#BookBlitz “Duty Bound (Shades of Gray Serial Trilogy, Volume 1)” by Jessica James

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Shades of Gray Serial Trilogy, Volume 1

Historical Fiction

Date Published: 06-08-2021

 

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Award-winning Enemies-to-Lovers Civil War novel.

 Can two adversaries reach beyond the battle lines to unite in the midst war?

Honor and conviction clash with loyalty and love in this sweeping Civil War tale that pits brother against brother. Duty Bound is Volume I in the Shades of Gray Civil War Serial Trilogy.

Colonel Alexander Hunter would rather die than see the Union set foot on his beloved Virginia soil. And while he holds the line against Northern aggression with legendary skill, a treacherous boy on horseback always thwarts his offensives.

His allegiance is tested when the traitor he unmasks is the woman he once swore to his brother he would protect.

Andrea Monroe would do anything to make her country whole again. A Southern-born Union spy, she’s dedicated to undermining the arrogant Confederate officer. When she’s taken captive and badly injured, Andrea is shocked to wake up in the legendary home of her nemesis, rather than prison.

As prisoner and captor spend time together, their mutual loyalty grows into unexpected devotion. But as fresh conflicts arise, they again, cross swords.

There’s a fine line between friends and enemies. Can these two headstrong foes overcome their differences?

 “It is a book I think could have the impact of a ‘Gone With the
Wind.” – J. Noyalas, Assistant Professor of History

 

“The best Civil War fiction book since Cold Mountain.” –
J. Bibb, SCV, Trimble Camp 1836

 

“Andrea and Alex will surely take the place in my heart of Rhett and
Scarlett as the perfect Civil War fictional love story!” – A.
Deyarmin

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About the Author

Jessica James is an award-winning author of historical fiction, suspense/thrillers and heartwarming Southern small town fiction, who has a special place in her heart for old trees, old houses and old books.

She writes inspirational novels with emotional plots, fascinating characters, unforeseen twists, and touches of heart-warming romance.

James’ novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.

She shares her passions for travel and history on her blog Past Lane Travels, where you can read about off-the-beaten-path historical sites she visits.

To sign up for her newsletter and receive a free book, go to http://www.subscribepage.com/jessicajamesnews

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#BookBlitz “The Shade Under The Mango Tree” by Evy Journey

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Literary, Contemporary Fiction, Multicultural

 

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Gold Medal, Contemporary Fiction, 2021 Global Book Awards (formerly New
York City Book Awards)

Finalist, 2021 SPR (Self Publishing Review) Book Awards

Finalist, Multicultural Fiction, 2021 International Book Awards

 

After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home where she grew up. An adventure in which she can make some difference.

Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. He has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it. But they don’t stop him. His decision to go on reading changes his life.

Meeting later at a bookstore, Luna is fascinated by Lucien’s stories and adventurous spirit. She goes to a rice-growing village in a country steeped in an ancient culture and a deadly history. What she finds there defies anything she could have imagined. Will she leave this world unscathed?

An epistolary tale of courage, resilience, and the bonds that bring diverse people together.

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Excerpt

Prologue

Luna: February, 2016

Ov’s thin upper body is slumped over his crossed legs, his forehead resting on the platform. His brown, wiry arms lie limp, the right one extended forward, hand dangling over the edge of the platform. Dried blood is splattered on his head, and on the collar, right shoulder, and back of his old short-sleeved white shirt.

It seems fitting that he died where he used to spend most of his time when he wasn’t on the rice fields—sitting on a corner of the bamboo platform in the ceiling-high open space under the house. It’s where you get refreshing breezes most afternoons, after a long day of work.

The policeman looks down at Ov’s body as if he’s unsure what to do next. He lays down his camera and the gun in a plastic bag at one end of the platform untainted by splatters of gelled blood.

He steps closer to the body, anchors himself with one knee on top of the platform, and bends over the body. Hooking his arms underneath Ov’s shoulders and upper arms, he pulls the body up, and carefully lays it on its back. He straightens the legs.

He steps off the platform. Stands still for a few seconds to catch his breath. He turns to us and says, “It’s clear what has happened. I have all the pictures I need.”

 He points to his camera, maybe to make sure we understand. We have watched him in silence, three zombies still in shock. Me, standing across the bamboo platform from him. Mae and Jorani sitting, tense and quiet, on the hammock to my left.

Is that it? Done already? I want to ask him: Will he have the body taken away for an autopsy? I suppose that’s what is routinely done everywhere in cases like this. But I don’t know enough Khmer.

As if he sensed my unspoken question, he glances at me. A quick glance that comes with a frown. He seems perplexed and chooses to ignore me.

He addresses the three of us, like a captain addressing his troop. “You can clean up.”

The lingering frown on his brow softens into sympathy. He’s gazing at Jorani, whose mournful eyes remain downcast. He looks away and turns toward Mae. Pressing his hands together, he bows to her. A deeper one than the first he gave her when she and Jorani arrived.

He utters Khmer words too many and too fast for me to understand. From the furrowed brow and the look in his eyes, I assume they are words of sympathy. He bows a third time, and turns to go back to where he placed the gun and camera. He picks them up and walks away.

For a moment or two, I stare at the figure of the policeman walking away. Then I turn to Jorani. Call him back. Don’t we have questions? I can ask and you can translate, if you prefer. But seeing her and Mae sitting as still and silent as rocks, hands on their laps, and eyes glazed as if to block out what’s in front of them, the words get trapped in my brain. Their bodies, rigid just moments before, have gone slack, as if to say: What else can anyone do? What’s done cannot be undone. All that’s left is to clean up, as the policeman said. Get on with our lives.

My gaze wanders again toward the receding figure of the policeman on the dirt road, the plastic bag with the gun dangling in his right hand. Does it really matter how Cambodian police handles Ov’s suicide? I witnessed it. I know the facts. And didn’t I read a while back how Buddhism frowns upon violations on the human body? The family might object against cutting up Ov—the way I’ve seen on TV crime shows—just to declare with certainty what caused his death.

