in the hands of ISIS, soldier and firefighter Penelope Turner has struggled silently since her return to Texas. The media, the danger of her job, the pressure of knowing lives are in her hands…all of it and more has combined to slowly fill Penelope with seething guilt and doubt. Missing memories from her moment of capture cause even more angst. Is she responsible for the deaths of her Army patrol unit? And without knowing what happened, how can she be trusted by her fellow firefighters—or trust them in return?

Worse…how can she ever be worthy of the man who believes in her most?

It took seeing Penelope in the hands of terrorists—in viral videos seen around the world—for Tucker “Moose” Jacobs to realize just how much he loved his fellow firefighter. He died waiting for her rescue, then died all over again when Penelope abruptly left Texas, trying to outrun her past. Now that she’s returned, the kid gloves are off. Moose is a patient man, but even he has his limits. He loves Penelope, and he knows it’s past time for her to face her fears, and remember she has an entire tribe of friends who not only have her back, but need Pen to have theirs, as well.

In the end, Penelope will have to trust Moose, her friends, and most of all herself, if she’s going to make peace with her past…and have any kind of future.

** Shelter for Penelope is the 15th and final book in the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings. Penelope’s story started in Protecting the Future, and over the years, she’s struggled with her inner demons. Read on to see her finally get her HEA.

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The first thing you need to do before you start reading, is  grab a full box of tissues, you will need them.

At the end of Shelter for Koren, Penelope has left her resignation on the Chief’s desk and left, not only the station but San Antonio. Fortunately she has on the tracker Tex sent her when she returned home. He’s sort of guiding her in her travels with her donkey Smokey keeping them safe and directing her to some pretty awesome veterans and active service friends.

She’s called Moose giving him updates on her travels, but hasn’t said anything about coming home, at least not until her latest phone call.

This is a favorite scene.

“Taco proposed to Koren, and she said yes. They haven’t chosen a date yet though.”

He wasn’t sure if he should tell her the next thing. But he’d promised he’d never lie to her, and not letting her know felt like a lie of omission. “And…Sophie’s pregnant. She and Chief just got back from visiting his mom on the reservation. They wanted to tell her first. I guess they had a blessing ceremony, and his mom was super excited. She’s got about six more months to go.”

When Penelope didn’t say anything, Moose asked, “Pen? You still there?”

“I’m missing everything,” she whispered.

“Then come home,” Moose pleaded. He’d promised he wouldn’t, but the words just popped out. “Together, we can work through whatever has you so scared.”

“I can’t,” Penelope told him.

“But you are coming home at some point, right?” Moose asked.

“I haven’t decided.”

Moose felt his heart break right in half at her words.

He’d had his suspicions that he’d lost the woman he loved, but until now, she’d never come right out and said that she might not come back to him. And it hurt.

She was shutting him out. Him and her brother and all the rest of her friends.

Feeling the tell-tale sign of tears forming behind his eyes, Moose stumbled backward until his legs came into contact with his bed and he sat down, hard. It was his turn to have nothing to say. The silence over the phone line was heavy and fraught with tension.

“Moose?”

“All I ever want is for you to be happy,” Moose started, doing his damnedest to not let his voice crack. “When you were here and suffering, I did all I could to be there for you. I defended your need to keep Smokey, and I let him stay in my barn, and then my house when the barn was torched. After you left, I defended your need and right for some space to the guys. When you missed the birth of Blythe’s daughter, I reassured her that you’d be back, that you were trying to get your head on straight after everything that had happened to you.

“And I’ll have your back no matter what, Pen. I don’t think it’s a surprise that I love you.”

Moose heard her take a deep breath, but he kept going. “I’ve loved you forever. I’d bend over backward to keep you safe. To do what you need to live your life the way you need to live it. But I need you to want that too. To want to stand by my side. To have my back. I get that you’re struggling, I do, and I wish there was something I could do to help you. But I can’t if you don’t let me in.

“If you don’t come back to San Antonio, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over loving you. You’re it for me. I feel that down to the marrow of my bones. I love the woman you are today, the woman you were yesterday, and the woman you’re going to be in the future. I don’t give a fuck if you have PTSD or if you can’t ever be a firefighter again. You can stay home and raise miniature donkeys if that makes you happy. All I want is to be by your side while you do it.

“But if moving away from everyone who loves you exactly how you are, who supports you unconditionally, is what you need to be happy…so be it. Please thank the men who were able to get you out of hell for me, and tell them they have my undying gratitude. Don’t forget to shoot Blythe a text to congratulate her on her marriage, and maybe Sophie too, for being pregnant. Stay safe…and know that I love you.”

“Moose—”

“Thanks for calling,” he interrupted her, not able to listen to her try to let him down gently.

He’d never come right out and told her he’d loved her before, but he couldn’t keep the words in anymore. Not if she was deciding whether or not to come back to Texas. He wasn’t about to play fair, not when it came to the woman he loved. He was almost forty; if Penelope didn’t come home to him, he’d never get married. Never have a family. She was it for him. He knew that with no uncertainty.

“I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay, Moose. Later.”

Moose clicked off the phone and squeezed it so tightly in his fist he knew it was only a matter of seconds before it broke. He threw the phone onto his nightstand and bent over so his elbows were resting on his knees.
Stoker, Susan. Shelter for Penelope (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 15) . Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Locations (149-180). Kindle Edition.

I started crying when Pen says she doesn’t know if she’s going back to Texas and sniffled most of the way through this book.

It’s not until she’s with Wolf, Caroline and the team that brought her home, that she starts to realize she’s running away and not dealing with anything.

Her return to Texas is fraught with emotion and new experiences with Moose beside her the whole time. He is unfailing in his love and support.

I loved the way everyone stands with her whether or not she wants them there. My heart broke with her painful memories as she deals with her PTSD and trust issues.

A very emotional and beautiful end to this wonderful series. Thank you for the journey Susan.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.

