Monday, 28 February 2011

Monday – I did get some reading done…..


A weekly event hosted by Sheila - Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week

Books I completed last week

Bailey Bradford - Southern Spirits 03 - All of the Voices

Kat Martin - Against the Fire

Scotty Cade -  Wings of Love

Kat Martin – Against the Wind

Joyee Flynn - Purrfect Mates 01 – Here Kitty, Kitty

Joyee Flynn - Purrfect Mates 02 - My Little Kitty

Joyee Flynn (Purrfect Mates 3) Our Sexy Tiger

Amanda Young - Reckless Heart

Book Pimping

Steam
Tasty Treats 7

Tymber Dalton

Buy link

Lina’s finally getting the hang of being mated to twin Elemental dragon shifters, but the Goddess gig still has her stumped. She wouldn’t trade being mated to Jan and Rick Alexandr, even though she might end up accidentally blowing them up for getting on her nerves.

When Lina, her Watcher, and their dragon mates are summoned to Yellowstone National Park for a shifter Gathering, Lina never anticipates she’d soon become fast friends with Brodey Lyall, a wolf shifter. She senses Brodey’s deep grief over a recent loss, but that’s the least of their problems.

An ancient foe with an old grudge threatens to destroy everything Lina holds dear. Now it’s up to Brodey to outsmart a homicidal, psychopathic chicken bent on revenge. Can Brodey safely reunite Lina with her men, or will a forest fire and Yellowstone’s harsh elements prove too much for even the wily wolf shifter to overcome?

Believe in Me (The Rosewood Trilogy #2)

by Laura Moore

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After learning of her husband’s affair, Jordan Radcliffe is crushed, but she knows she must stay strong for her three young children. So she moves back to Rosewood, the idyllic horse farm where she grew up. Wishing only to recover and reassess her life, Jordan feels an undeniable attraction to architect Owen Gage—and does her best to ignore it. Her heart is too fragile to love again.

Yet when Owen, who himself is wary of any romantic involvement, offers her a job she badly needs, Jordan has no choice but to accept, even though it means she’ll be working alongside him every day. And that closeness could intensify the connection between them—a desire as unnerving as it is powerful.

Up next on the reading deck

Roadside Strangers - Marie Rochelle

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Excerpt Day – The Substitute © Tionne Rogers

Excerpt

 

When I left the palace, the sun was shinning over the square. I had still some free time left before 16:00, but it wasn't enough as to do something else like visiting the Cathedral. I located a nice bench, sunny, and after the extremely cold cellars and prison from the Venetian Dukes, any source of heat was more than welcome. I went straight-forward to it, evading the bird food sellers for the hundreds of doves pestering the place. I sat and took out of my backpack a very cheap paperback copy of “Le Rouge et le Noir” I bought some time ago. If you don't learn French with Stendhal, then you're a hopeless case. I tried to read but the pigeons in Venice are real bullies. I mean; they are bigger than normal doves, have an attitude and are convinced that tourists are supposed to feed them as much as they want. If you refuse, they bring more friends in and start to peak your shoes. Forget to shout or stamp with your foot on the floor. They're unimpressed.

 

After a while of our happy moment together, doves and me -reading the same sentence for like 10 times-, I realised a few things. One: doves had given up and two: sun was away. Well, sun was blocked to be precise. By a huge man. Big, like 6'1” foot tall, dark coat, short hair and with a love for his gym.

 

“Is Julien out of his father's house?” He asked in English with a baritone voice which sent shivers through my spine.

 

“Not yet,” I whispered. He just made the gesture to sit beside me and I was clever enough as to move as fast as possible, otherwise he would have crushed me. Are Europeans not supposed to be sophisticated and polite?

 

“Stendhal was a good diplomat, but I prefer Lampedussa's view on the subject. Attaining power is relatively easy. To keep it is the hardest thing,” he stated looking directly into my eyes. For a second, I felt like I was seven again and forgot to study for the test. I gulped and quickly recovered myself; I didn't want a literature or politics lecture!! OK, let's make a stupid remark, so he gets the hint and disappears. Didn't your mother tell you not to speak with strangers? Probably not, with your gorilla size, strangers go elsewhere.

 

“Really? I thought it was an adventure novel. I have the comic,” I replied with my best dork face. Was that a flash of anger that quickly passed through his eyes? Now it's working.

 

“Already demoted to comic?” He softly said with that polite tone that teachers use before starting to shout. He's going to be a tough one. Next level of pissing people off. Before I could open my mouth to make the second great phrase, his piercing stare abruptly stopped me. Without the blinding sun, I had now a clear view of his face. Although it was a handsome one, the aura of power and danger around him increased my nervousness. My first impression was, that he was the result of a coupling between a lion and a cobra. His features were strong, aristocratic and masculine, steely blue eyes like the stormy sky, brown hair, around his forties, but it was hard to tell and an unmistakably air of superiority. He sat in that miserable bench like in a throne, and I was intermediately correcting my slouched but comfortable posture.

 

“Konrad von Lintorff,” he introduced himself, extending his hand towards me. I shook it without realising what I was doing and automatically replied “Guntram de Lisle.” A second later I was chastising myself; not only I had revealed my name to a perfect stranger, but I had given him another topic; “what a strange name you have." My parents must have been high when they chose it.

 

“Do you take your Christian name after the King or the Opera?”

 

“I don't know.”I admitted dumbfounded. Right, excellent Guntram. Escaping from the Literature class to the History one. Is there any willing wall who would let me hit my head against it?

 

“It's an old Frankish name, but you don't have a French accent when you speak English,” he stated. Why does everybody immediately assume I'm French? I don't deny my roots, but I'm much closer to Argentina than to France or the United States.

 

“I was born in New York but lived most of my life in Buenos Aires. My father was French and my mother partly German, I think. I'm not sure.” I dutifully repeated under his scrutinizing eyes. Or was it my grandmother?

 

“Pumpkin, there you are!!!” Someone yelled at the top of his lungs. There was this fine example of the Gaucho race and for once, and only this time, I was happy to hear his embarrassing name calling.

 

“Hi there. I'm glad you could understand the map and make it”. I retorted and gave Fefo a hug.

 

“You're so hilarious. You should start an acting career.” Was his reply, patting my back with more strength than necessary. “I came to tell you I have business elsewhere and can't see you till tomorrow. Were you already at the cave? Creepy. My mother hates us, pumpkin.”

 

I'm slow. I need some time to process and by the look of the whole story, it seems I was brushed away. All over.

 

“I could come.” I said hopefully, knowing how pathetic I sounded, like the smallest brother left behind.

 

“Better not. It's for grown ups," he whispered. “You could stay with your friend here... Mister???” He shouted clearly and loudly. I think the winged Lion on top of that tower didn't hear you.

 

Do you dare to call yourself my brother, my friend??? You threw me into the snakes' pit without a second thought!! Tomorrow I'm going to kill you because now it would be bloody and messy.

 

“Konrad, Herzog von Lintorff,” he curtly said, not looking thrilled at all or shaking hands at all.

 

“Fedérico Martiarena Alvear. How do you do?”

 

Awkward moment. The German was not so loquacious as my first impression was and the soft whistle of Fefo after hearing that he was a Duke was not helping at all. He just made a short movement with the head, giving him a blank stare.

 

“Have to run. Take care and don't get into trouble.” With that, he sprinted away, leaving me at the mercy of killer doves and stony Germans. Time to make an exit.

 

I turned around to face him. I lifted my head, since my great 5'4'' allowed me to reach, with lots of luck, his shoulder. I opened my mouth to say the usual goodbye.

 

“Do you want to visit the Correr Museum?”

 

Yeah, but not with you. “I don't want to take more of your time” That should do. Aristocrats are touchy if you believe novels.
“I insist.”

 

Nope, does not work. Let's try tactic number two. Play the imbecile. Just when I was going to elaborate something about Mc. Donald's...

 

“Rest assured I will enjoy our time together.” He shut me up before I could say something else, giving me a very small smile while his eyes lit a gentle light. “Besides, your friend has just appointed me your guardian.” He was clearly amused with the task. “I hope you don't bite,” he chortled while I was finding the situation utterly absurd.

 

We entered inside the big building and I went to the ticket office, but he held me strongly by the arm.

