Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Spotlight~ Imprints by Natalie Acres

A brand new wolf-shifter series debuts today from Siren-Bookstrand and Natalie Acres

Dominant Wolves, Submissive Mates-Book One
Historical~BDSM~ Paranormal~ Ménage a Trois Romance~Werewolves
Spanking~ wax play~sex toys from a bygone era~bondage

Visit Natalie Acres at Siren Bookstrand:

Two pack masters discover an unyielding love in one woman by altering customs and forming new traditions destined to change the Wyoming Territory forever. Imprinting upon and sharing a lover, the Alphas realize their packs must join together, but they will face great opposition when their chosen mate is confronted with a wrenching decision.

Pack masters Frank Smith and Jock Corrigan aren’t enemies, but they aren’t exactly friends. Still, their similar fates have been altered by an unusual union they cannot deny. Their relationship with Carla Cassidy forces several wolves to make their independent choices. One will stand with the newly formed pack, but another will fall victim to his own selfish needs and motives. A group of new shifters will emerge and change the course of history, but not before the expanding pack’s goals are tested and tried.


“What are you doing here?” Carla asked, propping her tiny clenched fists on her hips.
“Far be it for you to show a little appreciation,” Jock said, studying the spitfire of a woman before them. Wearing a light blue prairie dress, Carla apparently hadn’t stopped to check out the torn fabric and soiled material.
“You were attacked by a pack of wolves. I arrived in time to run them off.” Jock stood a tad taller with his announcement. Most women appreciated heroic efforts.
She paled then as he spoke. She looked down at the evidence of a ruined dress and her hands twitched.
“How did this happen?” Carla asked, suggesting her memory had failed her.
“You must’ve had a nasty bump on the head if you don’t remember,” Grant told her.
She held the heel of her hand to her forehead. “Everything is a bit foggy.”
“Well, don’t you fret none, Carla. We took care of ya.” Grant shot Jock a quick glance. “Yep, siree. Me and Jock here handled everything.”
Jock was beginning to think whenever there was a “yep, siree,” added to Grant’s speech it was nothing more than a bald-faced tale.
“Do you remember going to the barn?” Jock asked.
Carla took a minute before she answered. As if she suddenly recalled something of interest, her cheeks turned pink and she said, “I may have already been in the barn.”
Grant shot her a wink and a lopsided nod. “That was my best estimation, too.”
“Dear God,” Jock grumbled, beginning to believe Grant must’ve considered himself the most intelligent man in the West.
“Here’s how I figure things went down. Those wolves heard a lot of activity, maybe even some squealin’ and carryin’ on comin’ from the barn…” He paused and arched a brow. “How am I doin’ so far?”
Carla stared at him with this perplexed look which made Jock wonder all the more. Had Grant really watched Carla in action with these wicked props he’d mentioned?
“That’s all right, sweetness. Don’t worry ’bout a reply. I can make heads and tails out of this. Anyhow, you were in the barn doin’ whatever it is that you do out there—in the loft—and well, what I came up with after a-prowlin’ around is that you were makin’ a little too much noise.” He stood taller and his lips spread into a mischievous smile. Leaning against Jock, he added a whisper, “How’d I do? Did ya like that?”
Jock studied the pretty lady. “Carla? How close was Grant’s guess?”
“What sort of squealing?” Carla arched a brow and watched them through suspicious eyes.
Grant shrugged. “That voice of yours is as fine as cream gravy when you go to hollerin’ and such.”
“Grant,” Jock muttered, giving his buddy a one-word warning he would inevitably ignore.
Copping a strut, Grant approached the porch, working what little swagger he possessed. “Come on, Carla. You know what I mean. You can’t kick up a row and expect no one to hear ya. I ain’t been a man for all these years for nothin’. I can spot an experienced woman.” He cupped his ear, slung his arm off to the left, and quickly added, “And I can hear one from way over yonder.”
Before Jock had a chance to smooth things over, a disgusted gasp fell from Carla’s mouth. “Well I’ve never in my life.”
“Me neither,” Grant admitted. “But after what I’ve witnessed, I’d be the first man to say you are a soiled dove to the manner born. And I’d be the first to mention yer geared up to teach even an experienced fella a thing or two.”
Carla’s eyes filled with tears. Before Jock saw the slap coming, she opened her hand and her palm connected with Grant’s cheek.
“I don’t know who you think you are, Grant Ford, but if you’re trying to make a mash on me, I can promise you, I’m not impressed!”
Grant stared back at her with wide eyes. “Surely to God you ain’t offended.”
“I am indeed!”
And of course after that, Miss Carla Cassidy did what Jock suspected she might. She walked inside, slammed the door in their faces, and never so much as bothered to say good-bye.
“Happy now?” Jock asked, without blinking an eye.
“I like ’em a little hot under the collar. Trust me, friend. I know what I’m doin’. Let’s go for a run. When we get back, she’ll be fit to be tied—and I mean that in the literal sense.”
Jock couldn’t help but think about Grant’s earlier words. One of these days, Carla would open the door and greet her husband. Considering what had transpired, Jock had a feeling she’d slam that door just as quickly if she thought her potential suitor was named Grant Ford. 

Copyright ©2013 Natalie Acres
Visit Natalie Acres at Siren Bookstrand for an adult M/F/M excerpt:
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Welcome Brita Addams today/Book Tour Contest

Creating the Yummy

I've read all my life, from the time I could hold a book. I love to get lost in another place, another time. I have always enjoyed the romantic in fiction. However, for many years, I was, and still am, grounded in reality. I love biographies and have literally read thousands. While I cut my teeth on Trixie Belden mysteries, I devoured bios—movie stars, presidents, first ladies. As I look back, the first biography I read was about Helen Keller, and I was hooked on reality reading.

Perhaps that is why I had such a difficult time entrenching myself in fiction. The more improbable, the less enjoyable a story is for me. I suppose that's why I have a difficult time with paranormal reading. I can't fathom it and my mind doesn't allow me to open up to shifters and werewolves. Vampires are entirely different, but they have to be loveable and of a different ilk. Go figure, huh?

When I started reading romance novels, I knew I had found my fictional niche. I don't read them to escape my life, because I have a wonderful hero of my own, to whom I've been married for a considerable number of years. Perhaps, because he is the man he is, I can lose myself in fictional romance and not wish the hero was my own.

