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Boys and Burlesque by Ripley Proserpina


Boys and Burlesque
By
Ripley Proserpina

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They were my whole world—four boys who morphed from best friends to lovers. They were my biggest fans, and my quiet strength.

Until they left me.What I once gave freely became my weakness. Judged, shamed, alone, and with no one to count on, I found I’d do anything to survive. I never bared my soul, but my body was my ticket to success.

And fame.

Burlesque might not have been the type of dance I dreamed of, but it rocketed me to the top. My body was mine to own. If people wanted to see me, they had to pay for a ticket.

But all my carefully laid plans and rebuilt dreams crash when the spotlight lands on the boys who used to be mine.

Josh, Brant, Wes, and Landry are back, standing at the edge of the stage and holding the pieces of my heart.

They want forgiveness. A second chance.

But when I handed them my heart once, they shattered it. And I might not survive giving it to them again.

In this book Ripley takes us from high school to the present as the unconventional relationship between Betsy aka Betty and the four boys she loved navigate through the sometimes devastating curves life throws at them.

The first curve was when Josh, Brant, Wes, and Landry ghosted after graduation. They really thought they were doing the right thing, but never gave an explanation, they just vanished.

A successful Burlesque dancer with her own show, crew and employees she gets blind-sided at a USO show at Coronado, seeing two of them in the audience has her realizing she hasn’t stopped loving them but she just can’t let them in again.

However they weren’t going to give up and all four of them show up in Vegas. Where Betty finally agrees to meet with them.

This is a favorite scene.

Lucky for me, trees lined the viewing area, and I stood in their shade. It was noisy, with the traffic behind me and the water spraying in front of me. Gripping the stone rail, I leaned forward and stared into the water.

Waiting.

Where were they?

“Betsy.” Landry spoke, and the rest of the world melted away.

My breath caught in my throat, and I turned to face him.

He wasn’t alone. They were all there, just like they’d said they’d be.

“You look so different,” I said. I knew they did, I’d already seen them, but when they were all together like this, it was hard to remember them as they were.

Back when they were mine.

Their faces were harder, their gazes warier and less open.

Landry wore a V-neck t-shirt, a long-sleeve plaid button-down thrown over it. The sleeves were pushed up, revealing strong muscular forearms. I knew his arms were tattooed, but with the V-neck, I could make out writing below his collarbones and across his chest.

Josh had pulled his hair back into a ponytail, but it was a little too short and strands fell from the elastic. He tucked them behind his ears, watching me nervously. I wondered what his dad thought about his hair, it was a little hippy for Mr. Derry.

Westin. Westin had changed the most and the least. He wasn’t wearing a jacket, but had on a black tank top. On anyone else, it’d look like he was trying too hard, but on Westin, it was natural. He was covered from his shoulders all the way to his fingernails in tattoos. I studied him. They were all over his chest and neck as well. Was any of his body free of ink?

And Brant. His hazel-eyed gaze met mine, and he gave me a small smile. His beard covered so much of his face, like he was trying to hide. He was broader and more muscled than I’d ever seen him. He wore a tan shirt and jeans, and his biceps strained the material of the sleeves.

“Hi.” Yep. That was what came out of my mouth.

Each of them closed in around me, and suddenly I was a gazelle surrounded by lions. I glanced over at Al. He wasn’t too far, but he’d also stepped closer, a frown on his face. I shook my head slightly before turning back toward the boys.

Brant followed my gaze. His smile was gone. “Bodyguard?” His tone turned accusing, and I opened my mouth to defend myself then closed it.

I didn’t owe them an explanation. I was only here for theirs. “Yes. Al is my security.”

“We’d never hurt you.” Landry ran his hands over his hair and linked them behind his neck.

“I know,” I replied and sighed. “He’s not here because of you.”

Understanding passed over their faces, along with something else, an edge that made me think they were used to surveying their surroundings as well.

“Thanks for coming,” Westin said. He stepped closer, sidling next to me to lean against the railing. “I didn’t think you would.”

“Your arguments were very convincing.”

He smiled. Josh seemed to be studying our exchange, and his eyes widened when he caught Westin’s expression.

“Do you want to go somewhere?” Landry asked. “A diner or something?”

It did seem weird to have this conversation right out in the open, but going somewhere, sitting down across from them, was a level of intimacy I wasn’t ready for.

“No,” I said and then added, “thanks.”

The boys exchanged glances, and Landry sighed. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll start.” His words came out in a rush. “Everything that happened was my fault. It was my idea.”

“It was your idea.” I repeated what he’d said. “It was your idea to leave?”

“That’s not true,” Brant said. “We all agreed it was for the best.”

It was just like it used to be. They stood up for each other, clarified and elaborated for one another.

How nice for them. Things hadn’t changed between them as much as I thought they had. I stayed silent. If they were going to offer excuses for one another and soothe each other’s feelings, they didn’t need me.