 

“There is no need for that. I'm one of the patrons.”

 

Wow. He's truly loaded.

 

“Come. I'll show you the room map and the coin collection. Later we can see the paintings”\

 

I was in awe when I saw the rich room, full with showcases and maps. It was the first time I saw something like that. I slowly walked around, taking in every little detail of the pages and books laying in display. At some point, I remembered my companion and lifted up my gaze to find him intensively looking at my direction. I don't know why I blushed and immediately fixed my eyes into the shelves.

 

A middle aged man in a dark blue suit approached us and whispered something in his ear. “Send a curator here” he curtly ordered, his lips drawing a tin line. It was the first time I saw a museum clerk run fast, with only one look from him, radiating displeasure, I totally sympathized with the poor man. I guess the Duke is used to be obeyed and his wrath must be something to be seen.
“I'm afraid the Director needs to have a word with me.”

 

“Oh, Thank you very much for the visit. It's been a honour to meet you, Duke.” Well, protocol lessons were not a total waste of time.

 

“Please call me Konrad. Someone will accompany you and hopefully I can re join you for the painting rooms.”

 

“I don't want to be a nuisance, Sir,” I said. Who knows? Maybe I can escape now.

 

“Konrad, and you are not. It will be an insult to the Venetians if you don't allow them to show you their glorious past,” he spoke, leaving no room for discussion. Perhaps in Europe aristocrats are not so out of office as I used to believe. His cold, imposing stare makes our school principal look like a little mouse.

 

A really kind old lady was picking me up and started the tour. I was afraid I'd say something silly or out of place, but if I did, she was nice as not to show it. She led me through the rooms and bore with me for two hours. Honestly, I don't know because time flew by. We waited for 15 minutes at the entrance of the painting rooms, but our own German didn't make an appearance. She nervously told me to continue with her, and I could feel that she was uncomfortable to disobey the order.

 

I was mesmerized by an icon, I think that is the word, depicting the Tree of Life. I had no idea what it was, but it was beautiful with those vibrant colours and full of energy.

 

“Do you like it, Guntram? Someone whispered in my right ear, making me jump out of my bones. I tried to regain my composure.

 

“Yes, indeed” I looked around to see that my guide had vanished into the thin air.

 

“Why do you like it?” The German asked.

 

“I don't know much about art. It intrigues me.”

 

“But there must be a reason for you to like it”. He pressed. Yes, he does not take a "no" for an answer. Time to embarrass myself, except this time I didn't want to look like the ignorant country boy I already look like.

 

“The figures are alive” I blurted out, expecting a laugh.

 

“True. That is the essence of art.” He said softly, giving me a comforting look.

 

“I realise now how ignorant I'm.”

 

“That's a good start.” Silence engulfed us. I tried to break the tension by looking somewhere else, but I couldn't shake the feeling of his eyes on my back. It was nerve-raking. We are in a Museum! Can't you find something else to do? I looked through the window at the column and strangely the doves flying around like a whirlwind gave me a sense of peace. The Piazza was losing the frenetic river of tourists and slowly settling down. The waiters at the Florian Café made a huge contrast to the imposed calm of the sunset, madly running to remove the outside tables and get rid of the last coffee clients as they prepared the inside tables for dinner.

 

“I think it's enough for today. Let's have something to eat,” he said to me, taking me out of my reverie and pulling me from the arm, as if I were a rag doll, with a gentle but firm grip. Time to reaffirm my grounds in a polite way. Sort of.

 

“Please, I don't want to impose myself any further.” I said putting some emphasis on the “I don't want” part; perhaps he now gets the message.

 

“Nonsense,” was his eloquent answer as he quickly pulled me towards the stairs, exit and look now, we are on the street! Civility was not really working at all with this meddling giant!!

 

“It's unfortunate that my house is not open yet and taking someone so young as you to a hotel would be totally inappropriate,” he said as matter of fact, while he led me with ease through the streets maze and not falling miserably into dead ends like I do.

 

Excuse me?? In which century does he live? Has no one told him that nowadays is okay to go to hotel restaurants and that there is no shame in sitting in the parterre of theatres? I honestly tried to slow him down by dragging my feet, but a sharp look from him made me change my mind. All right, you won, only because I was hungry; the chances that I find Fefo and go to dine at our favourite fast food chain were truly slim and finally I was totally fed up with said food.

 

We stopped at a small door and two small windows with no visible sign at all. An opium smoking room perhaps? No, not such luck. Never remotely exciting ever happens to me!

 

© Tionne Rogers

 

The Substitute

Author:  Tionne Rogers

Publisher:Lulu Marketplace

Genre: GLBT

Buy Link (FREE until MARCH 10th)

“I understand this is all new to an inexperienced youth like yourself. I was half expecting your rejection, but I'm willing to wait, that you become my lover. I will provide, take care and see that no harm falls upon you, as long as you respect me and behave according to your status. As I said, you are the most adorable thing that had caught my attention in years. You have to be mine and I have every intention to win you over.” “I'm 44 and way past the age for playing. You are everything I've dreamed of for a lover and a companion in life. Your beauty and innocence makes you perfect for me."

With these words, Konrad von Lintorff, a Swiss German banker declared his intentions to a 19 years old penniless student. Guntram was young, kind hearted and exactly looking as Konrad's former lover.

Can a young sweet boy survive the High Finance World and the love of a possessive and violent man?

Follow Guntram's diary through a story of intrigue, love, sex, betrayal, secret societies, deceptions and murder.

image

 

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Excerpt Day - Mask of Ice © Elaine Lowe

Excerpt

 

Chapter One

 

She held the mask in her hands, the white curator’s gloves preventing her sweating palms from damaging the priceless artifact. She hadn’t been this nervous since the first time she’d had sex. And that had been bad. It got better, with the right partner. With Sam. With Sam everything had come easily. Why were her hands shaking?

 

Fuck, her brain was rambling. Bad enough that she did it when she was talking, but now she was babbling in her own head. She glanced around this conference room, looking longingly at the half-empty bottle of Scotch in the sidebar, noting the heavy scent of cigarettes in the air and the smell of the expensive leather chairs surrounding the sturdy oak table. The room spoke of wealth and privilege, exactly the sort of image the auction house cultivated for clients, no matter what their normal day-to-day dirty work might be. But Sheila also took note of the huge, yet thoroughly bored, guard just outside the door. Salbury and Sons may be New York’s finest auction house, but apparently they didn’t pay their security guards enough to stay alert.

 

It wasn’t something she would have normally given any attention to. But then again, Sheila Connelly Sumners was not a person who normally thought about stealing Inuit ceremonial masks either. She was amazed that she’d been asked to examine the piece. It wasn’t often that the big boys would ask a “little lady” to authenticate a rare piece like this. She supposed that the collector didn’t want word to get around, and thought that a small-time ethnographer at Columbia would know enough to keep her trap shut about something this incredible.

 

The kinapak was beautiful. Ancient beyond any artifact of the kind she’d ever seen or heard of. It was unmatched in quality. Stoniman had excellent taste in those items he wanted to secret behind the fortress of his downtown mansion. The trained social scientist in her evaluated the age, the composition, the likely uses. The stone and wood and feathers described in her notebook in cold, logical terms.

 

The storyteller in her knew that this object held power. One look into the half-wolf, half-human face and she knew that this piece did not belong in a display case on some rich man’s wall. This piece was alive, and it was cut off from its people.

 

George Alfman, the man who’d demanded she come into the Salbury offices at ten on a Saturday night, waltzed in the opposite door. The man wore his crisply pressed three-piece suit like armor. It looked as good as it would have if he’d come into work on a Monday morning at eight. She wondered if the little weasel had run on home to change into his best duds to impress her.

 

She’d just thrown on khakis and a thick gray sweater. She still had her pajama top on underneath, for christ’s sake! She didn’t wake up looking like Doris Day. George’s eyes traveled over her rumpled form with a mixture of distain and desire that was almost comical. The man was maybe an inch taller than her five two, and that receding hairline and Hitleresque mustache did not seem to make him think he was any less a catch. Maybe he thought if he showed her the most jim-dandy find of the year, she’d go to bed with him?

 

Fat chance, buster. Go find a gold-digging bobby-soxer and leave the real women alone.

