Monthly Archives: July 2016
Hello Again by Stan Schatt #review
The only problem is after being in a relationship with her for a short while she is murdered and now she is contacting him from behind the grave. Do you believe in ghosts? Is Amber still alive or is someone playing with Bill?
This is a murder mystery with paranormal twists that enthrals the reader. The characters are fantastic and well developed which keeps you interested in them as well as Bill. The plot is a great concept with a murder, contact from behind the grave, a psychic and a stalker. I will say that the use of technology to spy and manipulate people’s lives is genius especially when nearly everyone has a phone, computer and GPS.
I was unable to put the book down from the moment I read the speed dating scene until the end. The quality of writing keeps you reading until the end and combined with a great plot I would happily recommend this book.
Independent Reviewer for Romance Authors that Rock On.
Expert Witness by Nicole Luckourt #review #goddessfish #giveaway
Expert Witness: A Romantic Suspense Novel
by Nicole Luckourt
GENRE: Romantic Suspense
While working as a forensic psychologist, Jordan Clayton has made enemies. Providing expert testimony in court put her in that position. Except, now, someone wants her dead, and the bigger problem is she has no idea who. Fortunately, her colleagues have a solution. Unfortunately, it involves hiring a bodyguard to protect her until the perpetrator is caught. But he is nothing like she expected. Though she feels physically safer in his presence, emotionally, she feels more at risk than ever before.
Chase Armstrong has worked as a protection specialist since he left law enforcement. He makes it a point to not ever mix business with pleasure. In his line of work, the two can be a deadly combination. It’s a rule he never breaks—never even bends. Except, now, his latest assignment is challenging his resolve. Rather than the subtle change in routine he was seeking, protecting her is something else entirely. She has him not only exercising every bit of self-control he possesses, but reconsidering his entire perspective on life as well.
A debut novel of intriguing psychological suspense, forbidden attraction and perseverance.
Jordan dropped her spoon and stared at him in disbelief. “Are you talking about hiring a bodyguard?”
“I think it’s an excellent idea!” Karen exclaimed. “I’d feel so relieved to know that someone who’s trained to deal with this type of thing is with you.”
Jordan’s jaw fell. “You can’t be serious. How on earth could I do my job with some huge, overbearing powerhouse in a suit and sunglasses hanging over my shoulder?”
Mike laughed. “Oh, Jordan, you know as well as I do that the image you described is about as accurate as the ones out there of psychologists. I’ve known this guy for years, and he’s as professional as they come. He’s trained to blend into any type of environment and to stand out only when he needs to. I’m betting his team members are equally as good.” He crossed his arms loosely over his chest. “I’m sure you two could work out the particulars.”
She pinched her forehead around her temples where a dull ache had settled. Nothing about his solution sounded appealing to her, but she tried to approach it delicately. “Honestly, Mike, I didn’t mean to be offensive. But in all seriousness, even if I agreed to the idea, which I’m not, I couldn’t afford that type of protection. I have no idea how much it costs to hire a bodyguard, but I can imagine around-the-clock protection isn’t cheap.”
“I’ll talk to him. I’m sure we can figure something out. Besides, we can always use the money we’ve put aside for the additional marketing costs for the practice. We don’t need it. There’s already over a two-month-long wait to get an appointment as it is. And even if there weren’t, this is your safety we’re talking about here. You can’t even put a value on that.”
This book is about Jordan and Chase. Jordan works for the courts doing evaluations to see if people need guardians, as well as being a forensic psychologist. So she has made enemies, and now someone wants to kill her. So Jordan hires a body guard, Chase Armstrong. Chase immediately realizes there is attraction between them but is determined to keep it profession, he doesn’t want to risk letting his guard down and causing Jordan to get hurt. Will Chase keep Jordan safe till thy catch the guy who wants her dead? Will Jordan and Chase try for romance after the bad guy is no longer in the picture?
This book was really great. The author draws the reader in right away with the danger. The characters are well developed. I would call this story a thriller or suspense story with some romance in it, rather than a romance with some suspense in it. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good thriller, mystery type story.
I’m giving this book 5 fangs.
Reviewer for Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1710039896 – Goodreads- Expert Witness
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Nicole Luckourt currently writes contemporary romance and young adult books. Expert Witness is her debut novel. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two children, and several beloved pets. Her practice in the field of psychology inspires her writing and she is thrilled to be able to combine her two passions.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Nicole Luckourt will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Storm Wrath by Brandy Rivers #others #paranormal
STORM WRATH by Brandy L Rivers
Series: Others of Seattle book 6
Genre: Paranormal Romance
— SYNOPSIS —
A storm is coming to wipe out an ancient vendetta. One look and Kellan Storm was captivated by Zoe. He found his mate, but an ancient curse stands in their way.
After a long and bitter relationship, Zoe Boreas never expected to find love. Kellan swept in like a storm and claimed her heart. Neither of them realize how deep the curse on her people runs.
When she learns the truth, she’ll sacrifice everything to save him while searching for an answer. When Kellan realizes she’s gone, he’ll stop at nothing to find and keep her by his side.
Brandy L Rivers is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her two main series are Others of Edenton and Others of Seattle. She has also written a couple contemporary stories. An avid reader, Brandy has always loved writing. She became serious about it as a stay-at-home-mother. Her secret lair, guarded by a pint-sized pound puppy who imagines himself a hellhound, contains a file full of manuscripts she plans to edit and put out with new creations she is constantly dreaming up. Living in rainy Western Washington with her husband and three kids, Brandy is already working on future stories in each of the series, and several other projects.
Metamorphosis by Stephanie Walls #sale
Series: Siren Song #1
Author: Stephie Walls
Genre: Adult, Romance
Published: September 29, 2014
|Cameron Pierce is an overachiever—CEO of Regional Bank, force to be reckoned with in the Boardroom, and beautiful to boot. At 24, an earth-shattering event set her life goals. But is she fulfilled? Idolized by those around her she’s—kind, forceful, intelligent, driven, and successful. Cam is surrounded by close friends and consumed by her career.
At first glance, Dax Cooper appears to be a playboy—carefree, cocky, arrogant, and devoid of intelligent thought but sexy with a face and a body that drive women crazy. Cameron believes in this façade when he continually manages to walk right past her gatekeeper with constant interruptions. He is everything she doesn’t like in a male. Unlike Cam, Dax has walked away from a talent and a life that had been his passion in exchange for family and friends. Unmotivated by money and a career, he too is embarking on change.
Tragedy strikes Cameron for the second time in her life. Attacked by a stranger, in an instant, her life, her psyche, and the essence of her being appear to be permanently scarred at best. If she survives the physical injuries, will she survive the mental trauma?
Metamorphosis is the story of a woman’s struggle to regain her confidence and repair her shattered life following a random, brutal attack. With the help of the man she had pushed away, she chooses the path that she will follow for the rest of her life. She undergoes a metamorphosis—not by choice but by the will to survive.
***Warning: This material is not suitable for audiences under the age of eighteen years of age due to explicit sexual conduct, including one violent scene, and mature language.
Get ready for the Release of Compass (Siren Song #2) coming August 11th!
Let’s get the word out on Release Day! Support the Compass Thunderclap Campaign today!
|I’ve lived all over the country but have made Greenville, South Carolina my home for the last 20 of my 37 years. I have a serious addiction to anything Coach and would live on Starbucks if I could get away with it. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll also find that I’m slightly enamored with Charlie Hunnam. I’m an avid reader (literary whore to be more precise) averaging around 300 novels a year. I have a penchant for great love stories, sensual poetry and am a romantic at heart.
I currently work full-time in the Greenville area and fill my “extra” time with writing contemporary romance novels with a hint of erotica. I couldn’t do it without the support of my family and friends who push me to keep going when I don’t have the confidence or patience.
