#BookBlitz “Calamity at Cattori V” by D.H. Dhaenens

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Pulp Sci-Fi, LGBT

Date Published: January 2022

 

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Can you rise up and be a hero even when you’ve lived among criminals all your life?

When Tommy is entrusted with a special power he has to make a decision.

Fight to uncover what is off about Cattori V or keep his head down and focus on getting a ride off of the prison planet he was born on?

When he finally uncovers the secret of Cattori V, it may just be too late for him and everyone on the planet…

~~~

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About the Author

Daphne D’Haenens writes about grumpy mages from her London flat. Born in Belgium, she moved to the UK after graduating from her studies in Applied Linguistics, and has been enjoying the British weather ever since.

She lives with her loving wife and two ginger cats writing a little every day. All while collecting very frilly dresses and occasionally taking a break to be an adult.

 

 

 

 

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#CoverReveal “Royally Complicated” by Gwyn McNamee and Christy Anderson

**COVER REVEAL**

ROYALLY COMPLICATED

by Gwyn McNamee and Christy Anderson

Photographer – Michelle Lancaster

Model – JJ Michaels

Genre: Standalone Royal Romance

#RoyallyComplicated #CoverReveal

PRE ORDER NOW: books2read.com/RoyallyComplicated

BLURB

Sex on the beach with a smoking hot stranger…

I blame the tequila.

And the way he rode the waves like he owned them.

And the delicious way the water trickled down over his washboard abs and the V thingy.

And the fact that I’m on the trip that was supposed to be my honeymoon until I caught the bastard cheating.

Yeah, I’m going to blame it on all that.

Because reckless behavior is so not usually me.

But surfer god Fyn is a breath of fresh air I so badly need.

A break from reality of the world around me.

One he seems to need, too.

It’s a single wild moment in my otherwise structured life that seems to be crumbling.

A perfect snapshot in time…

Until the royal guard shows up looking for him.

Turns out the king of the waves is actually a prince.

A real one next in line for the throne.

And I just banged him on the sand.

People say a one-night stand can be good for you, especially after a break-up.

I’m starting to question that advice.

Because finding my prince is only the beginning…

Things are about to get royally complicated.

PRE ORDER: books2read.com/RoyallyComplicated

 

#ReleaseBlitz “Marquess of Magic (Sisterhood of Secrets Book 3)” by Jennifer Monroe

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Sisterhood of Secrets, Book Three

Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Date Published: May 19, 2022

Publisher: WOLF Publishing

 

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In this mesmerizing Regency romance by Jennifer Monroe, a mysterious
marquess and a misunderstood beauty need to realize that when love and magic
mingle with desire, the results can be extraordinary…

Spellbound by a glamorous man…

Miss Diana Kendricks is the rarest of young women: She is actually looking forward to becoming a lifelong spinster!

Disillusioned by what she has seen of married life, she eagerly awaits the day when she is considered securely “on the shelf.” However, Diana fails to take into account the most treacherous twist—her own traitorous heart, which finds itself skipping a beat when she meets Lord James Barrington, mysteriously labeled as the Marquess of Magic.

Love is the greatest enchantment of all…

Lord Barrington has always loved magic. Since childhood, he has found it thrilling to perform illusions and conjurations, to shock an audience, and leave them breathless. But in ordinary life, no magic can vanish away the dangerous secret he hides. James should not even be considering marriage.

But when he chances upon Diana, she seems like his perfect match—beautiful, witty, with similar interests to his own. He cannot risk losing her to another suitor, and soon James has hopelessly ensnared both their hearts. 

But James’s secret will not stay hidden in the shadows. When it comes to love, the truth may be the greatest magic trick of all—and James must soon reveal it, lest he lose his one true love forever…

~~~

The Full Sisterhood of Secrets Series

#1 Duke of Madness

#2 Baron of Rake Street

#3 Marquess of Magic

#4 Earl of Deception

#5 Knight of Destiny

#6 Captain of Second Chances

Amazon

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About the Author

Jennifer Monroe writes Regency romances you can’t resist. Her stories are filled with first loves and second chances, dashing dukes, and strong heroines. Each turn of the page promises an adventure in love and many late nights of reading.

With over twenty books published, her nine-part series, The Secrets of Scarlett Hall, which tells the stories of the Lambert Children, remain a favorite with her readers.

 

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#ReleaseBlitz “A Wrinkle in the Mind” by Bruce M. Perrin

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The Mind Sleuth Series

 

Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Date Published: May 18, 2022

Publisher: Mind Sleuth Publications

 

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When Violet Cruz accused U.S. Representative Alan Barclay of being “the spawn of a Martian whore” and took a shot at him, everyone
agreed that she was delusional. It was just another conspiracy theory in Washington, DC, where such bizarre claims had become all too common.

Tiring of the media harassing the family, however, Cruz’s cousin brought the case to Private Investigator Rebecca Marte. She figured that the public was probably right. Rebecca was, however, willing to give the case another look as Cruz’s sudden, total break from reality without any apparent cause was almost as strange as her beliefs.

With his background in psychology, working with Sam “Doc” Price made sense to Rebecca and she welcomed him as a consultant. But soon, the two, who had worked so well in the past, found themselves at each other’s throats. She dropped him from the investigation, but with his “dog with a bone” determination, Doc went on alone.

