Excerpt & Giveaway for Infernal Ice by Joceline Farrah

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Infernal Ice by Joceline Farrah
Publication date: December 18th 2014
Genres: Erotica, Paranormal Romance
Beneath the sun kissed skies and the glamour of South Beach, Stygians and mortals co-exist under an uneasy alliance.Governed by strict rules known as Stygian protocol, they live by one most sacred and cardinal rule: Never comingle with mortals.

Grief stricken, caseworker Jessa Belle Jones loses herself in her job, after the love of her life, Scott Dempsey disappears without a trace. When her father announces her betrothal to Abbandon, the General of the Stygian Armies, Jessa-Belle turns to Havah, the Tinseller to thwart her father’s plan by finding her own Stygian noble to marry.

Wrought with vengeance, Stygian Raum Corvus, searches Miami Beach for retribution against the dark mage who took everything he’d cherished.

But when destiny links Raum path to Jessa’s plight, will fate keep them together or will Stygian conventions rip them apart?
Excerpt:

In this excerpt, Jess and Raum are on first official date and they’re trying to get to know each other.
“So what’s a deal breaker for you? Raum asked. “The one thing that would make you cut tail if you met your perfect man?

“I hate liars,” Jessa said trying to read Raum’s reaction. No tells. No wonder he was in diplomacy. She swore he must have did a stint with the CIA. ‘cause he had a serious poker face.

“So you’ve never lied to someone you loved to protect them from harm or hurt? He asked.

Jessa shook her head, “I can’t remember the last time I told a lie that wasn’t self serving. In most cases, either I was because afraid of the punishment my dad would dish out or I just didn’t want to get caught. I guess what I’m trying to say is one small lie no matter what your intentions are tarnishes the truth.”

“So the moral of the lesson is liars are magicians ——”

“And magicians are masters of illusions. And what are illusions if not lies.”

He smirked. “Wrong. The lesson is to stay close enough to the truth so you don’t get caught, sweetie.”

Raum laughed. “So just because the man wants to move on with his life you believe he hasn’t mourned his wife long enough? Abaddon and I are not the closest of friends and probably never will be but I don’t think I would deny him the right to happiness.”

“I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve to be happy,” Jessa replied, “I just don’t think you can ever mourn a lost long enough. Imagine meeting that special someone and suddenly tragedy rips them from your life. I don’t’ believe there is enough days in a lifetime to fill that void, or to mourn such a loss. You move on because you have to but there’s a part of you that dies with that person and it can never be resurrected.”
AUTHOR BIO:


Joceline Farrah is an avid reader of all of things paranormal. She draws inspiration for her stories from her own hometown magic city Miami Beach, FL. With pen to paper, she creates worlds where beings are as magical as the realms they inhabit.When she isn’t plotting new ideas for a novel or crocheting, she enjoys a good game of Chess and a nice cup of Chai tea.

Author links:
Website
Facebook

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
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  • (2) signed paperbacks  
  • (1) signed 12 x15 poster of the Infernal ice cover
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Excerpt & Giveaway for The Last Enchantress by Scott & Judith Powell

Monday, December 15, 2014
last enchantressThe Last Enchantress by Scott & Judith Powell

Being nineteen for over three hundred years bites, and being single in New York with magical powers isn't much better. Eva is trying to live an everyday life in New York. When this fails, she takes a seemingly unmagical job as a translator for a wealthy American family in Spain. Eva cannot stay out of trouble for long as she runs into a friendly but hungry vampire named Louis. Eva feels drawn to this handsome, dangerous stranger who has problems of his own. Louis's life was just fine until Eva walked into his church. She smells like heaven. Or is it hell, always smelling but never partaking? Surely she is the devil coming to collect on his lost soul.
Download a FREE copy of The Last Enchantress
Available December 15th to 17th
Powell   
Author Biography:

 Scott Powell was born in Burlington, Vermont, to a father who was a police officer and a mother who emigrated from South Korea. He received a degree in marketing from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, and a master's degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Scott served a two-year Spanish-speaking mission for his church. He is a mixed martial artist who continues to train with his father, a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do and a kick boxer. Besides being married to Scott for almost seventeen years, Judith Powell is a stay-at-home mom whose whole life has been full of stories. Being raised by an Irish storytelling father and a Native American mother, stories have filled her life and her head until they finally had no choice but to flow out through her fingertips.
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Praise for the Book:

What fun, and new perspective on vampires. And the intro of new specie, Enchantress, gives this novel a wonderful and imaginative take. It gives us another take on Vampires and the only Enchantress left in the world. The story flows smoothly and the characters are developed well. Let me just start by saying for the record I am not a huge fan of Vampires or flying humans, but this book has led me away from that concept with a fantastic storyline that focused on a man and woman who were meant to be. The fighting scenes were very detailed and visual as you can tell the authors made this a point of emphasis in preparing this book.  

Excerpt:

The sun was just starting to rise, and I knew that her disturbing dream would not lead to sleeping late. I could hear her heart beating faster as she began to wake up. Wrapping myself in my cloak to protect my skin from the dawn’s light (the sun’s rays felt like hundreds of tiny needles on my flesh), I departed the room. Closing the French doors behind me, I waited on the roof for her to appear. I planned to spy on her until she exposed herself as the typical mortal that I knew she must be. A few moments later, she walked out through the same doors I had just used, dressed only in a cream translucent nightgown. Her ankles were bare and slight, and I could just see the outline of her slim legs beneath her nightdress as the sunlight began to touch her skin. She walked purposely to a small stone bench under a tree that had not yet awoken this year and most likely never would. Just as quickly as she had come, she stood and began to walk back toward her room. I was feeling playful. What did it really matter if I revealed myself? I jumped down without a sound and sat on the bench that she had just occupied. Even though she had only been here but a moment, I could still feel her warmth lingering on the surface. Somehow, she sensed I was there, and she began to run, which was not surprising. I was sure fear motivated her movement. There was no need to pursue. I could catch her easily. But then she did something that put all my old questions to rest and created new ones. She jumped up and grabbed the edge of the roof. Using it as leverage, she flipped her body up into the arch, doing more moves than a gymnast at the Olympics, and landed, facing me, on the roof.

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 Blog Tour Giveaway $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/31/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt & Giveaway for Surfacing by Kristin Halbrook

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Surfacing by Kristin Halbrook
Publication date: December 10th 2014
Genres: Mystery, New Adult
Katie Sawyer has spent the past three and a half years cultivating the perfect UCLA experience. She has the perfect boyfriend: a football star. She has the perfect social life: she’s President of Delta Gamma. But her perfect best friend, Chelsea, just drowned. Worse, the body tumbled out of the closet in Professor Griffin’s chem lab.

Katie’s fairy-tale fa├žade hides a past she would like to forget, but Chelsea’s death brings every old emotion to the surface. If she’s going to move on from her hurts, Katie has to pull her not-so-perfect self together and search out the identity of Chelsea’s killer, even if it means turning to Josh Hunter for help. It’s not easy. Josh infuriates her. Once upon a time, they were next door neighbors and best friends. They were confidants. They were even teenagers fumbling and exploring each other in the dark. He knew everything about her. He owned her heart. That was before things changed.

Now, secrets are surfacing. Chelsea was seeing someone. And she was pregnant when she died. Katie must come to terms with Chelsea’s other life…and face the fact that she has some secrets of her own. Even if it means letting the past–and Josh Hunter–back into her life.

A college Clueless meets Veronica Mars, Kristin Halbrook’s new adult mystery is full of sexy romance and twists that will keep you guessing until the end.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23439112-surfacing
Excerpt:


He’d said he had an early soccer game, so I headed to the fields before my classes. His intramural team had enough of a crowd that I could slip in unnoticed to watch the last ten minutes. There was something exhilarating about watching him streak across the field, about seeing his intense expression as he passed the ball, watching his team jump all over each other when they scored.

