Scent of the Soul – A Riveting Must Read by Julie Doherty

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Scent of the Soul

Julie Doherty

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Date of Publication:  February 11, 2015

ISBN:  978-1-61935-705-1

ASIN: B00SZ0SKUE

Number of pages: 288

Word Count:  91,000

Cover Artist: Leah Suttle

Book Description:

In twelfth century Scotland, it took a half-Gael with a Viking name to restore the clans to their rightful lands. Once an exile, Somerled the Mighty now dominates the west. He’s making alliances, expanding his territory, and proposing marriage to the Manx princess.

It’s a bad time to fall for Breagha, a torc-wearing slave with a supernatural sense of smell.

Somerled resists the intense attraction to a woman who offers no political gain, and he won’t have a mistress making demands on him while he’s negotiating a marriage his people need. Besides, Breagha belongs to a rival king, one whose fresh alliance Somerled can’t afford to lose.

It’s when Breagha vanishes that Somerled realizes just how much he needs her. He abandons his marriage plans to search for her, unprepared for the evil lurking in the shadowy recesses of Ireland—a lustful demon who will stop at nothing to keep Breagha for himself.

Book Trailer:  https://youtu.be/dBuB3WC3FGU 

Available at   Amazon    Amazon UK    Amazon Canada

REVIEW:Scentcover

I’m going to get right to the point. READ SCENT OF THE SOUL.

I can’t imagine anyone not liking this book. Ms. Doherty displays incredible talent for building a living, breathing world that seduces your senses and tantalizes your mind with rich imagery. Rather than bore the reader with paragraphs of descriptive prose, she subtly layers elements into each scene, making them an intricate part of the story.

SCENT OF THE SOUL highlights a real life Scottish warlord, Somerled, and his fictional romance with a slave girl, Breagha, blending historical fiction and romance, tempered with a bit of mysticism. This is romance with teeth – a gripping, well written tale set in 12th century Scotland. The author has obviously done a lot research which is evident in the authentic details of the period.

Somerled and the cast of characters are portrayed with depth and flaws, exactly what one would expect in a top-notch novel. Everything has a purpose in this book, right down the tiniest detail which adds new meaning to the term “tightly woven”.

I’m truly impressed with Julie Doherty’s style and ability to pen a riveting story. This is easily a five star book.

Excerpt:

As Godred’s oarsmen shoved off from the jetty, Somerled wondered if there was any man less suitable to deliver a marriage proposal. Godred of Dublin was coarse, marginally Christian—indeed, marginally sane—and easily riled. Nevertheless, King Olaf liked him, and for that reason alone, Somerled had selected him as his envoy.

“No side trips,” Somerled shouted before Godred was too far away to hear. “Ye have three places to go and that’s it: the Isle of Man, your clan, and back here.” Godred was prone to unscheduled detours.

Unless bad weather or the scent of easy plunder pulled Godred and his thirty oarsmen off course, Somerled would have Olaf’s answer in a few days. If Olaf agreed to the marriage, Somerled would add a wife to the items decorating his new castle at Finlaggan and eventually, the Isle of Man to his expanding area of influence.

The nobles would respect him then. Half-breed or not.

Behind him, a door squealed on one of the two guardhouses standing sentinel over the Sound of Islay. The small building spat out Hakon, his chief guard, another man of Dublin birth and temperament. Hakon strode the length of the jetty to join him. “I have every confidence the Norns will weave Godred a successful journey, my lord king,” he said, his words puffing white clouds above his tawny sheepskin cape.

“If your goddesses have woven anything, it’s an unfortunate headwind,” Somerled said. “Godred is forced to tack.” He closed his cloak and secured it at his throat with a brooch he once plucked from a Viking who no longer needed it. “The wind promises hail. My proposal will be delayed.”

“Aye, likely,” Hakon said, his hair and beard whipping into copper clouds, “but it will hasten Olaf’s reply. Do not despair, my lord. Ragnhilde will marry ye soon enough.”

Despair? Somerled stifled a laugh. Did Hakon think he had feelings for a lassie he had never met? He was about to tease his guard about being a romantic when Hakon stiffened.

“Another ship,” Hakon said, looking past Somerled’s shoulder.

Somerled spun around to inspect the northwestern waters of the channel separating Jura and Islay—the jewel of the Hebrides and the island that served as the seat of his burgeoning kingdom. “Where?” he asked, squinting.

Hakon thrust a finger toward the fog bank blanketing the horizon. “There, at the promontory, in that pale blue strip of water. See it?”

At first, Somerled saw nothing but swooping terns and ranks of swells. Then, an unadorned sail appeared. It crested on a wave, dipped low, and vanished.

“Should I sound the horn?” Hakon asked.

Somerled raked his fingers through the coarse, wheaten mess slapping at his eyes and held it at his nape while he considered his response. Behind them, the signal tower on Ben Vicar was smoke-free. Across the sound, the towers on the frosty Paps of Jura were likewise unlit, although clouds partially obscured their peaks. The Paps had a commanding view. If a signal fire blazed anywhere, the men stationed there would have seen it and lit their own.

“My lord king, should I sound the horn?” Hakon impatiently palmed the battle horn dangling at his broad chest.

Men began to gather on the jetty.

“Let us wait. It is only one ship, and it looks to be a trader. The signal fires would blaze by now if it were someone worthy of our concern.” Somerled glanced back at the mud and thatch cottages shouldering against one another. At their doors, the bows of half his impressive fleet rested on the shoreline, a sandy slip extending well into the distance. The rest of his ships sheltered at the far side of Islay, in Loch Indaal. A signal fire would deploy them quickly and, perhaps, needlessly.

“Alert the village. Have Cormac ready Dragon’s Claw,” he said, “but send only the nyvaigs for now.” The nyvaigs were smaller, but no less deadly. They would be out and back quickly.

Hakon sprinted through the gathering crowd and past the guardhouses. He leapt over a pile of rocks with surprising agility for a man of his years and size. In no time, specialized warriors and oarsmen were boarding the boats. A pony thundered inland, its rider instructed to warn, not panic, the people of Finlaggan.