She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.


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Gun in the Gardenias – Lovely Lethal Gardens Book 7 by Dale Mayer


Gun in the Gardenias
Lovely Lethal Gardens Book 7
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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blurb-fall-cornucopia

Riches to rags. … Chaos to more chaos. …
Fire destroys evidence. … Or at least most of it!

Flush with success from solving a decade-old kidnapping case, Doreen can’t wait to find out what’s next in her one-woman crusade to clean up Kelowna’s cold crimes. But, before she can unearth another old case to sink her teeth into, she must tie up some loose ends from the last one.

Steve Albright, fixer for the local biker gang, has made it clear that he blames Doreen for sending his friend Penny Jordan to prison. Steve even suggests that Doreen might have set up Penny Jordan. While Doreen wouldn’t do that, she’s afraid that other people might believe Steve. He’s a popular figure in town and has a lot of friends, many of whom Doreen doesn’t want to get any closer to than she must.

At least Steve doesn’t have his gun anymore, having dropped that in Doreen’s neighbor’s gardenia bed while she chased him from her yard. Which makes Doreen think that maybe it’s safe to dig into Steve’s past. Until she uncovers a connection to three arson cases from years ago and is warned off by Corporal Mack Moreau.

But Doreen’s never listened to Mack before, and it has all worked out thus far, so it’s not like she has to listen to him now. Right?

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I am truly loving this series, the antics of Doreen’s pets, Goliath, Mugs and Thaddeus are so much fun even as they demonstrate their loyalty to her. Her grandmother, Nan is a pip, she’s the reason Doreen has a home and all these interesting issues.

At the end of the last book as things are wrapping up, one of Doreen’s neighbors gives Detective Mack a gun he found in his gardenias.

In this one Doreen has finally gotten rid of much clutter that her Nan had collected over the years. She now wants to do a thorough cleaning before considering decorating to her liking. Of course nothing is simple and she merely finds more things to go through and organize.

Doreen has learned to do a lot, like pay the bills related to owning a home. Selling off of things and finding cash in pockets and pinned in clothing, plus working in Mack’s mother’s garden, has made this possible. She’s also learned a bit about cooking thanks to lessons from Mack.

Mack gets so frustrated with her, she seems to find trouble even as she solves cold cases. He thinks he finally has convinced her to take some time to heal and rest when her neighbor hands him a gun.

This is a favorite scene.

Just then one of the neighbors raced toward Mack, allowing Doreen to sidestep Mack’s question. “Hello, hello, police?”

Mack turned to look at him. “Yes, I’m Corporal Mack Moreau. What can I do for you?”

The man held out a paper bag. “You can take this away,” he said. “Just a few days ago, I was working in the garden, and I know it wasn’t there before then. But I did have somebody run through my yard last Friday night or Saturday morning, it was late, but super early, I don’t know … I was asleep and woke up to see him running,” he said, the words spilling out of him so fast he was hard to understand.

Mack held up a hand. “Slow down.”

“I didn’t know what to think of it. I was really nervous.” The neighbor appeared to be in his mid-seventies at least. The small man with a whisper of gray hair on his head scrunched up his face into worry lines. “Here, here, here,” he said, shoving the bag at Mack. “Take it.”

Mack took the bag and looked inside. His eyebrows shot up toward his hairline, and he said, “Where did you find this gun?”

“That’s what I mean. That’s what I mean. I was working in the gardenias, and I know it wasn’t there before then. But, after that man went through my backyard, I went outside to continue my work the next day, and I found it. I didn’t know what to do with it. I thought maybe he would come back and get it again,” the man cried out. “So I left it there. It’s just me at home, and I knew nobody else would come and take it, but then, when I went out this morning, it was still there. I don’t want it. I don’t want it,” he said, backing up. “You take it.”

“Do you have a dark-brown fence?” Doreen asked. “That runs along the creek?”

He turned and looked up. “Yes, yes, that’s my place. I see you sometimes walking there.”

She nodded. “I love that space. It’s a really nice path along the creek.”

“Not anymore,” he said. “Not anymore.” He kept backing away. “Not when people throw guns into my backyard,” he said. “This used to be a nice neighborhood.” Out came his finger, and he poked it in her direction. “You’re the one who keeps bringing all these nasty people here.”

She stared at him in surprise. “How is that possible?” she asked. “I’m the one finding and shining the light on all these nasty people who have been living here long before I arrived.”

He said, “Well then, you need to find one more. You need to find whoever put that gun in my gardenia patch. It’s really not good for the soil.” He shot her a hard look, and then he turned and left.

Doreen looked at Mack and said in a conversational tone, “I know who dropped it.”

He spun ever-so-slowly, looked at her, and said, “What?”

She beamed up at him. “Maybe we’ll have a cup of tea and talk about it on another day. I think I’ve given you enough work for right now.” She motioned toward the chaos. “Definitely another day.” And she turned, called the animals to her, and said, “Don’t forget. We have a cooking lesson coming up in two days. Mind you get all your paperwork done before then so you can enjoy dinner.” With a big smile, she walked inside and closed the door hard.

She leaned against the inside of the door and couldn’t stop smiling. Mugs jumped up on his back legs, his front paws hitting her midthigh, and he woofed at her. She reached down and and petted him. Goliath, not to be outdone, stretched into the exact same position. She slid down the back of the door until both animals could get at her. Thaddeus hopped up her arm to tuck into the crook of her neck. She cuddled them all and said, “Thank you so very much for saving me again today. And for caring about Mack.”

She knew the absolute joy of having all these tomorrows coming to her, even more so now that the animals had saved her life once more. “Treat time,” she said.

The animals went crazy. She jumped to her feet, laughing, and said, “You deserve it today, guys. You definitely deserve it today.”