At the way his muscles tensed and relaxed, the way he was completely zoned into the action. Passion, of a sort. I pressed my fingers to my throat. I knew that look so well. Remembered how it had been focused on me, long ago.

At the final whistle, I caught up with him on the sidelines.

“Josh, can I have a minute?”

He looked at me over his water bottle. I had just finished studying the lines of his neck and shoulders as his head tipped back for a drink. A couple other guys exchanged a look but Josh shrugged coolly and dropped his bottle in his bag.

“See you guys later,” he told them. He shouldered his backpack and stood with an exaggerated sigh. “Where to?”

“We can walk, if you don’t mind.”

“All right.”

I led him blindly away from the field. I wasn’t sure where to go. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted from Josh.

He could tell.

“Here,” he said, stopping me with a touch of his finger on my arm. “Come down here. I need to drop these cones in the equipment room.”

In the equipment room, dust swirled among the limited oxygen supply and the smell of sweat soaked leather dominated everything else. I plugged my nose and gave Josh a look.

“This was the only place you could think of?”

He leaned against a steel frame rack of football helmets.

“You’re the one who needed alone time. Damon not meeting your needs anymore?”

I hated how we flip-flopped. How one moment with him could be absolute perfection, and the next a battle. Josh had no right to act jealous. We were nothing to each other. No matter how he made me feel. And the way he made me feel…frustrated me. I picked up a plastic orange cone and launched it. He ducked with an exasperating laugh.

“Shut up, Josh. When’s the last time you had a girlfriend?”

It wasn’t as though I expected him to list them. We both knew he wasn’t lonely. But he shrugged the question off, folding his arms across his chest, refusing to answer me. His eyes, usually so warm and inviting, were closed to me.

“What do you want, Katie?”

I retrieved the cone, being sure to avoid Josh’s personal space, and replaced it at the top of its stack. I straightened a shoulder pad on the shelf behind me, realized what I was touching, and wiped my hand on my skirt. Ew.

“Did you find anything yet? About Chelsea’s – about the frat guy?”

“You mean anything in the very short span of time between yesterday afternoon and now? What did you expect from me?”

“I’m so sorry to expect anything from you.”

“Believe me, I already know that.”

A heavy silence hung between us.

“Why aren’t you over that, anyway?” he continued. “They arrested the janitor, didn’t you hear?”

I picked a stopwatch up off one of the shelves and played with the buttons, resetting the time to zero. I set it back down quickly, hoping no one was saving that time for something important.

“Yeah, but I’m just not sure –.”

“Just not sure what?”

When I failed to answer him he heaved a sigh.

“What do you want from me, Katie?”

I blinked back a surprise rush of tears. How could I tell him I wanted both everything – and nothing – from him, but that I knew I deserved less than either?

“I want to find . . . I want to know who . . .” I shook my head. Why was Josh the hardest person on the planet to talk to, when I knew for a fact he was the easiest person to talk to?

“It’s not your job to solve this crime,” he said, after the silence between us filled the room, pressing against our skin painfully. “You need to give your energy to dealing with it in other ways.”

“Chelsea’s murder,” I corrected. “Not just some random crime. I don’t think the janitor did it.”

“Stop it,” he whispered. He started to reach a hand out to me, but pulled back before touching me. I couldn’t tell him that I wanted him to. To reach out to me. To touch me. To everything.

“I can’t. Please.” I’d lowered myself to whimpering. My shame had no end when it came to Chelsea.

“I don’t have anything for you.”

For a moment, my heart melted under the regret in his voice. But then I realized I was doing it again: setting him up to get hurt. I replaced my guilt with anger.

“Then why did you bring me in here?”

“What? I’m not the one who dragged me into this equipment closet.”

I smirked. I had him there.

“Actually, yes you did.”

“Right. The idea to be alone with you was mine.”

I bit back my retort and paused. Wait. He didn’t want to be alone with me? What boy wouldn’t?

“I just wanted to ask you about the username. Somewhere where your entire soccer team wasn’t going to overhear. You were the one dragging us into rooms that reek of the gladiators time forgot.”

He pushed off the rack and came within a foot of my face. Electricity fizzed in the air. I clutched the rack behind my back to keep from curving my body into his.

“So, you’re saying you don’t want to be alone with me? Katie Sawyer, you break my heart.”

His mouth hesitated around the next word, the one he didn’t say but that we both knew had almost spilled out: again.

AUTHOR BIO:

When she was little, Kristin Halbrook wanted to be a writer, the President of the USA or the first female NFL quarterback. The first one stuck. Even when pursuing other dreams, she always took time to write, including stories for adults, teens, and children. She is the author of Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and the forthcoming Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, April 2015). Surfacing is her new adult debut.

When she's not writing or reading, she's spending time with three pixies, her Mad Scot soulmate, and one grumpy cocker spaniel; traveling across oceans and time; cooking and baking up a storm; and watching waves crash and suns set on the beach. She currently lives, loves and explores in The Emerald City, though she occasionally makes wispy, dream-like plans to move to Paris or a Scottish castle one day (if just temporarily).

Author Links:


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Excerpt & Giveaway for Once Upon a Highland Christmas

Friday, December 12, 2014


Once Upon a Highland Christmas
Once Upon a Highland Season # 3
By: Lecia Cornwall
Releasing December 9th, 2014
Avon Impulse
Lady Alanna McNabb is bound by duty to her family, who insist she must marry a gentleman of wealth and title. When she meets the man of her dreams, she knows it's much too late, but her heart is no longer hers.

Laird Iain MacGillivray is on his way to propose to another woman when he discovers Alanna half-frozen in the snow and barely alive. She isn't his to love, yet she's everything he's ever wanted.

As Christmas comes closer, the snow thickens, and the magic grows stronger. Alanna and Iain must choose between desire and duty, love and obligation.

But it's Christmas in the Highlands, and there are bound to be a few surprises.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21479389-once-upon-a-highland-christmas?from_search=true
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes

Excerpt:
 
Fiona closed her hand tight, and the scent of lavender rose to rival the peat smoke from the fire. There was nothing threatening about a wee bit of lavender. Still, she hesitated. “You go first,” she said.
Elizabeth tossed her bundle into the fire. “Show me my true love, and send him to me by Christmastide,” she said fervently. The flames pounced on her offering, flared with a hungry whoosh, and devoured the tidbit.
The girls leaned in, looking for a sign in the flames. “D’you see anything?” Fiona whispered.
Elizabeth screwed up her face and squinted. “Nothing that could be mistaken for anyone’s true love. Throw yours.”
Fiona wrapped her hair around the bundle. She took a breath and flung it into the heart of the fire. “Show me my true love, and bring him to me—” She hesitated. “Does it have to be by Christmas? Why can’t it be by spring, or even next summer, perhaps?”
Elizabeth sighed in exasperation as the fire finished its second treat. “It’s burned up now, so you’ll have to wait for spring.”
There was a sudden roar from the wind outside, and the windows rattled. The gust slipped under the door and swept down the flue, making the room suddenly cold. The chimney gasped and sucked hard on the fire, making the flame hiss and leap, drawing it upward, and breaking off sharp red sparks that clung to the soot for a moment and twinkled before being carried away on the icy breath of the wind. The fire sighed and sank back, subdued, and the flames fluttered nervously.
The girls looked at each other, their eyes wide. “What was that?” Elizabeth said. “What did it mean?”
Outside, the wind howled again, high and wild. Fiona pulled her shawl around her shoulders and rose to light the candles, driving the shadows back into the corners, where they hid behind the settee and the chairs. Elizabeth went to the window. “My, but the weather changes suddenly here in the Highlands. It wasn’t snowing a minute ago, was it?”
Fiona looked. The snow had started suddenly, and frenzied white flakes were rushing across the brown landscape, driving toward the castle to dash themselves against the windows and stones with icy fury, clattering like the claws of an angry creature that desperately wanted in. Fiona’s gut clenched. There hadn’t been a single cloud in the sky an hour ago. She glanced at the fire again, but it burned sedately in the hearth, oblivious to the sudden storm raging outside. She swallowed. The herbs, and the spell … surely it was impossible.
Elizabeth stared out the window, hypnotized by the thickening flakes. “The snow—it’s Christmas magic! Look, the garden is almost covered already!”
Fiona went to sit beside her cousin. The first snowfall was always beautiful, and magical—as if folk had forgotten what snow looked like over the seasons. Surely that’s all it was.
She stared, mesmerized as the snowflakes danced intricate patterns in the air.
Show me my true love, and send him to me by Christmastide.
Outside the ancient walls of Craigleith, the sparks joined the snowflakes in a frenzied waltz around the castle’s pointed tower in the thickening twilight, once, twice, and again.
Then they flew away across the moor, chasing the wind.