However, to create a hero that women or men will drool over, now that is satisfying work. When I was a teenager, my walls were papered with pages torn from movie and teen music magazines. Frankie Avalon, Ricky Nelson, Dion, along with Rock Hudson, Troy Donahue, Tab Hunter, all made up my dreamboat faction. I wasn’t a big Elvis fan at that time, while my schoolmates were.

Often, when I'm creating a hero, or as some like to call them, The Yummy, I harken back to those days and snatch attributes from Frankie (his hair,) Ricky (those full lips,) or Rock (his smile.)

The rest however, is less superficial, because I've lived a few years past teenage, and I know that looks fade, but true character lives forever.

While a fictional hero needs to be above human capability, (you'd think paranormal would appeal to me more than it does,) he must have compassion, be gentlemanly to a point, caring to a fault, strong beyond measure, astute, and handsome beyond handsome. Yes, he can have flaws, and should, but he must recognize them and use them to advantage.

My characters are a composite of my ideal man. I also know, that perfection doesn't really exist, so in creating it, I must make the hero so human that the reader sees the perfection shining through.

For me, I admire a man who can cry—appropriately. Whiney or overly emotional men do not fall into the hero category for me. I have great difficulty with guys who cry at the drop of a hat or who are too clingy. But a man who can show appropriate emotion has me at Go.

Men come in all shapes and sizes, and many don't appear particularly heroic, if we use the word to describe the male lead. By definition, a hero is "someone who commits an act of remarkable bravery or has shown an admirable quality such as great courage or strength of character." Yes, that is what I'm screaming.

Strength of character. The guy doesn't have to slay dragons, but he does have to appear as though he could if called upon. He should know what he is about and face it with uncompromising courage. That could mean going after the person he wants, taking care of his family, giving more than anyone else when it comes to his job. Putting others before himself, taking a bullet for someone he cares for.

Integrity and honor. Strength of his convictions. He doesn't have to be a superhero. For me, a real life hero is someone who drags himself out of bed each day, determined to do what he must. He does it as well as he can. He smiles and has a kind word, a loving word for the person he shares his life with. He isn't too prideful to hold the hand of the one he loves, nor does he back down when challenged.

He holds his head up high and is proud of the life he's created and above all, he can take the praise he so richly deserves.

When an author writes those kinds of heroes, I'm there. I'm sold. I'm in love from page one. Add a bit of realism to the mix. Not all Yummies are tall, dark and handsome. Some are short, quiet, and graying. No less heroic, however.

Sample some of my heroes in my latest releases:

 Here's the blurb for Tarnished Gold:

In 1915, starstruck Jack Abadie strikes out for the gilded streets of the most sinful town in the country—Hollywood. With him, he takes a secret that his country hometown would never understand. 

After years of hard work and a chance invitation to a gay gentlemen's club, Jack is discovered. Soon, his talent, matinee idol good looks, and affable personality propel him to the height of stardom. But fame breeds distrust. 

Meeting Wyatt Maitland turns Jack’s life upside down. He wants to be worthy of his good fortune, but old demons haunt him. Only through Wyatt's strength can Jack face that which keeps him from being the man he wants to be. Love without trust is empty. 

As the 1920s roar, scandals rock the movie industry. Public tolerance of Hollywood's decadence has reached its limit. Under pressure to clean up its act, Jack’s studio issues an ultimatum. Either forsake the man he loves and remain a box office darling, or follow his heart and let his shining star fade to tarnished gold.

Read an excerpt and purchase the Tarnished Gold ebook or print, signed by the author (if one of the first twenty sold.)

I also have For Men Like Us, which takes place during the Regency in England. You can find it at Dreamspinner Press. Just click the title to be magically transported.

Blurb for For Men Like Us:

After Preston Meacham’s lover dies trying to lend him aid at Salamanca, hopelessness becomes his only way of life. Despite his best efforts at starting again, he has no pride left, which leads him to sell himself for a pittance at a molly house. The mindless sex affords him his only respite from the horrors he witnessed.

The Napoleonic War left Benedict Wilmot haunted by the acts he was forced to commit and the torture he endured at the hands of a superior, a man who used the threat of a gruesome death to force Ben to do his bidding. Even sleep gives Ben no reprieve, for he can’t escape the destruction he caused.

When their paths cross, Ben feels an overwhelming need to protect Preston from his dangerous profession. As he explains, “The streets are dangerous for men like us.”

About Brita Addams:

Born in Upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. Brita's home is a happy place, where she lives with her real-life hero, her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee.

She writes, for the most part, erotic historical romance, both het and m/m, which is an ideal fit, given her love of British and American history. Setting the tone for each historical is important. Research plays an indispensible part in the writing of any historical work, romance or otherwise. A great deal of reading and study goes into each work, to give the story the authenticity it deserves.

As a reader, Brita prefers historical works, romances and otherwise. She believes herself born in the wrong century, though she says she would find it difficult to live without air conditioning.

Brita and her husband love to travel, particularly cruises and long road trips. They completed a Civil War battlefield tour a couple of years ago, and have visited many places involved in the American Revolutionary War.

In May, 2013, they are going to England for two weeks, to visit the places Brita writes about in her books, including the estate that inspired the setting for her Sapphire Club series. Not the activities, just the floor plan. J

A bit of trivia – Brita pronounces her name, B-Rita, like the woman's name, and oddly, not like the famous water filter.

Please visit me at any of these online locations:

Twitter: @britaaddams


      E-book giveaways at each stop. Random commenter's choice from my backlist (Tarnished Gold excluded)
     Signed 8x10 glossies of Jack Abadie

Grand Prize is a Kindle, along with the winner's choice of five (5) of my backlist titles, sent to them by email.


Easy. Leave a comment at one or all the stops. At each stop, a random commenter will be selected to win their choice of backlist book (Tarnished Gold excluded.) This selection will be made daily throughout the tour, except where blog owners wish to extend the eligibility. Be sure to leave an email address in your comment. 

All names of commenters and their email addresses will be put into the drawing for the Kindle, even if they have won the daily drawing. The more comments you make the more chances you have to win.

