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.

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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.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ilona_andrews 

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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 – 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/ 

Cover Reveal – Gunner by L. Wilder

gunner_cover reveal bannerTitle: Gunner

Series: Satan’s Fury MC, Memphis Chapter

Author: L. Wilder

Genre: MC Romance (standalone)

Release Date: August 14, 2019

Cover Design: Mayhem Cover Creations 

FullSizeRBlurb: 

Some risks are worth taking.

Gus wasn’t just my president. He was the father I never had. He was steadfast and strong. I looked up to him and trusted him without question. 

I’d never seen the man show a single sign of uncertainty until the day August James showed up at the Satan’s Fury clubhouse. None of us knew why the beautiful brunette had come knocking at our door, but we’d soon learn she was in need of help—the kind of help only a man like Gus could give. 

When he didn’t turn her away, it became my job to watch over and protect her. I tried to keep my distance, but she drew me in with her soulful, dark eyes and sultry curves. 

I wanted to make her mine, but August had secrets—secrets she wasn’t even aware of. 

In our world, there are some lines you just don’t cross, but for her, I was about to cross them all.

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Also Available:

Blaze: https://amzn.to/2HO8yb4

Shadow: https://amzn.to/2Mc8vZM

Riggs: https://amzn.to/2T1mPEl

Murphy: https://amzn.to/2Cbo398

FullSizeR(1)Author Bio:

Leslie Wilder grew up in a small town in West Tennessee. A country girl at heart, she’s always thought that life is too short, but she had no idea how short it really was until her brother passed away in 2014. She’s always been an avid reader, loving the escape only a great book can give, and wondered if she had what it took to write one of the wild romances she’d come to adore. With the support of her family and friends, she published Inferno: A Devil Chaser’s MC, one year after her brother’s death. With him in mind, she fulfilled her lifetime dream of writing. Since then, she’s completed the Devil Chaser’s Series and continued on with the Satan’s Fury MC Series. She has so many stories in her head, and can’t wait to share each and every one.

Leslie has been blown away by the support of her readers, appreciating every message, review, and encouraging word she’s received over the past year. She looks forward to continuing this journey with them for years to come. 

Social media Links:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wilder_leslie

Instagram: http://instagram.com/LWilderbooks

Website: http://www.lwilderbooks.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1RGsREL

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/311622.L_Wilder

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/L-Wilder/e/B00NDKCCMI/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/l-wilder

#AuThursday – Dee S. Knight

DeePlease welcome Dee S. Knight to the Clog Blog!  Dee, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

As Dee S. Knight I have been writing for about 16 years, taking breaks every now and then. I’m so glad to have found writing! I’ve worked at many different jobs, but writing is the only one I’ve thought I could do for a long time and be happy. It’s pretty different from book to book—because I get to make things up and do what I want. What fun!! Before and during my writing years I taught high school and also trained adults, worked as an acquisitions librarian, drove a truck cross-country, worked as a clerk and a receptionist, did gift wrapping one memorable Christmas, and headed a technical writing department and edited training manuals. You’d think I couldn’t hold down a job, lol! But in my defense, married to the man of my dreams who worked as a computer consultant, we moved an awful lot. Living various places and doing a lot of different things has given me a rich background to draw from when writing, so I can’t complain.

Dee writes erotic romance and expanded briefly in ménage romance. But as Anne Krist, I’ve written sweet(er) romance, and as Jenna Stewart, historical and ménage romance. It’s all been a kick!

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

I can deal with small groups—maybe up to eight or so. But any larger and I hide in a corner. Being introverted has never been a problem, though. I’m happy with who I am, and as long as I have a good book available to read, I’m happy being on my own. Well, that’s not quite true—I need the people I love nearby, too. I don’t think spending a lot of time alone has bothered my work too much. As long as I hear about hubby’s experiences and can draw from my own, it all seems to work.

What are your current projects?

I’m trying to finish up Book 2 in the Good Man series, a trio of books about identical triplets. Book 1, Only a Good Man Will Do, Daniel Goodman, walks a fine line between being respectable and staid and being with the woman he lusts after, a former exotic dancer. In the current book, One Woman Only, brother Jonah is a mechanic extraordinaire who wants a second chance with his high school love. The third book, featuring genius brother Mark is still in the planning stages.