I take in a long breath. I have done all I can and must defer to Cambodian beliefs and customs.

But I can’t let it go yet. Ov chose to end his life in a violent way and I’m curious: Do the agonies of his last moments show on his face? I steal another look.

All I could gather, from where I stand, is life has definitely gone out of every part of him. His eyes are closed and immobile. The tic on his inanimate cheeks hasn’t left a trace. The tic that many times was the only way I could tell he had feelings. Feelings he tried to control or hide. Now, his face is just an expressionless brown mask. Maybe everyone really
has a spirit, a soul that rises out of the body when one dies, leaving a mansize mass of clay.

I stare at Ov’s body, lying in a darkened, dried pool of his own blood, bits of his skull and brain scattered next to his feet where his head had been. At that moment, it hits me that this would be the image of Ov I will always remember. I shudder.

My legs begin to buckle underneath me and I turn around, regretting that last look. With outstretched hands, I take a step toward the hammock. Jorani rises to grab my hands, and she helps me sit down next to Mae.

Could I ever forget? Could Mae and Jorani? Would the image of Ov in a pool of blood linger in their memories like it would in mine?

I know I could never tell my parents what happened here this afternoon. But could I tell Lucien? The terrible shock of watching someone, in whose home I found a family, fire a gun to his head? And the almost as horrifying realization—looking back—that I knew what he was going to do, but I hesitated for a few seconds to stop him.

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About the Author

Evy Journey writes. Stories. Blogs (three sites). Cross-genre novels. She’s also a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse (an ambler).

Evy studied psychology ( Ph.D. University of Illinois) initially to help her understand herself and Dostoevsky. Now, she spins tales about
multicultural characters dealing with the problems and issues of contemporary life. She believes in love and its many faces.

Just as she has crossed genres in writing fiction, she has also crossed cultures, having lived and traveled in various cities in different countries. Find her thoughts on travel, art, and food at Artsy Rambler (https://eveonalimb2.com).

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#BookBlitz “Look at Mommy’s Tummy” by Genny Stauch

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Children’s Book

Publisher: Page Publishing

 

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What child has not anticipated the addition of a new sibling? Feeling very comfortable being an only child, little Jake is disturbed to hear that a baby is coming. He decides that the baby could be adopted by a childless family. As the delivery of the baby draws near,  God answers Jake’s prayer in a way he did not expect!

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About the Author

Genny Stauch is a wife, mother, Ordained Childrens Minister, devoted writer and author.

She is a Grandmother to her six grandchildren and great
grandmother to two!

 

 

 

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#BookBlitz “Nightmasters Book 2: Change of Engagement” by Loran Holt

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Nightmasters, Book 2

 

Fantasy

Date Published: June 4 (Hardcover Release August 11)

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Kelgan Defthand and his rather motley crew continue on their quest to defeat an unknown and terrible malevolence. They are expecting the same places, faces, and traces of evil, but an enormous surprise awaits them. A mysterious ship takes them to an even more mysterious destination, and “Others” seem to have intruded.

Who are they? What do they want? Can they be trusted?

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About the Author

Recently retired from a job as a University Professor, and looking for diversion in sunny Southern California, Loran Holt did what any Southern Californian does – took up writing, of course. Feeling that sword-and-sorcery suited her personality admirably, she set her sights on that genre. Nightmasters is the result and her first published work of fiction, but she is already the published author of two books on silent film costume design under the Author name Lora Ann Sigler.

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#BookBlitz “Euphoric Wonderland” by Ryan M. Becker

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An Eclectic Collection of Psychedelic Poetry to Stimulate the Senses and
Open the Mind

Poetry

Date Published: 03-21-2022

Publisher: Trippy-Ass Books

 

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Open your heart to a compilation of musical poetry and surreal expression drawn from madness and mania.

Artfully weaving a rhythmic tapestry of touching poetry that flows like music, this deeply personal memoir invites readers on a fascinating deep dive into the author’s raw and heartfelt world of living rhythms and authentic feelings. As a deft amalgamation of spoken word, truth to power, clever wordplay, and thoughtful reflections, Euphoric Wonderland illuminates a mad spark of creativity as it draws uplifting inspiration from even the darkest of times.

Stimulate your imagination and open your mind to a psychedelic and enigmatic assemblage that ranges from tributes to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, head-banging heavy metal, to vinyl records, slam-poetry, superheroes, mind-altering possibilities, and the Jekyll and Hyde living inside each of us. Euphoric Wonderland blossoms out of madness, grappling with
psychological issues through humorous and uplifting vibes.

Shining like a beacon for curious minds, this eclectic collection offers a moment of reprieve for those who want to forget about their mental health-related challenges, gifting you with light, laughter, and inspiring you with a message of hope. Euphoric Wonderland carries you down a rabbit hole of unusual and trippy experiences that gives you a newfound perspective on love, pain, life, and the joys – and struggles – of existence.

*Now in Full-Color with art by Matthew Revert*

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About the Author

Euphoric Wonderland is Ryan Becker’s seminal literary work which was largely inspired by the relationship he has with his parents, both of whom are poets in their own rights and words.

His father is a self-taught classical pianist, as well as an avid Shakespeare fan and aficionado. Those
two elements of the fine arts were instilled in Ryan at an early age and were quickly absorbed through his father’s reading to him about famous musicians and writers.

As an avid collector of vinyl records, upon hearing the music of The Beatles for the first time, specifically their Abbey Road album, Ryan knew his destiny was to write. “Every step of this life’s journey is a learning experience,” proclaims Mr. Becker. He further adds,
“The Beatles taught me how not to have hate in my heart, why we must help people in need, and to never hesitate to openly express my feelings in any situation.”

Ryan credits his even-tempered, soft-spoken mother for his development as a human being. He tries to emulate her cool-under-pressure manner as well as her kind and empathetic heart, which she shares with anyone in need. It is those characteristics he’s inherited that allow him to express himself through his writing.