Brant side-eyed me and then shook his head. “Fuck. I’m not excusing him, Betsy. I just mean that we’re all to blame. Landry might have told us the problem, but we all agreed to the solution.”

Their solution was to leave me all alone in the world.

And still I stayed silent.

“My dad— he had more power over me than I realized,” Landry said. “You know he owned half the town, and had connections throughout the state. When he found out about us— all of us— he gave me an ultimatum.”

Sounded like Landry’s dad.

“What ultimatum?” I asked when the quiet went on too long.

“Raise the rent on Brant’s parents so they had to give up their cafe. Push Josh’s dad off the farm. Make a call to Wes and Josh’s coaches.” Landry spoke like he was reciting a grocery list, but I was shocked dumb.

What?

My gaze bounced from one boy to the next. They held my gaze, but none of them spoke. Hurt made it hard to breathe. Hard to speak.

I’d been seventeen and I had absolutely no one in the world left who cared about me.

Landry’s dad threatened to take away everyone the boys loved— nobody would have understood their situation better than I would have.

And yet they didn’t tell me.

Tears burned the back of my eyes, and I had to shut them tight. Why? Why hadn’t they told me? Trusted me?

I imagined a world where we left each other on good terms. If we’d done that, when I really needed them, maybe they could have helped. Or at the very least responded.
Ripley Proserpina. Boys and Burlesque (Kindle Locations 2591-2637).

Their explanation hurt and confused her even as she delivered bombshells of her own.

This is really only the beginning as things in her world start changing yet again, this time with the men in the background instead of the forefront.

Very emotional, with suspense, drama, intrigue and some sizzling heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!

Ripley Proserpina

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


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Eyes in the Darkness – The Coveted Book 1 By Rebecca Royce & Ripley Proserpina


Eyes in the Darkness
The Coveted Book 1
By
Rebecca Royce
&
Ripley Proserpina

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blurb-fall-cornucopia

There’s something in the darkness,
and it’s watching her…

Lacey Madison wants to be like every other teenager. She wants to wave to her best friend, and have him wave back. She wants to kiss a boy, and for him to stay in town.

She wants to go to school,
and not be accused of murder.

But bad things are always happening around her, and in this dusty little desert town, nothing is what it seems. Lacey’s entire life has been leading to something, and those eyes in the desert darkness hold all the answers.

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One thing is certain, when Rebecca and Ripley put their heads together you are in for an awesome journey.

Lacey has been trying her best to keep her head down, not so easy in this small town. Her goal is to finish school and get out, go as far north and the furthest she could get. One of the things she did was kick a can on her way to and from school. Little did she know that beat-up can would start to change everything when she kicked it into the road in front of a car she didn’t recognize.

Thorn Evans and Colton Ivy exited the car and almost immediately started exerting their alpha maleness. Which Lacey blatantly ignores and continues on her way.

She even felt like poking a bear, in a manner of speaking and starts up a conversation with Aaron Chee who lived in the trailer across from her. He was homeschooled she only saw him here. A dinner invitation there adds even more to the intrigue. Aaron, Oliver, Kelly and their parents, Jacinda and Ray, have an unusual occupation, and well there’s more than a little creepy in this quiet town.

This is a favorite scene when some horses get sick.

I’d never shoveled horseshit before, and I’d certainly never done it with barn lights blazing down on me. I wiped sweat off my brow and tried not to think about what I was getting on myself. Ugh. And the smell. The smell was not pleasant.

“Lacey?”

I winced at the sound of my name. I should have known that Thorn would show up here. His father owned most of the stables in town and the outskirts. People came to his ranches to have authentic cowboy experiences and didn’t know they’d walked right into another version of corporate America. There wasn’t a cowboy operation in the state of New Mexico that he didn’t have his hand in.

Thorn Evans.

He had a cowboy’s name, and if his hair was just a little longer, he’d look like one. I put my head down, like horseshit was the most interesting shit I’d ever seen, and hoped he’d leave.

See— here was the thing with Thorn— I didn’t want to have any sort of reaction to him. Yes, I’d kissed him. And yes, everyone knew about it, hated me for it, and treated me like I threw puppies into traffic.

So the last thing I wanted was to be stuck in a barn, looking like shit while I shoveled literal crap, with Thorn Evans and his kissable lips and sad eyes.

Of course he’d show up to watch me shovel crap. I surveyed the barn. Where was Oliver? He’d wandered off somewhere, and I hadn’t seen him in a while.

A horrible thought occurred to me. What if Oliver left me here on purpose? What if he was in on it with Thorn? What if he and Colton were somewhere, watching me shovel, laughing their asses off? I forced the thought from my head. That wouldn’t help anything right now.

“Lacey?” I had the strangest impression that Thorn was nervous but discounted it right away.

“Thorn.” He’d said my name, so I said his back.

“What are you doing here?” He put his hand on my shovel handle to stop me from using it.

I lifted my head. “My friend asked me to help him. I came. End of story.”

