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.

silver dagger logo (1)

 

Advertisements

AuThursday – Christina Lynn Lambert

christina-lynn-lambert-author-bio-pic.jpgPlease welcome author Christina Lynn Lambert to the Clog Blog!  Christina, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I didn’t originally plan on being a writer. I went to school for psychology and then got an MBA. I worked in sales, then as a case manager for people with disabilities. I was also a running coach and a personal trainer. I liked to write poetry and short stories in my spare time but considered any writing I did just a fun hobby, not something to ever share. When I was studying to take a certification in personal training, intending to take my small business to the next level, I had this idea for a story. The idea wouldn’t leave me alone until I began to write it out in my composition notebook. 

Love, courage, hope, and second chances are a few of my favorite themes. I look forward to writing many more stories with strong heroines and imperfect but determined characters. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time outside and finding ways to avoid cooking. I live in beautiful Virginia with my husband, two daughters, and a sweet, hairy monster of a dog. 

Where do your ideas come from?

For me, the ideas always begin with the characters. I create heroes and heroines who have survived tragedies, who have made mistakes but haven’t lost their humanity. Working in sales and other hectic jobs helped me see the uglier side of human nature. The greedy, lost, warped out villains I create are often caricatures created from different interactions I’ve observed.

What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?

The books I have written so far are a paranormal romance with a major suspense element. I like the paranormal genre because I can bend reality to create a strange, extraordinary version of our world. I add a dose of suspense to everything I write because I have always loved to read stories that keep me wondering what will happen next.

How do you make time to write? 

It’s hard to find the time I need to go into the deep concentration mode it takes to create the plotline for a story and write the first draft. My kids interrupt me repeatedly even though they can clearly see me at the computer, either lost in thought with my head in my hands because an idea is evading me or I’m trying to push a pen across paper or type as fast as the words are forming in my mind. I try to manage my writing time carefully and use moments where I am doing something solitary like going for a run or taking a shower to reflect on ideas. 

Do you ever get Writer’s Block?

When I get stuck in writer’s block hell, I try to do something else other than stare at a blank page. Often, I’ll work on another book or poem when I can’t figure out how to move forward on a current work in progress. Sometimes I fall into the procrastination trap and avoid the writer’s block issue by cleaning my whole house, reading a book, or watching something on Netflix.   

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

Rejection is all part of the process. The first book I wrote received a rejection but the letter I received had some really helpful suggestions on how to make the book better and I used those suggestions. The rude rejection letters that basically say “thanks but no thanks, your work is trash” aren’t fun for anyone to receive and I recommend not taking that kind of thing personally. After any type of rejection, I look at my work again to see if there’s anything I can do to improve the manuscript and after changes are made, I start sending it out again elsewhere. 

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

I’m probably closer to being an introvert. I’m not really shy but I am quiet, though I find that works out alright for me. I get a lot of story ideas just by observing the ordinary things people do and how they do them, then I ask myself how those people would react if something amazing or catastrophic happened right then and there.  

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Joining writers’ groups can help put aspiring writers in touch with people who can share great advice on writing, publishing, and marketing. Joining groups, whether online or locally also helps writers connect with one another, which can make the writing journey seem less daunting and isolated. I also suggest reading books about all aspects of the writing process, including marketing. Take writing classes if you can. Most importantly, don’t give up. 

There are days when I want to throw my computer out the window because I’ve rewritten the same sentence twenty-five times and can’t think of what should happen next in the story. When this happens, I take a step back, maybe work on a different story or find any number of other ways to distract myself. Every stage of writing has the potential to be hard or overwhelming, but don’t stop writing. Even when you’re faced with piles of rejection letters, keep writing! 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

WordPress: https://christinalynnlambertwordpress.com 

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/chris4lamb

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15900423.Christina_Lynn_Lambert 

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Christina-Lynn-Lambert/e/B01MCYK0K7

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

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

I would love to share an excerpt from steamy, suspenseful paranormal romance, Bear’s Edge, which is book 2 in my Stranger Creatures series.

