Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Promo Blitz: Fast Love by Zoe Adams


Fast Love by Zoe Adams

Genre: Billionaire Romance, Western Romance

Release: December 8, 2015

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Book Blitz: May 23, 2016


Indiana Bernstein lives life in the fast lane. She burns through school in a hurry to grow up and become the woman dating the man of her dreams.

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Indiana couldn’t believe he noticed her. It made her dizzy just to be next to this symbol of manliness. Or maybe it was the sweet aroma of the cigar. There could be any reason for her dizziness.

Luckily Richard stopped talking for a moment. He puffed and twisted a cigar. Smoke twirled pleasantly in the night breeze. “Your smile was all I could see in my rearview mirror today. I wish I always had a smiling face ahead of me like that. But it’s your birthday and your night of wishes, isn’t it? All right, well, here is your birthday present from me. I’ll let you drive my car around the block.”

He pulled keys from his pocket and held them up. Nothing ever shone so brightly for Indiana. They were worn out but still glimmered in the moonlight. She couldn’t move or place trust in the promise. Richard put the keys in her hand. He backed away with worlds of charm.

“Come on,” he said.

Indiana’s legs were willed to move. Encouragement from him was rare but always well placed. She got in the car. Richard saw to her comfort with the steering wheel and moved the seat forward until her feet were within proper proximity of the pedals.

He crouched down on his heels and eyed her gravely. “Now this car’s an automatic, so you only have two pedals. Use the same foot for gas as you do for the brakes.”

 Indy had already figured all of this out and rolled her eyes. Richard shut the driver’s door with a chuckle. She watched him walk around the hood of the car. He stood out like the finest thing. The grey smoke around him added charm. The black night made everything else drop away. The passenger door creaked when it opened.

 “I’ll have to remember to grease this hinge. It might ruin some poor girl’s eardrums. Whew, it’s a good thing I found that out.” Richard looked at her like he had just avoided the biggest catastrophe.

Indiana reminded herself of her youth, but she silently vowed not to act uneducated. She waited for his comfort to be assured.

He rolled down the window and hung the cigar outside of the car. He looked at her expectantly. “Do I have to show you how to drive?” Indiana shook her head and quit staring at the impressive man beside her.

The ignition turned easily. Indiana’s eyes rose appreciatively to the windshield. She had been obsessing about cars her whole racing bred life. The lights were clicked on, and she smoothly reversed into the night. The gas pedal moved slowly and the car responded. She sat back comfortably once she reached a steady speed.

“If I were a judge I would say this isn’t your first time driving a car.” The glowing ember of cigar reflected in the glass, and more whispers of smoke billowed into the air.

“It’s easy,” Indiana said defiantly. “I want to drive like you were driving.” Indiana let her eyes stray from the road for emphasis.

“All right.” He threw the cigar out the window and rubbed his hands together excitedly. “Go ahead and stop the car. Now keep your foot on the brake while you accelerate. When you see the revolutions of the motor get up to three thousand, let off the brakes. You know which one is the RPM gauge, right?”

Indiana nodded excitedly.

“Okay, good.” Richard could command any situation. But his sharp attention to detail, while keeping a relaxed stature, had Indiana ready to please. “Now remember you are guiding the car. Keep your hands loose on the wheel, then it’ll be easier to keep the car straight.”

 Indiana pushed her foot down on the gas. The thought of letting go of restraints got her excited. She did what he told her to do. The car popped into sudden speed. A laugh escaped her body. Indiana didn’t know if she had ever had so much fun.

“All right, that’s good, but you don’t need to go over fifty miles an hour.” Indiana slowed to the next stop along the slightly inhabited road.


About the Author:

Zoe Adams currently resides in Hawaii. She was born to a big family in the center of North America. A family store gave a lot of human interaction and work experience from a very young age.
Her mother gave a love for books, paper, pens, and any other creative mediums. Her father instilled work ethic for making, repairing, or polishing things until they shine. There was a lot of competition in the large family and Zoe learned how to tell a good story with few words.
When not writing she manages vacation rentals in world renowned Lanikai Beach. She can be found on the beach or kayaking with her husband and partner of thirteen years. They have no children but are perfectly content to spoil a dog.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Book Review: The All-Star Antes Up by Nancy Herkness

The All-Star Antes Up by Nancy Herkness (Wager of Hearts, Book 2)

Publisher & Release: Montlake Romance, May 31, 2016

Time and setting: Present Day, NYC

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length:  354 pages

Heat Level: 2 Flames

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

“No strings, no rings.” That’s Luke Archer’s motto. As the champion quarterback for the New York Empire—not to mention a self-made billionaire—Luke has given up on serious relationships. Women only want him for one thing: the thrill of being with a superstar. And he likes it that way too. But when his best friend announces he’s retiring from football to spend time with his wife and kids, Luke feels like he’s missing out on something much bigger than his career.