Author Info:

Lecia Cornwall lives and writes in Calgary, Canada, amid the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies, with four cats, two teenagers, a crazy chocolate Lab, and one very patient husband. She is hard at work on her next book.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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The author is also giving away an Ebook Copy of ONCE UPON A HIGHLAND AUTUMN to a Commenter. (US and Int)
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Excerpt & Giveaway for My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling
(The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #1)
Publication date: April 1st 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old Sophie Bloom wishes she’d been taught the following:
a) Bad boy’s presence (TrOuBlE) + teen girl’s brain (DraMa) = TrAuMa (Highly unstable and very volatile.)
b) The Genus Greekulum Godissimus is notable for three traits: 1) awesome abilities, 2) grudges, and 3) hook-ups, break-ups, and in-fighting that puts cable to shame.

Prior to the Halloween dance, Sophie figures her worst problems involve adolescent theatrics, bitchy teen yoga girls, and being on probation at her boarding school for mouthy behaviour. Then she meets bad boy Kai and gets the kiss that rocks her world.

Literally.

This breath stealing lip lock reawakens Sophie’s true identity: Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She’s key to saving humanity in the war between the Underworld and Olympus, target numero uno of Hades and Zeus, and totally screwed.

Plus there’s also the little issue that Sophie’s last memory as Persephone was just before someone tried to murder her.

Big picture: master her powers, get her memories back, defeat Persephone’s would be assassin, and save the world. Also, sneak into the Underworld to retrieve stolen property, battle the minions of Hades and Zeus, outwit psycho nymphs, slay a dragon, rescue a classmate, keep from getting her butt expelled from the one place designed to keep her safe …

… and stop kissing Kai, Prince of the Underworld.

My Ex From Hell is a YA romantic comedy, Greek mythology smackdown. Love meets comedy with a whole lot of sass in book one of this teen fantasy romance series. Compared to Kai and Sophie, Romeo and Juliet had it easy.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15749326-my-ex-from-hell?ac=1
Only $0.99 on Kobo, iTunes, and Amazon:
Excerpt:

One minute, I was feeling all smug about my powers, the next, I caught sight of about a
dozen Infernorators hovering just outside the fence like a firing squad. Yikes! I froze in terror as they advanced en masse toward me, reaching out their flaming tentacles.
Bless Theo and his wards. Their fire simply bounced harmlessly off the air above the fence. I really was in a giant protective shield. I smiled, thinly. My turn. I figured that since I had the upper hand, I should take these things out.
In my defense, it never even occurred to me that this was a two-way ward. In my head, it was all about me, me, me. So of course I’d be able to fire outwards.
Yeah ... no. I sent my ribbons of light lashing out toward those bad boys. They hit the invisible shield at full speed, then bounced off it to rebound back at me.
That was the point at which I totally forgot how to control them and just yelped, wildly waving my hands around as I ducked and bobbed and tried not to trip over my own superpower.
A low laugh penetrated my fear. I glanced over, wide-eyed, to see Kai smirking from over by the back fence. For a second. The smirk quickly disappeared as I sent the creepers directly for him.
I will swear on a stack of bibles or whatever that I didn’t mean to take him out. It was instinctive. Better him a target than me.
“Duck!” I yelled feebly. He just glowered at me and put out his hand to stop them in their path. I might have felt like a busted bottle of Silly String, shooting these puppies out willy-nilly, but it was pretty impressive the way Kai had them twisting in place like that.
I stood there gaping until he growled, “Quit it” and I snapped back into action. I dropped my hands but that didn’t seem to blink the vines out of existence.
“Hurry up!” he snapped, the strain of holding them at bay wearing on him.
Honestly, I had no clue what to do. I tried to shoo them away from him. Less than successful. I only managed to redirect one toward a small sapling, which I then uprooted and used to conk him on the shoulder.
“Of all the useless ...” he began.
“Who asked you to show up, anyway?” I shot back. Especially with me once again looking like Grimy, the eighth dwarf. I did the only thing I could think of at that point. Since I’d called the ribbons up with my energy, maybe I could draw them back in. I concentrated on pulling them back into me.
It worked. They dissipated in a rush. Their power flooded inside of me and knocked me back about twenty feet.
I landed like a rag doll. The wind was knocked out of me. I fluttered my eyes open several minutes later to find Kai frowning.
“That was stellar,” he commented. “Zeus and Hades won’t have to kill you. You’re a walking suicide mission.”
At the reminder of my nemeses, I turned my head back toward where the Infernorators had been.
“Forget it. The Pyrosim are gone,” he said, rubbing his shoulder. “You okay?”
“The tree didn’t help.”
“Oops. Sorry. You hid it well,” I said.
“I’m a god. I don’t show weakness. Around you,” he added, “that seems to be a survival skill.”
“Ha ha. Next time I’ll try and warn you if I’m getting ready to sprout. We could have a hand signal. I’ll bet the gods have great hand signals.”
“No.” Kai crossed his arms. End of discussion.
Or changing of subjects. “Why are you here?” I demanded, refusing his help as I struggled to sit up.
“I told you. Your whereabouts flash in my head.” “No. Here. Hope Park. What do you want?” “Answers. Why did you disappear on me?” “Someone tried to hurt me. Maybe it was you.” “It wasn’t me,” he stated darkly.
“Whatever. Theo didn’t know what fate was in store for me so he got me out of dodge.” “And you believe him?”
“Do you have a better explanation for all this? Two days ago, I had no idea who I really
was. Theo sure wasn’t thrilled to learn what happened when you kissed me.” Kai smirked. “It was my kiss that set this off?”
“Yes. You’re very manly. Good for you.”
“I think it’s good for you,” he insisted.
Then he kissed me.

AUTHOR BIO:
Tellulah Darling
noun

Sassy girls. Swoony boys. What could go wrong?


1. YA romantic comedy author because her first kiss sucked and she's compensating.
2. Alter ego of former screenwriter.
3. Sassy minx.

Writes about: where love meets comedy. Awkwardness ensues.

Tellulah Darling is a firm believer that some of the best stories happen when love meets comedy. Which is why she has so much fun writing YA romantic comedy books. Her books span contemporary, teen fantasy romance, and YA Greek mythology, and range from stand alones to series. For Tellulah, teen romance is the most passionate, intense, and awkward there is – a comedy goldmine. Plus smart, mouthy, teen girls rock.

Author links:
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Review, Excerpt & Giveaway for Vampire in Paradise by Sandra Hill

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vampire in Paradise
Deadly Angels Series
Book 5
Sandra Hill
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Avon/Harper Collins
Date of Publication: 11/25/2014
ISBN: 9780062210487
Number of pages: 352
It’s been centuries since the Norseman Sigurd Sigurdsson was turned into a Vangel-a Viking Vampire Angel-as punishment for his sin of envy, but he’s still getting the hang of having fangs that get in the way when seducing women. Slaying demon vampires known as Lucipires and using his healing gifts as a cancer research doctor, Sigurd is sent to Florida’s Grand Keys Island as a resident physician where he encounters the most sinfully beautiful woman.

