#GuestPost Meet the Character Day: A Chat with Prince Allan from “A Most Unfortunate Prince” by Kelli A. Wilkins

This “Meet the Character Day” blog is part of a series examining my romance novels. In each “Behind the Scenes” blog, I talk about why I wrote the book, share my thoughts on the plot and/or characters, and reveal what I loved most (or least) about writing the book. The “Meet the Character Day” blogs are fun chats with the heroes and heroines from my romances. Warning: blogs may contain spoilers.

A Most Unfortunate prince

Hello romance lovers. Today we’re chatting with Prince Allan, the hero from A Most Unfortunate Prince by Kelli A. Wilkins.

Q: Greetings, Prince Allan. A Most Unfortunate Prince is the last book in Kelli’s Royal Desires series of historical/fantasy novels. Can you tell us about the trilogy?

A: Absolutely. I’ll tell you anything you want. I can even give away secret spoilers, if you like. As readers may already know, A Most Unfortunate Prince is the final story in a trilogy that began with A Most Unusual Princess and continued with A Most Intriguing Temptation. Although the books are related, each stands alone as an individual read. Kelli calls the trio the Royal Desires series, which I think sums up the books perfectly. We are, after all, royals, with lots of desires! (Laughs)

A Most Unusual Princess introduced readers to my headstrong sister, A Most Unsual PrincessPrincess Elara, and her ever-patient guard, Dalton. Their story continued in A Most Intriguing Temptation, and that’s where readers were given the pleasure of meeting me for the first time. In the book, Dalton and I attended a business meeting with Emperor Salizar and Elara followed us. She got us all into a lot of trouble. And believe it or not, Dalton and my father blamed me for it.

A Most Unfortunate Prince begins right after A Most Intriguing Temptation A Most Intriguing Temptationends. This book is (unfortunately, ha-ha get it?) about my banishment and fall from grace. Yes, my own father banished me. He said I was too spoiled and… a lot of other unpleasant things. So he kicked me out and sent me to the worst place in the kingdom. This novel follows my adventures and my journey as I find true love. Elara and Dalton also appear in the book as minor characters, but they play a very important part in the ending. (Kelli says I can’t give it away.)

Q: Tell us about yourself. What got you in the crosshairs for your author?

A: Well, the way I hear it is… When Kelli was writing my scenes in A Most Intriguing Temptation she was so impressed with my good looks, charm, and witty and wiseass personality she decided I needed to have a book of my own. She said I was one of those characters who try to take over a story. I thought having my own book would be a great idea. Of course, I didn’t realize I’d have to suffer. The nerve! (Eyeroll)

As the title suggests, the book is all about my trials and tribulations. Right on page one, I’m banished, kicked out of my posh and pampered life. I’m forced to live as a commoner. Well, you can imagine that didn’t go over very well. I never really thought my father was serious. I figured he would change his mind in a day or a week… Nope.

 

Before I was banished, I was very spoiled and said and did whatever I wanted. I took all my luxuries for granted and could snap my fingers and have beautiful women crawling all over me. All that changed when I was living on my own. It sounds strange, but now I realize being banished was the best thing that ever happened to me. Why? Because I met Claudette.

Our first meeting didn’t go over very well, but in time, I earned her respect and we fell in love.

Q: Tell us more about your first meeting. What drew you to Claudette?

A: Claudette is a seamstress, and she’s a very clever young woman who has been forced to make her own way in the world. She’s not one to put up with nonsense from people, is strong-willed, and opinionated. And guess what? She hates rich people—and that certainly includes the royal family more than anything. Sounds like a great match, right?

We met in an odd way. I went into a shop to get a button on my breeches replaced. Somehow, my breeches “accidentally” fell down and I exposed myself to her. I thought it was a funny joke—for about two seconds. Then Claudette hauled off and smacked my privates. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor in pain, and she was yelling at me. Nice meeting, huh?

Yes, what I did was crude and inexcusable, but I had been so used to doing and saying whatever I wanted that I couldn’t help myself. Claudette apologized (she was worried I would tell her boss what she had done) and we made up. I thought she was cute and wanted to get to know her better. Naturally she was hesitant about seeing me, but I persisted.

When I learned she despised rich people (and the royals) I knew I had to keep my identity a secret, or risk losing her forever. Over the course of the book I learned all about Claudette’s troubled past and her loss. I admired her strength and determination to make a good life for herself, despite all the odds. It inspired me to make the most of my banishment and to redeem myself in my father’s eyes.

Q: A little naughty fun, where was the wildest place you seduced your partner? Or where she seduced you?

A: In this book, Claudette and I get frisky in several places. She isn’t shy when it comes to making love, and she was willing to share her affection with me quite often. The wildest place was at the shop where she worked. One night we couldn’t control ourselves and made love (actually, we screwed like mad) on the counter. This book is definitely a blend of adventure and steamy love scenes.

Q: Do you sometimes want to strangle your author because of the situations she puts you in?

 A: Absolutely! Kelli started torturing me on page one. I heard Dalton thought she put him through difficult situations in his book—bah! He doesn’t know what it’s like to be beaten, starved, and humiliated like I was. Kelli has admitted putting me through all that was hard on her, and writing one part of the book broke her heart. And it broke my heart, too. (I’m not allowed to give away that spoiler.)

 Q: What was one of the most embarrassing things Kelli did to you in A Most Unfortunate Prince?

A: Let’s see, Kelli did about five hundred embarrassing things to me in the book. Here’s a sample: I was banished and humiliated in front of my royal family; I was sent away to practically starve to death in the worst part of the kingdom; I had to get a job working at the docks for a vicious beast of a boss; a sweet shop girl smacked my genitals; I was stripped and flogged like an animal… Need I go on?

Kelli really made me suffer. In A Most Intriguing Temptation I had a good time and enjoyed myself. And all that changed in A Most Unfortunate Prince. I guess you can say I “paid my dues” and had a fall from grace.

Of course I realize Kelli did all those awful things to me so I’d change and redeem myself. Now I’m a better person, a different person. And I have Claudette by my side. I’d willingly go through it all again, knowing her love would be my reward. (Pauses) Does that sound too mushy? Claudette changed my life and saved me from myself—and I thank Kelli for that.

Q: When Prince Dalton was a guest on this blog, he hinted there was a different side to you. Can you explain?

A: Oh. Well… Dalton warned me you might ask about that. When Kelli was writing my story, I surprised her with a secret. You see, just because she’s the author, she thinks she knows everything about her characters. I showed her she was wrong.

Sometimes characters “take over” and steer the story in a different direction. That’s what I did. Here’s a secret spoiler from the book: Although my primary romance was with Claudette, I fell in love twice. Before I met Claudette, I had a relationship with my male roommate, Alex. Yup. (Nods) Alex plays a crucial part in the story, and he saved my life. Kelli won’t let me share more details (you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens), but I can say Kelli fell in love with Alex as much as I did.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: Although A Most Unusual Princess, A Most Intriguing Temptation, and A Most Unfortunate Prince make up the Royal Desires series, each of our stories stand alone as individual reads. You can start with book 2 and then go back to book 1 to see how everything started, or start with book 3 and go in reverse order. However you read them, I encourage romance lovers to catch up on all of our adventures.

Of course, I’m partial to my own book. I think it’s the best. Kelli has said: “Allan’s fall from grace and the journey of self-discovery he undergoes are some of the reasons why I love this book. It has something for everyone: hot love scenes, tender moments, mystery, adventure, and suspense.”

You can’t get much better than that. I’m content with the way the trilogy ends. Kelli says I can tell you “we all live happily-ever-after.”

Thank you for having me on this blog. This was fun. I invite readers to catch up on all of Kelli’s romances and visit her on social media (whatever that is). You can also write me fan letters, if you like. (Winks)

 Thank you, Prince Allan, for joining us today. Readers can learn more about all of Kelli’s books on her site: www.KelliWilkins.com

 

Missed a blog? Catch up on Kelli’s blog series here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/blog

Here’s the book summary:

A Most Unfortunate Prince

This time, it’s all about Allan… and he never expected to fall in love!

Banished by the Royal Family, pampered Prince Allan is forced to abandon his life of luxury. The former Royal Shipmaster General is sent to the worst part of the kingdom and manages to find work at the docks. Lost in a commoner’s world, Allan is miserable—until he has an unusual encounter with a saucy shop girl named Claudette.

Allan must earn the respect of the woman he loves while keeping his true identity a secret. In an effort to redeem himself in his father’s eyes, he exposes a dangerous smuggling operation involving the Royal Fleet. But his loyalty to duty comes with a deadly price.

Can he keep Claudette and his royal title? Or will he lose her forever when she discovers his secret?

