All posts by carolkittie

I am a retired software developer, avid reader and reviewer. While I read all genres, I love romance and erotic romance. I am devoting this blog to the Authors of Romance, for now. I occasionally review books for Bea's Book Nook where you can catch my reviews for books that do not qualify under the Romance genre.

Yule Be Sorry – Familiar Kitten Mysteries Book 12 by Sara Bourgeois


Yule Be Sorry
Familiar Kitten Mysteries Book 12
By
Sara Bourgeois

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Jingle Bell Hell!!!

When the unthinkable happens, Kinsley has to figure out a way to save her best friend. There’s a bad witch on the loose, and Kinsley’s going to have to stop her before the bodies pile up like presents under the Christmas Tree.

“This book sucks.” – Meri

Note: Ignore Meri’s comments, he loves to grump!

As this book opens Thorn has left Kinsley, and she’s pregnant again. The business she was thinking about starting is now on hold. Unfortunately, she forgot to cancel one of the meetings she had set up and now he’s at the Brew Station and pissed.

Kinsley hopes to soothe his ruffled feathers, and while a fresh cup of coffee and a peppermint brownie seems to work a bit, it doesn’t stop him escalating to rude and insulting. This causes Kinsley to make a bit of a scene and she apologizes to Viv. Not the best way to start a day and it ends even worse.

Dahlia, her cousin and employee leaves her wallet at the shop and returns after hours to collect it. When she opens the shop, she finds a body. Kinsley identifies him as Mr. Carlson the man she had the meeting with earlier in the day.

Jeremy is in charge of the case, and he also brings up his concern about Thorn. He say’s something’s off with him, a feeling he gets when he’s around him but can’t put his finger on.

Then Thorn threatens to take Kinsley to court to get custody of Laney. You know that’s not going to go over well.

Then Meri disappears. Kinsley hasn’t seen him since the arrived at the shop. No one has, and she’s really worried about him.

The nice thing about Meri being a familiar is that we get to know what’s going on with him, and it’s most interesting. But, what Thorn does is in the aftermath is unforgivable.

This is a favorite scene.

The mental hospital I was being taken to was out in the middle of nowhere. I saw the lights appear on the horizon after we turned onto a desolate country road, and it looked every bit like a prison.

Not only was it secluded and enclosed by a tall, barbwire-topped fence, but the entire hospital was surrounded by ghosts. Lost souls who had been buried in unmarked fields on all sides of the hospital.

And when I said lost souls, I meant lost in their own sadness, pain, and anger. I could feel them draining all of the energy from the air, and if I got any closer, they’d drain me too. There would be no magic to get me out.

I had to get away before they drove me any closer. While I didn’t want to do anything to hurt the men who were escorting me to the hospital, I didn’t have the same concern for the transport van.

When the driver slowed down to avoid a huge pothole, I did just a little bit of magic to blow out all four tires. The van skidded sideways to a stop, but no one was hurt.

As soon as we weren’t moving anymore, I once again used magic to fling the back doors open. I hopped down out of the van, I’d behaved so they didn’t have me in any kind of restraints, and ran off into the night.

Not that restraints would have stopped me anyway. I had enough magical juice left in me to undo locks or buckles.

Once my feet were on the ground and running, I had to decide which direction to go. I knew if I stuck to the road, I’d be too easy to catch.

I scouted a path through the field in front of me that didn’t come too close to any of the wandering ghosts. I’d stopped the van soon enough that there weren’t that many.

While I didn’t know for sure if I was headed back toward Coventry, it didn’t matter. I just had to lose the orderlies, and then I could find my way home.

I ran until I got to the highway. That was the first time I really got to take a breath and think.

It was then I realized I still had my phone in my hand. The orderlies had put me in the van with me still clutching it.

“You’ll have to turn that in at intake,” one of them said before closing the doors. He’d nodded his head toward my phone.

Apparently, they didn’t see any problem with me keeping it. Had he been trying to give me a hint? I’d been so worried and stressed that I hadn’t even thought about it.

“Mom!” I said when she picked up.

“Kinsley, where are you?” she asked. “Meri said they took you away in a van!”

“Meri! Meri is there?” I said breathlessly.

“Yes, he’s here.”

“Where was he?” I asked more concerned for Meri than for myself. “Is he all right?”

“We’ll… talk about that later, sweetie. Where are you? Where did they take you?”

“Uh, I’m on the side of Highway 17. Looks like I’m close to exit ninety-nine,” I said.

“Meri’s coming, dear. I’ve fed him three packages of bacon and a glazed donut. He’s going to come there and bring you back. If he can’t, call me right away, and we’ll come out there. It will take us a while to drive that far, so call right away, okay?”

“Mom, can you stay on the phone?” I choked out.

“No, sweetie. When Meri comes through, he’s going so far… It might fry the phone. Turn it off now, so he can come through. As soon as he does, you can call me right back, okay?” she asked.

I agreed, and we hung up. A moment later, thunder rolled through the sky, and there was a flash of light behind me like lightning had struck the field near the highway. But I knew it wasn’t lightning.

Meri came sauntering out of the field and plopped down at my feet. “Give me just a second to prepare, and then we’ll go,” he said. “You’ll need to get down on your hands and knees. I’ve only got enough to make a door big enough for you to crawl through.”

“What’s wrong, Meri?” I asked, and for the first time, I noticed how dirty he was. There were leaves and tiny sticks caked into dirt that stuck to his fur in clumps. “Where were you?”

“It’s a long story. We’ve got to get back. Your father is about to murder Thorn.”
Bourgeois, Sara. Yule Be Sorry (Familiar Kitten Mysteries Book 14). Kindle Locations (688-719). Kindle Edition.

Fortunately, Meri is able to let everyone know what’s going on.

The solution is interesting, practical and funny, well not to Meri but you’ll see why.

The murder, well, that gets solved as well and it really was a surprise. I never saw that one coming.

I am already reading the next book in this series!

5 Contented Purrs for Sara!

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Coming Soon!

Sara Bourgeois

Sara Bourgeois is a Midwesterner through and through. She spends her time writing, reading, herding cats, and standing in her driveway during tornado warnings. (You can’t see them from the basement.)

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Pack Wars – Their Shifter Princess Book 2


Pack War
Their Shifter Princess Book 2
By
May Dawson

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A few months after escaping the coven that drained my magic, life is golden. My little sister Maddie is safe and happy. I have my pack. I’m in love.

But nothing gold can stay…

Maddie’s violent, dangerous birth pack wants her back.

My four men and I face dozens of wolves, intent on taking my little sister by force. If we keep fighting, my pack will be destroyed all over again.

There’s only one sacrifice I can make to end this pack war.

Myself.

If you haven’t read the first book in this series, STOP! Go back and read it first this book continues shortly after that one ends.

In the last book we learn that Piper is a Shifter Princess as is her sister Maddie. Their adoptive father was a witch whose coven stole them from their parents and bound their power and in Piper’s case her ability to shift as well.

Piper is the Princess of Callum’s pack, she is also the fated mate of Callum, Josh, Nick and Kai. Right now, they are all living together, including Maddie in the house outside of town. They are all training physically and Callum is working on breaking the rest of the curse put on Piper.

Piper’s also having a recurring nightmare of drowning, neither Maddie nor her can swim so it’s particularly frightening. Kai takes Piper shopping for a bathing suit but they play some arcade games and have lunch first. As she’s getting dressed after trying the last suit, Kai bursts into the dressing room. There are wolves in the mall, they are not their pack, and they need to get away.

Kai makes it possible for Piper to get in the truck and to relative safety to call Callum, but she returns for him after the call. They get away just as Callum is pulling in, Kai jumps into the back of Callum’s truck and they rush home.

Things are tense, the other pack has many more wolves and they really won’t have a chance in an attack. They are preparing to protect Piper and Maddie anyway. What happens when that attack comes is quite the surprise.

This is a favorite scene.

I ran for the door, knowing that I would have to do something to stop this battle before every wolf I loved was murdered.

As soon as I wrenched it open, Nick’s glowing wolf eyes met mine, and he growled at me. He butted me with his big head, trying to push me back into the room.

“Sorry, Nick,” I told him. I pushed him away from me, hard as I could—his enormous body barely moved—and ran for the stairs. He bounded after me, but I called back over my shoulder, “Protect Maddie!”

That pulled him to an abrupt stop, looking over his shoulder at the open door where my sister still slept innocently.

“I promise I know what I’m doing!” I called back, which was a lie. “Just take care of her!”

He left out a small whine of desperation, but he paced back to my sister’s side to protect her.

By the time I reached the front door, which stood open, I could hear the sounds of battle raging. Wolves snapped at each other, involved in a pitched battle. Callum was trying to make it through the sea of white and gray fur and snapping mouths—it looked like he was trying to fight his way to the alpha—but there were so many wolves between them.

The alpha stared at me, his eyes boring into mine even from this distance.

“We’re not here for your princess.” His voice boomed, rolling across the field. “We’re here for ours.”

Maddie. They wanted Maddie.

“She’s not here.” I took a step down the porch stairs. “Call them off.”

He shook his head. “Nothing doing, sister.”

I took another step. It felt like I was descending into Hell, into this fury of raging wolves. I had to stop them.

“You can take me,” I said. “If you show me you can be trusted with my sister, I’ll tell you where to find her.”

The faintest smile twisted his lips. “She’s not your sister.”

“And she’s not your pack princess yet,” I said. “She’s a little girl.”

Kai let out a scream—I would have known his voice anywhere, even in wolf-form—and as my eyes desperately sought him out in the crowd, I saw the spray of blood that covered his fur and the fur of the wolves that surrounded him. A snarling wolf bounded toward his throat as if it would rip his life away.

“I love her!” I said. “Even if she’s not my sister by blood. If you won’t hurt her, that’s all I need to know. I’ll send for her. But I need to see that first. Call them off.”

His eyes glittered from across the sea of fur and blood. “You have command in your voice. Does it work with your wolves?”

That condescending jackass.

He whistled, and suddenly the wolves attacking mine whirled from battle and ran back behind him, forming a long line that stretched across the pines.

Callum staggered in front of me, bloodied but with his shoulders still held proudly. He was going to stop me.

“I know what I’m doing,” I promised him. “Save the pack to fight another day.”

Maybe this pack would take my offer in earnest. Maybe they would take me as hostage.

Either way, if my sister was safe, if my pack survived, I would face what came. Otherwise, I would lose them all tonight.

Callum tried to block my way, but his front leg was broken, and he couldn’t move fast enough. There was blood all across his white fur, bleeding from his shoulder and his neck. His deep hazel eyes met mine, human in that broad wolf’s face. He might well be too weak now to shift back. But wolves healed fast. I had to count on that, because I didn’t know how Kai was doing.

“See you soon,” I promised him around the lump in my throat.

I walked across the vast lawn to the alpha wolf, who waited with his arms crossed over his chest.

“You offer yourself as a trade, for now?” he said.

“If you promise you won’t hurt them,” I said.

“Any more than I already have.” A cruel smile twisted his lips

I nodded.

“I’ll offer you a month’s peace,” he said. “At the end of that time, I want our girl back.” He leaned in toward me, his voice so soft I had to strain to hear him. “Or I’ll kill each wolf while you watch. Princess.”

“I’ll take it.”

“Good.” He raised his voice, then, addressing Callum and the others. “She’ll be safe under my protection. But if you come for her, I’ll come for you.”

Without further discussion, he bent forward, driving his shoulder into my stomach. He threw me over his shoulders easily.

Then he turned and ran, and his wolves followed.
Dawson, May. Their Shifter Princess 2: Pack War. Kindle Locations (1140-1182). Kindle Edition.

They guys aren’t pleased that Piper went with the Alpha of the other pack but he understands why she did it. She would protect Maddie with her life, against anyone, even Maddie’s parents.

Maddie doesn’t remember her parents even though she was older when she was taken. The witches had altered her memories just like they did Piper.

When Piper finds the pack lives on an island, she finds herself wondering if her nightmare is more premonition than just a dream. Only time will tell.

There is much to learn about this pack, it’s large and there is descent. Not everyone approves of the way their Alpha, Arthur handled things and resent Piper’s presence.

Piper has two allies right from the start, Finn and Sebastian, they are twins and at first, she had mistaken Sebastian for Finn. Authur’s beta Logan is their brother, so they seem to get away with quite a bit.

One thing Authur makes clear, is Maddie isn’t his fated mate, but would be for the next generation. Piper makes more friends here as she learns of how this pack got so large. Caroline and Fiona are best friends but only Caroline was turned voluntarily. It wasn’t Arthur it was the previous Alpha, his brother, who perpetrated those events.

Through a series of events, Arthur learns Piper can’t shift and what they are doing to remove the spells. It seems the most effective way to do that is to kill the witches who set it on her.

We learn much about pack princesses in this one as Piper starts having those same feelings for Arthur, Logan, Finn and Sebastian as she does for her Blissford Pack.

