Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Sunday Salon – The month end on a weekend

 

 

It’s the beginning of another week and I am excited as always when Sunday comes around. It’s the day that I have a few extra hours in bed and luckily for me the clocks go back an hour here in the UK this morning – so that’s an extra hour on top of the few that I normally spend in bed on a Sunday morning.

It’s also the month end and other than the obligatory bills that must be paid – it’s the time of the month that my calendar on my email and my phone goes crazy with alerts.

It’s the last day to enter the October Giveaway – This closes at midnight my time. November contest will be posted on Tuesday as I have a heavy post day on Monday.

It’s also the time when all my templates gets sorted to go up for the first, like challenges so so forth…

One thing I do look forward to is trying to watch all the cartoons that I have recorded for the past few weeks within a few hours. I love cartoons especially the old ones like Scooby Doo and Scrappy, X-men and Thunder Cats..

Some new ones that I am slowly becoming addicted to are Ben 10 and Phineas and Ferb (They have the greatest songs in this one)…

When was the time you guys watch some cartoons…

On the reading front..

I am still trying to tackle that pile of books on the floor, as well as giving books away like crazy… it’s coming up to the end of the year and anything I have had since the last 24 month I am either swapping with friends or giving away.

I can’t go on forever promising I will read them – I know I wont in most cases…

Looks out for some of these books in the giveaway -  November and December giveaway will be a bumper pack of books.

On the home front.

The boys go back to school tomorrow and it couldn’t come quick enough for me. I think teenagers are a part of a cult – I have been making note on some of their habits this week.

Sleep through the daylight hours

Feels uncomfortable without something electronic in their hand or attached to their ears

Feels comfortable with the fire hazard of an extension with a million chargers coming out of it

Suddenly feels the need to pile as much dirty cloths as their rooms can hold in it.

The swagger and the attitude is more here than there..

Feels like they have to have the last word

Picky eaters – but eats like a horse…

You can just imagine that my one week with them off from school has not been all sunshine and light. To top it off it was their birthday this week and I don’t think one of them as moved from before Halo Reach in about two days…

**big sigh*** Please lord let me survive the next couple of hours…. before they go off to school.

On The Blog Front

I had my mom brainstorm some name for me for the new feature and she came up with about five and I am liking “With These Words” alot and it just clicks with the vibes I want to introduce to the feature.

That kicks off tomorrow and I am so looking forward to sharing these new authors with you for the next couple of month…  Make sure you join me tomorrow to welcome these new authors to the industry..

 

Just something weird to share with you….

This gives new meaning to the phrase “sex with a bite”

 

Until next week – cheers


From  site –

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.

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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Weekly Geeks - The books you waited too long to read

This week I asked the weekly Geekers:

As readers we all have our own way of deciding how fast or how slow we add books to our TBR pile and how fast we get through them.

We make list of books, we get recommendations, we drool over the cover art or just hang around in the book section reading excerpt all under the guise of making a decision about what we will delve into next.

If you are like me YOU WILL HAVE A TBR PILE, no if, and or but about it. My print pile is just about everywhere and my ebooks are taking up too much space on my hard drive.

That said…

Once in a while I read a book I have had for years and I think “How the hell did I miss this one?  “Why did I not read this one before?

Is there a book that has hang around your reading pile for far too long before you got to it, A book that probably got packed away until you accidentally got to it, a book that you read a few pages in and never got back to?.

If so share or ask your readers about that book that really made an impression on them (good or bad) after having it or hearing about it for far too long?

My thoughts

Recently I have been really getting into some of my older books and a few of them have actually had me wondering why the hell I waited so long to open the front covers.

I mostly blame it on too much book too little time syndrome as well as the mood reading bug that hits me every now and again. I also blame trying to keep up with the Jones and reading books as they are pimped to me and I forget about books that might have just drop  through the mailbox or just taking up space on the hard drive..

Two books I regretted not reading years ago are

Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare

I can hear the gasp of breath you are all taking, I really didn’t read this book until about 6 months ago. It was on my reader list in high school but I was one of those kids who went out of my way and read everything else but the classics and thank god  I made it through my literature exams.

I love the sonnets and Macbeth for some stranger reason – but I was a stick in the mud about anymore of Shakespeare’s work.

Now that I have read it - I love this book and I am sad I never read it years ago – but on the other hand I don’t think I would  have appreciated it as much as I do now if I had read it years ago.…

An Officer and a Gentleman – Rachel Lee

Rachel Lee is one of my favourite authors (Conard County Series), no one does small town murder mystery and small town high jinx like her. I have all her books in print and have gone through most of them. I am not sure why I dragged my feet on reading this – I know it was probably because I am a die hard fan of the movie of the same name and I don’t think I could help but compare the book and the movie  (which are no relation – but my mind is an odd place)

I read it earlier this year and it rocked…. Definately a book worth reading…

The book was released by E-harlequin with a new cover a little while back, but my original copy was just the right book for me.

I know you guys all have massive TBR piles, anything jumped out at you recently. Even if it was a book that was raved about but you just thought it was mehh…

or a book that totally made you ask  “Why the hell did I not read this before?

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Friday, 29 October 2010

Review - The Vanguards: Book One & Two © Annie Nicholas

The Omegas

Author: Annie Nicholas

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Genre: Paranormal

Buy link

Only a vampire is man enough to teach werewolves how to fight.

Pretty librarian Sugar wants her life to stay quiet. That’s hard enough when friends and neighbors turn into furry wolves every full moon. But when a hot vampire gets involved, life’s bound to get complicated.

The Omega have always been the pansies of the paranormal. Now Chicago’s top werewolf pack has issued them a life or death challenge. Their only option: hire a vampire warrior to teach them the moves.

Daedalus has been a powerful vampire for ages. Intrigued by the chance to train the geeks of the underworld, he wasn’t bargaining on losing his heart to a human. Can he make the Omegas a success, fit into Sugar’s quiet life, and avoid being ripped to shreds in the process?

My Thoughts

When an ultimatum is sent to a bunch of were outcast by the local wolf pack alpha, they have no idea what to do. Why, because they are not fighters, they are not aggressors in general they are not even confident if truth be told – they need help.

With very little option left to them, they hire Daedalus – a powerful vamp to train them up in time to take on what ever is coming their way.

In the midst of this little pack power struggle is Sugar, Sugar is a human who just happen to be friends with a pack of werevolves and now it seems a vamp. Sugar is  where she wants to be and the only thing that causes a bump in her day is worrying for her friends and the attraction that Daedalus seem to have for her. 

With an alpha type vamp who has seen too much and bemoans all that has been forgotten now in residence – both the Omegas and Sugar soon start to feel like running away might have been a more suitable option than to stay and learn to fight. Daedalus however never loses and he has plans to make The Omegas ready for the fight of their lives.

I love reading book where an author mixes up the paranormal species and right from a few pages into THE OMEGAS I was invested in the battle between The Omegas and the local pack alpha as well as their struggle to find a place for themselves on their own terms..

The cast that Ms Nicholas put together was a nice bunch, with their varied personality and unknown stories – it made for a  fast read and I am hoping that each of these set of people end up getting a story for themselves eventually.

While the core of the book is actually about the training that Daedalus put The Omega through a sweet romance developed between Sugar and Daedalus and it was really cute to watch dominant Daedalus skirt around Sugar while still trying to play the bad guy to the outcast. Sugar was no sweet thing as her name might suggest – she gave as good as she got and I had to grin at some of the antics they got up to.

I do like the plotline and I am hoping that with another book Ms Nicholas delve a bit more into this world that the omegas are striving to carve a place for themselves into.   

THE OMEGA book is a first book in a series and a short read at that and as such most of the small stuff kinda slotted itself right within a few page –  the big stuff still needs to be  resolved and  I am off  to read book two.

The Alpha

Author: Annie Nicholas

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Genre: Paranormal

Buy link

Someone is about to get some Spice in his life.

Spice has nothing but the clothes on her back when she returns to Chicago. She's looking for a better life, and that means reuniting with her estranged twin sister, Sugar. She isn't thrilled to find out Sugar's boyfriend is a vampire. But then she meets Eric, once the bottle-cap-glasses wearing nerd next door - now grown into the kind of man she'd love to snuggle with on this cold winter night...and he’s offered her his room in Sugar’s house.