As she handed out treats, she couldn’t help but think about the gun in the gardenias and the suspicions she had in the back of her mind. “But that’s tomorrow’s case,” she said, chuckling. “Definitely tomorrow’s case.”
Dale Mayer. Gun in the Gardenias (Kindle Locations 57-90). Valley Publishing.

That gun is just another added frustration for Mack as Doreen just leaves him on her porch.

This case intertwines with the last one and there is much suspense as we see Penny’s friend Steve running into Doreen more than just occasionally.

Plenty of discoveries lead to clues and of course plenty of antics from the pets as Doreen tries to find a sense of normalcy. There are also more hints of a possible romance blooming, but the time definitely isn’t right.

This series is delightful and I perk up every time there’s a new addition. I can’t wait for the next one!

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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Coming Soon!

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Dale Mayer

Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).

She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!

To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.


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The Queen – Sanguine Book 1 By Cole Denton


The Queen
Sanguine Book 1
By
Cole Denton

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Once upon a time,
there was a wholesome young princess
who ruled her kingdom in grace and purity…
This isn’t that story.

Octavia is a naughty, snarky, young princess that is always looking for a good time. But, in a single night, a greedy, bloodthirsty enemy changes her world forever.

Now that she’s in control, the rebellious princess is trying to escape the terrors of her past by becoming the Queen of Pleasure. Decadence and debauchery sum up the days in her world, and being the Queen of Pleasure comes with benefits! Her favorite one is having the choice of the fairest gentlemen in the land to be her private “playthings.” All seemed well in her kingdom of pleasurable pain.

Tragedy is about to strike a second time, forcing this hedonistic monarch to embrace her dark past, and to realize the full potential running through her veins. In order to destroy the familiar enemy who once shook her world, she will need to gather those closest to her, and learn to lean on her newest “plaything”…who is not all that he seems.

Blood is sweet, but revenge is sweeter when you’re…The Queen.

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This book is not for the faint of heart or prudish. Packed with explicit scenes it’s not recommended for anyone under 18.

Princess Octavia, while young is not innocent at all and she thoroughly enjoys her fantasies.

To be honest I fell in love with her bodyguard/caretaker Klyn he is truly someone to be reckoned with. It’s because of him the Princess survives to become Queen.

Octavia is a good ruler, and she has her quirks but she is also always a bit fearful the Carpe Noctem would return and destroy all she has rebuilt.

Her ‘gentlemen’ satisfy her needs and she adds to them periodically. But strange things start happening and the suspense builds.

A bit of a cliffhanger with extreme heat, interesting characters and a bit dark. It’s not clear if this is going to be a trilogy or more of a series, but I do hope we don’t have to wait very long for the next book.

4 Contented Purrs for Cole!

about-the-author-fall-cornucopia

Cole Denton is an ocean lover who finds joy in almost all physical activities. He is especially passionate about baseball and surfing, indulging in them every chance he gets.

His other passion is writing. It began at a young age and followed him through to his time at a university in SoCal where he majored in screenwriting.

After moving to Sin City itself, Cole has put his knowledge and talent as a writer to work by pursuing a career as a dark fiction author. Cole is enjoying testing his kinky side, in pursuit of all things pleasurable.

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Don’t Breathe A Word – Texas Justice Book 2 By Christie Craig


Don’t Breathe a Word
Texas Justice Book 2
By
NY Times Bestselling Author
Christie Craig

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blurb-fall-cornucopia

Police detective Juan Acosta doesn’t only carry scars on the outside. He’s filled with guilt and anger ever since his undercover job led to the murder of those he loved the most. Now he’s living for one thing: revenge. That is, until Juan meets his beautiful new neighbor.

Vicki Holloway prides herself on being capable and independent, but her life is turned upside down when her sister Sara is killed by an abusive ex. Fearing for the safety of her niece, Vicki and the little girl go into hiding…resurfacing in Texas with new identities.

Juan finds his once-frozen heart thawing around Vicki, but he knows she’s hiding something. Juan needs answers, but Vicki isn’t talking. She has to keep her secrets if she wants to keep Bell safe, which means resisting her growing feelings for the sexy, scarred man next door. But when Juan’s quest for justice brings danger to her door, divulging the truth might be the only thing that keeps her alive.

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Juan Acosta has a new neighbor, he knows this because he saw his dog making the acquaintance of a child. Now his dog has alerted him to something else and he sees someone trying to break in the back door.

Being a cop and a good neighbor he starts to give chase. This becomes my first giggle in this book. Never underestimate the power of a woman alone with a child.

When the officers she called get there, Juan knows he’s never gonna live this down. In the aftermath, he also realizes his neighbor is hiding something.

Twists, turns and danger abound as Juan falls for his neighbor Nikki and her daughter Bell. They both have issues they need to face and work on but this journey is one best undertaken together.

I couldn’t put this book down as Juan’s past surfaces with Nikki’s present.

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Christie!

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Christie Craig

New York Times bestselling author Christie Craig is an award-winning writer, photojournalist, motivational speaker, writing teacher, and author of thirty-four books.

An Alabama native, she is a NEW YORK TIMES Best-Selling author of more than 30 books and thousands of magazine articles. During her 25 year career, she has gained a well-deserved reputation for writing romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone.

Also writing young adult books as C.C. Hunter, her complete New York Times bestselling young adult paranormal series, Shadow Falls and Shadow Falls: After Dark, are available now from St. Martin’s Griffin. Her new young adult series, The Mortician’s Daughter, is now available and her contemporary young adult debut, This Heart of Mine, will release from Wednesday Books in February 2018. She also has a new romantic suspense series coming from Forever Books in 2018.

She currently resides in Texas.

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Infernal Descent Trilogy – by Skye MacKinnon & Bea Paige


Infernal Descent Trilogy
Contains
Hell’s Calling
Hell’s Weeping
Hell’s Burning
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Skye MacKinnon
and
Bea Paige

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The complete Infernal Descent trilogy
in one volume for the first time.
Hell just got a whole lot hotter…

The devil has taken Ciera’s sister. To save her, she has to travel through all nine circles of his domain, filled with demons, monsters and sinners.

