Lacey’s Warriors – Bondmates Book 6 by Ann Mayburn


Lacey’s Warriors
Bondmates Book 6
By
Ann Mayburn

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Kidnapped from Earth by alien slavers, Lacey had to fight her way to freedom in an inter-galactic gladiator match against the Hive, a fearsome race of psychopaths bent on destroying everything in their path. After defeating the Hive in battle, all she wants to do is return to Earth and her young daughter. But the Universe has other plans.

When Kadothian Warrior Gwarnon was young, he was told by his sadistic, manipulative mother that his Matriarch had died. His blood brother, Chel, had always insisted that she was alive, but Gwarnon had long ago given up hope. When he finds out through a twist of fate that his Matriarch is indeed alive, he is elated. At least at first. Lacey wants nothing to do with them, but Gwarnon and Chel are determined to show her that staying in the Bel’Tan Galaxy and being loved by them is her destiny.

Lacey will have to find a way to bring her worlds together, while protecting both her men and her family from an unseen enemy that is determined to destroy everything she holds dear.

Author’s Note:
It is HIGHLY suggested you read Roxy’s Warriors and Tara’s Warriors first, as there is a slight time overlap with all three books.

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If you haven’t read Roxy’s Warriors and Tara’s Warriors, I suggest you do. Even though it’s not necessary it will make this book more enjoyable to see things as they occurred from those earlier books.

No one was more surprised than Gwarnon when he arrives to help with the earth women’s implants and finds his mate. Well his and Chel’s.

Unfortunately, Lacey is more concerned with getting back to Earth somehow, than in transitioning. Gwarnon and Chel are training her for the upcoming battle in the Baladium’s arena. During one of the epic verbal exchanges between Lacey and Gwarnon, Chel calls a halt, taking Lacey to another room. He felt all the hurt coming from Gwarnon and he needs Lacey to stop.

This is a favorite scene.

“I’m sorry, okay! I know fighting with Gwarnon is stupid, I know it. I know it’s screwing with my training, and that I can’t afford the distraction, but I just can’t help it!” She threw her hands up with a growl before dropping them again. “It’s just…it’s just that I can’t stand it when he gets all cold and closed off. I hate it when he does it, and I just want him to snap out of it.”

Understanding gave him another small clue to her soul as he took a seat in one of the chairs, avoiding the couch.

It would be too tempting to pull her into his lap, and that wasn’t what she needed from him.

And her needs would always come first.

“In order for you to understand Gwarnon, you must first understand his mother.” He gestured to the other chair. “You might want to have a seat for this.”

Frowning, she did as he asked, grabbing a deep purple pillow from the couch and holding it to her chest. “This is bad, isn’t it? I can feel…I mean your face is very expressive, I can see this story makes you sad.”

“It makes me incredibly sad, Lacey, and you can say what you really mean. You feel my sorrow, and that is normal and natural for bondmates.” She looked down and muttered something about not being his bondmate, but he ignored it. “Gwarnon’s mother is a sadist and what I believe you humans call a sociopath.”

Chel told Lacey about some of the mental torture Gwarnon had been subjected to at the hands of his mother, how Lady Melissi could bend people’s emotions to her will, that she was the ultimate manipulator. He briefly described all the years he’d hidden the fact that Gwarnon was his bondmate and told her about Lady Melissi convincing Gwarnon that his blood brother Jerit and Matriarch were dead. If Gwarnon believed he had no future, no Matriarch, Lady Melissi had hoped to finally crush Gwarnon’s will and make him her puppet—something she had been unable to do, even at her worst.

He told her about Gwarnon’s break from his mother’s hold, how their mate had joined the Kadothian Military, despite being one of the few Kadothian males who wasn’t expected to serve. As Lady Melissi’s only child, he could have lived a much easier life, one of leisure where he would have been treated like a prized possession and would never have to face true battle. Instead, he’d worked his way up through the ranks, going on endless combat missions, until he was recruited for a secret branch of the Kadothian military. Then, Chel told a noticeably quiet Lacey about all the good Gwarnon had done, all the personal risks he’d taken to protect people from his mother’s insanity. How they’d secured a small, isolated Territory and made it a secret safe haven for the innocents running from Lady Melissi’s wrath.

“Jesus Christmas.” Lacey looked faintly ill as she said, “Lady Melissi sounds like a monster.”

“Absolutely. To protect his mind and soul from that monster while growing up, Gwarnon learned the less reaction he gave his mother, the less she would torment him. He learned to wall himself off from everything, to feel nothing in order to survive Lady Melissi’s court. Nothing can penetrate the wall he built around himself if he doesn’t allow it. And there are very, very few that get to see the true Gwarnon. With most people, he is as cold and unfeeling as the robot you call him. There are very, very few that have seen him smile—like you have. That have heard him laugh—like you have. Those are the most precious gifts Gwarnon could give you, and those are your gifts to properly cherish…or lose.” He gave her a moment to think about what he’d said before he lowered his voice to a softer tone. “I know you don’t mean to truly hurt Gwarnon when you trash talk him, but you wound him nonetheless. It brings back memories of his mother’s court that he would rather not ever remember.”

Lacey sagged back into her chair, holding the pillow so tight, her knuckles turned white. “Fucking shit, I feel horrible. I didn’t mean to hurt him like that. I was just joking with him. I didn’t know he’d been abused.”

“Just joking?” Chel arched a brow as he laced his fingers together and stared at her. “You were not using him as an outlet for your frustration?”

She gave a dry chuckle and shifted uncomfortably. “You know, my drill instructor used to look at me like that when I did something particularly stupid. Yeah, I won’t bother lying, ‘cause I have a feeling you could tell. I might have taken a little bit of my frustration out on y’all, but I didn’t know Gwarnon would take it personally. I…” Tears shimmered in her gaze for a moment before she blinked them away. “I didn’t know. God, I’m such a bitch. Seriously, I am the last person that would want to bully someone else, hurt them like that, ever.”

“I believe you.” He wanted to reach out and hug away her miserable expression, but he held himself back. “Gwarnon is an exceptional man, alyah, and I swear to you he will be an amazing husband. I know our culture is hard for you to understand without the full knowledge of a crystal implant, but trust me when I say Gwarnon is one of the best men you will ever meet. Despite having been raised in such a corrupt court, he managed to come out with his honor and sense of compassion intact. He sacrifices everything to keep the people his mother rules safe, pretending in public to be under her sway, so he can buy them protection.”

Lacey drummed her fingers on the arm of the chair, her lips thinning out into a frown. “If she’s such an evil person, why don’t they arrest her or whatever?”

“It is extremely complicated, but suffice to say Lady Melissi is powerful, and she uses that power to protect herself. Plus, one of her husbands has precognition. He gets glimpses of the future that further allow her to avoid detection and punishment. Not to mention all the people she has blackmailed, bribed, and bought over the centuries.”

“She sounds like the evil Queen in a fairytale.”

“I am not sure what a fairytale is, but Lady Melissi would indeed make a good evil queen in one of our epic sagas.”

Lacey chewed on her pink lower lip for a moment, distracting him with the desire to kiss her. “And, if I bonded you guys, she’d be like—my mother-in-law? Yikes.”
Mayburn, Ann. Lacey’s Warriors (Bondmates Book 6) (pp. 69-73). Honey Mountain Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Lacey’s apology also begins her transition, which is a good thing since she will need every advantage once she and Roxy are in the arena.

She doesn’t know that her mother and daughter are both on Kadothia, and they only know she is a prisoner of the NevShoo and scheduled to fight an unknown opponent.

Their opponent is the Hive and they win spectacularly. Then things get complicated as more than one group would see Lacey dead, and of course there’s Gwanon’s evil mother.

However there is a spectacular reunion, a trial and so much more in this romantic, exotic and sensual book. Once again I am surprised my kindle didn’t melt from the heat coming off the pages.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Ann!

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Ann Mayburn Ann Mayburn

With over forty published books, Ann is Queen of the Castle to her husband and three sons in the mountains of West Virginia. In her past lives she’s been an Import Broker, a Communications Specialist, a US Navy Civilian Contractor, a Bartender/Waitress, and an actor at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. She also spent a summer touring with the Grateful Dead-though she will deny to her children that it ever happened.

From a young age Ann has had a love affair with books would read everything she could get her hands on. As Ann grew older, and her hormones kicked in, she discovered bodice ripping Fabio-esque romance novels. They were great at first, but she soon grew tired of the endless stories with a big wonderful emotional buildup to really short and crappy sex. Never a big fan of purple prose, throbbing spears of fleshy pleasure and wet honey pots make her giggle, she sought out books that gave the sex scenes in the story just as much detail and plot as everything else-without using cringe worthy euphemisms. This led her to the wonderful world of Erotic Romance, and she’s never looked back.

Now Ann spends her days trying to tune out cartoons playing in the background to get into her ‘sexy space’ and has accepted that her Muse has a severe case of ADD.

Ann loves to talk with her fans, as long as they realize she’s weird, and that sarcasm doesn’t translate well via text.

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Halo – K19 Security Solutions Book 8 By Heather Slade


Halo
K19 Security Solutions Book 8
By
Heather Slade

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After surviving a plane crash and a kidnapping,
I just want to lie low.
But when one of our own goes missing,
K19 Security Solutions needs me,
And I can’t refuse.
I owe them my life.

With a trip to Italy to find the missing debutante,
One thing is certain: she’s in over her head.
I just can’t figure out if she’s a pawn in her father’s game,
Or if she’s helping run the show.

Getting closer to her,
And knowing every curve of her body,
Is the only way to get to the truth.
They may call me “Halo,”
But I’m no saint.
I am going to be her savior, though.

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One of the things I really love about Heather’s books is the way they intertwine with her other series. In this book, the vineyard owner Pia is someone I remember from ‘Grinded’ book 3 in the Invincibles series. It seems Pia can be quite the matchmaker.

Tara is feeling left out and is more than irritated with her friends. It was bad enough when her credit card was declined and Pen bought her plane ticket, but now she is discovering her father is being investigated and her friends think she’s ‘on’ something. At her request, Quinn arranges for her to return home to NY.

Halo and Tackle are best friends and are currently considering joining K19, when a mission comes up they both jump on it, not realizing everything was about to go FUBAR. We met Onyx their pilot in ‘Dutch’ and in ‘Striker’ we see Onyx and meet Corazón there too.

Now back to Tara, when she lands she gets a call from her father’s secretary Vi. She meet with her at her father’s apartment and the next thing she knows, she has a new identity, cash and is on her way to Europe. Essentially, like her father, Tara has just vanished.

K19 gets involved to find her father, but to this crew Tara is most important. Quinn, Ava, Aine and Penelope are worried out of their minds. This becomes Halo’s mission as he travels to Italy.

Ironically runs he into Tara almost immediately at Valentini’s tasting room. Apparently she will be working there and is now being encouraged by the owner Pia to tour other vineyards.

This is a favorite scene.

I set my plate on the table and poured myself a cup of coffee, added cream, and breathed in the aroma. It was heavenly.

“What?” I asked when I sat down and noticed Ben staring at me.

“That sound… you made it a lot last night too.”

“Sound?”

“You’re very… expressive when you like something. It isn’t just the murmurs of pleasure; your eyes roll back in your head a little.” His voice was so soft and sexy I felt like I was falling into a trance.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled.

He leaned forward and rested his forearm on the table, almost close enough to touch. “Please don’t apologize. I quite like it.”

I looked away, unable to speak. It had been a long time since I had any real interest in a man. In fact, Pen had mentioned of it a couple of times. “You might not be so bitchy if you got laid,” she’d said on more than one occasion. A sad feeling, the one that washed over me whenever I thought about my friends, sat heavy on my chest.

“She’s right, you know?”

That if I got laid, I wouldn’t be so bitchy? Had I said that out loud? “I’m sorry, what?”

“You’re at Valentini. No more sad memories.” Ben repeated Pia’s words from earlier.

“There’s no switch to turn them off,” I muttered, surprising even myself. I couldn’t talk about the reasons I was sad, not to anyone, but especially not to a man from America.

He touched the back of my hand with his fingertip. “You’re too beautiful to look so sad.”

I looked into his eyes. “Thank you.”

He sat back abruptly when Pia rejoined us. “Am I interrupting?” She smirked and then winked.

“I think we need to cheer Catarina up,” said Ben.

I looked between them. “I’m fine.”

Pia tapped her cheek. “I have an idea.”

“Oh, no,” I groaned under my breath, and she laughed.

“For you to be really good at your job in Valentini’s tasting room, you should visit some of the other wineries in the area. That is the work you and I will do today. Since it is Monday, our tasting room and many others are closed. This will be the perfect time for us to visit.”

“That doesn’t sound much like work.”

“It’s research. We’ll visit Chianti.”

I stared at her with wide eyes.

“Sì.” She nodded. “That is what we will do.” Pia looked at Ben. “And when your business is complete, you can join us.”

“Pia!” I gasped.

“I’d like that very much,” said Ben.

I looked between them again, incredulous. “I think you should give me a tour of Valentini instead today.”

Pia nodded again. “We will do that this morning. This afternoon, we will go to Chianti. There are two wineries in particular we should visit. Casavetti, which is owned by my father’s sister and her husband. The other, I’m not sure is a good idea.”

“Which one?”

“Vitticio.”

I’d heard of it and would certainly like to visit. “Why isn’t it a good idea?”

“Paolo Vitticio.” When she rolled her shoulders, the expression on her face changed drastically from a frown to a wide smile. “He is married now, so it will be fine.”

I made a mental note to ask about him later when Pia and I were alone.

“It’s a date, then, sì?” Pia looked at Ben.

“Yes. Absolutely.” Ben looked at me.

“A date? Or work?” I asked.

“Both,” answered Pia, grinning from ear to ear.
Heather Slade. Halo (Kindle Locations 608-638). K19 Security Solutions Book Eight.

Halo is enthralled by Tara and wants nothing more than to begin a serious relationship. However, when things turn to the art world and forgeries, she becomes a prime suspect in her father’s problems.

I truly felt like I was touring with Tara and Halo, Tuscany is so beautiful and came to life on these pages. Their relationship is one full of ups and downs, simmer to sizzle and back again.

So many surprises, lots of intrigue and suspense and hair-raising action.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Coming Soon!

Heather Slade

My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order.

I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur.

I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.


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Derailed – The Driven World By Anjelica Grace


Derailed
The Driven World
By
Anjelica Grace

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I want to save the innocent and vulnerable, right the wrongs they’ve faced in their young lives. I strive to give those in our care the love and support they may have never received before.

This mission, my job, brought him to me.

Liam Hayes is the most unexpected, amazing surprise of my life.
He sees me for me, accepts my career, and is just as passionate about saving kids as I am.
He’s perfect.
He’s also hiding something.

I can feel it, but I have no idea what it might be, or what it means for us. I only know whatever it is, it drives him forward, yet seems to hold him back, too.

One child. One case.

It’s what cements our bond. It may also be the one thing that ruins both our lives for good.

When hearts get involved, lines get blurred.
Can we overcome and grow?
Or will our lives be derailed forever?

This book may contain triggers for some people, it deals with domestic abuse and aftermath.