The idea that this knucklehead was going to hand over this mask to Stoniman and not the Metropolitan Museum was sickening. She couldn’t let it happen. Hell, the damn thing should be at home, where it would still be used. Loved and cared for.

 

She’d already made the decision. Now she just had to have the guts to go through with it.

 

“George, baby, this is a bee-you-tiful piece. Almost too beautiful really.”

 

His brow furrowed, and the mustache twitched. She’d hooked him.

 

“Too beautiful? You think it’s fake! I can assure you, on the very best recommendations that…”

 

She had no desire to listen to one of his speeches. “Let’s just say I’m not completely convinced. But there’s a guy I know in the chem lab. He’s got a couple of tests that I would want to run.” She gave him her best blonde bombshell smile. “Just let me collect a few small samples and…”

 

“No! You can’t… I mean, I can’t damage it, it would lower the value…”

 

“Oh well then, there are some non-invasive tests that could be run. Spectrum analysis, that sort of thing. But then I’d have to take the mask with me. Could I borrow a security man to come with me for a couple of days? Just to be safe?”

 

She resisted biting her lip. It had been a risk, but she could see George’s beady little eyes flicker to the beefy guard in the hall and the miserly cogs turning in his little rodent brain. “All of this is hush-hush, top secret, you realize that, Sheila?”

 

“Everything I do for Salbury and Sons I hold in the strictest confidence, George. When have I ever let you down?” True, she hated being ordered by her department head to work for these fellas, but that was the kind of treatment a woman had to take to get by in a man’s world. And at the moment, she was grateful for that record. It meant that she might just have George falling into her honeytrap any second now…

 

“I think that it might just be safer for you to take the mask in a very unremarkable bag and have the tests performed in secret. That way we avoid any unwarranted attention by unsavory elements.”

 

Hook, line and sinker.

“Well, George, if you think that would be best. You know I always trust your opinion in these things.” She fluttered her eyelashes, and she hoped she wasn’t laying it on too thick. It always seemed to work for Rita Hayworth. George smiled at her goofily, and she gave him a happy grin.

 

She was going to walk out of here with the mask and never look back.

 

© Elaine Lowe

 

Mask of Ice

Author: Elaine Lowe

Publisher:Ellora’s Cave

Genre: Erotic romance

Buy Link

Professor Sheila Connelly remembers Professor Sam Sumners. His dark eyes, his talented tongue, the way he always makes it clear he wants her. She should remember him—he’s still her husband, after all. When she “liberates” a powerful Inuit artifact from a ruthless dealer and needs help to find it a home, there’s no one else she trusts more than Sam. During the resulting adventures through the perilous arctic, she can’t remember how she managed without him.

It’s 1955, and it’s a man’s world. Through the magic of the artifact, Sam finds out just how hard it is to be a woman. And Sheila discovers that no matter what happens, she needs Sam with a passion hot enough to melt all the ice around her heart, and his.

All they have to do now is survive.

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Excerpt Day - The Deadly Seance © Monette Michaels

Excerpt

 

Chapter One

Sunday evening, Ariana Huntingdon’s Mansion on Lake Austin

“Take your seats, please.”

 

Vidal Storm sipped his brandy as Ariana Huntingdon called her guests to the table. The shuffling of feet and low murmured conversations washed over him as the five other people in the room gradually made their way toward the recently cleared dining room table. He and Ari had already taken their places in preparation for the séance he was about to conduct.

 

“Mother, darling!” Lisa Huntingdon, Ari and Al’s youngest child and only daughter, paused by her mother’s chair on the way to her seat opposite Vidal. The blonde leaned over, air-kissed Ari then fussed with the collar of her mother’s dress. A charm on her bracelet caught on her mother’s dress and it took several seconds to extract it from the fabric.

 

The differences between mother and daughter were wider than the Great Divide was long. Where Ari was dressed in the height of understated elegance in pale crème silk with pearls and her wedding ring as her only jewels, Lisa looked like a bad advertisement for a haute couture ad--skin-tight, barely there dress, hair extensions down to her butt, Cleopatra-lined eyes and red glossy lips, and large, gaudy pieces of jewelry on every finger, both wrists, and around her neck. The light from the crystal chandelier bounced off Lisa’s jewel-adorned body like sunlight off a lake.

 

Vidal blinked to clear the streaks of light flashing across his vision.

 

Lisa drawled, “What a fab idea for a dinner party. Will Vidal be performing magic tricks, too? I do so love tricks.” She licked her collagen-ballooned lips while her feverish, dilated gaze roamed over him as if he were a prime cut of Texas beef.

 

If Lisa was attempting to flirt, her slurred words, from either drugs or drink--or both--foiled her delivery. Her lascivious glance only made him desire a cleansing shower. Ari’s daughter was one sick little bitch.

 

“Behave, Lisa.” Ari’s cerulean eyes sparked with anger. “Vidal is a very special guest, my guest, and you’ll treat him accordingly.”

 

“That’s right, sister dear. Don’t poach your mother’s lover.” Todd, a fair-haired Adonis and the eldest of the children, braced a hand on the back of his mother’s chair. He brushed some hair off his mother’s face. She flinched as he leaned over to air kiss her cheek. “After all, she could cut you off without one red cent and then where would you be with all your business ventures, hmm?”

 

“Shut up, Todd.” Lisa shot him a narrow-eyed, ugly look. “As if you know anything at all about how to run a business. Any business.” Her emphasis on “any” caused Todd’s lips to thin.

 

Vidal could almost see the steam coming out of the man’s ears. He wondered what specific nerve Lisa had hit and if the dig had anything to do with what Ari planned to do this evening.

 

Randy, the third of the Huntingdon brood and a shorter version of Todd’s blond good looks, snorted. “She’s got you there, bro.” The younger son elbowed his brother out of the way then patted his mother’s back. “Great party, Mother. But just why are we here?” He waved an unsteady hand at the room. Alcohol or drugs, Vidal wondered.

 

The undercurrents in the room had grown from merely uncomfortable and awkward to downright murky and dangerous. Vidal’s preternatural senses scented the acrid odor of fear in the room--underlain with anger. No, not mere anger, but a cold, dangerous rage honed to a lethally sharp edge. His gut clenched with apprehension and foreboding. Somehow, the children had found out exactly why they were here--and one or maybe all of them were furious.

 

His eyes narrowed as he singled out each child, but he couldn’t discern from whom the strong emotions emanated. The gods knew his empathic abilities had never been that accurate beyond a general knowing. Damn, he should’ve gone with his gut and invited his sister Ilana and her daughter Abbie. As female witches, their empathic bridge to humans was stronger than his. But he’d ignored his instincts and now regretted it.

 

“You’ll see, Randy,” Ari answered. “Now take your seats so Vidal can get started.” She waved the children away, the diamonds of her wedding ring refracting the light from the chandelier and casting mini-rainbows about the room.

 

Moving through the mini-Aurora borealis created by Ari’s rings and the dancing crystals of the light fixture, Rose Connors approached them. “I’ve brought you a wrap, Ariana. It’s chilly in here.”

 

Vidal shook his head. He blinked to clear his vision as Rose, Ari’s social secretary and poor country cousin, placed a blood-red merino wool shawl across Ari’s shoulders.

 

“Thank you, my dear. You take such good care of me.” Ari smiled at the plain, pasty-faced mouse of a woman and patted Rose’s hand where it lay on her shoulder. “Ouch. what...?”

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Ariana. My ring has a loose prong. It scratched you.” Rose fluttered about, finally grabbing a napkin to staunch the minor bleeding. She smiled apologetically at Ari and Vidal, then left to take her seat for the séance.

 

Ari’s cousin was awfully nervous. He had been present earlier when Ari had informed Rose and the butler Simmons of the dual reasons for the séance. Had one of them had told the children? Most likely. On the day Ari had asked him to perform the séance to consult with her dead husband, he’d advised her not to inform the children what she’d planned. Her children had made bad choices, committed bad acts--and Ari planned to deliver some tough love with the hope of forcing them to correct the error of their ways before it was too late. He didn’t know what the children had done to force Ari to take the drastic measures. She’d only shared that her children’s actions could be considered criminal.

 

“Refill, madam?” Simmons stood off to Ari’s side, the decanter of brandy in his hand.