***

The Royal Desires Series is available on Amazon & other platforms. Catch this hot historical/fantasy trilogy from the start:

A Most Unsual Princess

Book 1: A Most Unusual Princess:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CBX43D8

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/me00L9

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-unusual-princess

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Book 2: A Most Intriguing Temptation:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8P8604

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/47kkvj

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-intriguing-temptation

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Book 3: A Most Unfortunate Prince:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Most-Unfortunate-Prince-Historical-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01DMBYJ6E

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/3yPPM6

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-unfortunate-prince

 ~~~

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli A Wilkins

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20 romance novels, 7 non-fiction books, and 3 horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror stories.

In January 2021, Kelli released Journaling Every Week: 52 Topics to Get You Writing. This fun and innovative guide to journaling is filled with hundreds of thought-provoking prompts designed to get you writing about your feelings and emotions.

 

Her horror short, “A Witch’s Wishes” was published in the Nothing Ever Happens in Fox Hollow anthology in December 2020. In October 2020, Kelli had horror stories published in two anthologies. “The Uninvited” was published in Halloween Horror Vol. 2. This tale about a children’s Halloween party gone horribly wrong is one of her favorites. Her unsettling short story, “What the Peeper Saw” appeared in Madame Gray’s Creep Show anthology.

 

Earlier in 2020 Kelli published Love, Lies & Redemption, a western romance set in 1877 Nebraska. This novel blends a sensual love story with mystery and danger.

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.

Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com for a full title list and to find all her social media links.

#GuestPost The Ten Best Political Thriller Films Ever by Jon Land, author of “Murder On The Metro”

Murder On The Metro BannerMarch 1-31, 2021 Tour

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From its very inception, Margaret Truman’s Capital Crimes series has excelled at stitching tales of murder and mystery with Washington, D.C. as a backdrop. Look no further than the title of each of the now 31 entries to find a particular setting in the Capital where a murder sets off a high stakes game or gambit with the pursuit of political power invariably serving as the motive. So to commemorate the publication of MURDER ON THE METRO, my first effort in the series, I thought it would be especially appropriate to conjure up a list of the greatest political thriller films ever, all based on equally terrific books of the same title.

SEVEN DAYS IN MAY: John Frankenheimer’s brilliant adaptation of the Fletcher Knebble bestseller remains the quintessential benchmark of the genre. The mere notion of a military overthrow of the United States government seemed like a true paranoid fantasy until the last few years stretched the limits of what is possible. The plot’s gradual unraveling through the eyes of Colonel “Jigs” Casey, magnificently played by Kirk Douglas, is a structural schematic of brilliant proportions. And Burt Lancaster’s irrepressible and hubris-riddled General James Mattoon Scott leads a stellar cast, highlighted by Fredrick March’s embattled president Jordan Lyman, on a high-stakes romp through corridors of power that never felt so threatened or claustrophobic.

THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR: Dominated and defined by Robert Redford’s portrayal of a CIA cypher whose job it is to read books in search of hidden meanings and nefarious plots that may stray too close to the truth, the thriller by James Grady’s (titled Six Days instead of Three) became the seminal tale to emerge from the post-Watergate era of conspiracy-laden tomes. Evoking classic Hitchcock films featuring an innocent man on the run, director Sydney Pollock pits Redford’s Condor against the whole of the US government when his entire station is wiped out because of a report he wrote. The mystery lies in what he inadvertently uncovered and the fun in watching him do battle with a sinister yet saintly assassin wondrously played by Max Von Sydow. The film’s genius is cemented into legendary status by their final scene, especially the sequence that begins with Von Sydow’s deceptively deadly Joubert saying, “It will happen this way. . .”

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN: The ultimate political thriller because it was all true. William Goldman’s Oscar-winning screenplay elegantly stitches Woodward and Bernstein’s reportage into a nail-biting narrative you have to pinch yourself to remember is real. There is so much to like here, but nothing exceeds the intrepid reporters’ dogged efforts that roil the halls of power en route to toppling an entire administration. Again, current events have lent this thriller fresh resonance and credibility, reminding us that the press remains the greatest safeguard against would-be tyrants.

FAIL SAFE: Sydney Lumet’s relentlessly suspenseful tale of an accidental nuclear attack launched against the former Soviet Union is included here because it’s dominated by exchanges between the American president, played by Henry Fonda, and the Soviet premier, stoically interpreted by Larry Hagman. As the nightmarish scenario ticks down to a potential doomsday, the principals are faced with an impossible choice. This while a stellar klatch of characters, led by Walter Matthau and Dan O’Herlihy (in his finest role), do battle with themselves and each other. The final moments of the film are among the most powerful ever, right up until the shattering fadeout when O’Herlihy’s doomed General Black realizes he is “the matador,” the villain of his own recurrent, and ultimately prescient, nightmare.

THE CANDIDATE: While running for the senate, Robert Redford’s title character is determined not to let anything get in the way of his ideals. Under the tutelage of a political consultant, wondrously played by the underrated Peter Boyle, though, Redford’s Bill McKay finds himself in a rigged game where the goal posts keep getting moved and the means to winning become an end in themselves. Never has a film’s message been better summed up than in a final line with Redford’s McKay posing a question to Boyle’s Marvin Lucas after they win: “What do we do now?,” to which Lucas has no answer.

BEING THERE: Many consider Peter Sellers’ portrayal of a simpleton who accidentally becomes a pawn of power brokers to be the actor’s finest performance in this farcical parody.  Hal Ashby’s touchtone rendering of Jerzy Kosinski’s classic novel has gained new and scary relevance in an era where truth has become a relative term and facts are dumped into a hamper with yesterday’s laundry. The film is built around a kind of figurative battle between perception and reality with the former winning out hands down. Sound (regrettably) familiar?

ADVISE AND CONSENT: Otto Preminger’s faithful adaptation of the pitch-perfect book by Alan Drury gives a bird’s eye, behind-the-scenes view of all the mechanizations involved in confirmation hearings for a controversial selection for secretary of state. The 1962 film was way ahead of its time in stitching together a trail dominated by duplicitous politicos, backroom manipulations, and the cloudy nature of the truth itself. Preminger’s stunning take on the dark side of politics makes the process a character, and a villain, in itself. The film’s genius lies in the fact that the system portrayed is pretty much the same, and even more broken, 60 years later.

THE PARALLAX VIEW: This is director Alan J. Pakula’s second appearance on this list, a kind of nightmarish expansion of his All the President’s Men. Warren Beatty plays a political reporter whose quest to expose the conspiracy behind the assassination of a presidential candidate evokes memories of Dallas on November 23, 1963 as well as Watergate.  Lacking the support enjoyed by his fictional counterparts, Beatty’s character bites off more than he can chew and ends up getting swallowed himself, along with the entire country, as a result.

THE LAST HURRAH and ALL THE KING’S MEN: A twofer of loosely-disguised biopics on Mayor Michael Curly and Huey “the Kingfish” Long respectively, both classics dwell on the manipulations and mechanizations behind political machines. These period pieces spell doom for the old-fashioned way of doing business as Spencer Tracy’s Frank Skeffington and Broderick Crawford’s Willy Stark find that when you sell your soul, sooner or later the devil comes calling to collect. Again, though, what emerges beyond all else is that in politics the more things change, the more they remain the same.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: We started with one John Frankenheimer adaptation so let’s end with another, in this case the great Richard Condon’s Cold War thriller that lives on stronger than ever in pop culture. What would indeed happen if a young man marked for greatness was actually a brainwashed plant totally beholden to a foreign power? Thankfully, Frank Sinatra’s tortured Major Ben Marco is there to unravel the deceit and save the US from a crazed plot that seemed utterly outlandish . . . until now.

~~~

Synopsis:

Murder On The Metro by Jon Land

Israel: A drone-based terrorist attack kills dozens on a sun-splashed beach in Caesarea.

Washington: America awakens to the shattering news that Vice President Stephanie Davenport has died of an apparent heart attack.

That same morning, a chance encounter on the Washington Metro results in international private investigator Robert Brixton thwarting an attempted terrorist bombing. Brixton has no reason to suspect that the three incidents have anything in common, until he’s contacted by Kendra Rendine, the Secret Service agent who headed up the vice president’s security detail. Rendine is convinced the vice president was murdered and needs Brixton’s investigative expertise to find out why.

In Israel, meanwhile, legendary anti-terrorist fighter Lia Ganz launches her own crusade against the perpetrators of that attack which nearly claimed the lives of her and granddaughter. Ganz’s trail will ultimately take her to Washington where she joins forces with Brixton to uncover an impossible link between the deadly attack on Caesarea and the attempted Metro bombing, as well as the death of the vice president.

The connection lies in the highest corridors of power in Washington where a deadly plot with unimaginable consequences has been hatched. With the clock ticking toward doomsday, Brixton and Ganz race against time to save millions of American lives who will otherwise become collateral damage to a conspiracy destined to change the United States forever.

Praise :

“Jon Land is one of the best thriller writers in the business, and the Capital Crimes series is in superb and skilled hands with him. Nobody does pacing better than Land, and MURDER ON THE METRO starts with a bang and keeps on going at breakneck speed. If you haven’t read this excellent series, start with Land’s MURDER ON THE METRO.” —Lisa Scottoline, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: February 16th 2021
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1250238870 (ISBN13: 9781250238870)
Series: A Capital Crimes Novel, #31
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Washington, DC; the next morning

Not again . . .

That was Robert Brixton’s first thought when his gaze locked on the woman seated across from him in the Washington Metro car. He was riding into the city amid the clutter of morning commuters from the apartment in Arlington, Virginia where he now lived alone, his girlfriend Flo Combes having returned to New York.

Former girlfriend, Brixton corrected in his mind. And Flo’s return to New York, where she’d opened her first clothing boutique, looked very much like it was for good this time.

Which brought his attention back to the woman wearing a hijab and bearing a strong resemblance to another Muslim woman who’d been haunting his sleep for five years now, since she’d detonated a suicide bomb inside a crowded DC restaurant, killing Brixton’s daughter Janet and eleven other victims that day. He’d seen it coming, felt it anyway, as if someone had dragged the head of a pin up his spine. He hadn’t been a cop for years at that point, having taken his skills into the private sector, but his instincts remained unchanged, always serving him well and almost always being proven right.

But today he wanted to be wrong, wanted badly to be wrong. Because if his instincts were correct, tragedy was about to repeat itself with him bearing witness yet again, relocated from a bustling café to a crowded Metro car.

The woman wearing the hijab turned enough to meet his gaze, Brixton unable to jerk his eyes away in time and forcing the kind of smile strangers cast each other. The woman didn’t return it, just turned her focus back forward, her expression empty as if bled of emotion. In Brixton’s experience, she resembled a criminal who found strange solace in the notion of being caught after tiring of the chase. That was the suspicious side of his nature. If not for a long career covering various aspects of law enforcement, including a private investigator with strong international ties, Brixton would likely have seen her as the other passengers in the Metro car did: A quiet woman with big soft eyes just hoping to blend in with the scenery and not attract any attention to herself.