Eric can’t believe Spice has returned. He’d given up hope of ever seeing her again, let alone having her stare at him as if he’s sex on a stick. But now that all of his fantasies for them are coming true, reality rears her ugly head and Eric must tell Spice his intimate secret; he’s actually an Alpha werewolf looking for his mate and he thinks he’s found her.

My Thoughts

As I was intrigued to know what happened to the Omega’s I quickly went on to the next book in the Vanguard series – THE ALPHA. Erica is learning to deal with all the new responsibilities that have been thrust upon him as well as learning about the old ways of the were and the vamps. If that was not enough his childhood crush has just turned up at the front door and she is looking mighty fine..

Spice is at the end of the line, she wants something more out of life and her last port of call to make this happen is her sister -  Sugar. With nothing to lose and her last dollar spent she knocks on Sugar’s door only to find a house full of strangers and even stranger still a now grown up Eric who looks nothing like she imagined he would.

Not believing in a soft touch, she wades right into the houseful of stranger and make herself at home. She has a few surprises to come however for as much as the people she left behind still care for her they have all changed and some are a whole new specie.

Eric has always loved Spice but with time and now new responsibilities he is at a crossroad about how to deal with a pack full of females nipping at his heels and a now grown up Spice who still ring all his bells.

THE ALPHA is such a quick read but has so much packed in. The outcast are no longer babies they are growing and gaining confidence day by day – but it is a struggle and not everything comes easy or without a fight.

Book two while just about the same length as book one veers more towards what happens after “the fight”. The whole team is back and from a few pages in I could see that they are not the same, they are definitely more together and I could see their individual personalities in everything they say or do.

Because so much is packed into these 65 pages not everything worked for me, I really wanted to know more about the werewolf world. The old customs that are the bone of contention and definitely I would have loved to have gotten more scenes with the other members of the household. Hopefully there will be another book that will address some of these niggles that I had with this book.

One again Ms. Nicholas added a romance of sorts to the story line but it was not the focus of this book – Eric is sweet and I can’t imagine any reader not liking him or admire him at the least for how far he has come. Spice on the other hand I didn’t really care for and only because I didn’t get the chance to know her. This was mainly down to the fact that by the time she was introduced into the book she was with Eric soon after.

Daedalus the vamp was really the highlight of this book for me – I love a strong man who not only knows his strength but also knows when to have a laugh. I loved how the author gave insight into the mentor, trainee relationship between Erica and Daedalus – Nice touch I thought.

All in all not a bad series so far. I am not sure if there will be a third book, but I do hope so as I would love to know more about the other outcast and some of their back history as well as I find I like this author style alot..   

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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Excerpt Day - Black Cat Ink © Nicole Kimberling

Excerpt

Peter Fontaine did not spend the majority of his free time in alleys. However, readers of the Hamster, Bellingham, Washington’s most independent weekly newspaper, could be forgiven for thinking that lurking near Dumpsters was his primary hobby. His most famous piece of investigative reporting -- coverage of the murder of Shelley Vine three years prior -- had been an exercise in extensive alley dwelling.

 

And not nice alleys, either. Wet, unevenly paved downtown alleys filled with urine, drunken college students, and angry, misguided skunks.

 

By comparison the alleys five miles east, near scenic Whatcom Falls Park, were like country lanes. Oak and maple branches, leafed in autumn gold and red, hung over the gravel lane. Well-maintained garbage cans dotted the wayside. Here and there a rusty old engine or push lawn mower lay subsumed by rose brambles and convolvulus and dewy spider webs. The only smell of decay was the faint scent of fermentation from a dozen or so fallen apples.

 

And there were skunks here as well, but they seemed an altogether nicer variety of Mephitis happy to give Peter a brief nod and go on their way, leaving him to stalk the alley in peace.

 

It was six o’clock in the morning, and the sun had yet to fully illuminate the gray October fog. Faint drizzle fell, covering the foliage with a sheen of moisture. There was just enough light for Peter to see into the backyards of the houses he passed. He glanced to the left, then to the right, walking his bike crookedly, trying his best to impersonate a student returning from an epic night of drinking -- all the while searching for a small granite statue.

 

He saw trampolines, beehives, chicken coops, tents, and swing sets -- both decrepit and new -- gardens and the unmistakable purple light from grow lamps seeping from one basement window. But he did not see anything that resembled the sculpture that had been stolen from the Western Washington University sculpture garden three months before.

 

Vexed, he headed toward Whatcom Falls Park proper. There he sat down on a curb in the parking lot to text Nick that he’d hit another dead end.

 

He typed. Whatcom Falls a bust. R U home or at studio?

Prominent local artist Nick Olson was the boyfriend that Peter’d acquired during his investigation into the Vine case. He was a big brunet ex-army intelligence officer who, after having discovered his more artistic side in the arms of an internationally renowned painter -- the now six-years-deceased silver fox Walter De Kamp -- had embarked on a painting career of his own.

 

Peter and Nick presently lived together in De Kamp’s hulking modernist house that hugged a sheer cliff face above a body of water on the west coast of Washington State recently renamed the Salish Sea. On the one hand, Peter loved the house. Not only was it a better domicile than he could ever hope to afford on any salary he might earn in his lifetime; it also had a great, romantic name: the Castle on Wildcat Cove.

 

The only downside of the house was that it was the house Nick had lived in with another man. It was De Kamp’s massive abstract paintings that decorated the walls and De Kamp’s color sense that had led to what Peter felt was a strong overuse of dreadnaught gray, particularly in the master-bathroom tiling. Peter had no idea why a person would choose battleship when Payne’s gray, the signature gray-blue of the Pacific Northwest sky, was so much more beautiful.

 

Occasionally, as he gazed at the house, a feeling very much like inadequacy would assault Peter. Look what De Kamp had given his lover, while the most Peter could hope to give Nick was a headache from his constant talking. He wished he could bring something as remarkable and original to Nick’s life, but Peter wasn’t an artist. He wasn’t even a poet. He would look at the Castle and have no idea why Nick stayed with him, but he did. Nick was nothing if not loyal.

 

Now, on account of Nick’s loyalty to De Kamp, Peter was shivering in the drizzle, searching backyards for a five-foot statue of… Well, Peter didn’t know what it was of, exactly, since the name of the piece was Untitled Five. But from photographs he had decided that it looked something like a phallus.

 

Maybe even Nick’s phallus.

 

There was a familiar and somewhat jaunty angle to the thing.

 

From deep within the pocket of his hoodie, Peter’s phone vibrated.

 

Nick had replied. Studio. Where R U? Want ride?

To which Peter responded Yes. W. Falls. By trout tank.

5 minutes, came Nick’s reply.

 

A chill, wet breeze moved around Peter and he pulled his hood up to keep the damp out of his ears. Skinny and wiry, Peter had always gotten cold easily. Nonetheless, when standing before the closet, he could never quite bring himself to dress in the unflattering, loose style typical of the Pacific Northwest dude. This always led to the realization that he should have worn a heavier coat. But then he’d realize he didn’t own a heavier coat that wasn’t a parka, and his manly pride kept him from borrowing Nick’s clothes. Peter had never considered himself a slave to fashion, but occasionally he had to admit to being fashion’s bitch.

 

As was his habit, when he was bored or uncomfortable, Peter be began to compose text in his head.

 

When the phone rang, early on the morning of July fifth, Nick Olson picked up on the first ring. The ability to rise quickly to alertness from a dead sleep was a holdover from Olson’s army days, and his crisp-sounding voice belied the fact that he’d been snoring one second before.

Olson sat up. July sun streaming in the wide, curtainless windows dappled the dark, curly hair on his muscular chest and glinted off his small gold hoop earrings. As he spoke to the mysterious caller, this reporter felt both his curiosity and lust rising. He began to eavesdrop in earnest.

As he listened, Olson’s expression darkened.

It transpired that a De Kamp sculpture, Untitled Five, had been stolen from the Western Washington University campus.

Somewhere close by, a cat let out a screeching wail, which triggered a chorus of early-morning barking from the resident dogs. Peter sniffed and wiped a drop of rain from his nose and glanced up the drive for Nick’s Audi.

 

Nothing. He went back to his mental composition.

 

Olson, who had considered De Kamp to be his husband despite the fact that De Kamp had died before legal marriage had become a possibility, took news of the theft badly. Campus police supposed that the crime had to have been the result of Fourth of July high jinks and theorized that it would turn up eventually. It never did.

