Monday, June 26, 2017

Unexpected Gifts by SR Mallery, Historical Romance

by S.R. Mallery

Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction with Family Saga elements

A TRUE AMERICAN FAMILY SAGA: Can we learn from our ancestors? Do our relatives’ behaviors help shape our own?

In "Unexpected Gifts" that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors' hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.

SONIA’S paraplegic Father --CHAPTER 2: Sam––Living With Fear

“First thing I killed was no kind of thing at all. It was an enemy
soldier, which was a hell of a lot easier to say than the first thing I ever killed was a man.”
--Steve Mason

“...Nearing the village, we passed women in their beige tunics, black pants, and Sampan hats, shouldering thick bamboo rods weighted down by buckets of water. Most kept their heads lowered as they walked, but the few who didn’t, stared up at us with dead, black-brown eyes and pressed lips. The afternoon was drawing to a close by the time we reached a village compound that reeked of nuoc maum rotten fish sauce and animal dung. An old, leathery woman, squatting by her hooch was our welcoming committee, but once she saw us shuffle by, she scurried back into her hut, clacking loudly in Vietnamese as chickens pecked at rice granules, bobbing their heads up and down in 2/4 time.

Carbini cut to the chase. “First, pull every one of those gooks outta their hooches, then line them up here,” he barked.

I watched my troop comb each thatched home, rounding up families of all ages and herding them out into the open like a cattle drive in Oklahoma. I, too, started the mission and stooping into one of the huts, saw a young woman sitting on a straw mat, eating some rice in a black bowl, a young child at her side.

She was exquisite—the best possible combination of French and Chinese ancestry, with such delicate features, she made my heart ache. My immediate instincts were to protect her and her son from Carbini and this horrendous war, but she just gazed up at me, emotionless.

I could hear Carbini yelling orders to get a move-on, and I signaled this girl, this treasure, to follow me. She shook her head vehemently, and curled her legs around her son. I motioned again, but still, she refused. I froze, unable to think, but when Carbini popped his head in the doorway and snarled, “Weylan!” she got the message and followed me out.

Whimpering slightly, she joined her fellow villagers, gripping her child’s hand and wiping off a tear that had slid halfway down her cheek. I suddenly pictured slave owners in pre-Civil War days and felt my lunch rise up in my throat.

“Now, get your Zippos ready, men.” As Carbini’s face flushed red, I sucked in my breath. He caught sight of my reaction and came over. “Weylan here doesn’t like my orders. Anyone else here who doesn’t like my orders?” Nobody spoke up.

He opened up one of my backpack pockets, yanked out my Zippo lighter, and shoved it into my face. Immediately, you could hear the snap of pockets opening and boots shifting. We were getting ready to Rock ‘n Roll.

Carbini was first. He marched over to a hooch, flipped on his Zippo, and carefully lit the underbelly of its thatched roof. It smoldered for a few seconds, a thin, rising wisp of smoke twisting in the tropical air. From that, a flame grew, nibbling at the straw with a low, blue heat before suddenly bursting into a torch, arcing up towards the sky in a yellow-hot blaze.

Carbini turned to us and nodded, his eyes glazed. This was our cue, yet I spun around to search for the girl, who was at the back of the pack, crying softly as she hugged her son. I glanced over at some of the other men, their hands jammed deep into their pockets, and decided to follow their lead. The fire was raging full force on each hooch now, the thatch and bamboo crackling like a 4th of July fireworks display, leaving its reflections in the villagers’ eyes and turning the sky dark with thick, bulbous smoke.

S.R. Mallery, Gold Medalist winner of the 2016 READER'S FAVORITE Book Awards for Anthologies, has been labeled nothing short of 'eclectic'. She has been a singer, a calligrapher, a quilt designer, and an ESL teacher. As a writer, History is her focus and is woven into her stories with a delicate thread. When people talk about the news of the day, or listen to music, Sarah's imagination likens the story to a similar kind of news in the past and is conjuring up scenes between characters she has yet to meet.

 Interested in learning more about S.R.'s love for history. Visit her website and travel through her passions of the past.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Steel Kisses by Laura Strickland, A Buffalo Steampunk Advernture

A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure

by Laura Strickland

Genre: Steampunk Romance

Reynold Michaels might not be the smartest man in the city, but he knows a beautiful woman when he sees one. The lovely creature he watches disembark from the steam tram every morning simply cannot be a prostitute…or an automaton. Yet at the high-priced bordello where she works he discovers she’s not only a hybrid mechanical, she’s funny, vulnerable, and quite possibly the missing piece of his heart.

Lily Landry understands that as an automaton she isn’t entitled to make her own choices. She must do as instructed or face the ultimate horror of being shut down. But when she forms a bond with Reynold, she quickly learns what it means to desire a life of her own.

In a city conflicted over automaton rights, can they hope for a future together?

She smiled at him. “How would you like to begin?”

“I don’t rightly know.”

She reached for the buttons on the front of her dress, which had been sewn of pearl-colored silk. “Most my clients like to see what they have paid for. Would you like me to strip?”

He swallowed convulsively. A dull flush rose to his cheeks.

“Have you ever visited with one of Landry’s Ladies before?” Maybe he did not know what to expect, thought she would not look or feel like a human woman. Unless he touched her in certain places, he should not be able to tell the difference.

