Saturday, April 30, 2022

#Review: UNMASKING THE THIEF by Mary Lancaster


  4 of 5 stars

Francisco de Salgado wants to resign from working for the British government, but he agrees to one last mission to find out if there is any truth to the rumor that someone is organizing an insurgency movement across Britain in the hopes of toppling the government. His first lead takes him to Maida, the Pleasure Gardens. He follows the wrong woman and by chance he meets governess Matty Mather. Francis can't get the young woman out of his mind and he risks his mission to be closer to her. Matty is content with her life as a governess, that is, until she meets Francis. She knows he's dangerous, but she's drawn to him like a moth to the flame. Can she help him with his mission without losing her heart to the handsome spy?

This was another enjoyable read in the Pleasure Garden series. There was a good mix of intrigue, danger, tension and attraction between Francis and Matty. Ms. Lancaster knows how to drawn in the reader with her dark and sexy heroes. I also loved Matty. She knew what she wanted and wasn't afraid to go after it. I was happy to see she didn't turn into a whimpering miss once she had feelings for Francis. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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

Friday, April 29, 2022

#Review: RULES FOR ENGAGING THE EARL by Janna MacGregor



4 of 5 stars

Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston, came home from the war a broken man, not only physically but mentally as well. He can no longer walk without a cane and he mourns the man he used to be by cutting himself off from everything and everyone he knows. When Constance Lysander asks for his help, she's the one person he can never deny. He's the only woman he's ever loved. She had been caught in a terrible scandal when it became known that her husband was married to 2 other women. Now she needs to marry so her unborn child will not be a bastard. Jonathan steps up and agrees to marry Constance in name only. They're both are hiding secrets and when Constance finally joins him at his estate a year later, they will be hard-pressed to learn to trust each other.

For me this book was about trust--Jonathan suffers from PTSD and feels he's unworthy of love and Constance has serious issues of abandonment. They tiptoe around each other with Jonathan hiding mostly in his study and Constance trying to find ways to reach him. I liked Constance as she tried to reach Jonathan with understanding and never pity. I felt so bad for Jonathan. He was so damaged and only the loving ways of a devoted wife could reach him if only he allowed it. When secrets are revealed, they threaten the fragile relationship they had formed. Ms. MacGregor does an excellent job of letting the reader into each character's most private thoughts. The plot moves along nicely with the addition of a couple of secondary characters. Looking forward to reading Beth's story next!

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


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

#Excerpt: BRIDGES by Linda Griffin

Linda Griffin
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: April 25th 2022
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance

In 1963, Neil Vincent, a middle-aged World War II veteran and “Christian atheist” is working at Westfield Court as a chauffeur. He spends most of his spare time reading. Mary Claire DeWinter is a young, blind, Catholic college student and reluctant heiress. To secure her inheritance, she has to marry within a year, and her aunt is pressuring her to marry a rich man who teased and bullied her when she was a child. Neil and Mary Claire shouldn’t even be friends, but the gulf between them is bridged by a shared love of books. Can they cross the bridge to more?

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On the drive to Brierly Station, he didn’t speculate about who Miss DeWinter might be. It wasn’t his job to know who she was, only to meet her train and take her safely back to Westfield Court. She wouldn’t be the last of the friends and relatives who would gather as the old man’s life came to its long-awaited and peaceful end.

Brierly was bustling today, as restless as the St. James household. He was in plenty of time for the train and sat in the car reading. The car was a Bentley Mark VI, as well-maintained and highly polished as it was the day it was purchased. The book he was reading was Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native.

When the train rumbled in, he got out of the car. He stood patiently on the platform as the passengers disembarked, holding up a small slate on which he had chalked DEWINTER in large capitals. There weren’t many passengers, but they were briefly delayed while the conductor helped a blind woman navigate the steps. Neil’s gaze fell expectantly on a woman in her thirties, with an awful hat, but she was immediately met by a portly man and a teenage boy. No other likely prospects appeared, and he waited for someone to respond to the sign. No one did.

Finally, only two passengers were left on the platform—a small, homely man and the blind woman. Blind girl, really. She couldn’t be more than twenty. She had a jointed white cane, and her large sunglasses didn’t cover the edges of the scars on her face. She would not have been beautiful even without the scars—too thin, for starters, of average height but with small bones. On the other hand, her face might once have been pretty, and her hair was clean and shining, raven black, and well brushed. She was too pale, and the scars around her eyes were red and ugly. She looked a little lost.