Again came the meowing of a cat, only much closer now. Peter peered through the fog toward circular gray trout hatchery tanks. A tiny black form wandered there, giving high-pitched and plaintive calls. The kitten walked with a strange stiffness. Not quite a limp, but not quite normal either.

 

“Here, kitty.” Peter stretched his arm toward the kitten, wiggling his fingers slightly -- the way he had always attracted his friend Evangeline’s three-legged cat, Tripod.

 

The kitten picked up the pace, crossing the lawn toward him, still crying.

 

If it had a collar, Peter reasoned, he could take it back home. The thing was clearly lost. If not, he could take it to the shelter, where at least it could be fed.

 

The kitten reached him, meowing piteously and butting its head into his fingers, purring much more loudly than he would have thought such a small creature capable. He was about to scratch the kitten’s back when he saw it. A circular patch of the kitten’s skin had been removed from its back.

 

Peter pulled his hand back in horror.

 

Seconds later, he saw headlights approaching along the park’s narrow wooded drive. The sleek silver body of Nick’s Audi blended with the morning fog.

 

Peter scooped up the crying kitten, stood, and flagged him down. Nick smiled at him as he opened the car door. “Hey, gorgeous, need a ride?”

 

“We need to go to the vet right away.” Peter set the injured kitten on the passenger seat before loading his bike into the back of Nick’s car. Returning, he gathered the strangely docile creature in his hands and flopped down into the car. The kitten barely filled his cupped palms. In the close confines of the car, he could smell the blood from its wound.

 

“Where did you find that thing?” Nick leaned closer; then, catching sight of the round patch of bare flesh, he sucked in his breath sharply. “I see what you mean about a vet.”

 

“Somebody will be at the Cat Clinic by now. We can go there.”

 

“I don’t know how to get to the Cat Clinic.”

“Just head downtown. I’ll give you directions.” With one finger, Peter petted the kitten’s nubby, rounded ear.

 

Nick glanced over. “What do you think happened to it?”

 

“I think the Halloween cat skinner came back to town.”

 

© Nicole Kimberling

Black Cat Ink

Author: Nicole Kimberling

Publisher: Loose Id, LLC

Genre: GLBT

Buy Link

Small-town reporter Peter Fontaine has a cherry job, a hunky artist boyfriend, and an insatiable lust for rooting out the truth. In this third installment of the Bellingham Mysteries, he and Nick must try to recover a stolen statue in time to host their big Halloween party.

The catch? The statue was created by Nick’s ex lover and to find the culprit, Peter must first delve into Nick’s past. Will Peter’s slutty nurse costume be enough incentive for Nick to come clean about his life before Peter?

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Excerpt Day - Changing Tides © Sandra Sookoo

Excerpt

Chapter One

Neadra Hydral yawned and stretched her arms above her head. She’d spent the day organizing the travel section of the library where she worked and now her limbs ached from crouching, crawling and bending.

 

A quick glance at the nondescript clock on the gray-painted wall behind her desk showed it was well past nine in the evening. The Strange Hollow Library had officially closed an hour ago, but Neadra felt compelled to finish the section. Of course, becoming distracted a handful of times throughout the day reading about places she could never go, didn’t help.

 

With a sigh, she glided around tables and shelves, turning lights off as she went, until she reached the cozy lobby of the brownstone building. She loved the library, mainly because the founder, Jacinda, had constructed the edifice around a huge oak tree. Not having the heart to cut the oak down, they’d simply designed the place with the tree in mind. Now, the majestic branches became like support beams for the three floors above, and its massive trunk had become a bulletin board and meeting place.

 

Her handful of co-workers had already left for the evening, so Neadra cheerfully locked the glass door behind her and breathed in the spring air.

 

Late May in Strange Hollow put her in mind of magical happenings. The atmosphere tingled with life and growth and a person couldn’t help but believe in the possibilities that could happen in their own lives. Except for the extraordinary amount of rain this season, Neadra thought the small town nestled at the base of Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

 

For once, a clear evening beckoned, and even the near full moon had come out to play, illuminating the damp streets. She deeply inhaled again, letting the breath ease out between her lips. Indeed, with such new beginnings fairly dancing through the air, why shouldn’t she try to conquer her own fears and start over?

 

Tremors of apprehension skittered through her stomach at the thought--feelings she hadn’t had since leaving her family and striking out on her own. Neadra snorted at the incongruity of the statement as she walked north along Avenue A. The library, located at the corner of Avenue A and 102nd Street, didn’t have much around it in the way of commerce, but that was fine by her. Personal contact didn’t interest her much, except for those times when her very skin cried out for another’s touch.

 

This was one of those times.

 

She had fallen into the habit of thinking of her life as pre and post Strange Hollow. Six months ago, Neadra had been unceremoniously kicked out of her home in one of the many jetties off the coastline of the Pacific Northwest. Her family had given her an ultimatum to either start swimming and behaving like the Undine she was born to be, or leave. Since she possessed an unhealthy fear of water, having the heritage of an elemental water sprite didn’t mesh.

 

Two days later, she left Oregon’s coast and headed east, making her way steadily deeper into the United States by Greyhound bus, and when her small cash reserves dried up, she hitched the rest of the way. A few commented on her blue hair, the faint blue-green tinge to her skin or her slightly webbed fingers, and many cast looks at her ranging from fear to rude curiosity. The inevitable jeering and hurtful remarks followed until tears became her constant companion and she began doubting her decision to leave.

 

By a stroke of luck, she’d come across a group of nuns at a rest stop at the North Carolina border. They gave her a business card with Jacinda’s name and a two-word destination--Strange Hollow--assuring her that everyone different would be accepted, no questions asked.

 

That evening Neadra stumbled into town, and before she’d gotten ten feet from the Town Hall, Jacinda herself had intercepted her, found her a small apartment and she had secured a job with the library. Neadra hadn’t had time to blink, it had happened that quickly.

 

Whether the whole meeting came about by magic or design, she didn’t know. The only thing she contemplated now was how her life in Strange Hollow had improved her outlook and attitude. Here, she was accepted and liked for who she was--not for what she couldn’t do. She refused to look back.

 

This returned her wandering mind to the problem at hand. Yes, she was afraid of water. So much so that her one-bedroom apartment had been built into the very side of Mt. Mitchell, three stories up from the ground in case there was ever a flood. The water wouldn’t reach her there. The likelihood of such an event occurring was slim. However, where being wet by the rain didn’t bother her because she could hide behind rain gear, not being able to swim in the summer months or water ski on Shady Lake with the rest of the townsfolk--so she’d heard from rumors--started to jar on her nerves and embarrassment set in. It seemed all the Strange Hollow gatherings, at least the ones she’d witnessed since her arrival last October, centered along the lakeshore, and the thought of being so close to a large body of water almost froze her with terror.

 

Something must be done and that something was conquering the unreasonable fear. Not to mention, what kind of man would want a woman like her?

 

Neadra frowned. Keeping herself away from the residents of Strange Hollow had one disadvantage. She couldn’t find a date by hiding--even if dating were possible.

 

Shoving the thought out of her mind, she considered her location. Twenty-five blocks lay between the library and her apartment. The distance was necessary to maintain her self-imposed exile from the water-loving fun. Eighteen blocks separated the library from the edge of Shady Lake.

 

What to do?

 

Subconsciously, she’d been walking north toward the lake so she might as well continue on that path. The need to either master the water or come to grips with her shortcomings compelled her forward. Tonight, she’d either embrace her Undine heritage or she’d hide herself away, knowing she’d be what essentially amounted to a fish out of water.

 

Shouldering her recycled book bag, she strode along the sidewalk, staring straight ahead. If she failed tonight, at least she could move forward in her life and not worry about it anymore.

 

* * * *

 

Neadra sighed and dipped her feet a bit deeper into the chilly water. She perched at the very edge of Shady Lake, alone with only the moon and the lake for company. The romance of the area wasn’t lost on her.

 

A thick wood line shrouded the far side of the lake, serving as a barrier between the business end of Strange Hollow and the small network of farms and homes of the flatlands. She’d heard that any resident wishing to buy property in the outlying areas must be prepared to defend said real estate against interlopers who didn’t hold true with the laws of the town. Every homeowner outside the downtown area received two acres of land along with their house with specific instructions not to sub-let the acreage.