Unfortunately, the now-divided team was going after an adversary more cunning and more ruthless than any they’ve faced before. If they’d realized the odds of their survival apart, they would have found a way to put their differences aside before it was too late.

~~~

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

 

There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who
face reality;

and then there are those who turn one into the other.

Desiderius Erasmus

Dutch philosopher

 Wednesday, April 6

Morning, The National Mall, Washington, DC

“At least you didn’t have to take a bullet for the
guy.”

Renee Portnell heard the words but made no attempt to find their meaning in
the fog of pain that filled her mind. Rather, she watched in numbed
disbelief as a trickle of blood inched closer to a Washington Senators
baseball cap that sat on the sidewalk. She had to be ten yards away sitting
on a park bench and the sun was just beginning to crest the buildings
ringing the National Mall, but with a half-dozen Washington DC Metropolitan
Police Department cars now parked on the grass, all with their headlights
blazing, she could move another ten and the horror of the scene
wouldn’t fade.

“Government, right?”

Portnell slowly turned toward the sound of the voice beside her, an MPD
officer, his name already forgotten. “What?”

“The guy? I heard he was a senator or something. Figured you’d
have to take a bullet for him if it came to that.”

“U.S. Representative Alan Barclay,” said Portnell, every word
drawn out like she was from the deep south rather than Connecticut.
“Although, that’s Secret Service, not private protection
services.”

Portnell shook her head to clear it, each of her senses slowly returning to
the here and now, each becoming preternaturally acute for an instant before
succumbing to the next. She heard the murmur of voices filled with urgency
and authority all around. She registered the acrid smell of car exhaust
mixing with the sickly-sweet of cherry blossoms that had reached their peak
the week before. She tasted gunpowder on her tongue, her saliva no match for
its bitterness. But when her gaze fell on the woman lying on the sidewalk,
the round-robin of sensations ended. She couldn’t pull her eyes away.
And all the while she wondered, how could Barclay’s ball cap have
landed so close to the woman and so far from him?

The police and paramedics had already moved away from the female. Portnell
wasn’t surprised. She’d always been an excellent shot and any of
the four rounds she’d squeezed off could have been fatal. The only
difference between them and the thousand she’d fired before today was
that the previous ones had only penetrated paper. These last four had found
flesh and bone, blood and muscle. As she watched, the woman’s blood
inched ever closer to the cap.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, Portnell knew. In her eight years
with the military police, she had never fired her sidearm in the line of
duty. And when she had retired, her recruitment into the private sector had
emphasized the fact that female body guards were often instrumental in
de-escalating violence. But when the threat is shooting at your client,
gender is not going to stop the onslaught. Only a bullet could.

“Renee, look at me.” The drop in his volume pulled
Portnell’s eyes to the officer’s face. “From what I hear,
you got nothing to worry about. The shooting was righteous. She shot first
and you have the right to protect yourself and others from deadly force.
Only question seems to be, she get off two shots or three?”

Portnell thought it could have been more. Hadn’t she stared in
disbelief for seconds? Hadn’t she fumbled with her firearm when
drawing it from her shoulder holster? The only thing that had gone smoothly
was the Weaver stance-aim-fire sequence, a routine that was burned into her
muscle memory from those thousand practice shots at targets that she
couldn’t harm.

“Not that you need insurance, but she was obviously a wacko,”
said the officer. “I mean, what the hell was it she said?”

Portnell stared at the man’s face, wondering how many times she was
going to have to repeat those words? Of course, it wasn’t like
she’d ever forget them. “When she first approached, she said,
‘You must find it hard to represent the folks back
home.’”

There was nothing particularly memorable in that part of her statement, but
her voice was so melodic, almost childlike. Perhaps that was why, when
Portnell started forward to ask the woman to move on, Barclay had given her
“the signal”—a hand held low at his side, palm facing
backward. Of course, the woman’s physical appearance may have played a
part in his decision as well. Although Barclay had a reputation as a family
man, even he could dream and the woman was the stuff of men’s
dreams—a dark, exotic beauty in a pure white dress.

“Then, she said, ‘I mean, it’s gotta be tough for the
spawn of a Martian whore like you.’”

“Spawn of a Martian whore,” said the MPD officer, chuckling and
shaking his head. “Where the heck do these kooks get this crap? I
mean, you knew the guy better than me. There’s no truth to her words,
right?” The officer laughed again like it was the funniest thing
he’d ever heard. Portnell just stared.

She suspected that it was the incongruity of the hate in the woman’s
words and the lilting tone that had carried them to her ears that had caused
her hesitation. She remembered thinking, could this be real? She knew, of
course, that this might happen one day. But in her mind’s eye, it was
always the silhouette of a crazed man. It was the practice target of the
firing range given life.

But while her response had been hesitant, the woman hadn’t
vacillated. A gun materialized in her hand where moments before there had
been none. The crack of her first shot brought Portnell out of her trance.
She reached for her handgun, but it caught for an instant on her jacket. The
woman fired again. Portnell saw Barclay spin to the ground out of the corner
of her eye, perhaps as a defensive reaction, but probably from the impact of
the round. His cap flew from his head, which now explained where it had
landed on the sidewalk.

Her handgun came free and from that instant on, she no longer needed to
think. Each of her four shots produced a new bloom of red on the
woman’s simple white dress. But unlike Barclay, she stayed upright, as
if she was one of the paper targets hung from the carrier at the firing
range. Finally, the woman crumpled to the ground.

“Two,” said Portnell, the words indistinct in her ears.

“What?”

“She fired twice.”

The officer didn’t say anything, but Portnell could hear him moving.
After a moment, the man crouched down in her line of sight. Her vision
dimmed and she collapsed to her back on the bench. The officer yelled,
“Get a paramedic over here. She’s going into shock.” It
sounded like he was twenty yards away, not standing over her.

Lying down helped, and Portnell’s vision and hearing cleared a bit.
She rolled to her side, watching as the trickle of crimson reached the bill
of the baseball cap. Now, the darkening fabric marked the slow march of the
woman’s blood. She stared at the woman’s face. Once, it had
reflected an energy to match her voice, but now, it looked more like frozen
stone, her naturally dark complexion faded from the loss of blood. Only her
eyes seemed to show signs of the person she had been; they twinkled with an
inner light, although Portnell knew that was impossible.

Another man appeared in her line of sight. “Stay with me,
ma’am.” He turned away. “Get that stretcher over here.
Now!”

It was help, and Portnell thought she should feel relieved. She
didn’t. She knew no one could help her with what she needed
most—getting the image of the beautiful woman in white with the
melodic voice out of her mind forever.

~~~

  About the Author

Bruce Perrin has been writing for more than 25 years, although you will find much of that work in professional technical journals or conference proceedings. But after completing a PhD in Industrial/Organization
Psychology and spending a number of years in the research and development of advanced learning technology with a major aerospace company, he’s now
applying his background to writing. Not surprisingly, most of his work falls in the techno-thriller, mystery, and hard science fiction genres, examining where technology and psychology meet, now and in the future.

In addition to pounding the keyboard, Bruce likes to tinker with home automation and is an avid hiker, logging nearly 2,500 miles a year in the first eight years of Fitbit ownership. When he is not on the trails, he lives with his wife in Aurora, CO. For a closer look at his writing life, book reviews, and progress on his upcoming works, please join him at
brucemperrin.com.

