01 December 2017

Fire War Trilogy by T.T.Michael



Fiction/Political/Science Fiction/Dystopian
Book 1: Fire War, published 10/3/2015
Book 2: Fire War II: Treason, published 3/31/2016
Book 3: Fire War III: Uprising, published 9/17/2016

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Fire War Book 1

“Man up,” he told himself. “Man up.” It was what his father always told him, and there was nothing more that he wanted than to be a man. So he took a deep breath, filling his nose with the scents of baseball and looked up to the sky, squinting a little.

It was a plane, not far from the blimp he noticed earlier; that was all. Nothing to be afraid of. A tiny sigh of relief escaped his lips as he saw the familiar shape outlined over his head, wings spread out against the sky.

It was the last thing he saw before the explosion ripped his small body apart with the force of a hundred suns. The quiet of thousands of lives extinguished in the blink of a second took over, disturbed only by falling rubble. The sun beat down again, hot and sticky, on what remained of Tom, his father, and all the others who had been unfortunate enough to be at Wrigley Field for the biggest game of the season."

---
Late in the 21st century, the United Continental States of America is running smoothly. 

Unemployment has been eradicated, terrorism is no more, and any internal dissent diminishes by the day. Most give credit to President Meyers, and many can no longer remember the last election, but it is a small price to pay to keep the country safe from the terrorist group Hariq Jihad.

Things aren’t as they seem, however, as Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Jackson is conscripted into the personal security detail of President Meyers. While the only thing he places above his country is his family, he begins to feel that not everyone is content with how things are. Even more, he begins to fear for his oldest daughter’s life as she begins to question the eroding personal freedoms and democratic rights. Considering that entire families have disappeared over the slightest infraction, one cannot be too careful.

Torn between liberty and safety, family and country, can Jackson balance his loyalties, or will he be lead to an explosive collision with the system he has dedicated his life to serving? In this explosive and highly acclaimed dystopian political thriller novel, the world you live in will never look the same again!




Fire War II: Treason

Anthony Jackson, military veteran, member of the Presidential security team, father, husband, patriot and spy. His daughter safely recovered from a government detention centre, Jackson's role as a spy for the anti government Apocolyte group is firmly cemented. All he needs to do is keep his head down, do his job, and get intel back to his rebel handler. But as Jackson's suspicions about President Meyers are proven true, and the tasks he's asked to handle become more and more immoral, his loyalties are becoming strained.

Where is the line between truth and lie? Between loyal citizen and blind follower? Between right and wrong? And who gets to draw that line? The Apocolytes are growing stronger, but Meyers is too, and only one of them can be the bad guy. But which? Jackson needs to choose sides, and he needs to do it fast. But in the end only the biggest tragedy of them all can force his hand.

His life will never be the same, his family will never survive, and his ideals can be shattered or overturned. Assassinations are all part of the job, he's always dealt in lies and secrets. But now there's something much more personal on the line: vengeance. Saving the world from terrorists is no big deal, knowing who the terrorists are is the real trick.

Fire War III: Uprising

Anthony Jackson. Patriot. Spy. Widower. Still reeling after the death of his wife, Jackson is numbly training antigovernment troops. Confident that his role in political affairs has dwindled to being a glorified shooting teacher, Jackson is slowly trying to piece his heart back together. Until the call comes. The rebels are far from done with Jackson, and this time the promised reward is big and juicy: the Presidency.

As the world slowly falls apart, men fight and men die, and Anthony Jackson cannot simply watch. Something has to change, and someone has to change things, and deep down, Jackson knows that he's the only man that can do the job. But as cities fall, the eternal question continues to burn in his mind: just who can he really trust?

In a world of lies and secrets, where even the ones you love can betray you, Jackson must find right and justice. Only then can he lead the country that he loves. If he survives that long.



About the Author


Perhaps you wouldn’t characterize the Finance Manager of your local automobile dealership as an Amazon best-selling author—until you get to know T.T. Michael. He has worked for the past decade at a Toyota Dealership in Illinois, but he is in the driver’s seat as the writer of, Fire War, a political thriller set in the year 2076. See what happens when the United States, Canada, and Mexico all join forces to make one super country. See more about him and his book Fire War at www.ttmichael.com

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30 November 2017

You Came Like Hope by Jyoti Arora

About the Book:
Peehu:
“I heard them mourn my death. I lay in the next room. Motionless, silent, and staring at the ceiling.”