 

It seemed the founder of Strange Hollow didn’t want the beauty of the town marred by endless subdivisions, fast food joints and strip malls. Working alongside nature. As it should be.

 

Slowly wriggling her toes, she stared at the dark stretch of water. So much potential. So much fear. She pulled her long skirt up her legs and slid forward until the water lapped over her calves.

 

I can’t do this.

Ignoring the task at hand, Neadra let her mind ponder her state of singleness. Since she’d been a very little girl it had been drilled into her that water sprites only mated within their species. What happened to a woman who, by necessity, had to live away from her community and family? Because of her fear, she’d been forced to make her home in a tool shed near the sea, much to the derision of her family.

 

It also meant she appeared damaged and broken in the eyes of potential mate material. Not to mention, she lacked the gills inherent to her species, making living on land essential. She was decidedly too odd to fit into the aquatic community.

 

She blew out a shaky breath. Time marched on while her biological clock ticked down the years, bringing panic with it. In two months, she’d pass her thirty-first birthday, not young anymore and nearing the danger zone on the reproductive scale.

 

My life is so messed up.

Watching the moon’s reflection on the lake surface, two glowing blue objects caught her attention. Neadra narrowed her eyes, straining forward. It was too early in the season for amphibian life and the orbs were too large to belong to a snake or fish. In the space of a heartbeat, they vanished. Relief swept through her body. She didn’t want to encounter some of the more fierce wildlife rumored to live around the mountain.

 

As suddenly as they disappeared, the blue objects came back into view, almost staring at her with weird, electric light. She shivered and pulled her feet beneath her, out of the water. Were they eyes? How was it possible? If an Undine didn’t want to be seen, no one except another water sprite could see them--unless she failed at the camouflage aspect of her culture as well. She’d never had an opportunity to test the theory.

 

The eyes came closer, confirming the fact the objects belonged to something. Her pulse steadily increased until it drummed out a frantic rhythm. Too fascinated to move, she watched as it closed the distance, only ten feet from the shore and her.

 

Threads of nameless anticipation slid over her skin, invoking goose bumps, but she felt no fear. Five feet of dark water separated her from whatever lurked beneath the surface. Her throat went dry as she wondered what kind of being it was.

 

With the smooth movements of someone accustomed to spending time in and around water, the placid scene shimmered. The top of a male head appeared, bobbed for an instant, his gaze never breaking eye contact with her, and he swam forward. The closer he got, the more of his body was revealed until he stood, dripping, on the shore near her.

 

For a few seconds, Neadra forgot how to breathe as she stared at the naked form of the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. She gasped and realized beautiful was not nearly an appropriate way to describe this particular male. He was at least six feet tall, and she had to tip her head back in order to properly take him all in. Black, coarse hair sprinkled his winter-pale skin, and as he lifted his hands to slick his thick, black hair from his face, the muscles in his broad chest rippled.

 

Unable to breathe without sounding like a dog in heat, Neadra licked her lips as her gaze moved from his clean-shaven, square jaw, over wide shoulders, thick from daily gym visits or hard labor, and down along his torso, following the sensual black ribbon of hair past washboard abs to his partially erect penis.

 

“Wow.” She’d barely forced the word out when her sex contracted with a strong aching need and she had to squeeze her thighs together to stave off the sensations. Quickly snapping her gaze to his face, she sought to distract herself from his body--except his brilliant eyes caused havoc with her insides. She felt an insane desire to trace the strong lines of his face, run her fingers over his jaw, and feel his lips against hers. “Wow.”

 

The man smiled. The ordinary action lit his face into a softer version, twinkling his eyes and causing gentle creases to appear at the sides of his mouth and across his forehead, as if he indulged in grinning often. “It’s not often I get such a reaction from the ladies, especially not one as pretty as you. I’m Caelan Burke.”

 

Neadra melted a tiny bit further at the slight Irish accent in his baritone voice. “Hi.” At a disadvantage from her position on the ground, not to mention the tempting distraction of his naughty bits at eye level, she struggled to her feet. The small pebbles that made up the shore cut into the soles, but she barely noticed as she held out her hand. “My name is Neadra.”

 

When she moved forward to shake the hand he offered, her toes tangled into the hem of her long skirt and she stumbled, taking a few unsteady steps backward and teetering into the lake with a resounding splash.

 

©  Sandra Sookoo

Changing Tides

Author: Sandra Sookoo

Publisher: Liquid Silver Publishing

Genre:

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Born of water.
Neadra is an Undine, a water sprite, yet the thought of being in any body of water besides her bathtub, terrifies her. In Strange Hollow, she lives on the side of the mountain, content and out of harm’s way, even as she yearns to be understood for her fears and loved in spite of them.

Drawn to water.
Caelan, a water dragon from the wilds of Ireland, has been shunned by his clan for his inability to shift and terrorize. Lonely for too long, he meets Neadra one moonlit night and becomes enchanted by her kindness and her unique beauty, but how could anyone love him if he has no heroic ability whatsoever?

Threatened by water.
When late spring rains, coupled with warm temperatures, melt much of the snow pack on Mt. Mitchell, a flood sweeps through the outskirts of Strange Hollow, putting Neadra’s life in danger. Caelan fights his way to get to her, pulling out the hero he never thought he could be, while she, in turn, works through her fears to find him. Only through acceptance of the world around them and of each other will they find the life they’ve always wanted.

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Excerpt Day – Rubenesque: BBW – Big Beautiful Women

Excerpt

Plan A, just telling her and hoping she'd be reasonable, died a quick and painful death when she laughed, taking with it his ability to get through plans B and C without lashing out. Love fucking hurt no matter what he did, and Drew Benedict wasn't much for pain.

 

Hence the cuffs. Captain Nasty's Fuzz Cuffs of Fury probably weren't ideal romantic props, but theirs wasn't an ideal romance. It had taken him too long to realize how he felt, and there was too much history of being scared shitless at giving up his overactive sex life, even if it was for her. Being with Cat the way she deserved meant responsibility. Commitment. Passing up hot blondes and adventurous redheads for the rest of his life in favor of the best friend who'd cut him out of hers. Better, he'd decided, to leave her be and hope it went away.

 

He'd been an idiot.

 

God, she was gorgeous cuffed and furious. Must be some measure of his oft-cited depravity. Watching her fight with the fuzz cuffs was turning him on so much. Fire in her eyes, venom on her lips, curves dancing as she writhed.

 

He shifted in his seat, already atrociously hard at the thought of what she'd hidden beneath those hideous sweats. At what he planned to do to her sweet, lush body.

 

"Cat," he said. She tried to kill him with her glare. "Wild Cat, if you don't quit that, I'll have to strip you."

 

She hissed at him, proof positive she'd more than earned her nickname despite her sweetness-and-light persona. Twenty years of friendship had given him the inside track. No, not just friendship. Best friendship. Forever.

 

And in an hour or so--provided he could keep his pants on that long--lovers.

 

He meant that forever, too.

 

Given how long he'd wanted to get to this moment, Drew thought he could be patient.

 

"Didn't I tell you never to darken my door again?"

 

He shrugged like her pronouncement two months earlier hadn't fucked him up but good.

 

"Knew you didn't mean that." He dismissed the death promised in her eyes.

 

She snorted. Indelicate and, he imagined, indicative. No sweet little kitten as everyone assumed--she was nothing so domesticated. A right hellcat.

 

"The hell I didn't."

 

"Then why'd you let me in?"

 

She twitched, so cool and calculated his heart flipped again.

 

"Maybe I wanted to keep you here until Luke showed up for another swing at you." She trailed off, letting him imagine her standing by while that slick drip she'd dated broke his nose.

 

Fair was fair, he supposed. Though it was hardly his fault the drip had been a bleeder.

 

"And if I'm attached to my nose as is?"

 

"Then you shouldn't have come."

 

He raised one brow. Knew it was cocky and arrogant and simply didn't care.

 

"It's Devil's Night, Wild Cat. Where else would I be?"

 

© Meg  Winston

Devil's Night
Author: Meg Winston

Publisher: Phaze Books

Genre: BBW, Contemporary

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Practical Cat Harrison had plans for her night off. Battery-operated plans. Then her sexy ex-best friend, Drew Benedict, darkens her door and her night goes to hell.