Though Somerled carried his mighty sword, he had dressed for warmth, not battle. His mail shirt, aketon, and helmet hung in his bedchamber, two miles away in Finlaggan. He singled out a boy in the crowd. “Lad, find me a helmet and a shield, and be quick about it.”

The boy shot like an arrow toward the cottages.

Somerled held his breath as he watched the nyvaigs head out. At the first flash of steel, he would blow the battle horn. His men would light the towers and he would board Dragon’s Claw. The foreigner would be sorry he entered the Sound of Islay.

The ship’s features were barely discernible, but he could see that its high prow lacked a figurehead. He was trying to identify the banner fluttering on its masthead when the ship’s sail dropped and scattered gulls like chaff in the wind. His heart hammered against his chest as he waited for the foreign vessel to sprout oars; it didn’t. It stalled—a sign its crew had dropped anchor.

Dragon’s Claw bobbed next to him at the jetty, her top rail lined with colorful shields and her benches holding sixty-four of his savage warriors. Cormac gripped the tiller, but he would move aside when Somerled barked the order to do so. He would serve as his own shipmaster in the face of an enemy.

Low and curvy with a dragon’s head exhaling oaken flames from her prow, Dragon’s Claw was his favorite vessel, not because she was new or particularly seaworthy, but because he had wrenched her from the last Viking to leave his father’s lands.

The memory of that battle warmed him and occupied his thoughts while the nyvaigs swarmed around the foreigner. Then, they swung about, furled their sails, and rowed for home like many-legged insects skittering on the water’s surface.

When the boats reached the beach, Hakon jumped from his nyvaig and jogged through ankle-deep water, apparently too impatient to wait for his men to haul the vessel’s keel onto the sand. “Well, my lord king,” he said, “it seems to be the day for marriage proposals. It is an envoy from Moray, who comes at the behest of Malcolm. He asks to speak with ye regarding Bethoc.”

“Malcolm MacHeth . . . the Malcolm MacHeth . . . wants my sister?”

He had met Malcolm MacHeth only once, at King David’s court, on a night spoiled by ill-bred lassies who had mocked his foreign garb and speech. Malcolm, a bastard nephew of the Scots king, had observed his humiliation and pretended not to notice.

Yet here was Malcolm of Moray, a claimant to the Scottish throne and a known rebel, seeking Bethoc’s hand in marriage. Tainted bloodline or not, Somerled was apparently worthy of notice now.

JulieDAbout the Author:

Something magical happened in the musty basement of Julie Doherty’s local courthouse. She went there intending to research her ancestry, not lose herself in a wealth of stories, but the ghosts of yesteryear drew her into the past and would not let her go. The trail left by her ancestors in those yellowing documents led her from rural Pennsylvania to the Celtic countries, where her love of all things Irish/Scottish blossomed into outright passion.

She became particularly interested in Somerled, self-styled “King of Argyll” and progenitor of the Lords of the Isles. In 1164, he led a fleet of 164 galleys up the River Clyde in an all-or-nothing attempt to overthrow the Scottish crown. What would lead a man of his advanced years to do such a thing?

Of course, history records he did so because the king demanded forfeiture of his lands. But the writer in Julie wondered …what if he did it for the love of a woman?

Those early ponderings led to SCENT OF THE SOUL, Julie’s first novel, coming soon from Soul Mate Publishing.

Readers will notice a common theme throughout Julie’s books: star-crossed lovers. This is something she knows a bit about, since during one of her trips to Ireland, she fell in love with an Irishman. The ensuing immigration battle took four long years to win. With only fleeting visits, Skype chats, and emails to sustain her love, Julie poured her heartache into her writing, where it nourished the emotional depth of her characters.

Julie is a member of Pennwriters, Romance Writers of America, Central PA Romance Writers, The Longship Company, Perry County Council of the Arts, and Clan Donald USA. When not writing, she enjoys antiquing, shooting longbow, traveling, and cooking over an open fire at her cabin. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, who sounds a lot like her characters.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/532434.Julie_Doherty

http://twitter.com/SquareSails

http://www.facebook.com/juliedohertywrites

http://www.juliedoherty.com

2015 RONE Award – An Unholy Alliance Needs YOUR Vote!

UnholyWhat an unexpected surprise!

One of my novels, An Unholy Alliance, is nominated for the 2015 RONE Award in the Paranormal category . . . and I need your vote to proceed to the finals.

The process is very easy. If you are a subscriber to InDtale Magazine, you just click on the link below, choose the paranormal category, scroll down a bit until you find my book/author name and check it. If you are not a subscriber, follow the same process but subscribe to the newsletter first. You can unsubscribe later.

http://indtale.com/2015-rone-awards-week-one

Please pass this along and help An Unholy Alliance make it to the finals.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

Catherine Bybee Continues the Love with “Seduced by Sunday”

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SEDUCED BY SUNDAY

Catherine Bybee

Weekday Brides, Book 6

Series, Stand Alone

April 14, 2015

Montlake Romance, Contemporary

Goodreads Book Page

BUY LINKS:

Amazon   B&N   BAM    BOOK DEPOSITORY

Book Description:
She swore off love forever…but he just might change her mind.

The sixth sweet, thrilling book in the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Weekday Brides series from Catherine Bybee.

Meg Rosenthal: Matchmaker by day, realist by night, Meg is not about to get swept away by a charming, darkly handsome businessman in a designer suit. She’s come to a beautiful secluded resort to evaluate the private island’s potential for her agency, not to ogle its owner. But there’s something about the magnetic man that’s hard to resist, even for a woman who refuses to fall in love.Seduce by Sunday L

Valentino Masini: A successful and drop-dead sexy businessman, Valentino is used to having the finer things in life. Yet he’s never wanted someone the way he wants Meg, who’s stirring up a hurricane of trouble in his heart. But just as he decides to convince her to stay, someone else decides it might be time to get Meg off the island…permanently.