Other prizes include five (5) 8x10 glossies of Jack Abadie, signed. The winners will be selected on April 10, from all the commenters at all the stops, and notified by email.

The Grand Prize winner will be selected on April 10th and notified by email. Once I have heard from the winner and obtained a shipping address, I will order the Kindle and have it shipped directly to the winner. They will also be eligible to select five (5) of my backlist titles and I will email them to the winner.

Contest valid in the United States.

Full schedule for the Tarnished Gold Virtual Book Tour

Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Tour Stop~High Stakes by Cheryl Douglas/Contest

High Stakes by Cheryl Douglas
Nashville Nights Next generation, Book One

Former party girl, Alisa Turner, made a deal with her daddy, Trey. He’ll provide the seed money for her new business venture as long as she promises to stay out of trouble. Too bad her good intentions tumble 30,000 feet when she meets a sexy stranger on a flight to sin city.

Hotel mogul, Liam Bryson, has never believed in love at first sight, but when a sexy little siren twenty years his junior tempts him into a night of high stakes Blackjack, he’s suddenly playing for keeps.

Alisa wakes up in Liam’s bed the next morning, cursing Tequila and the five carat diamond on her left hand. She demands an annulment before her over-protective father finds out she reneged on their agreement, but her new hubby isn’t prepared to let her go without a fight.

 Teaser Excerpt:

Liam Bryson cursed his big mouth. Speaking his mind was part of who he was, and he knew people judged him because of it. They’d called him opinionated, arrogant, insufferable, stubborn—the list went on, but those qualities helped him build one of the most exclusive boutique hotel chains in the world, so he refused to apologize for the attributes that made him successful.

But when he realized his unwarranted opinion had offended Alisa, he immediately wished he could retract his words. He’d lumped her in with all of the other women he’d dated, and it was obvious to him in the few moments they spent together that she was nothing like them. She was special. He didn’t know how he knew, and he didn’t question it. He trusted his instincts, and he knew he had to find a way to get back into her good graces, because even if he never saw her again after their plane touched down, he didn’t want her to think poorly of him.

He hadn’t considered another person’s opinion of him in years, and he’d never, ever gone out of his way to impress a lady. He’d never had to, not when the prospect of accessing his bank account seemed to be the only enticement they needed.

He stood up to let Alisa slide into her window seat and impulse prompted him to settle his hands on her waist and pull her flush against his chest as he whispered in her ear, “I’m sorry.”

Tour Contest Giveaway:

Follow the tour and leave comments at each stop to be entered to win one of these wonderful prizes.

Cheryl will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn host. She'll be awarding the following prizes to randomly drawn commenters during the tour:

* two $20 Amazon Gift Cards
* ten trading card/cover flat packs (US/Canada)
* ten eBooks from the Nashville Nights series (winner's choice)
* two sterling silver necklaces (US/Canada)

For all the tour stops, go HERE

About the Author:

Cheryl began her professional career as a nutritionist, but her love of books started at an early age. She studied writing for many years before she decided to pursue her passion as a full-time career. After receiving constructive criticism from several well-known authors, Cheryl finally had the confidence to write her first romance novel.

The first book in the Nashville Nights series, Shameless, was a book that had been dwelling in Cheryl’s subconscious for years. For her, the surprise came when the manuscript began taking on a life of its own. Characters came to life, secondary characters became more prominent, outlines were forgotten, and a single title evolved into an eight book series, and another eight book spin-off series entitled Nashville Nights, Next Generation.

One word would aptly describe Cheryl: workaholic. She lives and breathes her writing, when she’s sleeping, watching TV, driving, reading… it’s always in the periphery of her mind. Her imagination rarely takes a holiday, even when she escapes to a sandy beach with her husband and son, she’s planning, plotting, outlining, and daydreaming.

Cheryl feels blessed to be able to get up every day and do something she loves. The thousands of fans who have embraced the Nashville Nights have made that possible. She writes for the readers who ask for more, she writes to satisfy the muse residing inside of her, but most of all, she writes because she couldn’t imagine doing anything else with her life. It took her thirty-seven years to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up, but now that she knows, she’s convinced she’s found her purpose.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Personal Review for T.A. Webb's City Knight

I have to admit, I am not much of a fan for pulp fiction but after reading this, I got to admit I am hooked! 

My Rating for City Knight: Four Stars

Ex-cop Marcus walks the streets, heartbroken and determined to keep the area around his home free from the druggies, pimps and other bad seeds that populate a big city. His heart safe behind the wall he built when his lover/partner died in a freak mugging turned murder has left Ben feeling broken, alone. That is until a cute blond waif starts to make him feel again.

Ben is determined to not let anyone close to him. After a devastating crime that has left him broken inside, he sells himself twice a week to help pay for his last year of college. When a potential customer doesn’t take no for an answer, Ben finds himself looking into a pair of eyes that warms his frozen heart. But can these two broken men find a way to trust in love once again? And what happens when Ben’s past comes back to haunt him?

Author T.A. Webb delivers a pulse pounding ride from start to finish. In this introduction to a new series by Mr. Webb, we meet Ben and Marcus, two people who have had pain in their lives. One who just wants to move forward while the other just wants to stay in the past. The question the readers as well as Marcus and Ben will have to figure out is that in order to move forward, you need to deal with the past. I have to stress this is one short novella, about forty pages or so and Mr. Webb packs enough angst, emotion and yummy scorching sex to keep the reader glued to the pages until the very end. This is the first part of a trilogy and yes, the ending will leave you going ‘huh?’ and “that is it?” but I promise you will race to see if part two is out yet. I know I did.

Author T.A. Webb has a way with words that transport you as you read. To the hot steamy streets of Atlanta to the shadows that deepen as the night goes on. This is a story that will steal your breath away from the first page to the last. The characters are very well written, achingly vulnerable-even the main characters may not think so and a storyline that leaves you wondering what happens next. The main characters, Ben and Marcus are terrifyingly real, so much so I had to put down the book a few times to wipe away the tears after reading some moments the characters experienced that hurt me deeply for them. This is an author who is on his way to being a masterful storyteller, one who leaves their readers left wanting more and achingly vulnerable. The sex between Marcus and Ben is hot, tender and healing. Both men bring something to the other that they achingly need, that they deny themselves even as they long for it. It is a story full of emotions, grit, angst, reality and so much more I could go on for hours about City Knight. 