Luckily, she’s not alone. Accompanied by a fallen angel, a werewolf and a hellhound, she ventures further into the lands of the dead than any human ever before. But there’s a reason the living are not supposed to be in Hell, and with every circle, there are more enemies to overcome.

With the devil out to stop them, Ciera and her men need to hurry before it’s too late for both her and her little sister…

An action packed fantasy adventure based on Dante’s Inferno, but with a kickass heroine instead of a lovesick old poet, and a reverse harem romance that’ll make you swoon.

 

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I fell in Love with Skye’s Cat Assassins series and looking for some Halloweenish books I thought, what could be better than Lucifer and his ilk. It just so happens that this trilogy was coming out as one book so I knew it would be perfect.

In this first book we meet Ciera as Lucifer sort of breaks his word. She has signed a contract with ‘Luke’ for her soul so she would be able to provide for her little sister Tris. Now with Tris crying for her, she tries to fight off Luke’s messenger and ends up unconscious. When she wakes, Tris is gone and she gets some advice and direction from her elderly neighbor Noella.

This is a favorite scene.

Before I even look at the rest of the man’s face, I’m convinced that he isn’t human.

A few months ago, this would have shocked me, but I’ve been hanging out with Luke and his crowd for long enough to figure out that humans aren’t alone in this world. I’ve never had the chance or the confidence to ask what they all are, but their supernatural strength is enough to tell me that they aren’t like me. Luke of course is the devil, Lucifer, although he hates being called that name. The only thing that gives away his non-humanity are his red-rimmed eyes, but it’s not the same for the man in front of him.

His entire skin is glowing. Without the golden glow, he’d probably be pale, but the shine hides his true skin colour and any impurities there might be. His lips are curved in a small smile, his white teeth the only non-golden part of him. How does he walk around town looking like this? No wonder he’s hiding in a shed in the worst part of town where outcasts and misfits blend in. Not that he’d ever blend in.

I’m so mesmerised by his eyes and his glow that it takes me a moment to notice that he’s talking to me.

“Do you enjoy sitting on the floor?” He grins, flashing his sparkling white teeth at me.

“No? Then you better come in.” He leans out of the window, reaching out for me with one hand.

Last chance to run, Ciera, a voice in my head tells me, but I ignore it. I’m not going to run if this might be a chance to save my sister.

I take his hand, expecting him to pull me up so I can walk through the door, but he has other ideas. One second I’m outside in the backyard, the next, I’m flying through the window head-first before landing against his chest. He’s warm, I can feel his heat even through my clothes. His chest is hard with muscle, but not uncomfortable.

What the fuck? Did he just pull me through a window with enough force to prevent me from crashing against the window frame? And why am I still in his arms?

I hastily step back, ignoring how cold I suddenly feel, bereft of his warmth.

“Who are you?” I ask hastily, both to break the silence and to feel a little less awkward.

“They call me Maro,” he says in a soft but deep voice.

“And what do you call yourself?”

“Maro.” He chuckles. “Are you one of those people who take everything literally?”

I shrug. “Occasionally. What are you doing here?”

His grin grows wider. “You sneak around my house and then ask me what I’m doing here?”

I’m grasping for a snarky answer but my mind is going blank. His glow is too much, I can’t focus. How can I think when I’m looking at the most gorgeous and unusual man I’ve ever seen?

I decide not to look at him again, instead, I inspect the rough wooden floor.

“I’m looking for someone,” I say, determinedly not lifting my gaze. “Or something, maybe. Ehm…” I take a deep breath. “Do you know someone called Luke?”

Suddenly, I’m slammed against the wall behind me, something sharp pressing against my throat. Maro’s face is inches away from my own, his eyes suddenly burning with molten gold. He’s no longer smiling at me.

“Do you work for him?” he growls, the softness in his voice gone.

I try and look down to see what he’s holding against my throat, but I’m scared he might cut me if I move too much.

“No,” I reply steadily, hoping he won’t spot the lie. It’s not like I’m working for Luke voluntarily. Signing the contract with him was the only way for me and my sister to survive. It got us a permanent place in the shelter, food and enough money to occasionally buy some clothes or other necessary things for Tris. He even threw in a bus pass so I could get to my assignments without having to walk through the entire city.

“Interesting,” he mutters, still not letting me go. “You’re lying but you’re not. Explain.”

To emphasise his command, the pain on my throat increases. I’m breathing shallowly now, trying not to move my neck.

“It’s not by choice,” I reply through clenched teeth. “Let me go and I’ll tell you.”

His eyes stay fixed on mine, burning into my mind. The intensity of his gaze is making me dizzy, but I can’t even seem to blink, let alone close my eyes.

Finally, he seems satisfied and steps back, releasing me, and I get to see what was pressed against my throat.

Fuck.

He’s got bloody wings.
Skye MacKinnon; Bea Paige. Infernal Descent: The Complete Trilogy (Kindle Locations 276-313).

After Maro kind of introduces himself and ascertains her reasons for wanting to descend to Hell. He agrees to help her, and the adventure begins.

We meet some of the usual folks such as Charon at the river Acheron, as Ciera gets her first visual of Hell. Then and a surprising one, seeing Homer at the first circle. She will have to make it through the ten circles of Hell to get to the center where Lucifer aka Luke is holding her sister.

At the second circle there is Minos, but it is at the third circle that things get even more interesting as we meet Cerberus, the three-headed hellhound who is the gatekeeper for this circle. Who just happens to turn into a very sexy male. At this point Ciera has started thinking of Maro as ‘Her angel’ which in itself is intriguing. It’s her reaction to Cerberus that starts confusing her a bit, she’s on a quest to free her sister not get the hots over an angel and a hellhound, who just happens to turn into a very sexy male.

