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With Emma Trilogy by T.L. Mahrt

Withstanding The Enemy
T.L. Mahrt
(With Emma, #1)
Publication date: January 31st 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Can Emma withstand a lifetime with her captor?

Emma Andrews was orphaned at a young age with no family to turn to. Tired of the broken foster-care system, and believing it was her only option, she runs to a multi-millionaire with a reputation of hiring young women. It is only then that she learns what real monsters look like…

Emma uses her overactive imagination to help her get through the toughest of days. By daydreaming a life full of love and freewill, she manages her colorless prison, but even in her wildest dreams, she would have never imagined it could become a reality. That is, until she meets Chance, a man willing to lay his life down to save hers.

But what Emma doesn’t expect is to fight her own personal demons—her heart.

The complete trilogy:

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Two tree-trunk arms fold around my waist and I am briskly swept up. A faceless man carries me four or five powerful strides before coming to an abrupt stop. With my hands still blocking my vision, my senses heighten, causing the smell of clean linen to waft around me. His solid chest vibrates as his unfamiliar voice tickles my ear.

“Are you all right?”

My chest rises and falls as I labor to control my breathing. It isn’t fear that has my body reacting—I know fear all too well. This is something I’m not familiar with. I can feel the energy between us—it’s powerful and dangerous like fear, but I am not afraid. This is something else entirely. As my body reacts to this new energy, it grows hotter—feverish even.

The energy intensifies as our bodies merge and he sets me down. My feet land on the icy marble floor, cooling the growing heat of my body. I hear a raspy grumble as the faceless man clears his throat and lets go of me. The warmth of his body dissipates with his release.

“Miss, are you all right?”

Cowardly, I nod my head while still hiding my flushed face in my palms.

Two firm yet gentle hands encircle my wrists, tugging to show my face. I squeeze my eyes tightly shut, desperately wishing I could disappear.

A chuckle echoes in the hallway—of what I assume to be the foyer, judging from the direction he carried me. I open my eyes to the black T-shirt, this time focusing on the hard lines of his chest. He towers over me and a pulsing sensation sizzles through the air like lightning, licking my bare skin. I stumble backward as I try to look up at him.

“Ummm,” I manage to mumble and quickly look away.

My eyes dart to the staircase in the foyer which leads to the second floor—my bedroom. The one place I can always run to. Taking another step back, I bump into an unforgivingly hard statue and lose my balance. I tumble toward the floor.

“Easy, I got you.” He catches me effortlessly. “Your name’s not Grace, is it?” He laughs as he steadies me on my feet.

“Umm, sorry … I…” My chest tightens.

“Hey, easy…” His tone reminds me of someone who is trying to calm a wild animal.

His voice eases my nerves and builds confidence within me. My eyes search for his, needing to see the kindness and tranquility I hear in his voice—something I haven’t seen for some time.

His blue-green eyes suck me into their depths, as if dragging me into the ocean with no hope of escaping. I have an overwhelming sense that the man who possesses these magnificent eyes will turn my world inside out…

There it is—fear—kicking off my fight-or-flight reaction. As if in slow motion, I twist out of his arms and bolt for the staircase. Taking two steps at a time, which is impressive with my short stature, I clear it in record time. I scurry around the corner in the direction of my safe haven without so much as a glance over my shoulder.

Author Bio:

T. L. Mahrt is a former business owner, where she utilized her education in cosmetology, barbering and massage therapy for several years. She was raised on and is currently living on a farm in Nebraska, where you can find her running barefoot in the country side with her loving husband and inspiring children and massive dogs.

After having her son, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, she made the life altering decision to stay home to care for her two children and pursue her love for writing. She has a love for romance and poetry where, her overactive imagination, along with her adventures and up beat lifestyle drives her inspiration for her writing.

T. L. Mahrt has a thirst for knowledge, and is currently working on her Bachelor of Applied Science in Communication Studies degree.

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Release Blitz

The Glass Demon

The Glass Demon by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Book 2 in the The de Chastelaine Chronicles series

Word Count: 66,464 Book Length: NOVEL Pages: 245



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Book Description

What you can’t see could kill you.

When Cecily arrives at her new home with her fiancé, Raf, she’s looking forward to a happy life with all her fears behind her. No longer a put-upon drudge, she is loved and free, ready to explore their new world.

After a summer spent battling the forces of darkness, Raf’s happy to get back to the garden of his chaotic ancestral home. There are flowers to tend and vegetables to harvest and he’s determined to create a perfect sanctuary for Cecily to call her own.

But when a demon made of glass escapes from an ancient church window, the peace of their idyllic village is shattered. Neighbour turns against neighbour, crops turn bad in the soil and flies blacken the air. As a child lingers between life and death, bewitched by the glass demon’s bite, Raf and Cecily must remind the villagers of what really matters and unite the community in a battle to send their infernal tormentor back to hell.