Praise for Catherine Bybee

“Suspense, survival, and chemistry mix in this scintillating read in the style of Julie Garwood and Suzanne Brockmann.” —Booklist on Fiancé by Friday

“This is a book nobody should miss, because the magic it contains is awesome.” —Booked Up Reviews on Married by Monday

“[A] wonderfully exciting plot, lots of desire, and some sassy attitude thrown in for good measure!” Harlequin Junkie on Single by Saturday

MY REVIEW:

Catherine Bybee continues the love with SEDUCED BY SUNDAY, Book 6 of the Weekday Brides series. It seems redundant to tout the remarkable talent by this USA Today and NY Times Best Selling Author but I simply can’t resist. Simply put, Ms. Bybee is the BOMB when it comes to contemporary romance!

Her stories explode from Page One, ripping apart any preconceived notion the novel is formulaic and only names and places have changed. Quite the opposite. SEDUCED BY SUNDAY is a great stand alone read or a continuation of a very popular and entertaining series.

Meg is a high profile matchmaker secretly researching an island resort for the Alliance Agency. She wants to make sure it offers the discreet accommodations and privacy it advertises. Plans go awry when she is not allowed access to the resort until they complete a background check, which sends Meg into a cyber frenzy as she pens not-so-friendly emails to the owner.

After she is finally allowed admittance, Meg meets Val, the hotel owner. Sizzling attraction ensues but Meg doesn’t trust those feelings. Val on the other hand, is quite eager to push the envelope. As these two lovebirds-in-the-making maneuver past a rocky beginning, they discover all is not as it seems in “paradise”. I love a little suspense with my romance and Ms. Bybee knows how to deliver.

This is a well written tale with an interesting plot, snappy dialogue, beautiful setting and a great cast of characters, some from previous stories in the series. If you haven’t read the other Weekday Brides books, don’t despair. While I highly encourage you to indulge, SEDUCED BY SUNDAY will make perfect sense as a stand alone novel. But be warned . . . this series is addictive. Once you’ve read one, you’ll want to keep going!

Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥

Meet Catherine Bybee:

Bybee Author Photo

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her husband and two teenage sons in Southern California.

CONTACT LINKS:

http://www.catherinebybe.com

catherinebybee@yahoo.com

catherinebybee.blogspot.com

twitter.com/catherinebybee

HooRah!!! Contest, Guest Blog by Jena Baxter, & Excerpt from The Carriage

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WOW!!!  I’ve got a great package today! A very awesome contest with entry details at the end of this blog, a fascinating guest post by the equally fascinating author, Jena Baxter and a delectable excerpt from her new novel, The Carriage. Let’s get started:

The Charm and Truths in Historical Romance

by Jena Baxter

Hello, my name is Jena Baxter, and I write YA fantasy and historical romance.

I never planned on writing historical fiction, but I’ve always loved history, and wanted to write a novel of The Little Matchgirl, that was closer to Hans Christian Anderson’s vision. I guess that’s a little contradictory, but I hadn’t seen past that particular story yet.  I started my research on the time period and studied the story and what he might have seen. Later I learned it was a prompt from a popular calendar someone gave him, but I’ve also read that he meant for it to be a statement of his time.

I’ve always thought it was interesting that Little Matchgirl became a children’s Christmas classic. A young girl is afraid to go home because she didn’t sell any matches. It’s New Year’s Eve and she’s cold so she lights her matches one by one to try and stay warm, hallucinating, until she dies sometime before morning and her grandmother – who is now an angel – takes her to heaven. We see the romance in her visions and the dream of a better life, and forget she’s a lost child on the street somewhere. I’ve written two published novels since then and my Little Matchgirl still hasn’t been written.

The Victorian Era was such a time of hope, but also a time of despair. It encompassed the Industrial Revolution. Many people suffered incredible losses; a few opened factories and made a fortune. Unfortunately, so many people flocked into London that employers could pay less than they should, and many lives fell into poverty. Even children had to work some pretty terrible jobs.

And yet it’s still a period of romance. The language of flowers, courting, dancing, gorgeous dresses and long walks with a hopeful suitor. But a woman had to choose well because who she chose defined not only who she was, but also the comfort of her future. I found a diary entry by a gentleman who said he had everything he needed and it was time to get a wife to care for his home. Forgive me for not being able to give you my sources, in changing computers I’ve lost more than a few things I studied.

We all know about the dreaded corsets. They were uncomfortable and often cut off the air flow so much that women would faint. Men saw them as delicate creatures. They would be too, if they couldn’t breathe, but women have always paid for beauty, whether by cash or disfiguration. What I had never realized was that the internal organs had to go somewhere, so they were pushed up and down, away from the beautifully sculpted waist.

In my recent novel, The Carriage, my main man and heroine have to face a clash of cultures because Alexis is an independent twenty-first century woman. They learn how to compromise to make the relationship work, and my leading man, Ezra is cutting edge for his time.

The facts of the era sound discouraging, and in some ways they are, but time has proven that romance is eternal. From the beginning of time until now, love has always made the difference.

     TOUR GIVEAWAY

     http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc975 

    The Carriage Button 300 x 225 4 $10 Amazon Gift Cards

     1 $20 Amazon gift card  

     2 e-book copies

 

 

The Carriage

Jena Baxter

Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Jena Baxter Books

Date of Publication: February 16th, 15

ISBN: 978-0-9911677-2-2

ASIN: B00TOQNODQ

Number of pages: 214

Word Count: 52,313

Cover Artist: Consuelo Parra

Model: Amber Ornelas

Book Description:Carriage

A teenage girl enters a carriage in Central Park and disembarks in Victorian, England.

Cursed by her sister Brooke, Alexis Powell arrives in the Victorian Era where she meets Ezra, who was recently murdered by an assassin his brother Amos hired. Now a supernatural creature, Ezra sees into Alexis’ mind with a touch and Intrigued by her memories, offers his help only to be rebuffed for his kindness. Alexis runs away, but Ezra is unable to shake off what he saw. He follows her through the streets of London.

Vulnerable after the death of his Father, his brother’s harassment, and Alexis’ many rejections, Ezra decides to stop following her.  Alexis is unable to find work or food. Facing starvation, she steals a tomato and Ezra finds her facing the local magistrate and an angry mob. He pays for her freedom.

Finally accepting the help Ezra offers, Alexis moves into the manor he shares with his brother. Romance blossoms but the bond between Ezra and Amos is worse than Alexis’ relationship with Brooke.