"Demon" Drew loves every curvy inch of "Wild" Cat, but when he tells her, she laughs. So he resorts to Plan B: handcuffs. If she wants out, she'll have to tell him she loves him, too, or prove she doesn't. And Drew plans to be wickedly convincing.

Excerpt

He rose and stood over me with his hand extended. “Dance with me.”

 

I blinked up at him. “Dance with you? Now?”

 

“Yes. Now.”

 

“Thanks, but—”

 

“I wasn’t asking you. I was asking them,” he said, his gaze lingering on my breasts.

 

As if they had a mind of their own and liked all the attention they were receiving, I felt my nipples tighten.

 

I saw a flash of white as he smiled. “We have the perfect music, lighting, and atmosphere. Let’s make the most of them.”

 

The song playing wasn’t conducive to anything but slow dancing or what my parents would call slow dragging. Did I want to slow dance with him? Hell yeah.

 

“I don’t bite or grind against unwilling partners, Linea.”

 

How like a man to offer unwanted assurances.

 

“Nor do I have wandering hands.”

 

You are behaving like a silly teenager afraid of being kissed for the first time. Dance with him, already.  “I’m glad to hear it,” I said lightly and gave him my hand.

 

I felt a tingle shoot down my back when his fingers closed around mine before he lifted me to my feet.

 

I flashed a quick smile at him.  

 

He drew me into his arms.

 

With his hands resting against my back, I felt as if he’d enfolded me in a warm, sensual cocoon. His chest felt hard against my breasts. I could feel his thighs pressed against me. His cologne filled my senses. Damn but he was nice to be close to.

 

Feeling my heartbeat increase and my pussy tingle, I moistened my lips. Should I admit he was holding me closer than I liked?

 

Almost as if he’d read my thoughts, he slipped an arm around my waist, stepped back, and took one of my hands in his. His chest no longer pressed against my breasts.

 

I released a relieved breath.

 

“Is this better?”

 

“Yes,” I admitted.

 

“Good. I wouldn’t want to do anything to make you feel uncomfortable with me, Linea.”

 

© Marilyn Lee

Betrayed By Love
Author: Marilyn Lee

Publisher: Red Rose Publishing

Genre: BBW, Contemporary

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Linea Hills is an attractive, confident, full-figured woman in full control of her heart and her life—until she falls into lust with her best friend’s husband. Then her life is turned upside down as she feels betrayed by love that hits her at the wrong time and with the wrong man. Her precarious situation worsens when her friend tries to draw her into the martial games she and her husband play.

Grant West is an eligible bachelor with a job that keeps him on the road and a charm that ensures he has his choice of companionship from a succession of women—none of whom can expect a commitment from him. Then he meets Linea and falls for a woman who is determined not to surrender what he wants most from her—her heart.  

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Excerpt Day - Blue Jeans and Hard Hats, Book 2: Cracklin' Rosie © Lissa Matthews

Excerpt

 

“You want me to get his order?”

 

Rosie glanced at Decker who was staring at her. Evidently, Caroline had picked up on Rosie wanting more than to live vicariously through her and Buck, too. She shifted her gaze back to Betsy, her partner at the counter this morning. “No, I’ll get to him. Eventually.”

 

Problem wasn’t her getting to him. Problem was him getting to her. And the longer he remained in Blue Ridge, the more he got to her. She’d just admitted to wanting him, just told him she couldn’t sleep because of him. She shouldn’t be admitting things like that. She knew deep down it wasn’t going to deter him, either. Hell no, it was only to make him more determined.

 

“You sure? I don’t mind. Thinkin’ I might like to get more than his order.”

 

Rosie would be irritated if it was anyone else, but Betsy was pushing sixty-five. She winked at the other waitress. “Go for it then, Bets. He might be into cougars.”

 

Betsy laughed. “You bad girl. That man is young enough to be my son. Sadly, I don’t think he comes in here to see me. I believe he’s only got eyes for you.”

 

Yes, Rosie knew that to be true. He did. And it sucked. He was still staring at her, too, smiling. She didn’t know his friend Buck all that well, but at the moment, she wanted to kill him for asking Decker to come and work on her house. Which in turn would lead to her wanting to kill Caroline because Rosie had no doubt the other woman had mentioned it to Buck. Yeah, mass murder all around.
“He’s a good one.”

 

Rosie snorted. “How do you know that?”

 

“I can just tell. You know, my Bert proposed to me three days after we met. The heart knows.”

 

“So your heart knows that the roofer is what? A good man?”

 

“Yes. But more importantly, your heart knows it, too.”

 

“Things don’t happen like that anymore, Bets.”

 

“Oh, girl, please. The heart is the same. The feelings are the same. The details may be different, but in the end the heart knows. He’s one of the good ones. He’s one of the few worthy ones. Now, are you gonna go get his order or…?

 

“I’m going. I’m going. You drive a hard bargain. You know that?”

 

“That’s my job. You’re the granddaughter I never had. Now scoot and stop giving that young man such a hard time.”

 

Rosie stuck her tongue out at the grandmother she never had and made her way to the other end of the counter. It just wasn’t as easy as Betsy made it sound. Rosie wished it were, but… She shook her head and glared at Decker. “You want the usual? To go?”
“Nope. I’m not in a hurry this morning.”

 

Of course not. “Well, we’re pretty busy, so how about I get it all bagged up for you anyway and you can give up your seat for another customer. That would be the gentlemanly thing to do.”

 

“You’re not being very hospitable, Rosie. Might have to talk to your manager.”

 

It’s not that she didn’t want him around. It’s that she wanted him around too much. It threw her off her game. She didn’t know how to handle a man’s interest like his. Hell, she didn’t know how to handle her own interest in him. She was thirty-seven years old and had never come across a man as potent as him—straight sun-streaked brown hair to his collar, black-rimmed glasses with skulls on the frames, dark chocolate eyes, and tattoos. He had tattoos up and down his back. She’d seen him once without his shirt and stared and drooled like a damn fool. He was gorgeous. At least to her. Most people in town gave him a wide berth until he smiled at them. Then they warmed up, shaking his hand, talking to him, making him feel welcome and at home in their little community. She didn’t want him feeling at home here. She wanted him to go home, back to wherever he came from.

 

And speaking of that damned smile of his. It was very disarming and melted every woman, even ones older than Betsy, into a puddle. He had eyes for only one woman though.

 

Why couldn’t he have been one of those overweight, beer-bellied, crack-showing blue-collar guys? It would have made life lately so much easier.

 

“I am the manager.”

 

Then there was the megawatt grin. His teeth were pearly white in his tan face, straight and beautiful. Could teeth be beautiful?
“Well, isn’t that fortunate for you? Not to mention, I never said I was anything close to a gentleman.”

 

He hadn’t, but she knew he was. He opened doors for little old ladies. He shook hands with little old men. He smiled, made small talk with people, and she knew he’d give his last dollar to anyone that might need it. He had that bad-boy look yes, but he was a gentleman through and through. It sucked. Why couldn’t he be a jerk? “Seriously, Decker, what can I get you? We are busy, and I just…I don’t like you.”

 

“So you were lying out at the truck?”

 

“No I wasn’t lying. I don’t lie.” At least not to anyone but herself. “I said I wanted you. I said nothing at all about liking you.”
“Ouch.” He placed a hand over his heart as though he really was wounded. “If I believed you that would sting. But, lucky for you, I don’t and my feelings are tougher than that. I can withstand the abuse. Especially now that I know the truth.”

 

Of course he could take it. She’d been dishing it out to him since he arrived at her cabin and he’d been smiling all the while. There was no way she’d be able to win with him. She was going to lose her heart and in the end, she was the one that would bear the wound. “What do you want from me?”

 

“For starters, how about dinner? A little kindness maybe? And some conversation.”

 

“That’s it?” She knew that wasn’t it. She didn’t want that to be it. She wanted there to be so much more.
“Well, I said for starters.”

 

© Lissa Matthews

Cracklin' Rosie

Blue Jeans and Hard Hats, Book 2

Author: Lissa Matthews

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Genre; Contemporary

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A tool for every job. A belt for every occasion…

Blue Jeans and Hard Hats, Book 2

Food is Rosie’s life, and life is good. She loves it, makes it, serves it in her diner, writes about it in her blog, and she’s happy. At least until a storm puts a rather large tree limb through her roof, and a sex-in-a-tool-belt roofer on top of her cabin.

