Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Last Orders by Laura Strickland

LAST ORDERS
A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure

by Laura Strickland

Genre: Steampunk Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press




Buffalo Police Sergeant Brendan Fagan, investigating a series of grisly murders spurred by clashes between humans and automatons, only wants to save his city. The last thing he needs in his life is a rule-bending, steam-cannon-toting, unpredictable female like Ginny Landry, a woman who could possibly bring down his career and the one woman he quite likely can't resist.

Ginny means to settle the estate of her mother, an infamous madam, quickly and get out of town. She has no intention of becoming involved with any part of her inheritance or falling for Brendan. In fact, she makes it a point never to date handsome men. But when her rash behavior brings them together, the attraction can’t be denied.

And when the city erupts in chaos, forcing her to choose a moral side, can she deny what’s in her heart?





“Line ’em up again,” the woman cried in a husky voice.

“They’re already lined up, miss!”

She shut one eye. “So they are. Stand back and let me at ’em.”

“She hasn’t missed yet.” The man standing next to Brendan informed him, and then promptly did a double take before yelping, “Hold up! The coppers are here.”

“To hell with ’em!” the woman cried and opened fire. The empties along the wall exploded in an even line, and the room blossomed with heat and steam.

Brendan, mouth ajar, watched in horrified amazement as the explosions continued—at least until the cannon needed to recharge.

“Wall’s on fire!” somebody stated. One of the barmen ran forward and slapped out the flames with his cloth.

“Saints preserve us,” Dennis breathed.

It would take more than saints. Brendan, gathering himself, marched forward and glared up at the woman.

“Get down off that bar.”

She focused on him—a bit blearily, but she focused. She seemed to contemplate his face, his hair, and his uniform before she sneered. “Says who?”

She accompanied the last word with a lean that allowed him a good view of her bodice, most of its buttons undone. Sweet mother Mary, full of grace.

“Buffalo police,” he declared himself, proud to hear he sounded steady as a rock. “Cease and desist. And while you’re about it, you can hand over the steam cannon.”

The crowd booed. The woman looked around at them and waved her hand. “Go away, Officer. You’re spoiling the entertainment.”

“This is not entertainment. It’s sheer stupidity. There are ordinances prohibiting the discharge of a steam cannon indoors.”

“And aren’t you the dull fellow to remind us of those ord-ord-ordinances?” She smiled the kind of smile the devil might. “How about if I blow out that wall? Then we won’t be indoors, will we?”

“We will. At least,” he allowed, “three-quarters. Miss, you’re drunk and shouldn’t have possession of a weapon. Hand it over, please.”

“Isn’t he polite?” She appealed to the bar at large, while Brendan’s temper rose. He didn’t lose it often but felt damned close now.

The other patrons hooted some more and stamped their feet.

Brendan called to his fellow officer. “Dennis, let’s get her down.”

Both of them tall men, each reached for one of the woman’s arms, intending to swing her down from the bar. As soon as they touched her, though, she began to holler.

“Fred! Where are you, Fred?”

A fellow stepped forward. Squat and red-faced, he appeared at least as drunk as the woman. He balled up his fists. “Leave go of her now.”

Ignoring him, Brendan grunted as he and Dennis swung their charge down, him all too aware she still had the now-recharged cannon in her hand.

He set her squarely on the floor, took a half step back, and held out his hand. “Give me the weapon.”

“No one takes this cannon from me.”

“Hand it over, miss, unless you wish to be arrested.”


Just when I think Laura Stricklands Steampunk Adventures couldn’t get any better, she releases Last Orders which had me reading straight through until the very end.
This is a fabulous story! I don’t remember ever having so much fun.

And I loved the hero, Brendon, and absolutely adored the heroine, Ginny. She is a firecracker! When she first meets Brendon, she wants nothing to do with him because he’s good-looking and she only has sex with ugly guys.  There’s a reason, but I leave it for you to discover.

There is one segment in which I cried: when one of the automatons of high quality and vital to all automatons gets seriously injured. I bawled like a baby.

And I’m sorry to say that many of the sentient automatons die for the right to be sentient and while the door to freedoms and rights has yet to be achieved, there is a door open...perhaps. I’ll have to wait until the next book, to see how that goes. Politics often go askew.

I love the way Strickland details the automatons' feelings:  the wants of the automatons to be treated the same as humans, with the right to love and marry and have children (through adoption); the desire not to be owned and treated like slaves, but rather employed and treated with dignity. Strickland has clearly given a great deal of thought, making the scenes most realistic.

I don’t think a book can get much better than this one.  It was exceptional!







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.


