Flame’s Embrace: An Australian Bushfire Charity Anthology

Flames Embrace

From urban fantasy with a dollop of romance,
to spicy paranormal love stories,
Flame’s Embrace has it all.

All profits will go toward
an Australian Bushfire Charity,
to help support communities and wildlife
that were severely impacted
by the Australian Bushfires
at the start of 2020.
Funding is still required,
and many animals and people
lost their lives to this devastating event.
May Sage
Seanan McGuire
Meg Anne & Kel Carpenter
Bec McMaster
Amanda Pillar
Emigh Cannaday
Kim Faulks
Heather Long & Rebecca Royce
Grace McGinty
TJ Nichols
Ripley Proserpina
Vivienne Savage
Bam Shepherd
Mila Young


Set it Ablaze
A Witch Queen Short Story

May Sage

Camille ‘Cee’ Danvers is preparing to leave Massachusetts for Australia. As she settles for the night, a couple of ghosts rouse her for help.

This is a favorite scene.

It was the wrong season for this. In November, the forest was too wet for a fire to propagate like this. It had rained just yesterday. Which meant that this was the work of a witch. Hopefully. Otherwise, it was something much worse.

Cee consciously stopped herself from chewing on her bottom lip—a nervous gesture she was trying not to resort to as it messed with her lipstick. She had a big thing for lipstick these days. After so many years of not being allowed to wear any makeup at all, she loved all types of cosmetics, but lipsticks more than the rest. She liked it bright or dark. It would have been positively shocking for her family.

When she reached the line of fire, she knelt to the ground and planted her feet deep in the cold earth. Spells came to her mouth without a second thought as to the best one to use. Magic had always been easy as breathing for her. She whispered to the wind and the sky, coaxed the earth into lending her some power. Her words weren’t in English. Nor were they in Latin, typically used in most of the spells her family had wanted to drill into her. She didn’t know the language at all. All she knew was that it worked.

Within seconds, the first drop of rain fell on her forehead. A moment after, she was drenched as the rain poured down with violence.

Yet the fire remained.

What the hell?


She didn’t need to turn to know the ghosts were right behind her.

“Yeah, well, I’m trying.” She blew a frustrated breath. If a crap ton of water wasn’t working, how was she supposed to stop the fire?

Then she stilled, thinking about a different approach. This fire wasn’t natural, and the consequence wasn’t what she needed to get rid of—she needed to find the root cause.
May Sage, Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 92-108). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

The cause of the fire is a surprise to her as is the new knowledge of what she is.

Now she’ll be hunted.

A quick satisfying read, with action and heat of the regular kind. I can’t wait to read more of Cee’s story!

5 Contented Purrs for May!

Love In The Last Days Of A Doomed World

Seanan McGuire

With a huge comet hurtling to earth, surviving isn’t something that will happen. This is an apocalyptic event coming. The woman telling us this story and her partner are living their lives the way they want.

There are glimpses of the past, of comic books and superheroes. There is more than one mention of Krypton.

This is a favorite glimpse of the past.

The woman in the library isn’t interesting enough to take my attention away from my book. Not many things are. Books are better than people. They’re easier and kinder and they move as fast as I want them to, letting me take my time, letting me leap ahead. Books are safe.

I’m sitting on a hard plastic chair in the adult section of the library. The chairs in the children’s section fit me better—my feet are dangling more than a foot above the floor—but the librarians don’t like it when I carry my weight in physics texts from one side of the library to the other. I’m not sure why. I don’t like to make the librarians unhappy, and so here I am, content in my nest of paper and plastic and physics. So it isn’t that unusual when the woman walks toward me, not the way it would have been if she’d been in the children’s library, where strangers aren’t supposed to be.

She drops a folded piece of paper on my book as she passes. I pick it up, intending to hand it back to her, but my eyes catch on the equations inside, and I’m lost. It’s poetry. It’s mathematics so impossibly advanced that they become a language all their own, and by the time I realize I’m looking at someone else’s work, it’s too late. When I manage to tear my eyes away from the equations, she’s gone. I didn’t really get a good look at her. I’m eleven; all adults look alike to me.

Her hair was the same color mine is. I remember that much.

“Finders keepers,” I whisper, and slide her note into my pocket. Tonight, I’ll dream of those equations.
Seanan McGuire, Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 372-385). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

What those equations the woman drops periodically mean is a puzzle. One to be solved before the event.

A strange yet intriguing tale.

5 Contented Purrs for Seanan!

Succubus Blues
A Grimm Brotherhood Short Story

Kel Carpenter & Meg Anne

Tamsin is interested in Dominick but he doesn’t seem interested. Now the Fae Queen has set up a team building retreat for a few of them. Let me just say it’s not your ordinary retreat.

The first thing we get to know is that Dominick really wants Tamsin, he’s just afraid it’s her succubus nature and not the real thing. The torture begins when they are sharing the ride to the venue. Dominick is tortured by Tamsin’s singing, it’s really making it hard not to touch her. The Alpha wolf in the back seat has me giggling when she’s woken and cranky over the window being open.

The best is when they get pulled over and Tamsin rescues him from the situation, one that could have been sticky in many ways.

To top it all off when they arrive they find that Natasha hasn’t booked enough rooms so someone has to share. Guess who that is?

This is a favorite scene.

Loading two suitcases on my shoulder and carrying another one in my hand, I was halfway up the sloped driveway when voices carried.

“You can’t be serious,” Tamsin was saying.

“Look. I know it’s not convenient, but there’s only so many beds—”

“Then why the hell am I being paired with him? None of you are sharing rooms.”

Silence. Mumbled things I couldn’t make out. I dropped the suitcases next to the front door on the giant wraparound porch before stepping inside.

“What’s this about sharing rooms?” I asked.

“Nocturna didn’t book a big enough cabin. Two people have to share a room.” Tamsin crossed her arms over her chest and narrowed her golden eyes on the fae leader.

Nocturna shrugged apathetically, clearly not giving a shit.

“You were the last one here,” she said. “It’s only fair.”

My eyes narrowed even as my heart slammed in protest. I needed distance from the succubus, not to share a damn room with her.

“Convenient excuse,” I said flatly.

The fae woman didn’t so much as blink. “It’s the truth. Like it or not.”

“Drawing straws would be just as fair,” Tamsin pointed out.

“Why can’t Tamsin and Serena share, then?” I asked.

“Oh, no you don’t. My sleep has already been impaired by the two of you enough this weekend. I’m not sharing a room with anyone. Besides, my foot crossed the threshold before yours,” Serena said, already sprawled out on a plaid armchair.

“Only because I carried your luggage,” I practically snarled, desperation sounding a lot like anger.

“Glad to see you’re as excited by the news as I am, reaper boy.”

I glared at Tamsin. As if things weren’t already complicated enough between us, now we had to share a room? The universe was seriously fucking with me.

“It’s that or the couch,” Nocturna said.

“Couch it is,” Tamsin said, clapping her hands. “I’ll go grab you a pillow.”

I looked toward the furniture and didn’t actually see a couch. I saw a two-seater love seat and a lot of armchairs. I grasped her elbow before she made it more than a step. “That’s not even a real couch. I can’t fit on that. Look, I’m not happy about it either, but if those are the only options, we’re just going to have to deal with it. I can be an adult about it if you can.”

Tamsin studied me for a second, one of her eyebrows raised in a way that made me uneasy.

“Fine,” she finally snapped. She stalked off down the hall to what I could only assume was our room. Sighing, I turned around and headed back to the car for the rest of our suitcases.

This day just kept getting better and better.
Meg Anne; Kel Carpenter. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 743-749). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

Things get funnier and heat up as this story continues. So much fun!

5 Contented Purrs for Kel and Meg!

Wings of Fire and Fury

Bec McMaster

Alina was taken under Mircea’s tutalage after her parents died violently. She believes a Dreki killed her parents. After years of training and hunting she’s ready to find the creature who killed her parents and finally get her revenge.

Although Alina doesn’t know it, Mircea witnessed her parents death. He knows what creature did the deed and knows Alina has to discover the truth herself. There’s something else brewing as well, Alina has been attracted to Mircea for a while now, but while he always watches over her he hasn’t shown any interest other than protector and friend.