It’s quite the journey in this book, from enemies to adversaries, these two packs even though one far outnumbers the other find that path to peace. The Coven isn’t going to sit around and wait for them to do them all in. War is coming.

There is plenty of action, suspense, romance and sizzle in this book, I couldn’t put it down and I am about to start the third book in this trilogy.

5 Contented Purrs for May!

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May Dawson

May Dawson writes reverse harem romance about magic, strong women, and the men who love them. A native New Yorker, she’s settled in Virginia, where she is raising two red-headed troublemakers and a passel of cats.

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Their Shifter Princess – Their Shifter Princess Book 1 by May Dawson


Their Shifter Princess
Their Princess Shifter Book 1
By
May Dawson

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Love could cost me everything.

It’s love that keeps me coming home, to the beautiful house full of ugly secrets. As soon as I’m eighteen, as soon as I can take custody of my little sister myself, I’m going to run.

But my world is turned upside down by four mysterious men. The heat between us is intense. Their protectiveness feels real. Overnight, they become gods in our town. They can’t seem to stay away from me. I can’t resist them.

I can’t risk my chance to save my sister, though. Not even to save my happily-ever-after.

Is there any hope I can take care of her…and still lose myself in the arms of these men?

Piper is a high school senior, and she walks her sister Maddie to school on her way every morning. On this particular morning their walk is interrupted by Eli Kingston, his father and hers are friends although business rivals. She knows it’s trouble and send her sister running the short distance to the elementary school gates.

Eli wants a date and Piper has the perfect excuse, she’s not permitted to date, her father won’t allow it. Eli won’t take no for an answer and Piper’s getaway is perfect. Unfortunately, in the process she lost her wallet and fancy calculator. It’s already been a long day and it’s just beginning.

She’s leaning her head on her arms and concentrating on her breathing when someone behind her asks if she’s okay. This is an unusual occurrence since no one ever asks. It’s one of the new boys, Josh and he’s attractive and seems nice.

With no wallet she has no lunch, so she heads out to her favorite hill to read. Only it’s already occupied by Josh and two others. Josh’s brother Nick and cousin Kai. They’d moved here with their Uncle Callum. While they ate she got the impression from their questions the like Missy and wanted to dethrone Eli.

Ther repercussions from her encounter with Eli that morning comes to a head when Eli shows up with his father after dinner. This is when we see her father’s true nature and it’s not pretty.

Her father also finds her cash stash in the process of having her empty her room except for her schoolbooks. He engages with her in the garage where she’s putting her things. She manages to get away before he hurts her too badly and drives one of the cars away. She heads out of town to find a place to feel safe for the night. A dog dashes out in front of her car and when she jams on the brakes the car spins. When it comes to a stop, she checks to be sure no one is following her and then checks on the dog.

This is a favorite scene.

I knelt just out of reach, afraid the dog would snap at me in its pain, but its bright, keen eyes seemed intelligent. It whined again, and I realized there was blood all over the white fur, as if he’d broken his back leg.

“I’ve got to get you to the vet,” I said, and he whined louder. “Jeez. How am I going to do this?”

He was such a big dog. He might weigh damn near as much as I did.

“Hang on,” I told him, before running back to the car. I leaned into the driver’s side and popped open the trunk. My father was an abusive asshole, but he was also practically a Boy Scout in his preparedness. The trunk was always organized neatly with spare blankets, emergency flares, first aid equipment and bottled water. Sure enough, I found a stiff gray wool blanket. If I could wrap the dog up in it, I could hopefully help buffer myself in case he snapped when I tried to pick him up.

I returned to the dog, making comforting noises, and draped the blanket around his shoulders. He looked at me with a look of extreme doubtfulness written across his doggie face.

“Trust me,” I said. “I know I don’t seem that competent based on my driving skills, but I promise. I’m going to take care of you.”

I tried to ease him into my arms, and he moaned.

“What the hell are you doing?” It was a boy’s voice, rough and gravelly and familiar.

I almost dropped the dog as I looked up, shocked.

Kai stood at the edge of the road. His chest was heaving, as if he had been running. Since he wore nothing but jeans, I could see the way his chest fluttered with his breaths. He had powerful pecs and chiseled abs that were surprising for a high school boy. He raked his hand through his dark hair as he stared at me.

“You hit the dog,” he said flatly. “I didn’t mean to.”

“You hit my dog,” he said, and the dog barked at him, as if he was irritated. “You keep turning up, don’t you, Piper?”

“I didn’t mean to hit your dog,” I snapped. “It was definitely not on tonight’s to-do list. Now we have to get him to a vet—will you help me move him?”

Kai came and stood next to me instead, then dropped to my side to examine the dog. His shoulder brushed mine. His naked skin felt hot to the touch, his muscle hard, and something in me stirred at the unthinking way his body brushed against mine. It was just practicality that brought him so close.

He looked his dog over, his movements quick and impatient, then gentle when he touched the dog’s hindquarters.

“It’s broken,” he said.

“That’s why I’m trying to get him to the vet,” I said. “I could’ve told you that.”

He shook his head. “Christ. This night just keeps getting better.”

“I’m having a great night too,” I promised him, irritated by his tone.

His gaze turned my way, and his eyes widened as they met mine. “What the hell happened to you? Were you hurt in the accident?”

“You’ve got a lot of questions,” I shot back, mimicking his complaint earlier in the day.

He took my jaw in two fingers, his gaze steady on my face. My breath caught at his grip on my chin as he examined me. There was something so caring in the touch, even though he was so brusque and rude.

“That wasn’t from the accident,” he said decisively. His tone was raw and angry, and I felt a spike of fear before he suddenly released me. He jumped to his feet. “Come on. I’ll get the dog into the car. It’ll drive, won’t it? You can drive us home.”

“Yeah, I can drive. But home won’t work. He needs a vet—”

“I can do better than a vet,” he told me impatiently. “My uncle’s a doctor. You going to take us or not?”

“Of course I’ll take you.” I’d do anything to undo what had happened tonight.

He leaned forward, scooping the dog into his arms. “Take it easy, dog.”

The dog whined louder, a keening sound that broke my heart, as he lifted it easily off the ground. The dog had to be well over a hundred pounds, but Kai carried it easily to the backseat of the car. I scrambled to open the car door for him, and he bundled the dog into the backseat. Then he slid into the seat too, as if I were their chauffeur. It was the least I could do after that, anyway.

I ducked into the seat and pulled the seatbelt across my lap. “Where am I going?”

“I’ll tell you,” he said.

I put the car into drive and carefully pulled onto the road. I glanced in the rearview mirror. Headlights were coming, in the far distance, and I slammed my foot down on the gas. The car leaped forward.

“Christ!” Kai said again.

“Sorry.” I glanced in the rearview again, looking for the headlights, and met his eyes. They looked black in the dim light of the car, and he stared at my reflection knowingly.

“Since your car still drives just fine, why didn’t you drive away?” he asked.

“I didn’t know if the dog was okay,” I said. “What’s his name?”

“He doesn’t have a name. He’s a stupid mutt. I’m not sure we should keep him if he’s going to run off like that.” He rattled the words off, but his tone didn’t quite sound genuine. His words were cruel, but it didn’t seem like he meant them. Maybe I was giving him too much benefit of the doubt, though.

“He’s beautiful,” I said, thinking of the alert, intelligent face and the black-lined green eyes that stood in contrast to the gray-and-white fur.

Kai snorted. “If you like dogs so much, maybe you shouldn’t hit them with your car.”

I didn’t bother to say it was an accident again. What if the dog wasn’t okay? It hadn’t been my fault, but that didn’t take away the horror of that impact, or of the dog groaning, or the way the dog had looked at me for help, as if despite what I’d done, he believed I could help him. I bit down hard on my lower lip, trying to fight back the hot tears that flooded my eyes.

Kai leaned forward, his eyes wide with alarm, and for a second, it looked as if they were full of empathy. “Are you crying?”

“No,” I lied, my voice coming out thick.

“Jesus, girl, you aren’t good enough behind the wheel to cry and drive at the same time!” he said.

His blunt statement flipped my sadness over to anger, and when I blinked, those tears streaked down my cheeks. My gaze was clear again. “You are an ass, you know that?”

His lips quirked up sardonically. “I don’t owe you anything, Piper. Not even nice. We don’t know each other yet.”

“I try to be nice to everyone,” I said.

“How’s that working out for you?”

His cold words hung in the air.

“Not that great, I guess,” I said. “Since that’s how I ended up meeting you.”

At the insult, his lips widened, his smirk bordering on a genuine smile.

“You should be careful who you’re nice to. This world is full of wolves, and worse.”

“Just because you’re nice doesn’t mean you can’t take care of yourself,” I told him.

“You don’t look like you’ve been taking care of yourself, girl,” he said. “Who did that to you?”

I shook my head.

“Tell me.” A low, fierce edge found its way to his voice. As if he cared. After the way he’d talked to me, so cutting and rude, he must just be recreationally curious. I wasn’t going to shake out all my hurt and agony for his amusement.

“I don’t owe you anything,” I said, repeating his words.

He straightened up. For a second, his eyes met mine in the rearview again. He looked…wounded.

“You’re right,” he said. “You’re going to turn left at the intersection. Then slow down…the turn into our property is easy to miss.”

“All right.”

“It’s lonely out there,” he said. “Not a lot of people know our place.”

My father wouldn’t find me there. Kai’s words might have been chilling, another time, but right now it reminded me that I was safe. I’d take my chances with the wolves of the world. The worst danger to me was in bright rooms and big houses.

“Do you mean to be creepy or does it just kind of come naturally?” I asked.

“You always this sassy?” He leaned forward again, pointing into the darkness to the left. “You better brake. You’re going to miss it.”

I slammed on my brakes and made a hard left.

I looked behind me, one last time, at the dark, empty road I was leaving behind.

The car bounced over a rough, unpaved driveway, a long track that wound through the woods, as I headed off toward god-knows-where.
Dawson, May. Their Shifter Princess. Kindle Locations (475-551). Kindle Edition.

Josh is surprised when Piper is with Kai when he brings in the dog. He does help her feel safe and comfortable though.

For the reader it’s easy to put two and two together and realize the dog is actually Nick. However, it’s a while before Piper learns about all of that.

There’s a lot of deception and secrets with Piper’s father, and secrets extend to Josh and his family and Eli’s as well.

There’s plenty of suspense and lots of angst as this story unfolds. So many secrets revealed as Piper, Josh, Eli and Nick begin a relationship.

5 Contented Purrs for May!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

May Dawson

May Dawson writes reverse harem romance about magic, strong women, and the men who love them. A native New Yorker, she’s settled in Virginia, where she is raising two red-headed troublemakers and a passel of cats.

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Moon Malediction – Familiar Cat Mysteries Book 11 by Sara Bourgeois


Moon Malediction
Familiar Cat Mysteries Book 11
By
Sara Bourgeois

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A savage killing makes Kinsley question if Dorian really is who he says he is… Can she clear his name? What truth will the light of the full moon reveal?

Meri found that it was Kinsley who was suppressing the magic in the area and has broken that but it’s different as we saw in the last book when Thorn was injured. Meri is also growing from the kitten size he had been turned into from his wish.

As this book opens Kinsley is getting coffee at the Brew Station when a crow crashes into the window. It’s disturbing and leaves behind a heaviness to the air a dreariness. She kicks the energy away and heads to her shop across the square. There she’s met by the scent of blueberry scone incense her cousin and new employee Dahlia had ordered. Along with Reggie and Dahlia they ate the breakfast Kinsley brought while waiting for the first tour group to come to the store. They’d just finished when Maura Barlow came in looking for wolfsbane.

The conversation about that and then the request for datura had Kinsley questioning her more thoroughly. Those things aren’t used for anything good, and it appears she intended to use them on her cheating husband. It also leads to quite the threat. She accuses Kinsley of being terrified of her witch side and she needs to overcome that or pass on the leadership to someone who cares more than she seems to.

While Kinsley has much to contemplate, she’s also not feeling well. When she picks up pepto bismol at the pharmacy the pregnancy tests catch her eye, she argues with herself and gets those too. After dinner Thorn knocks the bag with the tests off the counter and Kinsley decides to take them then. Results are one positive and one negative and it’s too late to go get another one.

After a restless night she takes Laney with her to the pharmacy and then takes the tests at her parents. She only does three of the five she bought, and they are all positive. She’s most definitely pregnant. It’s early for work so she takes a drive to sort out everything going through her head, when she reaches the forest preserves the woods calls to her she needs to commune with nature. After parking she gets out and Meri scares her when he jumps out of her bag. He’s not going to let her wander in the woods alone especially not now. They’re not that far up the trail when she sees something in the trail, Meri goes closer to investigate and tells her they need to leave right away, the body had been attacked by something large and Meri suspects supernatural.

This is a favorite scene.

“What is that?” I asked. “Please tell me that’s not what I think it is.”