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#BookTour “The Order of the Fallen” by Jacqueline Marinaro

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Fantasy/Romance

 

Date Published: Jan. 24, 2022

Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.

Achaiah knew the dangers of falling to earth for the love of his human, Nev. When Nev falls for her guardian angel, Achaiah, she is unaware of the danger that their love puts her in. That’s why fallen angels have one rule: Never fall in love with a human.

~~~

EXCERPT

Nev

I woke up Friday morning at my usual time. School was over now. I had nothing to do. I figured I’d spend the morning looking for part-time jobs. I didn’t want to be a bum until I decided what to do with my life.

After showering and heading downstairs with my laptop in tow, I plopped on the soft couch and opened my Dell. I visited a few job sites and applied at several places. I felt satisfied I’d done enough after about an hour. I closed my laptop and turned on the TV. Flipping erratically through the stations, I didn’t see anything that caught my attention. I wasn’t much of a TV watcher anyway. I would watch the occasional show but for the most part I didn’t like TV.

I thought about the books sitting alone on my bookcases upstairs. Mentally, I perused the titles I had and thought I could use a few more. I visited the bookstore to buy books today instead of bringing a book with me to read. I hadn’t planned on spending as much time there as I normally did since I was only browsing.

Nervously, I walked through the doors where the air conditioning swirled around me instantly causing goose bumps to erupt. After yesterday, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Achaiah if I saw him. Would he talk to me? Would he be the Achaiah I first met, or the one who came out of nowhere yesterday with those boys? I decided I wasn’t going to let my nerves get the best of me. If I saw him, fine. If not, fine too.

After about an hour of perusing, I found several books I wanted to buy. I wasn’t bothered by anyone here and wound up finding more books than I thought I would. I didn’t see either Ally or Achaiah. I carried my books to the register and was planning on paying and then going home to start in on one of my new books. On my way out with my loot, a deep voice called my name from somewhere behind me. It was Achaiah.

“Hi,” I said. I hadn’t seen him at the café so I wondered if he just got there.

“I’m just getting off work,” he said.

“I didn’t see you at the café,” I said, perplexed. Was he hiding?

“I was in back. We had a delivery today. James and Jen were manning the counter.”

“Oh.” That explained why I hadn’t seen him.

Before I knew it, he had taken my books for me in one fluid motion. I don’t know how he managed to do this effortlessly without me even noticing. We started walking to the parking lot.

“Want to go for a drive?” he asked, already guiding me toward his car, not mine.

“Where to?” I asked.

“Do you like playing pool?”

I did. I loved pool. I was horrible at it but I loved it. I accepted his invitation and he drove us to a little pool hall nearby. I was thrilled as we entered because it wasn’t smoky. I hated cigarette smoke, which is why I usually stayed away from playing pool. The times I did play pool, I would leave after a short while because the smoke affected me. Then I would go home, strip and shower. I didn’t have to worry about that here. It was a great establishment and completely smoke-free. It was dimly lit except for the lights dangling down above each pool table and it boasted loud music but not so loud it drowned out conversation. The hall wasn’t crowded—another bonus.

Achaiah racked up the table for us and offered me the first shot to break up the balls. I declined and let him go for it. I watched as his sleek muscular frame bent over the table. His strong hands gripped the pool stick seductively. He placed his left hand on the green of the table, a tower of strength. He slipped his fingers over the end of the stick and with his right hand, pulled the stick back. I couldn’t help but stare. He was wearing a black cotton tee today that covered his skin with very little slack. The cotton hugged every muscle. I was suddenly warm.

His right arm, grabbing the stick, followed through his left hand swiftly and struck the cue ball hard. The initial boom of the cue ball colliding with the others was loud and sharp—completely overpowering the music. It was the most impressive break I had ever seen. I was mesmerized. He was mesmerizing.

He sunk three solid balls in that break. It was still his turn. He kept sinking solids until there was only one left and he missed. It looked like he missed on purpose to me.

“Your turn,” he said, looking at me with a coy smile. It was hard to tear my eyes away from his.

“I have to follow that?” I said and chuckled—hopping off the stool I decided to sit on while he was single handedly sinking every ball.

Nervously, I chalked the end of my stick. This was a redundant action because there was already plenty of chalk on the end. I felt self-conscious as I leaned over the table and lined up my shot. He was watching me intently. I took my shot and missed horribly. Not only had I missed—I hit the cue so low it jumped off the table and flew right at Achaiah’s head. He easily moved aside to let the ball through then went to find it. I covered my face with my hands; I was so embarrassed. I had nearly decapitated him.

“I think you missed,” he joked when he came back. I looked up at him utterly mortified. The cue ball was held high in his hand.

He laughed. It wasn’t like he was laughing at me, but rather laughing at something really funny I had missed. I wondered what had made him chuckle so much. He gingerly placed the ball on the green felt next to us and walked toward me very slowly.

“You have a blue handprint on your face,” he said sweetly with a large grin. Before I could move, he grazed my face with the gentle brush of his fingers. His touch was soft and unexpected. He removed the blue from my skin as though he were cleaning a wound with great care.

I looked down at my hand when he was done. I had fiddled with the chalk so much while I watched him play; I hadn’t realized blue painted my whole hand. I laughed at myself. It was typical of me. I wasn’t surprised in the least but a bit embarrassed—a theme I noticed when I was around him. He watched me laughing at what I had done and I could tell he was enjoying this a little too much.

He allowed me to retake the shot again. “Obviously, it was the ball’s fault,” he said, attempting to make me feel better.

This time, I kept all the balls on the table but not one ball found a home in any of the pockets. I was really bad. It was worse with me playing with him; I hated the feeling of being watched and thought of that stupid song about being watched in the shower. Achaiah wasn’t creepy like that, but I was acutely aware of his eyes on me.

After two more games of him easily winning, I had enough of playing. I was so bad there was no point in me even trying. He could tell I was no longer in the mood to play but what he failed to realize was how much I enjoyed watching him play.

“How about we give the balls a rest for today?” He offered kindly. I was grateful for the offer but a little sad I couldn’t watch him play more. I agreed. We left and walked next door to get some ice cream. It was my idea and he was happy to oblige.

I ordered a chocolate with rainbow sprinkles in a cup and he ordered a plain vanilla in a cup. We took a seat at one of the tables outside. The weather was gorgeous today. The temperature was perfect. I loved days like this. It reminded me a little of autumn, my favorite season. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t hot. It was perfect.

“It’s nice out,” I said as we took our seats. He nodded in agreement.

“Do you like working at the bookstore?” I asked. I wasn’t exactly sure what to ask. I still had so many questions but I decided it was best to move slowly, benignly. Our conversation at the store yesterday centered around nothing in particular and was a success, so I used that tactic again.

“It has benefits,” he said, staring at me. There seemed to be a double meaning in his words.

“What about you? Do you have a job?” He asked me.

“Not yet, but I’m looking for one. Out of school, now into the real world,” I chuckled.

“How long have you lived here?”

“My mom just moved here a few months ago. We move around a lot. I like it here though. It’s been my favorite move so far,” I said and took a spoonful of my ice cream.

I told him bits and pieces about my past and how hard it’s been on me moving around so much. I told him about my mom and how close we were despite her incessant need to relocate every year. He listened attentively and didn’t seem bored with what I considered my boring life.

