Saturday Spotlight – Covetous by Natalie Bennett

Covetous BannerTitle: Covetous

Author: Natalie Bennett

Release: August 31, 2019

Genre: Dark Romance

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47513988-covetous

received_376557926231142 (1)Blurb:

Warnings come with everything forbidden. Consequences follow every sordid action.

An illicit affair results in me becoming captive to the one man I dared to trust.

Pierce Serban had always been off-limits. Cruel and dangerous, I knew to stay away.

I didn’t.

Now a pawn in a game played by devils in suits, I must standby as his carefully controlled chaos unravels, and do all I can to survive the wreckage.

18+ Previously titled Sordid Mistress

Buy Links (Kindle Unlimited):

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2MHXv6r

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2L68Aw9

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2L1iFdu

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2L22ug8

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Author Bio:

Natalie Bennett is the creator of erotic stories that always come with a warning label. She writes about depraved alpha a**holes and women that love to hate them. Her books don’t follow any specific tropes, have no set word counts, and tend to deviate from traditional HEA’s.

When she isn’t in front of her computer she’s spending time with her husband and their three little boys.

Natalie is an avid fan of caramel frappes, horror movies, Shameless, and of course, reading.

You can find Natalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Social Media Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7447968.Natalie_Bennett

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nataliebennettwriter

Twitter: www.twitter.com/AuthorNbennett

Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/authornataliebennett/

Website: https://www.nataliebennett.net

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01G8Z4IF8

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cAAY4v

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Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

sapphire flames bannerSapphire Flames

A Hidden Legacy Novel, Book 4

by Ilona Andrews 

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance 

s- about the bookFrom #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrew comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes, powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Google * Harper Collins 

Goodreads: 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41088576-sapphire-flames 

Buy Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-Flames-Hidden-Legacy-Novel-ebook/dp/B07G141J8W
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/sapphire-flames/id1444702340
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sapphire-flames-ilona-andrews/1129965255?ean=9780062878335#
Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Ilona_Andrews_Sapphire_Flames?id=DAV8DwAAQBAJ
Harper Collins: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062878342/sapphire-flames

s- about the authorIlona Andrews author photo_266x400“Ilona Andrews” is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

They have co-authored several NYT and USAT bestselling series. They are currently working on urban fantasy of Kate Daniels, the paranormal romance of Hidden Legacy, and their independently published series, Innkeeper Chronicles.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads 

Author Links

Website: https://ilona-andrews.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ilona.andrews 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ilona_andrews 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ilona-andrews   

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ilona-Andrews/e/B001RXSCKY 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21748.Ilona_Andrews   

s- giveaway (1)$25 Amazon 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!

https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/sapphire-flames-book-tour-and-giveaway

s- excerptSapphireFlames_FinFlt_Art_cmyk_372x600Chapter One

I was swimming through the warm water of the Gulf when someone knocked on the sky. The bright little fishes following me scattered, the crystal-clear water vanished, and I landed on the sand.

The sky above me shuddered. Boom, boom, boom.

The dream tore like wet tissue, and for a disorienting moment, I didn’t know where I was. Slowly the familiar contours of my bedroom came into focus through the gloom. The alarm clock on my nightstand glowed with bright red. 2:07 a.m.

Someone was pounding on my door.

“Catalina!” my sister yelled. “Get up!”

Panic pierced me. I jumped out the bed, sprinted across the bedroom, and flung the door open. “Did the plane go down?”

“What? No!”

I sagged against the door frame in relief. Our older sister, Nevada; her husband; and her mother-in-law were flying to Spain for a funeral. Over the ocean. It caused me no end of anxiety.

“The plane is fine,” Arabella told me.

“Then what is it?”

Arabella’s face was flushed, and her blond hair stuck out from her head in weird directions. She wore an old, stained Sailor Moon T-shirt, and her basketball shorts were on backward.

“Augustine is downstairs.”

“Augustine who? Augustine Montgomery?”

“Yes!”

I snapped out of my relief back to full alert. “Why?” Why in the world would the Head of House Montgomery be downstairs, in the middle of the night?

“He wants to see you. He says it’s an emergency. Hurry up before Mom shoots him.”

She turned around and ran down the stairs leading from my loft suite to the rest of the warehouse we used as our home and place of business.

Augustine was absolutely the last person I expected at two o’clock in the morning. Something terrible had happened.

I looked at myself. I wore an oversized grey T-shirt that came to my knees and said, “I ♥ Sleep.” No time to change. I took the stairs barefoot and followed my sister into a wide hallway. The light in the media room was on, casting a warm electric glow and illuminating the way just enough to see.

The hallway led to a door on the left where a small section of the warehouse was designated as the Baylor Agency’s office. The entire family congregated in front of the door, all except Mom.