The Embodied Trilogy by JB Dutton
sensation was my stomach lurching and spinning. Then I seemed to be plunging
dizzily while simultaneously zooming higher on some kind of impossible
rollercoaster ride. And suddenly I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was
separated from any kind of physical reality, like – oh… oh wow – like I was
totally disembodied. I could sense things but not see them with my eyes. I had…
a sort of mathematical awareness, as though I was plugged directly into the
mainframe of a supercomputer the size of the universe, my mind swimming in pure
information. Geometric shapes twinkled in and out of existence. Lines and
points moved around in constant motion. It felt like a dream made of numbers…
patterns and data combining and separating. Spirals within spirals and symmetries
out. Or at least imagined myself calling out. Ripples in this web of
information undulated in front of me when I said her name. “Mom? It’s me. It’s
Kari.” More complex ripples floated away.
it occurred to me I had no way of getting back home.
hopefully. Oh man – he’d told me how to use the sphere to reach the Dark
Universe but now I was here and totally disembodied, I had no way of
controlling my body to remove the sphere from my forehead.
could worry about this too much, the waves of information started to coalesce
into more recognizable shapes. Pyramids and spheres, but not solid ones. They
seemed to be made of… of symbols and binary code. That was it – they were like living
equations! And then weirdly, in one of the pyramid shapes, I could recognize
Noon. I felt as though I could see his mesmerizing face. Even though it was
data or whatever, it was somehow him. The whole experience was kinda hypnotic.
Was it even really happening? In one respect, I guess none of it was real,
because I was literally seeing outside my universe.
it,” I heard him say.
you? Cilic didn’t kill you?”
Embodied me, but the Mihim brought my diamond pyramid back here.”
super-bizarro. Now it was like the surrounding patterns had gone out of focus
and I could clearly see the pyramid that was Noon’s true form.
something,” he said. “I’m going to recreate a reality you’re familiar with to
make this easier for you.”
crazy churning data kaleidoscope sort of crystalized. I found myself standing
in a towering hall with walls, floor, and ceiling made of what looked like
sheets of sheer diamond. But in the depths of the diamond the same patterns I’d
seen before were refracted in a million colors. It was the most beautiful thing
I’d ever encountered.
the apartment was empty. I dumped my stuff and had a shower. I only realized as
I was drying my hair that the apartment was really empty. Flash wasn’t there.
The hairdryer was his nemesis, and the feud had being going on since he was
traumatized by it as a kitten. But he couldn’t resist confronting it. Whenever
I blow-dried my hair he would freak, hissing and arching his back, fur standing
on end. But not this time.
hairdryer and called his name. Nothing. I made little squeaking noises with my
lips, walking from room to room. Okay, this was bizarre. Where the eff could he
be? There was only one sure-fire way of making him come running. I went into
the kitchen and opened the cupboard where the cat food was stored. I shook the
bag loudly. Silence.
muffled voice coming from… coming from? I bent down to follow the sound. It
was coming from the cupboard.
a medium-sized space, maybe three feet high and 18 inches wide, and as I stuck
my head inside to listen I felt like I was somehow entering another world. It
was a gut feeling. You know, the kind you can’t explain but know you should
trust. Some people call it instinct, but Mom explained to me once that the gut
and the ancient lizard brain are linked. This is the “fight or flight” response
that you feel when you’re threatened. It’s helped us survive over millions of
years of evolution. And it’s rarely wrong.
different in there? What was my subconscious reacting to? The smell. Yes, that
was it – something smelled different in there, and it wasn’t cat food. Now the
muffled voice was louder, more distinctive. And I could tell that there were
actually two voices, a man’s and a woman’s.
further and another part of my gut sent me a second message. The dimensions
were wrong. The cupboard stretched back much further than it should have, back
beyond the kitchen wall.
stood up. I opened the cupboard above it and moved the cereal boxes to one
side. This one was only a couple of feet deep. Looking back into the cat food
cupboard, it was obvious that it went back at least a foot more.
hands on my hips for a moment, trying to process. And where on earth was Flash?
I called his name again and listened. Suddenly the voices stopped. I bent down
and put my head back in the cupboard. There was a stale smell, and… was that
a draft? I reached inside and felt around. The cupboard was so deep it was hard
to see the back clearly. I shuffled inside, resting on my forearms and prodding
the back wall with my fingers. It moved slightly. I pushed harder, and with a
groan it swung open at the bottom. It was hinged somehow at the top, like a
large flap. I opened the flap wider and felt a distinct whoosh of cooler,
damper air hit my face. I peered through the opening but it was pitch black
inside. Then the voices started again, this time much clearer. I still couldn’t
make out what they were saying, but it was definitely a man and a younger woman
open even wider I realized that I could fit through the opening. The other side
of the flap felt like a tunnel or duct the same width and height as the
cupboard. The trouble was, it was too dark in there to explore it. I needed a
if not resourceful. There were always spare batteries in the house when I was a
kid. A first aid kit that nurse-Mom whipped out at the first sign of fever. And
a well-stocked emergency box in an easy-to-reach location.
later I was back in the cupboard, flashlight in hand.
inside on my hands and knees, then pushed the flap open again. I crawled
through it, testing the strength of the surface beneath me as I went. The
tunnel creaked a bit – I guess it was made of wood – but it seemed pretty firm.
I advanced, the tunnel’s blackness stretching out in front of me. The flap
swung shut and the dank air enveloped me.
listened, probing the tunnel with the flashlight. It seemed to go on forever.
“Flash?” I whispered loudly. But all I could hear were the echoey voices. I
carried on crawling forward. They seemed to be getting louder. The young
woman’s higher-pitched voice was easier to make out than the man’s gravelly
heard her say, “…control of it…here, I can get…here…make it…” Just
snatches of sentences. The man said something in reply. When I was crawling,
the noise my jeans made on the wood made it impossible to distinguish
individual words in what the woman was saying. I shone the flashlight ahead of
me. Was that a turn in the tunnel? As I got nearer, I could tell that there was
a junction to the left in the tunnel up ahead.
bend and looked around it, the flashlight beam sweeping the tunnel walls. There
was another long stretch that ended in…? A bend or a drop? “Flash?” I
whispered again and listened. Now both voices were more distinct. They were
definitely coming from further along the tunnel.
them,” said the man.
it,” answered the woman. Then silence.
onward, accompanied only by the swoosh and scrape of my jeans and shoes. Half a
minute later I reached the end of this stretch of tunnel. Now there was a turn
to the right, and a section that went upward. I raised my head to look up this
chute. For a second my brain made a connection. That was it – garbage chutes!
These big old buildings were usually equipped with them. Maybe that was what
this was. But why did the tunnels go sideways? No, it made no sense.
junction, searching for an explanation. Then, before I knew what was happening,
I screamed. Something had dropped from the chute and landed in front of me.
Something alive. I scrambled backward, heart in mouth, the flashlight making
crazy-ass shadows on the tunnel walls.
back at the first turn, but as I tried to crawl around it, one of the belt
loops on my jeans snagged on a nail. I tried to pull it off, frantic. I glanced
back down the tunnel and saw a movement. It was coming toward me. It was…
I stopped struggling, and the loop unhooked from the nail. The cat meowed and
trotted up to me. Laughing in relief, I petted him. “You… you… I love you!”
I said, happy to have found him. And happy that he wasn’t a giant rat. Or
something worse that the depths of my imagination had conjured up in my state
of panic. He purred and snuggled against my nose.
woman’s voice. Distant, but distinct. I strained my ears to hear more but I was
already far from the source of the sound, and Flash’s purring obscured the rest
of the words. But I know I heard it. I know I heard my name.
setting behind the buildings. A big barn with half the roof missing. A grain
silo. A couple of smaller shed-type buildings, one with no door, the other with
the door hanging off its hinges. And a farmhouse. Windows shattered. Front door
gawping at me. I gulped and sent an ILY back to Cruz. He liked those.
strangest feeling. Like a disruption in the atmosphere, but also in my mind.