Adih:
“When it comes to a broken person, some of them are expert at blinding you. Spend an entire evening with such a person, but you may still not know how he is crushing inside.”

Uday:
“Who would say no to him? He is smart, intelligent, super handsome, rich, suave and sophisticated. He’s perfect!”

Pooja:
“Pooja gave no explanation. She asked no forgiveness. She just arrived in his home, resenting him for being her husband.”

Arunav:
“He had smiled as if nothing was wrong.
He had behaved as if he still had his dreams and hopes.
He had pretended as if it didn’t hurt.
But it did.”

Does Destiny hold the key to our happiness?
Is it always the feeble that is the victim?
Love can be the embrace of heaven. But what happens when it unleashes hellfire?

Lose yourself in the intense narrative of You Came Like Hope as it unleashes a rollercoaster of emotions, uncovers some bitter truths, challenges widespread prejudices, and forces you to reconsider your beliefs.

Check out the Free Sample of the novel

Book Links:

My Review:


Plot:
The plot is simple and straightforward. Adih and Peehu find themselves in each others lives. A series of events have led them to where they are today, but each individual has some hurdles to overcome for themselves before they can commit to the other. It is a journey that they have to take together and yet separately at the same time in order to be able to let go of their pasts to embrace a future together.

Character Development:
I liked the characters of Adih and Peehu. Uday really irked me. But they are all developed just enough to give the depth to the story.

Language & Narrative:
Simple and easy to read.

About the Author:

Jyoti Arora is a novelist and blogger from Ghaziabad. You Came Like Hope is her third novel, coming after Dream’s Sake and Lemon Girl. She is Post Graduate in English Literature and Applied Psychology.
Jyoti has over five years of experience working as a freelance writer. This experience includes abridging over 24 famous English classics like Jane Eyre, Moby Dick etc.
Jyoti Arora is a patient of Thalassemia Major. But she does not let this stop or discourage her. For her determination and achievements, Jyoti has received appreciation from Ms Sheila Dixit, Ms Maneka Gandhi and the Ghaziabad wing of BJP. Her life story has been covered in various local and national TV shows, radio programs, newspapers, magazines and websites like YourStory and Inspire India. She was also one of the ‘100 Women Achievers of India’ that were invited to witness the Republic Day parade of India (2016) as special guests.
Besides reading and writing novels, Jyoti also enjoys blogging and has won several blogging competitions. She loves checking out latest technological innovations, watching movies, and listening to old Bollywood songs. Reach her at jyotiarora.com.

Contact the Author:




28 November 2017

English Salad

This is so easy to make and light too. I usually munch on this when I am hungry between two meals.

Photo Credits: Essex Eating

Original Recipe at Essex Eating

Ingredients:
6 hard-boiled eggs, separated: the yolks sieved into a bowl, the whites coarsely chopped to add to the salad.

For the salad cream:
2 tsp sugar
salt and cayenne pepper
2 Tsp dry English mustard
1 ½ Tbsp vinegar
300ml whipped cream
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh tarragon

For the salad:
6 hearts of very fresh round lettuces, separated into leaves, washed and dried.
12 thin, fresh spring onions, trimmed and sliced into 3cm lengths
12 radishes, washed, halved and put into ice-cold water for 30mins, to crisp up
½ a cucumber, peeled and not too thinly sliced
a few leaves of mint, torn to shreds.

Method:
- Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, seasoning, mustard and vinegar.
- Add the cream and tarragon and mix thoroughly.
- Arrange the ingredients for the salad in a large shallow dish.
- Sprinkle over the chopped egg whites and then spoon over the cream dressing in dribbles and swirls.


26 November 2017

Interview with Author Jyoti Arora

About the Book:
Peehu:
“I heard them mourn my death. I lay in the next room. Motionless, silent, and staring at the ceiling.”

