Tag Archive | Review

Minx ~ Tour ~ Review

Minx 
Author: Maggie Adams 
Release Date: April 30th, 2019 
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romantic Comedy 
Cover Designer: Backcover KLPS
A romantic comedy about friendships, flirtations, and the elusive “Fantasm!” 
Hi! I’m Miranda Blake and this is my story. Well, sort of. It’s more like a twisted fairytale, if you believe in them. Except there’s no beautiful, young princess with perky breasts, perfectly coiffed hair and a sassy attitude. I’m closing in on fifty, thirty pounds overweight according to Weight Watchers, and, after nursing two kids and that bitch, gravity, doing her job, I’m lucky the ladies don’t hit my knees. The gorgeous brown mane of hair is slightly frizzy from my ridiculous attempts to recapture my youth by dyeing the hell out of it. As for sassy attitude, well, it wasn’t so long ago that I was a doormat. And the charming prince who sweeps me off my feet into the life of my dreams? I have a dog called Prince, German Shepherd, who knocks me on my ass if I’m in the way when the doorbell rings. Does that count? 
“I want a divorce.”
 
I paused and looked up from packing our suitcases for our anniversary trip to Aruba. The ambient light he had insisted upon when we remodeled barely illuminated his form much less his facial expression. I didn’t mind the lighting usually, it smoothed over the slight imperfections on our bodies and made everything look soft and supple. Tonight, I would have given my left boob for one of those interrogation lights you see on detective shows.
 
“I’m sorry. What did you say?” Like the doormat I am, I continued to fold his underwear into the case. The frustration coming from his voice was enough to convince me he was telling the truth, but I didn’t want to believe him. So, I continued to fold the damn clothes like an idiot, hoping this was his idea of a twisted joke at my expense. I’d had a lot of those over the years.
 
“You heard me, Miranda.” He raked his right hand through his graying hair. For a moment, I felt a twinge of envy. Men were so damn lucky in growing older. The gray or the glasses made them look sophisticated and worldly. I, however, looked like that myopic frizzy haired witch in those wizard movies. I blinked, returning his frown with a slight smile.
 
“You don’t mean that,” I said, shaking my head. I could feel the panic beginning to rise. What if he did mean it? What would I do? I’d given up my job as a journalist over twenty-five years ago to get married and have children. I’d stayed home, the perfect housewife and mother, because that’s the way he wanted it. Anger began to replace the panic. I’d given up my dreamsto allow him his and this is how he repays me?
 
The clothes were packed so I started toward the bathroom to fill the toiletries. Brushing past him, I was surprised when he grabbed my arm. “You’re not listening! God, you do this every time there’s something you don’t want to hear. Do you know how annoying that is?”
 
Annoying? Avoiding confrontation was annoying?? I almost laughed out loud. If he only knew how many times I had wanted to scream at him, to insist he listen to me for once. Perhaps I should let fly right now and really let the bastard have it. After all, he deserved it with this stupid demand.
 
Who the hell gets divorced after twenty-five years? I mean, that’s like the last year to make a change, isn’t it? After that, you take stock of your life, decide that it may not be all you dreamed of but it’s good enough, and you wait each other out on the death sentence.
 
I opened my mouth to tell him just that when I noticed he had moved away and was shuffling through the suitcase. “What in the hell are you doing?” I growled at him as I began refolding my things. “We are going on our anniversary cruise tomorrow morning. I need to pack. You need to get a grip on whatever this male menopause thing is and be ready to enjoy our trip.”
 
Oh my God! Did I just say that out loud? I peeked up at him. His mouth was opening and closing like a fish out of water. I watched the blood rush from his throat to his head. Yep, I’d said it out loud. He grabbed my arms and pushed me into the desk chair. I was suddenly frightened. How odd! I’d never been frightened of him before. Perhaps it was because his face was so close, I could smell the whiskey on his breath, see myself in his eyes. But more than likely it was because he had his fingers around my throat, and he was squeezing.
 
“Pay attention, Miranda. I no longer want you. I no longer desire you. You have become an albatross weighing me down. We are divorcing and that’s final. You go your way and I go mine. I take what is mine and you take what is yours.” He released me and stepped back to the suitcase, calmly taking out my clothes once again.
 
“The kids?” I gasped out, rubbing the sting from the skin of my throat.
 
“The kids are adults. They will be fine.” He closed the suitcase with a snap. “I’m going on the cruise. When I return, I expect you to be out of the house. Everything can be handled through our lawyers.”
 