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Monday, May 28, 2018

Celebrity Status by Angela Scavone

CELEBRITY STATUS
by Angela Scavone

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Pearman Literary Publishing






Famous Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Stanfield, has a glamorous lifestyle with a lavish house, glittery parties, a people magazine's fifty most beautiful people fiance and best friend Billy Stone - Famous actor, producer and secret organized crime enforcer.


Everything is not as it seems...Elizabeth's fiance cheats on her, a studio head and director are hell bent on making her life miserable and it gets harder to keep her secrets protected.


The only good thing in her life is Billy, their budding romance, and connections that give them freedom to do whatever they want in Hollywood.


Will their connections be enough to keep their secrets hidden and Celebrity Status safe or are they doomed to be torn down?





I had my driver take me back to the hotel. I went straight to the restaurant inside the lobby and ordered spaghetti with meatballs.


“Where’s your boyfriend?” Sonny asked as he sat down next to me.


“Miami.”


“Not that boyfriend,” Benny Micheletti said as he sat on the other side of me.
“Billy is at a meeting, what do you two want?” I asked, in a snarky tone. I was exhausted from the tension on the set and all I wanted to do was wait for my meal in silence.


“We need to speak to Billy and thought you would know where he is,” Sonny said.


“Like you talked to him the night before the hit on Trassari?”


Both men stared at me without saying a word.


“Leave him out of shit like that,” I demanded.


“Mind your own business,” Sonny threatened.


The waitress came over with my meal. I ignored Sonny’s threat and dove into my meal.


“Is there anything else I can help you guys with?” I asked. “If not, I’d like to eat in peace.”


“Hard day on set?” Benny asked as he went to take a meatball off my plate of spaghetti.


I smacked him hard on the hand with my fork.


“Ow,” he yelled.


“All those meatballs are spoken for, get your own, and yes every day is a hard day on set with Antonio Suarez.”


“Need us to take care of anything?” Sonny asked, becoming serious.


“No, but thank you for the offer.” I sarcastically answered.


“Well isn’t this rich.” Elena materialized at the table. “I came to drag you back to the set and here you are with your friends.” She practically spit out the word friends.


“Who is this stunning vision of beauty?” Sonny stood up from the table, taking Elena’s hand in his and kissing it.


I gagged on a mouthful of food.


“I’m the studio head in charge of the film Elizabeth is supposed to be working on right now.” She blushed as he kissed her hand again.


“Well, Bella, you are quite the sight,” Sonny continued to fawn. “But I’ve never heard of a studio head on set.”


“Unfortunately, the director is having a hell of a time with his lead actress.” She glared at me. “So, I have to stick around and babysit.”


“Do you mean Elizabeth?” Sonny asked, as if he was truly concerned.


“Yes, Elizabeth and the director, Antonio, don’t get along.” Elena answered, in a softer tone, no doubt falling for Sonny’s charm.


“Perhaps, Bella, then you need a new director because Elizabeth here is the best in the business.”


Elena ripped her hand out of his grip as I gave her a smug smile with a mouthful of food.


“Yeah, Elena, why don’t we get a new director?” I asked sarcastically.


“My brother Benny and I could help with that if you want?” Sonny propositioned Elena.


She blanched at his words.


“Sonny,” I blurted out. “Seriously?” I couldn’t believe he had offered his services.


“The offer is on the table. Let’s go, Benny.” 


“Sorry about that, they’re idiots,” I apologized to Elena after the two men had left.


“Yet you were having lunch with that sort of people. I should’ve known.” 


I glared at her in response.


“I expect you back on the set in thirty minutes,” she demanded as she haughtily turned and walked out of the restaurant.



Angela lives in Ontario, Canada sharing her home with her father and her two much-loved pups. She currently works for the Board of Education behind the scenes supporting and analyzing student data, however, in her spare time, apart from her avid love of storytelling, she likes to read, spend time with family and friends and concoct dairy free recipes from scratch. Sometimes she wins some, and sometimes she loses some – tofu, banana and peanut butter pudding we are looking at you.


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Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Troublesome Apprentice has free books to give away


3 Ebooks of Liza O'Connor's beloved
THE TROUBLESOME APPRENTICE
to be won
During the Humor eBook Giveaway!

Win 27+ Humor eBooks AND gain access to the AXP Book Fair featuring FREE and 99c Books!



Note the faint image of a dead woman that Xavier appears to be inspecting. That is Vic's beloved aunt whom she loved very much. Now Vic is willing to risk the discovery of her gender to find out who murdered her aunt and why.


***

Fully dressed, Vic laid down on her bed. She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but her sister’s parting words haunted her. What if Xavier Thorn did uncover her secret?