Adih:
“When it comes to a broken person, some of them are expert at blinding you. Spend an entire evening with such a person, but you may still not know how he is crushing inside.”

Uday:
“Who would say no to him? He is smart, intelligent, super handsome, rich, suave and sophisticated. He’s perfect!”

Pooja:
“Pooja gave no explanation. She asked no forgiveness. She just arrived in his home, resenting him for being her husband.”

Arunav:
“He had smiled as if nothing was wrong.
He had behaved as if he still had his dreams and hopes.
He had pretended as if it didn’t hurt.
But it did.”

Does Destiny hold the key to our happiness?
Is it always the feeble that is the victim?
Love can be the embrace of heaven. But what happens when it unleashes hellfire?

Lose yourself in the intense narrative of You Came Like Hope as it unleashes a rollercoaster of emotions, uncovers some bitter truths, challenges widespread prejudices, and forces you to reconsider your beliefs.

Check out the Free Sample of the novel

Book Trailer:

Book Links:

An Interview:

When did you decide to become a writer?
This dream first took hold of me when I studied literature. I’ve done B.A. and M.A. in English Literature. While I was studying literature, I was amazed to see how much skill and craft went into writing of novels. I knew I could write well. I decided to practice the craft of writing to try and create books people would love to read. I was also amazed at the immortality that authors of great classics enjoyed. I started aspiring for that immortality too. So, I decided to become a novelist.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to win the love of readers all over the world.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
My heroine is named Peehu. She suffers from inferiority complex and believes herself to be unlucky and a loser. She is so fed up of her life that when opportunity presents itself, Peehu assumes the identity of someone else.
My hero is Adih. He has seen the ruin of his family due to a woman’s treachery. As a result, he mistrusts all women. He has decided never to marry and all his energies are focused in ensuring well-being and happiness of his orphan niece. 

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I work with an IT staffing agency based in US. I work from my home in India, so it’s a night-shift job for me. As a result, my days start rather late. I mostly get time to write only in the afternoon or early evening. 

Where do the ideas come from?
From everywhere, really. They just pop up when you aren’t even looking for them. For example, the idea for my second novel Lemon Girl came from the media reports of rising sexual crimes against women in India. When Lemon Girl released, one of my tweets about it came under attack by some anti-feminist Twitter trolls. And from there came the idea of You Came Like Hope.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I always have the end in sight before I begin my book. I create a rough outline of the plot before I start writing. But nothing very detailed or rigid. I mostly create detailed plan in bunches of 3,4 chapters as I progress into the book.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Don’t worry too much about it. Relax, do something you enjoy. The ideas will start flowing soon.

What can we expect from you down the line?

I have written three novels so far – Dream’s Sake, Lemon Girl, You Came Like Hope. All of them have love stories that center around a serious social issue. Now, I want to write something purely romantic. Time to have some fun!


Read an Excerpt:

Excerpt from chapter 17

It is not so easy to battle desire. It is not easy to battle the greatest need of our heart, the need to love and be loved. After years of cold solitude, love had broken through his armour. With it must have entered all the hopes and dreams that are the food of a young heart. When he looked at me at that moment, it was as if he was staring at the delicious possibilities of all that he had forbidden himself. The magic of a kiss, the joy of embrace, the comfort of having a hand to hold in life’s lonely wanderings, and the passion of love. All the wonderful possibilities of the future.

But there are some people who glance at the future with a shudder. Because the shadow of their past is so dreadful that they can see no light piercing through its gloom. Such a person was Adih, despite all his show of cheer and strength. Beaten by his past, he had selected the safest path and denied himself the liberty to look at any other option. All through the years, he had convinced himself that as long as Mani was well and happy, he needed nothing more.

That conviction was on a shaky ground now.

Since I had thrown myself in his arms after the party, and he had let his arms wrap around me, I guess he felt the lure of the forbidden and the possibility of stepping out of the barriers he himself had created. The barriers that had served him well till then in keeping love away. Maybe, he was scared of love. Because with love comes the risk of losing it. With love comes the risk of getting burnt with it. When love burns, it consumes even the soul. He had seen that happening to his brother.

