#BookBlitz “The Marshal’s Lady (Liberty Valley Love, Book 3” by Josie Malone

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Liberty Valley Love, Book 3

 

Time Travel, Western Romance

 

Published: August 2021

Publisher: Satin Romance

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Liberty Valley Love, Yesterday and Today ~ where no matter what, soulmates find each other

While trailing a serial killer on horseback, homicide detective Beth Chambers finds she has somehow ridden back in time—to 1888! When she comes across injured Marshal Rad Morgan, she has no choice but to try to save his life. Though the handsome marshal believes a lady should stand behind her man, Beth is determined to catch the killer she’s chased through time, and prove she’s a capable law enforcement officer in any century.

A former Union soldier, Rad has survived the Confederate hellhole of Andersonville Prison—but his toughest challenge is beautiful Beth Chambers. As the headstrong female detective from the future lets him in on why she’s there, Rad becomes convinced that her stubbornness may get her killed. But when he is shot and left for dead, the marshal has no other choice but to put himself in Beth’s hands—and hope they can both survive!

Two officers of the law from different centuries chasing the same killer could be a recipe for disaster—especially with the distraction of love!

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All the Books in the Liberty Valley Love Series:


Liberty Valley Love, Yesterday and Today ~ where no matter what, soulmates find each other.”

A Man’s World

Liberty Valley Love, Book 1

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Cowboy Spell

Liberty Valley Love, Book 2

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The Marshal’s Lady

Liberty Valley Love, Book 3

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Hero Spell

Liberty Valley Love, Book 4

Coming Soon

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EXCERPT

THE MARSHAL’S LADY by Josie Malone

PART ONE

Action is the antidote to despair.”

– Joan Baez

CHAPTER ONE

To do HER Sacred Work, SHE chooses a Guardian,

then creates a hallowed place, despite Time and Space….”

Rules of Chronos

 

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Ambushed by the suspected serial killer she pursues through Mount Baker National Forest, Homicide Detective Beth Chambers prays for a second chance to stop him.

* * * *

The sloppy wetness of Luke’s tongue as he licked her face roused Beth. Her head spun. She struggled to lift one hand. She forced open her eyes and gently pushed the dog away. He whined and sat down beside her. She reached up, felt the bump on the back of her head where it’d hit a rock.

Remembering the sight of Luke’s broken body beside the trail, she touched the dog, stroked his brown fur. He pressed closer, and she rubbed his shoulder. He’d been stunned, not killed. “Guess we both messed up, buddy. We’ve gotta be a lot more careful from here on out.”

Luke growled and licked her hand. She risked trying to sit up. Her mind fogged and she almost slipped into welcome darkness. No time for rest. The accident had obviously been Tigger’s fault. It wasn’t the first time the stallion had thrown her. However, it was the first time he’d reared and gone over backward on top of her.

Damned, stupid idiot. I ought to have bought a Quarter-horse instead of falling in love with a beauty like you when Nina took me to Xanadu Arabians. I shouldn’t have listened when Audra bragged about how brilliant you are and your terrific pedigree.”

From where he pulled at a few tufts of grass near a granite boulder, Tigger nickered in answer. Beth glared at the horse. A faint wisp of memory filtered into her mind, and she tried to follow it. She had fallen off him, hadn’t she? Wasn’t she pinned by the stallion for at least a moment or two? She must have passed out prior to Tigger standing up. No wonder she thought she was dead meat. For a moment, she recalled a sense of pervading peace, love, admiration, and acceptance. There had been all of that and yet something more.

The harder she tried to remember, the more the feeling slipped away. Reluctantly, she gave up the battle. She’d think about the accident later, after her head quit hurting. She hugged Luke tightly for a moment, then rested one hand on the German Shepherd’s solid, eighty-pound body and struggled to her feet. Her ribs throbbed in protest. She must have cracked one, if not broken it.

Her head swam. She took a step. Her stomach rebelled and she barely made it to the side of the trail before she hurled, grateful lunch had only been beef jerky and water eaten in the saddle hours ago. Should she head home? Nobody would blame her if she stopped searching for Gary Smith, nobody but herself. She raised a hand to her forehead and felt for the cut she remembered. The blood had frightened her. She’d been so sure she was dying.

There was no blood on her face now and no sign of the injury either. She tried a cautious step. Her legs were fine. She could walk. Her hysterical fear during the accident prompted the notion it was the end of the world and her life. Nina often said, “A good fall is one the rider walks away from.”

Recalling her friend restored Beth’s courage. She took a deep breath. Her body might feel a little sore, but she wasn’t finished yet. Smith deserved to spend the rest of his life behind bars and justice must be served. She wouldn’t wimp out now, not when she was so close to him.

No.” She petted Luke. “We’re not going back yet. We’re getting that scumbag off the streets and behind bars.”

The dog pressed against her. She stroked his bristly short hair. “Come on, partner. Let’s go look around.”

Crossing to the Arabian, she took the rifle from its scabbard. She checked the load and started up the path. The stud whickered and then trotted after her.

Now’s a fine time to tell me how much you love me.” She swung around to catch the reins and tie up her horse. The sight of a bloody crease in the center of his forehead stopped her. A bullet wound. She was closer to Smith than she’d imagined. Tigger’s spooking saved her life. She rested her hand on his gray neck. “I’ll be more careful. I don’t want you hurt.”

The stallion nuzzled her arm and Beth changed her mind. She couldn’t leave the horse tethered. If he were loose, he could run away from Smith, and since the Arabian was used to getting treats from her, he’d come when he saw her. She glanced at the trail, a thin scattering of dirt over granite.

She went to Tigger’s right side. She opened the saddlebags and removed evidence bags and plastic gloves. Now, if she found anything, she would be able to use it against Smith. She worked her way through the overgrown salmonberry bushes and alder saplings, glad when she found her way back among the evergreens. Less than a hundred feet up the trail, she discovered the place where Smith had launched his attack. A few cigarette butts littered the muddy ground, and she recognized his footprints.

