Monday, August 31, 2020

Review Tuesday: When a Wolf Howls by Fiona McGier - #shifters #eroticromance #ReviewTuesday

When a Wolf Howls cover

 

When a Wolf Howls by Fiona McGier

eXtasy Books Inc., 2020

Saoirse McColl has a mind of her own – and that gets her into trouble. A research biologist, she has been fired by several labs because she refused to fudge her data to match the desired results. Unemployed and disillusioned, she’s temporarily staying with her best friend Freddie in his Boston apartment, while she tries to find work that won’t require her to surrender her principles. The listing for a science teacher at a private school in Maine seems like a long shot, but she figures she has nothing to lose by applying for the job.

Somewhat to her surprise, she discovers she loves the beautiful and remote Northwest Maine Academy, perhaps because most of her students and colleagues don’t fit in to so-called “normal” society any better than she does. She’s especially drawn to the school principle Diego Vargas, and to her delight the attraction seems to be mutual. When she discovers the secret the Academy exists to hide, however, she wonders whether her intense connection with the handsome, virile Latino could possibly have a future.

Fiona McGier writes contemporary erotic romance, a genre I find all too often is sadly predictable. Fortunately, Ms. McGier brings an original twist to most of her stories. In When a Wolf Howls, she has created a surprisingly rational and believable world in which werewolves exist but are biological flukes rather than paranormal monsters. Lupines have a double identity, wolf and human, and must constantly compromise between the two. The syndrome is heritable but unpredictable. Until puberty, when an individual undergoes his or her first shift, there’s no way to tell whether someone is a were or not.

The sprawling, luxurious Academy shelters the were-pack along with their non-were mates and associates, in an environment close to nature where their wolves can run free. Once Saoirse recovers from the shock of meeting Diego in wolf form, she’s forced to recognize the powerful emotional and carnal bond between them. Their fairy-tale romance takes a darker turn, however, as she comes to understand what is expected of her as the mate of the new pack leader.

I really enjoyed When A Wolf Howls. It has the luscious erotic heat I’ve come to expect from Fiona McGier, but touches on more substantive topics as well: female agency, child-bearing and motherhood, mismatched expectations between men and women, the clash between moral principles and love. The book is rather loosely plotted, with several crises rather than a single narrative arc, but the conflicts do become more fundamental as the novel progresses, until they seriously threaten Diego’s and Saoirse’s happily ever after.

Most of the novel is presented from Saoirse’s point of view, with occasional shifts to Diego as well as secondary characters. I think I would have preferred to stay in Saoirse’s head the entire time, as the shifts (no pun intended) are somewhat disorienting.

I had one complaint about the writing. The author uses long internal monologues, where Saoirse is effectively talking silently to herself, for exposition of past action and back story. I found this device a bit annoying.

Overall, though, When a Wolf Howls is warm-hearted, genuine, creative and arousing. Saoirse’s a fantastic heroine, a strong woman who’s ready to fight for justice, her own safety, and that of the people she loves. She’s definitely well suited to be Diego’s mate.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Available Now! The next book in the Tomorrow’s Angels series by @LNightingale - #sciencefiction #romance #androids

Android lover

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Life for Sale, sequel to Love For Sale, continues the Tomorrow’s Angels series. Christian – a sentient, human-like android – and his owner March must stop an insane robot before someone else dies. All the evidence points to March being the killer's next victim.

Blurb

Mayfair Electronics has created life.

But four of their Special Editions—sentient androids indistinguishable from human—have escaped. Rebel, Christian Aguillard and his owner, March, are on the run, but they have a bigger problem than his creator's plan to destroy him. They've discovered that one of the renegades has suffered a dangerous malfunction, threatening them with more than just exposure.

Trapped on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic, March and Christian must stop the insane robot before someone else dies. All the evidence points to March being the killer's next victim.


 
Excerpt

Why are you here? To spout more nonsense?” Spitting mad, Monica reared up in her enemy’s face.

Not at all.” March’s hand flashed, almost too rapidly for Monica to see, and came down hard below her nose in a Judo-like attack.

Shocked and in pain, she stumbled back, switching modes as she pushed off the bed. “That’s it, whore. You’re a dead woman.”