Thorn looked over his shoulder. “Are you friends with that new guy? The one everyone likes? What’s his name? Chee?”

“Oliver Chee.” I took the shovel back. “Yes, he’s my friend.” Or at least, I’d had a glimmer of hope he could become that. I’d technically met him just hours earlier, but there it was. “I guess I should ask what you’re doing here. Do you often get your hands dirty?”

I knew the answer to that was no. Thorn didn’t do the manual labor.

He smiled at me. “I came to help. If I’d known you were here, I’d have come earlier. I want to talk to you.”

The last thing I wanted was to have a one-on-one with Thorn. “Whatever happened, I’d rather leave it alone. It was a year ago, and people are still talking about it. We kissed. Your mom was suuuuuuper upset about it and told everyone I ruined your life. So you took off with Colton. Which meant I was also responsible for his downfall. Both of you destroyed by me. The temptress of boys.” I motioned to my disgusting outer appearance at the moment. “Sorry to have ruined your life.”

“Lacey?” It was Oliver. With the inky darkness behind him, his silhouette seemed to glow in the barn light. “What are you doing?”

At first, I thought he meant Thorn, but he was looking at me. I was at a loss. Hadn’t he said to haul out the stall? “I’m—”

He came inside, dusky cheeks flushed pink. “Lacey. I’m so sorry. I meant take out the hay. Not the manure.”

Nearby, there was a snort, and I whipped a glare in Thorn’s direction. He held up his hands as if to placate me. “You made a stable hand really happy, though.”

Pitching the shovel into the wheelbarrow, I wiped my arm across my sweaty forehead. “Great. That’s exactly what my goal was.” I probably stunk to high heaven, and I’d made a fool of myself in front of two people. At least—

“What are you doing here?”

The wall was too far away to bang my head against. “Colton. I was just leaving.” Of course he and Thorn would be joined at the fucking hip. Of course.

“I need some help,” Oliver said, his voice a little confused. He watched the other two guys with narrowed eyes and held out his hand.

Pulling my gloves off, I stomped by my arch-nemeses. I was going to head right past Oliver, too, but he stopped me with a hand on my arm. One long look was all it took for some of my anger to drain out of me. “At least I got the hay out with the shit,” I said and shrugged.

He gave me a slight smile before glancing over my shoulder toward Colton and Thorn. “Come see the horses.”

Immediately, I forgot all about the sweat and the smell. “Are they better?” I asked.

“I’ll find you later, Lace,” Thorn called after me, but I didn’t answer. And he didn’t follow.

“Come see,” Oliver replied a little cagily.
Ripley Proserpina; Rebecca Royce. Eyes in the Darkness: The Coveted, Book 1 (Kindle Locations 289-328).

Thorn and Colton do finally get to explain what happened that they left town so abruptly and seem to be quite friendly with the Chee’s as well.A truly freaky exorcism performed by the local pastor has Lacey moving in with the Chee’s and Thorn and Colton get involved as well.

Fast-paced and suspenseful as the attraction between Lacey and the four boys increases and so does the danger.

I couldn’t put this book down, every page just adds more twists. I do hope the next book isn’t far off. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

5 Contented Purrs for Rebecca and Ripley!

about-the-author-fall-cornucopia

Rebecca Royce Rebecca Royce

As a teenager, I would hide in my room to read my favorite romance novels when I was supposed to be doing my homework. I hope, these days, that my parents think it was worth it.

I am the mother of three adorable boys and I am fortunate to be married to my best friend. I live in Austin Texas where I am determined to eat all the barbecue in town.

I am in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and try to use all of these elements in my writing. I’ve been told I’m a little bloodthirsty so I hope that when you read my work you’ll enjoy the action packed ride that always ends in romance. I love to write series because I love to see characters develop over time and it always makes me happy to see my favorite characters make guest appearances in other books.

In my world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.

I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers!!


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Ripley Proserpina

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

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The Darkest Fall by Ripley Proserpina


The Darkest Fall
By
Ripley Proserpina

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Can a demon be redeemed?

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

This is a favorite scene.

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

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

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

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

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

“You want more ice cream?”

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

“How about we find a place to rest?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Night, piccola.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you doing in my home?”

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

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

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

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

“Delia brought us here.”

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

“Why are you after her?”

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

Shrugging, he continued to watch them silently.

“Do you know her?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Have you forgotten what I can do?”

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

“I’m not going to hurt her,” he said.

“But you’re after her?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!

 

Ripley Proserpina

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


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Finding Strength – The Searchers Book 5 By Ripley Proserpina



Finding Strength
The Searchers Book 5
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Ripley Proserpina

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Apollo left, and it was the hardest thing he’d ever done.

It was too much: sharing Nora with his friends. Not being her first.Her only.Apollo thought he had to be away to make sense of it all, but he was wrong.Nora loves him, and she needs him more than ever.

But now it’s up to him to finally accept in himself what Nora always saw.