“My favorite thing is reading,” I said, when the conversation transitioned to my spare time.

“I gathered that,” he said sarcastically. A warm breeze made a small patch of his hair sweep lightly to the side.

“I thought I’d mention it in case you weren’t one to see the obvious,” I replied coyly taking a spoonful of my melted ice cream and feeling the breeze now gently kiss my skin.

I enjoyed his company but it felt so one-sided because we were always talking about me. There was so much I didn’t know about him that I yearned to know.

“What about you?” I asked.

“What about me?” Achaiah asked innocently.

“Well, we always talk about me. What about you? I know very little.”

“What do you want to know?” he replied, his voice calm and even.

I shrugged. I wanted to know everything. I guess what was foremost on my mind was why he liked me. I didn’t feel comfortable broaching that subject yet.

“Do you have any siblings?” I asked. I thought maybe I could get started this way with something simple.

“Yes,” he said, without divulging more.

“How many?” I egged him on. You’d think we were at the dentist and I was pulling teeth. He wasn’t giving much up at all.

“Too many to count,” he said seriously.

So it seemed as though he came from a big family.

“I don’t have any siblings,” I said. “Is it tough sharing with all your siblings?”

“No.” He looked thoughtful as he spoke. “It’s not like

that with my family. We get along so well.”

“Do you like it here or do you miss it up north?” I asked hoping I could keep this conversation going a little. He wasn’t giving me much.

“It was nice up north, but the view here is better,” he said smiling at me.

I could feel myself blush. I liked him. There was no way around that. I just liked him. I wanted more.

“Do you have any family around here?” I asked.

“One brother lives nearby,” he said still staring with those green eyes that were impossibly real.

The temperature dropped several degrees and I started to get chilly. Coupled with the ice cream I felt goose bumps erupt all over my arms. I quickly hugged myself and started rubbing my arms trying to make some friction.

“I’m sorry I don’t have a sweater for you. Why don’t we get going back to the bookstore? I can put some heat on in the car for you,” he said and rose from the seat across from me seeming genuinely concerned that I was feeling cold.

“It’s almost summer, we shouldn’t need the heat on,” I retorted feeling awkward I was so cold in what most people would consider very pleasant weather.

He simply smiled at me and I gave in and followed him to the car. As he drove me back to my car I couldn’t help but think there was something about him that was different from every other guy I had ever met. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I liked it though. I liked that he was different.

When he dropped me off at my car neither one of us made specific plans for another day but he said, “I’ll see you later,” very casually. I nodded and got out of the car wishing I had turned his later into a specific date but reminded myself to be relaxed. He waited until I was safely in the car and I began driving before he drove off. As I drove home my thoughts were only of him. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Graduation day was miserable. Instead of the beautiful sunny day they always show on TV, it rained all day. The school had to change venues and hold commencement in the auditorium instead of outside in the courtyard as they had planned. It was a good thing our school was not one of those schools with several hundred graduating seniors. The class of 2021 at Cheshire High had one hundred twenty-seven graduating seniors. We all fit snugly into the auditorium with no room to spare.

The auditorium was a new edition to the school, built for use by the drama department but many schools in the area used it for their plays because it was so big. It was perfect for our needs. The school had worked very hard at making it look as beautiful inside as it was outside. They pulled it off with the white and blue streamers swaying softly above us to the white rose on each student’s chair, a symbol of new beginnings.

I had to get to school early because I volunteered to make sure the caps and gowns were dispersed. My mom was planning on meeting me there and afterward she proposed taking me out to dinner. I was looking forward to getting the graduating part over with.

“You look nervous,” I said to Beth, as I walked to the back room of the auditorium where students were given their caps and gowns. Beth was standing there in her royal blue cap and gown—a beautiful shiny gold stole swimming around her neck, signifying she was the valedictorian. She was looking down at her notes and I noticed the paper shaking slightly.

“What?” Beth asked, as she looked up and saw it was me. “Oh, Nev, I didn’t see you there. I think I’m a little nervous.” She gave a nervous laugh and held up her speech.

Beth looked beautiful today. Without her normal elderly-looking clothing, her face was on full display. With the exception of her glasses, she was stunning. The gown made her eyes stand out even more and she wore her hair down today, splayed softly around her shoulders.

“I’m sure you’ll do great,” I began, “did you get some ideas from Mrs. Jones?”

“Nev, I can’t do this. What was I thinking? This is a mistake; I can’t go through with this.” Panic was creeping into her voice. She looked at me earnestly, looked to me for guidance as her eyes began to get bigger with fear.

I walked over to her and gave her a big hug. It was the first thing that crossed my mind. I believed in her and I needed her to know that. I took a step back and kept my right hand on her right shoulder, rubbing soothingly.

“You can do this, Beth. When I first came here, it was your notes that got me through my first exam. You are President of the Honor Society, you tutor after school, and you have perfect grades. If anyone can do this,” I said eagerly, “you can do it. I know whatever you have to say to us will be worth listening to.” I dropped my arm back to my side. I looked at her and waited.

“You really think so?” she asked and bit her lip.

“No one could do it better, I promise. I’ll be right there cheering you on from the audience. You can do this, Beth. You are the best in our class. Now the whole school will get to see why you’re our valedictorian.”

She blinked and pursed her lips in resignation. A big smile swept across her face. Her shoulders noticeably relaxed and she took in a deep breath and exhaled calmly.

“Thanks, Nev,” she said, “I needed that. It was sweet—what you said. I guess I just needed a moment where I’m not so perfect. I’m okay now, really.”

“I’ve been looking forward to your speech all week,” I told her and meant it. She still looked a bit pale but I knew she would be okay. She just needed to keep breathing.

After Beth was situated I looked through the caps and gowns to get mine. I was wearing a black shift dress and heels. I felt very grown up and almost disappointed I had to cover my outfit in a polyester gown. I grabbed my gown and zipped myself up. I looked in the mirror and placed the cap on my head and positioned it just right. I was as ready as I’d ever be.

Commencement began promptly at four p.m. During the procession, I looked into the crowd and saw without searching—my mother. She was sitting solemnly next to Mr. Barnum. I wondered if she knew he was my chemistry teacher. Every so often I would see him lean close to whisper something. I wondered what they were talking about. I didn’t think they knew each other.

Even from that distance, I could see how beautiful my mother was. She was wearing an emerald green dress. It was a beautiful dress and with her in it she put most people to shame. It was sleeveless, satiny and elegant. It was her day to be proud of me but as I stood there, I couldn’t help being proud of her. She was shining. I wondered if Mr. Barnum had seen the same in her. That would explain why he chose to sit with her.

Shortly before I took my seat, I saw Achaiah in the crowd sitting next to Ally. He looked statuesque even from this distance. I didn’t know he would be here. Was he here for me? I smiled. I repeatedly told myself he must have been a guest of someone else. Surely he wasn’t here for me. I’d only known him about a week and it would have been ridiculous to think he showed up for me.

I forced my eyes to look away from Achaiah and move forward but I was stuck. I was free to stare at him from this distance because no one would know who, or what, caught my attention. To the crowd, it would just look like I was gazing at no one in particular. It was somewhat freeing. As the line moved I did as well never allowing my stare to falter. I took my seat and felt butterflies in my stomach. He was here. Then it dawned on me, I had yet to get up on stage and accept my diploma. Light airy butterflies turned to stone ones in my stomach. They were hard and heavy and caused a pain that was a cross between nerves and terror.

