New Release

Just So Many Places

Title: Just So Many Places

Author: Jessica Stilling

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/02/2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 124300

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, Iceland, lesbian, bisexual, interracial, established couple, professor, lawyer, Scandinavian folklore and culture, civil rights movement, teenagers, young adults, teen pregnancy, sheep farming, family drama

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Description

Marissa and Calypso have been outsiders before. As an interracial lesbian couple from very different social classes, they’ve already experienced the odd stare. When the couple arrives on a sheep farm, tucked away in the jagged mountains of Iceland, they plan to forget all their baggage and look to the future. Marissa, an academic on sabbatical, focuses on taking care of the sheep while attempting to work on her book on Norse mythology. Calypso, an attorney, who works on civil rights cases in New York City, attempts to help her clients while in the middle of nowhere in Scandinavia—quite a feat for any social justice warrior. The added distractions of Marissa’s son Xander, who drops in on them with his entitled college friends in tow, and the constant interruptions from Marissa’s wealthy and connected ex-husband, threaten their peace. As her civil rights cases gain notice in New York City, Calypso starts to feel left out, living so far away. Two young girls enter Marissa and Calypso’s lives, complicating the solid ecosystem they’ve created in their hideaway. Tavy, grew up in the same inner-city poverty that Calypso came from, and with Calypso’s help, she has the talent and intelligence to lift herself up, even when an unplanned pregnancy threatens her future. When Asta Sollilja, an Icelandic teenager with a reputation, finds herself in trouble, she relies on the kindness of the American outsiders to keep her safe. Just So Many Places captures the majesty and isolation of Iceland. It explores the enduring connections that come with unstoppable love and a sense of history as notions of race and class structures threaten to divide instead of connect. Marissa and Calypso must decide if staying in Iceland is for them or whether they can do more good by going home and rejoining the world where they feel most at home.

Excerpt

Calypso knew the coffee was good, not as good as they had in New York, not even as good as her grandmother’s coffee in Haiti, but it was earthy and natural—a lot like this country her wife had dragged her to. A year, she’d said. It was only a year, even if they were buying the place. “If your work is too important,” Marissa had added, “I totally understand—you can stay in the city. I’ll come, maybe for a couple of weeks in the fall. I’ll be back for the winter. I don’t think I can brave the Icelandic winter, not the whole time. Or you could visit.” It had taken Calypso a while to realize that when Marissa capitulated, when she suggested they live apart for a while, she was not being vindictive, only accommodating, as if she had to, at each and every juncture, apologize for something. “I thought it would be colder in the house,” Calypso said as they situated themselves in their new kitchen. “They have heat; this isn’t the dark ages. You remember Reykjavík last year.” “Yeah, but that’s a city. Cities are always more forward thinking—” “It’s forward thinking to have heat?” Marissa laughed. “I guess, if people have heat in subzero weather, then they might get too comfortable, and who knows what kind of hijinks will ensue.” “Who knows what kind of hijinks.” Calypso sighed, smiling softly to herself as Marissa took another sip of her coffee, then pushed her long, red hair back behind her ears. Even at forty-four, she’d get up in front of her colleagues and spout all that jargon no one outside her field could understand, smiling sweetly, like a girl half her age. And her skin was clear. She used to talk about that. “Smooth skin runs in my family,” Marissa had said one night while they were getting ready for bed. She’d slathered on one kind of cream after another—gels and collagen pills, stuff under the eyes to prevent bags and dark circles, the works. But she swore she’d gotten her great skin from her mother. “My mother’s face barely aged until she hit seventy, same with my grandmother.” “I think great skin runs in the family of money,” Calypso had replied. “Like polished hair and a good sense of fashion and being skinny run in the family of money.” “My dad worked in an office his entire life. My mother was a teacher. It was that Wade—” Marissa had made a face at the mention of her asshole ex-husband. “That husband,” Calypso had said. But Marissa did have great skin, with her clear peaches-and-cream complexion, her red hair. Maybe it was because of how pleasant, how apologetic Marissa was that made it hard for people to take her seriously upon arrival. Then she started spouting words like “postmodernist literary theory,” and they held their tongues. “In any case, they make good coffee in Iceland,” Calypso said, returning to the present. “I was expecting everything to be a little more rustic.” “I got this coffee in the city. It is…it will be rustic here. We’ll have to hike six miles in the snow, uphill both ways, to get to the stores for provisions.” “Funny,” Calypso replied, taking the cup Marissa had just drained and placing it in the sink. She started the water. It sputtered for a second (now that was rustic) before it sprayed extra hard on her skin. At least it was clear. Back when she’d visit her grandmother in Carrefour Ouest, she’d have to wait five whole minutes for the water to come out of the tap. “Let me,” Marissa said, draping her arms around Calypso’s waist. Calypso noticed she wasn’t wearing any perfume, but the scent of strawberries was always in the air whenever Marissa was around. Calypso continued washing the dishes, dripping some of the dark orange liquid soap, the same earth color as that ugly couch in the living room, on the sponge. She wasn’t sure how she was going to live with all this orange. Some redecorating was in order—once they found the time. It was a new sponge. They’d picked it up at the store off the highway before they got in. But it seemed old, one of those large old-fashioned kinds her mother used to scrub the stairs in their house in Kingsbridge, where they lived before her family moved to the North Bronx. Marissa’s lips pressed against her neck, and she ran her hand down the side of Calypso’s arm as she continued washing. Her fingers moved softly at first, and then she held on more tightly, her nails digging in. Calypso finished the final cup (it didn’t take much) before she turned around. “This rustic air suits you,” she said, running a damp hand down her wife’s exposed arm. “Thank you for coming,” Marissa repeated in that apologetic voice. “I know your work, and it’s so important right now, and what you’re doing—” “Sh.” Calypso stroked her face. “My work will get done. Gail’s got it under control. I can fly back; I know what I’m doing.” “But your work is so important.” “It’ll get done, baby,” Calypso said. She kissed her softly at first; it was always so soft. Calypso wondered sometimes if she might break her. “I need you. I need you to be happy, and here you are in this tiny, cold country, and you’re happy. And we have a pretty large farm, and there’s still New York to go home to, still all of that, and it’s only a year. You think the movement will be over in a year? Do you think young Black men will stop getting shot in the street or thrown in jail for bullshit reasons? You think I’ll miss it all? Because I’d take that trade. I’d miss the whole fight, not be responsible for changing a thing, if it meant the fight only lasted a year.” “I’m aware,” Marissa said, still a hint of apology in her voice. But she kissed Calypso harder now; there was so much need in her.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Jessica Stilling is unapologetically fond of Iceland. Just So Many Places, her first novel with NineStar Press, was penned while spending some time alone in Iceland. Jessica is a fan of Scandinavian crime dramas and Viking lore. She studied Greek and Roman mythology in graduate school but soon discovered the Norse gods and has not looked back. Jessica has published three other literary novels, Betwixt and Between (IG Publishing), The Beekeeper’s Daughter (Bedazzled Books), and The Weary God of Ancient Travelers (DX Varos). She has also published three fantasy novels under the pen name JM Stephen. Jessica’s young adult fantasy series The Pan Chronicles was recently nominated for a Hugo Award. She has been reviewed by Kirkus Reviews, The San Francisco Book Review, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, where she received a starred review. Jessica’s journalism tends toward the feminist lens, and she has had articles published in Ms. Magazine, Bust Magazine, The Whorticulturalist, and The Writer Magazine. She also does freelance work for The Deerfield Valley News out of Wilmington, VT. Jessica holds a writing degree from The New School and an MFA from City College of the City University of New York. She has taught writing at the State University of New York, the City University of New York, The New School, and the Gotham Writers Workshop. She has also worked on the editorial board of the Global City Review. Jessica grew up in Northern Illinois and lived in New York City for eighteen years before running off to bucolic rural Vermont the fall of 2021. Jessica currently lives in a house in the Green Mountains with a lot of land and a large barn which is currently occupied by twenty or so chickens.