While Ezra and Alexis search for a way to send her home, Amos looks for a way to kill them.

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/-2P1NTDmQww

Available at Amazon

Excerpt:

Somehow I was certain I was no longer in New York. The streets were cobblestone, and the buildings wood and brick. A lot of them were broken down, old and shabby. The alleys were filthy and smelled like shit. Exhausted, I looked for a place to hide but didn’t know where to go. When I couldn’t move another muscle, I hid behind a wooden staircase with my back against the wall and fought not to jump at every sound.

I hadn’t meant to fall asleep, and didn’t know how long I’d slept, but it looked close to mid-morning when I opened my eyes and looked around.

The women walking by were wearing long, full dresses, and big feathered hats. The men’s pants were more form fitting, not the jeans they usually wear. Some of the children running around were barefoot and downright filthy, looking as if they had been rolling in mud or playing with charcoal. I cringed when I saw a boy carrying a rat by the tail. Everything was straight out of a Dickens novel. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see little Dorrit, or Ebenezer Scrooge waltz by any minute now. I rubbed my nose with the palm of my hand. What the hell was I going to do?

This obviously wasn’t real, so I must have fallen in with a role playing community of some sort. My mother and father used to play dungeons and dragons. Maybe this was the same thing, but in the extreme.

Something slammed into my back. I screamed and turned at the sound of a woman yelling at me. The broom in her hand whooshed down again, just missing my face.

“Whoa. Hey, stop!”

What was wrong with these people? I couldn’t understand a word she said, so I ran. She chased me, swinging the broom until I left the alley.

I stopped to catch my breath, smoothed my clothes, and approached a woman in a long brown dress with a white bonnet and black boots. She stared at me like I was some sort of freak. Uh … she was the freak, not me. Maybe the men would be friendlier, but not one of them would stop. Then I saw the man that crashed into me yesterday across the road. He looked a little different, wearing a brown suit, and an odd piece of material similar to a scarf around his neck, with a top hat. He was actually still attractive in the weird clothes. Dodging carts and vendors, I made a bee-line for him. At least he wouldn’t chase me with a broom.

JenaAbout the Author:

Jena Baxter has always loved history and time travel. She liked to read, and often wrote poetry as a stress inhibitor while growing up. But like other writers, she dreamed of writing a novel. So she enrolled at the UCLA Writer’s Extension, to gain the confidence and skill to move forward.

Today Jena has a YA Fantasy novel, as well as a YA Paranormal Romance novel online and in print.

www.jenabaxter.com

http://jenabaxterbooks.blogspot.com/

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/jenabaxterbooks

https://www.facebook.com/jenabaxterbooks

https://twitter.com/@jenabaxterbooks

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8103907.Jena_Baxter

http://www.amazon.com/Jena-Baxter/e/B00M4YF352

Special Guest Post by L.J.K. Oliva, Author of A WORLD APART

Author L.J.K. Oliva has a real treat in store for us today! Check out her guest post and be sure to read to the end for a code which enables a FREE download of Ptolemy’s Tablet!!! Then stay for the preview of A WORLD APART, Book 1, Shades Below series.

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GUEST BLOG by L.J.K. Oliva

You know how some characters just get in your head and set up camp?

While I was writing my new urban fantasy novel, A World Apart (Shades Below, #1), two characters I hadn’t paid much notice to suddenly starting demanding attention.  They wouldn’t leave me alone until I finally agreed to tell their story, too.

That’s how the idea for my Shades Below Shorts was born.  Meet Rev. Emil Stone and his Peer, Misha “Puzzle” Kaslov.  Emil and Puzzle are supporting characters in the Shades Below series, but there’s so much more to them than what you’ll read in the books.

The Shades Below Shorts are M/M companion novellas to the Shades Below novels.  Below is an excerpt from the first piece, Ptolemy’s Tablet.

Allow me to introduce the guys…

A companion story to Shades Below, Book One: A World Apart

EXCERPT:Ptolemy

“You’re leaving?  Already?”

Reverend Emil Stone clapped his fedora back onto his head and aimed a fond look down at the petite woman in front of him.  The sad tone in her voice tugged at him.  Lena Alan was high on the increasingly short list of people who genuinely enjoyed his company.  He’d let most of his earthly attachments fall away long ago; yet another cost of his chosen career.

He’d almost convinced himself he didn’t miss them.

There was a knot in his throat when he clasped her in a hug.  “I’m afraid so.  This is the first real lead we’ve had so far, and it gives me an idea.  It might be nothing, but Puzzle and I need to check it out.  You never know.”

Lena held him at arms’ length.  Her vivid blue eyes bored into his.  “You promise you’ll keep me posted.”

As if the tone of her voice left him another option.  Emil grinned and dusted a kiss over her cheek.  “You know I will.”

Beside him, his partner cleared his throat and stepped out onto the porch.  Emil pretended he hadn’t heard.  Down time always set Misha Kaslov on edge.  Jesus, the man could be exhausting.  But then, Peers weren’t exactly known for their patience.

Emil rolled his eyes and turned to the man hovering behind Lena in classic older-brother fashion.  “Cyrus.” He gripped the man’s hand.  “Look after things.”

The newest addition to their motley group stood behind them, one hand behind his back, the other wrapped around the curved head of his cane.  Detective MacMillian.  Emil studied him.  Even though they’d just met, the man struck him as above average for a human.

And he was a baro, whatever that meant.

The detective met his gaze, eyes sharp.  Emil resisted the urge to squirm.  Then he bit back a laugh.  When was the last time a mundane had set him on his toes?  Perhaps Jesper MacMillian wasn’t such an odd fit in their world, after all.

Maybe, just maybe, he would survive.

He stepped forward and extended his hand.  It was a calculated risk.  MacMillian’s eyebrows went up.  He hesitated, finally grasped it in a brief but firm shake.

Emil nodded and stepped back.  “Again, thank you.  Jimmy would have spoken to us eventually, but I don’t mind saying the idea of applying more pressure was… unattractive.”

MacMillian’s jaw ticked.  “To both of us, believe me.”