As this story begins, we meet Liam and then Everleigh and get a glimpse of their inner demons. They both have their ways of dealing, Liam by working out or working extra shifts and Everleigh does yoga and has some quiet time on the beach.

Everleigh works for Corporate Cares she, is the lead counselor at the Castle, a home dedicated to the care of orphaned, abused and neglected young girls. That means long hours and sometimes middle of the night calls.

Liam is a firefighter/paramedic, most would see him as a hero, but he doesn’t think so. He gets a big surprise when his lieutenant tells him he would be in the auction at the Firefighter’s Ball.

Although they first meet at a softball game, things don’ really happen until the Auction. Everleigh and her sister attend and without telling Everleigh, Addie bids on and wins the date with Liam. Addie’s crafty and changes things up turning a coffee date into a blind-date with Everleigh instead of herself.

On a professional level they meet up again after Liam and his crew respond to a domestic abuse situation. The little girl, Sky, was unharmed but her mother wasn’t as lucky. Everleigh arrives at the hospital to find Liam with the child. I really loved his interaction with Liam and Sky and how he introduced Everleigh.

Sky becomes a focus in this tale and Liam is very protective of her even though she is officially a resident of the Castle.

That closeness brings him and Everleigh together even more and that relationship just sizzles of the pages. Until Liam royally messes up and puts both their careers on the line.

I couldn’t put this book down.

I hope there will be more in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Anjelica!

Anjelica Grace

Yes, that’s Anjelica with a ‘J’ not a ‘G’. You can thank her parents for the birth certificate spelling mix up, but it makes for a unique and fun story.

Anyway, Anjelica Grace is a twentysomething Denver native living in the same suburb north of the Mile High City that she grew up in. She’s an avid reader, and blogger, turned Contemporary Romance author that has an affinity for crazy socks, Minions, and candy. But not chocolate.

Family and friends are the most important things in Anjelica’s life, but when she’s not with them, you can find her with a book in hand, writing, or studying hard while she pursues her other career dream of becoming a Child Life Specialist.

Still new to the publishing side of things, Anjelica started her journey off in late 2018 by publishing a short story as a part of a Christmas anthology with a group of amazing authors that helped and encouraged her along the way. Once she dipped her toe into the writing waters, that was it, she knew she couldn’t stop or look back again.

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My Apologies!


I am a bit behind in reviews at the moment.
I’ve had some issues with migraine headaches
with the onset of ragweed season.

I am going to post two reviews a day one at 8AM and another at 8PM to catch up.

Again I sincerely apologize for this delay, it was unavoidable.

Carol – Carol Kittie Reviews

 

The Tycoon: An Opposites Attract Romance – A Keeper Book 6 by Melissa McClone


The Tycoon: An Opposites Attract Romance
A Keeper Book 6
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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A brooding CEO,
a loving dog handler,
and a grandmother with a plan….

Tender-hearted Becca Taylor wants to put the past behind her and start fresh. Thanks to her new job caring for the dogs of a very wealthy family, she can do just that. When the feisty matriarch asks her to join in a business venture, Becca believes her goals are within reach. Now, all she has to do is convince her partner’s grandson that their plan is solid. Too bad he hates her on sight.

Caleb Fairchild will do anything to keep his heart and his family safe—which is why the beautiful Becca must go. Her eagerness to help his grandmother is suspicious, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of her motives. However, when the truth surfaces about Becca’s past, Caleb fears he may have misjudged her.

Despite being stark opposites, Becca and Caleb’s attraction grows. Unfortunately, Caleb’s lack of trust keeps getting in the way. Can they overcome their obstacles or will the past keep them from having all of their dreams come true?

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Becca Taylor is a hardworking dog handler, she takes care of all of Gertie’s dogs both show dogs and fosters. Gertie is the owner and retired researcher of a very successful skin care company and with Becca’s help she’s now developed products for her dogs. She wants her company to produce and market it but her grandson Caleb, who is the CEO wants nothing to do with it. They are launching her new baby products and frankly dogs are not humans and would only distract from the company’s focus.

Gertie also has a sort of plan throwing Caleb and Becca together. She thinks they’d be a good match, opposites for sure, but Caleb needs someone to break him out of his self-imposed shell. He’d been conned before and he wouldn’t ever let that happen to him again.

Becca has a goal to become a top dog handler, the launch of the dog care products would do much to finance that. Caleb squashed that but Gertie stepped up and said they’d start their own company for it. Now Becca’s writing a business plan and Caleb is helping but also investigating her. He doesn’t like what he finds.

When he confronts her, he realizes he was wrong about her motives but still has doubts.

This is a favorite scene after that conversation.

Another employee walked by them— the third in the last five minutes. Caleb greeted him by name. “You impressed us with those new label designs, Anthony. Great work.”

“Thank you so much.” The older man with gray hair and wire-rimmed glasses stood two inches taller. He strode away with a proud grin on his face.

“Do you know every single person who works here?” she asked.

“No, but people wear badges,” Caleb said. “That helps with the names.”

Considerate of him, even though he’d accused her of stealing from Gertie. “The employees seem to appreciate your effort.”

“They work hard.” He opened a glass door for her. “It’s the least I can do.”

“Thanks.”

The first time they’d met, his manners had impressed Becca. He impressed her now, despite his accusations. But Caleb Fairchild was the same as every other rich guy. She wouldn’t be taken in by him.

She headed outside into bright daylight and stifling heat, even though it was after seven at night. “The temperature hasn’t dropped at all.”

Two construction workers wearing paint-splattered coveralls and carrying hard hats approached them with tired smiles.

Caleb removed his suit jacket and draped it over his left arm. “Welcome to summer in Boise.”

A neon green food truck idled curbside with a line of customers waiting. The scent of garlic and rosemary filled the air.

Becca’s mouth watered. Through the window, she stared at the noodles and pork being plated.

“Hungry?” Caleb asked.

“A little.” She hadn’t eaten lunch.

“Whatever they’re cooking smells good.”

“It does.”

A siren wailed.

Goose bumps covered her skin. She hated sirens. The sound brought back memories she didn’t want to remember.

Hearing the click of handcuffs lock around her wrists, sitting in a police car, and experiencing the heartbreak of betrayal.

Becca crossed her arms in front of her chest and forced herself to keep walking.

She wished she would forget. She wished others would forget, too. She wished people trusted her.

Not just people. A person. Caleb.

The realization disturbed her as much as the siren.

His opinion shouldn’t— didn’t— matter. If she kept repeating that, she might finally believe it.

Stop thinking about him!

The sound faded into the distance.

She lowered her arms and pointed to a white sign, ten feet in front of them. “This is where I catch the bus.”

Caleb looked around at the few people waiting. “Let me drive you to the Park and Ride lot. I’ll follow you to my grandmother’s place, and we can have dinner.”

Becca’s breath caught in her throat. She opened her mouth to speak, except no words came out. She tried again. “Thank you, but there’s no need for you to go to so much trouble.”

“I have to eat, too.” He whipped out his cell phone. “I’ll see if Grams has eaten.”

Dinner with Gertie, not a date with Caleb.

Becca should be relieved, not disappointed. The guy had serious doubts about her. He was everything she didn’t want in a man. He was likely asking her to make amends. Of course, she’d never said yes.

He flashed his phone, showing her a text exchange. “Mrs. Harrison was going to warm up leftovers for Grams, but she would rather have pizza. Does that sound good?”

“Yes.” The word escaped before Becca could stop it.

Ugh. She knew better. On the bright side, Gertie would be thrilled to have her grandson there again, and Becca wouldn’t have to worry about making dinner tonight.

He typed on his phone. Messages pinged. “We’re all set. Grams will have the pizza delivered.”

Becca glanced at the bus stop before looking at him. “Back to Fair Face.”

“My car is in the parking lot next door.”

“Gertie said parking was available beneath the building.”

“There is.”

This made no sense. “Why aren’t you parked there?”

“I prefer to let the employees and visitors use the closer spots.”

Becca didn’t want to like him. But she did, despite a growing list of reasons she shouldn’t. The guy took his responsibilities seriously.

She sneaked a peek at his profile. So handsome and strong and determined.

A few minutes later, Caleb opened the door leading to a bank of elevators. Cool air blasted her. She stepped inside and waited for him to join her.

“Please don’t think you have to add me to your list.”

“What list?”

“The list of people and things you take care of.”

His eyes widened, and his lips parted. Shock turned to confusion, followed by a blank expression. “What do you mean?”

He might be better at poker than she thought. If Becca hadn’t been paying attention, she would have missed the play of emotion across his face. “It seems like you’re responsible for your grandmother, your sister, Fair Face, and your employees. I don’t want you to think I need someone to take care of me, too.”

“I don’t. You seem capable of caring for yourself.”

She nodded. “But it makes me wonder.”

“What?”

“Who takes care of you?”
Melissa McClone. The Tycoon (Kindle Locations 1289-1339). Cardinal Press, LLC.

Caleb has relationship issues as does Becca. However Becca has moved forward while Caleb’s still kind of stuck.

I love the dogs and the shows, the way Becca helps Gertie build the pet product business and most of all the way this relationship builds. With plenty of ups and downs and I love the groveling.

I can’t wait to see what Melissa comes up with for the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

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Melissa McClone

USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.

With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters.

Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.

Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!

They’re Here! Delta Team 3 – Special Forces: Operation Alpha


Nori’s Delta
Delta Team 3 Book 1
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
By
NT Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Lori Ryan

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He won’t lose her again…

Delta Operative Heath “Woof” Davis has spent years living on the edge. Protecting a State Department official is just another assignment until he discovers that Eleanor Bonham is Nori Duncan, the one that got away. He can protect her from enemy forces in the Republic of Kazarus, but can he defend his heart from the woman who used to be his everything?

She’s not going to fall for a soldier boy…

High school was a long time ago, and Eleanor is no longer the heartbroken girl who ended things with Heath. She doesn’t have time for love, not if she’s going to rise in the ranks at State Department. But Heath is even more handsome than he was back then, and his years in the military have honed him into a man completely unlike the boy she once knew. With his sights set on her, how can she resist?

The mission in Kazarus is as important as it is dangerous. Eleanor and Heath will need to rely on one another if they are going to see the mission through. But will they be able to overcome past pain for the hope of a future?

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This book starts off with a bang as Eleanor arrives in Turkey on her way to negotiations in Kazarus. She was just settling in to wait for the rest of the team when she was approached by a man, seemingly with correct ID. The last thing she expected was for him to be part of an attempted kidnapping.

This is a favorite scene.

Eleanor spotted a chair in the far corner of the long room, well past the noise and chaos of the baggage pickup. It was just the type of quiet spot she needed. If she put her headphones on and focused on the upcoming meeting, she’d get just as much done there as she would if she went to the base.

She’d settle in and then let Beth know where to find her.

“Ms. Bonham!”

Eleanor slowed and searched for the sound of the voice. A man in fatigue pants and a buttoned-down shirt with rolled sleeves approached holding out an ID card.

“I’m glad I found you. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to,” he said in heavily accented English.

“Can I help you?” Eleanor shifted the bag on her shoulder and faced the man.

“I’ve been sent to pick you up. Your assistant’s flight was moved up so she arrived earlier and was taken to the base already. We are to meet her and the rest of your team there.”

Eleanor studied his ID card, looking up to be sure his face matched. She nodded and switched her trajectory, following the man toward the doors heading outside. She’d planned to review the file on Onur Demir while she waited for Beth, but she could do that while the man drove. Hopefully he’d let her work in peace. Most of the time, if she didn’t start up a conversation and gave only short answers to any attempts from the other person, she could get people to leave her alone pretty quickly.

She pulled her phone out as she followed the man. She could at least check messages quickly before they got in the car. The man was guiding her through the crowd, talking about the need to hurry to the base before night fell, though she didn’t know why. Adana wasn’t a dangerous city, as far as she knew.

She kept one eye on the path the man was making for her as they made their way along the walkway and slid her thumb over her messages.

“Ma’am, we should get to the car. There is time for that once we’re on the road.”

Eleanor wanted to roll her eyes but didn’t. Like she couldn’t walk and read at the same time.

As the crowd fell away behind them and they moved further along the walkway to a more isolated area, she opened a message from Beth and read the lines. Beth’s flight was delayed four hours and she wouldn’t be in until the evening. She said that Eleanor should go along to the base without her.

Eleanor’s steps faltered as she looked at the time the message was sent. Ten minutes ago.

So why had the man said her assistant was already at the base?

She looked over at the man at her side and slowed, moving away. “I’ve just realized I should really use the bathroom before we go.”

He shook his head. “There’s no time for that.” He reached for her arm, but she stepped back.

“I’ll be fast. If I don’t go now—”

He didn’t let her finish. This time when he reached for her, he caught his mark, his face going dark as he grabbed her with enough force to leave a bruise.

Eleanor’s heart slammed into overdrive and she felt a rush of panic and fear overtake her. Why hadn’t she called the base to confirm his identity? She knew better than that. Any change in plans should be confirmed in her job. But she’d been so focused on trying to prep for the role ahead of her that she hadn’t thought. Hadn’t stopped to take the time to do what she knew she should. And now she was going to pay for that mistake.

Fear kicked her into action and her self-defense training kicked in. She dropped her bags and twisted, wrenching her arm up and close to her body to pull the man off balance. He kept his hold on her but it had loosened. She turned into him and raised her foot, bringing it down on his knee at an angle. He let out a cry and she shoved as hard as she could before turning to bolt.

She ran, then, ignoring his shouts as she tried to get back to the busy section of the airport where she might get help. Blood rushed in her ears and she couldn’t get her body to move fast enough. It felt like she was swimming through mud with concrete blocks where her feet should be.

It was then that she realized there was more than just his shouting she was hearing. Someone else was calling to her. Eleanor looked up to see three large men running at her and she froze.

These guys weren’t like the man she’d just escaped from. With his medium height and build, he’d been hard enough to evade, even with the training she’d had. These men were a different story altogether.

If these men got hold of her, she’d be done. Each of them was bigger than a truck, well-muscled, and from the looks of them, a hell of a lot more skilled than the man behind her. It was in the way they moved. That loose-hipped swagger that said they knew damned well how to take apart anyone who got in their way. The confidence that oozed off of them, telling the world to move out of their way, or else. And it was an or else they were fully capable of following through on.

She needed to move. Now!

She couldn’t go backward so she swerved and headed toward the side of the terminal. Maybe she could evade them until she made it back toward the crowd and then lose them somehow in the fray.

Part of her knew that wasn’t remotely possible, but she wasn’t about to stop trying. She had to keep moving. If she didn’t, they would get her and this— whatever this was— would end badly.

“Eleanor!”

Her lungs burned and she knew she was sucking in air way too fast. She was going to hyperventilate.

“Nori stop!”

This time, something about the shouted name began to chisel through the terror and panic. No one called her Nori.

At least not anymore.

Before she could piece together the disjointed memory of another time and place with what was happening here, she lost her footing. Her shoe caught on something and she was falling.

“Nori stop!” came the instruction again, command behind the tone.

Eleanor couldn’t stop. She pitched forward, putting her arms out as the ground rushed toward her.