This is a favorite scene.

Setting the empty goblet down very precisely, she sauntered toward him. His gaze dropped to her hips as if he sensed the abrupt leonine shift to her stride, and her heart soared.

“You always watch over me while I sleep,” she whispered, “but I don’t want you watching over me anymore—”

“You don’t want me riding with—?”

“No.” Alina straddled his thighs, her hands coming to rest upon his chest. “I want you in my blankets with me.”

Every muscle in his body stiffened, though his left hand came to rest on her thigh. Heat darkened those eyes. “What are you doing?”

She reached out, brushing her thumb over his lower lip. “What does it look like?” His mouth was so soft. She leaned closer. “I am tired of this push and pull between us—”

“You’ve been drinking.”

Not enough to shield her bruised heart. “Ah. You’re going to tell me I’m too drunk to make this decision.”

His hand half-lifted, before he curled his fingers into a fist and laid it to rest gently upon her thigh. “Grief and wine make poor choices.”

“Too young. Too broken-hearted. Too drunk.” She pushed away from him. “If the answer is no, Mircea, then tell me no. Stop looking at me as if you want to strip me naked and eat me all up. Stop hunting with me. Tell me no and I’ll ride away, I swear I will. I will never bother you again.”

He pushed to his feet and captured her wrist, and there it was again, the hot flash of molten heat in his eyes.

“Stop it,” she said, slamming her palms against his chest. “Stop looking at me like that if you don’t want me.”

“I never said I didn’t want you.”

What? Alina gaped at him. “Then why the hell do you tell me no?”

“Because you’re still living in the past. All you can see is a vicious dreki killing your parents. All you want to do is kill it—”

“If they were your parents, would you not wish the same?”

The muscle in his jaw clenched. “Perhaps. But you don’t know what happened that day. You don’t know the truth of their deaths. You were knocked unconscious before you could reach them.”

“What am I supposed to do? Ask the dragon?”

“Dreki,” he growled.

Alina threw her hands in the air and pushed away from him. “Dreki. Dragon. Wyrm. They’re all the same.”

“They are not the same.”

“Then they’re just an excuse not to touch me,” she shouted.

Mircea stared at her.

She glared back, her chest quivering and her breath coming in harsh pants. Want ached within her. Not merely a desire to have his hands on her, but a heartfelt yearning that tore her in two. She wanted him. She wanted his touches. His kisses. But most of all, she wanted his heart.

“Perhaps I don’t want to be a poor choice made from a mix of loneliness and grief,” he finally said. “Have you ever thought of that? Perhaps I want to be more than a night’s mistake. Or a regret.”

Alina drew back sharply. “A mistake?”

“And perhaps one day you’ll forgive me,” he finally said.

“Forgive you? For what?”

“For this.”

Mircea captured the base of her skull with his palm and hauled her against him.

The bruising claim of his mouth stole a gasp from her, and then he was kissing her as if he wanted to claim her. Alina curled her fists into his shirt, wilting into the embrace.

In all her imaginings of this moment, she’d never come close to the truth.
Bec McMaster. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 1285-1293). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

Alina is in for more than one surprise as she heads out to deal with the monster that not only killed her parents, but also a couple of boys from her village.

Mircea reveals a truth about himself and the consequences are both startling and hot in more ways than one.

5 Contented Purrs for Bec!

Burning Secrets
A Heaven’s Heart Short Story

Amanda Pillar

Godric is a Mortis Demon, his skin is poisonous and kills anything other than another Mortis. As a member of the Halcyon Guild he metes out punishment as required. He has a particular revulsion to rapists such as this Ignis demon. A rather gory scene as he photographs and sends the image to his boss.

Kara is a phoenix with a particular aversion to the Ignis line. They have the idea that she is part of a prophecy linking their lineage. She has been held captive by them, even forced to wed but there have been no offspring from her. There are only a couple Ignis demons of the royal line left and one of them was staying in a room where she works. This is where she meets Godric.

This is a favorite scene.

Time to bail. Taking one last look at the scene, he decided it was tidy enough—if you excused the blood and gore, which he did. Now he needed to make tracks.

He listened at the door before he opened it a crack.

He slammed it shut.


A huge golden eye had stared right back at him through the inch-wide gap.

“Room service?” The woman on the other side of the door called.

Why does that sound more like a question?

“Not interested,” he shouted back.

How the fuck was he going to get out of here?

Sure, there was nothing illegal about assassination in Hell—if you were unlucky or dumb enough to get killed, that was on you—but if the family or friends knew who the killer was, there was nothing that stopped them seeking revenge.

An eye for an eye, and all that.

A fist banged on the door. “Room service.”

Godric jerked it open, just wide enough to look out. “Not. Interested.”

Two of those large, golden eyes were staring at him now, in surprise, framed by thick, sooty lashes. They were arresting, as was the rest of the woman’s face—cheekbones sharp enough to cut glass, luscious, very kissable lips…all surrounded by long, bubblegum-pink hair. And her body—it was made for sex. Generous hips he could grip tight, and breasts that would overflow in his hands.

Her tongue darted out to lick her lower lip, and yeah, Godric was ashamed to admit his cock may have jumped a little at the sight.

It had been a while.

“This is room 205?” she asked, voice low and smoky. Her left hand waved to a trolley on which sat a stainless-steel cloche, bloodwine bottle and an empty glass. She wasn’t wearing a uniform, but most of the employees at the Casa de los Condenados didn’t bother with formalities. Black was the preferred color; it didn’t show blood as much.

“That’s what the numbers say on the door,” he replied.

What would she sound like moaning?

Better off not imagining that. She was no Mortus demon—her skin a warm caramel, glowing with health, no sign of the green tint that would mark her as one of his species—and sex with a non-Mortus was not something he was interested in.

Fucking corpses wasn’t his thing.

She frowned. “This room is checked out to a Mr. P. Jeremy.”

“Sure is.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Mr. Jeremy is an Ignis demon.”

Yeah, that was something he couldn’t pretend to be. Next time he’d have to bring an illusion spell with him.

She was sniffing the air. He had no idea what kind of demon she was—Hell, she looked human enough, if not for those eyes—and he realized she might be able to scent what was left in the room.

Godric gave her a cool smile and stepped through the door. He locked it, flicking a small spell at it as he did so. She wouldn’t be able to enter the room for a good twenty minutes. “I swapped rooms with Mr. Jeremy,” he lied. “Check the next one. I’m heading down for a drink; have a good night.”

Finally close enough, he raised his hand and blew a cloud of white dust at her.

She coughed in protest, and then looked at the trolley next to her, blinking in confusion.

The spell wouldn’t last long—it just affected short-term memory. But it would give him enough of a window to leave, his face and presence forgotten.

He tugged up the hood on his sweater and was whistling by the time he made it downstairs. The bar was a huge open space, filled with tables, and a counter running the length of one wall. He strode straight for the exit and was out the door before the patrons realized there had been a Mortus in the mix.

Outside, he whispered the incantation for a Devilsgate and threw a handful of powder in the air, watching as it spun to form a fiery circle. He stepped through the glittering portal, out of Sheol and back into Tartarus and the Halcyon Guild building.


He was home.
Amanda Pillar. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 1894-1902). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

Kara made a mistake when the new Ignis King comes to collect his brother’s body, she’s seen and recognized. Immediately she’s blamed for the death, but she wasn’t the one who did the heinous deed.Godric’s next assignment comes from Hades Personal Assistant, Asha Himm. She wants the ashes of a Phoenix not the fake ones either. When he goes in search of her, aside from the roadblock her friends throw at him, she’s also not at the cafe. He also knows he’s not the only one who wants to kill her, the Ignis do as well. While he wants her to come back, they certainly do not.

When Godric finds Kara she is once again a prisoner of the Ignis. There’s also something about her that attracts him, and he is sure the feeling is mutual.

This book while a bit on the gory side, is a fun read with some heat in more than one way and an interesting outcome.

5 Contented Purrs for Amanda!


Emigh Cannaday

Lyss is a hunter who excels at tracking. Prince Herbert’s brother the Crown Prince has been killed by fire. As a result a team of hunters have been employed by the Prince who is also assisting in the search.