Emil inclined his chin.  Torture was a nasty, messy business, even if the unfortunate mark already happened to be dead.  He turned on his heel and strode to where Misha stood waiting.  He paused, and looked back over his shoulder.  “Watch after each other.  All of you.”

Misha shifted back and forth, itching to go.  Emil finally followed him down to the sidewalk, didn’t turn when the door of The Wayfare Hotel clicked shut.

He scarcely noticed their surroundings as they walked.  Over the last decade, the mundane realm had become incidental, almost inconvenient.  Had he really lived in it for so long?  Really expended energy learning to drive, tracking down the best restaurants, stressing over gas prices?  Looking back, it all seemed so pointless.

Now he had bigger things to worry about.

“So.  Any ideas?”

Emil jerked out of his thoughts to find Misha looking at him.  “Sorry.  What?”

Misha’s lips twitched.  “Ideas.  You know.  About what’s going on around here.”

“Right.  Of course.” Emil hesitated.  Something was nagging at him.  He couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was.  Hell, it was scarcely anything at all, just a small prickle at the outermost edges of his mind.

Misha was still looking at him.  The feel of the man’s eyes made something quicken in his belly.  Emil took a deep breath.  “What if it’s not just one thing?”

Misha’s eyebrows drew together.  “What do you mean?”

Emil blew the breath back out.  “I don’t… hell, I’m not sure.  Haven’t things felt off to you lately?  I mean, more than usual?”

The crease in Misha’s forehead deepened.  “Off…?”

“Yeah, you know.  Off.  Remember Basque, a few weeks ago?  And Marrakech, last August?  I’m telling you, something’s not right.”

“Marrakech is never right in August,” Misha muttered.  He fell silent.  Finally, he nodded slowly.  “Let’s say you’re right.  One problem at a time.  Your Wayfare Hotel.  What do you make of their newest guest?”

“I’m not sure.  That detective may have gotten him to talk, but that doesn’t mean he was telling us the truth.”  Emil stopped walking.

Misha stopped too.  “You told the Alans you had an idea.”

Emil hesitated.  “I do.  Well, sort of.”

“Sort of?”

Emil shifted.  “It’s thin, but I think it merits running down, just in case.  How’s your Masri?”

“Terrible.” Misha arched an eyebrow.  “But yours isn’t.”

Emil allowed himself a tiny smile, and started walking again.  “Ha’ee’i.”

♦♦◊◊♦♦◊◊♦♦◊◊♦♦◊◊♦♦

All the Shades Below Shorts will be offered free to my newsletter subscribers, but as a thank-you for stopping by (and in a shameless bid to get you as obsessed with my new series as I am), simply punch in this code and get your free copy of Ptolemy’s Tablet: EY88Z

Extras!

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Emil/Puzzle Spotify Playlist

About the Author:

LJKL.J.K Oliva is the devil-may-care alter-ego of noir romance novelist Laura Oliva.  She likes her whiskey strong, her chocolate dark, and her steak bloody.  L.J.K. likes monsters… and knows the darkest ones don’t live in closets.

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A World Apart

Shades Below

Book One

L.J.K Oliva

WorldApartGenre: Urban fantasy

 Book Description: 

“There are things that go bump in the night, Mr. MacMillian.  It’s my job to bump back.”

Private investigator Jesper MacMillian was sure he’d seen it all.  After all, in a city like San Francisco, strange is what’s for breakfast.  Following a long  recovery after a horrific accident, his life is finally the way he wants it- or at least, close enough.  The only monsters on his radar are the ones that keep him awake at night.

All that changes the day he meets Lena Alan.

Before MacMillian has a chance to brace for impact, Lena drags him into a world where monsters aren’t just real, they’re hiding in plain sight.  Suddenly, everything he knows is suspect, starting with his current case.  For Lena, a medium since childhood, it’s just another day at the office.

For MacMillian, it’s the beginning of the end of everything he thinks he knows.

Available at Amazon

 Excerpt:

The elevator came to a stop.  The doors started to open.  MacMillian backed away and shook his head.  “Do me a favor.  Leave now.  Don’t come here again.”

He stepped into the hallway, then froze.  Clustered outside the door to the office was a horde of people, the widest slice of humanity he’d ever seen crammed into one place.  There were cowboys, businessmen, soldiers.  Native Americans, what looked to be early Chinese, and more than a few women resembling the one from the side street.

The woman stepped out of the elevator behind him.  She hissed.  “Jesus.  Is it always like this here?”

MacMillian stared down at her.  “What are you- you can see them?”

She rolled her eyes.  “Well, obviously.  I’m a medium, remember?” She started down the hallway, paused, and glanced over her shoulder.  “Are you coming?”

MacMillian hung back.  She shrugged.  “Suit yourself.”

She walked up to the edge of the crowd and cleared her throat.  “Okay, someone want to tell me what you’re all doing here?”

Multiple heads swung towards her.  An elderly man in a suit that would have been the height of fashion in the late eighteen-hundreds stepped forward.  MacMillian strained his ears, but he couldn’t hear what the man said.  The woman listened closely, made a curious sound in the back of her throat and turned back to him.  “He says there’s a medium here.  Are you sure you’re not sensitive?”

He was feeling rather sensitive, but he shook his head.  “I don’t even know what that means.”

The woman humphed.  “That’s what I thought.”  She turned back to the man.  “So you’re all here to be moved on?”

The man nodded.

Her shoulders relaxed.  She reached out and took the man’s hand in hers.  His eyes widened, then a peaceful look came over his face.  His lips turned up.  White light appeared in the center of his chest, expanded outward until his entire body glowed.  With what looked like a sigh of relief, he evaporated.

MacMillian’s jaw dropped.

The woman moved slowly through the crowd.  Hand after hand reached out for her.  She took each one, held on until its owner flashed white and disappeared.  By the time she reached the office door, the hallway was empty.  She leaned back hard against the wall and closed her eyes.

MacMillian didn’t remember moving, but somehow he was standing in front of her.  He closed his free hand around her arm and towed her inside, not stopping until they reached his office.

He slammed the door.  “What the… what was…” He dragged a sleeve across his brow.  It was drenched in sweat, but his skin felt freezing.