My heart broke a little when Apollo left at the end of the last book. Nora in her way understood he needed time to decide if he could handle this unusual relationship. It didn’t hurt any less though.

The rest of them have traveled to Matisse’s family for Thanksgiving, a true feast and an acceptance of the relationship that involves at the moment five people. There are questions as to Apollo’s whereabouts, since he had spent many holidays there. Those questions weren’t easily answered.

With the acceptance there comes a sort of peace as Nora, Cai, Matisse, Seok and Ryan explore the area. Then the unthinkable happens. An accident, one that could make or break the relationship with Matisse and one that could solidify Apollo’s feelings toward all of it.

This is a favorite scene.

Apollo put his gloved hands on his hips and stared down at the mat. “Yeah,” he said around his mouth guard. It had taken him by surprise, that was all.

He spat the guard onto the mat and ripped the tape off his gloves. “Take a break,” he told the other man. He needed to hydrate and drink a shake or something. For having stayed up all night, he thought he was doing pretty well. But he knew it was nowhere near good enough. His cardio was shit and his muscles twitchy.

Hopefully, he’d have his act together when it was time to fight.

His phone started to ring as he pushed the ropes apart and ducked beneath them. He’d set the alarms this morning before leaving the house, and the first thing that came into his head was that the security company was calling.

But Ryan’s name was on the screen when he picked it up. “Hey.”

“There’s been an accident. We booked you a flight to Mississippi.”

The world shrunk, and his vision tunneled. Those were the four worst words in the world. They held the potential of ripping away everything he cared about and changing his life forever.

Somehow, he ended up sitting on the floor. “What happened?”

“Matisse and Nora. We don’t know yet, we’re on the way to the hospital.”

He didn’t understand. How could they not know? They were supposed to be all together. Taking care of each other. Taking care of Nora.

He couldn’t breathe. He got to his knees and dropped his head low. The phone ended up on the floor, and he stared at it, watching the seconds pass by as the line remained open. “I’m coming,” he said, and from far away, he heard Ryan answer. “There’s a ticket waiting for you.”

Forcing his body to move, he got his feet under him and grabbed his bag and phone. “What airline?” he asked. He sounded like he’d run a race.

Ryan told him. All Apollo could hope was that he remembered when he got to the airport. With his bag under his arm, and his phone still in his hand, he barreled through the gym, out the door, and to his car.

It had started snowing, but he was impervious to the cold. He may have stepped in a puddle or walked through a snowbank, who the hell knew. Forward momentum was what he needed.

The car started, engine revving as he threw it into drive and peeled out of the parking lot. The roads were slick, and if it hadn’t been absolutely imperative that he get to Nora, he’d have gone faster. But he didn’t have time for an accident.

Everyone was going slow. On another day, he’d have appreciated that people weren’t driving like assholes. Not today. Today he wanted everyone to stay off the roads, or if they had to be on them, stay the fuck out of his way.

Apollo dragged his hand down the back of his head before pounding on the steering wheel. “Shit! Shit! Shit!”

He deserved this. If he hadn’t been so selfish and demanding, he’d have been with her. And if he’d been with her, maybe he could have stopped whatever happened.

The airport wasn’t far from the gym, but it seemed to take an hour to get there. Finally, he pulled into the parking garage, shoved it into park, and jumped out.

Phone. Bag. Shit. Wallet. He hurried around to the passenger side of the card. No way could he handle a drive back to the gym and then back again. He’d go insane. Ripping into his bag, he found his wallet tucked beneath a sweatshirt and— where the fuck was his phone?

He searched the car before realizing he’d had it in his hand the entire time. Waste of fucking time.

Had he ever been so aware of the way time passed? Of how it could slow to a crawl or speed up faster than he could track?

The parking garage was freezing, and he shivered. Pulling the strap of the bag onto his shoulder, he realized he was still in his workout clothes. Not that it mattered, but rather than walk through the airport like some kind of douche in a tank, he took out a sweatshirt and got it on.

The airport was busy, which he should have expected since it was Thanksgiving break. The line to the counter was long, snaking between the straps fixed between metal stands. Apollo got in line and tried not to look like a maniac.

What he wanted to do was pace, or bounce, but if he acted weird, then he’d be a target of the cops patrolling the entrance. He needed to blend and get through the line as quickly as possible.

He removed his ID from his wallet and stuck it between his teeth before stowing the wallet in a pouch of his bag. Then he pulled his sweatshirt on and awkwardly stuck his arms and head through it.

“Next?”

He stepped forward, ready. “There’s a ticket for Apollo Morris,” he told the counter agent.

“ID?” the woman asked. He handed it to her, and in a matter of minutes, he had his ticket and was on his way.

Forward momentum. The phrase kept running through his head. He just had to keep moving, checking off boxes that would get him closer to Nora.
Ripley Proserpina. Finding Strength: The Searchers #5 (Kindle Locations 564-604).