The assistant concierge in Luke’s luxury high-rise, Miranda Tate fled her family’s dairy farm to come to the bright lights of New York City. She works hard to move up and sends her spare earnings home to her brother. When she and Luke meet, there’s an instant sexual attraction which turns steamy quickly, but they’re in completely different leagues. Could Miranda be just the woman Luke needs to win the most important game of his life?

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This is the second book in Nancy Herkness’ Wager of Hearts series. I read the first book, The CEO Buys In, several months ago and was eagerly waiting for this one to be released when I found it on Net-Galley. Of course, I requested it. As with Book 1, The All-Star Antes Up is a great read.

Although Luke Archer agreed to the wager, he doesn’t have time to look for his true love since he’s in the middle of football season and with a mysterious pain in his shoulder causing him problems, he has to keep his attention on his game. When his brother’s misbehavior has him running interference, the last thing he expects is to find the woman who just might be THE ONE.

As hard as he tries to keep it casual, his heart wants the exact opposite. Can he ask her to wait, or should he break it off and let her go?

I enjoyed the easy banter between Miranda and Luke. The pacing is great, and the story kept me entertained from start to finish. Both characters are easy to like. Miranda is feisty and independent. Luke is, of course, a hunk, but better yet, a really nice guy. The chemistry between them sizzles and only gets hotter as the story unfolds.

While sports romance is not my cup of tea, I could appreciate the research Ms. Herkness did regarding the football scenes. She obviously has a great love of the game, and it came through in her writing. She also must have done her research on dairy farming as well, since that was in Miranda’s storyline.

I thoroughly enjoyed Miranda and Luke’s love story and absolutely loved their “happily ever after.” I can’t wait for Gavin’s story. He’s the third person involved in the wager and so far, his character has been a bit of the instigator. I think his story could very well be the best one of the three. If you enjoy a light-hearted read with great characters, then you will want to read The All-Star Antes Up. Happy reading!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Announcement: Lady Overton's Perilous Journey won!

I received some incredible news yesterday. Lady Overton's Perilous Journey won 1st place in the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence contest! Doing the happy dance!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Romance Writer and Lover of Books...Vikki Vaught: Good morning! I just wanted to give you a bit of i...

Romance Writer and Lover of Books...Vikki Vaught: Good morning! I just wanted to give you a bit of i...: Good morning! I just wanted to give you a bit of information regarding my vacation to merry Old England, Wales and Scotland. What an adventu...
Good morning! I just wanted to give you a bit of information regarding my vacation to merry Old England, Wales and Scotland. What an adventure!

I'm having a marvelous time on my trip! Yesterday Ivisited the Blacksmith's Shop in Gretna Green and found the museum enthralling. After we left there, we continued our journey and arrived in Edinburgh at five in the afternoon. We attended a lovely musical program and dinner at Prestonfields where we were entertained by four wee Scottish dancer. The entire show was fantastic.

Today we are taking a guided tour of the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle.  As we drove along yesterday, our tour director kept speaking of the old city and the new. I later learn that what he meant was the old city dates back to medieval times, the new city to the Georgian. I can't wait to explore this incredible city. Since I'm on my iPad, I'm having a few technical difficulties so I can't seem to attach any pictures. I've posted a great many on FB so be sure to check them out. Happy reading!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Good morning! This week I am traveling through the English countryside, so I will not be posting any reviews. When I return on May 30, I will have several reviews for you.

I just finished The All-Star Antes Up by Nancy Herkness. It's a sports romance and the second book in her Wagers series. It is releasing on May 31.

I'm starting The Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt today, it's the latest book in her Maiden Lane series, and I look forward to reading it. It also releases on May 31.

I can't wait to share my marvelous trip with you. This is the trip of a lifetime. It's so amazing to at last see so many historical sites that I have read about for so many years. I will post about my trip sometime during the first week of June. In the meantime, happy reading!

Book & Audio Review: Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

Publisher & Release: Signet, May 3, 2016

Time and setting: Regency England

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 399 pages

Heat Level: 1 Flames

Rating: 4.25 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

For the first time since the death of his wife, the Duke of Stanbrook is considering remarrying and finally embracing happiness for himself. With that thought comes the treasured image of a woman he met briefly a year ago and never saw again. 

Dora Debbins relinquished all hope to marry when a family scandal left her in charge of her younger sister. Earning a modest living as a music teacher, she’s left with only an unfulfilled dream. Then one afternoon, an unexpected visitor makes it come true.