Their first night out and Lyss can’t sleep, she decides to try the thermal pond she saw on their way to their campsite for the night.

This is a favorite scene.

From a distance the surface of the water looked like an expansive sheet of steamy obsidian, dark and opulent, but as I approached its bank it was as if the veneer shifted. The moonlight shone down through the mist to reveal a beautiful, clear body of water, its depths scattered with smooth pebbles and stones. Taking note of the amount of steam rising from the surface, I crouched down and brought my fingers to the water, bracing myself for the stinging burn.

Instead, I was greeted by the velvety-soft texture of warm water.

It was delicious.

“Such a strange place,” I murmured as I kicked off my boots. I took one last glance around, then began to undress. The mist above cleared for a moment, sending a brilliant cascade of moonlight across the lake, and a shimmer of pale light danced around the clearing. Fully naked, I waded into the water until the surface came up to my chest. There was no possibility of carnivorous fish or flesh-eating amphibians living in such heat. My feet slid over the layer of pebbles lining the bottom of the lake. They were slick with algae, and I dug my toes between two large rocks to keep my balance. I took a deep breath and felt my body relax in the full embrace of the warmth.

A breeze rushed through the clearing, rippling the surface of the water in one swift, determined sweep. I noticed some leaves at the edge of the clearing shift more quickly than the underbrush around it. I watched as the branches moved the wrong way, and immediately froze.

I wasn’t alone.

I watched carefully, keeping my eyes trained on the barely perceptible movements through the haze of mist. It wasn’t long before I spotted it.

At first, it was just the shining wet glint of two yellow eyes peering at me from behind the cover of dark leaves. I felt my breath catch in my throat. It was a fire fiend, and I was a sitting duck, a helpless target begging to be torched and torn apart. I considered screaming out for my companions, but it was pointless. Even if they bothered to come after me—and I doubted any of them actually would—I’d ventured too far away from our camp. I could scream my lungs out and there was no chance they would ever hear me. And even if they did hear me…they’d never reach me in time. By the time they’d arrive, I’d be little more than a smoldering pile of ashes.

The creature’s slow movement shifted behind the eyes, and I realized I was looking at a wild boar, not a fire fiend. Still dangerous, but I was a hunter. This was familiar territory. This was what I did.

My gaze drifted over to the pile of clothes I’d left sitting at the edge of the water. My long blade sat perched on the large rock beside them…its sharp edge flashing white in the moonlight, beckoning to me…chiding me for not bringing her along on my moonlight swim. I dropped lower in the warm water until the surface came up to my chin, and slowly drifted at an even pace towards my weapon, hoping not to garner much attention. I began to turn my eyes back to the wild boar and spotted more movement over to my left.


Another one. This one was bigger, with hulking shoulders and razor sharp, glistening tusks jutting out of her lower jaw.

Knowing they traveled in groups—sometimes as many as thirty—I swallowed hard and scanned the edge of the clearing. My thoughts raced as I tried to calculate the different ways this encounter might go. I was running through each of my options when a low grunt rose up from behind.

I turned slowly to see two more boars emerge from the treeline, their thick, muscular bodes moving over the stones and twigs without hardly a sound until they were almost at the edge of the lake. I focused my thoughts, keeping my eyes locked on my blade. I knew their way of thinking, their movements and patterns. I’d seen boars swim effortlessly across rivers to get at food. But would they charge into a thermal lake with water this hot just to attack me? Then again, these were Brimstones boars. Things were different here—maybe the wildlife was different as well? I didn’t know if they would risk the lake to get to me, although if I waited to find out, I wouldn’t have a chance in hell.

There was a distinct crunch in the distance and all four wild boars looked away from me and towards the sound, sensing an unexpected change in the air. I took advantage of the distraction and leapt out of the water, grabbing the handle of my blade as I rolled over the bank, pebbles and rocks imprinting themselves onto my bare skin. A chorus of low grunts rose from the boars as they began to circle me in a cautious, calculating dance.

I turned, slashing the blade in the air in wide arcs. The water ran off my skin as I spun, showering the boars in rogue droplets. I growled back at them, attempting to intimidate them. It didn’t work. They inched closer, saliva dripping from the jowls as their yellow eyes surveyed the softest parts of my body.

A roar erupted nearby and my vision was blinded by white light. Searing flames licked at the tail of the boar in front of me, and it squealed as it whirled in a circle, curling its tail around its rear. Another spiral of flames pierced through the stillness of the night, missing one of the beasts by a hair. Heat blazed across my face, burning my eyes so much that I had to turn away.

When I looked back again, I saw him.

The fire fiend.
Emigh Cannaday. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 2705-2751). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

An overheard conversation and an almost capture cause an interesting twist to this tale.

Action, Betrayal and Heat in more ways than one as this story unfolds.

5 Contented Purrs for Emigh!

Ashes and Smoke

Rebecca Royce & Heather Long

The Knights of Lazarus are composed of orphans, selected and trained to fight demons. They keep humans safe from that powerful evil.

James has just finished dispatching one such demon when the sky exploded with red. He had to go to her now, his Nika needs him.

There were others who would go to her if he were unable, but he would always run to her first. He would collect the ashes lovingly and bring her home.

This is a favorite scene.

With the ashes tucked by my heart, I found my car, parked in the middle of where she and I had been. With a little over twelve kilometers to go to get home in the Erzsébetváros, I had no time to spare. Traffic was low, thanks to the weather, but I pushed the speed as fast as I could manage.

Relief washed through me when I reached our destination. There wasn’t any time to waste. If I didn’t get there in time, what Nika had to go through would be so much worse.

I parked, locked the car, and rushed through the door. We’d bought the ground floor in a synagogue they’d turned into apartments three years earlier and we—and by that, what I really meant was she—slowly converted it into our homes. This was an old part of town, and the spiritual feeling of being in a building where so many had once come to pray wasn’t lost on us. We could both taste the goodness of this place when we’d stepped inside to look. Some found it too weird, but it was the otherness of it that appealed to us. We could really use all the help we could get from whoever watched what we did.

Our upstairs neighbors were musicians who minded their own business. I didn’t even know their names. Nika did. She was better with that kind of thing. My phone beeped as it did every night, reminding me we were minutes from sunset. I kept a constant running tab in our life. It was important I know.

My laptop was open where I’d left it as I’d hustled to get out the door with Nika earlier. There were hours of work to do ahead of me. My clients needed their books managed, and the remote nature of distantly taking care of people I never had to meet appealed to me. Nika was the people person. She spent her days decorating homes in the flourishing homes of the elite in Budapest. She knew how to make things beautiful. Rebirth was in her nature.

I took out the pouch, pouring the contents of it into a dish I’d found when I’d accompanied her to an antique store on a rare Saturday we’d taken off together. It was artisan copper with burnt umber, the design a selection of crisscrossing x and y marks. I didn’t know why it made me think of her, perhaps it was nothing more than the fact that I’d found it when I was with her, but it had seemed like it should be hers, for moments like this.

I checked the time. Less than a minute to go. Then she would sleep for hours, unawakenable until she’d healed.

Stepping back a safe distance, I watched. As I always did. Fear I never acknowledged lodged itself in my stomach, and I ignored the sensation. She would come back. Nika was young. There would come a time she couldn’t do this anymore, when she would stop returning to me. But not yet. Everything we’d read told us there were years before that was a worry.

Still, it did nothing to alleviate the anxiety about exactly when that would be.

Even braced and prepared, the moment the flames began to lick through the ashes and cascade upward in a shower of intense heat and near blind-brightness that I had to blink past tears to see still caught me off-guard. Sweat dotted my brow, but I refused to cede any further ground. I had to be close. I had to be…

The flames spouted up to the ceiling as they consumed every single ash, and as swiftly as they formed, they faded, drawing back until she stood there, poised, bare-skinned as the day of her first birth with the wild tumble of her radiant red hair clinging to her damp skin. For just a moment, her eyes were open and a smile touched her lips.

My heart settled, and I caught her as she fell. Cradling her to my chest, I ignored the heat rolling off her as I pressed my lips to her forehead.


My miracle.