“Stay there,” Meri commanded. “I’ll check it out.”

I stopped in my tracks, something told me that I should listen to him. He trotted up the trail and looked at the dark shape that was lying in front of us. He sniffed a few times and then turned tail and ran back to me.

“It’s a body,” Meri said. “And we need to go.”

“Well, I need to call it in first. I need to tell Thorn. We can’t just… Leave them here,” I said and waved my hands around like it was obvious why we couldn’t leave.

“No,” Meri said. “We need to go right now.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“You are infuriating,” Meri said. “The body was attacked… By a large animal. Something… Something unnatural. If you are pregnant again, then we don’t know how our magic is going to react. So, we need to get out of here.”

The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Suddenly, I noticed a smell in the air. It was dank and musty. It was almost like wet dog mixed with mud mixed with seawater.

As soon as that smell hit my nostrils, and turned my stomach, I whirled around on my heels. Meri and I made a beeline back down the path. I swore the entire time it sounded like something was behind us, but I didn’t want to slow down enough to turn and look. It would’ve been too hazardous to keep running forward while looking back, so we just kept moving. There were a few times, though, that I swore that the scent got stronger.

Back at the car, I took out my phone to call Thorn. Meri was up on his hind legs with his front paws on the window ledge keeping watch. Occasionally, he’d switch and look out the windshield.

I had to call Thorn four times before he finally picked up. The entire time, Meri kept dashing back and forth between the car’s side windows and the windshield. A few times, he told me just to go, but I kept dialing.

Finally, Thorn picked up. “Hey, babe. I got the text, and it’s great news. But they really need me to focus here. I would’ve called you, but I just couldn’t.”

“It’s not that,” I replied. “That’s not why I called. Thorn, I need to listen to me. I stopped by one of the old nature trails off Highway 77, and a few hundred feet… maybe a quarter-mile onto the trail. I found a body. I don’t know how far it was in actually. I don’t know how far we went.”

“Wait,” Thorn said softly. “You found a body?”

“Yeah, I was out walking trying to get some air, and we found it right on the trail.”

“We?” Thorn asked. “Do you have Laney out there with you?”

“No,” I replied. “I dropped Laney off at my parents’ house. It’s just me and Meri. We were out taking a walk in the woods before I went into work, and I found a body on the trail. Thorn it’s bad. Looks like it was some sort of wild animal attack, except bigger. Meri said that it had to be something supernatural. I don’t know. I was out here trying to get my head together. I wasn’t prepared for this, so I don’t know what to think.”

“Kinsley, you need to leave. You need to take Meri and get out of there. I’ll call my deputies and… Maybe the state police can help us. The county can’t help us right now.”

“Not even for murder?” I asked.

“This accident is bad,” Thorn said. “Hey, is your location within Coventry? Maybe I don’t even have to leave. I could just call it in to the state police.”

“I might be outside Coventry,” I said. “I don’t know if I crossed outside the town line or not. You know how it is out here.”

“I do,” Thorn said. “What I also know is that you need to take that cat and you both go home or go into the shop. I don’t like you sitting out there all alone.”

“I’m not alone. And there are several of these little turnoffs along this highway,” I said. “It would be much easier for you and state police to find the right trail if I wait here.”

“Kinsley…” Thorn started to say.

I interrupted, “The sooner we get off the phone, the sooner you can call it in. I’m staying here, and when you get here I’ll leave.” I had no idea why I was digging my heels in, but something made me want to argue back. Maybe I was just afraid that if I left, another unfortunate hiker would come along and stumble on the body. Or on whatever had killed the victim.

Thorn grumbled, and it softened my mood a little. “Fine, woman. You are the most stubborn…”

“Bye, babe, I love you,” I said and hung up the phone.

“You really are an idiot,” Meri said as soon as I hung up

“Like I said to him,” I responded, “it will be easier for him to find which one of these trails the body is on if we wait here. Plus, we can prevent someone else from walking down the trail. Perhaps ruining the crime scene.”

“Text him the coordinates from your satellite position,” Meri said. “The GPS…”

“We are waiting,” I said. “I could text him the coordinates for the location, but that doesn’t prevent someone else from going down that path.”

“It will be like five minutes, Kinsley. Who will come along?” Meri looked up and down the deserted highway.

“You’re right. It will be like five minutes, so we will sit here. You can get in the trunk if you’re afraid of the big bad wolf.”

“Your hormones are affecting your ability to think,” Meri snarked. “And that big bad wolf thing is far less funny than you know.”

“I’m just tired of… I don’t know. I’m tired of being told what to do,” I said and found myself getting way more irritated than I expected. “Here I am, about to have another baby, and my… people keep telling me what to do. It’s got me so messed up that I even doubted my ability to be a mother to this child. Meri, I am already a mother. I know I can do that.”

“Sorry,” Meri said sheepishly.

“No, don’t be like that,” I said. “I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

“Whatever,” he said and went back to looking out the window.

“Yeah, whatever to you too.”
Bourgeois, Sara. Moon Malediction (Familiar Kitten Mysteries Book 13). Kindle Locations (475-527). Kindle Edition.

Once Thorn arrived Kinsley and Meri leave the scene and bring breakfast to Dorian. There’s a scent of something in his house that Kinsley doesn’t like and makes her suspicious of Dorian. After all, he was once a werewolf. While Dorian and Kinsley prepare to head to the crime scene, Meri is already there doing his own investigating. He does find a clue, but it comes with more questions than answers.

Of course, Thorn has plenty to say about her involvement in an investigation, and even more when she’s investigating with Dorian. Seriously Thorn’s got a problem with being overprotective and Kinsley just isn’t going to take it anymore. Once again, he’s off and running.

I really sympathize with Kinsley. She’s got a lot on her plate and Thorn always seems to make it worse. Even though she’s the one who along with Meri and Dorian seem to be solving the murders around here.

There are plenty of ups and downs as the clues slowly come together adding more than a few twists into play. There’s even a small period of time where Meri is a goat.

I am already reading the next book in this series, somehow, I just can’t stop reading these.

5 Contented Purrs for Sara!

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Sara Bourgeois

Sara Bourgeois is a Midwesterner through and through. She spends her time writing, reading, herding cats, and standing in her driveway during tornado warnings. (You can’t see them from the basement.)

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Black Arts and Bones – Familiar Magic Mysteries Book 10 by Sara Bourgeois


Black Arts and Bones
Familiar Kitten Mysteries Book 10
By
Sara Bourgeois

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Kinsley and Thorn finally get the date night they’ve been discussing for months.

Except an unexpected issue sends them home early, where they find a distraught young woman on the porch waiting for Kinsley’s return. She’s afraid to go home and begs Kinsley for help.

The woman’s house was never haunted before, but lately, she’s had strange and unusual things happening. Unseen eyes watch her from dark corners, and invisible fingers scratch at the floorboards when she tries to sleep.

It all culminates in the attack that sends her fleeing to Hangman’s House for help. Kinsley can’t bring herself to leave the poor woman hanging, so she agrees to investigate.

After a thorough search, Kinsley thinks she’s found nothing.

Until…

The specter appears and leads the women to a shallow grave in the basement.

This book is again in two parts. First let’s remember that magic is at a low, even the ley line isn’t putting out as much. As such, the wards everywhere are not as strong as they once were, so ghosts are more frequent as is the darker magic not used by many except for Kinsley’s Aunt Lilith.

Thorn and Kinsley go out on their first date night since Laney was born, it’s a nice quiet evening, at least until the end. A phone call from her mom has them rushing home, to find a young woman crying on the porch steps. The woman Nora hasn’t slept in a long time and can’t really explain why, except that she thinks her house has a ghost or something. She’s not a witch so Kinsley is limited in what she can say, so invites her inside to discuss the problem.

After getting as many facts as she could Kinsley decides the first thing Nora needs is sleep and sends her home with her mom and dad. In the morning they would deal with whatever is in her house.

At the house the next day, it doesn’t seem like anything is going to happen until it does.

This is a favorite scene.

But the ghost drifted past all of that. She made her way to the door that led to the unfinished utility area of the basement.

We went inside and followed her past the furnace and sump pump. On the other side, we found another door.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“It leads to an unfinished part of the basement,” Nora said.

“We’re in the unfinished part of the basement,” I shot back.

“I guess it’s more of a crawlspace,” she said. “I don’t know. I don’t really go in there.”

“Why did you need a crawlspace under your house if you’ve got both finished and unfinished basement?” I asked.

“It was in the plans for the house, and I didn’t really mind it,” Nora said. “I think it’s because the basement isn’t quite as big as the house above.”

I turned the knob and pushed the door open. Light flooded into the crawlspace from the basement, and it illuminated the room enough for me to see a bulb and chain in the middle. I walked into the room and pulled the chain.

The crawlspace was just another section of unfinished basement with a dirt floor. Its presence made zero sense, and I had to wonder if the builder had just done it to cut corners and costs.

“What about the ghost?” Dad asked as I stood there contemplating the crawlspace.

“Right. The reason we’re here. Why are we here?” I asked the specter.

I didn’t want to speak to her in case she was a demon. Acknowledging them was a sure way to let them into your world, but we’d already followed her down to the basement. That ship had sailed already.

The ghost just remained in the same spot staring at me. Finally, a soft, scratchy whisper came from her direction. “Here,” she said. And then she vanished. The ghost had used up every bit of energy she could draw from to utter that word, and I was sure she wasn’t coming back anytime soon. I’d thought she would have been spent from the night before, but at that point, I was sure there was nothing else she could do. Anger, and perhaps I’d seen a hint of fear too, would only get her so far.

“What does she mean?” Nora asked. “What did she mean by here?”

“I don’t know,” I said, but I walked over to the spot where she’d vanished.

Meri joined me, and we stood there studying the floor for a moment. “The dirt’s different here,” I finally said.

“What do you mean?” Dad asked. He and Thorn joined me at the spot. They both stood there staring at the dirt floor beneath our feet.

“She’s right,” Thorn finally said. “See, it’s raised up just a little higher than the dirt around it. Step back,” he said taking on his authoritative sheriff voice.

“Do you have a shovel?” I asked Nora.

“Out in the garage,” she said.

“Could you go get it?” I asked.

“I should… I don’t know. Should I call for backup?” Thorn asked.

“For what?” I asked. “We don’t know what’s down there yet.”

“Can’t be anything good,” Meri snarked since Nora was out of the room grabbing a shovel.

“I’m going to call it in,” Thorn said.

“Call in what?” I asked. “I don’t know. Something isn’t right, though. I can feel it.”

“We can all feel it,” Dad said. “Just give it a few minutes, son.”

Nora returned shortly after that with the shovel. At that point, Thorn stood off to my side suspiciously watching the hole. He wasn’t a witch, but I didn’t for a second doubt his intuition. He’d always been able to see through the veil that covered Coventry, and that meant Thorn could see things others could not.

My father had wandered out to the bigger unfinished area of the basement, but he returned with Nora. She stood there for a moment looking between us, but it didn’t take long for Thorn to reach out and take the shovel.

“I can do that,” Dad said.

“So can I,” I added.

“Let me,” Thorn said calmly. “It will let me feel like I’m contributing.”

Nora looked puzzled by his statement, but she didn’t say anything about it. Instead, she started to play host. “Does anybody need a drink? It will help me feel like I’m contributing something.”

“I’m probably going to need some water,” Thorn said as he scooped up another shovelful of the dirt.

“Some water would be good,” I said.

“You guys don’t think that ghost is going to come back when I’m away from you, do you?” Nora asked. “I felt a bit creeped out when I was in the garage, but I hadn’t turned the light on, so I’m pretty sure that’s why.”

“I don’t think she’s coming back any time soon… if ever,” Dad said. “But I’ll go up with you to get the water if it will make you feel safer.”

Nora nodded to Dad, and they left to get the water. I turned my attention back to Thorn’s digging. Meri sat right at the edge of the hole peering down into it. You’d have thought he was in Thorn’s way, but he’d somehow managed to position himself in just the right spot.

Thorn didn’t have to dig much farther. Nora walked into the room with two bottles of Fiji water, and she gasped.
She also dropped the bottles, and Dad caught them.

My husband stepped away from the hole he’d just dug and took out his phone. “I can’t get any reception in here. I’ll need to go upstairs. You guys should come with me.”
Bourgeois, Sara. Black Arts & Bones (Familiar Kitten Mysteries Book 10). Kindle Locations (473-520). Kindle Edition.

A few more twists and turns here as Kinsley gets sick and the investigation goes on without her. However, she does in fact become the person to solve it.

The second part of this book starts at Lainey’s birthday party. Kinsley has hired a clown to entertain the children, unfortunately the reaction to him is not what she expected, and neither is the clown. He turned up drunk and she has to fire him. Turns out Thorn isn’t a fan either, and his reasoning is interesting.

Then a clown turns up dead at a local playground. It wasn’t the same clown Kinsley had hired, so there is obviously more than one clown in town.