I don’t think so,” her rival gritted out, hands braced on her hips, her expression as cold and hard as her mediocre brown eyes. She shook her head. “Look, Monica, I know you’re aware of your actions. I’m going to give you a chance. You must deactivate until we can safely transport you to Dr. Cross for testing. Surely, you know something is wrong.”

As they say in the films, you and whose army?” She squared her shoulders, preparing to strike without notice. “I didn’t do anything to that bloody dog. I didn’t do anything to you, fool.”

You didn’t mention Anne.” The other woman seized Monica’s arm. “What did you do to Anne?”

Claws out, Monica lunged. March darted beneath her guard, stabbing at a spot beneath her left earlobe. Monica shoved her back. “Looking for my off switch, fool? It’s well hidden, like where Ms. Goodie Two Shoes wouldn’t even think about going.”

Her insane human rival stood at the locked door, her stance as much as saying to leave Monica would have to get past her. No prob. She stalked toward her rival, murder in her eyes. March didn’t move. When Monica threw a punch at her eye, she moved by the gods.

The American whore lurched back, crossing her arms across her face, anticipating Monica’s next attack. Forearm struck forearm. A human bone should break, but March stood her ground, her limb intact. She recovered too quickly, dealing Monica a hard blow beneath her cheekbone, barely missing her eye, slamming her back against the wall.

I don’t know what you are, March Morgan,” she sneered. “But it’s not going to save your butt.”

No, but I am.” Looking like an avenging angel, Christian—in a Houston t-shirt and khaki shorts, his long hair disheveled—had somehow appeared behind March without either of them hearing.

Buy Links

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D2Z5XLC/

Wild Rose Press:

https://www.thewildrosepress.com/books/life-for-sale


About the Author


After 14 years in Texas, Linda returned home to her roots in the South Carolina red clay. She has eight published novels, four of which are available from Audible.com in audio. For many years, she bred, trained and showed the magnificent Andalusian horses. So, she’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer. She’s won several writing awards, including the Georgia Romance Writers’ Magnolia Award for Excellence, the Raven Award, and the SARA Merritt. In real life, she was a legal assistant.

Social Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LNightingale

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

Web Site: http://www.lindanightingale.com – Visit and look around. There’s a free continuing vampire story.

Blog: https://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/ - Lots of interesting guests & prizes

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4839311.Linda_Nightingale

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lbnightingale1/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Nightingale/e/B005OSOJ0U

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/linda-nightingale


 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Charity Sunday for Change - #BlackLivesMatter #ICantBreathe #CharitySunday

 

Charity Sunday banner


A few days ago, in the town where I was born and spent the first two years of my life, an unarmed black man was shot in the back seven times by a police officer – while his children watched.

Kenosha, Wisconsin, doesn’t make the news very often. We’ve almost come to expect police violence in big cities like Chicago or New York or LA. But Kenosha? I don’t remember much about the place, but my parents always talked about what a warm, neighborly town it was, how Midwesterners were more open and welcoming than folks from New England, where they came from.

If black men are being slaughtered in Kenosha, things are even worse than I’d realized.

As of the time I’m writing this, Jacob Blake is still fighting for his life in intensive care. I pray that he’ll survive, but even if he does, that doesn’t mitigate the horror of it all. I am dedicating this Charity Sunday to Jacob and the scores of other men and women of color who have suffered at the hands of police. For each comment I receive, I’ll donate two dollars to ColorOfChange.org

 


Color of Change is one of the largest organizations fighting for racial justice. Their concerns are very varied, with campaigns focused on criminal justice, racism in media, voting rights, police brutality, economic inequality and many other issues that impact the lives and livelihood of people of color. I personally approve of this broad perspective, because I believe all these questions are related. For instance, when the media cater to racist stereotypes and portray Black men as dangerous criminals, that feeds the fears of whites and the encourages the violence of the police. If census procedures are biased and undercount people of color, that leads to disenfranchisement and loss of political power.

Anyway, I’m not here to lecture you, but to encourage you to read and comment. Visit the website for ColorOfChange.org to find out more about their work. Meanwhile, I have an excerpt from my ménage erotic romance Wild About That Thing. I chose this book because it has both black and white protagonists, whom I hope I’ve portrayed in a non-racist manner.

Blurb

There's more than one way to beat the blues.