 

At Ari’s subtle nod, Simmons leaned over and refilled her glass. As he did, he brushed her shoulder. “Sorry, Madam.” He then moved about the table refreshing the other’s drinks.

 

Vidal turned his head and smiled at Ari. He leaned closer and whispered against her sweetly scented cheek. “Are you ready, darling?”

 

She moved into his lips, allowing them to brush her skin. “Yes.” With a hitch in her breathing, she gasped and her eyes widened. She coughed then reached for her brandy. Taking a small sip, she exhaled on a soft, trembling sigh.

 

“Ari, are you okay?” He rubbed her back as he searched her face. Her eyes had a glazed look, as if she were ill or in pain. She looked ... frail.

 

“Yes. It’s just stress...” She stroked his cheek. “It’s very cool in here all of a sudden.” She pulled the shawl more closely around her body. “Is Al here already?”

 

“Not yet, my love.” He kissed her lightly on her pale, too-cool cheek. Her skin was clammy. “Don’t worry so. Al was a close friend of mine--and he loved you. He wouldn’t want you to be alone for the rest of your life. He’ll bless our marriage. And as for the children... well, I’ll be here to help you get through whatever needs to be done.”

 

She drew his face to hers until their foreheads touched, her fingers icy against his cheeks. “I love you, Vidal.”

 

A muffled cough. A tittering of laughter. A shocked “Mother!” from one of the boys reminded him that five pairs of eyes observed them. The cold rage he’d smelled earlier grew even icier, more threatening.

 

Vidal mouthed “I love you, too” as his senses once again ranged in search of the source or sources of the anger. This time, he found it on the three children’s faces and even in the not-so-blank stares of the perfect servants. Now he was positive. The children knew about his proposal of marriage to Ari and her plan for monetary tough love. After tonight, the Huntingdon children would have to learn to live on less than fifty percent of their trust income, still a large amount of money for most people, but for them it would seem like the Great Depression.

 

No use prolonging the evening. Ari was not well, no matter what she said. “Join hands, please.”

 

Ari’s fingers trembled in his. Her breathing had become more erratic. “Vidal...” She gasped and grabbed her throat. “I ... can’t ... breathe.”

 

“Ari! Darling?” He gathered her falling body into his arms, shoving her chair out from under her with a foot, then laid her gently on the floor. As he loosened her dress away from her neck, he snapped out orders. “Simmons, call 911. Rose, get me a cool wet cloth. The rest of you--stay back. She needs air.”

 

As he attempted to save the woman he loved, he sensed Al reaching for him from the other side. Opening his mind to the Otherworld, he muttered his communing spell to complete the link.

 

Vidal! Ari was poisoned. One of them killed her.

She isn’t dead yet. But even as he gave her CPR, he sensed her life essence slipping away.

 

I’m sorry, Vidal ... but she comes to me.

How do you know this is murder?

Because the same one killed me. Be strong, Vidal. Avenge us, my friend! I want your niece and Luc to find our killers. Al’s spirit hovered over them. Love shone from his eyes like light from the sun. Come to me, my little Ari. I’ve waited so long to be with you once again.

Ari’s spirit rose from her lifeless body, her soul blazing with white light as she grasped Al’s hand.

 

Ari! Stay with me.

I can’t, my love. Avenge us.

“Sir, let us in please.” A paramedic stood behind Vidal, ready to take over resuscitation efforts. As he moved back to let the professionals do their life-saving jobs, he knew it was too late. Ari’s spirit had joined Al’s in the Otherworld and was not coming back. Even now, Al and Ari watched as the medical personnel worked over her mortal remains.

 

Vidal turned away, unable to watch the cold brutality of the futile attempts. The paramedics swore at their inability to resuscitate her. Amid the scents of the first responders’ frustration and failure, the underlying smell of anger from the séance attendees was replaced by smug satisfaction. Vidal’s was the only aura of sorrow in the room. No one mourned Ari’s death but him.

 

* * * *

 

Monday, Dawn, Luc Knight’s Lake Travis home

“You are such a ... frickin’ macho ... son of a bitch!”

 

“Why thank you, darlin’!” Luc winked at Abbie.

 

“I am so not complimenting you, Lucan Knight.”

 

“Would you rather I was some limp-wristed metro guy, wearing a suit and putting in his 9-to-5 in a bank or some other equally boring job?” He raised one dark brow. His eyes glistened like gold, reflecting the sunlight coming through the bathroom window.

 

“You’re missing the point,” she all but hissed.

 

“And the point is?” Luc moved to stand behind her at the bathroom vanity. His half-naked and very warm body crowded her. He moved her hair aside then kissed her bare shoulder. “Because I seem to have missed something between the wake-up sex and you going ballistic on me.”

 

He just didn’t get it. It was like the last month had never happened. She’d thought they’d gotten to know one another better after they’d defeated her nemesis, Mark Madoc, the warlock who’d tried to kill her. She knew Luc loved her--but she wasn’t sure he trusted her.

 

“I don’t want you to go to Wales. There’s no need.” That should be blunt enough for the thick-headed shifter-wizard. She’d told him numerous times over the last thirty days that the Madoc incident was closed. Behind them. Not a problem. Madoc’s witch powers, both dark and light, had been blocked by a powerful caging spell and he now sat in a Texas jail awaiting trial for multiple murders. He was destined to be some Texas prison inmate’s bitch until they fried his ass. It wasn’t necessary for Luc to go after the rest of Madoc’s clan. That was just plain asking for trouble.

 

Luc exhaled, a sound of pure male exasperation. “I’m going. I explained why I have to do this—”

 

“Yeah, yeah.” She cut him off with a chopping motion of her hand. “I know what you told me. And I don’t care. Madoc is out of the picture. It’s over.”

 

“No, it’s not.” He audibly ground his teeth. The muscles in his chiseled, beard-shadowed jaw moved as he struggled to contain his anger. “Whoever helped Madoc escape the British Isles in the first place is still out there.”

 

“It’s not your job to find the traitor within the European Council.” She glared at him in the mirror. “The Euro-Council has an investigation under way.”

 

“Fuck the Euro-Council. It’s only a job to them--and one they haven’t done very well up to now.” He massaged the knots in her shoulders and neck. “Besides, this is personal.” His voice lowered, becoming more calm. More deadly. “You are mine. Your future safety is my primary and only goal. I don’t trust anyone else where your life is concerned.”

 

A nice sentiment and typical alpha-male posturing, but it didn’t address all her issues with Luc and his tendency to be high-handed where she was concerned. The Madoc affair was just the most obvious.

 

“Fine.” She waved a hand wildly toward the door. “Go.” Nothing she could say would dissuade him. If he wanted to go off on a wild goose chase to Wales, let him.

 

Luc tipped her head back and attempted to kiss her. She turned away and his lips ended up on her cheek. He growled. “Stubborn little cat.” He turned her, and holding her face between gentle hands, took her lips in a searing, tongue-thrusting kiss she felt all the way to her toes and back. Against her lips, he muttered, “Behave, darlin’. Keep your cute little tush close to home, or the office, until I get back. I let the guys,” referring to her uncle, her mother’s vampire lover and her secretary and his significant other, “know I’d be gone. They’ve promised to keep an eye on you for me.”

 

And there was the main reason she was mad at him. “Admit it, Luc. You don’t frickin’ trust me on my own.” She shoved at his chest. “I can’t even go about my business because you’re going away. Do you think I’ll go out and find some other man while you’re gone?”

 

“Of course I trust you.” His amber-colored eyes narrowed and grew dark. “And just what men would you be talking about? Sam Adams, maybe?”

 

“See!” She jabbed his chest several times until he grabbed the offending finger. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about.” She took a calming breath, then another, before she spoke through clenched teeth. “Listen up, Lucan Knight. There’s nothing between Sam and me, yet you continue to pull the macho-man-beating-of-chest whenever I mention him. In fact, you get hot over any man I mention. You don’t trust me.” Her last words sounded whiny--and she hated the loss of control almost as much as she hated the topic of conversation.

 

“Where do you come up with...” He shook his head. “Hell, I don’t have time for this. I need to go.” He released her hand after placing a searing kiss on her palm. “We’ll talk when I get home. Just stay close to the office and the house--please? For me? It’s for your safety.”