But that’s not where she wants him. No, she wants him behind her with a strip of leather in his hand. That’s what makes her edgy—vulnerability is not her style. Except the more prickly she gets with him, the more he turns on the charm.

Decker arrives in Blue Ridge, Georgia, with nothing on his mind but a job and some new scenery. His legendary patience is tested from the first moment he meets sharp-tongued Rosie. She’s got hips that sway, non-stop curves and a mouth that needs to be filled with things that are much sweeter than vinegar.

A few singe-worthy kisses, and Decker uncovers passions that will likely earn her every red stripe she’s begging for. And Rosie discovers Decker’s got a hunger burning deep inside to give her anything and everything she needs. Maybe even…forever.

Warning: Between the sheets of this book you’ll find a twist on a decadent southern dessert, sweet rose wine, picnic table sexiness, truck sex, a man who knows how to give a spanking and a woman who knows how to bend over a hot yummy lap.

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Excerpt Day - River of Need © Shayla Kersten

Excerpt

Chapter One

 

“Kyle!”

 

Bleary-eyed from too little sleep and too many case files read, Detective Kyle Shelton looked for the source of the familiar voice. “Ryan.” He waved a hand in acknowledgement as Ryan Nilsson moved across the squad room.

 

Maybe the vice squad had picked up some information on the string of murders haunting the city. The humid heat of Memphis made the murder rate rise in the summer. Some people called it the killing season. The homicide division certainly stayed busy.

 

Ryan stopped near Kyle’s desk. “Tony said you’d probably still be here.” Homicide detective Tony Costa was Ryan’s lover and he was leading the Cross-Eyed Killer investigation.

 

Stupid name for a serial killer, but the press had a field day when a witness had spilled the beans on the killer’s signature—crosses painted in blood over the victim’s eyelids. Kind of like absolution or last rites.

 

Kyle glanced down at the files spread out over his desk. “Yeah. I keep thinking I’ve missed something. There has to be a connection somewhere between victims. They appear random, but something has to set off the killer.”

 

Two men, one twenty-two and one fifty; a woman in her thirties and an eighteen-year-old boy. No evidence of anything sexual, none of the victims apparently knew each other.

 

Not the same religion even though the killer’s signature appeared to have religious connotations. Only common factor was the location—near Union and Vance and from Third to the river—and the killer’s signature. They couldn’t rule out copycat killers either.

 

Kyle looked up. “Got something for me?”

 

“Not about the murders.” Ryan’s frown and the furtive way his gaze darted around the room made Kyle think this conversation needed a little privacy. “Got a minute?”

 

“Sure. Come on.” Kyle pushed away from his desk. Leading the way, he headed toward an empty interrogation room. He ducked into the observation side so no one could eavesdrop. With the door closed behind them, he leaned against the wall. “What’s up?”

 

“Dustin Eldridge.”

 

Kyle’s breath caught in his throat but he forced air into his lungs as he faked nonchalance. His breakup with Dustin had been wrought with agony and repercussions. He hadn’t talked to him or even heard his name in nearly two years.

 

“What about him?” An ache started in the pit of his stomach. Please don’t let him be dead… As bad as the relationship ended, Kyle still had feelings for the asshole.

 

“He’s been arrested.”

 

Not dead. Shock mixed with relief. “For what?”

 

“Prostitution.”

 

Kyle opened his mouth but nothing came out. His mouth snapped shut. After taking a deep breath, he tried again. Finally, the only thing he could think of popped out. “Are you sure it’s the same Dustin Eldridge?”

 

“Yes. Remember Tony and I hung out with you two a few times.”

 

“Right.” Of course he remembered, but his brain couldn’t conceive of his debonair, urbane lover being accused of hooking. “Any basis to the charges?”

 

Ryan grimaced as he half shrugged. “He propositioned an undercover. Got him on tape.”

 

“Fuck.” With rubbery knees, Kyle moved to the nearest chair. Dustin always did have that effect on him. Too bad he was… “Wait. Man or woman?”

 

“What?”

 

“He propositioned a man or woman?”

 

“Man.” Ryan’s brow crinkled in a half frown. “Why?”

 

Kyle had never told anyone the main reason for their breakup. “He was married. We broke up because he was married. Something he forgot to tell me.” And Dustin’s wife had caught them.

 

“Oh.” Ryan shook his head. “I would have never…”

 

“Yeah. Me either.” Kyle took a deep breath. “Well, thanks for telling me.”

 

“No problem. I didn’t want the name to surprise you on tomorrow’s blotter report.”

 

“I suppose his wife’ll have him out by tomorrow.”

 

“I don’t think so.” Ryan’s hesitant tone made Kyle look up at his friend. “I’m guessing they aren’t together anymore. He listed his address as none and he looks like he’s been living on the streets.”

 

A sudden swell of emotion nearly brought Kyle to his feet, but he forced his body to stay put. He didn’t want Ryan to notice how his words affected him.

 

In his dreams, Kyle wanted Dustin free of his wife, even wanted him back. But being with someone closeted and on the down low was not something Kyle could live with. Ever.

 

“When’s his bail hearing?”

 

“First offense—no hearing. He’ll be released as soon as he can cough up the standard bail. But if you get him out, I doubt you’ll ever see him again. Or the bail money.” Guess Ryan wasn’t fooled.

 

Ryan was probably right, but Kyle couldn’t leave Dustin in jail. His mind rushed through a million scenarios—from happy reconciliation to Dustin skipping town—but he forced his thoughts to focus on the task of getting his ex-lover out of jail.

 

“Thanks for letting me know.” Kyle took a deep breath. He didn’t know what to expect or how he’d react to seeing Dustin again, but he was about to find out.

 

©  Shayla Kersten

River of Need 

Author: Shayla Kersten

Publisher: Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Genre: GLBT

Buy Link: 

Two years after their breakup, Detective Kyle Shelton didn’t expect to see his lying, cheating, closeted ex. Especially not behind bars for prostitution. Bailing him out is one of the stupidest things Kyle has done in a while. Although letting his ex back in his bed probably ranks higher on the dumbass scale.

Dustin Eldridge’s lies about his sexual preferences have left him with nothing. Literally. He’s lost his home, his family, his job and, worse, he’s lost Kyle. On the streets, with no one to turn to, he’s resorted to selling his body to survive. Then Kyle—of all people—comes to his rescue. Dustin can’t fix the past but maybe there’s hope for a future.

Unless Kyle really believes Dustin added serial killer to his resume, along with hooker.

Note: For maximum reader enjoyment, we suggest also reading Hidden Force (Tony and Ryan) and Hidden Hands (David March), in which these secondary characters were heroes.

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Excerpt Day - All Hollow's Eve © Melissa L. Robert

Excerpt

 

It was always the same. The dark-haired man atop the tall horse, who would swing her up by the waist and pull her hard against his chest, galloping, running. The forest trees whipped past them faster than the fall night wind. They rode forever, until both were drenched in sweat and the saddle had rubbed her raw. And then he helped her down, onto a ground damp with leaves and moss and old trees, pushed her skirts up, and fumbled with the laces of her bodice. His face was in shadow, but she knew every inch of it, had kissed those firm lips in moments when no one watched.

 

Strong fingers pushed aside lace and cotton, seeking the wetness there. She arched up, wanting more than his fingers, needing him to release her from the confines of the desire that had haunted her with such frequency since they’d met. The head of his penis nudged her, taking the place of his fingers, harder as it pushed into her wet folds. Her breasts thrust against tight laces, and she couldn’t catch her breath. He plunged in as incoherent words of love tore from her. She strained, reaching, reaching toward him…

 

Heather Merwin shot up, gasping, body drenched in sweat, and the sheets tangled around her. Just as it had been in the dream. A heavy-lidded glance at the clock told her it was midnight. Every night the same time, the same dream. The one she’d had on and off since she turned eighteen.

 

Heather shook herself, her heart still pounding. Her breath came in short pants, and she could still feel the tight binding against her ribs, almost as if she still wore the corset from her dream. But she was alone in her apartment, in her bed, with her need. Heather pressed her pillow between her thighs, too tired to even finish what her mystery man had started, and turned away from the clock.