For both George and Dora that brief first encounter was as fleeting as it was unforgettable. Now is the time for a second chance. And while even true love comes with a risk, who are two dreamers to argue with destiny?

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I’ve been a huge fan of Mary Balogh’s novels ever since I found her Slightly series many years ago. I have enjoyed the Survivor’s series immensely and hate to see it come to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed the end of Only Beloved. Ms. Balogh wraps up the series exceedingly well. She always writes a great epilogue that ties up all loose ends beautifully.

After many years as a widower, George, the Duke of Stanbrook, decides he wants a companion, one who will be a friend and a lover, now that he has reached his middle years. He met Dora Debbins the previous year and found her enchanting, a brilliant musician, and soothing to his soul. As his thoughts turn to marriage, he believes she will be perfect for him.

When George travels to ask for her hand, Dora eagerly accepts the duke’s proposal. After all, not only is he a man of consequences, he is a man of substance. Can Dora find a way into George’s heart when all he wants is companionship and a lover without romance, or will his past keep him from fully accepting all she has to offer?  

Only Beloved is another novel that will sweep you away to Regency England where lords and ladies of the ton reign and life is elegant. Ms. Balogh is the supreme expert at setting the stage in this marvelous period of history. From her wonderful ability with the speech of the times to the descriptions of life in this period, this novel will give you all you want in a historical romance.

I truly loved both Dora and George’s characters. They are exactly right for each other. While Only Beloved is not a sensual as her other books, the love between this pair pulled at my heart-strings. They are truly a match made in heaven.

I read some of the reviews for Only Beloved, and while I agree there is a lot of monologue and dialogue discussing mundane tasks such as correspondence, Ms. Balogh is still a brilliant storyteller and the climax of the story had me on the edge of my seat, totally redeeming the book for me, giving me an extremely satisfying and very happy ending.

The audio version is narrated by Roselyn Landor, and as always, she gives an outstanding performance. Her voice tone is perfect for this regency setting, bringing the characters to life. I always know I'm in for a treat when she is the narrator.

I will miss the survivors, but there is no doubt all of them will live a long and fulfilling life, sharing deep abiding love with their spouses. I highly recommend Only Beloved. It is a great addition to this fabulous series. Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book & Audio Review: All My Love, Detrick by Roberta Kagan

All My Love, Detrick by Roberta Kagan

Publisher & Release: Self-published, January 2014

Time and setting: WWII, Germany

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romantic Elements

Length: 340 pages

Heat Level: 2 Flames

Rating: 3 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

 All My Love,Detrick is the story of a forbidden love that thrusts two families, one German,one Jewish, into a spider web of danger during the terrifying years of the Third Reich.
Detrick was born with every quality that would ensure his destiny as a leader of Adolph Hitler's coveted Aryan race. But on his 7th birthday, an unexpected event changed the course of his destiny forever. As the Nazis rose to power, Detrick was swept into a world filled with secrets, enemies, betrayals, and alliances. But even in the midst of darkness, Detrick would find a single flicker of light. He would discover the greatest gift of all, the gift of everlasting love.

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Vikki’s Musings

I received a request from the author to read this book, but because of my commitments, I did not accept an ARC. Instead, I discovered it was on a free promotion with the audio version for $1.99, so I downloaded it, not sure when I would be able to read and review. I always enjoy novels set during WWII, and this one sounded excellent, which is why I decided to read it.
All My Love, Detrick is a riveting story, and I am glad I read it. I found the historical aspect of this book fascinating and enjoyed it tremendously. While Hitler was the spawn of a demented mind, he was a compelling and complex individual. If he could have only used his charisma for good instead of evil, he could have changed the world in a good way. Unfortunately, he used it to commit atrocities that will be remembered forever.

My problems with this book are with the craft of writing. The chapters are really short, sometimes only a paragraph or two. There were at least two sub-plots that could have been developed into their own stories and would have made great books. Dorothy's and Karl's storylines come to mind. While I did enjoy the history in this book, at times it read a bit clinical and didn’t not flow with the storyline very well, making it feel disjointed.

I listened to the audio version by Kevin S. Martin. Unfortunately, his voice sounded flat and came across as more of a documentary than a novel. He did a fair job with the multitude of characters but just didn’t read with much emotion. I will not be listening to his narration again.

