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Book Excerpt Sweet by Lisa Hahn

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Book Excerpt

A sharp knock sounded on the door, and Cat wondered who had come to complain to Simon about the part they’d been given. She’d been doing exactly that for six, long years.

Before Simon could respond, Dmitri Fedorov stepped into the room with a commanding presence and walked right past Cat as if she wasn’t even there. Normally, she’d be worried if the artistic director entered a room and didn’t acknowledge her. But this time, she wasn’t so concerned. It gave her the perfect opportunity to gawk at his tight ass in his worn jeans.

“How did everything go?” he asked in a deep, gravelly voice, forgoing a formal greeting and any pleasantries.

“Well enough.” Simon sat up straighter in his chair. A ballet god like Dmitri Fedorov wasn’t someone to be casual with, even if you were an assistant artistic director with a decent career of your own, like Simon. “They are pleased to have you on board, and they are anxious to start their season.”

Dmitri rested his cane against his leg and rubbed his palms together. “Hopefully they’re as eager to start as I am.”

“I’m sure they are.” Simon motioned to where Cat stood behind him. “In fact, Catherine came by to tell me how excited she is to tackle the role of Clara.”

At the mention of her name, Cat pried her eyes away from her new boss’s derriere just in time for him to turn around and face her. While she was careful to hide her appraisal of his body, Dmitri was not as shy. His gaze raked over her, examining her from the blunt tips of her pointe shoes to her brown hair wound into a neat bun. Self-consciously, she tugged at her powder blue wrap sweater.

She swallowed hard, feeling faint under his intense perusal.

“This Nutcracker is a very important show for me. It’s the start of my new career and my chance to prove myself.” He took a few steps toward her, stopping only a few inches from where she stood. “I’m counting on you.”

With that, he turned and left the room. Cat pulled her eyebrows together as she stared into his wake. Had Dmitri been sizing her up as a dancer or appreciating the way she looked in a leotard and tights? Was he trying to intimidate her with his “I’m counting on you” remark, or was he expressing the faith he had in her abilities?

About the Book

lh004-sweet-cover-v02-front-coverTitle: Sweet

Author: Lisa Hahn

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cat Brown spends the first six years of her career as one of the lowest-ranking members of the Bretton Falls Ballet. Despite the dancer’s undisputable talent, artistic director Lillian Smith insists Cat is too short for a leading role. When Lillian is forced to retire, world-renowned ballet dancer Dmitri Fedorov takes over and casts Cat as the premier performer in his first production with the company. Cat struggles to fend off a host of distractions as she prepares for the most important role of her career: the most insurmountable of which is her instant attraction to the new boss.

Dmitri, once known for his theatrical performances and womanizing proclivities, disappears into seclusion after a horrific car accident shatters his knee and renders him unable to dance. Looking to escape the constant reminders of how far he’s fallen, Dmitri escapes to Bretton Falls in hopes of elevating the small ballet company there to international prestige. The task proves to be more challenging than Dmitri had bargained for when his surprising interest in Cat Brown becomes fodder for gossip among the company.

Cat and Dmitri both have a lot riding on their upcoming production of The Nutcracker, knowing that their careers depend upon the outcome. However, the biggest challenge they face will be staying away from one another.

Author Bio

Lisa Hahn writes romance novels across multiple sub-genres. She’s interested in stories that take place in either small towns or strange worlds, and she strives to create honest, passionate characters her readers can relate to.

Currently, Lisa and her husband live in northern New Jersey with their two dogs (Jonas and Cassie) and their cat (Blueberry). When she’s not writing, Lisa can be found reading, practicing yoga, working out, watching professional wrestling, stitching a piece of embroidery, making/eating vegan food, and rooting for the Seattle Seahawks.

Links

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Book Excerpt Sunset Reads: Damian & Layla

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Book Excerpt

As she hurried to the back of the tent, a hand reached out for her and pulled her into the bushes. Before she could let out a scream, her mouth was covered and a deep voice whispered in her ear. “Don’t scream. It’s me.”