 

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

Actually, Vanessa Hart and I started a book collaboration but other deadlines and life swept us up before we could finish it. I later expanded my part of the book into Daniel’s story in Only a Good Man Will Do. I call Resolutions a book written by four friends about four friends. Vanessa Hart, Jasmine Haynes, Leigh Wyndfield and I wrote separate novellas but each story began and ended at a common point, making it a collaborative process. I love that book. And I’ve been in anthologies. Ain’t Your Mama’s Bedtime Stories is a grouping of several short stories all built around fairy tales. Right now I’m in a supernatural anthology coming out this fall from Black Velvet Seductions called Mystic Desire. Several BVS authors contributed, with each short story carrying a supernatural theme.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do. I had what I consider writer’s block with my paranormal romance Passionate Destiny. I started writing the book in February and by October I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Finally, I said to myself that if I didn’t have the book finished by Thanksgiving, I’d give up and put it away. Maybe it’s a stubborn streak, but that was the incentive I needed to get it done. I sent it in to Liquid Silver Publishing a week before Thanksgiving! I’m glad I did, too because it went on to be a Romantic Times Top Pick!

How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any? 

*sigh* Sadly, I have received rejection letters. I wouldn’t mind them if they gave some idea of why there was a rejection. “The work isn’t right for us” is the typical reason, and okay, I eventually have come to deal with that one. I can see where not every brilliant piece of writing, that sparkles with witty dialogue, livable, breathable locations, conflict that cuts like a razor blade, and characters that feel like your next-door neighbor might not be right for every agent or editor… Yes, I can see that, and understand it.

Oh heck. No, I don’t, lol. I don’t deal with rejections any better than any other writer. I scream at the moon for a night or two, figuratively cry on hubby’s shoulder, and complain to my mom about how unfair life is after throwing pillows at the wall. And then I move on. What else is there to do?

I will say, however, that there are ways agents/editors can soften the blow a bit. I was rejected by one agent (who shall remain nameless though her name is burned into my memory) whose rejection letter was folded so many times the letter was an inch or so high and the standard text (“Thank you for submitting your work. It’s not for us at this time. Best of luck in the future.”) looked to be mimeographed!! Yes. It was not printed or copied. It’s like she prepared thousands of rejections in 1965 and stored them up to use over the years. And I know because I was rejected by her more than once. That’s like kicking an author when she’s down. At least add the author’s name, send the letter to a printer, and stamp your name. And fold it right. Be professional, even if you have to reject an author’s work.

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

I’ve only used online publishers for my books. And I’ve been with some of the best publishers, really. Liquid Silver Publishing, Siren-Bookstrand, Samhain (when they were in business), and now Black Velvet Seductions. I’ve heard horror stories about publishing houses but have been lucky enough to avoid the problems. I will say, it’s sad that so many publishers are going out of business. I’ve thought about self-publishing, but if you called me chicken you wouldn’t be wrong! 😉

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write, write, write! Learn some self-editing so when you submit your work the publisher won’t find a reason to turn you away. Accept editing with grace (this is sometimes a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do situation). Find a good critique partner. Don’t believe all the praise your relatives and best friends heap upon your book—they’re usually too nice to be helpful when it comes to improving your work. And (did I mention?) WRITE!!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: https://nomadauthors.com

Blog: http://nomadauthors.com/blog

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DeeSKnight

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeeSKnight2018

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/265222.Dee_S_Knight

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B079BGZNDN

Newsletter (sample): https://preview.mailerlite.com/o2g1i0?fbclid=IwAR0COlyuPY-Hu30KTBdT092j_GZeuN5z4pc1LtsvHTyr6IbiSpsGqeIgT90

FBBanner

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

I do, thanks! And thanks for hosting me, Tina.

This is from Only a Good Man Will Do, when Daniel, a teacher at Westover Academy, first admits that he’s drawn to Eve Star like a kid to chocolate. He knows she’s bad for his future but can’t help wanting her in his present.

Knight_OnlyGoodMan_236x360Daniel took his seat in the Academy dining room with a few of the boys from his dormitory. Each table sat six, with a permanent place for a dorm master or table monitor. Each month, the boys rotated tables, assuring they spent casual dining time with their dorm master and others and learned proper table manners. Usually, Daniel enjoyed meals with his young charges. They were more willing than the older students to talk about what happened during the day, and he often picked up on budding problems by listening to their conversations. For this reason, even though late afternoon-early evening was the part of the day he had free, he usually liked to attend dinner.