I really thought Nora’s problems would be behind her by now, but it seems things just keep escalating in different directions.

Lots of emotion and tears as we learn the whole of Apollo’s secrets. Matisse has to deal with guilt and of course there’s more on Dr. Murray and yet another break-in.

There’s some fun and lots of love and understanding with Matisse’s family and the guys are bonding more with Nora as she recuperates.

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series. I am hoping that Dr. Murray and his cohorts get everything they deserve.

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!

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Ripley Proserpina

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


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Finding Courage – The Searchers Book 4 By Ripley Proserpina



Finding Courage
The Searchers Book 4
By
Ripley Proserpina

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

There is no future until he faces his past…

Nora, Cai, Ryan, Matisse, Apollo, and Seok have decided to forge their own path. Yes, their relationship is unusual, but it’s what they want.

They won’t hide it. It isn’t a secret.
Or is it?

Cai loves her, Nora is certain of it. But when the woman he left behind suddenly appears, the Cai she knows changes, and Nora begins to wonder, will he be brave enough to choose her and step into the light?

Or will he hide her away with the rest of his ghosts?

While this book centers on Cai and his relationship with Nora, the others are very involved as well.

This book opens with Cai getting a concussion from an altercation with Dr. Murray and a couple of his cronies. He woke up not remembering being transported to jail with Matisse all because of his frustration at not having access to Tyler. Although others are working on the problem Cai is practically obsessed with being sure Tyler is being treated properly.

There is much going on with all of them, but Cai’s issues come to the fore when his ‘wife’ shows up. Sarah isn’t legally his wife and never was. That marriage was the product of how they were raised in the cult where his father was the leader.

Nora is totally blindsided by Sarah’s call and then her appearance at the house. More so by Cai’s description of their relationship, roommate not girlfriend. A painful denial.

This is a favorite scene.

Cai knew. His friends would do anything for him. All he had to do was ask.

He fled upstairs before anyone could push him. If Apollo had been there, he would have pushed. And Matisse! He must have missed some kind of hand signal between Seok and Matisse, because that man didn’t know the meaning of subtle.

Upstairs, Cai hesitated at Nora’s door. His dinner with Sarah reminded him of what Nora gave him. She eased him, made him calm. He rapped on the door lightly, waiting for her voice.

“Come in,” she called. She didn’t look surprised to see him. “Hi.”

“I need to talk to you.”

Her gaze didn’t leave him as he strode toward her. She shifted, pushing herself to sit against the headboard.

“Okay.”

He sat, met her gaze, and looked away. He’d have to be blind not to see the traces of her crying. Her nose was red, and her eyes were still bloodshot. “I’m sorry.”

She nodded, but she didn’t say anything for a moment. After taking a deep breath, she rubbed her eyes and asked, “What exactly are you sorry for?” Her voice trembled, but she pressed her lips together and went on. “For keeping me a secret? For not telling me you were married? For giving me snippets and then, on your anniversary, going out with your ex-wife? Who, I’ll add, refers to herself as your wife.” Instead of her voice lifting, she got quieter. The last two words she repeated so quietly, he barely made them out. “Your wife.”

“Nora,” he said. “There’s so much you don’t know, and so much I hate talking about. You don’t understand. And the only way to make you understand is to talk about it. Just beginning the story makes me want to punch the wall and vomit.”

“What are you afraid of?” she asked.

He laughed and shook his head, but nothing about the situation was funny. “Everything, Nora.”

“So talk to me!” She went to her knees and shuffled toward him. She gripped his arms, fingers digging into him. “Cai. I’m begging you. Tonight hurt.”

He heard what she didn’t say. He’d hurt her.

“I’m not there,” he said. He wanted to give her what she needed, but the idea of spilling his guts was too much. Reluctantly, he stood. The entire time, Nora watched him. Her brown eyes were big, and tears welled up in her eyes. Her entire face got splotchy, and she took in a shaky breath.

“Then you need to get there, Cai,” she said. Her shoulders went back as she stared at him. “Because I’m not okay with what happened tonight. And I’m not okay with it happening again.”

He wanted to promise her that. But how could he do that? He couldn’t see the future. Rather than speak aloud, and tell her something neither of them wanted to hear, he stayed silent and nodded. He wanted to take her in his arms. He wanted another moment with her like earlier when he’d held her and kissed her. Her breath had breezed across his naked chest and for the first time in years, he could take a deep breath.

But it felt wrong now. Holding her in his arms was a promise that she’d always be there, and in order for her to always be there, he knew he had to tell her everything. And he couldn’t.

Not now.

Not yet.
Proserpina, Ripley. Finding Courage (The Searchers Book 4). Kindle Locarions (1279-1305). Kindle Edition.

As Nora and Cai’s relationship does some struggling, Apollo also comes to the realization that he wants, perhaps more, than Nora can give.

