Hades -cover   
We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Review & Excerpt Tour for Larissa Ione's HADES! HADES is a novella in Larissa's Demonica Series as part of the 1001 Dark Nights Collection and is exclusively available as Amazon Kindle and Paperback. Grab the latest installment in this sexy series!

A fallen angel with a mean streak and a mohawk, Hades has spent thousands of years serving as Jailor of the Underworld. The souls he guards are as evil as they come, but few dare to cross him. All of that changes when a sexy fallen angel infiltrates his prison and unintentionally starts a riot. It’s easy enough to quell an uprising, but for the first time, Hades is torn between delivering justice — or bestowing mercy — on the beautiful female who could be his salvation…or his undoing. Thanks to her unwitting participation in another angel’s plot to start Armageddon, Cataclysm was kicked out of Heaven and is now a fallen angel in service of Hades’s boss, Azagoth. All she wants is to redeem herself and get back where she belongs. But when she gets trapped in Hades’s prison domain with only the cocky but irresistible Hades to help her, Cat finds that where she belongs might be in the place she least expected… 

HADES - teaser

Excerpt:
The thought of living one more day the way he’d lived the last five thousand years made him want to throw up as he prowled the length of his crypt until he swore the soles of his boots cried out for mercy.

Azagoth had left him hours ago with all kinds of assurances that Cat wouldn’t be harshly punished for what she’d done. But Azagoth’s idea of “harsh” was a lot different from Hades’s. Well, not usually, but for Cat, definitely.

Hades just hoped Azagoth hadn’t suspected that anything had gone on between them. Technically, Hades hadn’t gone against Azagoth’s orders, but the Grim Reaper wasn’t a fan of technicalities. And if he did anything to punish Cat for what Hades had done, Hades would fight that bastard until he was too dead to fix.

Snarling, Hades threw his fist into the wall. Never, not in his entire life, had he felt this way about a female. Hell, he hadn’t felt this way about anything. Oh, he’d always been passionate about meting out justice, but this was a different kind of passion. This was an all-consuming desire to be with someone. To be something better for that someone.

He hadn’t known Cat for long, but in their brief time together, he’d shared things he’d always kept private. He’d given comfort and had been comforted. He’d wanted, and he’d been wanted back.

She wants to go back to Heaven, idiot.

Yeah, then there was that. The chances of going back were extremely slim, given that in all of angelic existence, only a handful of fallen angels had been offered the opportunity. But just the fact that she wanted to go was troubling.

Oh, he understood. Who would choose to live in the grim darkness of the underworld when they could flit around in light and luxury? But dammit, Cat was wanted down here. Could he make her see that?

Closing his eyes, he braced his forehead on the cool stone wall he’d just punched. Pain wracked him and not just because he’d broken bones in his hand and they were knitting together with agonizing speed. That pain was nothing compared to the ache in his heart.

He needed to be with Cat, but how? He supposed he could try reasoning with Azagoth. Sometimes the guy wasn’t completely unbending. Especially now that he had Lilliana. She’d leveled him out, had given him a new perspective on life and relationships.

But would it be enough?

Because one thing was certain. If Hades couldn’t have Cat in his life, then Azagoth had saved it for nothing.
To say that I'm a huge fan of the Demonica series is a bit of an understatement( it's one of my favorites), so when I got the opportunity to review Hades I jumped right on! And I'm so excited to tell you all how much I enjoyed it, because it was really good!

Cataclysm has been working hard since her fall from Heaven, trying to earn back her wings. It doesn't help that she's completely accident prone. She's had a crush on Hades for a while, so when a huge mistake lands her in his domain the story really heats up. Hades has been paying for his mistakes for thousands of years, and having Cataclysm so close is a temptation he can't resist.

Cataclysm and Hades' story is a novella but it doesn't skimp on storyline. Hades never realized before how lonely he was until Cataclysm brightened up his life, and theirs is a story that is both sweet and ridiculously hot! I mean come on, fallen angel Hades is a total bad boy with his Mohawk and his flippant attitude. I also loved finding out how he fell, which made me love him even more.

All in all, Hades was a really good read! Fans of the series will love it, and if you haven't started this series yet, what are you waiting for? Give it a try!
About the Author: 

Larissa Ione is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. An Air Force veteran, she traded in a career as a meteorologist to pursue her passion of writing. She now spends her days in pajamas with her computer, strong coffee, and supernatural worlds. She believes in celebrating everything, and would never be caught without a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge…just in case. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her U.S. Coast Guard husband, her teenage son, a rescue cat named Vegas, and her very own hellhound, a King Shepherd named Hexe.    


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HADES Review & Excerpt Tour

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I'll Stand By You by Sharon Sala
Title: I’ll Stand By You
Author: Sharon Sala
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance
No one is alone
Dori Grant is no stranger to hardship. As a young single mother in the gossip-fueled town of Blessings, Georgia, she's weathered the storm of small-town disapproval most of her life. But when Dori loses everything within the span of an evening, she realizes she has no choice but to turn to her neighbors.
As long as there is love to give
Everyone says the Pine boys are no good, but Johnny Pine has been proving the gossips wrong ever since his mother died and he took over raising his brothers. His heart goes out to the young mother and child abandoned by the good people of Blessings. Maybe he can be the one to change all that...