The cruise. My clothes. His silences. I closed my eyes against the knowledge of my own stupidity. “Who is she?” 
 
I could feel his stare. He was weighing whether to tell me, so it must be someone I knew. “It doesn’t matter.”
 
I opened my eyes. “It does to me.”
 
For the first time, he looked uneasy. He cleared his throat. “It’s Megan Clark. As soon as our divorce is final, she’ll be Megan Blake.”
 
“Our daughter’s tennis coach?!” I shot up from the chair. “You’ve been fucking our daughter’s tennis coach?!” This threw my anger into high gear like nothing else could. He could mess with me all he wanted, but to deliberately hurt our daughter, use her for his selfish desires? 
 
I pushed him out the bedroom door. “You cheating sack of shit! You find my avoidance of issues, annoying, well, let me help you clear the air! I find your constant handling of your balls annoying, your clearing your throat then swallowing phlegm annoying, your constant critique of everyone else annoying, your pompous attitude about my friends annoying,” I took a deep breath, noting with satisfaction that he now clutched the suitcase to his chest in defense, and screamed at the top of my lungs. “But mostly I find your selfish, narcissistic, cloying attempts to be the man you need to be but fall far short of, to be ANNOYING!”
 
“You’re insane!” he whispered, horrified at my display. 
 
He scrambled down the stairs and headed for the garage as I continued to hail insults down upon his head. “You’re a terrible father to do this to your children! You’re homemade wine tastes like raspberry piss water! Your mother’s potato salad sucked!”
 
I saved the best for last. One that would ultimately worm its way into his psyche and take root. One this narcissistic rat bastard couldn’t help but take to heart. The one thing I had to constantly praise him on. 
 
I smiled as he hurried into the car. “You’re a mediocre fuck, Dale. You’re a one trick pony in bed and your balls smell like vegetable soup!” I made sure to imprint the look of horror and disgust on his face as he backed out of our garage to go to his lover.
 
It was only hours later, as I slid onto the sheets of the bed in the guestroom, that I realized throughout the entire confrontation, neither of us had mentioned love. That made me sad for a moment, then a profound relief took hold and I began to cry. I hadn’t realized how tight I had been wound. Fuckin’ twenty-five years and I finally get a do-over. I closed my eyes and dreamed.
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REVIEW:

Minx was a fun read! Hilarious mixed with OMG I’d so do that if it happened to me. Newly separated/divorced Miranda-now Randi-oops, maybe not-is let loose on the world. Newly poked, prodded, redressed, and coiffed by her gaggle of girlfriends to face life and getting rid of the excess weight of the loser hubby, she still would like to curl up in bed and watch TV or read a book. Too bad her friends know better. Forced to find her way in the dating and working world after taking care of the loser and her children after twenty five years is a shock. Getting the job is easier than she hoped, but the men-not so much. Especially when it involves brothers!

Grab Minx, laugh and know there is hope for middle aged women! Especially if you too would be vertically challenged in high heels!

Maggie Adams is an Amazon Best Selling contemporary romance author. Her first book in the Tempered Steel Series, Whistlin’ Dixie, debuted in Amazon’s Top 100 for Women’s Fiction, humor, on November, 2014 and then again at #61 in 2016. Since then, she has consistently made the Amazon best seller 5-star list with Leather and Lace, Something’s Gotta Give, Love, Marriage & Mayhem, and Forged in Fire. Her series has launched the tiny town of Grafton, Illinois, into International recognition with sales in Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and the UK.
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New Releases by Crimson Romance!

Hearts Unleashed by Paris Wynters

The shared love of a retired military dog unexpectedly brings together two PTSD survivors in this heartfelt debut novel.

After an IED ends his military career, Major John Rathborne struggles to re-adjust to civilian life. Haunted by the death of his brother-in-arms, John’s determined to find his canine partner, Koda, now retired and re-homed. The last place he expects to find her is on a ranch in Absarokee, Montana, where he lands a foreman job and a chance at a new start.

Contemporary
Sensuality Level: Sensual

 

Author Bio:
Paris Wynters loves running along the boardwalks of New York City beaches, the place where her characters and story ideas come to life. Find Paris on Facebook and Twitter @ParisWynters.

ReVieW: 5 Stars

Hearts Unleashed was a clash of two broken people. John and Katie have first hand knowledge of trauma and heartbreak. Unwilling to share their pasts, they both rely on Koda. The dog that loves them both. Koda knows and they will learn that their hearts are bigger than they thought.