Bear's Edge-sc-Amazon-NEWWhat is it about Grant? Looking at the man beside her was no hardship; that was for damn sure. He had the tall, broad body of a heavyweight UFC fighter, but he never used his size to intimidate the people around him. Shayla wanted to sweep his wavy, slightly shaggy dark hair out of his gorgeous brown eyes. His dark hair and eyes complemented his bronze skin. He was hot, in a serious, dangerous kind of way. But in the two and a half years he had worked for her, she had hardly learned anything about him. 

The waitress at the popular nature-themed restaurant, the Greenhouse Effect, showed them to their table. The plants growing around all the walls and columns made the place look like a wild garden. The smell of lavender and jasmine mixed with the delicious scents drifting from the kitchen. She tried not to drool, but breakfast seemed like eons ago. Shayla sat next to Sydney and across from Grant. A too-tall centerpiece of yellow-and-purple flowers blocked most of her view. Being short occasionally sucked. Grant moved the centerpiece to the side and gave her a shy smile. His smile made her want answers, among other things. 

She knew he was from New Jersey and had gone to school in Wisconsin before moving to Richmond, Virginia, to work with Brook’s Comprehensive, a huge company that did everything from urban development projects to financial management for celebrities and politicians. 

“Why do you want to make such a big change from a large corporation to a simple start-up company?” she’d asked him in the interview. 

“Honestly?” He had paused then, the question hanging. 

“Yes,” she’d assured him. She’d take honesty over smooth-faced, calculated interview answers any day. 

“I want to live somewhere I can have a house and some land. Maybe spend more time outside. Also, I want a job where I can do more than just run numbers for projects where I never see the outcome.” 

The last part had seemed to come as a surprise to him. Maybe he hadn’t really known he wanted something more than a change of scenery until he had said it out loud. 

His answer had been simple and honest instead of a long, drawn-out elaboration about the projected success of new companies in the area or an extensive list of projects he had helped to fruition. She could look at his résumé for those kinds of details. He had wanted to be there, so she’d hired him. Simple as that—after a clean background check and drug screening, of course. 

Grant the mystery man—a delicious mystery Shayla would like to unravel, piece by piece, layer by layer. Ah, but I can’t. I’m his boss. In a different lifetime, if we didn’t have the whole boss-employee obstacle going on…. No harm in looking, though, just a little, since he sat so close. She promised herself to keep her thoughts G-rated—okay, maybe PG-13. Grant had a talent with numbers and paid attention to detail. Also, he was a little shy and standoffish to a lot of people when it came to anything other than work. Shayla wondered where he sometimes went in his head, because, every now and then, his smile slipped from his face, just for a second, before being replaced with one a little harder. None of my business, she reminded herself. 

She had really wanted to hug him this morning after seeing him so frustrated but decided it might be wiser and more appropriate to show him there were a few people on his side. Seeing him break things and try to be all strong and humorous about it made Shayla want to unravel the Grant mystery even more. It kind of hurt to watch him pretending to be fine, but all she could offer him was lunch and good conversation. Hopefully, Mr. Strong and Silent—Sydney called him that sometimes, although never to his face—knew Shayla and Sydney cared. And Shayla did care. Because he’s a friend. Just a friend. 

Grant raised his soda in a toast. “To things not being worse,” he announced with a rueful half-smile. “And, uh”—he cleared his throat—“to good company.” He nodded at Sydney, and when he met Shayla’s gaze, he held it. In his dark eyes, she saw hunger, wide-open desire, and about a million other things she couldn’t puzzle out. Grant looked at her that way sometimes, and she did her best to ignore it. He might have a small crush on her, or he could have a thing for petite, small-breasted girls possessing a great fashion sense. 

Sydney broke the silence. “To good food and even better friends.” She clinked Grant’s glass, and Shayla came back to reality and smiled, pretending she wasn’t experiencing several different kinds of inappropriate thoughts and feelings for a sexy, complicated man who was her employee and also her friend. She needed to behave and remember things could never go any further than a panty-melting gaze.