They’d been travelling since early that morning, and Cecily had wrapped herself up in a blanket to keep warm in Raf’s rattly Austin 7. A frost was silvering the landscape when they had set off but once the sun had pushed above the hills and its light had strengthened, the earth had emerged from under its icy crust. Cecily had never been to Yorkshire before, and certainly never to Acaster Garrow. It almost seemed like a fable whenever Raf mentioned it, and their journey from Devon had been such a long one that Cecily had been half-convinced they’d never arrive. But eventually Cecily noticed a change. Seagulls swooped overhead and the air took on a briny tang. And once they’d crested a hill, Acaster Garrow was laid out before them, as vivid as a drawing in a child’s book. Beyond the clustered white cottages and little fishing port and the pointed spire of the church was the wide-open expanse of the sea, gentle waves lapping over its surface and washing against the edge of the sandy beaches. Fishing boats bobbed on the horizon, a little welcoming committee for the returning hero and his new companion. This was her home now, a place where she would love and be loved. “Smell that fresh air,” Raf declared with a merry smile, drawing in a deep breath. Trapped in the school that had been her prison, Cecily had never seen anyone actually look happy to be home, but she knew that she was seeing it now. “And there’s the sea!” Cecily gasped. “It’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful, I’ve never seen anything so beautiful before! Where’s your house, Raf? Can we see it from here? Will you show me? Show me everything!” The car puttered to a halt and Raf peered out through the windscreen. When he turned his glittering gaze on Cecily, she felt once more that almost overwhelming surge of love for him that had become her balm and blanket, her comfort when she had thought all hope was gone. They had saved each other in so many ways. “Right, Miss Sissy Pincombe,” he said. “We can see my house plain as the nose on my admittedly handsome face. But which one could it be? What’s your guess?” Cecily sat forwards on her seat, her nose almost pressed up against the windscreen. She squinted, and as she did so her vision blurred and the village turned into a daub of colour—the many greens of the trees and grass, the grey stone and the darker grey sea. And— Cecily shot back in her seat in surprise. She opened her eyes and pointed down into the valley below them. “There—isn’t that your house? All those flowers, all those reds and purples and yellows!” A blossoming garden in the creeping autumn cool. It can only be Raf’s house. “That’s it! Our little nest. The de Chastelaine family pile!” Little? Hardly. Set a short way outside the village, with its kaleidoscope of a garden ending in the cliff edge, Cecily could see a large, rambling stone house. It was just as she had seen it in her mind when Raf had asked her to use her powers as a sensitive to picture it. It had huge chimneys and a long tree-lined drive, and although it was not more than three storeys high it was wide, which gave it an open, welcoming aspect. The curl of smoke rising from one of the chimneys put her in mind of a cosy fire and she shivered with anticipation. She was coming home. No wonder I thought it was a hotel when I pictured it. And all those flowers, and—surely it can’t be blossom, not at this time of year—but from where Cecily sat, she was certain Raf’s garden boasted fruit trees covered in white and pink fluff. A very particular sort of fruit tree, Cecily decided. And in that garden she’d plant the lavender cutting she’d brought from Devon, though it would seem a paltry little thing next to all those flowering giants. “What do you think?” Raf asked, his voice filled with the same excitement that Cecily felt at the sheer sight of the place. “It’s missing a bit of southwest lavender and a gorgeous chatelaine called Sissy, but apart from that it’s a nice old place.” “I’m in love with it already!” Cecily put her arm around Raf and rested her chin on his shoulder. “You’re such a clever gardener. How do you get your garden to look like that in the autumn?” “Transylvanian magic!” That’s probably true. Raf turned his head and kissed Cecily’s nose. “Ready to go home?” “Yes!” Cecily clapped her hands. Then she bit her lip, suddenly shy. “Sorry, darling… I don’t mean to carry on like an irritating child…” “Is that a joke? That’d better be a joke.” He reached up his hand and rested it on Cecily’s cheek. “You’ve got years and years of fun and silly and being loved to make up for. I love you, Sissy. You can be as excited as you like!” “As long as you’re sure you don’t mind?” Even if she and Raf were in love, Cecily had spent so long with a husband who had been indifferent to her at best that she still wavered. Sometimes she forgot she could be herself now, beholden to no one. Raf shook his head. Then he grinned, showing those sharp canines that were a clue to his rather unusual heritage. “You’re free. And you’re now one half of Britain’s foremost spiritual operative team. You’re a woman to be reckoned with!” Cecily sat up straighter in her seat, but she was still a little unsure. It was such a welcoming scene yet she still felt trepidation. She shouldn’t, but she could only think her unease stemmed from the prospect of being around new people in an entirely different environment from what she had known before. “And the people in Acaster Garrow, they won’t mind you’ve brought me home?” “You’re joking? They’ll probably throw a party!” With that, Raf’s car set off down the hill and they continued on the final leg of what had been a monumental journey. With Raf’s sprawling home in sight Cecily felt nothing but a wonderful sense of homecoming, of belonging in a place she had never even seen except in her mind’s eye. The few people they passed welcomed Raf with a wave or a cry of greeting or, in the case of an elderly man on a bicycle and a younger man fitting a gate to a pasture, a signal that clearly meant they were due a catch-up in the pub. “How will I ever meet everyone? And remember their names?” Cecily laughed awkwardly. “Is there a fête? Maybe I could win them over with my biscuits.” “Don’t worry about winning folk over. We’re a nice bunch,” he assured her as the car rolled to a halt before a pair of tall and elaborate wrought-iron gates. In them she saw flowers and leaves, intricate boughs on which birds perched and—Cecily smiled—from which slumbering bats hung by their toes. “If you want a fête, we’ll have a fête. Anything for my lass.” Cecily stared at the gates. Their home lay beyond. “Do you ever have garden parties? Perhaps we could throw one? I’d love to meet the people in your village.” “I love a party!” Raf climbed from the car and opened the unlocked gates before joining her again. “Shall we have a Welcome Sissy party?” “Maybe!” Cecily grinned. Up ahead she could see the roofs of Raf’s house. Their house, she reminded herself. Their vast house, in fact. Though autumn had by now taken hold of the land, the lawns on either side of the driveway were verdant and the flowers still blossomed in every colour of the rainbow. The house could have been imposing but instead it already felt homely, as welcoming as Raf’s arms. As Raf piloted them up the sweeping driveway and the house grew nearer through the trees, she was surprised she had thought it could have been a hotel when she’d first spied it from the hill above the village—it was a happy home, she could sense it. “Home at last!” The car drew to a halt and Raf finally turned the engine off. Cecily’s attention was drawn to the large door, dominated by an ornate door knocker in the shape of a single monstrous, reptilian eye. “Shall we get the kettle on?” “Please, I’m gasping!” Cecily turned to Raf with a beaming smile. Then she paused. “Is there tea? And is there anything in for dinner? I can rustle up something from tins, and maybe if you have a vegetable patch too I can pick some potatoes or carrots, and perhaps—” Cecily stopped herself. She didn’t need to be nervous about going into her own home. And she was no longer shackled to a husband who pilloried her for the tiniest housekeeping mistake. “There’s tea and there’s probably something to eat. If there isn’t we’ll nip down the pub and see what’s cooking. There’s always at least a pie,” Raf told her. This was life now, a world where there was nipping to the pub and holding parties and not worrying about every speck of dust. Raf helped Cecily from the car but this time he handed her what looked like an ancient key. “I’ll grab the bags in a bit. Captain, would you do the honours and unlock your home?” Cecily gladly took the key. When she closed her eyes a multitude of faces whirled by her as if they were on a fiendishly quick carousel, men and women, in bonnets, ruffs, cravats, tricorns and hoods, leaving their mark through the centuries. People who had once held that very same key and, like Cecily, called this house their home. She went up the low stone steps to the front door, and with one last look around her—at the large windows and the abundant garden—she put the key in the lock and turned. The old, heavy door creaked open and as it swung wide Cecily blinked at the sight of her new home. And the door knocker blinked back. Of course it didn’t. How could it? But it did. “Welcome to your new nest,” Raf announced. “I hope you’ll love it here.” “I already do, I—” Cecily glanced back at the knocker. It was unmoving, but somehow she sensed it watching her. “Where did you find that?” “Do you like him? Great-granddad a few times over got him from John Dee in a card game.” Raf closed the door. “He keeps an eye on the place.” “As long as he’s friendly!” Cecily sighed happily and leaned back against the front door, not quite able to believe that they were finally here. And almost in one piece. She glanced around the hall, unsure what to look at first. The place was bursting at the seams with what she assumed was Raf’s collection of artifacts and bric-a-brac gathered on his journeys around the world and brought back to assume a space beside the ephemera his family had left in the house before him. “You certainly have a lot of…things.” “That’s true.” He laughed. “Lots and lots of things!” “Is the whole of your house like this?” Cecily stared at an antique taxidermied owl inside a glass dome which stared back at her. Although unlike the eye on the door, it didn’t blink. “Not all of it.” Raf slipped his arms around Cecily’s waist. “Some of it’s cluttered!” The parts of the wall that Cecily could see were wood-panelled, peeping out from behind a suit of armour, what looked like flags or sailcloth, decorated shields, umbrellas, netting, scattered footwear, a brass elephant, half-unpacked tea crates, a tennis racket in need of restringing, framed portraits and landscapes in oils and watercolours, spears, a dented violin, a small Egyptian casket and