Removing her digital camera from a jacket pocket, she took pictures of the area then collected the evidence. No way she’d use her phone to take a video and risk losing it to the inept prosecutor. John Watkins, the lead homicide detective still complained about having to replace his smartphone when it was seized for evidence. She’d turn the cigarette butts into the lab when she got back to town. Tests would prove Gary Smith indeed attacked her, leaving her for dead.

The man was long gone. Did he think she was finished? Why hadn’t he made sure? He generally beat his victims almost to death, then slit their throats to be certain they couldn’t testify against him. Shooting her wasn’t his usual M.O. Why had he changed? She shrugged. Everyone made mistakes. Smith was a human being, not only the monster she personally thought of him.

Slowly, she returned to Tigger, collecting her hat on the way. She replaced the rifle in the scabbard, checked the tack, and then swung into the saddle. For the next hour, she rode cautiously. She kept a wary gaze on the trail and often rested a hand on the butt of the rifle. Luke remained closer this time, a few feet from the Arabian.

Suddenly, the path opened into a small clearing. A hill rose before her, clawing into the sky. Even misty fog and slanting rain couldn’t disguise the hazardous trail up the steep incline. She saw paw prints in the mud and knew Luke had already started the climb. She petted Tigger’s neck, lingering to watch the moon rise above the giant cedars and hemlocks. Something in the atmosphere caused the bright globe to appear red tonight. It provided plenty of light to see the trail and that was all she cared about.

Tigger tossed his head and snorted, the loudness shocking her. She returned her attention to the mammoth slope in front of her. Huge granite boulders lined the path while smaller fragments awaited an unwary hoof. A light sprinkling of dirt covered the slick gray stone and a tiny evergreen clung precariously to the side of the hill. Fog shrouded the top of the ridge, hiding the steepest part of the ascent.

She took a deep breath and measured the climb again. Then, she urged Tigger forward. The gray stallion leaped up the rocky incline, scrambling for footing. Granite pieces fell behind them and she glimpsed another horse’s hoofprint and a scrape on gray stone. So, Smith still had Wonder, an abused Appaloosa stallion he’d stolen from Nina Armstrong’s horse rescue facility.

Nobody knew where the starved wreck of an equine came from almost two years ago, but Nina, a famous Washington State horsy do-gooder nursed him back to health. The woman had interrupted Smith when he’d absconded with the horse three days ago and she’d paid the price. Beth found Nina before she died. She identified Smith and asked Beth to return the stallion to her barn.

The drizzle grew heavier, silvery rain slashing down in a curtain of thread-like drops, streaming downward. Waves of water rolled, small drops followed by larger ones creating a hazy view, a thin fog-shrouded screen blocking most of the path behind them. Tigger collected himself for another series of leaps. When they gained the first plateau, she reined him to a halt.

Oddly enough she could breathe better up here, better than she had when she first mounted after the accident. Her ribs had stopped hurting. Her head no longer pounded like someone beat a jack-hammer against her skull and her stomach wasn’t roiling. She truly had walked away unscathed. She’d have to tell Nina when they returned that her advice was correct as always. Of course, the younger woman would pitch a fit when she heard about the fall and lecture Beth for the hundredth time about keeping her heels down and staying balanced in the saddle.

She waited for Tigger to regain his breath. With a squeeze of her legs, she sent the horse forward again, grateful for the bright red moon lighting their way. More than once she heard his hooves strike small rocks. He jumped another log and came to a halt on the summit. She petted his steaming neck, scanning the top of the ridge. The evergreens which were so huge at the bottom of the hill had become tiny tips, like baby Christmas trees, insubstantial from this height.

Grateful the rain had stopped, she eyed the descent, stretching before her, down a winding trail. The path seemed clearer in the evening moonlight with none of the hazards they’d overcome on the ascent. She touched Tigger’s sides with her legs and the Arabian headed downhill at a faster pace. When they reached level ground, the small stallion picked up a jog.

Suddenly, she heard a short yip. Luke had found something of interest. A low, menacing growl came next. It meant the discovery was male, a human male which the large German Shepherd considered fair game. His refusal to work with men had almost ended the canine’s career with the department before it started.

Luke, hold.” Had she found Smith already? Why wasn’t he shooting at Luke or her? She pulled her carbine from the scabbard.

Tigger snorted as they came around a bend. He leaped sideways as he caught a glimpse of the shadowy figure huddled near a boulder. Luke stood in front of the man, continuing to growl, hackles raised.

She cursed the dusk. The red moonlight didn’t help her see much. She couldn’t get a clear view of the man, but he appeared bigger than her suspect. “Smith?”

No.” The stranger groaned. “I’m hurt. Bad.”

She shoved her rifle back into its holder. Her voice deepened with frustration and impatience. “What the hell are you doing here then?”