The woman watched him, her eyes sympathetic.  “Rough day, Magnum?”

He glared.

She sighed and rubbed her forehead.  “That, my dear detective, was the other San Francisco.  You’ve probably seen it before, just out of the corner of your eye.  You’ve probably dismissed it all your life.  Maybe you always told yourself you’d just had too much to drink.”  She paused, her gaze heavy on his face.  MacMillian squirmed.  “But I’m guessing you always knew better.”

His head was throbbing.  He shook it once, twice, but it didn’t clear.  “I don’t get it, Miss…”

“Alan,” she supplied.

He nodded.  “Ms. Alan.  Why are you here?”

Her eyes darkened.  “Because there are things that go bump in the night, Mr. MacMillian.  It’s my job to bump back.”

 

 

COVER REVEAL – From USA Today Bestselling Author, Victoria Danann

If you loved Victoria Danann’s Award Winning series, Knights of the Black Swan, you’re sure to love her new contemporary series, Sons of Sanctuary. I’ve included the cover and teaser to whet your appetite until Two Princes release date, June 16th.

Two Princes: The Biker and The Billionaire

Sons of Sanctuary

Book 1

Victoria Danann

TwoPrincesCoverGenre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: 7th House Publishing,

Imprint of Andromeda LLC

Date of Publication: June 16, 2015

Number of pages: 300

Word Count: 90,000

Cover Artist: Victoria Danann

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

Amazon    B&N   iTunes   Kobo

Book Description:

Brigid Roan is a graduate student at the University of Texas. She had no trouble getting her thesis approved, but finding a Hill Country motorcycle club willing to give her access to their lifestyle had started to seem impossible. Then she got a lead. A friend of a friend had a cousin with ties to The Sons of Sanctuary.

What she wanted was information to prove a proposition. What she didn’t want was to fall for one of the members of the club. Especially since she had set out to prove that motorcycle clubs are organized according to the same structure as primitive tribal society.

Brash Fornight was standing in line at the H.E.B. Market when his world tipped on its axis. While waiting his turn to check out, his gaze had wandered to the magazine display and settled on the new issue of “NOW”. The image on the cover, although GQ’d up in an insanely urbane way, was… him.

After reading the article, Brash threw some stuff in a duffle and left his club, The Sons of Sanctuary, with a vague explanation about needing a couple of days away. He left his Jeep at the Austin airport and caught a plane for New York, on a mission to find the guy who was walking around with his face.

Two brothers, one a player, one a playboy, are on a collision course with destiny and a woman who thought she won a prize when she was allowed a look inside the Sons of Sanctuary MC.

Excerpt:

“Sir?” Brash Fornight gradually became aware that someone behind him in the grocery checkout line was trying to get his attention. “Sir?” He refocused and glanced behind him. The woman leaning on a cart overflowing with chip bags and cookie boxes nodded toward the cashier indicating that it was his turn to move forward. Brash looked her in the eye and had to give her props. Most people wouldn’t have the balls to try to herd a guy wearing Sons of Sanctuary MC leather.

The club employed a woman who cooked and did grocery shopping several times a week as part of her job description, but Brash didn’t like to explain his relentless craving for peanuts and he liked being teased about it even less. He didn’t know whether it was the Vitamin B or the fat or just because he liked the taste, but he couldn’t imagine going a day without them.

That’s how he came to be standing statue still In the grocery checkout line, being prompted by some woman with more nerve than sense. While he was waiting, his eyes drifted over the magazine display and settled on the cover of “NOW”, on the Most Eligible Bachelor edition no less. The debonair figure staring back was wearing Brash’s own face and body. He looked different with short hair and a four thousand dollar suit with the shirt fashionably open at the neckline, but the similarity was inescapable.

On impulse he grabbed the magazine and tossed it onto the conveyor belt with his week’s stash of peanuts.

He stuffed the bags into the saddlebags of his bike and roared toward home, nervously tapping his fingers on handlebars at red lights, riding on shoulders to keep from slowing down. He was anxious to get to the privacy of his own room and read about Branach St. Germaine.

Two beers, one jar of peanuts, and one “NOW” article later, Brash was sitting on the edge of his bed looking at the wall, seeing nothing but his own heavy thoughts. He pulled out his phone, looked up a website, and waited on hold for ten minutes to hear the time of the next flight from Austin to New York.

There was a flight to Newark in a little over three hours. He looked at his watch and calculated the time it would take to drive from Dripping Springs at that time of day. As he booked the flight, he stood up, walked to the small closet, grabbed a duffel bag, and began shoving stuff into it. Ten minutes later, he closed his door and locked it, threw the duffel over his shoulder, and headed straight for the office downstairs. He dropped the duffel on the hallway floor beside the closed door and knocked.

“Yeah?” Brash looked inside, glad that his dad was by himself, and stepped in. “What’s up?”

“I’m takin’ personal time, Pop. Gonna be gone for a couple of days.”

“What the hell is ‘personal time’?”

The gruffness made Brash smile. “It means I’m not gonna be here if you call and I’m not tellin’ you why.”

The Sons of Sanctuary President looked up at Brash, over the top of his readers, and narrowed his eyes. “You got a secret?”

“Everybody’s got secrets.”

Brandon Fornight studied his son for a minute. “True enough. Is it the kind of secret that could affect this club?”

Brash shook his head. “Don’t see how.”

“Well, then. See you… When did you say you’d be back?”

“I didn’t.”

“Bein’ purposefully vague, are you?”

Brash grinned. “That’s why they call it personal time. But I expect to be back Friday.”

“You gonna have your phone with you?” When Brash nodded, Bran looked back down at his ledger in a deliberately dismissive gesture. “Well, get outta here then.”

Brash parked his bike in the airplane hangar. The structure had already been on the property when the club had bought it and turned it into a compound twenty years earlier. They used part of it for vehicle maintenance and repair and part for parking.

Some of the guys who were working looked over and shot curious glances his way when Brash threw his duffel into his pickup and started it up, but it wasn’t their way to ask questions. The Sons figured that if somebody wanted you to know something, they’d tell you.