Two things are important to Ruby Jones: her teenage son and her struggling club, the Crossroads Blues Bar. Her love life comes as a distant third, despite the efforts of Zeke Chambers to convince her otherwise. Zeke's the lead singer in her house band, a devoted friend, and an occasional lover. He can drive her wild with desire, but can't get her to make a commitment. Deserted by her cheating ex-husband, Ruby's determined she's going to make it on her own. She's hot-blooded like her bluesman daddy, happy to satisfy her physical cravings, but she's not about to let any man into her heart.

The stranger who takes the stage on the Crossroads open mike night upsets the delicate balance in Ruby's world. Remy Saint-Michel inspires irrational, irresistible lust as well as inexplicable sympathy. Overwhelmed, confused, guilty and worried about her prized independence, Ruby decides that the only way to deal with her two lovers is to push them both away. Zeke and Remy, though, have other ideas. 

 


Excerpt

Ruby could feel it in her bones. It was going to be a good night. Only ten thirty, but most of the tables clustered ‘round the stage were full. Lori had already lugged two extra cases of Heineken—tonight’s beer special—up from the basement, and from the looks of the empties accumulating in front the customers, they were going fast. The bartender caught Ruby’s eye and gave her a thumbs up. Everything under control.

Up front, the Night Travellers hit a dark groove, wailing through Born Under a Bad Sign. Zeke’s fingers flew over the strings, improvising a high riff, while Jojo’s bass kept the song grounded. “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,” Zeke growled, torturing his guitar to match the pain in his voice. Damn, but the man sounded black, despite the mop of straw-coloured hair he kept pushing out of his eyes. Born in Mississippi, he must’ve soaked up blues in the water and the air. Certainly he could play with the best. Ruby was lucky to have him and his band, given the pittance she could afford to pay them.

As if he sensed her attention, Zeke picked her out of the shadows at the back of the club. She felt the warmth of the smile he beamed to her, a smile totally at odds with the desperate mood of the song. You know why Zeke plays here, her inner critic commented. You’re just taking advantage of him.

He gets what he wants, she argued with the internal voice that sounded so very much like her mother’s. I treat him fine. Of course, she got as much out of their relationship as he did. Zeke was a strong man with powerful desires. He could set her on fire. It wasn’t her fault that he was so sentimental. You wouldn’t expect it from a rough and tumble guy like Zeke Chambers—ten years a New York cabbie, a guy who’d seen every horror the city could dish out.

Her phone vibrated in her jeans pocket, interrupting her train of thought.

Hey, hon. What’s up? You should be in bed.”

I’m going, Mama. I just want to finish this chapter…”

Isaiah Jones, it’s nearly eleven and tomorrow’s a school night! You shut your light off right now!”

Okay, okay, Mama! But don’t forget about your meeting tomorrow with Ms Rodriguez.”

Oh, right.” Ruby sighed. Isaiah’s grades were good but he was so small that he tended to get bullied. She needed to put a stop to that, somehow. “Thanks, hon. Three thirty, right?”

Uh huh.”

I’ll be there, don’t worry. Then we’ll walk back home together. Maybe stop for a banana split.”

Yum!”

But only if you go to bed right now, you understand? I don’t want to have to come upstairs and make you!”

Of course. Good night, Mama.”

“’Night, sweetie. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.” Ruby fought against the wave of guilt that threatened to swamp her. Sure, it would be better if she could awaken with her son, make him breakfast and see him off to school like a “normal” mom. But the club kept her up until three a.m. most nights.

Isaiah understood. She’d tried staying up until after he’d left, but he had seen how wiped out that made her. He insisted she needed her sleep. At thirteen, he didn’t have any problem dressing and feeding himself—heck, he’d been doing it for the past two years, ever since she’d opened the Crossroads Blues Bar. He knew the club was her dream—the dream that had kept her alive after his bastard father took off with his leggy hygienist.

And the bar was finally starting to take off. Just last week, Time Out had published a feature about Crossroads. “A bit of Chicago or the Delta transplanted to Fourteenth Street,” the reviewer had raved. That glowing memory almost balanced the effects of the letter she’d received this afternoon.

The crowd erupted into claps and whistles as the Travellers finished their number. “Thank you kindly, ladies and gentlemen.” A decade in New York hadn’t erased the softness of the South from Zeke’s speech. “Welcome to our first open mic night here at the Crossroads. Hope you brought your axe, your sax or your harp—if you didn’t, well, hell, you can borrow ours! Everybody gets the blues sometimes. This is the place to let it all out!”