Bleeding.” Faint amusement filled his bass rumble.

~~~

About the Author

I live at Horse Country Farm, a family-owned riding stable in the Cascade foothills. I organize most of the riding programs and teach horsemanship, nurse sick horses, hold for the shoer, train whoever needs it – four-legged and two-legged. And write books in my spare time, usually from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week after a long day on the ranch.

When I can’t write, due to the overwhelming needs and pressures of the “real” world, words and stories fill my mind. Even when I muck the barn, I think about books in progress and map out the writing in my mind.

There are 26 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals. As for kids, I give back the ones who come to learn how to ride at the end of each day. Now, I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years and I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

I’m a member of Evergreen Romance Writers of America, the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America Chapter, the Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest and Pacific NW Writers. I have B.A. degrees in English and History, and my Master’s-In-Teaching degree.

Contact Links

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#ReleaseTour “The Last Danann (Titanian Chronicles, Book 3)” by Victoria Saccenti

The Last Danann by Victoria Saccenti

(Book #3 in the Titanian Chronicles Series)

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

AVAILABLE NOW!
Books2Read universal link. https://books2read.com/u/3yaLDV
#TheLastDanann #fantasy #paranormalromance #Fae #supernatural #Alpha #PNR #TitaniansChronicles #urbanfantasy #phoenix

#VictoriaSaccenti #BareNakedWords

Blurb

He struck a devil’s bargain to save his people. Now he must risk more to save his love.

In exchange for his people’s safe passage into Tir na nÓg, Kailen pledged his sword to the Titanians to defeat the daemon horde. A thousand years later, the grief of his losses heavy, Kailen has sworn that while his body is open to carnal pleasures, his heart is closed to love.

Even when it comes to a Druid-trained healer of mysterious origins who serves in the house of Soren, the greatest Titanian warrior. Talaith. This lavender-eyed beauty is his one gentle memory out of centuries drenched in blood.

Not long ago, Talaith willingly lent her powers—such as they are—as Kailen raced to save Soren’s life. Otherwise, she fiercely hides the heart she lost long ago to the lonely, taciturn Tuatha Dé Danann warrior.

When Kailen and Talaith join forces to aid the Titanians against a renewed daemon attack, the walls between them crumble in fierce, emotional passion. But when death magic strikes, the price Kailen willingly pays to keep Talaith safe could tear them apart forever.

 

 

Books in the series:

https://www.victoriasaccentiwrites.com/genre/paranormal/

Author Bio:

Award-winning, multi-genre author Victoria Saccenti picked up pencil and paper the moment her childhood book heroes started conversing with her. Sounds a little crazy, but there’s no rhyme or reason for inspiration. Back then, she wrote one-act plays and short fairy tales for simple amusement. Today—many…many moons later—her playful stories have grown into romantic women’s fiction, paranormal, retro and contemporary romances with an edge. An avid people watcher, she explores in her novels the twists and turns of human interaction, the many facets of love, and all possible happy endings.

After thirty years of traveling she’s settled in Central Florida. She splits her busy schedule between family and her active muse at Essence Publishing. But if she could convince her husband to sell their home, she would pack up her computer and move to Scotland, a land she adores.

Website: www.victoriasaccentiwrites.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Saccenti/e/B013H2XYPK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaSaccentiAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoria.saccenti.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VictoriaSAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14126330.Victoria_Saccenti

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dwnlqb

 

 

 

#ReleaseBlitz “Silver Lining” by Viola Tempest

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Happy publication day to author Viola Tempest! Check out her new novel Silver Lining, and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of this genre-blurring book!

Silver Lining

Silver Lining

Publication Date: September 26th (Today🎉)

Genre: Dystopian/ Dark Romance

Tired of one-night stands and failed relationships, Marissa Sinclair sets out to change her luck by creating Silver Lining, a revolutionary contact lens that matches people with their one true love.

Like Marissa, Bethany Rose, among others, is hopeful the lens will help her find the love of her life. But soon, the perfect solution becomes her worst nightmare…

A major malfunction blurs the line between reality and disaster. Bethany, a once bright, beautiful young woman, loses touch with reality. Her life spirals out of control and leads her down a dark tunnel between madness and the consequences of gambling with her love life.

Witnessing the disturbing transformation, Thea is convinced the technology is to blame. The only problem is, no one believes her. With her desperation growing stronger and her desire to pull her friend out of the abyss, she risks everything to let the world know the truth. But will she succeed in her mission, or will the desperate all fall victim to the Zetas?

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Excerpt

Bethany wasn’t safe though. She thought it would be easy to just forget, to just immerse herself in the fantasy world and ignore the real world, because it’s not like she was happy in it anyway. But the façade kept falling apart.

Haven didn’t have a job, so he was around her all the time. She needed space, needed to breathe, needed somebody she didn’t have to babysit or take care of.

And then when he did get a job, she wanted him back in the apartment, back in her life all the time, because they no longer spent any time together. So, he got a part-time job as a waiter, but part of her knew that wasn’t real. She didn’t know what she wanted anymore.

And then when he was at home all the time again, the cycle started all over. And he never called her out on it, just bent to her will. And the more he did, the more the logical part of her brain piped up, saying that this couldn’t be real. She was living in some sort of love-sick nightmare.

“Honey, please stop pushing me away.” Haven looked up at her from the couch. “Let me say this, no matter how much you try and push me away, I will never leave. You can’t argue your way out of this relationship by nitpicking at me. I love you too much for that.”

“But that isn’t healthy! You need to be your own person, not let me walk all over you!” Bethany finally screamed.

She heard a thump somewhere in the background, but when she tried to focus on it, she couldn’t register where it had come from. Bethany looked around herself, and her eyes fell on the remote. She walked over.

“Please, don’t hurt yourself with that anymore. You know how you feel when you turn it off,” Haven said.

She glared at him and clicked the button. The smell hit her nostrils, and Bethany screamed, trying to get the crawling bugs off her skin. She needed to turn on the lens again; she couldn’t live like this.

“Miss, open the door,” someone banged on the entrance to her apartment.

“Shit.”

A heavy thump sounded, and a man shoulder-pounded against the door so hard that the lock broke. Bethany clicked the remote on instinct.

She managed to register the police uniform right before her world shifted, and Haven returned. Then, she saw nothing but him, sitting in the middle of the couch, smiling as the sunlight streamed through the open windows.

“What’s wrong with me?” Bethany asked.

She could feel a pressure on her arms, but she had no idea why.

“Relax, honey, you’re okay.” Haven got up and hugged her. His fingers carded through her hair.

“I’m still mad at you.”

“I know, but everything will be fine. You’ll see.”

“Miss, miss, can you hear me?”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Rising author, Viola Tempest, yearns to find truth in the modern world. She loves to write dystopian fantasy and dark romance novels depicting human reality.

Viola Tempest

Giveaway: Paperback Edition of Silver Lining (Giveaway ends on September 29th)

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#NewRelease “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance” by Elizabeth Gauffreau

