Friday, June 23, 2017

Steel Kisses by Laura Strickland, A Buffalo Steampunk Advernture

STEEL KISSES
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.”


“No?”


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.



BLURB

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.


ONE GREAT WAY TO DESTROY A REPUTATION IS BY 
BAD CLOTHES

 “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.

GETTING ARRESTED FOR PROSTITUTION 
WOULD CAUSE MARY TO LOSE HER BABIES.
FOR THE FATHERS ARE WEALTHY, WELL RESPECTED MEN.


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.”

THANKFULLY, CAPTAIN DANTON REALIZED THAT MARY NEEDED MEDICAL CARE, NOT ARRESTED. 

SO HE RETURNED HER TO THE HOSPITAL
AND ENSURED SHE GOT TO SEE HER TWO PREMIES, SO INCREDIBLY SMALL...

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. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT
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Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Rancher and The City Girl by Joya Ryan

THE RANCHER AND THE CITY GIRL
Tempting the Rancher, book 1

by Joya Ryan
Genre: Contemporary Romance







Rancher and single father Reed Montgomery is a master at French braiding and princess tea parties. He’s also the most eligible bachelor in Cheyenne, Wyoming. So when he stumbles upon a flashy, sexy city girl, he knows two things: 1) she’s a walking disaster, and 2) he needs to stay far, far away.


But she needs him more than he wants to admit…


Charlotte Gram knows what it’s like not to be wanted. She’s in Cheyenne for the summer to help her grandmother heal after surgery, but the farmhouse “chores” are proving much harder than she thought. If her day couldn’t get any worse, the sexiest man she’s ever seen strolls up to save the day...
...and he definitely doesn’t seem happy about it.






“You are the worst car in this hellhole town and I swear—to—God…” Charlotte Gram kicked the driver-side tire of her rental car with her favorite stiletto. The dry summer air blew hot against her skin, and a small film of dust settled on her neck.


Gross.


Was dust a thing out here?


She was used to the Los Angeles smog and clutters of asshole people. She’d never thought she’d step foot in Wyoming. Ever. But this was the prairie state her grandmother had chosen to retire in, so that’s where Charlotte needed to be.


Wilma Gram had moved to Cheyenne five years ago when she’d inherited her family farm. Something about a great-uncle who had died and left it to her. Apparently Grammy took really well to the country life, because even at seventy-plus years old, she was thriving. Up until this summer, at least. She’d needed ankle surgery that would leave her in a cast.


With Charlotte the only one left who stayed in touch with Grammy, it was up to her to see the older woman through her recovery. Which meant several weeks of summer in this tiny town, working remotely from the house, and attempting to help Grammy run the farm and all the chores that went with it.


Not Charlotte’s specialty.


Still, a simple enough plan.


She could continue building websites, earn a living, and get back to her life in L.A. in no time. Besides, it wasn’t like her grandma had a massive farm operation…she didn’t think. Charlotte hadn’t gotten out to visit the great state of Wyoming since Grammy had settled in. Between building her career and surviving a string of bad relationships, Charlotte was happy just keeping her head above water and being the forever bachelorette.


Every time she got past date number three, she started to feel like the man she was with never wanted her in the first place. And it wasn’t just romantic relationships, either. Charlotte never seemed to fit anywhere or in anyone’s ideals. She wasn’t successful enough—yet—to be “accomplished,” and wasn’t creative enough to be “small-business hipster woman.” She was also too blunt to be ladylike, and too prudish to be a vixen. It wasn’t like she could help it. Her mother had done a shit job raising her, and her father bailed when she was young. She sure as hell hadn’t been able to count on anyone.


Basically, she’d spent her life in a constant state of unclassified and unwanted.


Commitment wasn’t something she was interested in chasing. Ever. Doing so would mean trusting someone to want her completely, preferably long term, which wasn’t likely. No, better to stick to her rules of no strings, no commitment, no family. Grammy was the only exception. No way would she have her own kids, no matter how many busybody women in Spin class told her that her eggs would dry up soon. She was only thirty, for Christ’s sake.


So yeah. She worked alone, lived alone…


…and would probably die alone.


It was kind of depressing, actually.


Charlotte blew a lock of dark hair out of her face and glanced around. The town was cute, at least. Downtown Cheyenne was basically sandwiched between an old-looking bank made of all brick and an antiques shop. There weren’t many people milling about, let alone the floods of people she was used to.


Everything felt still. Calm.


Claustrophobic.


She shuddered. “I bet this place doesn’t even have triple-A,” she said, eyeing her newest enemy, the rental car she knew nothing about that was making a pained, gasping sound. A soft rise of smoke billowed out from under the hood. Charlotte frowned. Day one and she couldn’t even get through this hillbilly town.


She kicked it again, letting another round of curses fly. She just needed this piece of crap rental to get to her grandma’s. It couldn’t be too much farther, could it? “Piece of shhii—”


“Excuse me, ma’am?” a husky voice rumbled behind her.