There’s now a report of a machete wielding clown, and Thorn goes to investigate. In the process he ends up attacked and in the hospital. While Kinsley is signing paperwork, another victim is brought in this one has a balloon tied around his wrist.

Kinsley is also finding that healing is draining her life force which had never happened before. More things that need answers to be sure.

Twists, turns, surprises and so much more as this is solved.

I am starting the next book already.

5 Contented Purrs for Sara!

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Sara Bourgeois

Sara Bourgeois is a Midwesterner through and through. She spends her time writing, reading, herding cats, and standing in her driveway during tornado warnings. (You can’t see them from the basement.)

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Code Name: Cayman – K19 Allied Intelligence Team One Book 2 by Heather Slade


Code Name: Cayman
K19 Allied Intelligence Team One Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Slade

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A man of strength
A man of danger.
Cayman will destroy anyone threatening his world.

I take my job seriously. I’m strong. Hard as nails. Nothing hurts me, and I refuse to let anyone hurt those I love.

As the new commander of the UK Task Force on Human Trafficking, I have important work to do, and innocent lives to protect. There’s no time for mistakes or distractions.

But when I encounter the beautiful and damaged Bexli, I’ll move mountains to keep her safe. After the hell she’s endured, she needs my strong exterior more than anything. For the first time, my hard shell just may soften with her touch.

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NOTE: Review may contain spoilers

The opening of this book introduces us to Bexli and her plight. She’s a captive of the human trafficker known as Mithras. She was planning her escape and she’d only get one chance at it.

In the UK, Winston ‘Cayman’ Trace is about to greet the French ambassador to the UN and leader of the UN’s Coalition Against Human Trafficking along with his boss Z Alexander. There are a couple of promotions coming down one of which is Margeaux “Nemesis” Jordan being named the head of the UN Coalition, and Cayman her replacement as Commanding Officer of the UK Task Force. As he reflects on this promotion, he wants to share it with someone he considers the most important person in his life, Bexli. They’ve been friends since he was eight years old and he’s shared all his accomplishments with her. Unfortunately, calling her would have to wait as there is more business to take care of.

Once he is able to call, it goes to voice mail, and he pulls up the last photo she sent him, one of the mysterious Lorenzo Moretti. He’s wondering if she’s in a relationship with him since he’s the one who offered her this chance to model in Milan, where she’s been since September. It’s then he notices it’s been six weeks since he’s heard from her. No other replies to his texts or messages. He texts her a brief message he has news and for her to call him before he gets called away.

Nemesis received a brief from Marchand and it has pertinent information. With everyone gathered, Cayman lowers a viewing screen as Nem hooks up her laptop, the screen fills with a photo of Mithras. Cayman couldn’t breathe, he started sweating and couldn’t say a word as Poseiden gripped his shoulders. He swiped at his phone and handed it to Poseiden, it was him. Lorenzo Moretti is Mithras.

With the return of his phone he runs outside, the panic he feels is overwhelming thought. He knows now that Mithras has Bexli and he can’t think straight.

Ares, Poseiden and Nemesis are all trying to calm him. The brief from Oleander suggests an auction on the dark web, and Zeppelin and Magnet are checking the site for Bexli, then they can plan. With Bexli’s image found they are waiting for Wren and Wilder to trace the IP address when an update hits with the notification the auction will open in 24 hours. The clock is ticking.

With the location found, they successfully take it down, rescuing the women they found there. The problem is Bexli wasn’t there. She had managed to somehow escape and they have to find her. They do manage to track her movements and enter a restaurant to have drinks where they believe she is.

This is a favorite scene.

We’d been at the restaurant a few minutes and, so far, hadn’t seen anyone matching the description the guard gave of the nurse. An older woman was going in and out of what I assumed was the kitchen while a younger man took our order. Both stole surreptitious glances at the four of us. We’d arrived shortly after it opened. Poseidon and Delfino played the role of one couple, while Oleander and I played another.

“According to the Dopler device, there are two people above us but in different rooms,” O whispered, looking at the unit she held beneath the table.

The man returned and delivered our drinks.

“Perhaps we could get a recommendation for a place to have dinner later,” I said, looking between Poseidon and Delfino.

When she looked up at him and, I assumed, reiterated what I’d just said, he responded in Maltese. Once he left the dining area, though, Oleander said she was certain he’d understood me. She took another look at the radar device. “It appears someone is headed up a staircase near the rear of the building.” She waited for a couple of seconds. There are now three people gathered together directly above us.”

“I cannot wait another minute. I know Bexli is here. I can’t explain why. I just do.” I pushed the chair back and stood. “Cover us,” I said to Oleander and Delfino when Poseidon stood as well.

I burst through the door we’d seen the two people go in and out of, confirming it led to a kitchen. The only person immediately visible was the woman. When I drew my gun and pointed it at her, she dropped the spoon she held and raised her hands.

Delfino approached her, putting her finger in front of her mouth, indicating the woman should remain silent.

Poseidon pointed to the back door I’d already spotted. We rounded a corner, found the stairs leading to the second floor, and crept up them.

Once we reached the top, I rounded another corner and nearly sobbed with joy when I came face-to-face with Bexli.

“Release her, or I’ll shoot!” I shouted at the man who’d taken our order and now had his arm around her waist.

“Cayman!” Bexli gasped. “Don’t shoot! It’s okay.” She looked over her shoulder. “Xavier, let me go.”

When the man hesitated, I retrained my eye on him via the sights. “Let her go!” I shouted.

Poseidon took a step around me; his gun was aimed at the woman who stood slightly behind the man. “Step around. Keep your hands where I can see them. Raise them high in the air and walk toward me.” When her eyes scrunched, he spoke to her in Maltese. This time she did as he demanded.

The man, however, still had his arm around Bexli’s waist.

“Who are these men?” I heard him ask her.

“It’s Cayman. It’s who I wanted to call earlier. Remember? I asked if I could make a call?”

His eyes bored into mine, and he nodded once. “You are certain?”

“Yes, Xavier. Let me go before either of us gets hurt.”

He released his hold and raised his hands in the air. I lowered my gun as Bexli ran into my arms.

“You found me!” she cried as we embraced.

“Get her out of here,” said Oleander, walking up behind us with her gun trained on the woman. Poseidon had moved to the man and was restraining him.

“Wait!” said Bexli as I led her to the stairs. She looked over her shoulder at him. “Thank you, Xavier.”

Like before, he nodded once but didn’t speak.

When we reached the bottom, Delfino was standing next to the old woman but hadn’t restrained her.

“Nonna,” Bexli said, twisting out of my arms and rushing over to her.

“Thank you,” she cried, embracing her. I watched the woman cup Bex’s cheek with her palm.

“She said you’ll be safe now,” Delfino told her when Bexli’s head cocked at the woman’s foreign words.

“Thank you,” she repeated, kissing the woman’s cheek before turning back to me.

“Transport has arrived,” said Delfino, motioning to the back door.

I looked down at Bexli’s feet. While she wore socks, she had no shoes. Rather than waste precious time asking her about them, I put one arm behind her knees and gathered her into my arms. She rested her head against my chest, and I carried her outside. Z got out of the vehicle and opened the back passenger door. I set Bexli on the seat and was about to go around to the other side when she grabbed my arm. She shifted to the center, and I climbed in next to her.

I put my arm around her shoulders and drew her close to me.

“How did you find me?”

I rested my head against hers. “There’s time for us to talk about all of that later. For now, let me hold you.”

“Of course.” She stiffened, and I eased my grip but didn’t let go.

“We received intelligence that a man we’ve been looking for was believed to be holding an auction. I recognized him as the one in the photo you sent to me. From there, we traced the dark web site to Gozo.”

“An auction?” she whispered in a ragged voice.

“Shh, my darling,” I soothed.

“What kind of auction?”

“Bex…”

She tried to pull away, but I wouldn’t let her.

“What kind of auction, Cay?” she demanded.

“We discovered the man who lured you to Milan is a known human trafficker.” Did I really need to say the rest? It was horrific enough to think it. I didn’t want to utter the words I knew would only terrify her more.

“I was to be a s-slave?”

I raised my other hand and cupped her cheek, similar to the way the old woman had. “You’re safe now. That’s all that matters.”

“What about Moretti?” “We’re tracking him.” It was as close to the truth as I could get.

She turned her face toward me. “I should’ve killed him. He… he…”

“Shh,” I soothed again.

“Where are we going?” she asked when Z, who’d remained silent during the drive, pulled through the gates of the compound.

“We brought a team to the island. This has served as our base of operation.”

When she nodded, the coarseness of her hair abraded my cheek.

“Cay—”

The dampness from her tears mixed with my own. I couldn’t speak, even to comfort her.

Z pulled up to the portico of the compound’s main house. I gathered Bexli in my arms, then approached the front door, where Delfino was waiting for us.

“Hello, Bexli. My name is Kima,” she said after stepping aside so we could enter and I set Bex on her feet. “Like Cayman, I am here to help in any way you need.”

“A shower?”

“Of course, if you’ll come with me—”

“No!” Bexli’s jagged fingernails dug into the skin on my forearm when I released it from her shoulders. “I need you with me,” she whispered.

“I’ll take it from here,” I said to Delfino. “Where is the clothing you mentioned?”

“With your things.”

I nodded and thanked her. I knew from her dossier that Delfino had extensive training in victim advocacy and trauma counseling. I should’ve considered that and asked her to return to the compound in the SUV with us. However, I was grateful she’d somehow managed to arrive before we did.

I led Bexli up the staircase and down the hallway. The room I’d been assigned was one of the larger ones and had a rather luxurious en suite bath. As promised, several articles of clothing were laid out on the bed. Bex was so distressingly thin that I had no doubt even the smallest sizes would hang on her. However, not likely as much as the flannels she had on now.

She held onto me as I walked to the shower area. When I reached in to turn it on and adjust the water’s temperature, I noticed her gaze longingly at the oversized tub.

“Would you prefer a bath?” I asked.

“May I?”

I shut the water off in the shower. “As Kima said, we’ll do everything in our power to give you whatever you need or want, Bex.”

“I need you with me, Cay.”

“Of course.”

Even when I moved to run water in the tub, Bexli kept her hands on me. It was a perplexing contrast to how she’d behaved at the restaurant. There, she’d seemed more confident, more self-assured. Was it because of the man who’d kept her from immediately coming to me? Was he holding her in his arms more than captive? And in the kitchen, she’d immediately raced over to the old woman and embraced her. I stopped myself from asking her about either of them or how she came to shelter with the family of someone Mithras employed. There would be ample time for questions later. I’d not allow myself or anyone else to make Bexli feel as though she was being interrogated.

“How can I assist?” I asked after adjusting the water’s temperature as I had with the shower.

“Stay with me.”

I turned her in my arms and guided her to the tub’s edge. When she sat, I knelt before her and removed each of her socks. Bandages, which I gently peeled off, covered the soles of both her feet. While the water may sting the cuts initially, it was necessary to keep the wounds clean.

She sat with her arms at her sides like I imagined a child might with a parent who was helping them disrobe. “Do you need help with the rest?” I asked.

When she nodded, I lifted the shirt slowly, waiting for her to take over. When she made no move to do so, I raised it over her head and tossed it to the floor. “Stand for me, my darling.” I lowered the flannel pants, biting my tongue to keep myself from gasping at how emaciated she was.

I looked up as I felt her body shudder and wrapped my arms around her when I saw tears streaming down her cheeks.

“I’m…” Her voice cracked, and her quiet cry turned into sobbing.

I used the pad of my thumb to wipe her cheeks. “You’re safe, Bexli, and I’ll not allow anyone to hurt you ever again.”
Heather Slade. Code Name Cayman – Heather Slade (Kindle Locations 1068-1150). Kindle Edition.

All this is just the beginning as they still need to take down Mithras, but he is only one of the big players.

There’s also Bexli and the way she feels unworthy of Cayman’s affections. Her family and background embarrass her although it doesn’t matter to Cayman or his parents. This leads to some interesting accomplishments on Bexli’s part as well as ups and downs in her relationship with Cayman.

There is plenty of intrigue and action in this one as we follow the steps in this investigation.

I really can’t wait to see what’s next in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Coming Soon!

Heather Slade

USA Today and Amazon Top 15 Bestselling Author Heather Slade writes shamelessly sexy, edge-of-your seat romantic suspense.

She gave herself the gift of writing a book for her own birthday one year. Forty-plus books later (and counting), she’s having the time of her life. The women Slade writes are self-confident, strong, with wills of their own, and hearts as big as the Colorado sky. The men are sublimely sexy, seductive alphas who rise to the challenge of capturing the sweet soul of a woman whose heart they’ll hold in the palm of their hand forever. Add in a couple of neck-snapping twists and turns, a page-turning mystery, and a swoon-worthy HEA, and you’ll be holding one of her books in your hands.