Grief Songs cover

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“Poetry readers willing to walk the road of grief and family connections will find Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance a psychological treasure trove. It’s a very accessible poetic tribute that brings with it something to hold onto–the memories and foundations of past family joys, large and small.”
~Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance is a passionate ode to loved ones lost and an intimate portrayal of one family’s shared grief. It holds the key to solace in home photographs and illustrates just how special our singular moments can be. ~Toni Woodruff, Independent Book Review

“A beautiful, personal collection of family photos and poems that express the author’s most inner feelings. Nostalgic and heartfelt, Gauffreau’s poems are written in the Japanese style of tanka, simple, thoughtful, and full of love. Filled with wonderful memories of the past.” ~Kristi Elizabeth, Manhattan Book Review

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#Excerpt “A Cat for Troy (Wishes & Dreams Series)” by Allie McCormack

Cat book tour

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 Wishes & Dreams Series

 

Paranormal Romance

 

Date Published: 03-04-2021

Veterinarian Troy Shelton has no idea what he’s letting himself in for when he rescues a friend’s cat from the shelter after a dog attack. The friendly but demanding calico soon has Troy and his pregnant collie wrapped around her furry paw. But strange things begin happening in Troy’s home when he’s away, and he could almost think someone else was living there besides him.

Torn and hurting, Katerina appreciates Troy’s gentle care. She also appreciates his strong form and handsome face as much as the way he cuddles her. She’s trapped in her cat form until her wounds heal, but once she’s well again she finds herself oddly reluctant to resume her human form and life away from Troy. But someone else is interested in Troy, and that someone else has already tried to kill Cat once.

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Excerpt – Chapter 2

She caught his scent first, all woodsy and maple and oak, with smoky undertones like a good fire in winter. The warmth of his scent went personality deep. She touched his mind as he came into the room. Although telepathic, she couldn’t read minds per se, but cats were good at impressions. He felt to her like a kind man, generous and compassionate, the kind of man who drew people to him through no conscious doing of his own, but his open nature drawing people to him like a magnet.

Cat sat up, not without some difficulty given her injuries and the bandages, pressing her face to the bars of the cage to be able to see him. He’d paused just inside the room behind a young woman who worked at the shelter, and was looking about. He was a big man, tall and tan, with broad shoulders and a long stride; an outdoorsman type, she thought, who spent his time doing things outside, in the woods and fields. That appealed to her, far more than the slick, manicured types she had to deal with in her line of work.

Wanting his attention, she yowled. She liked him. She wanted him to rescue her from this place.

“Marrrwww!” she cried plaintively, demanding his attention. She wanted him to see her, to notice her. To take her away from here. She butted her head against the cage, curling her good paw around the bars and rattling them so the metal clanged. Here! Here!

The shelter employee laughed. “She sure seems to know you. This must be the cat you’ve come for.”

“That’s her.” His amused voice was deep and slightly burry, a rumble of dark velvet.

Cat pawed at the cage door impatiently, wanting to be out.

“All right, all right,” the woman said, undoing the cage door latch. The moment the door swung open, Cat launched herself straight into the man’s arms.

“Whoa!” he said, laughing, catching her easily. “Take it easy, little one.”

His arms were strong and muscular as he held her. His fingers gently explored her slender body, moving knowledgeably over aching bones, torn flesh and bruised skin, as had the vet the night before, but without the clinical detachment of the shelter vet. As if he knew her, and cared.

The leap had jarred her scarcely healed wounds, and she was sure a couple of them had broken open again, but it was worth it to lie in his arms, cradled carefully against his broad chest, basking in his scent, the warm aura of comfort surrounding him. She purred deeply, feeling comforted and soothed.

“We’ll be off, then,” he told the young woman. “I’ll be in for clinic on

Tuesday evening, as usual.”

“Okay. I’m glad you found your friend’s cat, Dr. Shelton,” she responded.

Doctor? Oh yes, Douglas had several partners at his veterinary clinic, perhaps this man was one of them. Cat didn’t care who he was. He had come for her, and rescued her from this awful place. And he smelled nice.

She liked that he didn’t try to detach her from his shirt, which she kept snagged firmly in her claws, to put her into the cat carrier that he’d come prepared with. Instead he held her close as he bent to pick up the carrier, which he’d dropped to catch her. She clung to his flannel shirt, butting her head against the underside of his chin. She liked his aftershave. It was a subtle blend of scents, masculine and outdoorsy, suiting him perfectly. She purred deep in her chest as he carried her through the building and out the door.

He owned a big black truck, and Cat decided it also suited him. It was high off the ground, and wisps of hay and straw were scattered in the bed, the scent pleasing to her. This man had horses. She wrinkled her nose at the other odor, unmistakable, of dog. Well, she could live with a dog, once it understood its place. It would just have to learn that she was the boss. Her nose told her the animal was female, which would make it easier. Male dogs got all alpha and were always wanting to challenge her authority.

Once inside the truck, she retracted her claws from the man’s shirt, allowing him to settle her carefully on the passenger seat. His hands were big and gentle, and he stroked her fur gently, smoothing her thick coat. She rubbed her head against his arm.

“You’re a friendly one, aren’t you?” he said. His look was assessing. “A Maine Coon, too, or I miss my bet. Jacinth told me you’re a stray, but I’m guessing somebody will be looking for you, pretty girl.”

She liked that he thought she was pretty, and she blinked at him, settling herself as comfortably as she could on the seat. Her ribs and shoulder where the dog’s teeth had dug into her hurt terribly, and she ached all over, but at least she was out of that place, and the upholstered seats were more comfortable than the cold steel of the cage she’d spent the night in.

Beside her, the man pulled out his cell phone and pressed a couple of buttons. “Hey, it’s Troy.”

She swiveled both ears forward to listen, eyes half closed, a deep purr rumbling in her chest at the soothing cadence of his deep voice.

“Yeah. I’ve got the cat here just fine. She saw me as soon as I walked into the room and set up a howl, just like she knew who I was. She came out of that cage and clung to me like she’d known me all her life. She’s a sweet little thing. She’s cuddled up to me now here in the truck, purring like mad.”

Ah, he was talking to Jacinth. There was a pause.

“She’ll be okay,” he reassured Jacinth in his deep voice. “Her shoulder and front leg are a little chewed up, and maybe a broken rib or two, so I’m going to take her home with me. I got hold of Douglas before I left the clinic, and he said to tell you he had to be late or he’d bring her home himself. As banged up as she is, it might be best if she stays at my place for a few days anyway, where I can keep an eye on how she’s doing.

What’s her name?”

Cat slit her eyes open to see Troy shaking his head as if in dismay. “Cat it is. Well, I’m headed for home with her now. I’ll keep in touch and let you know how she is.”

She looked about the inside of the truck. A satchel was on the floor, and some loose mail on the seat where she lay. While Troy started the truck and backed out of the parking space, she stole a surreptitious look at an envelope laying on the seat by her paw. It was addressed to a Troy Shelton, DVM.