Aunt Maddy had allowed her to ‘become a boy’ when she and Claire arrived in England, orphans in need of a home. Victor’s initial reason to change her gender had been because she never wished to wear a dress after seeing her mother drowned at sea, pulled to the bottom of the ocean by her heavy skirts. However, her new life soon became the only one she could imagine.

As a male, she could travel about town on her own, attend lectures closed to Maddy and Claire, and ride astride spirited stallions. As a young man, she could do anything, learn anything, and be anything. As a gentleman, she had endless opportunities. How could she ever go back to being a girl? The idea was unthinkable.

When Victor first attended Oxford, she had been terrified someone would notice differences and guess her secret, but a great many studious young men at the college had no interest in young ladies and drink. She fit in perfectly with them.

She no longer worried about people seeing through her disguise. For all practical purposes, she was a young man of twenty-two. She had no ‘tells’ to give her away. Her small breasts were crushed flat by the muslin undergarment that also thickened her waist, giving her a straighter masculine line. A modestly stuffed muslin roll attached to the bottom of the garment filled in the crotch of her pants.

No, after ten years of being a male, she was confident her secret would remain secure, even under the scrutiny of the renowned Xavier Thorn.






Want more Trouble?

At ten o’clock Vic received a not-so-gentle shake. “I’m awake,” she snapped in sleepy annoyance.
 “Then get up,” Xavier ordered. He frowned at her clothes. “Well, you are a rumpled mess, but I give you points for speed.”
Xavier turned and left the room. He barked off orders, never once verifying Vic actually followed. When they reached Aunt Maddy’s bedroom, he stopped and stared at her.
“Is everything clear? From the moment we enter this room, there will be no more communication until either daylight or the murderer arrives. So, if you have a question, ask it now.”
“Should we not have guns? The man will be armed.”
“And what makes you think that?”
“He could not even climb in a window without assistance. He’ll not be depending on his physical prowess to get him out of trouble. I imagine he carries a gun wherever he goes, but he will certainly have one on him tonight.”
Vic decided Claire needed her eyes examined. Xavier was exceptionally handsome when he smiled.
“I also always carry a gun. What does that say about me, I wonder?” His right eyebrow rose in a teasing challenge.
“Given your occupation, you are constantly in dodgy situations. It is very rational for you to carry one. I should have a weapon as well.”
“Do you currently possess a firearm?”
“No,” Vic admitted.
“Have you ever fired a pistol?”
“No, but it hardly seems difficult. All one must do is point and pull.”
“Nonetheless, you will not carry a weapon until I have taught you how to shoot. Tonight, you must play a supporting role and allow me to subdue the criminal.”
“But he killed my—” Vic stopped objecting when Xavier’s jaw tighten. “Yes, sir,” she grumbled.
“Heed my words, Victor, for if you disobey me tonight, I will torture you each day forthwith and you will never be allowed to accompany me on another mission.”
His dark eyes narrowed as he studied her, evidently trying to determine if she intended to obey his orders. “Consider it a test of your ability to follow my instructions and do not dare fail.”
“I won’t.” Vic ensured her response sounded less surly and sincere in tone.
Xavier placed his hand on her back. “Good lad. Now, if Inspector Stone received my note, his men are probably watching the exterior of your house. When this manwe’ll use the name you gave himMr. GewGaw arrives, they will no doubt insist upon sneaking up the stairs to stand ready outside the door. I’ve forewarned your impudent butler, lest we have a commotion. However, the key reason I mention this, Victor, is to warn you to remain in the closet. If Inspector Stone burst into the room, he might mistake you for the murderer. You will thus remain hidden until I retrieve you. Do you understand?”
With a sigh, Vic nodded her head.
“Good. Now not another word or you will find yourself in hell.”
She wanted to say threats were not necessary but feared her protest might toss her into the promised hell since he had said ‘not another word’.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Demon King's Desire by J.L. Sheppard

DEMON KING'S DESIRE
Elemental Sisters Series#1

by J.L. Sheppard


Genre: Paranormal Fantasy Romance






Jenna Jenson’s spent her life wondering why she’s different. The only people who may help her find out have been lost to her since their mother’s death. When she’s attacked by a man whose supernatural abilities supersede her own, she’s rescued by the devastatingly handsome demon king, Lucas Thaler. While she’s inexplicably drawn to him, powers she never knew she possessed are unleashed, leading her to discover she’s part of a new breed of immortals who can either save or destroy life.


