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Gardenia Duty

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Women’s Fiction, Military
Published: June 2019
Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

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In 1957 jobs are scarce in rural Ashland, Alabama. Bobby Higgins is facing life decisions; his family’s farm struggles and threat of the draft hangs over 18-year-old males as the Cold War rumbles in the distance. Bobby heads off to boot camp, vowing to provide for his family from his pay. Between shore and sea duty, Bobby leaves broken hearts in every port.

When his own heart is stolen by Rose, he’s shocked to learn that she comes with four daughters, a package deal he’s unsure he wants. But when Rose disappears, Bobby finds her and persuades her to marry him. Somehow they navigate their way through the trials of marriage and parenting as he fulfills his patriotic career and his promise to raise four willful daughters.

In the spring of 2004, his daughters are brought together by grief. They forge new bonds, sharing their joys, losses, regrets, and ultimately family secrets that will seal all their fates…if they can summon the courage to report for duty.


October, 1980

She stared at the venetian blinds, blurred by tears,

gripping the hospital bed rails. They should have

been tears of joy. Her family should have been standing

in the sparsely furnished room. Should have, would

have, could have.

Suck it up, cupcake, she thought. She knew this day

would come. She had to think about what was best for…

for him. And once she had finally decided, even the excitement

of her budding career had been overshadowed. She

scanned the room through the blur, now void of the nurse

who had taken pity on her solitude. The never-ending

loop of self-recrimination flooded her brain yet again.

Funny, she thought she’d be over it by now, that somehow

the loop would be flushed—like afterbirth.

How could she have been so careless? Why hadn’t she

focused on school instead of letting herself be attracted to

Larry’s blue eyes? With that twinkle and his boyish grin,

he had relentlessly worked his way into her heart on a

girls’ night out. Eventually, walks on the beach, romantic

dinners and line dancing at The Lazy B. If she had known

his orders were only five months away, would she have

continued the romance? She didn’t let just anyone in. She

was the Master of Unavailable and The Life of the Party.

But Larry had pulled her off center and made her laugh.

She thought he’d bore her. She thought she’d grow tired

of him. But no. Damn you, Larry. The aching memories

made this day that much more difficult.

There was a knock on the thick blonde door. “Dinner

time,” the nurse said. She stared at the tray as the nurse

gently placed it on the table. She peeked under the lid and

was hit with the aroma of chicken and broccoli. Typical

hospital menu; something from all the food groups.

“Does the chef suggest a wine pairing?” she smiled

weakly. Her nurse smiled back and checked the IV bag.

There was iced tea and a little carton of milk on the fiberglass

tray, the same type served up in school when her

biggest decisions were made on a playground, or when

sneaking a cigarette on the senior lawn behind the huge

live oak.

“When can I shower?” she asked, poking at the

mashed potatoes.

“After this bag runs out I’ll take out the IV.”

Her nurse’s deep blue scrubs were adorned by a shiny

chrome stethoscope. “Can I do anything else?” Her eyes

betrayed the facade of pity for her situation. This may

have been her first rodeo, but the nurse had seen too many

of her situations. “No, I’m good. Well, not good. I mean,

you’ve been wonderful,” she fumbled.

The nurse walked back to the door, patting her feet

with a soft hand on the way. She felt the tears welling

again. How she needed her sisters. But, no one could

know. She needed to get back on track at work and put

this behind her. How the hell do you put something like this

behind you, she thought to herself. She suspected it would

always haunt her. “Please, God, give me the peace I need. I

hope you know I’m not heartless. This is for his future. I’m

still a kid.”

There was another knock on the door. As the couple

entered the room, he was carrying a fast-food bag, Taco

Bell. She carried flowers. It had to be as awkward for them

as it was for her. “You’re a lifesaver! I hope there are tacos

in that bag,” she said, with as much bravado as she could

muster. But she knew there was a deeper meaning to the

first part of her comment.

“Did y’all finally decide on his name?” she asked.

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About the Author

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Kathleen Varn’s love affair with words manifested when she turned four and taught herself to read. As she grew older, books and reading were an escape from responsibility. Eventually, Kathleen dove into journaling, which helped her find solace in the grief of a toxic relationship. Kathleen is now very happily married to her soulmate. She resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked for an adoption attorney for twenty-three years. Her first novel, Ameera Unveiled, released in 2013. Gardenia Duty is her second novel.       