A heartfelt and wonderfully emotive story line and true depth to the characters made this a book a wonderful read. Tears fell and chuckles erupted while I read. Sometimes I just wanted to shake a little sense into each of them! I’m definitely glad I took the chance to read Hearts Unleashed.

 

The French Duchess by Rue Allyn 

In this rollicking Regency novel, a breathless chase through England and France to stop an assassination attempt on Napoleon leads to love.

Like the Englishmen who faced down the French army, the men who love Marielle Petersham, Duchess of Stonegreave, usually die. Hence, the ton has dubbed her the French Duchess. After a particularly notorious indiscretion, Marielle retired from society, determined to immerse herself in good works to wash the stain from her family name for the next generations.

Captain Sir Richard Campion despises his childhood friend for the mess she made of her life, especially since it led to his best friend’s death. But now Richard has been tasked by the Crown to stop a plot to assassinate Napoleon Bonaparte that could plunge Europe back into war. Marielle is the one person who holds a clue to the plotters, and so he must seek her out and discover where her loyalties lie, even if it involves a bit of subterfuge.

As they dash through France, determined to head off disaster, old affections begin to reignite. But can they truly trust one another long enough to save the continent?

 

Historical
Sensuality Level: Sensual

 

Author Bio:
Historical romance author Rue Allyn lives in southeast Michigan with the love of her life and one tyrannical cat, where she works daily on making Happy Ever After come true. Find Rue Allyn at RueAllyn.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @RueAllyn.

 

‘Til Death Do Us Part by Eliza Daly (Releases October 16th)

After a wedding planner becomes a corporate scapegoat, the only job she can get is arranging over-the-top themed funerals. When an eccentric Milwaukee heiress dies, her last wish is for Cassidy to find her single nephew Ryan a bride. Cassidy is determined to find him a soulmate to launch a new matchmaking career, but Ryan only wants a Ms. Right Now to fulfill the will. But when they start falling for each other, destiny steps in in this fun romantic comedy.

 

Contemporary
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

 

Author Bio:
When Eliza Daly isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband, Mark, and her cats Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy. Find Eliza Daly at www.elizadaly.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @ElizasBooks.

 

Slap Shot: Bryant (Nashville Sound #2) by Alicia Hunter Pace (Releases October 23rd)

In the second book of USA Today bestselling author Alicia Hunter Pace’s new Nashville Sound hockey series, tragedy has taught defenseman Bryant Taylor never to look back and never get serious about a woman again. But when he meets his teammate’s sister, Gabriella Charbonnet, he’s instantly attracted to her. When Bryant and Gabriella find themselves thrown together at a society fundraiser, sparks fly. But Gabriella wants nothing to do with hockey players, aside from her brother, who just so happens to be Bryant’s best friend. The first rule of the bro code? Don’t mess with sisters.

 

Contemporary
Sensuality Level: Sensual

Author Bio:
Stephanie Jones and Jean Hovey write together as Alicia Hunter Pace. Stephanie lives in Jasper, Alabama. She is a native Alabamian who likes football, civil war history, and people who follow the rules. She is happy to provide a list of said rules to anyone who needs them. Jean lives in Decatur, AL, with her husband in a hundred-year-old house that always wants something from her. She likes to cook but has discovered the joy of Mrs. Paul’s fish fillets since becoming a writer.

Liar, Liar (McIntire County #4) by Winter Austin (Releases October 30th)

It’s an undeniable slow burn when a cowboy sheriff and a by-the-book FBI agent are forced to team up to solve a string of murders and arson in this satisfying conclusion to the McIntire County series.  FBI agent Liza Bartholomew’s search for a scam artist reluctantly leads her back to rural Eider, Iowa, but then she meets Sheriff Shane Hamilton as they’re forced to collaborate to catch a criminal and sparks fly. As the body count mounts, Liza and Shane find themselves and everyone they love in the immediate crosshairs. What will they sacrifice—including their own hearts—to stop a cold-blooded killer in time?

 

Romantic suspense
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

 

Author Bio:
Winter Austin perpetually answers the question “were you born in the winter?” with a flat “nope.” Living in the middle of Nowheresville, Iowa, with her husband and four teenagers, Winter is trying to juggle a crazy schedule with a career while writing deadly romantic thrillers. Find Winter Austin at www.winteraustin.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @WinterAustin_.

 

And just in time for Halloween!