The air changed somehow, and I heard a rumbling of distant thunder. I could
have sworn that the fading daylight got brighter for a few seconds. The hairs
stood up on the back of my neck. It made me stop moving. Then reality seemed to
snap back to normal. I kept going toward the farmhouse.
had backlit the barn so it was hard to be sure what it was. A horse, I think. A
big, black stallion moving around in the barn.
in the blanks. Probably a horse that had escaped from a neighboring farm and
made a new home for itself here. Okay, cool. No mystery. Maddie must have seen
it and her mind made it fit the legend.
bike down in the grass, careful not to make a sound. I tiptoed toward the barn,
not wanting to startle it. I turned on the flashlight app on my phone. Clouds
were gathering, the light was fading. More distant thunder. I just needed to
find it, take a photo and show Maddie. Her grandfather would know what to do,
how to capture it safely and find its owner.
barn, still creeping quietly. Ew. It certainly smelled like a barn. There was
hay strewn around on the ground. My phone flashlight was practically useless.
It illuminated a patch, like, five feet in front of me. In the dim light, I could
make out a row of stalls on each side and a hayloft up ahead with a ladder
propped against it.
about it, the smell was kinda weird. I grew up around here and although I’d
never spent any time on a farm, I sensed that there was some kind of extra,
non-farm smell here. Hard to identify. But yucky and familiar all the same.
animal noise in one of the stalls on the left? Or just the wind blowing through
the holes in the walls? I crept toward the stall very, very carefully. My hand
holding the phone was shaking. Come on, Kari. Get a grip. The sides of the
stalls weren’t high enough to conceal a horse. Unless it was lying down in the
hay, of course.
stall where I thought I’d heard the noise. I waited a second, held my breath,
then stepped in front of the stall’s open gate. It was empty. And that’s when
the hairs stood up on the back of my neck again. But this time there was
another, all-too-familiar feeling along with it.
feeling I had when Noon was in my head. Yet not exactly the same. This was
unpleasant, even disturbing, and somehow stronger.
In the barn doorway stood the black stallion. Protruding from its forehead was
a long, tapered horn. It really was a unicorn. It raised its head and my mind
felt like a heavy blanket had been draped over it. It eyed me purposefully. My
irrational fear as a little girl came flooding back, multiplied by a million. I
almost peed my pants. Was this a bad dream? Maybe I would wake up surrounded by
My Little Pony’s in my 8-year-old’s bedroom?
a step forward. The feeling in my head got even stronger and now I could swear
that I heard the name Noon repeating over and over. Not his voice, just his
name. Was the unicorn Embodied? I didn’t get a chance to wonder about this
because now the feeling in my head was becoming worse… painful. I was convinced
that my mind was being probed by this astonishing creature. In the space of a
few seconds, the pain increased and so did the repetition of the name Noon
until it was so excruciating that I felt like screaming. I put my hands to my
temples and opened my mouth. As I was about to close my eyes, I saw the unicorn
start to charge toward me.
pain, I managed to fling myself to one side and into the empty stall just
before it reached me. It galloped past and I heard it stop. My head was still
throbbing. I staggered to my feet, one fist still pressed to my temple. Maybe I
could make a break for it.
appeared in front of me, blocking the stall entrance. I was totally trapped. I
looked around in desperation. A broken wooden handle was poking out from a pile
of hay in one corner. I grabbed it and pulled out a pitchfork. The unicorn
advanced into the stall, its head lowered so that its horn was aimed directly
at my head. The pain coursed through my brain like a river of electricity.
pitchfork at the unicorn’s head. I missed, but it backed up, startled. I swung
again. It made a snuffling sound and stepped back further.
cocked its head to one side like it was listening to me. The pain in my brain
and shouted the same thing.
itself up to its full height and then something even more incredible happened.
It raised its tail. But this was no stallion’s tail. It was like a huge peacock
tail, shimmering with shades of black, gray, and silver. The tail fanned out,
probably ten feet wide, and despite the pain in my head, I lowered the
pitchfork, just standing there in awe. What was this being? It seemed to
possess incredible power and at the same time be unimaginably beautiful. In
fact, it was all the more terrifying because it was so beautiful.
at the hatch. Nothing happened. Whether it was the water pressure or some
safety mechanism I don’t know, but she stopped trying and went back to the
control panel. The sub reversed. I looked through the transparent bottom and
saw Noon’s pyramid coming back into view. As soon as it was directly beneath
us, she climbed onto her chair and aimed the gun at the globe-shaped acrylic
window. With a surge of terror, I realized what she was about to do.
screamed as she fired. I was kneeling on the floor of the cabin beside
Mangold’s body. I automatically shielded my face. The bullet ricocheted. The
dome had cracked instead of shattering. She shot twice more, not even flinching
from the flying bullets. The crack spread. Water started to spray in. I reached
up to try to stop her, but she held me off with one hand while she fired again
with the other.
bulged inward. Then it burst. Water poured in and I screamed again, clawing at
her uselessly as she pulled away enough acrylic to make an opening big enough
to swim through. The water gushed like a torrent. She got hold of the sides of
the hole she’d made and somehow managed to pulled herself out. The sub listed
to one side and my reality shifted. Everything felt like a dream. I was in a
reversed fishbowl. The air was inside and the water was outside, with Aranara
swimming in it, downward toward Noon’s pyramid on the riverbed. The water was
already up to my knees. There was nothing I could do. This was where I was
going to die.
thing! I had shut Noon out. Maybe he could do something. I closed my eyes and
calmed myself as best I could. “Tell Aranara to help me. I’m going to drown.”
The water was up to my waist now. Spray. Smell. Sickening fear. I looked down
but now it was impossible to see where Aranara was underneath the sub because
of the river water rushing into the cabin. Did she already have the pyramid?
Was she blocking Noon’s communication with me somehow? The water reached my
chest. The dreamlike state disappeared. New panic set in. There was only one
chance. Once no more water was flowing into the opening that Aranara had made,
I could try swimming out through it. But we were seventy feet below the
surface. Could I hold my breath long enough? I saw something move at my feet
and looked down. I let out a huge scream as Mangold’s head floated up next to
mine. Oh god, oh god. The water was up to my neck. I stood on the chair. My
head was touching the top of the dome. The water was now level with the
opening. I had to fill my lungs with as much oxygen as I possibly could from
the few inches that were trapped at the top of the cabin. I breathed deeply.
One, two, three deep breaths. The water lapped at my chin. Four. I held my
chair toward the opening. It was barely wide enough. But before I could reach
it, the submarine pitched downward. The hatch hit me in the back. The opening
was further away than before, below me now. I swam toward it. The acrylic was
at least an inch thick. I caught hold of the edge of the opening with one hand
and pulled myself forward. As my head went through, the submarine lurched to
one side. A searing pain in my cheek. I held on tight. Now I could use both
hands to pull myself through. Then I was out. My lungs were already starting to
hurt. Daylight was so far away up above. Suddenly an arm circled my waist. It
was Aranara. She didn’t even look at me, just kicked with both legs, pulling me
away from the listing sub. I felt myself getting dizzy as we rose faster than a
normal person would be able to. The pressure was enormous. The air was forced
out of my lungs. I passed out.
Gates of Submission by Nikki Dicaro
Gates of Submission
Genre: LGBT Fiction
Publisher: Can’t Put It Down Books
Date of Publication: July 28, 2016
Number of pages: 315
Word Count: 103,216
Cover Artist: Genevieve Lavo Cosdon
Russell has lost everything; his wife Mandy, his children and his suburban mini-mansion. Left with only the tatters of a once successful life, he discovers the courage to venture beyond the boundaries of conventionality. Stripping off his male exterior, Allison makes her debut, bringing a ray of hope that life might offer more than pain and confusion. His boss, Sylvia, a dominant and beautiful sexual powerhouse, has other ideas after discovering his deepest secret. As Sylvia’s hold on Russell tightens he is torn between shame and desire. Can he break free from Sylvia’s grasp? Will he choose to be: Russell or Allison?