 

Book Spotlight – Checkmate by Elyce de Reefe

Checkmate BannerTitle: Checkmate

Series: The Rabbit River Saga #3

Author: Elyce de Reefe

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Paranormal Romantic Suspense

Release: June 26, 2019

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46443491-checkmate

Blurb:

Aster Ardennes has sworn vengeance. When rival Alpha, Marten, takes over her father’s pack, Aster is determined to make him pay. But when the new Alpha decides he’s going to take her as his mate, things get serious. As a rare female born to the old Alpha, Aster has always been considered something of a princess. But no one would ever call her weak. Marten may think she’s just a pawn, but strategy has always been her strong suit. And Aster can’t wait to show him the true meaning of forced mate.  Everything else will just have to wait.​

 Jesse Wayne knows all about his reputation. He doesn’t let it bother him. After all, when you’re an outlaw, you might as well own it. Never in his life did he imagine the Princess would turn to him. But now that she’s right there, he just can’t help wondering if this could mean something more…

 There’s nothing Apprentice Lore Master Dean Rolland likes more than a good mystery. He spends most of his time in his lab looking for answers. That is if he’s not off searching through the ancient archives. But the biggest mystery these days is—where in the world is Aster Ardennes? For months, the pack has been searching for her, following the trail of breadcrumbs she’s scattered for them. But Aster herself is like a ghost. And he can tell—whatever she’s playing at—she’s up to her furry little tail in something dangerous. He just hopes they find her before someone else does. Like Marten.

Buy Links (Kindle Unlimited:

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

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

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2X4vATw

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2XuO1jD

veeterzyDeanText4 (1)In the Series: (Kindle Unlimited

Moonrise Over Rabbit River

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

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2Xin3Mi

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2XgcI3b

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2XlB0ZE

Wolf’s Promise

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

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2Xj8sA7

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

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2XoQ2hD

Praise for the Series:

“What a fantastic story! I love that the author made her own rules for these shifters. It brought another level of depth to the story. The main characters are well developed and I am excited to learn more about the others… I definitely recommend this book!” – Word Forward (Moonrise)

“Today’s Topics with a Magic Twist Elyce De Reefe touches on hard scary issues of domestic violence without making light of the issue. Even though it’s a big wolf that saves the day.”– KindleCustomer (Moonrise)

“Wow, fantastic. Hard to believe that book #2 can be better than the first, but it is. Lots of new twists and surprises plus some hysterical parts that made me laugh out loud. Great characters, great story, and lots of interesting developments that have me dying to read the next book.” – WMH Cheryl (Wolf’s Promise)

“Great Series and an Intense Shifter Romance The nuances. . . Wolf’s Promise, Book Two of the Rabbit River Saga, is a sexy, tantalizing, suspenseful romance that sucks you in right from the beginning and does not – I repeat, does not — let you go at the end. The characters are all so relatable, so great, that you simply don’t want to leave them.”  A . Abboud (Wolf’s Promise)

Author Bio: 

Elyce de Reefe grew up in Santa Cruz, California and New York City.  She likes to call herself a coastal girl since she has spent nearly all of her time on one coast or another. She enjoys all genres of romance as long as there’s a hot, sexy hero with something to learn, a smart female lead who refuses to compromise on who she truly is, and the promise of a happily ever after. Her characters often find themselves on a journey of discovery, struggling to achieve true intimacy while solving the real-life problems thrown in their way.

To date, Elyce has written paranormal wolf shifter romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. But there’s a Sci-Fi series in there waiting to come out, and possibly an epic fantasy series, as well as thoughts on a time travel story. Her ancestors were Highlanders, after all.

Elyce loves hiking in nature, riding horses, watching wildlife, swimming under a blue sky, digging in the dirt, and sitting in front of a fire with a good book. She enjoys these things even more in the company of friends and family. Add wine and chocolate, and voila! It’s a beautiful life.

Oh, yes – and she has a very special place in her heart for wolves…

Social Media Links: 

Website: http://www.elycedereefe.com/

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

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/elyce-de-reefe

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElycedeReefe

Hot Fun in the Summertime

hot fun in the summertime bannerHot Fun in the Summertime 

A  Contemporary Romance Anthology 

Presented by Romance Books ‘4’ Us

Hot Fun in the Summer Time-1 (2)_400x600The weather is heating up, but it’s not just the sun and the sand which will keep you hot. 