Feeling foolish, he lowered the slate. “Miss DeWinter?” he asked as he approached her.

“Yes,” she said, turning toward his voice with a smile.

“I’m Vincent,” he said. “The St. James chauffeur.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Vincent,” she said. “Thank you for meeting me.” Her voice was soft, her enunciation perfect.

The porter fetched her luggage—a single gray vinyl suitcase with a flower decal—from the depot and turned it over to Neil with a cheerful nod. Jane would be disappointed, especially if the girl’s other clothes were as plain as what she wore, a simple dark dress with long sleeves and an unfashionable, below-the-knees hemline. “Would you take my arm?” he asked, positioning himself so she could place her hand in the crook of his elbow, which she did with easy confidence.

“Do you have a Christian name?” she asked.

“Yes, miss. It’s Neil.”

“That’s a good name,” she said. “Mine is Mary Claire. How is my grandfather, do you know?”

Neil, who hadn’t known the old man had any grandchildren, said, “Hanging on, miss.”

He opened the car door and helped her into the back seat.

“You don’t have to call me ‘miss’ all the time,” she said. “Please call me Mary Claire. Or my friends at school call me Sunny.”

“Yes, miss,” he said automatically and closed the door.

Author Bio:

For more information, visit my website, sign up for my newsletter, and claim a free autographed copy of Stonebridge:

I was born and raised in San Diego, California and earned a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. I began my career as a reference and collection development librarian in the Art and Music Section of the San Diego Public Library and then transferred to the Literature and Languages Section, where I had the pleasure of managing the Central Library’s Fiction collection and initiating fiction order lists for the entire library system. Although I also enjoy reading biography, memoir, and history, fiction remains my first love. In addition to the three R’s—reading, writing, and research—I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and travel.

My earliest ambition was to be a “book maker” and I wrote my first story, “Judy and the Fairies,” with a plot stolen from a comic book, at the age of six. I broke into print in college with a story in the San Diego State University literary journal, The Phoenix, but most of my magazine publications came after I left the library to spend more time on my writing.

My stories have been published in numerous journals, including Eclectica, Thema Literary Journal, The Binnacle, The Nassau Review, Orbis, and Avalon Literary Review, and in the anthologies Short Story America, Vol. 2, The Captive and the Dead, and Australia Burns. Four stories, including one as yet unpublished, received honorable mention in the Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction contests.

Member of RWA, Authors Guild, and Sisters in Crime

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

#Review: NEVER A DUKE by Grace Burrowes


  4 of 5 stars

Ned Wentworth will always be grateful being plucked from prison and given a job at the Wentworth bank by the Duke of Walden. He's loyal and works hard for the family, but he hasn't found a lady who captures his heart, that is, until Lady Rosalind Kinwood asks for his help in locating her missing maids. The more time Ned spends in the lady's company, the more he enjoys it. Rosalind has been bullied by her family and the ton over the years and she tries hard not to let them upset her. When she asks Ned for help, she has no idea he's exactly what she needs.

I loved Ned. He was so honorable, kind and compassionate and enjoyed spending time with Lady Rosalind. He's the first man that has actually listened to her and she plans more outings with him much to the disapproval of her family. There's a nefarious plot afoot kidnapping young women off the streets of London and Rosalind knows Ned will not stop until he finds them. The pace of the book moves along nicely with the slow burn romance and the mystery of who the villain is. There's a great twist at the end when the villain is finally revealed. Through a lot of bumps along the way, Ned and Rosalind finally find their HEA much to the delight of the Wentworth family. It might be helpful to read the previous books in the series especially the first one to understand how Ned met the duke.

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


Monday, April 25, 2022

#Review: LOVE, LIES and TREASONOUS SPIES by Anne Shaw



  3.5  of 5 stars


Sir Jack Sterling is on the hunt for the elusive spy and traitor, the Hawk. The Hawk grows bolder and doesn't care who is hurt or killed and Jack is determined to catch the traitor. What he doesn't count on is for his friend's younger sister, Rachel Farnsworth, to insert herself in the middle of his investigation. Rachel is chafing at her father's high-handedness in forcing her to marry this Season. It's the last thing she wants. If she stays single until she reaches her majority, she'll inherit her childhood home Rosewood free and clear. It's all she's ever wanted even above a husband and children. She has no idea the trouble she's in nor that Jack is trying to protect her at all costs.