Grandma Frida, thin, tan, with a halo of platinum curls, looked worried. Bern, my oldest cousin, resembled a bear awakened halfway through his hibernation—big, muscular, his dark blond hair disheveled, holding a tablet that looked too small for his hands. Next to him, Leon, his younger half brother, and complete opposite leaned on the wall, totally awake. Lean and dark-haired, Leon was a ball of wiry energy. And he still wore the jeans and T-shirt I had seen him in last night. Either he fell asleep in his clothes, or he felt the need to be fully dressed at two o’clock in the morning for some nefarious reason. Leon didn’t have any other kind of reasons.

Ahead of me, Arabella darted up the stairs and into her bedroom and emerged with a huge Texas A&M sweatshirt. She threw it at me. “Boobs.”

Bern woke up enough to roll his eyes.

“Thanks.” I pulled the sweatshirt on, hiding the fact that I wasn’t wearing a bra. “How did Augustine get here?”

At night, access to the warehouse was blocked by concrete barriers. Only one road remained open, guarded by a checkpoint staffed with our security people, who were supposed to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening. Augustine was ruthless. He could have killed us all in our sleep.

“Did our guards let him in? Did anyone call and say he was coming?”

“Funny thing,” Leon said. “We have this lovely footage.”

Bern turned the tablet toward me. A view from the surveillance camera inside the security booth showed two guards, a Hispanic female in her forties and a white man in his mid-twenties with dark hair. Lopez and Walton. A silver Bentley Bentayga pulled up to the booth. The passenger window of the car rolled down, revealing me.

“Hello, Ms. Baylor,” Walton said.

The fake Catalina nodded.

“Check the log, check the log . . .” Leon sang out.

The log of arrivals and departures lay right there, on the counter. It would show that I was already home.

The guard reached over, his hand passed above the log to the switch attached to the barrier mechanism.

“Epic fail!” Leon announced.

Walton flipped the switch and a heavy metal clang announced the spiked barrier retracting. The window rolled back up and the armored vehicle slid forward and out of view.

I couldn’t even. My ability to even was severely compromised.

Lopez frowned. “When did they get a Bentley?”

The male guard shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe it was a birthday present.”

“Dumbass,” Arabella said.

Augustine Montgomery was an illusion Prime. He could look like anyone, he could sound like anyone, and he could pass both fingerprint and retinal scanners. And he just breezed past our security like it was nothing.

“We’re in trouble,” I said.

“No shit,” Leon said.

“Catalina,” Grandma Frida said, “your mother is in the conference room with that ass and a Desert Eagle. Get in there before she puts a .50 round between his eyes.”

I opened the door, walked into the office hallway, and shut the door behind me. This part of the warehouse with its high-traffic beige carpet, a drop ceiling, and glass walls looked just like any regular workspace. The three offices on my right and the break room with a kitchenette on my left lay shrouded in gloom. Only the conference room, just past the break room, was brightly lit, and the electric light shone through the glass into the hallway.

I took a step and stopped. As of three days ago, when I officially turned twenty-one, I also became the Head of House Baylor. We were a brand-new House, formed only three years ago. Our grace period, a reprieve which shielded us from attacks by other Houses, was about to expire. I had dealt with magical heavy hitters before in the course of our business, but this would be my first interaction with another Prime as the Head of a House. And Augustine was a shark in a four-thousand-dollar suit, a sleek, deadly great white with razor-sharp teeth.

I had to do this right. I couldn’t just barge in there. Emergency or not, I had to act the part.

My stomach fluttered.

Think Prime, Head of the House, Victoria Tremaine’s granddaughter, confident, dangerous, not afraid, woken up in the middle of the night . . . annoyed. Definitely annoyed.

I walked into the conference room with a slightly irritated expression.

Augustine pivoted toward me in his chair. Louis Auchincloss, who wrote novels about polite society and old money, once famously said, “Perfection irritates as well as it attracts, in fiction as in life.” Augustine was deeply irritating.

Being an illusion Prime, Augustine crafted his appearance the way one would paint a masterpiece. His face was beautifully sculpted with defined cheekbones, a square jaw that communicated masculinity without implying brutishness, a straight nose, and a broad forehead. His cheeks were slightly concave, just enough to communicate maturity. A virtuoso barber had turned his blond, nearly platinum hair into a masterpiece. A thin pair of glasses was the only imperfection Augustine allowed himself and it wasn’t enough. There was something ageless and cold about him. He was about as alive as a marble statue.

At the other end of the table, my mother sat watching him like a coiled cobra. Her right hand stayed under the table, most likely touching the Desert Eagle .50, the largest legal caliber for a handgun in the US. It was the closest thing to handheld artillery Mom could conceal under the table. It could send a round through a full refrigerator and kill a person on the other side.

My mother spent almost ten years as a sniper and her magic guaranteed that she didn’t miss. If she killed Augustine, Montgomery International Investigations, the firm Augustine owed, would crush us. If he miraculously survived, he would kill her. As happened often in life, there were no good options. I had to get him out of here.

I made my tone cold and annoyed. “Mr. Montgomery, while you’re always welcome in our home, it’s the middle of the night.”