Without reading material of any kind, a cell phone in her grasp, or ear buds dangling. Brixton gazed about; as far as he could tell, she was the only passenger in sight, besides him, not otherwise occupied to pass the time. So in striving not to stand out, the young woman had achieved the opposite.

He studied her closer, determining that the woman didn’t look tired, so much as content. And, beneath her blank features, Brixton sensed something taut and resigned, a spring slowly uncoiling. Something, though, had changed in her expression since the moment their eyes had met. She was fidgeting in her seat now, seeking comfort that clearly eluded her.

Just as another suicide bomber had five years ago

If he didn’t know better, he would’ve fully believed he was back in that DC restaurant again, granted a second chance to save his daughter after he’d failed so horribly the first time.

***

Five years ago

What world are you in? Janet had asked a clearly distracted Brixton, then consumed by the nagging feeling dragged up his spine.

Let’s go.

Daddy, I haven’t finished!

Janet always called him “Daddy.” Much had been lost to memory from that day, forcibly put aside, but not that or the moments that followed. It had been the last time she’d ever called him that and Brixton had fought to preserve the recording that existed only in his mind resolvedly ever since. Whenever it faded, he fought to get it back, treating Janet’s final address of him like a voicemail machine message from a lost loved one forever saved on his phone.

Come on.

Is something wrong?

We’re leaving.

Brixton had headed to the door, believing his daughter was right behind him. He realized she wasn’t only when he was through it, turning back toward the table to see Janet facing the Muslim woman wearing the hijab who was chanting in Arabic.

Janet!

He’d started to storm back inside to get her when the explosion shattered the placid stillness of the day, an ear-splitting blast that hit him like a Category Five wind gust to the chest and sent him sprawling to the sidewalk. His head ping-ponged off the concrete, threatening his grip on consciousness. Parts of a splintered table came flying in his direction and he threw his arms over his face to shield it from wooden shards and other debris that caked the air, cataloguing them as they soared over him in absurd counterpoint. Plates, glasses, skin, limbs, eyeglasses, knives, forks, beer mugs, chair legs and arms, calamari, boneless ribs, pizza slices, a toy gorilla that had been held by a child a table two removed from where he’d been sitting with Janet, and empty carafes of wine with their contents seeming to trail behind them like vapor trails.

The surreal nature of that moment made Brixton think he might be sleeping, all this no more than the product of an airy dream to be lost to memory by the time woke. He remembered lying on the sidewalk, willing himself to wake up, to rouse from this nightmare-fueled stupor. The worst moment of his life followed the realization that he wasn’t asleep and an imponderable wave of grief washed over him, stealing his next breath and making him wonder if he even wanted to bother trying for another.

Brixton had stumbled to his feet before what moments earlier had been a bustling café filled with happy people. Now, bodies were everywhere, some piled on top of others, blood covering everything and everyone. He touched the side of his face and pulled bloody fingers away from the wound. He looked back into the café in search of his daughter but saw only a tangle of limbs and clothing where they’d been sitting.

“Oh, my God,” he whispered, his senses sharpening. “Janet!”

Washington’s Twenty-third Street had been crammed with pedestrians at the time of the blast, joined now by people pouring out of office buildings and other restaurants nearby, within eye or earshot of the dual blasts. Brixton’s attempts to get closer to the carnage, holding out hope Janet might still be alive, were thwarted at every turn by throngs fleeing in panic in an endless wave.

“My daughter! My daughter!” he kept crying out, as if that might make the crowd yield and the chaos recede.

***

It wasn’t until Brixton reached the hospital that he learned Janet hadn’t made it out, had been declared one of the missing. Having served as an agent for a private security agency out-sourced to the State Department at the time, he knew all too well that missing meant dead. He had another daughter, Janet’s older sister, who’d given him a beautiful grandson he loved dearly, but that was hardly enough to make up for the loss of Janet. And the guilt over not having dragged her out with him when she’d resisted leaving had haunted him to this very moment, when instinct told him many on this crowded subway car might well be about to join her.

Thanks to another woman wearing a hijab, but it wasn’t just that. Brixton had crossed paths with an untold number of Arab women in the five years since Janet’s death, and not one before today had ever elicited in him the feeling he had now. She might’ve been a twin of the bomber who’d taken his daughter from him, about whom Brixton could recall only one thing:

Her eyes.

This woman had the very same shifting look, trying so hard to appear casual that it seemed she was wearing a costume, sticking out to him as much as a kid on Halloween. Brixton spun his gaze back in her direction, prepared to measure off the distance between them and how he might cover it before she could trigger her explosives.

But the young woman was gone.

Brixton looked down the center aisle cluttered with commuters clutching poles or dangling hand-hold straps. He spotted the young woman in the hijab an instant before she cocked her gaze briefly back in his direction, a spark of clear recognition flashing when their eyes met this time.

She knows I made her, Brixton thought, heavy with fear as he climbed to his feet.

He started after her, heart hammering in his chest, the sensation he was feeling in that dreadful moment all too familiar. He couldn’t help but catalogue the people he passed in the woman’s wake, many of whom were either his late daughter’s age or younger. Smiling, gabbing away on their phones, reading a book, or lost between their earbuds without any knowledge of how horribly their lives might very well be about to change. If he needed any further motivation to keep moving and stop the potential suicide bomber though any means necessary, that was it. Doubt vanished, Brixton trusting his instincts in a way he hadn’t that tragic day five years ago when he was still a de facto agent for the US government.

Janet . . .

In Brixton’s mind, this was no longer a Metro car, but the same restaurant where a suicide bomber had taken a dozen lives and wounded dozens more. And he found himself faced with the chance to do today what he hadn’t done five years ago.

Stop!

Had Brixton barked that command out loud, or merely formed the thought in his head. Other passengers were staring at him now, his surge up the aisle disturbing the meager comfort of their morning routine.

Ahead of him, the woman wearing the hijab had picked up her pace, Brixton spotting her dip a hand beneath a jacket that seemed much too heavy for the unseasonably mild Washington, DC spring. His experience with the State Department working for the shadowy SITQUAL group, along with that as a cop, told him she was likely reaching for the pull cord that would detonate the suicide vest concealed under bulky sweatshirt and jacket.

If you could relive the day of your daughter’s death, what would you do?

I’d shoot the bitch before she had the chance to yank that cord, Brixton thought, drawing his Sig Sauer P-226 nine-millimeter pistol. It had survived his tenure with SITQUAL as his weapon of choice, well balanced and deadly accurate.

He could feel the crowd around him recoiling, pulling back, when they saw the pistol steadied in his hand. Several gasped. A woman cried out. A kid dropped his cell phone into Brixton’s path and he accidentally kicked it aside.

“Stop!”

Shouted out loud for sure this time, the dim echo bouncing off the Metro car’s walls as it wound in thunderous fashion through the tube. The young woman in the hijab was almost to the rear door separating this car from the next. Brixton was close enough to hear the whoooooshhh as she engaged the door, breaking the rule that prohibited passengers from such car-hopping.

“Stop!”

She turned her gaze back toward him as he raised his pistol, ready to take the shot he hadn’t taken five years ago. Passengers cried out and shrank from his path. The door hissed closed, the young woman regarding him vacantly through the safety glass as she stretched hand out blindly to activate the door accessing the next car back.

And that’s when she stumbled. Brixton was well aware of the problems encountered by this new 7000 series of Metro railcars after federal safety officials raised repeated concerns about a potential safety risk involving the barriers between cars that were designed to prevent blind and visually impaired people from inadvertently walking off the platform and falling through the gap. The issue initially was raised by disability rights advocates, who argued the rubber barriers were spaced too far apart, leaving enough room for a small person to slip through.

The young woman wearing the hijab was small. And she started to slip through.

Brixton watched her drop from sight an instant before an all-too familiar flash created a star burst before him. He felt light, floating as if there was nothing beneath his feet, because for a moment there wasn’t. The piercing blast that buckled the Metro car door blew him backward, the percussion lifting him up and then dropping him back down, still in motion sliding across the floor amid a demolition derby of commuters crashing into each other, as the train barreled along. Separated now from its rear-most cars, what remained of the train whipsawed through the tube with enough force to lift this car from the rails and send it alternately slamming up against one side and then the other.

Brixton maintained the presence of mind to realize his back and shoulders had come to rest awkwardly against a seat, even as the squeal of the brakes engaging grew into a deafening wail and his eyes locked on the car door that to him looked as if someone had used a can opener to carve a jagged fissure along the center of its buckled seam. The car itself seemed to be swaying—left, right, and back again—but he couldn’t be sure if that was real or the product of the concussion he may have suffered from the blast wave or upon slamming up against the seat.

Unlike five years ago, Brixton had come to rest sitting up, staring straight ahead at the back door of the Metro car currently held at an awkwardly angled perch nearly sideways across the tracks. He realized that through it all he’d somehow maintained grasp of his pistol, now steadied at the twisted remnants of the Metro car door as if he expected the young woman to reappear at any moment.

Janet . . .

A wave of euphoria washed over Brixton as, this time, he thought he’d saved her, making the best of the do-over fate had somehow granted him. The Metro car floor felt soft and cushiony, leaving him with the dream-like sense he was drifting away toward the bright lights shining down from the ceiling.

And then there was only darkness.