I do wish this book had ended differently. The characters are fictional and could have gotten a happy ending. That did not happen. Of course, I usually read romance, not tragedies, so that is just my opinion. I did realize this is historical fiction and not romance. If you find this period of history intriguing and can overlook some of the technical issues, then I do recommend this book. Happy reading!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: My One and Only by Terri Osburn

My One and Only by Terri Osburn

Publisher & Release: Montlake Romance, May 17, 2016

Time and setting: Present Day, Ardent Springs, Tennessee

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length:  290 pages

Heat Level: 2 Flames

Rating: 3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

As far as Dr. Haleigh Rae Mitchner is concerned, Cooper Ridgeway is more suited to a superhero cape than mechanic’s overalls. It’s just like Ardent Springs’s most upstanding resident to rescue a pregnant, homeless teenager and bring her to Haleigh’s delivery room. When they team up to help the new mother and baby, Haleigh is determined not to cross the line with Cooper. Not only is he her best friend’s brother, he’s a guy who deserves more than Haleigh’s checkered past could ever offer.
At first glance, Haleigh is no longer the girl Cooper pined for in school. The sleek, professional OB-GYN seems more out of reach than ever for this small-town mechanic. But the more time he spends with the complicated woman, the more he wants her. Who better than Cooper to prove to her that nothing is beyond fixing? Especially in Ardent Springs, a town that’s tailor-made for second chances.

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This is the second book I have read in the Ardent Springs series. I accepted My One and Only in exchange for an honest review via Net-Galley. I enjoy Terri Osborne’s writing style a lot. Her dialogue is so real and put me right in the story.

Haleigh Mitchner has returned to Ardent Springs after she breaks off her engagement to an egotistical plastic surgeon. Between taking care of her mother and paying off her student loans, she has no money, even though she is now an OB/GYN and lives with her best friend from high school and Cooper’s sister.

When a young girl shows up in the ER ready to deliver, she is surprised when she finds Cooper Ridgeway, her childhood friend and savior, holding the girl’s hand as she gives birth. What she soon finds out, Cooper is again playing the “White Knight” as he did for her when she as a teenager.

When sparks fly between her and Cooper, she wonders if she could possible be worthy of him, or will her bad choices interfere with a relationship with him? After all, she has made a lot of mistakes and is bad news for men. The last thing she wants is to hurt such a nice guy who deserves better.

Cooper believes otherwise and sets out to at last win the woman who captured his heart when she was just a teen. Can he convince Haleigh he loves her regardless?

My One and Only is an easy, quick read. Ms. Osborne’s dialogue sparkles and her characters are down-to-earth. I loved the small town aspect to this story. There is also an enjoyable mystery that runs through this book as Haleigh and Cooper try to help the new mother find her long lost father.

There are many things I liked about Haleigh’s character, but some of her choices from her past were difficult for me. She is definitely flawed and has many facets to her personality, but there was one sticking point that I could not move past. So, even though, I was glad that she recognized her faults, I never really liked her.

Now, I truly loved Cooper’s character. He’s one of the nicest guys in the world. He’s a straight-up man and so good-natured. He is a one-woman kind of guy and fell for Haleigh in high school, even though he knew all her dirty little secrets. Even when he finds out the other ones, he still loves her unconditionally.

If you like a novel with a flawed heroine who is her own worst enemy, then you will enjoy My One and Only. For me, Cooper is the shining star and made the book worth my time. Happy reading!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book & Audio Review: Between Now and Forever by Barbara Freethy

Between Now and Forever by Barbara Freethy (Calloways, Book 4)

Publisher & Release: Fog City Publishing, LLC, January 2014

Time and setting: Present Day, San Francisco

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length:  303 pages

Heat Level: 2 Flames

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Nicole met Ryan when he was a handsome, cocky teenager with a desire to fly high above the clouds. Ryan encouraged Nicole to dream big and promised her a lifetime of happiness, but several years into their lives together, they were faced with obstacles bigger than either had ever imagined. Their love faltered. They lost their way and considered what had once been unthinkable—the end of their forever.

But now fate throws them a curve, an event that forces them back together, that strips their emotions bare and is both terrifying and strangely unifying. For the first time in a long while they have to face each other, and not only talk but also listen, because their lives depend on it—not only their lives but also the life of their six-year-old son.

Secrets and lies frame a perilous journey to the truth that takes Nicole and Ryan to Angel's Bay, a place where miracles sometimes happen. But in order to get that miracle, Nicole and Ryan must work together and learn how to trust and love each other again. Only then will they be able to save their family and find their way to happily ever after.

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I heard Barbara Freethy speak at RWA 2015 and was very impressed. When I discovered this book on sale for 99 cents and the audio version for $1.99, I decided it was time to read one of her books. I’m so glad I found this one!

Nicole Prescott is estranged from her husband when their autistic son, Brandon disappears from the Halloween school festival. Her soon-to-be ex-husband joins her as they search for their missing son.

As they follow the clues to find their little boy, Nicole and Ryan must move beyond their differences if they want to find Brandon. While on their journey, can they find their way back to each other and reunite their family?

