Happy Release Day to
Artifacts by Pete Catalano!
Join us in celebrating this new release from Tantrum Books!
Enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.
Happy Book Birthday, Pete!
Artifacts by Pete Catalano Release Date: May 17, 2016 Publisher: Tantrum Boooks
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
Today we are having a chapter reveal for DIRTY SEXY SECRET by Nazarea Andrews. This book will release May 30th. Dirty Sexy Secret is an adult contemporary romance, standalone novel, that is the first in the brand new series - Green County.
Click here to add DIRTY SEXY SECRET to Goodreads
DIRTY SEXY SECRET Blurb:Even when you know better…. There are a million reasons why Hazel Campton is off limits: she’s a journalist. I’m a cop. Oh, and she’s my foster sister. My secret is I didn’t care. I haven’t stopped wanting her since I slept with her the night before she left. She’s trouble. Always has been. It’s hard to resist the thing you’ve always wanted… Growing up with Brandon Archer means I know him. Good. Bad. Everything in between. It’s just never mattered. My secret? That night. The one I stole, that’s kept me from Archer and Green County, for four years. Now I’m home, and nothing has changed. Except me. And not in the way that means a damn thing. Because I still want him. Everything can change with a knock at the door… Secrets. Everyone has them. Archer. Me. This town. Perfection only runs surface deep in Green County. When there’s a knock at me door, it’s a familiar face all covered in danger, and all those secrets we hide? They’re about to come tumbling out. The first in a sexy new series about Green County, and the people who serve there.
Excerpt:Three killers, two cop, and a journalist walk into a bar. Sounds like a bad joke, right? It's not. It's the end--dear god I hope it's the end--of the worst two days of my life. I just hope we all walk out alive. Chapter 1. Some people say you can't go home again. And that is a complete pile of bullshit. You can. It just won't be home. I should know. I did it. Green County doesn't change. It's been four years since I bolted and six months since I sucked up all my pride and ego and came back. And it still struck me as strange. Green County was exactly the same. Same ridiculous festivals. Same leafy boulevards and parks filled with yoga moms and shrieking children. The same gossips line the coffee shop and eye me when I step in. They'll chatter my every move to Eli later, cooing over him while warning that I was too skinny, too wild too rude too too too. They did the same thing in high school. It was just as fucking annoying then as it is now. Nothing changed in Green Co. If you want change you go somewhere else and you let it wrap you up tight and fight like hell to keep from being dragged back. Eli gets pissy when I say shit like that. But Eli never left Green Co. Never felt the need to get out, to see and shape the world. He's always been more than happy to see and shape the County. And you know, he was right. He was good at it. I loved that he cared so much about Green Co. That he wanted to save the little Kansas county from itself. Someone had too. I flash the ladies a smile as I order two extra-large iced coffees. Cindy grins at me, punching in the order and adding a slice of banana bread and her boxed lunch. “Long day, Hazel?” I grin, a half quirk of my lips that passes as a grin these days. “It’s a day ending in Y, Cins. Those are always long.” She gives me a smirk that tips toward worry. “You need a day off, sugar.” I make a face, and drop a twenty on the counter as I take my order. “I don’t even know what I’d do with that much free time.” She arches an eyebrow at me and I grin at her. “Hazel, my love,” Gabe says, sailing through the door of the coffee shop as I turn away from the counter. I swallow the grin before it twists into a smirk. “Gabriel,” I say, almost frosty and he laughs. Smug bastard. “We should carpool, love, if we’re going to keep meeting like this. Save the planet and all.” “Because you care so much about the damn planet,” I scoff, and he makes a face, all wounded dignity. The problem with that face is that I know Gabe. I've known him my whole life. Gabe is everything I ran away from when I left Green County. Everything I wanted to forget. The smirk that means trouble and the too sharp eyes that sees right through my quick easy lies and watches with concern when I isolate. Fucking bastard is my neighbor. He's too damn close for comfort and too damn nosy for his own good. And coming from an investigative journalist, that's pretty fucking nosy. "I've got work, Gabe. So as much as I'd love to spar," I