However, he’d changed his calls to Eve from four-thirty to after dinner, and now Daniel counted the minutes until the evening meal ended. He urged the boys not to tarry after dessert and then cursed the fact he had to walk sedately rather than sprint back to the dorm. Once there, he made sure to lock the doors and get comfortable before punching her number on the telephone face. A minor dorm crisis requiring both him and his assistant had prevented their saying much more than hello yesterday, and today, though he’d just eaten, he felt like a starving man.

“Nothing a little sugar won’t cure,” he muttered, using Southern slang for kisses.

At the same moment, a deep, male voice answered. “Well, honey, you ain’t getting’ it from me.” The man laughed. “Hey, doc. Eve told me to tell you she had to go out, and if she missed you, she’d call back as soon as possible.”

“Hi, Jed.” Of course, Eve shouldn’t be hanging around waiting for his calls, but he couldn’t help the disappointment that hit like a sledgehammer. “Say, why’d you call me doc?”

Jed laughed. “Ask Eve.”

“I’ll do that. Thanks.” Well. Daniel set the phone back on the side table. All dressed up and nowhere to go. He looked at the remaining term papers he had to grade, but reading the opinions of high school boys on any subject, much less Romeo and Juliet, a love story that ended tragically, didn’t appeal. What he wanted was to hear the voice of the woman who’d ridden him hard and put him away wet on Tuesday evening.

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AuThursday – Allie McCormack

AMc Indie Author-1200Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a disabled US Army vet, living in sunny Tucson, Arizona with two cats. I’ve been a writer all my life… I remember hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight scribbling in a notebook when I was in 3rd grade… but I didn’t start “writing” ™ as in, writing a complete novel, until 2000. That was a life-changer!! In one month I went from “always wanted to write” to “OMG I can really do this!”

How do you make time to write?

Due to my disability, I have lots of pain and related insomnia issues which make writing challenging. So basically… if I’m lucky enough to feel awake, alert and kick-ass despite the pain, I write until I don’t. It sucks for having any kind of actual schedule, but in fact, it works out pretty well for me.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

It isn’t that I disbelieve in it, but I don’t really suffer from it. I mean, I do have phases where I don’t feel like writing, but block, no. I’m a pantser, so if I get stuck in a particular scene or the story just isn’t coming to me, I work on something else instead until I figure things out.

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

I write romance genre; both paranormal and multicultural. I just love romance, and happy endings, and good things happening to people. I’ve never written anything else, and never wanted to!

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

I’m self-publishing all my books. I like having the control… choosing the title, the cover, not having someone tell me what I can and can’t write. Mind you, I’m not *against* traditional publishing, and I’d adore if Berkely (who’s never heard of me) would suddenly discover me, right? LOL. But at this point, I’d need to be offered a pretty good reason (marketing!! Promotion!!) to make the change.

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

I’m totally an Introvert, also a recluse. I don’t think it affects my writing, so much as it does the marketing, ugh! Introverts may not get out there and mingle, but we tend to be very good at observation, which is all to the better for writing purposes!

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

You can’t edit a blank page.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Just sit down and write. Seriously. That’s the best way to learn. Yep, you’ll make mistakes but you’ll also learn from them. And mistakes can be corrected. But first, you have to write!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.alliemccormack.com

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

Sure! This is from Wishes in a Bottle, my first paranormal romance:

“Come on, come on.”

Robert cast a nervous glance about him, hoping that no neighbors could see through the overgrown jungle that his sister-in-law had allowed to take over the yard. If this were his, he’d rip out all these stupid plants and seed it with grass for a smooth lawn. And no swings or sandboxes to muck the place up, either. He wasn’t having any more children to take his wife’s attention and keep her from taking care of her husband, who should have been her main concern. No, a brick barbecue was what he’d have, maybe a nice hot tub.

He struggled to fit the slim piece of plastic through the narrow space between the door and its jam. Everyone went on and on about how door locks could be opened with credit cards, but it sure didn’t seem to be working. Still, he was confident it wouldn’t be much longer. Alessandra was such a fool, so trusting. She didn’t even have deadbolts on her doors. Didn’t she know that a simple knob lock could be easily opened?

“Yes!”

The tongue of the latch gave, and the plastic slid forward, holding the tongue in its groove, and the handle turned under Robert’s fingers.

From the other side of the door, he heard a low rumbling. Startled, he straightened, peering through the glass window set into the door. Staring back, almost head-even with him, was the largest, blackest Great Dane he had ever seen in his life. Its great jaws were parted, the teeth frighteningly sharp and white. The snarls emerging from those open jaws were vicious.