“I apologize,” he said. “It’s an emergency.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a phone, and showed it to me.

On the screen, an adolescent boy smiled into the camera. Bright red hair cut short, grey eyes, pale skin, and the smug grin of a teenage boy who has just gotten away with mischief. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I saw him before.

“This is Ragnar,” Augustine said. “He’s fifteen. He has a dog named Tank. He likes detective books and the Sherlock Holmes show. He plays a Ranger in Hero Tournament. Two days ago, his mother and sister died in a fire.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Right now he’s standing on the roof of Memorial Hermann Hospital. He’s thinking of jumping and he’s a Prime, so nobody can get to him. If we don’t hurry, his broken body will be the leading story on the morning news.”

Alarm rolled through me in an electric rush.

“Augustine, you know that’s not what I do. I’ve never pulled someone off a roof before. If I fail, I’ll be responsible for his death . . .”

“But you can do it. It’s within your power.” He looked straight at me. “Your sister asked me for a favor once. I’m now asking you for assistance, one Head of House to another. He has one sister left. Right now, she’s at the hospital praying he doesn’t fall to his death.”

And if I tried and failed, there would be a grief-stricken Prime who could turn all of her agony and rage onto me. This was beyond reckless.

“I don’t know if I can help you. I may make this worse.”

Augustine’s composure cracked, and a human being looked back at me through his eyes. “He’s just a child, Catalina. He already lost so much. He’s in the worst pain of his short life and he has no idea how to contain it. He just wants to stop hurting. Please try.”

I opened my mouth to tell him no and thought of a boy standing on a ledge, all alone in the dark. So desperate and hurt that he was willing to end it in the most painful way possible.

My father had stood on a ledge like that, except his ledge was cancer. We had tried so hard to pull him from it. We fought for every minute. We sold the house and moved here, into the warehouse, to pay for his medical bills. Then we mortgaged our business to Augustine to pay for experimental treatments. My dad had built Baylor Investigative Agency from the ground up. He viewed it as his legacy, a business that would feed and clothe us, and we had used it as collateral to borrow money. It felt like a betrayal, and we hid it from my father, because it would have killed him faster than any cancer. In the end, we only delayed the inevitable by a few months, but it was worth it. I would give anything for one more day with my dad. Anything.

Ragnar was only fifteen years old.

“Yes. I’ll try.”

“Are you sure?” my mother asked.

“Yes.”

“Take Leon with you,” she said.

“No.” If this situation turned ugly, I didn’t want him getting hurt.

“I’ll bring her back safe and sound,” Augustine promised.

My mother gave him her sniper stare. “You do that.”

Augustine’s silver Bentley sped south on Gessner Road. It was after 2:00 a.m. and even the Houston roads lay empty. The chauffer squeezed every drop of speed out of the heavy armored car. Normally, the trip to Memorial Hermann would’ve taken at least fifteen minutes. We would make it in less than half of that.

Augustine rode in the front passenger seat, presenting me with a view of his blond head. I really wanted to reach over and smack it. If someone told me this morning that I would end up in the backseat of Augustine’s car in the middle of the night wearing a sweatshirt over my sleep T-shirt and a pair of sneakers without socks, I would’ve asked them what they were smoking and told them to seek professional help.

I missed my weapons. It made me feel naked.

Augustine was right though. Nevada did owe him a favor.

My father was born into House Tremaine, a small House consisting only of him and my grandmother Victoria. A truthseeker like Nevada, Victoria could wrench information from a person’s mind against their will. My father had no magic and Victoria was a terrible mother, so when he turned eighteen, he had escaped and started a new life under an assumed name. In her search for him, my grandmother had rampaged through the Houses all across the continent. Just mentioning her name made powerful Primes back off.

Three years ago, before we became a House, Victoria came looking for us. Augustine knew Nevada’s identity. He could’ve shared it with my grandmother and benefited from it, but instead, he had allowed Nevada to mess with his mind, so Victoria left empty-handed. I hated debts of any kind. It would be good to get this one over with.

It didn’t change the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.

“How do you know the family?” I asked.

“Ragnar’s sister contacted MII in regard to her mother’s and sister’s deaths. She doesn’t think the fire was an accident.”

“Was it?”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss the details.”

Right. “Did you take the case?”

“She knows our rates.”

“You turned her down. Augustine! She came to you and you turned her down, and now her brother is going to kill himself.”

He looked in the rearview mirror, his expression iced over. “If I’m going to put my people in danger, I have to properly compensate them. I’m not running a charity, Catalina. You of all people should know how much can be at stake when one looks into a Prime’s death.”

Oh, I knew. When a team of hired killers stormed your home, sending tornados of fire and summoning monsters into the slaughter, it tended to leave a lasting impression.

I glanced out the windshield and saw the futuristic crown on top of the Memorial Hermann Tower, outlined with glowing red, white, and blue triangles shining against the ink-black sky from the height of thirty-three floors. Almost there.