It’s there that Plutus, a werewolf, joins the crew, his is the fourth circle and even though there appears to be a feud between him and Maro they need him get across the river Styx. There is The City of Dis, the fifth circle, guarded by fallen angels and the Furies on the other side of the river Styx.

I’m not going to continue naming folks since at this point we have the ones important to this book. Ciera has the angel, the hellhound and the werewolf on her side, and they are both distracting and needed.

I couldn’t stop reading and the descriptions of the circles are Hell indeed. I am just going to continue reading as I need to know what happens next.

5 Contented Purrs for Skye and Bea!

Now this book opens with quite the surprise as the gate to the sixth circle opens and the dead swarm through. Ciera also notices that the closer to the center they get the more the glow of Maro fades.

Led into an ambush by a centaur named Oumy who has rainbow hair, it looks like Ciera’s journey might come to an end here. It’s quite the battle.

This is a favorite scene.

Of the three, I feel most comfortable around Ceb, which is pretty ridiculous given he’s a three-headed hellhound with the ability to reduce a hoard of people to ash in a matter of seconds.

“See, even Ciera agrees,” Ceb says, winking at me.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” I say with a glare, trying to hide the warm glow his attention gives me.

There’s something so alluring about Ceb. He’s snarky and spiky, powerful and attractive, all of those things, but there is a mystery to him. Despite his outward appearance, there’s something light about him. Something pure and, not for the first time, I wonder why he’s here. Why he’s in Hell. In fact, when I look at Plutus by his side, I feel the same way about him too. Despite the angry facade, there’s more to him than meets the eye. I felt it in his kiss, I feel it now when I look at him.

“Where is that traitorous little prick anyway?” Maro cuts in, interrupting my thoughts.

When I turn to look at him, he’s scowling at the three of us, not in the least bit amused by our gentle ribbing.

“That fucker needs to pay,” he adds, casting his gaze around the now empty warehouse, looking for the rainbow-haired centaur.

I frown, the light in him that was so obvious when I first met him in his ramshackle home in the grounds of the Dark Woods pub is almost non-existent now. Where Ceb and Plutus seem to be glowing brighter, he seems to be dimming. It scares me if I’m honest.

“That fucker has a companion,” Ceb says, pointing to the other side of the warehouse.

“Well, look who it is!” Plutus snarls, his long dark hair falling over his shoulders.

“You traitorous piece of shit!” Maro shouts, striding towards the pair.

The fat little man next to him holds his hand up and Maro is suddenly flying backwards in the air. We all watch as he lands in a heap amongst the charred remains of the dead.

“Fucking hell,” Ceb exclaims, as shocked as Maro at the power of Oumy’s companion.

This must be Anastasius, the leader of the heretics, or he would be if they weren’t all dead.

Maro gets to his feet, shaking out his wings, but the ash of the dead stick to them leaving them a dull grey colour. My heart squeezes at that. I have the sudden urge to rip off my top and wipe him down. I don’t like to see his glow so dulled. Not at all.

I step forward, rage filling my chest. Who the fuck does he think he is? Lifting my bow, I slide an arrow against the notch. I could kill both of them in an instant. I will kill them both. If they think they’re getting out of here alive, they’re very much mistaken.

Anastasius holds his hand up, Oumy sliding behind him. The centaur looks at me warily through a veil of multicoloured hair. He even has the audacity to smile, as though that’s enough to counteract all the shit he’s caused.

“What the fuck are you smiling at, you lying, traitorous bastard!” I shout.

“It wasn’t me. I had nothing to do with it,” Oumy stutters, looking like butter wouldn’t melt.

“Nothing to do with it? You lured us into a trap with your lies!”

“I didn’t mean it,” he whinnies.

“You didn’t mean to lure us here so a thousand heretics could attack us, or you didn’t mean to betray us?” Plutus snarls.

Oumy mutters under his breath, backing further behind Anastasius.

“It was all him!” he says, throwing Anastasius under the bus. ‘Loyalty’ clearly isn’t a word in his vocabulary.

Anastasius steps forward, ignoring Oumy completely now. He looks far too at ease for my liking. I keep my bow and arrow fixed on him. One false move and he’s dead.

“Lucifer has a message for you, Ciera,” he says, looking directly at me.

I feel Ceb, Maro and Plutus edge closer.

“And what’s that?” I ask, trying not to feel afraid. Trying not to worry about what he’s doing with Tris.

Anastasius smiles slowly. His puffy face splitting like a ripe peach as the skin parts along the centre of his face. Out of the skin and bone, another face appears, that of a horned creature covered in boils and weeping blisters. The skull of Anastasius falls against his shoulders as this demonic head wriggles upwards, its obsidian eyes turn to me and the men around me step ever closer.

The demon opens his mouth, but it’s Lucifer’s voice I hear.

“Your journey is futile, Ciera, but if it is a journey you’re intent on making know this: Tris is mine, I will never give her up. I will reign hellfire on your attempts to get her back. You’re not strong enough. There are no weapons powerful enough to kill me.”

“Fuck you! I will never give up. I will find her,” I whisper, tears pricking at my eyes.

The demonic creature laughs. “You’re too late, she’s already lost.”

Lucifer’s voice rings in my head as his words cut right through skin, bone and muscle. I feel them reverberate around the room. My heart shatters.

“Ciera, we should leave,” Maro murmurs, resting his hand against my back. The way he says it makes me think he’s talking about Hell and not this warehouse.

“I will never give up,” I whisper, blinking back the tears.

Oumy starts to laugh alongside the twisted demon that now shreds the skin of Anastasius.

“I WILL NEVER GIVE UP!” I roar, firing off an arrow.

It rips through the demon’s eyeball and straight through Oumy’s chest. Their laughter dies as my rage erupts. But even their deaths don’t appease the despair within me. Nothing but the thought of Tris in my arms can do that. “Ciera…” Plutus calls as I stride towards the exit.