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Ascending From Madness by Stacey Marie Brown

AFM RD-10 Ascending from Madness AN

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AFM RD 59696169_2539405249405839_3759450655907905536_n Your holiday season is about to get deliciously naughty! The bad boys and girls of the Winterland are back for the conclusion of Alice and Scrooge’s story. This tale is mad, dark, twisted, sexy, and nothing like the legend you know. Life for Alice Liddell should be normal. Work, family, and her general sucky life back at her parent’s house, working as a slutty-looking elf in Santa’s shop. But from the moment Alice wakes up from a terrible fevered dream, nothing feels ordinary. With visions of strange creatures, an obsession with creating top hats until her hands bleed, and an inexplicable attraction to her married neighbor, Matt, she feels like she’s going crazy. When her illusions of twin elves, singing penguins, and sexy reindeers start to turn into full blown hallucinations, her family feels they have no choice but to find her help. Her therapist is Matt’s wife, Jessica Winters, someone Alice feels in her gut she shouldn’t trust. But he more Alice loses her touch on reality, the more her parents turn to Jessica. In one night, Alice loses everything, landing her in an insane asylum where she learns Jessica is not at all who she seems. As Alice’s mind cracks further, her visions feel more like memories. She’s in a fight for her life against the mad ruler of the institution. Except who will believe her? She’s the insane one, the one who gets visits by ghosts of holiday icons. But one thing good about going mad? In some places being bonkers is exactly what you need… To ascend from the madness. AFM RD-3

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Read the First Chapter HERE!

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AFM RD-7 “It’s a party!” A light giggle whispered like a flower petal floating in the wind. At the same moment a flash of black and white from the corner of my eye, an oval toddler-sized figure, waddled across the walkway. I jerked my head to the end of the row. Nothing. Caramel fudge. What was that? Licking my lips nervously, I crept to the end, peering down where the kid might have run. Nothing. No kid, no sound of pounding feet or even breathing. Absolutely nothing. Curious. I couldn’t deny this time a trickle of genuine fear scratched at the back of my throat. Yesterday’s incident hadn’t done that, though it really should have. I couldn’t remember hours of my time, of cutting into my skin. But this sank into my belly like rocks. Nothing’s there, Alice. Shaking my head and trying to ignore the pang in my gut, I returned to the cart and rammed the gingerbread book in its place without looking at it again. Propelling the cart forward, I curved it toward the farthest section, the lights not as bright and never filled with people. When I was little, I used to think this part was creepy and not in the spooky fun way. The kind that felt as if a nail was being dragged down your spine. Eyes watching you. The whine of the wheels as I drifted down the last row had my hair standing on the back of my neck. “Don’t let your imagination get the better of you,” I muttered. “You’re not a kid anymore.” I quickly grabbed at a book, finding its home, and reached up to put it away. A red glowing light flickered by before it slipped behind the shelves. I swiveled sharply, my heart jumping up in my throat, scrambling for the end of the row, peering around. The walkway was vacant. I shook my head, taking in a deep breath. I went to turn back for the cart, when I saw the bulb of red light on the other side of the shelves from me and a dark shadow falling over the books as it headed down the aisle toward the end. Fear slammed my pulse against my neck, but I propelled myself to move, scooping round the rack to the next row, ready to find something there. It was empty. Curiouser. “What the…?” I gaped, staring at the blank wall where the row dead-ended a few yards away. There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to hide. Dread dribbled down my throat, forcing me to swallow. “Switch! Switch!” Giggling voices jerked my head to the side. At the edge of my vision, two toddler-size figures darted into a row, a blur of green and red. Reacting instantly, I chased after them, determined to find the brats messing with me, ignoring the notion I needed to see they were real. I wasn’t losing my mind. Jogging after them, I shot down the aisle. The kids were nowhere to be found, and panic generated tears behind my lids. Distant giggles kept me moving, needing to find them. The desperation to prove they were there pounded adrenaline through my veins. Zigzagging through the shelves, I tried to catch them. Darting out into the kids’ reading area, I found it empty. A giggle, sounding like a little girl, made me jump around. “Stop it!” I yelled, my gaze scanning every inch, trying to find movement. “It’s a party!” Another kidlike voice circled me around, ripping the air from my lungs. “I said stop! You guys are going to get into trouble.” It’s a very Merry un-Christmas.” A girl’s voice sang behind me, whirling me back. To me?” A boy’s voice crooned back. “I said stop it!” No, to you!” I didn’t see anything, but their voices lobbed all around me. My teeth sank down into my lip, my chest heaving for air, true terror skulking down on my shoulders, dropping beads of doubt into my gut, whispering, Alice, you are going mad. “Stop!” I screamed, my hands going to my ears. My back curled as their giggles echoed in my head, thumping at something so deep in the far reaches of my mind bile flushed up my throat, dropping me to my knees, nausea spinning my head. “Alice?” “Stop it!” I repeated over and over, pressing the heels of my palm into my ears, trying unsuccessfully to block the giggles and singing in my head. “Alice!” Hands grabbed for me, tugging at my wrists, trying to yank my hands from my head. “Oh fudge…Alice! Stop hitting yourself!” Fingers tore at mine. “ALICE. STOP!” The pitch of my mother’s demand halted the voices instantly. As if a switch was turned on, the pressure leaked out of my skull like evaporating fog, easing my lungs. Slowly, I lifted my lashes, looking at the few people in the library standing around, staring at me with horror. Gulping, I licked my lips, my gaze darting to the woman crouching beside me. Her dark brown eyes held even more terror. Her hands still wrapped around my wrists like she was afraid I would hurt myself, her fingers pressing into the wounds still healing over my hands.