objects that Cecily had never seen before in her life. Just what purpose did that ornately carved and clearly ancient stone disc have, with its square-featured face at its centre, its tongue poked out as if it didn’t appreciate her staring? Just how many generations of de Chastelaines had contributed to the array of random items in the house? Cecily planted a kiss on Raf’s cheek. “I can’t tell you how glad I am to see such a mess—it’s brilliant!” “Honest?” He widened his eyes, teasing her. “You’re not going to produce a duster and tell me to get tidying? It’s spotless though, that much I can say for sure.” “It doesn’t feel dusty, that’s true.” Cecily peered into the knight’s visor, then stepped away. This was the sort of house where someone might peer back. “That’s because of the lovely lady who takes care of me and might still be here but might’ve tactfully gone home even though she’s desperate to get a look at you.” He spun Cecily across the floor in an impromptu dance. “The house likes you!” “It feels happy here!” Cecily laughed. “And I can’t wait to meet your housekeeper either! Now, let’s see…kitchen this way? There’s a lot of joy in the kitchen, I think…” But Raf was standing very still, his nose twitching as he turned his head this way and that. For a moment Cecily’s heart leapt with trepidation, then he gave a little smile and whispered, “I smell…carbolic soap. So Mrs Hodge is here. And beer and perfume and—” He wrinkled his nose and fanned his hand in front of it. “The trawlermen’ve been gutting fish! But even I shouldn’t be able to smell that— What do you sense?” “A crowd.” Cecily reached for Raf’s hand. “Is your house very haunted? Only…there’s so many of them!” “Those aren’t ghosts!” Raf entwined his fingers with Cecily’s and together they approached a closed door. He kissed her cheek then threw the door wide open with a cry of delighted excitement. Cecily tottered back in surprise because there in front of her was a room crammed with people. Complete strangers, all cheering, waving a home-painted banner on a sheet of canvas that said WELCOME HOME!! “Erm…” Cecily grabbed Raf’s arm and tried to hide behind him, but being a few inches taller than him, she knew she must only have made herself look absurd. “Look at you, you daft whatsits!” Raf laughed as he looked at the assembled faces. “I’ve missed the lot of you!” But every gaze was on Cecily. And in those gazes she saw such happiness, such joy, that it tugged at her heart. They weren’t judging her or sizing her up—this gathering was a welcome for her as much as for their returning hero. Cecily gave the crowd a tentative wave. There were women in their housecoats, fishermen in their smocks, one or two ladies in coats with fur collars and one or two gents in pinstripes, the milkman, and men in their battered best clothes, children balanced on hips and—last but not least—a vicar. Cecily stood self-consciously on the old, uneven flagstones in her new heeled shoes, trying her best not to look as gawky and awkward as she felt. “Hello, everyone,” she said. “This is Miss Cecily Pincombe,” Raf told them. “My business partner. And my sweetheart, in case any of you saucy Yorkshiremen are plotting a wooing!” Raf was met with laughter from some quarters and knowing looks from others. “Pleased to meet you.” Cecily executed a careful curtsey and someone cooed an awww. As she straightened up a woman stepped forwards and gave a little curtsey of her own. As plump as a pudding and even shorter than Raf, the lady wore a coat and neat hat upon which a rather fancy collection of fruit was perched. Fresh fruit, Cecily realised. “Mrs Hodge!” Raf threw his arm around the lady. “Sissy, this is Mrs H, the world’s finest housekeeper. Mrs H, this is Sissy, the de Chastelaine chatelaine!” “I’ve heard so much about you, Mrs Hodge.” Cecily tried to still her nervous tremble as she held out her hand to Raf’s housekeeper. But she didn’t sense any animosity in Mrs Hodge, just warm kindness. “Call me June,” Mrs Hodge said in rather proper tones, as though she were addressing a senior member of the royal family. “And don’t listen to anything that one tells you about me, he’s full of mischief.” “I had noticed!” Cecily grinned at Raf. “I do hope you won’t change anything with me being here—I would hate to spoil your routine. I like to bake but I won’t get in your way, and I’m very tidy. I always clear up after myself, I promise.” “Ha! Good luck with tidy and Rafael in the house!” But the look on her face was nothing but affectionate indulgence and she shook her head. “Well, you’re welcome here, love. You don’t worry about my routine, I’ll fit in with you. The larder’s stocked with enough to feed an army—or one Rafael. And if he’s told you he’s no good in the kitchen, he’s not lying. Happen it’s time you had a few lessons, young man, Miss Pincombe hasn’t come here to wait on you!” “Dad said this would happen. Ladies gang up, he told me!” Raf laughed, earning a supportive nod from the men in the room. “I see it all now!” “Well, I’m glad to see you back, lad, and with such a lovely girl on your arm,” Mrs Hodge replied, having clearly forgotten her theatrical voice in favour of a rather more natural Yorkshire one. “We’ve all been wondering about the pair of you!” “Raf’s been looking after me,” Cecily told her. “And he had a scrape, but—all’s well. All’s very well.” “And your father’s written this very morning,” Mrs Hodge said. “He’s in Morocco of all places, says to tell you he’ll be home after Christmas and he’ll call in to meet his lovely new daughter-in-law to be.” Cecily heard someone clear his throat close beside her and she glanced up to see the vicar. Now he had approached and beyond his dog collar, she could see he bore a striking resemblance to Raf. He had the same bright blue eyes and dark hair, the same small stature. But unlike Raf, Michael’s hair was tidied and pomaded, and there was something of the cloisters about him, as if he rarely went outside. “Reverend Michael!” He nodded. “Welcome to the village, Miss Pincombe. And my dear brother, home again!” Michael clasped Raf in a tight hug and a stream of quick Romanian filled the air. As they parted Raf took his brother’s face in his hands and kissed him once on either cheek. A look passed between them, as though Michael was checking that his brother really was safely returned to him. He alone knew the full story of what had happened on that last night at Whitmore Hall, of the vines and the devil who had lurked among them. Cecily knew that Michael alone shared the secrets of the Hall because she had taken down Raf’s letter for him, saving him the struggle with penmanship that his word blindness presented. “Home at last,” Raf told him with a beaming smile. “And in one piece.” “My prayers have been answered,” Michael said, his accent devoid of Raf’s Romanian twang. He sounded like some of the teachers Cecily had known at Whitmore Hall. “You look well after that long journey of yours, both of you.” “We travelled the scenic route,” Raf admitted. It had been a scenic route that included a good many cosy inns and comfortable beds. “Sissy, this is Mike! I know you know that, but I’m doing things sort of properly.” “Welcome to the family.” Michael gave Cecily an assessing glance. Then he whispered something to Raf. ‘What a lovely lass.’ “Lass? I’m a lass?” Cecily chuckled. She’d picked up Raf’s thoughts again, like hearing a distant voice through static on the wireless. Michael glanced at Raf, surprised and somewhat flustered. “Erm… That is to say, a lovely lady…” “My lass. With…serious hearing skills. You don’t even have to speak and she hears it.” Raf put his arm around Cecily’s waist, but she knew there was nothing but love in his tease. Her late husband had believed her to be his possession. To Rafael de Chastelaine, the dhampir with Transylvanian and Yorkshire blood in his veins, she was an equal. “Where’s Mim?” “Mim? She’s elbow-deep in her Women’s Institute jam-making,” Michael said. He clasped his hands together, a pious gesture which Cecily supposed came second nature to him, given his calling. “She sends her best, and she’ll be over to say hello later. And bring some jam, too. She makes excellent jam, Miss Pincombe.” “Please call me Cecily.” Michael nodded. “Then I will—Cecily.” “Give her our best.” Raf grinned and Cecily realised that his brother didn’t have the teeth. Only normal teeth. “I’m sure you’ll be nipping up to sample her jam!” “I shall indeed, but—now look, will I be reading the banns on Sunday? Mim has been talking about doing your wedding flowers, but you haven’t mentioned a date…” Michael’s hands were still clasped, his voice still gentle, but his knuckles had whitened. He raised an expectant eyebrow and glanced back and forth between Cecily and Raf. “Just like a vicar!” laughed a tall, wiry man with a luxuriant black beard as he slapped his hand on the reverend’s shoulder. He looked like a fisherman, Cecily decided, in his cap and sweater. “Let’s have a party first and talk weddings later!” A cheer went up around the kitchen and Raf told his brother, “Don’t you fret, vicar, we’ll be good!” As drinks were poured and cake sliced, Cecily smiled and said hello and tried to remember everyone’s names, but she heard Michael’s voice through the hubbub as he said to Raf, “And you’ll come to the church as soon as you can? I don’t mean for a wedding. It’s just that there’s something I need you to see.” “Is it an important something?” Raf took a sip from his bottle of dark brown ale. “A tomorrow something or a today something?” Michael leaned closer to Raf and whispered, rather loudly, “Today. I had no wish to worry you during your convalescence, but…there’s something rather bad, I fear, in my church, and that’ll never do.” Raf glanced back at Cecily and smiled, but she knew him well enough to know that he would go. And she would love him all the more for it. “Then I’ll come over later. What time will you be there?” Michael took his watch from his waistcoat pocket and tapped the face. “Six o’clock.” “Whatever it is, we’ll sort it,” Raf promised him. He patted Michael’s arm. “Don’t worry.” Michael spoke to him in Romanian again, a farewell, Cecily supposed. He waved to her as he hurried out of the kitchen and was gone. Before Cecily could say anything to Raf, she had a glass in one hand and a plate of cake in the other and Mrs Hodge was introducing her to everyone. Raf was never far away from her in the kitchen, just as he had stayed close as they journeyed from the south-west to the far-flung North Yorkshire coast. Not watching and policing, but simply being near. They had become bound to each other in the most wonderful way, lovers, in love, dipping into shops and restaurants, hotels and guest houses on their adventure, not so much learning to be a couple as discovering that it was simply an instinct. And sometimes, when Cecily was least expecting it, a little bat would swoop down and sit on her shoulder.