Cloaked in Sorcery (Wulfkin Legacy #6) by T. F. Walsh (Releases October 30th)

This humorous sexy shifter novel is the perfect read for All Hallow’s Eve! Kalin Asen wants to be the best fortune-teller at the infamous Bran Castle in Transylvania this Halloween. It should be a no-brainer … until she crosses paths with gorgeous Russian wulfkin army commander Axe Vuk. When a witch hexes everyone at the castle to lose their inhibitions, Axe can’t tell if his growing attraction is a result of the spell or whether Kalin truly is his soul mate. When the night takes a deadly turn, it’s a race against time to stop the Wulfkin from chomping down on every human in the castle. Will Kalin and Axe survive long enough to discover the truth behind their primal passions?

 

Paranormal
Sensuality Level: Sensual

 

Author Bio:
T.F. Walsh emigrated from Romania to Australia at the age of eight and now lives in a regional city south of Sydney with her husband. Growing up hearing dark fairytales, she’s always had a passion for reading and writing horror, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and fantasy stories. She balances all the dark with light fluffy stuff like baking and traveling. Find T.F. Walsh at www.tfwalsh.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @tfwalsh. Sign up for T.F. Walsh’s newsletter to keep up to date on her latest releases at http://www.tfwalsh.com/subscribe-to-my-newsletter/.

 

Have you thought about leaving a review?

Book covers

I would love it if you reviewed my books. Have you read them? Enjoyed them? 

Leave a review! 

Every review gives my books a chance to be seen and read by more people. It doesn’t have to be a lot of words even. Amazon makes you leave at least twenty words. That shouldn’t be too hard. It’s the time it takes though! I know, I know. I don’t always take the time either! 

I don’t want phony reviews. I know not everyone will love my books. I write contemporary and paranormal romance. I don’t expect that someone read something they know they wouldn’t like. (Believe me, people do it ALL THE TIME!) 

I’ve had a few of those! If it’s a genre you read, then take a chance. Leave your honest opinion. 

Where? Any place you purchased it!

You can also leave reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

So, since it is such a pain, lol, for the average reader to leave a review, if you do, I have an incentive.

Review any of my books and enter my rafflecopter. Each review link for any review of my books that you write, at any location will count as a separate entry.

What is the prize?

Yup. The magenta one! A 7″ Kindle Fire.

The rafflecopter opens today, July 9th and runs through August 19th. Winner will be announced on Sunday August 21st. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please share this with your reader friends!

Sass ~ Release Day Blitz ~ Laramie Briscoe

Author Laramie Briscoe brings you her next standalone  novel, SASS.


 

 

I, Cassandra Straight, have loved Reed Shamrock to distraction since I was a teenager. I even watched him fall in love with someone else and almost get married. 
A year ago, when he walked into his house and found his fiancée’s face in his best friend’s crotch, his life changed forever and it hasn’t been the same since.

 

On his first night out since the horrible incident, we run into the ex-skank. Seeing the devastation in his eyes, I made a promise that I would help him get over her. I told him that a pretend relationship between us would work. It would help him move on.

 

I didn’t count on my heart or his getting in the way. And I sure as hell didn’t count on not being able to tell when pretend turned to reality. When it all implodes, the only thing left is the truth. 

 

Sometimes though, the truth? It hides and we have to dig deep to find it. To make it come to the surface, we have to give it a little talking to. We have to give it a little Sass.


Review 1

I loved the characters. The banter between Cassandra and Reed was entertaining and kept the story moving. Regardless of the fact that Reed didn’t love her, not like she wanted, didn’t keep Cassandra from helping him out. The good thing was that it opened his eyes. Her sass and snarkiness shook Reed up and helped him start to live again.

I finished Sass before I knew it, before I was ready for it to end! Witty and charming Sass and Reed’s story pulled me in and kept me up late, finishing it in one sitting. All the characters were well evolved and made me want to read more. The story line was steamy, convoluted and I rooted for Sass to get her man. A good man deserves a good woman and Sass was that!

Well worth the read, don’t miss getting your copy of Sass and sit back to get involved, swear at the idiots, and squeeze your book as you sit glued to see how it will all work out.