Fresh applause greeted Zeke’s invitation. He stood up there on the platform—his hands jammed into the pockets of his jeans jacket, his axe hanging around his neck—and grinned like the country boy he used to be. At six-foot-one, with the solid build of a halfback, Zeke was an imposing figure. He’d broken up more than one drunken brawl for her over the past two years and he had a temper that could be scary. To Ruby and Isaiah, though, he’d been nothing but kind. Whatever success the Crossroads could claim was largely due to him.

To kick things off tonight, I want to invite a very special lady to join us here on stage. She’s been through some hard times, friends, and she knows the blues. It’s in her blood, passed on from her daddy, Jimmy ‘The Harp’ Jones. When she sings, she spills her soul. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Ruby Jones, the lovely owner of the Crossroads Blues Bar!”

Applause filled the club. Zeke’s invitation hadn’t been a surprise. They’d discussed having her warm up the crowd, and of course, she’d been performing since she was a kid. Nevertheless, his effusive introduction made her feel self-conscious. Ruby wished she’d worn something a bit more glamorous than her usual jeans and tailored shirt.

She picked her way between the tables, headed for the stage. Zeke held out a big hand. When she grasped it, he swung her onto the platform, and quite neatly, into his arms. The crowd roared.

Zeke brushed his lips across hers. His distinctive scent engulfed her—clean sweat, Jim Beam and Ivory Soap. It was like turning on a movie—she instantly remembered the last time he’d been inside her. His blond stubble grazed her cheek. She saw him in her mind’s eye—body suspended above hers on powerful arms as he buried his cock in her pussy, fucking her with a smooth, steady rhythm while he scanned her face, focused on her pleasure. She felt again the way he stretched and filled her. The seam of her jeans teased her suddenly swollen clit. She wondered if Zeke could smell her growing dampness. Hell, what about the rest of the band?

Stop it,” she whispered, pushing against his rock-hard chest.