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About the Authors

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s. Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking. You can follow Eleanor on Facebook and Twitter

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House. Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill. You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Twitter and take a look at her Website.


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Blue Guard Hearts

Hell’s Fury MC: Blue (Guarded Hearts Book 9) by USA Today Bestselling Authors Claire Marta and Nia Farrell

Cover Design by Crystal Visions

Release Date August 8, 2021

Amazon Universal Link Amazon US Amazon UK Goodreads Guarded Hearts Series Pinterest Board


When Blue is ripped out of the only world she’s ever known by the Hell’s Fury MC, she’s anything but grateful. For years, she and her twin Romulus have been forced to fight underground matches for the Death’s Head MC. Suspicious of the men who rescued her from their abusive handlers, the she-wolf shifter thinks the bikers are after something. Especially the tall, dark, handsome one with heat-filled eyes who can’t seem to leave her alone.

Maverick has observed the beautiful warrior every fight he’s seen her in. After rescuing her from captivity, he discovers a woman filled with distrust and hidden pain. When an intimate encounter triggered by her wolf side forges an unexpected bond between them, he recognizes too late that Blue is his fated mate.

The trouble is, Blue wants nothing to do with him. Hoping to win her over, Maverick intends to rescue Romulus after his next fight. He doesn’t know that Blue intends to free her twin brother sooner. With trouble brewing, it will take more than a prayer to come out alive.

Hell’s Fury MC: Blue is an enemies-to-lovers MC romance with adult situations and potential triggers, written for Ages 18+.

Guarded Hearts Season One features The Order of the Phoenix. Season Two features members of The Order of the Dragon, Hell’s Fury MC, who appear as secondary characters in Season One. This book can be read as a standalone, but your reading pleasure will be enhanced if you’ve read the first two books of Season Two, Dangerous Curves and Rory.

BOOKS IN GUARDED HEARTS SEASON ONE: Morgan (#1) Casey (#2) Voted one of The 50 Best Indie Books of 2020. Raven (#3) Riley (#4) Darcy (#5) Sam (#6) Ash (#7)

BOOKS IN GUARDED HEARTS SEASON TWO/HELL’S FURY MC: Hell’s Fury MC: Dangerous Curves (#7.5 prequel) Hell’s Fury MC: Rory (#8)

Hell’s Fury MC: Blue (#9) (8 Aug 2021)


Release Blitz

Against A Rising Tide

Against a Rising Tide By Samantha Cayto

General Release Date: 29th June 2021

Word Count: 54,881 Book Length: NOVEL Pages: 194



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Book Description

Love always finds a way. Scott, a Navy SEAL, returns to his childhood beach house to deal with the emotional trauma of his latest mission. When a sniper killed his closest friend, Scott was left dealing with survivor’s guilt and the disturbing feeling that his friend meant more to him. He has always identified as strictly straight, attraction to men being something he has ruthlessly suppressed. When he finds Kitt, a friend of his sister’s, hiding out from his abusive boyfriend, Scott is once again drawn to someone of his own gender. Although annoyed at the intrusion, Scott also instantly develops an interest in his unwanted houseguest. Keeping his distance is proving to be impossible and his growing desire for Kitt cannot be ignored. Forced to leave home, Kitt entered into a relationship with a man who turned abusive. Having finally found the courage to escape, the last thing he wants or needs is another alpha male invading his space. But having nowhere else to go, he ends up staying with a man who disturbs him in more ways than one. As scary as the SEAL is, Scott is exactly the type of man Kitt dreams about. The beach house is small, and the two men cannot avoid one another or the attraction between them. With each passing day, their bond grows stronger. Hesitation slowly gives way to passion. They need to trust their feelings and let go of the things that frighten them, to find safety and solace in each other. Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, attempted murder, stalking, PTSD and references to death in a war zone, abusive parents and relationship abuse.


By the time Scott reached the beach house, visions of falling face-down in his bed swam before his eyes. He really should have checked into one of the airport hotels for the night instead of renting a car and heading north. But the driving need for solitude had overridden his better judgment. Even arriving in Boston at o-dark-thirty hadn’t thinned the crowds of people enough to satisfy his jangled nerves. He needed quiet and the mental space that came from being utterly alone to get his head screwed back on right. Otherwise, his time in the SEAL Teams would come to an end. The mere thought of having to leave his Naval career was intolerable to him. He took a moment as he exited his rental SUV to simply stand and stare out over the ocean. The sun was just rising above the rippling blue-green water, washing the horizon in tones of red and orange. Seagulls screeched in their staccato fashion, as if they were in a constant state of agitation. He welcomed the familiar sound of their mindless scolding. The crash of waves against the rocky shore told him the tide was coming in. He took in a deep breath of salty air tinged with a hint of clam flats and smiled. All the joy of his childhood filled the aching hole that had formed in the middle of his chest. Coming here had been the right call. This was where he needed to be. His exhaustion momentarily abated, Scott grabbed his duffel bag from the back of the SUV and walked up the stone path to the front door. There was no need to lock his vehicle, not in the low-crime town of Sewall, Massachusetts. It was barely more than a spit of rocky land and had never developed the cachet of its neighbors like Rockport as a fashionable seaside town. It attracted no one other than the dedicated perennial vacationer and was the perfect place to hide away for a while without fear of disturbance. His sister wouldn’t haul her brood up from the suburbs of Boston until August. He could be sure of having the place all to himself…to be alone. Safe. No, where had that thought come from? He was a SEAL, for God’s sake. There was nowhere on Earth that he didn’t feel as if he could protect himself. And he understood better than most that death was always lurking around, regardless. One only had to be ready to face it. Defeat it. If necessary, accept it when options had truly run out, but only after fighting to the very last breath. He took in another deep lungful of brisk ocean air with that last thought, irritated at his dark, almost defeatist attitude. I need sleep. That’s all. Scott almost sprinted to the seafoam green door, fumbled with the keys to open it and stepped inside the cool, quiet house of his childhood…that was not empty. He froze inside the doorway and stared at the vision that greeted him. His mind did all kinds of acrobatics as he tried to make sense of what he saw. With the open floorplan of the first floor, he had a clear view of a naked woman standing in the kitchen. She was reaching up to a shelf filled with bowls, her toned arm stretched high. A curtain of long, dark hair swung below her shoulder blades, catching his attention. He followed the movement past the tapered ends, down a slender back of creamy skin accentuated by some kind of colorful tramp-stamp. The tattoo skimmed a high, tight ass that held his gaze like a magnet. His overtired brain popped and snapped with a sudden spark of need. As exhausted as he was, his body came alive, desire shooting through him to pool in his groin. Even as an involuntary grunt passed his lips, the more rational part of his mind took over. It was trying to put on the brakes because something was off. The woman’s hips were too straight, and her shoulders were a bit broad. As the pieces clicked into place, the beach house inhabitant whirled around with a sharp inhalation. Now, the cock and balls of the man came literally swinging into view. Scott’s own cock was caught between hardening and deflating again. He could feel it waging a war inside his worn jeans for a few seconds before it gave up in a semi-hard state that he ignored. Nothing to see here, folks. It was the other man’s reaction that caught and held his focus. Across the large expanse, there was visible fear in the dark eyes staring back at him. And the guy did nothing to hide his genitals. Instead, one hand had flown to the base of his throat in a clear defensive gesture. He whipped the other up to hold against his left cheek. But the quickness of the move hadn’t stopped Scott from seeing a livid bruise that marred the pretty skin there. “Who?” The young man blinked at him for a few seconds, breathing quickly, before he visibly relaxed. “Oh, you’re Karen’s brother, aren’t you?” Although he dropped the one hand from his throat, he didn’t let go of his cheek entirely. Instead, he carded his fingers through his hair, letting the strands hide that half of his face. “She said you were overseas.” “I was.” Scott stepped fully into the house and shut the door behind him before setting his duffel on the floor. He was careful to keep his movements slow. He’d dealt with petrified villagers plenty of times and knew he had to prove that he wasn’t a danger to them. Build trust. While he was at a loss as to why exactly, he could sense this man needed the same kind of consideration. “I just got back and have two weeks’ leave.” Not that it had been his idea. “Take the time, Carpenter. There’s no shame in needing it after what you’ve been through.” “Yes, sir.” He’d known an order when he’d been given one, but he still felt some guilt about lying around on a beach while others were out there fighting on his behalf. He pushed those thoughts aside to deal with the more pressing matter. Before he could ask the who, what and why, the naked man was talking again. “I guess Karen didn’t know that. She said I could stay here until she comes up with her kids.” He dropped his gaze, while still tugging at his hair in nervous fashion. Scott approached the kitchen area, again keeping his movements slow and non-threatening. “I was going to call her later.” He stopped and hooked his thumbs in his front pockets. “I’m sorry. You have me at a disadvantage. Do I know you?” The young man flashed his gaze at him before skittering it away. Now that he was closer, Scott could see that his eyes weren’t entirely brown. There was a hint of green there as well. Hazel, he supposed, although he’d never given much thought to eye color before. He forced himself to focus on them, however, because the alternative was to stare farther south. There was a temptation to sneak peeks at parts of the man’s body. He’d always studiously avoided that urge before. He saw more naked men than he did women, that was for sure, and in a military environment where privacy was non-existent, one had to be respectful. Inside a quaint New England house, with the muted dawn shining through the window, making everything soft and almost romantic, the nudity was harder to ignore. “I’m Kitt Tyler.” Scott’s attention was tugged back to Kitt’s face—although really, to his lips. He couldn’t help noticing how plump and pink they were. ‘Generous’ was the word that came to mind, like those of old-time movie starlets—the type of mouth that combat men dreamed of kissing as they lay in their makeshift beds. It was what got them up again, fighting for their country. That observation startled him even more. What the hell is my problem? Exhaustion, that was all. What he needed was a solid eight horizontal hours uninterrupted, and that wasn’t going to happen until he wrapped up this unexpected meet-and-greet. “You’re a friend of Karen’s?” Kind of a dumb question. Kitt gnawed briefly at his lower lip, once again drawing Scott’s unwilling attention to that spot. “Yeah, I am, but also her hairdresser. I mean, that’s how we first met, and we’ve become friends, too. You know?” No, Scott didn’t…at all. The last thing he and his sister ever talked about was hair styling, although she always looked great. He knew that she prided herself on being elegant and fashionable for her job as a publisher for some glossy, high-end magazine. She had him on her subscription list, which was sweet, except it all went straight into his trash. What did he care about trendy places to eat in Boston and the best store for thousand-thread-count sheets? “Anyway,” the guy continued, still playing with his hair and darting his gaze around. “She has like a million pictures of you at home, so I recognized you straight off.” Not exactly true. For a moment, when he’d turned and caught sight of Scott, Kitt had obviously been afraid. Of what? Scott wondered. Or rather…whom? Scott ran a hand over his head. The need for sleep was overtaking his initial and visceral reaction to this unexpected guest. “I’m sure she’s bored you to tears with stories about me, too.” His sister was proud of his service, although he feared that she’d put him on a pedestal he didn’t deserve, certainly not after this last deployment. A ghost of a smile graced Kitt’s lips. That was the moment when it hit Scott that this young man was utterly gorgeous—at a he-could-be-a-model level. Although, he was probably too short for that profession. He was about five-seven, just the right height to tuck into Scott’s shoulder. The new observations sent his brain into another unwanted spasm of discord. “She has a bit, but I think it’s great how close you two are.” Releasing his hold on his hair, Kitt fluttered his hands and shifted his feet. “Anyway, I’ll pack up and get out of your way. It, um, might take a while for me to get a Lyft driver to come here this early, though. I hope that’s okay.” “You don’t have a car?” Another stupid question. The driveway had been empty when he’d pulled up. “No. Um, no.” Kitt stared at the floor again. Scott could see the distress in the guy’s posture and read it in his expression. He knew when someone was afraid, nervous or angry, even when they tried to hide it from him. He could tell when they were lying about something. Kitt Tyler wasn’t merely a friend of his sister who needed a free summer vacation. There was more to it than that, and given the guy’s skittishness and that bruise on his cheek, Scott could make an educated guess what that more was. For the moment, however, he was incapable of any further rational thought. He needed that eight hours, then he’d deal with the situation. “Look,” he said, repressing a yawn. “I’ve been awake for over forty-eight hours straight. I’m going upstairs to get some sleep. No need for you to leave yet. We’ll talk later.” Kitt’s relief was easy to see. Still, he said, “Are you sure?” “Absolutely.” Scott turned to retrieve his duffel bag from by the door. “Oh, I should get dressed now so that I don’t disturb you.” Too late on that score. “I can sleep through anything, but thanks.” He made himself not watch as Kitt flitted up the stairs. He didn’t rush when he followed, either, so that he wouldn’t see any more of that undeniably tantalizing flesh. His plan worked. By the time he’d reached the second floor, his sister’s guest had disappeared into the far back room. The sounds of a drawer opening and closing drifted down the narrow hallway. Scott bit back a groan when he realized that Kitt had taken his usual room. That thought had barely formed before the guy popped back out, wearing crotch-hugging cut-off jeans and a tight white crop top. The clothing wasn’t much better than the nudity had been at hiding the guy’s fit physique. Oh, and bonus, now that Scott wasn’t studiously averting his gaze, he could see a belly button ring winking from the flat stomach. “I took one of the kid’s rooms, if that’s okay?” Kitt looked impossibly young himself. What was the minimum age to be a hairdresser, eighteen? The guy must be straight out of school. Scott didn’t bother to correct him. Visions of Kitt lying in Scott’s bed were already creeping into his brain. Instead, he waved the issue away and turned into what had been his parents’ old room. Karen and her husband used it now, but she obviously wasn’t coming up any time soon. He may as well bed down in it. He kicked the door shut with more force than he’d intended, but the lure of the big brass bed was irresistible. Stumbling toward it, he did as he’d dreamed of for hours—fell face-down onto the quilt his grandmother had made. He had just enough brainpower left to kick off his sneakers before giving in to the pull of sleep. His last thought, however, was of the pretty boy at the end of the hall, silhouetted by the glint of the rising sun.