I'll Stand By You by Sharon Sala Teaser
Excerpt:

“Nothing means a damn thing if I don’t have my baby.”

“And now we get to my suggestion. Do you like Johnny Pine?”

“Yes, of course. He’s been wonderful to us.”

“No, I mean, could you like him as relationship material?”

“That possibility exists,” she said.

“Good. Now let me talk to Johnny.”

She handed the phone back to Johnny.

“Now he wants to talk to you.”

She took the baby and Johnny took the phone.

“Yeah?”

“I have a suggestion that could bring an end to your troubles.”

“Like what?”

“Do you like Dori?”

“Well, sure. She’s great.”

“Do you like her enough to consider a personal relationship with her?”

Johnny looked at Dori, then cupped her face and ran his thumb down the side of her jaw.

“Yes, I like her enough to consider a personal relationship.”

Dori shivered beneath his touch as she realized Butterman was asking Johnny the same question he’d asked her.

“Put the phone on speaker,” Butterman said.

“Just a minute,” Johnny said and then pressed a button. “Okay, you’re on speaker now.”

“Here’s the deal,” Butterman said. “You two are very young to have such adult responsibilities. You’re both trying to take care of your families on your own, and now DFCS has their nose in your business and is threatening you with removing the children from your custody, right?”

“Right,” they said.

“So this would end tomorrow if you were married.”

Johnny took a quick breath, started to speak, and then found himself staring at Dori instead, waiting for her reaction.

Dori already knew Johnny cared for her because he’d told her. What he didn’t know was that she was very attracted to him.

“Well? Did both of you faint or what?” Butterman asked.

“I’m game if she is,” Johnny said.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep our boys,” Dori said.

Butterman chuckled. “Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. If it were me, I wouldn’t waste any time. Go get the license and find a preacher, and your trouble with Miss Carter is a thing of the past. I assume I am invited to the wedding.”
Author Sharon Sala
Author Sharon Sala

About the Author:

Sharon Sala, who has also written under the name Dinah McCall, has 85-plus books in print, published in four different genres-Romance, Young Adult, Western, and Women's Fiction, and her Young Adult books have been optioned for film. She has been named a RITA finalist seven times by Romance Writers of America, and in 2011 they named her the recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Her books are New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly bestsellers and published in many different languages. She lives in Oklahoma, the state where she was born.


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Once Pure by Cecy Robson
Once Pure
Shattered Past # 3
By: Cecy Robson
Releasing May 19, 2015
Loveswept
She bears the scars of the past. He blames himself for things he can’t control. Their defenses are up, but in Cecy Robson’s latest Shattered Past novel—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn—true love lands a knockout punch.
Sofia Tres Santos remembers a time before her life went sour, before her innocence was ripped away, before she began punishing herself with risky behaviors and unworthy men. Now, at twenty, she just hopes she’s ready to rebuild some of what she lost. One way or another, it always comes back to her childhood friend and longtime crush, Killian O’Brien.
As strong as Killian is, Sofia has always been his one weakness. He knows Sofia has suffered and wants to ensure she’s never hurt again—not like before, and definitely not under his watch. When Sofia agrees to work at his mixed martial arts gym, Killian seizes the opportunity to help and protect the sweet girl he’s always cared for. And yet, as he trains Sofia to defend herself using his hard-hitting MMA techniques, he’s drawn to the vulnerable beauty in ways he never expected.
As Sofia grows stronger, she also grows brave enough to open herself up to love. And along the way, she challenges everything Killian believes to be true, showing him that no matter how much he dominates in the ring, the real battle is fought in the heart.
Excerpt:

There were times in a girl’s life when swooning was necessary, and deeply warranted. This was one of them. I nibbled on my bottom lip, trying to suppress my deep blush and ignore the fist-banging motion Finn did with his hands and his very approving thumbs-up that followed.

I motioned in the direction of Killian’s office, unable to bear the intensity in those heart- stopping blue eyes. “Do you want us to get started?”

“Very much.” He winked. “But for now, maybe you should start with my website.”

He pressed his hand against the small of my back, when all I did was stand there with my jaw falling open, and led me forward. Regardless of his massive strength, his touch was gentle. I should have feared him even though he was taking great care with me. He was big and powerful, and could overtake someone as weak and thin as me. But I didn’t fear Killian.

I only feared what he could learn of me.

I wanted him to keep his palm against me. The gesture reassured me that maybe he did like me. Did think I was pretty. Would want to know me as more than the girl he’d grown up with.

I almost groaned when he let his hand fall. If I were someone stronger, and more confident, I would have reached to touch him or maybe flashed him a smile. But I wasn’t one of those flirty girls who always seemed to say the right things. I was simply me.