Troy. Troy Shelton. She turned the name over in her head, and approved. Like everything else, his name suited him. She sighed, pain and exhaustion overwhelming her now that she had effected her escape from that place, and she crawled across the seat to curl closely against Troy’s leg. She was too tired and hurt to feel the least curiosity about their destination. Instead, she gave herself over to the enjoyment of being petted and cared for. He drove with easy assurance, one hand on the steering wheel and the other gently stroking her fur, and she dozed, lulled by the rhythmic movement of his fingers as well as the high-powered rumble of the engine.

They drove for what seemed to her to be a long time. Her nose informed her when they left the suburbs and headed into the country. Fresh scents assailed her; trees, flowers, passing fields with horses and cows. Songbirds twittered from tree branches as they passed under spreading oaks and maples.

The truck slowed and turned off the paved road, the wheels crunching on gravel. Cat stirred, struggling to a sitting position on the seat. She thought she was as stiff and sore from the hours spent in the cold steel cage as she was from her injuries. Looking out the front windshield, a long drive wound its way through a grassy yard dotted with wide-branched trees toward an older farmhouse set back from the road. Behind the house was a large barn and beyond that pastures spread off to the right of the house. Large black horses grazed within the neatly fenced enclosures, a breed that Cat didn’t recognize. It wasn’t manicured and orderly, but just enough jumbled to be pleasantly attractive and homey. Cat felt an odd pulling at her heart, as if she had known this place in the past. It gave her the strangest feeling, almost of coming home.

Troy pulled the truck up in front of the house.

“Here we are, Cat.”

A large collie bounded out of the house, barking ecstatically. Troy stepped out of the truck, fending off the collie’s joyous advances.

“Down, Cherie,” he told the dog in his deep voice. “We have a

visitor.”

He reached into the truck, lifting Cat carefully, doing his best not to jar her wounds. He held her cradled close against his chest with one arm, the other latching firmly on the collie’s collar, keeping the collie from jumping at Cat. Cat sensed no aggression from the dog, only friendly curiosity.

Troy carried her up the few low, broad steps to the porch, then on into the house. It was cool inside, air conditioned. Cat looked about her with interest. Gorgeous polished red oak floors met her approving gaze, with braided rag rugs scattered about here and there. She only had a minute to look, as Troy carried her through a dining room into a large, oldfashioned kitchen.

He set her carefully on the kitchen table. Cat wrinkled her nose fastidiously. Ew, this must be some kind of a “guy” thing. Personally, she never allowed cats on her table. It was totally unsanitary.

At a quiet but firm order from Troy, the collie, Cherie, went to lay down in a corner, the soulful brown eyes fixed on her master as he moved about the kitchen. Well-trained. That was good.

“Now, let’s have a look at you, pretty Cat,” he said. He removed the bandages, exploring the deep bite wounds with a cautious touch. The probing, careful as he was, hurt her, but she knew he was doing his best not to hurt her, and she purred at him.

He opened a cupboard near the back door that she had assumed was a pantry, but appeared to be full of veterinary supplies. Again, this must be another guy thing. Most people she knew kept food in their kitchen, but Troy apparently kept first aid supplies in his. He returned to the table and smeared antibiotic ointment on the puncture wounds.

“You’re a pretty, pretty thing,” he told her, his deep voice approving.

“Gentle, too.”

Huh. Cat’s whiskers twitched in amusement.

“It’s a damned shame what happened to you,” he went on, talking as much to himself as to her. That was another thing that she found herself liking about him. He talked to her as if she were a person, as if she could understand him.

“I wonder if they caught the dog that did this. Sounds like a mastiff, from the description the woman who brought you in gave them. She

offered to pay the bill for you to be fixed up.”

Cat flicked her ears forward. Well, now wasn’t that interesting? She’d have to have Douglas get the woman’s name and she could…  “Yowwww!”

“Sorry, pretty kitty.” The large hands soothed her apologetically.

“Guess that’s sore, huh?”

He took a clean roll of bandages from his supplies, and wound it about her ribs and her shoulder, snugly but not too tight. That done, he stroked her head, his gaze admiring.

“Well, little lady, you got torn up some, but you’ll be fine. Jacinth and Douglas both assured me you’ve had your rabies vaccine, which is good, since from the description of that dog, it was a worry.”

Rabies. Cat considered that for a long moment, her golden eyes narrowing as she replayed the event in her mind. She hadn’t thought the dog was rabid, although it had been slavering when it attacked her. No, something else had been behind that attack. The dog had been set onto her by someone… or something. Something that was not quite human, and she had a pretty good idea who… or at least what… it was.

Troy brought her a bowl of water, and she drank gratefully. He brought a plate of cat food for her, but she turned her head away in disgust. She hurt so badly that food held no appeal for her, but even if she were starving she would never eat such gross stuff. She’d worry about that later, though, when she felt better.

After taking the food away, Troy picked her up again and carried her into the living room, settling her with care on the sofa, pulling an afghan from where it was draped over a chair and making a nest for her to lay on. A very nice afghan, too, she thought disapprovingly, even as she made herself comfortable on it, kneading the soft folds. Probably hand-made, and with a faint scent of lavender. Perhaps it had been his grandmother’s, it was that kind of afghan. He should be taking better care of it.

In the meantime, Troy had disappeared into some other part of the house, returning shortly with a cat box, which he put in the corner of the room and filled with litter from a large yellow box. Eww!! Cat wrinkled her nose. Like she was going to use one of those!

It hurt too much to curl up, so she stretched out, laying her chin on her paws. She drowsed, one ear cocked to listen for Troy as he moved about the house, the collie a constant companion at his heels. After a bit he returned to the living room, lowering his large form into a large leather recliner. Cherie whined a bit, then went to lay in a cushioned dog bed before the hearth, turning herself around and around before settling.

All the while, Cat  turned over her options, considering what she should do. If she went home, she would have to take care of herself, which meant Changing… and she suspected her wounds would hurt much, much worse if she were to try the Change. Or she could stay here, in her cat form, with Troy until she had healed. That might even be the better idea. He would take good care of her. Besides, she liked Troy. She liked him, and his house, and she wasn’t much inclined to want to leave right now. There were of course disadvantages to that as well, but she was too tired and hurt to worry about those right now. But also, just to clinch the matter, if she stayed in her cat form to heal, she wouldn’t have scars when she returned to her human form. Shifters never did.

So that was decided. She would stay here in this spacious farm house with this gentle giant of a man to look after her, and Cherie to keep her company. She eyed the collie doubtfully, who was eyeing her with equal indecision. Cherie was pregnant, Cat realized, noticing the dog’s rounded, fecund belly. From the size of her, she was due to have pups any day. It was a testament to Troy’s handling and training that the dog accepted a strange animal into the household so easily when she was so close to giving birth.

Safe. He made the collie feel safe with him. Cat felt it too.

Safe.

With a sigh, Cat closed her eyes and dozed, only the tip of her tail swaying to and fro. After watching the news on the large-screen television mounted on the wall across the room, Troy got up to move through the house, closing blinds and windows and flipping the lock on the front door. Cat kept one ear perked, swiveling to follow his passage as he moved past her into the small hallway and made his way up a narrow staircase to the upper floor.

The click-click of toenails on the wooden stairs informed her that Cherie accompanied Troy upstairs. Good. She felt her muscles relax, not aware until that moment how apprehensive she’d been to be left alone downstairs with the dog. Not that Cherie was like the one who’d attacked her. But it was good that she was upstairs. Cat rose, and gingerly jumped down from the sofa, her injured body protesting every move. She leapt up onto the recliner that stood at right-angles to the sofa. The leather wasn’t nearly so soft as the sofa and the comfy afghan, but it was clearly Troy’s chair, and she snuggled herself into his scent as she reposed herself for the night.