What if I fall? I was prone to accidents, especially when under pressure. I now felt the anxiety Beth had when she had her freak out moment. I didn’t think mine would dissipate as fast as hers, though. If I fell, Achaiah would see. He’d know how pitiful I was. He would never want to see me again. These thoughts crowded my head and I closed my eyes and remembered to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Just like Beth. But unlike Beth I had to force this. I laughed to myself because people always told pregnant women to breathe like this and it was doing absolutely nothing for me. I couldn’t imagine it doing anything more for a pregnant woman either, other than irritating an obviously already irritated woman.

Once we were all seated the principal began the ceremony. By the time we got to the valedictorian’s speech I had turned around several times to see that Achaiah was staring at me the whole time. I felt like they turned the heat way up in here but I also felt a little happy on the inside.

Beth’s speech was moving. I watched her intently and remembered I had to be her rock. At first she looked mainly at me but shortly into the speech she gained her confidence and began looking around the room. Somewhere in the middle of her speech, I came into a rhythm of breathing on my own. I was trying to focus on her words and not my own fears. By the end, the student body rose in synchronism to give her a standing ovation. I cheered and clapped loudly along with the rest of the student body. Beth smiled brightly. She had done it. I knew she could.

Beth was led off the stage to join the rest of us. When the applause died down and we all sat down, the principal gave a short speech before beginning to read the names on the list of graduates.

Before I knew it, Mrs. Reynolds, one of the English teachers, signaled our line to get up and move toward the stage. I rose slowly but forced myself not to look in Achaiah’s direction. I just couldn’t look at him. If I did, I knew I would trip over my own two feet and make a complete fool of myself. I was listening intently to the principal enunciate the names of the students in front of me. Slowly, the line moved forward until there were only four in front of me. Vincent. Walters. Williams. Wilson.

I was now at the bottom of the stairs watching Jesse Wilson, the running back on our football team, accept his diploma. He walked gracefully across the stage, shook the hand of Vice Principal Adams and with his right hand still interlocked, took his diploma with his left hand. He shook the hand of Principal Powell, moved his tassel from the left side to the right side and walked off the stage hooting, while the rest of the football team hooted back.

Principal Powell allowed the extra cheering and continued down the list. “Wynters, Nevaeh,” she boomed into the microphone at the podium and looked at me with a gleaming face as she had the students before me.

This was it. Without thinking, I trudged up the steps to the stage. I kept my head held high and tried not to look down as I strode across the stage toward the Principal and Vice Principal. Aware at that moment everyone was staring at me, including Achaiah, I felt a nervous laugh coming on. To hide this, I looked the Vice Principal in the eye and smiled a broad smile, as though it were genuine and not a mask. This reduced my giggle reflex and helped me focus. I repeated the proper steps and clasped my diploma.

When I turned to face the audience after receiving my diploma and moving my tassel, I looked out into the crowd for one face to connect with, his face. I saw my mom out of my periphery, beaming at me, but it was Achaiah’s face that held my attention. I felt heat rising in me and I knew I must have blushed. I was no longer afraid of falling. The look he gave me was one of pure joy. He barely knew me, yet here was this man coming to see me graduate and looking at me as if he had known me my whole life. For a moment, I felt like I knew him too, like he had always been there but I knew that was impossible. I glided off the stage and walked back to my seat. As I passed Beth’s aisle, I saw she was looking at me and smiling. I gave her two thumbs up and mouthed, “Nice speech.” She nodded in return.

I took my seat and suddenly relief covered me. All the anxiety that built up about falling on stage washed away. I felt stupid for ever being so nervous. I sat comfortably until the end when we all stood up and took our caps off to toss them blissfully toward the ceiling of the auditorium.

This was it. The totality of it hit me, as our caps flew in every direction above us. I was done. I had attended too many schools to count, but it was Cheshire High I would forever remember as my Alma Mater. My ten-year high school reunion would be with the people standing next to me, in front of me, and behind me. The other schools no longer mattered. The other schools would be nothing more than a memory, one that would fade easily into the background, while my life moved forward. Cheshire High would be my high school memory.

When the co-mingling of students and guests began, I  headed toward my mom. She was standing next to Mr. Barnum, who was hugging one of his students and offering congratulations. I saw my mom and smiled at her. She waved as I got closer.

“I’m so proud of you,” she said, as I put my arms around her. I was just happy it was over and with no accidents or casualties. Mr. Barnum turned to me.

“Congratulations,” he said and gave me a hug too. “You did great.”

“Thank you,” I said politely and looked down.

“Emily, it has been so nice talking with you today, but I’m afraid I must excuse myself. I have a prior engagement and I’m certain you and your daughter have plans for the day,” he said, now facing my mother, his hand gently touching her shoulder. “I’ll see you next week.” He turned and smiled at me before he walked away with a purpose.

“Next week?” I raised my eyebrows at my mom.

“He’s interested in talking to me about possibly purchasing a home. I gave him my card and told him we can meet up next week to talk,” she said with innocence. I could see the smallest glimmer of light in my mom’s eyes. I didn’t say anything about it, though.

I began looking around the auditorium now. I wanted to see Achaiah before he left and hoped I hadn’t missed him. It was presumptuous to think he only came to see me. After a few short seconds scanning the room of chattering students, I saw him. He and Ally were already walking toward me. I had that feeling of butterflies again.

“Congratulations,” they said in unison as they approached. His deep voice drowned out her higher pitched one.

“Thanks,” I answered both of them and introduced them to my mother. When I introduced Achaiah to my mom, she looked at me to read my face. After what I assumed she understood to be a look of interest in Achaiah, she flashed me her impressed face. I knew she’d want to talk about this later. I just didn’t know what I could say other than what my face had said.

My mom seemed to take to Ally. My mom’s keen interest started Ally happily chatting. She was always impressive when she spoke and this time was no exception. You just don’t expect someone to look like her and be so brilliant. I stopped paying much attention to them because my concentration was tuned to Achaiah, even though I was facing both Ally and my mother. As the two of them chatted away like they were old friends, I felt a tug at my arm. It was Achaiah pulling me away. He seemed to want to talk with me alone. I obliged happily.

“I’m sure you and your mom have plans, but I was wondering if maybe you and I could meet up later tonight.” His eyes glistened kindly and I felt the familiar blush of my face.

“I’d love to,” I answered quickly.

“Don’t waste any time thinking it over,” he said in happy sarcasm with a slight chuckle.

Achaiah

I was so proud of her. I had watched her go through so much in her life. The feeling I had watching her graduate was inexplicable. I knew it was different from the joy her mother had at watching her graduate but I still felt as though I had some part in her life. I know I did. Many times I steered her clear of trouble. I watched her grow and struggle and turn into the wonderful person she was today. Her life was not without pain, but I did all I could to stop her from further pain. I loved the person she turned into. There was something special about her I couldn’t ignore. I was drawn to her in ways that were not just about me being her angel. The closest feeling would be like being the guy next door watching her grow up and wanting to be part of her life. I knew her past and I wanted so much to be part of her future.