Ryan’s childhood carried with it some undeniably emotional bumps and bruises, explaining “Everyone has struggles, and many have their inner demons. The only way for me to exorcize them is by taking them out of my brain and putting them down on paper.”

Writing can be a wonderful escape from reality as well as a fantastic way of feeling comfort within one’s true reality.

Watching reruns of Smallville on repeat, Ryan asserts that the character of Clark Kent, portrayed by Tom Welling, has taught him a few things about growing up. For example, it helped him learn how to speak and interact better with others—trust in people who treat him right and never disregard someone who has his best interests at heart.

It is why he proclaims, “Don’t ever let anyone take a torch to your dreams. Use that fire to motivate you to achieve your greatness, no matter in which arena you might be endeavoring!”

 

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#BookBlitz “Inspiration Coffee and Wisdom Tea for a Hectic Day” by Reverend Peter G. Vu

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Self-Help, Inspirational, Spiritual

Date Published: June 2022

Publisher: International Book Media

 

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A Wonderful Companion for Your Hectic Life and a Modern Safety Shield in a Dangerous World.

Like our daily coffee and tea, I try to keep the two daily sayings and their reflections short and sweet. This book is designed simply to give us a quick spiritual boost as we try to run from one task to another on our “hectic day”. Although the short-term goal of this book is to help us get through “a hectic day” with joy and purpose, its long-term focus is to fine tune our characters and make us better people at home, at work, at worshipping place, in the neighborhood, and in other places. This world would be like Heaven if there is less fighting, arguing, and killing. We cannot get our cup of coffee, latte, or tea these days without worrying that a crazy lunatic would come in with a deadly weapon to gun us down like an animal or a bomb to blow us up. We certainly cannot enjoy anything in a world like that. This situation needs to be stopped and it begins with us. We need to talk and act differently than what we see on the news or witness in our world every day. When we can do that, we help change the world one person at the time and others hopefully will follow our example. This transformation will not only make our world a better place but also make us feel much better about ourselves.

The Covid-19 pandemic also has affected us all in every way – young and old, weak and strong, women and men. Many of us have lost a family member or friend to this virus, or known someone who has experienced this loss. A self-help book like this will give you the tools and daily exercises that can create the right condition for your body and spirit to restore itself with the divine help.

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Excerpt

Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it. (Winston Churchill) (1001 Quotes, pg 13)

Inspiring Morning Mojo: We love to fly high like a kite and enjoy much success in our lives. But, great success comes when we dare to buck the trend and go against the current. Today I am willing to go against the typical ways and do something different to achieve great result.

The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread. (Exodus 1:12) (Bible Quotations, pg 7)

Words of Encouragement: The enemies tried to oppress God’s people and hoped to exterminate them. But, they multiplied and grew stronger. Likewise, a long, hectic day might try to scare and discourage me. But, I will work harder and dream bigger with a new day.

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About the Author

Rev. Peter G. Vu has served as a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan for over 25 years and also a chaplain at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

He was born in Saigon City (currently Ho Chi Minh City), Viet Nam. He was a young boy when the Viet Nam War ended. He witnessed the war and the end of it with great horror and deep appreciation for peace. He grew up with the Communist government system and endured significant hardships for more than a decade. After high school, he escaped by boat and came to the United States of America to begin his seminary training. He attended one year of high school here in the USA (Union High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan) to learn the language and new culture. He attended Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan for two years while staying at Christopher House Seminary. Then, the Seminary sent him to attend his last two years of college at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated with a double major: Mathematics and Philosophy. He then attended graduate
school at the University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, Illinois for five years. He graduated and was ordained with the Master’s Degree of Divinity (MDiv) and the Sacred Theology Baccalaureate (STB).

 

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#BookBlitz “Dummy to Diva” by Faith ‘History’ Adepoju

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Self-Help

Date Published: July 2022

Dummy to Diva is part memoir, part guide, and entirely helpful for everyone dreaming of establishing a successful career for themselves. There’s no time like now to begin!  After moving with her family from Ilorin Kwara
State, Nigeria, to the U.S. in her late teens. Faithy as a young student who had excelled for many of her primary and secondary school years, had her confidence and drive crushed by a Senior teacher who’d made it his job to put her in a sunken place. It took many years of struggle in her young adulthood, for Faith to learn from her experiences and once more apply her passionate spirit to the things she wished to achieve in her youth. She shares her own journey as a young, professional African woman who took her education and growth into her own hands, bagging a role as a Web Developer at NASA, later becoming a successful, Radio/TV host in Africa.

Dummy to Diva is a handbook for claiming your life, strengthening your
much-needed confidence, and taking those first courageous steps onto your
chosen career path. Author Faith History mingles her personal experiences
with facts and a big boost of you-can-do-it energy that will fire up your
drive to crush your dreams.

Discover tips for:

  •   Finding a Mentor
  •   Developing and using your core skills
  •   Connecting with your higher self
  •   Gaining new skills by going digital and much more

An avid lover of self-help and spirituality books by authors like Neville Goddard, Ernest Holmes, and Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr, Faithy also has a message to share in Dummy to Diva. She intends to encourage in the reader a renewed sense of knowing and confidence, using her own struggles and triumphs in learning new skills to push you forward into living your dreams.

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About the Author

Faith Temitope Adepoju (Faith History) is a Nigerian-American podcaster, producer, and TV & Radio host. Faithy has had a colorful and diverse career that’s cut across various industries including Technology, Fashion, Entertainment & Advertising.

She started her professional IT career as a Web Content Developer at NASA, she later expressed her creative side through styling and Asst. Creative Director for

the New York based magazine –The African. She went on to become a Digital Producer at Wunderman, NY and Ogilvy, South Africa before moving back to Lagos, Nigeria to pursue her dream in broadcasting. Faithy has since produced and hosted her own syndicated shows on TV, Radio and other multimedia platforms across Africa.