DIVORCE. THE WORD RATTLED around in his brain like a steel ball in an old-fashioned pinball machine. The papers had arrived at his office that morning by courier; he was officially divorced. Russell Radcliffe pulled his cherry-red Mercedes Benz convertible into the garage of his modest rancher and slid the transmission lever into park. Stung by the events of the day, he sat quietly, struggling with the dramatic change in his lifestyle. The five thousand square foot McMansion, the pool with elaborate cabana complete with wet bar and massage table, the Mercedes and the Range Rover, the country club membership, the well-earned upscale lifestyle—gone. The dream life with his children and the woman he promised to love for better or for worse were now a memory.
When days were rosy and nights sultry, the couple fell for the trappings of opulence. To support their lifestyle Russell and his wife mortgaged themselves right to the edge, not close enough that a fall from grace was eminent, but close enough that Russell could feel the spray from the waves pounding on the financial rocks below. The last brick in the wall crumbled; the mansion—her dream home—had a for sale sign with a picture of a 40-something big-haired, big nailed, real estate goddess in the front yard. The real estate market had softened putting a large portion of their nest egg in harm’s way. His wife got to remain in the house with the two teenagers, forcing him to relocate. She wanted everything before she would cede his car to him. He wanted that car; he needed that car. He equated the car with his identity even more than the house.
Russell replayed those last days of their marriage. In one fell swoop, Mandy revealed she was having an affair and had the divorce papers served to his office the next day. Not only was he not getting any, an interloper had been planting in his garden. He told Mandy that he was willing to forgive her, that she would regret leaving him, that she couldn’t stand on her own two feet.
“Come to your senses Mandy. Quit this foolishness and think it through.”
She had laughed. “Do you think I haven’t thought this through? Do you think I’m doing this because I want to get your attention?”
“I don’t understand why you’re doing this to me. I just want you to stop. Adultery is against the law.” His voice was strained; he wanted desperately to get through to her. His wife stood arms akimbo, her long sleek legs ran from her blue skirt, through nude pantyhose, and slid perfectly into navy blue patent leather pumps. She was attractive, even after two hard pregnancies. Her auburn hair wafted in sultry waves across her soft shoulders ending elegantly just short of the middle of her back. Large hazel eyes were framed by high cheekbones, thin nose and highly sculptured eyebrows. Her complexion hinted at regular trips to the tanning salon.
“When you started wearing my clothes I knew it was over. You were the one who turned our marriage into a farce, not me. ” Her tone was accusatory. “And don’t think threats will work with me, kiddo. I can ruin you if you put me in that position.” Her gaze was cold steel.
Russell looked her over; he would have begged her to stay if his pride wasn’t so strong. He loved her; she was his female role model; everything he wanted to be in a woman he saw in his wife. But he couldn’t condone her desire to find pleasure in another’s bed. Looking away he calculated his options; they were bleak. Losing his job wasn’t an option. He had worked long and hard to parlay the master’s degree in finance into a high profile position with an investment banking firm. He figured he would be summarily dismissed if his superiors knew he was transgender.
After the divorce he licked his wounds and decided to buy down-market. The shock of a smaller place on a postage stamp lot made him wish he hadn’t been so critical when his wife unceremoniously disclosed her extramarital affair. He lost that struggle and was losing others. He would never give up his femininity even though it had meant losing his wife, who realized she wasn’t the only woman in his life. This had cut her deeply and she had made him bleed.
As he sat in the car with the engine running he considered pressing the activator button to bring the garage door down and seal off the garage. Just one click and he would fade slowly into eternal sleep.
As an independent reviewer for Romance Authors that Rock, I give this four and a half stars, mostly for the authors ability to weave words in a way that mesmerizes you. The details are fantastic in spots and almost overwhelming in others. It was a fantastic read, but not an easy one. It brings a lot of different emotions to play, not just lust and sexuality.
About the Author:
Nikki DiCaro has been writing novels, inspirational essays and poetry for over ten years. Her novels focus on complex characters whose real-life problems touch on the issues of the day—from workplace harassment to divorce to transgender/LGBT issues. Gates of Submission is the first novel in her five-book series, “New Boundaries.” Its spicy plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat.
When not creating fascinating characters and sensual scenes, Nikki writes inspirational essays which she posts regularly on her website, http://www.NikkiDiCaro.com. A proponent of parity, equality, and unconditional acceptance she is a frequent speaker and presenter on gender sensitivity and workplace equality.
Twitter handle: @NikkiOliviaDi1
Destiny’s Chance by Cara Bristol #Review #giveaway #bewitching
Genre: erotic paranormal romance
Publisher: Cara Bristol
Date of Publication: July 25, 2016
Number of pages: 116
Word Count: 31,000
Fate gave her a gift. Is she brave enough to accept it?
Destiny Grable has loved Chance Everett for as long as she could remember, but he was never interested in her until a tragic act of fate grants her heart’s desire.
Chance is all hers—body, mind, and soul. But once they’re together, she discovers he has a kinky side she never knew about. Is she ready for it? Can she handle it?
And Chance isn’t the only one with a secret. If he discovers what Destiny is hiding, will he still want her?
Destiny expelled her breath in a heavy sigh and reached for the phone to try her parents one more time.
What the hell? She’d been too wrought by news of Zoe’s death to pay attention to much else, but now she noticed her arm looked…weird. Her wrist seemed thinner, her skin paler, the hair so fine it appeared almost nonexistent. And when had she gotten acrylic nails?
Her pulse rate doubled. The arm, the hand, the silver infinity ring on the index finger weren’t hers, but she recognized them. She fixated on the ID bracelet encircling the skinny wrist. RICHARDS, ZOE. And her friend’s date of birth.
They got the bodies mixed up. Gave you the wrong wristband.
But they couldn’t have switched arms. She flipped her hands over.
Destiny ripped back the covers and swore in frustration when the bed rail fought her frantic efforts to lower it. She forced it down, but her hospital gown caught in the metal. She tore it loose and scrambled for the bathroom.
Bruised and battered, Zoe stared at her from the mirror over the sink.
A nightmare. Wake up! Wake up! “No! No!” Slapping her face, Destiny searched for her plump cheeks, her ski-jump schnoz, and the mocha-brown eyes she considered one of her best features. The image mimicked her movements but presented high cheekbones loved by the camera, a perfect nose, and large blue eyes gone feral.
She yanked up her hospital gown. Where were her hips? Her boobs! She stared at her flat chest. She dropped the gown and screamed.
I give this book 4 hearts
This book caught me off guard and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it.
Destiny wakes up from a horrific car crash but something isn’t quite right. Not just the fact that her friend died but the little problem that she somehow managed to switch bodies with her friend.
Destiny is trapped in Zoe’s body and living with Zoe’s ex boyfriend that destiny always had a thing for.
Everything is confusing, but she keeps trying to drop little hints hoping Chance ( the boyfriend ) will
Somehow notice. Living in someone else’s body can be a really tricky experience particularly when you’re falling in love with someone that thinks you’re someone else.
Throw in Chance’s spanking kink and Destiny’s hidden desire to try it out and you have a hot, sexy body mixing romance with a HEA.
Not a long read at only 90 pages but it’s seriously sexy and a fun, sweet read not something you find everyday.
*** reviewer for romance authors that rock
About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Cara Bristol has published more than twenty-five erotic romance titles, including contemporary, paranormal, and science fiction romance. No matter what the subgenre, one thing remains constant: her emphasis on character-driven seriously hot erotic stories with sizzling chemistry between the hero and heroine. Cara has lived many places in the United States, but currently lives in Missouri with her husband. She has two grown stepkids. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading and traveling.