“Did you at least tell his sister what to expect if I have to use my magic?”

“I told her the boy would have to be sedated.”

The car pulled into the parking lot. A Hispanic man, his face frantic, ran to the car and swung my door open. A blast of January air hit me. Winter in Houston tended to be mild, but a cold front had come through and the temperature had dropped to below thirty. My bare knees shook.

“Did he jump?” Augustine barked.

“No, sir.”

“Come on.” Augustine jumped out of the car.

I scrambled out of the vehicle. Wind tore at me with icy teeth.

Augustine and I hurried at a near run to the doorway. The glass doors slid open, letting us pass, and the warm air of the hallway bathed me. A group of people waited by the bank of elevators, some in scrubs, others in professional clothes, and all wearing the same panicked expression. They saw us and scurried out of the way, leaving behind a young woman with red hair. She turned. Recognition punched me.

“Runa? Runa Etterson?”

Her tear-stained eyes widened in recognition. “Catalina?”

Three years ago, at Nevada’s wedding, an enemy of House Rogan poisoned the wedding cake. The only reason any of us were alive now, Augustine included, was because Runa purged the toxins before the cake was served. She was a Prime Venenata, a poison mage. She could kill everyone in this room in seconds. And the boy on the roof was her brother. Oh my God.

Augustine strode past me into the open elevator. “Catalina, there is no time.”

I had come this far. Poison mage or no, Ragnar was still a fifteen-year-old boy on the edge of a skyscraper’s roof. If I didn’t try to save him, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.

I hurried into the elevator. The doors slid shut. The last thing I saw was Runa looking at me like I was the answer to all her problems.

The elevator hummed, carrying us upward, brightly lit and perfectly normal. I caught my reflection in the mirrored wall. I looked like I had just rolled out of bed. There was a touch of surreal in it all: me in my sweatshirt, standing next to impossibly perfect Augustine in an elevator of mirrors and electric lights and soft music. Maybe I was dreaming.

Runa’s mother and sister were dead. And Augustine must have quoted her an impossible price. I had planned to simply walk away if I managed to get the boy to safety, but this changed everything.

“You didn’t tell me he was Prime Venenata.”

“I told you he wouldn’t let anybody on the roof.”

Dread washed over me. “Did he kill anyone?”

Augustine sighed. “He’s a gentle child. He made them sick enough to turn back, but he didn’t inflict permanent damage.”

“What did he do?”

“Don’t worry. You’ll smell it.”

The numbers in the elevator’s digital display crawled up.

“When the doors open, turn left,” Augustine said. “Go to the door marked exit, and up one flight of stairs. There will be a metal door that will give you access to the roof.”

“That’s a terrible plan,” I told him.

“Ragnar will hesitate to hurt you. If he does, I’ll be there, and I’ll help.”

“If he sees you . . .”

“He won’t see me.”

The elevator doors swung open with a soft chime. I made a left and followed the hallway to the exit door and up the stairs. My hands shook.

The air stank like acid and vomit. A trail of chunky stains marked the steps. I didn’t want to look too closely at it.

The ice-cold metal door handle burned my fingertips. I pushed it and stepped onto the roof. The dark sky unfolded above me, impossibly huge and black, with the crown glowing against it. The frigid wind pierced my body, going straight through me all the way to the bone.

Ragnar stood on the very edge of the roof, a thin figure in faded jeans and a hoodie, balancing on a concrete ledge. He seemed so very small against the night, like an ant on a skyscraper.

He turned and looked at me, his face lit by the neon glow of the crown. I saw certainty and relief in his eyes. He wasn’t relieved to see me. He was relieved because he’d made up his mind and decided to jump. I had no time.

“Tell Runa I’m sorry—”

I hit him with everything I had.

When the Keeper of Records named my magic, he called me siren, which fit me well, because like the sirens of legend, I called people to me and they couldn’t resist. And like ancient sirens, I had wings, beautiful magic wings nobody could see unless I let them. They snapped open behind my back now, as the focused torrent of magic-drenched Ragnar.

He froze. His heels protruded an inch over the ledge. One slip and he would die.

“Ragnar,” I called him, turning his name into a singsong lure.

He licked his lips nervously. “Hi.”

“Hello. I’m Catalina.” Magic stretched from me to him and I wove more and more of it around him with every syllable.

“You’re so pretty,” he said.

“Thank you. It’s cold and dark. Do you think we could go inside?”

He nodded, fascinated.

I held out my hand. “It’s scary up here. Will you hold my hand?”

He moved, stumbled, teetering on the edge, his arms waving . . . My heart jerked, trying to leap out of my chest.

Augustine materialized out of thin air next to Ragnar, grabbed a handful of his hoodie, and yanked him back. Runa’s brother landed on the concrete roof.

Holy crap. My knees almost gave out.

Ragnar righted himself, walked over, took my hand, and offered me a shy smile.

I smiled back. “Let’s go inside.”