Faith loves to play sports, especially badminton and basketball, when she isn’t working or writing. She listens to podcasts, salsa dances, balance herself with meditation, and watches Sci-Fi shows like Star Trek or The Orville. She never misses a chance to eat Jollof rice and Dodo, fried plantain, which she loves so much that Dodo was her nickname in secondary school.

Today Faith resides between Lagos Nigeria and Greenbelt, Maryland, with her two kids and their pooch Jojo. You can find out more about Faith at about.me/faithhistory

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#BookBlitz “Just An Ordinary Love Story” by Jane Colt

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Erotic Romance

Date Published: July 2022

Publisher: Changeling Press

 

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How likely is it that studious coed Melissa will fall for Richard — former campus jerk and serial womanizer — who’s trying to mend his ways and win her heart? Not very, since, having made it to the “friend zone,” he’s afraid to tell her how he feels. It’s even less likely because Richard doesn’t know Melissa’s already married to her childhood sweetheart, Sam — who’s really
Samantha.

However… it’s not impossible. Melissa is bisexual, she’s developing feelings for Richard, and her wife is supportive of her quest to discover what her bisexuality means. What does HEA look like for a loving, blended trio?

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Excerpt

Chapter One

“WOW! That was one punishing hit on Harrison. Smashed high from the left! Slammed low from the right! No wonder he did a full three-sixty before hitting the ground. I bet it knocked the wind out of him. Wait a minute! He’s not moving, and his leg is bent out at a really troubling angle. The EMTs are rushing onto the field with a stretcher. Let’s hope
it’s not as bad as it looks. It won’t matter in this game. Harrison has given his team a twenty-one-point lead with just a quarter to play. But this young man is supposed to be headed to the NFL!”

When Richard regained consciousness, he was in a fog. He fought to clear his head but failed. He opened his eyes, but everything was out of focus.

“He’s awake.” It was his mother’s voice — but with a serious measure of worry. “How are you feeling, honey?”

He hurt everywhere, and his mouth was so dry he had trouble forming any words. “Mo- Mom? Wha- What’s g- What’s going on?” he finally got out.

* * *

Ten months later

The young man tried to hurry up the stairs, but he was still having trouble using crutches. When he pushed open the classroom door, his backpack swung around and pulled him off balance. He let go of his aluminum aids to stop from falling, and the metallic clatter as they crashed against the floor drew everyone’s attention.

Every face looked his way. Few showed sympathy. Most wore thinly veiled smirks. Some openly displayed glee. He wasn’t surprised. He deserved it, and he knew it. A distinguished woman in a lab coat walked over and picked up his crutches. “Classes began a week ago, Mr. Harrison” — she handed the crutches to him –”for everyone,” she added
sternly. “And we begin on time.”

“I understand, Professor. There were complications with my surgery. I’m sorry. I thought this building had an elevator. It won’t happen again.”

She nodded. “Come with me.”

They walked to the farthest corner of the lab where a plain looking young woman was adding something to a beaker sitting on a blue flame. She was staring intently through her large protective glasses to see what kind of reaction it would produce. “Miss Teaberry,” her teacher interrupted, “this is Richard Harrison, your new lab partner. I know you wanted to work alone, but we don’t have enough stations. However, if you decide this partnership won’t work, I’ll respect that.” She looked at Richard seriously. “If so, Mr. Harrison will have to accept the consequences of his actions.”

“It’s fine, Professor. I promise to pull my weight.”

The young woman looked suspiciously at her new partner. “I’m Melissa.”

He gave her his best smile and extended his hand. “Sorry to mess things up for you. I’m Richard.”

After looking at his hand for a few seconds, she grimaced and shook it. She turned her attention back at the beaker. “I know who you are,” she added frostily. “You’re Dick Harrison. Let’s just get to work.”

He groaned inside. There was no question what she meant. Please don’t let this be a girl I slept with and have completely forgotten. I know I was bad. But that bad? He studied her face closely. “We haven’t met before, have we?”

She turned to face him. “No. But you dated my first-year roommate, Alicia Monti.” The accusing look told him everything he needed to know.

He winced. She was kind to say he’d “dated” her roommate. He looked straight back at her. “For what it’s worth, you have every right to be angry with me. I was a jerk to her — and to more people than I want to admit. But life has kicked the shit out of me in return. Once I figure out how to get around with these” — he held up one of his crutches – “I will apologize to Alicia — and the others. They may not forgive me. But I at least want to try to do the right thing. In this class, I only want to be a good lab partner and not flunk out. Just tell me what to do.”

Melissa raised her eyebrow, eyeing him uneasily. “Are you being straight with me? This isn’t some sort of con?”

His face was somber. “No. I mean it.” His tone was repentant. “I know you have no reason to believe me. I also know that a week from now you’ll want to ask the professor to get rid of me. And not because I’m not doing my share, but because I’m rubbish when it comes to chemistry. Which will make me a pain in the ass as a lab partner. But this was the only science class with an opening. I need it to graduate, so I will do everything you want me to do. I promise I will work like crazy not to let you down. My fate is in your hands.”

Melissa pushed her glasses up her nose, silently eyed him for a while, and frowned. “Let’s see. You’re telling me I shouldn’t believe you and you’ll be nothing but a burden who will jeopardize my grade. That’s supposed to win me over?”

“I’m turning over a new leaf,” he replied seriously. “I’ve been told honesty and humility weren’t my strong suits. All I’m asking for is a chance.”

She examined the beaker again, then looked back at him. “OK. For this experiment, I want you to stir the liquid until I tell you to stop.”

“Done.” He settled on the stool in front of the beaker, took the glass rod she handed him, and began stirring the blue liquid.

Melissa neatened up their lab area, returned some chemicals to the storage closet, and came back with more. She jotted down some notes, then read in her textbook. A couple of times, the professor came by and asked, “Ready?”

When Melissa replied, “Not yet,” the teacher seemed puzzled. All the while, Richard stirred. He noticed that no one else in the class seemed to be stirring their beakers. Also, when the professor checked out their work, she told them they could leave. When one hand got tired, he switched to the other.