But she didn’t land on the concrete as she thought she would. Strong arms caught her. She began to kick and punch out at the man who held her, knowing that to give in would mean they’d have her. If they got her away from here, she’d never get away. Hell, it might mean her death. She didn’t face danger every day in her job, but there was always the possibility of it.

“Nori, it’s Heath. It’s Heath Davis. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”

Eleanor froze again as his words broke through the haze surrounding her. Heath?

She couldn’t make sense of the name, so out of place in her world now. So unexpected.

She looked up into the glass-green eyes of a man she never thought she’d see again. And certainly not in the middle of a kidnapping attempt outside a Turkish airport.

Whether it was the stress of the moment, the shock of seeing him again, or the insanity that now seemed to be firmly taking over her battered mind, she let out a garbled half-laugh, half-cry. Then she did the only thing she could in that moment.

She let herself slump into the hold of a man she’d once thought she’d loved. Once, a very long time ago when she was a very different person.
Lori Ryan. Nori’s Delta (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Delta Team 3, Book One (Kindle Locations 165-222). Aces Press, LLC.

Heath ‘Woof’ Davis has known Nori for a very long time. Now his team has to keep her safe while she does some crazy negotiations with Demir at his Kazarus compound. Her team would be met by another Delta team and they would meet up the day before the meetings are to begin.

In spite of trying to keep things completely professional, Woof and Nori have an attraction that can’t be denied. Even when things go FUBAR.

Plenty of suspense, intrigue and some sizzling heat!

5 Contented Purrs for Lori!

Lori Ryan

Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance with steamy love scenes and characters you won’t want to leave in the pages when the story is over.Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and ​has fallen in love with writing.

​She is the author of the Sutton Capital Series; the Heroes of Evers, Texas; and the Triple Play Curse Novellas, a set of novellas with sexy baseball players at their core as part of Bella Andre’s Game For Love Kindle World. She has also published in Melanie Shawn’s Hope Falls Kindle World and in Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Kindle World.

She lives with an extremely understanding husband, three wonderful children, and two mostly well-behaved dogs in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing. She loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog.


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Destiny’s Delta
Delta Team 3 Book 2
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Becca Jameson

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It’s been twelve years
since she picked the wrong brother…

Destiny Fisher is ready to move past the guilt and shame of losing a fiancé to the war in Afghanistan twelve years ago. She never should’ve said yes to his proposal in the first place, and she’s been plagued by her choices for over a decade.

She was his biggest regret…

Trent Dawkins has been married to the army ever since he walked away from his brother’s funeral…and the woman he loved. Delta Team Three is his family. Destiny has avoided him for all these years. Does seeing him remind her of his brother?

Can the two of them face their demons
and move forward?

A chance encounter leads to a flood of emotional baggage. Neither of them is certain they can repair the damage. There are so many obstacles. Distance, secrets, a threat to Trent’s life… Maybe they weren’t meant to be.

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Trent ‘Zip’ Dawson hasn’t had any interaction with Destiny since his brother’s funeral. Actually since she got engaged to his brother. He was in love with her back then and still is.

When he sees her at the Ugly Mug he’s determined to talk to her, maybe become friends again, something other than this nothing.

This is a favorite scene.

He grabbed her forearms when it seemed she might fall into him, though half of him thought he should have simply let her collide with his chest. At least he would have gotten a chance to find out what she would feel like against his body.

“I’d rather you look me in the eye and talk to me for a few minutes. We’ve been dancing around each other awkwardly for twelve years. I miss our friendship. I know my brother’s death was hard on you. It was hard on me, too. I miss him every day. Can’t we talk about it instead of ignoring it?” He had no idea why he was pushing her. This was probably a bad idea, especially since she’d done several shots.

She stiffened, grabbed his shirt, and tipped her head back to look him in the eye. “No, we can’t fucking talk about it.” She shook her head, which made her tilt to one side again.

He grabbed her waist and held her upright. She was drunk, but her tone shocked him. “Why not?”

She glared at him. “Are you really that dense?”

Apparently, but he didn’t get a chance to respond because she kept talking. Her words came out so fast that he could only stare at her with his mouth hanging open.

“Don’t you get it? I can’t be around you.” She shook her head hard. “Ever. Not ever again. It hurts to even look at you.” Her eyes brimmed with tears.

Trent couldn’t breathe. He’d been right. She missed his brother so much that she couldn’t face Trent.

“I was in love with you, Trent. I was in love with you, and you never knew it. I fucked up my entire life when I agreed to marry your brother. I never should have gone out with him on that first fucking date. It was you I wanted.” Her voice was cracking and loud, but the bar was too noisy for anyone to hear her.

Trent sucked in a sharp breath. He couldn’t process her words. His brain wouldn’t keep up.

She didn’t stop talking, her words spilling out with alarming clarity as if she were no longer under the influence of several shots. “Sean was so nice and so sweet and I knew how much he liked me. So, I said yes when he first asked me out. And I kept saying yes for months. And we kept dating. And you stopped talking to me and hardly looked at me. And everything changed between us. And I missed you so much it hurt. And I wanted you to see me. And you didn’t. And then your brother asked me to marry him before he left for boot camp, and I was stupid and said yes because I knew it was expected of me.

“Your mom was so in love with the idea of me marrying Sean that she never stopped grinning. I think she had china patterns picked out before he asked me. And you didn’t want me. So, I thought I should just do it. But it hurt. It ruined everything. The three of us were inseparable for thirteen years and then boom. It was over. And I had been feeling differently about you for over a year by then. And you didn’t feel the same. And I didn’t know what to do. And I made bad choices. And I have to live with them.”

Trent swallowed hard. My God. Oh my God.

Her small fingers fisted in his T-shirt and she shook him. Tears gleamed at the corners of her eyes. Her voice was hoarse and filled with emotion. “And now the entire damn town feels sorry for me. For the poor girl whose heart was broken when her high school sweetheart went off to war and was killed before we made it to the altar.” She gave a sardonic laugh and continued. “If they only knew how many other things we didn’t do before he died.”

Fuck.

“So, no. We can’t be friends, Trent. Not ever. And I can’t look you in the eye because frankly, I’m still half in love with you. And you don’t feel the same, and it hurts so badly that I can’t breathe when we’re in the same room. So, please. Let me go on with my stupid miserable life. If you see me again, turn the other way.” Those last words came out on a sob, the tears finally falling.

She sagged against him now, her forehead on his chest.

He wrapped his arms around her and held her tighter than he’d ever held another human in his life. Fuck me. He tried to process everything she’d just said, but it wasn’t possible. He needed hours. Days.

Destiny hiccupped and then groaned, shoving him back. “I’m gonna puke.” She turned and rushed toward the restrooms.

Trent followed her, staying right on her heels as she passed the line of people waiting, shoved the next person out of the way as someone left one of the three unisex bathrooms, and lunged for the toilet, reaching it just in time.

Trent grabbed her hair and held it back, waiting while she emptied the contents of her stomach. It took a while, which didn’t surprise him considering how much she probably drank.

“Is she okay?”

Trent turned to find one of her friends squeezing into the small room. The door was standing wide open and several people waiting in line had backed up.

“How much did she have before I approached?” Trent asked the blonde.

“Several shots.” She grabbed a handful of paper towels, dipped them under the faucet, and handed them to Trent as if he were in charge of this disaster. And she was not wrong. He was. In a perfect world, he would be in charge of everything that related to Destiny for the rest of his life.

He was still processing everything she’d told him, but he knew one thing for sure— she was not alone. And he needed to make sure she got that through her head.

He crouched beside her and wiped her face with the wet paper towels. She moaned as she slowly stood and met his gaze for a moment. “Shit,” she muttered.

The blonde spoke again. He tried to remember what her name was. Christa maybe. He hadn’t been paying close attention to all their names when they’d been introduced. “We have a hotel room. I’ll tell the girls we need to leave.”

He shook his head. “No. You stay. Enjoy yourselves. I’ll take her to my place. Let her sleep it off.”

Christa held his gaze, chewing on her bottom lip, considering his words. “I don’t think she would like that.”

He chuckled as Destiny leaned into him, grabbing his waist to remain upright. “I’m certain you’re right, but it’s the right thing to do. And we need to talk. Des and I. It would seem we should have done so years ago. We’ve both been living in separate Mansions of Misery.” He had little doubt her posse was well aware of how Destiny felt about him, especially judging by the look of hesitation on her friend’s face. “Don’t worry. I won’t touch her. I’ll fill her with ibuprofen and water and put her to bed. I’m not an asshole.”

Christa nodded. “Okay. You’re sure?”

“Positive.” For once in his life, he was certain of something when it came to Destiny.
Becca Jameson. Destiny’s Delta (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Delta Team 3, Book Two (Kindle Locations 238-290). Aces Press, LLC.

Obviously, the conversation doesn’t go quite as Trent expected and leads to even more questions. To top it off he was compromised on his last mission and Demir has sent his brother on the mission to find Trent and kill him.

Keeping things from his parents is one thing but this new relationship with Destiny really deserves better. Clandestine meetings away from his home are perfect for now, at least they were until Destiny finds out he’s not out of the country on a mission. He’s right there in Killeen.

Lots of relationship ups and downs, and some hair-raising moments for Trent and his team as well as some sizzling moments with Destiny.

5 Contented Purrs for Becca!

Becca Jameson Becca Jameson

Becca Jameson is a USA Today bestselling author of over 90 books. She is most well-known for her Wolf Masters series and her Fight Club series. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and Goldendoodle. Two grown kids pop in every once in a while too! She is loving this journey and has dabbled in a variety of genres, including paranormal, sports romance, military, and BDSM.

A total night owl, Becca writes late at night, sequestering herself in her office with a glass of red wine and a bar of dark chocolate, her fingers flying across the keyboard as her characters weave their own stories.

During the day–which never starts before ten in the morning!–she can be found jogging, running errands, or reading in her favorite hammock chair!


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Gwen’s Delta
Delta Team 3 Book 3
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
By
Lynne St. James

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Shy bookstore owner Guinevere Dedmond resigned herself to living her dreams through the pages of the books she sells. But when she receives a mysterious call demanding she pay ransom to save her parents, her comfortable world erupts in chaos. Panicked, she turns to the sexy soldier who swept her off her feet, not knowing he’s part of an elite spec ops team.

Luke “Merlin” Forest and his Delta Team are no strangers to uncovering terrorist plots and stopping them, but when he discovers Gwen’s parents are involved, the risks and stakes get a lot higher. His sexy bookworm has given him a taste of stability that he’s never had before, and this mission threatens to blow that relationship out of the water. Risking his life has always been part of his job—but it just got personal.

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We met Gwen in Destiny’s Delta, she runs a book store named Camelot in Lancelot, Texas for her grandparents. They keep insisting that she take more time off, go out, meet people but Gwen’s perfectly happy with her life the way it is.

Her grandmother was with her in the shop when Luke ‘Merlin’ Forest comes in to browse their rare books. Grams is a bit of a matchmaker.

This is a favorite scene.

“Grams, I think I hear Gramps calling your name.” She had to do something to get rid of her before she drove the poor man out the door.

“I don’t—”

Gwen cocked an eyebrow.

Grams sighed. “Oh, all right. It was nice meeting you, Merlin. I hope I see you again soon.”

“I’m sure you will, Miss— Becca.”

“I’ll just refill this,” Grams said as she took Gwen’s unfinished lemonade and went through the doorway.

Gwen shook her head with a smile. “I’m sorry about that, Luke, or do you prefer Merlin?”

“Either is fine. Does anyone call you Guinevere or just Gwen?”

“Usually Gwen. My family has a few other nicknames, too, but I’m not sharing those.” She smiled as she saved her work and closed the laptop. The website would have to wait. “Did you come in for something in particular?”

“No, not really. It surprised me to find a rare bookstore so close to Killeen. Usually, I’m lucky to find a bookstore at all.”

“I’m not surprised. We’re a little out of the way, but Lancelot was a pull my grandparents couldn’t resist.”

“I totally understand. I bet they have a wonderful story equal to any of the King Arthur tales.”

“Oh they do, and if Grams has a chance, you’ll hear all about it,” Gwen said with a smile. “Can you really do magic?” The question popped out before she could stop it. Grams must be rubbing off on her.

Luke grinned. “Sorry, no magic. My teammates came up with it. They think I have a weird intuition thing that helps keep us out of danger. At first, they chose Warlock, but I threatened to kick their asses, and they decided on Merlin.”

“I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t want Warlock for a nickname, either. Are you in danger a lot?” Damn. She was turning into Grams. “I’m sorry, forget I asked. I don’t want you to have to kill me now.” Gwen could stare at him forever, but it turned her brain into mush and stupid stuff kept coming out of her mouth.

He chuckled; it sent shivers down her spine. “You’re safe and much too beautiful to kill.”

At this rate, it would take hours for Gwen’s cheeks to return to their normal color. “Thank you, but you don’t have to flirt to get a discount,” she said with a smile as she placed her reading glasses on the desk.

His eyes darkened to a molten caramel. “I don’t know who you’ve been dating, but they must be blind.”

If he was as good at everything else as he was at flirting, she might be in trouble. His deep voice raised goose bumps on her arms, and her palms dampened. As she watched his lips, she wondered what it would be like to kiss him.

“Nope. I’m just your average, geeky bookworm.” Gwen shrugged. There was no way a guy like him would be interested in her. But he’d definitely fuel her fantasies for a while.

“I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. I’ve been around the guys too much.”

“Nothing to worry about, it’s just me.”

“You should take her out,” Grams said from the other room.

Oh, my God. What is wrong with that woman?

“I’m so sorry…” Gwen ran her hands through her hair before she could stop herself. It was probably standing up in twelve different directions. Attractive.

“I was getting there, Becca, you just needed to give me a little more time,” Merlin said with a twinkle in his eyes.

Why wasn’t there an ejection button? Wait until she told her best friend, Belle, that her grandmother was making dates for her.

“I’m sure you have better things to do.” Gwen gave Grams the evil side-eye through the wall.

“No, I don’t. It’s my first day off in months, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it. Picking your brain about books would be more fun than I’ve had in ages.”

Maybe if she relented and agreed, he’d leave, and she could try to recover some of her self-esteem. “I guess we could go for coffee sometime.”

“You could go now. Gramps and I will watch the store.”

Merlin leaned close to Gwen so only she would hear him. She caught the scent of mint and the outdoors. It was like inhaling sunshine.

“Looks like you don’t have a choice. I promise I don’t bite… much.” Then he winked as he pulled away.

She hadn’t blushed this much since she was fifteen. There was something about him that turned her to mush. She wanted to say yes, even if it mortified her that Grams had pushed him into asking. It wasn’t like it would be a hardship to go out with eye candy like Luke. Plus, if she were honest, she wanted to learn more about him— a lot more.

Besides, Luke was right. If she didn’t go, Grams would spend the rest of the day telling her what a mistake she’d made.

After a quick smile, he said loud enough that Grams would hear, “I have a couple of unicorn books I’ve been hoping to find. We can talk about them while we have our coffee.”

It was the perfect motivation, and somehow, he knew it. Luke Forest was definitely too smart, and that smile… Oh. My. God. There was no way she could resist it.