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Romancing Miss Quill – Willful Winterbournes Book 1 by Sandra Sookoo


Romancing Miss Quill
Willful Winterbournes Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Sandra Sookoo

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Lightning doesn’t strike twice…

Arthur Charles Winterbourne, Earl of Ettesmere, at the age of forty-four is done indulging in fanciful matters such as love and romance. When his wife died, he was brokenhearted. During the midsummer season, he and his siblings join their mother at the Berkshire countryside for revelry and entertainment, but all his wants is to shut himself away and leave living to the ones who believe in happiness after loss.

Romance doesn’t hold a candle to science…

Miss Juliana Quill has no time for courtship or attracting a man, which is why she’s on the shelf at seven and thirty. A self-taught astronomer, she looks after her aging father and wants nothing more than to chart the stars and perhaps discover a new heavenly body. That gives her more satisfaction than marriage or rearing children ever could. No sense in wishing for more, especially since she missed her chance.

Love appears when it’s least convenient…

When a handful of mysterious notes throw Arthur and Juliana together at every turn, a slow attraction blooms from friendship. Despite their stubborn refusals, desire flares and grows into a romance neither of them ever expected. While Arthur battles with guilt and memories, she’s nearly petrified by their difference, but these two willful, love-shy people will need to open their hearts and minds to grasp a happy ending they’d never dreamed they could have.

I’ve had this book on my tbr pile for a while and was in the mood for historical romance. I was not disappointed.

The book opens with Arthur Charles Winterbourne, the Earl of Ettesmire receiving a letter from his mother requesting him join her and the rest of the family at their country estate in Berkshire for summer. As he’s contemplating this journey his sister Sophie arrives and they discuss the possibility. She also hints at him remarrying, something he really doesn’t want to think about. He’s rescued by his daughter Emily’s return from school. Her reaction to spending the summer in the country is a positive one so it’s decided. He hopes his son John is of a similar mind.

We meet Miss Juliana Quill as she’s perusing the stars from atop her favorite spot on Otis hill near her home outside the village of Wokingham. She’s alone save for companion, an overweight beagle named Regent. She’s long been interested in Astronomy and preferred the stars to socializing. Which is how she finds herself unwed and without prospects at the age of thirty-seven. She’s been following a comet that she’s spotted again years after her brother first spotted it before his death. She’s charting its trajectory and coordinates in the hopes of having it and her recognized by the Astronomical Society of London.

It’s during this foray she meets Lady Emily Winterbourne, the young miss having escaped the manor for a bit of adventure and comes across the wandering Regent and returns him. They have an interesting conversation after which Juliana escorts her home. Her running around without a maid or chaperone would surely be frowned upon if discovered.

Juliana meets Arthur in much the same way as his daughter, when Regent gets away from her. He was walking down the road heading home after meeting with his tenants and his estate manager, when the dog burst from the trees and changed his direction to bounce at his feet.

This is a favorite scene.

“Ah, and who might you be?” He leaned down, picked the heavy animal up into his arms and then chuckled while the exuberant dog licked his face and chin. “Whoever you are, you certainly don’t know a stranger.” Despite the large belly, the dog was surprisingly muscled.

“Regent! Where the devil are you this time?” Though the hail and question were some way off, there was no mistaking the exasperation in the dulcet tones. “I’m growing weary of chasing your miserable hide all over creation.”

“What sort of name is that?” Arthur snorted with laughter as he regarded the dog in his hold. “Ah, you must be named after Prinny, and if so, what a jolly joke indeed.” He peered into the soulful brown eyes of the canine and grinned. “I believe your mistress is on the hunt, and from the sounds of it, she’s not best pleased.”

The beagle woofed with pleasure as he wriggled. This was no lightweight dog. He bussed Arthur’s cheek with his nose.

“I mean it, Regent. Show yourself this instant. I don’t have time for this nonsense.” Seconds later, the owner of said voice broke from the trees and marched over the grass to the road. She held a willow basket in one hand and a leather lead in the other. A bonnet swung from its tied ribbons in the crooked elbow of one arm. When she saw Arthur and the dog in his arms, she sighed. “Oh, botheration.”

“Good afternoon.” He offered what he hoped was a welcoming grin. “I assume you’re the owner of this rapscallion?”

“I am, unfortunately.” She glared at the beagle and then rested her gaze on Arthur. The blue pools of those eyes had him unexpectedly arrested. “He has a nasty habit of squirming away just when I’m about to tie the lead to his collar.”

“Such is a dog’s existence, I’m afraid. Always searching for the next break of freedom.” Though the burden in his arms grew heavier by the minute, he kept hold of the hound while looking over the woman with interest.

Of average height, she possessed a slender frame yet had enough curves to pique a man’s desire. The dress of robin’s egg blue suited her pale complexion and brought out another layer of color in her eyes. Curly black hair caught back in a loose chignon at the nape of her neck drew his regard to the elegant column of her throat, and as he came closer, the afternoon sunlight illuminated a sprinkling of freckles over her upper cheeks and nose. A tiny scar in the shape of a sideways V marred the smooth perfection of her forehead.

How mysterious. The need to know how she’d come by that scar took hold of his brain and wouldn’t let go.

“Well, thank you for finding my dog. He’s a handful at the best of times.”

The sound of her voice wrenched him out of his thoughts. Arthur nodded, for he’d temporarily forgotten how to speak, apparently. “Are you from around the area?” Obviously, she must be. Otherwise, the dog wouldn’t be so comfortable roaming.

“Yes. I live in a cottage not far from the village.” She gestured with the hand that held the leather lead. “About a mile in that direction. Three from Ettesmere Park the opposite way.”

“I see.” He hefted the dog more comfortably in his hold.

She shifted her weight from foot to foot. “By the by, I’m Miss Quill. Usually, I recognize everyone from the village, but your face isn’t known to me.”

“Ah.” Arthur glanced between her and the dog. “Oh! You’re that Miss Quill.” The woman his daughter had told him about at breakfast.

She blinked a few times in rapid succession. “Are there women with my name here in the village?”

“What?” That made no sense. Then he realized what she had asked. He forced a laugh. It sounded rusty even to his own ears. Had it been so long since he’d done it? “Uh, no. Of course not.”

Confusion filled her expression. “Then how do you know me?”

Heat crept up the back of his neck. As introductions went, he was certainly cocking this one up. “My daughter apparently met you two days ago.”

“Oh.” Her perfectly balanced lips formed an equally perfect “O”, and he couldn’t stop staring at those rose-colored pieces of flesh.

What the hell was wrong with him? Where had his manners gone? He knew better than to appear so vulgar in mixed company. After clearing his throat, he asked, “So then you’ve met my daughter?”

“Yes, I actually did. Lady Emily is quite a charming young lady.” She quirked a finely arched eyebrow. “Did she mention when we met to you?”

Was the woman daft that she couldn’t remember? “Sometime in the late afternoon. Beyond tea but before evening.” What difference did it make?

“Right. That is quite true.” Her expression cleared. “We did meet at that time.” She smiled while the fat beagle writhed in his arms. “I found her lovely.”

“She is that. I appreciate your acknowledgement.” His reality suddenly came crashing back around him. He was an earl and a widower with a daughter who he suspected of sneaking out of the house. Why this stranger was corroborating her story was beyond him, but he would discover the why later. “Er, I should give you back your dog.” And quickly, for the corpulent beagle had broken wind and produced a malodorous cloud that had the power to make his eyes water. He moved beyond the lingering odor and came closer to Miss Quill.

“Thank you again for curbing his escape.” She took the wriggling bundle from his arms. Barely, their hands brushed, but a tendril of heat curled up to his elbow. The scent of apricot and vanilla and some sort of flower wafted to his nose to banish the foul smell. “He’s a ridiculous animal, but I adore him. He’s my constant company on the days when my father’s illness becomes trying.”

“I’m sorry to hear that your father is ailing.” Arthur didn’t wish to leave her company so soon. There was something about her that invited confidences, but why? Did Emily feel the same when she’d met this woman? “What does he suffer from?”

“His mind is fading. Some days are better than others, and on the days he’s not lucid, he can turn angry and belligerent.” In that one moment, she appeared vulnerable and afraid before those things vanished under happiness when the beagle licked her cheek. “You wouldn’t need to welcome me back if you wouldn’t run away, Regent.” After another lick, she giggled.

The sound was surprising and captivating. Then guilt crept in to tighten his chest. He was still in love with his wife, wasn’t he? Finding a connection or a tiny bit of interest in someone else felt entirely too wrong.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” He resisted the urge to tug on his cravat. “What do you do to pass the time? Surely you don’t spend all of it at home with your father?” She was well past youthful blooms. “Is there a Mr. Quill?”

A sharp stab of something went through him that he shoved away as soon as it made its presence known. He wasn’t jealous; he barely knew her. What she did in her personal life was no business of his.

She chuckled. Amusement danced in her eyes. “The only Mr. Quill is my father. I have long ago missed my chances to marry, I’m afraid.”

“Why? I mean, you’re an attractive woman. Surely, you’ve had suitors.” Then he berated himself for being rude. Why the deuce was he acting as if he hadn’t a brain in his head?

A blush stained her cheeks. “I have not, actually. My time has been committed to one thing only over the years—the study of astronomy.”

“How fascinating.” And he meant it. Beyond that, he was once more hooked on every word this woman said.

“I think so.” She smiled, set the dog onto the ground, and then firmly and with efficient movements, she tied the lead to the beagle’s collar. When she stood, she met Arthur’s gaze. “Well, I should go. I still need to visit the market and then return to my father. He’ll want tea soon, and the heavens will fall if I don’t serve it to him on time.”

An unexpected laugh escaped him. “That sounds like my mother. Ever since my father died, she has maintained a rigid schedule, perhaps as a way of coping with his loss.” Yet he’d not discovered anything of import about her other than she was unattached. “Shall I see you again?”

Another giggle left her throat. When Regent strained at the lead, she stumbled to the side a few steps. “I know astronomy, my lord, not divination. The future remains a mystery to me.”

He shivered even though it was a hot day. “Perhaps you’re right.”
Sookoo, Sandra. Romancing Miss Quill (Willful Winterbournes Book 1). Kindle Locations (463-524). Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

After this encounter, they both receive a note to meet, with no signature or seal.

Curiosity leads them to follow through and they are both surprised to find the other didn’t write the note. They do however enjoy each other’s company as Juliana gives him a lesson in astronomy.

I was amused as Arthur keeps trying to talk himself out of being attracted to her. Letting go of his grief is a major problem for him and one he battles throughout this book.

There are more notes and these two seem to find themselves in interesting situations. I really like the way things heat up between them as well, although Arthur’s devotion to his late wife gets irritating. For Juliana it’s very hard to win over a ghost and still she tries.

This is a fun story with laughter and some sizzle between older adults. I really loved that Arthur’s family encouraged the relationship that might otherwise be forbidden. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Sandra!

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Sandra Sookoo

Sandra Sookoo is a USA Today bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. She’s written for publication since 2008. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regency-era, serendipity and happenstance in Victorian era romances, or historical romantic suspense complete with mystery and intrigue. Reading is a lot like eating fine chocolates—you can’t just have one. Good thing books don’t have calories!

When she’s not wearing out computer keyboards, Sandra spends time with her real-life Prince Charming in Central Indiana where she’s been known to bake cookies and make moments count because the key to life is laughter. A Disney fan since the age of ten, when her soul gets bogged down and her imagination flags, a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. Nothing fuels her dreams more than the land of eternal happy endings, hope and love stories.

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Fierce Dancer – 82nd Street Vandals Book 9 by Heather Long


Fierce Dancer
82nd Street Vandals Book 9
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Long

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The dancer.
The victim.
The sister.

I’ve worn a lot of labels over the years. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to escape. I hid in my dance. I ran away from my life as much as I could. I fought to be somewhere else, even if I couldn’t be someone else.

One night, after my partner lashed out at me and I’d been hurt, the Vandals took me and never looked back. They introduced me to a world I had no idea existed and a family so much greater than the one I’d been trying to survive.

I gave myself up once to protect them.
I’ve fought for them.
I’ve bled for them.
I’ve killed for them.
And I’d do it all again if it keeps them safe.

My name is Emersyn Sharpe. I was born Ivy Hardigan. When the Vandals kidnapped me, I had no idea how life-changing it would be or how I would find real love. More, I found my place in this world. To have the future I want, I will finally wage war on the past.

NOTE:
FIERCE DANCER is a full-length mature dark, new adult romance with enemies-to-lovers/love-hate themes. The dark romance aspects of this tale continue. Please be aware some situations may be uncomfortable for readers. Trigger warnings can be found in the foreword should you require them. This is a why choose novel, meaning the main character has more than one love interest. This is book nine and the final in the series.

If you haven’t read all the books in this series STOP! Go back and read them all first! This one begins just before the end of Reckless Thief.