The only hope Marisa Lopez has of curing her five-year-old daughter of is a pricey experimental procedure. When she meets the good-looking doctor, Marisa is speechless. Then Sigurd tells her he believes he can help her daughter. Could this too-hot-to resist Viking doctor be an angel of some sort sent to bring a miracle for her daughter? Or is he just a vampire bent on breaking Marisa’s heart?
Available at Amazon BN Avon Romance
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20957370-vampire-in-paradise
Review:
 

My heart just went out to Marisa completely, her baby girl has a brain tumor that she thought was inoperable. When she finds out that there is an experimental procedure that could help her, trouble is that she needs to raise a lot of money quickly. When a job opens up that could net her most of the money she needs, she wearily takes it but has to work a huge porn convention. Sig's sin is envy and it has caused him to do some really terrible things, which is how he wound up being a Vangel. He meets up with Marisa at the convention, where he is on the lookout for Lucipires.

I did get upset with Marisa at one point because she was going to do something that I didn't think she should do, but honestly I don't know what I would do if I were in her position. If one of my children needed something like this it's hard to say what I would do, but I'm glad that I don't have to choose! 

Overall, Vampire in Paradise was a really good read. I may or may not have had my eyes fill up with tears towards the ending. Okay I totally did, but they were the happy kind. I jumped into this series late with the last novella and continued on with this one and I didn't have a hard time keeping up. Obviously these are meant to be read in order, and would be more enjoyable if they were read that way especially since the previous couples make appearances in this one. It was a funny read and yet still hot, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

4 out of 5 Stars
***Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review***

Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

The Norselands, A.D. 850…

Only the strongest survived in that harsh land…

Sigurd Sigurdsson sat near the high table of King Haakon’s yule feast sipping at the fine ale from his own jewel-encrusted, silver horn. (Many of those “above the salt,” held gold vessels, he noted.) Tuns of ale and rare Frisian wine flowed. (His mead tasted rather weak, but mayhap that was his imagination.)

Favored guests at the royal feast (He was mildly favored.) had their choice amongst spit-roasted wild boar, venison and mushroom stew, game birds stuffed with chestnuts, a swordfish the size of a small longboat, eels swimming in spiced cream sauce, and all the vegetable side dishes one could imagine, including the hated neeps. (Hated by Sigurd, leastways. He had a particular antipathy to turnips due to some youthling insanity to determine which lackwit could eat the most of the root vegetables without vomiting, or falling over dead as a stump. He lost.) Honey oak cakes and dried fruit trifles finished off the meal for those not filled to overflowing. (Peaches, on the other hand, were fruit of the gods, in Sigurd’s opinion.) Entertainment was provided by a quartet of lute players who could scarce be heard over the animated conversation and laughter. (Which was just as well; they harmonized like a herd of screech owls. Again, in Sigurd’s opinion.) Good cheer abounded. (Except for…)

In the midst of the loud, joyous celebration, Sigurd’s demeanor was quiet and sad.

But that was nothing new. Sigurd had been known as a dark, brooding Viking for many of his twenty and seven years. Darker and more brooding as the years marched on. And he wasn’t even drukkinn.

Some said the reason for Sigurd’s discontent was the conflict betwixt two warring sides of his nature. A fierce warrior in battle and, at the same time, a noted physician with innate healing skills inherited from and homed by his grandmother afore her passing to the Other World when he’d been a boyling.

Sigurd knew better. He had a secret sickness of the soul, and its name was Envy. Never truly happy, never satisfied, he always wanted what he didn’t have, whether it be a chest of gold, the latest, fastest longship, a prosperous estate, the finest sword. A woman. And he did whatever necessary to attain that new best thing. Whatever.

‘Twas like a gigantic worm he’d found years past in the bowels of a dying man. Egolf the Farrier had been a giant of a burly man in his prime, but at his death when he was only thirty he’d been little more than a skeleton with no fat and scant flesh to cover his bones. The malady had no doubt started years before innocently enough with a tiny worm in an apple or some spoiled meat, but over the years, attached to his innards like a ravenous babe, the slimy creature devoured the food Egolf ate, and Egolf had a huge appetite, in essence starving the man to death.

“Sig, my friend!” A giant hand clapped him on the shoulder and his close friend and hersir Bertim sat down on the bench beside him. Beneath his massive red beard, the Irish Viking’s face was florid with drink. “You are sitting upright,” Bertim accused him. “Is that still your first horn of ale that you nurse like a babe at teat?

“What an image!” Sigurd shook his head with amusement. “I must needs stay sober. The queen may yet produce a new son for Haakon this night.”

“Her timing is inconvenient, but then a yule child brings good luck.” Bertim raised his bushy eyebrows as a sudden thought struck him. “Dost act as midwife now?”

“When it is the king’s whelp, I do.”

Bertim laughed heartily.

“In truth, Elfrida has been laboring for a day and night so far with no result. The delivery promises to be difficult.”

Bertim nodded. ‘Twas the way of nature. “What has the king promised you for your assistance?”

“Naught much,” Sigurd replied with a shrug. “Friendship. Lot of good that friendship does me, though. Dost notice I am not sitting at the high table?”

“And yet that arse licker Svein One-Ear sits near the king,” Bertim commiserated.

I should be up there. Ah, well. Mayhap if I do the king this one new favor... He shrugged. The seating was a small slight, actually.

A serving maid interrupted them, leaning over the table to replenish their beverages. The way her breasts brushed against each of their shoulders gave clear signal that she would be a willing bed partner to either or both of them. Bertim was too far gone in the drink and too fearful of the wrath of his new Norse wife, and Sigurd lacked interest in services offered so easily. The maid shrugged and made her way to the next hopefully-willing male.

Picking up on their conversation, Bertim said, “The friendship of a king is naught to minimize. It can be priceless.”

Sigurd had reason to recall Bertim’s ale-wise words later that night, rather in the wee hours of the morning, when Queen Elfrida, despite Sigurd’s best efforts, delivered a deformed, puny babe, a girl, and Sigurd was asked by the king, in the name of friendship, to take the infant away and cut off its whispery breath.

It was not an unusual request. In this harsh land, only the strongest survived, and the practice of infanticide was ofttimes an act of kindness. Or so the beleaguered parents believed.

But Sigurd did not fulfill the king’s wishes. Leastways, not right away. Visions of another night and another life and death decision plagued Sigurd as he carried the swaddled babe in his arms, its cries little more than the mewls of a weakling kitten.

Despite his full-length, hooded fur cloak, the wind and cold air combined to chill him to the bone. He tucked the babe closer to his chest and imagined he felt her heart beat steady and true. Approaching the cliff that hung over the angry sea, where he would drop the child after pinching its tiny nose, Sigurd kept murmuring, “’Tis for the best, ‘tis for the best.” His eyes misted over, but that was probably due to the snow flakes that began to flutter heavily in front of him.

He would do as the king asked. Of course he would. But betimes it was not such a gift having royal friends.

Just then, he heard a loud voice bellow, “SIGURD! Halt! At once!”

He turned to see the strangest thing. Despite the blistering cold, a dark-haired man wearing naught but a long, white, rope-belted gown in the Arab style approached with hands extended.

Without words, Sigurd knew that the man wanted the child. To his surprise, Sigurd handed over the bundle that carried his body heat to the stranger.

“Take her, Caleb,” the man said to yet another man in a white robe who appeared at his side.

“Yes, Michael.” Caleb bowed as if the first man were a king or some important personage.

More kings! That is all I need!

The Michael person passed the no-longer crying infant to Caleb, who enfolded the babe in what appeared to be wings, but was probably a white fur cloak, and walked off, disappearing into the now heavy snowfall.

“Will you kill the child?” Sigurd asked, realizing for the first time that he might not have been able to do it himself. Not this time.