“Okay, Grams. We’ll be at Beans. Call or text if you need me.” “I won’t. Have a wonderful time,” Grams yelled from the back room. Before Gwen could grab her purse, Gramps came out from the back with an enormous grin on his face. God save her from her matchmaking grandparents.

“I’ll talk to her while you’re out, Gwenie-bee,” he said as he dropped a kiss on her forehead. Then he gave Merlin the look over and nodded.

Merlin nodded back— it was probably some kind of military thing. “I’ll bring her back soon.”

“No need to rush,” came the voice from the other room.

Gwen couldn’t hold back the eye roll.
Lynne St. James. Gwen’s Delta (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Delta Team 3, Book Three (Kindle Locations 168-216). Aces Press, LLC.

If Gwen thought her grandparents were bad they have nothing on Merlin’s team. In fact Zip and Destiny show up at the restaurant where they are having their first real date.

Things turn from fun to intrigue and suspense when Gwen’s parents are kidnapped. They were supposed to be on a buying trip in Egypt but had gone off from their itinerary. When Merlin’s team gets put on alert, things get more intense as Merlin has to keep a lot of things to himself.

With the CIA involved, you know there’s going to be some FUBAR moments and boy are there.

I love this story, with all it’s Arthurian references, Merlin’s books and OMG the sizzling heat!

5 Contented Purrs for Lynne!

lynne-st-james  Lynne St. James

Lynne St. James lives in the mostly sunny state of Florida with her husband, two dogs and two cats. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, taking pictures and sometimes even cooking, which makes her hubby really happy.If Lynne had her way she’d travel all over the world and set a new book in each place she visited. Maybe someday!

Addicted to coffee if she’s not at her desk you can usually find her hovering over her Keurig coffee maker waiting for the next cup to be ready.

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Ivy’s Delta
Delta Team 3 Book 4
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
By
NT Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Elle James

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After years of resisting his teammates’ good intentions, big, bad and cranky Delta Force soldier, Magnus “Duff” McCormick, agrees to a blind date. Memories of his wife who died on their honeymoon derail his date with the beautiful redhead his friends introduce him to. When his date is attacked and almost stolen away, Duff comes to the rescue and sticks to her like glue, memories be damned.

Newly free-spirited Ivy Fremont, daughter of a senator, gave up her career as a lawyer to own and operate a gift shop, where mistakes won’t cost anyone his or her life. When her world is turned upside down and her life is threatened, her blind date and his team of Deltas launch a mission to Costa Rica to save her.

During their escape from a gnarly drug cartel, Ivy and Duff learn they have more in common than just their friends’ desire to get them together. Passions flare and walls around one intrepid soldier’s heart come tumbling down. They find in each other a reason to live and fight to give love a chance.

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At the end of Gwen’s Delta we see Magnus ‘Duff’ McCormick save a women from a fall in Gwen’s bookstore. In response she gives him a kiss that unsettles him, in this book we find out who that woman is.

Gwen has set up her best friend Ivy with Duff, it’s a party for someone leaving another team, but all of Merlin’s team will be there. Ivy is unsure about all of this blind date stuff and ironically so is Duff.

In spite of the eyes on them they dance and talk, but then Duff leaves abruptly. With Duff gone, Ivy doesn’t want to stay around either. Merlin escorts her to Gwen’s car and then returns to the bar. Neither of them notice Duff is still hanging around and it turns out it’s a good thing he was.

After Merlin returned to the bar, Ivy is attacked.

This is a favorite scene.

Then the man pushed away from his seat and hit Duff in the gut with his shoulder, sending them both away from the car.

Now on relatively equal footing, Duff’s hand-to-hand combat training kicked in. He twisted the man’s arm around and spun him to face away, shoving the arm up between his shoulder blades.

The man kicked out behind him, catching Duff’s ankle, making him loosen his hold to maintain his balance. He dove to the ground, jerking his hand free.

Before Duff could grab him, he rolled to the side, scrambled to his feet and ran into the shadows.

Duff started after him but stopped, afraid that if he went after the man, he’d circle back and get away with the car and the precious cargo in the trunk.

Duff ran back to the car and reached inside to trigger the latch release for the trunk. When the lid opened, he hurried around to the back.

Ivy sprang up and swung her fist, smashing it into Duff’s jaw. The blow stung, but Duff was pretty sure the force of her punch hurt her hand more than it hurt his face. “Hey, it’s me.”

She blinked several times, focused on his face, and raised her arms to him. “Oh, thank God.”

He lifted her out of the trunk and held her close, his pulse only just beginning to slow as a residual tremor shook his body with the aftereffects of almost losing her to a thug.

“I didn’t think I’d get to you in time,” he admitted. “I didn’t think anyone would miss me until it was too late,” she whispered, her breath warm against his neck. “Thank you.”

He buried his face in her hair, his arms tightening around her. For a long moment, they remained locked in each other’s embrace.

Duff would have held her even longer, but she spoke.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

“I should be asking that,” he said, leaning back to peer at her face. “Looked like he hit you pretty hard.”

She raised a hand to her temple where a lump and bruise were forming. “He did. I think he knocked me out. When I came to, it was dark. It took a moment for me to remember where I was. About that time, the trunk opened. I thought it was him coming back.”

She looked up into his face. “I hit you pretty hard. Are you sure you’re okay?”

He chuckled. “I’ve been hit harder. I’ll live.”

She cupped his cheek gently. “You’re going to have a bruise.”

“It’ll match yours.” He looked up. “We should call the police and report this incident. They might be able to trace the car and gather fingerprints.”

She nodded but didn’t move her cheek from where it lay against his chest. “I guess that means we have to go back inside.”

“Or we could use my cellphone and call from here,” he suggested.

“Yes, please. I don’t want to cause a stir.”

“Sweetheart, you didn’t cause it. Whoever that was who attacked you did.” He let her legs slide to the ground and held her with an arm around her waist, pressed against him while he pulled his cellphone from his back pocket and dialed 911.

After he reported the attack to dispatch, he brought up Merlin’s number. “I’m going to let the guys know what happened. Are you okay with that?”

Ivy glanced around the back alley behind the bar and shivered. “The more the merrier, I always say. Or would it be closer to the truth to say there is safety in numbers?”

“Safety rules.” He hit the call button and waited for Merlin to pick up.

“Miss us already?” Merlin answered.

“Need backup. Outside behind the bar. ASAP.”

Merlin didn’t question. “On it.” A moment later, the back door burst open and his team piled out.

“What happened?” Merlin asked.

Gwen appeared behind him. “Oh, dear God, Ivy!” She rushed toward her friend. “Are you okay?”

Ivy nodded. She didn’t move out of the circle of Duff’s arm. If anything, she leaned into him, and he liked it. “I’m okay. Thankfully, Magnus was here.”

Duff explained what he’d seen and how he’d responded.

“Son of a bitch,” Merlin muttered. “He might still be out there.”

Immediately, they split up and searched the alley, going around the nearby buildings, bushes and shrubbery in yards close to the bar.

They returned, each shaking his head.

Merlin stood in the glow from the bulb over the back door of the bar. “Why would he go after Ivy?”

“Good question,” Duff answered. “Could be a crime of convenience. Bastard could have been waiting for any female to exit the bar alone.”

“I should have stayed outside watching until she got clean away,” Merlin said. “I thought she would be all right since she was inside Gwen’s car, all the windows rolled up. Hell, she was pulling out of the parking lot.”

His team automatically turned, forming a perimeter around them. A siren blared, getting louder, heading to their location. Zip ran to the front of the building and directed the police and an ambulance to the rear where they waited.

The policemen questioned Ivy and Duff.

“The car was stolen,” the policeman in charge of the scene said. “We’ll take it to the impound lot and dust it for prints.”

Emergency medical technicians checked Ivy and Duff. Ivy shook her head when they asked if she’d wanted them to take her to the hospital.

“We’ll get her to the ER,” Duff said.

“I don’t need to go to the ER,” Ivy insisted.

“Oh, honey.” Gwen touched her arm. “You were knocked unconscious. You could have a concussion.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Duff’s arm around her waist tightened. “You’re going.”

She stiffened in his arms and frowned up at him. “You’re not my boss or my mother.”

“No, but you don’t have a vehicle.” He nodded as a couple of wreckers arrived.

“I could drive Gwen’s car,” she said. “It’s only a broken window and seatbelt.”

Duff shook his head.

“He’s right, Ivy,” Gwen said. “At the very least, let the ER doc decide if you’re fine.”

Ivy drew in a deep breath and let it out. “Okay.”

“Merlin and I can take you,” Gwen offered.

“I’m taking her,” Duff announced.

Ivy leaned into him. “He saved my life. I trust him to get me there.” Her brow puckered. “If it’s not too much trouble.”

“It’s not.” Duff’s arm remained around her waist. So far, she hadn’t objected, and he wasn’t letting go. The image of the man hitting her and dumping her in the back of the car stuck with him, making his chest tighten.

He couldn’t help thinking about what might have happened if he hadn’t gotten to her fast enough. If he’d left before she’d been attacked.

The scenarios that could have been triggered those feelings of desperation he’d had when he’d tried to find Katie in the water after their boat capsized. He’d dived down numerous times, to no avail. He hadn’t been able to save Katie, but he’d been there for Ivy.

He didn’t want to let her go, afraid something else might happen to her if he did.
Elle James. Ivy’s Delta: Delta Team 3, Book Four (Kindle Locations 563-624). Aces Press, LLC.

This really is just the beginning for Ivy and Duff. He insists on staying with her to follow concussion protocols. In the process they both learn a lot about each other.

However it’s Ivy’s mother that sort of puts some clarity on Ivy’s attack. It seems the senator is causing waves regarding sales of firearms to send across the border.

Plenty of action, suspense and sizzle in this page-turning read.

5 Contented Purrs for Elle!

Elle James Elle James

Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.

As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!

Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.

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Hope’s Delta
Delta Team 3 Book 5
Special Forces: Operation Alpha
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Riley Edwards

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Hope Mitchell lived her life on the outskirts, no attachments, no friends, no family. All of this by design. All of it because she knew the pain that came when you lost someone who meant something to you. She’d sworn off men long ago, the last time she fell in love she’d invited the devil into her heart and she’d lost, huge. That was to say, she knew better than to let the larger-than-life Delta Force operator into her life. Hope recognized the risk but Beau had promised her he would fight for her and he did—until he left her more broken than he found her.

Beau “Jangles” Talbot had promised himself he wouldn’t fall for a woman while he was still in the Army. He’d seen it too many times before—a good woman getting worn down by the demands of being a military wife. But when he meets the gorgeous bartender Hope Mitchell, he does the unthinkable and falls in love. Then his worst nightmare comes to fruition and Hope is thrown into a dangerous situation because of him and his teammates.

One mission—five women—everything is on the line. Jangles and his teammates have one shot at getting it right, one chance at extraction, or every man on his team loses the women they love.

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Beau ‘Jangles’ Talbot has been seeing Hope on the sly for quite a while. She takes care of his cat Buster while he’s off on missions, and sleeps with him when he’s home. Suddenly he realizes she’s more, has been for a while and he’s not sure how he feels about that.

Hope manages the Ugly Mug for BF, a disabled veteran who also owns the shooting range next door. She doesn’t want serious and her relationship with Jangles is perfect the way it is. She’s also come to realize she has feelings for Beau, something she can’t afford to have.

Beau is what she always calls him in private and when she calls him Jangles he gets annoyed. He’s Beau with her and nothing less than that will do. Beau broke down her walls and she told her story, one that had me sniffling. Then she tries to break up with him to protect her heart. Beau’s having none of that though.

This is a favorite scene.

“Hope, baby, look at me.” Jangles’ words might’ve been soft but the demand was clear. She didn’t look up. Instead, she kept her eyes trained on the now reassembled Beretta and said, “You know, it would be really awesome if for once in my life something could go right. Just once have something go my way. Like, say, when I break things off with a hot Delta operator, he walks away without showing up at my place of business a few hours later to torture me. That’d be super great.”

“Hot Delta operator?” He chuckled. “I don’t even know what that is. Is Delta even a real thing?”

“I’m not being funny.”

“You’re wrong.”

Hope’s gaze lifted from the gun to Jangles and her eyes narrowed. “Why are you here?”

“I’m taking you to lunch.”

“No, you’re—”

“Babe, I get why you bagged on breakfast. I gave you that. But you’re leaving here to go directly to the bar to work another six hours. You’re eating before you do that.”

“How big of you to give me that,” she mumbled.

Unfortunately, Jangles didn’t respond to bitchy bait.

“You need to fire that before you give it to the owner?” Jangles gestured to the Beretta.

“Of course I do. I never give someone back a gun I worked on without firing it first.”

“Right. Grab the nine and let’s roll. I’m starving.”

“Then you should mosey on out to your truck and go get food.” Jangles’ lips twitched and her irritation soared. “Seriously, Jangles, you should go. I’ll grab something at the bar.”

Then in a supremely annoying maneuver, Jangles grabbed the gun off the workbench and turned to the door.

“I changed my mind.” Oh, thank God. “I’m Beau. Just Beau. Anytime, anywhere, whether I got you naked in bed or having a beer at the bar. No more of this Jangles shit.”

“That’s how you introduced yourself,” she returned.

“No, it’s not. That’s what you heard Woof call me when I was standing at the bar waiting for your fine ass to finish serving every fucking cowboy in the place that chose your side of the bar instead of Jake’s. Which, babe, I fully understood at the time, because you’re gorgeous. But now it just pisses me the fuck off when every patron with a dick would rather wait five minutes to be served by you than not wait and have Jake pour them a drink.”

Hope knew she looked like a fish when her mouth opened and closed several times before she sputtered, “Are you nuts?”

“Yeah, Hope, I am. I’m totally fuckin’ nuts because I fell for the one woman in Texas that’s gonna fight me to the bitter end because she refuses to admit that we have something more than great sex. And so you don’t twist this, what I mean by more is that I have feelings for you. I care about you. And we’re gonna explore those feelings. You can bullshit all you want, say I mean nothing to you, but that’d be a lie. I know. You know. We both fuckin’ know it. So let’s go throw a few bullets downrange and hand this motherfucker off to whomever it belongs to so we can leave and I can feed my woman.”

Hope swallowed past the lump in her throat.

The self-loathing slithered around her heart and squeezed tight.

“You can’t care about me.”

“Wrong, Hope. I can and I do.”

“No, you can’t. There’s nothing to care about.”

“Wrong again, baby. And straight up, I’m gonna show you just how wrong you are.”

“I don’t want you to.”

“I know you don’t. That’s why I know I’m doing the right thing.”

“But—”

“You got two choices, Hope. Test this gun so we can go to lunch or I lock this door and start educating you on all the reasons why I care about you. And I’ll start by telling you I know this tough-chick exterior you got is bogus. I know because I’ve seen you with BF. He’s old, he’s grumpy, he’s pretty much an ass to everyone unless they’ve served their country in one way or another. He gives you shit and you shovel it right back, but you do it in a way that shows you love him. You’re loyal to him, you bust your ass for him, and don’t deny it because I see it.”

“You are nuts!” Hope shouted and threw her hands in the air.