 

“Aargh! Men!” She looked to the sky. “Mother Goddess, why are men so dense?” She took a deep breath and struggled to gentle her tone. “Luc...” His eyes flashed golden sparks and his lips thinned. She touched his mind and found it closed to her, the first time that had happened in over a month. “I just want you to—”

 

The ringing of the phone interrupted her.

 

Luc, his molten gold gaze never leaving her, picked up the phone. “Hello?” He held it out to her. “It’s Ilana.”

 

“Goddess, give me strength,” she muttered under her breath. Her mother tried her patience even on the best of days, and now was not a particularly good time, let alone the best. She took the phone. “Hello, Mother. What’s wrong?”

 

“Abigail? You know already? Good.”

 

“Know what?” Letting out an exasperated breath, Abbie thrust a hand through her sex-mussed hair.

 

Pulling on clothes, Luc mouthed, “What’s up?” Abbie shrugged.

 

“Well, you asked me what was wrong, Abigail.” Her mother let out a delicate sniff. “I just assumed you must’ve caught a wisp of Vidal’s extreme emotions on the family wavelength.”

 

“No, I didn’t. I had some extreme emotions of my own to deal with.” She sent a narrow-eyed look toward the alpha-male cause. “What’s wrong with Uncle Vidal?”

 

Luc edged closer, a look of concern on his face. Vidal was one of his favorite people, so she wasn’t surprised.

 

“His fiancée, Ariana Huntingdon, died last night.”

 

Abbie stopped breathing for a second. “Abbie? What’s wrong?” Luc rubbed her back, his concern all for her now. She was in shock. Her uncle’s fiancée? Since when? Where had she been while this happened? Oh yeah, she’d been busy, investing all her love and energy into a relationship with an alpha-bloody-male. One who didn’t trust her!

 

“Abigail, are you listening to me?”

 

She turned her attention back to her mother’s strident tones. “Yes.”

 

“I need your help. Vidal is inconsolable. He won’t listen to me. I’m afraid he’ll do something drastic.”

 

That sounded particularly ominous ... and strange. It took a lot to upset her mother, and Ilana sounded downright frantic. Abbie could understand why--Uncle Vidal never got upset or acted out of control--about anything. Her uncle made sleeping cats look energetic.

 

“Where are you? At home? I’ll come right over.”

 

“Thank you, baby girl.”

 

Now she knew her mother wasn’t herself. She hadn’t called Abbie, “baby girl,” since she was two years old and just learning her basic spells.

 

“Don’t come to the house. We’ll meet you at the Cracker Barrel off I-35 on the north side of town,” her mother said. “Your uncle needs to eat--he likes comfort food.”

 

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Abbie disconnected.

 

Luc stared at her. “Would you please tell me what happened to Vidal? Should I postpone my trip to Wales?”

 

Just great. He’d postpone the trip for Vidal, but not for her. Arrgh!

“His fiancée died. Last night. Mother said he’s grief-stricken. She’s worried about him. She needs me for moral support.” But it was more than that. Something in her mother’s tone had alerted her to something darker, more dangerous about the whole situation.

 

“So Ari accepted?” Luc nodded. He rubbed soothing circles on her back. “Vidal said something about it when we met for drinks at Jurnik’s club the other night. But I hadn’t heard she was ill. Vidal must be a mess.”

 

She’d thought she’d been upset with him before, but now she saw red. No, that was too tame a description. She saw red with gigantic streaks of flame marbling through her line of sight. “You knew about this engagement and didn’t tell me! And just what in Lucifer’s were you doing at Jurnik’s strip club with my uncle?”

 

Luc froze. He knew he’d screwed the pooch. He’d be scrambling for high ground now. She touched his mind lightly. Still closed--and she knew without a doubt he was going to lie through his teeth.

 

“It was sort of a pre-bachelor party. Jurnik threw it for him. Just in case, you know?”

 

Bachelor party, her second toe. They didn’t tend to occur before the engagement was even announced. And then it came to her--the meeting had been to discuss Luc’s trip to Wales and to arrange her care and protection while her big, strong man was away from the cave. Macho assholes. She’d bet her great-great-grandmother’s grimoire that Daniel, her soon-to-be-wrung-through-a-ringer secretary, and his lover Van had been at the “party,” also.

 

“Aargh!” Abbie turned and aimed her pent-up anger and frustration at a poor defenseless potted plant by the Jacuzzi tub. It was either that or scorch Luc’s stupid male hide. An assault and battery charge wasn’t worth the momentary satisfaction the act would have given her.

 

Abbie kept her epiphany to herself. She wanted to see just how far Luc carried the fiction. “No one thought to tell me? My favorite uncle planned to get engaged and no one frigging told me?”

 

“He wanted to tell you himself.” Luc reached for her, but she backed away. If he touched her right then, she might just hurt him. “He made me swear not to tell you. Something must’ve come up before he could.” His lying eyes pleaded for understanding. “Would you have wanted me to go back on my word?”

 

Abbie stared at the sunlight dancing on Lake Travis, a beautiful sight which usually filled her with peace. Today, it didn’t even register. The one-month relationship with Luc had arisen from an incendiary mixture of danger and instant mutual attraction. On her side, love had grown with each passing day. She was pretty sure he loved her. But it was obvious the man didn’t know or care that she needed more. She didn’t need smothering protection, unreasonable jealousy and blatant lies. She needed trust and communication ... a full partnership.

 

“No. Never that,” she drawled. She moved toward the walk-in closet. “I’m going to get dressed and then go help mother with my uncle. You don’t need to cancel your trip. Neither of us knew Ari Huntingdon well.” She spoke calmly, thrusting her hurt and anger to a deep dark place at the back of her mind, locking it behind walls of icy cold steel. His alert stance told her he’d caught a wisp of her turmoil and knew he’d messed up royally. She mentally smiled. Good, let him sweat it out.

 

“I suspect no one will miss you if you don’t attend the funeral. I’m family. I have to be there.” His body jerked. Low blow, yes, but he deserved it for lying. “I’ll let Uncle know you’re pursuing the Madoc inquiry. After all, you two cooked this little trip up between you, right? The other night? At Jurnik’s? At the bachelor party?”

 

“Uh, yeah.” Caught out in his lie, he flushed red. He couldn’t hold her gaze. He hadn’t expected her to catch his prevarication.

 

“Well, go.” She made a circular, shooing motion with her hands. “Fly off to Wales and play magic spy games. I have family business to attend to.” She’d straighten out the over-protective males in her life later after Luc returned. She definitely had her work cut out for her.

 

“Abbie, I...”

 

“Don’t say another word. Just go.”

 

Unreasonable male pique darkened Luc’s eyes. “When I return, you’ll tell me exactly what’s got your panties in a twist.” Then he muttered a transportation spell and set off in a dark, whirling cloud of righteous male anger.

 

“Damn betcha, I will.”

 

© Monette Michaels

 

The Deadly Seance

A Gooden and Knight Mystery: Case File #2

Author:  Monette Michaels

Publisher:Liquid Silver Books

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Abigail Gooden's Uncle Vidal is in love. His soon-to-be bride, Ariana Huntingdon, has asked him to perform a séance. Its purpose is twofold: to obtain Ari’s deceased husband’s blessing for the nuptials and to get his advice about some much needed tough love for their three adult children. Before Vidal can perform the séance, Ari dies in his arms--and it's definitely murder.

One of the five people in the room did it. Was it one of the spoiled children whose allowances were to be cut off? Was it Ari’s long-suffering, poor-relation secretary, Rose Connors? Or was it the butler, Simmons?

Abbie and Luc barely begin to investigate Ari’s death before another murder occurs. With ties connecting the current deaths to two previous ones and danger from Abbie’s past stalking them, it will take all their smarts plus help from their friends and a whole lot of magic to figure out whodunit before the killer strikes again.

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Excerpt Day - Wings of Love © Scotty Cade

Excerpt

 

Prologue

 

RENOWNED oncologist Dr. Bradford Mitchell sat hopelessly in the cold, sterile Seattle hospital room, clinging to the hand of the man he loved more than anything in this world, more than life itself. The man he couldn’t save—no matter how hard he tried—from the terrible cancer eating away at his body. As Jeffery Owen, his partner and lover of fifteen years, lay unconscious and seemingly peaceful, Brad watched him draw in and exhale short, steady breaths and listened to the constant blip-beep blip-beep blip-beep of the heart monitor, the only sign that Jeff was still alive.

