Insta-Hate by Casey L. Bond

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Title: Insta-Hate
Author: C.L. Bond
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design and Photography
Models: Nathan Weller and Layla Hill
Photographer: Dark Feather Photog
Interior Design: Allyson Gottlieb, Athena Book Designs
Editor: Stacy Sanford, The Girl with the Red Pen
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb: 
When Alexandria Ray’s romance series becomes an overnight sensation, the world and its demands close in on her. After years of struggling to maintain the pace her publisher, agent and the world expects, she needs a break. Enrolling as a student at Columbia University is step one to finding herself again. Finding Arsen Daniel was not on her list.
Arsen Daniel, along with his best friend, built an empire in the form of an exclusive, psychology-based dating service. When an old friend invites him to teach a course at Columbia, he accepts. The course? The Psychology of Love.  Sounds simple enough and the publicity alone will make it worth his time.
Arsen didn’t expect to meet his match in the form of a sarcastic blonde, hell bent on holding to her belief that true love doesn’t actually exist. After all, what woman, especially a world-renowned romance writer, doesn’t believe in happily ever after?
Something in Alexandria’s eyes tortures him. She reminds him of someone from his past and that is a very bad thing.

Award-winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction.You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links:

“Do you want to grab a seat for a few minutes?” he asked.
I looked around and the place was mostly deserted. “Sure.” We settled in two comfortable padded chairs. “For the record, I don’t want to do any of the things Jillian has planned.”
He smiled. “How else do you plan to prove your point?”
“My point will be easily proven. Love doesn’t exist.” I stared at his lips. The bottom was slightly plumper than the top. His blue dress shirt was rolled to the elbows. And his forearms were toned. Damn it. Why should men have forearms like that? Why? They flexed when he raised his cup to his lips, and then flexed again when he sat it back onto the table.
“Why would any woman want that to be true?” he challenged, one brow arching up.
“I don’t want it to be true, it just is.”
His eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms over his chest. “How do you know? Forget the assignment, forget proving a hypothesis and this damn paper. How do you know? Why do you think that?”
I swallowed. “Because if I’ve ever felt it, I don’t remember it.” His brows furrowed and he parted his lips to say something, but never did. What could anyone say to that? 



Winter in Sweetwater County by Ciara Knight

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Title: Winter in Sweetwater County
Author: Ciara Knight
Genre: Sweet Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR
Blurb:
Lisa Mortan’s ideal life crumbles when her rich and powerful fiancé demands she ends an unwanted pregnancy. With no job or social support, she flees to a small town in hopes of finding a good family for her unborn baby, but instead finds a man who is as broken as she is.
Eric Gaylord returns to his home town for a respite after a tragic loss, but when his spitfire mother takes on an unknown woman as a business partner, he is forced to face the nightmare he’d left behind or risk losing the one woman who could heal his heart.
Ciara Knight writes with a ‘Little Edge and a Lot of Heart’ with her contemporary and paranormal romance books. Her most recent #1 Amazon bestselling series, Sweetwater County, has topped the charts and received acclaimed reviews. Her international best-seller, Pendulum scored 4 stars from RT Book Reviews, accolades from InD’Tale Magazine and Night Owl Top Pick. Her young adult paranormal series, Battle for Souls, received 5 stars from Paranormal Romance Guild and Night Owl’s Top Pick, among other praises.


Author Links:
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Eric’s pulse raced at the black and blue mark, shaped like fingers, which Lisa attempted to cover. Clenching his teeth, he averted his gaze. Based on the size of the marks, a man had done it. Was she attacked? A boyfriend? Perhaps that was why she came to Sweetwater, to hide from an abusive husband. He reached out for a muffin, discreetly scanning her left hand. No wedding ring. Not even a tan line.
This was none of his business. Mom had decided to take on this venture, as insane as it was. Starting a business with a woman that she’d never met outside of cyberspace.
His mother had been right about one thing, though. Lisa Mortan was beautiful. Stuffing another muffin into his mouth, he concentrated on the warm, butter-nutty flavor and forced the thought of Lisa and her light floral fragrance from his mind.
“Thanks so much for helping unpack all of our merchandise,” Lisa said, her voice soft yet not wimpy or chirpy.
“My pleasure. It’s kept Mom busy…which is a good thing. The idle hands of an energetic woman, particularly when it’s your mother, are dangerous,” he teased.
His mother brought the coffee pot to the table. “Lisa just arrived from New York. Seeing as how she’s new in town, perhaps we could all get together for dinner and get to know each other better.”
“I need to return to the office.” Eric stood and nodded to Lisa, attempting to ignore her full lips, and big bright eyes. She pushed from the table to stand as well and her coat fell open, revealing the longest legs he’d ever seen. The heels she wore only accentuated every inch of them. Straight chestnut colored hair completed the look, shining under the Halogen pot lights he’d installed last week. “It was a pleasure, but I’m afraid I have a client meeting tonight. Don’t let Mom work you too hard.”
His mother narrowed her eyes with that go-ahead-and-run-away-coward look she’d perfected. Of course, even he had to admit she was right, but it didn’t matter. The last thing he wanted was a woman in his life. Not after what happened with his last girlfriend.
“I’ll walk you out,” his mother offered.
He thought about dissuading her, but she wouldn’t listen anyway. With one last glance at the beauty standing in the middle of the kitchen, he bolted, with a promise to bury himself in work and stay away from Lisa Mortan.
“I told you she was beautiful,” his mother whispered.
“Cultured, long legs, smart, and don’t forget educated. Yes, I’ve heard it all. A few times. It doesn’t matter. I’m not interested,” Eric barked. He didn’t mean to be rude, but Judy Gaylord needed a firm hand or she’d take over quick.
“I’m just saying.” His mother shrugged in a careless gesture.
Eric halted at the front door, clutching the handle. “Don’t. I’m not ready. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready.”
His mother’s small hand rested between his shoulder blades. “It’s been almost two years. It’s time to let her go.”
“No. I-I can’t.” He turned the knob.
“It wasn’t your fault. You need to stop blaming yourself.”
“Yes, it was. I ignored the woman I claimed to love, and when she needed me most, I wasn’t there.”
Judy stepped to his side. “You didn’t know about the baby.”
“That doesn’t matter. What matters is she’s dead. The baby’s dead. There’s nothing else to talk about.” Eric shoved the door open. “I have to go.”