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About the Author

Samantha Cayto

Samantha Cayto is a Boston-area native who practices as a business lawyer by day while writing erotic romance at night—the steamier the better. She likes to push the envelope when it comes to writing about passion and is delighted other women agree that guy-on-guy sex is the hottest ever. She lives a typical suburban life with her husband, three kids and four dogs. Her children don’t understand why they can’t read what she writes, but her husband is always willing to lend her a hand—and anything else—when she needs to choreograph a scene.


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Back Home to You by Maggie Wild

Back Home to You
Maggie Wild
(Hope Valley, #2)
Publication date: June 30th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

She’s desperate to get her life straight. He’s struggling to stay true to his dreams. Together, can they whip up the recipe for happily ever after?

Harriet “Harry” Belmont feels like a total failure. Returning from San Francisco to England to care for her grandmother after being fired and discovering her boyfriend is married, she’s determined to turn a mess into something vaguely positive. But when her woeful cooking skills send her gran’s dinner up in smoke, the big-city refugee is stunned when the man who jumps to her rescue is a handsome old flame.

Jamie Forrest’s love of culinary creations has come back to bite him. Though the small-town chef loves the meal-kit business he built to help others, it’s become so successful he no longer has time to spend in the kitchen. But his stress multiplies exponentially when the woman he saves from a food-prep disaster turns out to be his gorgeous childhood sweetheart.

As Harry’s forgotten feelings resurface, she’s torn between helping him open his dream restaurant and fleeing back to the life she promised she’d never sacrifice for a man. And though Jamie realizes he never got over her, he’s terrified that if he lets her in, she’ll just break his heart again.

Can the reunited friends find a way to put love on the menu?

Back Home to You is the charming second book in the Hope Valley contemporary romance series. If you like feisty females, kindhearted men, and wry humor, then you’ll adore Maggie Wild’s sweet tale.

Read Back Home to You to order up affection today!

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“Dance?” Jamie said, holding out his hand.

Harry glanced at Nicki, who raised her eyebrow. “I’d take him up on the offer if I were you. You might not get a second chance.” She winked at Harry, raised her empty champagne glass, and headed for the bar.

Harry took Jamie’s hand. Her fingers prickled when she touched his, clicking on a memory she’d long since stored away: his touch. The feeling of taking the hand of someone special.

“What was Nicki talking your ear off about?” Jamie asked as he led her to the floor.

Harry smiled to herself. “Just life,” she said, and started to dance.

The band played every song from Harry’s youth. She and Jamie danced and sang words she didn’t know she remembered. Harry pulled out dance moves she hadn’t used for decades, and Jamie mirrored her like they’d been dancing that way forever. By the time the band slowed things down, Harry’s feet were on fire and her dress stuck to the moisture in the middle of her back. Jamie’s hair stuck up in damp spikes. At some point, he’d undone another button on his shirt.

“To all the lovers out there,” the singer said, her voice breathy. “We’re available for weddings.”

The crowd laughed and as the band played the opening notes of a familiar ballad, couples paired up, others left the floor, and people who’d been sitting on the sidelines suddenly found themselves pulled to their feet and led onto the dance floor. Harry made a show of looking tired. She ought to sit this one out. It was one thing to boogie the night away with Jamie, to laugh at one another’s moves, to have fun. But slow dances always meant something, and Harry didn’t want to send the wrong message. “Drink?” she asked.