We went through the door and down the stairs with Augustine bringing up the rear. I scanned him. Clean. None of my magic had hit him. I had focused all of it in a laser-tight beam on Ragnar. Augustine could turn himself invisible. Nevada would lose her mind when I told her.

We boarded the elevator. Sweat glistened on Augustine’s flawless forehead. He was breathing like he’d run up all thirty-three floors to the roof. Ragnar held my hand very gently as if my fingers were made of glass. It wouldn’t last.

Most magic users had to put some effort into doing magic. I was the opposite. I had to hold mine in. When I was born, a nurse tried to kidnap me. She paid for it with her career. In the years that followed, before I learned to control my power, perfectly normal people did insane things to hold on to me. My elementary teacher attempted to smuggle me out of her classroom and into her car. My classmates tore out chunks of my hair so they could keep a piece of me.

Other kids were encouraged to be cute, to perform for adults. If I smiled, the adults became mesmerized, and if I wanted them to like me, they would love me with obsessive intensity. Their children would cry hysterically when I left the playground.

Right now, Ragnar loved me, madly, beyond all reason. Soon touching me wouldn’t be enough. He would want to hold me, crush me to him, rip out a lock of my hair to smell and taste. He’d want a piece of me to stroke and to bite.

The Keeper might as well have called me Orpheus. Sooner or later those who tasted my magic would want to tear me apart and they would love and worship every precious drop of my blood and shred of my flesh as they killed me. Only my doctor was immune; we didn’t know why. And my family. I didn’t need to magic them. They already loved me.

The elevator stopped. The doors swung open and Runa lunged to hug her brother. Her arms closed around him, breaking Ragnar’s hold on me.

Ragnar screamed as if cut. It was a raw animal sound. His sister let go, stunned, and he dived at me and clamped my hand in his.

A man shouldered his way through the crowd, carrying a small medical case.

“Ragnar,” I called.

He gazed at me with adoration in his eyes. I knew it was temporary, but even so, it made me cringe.

“That gentleman is going to give you a shot. I’m scared of shots. Are you?”

“No.” He shook his head. “No, I’m brave.”

“Will you show me how to be brave, Ragnar?”

He held his arm out, his gaze fixed on me. Runa hugged him. I watched the needle go in. “You’ll feel a little sleepy in a minute. It’s okay to fall asleep.”

“Don’t leave!”

“I won’t leave,” I promised. “I’ll stay here and hold your hand.”

Ragnar’s hold on my hand slipped. He sighed happily, closed his eyes, and sagged in his sister’s arms.

I turned to Augustine. “I need you to transport him back to the warehouse.”

“He needs to be under observation,” Augustine said.

“No, he needs to be back at the warehouse, so I can purge my magic from him. If he wakes up and I’m not here, he may escape and try to find me. And this time, people will die.”

Augustine turned to Runa. “It’s your call.”

I met her gaze. “You know me. You’ve seen what I can do. Please trust me on this.”

“Let’s go,” she said.

The trip home was taking considerably longer. The chauffeur seemed in no hurry, and the Bentley all but crawled up the dark street. Runa’s rented Nissan Rogue had no trouble keeping up. She had insisted on following us with Ragnar in her car.

I sat on the backseat next to Augustine. The adrenaline had worn off, leaving behind a soft fatigue. If I wasn’t in the vehicle of a dangerous Prime, I would have closed my eyes and gone to sleep.

“Well done,” Augustine said.

I didn’t need his approval. “Nevada’s debt to you is paid in full. We’re even.”

“Agreed. Although technically it was a favor to House Etterson.”

“Your dealings with House Etterson are between you and Runa. I’m surprised you cared enough to get involved tonight.”

“I know what it’s like to be responsible for a younger brother.”

Oh. Humanity from Augustine. Unexpected.

Augustine tilted his head. “House Etterson may prove a valuable ally for you, if they survive. They now owe you a favor they can’t refuse. You need allies, Catalina. The reprieve granted to your House is about to expire. People will be coming for you and yours. You’re powerful but inexperienced, and because of your sealed records, you are an unknown. Unfortunately, being an unknown isn’t enough of a deterrent.”

“What are the terms?” I asked.

Augustine raised his eyebrows.

I counted off on my fingers. “You separated me from my family. You’re aware that my older sister and my brother-in-law are out of the country and are unable to advise me at the moment. It’s the middle of the night and I’m tired from expending magic. You’ve complimented me, you’ve mentioned the danger facing my House, and we are driving at barely fifty miles per hour. You have an offer for me. Let’s hear it.”

Augustine cleared his throat. “Good. Skipping extended explanations and hand-holding makes things easier.”

I waited.

“I offer a strategic alliance between House Montgomery and House Baylor. Occasionally, cases which are uniquely suited to the talents of your family cross my desk. I’d like you to handle them. In return, I offer generous financial compensation, access to MII’s resources within the scope of those particular investigations, and the benefits of an association with my House.”