 

She hated this time of year. It always brought back too many memories, and there was only so much she could do to bury them. The weekends were the worst, although she knew it was partially her fault. Her bed didn’t have to empty, as the discreet and not so discreet advances from her fellow professors and even students suggested. But deep down, she knew they wouldn’t compare to that hard cock just waiting to thrust deep inside her. Not right now.

 

* * * * *

 

The moon shone brightly as Heather hurried across the campus. Midnight on a Sunday night, and the only thing keeping the shadows at bay was the brightness of the full moon and Heather’s firm grip on her imagination. Several students milled about, adrenaline pumping from the late-night horror movie and too many hormones. She’d hoped the film would distract her and keep her from dreaming again, from feeling the same sexual frustration for at least one night. Wrapping her light jacket closer to her body, she ignored the suggestive looks from some of the older students.

 

The grounds were quieter than usual at this hour. She could hear the rustling of the leaves and trees, which sounded eerily like footsteps behind her. Head down against the wind, she nearly tripped over a fallen tree branch, only to realize it was the jean-clad leg of young male. She gasped slightly, and the man moaned.

 

A female’s high-pitched squeal followed, and the leg twitched and jerked. About to call for help, she heard an, “Oh baby,” and jumped back, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. Clearly, the student was not in need of assistance. Then she noticed a rumpled top thrown over the bushes, along with a bra and a set of boxers.

 

She left the couple to their frantic grinding, ignoring the woman’s increasing cries that reminded her of a trapped rabbit.

 

The night air seemed chillier than usual. It seeped into her bones, past her defenses. Another noise sounded behind her, and she wished she hadn’t parked so far. Since moving from New York to California a few years ago, she’d finally let her guard down, although she knew the only monsters in L.A. were the ones on the news.

 

The noise grew louder, coming up through the damp ground, until it almost seemed on top of her. Startled, Heather glanced around, her instinct to run almost overpowering. But the empty student commons area, with its stained concrete benches and overflowing trashcans, offered no place to hide. Not even the shadows were dark enough or long enough to conceal her.

 

The car came out of nowhere, taking the turns at breakneck speed, its black hood and body seeming to absorb the light around it. There were no headlights, just pinpricks of red above the dark metal grill.

 

Heather backed into one of the cool stone benches, feeling it press into the soft spot behind her knees. The car took the curb easily, before halting close to where she stood. Her whole body thrummed in time to its powerful engine. The windows were shaded, and she could just make out the shape of a driver, male, before the door swung open, and someone, something, climbed out.

 

He was tall, muscles bulging beneath dark pants. But more than that, she couldn’t tell. A black-hooded sweatshirt obscured his face, which even the brightness of the moon failed to penetrate. The car idled behind him, a low thrum, which seemed to pull something deep inside her. Her mouth worked, but no scream came. Nothing but a pathetic gasp as he loomed over her.

 

“Where is Samantha?” His voice was deeper than anything she’d ever heard. It echoed around them, bouncing off the pavement and buildings, before settling in the pit of her stomach.

 

“I…I don’t know who you mean.” Her voice trembled, and she hated it. Weakness was something she’d thought she’d banished.

 

“I was told she’d be here. I have to see her.” And from the tone of his voice, whichever person had given him that information was going to regret it.

 

Heather shook her head. The place was deserted. Which meant they wouldn’t find her body till morning. “I’m sorry. I don’t know where…”

 

“Dammit, don’t play games with me!” He grasped her arms, and his hands were like steel, crushing her tender flesh. It felt as if her chest were being crushed, too, although he hadn’t moved any closer.

 

Don’t struggle, she told herself. Though for some reason, her body didn’t need convincing. Her nipples hardened against the tight confines of her bra. It was almost like déjà vu.

 

“You don’t look like one of Eleanor’s kin, but that could just be one of your family’s little tricks.”

 

The concrete of the bench was now biting into her, and her legs trembled as she struggled to stay upright, to not collapse from fright…or something else. Trying to regain some of her ground, she straightened, which brought her in close contact with his chest. His heart thundered against hers, and he stiffened, almost as if he wanted to run as well. She felt the bulge under the heavy pants he wore. Or it might have been the engraved silver belt buckle that dug against her thin skirt and even thinner panties.

 

“I’m not Samantha or Eleanor or whoever it is you want. My name is Heather. I’m a… I’m a teacher here.”

 

“I see. A teacher. An honorable profession, at least nowadays. But your voice is trembling. Are you afraid of me?” His voice had dropped to a rusty whisper. Her arms suddenly seemed lighter, and she realized he’d released them, although he hadn’t moved away from her.

 

“No. I don’t know who you are, but I learned long ago not to be afraid of what goes bump in the night.” She held her breath on the lie, hoping that would preserve a little distance, so she wouldn’t have to feel the heat from his chest and groin, or the corresponding heat working its way up from where he still pressed against her. So she wouldn’t have to think about what lay beneath those pants, thrusting into her… Already she could feel the dampness there, and it wasn’t due to the sweat now beading her upper lip. “Besides, if I jumped over every costumed freak this time of year, I’d have to stay indoors the whole month.”

 

“A costumed freak?” He sounded amused. “Is that how you see me? I suppose it’s appropriate. But that’s an attitude that could get you in trouble with the wrong person, Miss Heather…?”

 

“Heather Merwin.”

 

Her name sounded loud in her ears, and then cold rushed in as the warmth and hardness against her vanished. Her legs finally gave way, and she sank onto the bench, her mind taking a minute to realize her captor had disappeared.

 

A red light suddenly blinded her, and she blinked, barely able to make out the black car now in front of her, almost where the man had been. She could feel the heat of its exhaust up her skirt, the compressed energy against her legs. Her breath coming in little pants, she waited for the driver to make the next move. She heard the click of a door latch. Then, without warning, the car backed up, leaving her feeling…empty.

 

Tires groaning, the car took the curves of the quiet street at inhuman speed, gone as abruptly as it had appeared. Strangely, there were no tire tracks on the dew-ridden grass.

 

Shivering, Heather wasted no time getting to her little green Accord, although she couldn’t shake the feeling of that car breathing down her neck, her skirt, her thighs.

 

© Melissa L. Robert

All Hollow's Eve

Author:  Melissa L. Robert

Publisher:  Cobblestone Press

Genre: Paranormal

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Heather Merwin has spent most of her adult life trying to escape her family’s past, one that included legends she no longer believed in.  Except every night around Halloween, she dreams of making love with a mysterious man on horseback.

A teacher in New York in the eighteenth century, William Crane was in love with the sister of local Jesse Merwin.  After a night of passion, they planned to run away, but were discovered by Jesse.  Since William had taken his sister’s maidenhead, he decided the punishment must fit the crime.  With the help of a local witch, Jesse Merwin cursed Crane.

Now the Horseman rides again, determined to find the one woman who can break his curse. But Heather’s dream lover also turns out to be her nightmare, since she is the descendent of Jesse. Can she overcome her reservations and break the curse? Or will she lose him forever?

 

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Excerpt Day - A Willing Spirit © Cindi Myers

Excerpt

 

Texas, 1855

 

The dried peas rattled in the crockery bowl with a sound like hail on a tin roof.  Tessa Bright frowned, thinking of the holes that needed patching in her own shelter, and the hundred other chores that were more than one woman alone could see to.  Especially not a woman with one arm in a cast.  She balanced the bowl awkwardly on her knees, and began sorting through the peas for rocks and dirt.  "If you really want to help me out, Will, could you see about finding me a hired man?"  She raised her head and addressed the empty air.  "Are you listening, Will?"

 

"I'm listening."  The porch swing beside her wobbled with the weight of someone settling into the seat and a chill breeze swept over her.  In spite of the summer heat, she shivered.  She was never going to get used to that--the way Will was so cold all the time now.  Of course, the whole situation wasn't really the sort of thing anyone ever got used to, was it?  What woman expected her husband to die and come back as a ghost?

 

"Well?  Can you do anything to help?"  She glanced down the long drive that led to the road.  Not that she got a lot of visitors out this way, but if anyone were to come by and see her having a conversation with thin air, they'd likely want to send her off to the mad house.  Most of the folks in town already thought she was a few bricks shy of a full load.