‘Peehu,’ he said, when he was ready with his answer. He looked at me in a way that made me feel warm all over and yet sent a chill racing to my heart. ‘Why would I be scared of you? As I told you earlier, you are Rajni’s cousin, Mani’s teacher and my friend. That’s it. Now go and enjoy your ice cream.’

‘That’s it?’ I knew the answer, but still asked.

Adih took a deep breath, looked straight into my eyes and delivered his sentence. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘That’s all it is ever going to be.’

As I looked at him, I did not see the proud man capable of pushing everyone away with biting sarcasm. I saw the face of a man pushing away what he now desired most of all. The face that looked hard as ice one instant, and seemed ready to melt like snow the next.

There I stood, looking up at him, offering him my most ardent love, promising him the sweetest the life can bring. Yet, he looked at me for just a moment more, then turned his back on me.


About the Author:

Jyoti Arora is a novelist and blogger from Ghaziabad. You Came Like Hope is her third novel, coming after Dream’s Sake and Lemon Girl. She is Post Graduate in English Literature and Applied Psychology.
Jyoti has over five years of experience working as a freelance writer. This experience includes abridging over 24 famous English classics like Jane Eyre, Moby Dick etc.
Jyoti Arora is a patient of Thalassemia Major. But she does not let this stop or discourage her. For her determination and achievements, Jyoti has received appreciation from Ms Sheila Dixit, Ms Maneka Gandhi and the Ghaziabad wing of BJP. Her life story has been covered in various local and national TV shows, radio programs, newspapers, magazines and websites like YourStory and Inspire India. She was also one of the ‘100 Women Achievers of India’ that were invited to witness the Republic Day parade of India (2016) as special guests.
Besides reading and writing novels, Jyoti also enjoys blogging and has won several blogging competitions. She loves checking out latest technological innovations, watching movies, and listening to old Bollywood songs. Reach her at jyotiarora.com.

Contact the Author:




21 November 2017

The Hypnotist's Daughter by Brittany Raschdorf



YA Thriller
Date Published: September 2017

Though things look beautiful to the naked eye, when you look between the cracks of fame and fortune, things aren’t always what they seem.

Prosperity Baxter (Peri) is selling her soul for fame – figuratively of course. Everyone who is anyone in Hollywood has gone through Jameson Frye to get there. Peri has a once in a lifetime meeting with him, set up by her father Harris Baxter, the biggest name in hypnotism on the entire West Coast.

But in the movie industry, you don’t get something for nothing. Peri pays the ultimate price before she is thrust full speed ahead into her new acting career. The manager Jameson sets her up with, bad-boy HUDSON GREGOR, is known for his amoral reputation. Peri learns early on that Hudson is not to be crossed. But when secrets begin to surface as the scenes from the horror film she is starring in begin to dredge up memories she was never supposed to remember, she will have to learn to rely on him.

Lies, cover-ups and an unthinkable initiation all leave her desperate for answers.

Prosperity is determined to find out if there is enough good in this world to overcome the evil she sees everywhere she looks – even in her own eyes.

Recent Praise for The Hypnotist's Daughter:

"A shocking debut that leaves us pondering the origins of evil and the power of memory." -- J.C. Sasser, author of Gradle Bird

"Raw and hypnotizing. This is the first chapter in what promises to be an unnerving and mysterious series." -- Peter L. Harmon, author of The Happenstances . . . young adult book series

"A triumphant debut novel from Brittany Raschdorf." -- Charlotte Bowyer, author of His Frozen Fingertips

"Imaginative ride into the fantasy realm" -- Meisha Camm, author of Brewer Archives




About the Author


Brittany Raschdorf is a devoted mother of two who lives in Chesapeake, Virginia with her husband and their two dogs. Growing up, Brittany was always tethered to a book, only putting them down occasionally to play in the mud or roughhouse with her brother. She knew deep down she had a passion for words—it was the way the black jumped off the white and landed in her soul as she read. But it wasn’t until she began to write that she truly came alive. And it wasn’t until she became a mother that she realized she had a story to tell.