This summer anthology (sweet to sizzling stories) brought to you by the authors of Romance Books 4 Us will bring temperatures to your eReader that will set unheard of heat records. Burn the tips of your fingers while you turn the pages. 

Sultry temperatures.
Passionate couples.
Unbelievable desire. 


This is your ticket to… Hot Fun in the Summer Time.

 

Including:

 
Just Tell Me What You Want by Tina Donahue’

Her wishes will leave him breathless…

Erotic Paranormal RomCom


Second Chance at Love by Marianne Stephens

Brian and Liz have a second chance to make their passionate, undeniable attraction for each other grow hotter than the summer heat.

Hot and Sensual Contemporary


Curating Love by Cara Marsi

Along the hairpin turns of the Amalfi Coast, a sexy Italian man shows a conventional American woman a colorful world of excitement and sensuality.

Sensual Contemporary


Pleasure Quest by Tina Donahue

She’s into virtue, he’s not. On a pleasure asteroid, he’ll show her what paradise really is. 

Erotic SciFi RomCom

Building Up To Love by Joanne Jaytanie

For something to last a lifetime it must start with a strong foundation and build upward.

Sweet Romantic Suspense


Nailed by Cindy Spencer Pape

When shy scientist Karen Sikorski meets up with her college crush, Warner Beckett, sparks fly, but she knows the handsome contractor would never fall for a plain nerd like her. Warner, though, has other ideas.

Contemporary Erotic Romance


Dare to Feel by Nicole Morgan

When Brett walks into Tracy’s section at Platinum, she is faced with the one love that she was never able to forget or get over.

Contemporary Erotic Romance


More Than Friends (Friends to Lovers Book 1) by Krista Ames

One lust-filled night may prove more than they both expected.

Contemporary Romance


Ripped at the Seams by Deelylah Mullin

When you feel each stitch in your life unraveling, sometimes it’s better to give in than to be ripped at the seams.

Contemporary Romance


Cowgirls Don’t Cry by Janice Seagraves

Will Gwen’s empathic gift soften her future father-in-law’s heart?

Passionate Paranormal Romance


Firecracker by Desiree Holt

Two men, one woman, and explosive heat.

Contemporary Erotic Menage

***Only 99 cents!! ***

Goodreads * Amazon 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46381148-hot-fun-in-the-summertime-anthology 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RRRZP2Q 
h- about the authors

Tina Donahue_236x300Tina Donahue

Tina is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist who writes romance for every taste – ‘heat with heart’ – for traditional publishers and indie.

http://tinadonahuebooks.blogspot.com/

 

Marianne StephensMarianne Stephens_255x300

Marianne writes paranormal and contemporary (sensual to HOT) romance and has published some nonfiction stories.

http://www.mariannestephens.net

 

CaraMarsi_240x300Cara Marsi

An award-winning and eclectic author, Cara Marsi is published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. She loves a good love story and believes that everyone deserves a second chance at love. Sexy, sweet, thrilling, or magical, Cara’s stories are first and foremost about love. Treat yourself today, with a taste of romance.

www.caramarsi.com

 

Joanne JaytanieJoanne Jaytanie_200x300

Joanne writes romantic suspense and paranormal. A transplant from upstate New York, Joanne lives with her husband and Doberman, on the Olympic Peninsula with a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains. In her prior life, Joanne showed dogs and managed her husband’s forensic engineering firm.

https://www.joannejaytanie.com/

 

Cindy Spencer Pape_200x300Cindy Spencer Pape

Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Multiple award-winning author of the best-selling Gaslight Chronicles, she has released over fifty novels and stories, which blend any or all of the best of fantasy, adventure, science fiction, suspense, history, and romance. Cindy lives in southern Michigan with her husband and several spoiled pets. When not hard at work writing, she can be found restoring her 1870 house, dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

www.cindyspencerpape.com

 