shift my boxes and nod at the door. "Hazy," he says, and it draws me up. Because once, we were friends. We were impossibly close. He was my rock, and I threw him away. Because I was so fucking determined. To be more. To get out. I fucked up and I ran, and I left Gabe behind with all my other mistakes. I always regretted that. Hurting Gabe. "Wine night?" he asks, slightly pleading, and I flinch, falling back a step. It's still too soon for that shit. And he sees it in my eyes. His smile dips, just a little. Just enough that I notice. Because I know him better than he knows himself, and I can read his sadness in the line of his shoulders. "Maybe next week," I offer, shuffle stepping closer to the door. Aware of all the church ladies watching, and Cindy, standing at the counter, her lips pulled down in a frown, and worry. And Gabe shrugs it off. Beams at me like a fucking lunatic, and nods. Gives me the out. I flash him a quick smile and move toward the door, and he steps to the side, giving me a sardonic smile. Because he's Gabe. And this is Green County. And nothing here changes. Not really. The door opens and Brandon Archer steps through, all long legs and wide shoulders and a face that’s so fucking pretty it’s almost painful. His green eyes, so expressive and alive find me, and go blank. And I almost drop my bags. Because if there was ever a mistake I made, it was him. Eli steps in a half step behind, and a half foot taller, all big smiles and big shoulders and big hands. My brother is big everything. His eyes brighten when he sees me and he pushes past Archer to wrap me in a hug. It’s been about twelve hours since I saw my foster brother, so of course he’s tackle hugging me in CinSations. While Archer watches, those moss green eyes probing me. I squeak and Elijah relinquishes me reluctantly. I drive an elbow in his gut. “Dumbass. You spill my coffee, you replace it.” He doesn’t even blink. He just shoots a quick look at Archer, an eyebrow quirked in question. Because of course they don’t talk. How silly. Why would they? See—this right here? This is why I left. Because I can’t handle seeing the epic fucking bromance that is Elijah Beasley and Brandon fucking Archer. I shift, and Archer smiles, a slow curling thing that I want to smack off his face. “Hazel, sugar, you need a hand?” My smile feels more feral than sweet, and his eyes are sparkling, that fucking amused she’s so cute light I’ve seen for so many years. “Thanks, but Gabe is helping me. Right?” I side eye my friend who gives me this extravagant bow that doesn’t say, you just blew me off. Thank Christ for Gabe. I twist and give Archer a smug smile. “Have a good day, Officer.” Gabe snorts at that as he takes my bag and one of my coffees. I think I’m in the clear. That I’m safe, and out of the danger zone that is Archer. And then his hand closes around my arm, and it pulls me to a stop. He’s always been ridiculously able to pull me to a complete stop with almost nothing. “You can’t hide in that farmhouse forever, Hazel,” he murmurs, and I flush. Damn fair skin. A blush is too fucking easy to see and he’s always been too fascinated with pulling them from me. I can almost feel the low chuckle he gives as he lets me go, and I fall back a step. It’s a retreat, and that’s just another reason I scowl at him. “Tell Eli I’m making dinner on Sunday. Mama Nora is coming over.” I push past him and Gabe slips an arm around my shoulder, ignoring Archer’s sharp spike in tension. “You aren’t invited,” I add, all sugar sweet. And then I’m gone. “Tension between you and Green Co’s finest, love?” He asks, and I should. I know I shouldn’t, but I relax into him, for a moment. Let all the years and time and secrets fall away and let him be my friend. Just for a moment. “I’m not ready for this, Gabe,” I murmur, and he pushes a blond curl out of my eyes, watching me with those strange honey warm eyes of his. And then he nods. “Ok. Not now. But we will talk. Soon. I just painted a target on my back and Archer’s never liked me to begin with. You owe me.” I huff out a breath, and let my gaze dart up to him. Gabe gives me a patient, waiting look and I nod. Because apparently things do change. Gabe can grow up, even just a little. “Ok. Tomorrow.” I say, and he nods. Brushes a kiss over my hair and hands me my bags as I slide into my truck. And then he stands there, watching, braced between me and CinSations as I drive away. He was my best friend, a lifetime ago before I fucked up everything. I wonder if maybe he could be again. ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Q&A with Christopher D. Morgan:
When did you first discover your love for writing?