This was an intriguing spy story full of twists and turns. I enjoyed it, but found problems with the book. As the first book in a new series, I wished the author had better explained what the Tenet Club was. It was confusing as to what they actually did. Were they a private club? The Crown's spies? A branch of the Home Office?  The villain was referred to as The Hawk or The Fowl which made me think there was more than one villain. For clarity, it would have been better to just refer to the villain by one name. I also wasn't a fan of Rachel. She acted like a spoiled brat throughout most of the book especially when she kept going against Jack's advice. When she doesn't get her own way, she pouts and sulks like a child. Jack on the other hand was an honorable and likable gentleman who was determined to catch the spy who had caused so much trauma to those he loved. The mystery of who The Hawk is was well done. I had figured out who it was, but the reasoning behind the Hawk's actions was compelling and unexpected.


It will be interesting to see where the author takes this series. Her writing is compelling and with a little more attention to detail, it could be an outstanding series.


Follow the gentlemen of the Tenet Club—an elusive group of noblemen that investigates crimes committed by the nobility—on a rousing journey of romance, suspense, and a guaranteed happily ever-after.

Sir Jack Sterling is on the trail of a treasonous spy. He follows a lead to a masquerade, where a moonlight garden—plus an inebriated heiress—equals trouble to more than his investigation.

Miss Rachel Farnsworth has vowed never to wed, preferring her freedom to an oppressive marriage. While at a masquerade, she steals a kiss from a masked stranger that awakes something deep inside her — a thrilling desire for genuine passion.

Sir Jack has no room in his volatile life for romance, yet he can’t stop thinking about Rachel. The spy threatens her life, and he is forced to take her into his confidence.

Following a trail of deception and lies, the pair struggle against the desire growing between them.

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Friday, April 22, 2022

#Excerpt: THE ROYAL FIFTH by James Peyton

NOTE: The book is on sale for $0.99




The Royal Fifth: The amount of stolen treasure Conquistadors were supposed to give to the Spanish Crown.


In a world corrupted by its past, what could turn a sensitive artist into a killer?


Young Santa Fe artist, Martín Cortés, is devastated by the deaths of family members and the loss of a huge emerald that once belonged to Hernán Cortés.


Colin Glendaring, a disgraced archeologist with an insatiable passion for pre-Columbian artifacts, is responsible. Martín learns that another family descended from the Spanish Conqueror lives in Oaxaca. Rather than kill Glendaring, he heads south. He discovers an unconventional household that includes Ilhui, a beautiful young woman with a dangerous political agenda.


Martín is stunned when he learns how the family manages to live so well…then alarmed when he discovers that Glendaring is on his way to Oaxaca. Martín and Ilhui are soon accused of murder. On the run, they are betrayed, and Ilhui is kidnapped by a guerilla leader known for recreating grisly Aztec rituals.


With time running out, Martín makes a pact with a ruthless army officer and a crooked federal policeman. Will it be a deal with the devil, or can he do what has to be done to save his new family and love?








Three months before he approached the international bridge, Martín Cortés drove through the gates of his parents’ home in Tesuque, just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Invariably that caused something powerful to stir inside him. That particular day, as the rambling adobe came into view, what stirred inside Martín was a witch’s brew of emotions. The last time he was summoned to a business meeting by his father had been three years ago. It concerned his decision to pursue a career as an artist rather than take over the family bank. That had ended badly—for everyone.


As he turned into the driveway, Martín slowed. He scanned the wooded, thirty-acre site at the base of the piñon-covered hill and then moved his gaze to the house. His eyes traced the rounded corners of the traditional two-story adobe. Irregular roof lines dipped gradually, almost whimsically, on both sides to meandering one-story additions. The structure was pinkish-tan and looked like it had been fashioned by a sculptor, which in effect it had.


Stubby piñon trees and patches of snow dotted the edge of the gravel drive and parking area. Still cold in early March, smoke curled from one of several chimneys, caressing the bare branches of tall trees flanking the driveway. Although the sky gleamed clear and blue through the clutter of spidery branches, Martín felt like a small plane flying into a thunderhead.




AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Award-winning Author James Peyton infuses his novels with stranger-than-fiction encounters and true-to-life characters based on his extensive travel and research. Realism in his plots and action comes from that background and his experience in martial arts and tactical firearms.


The Royal Fifth is based loosely on historical events surrounding the Conqueror, Hernán Cortés, brought into the present time. It will be followed by a mystery-thriller series featuring federal policeman, Artemas Salcido. Artemas is the illegitimate son of a Mexican governor and his Yaqui servant. Following his mother’s suspicious death, he was sent to be raised by the village priest. He attended Harvard on a scholarship and returned to Mexico vowing to fight corruption—only to receive his real education, where the grade is often life or death.






Amazon Author Page:








James Peyton will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

#Review: IMPOSSIBLE by Darcy Burke


  5 of 5 stars

Maximillian Hunt, Viscount Warfield, neglects his country seat and tenants and doesn't care about anyone. He has suffered grievous wounds both emotional and physical in the war and he wants nothing to do with anyone. When his friend sends Ada Treadway to help with the estate ledgers, Max does his best to drive her away. Ada has suffered in her young life first by her family's rejection and then by her former lover, but she's determined to look on the bright side of every situation. She wants to help Max, but he's reluctant to let her in. Can these two tortured souls find love?

This book may be my favorite of the series so far. I felt bad for Max for what he suffered in the war even though he was acting like a complete bear on the estate. Ada's innate goodness shines through in the story and I love that she never gives up on trying to help Max see that there is still goodness in the world and it's worth living. The PTSD and guilt Max suffers from are quite traumatic and I liked how Ms. Burke didn't instantly fix him. The slow-burn romance between Ada and Max is well done. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

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

Monday, April 18, 2022

#Review: THOROUGHLY CAPTIVATED by Chantry Dawes


3 of 5 stars

I loved the premise of this story.  Captain Warwick (War), the Baron of Graestone, came back from the war trying to save as many men and horses as he could. He invites them to Castle Graestone to live and heal from their emotional and physical scars. He's racked with guilt over all those he could not save. He lives his life to help others, but all that is upended with Miss Lulu Darley comes to the castle to take care of his injured horses. To have a woman at the castle full of men is not acceptable and War vows to send her home the next day until she saves one of his severely injured stallions. Now he can't stop thinking about her and her quirky ways. Lulu is skittish and doesn't like to be touched ever since she was attacked in Hyde Park. She faints when she meets War for he's a beast of a man and his size intimidates her. But, the more time she spends at the castle, the more she sees his gentle side. Can she ever love such a man?

I really enjoyed the way War is always trying to help his men and boys at the castle, but I couldn't get past all the ridiculous names of the characters. I couldn't pronounce half of them and just skipped over them. That really distracted me out of the story where more simple names would have sufficed. I understand the author was trying to bring out a quirky side to the story, but I thought it took away the flow of the story. Lulu was a likable and complicated character. Her innate goodness eventually overcomes her terror of being around men as she tends to the wounded horses. As she becomes more comfortable, she begins to see the men as individuals and offers them salves and poultices to help with their wounds. The slow-burn romance between War and Lulu was well done. While the story was heartwarming and uplifting, the author's writing style is not one I enjoyed. It took me too many days to read the story and I doubt if I'll be reading any more of her books.

I received an advanced reader copy and all opinions are my own.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Interview with Lucia Ashta, WHEN THE MOON SHINES

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

When the Moon Shines starts off the Six Shooter and a Shifter series with a bang. I’m currently halfway through writing the fourth book, and after that, there will be one more to round out the series. I’ve written quite a lot of books at this point in my career, and throughout those other books, I’ve often had to rein in my boundless imagination for one reason or another. The Six Shooter and a Shifter series is what happens when I give myself permission not to hold back, to let loose, and go hog wild. ;) The adventure takes place in a one-way portal world. Once you go in, there’s no coming back out. The town of Traitor’s Den is themed after the Wild West, only the man who set the town up via a curse didn’t know all that much about what a true Western community is supposed to look like. Nobody behaves while in Traitor’s Den, and the longer anyone is there, the naughtier they get…


Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all? Did the character become the hero/heroine of their own book?