If you enjoy gritty, realistic stories then you will love City Knight. I just caution you that this is a three part story so hang on and enjoy the story as you race along side Marcus and Ben to their happily ever after. I just warn you, you will get sucked in and won’t want to put it down. Mr. Webb is a talented author who is on the fast track of becoming one of m/m’s biggest stars in the field. Well done, Mr. Webb for crafting a story that steals the readers heart and leaves them eager for more.

You can find City Knight at All Romance / Amazon KIndle

My Personal Review for The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

When I saw that one of my favorite young adult authors is venturing into the world of vampires, well let's just say I was intrigued to see what she does with it. Get ready for The Blood Of Eden series, a dark dystopian paranormal series that will leave you breathless.

My Rating for The Immortal Rules: Five Stars and a recommended read

The world has changed and vampires rule as humans become their food supply or human cattle. Allison Sekemoto lives on the fringe as it is called, the outskirts of a vampire town, scavenging for food and trying to stay out of the vampire’s way. There are days where she hates with a passion the vampires and what they do to the humans who are their cattle. Until the day Allie is attacked and given a choice-become a vampire or die. Allie now has to learn the rules at being an Immortal and finding out that is you go long enough without human blood, you can literally go insane. But when she is forced to leave the vampire town and go into the unknown beyond it, she falls into a rebel group searching for a mythical cure, one that will cure the disease that killed most of the humans as well as created the rabids, a group of beings that hunt human and vampires alike. But pretending to be human as a vampire is harder than it looks and when Allie meets the human Zeke, she finds herself drawn to the young man even as she tries to keep hidden she is one of the vampires from everyone around her.

Julie Kagawa is one young adult author that I have on auto-buy no matter what. With her trademark writing style, she gives the readers a new series to sink their teeth into. This time she takes the tired vampire genre and turns it inside out and upside down with a new series that will blow you away from the first page. With a fast paced story-line  the reader is drawn into a dystopian world where vampires are the rulers and humans are either blood cattle or rebels hiding from the vampires as they try to survive. This is one story that you won’t want to put down. I know I didn't not until the wee hours of the morning as I just had to find out what happens next for Allie and the rest of this amazing cast of characters.

I got to admit I really enjoyed Allie. She is strong & determined to survive regardless of the cost. Her interactions with the fabulous cast of characters in The Immortal Rules is downright enthralling. She has days where surviving is the only thing she thinks of and other days, hating with a passion the vampires who have turned the last of the humans into their blood source. But Allie’s world changes when she is attacked and given a choice- Die or become one of the vampires. Determined to live no matter what, Allie becomes a vampire and her world changes into someplace where the rules are ever changing and if you go long enough without human blood, you can become insane. This is an author where her world building is just phenomenal and who knows her world inside and out as she delivers such a diverse cast of characters, you can't help but fall in love with them. The characters grow on you-there is no ‘instant fall in love from page one’ characters….here we get to know them slowly and steadily. This is the author’s perfection besides her fabulous storytelling. 

The Immortal Rules is a beautifully well written story that gives the reader a glimpse into a world where there is  no laws governing the  masses, no food or shelter and what humans are left after the Red Lung disease wipes out over seventy percent of the population, well let's just say life isn't on easy street after that. Ms. Kagawa is one author you need to have on your auto buy list and I am eager to see what happens next for Allison and the rest of the cast of characters we met in this first book. 

If you enjoy a new paranormal young adult series that leaves you glued tot he pages until the wee hours of the night, then grab this first book in The Blood of Eden series and settle in for one wild ride from start to finish. I can't wait to see what is next in The Eternity Cure, coming in April 2013.

Coming April 2013...the next chapter in the gripping dark vampire series.....

The Eternity Cure, Book two
Harlequin Teen
Paranormal, Dark Dystopian series, Young Adult

Who are you trying to fool? People are food. ... You're not any less of a monster than I am." -Jackal
Newly-turned vampire Allison Sekemoto must follow the call of blood, like breadcrumbs, to save her sire and mentor Kanin from Sarren, the psychotic vampire holding him captive. The trail leads Allie to her old home in New Covington and the Fringe, but there’s no time for nostalgia.
A new strain of Red Lung—the insidious virus that decimated the human population decades ago—has emerged. This time, it’s fatal to vampires, too. A cure might be among Kanin’s many secrets—if Allie reach him in time. 
But when the brave, fearless human boy she left safely behind re-enters her life, Allie is torn between the remnants of her humanity and the bloodthirst that consumes her. How can two people so different feel so much for each other? One was born good. The other was reborn a monster. It’s a love as undeniable as it is impossible.


 When at a party where there are people I don't know, I am in an element that instigates my imagination.  What to say becomes the direct pay-off of how people I meet make me feel or the situation of the moment.  It can be like an improv class.  Of course it is appropriate but unexpected by most.  But does it start out that way?  Nope!  I sit back and study the group.  I ask myself questions.  Why are those two together?  Is he wearing eye shadow or do his upper lids have just a natural blue hue?  

Z: I remember him.
A: You weren't at that party.
Z: Yes, I was.  They served those huge spare ribs, hand rubbed, with a bit of a bite to them.
A: Oh, yeah, they were good, but still wrong party.  That was the football get-together.  The one I am talking about was when was a baby shower.
Z: I went to that one, great crab dip.
A: Nope, that was the New Year's Eve post-eve party.
Z: Five cheese fundue?
A: Why do you equate everything with food?
Z: (Ponders) Aren't we getting off track?
A: (Doesn't remind him he didn't answer the question, for they are.  Ummm....yup...back to the pontification.  
A/Z: Tries to decide who is writing what.

Anywho, I think about things like, what is she wearing beneath that dress... what could she  possibly be wearing... it is too sheer... is she a grannie panty person... a sheer oh lala naughty under thing sort? 

I see a couple.  I figure that they are young and in love.  So what is the truth of their youth?  What does he smell like?  What does she?  How long did they spend getting ready?  What does she/he taste like when they kiss?  Does she/he taste different inpublic then in private?  Who is alpha?  Would she ask?  Beg?  Take?  Would he?  Have they ever danced nude... at night... and in the rain... why... why not?  Does he naturally take her hand when people encroach?  Does she find protection from him?  Does she glow?  Does he?  But do they glow apart?  Is there a kinetic attraction that is felt when they are separated?  Could anyone sense their affinity for each other? 

One of the greatest quotes that I heard uttered, moved me.  "I saw her across the room (at a party) and the only voice I heard was hers.  Heard her all night.  So I had to meet her."  Ten years later they are together.  I find myself compelled to understand attraction.  I am drawn to that allure.  

I can't help but make up stories about people, whether a couple or an old man, or a classy lady or a doorman or a student...or...or...or....  What brought them to this place and time?  What was their childhood like.  Why do they look so sad...angry...happy...tipsy...saucy?  Why?  Why?  People see me as quiet at times, for I need to venture in that land of what if for a while.  I don't do this just at parties, but at parks and malls and coffee shops.  

However, for a period of time when at a party, I am a voyeur and then I mingle.  And try to resolve some of my questions.  I try to get at the truth, knowing all the while if I steal a bit of a person's personality for a character, it will be salted well with my own little white lies.  So, while others dance, small-talk, and double-dip their chips, I query.  I'll ask the hostess how could she possibly pull that dress off,  wearing spandex undies?  And if I am lucky she'll reply, she will laugh.  Sometimes, I'll get a look that suggests I'll never get invited back.

And so the night begins.  Asking questions maybe everyone else wanted to ask.  Doesn't Max understand his toupee looks anything but natural?  Hey bud, your merkin is moving to high ground?  Could Wayne have worn a shirt with more wrinkles?  Own an iron that works?  And does Paula know every old geezer is ogling her blouse's décolleté?  I bet she knows.  Go Paula.  I'll ask. 

Then again, sometimes, I just pretend to ask and make up my own answers.  Hence, the seeds of a few new characters are planted.


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog Dawn - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi KILLER DOLLS ~ SNAKE DANCE ~

Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane STEEL EMBRACE


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Spotlight~ Demon's Daughter

The Demon's Daughter by Paula Altenburg
Demon Outlaws series, Book One
Entangled Publishing
Paranormal, Demons

After demons leave the world in ruins, the Demon Slayer, Hunter, is the only man capable of protecting it. But when he’s hired to bring a thief to justice, Hunter gets more than he’d bargained for.
Raised in an abandoned temple as a priestess’s daughter, Airie is unaware that she is the half-breed spawn of a demon…and a goddess. In a time when half-breeds are despised by mortal and immortal alike, Airie’s ignorance of her true bloodlines is the only thing keeping her safe. Especially since spending her days wrestling the required sacrifices from visitors of the Goddesses’ mountain where she grew up doesn’t make her many allies.
But everything changes when Hunter tracks her down and discovers who she really is. With a demon attack forcing them to flee the mountain, Airie must place her trust in a man who believes she should never have been born. And with a demon uprising threatening the lives only he can save, Hunter must make a choice: abandon Airie to an uncertain fate, or slay his own personal demons and love her for who she truly is.
Teaser excerpt:
Year 352 PD
Inside Demon Territory
Hunter slapped the length of his toe-grazing leather duster, sending a shower of fine red silt into the air around him. It was a habit learned from his mother a long time ago in another life, and one he had never seen the need to break—removing the desert dirt before entering an establishment.
Even an establishment in a place like Freetown, where niceties weren’t the rule of the day.
Dusk was settling in, and the saloon would soon prepare to close. No honest man stayed out after dark. If they weren’t afraid of thieves, they were terrified of demons. Hunter wanted this meeting over with so he, too, could be on his way.
With his hat dangling by its straps between his shoulder blades, Hunter pushed open the swinging door. The dim interior of the saloon meant anyone framed in the doorway was backlit by the setting sun and virtually blinded. Sidestepping to the right, he brushed back his duster, keeping his hand close to the six-shooter at his hip. The short sword strapped to his back came in handy for those times when a gunshot might attract too much unwanted attention, but in a saloon, loud weapons made the better deterrents. And faster, cleaner kills.
A sword, however, worked best against demons if a man was willing to fight them up close. And Hunter wasn’t known as the Demon Slayer for nothing.
The smells of ale-soaked pine, smoked meats, and stale tobacco thickened the air. He remained with his back to the raw wooden wall while his eyes adjusted to the change in the light. When they did, he nodded to Blade, the tall, stone-faced man behind the bar.
Blade, polishing the glass in his hand with a pristine white cloth, acknowledged Hunter with the slightest drop of his chin. Hunter let his gaze drift around the near-empty room, searching for the one he’d been summoned to meet.
A man with a long, ugly red scar down the side of an even uglier face slouched on a stool at the bar. Hunter noted and dismissed him. The women who worked in the saloon had already retired to the second floor. A few stragglers sat at well-spaced tables, showing signs of imminent departure. Once the front door was locked, it was locked for the night. Blade did not encourage overnight business, and anyone who wanted it paid a significant price.
A lone woman sat in the single booth in one shadowed corner of the room. Twisted and misshapen, dressed in a man’s greatcoat and coarse woolen trousers, she hunched in her seat, unbothered by the other patrons. It wasn’t her appearance that kept her from harassment. Being a priestess protected her far better than simple ugliness ever could, for priestesses served as the only law this side of the Godseekers’ mountains. They were all that stood between the people and the demons, and in their own way, they were far more ruthless than the basest of cutthroats.
This one was the worst of the lot, and the client Hunter had come here to meet. Mamna was her name, and he didn’t like her. He didn’t like that she had made a deal with the Demon Lord, one that put her in her current position of power. He didn’t like that laws were being written by a woman who had no use for other women.
And he did not like being summoned.
The nails in his boot heels echoed on the whitewashed floor as he walked to the priestess’s table. He didn’t miss the sneer of disgust twisting Scarface’s lips as Hunter passed him. Men knew better than to show open contempt for the priestess, but anyone who dealt with her was another matter.
Hunter committed Scarface to memory. It was good to have an idea of who might try to plant a knife in his back. Or die trying.
He slid onto the bench across the battered table from the priestess. The amulet around his neck grew warm, but Hunter ignored it. It indicated the priestess had been in recent contact with a demon, a fact that did not surprise him as much as it left him with a bad taste in his mouth.
Hunter knew why Mamna wanted to meet with him in a public place. She wanted everyone in Freetown to know that she was conducting business with the Demon Slayer, and that there were certain laws in the land even the Slayer could be made to respect.
That was why Hunter had kept this meeting to a time when as few people as possible were likely to see them. He respected the law, such as it was. But he hated demons and all who associated with them, and Mamna knew it.
With watery, pale-blue eyes lodged in an aging face withered and burned from a hard life in a harsh desert, the priestess examined Scarface at the bar before acknowledging Hunter.
“If he takes offense at your speaking with a priestess, try not to kill him,” she said. “But go ahead and hurt him a little.”
Hunter allowed his own eyes to turn to ice. “I never kill unless I have to.” It was a less-than-subtle reminder that, while Hunter might be persuaded to take a contract from the priestess, he would do so on his own terms. He rested one palm on the table, keeping his other hand out of her line of vision. “Why have you summoned me here?”
Scarface continued to watch him, but Blade, Hunter knew, would be watching Scarface on his behalf.
It paid to have good friends.
“There is a thief at large on the goddesses’ mountain,” Mamna said.
Hunter shrugged. “There are thieves everywhere. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Besides, the goddesses are long gone and their temple is abandoned. What difference will one thief make to anyone?”
Another subtle jab on Hunter’s part. The priestesses—Mamna in particular—didn’t like to be reminded of the goddesses’ departure. It represented betrayal.
“The mountain is forbidden,” Mamna said. She rubbed a gnarled hand over her shaven head.
“Then this thief does your work for you. If he’s successful at his chosen profession, people will learn to leave the mountain alone, and he will have to move on.”
“The thief is a woman.”
Hunter laughed out loud. “More power to her.” At the bar, Scarface tightened his grip on his drink and Hunter lowered his voice. “If she thieves on the mountain, she is more than likely one of your own.”
“She is not a priestess.”
Mamna sounded definite about that, and Hunter had to admit he was growing intrigued. A woman on the mountain who stole from trespassers? What kind of woman would she be?
A hideous one, no doubt. Probably bitter as the priestesses about it, too. Women judged themselves far harder than men, although from what he’d seen, beauty didn’t get them much in this world.
Mamna pulled a small pouch from a pocket in her greatcoat and slid it to Hunter. He lifted the pouch. It was heavier than it looked, meaning it contained mostly, if not all, gold coins.
Which also meant he was being overpaid.
“There’s more to this story,” Hunter said flatly.
Mamna had the nerve to feign righteousness. “She is ambushing innocents, most likely supplicants to the temple. All you have to do is capture her and bring her here to face justice.”
That did not explain the coins. Hunter disliked that Mamna might think his reluctance to accept this task sprang from not wanting to bring a woman to so-called justice. It would give her a weakness to use against him in future negotiations. He tossed the pouch in the palm of his hand. The coins clinked dully.
Gold. Definitely gold.
“This is a great deal of money for bringing in one woman.” Hunter waited for an answer he believed, or at least one he was willing to accept.
At the bar Blade made a production of putting glasses away. “Closing time,” he said to Scarface.
Scarface grunted. “There are two others still here.”
“Those two have no need to fear demons.” The shutters on the windows rattled to emphasize Blade’s point. Everyone knew that when the wind blew from the west, demons rode with it, calling a challenge to mortals very few could resist. “I require a great deal of cash up front if you want to spend the entire night here. A great deal. So my next question is, how much do you need to fear them?”
Scarface tossed a few coins on the bar, hitched up the back of his dust-crusted trousers, and left through the swinging doors.
Mamna cleared her throat, drawing Hunter’s attention back to her. For the first time, she appeared uneasy. “This is no ordinary woman.”
Hunter regarded her for a long moment. “Rule number one—no surprises.”
“There will not be any,” she reassured him, which didn’t reassure him at all.
He dropped the pouch on the table. It landed with a heavy thud. He pushed it toward the priestess with his fingertips. “Rule number two—don’t lie to me.”
Mamna ignored the pouch. She met his eyes. “It is claimed she has demon blood. If that’s true, she must be turned over to the Demon Lord, as per my agreement with him.”
Only a great deal of discipline kept Hunter from allowing the revulsion that shivered up his spine to show on his face. Men hated demons, and demons hated men, but spawn, who carried the blood of both, were hated by all. They belonged to no world. Even Hunter had no problem with the Demon Lord claiming one because a demon would not allow it to live either.
But the claim that the thief was spawn had to be true, and Hunter did not believe it was.
“Impossible,” he said. “She’s a woman.”
Mamna’s wrinkled face smoothed as her eyebrows lifted. “Is it impossible?” she asked. “Can you know this for certain?”
All Hunter knew for certain was that Mamna hated women more than anyone hated spawn, and for whatever reason, she wanted this woman dead. He did not believe her, and he should not take this job.
But if he didn’t, someone else would. And to think of an innocent woman being handed over to demons was more than his stomach could handle.
Was Mamna testing him somehow? Could he afford for her to suspect a weakness about him that she would, in all likelihood, use against him in the future?
He scanned his memory for anything he might have given away in the past. He had left behind everything he’d ever valued years ago so that he would have no such weaknesses to betray. Only Blade could be considered a true friend, and Hunter had no concerns for him or his safety.
He also had no concerns over Blade’s loyalty. Hunter had found him in the desert some years ago, fighting a losing battle with a demon driven wild by the taste of his blood. Hunter had killed the demon and saved Blade’s life, although not before the demon had bitten a large chunk of flesh from Blade’s right leg. While no longer as agile as he’d once been, Blade was still quite capable of taking care of himself, and a close ally.
No, Mamna had no hold on Hunter. He intended to keep it that way.
He reclaimed the money pouch and slipped it into an inside pocket. He rose to his feet, wanting this meeting to be over and done with so he could think.
“How much time do I have?” he asked her.
“As long as necessary.” She shrugged. “No longer.”
Which meant not much time beyond what she thought it would take him to travel, two or three weeks at most, but Hunter wasn’t concerned about that. He’d take whatever time he deemed necessary, then a little more. It never paid to seem too cooperative.
Mamna hopped from her seat without a word of good-bye and shuffled from the saloon, the hem of her ill-fitting greatcoat dragging on the floor.
Blade closed the heavier exterior doors behind her. He then dropped an iron bar into place, barricading them in.
“Thirsty?” he asked Hunter.
The wind picked up, and Hunter hoped the townspeople had gotten themselves locked up in time. On nights like this demons sought pleasure in their demon forms, and pleasure, to them, meant killing men and violating women.