~*~

She was being shaken, flung to and fro, huge sharp teeth like a vise holding her in their grip. With every movement they were moving closer to the prize, shifting higher, seeking her vulnerable neck, to shut off her windpipe. Unable to escape that clamp on her body, she cried out again and again.

A light came on, and footsteps sounded, coming nearer.

“Hey there.” A man’s voice, deep and soothing. A hand stroked her fur. “Come on, pretty kitty, wake up.”

She trembled, and drew a deep breath, her eyes opening. Troy. She shoved her head gratefully under his hand, relieved to be released from the nightmare.

“Bad dream?” Troy sympathized. “You’re safe now with me, kitty cat.”

He picked her up, cradling her in one arm against his bare chest. He was clad only in a pair of pajama bottoms, she realized. The air conditioner had been turned off when he went to bed earlier, and the house was beginning to heat up in the hot summer night.

Carrying her up the stairs, he walked into a large bedroom at the front of the house. The lights were off, but her cat eyes allowed her to see as clearly as if it were day.

Troy’s bedroom was furnished as comfortably as the rest of the house. A heavy wooden four-poster stood in the center of the room with a matching oak dresser against one wall, and what looked like an oldfashioned shaving stand in one corner. A bookshelf was crammed with hardbound books, with a few paperbacks to one side. She could explore those once she was healed enough to Change. The room was cooled by a ceiling fan, whirring lazily overhead.

She was struck for the first time at the overall cleanliness of the house. He must have a housekeeper who came in to do for him. He probably had farm hands too, given the large barn and the extensive paddocks and pastures beyond.

The blankets and quilt on the four-poster had been folded neatly at the end of the bed, but the sheet was tossed back and rumpled, as if the sleeper had left the bed hastily. Troy settled Cat comfortably on the folded blankets, then slipped back between the sheets.

“There, pretty kitty. You sleep here and know you’re safe.”

On a hook rug nearby, Cherie raised her head to gaze at the newcomer, decided it wasn’t worth investigating, and lowered her head to the floor, closing her eyes with a comfortable sigh.

~*~

She awoke in the morning to the sound of the shower running; Troy was getting ready for work. The soothing, steady sound of the water combined with the singing of birds outside and the warm patch of sunlight slanting across the blankets on which she lay, lulled her back to sleep.

Awhile later she protested drowsily when she was picked up and carried downstairs against a hard, broad chest.

“I don’t want you trying to manage the stairs yet,” he told her, as if she could understand him. He settled her on the sofa, then looked about. “I’m headed off to work now. You have everything you need here, pretty kitty. Water, food, and your litter box.”

He stroked her head, his eyes moving over her assessingly.

“You should be okay for now, and I’ll be back at lunch to look in on you.”

Again it struck her how Troy talked to her as if she were a thinking, reasoning human being, as if she could understand him, even though he believed her to be just a cat. The big vet had a way with animals, a sure touch and calm manner that inspired trust in the animals he looked after, and probably their owners as well.

Since he had taken care to place her right where a shaft of sun struck the sofa through the front windows, Cat had no real objection to staying where she was placed, but laid her head on her paws and closed her eyes, listening drowsily to the sound of his footsteps crossing the floor, the opening and closing of the door, the key in the latch. A few moments later the truck engine roared to life, and Troy was gone.

Cat dozed, half awake, half asleep, one part of her on alert in the way of felines. The birds sang loudly outside, and a short distance away horses snuffled and squealed, and the occasional vehicle roared down the country lane. Cherie’s toenails clacked on the floor as the collie wandered into the living room. She approached the small bowl of water that Troy had left for Cat, and Cat lifted her head to glare at the dog.

Don’t. You. Dare. She sent the thought firmly to the dog. That was the only water available to her in this form, and there was no way she was going to drink water tainted with dog drool!

With a whimper Cherie scrambled backward, eyes wide with alarm as she stared at Cat. The dog whined in confusion, and Cat reinforced the order, noting that her mental voice today was strong.

MY water. No.

Cherie retreated to the kitchen door, whining and casting nervous glances at Cat, who ignored her, closing her eyes once more.

After a bit Cat began to feel the first pangs of hunger. She jumped off the sofa, wincing at the pain that shot through her shoulder and back. She limped painfully across the floor. It hurt more than she’d thought it would, and she found herself panting by the time she reached the bowl of food by the kitchen door. Apparently the can of cat food he’d offered her last night had been his only such can, because this morning’s offering was canned mackerel… the kind for humans, not cats. Mackerel wasn’t her favorite, but it was fish and it wasn’t cat food, so she ate gratefully.

The pain must have dulled her appetite, or maybe the exhaustion from the effort to reach the kitchen, because a few bites seemed to be all she could eat. The living room seemed a long way away, and she hurt too much to jump back up onto the sofa anyway, so she settled herself on the hooked rug beneath the kitchen table and let sleep overtake her once more.

When she awoke from her nap she felt much better, more alert than she had been before, and curious to explore Troy’s house… or at any rate, the first floor. The motif of hardwood floors and wooden furniture carried through the rest of the house as well. The dining room had a large table that would probably fit ten people easily; it was a table made for large families. An open-work buffet stood at one of the room and held a full service of china. Everything looked as if it had been here a long time. Cat thought perhaps this had been Troy’s family home; it was the kind of home that a family lived in and passed on for generations. There was a nice lived in feeling, and the smells of human and dog and good lemon furniture oil combined pleasingly to her sensitive nose.

The kitchen was laid with linoleum, and white eyelet Priscilla curtains hung at the windows. Blue cupboards with butcher-block tops lent a cheerful note to the large room. It had been renovated recently. The appliances were all shiny and modern, and not much used either, Cat noticed.

Behind the kitchen was a small room that served as both laundry room and mud room. The door leading to the back yard and barn beyond had a large flap in it, allowing Cherie to come and go as she pleased. Cat gazed at it, but didn’t feel up to tackling the outdoors. She wrinkled her nose in resignation. She was going to have to use that cat box after all, at least until she felt up to venturing outside. Turning, she limped slowly back into the living room. Across the room was a small hallway with a bathroom and at least one other bedroom from the little she could see, but she was sore and stiff. She could explore those later. At least she was somewhat better than the night before. The pain had faded to a dull, nagging ache.

Well, mostly. If she didn’t move or breathe.

Clicking toenails on the wood floor announced Cherie’s arrival, and Cat turned to see the collie watching her wistfully from the hall door. She hadn’t had to speak to the collie since that morning, but Cherie gave her wide berth, casting anxious glances her way whenever they were in the same room. Time to bridge the gap. Cat padded across the floor to where the collie stood, walking boldly beneath the long, narrow head and letting her tail drape around and beneath the slender muzzle. Cherie whined slightly. Twining between the dog’s legs, Cat stropped against the thick fur and the dog’s head dipped down to snuffle at her, wondering but not unfriendly. This was a good dog.

Cat gave a reassuring purr, reaching up to rub her muzzle along Cherie’s cheek. Yuck. The things she had to do. But Cherie had lost that anxious look, and the plumy tail began to wave slowly back and forth.