“You already said that. What else you got?”

“You’re not paying attention. Which is surprising considering who you are. You notice everything. I don’t want more. And trust me, I’m not worth—”

“Now you’re pissing me off,” Jangles growled his warning.

“See? I’m a pain in the ass. You should—”

Hope didn’t finish. In two quick steps, Jangles was across the room, his mouth slammed down on hers, his tongue shoved in— uninvited but not unwelcomed, and damn it all to hell, she kissed him back. Then her hands went to his shoulders, trailed up the back of his neck, and finally, her fingers slid through his hair as she deepened the kiss. God, she loved his hair, loved that he wore it longer than military regulations. It made him look like a step above badass but one down from a pillaging Viking.

Hope took and tasted, drank from him. It wasn’t often he allowed her to control the action— not the kissing, touching, or sex— Beau was all about him giving to her. He led the way, he guided them where he wanted them to go. Sometimes that guidance was rough and demanding, sometimes it was slow and coaxing. Whatever the speed, it was magnificent. But right then, he’d passed the torch and she knew it was costing him. Hope felt it— his pent-up energy was rolling off him in waves, washing over her, upping her excitement tenfold.

More.

She needed more.

Hope didn’t want to acknowledge the truth, she wanted to deny her feelings, pretend she wasn’t in love with him. Beau Talbot would wreck her. If she had any chance of keeping what was left of her sanity intact, she needed to let him go.

But what if I let him in?

A sliver of hope pierced her heart and apprehension coursed through her blood. But she couldn’t deny it— couldn’t deny that she wanted Beau to bulldoze through all her walls and make her face her demons.

Blood-soaked dreams or a beautiful future…

She didn’t deserve a future.

But Beau did.
Riley Edwards. Hope’s Delta (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Delta Team 3, Book Five (Kindle Locations 600-651). Aces Press, LLC.

Things start looking up for them when the unthinkable happens. Not only to Hope but also Nori, Destiny, Gwen and Ivy.

Woof, Zip, Merlin, Duff and Jangles go on the mission of their lives. I was really glad to see Tex in this one, he’s the best there is!

I couldn’t put this book down, I laughed, cried my eyes out and was surprise my kindle didn’t melt from the sizzling heat between Beau and Hope.

5 Contented Purrs for Riley!

Riley Edwards is a bestselling multi-genre author, wife, and military mom. Riley was born and raised in Los Angeles but now resides on the east coast with her fantastic husband and children.

Riley writes heart-stopping romance with sexy alpha heroes and even stronger heroines. Riley’s favorite genres to write are romantic suspense and military romance.

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Don’t Miss This!!! Danger and Desire – A Romantic Suspense Anthology: Available ONLY Until Sept 25!


Danger and Desire
A Romantic Suspense Anthology

Featuring
USA Today Bestselling Authors

The Rookie by Kimberly Kincaid
Night Owl by Rachel Grant
Desire in DC by Cat Johnson
Levi: A Lighthouse Security Novella by Maryann Jordan
The Guardian by Cristin Harber
Scout by Janie Crouch
Lawson and Jill: A Night Storm Legacy Novel by Caitlyn O’Leary
Breaking Away: A Delta Force Novella by Elle James

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The Rookie
The Intelligence Unit
USA Today Bestselling Author
Kimberly Kincaid

Police recruit Xander Matthews has two goals: to keep his head down and his dark and dangerous past where it belongs–behind him. He never thought he’d see brash, beautiful ADA Tara Kingston again. But now they must catch a brutal killer before it’s too late.

When ADA Tara Kingston’s primary witness is attacked and threatened in her home, she doesn’t want to testify anymore. She’s scared and isn’t trusting anyone not even Tara.

It’s Xander who comes to the rescue with he calming personality and a background that would be able to win her back on track.

This is a favorite scene.

The half-shout was enough to snare Dr. Riley’s attention. “Okay, that’s enough. Either we get a whole lot more chill about this or interview time is over.”

Tara battled the panic starting to rise in her chest. Amour wouldn’t be safe unless they got this guy and Sansone— who had surely hired or bribed this guy to scare her— behind bars, permanently, and without Amour’s cooperation, they were screwed. She had to do something, God, anything, to get her to talk. “Amour—”

“It’s pretty scary, isn’t it?”

Xander’s voice slipped through the tension in the room, surprising the hell out of Tara.

Amour, too, if the look on her face was anything to go by. “What?”

“I said, it’s pretty scary, being threatened like you were tonight.” He stepped a little further out of the shadows, but still didn’t come close to Amour’s personal space, as if he wanted to give her literal room to breathe.

She eyed him with tough disdain. “What do you know about it? You’re a fucking cop.”

“I’m also a Northie, born and raised. And I know exactly what you’re feeling, because two years ago, I was in the same situation.”

Amour eyed him with a solid dose of mistrust, but enough curiosity flickered through her stare that no one intervened. “You’re a Northie?”

“Lived on The Hill for most of my life. Sullivan Street,” he added, and Amour’s brows lifted.

“In that apartment building by the park?”

“Where all the junkies hang out at night,” Xander confirmed. “And the pawn shop on the corner, by Old Lou’s market.”

Amour remained wary, but she kept talking. “I know it. Old Lou’s not bad.”

“He used to give me and my sister milk on the expiration day when we were tight on money. He’s a good guy. Mean as a snake if you mess with his candy displays, though.”

“So, what happened to you?” Amour asked, and Tara had to admit her curiosity was burning through her, too.

Xander said, “I got jammed up with someone I shouldn’t have— you know how it is. You’ve gotta make a living, and you can’t look sideways in North Point without your eyes landing on someone with crappy intentions.”

Amour huffed out a laugh, although it carried very little joy. “Yeah. I don’t exactly love wearing a leather bustier and getting groped for shitty tips, but…”

She shrugged off the rest, and Xander filled in the blanks all too smoothly. “You don’t exactly have great options. So, you keep your head down and try to make things work. But then a guy like Ricky Sansone comes along, doing all sorts of nasty stuff to people, and the next thing you know, you’re in over your head.”

Isabella and Garza seemed all too happy to let Xander go with the lead he’d so smoothly taken, and Tara watched, half-mesmerized, as Amour nodded.

“He was hurting people, putting guns on the street. North Point is bad enough, you know? Most of us have enough shit to worry about without having to dodge bullets, so when I saw the chance to put him away…”

She broke off. Xander’s expression never wavered, as if he had nothing in the world more important to do than sit there and wait until she was ready to keep going.

And she did. “But I was supposed to be safe. I didn’t sign on for this.” She waved a hand around the exam room. Xander took a careful step forward until he was right beside the gurney, never dropping eye contact with her.

“Believe me, I get it. I have the scars to prove it, too.” Rolling up his right uniform sleeve, he revealed a two-inch burn scar that made Tara’s heart race. “I was scared out of my head the whole time.”

“But you got out,” Amour said, with just enough curiosity for Xander to take the opening she’d given him.

“I did, but in order to make it work, I had to do something that scared me almost more than the person who did this to me. I had to be honest with these guys.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder in Isabella and Garza’s direction. “Look, none of us can tell you what to do. What you say or don’t say in this interview is entirely up to you. But I can tell you this. Telling these detectives the truth saved my life, and I know that if you’re honest with them, they’ll do everything in their power to save yours.”

The silence that stretched through the exam room felt like it lasted for a month before Amour broke it with, “Would… would you help them keep me safe for real? If I wanted to talk, I mean.”

Tara’s chest tightened with hope, and it took every single shred of her self-control not to interject.

“These detectives are the real pros, Amour,” Xander said, looking at Garza and Isabella with a nod. “But if I can help them in any way, I will.”

“I’m here, too.” Tara squeezed Amour’s hand. “I promise.”

Letting out a slow breath, Amour said, “Okay. I’ll tell you everything.”
Kimberly Kincaid. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 597-637).

It’s also Xander who remembers an open apartment in his building that would be perfect to keep Amour safe.

Tara is more than a little impressed with Xander in more ways than one. As this story continues and the trial gets closer, so do Tara and Xander.

Plenty of suspense, intrigue and some sizzling heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Kimberly!


Night Owl
A Raptor Novella
USA Today Bestselling Author
Rachel Grant

Jenna O’Donnell wants only three things: to live in Tamarack, Alaska for the rest of her life; for Ted Godfrey to fall into a glacial crevasse; and Brad Fraser.
Brad Fraser wants only three things: to leave Tamarack, Alaska and never return; for his coworker, Ted Godfrey, to be fired; and to never, ever fall in love.
But Brad tempts fate when he takes Jenna out for a night of owl watching, and once he spends time alone with her, his carefully planned escape from both frigid north and fiery waitress is no longer simple…

For three years, Jenna has been lusting after Brad, he however has shown no interest whatsoever. Then some well meaning friends set it up so he needs a ride back to the compound. Of course the only one available to give him the ride is Jenna.

The first Brad discovers about Jenna is her love of Owls, her car dash is covered in them. Something causes him to offer to show her the great horned owl’s nest near the compound.

This is a favorite scene.

“I don’t collect them so much as they come to me. People see owls, and they think of me. It’s kind of sweet, and I love the artistry.” She slowed as they passed a moose snacking on leaves by the side of the road. “But to answer your question, since I was a kid. I love hiking in the woods and hearing them call, seeing them perched as they’re looking for prey. Owls make me happy.”

It was such a simple statement, yet it said a lot about her, about her love for Tamarack. That she could find joy here, even though the town was small and remote and it was a two-hour-plus drive to the nearest full-service grocery store.

“There’s a great horned owl nest with three nestlings on Raptor land. I could take you to it.”

Her fingers tightened on the steering wheel. “Really? Won’t you get in trouble for that?”

“Nah. It’s not in the fenced area and far outside of where we run training ops— we can’t do anything in the area because it’s protected. It used to be an eagle’s nest, but this winter, it was taken over by a mated pair of owls.”

“Great horned owls do that— make use of other raptors’ nests.”

“Do you want to see it?”

“I’d love to.”

“Stay on the highway, then— pass the main gate and keep going. The road into the woods is about a mile past the turn to the gate.”

“You mean, right now?”

He shrugged. “Sure. Why not? Plenty of light and…” He let out a small laugh, his gaze on the birds on the dashboard. “I’m something of a night owl anyway. Plus, I’ve got tomorrow off. How about you? You working the lunch shift?”

“No. Evening.” She took her gaze off the road and met his briefly. “You’re sure?”

“Yeah. Let’s do it.” He absolutely wanted to see her face when she spotted the nestlings. Owls made her happy. He wanted to be part of that.

It took another fifteen minutes to get to the point where they had to leave her car and hike in. Fortunately, the road was well maintained, and her car could handle it even with the low clearance.

It was after midnight by the time they were getting out of the car. “I’ve got supplies in the back.” She walked around the hatchback and raised it, revealing a small daypack, extra clothes, hiking boots, water bottles, first aid kit, and blankets. She sat on the bumper and changed out of her soft sneakers for the rugged day hikers. She then donned a fleece sweatshirt and pulled her jacket on again.

“The wind is really whipping up. You going to be warm enough?” she asked him as she plucked a pair of small binoculars from the pack and slipped them into her jacket pocket, then stuffed a blanket and water bottle inside the main compartment.

“I’ll be fine. My coat is lined with wool, and the nest isn’t far.” He slung her pack on his back, and they entered the woods.

Even with the thin canopy, there was no need for flashlights to see their path on the uneven ground. Like the road, the trail was maintained and wide enough for them to walk side by side. He resisted the urge to take her hand in his, even though it tugged at him like it was the most natural thing in the world to be hiking after midnight with Jenna O’Donnell, the most beautiful woman within a thousand miles. Scratch that. Anywhere. Ever.

The path narrowed, and instead of dropping behind, he moved closer to her side, getting a whiff of her shampoo even as his senses should be overwhelmed with the scent of damp earth and leaves. The mossy ground was soft beneath their feet, and they barely made a sound as they walked.

The wind brought a repeated hooting call, and Jenna stopped with a gasp, her hand grabbing his. And just that easy, they were holding hands as she looked up at him with sheer pleasure on her face. “That’s him. That’s the male territorial hoot.”

The sound was followed by another, higher-pitched trill.

“And that’s her.”

The male hooted again, and she pulled on his hand, her excitement making her take the lead. He held on, picking up his pace as they hurried down the path. She came to an abrupt stop as they reached the clearing, and momentum had his body bumping into hers. He released her hand and wrapped his arms around her waist to keep her from pitching forward.

She settled against him and, like holding hands, having her in his arms like this felt like the most natural thing in the world.

“Where is it?” she asked as she pulled the binoculars from her pocket and held them to her eyes.

He released her waist with one hand and placed it over hers on the binocs, gently redirecting her line of sight to the big nest high in a tree on the far side of the meadow.

She gasped. “Oh my God! I see the owlets. They’re so perfect. Probably six to eight weeks old already.”

Brad released her hand and settled his arm around her again.

“Mom’s in the nest with the owlets. Dad must be out hunting.” She lowered the binocs and tilted her head back to gaze up at him. “Do you want to look?”

No. What he wanted was to kiss her as he held her just like this. To bury his face in her neck. He wore jeans and a stiff tin-cloth coat, but even so, with her rear pressed to his front as it was, she was bound to notice his growing erection. He saw the moment she registered his arousal. She let out a soft gasp, and her eyes went hot. She pressed back, rubbing against him even as his arms tightened, holding her in this exquisite position.
Rachel Grant. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 1973-2016).

What is meant to be one night, has Brad wanting more time with Jenna. To this end he starts leaving owl related things near her station at the bar.

Although Brad is planning on leaving, he can’t do that until he figures out a way to get rid of Godfrey. He’s up to something and with Jenna’s friend Isabel putting pressure on Raptor’s administration to close it’s doors, the man is getting more unstable.

Plenty of suspense as this story unfolds, and the relationship between Brad and Jenna becomes even more explosive.

5 Contented Purrs for Rachel!


Desire In DC
A Hot SEALs Series Origin Story
USA Today Bestselling Author
Cat Johnson

They couldn’t be more different, but sometimes opposites attract so strongly, there’s nothing that can keep two people apart. Not even a deadly terrorist hijacking . . .

I was a teenager in the 70’s so I remember the things in this story that may make younger folks scratch their heads in confusion. There were no cell phones or computers or internet. If you read Cat’s Hot SEALs you’ll know Zane Alexander’s wife Melissa. This is her parents story.

Marty meets Peter at a bar and as they talk he mentions the senator he works for. That was then end for her, angry and appalled he could work for someone with no moral code.

She was more than surprise to see him at the Greenpeace rally. Peter had tried to tell her his politics and his bosses weren’t the same, but she wasn’t going to listen at the bar. Now she does and she’s more than a little impressed that his roommate is one of the main speakers.

This is a favorite scene as the peaceful rally erupts into violence and chaos, with Peter taking charge to get them away safely.

A Vanderbilt. Jesus.

Looking at her more closely, there was no doubt in his mind the name wasn’t a coincidence. That she was indeed from the Vanderbilt family. As in the robber baron, old money, mansions in every state Gilded Age Vanderbilts.