Do you have a favourite place to write?
Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?
Where did you come up with the name Portallas?
Do you have a favourite amongst all your characters?
Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
She almost seems speechless. She has so much reason not to trust me. I’ve admitted to snooping into her private business, just like I snooped into the personal lives of so many other people. I can see the wheels turning inside her falsely sweet mind. I can see the distrust and consternation on her pretty face. She’ll pretend she doesn’t want to hear this; she just wants to storm out like she threatened. But I don’t think she will. I’ve lifted the lid of Pandora’s box, and now that she’s had a hint of what’s hidden, curiosity alone will compel her.
Aurora has reason not to trust me right now, and I’ve only told her a corner of what I’ve researched, what I know, what I’ve already dug up. She doesn’t know my connections, or how much money can expose. Truth is, I’ve been watching Aurora for months — since well before my trip to Colorado, where Bridget Miller unknowingly gave Aurora a run for her money.
But Bridget didn’t fascinate me the way Aurora does. Nobody does.
I watch her now, fighting a strange urge to tell her exactly what I have in mind. There’s an odd nervousness in my core, as if I haven’t sufficiently purged. I was just upstairs; I just spent my time decompressing. And yet Aurora has me riled again. She’s looking at me with those cool blue eyes, that halo of blonde hair that I find stunning even though she’s tried to ugly up, to bury its luster. Her slim, sloping nose, her slight features, her flawless skin.
I want more than anything to touch her.
To hold her in my hands.
To make her mine.
To show her how she’s wrong, and how I’m right.
There’s a small voice in my mind that threatens dissent, but it’s hard to understand. Whereas most of me wants to conquer Aurora’s naiveté for her own good — and mine, in the doing — a small part of me feels wounded by her quiet beauty. It’s like she holds a weapon against me, and wields it simply by existing before my eyes.
The dissenting voice inside me doesn’t want to show her she’s wrong.
That voice doesn’t want to correct her. Or dismantle her. Or break her so I can rebuild her.
No. That voice prickles at the back of my neck, urging me not to do this.
It’s the same feeling I had walking away from Lucy earlier, thinking about Aurora and how long I’ve pursued her before finally tricking her into chasing me into the coffee shop last week. It’s the same disturbing, uncomfortable, vaguely painful feeling I get every time I look at her private photos. The same quiet pain I feel now, as she watches me with eyes that don’t trust me — but that must, in a sense, if she chooses to stay.
Which she will.
And for some reason, right here and now, I don’t want to betray her. I don’t want to do this.
I imagine my father, dead in his grave.
I think of my mother, cowed to his every whim.
I think of Becky Jeffries. Myself all those years ago. The wax. The blades. The pleasure and the pain.
And for the first time in decades, I doubt myself.
“What are you talking about?” she asks.
No hesitation. No intimidation. To me, she looks as lovely and frail as one of my flowers, but there’s strength behind her. I see an inch of the woman she was on the dance floor. An inch of the woman she was when she pushed me against the restroom wall and took what she wanted. I doubt she knows her strength, or how beautiful it makes her to me.
I have to take a moment. I have to look away, then at her again. Five seconds later the odd flurry of emotions are gone and I am myself again: her instructor, ready to give her a truer education than she ever hoped to find. An education that will set her free.
“A wager,” I repeat. I pace, to distance myself from Aurora’s assessing stare. It’d hard to meet her eyes, as much as they excite me. I’m aware of my erection, but there’s nothing to do about that now. My arousal and anticipation have unmasked at least that much, but I’m hardly the only person in this room who’s dying to fuck. “A bet. A gamble. A game of stakes.”
“What’s the bet?” she asks.
“Your worldview against mine.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Of course you do. You believe in fairy tales and happy endings. I believe in reality. You believe in light and optimism, whereas I’ve seen proof, in abundance, that the opposite is true. You think we can teach children out of who we are as a species. That we can change their futures with facts and figures.”