We moved along the edge of the gym toward his office. The floor wasn’t padded here, so the kitten heels of my silver sandals clip-clopped against the concrete. I adjusted the spaghetti strap of my floral top when the strap of my laptop case pulled it down my shoulder.

“Here, let me take that for you.” Killian lifted the case, easing the stress of its weight from my body. “You look beautiful,” he added quietly.

I lowered my lashes, averting my gaze. I’d wanted to look nice for him and hoped he’d notice. So when he did, yeah, I might have arm-flailed on the inside. But only a little, I swear. “Thank you.” The edges of his lips lifted into a sexy grin. Okay, I lied. Maybe I flailed a lot.

“How was traffic into Philly?”

“Huh? Oh, good. I left early just in case, but it was fine. I’ll be staying with my mother so I can just walk here and not have to worry about it.”

“You stayin’ in the old neighborhood?”


I nodded. “Yes. I’ll be there until I finish up here. Makes it easier to commute, you
know?”


“Good. I like you closer.”

I stopped short at his comment just as we reached his small office located at the center of the gym. Large windows enclosed the face, giving me a view of two men sparring in the Octagon while several others waited for their turn in the MMA ring. The swearing, the beat-downs, all seemed to drift into the box-shaped space.

My fingers slid over the large chestnut desk. “This is nice.”


He huffed and placed my laptop case on top. “Too nice. Doesn’t fit the damn room.”


An ivy perched on top of a matching filing cabinet was the only cheery color present. I pulled out my laptop and fired it up while I finished scanning the area, the interior designer within me working out ways to spruce up the small space.

Before I could make a few suggestions, Finn hurried in. “Kill, the writer from that MMA mag is here to do your interview.”

“I’ll be right there.” He smirked at me. “I have to take care of this. You okay here by yourself?”

I nodded. “I’ll be fine.”


He smiled and stroked my chin. “I’ll see you in a few.”


He prowled out the door. I watched him, unable to wipe the stupid grin off my face. I sat behind the desk, still swooning as I began to work.


A deep voice echoed into the room from across the gym. “Whew. Check out that fine
female moving into Kill’s space.”


“Oh, shit,” another guy said. “Do you know who that is?”


I glanced briefly toward the cluster of men waiting for their turn to spar. The smaller of the three squinted my way. “Yeah. Ain’t that Sofia Tres Santos? Mateo’s kid sister?”


I skimmed through the file I’d set up for Killian, trying to ignore them. My brother had a rep. Everyone in South and West Philly knew him.



The guy who’d questioned who I was laughed. “Maybe, but that’s not what I mean.” My typing slowed to a stop as a familiar feeling of dread clawed its way down my back. “Way I hear it, she’ll fuck anything with a pulse.”

Velcro tore as one of the fighters adjusted his gloves. “No shit.” He chuckled. “Well, hey, I got me a pulse.”

My stomach lurched, and sweat built up beneath my arms.

“Are you sure?” the guy who knew Mateo asked. “I always thought she was all shy—you know, what’s that word? Pure. Innocent-like.”

“Get the hell out of here. My cousin Kenny says she pretends to be all sweet, but that’s just an act. A shitload of brothers have tapped that—”

I slammed the door to the office shut and leaned against it, my breath too fast and my heart seconds from exploding. The room went hazy as my eyes quickly flooded with tears. I clasped my hand over my mouth, wishing everything he’d said wasn’t true. I wasn’t so sweet, wasn’t so pure—not anymore. Any innocence I’d clung to was stolen from me the day I was raped.

About the Author:

Author Cecy Robson
Author Cecy Robson
Cecy Robson is the New Adult author of Once Perfect, Once Loved, and Once Pure and the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, Cecy counts among her talents a jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song despite her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.



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Bought, Borrowed and Bagged is hosted by #TalkSupe and is where we share all of the books we've bought, borrowed or bagged (gifted/won). We also share news, upcoming events, etc. BB&B is an homage to Barron's Books and Baubles from the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.

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The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan
End of Innocence
By Allegra Jordan
Sourcebooks Landmark
Historical Fiction
May 1, 2015
ISBN: 9781492609933
$14.99 Trade Paperback
In this enthralling story of love, loss, and divided loyalties, two students fall in love on the eve of WWI and must face a world at war—from opposing sides.
Cambridge, MA, 1914: Helen Windship Brooks, the precocious daughter of the prestigious Boston family, is struggling to find herself at the renowned Harvard-Radcliffe university when carefree British playboy, Riley Spencer, and his brooding German poet-cousin, Wils Brandl, burst into her sheltered world. As Wils quietly helps the beautiful, spirited Helen navigate Harvard, they fall for each other against a backdrop of tyrannical professors, intellectual debates, and secluded boat rides on the Charles River.
But with foreign tensions mounting and the country teetering on the brink of World War I, German-born Wils finds his future at Harvard—and in America—increasingly in danger. When both cousins are called to fight on opposing sides of the same war, Helen must decide if she is ready to fight her own battle for what she loves most.