$15 Amazon gift card.
Highland Yearning by Dawn Ireland #review #giveaway #bewitching
The Mackay Saga
Genre: Highland Time Travel (set in 1775)
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: July 20th
Number of pages: 167
Word Count: 70,000
Cover Artist: Fiona
Caden Mackay would never bed a Sutherland, let alone marry one. Bloody hell, what had possessed his twin brother to propose to one of the she-devils? And what is Caden to do with the Sutherland beauty who appears, as if by magic, in his library? The defiant intruder is the enemy, but she is unlike any woman Caden’s ever known, and her tantalizing curves and wide green eyes could tempt a monk. He must devise a way to stop the wedding. But can he stop the desire that makes him long to make Ariel Sutherland his own?
Ariel’s life had never gone the way she’d hoped, but ending up in eighteenth century Scotland was a stretch, even for her. If not for her dog, Scruffy, she might have thought she’d walked into a romantic daydream. Especially since the object of her desire appears to be entirely too virile. But can she find her way back to her time, before her too-handsome Highlander makes her believe that love can conquer in any century?
Caden turned to his cousin. “We’ll search the windows above. By now the coward has fled, but we may yet find something to unmask our would-be assassin. Then we’ll attend to your urgent matter.”
He drew Ariel aside far enough that Ian couldn’t hear them. His expression screamed, I’d rather fight a dozen well-armed warriors than be in debt to a Sutherland. “Thank you for . . .” He simply stared at her.
“Saving your life?” She waited. Nothing. “Kissing you?” She raised her eyebrows. “Just trying to fill in the blank here.”
He blanched, but then heat filled his eyes. “Aye.”
“Well, one of us had to take the bull by the horns.” Okay, best not to dwell on that image. “I mean, I was curious. I wanted to kiss you. No big deal. It was just a kiss.”
“Will you stop agreeing with me.”
His smile was genuine and she felt it to the tips of her toes. Good heavens, the man had charisma.
“I’ve nae had a woman who wanted me to disagree with her.”
“Well, I’m not like most women.” That was true enough. She’d never done the ‘let’s talk about boys, clothes and makeup thing’ with a group of girls. Somehow, she’d never fit in.
He smiled down at her. “Aye.”
“There you go, agreeing again.”
“Perhaps it’s because you make yourself so agreeable.”
She couldn’t contain the laughter that burst from her lips. “Really?” The word came out between gasps. “Oh, I wish you could have been there to tell my teachers. Not that they’d believe you. They thought I questioned everything.”
“Then they didnae ken you.” His brows drew together. “I believe the stone was meant for me, but just in case, I want you to take care.
Her laughter died. “Why would anyone want to kill me?”
“Have you offended anyone aside from Ranald, the Countess or Robertson since I met you?”
“I don’t-So, I speak my mind. Is there a law against that in this century?”
“No. And I prefer plain speaking, but I’m nae most men.”
“No, you’re not.”
What could be more perfect than a Highland Clan leader and a modern descendant of their most hated enemies? The two are attracted to each other but can’t breach the chasm of their births.
A lovable heroine, a handsome clansman, a haughty child-countess and a rascally little terrier make for excitement and plenty of tension. As an independent reviewer for Romance Authors that Rock, I give this one 4.5 hearts. I just wanted it to be longer!!!
Not available on Amazon yet
About the Author
“Once Upon a Time” are four of Dawn’s favorite words, because she never knows where they will lead. She writes stories to remind herself that even though things may seem bleak, there is always the possibility of a “Happily Ever After.” If along the way she makes readers smile, cry or see the magic in their everyday lives, then she’s done her job.
Dawn’s written several award-winning novels set in Georgian England and the Highlands – an era filled with rules and intrigue. Her characters often defy “Society” as they pursue love, run away, pursue, run away – well, you get the idea.
Then again, she might write romance in order to do the research. What other profession encourages you to sit in the audience at Harlequin’s Male Model search, and take notes, or just sigh?
When she’s not writing, Dawn may be found singing, gardening, learning to play the harp or wood carving. She lives in a Victorian home in Upstate New York with her husband and very independent cats.
Dawn hopes you’ll read her books, and together you’ll bring to life characters that aren’t perfect, but have a story to tell.
5 ebooks- winners may choose from Highland Sons, Love’s Guardian or The Perfect Duke.
Rescue Flight and Fire Storm by Carl A. Sparks
Title: Rescue Flight
Author: Carl A. Sparks
Genre: Adult, Suspense Thriller
Published: April 5, 2013
|A GRIPPING STORY OF DESPERATION AND INTRIGUE
Carley Downs has been mistakenly abducted by the Guatemalan drug cartel. Not realizing they have the first daughter to the United States in their possession, the cartel contemplates the fate of Carley and her friends.
Matthew McWain, former U.S. Marine Corps Force Recon, a highly decorated pilot and expert on “snatch and grab” operations, has been requested to conduct a rescue operation to fly Carley out of Guatemala. Matthew quickly discovers time is running out before the cartel delivers Carley into the hands of a notoriously brutal Iranian terrorist who will certainly recognize her. Matthew knows he has to locate the president’s daughter before the exchange is made. If not, he will be in for the fight of his life preventing the Iranian madman from taking Carley out of the country!
“This author has got something going! I love high adventure books, and this one was great. Thumbs up Mr. Sparks. Keep them coming!!” ~ Amazon Customer – 5 stars
“A smart film agent would be busy putting this author and his book under contact! Truly believe the author has just introduced his readers to the next all-American heroes. Certainly I am looking forward to the sequel and I WILL buy a hardback copy.” ~ Amazon Customer – 5 stars
“Never a dull moment, no story-stalling ‘relationship’ sidebars, just the constant nail-biting action of our unlikely team of heroes. “ ~ Amazon Customer – 5 stars
Rescue Flight Prologue © Carl A. Sparks 2013
30 Miles North of Cobán
Carley Downs seldom had doubts about her decisions. But now as she sat along the dusty roadside, wiping sweat and grime from the back of her neck and running the soaked bandana through her tangled hair, the thought ever so briefly crossed her mind. She had taken refuge in the shade but the scorching mid-morning sun peeking through the trees merely added to the oppressive humidity. If there was anything good to be said about their current predicament it would be the absence of that damp fetid smell and fewer insects since they’d begun climbing up the winding road from the jungle floor.
“Why did I ever let you talk me into coming down to this gosh awful place?” Carley asked her female companion sitting beside her. The two shared a large flat rock a good 40 feet down the road from their broken down vehicle. There was a large outcropping of boulders along this stretch of road that seemed to keep the indigenous oak and cedar trees from growing no larger than the live oaks back home in northern Arizona. Carley grew up on a ranch where she spent far more time climbing trees and doing tom-boy stuff than being a little girl, grease up to her elbows from keeping her grandpa’s antique tractor running, helping her mom mucking out the stables or brushing one of the horses. Always being a little gutsy probably led her to this day.
“Yeah, right,” Jordan Scott answered with a glimmer of a smile in her eyes, “as if anyone ever talked Carley Downs into anything.”
“Well, you could have tried a little harder,” Carley laughed, reaching down for a stick to draw squiggles in the powdery dirt. Just as quickly growing impatient, she threw the stick over the far side of the road where it dropped a couple hundred feet down the steep bank. She let out a big sigh. It was far too quiet, too desolate on this hot dusty road. She was angry at herself for letting the missionary guys talk her into taking the back roads loaded with ruts like her grandma’s old washboard instead of the paved highway. Carley had an equal say as to which routes they would take, but they’d convinced her this shortcut would save many miles and cut the driving time by an hour. Obviously that wasn’t working.
“How long does it take to change a stinking tire, anyway?” Carley asked, resting her elbows on her knees and staring up the road where their three male companions fussed over the vehicle in the hot sun.