She immediately recognized Damian’s voice and more so the feel of his body pressed against her back. He slowly turned her to face him, all the while making sure to keep her in his embrace.

Layla looked up at him with wide eyes, “What are you doing here?” she breathed. “You scared the crap out of me!” She smacked him in the arm with her purse.

“What are you doing here?” he returned.

“I work here.”

“What?”

“I’m Sunset Reads’ new PR Director.”

His brow furrowed at her news, and then his eyes traveled lower, down her throat, over her collarbone, to the low-cut of the dress and the tempting view of her full breasts. He swallowed hard and it took everything in him not to take her deeper into the park and have his way with her.

“What the hell are you wearing?” His voice came out deep and husky.

She looked down at herself, and realized that Damian had a lovely view straight down her dress. She quickly squirmed out of his grasp and took a step back. “It’s called a dress, and stop looking at me like that!”

“Hey, it’s not my fault you look sexy as hell in that thing. It’s barely covering anything!”

Layla was grateful for the lack of light; that way Damian couldn’t see the bright blush on her cheeks. His eyes were all over her, but she secretly enjoyed the appreciation in them. It brought hot tingling sensations across her lower abdomen, and erased any semblance of Gus Schwartz’s dark leering glare.

She shook her head, trying to clear her lust-hazed thoughts and said slowly, “I asked you what you were doing here.”

He pressed a finger to her lips as a couple passed by and she stared at him with dark eyes. After a moment, he looked down at her. Seemingly distracted, he grazed her plump bottom lip with his thumb.

“I’m undercover,” he whispered.

A slight thrill ran up her spine and she looked around them into the dark night. “Are we in danger?”

“If Schwartz keeps staring at you like that he will be.”

“What do you care if he stares at me?”

“I care. I care a lot,” he said calmly but tightened his grip on her arms.

“You didn’t care for a whole year, Damian. What does it matter now?”

“Stay away from him, Layla, he’s not a good man.” He looked down at her once again, his eyes intense and his jaw held tight. After a long moment, he stepped around her preparing to leave.

“Wait!” she whispered, grabbing his arm.

He looked back at her, an eyebrow lifted, waiting.

She quickly released his arm. “Does William know about this?”

He shook his head. “No, and I prefer to keep it that way for now.”

“What? You have to tell him. He’s about to do business with him!”

She now had his full attention. “Are you sure?”

She nodded. “They were just talking about it. William wants Skyline to manage the technological advances at Sunset Reads. We’ve set up a meeting.”

We’ve?” he asked

“I’m the Director, Damian. Who else is going to be his contact if not me?”

Damian frowned. “I’ll talk with William, but you… I need you to remain as far away from Schwartz as possible.”

She looked behind her towards the party. “I had a feeling he couldn’t be trusted. Tell me,” she turned back to Damian, “what did he do?”

Damian shook his head, looking off into the distance as if in thought. “Nothing that can be proven yet, but I have a feeling he’s connected to someone big. Someone who can hurt William and Cristina.”

“Damian?”

He looked at her. “Just do your job and forget I was here.” He quickly went back to the party, leaving Layla alone.

“If you only knew how hard that is,” she whispered in the empty space.

About the Book

damian-layla-book-coverTitle: Sunset Reads: Damian & Layla

Author: D.C. Triana

Genre: Romantic Suspense

One year.

It’s been one year since Agent Damian Trent left for Washington without a word.

One year since he’s seen her beautiful face.

One year since he’s heard his name on her lips.

He’s been recently called back to New York City on assignment, to catch a criminal who’s trying to infiltrate Sunset Reads. The last thing he expects is to work side by side with the woman he turned his back on.

Having her close is an unwanted distraction that he’s more than willing to ignore, if only she wasn’t so damn tempting.

Everything seems under control, until a night of feverish passion has him abandoning all thoughts of reason. Now, he will do everything in his power to get her back, and even more so to protect her.

Layla Reece wants nothing to do with the man who left her a year ago.

The man who took her heart with him, leaving her broken.

After a year of trying to forget Damian Trent, she is finally ready to move on.

