Author Archives: michellebirbeck

12 Days of Nerdiness, day 10 part 2, Rose B Mashal

A Muslim Arab Prince with a heavy weight of responsibilities on
his shoulders and a young Catholic American woman with a dark, haunted past
living inside her heart. Unexpectedly thrust together in a deal of betrayal
brokered by her brother, the last thing she imagines when she goes to his
wedding in a kingdom far away from her home, is to find out that it’s her own
wedding, as well. 
A bright, independent CEO struggling to live this new life,
where the traditions and rules are too numerous to keep up with, and an
attractive, intelligent prince wanting nothing more than for his bride to find
the black keys. 
Fate steps in to teach the troubled new princess a few lessons
about love, life, understanding and acceptance, while destiny forces the Crown
Prince into allowing his beautiful wife to break a rule or two. 

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Because
when it comes to love, rules blur and traditions fade.
 
About Rose B. Mashal

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Rose
is a loved mother, wife, and a stay at home lawyer. Writing is her passion, and
reading is her obsession. Music is her best friend and sarcasm is her speaking
trend. One of her joys is bringing happiness to others and her biggest wish is
that they stay true to one another. Through her stories, she wants to spread
nothing except understanding, peace and love.
 
 
 

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12 Days of Nerdiness, day 10, Vanessa Skye

 

While exploring darkness in others, be careful not to
expose your own.
 
That’s what Chicago detective Alicia Raymond discovers
when she’s assigned to investigate the torture and murder of a middle-aged
trucker. 
Better known as Berg, Alicia is forced to confront her
darkness: her obsessive need to track down killers; her increasing craving for
violence; her potentially devastating feelings for her partner.
When she finds herself sympathizing with a sadistic killer
exacting revenge for a decades-old crime, she realizes the most dangerous
secret of all might just be her own state of mind. As Berg’s carefully
constructed life falls apart, she faces a choice: surrender to the evil inside
or finally acknowledge the brutal past she would rather bury.

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The Enemy Inside is
the first in the Edge of Darkness series, which challenges the
concept of justice, asks if vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores
whether you can ever heal from a broken past.
 