Cat passed underneath the collie, letting her tail drape along the dog’s rotund belly, and padded into the living room. Her muscles were loosening up now that she was up and about and moving. Her shoulder ached, though, where murderous teeth had dug deep, and her leg was sore enough that although she could bear weight on it, she preferred not to. She leapt onto the sofa, turning around and around in the sunbeams that streamed in through the wide windows, before settling herself as comfortably as she could.

Her head came up as tires crunched on gravel, and she tensed. That wasn’t Troy’s truck. Cherie charged through the kitchen and out the dog door in the back door, but her barks were welcoming. Still, Cat rose warily and padded into the back bedroom on the first floor, on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen. The window in the small room overlooked the back yard and the barn. Cat leapt for the windowsill, but her hind legs faltered and her claws scrabbled for purchase on the wood before she fell to the floor. She lay a moment panting through the pain. At least that dog hadn’t been here to witness her humiliation. Her fur ruffled as much from the indignity as from the fall, Cat gathered herself once more and made a relatively smooth leap to the sill.

From here she peered out to see who had arrived. Cherie was frisking about and leaping at two men in jeans and t-shirts who’d emerged from a battered old pickup truck. One disappeared into the barn, the other going around the side to the back of the barn, Cherie at his heels. Cat relaxed. The stable hands, of course. Not being interested, she left her perch, returning to the living room. Her fall hadn’t helped the aches and pains, and it was a struggle to jump back up to the sofa, although she didn’t fall again. But it was a relief to dispose herself on the soft crocheted afghan and let her battered body rest.

Copyright© 2021 by Allie McCormack

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About the Author

Allie McCormack is a disabled U.S. military veteran, now pursuing her life-long dream of being a writer. Allie has traveled quite a bit and lived many places all over the U.S., as well as a year in Cairo, Egypt as an exchange student, and a year in Saudi Arabia under contract to a hospital in Riyadh. Allie now lives in wine country in beautiful southern California with her family and two rescue cats.

Allie says: “A writer is who and what I am… a romance writer. I write what I know, and what I know is romance. Dozens of story lines and literally hundreds of characters live and breathe within the not-so-narrow confines of my imagination, and it is my joy and privilege to bring them to life, to share them with others by writing their stories.”

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#Excerpt “Curse of the Gods (Warrior of the Isles, Book 1)” by R.L. McIntyre

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YA Historical Fantasy

 

Date Published: 09-21-2021

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Dare to defy the Gods?

The Gods demand absolutes, absolute devotion to a prophecy Seanait wishes wasn’t real. Ever since her riastrad awoke she has trained for her seventeenth birthday and the beginning of her destiny. With only a few months left, she is ready to return home to Ulster but when Romans invade Caledonia she can’t leave the land defenseless. Taking up arms next to her best friend Eion she is ready to defy the Gods and save lives. A chance encounter with the seventh fae prince of Amanthia, Cillian, awakens a dream that could change everything.

Cillian has spent nearly a year running from the trials for the crown of Amanthia. He wants nothing to do with the faelands who see him as a monster because of his Primal magic. He’s determined to never return but when Gods meddle in the fates of fae and humans alike everything will not go to plan. In order to survive the war with the Romans and their own destinies, Seanait and Cillian must depend on the one thing pulling them closer, their uncertain hearts.

This is YA historical fantasy series based on the Irish myth of Cu Chulainn.

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EXCERPT

“Walk with me,” I said. He looked up at me and followed me to the edge of camp. I looked out into the dark foliage and stepped into it. Cillian’s hand snatched my wrist.

“Where are you leading me?” he asked, a slight tremor in his voice.

I leaned back towards him and gently pulled my hand free. “Come and find out,” I taunted, walking into the darkness. For a moment I heard nothing, but his steps soon continued behind me, crunching on dry leaves. I pushed aside branches and ducked under others, looking for a small opening where I could no longer hear the sounds of camp. Moonlight glistened through the trees, the color matching Cillian’s hair, as we walked. He was steady beside me like a hound on my heels, in silent comradery. The trees revealed a small opening and I walked into it before turning to face Cillian.

“I want answers,” I said, folding my arms over my chest. The wind blew his orange blossom scent towards me and I fought against the urge to step closer to him. This was the exact reason I knew something was wrong. There was no reason for me to step closer. If he was manipulating me, then I needed enough room to strike first. I would not be used.

“Answers?” he asked, his head cocking to the side.

“I have a riastrad.” His eyes opened wide. “When Eion said I was Godsblessed, that’s what I was gifted. Only Eion and few other things have ever been able to pull me from the grips of its power. So why could you?”

His eyes widened further before he looked away. “I do not know.”

“Lies,” I growled, stepping closer. He remained silent and it aggravated me. The heat of my anger sparked my riastrad and I shoved him back into a tree trunk. “What magic did you use?”

“Seanait, please, these are not questions either of us want answers to,” he said, looking back at me. His dark eyes begged me to stop.

“Why, Cillian?” I stepped closer and he bolted away, taking a deep breath. He opened his mouth to say something as the wind blew past me towards him. His mouth shut and he gritted his teeth stepping further away from me.

I stepped closer. “Cillian?”

“Stay there before I do something, we both regret,” he snapped.

He was avoiding something. He knew something and was refusing to tell me.

I stormed closer to him, stopping mere inches away. “Tell me the truth,” I growled. His eyes glimmered purple with magic and he snatched my arm. His grip tightened as his jaw tensed. With little effort, he swung my back into the nearby tree trunk, pinning me against it. His body kept me from escaping. Not that I was worried. With my riastrad, he posed no danger—and even without it, a part of me knew he did not want to hurt me. He didn’t feel dangerous.

My heart strummed loudly in my chest and my breaths grew shallow under his gaze. What was happening to me?

“The truth can get us both killed,” he murmured. I grew very aware of how close he was to me. His body hovered above mine. His hot breath caught in the crook of my neck sending a shiver down my back. “Stop pushing.” He looked into my eyes. Fear clouded his and I felt it too. We were both being held underwater by this strange feeling, struggling to breathe.

“Cillian.” My hand rose to his cheek and touched his chilled skin. He closed his eyes tight, his grip on my arm tightening. We stood frozen in place as my heart raced. The heat of my anger was cooled by him. His hold relaxed as he leaned into my hand.

“Seanait.” He opened his eyes, leaning closer to me. His hand moved to the back of my neck pulling my face closer. Whatever he fought against moments before, he gave into. I searched his eyes for a reason. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to heed his warning or continue towards my answers. Answers I could only understand if I gave into the scent of orange blossom that clouded my judgement.

My lips hovered above his. There was no going back after this. If it was a spell, I could seal it. I had kissed others before, but nothing came close to the anticipation rippling through me at that moment. My body felt hot as if it boiled from the inside. I knew my answers laid on his lips and I was so tired of fighting everything in my life but Eion. Did I not deserve the relief of a tender touch? Even if it was all a trick, for a few moments I could forget the world and the Gods. For a few moments, I could be a foolish girl in the woods kissing a fae prince.

I leaned in closer, closing my eyes.