***

Excerpt from Murder on the Metro by Jon Land. Copyright 2021 by Jon Land. Reproduced with permission from Jon Land. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Jon Land

JON LAND is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty books, including eleven in the critically acclaimed Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, the most recent of which, Strong from the Heart, won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Best Thriller and the 2020 American Book Fest Award for Best Mystery/Suspense Novel. Additionally, he has teamed up with Heather Graham for a science fiction series that began with THE RISING (winner of the 2017 International Book Award for best Sci-fi Novel) and continues with BLOOD MOON. He has also written six books in the Murder, She Wrote series of mysteries and has more recently taken over Margaret Truman’s Capital Crimes series, beginning with Murder on the Metro in February of 2021. A graduate of Brown University, he received the 2019 Rhode Island Authors Legacy Award for his lifetime of literary achievements. Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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#AudioTour “Stolen” by Marlena Frank

Author: Marlena Frank

Narrator: Caoilainn O’Horen

Length: 11 hours 32 minutes

Series: The Stolen Series, Book 1

Publisher: The Parliament House

Released: Dec. 16, 2020

Genre: Fantasy; YA


It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.

In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy.

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Marlena Frank is the author of books and novellas that span genres from young adult fantasy to horror. Her debut novel, Stolen Book 1 of the Stolen series, has hit the Amazon bestseller charts twice. She has two books coming out in 2021: Chosen, the final book in the Stolen trilogy, and The Impostor and Other Dark Tales, a collection of dark fantasy and horror short stories.

Marlena has also written several fantasy and horror short stories, which have been included in notable anthologies such as Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Not Your Average Monster Volume 2, and The Sirens Call issue #29.

Although she was born in Tennessee, Marlena has spent most of her life in Georgia. She lives with her sister and three spoiled cats. She serves as the Vice President of the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association and is an avid member of the Atlanta cosplay community.

She is also a Hufflepuff, an INFJ, a tea drinker, and a wildlife enthusiast.

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Narrator Bio

Caoilainn is a narrator hailing from Los Angeles, they work from their professional home recording studio. Having grown up in the generation inspired by the Disney renaissance, they fell in love with animation and the voices behind the characters. Having been an avid reader, Caoilainn was originally going to school for animation and game design but switched their career path when they learned about audio books and how one person could bring so many characters to life. They started their Voice Over career in early 2017 and it has been their primary focus since then.

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Author Marlena Frank’s TOP TEN LITERARY INSPIRATIONS

The problem with reading a lot of different books means that you have a bunch of literary inspirations as an author. I read a lot of different fiction, but my reading tastes skew toward fantasy and horror. I have always read a bunch of young adult fiction too. Of the six books I’ve written, Stolen is my love letter to the fantasy stories from my youth with a focus on lush worlds and vibrant characters that I’ve loved.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a big inspiration. Alice is trapped in a world that doesn’t make sense, but she must navigate it anyway to get home. Her key to survival is negotiation and playing mind games with the creatures she encounters. One of the pieces of Stolen that I love so dearly is the dialogue and banter. There are so many layers to everything going on, so there is a lot that can be gleaned on each reading.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is another book I love. Something about the quiet, rather unlikeable Mary at the start of the story having to learn and grow during the book impacted me. So many people tell her she’s mean and rude, not caring how she feels, then she learns to find her own place, find people who accept her, and reach out to her grieving father. The descriptions of the garden are incredible too. Although the leaves look dead in winter, they slowly grow back in over spring, and as they come to life, Mary also finds her own happiness.

In Stolen, Shaleigh is kidnapped and taken into the Land of the Fae, a world filled with faeries and other strange beings with an unusual portrayal of magic. The inspiration for the magic came from my love of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s a long book with footnotes galore. Although it starts slow, it builds into an inspiring portrayal and use of magic. Somehow Clarke seamlessly mixes the absurd with reality. One of my favorite parts of that book were the dark and surreal portrayal of the Fae and how their magical pacts worked in bizarre ways.

It would be wrong not to mention perhaps the biggest inspiration for Stolen, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This was a favorite book of mine growing up, and my favorite scene involves the banter between two characters. The whole story builds up to the encounter of Bilbo the hobbit and Smaug the dragon, and after seeing the destruction this dragon can do and the hoard of gold he has collected, what does Bilbo do? Distract him with riddles. It’s great! I love seeing characters have to use their wits to overcome challenges rather than their strength alone.

Stolen was really a culmination of a bunch of stories I’ve loved, of concepts I was drawn to, and of worlds that captivated me as a child. Not only is it a world I loved building, but it’s one that I went on to expand on in the following books in the trilogy: Broken and Chosen. I hope it inspires others as I was inspired by so many incredible fantasy books over the years.

 

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#GuestPost “Romance Every Weekend” by Kelli A. Wilkins

Hi everyone!

If one of your goals is to add more romance in your life, why not start this weekend? How? With Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love.

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Whether you’re just starting out dating, in a committed relationship, newlyweds, or you’ve been married for twenty years, Romance Every Weekend will show you how you can strengthen the bond between you and your loved one and deepen your relationship.

Romance shouldn’t be reserved for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or an anniversary. Why should people wait for a special occasion to show someone they love that they care? Love can (and should) be expressed every chance you get.

Romance Every Weekend features 104 fun and easy ways you can express your love to that special someone in your life. Perfect for men or women, it focuses on tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.

Everyone has his or her definition of “romance.” Some people like to send mushy cards, while others are more practical. But however you define it, romance is more than giving flowers, buying a box of chocolates, or getting frisky in the bedroom. Romance is all about making tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you appreciate him or her.

Romance Every Weekend contains 104 romantic suggestions designed to make your weekends sparkle. Why 104? There are 52 weeks in a year, and two suggestions per weekend will keep you and your partner busy. If your schedules don’t give you a lot of free time on the weekends, that’s okay. You can do these any time during the week.

If you’re looking for ways to keep your romance fresh, this is the book for you!

Romance Every Weekend makes a great gift for you – or for your sweetie! Why not order it now and try all 104 suggestions in 2021?

Get started here:

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Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08124HBMS

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/3npVVP

Read more about the book here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/romance-every-weekend

I hope you (and your partner) enjoy the suggestions. You may even be inspired to come up with a few of your own!


Best Wishes,

Kelli A Wilkins


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli A Wilkins

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20 romance novels, 6 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror stories.

In January 2021, Kelli will release Journaling Every Week: 52 Topics to Get You Writing.This fun and innovative guide to journaling is filled with hundreds of thought-provoking prompts designed to get you writing about your feelings and emotions.

In October 2020, Kelli’s horror story “The Uninvited” was published in the Halloween Horror Vol. 2 anthology. This tale about a children’s Halloween party gone horribly wrong is one of her favorites.

Her unsettling short story, “What the Peeper Saw” appeared in Madame Gray’s Creep Show anthology in October 2020.

Earlier in 2020 Kelli published Love, Lies & Redemption, a western romance set in 1877 Nebraska. This novel blends a sensual love story with mystery and danger.

She released Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love, a non-fiction guide to romance in 2019. The book features 104 fun and easy ways you can express your love to that special someone in your life. Perfect for men or women, it focuses on tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.

Kelli published Extraterrestrial Encounters, a collection of 18 sci-fi stories, in 2019.If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her disturbing novella, Nightmare in the North.

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.

Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com for a full title list and to find all her social media links.


#GuestPost Starting Out as a Writer – 5 Things to Know by Alison Levy, author of “Gatekeeper: Book One in the Daemon Collecting Series”

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GATEKEEPER

Book One in the Daemon Collecting Series

Date Published: October 6, 2020

Publisher: Spark Press

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Starting Out as a Writer – 5 Things to Know

by Alison Levy

            If you want to write but find the prospect of getting started daunting, here are some tips that I found helpful when I decided to write a novel.

  • Decide why you want to write.

It’s important to decide this up front because it will affect the way you write.  If you want to write as a hobby, you can write any way you like.  If your goal is to eventually publish, you will need to write with a reader in mind.  I like some of my earliest pieces but at the time I was just writing for myself; if I wanted to publish those stories, they would need a lot of work to read coherently.

  • Never stop reading.

The more you read, the better you will understand writing in general: sentence structure, plot, character development, dialogue, etc.  If it’s hard to find time to sit down and read, try audiobooks.  I listen in the car, while I shop, while I walk my dogs, and while clean my house.  I’m a better writer for it.

  • Don’t wait for inspiration.

Writers are artists, and society likes to think of artists as eccentric, free-spirited people who live their lives according to the whims of their muse.  I love the feeling of inspiration washing over me but if I waited for it to hit, I’d never get anything done.  When I get an inspiration, I take notes in my phone and refer to them when I sit down at my regular writing times.  Whatever your mood, just sit down and write.  Once you get in the habit, you’ll find you don’t need to be inspired to produce quality work.

  • Get honest criticism.

When you’re ready, seek out a writer’s group.  It’s nice to get reactions from friends and family but even if they’re professional writers, they’re going to temper their feedback because of their relationship with you.  Joining a writer’s group has been extremely beneficial to me; the quality of my writing has dramatically increased since I started going to regular critique meetings.  It can be hard to share your work and let others point out its flaws, but getting honest criticism is the best way to grow as a writer.

  • Write every day.

Start writing!  Write the beginning of a story, or the end, or the middle.  Write an outline, a character description, or some dialogue.  Write anything!  What’s important is just to get started, to write often, and to build momentum.  Even if you find writing everyday difficult at first, if you keep at it, you’ll find your stride.  As the philosopher Epictetus said, “If you wish to be a writer, write.”