Oh, my, Between Now and Forever is a riveting read filled with heart-wrenching emotion. The pacing is fast, keeping me in its thrall from the first page to the last. The plot is extremely well-developed, and the characters have wonderful depth. Ms. Freethy sprinkles in their backstory as she spins this tale of parents who are experiencing their worst nightmare.

Nicole’s character is wonderfully complex with many facets to her personality. I particularly enjoyed her self-realization that she was as much to blame for her separation from her husband as he. It showed a fantastic character arch. I could feel her pain and her emotions as if they were mine.

Ryan is somewhat of a tortured soul. The guilt over their separation eats at him, but the feelings of abandonment left over from his troubled childhood play mightily into the decisions he made and the deterioration of their marriage. As he struggles with his emotions while searching for Brandon brought tears to my eyes.

The depth of the love between Nicole and Brandon comes through loud and clear as they realize the love is still as strong as before the break in their relationship. The chemistry between them jumps off the page and is very tastefully woven into this remarkable book.

I listened to the audio version performed by Shannon McManus. She reads with the perfect depth of emotion, pulling me into the story. She is able to give each character their distinct voice adding greatly to my listening enjoyment. I will definitely listen to future books with Ms. McManus as the narrator.

If you enjoy an emotionally-charged story with a great building of suspense, and a heart-warming second chance romance, then you will love Between Now and Forever. If this is the example of the other books in this series, then I will be reading them as well. Happy reading!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Perfect Timing Series Graphic

The Perfect Timing Series by Heather Van Fleet

Sales Blitz: May 9 - 12th

Genre: YA/NA Romance

When It’s Least Expected


Recommended for 16+ due to some language, underage drinking, and slight sexual content
Moving on after a tragedy can be impossible, especially when you’ve been dealing with those tragedies for over two years. But it’s her senior year, and Harley Anderson is more than ready to do just that, even though the skeletons in her closet can’t exactly be hidden.
Enter Mason Daniel, the egotistical, sexy, surfer boy from California. A boy with his own hidden demons, and an even bigger secret agenda. Mason isn’t right for Harley. He knows this better than anyone. He’s the epitome of a runner, a guy who takes what he can get, only to split a short while later. But he can’t deny the emotions that Harley brings out of him, so he’s going to break his rules for once.
He should have known what it would lead to…
Two kindred souls, both lost and then found. Will they fail in their search for contentment and happiness, or will they instead find true love when it’s least expected?

Download your copy today for free...

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A Long Time Coming


Abigail Orson has a problem. A love problem to be precise; and she has absolutely no idea how to go about fixing it.
For years now, she has been chasing her best friend’s brother—demanding things from him that he’s never wanted to give. For one? A real relationship that surpasses well beyond that dreaded ‘just friends’ zone. You see, David Anderson is her idea of perfection to a T. The one and only guy who has ever had the ability to make her heart beat faster; make her toes curl with the simple blink of his long, girly lashes. But David is also a recovering amputee, and the only thing he really wants from Abigail is to be left alone. Abigail is a fighter though, and losing the one guy who has ruined her for every other is no longer an option.
A guy with one leg who has lost his motivation to live—to love—to actually be a man. David believes he’s a waste of space. If only the beautiful girl of his unattainable dreams would get that through her perfect, blonde, stubborn head! He’s not the right guy for Abigail. He’ll never be worthy of what she deserves. However, staying away is almost impossible, especially when he’s just as in love with her as she is with him. But Abigail has a life ahead of her, one that’s definitely livable without a nineteen–year–old gimp like him holding her down. What makes her want to stick around is beyond questionable to David’s mind.
Choices will be made. Lines will be drawn. And together, they will face challenges that nobody saw coming. David and Abigail may have had almost fourteen years to fall in love, but the thing is, timing and love have never exactly worked in their favor.
It has been years in the making, and definitely A Long Time Coming for David and Abigail. Let’s hope they don’t screw it up before they actually have the chance to get it right…

On sale for only $0.99 or read for free with Kindle Unlimited:

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About the Author:

Heather Van Fleet is stay-at-home-mom turned book boyfriend connoisseur. She’s a wife to her high school sweetheart, a mom to three little girls, and in her spare time you can find her with her head buried in her Kindle, guzzling down copious amounts of coffee.
Heather graduated from Black Hawk College in 2003 with an associate degree and has been working in the publishing industry for over five years. She’s represented by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary and her Embattled Hearts Series is Forthcoming from Sourcebooks in late 2016.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Red Night Release Blitz