 

"I'm working on it."  Though she couldn't see him, Will's voice was as familiar to her as his face had ever been.  He had a beautiful voice: low, with a hint of gravel in the throat.  Hearing it now, without the comfort of his physical presence, brought a hollow ache to her chest, a different kind of hole that couldn't be mended with mere tarpaper and tin.  "I don't want just any man to take my place," he said.

 

She shifted the bowl, trying to get a better grip.  "I don't want another husband, Will."  She was just getting used to looking out for herself.  Why complicate matters by trying to start over with another man?  "I just need someone temporary, until my arm heals."  She scowled at the plaster cast on her left forearm, as if it were personally responsible for all her troubles.  Maybe if she'd had help to doctor that gelding, she wouldn't be in such a fix now.

 

"You need someone to look after you and this place, the way I did," Will said.  "Someone upstanding and respectable, who can help you make friends in town."

 

"I just need someone useful."  She nodded.  "Someone who knows about horses and doesn't drink too much.  Someone young enough to be strong…but not too handsome."

 

"Why not handsome?"  Will sounded surprised.

 

She shifted in the swing.  If only she could see Will.  He had been a handsome man, and he'd stolen her heart so easily.  Better not to take any chances.  "I don't want talk in town," she said.

 

Will made a noise like a horse snorting.  "They're gonna talk, no matter what."  The swing shook as it emptied of his weight.  "You just leave everything to me."

 

She sighed and turned her attention once more to the peas, stifling a flutter of irritation.  Will had done such a good job of looking after her when he was alive, she supposed it was only natural that he wanted to continue now that he'd passed on.  But wasn't it about time he realized she could look after herself?

 

"What's this?"

 

His question made her look up.  She squinted into the bright sunlight.  A man was walking down the drive toward the house.  A tall man in a dirty brown hat, carrying a saddle.  "I wonder what happened to the horse that went with that saddle?" she mused.
Will was silent, retreating as he always did whenever anyone else was around.  She stood, cradling the bowl of peas, and walked to the edge of the porch, squinting into the bright June sun at the stranger.  The broad brim of his hat cast a shadow across his face, but his quick and steady gait identified him as a young man.  The saddle, though heavy with tooled leather and silver conchos, seemed hardly to burden him as he carried it on his shoulder.  The blue of his flannel shirt had faded to a soft pewter, and his trousers were clumsily patched above one knee.  Instead of a gun, he wore a long-bladed knife at his side.

 

He stopped at the wooden gate in the low picket fence that surrounded the yard and nodded politely before lowering the saddle to the ground.  "Morning, ma'am," he said.  "Is your man at home?"

 

She resisted the urge to smile.  In Will's present condition, he couldn't exactly be said to be anywhere. "I'm afraid my husband passed on last year."

 

He paused for a moment, as if considering his next move.  She wondered if she should have gotten the gun from the house.  She forgot sometimes how vulnerable she was, a woman alone.

 

"Then I guess you're the one I need to talk to," the stranger said.  He nodded toward the corral beside the house.  "I saw your horses.  Wondered if you'd be interested in buying this saddle."

 

She relaxed a little.  Nothing about this man seemed threatening.  He was just a traveler, passing through.  She studied the firm set of his chin, all she could see clearly in the shadow of the hat.  "I've got saddles."

 

"This is a good saddle.  Hand-tooled leather and finest Mexican silver."  His voice was soft, barely accented, like one who hadn't been born speaking English, though he spoke it well enough now.

 

She followed his gaze to the saddle.  "If it's so wonderfully fine, why do you want to sell it?"
He tilted his head and she thought she detected a hint of a smile at the corners of his lips, but she couldn't be sure.  "A saddle like this isn't much good without a horse."

 

"Then you've come to the right place."  She stepped down off the porch, into the yard.  "Those horses you see are for sale.  One of them might be perfect for your saddle."

 

He turned his head toward the half-dozen horses that had gathered along the corral fence, like spectators at a sporting exhibition.  Necks stretched over the top rail, ears arched forward in curiosity.  Tails flicked at flies and hooves stamped as if to demonstrate the vitality of all her stock.  In truth, it hurt her each time she had to part with one of her dears, but there were bills to be paid and she couldn't let sentimentality get in the way of eating.

 

The stranger turned back to her.  "Fine animals.  Expensive?"

 

She nodded.  "Of course."

 

He looked down at the saddle and nudged it with the worn toe of one knee-high boot.  "Which brings me to the second reason the saddle is for sale.  I don't have the price of a beer on me, much less the gold to buy one of your horses."

 

She wondered how far he'd walked, carrying that saddle.  She'd assumed he'd come from town, but anyone there would have given him a good price for his burden.  Now she thought he must have been traveling through, and turned into her drive because it was the first place he'd come to.  "So I can't sell you a horse, and I don't want to buy your saddle."  She took a deep breath, her heart fluttering in her chest as she searched for the right words.  She'd never offered anyone a job before.  What if he turned her down?  Or worse, what if he saw through her pretense at boldness and laughed at her timidity?  "But maybe we can still do business."

 

He was silent, his gaze fixed on the saddle.

 

"I need a man to help me around the place," she continued.  "Just a couple of months, until my arm mends."  She nodded toward the cast.  "I can pay you fifty cents a day, and room and board."

 

He looked past her, to the house.  She wondered if he saw the fine place it had been, or only the disrepair into which it had fallen this last year.  Then he nodded.  "All right, ma'am.  I'll take the job."  He swept off his hat and held his hand over the fence.

 

A tremor ran through her as the stranger's eyes met her own.  She gasped and fumbled with the bowl, but the cast made her awkward and the crockery slipped through her fingers.  The bowl shattered on the hard dirt and peas rolled and bounced across the yard.  "Oh no!" she cried, and knelt, attempting to scoop up the fragments.

 

"Here, let me help you."  He opened the gate and knelt across from her.  She couldn't take her eyes from him, seeing that her first impression of him was true.

 

He was one of the handsomest men she had ever seen, with sharply chiseled features that melded strength and beauty.  The sight of him made her insides go all quivery and her thoughts tumble over themselves in a panic.

 

Not only that, but he was an Indian.  How could she have missed that before?  She had mistaken the brown of his hands for the effects of the summer sun, until she'd seen the coppery tan of his face.  Out of the shadow of his hat, his sculpted cheekbones and chiseled nose betrayed his heritage, as did the ink-black hair tied at the base of his neck with a leather thong.  Only his eyes seemed foreign to his features, eyes the deep green of Mississippi pines.

 

He was a halfbreed then.  The realization did nothing to slow the rapid drumbeat of her heart as they continued to stare at one another, motionless.

 

"Is something wrong?"  He was the first to break the spell between them.

 

She shook her head, trying to hide the shaking in her hands as she gathered broken bits of pottery.  Why was this happening to her?  This man could only mean trouble.

 

Of course, she could always send him away.  She raised her eyes to look at him once more, at the smooth blackness of his hair and the deep brown of his skin.  His broad shoulders strained at the fabric of his shirt as he reached out to capture a rolling pea.  Here was a man who could work hard.  A man familiar enough with horses to own a custom-made saddle.  He was everything she'd hoped for, and who was to say when she'd come across another one like him out here on the edge of the wilderness?

 

She gathered her apron to hold the errant peas and pottery and stood.  "What's your name?" she asked.

 

He rose also, and replaced the hat on his head.  "Fox," he said.  "Micah Fox."

 

She forced a business-like expression to her face and extended her hand.  "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Fox.  My name's Tessa Bright."
He hesitated only a moment before taking her hand.  His grasp was gentle but firm, sending a wave of warmth through her.  Once more, his eyes captured and held her gaze and her knees began to tremble beneath her long skirts.  "Why don't you put your things in the barn, and I'll go fix you something to eat," she said, looking away.

 

He shouldered the saddle once more and she turned toward the house, forcing herself to walk slowly, when inside, all she wanted to do was run.  When she reached the privacy of her kitchen, she sagged against the doorway.  "So, Will, what do you think of that one?" she whispered.

 

But the only answer that came to her was silence.

 

© Cindi Myers

A Willing Spirit
Author: Cindi Myers
Publisher: Aspen Mountain
Genre: Western Historical
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Micah Fox shows up at Tessa Bright's ranch penniless, hoping to sell his saddle.

Tessa, a recent widow, has an arm in a cast and is in desperate need of  a man to help with the chores.

Has Will, her passed on husband, given her a second chance at love?

 

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