Jamie took her hand and Harry was relieved he felt the same way and was leading her from the floor. But he didn’t. He held out his hands and took Harry’s. He smiled. That smile. And when he invited Harry into his arms, she went.

Jamie’s hands wrapped around her waist, and Harry’s body moved in time with his, and when she rested her head on his shoulder, her senses relaxed with the familiar scent of somewhere she belonged.

It felt like being home.

Author Bio:

Maggie Wild lives in California Wine Country with her own Mr. Right and a small collection of furry friends. A native of Yorkshire, England, she returns “home” every day through her fictional worlds. When not writing her fun, contemporary romance stories, she loves to watch the birds in her garden and hike through the local redwoods. Learn more at

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Destined Predator

Destined Predator by Bailey Bradford

Book 2 in the Wild Ones series

Word Count: 46,821 Book Length: SHORT NOVEL Pages: 189



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Book Description

Never in his wildest dreams. Rhett Tucker, a rough, tough, meat-and-potatoes Wyoming rancher, has just about accepted that shifters exist. His little brother Jack is now mated to one, Ben, whose family are the only coywolf—wolf-coyote hybrids—shifters in existence. Rhett’s also accepted the fact that he’s gay, even if he’s never been with a guy. What he can’t deal with is Ben’s big brother, the swaggering, dominating, permanently smirking Casey. The head of the Akers pack might be their alpha, but he’s not Rhett’s and never will be. Casey has never met a challenge he didn’t leap at, and he sure wants to jump the handsome rancher’s bones. He sees that under all the bluster, Rhett yearns to submit, and Casey’s more than happy to fulfil Rhett’s needs…when the stubborn man’s ready to admit to them. But when both humans and coywolves are under attack, there’s no time for Rhett and Casey to do anything but join forces to find out if the inter-shifter battles are starting up again, or if the pack and the Double T Ranch are facing a new and deadly enemy. One thing’s for sure—any relationship between Rhett and Casey is gonna be wild.


Man. Rhett Tucker, co-owner and boss of Wyoming’s Double T ranch, stared at his reflection in the shaving mirror. He bobbed down to his right, so his face showed in the corner with the splintered crack. He blinked, then studied his altered image, seeing his strong jaw elongated to exaggerated proportions and, when he ducked lower still, how his hazel eyes fractured and his short dark hair looked long and bushy, like a pelt. Monster. No. That wasn’t right. Wasn’t fair. Beast. He closed his eyes, but it didn’t stop him seeing beasts, the coyote and wolf shifters who’d fought a turf war on Double T land, or the biggest beast of all of them, the one his foreman Ernesto had turned into. A terrifying, giant wolf-demon hybrid out of a nightmare who’d slayed and slaughtered— Nope, not going there. Tucker bent from the mirror to the sink so he could scoop water onto his face, splashing at any leftover shaving foam then patting with a towel to remove the last traces. He even wiped behind his ears and wriggled the corner of the towel into them, first one, then the other. Go with cologne? He did have a bottle, and it was a scent he liked, but it’d been a present from his ex-girlfriend, Olivia, and it felt plain wrong to wear it on a date with someone else. Rhett straightened his shirt—he should have ironed it. “Bathroom steam never works,” he reminded himself, needing to fill the silence. The sound of his voice didn’t work to plug the gap, and he circled back to what had been consuming him since he’d found out…that shifters existed. He prided himself on being a plain-thinking rancher like his father, one who believed in what he could see and touch, like his land, or his cattle. And now, that included people who turned into animals. Who were animals. Some were murderous, terrifying monsters, and some were, if not angels, then more on the side of good as they went about their lives. Oh, and his brother had fallen hard and fast for one. And if I can’t handle that, I’ll lose my little brother. The thought of losing Jack made Rhett’s hands tremble as he tossed the wet towels into the hamper. His chest seized, making him sit on the edge of the tub to catch his breath. He’d accept anything he had to if it meant keeping Jack in his life. They’d only just started growing closer as brothers recently, when Jack had come home after years of them barely staying in touch because he’d lived and worked in New York City. Rhett wasn’t going to mess up again and let Jack get hurt—not by him, and not by anyone else. I won’t fail him this time, like I did before because I didn’t want to tell him the truth about myself. Because I didn’t want to accept it, either. Before he could continue his silent castigation, laughter rang out in the hallway, and the bright, joyful sound went a long way to drowning Rhett’s fears. Hearing Jack so happy was worth anything. Even the scariest monsters in the world couldn’t have kept Rhett from leaving the bathroom so he could see his brother smiling, eyes crinkled at the corners, his mouth in a wide grin, arms around his boyfriend, Ben. Ben the coywolf shifter. It didn’t matter if Ben was a shifter, not when he was looking at Jack the same way Jack looked at him. Only thing I can do is plow through my fears—or bury ’em as deep as possible. Jack deserved that, and maybe, although Rhett didn’t know him well, Ben did, too. That was what he wanted to believe, anyhow. “Hey, Rhett.” Ben gave him a nod before pulling a face at Jack. “Oh, what’s your brother gonna think, huh? Him all neat and tidy like that and look at you, with your JBF’d hair.” He knuckled into Jack’s messy head. Jack snorted and wiggled his butt. “I’ve got a JBF’d something all right, and it isn’t my hair.” “Jacky-boy, behave!” Ben pretended to fan himself. “You’ll have your big brother blushing.” “Maybe you should be the one blushing,” Rhett replied, standing his ground as he always did, even in this new situation. “If it’s done right, ya can’t walk for days, and here’s Jack looking ready to go line dancing at Bard’s Saloon, so…” He looked Ben up and down, pursing his lips in concern as fake as Ben’s shock of a moment ago. “I’d hate to think you weren’t treating Jack right.” “Hey!” Ben’s indignation sounded more genuine now, and he pouted when Jack started chuckling, glared when Rhett sniggered too, then joined in. Rhett didn’t know which of them laughed the loudest, but by the time he’d gotten his amusement under control, his sides ached, and he was shaking his head. “Aw, man. Y’all are something else.” He went to walk off. “Rhett.” Jack calling his name stopped him. “You doing okay there?” Jack asked. They might not have been close in recent years, but they’d grown up together and each was hard to fool. “I…” Rhett chewed on his bottom lip a second. “Got some stuff spinning my gears up here.” He tapped his head. Ben gave him a cool look from where he stood so close to Jack that Rhett couldn’t have swiped a credit card between them. “Stuff like wanting reality to go back to the way it used to be?” As life should be for a solid, no-frills Wyoming son of the soil who didn’t believe in mumbo-jumbo. Well, that was the question he’d already answered for himself before he’d left the bathroom. Rhett hitched his thumbs through his belt loops and tipped his head back to look down at Ben, slow and easy. “I wouldn’t change anything about this world that makes my brother light up like he does around you.” “Aww.” Jack’s eyes teared up and he hugged Rhett and, after a second, another pair of arms snaked around them—Ben joining in, too. It took a few seconds, but Rhett relaxed into the group huddle. Well now. How ’bout that. Ben was the first to pull away. “I have to go. We got a pack run scheduled.” “Can’t keep your alpha waiting,” Jack replied. “Yeah, just like your big brother’s word is law too.” Ben wrapped a hand around Jack’s neck to bring him in for a smacking kiss. He slapped Jack’s ass then strolled down the short corridor to the front door, touching the first two fingers of his right hand to his forehead in salute as he went. The lame joke barely registered with Rhett. His mind was busy thinking about Ben’s oldest brother and alpha of the Akers coywolf pack. Casey. That perma-smirking, cocky, swaggering— Taking in a deep breath, Rhett wrenched himself back to the here and now. “Hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave,” Jack called after Ben, tilting his head to take in Ben’s rear view, then laughing when Ben slapped his own ass and made a sizzling noise. Ben didn’t close the door properly after him—Rhett had been meaning to plane it a little smoother, to stop it sticking—so Rhett walked over, intending to close it. Instead, he pushed the door open wider to get some air, never mind that he’d been outdoors all day. Jack joined him, leaning against the other side of the jamb like they were bookends. “You really okay?” he asked, side-eyeing Rhett. “’S’okay not to be, after all…that.” “That,” Rhett echoed, looking out over Double T land. “’S’funny—when I run into something new to handle on the ranch, I ask myself, ‘What would Pa do?’ and I usually find the answer, the way forward, you know? Only for ‘that’, well, I got no idea what he would do.” “I didn’t know him as well as you did,” Jack replied, his words coming slowly. “And I guess I’ve learned more about him since coming back, if not from you, then from people’s stories and memories, here or in town. But I don’t think he’d have known what to do if he discovered shifters existed and that his younger son is destined mate to one of ’em.” “Y’all might jus’ have the right of it there, son,” said Rhett, his impersonation of Chauncey Tucker’s measured, guarded speech so accurate that it set them both laughing again. Jack twisted around and took one of the framed photos off the hall table. “I swear, you hold this up in front of your face when you do that, we’d fool anyone he’s still around!” “Ah reckon we abou’ might,” Rhett couldn’t resist saying, Chauncey-style, as he took the picture to return it to the table. He studied it. He looked like Chauncey—no-time-to-fuss short dark hair and a big and burly frame, although his eyes were a hazel blend of his pa’s brown and his mom’s green—and was like him, too, in his focus on the ranch and the land. “I’m more like Mom.” Jack followed Rhett’s line of sight to where the portrait of Lorraine Channing Tucker gazed down at them from the wall. True, he had her large, dark-lashed green eyes and more delicate bone structure. Lorraine had been a beauty, with her high cheekbones and wide, full mouth, and Jack shared those, too. Jack had always liked the formal-looking painting of Mom, in a silk evening dress she rarely had occasion to wear. Remembering how as a kid, Jack had used to exclaim “Portrait pose!” whenever Mom happened to be half-turned away and looking back at him, the same position she’d been put into for her painting, made Rhett laugh. Seeing the expression Jack wore now, as he gazed at one of the last photos of Chauncey and Lorraine together on their wedding anniversary, Rhett knew he was wishing he’d been able to tell them he was gay. Jack had spoken of it before. “Hey.” He got his younger brother’s attention. “I reckon they’d be glad you found someone. I know I am. And I’ll say it one more time for the folks at the back—there’s always a place for you here at the Double T. Heck, you own half the Double T!” “Even if I know more about ranch dressing than ranch work?” “Thought you worked in an office in New York City, not a restaurant. Like, publishing, not fast food?” Rhett joked. “And you know, that’s something we could think about. I was wondering about getting the admin side of things more up to date here— Oh, sure, go ahead. Laugh it up, kid.” “’S’hard not to, when I think what passes for a ‘system’ in that home office back there!” Jack wiped his eyes. “If it’s Monday, you move the pile of papers to the back of the desk. Tuesday, to the table beside the desk. Wednesday, the chair halfway between the table and the filing cabinet. And by Friday—” “By Friday I’m kicking your ass.” Rhett grinned, too. “Tryin’ to.” Jack folded his arms. “But yeah, the office processes need streamlining. And not just the office. I got interested in data management—well, data science, or even data technology, really—and I’ve been havin’ some ideas for using it for the cattle, too.” “That so? Like what? Putting a jumbotron in the far pasture to show the herd movies? Or giving each cow a cell phone, get ’em to take selfies, maybe set ’em up with an Instagram account? You wanna solve our ‘social media problem’ that way?” Rhett bent to see in the mirror, to give a final brush to his hair, and raised an eyebrow at his brother’s reflection behind him. “Hey, neat idea—pretty pictures of cows in costumes and us dressed as cowboys in chaps… Hmm…” Jack couldn’t keep up the joke. “No. Tagging each cow with an electronic ID that stores all their info, to make herd management more efficient. It’s just something I was reading about.” Jack looked from the carriage clock on the hall table to his watch. “Hey. You wouldn’t be stalling there, would you, big bro? Seeing as how tonight’s your first date…with a guy?” “No.” Rhett tweaked his sheepskin jacket from the coat stand and put it on. “I’m ready, see?” Well, he was the ‘dressed clean and tidy’ part of ready, and hoping to meet a nice guy, even if he didn’t think he’d ever be ‘ready’ for it. “It’s a big step.” Jack nodded. “You want some pointers, bro?” “Jack, I never wanna see your pointer. Ev-er,” Rhett emphasized, quitting the house. He was glad Jack walked him to his truck, although he could have done without the “Make me proud!” and “Make it happen!” that his one-hundred-percent certified brat of a little brother hollered after him as he drove away. Rhett fiddled with the radio, getting it to his favorite classic rock station in time to catch a group suggesting he “take it easy”. Good advice. That was followed by “one for the oldies,” a classic country song telling him to “be a man”. He was—if facing up to being gay and wanting to be with a man counted. Well, even if it didn’t and it wasn’t what the singer or songwriter had in mind, Rhett was off to Bard’s Saloon for his first-ever date with a guy, and one who was more experienced than him, better-looking than him and more take-charge than him. A smug, bossy alpha, all long legs, wide shoulders and overlong wavy hair, strutted into his mind’s eye, and Rhett turned up the music to wipe him out. Well, ready or not, here I come.