“Of course we can! Every study ever conducted has shown — ”
I wave my hand, less than dismissive. “Studies. Investigations. Reports. All conducted by people imbued with their own biases. It’s like setting out to see blue but doing so in red-tinted glasses. Every study ever conducted — on education or anything else — fails at the start because they all make one fatal assumption: that people are capable of being civilized. But it’s a lie. We’re all puppets for the animals we are deep down.”
I can practically smell her lust. Like a bomb waiting to explode.
Even as Aurora challenges my gaze — sure she’s right and that I’m fucked up, jaded, and wrong — Jasmine is preparing to offer me all the proof I need.
I look at the recorder.
I look at Jasmine and see her stiff nipples. Her dilated pupils. James has turned her body into a furnace, warming my office to the tune of over 300 BTUs per hour.
In a minute, I’ll play my ace, and make the first move in this chess game.
But not yet.
“What happened to make you this way?” Aurora asks me. It’s more an accusation than a question.
“When you were dancing. When you were touching yourself in front of everyone, how did it feel?”
She rolls her eyes. Shakes her head.
“When you touched the vibrator to your clit,” I say, “how did it feel?”
“I threw it away. You’re lucky I didn’t call the cops and report you as a sex offender.”
I smirk. “When you slipped it inside yourself, how did it feel? With your eyes closed, did you think of me?”
She reaches for Jasmine, whose hand has strayed into James’s lap, now sitting on the couch beside her. “Let’s go, Jasmine. Grab your recorder.” When Jasmine doesn’t grab it, Aurora does, her stare challenging me to try and take it away. “Let’s give the press the best story they’ve ever had on Caspian White.”
“What made you put my cock in your mouth, Aurora? And when we came together, how did that feel?”
She stares at me with eyes like ice. The hatred turns me on. The hatred crushes me. The hatred makes her fascinating. I let my mind flit back to last night. I put myself in front of her, but it was only a guess as to how she’d behave, once turned on. I thought we might make out a little. I thought she might let me touch her. But what happened proved just how much more tightly bound life has made her, and how delicious she’ll be as an adversary.
“Aurora?” Jasmine says.
“Aurora, did you … ?”
“You know I’m right,” I answer first. “You know it felt good. All those things — those were your choices. I made you do nothing. I simply gave you a reason. An excuse. Nobody would have known, or seen. It was you being you, with your good girl mask removed.”
“Everyone makes mistakes,” she says. But I can see I’m upsetting her.
“You don’t have to believe me. You don’t have to admit anything. We’ll make a bet. I’ll donate another hundred thousand dollars to the school of your choice at every stage of the bet . And if you win, I’ll donate another million.”
“Jasmine, come on.”
“Ten million. In your name, if you’d like. Consider the good that much money could do. Just think of all the futures my money could change.” I say the last bit ironically, smirking as if there’s not a word I believe.
Aurora hesitates. She almost answers.
“I’ll put it in escrow so I can’t back out. You can choose the agent. I’ll transfer the funds into a holding account today.”
Her jaw moves. Her eyes fix on me.
“What’s the bet?”
“We’ll take turns. You take a day to show me you’re right. I’ll do whatever you want, so you can convince me. But then it’s my turn. And on my days, you will do what I say.”
“I’m not an idiot — I won’t agree to a blank check.” But she still hasn’t turned away, or gathered her bag. Proving my point, she’s intrigued — but won’t let herself admit it.
“I’ll add a condition. You don’t have to do anything. Just face it. I’ll let you show me the light, if that’s what you believe. Then I’ll show you the darkness.”
She’s considering my offer. Wheels turning. I don’t have to convince her; she’s already convinced. I just have to make it impossible to say no, because deep down she’s dying to agree.
“Ten million dollars,” she says. “Held by a third party. With one hundred thousand dollars for each of our ‘challenges.’”
It’s a ridiculous bargain. An impossible bet. One a good girl like Aurora would never, ever make — but that the real Aurora beneath is dying to discover.