Zeke released her with obvious reluctance. “I love her,” he told the audience, eliciting a chorus of hoots and whistles. Aching, hungry and guilt-ridden, Ruby knew he meant every word.

~~~

If this sounds like something you’d like to read, grab a copy at Amazon or Totally Bound.

And don’t forget to leave a comment. Every one is a step toward changing things for the better. And I hope you'll visit the other bloggers hosting Charity Sunday posts today!


A Map of My Heart - #NewEngland #Setting #AmWriting


I don’t just write stories. I write places. That’s one of the signature characteristics of my writing—my tendency to set my tales in specific locations, and to bring those settings to life. One of my readers said once that in my books, the setting is almost another character. I think that’s a reasonable observation.

In most cases, I have some experience with the places I choose, either as an inhabitant or a tourist. My first novel was set in Thailand, my second in Boston, my third in Los Angeles, my fourth in Pittsburghall places I’ve lived at one time or another. I’ve also published novels set in France, Guatemala, India, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley, and, recently, a series of shorts called Asian Adventures.

Very little of my work unfolds without at least a mention of where it’s happening. I enjoy the variety of writing new places almost as much as I like traveling. However, I find myself returning again and again to locations in Massachusetts, the state where I grew up and where I lived for several decades before moving to Asia.

In Miranda’s Masks, the heroine lives in the nineteenth century Boston district of Beacon Hill, more or less in the same apartment I rented there for a glorious year and half. When Miranda admires her surroundings, she’s basically echoing my own feelings:

Miranda felt delightfully free as she strolled down Charles Street, enjoying the afternoon. It was only May, but already the trees were in full leaf, dappling the brick sidewalks with patterns of shadow. Girls passed her in tank tops and shorts, legs and arms bare and already burnished with sun. She felt warm in her long-sleeved pullover and denim overalls.

She loved this district, with its historic buildings and narrow lanes. Most of the townhouses dated from the middle of the nineteenth century. They offered a delightful jumble of architectural detail—wrought-iron balconies, fanlight transoms, stained glass, mullioned windows, Corinthian columns. Many of the brick-fronted buildings were draped with ivy. Some were traversed by aged trunks as thick as her wrist, twining around doors up to the many-chimneyed roofs. The tall windows offered glimpses of chandeliers, Oriental carpets, Siamese cats, and bookshelves that stretched floor to ceiling.

In Beacon Hill, gas lamps lined all the streets, burning day and night. Her own apartment looked out on a private alley, flanked by ivy-hung brick walls and lit by gas lights. Miranda appreciated the irony of her living in an environment that dated from the same period as her research. Perhaps, she sometimes mused, I had a previous life as a Victorian matron.

Most of Beacon Hill was residential, but Charles Street was lined with shops and cafés. There were many vendors of books and antiquities. Miranda loved to rummage through the crowded, chaotic shops, savoring the atmosphere of the past, although she rarely made a purchase.

She entered one of these places now, a dim, comfortable space half below street level. She had to duck her head as she entered. A silvery bell tinkled to announce her arrival.

The proprietor, an energetic, fussy old man with wire spectacles, knew her by sight.

Hello, hello,” he said as he emerged from a backroom. “Can I help you find anything today?”

Miranda smiled. “No, thank you. I’m just browsing at the moment.”

Well, if I can be of any assistance, just let me know.”

Miranda wandered happily through the shop. It was much larger than it first appeared, with several rooms stretching backward into the building. The front room, near the street, was crowded with furniture of obsolete categories, armoires, commodes, carved dressing tables surmounted by triple mirrors. There were other rooms with porcelain, jewelry, cutlery, iron fittings, tarnished brass.

There really was a shop like that, just down the street from my front door. I loved browsing there.

The Witches of Gloucester is a love letter to another of my favorite Massachusetts areas. Cape Ann, north of Boston, is a rugged promontory jutting out into the frigid Atlantic. The Essex River estuary and the complicated coastline create multiple beaches, inlets, bays and swamps. The city of Gloucester itself has a long history as a port and trading hub. It still has an active fishing fleet, manned by the Italian and Portuguese inhabitants whose families have lived there for generations.

Emmeline, one of the witches in the title, has fled to the city after a messy breakup with her boyfriend. The place she lives is based on a picturesque little cottage on Inner Harbor that I noticed on one of my trips to Gloucester.

Emmeline perched on the rail of her tiny porch, watching the gulls wheel and swoop among the masts crowding the sky. A man in a knit cap and tall rubber boots balanced in a dingy, shouting to someone who looked like his twin back on the wharf. One of the town’s many churches rang six PM, but the sun still rode high above the inner harbor. Honeysuckle blossoms growing across the narrow bay scented the air, mingling with the closer odor of raw fish.

She loved the sea, always had. Renting a cottage right on the water, a space of her own where she could work on her dissertation in peace and privacy – that had been her one dream after the nasty break-up with Tim. Okay, so the place was hardly more than a shack, one room plus a cramped bath with a cold shower, but it was painted lemon yellow and had pansies in the box beneath its one front window. Not to mention this back porch, the ideal place for her to hang out and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean. At night, little waves lapped at the pilings that supported the rear half of the building, lulling her to sleep. It was hard to imagine an environment more conducive to study.