Sass gives me a bored, disbelieving look as she pushes her sunglasses down on her nose so her eyes are exposed to mine.
“Are you sure you put fish in this pond? Have you fed them? Have they died? Did they leave you for someone who actually cared? Two hours, Reed, and we haven’t gotten a bite.”
Her tone is accusing, and I can’t help but laugh. “I hope they haven’t died. I spent a shit ton stocking it, and yes, I do make sure they’re fed. Maybe we’re not casting in the right place,” I defend myself. Cutting my eye towards her, I throw out another option. “Maybe our bait sucks.”
She’d brought the bait, and I can see her get her back up.
“Chicken livers have never failed me before, thank you very fuckin’ much. They are a family hand-me-down, tested, tried, and true for many generations.”
“Well, honey, it seems like this is a first.”
I don’t see the handful of mud until it hits the side of my head. I’m shocked as I shake my head, trying to get it out of my hair. “Sass.” My voice is a warning. “Did you mean to throw mud at me?”
She holds another handful. “Don’t you ever talk bad about my decision to use chicken livers as bait.” She smirks, taking aim again.
I’m quick as I leap from my chair and tackle her to the soft ground. She squeals as I push her further into the ground, getting both of us muddy. “I give!” she yells.
As we roll around, I laugh. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to have fun with someone like this. It never even entered my mind with Lacey. She wasn’t a fun girl, she took things way too seriously, and Sass is like a balm for my soul. I roll again so she’s underneath me. “I think we should head back. If we let this mud dry, we’ll never get it off.” My mouth is inches away from hers. Her dark eyes look into my light ones, and she lifts her head to press her lips against mine. All too soon the kiss is over.
Amazon UK  http://goo.gl/mndAGN
Amazon CA  http://goo.gl/mm9zWv
Amazon AU  http://goo.gl/cB73T4
BN  Coming Soon!
Google Play  https://goo.gl/SS6A8c

 

THE BEAST BY A.R. DAVIS

 

the beast banner
PRESENTED BY
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Title: The Beast
Author: A.R. Davis
Audience: Young Adult    the beast gif
Genre: Fantasy
Format: E-book and Paperback
Publisher: Alice Davis
Cover by: Joseph Bradley
Editor: Kathrin DePue
Pages: 438
ISBN: 1514781743
ASIN: B010QVQ9RA
Date Published: 7/7/2015

blurb (6)

The citizens of Leola live in fear of the dense, dark forest that borders their town. Men disappear into the brush or are found dismembered as if they were attacked by a rabid Beast. But fear of a different kind also breeds in the citizens of Leola. For Valerie Mason, starvation is worse than potentially disappearing. With her former guardsman father drowning his troubles in spirits, it’s up to Valerie to keep them afloat by any means necessary…even if it means breaking the law.   Young Aubrey, the future Lord of Leola, fears that once he dies, the pages of his personal history will be left blank. When he hears of the dangers threatening his town, he knows the only way ensure that he lives on in the memory of his people is to venture into the forest and defend it himself…even if it might cost him his life. Valerie and Young Aubrey must each breach the veil of trees again and again on their own quests. Will Valerie or Young Aubrey emerge victorious, or will they fall victim to their own demons and The Beast?
book links (4)
Amazon (1)   goodreads
excerpt (6)

 