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Enter the Release Day Giveaway HERE!

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AFM RD-2 15027514_10154000086112681_3429501916066711457_n Stacey Marie Brown is a lover of hot fictional bad boys and sarcastic heroines who kick butt. She also enjoys books, travel, TV shows, hiking, writing, design, and archery. Stacey swears she is part gypsy, being lucky enough to live and travel all over the world. She grew up in Northern California, where she ran around on her family’s farm, raising animals, riding horses, playing flashlight tag, and turning hay bales into cool forts. She volunteers helping animals and is Eco-friendly. She feels all animals, people, and environment should be treated kindly. AFM RD-9

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Release Blitz

The Queen by Cole Denton

Title: The Queen
Series: Sanguine #1
Author: Cole Denton
Genre: Dark Romance/Paranormal
Release Date: November 4, 2019


Once upon a time, there was a wholesome young princess who ruled her kingdom in grace and purity…

This isn’t that story.

Octavia is a naughty, snarky, young princess that is always looking for a good time. But, in a single night, a greedy, bloodthirsty enemy changes her world forever.

Now that she’s in control, the rebellious princess is trying to escape the terrors of her past by becoming the Queen of Pleasure. Decadence and debauchery sum up the life in the world she created for herself. For being the Queen of Pleasure comes with many benefits! Her favorite one is having the choice of the fairest gentlemen in the land to be her private “playthings.” All seemed well in her kingdom of pleasurable pain.

But tragedy is about to strike a second time, forcing this hedonistic monarch to embrace her dark past, and to realize the full potential running through her veins. In order to destroy the familiar enemy who once shook her world, she will need to gather those closest to her, and learn to lean on her newest “plaything”…who is not all that he seems.

Blood is sweet, but revenge is sweeter when you’re…The Queen.

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Free in Kindle Unlimited

Author Bio

Cole Denton is an ocean lover who finds joy in almost all physical activities. He is especially passionate about baseball and surfing, indulging in them every chance he gets.

His other passion is writing. It began at a young age and followed him through to his time at a university in SoCal where he majored in screenwriting. 

After moving to Sin City itself, Cole has put his knowledge and talent as a writer to work by pursuing a career as a dark fiction author. Cole is enjoying testing his kinky side, in pursuit of all things pleasurable.

Author Links

Excerpt Reveal

Absolution by LK Shaw

Will Gina and Leo finally get their chance at love?
Find out when the next book in LK Shaw’s Doms of Club Eden series, Absolution, comes your way on November 7!!

And you can read an EXCERPT below!!