Born from the flames once more.
Heather Long & Rebecca Royce. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 3236-3238). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

Nika’s love for James was as beautiful and intense as his for her. He would always be there for her, to catch her at her rebirth. She wouldn’t ever take his love for granted. Especially now with the sign, the 10 Demons who attacked her causing her to resort to the flames to be reborn. The number…the beginning of the end.

A conclave to discuss the fact they need more knights, lead to the assignment being given to Nika and James. The times, however, will make this very difficult for all involved.

This is a love story for the ages, with action, fear, love, and sizzling heat in more ways than one.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather and Rebecca!

Don’t Flirt with Demons

Grace McGinty

Elsie caught her boyfriend Cade with her boss. In response she quit her job and is drowning her sorrows in a bottle of vodka. In the process she is also burning up a few reminders of him, and setting off sprinklers and alarms. The most surprising though, is the demon she summons. How, she’s not quite sure, but he’s there, naked with swirling tattoos and horns. Then the super shows up.

This is a favorite scene.

He was fucking gorgeous and I was a dead woman walking. I just nodded and walked over to the door in a daze. I opened the door to Frank, the Super. He was a bit of a creeper, and he’d also been friends with Cade, so he was doubly bad in my book.

I realized I was still in my underwear and a tank that said ‘I Woke Up Like This’ when Frank’s eyes went straight to my boobs, then down to my exposed thighs. He didn’t seem impressed and I wanted to punch him in the face and then lick the remaining vodka out of the sink.

Frank lifted his eyes back to my face. “Do you have an open flame in there, Miss Watson?”

I rolled my eyes. “Call me Elsie, Frank. It’s not like I haven’t seen you puking your guts up and crying that Lucy in 6B rejected your petition for a date.”

Frank’s lip curled and I knew he was about to unleash some scathing comment, but then the demon appeared behind me, still only dressed in underpants.

Frank took in my lack of clothes and the demon only clad in underwear and drew the wrong conclusion. A conclusion I was one hundred percent on board with.

“That’s not Cade.”

“No, Frank. This is why they pay you the big bucks. Can’t get anything by you.” The demon’s chest warmed my back, and a shiver rippled over my skin. “As you can see, I didn’t light any fires tonight. Maybe try Mrs Chan next door. Maybe she left her wok on again.” I’d take Mrs Chan a box of those Belgian chocolates she liked to make up for throwing her under the bus.

Frank continued to look between us like he was trying to do the mental arithmetic where you added my thigh dimples to the demon’s well-defined abs and was beginning to realize that something didn’t add up.

But the demon, for whatever reason, ran his hand around my hip and across my stomach, pulling me tight against his chest. He put his lips next to my ear. “Can I decapitate this one?”

I honked out a rather unsexy laugh. Frank’s eyes were as wide as saucers. “I gotta go, Frank. Good luck finding…” The demon growled in my ear and I shivered again. “Whatever.” Then I slammed the door and backed up against it with a thud, putting a bit of space between me and the demon.

He was grinning widely. “Oh, that was fun.” He sighed and shook his hands, and his meat suit went up in flames.

“What the actual hell?” I screeched, as every inch of him was covered in flames. When the fire died down, the demon was back in his own form, naked and horny. I mean, with horns.

I was back to being awkward, and quite frankly, a little spark of fear still churned in my gut. He helped me out with Frank, but maybe it was because he wanted Frank to go away so he could stab me in the heart and eat me.

“Uh, so you’ll be going now?”

The demon laid on my couch. “I thought I might just have a look around. See what everyone is always gushing about when they talk about the mortal realm.” His nose twitched. “I can smell your fear, human. It is unnecessary. I do not intend on doing anything to your person.”

A wave of relief was chased by a small spark of disappointment. I didn’t want to examine that small emotion too closely, but I was self-aware enough to know it had something to do with the fact he was packing a small baseball bat down there. “Uh, oh. Okay, that’s good. Will you be leaving my apartment, then?”

He shrugged, tipping his head back so his shaggy black hair hung over the arm of my couch. “Where else would I go? Eventually, they will come and take me back. But first, I think I’d like to live a little, what do you say?”
Grace McGinty. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 3631-3638). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

Since Ukobach wouldn’t be around long, Elsie decides she needs to live a little too. Uko is the demon of fireworks and fried food what could be better than a road trip to the Texas State Fair.

I laughed a lot in this book, and may have sniffled too. Keep some water handy, Uko and Elsie are definitely hot! I think I need some of the recipes for that fried stuff as well.

5 Contented Purrs for Grace!

Fire Dancer’s Familiar
A Familiar Mates Short Story

TJ Nichols

Prys is a dragon shifter, he is awake to find his mate, a fire witch. Usually this mating would cause him to become the familiar of the witch, but he only wants one thing. He needs the fire witch to wake his sister in her egg so she can hatch. He would then raise her until she finds her own mate to perpetuate their species.

Knowing his mate is near, Prys attends a show to figure out which of the fire dancers is the witch and makes a surprising discovery. He waits until the cast leaves the venue to approach.

This is a favorite scene.

Prys crossed his arms, trying to be indignant, but the glimmer in Aaron’s eyes made it hard. He didn’t want to start liking this witch. “It’s clear you have no idea about anything.”

“You came to me.” Aaron picked up his beer and took a long swallow.

Something he was seriously questioning. Why would the Fates put such a flippant, ignorant young man in his path?

“Who is the egg? Is it yours from a previous relationship?”

“My sister, I’ve been guarding her since I was sixteen.”

Both Aaron’s eyebrows shot up. “Shit. And will she hatch as a human or dragon?”

“What do you think?”

“That I have a fifty-fifty chance of being wrong.”

Prys’s nodded. Aaron wasn’t foolish, just naïve. “Human.”

“So you hatched?”

“Yes.” Dragon shifters laid eggs, but the baby was human, not learning to shift until puberty—the same as every other shifter.

“This is really confusing.”

“Not really.”

“I didn’t even know dragons were real until half an hour ago.”

“But you believed me.”

“I can see the dragon around you when I look closely. All shifters have that animal shape about them. That and that thing you did with your eyes.”

Prys did the slow blink again. Through the dragon eyes he could see magic. Aaron was surrounded in his own private firestorm. It licked over his skin and through his hair. Wild and terrifying and completely at odds with the way he was calmly sipping cold beer.

“Yeah, super weird.” Yet Aaron didn’t look away.

Prys did, he couldn’t hold it in his human form. Partial shifts weren’t easy to maintain.

“It might take me years to find another witch.” And he’d have no familiar bond to assist the search. But it would be better than sleeping and hiding. He needed to wake his sister, so she had a chance. “Will you at least try?”

“And if I fail?”

“You can keep the ring.” Prys nudged it over the table.

“And if I succeed?”

Prys entertained the hope that they could be mates and raise his sister and that he wouldn’t spend the rest of his days alone. But Aaron didn’t want a familiar. It stung to be rejected so quickly. He swallowed and found his voice. “I’ll take her back to Wales and raise her.” There’d be enough ocean between them that the longing to be with his mate would fade, eventually.

“So, I wouldn’t see you again?”

“No. No chance of becoming mates.”

Aaron concentrated on his beer.

It would be for the best. Maybe way back when magic had first appeared, the bond had been a useful thing. Witch and shifter working together, increasing the odds of survival for both kinds. But the bond had left him, and his sister, orphaned. He couldn’t risk his sister being left alone.

“Fine. I’ll look at the egg.” Aaron drained his beer and stood, scooping up the ring and shoving it in his pocket.


“Got other plans?”

Prys finished his beer in a gulp. “No.” If it worked, he wasn’t ready to look after a baby and he had no idea how long he’d have until she hatched. But he wasn’t going to refuse the offer when it was the only one he’d get.
TJ Nichols. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 4449-4486). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

Aaron is the fire witch, he doesn’t want a mate or a familiar. However after meeting with Prys and seeing the egg he’s not sure he can walk away.

A story of devotion, family and new found ties.

5 Contented Purrs for TJ!

Flames and Flowers

Ripley Proserpina

It’s Korey’s birthday, she’s twenty seven today. To celebrate she puts her hair up and even does her makeup. The other waitresses give her a crown to wear in the spirit of fun. After being put down and laughed at by an old male aquaintance she gets quite the surprise. A tall handsome stranger wants a date, but before she could say more than she works late, the kitchen catches fire.