Chapter 1

Valerie Mason emerged from the relative quiet of the forest and stepped back into the town of Leola just as the sun peaked above the buildings. She carried a bag of two dead rabbits whose blood was seeping through the bottom. She wrapped her arms around the bundle and walked as quickly and inconspicuously as she could, though the obvious tears around the skirt of her dress made it hard for her to blend in with the crowd. The hunters would not appreciate her encroaching on their territory again. She had been scolded a few times. The last time, they had taken her cargo away from her. She could not afford to have that happen again.
On her way to the marketplace, she passed the pub her father frequented. Valerie wondered if her father was in there now. She had half a mind to go look, but it would only delay her and it was quite useless otherwise. Last night, her father had returned home with a black eye and shards of glass embedded in his arm. With their combined salary, they were able to cover most of the doctor’s expenses. Whenever Valerie had any doubts about the necessity of her going into the forest to steal, she was reminded of the reason she had to continue with this dirty business. If Valerie refused to steal meat from the hunters’ traps, they would have had to choose between rent and supper—or doctor’s visits and rent and supper. Was it so wrong with the fact that she did not want them to starve?
Her father was, of course, apologetic as always, and as always, she forgave him before the words were even out of his mouth. It was easier for Valerie to forgive than to be angry with him. After all, he was all she had left, and she could not lose him, even if sometimes it felt like he was determined to be lost. Her father assured her that the other man struck first. The childish part of Valerie wanted to ask, “But why did you have to strike back?”
Valerie turned sixteen the previous spring, and she was too old to ask such naïve questions. She was of age to be considered for marriage, but there were no suitors lining up at her door, not that Valerie was interested in such things. She was only thinking about her father. Although, if she married, it might be easier to take care of him.
The town of Leola was drinking in the remains of late-summer. Women hung their laundry out the window, on the line between buildings. Wet slopping sounds of waste being tossed down into the alleyways could be heard as it spilled down the cobble-stone streets toward the main road. Lord Aubrey’s guardsmen marched in a unified line carrying rifles, their metal armor winking in the sunlight. Several passersby waved hello to Valerie, and she waved back cautiously. Children ran breathlessly as they chased each other, their laughter ringing in the air and mixing with the incoherent shouts of stall owners. Horses clopped lazily along pulling their carriages with heads bowed low as though they feared to make eye contact with beings around them. The aromas of waste, horse hide, and baking bread created a strange concoction in the air. All of this blended together to form the smell of the town that Valerie knew best.
She stopped in front of the tailor’s display window. The tailor himself was arranging a beautiful emerald gown for all of Leola to see. There was already a group of girls standing in front of the window, pointing, giggling, and gossiping. Valerie took a moment to imagine herself in that gown. Maybe she would join the girls in their gossip. Maybe she would be invited to one of Lord Aubrey’s parties, and he would be so impressed by her wit and charm that he would give her enough money to take care of her father forever.
The weight of the dead rabbits was enough to snap her out of her momentary daydream. No lady could carry such cargo and still be considered lovely or charming or witty. Valerie thought she had completely rid herself of such fantasies, but they kept finding her as though she was engaging them in an endless game of hide and seek.
A severely strict looking woman, who wore her hair in a bun so tight that it appeared to pull her face up toward her ears, was just turning the sign from Closed to Open on the front door of the bookshop. Valerie waited patiently for Mrs. Lind to finish arranging the books in front of the display window before walking inside.
The bell rang when Valerie pushed the door open. Mrs. Lind promptly swiveled around wearing a scarily forced smile and folded her hands in front of her. Her voice rose to an unnaturally high pitch.
“Wel –” she said before dropping three octaves into a low, disappointed tone. “Oh. It’s you”—her substitute for “Good morning.”
Altogether, it wasn’t said unkindly, though anyone else might have taken offense. Valerie simply shrugged it off.
Mrs. Lind snatched the bag away from Valerie. She made a face like something smelled rotten. “Did anyone see you?”
“No, ma’am.” If they did, you would already know, Valerie thought. It was best to keep such comments to herself. She didn’t want to argue with Mrs. Lind and lose her job. Even though she was only allowed to clean the shop and alphabetize the books, Valerie enjoyed it. There was something about being quiet in a room where hundreds of stories were at her fingertips. It was the only place where Valerie felt she was in control of anything.
“If they catch you, I’ll have to fire you. And I’ll pretend I knew nothing.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
Mrs. Lind sniffed. “Is that all you can say to me?” She imitated Valerie’s tone, “Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am. Are you a machine?”
Valerie didn’t know how else to respond to that question. “No, ma’am.” Though some days, she did feel like a machine. This was one of those days.
Mrs. Lind sighed with a hint of pity and stored the bag in a safe place where the rabbits would take longer to rot. Then she returned to Valerie, touting.
“What on earth are we going to do with you, child?” Mrs. Lind asked as she pinched Valerie’s torn skirt. “If your father finds out about this, he’ll have my head!”
Valerie wondered what Mrs. Lind would say if she told her that not only did her father already know but that he had given her a knife for her birthday. “If you’re going to disobey me,” he said, “you may as well defend yourself while you do so.” Valerie had only ever used it to finish what the traps started.
Mrs. Lind continued to fret over Valerie and Valerie let her because, in a way, it was nice to be the subject of someone else’s worry, rather than the worrier, for a change.
“If you leave this with me tomorrow, I can probably fix it,” Mrs. Lind said about the sleeve of Valerie’s dress, “I can’t make any promises, however.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Valerie said.
“Yes, yes. You can keep your thanks. I’d rather you show your gratitude by stopping this nonsense altogether.”
Mrs. Lind narrowed her eyes at Valerie as though waiting for her to promise that she would do just that. But Valerie couldn’t, and, frankly, Mrs. Lind knew that too.
After a moment of silence between them, Mrs. Lind said, “Can you please re-alphabetize the adventure stories? And when you’re done, dust the top of the shelves.”