But trying to forget him becomes a tedious task when he suddenly reappears in her life.

Although she fights to stay away, his magnetism is too strong and she finds herself giving into the deep timbre of his voice, and the strength and safety of his arms.

Staying away from Damian turns out to be futile, especially when his kisses consume her and his heart shatters the walls she spent so much time building.

Finding herself in danger, she now has to turn to the only man she trusts to keep her safe, but can she trust him enough to give him her heart once again?

Author Bio

D.C. Triana is a new romance author and novelist. She was born in raised in New York  and is currently residing in Florida. Last March, Her dream of publishing a romance novel came true with, Sunset Reads: William & Cristina. The novel is currently holding a 4.5 star rating on Amazon as well as GoodReads. She is excited to announce her second novel in the series, Sunset Reads: Damian & Layla, releasing on December 26, 2016.

When she is not delving into her hopeless romantic thoughts, she is expanding her experiences and travelling around the world. She also will not miss an episode of the Walking Dead, has an obsession with Superman, and has watched Pride and Prejudice at least ten times. An avid fan of all types of music and dancing; she enjoys cuddling up with her puppy Obi, and helping new authors like herself. You can visit her at http://www.dctriana/com, or be part of her newsletter where you can take part in giveaways, receive updates on upcoming storylines, and get reviews on hot new titles. Sign up for her Newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bXH-P9

 

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Book Excerpt Fool Me Twice

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Book Excerpt

Now came the tricky part—the buttons. Thankfully, the Lord had blessed Angelica with a particularly long set of fingers and, despite the tiniest of buttons and the difficult positioning on the inside of her petticoat, she soon had the compartment undone. She folded the notes and laid them flat in the pocket so that they would lie unseen against her body for the journey home.

She was just fastening the last button when she heard the door open. Her raven-haired head shot up, and her large eyes darted in the direction of the intruder. No one had ever entered when she had been in here alone before. What was Mr. Russell thinking? He always left her in peace until she left of her own accord.

So shocked was she, she failed to remove her foot from its perch on the bookshelf and cover herself before a gentleman entered—a gentleman that was not Mr. Russell. At least, that is if you could call the man who entered a gentleman at all. The man in question practically fell into the room, sloshing the tankard of ale in his hand and taking more than a few seconds to find his footing.

Angelica watched with horrified fascination as the tousled hair escaping the pathetic ribbon at the back of his neck flicked up and down while he gained his balance. For a moment she wondered if he would merely stumble back out again, quite unaware of her presence. But fortune would not smile upon Angelica a second time tonight.

In spite of his graceless entrance and obvious inebriation, the man’s eyes were exceedingly quick. As he righted himself, they made contact with a heeled shoe, a pleasingly long leg beneath the flimsiest of materials, and a gathering of skirts. His eyes continued their journey upwards, over her bodice, her neck, and then they stilled at those indefinable blue eyes.

In the odd pause that followed, a cat-like smile slowly unfurled across the young man’s face. Angelica threw down her skirts and stepped back.

“I say…” was all the gentleman offered. He half-raised the tankard as if in salute, and Angelica could only be thankful that he had knocked the door shut during his imbalance. Or was she thankful? She took another step back, hitting the paneling of the wall.

She did not recognize the man, but he was undeniably handsome. Aware that she was looking him over, his boyish face gained a mischievousness. His green eyes twinkled merrily at her, lingering—to her utter infuriation—on her lips. He stumbled towards a book-lined wall and rested an unsteady elbow upon one of the shelves, leaning jauntily on one leg and most clearly making himself at home.

“I say…” he repeated himself, but he did not move towards her as Angelica had feared.

Her wits finally returning, she put some ice into her stare. “You say what, sir?”

About the Book

fool-me-twice-philippa-jane-keyworthTitle: Fool Me Twice

Author: Philippa Jane Keyworth

Genre: Historical Romance

In the gaming hells of eighteenth century London, orphan Caro Worth is leading a double life. By day she plays a proper gentlewoman on the lookout for a wealthy husband. By night she plays the infamous Angelica, her fictional half-sister with a talent for cards and an ability to finance the life her respectable self has built. An introduction to a rich Marquis brings marriage and security within Caro’s grasp…until the arrival of the unpredictable and totally ineligible Mr. Tobias Felton.

