Monday, May 31, 2021

Remember A Soldier: Memorial Day 2021

I think everyone can agree that 2020 was full of frustration, fears and untold sadness as Covid-19 swept through the US killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. There has been unimaginable pain and suffering for so many, but I would also like to remember the meaning of Memorial Day. 

Soldiers risk their lives every day for our freedom, a freedom that sometimes we might take for granted. Nothing in life is free and I for one am thankful that we have such brave men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.  

Dear Solider: Thank you for your Service. Thank you for your Sacrifice. Thank you for your Courage. I Salute YOU. This day honors all of you. 

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formally known as Decoration Day and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season.

Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women, who died in any war or military action.

The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that that, from 1971, Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all American states to recognize the new date.

Whatever you decide to do on this holiday weekend as our country struggles to reopen, say a prayer and a "thank you" for all of the US military personnel who are serving around the world to keep us all safe. 

My thanks go out to Dave, Tim, Gary, and Brenda for your current and past service. Be safe out there.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

#Review: HER SCOTTISH SCOUNDREL by Sophie Barnes


  4 of 5 stars

Blayne MacNeil has been hiding in plain sight for nearly 20 years because of an event that took place in his youth that involved his father. He runs a tavern in St. Giles and keeps a low profile to keep the law from finding him. Miss Charlotte Russell has a secret of her own and needs a bodyguard to help protect her when she visits her publisher. Her parents have no idea about her writing and plan to marry her off to a wealthy American industrialist. Charlotte is horrified and enlists Blayne to play her fake fiance as well as her bodyguard. When their worlds start to collide, can they protect each other from the worst happening?

I really enjoyed this book and loved that Charlotte was a writer and had a bestseller. She has never wanted to marry enjoying her independence too much. She plans to buy a cottage in the country when she's saved enough except love has a way of thwarted all plans. Blayne was such a stand-up guy who helped Charlotte with everything and had no intention of falling in love with her. I immediately knew who the villain was when Charlotte's publishing company was robbed and her latest manuscript stolen and didn't care for the resolution of that subplot. I also prefer to have an epilogue about the couple and not a preview of the next book. Those 2 criticisms brought the book down to 4 stars for me although neither dampened my enjoyment of the overall story. Ms. Barnes throws enough twists and turns into the story that kept me turning the pages.

I voluntarily read the advanced reader copy and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

#Review: HOW TO SURVIVE A SCANDAL by Samara Parish


4 of 5 stars

Benedict is a hard working man bringing jobs and opportunities to his village. He's poised to win a lucrative American contract for his steam engine design when the deal is thrown in jeopardy when he's forced to marry Lady Amelia. Amelia has been betrothed to the duke since childhood, but when she's stranded in a snowstorm and nearly freezes to death, it's Benedict who rescues her. When they're found together, the duke refuses to marry her. Now wed to a commoner, Amelia is furious that everything she worked for her whole life could change in an instant. Can Amelia learn to love her honorable and hard-working husband or is she destined to live the rest of her life in misery?

This was the first book I've read by Ms. Parish and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked how Amelia learned to value other things in life besides setting the perfect table or presiding over inane teas. She was a resourceful and determined young woman, but I really loved Benedict. He was so honorable and tried to do the right thing for everyone, but he was thwarted at every turn. It takes a near tragedy for both Amelia and Benedict to realize the true value of love and companionship and get their HEA. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

I voluntarily read the advanced reader copy and all opinions are my own.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

#Excerpt: THE IMMORTAL GAME by Talia Rothschild & Ashleigh Harvey


Galene trailed her fingers over the hilts of weapons lining the dark stone walls. The worn, wrapped leathers and freshly sharpened blades spoke of battles, and heroes, and gods crowned with immortality. Stains darkening wooden shafts told stories of desperate, bloody fights—some of which she’d witnessed.

Today the fight for immortality was hers.

In the gleam of an ax-head, she caught sight of bright blue eyes watching her. Galene turned to look at her best friend. Iyana wore a stunning set of soft blue robes, her long white-blonde hair—loose as always—adorned with a gilded silver comb. In contrast, Galene’s wavy brown hair was already slipping free of her braid, and she was dressed in light armor, her scimitar and throwing daggers on the belt at her hip.