“Yes –”
“If you finish saying what I think you’re going to say, so help me, I will do what your father refuses to.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Valerie said under her breath.
Mrs. Lind resigned to the counter while Valerie started her work. Children were their most frequent patrons, and sometimes they would leave sections in disarray. They loved holding the books in their hands and looking at the pictures. Some of them couldn’t quite make out the words. Sometimes Valerie would read to them. She liked watching their eyes widen in wonder. It reminded her of when she was a little girl; she used to stay up late to listen to her father’s stories, especially the one about the Beast. That was always her favorite.
Valerie could appreciate the adventures of dreaded pirates and Greek heroes, but her favorite genre was romance. There were rarely any female characters in adventure stories, and most of them were spoken of rather than seen. In the romance books, the ladies were sometimes permitted to follow the hero wherever he went. There was a sort of magic to them; no matter what dire situations the couples were plagued with, they always succeeded and ended up together. Valerie once thought her parents would make great characters in a romance novel. Her father was utterly mad about her mother, and her death was almost too much for him to bear. Coupled with what happened to him during the war, Valerie could almost understand why he turned to drinking and fighting. In a way, reading those books was Valerie’s “drink.” When she read about heroines like Caroline and Cynthia and Emily, she found herself stepping into their shoes, becoming mysterious, sweet, and desirable all at once. Sometimes, when she looked at herself in the mirror, she would recall her favorite lines and pretend she was wearing those pretty dresses in the window of the tailor’s shop. And the heroes they met weren’t half bad, either. Saxon and Daniel and Gregory: she could see herself spending time with them if they were real.
What she could live without was the stupid dialogue between the characters, the proclamations of everlasting love. Love was not everlasting.
Her mother’s death had taught her that much.
Mrs. Lind promptly closed shop when the clock tower began to ring the four o’clock hour. She gave Valerie a wary glance as she held up the bag of dead rabbits, as though she was deciding whether or not to give it back and whether doing so would be an act of encouragement. It spoke volumes that Mrs. Lind handed over Valerie’s pay before she handed over the rabbits. In the end, she gave them to Valerie without much fuss.
“Until tomorrow,” she said.
Valerie wished her a good evening (adding a “ma’am” at the end for good measure) and proceeded down the lane to her house. The buildings along her street reminded her of crooked teeth in a grey mouth. They certainly weren’t as nice as the buildings near Aubrey Manor. The manor rested on the tallest hill in Leola, and Valerie saw it as a white eye staring down at the rest of the town. Valerie had only ever seen Lord Aubrey once when he dismissed her father from the guardsmen’s service. She barely remembered him. She supposed she should hate Lord Aubrey—that she should blame him for everything her father went through—but being angry at him was like being angry at the wall. There were more important matters that required her energy, such as making it home in time to make a good rabbit stew and whether or not her father would be home on time to enjoy it.
She entered her house to see her father sitting at the dining table as though he had been waiting for her for quite some time. He undoubtedly still felt guilty about last night. He meant well. He always did.
Valerie resembled her father more than her mother. She had his dark brown eyes and long, lanky frame. She did not have her father’s scarred, leathery skin and the despair he often wore like a branding mark. War left him to deal with ghosts and a bad leg. When her mother was alive, her father smiled all the time. When she reminded her father of that now, he replied, “Now I save all my best smiles for you.”
Her father was offering his best smile now. He greeted her with an embrace and a kiss to the top of her head. “Did you have a good day at the shop?” he asked. He glanced down at the bag in her hand and then quickly looked away as though he could not bear to see it.
“Yes, Papa. Did you have a good day at the smith’s?”
Her father worked at the gunsmith near the edge of upper-Leola. He helped make guns for Lord Aubrey’s men.
“It was tolerable,” her father said. “Everyone is stressed about the deadline. It seems nobody is ready for Lord Aubrey’s son to take the seat.”
Valerie set the dead rabbits on the counter. “I’m sure you will make it. You always do.”
Her father stood at the dining table. Valerie could feel his eyes on her back.
“Did you have many customers?” he asked.
“A few. They came in sparingly.”
“That is unfortunate. Did you bring anything to read?”
“A Saxon Matthews book.” Saxon Matthews was a romance series that Valerie loved. She sometimes read them to her father while he sat in his chair and smoked his pipe. He’d say, “Now there’s a man I’d want to see you with,” at her description of the series hero.
“Ah. I wonder what he’s up to this time.”
“Well, we’ll see after supper.”
Valerie succeeded in removing the heads and began skinning the bodies. The smell of blood was potent.
“Did you hear about Mr. Randall?” her father asked.
Valerie sighed. She did not know Mr. Randall, but she was certain she knew what happened to him. “No, I did not.”
“He’s gone missing—has been gone for several days now.”
Valerie had heard such stories of people vanishing in the forest. At first, she thought they were tales to warn children against going in and getting lost under the dense crown of trees. However, a few days after her birthday, Mrs. Knott’s son left to get married and was never heard from again. Disappearing was a frightening prospect, but to Valerie, starvation was worse.
“That is unfortunate, Papa.”
“It’s been happening quite a lot recently—more people missing every day. I hear Lord Aubrey is considering sending his men into the forest to investigate.”
“Hmm.”
“The guards might catch you stealing.”
If they do, I’ll act like I’m thick in the head, Valerie thought. That’s what got her out of most similar situations. I don’t know any better, sirs. I was just trying to help the poor animal.
“Or you might be…”
Valerie turned to face her father. His hand was on his mouth as though he couldn’t bear to say the word.
“You know I don’t mean to keep…” His shoulders slumped over in defeat.
“I know,” Valerie said softly.
“Things are going to get better,” he continued. “I’m not going to keep forcing you to put yourself in danger. I’m going to get better. I’m going to be a better father.”
“Papa –”
He held up his hand. “Don’t. I’m supposed to keep us together. If I can’t fulfill that duty, then I am less than a man.”
Valerie walked over to him and embraced him as tight as she could. She had heard those words before. Their effect had dulled over time, but she could never stop loving her father.
He meant well.
He always did.