Dismayed by Felton’s persistent appearances, shocking frankness, and enigmatic green eyes, Caro watches helplessly as he comes closer than anyone to guessing her secret, but when complete and utter ruin threatens, she finds that Felton’s suspicions just might become her salvation. As the walls she has built to protect herself crumble down around her, Caro learns that no matter how careful your plans, life and love have a habit of falling quite spectacularly out of control!

 

Author Bio

author-pic-keyworthPhilippa Jane Keyworth, known to her friends as Pip, has been writing since she was twelve in every notebook she could find. Originally trained as a horse-riding instructor, Philippa went on to become a copywriter before beginning a degree in History. A born again Christian, Philippa lives in the south of England with her handsome husband.

Philippa has always written stories and believes that, since it is one of her loves and passions, she always will. In her early writing career, she dabbled in a variety of genres, but it was the encouragement of a friend to watch a film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that began her love affair with the British Regency. Since then, she has watched every Regency film and TV series she could get her hands on and become well acquainted with Georgette Heyer’s novels which gave her the inspiration to write her own.

Both as a reader and a writer, Philippa believes it is important to escape into a world you yourself would want to live in. This is why she writes stories that will draw you into the characters’ joys and heartaches in a world apart from our own. Her debut novel, The Widow’s Redeemer (Madison Street Publishing, 2012), is a traditional Regency romance bringing to life the romance between a young widow with an indomitable spirit and a wealthy viscount with an unsavory reputation. The novel has been received well by readers and reviewers who have praised the heartfelt story and admirable characters. Her second novel, The Unexpected Earl (Madison Street Publishing, 2014), explores another romance in the Regency era when an impetuous young woman has her life turned upside down by the reappearance of the earl who jilted her six years ago. Her third novel, Fool Me Twice (Madison Street Publishing, 2016), is a Georgian romance that has just been released.

So, what are you waiting for? Get swept away into another time with characters you will learn to love, and experience Britain in the 18th century and Regency like never before.

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Book Excerpt Dragon’s Treasure

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Book Excerpt

Magnus’ men waited for her answer, witnessing for the first time someone turning their prince down, wondering if she was even aware he was a prince. Would it really make a difference?

Olivia’s hands trembled as she pushed a still-damp curl behind her ear. The gazes, the question, their presence weighed down on her, coiling around her neck, tightening, as if she were dealing herself her own sentence.

Casting a wary glance around, Olivia said, “Maybe I should just call for my brothers.”

“No need, Princess. I can send my men to look for them. We would not want to attract the monster’s attention, would we? Did I forget to mention it was a dragon?”

When Magnus mentioned the dragon, recognition lit Olivia’s eyes. It didn’t escape his notice.

“Oh my,” he said. “You do know about the dragon.”

Olivia froze, her body locked up.

“Where is it?” Magnus clenched his fists, blue eyes ablaze with cold fire.

“My brother…” Olivia said and then screamed, “KADEN!”

The dragon’s name echoed throughout the forest, bouncing on the wind.

The knights raised their swords and drew closer to Magnus. Charlie stayed hidden in the trees near Theo and Damien, who took up the rear of Magnus’s guard.

“STOP!” Magnus’s voice boomed. While everyone stood frozen, he listened.

When he didn’t hear anyone approaching, he took a step closer towards Olivia.

“Please stop!” Olivia panted, panic mingling with her breath, eyes watering with tears. “KADEN!” She called for her dragon again. She took another step back and slipped on moss-covered rocks. Grasping a stone, she scrambled to her feet and threatened Magnus, “Do not come any closer.”

Magnus laughed. The woman pulled her hand back and threw the rock at the unsuspecting man. Magnus flinched and stopped laughing. Everyone held their breath. He touched his forehead, fingers coating in blood. The crimson liquid slid over his right eyebrow, dripping down his lashes onto his cheek. As the first drop landed on his sparkling armor, he narrowed his eyes at Ophelia.