Based on the true story behind a mysterious and controversial World War I memorial at this world-famous university, The End of Innocence sweeps readers from the elaborate elegance of Boston's high society to Harvard's hallowed halls to Belgium's war-ravaged battlefields, offering a powerful and poignant vision of love and hope in the midst of a violent, broken world.
Goodreads


Praise for End of Innocence:


"This engaging debut from Jordan tells the love story of two college students who pursue their romance as World War I begins."

"Jordan does a terrific job of contrasting the superficial formalities of the initial chapters depicting New England social life with the grueling realities of life in the trenches. Also on display is her knack for taking what at first seem like throwaway or background details and making them central to the story's last third..."

"A thoughtful look at a turning point in world history.”

Helen is a sympathetic and complicated main character. Her strengths and weaknesses keep the reader's attention, making this a worthwhile read." - Kirkus

"A thoughtful work that offers an interesting perspective on the period." - Booklist

"Reminiscent of Jacqueline Winspear's Maise Dobbs books without the mystery, this novel explores the complications involved when war becomes personal. Jordan builds empathetic characters and an intriguing story. Library Journal " - Library Journal

"Allegra Jordan's The End of Innocence is a moving ode to a lost generation. With lyrical prose and rich historical detail, Jordan weaves a tale in which love overcomes fear, hope overcomes despair, and the indelible human spirit rises up to embrace renewal and reconciliation in the face of loss and destruction." - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Wife

"Love in a time of war....surely there is no more compelling or romantic theme in all of literature Yet this fine debut novel appeals to the brain as well as the heart. Allegra Jordan brings us historical fiction at its best." - Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Guests on Earth and The Last Girls

"A delicious, well-crafted historical novel." - Daniel Klein, NYT best-selling co-author of PLATO and A PLATYPUS WALKS INTO A BAR

"Downton Abbey has found a brilliant successor in this spellbinding tale of love, death, and war. The finest war fiction to be published in many years." - Jonathan W. Jordan, bestselling author of Brothers, Rivals, Victors

"An exquisitely beautiful novel." - William Ferris, UNC-Chapel Hill professor and former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities


Excerpt:

Harvard Yard
Wednesday, August 26, 1914


It was said that heroic architects didn't fare well in Harvard Yard. If you wanted haut monde, move past the Johnston Gate, preferably to New York. The Yard was Boston's: energetic, spare, solid.

The Yard had evolved as a collection of buildings, each with its own oddities, interspersed among large elm trees and tracts of grass. The rich red brickwork of Sever Hall stood apart from the austere gray of University Hall. Appleton Chapel's Romanesque curves differed from the gabled turrets of Weld and the sharp peaks of Matthews. Holworthy, Hollis, and Stoughton were as plain as the Pilgrims. Holden Chapel, decorated with white cherubs above its door and tucked in a corner of the Yard, looked like a young girl's playhouse. The red walls of Harvard and Massachusetts halls, many agreed, could be called honest but not much more. The massive new library had been named for a young man who went down on the Titanic two years before. There were those who would've had the architect trade tickets with the young lad. At least the squat form, dour roofline, and grate of Corinthian columns did indeed look like a library.

The Yard had become not a single building demanding the attention of all around it but the sum of its parts: its many irregular halls filled with many irregular people. Taken together over the course of nearly three hundred years, this endeavor of the Puritans was judged a resounding success by most. In fact, none were inclined to think higher of it than those forced to leave Harvard, such as the bespectacled Wilhelm von Lützow Brandl, a senior and the only son of a Prussian countess, at that hour suddenly called to return to Germany.

A soft rain fell in the Yard that day, but Wils seemed not to notice. His hands were stuffed in his trouser pockets; his gait slowed as the drops dampened his crested jacket, spotted his glasses, and wilted his starched collar. The dying elms, bored to their cores by a plague of leopard moths, provided meager cover.

He looked out to the Yard. Men in shirtsleeves and bowler hats carried old furniture and stacks of secondhand books into their dormitories. This was where the poor students lived. But the place had a motion, an energy. These Americans found no man above them except that he prove it on merit, and no man beneath them except by his own faults. They believed that the son of a fishmonger could match the son of a count and proved it with such regularity that an aristocrat like Wils feared for the future of the wealthy class.

He sighed, looking over the many faces he would never know. Mein Gott. He ran his hands through his short blond hair. I'll miss this.

His mother had just wired demanding his return home. He pulled out the order from his pocket and reread it. She insisted that for his own safety he return home as soon as possible. She argued that Boston had been a hotbed of intolerance for more than three hundred years, and now news had reached Berlin that the American patriots conspired to send the German conductor of the Boston Symphony to a detention camp in the state of Georgia. That city was no place for her son.