Iyana’s face was drawn with tension. “Are your weapons sharpened?”

Galene gave a strained smile. Of course she’d sharpened her blades. “I’ll be fine.”

Her friend’s expression tightened. “You’re not immortal yet.”

Galene let out a breath, trying not to think of the last death at an Immortality Trial. What her brother had done in response to that death, and what her life had become afterward. But the Olympians hadn’t allowed anyone to die since. She’d survive. No, she’d win.

Failing wasn’t an option.

A horn blared, echoing through the tunnels beneath the stadium.

Iyana reached out and gave her fingers a squeeze. “Go prove yourself a goddess fit to be worshipped.”

Galene gave a single nod, then turned, crossed the preparation room, and stepped through the door into the dark passage.

Torches lit the limestone walls, a rich, earthy breeze guiding her toward open air. She passed a small group wearing tunics embroidered with Apollo’s laurel—healers waiting to see how the battle would end. Galene kept her eyes ahead, focusing on the beat of her sandals hitting the floor to lull her frantic mind.

The tunnel brightened as an archway of light came into view. A steady hum echoed down the tunnel, growing continuously louder.

Her heart banged against her rib cage. Every cruel word, every suspicious and disapproving glance she’d received over the last three years crashed through her mind. This was the day she’d overcome it all. She’d sketched plans for the temple that would be built for her, spent nights awake at the prospect of introducing herself to the humans. She’d dreamt of the day her father would look at her and see her, and not the shame of her brother.

The Immortal Game
Talia Rothschild & A.C. Harvey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: May 25th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

An exiled goddess goes on a quest to clear her name and save Mount Olympus in Talia Rothschild & A C Harvey’s action-packed young adult debut, The Immortal Game!

Galene, daughter of Poseidon, desperately wants to earn her place among the gods. But when a violent attack leaves Mount Olympus in chaos and ruins, she is accused of the crime. Banished from Olympus, Galene sets out to prove her innocence and discovers a more deadly plot—one that threatens even the oldest of Immortals.

Fortunately, she has allies who willingly join her in exile:

A lifelong friend who commands the wind.
A defiant warrior with deadly skill.
A fire-wielder with a hero’s heart.
A mastermind who plays life like a game.

All-out war is knocking at the gates. Galene and her friends are the only ones who can tip the scales toward justice, but their choices could save Olympus from total annihilation, or be the doom of them all.

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Author Bio:

Talia Rothschild, Italian American, is passionate about stories in many forms—music, dance, photography, film and, of course, great novels. She believes in thick hot chocolate and creamer in your tea. When she’s not happily writing, she’s mothering the sweetest baby girl and making memories with her husband. Her debut book The Immortal Game, coauthored with A. C. Harvey, hits the shelves May 2021.

Ashleigh Harvey is teaching high school physics and bringing her writing dreams to life. English-born and world-traveled, she loves filling her life with new adventures, such as visiting a new country or exploring the Wild West with her husband. She also finds escape in movies, music, literature, and yearly comic conventions. The Immortal Game is her debut novel, created alongside Talia Rothschild, her close friend.

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#NEW Amish Romance Release: SHELTER IN THE STORM by Laurel Blount


In this moving Amish romance, two broken hearts find hope in each other after a terrible loss.

Unspeakable tragedy strikes the Amish hamlet of Johns Mill when an unstable Englischer opens fire in the Hochstedler General Store. In the aftermath, and under the media's spotlight, Joseph Hochstedler struggles to hold his shattered family together, drawing unexpected comfort from a faithful childhood friend.

Born with a serious heart defect, optimist Naomi Schrock has always longed to live a life of service. She rolls up her sleeves, determined to help Joseph cope with this terrible crisis. But dare she hope that his friendship will finally deepen into love?

As the media's obsession with the Hochstedler shooting escalates, Joseph and Naomi find themselves caught between tradition and compromise, between lingering sorrows and uncertain hopes. And in the end, two people who've already lost far too much must find the courage to trust their hearts one last time.

Amazon buy link: 


About the Author

Award-winning author Laurel Blount writes captivating romances full of grit and grace--with characters who'll walk right off the page and into your heart. She lives on a farm in Georgia with her husband, their four fabulous kids, and an assortment of ridiculously spoiled animals.