Red Night by RK Close

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Blitz: May 11, 2016

Red Night Med
For five hundred years I have feasted on the blood of the innocent.
For centuries I have seduced beautiful victims into my bed.
And all this time, I have never gone without…
I am Zachariah…
While enduring endless days as an immortal, only one urge soothes my savage need.
I have consumed countless humans—I have witnessed mountains of corpses piled beneath my feet. But none more significant than the woman I once loved.
My heart was not the only one she captured, but it would be the last…
An inferior creature turned her heart against me—Adam. Such a pathetic identity to be named after the original creation of God, and always besting me in life. But in death—I am king.
I am far more treacherous.
I should be feared.
I demand to be remembered.
And I am, for being known as the immortal who slayed the woman we both loved, and my rampage continues…
Now in the scorching desert, I find prey well worth the chase…
And my interest in this mortal runs deep. Adam has pursued me over the globe in search of revenge—but his own weaknesses have made him vulnerable. He’s taken to the striking mortal, which means only one thing.
She will be my next target.
But this time, not for the taste of blood. I will take her as my own mate, and neither Adam, or anyone else, will stop me…

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Read the first chapter here:

Dirty little secrets are my bread and butter. Everyone has them, and exposing what people try to hide is how I make my living.
I’ve always liked to watch people, study them, and unravel their mysteries. Give me a few minutes and I’ll know if they’re happy, sad, needy, or insecure.
People are easy for me to read and far too predictable. Money, sex, and power are prime motivating factors, at least for the people I’m hired to expose. Tonight, I’m doing just that.
Busy shoppers move past me as if they’re running out of time. With the holiday hours at the Scottsdale Fashion Mall, they’re feeding their retail addiction late into the evening.
Thanksgiving hasn’t even passed, yet Christmas sales and shopping have begun in full force. I’m not interested in the shoppers or the sales. My focus is on the Tiffany & Co. store across from where I sit. A certain female shopper named Rebecca Tanner stopped in there about twenty minutes ago and still hasn’t emerged. I’m tempted to follow her inside and see what the heck she’s doing, but keeping a low profile will make my job easier.
The coffee in my cup is now cold and my stomach is rumbling loudly because I missed dinner. Just as I’m growing bored and restless, a tall attractive woman with long auburn hair walks out of the store. She’s on the arm of a dark-haired man wearing a gray tailored suit. Both look as though they belong on the cover of a magazine instead of shopping at the mall, but they do make a striking pair. He has movie star quality written all over him. It makes him stand out like a sore thumb.
The redhead smiles and leans into him. Her eyes never leave him, but he appears preoccupied with leading her swiftly through the crowd. Her companion appears detached or aloof. Rebecca is my target tonight, but he’s the surprise.
Where did you come from, Mystery Man?
Tossing my coffee in the trash and grabbing my fake shopping bag from Victoria’s Secret, I begin to follow them.
Mystery Man’s dark hair catches the light and gives him an unearthly glow. With broad shoulders that taper down to a slim waist, even his expensive suit can’t hide his long muscled legs. He has an air of confidence in the way he holds himself that causes shoppers to quickly part around him—many stopping to stare or catch a second look. Nobody is moving for me and I’m forced to dodge bodies in order to keep up.
I’m not easily surprised. This evening may have developed an interesting twist, a bump in the road. I love bumps and twists because they make life and especially work, more interesting.
The couple turns down a long hallway that leads to the public restrooms but they continue through metal doors marked, ‘EMPLOYEES ONLY.’ Without slowing my pace, I ditch the shopping bag and pull my long hair into a quick, messy bun. Before I reach the doors, I’ve pulled a solid black apron from my bag and slipped it over my head. This apron is the best ten dollars I’ve ever spent. It gets me into all sorts of places. Add a fake name tag and I’m unstoppable.
Good thing I’m not wearing heels tonight.
Through the doors is another dimly lit, industrial hall with many gray metal doors. There is a stark difference between the lights, color, and holiday music of the festive mall to the colorless, sterile feel of this corridor.
Moving purely on instinct, I head left down the hall and around a corner. There I find a door marked ‘EXIT.’ Not knowing what’s on the other side, I stop to compose myself. Easing the door open, a burst of cool air hits me as I peer into a dark concrete jungle also known as the underground parking garage. I’m parked down here, but I can’t say where because I’ve never been to this area before.
Lighting down here is worse than in the hallway I came from. There is no visual end, only a dark abyss in both directions. There are no bustling shoppers at the moment, and the cars are still. The silence is a creepy reminder that I’ve left the security of the mall.
My head snaps in the direction of a slight sound, somewhere to my left. The sound may have come from one of the corners where the light doesn’t touch. Narrowing my eyes, I focus all of my senses on the blackness but I’m unable to make out more than inky shadows.
They didn’t have time to leave, so where are they?
I’m considering pulling out my small flashlight and shining it into car windows, when I hear it again: a slight scraping sound coming from the dark corner.
In case I’m being watched, I pretend not to hear as I walk in the opposite direction. Turning a corner, I crouch behind a row of cars and work my way back. At times like this, I sometimes wish my legs weren’t so long.