Hayden as he introduces himself, suggests ice cream since she apparently won’t be working anymore today. In spite of her driving herself he insists it’s a date. Even if he hasn’t quite told her the truth about who and what he is.

This is a favorite scene.

He smiled. “Isn’t that what a date is? Getting to know each other on neutral territory? Sweetening what could be awkward and uncomfortable with dessert? Or beer?”

“Well, yeah. But—it’s also trying each other one for size, and I’m no one’s size.”

His cheeks went pink and I realized how that sounded, but for once, I kept my mouth shut. I thought he was smart enough to get what I meant.

“Korey…” My name was a sigh. “You’re my size. I promise.” A shiver ran down my spine again as he watched me. “You’re the one who might change their mind.”

“Doubtful,” I replied. I slid away from my car and shut the door. Holding up one finger, I started to enumerate what I liked about him already. “One: you suggested ice cream for a date, not lunch, so you’re obviously a mind reader. Two: you have kind eyes. I have a feeling that as long as you have eyeballs, I’ll be able to figure out how you feel. Three: you’re taller than me. Four—”

“Taller than you is a point in my favor?” Shoving his hands into his pockets, he lifted his shoulders to his ears like he was embarrassed.

“I’m five feet, nine inches of farm girl. They grew me big and I want to wear heels one day. Actually,” I needed to qualify that, “I want a reason to wear heels one day. Like at my wedding or something.” Abort. Abort. “Uhh…” Eloquent.

The gorgeous man just laughed.

“Four,” I whispered, “you laugh at my jokes and don’t make me feel stupid.”

He stood up straighter, narrowing his eyes.

“This is a conversation that needs ice cream.” Grabbing my hand, he led me into the ice cream parlor and to a high table for two. He pulled out my chair—swoon! and kissed me right on the nose. “Do you trust me to order your ice cream?”

“That’s a make or break question,” I answered. “Are you ready to deal with the consequences?”

He leaned down, pressing his lips to mine and I forgot all about ice cream. This wasn’t like me. I didn’t kiss strange men I just met, but with Hayden, everything inside me said he was safe. I’d spent my life listening to my instincts, and I wasn’t going to stop now.

“If I get it wrong, it just means more ice cream,” he whispered when he pulled away.

“Five: bright side kind of guy.”

Straightening, he smiled. “No one calls me a bright-side guy. That’s all you.”

“I trust you,” I said, meeting his gaze. I meant more than when it came to ice cream, but he didn’t need to know that yet.

He took a couple steps backwards, watching me with this grin that made a squeal bubble from between my boobs to the back of my throat. This guy. This guy was going to wreck me for all other men.

I ran my fingers under my eyes again when he turned around to read the menu above the cash register. My phone vibrated in my back pocket and I pulled it out.

Mom: Where are you?

Uh-oh. She’d probably heard about the grease fire and was freaking out. It would be easier if I just called her to tell her I was okay. Hitting the button to connect the call, I waited for her to answer.

“Korey? Where are you? Are you okay?” She spoke a mile a minute.

“I’m fine,” I replied. “It was just a grease fire. Bill gave us all the day off. I’m in town.” I lowered my voice. “On a date.”

“With who?” she asked, which was a fair question. I hadn’t gone out on a date in over a year, and that one, like every single other date before it, just bored me out of my skull. Or felt wrong. A guy would pick me up and we’d only get two minutes down the road when I wanted the date to be over.

There was a good two or three years before that last date where I’d said no to everyone who asked me.

“His name is Hayden, and he came into the diner.”

“I don’t know any Haydens.” She was about to lay into me. I could tell. Mom used this tone when she was winding up to something. “He’s not a local guy.”

“No,” I answered. “I don’t think so. We haven’t gotten to that part yet. I’ll let you know though.” Hayden was paying and I wanted to get off the phone.

“What’s his last name?”

“What’s with the third degree?” Sometimes the woman was a pill. “Mom. I’m fine. He’s nice. He took me for ice cream and I drove myself. I’ll see you Friday night for dinner.”

There was a quick intake of breath on the other end before silence.

“I love you,” I said to her.

No answer.

“I’ll text you when I’m home.”


“Bye, Mom.”

Hayden turned around, two huge ice cream cones in his hands.

“He’s bringing back ice cream. Gotta go. Love you.” I kissed into the phone. “Don’t be mad!”

I slipped the phone into my pocket as he held out the cone for me. “You okay?” he asked.

“Just my mom,” I replied. “She’s not used to me going on dates. I think I threw her off.”

He opened his mouth as if he has more questions, but then shook his head. I took a lick of the ice cream and groaned. “Cherry chocolate jubilee.”

“It was that or black raspberry.”

He licked his ice cream.

“Either one would have worked. What did you get?”

He held it out to me, lifting his eyebrows questioningly. I wasn’t afraid of germs. Leaning forward, I swiped my tongue over it and groaned. “That’s good. What is it?”

“Vanilla and pomegranate.”

“Yum. I’ll try that next time.”

“So, did I get it right?” He gestured to my ice cream.

“Do you want to try?” I asked. He nodded and I held it out to him. Eyes on mine, he took a long slow lick around the outside of my cones, and now I needed new underwear.

“It’s good.” He had a little spot of chocolate on his lower lip. Without thinking, I reached to wipe it away, but he stopped me. He drew my thumb into his mouth, swirled his tongue over it, and then pulled it out, sucking gently. “But that was delicious.”
Ripley Proserpina. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 4841-4906). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

A sudden tornado changes things and the truth starts to come out. Her mother, father and Hayden have more than a little explaining to do.

I love this twist on Hades and Persephone.

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!

Fleeting Flowers
A Circle of Secrets Short Story

Vivienne Savage

Finally done with the conference he was attending Warren Westbrook stops in to visit his cousin Lana. While there he meets Bridget, a customer collecting a custom scent from Lana. Lana suggests he smell the scent but also warns him Bridget is way out of his league.

When Warren leaves the shop to venture through Central Park to his hotel, he’s attacked by Ghouls. At first there’s only a couple and he could have just transported away. His conscience wouldn’t let him leave them to attack unsuspecting humans, so he battled on.

This is a favorite scene.

It served Bridget right for underestimating a man and assuming right off the bat he’d be helpless. When she caught the whiff of magic in the shop, she’d foolishly assumed it to belong to the proprietors.

Initially, she considered flying away and leaving him to finish.

Her conscience wouldn’t allow it, however. Besides, she liked watching him in action. He moved with confidence and had tight control over his magic. The strange part was that he didn’t seem to be using any sort of focus. At least, none that she could see.

Obviously, he had the situation handled. There was absolutely no reason for her to involve herself. He took hold of the shadows and darkness as if they were his weapons, controlling them as tendrils and spikes with substance. They pierced undead flesh and burst through hearts. There was a beauty to the way he fought the hoard.

She prepared to take flight from the trees when another shifting shadow caught her attention crawling through the growth near the bridge. Damn, how many of them were there?

Putting aside all intentions to let him battle on his own, Bridget swooped from the trees and ignited. Her brilliant scarlet and purple plumage burst into golden flames, radiating heat and light over the ground below.

The man looked up, astonishment evident on his face. The moment was brief, all his focus once again turned on staying alive. She swooped past him and beat at the air with her powerful wings, filling the dark space beneath the bridge with a rolling wave of fire. She soared through the inferno and raked her claws through the nearest ghoul, rending it with the ease of shredding tissue. The foul creature shrieked. It twirled and desperately spun without hope of putting out the flames.

Screaming, Bridget swooped down again and landed amidst the cluster of them with flames trailing from her wings. Each feather lit with the bright intensity of a nuclear core. Built inside her body, reaching blast furnace levels of heat.

One glance at the mage indicated he had the wisdom to recognize her intent. He stepped back and stamped his staff into the soil. Sparks of magic ignited around him and sprang from the stone, erecting and erected a magical barrier. The moment it engulfed him from head to toe in a perfect sphere, she released the flames building inside her.

The closest of the three ghouls went up like tinder, shrieking.