I take my tablet from the end table. She watches as I authorize the transfer, then seems convinced I’ve done as I promised.
“Fine,” she says. “Convince me. Convince me that the world is a terrible place and that everyone is dark deep down.”
But I don’t answer. I turn to Jasmine instead.
“Jasmine,” I say. “I’ll pay you ten thousand dollars to delete what you’ve recorded.” I pick up the tablet. Jasmine’s bank information is already entered as the recipient, but this particular peculiarity goes unmentioned.
“Not everything and everyone is for sale. You can’t buy her.” But Aurora’s voice seems uncertain.
“Fifty thousand,” I say.
Jasmine reaches for the device, barely herself as she pushes buttons and makes the incriminating audio file disappear.
I smile at Aurora, initiate the transfer, and watch hate fill Aurora’s eyes, my first demonstration of cash over ethics established in seconds.
Then I look at James.
“Now fuck her,” I say, “while Aurora watches.”
The Cilantro In Apple Pie
Q&A with Kimberley Nadine Knights
What inspires you?
What’s your advice to an aspiring author?
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Who is your favorite character in The Cilantro in Apple Pie?
Could you describe your definition of a perfect writing day?
Pilots Hockey #2
Released February 16th, 2016
In Sophia Henryâs blistering follow-up to Delayed Penalty, hailed as âsexy, fun, and full of angstâ by L. P. Dover, a good girl and a hockey hunk face off against expectationsâand this match is guaranteed to see plenty of action.
Beneath her innocent facade, Gabriella Bertucci has her reasons to be standoffish with guys. Especially guys like Landon Taylor, a star defenseman on the minor-league Detroit Pilots and the object of a serious crush since he first walked into her familyâs market. But when Landon comes through for her in a moment of crisis, Gaby starts to wonder if there might be more to Landon than hard muscles and fast skates.
Landon isnât afraid of telling Gaby that heâs got it for her bad. The problem is, she seems unwilling to believe it. And though Landon enjoys his reputation as a cool-headed athlete, he hates losingâboth on the rink and off. Itâs his competitiveness that makes him so damn good at what he does . . . but it also makes him just a little bit complicated.
One minute Gabyâs tempted to give in; the next, sheâs getting cold feet. How can she trust a guy whoâs destined for bigger and better things to stick around? Then again, when Landon pulls her close with those powerful arms, the only thing that matters is right now.
Buy Now for ONLY $0.99
Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to North Carolina, where she spends her time writing books featuring hockey-playing heroes, chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts with her husband.
The Midnight Sea
My eyes flew open at the crack of dawn. I groaned and rubbed my forehead. My scalp tingled, an icy, unpleasant sensation. I knew right away where Darius was and what he was doing. It was another side effect of the bond, I’d discovered. I could feel his heart beating. I knew that one of his boots was too tight. I could shut my eyes and tell you exactly where he was, even if he was hundreds of leagues away.
Why had no one told me what it would be like? I supposed Tijah did, but this was much worse than I’d expected. Much, much worse.
I threw on my new scarlet tunic and marched down to the river. Tendrils of mist swirled through the dead reeds at the edge. It was late autumn and the air had a dank chill that promised snow.
My daēva stood there, stripped to the waist, pouring water over his head with his right hand. He wore a gold faravahar on a chain around his neck, its eagle wings spread wide. His left arm lay at his side, grey and dead. I stared at his shoulder, at the juncture where smooth skin met rough. His Druj curse.
It slowed me for a moment, seeing that pathetic arm, but I wasn’t yet ready to forgive him for waking me. That was my excuse, anyway. Of course, what really angered me was the terrible realization that I was burdened with a sorrow not my own, but that bled me nonetheless. What really angered me was him—everything about him.
He was calmer this morning, but I wasn’t. I stopped about twenty feet away. He didn’t turn around although he knew I was there.
“It’s nice that you’re so pious,” I said. “But don’t you think it’s a little early to be down here performing the morning rites?”