 

He tried to remember happier times when their lives didn’t involve daily doctor’s appointments, harsh rounds of chemotherapy, and the many other experimental treatments he’d selfishly forced Jeff to endure. He tried to remember back to when Jeff was a healthy and strikingly handsome young architect with a client list envied by every other architect in his firm. A time when his own thriving practice—now sold—his research, and Jeff were all he needed in this world. They were happy and had the rest of their lives to look forward to.

 

Then that dreadful day came, with the news of Stage IV colon cancer. Their entire world was turned upside down in one day. After two years of fighting and enduring one experimental treatment after another, Jeff made the decision to stop everything. Brad had tried unsuccessfully to convince Jeff to keep fighting, but Jeff had had enough. Brad knew that the side effects of the treatments were probably worse than the effects of the cancer, at least early on, but he just thought that if they kept trying, something was bound to work. In the end, however, it was Jeff’s life and his decision, and like it or not, Brad had to accept it.

 

Everyone at the hospital knew Dr. Mitch and gave them as much privacy as Jeff’s medical needs would allow, which had been a blessing over the last couple of months. Before Jeff slipped into the coma, they’d had long hours just to be together and enjoy the time Jeff had left. Although Brad did his best to hide his breaking heart and grief, he knew Jeff was brutally aware of what he was going through. Jeff had once told him that if their positions were reversed, he couldn’t imagine how he would cope. Jeff had done the best he could to prepare and calm Brad, and to assure him that he was at peace with his decision. Jeff had also made him promise to go on with his life, to eventually accept the love and happiness that would surely come his way if he was open to it. He reluctantly promised, as he could never deny Jeff any request no matter how big or small, but he knew the promise was as empty as his heart. He couldn’t go on; he couldn’t imagine a life without Jeff, nor could he fathom falling in love again.

 

As Brad sat in the same uncomfortable hospital chair in which he’d sat for the last two and a half months, he didn’t feel anything but the empty world around him. Hand in hand and with his head on Jeff’s lap and his ear listening to as much as feeling his breaths, he noticed that Jeff’s breathing was becoming more and more unsteady and knew that his time on this earth was running out.

 

Suddenly, as if Jeff were forcing memories of happier times into Brad’s defeated body, events of their fifteen years together started to flash before his eyes. The smile on Jeff’s face when they together moved into their first home, which he had designed. How every Christmas morning Jeff made them wear goofy flannel pajamas and sit cross-legged around their Christmas tree, opening gifts. How funny Jeff looked at their Halloween party two years ago when he was in a wheelchair and insisted they dress up as Blanche and Baby Jane Hudson from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? How hot he looked in his scuba gear on their last diving trip to Bermuda. How happy and relaxed he was when they were on their yearly trip to Alaska. They’d had such a full, wonderful life, until…. They both thought they had a lifetime together, but fate had other plans. So here they were, Jeff unconsciously fighting for every breath and Brad not knowing which breath would be the last. God, how did it all come down to this and how will I ever survive?

Sensing that the end was near, Brad removed his shoes, climbed into the bed, slid his arm under Jeff’s neck, and held him close. For the first time since the diagnosis, his tears fell freely. Then the rise and fall of Jeff’s chest stopped, and the heart machine indicated a long, flat beep. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and calmly reached over and turned off the heart machine. Stone-cold silence.

 

With Jeff still in his arms, he gently kissed him on the lips and whispered, “So long, my love. Rest well.” He got out of the bed, picked up his shoes, and backed away from Jeff’s bed, never taking his eyes off his lover. When he reached the door, he stood there for what felt like hours; finally he turned and opened the door to what was left of his life.

 

The next few days were a blur. Friends consoled him, surrounded him, and tried to feed him, but he was just going through the motions. The memorial service and burial were exactly as Jeff wanted, simple and sweet; their friends saw to that. But as he thought back, he couldn’t remember a single detail or anything he’d said or anything that had been said to him. All he remembered was seeing a coffin holding the other half of his empty existence.

 

When the services were over and he’d forced his friends to go home, he was finally alone in the house he and Jeff had lived and loved in. He looked around and immediately knew he couldn’t stay in this house any longer, at least not right now. Everywhere he turned, something reminded him of his love and his loss.

 

Brad spent the next three hours packing his clothes and placed four suitcases at the front door. He wanted to take something to remember Jeff, but what? He took one last look around and decided to take the picture of him and Jeff on one of their many vacations to Hiline Lake in the Alaskan mountains. They both loved the wilderness and especially this spot; they often referred to Hiline Lake as “their spot.” They looked so happy then, and that’s all he wanted to remember. He put his suitcases on the front porch, called a cab, and closed and locked the front door. He didn’t know if he would ever be back, but he knew where he was going.

 

Chapter 1

 

BRAD arrived at the Seattle airport with no ticket, nor even a schedule of flights to Anchorage. He paid the cab driver, hailed a porter to carry his suitcases, and stood in line at the Alaska Air ticket counter. He bought a ticket on the next flight to Anchorage, where he would charter a floatplane to take him the extra sixty-five miles to Hiline Lake. He had two hours to kill and decided to call a couple of his close friends and let them know where he was going and not to worry, but he didn’t know when he would be back. He didn’t think he would ever be back, but he wasn’t up for lectures about how everything would get better. It wouldn’t get better, and he had to find a way to accept and live with that.

 

His flight to Anchorage was melancholy and uneventful. As they circled to land, he remembered the last time he and Jeff had landed in Anchorage and how happy they were to be on their way to the Alaskan wilderness again. That brought a smile to his face. Upon landing, he hailed a cab to take him to the Lake Hood Seaplane Base, where most of the mountain flights originated. When he arrived, as if on autopilot he walked over to the Trail Ridge Air kiosk, where he spotted a familiar face sitting behind a desk.

 

Mac looked up in surprise, not expecting to see Brad. McGovern Cleary, Mac to his friends, was the owner and pilot of the one-plane operation that Brad and Jeff had hired on their many trips to Hiline Lake.

 

The two men embraced, and Mac said, “Well, hey there, stranger. It’s been a long time. It’s so good to see you, Brad.” He looked over Brad’s shoulder and asked, “Where’s Jeff?”

 

Brad froze, feeling the blood drain from his face. He had never actually said the words out loud. Mac, sensing something bad, wished he could take back the words immediately, but it was too late.

 

“Jeff died three days ago, Mac,” he choked out.

 

“Oh my God, Brad. What happened?”

 

“Cancer,” he whispered. “He’d been fighting it for the last year and a half.”

 

“He looked fine the last time you guys were here,” Mac insisted.

 

“Yeah, well, he’d just been diagnosed, and we wanted to make the trip before he started the first rounds of chemotherapy,” Brad explained.

 

“Oh man, I’m so sorry,” Mac said. “What can I do?”

 

“Take me to Hiline Lake,” Brad said.

 

“Sure, Brad, anything. When do you want to leave?”

 

“The sooner the better. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep it together,” Brad said.

 

“No problem, give me thirty minutes to fuel up and file a flight plan.”

 

“Thanks, man, I really appreciate it.”

 

“Do you have a reservation at the lodge?” Mac asked.

 

“No, I didn’t really think that far ahead,” Brad responded.

 

“Let me call them on their satellite phone,” Mac said. “It’s been pretty busy up there the past couple of weeks. By the time we get up there, it’ll be close to dusk, so I’ll need a room too. I’ll fly back in the morning.”

 

“Are you sure?” Brad asked.

 

“I’m sure,” Mac said with a weak smile.

 

Brad waited while Mac made the call. Mac placed the telephone back in the receiver and said, “We’re all set. They just had a couple cabins of kayakers check out to do some camping on the lake.”

 

Brad lowered his head as he wiped a tear off his cheek and said, “I don’t know how to thank you, man.”

 

“No thanks needed. You’ll be okay while I fuel up?”

 

Brad nodded.

 

Twenty minutes later, Mac and Brad took off for the forty-minute flight to Hiline Lake. When they landed and taxied over to the plane dock, they were greeted by the lodge owners, Jake Elliot and Alexander Walsh.