Charlotte stalled midkick and looked up to see a very tall, very strong, very cowboy man staring at her.


“It—shit—I mean, yes?” Her skin went hot, even though Mr. Cowboy was shadowing her in his capable frame. Could she possibly sound more like an idiot who didn’t know how to speak?


“I wonder if I could assist you?” he asked, pinching the tip of his Stetson and keeping those crystal blue eyes locked on her.


Mr. Cowboy was wearing a crisp white T-shirt that clung to chiseled abs and a broad, solid chest. The bits of dirty blond hair sticking out from under his hat matched the several-day-old stubble on his face.


She didn’t know if it was the jet lag or the altitude that made it difficult to swallow.


She looked down, her gaze devouring him like a life-size Snickers bar, repeating the mantra in her head when she hit his narrow hips…



Hungry? Why wait?


“Ma’am?” he asked again.


She snapped out of her ogling and grimaced when she realized her own mind and body had betrayed her. Sure, it had been a while since she’d had sex last, but she needed to get a grip. Wasn’t like she’d never seen a cowboy before. Because she had…in the movies.


“I apologize,” she said, harnessing all her assertive grace. “I’m a hot mess because of this car and I’m—”


“A city girl,” he finished for her with a smile, then effortlessly rounded the car and popped open the hood.


“You say ‘city girl’ like it’s a bad thing,” she responded.


That smile stayed on his face as he shook his head and looked over the engine.


“Not a bad thing. Cities can be fun. Lots of flash.” He glanced her way, only his eyes started at her feet and slowly slid up her legs. Her skirt felt tight against her thighs, her button-up top suddenly constricting. Or maybe Mr. Cowboy’s eyes were making her flush.

“Nothing flashy around here, it seems,” she said, breaking his gaze on her.


“That’s not true. This place puts on a hell of a rodeo show every summer.”


She laughed.


He blinked.


Oh, he was serious?


“That sounds like…something,” she said, trying to polite, but the way Mr. Cowboy bent over the engine and messed with God-knew-what under the hood made his tan arms flex and that shirt of his pull tight over his shoulders. Well-defined shoulders. Shoulders that could handle fingernail scratches…


She shook her head again and reasoned that she was hungry and just needed an actual Snickers bar. That was it.


“Looks like you’re overheating,” he said, and stood to face her.


Her eyes shot wide and she smoothed her hands down her skirt. “I’m perfectly fine,” she defended.  
He chuckled. “Nah, I mean your car. You’re low on coolant. I have some in my truck.” With that, he walked about fifty feet up the street to a massive truck and grabbed something out of the back. She thought she’d appreciated the front view of him? The back was even better. And those jeans? She didn’t know who designed Wranglers, but she was going to write that genius a letter because damn, they showcased Mr. Cowboy’s ass to perfection.


Maybe she could enjoy the sights of Wyoming just a little. She was set to be farm-locked for the summer. Maybe she had time to take advantage of the town before all the work and caretaking started?


Cowboy walked back to her with a jug of what she assumed was coolant in his hand and went back under the hood.


“Tough way for a lady to meet Cheyenne,” Cowboy said, focusing on the pouring he was doing.


“I must admit, this first experience could skew my judgment of Cheyenne from here on out.”


“Aw well, I hope you can leave with only a positive view of things,” he said, standing and brushing off his hands.


Positive view, indeed.


“Start her up and see if that helped,” he instructed.


She got in the car, and with the driver-side door open, he stood at the hood and she yelled, “Okay, going to start it up now…”


She did.


It did.


“You’re amazing,” she let slip out before she could think better of it. When she got out, she caught him smiling.


“No ma’am, just helping a woman in need.”


Speaking of a woman in need… 


“I’d love to buy you a drink to repay you,” she said.


“No, ma’am,” he said quickly, and her internal balloon deflated. But he leaned against the car and grinned. “I’d love to buy you a drink and show you a kinder side of Cheyenne. No repayment necessary.”


Her entire chest lit up with happy sparks, and she tried not to dance like a tween goof at the thought of a date with Cowboy. Apparently she had a thing for country boys, because she hadn’t been this attracted to a guy in a long time.


“When?” she asked.


He smiled and tilted his chin toward the bar on the corner, just a block down from where they stood. “The Cadillac Bar right there has live music tonight. You free around eight?”


“I’ll meet you there,” she said.


He pinched the brim of his hat again. “Pleasure meeting you…?”


“Charlotte,” she said.


“Tripp.”


Of course his name was Tripp. A man like him would never be a Blain or an Andrew. No, he was Tripp. Rustic, a little dirty, and all kinds of perfectly wrong for her. But perfectly right for a minimalist situation. She didn’t have to worry about long term or her heart with this man; she had to worry about her panties.


She had a sneaking suspicion they wouldn’t survive.







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National and International Bestselling Author. Break Me Slowly: #1 Bestselling book in Contemporary Fiction and Women's Fiction!