~~~

~~~

About the Author

Jacqueline Marinaro began her career as a therapist and college educator. Graduate school couldn’t stamp out her love of creative writing, however. Much to the chagrin of her husband, graduate school also only furthered her ability to constantly ask, “how does that make you feel?” Jacqueline lives in Florida with her wonderful husband and sweet little boy, where she enjoys the beach, reading, writing, and of course delving into the feelings of everyone she meets.

Contact Link

Instagram

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Purchase Links

Amazon

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Publisher

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~~~

#BookTour “Of Legends and Roses” by Ashley Slaughter

Tour Banner Welcome to the book tour for Of Legends and Roses by Ashley W. Slaughter. Read on for details and the chance to win a fabulous giveaway! Oh and stay tuned for the release of the second installment in the series Of Deceit and Snow which comes out this November!

Of Legends and Roses (The Crowned Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

A realm touched and forgotten by magic.
A young queen orphaned by disease.
A prince after her heart.

Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.

Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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Teaser

I heard Zeke’s voice again. Point your blade downward.

With every emotion swirling through my head, I almost laughed; even in his absence, Zeke was trying to tell me what to do.

But I listened to him as I pushed up from the cobblestoned street and let the tip of my sword hang downward toward the ground. Don’t relax. I tried to feign fatigue, which really wasn’t too much of a challenge, but I kept my arms taut. Ready.

A wicked smile spread across my opponent’s face, and he strode forward, his weapon glinting in the sun, ready to strike.

Then, just before I was within his sword’s reach, I shot the tip of my blade upward, and I thrust my sword forward with every fiber of strength contained within me.

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About the Author

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Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.

Ashley Slaughter

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | TikTok | Goodreads | BookBub

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#ReleaseBlitz “Insidious Scars” by Natalie J. Reddy

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Happy publication day to author Natalie J. Reddy! Just look at this beauty! Read on for more info about Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotten #5)!

Psst! There’s also a giveaway!

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Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotten Series Book 5)

Publication Date: May 17th, 2022 🎉

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance

This is what she’s been training for…

Jyoti has felt like an outcast all her life. Living among Psi with extraordinary power can be isolating and dangerous when you have no power of your own. But in weakness there is strength, a strength Jyoti’s mother has been training her to use to her advantage. When rumors of war begin circulating, Jyoti is offered an opportunity to help protect her people. However, it would mean giving up what she loves most. But when she finds out about a weapon that could cause the destruction of all mankind, she begins to question everything, even her own heart.

What do you do when protecting the greater good means you’ll lose everything you love?

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About the Author

Author

Natalie J. Reddy is a Canadian Author who spends her days trying to escape reality by making up stories about the characters in her head.

Natalie realized at an early age that she had a passion for storytelling and that passion followed her into adulthood. There is nothing she loves more than to be pulled into a fictional world whether it’s in her own writing or the writing of others. Natalie is the author of the Scar of Days Forgotten series, a New Adult Urban Fantasy series with characters who have supernatural abilities and dark and sometimes unknown pasts to overcome.

When she’s not writing, Natalie can be found having all sorts of real-life adventures with her husband and daughter or curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.

To keep up to date on upcoming books, subscribe to Natalie’s newsletter at nataliejreddy.com

Natalie J. Reddy | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

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Giveaway will be open from today until midnight EST on May 21st!

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#BookBlitz “Your Maternity Leave: The Ultimate Practical Guide” by Nathalie Koren

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The Ultimate Practical Guide (1st UK Edition)

Self Help, Parenting, Motivational, Career

Date Published: November 19, 2021

Publisher: Breakthrough Publishing

 

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Maternity leave can be a challenging time for any woman, but with good preparation, a clear understanding of your rights, and a positive attitude, managing this crucial phase of your life has never been easier!

Packed with checklists and handy tips, this book covers a full range of relevant practical situations to guide you through the various stages of your maternity. It will provide you with the information, advice and reassurance you need to successfully transition out—and also back into—the workplace.

Presented in a simple, easy to follow format, this book is the perfect companion to inspire and empower all working women about to embark on this life-changing journey.

Each chapter is broken down into clear sections and the comprehensive research continues throughout the book. Contents include:

    * Understanding the law in the UK including your rights, but also your responsibilities towards your workplace

    * A detailed view of the Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance, and how to understand and claim the benefits you are entitled to

    * Practical tips on how to effectively manage your maternity risk assessment

    * Useful tools to better manage your unique financial situation, including the cost of a baby and how to manage your finances during your leave

    * The preparation for delivery and childcare including your birth plan, your hospital checklists and your essential preparation, ahead of the birth of your baby.

    * How to effectively manage your personal maternity leave objectives, as a leader of today and tomorrow, with suggestions for your personal development

    * How to manage and prioritize your health, post-birth, and by delivery method

    * What you can do to improve your life during this maternity leave

    * How to easily manage and maintain relationships with your colleagues and your workplace

    * How to take control of your time, raising a child while not forgetting how you are feeling

    * How to effectively manage your personal relationships

    * The transition to your new normal and how to re-enter the workforce peacefully

    * Etc.