Good luck and happy writing!

~~~

SYNOPSIS

Rachel Wilde comes from a dimension that exists adjacent to ours. The people there have structured their society around daemon collecting: they locate, catch, and repair malfunctioning daemons (creatures out of phase with our world that tempt people to do good or evil). Now Rachel has been given two unusual assignments: 1) find a person who has been trying to break down dimensional barriers, and 2) track down a missing line of gatekeepers, human placeholders for a daemon that was too badly damaged to repair.

Authorities of Rachel’s world believe the missing gatekeepers are descended from a girl who went missing from West Africa hundreds of years ago, likely sold into slavery. With no leads to go on, Rachel seeks help from Bach, a raving homeless man who happens to be an oracle. Bach does put her in the path of both of her targets―but he also lands her in a life-threatening situation. Somehow, Rachel has to stop the criminal, reunite a gatekeeper with her stolen past, and, above all, survive.

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BARNES & NOBLE

KOBO

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About the Author

Alison LevyAlison Levy lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with her husband, son, and variety of pets. When she’s not writing or doing mom things, she crochets, gardens, walks her collies, and works on home improvement projects.

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#GuestPost “Anarchy of the Mice” by Jeff Bond

Anarchy Of The Mice by Jeff Bond Banneron Tour July 1 – August 31, 2020

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Making an Audiobook

by Jeff Bond

Audiobooks are fantastic. They’re the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry, and they’re an absolute lifesaver for someone like me, who—between parenting and cooking and an aggressive writing schedule—doesn’t have time to read with his eyes. What I do have is a nice juicy forty-five minutes early each morning when I’m walking the dog, and audiobooks allow me to spend that time in Diane Gabaldon’s eighteenth-century Scotland, John Updike’s suburbia, or Tana French’s Dublin.

When I released my first book two years ago, I knew I wanted to produce an audiobook version. I had no clue how to go about it, but naturally everyone’s favorite ten-ton gorilla was there to help: Amazon. Amazon has an entire audiobook ecosystem—creation, distribution, marketing, etc.—called ACX, Audiobook Creation Exchange. The system works quite well despite some quirks, like a messaging system the narrators all say stinks and a rigid workflow sequence that blows up if you accidentally push a project to its next phase before it’s ready. Using ACX, you can create an audiobook without having a Rolodex of professional narrators or cold calling Scott Brick. (If you don’t know the name, you must not be an audiobook person.)

You begin the process by uploading a sample of your book and instructions for potential narrators. Male or female, smooth or forceful, accented or not—those types of things. Then ACX opens up an audition, and narrated audio clips of your sample start rolling in. I received dozens my first day and even more the second. Each one is thrilling, the chance at finding that perfect voice for your story. Most will have some disqualifying mark against them. A weird cadence, or wrong mood, or a voice that just doesn’t fit your concept of the protagonist. Some you’ll nod along to and think, “Yeah, that could be my book.” But these don’t last long because soon enough you’ll run into that reader who just nails it—in whose voice every line sounds like notes from a symphony. And you’ve got your narrator.

Okay, not really; that was the streamlined, romanticized version. Auditions are exhausting. Beyond the sheer number of clips you need to consider and polite emails you’ll need to write, there’s the mental toll of saying no to all these supremely talented people. Authors are fairly conditioned to the shoe being on the other foot. We’re the ones giving out samples, scrapping for a chance to show our stuff, hoping to be picked over all the other creators in the marketplace. I listened to voice authors who’d been public radio anchors, classically trained singers, who had IMDB bios five pages long. I struck up email conversations with a few, and heard that most ACX jobs are industrial voiceovers from overseas—dry commercial work. The narrators generally don’t even get a note acknowledging their audition clips, which surely take hours to produce. So many of them would’ve given me an excellent audiobook, but I could only say yes to two.

Two?

Among the decisions I had to make was whether to have a single narrator voice all chapters or have separate male and female voices. Because The Winner Maker, my first book, had two roughly equal protagonists, one male and one female, I decided to use separate. Beyond that, there was the decision to do the narration “duet style,” where the two actors can trade off within the same chapter, or stick to one voice per chapter. I chose the latter, which simplified things.

From there, my narrators took the manuscript and did their thing—reading ten hours of my debut novel. I then had to listen to every last second of it and jot edits along the way. This was fine-grained, tedious work, made more complicated by the fact that I did it using those aforementioned forty-five dog-walking minutes each morning. Imagine tapping out a note on your phone about stressing the second syllable of “Rivard” rather than the first while 120 pounds of shaggy Newfoundland dog lurches after a squirrel, and you’ll know my struggle. Hopefully my neighbors got a laugh or two out of it.

My narrators, Natalie Duke and Brandon Paul Eells, are extraordinarily professional and did a great job. I found only minor fixes, one or two per chapter. Some were personal preference, how to pronounce a particular name or street. Other times I started to correct a pronunciation only to Google it and find I’d been saying the word wrong in my head all along—my narrator had actually gotten it right.

For all this, it was truly wonderful hearing my story come to life as an audiobook. I recorded one for Blackquest 40 and The Pinebox Vendetta as well, and my two releases in June—Anarchy of the Mice and Dear Durwood—will also be audiobooks. Audible has a long quality-check process; I expect them to pop up in late July or early August. If you’re looking for an introduction to my stories, I’d highly recommend trying an audiobook. They were hard work, but the end result was a lot of fun.

~~~

Synopsis:

Anarchy of the Mice by Jeff Bond From Jeff Bond, author of Blackquest 40 and The Pinebox Vendetta, comes Anarchy of the Mice, book one in an epic new series starring Quaid Rafferty, Durwood Oak Jones, and Molly McGill: the trio of freelance operatives known collectively as Third Chance Enterprises. How far could society fall without data? Account balances, property lines, government ID records — if it all vanished, if everyone’s scorecard reset to zero, how might the world look? The Blind Mice are going to show us. Molly McGill is fighting it. Her teenage son has come downstairs in a T-shirt from these “hacktivists” dominating the news. Her daughter’s bus is canceled — too many stoplights out — and school is in the opposite direction of the temp job she’s supposed to be starting this morning. She is twice-divorced; her P.I. business, McGill Investigators, is on the rocks; what kind of life is this for a woman a mere twelve credit-hours shy of her PhD? Then the doorbell rings. It’s Quaid Rafferty, the charming — but disgraced — former governor of Massachusetts, and his plainspoken partner, Durwood Oak Jones. The guys have an assignment for Molly. It sounds risky, but the pay sure beats switchboard work. They need her to infiltrate the Blind Mice. Danger, romance, intrigue, action for miles — whatever you read, Anarchy of the Mice is coming for you.

Book Details:

Genre: Action-Adventure

Published by: Jeff Bond books

Publication Date: June 15, 2020

Number of Pages: 445

ISBN: 173225527X (978-1732255272)