“Too darn long, considering it’s the third flat and only two spares.” Jordan tried to put a good spin on it, but failed miserably.
It was a beat up 1974 Land Cruiser, two-tone gray with rusty dents in both front fenders and a hole in the muffler that made it sound like a Sherman tank while smoking up the interior so that even with all the windows down it was pretty obnoxious. The vehicle had seen better days and was now a major source of irritation for the entire team. The 4X4 had somehow taken them north to the Petén region near San Benito, and nearly every Mayan village and wide spot in the road in between over the past several weeks. They were now on the way back to their base of operations in Cobán to resupply and for a little down-time before heading out again. So far on this trip they had two blown radiator hoses, a water pump and now the third flat tire. If Carley didn’t know better, she’d assume her dad was somehow behind all the bad luck.
That thought amused her, and she smiled as she remembered the agitated furl of his brow when he’d finally learned she had taken this assignment. Very much like the look he’d given her when she had first informed him she was joining the Peace Corps. She’d always been his little “free spirit” so he knew better than to try talking her out of it then, but telling him about this assignment would have been an entirely different story and she knew better than to give him an advanced warning. Her daddy succeeded at everything he did, from ranching to business to politics, and, by golly, she was of the same stubborn stock as he. Her decision to become a medical doctor had been a great source of pride for her dad, but he had been mildly disappointed by her insistence to transfer from his old alma mater at Arizona State University to complete her medical schooling at UCLA. But her insistence on doing some of her resident work in the Peace Corps was the last thing her father expected. No one saw that coming. Why couldn’t she be a little more stable and predictable like her older brother? Was his first response.
The assignment was a one-year contract promising nearly a full range of medical cases she could handle – and plenty of them. It sounded a lot more adventurous than cooped up in some hospital. Besides, nowhere in the States could Carley get this kind of experience as quickly. If it worked out as she figured, she just might stay with the Peace Corps. Wouldn’t that pretty well send the famous Harlan Downs into apoplexy?
Jordan Scott was the second half of the medical team and had proven to be a capable assistant to Carley. Even though she’d not had formal nurse training, the limited emergency medical training she’d received seemed sufficient enough for her to pass as a doctor’s assistant, especially to the eyes of an untrained observer. The two women hadn’t started out as close friends, but after being close companions for the two years that Jordan had been part of the protection detail for Carley their fondness for one another had grown out of mutual respect.
The two were alike in some ways, yet a complete contrast. Anyone who knew the family said the 28 year old Carley Downs was a dead ringer for her paternal grandmother, a petite full-blooded Navajo; a very stunning woman whose Indian name was Doli, which meant “Bluebird” in Navajo. Carley had the same smooth bronze skin, delicate features, prominent cheekbones and a slight aquiline nose. Her distinguishing feature however, was striking pale blue eyes like the color of ice water, yet filled with warmth and compassion; eyes produced by genes so strong it reached back through generations of Grandma Downs’ ancestors. Her shoulder length raven black hair was shorter than Grandma Downs and Carley preferred to wear it in a ponytail, just as Grandma Doli did when she didn’t have it braided into pigtails.
Jordan Scott, a few inches taller at 5 feet 8 inches and a few years older, wore her auburn hair short, her hazel eyes had dozens of tiny gold specks that seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. Both women were slender and athletic, serious outdoor people.
The three men rounding out the five-person Peace Corps team were Christian missionaries, non-denominational except for Carley’s favorite, a huge man named Paul Moore. Moore was a strong Southern Baptist from Sedalia, Missouri. His personality set him apart from the others, serious when the situation dictated, humorous in the face of adversity, and always with a positive outlook. Even now with everyone drenched in sweat, complaining of the ever-present heat and humidity, only Paul Moore could make jokes about how the stench of their combined body odor had managed to kill every living creature in a five-mile radius. It was hard for Carley to picture Moore as a missionary, yet she had seen him in action, showing such great compassion as he taught the word of God among the poor villagers, or holding a screaming mother in his massive arms, comforting her while Carley fought so hard to keep the woman’s child from dying. The man was an incredible tower of strength, both physically and emotionally.
Carley observed him now, his shirt off, sweat streaking down his powerful shoulders and chest, muscles bulging as he lifted one end of the Land Cruiser completely off the ground while the other two guys wedged the jack under the rear axle. She could easily visualize him on the gridiron where he had reportedly made a pretty decent living in the NFL as a defensive end till a blown knee took him out of the game. The athletes she knew would have complained bitterly and probably blame everyone for their ended career, but Moore had told her in a gentle voice, his soft brown eyes watering, that it was merely God’s way of telling him he’d been denying his Savior’s calling far too long.
The group had accomplished some amazing things over the past weeks and Carley was more than satisfied. In her opinion each member of the team complimented the other in their respective tasks; with the added bonus of it being a pretty fun group to be with.
Carley turned to face Jordan and was suddenly startled, causing her to grab Jordan’s arm. Above them, crouched on top of the rocks not ten feet away sat one of the locals. Her breath caught in her chest, eyes riveted upon the man. The imagine Carley had was someone right out of Francisco “Poncho” Villa days, with the bandolier across his barrel chest and unruly tufts of black and gray hair poking out from under his wide hat. He was wearing green camo fatigues and had a large belly hanging over his belt; his beard was stained with tobacco juice.
Carley’s sudden fright caused Jordan to jerk around, and the very first thing Jordan noticed was the AK-47 assault rifle in the man’s hands, the muzzle pointing up in the air with the stock resting on one leg, his finger was on the trigger. They’d been warned about banditos who sometimes frequented the back roads for easy prey, but there was something far too confident and sinister in his stare to identify him as a bandit.
“Hey, señoritas, I theenk maybe the sun be too hot for your pretty soft skin, eh?” His English was broken and heavily accented and the yellow, tobacco-stained teeth, several missing in the front, added to his menacing appearance. The men working on the Land Cruiser quickly turned with a look of shock and concern on their faces.
“Who are you and what do you want?” Jordan demanded, feeling Carley’s grip tighten on her arm, her nails digging in.
“Its okay Carley just stay calm,” Jordan said in a low voice. I’ve got to take control of this situation.
At first it appeared the man was alone, but suddenly another appeared at his side. This one was dressed nearly the same but was much younger and even more menacing with a maniacal glare to his dark eyes. Jordan glanced back at their vehicle where she’d left her shoulder bag. She could see the green quilted bag on the rear seat through the open door and was thinking of a way to get to it, just as a third man appeared from around the front of the Land Cruiser. Both of the newcomers had AK-47’s like the first, aimed directly at the missionaries.
The appearance of his two cohorts caused Toothless to throw his head back and roar with laughter. He spit a load of tobacco juice right at Jordan, part of the wad spilling onto his scraggly beard, and said, “That’s right, pretty señorita, I theenk it is good idea if everyone do exactly as I say and no one will geet hurt.” His voice laced with contempt, his smile turned into a sneer.
“So what is it you want from us?” Jordan asked again. “We have no money with us. We are headed back to Cobán because our supplies are nearly gone…”
“Jordan, I’ll take care of this,” Paul Moore said. He took a step forward before being gruffly motioned back by the man standing next to Toothless.
“I talk to ze pretty señorita, señor, so pleeze do not interrupt again,” Toothless said. He then turned back to Jordan, “We are not interested in your money, pretty señorita.”
“Okay, then, what is it you want from us?”
“You, pretty señorita! I theenk maybe I take all of you with me,” Toothless’s grin went ear to ear before breaking out in roaring laughter.
“That’s not gonna happen, mister…” Paul Moore took two steps forward, his fists clinched, and the man next to toothless opened fire. A three-shot burst from the automatic rifle sent the missionary flying backward onto the ground; he lay motionless, the dry earth turned red with blood.
Carley jumped from the sudden gunshots and screamed, clutching Jordan’s arm to her as she began to whimper. The other two missionaries stood still, shocked, their eyes darting back and forth to their friend lying in a growing pool of his own blood, then to Toothless and the insane man who had shot their brother in Christ.