Nicole MorganNicole Morgan_300x299

Nicole Morgan is an international and USA Today bestselling author who has been writing since 2009 and is an author of erotic romance novels, which more often than not have a suspenseful back story. Erotic romance mixed with good old-fashioned whodunit.

www.nicolemorganauthor.com

 

Krista Ames_300x224Krista Ames

Krista is an international bestselling author of contemporary romances that make you ‘fall in love with happy ever afters’.

www.kristaames.com

 

Deelylah MullinDeelylah Mullin_300x300

Deelylah is empty-nesting with her hubby, Mr. VampBard. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s likely at the movies or finishing a home improvement project.

https://www.deelylah.com

 

Janice Seagraves_300x300Janice Seagraves

Janice Seagraves grew up with a deep love of science fiction and adventure stories. Always the consummate artist, she traded in her paintbrush for a desktop to write breathless life-affirming novels that celebrate enduring love.

https://janice-seagraves.org/

 

Desiree HoltDesiree Holt_200x300

Desiree is an Amazon and USA Today bestselling author who writes exciting love stories at many heat levels. She has been called the Nora Roberts of erotic romance.

https://desireeholt.com/

 

s- giveaway

$50 Amazon, ebooks and more! 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!

https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/hot-fun-in-the-summertime-book-tour-and-giveaway

silver dagger logo

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 – Victoria Jayne

VJ-4Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, my name is Victoria, and I write. I’m a Jersey girl through and through. Yes, I am from the shore, but I am nothing like the television show that aired on MTV. I’ve been writing since I was sixteen and my first novel was published in December 2018. I love everything to do with wolf shifters and motorcycle clubs (in novel form and television form, okay and movies too). I love me some romance. Give me your alpha males, please.

How do you make time to write?

I’m a wife and mother who works a full-time job 9a-5p. My daughters are 2 and a half and 6 months. Believe me, it is hard to find time to write. So I steal moments whenever I can. Mostly, its when the girls are sleeping or if they are spending time with my family when I’m not around.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes. Writing takes energy and requires a headspace. If I don’t have the energy or my head isn’t in it. I can’t put the words to paper or type them on the screen. If the characters in my head are silent I can’t write. I can try to wake them up by reading more or looking for inspiration.

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

Paranormal Romance. I love alpha males. I love primal reactions. I love the “just have to have it,” caution to the wind, impulsivity that these novels embody. Anne Rice, Suzanne Wright, these lovely ladies really showed me how wonderful this genre really is. JD Tyler, Elisabeth Naughton, and Dianne Duvall just put the nail in my coffin. I love wolf shifters and vampires.

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

My first book was published with a small publishing house that later returned the rights to me. I self-published the book because I believed in it. Since it’s a first in a trilogy, I will be self-publishing the other two books of the series.

The Wolf of the Prophecy eBook

The Witch of the Prophecy is out [now] and is available as an eBook or a Paperback.

The Wolf of the Prophecy, the sequel, will be out this summer (2019).

 

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

I am a combination of the two. It really depends on my comfort level. I am introverted when I first enter a new environment with new people. I really hang back and just watch the dynamics and try to understand who I’m around. I also live in my head and my world of self-consciousness. However, if I’m comfortable with someone or maybe like two people, I am quite extroverted.

I am in awe of people who are confident and extroverted. People who are unapologetically themselves. I want to write characters like that.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

You won’t know until you try.

I know it’s not very profound or eloquent. It’s short and sweet. I spend a lot of time overthinking things and talking myself out of a lot of stuff. But in all honesty, if I don’t try something, I won’t know. So, I try to do that. I try to suck it up and try it, whatever it may be.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

There are resources out there. Whatever you think your weakness is, there is a way to build that up, to improve it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who is doing what you want to do. They are just people too. Nine times out of ten they will be flattered that someone contacted them. You can do it. You can write. You can get published. You can achieve whatever goal you want, you just have to learn how.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

You can start with my website:

https://www.authorvictoriajayne.com/

but I’m on a lot of social media. I’m most active on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/AuthorVictoriaJ

https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jayne-972231726319372/

https://www.instagram.com/authorvictoriaj/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18610623.Victoria_Jayne

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/victoria-jayne

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

From the Witch of the Prophecy:

TheWitchoftheProphecy

“Pay attention,” she snapped. “You don’t need power, just Divina,” she spoke simply. “You don’t need the council seat, just your witch.”