He paused, then dumped the last of the water from the bowl. I felt the cold trickle down my spine and my lips tightened.
“I was taught by the magi to come at first light,” Darius said. “Did you expect to sleep in? I’m afraid that’s not the way it works for Water Dogs.” He smiled, and we both knew it was fake. “I’m sorry if I’ve offended you in some way.”
I stared at him, at the dark hair plastered across his forehead, his stubborn mouth. He looked so human. And yet there was something in the way Darius held himself, perfectly at ease in his own skin. Still but coiled, like the wolves I’d seen in the mountains.
“You haven’t offended me in the least,” I said. “I suppose you need the blessing more than I do.”
I spun on my heel and walked away, knowing I had wounded him. A small stab to my own heart. And I felt slightly ashamed. But that wasn’t the end of it. Then I felt his satisfaction at my shame. And my own anger that he knew and was glad.
And then his amusement at my anger!
I stalked off, determined to think nothing, to feel nothing, ever again.
If only it were that easy.
Conflicted by Ruby Black Publication Date: April 27, 2016 Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
About Ruby BlackRuby Black is the pseudonym for a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She likes angsty romance, alpha males, and full bookshelves. Her novel Conflicted will be available April 27, 2016.
A Criminal Magic
GUEST POST by LEE KELLY:
The pitch for my latest book, A CRIMINAL MAGIC, is THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS, and for anyone who’s seen that twisty, violent BBC drama, you’ll know this means there’s some pretty hardened criminals in this one. My story takes place during an alternative Prohibition-era America, but instead of alcohol, magic has been prohibited. And just like during real Prohibition, gangsters have created an extensive, lucrative underworld to make sure people still get what they want, despite the letter of the law.
Because the magic in this novel is tricky and dangerous by nature, I knew I needed gangsters that weren’t just ruthless – these wise guys had to be clever, driven, and one step ahead of the sorcerers they employ in all aspects of their illegal trade. For inspiration and ideas, I naturally turned to history. Here are some of the notorious, hardnosed gangsters that most inspired me while writing A CRIMINAL MAGIC:
Owen “Owney” Madden was a New York gangster nicknamed “the Killer,” and aptly so as he was known for his very public executions. Madden more than once gunned down his rival gang members in the streets, and he allegedly shot a man on a trolley for flirting with his date. Despite being a hothead, he was also a shrewd businessman, and ran The Cotton Club (as well as some other swanky speakeasies) in New York City. In my novel, Erwin McEvoy, the boss of the Irish Shaw Gang, is loosely based on Madden (with a little Boo Boo Hoff thrown in there too. Boo Boo’s up next).
I have to admit, I was first attracted to Max “Boo Boo” Hoff because of his name, but the more I read about this Philly-based crime boss, the more fascinated I became. Hoff was a boxer turned gangster, and his bootlegging operation was so successful during Prohibition, it’s claimed he had an office of operations with 175 phones and a weekly payroll of $30,000 (in the 1920s)! Also known for his partying and extravagant lifestyle, Hoff frequently rubbed shoulders with celebrity types at his lavish affairs.
Also intriguing was Guiseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria, the head of the New York Italian-American mafia – the city’s powerful crime alliance known as the Five Families – during the later years of Prohibition. But Masseria was a bit of an underworld dictator: he even required monetary tributes from other Families as testaments of their loyalty. His reign naturally didn’t last: several families declared war on Masseria, which broke up the crime dynasty and led to his execution. I loosely based my novel’s Italian-American gang, the D Street Outfit, on Masseria’s New York operation.
And of course, no list of Prohibition-era gangsters would be complete without Al Capone. Though my novel’s young gangster-on-the-rise, Harrison Gunn, is actually nothing like media-hungry Capone was, I couldn’t believe that Capone was at the height of his power and became a Chicago crime boss in his mid-twenties. So I made Gunn younger (originally he was going to be middle-aged), to help rev up the tension between him and my female protagonist, Joan.
I'm a Texas gal with a wonderful husband, an amazing six year old son, and an adorable newborn baby boy!
Proud Tour Host For: