Sunday, October 1, 2023

New Release Blog Tour Stop: The Roaring Days of Zora Lily


The Roaring Days of Zora Lily

Author: Noelle Salazar

ISBN: 9780778305200

MIRA Paperback Original

Publication Date: October 3, 2023

Set during a period of rapid social and technological change, The Roaring Days of Zora Lily follows a struggling young seamstress from her long nights sewing costumes in the smoke-filled speakeasies of Seattle to designing gowns for Hollywood’s biggest starlets.

2023, The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History: A costume conservator is preparing an exhibition featuring movie costumes from the 1920s to present day. As she gingerly places a gown once worn by Greta Garbo on a mannequin, she discovers another name hidden beneath the designer's label, leaving her to wonder—who is Zora Lily?

1924, Seattle: Poverty-stricken Zora Hough spends her days looking after her younger siblings while sewing up holes and fixing hems for clients to bring in extra money, working her fingers to the bone just to survive. But at night, as she lies in the bed she shares with one of her three sisters, she secretly dreams of becoming a designer like Coco Chanel and Jeanne Lanvin.

When her best friend gets a job dancing in a club downtown, Zora is lured in by her stories of music, glittering dresses and boys. She follows her friend to the underground speakeasies that are at once exciting and frightening—with smoke hanging in the air, alcohol flowing despite Prohibition, couples dancing in a way that makes Zora blush and a handsome businessman named Harley. It’s a world she has only ever imagined, and one with connections that could lead her to the life she's always dreamed of. But as Zora's ambition is challenged by tragedy and duty to her family, she'll learn that dreams come with a cost. 

 Entertainment Weekly, New fall books we're most excited to read

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Sneak Peek Excerpt: 

Washington, DC, 2023


The fluorescent lights blinked on in a domino effect, one after the other, a faint buzzing sound filling the room as I stood squinting in the unnatural light.

I inhaled, taking in my small slice of heaven within the sto­ried walls of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The long room with its high ceiling, soothing taupe walls, and wood floors—weathered in spots from years of con­servators standing and pacing as they labored over the works of great minds—brought a sense of peace as soon as I stepped inside.

The museum had been my happy place since I was a little girl, when my mother would walk with me from our baby blue–painted row house on Capitol Hill, her slender fingers wrapped around my pudgy ones. We’d wander past sprawling parks, mel­ancholy monuments documenting history, to the austere but magical facade housing wonders my six-year-old eyes could barely comprehend. By the age of eight I knew all the regular exhibits like the back of my hand, and waited anxiously for the monthly newsletter that arrived in our mailbox, telling us what traveling exhibits we could expect next. It was one such exhibit, a gallery of gowns worn by British royalty, that had burrowed itself inside me in such a way that a dream was born.

“I’m going to work here one day,” I’d told my mother, push­ing back a strand of dirty-blond hair as I stared up at a jewel-colored gown once worn by Queen Elizabeth the Second.

I was twelve.

I wanted to exist within these walls. It was my church, and I believed in its teachings wholeheartedly. I had drunk the water. Read the great books. And prayed to the gods of knowledge and creativity. I wanted to be part of whatever it took to bring history to life for others. And for the past nine years…that’s ex­actly what I’d done.

I stared at the scene sprawled out before me.

“Sanctuary,” I whispered, tucking a blond-highlighted strand of hair behind my ear.

Gleaming table after gleaming table sat covered in silk, satin, lace, and velvet. Gowns and dresses and blouses previously only seen on movie screens and in photographs now lay delicately in wait of tending to, their sparkle and sinew in contrast to the stark lights and tepid surroundings. Mannequins, my constant companions, stood at the ready, waiting for their moment.

Thread in every color imaginable, like a rainbow of rotund spool soldiers on a rolling rack, waited to be chosen. Needles in pincushions, strips of bias tape, shimmering appliqués, rib­bons, seam rippers, clear drawers filled with buttons and clasps and snaps, and boxes upon boxes of straight pins, their color­ful heads a happy bouquet of tiny plastic globes, were scattered across every surface, peeking from where they’d fallen to the f loor, rolled beneath furniture, and stuck—I bent to pull a pink-headed pin from the rug beneath my feet—in a variety of in­convenient places.

The door clicked open behind me and I smiled.

“Good morning, Sylvia,” a familiar voice said.

“Morning, Lu,” I said to the one member of my team who, like me, couldn’t wait to get to work.

Every day, my friend and fellow fashion-obsessed cohort, Lu Huang, and I arrived within minutes of one another, and a full half hour before anyone else. Working as conservators for the museum was a coveted get for us. A dream job that every morn­ing caused us to rush from our respective homes, grabbing an insufficient breakfast on our way out the door, and wondering hours later why we were so hungry. We lost track of time con­stantly, surviving on coffee and bags of chips from the vending machine, and leaving friends and family waiting on us as we turned up late to holiday parties, dinners, and events we’d im­plored others to attend but couldn’t possibly get to on time, and having forgotten to blend the concealer we’d hurriedly dotted on in the train, with paint under our nails and bits of thread or glue on our jacket cuffs.

In Lu I’d found not only the perfect work companion, but a kindred spirit. Over the nine years we’d worked together, we’d enjoyed laughing over our shared love of no-nonsense pony­tails, and waxing poetic about old films and vintage fashion. We sat in her living room or mine, rewatching the movies that had shaped us and sharing stories of our schoolgirl walls plastered with images of iconic women of the silver screen, while our schoolmates favored posters of half-clothed men. So, when the idea for the newest exhibit started floating around our superi­ors’ offices upstairs, we’d spent many a night poring over which films we’d choose if asked, and then deliberated, scrapped, and chose again until we had the perfect array.

Out of curiosity, we began to inquire with movie studios about the costumes we’d be interested in displaying, running into new obstacles with each call we made. Several times we chose a beloved film only to find half the costumes had been lost in a fire, were part of a decades-long legal battle, or were just plain lost—a travesty over which we consoled ourselves with a huge plate of nachos and a pitcher of margaritas. Eventu­ally, the decisions about which movies to include boiled down to three simple things: Where were the costumes we’d need? Would they be available to us for the time required? And what kind of shape were they in?

Once we’d gotten the green light that the exhibit was on, we finalized our list, made the calls, gathered confirmations, and began the design for the wing the costumes would be shown in. And then we waited, barely able to contain ourselves as one by one the garments that would be featured in The Hollywood Glamour Exhibition arrived.

We chose two movies per decade, going back one hundred years to the 1920s. Every piece that had been worn by the female lead was sent to us from studios, museums, or estates. Once in our possession, my job as costume curator, along with my staff of seven, was to remove each gown or outfit from its protective garment bags or boxes, and go over it with a fine-tooth comb, looking for tears, stains, missing buttons, and the like. We’d been working for months. Some of the more intricate gowns needed extensive rebeading or sequin replacement, and many of the older pieces needing patching inside to hold the outside fabric together. In two cases we’d had to sew exact replicas of the linings, and then carefully fit them inside the original, giv­ing it something to cling to, extending its life.

A pantsuit from the forties had lost an outside pocket and matching the fabric had been hell. The brim of an iconic straw hat that belonged to another outfit had been scorched by a cig­arette and needed to be patched. Each garment presented its own set of unique problems, and we were giddy as we worked to solve each puzzle.

With our intention for each item to be viewed from all sides, it was crucial they looked as flawless as possible. Thankfully, my team were experts in their field, and excited at the opportunity to handle costumes worn by some of the most famous women in film history.

“Can’t believe we’re down to the final film,” Lu said, run­ning a finger over a strip of fringe hanging from a black eve­ning gown. “I think this batch is my favorite.”

I nodded, taking in the room of costumes from the 1928 film The Star. Each piece had been worn by the iconic Greta Garbo and was the epitome of elegance and class. And a notable diver­sion from the designer’s usual style.

“It’s so odd Cleménte changed her MO for this one film,” I said, tilting my head as I took in the distinct wide neckline fea­tured in each of the eight pieces. Even a blouse and jacket had been designed to show off the actress’s collarbones. The pieces were alluring, but Cleménte had always been known for a more modest style.

Michele Cleménte had been a well-known designer in the ’20s and ’30s, her signature style demure, with higher necklines and longer hems. But for this movie, she’d completely diverged.

“It is strange,” Lu said, frowning. “The studio must’ve wanted something exact.”

“Then why hire her?” I asked. “Not that she didn’t do a lovely job. The clothing is exquisite. I’d wear them all now.”

“And look fab doing it.”

I felt myself blush with pleasure at the compliment. Being tall and willowy had its advantages. Unfortunately for me, I had neither the opportunity nor the bank account to wear clothes as fine as the ones before us.

“Thanks, Lu,” I said, bending to peer closer at the large white beaded star on the white satin gown that was to be the center­piece for the entire show.

Aside from the star, the rest of the fabric had been left un­adorned, letting the beaded element shine before one’s eye went to the skirt, which fell in soft overlapping layers to the floor. It was a stunning piece of art. But a confusing one. Because it

had no resemblance to any piece ever sewn before by Cleménte. At least not any piece I’d seen in my years of studying the dif­ferent famous designers. It didn’t have her specific way of hand sewing or her distinctive technique of tying off a knot, or even her tendency toward geometric shapes. But it was the neckline that really threw me off. Cleménte had preferred to leave a lot to the imagination. It was her calling card during a time when everyone else was showing more skin. And yet for these, she’d completely gone off-script.

The rest of the crew arrived at nine on the dot and the quiet of the room rose to a dull roar as individual desk lights were turned on, loupes donned to scrutinize the tiniest details, and we all began to sew, glue, and chat our way through the day.


I glanced up and winced as my back protested from having been bent over a table for the past hour. Lu stood, her coat over her arm, by the door. Everyone else had vanished.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“Nearly seven.”

“Shit. How does that always happen?” I pulled the loupes from my head.

“You happen to be in love with a dress,” Lu said. “That’s how.”

“Story of my life.”

“Explains so much.”

“Does it?”

“I mean, it definitely explains why you haven’t had a date with a real live human in a while. Only—” She gestured to the mannequin beside me.

We laughed. She wasn’t wrong.

Lu was the only person who truly understood me. The only person besides my sister who I’d ever allowed to see inside my guest room closet where dozens of scavenged vintage dresses, trousers, jackets, and hats hung, waiting to be delicately cared for like the ones I lovingly handled at work.

“You gonna stay?” Lu asked, watching me as I looked back at the dress spread out before me.

I rubbed my eyes and stared at the tiny white beads I’d been replacing. We’d named the dress The Diaphanous Star, and I’d been carefully sewing on one bead at a time for the past two hours. It was a delicate task as the fabric they clung to was nearly one hundred years old. I had to work slowly and thoughtfully to keep from shredding it.

“Yeah,” I said, rotating my head. “I want to get this star done. How’d you do today?”

I glanced over at the black evening gown she was working on.

“I’m close,” she said. “You can barely see the snag in the back now, and I should be able to replace the bit of fringe that’s miss­ing tomorrow.”

“Perfect,” I said, reaching over to wake my laptop and click­ing on the calendar. “We are ahead of schedule, which bodes well should we have any catastrophes.”

Lu knocked a small wooden box holding scissors inside it.

“Don’t jinx us,” she said and then waved. “See you B and E.”

“See you B and E,” I said.

B and E. Bright and early. We’d made it up one day after the youngest woman in our group rattled off a bunch of acronyms as if the rest of us should know what they mean. We used it con­stantly. She didn’t think it was amusing. This of course made it that much funnier.

I pulled my loupes back down and resumed placing the beads that formed the shimmering star. Thirty minutes later I sat up, set the magnifying glasses on the table, and arched my back in a well-deserved stretch.

“Okay, you,” I said to the dress. “Time to get you on a man­nequin.”

Sliding my arms beneath the gown, I lifted it carefully and carried it to the far end of the table where a mannequin with roughly Greta Garbo’s 1927 torso measurements stood in wait,

minus its arms which would be attached once I got the dress on it.

Unfortunately, the wide neckline made it hard to secure.

“You’re pretty,” I muttered, trying to keep the dress from slipping to the floor while I reached for one of the arms. “But a pain in my ass.”

I clicked an arm into place, moving the capped sleeve over the seam where the appendage attached to the shoulder, and making sure the hand was resting just right on the mannequin’s hip. Satisfied, I reached for the other arm and did the same on the other side.

“Not bad, headless Garbo,” I said, straightening the gown and smiling at the beaded star glimmering under the lights.

I grabbed my notepad and made my way around the dress, writing down problems that still needed to be addressed. Loose threads, the unraveling second tier of the skirt, and a bit of fab­ric that looked like it had rubbed against something and was scuffed. There was a stain on the hem in back, and one of the capped sleeves sagged, leading me to investigate and find a spot inside where the elastic was stretched out of shape.

My eyes moved along every inch of fabric, bead, and thread, my fingers scribbling notes as I took in what was easier to see with the dress hanging rather than sprawled on a tabletop. As I scrutinized the neckline in back, I noticed the tag was exposed and reached up to tuck it in. But as I pulled the material back, the tag fluttered to the floor.

With a sigh, I bent to pick it up. I could leave the fix until morning, but as I had nothing but an empty apartment waiting for me, I began the task of detaching the arms of the mannequin and sliding the dress back off and onto the table.

“Always something with you ladies,” I said, grabbing a needle and thread. “Can’t complain, I guess. Hottest date I’ve had in a while.”

But as I turned my attention to the spot the tag had fallen

from, I frowned and pulled the dress closer, peering at a small, elegant stitch no longer than the length of the tag that had cov­ered it.

“Is that…”

I grabbed my loupes and looked again, the stitching now magnified and leaving zero doubt that beneath the tag, in white thread and a beautiful freehand stitch, was a name—and it wasn’t Cleménte’s.

Sitting back, I removed my glasses and stared at the gorgeous dress with its beautiful wide neckline and capped sleeves, the beaded star, the tiered skirt that was so unlike Cleménte in style, and wondered aloud to the empty room—

“Who the hell is Zora Lily?”


From The Roaring Days of Zora Lily by Noelle Salazar. Copyright © 2023 by Noelle Salazar. Published by MIRA, an imprint of HarperCollins.


Author Bio:


Noelle Salazar was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where she's been a Navy recruit, a medical assistant, an NFL cheerleader, and always a storyteller. As a novelist, she has done extensive research into the Women Airforce Service Pilots, interviewing vets and visiting the training facility—now a museum dedicated to the WASP—in Sweetwater, Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found dodging raindrops and daydreaming of her next book. Her debut The Flight Girls, was an instant bestseller, a Forbes Hypable book of the month, and a BookBub Top Recommended book from readers. Her second novel, Angels of the Resistance: A Novel of Sisterhood and Courage in WWII was also published to wide praise including an Amazon Editors’  Fiction Pick of the Month. Noelle lives in Bothell, Washington with her family.

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Monday, September 25, 2023

Book Spotlight/Giveaway: Redeeming Rabbit

Redeeming Rabbit
Harley Stone
(Dead Presidents MC Book 11)
Publication date: September 25th 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

They say combat trauma can be the noose you hang from, the cross you bear, or the cliff you scale to survive. But I was a f*ck up long before my Army enlistment and the resulting PTSD. Thanks to the veteran MC that took me in, I’m coping with my condition. Mostly.

Until her.

The Complete Package. She’s way out of my league. I shouldn’t have a chance in hell with Elenore, but I got a peek under her hood and the sexy scientist has a screw loose.

Good thing I’m the best damn mechanic in Seattle.

I never once contemplated murder until my sister showed up bruised and bloody on my doorstep. Now, my intellect has overridden my morals to create an extermination plan with a 98.3% success rate.

Relax, I won’t actually kill anyone. Probably.

But he might.

Who knew I’d find a kindred spirit in my self-appointed tattooed biker bodyguard? Rabbit’s alarmingly protective but the most fascinating person I’ve ever met. And the sight of his bare chest just made the lock on my bedroom door spontaneously combust.

A tempest on the outside with a soft, gooey center, he could be the one.

If I’m strong enough to love him.

The Dead Presidents MC is a brotherhood of military veterans formed to help vets reintegrate into civilian society. They’re the good guys… mostly. Complete, standalone HEA love stories. No cheating, no cliffhangers.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play



Elenore hadn’t flipped out on me for invading her privacy. Nor had she asked me to leave. If she dropped her towel and started dressing right there in front of me, I’d likely cream the inside of my jeans. She was perfect. And not just because she was brainy, beautiful, and had her shit together, but because she was fucking weird. I’d been through her entire apartment, and nothing was out of place. Her closet was arranged by color with pictures of her goddamn outfits to keep them straight. Nobody was naturally this clean, organized, and meticulous.

Elenore had a screw loose.

Which meant I might actually have a chance with her.

“You left the door open,” I blurted out, sounding like a fucking idiot.

“To my apartment. Not my bedroom.”

“It wasn’t locked.”

She added pants to the pile of clothes in her arms and turned to face me. “I need to get dressed.”

I wanted to tell her to go right ahead but decided not to push my luck. Still clutching the sexy photos I’d filched, I said, “These are mine.”

Author Bio:

International bestselling author Harley Stone specializes in imperfect characters, realistic storylines, scorching hot sex scenes, and fun, witty dialogue. She's always up for a good adventure (real or fictional), and when she's not building imaginary worlds, she's dipping her toes into reality in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their five sons and two dogs.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / TikTok

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Sunday, September 24, 2023

New Book Release/Giveaway: I've Watched You Die


I’ve Watched You Die
by Karina Banks
Publication date: September 22nd 2023
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

A young woman, cursed. A rebellious prince in hiding. A forbidden love that will threaten two worlds…

There are two main things I’ve learned since my life turned upside down. The first is, if you speak of someone’s death before it happens, you’ll be blamed for murder. The second? If the hottest guy you’ve ever seen kisses you, and thanks you for saving his life, don’t argue.

I watched him die, over and over. So many times. The vision is always the same and there is never one damn thing I can do to save him. I don’t know why I can’t dream about normal things, like going to school naked, or spiders. I hate spiders. No, I’m lucky enough to see strangers at the moments of their deaths.

The only thing keeping me sane is knowing the visions aren’t real.

Until the accident. The blood. He dies in my arms.

At least, I thought he did. But now he’s here, telling me I saved his life. Telling me unbelievable stories about monsters and gods and destiny. Promising to protect me.

If none of this is real, why am I afraid of the creatures hunting me? And if I saved his life, why are the nightmares back, stronger than ever? What is this thing lurking inside me, eager to strike?

I don’t know, but I’m freaking out.

I’m afraid what I think is real, isn’t. And what I know is not, just might be.

Will be found here come release day:

Excerpt 1


The creature’s eyes dart back and forth between me and Ryker, as if taking its time, contemplating who to kill first. Ryker takes advantage of its hesitation, shoving me away. “Dani, go! Run!” The command is raw and guttural, impossible to ignore.

I take off, running as fast as I can toward the school. Adrenaline rushes through my bloodstream like a bomb went off inside me. There is no thinking. I have tunnel vision. All I see is the grass in front of my feet. The door that leads to sanctuary inside the school building. All I hear is blood pounding inside my skull and the rush of air as it bursts in and out of my lungs. It’s as if I’m breathing fire.

I’m halfway there. He said he’d be right behind me. I can’t hear him. Where is he?

I risk a glance back, over my shoulder. I expected him to follow. When I look behind me, I see he’s still staring the creature down. He has a dagger in one hand and he is slowly circling the monster, waiting for it to strike.

Shit. What is he thinking? Is he trying to buy me time? I don’t need more time. I’m almost there. Worse, that thing huge, easily the size of four large men. Maybe it is, because I count eight legs sticking out of the goo. 

I slow to a jog, then stop, turning completely to watch him and the creature pace one another. As Ryker did with me, with each step he’s moving just enough not to incite an immediate attack, but positioning himself for a straight shot away, toward the school’s garden.

No. Oh, God. Shit.

I know how this ends. I just saw it. There are more of them, in the garden. Waiting. An ambush. They are here to kill him. Why? Why? Why?

I sprint toward him, away from the school. Away from safety. I can’t allow him to run for the garden. More of those things are waiting. They’ll gut him. Cut him open. He’ll bleed out, blood soaking the gravel path. Just like my vision. No. No. No. 

“Ryker! Run! They’re in the garden! It’s a trap! It’s a trap!”

I scream at him, my legs pumping as fast as I can make them go, faster than any track meet or workout I’ve ever run. A terrified part of me knows it’s not fast enough.

I push my muscles to their limit, trying to reach him in time. I don’t know what I can possibly do to help him against that thing, but two is better than one. It has to be. We’ll run for the woods. Anywhere but that fucking garden. Literally anywhere.

“Dani, no! Get back!”

“The garden! It’s a trap!” I sprint, my gaze dropping to the abandoned high heels shoes on the grass. The four inch points aren’t exactly one of my grandad’s shotguns, but they’re better than nothing. That thing has eyes, doesn’t it?

I’m forty meters away when the creature lunges at Ryker. He is looking at me, yelling at me to run.

My heart stops dead in my chest. I yell out a warning, but it’s too late.



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Friday, September 22, 2023

Blog Tour Stop/Giveaway: Futility of Defense

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Bryan Cole will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Paladins are nothing but trouble. When Krell, an uneducated nobody with a stubborn streak as wide as the sea, hears the call from ReckNor, the capricious god of the seas and skies, the attention of the rich and powerful turn their gaze toward him. Paladins are notorious for upsetting the balance of power, to the detriment of any who don't worship their deity.

When Krell stands against the might of the sea devils and emerges victorious, concern and interest turn to fear—fear of their secrets and plans being revealed and exposed, of the ruin that often follows in a paladin's wake. Now he stands in defense of a pitiful town at the edge of nowhere, even as the sea devil menace grows more dire for each day that passes.

For as deadly as the sea devils are to Krell, his past choices and the consequences of his actions may be deadlier still . . .

Read an Excerpt

“Petimus told us that you were unlike any paladin we have met before, but I must say, I am surprised nonetheless. Greetings, Krell of ReckNor. My name is Naerdra Smithforge, stonesinger of Talcon. Here to build a fortress to protect your small town from the sahuagin, I understand.”

Krell smiled, looking at her. She wore woolen leggings and a linen shirt, with a mantle of fine cloth embroidered with gold sigils. A red sash with a gold pin was her only other adornment.

“I am most pleased you are here, Naerdra. The town sorely needs your aid.”

“Hmm. Perhaps I will see one of these sea devils for myself.”

Krell’s expression darkened. “If you remain in Watford for any length of time, you certainly will.”

He gestured. “My trusted allies and companions, Verbena and Dahlia, who have stood with me against the sea devils and saved my life more than once.”

Naerdra nodded at them, and they both inclined their heads while bowing slightly. Krell stared at them for a moment. Their bows had been identical in both timing and depth.

“You’re certain you are uninjured, Krell? You have blood on your face,” said Petimus, his voice concerned.

Krell turned toward him and grinned. “As Olgar will tell you, some lessons can only be learned a single way, at least for me. I am ReckNor’s blade, and he wants it sharp. That means that I will be pressed against the grindstone at times. Unpleasant, but necessary. Still, his gifts are many, and the grace of ReckNor has healed my wounds already.” Krell stood and stretched.

Naerdra looked at Krell, then at the tree in front of the temple, then upward to the sky. “I have heard also that you are dragon friend, Krell of ReckNor. Is this so? May I meet your mighty companion?”

Krell nodded, smiling. “Of course, Naerdra. Fortis is currently hunting, though I think he does it because it amuses him more than because he requires food. He dislikes it when I… uh…” Krell glanced at Verbena.

“Query, Krell. When you query him.”

Krell nodded. “He dislikes it when I query him while hunting. He will return when he is satisfied with himself.”

About the Author:
Bryan is an avid reader, and has loved the fantasy genre since he was a child. His love of stories of mighty knights, terrible dragons, and noble steeds has inspired him for decades.



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Book Spotlight: Fire and Ermine by Andrew Grey with a Giveaway

Title: Through the Flames

Author: Andrew Grey

Series: Carlisle Troopers (Book 3)

Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance/Law Enforcement

Release Date: Sept 19, 2023

Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print


When Prince Reynard escapes his gilded cage, he runs as fast as he can in search of a taste of freedom. Predictably, he gets pulled over.

State Trooper Fisher Bronson doesn’t know the handsome stranger in the rental car, but he does know the guy was driving way too fast. Still, Fisher takes to protect and serve seriously, so he helps Reynard find a hotel for the night.

Then the hotel catches fire.

Apparently, Reynard hasn’t covered his tracks as well as he thought. But is it paparazzi on his tail, or someone much more deadly? Either way, when Fisher offers him a room for the night, he’s grateful for the refuge.

Reynard is generous and kind, but Fisher knows he’s hiding something. Finally, Reynard confesses the truth: as prince of Veronia, his life is structured and ordered for him, but as Reynard, in Carlisle with Fisher, he has the freedom to become a person he actually likes. To Reynard's surprise, Fisher likes him back—not for his title, but for the man he is. But duty, family expectations, and whoever is after Reynard could spell the end of their relationship before they get past once upon a traffic stop.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Talking with Kelli Wilkins about Paranormal Romance and Horror


Straddling the Line Between Paranormal Romance & Horror

By Kelli A. Wilkins


Greetings Romance Lovers!

It’s mid-September and Halloween is right around the corner. At this time of year, horror movies are extremely popular and everyone is focusing on the supernatural. Ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and other “creatures of the night” seem to be lurking everywhere, just waiting to leap out and terrify an unsuspecting heroine…

But sometimes the heroine isn’t terrified. Sometimes she’s attracted to that vampire and can’t wait for the sun to go down so they can roam the night together, like any couple. That is, any couple in a paranormal romance.

Paranormals are a unique genre in the romance world. (Where else can a woman make love to an undead creature and not face criticism?) They straddle the line between traditional romances and the supernatural/fantasy/horror realm. And to create a convincing paranormal romance, the author has to do a bit of juggling in all of those worlds.

One of the most important rules when writing paranormal romances is to invent a believable universe where ghosts, shifters, vampires, and other types of “otherworldly” characters are real. Sometimes these creatures interact and coexist with “normal” humans (everyday people accept that vampires and shapeshifters exist), but most times they stay hidden in the shadows.

Whatever the basic premise, readers need to suspend their disbelief and lose themselves in the world the author has created. The writer has to establish a realistic paranormal character and take the reader on an exciting journey with the hero and heroine as they fall in love. After all, this is a romance!

I combined all those elements in my 2022 paranormal mystery/romance, In Another World. I started with the premise: What if an undercover cop was killed in a car and his spirit haunted the car? And what if a woman who was psychic bought the car and could communicate with him? And what if he wanted her to solve his murder? Then, what if they fell in love and were able to consummate their relationship in an alternate reality or “in another world”?

The type of paranormal character that stars in the story is key to the plot, and can vary from dead human, to nearly human, to full-fledged monster. Each character and/or story should have a few “rules” that apply to the characters and the world that the author created.

For example, suppose the hero was once human and has been cursed to live as another creature (such as a Bigfoot, or a gargoyle). Can the curse be broken if he finds a human woman to love him? Does he retain his human memories? Is the woman repulsed by him at first? Do they make love while he’s in his altered state?

Maybe the hero is an undead creature (a vampire) or turns into an animal (a werewolf), or is a ghost. How does this change his personality and way of life? Does he resent humans and live with others of his kind? What does he do when he’s not transformed? How (and why) does he transform? What happens when he reveals his true nature to his beloved? If he’s a ghost, how does he feel about being dead? Is he a vengeful spirit? Sad because he left his loved ones behind too soon?

As you can see, falling in love with a non-human can create a lot of conflict and difficulties for the couple. And sometimes it’s a challenge for the author to make the “monster” into a romantic lead. If the author doesn’t create a believable paranormal hero, readers won’t buy into it, and there certainly won’t be any sparks flying in the romance.

Even though the hero isn’t human, he must have a special appeal that makes the heroine overlook this fact and fall in love with him. Basically, the hero-creature has to remain true to his paranormal status and still be attractive to humans (and human readers), just like a traditional romance hero.

If a paranormal romance includes too much violence or gore, it could turn into a horror story. (In fact, with a little bit of rewriting, practically any paranormal romance could be transformed into a dark and disturbing horror tale!) To avoid this, the author has to find a way to deal with the unpleasant aspects of being a monster, while still keeping the hero attractive.

For example, if the hero is a vampire, he’ll have to feed at some point during the story. The writer and the other characters must address this. How does the heroine deal with her boyfriend’s need to drink blood? Does she accept it? Ignore it? Does he feed “off page” where she can’t see? Does she ever let him feed off her?

These are all crucial things the author has to consider when developing characters and plotting a paranormal love story. Readers want to fall in love with a “safe” creature and live vicariously through the heroine as she navigates the paranormal world. But the monster/hero shouldn’t be dull or boring, or too predictable, either.

It’s always refreshing when authors break patterns and have paranormal characters go against stereotype. (Why do all vampires have to be suave, live in large houses, and dress well?) When I wrote my paranormal romances, I always tried to give readers something unexpected, turned a cliché on its ear, or used a different point of view to liven up the story.

In Killer in Wolf’s Clothing, my “werewolf” didn’t turn into a four-legged animal; he became a super-aggressive Alpha male. Beauty & the Bigfoot is a paranormal comedy that explores the legend of Bigfoot through quirky characters (and some hot love scenes!).

Rothgar, the hero in The Viking’s Witch doesn’t believe that the heroine has supernatural powers—until she proves it. Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover is told in first person from the hero’s point of view and takes place at the beach—and that’s not where you expect to find a vampire.

Eddie from In Another World is as close to human as possible, but has his own set of “ghost powers.” His ex-partner Lou, doesn’t believe Julie has psychic abilities and can communicate with Eddie until she reveals a few secrets. And Eddie and Julie are able to have a real relationship in a very unusual way… and a happy-ever-after ending!

As Halloween approaches, take a closer look at the “monsters” and other supernatural creatures you encounter. But don’t be afraid… you might just fall in love with one of them!

Here’s the summary and links for In Another World:



A Paranormal Mystery/Romance Novel

Disgraced psychic medium Julie Kershaw has finally met her soul mate. The problem is he’s dead… and his spirit haunts the car she just bought.

The spirit of Detective Eddie Mahoney is determined to find his killer and needs Julie’s help. At first, she refuses. She’s tired of being called crazy and swore she’d never use her abilities to speak to the dead again—even if Eddie is handsome and charming.

Eddie persuades Julie to contact his former partner, Lou Kaplonski, to ask him to reopen his case. Skeptical, Lou dismisses Julie as a fake—until she proves she can communicate with the dead—and he finds out Eddie has a lot to say.

Julie channels Eddie’s spirit and together with Lou, the unusual trio tracks down leads and follows clues to solve Eddie’s murder. The case takes them down a dark and dangerous path filled with secrets, where nobody can be trusted.

As they work to find his killer, Julie falls for Eddie. Funny, smart, and sexy, Eddie is the guy of her dreams—and he doesn’t look or act the least bit dead. To her surprise, Eddie discovers a clever way they can be together, and they begin an ethereal romance.

When Lou’s investigation brings him too close to the killer, his life and Julie’s are put in danger—and Eddie may be the only one who can save them.

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Happy Haunting,

Kelli A. Wilkins



Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20+ romance novels, and 6 mystery/horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror and mystery stories.

Her latest release, The Route 9 Killer, was published in May 2023. This mystery/thriller is set in Central NJ.

Kelli’s paranormal/mystery romance, In Another World, was released in 2022. She released two horror shorts, More Than I Bargained For and Silent Sentinel in 2021.

Follow Kelli on her Facebook author page: and visit her website/blog for a full title list and social media links.


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