Olivia retreated again and Magnus stalked closer, faster with every step he took towards her. She pondered picking up more rocks, but there were too many men and she couldn’t face them all… at all, armed and armored men. Ankle deep in the water, she turned around and plodded deeper, picking up the skirt of her dress, heading for the other side. Surely their armor will slow them down.

Magnus chased after her, his men following close behind him.

A roar resounded above.

Fire exploded in front of Magnus. The blast threw him back, away from Olivia, and he skidded on the grass, covering his face with his hands.

The dragon had come.

About the Book

zmaj-v92Title: Dragon’s Treasure

Author: Maya Starling

Genre: NA Fantasy

“She was the girl who longed for the freedom of the dragon, and he was the dragon who longed to be a man.”

A heroine reclaiming her fate. A dragon with a secret. A prince on a quest.

Olivia flees to the forest seeking freedom from her family’s demands. She finds refuge in a cave, only to discover it is a dragon’s lair. The dragon, Kaden, is not the monster she first thinks him to be. After overcoming her initial fright – of not being eaten – Olivia discovers that the dragon has a gentle heart.

Kaden is resigned to loneliness after centuries of wandering the lands. Meeting Olivia brings joy to his solitary life, and never has he dreamed that a young woman would be the one to start the change in him.

A storm brews on the horizon.

A prince with a handsome face and a cruel heart is on a quest to slay the dragon, and take the throne. He will do whatever it takes to have what he believes is his to own. And now, he has his eyes set on the pretty little maiden from the forest. He will make her his Queen, whether she wants it or not.

Author Bio

Maya Starling is a writer, a geek, an animal lover and a gamer. She has lived the life of a magus, an oracle, a goth mortician, a star wars rebel. She has led many lives, sitting at a table, and rolling those dice away.

In reality, she lives with her wife and their adorable little boy, and of course two rescue cats, in a small country of Croatia. Reading and writing are her passion, so you will often find her typing away a new novel or a new short story, or eyes glued to the screen of her phone or a page of a book.

Links

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Twitter: @MayaStarling

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Book Excerpt The Blue Witch

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Book Excerpt

The lake glowed, and in the air, there was a strong odor of roses. The scent was so intense it brought tears to Alex’s eyes. All at once, a woman leapt out of the water, seating herself in the fog as if she sat on a chair. Her long red hair flowed down her shoulders to her waist like a river of fire, and her silver gown shimmered with a light of its own in a rainbow of colors. Alex gasped when she realized the gown wasn’t a gown at all, and the shimmering didn’t come from sequins or beads, but from iridescent fish scales on her body. The woman had no feet, only the tail of a fish—she was a mermaid.

Then, the man she’d healed rose. “We found the Blue Witch, my lady,” he spoke in Elf and then, rambled on in his native language.

            “Excellent. Thank you, my friends.” The woman nodded with a wide smile and waved her hand at them. As they backed away, she leaned towards Alex. “Are you the one they call the Black Elf?”

Alex gasped—her heart pounding in her ears. She hated that nickname. “Yes, but who are you?”

            “I’m Rosella, the Sea Sprite of Avalon.”

            “A Sea Sprite? But the sea isn’t even close to here.”

            “They drained it away years ago, but the King had this lake made for me so I could stay close to him. He loves me.”

            “Why do these men think I’m the Blue Witch?”

            “How else could I explain that you were a young Water Elf with blue hair in your ears?” Rosella rolled her eyes. “Thank you for freeing my friends from that terrible prison. My good friend, Idwal, said you healed his broken leg. I’m impressed.”

           Alex screamed; something jumped into her arms; her heart pounded, but it turned out to be Tap, a Pixie Elf and the nephew of Root, her father’s old friend. She carried him easily; he was no larger than a toddler, even though he was full grown. He was the opportunity she was waiting for. He could help her return to Eledon to search for the Holy Grail.