He was offering protection and guaranteed income. More, he offered contacts and data. The MII maintained an extensive network of informants and observers. Very little took place in Houston without Augustine knowing about it. He hoarded sensitive information, holding on to it until someone paid or threatened him. Access to that database was truly priceless.

Augustine was also a master at determining precisely what people needed most. It didn’t take a genius to recognize that our most urgent need was security.

I had to make a decision.

“House Baylor is flattered by your generosity. However, at this time, we must regretfully decline.”

Augustine chewed on it for half a minute.

“Why?”

“You have made a similar offer to Nevada three times. I’m aware that she declined, and I share her reasons for it.”

“Indulge me,” Augustine said.

“Very well. The real value of this partnership for us wouldn’t be in money.” Although we could certainly use it. “It would be in the connections and the elevated profile that comes from working with a Prime clientele. A way for us to enter Prime society and forge relationships and alliances that would anchor our House.”

And of course, the database and access to the MII surveillance agents, who were legendary. We both understood that, so there was no need to mention it.

I kept going. “I want to underscore that I fully understand the value of your offer. However, currently, there is a massive power imbalance between House Montgomery and House Baylor. I have seen how MII operates. If we agree to your proposal, you’ll expect us to abide by your contract, which may require us to compromise our ethics. We’re a family business. All we have is our name and our reputation. We follow only three rules. First, we try not to do anything illegal. Second, once bought, we stay loyal to the client. And third, at the end of the day, we have to be able to look our reflection in the eye. Those are the principles my father laid out for us, they are the rules my older sister followed, and I will follow them as well. If we have an alliance with House Montgomery, we’ll enter this alliance as equals, not as vassals or subcontractors, and we will adhere to our own norms of behavior.”

The silence stretched out between us.

Augustine opened his mouth. “We’re not equals.”

“Exactly. House Montgomery is a behemoth and we’re small and new. As you have said, we may or may not survive. But we must stand on our own. We worked very hard to move out of House Rogan’s shadow and I won’t trade that independence for an easy paycheck.”

Augustine’s face was impassive. “Thank you for your honesty.”

“There may be a time I’ll come to ask for your help,” I told him. “If I do that, I’ll be sure to bring information of equal or greater value.”

The Bentley turned onto our street.

“Then I’ll leave you with this piece of advice,” Augustine said. “It’s free. Do not become involved in the Etterson case. I know exactly what you’re up against, and the price I quoted her was a gift. Sometimes when you search the night, you’ll find monsters in the dark. You’re not ready.”

“I’ll keep it in mind,” I told him.

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Saturday Spotlight – Checked by Jacob Chance

Checked BannerTitle: Checked

Series: Boston Terriers Hockey

Author: Jacob Chance

Release: August 23, 2019

Genre: Sports Romance

Cover Design: Sybil Wilson from Popkitty Design

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43881685-checked 

Copy of Checked Jacob Chance Ecover FOR WEBBlurb:

They call him ‘Wilde Man’. Rumor has it he’s an animal on the ice and between the sheets.

Like the rest of the female population, I’ve been crushing on Clancy Wilde, the captain of Boston University’s hockey team, since the first time I saw him. Big, blond, and charming, he ticks all the boxes. 

When we find ourselves at a wedding, drunk and flirting, I know I can finally check this tattooed, bad boy, hockey player off my wishlist.

One night is all it was meant to be until I see two pink lines on the pregnancy test.

 How did the notch on my belt turn into a ball and chain?

Checked Jacob Chance Now AvailableBuy Links (Kindle Unlimited):

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2NoINAE

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2HmlHHb

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2zfQOQ5

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2MvFCaT


Praise for the novel:

“Oh my gosh! This book was amazing!” – Christine~justlovemybooks.com blog

“No one writes a confirmed bachelor turned swoony, love-of-your-life like Jacob. Get ready ladies, Clancy is going to steal your heart!” – Keri Loves Books

“Anytime Jacob Chance releases a novel I spare as much time as necessary to devour his words!” – Words We Love by Blog

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Author Bio:

Jacob Chance grew up in New England and still lives there today. He’s a martial artist, a football fan, a practical joker and junk food lover.

A writer of sports romcoms and romantic suspense, he plans on providing you with many more stories. 

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jchanceauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JChanceAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jchanceauthor/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/jacobchance

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jacob-chance  

Spoiled By Chance Reader’s Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/spoiledbychance/

Newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/y7fv9tyj

Website: jacobchanceauthor@wixsite.com

Saturday Spotlight – Hulk by MLJ Quigg

HULK bannerTitle: Hulk

Series: Thorny Devils MC

Author: MLJ Quigg

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release: August 16, 2019

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40574978-hulk

HulkBlurb:

“As soon as I saw you, it was like a light shining down from the heavens. As I got to know you, I realized that light went soul-deep, and I fell for you so hard.”