Then there’s more interference from Dr. Murray, a revelation from another Doctor who takes over Tyler’s care, the Thanksgiving invitation that can’t be ignored from Matisse’s Mom and Seok having some of his own fears surface.

There’s so much more that what I’ve mentioned. There is lots of heat, love, and emotion in this book. I couldn’t put it down.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!


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Coming Soon!


Ripley Proserpina

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


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Finding Truth – The Searchers Book 3 By Ripley Proserpina


Finding Truth
The Searchers Book 3
By
Ripley Proserpina

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Matisse learned the pain of lies from those he loved…
can he learn to trust again?

Matisse Boudreau is the first to admit he’s not great at understanding people. Yet, one thing he knows is true, Nora Leslie is worth whatever puzzle he needs to solve. As Matisse and his best friends settle into their relationship with Nora, things become clearer—forces are at work to tear them apart.

Nora’s been participating in a strange and mysterious psychological study, but she can no longer ignore the voice inside her screaming that Dr. Daniel Murray is more than he seems, and he does not have her best interests at heart. When Nora pieces together the tragedies that seem to be dogging her, she comes to Matisse with her fears, and he’ll use all his genius to prove her instincts are right.

With Matisse, Apollo, Cai, Seok, and Ryan all working together, they’ll discover how truly dark the intentions of the doctor are, and how committed he is to keeping Nora in his sights.

I love this series and the development of the relationships between Nora and the guys. Each is different as are the guys. Nora seems to understand the quirks of them and that is what makes this so perfect.

In this book, Nora figures out something about the study she’s involved with as Cai finally gets to come home after a bout with Scarlet fever and Strep.

There’s much more here though, Matisse has been doing some illegal motorcycle racing and Nora is pissed when she finds out. The guys also realize that Nora needs to know everything about them. This is made even clearer when Matisse’s mother calls demanding an appearance at Thanksgiving. His story is not so much heartbreaking as it is undeniably an example of selfishness on the part of his father.

This is a favorite scene.

Expecting a full-on intervention, he was surprised when only Apollo was in the kitchen. “Hey,” the larger man greeted when Matisse came through the door.

“Hi,” he replied warily. Any second, he expected to hear his friends’ feet pounding down the stairs so they could surround him and demand answers.

“Don’t look so nervous. No one else is here. Nora’s sleeping, but she wants me to wake her up when you get in. Seok’s reading, and Ryan, overachiever, is doing homework. It’s just you and me.”

“Emissary?” Matisse asked and flung his body into a chair, affecting nonchalance.

“Sort of,” Apollo answered. “I wanted to talk to you because we’re in the same boat.”

“How is that?” Impossible. Apollo—perfect, generous, kind Apollo—and him? The king of the illegal? The go-to guy for all things sneaky?

“Because there are things we do on the shady side of legal, and Nora needs to learn about them. Will, or has, in your case. Why didn’t you tell me, man?” Matisse studied Apollo’s features. His mouth turned down, and his eyebrows drew together—he’d hurt Apollo’s feelings.

“What would you have said?”

“Don’t do it,” Apollo answered quickly. “Be smart. And I’d have had no right to say it, either, considering I’m training to pound some guy into the ground of a warehouse on the outskirts of town.”

“You still would have said it.”

Apollo chuckled at Matisse’s words. “Yeah. I would have. It’s my job as your friend.”

Resting his elbows on the table, he linked his fingers around the back of his head and shook it from side to side. What a mess he’d gotten himself into. And for nothing. Literally nothing. Unless. “We’re talking about the bike races, right?”

Apollo leaned forward, his arms flexing as he folded his hands. “Should we be talking about something else?”

Matisse sprawled back in the chair and shook his head. “No.”

“Everyone wants to talk to you.”

“I’m sure they do, but it’s really none of their business.”

Apollo unfurled, standing and stretching. It wasn’t an attempt to intimidate him, but a sign of his agitation. “You’re our business, Matisse. You guys are the only family I fucking have. Don’t brush it off like it’s nothing.”

“I know.” Deflating under Apollo’s effective guilt trip, he grabbed handfuls of his hair and tugged. “I’ll wake Nora. You want to get the guys? We can play whack-a-Matisse-mole.”

Without waiting to hear his friend’s response, he trudged through the dining room back to the stairs. The closer he got to Nora’s door, the more nervous he became. He felt like a little boy about to be disciplined, and it wasn’t an emotion he enjoyed. All of today, his anxiety had been out of control. For a moment, he considered the near-empty prescription he hadn’t needed since meeting Nora.

Carefully, he opened the door to her bedroom. The light in her closet was on, muted but illuminating her sleeping form. She curled beneath the covers, arms wrapped around her pillow. Mouth open, she coughed suddenly, and sniffled.

Gently, he smoothed his hand down her back. “Cher.” She stirred, breath hitching before her armed waved him away. Despite his worry about how she’d respond to his story, he chuckled. “Nora.”