            “Tap, what are you doing here?” Alex asked.

“Lord Ashur sent me to find you, so I asked Rosella for help. She belongs to the Water Elves, like you.” Tap’s smile lit up his face, and he doffed his hat in a salute.

“Why did Lord Ashur send you?” Alex turned her head to the sound of horses. “Soldiers…we have to leave.”

“Black Elf,” Rosella said. “I’ll clear a path for you.”

“Which way?” Alex turned around, disoriented.

“This way.” Tap leapt out of her arms and ran down the only clear path in the fog.

About the Book

blue witch 1 jpeg (1)Title: The Blue Witch

Author: Joni Parker

Genre: Fantasy

Under the rule of King Arthur, Alex finds the mortal world far from what she’d imagined, and the mortals are less than hospitable.  Accused of being the “Blue Witch,” Alex is sentenced to die for treason and has been implicated in the mysterious death of one of Arthur’s noblemen by seemingly magical means.  With help from unexpected sources, she escapes and returns to Eledon, where civil unrest and the threat of war looms.  Alex resumes her responsibilities as Keeper of the Keys for the Council of Elders, but must execute a series of quests to prove her abilities to handle the magical Keys of Eledon.  But are her efforts enough to save the Elves from Civil War? And can she commute her own death sentence by finding the Holy Grail?

Author Bio

orig_27374_025Born in Chicago, Illinois, Joni’s a city-girl, raised in the heart of the city.  So, when her first grade class took a field trip to the Museum of Science and Technology, she was fascinated by the chicken farm where there were live chickens and chicks hatching from eggs under a light.  Like the other students in class, she wrote a report, but hers was selected to be in the school newspaper.  Her first published article!  Joni’s writing continued with short stories until the eighth grade in Phoenix, Arizona when she won second prize in a short story contest and an honorable mention for a poem.  After that, she developed a writer’s block and couldn’t write another short story or poem for the next 45 years.  Talk about a writer’s block!  Now, it seems she can’t stop writing and has retired from work to write.  “The Blue Witch” is her fifth published novel and the second book in “The Chronicles of Eledon” series.

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Website/blog:  http://www.theblackelf.com

Book Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teYsqOs0yjI&feature=autoplay&list=HL1343068571&playnext=3

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Book Excerpt Life as a Teenage Vampire

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Book Excerpt

Mr. Leonard was menacing in a way I’d never seen before, larger somehow too, like a predator. But his blank expression was what scared me.

“If I had contacted him the moment Mallory died, he might have made it in time, but he won’t arrive before the hunters do.  He told me not to do anything foolish, but if I do nothing, I’ll die, the hunters will leave, and the trail will run cold. Mallory will never get justice.”

His voice floated around me like an echo, his eyes too bright.

“He told me to run if they came, but that is something I cannot do. I know you can’t help me fight them, Emery, but you can give them a reason to stay, give Alec time to discover the truth.”

“Alec?” My back hit the wall and I gasped. He had me cornered.

“My Maker, my friend. He can ensure they pay for their crimes. But if I don’t give them a reason to stay in town, he’ll be too late.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. If he had more emotion in his voice I’d worry he was delirious, but he sounded so even, so certain. The twist in my gut nearly doubled me over, and I held out a hand to keep him from getting closer. “Mr. Leonard—”

“Hush, Emery.”

I made to push him away, but in that same moment, the fear that had crept under my skin feeling like it might burst out my pores, lessened. Everything about Mr. Leonard seemed different. He didn’t move. His expression didn’t change. It was the air around him, the atoms buzzing, something intangible that shifted. His eyes were mesmerizing, and as I returned his stare, all the anxiety in my stomach washed away. I felt warm, but not uncomfortably so, more like I was snuggling up for an afternoon nap.

My hand dropped.

“I am so sorry, Emery. I have no other choice.”

I didn’t see him move. He was there, standing in front of me, and then he wasn’t. Instead, the curve of his shoulder was in front of my face, and a sharp pain in my neck tore the air from my lungs, like he’d struck me with a knife or a needle. But the pain faded almost instantly, and the tight pressure felt almost soothing.