Series: Third Chance Enterprises, #1

Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE The first I ever heard of the Blind Mice was from my fourteen-year-old son, Zach. I was scrambling to get him and his sister ready for school, stepping over dolls and skater magazines, thinking ahead to the temp job I was starting in about an hour, when Zach came slumping downstairs in a suspiciously plain T-shirt. “Turn around,” I said. “Let’s see the back.” He scowled but did comply. The clothing check was mandatory after that vomiting-skull sweatshirt he’d slipped out the door in last month. Okay. No drugs, profanity, or bodily fluids being expelled. But there was something. An abstract computer-ish symbol. A mouse? Possibly the nose, eyes, and whiskers of a mouse? Printed underneath was, Nibble, nibble. Until the whole sick scam rots through. I checked the clock: 7:38. Seven minutes before we absolutely had to be out the door, and I still hadn’t cleaned up the grape juice spill, dealt with my Frizz City hair, or checked the furnace. For twenty minutes, I’d been hearing ker-klacks, which my heart said was construction outside but my head worried could be the failing heater. How bad did I want to let Zach’s shirt slide? Bad. “Is that supposed to be a mouse?” I said. “Like an angry mouse?” “The Blind Mice,” my son replied. “Maybe you’ve heard, they’re overthrowing the corporatocracy?” His eyes bulged teen sarcasm underneath those bangs he refuses to get cut. “Wait,” I said, “that group that’s attacking big companies’ websites and factories?” “Government too.” He drew his face back ominously. “Anyone who’s part of the scam.” “And you’re wearing their shirt?” He shrugged. I would’ve dearly loved to engage Zach in a serious discussion of socioeconomic justice—I did my master’s thesis on the psychology of labor devaluation in communities—except we needed to go. In five minutes. “What if Principal Broadhead sees that?” I said. “Go change.” “No.” “Zach McGill, that shirt promotes domestic terrorism. You’ll get kicked out of school.” “Like half my friends wear it, Mom.” He thrust his hands into his pockets. Ugh. I had stepped in parenting quicksand. I’d issued a rash order and Zach had refused, and now I could either make him change, starting a blow-out fight and virtually guaranteeing I’d be late my first day on the job at First Mutual, or back down and erode my authority. “Wear a jacket,” I said—a poor attempt to limit the erosion, but the best I could do. “And don’t let your great-grandmother see that shirt.” Speaking of, I could hear Granny’s slippers padding around upstairs. She was into her morning routine, and would shortly—at the denture-rinsing phase—be shouting down that her sink was draining slow again; why hadn’t the damn plumber come yet? Because I hadn’t paid one. McGill Investigators, the PI business of which I was the founder and sole employee (yes, I realized the plural name was misleading), had just gone belly-up. Hence the temp job. Karen, my six-year-old, was seated cheerily beside her doll in front of orange juice and an Eggo Waffle. “Mommy!” she announced. “I get to ride to school with you today!” The doll’s lips looked sticky—OJ?—and the cat was eyeing Karen’s waffle across the table. “Honey, weren’t you going to ride the bus today?” I asked, shooing the cat, wiping the doll with a dishrag. Karen shook her head. “Bus isn’t running. I get to ride in the Prius, in Mommy’s Prius!” I felt simultaneous joy that Karen loved our new car—well, new to us: 120K miles as a rental, but it was a hybrid—and despair because I really couldn’t take her. School was in the complete opposite direction of New Jersey Transit. Even if I took the turnpike, which I loathed, I would miss my train. Fighting to address Karen calmly in a time crunch, I said, “Are you sure the bus isn’t running?” She nodded. I asked how she knew. “Bus driver said, ‘If the stoplights are blinking again in the morning, I ain’t taking you.’” She walked to the window and pointed. “See?” I joined her at the window, ignoring the driver’s grammatical example for the moment. Up and down my street, traffic lights flashed yellow. “Blind Mice, playa!” Zach puffed his chest. “Nibble, nibble. The lights had gone out every morning this week at rush hour. On Monday, the news had reported a bald eagle flew into a substation. On Tuesday, they’d said the outages were lingering for unknown reasons. I hadn’t seen the news yesterday. Did Zach know the Blind Mice were involved? Or was he just being obnoxious? “Great,” I muttered. “Bus won’t run because stoplights are out, but I’m free to risk our lives driving to school.” Karen gazed up at me, her eyes green like mine and trembling. A mirror of my stress. Pull it together, Molly. “Don’t worry,” I corrected myself. “I’ll take you. I will. Let me just figure a few things out.” Trying not to visualize myself walking into First Mutual forty-five minutes late, I took a breath. I patted through my purse for keys, sifting through rumpled Kleenex and receipts and granola-bar halves. Granny had made her way downstairs and was reading aloud from a bill-collection notice. Zach was texting, undoubtedly to friends about his lame mom. I felt air on my toes and looked down: a hole in my hose. Fantastic. I’d picked out my cutest work sandals, but somehow I doubted the look would hold up with toes poking out like mini-wieners. I wished I could shut my eyes, whisper some spell, and wake up in a different universe. Then the doorbell rang. CHAPTER TWO Quaid Rafferty waited on the McGills’ front porch with a winning smile. It had been ten months since he’d seen Molly, and he was eager to reconnect. Inside, there sounded a crash (pulled-over coatrack?), a smack (skateboard hitting wall?), and muffled cross-voices. Quaid fixed the lay of his sport coat lapels and kept waiting. His partner, Durwood Oak Jones, stood two paces back with his dog. Durwood wasn’t saying anything, but Quaid could feel the West Virginian’s disapproval—it pulsed from his blue jeans and cowboy hat. Quaid twisted from the door. “School morning, right? I’m sure she’ll be out shortly.” Durwood remained silent. He was on record saying they’d be better off with a more accomplished operative like Kitty Ravensdale or Sigrada the Serpent, but Quaid believed in Molly. He’d argued that McGill, a relative amateur, was just what they needed: a fresh-faced idealist. Now he focused on the door—and was pleased to hear the dead bolt turn within. He was less pleased when he saw the face that appeared in the door glass. The grandmother. “Why, color me damned!” began the septuagenarian, yanking open the screen door. “The louse returns. Whorehouses all kick you out?” Quaid strained to keep smiling. “How are you this fine morning, Eunice?” Her face stormed over. “What’re you here for?” “We’re hoping for a word with Molly if she’s around.” He opened his shoulders to give her a full view of his party, which included Durwood and Sue-Ann, his aged bluetick coonhound. They made for an admittedly odd sight. Quaid and Durwood shared the same vital stats, six one and 180-something pounds, but God himself couldn’t have created two more different molds. Quaid in a sport coat with suntanned wrists and mussed-just-so blond hair. Durwood removing his hat and casting steel-colored eyes humbly about, jeans pulled down over his boots’ piping. And Sue with her mottled coat, rasping like any breath could be her last. Eunice stabbed a finger toward Durwood. “He can come in—him I respect. But you need to turn right around. My granddaughter wants nothing to do with cads like you.” Behind her, a voice called, “Granny, I can handle this. Eunice ignored this. “You’re a no-good man. I know it, my granddaughter knows it.” Veins showed through the chicken-y skin of her neck. “Go on, hop a flight back to Vegas and all your whores!” Before Quaid could counter these aspersions, Molly appeared. His heart chirped in his chest. Molly was a little discombobulated, bending to put on a sandal, a kid’s jacket tucked under one elbow—but those dimples, that curvy body…even in the worst domestic throes, she could’ve charmed slime off a senator. He said, “Can’t you beat a seventy-four-year-old woman to the door?” Molly slipped on the second sandal. “Can we please just not? It’s been a crazy morning.” “I know the type.” Quaid smacked his hands together. “So hey, we have a job for you.” “You’re a little late—McGill Investigators went out of business. I have a real job starting in less than an hour.” “What kind?” “Reception,” she said. “Three months with First Mutual.” “Temp work?” Quaid asked. “I was supposed to start with the board of psychological examiners, but the position fell through.” “How come?” “Funding ran out. The governor disbanded the board.” “So First Mutual…?” Molly’s eyes, big and leprechaun green, fell. “It’s temp work, yeah.” “You’re criminally overqualified for that, McGill,” Quaid said. “Hear us out. Please.” She snapped her arms over her chest but didn’t stop Quaid as he breezed into the living room followed by Durwood and Sue-Ann, who wore no leash but kept a perfect twenty-inch heel by her master. Two kids poked their heads around the kitchen doorframe. Quaid waggled his fingers playfully at the girl. Molly said, “Zach, Karen—please wait upstairs. I’m speaking with these men.” The boy argued he should be able to stay; upstairs sucked; wasn’t she the one who said they had to leave, like, immedia— “This is not a negotiation,” Molly said in a new tone. They went upstairs. She sighed. “Now they’ll be late for school. I’m officially the worst mother ever.” Quaid glanced around the living room. The floor was clutter free, but toys jammed the shelves of the coffee table. Stray fibers stuck up from the carpet, which had faded beige from its original yellow or ivory. “No, you’re an excellent mother,” Quaid said. “You do what you believe is best for your children, which is why you’re going to accept our proposition.” The most effective means of winning a person over, Quaid had learned as governor of Massachusetts and in prior political capacities, was to identify their objective and articulate how your proposal brought it closer. Part two was always trickier. He continued, “American Dynamics is the client, and they have deep pockets. If you help us pull this off, all your money troubles go poof.” A glint pierced Molly’s skepticism. “Okay. I’m listening.” “You’ve heard of the Blind Mice, these anarchist hackers?” “I—well, yes, a little. Zach has their T-shirt.” Quaid, having met the boy on a few occasions, wasn’t shocked by the information. “Here’s the deal. We need someone to infiltrate them.” Molly blinked twice. Durwood spoke up, “You’d be great, Moll. You’re young. Personable. People trust you.” Molly’s eyes were grapefruits. “What did you call them, ‘anarchist hackers’? How would I infiltrate them? I just started paying bills online.” “No tech knowledge required,” Quaid said. “We have a plan.” He gave her the nickel summary. The Blind Mice had singled out twelve corporate targets, “the Despicable Dozen,” and American Dynamics topped the list. In recent months, AmDye had seen its websites crashed, its factories slowed by computer glitches, internal documents leaked, the CEO’s home egged repeatedly. Government agencies from the FBI to NYPD were pursuing the Mice, but the company was troubled by the lack of progress and so had hired Third Chance Enterprises to take them down. “Now if I accept,” Molly said, narrowing her eyes, “does that mean I’m officially part of Third Chance Enterprises?” Quaid exhaled at length. Durwood shook his head with an irked air—he hated the name, and considered Quaid’s branding efforts foolish. “Oh, Durwood and I have been at this freelance operative thing awhile.” Quaid smoothed his sport coat lapels. “Most cases we can handle between the two of us.” “But not this one.” “Right. Durwood’s a whiz with prosthetics, but even he can’t bring this”—Quaid indicated his own ruggedly handsome but undeniably middle-aged face—“back to twenty-five.” Molly’s eyes turned inward. Quaid’s instincts told him she was thinking of her children. She said, “Sounds