Tuesday, May 25, 2021

#Review: UNDERCOVER DUKE by Sabrina Jeffries


  4 of 5 stars

Sheridan Wolfe, Duke of Armitage, has a problem. Actually, he has several problems, but the first one is try to figure out who is responsible for killing his mother's 3 husbands--all being dukes. Secondly, he needs to find funds to keep the dukedom afloat and he's desperate. His tasked by his siblings to get close to Vanessa Pryde's mother as she was at two house parties where the men died. The more time he spends with trying to pull information our of her, the more he's attracted to Vanessa, but he can't afford a wife. Vanessa has loved Sheridan for as long as she can remember and is thrilled that he's been calling on her. Now, she just had to get him to propose.

This was an enjoyable book and we finally learn who's killed the 3 dukes!! Even though I've read the other books in the series, I had a hard time keeping everybody straight. I would suggest new readers read the other books in the series for all the clues sprinkled along the way. I loved that Vanessa wasn't a wilting wallflower and she was willing to do whatever to finally gain Sheridan's attention. I felt the lust between Sheridan and Vanessa, but there was so much time spent on the mystery and not enough attention paid to the romance between these two in my opinion. It seemed they went from attraction to love very quickly.

I voluntarily read the advanced reader copy and all opinions is my own.

Friday, May 21, 2021

#Review: NEVER DANCE WITH A MARQUESS by Maggi Andersen



  3 of 5 stars

Nicholas, Marquis of Pennington, has his ordered life upended when he fulfills a promise to his dying friend and becomes ward to his friend's two young children while helping to supporting the oldest daughter Caroline through her first Season. Caroline at first thinks Nicholas arrogant and aloof and she's not sure he's the best person to take care of her two younger siblings. It's not until she spends some time with him and the children at Nicholas's country seat that she begins to see him in a different life. Nicholas, on the other hand, is struggling trying to balance running his estate and taking care of Bella and Jeremy.

This was a cute story with the major part of it focused on Nicholas and how he changes and realizes he does want to marry and have a family. He can't imagine his life without Caroline, but it takes him to the 95% mark to declare his feelings. The villain in the story is pretty predictable and rather stupid. There's not much action in the story, but more a slow-burn sweet romance between Nicholas and Caroline.

I voluntarily read the advanced reader copy and all opinions are my own. 


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

#Excerpt: CAT NAPPED by R.J. Blain

R.J. Blain
(Magical Romantic Comedies #14)
Publication date: May 11th 2021
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Urban Fantasy

When someone steals Diana’s cat, a former lab animal rescued from death’s door, she calls on one of the most dangerous beings in the universe for help. Cutting a deal with the devil isn’t the smartest move, but there’s no way in hell she’ll abandon Mr. Flooferson the Magnificent to his fate.

Teaming up with the son of a demon, an angel, and one hell of a woman might push Diana to the limits of her courage and sanity. Unless she wants to sell her soul to the devil, she must cope with her new partner, make the most of a bad situation, and find out who stole her cat and why.

What she learns will forever change humanity–and lead to a battle destined to forever change the heavens and the devil’s many hells.

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Chapter One

Someone had taken Mr. Flooferson the Magnificent, and when I got my hands on the culprit, they would know the true meaning of fear. As my cat was terrified of the outdoors, strangers, and anything that reminded him of his former life as a lab animal, there was no way in hell he would’ve left the comforts of home without the use of force. I couldn’t even convince him to meet me at the door. He cried pitifully from the safety of the couch, some ten feet away, until I came into his domain and he could reassure himself I hadn’t left him like every other human in his life.

No, unlike every other human in his life, I showed him love without pain. In the shelter hosting the retired lab cats, he’d been the saddest of the lot, so terrified of everyone and everything that the shelter operators had considered putting him out of his misery. No one wanted the scared ones, the ones who couldn’t charm unsuspecting humans into adopting them.

Mr. Flooferson should have been on the couch waiting for me, but my door had been kicked in, the lock broken beyond repair. Worse, someone had torn the place apart and left with my cat and his fleece-lined carrier.

Had the bastard left my cat’s carrier, I might have believed my baby had run out of fear.

I cracked my knuckles one by one, scowled, and considered my options. The police would need to come over and check everything over. After the police flailed about and accomplished little, for they had more important things to do than investigate the loss of my cat, I would begin using every contact I could. While I was only a secretary within the CDC, secretaries held power.