“Please, don’t leave me here.”
Those were the last, tearful words Gina Castillo spoke to me thirteen years ago. It killed me to go, but I was getting sucked further and further into a criminal lifestyle. I wanted more for myself. For her. So I left for the Army, knowing she’d be better off without me. Now I’m back: a better, stronger man, and Gina has grown into a beautiful woman. One who despises me. Soon I discover that all the truths I thought I left behind had been lies, and that my leaving caused nothing but heartache and destruction. Now I have to find a way to earn the forgiveness of the woman I’m coming to love.When my boss, and fellow Dominant, assigns me to be the bodyguard to a submissive, every protective instinct inside me rises. Especially when it turns out to be Gina I’m protecting. There’s nothing I won’t do for her, including destroy the enemy who threatens us both. *This book contains sensitive subject matter that may be difficult for some readers.


The volume of the music coming from the speakers grew the closer I got, and my steps slowed. The burning in my belly amplified. Right before I entered the public space, I stopped completely, closed my eyes, and counted to ten. Then I steeled my spine and moved forward with the confidence I’d been faking for a year now. It was becoming more taxing every day, and I felt ninety-six rather than twenty-six. I scanned the room looking for my friend, boss, and fellow submissive, Bridget, but stopped short when my eyes landed on him. Leonides Xavier Marshall. A boy I loved, once upon a time, but a man I’ve hated for half my life. He turned his head, as though feeling my gaze, and his eyes collided with mine. I didn’t need to be any closer to know they were gray like the darkening sky right before a storm. As always, his stare held me hypnotized until my brain caught up, and I remembered why I shouldn’t be looking at him. About LK Shaw LK Shaw is a physical therapist assistant by day and author by night. She resides in South Carolina with her high maintenance beagle mix dog, Miss P, who should probably just have her own Instagram account. An avid reader since childhood, she became hooked on historical romance novels in high school. She now reads, and loves, all romance sub-genres, with erotic romance and romantic suspense being her favorite. LK enjoys traveling and chocolate. Her books feature hot alpha heroes and the strong women they love.
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Forbidden Eyes

Forbidden Eyes (A Cane Novel)  by Charlotte E Hart and Rachel De Lune. AVAILABLE NOW! Genre: Dark. Erotic Romance  Standalone Read #ForbiddenEyes # RachelDeLune #CharlotteEHart #ReleaseTour #BareNakedWords #EroticRomance
Synopsis “Do you want to take me?” That’s what she said to me after she stepped out of the pool, skin dripping wet, her body on display to tempt me. A simple babysitting job—that’s all it was meant to be. Show her some element of the life she’d been kept from. But she couldn’t keep her pretty mouth shut when I showed her what she asked me for, and I couldn’t keep my damned eyes off her. Sofia Vico was the one woman no one touched. Forbidden. I should have stayed away. Should have done as Quinn asked and kept her safe. But I crossed the line and broke the rules. For her. “The things I could show you.“ This started out as an act of defiance against my father—a way to finally fill in the blanks I’d lived with my whole life. But the doors to the cage I’d been kept in had suddenly been flung wide open, and I wasn’t ready for the truth waiting for me. Or for Carter Wade. He was my saviour in the dark, muddied underworld I knew nothing of. A man with skills that both frightened and aroused me. And if I thought scars and guns were the worst I’d have to face, I was wrong. Murder, kidnapping, and a family torn in two was our consequence. Yet he still risked everything, including his life. For me. Temptation. Deceit. Dark. Erotic. Romance FREE THIS WEEK ONLY Innocent Eyes
Meet The Authors
Charlotte E. Hart 
Charlotte is an Dark Erotic Suspense/Romance author living in the heart of the Shropshire countryside in Great Britain. She’s lived all over the UK, but finally settled in a small town that still reeks of old school England. Writing and poetry have become a revolution for the soul, and she cherishes every second that she’s sitting at the laptop tapping her way into a new character. “Life is a torrent of differences, different needs and wants, and it doesn’t always end that well. Yet we strive …” Most of Charlotte’s work is bdsm based and intended for mature audiences only.
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Rachel De Lune
Rachel De Lune writes emotionally driven contemporary and erotic romance. She began scribbling her stories of dominance and submission in the pages of a notebook several years ago, and still can’t resist putting pen to real paper. What ifs are turned into heartfelt stories of love where there will always be a HEA. Rachel lives in the South West of England and daydreams about shoes with red soles, lingerie and chocolate. If she’s not writing HEAs, she’s probably reading them. She is a wife and has a beautiful daughter. For every woman who’s ever desired more.
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