Brash took a cab to a midtown hotel, wondering all the way why human beings would choose to live in such a place. As he slid his credit card across the hotel counter to the agent on duty, he glanced at the name, Brandon Fornight. It seemed unlikely that it was a coincidence that that the mysterious look-alike’s first name began with the same four letters. He ordered room service and pulled out his laptop.

Getting intel on the guy didn’t take advanced ops. Within an hour Brash knew where Brannach St. Germaine worked, what kind of car he drove, what kind of women he dated, who his tailor was, and where he liked to dine. There was no shortage of photos online, but the one that grabbed his attention wasn’t one of the many with starlets or debutantes on his arm. It was the one taken with his arm around his mother as they were arriving together for some red carpet fundraiser. Brash had an almost irresistible compulsion to reach up and touch her face on the screen in front of him.

The knock on the door signaled that room service had arrived. It cost a fortune, but looked and tasted like shit. So he closed the computer and went out for a walk to clear his head and find something edible.

About the Author:

USA Today Bestselling Author, Victoria Danann, is making her debut into Contemporary Romance with releases in May and June 2015, after taking the world of PNR by storm.

Her Knights of Black Swan series won Best Paranormal Romance Two years in a Row (2013, 2014). ~Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.

Victoria’s paranormal romances come with uniquely fresh perspectives on “imaginary” creatures, characters, and themes. She adds a dash of scifi, a flourish of fantasy, enough humor to make you laugh out loud, and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. Her heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, past life therapists, or financial analysts from Dallas. Her heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners – usually – whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.

The first book of the Knights of Black Swan Paranormal Romance Series, My Familiar Stranger, was nominated for Best Paranormal Romance of 2012 by both Reviewers’ Choice and Readers’ Choice Awards. All of her books have opened on the Amazon Best Sellers list and earned Night Owl Reviews Top Pick awards.

Many have appeared on Listopia Book of the Month as #1 across all genres.Danann

For books published in 2013, Black Swan won three awards.

  1. Best Paranormal Romance Series
  2. Best Paranormal Romance Novel – A SUMMONER’S TALE
  3. Best Vampire~Shifter Novel – MOONLIGHT.

In 2014, Solomon’s Sieve won Best Vampire Novel.

Photo- If you’re interested in me personally, I am also a classically trained musician who defected to Classic Rock and that’s my first love. Yeah. Even more than writing.

This is Roadhouse, the very best in Classic Rock, taken near The Last Concert Cafe, Houston Texas, 2011. I was the utility player which means I played rhythm guitar, keyboards, sang backups and a few leads.

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Author Debra Dunbar on Chicago – & Preview of THREE WISHES

Three Wishes Button 300 x 225GUEST POST FROM AUTHOR DEBRA DUNBAR

I’ve got a confession to make.  I miss Chicago.  It’s one of the reasons I set my latest paranormal romance, Three Wishes, in the city.  I. Love. Chicago.

We moved around as I was growing up, all over Ohio and Indiana.  The one constant was our summers and holidays in Maryland with my Mother’s family (where I eventually put down roots), but I miss those years I spent just over the Illinois line in Northern Indiana.

Trips to “the city” were among some of my best childhood memories.  I’d stand under the skeleton of Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Field Museum of Natural History, awed by its size.  Chinatown. Lake Shore Drive. Tour boats down the Chicago River. Miró and Chagall sculptures accessible to any passerby. I remember the first time I saw The Blues Brothers and could easily identify every street, every landmark in the movie.

I don’t miss the weather – those brutal winters with icy winds tunneling through the streets, the humid summers.  Spring and Fall were given a brief nod as the city rocketed from one extreme to the other.

Every few years I go back.  My day job has a division north of O’Hare.  Sometimes I’ll take a few days off and take the train into the city.  It’s those trips – those and the conventions downtown – that helped me set the scene for Three Wishes.

Alliance Bakery.  Tiny Polish bars. Expensive boutique stores and trendy latest-thing restaurants. Navy pier and Millennium Park.  There is so much color and spice to Chicago – too much to put in one novel.

My angel, Asta, loves the city as much as I do.  She’d give her life to protect it, to protect the humans who live there.  But she doesn’t really know them.  She’s been a voyeur, watching from the sidelines but never experiencing firsthand the richness that is Chicago.  It takes a demon to wake her up to the joys of the city, as well as the joys of love.

Want to see Chicago through an angel’s eyes? Three Wishes will take you there!

About the Author:dunbar

After majoring in English with a concentration in Medieval Literature and Folklore studies, Debra promptly sold out to the corporate world, occasionally writing marketing copy and op/ed articles for a local city paper. By day, she designs compensation programs, after dark she stuffs her nose into obscure mythology, and feverishly writes her novels. A DEMON BOUND is her debut novel.

Debra lives on a farm in Maryland with Sweetie, three sons, and a Noah’s ark of four legged family members. She drives an old PT Cruiser, couldn’t carry a tune if you duct taped it to her back, and enjoys an occasional cosmopolitan (heavy on the vodka). On a good day, she jogs and horseback rides, hopefully managing to keep the horse between herself and the ground. Her only known super power is ‘Identify Roadkill’.

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Three Wishes

Debra Dunbar

3wishesGenre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Anessa Books

Date of Publication: March 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1505671193

ASIN: B00RKE5608

Number of pages: 229

Word Count: 79,000

Cover Artist: Phatpuppy Art

Book Description:

Dar helped his foster sister become the ruler of Hel, and helped her free the enslaved humans from the elves. It’s about time he helped himself – to a fun week of mayhem in the Windy City. Collapsing a few buildings and corrupting politicians is an ideal vacation for a demon in Chicago, but Dar didn’t count on a beautiful angel sabotaging his fun and putting him to work.

Asta is an angelic enforcer, scanning for demons in her assigned territory and sending them to an early grave. Unfortunately, the latest trespasser from Hel has diplomatic immunity – but immunity doesn’t mean she can’t coerce him into helping her track and dispatch the powerful demon that’s been cycling in and out of her radar for the last few days.

Demons are the sworn enemies of every angel, but Asta must learn to trust Dar or the dark presence that is growing in Chicago will spread – and this particular enemy has the skills and knowledge to send human civilization back to the dark ages.