“WHY DID YOU DO THAT?” Jordan screamed. “This is a man of God! He meant you no harm!” Jordan would give anything if she could get closer to the bandit leader, better still if she could get to her bag. She touched the sat phone on her waist.
Old Toothless saw Jordan’s movement and immediately reached out and snatched the phone from her belt. He said with a mean scowl on his face, “Now if everyone do as I say maybe that won’t happen again.” He softened into his big grin and added, “Now, everyone, we be on our way!”
Carley recovered from her initial shock, jumped up and bounded toward the bleeding missionary.
“Stop!” Toothless growled
“GO TO HELL! You barbaric worthless pile of dog crap! This man needs help,” Carley yelled over her shoulder, taking two more steps before another three-round burst blasted into the sky. Carley froze in her tracks.
“I tell you to stop, pretty señorita. The next shot will not go in air. Now back up or else.” Toothless leveled his assault rifle at Carley’s midsection.
Carley remained frozen, defiant, glaring at the bandit.
“Carley, come here,” said Jordan. Her voice was soft but filled with authority, convincing Carley to move back to Jordan’s side. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
Jordan glanced again at her bag in the SUV, but she saw the man behind the missionaries collecting their personal things. What will happen when they discover a nurse carrying a .40 caliber Glock 23 pistol? She trembled with the thought.
Within the hour the United Sates Secret Service was buzzing over an undetermined threat to Caduceus.
Title: Operation Firestorm
Author: Carl A. Sparks
Genre: Adult, Suspense Thriller
Published: January 16, 2016
A CHILLING STORY OF TERROR AND DESPERATION
America is under attack! The horrifying fear of Islamic terrorists invading the United States has come to reality.
Former U.S. Marine Recon aviator Matthew McWain Matt must locate Ahmad Hassam’s secret headquarters before the master terrorist turns his trained warriors and suicide bombers loose on American civilians in a diabolical plan of brutal attacks.
It’s a race against time when Matt discovers the attacks are only a diversion. The real threat behind Operation Firestorm is a catastrophic plot that will devastate the nation.
Matthew is torn between duty and allegiance to his family when he learns Hassam has a very personal agenda.
“The characters are strong – well developed. It is easy to feel comfortable and at ease with old friends. Operation Firestorm will grip you and keep you reading.” ~ Amazon Customer – 5 stars
“So glad I found this book’s author. Operation Firestorm is a Class A book.” ~ Amazon Customer – 5 stars
“Absolutely a non stop riveting action book. Was absolutely fantastic in the twist and turns in the action making you wonder what was going to happen next. I cannot wait till the next one comes out.” ~ Amazon Customer – 5 stars
Operation Firestorm Prologue © Carl A. Sparks 2016
Juan Alvarez nervously checked his watch for the third time in the past few minutes. He tried not to be too obvious so JD, the rookie officer he had requested today, would not take notice.
Two minutes, fifteen seconds …
Alvarez was a wreck. He was only thirty-eight, but the lines etched in his face made him look ten years older. His once glossy black hair was dull and hints of gray lined his temples. He was at least thirty pounds overweight and developing a noticeable paunch around the midsection. His olive complexion had an almost gray pallor. Alvarez promised himself that if he lived through this ordeal, he would start eating right and working out again.
He was sweating beneath his winter uniform and he prayed to Allah that the perspiration would not show on his face. That would be a dead give-away of his nervousness. He looked up and caught his subordinate watching him. He smiled and then glanced again at his watch again.
One minute, forty-five seconds …
Alvarez glanced across the marble floor in time to see another tour come through the large glass doors from the Capitol Visitors Center east entrance. The group would funnel through the security lane staffed by Alvarez and JD and pass by the metal detector before placing briefcases and other carry-in items onto the X-Ray conveyor. Alvarez managed to turn the alarm function to the security system off without JD noticing.
This was going to work out great, he hoped! Alvarez pushed back his rising anxiety, offered a smile to the approaching tour group, and began delivering the required greeting that visitors to the U.S. Capitol expected from the Capitol Police.
The noise behind him was right on schedule and Alvarez smiled to himself. The raucous teenagers coming down the cordoned section next to the east wall created the perfect distraction, which caused JD to focus on those coming into the Capitol, not those exiting the building, all according to plan. As the large school group spilled out of the rotunda into the Visitors Center and on to the line of yellow buses waiting alongside the curb at the east entrance, JD failed to notice several of the departing visitors were a lot less bulky under their down-filled coats than when they entered the Capitol two hours before.
Not all in the noisy group were high school students. The field trip had been
infiltrated as they entered the Visitors Center by seven young men who could easily pass
as teenagers. With their dark hair color and skin and learned mannerisms, they also
passed for Hispanics, like Alvarez had been doing for a really long time.
It would be very unlikely that Juan Alvarez would have become a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police should anyone have discovered his real name, Rahimi Musa. Even more unlikely would he have been promoted to the rank of sergeant, in charge of south wing security for the Capitol, and setting the day-shift staffing schedule.
Alvarez had purposely scheduled the rookie, JD, to be on the entrance security checkpoint with him today. He also purposely scheduled Adolofo Mena, aka Saeed Jalil, to the security checkpoint on the second floor, south wing, at the House Chamber gallery.
No one had a clue that Alvarez and Mena were sleeper agents.
As Alvarez watched the young men leave, he noted how well they intermingled with the large group of students, ignoring his scrutiny as they were trained to do. Alvarez allowed himself another smile and let his nervous jitters melt away.
Today was dress rehearsal. Alvarez and Mena would collect the left-behind items when they went on break. But in two weeks it would be for real. They would have no need to retrieve the left-behind items. In two weeks only four of the young terrorists would be leaving with the school group, instead of all seven.
Mall of America
One of the largest indoor shopping malls in the United States is the Mall of America,
located in Bloomington, Minnesota. The shopping mega-giant is visited by nearly 40
million shoppers annually and contains over 4 million square feet of retail space on 4 floors; plus an incredible 7-acre amusement park on the bottom floor known as Nickelodeon Universe, a 300 foot curved tube known as the Sea Life Aquarium, and a themed food court. The second floor was principally noted for hundreds of shops of every variety, while the third and fourth floors boasted several more large food courts, a number of elegant restaurants for fine dining, and a few nightclubs for dancing and informal activities.
The place was virtually a city within a city.
It was also a target.
Mustafa Kalil set the timer on his stop watch as he entered through the main door at a brisk pace. Close on his heels were four more team members, all carrying backpacks, all laughing and cutting up. To the aging security guard standing near the railing inside the main lobby they were just another group of young hooligans playing grab-ass and acting stupid.
Without being too obvious, Kalil sized up the guard. He knew there were approximately thirty-five guards in and around the mall this time of day, employees of the private security company contracted by the mall. Each guard was armed with a Glock handgun, taser, mace, radio and handcuffs. Undoubtedly, a few would consider themselves to be super cops and carried a second gun strapped to an ankle. Earlier visits confirmed the guards were neither extra vigilant nor overly suspicious. They were obviously instructed to smile a lot and be helpful ambassadors to mall visitors. Dealing with shoplifting pretty much summed up their police powers. As far as Kalil knew, none
wore protective body armor. That might pay huge dividends on the next visit.
Kalil and his group headed straight for the escalators, laughing and pointing
excitedly as they descended to the lower level. Once there, they split up, each proceeding to his designated location within the amusement park complex and, of course, a predetermined place to deposit their backpacks for maximum affect.
Today the backpacks were filled only with books and each man would carry his pack out as he left the premises. When they return the backpacks would be extremely lethal, and would be left behind as the men departed individually by a different escalator.