The dog lunged, flinging its huge body against the door separating them. Robert let go of the doorknob and pushed away so hard he fell, almost cracking his skull on the cement step. He pushed the pain aside, scrambling back from the door, praying that the slender door jam would hold as the full weight of the beast hit it again, shaking the door. Robert thanked God that he hadn’t actually opened the door and that the kitchen door opened inward, not outward.

The animal ceased his lunges at the door and was standing on his hind legs, paws on the window sill, watching Robert through the glass. Slavering, menacing snarls crescendoed to loud, ferocious barking, the dog’s eyes fixed on him with murderous intent.

Robert picked himself up from the ground and ran for his car. Who would have thought that such a frivolous, irresponsible woman would keep such a dangerous animal? Robert reached his car, almost falling into the driver’s seat in his haste to reach safety, not breathing easily until the door was safely shut. His hands were shaking and he fumbled with the keys, fingers trembling as he found the right one and fit it into the ignition. He backed out of the driveway, aimed the car down the road and headed out of there in a screech of burned rubber. If he never came to this house again in his life, it would be too soon.

Back in the house, Julian dropped onto all fours and padded into the living room. Now that the intruder had been repulsed, the danger of invasion that had brought the canine’s instincts to the fore, Julian was in complete control of the animal body he had inhabited. Stopping to sniff the books on the coffee table, and drawing in Alessandra’s scent on her sofa, her easy chair, the shawl she had left draped on one corner of the bookshelf, he found he was rather enjoying the experience. It was rather cool, in fact.

He walked about the house, experiencing the long, easy strides of the Great Dane, his toenails clicking on the polished wood floors. He paused in front of the television. The morning news that had just come on when Robert had shown up was over by now, but there would be more. He curled his massive body up on the hearth-rug before the fireplace, feeling a bit awkward managing the unaccustomed long limbs, but he achieved a comfortable position finally and laid his head on his outstretched paws. His doggy self heaved a sigh and prepared to snooze, even while he kept an eye on the television. This was definitely nice.

His jaws parted and his tongue lolled out as he laughed to himself, wondering what Alessandra would think if she came home to a large, black Great Dane that evening.

 

AuThursday – Sade Rena

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

How far back would you like to go? Lol! Well, like most, writing has been a part of my life for pretty much all my life. It’s all I ever wanted to do, but for a long while, I didn’t think it was actually persuadable as a career. So, after high school, I joined the workforce in the Hospitality industry where I gave 10 years before furthering my education in the area of accounting. Now, I work as an Accounting Analyst for a Non-Profit. It’s rewarding work, but not my true passion. In 2015, I learned of self-publishing and knew then was the time to get my work out there.

How do you make time to write?

Like I do everything else in life. With a schedule! I’m not super OCD when it comes to calendar planning, but I do take a look at what time I have available and work with that. Most of my writing happens in the morning before work. I often wake early, and drive into the office and write until my coworkers arrive. If I have a strict deadline, I will write in the evenings, but that is rare. Mostly because by the end of the day, I’m not as creative after looking at numbers and dealing with the ups and downs of being an adult. lol

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I believe that writer’s block can be different things for different authors. Personally, I haven’t found myself in a position where I’m uninspired. I seriously have a note section on my phone filled with plot bunnies and add to it daily. Now, while I haven’t been uninspired, I have found myself to lack motivation sometimes. That usually happens when there’s a lot going on in life, that hinders me from being able to enjoy my writing process.

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

I am a romance author and I love it because I love love. I enjoy being able to create two—or more people and give them this epic love or a complicated one. I love finding unconventional ways for them to meet and see how they over obstacles that may be stacked against them. I love being able to, in a way live out my fantasies and finding readers that may share them. Primarily I write interracial romance because I love, love and I love it in any form that it comes in.

Now, romance is my first love, actually, I got my start in writing with street fiction, but as I grew as a reader, I did as a writer as well. So, while romance is my first love, I enjoy writing and reading fantasy. I do not currently have any works in that genre, but they will be coming to the market over time. The human brain is a beautiful thing to me, and I love fantasy for just about the same reasons as I love romance. I can let my imagination run wild and tell a story that fits my taste and share that with the world.

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

I am currently Indie published and will be primarily indie for a long time to come. I enjoy the freedom to set my own deadlines and remaining in complete control of the creative process. It’s a lot of work, but so is anything that’s worth something. I do, plan to pitch my fantasy titles to a traditional publishing company when the time comes.