But I don’t turn around. I won’t.
Skye MacKinnon; Bea Paige. Infernal Descent: The Complete Trilogy (Kindle Locations 2002-2048).

Next up is the centaur Chiron who just happens to be Cerberus’ brother. Not a calm reunion at all. But it’s the questioning that has Ciera wondering even more about her angel Maro. At least until he clarifies his answer to her.

Then the forest of the seventh circle, followed by rains of hellfire. It’s here that things really heat up (pun intended) between Ciera and her guys as they are trapped waiting for the firestorm to end.

Of course things just get worse and there are many surprises here. I did some laughing, some crying and needed to hydrate a bit too. Definitely plenty of heat in more than one way.

I’m just going to move on to the final book in this trilogy, I really have to finish, I am hoping for a happy ending here.

5 Contented Purrs for Skye and Bea!

After the events in the second book, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I began this one. we still have three more circles to navigate, and I’m still sniffling. Plutus isn’t with them, their experiment seems to have failed, but a voice tells Ciera that he lives at least for now, but she needs to hurry to the center.

The eighth circle has 10 bolgias, and you have to know by now that everything is hellish, yes I meant that pun. Thanks to, and I’m still giggling, ‘Papa Smurf’, Ciera has a unique way to find their way through after they fall into a place that appears to be under the eighth bolgia. Unfortunately that little gift also makes her very sick and there are plenty of dangers here as well.

The ninth circle holds a surprising cold and more as this tale brings us closer to the center.

This is a favorite scene.

Ceb is by my side in an instant as I start pounding on the ice wall. “It’s Plutus! It’s Plutus! Get him out. GET HIM OUT NOW!” I shout, my voice cracking with emotion.

Maro rests a hand on my shoulder.

“Plutus is dead, Cookie. We saw him die. It can’t be him,” he says gently.

I shrug him off. “He’s alive. She said he was alive, and here he is! GET HIM OUT!”

“The girl you mentioned before?” Ceb asks, taking my face in his hands and forcing me to look at him. I strain to look at Plutus, desperate to get him out. Can’t they see it’s him? It’s him!

“Yes, her. The girl with the fiery hair. I already told you! She said he was alive, that we had to be quick. Here he is! Now get him the fuck out of that ice, Ceb!”

“Are you certain? I can’t see his face, the ice is too thick,” Maro asks.

“It’s him, it’s him! I know it is. GET HIM OUT!” I roar, my voice hoarse.

My body knows, my heart, my fucking soul. It’s Plutus. I know it.

Ceb doesn’t hesitate further, nudging me gently aside he places his hands on the ice wall. “Take her to the centre of the room, Maro.” He glances up at the thin ceiling. “I’m going to try this in my human form, it’ll take me longer, but it’s safer. If this place starts to collapse, then you’re better off over there on that platform away from the walls. I’ll try to ease him out gently.”

Maro nods his head, dragging me away whilst tears cascade down my cheeks. “Are we too late, Maro?” I whisper.

Maro hauls me back up against him whilst we stand on the stone platform. “Fuck knows how he’s alive, Cookie, but he is. We just need to get him out of that wall and warm him up.”

“I told you. She said he was alive, and he is. How did he end up here? We saw him turn to ash, Maro…”

“So many questions that I don’t have the answers to. Perhaps he’ll enlighten us when Ceb gets him out.”

“Oh, God!” I exclaim, distracted by Ceb’s hands sinking into the ice wall. A loud crack sounds as the ice wall splinters. Ceb withdraws his hands for a moment. He glances over his shoulder at us both. I catch a glimpse of fear before he winks.

“It’ll be alright, Firecracker. Trust me,” he reassures.

And I do. I do.

Maro wraps his arms tighter around my waist, resting his chin atop my shoulder. “This time we won’t lose him, Cookie,” he murmurs.

For the next hour, Ceb slowly melts the ice encasing Plutus, stopping every now and then when he thinks he’s in danger of bringing the whole place down. Inch by inch Plutus is uncovered until finally, Ceb is able to pull him out of the ice wall. The air leaves my throat in a rush as Ceb picks Plutus up and strides over to us. He’s stiff, his body still frozen through. The expression on his face has a small sob escaping from my mouth.

He’s so afraid, terrified. The fear, loss, and grief are too much to bear.

“I’m going to warm him up now, but I can’t do it in my hellhound form as my fire will be too hot. Take him for a moment whilst I strip off,” Ceb says, handing the frozen Plutus to Maro who’s released me from his arms.

Maro takes Plutus from Ceb, holding him against his body as though hugging him. I tentatively touch Plutus’s cheek, tears streaming down my face. “Plutus, we’re right here. We’re right here. Just hold on.”

“Right, all ready. Hand him to me,” Ceb says stepping up onto the stone platform beside us. He wasn’t kidding when he said he was going to strip off. He’s completely, gloriously naked.

“Christ, Berus, the pants too? Is that really necessary?” Maro frowns, but there’s laughter in his eyes.

“Yep, abso-bloody-lutely! Imagine what he’ll say when he wakes up.” He grins, winking, before wrapping his arms around Plutus and hugging him against his chest.

Maro and I watch as ever so slowly, the blue tinge to Plutus’s skin starts to pink up.

“Ooooh, it’s getting nice and toasty now, wanna join?” Ceb asks, holding his arm out.

I hesitate and Ceb clucks his tongue like a mother hen. It’s quite adorable.

“You need warming too,” Maro says, urging me forward. “But let’s lie down, that will be more comfortable for all of us.”

Maro spreads Ceb’s discarded clothes on the floor to create a makeshift blanket. Once most of the stone tiles are covered, Ceb lowers Plutus to the ground and lies down behind him, his chest pressed against Plutus’s back.