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17 November 2017

The Jupiter Chronicles: The Orb of Terra by Leonardo Ramirez


Steampunk
Date Published: November 17, 2017
Publisher: Leonardoverse Books

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In the tradition of “City of Ember” "Chronicles of Narnia" and "A Wrinkle in Time", this family adventure is a high stakes space race to save our world from an invading force before it is too late.

-Book 3-

Will Ian’s quest to find his destiny away from Jupiter lead to Earth's untimely demise?

As he struggles with his identity, Ian Castillo helps one of Earth’s greatest scientific minds, Dr. Nikola Tesla, make the scientific discovery of a lifetime: a strange mineral that can perhaps power our world for years to come! They discover it is not just an energy source, but something much more! When the device powered by the mineral is activated, it awakens a sleeping giant buried under the Earth by the Martians generations before. The beast known as “Gigantes” leaves behind a trail of destruction and calls out to a deadly enemy headed for Earth.

And the secret inside the mineral will change everything for Earth and the entire Jovian Realm…forever.

FIND YOUR DESTINY.

Cover by Eve Milady and Ben Fosselman with Magnetic Dreams Animation Studios (Iron Man:Extremis, Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers, Sesame Street)


About the Author


Leonardo Ramirez is an author, husband, a father, and a Karate instructor with a 4th degree black belt. His first novel, "Haven of Dante", is a supernatural Young Adult story centered on an ancient war between the Dante family and the nine circles of hell. "Haven of Dante: The Staff of Moshe" takes readers much deeper into the world of the family line with a prologue that begins with the plight of Dante Alighieri himself!

His follow up is a Science Fiction book called "The Jupiter Chronicles: The Secret of the Great Red Spot". It follows the adventure of two children as they are transported to the steam-powered cities of Jupiter where they find the secret of their long-lost father in the midst of a Martian attack.
Leonardo Ramirez lives with his wife Kristen, their daughter Mackenzy and their two dogs, Duchess and Tinkerbell in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee.

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15 November 2017

You Came Like Hope by Jyoti Arora

~ Cover Reveal ~


Title: You Came Like Hope
Author: Jyoti Arora
Word length: 53,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Contemporary Romance


Blurb:
Peehu:
“I heard them mourn my death. I lay in the next room. Motionless, silent, and staring at the ceiling.”
Adih:
“When it comes to a broken person, some of them are expert at blinding you. Spend an entire evening with such a person, but you may still not know how he is crushing inside.”
Uday:
“Who would say no to him? He is smart, intelligent, super handsome, rich, suave and sophisticated. He’s perfect!”
Pooja:
“Pooja gave no explanation. She asked no forgiveness. She just arrived in his home, resenting him for being her husband.”
Arunav:
“He had smiled as if nothing was wrong.
He had behaved as if he still had his dreams and hopes.
He had pretended as if it didn’t hurt.
But it did.”
Does Destiny hold the key to our happiness?
Is it always the feeble that is the victim?
Love can be the embrace of heaven. But what happens when it unleashes hellfire?
Lose yourself in the intense narrative of You Came Like Hope as it unleashes a rollercoaster of emotions, uncovers some bitter truths, challenges widespread prejudices, and forces you to reconsider your beliefs.

Releasing on 23rd November 2017!

About the Author:
Jyoti Arora is a novelist and blogger from Ghaziabad. You Came Like Hope is her third novel, coming after Dream’s Sake and Lemon Girl. She is Post Graduate in English Literature and Applied Psychology. Besides reading and writing novels, Jyoti enjoys checking out latest technological innovations, watching movies, and listening to old Bollywood songs.




14 November 2017

She Do Run Run by Amy Swifton



Romantic Suspense
Date Published: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Broadback

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She Do Run Run is a fast, double-shot-of-espresso read. Its heart-racing story can be consumed in a few quick hours.

Jenny’s life is shattered when her Special Ops husband is killed. To escape the pain, she falls into a dangerous cycle of random sex and booze, and one night she kills a violent man.

She runs off into the unknown, desperate to survive and change her life. That’s when Lieutenant Jon Dowling appears.




Excerpt

Enraged, KC bounced off the bed, faltered, then whirled about to face me.  He broke for me, spitting threats and curses, his giant shadow of a body charging.  I felt a twist of terror in the pit of my stomach.