Heat licked against the barrier and crackled. Flames lapped over undead flesh and filled the narrow space beneath the bridge with the pungent odor of cooking flesh.
Vivienne Savage. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 5325-5347). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

What Bridget is also has her being hunted. She knows her time in the big city is coming to an end. While Warren has now seen her he doesn’t actually know her identity.

This is quite the beginning for Warren and Bridget. I think I’ve just been hooked on a new series.

5 Contented Purrs for Vivienne!

Tide Together

Bam Shepherd

Princess Marin of Pacifica is painfully aware that something is wrong. The ocean temperature is rising and fish that would normally be near the coast are being seen further out. She needs to go see what’s happening and help correct the problem. First she has to escape her father. Her friends and guards Bay and Loire will be in on the diversions to help her get to the mainland.

Marin is appalled by what she sees and starts using the river to extinguish flames saving and healing the koala family she finds there. She works until she passes out from exhaustion.

Flint is a smoke jumper, his assignment is to create a fire break to hopefully prevent the spread to a campsite and the homes nearby. He’s more than a little startled to find someone unconscious and being protected by a koala family.

Marin wakens to see the human standing over her and instinctively attacks, she uses too much energy and once again loses consciousness. When she awakens again, Flint has made the discovery she’s a mermaid but is confused because she has legs.

When he sees the bottom of her feet, he turns all professional and treats them as Marin explains why she’s here.

This is a favorite scene.

My heart thunders in my chest. What the hell was that? Is she a mermaid? Or is she a siren? Something about her calls to me. I shake my head, doing my best to clear those unwanted thoughts from my mind, and focus back on my task.

“So, um, you said that Australia is burning. How bad is it?” she asks, her voice sounding breathier than it did before, and I let myself hope that maybe I’m not the only one affected by our touching.

I clear my throat. “Pretty fucking bad.” I wrap a bandage around her foot before motioning for her to give me her other one. “Fires rage in every state and territory, though the worst are here, along the eastern and southern coasts. Nearly a billion animals, like your little koala friends, have died, and thousands of people have lost their homes.”

A gasp escapes her, and I glance up to find tears falling from her aqua eyes. “Hey, don’t worry,” I tell her, brushing the tears from her cheeks. “It will take a hell of a lot more than these flames to extinguish the Australian spirit. They’ll rebuild and rehabilitate. All we need is a little luck…and maybe some fucking rain.”

“This is why I’m here,” she says, determination filling her voice.

I drop her bandaged foot and glance up at her with a confused stare. “Why? Do you control the rain?” I chuckle, a hint of bewilderment in my tone. My knowledge of mermaids isn’t much, but nothing about her statement makes sense to me.

She shakes her head, moving to stand, but I push her back down. “You really shouldn’t be walking on those bandages. You could get an infection if you don’t keep your wounds clean.” I’m not actually sure that’s true, but since my training is only in human medicine and not mythical creatures, I’ve decided to treat this patient the same.

She sighs, but settles back on the rock. “No. I can’t bring the rain,” she admits, returning to our conversation, and a small part of me deflates at her words. It would have been nice to know help was on the way for the people and animals who call this place home.

“But my father can.”

My shocked gaze snaps to her. “What?” She nods enthusiastically. “My father can bring the rain. If I can just make it home and tell him about all that I’ve seen, I’m sure he’ll help.”

“Seriously?” I ask skeptically.

She reaches out to grip my arm and nods again. I ignore the strange feeling that travels through me where her hand touches me and stare into her brilliant blue eyes that are begging me to believe her.

“Okay. So where is home? And how do we get you back?” I ask.

“Pacifica,” she says brightly, but her smile quickly dims. “And I’m not sure.” She bites her lip as she glances down to her bandaged feet. “I don’t think I can swim home, and—” her words cut off.

She straightens her spine, pinning me with a glare before continuing. “If you ever tell anyone I said this, I will deny it…but my feet do kinda hurt. I know that’s weak, but having legs is exhausting.”

“Princess, I don’t think anyone who knows you would ever call you weak.”

She smiles shyly at me. “Will ya help me get home?”

I push to my feet and rub a hand over the back of my neck. “I’m sorry, princess, but I can’t.”

Her eyes turn sad. “Maren,” she whispers.


“You don’t have to call me princess. My name is Maren.”

I smile at her, reaching a hand out. She places her delicate palm in mine. The same tingle races up my arm at the contact, but I do my best to ignore it and place a kiss on the back of her hand. “Nice to officially meet you, Maren. I’m Flint. Flint Atwater. Not a prince,” I say with a wink.

Her cheeks heat, and I drop her hand before clearing my throat. “Listen, I’m sorry. I really wish I could help you more.”

Her eyes brighten at my words and she bounces a little. “Maybe you can,” she says with more enthusiasm. “Ya know, if you help a royal mermaid, you get a wish!”

My brow furrows. “I thought genies were the ones who granted wishes. Wait. Royal mermaid? So, you are a princess?”

She laughs a tinkling sound and points to the crown on her head. “Thought that was rather obvious.”

I grin sheepishly at her, then rub a hand over my face. “Okay. Let’s pretend like I believe in mermaid wishes. Shouldn’t you already owe me one? I mean, by my count, I’ve already helped you twice.”

A blush steals over her cheeks and she bites her lip before answering. “Technically, a deal with a mermaid must be sealed with a kiss.”
Bam Shepherd. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 5724-5775). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

An interesting drive leads to an even more interesting wish as this story continues.

A fun read with serious circumstances around it.

5 Contented Purrs for Bam!

Hades’ Goddess
A Gods and Monsters Short Story

Mila Young

This one starts off with some serious sizzle. Elyse and Hades are lovers and she frequently finds solace from her calling in his arms. However their interlude is interrupted by Hermes, with a message. She’s been invited to a dinner on Olympus. Elyse is a new goddess, the Goddess of Sanctuary is her title. She is a decendant of Zeus, hence the goddess part. She has powers and she’s also found that helping humans can sometimes be like raising a child, lots of repetition until they get it right.

Her friends and supporters include Ares, Poseidon and Heracles, and they along with Hades will escort her to the dinner. What she didn’t realize was Zeus and Hera had decided she should live on Olympus, not on earth. Going so far as to begin building her a palace.

This is a favorite scene.

Poseidon huffed loudly. “I just think it wouldn’t be bad for you to be here with us. After everything you’ve done, Zeus knows you deserve a break, to realize who you are now, to enjoy this heavenly location. And it’s not safe for you on Earth. We still don’t know if you’re immortal and if you die again, we’re all fucked.”

I shook my head, trying to process everything he’d so succinctly laid out, but this was huge and not a decision to be rushed. “So what about the people?”

“Yeah,” Apollo said. “How is she going to do what she does best if she’s removed from the humans she’s saving?”

“You dislike them,” Hades barked in response, staring at me.

I glared at him. Whose side was he on?

“What?” he asked. “You keep complaining how you need a break. Right?”

He wasn’t wrong. I did complain about that a lot. It was one of the reasons we fucked so often lately. I needed the distraction and I felt like of all the gods, Hades understood that side of me the best.

At least, so I had thought. It didn’t look like it now.

“I love the humans,” I said. “I am one of them. I’ve always been a part of that world. Just because I get tired sometimes… You know what that’s like, right? I’m sure you do.”

Hades clenched his jaw.

“I think it’s better if you stay on Earth,” Apollo declared, his voice strong and direct.

“You just want her there with you.” Poseidon’s eyebrows pulled together into a frown.

“Yeah?” said Apollo. “And you’re going to stay on Earth if she comes here? Or are you going to follow? Don’t make it sound like you’re so fucking selfless.”

“Guys, please,” I said, shaking my head. I glanced at Ares, who’d been quiet all this time. He watched us with an expression I couldn’t read, his feet wide apart, gripping his wrist like he was a sentry waiting to be called upon. “What about you,” I asked him. “What do you think?”

He shrugged, his breaths slow and calculated. “I don’t actually give a shit, truth be told.”

I didn’t know why, but that pissed me off so much more. I should have been happy that at least one of them wasn’t trying to tell me what to do. Or picking a fight about it. But that Ares didn’t actually care only made me feel like he wasn’t invested. I knew it was bullshit. Ares worried as much for me as the rest of them did. And our relationship had always been a very strange balance of give and take.