All the time! When I write, I fall in love both with my worlds and my characters. Often enough, a side character will worm their way into my heart and become so real to me, so dang fascinating, that I just can’t help exploring more. In that case, this character will later on star in their own series, which works out well since so many of my series and books are interconnected in a larger world. Readers love seeing their favorite characters weave into new series, and so do I. :)


If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?

I’m always extremely involved in the design of any one of my covers. I work with several different and highly talented graphic designers who are very skilled in taking my idea and transforming it into a stunning cover that both represents my story accurately and also makes readers want to pick up the book and dive right in.


Do you have an ARC review team? How did you recruit your reviewers? BookFunnel? Readerlinks? Booksprout?

I do have an ARC review team, but I don’t really recruit reviewers. They usually come to me, asking if I have any openings on my team, or occasionally, I’ll post about the opportunity in my Facebook reader group if there are a few open spots.


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

My writing process is quite simple, really. I sit down in my creative studio and let the muse and my characters guide me where the story wants to go. I never listen to music while I write. Silence is the best for me, as then there is no external stimuli interfering with my traveling to my story worlds.


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

I never outline. I tried it a couple of times over the years, but by the end of the first chapter, I’d already be so far off where I thought I’d be based on the outline, that I’d end up having to scrap it. After about 70 books, I’m quite comfortable trusting the muse to take me on a fun adventure. I rarely know what I’ll be writing before I sit down to do it.


Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?

Always. I work with a great editorial team that includes a content/line editor and a proofreader. I write pretty tightly to begin with, but their help in improving my books is invaluable.


Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book? Do you try to write everyday or carve out certain times during the week?

Yes! As an established author, there is always so much to do other than simply writing the next book. Despite the support of a small team, too often I find that there are more tasks for me to complete than I have time for. Whenever that happens, I usually train my focus on writing the next book. I think it’s always the best thing to do. I usually write five days a week. I’m pretty much always writing a book or two…or three. I enjoy writing more than one book or series at a time.


Besides writing, do you have any other passions?

I love to paint, draw, and art in most other ways too. I love to adventure, hike, travel, and be active in general. I love to spend quality time with my family. And I love to read amazing books!


What’s next for you?

More books, more adventure, and more fun! I’m currently writing the final book and a half in my Six Shooter and a Shifter series, while also writing another brand new series that’s still an upcoming surprise. Once I complete these two series, I’m on to the next that captures my imagination. I love creating new, magical worlds. It’s the best!


When the Moon Shines
Lucia Ashta
(Six Shooter and a Shifter, #1)
Publication date: April 1st 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Western

Welcome to Traitor’s Den. I hope you like it here, because there’s no leaving the small western town that’s more theme park than authentic. Once you walk through the portal, you’re stuck as a boot heel in a half foot of mud.

I’ve never seen the outside world and I don’t care. The cannon-toting, trigger-happy residents here are like family, even if most of them are a few spoons short of a full set. Eventually, everyone grows on you, kinda like nail fungus. But the booze flows freely, and Tiger keeps me company. He’s as much a prisoner as I am.

I don’t figure there’s much point in wanting what you can never have. I’ll eventually accept one of my boyfriend’s marriage proposals and then keep policing the one-way town while I pop out the babies he wants. I was born knowing how to make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

At least I won’t be bored. Denners aren’t fans of following the rules, and the longer they’re in town, the worse they behave, thanks to the spell that keeps us all trapped here.

Just when I think I’ve made my peace with my lot, the portal pops open and two men shoot through, throwing punches before their feet even finish landing in my town. When they finally look at me, all I see is problems. Big, ginormous, entirely-too-handsome problems. And that’s before I even take into account the little “surprise” they brought through with them.

No one’s ever looked at me the way they do.

They aren’t the kind of men who back down after claiming something.

Or someone…

Did I say I had my life in Traitor’s Den all figured out? Hell, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

* A sexy fantasy western with growly shifters, sketchy vamps, peculiar mages and creatures, and one badass cowgirl sheriff. Within this small town, magic and gossip flow as freely as whiskey, and work and pleasure are nearly the same thing. Weird things happen on the regular in Traitor’s Den. Come and join the quirky family, where everyone’s packing. Oh, and don’t mind the tiger.

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Author Bio:

Lucía Ashta is the Amazon top 20 bestselling author of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal women’s fiction filled with wild magic, spicy romance, and quirky characters that make you snort-laugh.