While we all know the dire situation Emersyn is in, we are taken back to where she is leaving with Milo to be safe from the events that are about to begin.

I really loved this part since we get to see them as they really get to know each other as siblings. The protection, love and devotion that comes so naturally for Milo, is beginning to show in Emersyn. It’s still new to her, this having a brother. They actually talk about everything, including Lainey, very interesting.

It’s a lot of driving and it’s the next morning as they are approaching the meet up that all their internal alarms go off, this isn’t right, this is an ambush.
We get to see all the interaction before Bradley Sharpe orders his men to bury her. She had her bracelet, Liam would find her, the guys would find her and Milo.

Back at the clubhouse, another piece of the puzzle was beginning to unfold as Freddie, Vaughn and Rome watch JD and the rats pack up the last of the trucks to be sent out. Freddie senses something off but can’t quite put his finger on it. As they are discussing the tattoos Freddie wants, they get a surprise, their mole wants to break out their prisoner. The Mole is exactly who I thought it was. Nah not telling. But Kellen’s phone is compromised, and things go into motion to get to Milo and Emersyn.

With both Emersyn and Milo back at the clubhouse, although Doc has had to keep Milo sedated, Emersyn is in far better shape. Jasper and Liam have been dispatched to collect Lainey and Ezra joins them as well. Liam and Ezra spend much of the flight at each other’s throats. For Lainey it’s a relief when they land.

A reunion of sorts ensues, as Jasper and Liam see Emersyn awake. Tears and hugs then Emersyn along with Lainey and Doc they go to see Milo. Love Lainey and her kickarse attitude.

Downstairs is a waiting game as they wait for all their allies to show up and Emersyn joins them.

This is a favorite scene.

“How is he?” Ezra asked after a prolonged moment in the gruffest tone. That absolutely cost him to even ask.

She tilted her head, then glanced toward us. Her smile when she met my gaze steadied me then her expression sobered as she looked at Ezra. “He’s going to be okay. He needs rest and antibiotics.”

Blowing out a breath, Ezra nodded. “Can I do anything?”

“Coming with Lainey was a lot, and keeping her safe is everything. So, thank you.”

I didn’t grin as Hellspawn completely neutered the bastard’s grumpy mood. “Tell me if you need something else.”

“We got our girl,” Jasper said. “You don’t need to suck up.”

Ezra glared at him and it was my turn to laugh as I focused on the table again. “Don’t bait him,” I said, lining up the next shot. Hearing that Milo would be okay was one thing, but seeing the relief in Hellspawn’s face and hearing it in her voice offered far more comfort.

“Who?” Ezra asked. “Me or him?”

“Both,” Hellspawn answered, drifting closer to the table with Rome following her. She paused to wait for me to finish the shot. When I straightened, lifting my arm, she glided to me and slid up to my side. Wrapping that arm around her, I took a deep inhale of her hair and pressed my cheek to hers.

The tension knotting my spine released and I had to lock my legs to keep from leaning on her. Turning around and leaving five minutes after we got them to safety at the clubhouse burned. But she and Milo both needed Lainey Benedict. Ezra was being a raging dick about bringing her here, so I wasn’t going to fight that battle on the phone. I showed up and Jasper went with me, then we brought them back.

It protected them and shut Ezra up. The reward was right here, cuddling against me. The relief was profound. “I’m alright,” she whispered against my chest. I felt more than heard the words. I soaked in the content as I rubbed her arm and pressed my lips to the top of her head again.

“Need you,” I told her, and she pressed a hand to my chest before she tilted her head back. I didn’t need another invitation to kiss her. She parted her lips at the first brush and I sank into the kiss, half wishing I was fucking into her, but this was enough. The delicate, kittenish licks were enough to make me insane on a good day.

Today? They were the cure for everything ailing me. She sucked on my tongue then nipped my lip like I was taking away her favorite treat. When I deepened the kiss again, she let out the most delightful little groan.

Someone coughed.

Then a second person.

When a third person cleared their throat with almost obnoxious loudness, I growled. It was hard to be irritated when she let out a wild giggle that succeeded in breaking our kiss and I lifted my head to marvel at the light dancing in her eyes as she grinned. “Hi.”

“Hi,” I murmured. “Don’t mind me when I steal you away and lock these assholes out.”

“Awww,” she elongated the complaint with a laugh even as Freddie echoed it. Then the little pair of comedians glanced at each other with equally wild grins. I rolled my eyes. “Don’t be mad,” she teased. “I’m perfectly fine with being stolen by one of you. You just have to bring me back.”

“Fine,” I huffed with all the mock impatience I could muster. When she flicked my nose then kissed me again, I adored her with my eyes. “Look at that, you’ve kissed me right into submission.”

“Bullshit,” Jasper sneezed and Ezra, the prick, burst out laughing. An alarm went off on my phone— and everyone else’s. I slid Hellspawn right back to Rome and pulled the phone out to check.

“Friendly,” I said, before I headed to the door. Adam had arrived and it was good. I didn’t leave the clubhouse alone. Vaughn and Freddie trailed me, and there was no mistaking the sawed-off shotgun Vaughn carried. Yeah. We weren’t soft balling this.

I messaged Adam to pull inside and hit the remote to open one of the exterior rolling doors. He didn’t answer, just drove his black Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG inside without hesitation. As soon as he cleared the threshold, Adam shoved the door open and stalked out.

“Is she safe?”

“They both are,” I told him, betting he was asking about Lainey every bit as much as he was Emersyn. Relief trickled through his expression, easing some of the icy emptiness he often adopted. He cut a look at Vaughn and then Freddie before staring at me. “Ezra’s inside, hopefully not picking a fight, but I already belted him once.”

Rolling his eyes, Adam just shook his head. “Typical.”

I shrugged. “C’mon. I’ll get you a drink, then we all need to talk.”

Freddie raised his phone, while flicking his eyes to the side door. I made a face then shook my head.

“Fine, fuck it— Vaughn, can you take Adam in and get him a drink?” I locked my gaze on him. Preferably, he would keep him from starting a fight too, or sit on him if he did. Vaughn lifted his chin once in acknowledgement before jerking his head toward the door.

“C’mon in. People are a little on edge, so I recommend minimizing any and all assholish tendencies if you don’t mind.”

“If I do?” Adam asked.

“Well, then when someone hands you your ass, you’ll know why…” Vaughn deadpanned that delivery perfectly, and I had to swallow my own chuckle as Freddie rolled his eyes.

Once Vaughn and Adam were inside, I focused on Freddie. “When is he due?”

“Soon,” Freddie said. “I texted him. I know you’re not a fan, but Bodhi came through for us.”

Yeah, I was aware of Freddie’s trust in the guy. “Fine,” I said. “But you let us control how much Cavendish knows.”

“Why don’t you like him?” Freddie asked, and I sighed. “Long story. It begins and ends with money, privilege, and the ability to buy your way out of just about anything.”

“And?” The dry question served to deliver a point. Frankly, he wasn’t wrong. I had that kind of money. So did Ezra and Adam.

“Cavendish is a loose cannon,” I told him. “The family wealth covers up a lot of crimes and crazy.”

“I like him.”

“I know you do,” I said, then clasped Freddie’s shoulder lightly. “I trust your judgment.” The surprise flickering through Freddie’s eyes at that declaration was humbling. “I need you to trust mine here too. If he can help, I welcome it. Just like Doc’s guys. But…”

“Bodhi isn’t one of us,” Freddie said, and the understanding there helped. “Yeah, I get it. Though if he can help…”

“As I said, we’ll take it. We’re already bleeding, Freddie, and this last battle—” It had come too fucking close for Milo and Hellspawn.

He nodded. “I got it. I’ll follow your lead.”

Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait that long before Bodhi arrived. Just like Cavendish always did, he blew in when he was ready. The man ran on his own timetable and acted like the whole world was just here for him.

Dick.

Thankfully, Doc’s guys arrived hot on his heels. While he didn’t say much after greeting Freddie, Bodhi seemed to be studying Doc’s guys the same way they were studying him— too many unknowns. Once we had them inside, the clubhouse felt too crowded. Hellspawn was sitting with Kellan, curled up in his lap, half asleep. Probably because he was rubbing her back and she was exhausted.

Jasper and Vaughn formed a barrier between the rest of the room and Kellan. Yeah, even if Doc trusted his friends and we were trusting him— adding Ezra and Adam to this volatile mix wasn’t helping. As it was, Adam and Bodhi were glaring daggers at each other. Then Lainey descended the stairs and her arrival seemed to toss a match right into the kerosene.

“Elaine Benedict,” Bodhi said with a wide grin as he crossed the room. Her expression would have been entertaining if Ezra wasn’t already storming across the room.

She raised her brows at him. “Cavendish,” she said slowly. “When did you get here?”

He dipped his head and pressed a kiss to each of her cheeks like they were French, and she gave him a light shove before she headed toward Hellspawn. Vaughn shifted to let her slide onto the sofa next to Kellan.

“Right,” I said, watching the girls confer for a moment. “I think it’s time we all put our cards on the table…” Kellan and I had discussed some of this but not all of it. “Before anyone starts throwing their dick around about who is the bigger badass, listen. We all have pieces of this puzzle.”

I tracked my gaze to Hellspawn as she slipped off Kellan’s lap to let him stand. The guys moved and then we formed a loose circle around the girls while facing Ezra, Adam, Doc’s guys— Lunchbox, Bones, and I forgot what the last guy was called. Alphabet wasn’t here, so I’d guess he was with their girl wherever.

Doc had come down to join us and seemed to read the room as easily as I had. This was a seriously volatile combination of people.

“We’re going to start with what we know,” Kellan said. “You guys have all helped us in different ways since this began, but I’m making it clear right now— there’s going to be more blood spilled before this is over. None of you are committed, yet. If you want out, now is the time to go.”

No one moved. Not that I expected them to make that choice. If anything, Adam turned his brooding, studious gaze on Kellan and seemed to be assessing him. “Read us in… if we can help— if I can help, I will.”

Ezra sighed. “Fine, fuck it. You guys are always good for a fight.”

“We’re here for Doc,” Bones said like that answered everything, and granted it probably did.

“Is there going to be pizza?” Bodhi asked and I rolled my eyes. “Cause I’m hungry and think better with food.”

Fucker.

Hellspawn laughed and I almost forgave the son of a bitch for being a son of a bitch.

Almost.

“Right,” Kellan said. “Pizza later. Everyone take a seat, this is going to be a minute.”
Heather Long. Fierce Dancer ARC – Heather Long (Kindle Locations 1600-1681). Kindle Edition.

With their forces gathered they begin to formulate a plan, the first thing needed is Bradley Sharpe’s location.

There is plenty of sizzle in this one as they all welcome Emersyn home again. A surprise is an apology from Adam to Emersyn for trying to keep Lainey away from her. He also has a mission that could interfere with theirs. His current boss, who no knows, wants Julius King aka Jeff Hardigan dead. In the last book you will recall that he is Milo and Emersyn’s father, although they haven’t let on they know the truth. That is for this book and trust me it was awesome the way Emersyn handles him and gets the promise of a location of Sharpe from him.

One of the biggest standouts in this book is Freddie, his growing relationship with Emersyn truly moves forward in giant steps. I also love his bird name it’s truly perfect for him.

This book is a building crescendo of suspense, intrigue, romance, and the finale absolutely superb!

BRAVO, Heather!

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Heather Long Heather Long

I love books. Not just a little bit, but a lot. Books were my best friends when I was growing up. Books didn’t care if I was new to a town or to a class. They were always there, my trustiest of companions. Until they turned on me and said I had to write them.

I can tell you that my own personal happily ever after included writing books. I’ve always said that an HEA is a work in progress. It’s true in my marriage, my friendships, and in my career. I am constantly nurturing my muse as we dive into new tales, new tropes, new characters and more.

After seventeen years back in Texas, we relocated to the Pacific Northwest in search of seasons, new experiences, and new geography. I can’t wait to discover what life (and my muse) have in store for me.

Maybe writing was always my destiny and romance my fate. After all, my grandmother wasn’t a fan of picture books and used to read me her Harlequin Romance novels.

Friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, friends to enemies to lovers, you name it, I love them and love to write them. I started with Earth Witches Aren’t Easy, the first in the Chance Monroe trilogy, but my characters and I have traveled a long way since I created that urban fantasy world.

One of the series I hear my readers recommend the most is the Untouchable series followed in quick succession by the Vandals, and that just delights me. No lie, whenever one of my readers brings up my wolves, I do a little a fist pump.

I’m active on social media, and I love hearing from readers. Feel free to tag me with a question about any of my books, or just say hi!


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Liberated – Holt Agency Book 4 by KaLyn Cooper


Liberated
Holt Agency Book 4
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
KaLyn Cooper

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She was the job and off limits,
but his heart wanted so much more.