about the author (3)
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A.R. DAVIS first picked up writing at age six after getting annoyed that the characters weren’t right in a Donkey Kong Country novelization. She loved it so much that she went on to graduate with a BFA in Creative Writing at UNCW. Visit her site: http://pencilprofessional.com/ to learn more and connect.
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#Review ~ Mason ~ S.M. Shade

Mason E-Book CoverBlurb
From the moment I saw her, I wanted her in my bed.
I should’ve stopped there.
Everly Hall burst into my complicated life and changed it forever. I’m a fighter, but I had no defense against this beautiful, stubborn woman. Now, I stand to lose everything I have, everything I am. My secrets are dangerous, and put more lives at stake than my own. I intended to tell her in time, but my time is up.

Everything rests on Everly.
This is the conclusion of Mason and Everly’s story.

Links
Masonteaseryoung couple in love, black and whiteAuthor Links

Beverly's Review
Well, I just had to read Mason. Everly ended in a cliffhanger and I got a request to review Mason and jumped on it! The dynamics and emotions Mason evokes are heart wrenching, and drew me into the story. Everly’s tale is heart breaking. She has survived and is afraid to live.
Mason has lived through his own type of Hell and emerged a better stronger man for it. He knows what he wants and it is Everly. Despite the hurt she unknowingly caused Mason, he can’t help but love her.
 A well written and engrossing plot, along with well rounded characters make Mason a sequel not to be missed. Read Everly first, but you’ll immediately be reaching for Mason to find out the rest of the story.
hearts 51

Review ~ Ares’ Temptation

The God of War is about to discover love…
At the wedding of two Greek gods, Kaye Underhill is the only mortal in a sea of scantily clad nymphs and fickle satyrs. And worse – she’s dateless. The only bright side is the hot, muscled hunkiness of the God of War, who’s seated next to her. But there’s no way Kaye could ever grab a god’s attention… Is there?
Ares is in big trouble. A vengeful witch curses him, and the first person he touches will steal his strengths, while he receives their weaknesses. When Kaye trips, Ares catches her and poof! His powers disappear, and Kaye suddenly has the strength and coordination of a Greek god. To break the curse and regain his powers, Ares must get Kaye to fall in love with him.
But for the god who makes war, making love presents a whole new set of problems…

Beverly's ReviewAres is an arrogant son of a gun. He, however has pissed off the wrong witch. Enter Kaye, an accident prone mortal in the middle of otherworldly beings. Once Ares is cursed, Ares’ Temptation is a riot. Lucky for Ares that Kaye is willing to use him. Especially since he can’t admit what happened or he’d never regain his powers.

An amusing romp with plenty of eccentric characters, I read until it ended and wished for more. I’d like to say that Ares’ became humble, but, well, he is a god. Kaye does just what Ares’ does and doesn’t want her to do. She falls in love.

Hecate makes an amusing antagonist in this tale. She only wanted to get payback for her brother’s death at Ares’ hands. The ensuing hilarity is something beyond Ares’ and Kaye’s ability to control.

The mix of humor and romance makes for an enjoyable chuckle as you turn each page. Ares’ Temptation is definitely worth the time to read.

hearts 51