 

Jake and Zander had built the lodge and operated it for the last ten years, and during Brad and Jeff’s many visits had developed a casual friendship with them. Luckily, Mac must have informed them of Brad’s situation when he called, as they each simply gave him a hug and silently walked him to the lodge.

 

Before heading to his room, he leaned in toward Mac’s ear and whispered, “Thanks for telling them. I don’t think I could have handled that again today.”

 

“I figured as much,” Mac said. “Listen, if you want to talk tonight or you want to have breakfast with me in the morning, just let me know. Even if you don’t want to talk, but just don’t want to be alone, I’m here, man, anytime, day or night. I’m in room twelve.”

 

“You’re a good friend, Mac. Thanks, man,” Brad said.

 

“I never told you and Jeff this,” Mac said, “but my wife died about a year before you started coming up to the lodge, so I know some of what you’re going through right now.”

 

“Mac, I’m so sorry. I wish we would have known.”

 

“Nothing you could have done, but I’m glad you know now,” Mac continued. “Maybe I can help you in some way.”

 

“I’m not sure anyone can help me, but thanks,” Brad said.

 

© Scotty Cade

 

Wings of Love

Author:  Scotty Cade

Publisher:Dreamspinner Press

Genre: GLT

Buy Link

Devastated after losing his partner of fifteen years to cancer, Dr. Bradford Mitchell tries to escape the emptiness and loss by leaving his life in Seattle behind. Traveling to the Alaskan mountains where he and Jeff often vacationed, Brad reconnects with Mac Cleary, the ruggedly handsome and very straight floatplane pilot who had flown them to Hyline Lake many times in the past. Brad and Mac form an unlikely friendship and buy an old log cabin together, and as he and Mac begin to bring the old cabin back to life, Mac watches Brad come back to life as well, stirring emotions in him he’s never felt for a man before.

When fear, confusion, and a near tragedy threaten to force the two men apart, they’ll face some tough questions. Can Brad let go of Jeff and the guilt he feels about beginning to care for another man? And can Mac deal with his fears of being gay and accept the fact that he is in love with Brad? It will be a struggle for both men to keep their heads and hearts intact while exploring what life has to offer.

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Excerpt Day - A Murderous Weekend by Gillian Ferry

Excerpt

 

Kate stared out of the Jeep’s window. It was snowing quite hard now, and she found herself mesmerized by the swirling flakes driving toward her. She enjoyed the distraction because, for the first time in days, her mind was still. Free from the image of her boyfriend having sex with another woman in their bed.

 

Not that he was any great loss, she consoled herself. If she’d had more guts, she would have ended the relationship months ago. Never mind. She was going to enjoy the next few days. A tingle of excitement gripped her tummy; she’d always wanted to go on a murder mystery weekend. She took the invite out of her purse and read it yet again.

 

To Emma Strobes,

In gratitude for all your hard work in making Macro Builds a success, you are invited to Georgia House for a weekend of intrigue and murder!

She hadn’t been able to believe it when Emma, who claimed to be far to busy to go, offered her the chance to go instead. Especially as they weren’t particularly close anyway. Emma didn’t have many female friends. But Kate knew it was less about being generous and more about spending time in bed with her boss while his wife was away. Still, all Kate had to do was answer to the name of Emma and one fabulous weekend was to be hers.

 

The snow was still falling as the Jeep pulled up outside Georgia House. Situated in the highlands of Scotland it was the impressive get-away home of Paul Rhodes, managing director and founder of Macro Builds.

 

As she climbed down from the 4x4, Kate looked around her at the beautiful, if isolated, site. Fields blanketed by snow surrounded the main building, and they in turn gave way to a wall of trees. Beyond that it was impossible to tell as the snow had created an impenetrable wall of white.

 

Kate turned, trying to take in the house, but the weather made it impossible. All that could be gained was an image of size and solidity. She noticed that the others had already entered through a rather grand doorway, and she hurried forward to catch up.

 

A somewhat large lady was addressing everyone in the entrance hall. She carried an air of brisk efficiency that demanded attention. She might have looked like everyone’s favorite grandma with her tight grey curls and plump, rosy cheeks, but her manner was severe and business-like. “Welcome to Georgia House. My name is Mrs. Hades, and I’m the housekeeper. Mr. Rhodes is sorry he could not be here to greet you himself, but unfortunately he has pressing business abroad. You will be escorted up to your rooms, where I hope everything is in order. Once you’ve settled in there shall be hot drinks available in the drawing room followed by dinner at seven.” She took a deep breath then lowered her voice, continuing in what she presumably thought was a menacing hiss. “Then at some point after that, a murder shall occur!”

 

Kate heard a suppressed snigger from one of the others in the group. There were six altogether, and Kate hoped they would get to know each other better over the weekend.

 

“Excuse me, Miss Strobes.”

 

Kate looked at the maid blankly, then realisation hit. “Yes, yes that’s me. Of course it is. Silly thing to say,” she exclaimed, following the bemused maid to the stairs.

 

Wow, thought Kate. She owed Emma big time. The house was fabulous, and she couldn’t stop staring. It was just the place for a murder mystery weekend. Very Agatha Christie. The entrance hall was huge and decorated in very heavy, luxurious colors. The mahogany staircase swept up past enormous portraits encased within gilt frames. The carpet was a rich patterned red that complimented the many tapestries hung from the walls, most of which depicted hunting scenes of one type or another. The impression of wealth was sealed by the presence of an elaborate chandelier hanging down the centre of the staircase, ending just before it touched the floor.

 

Kate thought of her small flat in Chelsea. It would probably fit three times over in the entrance hall alone. The upper landing was equally opulent with thick wooden doors spaced along the length, while heavy wooden furniture filled the gaps in between.

 

“This,” sighed Kate, “is how I was meant to live!”

 

“You and me both, Miss Strobes,” said the maid.

 

“Please, call me K…Emma,” said Kate, embarrassed by the maid’s formality.

 

“My name’s Jane, Emma,” the maid replied. “And this is your room.”

 

Jane opened the door and held it for her to pass. As Kate stepped inside, the grandeur nearly overwhelmed her. Not only was it massive, it was beautiful. An enormous four poster bed dominated the room dressed in a rich, red satin throw and piled high with gold cushions. Heavy tapestries hung from the walls, and in front of a set of elegant French windows stood a chaise lounge, embroidered in gold and red thread. The furniture was made of heavy oak with patterns and swirls carved into its sturdy exterior. Despite the room’s size, it was lovely and warm, courtesy of a large open fire on the wall opposite the bed.

 

“I’ll let you unpack,” Jane said, no doubt used to the incredulous stares of the houseguests.

 

Once the maid had gone, Kate threw herself backward onto the bed. “Yes!” she shouted. This weekend was going to be fantastic.

 

© Gillian Ferry 

 

A Murderous Weekend

Author:  Gillian Ferry

Publisher:Cobblestone Press

Genre: Erotic Romance

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Kate can't believe her luck when she is given the opportunity to attend a lavish weekend of Murder Mystery fun. Unfortunately make-believe becomes reality as one after the other the guests become victims of a malicious killer.

Now the isolated beauty of the Scottish Highlands seems sinister and cruel. Kate doesn't know who to trust and who to run from. Should she place her faith Sam, gorgeous and desirable but obviously hiding something? Or try to protect herself from an evil killer?

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Excerpt day - Dream Master © Claire Thompson

Excerpt

 

He chose that moment to push back from his chair and she hurriedly looked away, feeling more like a thirteen-year-old in a school cafeteria than a professional woman doing legitimate research in a law library. She watched from the corner of her eye as Phillip moved back toward the shelves, his body now in profile as he perused them. He reached for a book and withdrew it. Though she'd meant to look away, for some reason she couldn't seem to, and as he walked back toward his table their eyes met.

 

She pressed her lips together to keep from letting the ridiculous gasp that wanted to get out from escaping. She looked down at her notebook, her cheeks again flaming as she stared, unseeing, at the words on the page.

 

"You're Ella, right?"

 

Unlike the clear, rich baritone he'd had in the dream, Phillip's real voice was little more than a rasping whisper. For a split second she thought he was trying to be quiet because they were in a library, but quickly realized that made no sense, as they were alone. Then she recalled what she'd heard about the car accident, and the loss of his voice.

 

"Yes," she said, not quite daring to meet his eyes, aware from the heat that her cheeks and neck were still flushed.