She was understandably distressed, although he was certain the reports in Germany made the situation sound worse than it was. The papers there would miss that Harvard was welcoming, for instance. If the front door at Harvard was closed to a student due to his race, class, or nationality, inevitably a side door opened and a friend or professor would haul him back inside by his collar. Once a member of the club, always a member.

But Boston was a different matter. Proud, parochial, and hostile, Boston was a suspicious place filled with suspicious people. It was planned even in pre-Revolutionary times to convey-down to the last missing signpost-"If you don't know where you are in Boston, what business do you have being here?" And they meant it. Wils kept his distance from Boston.

Wils crumpled the note in his hand and stuffed it into his pocket, then walked slowly to his seminar room in Harvard Hall, opened the door, and took an empty seat at the table just as the campus bell tolled.

The room was populated with twenty young men, their books, and a smattering of their sports equipment piled on the floor behind their chairs. After three years together in various clubs, classes, or sports, they were familiar faces. Wils recognized the arrogant mien of Thomas Althorp and the easy confidence of John Eliot, the captain of the football team. Three others were in the Spee Club, a social dining group Wils belonged to. One was a Swede, the other two from England.

The tiny, bespectacled Professor Charles Townsend Copeland walked to the head of the table. He wore a tweed suit and a checked tie and carried a bowler hat in his hand along with his notes. He cast a weary look over them as he placed his notes on the oak lectern.

The lectern was new with an updated crest, something that seemed to give Copeland pause. Wils smiled as he watched his professor ponder it. The crest was carved into the wood and painted in bright gold, different from those now-dulled ones painted on the backs of the black chairs in which they sat. The old crest spoke of reason and revelation: two books turned up, one turned down. The latest version had all three books upturned. Apparently you could-and were expected to-know everything by the time you left Harvard.

It would take some time before the crest found its way into all the classrooms and halls. Yankees were not ones to throw anything out, Wils had learned. He had been told more than once that two presidents and three generals had used this room and the chairs in which they sat. Even without this lore, it still wasn't easy to forget such lineage, as the former occupants had a way of becoming portraits on the walls above, staring down with questioning glares. They were worthy-were you?

Professor Copeland called the class to order with a rap at the podium. "You are in Advanced Composition. If you intend to compose at a beginning or intermediate level, I recommend you leave."

He then ran through the drier details of the class. Wils took few notes, having heard this speech several times before.

"In conclusion," Copeland said, looking up from his notes, "what wasn't explained in the syllabus is a specific point of order with which Harvard has not dealt in some time. This seminar started with thirty-two students. As you see, enrollment is now down to twenty, and the registrar has moved us to a smaller room.

"This reduction is not due to the excellent quality of instruction, which I can assure you is more than you deserve. No. This new war calls our young men to it like moths to the flame. And as we know moths are not meant to live in such impassioned conditions, and we can only hope that the war's fire is extinguished soon.

"If you do remain in this class, and on this continent, I expect you to write with honesty and clarity. Organize your thoughts, avoid the bombastic, and shun things you cannot possibly know.

"Mr. Eliot, I can ward off sleep for only so long when you describe the ocean's tide. Mr. Brandl, you will move me beyond the comfort of tearful frustration if you write yet another essay about something obscure in Plato. Mr. Althorp, your poems last semester sounded like the scrapings of a novice violinist. And Mr. Goodwin, no more discourses on Milton's metaphors. It provokes waves of acid in my stomach that my doctor says I can no longer tolerate."

Wils had now heard the same tirade for three years and the barbs no longer stung. As Copeland rambled, Wils's mind wandered back to the telegram in his pocket. Though a dutiful son, he wanted to argue against his mother's demands, against duty, against, heaven forbid, the philosophy of Kant. His return to Germany would be useless. The situation was not as intolerable as his mother believed. These were his classmates. He had good work to accomplish. The anti-German activity would abate if the war were short-and everyone said it would be.

"Brandl!" Copeland was standing over him.

"Sir?"

"Don't be a toad. Pay attention."

"Yes, sir."

"Come to Hollis 15 after class, Mr. Brandl."

Thomas snickered. "German rat."

Wils cast a cold stare back.

When the Yard's bell tolled the hour, Professor Copeland closed his book and looked up at the class. "Before you go-I know some of you may leave this very day to fight in Europe or to work with the Red Cross. Give me one last word."

His face, stern for the past hour of lecturing, softened. He cleared his throat. "As we have heard before and will hear again, there is loss in this world, and we shall feel it, if not today, then tomorrow, or the week after that. That is the way of things. But there is also something equal to loss that you must not forget. There is an irrepressible renewal of life that we can no more stop than blot out the sun. This is a good and encouraging thought.

"Write me if you go to war and tell me what you see. That's all for today." And with that the class was dismissed.

* * *

Wils opened the heavy green door of Hollis Hall and dutifully walked up four flights of steps to Professor Copeland's suite. He knocked on a door that still bore the arms of King George III. Copeland, his necktie loosened at the collar, opened the door.

"Brandl. Glad I saw you in class. We need to talk."