Heath Kubiak jumped at the chance when a Holt Agency job came up in the Apostle Islands. After years of working back-to-back missions all over the world, he longed to take some much-needed time off. He knew that area of Lake Superior extremely well. He’d take lead of the team this time, they’d find whoever was lost in the National Park, then he’d stay for a week or two, fishing and camping. Sounded like a perfect plan.

All Annali Frantz wanted to do for the summer was get away from teenagers, her parents, and Washington D.C. She loved teaching biology to high school students, but she also needed a break from them. When the opportunity arose for her to work at a research station—and get a full semester credit toward her second master’s degree—she couldn’t pack her bags fast enough. For the past two years, her mother had been on a mission to find her the right husband for when her father, the senator, made a run for the White House. Ali, who preferred her nickname, found trout more interesting than politics, the only subject discussed inside the Beltway. Avoiding boring first dates and spending time on the Great Lakes with other scientists and forest rangers was the perfect summer plan.

You know what they say about best laid plans. Will they work out right this time for Heath and Ali?

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When Senator Jonah Frantz’s daughter doesn’t call in for her weekly check-in with her mother, he immediately tries to find someone in the park service to aid him. When he gets a video and then a call from the kidnapper, it’s his press secretary Susan who records the call. Her boyfriend works for the Vice President who had an issue with his son that was handled confidentially by a group in Indiana. Here begins our story.

The Holt Agency has been called in to find Annili Frantz, the problem is there are many islands, and many are isolated. However, Heath Kubiak grew up around the islands and his family still has a cabin there. That knowledge will prove to be invaluable. Afterward he plans to spend time at the cabin to regroup.

Annili Frantz was working on research in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior to complete her second master’s degree when she was taken. She’s currently chained in a small cabin with only enough leeway to reach the camp toilet and the food left in a cooler daily a few feet away from the door. She couldn’t even reach a wall to lean on. She’s figured out she’s being drugged and is trying to figure out what it was in, really hoping it wasn’t the water because she needed to stay hydrated. The cooler they left today had more food than usual, and it makes her wonder if they weren’t coming the next day. She decided to ration the food just in case.

Heath and his team arrive with not much daylight left and a storm on the way. Storms would make the Lake impossible to navigate. They’d have to be quick to check what they could and return to the mainland before the storm hits or find shelter where they are. They were splitting up to hit the ones Heath believed were the best to hide someone. Keene would set up a command center, while Kenner questions the folks at the research camp on Stockton Island before crashing. He had flown them in so rest would be necessary, this would have Heath searching this first day alone. Ryker and Xena would be checking Manitou Island and if there is time Otter as well. Heath would search Outer Island.

The storm moves in quicker than expected and the rain began to pelt down as he found the creek he was looking for and secured the boat as best he could. After gearing up, he hid his extra gear under a fallen pine tree to get later, only taking the necessities with him now. The cabin he was looking for was straight up this creek. There he hit the jackpot, he found her. They couldn’t stay there though and Keene lets them know where to go.

This is a favorite scene.

“Even though it’s raining like hell, I don’t want her to be here in the morning. Do you see any other huts or anyplace we could go?” He looked at her bare feet, dug out the pair of strap-on sport sandals and socks they carried on rescue missions, and handed them to her.

“There’s the lighthouse about a mile north but I have no idea if you can get inside it.” Keene was quiet, only mumbling, for the next several minutes. “It looks like there’s another shack, about the same size as the one you’re in, fifteen hundred feet south down the lake and up another stream about fifty feet. Given the trouble you had getting there, are you sure you want to try to get to this other hut?”

“I know I don’t want her here at sunrise.” Heath held her gaze. She had intelligent brown eyes and a girl-next-door face. None of his science teachers ever looked that pretty.

“I can make it. I sure as hell don’t want to be here when they arrive in the morning.” Ali had shocked him with her language. He figured a high school teacher, who was also the daughter of a senator, would be prim and proper, never swearing.

“That’ll give me a chance to check on the boat. It should be flatter walking down near the shore. Any chance this storm is letting up?” The storms on the lake he remembered from his childhood seemed to come in waves separated by lighter rain.

“Can you make it to the mouth of the creek in this downpour in forty-five minutes?” Keene sounded doubtful. “If so, it’s supposed to let up for about an hour. Still raining, but not this hard. Be sure you’re inside before the next one starts. It has steady winds at thirty miles per hour and gusts up to fifty miles an hour.”

Heath looked to Ali. “It’s about three hundred and fifty feet of slippery, steep creek bank. You’ll be hanging on to trees and limbs and anything else you can grab.”

“I’d rather be anywhere else but here.” She stood to make her point.

“We’re leaving now,” Heath announced. “Bravo team out.” Once again, he dug in his bag and pulled out a Frogg Togg suit for her. The lightweight, breathable material was one hundred percent waterproof. He’d guessed her to be a size small, but he had a medium in his bag just in case.

He attached a barely visible, motion-activated camera in the corner that faced the door. It would feed video directly to their satellite phones and to the Holt Agency computers back in Indiana.

Over the past three years, they’d done so many kidnap and human trafficking rescues that they had refined their list of necessities to carry. Since they had information about her ahead of time, they’d estimated her to be a size small. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything waterproof for her feet.

Barefoot, Ali went to the cooler provided by her kidnappers and grabbed the two gallon-sized plastic bags, tossing out the ice cubes. She returned to the dry spot on the floor and using the blanket, wiped off her feet before she slid on the socks. She put the plastic bags over her socks then strapped on the shoes, making sure the Velcro held tight.

Genius. Heath made a mental note to add plastic bags to their growing list of rescue mission necessities.

She slid on the thin waterproof pants. They were a bit long until she tightened the Velcro on the bottom hem. It helped seal the plastic bags covering her feet. She winced as she tried to slide her left hand down the jacket sleeve, so Heath helped her.

“Your left shoulder is going to be sore from where you tugged on the chains. When we get to the other cabin, I’ll give you a topical lotion to rub into it.” Heath knew how painful her body would be from being restrained. He’d spent three months as a POW of rebels in Ethiopia.

“Thank you.” She eagerly zipped the jacket and secured the hood.

He could tell she was anxious, so he grabbed his backpack, slid the waterproof rain cover over it, and hiked it to his shoulders. “Hang onto my belt. Grab what I grab. Step where I step.”

“Got it.” When she latched onto his belt, the surprising warmth of her fingers as they wrapped inside his pants at the small of his back sent an unexpected shiver through him. He’d personally rescued dozens of women and given them the same instructions, but no other woman had the same effect on him as Ali.

“Let’s go.” As soon as he opened the door, the wind shoved at them both. He leaned forward and stepped onto slick, rain-soaked grass. He had to make it fifteen feet through horizontal rain that felt like tiny needles jabbing at his exposed cheeks before they reached the woods where they had saplings to hang onto. They slid with each step but soon learned to walk in sync, steadying each other. When they reached the woods, he was able to use the trees to help balance and move much faster. His goal was to reach the lake by the time the rain eased. The best path back was close to the rushing water, which was now waist deep, looking more like rapids than a creek.

He and Ali were working exceptionally well together, making very good time when her left leg slipped during a large step.

She let go of him, grabbing at the surrounding small trees. Most were too large for her to hold onto.

She slid into the gushing creek. “Fuck!”

Heath jumped forward, grabbed a strong sapling, and held out his free hand. Flailing in the whitewater, their wet hands brushed but neither could get a good grip.

“I’ll meet you downstream,” she yelled as she maneuvered her body, feet first, arms crossed over her chest, hands fisted under her arms, chin on her chest.

She knew exactly what to do and had the wherewithal and strength to move into the correct position.

I wonder if she whitewater kayaks? Or enjoys river rafting? Very few people know what to do if caught in a fast-moving river.

It took Heath, moving as fast as he could now that he was alone, almost twenty minutes to reach the lake. Ali sat on the southern bank just inside the woods.

“Are you okay?” he called from the other side of the creek.

She grinned ear to ear. “That was one hell of a ride. I’m wet, but not too cold. It is easier to get to this side closer to the lake.”

“Stay there. I have more bags to retrieve,” he yelled above the crashing lake waves. It wasn’t until then that he looked up the shore and saw nothing but waves.

His boat was gone.

The ragged ends of the ropes he used to tie it to two trees rode the white froth of waves a few feet offshore. Waves taller than a room rushed toward the shore, curling over onto themselves before they flattened out on the thin strip of sand. The water was immediately sucked back into the lake with the same power that created the next huge curl.

As a SEAL, Heath had spent a lot of time on, in, and under the oceans all over the world. The Great Lakes could whip up the water to rival any ocean storm with waves over twenty-five feet tall. More than three hundred and fifty sunken ships, some buried under thirteen hundred feet of water, were a testament to the rage of Lake Superior during a storm.

“Looks like it’s letting up.” Ali stood as Heath approached, huge duffel bags over both shoulders. “There’s a game trail that runs along the shore about ten feet into the woods.”

“Thanks for scouting that out, but you really shouldn’t have moved once you reached safety. Had you fallen into the lake, I wouldn’t have been here to rescue you,” he chastised.

“Yeah, that would’ve sucked. That undertow is a killer.” She smiled up at him, her face glittering with small raindrops that fell vertically. “I can’t thank you enough for the waterproof flashlight. It came in real handy when I got close to the lake.” She glanced toward the woods. “And when I explored while waiting for you.”

“You’re welcome.” Heath glanced over her. “Were you hurt? That water was really moving.”

“No. I’m fine.” She grinned. “I believe the depth of the water kept me above the rocky bottom. I floated on top and kept to the center. I knew if I got close to the shore, it would scrape me across those trees.”

She led him to the animal trail, and he took the lead. She slid her hand around his belt this time. He missed the warmth of her fingers through his shirt and T-shirt.

“Do you whitewater kayak or raft?” he had to ask as he started down the well-worn trail.

“Both.” She gave him that grin again when he looked over his shoulder to check on her. “I did a summer internship a few years ago in the Great Smoky Mountains. One of the guys on our research team paid for his undergrad by guiding on the Pigeon River during the summers. The first time he took me down the river on a raft, I fell in love with whitewater. He taught me how to kayak and that summer we did the Ocoee, Hiawassee, and the Nantahala— that’s a cold river I’ll never do again. I joined a water rafting club at school, and we did the Snake River in Wyoming, Gauley River in West Virginia, and the Rogue River in Oregon before I graduated. As a graduation gift, Dad and I did a rafting trip on the Colorado River.” She turned the tables on him. “Do you whitewater?”

Heath chuckled. “If it’s water, I do it. You don’t happen to scuba dive, do you?”

“I love to dive. Even my mom dives. We used to take two weeks at Christmas and go someplace with sunshine up. My grandfather loved the Caribbean.” There was warmth in her voice as she spoke.

“Did he teach you how to dive?” Heath knew their conversation kept her mind off the misery of the rain and her lack of real shoes.

She giggled and he thought it was the most wonderful sound in the world. “No. Dad insisted we all learn at the local YMCA from a certified master diver.”

“Smart man.” Over the years, he had met more than his share of people who claimed to be instructors and were extremely dangerous underwater. He was very careful now who he went down with.

“Every dive was a science lesson. Grandpa Frantz taught earth science at the University of Michigan so every time we went down, I either got a lesson in fish, coral, or geography” Ali sighed.

“Do I need to slow down?” Heath was afraid he was walking too fast, so he turned to look at her.

“Heavens, no.” She gave him a small smile. “I just miss my grandpa. He and I did a lot of things together when I was young.”

Heath turned and continued walking. He kept an eye on the time. Provided the cabin was where Keene said it would be, it might only be another fifteen minutes. “What kind of things do you and your grandpa do together?”

“Everything. We used to, anyway. He passed away in my senior year of college. But we used to have the best time. When we lived on the Upper Peninsula, he and my grandmother had a small cottage on Lake Superior. Grandpa had a sailboat and he and I used to take it out on the lake. He also had a fishing boat and he taught me to fish… after I dissected my first worm.”

“I take it you weren’t one of those queasy little girls.” Heath was so proud of how she was keeping up. They were going to make it to the other shed a few minutes before he’d planned, given that it was exactly where Keene had said it would be.

“No way in hell.” She giggled and it touched his heart.

What a woman. Here they were, tromping on an island during a huge storm, basically running from kidnappers, and she could find something joyous.

“I couldn’t wait to get back home and dissect the fish we caught,” she continued her story. “That’s what Grandpa called it. Dad informed me I was cleaning the fish so we could eat it for supper.” She giggled again.

He liked a woman who could laugh at herself.

Heath could see a much smaller creek ahead and turned upstream. They hadn’t gone far before he found the small clearing and the fishing hut.

“Stay here, hidden in the woods,” Heath ordered.

Ali gazed up at him as though he were crazy.

“It’s the middle of the night and we don’t know if anybody is in there. This might be where your kidnappers are staying.”
KaLyn Cooper. Liberated – KaLyn Cooper (Kindle Locations 599-684). Kindle Edition.