“Viking, will you never learn?” Michael asked.

He said “Viking” as if it were a bad word. Sigurd was too stunned by this tableau to be affronted.

“Who are you? What are you?” Sigurd asked as he noticed the massive white wings spreading out behind the man.

“Michael. An archangel.”

Sigurd had heard of angels before and seen images on wall paintings in a Byzantium church. “Did you say arse angel?”

“You know I did not. Thou art a fool.”

No sense of humor at all. Sigurd assumed that an archangel was a special angel. “Am I dead?”

“Not yet.

” That did not sound promising. “But soon?”

“Sooner than thou could imagine,” he said without the least bit of sympathy.

Can I fight him? Somehow, Sigurd did not think that was possible.

“You are a grave sinner, Sigurd.”

He knows my name. “That I freely admit.”

“And yet you do not repent. And yet you would have taken another life tonight.”

“Another?” Sigurd inquired, although he knew for a certainty what Michael referred to, and it was not some enemy he had covered with sword dew in righteous battle. But how could the man…rather angel… possibly know what had been Sigurd’s closely held secret all these years. No one else knew.

“There are no secrets, Viking,” Michael informed him.

Holy Thor! Now he is reading my mind!

Before Sigurd could reply, the snow betwixt them swirled, then cleared to reveal a picture of himself as a boyling of ten years or so bent over his little ailing brother Aslak, a five-year-old of immense beauty, even for a male child. Pale white hair, perfect features, a bubbling, happy personality. Everyone loved Aslak, and Aslak loved everyone in return.

Sigurd had hated his little brother, despite the fact that Aslak followed him about like an adoring puppy. Aslak was everything that Sigurd was not. Sigurd’s dull brown hair only turned blond when he got older and the tresses had been sun-bleached on sea voyages. His facial features had been marred by the pimples of a youthling. He had an unpleasant, betimes surly, disposition. In other words, unlikable, or so Sigurd had thought.

Being the youngest of the Sigurdsson boys, before Aslak, and the only one still home, Sigurd had been more aware of his little brother’s overwhelming popularity. In truth, in later years, when others referred to the seven Sigurdsson brothers, they failed to recall that at one time there had been eight.

Sigurd blinked and peered again into the swirling snow picture of that fateful night. His little brother’s wheezing lungs laboring for life through the long pre-dawn hours. His mother Lady Elsa had begged Sigurd to help because, even at ten years of age, he had healing hands. Sigurd had pretended to help, but in truth he had not employed the steam tenting or special herb teas that might have cured his dying brother. Aslak had died, of course, and Sigurd knew it was his fault.

Looking up to see Michael staring at him, Sigurd said, “I was jealous.”

Michael shook his head. “Nay, jealousy is a less than admirable trait. Your sin was envy.”

“Envy. Jealousy. Same thing.”

“Lackwit!” Michael declared, his wings bristling wide like a riled goose. “Jealousy is a foolish emotion, but envy destroys the peace of the soul. When was the last time you were at peace, Viking?”

Sigurd thought for a long moment. “Never, that I recall.”

“Envy stirs hatred in a person, causing one to wish evil on another. That was certainly the case with your brother Aslak. And with so many others you have maligned or injured over the years.”

Sigurd hung his head. ‘Twas true.

“Envy causes a person to engage in immoderate quests for wealth or power or relationships that betimes defy loyalty and justice.”

Sigurd nodded. The archangel was painting a clear picture of him and his sorry life.

“The worst thing is that you were given a treasured talent. The gift of healing. Much like the Apostle Luke. But you have disdained it. Abused it. And failed to nourish it for a greater good.”

“An apostle?” Sigurd was not a Christian, but he was familiar with tales from their Bible. “You would have me be as pure as an apostle? I am a Viking.”

“Idiots! I am forced to work with idiots.” Michael rolled his eyes. “Nay, no one expects purity from such as you. Enough! For your grave sins, and those of your six brothers…in fact, all the Vikings as a whole…the Lord is sorely disappointed. You must be punished. In the future, centuries from now, there will be no Viking nation, as such. Thus sayeth the Lord,” Michael pronounced. “And as for you Sigurdsson miscreants…your time on earth is measured.”

“By death?”

Michael nodded. “Thou art already dead inside, Sigurd. Now your body will be, as well.”

So be it. It was a fate all men must face, though he had not expected it to come so soon. “You mention my brothers. They will die, too?”

“They will. If they have not already passed.”

Seven brothers dying in the same year? This was the fodder of sagas. Skalds would be speaking of them forever more. “Will I be going to Valhalla, or the Christian heaven, or that other place?” He shivered inwardly at the thought of that latter, fiery fate.

“None of those. You are being given a second chance.”

“To live?” This was good news.

Michael shook his head. “To die and come back to serve your Heavenly Father in a new role.”

“As an angel?” Sigurd asked with incredulity.

“Hardly,” Michael scoffed. “Well, actually, you would be a vangel. A Viking vampire angel put back on earth to fight Satan’s demon vampires, Lucipires. For seven hundred years, your penance would be to redeem your sins by serving in God’s army under my mentorship.”

Sigurd could tell that Michael wasn’t very happy with that mentorship role, but he could not dwell on that. It was the amazing ideas the archangel was putting forth.

“Do you agree?” Michael asked.

Huh? What choice did he have? The fires of hell, or centuries of living as some kind of soldier. “I agree, but what exactly is a vampire?”

He soon found out. With a raised hand, Michael pointed a finger at Sigurd and unimaginable pain wracked his body, including his mouth where the jaw bones seemed to crack and realign themselves, emerging with fangs, like a wolf. He fell to his knees as his shoulder blades also seem to explode as if struck with a broadsword.

“Fangs? Was that necessary?” he gasped, glancing upward at the celestial being whose arms were folded across his chest, staring down at him.

“You’ll need them for sucking blood.”

“From what?”

“What do you think? From a peach? Idiot! Fom people…or demons.”

“What? Eeew!” He expects me to drink blood? From living persons? Or demons? I do not know about this bargain.

“Thou can still change thy mind, Viking,” Michael said.

Reading my mind again! Damn! “And go to hell?”

“Thou sayest it.”

Sigurd thought about negotiating with the angel, but knew instinctively that it would do no good. He nodded. “It will be as you say.”

Moments later, when the pain subsided somewhat, the angel raised him up and studied him with icy contempt, or was it pity? “Go! And do better this time, vangel.”

On those words, Sigurd fell backwards and over the cliff. Falling, falling, falling toward the black, roiling sea. He discovered in that instant that there was one thing a vangel didn’t have. Wings.

*****

CHAPTER ONE

Florida, 2014

Sometimes life throws you a life line, sometimes a lead sinker…

No one watching Marisa Lopez emerge from the medical center in downtown Miami would have guessed that she’d just been delivered a death blow. Not for herself, but for her five-year-old daughter Isobel.

Marisa had become a master at hiding her emotions. When she’d found out she was pregnant midway through her junior year at Florida State and her scumbag boyfriend Chip Dougherty skipped campus faster than his two hundred dollar running shoes could carry him. When her hopes for a career in physical therapy went down the tubes. When she’d found out two years ago that her sweet baby girl had an inoperable brain tumor. When the blasted tumor kept growing, and Izzie got sicker and sicker. When Marisa had lost her third job in a row because of missing so many days for Izzie’s appointments. And now…well, she refused to break down now either, not where others could see.

And there were people watching. Looking like a young Sophia Loren, not to mention being five-ten in her three-inch heels, she often got double takes, and the occasional wolf whistle. And she knew how to work it, especially when tips were involved at The Palms Health Spa where she was now employed as a certified massage therapist, as well as the Salsa bar where she worked nights at a second job. Was she burning the candle at both ends? Hell, yes. She wished she could do more.