I join them, hugging Plutus, and despite his cold skin, I can feel Ceb’s warmth seep into me from behind the wolf.

“Come on angel, there’s room enough for you. Stop being a pussy, we’re all friends here,” Ceb says over my head.

Maro watches us, a hint of a smile pulling up his lips. “Fine. But don’t get any funny ideas, hound. I’m a one woman kinda man, alright?”

Ceb laughs. “Just get in and cuddle, you dick.”

Maro lies down on his side behind me, effectively pushing me into Plutus’s chest so that Plutus and I are somehow huddled between them both. Snuggling against him, I cup Plutus’s face in my hands. His skin doesn’t feel ice-cold any longer, but it isn’t at a normal body temperature just yet. I don’t even know if his heart is beating, but I know he’s alive. He just needs to thaw out. Well, that’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

“Come back to me, Plutus. Come back to us all,” I whisper, pressing my lips against his mouth and wishing with every single part of me, that he wakes up soon.
Skye MacKinnon; Bea Paige. Infernal Descent: The Complete Trilogy (Kindle Locations 4240-4287).

As Ceb thaws Plutus and warms both Ciera and Maro.I confess to more sniffles, and a Hell yeah as Ciera decides she’s had enough and calls out to Lucifer and Maro’s fallen brother Marbas answers.

Lots of hold your breath action, a not so pleasant revelation for Ciera and so much more had me turning the pages.

I loved every page of this trilogy. Don’t miss it!

5 Contented Purrs for Skye and Bea!

 

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Skye MacKinnon

Skye MacKinnon is a USA Today & International Bestselling Author whose books are filled with strong heroines who don’t have to choose.

She embraces her Scottishness with fantastical Scottish settings and a dash of mythology, no matter if she’s writing about Celtic gods, cat shifters, or the streets of Edinburgh.

When she’s not typing away at her favourite cafe, Skye loves dried mango, as much exotic tea as she can squeeze into her cupboards, and being covered in pet hair by her two bunnies, Emma and Darwin.

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Bea Paige lives a very secretive life in London… she likes red wine and Haribo’s (preferably together) and occasionally swings around poles when the mood takes her.

Bea loves to write about love and all the different facets of such a powerful emotion. When she’s not writing about love and passion, you’ll find her reading it and ugly crying.

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The Darkest Fall by Ripley Proserpina


The Darkest Fall
By
Ripley Proserpina

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Can a demon be redeemed?

Rational Lucia believes in what she can see and touch, preferring to leave the curses and fortune telling to her old-world relatives. Meeting Delia, a desperate half-human, half-demon child, who needs someone to keep her safe challenges Lucia’s logic.

Armaros spent his eternal life mired in guilt. Choosing to live according to his desires and whims, he forced his sister to fall from grace, damning them both. When she vanished, abandoning him and all they’d built together, he pursues. The last thing the Fallen expected to discover was the impossible existence of her child and the fragile human intent on her protection.

Thrust together, Armaros and Lucia must flee the forces of Heaven and Hell. Despite the insurmountable odds stacking against them, can they accept that fate put their paths on a collision course? Or are they doomed to fail, losing not only Delia, but also the only other person in the universe who understands them?

*The Darkest Fall was previously published
as Matched with a Demon*

 

 

When Lucia finds Dalia, she knows she has to take care of her. What she didn’t expect was for things to get so very complicated very quickly. Even as she debates with herself her Aunt Zia calls and tells her to stop and go home. Lucia has other ideas and takes the child home. Now this child isn’t human, Lucia’s not sure exactly what she is though.

When Armaros finds Dalia, he is expecting to find his sister and quite frankly all hell breaks loose as he tries to erase Lucia’s memory and take Dalia. Lucia is a fighter and she doesn’t give up easily, but this encounter isn’t my favorite, the second one is.

When Dalia has had enough of Armaros’ questions, she throws a tantrum of sorts, her powers destroying his apartment and then she poofs out of there. Then when Lucia arrives looking for her, Dalia brings Lucia to her.

This is a favorite scene.

“She really loved you.” The picture Delia painted was a happy one. Two parents who loved each other. A man who thought his red-eyed wife beautiful. Whatever had happened since then, Delia had sweet memories to draw upon.

Despite the girl’s slight weight, Lucia started to sweat through her wool coat. Catching the glances of other ice cream patrons, all clad in sandals and shorts or sundresses, she and Delia stood out in their winter clothes. “Can I ask you something else?”

Delia turned a tear-streaked face up to her and nodded.

“Where are we?” When she’d been teleported from the cemetery, she’d appeared here on this picnic bench outside a drive-up ice cream parlor. Her nose burned in the sun.

Giggling, Delia sniffed and wiped her face with the back of her hand. “Florida? I think.”

“You want more ice cream?”

The girl shook her head, but leaned against Lucia again. Being upset had exhausted her. Glancing down, she saw the girl let out a huge yawn.

“How about we find a place to rest?”

Delia nodded and swept her hand through the air. Colors rushed past her, faster than the blur of scenery when staring out a car window. Motion sickness threatened, and Lucia closed her eyes. She had nothing to focus on, no fixed point in space to help her get her bearings. Like riding the tilt-a-whirl at a carnival, she prayed for it to be over.

All at once, her body jarred to a stop. Her head whipped forward, and she tripped, eyes opening automatically.

Where were they? She didn’t recognize this place. It was a stark apartment, everything white and chrome. “Is this your house?” Walking to the window, she saw the frozen harbor in the distance, completing the monochromatic aesthetic.

Delia climbed onto the suede couch, and Lucia winced when a smudge of chocolate she missed smeared across the cushion. “No.”

It wasn’t the sort of place a kid would live. “Should we be here?”

Delia’s eyes closed, and her thumb went into her mouth. “I’m too tired to run anymore.”