After a war in his demon plane and home, Lucas has dedicated his life to battling Malum Inmortalis, rogue immortals whose sole purpose is to rule immortals and mortals alike. As fate would have it, the hunt for these vile creatures leads him to her. Instantly, he recognizes her. She’s the woman he’s been waiting for, for centuries, the woman he’s been dreaming of for centuries—his fated mate.








Lucas climbed the series of steps and knocked on his bedroom door.

“Come in.”

He opened the door. His gaze landed on her, sitting on the bed, a towel wrapped around her. Clenching his jaw, he turned and dropped the bag he held in his grip on the floor. Then he closed his eyes hoping to wipe away the image of her in a towel. No use, it’d been seared in his mind since the night before.

“I’m sorry. I thought I heard you say come in.”

“I did.”

Fisting his hands, he forced his voice to remain calm. “You’re in a towel.”

“What is it with you guys and towels? It’s not like I’m naked.”

“No, you aren’t, but Jenna, do you realize the effect you have on men?”

For a moment, he heard nothing, not even her breaths. Then she stood and neared. “Excuse me.”

Damn it. Maybe he shouldn’t have said it. Granted, if she didn’t know, she should. Maybe then, she would mind men seeing her in a towel. He hated the thought of anyone looking at her, at what was his. It was irrational, he knew, but he couldn’t help how he felt.

“Lucas, turn around.”

He did as told but kept his stare level, above her head.

“Now look at me.”

He angled his head, stared into her eyes, and admired the dark-brown hue. Then because he couldn’t help himself, he lifted his hand and trailed it along the side of her face. He’d never felt anything so soft, silky. He shouldn’t have expected anything less. She was all beauty, the way she looked, walked, talked, even moved, and she deserved better than him, a demon, a monster.

“You’re so beautiful, Jenna. Any man would give his life to touch you once, just like this.”

Her breaths coming out in small gasps, she whispered, “I feel it. I hadn’t noticed it before, but I feel it now.”

Cupping her cheeks, he leaned into her so her mouth was millimeters from his. “What do you feel?” He asked even knowing she felt what he did because around her, it was hard to keep his emotions in check.

“What you’re feeling… I think it’s awe.”

He couldn’t help himself then either. Gaze scanning her face, he leaned down and claimed her lips. When he parted his mouth, she parted hers. Then he slid his tongue inside, and she did the same, kissing him as softly as desperately.

Without losing hold of her mouth, he hooked an arm around her waist, tugged her toward him, and lifted her off her feet. Instantly, she wrapped her legs around him inching her towel higher. Her core’s warmth on his stomach, he groaned.

Take her. Claim her. Mark her. His demon, his instincts demanding what belonged to him. He fought them, fought to keep control.

He hadn’t told her she belonged to him, hadn’t told her what it meant, so he didn’t have a choice.
Using all the willpower he had, he pressed his forehead against hers, tore his mouth away, set her on her feet, and strode away.


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J.L. Sheppard was born and raised in South Florida where she still lives with her husband and son.


As a child, her greatest aspiration was to become a writer. She read often, kept a journal, and wrote countless poems. She attended Florida International University and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelors in Communications. During her senior year, she interned at NBC Miami, WTVJ. Following the internship, she was hired and worked in the News Department for three years.


It wasn’t until 2011 that she set her heart and mind into writing her first completed novel, Demon King’s Desire, which was published in January of 2013.




Friday, May 18, 2018

MISSING AND PRESUMED DEAD by Cherime MacFarlane

MISSING AND PRESUMED DEAD
A Chandler County novel

by Cherime MacFarlane


Genre: Contemporary Sweet Romance






Grant remembered waking in a hospital bed with Crystal's hand on his forehead. And no matter how hard he begged, the girl said she must leave. She needed to get away from her father and couldn't stay with his family due to the generations-long feud. Crystal joined the Army. So did he. Then he came home, ran for sheriff and won.


The first thing he did when in office was open the file labeled Missing and Presumed Dead. No one had seen or heard from the mother of the Dane children in years. Did her husband kill her as Royce Dane said? If not, how did she disappear without a trace? But things take an odd twist when he discovers his mother's involvement.


Crystal likes everything about the man Grant is. But she isn't cut out for mixing in the upper echelon of Chandler County society. Her brother needs to know what happened to their mother, Crystal isn't so sure she cares. If her mother walked away from her children, Crystal doesn't need her now.




Crystal let the other passengers leave ahead of her. She needed a little time to psych herself up into getting off the plane. She wanted to see Gentry and meet the man who trundled her off to Alaska without a by-your-leave. But she didn't think Gentry would appreciate it if she busted his nose for him at first sight.