My hiding spot is roughly sixty feet away from the suspicious sound, behind a dark sedan. Two forms that blend into one finally take shape in the dense shadows. Rebecca Tanner is one busy gal. I guess having an affair with my client’s husband is not enough for her. We can add hooking up with random men at the mall to her resume.
Cheating on the cheater is poetic justice at its finest.
There was a time when spying on unknowing individuals would cause me embarrassment or guilt. After all, it’s like I’m digging around in people’s dirty laundry. Eventually, my skin got thicker and my sensibilities became…less sensitive.
It’s not like I ask people to cheat on their spouse or steal from their company. Some people might call me a voyeur. I’m not, but I gain a great deal of satisfaction finding answers to questions and giving my clients closure.
I’m hoping this twosome doesn’t go X-rated on me, so I pull out my camera with a telephoto lens and set the aperture to pull as much light as possible without using the flash. I lift the camera to my eye, start to focus on the couple, and—
What I originally perceived as a passionate embrace now looks suspicious. Rebecca’s back is toward me. Mystery-Man has a hand intertwined in her long red hair, holding the back of her head. His face is buried in her neck and the other hand has a death grip on her arm.
That’s going to leave a mark. If he keeps this up, she’ll be wearing long sleeves and turtlenecks for weeks.
All the popular Hollywood visions of vampires pop into my head and I have to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Of all the silly things to think about. Those types of movies have never been my thing, but I’ve seen a few.
I prefer comedies.
Pop culture seems to like its romance with a touch of horror and violence mixed in. I’ve never understood the attraction, myself.
Still, my stomach feels uneasy, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It’s not like me to let my imagination run away. I’m a professional, after all.
I knew it was too late for that coffee.
Still, I have the nagging feeling I’m witnessing a crime. Only I’m not sure what crime it is. Death by hickey?
I’m cracking myself up tonight. Definitely too much caffeine.
My current client hired me to prove that her husband is having an affair with another woman. He is, and Rebecca Tanner is the other woman. My client’s husband stands to lose his marriage of twenty-four years and a great deal of his wealth because of his affair with Ms. Tanner. How I would love to be a fly on the wall when the lawyer presents him with these photos! Revenge won’t mend my client’s broken heart but it might help that bitter pill to go down easier.
Nights like these, I feel like an avenging angel—minus the wings.
It may not be angelic making a living exposing cheaters, liars, and thieves, but the money is good. I set my own schedule, and enjoy most of the challenges that my career presents. Challenges such as how to get out of here before clothing items start to fly and this scene becomes pornographic.
Right as I press the button to take the first of many incriminating pictures, Mystery Man’s head rises a fraction as his eyes lock on me. I think my heart skipped a beat or two.
Oh, crap! He couldn’t possibly hear that.
But there he is, looking right at me. I’ve never felt so naked or exposed.
With his lips still on her neck, his gaze never leaves me. Panic rises in my chest. Neither of us move for what feels like an eternity. Even without help from the telephoto lens, I can clearly see his eyes in the darkness. Some trick of the light causes them to glow.
Without breaking our stare, I shove my camera in my purse as I prepare to rise and run for it. I only release his stare when I’m ready to run.
My foot catches on my apron and I stumble, landing on my hands and knees, my bag still gripped in my fingers. My hair has fallen out of its messy bun and hangs in my face. I can’t see a damn thing. Frantically, I shove my hair out of my way but when I do, I see he’s reached me first. Somehow he’s breached the distance between us and stands a mere car’s length away.
What the hell?
He starts to move toward me with a lethal grace. Judging by his size and the way his body moves, my defense skills will only prolong the inevitable. I find his eyes are a distraction.
They’re the bluest I’ve ever seen.
A savage look on his handsome face tells me it’s about to get ugly.
Did he growl at me?
I’m reminded of a panther moving in for the kill from some nature show. Under any other circumstance, I would admire someone his size maneuvering this gracefully. His movements are fluid and perfect like a well-choreographed dance.
Does Death dance? I’m about to find out.
Like a deer in the headlights, I freeze. What a surprise that all my self-defense training flies out the window. My limbs refuse to move and my throat feels like I’ve been days without water. Frozen by fear, my traitorous body refuses to obey my mental commands. I can’t even scream.
Like a predator, he senses my fear and reacts to it. Just when I think I’m dead, a group of young men burst from the stairwell laughing and talking loudly. “Blue Eyes,” as I’m naming him, stops his advance and slowly, reluctantly pulls his gaze from me to glare in the direction of the young men.
Once he looks away, something in me clicks and I immediately move into action. My body feels awkward at first, as though I’m moving through water. Finding my missing voice, I yell at the group of men, even as I begin running toward them. “Hey, you guys want to help a girl out?” My voice sounds raspy and hoarse.
My unintentional rescuers look startled but alert. The foursome looks over my shoulder to see who I’m running from. Their faces register concern but not the reaction I’m expecting. Confused, I glance over my shoulder to find Blue Eyes is gone and so is Rebecca. I spin around in a circle but it’s as if they’ve vanished into thin air.
So why don’t I feel safe?