Every day, I talked to the big wigs, the wealthy, and the powerful, and I earned their respect so I could smooth paths for my bosses, who needed to work with people all around the world.

I had the Devil on speed dial, and I wasn’t afraid of using his wife to get what I wanted. While I wouldn’t cut a deal with the Devil, I’d find a way to make him do my bidding.

Well, maybe I’d cut a deal with the Devil, but I wouldn’t bargain away my soul.

Nobody, and I meant nobody, would hurt my cat and get away with it.

I retrieved my cell from my purse and called the non-emergency line for the police, explaining that my home had been broken into and the thieves had stolen my cat and his carrier. My concern about my pet made the cop laugh, but he said he’d send a patrol over as soon as there was one available.

I’d been around the block often enough to understand nobody would be available any time soon.

All right. If the cops wanted to play games, I’d play.

I dialed the Devil, and if Satan gave me a hard time, I’d go straight to his wife and show him his little layer of hell had a new owner until my cat was safely home.

“Good evening, Diana. It’s after hours, and you never work from home unless the world is at a literal risk of ending. We aren’t scheduled for the End of Days at this moment. As I’m far too lazy to peek right now, what can I do for you?”

“You can help me find who stole my cat, flay the flesh from their bones, toss them into the nastiest pit of your hells, and give me a fiery whip so I can have some fun with the fuckers.”


I gave the Devil as much time as he needed to realize he spoke to a crazy cat lady on a mission to murder some thieving assholes.

“Have you forgotten who I am, Diana?”

“I absolutely called you fully aware of who and what you are, and if you could put Darlene on the line if you’re not willing to help me find my cat, it would save me making a few other phone calls and knocking on your door in an hour. If I have to knock on your door in an hour, I’m going to redefine misery through hellfire for you. And if someone, and by someone I mean you, says it’ll be a cold day in hell first, I’ll come there and break all of your windows.”

Thanks to Darlene, I’d learned the Devil enjoyed his air conditioning, his hells followed a disturbing number of scientific rules, and only some serious magic on his windows and walls kept the heat outside where it belonged.

“That’s harsh for my electric bill.”

“As if you actually pay it. Assistance or put Darlene on the phone, Lucifer. Jack shit is up for negotiation today. Someone stole my cat.”

“This is the most fun I’ve had in a week. Since I call my daughter Cupcake, you’re just going to have to be Cookie.”

“No. I will have Darlene kill you if you start calling me Cookie. And once I send Darlene after you, I’m going to call Kanika and tell her. Once I’m done with her, I’ll go through every single one of your brothers until one of them agrees to help me put you in your place.”

“Don’t ruin my fun,” the Devil complained. “I need some fun today. Darlene made me clean up the dungeon this morning.”

“I will ruin every part of your life if you don’t help me find my cat.” I meant it, too. Maybe I was only a secretary, but I had three of the Devil’s brothers on speed dial, and I’d play the hardball. I would play so hard the entire planet tilted on its axis if necessary.

Nobody fucked with my cat.

The Devil laughed at me. “You know the rules, Snickerdoodle. I can’t fiddle much with mortal affairs, and the thieves are mere mortals. I’m sure you can handle them.”

Well, Snickerdoodle beat Cookie, so I’d ignore his idiocy in favor of rescuing my missing cat. “Does it look like I give a flying shit about the rules? The cop I called laughed at me and claimed he’d send someone over if they had somebody available. I live in fucking Miami. Do you know what that means? There’s nobody available, and there’ll be nobody available until the End of Days, and we’ll all be fucking dead then. They aren’t going to do jack shit about my trashed house, they aren’t going to investigate my missing cat, and Mr. Flooferson the Magnificent will be gone forever. I want my cat!”

“Mr. Flooferson… the Magnificent?”

I gave credit where credit was due; the Devil didn’t outright laugh at me. “Yes. That is my cat’s name.”

“Why did you name your cat that?”

“He’s a former lab animal, and the shelter was going to euthanize him because he was scared of people. He had good reason to be scared of people. That’s not his fault. He’s a beautiful long-haired cat, and it took me six months, but he lets me hold him now. He’s terrified of large spaces, and he won’t go within ten feet of the front door. I have to bring a vet to the house because I can’t stand the thought of taking him somewhere that might remind him of a lab. They could be torturing my baby. Why would they break into my house and take my cat?”