I sagged against the wall, seeing only the dark blue of Mr. Leonard’s shoulder, the hazy background of the sofa and fireplace fading in color until there was nothing but calming darkness.

 

About the Book

lastvcover_frontTitle: Life as a Teenage Vampire

Author: Amanda Meuwissen

Genre: YA M/M Paranormal Romance

The last thing Emery expected at the end of his senior year of high school was to become a vampire and fall in love with his best friend… Emery Mavus just wants to survive his senior year of high school. Becoming a vampire complicates things. So does a bizarre mentor, a group of vampire hunters, and an unexpected, new attraction for his openly gay best friend, Connor. An occasional uncontrollable hunger for blood might be the least of his worries.

Author Bio

amandameuwissenauthorAmanda has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed major from St. Olaf College in Creative Writing, and has been posting content online for many years, including maintaining the blog for the digital marketing company Outsell. She spent a summer writing screenplay script coverages for a company in L.A., and is an avid consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their cats, Helga and Sasha (no connection to the incubus of the same name).

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Book Excerpt Fractal

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Book Excerpt

Anna grabbed Brendan from behind, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. As she caught her breath, she peered up at the ship. The air smelled like soda, lots of sticky sweet soda. Stairs and ladders traced the entire length of the tube, spiraling down to the base. The lights were no longer visible, since they formed the base resting on the grass. Markings engraved the metal from base to tip. There were no flags, no words of any language she knew.

“Wow,” exclaimed someone from behind her. It jarred her from staring at the rocket. The townspeople around her were pulling out their cell phones, taking pictures and recording videos.

“Come on.” Anna twisted Brendan’s collar in her hands, and he looked her in the eye. “Let’s go.”

He gestured to the ship. “No, but—”
“Let’s go.”
The corners of Brendan’s mouth and eyes turned down. Anna didn’t care; she had to get him

away from whatever just landed in town. Brendan took one long look at the rocket. She took his hand and pulled him through the crowd. They strode about fifteen or twenty feet before the scraping of metal-on-metal screeched. They stumbled, covering their ears. Though she wanted to get Brendan a safe distance away, her curiosity overcame her, and they swerved around.

A metal plank slid from the rocket toward the ground. Once it extended, a light flashed at the point where the plank met the rocket. Part of the wall disappeared, revealing a gaping, octagonal hole lined with neon-blue lights, giving her a glimpse inside a smooth metal hallway.

Some of the crowd backed away, each of them stepping back up Main Street a few paces. “It’s a space ship.” Brendan cried out. “We’re going to meet aliens. Real aliens.”
“Shut up. You’ll scare everyone. We have no idea…” Anna’s admonition died on her lips Men emerged from the doorway. Human men, or at least they looked like humans. Anna

sucked in a breath as she gripped Brendan’s hand. The men paraded two by two in unison. They wore red shirts and pants, with gold breastplates that came down to their waists. Gold and silver, rectangular shields rested at their sides. The Roman legion was paying them a visit. She blinked but the odd vision stayed the same.

This couldn’t be a hoax—it was far too elaborate—but she wouldn’t admit this was an alien spaceship, even to herself. She didn’t have a single logical, coherent explanation to grasp onto. Adrenaline sped through her veins, sending her into near panic. It didn’t matter what this was or wasn’t to her as long as she kept Brendan safe.

“It’s an army.” Brendan clutched at her hand

She pushed him behind her, ready to run at the first sign of trouble. Every muscle tensed, waiting.

The two columns of soldiers stopped after about two dozen men exited the plank. All at once, the two lines shifted to face each other, forming a pathway lined with soldiers.

At the top of the plank, a lone soldier appeared. He surveyed the town, squinting in the early light of dawn. Tall and muscular, he filled the doorway with his frame. His sandy-brown hair, cropped short, accentuated his square jaw. He wore the same body armor as the others, yet a red sash across his front extended into a short red cape behind him that snapped in the breeze. The man’s eyes settled on the crowd of onlookers before he walked down the metal plank.