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

I am an extraverted introvert. I enjoy being alone, but I am a friendly person that’s pretty easy to get along with. It affects my work in different ways. Most of my friends know that I don’t like being out a lot, so I don’t get many invitations to things, which is great for keeping productive. Except when it’s not and I have to decide to postpone my writing to be social or not. When it comes to the writing side to things, I’ve made a lot of new author buddies which has been great for my work. Because the majority of the time, we’re talking about one of our projects. Sometimes we may get carried away and not get much writing done, but at least we’re still thinking about our stories.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

It’s one that I coined for myself when I ran my subscription box business. I use it in all my newsletter signatures now and try to live by it. “Stay positive. Stay creative. Be bold.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

You know how they say, “dance like no one is watching”? Well I say, write like no one is reading. People can’t love your book until it’s written, and they can’t love it if you don’t. So, try not to let people pressure or influence the way you tell your story. Find what it is you like about stories in general and make those areas your own. There aren’t any new ideas in 2019 and there’s more than one way to tell a story, just keep writing and tell the best version of it that you can. If you suffer from imposter syndrome, get over it. You deserve to tell your story and believe me there are people out there that wants to read it. So, write until your fingers cramp and know that with each book your finish and read, you get better and better.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Amazon ~ https://www.amazon.com/Sade-Rena/e/B00YTIB3UU/

BookBub ~ https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sade-rena

Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/pg/saderenawrites/

Goodreads ~ https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14040377.Sade_Rena

Instagram ~ https://www.instagram.com/saderena_author/

Twitter ~ https://twitter.com/saderena_author

Website ~  www.saderena.com

Newsletter ~ http://bit.ly/TribeSR

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Blurb for Dirty Calls :

New to town and overworked, all Jessica Daly wants is to put herself to sleep, but gets more than she bargains for when she answers a misdialed call. Curiosity takes hold and instead of hanging up, she joins in, enjoying herself way too much. Once satisfied and slightly embarrassed, she ends the call, finding comfort in knowing she’ll never have to hear from him again.

After a long day in the office, Kade Braxton needs a release and is pleasantly surprised when he learns the call to his on again off again fling, Candace, is answered by another woman. Intrigued by her boldness and the sensuality of her voice, he rings her line the next day to finish what they started.

This is crazy, right? Of course, it is, but against her better judgment, she begins to long for his obsessive nature. An easy choice to make considering they’ve never seen each other and never will. But just as their connections heat up, Jessica learns shocking news that makes this whole affair of dirty calls somewhat forbidden, yet still sexy as hell.

Dirty Calls (2)Excerpt:

“You hung up on me before I could get off last night. Doesn’t seem fair,” a deep voice pours out at me.

It’s the guy from last night. The rattle in his tone sends an oh-so-familiar shiver down my spine. I contemplate my response, toying with the thought of obliging, giving him an answer I’m sure he wants. Then I consider how crazy it all is, how loony I am for being turned on by his calls. What does that say about me if I give in to his request? Will he continue to call if I do?

“Are you there, beautiful?”

“How do you know I’m beautiful?” I ask after a moment of silence.

“You’ve gotta be! Only a goddess can make those delicious fucking sounds you made last night. Now, are you going to be a good girl and let me get off?”

My nipples harden at his request, pushing against the fabric of my bra. The line goes quiet and I struggle over what to say next. This is insane, borderline obsessive even. I should definitely hang up, but curiosity wins every time. “I’m in the middle of work.”

“Perfect,” he growls. “Do you have an office or a cubicle?” he continues with bated breath.

I sense he’s already started, not really caring to wait for permission. The thought instantly arouses me as I’m making my way to the door. “I have an office,” I add, closing it lightly before locking it and flipping the blinds closed.

“Then shut the door, sit that pretty ass of yours down at your desk, and wait for me to come.”

“If I do this, will you stop calling?” I ask, secretly pleading for him to say no.

“I don’t think you want that, sweets.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“The way you fucked yourself to the sound of my voice last night tells me otherwise. And I doubt you’d be preparing to phone bone me.”

I go quiet again, and he chuckles.

“Is the door closed?”

“Yes,” I whimper.

“Good girl!”

Dirty Calls to be featured in the Obsessive Temptations Boxed Set releasing June 11, 2019. Pre-order for $0.99!!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2FpQ3rE

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

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2Y50ckK

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2Jrnnm77