Excerpt from The Enemy Inside
The
eighteen-wheeler’s headlights cut a path through the murky darkness,
illuminating the outbound Chicago highway in a ghostly glow, its rumbling
engine the only sound in an otherwise silent night.
Shifting in his sticky seat, the driver twitched
and spat through the open window. It was well after midnight. He had been on
the road for almost twenty-four hours straight, hadn’t slept for forty-eight,
and was feeling stretched to the very end of his last frayed nerve.
He realized he should have stopped and had a break
or a coffee before getting back on the tollway and heading out of the city, but
it was too late now. The tollway was close to deserted as he sped west, the
sprawl of suburbia thinning and being replaced by swathes of protected forests,
expensive houses, and semi-rural property. There was nothing else for him to do
but drive all night to northern Wisconsin, where another load and a lucrative
payday awaited him.
The highway was dull, the same as every other road
he’d driven on over the last thirty years. He felt like his life was playing on
some kind of endless, tortured loop. His was a lonely existence, punctuated by
the odd burst of static on his CB radio and the occasional disembodied
conversation with other drivers.
He shifted again and looked at the clock stuck to
his dash.
2:00 a.m.
He was ahead of schedule, thanks to some homemade
stimulants and a lack of rest, and again considered pulling over to get some
food or maybe a few hours of sleep in his cab. While sleep sounded like
something he should get, his cock throbbed, reminding him of other, more urgent
priorities.
He needed a woman. Any woman.
He wasn’t an attractive man. He was heavyset,
hairy, and balding with an array of amateur prison tattoos covering his body.
Few women were willing to spread their legs for him. The only satisfaction he
got was from the occasional truck stop lot lizard or cheap hooker when he
loaded or unloaded in a city.
As the joyless decades passed, his need for more
violent satisfaction had grown, and he had enjoyed himself immensely with a
drug-addicted hooker last month. His erection strained painfully against his
jeans as he savored the memory of the encounter: her shrieks of pain, thick,
red blood mixed with slippery tears, and the muffled thuds of his fists
striking soft, pliable flesh. The memory excited him so much he thought he
might explode right there in the cab. He needed to feel some battered flesh
writhing under him again—and soon.
He grunted, then hocked up phlegm from deep in his
throat and spat again. His personally manufactured stimulants had several
unpleasant side effects, the main ones being an increase in libido, a
frustrating lack of sensation, and a disgusting chemical taste in the back of
his throat he could never get rid of.
The truck’s lights illuminated unexpected movement
far ahead on the tollway shoulder. He forgot his desire for a moment as he
shifted forward in his seat to get a better look at the solitary figure walking
on the side of the highway.
He shifted down a gear, and the old air brakes
hissed in protest as his lights settled on a petite woman with frizzy blond
hair, her arm outstretched in the universal hitchhiker’s salute.
A gift from God.
He pulled alongside her.
Weighing perhaps one hundred pounds soaking wet,
she opened the cab door and hauled herself and a small purse into the truck.
She must really need a ride. I only
get the desperate ones or the ug-os that no one else will pick up.
He was excited to see she was pretty in an almost
familiar kind of way, as if he had seen her before in a movie or on television.
She had light blue eyes and distinctive tight, blond curls. He absentmindedly
wondered if the carpet would match the drapes, and couldn’t wait to find out.
She looked exhausted, as if she’d been walking for a while.
“Thanks,” she said softly, flashing him a forced,
nervous smile while she settled in the passenger seat. She quickly pulled
across the frayed seatbelt and clicked it into place.
A safety-conscious hitchhiker? That’s
a new one
. “No problem,” he
replied.
She clutched her bag to her chest like a life
preserver.
As he eased the rig back out onto the highway, he
smiled to himself. This’ll be easy.
Chapter One
“Are
you prepared to be happy, Berg?” Detective Inspector Jay O’Loughlin asked his
partner, as he rushed into the dirty, overcrowded Chicago squad room.
Berg, in the middle of massaging her temples,
looked up from her desk and brushed her long, wavy dark hair behind one ear.
Buried deep in mounds of endless paperwork, the offer of a distraction sounded
good. Her chair creaked as she stood to stretch and smoothed the wrinkles out
of her suit skirt.
“How happy?” she asked. “Happy like I just
found a great pair of Manolos in a half-off bin, or happy like I hit a moving
target at two hundred yards?”
Jay flashed her one of his trademark, sexy smiles.
“Berg, I know target practice is your idea of heaven, but I’m talking happy
like I’ve just had the best sex of my life and she voluntarily goes home
afterward.”
“Wow, Jay. In your world that’s pretty fucking
happy.” She walked out of the squad room and he followed. “So, where are we
headed?” she asked, turning back and catching Jay’s lingering stare on her
lower legs.
“What? Oh, to the morgue.”
“Gee, the morgue. Yay.” She stopped to face him. “I
fail to see how that is going to make me happy.”
“You’ll see,” he replied with a glint in his cobalt
blue eyes. “Think of it as an early Halloween treat.”
They walked down the corridor in a comfortable
silence, pausing to press the call button for the elevator.
Berg, formally known as Detective Alicia Raymond,
leaned against the wall and studied Jay. They had been partners for two years
in the newest section of the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of
Investigative Services, the Special Crimes Unit.
Jay was one of the best cops in the district, and
she enjoyed working with him, his constant need to check her out
notwithstanding. He was tall—one of the few men in the station taller than she
was—and handsome in that naughty Irish way, with blue eyes, an easy smile, and
wavy, dark brown hair that was a shade or two lighter than her own.
His only bad quality was that he’d slept with
nearly every woman in a two-mile radius, both in and out of their district.
There had been some station talk, early in their partnership, of a marriage
fifteen years ago when Jay was a young cadet. But he point-blank refused to
acknowledge whether the rumor was even true the one time Berg had mustered up
the courage to ask. They never discussed the subject again. Since then, Berg
had lost count of Jay’s conquests.
Still, while
everyone knows he’ll fuck anything that moves, it doesn’t stop the women
flocking to him like bees to honey.
Berg shrugged.
The elevator arrived and they stepped back to let a
young female officer get out. She pushed between them, pausing only long enough
to direct a malevolent glare at Jay before stalking off.
Berg laughed. “If looks could kill, you’d be dead a
thousand times over. Don’t you ever get tired of picking up young officers,
then discarding them like used tissue and spending the rest of your life
avoiding their hatred?” Berg grimaced at her partner as he raised an eyebrow in
response to her question. “You needn’t look so smug.”
“Seen her naked. So worth the death glares,” he
said with a grin.
Despite her disapproval, Berg couldn’t help but
smile as she contemplated his general appeal. Jay was impossible to dislike.
Men and women were equally drawn to him for his easygoing character and
self-deprecating laugh. A well-connected, third-generation cop, he was
dedicated to his job and solved more than his fair share of cases with diligent
work and deadly charm.
“You need to become familiar with the phrase don’t crap where you eat,” she said.
He chuckled. “Maybe if you ever had sex, you’d understand. There’s no
need to live up to your nickname all the time, Iceberg. You need a good
humping.”
Berg gritted her teeth and crossed her arms. “You
volunteering?”
Jay stepped back and raised his hands in surrender.
“Hell no! I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’re great to look at and all, and I’m
damn sure the sex would be great, but I saw what you did to that veteran cop a
couple of years back after he dared to pat you on the ass. You barely moved and
the guy was on the ground faster than kids in an earthquake drill. What was
that, kung fu?”
Berg raised an eyebrow. “Karate.”
Jay took another step back. “Yeah, well, whatever
it was, I don’t plan on being on the receiving end of it, nice as the view may
be.” He slowly raked his eyes down from her face to her body, lingering on her
chest before looking away.
“We’ve been partners for two years—do you think you
could keep the staring to a minimum?” She glared at him.
Jay winked. “I’ll work on it.”
They approached the morgue, barged through the
two-way doors, and walked into the cold, sterile silence.
Jay crossed the white linoleum room with a few
strides and pulled open a metal refrigerator drawer. “Ta-da!” He made an
exaggerated flourish, sliding out a body covered with a sheet. “One dead
scumbag.” He waved toward the covered body like a manic The Price is Right model.
Berg looked dubious as she wrinkled her nose and
lifted the white sheet to view the corpse. “A dead fat guy? You better have
something more for me than some dead scumbag, Jay. I got up from my desk for
this.”
“What if he was a serial scumbag?”
Berg arched an eyebrow. “How serial?”
“Like the guy responsible for the missing
hitchhikers?”
Berg’s heart lurched. They’d been working on the
missing hitchhikers for six months. During a routine review of missing persons’
files, Berg had noticed an anomaly—five local women between the ages of
eighteen and twenty-one had gone missing over the past two years without a
trace. Missing persons were not all that uncommon; most eventually turned up
locally or out-of-state, but these women had simply disappeared.
There had been something about the victims that got
to her, so Berg dug a little deeper, talking to any available friends and
family between working her regular cases. She had discovered that all the women
were known hitchhikers. While many had come from broken families, they had no
criminal record and no reason to disappear into the ether without a word to
anyone.
Curiosity piqued, she had taken some DNA from the
missing women’s personal items and family members. Then came a stroke of luck.
During a CODIS, or a Combined DNA Index System, comparison between the Missing
Persons’ Index and the Unidentified Persons’ Index, she’d gotten a match.
Decomposed remains matching the DNA of one victim, Amelia Smith, had been found.
Then the trail went cold—no more witnesses and no
new leads. Nothing.
While her hunches had generally panned out, with no
hard evidence connecting the victims to each other or yielding a major
breakthrough in the case, Berg had hit a wall. It was the most frustrating and
mysterious case she had ever worked on. She had come up with squat beyond the
one match, and she had to wonder if she’d seen patterns where there were none.
“You wouldn’t tease a girl, would you?” she asked
Jay, now interested in the body.
Jay laughed. “I sure would, but not you, Berg.
Name’s Danny Taylor, fifty-five, independent trucker based out of the city. The
body was discovered three days ago, five miles from his truck on the tollway,
near the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve. He had been tortured and dumped.”
Berg rubbed her arms free of the goose bumps that
were emerging due to the frigid air drifting out of the open refrigerator
drawer. “What does the ME list as cause of death?”
Jay looked through the medical examiner’s report.
“Not sure yet, but the ME thinks shock or loss of blood. Hard to ascertain with
so many injuries.” He nodded toward the man.
Berg studied the body critically. It was mottled
with bruises, stab marks, and deep gaping wounds. Ligature furrows on his hands
and wrists, combined with his blue fingers and toes, indicated he’d been tied
up for a good length of time prior to death.
“Of course,” Jay said with a grimace, “he may have
willed himself to die once his dick was cut off.”
Berg lifted the sheet a little higher and looked
down to the ragged, gaping wound where the man’s penis should have been. “Ouch.
Removed pre or post mortem?”
“The ME agrees it was done before he died, judging
by the surrounding tissue trauma.” Jay said, looking vaguely ill. “Anyway, ME
says there’s a lot more undeveloped bruising under those ugly tats, as well
other injuries, so cause of death is still to be determined. We’ll know more
tomorrow.”
“Okay, all this is kinda interesting in a gross
way, but I’m hearing nothing from you about why you think he’s responsible for
my girls,” Berg said, impatient.