I didn’t give a shit if the Devil thought less of me for the waver in my voice. Focusing on my breathing, I lifted my chin and prepared to wage war against the ruler of some ridiculous number of hells.

“I would suggest you look into what sort of lab studies he was involved with. If they were testing new drugs, for example, someone might want to recover him to observe long-term consequences of drug exposure. There are many reasons why someone might want to recover a former lab animal. Alternatively, why might someone want to steal your cat? You have many contacts, myself included. It could be less about your cat and more about manipulating you because you love your cat.”

“Damn fucking straight I love my cat, you cat-spanked devil!”

“I would accuse you of leveling a low blow at me, but I do very much enjoy being spanked by my cat. She’s a most lovely feline, and one of my favorite hobbies is playing with her spots. If I’m really good, she might even come out as her natural form.”

“I will beg her to never let you see one of her prized spots ever again.”

“I should recruit you to become one of my generals. You would whip the chaos right out of my hells within a week. My hells would be immaculately run. I should demand you run my hells for a while in exchange for recovering your cat.”

“I have no interest in going to hell as a resident or a visitor, thank you. Now, about Mr. Flooferson the Magnificent. Which is more probable? That someone wants him because of what he went through as a lab animal, or that someone wants to manipulate me?”

“In my most humble opinion, I believe that either is equally probable. Was your cat part of a reputable lab?”

Since when did the Devil think of himself as humble? I almost laughed. Instead, I cleared my throat to buy myself a moment to regain my composure. “I have no idea. I just saw there were lab animals in need of loving homes, and I decided my home would be the most loving of homes. I will hurt you if you disagree with me.”

The Devil laughed at me. “If someone took your cat because of its history as a lab animal, it would have been rescued from an illegal operation. The legal operations are under regulations to keep the animals happy—and as healthy as possible. Those labs would not try to reclaim an animal. The government has been phasing out animal testing in favor of cutting large checks to humans with the appropriate conditions. They have also been clearing off criminal records in exchange for some pain and suffering, too.”

“This is an excellent reminder to maintain my record of being a law-abiding citizen.”

“You’re disgustingly law-abiding, yes. You should indulge in some evil. We’d have a great time.”

“No, but thank you for your most generous offer, Lucifer.”

“Are you sure? Your soul would provide me with decades of entertainment. I would convert you into one of my most prized devils. A general who would take over most of my hells by storm and sometimes answer to me when it’s truly necessary.”

I considered his offer. “What do you call a female devil, anyway?”

“A devil.”

“That’s lame. Demonesses are better named.”

“I’m sure I could come up with an appropriately feminine title for your enjoyment.”

“I’m sure you could, but I must refuse your most generous offer at this time. Now, about my cat. Are you going to help, or am I going to be having a long talk with Darlene?”

The Devil heaved a sigh. “You’re almost as bad as my daughter. Must you, Diana?”

“I must. Someone stole my cat, the police aren’t taking me seriously, and if I don’t figure out what I need to do to get my cat back, I’ll take over your realm, and then I’ll storm the heavens if I must.” It would take more work to access the heavens, but I could make use of some other contacts—or twist the Devil’s arm into helping me somehow.

“I’ll beg, but please storm the heavens. It would be spectacular. My darling thought about storming the heavens once, but then He got the bright idea of inviting her for tea and dainty little sandwiches, and she loves it. Worse, she makes me go with her.”

“It’s not like I want to keep the heavens. I don’t even want to go there. Come on, just get your ass over here and make the police take me seriously. Bring Darlene, so when I start crying, she can yell at you while I’m coming to terms with my inability to kill you or get my hands on the fuckers responsible for taking my cat and destroying my house.”

“Any other requests?”

“My cat!”

“I can’t do that, Diana. You know I’m not permitted to interfere with mortal matters outside of a bargain, and I have no bargain allowing me access to this matter. You would have to bargain with me.”

I loved my cat, but I also didn’t want to lose my immortal soul for my cat. “Can bargains be for something other than my soul? I like my soul, Lucifer.”

“I’m very aware of your possessiveness over your soul. You would deny even Him.”