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About the Author

Bailey Bradford

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out. Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey’s presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.


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Loving you by Andaleeb Wajid


Hamza Ali is ready to get married, fall in love and live happily ever after. The only problem is, he’s about to marry one woman but falls in love with another… So how will he find his happily ever after?

After watching his brother’s disastrous love marriage fall to pieces, Hamza decides that the only marriage for him is an arranged one. In Mahrukh, his family finds him the perfect bride. But while Mahrukh may be the perfect bride, it’s her divorced aunt Noorain who is the perfect woman for him.
Noorain Alam has never loved or been loved. Until the day her niece gets engaged to a man who is completely out of her reach and yet, he’s everything she never knew she wanted.
Blindsided by the strength of emotion they feel for each other, Noorain and Hamza find themselves in a battle for their happiness. But will love win? Or will family and duty stand in its way?

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Read an Excerpt from Loving You

The last thing Hamza Ali wanted, was to be late. But given the traffic and his own state of mind, he knew that it was a foregone conclusion. He just had to grit his teeth and bear it, even as he tamped down on the anxiety spiralling inside. 

His phone rang and he answered it on Bluetooth, knowing that Ammi was frantic with worry. 

‘I know, I know…’ he said in a placating manner. 

‘They’re already here!’ Ammi said in a loud whisper. 

‘I’m on my way, Ammi. I’ll be there in another fifteen minutes,’ he said. 

‘Fifteen minutes?’ Ammi yelped. ‘But…’ 

‘I’m driving. I’ll reach sooner if I’m not talking to you.’ Saying so, he disconnected the call and focused on reaching home. 

Today, of all days he had a presentation that ran late. He’d tried to explain to his boss that he needed to be home early but of course that hadn’t been possible. Kannan didn’t like to listen to excuses or anything personal when work was involved and Hamza knew better than to tell him the real reason he needed to be home early today. 

People were coming to see him. 

Yes. A girl’s family actually. He had told Ammi that he was ready for marriage and it would be a good idea if she started looking for potential brides for him. Ammi had been only too pleased to comply. 

His twin brother Hamdaan thought he was being an unnecessary martyr by opting for an arranged marriage. 

‘What would you know?’ Hamza snapped at him, annoyed. Hamdaan had a love marriage and then, when that fell through, he had an arranged marriage where he fell deeply in love with his wife Ghazal. 

This just convinced him that not everyone was cut out for a grand love affair and anyway, this was what his parents wanted. He wanted to give them that happiness. At the cost of your own, Hamdaan asked. 

‘What guarantee is there that a love marriage will be better?’ Hamza asked him. Hamdaan nodded. 

‘I know, but…’

‘And you did have an arranged marriage with Ghazal and you two seem to be just fine,’ he reminded him. 

‘Well, that’s because I got incredibly lucky,’ Hamdaan commented, a smile on his face as he thought of his wife probably. 

Hamza glanced at his face in the rear-view mirror at a traffic signal and sighed. There wasn’t going to be any time to even wash his face, let alone shower, if the girl’s family had already reached home. Ammi had been slightly put out when she heard that they wanted to vet him first, and if he was a good enough candidate, she and Ghazal Bhabhi could go and see the girl and take things forward. 

‘That’s how everyone does it these days,’ the broker aunty informed Ammi. The broker aunty who brought the rishta was a fascinating specimen, with her smartphone full of biodatas and photos of potential brides and bridegrooms. Hamza had looked at her paraphernalia, eyes wide that day when she wanted to ‘see’ him before finding the right rishta. 