He and Melissa ended up being the last pair in the classroom. The professor came by one more time and glanced at the beaker. “Everything looks fine, Miss Teaberry. I need to leave. Is there a problem?”

“Not at all, professor. We’re just being extra diligent.”

She nodded. “Very well. See you next time. Be sure to clean up before you go.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

After the teacher headed out, Richard looked at Melissa as he kept stirring. “I assume I keep going.”

She didn’t even look up from her book. She simply pursed her lips tightly, looked at the page, and made a stirring motion with her hand.

Thirty minutes later she closed her book. “OK. You can stop.”

He rubbed his hands together to loosen them up. He’d been stirring for more than an hour straight. “What next?”

“Next?” Her eyebrows arched in surprise. “You’re willing to keep going?”

“If you want me to. Yes. I’ll even stay here alone and do stuff if you want. I know this was a test on your part. I have to prove myself to you. If you want me to keep going, I’m OK with that.”

Her look wasn’t altogether hostile. “How’d you know?”

“It wasn’t hard,” he said with a laugh. “Everyone else stirred for about thirty seconds. The prof checked their work. They left. I assume you’d already done the stirring before I got here. The only explanation was that you needed to see if I meant what I said. You were
giving me a chance, and I want to thank you for that.”

She narrowed her eyes. Was he playing her? He seemed sincere. But didn’t guys like him know how to fake it so you’d believe them until it was too late?

“So, how’d I do, boss? Will you let me be your partner?”

She looked at him seriously. “As long as you do what you’re told and don’t blow anything up, I guess we should be OK.”

He nodded and smiled. “Not exactly high praise, but I’ll take it. Thanks. I mean it.”

After they cleaned up their lab space, she showed him where the elevator was. As they exited the building, he stumbled again on his crutches. She looked concerned. “Are you OK?”

“I’ll get used to them. I’ll see you in class.”

As Richard left the building and headed toward his dorm, he heard a shout. “Dude! Wait up.”

The tall, muscular young man came up and gave him a hard slap on the back. “Yo, dude! I heard you were back. Great to see you again.”

“You too, Alex.”

“I was afraid you were gone for good.”

“Having my career end was bad enough. I had to take time off for the operations, but I wasn’t going to completely ruin my life by dropping out.”

His friend looked at the crutches. “Sorry about the sticks, man. But I bet they’ll work great with the babes. A bunch of us from the team are taking the T to the Square to hit the bars. Come with. We’ll find some hottie to throw you a sympathy fuck. It’ll be like old times.”

“Thanks. But you and I both know the only reason the other guys from the team would be glad to see me is to rub it in.”

“No way, man. Everybody loves you.”

Richard snorted.

“Well, maybe you weren’t the easiest guy to love.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ve got to study. No more ‘athletic A’s’ for me.”

“Right. That sucks. Man, school’s going to be a drag for you. Word is you even got saddled with some nerd as a lab partner. Is she hot at least? Any chance of hitting that?”

Richard winced inside. His tone became serious.

“It’s not going to be like that. I did a lot of thinking in the hospital. I’m done being a jerk who’s just looking to get laid. I’m not going to say nonstop sex wasn’t fun, but I’m not
heading to the NFL anymore. I need a new game plan. A different life. I need to be a different person. I need to grow up. Besides, Melissa’s pre-med, not a party girl.”

“Wait! ‘Melissa’ as in Melissa Teaberry?” Alex laughed. “In that case, you don’t even have to worry about being tempted. The Ice Queen herself! I hear if your junk gets within a foot of her pussy, it’ll quick-freeze and snap off. You be careful how close you stand beside her.” He chuckled and poked Richard in the chest.

“C’mon, dude.” He frowned. “Not cool. She’s being fair to me. And we both know I don’t deserve it.”

“Sorry, man. Just having fun.” Alex slapped him on the arm, then gestured in the direction of his friends. “One last chance. You sure I can’t lead you astray with some drunken debauchery? It’ll be like old times. Fuck ‘em and dump ‘em.”

“Nah. I’m good. New leaf, remember?”

Alex narrowed his eyes as he looked at him. “New leaf? You? We’ll see. When you come to your senses, you know where to find me — balls-deep in some luscious pussy. Later, dude.”

“Later, bro.”

Richard watched Alex as he walked away. He sat on the bench in front of the reflecting pool and looked into the waters. A profound sense of shame washed over him. A year ago, he’d prided himself on being a man-whore. I can’t believe I used to be that guy. I was such an asshole.

He also knew that his former teammates had absolutely no interest in seeing him. They had tolerated his arrogance because they had to. For years he’d been told how gifted he was as a quarterback. He was going to the NFL. As far as he was concerned, he was doing them a favor by winning so many games for them. They rode on his coattails. He’d be one of the greats. They would be sentenced to boring jobs. He walked with a swagger and
was conceited and condescending.