Tightening his mouth into a firm line, Rori considered her words. The witches could be testing him. Through this manipulation, this appearance of Ines, they could be testing his resolve to sacrifice love for the throne, for the good of all kinds.

“If I do that then I will be the one to end us all,” he said, wary of Ines’ intentions.

Ines shook her head. “You have no desire to do such a thing,” she pointed out. “How could you end us if you don’t want to?”

She coughed again harder and longer this time. She looked at her hand and cursed before wiping it on the woolen blanket she held close around her.

“They are forcing you into a place you’re not meant to be, Roricus. You have to follow your heart, now that it beats. Don’t let the witches make you a puppet,” she said urgently.

He regarded her with a sideways glance. Her sickly form shivered under the blanket.

“What did they do to you?” he asked again.

With words in direct conflict with not only Esmine’s but Ines’ own words, Rori questioned her motive. Add her withering appearance, and it felt wrong.

With a tight-lipped frown Rori pondered his previous idea of her presence being a test by the Ember Witches; a test to his commitment to the throne. The more she talked, the more Rori felt the witches were pushing him toward the sacrifice.

She turned away from him. She tried to get up, but the witch lacked the strength and fell back down.

“Love, Roricus. Love is what you need to fight the prophecy,” she rasped.

Rori clenched his teeth. The manipulations needed to stop. His nostrils flared as his frustrations grew. The incessant games of the Ember Witches, of this witch, was enough to drive a lesser man crazy.

“They cast you out,” he surmised. “Did they strip you as well?” he asked.

She said nothing.

However, her trembling increased and the blanket slipped from her shoulder revealing her state of emaciation. She bowed her head and displayed just how thin her once lush red hair had become. She refused to lift it to him or, perhaps, she lacked the strength.

“Divina is to take your seat isn’t she?” Rori further concluded.

Silence.

“You went against the witches knowing that it was your seat up for grabs,” Rori said.

He breathed in sharply with the belief he knew Ines’ true intentions. He closed his eyes, trying to push down the bloom of rage growing and spreading in his chest. When he opened them again, the world was tinged red.

“You are here to sabotage—”

Ines sprang up interrupting his words. The blanket fell to her feet and exposed her skeletal body with clothing dangling from her. Sores covered her gray skin. Her eyes lacked the shine and youth they had the first time she promised him power.

Cold radiated off her and crept over Rori’s skin.

“I went against my coven for what is right!” she hissed. “I went against my coven for love,” she declared. “For your love, for Percival’s love! For Divina and Selene!”

Her bony fingers gripped his forearms. The sharp digits dug into the muscular flesh of Rori’s arms, threatening to pierce through with a strength he didn’t realize she possessed. She shook as all her energy appeared concentrated on her hold on him.  

“You are not fit for the council, Roricus,” she seethed. “You lack the age and the commitment. It is meant for Percival. The coven fears Selene’s devotion to her vampire.”

From The Wolf of the Prophecy:

“We don’t get a lot of folks coming through these parts,” Smitty explained. “So, when someone unknown shows up, we notice. She went to the diner down the road a piece this morning after Officer Owens caught her sleeping in her truck.”

Aric’s jaw tightened as he listened. She had opted to sleep in her truck rather than his bed. She had opted for discomfort over his arms. Wincing at the sound of his howling wolf, Aric gripped the arms of the chair so hard the wood creaked.

Bruce cleared his throat and did his best to ignore Aric. “She’s a human,” Bruce said in a low tone meant only for wolf hearing, “and doesn’t fully understand the mate bond or its implications.” Bruce waved a hand at the suffering Aric. Breathing deeply, Aric did his best to hide his discomfort.

Smitty regarded him with suspicion. “You went and mated with a human girl without telling her what it all meant?”