Anna couldn’t tear her eyes away from the scene. Still, she pushed Brendan up the street toward the house. A streak of movement caught her attention, and she jumped. She almost yelped, but the blur that ran up to her came into focus

“What’d I miss? What’s happening?” Hannah skidded to a halt beside them
“Shhhhh,” Anna continued to push them all back.
“They’re aliens,” Brendan whispered
Anna squeezed his hand in warning. Hannah’s eyebrows lifted and light danced in her eyes. She

swung toward the rocket and the strange soldiers. She bounced on the balls of her feet, as if Christmas had come early. It was the most exciting thing to happen in Sparta since the founding of the town.

When the last solider reached the others, they raised their arms in a strange salute and he strutted straight through their ranks. He stood in front of the waiting crowd. He studied every face. The townsmen stared at him, stepping backward up the street again, away from the gleaming invaders

“Greetings. My name is Varick. I am searching for the one you call Anna Cora.” He rested his hands on his hips

Anna froze and then shook her head. She couldn’t have heard that right. Her heart tumbled over itself. She feared she would faint before she got Brendan into the house when the tingling at the top of her head blurred her vision.

“Can you tell me where to find Anna Cora?” Varick asked the crowd.

 Everyone in the town turned in her direction. Her breathing became heavy. His gaze followed their line of sight and met her eyes. She thrust Brendan’s hand toward Hannah. She didn’t know why this stranger was looking for her, but if she could distract him, it would buy Brendan and Hannah a few minutes to run. She stepped away from her brother and best friend, raised her chin, her eyes wide and unblinking.

“I am Anna Cora.” She sounded far bolder than she felt. A flash of pride tightened her chest

Varick smiled at her. He motioned to the soldiers behind him, and they rotated in unison once again. He marched toward her, his soldiers in his wake. Anna willed herself to stand perfectly still, desperate not to shrink from this man. Stopping less than a foot from her, his smile broadened into a grin, and a small measure of her fear dissipated.

“Your Majesty, I am your new Protector. I have come to take you home.” He knelt before her on both knees, his palms upturned and resting on his legs. The soldiers followed suit.

She didn’t know whether to laugh or run, so she did neither. She eyed Hannah, who had pulled Brendan off to the side of the street. Hannah shrugged.

About the Book

Fractal cover-mediumTitle: Fractal

Author: Rachel

Genre: Science Fiction / Romance

Anna keeps to herself in rural North Carolina, raising her younger brother and never dreaming she might not be human. A ship descends from the sky and the handsome alien, Varick, proclaims that she is the long-lost ruler of his planet, forced to flee from their world by an experiment gone wrong. Determined to discover her heritage, she journeys with Varick to their abandoned planet. Along the way, Varick strengthens her belief in herself as she struggles to be the leader her people need. Anna discovers that as soon as they return, the Council will force her to marry a man she’s never met, even while her heart is drawn towards Varick. A romance between the Vadana and her Protector is forbidden above all, and can only end in Varick’s death. A prophet warns Anna and Varick that they can heal their solar system, but they can’t let anything stand in their way. Their growing love for each other will either save their world, or bring about destruction.

Author Bio

Rachel Mannino 3Rachel Mannino is a passionate writer who creates characters and settings that allow readers to explore power dynamics in relationships, the empowerment of women, and the ethical and moral dilemmas love can create in our lives. Rachel also uses her writing skills to raise thousands of dollars for entities that enrich our lives and create community change around the world.  She has worked for the Peace Corps; the Humanities Council of Washington, DC; Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; and the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events in Boston, MA. Her first novel, Love or Justice, was published by Limitless Press in November 2015. Her second novel, Fractal, will be published by eTreasures publishing in September of 2016. Rachel has a BA in theatre studies and writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College, and she has used it every day since graduation.  She lives with her husband, author Christopher Mannino (http://www.christophermannino.com/); their son, Gavin; and their adorable dog and cat in College Park, Maryland.

 

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Twitter: @RachelMannino02

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Love or Justice on Kindle

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