He shivered with disgust. No more. You’re getting a second chance. Don’t blow it.

~~~~

 About the Author

Originally from the East Coast, Jane is married and has returned to Massachusetts after living in California for a while. She’s written a few
nonfiction books in connection with her current job, and has decided to transition to erotic romance as her next career.

Jane writes fun, upbeat stories. No dark, brooding, broken, tortured guys who need fixing. Just great, handsome, smart, sexy, “real men” whose only weakness is being unable to resist the women she pairs them with.
She especially wants her heroines to be as sexy and passionate as they desire. She likes her heroes to be their equal — sexy, devoted, and
romantic. No matter what, you can count on the fact that her couples end up in love and having great sex! OK, maybe they have the sex first!

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#BookBlitz “Year Zero (Revolution’s Children Book 1)” by David Dean Lugo

Year Zero by David Dean Lugo is the first book in a new trilogy called Revolution’s Children and you’re going to want to read this!

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Year Zero (Revolution’s Children Book 1)

Publication Date: May 24th, 2022

Genre: YA Dystopian

A thrilling new YA dystopian novel has dark parallels to a conceivable future America.

It’s been two years since the establishment of the brutal dictatorship The Incorporated Precincts of America and its governing Board and CEO, as well as the death of the old America. Sixteen-year-old Joey Cryer has two missions: to keep their six-year-old sister, Julia, safe, and to not die.

America first. America last. America always. This is the vow that the CEO leader of the IPA—The Incorporated Precincts of America—pledges to his suffering citizens. With violent protests breaking out in every city, attacks against immigrants, and the national crisis of the Capitol Event, young Joey must keep their vigilance in staying clear of the IPA’s ever-watching Sons of Liberty—its ruthless police force—to avoid becoming “disappeared” with his little sister. This means not maligning the governing body, The Corporation, with any thought, word, or action, or else suffer the consequence. One such sanction for disobeying citizens is being forced on to the required viewing television show “Manhunt,” where they fight for their lives against the Sons, upholding The Corporation’s domination over society.

Two years earlier, before the Second Revolution ended and before the election, Joey’s biggest concern was sitting at the right cafeteria table at his high school or if the girl they liked liked them back. Avoiding the school bully, Harlan Grundy, was always a plus, and so was not getting pummeled. So, it was no big surprise that Harlan became a Son, loyal to The Corporation and carrying out their dirty deeds to keep citizens in check and in fear. The only correct response to a Son? Everything is goodly.

Having lost everything in the revolution’s aftermath, Joey takes an unfathomable risk by helping the near-dead leader of the rebellion, John Doe. Having anything to do with Doe will skip you right past penalties and sanctions all the way to the death penalty, not only for you, but for anyone you love. And yet Joey’s sole mission is keep Julia safe until they can secretly escape to freedom. To do so, they finds they have an unlikely partner in a recently betrayed Harlan. Trusting their former enemy may be the only way to ensure their future—but is it worth the risk for Joey, Julia, and his community?

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Chapter One

No law respecting the established religion, prohibiting its free and compulsory practice, may be passed. All citizens free or otherwise are responsible for their speech, as is the press. The Board may sanction the people or the press should they choose to malign The Corporation or its representatives in print, thought, word, or action.

—First Amendment, Constitution Incorporated Precincts of America

A hand grabs my shoulder, and I know I’m screwed. The flickering light from the Jumbotron across the street dispels the concealing darkness. What was I thinking trying to sneak my way across town square after dark? I pull my hat lower, hoping that he won’t recognize me.

Especially if curfew has started.

Dan and Katie are starting the Manhunt preshow on the Jumbotron, which isn’t a good sign. Manhunt rarely starts before seven.

My mouth is dry, and my heart’s hammering fills my ears. It’s the fight-or-flight response kicking in big time. Except in my case, it’s the flight-and-still-get-pommeled response.

Even knowing how it will end, I still think about running.

Just for a second.

Old habits die hard.

I move my eyes to the hand, hoping it’s not covered by a white glove. Crap. It is. So, the he attached to the hand isn’t a regular cop. A cop will just shake me down and let me go. But not this guy.

He’s a Son of Liberty.

I’m surprised he hasn’t shot me yet. They usually do. I mean, it’s kinda their go-to move. I glance from his glove to his face.

I silence a scream. This guy isn’t any old Son. He’s Harlan Grundy. That name alone makes most kids cry. Always has.

Harlan’s been bullying kids since the old days, back when we still lived in a place called the USA. By the time The Corporation ran things and changed the name to The Incorporated Precincts of America, or IPA, Harlan had transformed bullying into an art form. I mean, watching him terrorize a kid is like watching Michelangelo turn a hunk of stone into a statue. Pure artistry.

Unless you’re the rock.

All the Sons are big, but Harlan’s bigger. Not like Schwarzenegger big. It’s more natural. Like a gorilla. Most let his stocky form, with its squashed nose, thick fingers, and stubby legs, fool them. But he possessed a speed unheard of, even among Olympic athletes.

And I, underneath this big ass coat, am just a scrawny sixteen-year-old. Exercise and me are not the best of friends. I mean, we wave when we pass by in the halls. Unless running from Harlan counts. Because if it does, I’m a gold medalist.

Okay, maybe a bronze because he always catches me.

“Hold it, citizen,” he says loud enough for me to hear over the Jumbotron’s droning voices. That is quite a feat since they always have it turned up to like a million.

Wait. Citizen?

He doesn’t recognize me.

He says something, but Dan speaks over him from the Jumbotron. “We’ll be back after this message.”

A second later, tolling bells replace his smug voice, sounding out the half hour. I glance at the screen, hoping it says six thirty. Instead, a robotic voice says, “The time is now seven thirty. Curfew is in effect.”

I’m doubly screwed.

After curfew, you get arrested or worse, unless you’re on official IPA business. It won’t take anyone more than one look to know I’m not. And Harlan’s fists and I have known each other since I was eight, and he was eleven. It’s only a matter of time until his dim brain dusts off the cobwebs and the first faint itch of recognition dawns on him.

If he doesn’t shoot me, which I doubt, I have two simple choices left. But I won’t get to choose. Instead, an Inquisitor will decide between sending me to a Liberty Camp or inducting me into the army.

The second is most likely. They’re drafting more people every day. Younger and younger too. I mean, except for like Ward Commanders, Inquisitors, and Auditors, the whole Corporation is getting younger. I guess they figure the young don’t have as much attachment to the way things were.