Once safely in the cozier cabin they Heath once again contacts Keene. Verifying the cameras were working properly at both cabins and the knowledge they would be stuck for at least another 24 hours due to the storm stalling. There is more than a little attraction between these two and staying professional is becoming difficult for Heath.

There is much yet to come as they narrowly escape without being seen by the kidnapper but were unable to identify him because of a mask. Still Annili refuses to return to DC insisting on completing her research for her degree.

Heath becomes her bodyguard as this story continues to ramp up with intrigue and potential suspects.

There is laughter and fun intertwined with the tension of the situation as well as a romance that will not be denied.

I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

5 Contented Purrs for KaLyn!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Coming Soon!

KaLyn Cooper KaLyn Cooper

KaLyn Cooper’s romances blend fact and fiction with blazing heat and heart-pounding suspense.

Twenty-two years as a military wife has shown KaLyn the world, and thirty years in PR taught her that fact can be stranger than fiction. She leaves it up to the reader to separate truth from imagination.

She, her husband, and Little Bear (Alaskan Malamute) live in Tennessee on a micro-plantation filled with gardens, cattle, and quail. When she’s not writing, she’s at the shooting range or on the river.


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Kascius – K9 Files Book 20 by Dale Mayer


Kascius
K9 Files
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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A trip to overseas would be a great idea, as long as it didn’t include a stop in Scotland. He’d do a lot to visit his brother, but he could cheerfully never see the woman he used to love at the same time. But somehow an American War Dog was shipped overseas and Badger tagged him for the job. Arriving home for the first time in five years is a challenge but nothing has changed. Liam, his middle brother is full of and his younger brother Angus appears to still be a lightweight. There’s nothing he could say about his relationship with his mother. But Ainsley now she’s a different story. She’s still the same beautiful woman he left behind.

Ainsley hopes seeing Kascius again can help heal the rift that still stops her from moving forward in life. She’d been in a bad place back then and had regretted the way they split but finding forgiveness, although it might be possible, doesn’t look likely.

Only his arrival sets off a chain reaction that leaves her under the suspicion of murder as her world imploded in a chaotic nightmare. Between dog fighting, gambling, and murder… the two of them have their hands full keeping Ainsley out of prison, and Kascius alive… then there’s the fate of the war dog, Beamer, on his shoulders as well…

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There’s a missing war dog in Scotland, the adopting family had moved there right after getting the dog bring him with them. Unfortunately, once they arrived the dog went missing, that was two weeks ago. Badger has two men working for him, cousins, Kascius and Karl, both from Scotland and Kascius is willing to help find dogs. He just never expected to go home to find it.

He arrives in Scotland to be greeted enthusiastically by his brother Liam, who also informs him that his ex, Ainsley is his mother’s nurse. While that seems out of character from the woman he remembers, Kascius is fine with it. When he left to go to American and joined the military there, he had to end that relationship.

The homecoming is interesting to say the least, his sister-in-law Emily is delighted to see him, his brother Angus, the youngest is irritating, Ainsley his ex, reserved, and his mam, who has severe dementia didn’t remember him at all and she doesn’t have much longer to live. It really seems the family issues are far more than meets the eye.

We get a glimpse of Ainsley’s relationship with her sister at the beginning of this as well. That seems to be a difficult one as well. She also still has feelings for Kascius and isn’t sure how to handle them. This uncertainty is because she made a big mistake by going out just once with his brother Angus after they broke up.

Kascius’ first priority is to find Beamer, the war dog. he returned to the airport and meets with Henry the cargo manager. He wants to speak with the dog’s handler here at the airport, but first he once again contacts the adoptive family. What he learns is very different from the initial story and Henry also informs him of the outstanding fees owed. It’s Terry who answers the biggest question though, apparently, he sold Beamer after he was let out of the cage. Now Kascius has to locate the dogfighting ring and get the dog out. This is going to open a whole new can of worms.

As a mystery unfolds with regards to his mother’s medication, Kascius with the cooperation of the police is about to join them on a raid of the suspected dog fighting property. Not only do they find the war dog but many more as well, effectively shutting down the ring. It’s as they are settling that Kascius learns of his mother’s death and Ainsley’s arrest.

This is a favorite scene.

She didn’t have a clue what was happening, but, considering she was getting out, she didn’t really care at this point in time. In silence, she went through the process of being released. As soon as she got outside, she turned to the lawyer. “Who retained you, and who posted my bail?”

“I did,” Kascius said, from behind her. She turned toward him. He smiled, walked up to her, and pulled her into his arms, holding her close. “You’re a lot of things, but you’re not a killer.”

She felt her tears choking her once again. “Thank you,” she whispered, swallowing her sobs. “Not just for posting bail but for believing in me.”

“Believing in you is easy. You’ve always been on the straight and narrow, and I know that.”

“And the fact that you contacted the doctor about that substance in the glass is also a good thing,” the lawyer noted. “I did hear that part of the conversation, so now we need to go somewhere safe and away from listening ears. I need to know what the hell is going on here. Every single detail. Kascius has brought me up to speed, as he knows it, but honestly, we haven’t had a chance to do more than that.”

“How did you get that done so quickly?” she asked, looking over at Kascius. “How did you even find him so fast, much less get him here?”

“I called my boss.”

She stared at him, finally saying, “Nice boss.”

“We have a network around the world.” He grinned. “Besides, this is my hometown.” He grinned over at the lawyer. “By the way, this is Larry. He and I went to school together.”

She stared at Larry. “Thank you.”

He shrugged. “Hey, when old friends call, you step up to the plate. I did know you in high school, and I certainly would have agreed with what Kascius said about your character, but I can’t take it on faith. We need to talk, and you need to tell me exactly what’s going on.”

Kascius suggested, “Let’s head to a coffee shop or something. We need someplace that’s a little private, where she can have some food and calm down.”

She looked over at him. “How did you know I needed food?”

“You’re shaking, and you’ve always had low-blood-sugar problems.”

She sighed. “And here I thought you walked away and never thought of me again.”

“I never stopped thinking about you,” he said cheerfully. “But you weren’t ready to commit to what I needed you to commit to back then. So, we weren’t ready for each other, but that didn’t keep us from being friends.”

Friends was the last thing that she wanted to be with him right now, but, as a friend, he’d already proven to be a hell of a lot more helpful than she would have expected. By the time they hit a coffee shop, and she was sitting down in a warm space, holding a hot cup of coffee in her hands, she explained the little bit that had happened over the last few days.

“And all of this happened after Kascius arrived?”

“Yes, and, though I didn’t bring it up to him, I assumed that he was astute enough to not ignore the fact that he would make a great scapegoat.”

“And yet, as scapegoats go, it ended up being you instead.”

“Yes”— she shuddered—“ but only because of Angus.”

“Maybe I’ll look like a second-best suspect, or with the suspicions on her, maybe they’ll assume that we’re in it together,” Kascius offered in a wry tone. “I’m not under any illusions here.”

She stared at him. “Wow, that was a leap.”

“Maybe, but whoever is doing this can’t be all that stupid.”

She shook her head. “That’s why it never made any sense that they were trying to make it look as if you had done it. Since you had only arrived, that would be way too obvious.”

“The ability to discern something as ‘way too obvious’ is a feature of brainpower that some of these criminals often don’t have,” Larry interrupted. “So, from the top, go over everything, and don’t leave anything out.”

It took a while, as she tried to remember all the bits and pieces. By the time she was done, Larry had several pages of notes.

He nodded. “The best thing in all of this is that you did give that glass to the doctor and that, somewhere along the line, hopefully, he got it tested.”

“I haven’t heard from him. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what to do about it. I guess I could have contacted the cops, but I sounded idiotic, prattling on about a mysterious white substance in the bottom of a glass.”

Larry nodded. “And, because you were responsible for her, you did the right thing in the sense that you reported it to the doctor. Now, what the doctor did with that, we don’t know, but we need to find out.”

“You can contact him or I can,” she said, pulling out her phone.

“Nope, leave it,” Larry said. “I’ll contact the cops, and we’ll make sure it’s all done through official channels. Chain of custody is important, and we need to do things by the book.”

She slowly put her phone on the table and nodded. “I don’t even know what to think right now.” She bit her lip, as she looked over at Kascius. “It would really hurt to think Emily and Liam believe this.”

“Right. I haven’t talked to them, but I will as soon as I get home. And then of course there’s Angus.”

“Angus?” Larry asked, still writing down notes. “My youngest brother,” Kascius stated in a hard voice. “The one who pointed the finger at Ainsley.”

At that, Larry raised his head and looked at him. “The lazy one.”

“Yeah, the lazy one,” Kascius confirmed.

She looked over at Larry. “You really do know the family, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do. We were in sports together, and I was part of Kascius’s life when his dad more or less kicked him out of the family. So, Liam got the farm.” He looked back at him curiously, “I suppose that hasn’t changed.”

“No, it hasn’t changed at all,” he agreed. “My mother retained a portion of the farm, and it’s expected that it would go to Angus.”

“Did she have any rights over the rest of the farm?”

“I’m not sure.” Kascius eyed Larry curiously. “Everything went to my mother but the shares to the farm, I thought.” Then he frowned, looked at Larry. “Maybe you can clarify that. I don’t get anything, but did Angus get more than that? I wasn’t privy to the will, as I wasn’t in it.”

Larry considered that and frowned. “How much money did your mother have?”

“I have no idea. Remember? I got kicked out when I wasn’t worthy of being part of the family.”

At that, Larry nodded. “Sounds as if you went on and had a better life anyway.”

“I did. However, another concern here is that Liam’s wife, Emily— you remember her. She was a couple years behind us. She’s very pregnant, and she’s had multiple miscarriages already. They didn’t think that she would make it this far, so the last thing we want is to have her upset.”

“Too late,” Ainsley whispered. “She was there when I got arrested.”

“Ah, crap.” Kascius rubbed his temples. “That’s something I need to check in on. We may need to get her a nurse.” He looked over at Ainsley. “The sooner we get this cloud cleared over your head, the sooner I can get Emily back to being calm too. She’ll be absolutely hysterical.”

“Have you checked your phone?” Larry asked. Kascius shook his head and pulled out his phone. “Shit, I’d turned it off because of the police raid I was part of. Then when the detective I was working with told me what happened with Mam, I came straight to the jail to check on Ainsley.” He quickly saw he had four messages. He got up and said, “Excuse me. I’ll be right back.” And, with that, he walked off to the side.

As she watched him go, she faced Larry. “I really didn’t do it. Angus immediately accused me of killing his mother. But I didn’t. I wouldn’t.”

“I’m glad to hear that. That’s important.”

“I can’t even begin to imagine.”

“As you suggested, Kascius makes a really good victim for a setup here but not necessarily a reasonable one, as in what’s his motive?”

“See? That’s the thing I don’t understand. He wouldn’t do this, and it doesn’t make any sense at all that he would do this when he’d only just arrived. If he was trying to hide his tracks, he would have made it seem to be somebody else.”

“You mean, like you?” he asked seriously.

She stared, her jaw dropping, and then shook her head. “No, he wouldn’t do that.”

“No, he wouldn’t. I wanted to know how you felt about it.”

“I’m completely confused at the moment, and I don’t understand any of this. If the police had even asked me a few more questions, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but Angus just— well, I think Angus probably threw me under the bus right away.”

“I suspect what he pointed out was the fact that you had the opportunity, since you were the one looking after his mother, and he also said that Bella was quite upset and included something about her accusing you.”

“Oh, great. So how am I supposed to argue with a woman’s deathbed accusation?” She frowned. “I didn’t realize Angus saw her that morning. He wasn’t there when I arrived. Or was he?”

“Nothing’s ever that simple, but we’ll get to the bottom of it eventually.”

She sighed and sat back. “I’m glad to hear that,” she whispered, a single tear rolling down each cheek, “because I didn’t do anything wrong. To Bella  … or my brother.”

“Good. Keep that energy, that righteous anger at the forefront. Don’t let it ever go, but you also have to be controlled, so you’re not the person who keeps giving the police more to go on, even if it’s just motivation.” Then he looked at her. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to Kascius about his return. I presume he came back for you?”

She stared at him, her bottom lip trembling. “I wish he had come back for me, but it was a job that he was asked to do. He is trying to locate a retired American War Dog that was shipped over here and got lost. You’ll have to ask him, but now there’s something about it getting sold to a dogfighting ring. I honestly don’t know very much about it.”
Dale Mayer. Kascius-Dale-Mayers-re (Kindle Locations 1953-2039). Kindle Edition.

With Ainsley out on bail, and his sister-in-law in the hospital, Kascius turns his attention to the war dog. There’s a bond between him and an injured dog and he wants to take both of them. Plus he needs to do what he can to prove Ainsley’s innocence.

Holy Moly! This book couldn’t be put down, everything happens so quickly, and the suspense just ramps up higher and higher.

I really can’t wait to see what Dale has in mind for the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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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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