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“Because we found a lovely hair belonging to
Melissa Shipper on him.”
 
About Vanessa Skye
 
Vanessa Skye has always had a love of words and spent
her school years writing poetry, speeches and fictional essays.
After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism
and studying Psychology at Charles Sturt University, Vanessa got a job at Rural
Press—Australia’s largest publisher of regional and agricultural news and
information—where she worked as a journalist in the Central West of NSW for
four years.
Thousands of stories later, Vanessa decided to move back
to Sydney and try her hand at public relations while studying a Master of Arts
in Communication.
Skip forward a few years and Vanessa once again found
herself joyfully studying various psychology subjects while managing a Sydney
public relations firm. Enthralled with examining the motivations behind
people’s actions, Vanessa realized what she really wanted to do in life was
combine her love of words with her fascination for human behavior.
So Vanessa quit public relations to begin the
significantly more impoverished life of a professional writer.
Inspired by a recurring dream, Vanessa wrote her crime
fiction debut,
The Enemy Inside, which
challenges the concept of justice, asks if the need for vengeance sometimes
justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from childhood abuse.
The second book in this Edge of Darkness series,
Broken, soon
followed. The third and final book in this series, Bloodlines, will be released on January 15, 2015.
Vanessa’s first paranormal romance book, Koven, will be released in May 2015, as
will an erotic thriller, Evidence.
In her spare time, Vanessa wrote a short story, The
Piece,
which was published in February 2012 by Dark Prints Press as a part
of the
One That Got Away dark fiction anthology.
Vanessa now works as a full time writer, lives in Sydney’s
northern beaches and tries to immerse herself in salt water at least once a
day.

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You can find out more at www.vanessa-skye.com
 

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12 Days of Nerdiness, Day 9, Michelle Birbeck

 

Michelle’s
Christmas traditions
 

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Christmas is
a quiet event in our house. Mainly because the only person there is my cat,
Loki. The rest of us can be found around the corner at the parents, enjoying
turkey, ham, veggies, and mounds of mash, as well as prezzies, drinks, and
after dinner games. There is one thing that is a given every year, however, and
that is socks. We all get them. From fluffy ones to thermal ones to ones
covered in frogs, every year we have socks. And we all love it.
 
“We all
lose, son. Either I’ll be in there tonight, or I’ll end up there as one of them
when I’m dead.”
 
When the dead first rose, the world thought
they could just kill them. But they only return to their graves with bellies
full of flesh and more dead littering the ground. Out of desperation the zombie
lottery was born.
 

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One night a year, the dead rise, and every
adult gets their name entered into the lottery. No matter their ability,
health, or status. The winners are herded to cemeteries and only one will come
out alive, but all pray for the scientists working around the clock to find the
answer before the killing is done.
About Michelle Birbeck
 

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Michelle
has been writing and reading her whole life. Her earliest memory of books was
when she was five and decided to try and teach her fish how to read, by putting
her Beatrix Potter books in the fish tank with them. Since then her love of
books has grown, and now she is writing her own, and looking forward to seeing
them on her shelves, though they won’t be going anywhere near the fish tank.
 