The CEO says we’re winning the war, and the extra troops are for the last push into Ottawa. But I’ve heard the rumors. Who hasn’t?

Some say Mexico, Canada’s ally, has won ground in the Southwest. Others say the early winter weather has paralyzed our troops in Ontario and Alaska. What’s happening in Europe is anyone’s guess.

So, whatever the Inquisitor decides, it’s better if Harlan shoots me.

Usually, I’m home before curfew, but I had forgotten it’s earlier now. That’s thanks to the Does—John and Jane Doe—and their rebels blowing up stuff. Last Tuesday, the day most Sons get their rations, they blew up the rationing center. Now, the rest of us are still living off our last pitiful portion.

Movies make rebellion seem exciting and heroic. I guess it is, fighting oppression or whatever. But from where I sit, trying to get by and staying off The Corporation’s radar, it’s terrifying. It doesn’t help people like me. Maybe it will someday, but I’m not holding my breath.

I burrow deeper into my father’s coat, trying to avoid eye contact. The coat must be the only reason Harlan hasn’t recognized me. There’s no point in trying to hide the bag of contraband I’m holding.

I mean, it’s right there.

Besides, it’s just dumb cans of stupid beef stew I bought at the black market. E-rations don’t hardly give anyone enough food. So, most people, leastways those who can afford it, turn to the black market. Even Block Watch Commanders like Harlan.

It’s not totally the Does fault, though. Food, at least the unpowdered kind, was scarce even before they blew up the rationing center. The troops passing through on their way north to the wall, took most of what we had. They didn’t bother leaving much for us citizens.

I’m not sweating the stew, though. I expect he’ll “impound” it. I’m more worried that what’s stuffed into my belt will spill out. If it does, he’ll definitely shoot me.

He’s eyeing the bag though. His mouth might even be watering. We both stand there, playing our weird freeze tag while waiting for the stupid bell to stop tolling.

As soon as it does, Harlan says, “You’re behind curfew, citizen. Slice me the stew, and I won’t donate a one.”

Ugh. Slanguage.

It takes me a moment to translate his words to regular English. If I give him the stew, he won’t give me a class one penalty. I can’t speak because he’ll recognize my voice, so I nod. Kneeling, I set the bag down and take off.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

If you do, they might see your face, connect it to a list of subversives, rebels, or whatever list you didn’t know you were on.

I’m two blocks away before a grin spreads across my face. Dumbass Harlan was so preoccupied by the bag that he didn’t notice the cans crammed in my pockets.

I decide to go home through the woods. It’s longer and a thousand percent spookier, but it has more cover. Plus, The Corporation hasn’t put cameras in the forest. At least not yet anyway. That might change if they suspect the squirrels of treason.

Plus, Harlan lives two houses away from me. If he’s heading home, it’s worth the extra twenty-minute walk to avoid him.

I trudge along. I can’t see a thing in the inky blackness. Everything is a muddied silhouette, and I don’t want to trip on something and break my neck. I used to find the sounds of leaves crunching under my feet satisfying. But I don’t anymore.

They just tell the Sons or the rebel squirrels where you are.

My breath comes quick now. Heart racing. It’s my anxiety getting the better of me. I don’t bother fighting it because I’m too busy cursing myself. If Harlan is out on patrol, he’s nowhere near his house. Then again, it might be dumb luck that we ran into each other.

Either way, I don’t really care right now because I’m sure Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers has spotted my dumbass alone in the woods. I stop for a second, but the sound of crunching leaves doesn’t.

A twig snaps.

I turn.

A half-naked figure lunges from the darkness, falling to the ground.

I almost scream.

A man lies motionless. I get a little closer and notice he’s covered in blood. Against my better judgment, I turn him over. A few holes leak his blood.

Someone shot him.

The only people with guns these days are Sons or rebels. Which means they’re probably out searching for him. That thought alone makes me nope my sorry ass out of the woods as fast as I can.

I emerge, unharassed by either rebel squirrels or a fictional slasher, near the non-Harlan end of my block. My breath comes in short, panicked gasps. I’m more than a little embarrassed by how fast I’m moving down the block.

I turn the corner. My house blazes bright in the frigid night. It’s almost enough to chase away the harsh twilight glow from the screens on the telephone poles.

Julia, my little sister hates being alone, but she isn’t right now. Unless Winnie’s wandered off again. She has turned on every light, which means he probably did. The Sons don’t pay him much mind, so he’ll be okay. Hopefully, she hasn’t used up our electricity ration for the month.

I linger in the driveway, eyes darting. I need to make sure I wasn’t followed.

An angry orange flower of fire blooms over the nearby hills. Must be the rebels blowing something up or being blown up themselves. Either way, a bunch of people are dead. A tenth of a second later, a dull roar reaches my ears, and everything shakes.

Every porch light in the neighborhood blinks on, and people spill out from their houses, scurrying around like angry ants. A few have wide eyes, their O-shaped mouths gulping the chilly night air. Which reminds me of the fish that Dad and I used to catch. Others just sigh, wringing their hands. A few look furious.

I’ve lived here for like forever and recognize everyone.

That is everyone except the young man with the neat dark hair walking along the walkway in front of the house next door. His hands are in his pockets, posture crisp but relaxed.

I do a double take because I didn’t expect to see anyone coming from there. It and the house across the street have stood vacant since the Perrys and the Youngs disappeared a year ago. He might be a zig though.

Zig is short for zigzag. They’re the people who refuse to go along with The Corporation but won’t join the resistance either. So, they zigzag between the two opposing forces that shape the IPA. They usually come in small groups, no more than four. There’s not a lot of them. At least as far as anyone can tell. Anyway, neither side likes them much, and both will see them wiped out just as soon. Which is why, if he is a zig, he certainly wouldn’t be so careless and let everyone know where he lives.

He might be a rebel. They sometimes hunker down in vacant buildings. That thought both excites and frightens me.

As he draws closer, there’s no mistaking this man for a zig or a rebel. He wears a suit, but the distant flames give everything a crimson tone, so I can’t tell what color it is. Something on his jacket flickers. He reaches the end of the walkway, and I notice that the light glints off a bunch of Corporation commendation pins on his lapel.

At first, he acknowledges no one as he crosses his arms and stares straight ahead. He appears calm, but his breath comes in peculiar fits like he’s out of breath but doesn’t want anyone to know. Maybe he’s asthmatic? I don’t know. His eyes don’t watch the distant flames like everyone else; they’re watching the streetlights.