I slipped the Luger from my purse easily—feeling the cool, sticky grip.  There was no time to shout out a warning.  He was coming—a charging, killing animal.  I squeezed off two shots.  The impact stunned him, jerked him erect.  Froze him.  I could see his eyes, wide in the bright flash of yellow neon.  He heaved out a loud breath, like a snort.

“You shot me, you bitch!  I’ll kill you!  You fuckin’ shot me!  I’ll kill you!”

He came at me, a big angry bear reaching.  I fired two more shots.  I watched in horror as he teetered, and stumbled backwards off-balance.  He bounced off the wall, face blank, and dropped like a heavy sack.  I felt the thud of his body shake the floor under my bare feet.

I stood breathing, sweating, heart kicking.  I knew he was dead.  I didn’t need to check.  I mean, I shot him four times, for Chrissake!  Did anyone hear the shots?  I strained my ears.  Dead quiet.  Were there people next door?  Would someone call the police?

Strangely, I felt calm—incredibly calm.  Where was the shock?  Methodically, I slipped the handgun back into my purse.  Then I realized I was naked.  I found my clothes, slipped them on, turned the room lights on dim and searched the room, refusing to look at KC, making sure I hadn’t left anything: still had my earrings, watch, phone, purse.  Would there be finger prints?  Maybe.  I knew, from some of Kyle’s police buddies, that prints were hard to find.  I hadn’t touched many things.  I hadn’t even drunk from a glass or used a towel.  What about hair in the bed?  A broken nail?  No time to search.  Impossible anyway.

I turned off the lights and slipped out of the motel into a dark humid night.  The motel office was 70 feet or so away and, fortunately, I hadn’t stepped inside the office with KC when he registered.  I had not been seen.  I listened for police sirens.   Nothing.  Strange.

We had come on KC’s motorcycle, leaving my car in the bar’s parking lot.  I’d have to walk the five miles or so, and I did, keeping my head low, edging along in the shadows.

When I arrived back at the bar, the parking lot was still bloated with motorcycles, trucks and old dinged up cars.  I glanced about, saw a couple locked in a kiss near the front door, climbed into my car, cranked the engine and drove away, still feeling oddly calm.  Why?  I had just killed a man.

The police would soon be looking for the killer, of course.  The bartender had seen me, and the man who had moved to give me his barstool, had seen me.  Would they remember what I looked like?  As far as I knew, they were the only ones.  No one knew my name or anything else about me.  Still, there was no doubt the police would find some evidence.  If there was hair in the bed, they’d run a DNA test.  This was Florida after all, and Florida cops weren’t stupid, at least not the ones Kyle and I had known.

So, what now?  I drove, and drove, and kept on driving.  I lost track of time and place, my mind soon entranced by the blurring white lines of the road, by the hum of the car engine and the expanding, chilling realization that I’d just killed a man. 

About the Author:
I'm a Florida-based writer, who loves all things romantic, with a shot of suspense.  I also love to write Time Travel Novels.
When the characters keep me up nights, I feel good about the story.

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13 November 2017

Dangerously Dark by C.J. Burright




New Adult Paranormal Romance
Date Published:  11/13/17

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Some call him Purgatory’s Missing Prince. Demon Master. Overlord of Shadows. Only one woman may call him hers.

A master of dreams, a failure at life…

After another botched career attempt, Quinn Carmichael escapes to a remote lodge for a weekend recharge, needing respite…especially from the nightmares that haunt even her days. When a wounded, sexy-as-sin stranger faceplants unconscious on her kitchen floor, there’s something disturbingly familiar about him—as in he’s the boy from her childhood dreams. Mr. Dark, Dangerous, and Diabolical may be the key to unlocking the mysteries of her past and future, and Quinn isn’t about to let the opportunity—or him—escape without a fight.

His time is running out…

Known as Purgatory’s Missing Prince, Zaire’s existence has been one of endless pain, torture, and loss. Resigned to his fate, his final goal is simple—rescue his nephew before succumbing to the deadly darkness inside him. But when a fateful misstep brings him face-to-face with the one woman who could have saved him once upon a dream—the one woman he treasures above all else—he battles to keep his distance before he destroys her, too. But he would gladly sell his soul for just one taste.