The line cleared out and only the crew remained. Time to get it over with. The whole thing bothered her. Without the structure of the Army to keep her on the straight and narrow, Crystal wondered how she would make it in the civvy world.

She pulled the O.D. green duffel out of the bin and followed the last of the passengers. The pilot said the weather was clear and a comfortable 43 degrees. A small snort followed that thought.

Comfortable for who? Dudes wrapped in two layers of down parkas? What did the man consider uncomfortable? No! Scratch that. A minus something probably, maybe in the low thirties.

With a sigh, she entered the long covered walkway leading to the interior of the terminal. She got a good look at the whole thing before they landed. The entire complex, runways and all would fit in the back corner of Atlanta's Hartsfield–Jackson airport without any fuss.

She followed the signs for the baggage claim area. Not that she had any baggage. Gentry said once she got past security, they would find her.

As soon as she got Gentry to herself, it would be time to spill the beans. Well, perhaps not all of it. The kid didn't need to know she set fire to the barn in a fit of rage. That would stay her secret.

Without the anonymity of her uniform, Crystal felt naked. Why in the hell did she let Royce and Uncle Thad talk her out of re-upping? She hadn't been drunk and just didn't get it.

Liar! Her mind screamed. She knew why. The phone call with Grant played all over again in her head. It was the part about her having a tight ass. She caught the warmth in his tone and figured he had to be smiling when he made the comment.

It was amazing how all airports had the same general layout. Ahead of her a large bank of windows stood on the other side of steps and escalators. Lots of people stood to the side as they waited for passengers to leave the secured area.

"Crystal! Hun!" That was all the warning she got before her baby sister slammed into her with arms wide.

The duffel hit the floor and Crystal wrapped both arms around the kid. With his hands stuffed in the pocket of his jeans, a guy with dark hair and equally dark eyes watched Gentry hug her.

Russ. That was the husband's name. The dude could play poker with the best of them. Crystal couldn't tell anything from a quick glance at his expression.

But her sister felt different. She must have put on about ten or fifteen pounds. Was she pregnant? Crystal sure hoped the hell not. Gentry was just a baby yet. She needed time to figure out who she was since getting out from under Augie's thumb.

Gentry turned to the guy with a smile on her face. "Russ, come and meet my sister."

When he walked forward and held out a hand, Crystal thought she caught sight of a wary expression in his dark eyes. Then he closed up tighter than hell.

That's okay, Alaska. I'm not sure I like your ass either. But for Gentry's sake, she planned to keep it all screwed in tight. The girl looked happy enough. If Gentry loved the little shit and didn't want to leave, so be it.

There would be other visits. If things didn't work out, they would all have a home at the Reynolds place. And that was the other reason she let them talk her out of enlisting again. Sheila. If Royce didn't get some kind of closure on the thing with their mother, the kid might lose what marbles he had left.

For now, she had a week to assess how Gentry was making out up here. The other two guys in Chandler County would want a full report on her findings. But it wouldn't do to alienate the husband right off.

Crystal shook his hand. She made the pressure just firm enough, but not like a wuss. She would treat him like a fresh out of school junior officer. Crystal could do that in her sleep.

She settled in the seat behind Russ. Gentry crawled into the extended cab with her. They had a few miles to go before they reached Homer. Then would come a boat ride to Seldovia. Crystal shook her head. It was a damn good thing she slept on the plane.

Gentry grabbed her hand and squeezed. "I'm so glad to see you. But why did you leave the service?"

With a grin, Crystal chucked her under the chin. "Royce, Uncle Thad and I are planning to make the old man and Johnny's life hell. And it's been a long time coming."




I came to Alaska kicking and screaming in 1976, and I never want to leave. I cut firewood on shares for money to get through the winter. I swore I would not live above the Alaska Range because it was too cold there and wound up in the Copper River Basin where it got just a cold as Fairbanks.

My second husband, a Scot from Glasgow, was the love of my life. When I write Scots dialect, I experienced hearing it from my in-laws. Each time my husband got on the phone to Scotland after five seconds, I could hardly understand a word. I was my second husband's chief mechanic's helper and roadie.

I live in a cabin which is slowly being surrounded by the city and wish I were farther out. My cat and Husky-Collie mix dog are happy in our little slice of heaven called Alaska. In the silence of winter dreams of people and places provide a rich pool of ideas to explore.

As a reporter for the Copper Valley Views, Cherime MacFarlane received a letter of commendation from the Copper River Native Association for fair and balanced reporting.

Other Awards: Finalist in McGrath Book Awards 2017, Amazon Best Selling in Anthologies-twice and Hardest Working Author Award from Author Classified.


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