Slinging her knock-off Coach bag over one shoulder, she donned a pair of oversized, fake Dior sunglasses. Her scoop-necked, white silk blouse was tucked into a black pencil skirt, belted at her small waist with a counterfeit, red Gucci belt. Walking briskly on pleather Jimmy Choos, she made her way down the street to her car parked on a side street…a ten-year-old Ford Focus. Not quite the vehicle to go with her seemingly expensive attire, a carefully manufactured image. Little did folks know that hidden in her parents’ garage was a fortune in counterfeit and knock-off items, from Rolex watches to Victoria’s Secret lingerie, thanks to her jailbird brother Steve. A fortune that could not be tapped because someone besides her brother would end up in jail. Probably me, considering the bad luck cloud that seems to be hanging over my head.

It wasn’t against the law to wear the stuff, just so long as she didn’t sell it. To her shame, she’d been tempted on more than one occasion this past year to do just that. Desperation trumps morality. So far, she hadn’t succumbed, though all her friends knew where to come when they needed something “special.”

Her parents had no idea what was in the green-lidded bins that had been taped shut with duct tape. They probably thought it was Steve’s clothes and other worldly goods. Hah!

Once inside her car, with the air conditioner on full blast, Marisa put her forehead on the steering wheel and wept. Soul searing sobs and gasps for breath as she cried out her misery. Marisa knew that she had to get it all out before she went home where she would have to pretend optimism before Izzie, who was way too perceptive for her age. Marisa’s parents, on the other hand, would need to know the prognosis. They would be crushed, as she was.

A short time later, by mid afternoon, with her emotions under control and her makeup retouched, Marisa walked up the sidewalk to her parents’ house. She noticed that the Lopez Plumbing van wasn’t in the driveway; so, her father must still be at work. Good. Marisa didn’t need the double whammy of both parents’ reaction to the latest news. One at a time would be easier.

Marisa had moved into her parents’ house, actually the apartment over the infamous garage, after Izzie’s initial diagnosis two years ago…to save money and take advantage of her parents’ generous offer to baby sit while Marisa worked. Her older brother Steve, who had been the apartment’s prior occupant, was already in jail by that time, serving a two to six for armed robbery. The idiot had carried an old boy scout knife in his pocket when he’d stolen the cash register receipts at the Seven Eleven. Ironically, he’d never been nabbed for selling counterfeit goods…his side job, so to speak.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t Steve’s first stint in the slammer, although it was his first felony. She hoped he learned something this time, but she was doubtful.

Marisa used her key to enter the thankfully air-conditioned house. Immediately, her mood lightened somewhat in the home’s cozy atmosphere. Overstuffed sofa and chair. Her dad’s worn leather recliner that bore the imprint of his behind from long years of use. And the smell…ah! The air was permeated with the scent of spicy browned beef and tomatoes and fresh baked bread. It was Monday; so, it must be Vaca Vieja, or shredded beef, her father’s favorite, which would be served over rice with a fresh salad. No bagged salads here. No store bought bread.

Izzie was asleep on the couch where she’d been watching cartoons on the television that had been turned to a low volume. The pretty, soft, pink and lavender afghan her grandmother had knitted covered her from shoulders to bare feet, but even so, her thin frame was apparent. There were dark smudges beneath her eyes. Even so, she was cute as a button with her ski-jump nose and rosebud mouth, thanks to her father. But then, she’d inherited a Latin complexion, dark dancing eyes, and a frame that promised to be tall from Marisa, who was no slouch in the good looks department, if she did say so herself. No doubt about it, Izzie was destined to be a beauty when she grew up. If she ever did.

Marisa put her bag on the coffee table and leaned down to kiss the black curls that capped her little girl’s head. She and her daughter shared the same coal black hair, but Marisa’s was thick and straight as a pin. At one time, Izzie had sported a wild mass of dark corkscrew curls, all of which had been lost in her first bout of radiation. A wasted effort, the radiation had turned out. To everyone’s surprise, especially Izzie, the shorter hairdo suited her better.

With a deep sigh, Marisa entered the kitchen.

Her mother was standing at the counter washing lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes that she must have just picked from the small garden in the back yard. She wore her standard daytime “uniform.” A blouse tucked into stretchy waist slacks, and curlers on her head. Soon she would shower and change to a dress and medium pumps, her black hair all fluffed out, lipstick and a little makeup applied, to greet Daddy when he got home. It was a ritual she had followed every single day since her marriage thirty-two years ago. Just as she maintained her trim, attractive figure at fifty-nine. To please Daddy, as much as herself.

As for her father…even with the little paunch he’d put on a few years back and a receding hairline, when he walked into the house wearing his plumbing coveralls, Marisa’s mother had been known to sigh and murmur, “Men in uniform!”

Marisa’s mother must have sensed her presence because she turned abruptly. At first glance, she gasped and put a hand to her heart. No hiding anything from a mother.

“Oh, Marisa, honey!” her mother said. Making the sign of the cross, she sat down at the kitchen table and motioned for Marisa to sit, too.

First-generation Cuban-Americans, they’d named their first-born child Estefan Lopez. He became known as Steve. Marisa Angelica, who came five years later…a “miracle baby” for the couple who’d been told there would be no more children…was named after Grandma Lopez “back home,” and Aunt Angelica who was a nun serving some special order in the Philippines.

“Tell me,” her mother insisted.

“Doctor Stern says the tumor has grown, only slightly, in the past two months, but her brain and other tissue are increasing like any normal growing child and pressing against…” Tears welled in her eyes, despite her best efforts, and she took several of the tissues her mother handed her. “Oh, Mom! He says, without that experimental surgery, she only has a year to live. And even with the surgery, it might not work.”

Izzie’s only hope, and it was a slim one at best, was some new procedure being tried in Switzerland. Because it was experimental and in a foreign country, insurance would not cover the expense. Marisa had managed to raise an amazing hundred thousand dollars through various charitable endeavors, but she still needed another seventy thousand dollars. That seventy thou might just as well be a hundred million, considering Marisa’s empty bank account, as well as her parents, who’d second-mortgaged their house when Steve got into so much trouble.

She and her mother both bawled then. What else could they do? Well, her mother had ideas, of course.

Her mother stood and poured them both cups of her special brewed coffee from an old metal coffee pot on the stove. No fancy pancy (her mother’s words) Keurig or other modern devices for the old-fashioned lady. They both put one packet of diet sugar and a dollop of milk in their cups before taking the first sip.

“First off, we will pray,” her mother declared. “And we will ask Angelica to pray for Izzie, too.”

“Mom! With the hurricane that hit the Philippines last year, Aunt Angelica has way too much on her prayer schedule.”

“Tsk-tsk!” Her mother said. “A nun always has time for more prayers. And I will ask my Rosary, Altar Society ladies to start a novena. A miracle, that is what we need.”

Marisa rolled her eyes before she could catch herself.

Her mother wagged a forefinger at her. “Nothing is impossible with prayer.”

It couldn’t hurt, Marisa supposed, although she was beginning to lose faith, despite being raised in a strict Catholic household. Hah! Look how much good that moral upbringing had done Steve.

That wasn’t fair, she immediately chastised herself. Steve brought on his problems, and was not the issue today. Izzie was. Besides, who was she to talk. Having a baby without marriage. “Okay, Mom, we’ll pray,” she conceded. If I still can.

She let the peaceful ambiance of the kitchen fill her then. To Cubans, the kitchen was the heart of the home, and this little portion of the fifty-year-old ranch style house was indeed that. The oak kitchen cabinets were original to the house, but the way her mother cleaned, they gleamed with a golden patina, like new. Curtains with embroidered roses framed the double-window over the sink. In the middle of the room was an old aluminum table that could seat six, in the center of which was a single red rose in a slim crystal vase, the sentimental weekly gift from her father to her mother. The red leather on the chair seats had been reupholstered twice now by her father’s hands in his tool room in the basement. A Tiffany-style fruited lamp hung over the table.