 

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12 Days of Nerdiness, Day 8, Jeanne McDonald

Jeanne’s Holiday Tradition

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Christmas
in the McDonald home is always a magical time of the year. Starting on
Thanksgiving, we put up the tree and pull out the Christmas movies. The house
is decorated in festive holiday fashion. I love playing Christmas music while
cooking and for some reason I bake more during this time of the year. Come
Christmas Eve, my son is allowed to open one present. It was something my
parents did for me as a child and I’ve passed it on with my family. Then, I
start my cooking for the feast of Christmas. On Christmas morning, the house is
filled with Christmas cheer. Presents are opened. Friend and family come to
dinner, and we all share in the joys of the season. This is absolutely my most
favorite time of the year. Not because of the gifts, but because of the
atmosphere. I love the joy this season brings. There a sense of “A New
Hope” in the air at Christmas.  ((see what I did there…haha! Nerdy
girl Christmas joke!))  All in all, Christmas is magic and as Harry Potter
once said, “I love magic.”
 
 
 
As teenagers, time is infinite and love is made of fairy tales
and caramel corn.  For Alexis York and Ryan Fisher, their friendship was
the cornerstone of who they were.  In the wake of a family tragedy, that
friendship was torn apart by time and distance.  Unrequited love was never
reciprocated, and two lives that were once intertwined, now moved on different
trajectories.
Fifteen years later, these two friends are given a second chance
to correct the mistakes of the past.  With one flight, a new home, and a
little help from a tiny red compass, Alexis and Ryan are reunited, setting them
back on the same course.  Together, they find themselves on a journey of
rediscovery, friendship, hope, and love.
Yet, when the harsh realities of life threaten to tear them
apart for good, will Alexis and Ryan lose all hope of a happily ever after? Or
will the childhood promises of forever lead these two hearts through impossible
odds and back into each other’s arms?

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“You’re
my compass. My one true north.”
 
 
 
About
Jeanne McDonald
 
 
 Jeanne McDonald is an author, a mother, a wife, a student of
knowledge and of life, a coffee addict, a philosophy novice, a pop culture connoisseur,
inspired by music, encouraged by words, and a believer in true love.  When
she’s not spending time with her family, she can be found reading, writing,
enjoying a great film, chatting with friends or diligently working toward her
bachelor’s degree in literature.  A proud Texan, Jeanne currently resides
in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her family.
Author links: 

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12 Days of Nerdiness, Day 7 TM Franklin.

Love making lists? So does Oliver! Win his story written by T.M. Franklin in “How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You”.
Seventeen-year-old Oliver Wendell Holmes (Yes, his parents are
just that peculiar, but his brother’s name is Sherlock, so it could have been
worse) knows that he’s different. He’s quirky, awkward, and he’s okay with
that. Oliver also likes making lists—meticulous procedures for achieving his
goals, step-by-step. Whether it’s “How to Get an A in Chemistry” or “How to Get
Accepted to MIT,” he has a process, and it’s worked for him so far. He doesn’t
even care that the popular kids mock him. Oliver’s got his eye on the prize.
So when he decides it’s time to declare his feelings for Ainsley
Bishop, the girl of his dreams, it’s only natural for him to make a list—a
point-by-point strategy to win her heart. He knows it will take a grand gesture
for her to see all he has to offer, and her approaching birthday provides the
ideal opportunity for Oliver to put his plan into action.
Finding
the perfect gift is a challenge Oliver meets with his usual dogged
determination. He’ll need to watch her carefully for clues to pinpoint exactly
what he should give her. And along the way, he might just learn that what
Ainsley really needs is not quite what he expected.

 

About T.M. Franklin
T.M. Franklin writes stories of adventure, romance, & a
little magic. A former TV news producer, she decided making stuff up was more
fun than reporting the facts. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during
National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days. MORE
was well-received, being selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review
Best Indie Book Awards, as well as winning the Suspense/Thriller division of
the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards. She’s since written three
additional novels and several best-selling short stories…and there’s always
more on the way.
Connect with T.M. Franklin
Email:
TMFranklinAuthor@gmail.com
 
 

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Uninvited, by Pete Mortimer

This is where I would normally do the Short, Sweet, and Snappy review, some nice little bullet points about what I liked about the books, what I didn’t, and the most important, whether I would recommend you go out and buy it. However, that part is missing this time. There is only one reason for that; for the first time when reviewing, I didn’t finish the book. And I will not be finishing the book, either. 

So who, where, what and why? The book is a novella called Uninvited. It is about an unnamed man who comes home to find a stranger in his house. It lost me in about four pages, right about when the man comes home, finds the strange man there, and goes to make a cup of tea. 

Now, I’m all about suspending belief and reading about impossible things. Hell, I write vampires and aliens for a living. There has to be some kind of doing away with reality to write and read genres like that. Having said that, there is a line. For me that line is apparently coming home to find a man in my house, a man I do not know and was not expecting, a man who no one else could have let in, and I go off to make a cup of tea? Nope. I’m going to kick and scream and ask questions. I’m going to call the police, get out of the house, and shout for help. I am not going to say “oh” and go make tea. 

That wasn’t the only problem, if it was, I might have finished the book just so I could see what on earth was wrong with a man who would go make tea when faced with an intruder. 

The writing style felt like that of an eight year old learning to tell stories who hadn’t grasped the concept of multiple clauses in a sentence. Almost every single sentence was a fragment. Reading the few pages that I managed was jarring, and there was no submersion into the world the writer had created. I think that if I put the whole book into MS Word, the average sentence length would be maybe five words. 

Short sentences, of course, have their uses. I am personally a fan of using fragmented sentences on occasion, sometimes when dramatic things are happening, and sometimes because it flows better. However, using them to tell a book almost exclusively does not make for good reading. As such, Uninvited is not a book I will be going back to any time soon, nor is it one that I can give any stars to. 