About the Author:

Hello! I’m RK Close, author of the ‘Vampire Files Trilogy’. ‘Red Night’ is the first book in the series. I write paranormal-romance & urban-fantasy with a hint of darkness and a dash of humor. Creating characters that my readers will fear, fall in love with, despise or cheer for, is what I love most about writing.
Ann Rice gets all the credit for my vampire addiction which started in my early twenties. Like so many others, I fell in love with her vampires first.
Originally from Kentucky, I’ve lived most of my life in Arizona where I met and married my true love. We were late to the game so we knocked out three ankle-biters in quick succession. We often joke that parenthood saved us from ourselves. Now we need to be saved from parenthood. *just kidding* We love our darling spawn.
When I’m not writing, I’m taking care of a busy family, dragging my butt to CrossFit, thinking about my stories or spending time with family and friends. My dream is to sell enough books to hire someone to clean our house and cook our meals. Okay, maybe that’s my family’s dream. I tend to get a little obsessed when I write.
Truthfully, I would love the opportunity to pull you into my world of strong independent females, mysterious vampires, noble hunters, hungry werewolves and seductive yet deadly fae. If you like paranormal-romance in a modern-urban setting with plenty of romantic tension, mystery and suspense, then my novels were written for you.

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Book Review: Corrupt Practices by Penelope L'Amoreaux

Corrupt Practices by Penelope L’Amoreaux

Publisher & Release: Self-published, March 26, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, D.C.

Genre: Contemporary Political Thriller/Erotic Romance

Length:  119 pages

Heat Level: 3 Flames

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

All she'd ever wanted was to work in politics. To make a difference. When Mariel lands her dream internship for Senator Roger Taylor, she knows life can't get better.

The she met him. Dallas Taylor. Brother to the Senator, her boss, and a complete ass. Working for him turns Mariel's dream into a nightmare-- and her attraction to him is salt in the wound.

Then Mariel discovers a dangerous scandal in the office that could ruin the Senator, she must risk everything to prove it to Dallas... including her heart.

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Vikki’s Musings

I received Corrupt Practices from the author in exchange for an honest review. I accepted it because the book description intrigued me. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I do not normally read thrillers, and certainly not political ones.
When Mariel Knowles arrived for her first day as an intern for Senator Roger Taylor, she is full of optimism for the opportunity to advance with his campaign team until she meets his brother, Dallas, her boss. He is arrogant and down right mean, insisting she’s late when her email clearly stated that she was supposed to start at nine o’clock, not eight.

After meeting the charismatic senator who is nothing like his brother, she discovers her office is nothing but a closet and her desk–one of those one piece jobs she used in high school–with no computer, no phone. Then to top it off, Dallas tells her to go make coffee and order lunch for all the workers in the office.

Although, she can’t stand Dallas’ attitude, she can’t keep her eyes from roaming over his fantastic body. When she discovers something that could lead to the senator’s downfall, she’s forced to work with Dallas to stop the sabotage. Can she handle being in his presence without succumbing to the desire that burns hotter every day?

Corrupt Practices is an easy and entertaining story, easily read on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The pacing keeps the story moving along, and the deliciously sexy chemistry between Mariel and Dallas kept me flipping the pages on my Kindle fast.

There is plenty of intrigue and action in this novella, making it an exciting read. I like Ms. L’Amoreaux’s smooth and flowing writing style and her sparkling dialogue between the hero and the heroine. For a shorter book, the plot and characters have surprising depth.

I loved how Mariel’s character turns lemons into lemonade when she quickly turns chaos into order within the office, earning the respect of her fellow c-workers even though Dallas treats her like in less than a flattering light. She is feisty and at times, snarky with Dallas.

Dallas is a hard character to truly like because he is such an ass to everyone, but as the story unfolds, and I saw his dedication to protecting his brother, it kept me from hating him as much. His softening attitude toward Mariel when they race to find the culprit helped as well.

If you like reading a story with plenty of spice and great suspense, along with unforgettable characters, then you will enjoy Corrupt Practices as much as I did. This is the first book in the Corrupt Trilogy, and I look forward to reading the next book. Happy reading!