Aric glared at him. “My wolf—”

“It’s a complicated situation,” Bruce interrupted.

 

AuThursday – Tricia Schneider

Tricia Schneider author picTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a single mom of four children. I worked for several years as Assistant Manager and bookseller at my local Waldenbooks until the company closed its doors. I took that opportunity to focus full-time on my writing career in between naptimes and baseball games.

How do you make time to write?

It’s not as easy as it used to be! Before I had children, I would write during my lunch breaks at work or when I got home after my shift. For the last several years now, I write during naptimes and try to squeeze some writing time in when most of my children are at school during the day. Summer vacations get trickier. I typically write early in the morning before they all wake up and late at night after they go to sleep.

What genre are your books?

Paranormal and Historical Romance. Some are a combination of both.

What draws you to this genre?

I love happily-ever-afters. In the romance genre, HEA’s are a guarantee.

What are your current projects?

I have several shifter romances in the works. Also, a fantasy romance and a couple gothic romances. I always have a couple of projects going at the same time.

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

Introvert. Although I learned how to talk up a good storm with just about anyone from my days as a bookseller, I feel most comfortable on my own or with a few close friends. Writing is a very solitary job which I enjoy.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I have a couple. Is that bad? Laundry is one for me. With four kids, I have to take care of a lot of laundry. Then that usually leads to tidying the other messes that my adorable little sugarplums make of my house. A messy house drives me crazy. It’s difficult to focus on writing when I see so much that needs to get done around the house.

Self-doubt and perfectionism are others. I think these two go together. I’m always thinking that my writing can be better, so I’m constantly striving to make my writing stronger, more emotional, more action-packed, more…everything. I put a lot of pressure on myself which leads to procrastination, which leads to getting more laundry done.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read. Read everything you can get your hands on and then read some more. Reading in your chosen genre gives you a sense of what readers expect and helps you learn about the genre as you go. And then when you feel ready (or even if you don’t), write and keep writing. Don’t stop. Just keep writing. With every piece of writing you do, your writing gets stronger. Keep reading and writing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website: http://www.triciaschneider.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/triciashneider

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authortriciaschneider

Bookbub: http://www.bookbub.com/triciaschneider

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/triciaschneider

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

This excerpt is from The Wolf’s Bride, included in Guardian: A Collection of Wolf Shifter Romances http://www.triciaschneider.com/books/paranormal-romance/guardian/

 

GuardianMadeline’s fingers tightened around the pistol. She approached the figure reclining in a wooden bathtub lined with linens from behind. With his head resting against the rim, he faced the windows making it easy to approach with him unaware of her presence. She measured each footstep so as not to make a sound, all the while keeping the pistol pointed in his direction.

She was only a few steps away when he spoke.

“Do I owe you money?” His deep voice reverberated through her bones. Madeline stopped moving. Her hand clenched around the pistol, continuing to aim it at the back of his head.

“No.”

“Then why are you here?”

He didn’t move a muscle. He made no attempt to stand. He remained exactly as she’d found him when she entered the room, reclining in the bathtub.

She tilted her head wondering how he had sensed her.

“I have it on good authority that a woman was killed here last night, and you are the man responsible.”

His head lifted.

“How did she die?”

“She was torn to pieces. They say she was ravaged by a wild animal.”

He turned his head to the side as if to see her better, but she stood directly behind him. Madeline suspected he might see her silhouette, but he couldn’t view her completely. Even if he could, he’d have difficulty identifying her with the hood of her cloak pulled low over her face.

“Why would you think I am responsible if they’re saying it was an animal attack?”

“Because I know what you are.”

He inhaled softly. She might have missed the reaction, but beside the crackling of the fire within the hearth nearby, there was nothing but silence in the room.

“And what am I?”

“The stable boy found bloody clothes buried near the edge of the forest. He identified those clothes as belonging to you. They were ripped apart. Shredded.”

The man considered this for a moment. “And how does that condemn me?”

“Because I’ve been searching for you,” Madeline whispered the words, but she knew he heard her when his back stiffened against the rim of the bathtub. “I recognize the signs of a werewolf.”