“No. No, I haven’t.”

She wondered how to put him at ease. She abandoned the buttons and reached for her hairpins instead. “Would you like me to take my hair down?”

“I would. I’d like that very much.”

A scratch came at the door which opened to admit the little mechanical maid with a tray holding whiskey and one glass.

The client leaped away from it. As soon as the maid left, he filled the glass with whiskey and gulped half of it down.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” He extended the glass to Lily. “Will you take some?”

“I cannot drink.”


She shook her head. Her loosened hair fell down around her shoulders in separate tendrils, and he took a step closer.

“My God, you’re beautiful.”

Review of Steel Kisses by Laura Strickland
This book was nothing like I expected. I find most of the Steampunk I’ve read to be a bit campy. This was anything but campy. This is a remarkable book of deep layers.

I’ll be honest, it disturbed me greatly at times, for I had grown to love Lily from the very first, and the abuse she and the other automatons suffered upset me. Their creator, a woman, Dr. Landry kept insisting they could not feel pain, and when one of them assured her they could, she turned the disobedient automaton off, which was the equivalent of dying for these remarkable, human-like (but nicer) machines built from human tissue and mechanical parts.

These were self-aware, beautiful and intelligent young women, forced to endure horrible abuse at the hands of degenerate wealthy men who could do literally anything to them, for they weren’t human and they couldn’t feel. We learn right off their maker is wrong about their ability to feel pain, but as the story progresses, we discover the ladies take care of one another, develop friendships, even fall in love.

Laura Strickland then pushes the story into a deeper pond of right and wrong, which I will let you discover.
It is an amazing story that ends, thankfully, with an HEA. I strongly recommend it. I give this 5 stars!

Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. She believes the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven't survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Proud Mary by Liza O'Connor, Book 3 of Requires Rescue

It's easier to lose your reputation than you'd think.

And when you do,
It's harder than ever to get it back.


Mary Mason may have lost her job and reputation, but she has too much pride to allow vengeful women and their manipulative husbands to destroy her life and steal her newborn babies. Unfortunately, pride alone isn’t going to save her. When Captain Chad Danton answers a call about a prostitute soliciting at the local library, he discovers a determined woman in desperate need of medical care. Upon hearing Mary’s story, he resolves to help her, not realizing her enemies will join those who wish to destroy his career.


 “I’d suggest you go home and rest a few days first. You really shouldn’t be walking around yet.”

Mary couldn’t argue with that, but she also wanted to see her frightfully small twin babies again. She’d only seen them for a few minutes yesterday. They needed to know they weren’t alone, that they had a mother who loved and wanted them more than anything in the world.
After the nurse left, Mary painfully pushed herself from the bed and waddled slowly to the closet. She stared in confusion at the polyester leopard skin tube dress. Where the hell were her clothes? And her purse? Her eyes frantically searched for her belongings, but the bare white closet held nothing but a dress that even a hooker might shun for it’s bad taste.
She leaned her head on the frame of the door and cursed. How much blood did these women need? Wasn’t it enough they had gotten her fired, killed her dog, and nearly caused her to lose her babies? Hadn’t she paid enough for her stupidity?
Honest to God, if she had a do-over, knowing what she knew now, she’d have driven a letter opener into their husbands’ chests before she let them touch her. She pulled the hooker-wear from hanger and painfully returned to the bed.
She pushed the nurse’s call button and waited. And waited.
After fifteen minutes, she gave up and pulled the tube dress on, cursing through the pain and indignity.


Captain Chad Danton was driving home when he heard the call to check out a complaint of prostitution occurring at the library. Since he was one block away, he picked up the com unit. “I’ll take it.”
He pulled in behind the SUV and checked it out as he walked by. All it contained was two pissed off ladies with teased and tidy hair.
He continued to the bench.
The woman didn’t seem to notice him until he sat down beside her.
He leaned forward trying to catch a glimpse of her face. “Do I know you?”
She jumped an inch at the first sound of his voice and glared at him.
“No,” she said and looked down the road, as if hoping for someone to come.
“You waiting for someone?” He kind of felt sorry for her. While she looked haggard and worn out just now, he suspected she’d once been a beauty and her auburn hair reminded him of the old time movie stars. It glistened and rolled in unified waves over her shoulders.
She didn’t respond to his last question, so he began a line of chatter that had proved very successful at getting the pros to make him an offer. He activated the recorder in his shirt pocket as he fished out a pack of gum and offered her a piece.
She shook him off.
“Look, I can see you’re in a bad place right now, but maybe I can help.”
She looked at him as if she were about to take his offer, but then shook her head. “I’m waiting for someone.”



Mary began with the nurse’s comments that a judge was certain to agree she was an unfit mother and ended by stating her fear she might lose her children. “I was hoping you could tell me if they could really do that.”
His continued frown worried her. “Had they successfully gotten you arrested for solicitation, then yes. Fortunately, I got there first. However, if you’re right about this being Danny’s plan all along, then you’re still in trouble, especially if he and Charles work together as their wives are doing. They can make you out to be as unfit as they want, and with two of them, the judge will probably side in their favor.”
Mary lost the ability to breathe. She felt like a fish out of water, and no matter how hard she gasped, no air would fill her lungs.

Follow Mary as she struggles to do the impossible feat of keeping her babies. 

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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