~~~

 From the publisher:

It is the guide we all have been missing out on!

A brilliant book for expecting mothers about to embark on their maternity leave and the only one in the market, giving UK women of all backgrounds and professional levels the information they need, to not only understand and fight for their rights, but also manage their maternity leave without forgetting who they are.

~~~

~~~

About the Author

Nathalie Koren’s ‘Your Maternity Leave: The Ultimate Practical Guide, UK edition’, was first published in 2021.

In her first book, Nathalie wanted to provide the information she never received and had to research herself (having written this book during her own maternity leave), saving a lot of time and effort for other women in the UK.

Whether you have just found out you are pregnant or have already started your maternity leave, this book will help you trust your instincts, energise and also inspire you. It will help you to be confident and informed.

In her work as a Head of execution and delivery, Nathalie is renowned for bringing complex issues to life, with practical tips and checklists. Her down-to-earth approach and advice help many women in many industry sectors manage their maternity leave effectively, by knowing their rights—and responsibilities—towards their employer, their baby, their relationships but also to themselves, in what is a crucial time in their lives.

Nathalie wanted to inspire other women to use this magical time to pursue their dreams, and to become a higher version of themselves.

Following her initial success, Nathalie continues to adapt her Ultimate Maternity Leave Guide, looking at other countries, always using their most up-to-date regulations.

Nathalie is married and the mother of one boy, and this is her first non-fiction book series. Nathalie lives in London and studied in Oxford.

Contact Link

Facebook

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Purchase Links

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#TeaserTuesday “Thirst” by J. Hali Steele

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Erotica, Dark Fantasy, Vampires

Date Published: May 20, 2022

Publisher: Changeling Press

 

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Feeling thirsty?

Thirsty: Monique has finally found a place where she can live out her fantasies. Little does she know the den of iniquity she’s walked into is more than just a theme club. Omen’s is the playground for every type of monster in the world.

A Thirst to Die For: When Nolan gives life to Amanda’s carnal fantasies, his own life changes. Hell is coming to pay him a visit, and he’s about to lose control.

Bane of Existence: One night spent in a human woman’s arms brought Bane, a son of Satan, as close to heaven as he’ll ever get. Now the only way he can have Iris is to convince her she wants him as much as he needs her.

A Vampire’s Thirst: Once Nolan gave all souls moderation in everything. He was good at his job, and he called heaven home — until he fucked the wrong seraphim! Now he’s a vampire slayer serving the devil, keeping an eye on Omen’s, and babysitting Lucifer’s son. Not a job he expected to hold for damn near eight hundred years…

 

Publisher’s Note:  Thirst (Razor’s Edge Box Set) contains the
previously published novellas Thirsty, A Thirst to Die For, Bane of
Existence, and A Vampire’s Thirst.

~~~

Excerpt from Thirsty

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2022 J. Hali Steele

 “Must be a cold day in hell. You haven’t come here alone in ages.
Losing your touch or what?”

Since Nolan had been asked to keep an eye on the club, and on the
devilishly handsome man behind the bar, he almost never visited without
someone to make his evening more exciting. Giving Omen’s owner, Peris, a
long, appraising look, Nolan’s cock twitched in regret. He’d been too busy
lately.

“You asking to be touched? ‘Cause I can do that, and make you like
it.” Nolan sat on his normal stool at the end of the long, shiny wooden
bar, and eyed too many empty tables. “Where is everyone?”

“Resting up from their wicked weekend. And you wouldn’t know what to
do with that cold dick up this hot ass.”

The sound of the swinging door distracted them both.

God damn, the woman was striking. Tall, curvaceous, with dark brown hair to
her ass. An ass that cried out to be fucked. Christ. Nolan’s cock came
alive. So did every other part of his body, which took a lot of doing,
considering he’d been dead too many years to count.

Peris chuckled from the other side of the counter, giving his balls a
noticeable squeeze. “Looks like a live one to me. I might make a play
for her myself.”

“Not unless you’re looking forward to visiting relatives.” Peris
had connections to the hierarchy below, but with the dark one’s permission,
Nolan would send the young man to Hell in a heartbeat.

Nolan had been called lots of things — dead, undead, bloodsucker,
motherfucker — and he lived up to every one of them. He was a Slayer, and
he was the best. “Get the lady a beer. Let’s see what she does with
it.”

Watching the woman make her way to the bar, he took a deep breath. Human.
Omen’s wasn’t a place humans popped into often, and for good reason. The
cloying feeling of imminent danger was prevalent, a vibe even the shallowest
human sensed the minute they entered the establishment.

This one ignored it, so she must be looking for something. Or someone. The
blood pulsing through her gorgeous body would soon be running through his
veins. Wouldn’t kill her. Vamps didn’t do that anymore. Okay, some did, but
they were the ones he took out of play, and he enjoyed every minute of
it.

She slid onto a stool at the opposite end of the bar, and it felt like
she’d plopped into his lap. Cum slipped from the slit on his dick, which
jerked violently inside his designer slacks. He reached up to loosen a
button or two at the collar of the stark white silk shirt he wore. Getting
into her panties, if she wore any, was going to be pure joy. After fucking
her senseless, he’d taste her — just a little bit if she was worth another
ride. If not, he’d have a full meal before sending her home.

Peris delivered a cold brew and a glass and turned away, pretending to
straighten the bottles of liquor on display. Nolan, adjusting his heightened
vision, gazed right into her eyes when she looked his way. One hazel, one
brown — not something he saw often. Tipping the bottle toward him, she
smiled and nodded before putting it to her lips. No glass! Excellent. A cock
sucker, and he’d bet every year he had lived she was a good one. When her
pink tongue darted through painted red lips, wrapped around the top of the
bottle and licked it clean, he made his move.

Easing into her mind, he sifted through all the day’s clutter. Such tiny
panties. With a groan that lodged in his throat, he backed out, sniffing at
the air. Sweet. What he’d unearthed in her mind made his dead heart beat
like a drum. Fantasies should be played out, and he intended to help with
hers.