A shuffling sound alerted them to Izzie coming toward the kitchen. Trailing the afghan in one hand and her favorite stuffed animal, a ratty, floppy eared rabbit named Lucky in the other, she didn’t notice at first that her mother was home.

Marisa stood. “Well, if it isn’t Sleeping Beauty?”

“Mommy!” Dropping the afghan and Lucky, she raced into Marisa’s open arms. Marisa twirled Izzie around in her arms until they were both dizzy. She dropped down to the chair again, with Izzie on her lap, both of them laughing. “Dizzy Izzie!” her daughter squealed, like she always did.

“For you, Isobella.” Her mother placed before Izzie a plastic Barbie plate of chocolate-sprinkled sugar cookies and a matching teacup of chocolate milk. Her mother would have already crushed some of the hated pills into the milk.

“I’m not hungry, Nana,” Izzie whined, burying her face against Marisa’s chest.

“You have to eat something, honey. At least drink the milk,” Marisa coaxed.

After a good half hour of bribing, teasing, singing, and game playing, she and her mother got Izzie to eat two of the cookies and drink all of the milk.

“What did the doctor say?” Izzie asked suddenly.

Uh-oh! Izzie knew that Marisa had gone to the medical center to discuss her latest test results. “Doctor Stern said you are growing like a weed. No, he said you are growing faster than Jack and the Beanstalk’s magic beans.” At least that was true. She was growing, despite her loss of weight.

Izzie giggled. “I’m a big girl now.”

“Yes, you are, sweetie,” Marisa said, hugging her little girl warmly.

Somehow, someway, I am going to get the money for Izzie, Marisa vowed silently. It might take one of my mother’s miracles, but I am not going to let my precious little girl die. But how? That is the question.

The answer came to her that evening when she was at La Cucaracha, the Salsa bar where she worked a second job as a waitress and occasional bartender. Well, a possible answer.

“A porno convention?” she exclaimed, at first disbelieving that her best friend Inga Johanssen would make such a suggestion.

“More than that. The first ever International Conference on Freedom of Expression,” Inga told her.

“Bull!” Marisa opined.

They were in a back room of the restaurant, talking a break. They wore the one-shouldered, knee-length, black Salsa dresses with ragged hems, La Cucharacha’s uniform for women (the men wore slim black pants and white shirts). They were both roughly five foot eight, but otherwise completely different. Where Marisa was dark and olive skinned, Inga was blond and Nordic. Where Marisa’s figure was what might be called voluptuous, Inga’s was slim and boylike, except for the boobs she bought last year. The garments they wore were not meant to be revealing but to accommodate the restaurant’s grueling heat due to the energetic dancing. They needed a break occasionally just to cool off.

Inga waved a newspaper article at her and read aloud , “All the movers and shakers in the Freedom of Expression industry will be there. Multi-billion dollar investors, movie producers, Internet gurus, actors and actresses, store owners, franchisees—”

“Franchisees of what?” Marisa interrupted. “Smut?”

Inga made a tsking sound and continued, “—sex toy manufacturers, instructors on DIY home videos—”

“What’s DIY?” Marisa interrupted again.

“Do It Yourself.”

“Oh, good Lord!”

“Martin Vanderfelt—”

“A made-up name if I ever heard one.”

“Please, Marisa, give me a chance.”

Marisa made a motion of zipping her lips.

“Martin Vanderfelt, the conference organizer, told the Daily Buzz reporter, “Our aim is to remove the sleaze factor from pornography and gain recognition as a legitimate professional enterprise serving the public. Freedom of Expresson. FOE.”

Marisa rolled her eyes but said nothing.

“This is the best part. It’s being held for one week on a tropical island off the Florida Keys. Grand Keys, a plush special events convention center, offers all the amenities of a four-star hotel, including indoor and outdoor pools, snorkeling and boating services, beauty salons and health spas, numerous restaurants with world class cuisines, nightclubs, tennis courts—”

“I’d like to see some of those over-endowed porno queens bouncing around on a tennis court,” Marisa had to interject.

Inga smiled.

“I thought they always held the pornography thing every year in Las Vegas.”

“The Expo is held there, but that’s more for public show. They have booths and stuff and even an awards show like the Oscars. This is more for industry insiders.”

“Inside, all right,” she said with lame humor.

“So cynical! Becky Bliss will be there. You know who she is, don’t you?”

Even Marisa knew Becky Bliss. She was the porno princess famous for being able to twerk while on top, having sex. “Are you suggesting we might learn how to do that?”

“It wouldn’t hurt. Maybe it would enhance your non-existent sex life.”

“Not like that!”

“Okay. Besides, Lance Rocket will be there, too.”

Marisa had no idea who Lance Rocket was, but she could guess.

“Anyhow, this conference isn’t for your everyday Joe, the porn aficionado. It costs five thousand dollars to attend. The only access to the island is by water. You can’t drive there, of course. They expect to see lots of yachts and seaplanes.”

Marisa was vaguely aware of the private islands comprising the Florida Keys. An unbelievable seventeen hundred islands, some inhabited, others little more than mangrove and limestone masses. The islands lie along the Florida Straits dividing the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico.

“Okay, I give up. Why would you or I even consider something like this? Oh, my God! You’re not suggesting I make porno films to raise money for Izzie, are you?”

“Of course not. Look. This article says they’re looking to hire employees for up to two weeks at above scale wages, all expenses paid, including transportation. Everything from waiters and waitresses to beauticians to diving instructors…even a doctor and nurse. Waiters and waitresses can expect to earn at least ten thousand dollars, and that doesn’t include tips, which could add another twenty K or more. Upper scale professions, much more.”

“Why would a hotel have to hire so many employees for just one event? Wouldn’t they have a staff in place.”

“The company that owns the island went bankrupt last year, and the property is in foreclosure. In the meantime, until it is sold, the bank rents it out at an exorbitant amount. You know how abandoned properties deteriorate or get vandalized. Plus, the bank probably hopes one of the wealthy dudes or dudettes who attend this thing might fall in love with the place.”

“You know an awful lot about Grand Keys Island.”

Inga shrugged. “I checked it out on the Internet. Hey, here’s an idea. You could even work as a massage therapist. Betcha lots of these porno stars need to work out the kinks. The big ones would leave hundred dollar tips.” She grinned impishly at Marisa.

Marisa couldn’t be offended at Inga’s teasing her about the popular misconception of professional masseurs and masseuses. “Kinks…that about says it all. Pfff! Can you imagine what they would expect of a massage therapist at one of these events?” She lowered her voice to a deep baritone and added, ‘My shoulders are really tight, honey, and while you’re at it, check out down yonder.’”

Inga laughed. “I’m just saying. If you worked as many hours there, let’s say double shifting between waitressing and therapy, you might very well earn close to thirty thousand dollars. In less than two weeks! When opportunity comes down the street, honey, jump on the bus.”

“You say opportunity, I say bad idea. Honestly, Inga, I can’t see us doing something like this.”

“Why not? We don’t have to like all the people that come to the Salsa bar, but we still serve them food and drinks.”

“I don’t know,” Marisa said.

“There’s something else to consider.”

“If you’re going to suggest that I might find a sugar daddy to pay for Izzie’s operation, forget about it.” But don’t think that idea hasn’t occurred to me.

“No, but there will be lots of Internet types there. Maybe you could find someone with the technical ability to set up a website for Izzie to raise funds.”

“I already tried that, but every company I contacted said it has been overdone. There’s no profit for them.”

“Maybe you’ve made the wrong contacts. Maybe if you met someone one on one…I don’t know, Marisa, isn’t it worth a try?” Inga was serious now.

“I’ll think about it,” Marisa said, to her own surprise.

“Applications and interviews for employment are being held at the Purple Palm Hotel in Key West next Friday,” Inga pointed out. “Don’t think too long.”