Hulk

After an accident and my girlfriend leaving, I didn’t think I’d find anyone to share my life with. Sure, I had my brother and the club, and I never thought I wanted anything more. That was until Claire walked into my life. She had a harrowing story behind her, and it forced my protective instincts forward, and they raged at full force. I simply had to get past the walls she’d built so tightly around her.

Claire

Some say amnesia is a new start, which is true. But what happens when you wake up one day and everything’s a blank. Let me tell you, it’s not fun but more like downright scary. 

That was my life now. Sure, I’d made a family and new memories with Monique and the triplets, but when Monique reunited with Derrick, he came with a whole new family. Hulk was the Sergeant at Arms for the club and the man who would steal my heart. Unbeknownst to me, the man who had hurt me previously was closing in, and he wanted to finish what he’d started. 

Will Hulk be able to save Claire from a madman, or will he be too late to have his angel with him forever? 

Buy Links (Kindle Unlimited):

Amazon US: bit.ly/MLJHulkUS

Amazon AU: bit.ly/MLJHulkAU

Amazon UK: bit.ly/MLJHulkUK

Amazon CA: bit.ly/MLJHulkCA 

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In the Series:

Thor (Thorny Devils MC #1)

Amazon US: http://bit.ly/MLJThorUS

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/MLJThorAU

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/MLJThorUK

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/MLJThorCA

Author bio: 

Australian author MLJ Quigg – lives in NSW, Australia, with her husband, three adult children, and six cats—yes, you heard that right, six. 

Growing up in a huge family of eight kids was always noisy and didn’t give her enough alone time to unwind.

Books have always given her an outlet from the craziness that is her life. Nothing is better than curling up with a good story to take her mind off her surroundings. 

As a new author, she hopes you enjoy her stories and helps you get out of your world and into hers for a few hours.

Author links us: 

Goodreads: bit.ly/GoodreadsMLJQuigg

Amazon: bit.ly/MLJQuiggAmazon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormljquigg/

AuThursday – Kinney Scott

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi Tina, thanks for the invite to your blog. I’ve spent my entire life in the Pacific Northwest and currently live in Olympia. My husband and I raised three kids in a small town in Western Washington. When they all headed to college, I was inspired to finish my degree. Completing that milestone gave me the courage to return to writing. 

How do you make time to write?

I’m fortunate that I can write nearly full time. I’m most creative in the morning and like to wake up, feed the dog, grab a coffee and then get words on the page. Balancing writing with marketing challenges me. If I check on book sales or emails in the morning my creative engine shuts down. So, I try to guard those early morning hours – and sometimes put my computer on airplane mode. The best writing days happen when I forget to turn the internet connection back on. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do, fortunately, it doesn’t hit me that often. When I hit a wall, I switch gears and spend a day editing, and that change usually resets whatever went off-kilter. I find that time away from the computer, maybe an early morning walk or a few hours of sweaty yard work helps. 

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it. 

I write contemporary romance, mainly in a small-town setting, though my work in progress is set in Portland, Oregon. The books I loved to read when I was young were the “romance classics” – Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, East of Eden, Great Expectations, and everything Jane Austen. I didn’t start reading modern romance novels until later. I love the genre because romance characters have the emotional volume turned up high, and their everyday lives become a backdrop for extraordinary conflict and love.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

For now, I’ve decided to publish everything independently. I’m 53, and I doubt most traditional publishers would take a chance on me. I may submit work someday if the right opportunity presents itself, but for now, I’m consumed by improving my writing, finding other authors who want to collaborate our efforts, and figuring out how to market what we’ve written.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?

I find that writing magnifies my introverted side. One on one, people are great, but crowds exhaust me. Even though I’m really not drawn to the big book events, I value my readers and like to meet my fans online. Someday, I hope to meet the fans of the In Ashwood series in person. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“When you’re going through hell keep on going. Never, never, never give up.” ~Winston Churchill

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. And read it at least once a year. Gather a group of writers you can trust and support each other, then give as much to those writers as you receive from them.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

They can find me at https://kinneyscott.com/ and signing up for my newsletter is the best way to stay in touch.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kinneywrites/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kinney.scott.author/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kinneyscott

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Trouble Undone releases mid-August 2019.

Here’s a little bit from Chapter One of Trouble Undone:

TroubleUndoneNewSmallerWebUse

A soft zip at the tent’s door woke her. “Just me, Kels.” Mark’s familiar voice woke her senses. She eased her sleeping bag open, pulled an extra blanket from her knapsack and made room. The tent filled with Mark’s scent as he slid out of his clothes and settled in.

“God, you feel good,” he said when his cool body made contact with her sleep-warmed skin. “You tired, mermaid?” he asked with a hint of need.

“Yeah. I swam today.” The waves had absorbed her stress, leaving her body slack. He spooned her back, thighs, and butt against his muscled torso, caging her with his arm. She felt his erection nestled against her ass but was too tired to respond.

Before returning to sleep, Kels coiled her fingers into his and eased Mark’s hand from her hip. She slid his calloused touch under her cotton tank top to cup her breast. Mark stroked the velvet skin with his thumb and slowly inhaled the ginger scent from her damp hair.