One eye opened. Then another. “Hey,” she whispered and pushed herself up. Coughing again, she lifted her elbow to her mouth to catch it.

“Sorry. What time is it?”

“No idea,” he answered. “You’re sick?”

Her eyes widened, and he could see her doing a frantic inventory of her body. She sniffed and sniffed again. “Crap. Seok jinxed me.”

“Do you want to come downstairs? Apollo told me you all wanted to talk to me.”

She scrubbed her hands across her face and took the ever-present elastic from around her wrist to tie her hair on top of her head. “Yes.” The covers flew back, and she reached for a sweatshirt at the end of her bed. “Ready.”

“I’m not,” he muttered, unable to help himself.

“Tisse.” The light pressure of her hand on his arm stopped him. “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I mean—the other option is telling the same story five times. In which case, I call dibs.”

He laughed, anxiety melting away in the face of her clear attempt at disarming him. It worked. Once she was in his arms, he hugged her tightly. He laid a gentle kiss next to her mouth. “You’re definitely getting sick. You have sick breath.”

“Matisse!” Horrified, she covered her mouth and pushed him out of the way to run down the hall and into the bathroom.

“Smooth.” Ryan appeared at the door. Leaning against the casing, he yawned into his shoulder. “Real smooth.”

“What? I wasn’t being mean. I was just letting her know.”
Proserpina, Ripley. Finding Truth (The Searchers Book 3). Kindle Locations (784-828).Kindle Edition.

There is much going on here, many things to resolve and not all the answers will be easy ones.

There’s Tyler who Cai needs to help, there’s the infamous Dr. Murray, relationship breakthroughs and so much more!

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

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Coming Soon!

Ripley Proserpina

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


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Rose – Daylight’s Crown Book 1 by Ripley Proserpina



Rose
Daylight’s Crown Book 1
By
Ripley Proserpina


1cf2a-addtogoodreads

A river of poison runs through Rose’s veins.

Ten years ago, Rose Carrado was just a child who made the mistake of trying to catch snowflakes. Boston was overrun by creatures no human had ever seen, or even believed existed. Rose was easy prey. As she lay bleeding—dying—she came face-to-face with an ancient being, one who commanded her to live.

So she did.

Now a young woman, Rose lives with the consequences of that command. Changed by the creature who bit her, she’s a reminder of a time humans want to forget.

But she was left with something else: a connection to those ancient vampires who saved her life so long ago. When brothers Ra, Seti, and Horus return to Boston, the ties that bind them to Rose snap tight. For the first time, they encounter someone who has the power to throw their unending existence into the best sort of chaos, and they won’t allow anything—not life, not death—to take her from them.

Rose is always in pain. It began she was attacked by the demon during the nightmare and survived. The reason she survived was that she was told she wouldn’t die, it was almost an order. She describes that occurence as her guardian angel. That’s not the only thing that happened, there are days when she likens her skin to metal, nothing will penetrate it easily, and she heals rapidly from all injuries.

After she is attacked again in daylight, in the arboretum she returns to the hospital where they had taken blood just this morning. Maybe there was something Dr. Stone could learn from the saliva where the creature tried and failed to bite her. He was the only one who believed her, the only one who would treat her or so she thought.

This is a favorite scene.

“All this time you let me think you believed me.” A horrifying thought occurred to her. What if nobody had believed her. Her mom— before she’d died— acted as though she believed her. But what if she hadn’t? For the life of her, Rose couldn’t remember her mother ever saying the words. She was going to be sick.

Standing, she said, “I need to go.”

“You need to let me make sure you’re okay,” he said.

“I’m not,” she replied, and he opened his mouth to reply. She cut him off before he could say anything else. “Physically, I’m fine. You saw me this morning. It couldn’t cut me or bite me.”

“Bite you?” His eyes narrowed again.

“Or whatever I think happened,” she replied bitterly. She walked to the door, grabbing her camera bag on the way there. She didn’t even remember setting it on the floor. Maybe he was right and she was just a head case.

“I can’t force you, but I think you should reconsider,” he said, but she opened the door anyway.

“Thanks for your concern,” she said as her stomach roiled. It was a warning that the pain was about to get much worse. She didn’t want to be stuck on a bus when it hit. “I’ll be fine.”

Dr. Stone sighed but held the door open for her. The back of her neck prickled as she passed by the receptionist and out the door, like they were both watching her.

Making her way to the elevator, she raked her fingers through her curls and found pieces of grass and leaves stuck in it. No wonder people thought she was crazy. She let the leaf fall from her fingers before she pushed the button on the elevator.

God. She was a mess. Her hands were dirty. There was mud on the knees of her jeans. One pant leg had been torn from knee to ankle. The material gaped around her leg, turned into fringe by the thing’s teeth.

There was a ding, and the doors opened. Her head pounded at the sound and a wave of heat, followed by a chill, raced down her back. She needed to get home as fast as she could.

Alone in the small space, she held onto the rails and shut her eyes, willing herself not to throw up and not to curl into a ball.