That I would. “I like my soul precisely where it is, in my possession, where no nasty beings, yourself included, can meddle with it. But I’ll bargain if you can come up with something that does not result in the loss of my soul.”

“You will accept a partner of my choosing for this venture. For however long it takes you to recover your cat and bring the catnappers to justice, and we’ll define precisely what justice means as a part of our bargain. Until I have declared justice has been secured, you will work with this individual of my choosing. You will spend a minimum of two hours a day with this individual, who likewise owes me a favor and was wise enough to safeguard his soul from me and my rather evil activities.”

I rolled my eyes, as the Devil talked loud and often about his evils but rarely dished them out. I’d met convicts who’d sinned far worse than the Devil on a bad day.

“Rude,” the Devil complained.

“But true. Why do you want me to spend time with this individual?”

“Both of his fathers have severely annoyed me, and it will be highly entertaining if I can force him to live up to a bargain.”

Shit. The Devil had bargained with the son of a triad? Trouble was the Devil having anything to do with a triad at all. “Demon?” I asked, contemplating tossing up a few prayers to mitigate some of the issues the child of a triad brought around when they showed up.


Damn it. “You seriously let one of your devils out to go on a fling with an angel?”


I already regretted calling the devil. “You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

“If only. The devil in question, who happens to be one of my generals, begged. I hate when they get to the point of begging. The archangel, well, that was a poorly chosen promise in a moment of weakness.”

“A poorly chosen promise in a moment of weakness?”

“He claimed if that specific general happened to ever be brought low by a woman, that he would demand proof. Somehow, that became the foundation of a triad.” The Devil laughed. “I’ve stopped worrying about when the heavens and my hells mix. We’re one big, demented family. He approved, so that’s that. Watching one of my generals be brought low by a woman? Truly delightful—especially after he’d spent time mocking me about Darlene. To sweeten the deal? He fell for his bride shortly after Darlene stormed my gates. The best of women storm gates to places, I’ve noticed. Their son is younger than you are, but not by much, and thanks to his genetics, he matured early.”

I snorted at that, almost pitying the son of a high-ranked devil, an archangel, and someone who likely classed as one hell of a woman. “Only an idiot mocks you or your wife.”

“I thought about putting him in time out for a few thousand years, but him being brought low by a woman worked out for the better. And anyway, he likes Darlene, but he does enjoy when he gets to be a pest. He’s become even bolder, as Darlene likes him. Darlene would prefer if he sticks to a humanoid form while wearing a suit, which has basically become his dress code. Darlene being happy means everyone has a much higher chance of being happy. Anyway, your partner is thirty-two, he takes after his human mother too much for your good, and he’s rather determined.”

“The last thing I need is a determined man in my life, Lucy.”

“I’m aware, which is part of what makes this so much fun. Will you bargain, Diana?”

“I will discuss the idea of a bargain with you, but I will not agree to any bargain until I hear all the details. And I’m expecting a bribe of you making the police take this seriously in order to open negotiations once you’re here.”

“Excellent. Do expect company within an hour, and I will bring your new partner with me so you have all of the fine print you so love in front of you—and if you’re particularly unfortunate, I’ll bring his parents as well.”

“You’re an asshole, Lucifer.”

“I really am. Wear something nice.” The Devil hung up on me, leaving me all by myself to scream my frustration over the situation.

After screeching a few curses, I drew in some calming breaths, decided to ignore his commentary about my clothes, and waited for trouble to come knocking at my door.

Author Bio:

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.

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Monday, May 17, 2021

#Excerpt: A SURREALIST AFFAIR by Jacqueline Corcoran

A Surrealist Affair
Jacqueline Corcoran
Published by: Entangled: Amara
Publication date: May 17th 2021
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Elle Dakin is shocked when she’s given the opportunity to fly to Paris to attribute a newly discovered painting to her favorite artist. After all, why would they choose a broke, struggling Art History doctoral student for such an honored task? When she arrives in Paris, she realizes the deal was too good to be true—suddenly she’s neck deep in a murder, an international art theft, and threats to her safety. Thank goodness Ryan, an art exporter, comes to her aid, protecting her from the dangerous side of Paris and those who would try to harm her. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s sinfully handsome…until she discovers he has just as many secrets as everyone she’s met on this trip of a lifetime gone wrong…

The last assignment undercover FBI agent Ryan DeLong wants is to investigate art theft. But here he is, stuck in Paris, chasing down the thieves of a million-dollar masterpiece. The only bright spot is Elle, the shy but enchanting doctoral student who teaches him about more than just the beauty of Surrealism. He can’t tell her the truth of his identity, plus he refuses to get romantically involved with anyone while he’s on a case. But when he learns Elle also has things to hide, he begins to doubt everything he thought he knew about her.