Something glistens on his forehead like sweat, but the night is cold, so that’s impossible. He appears to sense me gawking and gives me a nod.

By reflex, I wave.

Another fireball blossoms, this one almost bright enough to read by. The windows rattle from the blast. The neighborhood lights blink a few times before going out. Someone screams as we’re plunged into a weird twilight of flickering screens since those never stop.

I swear Pinman smirks.

A second later, old Doc Salazar asks, “Do you think it’s the Canadians?”

That isn’t as silly as it sounds, since if you’re lucky enough to own a car, it’s like three hours to the border.

“Nah. I bet it’s the Does and the rebels,” Mr. Taylor replies.

Everyone stares at him for a moment. Calling the Does rebels is against the law.

“You mean terrorists,” a throaty unfamiliar voice—my new neighbor—says.

“Yes, y-yes,” Mr. Taylor stammers. He probably noticed every commendation on Pinman’s jacket. He chuckles nervously, running a hand across the back of his neck.

I don’t want to call attention to myself, but Taylor was my dad’s fishing buddy. I can’t count the number of times that the Taylors shared a meal with us after a good day on the lake.

A familiar voice breaks the uncomfortable silence. “Mr. Taylor is scaredly is all. He’s not trying to be outside the box.”

I look around, trying to find who spoke. For some reason, everyone’s staring at me like I punched a nun or something.

Well, everyone except Taylor. He’s got a grateful smile pasted on his stupid round face. The looks confirm my growing suspicion. The voice was familiar because it’s mine.

Pinman doesn’t reply, just cocks his head.

“Well, um, good night, sir,” Mr. Taylor croaks as he scurries back inside his house.

A second later, the loudspeakers atop every telephone pole on the block crackle to life. On the screens, a severe looking yet appealing middle-aged woman appears with her hair wrapped tight around her head. Everything can go dark but not PR Polly, the voice of The Corporation.

There’s a whine of feedback, and Polly stares with a Mona Lisa smile on her lips, waiting for it to pass. It fades to a crackling static and clears.

Her familiar, faintly British voice sounds out. “Return to your homes. All is goodly. We have the situation under control.” As always, she adds the Corporate slogan. “America first. America last. America always.”

Another squeal of feedback sounds out. Dan and Katie return to the screens, laughing about the ratings bonanza it’ll be when the real Does are caught and put on Manhunt. But since Manhunt is required viewing, ratings are a bonanza every day anyway. I’m also not sure how we’d know if they’re the real Does. I mean, every time they think they’ve got them, it turns out they’re regular rebels.

No one even knows what the Does look like.

A weird sensation tingles my leg. It’s my phone vibrating in my pocket. I put aside my stray thoughts for now as I fish it out.

“What did you think of this Realnews brief” flashes on the screen. Underneath, like always, are two emoji:

a smiley one,

and a frowning one.

I tap the smiley face to show that I loved it. No one clicks the other one anymore. Well, no one without a death wish.

Soft clicking echoes around me as my neighbors do the same. By the time I’m done, they’re scurrying back into their homes. I guess they’ve all realized it’s after curfew, so we are all technically criminals right now.

Pinman still stands there with his arms crossed, staring at me. I try not to meet his gaze and mumble something about how my little sister is waiting for dinner inside.

In the distance, sirens blare. A lot of them. All isn’t goodly. I sense the stranger watching me as I walk into my house.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

authorpic

Author David Dean Lugo often gets ideas for his stories by wondering what if? In his new young adult dystopian novel, Year Zero, he probed this when writing about a future fascist America run by a governing body called The Corporation and its CEO. Lugo believes that today’s trend of people judging one another too harshly—whether based on their political party, gender identity, or something else—is causing people to drift too far away from one another. His story explores potential extreme ramifications of this.

Lugo believes a great book is one that has believable characters that readers can identify with and relate to. He hopes his stories evoke emotion and thinking from his readers long after the book is closed.

When he isn’t writing thought-provoking YA novels, Lugo enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, playing video/board games, and hanging out with his amazing family. He lives in southwest New Hampshire with his wife Meredith, son Jacob, and their rascally Labrador/Collie mix named Astrid. Year Zero is the first volume in his The Revolution’s Children trilogy.

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#BookBlitz “Kairn (Mates of the Alliance Book 1)” by Fionne Foxxe Farraday

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Mates of the Alliance Book 1

Sci-fi / Romance / Erotica

Date Published: May 11, 2022

Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.

 

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
 

 Fighting to save a primitive planet targeted by the Alliance’s enemies, Kairn never expected to find the female who haunted his dreams made flesh and blood.

Daria’s life revolved around her work. She had given up on finding romance…let alone love. Earth was now under attack by an evil alien empire—under siege. Daria is trying to do her job as best she can in an upside-down world. Then the cavalry arrives…in the form of giant, gorgeous alien warriors.

These aliens are working toward restoring Earth to the pristine beauty she used to be. In their charismatic leader, Daria finds the most amazing partner. Laughter and love with her devoted alien, what’s an Earth girl going to do but grab on with both hands and hold on tight to enjoy the ride?

After all…what could possibly go wrong?

~~~~

 About the Author

Fionne Foxxe Farraday the award-winning author of the 2022 INTERNATIONAL IMPACT BOOK AWARD for “Best Romance” novel. She also is a medical
professional working in the area of pulmonary and critical care medicine.

After years of working with patients, Farraday faced medical issues in March 2020 that put her on enforced medical leave without call responsibilities.

An avid reader, she soon exhausted her list of books and found herself bored with TV, leading her to begin outlining the story that would become KAIRN: Mates of the Alliance. Returning to ICU work during the dark days of the first Covid-19 wave, Fionne continued writing as a way to cope with the intense demands and the losses of countless patients. The writing took on a life of its own as Farraday fashioned the fictional happy endings which were in short supply in the ICU full of Covid-19 patients.

With her own background in medicine and family members who served in WWII and Vietnam, Farraday’s books are a salute to all of the medical and military personnel whose sacrifices allow us to do what we do. A mother, grandmother, and animal lover, Fionne Foxxe Farraday lives in Cookeville, TN.

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