But it annoyed me he just didn’t seem to be bothered where I would be.

“So you don’t care where I end up?” I asked with a bit too much sass in my voice.

“I’m not going to tell you what to do,” he said, staring at me with sincerity in his eyes. That was what I loved about him. He was real and spoke his mind.

I bit my tongue. He’d often been called a coward by other gods and even in historical records because his life views were so different. I wasn’t going to follow suit. But it was looking a hell of a lot like he wasn’t interested in getting involved in conflict. It was fine if it wasn’t something serious, but this was my future we were talking about, and if I relocated, I wanted to ensure all four of the men in my life were okay with it.

I looked at Hades again. When he noticed, he reached for my hand and squeezed it. He was stirring shit with the other gods by saying things that riled them up, but at least he stood on my side with this. He was being a dick by telling me I didn’t like the humans, but he had my back. At the end of the day, he didn’t tell me where he wanted me, but that he longed to be with me.

That was something, and I accepted it.

“I think we need to get out of here.” Hades broke the silence, proving that he was my hero after all.

“That’s the best idea I’ve heard all night,” I replied.

Poseidon looked like he wanted to say something, the corners of his mouth twitching, but Hades pulled me against him.

I glanced back to the table with gods and goddesses. All eyes were on me, and as if sensing our intention, they all popped out of there. My gaze swept to Zeus who remained last, fire burning in his eyes. In a flash, an inferno of fire flared up all around the area, thunder growling in the sky.

Heat licked at my skin. He was so pissed off.

The next moment Hades held me tighter and we were back in my apartment, the others vanishing to somewhere from the burning room.

“Thank you,” I whispered, smiling too widely. Never would I have thought I’d hate being in a heavenly location. “Zeus is not happy, is he?”

He nodded. “He rarely is. And I hate that place, anyway.”

“I know.”

“It’s filled with self-righteous assholes,” he hissed from clenched teeth.

After I had seen them tonight, I started to understand why Hades loathed the place and other gods. I’d always thought his dislike was rooted in jealousy or bitterness over what had happened to him. But I’d never seen so many people in love with themselves in one room together.

I’d never felt more left out, more out of place, more judged. Which was ironic because for the first time, I should have felt like I was fitting in.
Mila Young. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 6301-6352). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

Decisions need to be made but only by Elyse. She is the one who has to decide what is right for her and the humans she’s be tasked with helping. The only thing she is really worried about is losing one of her guys.

A fun read with a lot of twists and turns. I think I need the rest of this series too.

5 Contented Purrs for Mila!

Prequel to Hell is a Harem

Kim Faulks

Redemption made a promise to a dying woman to protect her daughter. He has done just that. When he’s not watching, he’s driving entitled affluent humans around. As this book opens he’s decided he’s had enough and drives rather recklessly. Once arrived he offers the man’s date some advice and walks away. They end up sharing a cab. He checks on the girl he’s protecting then heads to his favorite bar. He’s just ordered a drink, well a bottle and started drinking when he gets a bit of a surprise.

This is a favorite scene.

I drained the glass and then poured another as the door to the bar opened and closed behind me.

I never lifted my head, never cared who or what came through those doors. I was done caring for tonight, done with every fucking thing—

“Gonna offer me one of those?”

I flinched, stilled, my hand wrapped around the cold glass. That slow, unfeeling heart of mine picked up pace as I turned my head and stared into her eyes.

Eyes I’d seen a thousand times inside my head.

“We don’t serve minors in here, so fuck off,” the Orc snapped and stared at the tiny red headed woman.

She opened her wallet and slid it toward him. “Not a minor anymore, so suck it. I want what he’s having.” She jerked her head my way. She was young, full of anger, fire, and goddamn spunk.

“I’ve seen you around, you know?” she muttered, without turning her head my way. “Seen you outside the restaurant. But you never stay long, I wonder why that is?”

One massive brow rose on the Orc before I gave him a nod. An ache flared across my chest, cover fucking blown. I gave the room a casual scan, searching…had she seen others like me?

The Unseelie Prince Absolon filled my mind. Panic filled me, tearing apart that heavy, thick pulse inside my head until all that was left was a scream.

“You think I’m a kid,” she muttered, reached over and grasping the bottle. “That’s okay, you can go fuck yourself like everyone else.”

“You always talk like that?” Stony words slipped free. “Weren’t you raised to speak like a lady?”

“Well, my grandmother says I’ve got too much of my dad in me. But seeing as though the loser ran out on me and my mom before I was born, I’m not one to argue the fucking point, now am I?”

The corners of my lips twitched. I smothered the smirk, biting the inside of my cheeks.

“Besides, being proper is for mortals.” She poured half a glass and then drank.

The wince was fast. Still, she went back for more, gulping this time. I’d never really seen her before, not up close—not like this.

She was the object. The protected…

The bait…

Red hair shone under the glaring overhead lights as she turned toward me. Her gaze never wavered, gold flecks glinting in brown irises as she held my gaze. “You’re cute.”


Not a word that’d ever been used to describe what I was. I opened my mouth to say that exact thing as the squeal of tires rang out.

Gunning engines, and hoots and hollers.

“Goddamnit,” the Orc snarled.

Thunder echoed inside the bar. I grasped the bottle as the Orc lunged forward, slamming his feet into the floor. Glasses vibrated along the length of the counter, before they were caught by others at the bar. Rage spilled out of the beast of a man as he made for the door.

“Oh shit,” Lorn muttered, sliding from the seat and shoving her glass toward me. “Here, hold my drink. I’ll be right back.”

The woman was fucking crazy, lunging after the beast as he busted through the door.

The rest of the bar stopped and stared. No way in Hell were they getting in the middle of an Orc and his prey. I glanced at the glass in my hand. The damn woman was gonna get herself killed. “Goddamnit.”

I slammed the glasses on the counter and lunged from the seat. Screams cut though the bar before a second boom tore through the open air.

Lorn was already barreling toward the Orc as he grasped the back of the Explorer and lifted. Wheels spun as the young males leaned out, throwing bottles and cans at the bartender.

“Come to my goddamn bar!” he roared, veins bulging at the side of his neck with the effort. “Smash my window!”

“Fuck you, ugly ass mutherfucker!” one asshole screamed.

The four-wheel drive was thrown sideways, tires lifted on one side as it started to roll.

“I’m gonna fucking kill you!” the Orc bellowed, reaching through the open window as Lorn lunged.

She landed with a hard thud on his back. “No, you don’t. They’re not fucking worth it!”

He twisted and thrashed. “Get the Hell off me!”

But the damn spitfire was holding on, digging her knees in like this was a rodeo.

The car titled further, and then hit the side, rolling up onto the pavement in front of the bar.

Screams echoed from inside the car. I drove my boots into the pavement as Lorn was thrown. The young punks scrambled out of the overturned vehicle as the Orc strode toward them. “Come around here one more fucking time and it’ll be more than your car I’ll destroy!”

“Get the fuck out of here!” Lorn screamed as the four bolted down the street.

“Fucking bitch!” an asshole threw over his shoulder.

She lifted her hand, and flipped them the bird. “My middle finger salutes you!”

The Orc sucked in hard breaths and leaned over, bracing his hand on his knees.

I glanced at the mess as Lorn took a step closer. “Look, no hard feelings, okay?”

The bartender jerked his head up, dark eyes glinting with rage. Orcs were crazy big and strong as a damn ox, but once they got going, once they were filled with rage, there was no stopping them.

“The woman saved your life,” I growled. “Least you could do was thank her.”

The truth echoed in those dark eyes as he turned to me. There was a glint of fear, as reality dawned. He rose, taking a massive breath and stared down at her. “I’d like to say I wouldn’t have hurt them, but my temper gets the better of me, so thank you.”

She gave a nod, then the hint of a smile, and glanced to the car. “I’d say Mom and Dad will be coming by in the morning to wipe asses and clean up the mess. What’s say we hoist this baby out back and they can pay for the damages or they don’t get the damn car back?”

He took a second, glanced at the car and then the punks running down the street and answered, “Yeah, that’s a damn good idea. Imma call up my buddies and we can clear the street.”