Love draws them together, destiny will tear them apart

With ruthless enemies closing in, Quinn and Zaire must fight to save each other and those they care for before it’s too late—even if it means they’re doomed to live apart forever

 Excerpt

Quinn tossed the note on the coffee table and wrapped one hand around the warm ceramic mug, absently petting Wolfgang with the other. Dusk took over beyond the wall of windows, made darker by the blizzard. Falling snow hid the skirting tree line. Wind howled at the house corners and turned treetops into jerking puppets. The perfect meltdown location. No phones, no people, no problem.
The lamp flickered and died, leaving her with only the dancing firelight, not that she minded. The power had lasted longer than she expected. Stoked fire, hot cider, and now she had a great excuse to procrastinate reading unhelpful flyers. She sipped her drink and wriggled back on the couch.
Wolfgang launched off her lap, kicking papers everywhere and sloshing her drink.
“Bad cat!”
He scurried into the kitchen, out of sight. A distinct thud followed, which meant Wolfgang was up to no good.
“I should’ve sent you off to the Nameless One.” Quinn shoved the remaining flyers aside and nabbed the flashlight from the end table. “You’d make an amazing hat, and there’d be enough fur left to make a stole, the perfect ensemble to compliment her plastic face.”
She flicked on the flashlight and shuffled into the kitchen, ignoring how the light made all the shadows twist and scuttle on the walls and ceiling. Broken bones might bother her, but the dark never had.
Wolfgang expectantly stood at the back door. He meowed, high and plaintive. Nothing looked out of place. Whatever had made the thud wasn’t in the kitchen. Maybe the wind had blown a loose branch against the house.
“What, you’re a snow leopard now? There’s no fancy feline feast waiting out there for you.”
Wolfgang rubbed his cheek against the doorframe, circled, and meowed again.
Thud. The entire door shook.
Quinn jumped. That was no branch. All the horror movies she loved to watch and ridicule flashed to mind, a lot less funny now. Alone in the woods. Killer storm. No electricity. No connection to the outside world.
Wolfgang’s purr rumbled, and he slid his face over the jamb again. The noise hadn’t spooked him even a little, and animals always sensed evil. Wolfgang had had no problem detecting it in Molly.
She squared her shoulders. No one would be roaming around in a blizzard. An animal had probably knocked the trashcan into the door, and a quick look would ease any worry. At the first glimpse of fur or fang—or red, glowing eyes—she’d go for the door slam.
Pushing Wolfgang back with one foot, she cracked open the door. Wind exploded in, ripping the doorknob from her grip and firing snow and ice into her eyes. The door banged into the wall, and the storm’s full force rushed inside. Quinn scrambled for the knob and stopped, frozen by more than the sudden blast of cold.
A man filled the entryway from threshold to frame, dark as the nightfall behind him. Steam drifted from his bare head. Frost coated his short, sable hair, and even in the flashlight beam, his complexion held an unhealthy blue-gray hue. One hand was anchored to the doorpost in a white-knuckled grip. The other brandished a wicked as sin knife.
She shone the light on his face, and her stomach roller-coastered. Her demon. The one who’d haunted her nightmares years ago and then abruptly bailed, never to return. No matter what face he wore, his death-black, abysmal eyes were unforgettable.
Or were her delusions returning with a vengeance?
“Get out of my way.” His chest heaved, and he lurched forward, the knife pointed at her. His guttural words erased any suspicion that he might be another hallucination. He was too present, too solid to be anything but real.
Merde. He was real.

About the Author

C.J Burright is a native Oregonian and refuses to leave. A member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter, while she has worked for years in a law office, she chooses to avoid writing legal thrillers (for now) and instead invades the world of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or fantasy. C.J. also has her 4th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and believes a story isn’t complete without at least one fight scene. Her meager spare time is spent working out, refueling with mochas, gardening, gorging on Assassin’s Creed, and rooting on the Seattle Mariners…always with music. She shares life with her husband, daughter, and a devoted cat herd.

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