"Yes, Professor. And I need your advice on something as well."

"Most students do." The professor ushered Wils inside.

The smell of stale ash permeated the room. The clouds cast shadows into the sitting area around the fireplace. Rings on the ceiling above the glass oil lamps testified to Copeland's refusal of electricity for his apartment. The furniture-a worn sofa and chairs-bore the marks of years of students' visits. A pitcher of water and a scotch decanter stood on a low table, an empty glass beside them.

Across the room by the corner windows, Copeland had placed a large desk and two wooden chairs. Copeland walked behind the desk, piled high with news articles, books, and folders, and pointed Wils to a particularly weathered chair in front of him, in which rested a stack of yellowing papers, weighted by a human skull of all things. Copeland had walked by it as if it were a used coffee cup.

"One of ours?" asked Brandl, as he moved the skull and papers respectfully to the desk.

The severe exterior of Copeland's face cracked into a smile. "No. I'm researching Puritans. They kept skulls around. Reminded them to get on with it. Not dawdle. Fleeting life and all."

"Oh yes. ‘Why grin, you hollow skull-'"

"Please keep your Faust to yourself, Wils. But I do need to speak to you on that subject."

"Faust?"

"No, death," said Copeland. His lips tightened as he seemed to be weighing his words carefully. His face lacked any color or warmth now. "Well, more about life before death."

"Mine?" asked Wils.

"No. Maximilian von Steiger's life before his death."

"What the devil? Max...he, he just left for the war. He's dead?"

Copeland leaned toward him across the desk. "Yes, Maximilian von Steiger is dead. And no, he didn't leave. Not in the corporeal sense. All ocean liners bound for Germany have been temporarily held, pending the end of the conflict in Europe."

Wils's eyes met Copeland's. "What do you mean?"

"Steiger was found dead in his room."

"Fever?"

"Noose."

Wils's eyes stung. His lips parted, but no sound came out. "You are sure?"

As Copeland nodded, Wils suddenly felt nauseous, his collar too tight. He had known Max nearly all his life. They lived near each other back in Prussia; they attended the same church and went to the same schools. Their mothers were even good friends. Wils loosened his tie.

"May I have some water, please, Professor?" Wils finally asked in a raspy voice. As Copeland turned his back to him, Wils took a deep breath, pulled out a linen handkerchief, and cleaned the fog from his spectacles.

The professor walked over to a nearby table and poured a glass of water. "How well did you know Max?" he asked, handing the glass to Wils.

He took the tumbler and held it tight, trying to still his shaking hand. "We met at church in Prussia when we were in the nursery. I've known him forever."

"Did you know anything about any gaming debts that he'd incurred?"

Debts? "No."

"Do you think that gaming debts were the cause of his beating last week?" asked Copeland, sitting back in his desk chair.

Wils moved to the edge of his seat. The prügel? Last Wednesday's fight flashed into his mind. There had been a heated argument between Max and a very drunk Arnold Archer after dinner at the Spee dining club. Max had called him a coward for supporting the British but not being willing to fight for them. It wasn't the most sensible thing to do given Archer ran with brawny, patriotic friends. On Thursday at the boathouse Max had received the worst of a fight with Archer's gang.

"It was a schoolboys' fight. They were drunk. Max was beaten because Arnold Archer was mad about the Germans beating the British in Belgium. Archer couldn't fight because America's neutral, so he hit a German who wouldn't renounce his country. These fights break out all the time over politics when too much brandy gets in the way. People get over their arguments."

"Didn't Max make some nationalistic speech at the Spee Club?"

Wils's back stiffened in indignation. "If Max had been British it would have gone unnoticed. But because he was German, Archer beat him." He paused. "Max was going to tell the truth as he knew it, and thugs like Archer weren't going to stop him."

Copeland tapped a pencil against his knee. "How well do you think his strategy worked?"

Wils's eyes widened. "Being beaten wasn't Max's fault, Professor. It was the fault of the person who used his fists."

"Wils, Arnold Archer's father is coming to see me this evening to discuss the case. His son is under suspicion for Max's death."

"I hope Arnold goes to jail."

"Arnold may not have been involved."

Wils set the glass down on the wooden desk and stood up. "He's a pig."

"Wils, according to Arnold, Max tried to send sensitive information about the Charlestown Navy Yard to Germany." A faint tinge of pink briefly colored the professor's cheeks. "Arnold said he knew about this and was going to go to the police. Max may have thought that he would go to jail for endangering the lives of Americans and British citizens. And if what Arnold said was right, then Max may have faced some very serious consequences."

"America's not at war."

The professor didn't respond.

"Why would Max do such a thing then?" asked Wils curtly.

"Arnold says he was blackmailed because of his gaming debts."

"What could Max possibly have found? He's incapable of remembering to brush his hair on most days."