Kalil knew his team was not alone. They had discussed and rehearsed the operation with two other groups, over and over again, pouring through volumes of building plans and blueprints. A total of fifteen terrorists were inside the Mall of America at that precise moment. The other groups entered using separate side entrances and had their own specific level within the gigantic structure in which to leave their deadly cargo. And just like Kalil and his team, they too were part of today’s dress rehearsal.
The operation went smoothly, efficiently, and exactly as Kalil and the other team leaders had been told it would. In precisely 17 minutes, he saw the last member of his team exit the main entrance and dash toward the parking lot. Kalil smiled as he pressed the button on his stopwatch and his cell phone vibrated. Each team was reporting in.
They would celebrate tonight. In two weeks they would return for the live
Local entertainers and business leaders branded it America as it should be! Branson, Missouri, the heartland of America. The live music capital of the United States; located, most assuredly, in the heart of the Bible Belt. A vacation Mecca where visitors were assured of wholesome family entertainment and where the name of God and Jesus Christ were spoken reverently and unashamedly. Where the Red, White and, Blue waved proudly as each of the nearly 100 live daily shows celebrated America’s veterans during every performance.
Branson, a town of 10,000 residents and upwards of 60,000 daily visitors, continued to be one of the top ten destinations in America year after year. Seven million visitors annually traveled to the modern marvel located in the rich Ozark Mountains in southwest Missouri to see the diverse and modern entertainment venues. It was a place to totally relax, to be inexorably detached from the pressures of life, and feel completely safe.
The Grand Palace was the largest of the live entertainment theaters with over 4,000 seats. The Palace, located on the main strip known as Country Music Boulevard, was a huge, white colonnaded structure, with a wide, covered veranda. The enormous lobby with twin spiral staircases and exquisite golden chandeliers elicited an initial impression of an old southern plantation, but inside the large auditorium was state-
of-the-art theater technology.
The theater had fallen on hard times some years back and the beautiful chandeliers had remained dark for many seasons. A few attempts had failed to rekindle the grand dame of Branson, but lady luck finally smiled favorably on the great icon. A complete restoration was nearing completion. In two short weeks the theater would come alive with lights and laughter. Harmonious strains of music would drift out to the refurbished lobby where the polished lighted chandeliers would once again welcome guests and visitors.
Work inside the theater was at fever pitch as the grand opening grew closer. Rehearsal for entertainers collided with stage hands hustling to learn set changes. Musicians attempting the first round of sound checks struggled to overcome the cacophony of power saws, pounding hammers, and clamoring construction workers.
High on the catwalks directly above the stage, Antonio Morales finalized the continuity tests on the wiring looms. The thirty-two year-old lighting technician worked alone in the tight space, coordinating his progress via handheld radio with the technical supervisor in the control booth located at the rear of the theater. Little did the supervisor know that Tony Morales’ real name was Hashim Sarhan. He also did not know Morales/Sarhan was stringing an additional set of wires and a series of limit switches to the wiring loom that controlled the cluster of moveable wash lights affixed to a single bar.
During dress rehearsal, scheduled in just two short weeks, Sarhan would once again be on the catwalk. This time he would be installing a separate apparatus to each of
the ten canned LED lights for simultaneous operation.
Sarhan leaned back to admire his handiwork and gazed down at the chaos on the
lighted stage as he fumbled for a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket.
“I’m gonna take my break up here,” he spoke into the walkie-talkie. He had
learned to fake his accent perfectly.
“Okay, but no smoking up there,” the supervisor replied harshly.
“Yeah, right.” The owners were adamant about no smoking inside the theater, but
forty feet up on the catwalk who would be the wiser? He lit up and sucked in a lung full of smoke while picturing ten simultaneous explosions bouncing off the acoustic inner walls of the theater. He could almost hear the horrified screams and wailing. He envisioned the panic and hysteria as people trampled one another while fighting blindly for exits in the darkened, smoke filled theater. The image brought a sinister smile to his lips. He would show them America as it should be!
Sarhan took another drag from the cigarette and reflected on his four roommates. Today they would be acting like tourists while quietly scouting their specific individual target areas. It is best he had not allowed himself to become too close to them. Odds were, they would not survive beyond the first hour of the initial attack.
He stubbed out his cigarette on the metal grating and bent over the wiring loom with one last thought of his companions. No, they were not technically savvy like him. They were foot soldiers. Highly trained, to be sure, very good marksmen, but still just foot soldiers. They would be locked into a pivotal battle at ground zero with maybe a dozen law enforcement agencies breathing down their necks while he would be miles from Branson when the event started.
|Carl A. Sparks is grateful for the privilege of being a career firefighter for 42-years. He is also a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor. Carl lives in Branson, Missouri with his lovely wife, Sue. They have a son and daughter and five perfect grandchildren. Teaching his son and one granddaughter to fly are some of God’s many blessings. Besides flying, writing and reading, he enjoys spending time with his family and traveling.
Operation Firestorm is his second published works with fiction, though there have been five previous attempts over the years while puttering with the keyboard in what he describes as a highly undisciplined manner. He is now at work on his third book, The Kinsman.
The Spicy Secrets of a Jet-Set Temptress by Lantana Bleu #review #goddessfish#giveaway
The Spicy Secrets of a Jet-Set Temptress
by Lantana Bleu
GENRE: Erotic romance
Good Girls may go to heaven but Jet-Set Temptresses go everywhere.
Miss Melisse is a sweet, smart, and sassy professional vixen at the top of her game. Come along on her wild magic carpet ride of love, lust, and premium sex for sale. Can you ever fall in love when you’re a jet-set temptress and your life is full of spicy secrets?
EXCERPTS (Please choose only ONE to use with your post):
She looked in the bathroom mirror and smiled sadly.
Crying after sex. Ridiculous.
When she emerged, Simo was waiting on the living room couch, back in his jeans, with two tall glasses of real Tetley iced tea set on a silver platter, along with a side of extra ice, lemon, and simple syrup.
Oh, and a box containing an exquisite pair of ruby and diamond earrings she would treasure forever.
Both the delicious, refreshing tea and the earrings were a simple act of graciousness she would never forget.
And from a man with whom she felt “perfect chemistry” yet knew nothing about. And whom she would never forget.
As they sat sipping their teas after she thanked him profusely for the earrings, she asked, “What time is it? I’ve lost all track…”
“Two hours have passed,” Simo said, smirking guiltily.
“Oh, my…” She sucked in her breath. Jazzy wouldn’t like that.
“I already took care of it,” Simo assured. “He’s happy. I would never compromise what you have going with him by keeping you too long. I understand why you are here,” he said with a small look of regret, as if, I wish we could have met under different circumstances.
And she knew instinctively that if the assurances came from Simo’s mouth, it was so.
She loved how plainly he spoke, and the sentiment beneath his words. How unlike a spoiled royal he was to have taken into consideration her precarious position and ensure that she didn’t misstep.
“How can I ever see you again?” he asked. “I don’t even know your name… Where do you travel? Where do you live? Where do you spend your summers? Who are you? What do you like to do? What do you do? What are your dreams, your projects, your needs…? How could I ever help you?”
“Please.” She put up her hand, trying to stay calm. “I can’t talk about all that right now. I’m just a girl from New York City…”
“A wonderful girl, he smiled.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lantana Bleu was educated in classical literature and creative writing at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and The New School in New York City. She has also trained privately with master teachers in the art and craft of screenwriting. She enjoys world travel, slow walks and sensual adventures.
Amazon for USA: http://www.amazon.com/author/lantanableu
Amazon for UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01B3W46SK
The Spicy Secrets of a Jet-Set Temptress, Part 1: Learning The Life
The Spicy Secrets of a Jet-Set Temptress, Part 2: Love in The Life
Lantana Bleu will be awarding a print copy of The Spicy Secrets of a Jet-Set Temptress, Part 1: Learning The Life and The Spicy Secrets of a Jet-Set Temptress, Part 2: Love in The Life (US) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.