While Blade slung a kettle on a hook inside the large fireplace to heat water, Hunter went around the room and latched all the shutters in place.
“Do the women have their windows closed?” he asked Blade. Three whores called the saloon home. They worked when they wanted, and with whom they pleased. Blade offered them protection and a roof, and in return, they helped with the cooking and cleaning.
“Of course.”
The kettle hissed and soon began to steam.
“One of these days,” Blade said, “that ugly little priestess will pay someone to plant a knife in your back.”
Hunter grabbed a broom from behind the bar to sweep the floor. “Dying of old age is overrated.”
“Perhaps. But you seem to have forgotten that living to an old age is not.” Blade dropped a metal ball filled with fragrant loose tea into the hot water, then lifted the kettle from the fire with a long hook. He carried it to the bar. “What did the evil little troll want from you?”
Hunter told him, and he frowned.
“She’s made it no secret that she no longer serves the goddesses. She has no reason to do demon work either. Neither do you. She’s lying to you for some purpose of her own. You know how she feels about women. You shouldn’t take her work.”
Hunter had learned long ago to trust Blade’s instincts. He’d also learned to work around them. He leaned on the broom and faced his friend. “If I don’t take it someone else will, and they might not care whether or not this woman truly is spawn. What would you have me do—abandon those who are still innocent in this goddessforsaken world?”
Blade produced two sturdy mugs and set them on the bar. “I wouldn’t have you abandon anyone. But how do you determine who is worth saving and who is not? That kind of choice does something to your soul.” Blade took a cloth and wiped the varnished surface. “Sometimes I wonder if you’ve also forgotten what true justice really is.”
Hunter often wondered the same thing himself. He had grown hard over the years, to the point where he did not always recognize the man who looked back at him from the shaving mirror.
Speaking of shaving…
He scratched at the scruff on his jaw.
“People are asking questions about you,” Blade continued, interrupting Hunter’s thoughts.
“That’s nothing new.” He was the Demon Slayer. That inspired questions. There was always someone trying to take his place.
Some days, he’d gladly let them.
“These questions are new. They have to do with your family.”
Hunter went still. He tried to think if he had ever let anything slip, and could not come up with a single instance. He had never visited his sisters, nor spoken of them. Not in all the years since he had fled from the Borderlands. Not even to Blade.
He tried to dismiss his unease. “Forget about it. Everyone comes from somewhere. People wonder if I have anyone I might want to protect. If I have a weakness. They won’t find any.”
When he finished sweeping the saloon floor, he took a seat near his friend at the bar.
Blade passed him a steaming mug of fragrant tea brewed from desert lavender. Hunter blew on it, watching the ripples crease its mud-brown surface, then took a slow sip to savor the taste. Neither he nor Blade touched alcohol. In their businesses, men who drank did not live long.
“I have something for you,” Hunter said.
He reached in his pocket and withdrew a thick chunk of plastic, an artifact that predated the demons to a time when the world was filled with large cities and millions of people. While the wind had buried most of the ruins, it often turned up little things such as this, and these items were worth money to the right traders. Whenever Hunter found any in the desert, he brought them to Blade, who in turn sold the artifacts and split the profits among Hunter, himself, and the women.
Blade took the artifact from him, rolled it around in his long fingers, then dropped it into a box hidden behind the counter. He continued to stand, taking a sip from his own mug of tea, his dark eyes brooding as he returned to the original topic of conversation. “I’ll try and get to the bottom of whoever’s asking questions about you.”
Hunter felt himself relax. If there were anything for him to worry about, Blade would find out.
“Anything new since the last time I was in town?” he asked, wanting to change the subject.
“A few murders. Some changes in wealth. More migrants from the border regions, seeking their fortunes on this side of the mountains. Overall, no.”
Weariness crept over Hunter. Not much ever changed in Freetown in that respect. The rich got richer, and the poor served the rich. Migrants came to Freetown seeking quick fortunes and often found servitude instead, assuming they survived the trek across the desert. One would have thought the priestesses, who’d once served the goddesses, would have a greater sense of philanthropy, or even basic kindness. Yet any gold they parted with came at a rate of exchange even desperate people should shudder to pay.
The coins weighed heavily in his pocket and on his conscience. That Mamna could so easily turn any woman over to the demons bothered him. How awful would this thief have to be in order for Hunter to look the other way?
She would have to be spawn. In which case, let the demons take care of a problem they had created.
He finished his tea. “I should go.”
Blade cocked his head, listening to the howling wind. Driven sand rang like raindrops against the exterior walls and shutters.
“It’s going to be a rough night,” he said. “You’re welcome to stay.” He frowned, and Hunter knew he was still thinking of those questions about his past, and who might be behind them. “In fact, I recommend you do. The women won’t mind. You might even be able to talk them into letting you use their bath.”
“They would waste water on me?” Hunter’s amazement was only partly feigned. Even in Freetown, built on an oasis, water usage was tightly controlled. By Mamna.
Blade’s eyebrow shot up. “It has a lot to do with your smell. They prefer their men clean.”
Hunter spent most of his days in the desert alone so he was used to his own smell, but a bath would be welcome. It was hard to turn one down. But he was more uneasy about those questions regarding his past than he cared to admit, and while Blade could look out for himself, Hunter didn’t like the idea of bringing any danger to the women. He was already too fond of them.
That last thought alone was enough to make him refuse to stay. “Thanks, but I’d better go.”
Blade unbarred the door and Hunter slipped like a shadow into the dark and deserted street beyond.
Mamna and her priestesses founded Freetown not far from the ruins of a buried city rumored to have contained close to two million inhabitants in the time before demons. The ruins stretched across several miles of desert, and although they undoubtedly contained many treasures, no one entered them to find out—the shifting sands had left them unstable and riddled with deadly sinkholes.
But that was when demons numbered in the tens of thousands. Whoever the inhabitants of that lost city were, they had done their part against the invaders before falling.
Sand stung Hunter’s cheeks, and he pulled a heavy cotton kerchief over his mouth and nose. He settled his hat back on his head, tugging the wide brim low to shield his eyes.
Even in the dark of a storm, the streets of Freetown weren’t difficult for Hunter to navigate. He knew them well. A market served as the town center. Radiating from there, like the spokes of a wagon’s wheel, spread the other main areas—the wealthy, the not-so-wealthy, the poor, and the various trade shops that serviced them all. Blade’s saloon sat at the outer tip of one spoke, near the high wall surrounding the city. The wall was not meant to keep demons out. That was impossible. Rather, it allowed Mamna to be selective in the people who came and went.
Most people. Not Hunter. He had set up a shelter of sorts in a natural, rock-faced corral not too far out in the desert. He came and went as he pleased.
He headed for a hidden tunnel that burrowed beneath the outer city wall, more distracted than was probably wise, but the storm should have kept even the bravest of lowlifes indoors. He felt safe in letting his thoughts wander.
His mind kept going back to those questions Blade had spoken of. Hunter had not thought of his sisters in a long time. It was pointless to do so. When he’d left he had gotten as far away from them as he could, covering his tracks, and he’d never looked back. Only they knew why he had killed that first demon. No one else cared as long as he continued to kill them. Few men were brave enough to try. Fewer still survived a first attempt.
He caught a slight movement from the corner of his eye, an unnatural shift of shadow off to his left. Someone was following him.
He stopped, not bothering to pretend he wasn’t aware. He unholstered his six-shooter, wondering if his stalker was alone, then pressed himself against the false front of a nearby shanty in an attempt to keep the wind-whipped sand from blinding him completely. He disliked using a gun, but tonight, the storm would drown out any sounds of a gunfight.
The attack, although expected, nevertheless took him by surprise, more because of its professionalism and choice of weapon than its ferocity. He sucked in his stomach as the knife in his assailant’s hand slashed a six-inch gap in his shirt. He brought his gun up and fired, and was rewarded with the hiss of an indrawn breath. He drew his short sword from the sheath on his back with his left hand. He did not want to kill his assailant just yet. Dead men didn’t talk.
Lightning-quick, the man came at Hunter again, but Hunter was better prepared this time. He slid to the side to avoid the thrust of the knife, and from behind his back he shot his sword’s blade through the other man’s extended arm.
Rather than pull away, the assailant fell forward. A heavy knife handle protruded from between his shoulder blades.
Hunter holstered his gun, reached down to jerk the blade free, and wiped it clean on the assailant’s ruined shirt.
“Thank you,” he said. He handed the knife hilt-first to its owner.
“You’re welcome.” The knife disappeared into the sheath Blade always wore strapped to his mangled leg.
“Not that I wasn’t managing just fine on my own,” Hunter added.
“You were doing okay.” Blade rolled the dead man onto his back with the toe of his boot. Enough light remained for them to identify him as Scarface. “But increasing the odds in your favor never hurts.” Blade’s eyes met Hunter’s. “Why would anyone risk angering Mamna by killing someone she’s just hired?”
“That’s what I was hoping to ask him.”
Blade riffled through the man’s pockets and came up empty-handed. “Nothing. The man’s a professional.”
“Maybe he’s poor,” Hunter guessed, without any real hope.
“Even poor people keep things in their pockets.” Blade patted down the man’s arms and legs and came up with an assortment of weapons. He held them out. “See anything here you want?”
Hunter waved him off. “You killed him. It’s all yours.”
The weapons disappeared into Blade’s clothing.
“How did you know he’d follow me?” Hunter asked.
Blade shielded his face from the stinging sand with the crook of an elbow. “His hands were too clean.”
That made sense, and was something Blade would notice right away. An assassin’s hands were his greatest asset, and Blade took pride in his own despite the fact that he no longer worked for hire.
“Why didn’t you warn me?”
“Because I didn’t want to be wrong about what he was. And it was something you should have noticed yourself.” Demon howls carried on the wind now, still far off in the distance, and Blade checked nervously over his shoulder. “Fresh blood is going to draw them here. Sure you don’t want to come back to my place for the night?”
“I’m sure.” Hunter grinned at him. “Scared?”
“Stiff,” Blade admitted without shame. “While I don’t mind getting killed, the being eaten alive part continues to bother me. I’m heading for home. I’d search this guy for markings if I were you, but I doubt you’ll find anything. He’s your problem now.”
Blade left, and Hunter took a few extra minutes to search for any tattoos or markings that might give some indication of where the would-be assassin was from. He found nothing, but that could have been because of the poor light and blowing sand. Or it could have been because Blade was right. The man had no markings on him because he was a professional.
Then, because Hunter didn’t feel like confronting blood-frenzied demons either, he headed for shelter.