On a final note, there was one other thing that bugged me. I read the paperback, but it was formatted like an ebook, complete with extra paragraph returns between each paragraph. This, however, is a pet peeve of mine, and has no impact on the reading except that it makes you feel like you’re reading an ebook, not a paperback. 

All in all, this is not a book I recommend reading. If you like, you can go check out the Amazon’s look inside function and see what I mean about fragmented sentences. But personally, go read something else. 

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Promo post: Duty and Desire, by Elise de Sallier

 

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PRESENTS. . .

Duty and Desire

Book 2 of The Hearts of Honour Series

by Elise de Sallier

Duty-&-Desire-Hi-Res-Cover

Release Date: June 18 , 2015

Genre: FICTION / Romance / Historical / Regency / Erotica

ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-383-6

Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH

~~SUMMARY~~

Grace Daniels, the village of Hartley’s resident midwife and herbalist, would like nothing more than to ease the suffering of Jonathan Loring’s young son, Peter. But the widowed Blackthorn estate manager is as prejudiced againstDuty&Desire-3D-Paperback-eReader her illegitimacy as he is her “witchy” profession. When Peter’s physicians say they can do no more for the boy, Jonathan finds himself in the unenviable position of having to turn to the woman whose skills he has scorned.

Drawn together out of duty, Jonathan and Grace’s relationship soon becomes characterised by a not-so-hidden desire. Having found a degree of independence unheard of for a lady, Grace has no intention of submitting to the bonds of matrimony. Not that Jonathan, who has lost his inheritance and has to work for a living, is in any position to propose.

With marriage out of the question, their only option is both shocking and dangerous . . . to become lovers.

~~EXCERPT~~

Accord

Grace Daniels pulled her cloak tightly around her shoulders. The blustery wind tugged strands of her long, black hair free from her bun, intent on using them to whip her face. To add insult to injury, the misty rain—which she could have borne quite easily—was now falling in heavy splats. Several icy drips had worked their way through her worn, woollen wrap, sending shivers down her spine.

What joy.

As the midwife and herbalist for the village of Hartley, Grace traipsed around the countryside in all sorts of weather, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a trial. She really should have taken up William, the viscount Blackthorn, on his offer to supply her with a horse-drawn chaise. How she would find time to care for a horse was beyond her. There were so few hours left in her day already, certainly not enough for a decent night’s sleep on the rare occasion she wasn’t called out to assist with a birth or an emergency. If the viscount knew the reason for her reluctance, he would probably offer to pay for a stable boy to assist her. But Grace didn’t like to feel beholden—not even to her best friend’s husband—although it was somewhat unavoidable, considering he now funded her work.

Startled by a horse’s whinny, she looked over her shoulder to see—as if conjured from her imagination—just the sort of hooded chaise William had suggested would be suitable for her needs. Unfortunately, the driver was more likely to appear in her nightmares than her daydreams.

Duty-&-Desire-3D-Paperback-1 Jonathan Loring, retired military officer and the Blackthorn Viscountcy’s new estate manager.

“Get in. You can ride with me the rest of the way up to the manor.”

Grace bristled at her unwelcome rescuer’s tone even as the wind tugged at the ribbons of her bonnet. Personable in appearance, with golden hair and a close-trimmed beard, Mr Loring was already well-respected by the local populace, though he had a knack for rubbing Grace the wrong way. If she were a cat, she would have hissed.

“Don’t dawdle, Miss Daniels,” he added in his typically autocratic manner. “There’s no point getting any wetter than you already are, unless you enjoy impersonating a drowned rat?”

Grace narrowed her eyes. She would have given a great deal to be able to turn her back on the obnoxious man and keep walking, but a not-so-distant clap of thunder heralded a strengthening in the storm. If only she hadn’t misread the weather.

“Oh, very well,” she muttered, clambering aboard with little of the attribute for which she was named evident in either movement or demeanour. To make matters worse, the bench seat was barely wide enough to accommodate them both. Leaving a respectable distance between them simply wasn’t possible, as she was forced to squeeze into the narrow space between the sidewall and Mr Loring’s immovable thigh. Thankfully, he made no comment about her damp skirt pressing against him, merely jerked his chin towards the prancing bay gelding.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t climb down to assist you, but Ned’s hard to handle in this weather.”

After placing her bag next to her feet, Grace gave him a withering glance. “That would have been unnecessary, as I am quite capable of getting into a vehicle unaided. It also would have been unwise, as it’s plain to see you need to keep both hands on the reins lest your horse bolt. I’ve no desire to be bowled over and left facedown in the mud.”

“Neither do I, which is why I wasn’t fool enough to attempt the manoeuvre.” Mr Loring huffed a breath while urging his horse to trot up the steep, muddy road that led to Blackthorn Manor. “I was merely trying to explain my less-than-gentlemanly behaviour.”

“Since we both know I’m not a lady, the gesture would have been wasted. Unless you’re trying to convince me you would show the same courtesy to your average, run-of-the-mill servant?”

“If a woman needed my help, then I would render assistance regardless of her station,” he replied, biting off each word as if displaying the early signs of lockjaw.

While the man was as irritating as a prickle in one’s shoe, Grace couldn’t deny she received an inordinate amount of pleasure from goading him.

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~~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~~

A great believer in living happily ever after, Elise began her lifelong obsession with the romance and paranormal genres when she was far too young to be reading either. After more than thirty years of marriage to her very own romantic hero, she now knows great relationships don’t just happen, they take work . . . which doesn’t mean writing about them can’t be a whole lot of fun!Elise

While raising a family, Elise established a career as a counsellor and family therapist. Seeking an escape from the stresses of her work, she discovered the world of fan fiction, and her timid writer’s muse made its voice heard. After 2.3 million hits, 20,000 reviews, and an e-mail from an acquisitions editor at The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, her life found a new and fascinating direction.

Elise likes to see her characters grow, experience passion and adventure, tackle some difficult issues, and find lasting love . . . eventually.

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~~OTHER TITLES IN THE SERIES~~

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Praise for Passion and Propriety, Hearts of Honour, Book 1

“I cannot recommend this author, or her book, highly enough to anyone who is a fan of Regency romance or who would like to dabble in the genre to see if it’s for them, because believe me, after reading this you would definitely be a convert!” Lily Loves Indie

“This is probably one of my favorite historical romances I have read this year.” Jen, Red Hot Books

“I’ll definitely be picking up more books by this author and can’t wait for the next instalment of this series which stars Hannah’s friend, Grace.”Amy Alvis, Historical Romance Lover

“I loved it. That could be my entire review, right there. But I need to gush a bit more. A wounded hero. A woman with a backbone and caring heart. A bit of angst as I wonder if they will overcome the obstacles that stand in their way of true love…. The flow of the story was natural, not rushed, and I enjoyed every page. I’m very happy to hear that there will be more in Ms. de Sallier’s Hearts of Honour series. I want the next one now!” Kathie, First Page to the Last Book Reviews

“This is the third book I’ve read by this author and I couldn’t help falling in love with de Sallier’s characters once again. I was completely taken into the story not just by Hannah and William, but by the secondary characters at the same time… If you enjoy Regency Romance, you will love Passion & Propriety.” Lindsey Gray, Author on Author Book Reviews

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Promo: Koven by Vanessa Skye

 

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PRESENTS. . .

Paranormal Romance

Koven

by Vanessa Skye

Koven-hi-res-cover

Release Date: June 11 , 2015

Genre: FICTION / Romance / Paranormal

ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-385-0

Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH

~~SUMMARY~~

When Celeste was kidnapped a century ago and turned against her will by a cruel vampire fighter, she expected to spend her doomed eternity as his slave, chained in the darkness, and she questioned her ability to survive. But things don’t always go as expected.

Just ask her kidnapper.

He never expected Celeste to learn how to fight.

He never expected Celeste to become the best warrior he had ever seen.

He never expected the secret hidden away in her blood,

And he certainly never expected to become a victim of his own sword.

Tormented by her past and the dreams she can’t explain, Celeste now roams the earth slaying the creatures she loathes—other vampires like herself—and seeking revenge against those who would harm innocents in the name of bloodlust.Kove-3D-Paperback-eReader

Until she crosses paths with Striker, the handsome vampire leader weighed down by his own tortured story.

In his quest for answers about the stunning Celeste, Striker finds out more than he ever thought possible—about himself, his true origins, and his destiny. But the secret Celeste is keeping from him might be the one thing that keeps them apart for good—a secret even more dangerous than a new, powerful enemy they never saw coming.

As ancient mysteries, forgotten prophecies, and cruel eras collide, Celeste must confront her past as well as her future. Fighting her inner demons and letting Striker beyond the wall she built around her heart haunts her, even more than her captive past.

Enter a supernatural world of passion, lust, sexual obsession, and power that the unsuspecting humans never knew existed, until now . . .

 

~~EXCERPT~~

The vampire silently watched from a balcony near the top of a shiny glass-covered skyscraper, enthralled, as the assassin neatly dispatched three Lore with brutal efficiency.

Two of the three had been beheaded before they’d even known what was happening.

Impressive, really—hard as it is to sneak up on a vampire, let alone deprive one of its head.

Granted, the three Lore rogues had looked young and inebriated—no doubt fresh from snacking on some of the drug-addled humans wandering around the club district in the very early hours of the morning. The chemical-or alcohol-laced blood of high humans was a favorite pastime of the younger generations of vampires, many of whom were reticent to leave human vices behind after their turning.

The third vampire looked shocked and tried to run as his friends met their absolute death, but the assassin was faster—considerably so. The Lore was killed quickly, neatly, and efficiently, without undue blood or relish.

He narrowed his dark brown eyes as he surveyed the assassin’s graceful movements.

The vampire didn’t kill for the thrill, which often happened because psychopaths were common within their species. No, given the calm efficiency, the assassin killed for some other reason that he couldn’t yet fathom.

He had hidden far enough away that the low clicking of his compact digital camera couldn’t be heard.

He zoomed in and refocused, the shutter softly snapping open and closed as the assassin wiped a bloody sword on one of the unfortunate vampire’s clothing before sheathing it.

He stuck around long enough to ensure all Lore—vampires turned by another vampire—had disintegrated into dust. The cold, late-winter wind whistling through the city would eventually scatter their remains across several gray city blocks. He was grateful they hadn’t been hybrids. They left a mess when killed, and a cleaning crew would have been necessary to dispose of the remains before any humans stumbled across them.

Koven-3D-Paperback-1Pressing a few buttons, he examined the camera’s small screen critically. The leathers covering the assassin from head to toe made any facial features unidentifiable in each of the shots, but they were tight enough to leave no doubt.

A female assassin?

He was surprised and a little excited. Female vampires were increasingly rare, let alone one who fought as well as she did.

The wind moaning between the high-rise and its tall neighbor wasn’t enough to muffle the soft thud of footfalls from his sharp ears. He didn’t turn, however, because the intruder’s scent was familiar.