Where I End by Michelle Dare

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Title: Where I End
Author: Michelle Dare
Genre: NA Romance Standalone
Editor: Karen Hrdlicka
Proofreader: Tiffany Landers
Cover Designer: Amy Queau
Blurb:
Eve
Pretentious. Arrogant. Condescending. Cruel.
All words I’d used to label him. Exactly what I’d always believed he was. All that changed one spring morning when I realized I didn’t know the man behind the facade at all.
Angry. Desperate. Broken. Mine.
All words I’d use to define him after I interfered. Once our eyes locked, I was all in. There was no turning back. He tried to push me away, but I refused to let him go. I was determined to save him. What I didn’t expect was that he would save me, too.
Cy
I was so close to ending my misery. Mere seconds away. Then she stumbled upon our argument, and I changed my plans. She wasn’t supposed to be there. She knew too much. Even with my entire world burning down around me, she wouldn’t walk away.
I’ve always been on my own. No one had ever fought for me before. Why should anyone start now? But she did, no matter how much I tried to stop her. I knew I was nothing, unworthy of her, but she was persistent. Once she got under my skin, I couldn’t let her go, because where I end, she begins.
Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.
Author Links:
Newsletter Sign-Up: http://eepurl.com/bt14zX
Buy Links:

Amnesia by Cambria Hebert

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Amnesia
Cambria Hebert
Publication date: June 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

I washed ashore in a little lake town.

A place where everyone knows everyone, yet…

No one knows me.

I don’t know me.

If a woman doesn’t know her own name, does she really exist?

I don’t know my natural hair color, my birthdate, or where I live.

I am invisible.

To everyone, to everything, even to myself.

Except to him.

I see the recognition deep in his stare, the way it lingers on my face as if I’m a puzzle he’s desperate to put together.

I just want answers, the truth… knowledge.

His lips are sealed. Still, his eyes beguile me.

I can’t trust anyone, not even myself. Someone wants me dead, the same someone who tried to bury me in a watery grave.

They’ll come for me again… I won’t know their face.

I don’t even know mine.

I am amnesia.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Slivers of light pricked my eyelids, which up until this moment seemed far too heavy to lift. As I lay against something soft at my back, thought and awareness barely registered.

The gritty feeling as I struggled to raise my eyelids scraped and burned over my eyeballs as if warning me it wasn’t a good idea. Swallowing past the sandpaper in my throat, I stopped working and lay still. Cognizance slowly came forward in the form of something weighing me down and the echo of footsteps nearby.

Adrenaline jackknifed through me, and my body arched upward with the force of my gasp. The weight of whatever held me caused severe panic to fill me, and I began to fight against it.

“No!” I screamed, flailing about, trying to escape the binds. “Let me go!”

High-pitched beeping filled my ears, and the footsteps I’d heard grew more insistent and much closer.

He was coming!

“No!” I screamed.

Strong hands grabbed my arms and pinned me down. I tried to fight back, but they were much stronger than me. Kicking my legs, I tried to free them, but even more weight came down, holding them still until I was gasping for breath and ready to beg.

“Please!” I pleaded as wetness coated my cheeks. It made me realize the grittiness under my lids was rinsed away, and my eyes sprang open.

A man was leaning over me. He had graying hair and wore some kind of white shirt. The scream that ripped right out of me scared us both.

More hands and voices came out of nowhere, and I thrashed around again.

“Miss!” the man yelled. “Miss, calm down.”

“Get away from me!” I screamed again.

“Miss!” another voice yelled, a woman this time. Turning in her direction, I saw a pair of kind brown eyes staring at me. “We aren’t trying to hurt you.”

I calmed some, but the thundering of my heart made me feel as if I might spiral out of control. “You aren’t?”

“No.” The woman, who was also dressed in white, spoke. “You’re at a hospital. You were in an accident.”

“W-what?” I stammered, collapsing back against the bed, no longer straining against the binds.

“You’re at a hospital.”

“You’re trying to hold me down!” I accused.

“We don’t want you to hurt yourself.” the woman explained. The hands, even the man’s, remained.

“I don’t like it,” I admitted, recoiling.

The man straightened, stepping back. The nurse was slower to withdraw, but she did so after a few seconds.

“My legs,” I rasped. Suddenly, my throat hurt.

“It’s just the blankets.”

A quick glance down proved I was covered with blankets. Between suspicious glances at the people crowding my room (there were four), I gazed around, concluding I was in fact in a hospital.

“I don’t understand,” I admitted, all my weight pressing into the bed.

“It’s okay,” the man replied. He was a doctor, with a name badge and a stethoscope. “It’s completely normal and expected to be confused after the ordeal you’ve been through.”

“What ordeal?” I asked instantly, anxiety pressing in on my ribcage.

“We were hoping you could tell us,” the doctor said.

“What?” My brows furrowed.

The nurse leaned close, over the side of the bed. I noticed the railings were pulled up on each side. It made me feel as if I were in jail. Instantly, I hated it and began shoving at the bars, trying to push them down.

“Okay, hang on,” the nurse said and put the rails down. Once it was done, she pinned me with an insistent stare. “You have to stay still. You can’t thrash around. You’ll rip out your IV and reinjure yourself.”

“What happened to me?” I asked for what felt like the fifteenth time. I looked around at the four people in the room, hoping one of them would just spit it out.

The doctor motioned to two of the nurses and then quietly left the room.

I glanced back at the nurse. “Can you tell us your name?” she asked.

“My name?” I nodded once, then opened my mouth… only nothing came out.

Anxiety spiked in me again; I started to become agitated. “I… don’t know.”

“Calm down.” The nurse reminded me.

How dare she tell me to calm down? I couldn’t even remember my name.

Oh my God, I didn’t know my own name!

“I don’t remember!” I gasped, jerking up into a sitting position. “Why can’t I remember?”

Before I could fling the covers off and jump out of bed, the doctor was there, pinning me back down. “If you don’t calm down, we’ll have to sedate you. I don’t want to do that. You’ve been out long enough.”

I stilled. “How long?”

“A while.” The nurse hedged.

I ignored her. She was terrible with questions. “How long?” I demanded.

“A little over two months,” the doctor replied.

I gasped. “What’s my name?” I yelled.

I’d been here for two months and they were asking for my name? Shouldn’t they know it?

The doctor wasn’t looking at me; he was looking at the nurse, giving her a curt nod. She rushed out of the room.

“No!” I shouted. “No drugs! Please! Tell me my name. I just want to know my name.”

“You need to calm down. You’ve had a great deal of trauma, miss.”

I dropped back against the pillow, boneless. He called me miss. “You don’t know my name, do you?” I asked, meek.

Sensing all my energy was drained away, he moved back. A frown pulled at his lips. “You were brought in with no identification.” He began.

Fear unlike anything I’d ever felt wrapped around my heart and squeezed. I searched every corner of my mind for something. Anything.

There was nothing.

“I don’t remember…” I whispered.

The doctor seemed to soften. “I know this must be very scary, to wake up and be so disoriented.”

I laughed, but it wasn’t a humorous sound. I wished I were disoriented right then.

“You’ve been through a lot. Give it a few days. Now that you’re awake, your mind will catch up and you will remember.”

“I will?” I asked.

“There’s a good chance.”

Disappointment speared me. “If I don’t?”

“Let’s take it one day at a time.” He placated me.

“Easy for you to say. You know your name.”

A ghost of a smile appeared on his face. “Time.” He reminded me.

The nurse came through the door, holding a syringe, and I cringed away.

“I don’t think we’re going to need that,” the doctor told her.

I let out an audible sigh.

He glanced around again. “Now that you’re awake, I’ll get you down for testing.”

“What kind of testing?” I asked.

“Routine stuff for someone who’s been in a coma.”

Nothing about this was routine. I was in coma… for two months. And I didn’t even know my name.

When both the nurse and doctor were gone and I was alone, my eyes overflowed with tears and a formidable feeling of dread crowded inside me. The doctor said there was “a good chance” I would remember my name very soon.

The problem was it wasn’t just my name I needed to remember…

It was everything.

 

Author Bio:

Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

 

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New collaboration coming from Stacey Rouke and Tish Thawer…

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I am thrilled to be a part of this new project with Stacey & Tish!
Title: TS901: ANOMALY
Author: Stacey Rourke & Tish Thawer
Genre: NA Dystopian
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & Photography
Editor: There for You Editing Services
Expected Release Date: Aug. 1st, 2017
Publisher: Anchor Group Publishing
Blurb:
Tainted water for the good of the people. Fluoride and vitamins to sustain the health of the human race. Added ingredients to extend and elevate the quality of life. All good things, right?
Wrong.
Thia Kelly has been changed by the TS901 chemical in the world’s water supply. Now, forced into hiding with the other inflicted outcasts, she struggles to survive as her powers emerge.
Evan Daniels hunted for others like himself, and finding Thia suddenly brought meaning back into his life. Love blossomed between the strange couple while they searched for a way to reverse the effects. Unfortunately, the Government had something else in mind.
Super-soldier creation on a mass scale was their end goal, and thanks to an unfortunate family tie, Evan became Patient #1.
Good-guy? Bad-guy? The world isn’t sure, but Thia is left with only one choice––save the ass of the world’s first Anomaly who just happens to be her boyfriend.
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 
Visit her at www.staceyrourke.com
or on Twitter or instagram at Rourkewrites.
Award Winning Author, Tish Thawer, writes paranormal romances for all ages. From her first paranormal cartoon, Isis, to the Twilight phenomenon, myth, magic, and superpowers have always held a special place in her heart.
Tish is known for her detailed world-building and magic-laced stories. Her work has been compared to Nora Roberts, Sam Cheever, and Charlaine Harris. She has received nominations for multiple RONE Awards (Reward of Novel Excellence), and Author of the Year (Fantasy, Dystopian, Mystery), as well as nominations and wins for Best Cover, and a Reader’s Choice Award.
Tish has worked as a computer consultant, photographer, and graphic designer, and is a columnist for Gliterary Girl Media and has bylines in RT Magazine and Literary Lunes Magazine. She resides in Colorado with her husband and three wonderful children and is represented by Gandolfo, Helin, and Fountain Literary Management.
Author Links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TishThawer/ | @TishThawer
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2rp0q8A




Perfectly Flawed by J&L Wells

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Title: Perfectly Flawed
Author: J & L Wells
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Kellie Dennis at Book Cover by Design
Editor: Sarah Cheeseman
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Natasha and Gabriel are thrown into parenthood and this should be one of the happiest times of their lives, but unforeseen circumstances and deep-seated problems within the family destroy their happiness, rocking the very foundations of their relationship in a way they could never have imagined. The gift of new life, rather than creating a special bond between them and bringing the pair closer together, is tearing them apart.
Josh, Natasha’s ex, is back on the scene with an offer the family are unable to refuse, forcing old feelings to resurface and bringing further complications to Natasha’s life.
Perfectly Flawed is a second-chance romance novel. There’s no denying that Natasha and Gabriel’s relationship had anything but the perfect start, so don’t they deserve their happy ever after, their perfect ending?
Laura Wells has a love of books, animals and, of course, Jane Austen. She enjoys spending her spare time with her family and two mad Shiba Inus. She lives in Staffordshire, England.
Laura and Judy are a mother and daughter duo; with Judy’s love of poetry and writing and Laura’s ideas, they work extremely well together. Time-travel and romance novels are their passion.
Author Links:
Buy Link:
Perfect Imperfections: http://amzn.to/2m0AfQL
Perfectly Flawed: http://amzn.to/2rLLQsm

Excerpt from Rise of the Sea Witch by Stacey Rourke

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Title: Rise of the Sea Witch
Author: Stacey Rourke
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Fairy Tale and Folklore
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs
Publisher: Anchor Group Publishing
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: 
Details of the sea witch’s banishment have been exaggerated. The body count that preempted it was not. Once an illustrious princess, her hands and tentacles were stained with the blood of thousands. No one could comprehend how the hooks of madness dragged her down from her life of privilege.  
Born Princess Vanessa of Atlantica, the ambitious young royal was one of two children born to the great King Poseidon. She and her brother, Triton, were groomed from birth to rule. Yet only one would ascend that coveted throne. While carefree Triton flits through his training with a cavalier demeanor and beguiling charm, Vanessa’s hunger for her father’s acceptance drives her to push herself to the limits of magic, and combat to become a leader worthy of her people.   
When war against the humans ravages their once regal kingdom, political sides are chosen. Factions from the seven seas challenge the existing leadership, pitting Vanessa against her brother in a vicious battle for the crown. Traitors are exposed, dark family secrets revealed, and a once strong sibling bond is strained to its breaking point.
Only when the ink black waters from the ultimate betrayal rescind, will the truth be known of how the villainous sea witch rose with one name on her vengeful lips–Triton.
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 
Visit her at www.staceyrourke.com
or on Twitter or instagram at Rourkewrites.
Prologue
I admit that in the past I was a princess. They weren’t kidding when they called me … well, a spoiled twit.” Tentacles rolling and churning beneath me, I turn to the newest member of my little garden with effortless grace. Arms thrown out wide, I grant the shriveled polyp a beguiling smile. Those around him tremble in fear, pulling as far away from him as their roots deep within the ocean floor will allow. “Through rather unfortunate circumstances it became mandatory I mend my ways. And, yes, some of the techniques I employed earned me the title of villain.”
“Never, my Queen,” Floteson murmurs. Coiling around my upper arm, he drapes himself across my shoulder.
Jetteson’s oily scales lovingly brush my cheek. “Every one of them was deserving of your wrath.”
Shoulders curling in, I pucker my lips which are freshly glossed by a crimson sea-flower and tenderly scratch each of them under their chins. “How horrible can I be to be so adored by such sweet babies?”
“She shows us nothing but love,” my darling zebra sharks chorus.
Their unwavering dedication soothes me, allowing me to expel a calming breath that bubbles in a wreath around my face.
“I am not the horrible beast many think me to be. Yet I feel it is your own misconceptions that brought you here, and led to … well, you know.” Floating passed my ornate vanity mirror, which seems out of place in the dreary cave I call home, I suck in my cheeks. Turning my head one way and then the other, I inspect my reflection. A smug smile curls the corners of my lips. The woman staring back at me is positively voluptuous with power, mayhem swirling within her clay-gray eyes. “Undoubtedly, you’ve heard rumors of my banishment.”
Hitching one eyebrow at my newly planted polyp, I watch him squirm under the weight of my attention.
“Do you even know my true given name, I wonder? Before hateful whisperings from the farthest reaches of the Seven Seas dubbed me The Sea Witch, I went by another name: Princess Vanessa of Atlantica. I harbored dreams of bringing peace and happiness to the kingdom … as their noble queen.”
Jabbing my hands on to my ample hips, I turn in a swirl of black and purple. “I’m not sure if that pitiful pout is caused by your deep longing to hear more, or if you’re mourning the loss of your shriveled limbs. But,” with a theatrical roll of my wrist, I snap my fingers—my cauldron sparks to life, an ethereal green glow simmering from within, “I choose to think the former because it’s about me … and all of my favorite things are.
“It would be predictable for me to say it all began with the death of my mother. Predictable and false.”
Water rushes beneath me with one mighty flap of all my tentacles. The power of the act propels me over to my alchemy shelves, where my fingers flick over the exposed vials. Some days I seek to terrorize my captives, calling out each ingredient or dangling it over their heads before tossing it into my brew.
Tongue of porpoise.
Eye of cuttlefish.
Shell of sea turtle.
I won’t lie and say watching their complexions green and bug eyes bulge isn’t a guilty pleasure of mine. For the moment, however, a wave of generosity—brought on by the mention of my mother—prompts me to toss them in without my usual theatrics. Each is received into the cauldron’s wide-mouth drum with a puff of smoke and spray of sparks.
“As much as I loved my mother, losing her didn’t drive me to madness as some would have you believe.” Hearing the melancholy in my tone, I bristle. “Far from it, in fact. I would have subjected myself to an abysmal existence of the mundane in honor of her memory. No, it was after the black flags of mourning had been strung through the kingdom, after the spectacle of her funeral procession had passed, that my descent began.”
Throwing one final ingredient into the cauldron, a veil of greasy smoke wafts from its rim. Images begin to form within the haze: the king’s regal quarters, and a formidable frame seated in a high-backed chair behind a massive stone desk.
Crouching down, I position myself eye level with the miniscule scene unfolding. My tentacles coil into tight knots beneath me. “This was the night … the night when I was touched by magic for the very first time … and loathed it to my very core.”
Within the ghostly image, the curtain to the king’s quarters is pushed open. A heavy set nursemaid with stripes of gray in the messy twist of her bun swims in. On one hip she balances a cherub-faced baby that’s only two months shy of his second birthday. Blond ringlets halo his head. Both his eyes and cheeks are ruddy from crying. The frazzled servant’s other hand clings to that of a raven-haired princess who rubs at her tired, violet eyes with a chubby, toddler fist.
“If you aren’t following along yet, that princess is me,” I explain to my captive audience. “The maid softly shushing my younger self is Loriana. Oh, how dear she was to me. She was a servant in the castle, tasked with tending to my brother and I. That little sunset orange tail poking out from behind her belongs to her son, Alastor. He was Triton’s best friend and would become much more than that to me …”
“Sire,” respectfully bowing her head, Loriana readjusted her hold on Prince Triton, “I hate to interrupt.”
My father, King Poseidon, pushed his chair back from the desk in a swirl of water and sand, and rose in greeting. To the rest of the kingdom, he was known as simply the supreme ruler of Atlantica. To me, and my juvenile ignorance, he was the God of the Sea who towered over us all. I envisioned all of his enemies, and anyone that ever wished me harm, falling to their knees and trembling before his commanding presence. His hair and thick beard were the red of Precious Coral. Muscle rippled over every inch of his exposed torso. His narrow waist tapered into an emerald green tail that perfectly matched the shining jewels of his eyes. Countless times I had examined the lines of his face in search of some similarity between the two of us. None could be found. Triton had his smile, and later—when adolescence hit—he would inherit his strong chin. Me? Every inch of me was a lackluster shadow of my mother’s regal beauty. Where her eyes and tail sparkled like freshly polished amethyst, mine seemed dull by comparison. Or, perhaps the lighting from the pedestal I’d built for her in my mind shone for her with a more flattering shimmer.
“The hour is late. I welcome the interruption.” Poseidon set his fish bone quill onto the desk top, and positioned its stone cradle on top of it. “How can I be of service, Loriana?”
 “It’s the children, Your Highness.” Her face a mask of maternal sorrow, Loriana gave my hand a quick pulse of comfort. “This is the first night they have ever tried to go to sleep without a lullaby from their dear mother. I’m afraid I can’t seem to calm their troubled little hearts.”
Poseidon’s broad chest expanded with a deep inhalation, and tipping his head he exhaled a flurry of rushing water and bubbles. “This is a troubling time for us all,” he agreed. Crossing the room with one stroke of his tail, he extended his hands to receive Triton. My brother waved his arms in eager delight, wriggling into the security of Father’s strong embrace. Inching forward, I blinked up at the mighty king. He floated past without so much as ruffling my hair. “I’m afraid I don’t have your mother’s gift of song, but perhaps we could sit a spell and find peace in our togetherness.”
Honoring her position outside of the room, Loriana gave me a gentle push forward to follow my father. Casting a tentative glance over my shoulder, I did just that. Poseidon swirled Triton around, eliciting a giggle that crinkled the corners of his ocean blue eyes, before the king collapsed on the sea sponge sofa with his darling son on his lap. I perched on the very edge of the far cushion, uninvited and unnoticed.
Before that moment our father had been more of a … hmm, how to put this delicately? A figurehead in our lives. We knew of him and regarded him fondly, but unfortunately his kingly duties allowed our primary interactions to be those staged for political potency. Our mother, the lovely Queen Titonis, spent her days caring for my brother and I with only Loriana to aid her. Now, Poseidon had no choice but to pick up the yolk. For Triton this transition seemed to be going swimmingly. I, however, was getting as much attention as the Orca-bone end table.
Hands under the little prince’s pits, Poseidon turned Triton to face him. “I was so proud of how you behaved during the processional today,” he gushed. “You honored not only me, but your mother’s memory when you clasped your tiny fist over your heart and held your head high as her carriage passed.”
“Follow Nessa.” Triton looked to me with love, his tailfin a muted clap when connecting with Father’s lap.
“Your sister has two whole years of further training and experience than you, my boy.” Poseidon’s shoulders raised, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. “You exhibited the poise of a true leader.”
My lips clamped shut to stifle a sob, his words stinging like a slap. I had just as much right to the throne as Triton, but this was the first moment I became painfully aware of who he longed to see succeed him. It would not be the last … or the most painful.
“She held her curtsy so long, merfolk threw flowers!” Alastor, a year and a half older and far more eloquent than Triton, darted into the room to brazenly interject. Mahogany waves curled over his earlobes, adding dimension to his round little face that resembled a bubble. The boldness of his gesture quickly shriveled under Father’s menacing glare.
“The son of a servant entering the king’s quarters?” Father boomed, one eyebrow raising in question. “One might question your upbringing, lad.”
“A thousand apologies, Your Majesty!” Loriana blushed from her neck clear up to her earlobes and snapped her fingers at her wandering boy. “Alastor, come here at once!”
Shoulders sagging like a stone cast to the depths, Alastor returned to his rightful place in the hall. The heat of his topaz stare bore into me as he paddled along, searching for even the slightest acknowledgement of his noble deed.
I had none to offer.
My own gaze had drawn away from my brother, laughing while Father tickled his cheeks with his beard, to scan the items neatly arranged on father’s desk. Inanimate objects which earned his attentions daily just by being. On the right side, closest to his scrawling hand, sat the quill. Its fat little ink pot was perfectly positioned perpendicular beside it. In the center of the desk, weighted by stones carved with the royal crest, rested a stack of scrolls awaiting the king’s notice. On the left-hand corner, Poseidon’s late night snacking needs were met by a plate of rolled and seasoned seaweed puffs.
The ink pot lured my attention back as if calling to me.
I had never had to work for attention in any capacity. My mother had always given it freely, and in limitless supply. Since she had been taken from me, I had unquenched needs: hugs, stories, and all of that … drivel. So, yes, I thought about acting out. I toyed with the idea of knocking over that little clay pot and letting the ink flow to ruin the staged perfection of father’s space. More than that, I wanted to. I wanted to hear him shout out my name in his menacing vibrato, because at least then he would have to acknowledge me. While my hands stayed folded neatly in my lap, as the good little mergirl I was, something within me I had never felt before reached out. Palpable energy, only I seemed privy to, crackled through the water to cradle the pot in its hold. I could feel it, poised and ready, awaiting my command. Biting my lower lip to fend off a threatening grin, my essence gave barely a nudge and the ink pot tumbled. A thick black cloud exploded over my father’s desk, staining the scrolls and ruining the once delectable wraps.
“Vanessa!” thundered my father, rocketing off the sofa. “Look what you’ve done!”
I turned toward him with feigned remorse … and screamed. The howl of terror tore from my chest until my gills ached and my throat was raw.
There was a buzz of activity: Poseidon calling to the nursemaid, Loriana swimming in as fast as her fins could carry her, Triton wailing in fear, Alastor trying to shush his friend from the doorway to which he’d been banished. I neither saw nor heard any of this.
Floating in the center of the room, bobbing with the current, was my mother.
Not the serene vision of loveliness I had known her to be that was full of life and love. Heck, I even would’ve happily settled for the slumbering beauty she appeared to be during her funeral. In vast contrast, the entity hovering before me had chunks of flesh gnawed away by assorted sea beasts. Cracked, ashen lips curled into a snarl. Black ooze bubbled through her teeth, dripping from her chin and clouding the water. My scream reached a fevered pitch, spots dancing before my eyes. The ghoul, who in life sang me to sleep, reached for me with one hand that had been gnawed to bone.
You see, by using magic I opened a door and allowed the darkness in. The cost being more than I could bear, I vowed to myself—as my consciousness waned—never, ever to dabble with such things again.
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves …

 

Wedding Pets & Kisses Anthology

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Title: Wedding Pets & Kisses Anthology
Genre: Sweet Romance

Blurb:
Sometimes in the middle of an ordinary life, love offers a fairy tale. You are cordially invited to celebrate family, friends, laughter, even a few tears, as cute, furry, four-legged pets play matchmaker and lead their owners to happily ever after in these 8 new, never-before-published sweet romances by New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors.
Individual Book Blurbs
Mimi Barbour, NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author – Love of My Life
Abandoned puppies, an unexpected elopement, and a dangerous fire enliven this captivating romance when two delightful characters share a duplex.
Donna Fasano, USA Today Bestselling Author – The Wedding Planner’s Son
Tawny, a newly engaged workaholic, flees to Ocean City, Maryland, and meets a man who could change her thinking about life…and love.
Denise Devine, USA Today Bestselling Author – The Encore Bride
Jenny Landon’s heart was broken when her husband tragically died. Can she put the past behind her and learn to love again?
Raine English, USA Today Bestselling Author – A Little Romance
When a dog left in her care disappears, will Taylor Wayne find the missing pooch and redeem herself in the eyes of Mr. Right?
Cheryl Harper, USA Today Bestselling Author – Plus One Basset Hound
In the fourth grade, Audrey promised the last of the bad Blanchards that she’d marry him someday. He’s back in Baxter, Louisiana, but for how long? Planning a rehearsal dinner to save the day may turn to love.
Cindy Flores Martinez, USA Today Bestselling Author – Moonstone Beach
A bridesmaid loses her coworker’s Yorkie in Cambria, California, before her best friend’s wedding. The groomsman, who was her high school crush, helps her search for him, sparking new romantic feelings between them.
Mimi Milan, Award-winning, Bestselling Author – Scent of an Angel
Tanner has seen some serious battles, but this army veteran’s defenses go down when he meets a beautiful grad student and her determined dog.
J.L. Campbell, Award-winning, Bestselling Author – Blindsided
When his bride abandons him at the altar, Gordon Raimes is devastated. Will Caroline continue to keep secrets, or will she trust him with her heart?


Mimi Barbour
New York Times, USA Today, Best-selling author – Mimi’s been heard to say: “I’m an author who loves to write uplifting stories about romance. Add in some time travel, or maybe an angel, or even a little romantic suspense and it makes the story more fascinating because of the incredible possibilities.”
Mimi is an Amazon best-selling author who’s sold over 500,000 copies of her books world-wide. Her five romance series: The Vicarage Bench/ time travel at its best, Angels with Attitudes / angels love romance, Vegas / fast-paced plotting, Elvis / make a song a book and her newest, Undercover FBI / with sizzling conflicts and lots of humor.

Donna Fasano
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR DONNA FASANO is a three-time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl’s Books & Pals Review Blog. Her books have sold 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her novels have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #1.
Donna has a website, and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Contact information can be found inside Donna Fasano’s books. She loves to interact with readers.

Cheryl Harper
Cheryl Harper discovered her love for books and words as a little girl, thanks to a mother who made countless library trips and an introduction to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House stories. Now she spends her days searching for the right words while she stares out the window and her dog snoozes beside her.

Raine English
Raine English is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author who writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, light paranormal, and gothic romantic suspense. She’s a Daphne du Maurier Award winner and a Golden Heart finalist. Her books have made the Top 100 Bestseller lists at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and she’s been listed in Amazon’s Top 100 Most Popular Authors in Romance.

Cindy Flores Martinez
Cindy Flores Martinez is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes sweet, Christian and Spanish romance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Her debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started as a screenplay and movie project, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world.

Mimi Milan
Mimi Milan is an award winning, bestselling author who writes across several genres of fiction. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University. When she isn’t staring at a computer screen, she can be found in the suburbs of North Carolina, spending time with her family and imaginary friends.
Mimi invites readers to connect with her online. Her contact information can be found in the back of all her books, as well as through an internet search.

J.L. Campbell
J.L. Campbell is an award-winning, Jamaican author who writes romantic suspense, women’s fiction, new and young adult novels. She has written sixteen books, seven novellas and two short story collections.
Her novels include the Island Adventure Romance series, which currently has five exciting, stand-alone stories and features feisty women and determined men. Campbell’s mission is to write stories that entertain and educate readers. She is a certified editor, who also writes non-fiction.


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Book Blitz ~ The Day Human Trilogy by Kristen McMichaels

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Title: The Day Human  Trilogy
Author: B. Kristen McMichaels
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR
Blurb:
Devin Alexander grew up as the only day human in a world surrounded by night humans who drank blood, sometimes his blood. He spent his life training toward one goal: the protection of one of those blood drinkers, Arianna Grace. But what is he supposed to do when the blue-eyed girl of the legends doesn’t need him anymore? What does his life mean then? How is a guy supposed to move on when the girl he has yearned over for a decade has chosen someone else?Before he can even start to figure out his new life without Arianna, Devin has to deal with another problem. He needs to take care of some unfinished business with a night human he has known for less than a month, but with whom he is magically bound.

Vanessa McKinny has promised that she knows a way to undo the spell she placed on Devin to save his life. Devin would do anything to break the bond to be free of her, even if it means traveling to the sidhe village, a place inhabited by a race of night humans that has not had a day human visitor in more than a hundred years. If he doesn’t want to get stuck, he must work with Nessa to find a way to break the bond. Only then can Devin have time to get back to finding his new goal in life, unless he discovers that his path lies with the sidhe.

Blurb:
Book Two of The Day Human Trilogy
Book Five in The Night Human World
An expansion of The Blue Eyes TrilogyAfter he inherited the power of the late sidhe king, Devin thought the battle to protect Nessa and proceed with her coronation was over. Everyone feared him, and he had the power to do anything in the sidhe world. He was wrong. As problem after problem arises, Nessa and Devin discover that the path to the throne isn’t as simple as they thought. Formalities must be adhered to, preparations must be made, and between all of that, Devin and Nessa must decide what to do with an obviously pregnant Fiona, who won’t name the father of her child. To make matters worse, the elite sidhe are still assassinating each other. No one in the palace is safe. Who is behind the latest deaths, and can the coronation actually occur with all of the drama going on? Devin and Nessa’s road to power might be cut short if they can’t find the answers.

Blurb:

Book Three of The Day Human Trilogy

Book Six in The Night Human WorldDevin thought his stay with the sidhe would be short. That soon changed when he found out that he loved Nessa, but love just might not be enough. She has other suitors, and Devin isn’t sure if he wants to go through that again. Too bad for him, suitors are the least of his problems. On the eve of Nessa’s coronation, Devin finds himself framed for using magic he doesn’t possess. With his sidhe powers he’s the only one who knows that the magic harming people around Nessa comes not from nature, but from the witches. Good thing Devin knows a witch or two himself, but will it be in time to save everything and get Nessa on the throne?


B. Kristin McMichael graduated with her PhD in biology at Ohio State where she worked as a scientist before taking her passion of writing full-time. Besides writing, she enjoys chasing her kids, playing outside, and baking cookies. She lives in Ohio with her husband and three children.
Author Links:
Devin concentrated on the road. He had dealt with more difficult obstacles over his nineteen years than a seventeen-year-old girl. In the past he had dealt with much more stress at one time. This should have been easy. He was used to fighting large night human monsters that drank blood to survive. It didn’t matter in the least that the girl he wanted to get back to, Arianna Grace, was one of those monsters. She wasn’t the scary kind. Nessa really wasn’t the scary kind, either; she was the more annoying kind of night human. Devin sighed. Yes, he thought as her window went down another time, she really was the annoying kind.
            He had one mission now. Get Nessa home to her family and break the bond she had placed on him to heal him. Once the bond was broken, he would be free to go home to his normal life. It wasn’t that he wasn’t grateful for the bond she used that saved his life; he just had to get back to where he was needed. His life had one goal, and that was to keep Arianna Grace, the girl that saved his life when he was seven, safe. He should have felt that same bond to Nessa after they were connected, as she also saved his life, but he did not. He only wanted to be free of her and her complaining.



Shattered Worlds ~ PREORDER

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