 If your readers want an early look at the entire first chapter it will be on my blog soon.  https://kinneyscott.com/blog/ 

Author Interview – Alice Gilmore

Tourbanner_Alice A MemoirHave you ever had an imaginary friend?

No. Except that I have often borrowed famous people into my imagination to have an argument with or even a gentle discussion.

Do you have any phobias?

I am getting worse about heights, especially, and speed as I grow older. Slimy things. Much as I admire spiders and know that they are mostly goodies in their tiny worlds they still give me the creeps. 

Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

I often have radio 3 on in another room so that I can barely hear it but can feel it in the house. The same for jazz or popular music pre-Beatles. Never rock ‘n’ roll or modern pop.

Do you ever read your stories out loud?

I haven’t read this book (my first) out loud but used to invent bedtime stories to tell my children and then write them down afterwards. 

Tell us about your main character and who inspired him/her.

Well, it is me (or I, whichever you prefer). What can I say about me? It is all in the memoir. Who inspired me? My mother and father I suppose (glib answer).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GENRE: Non-fiction

BLURB:

Few, if anyone, could have had a life like Alice Gilmore. It was almost unbelievable yet carried on under the cover of a respectable middle-class existence.

You might strongly disapprove of what she did, but Alice was determined. She overcame insurmountable obstacles to keep the love she longed for.

Her single-minded fight to live out her love makes a gripping, riveting story that one eminent literary person called ‘staggeringly readable’. It is shocking. Her methods will upset some, but are you with her or against her? Your decision.

This is no misery memoir. It’s a story told with joy, wit, and fervor – the astonishing story of the overwhelming love Alice Gilmour was determined to live out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alice Gilmore v3Excerpt:

I am going to tell you our story, my darlings. It is really only for you three and one other (you know who) but I can’t help hoping that the world will read it, which is why I shall probably publish it. But not for some years. When you’re fully grown up and have flown the nest. God knows what they will make of it, the world I mean, whoever they are, but I am not suggesting that any rules or taboos should be changed by our story or new rules made. Leave all that alone. Our story, perhaps I should say my story, just is. You could tritely call it the exception that proves the rule. Perhaps that is just what it is: unique. I doubt that but it is certainly extraordinary. I have carefully chosen those words. Any old event of yawning banality is called ‘amazing’, ‘fantastic’, ‘unbelievable’, ‘fabulous’ in our current jargon. Whatever else people may call my story it is certainly extraordinary. 

It is, above all, a love story, an all-consuming love story, though I have never felt consumed by love, rather continually renewed. But isn’t that what love should do to you? Consume you and renew you constantly like the phoenix. And it brought with it another constant emotion: fear. And pain. The fear of pain. The fear of the pain of losing it, this wonderful state. The word love doesn’t fully express what I/we felt. Another word that is more or less totally debased.

Cover Reveal – Breaking Everly by K.L. Jessop

breaking everly_cover reveal bannerTitle: Breaking Everly

Author: K.L. Jessop

Release: September 3, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Sports Romance

Cover design: Najla Qamber Designs.

Cover image: Lindee Robinson Photography

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2K7nBE

BreakingEverly_Ebook_Amazon (1)Blurb:

Two hearts. One extraordinary connection. A love like no other…

Everly.

From the moment I laid eyes on him at the age of fourteen, I knew he was my forever.

We made memories.

We shared our dreams.

He was my world.

But one night, everything changed.

My beautiful life was ripped apart, my heart broken into thousands of pieces, and my only hope of finding freedom was to run.

Life became dark—unbearable—until devastation hit again. 

Now, the only way to heal my heart is to make a promise that will break his.

Adam.

Her smile stole my heart the very second I saw her.

Her eyes became my home and I knew our love would last forever.

But then, everything changed.

She was my world, my only love, and I have spent years trying to figure out what I did to lose her.

I resigned myself to the fact I wasn’t going to see her again until fate played its role.

Now she’s back, but as much as I want to help her to heal, I’m still working on fixing my own heart— the one she broke.

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Author Bio:

Kate has lived in South West England her entire life just on the edge of Dartmoor where the moorland goes on for days. It’s beautiful, breath-taking and occasionally rather wet. 

She is a dyslexic author and finds things challenging which often leads to banging her head against the wall or searching for vodka. 

Kate loves anything creative, her college years were spent in the art room, she has numerous qualifications in advanced nail art and as well as writing her passion is photography.

She probably swears way more than she should. Her mum makes the best cupcakes in history, and she goes weak at the knees for a guy with a five o’clock shadow. 

Social Media links:

Website: http://www.authorkljessop.co.uk/

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorK.L.Jessop/

Facebook Reader Group: http://bit.ly/KLsReadingRoom

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/GReadsK-L-J

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jessop30K

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_k.l.jessop/

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/kljessop30/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/k.l.jessop

Bookbub Link: http://bit.ly/2HINmTt