“Striker, are you following her again?” Bradford, Striker’s second-in-command, asked.

Striker reluctantly pulled his gaze away from the camera’s screen and turned slowly. “Yes. What of it?”

Bradford raised an eyebrow. “Surely you’ve got enough evidence against her to report to Kouncil by now. Why the extra surveillance?”

Striker folded his arms and remained silent.

Bradford ran his hands through his wavy red hair before shrugging his heavily muscled shoulders. “I’m aware it’s not my job to question—”

“You got that right.”

“Just wondering if you can afford the extra time. Kovens don’t run themselves, you know.”

Striker shrugged, slipping the camera into the pocket of his leather jacket. “I find her . . . fascinating.”

Bradford snorted. “Don’t let your never-ending drive for pussy cloud your judgment. The executioner’s noose is over her head, and you know it. Kouncil wants blood. She risks exposing us all with her activities.”

“You should see how she fights. She’s quick, effective . . . deadly,” Striker said, waving toward the female, who was scooping up empty clothes and placing them in a nearby dumpster. “And she’s cleaning up after herself, as you can plainly see. She poses no threat to us. On the contrary, she could be useful.”

Bradford stared at the woman, wrinkling his fair, white brow. “How old do you think she is?”

“She is too fast to be a hybrid. She doesn’t appear to be able to fly yet, so Lore less than a century old is my guess.”

“Less than a century?” Bradford narrowed his ruddy-colored eyes. “Good. She should be easy to capture and destroy, then.”

Striker clenched his fists. “Do not be so quick to destroy that which you don’t understand, brother. She could be a valuable asset.”

Bradford scoffed. “There is no way Kouncil will ever allow a female to join Koven. Nor will they forgive her for such . . . unseemly pursuits.”

“As much as they might like to think otherwise, it’s not up to Kouncil. It’s up to me who joins my Koven. Besides, fifty years ago they said the same thing about the hybrids, and now they are becoming members of our ranks as fast as they mature.”

Bradford let out a single bark of laughter. “Yes, you went against their wishes and allowed hybrids into Koven, and Kouncil is still pissed off about it! Because of you, they were forced to relax the ban on human and vampire relations, as well as the half-breeds sometimes resulting from them. All to boost our ranks. Vampire numbers are dwindling lower than ever before, and you know from personal experience that the turnings don’t always take, particularly for wome—” Bradford glanced at Striker and winced but pushed past the awkward moment quickly. “Don’t mistake their tolerance of hybrids after centuries of culling them with acceptance. They cannot stand the mongrels. They still call them Tiks, for fuck’s sake! They move about the sunlight without any discernable loss of strength, unlike Kouncil themselves.” Bradford shook his head. “It would be unwise to anger them so soon after a significant loss of face. They’ll never join the rest of us in the twenty-first century. They’re marred too deep in the old ways and prejudices. I often wonder why we sacrifice our strongest vampires to protect them. Would we be so much worse off if we let nature take its course?”

Striker shrugged. “My maker used to ask me the same thing, and I honestly have no good answer. Tradition, maybe? Koven has been the right hand of Kouncil for millennia. But they’ll join us in modern society if I have to drag them kicking and screaming myself. You’ll see.”

Bradford huffed and cut his gaze sideways at Striker, clearly irritated. “Sadly, brother, I think you will see, and when you do, you won’t like it.” Running for the edge of the high-rise, he jumped, disappearing into the dark sky.

Striker turned back to his contemplation of the female.

He noticed she had returned everything to it pre-slaughter state, and resolving to follow her, he launched himself into the sky and flew above as she darted on foot through city alleys and quiet streets. He tracked her easily and hoped she would lead him to her keeper. It would allow his men to find her much easier later, should he wish to arrest her.

His mind raced.

Kouncil had sent him specifically to identify and gather evidence against the lone assassin killing rogue vampires—Lore and hybrid alike—indiscriminately and without permission. His instructions had not included rescue or engagement.

But something about her . . .

 

 

~~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~~

vskye

Vanessa Skye has always had a love of words and spent her school years writing poetry, speeches, and fictional essays.

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism and studying psychology at Charles Sturt University, Vanessa got a job at Rural Press—Australia’s largest publisher of regional and agricultural news and information—where she worked as a journalist in the Central West of New South Wales for four years.

Thousands of stories later, Vanessa decided to move back to Sydney and try her hand at public relations while studying for her master’s in communication.

Skip forward a few years, and Vanessa once again found herself joyfully studying various psychology subjects while managing a Sydney public relations firm. Enthralled with examining the motivations behind people’s actions, Vanessa realized what she really wanted to do in life was combine her love of words with her fascination for human behavior. So Ms. Skye quit public relations to begin the significantly more impoverished life of a professional writer.

Inspired by a recurring dream, Vanessa wrote her crime fiction debut, The Enemy Inside, which challenges the concept of justice, asks if the need for vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from childhood abuse. The second book in this series, Broken, was released in February 2014, and the third, Bloodlines, was released in January of 2015. The first book in a paranormal series, Koven, will be released in June 2015. In her spare time, Vanessa wrote a short story, The Piece, which was published in February 2012 by Dark Prints Press as a part of the One That Got Away dark fiction anthology.

Vanessa now works as a freelance writer, lives on Sydney’s northern beaches, and tries to immerse herself in salt water at least once a day.

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Last Princess Blog Tour, Rachel A James

An Inspirational Medieval Romance

**About the Book** 

 
A captivating tale of love and duty as the last princess of Meigen searches for her true purpose amidst conflict and betrayal. 
 