‘First they see the boy and if he’s good, then you can see the girl. That way, the girl is not unnecessarily exposed, na?’ she asked, moving the paan she’d been chewing, around inside her mouth. 

‘Fine, Arifa Apa. Whatever you say,’ Ammi said. 

Now, he felt the slightest bit of apprehension inside when he wondered about this stranger who could possibly become a part of his life soon. But he had wanted this, right? In fact, he had gone on to convince Hamdaan to get married again so that it would clear the way for him to get married. 

His phone rang again. 

‘Ammi,’ he groaned out aloud but then saw that it wasn’t his mother but it was Ghazal. 

‘Yes, Bhabhi,’ he answered as the car moved forward in the traffic finally. It felt odd, calling her Bhabhi since she was so much younger than him but it added to the decorum and formality in their relationship, which was something he liked. 

‘How far away from home are you?’ she asked softly.

‘Around ten minutes, tops,’ he said. 

‘Okay, so don’t park in front of the house. Park behind, and I’ll be waiting near the kitchen door. You can hop inside from there and freshen up in your room, Hamza Bhai,’ she said. 

‘Oh. Oh thank god!’ he muttered, feeling slightly better. 

‘Don’t thank me yet. Ammi is having kittens and puppies and she won’t rest easy until you’re here,’ Ghazal said. 

‘You hold her off, Bhabhi!’ he said as he stepped down on the accelerator to reach home as soon as he could. 

Twenty minutes later, he emerged from his room, his face still shiny with water droplets. He took the towel from Ghazal gratefully and scrubbed his face and she winced. 

‘It’s your face. Not a dirty vessel and Scotch Brite,’ she admonished him as she took the towel from his hands. 

Ammi didn’t know that he was back home yet and she looked at him surprised when she came out from the kitchen, just as he was tucking his shirt inside properly. He had barely had a chance to look at himself in the mirror and he was worried about making the wrong sort of impression but Ghazal assured him that he looked fine. 

‘When did you…where were…’ she trailed off. 

‘Ask Bhabhi,’ he said with a smile as he kissed his mother soundly on her cheek. She did some nazar utarofy thing for him and smiled at Ghazal, even as she put her hand on her chest. 

‘Go now,’ she said. Nodding, he walked into the living room where Hamdaan and Abba were speaking to the men who had come to see him. 

‘Sorry, I’m a bit late,’ Hamza said as he walked up and shook hands with the three men who stood up when they saw him. 

The men looked from Hamdaan to him and one of them smiled. ‘Amazing how much you two look alike,’ he said. 

Hamza nodded and then, his father indicated that he should sit down on the sofa. The men all sat down and they started talking. 

The mad pounding in his chest finally eased down enough and he almost relaxed until he remembered why he was here. 

The middle-aged man in the centre, wearing the white shirt with black stripes, left untucked was apparently the bride’s father. He wore a namaz topi on his head and he had a beard. Hamza smiled at him as he spoke, but he was instantly curious about the girl’s family and what sort of person she was. 

He also didn’t know her name yet. A droplet of sweat trickled down his back in a straight line when he realised the enormity of what he was getting into. He didn’t even know the name of the girl he was willing to marry, let alone what she looked like. And somehow, he felt that if he asked her name, it would put him and his family on the back foot. He should have asked Ghazal, he realised. 

‘Have some tea,’ one of the men offered to him and he nodded. He leaned forward and picked up a tea cup and his gaze met his brother’s, who lifted an eyebrow sardonically. 

The two of them were connected intrinsically, as they were twins and there were times when they could have a complete non-verbal exchange between them and no one would be the wiser. 

You asked for this.

Hamza nodded slightly and he looked up at his brother defiantly. Yeah. So what?

Just wondering if you know what you’re getting into.

Shut up. 

Hamdaan hid his smile as he sipped his tea and mentally, Hamza flipped him off but responded to the questions being asked of him. 

When the ordeal was finally over, the three men got up and shook hands with him once more. They shook hands with Hamdaan and the bride’s father even hugged Abba as they left. 

‘Satisfied?’ Hamdaan turned to him as soon as the men departed. 

‘Yes,’ Hamza said, rolling his eyes. Abba returned just then before the two of them could get into an argument. 

‘They’ve asked us to come and see the girl tomorrow,’ Abba announced, a smile on his face. ‘Your Ammi and Ghazal will be going.’

Hamza’s heart pounded again. It was finally happening. 

‘What’s her name?’ he asked and Hamdaan gave a short laugh. 

‘Not one person back in college would have believed you to be capable of this,’ he said. 

‘Of what? And you wouldn’t know since you didn’t study with me,’ Hamza retorted. 

‘Her name is Mahrukh,’ Ghazal said softly as she came into the living room. Hamdaan beamed at her as she went and sat down beside him. One of the girls who worked in the house followed her and she collected the tea cups and deposited them on the tray. 

‘Like Shahrukh?’ Hamza asked sceptically. 

Ammi chuckled. ‘No. Mahrukh is a girl’s name. It means someone who looks like the moon.’

‘It’s a beautiful name,’ Ghazal assured him. 

And what of the girl, he wondered. Was she beautiful too? 

About the Author:

Andaleeb Wajid is the author of 27 published novels and she writes across different genres such as romance, YA and horror. Her horror novel It Waits was shortlisted at Mami Word to Screen 2017 and her Young Adult series, The Tamanna Trilogy has been optioned for screen by a reputed production house. Andaleeb’s novel When She Went Away was shortlisted for The Hindu Young World Prize in 2017. Andaleeb is a hybrid author who has self-published more than 10 novels in the past two years.

Andaleeb on the Web:
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Release Blitz







Cover Designer: Sean Benson at S Benson Designs

Hosted by DS Promotions


 Book 1 is FREE until JULY 8






Two best friends – one summer that changed everything.

Eccentric Addie Greyson had called athletic Zeke Turner her best friend her entire life. Over the last decade, they’d seen each other through every obstacle adolescence had thrown their way.

When Zeke returned home for the summer after his first year away at college, their time apart forced them to see each other in a new light. Once temptation became too much to resist, lines were crossed and the relationship they fought so hard to protect paid the ultimate price.

When fate brought them back together two years later, would it mean a second chance? Or would the summer that irrevocably changed them be the one thing their friendship couldn’t survive?  







Available in Kindle Unlimited


Two years after fate pulls Addie Greyson from Zeke Turner’s life, it found a way to give her back.

Unfortunately, not all reunions were meant to be simple.

Between a sordid arrangement and the secrets she vowed to keep, Addie returned to Zeke a different girl. When their attraction proved too much to deny, they rediscovered what was lost that summer.

Fighting to stay together when the world wanted them apart wouldn’t be easy. They soon realized it never was.

Would following their hearts save them this time? Or would they find out the hard way that some things could never be taken back?  

Release Blitz

Mister Masher by Angela Nicole

Title: Mister Masher
A Cocky Hero Club Novel
Author: Angela Nicole
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 4, 2021

Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward are excited to bring you the Cocky Hero Club: original works from various authors inspired by Keeland and Ward’s New York Times bestselling Cocky Bastard series.


Can a baseball star and single mom round the bases to their happily ever after?

They call me Mister Masher. I’m the homerun king on the field… and off. With a glitzy life full of parties, money, and beautiful women, settling down was the farthest thing from my mind… until I met her.

Fiery redhead, Addie, has the kind of luscious curves that turn my thoughts to a line drive up the middle. But every charming pitch I throw at the single mom is a swing and a miss. I soon learn Addison’s son is critically ill and she is willing to make any sacrifice necessary to ensure he gets the best possible care.

Our lives are as different as the major leagues versus the minors. Still, this is the one woman I would slide into home for. I was riding the bench of life before her, not really part of the game. Now, I’m stepping up to the plate and I’m ready. Two strikes and the bases are loaded. I refuse to strike out at the challenge of our forever.

Mister Masher is a sports/medical romance inspired by Mister Moneybags.



Free in Kindle Unlimited


Angela Nicole resides in Upstate, NY with her husband, William. Angela spent the last twenty years working in higher education. Wondering what to do with the conversations that were going on in her head, she put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and wrote. Writing is quite a change but a change that she loves. As an avid reader, Angela fell in love with romance novels that feature alpha men with hearts of gold.