Her dress probably cost as much as his rent. Her shoes . . . he glanced down and yup, they looked pretty pricey too.

He must be losing his mind pursuing a woman so out of his league.

More than her wealth, he was definitely certifiable for thinking this staunchly left-wing Democrat would ever accept his conservative leanings, even if he did try to consider and understand all sides and opinions when it came to politics.

It wasn’t in his nature to blindly follow any leader or party. He wished she would see that about him. That he carefully weighed the issues, making up his mind on a case-by-case basis.

A squeal of a microphone broke Peter out of his fanciful imaginings about the lovely though contrary Marty Vanderbilt.

He turned toward the speakers just as the crack of glass breaking had his head whipping back around. The burst of flames he saw on the square’s flagstone plaza explained the sound.

“What was that?” Marty asked, barely audible over the shrieks of the scattering crowd.

He spun back to answer her. “Molotov cocktail.”

She shook her head, mouth agape. “Here? Why?”

“I don’t know.” It made no sense to him except for that they lived in volatile times.

He heard sirens in the distance. The police were already on the way. That didn’t prevent a second projectile from crashing into flames next to the fountain.

Shocked screams turned into panic as the attendees clamored to get out of the main entrance of the park.

Slower movers got shoved out of the way by those desperate to flee the danger zone. The few who fell were trampled.

The reaction of the crowd was becoming more of a danger than the homemade incendiary devices.

“We have to get out of here.” He grabbed her arm, feeling the need to protect her.

Marty pulled against him. “Where’s Clark? My photographer.”

Peter looked around and finally spotted the young man, working his way against the crowd toward them. “There he is.”

And he was obviously hurt, judging by the blood. He staggered while clutching his camera to his chest.

Peter moved to meet him where he was and looped a hand beneath his arm. “You need that cut taken care of.”

“I fell,” he said simply, sounding as dazed as he looked.

Clark reached up and touched the blood running down the side of his face. He looked down at the red wetting his fingers as if noticing for the first time he was injured.

He was definitely stunned. Disoriented. Peter couldn’t blame him. Chaos still reigned around them. He needed to get them all out of there.

Pulling his handkerchief out of his pocket, he pressed it to Clark’s head then placed the man’s own hand over it. “Hold that there.”

Clark nodded, still looking confused but he did as told. That was good enough.

Peter glanced at Marty. He saw the crazed look in her eyes as her gaze darted around them, taking in all the insanity.

Fist fights had broken out among the crowd. He wouldn’t put it past her to jump right into the fray, whether for the story or for the principal of the cause. It wouldn’t matter. She’d be in danger either way.

“Come on. This way.” Peter didn’t wait for an answer to what had never been a question.

It was no doubt time to go. Before the police started rounding everyone up and they all ended up sitting in a cell for the night. Or worse, beaten or gassed.

During these times, the authorities tended to act first and ask questions later.

With one hand grabbing each of their arms, he half steered, half tugged Marty and Clark out of the smaller back exit of the park.

Head down, he navigated them through the people running both ways. Some towards the action. Others away from it.

One man, who had to be high on some illegal substance from the looks of him, came at them, fist drawn back as if he was about to deliver a punch backed by the full force of his weight.

Peter didn’t know how this peaceful rally had turned to this, but he did know how to defend himself. He stepped forward toward the man, raised his elbow and brought it down full force on the man’s nose.

He heard the horrifying sound of cracking bone— the other guy’s, not his own. The man screamed in pain, clutching his nose as the blood flowed.

His stomach turned. But now was not the time to be squeamish.

He looked behind him and located Marty. She was holding Clark’s arm, steadying the man who looked like he was having trouble staying on his feet. How hard a hit had he taken to the head anyway?

“My apartment isn’t too far. Follow me.” Reaching out, he grabbed her hand.

“What about your roommate?” she asked, glancing backward as he dragged her toward the sidewalk, Clark stumbling behind her.

“Elijah? I saw him get out through the front gate. I’m hoping to find him at the apartment when we get there.”
Cat Johnson. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 3239-3282).

This is the beginning of their relationship, that quickly heats up. However it’s while she’s on vacation that Peter realizes just how much he cares about her.

The becomes even more apparent when her flight home is hijacked.

Marty finds herself just hoping to make it home alive, to tell Peter she how she feels about him. I love that Peter finds a way to monitor the situation up close and personal. Also using his contacts to see her before her parents can take her away.

A wonderful throw back story with everything on point.

5 Contented Purrs for Cat!


Levi
Lighthouse Security Investigations
USA Today Bestselling Author
Maryann Jordan

Heading from Wyoming to Maine to take on his new position with Lighthouse Security Investigations, Levi was ready to get off the highway and take the backroads. Offering to help a stranded woman seemed like a good idea until he discovered the secrets she was hiding. With the help of the LSI Keepers, can Levi untangle Claire’s problems in time to save her life?

Levi is traveling slowly from Wyoming to Maine. He’s taking in some sights along the way as well. He happens to come across a vehicle off the road and a woman standing nearby.

After a delightful drive and dinner, Levi is considering driving Clare to her destination. He has to pass by Boston anyway. Before he totally commits himself he has LHS run a check on her. The results are disturbing and he decides he’s not taking her any further. That changes when he approaches her hotel room.

This is a favorite scene.

A sigh of air rushed from her lungs and the weight on her shoulders seemed to intensify. “I thought I had another day to take one last look at things before Mr. Martins came back. But he showed up at work, made a beeline into my tiny office, and, with a big smile on his face, thanked me for assisting but told me that I was no longer responsible for any of Perry’s accounts. The way he was acting… the way he was staring at me… I knew my suspicions were right. So, I did the only thing I could do at the moment and that was slap a big smile on my face and simply agree.”

Munching on another cracker, she washed it down with water. So far, Levi was listening with little interruption, but she had no idea what he thought of her story. Afraid that his patience might wane and he would decide to drive her straight to a police station, she continued.

“By the end of the day, I was a nervous wreck. I knew something wasn’t right. I knew Mr. Martins, as well as Perry, was involved. I knew it was obvious to Mr. Martins that I’d gone through the accounts. I planned on staying late yesterday, but he showed up at my desk and said that I should take the afternoon off since I’d been pulling double duty with Perry out. I felt like it was a ruse to get me out of the office, but what excuse did I have?”

“What happened next?”

“A stroke of luck.” She watched as Levi’s unflappable demeanor fell away and his head jerked to the side to stare at her. Quickly explaining, she said, “On my way home, I stopped by my bank to get some cash. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my balance and discovered an extra five hundred thousand dollars sitting in my account.”

“Fuck.”

Another snort erupted as she agreed. “My thoughts exactly. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Mr. Martins knew I must’ve looked at everything and he was afraid I’d go to the authorities. Because I have direct deposit with my paycheck, it was not difficult for him to be able to put the money in there.”

“So, you ran.”

“Yes. I ran.”

“What was your plan?”

She lifted her shoulders in a little shrug and shook her head. “All I wanted to do was get away. I had no idea what Mr. Martins’ plans were for me. Call the police and claim that I had embezzled? Maybe keep me under his thumb with the threat hanging over my head? For all I knew that’s what had happened to Perry. So, I got home, packed everything I could into my car, and hit the road yesterday morning. I thought if I could disappear for a little while until I had a chance to figure things out, I’d be safe.”

Levi was quiet for another moment, and Claire decided she was too exhausted to keep talking. She let the silence move around them, finding her eyelids growing heavy.

“If everything you’re telling me is true, why was that man in your room this morning, threatening you?”

Rolling her head to the side, she once more stared at Levi. If men were described in romance novels as tall, dark, and handsome, she’d never truly understood that description until she laid eyes on him. A woman alone with a disabled vehicle should have been very afraid, but fear was not what she felt. If the truth was known, a bolt of lust hit her as he approached. But, with his hands held out in plain sight, his past as an FBI agent, and his offer to help, she tamped down her lust and focused on the warm ease that moved through her at being rescued. With everything that had happened, she hadn’t even thanked Levi for saving her.

Sighing her millionth sigh that morning, she replied, “I have a copy of all Perry’s dealings. I know that I should never have taken client account information out of the office, but as soon as I discovered discrepancies, I wanted backup. Mr. Martins must have discovered that I have the records. That’s why he didn’t call the authorities and try to blame the embezzlement on me. Instead, he sent someone after me.”

Turning to face him more fully, she added, “I’m ashamed that I didn’t even thank you for what you did this morning. But it’s now hitting me… you placed yourself in danger. I think the best thing you can do is to pull off at the next exit and let me out. Right now, Levi, you’re in danger because of me.”

“Did you get all of that?” he asked.

Looking at him sharply, she had no idea what he was asking her. Before she had a chance to say anything, a male voice coming from his phone replied.

“Got it. Checking out her story now.”

She gasped, opening her mouth then snapping it closed as her gaze dropped to his phone as though she would be able to see who now knew her secrets. Levi obviously had called someone and had them on the line the entire time she was speaking. Her stomach clenched as she wondered who now knew that money was in her account and what they were going to do with that information. Her hands began to shake, a combination of anger and nerves, and her heart pounded a drumbeat so loud it was all she could hear.

“Claire. Claire!”

Hearing her name, her body jolted. “What?”

“You went pale, and I wasn’t sure you were breathing. Don’t pass out on me now.”

With everything that had happened, it was ridiculous to be angry at him, and yet anger was the only emotion she could identify. “You didn’t tell me someone was listening.”

“Nope.”

“Why not? I was talking to you, not just anyone. I’m trying to stay safe while figuring all this out, and I don’t even know who was listening to this information—”

I’m the one trying to keep you safe. I’m the one that disarmed that man this morning. I’m the one who needs all the information to figure out what to do. And that started by me finding out what you’re involved in. And if I can trust you.”

She wanted to argue with his words but couldn’t. Everything he said was true. Pinching her lips together, she turned and looked out her window. She had not been paying attention to the highway signs and had no idea how far they had driven. Doubt slowly wormed its way into her mind as she realized she had no idea who Levi truly was. Maybe he just wanted—

“Don’t go there. I can tell that right now you’re doubting everything you’ve told me. But, Claire, if what you told me is the truth, I can help by looking into this mess.”

“It’s true. It’s all true.”

She had no idea what kind of looking into he meant, but, considering it was more than what she had, she was willing to go on a little faith.
Maryann Jordan. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 4715-4765).

I love the way Levi and Clare’s relationship becomes entangled in what LHS is now considering a mission. Their leisurely journey now fraught with watching their backs, but they also become closer too.

The closer to Maine they get the hotter this relationship and situation gets.

I love this series so much and I can’t wait to see who’s next to find love.

5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!


The Guardian
The Aces Series Book 4
USA Today Bestselling Author
Cristin Harper

After a rollercoaster of headline-grabbing family tragedies, Roxana Carter couldn’t have said yes any faster when her perfectly predictable boyfriend proposed marriage. But the arrival of a mysterious gun-wielding couple reveals that Roxana’s steadfast man isn’t who he seems.

Jason wanted nothing more than to marry Roxana and quit his job. Of course he has to ask her first. He does that in style while she teases about their sex life.

This is a favorite scene.

Jason lifted her legs off his, set her feet on the flagstone, and cupped her cheeks before she could pout. The fullness of his lips brushed against hers, not quite a kiss; a taste and a tease of everything she wanted.

“Roxana.” His eyes stayed open, locked on hers as if he couldn’t look away. “You are the perfect woman for me.”

“I know.” She leaned for his kiss and added, “Thought you already knew that, too.”

“I do, babe.” His laughter rolled. “Listen for a second.” His hands slipped off her cheeks and trailed down her neck. Jason took her mouth with a savoring slowness that made her head spin in a honeyed haze.

She explained that it was hard to listen when he didn’t speak, but the velvet slide of his tongue against hers erased the thought. Electricity sparked down her spine as chill bumps rolled over her skin.

“I love you.”

“I know that, too.”

He eased from his chair and kneeled, a rakish grin dangling off his chiseled face. “I met you, and everything changed.”

“Bet the amount of times you ordered delivery dropped,” she teased.

“Yeah, that was a change.” His hands took hers. In their world, Jason’s actions always usurped conversations. Tonight though, his words kept pace. “Amongst other things.”

“Is that fancy accountant talk for crazy-awesome, grade-A sex?” Forget that they’d been interrupted before dinner, his teasing tone and a night of mojitos were a wicked combination. “Speaking of which, we should go to bed.”

Jason licked his lips as if her brilliant idea had been a joke. “In a minute.”

She pulled her hand free and pressed the back of it to his forehead. “Are you dying or something?”

His eyes danced. “Give me your hand, Roxana.”

“Are you going to bring me upstairs and—” She was suddenly, acutely aware that Jason wasn’t just perched in front of her, but on one knee. “Shut up.

His lips twitched. “Marry me, Roxana.”

Roxana slapped a hand over the wild, joyful scream that pealed from lungs, and covered his for good measure. Jason belly laughed into her hand. She didn’t know what else to do except launch into his arms.

Like a stud, Jason caught her superhero style and flipped over to rest in the crook of his arm. “Babe?”

“I graded our sex life while you were trying to propose.”

“Guess that’s how it goes when it’s grade-A?” He winked. “Anything else to say?”

Her arms wrapped around his neck as if they had a mind of their own. “As if you don’t know my answer.”

“Still gotta say it.” His mouth dropped to her ear. “I love you, Roxana. Marry me.”

“Yes.” She melted. “Of course, I will. You’re the kindest, strongest man I’ve ever met.” Roxana kissed his cheek. “Now, will you bring me upstairs?”
Cristin Harber. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 5484-5507).

Now that she’s said yes, it’s on to the next part. Quitting his job. He thought it would be easy but it turns out there’s something going on with his boss.

He thought he could get away with never telling Roxana what he really does for a living. That rapidly changes as he scrambles for his life and hers.

Full of suspense, intrigue, and sizzle. You won’t be able to put this one down.

5 Contented Purrs for Cristin!


Scout
USA Today Bestselling Author
Janie Crouch

Linear Tactical’s Wyatt Highfield is running for his life with intel that will break up a human trafficking ring. The last thing he wants is to bring danger to Nadine Macfarlane’s door. The gentle beauty has been through enough, and has the scars—physical and emotional—to prove it. But she’s his only option.

Wyatt is on the run, he has to get the drive he’d gotten from his informant to Linear’s computer guy. First he has to lose they guys chasing him.

While he really didn’t want to use her, he knew Nadine would be at this market. They were looking for a single guy not a couple. This could work.

Wyatt spends the afternoon and evening with Nadine. He’s falling for her but everything has to wait until there’s no more threat. The real fun begins when Nadine takes him to a hotel. One he’s really not staying in.

This is a favorite scene.

There was definitely something wrong with him. She’d never seen him fight but he was a trained Special Forces soldier— there was no way this was how he normally fought.

And the other guy was taking advantage of it. He punched Wyatt square in the gut, making him double over.

And when he did, when his line of vision was closer to the floor, Wyatt caught sight of Nadine creeping up the stairs.

“No,” he grunted through clenched teeth. “Run.”

No way that was happening.

The attacker spun around, but she had her pepper spray raised. He threw his hands up to protect himself, but it was too late. She damn near emptied the whole can in his face.