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As she sipped the heavy red wine, she looked around. Typical of galleries, the space was cavernous compared to the amount of work actually displayed. Her gaze traveled up the front-and-center piece, a lavender line of lights in the unmistakable shape of a phallus that stretched up the entryway to the cathedral-high ceiling. That had not been there earlier. Babette’s staff must have spent all afternoon installing it.

When she shifted her gaze, she felt her eyes widen. Out of two million people in Paris, it was

the same man that had saved her from the pickpocket in baggage claim! Her heart beat so hard, it made her blood feel like it was fizzing. Was it the wine? She’d only had a few swallows.

She realized her gaze had been locked on his. Neither of them smiling, it seemed like foreplay, and her stomach dove deliciously, as if she had taken a sudden dip on a rollercoaster.

All of this was going through her and yet, she stood motionless. She was afraid she was going to topple over and make a fool of herself, when she’d never wanted to impress anyone more.

Her face grew warm. Part of it was the force of their eye contact, but it was also at the blatant symbolism of that lavender installation, a visible sign of what throbbed between them.

Author Bio:

Jacqueline Corcoran was born in England, but has lived in the U.S. for most of her life - in Boston, California, Michigan, Texas, and now in the Washington D.C. area with her husband, two children, and three rescue animals. She is a social worker, psychotherapist and professor (at the University of Pennsylvania), as well as an author. Her published work includes 17 textbooks, two non-fiction trade titles, and several novels.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Interview with Abbie Roads, CAPTURING FATE


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?

Capturing Fate is a standalone novel. But you can also read it after Saving Mercy.


In Capturing Fate, we meet Dolan and Daughter.


As a child, the police found Dolan dehydrated and covered in blood. No one ever came forward to claim him, so he spent his childhood in and out of group homes. Because of the instability of his youth, he’s learned to rely only on himself. Which is normally an excellent trait, but when working for the FBI where teamwork and cooperation matter, his fierce independence is a hinderance and leads to an ultimatum by his boss: Get therapy or get a new job.


Daughter was adopted as a baby. The only non-negotiable clause to her adoption was that she keep the name Daughter. Her parents gave her a childhood full of wonder and delight, and she grew up to be a psychologist.

When Daughter and Dolan meet, not only is their chemistry off the charts, but a chain of events is put in motion that neither of them expected.


Do you have a favorite character in Capturing Fate?

Yes! Snake!


Dolan had no memory of what came before the police found him, but he did have an imaginary friend named Snake. Snake is the only constant in Dolan’s life. As adult Dolan knows he shouldn’t have an imaginary friend because that makes him sound crazy, but Snake is like the brother Dolan never had.

Snake looks out for Dolan when he isn’t looking out for himself. And you can feel Snake’s affection for Dolan.


Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?

In Capturing Fate, 302 (the number is the character’s name) was originally a side character, but his personality evolved and he played a far larger role in the novel than I ever intended for him. His life and circumstances are complicated, leading him to struggle with right and wrong.


When I get around to writing the next book in this series, it will be his.


Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?

Sort of… Lol…


When I was first starting writing in 2010, I tried and tried and tried to write a good query letter. I took classes and courses on writing query letters, but every query letter I wrote sounded like third graders’ book report!


So, I started entering writing contests. If my manuscript made it to the last round, the judges were agents and editors who would read my actual writing without ever reading my query!


This is exactly how I got my agent! She read the first 50 pages of Hunt the Dawn, then requested the full manuscript, then offered to represent me.


When it came to getting my editor for my first four books, I had a face-to-face pitch with her. The editor said I had a great pitch, but that she couldn’t sell romantic suspense with paranormal elements because authors always use the paranormal to solve all the problems. My novel wasn’t like that, but I didn’t argue with her. Then she said if I ditched all the paranormal she would look at it. I wasn’t going to get rid of the paranormal. I loved the paranormal elements. They were so different from anything on the market. I thanked her for listening to my pitch and moved on.