About the Author

I’d like to be able to say I always wanted to be a writer, but the truth is I thought it looked like a lot of hard work. Life, however, sometimes leads us down paths we never intended to take.
From the very beginning, my parents encouraged my love of books. When a Grade One teacher suggested I wrote too many “thrillers,” my mother, an English teacher, said I could write – and read – whatever I wanted. My high school English teachers later backed her up on that. In university, I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Anthropology. At the time it was a whim, but it’s amazing how much that little piece of paper has benefited me over the years.Researching the history of civilizations has led to many intriguing worldbuilding possibilities.
When my children were babies and money was tight, my mother, grandmother, and husband bought me an electric typewriter for my birthday because they knew I was bored and wanted me to be happy. My mother became my very first critique partner, willingly reading pages and pages of manuscripts no one should ever have to suffer through. She researched markets for me, and introduced me to a journalist friend, who in turn introduced me to the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia. My brother and my brother-in-law introduced me to Thieves’ World, David Eddings, and Piers Anthony. Mysister gave me my first computer.
My grandmothers believed if something’s too hard, you aren’t working hard enough. My brother and sisters have all successfully followed their dreams, and my husband and two sons offer me proof every day that hard work is something to be embraced, not avoided. With these people behind me, how could I possibly stray from a path on which life seems to have planted them as guardrails?

Release Blitz and Giveaway~ Heart Stopping

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