Sighing, Lucia walked to her. The rug covering the floor beneath the couch and coffee table was white and furry. It would be comfortable enough. Seating herself next to Delia’s head, she brushed the girl’s hair back from her face. “Okay. Take a nap. I’ll be here. Anything I should know?”

“We’ll be fine.” Her words were broken by another huge yawn. “Night, Luce.”

“Night, piccola.”

Weak winter sunlight streamed through every window. Lucia watched Delia, smoothing her hair, waiting for her eyes to dance beneath her closed lids to signal she’d fallen into a deep sleep. It was a long time coming. Delia tossed and turned, and finally, with Lucia’s thumb stroking back and forth across her forehead, she stilled.

Cracking her neck, Lucia carefully withdrew her hand. Delia remained asleep. Good. The girl needed it. Stretching, she stood and decided to explore.

Keeping one eye on Delia, she walked to the window to stare out. Huh. They were back at Pauper’s Cemetery. Why didn’t these things freak her out more? In less than twenty-four hours, everything she thought she knew was turned on its head.

There was the church’s spire, and beyond the white expanse of the open graveyard, stones covered in snow. Maybe she should stop down later, see if the priest could make sense of what the universe had recently revealed to her. Ha! If she set foot in a church after not attending in so long, she’d probably burst into flames.

Ambling around the perimeter of the room, she tried to imagine what sort of person lived here. They had money to burn. Each exterior wall was a window; the entire city visible from wherever she happened to stand. It should have given her a sense of openness, but instead, she found herself wondering what was holding the ceiling above her head. Tipping her head back, she imagined steel and plaster crushing her.

A whimper brought her out of her dark thoughts, and she hurried to the couch. Delia thrashed back and forth, and cried out, “Daddy!”

Frowning, Lucia picked her up. “It’s okay.” She pulled her onto her lap, cradling her in her arms and stroking her back until she calmed. As Delia fell back to sleep, Lucia let her head drop onto the arm of the couch.

She’d gotten herself into a mess— a weird, inter-dimensional mess of biblical proportions. She’d walked home from the library, and bam! Insta-mom. Staring at Delia’s flushed face, Lucia grinned. She wasn’t sorry. This kid had a way about her, and Lucia was smitten.

But she wasn’t prepared for her. Lucia’s student loans supported her. She had no real job. Correcting papers and teaching bored undergrads for less than she could make at a fast-food joint didn’t count. If she had a child, she needed to be smart and self-sufficient.

What was the school system like in her area? She didn’t even know. Was Delia old enough for school? Argh! This was such a mess! No way was she responsible enough to take care of her.

“What are you doing in my home?”

Shit. She knew that voice. “Hey,” she singsonged in greeting at a loss for what else to do. “So, you just, you know, poof into places?”

Crossing his arms, the man glared at her, leather jacket crackling as he moved. Or maybe it was his knuckles cracking. Lucia got the feeling she was on shaky ground with this guy.

“I didn’t know this was your house.” She made a move to shake Delia awake, but the girl was so exhausted, she paused. “Do you mind if we hang for a bit? Delie is beat and needs a nap. When she wakes up, you can go back to squeezing my brain or whatever.” The nickname flowed from her, riding the rising wave of affection cresting in her soul.

His eyes flicked to the girl asleep in her lap and back before dropping his arms. Running his fingers through his perfectly styled hair, he sighed. “I— Fine.” Sitting carefully in a nearby chair, he kept his gaze on Lucia. “What are you doing here?”

“Delia brought us here.”

“Did she?” One eyebrow raised as he considered her sleeping form. What was it about this guy that made her want to douse him in holy water, and then, remove his wet shirt?

“Why are you after her?”

Part of her was amazed at her audacity, but for some reason, she knew he wouldn’t hurt her right now.

Shrugging, he continued to watch them silently.

“Do you know her?”

Icy blue eyes flicked to her, staring at her intently before he shook his head. “No. I don’t know her. But—”

When he didn’t finish, Lucia waved a hand. “But…”

He remained silent. Okay. So, he wasn’t going to answer unless he wanted to. Fine. “Do you know what happened to her parents?”

“Parents?” This threw him off guard. “She doesn’t have parents.”

“Of course, she does. Everyone has parents. She told me about her mother and father. And don’t scoff like it’s crazy, Mr. This is My House. Weirdo. What circle of hell is this, really?”

“Did she?” He ignored her comment about his house. Again— fine. He was only interested in discussing Delia. “What did she say?”

“Why are you after her?” Lucia countered wickedly. She could tit-for-tat, too.

“Have you forgotten what I can do?”

Raising an eyebrow, she shook her head. “I’m unlikely to forget the worst headache of the century or the Our Lady of the Bleeding Eyeballs impression. I can’t stop you. Do it. Go ahead.” Please don’t. Why did she speak without thinking?

“I’m not going to hurt her,” he said.

“But you’re after her?”

Rolling his eyes, he dropped his head to the back to the chair. “I’m not after her. She has something I need.”

“What could a child possible have that you need?”
Ripley Proserpina. The Darkest Fall (Kindle Locations 559-623).

This is only the beginning, and Armaros his more than a little intrigued by the the human who is so determined to care for his niece.

He fights this attraction, after all he is a fallen angel and nothing good could come of this attraction.

Plenty of twists and turns as the plot thickens, warrior angels, Lucifer and of course Lucia’s family all contribute to tale of good and evil.

I laughed, sniffled, held my breath a few times and fanned myself as Lucia and Armaros steam up the pages all while working on keeping Dalia safe.

I really hope there are more books with these three, it was thoroughly engaging.

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!

 

Ripley Proserpina

Ripley Proserpina spends her days huddled near a fire in the frozen northern wilds of Vermont. She lives with her family, two magnificent cats, and one dog who aspires to cat-hood. She is the author of the Reverse Harem series, The Searchers, Midnight’s Crown, and the young adult/fantasy duet, Wishes and Curses.


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