“Don’t push.”

They heard the Salsa band break out in a lively instrumental with a rich Latin American beat. A prelude to the beginning of another set of dance music.

As they headed back to work, Inga said, “I’ll drive.”

About the Author:

Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.

She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons.
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RDB: Excerpt & Giveaway for Caress of Darkness by Julie Kenner

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Caress of Darkness
Dark Pleasures
Book 1
Julie Kenner
Genre: PNR
Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated
Date of Publication: December 9, 2014
ISBN: 1940887232
ASIN: B00HFG6ENE
Number of pages: 80
From the first moment I saw him, I knew that Rainer Engel was like no other man. Dangerously sexy and darkly mysterious, he both enticed me and terrified me.

I wanted to run–to fight against the heat that was building between us–but there was nowhere to go. I needed his help as much as I needed his touch. And so help me, I knew that I would do anything he asked in order to have both.

But even as our passion burned hot, the secrets in Raine’s past reached out to destroy us … and we would both have to make the greatest sacrifice to find a love that would last forever.

Available at Amazon and Amazon UK


Excerpt:
Uncopyedited, Uncorrected

But I can’t get the words out, and I feel the tears snaking down my cheeks, and dammit, dammit, dammit, I do not want to lose it in front of this man—this stranger who doesn’t feel like a stranger.

And then his grip on my shoulders tightens and he leans toward me.

And then—oh, dear god—his lips are on mine and they are as warm and soft as I’d imagined and he’s kissing me so gently and so sweetly that all my worries are just melting away and I’m limp in his arms.

“Shhh. It’s okay.” His voice washes over me, as gentle and calming as a summer rain. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

I breathe deep, soothed by the warm sensuality of this stranger’s golden voice. Except he isn’t a stranger. I may not have not met him before today, but somehow, here in his arms, I know him.

And that, more than anything, comforts me.

Calmer, I tilt my head back and meet his eyes. It is a soft moment and a little sweet—but it doesn’t stay that way. It changes in the space of a glance. In the instant of a heartbeat. And what started out as gentle comfort transforms into fiery heat.

I don’t know which of us moves first. All I know is that I have to claim him and be claimed by him. That I have to taste him—consume him. Because in some essential way that I don’t fully understand, I know that only this man can quell the need burning inside me, and I lose myself in the hot intensity of his mouth upon mine. Of his tongue demanding entrance, and his lips, hard and demanding, forcing me to give everything he wants to take.

I am limp against him, felled by the onslaught of erotic sparks that his kisses have scattered through me. I am lost in the sensation of his hands stroking my back. Of his chest pressed against my breasts.

But it isn’t until I realize that he has pulled me into his lap and that I can feel the hard demand of his erection against my rear that I force myself to escape this sensual reality and scramble backward out of his embrace.

“I’m sorry,” I say, my breath coming too hard.

“Callie—“ The need I hear in his voice reflects my own, and I clench my hands into fists as I fight against the instinct to move back into his arms.

“No.” I don’t understand what’s happening—this instant heat, like a match striking gasoline. I’ve never reacted to a man this way before. My skin feels prickly, as if I’ve been caught in a lightning storm. His scent is all over me. And the taste of him lingers on my mouth.

And oh, dear god, I’m wet, my body literally aching with need, with a primal desire for him to just rip my clothes off and take me right there on the hard, dusty floor.

He’s triggered a wildness in me that I don’t understand—and my reaction scares the hell out of me.

“You need to go,” I say, and I am astonished that my words are both measured and articulate, as if I’m simply announcing that it is closing time to a customer.

He stays silent, but I shake my head anyway, and hold up a finger as if in emphasis.

“No,” I say, in response to nothing. “I don’t know anything about this amulet. And now you really need to leave. Please,” I add. “Please, Raine. I need you to go.”

For a moment he only looks at me. Then he nods, a single tilt of his head in acknowledgment. “All right,” he says very softly. “I’ll go. But I’m not ever leaving you again.”

I stand frozen, as if his inexplicable words have locked me in place. He turns slowly and strides out of the shop without looking back. And when the door clicks into place behind him and I am once again alone, I gulp in air and feel the warm trickle of a tear as it snakes down my cheek.

I rub my hands over my face, forgiving myself for this emotional miasma because of all the shit that’s happened with my dad. Of course I’m a wreck; what daughter wouldn’t be?

Determined to get a grip, I follow his path to the door, then hold onto the knob. I’d come over intending to lock it. But now I have to fight the urge to yank it open and beg him to return.

It’s an urge I fight. It’s just my grief talking. My fear that I’m about to lose my father, the one person in all the world who is close to me, and so I have clung to a stranger in a desperate effort to hold fast to something.

That, at least, is what my shrink would say. You’re fabricating a connection in order to fill a void. It’s what you do, Callie. It’s what you’ve always done when lonely and afraid.

I nod, telling myself I agree with the voice in my head.

And I do.

Because I am lonely.

And I am afraid of losing my dad.

But that’s not the whole of it. Because there’s something else that I’m afraid of, too, though I cannot put my finger on it. A strange sense of something coming. Something dark. Something bad.

And what scares me most is the ridiculous, unreasonable fear that I have just pushed away the one person I need to survive whatever is waiting for me out there in the dark.

***

He wanted her.

When you got right down to it, that was the bottom line. Raine wanted Callie Sinclair. Craved her. Hungered for her.

Hell, he fucking yearned for her, and that was simply not a feeling he was used to having. Hadn’t been for a very, very long time.

Oh, sure, he’d gotten off often enough. Lost himself in a women. In the feel of her body against his. There was power in the claiming of a willing female, in that hard, rough ride that erased the world, at least for those few singular moments as the sensation built and climax approached.

And when the inevitable explosion came, he’d lose himself in the sharp oblivion that mimicked the death he sought again and again, and yet this death was forged in pleasure and not pain.

But that was all he wanted or needed—just that physical connection to remind him that no matter how dead he might feel on the inside—no matter how hard he chased that escape and no matter how many times he burned—this body still functioned and he still had a job to do.

Because if he could fuck, then he could fucking well survive another day, another year, another century.

Shit.

He ran his fingers over his close-cropped hair and told himself to get a grip. An ironic lecture since he stood like a criminal in the shadows across the street from Sinclair’s Antiques, his eyes trained on the now-locked door.

Thank goodness he’d dismissed Dennis, Phoenix Security’s driver, telling him to go ahead and simply be on call in case Raine needed him later. He hardly wanted to explain to the eager twenty-three year old why the hell he was standing like an idiot, waiting for just another glimpse of this women who’d gotten so deep under his skin.

Christ, he was pathetic. For millennia he’d not been distracted by a woman. Not since he’d lost Livia, his mate.

Oh, he’d fucked plenty, but that was to escape. Because even after all these centuries he still craved what he’d lost when she’d been ripped from him.

He’d loved her beyond all reckoning, and never once had he believed that he would ever feel that same connection with another female.

And yet this woman — Sinclair’s daughter — not only caught his attention, but sparked his awareness.

He told himself that he was simply attracted to her beauty. That he hadn’t brought a woman into his bed for over a year. A short time for a man such as him, but still too damn long.

He told himself that he just wanted to fuck her—but that wasn’t true at all.

He wanted to know her. He wanted to protect her.

He wanted have her.

And that’s why he was standing here in the dark.

That’s why he was watching her door.

And that’s why the moment she left the building, he was going to follow her—all the way to wherever the hell that might lead.

About the Author:

J. Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.

Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, Victorian-era thrillers (coming soon), and paranormal mommy lit.

Her foray into the latter, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner, has been consistently in development in Hollywood since prior to publication. Most recently, it has been optioned by Warner Brothers Television for development as series on the CW Network with Alloy Entertainment producing.

JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swopn for him.” A three time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy).

Her books have sold well over a million copies and are published in over over twenty countries.

In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.
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