When the guy staggered back, she took a swing at him— straight into the nose with her palm like she’d been taught in the self-defense classes Chloe had talked her into taking. She shuddered at the feel of his nose breaking under her hand and blood pouring out everywhere.

That part hadn’t been covered in class.

He howled as he fell to the ground while Wyatt remained slumped against the stairs. She needed to get them out of there before broken-nose guy’s buddies showed up from the lobby.

“Come on.” She took him under the arms and hauled him up until he was on his feet. Finally, something good came out of her size and strength. A petite little thing couldn’t have managed that.

“You’ve got to get away.” He coughed a few times from the pepper spray, groaning when he did. He sounded disoriented. Nothing like the man who’d left her car less than ten minutes ago.

“Not without you.” She had no idea what was happening, why there were people after him. All she knew was that he was in trouble and there was no abandoning him now. “Come on. Lean on me. We’ll get you down the stairs.”

But his feet didn’t seem to want to obey. She practically dragged him down the stairs, one lurching step at a time with her shoulder tucked into his armpit. “Gotta… get away… safe…” His words became less recognizable with each step.

“I’m going to get us both away if you would just walk, damn it. Help me, please.” He seemed to try to move his feet, to bear his weight. It was better than nothing, anyway.

They reached the big, metal door at the bottom of the stairwell which led outside. She pushed her way through and pulled Wyatt along with her. They were behind the hotel now, next to a row of dumpsters.

“I’ve got to get you to a doctor. A hospital. You’re hurt. Poisoned or something.”

“No. No.” He pulled her to a stop. “No doctor. No hospital.”

“Wyatt, you need help.”

He shook his head. “Drugged,” he slurred. “Wear off.”

“Drugged? By who?” She started them toward her car again. The people from the lobby were going to be looking for them soon

“I need…” His head started to droop. His legs began to buckle, dragging her down.

“No way. Wyatt, come on.” She propped him against the wall and slapped his cheek, wincing, knowing he’d taken punches to his face.

His eyes opened. “What? What?” He sounded angry— not that she minded. As long as he was awake.

“Stay with me.” She started walking them again. She wouldn’t have very long before he got pulled under. “Finish what you were trying to tell me. You said you have to get away from here, and you need something. What do you need?”

“Hide. Hide. Sleep.” It sounded like every word was a struggle.

“Hide from who?” He shook his head slightly and they stumbled a few more steps. She kept them away from the windows in the lobby. “Didn’t. Want. Tell you.”

She didn’t know what he was talking about. “Let’s just get you to the car.”

“Can’t. I…” His legs threatened to buckle again. “Leave me.”

“Wyatt, come on. We need to hurry. There are men in the lobby who are going to come after you.”

“Not. Safe.” He stopped moving again. “You. Go.”

Damn it. She needed another tactic. “Those guys in the lobby are going to get me if you don’t get to my car, Wyatt. The only way for me to get out of here is for you to get to my car.”

Her risk paid off. She could almost see the super-human effort he made to focus. To command his body to do what he was telling it to do.

Because he wanted to protect her.

“Let’s go.” It was the clearest words she’d heard from him yet.

He still needed help, but at least he was making an effort. They moved slowly across the parking lot toward her car. She practically shoved him inside the back seat, bending his legs and picking up his feet to tuck them in with him.

She ran around to the driver’s side and started the car. “Where, Wyatt? Should I take you somewhere? Drive you to Wyoming?”

He shook his head. “Your house.”

Then his head dropped to the seat.
Janie Crouch. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 7166-7207).

In spite of the fact he doesn’t want Nadine involved, he gets no choice when they torch her house.

A hold your breath tale with plenty of action, suspense and sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for Janie!


Lawson and Jill
Night Storm Legacy Book 1
USA Today Bestselling Author
Caitlyn O’Leary

When Marine Raider, Lawson Thorne is goaded into grief counseling by his Navy SEAL brother, he never expected to meet the woman of his dreams. When he and Jill decide to ditch the group and form a group of their own, sparks fly. But what happens when Lawson realizes Jill has been targeted by a madman?

Under pressure from his brother Asher, and also realizing he wasn’t up to par, Lawson decides to go to a local grief group. Before it gets there, he has a bit of a run in with a child escaping art class. While this was definitely amusing it’s actually when he sees Jill for the first time, well the back of her anyway.

Inside the group he sits next to her to listen to people talk, while Jill gives him a narrative. In thanks he asks her to coffee and she agrees.

This is a favorite scene.

The teenage hostess sat them in a booth near the back and had coffee in front of them before they could ask.

“I love it when I immediately get coffee,” Jill said as she poured in a little cream.

“Do you want anything more than coffee and dessert?” Law asked. “They’re still serving dinner.” He nodded to some of the other diners.

“No, I’m good. I had something before the session. Yoga was next on my plans, and if I’d gone like usual, I’d have eaten a protein bar in my car.”

Law grimaced.

“What, you have something against protein bars?” her eyes twinkled.

“I like real food when I can get it. There are plenty of times I’m stuck eating bars and stuff, but whenever I’m in a spot that I can get real food, that’s my go-to, unless I’m in a real pinch.”

“Do you cook?” She took a delicate sip of coffee. She had great lips. He also liked the fact that she asked if he cooked. A lot of women just assumed because he was a Marine he couldn’t or wouldn’t.

“Yep. My mother wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s great in the kitchen. She taught all of her boys how to cook.”

“How many of you are there?” “There were three of us. Asher, Xavier, and me. I’m the baby of the family.”

“Were?” she asked gently.

“We lost Xavier a year ago.”

“I’m so sorry,” she said sincerely. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Law set down his mug of coffee. He considered how to explain. But she must have seen something in his eyes.

Jill gave a wry grin. “That was stupid. If you’d wanted to talk, you would have about an hour ago.”

“Shit, I don’t know what I was doing there. It was kind of a last-ditch effort. I’m blaming it squarely on Ash’s head, and that asshole is going to hear about it, mark my words.” Law gave a feral grin at the thought of what he’d say to his brother.

Jill put her elbow on the table and propped her chin on her fist. “So, you’re going to tell your brother about going to the Grief Session? I’m impressed. I thought that would go against the macho code or something.”

“Marine code,” he smiled. “Not macho code, Marine code.”

“Isn’t that the same thing?”

“Bite your tongue. Marines are in a class of their own.”

Before Jill could flip him more guff, the middle-aged waitress appeared.

“What can I get you two?” she asked gruffly. Law felt for her, it looked like she’d put in a long day. Before he could say anything, Jill gave her a big grin.

“How are you doing? I love your nails.” Just that little question and compliment put a smile on the woman’s face. Jill had nice instincts when dealing with people. He liked it.

“Thanks. It’s a new color my daughter talked me into. What can I get for you two kids?”

“Do you feel like surprising me, or would you prefer I choose?” Jill asked.

“Do you like creamy or tart?” The waitress was clearly getting into the game. “Creamy.”

“I’ve got you covered.” She turned to Law. “How about you? Want me to set you up, or do you have your heart set on something?”

“I’m with Jill; I trust your judgment. I’m in the mood for pie.”

“Well, you came to the right place. Are you out of Camp Pendleton?”

Law nodded.

“You had the look. It was either that or we get some of the guys from San Diego. I’ll bring it out to you and top off your coffee.” She left with a spring in her step that wasn’t there before.

“So, do you live at Camp Pendleton?”

“I’m too old for that. I have a house off base. What about you, where do you call home?”

He watched as Jill’s face clouded. “I inherited a house in Laguna Niguel from my cousin less than a year ago.”

“Now it’s my turn to ask, do you want to talk about it?”

“To tell you the truth, I’m kind of talked out,” she said as she took another sip of her coffee. Headlights flashed from outside through the diner window and glinted on her hair. The shiny black strands looked rich and silky and he wondered how they would feel running through his fingers. It took a moment for him to catch onto what she was saying.

“I’ve gone to the group sessions on and off for five months. I talked a little, but mostly just listened. I took a job transfer out here so I could move in with Lorraine and be with her while she needed me. After she passed, I realized that besides the people at work, I didn’t know anyone but Lorraine, so I thought the grief counseling sessions might help me as well as let me meet some folks who would be on the same page.”

“How’d that work out?”

“After the first three months, I’d pretty much come to the conclusion it’s not my thing. What about you? I saw you on the stairs with that boy Kevin from the art class. He’s always making a run for it.”

Law chuckled. “His name is Kenny. He’s a hoot. I swear, he almost had me convinced to go to his mother for comfort. He was telling me how unloading on her always made him feel better, and he offered her services to me.”

Jill let out a shout of laughter, then immediately covered her mouth and looked around to see if anyone else had heard.

“Oh. My. God. That’s priceless. I want him to come to the next Grief Session. He’d be perfect. But I’m not sure that I’m going again.” Jill sighed.
Caitlyn O’Leary. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 8321-8366).

Law’s relationship with Jill is a slow build with plenty of laughter. There is however some strange goings on at Jill’s.

A strange man inquiring about the number of people for a gathering on Labor day, a gathering that’s not actually planned. Then there’s a call from Leslie, the grief counselor, where she’s given Jill’s name and number to a former group member’s husband. To top that off, Jill’s house alarm went off while she was away on business.

Law wasn’t happy to find out about those things but he sets some things in motion to find out more.

Plenty of suspense along with laughter, tears and sizzle!

I definitely want more of this Night Storm crew!

5 Contented Purrs for Caitlyn!


Breaking Away
A Delta Force Novella
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Elle James

Delta Force Operative navigates dangerous territory when he’s assigned to protect a hotshot war correspondent with a price on her head, who also happens to be the girl who got away.

This book starts out with everyone literally on the run. Kylie is a war journalist and with her cameraman Josh are with a Ranger team. The assignment was to get an informant out of harms way, but everything just went FUBAR. As the Taliban moves in closer to their location they take off running. Garcia the Sergeant assigned to her is wounded and they need a place to hide. The building they choose holds a surprise, the missing informant is hiding there. With no choice, Kylie takes Garcia’s weapon to protect them all.

This is a favorite scene.

The man at the door swung his rifle in Kylie’s direction and fired a burst of bullets, hitting the wall above her head.

Apparently, he hadn’t had the same shoot-don’t-shoot training Kylie had. He was of the philosophy of shoot first, pick through the bodies later.

And he was headed her way.

Kylie trained her sights on him.

The man let loose another burst of bullets.

Kyle winced as debris from the wall rained down on her head.

If he got past her, he’d kill the others. Kylie aimed for his left chest and squeezed the trigger.

One round to the heart, and the man went down.

“Kylie?” Josh’s voice called out. “You all right?”

“I’m good,” she said. More footsteps pounded in the street outside the building heading their way. “But I don’t know for how long.” She sighted her weapon on the open door.

A shadow raced past it, and then a man in black dove through, rolled to his feet and came up shooting.

Most of Kylie’s shooting experience had been with stationary targets. She aimed and fired, but the man moved so fast, Kylie missed her first shot.

The man turned toward her, his AK-47 aimed at her position.

Kylie fired again, hitting him in the chest as he pulled his trigger.

His bullet hit just above her head, showering dust and pieces of wall down on her.

Another man raced through the door with a machinegun and started firing indiscriminately.

Kylie pulled back behind her wall and lay as low to the ground as possible until the man ceased firing.

Then she poked her head and the barrel of her rifle out and fired at the man.

At the last second, he moved, and the bullet hit his arm, but not badly enough to keep him from setting off another burst of gunfire, getting closer to Kylie’s location.

She ducked back and lay flat against the floor

She couldn’t come out long enough to fire again, the man kept shooting short bursts.

Shouts sounded outside, and the sound of men running worried Kylie. She would run out of bullets soon, if she got another chance to fire.

The gunfire ceased, and the clang of metal hitting the floor told her the Taliban shooter was changing magazines.

If she hoped to get this guy, she needed to do it while he was vulnerable, reloading his gun.

Kylie leaned around the corner and aimed her rifle.

The shooter slammed another magazine into the machinegun.

Before he could raise it to fire, Kylie launched a bullet into the man’s heart.

Three men ran through the door, all wearing wearing the same black outfits and the black turbans as the other two Kylie had nailed.

She’d been lucky the first three times. The men had come in separately. How was she going to shoot three in a row?

She aimed, fired and missed the first guy.

The three Taliban men all hit the ground, making it hard for her to aim at them.

Slowly, they moved forward, inching their way toward her.

Kylie’s pulse pounded in her ears. She couldn’t let the fact that there were three against one get inside her head and mess with her. She had to protect Josh, Sergeant Garcia and Faaid. They were depending on her.

One of the men fired at her, hitting so close to her head, she could almost feel the buzz of the bullet zipping past her ear.

She ducked back behind the wall for a moment, dragged in a deep breath and whipped back around the corner, her rifle aiming at the last position of the closest combatant.

He wasn’t there. The Taliban soldier stood over her, his AK-47 pointing down at her face.

Kylie gasped. She didn’t have time to jerk her weapon up to kill the man. As she stared up at the barrel of his gun, her life passed before her eyes. The last few years as a war correspondent, before that, falling in love with the one man she’d almost given up her dreams for. He was her only regret.

Several shots were fired.

Kylie waited for the pain but felt nothing except for a spray of blood across her face. The man standing over her dropped his weapon, and then collapsed, landing on top of Kylie.

His weight crushed the air from her lungs. Kylie fought to get out from beneath him, but he was too heavy. Who had shot him? Was there another enemy in the building? She had to get out from under the man and be prepared to protect her team.

Suddenly, the dead Taliban man flipped over and landed on his back beside Kylie.

She scrambled to bring her weapon up in her hands and aim at the man who’d saved her life, afraid he’d only saved her because he’d wanted the Taliban soldier to die. For all she knew, he’d want her and her team to die as well.

Rolling onto her back, she aimed up at a different man staring down at her. He held up his hands. “Whoa, little lady. You don’t want to shoot your rescuer. It really destroys the whole superhero image.” He winked and smiled. As he stared at her, his smile slipped. “Kylie?”

Those rugged good looks were a little more seasoned, but that voice could not be mistaken. Kylie’s heart stuttered. “Mac?”

“What the hell are you doing out here in enemy territory?” he demanded, his brow descending.

Even though he’d save her life, she bristled. “For the same reason you are.”

“You came out here to shoot Taliban insurgents?” Mac shook his head. “I thought you were a journalist.”

“I am,” she said, pushing to a sitting position. “Things just got away from us. I had it under control.” She looked away.
Elle James. Danger and Desire: A Romantic Suspense Anthology (pp. 724-727). Kindle Edition.

A very brief respite once Mac and his team get them to the extraction point. It doesn’t last very long though.

They need to get Kylie out of the country, she managed to kill one of the Taliban on the most wanted list. The Taliban isn’t going to be happy that he was killed, let alone by a woman. She definitely now has a price on her head. To her the job comes first and she can’t leave without finishing her assignment.

Mac and Kylie have known each other for a very long time, she broke his heart so they could both have the careers they wanted. Now as Mac and his team work on keeping her safe until they can find transport out of the country things heat up between them.

Non-stop action, some laughs and sizzling heat in this war time tale.