My gay paranormal romance Necessary Madness is a much darker book than either of the above. Kyle, the eighteen year old hero, has devastating prescient visions he cannot control, about disasters he cannot prevent. His uncontrolled power is slowly driving him insane. The story takes place in the gritty, industrial city of Worcester, about fifty miles west of Boston, and in the hamlet of Petersham in the Quabbin Valley, a rather haunted locale.

Here’s a snippet set in Worcester:

It was still early. The sun was just peeking over the roofs of the apartment blocks and triple deckers that lined the street. Only one or two cars passed him as he made his way along the sidewalk. Crisp leaves fluttered around his ankles, then scattered in a chill gust that sliced through his jacket as though it were made of paper. He hardly noticed. Darkness was brewing in his mind, black whirlpools flecked with points of flame. He knew the signs. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the package store up ahead, the light in its barred window indicating that it was open despite the hour.

A pint of Seagram’s, please.” When he saw Kyle’s money, the grizzled clerk didn’t bother to ask for ID. In two minutes, Kyle was back on the sidewalk, drinking deeply from the brown-bagged bottle. The vodka seared his throat, familiar pain that made him feel slightly better. The monstrous shapes shifting behind his eyelids subsided. He headed up the Belmont Street hill towards the downtown area. Somewhere he’d find a quiet bridge or a vacant lot, where he could hide and drink until he drowned the demons cavorting in his brain.

By the time he reached the I-290 overpass, he was staggering. He tripped and slammed into a wizened black woman toting her groceries, knocking her hat onto the sidewalk. “Ah, sorry, ma’am,” he slurred, giggling as he tried to replace the absurd pillbox on her grey curls.

Crazy honky bum! Get your filthy hands off me!”

Um, really, I apologise…” But she was already gone. He fell against the railing, still chuckling, and leant over to watch the cars whizz by, blurs of bright colour. He tilted the bottle to his lips, then realised it was already empty. “Fuck!” His drunken hilarity evaporated. He held the useless thing over the highway and released it. The clash of its shattering, the squeal of brakes as cars tried to avoid the spray of broken glass, gave him an odd satisfaction. Maybe for once I’ll cause the disaster, instead of being a helpless spectator.

And here’s a bit from the tiny Western Massachusetts village of Petersham, which hopefully captures a bit of the slightly creepy feeling of the place, which is part of the real Lovecraft country :

The afternoon was clear but cold. There’d be frost tonight. Kyle could tell by sniffing the air. He swung out the driveway and turned left, heading back up Quail Hollow Lane towards the village centre.

He strode along the gravel road, snug in his warm clothing, humming a Christmas song. His breath hung in white clouds in front of his face. He reached Main Street—Route 32—and considered turning around. The shadows were getting longer by the minute, though a few rays of sunlight still slanted through gaps in the trees. Moving felt so good, though—his lessons with Elspeth involved long hours of virtual immobility. He kept going, driven by restless energy, past the Congregational and the Baptist churches, the shuttered country store and the white-shingled houses clustered around the village green.

His eyes adapted to the dimness as dusk approached. He didn’t realise how late it had become until he heard the bell in one of the churches behind him chime five.

Damn! Elspeth will have my hide. Kyle wheeled around and began to retrace his steps at a faster pace.

The two-lane road was lonely and mostly empty. A pickup truck clattered by, laden with metal scrap, then vanished into the gloom. It was much colder now that the sun had disappeared completely. Kyle hurried along, his shoulders hunched and his hands in his pockets.

I even set one story, Almost Home, in the rural western Massachusetts town where I lived for twenty plus years. This MMF holiday tale takes place during one of New England’s famous blizzards, in a house modelled after my neighbors’ place across the street.

Suzanne had never seen stars so bright. The night sky was a black bowl above them, studded with blazing jewels. The snow blanketing the yard gleamed with some faint inner radiance. At the edges of the property, evergreens clustered in deeper shadow like silent sentinels.

She took a deep breath of the crystalline air, so cold and sharp it hurt her lungs. The tiny hairs inside her nose stood on end. Her earlobes felt like icicles. From the neck down, though, she was bathed in delicious warmth. The bizarre contrast almost made her giggle.

Smooth, hard muscle brushed her thigh. After a moment, roving fingers skittered across her lap and burrowed into her pubic fur. A fiery bolt of lust struck her core.

Gino!” she scolded. “Behave!”

Why should I?” asked her lover, rubbing his body against hers under the surface of the water. “Harry doesn’t mind. Do you?”

The lanky blond on Gino’s other flank grinned. “Not at all. Long as you keep up what you’re doing over here, that is.”

Harris had untied his ponytail. His golden locks flowed over his shoulders, darkening to sepia where wet. With his thin face and chiselled features, he looked like some warrior ascetic, a knight on a quest for some sacred prize. Suzanne could understand why Gino found him attractive. She wondered whether he really was one-hundred percent gay.

Leaning back against the redwood wall and closing her eyes, she allowed the peace of the night to enfold her. Her limbs were heavy. Her heart felt as though it was about to overflow.

The growl of motors and a rattling of metal reached her ears. Gino’s solar-heated hot tub was at the back of the house, away from the street. Still, the faint noise shattered the intense quiet of the snow-smothered night.

Ploughs,” said Harris, cocking his head in the direction of the sound. “At last.” He pointed to the cloudless sky. “Looks like they were wrong about more snow, though.”

These aren’t my only stories set in Massachusetts. Chemistry takes place in Cambridge. Mastering Maya is another Boston tale. The Understudy is set at a summer theatre in the Berkshires, the range of hills on the western border of the state. Rough Weather takes place on the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard. I’m sure if I thought a bit more deeply, I’d come up with other examples.

Living overseas, I don’t really miss much about the United States, but the New England landscape is an exception. Even though I left Massachusetts more than fifteen years ago, it still has a place in my heart. Not to mention in my fiction.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

A thrilling new reverse harem romance from Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #Adventure #SaveTheWorld #WhyChoose

Search and Rescue cover
 

Blurb

Kim’s trying to save the world—but is she actually going to make things worse?

Kim Medhurst is an ex-British military intelligence officer turned scientist and climate activist. A thrilling, potentially world-changing discovery leads her to a cave on a remote island off the Scottish coast. But before she can return to the mainland, a natural disaster traps her in the cave with limited food and water. Fortunately, she is an intelligent and resourceful woman who made a backup plan even before she stepped out of her own front door.

Enter Jason Chastain—owner and operator of a private security firm—and his friends Aidan Smith and twins Taylor and Joshua Greig. The foursome are also ex-military, so rescuing Kim should be a walk in the park for them. However, her discovery is so top secret she hasn’t even told Chastain and his buddies precisely what their mission is—instead relying on money and intrigue to get them to do the job. It works, until a series of events turn the rescue mission into an escape mission. Throw in a further revelation that will change all of their lives irrevocably and Kim begins to wonder if she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

Should she have left things well alone, or can this colossal mess be turned into something positive? This is about so much more than just five human beings, after all.

PLEASE NOTE: Search and Rescue has a cliffhanger ending.

Buy now, or read in Kindle Unlimited: http://books2read.com/searchandrescue

 

 

Excerpt: Chapter One

Jason Chastain

Jason gripped tightly onto the controls of the rigid inflatable boat—otherwise known as a RIB—as it bounced on the relentless, white-capped waves of the Atlantic Ocean. According to the GPS, they were closing in on their destination. And thank God for GPS; simply looking for their target was futile—it was pitch black, and the remote Scottish island they were headed for was uninhabited, so there were no lights to help guide them. Not even a bloody lighthouse. To make things worse, they didn’t know exactly what—or who—they were going to find when they landed, so they were in stealth mode, meaning no lights on their boat, either. When they got close enough, they’d have to kill the engine, too, so as not to be heard by anyone who might be waiting for them.

He hunched his shoulders against the biting wind which still managed to worm its way in through his layers of technical gear and muttered to himself. Complaining out loud was pointless—the waves and wind would stop the others from being able to hear a word he said, anyway.

Besides, he was really in no position to complain, since it was his fault the four of them were here in the first place.

The job offer had come in via the contact form on his security firm’s website—all mysterious and anonymous, and on the first read he’d almost dismissed it out of hand, his finger hovering over the ‘delete’ button even before he’d read the final line. It was so vague he’d thought it was spam, or someone pissing about—even organisations who wanted to employ him for highly classified missions usually gave more information than that. Not to mention more notice. But something, the merest grain of intrigue, had made him read the message through again and absorb it fully. Despite all the cloak and dagger, it seemed legit.

And when his phone pinged with an alert, prompting him to check his business bank account and find the promised amount just sitting there, all nonchalant-like, the grain of intrigue had turned into the Sahara Desert’s worth. Particularly since the amount in question was just a deposit to help with expenses and getting the mission off the ground. What would have happened if he’d refused the mission? Did he get to keep the money anyway? By this point, that wasn’t really an issue, anyway, since there were a hell of a lot more zeroes at play if he and the three buddies he had in mind to come with him managed to pull this off—a ridiculous sum, even when split four ways and taking costs into consideration.

Whoever the client was, they were extremely important, or insanely rich. Maybe both.

In other words, a good person to get on side. If he played his cards right, this mysterious client could keep him in work for a long time to come—if not personally, then by way of sharing contacts and word of mouth. Either way was good, as far as he was concerned.

Despite the secretive nature of this mission, it would certainly beat some of the two-bit jobs he’d taken on out of necessity in the past few months. Unfortunately, the need to eat and the requirement to pay bills didn’t go away just because the exciting work had dried up.