~~~

About the Author

I am a new author who started my self-publishing journey this year in 2021. Curse of the Gods will be my fourth book this year but not my last. I live in the Philadelphia area with a house full of crazy cats you can see on my Instagram or website. I’m a long-time reader and fantasy fan. Anything with strong female protagonists pulls me in.

 

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#BookReview “Hysterical Memories” by Eugene Wallace

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4/5 Stars!

At times heartbreaking and harrowing, Hysterical Memories also offers up a bit of humor… even if purely unintentional.

From early childhood through middle-age, Eugene suffers a laundry list of life’s indignities including, domestic violence, bullying, alcoholism, substance abuse, prison, and homelessness.

While not an Indian Jones-type adventure, Eugene’s story is one of a transient lifestyle. When he’s released from prison after a rebellious youth, his travels will take him across much of the UK and its surrounding countries, taking jobs in the kitchens of low-level dives and five-star restaurants alike to survive.

The son of a schizophrenic mother with an evil streak and an abusive father, Eugene is hindered by his own struggles with mental illness and depression. While there were doctors and clinics always willing to dispense pills and rehab, Eugene never received a solid foundation of support, and all too soon was on his own again, in an alcoholic daze moving from job to job.

Though not a challenging read, Hysterical Memories is thought-provoking as it shows how easy it is to fall through society’s cracks and go from mental illness to crime to hopelessness.

However, despite the weird friendships, psycho bosses and landlords, and even manic episodes and suicide attempts, Eugene always managed to land on his feet and was able to complete college with a chef certification. Kudos to him!

Enjoy!

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About Hysterical Memories
Memoir

Date Published: May 2021

Here is the story of a man’s life that has been riddled and ruffled with emotionally unstable personality disorder, a known mental illness. Despite spending a considerable part of his life at various rehabilitation facilities, Eugene’s life was largely marred with crazy-bound incidences. He was a convicted drug dealer with a history of violence. His case was so bad that he even attacked his dad with a claw hammer. He was everything you could think of when it came to drugs and crime. However, from the lowest depths of a mentally unstable man, Eugene rose to become one of UK’s finest chefs of all time.

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