5 Contented Purrs for Elle!

Kimberly’s Bio and Links
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet and hot and edgy romantic suspense. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and a 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA® finalist and 2014 Bookseller’s Best nominee who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.

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Rachel Grant’s Bio and Links

USA Today bestselling author Rachel Grant worked for over a decade as a professional archaeologist and mines her experiences for story lines and settings, which are as diverse as excavating a cemetery underneath an historic art museum in San Francisco; surveying an economically depressed coal mining town in Kentucky; and mapping a seventeenth century Spanish and Dutch fort on the island of Sint Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles.

In all her travels and adventures as an archaeologist, Rachel has found many sites and artifacts, but she’s only found one true treasure, her husband, David. They met while working together excavating a four thousand year old site about to be destroyed by the expansion of a sewage treatment plant in Seattle. Despite their romantic first meeting, she has no intention of ever setting a story at a sewage treatment plant.

Rachel Grant lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.

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Cat Johnson’s Bio and Links

Cat Johnson is a top 10 New York Times bestseller and the author of the USA Today bestselling Hot SEALs series. She writes contemporary romance that usually features hot alpha heroes (who often wear combat or cowboy boots) and the sassy heroines brave enough to love them. Known for her unique marketing she has sponsored pro bull riders, owns a collection of camouflage and western wear for book signings, and has used bologna to promote romance novels.


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Maryann Jordan’s Bio and Links

I have always been an avid reader. My early memories were of my mother taking me to the library and allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry. My favorite books were checked out numerous times and read over and over. I would use my Barbie dolls to play out the scenes in books (such as Nancy Drew!).

I have written as a hobby for many years (probably since childhood). I have written devotionals, autobiographical writings about having a severely handicapped, medically fragile child, about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and other subjects that interest me.

I joke that I “cut my romance teeth” on the old historical romance books. In 2013, I started a blog to showcase wonderful writers. In 2014, I finally gave in to the characters in my head pleading for their story to be told. Thus, Emma’s Home was created.

I worked as a counselor in a high school and was involved in education for the past 30 years, until retiring in 2015. I have been married to a wonderfully patient man for 35 years and have 2 adult, very supportive daughters. When writing, my dog or one of my cats will usually be found in my lap!

I love to hear from readers, so please email me!
(authormaryannjordan@gmail.com )


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Cristin Harber’s Bio and Links

Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author of steamy romantic suspense, military romance, contemporary romance, and new adult books.

Her black ops books are packed with action and adventure and filled with everything she loves to read in romance novels! Sexy second chance romances, teasing tension in older brother’s best friend stories, plus enemies to lover, opposites attract, undercover marriage, forbidden love, and Navy SEAL romances (along with every other branch of military and law enforcement)!

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Janie Crouch’s Bio and Links

USA TODAY bestselling author Janie Crouch writes what she loves to read: passionate romantic suspense. She is a winner and/or finalist of multiple romance literary awards including the Golden Quill Award for Best Romantic Suspense, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the coveted RITA© Award by the Romance Writers of America.

Janie recently relocated with her husband and their four teenagers to Germany (due to her husband’s job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she’s not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys engaging in all sorts of crazy adventures (200-mile relay races; Ironman Triathlons, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp) traveling, and movies of all kinds.

Her favorite quote: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller.

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Caitlyn O’Leary’s Bio and Links

USA Today Bestselling Author, Caitlyn O’Leary, adores writing Military Romantic Suspense and Paranormal Romance. She started publishing books in 2014. Storytelling has been a tradition in her family for years, and she still holds on to the letters she has received from family members since her childhood.

Caitlyn lives in California with her husband John of sixteen years who often makes guest appearances in her reader group, Caitlyn’s Crew. Getting to know so many people within the reader community is almost as much fun as writing each new novel. So join her reader group so she can get to know you, and see if she and John can make it to year seventeen!

You never know what kind of book she’ll write next, it all depends on what strikes her fancy. Be sure to keep in touch.


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Elle James’ Bio and Links

Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.

As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!

Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.

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Greyson – The K9 Files Book 9 By Dale Mayer


Greyson
The K9 Files Book 9
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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Combining a trip to see his grandparents with hunting down a K9 dog sounds like a good excuse at the time to Greyson. Somehow the K9 had been accidentally flow halfway around the world in the wrong direction and then lost. Finding the dog wasn’t easy, but Greyson follows the trail of destruction the same as the K9 does … and finds the female shepherd protecting a mother and child … So not what he expected.

Jessica didn’t understand why the dog was always around, but the dog was plain scary. Although not as much as everything else going on in her life right now. Most things she blames on her ex-husband, but was he this mean? With her toddler son to protect, she knows she can’t make a mistake that will bring them harm.

As the events escalate, it doesn’t take long to decide who was on her side and who … wasn’t.

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Greyson is starting to think about the future, he is thinking he might like to open an animal rescue but they don’t make much money if any. As he’s thinking about all of that Geir comes over to talk to him. They get on the subject of dogs and the next K9 case comes up. Apparently the dog was supposed to go to Denver but somehow ended up in Hawaii. A rescue their was to house the dog until return shipping could be worked out. Somehow the dog was taken from there and no one knows how it happened.

This gives Greyson the perfect opportunity to visit his grandparents while he tries to locate Kona. Let me say right now that I fell in love with Greyson’s grandparents. His grandfather picked him up at the airport and then they stopped at the rescue so Greyson could get a feel for where the dog was kept. In the process his grandfather falls in love with a Bassett hound named Leo. His grandmother’s reaction to the new family member was just priceless.

It comes to light that there was a fender bender on the road by the rescue around the time Kona went missing. Now Greyson is following pieces of fur to see where she went. He manages to find a spot where she laid down and saw a truck with a bashed in fender leave the house across from that spot. He adds the license plate to his list of things to investigate, sending it off to Badger along with some questions about Kona. A trip to the police station is less than fruitful and once again he talks to the woman at the rescue, this time about the accident. Fortunately he does get a good lead on someone who saw it.

Jessica is one of the people involved with the accident by the rescue. A single mother, she has problems of her own. Most recent is her ex-husband’s sudden desire to get custody of her son Danny. To top that off, she feels like she’s being followed and getting annoying phone calls with no one there. Her mother is also less than supportive, constantly telling her if she hadn’t gotten divorced she wouldn’t have these problems and she should go back to her ex-husband. The man had been abusive, there was no way she was going back to him and no way was she letting him get visitation or custody of Danny.

From the witness to the accident, Greyson is able to track down Jessica. She gives him valuable information about the dog getting into her neighbor’s trash. Trash that usually contains half eaten pizza. They talk a bit and he lets her know he’ll be checking out the alleyway and she lets him check her backyard. He finds more of Kona’s fur and later has just a bit of time with her before the neighbor scares her off.

What happens as it’s getting dark is sort of a turning point, both for Kona and Jessica.

This is a favorite scene.

He’d left his vehicle parked down at the other end of the block, just walking gently up and down the alleyway. He would whistle for the dog every once in a while. As he was coming back, and the darkness had settled, when he had crossed Jessica’s backyard again, Greyson heard a rustling in the trees.

Immediately he stepped up and looked over the gate, expecting to find the dog. Instead he watched a man skulking up the trees. He studied the stranger, dressed all in black with a balaclava over his head. Definitely not good news. Especially in the hot and humid evenings of Hawaii.

He reached over the gate and unlatched it, gently pushing it open. Just as he did so, Jessica opened the back door and stepped out. She was singing a lullaby to her son, walking the patio, completely unaware of the stranger sliding up to the side of the house. From where Greyson stood, he could see just the outline of the man against the patio.

He quickly clicked the gate closed and slid up the side of the fence. He didn’t want to scare away the intruder; Greyson wanted to capture him. Otherwise this would never end. If she had a stalker, the only way to stop it was to nab him.

As he watched, she paced along, quietly singing and walking her son in her arms. Obviously Danny didn’t want to go to sleep tonight. As she went closer to where the intruder was, Greyson’s heart bounced into his throat. He wanted to race around to the front and grab the guy, but that wouldn’t work. Her intruder could have taken Jessica and Danny hostage by then.

As she strolled back over to Greyson’s side again, he gave a small wave, but she didn’t see him. As she turned and headed back toward the other side of the veranda, the stranger came around the corner and grabbed her. She screamed, but what happened next was the complete opposite of what Greyson thought would happen.

As the stranger reached for her, a black streak came ripping through the trees at the far end and leaped onto the veranda, going right for him as he grabbed Jessica and Danny.

Greyson heard the dog growling and then the man screaming when Kona latched on to the man’s wrist, using her military training she had learned. Greyson arrived next on the veranda, grabbing Danny and Jessica. She was frozen from the first attack and stunned by the actions of the dog and now Greyson’s presence. She stared up at him, shocked.

“It’s okay,” he murmured. “Let me handle this.” Danny started to cry just then. Greyson motioned to her. “Take him up to bed,” he said. “Let me deal with the dog and the intruder.”

“Who is he?”

He shook his head, his gaze on the dog and the stranger. “Go,” he ordered. “I’ll figure it out.”

When he heard the glass door close behind him, he walked up as the stranger desperately tried to kick Kona to get away.

Greyson walked over and gave the guy a hard clip to the jaw. The man collapsed on the ground. Then Greyson stepped over the intruder and crouched closer to the dog, saying, “Kona, release.” His tone was hard and left absolutely no leeway for the dog to argue. But the dog growled and glared at him. “You’re right,” Greyson said. “He was attacking that woman and the baby. And I know what you were trying to do. That’s why you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood, isn’t it, girl?”

Kona’s ears lifted and tweaked at the sound of his voice. But she didn’t let go of the intruder.

He said, “Look,” and he lifted the man’s head by the hair, letting it drop with a heavy thud to the veranda floor. “He’s down and out— it’s okay. Kona, release.” She relaxed ever-so-slightly. Instead of growling at Greyson, she just looked puzzled. “Let him go,” he ordered.

This time she released her grip on the man’s arm. Greyson quickly rolled the stranger over, pinned his hands behind his back, kicked off the man’s shoes and grabbed both socks, tied them together, which he then wrapped around the intruder’s wrists, holding the intruder in place. When he looked at the dog, Kona was lying down, whining. He reached out a hand for her to sniff, then gently scratched the top of her head and down around her ears. “That’s a good girl,” he said. “That’s a very good girl.”

Her tail started to wag like crazy.

He looked up at the glass doors to see Jessica standing there, her hand over her mouth. He motioned at her to come outside.

She opened the door slowly. “Is it safe?”

“Yes,” he said. “I don’t know who your intruder is,” he said, “but Kona was trying to save you and the baby.”

She looked at him and at the dog and said, “Seriously?”

“Yes. I think that’s why she’s been hanging around here,” he said. “If you think about it, she’s been guarding you, just watching. This is quite likely the man who hit your car that day.”

He pulled out his cell phone, and, turning on the flashlight, Greyson rolled over the stranger and pulled the balaclava off his face. She gasped. “Oh, my God, it’s him.”

“I think Kona knew that this guy has been hanging around your place,” he said. “She’s a hero, and she worked hard to save you tonight.”

Before he could react or could warn her that it might not be safe, she bent down into a crouch, threw her arms around Kona, and buried her face into the dog’s rough.

Greyson could hear her whispers.

“Thank you so much, Kona. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Kona’s tail went crazy, and she rolled over, still in Jessica’s arms.

Laughing, he said, “Kona, you don’t look all that fierce now.” He reached over and scratched her gently on the neck and chest. He gave her a good belly rub too. “I think those crazy hard days are over now, girl.”

“Absolutely they are,” Jessica said. “I don’t have any dog food though, but I’m sure I’ve got something in the house.”

“What you need to do,” he said, “is go call the cops.”

“What about Kona?” she asked. “We don’t want the dog to be picked up.”

“Do you have any rope?” he asked. “I’ll make a lead and put it on her.”

“I might have something in the garage,” she said.

“First the cops,” he said firmly. “Then go to the garage and see if we’ve got something I can use to restrain her.”

“Do you think she’s still dangerous?”

“No, but, if she’s the model of a well-behaved dog on a rope,” he said, “the police won’t have any argument with me keeping her.”
Dale Mayer. Greyson (Kindle Locations 924-975). Valley Publishing Ltd.

Things get even more interesting when the stalker/attacker gets away leaving two police officers unconscious.

With Greyson and Kona on the job, to track the guy, they make a startling discovery.

Plenty of action and suspense plus an attraction that grows exponentially as Greyson and Jessica spend time together.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Coming Soon!


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 Billionaire’s Betrayal – The Highest Bidder Book 3 by Carmen Falcone


The Billionaire’s Betrayal
The Highest Bidder Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Carmen Falcone

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Madam Alexa learned the hard way to stay away from the opposite sex. She deals with men and takes their money, but doesn’t fall for them. Ever. And, she certainly doesn’t screw them—that is, until a billionaire Texan, who proposes a male virgin auction, catches her attention in every way possible. If the deal works, she’ll make enough money to retire and walk away from everything—no regrets..

Brooks Taylor hates deceiving, but he has no other choice. He’s ready to expose the dirty scheme he believes Madam Alexa runs in her glorified brothel. After all, his sister died because of Alexa’s sordid business. But, keeping his mind off Alexa and his hands and his cock to himself becomes more difficult the longer he works with her. When he learns she’s not the villain he believed her to be, it’s too late to come clean. But, stopping the sizzling attraction pulling them together is… impossible.


Brooks Taylor is determined to find out what really happened to his sister. He doesn’t accept she lost control of her car, she was too good a driver for that. He discovered she was going to sell her virginity at a Madam Alexa auction and that’s where he’s going to start looking.

Brooks approaches Madam Alexa with a twist on her Auction, a male virgin. The idea intrigues her and they start planning. At the same time Brooks is trying to gain access to information about his sister.

Alexa finds a picture of Pamela and confronts Brooks as to why he has pictures of one of her auction candidates. She is appalled that he could even think her auctions weren’t safe but agrees to help him put together her last hours.

There is plenty of sizzle in this book as Alexa and Brooks get closer in spite of themselves. Every clue adds another twist into the mystery as well.

This one truly kept me in suspense until the end.

5 Contented Purrs for Carmen!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Carmen Falcone

Carmen Falcone learned at an early age that fantasizing about fictional characters beat doing math homework any day. Brazilian by birth and traveler by nature, she moved to Central Texas after college and met her broody Swiss husband–living proof that opposites attract.

She found in writing her deepest passion and the best excuse to avoid the healthy lifestyle everyone keeps talking about. When she’s not lost in the world of romance, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, being walked by her three crazy pugs, reading, catching up with friends, and chatting with random people in the checkout line.

She loves to procrastinate, so please indulge her and drop her a line. For more info, visit her website.


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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.
Featuring
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

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

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?

“Help.”

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.

Fuck.

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.

Home.

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!


Fireproof

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.

Damn.

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.

Nika.

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.

“Tonight?”

“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.”

Nothing.

“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.

“Huh?”

“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!


Redemption
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.”

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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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page


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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page


Kel Carpenter & Meg Anne’s
Bio and Links
Kel:
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:
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
Heather:
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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Rebecca:
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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