It is 626AD, and the ancient Kingdom of Meigen is left vulnerable to neighboring Saxons. To unite the kingdoms and bring peace, Princess Alena must enter into a royal marital
alliance. But when the handsome physician, Sherwin, befalls her, matters become
complicated. Torn between obligations to her young son and country, she faces a
difficult decision. Will Alena obey the king’s orders, or choose to follow her
heart? 


 


**Book Teaser**
 
 


 

**Excerpt**

 

 **About the Author**

Born and raised in England, Rachel writes inspirational historical romance, she is also married to a pastor, and has three beautiful little princesses. She minored in creative writing at university and strives to entertain, inspire and encourage others through her writing. Rachel absolutely loves romantic tales… combine it with a little history and a hot cup of tea, and she’s smitten! 



**Giveaway**

 





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Promo post: Matronly Duties by Melissa Kendall

 

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PRESENTS. . .

Matronly Duties

by Melissa Kendall

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Release Date: May 21 , 2015

Genre: FICTION / Romance / General / Science Fiction

ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-369-0

Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH

~~SUMMARY~~

Hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into Earth and sent it into a new ice age, what remains of the human race lives on in underground sanctuaries. Now, as the bicentennial anniversary of the impact approaches, a new leader prepares to take her place at the head of the government. At least, that’s what she thinks.

Bethanie Greene’s life has been planned out for her since the age of thirteen. Beautiful and intelligent, she’s spent the Matronly-Duties-3D-Paperback-eReaderlast twelve years training to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. But when Bethanie is kidnapped by rogue extremists just six weeks shy of taking office, her world is turned upside down by the handsome stranger who rescues her.

Howard James’ life has been the polar opposite of Bethanie’s. Struggling to survive in a world where those in power wished he didn’t exist, he harbors a deep-seated resentment of the government and all its representatives. Together with his unconventional family, he shows Bethanie a life she never knew was possible, while at the same time, opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead.

But can she trust a stranger? And can a few days change everything she believes and desires? Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.

ADD TO GOODREADS BOOK SHELF

 

~~EXCERPT~~

My body shakes at the thought of what could have happened to me yet again. I’ve heard stories about the slums, and I have to take a few deep breaths to calm myself.

“I was silly running away, I get it. I just couldn’t stay in your home any longer.”

Howard sighs. “Just because my parents raised us with traditionalist values doesn’t mean we are anything like the Trads. You accused us of being a drain on society, but you don’t even know us.”

“You’re right, I don’t. But you don’t know me either. If you did, you would understand why it’s hard for me to understand your way of life. It goes against every law, moral, and convention I’ve been taught. So I can’t be sorry for what I said, even if I’m sorry I ran out of the house.”

Howard takes a deep breath, then exhales long and slow. The expression on his face looks a bit like pity but with a dash of guilt mixed in. “Look, maybe I’ve judged you unfairly based on preconceived notions, but—”

A loud bang echoes outside. Howard glances at me with a panicked look on his face, and then pulls me off the crate onto the floor behind. I sit up, and turn to yell at him, but male voices outside keep my mouth closed. I instead huddle closer to Howard as he puts his hand around my shoulders. He pulls me in until I’m tucked against him.

“Did you see where she went?” a man’s voice asks.

“Nah, she just vanished.” The voice of this one sounds young.

“Damn, the boss isn’t going to be pleased about this.”

The crunch of shoes against pavement indicates they are on the move again. The sounds trail off until they’re no longer audible. I sigh in relief, all the tension fleeing my body.

“Are you okay?’ Howard asks, rubbing my shoulder.Matronly-Duties-3D-Paperback

I glance up, only then noticing how little space is between us. His blue eyes have flecks of grey in them, and there’s a smattering of freckles covering his nose and cheeks. His warm breath tickles my cheek almost like a caress, and his jaw has the barest hint of a five o’clock shadow. He really is captivating.

“I’m fine,” I eventually say, the words a mere whisper.

The butterflies in my stomach return with a vengeance. Howard licks his lips as they turn up ever so slightly in a smile.

“Good.”

I can’t stop the sigh that slips past my own lips. Howard leans forward a little, then moves closer still until his mouth is pressed against mine. I don’t dare move. A zing of something, I’m not sure whether it’s pleasure or fear, shoots through me. His lips are soft and wet, and the sensation is unlike anything I’ve felt before. I can’t even decide if I want him to continue or stop. When he pulls away though, a feeling of disappointment bubbles up inside me.

My first kiss.

Goosebumps cover me from head to toe, and unbidden, my fingers move to my lips. Glancing at Howard, he stares at me for a minute, then moves to sit further away.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”

I shrug. “It’s okay.”

Howard frowns and then looks across the room.

Part of Matron training is learning not to form close relationships. It doesn’t mean it never happens. I’ve heard the odd story here and there from the other women, and I realise that’s probably what Gail was trying to tell me at breakfast the other day. But in all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I had real physical contact with anyone, above all with a man.

We sit in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. Tension rolls off Howard in waves.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Come on,” Howard whispers. “We need to get to the house before those guys come back.”

 

~~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~~

Melissa Kendall

Melissa Kendall is an almost forty-year-old mother of two from Perth, Western Australia, the second-most isolated capital city in the world. Predominantly a stay-at-home mum, she works a few hours a week as a software support consultant. She has always loved to read and write, and spent most of her teens writing poetry and short stories. Over the years, daily life got in the way and she lost the passion for it, but after the birth of her first child, Melissa discovered e-books and her interest in writing rekindled. She is now the author of two published short stories. Matronly Duties is her first full-length novel.

 

 

 

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~~CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR~~

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