She has one week left as an enforcer before she returns to her heavenly home – one week to catch an elusive monster, and one week to safeguard her heart from the demon who is determined to seduce her to sin.

Available at Amazon     iTunes    BN

Three Wishes Banner 851 x 200

Excerpt:

Stupid revolving doors.  What idiot thought these things were a good method of entering a building? She stood watching as the door made its circuitous route. Could she time it so she actually managed to get in between the sections?  The last time, she’d been knocked backwards onto the pavement.  That wouldn’t be a graceful entrance given her current dress and sky-high stilettos.

“Need help?”

She recognized his voice even before the faint energy trickled across her skin with its siren song.  How did he do that?  Thank Aaru all demons weren’t as stealthy as Dar, or her job would be nearly impossible. As she turned, she realized that with her heels, she towered over him.  In flats, she was the same height as the demon, but the shoes she loved so much put Dar’s chin right at her bosom — a fact he’d quickly realized and had taken advantage of.

“Want me to get the door for you?” he asked her breasts.

“Did you make reservations?  Otherwise we can skip the revolving door and just head over to Taco Bell.”

The demon chuckled and brushed a curl from her bare shoulder, his fingers lingering against her neck while his eyes explored the skin north of her cleavage.  “Of course I made reservations.  I didn’t want you to give me any excuse to not eat tonight.”

“I swore I’d play your game tonight as long as you help me catch the other demon. I’ll eat anything you put in front of me.”

Why did that cause the demon to nearly fall over laughing?  Did he have something in particular he wanted her to eat, the thought of which was giving him such amusement?

Oh.  Yeah, that probably wasn’t the best thing for her to say given his proclivity toward the sin of lust.

Wiping his eyes, still chuckling, Dar strode forward, stopping the revolving door to the angry protests of those trapped inside.  “Then let us dine, my angel.”

Asta took a deep breath and walked past him, putting her palms on the front of the glass as she’d seen the humans do.  Hopefully he wouldn’t bump her out as he had the other evening.  With these shoes on, she’d probably land face-first on the plush carpet.

“Ready?”

She should have known he’d squeeze into the tiny space behind her, pressing the full length of his form against her back and rear.  Asta tried to scoot forward, only to find herself sandwiched between the demon and the glass.  The humans yelled at them to move, but Dar held still, his body warm and powerful.

“Maybe we should just stay here a while.” His hips shifted and Asta felt something stir to life, hard and firm against her buttocks.

She’d told him no sex, but rubbing against her in the doorway wasn’t off limits.  And it was most definitely brought with it welcome sensations.  “We need to move,” Asta said with regret.  She tried to push the door forward, but Dar had it wedged in place.  The trapped humans began to pound on the glass.

“I love pissing them off,” he whispered against her hair.  “So much anger over such a minor inconvenience.  The gifts of Aaru seem to have turned them into a bunch of minor demons, don’t you agree?”

It did seem a fair comparison at the moment, but Asta hadn’t squandered her century here.  She’d seen sparks of divinity in the human race, and no demon was going to convince her otherwise.

She shifted to look at him over her shoulder, rubbing herself along his body in the process.  Oh stars, this felt good.  If only those darned humans weren’t causing such a racket. “You’re being inconsiderate.” Her voice was breathless. “They have a right to be angry. And they’re still very early in their evolution.  Give them another ten-thousand years or so, and I think you’ll find they’re more angelic.”

Home is Where You Park It

Some of you may have noticed my blog feed has been sporadic of late, as well as undergoing a few subtle changes. There’s a reason for that . . . the call of the wild. Gypsy fever. Nomadic life. Full time RVing.

parkscampgrounds_heroYep. Me, hubby, the dog and cat are about to become Happy Campers. I’ve always had an adventurous spirit but never found the right time to fully embrace it. Until now. We’ve been mentally preparing for this daunting change for about six months but are just now purging possessions. I call it downsizing panic. I’m excited.  But nervous. Eager. But bittersweet about giving up my “stuff”. I tell myself material things do not make a person. So why is it so hard to let go?

It’s been a difficult couple of years. My writing took a backseat while I helped our daughter and her family adjust to a special needs baby. A wonderful but emotionally draining experience. It’s hard to be creative when your heart hurts.  Thank God everyone is doing well and on the right track. Now . . . time to resurrect my writing career. I’m almost finished with the first book in a new, cozy style mystery series and excited to get it out there. I’m sure many of my fans have forgotten me but hopefully we can reconnect while I earn a few new ones.

New books. New life.

Everyone thinks full time RVing is a long “vacation” but it’s so much more. It’s a lifestyle. It’s tiny house living on wheels. It’s minimizing every single aspect of your world. It’s slowing down to enjoy life, embracing the wonders of nature and  returning to – or discovering – a simpler existence.  I’m looking forward to long walks, uninterrupted writing time, and watching the sun set over mountain tops and desert floors. With a glass of wine, of course.

Hubby and I are torn between two styles of RV’s – a Fifth Wheel and a Class A. Owners of each type are passionate in their belief that theirs is the best rig for living on the road. Pros – I like the interior of Fifth Wheels, the added option of a vehicle in which to explore, and the easier turning radius when driving. Cons include less storage area and more time setting up camp. Class A’s have tons of underbelly storage, easy set up, and comfortable travelling for us and the pets. Downsize is . . . the size! It’s a little intimidating to drive a 37-40′ beast around, much less parking it. If we don’t pull a “toad” or tow behind vehicle, we are limited to renting a car for local excursions which is probably cheaper and safer but still a hassle. What to do? We’ve flip-flopped so much on this decision I’m getting dizzy! Whatever we decide, we are adamant about making the purchase in April and being on the road by the end of May.

I’m already building a new website for our adventure and will introduce it soon. DebSanders dot com will remain my author site. The other will serve as a travelogue – with a bonus.  I plan to research local lore and myths while wandering from place to place, then write short stories based on those legends. It will be a fun diversion in between novels.

I’ll still be posting book reviews from time to time on this site, as well as more articles about the craft and industry. And who knows what other tidbits might appear? Stay tuned and find out.