It jerked to a stop and she opened her eyes in time to see the doors open. She wasn’t expecting the heat that filled her, or the way it would chase away her pain so quickly she swayed.

Two men stood framed between the open doors and stared at her.

She recognized one of them. She’d seen him this morning. Dark eyes. Serious face. Short hair. He touched his chest as he stared at her but then seemed to recover himself.

Did he feel it, too? Was such a thing possible?

He stepped into the elevator, his shoulders blocking her view to see if the other man followed him.

His gaze traveled from her hair to her feet, and he took in a breath. The change that overtook him was instantaneous. His nostrils flared, and his black pupils swallowed up the dark brown. “Who are you?”

“Rose,” she answered, like her name was drawn from her. Why are you talking to him? Nothing about him seemed friendly. Deep frown lines appeared next to his mouth, like he was often displeased.

But his hand was still on his chest, which meant he felt what she did. It had to mean that, right?

The confidence she’d worked so hard to cultivate was gone though. Today had shaken her foundation as much as being attacked the first time, and then later, losing her mother, had.

“You smell like a crawler,” he said, and she held on tighter to the rail.

A crawler. Soft skin. Sharp teeth. Sharp nails. Pain. Burning. Pain.

“She’s panicking, Horus. Back off.” The man was pushed out of the way and another man approached her. Palms out as if proving he was no threat, he moved toward her. “You’re all right. We’re not going to hurt you.”

The warmth in her chest flared, and she touched it. In front of her, the man suddenly winced and touched his own chest.

Just like Horus.

“My name is Seti. This is my brother Horus.” He had thick dark brows that only made his eyes look brighter, and longer hair that fell across his forehead. He smiled as if he was trying to set her at ease, but something was off. How did they know about the creature?

Pain. Burning. Pain.

You’re not going to die.

The world was closing in on her, and she edged toward the row of buttons at the front of the box.

“She’s human,” Horus observed, and panic threatened to overwhelm her. Human? Shit. This was bad. She smacked the buttons, desperate for any floor that would open those doors immediately, but Seti stopped her before she could connect.

“We’re not going to hurt you,” he said again, but Rose could barely hear him. She lashed out mindlessly. The only thing she could think about was getting out.

“Calm.” Horus held his palms out the way Seti had earlier. “You’re safe with us.”

Safe.

Arms tightened around hers, and she realized Seti held her against his chest. He didn’t squeeze her, or hurt her, but caged her in, keeping her from hitting him.

Part of her thought she should apologize, but the other part, the part that grew up in Boston and had just kicked the head off of some Creature from the Black Lagoon, wouldn’t.

“Okay,” she said, forcing her muscles to relax. Seti loosened his hold, and she let her weight drop. Surprised, he let her go and she dove at the buttons. Somehow, perhaps by divine intervention, she connected.

Placing her back to the panel of buttons, she faced the brothers. “Don’t stop me from leaving.”

“We could easily overpower you,” Horus observed, and Seti cast him a narrow-eyed glare.

“You’re not helping.”

The elevator dinged, and the doors slid open. They were right. Both of them were taller, broad with muscles that their coats couldn’t hide. They could overpower her.

But they didn’t.

Horus wanted to, she suspected. He rolled back and forth on his heels like he was ready to erupt off a starting block, but he remained in place.

Seti let his hands fall to his sides and nodded once. “Goodbye, Rose.”

She didn’t answer but took a step to the side and then off the elevator. “Don’t follow me,” she said. “Or I’ll scream.”

Voices filtered toward her, background noise that would mask anything they said to each other.

Unless she screamed.

Screaming would get attention.

Leaning forward, Seti hit one of the buttons. She stood there to be sure the doors closed, and they stayed true to their word.

The doors shut, and Rose took a stumbling step backward. Then another until the rest of the hospital came into her peripheral vision.

Run.

She had to get out of here. Find a safe place and hunker down.

The poison began to seep back into her system, bringing with it the familiar pain. Turning, she hurried to the exit. Just as she hit the doors, the pain returned full-force, nearly bowling her over.

There was the bus that would bring her home. One foot in front of the other. The only thing she could control right now was her forward momentum, but she had no illusions.

Nowhere was safe.
Ripley Proserpina. Rose: Daylight’s Crown, Book One (Kindle Locations 421-481).

A starling revelation from the doctor, and meeting with Horus and Seti on the elevator has Rose fleeing for safety.

I love the way this book slowly escalates from that initial meeting. Her meeting Ra, the one who told her she would live is not as one would expect. It the immediate relief from pain when the guys are with her that is startling as much as the return of it when they leave here.

It’s great seeing Briar and her family again too. I really have to go back and re-read the Midnight Crown series before the next book in this series comes out.

Action, intrigue and many surprises as the relationship between Rose, Ra, Horus and Seti begins to develop into something more than just friendship.

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Ripley Proserpina

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


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