Copeland threw up his hands, nearly tipping over a stack of books on the desk. "I have no idea. Maybe America's building ships for England. Maybe we've captured a German ship. Apparently he found something. Sometime later, Max was found by his maid, hung with a noose fashioned from his own necktie. His room was a wreck." Copeland looked at him intently. "And now the police don't know if it was suicide or murder. Arnold might have wanted to take matters into his own hands-as he did the other night after the Spee Club incident."

Wils ran his hands through his hair. "Arnold a murderer? It just doesn't make sense. It was a schoolboys' fight. And Arnold's a fool, but much more of a village idiot than a schemer."

"Don't underestimate him, Wils. He's not an idiot. He's the son of a very powerful local politician who wants to run for higher office. His father holds City Hall in his pocket."

"Are you speaking of Boston City Hall?"

"Yes."

"I could care less about some martinet from Boston. I'm related to half the monarchs in Europe." Wils sneered.

"City Hall has more power over you right now than some king in a faraway land," said Copeland. "Arresting another German, maybe stopping a German spy ring-that would be exactly the thing that could get a man like Charles Archer elected to Congress. I'd recommend you cooperate with City Hall on any investigation into Max's death. If you have information, you will need to share it."

"If Arnold killed Max-" He stopped, barely able to breathe. Max dead by Arnold's hand? Unthinkable. "Was there a note?"

"No, nothing. That's why the Boston police may arrest Archer even if his father does run City Hall. Either it was a suicide and it won't happen again, or perhaps we need to warn our German students about...a problem." Copeland's fingers brushed the edge of his desk. "That was the point of my summoning you here now. It could've been suicide. Therefore, the police want to talk with you before innocent people are accused, and I'd recommend you do it."

But Wils had already taken the bait. "Innocent people? Arnold Archer? Is this a joke?" asked Wils.

"He may not be guilty."

Wils paused. "I'm not sure how much money his father's giving Harvard, but it had better be a lot."

"That's most uncharitable!"

"And so is the possible murder of a decent human! Where's Professor Francke? I'd like to speak with him. He is a great German leader here on campus whom everyone respects. He'll know how to advise me."

"You are right. Professor Francke is a moderate, respected voice of reason. But he's German and the police questioned him this morning. He is cooperating. His ties to the kaiser have naturally brought him under suspicion. City Hall thinks he could be a ringleader of a band of German spies. The dean of students asked me to speak with you and a few others prior to your discussions with the police. They should contact you shortly regarding this unpleasantness."

"If that is all-" Wils bowed his head to leave, anger rising in his throat from the injustice of what he'd heard. First murder and now harassment were being committed against his countrymen, and somehow they were to blame for it? Not possible. Professor Francke was one of the most generous and beloved professors at Harvard. Max was a harmless soul.

"Wils, you had said you wished to ask me about something."

Wils thought back to his mother's telegram. Perhaps she'd been right to demand his return after all. He looked up at Copeland, sitting under an image of an old Spanish peasant. He seemed to have shrunk in his large desk chair.

"No, Professor. Nothing at all. Good day."

Copeland didn't rise as Wils turned to enter the dimly lit hallway. As his eyes adjusted, a famous poem Copeland had taught him in class-Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach"-came to him. Wils turned back to his teacher and said:

"For the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain-"

Copeland brightened. "‘Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night,'" they finished together. Wils nodded, unable to speak further.

"Matthew Arnold has his moments. Do take care, Wils. Stay alert. I am concerned about you and want you to be safe. The world is becoming darker just now. Your intellectual light is one worth preserving. Now please close the door from the outside." Copeland looked down again, and the interview was over.

* * *

The rain had driven the students inside their dormitories and flooded the walkways in Harvard Yard. As Wils left Hollis Hall, he removed his tie and pushed it into his pocket. The damned Americans talk brotherhood, he thought, but if you're from the wrong side of Europe you're no brother to them.

Max dead. Arnold Archer under suspicion. And what was all of that ridiculous nonsense about the Charlestown Navy Yard, he wondered, deep in thought, nearly walking into a large blue mailbox. He crossed the busy street and walked toward his room in Beck Hall.

In his mind, he saw Max trading barbs at the dinner table and laughing at the jests of Wils's roommate, Riley, an inveterate prankster. And how happy Max had been when Felicity, his girlfriend from Radcliffe College, had agreed to go with him to a dance. But he'd been utterly heartbroken when she deserted him last year for a senior. This past summer Wils and Max had walked along the banks of the Baltic, when they were back in Europe for summer vacation. He said he would never get over her and he never really had. So what had happened to him?

Anger at the injustice of Max's death welled up inside Wils as he opened the arched door of Beck Hall and walked quickly past Mr. Burton's desk. The housemaster didn't look up from his reading. Wils shut the door to his room behind him. His breath was short. His hands hadn't stopped trembling. He had to find Riley and discuss what to do about Arnold.

What was happening to his world? His beautiful, carefully built world was cracking. Germany and Britain at war? Max dead? Professor Francke hauled in and questioned?