A year later she bought the same novel I had pitched to her after reading only 10 pages! And the next three books I was writing too!


Capturing Fate is my first self-published novel.


Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?

When I first started writing, I belonged to a few critique groups. I found them profoundly helpful. As a new writer, there was always something getting lost in the translation from my head to the page. Critique groups helped me see those translation problems.


But critique groups are not for everyone. You need to be in the right frame of mind and have confidence in the story you want to tell. You can’t let other’s opinions deter you. And you have to know the difference between good advice and bad advice.

Now I have one dedicated critique partner. It’s her job to keep me from looking like an idiot!


What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?

Normally, I like to write in silence. Music is too distracting. I also prefer to write at home in my office or out on the deck during the summer. When I’m somewhere new trying to write, I struggle to find the muse. 


Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?

I’m a tried-and-true pantser. Pantser means I write by the seat of my pants. I have no outline or plan beyond a vague idea of a scene I may want to have later in the novel.


I wish I could be different. Every time I’m ready to start a new book I try to plot. I’ve tried every method out there. No matter how much I plot, nothing in that plot is going to happen when I actually write the book. It’s like if I know what’s going to happen, then it’s boring to me and I don’t want to write it!


I spend a lot of time on the first one hundred pages getting to know my characters. Working them and reworking them until I feel like finally know who they are.


When I get beyond the halfway mark, the writing gets easier because I know my characters and at least have a vague idea of what’s going to happen in the next scene.  


What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?

Self-publishing is a lot harder than it looks! There’s so many little moving pieces that all effect sales and visibility. I honestly don’t know how so many authors do it all themselves. I feel like I need three of me to get it all done.

But one thing I love about self-publishing is the control. I get to control my cover, my blurb, my prices, and my promotions.


Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?

Yes. Extremely. I could quit writing completely and solely work on marketing, and still it wouldn’t be enough. It always feels like here isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that should be done in the marketing realm. There’s always a newsletter that needs sent, graphics to make, posts to schedule, giveaways to coordinate, groups to manage… The list goes on and on.


It really comes down to deciding, “I have to write today.” And making it a priority.


What advice would you give a new author just entering the self-publishing arena?

Take the time to learn your craft and learn the industry. It’s tempting to write a book then immediately publish it, but that’s not always what’s best for you or your career.


I’ve had many author acquaintances who wrote a book then published it only to be ashamed of the book months or years later when they learned more about their craft and the industry.


It’s okay to slow down, take a deep breath, and spend some time learning how to write and market. This will pay off in the future. 


Capturing Fate
Abbie Roads
(Fatal Truth #2)
Publication date: January 28th 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, Thriller

Can love untangle a web of lies and expose the truth?

A loner with a mysterious childhood…

FBI agent Dolan Watts is no stranger to pain. From his childhood spent in foster care to his daily grind of hunting down hardened criminals, pain has been the one constant through the years. Confronted by a malicious new enemy who revels in mind games, Dolan begins to doubt his own perceptions.

A woman haunted by a secret…

Psychologist Daughter Dawson sabotages her own safety the moment she accepts Dolan as a client. Still, she feels compelled to help him. Dolan’s past mirrors many of the questions about her own. When she makes the mistake of confiding in him, both their lives are thrust into unimaginable danger.

Find out why people are up all night reading bestselling author Abbie Roads’ chilling, emotional novels. You might want to read with the lights on and box of tissues.

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Author Bio:

Seven Things about Abbie Roads:
1. She loves Snicker Parfaits. Gotta start with what's most important, right?
2. She writes dark emotional books featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending... after torturing them for three hundred pages.
3. By day she's a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. At night she burns up the keyboard. Well... Burn might be too strong a word. She at least sits with her hands poised over the keyboard, waiting for inspiration to strike. And when it does--the keyboard might get a little warm.
4. She can't stand it when people drive slowly in the passing lane. Just saying. That's major annoying. Right?
5. She loves taking pictures of things she thinks are pretty.
6. She lives in Marion, Ohio with her favorite fellow and two fur babies.
7. Being a published author is a dream come true for her.

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