 

"You work with Gordon Fletcher and Amy Kennedy, is that right?" She liked how he said worked with, rather than worked for. She nodded. "And it's going okay? You settling into the routine of this place by now?"

 

Ella found the husky, hoarse whisper kind of sexy. "Yes," she repeated, as she tried to come up with something else to say, just so he'd keep those lovely brown eyes fixed on her. She could smell him now, a clean scent of soap and the barest hint of spice. She had a crazy desire to bury her nose against his neck and inhale. She could feel her nipples perking against the confines of her bra and silently prayed they weren't visible against the grey silk of her blouse.

 

Though never especially eloquent at the best times, surely she could come up with something more than yes, over and over, like some kind of tongue-tied parrot. "I'm working with Gordon on the Stevenson case," she finally offered.

 

Phillip nodded. "Well, don't let me disturb you," he said and silently she cursed herself, aware he'd assumed from her remark that she was busy and wanted to get back to it. Which she was, of course, busy that is, but she found she did not want to get back to it. She wanted to stare at Phillip Arden instead. She wanted to tell him about her dreams.

 

She ducked her head down instead, almost glad when he took the books he'd pulled from the shelves and headed toward the library door. "Catch you later," he croaked, before shutting the door softly behind him. Ella stared at the door for a while, and then sighed.

 

Just imagine if people really did what they wanted and said what they were thinking? Just imagine if she'd actually said aloud, "I've had two very vivid sexual dreams about you, Phillip. In both of them you were this super sexy Dom dressed in black leather, whipping a naked, bound girl, while I watched, masturbating in the darkness above you."

 

Yeah, that would go over real well, she was sure! After he stared at her in horrified disbelief, he'd hightail it over to Stratton's office to let him know they'd hired a raving lunatic who was making inappropriate sexual advances toward him.

 

Last night's dream rose in her mind with sudden, vivid clarity. There he was so tall and proud, turning back to look up at her, raking her naked body with his insolent stare, his lips curling into that ironic half smile that seemed to say, I know your secrets.

 

She sighed again and shook her head. She really needed to get out more. She needed to find a nice, boring vanilla man to distract her from these lurid fantasies. As if that would work. Roger had been vanilla, and even though she'd tried to gently, subtly steer him toward D/s play, he'd rarely taken the hint. He just wasn't wired that way. And she, she had to admit whether she liked it or not, was.

 

Ah, well, if nothing else, at least she had these sexy dreams to ponder. Two nights in a row would there be a third? As she packed up her notebook and returned the books to their shelves, Ella began to hum. Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily...

 

~*~

 

Though Ella usually had to read for a long time before she felt sleepy enough to turn out the light, that night she was too restless to concentrate on her novel. She turned off the lamp and closed her eyes, letting her mind slide over the dreams of the past two nights, recalling each with as much detail as she could remember.

 

Would tonight be her turn? Would she finally be allowed off the perch? Was she ready? "It's just a dream, Ella," she said aloud. "It's not like you can control what happens."

 

She closed her eyes and slid down into the arms of sleep...

 

© Claire Thompson

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Dream Master

Author: Claire Thompson

Publisher: Romance Unbound

Genre: BDSM

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Ella Stanford and Phillip Arden work in the same law office and both agree that work and romance shouldn't mix. When Ella begins to have erotic dreams that include Phillip as a nameless Master in a sumptuous castle, she is drawn to the real man, though she knows better than to believe that dreams resemble reality. Little does she realize that Phillip, too, is visited by these same powerful, secret dreams involving Ella's sexual slavery and erotic submission.

In the increasingly bizarre and dangerous alternate dream world, sexy fantasy becomes an all-too-real and dangerous reality. Will Ella and Phillip be able to resist their growing and undeniable attraction to each other, while finding a way to overcome the cruel, powers that control their parallel dreams?

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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Reviews – Revenge and Redemption © Jennie Brumley & Dangerous Passion © Lisa Marie Rice

Revenge and Redemption

Author: Jennie Brumley

Publisher: Ravenous Romance

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How far will one man go to avenge his sister, his last remaining family...

Luke Hardcastle is a man on a mission. No one hurts his little sister and gets away with it. No matter how small the role she played might have been, Penny Royale helped her aunt destroy Luke’s sister, and now she will help him destroy her aunt…or he’ll destroy her instead.

How far will one woman go to protect her newfound freedom, and her inexperienced heart...

Finally free of her domineering aunt, Penny Royale knows peace of mind for the first time. And she’ll do anything to protect that peace. Even submit to blackmail. But when being blackmailed means pretending to be the mistress of the tall, dark and wickedly handsome Luke Hardcastle, the man she’s loved from afar for so long, how will she ever survive when his thirst for vengeance is satisfied…and he no longer needs her?

My thoughts

This was one of those books that has been hanging round the TBR pile for too long. I saw this last year when it was released and loved the cover .

This is quite a simply story, revenge that turns to attraction and whole lot of nonsense in-between.  will admit i am a fan of this type of plotline and set up SO Luke was not difficult to sell  to me – he was classics alpha male protag – feels that he or his family has been wrong and goes about his own way (fair or foul) to get his revenge)

Of course the unexpected happen and Luke has to change his approach when he actually meets Penny. With a few well placed support, like the dastardly aunts and the sister who had more heart than anyone realised I had a good time reading this book.

REVENGE AND REDEMPTION has a nice pace to it and while the connection between Luke and Penney was a bit fast in my opinion the love scenes were really hot and I had fun with some the characters that tried to get involved in making Luke and Penny’s connection work.

If you are looking for angst heavy or even action pact material this is not it – this is more sweet than anything else. One of the thing I really liked about this was that the focus of the revenge was on one main party and I thought that held true through the book and everything else that happened was just a means to an end.

Not a bad read and I will be trying this authors work again..

 

Dangerous Passion

Dangerous #3

Author: Lisa Marie Rice

Publisher: Avon Red

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Feelings kill faster than bullets.

That is Drake's creed. A legend, a renegade, a ruthless, powerful enigma understood by no one and feared by all, Viktor "Drake" Drakovich heads up a billion-dollar empire—and shows no mercy to the many enemies who would stop at nothing to destroy him. He is a man with no love and no weakness, until...

Grace Larsen takes Drake's breath away the first time he sees her—and quickly becomes his obsession. Never before has he burned for someone the way he desires this hauntingly beautiful artist who is plagued by troubling dreams. He aches to possess her, to protect her, to carry her to new heights of sensuous arousal and rapturous release.

But entering Drake's world means becoming a target—for relentless, bloodthirsty foes have been eagerly waiting for him to expose his weak spot. And the price of their passion may be their lives.

My Thoughts

There is something about this authors work that keeps me coming back, despite the fact that I normally have niggles aplenty. If pushed I would say it’s the characters that I like, I like the logistical details that she has going on in her books as well – Although this book was based almost entirely stateside most of the books I have read by her has a Soviet  connection and DANGEROUS PASSION is no different.

Drake has been mentioned in the previous two books in the series and while I didn’t think he would get a story it was actually nice to see the underbelly of crime being delved into.

There is something so basic about criminal, want, greed, jealousy – all the avarices that means getting rich quick or being on “top of the hill” and this it how it begins – one man feels he has paid his price in the slums and war torn parts of the world long enough and now it’s his turn to mix with the cream of the crop atop the crime world.

And thus begins a war that sees Drake who has fought and build up an empire, again having to defend said empire – but there is an added twist this time, Drake’s one obsession is found out and her name is Grace Larsen. Grace is an artist and although Drake fell in love with her work first , after watching her for a year he is more than a little in love with her and he certainly does not want her being hurt because of his lifestyle.

DANGEROUS PASSION was such a fast pace little read, everything seems to happen all at one and the intensity of some of the rage was well placed and really drew me into this story. Both of the protags history was nicely glossed over but I am used to that with this author’s work, however what I got was enough detail to see that Drake and Grace would make a good match.

Grace was a lot ditzy in my opinion but I liked her and Drake was just so worldly but knew that this woman was the one for him. I always love a protag that knows how to plot and Drake certainly knew how to do that, even up to the end when I thought some things would never end he made good.

I really enjoyed this series and despite the multitude of niggles I have with this authors work – I will probably be the first in the line to get her next release..

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