Wils felt a strange fury welling up inside of him. He wanted something to hurt as badly as he did. He picked up a porcelain vase and hurled it against the brick fireplace. It crashed and shattered, the blue-and-white shards scattering over the crimson rug.


About the Author:

Allegra Jordan is a writer and global innovation consultant. A graduate with honors of Harvard Business School, she led marketing at USAToday.com for four years and has taught innovation in sixteen countries and five continents.

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The Wedding Gift
Save The Date #3.5
By: Cara Connelly
Releasing May 5, 2015
Avon
What's the New-Jan-Plan? Discover the answer in Cara Connelly's newest Save The Date Novella, and see how mousey Jan Marone gives herself the gift of living, laughing, and finally loving … all under the hot Key West sun.
She'd come to Key West for a wedding, only to discover the hotel had messed up her reservation. So although Jan Marone has to share a tiny room with sexy Mick McKenna, it shouldn't really be a problem. Mick's her best friend, and he doesn't think of her "that way" … or does he?
Mick McKenna loves hard and plays hard. His thick black hair, chiseled jaw, and hard, muscled body make him irresistible. But when once-innocent Jan walks into his hotel room, Mick can't believe his eyes. Now she's wearing a sexy bikini and telling him it's time for her to "get lucky," making him protective and tantalized at the same time.
Worried she might be in over her head, he decides never to leave her side … and suddenly their hotel room seems smaller—and hotter—than ever. Mick's always been hands-off with Jan—but has the right woman been under his nose the whole time?
Goodreads

Excerpt:

Jan made a move to duck out from under his arm, but he tipped his head toward the eye in the sky. “We want her to think we’re a couple, right?”

She let out a hiss. “I can’t take you anywhere.”

“I’m a certified pain in the ass.” He wheeled her suitcase along as they walked lockstep to their room.

When the door closed behind them, he questioned his sanity again. The room was claustrophobically tiny. And her light scent—the same strawberry shampoo she’d used since tenth grade—permeated the air, unsettling him to his marrow.

While Jan took it all in stride.

“We should hang our wedding clothes on the bathroom hook,” she said, all business. “That’ll cut down on wrinkles.”

She patted the bed, and he hefted her suitcase onto it, standing numbly by as she opened it. Then she took a flowered dress off the top, and he got a glimpse of what was under it.

Black lace panties.

Black satin bra.

His eyes fell out of his head and rolled onto the bed.

NO!

Jan was supposed to wear granny panties and old-maid bras. White cotton; no lace. He was absolutely, unequivocally certain of that.

She glanced around. “Where’s your suit?”

He opened his mouth but no words came out.

“Mick? Hey, are you having an attack? Can you breath?” She dropped the dress and pressed her ear to his chest, listening to his lungs.

Her cheek seared the skin over his heart.

Curling his hands into fists, he turned his eyes up to the ceiling. “I’m fine,” he got out. “I haven’t had asthma in twenty years.”

“Mmm, well, your lungs do sound clear,” she murmured. “But your heart’s beating like a drum.”

He took a half step back, away from the yard of soft hair tickling his bare chest like fingertips. His shoulders hit the wall with a thud.

She gazed up at him like he was a doofus. He could see the flecks of green in her root beer eyes. “Don’t knock the wall down,” she said, “or we’ll both be out on the street.”

And she turned away, oblivious to the emotions storming through his system.

“Where’s your suit?” she asked again. “Don’t tell me you haven’t unpacked it.” She bent over his suitcase, her ass six inches from his crotch, and he snapped back to life.

Bad enough he’d seen her underwear; she didn’t need to see his.

Batting her hands away, he closed the lid. “I dropped it at the cleaners. I’ll pick it up tomorrow.” He nudged her aside with his hip. “Why don’t you suit up? The water’s perfect.”

“Okay. I got a new bathing suit. What do you think?”

With that, she dug through her suitcase and pulled out a—God help him—bikini.

A sound erupted from his throat. Distress, but Jan took it as derision. Her face crumpled.

“I thought …” She plunked down on the bed. “I just wanted to try something different. A new Jan.”

The hurt on her face made him pull it together fast.

“First of all,” he said, “there’s nothing wrong with the old Jan. And there’s nothing wrong with…” He waved a hand at the pink-polka-dotted Band Aids that passed for a swimsuit. “It just surprised me. You always wear a one-piece.”

“I know.” She met his gaze, her expression earnest. “Maybe I should just—”

“You should just put it on. It’s”—too skimpy—“cute. You’ll look”— too sexy—“great.” He faked his best-pals smile. “See you at the pool.”

He did a one-eighty, and scrammed.

Author Cara Connelly
Author Cara Connelly

About the Author:

CARA CONNELLY is an award-winning author of contemporary romances. Her smart and sexy stories have won high praise, earning Cara several awards including the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart, the Valley Forge Romance Writers’ Sheila, and the Music City Romance Writers’ Melody of Love. Cara, who lives in rural upstate New York, works as appellate court attorney when she’s not crafting steamy novels of love and romance.

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