~~~

About the Author

J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of… Well, she can’t do those things but she wishes she could!

Multi-published and Amazon bestselling author of Romance in Paranormal, Fantasy, and Contemporary worlds which include ReligErotica and LGBTQ stories where humans, vampyres, shapeshifters and angels collide-they collide a lot! When J. Hali’s not writing or reading, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a cat in her lap, and a cup of
coffee.

Growl and roar — it’s okay to let the beast out. — J. Hali Steele

 

Facebook: @jhalisteele

Follow the Publisher on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @changelingpress

 

Pre-Order Now

 

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#BookBlitz “The Crucible Kingdom” by Blair Bancroft

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SciFi Fantasy, SciFi Paranormal, SciFi Adventure/Romance

Published: April 14, 2022

Publisher: Kone Enterprises

 

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In this spin-off of the Blue Moon Rising series, the Crucible Kingdom, an obscure planet far, far away, is suffering from an ancient
curse—periodic bouts of violent storms, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and wildfire. To break the curse, a widowed duchess and a starship captain from the disintegrating Regulon Empire (which her ancestors fled centuries earlier) are forced to work together. Although the duchess grudgingly concedes that the captain is highly capable in emergencies, she scorns the idea that a hard-headed Reg who does not believe in the power of sorcery can
be helpful in ending the curse. And then the captain comes up with an idea no one thought of, setting off a quest that turns out to be as dangerous as the curse itself.

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THE CRUCIBLE KINGDOM – EXCERPT

“Command, Command,” Ryn called, “Yindan exploding. Repeat, Yindan exploding.” He paused, craning his neck to look toward their rear. “The whole fydding side of the mountain is collapsing, cloud rising. Black, roiling . . . Dimmit, that was lightning!” Ryn
steadied his voice to captain mode, continued his narration.
“We’re red-lining it out of here, but it’s right on our tail— Omni!” he breathed. “It’s leveling trees like toothpicks.” For Alora’s ears alone, he added, “Max it, Duchess! Show me this toy can out-run what’s chasing us.”

It was as if they were flying in a vacuum—no sound from explosion or thunder, but the sky darkened around them, leaving only a small blue patch in front. Alora, fingers white-knuckled on the steering stick, attempted to blot out all thought of the monster looming on their tail, but mind over matter refused to work. She could feel the target on her back, the force of the blast aimed straight at them.

Ryn was alternating his communication with Command with private words of
encouragement that somehow rang false. Even though they’d kept a respectful distance from the volcano, their head-start was slim. But every kilometer they traveled toward home would lessen the force of the blast. So, keeping a wary eye on the instrument panel—how long could her precious baby keep up this pace?—Alora pushed their speed to faster than a PCC was ever designed to travel.

“Fyddit,” Ryn muttered as more flashes lit the gloom.
“The lightning’s gone weird. Pink and purple.” A short pause, and he added, “A story to tell our grandchildren, right?”

The PCC wobbled as air whooshed out of Alora’s lungs. He could make jokes at a time like this! Or maybe it wasn’t a joke, just an attempt to reassure her they would survive this. Have a real marriage. Strange as it was, it helped.

“Good,” Ryn muttered a few minutes later. “Passed the half-way mark. Blast shouldn’t be too bad at forty kliks.” But after another look over his shoulder, he did a swift recce of the forest below. Shouting over the now audible roar that was about to engulf them, he
pointed toward the right. “There! That break in the trees . .
.”

Alora followed his direction, even as his tone sent a warning shiver up her spine. They weren’t going to make it. Ryn was looking for a clearing .
. .

“Give me the stick!”

No question which one of them was stronger. Alora gladly gave up control. A rushing stream with a slight clearing on either side, came into sight just as, thirty kliks from home, they lost the race. The forefront of the explosion, armed with ash, pumice, blocks of lava, snow, ice, and chunks of rock, sent the PCC into a spin. As hard as Ryn fought the onslaught, it was like an ant fighting a giant. Their world no longer silent, the PCC went
down in a barrage of sound, from the bangs and thuds of the lethal contents of the black cloud to the ugly crack of a wing sheared off by a tree, the whomp of the undercarriage hitting the ground, skidding, bouncing, grinding to a stop. The noise finally settled to near silence, leaving only the soft hiss of falling ash that was already beginning to envelop the plane. And the unconscious occupants inside.

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About the Author

Blair Bancroft is the award-winning author of fifty novels. Although best known for books set in the Regency period (Gothic, Historical & Traditional), she also writes Contemporary Mystery and Suspense, with a Medieval Young Adult and a Steampunk thrown in for good measure. Her awards include a RITA nomination and winning the Golden Heart (Romance Writers of America). “Best Regency” from Romantic Times magazine. “Best Romance” and “Best Young Adult” from the Florida Writers Association. She is also the author of Making Magic With Words, a 200,000-word book of advice on Writing and Editing.

Blair considers being able to create people, even whole worlds, from the imagination a never-ending joy. She is an “out of the mist” author. One of her favorite sayings: “I can hardly wait to sit down to my computer each morning and find out what my characters are going to do next.”

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