A former attorney and architect, she’s an Argentinian-American who lives in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains with her husband and daughters.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

#Excerpt: MERMAID OF NEW YORK by Jincey Lumpkin

Mermaid of New York
Jincey Lumpkin
(Mermaid of Venice, #3)
Publication date: February 7th 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Mermaid Gia Acquaviva’s thrilling adventures continue. She must travel to New York to fight a battle in the public arena with the powerful media moguls, Royce and Bronwyn Langley. Her casino empire is under attack, threatened by her Greek relatives. Meanwhile, Gia is paired up with a rising movie starlette to create the perceptions a tabloid romance tabloids. With tensions rising, will Gia survive after burning every bridge to get what she wants?

Fans of Killing Eve and Big Little Lies will love Mermaid of New York, a sexy psychological thriller with lush fantasy elements. The chic mystery of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley with a juicy splash of the lavish lifestyle in E. L. James’s 50 Shades series. This is not the Little Mermaid you grew up with. Gia’s out for blood.

Mermaid of New York is the third installment of the Mermaid of Venice series, 6 novels about Gia Acquaviva.

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“Park Avenue? Four bedrooms? No. I told you six bedrooms at a minimum. I need a room for my daughter and space for my security staff. I do not care what the price is. Find me the biggest, safest apart- ment in Manhattan.”

Gia hung up and slipped the phone in her bag, pulling her hat lower on her head.

As Gia waited to board her plane, her thoughts were occupied with her journey to New York—and her ensuing custody battle for Serena. Gia didn’t notice that the other plane inside the hangar bore a familiar name: Bisset. Bisset Industries to be specific.

It wasn’t until she saw a face from the past descending the airsteps of the other plane that she snapped out of her rumination.

“Bonjour, Gia,” the man said.

“Florent, is that you?” Shocked, Gia’s mouth dropped open.

Her security guards closed in around her, forming a protective circle, but she gave them the signal to back off.

“Gia,” Florent winked, “you have not aged a day.” He lightly

tugged on the neck of his cashmere turtleneck to let in a bit of fresh air. It was much too early to wear any kind of sweater, let alone cash- mere, but Florent had his reasons for the choice of wardrobe—and they had nothing to do with fashion.

Gia was dumbfounded, confused. She never thought she’d see him again—much less witness him stepping off of a jet emblazoned with his last name.

As he edged closer to her, she took a step backward. “It’s all right,” he cooed. “I heard about everything that happened to you in Sicily. I am just happy that I was able to help you.”

“Help me?” Gia shook her head, trying to process everything. “I do not understand. What do you mean?”

“We share a common friend… Awa Diop.”

“Awa? How do you know Awa? I am sorry, but this is all coming as quite a shock to me.”

On the other side of the hangar, Gia’s pilot radioed to the flight attendant that the jet was ready to depart for Teterboro airport. The flight attendant then approached Gia’s security team to begin the boarding protocol. The head of security murmured into an earpiece, relaying that Gia would be ready to board the plane shortly.

Florent continued speaking. “Awa asked me to help coordinate smuggling you out of that psychopath’s compound.”

“Why would you do that?” Gia demanded.

“We are old friends, aren’t we?” Florent’s eyes narrowed, and inside them, Gia could see her own reflection. The corners of her mouth turned down.

“I do not think that we are.” She felt tingling in her chest and a gnawing sense of anxiety. “I… I left you in St. Moritz.”

“Indeed, you did. You left me in the snow all alone.” He approached her, leaning close to her ear, whispering to her. “But I lived.” He yanked his turtleneck down, revealing a thick diagonal scar that ran from the bottom left of his chin to his right shoulder. “You tried to kill me, Gia, but I lived.”

Author Bio:

JINCEY LUMPKIN is a writer and creative director in Luxury Beauty. She is the author of the Mermaid of Venice fantasy thriller series. Recognized as a thought leader on women and culture, Jincey has written more than 50 columns for the Huffington Post and Playboy. She headlined Sex Week at Harvard and gave an infamous TEDx talk, “Are Robots the Future of Sex?” She has been profiled by Dateline NBC, Vice, and GQ, among others. Out Magazine listed her in its "OUT 100", naming her as one of the world's most influential LGBTQ+ people, alongside celebrities like Laverne Cox and Ricky Martin.

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