He looked at the car, she looked at him.

And I couldn’t tear my gaze from her.

She turned then, as though she somehow sensed the connection. “Now, about that drink.”

The corners of my lips curled as she strode toward me, eyes alive with energy and excitement, and shoved out her hand. “My name’s Lorn.”

“Redemption,” I muttered without a thought. I was lost around her, utterly and helplessly lost. I couldn’t get my bearings, couldn’t find the words, not the right ones, at least.

She gripped my hand for a second and then made for the open door and stepped through.

“Man oh man,” the Orc stared after her, dumbstruck and smitten. “That one is gonna be trouble. I can see it now.”
Kim Faulks. Flame’s Embrace (Kindle Locations 7161-7234). Maatkare Books. Kindle Edition.

Lorn is more than just a little trouble and Redemption falls hard and fast. The threat to himself great as he lies to Queen Mab.

There’s plenty of sizzle that has nothing to do with flames and the consequences of this relationship has me wanting more.

5 Contented Purrs for Kim!

May Sage’s Bio and Links

May Sage is a USA Today Bestselling romance writer dabbling in different genres. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time with her German Shepherd and her two Savannahs. She loves reading, ballet, running, and cake. Mostly, cake. May Sage also writes fantasy romance as Alexi Blake.

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Seanan McGuire’s Bio and Links

Seanan McGuire was born in Martinez, California, and raised in a wide variety of locations, most of which boasted some sort of dangerous native wildlife. Despite her almost magnetic attraction to anything venomous, she somehow managed to survive long enough to acquire a typewriter, a reasonable grasp of the English language, and the desire to combine the two. The fact that she wasn’t killed for using her typewriter at three o’clock in the morning is probably more impressive than her lack of death by spider-bite.

Often described as a vortex of the surreal, many of Seanan’s anecdotes end with things like “and then we got the anti-venom” or “but it’s okay, because it turned out the water wasn’t that deep.” She has yet to be defeated in a game of “Who here was bitten by the strangest thing?,” and can be amused for hours by almost anything.

Seanan is the author of the October Daye urban fantasies, the InCryptid urban fantasies, and several other works both stand-alone and in trilogies or duologies. In case that wasn’t enough, she also writes under the pseudonym “Mira Grant.” For details on her work as Mira, check out MiraGrant.com.

Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Feed (as Mira Grant) was named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2010. In 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo Ballot.

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Kel Carpenter & Meg Anne’s
Bio and Links
Kel Carpenter is a master of werdz. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s traveling the world, lovingly pestering her editor, and spending time with her husband and fur-babies. She is always on the search for good tacos and the best pizza. She resides in Bethesda, MD and desperately tries to avoid the traffic. To keep up with Kel and her books, join her Facebook Group, Kel’s Krew.
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Meg Anne has always had stories running on a loop in her head. They started off as daydreams about how the evil queen (aka Mom) had her slaving away doing chores; and more recently shifted into creating backgrounds about the people stuck beside her during rush hour. The stories have been there, they were just waiting for her to tell them. Like any true SoCal native, Meg enjoys staying inside curled up with a good book and her furbabies… or maybe that’s just her (sunburns hurt!) You can convince Meg to buy just about anything if it’s covered in glitter or rhinestones, or make her laugh by sharing your favorite bad joke. She also accepts bribes in the form of baked goods and Mexican food.

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Bec McMaster’s Bio and Links
Kidnapped by a dread pirate when she was a child, Bec McMaster was raised on myth and legend, and offered her younger siblings to the goblin king many a time. Unfortunately, he did not accept. Now she writes fantasy romance with a dark and sexy twist, which is almost as much fun. She has a secret weakness for villainous heroes, wicked fae princes and dangerous vampires, though in all her daydreams, she’s the one rescuing them.

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Amanda Pillar’s Bio and Links

Amanda Pillar is an USA TODAY Bestselling Author and award-winning editor who lives in Victoria, Australia, with her husband, daughter, and two cats.

Amanda has had numerous short stories published and has co-edited the fiction anthologies Voices (2008), Grants Pass (2009), The Phantom Queen Awakes (2010), Scenes from the Second Storey (2010), Ishtar (2011) and Damnation and Dames (2012). Her first solo anthology, Bloodstones, was published by Ticonderoga Publications in 2012. The award-winning sequel, Bloodlines, was published in October 2015.

Amanda’s first novel, Graced, was published by Momentum in 2015. The stories Captive and Survivor were also released in 2016, followed by Bitten and Ashes in 2017, and Freedom in 2020. She has also launched the Heaven’s Heart series, which will total six books, with four already out: Deadly Passion, Benevolent Passion, Winged Passion and Ascending Passion available now.

In her day job, she works as an archaeologist.

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Emigh Cannaday’s Bio and Links
Emigh Cannaday lives in Wisconsin with her musician/winemaker husband and a pack of Pembroke Welsh Corgis. She grew up drawing and painting but now uses words to illustrate her elaborate daydreams. When she’s not hoarding houseplants or collecting corgis, she spends her free time testing out new recipes on her friends & family.

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Heather Long & Rebecca Royce’s
Bios and Links
USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
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As a teenager, I would hide in my room to read my favorite romance novels when I was supposed to be doing my homework. I am the mother of three adorable boys and I am fortunate to be married to my best friend. I live in Austin Texas where I am determined to eat all the barbecue in town. I am in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and try to use all of these elements in my writing. I’ve been told I’m a little bloodthirsty so I hope that when you read my work you’ll enjoy the action packed ride that always ends in romance. I love to write series because I love to see characters develop over time and it always makes me happy to see my favorite characters make guest appearances in other books. In my world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.

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Grace McGinty’s Bio and Links

Grace McGinty is eclectic. She has worked as a chocolatier, a librarian, a forensic accountant and finally a writer. Like her professional career, the genres she writes are also eclectic. She writes romance, reverse harem romance, fantasy, contemporary young adult and new adult books. She lives in rural Australia with her crazy family, an entire menagerie of pets, and will one day be crushed by her giant piles of books that litter every room.

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TJ Nichols’ Bio and Links

TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer, TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily. Writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the every day. TJ is the author of the Studies in Demonology series and the Mytho urban fantasy series. Writing as Toby J Nichols, TJ also writes gay action/horror.

With one cat acting as a supervisor, TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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Ripley Proserpina
Ripley Proserpina spends her days huddled near a fire in the frozen northern wilds of Vermont. She lives with her family, three magnificent cats, and a dog she doesn’t deserve.

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Vivienne Savage’s and Links
Vivienne Savage is the pen name of two best friends who write together. One is a former nurse in Texas and the other is a U.S. Navy veteran. Both are mothers to two darling boys and two amazing girls. All of their work varies in steam level, so pop by the VS website for details on which series is right for you!

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Bam Shepherd’s Bio and Links
Bam Shepherd is a part time author, full time badass, who currently resides in Oklahoma. She’s a semi-pro lip sync battler. A little bit hippie. A lotta bit hood. When she’s not creating worlds she spends her time being bossed around by a tiny army that she created, gardening and canning (even though she thinks she’s too young for those to be legitimate hobbies), and listening to 90’s rap. If she’s not creating magical worlds of her own, she’s falling into someone else’s.

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Mila Young’s Bio and Links

Mila Young tackles everything with the zeal and bravado of the fairytale heroes she grew up reading about. She slays monsters, real and imaginary, like there’s no tomorrow. By day she rocks a keyboard as a marketing extraordinaire. At night she battles with her mighty pen-sword, creating fairytale retellings, and sexy ever after tales. In her spare time, she loves pretending she’s a mighty warrior, walks on the beach with her dogs, cuddling up with her cats, and devouring every fantasy tale she can get her pinkies on.

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Kim Faulks’ Bio and Links

USA TODAY & Amazon Bestselling Author of Dark Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Romance! Do you love dark stories, powerful characters, and a thrilling storyline? Then, I’m the author for you.  I’m a Aussie girl who loves stories about the underdogs and the things they’ve done to survive. Nothing is off limits in my books. I love writing bad guys just as much as the heroes and finding that point of no return. My books are usually hot, action-packed, and always… always dark.

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