But this job could be the turning point. The one that launched him from dull bodyguarding of ‘celebrities’—some of those fuckers have been so Z-list that even Google doesn’t know who they are—and protecting sensitive goods to actually making a difference, like he used to do back in the military. Helping people. Taking bad people off the streets.

It could also be the job that launched him into the Atlantic Ocean—not for the first, but possibly for the final time. The RIB lurched violently, and Jason heard the rest of the crew swearing and exclaiming even over the roar of the elements. And these were guys who weren’t afraid of anything. He risked a quick glance over his shoulder and counted three large figures. They were all still there, and for now, that would have to do. There was no time to check in—according to the GPS, the shore was coming up fast, and he’d need all his concentration, skill, and brass fucking balls to land them on the beach in one piece. More importantly, the boat needed to be in one piece, since that was their way out, once they’d secured their target. Without it, they were royally fucked. Unlike in the military, they had no one to call, no backup, no rescue teams.

They were it.

He shook his head, wondering for the umpteenth time who the hell threw so much cash around in order to hire a four-man team to take on a monumental, potentially very dangerous task, knowing perfectly well that if it went tits up, there was no second chance? No clean up team?

The best he’d been able to come up with was: Someone desperate, with a need for secrecy.

So exactly who was desperate, secretive, and filthy rich?

It’s only a matter of time before we find out. If we ever make it onto this bloody beach, that is. He took a deep breath and squinted into the darkness, willing his eyes to pick up something useful. Normally he’d have donned his night-vision goggles, but the rain and the sea spray would splatter constantly onto the lenses, rendering them useless. All he could do was keep flicking his gaze between the GPS and the landscape in front of the boat and hope for the best. He wasn’t a religious man, but he mumbled some random words of prayer to the heavens anyway, just in case. Couldn’t hurt to try, and it certainly wouldn’t make things worse.

Finally, his vision and the gadget seemed to agree the beach was imminent. With another deep breath, Jason killed the engine and mentally crossed his fingers and toes they were close enough that the waves would wash the boat up onto the shore, rather than dragging it back out to sea. He’d researched tide times and planned accordingly, but he knew better than most that things didn’t always go to plan. Especially when it came to Mother Nature. She could be a sadistic bitch at times. But then, given the way the human race treated her, he could hardly blame her for lashing out from time to time.

Thankfully, after what felt like an interminable amount of time, but was actually only a few minutes, the equally terrifying and relief-inducing sound of the boat scraping on to dry land rang out—audible even over the wind and waves. Jason maintained a fierce, knuckle-whitening grip on the controls as the boat lurched, more to keep himself steady and to take out his nervousness on the rigid material beneath his fingers than anything—after all, the steering had lost most of its effectiveness the minute he’d switched off the engine. He’d never admit it to the guys, not in a million years, but his heart was in his mouth. These boats were built to be sturdy, designed to carry out exactly this kind of mission, but it wasn’t impossible that a particularly sharp rock or even something manmade that had been left or washed up onto the beach could puncture it.

He released a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding when the boat came to a surprisingly gentle stop on the sand. He let go of the controls and gingerly relaxed his fingers and hands, then flexed them, wincing a little as the muscles, joints and tendons protested. Immediately, he dropped into a defensive crouch and began readying himself to disembark—they weren’t out of the woods yet. Far from it. For all they knew, there could be a hostile force lying in wait for them.

Once he was ready, he turned to the rest of the team, barely able to make out who was who in the darkness. He shuffled closer to ensure they could hear him. “All right, lads, this is it. Stay alert. We might be on dry land now, but it doesn’t mean we’re safe. I have literally no idea what we could be walking into here, so be prepared for anything. Comms check.”

They ran through the necessary, removed their lifejackets and stashed them in a heavy-duty container, and ensured they had all their gear. That done, Jason took the lead and carefully leapt off the boat, knowing the others would be right behind him. The four of them had always had each other’s backs, and that wasn’t about to change now. Especially not when the stakes were so high.

He dropped back into a crouch immediately after landing on the sand, and paused momentarily to flip his night-vision goggles—usable now they were off the ocean and in a more sheltered spot—into place before setting off to find a route off the beach. He turned his head from side to side, examining his surroundings. It was clear this was no sunbather’s beach, not even in the height of summer—such as it was in this part of the world. He reckoned he’d be more likely to bump into a smuggler here than a sunbather or a swimmer. The sand ran right up to the base of some inhospitable cliffs, craggy and steep.

Shit. I knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I didn’t think we’d fall at the first fucking hurdle. Even smugglers wouldn’t be so daft as to end up here.

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About the Author

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight, and The Heiress’s Harem and The Dreadnoughts series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

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