dangerous.” “Nah.” He spread his arms, wide and forthright. “You’re working with the best here: the top small-force, private-arms outfit in the Western world. Very minimal danger.” Like the politician he’d once been, Quaid delivered this line of questionable veracity with full sincerity. Then he turned to his partner. “Right, Wood? She won’t have a thing to worry about. We’d limit her involvement to safe situations.” Durwood thinned his lips. “Do the best we could.” This response, typical of the soldier he’d once been, was unhelpful. Molly said, “Who takes care of my kids if something happens, if the Blind Mice sniff me out? Would I have to commit actual crimes?” “Unlikely.” Unlikely? I’ll tell you what’s unlikely, getting hired someplace, anyplace, with a felony conviction on your application…” As she thundered away, Quaid wondered if Durwood might not have been right in preferring a pro. The few times they’d used Molly McGill before had been secondary: posing as a gate agent during the foiled Delta hijacking, later as an archivist for the American embassy in Rome. They’d only pulled her into Rome because of her language skills—she spoke six fluently. “…also, I have to say,” she continued, and from the edge in her voice, Quaid knew just where they were headed, “I find it curious that I don’t hear from you for ten months, and then you need my help, and all of a sudden, I matter. All of a sudden, you’re on my doorstep.” “I apologize,” Quaid said. “The Dubai job ran long, then that Guadeloupean resort got hit by a second hurricane. We got busy. I should’ve called.” Molly’s face cooled a shade, and Quaid saw that he hadn’t lost her. Yet. Before either could say more, a heavy ker-klack sounded outside. “What’s the racket?” Quaid asked. He peeked out the window at his and Durwood’s Vanagon, which looked no more beat-up than usual. “It’s been going on all morning,” Molly said. “I figured it was construction.” Quaid said, “Construction in this economy?” He looked to Durwood. “I’ll check ’er out.” The ex-soldier turned for the door. Sue-Ann, heaving herself laboriously off the carpet, scuffled after. Alone now with Molly, Quaid walked several paces in. He doubled his sport coat over his forearm and passed a hand through his hair, using a foyer mirror to confirm the curlicues that graced his temples on his best days. This was where it had to happen. Quaid’s behavior toward Molly had been less than gallant, and that was an issue. Still, there were sound arguments at his disposal. He could play the money angle. He could talk about making the world safer for Molly’s children. He could point out that she was meant for greater things, appealing to her sense of adventure, framing the job as an escape from the hamster wheel and entrée to a bright world of heroes and villains. He believed in the job. Now he just needed her to believe too. CHAPTER THREE Durwood walked north. Sue-Ann gimped along after, favoring her bum hip. Paws echoed bootheels like sparrows answering blackbirds. They found their noise at the sixth house on the left. A crew of three men was working outside a small home. Two-story like Molly’s. The owner had tacked an addition onto one side, prefab sunroom. The men were working where the sunroom met the main structure. Dislodging nails, jackhammering between fiberglass and brick. Tossing panels onto a stack. “Pardon,” Durwood called. “Who you boys working for?” One man pointed to his earmuffs. The others paid Durwood no mind whatsoever. Heavyset men. Big stomachs and muscles. Durwood walked closer. “Those corner boards’re getting beat up. Y’all got a permit I could see?” The three continued to ignore him. The addition was poorly done to begin with, the cornice already sagging. Shoddy craftsmanship. That didn’t mean the owners deserved to have it stolen for scrap. The jackhammer was plugged into an outside GFI. Durwood caught its cord with his bootheel. “The hell?” said the operator as his juice cut. Durwood said, “You’re thieves. You’re stealing fiberglass.” The men denied nothing. One said, “Call the cops. See if they come.” Sue-Ann bared her gums. Durwood said, “I don’t believe we need to involve law enforcement,” and turned back south for the Vanagon. Crime like this—callous, brash—was a sign of the times.  People were sore about this “new economy,” how well the rich were making out. Groups like the Blind Mice thought it gave them a right to practice lawlessness.   Lawlessness, Durwood knew, was like a plague. Left unchecked, it spread. Even now, besides this sunroom dismantling, Durwood saw a half dozen offenses in plain sight. Low-stakes gambling on a porch. Coaxials looped across half the neighborhood roofs: cable splicing. A Rottweiler roaming off leash. Each stuck in Durwood’s craw. He walked a half block to the Vanagon. He hunted around inside, boots clattering the bare metal floor. Pushed aside Stinger missiles in titanium casings. Squinted past crates of frag grenades in the bulkhead he’d jiggered himself from ponderosa pine. Here she was—a pressurized tin of black ops epoxy. Set quick enough to repel a flash air strike, strong enough to hold a bridge. Durwood had purchased it for the Dubai job. According to his supplier, Yakov, the stuff smelled like cinnamon when it dried. Something to do with chemistry. Durwood removed the tin from its box and brushed off the pink Styrofoam packing Yakov favored. Then allowed Sue a moment to ease herself down to the curb before they started back north. Passing Molly’s house, Durwood glimpsed her through the living room window. She was listening to Quaid, fingers pressed to her forehead. Quaid was lying. Which was nothing new, Quaid stretching the truth to a woman. But these lies involved Molly’s safety. Fact was, they knew very little of the Blind Mice. Their capabilities, their willingness to harm innocents. The leader, Josiah, was a reckless troublemaker. He spewed his nonsense on Twitter, announcing targets ahead of time, talking about his own penis. The heavyset men were back at it. One on the roof. The other two around back of the sunroom, digging up the slab. Durwood set down the epoxy. The men glanced over but kept jackhammering. They would not be the first, nor last, to underestimate this son of an Appalachian coal miner. The air compressor was set up on the lawn. Durwood found the main pressure valve and cranked its throat full open. The man on the roof had his ratchet come roaring out of his hands. He slid down the grade, nose rubbing vinyl shingles, and landed in petunias. Back on his feet, the man swore. “Mind your language,” Durwood said. “There’s families in the neighborhood.” The other two hustled over, shovels at their shoulders. The widest of the three circled to Durwood’s backside. Sue-Ann coiled her old bones to strike. Ugliness roiled Durwood’s gut. Big Man punched first. Durwood caught his fist, torqued his arm behind his back. The next man swung his shovel. Durwood charged underneath and speared his chest. The man wheezed sharply, his lung likely punctured. The third man got hold of Durwood’s bootheel, smashed his elbow into the hollow of Durwood’s knee. Durwood scissored the opposite leg across the man’s throat. He gritted his teeth and clenched. He felt the man’s Adam’s apple wriggling between his legs. A black core in Durwood yearned to squeeze. He resisted. The hostiles came again, and Durwood whipped them again. Automatically, in a series of beats as natural to him as chirping to a katydid. The men’s faces changed from angry to scared to incredulous. Finally, they stayed down. “Now y’all are helping fix that sunroom.” Durwood nodded to the epoxy tin. “Mix six to one, then paste ’er on quick.” Luckily, he’d caught the thieves early, and the repair was uncomplicated. Clamp, glue, drill. The epoxy should increase the R-value on the sunroom ten, fifteen, units. Good for a few bucks off the gas bill in winter, anyhow. Durwood did much of the work himself. He enjoyed the panels’ weight, the strength of a well-formed joint. His muscles felt free and easy as if he were home ridding the sorghum fields of johnsongrass. Done, he let the thieves go. He turned back south toward Molly’s house. Sue-Ann scrabbled alongside. “Well, ole girl?” he said. “Let’s see how Quaid made out.” CHAPTER FOUR I stood on my front porch watching the Vanagon rumble down Sycamore. My toes tingled, my heart was tossing itself against the walls of my chest, and I was pretty sure my nose had gone berserk. How else could I be smelling cinnamon? Quaid Rafferty’s last words played over and over in my head: We need you. For twenty minutes, after Durwood had taken his dog to investigate ker-klacks, Quaid had given me the hard sell. The money would be big-time. I had the perfect skills for the assignment: guts, grace under fire, that youthful je ne sais quoi. Wasn’t I always saying I ought to be putting my psychology skills to better use? Well, here it was: understanding these young people’s outrage would be a major component of the job. Some people will anticipate your words and mumble along. Quaid did something similar but with feelings, cringing at my credit issues, brightening with whole-face joy at Karen’s reading progress—which I was afraid would suffer if I got busy and didn’t keep up her nightly practice. He was pitching me, yes. But he genuinely cared what was happening in my life. I didn’t know how to think about Quaid, how to even fix him in my brain. He and Durwood were so far outside any normal frame of reference. Were they even real? Did I imagine them? Their biographies were epic. Quaid the twice-elected (once-impeached) governor of Massachusetts who now battled villains across the globe and lived at Caesars Palace. Durwood a legend of the Marine Corps, discharged after defying his commanding officer and wiping out an entire Qaeda cell to avenge the death of his wife. I’d met them during my own unreal adventure—the end of my second marriage, which had unraveled in tragedy in the backwoods of West Virginia. They’d recruited me for three missions since. Each was like a huge, brilliant dream—the kind that’s so vital and packed with life that you hang on after you wake up, clutching backward into sleep to stay inside. Granny said, “That man’s trouble. If you have any sense in that stubborn head of yours, you’ll steer clear.” I stepped back into the living room, the Vanagon long gone, and allowed my eyes to close. Granny didn’t know the half of it. She had huffed off to watch her judge shows on TV before the guys had even mentioned the Blind Mice. No, she meant a more conventional trouble. “I’ve learned,” I said. “If I take this job, it won’t be for romance. I’d be doing it for me. For the family.” As if cued by the word “family,” a peal of laughter sounded upstairs. Children! My eyes zoomed to the clock. It was 8:20. Zach would be lucky to make first hour, let alone homeroom. In a single swipe, I scooped up the Prius keys and both jackets. My purse whorled off my shoulder like some supermom prop. “Leaving now!” I called up the stairwell. “Here we go, kids—laces tied, backpacks zipped.” Zach trudged down, leaning his weight into the rail. Karen followed with sunny-careful steps. I sped through the last items on my list—tossed a towel over the grape juice, sloshed water onto the roast, considered my appearance in the microwave door, and just frowned, beyond caring. Halfway across the porch, Granny’s fingers closed around my wrist. “Promise me,” she said, “that you will not associate with Quaid Rafferty. Promise me you won’t have one single thing to do with that lowlife.” I looked past her to the kitchen, where the cat was kinking herself to retch Eggo Waffle onto the linoleum. “I’m sorry, Granny.” I patted her hand, freeing myself. “It’s something I have to do.” *** Excerpt from Anarchy of the Mice by Jeff Bond. Copyright 2020 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Jeff Bond Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. His books have been featured in The New York Review of Books, and his 2020 release, The Pinebox Vendetta, received the gold medal (top prize) in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

Catch Up With Jeff Bond On: JeffBondBooks.com BookBub Goodreads Instagram Twitter Facebook!

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#GuestPost “Beauty is the Beast (Caligula Book 1)” by D. James McGee

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~ Guest Post ~

by D. James McGee

The Creation of a Femme Fatale

It would seem that the present zeitgeist is to promote warrior women in the media. From Viking’s Lagertha to The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen we’re spoiled for choice.
Maybe I’ve missed the boat here. I mean, a strong, beautiful and cunning femme fatale isn’t exactly new or original, but there are a few unique facets about my newly constructed protagonist that are worthy of mentioning.
The Lady Laura Lacy (pardon the alliteration) was constructed using the facets of some very real women, most of whom I actually know, but two of whom are historical figures.
When I moved to Dublin, Ireland in the early 1990s, I began training in a Kenpo studio on Lower Leeson Street. The area is filled with whole streets of beautiful Georgian houses famous for their ornate front doors. These houses have now been converted into office buildings where people of the city go about their business of well…business.
Many types of people would train at that studio in relative harmony. Working class Joes and upper echelon professionals gleefully exchanged punches and kicks with the occasional head butt, knee and elbow.
I was a teenager and completely alone in a (somewhat) foreign country at that time and was desperate to make friends and have some kind of support system.
Anyway, I met a woman there by the name of Cara Gregg. She was an executive in a premier advertising agency when I met her and just so happened to be one of my first instructors in Ireland in the art of Kenpo Karate. I found out that she was a former model and member of the Stunt Association of Ireland, an equestrian and had some strange esoteric powers.
After a break up (my fault obviously), I was searching for a new place to live and it just so happened that Cara had been blighted by some misogyny in her firm so had decided to set up her own business in her house. She therefore suggested that I move in with her. This would give me a nice place to live and provide a modicum of security for her. I did just that and she became the closest thing to a mother I had in Ireland at the time.
Cara ran in some illustrious circles and knew everything there was to know about being a lady, but if things got tough she could be an out and out ball-buster to the poor sod who crossed her.
I came to California in 2001 for what I thought would be a training vacation (I’m still here). During my first week in Huntington Beach I met a fellow black belt by the name of Melissa (Missy ) Dalton. She was tall, blonde and in shape, oh and just happened to be a multiple times world champion. She was an actress and had to keep her face well preserved for auditions, photo shoots and whatever else the thespian types of Hollywood have to do to succeed. During one of our first training sessions together I kicked out her two front teeth and broke her nose. She was absolutely furious.
During another incident in a night club in Universal City, I witnessed her knock out a soldier on Christmas leave from the Army’s 82 Airborne Division. Her punch was the catalyst for the mass fight that ensued, comprised of us (the bouncers) and them (the squadies).
All this being said Missy knew how to play the game when it came to donning an evening dress and mingling with the elite.
Princess Diana was my inspiration for most of Lady Laura’s wardrobe and public persona.
I have family and friends on all sides when it comes to Irish political views, so I tend to stay clear of the subject. That being said, I find the life of Constance Markievicz aka Countess Markievicz fascinating. A socialite turned revolutionary she traded in her parties and gown for gunpowder and rifles during Ireland’s revolutionary war. She played a pivotal role in the Easter Rising for which she was sentenced to death. Her sentence was commuted on account of her being a woman and she became the first woman elected to parliament in 1918. She turned down her seat and instead was elected Minister of Labour in Ireland’s first Dail. This made her the first female minister in Europe.
Thanks Cara, Missy, Diana and Constance for the inspiration and thanks to the few others who I dare not mention. I believe they know who they are.

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Thriller/Action/Adventure

Date Published: July 15

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

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It’s 1985. Lady Laura Lacy of Britewood is beautiful and graceful, a celebrity in her own right. She is cousin to Her Majesty The Queen, and her
father is the well-respected Earl of Britewood, honorary commander of the Army’s elite reserve special forces unit. Laura seemingly has it all. She should be happy.

However, due to unspeakable acts committed against her as a child,
she’s developed a blood lust for revenge. Secretly trained by her
father’s regiment in the arts of war, Laura begins to target men who
prey on the innocent and helpless. As her skills sharpen, Laura becomes a
formidable force against evil.

That’s when she uncovers a transatlantic child trafficking ring led
by an elite group within British society. With the help of commanding
officer and police inspector Billy Smythe, her mysterious family attorney
Arthur Mosely, and an unorthodox group of American allies, Laura sets out on
a vengeance-fueled quest to stop them. She is determined to save as many
innocents as she can.

It’s a mission that will put her very life and sanity at stake,
making her question everything she’s ever believed in. But to make
things right, Beauty must become the Beast.

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 About the Author

Domnic “DJames” McGee was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire. A
sickly child, he was raised in a council estate to a single mother. At
school, he was a poor student and failed dismally.

He developed a passion for martial arts, so in his teens, he moved to
Ireland where he trained full-time while working in menial jobs to
survive.

A chance encounter then gave him the opportunity to work as an Executive
Protection Agent for some of the most influential figures in European
society.

He came to the US in 2001 to further his studies of martial arts. He
decided to stay and earned his citizenship by serving in an Army infantry
unit and later with a reserve Military Police unit.

He currently lives in Huntington Beach, where he works as an Executive
Protection Agent and trains and writes as much as he can.

 

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#GuestPost Kirk Zurosky, author of “The Immortal Divorce Court Series”

Series Inspiration

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What inspired me to create the Immortal Divorce Court series?Kirk Zurosky

The Immortal Divorce Court Series was created from my experiences as an attorney, and my going through a hellacious divorce.  It inspired the premise of what could happen if you were an immortal creature of myth, but you had a habit of making really bad relationship choices.  We have all had that one relationship (or more) where when it was over we wondered just what in the Hell were we thinking!  But, what if ending up in literal Hell was one of the consequences for those bad relationship choices?  So with that idea in mind, I created the Immortal Divorce Court universe where immortal vampire assassin, Sirius Sinister, is getting haled into Immortal Divorce Court by his femme fatales, but also meeting and making eternal friendships with an incredible cast of mythical characters along the way.

What do I want readers to take away from the Immortal Divorce Court series?

cover3Immortal Divorce Court is at its core a book about Sirius Sinister’s relationships with his family, friends, and paramours.  Sometimes when Sirius meets someone in the book there is an instant connection and a lifelong (in this case a really lifelong!) friendship that develops.  The people we meet and love, and sometimes those that we meet that really aren’t good for us, are ultimately the people that help us to grow and change to be the best people we can be.  The Immortal Divorce Court world is not that much different from our own in that we need other people to be at our very best because without love and friendship life can be pretty hard and lonely.  So, the take away for the readers is that to be your best self you have to put yourself out there and experience the wonderful diversity that is humanity.

Do I have a favorite Immortal Divorce Court character?Kirk and Daisy

I enjoyed creating and writing dialogue for all of the Immortal Divorce Court characters, but I especially liked the challenge of portraying Garlic, the vampire Maltese, as the real person she is without any actual spoken dialogue.  Garlic is based on our wanna be vampire Maltese, Daisy, who can absolutely communicate when she is irritated, that you Kirk and Daisy2shouldn’t be ignoring her, and most importantly in getting more than her fair share of dog treats and belly rubs.  There is no doubt that she has mastered teaching old humans some new tricks.  As a lawyer, I have taken great joy in writing dialogue for Maximillian Justice, Sirius’ divorce attorney.  It was such an absolute blast to push the envelope with what he says and does in the Immortal Divorce Court courtroom.

 

What was your inspiration for writing such steamy sex scenes?

Though he doesn’t realize it at first, Sirius Sinister is on a quest to find his true love, and I just thank the heavens every day that I found mine.  I didn’t know what love was until I met my wife, Susie.  When you are in a relationship that doesn’t mesh everything about it seems difficult, and forced.  However, if you are ever so lucky to meet your true match in life, everything is effortless and natural, and every instinct is the correct one.  So, in effect with the Immortal Divorce Court Series, I wrote a seven volume love story to my wife, and she has graciously allowed me through my writing to share some of the most inspirational and intimate parts of our life.  And, as the saying goes – you write what you know!

Have I been to all of the places in the book that Sirius Sinister travels to?

One of my favorite things to do in life is to travel the world with Susie.  I have been fortunate to visit many of the places where Volume One is set and the locales of the next six volumes as well.  But, because the book is set over several centuries, I had to do a lot of research as to what was happening at the time in history that I was setting the story there.  Of course, I haven’t been to Hell (though my first marriage certainly felt like it might qualify…)

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About Kirk Zurosky

Kirk and Daisy3For the last twenty-plus years, Kirk Zurosky has practiced plaintiffs’ personal injury and workers’ compensation law with his firm, Tippens & Zurosky.

He started writing about the adventures of Sirius Sinister as a means of personal therapy to cope with a contentious divorce that felt endless, having no idea at first that it would turn into the seven-book Immortal Divorce Court series. Incorporating his own legal experiences into the books, Kirk puts a playful and racy spin on the worst-case scenarios that can possibly crop up in divorce court.

Kirk lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife, Susie, and their wannabe-vampire Maltese, Daisy.

Visit Kirk’s website at kirkzurosky.com where you can get Sirius Sinister™ Gear!

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Immortal Divorce Court Volume 1:

My Ex-Wife Said Go to Hell

SYNOPSIS

Sirius Sinister keeps sleeping with the wrong women. And this time, it’s led to his imprisonment in Hell. Literal Hell.

Immortal vampire assassin Sirius Sinister has a healthy libido that constantly results in bad relationship decisions. But when he’s served divorce papers by Bloodsucker Number One—a shady woman from his past—he realizes there’s a major problem: he was never even married to her, or so he thought. Regardless of the truth, Sirius is put under the jurisdiction of Immortal Divorce Court.

You would think by now he’d know having sex can lead to horrific consequences like marriage, children, and ex-wives—but some habits just won’t die. Leaving his faithful vampire Maltese, Garlic, behind, Sirius travels to court to defend himself with the help of his demon attorney, Maximillian Justice. Unfortunately, the trial quickly spirals out of control, and Sirius is banished to hell for a hundred years.

When Sirius finally escapes, he ends up in the Caribbean where he meets his next paramour: the Howler. After a wild romp with his new werewolf lover under the lure of a full blood moon, he finds himself becoming the father of a litter of pups—but, the Howler and her Pack want to put the dead in deadbeat dad. Luckily, Sirius is saved by the Queen of the Merfolk, who comes with a hidden agenda even as they fall in love. Can he make it work with the Queen, or will he have to head to Immortal Divorce Court once again as yet another relationship flounders?

For all those who have nursed a broken heart—or a vengeful one—Immortal Divorce Court Volume 1 is a sexy, exciting debut and the start of a hellishly fun new series about the flawed antihero Sirius Sinister.

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AMAZON AU

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