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My Name is Mary Magdalene


African American Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Women’s Mental Health

Release Date: December 7, 2021

Publisher: Jess, Mo’ Books LLC


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Stepping away from her comfort zone, author JC Miller orchestrates a written tapestry chronicling the fragile state of a woman on the edge of insanity.


Plagued by a lifelong curse of mental illness, Mary Magdalene finds herself spending her golden years in a mental asylum. Her once zealous life becomes minimized to an endless routine of over-stimulating antipsychotic drugs. That is until Salmone Abrams, a hidden jewel from her past, resurfaces and helps her remember who she once was—The Queen of Harlem. Madame Mary Mags.


Inspired by her jazz playlist, JC Miller’s current novella, My Name is Mary Magdalene, shakes the family tree while exploring the often-stigmatized topic of mental health. This fictional spin on the biblical account of Mary Magdalene and her seven demons travels from the late 1940s into the mid-1990s as Mary recalls the battles that tore her life apart. Fear, Lust, Entitlement, Greed, Misery, Dependency, Guilt—emotional baggage that once achingly held her down propels her to victory.

 

 

 

 

 About the Author

JC Miller lives in the scenic Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania with her husband, children, and floppy-eared Bassador pup.

Raised by a single mother in the Bronx, JC pulls from early experiences to showcase the soul of urban survival through faith-based novels. She also dedicates much of her time uplifting women via her blog and creating content with partner and friend, MR Spain, through their publishing company, Jess, Mo’ Books LLC.

On her days off, you can find JC whipping up her famous Red Velvet cake and listening to songs from her impressive vinyl record collection.

  

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

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New Release

Miss Claus

Title: Miss Claus

Author: J.R. Hart

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/02/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 57500

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, seasonal, family drama, trans, grey ace, Santa Claus, North Pole, father/daughter relationship, engagement

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Description

Kris Claus has spent her entire life preparing to become the next Santa Claus. After all, she’s Santa’s daughter, so she’s certain to be next in line for the title. She’s gotten the degrees, served as his assistant… nothing can stop her. Well, nothing except her lawyer ex, who is trying to sneak his way into the title by bringing up an archaic gender law that says women can’t be Santa. Steeped in small-town politics and a rivalry for the ages, Kris won’t stop until she’s gotten what she’s fought for her whole life, but she won’t give up who she really is — a proud woman — to reach her dreams. When a letter from a transgender girl down South reminds her of herself as a child, Kris knows exactly what’s at stake, not just for her own dreams, but for the dreams of girls everywhere.

Excerpt

Kris had seen her father speak countless times in this same setting, and in similar ones, like pep talks at the factory or town square summer celebrations. But none of his speeches were as exciting as this one, the Honor of Christmas speech that took place every December 21. This was the big one, the important talk everyone came out to see. Stationed in the front row, here before anyone else, was her mother. She smiled and gave Kris a small wave, and Kris made a heart shape with her hands. Her mother was wildly supportive of her, and as much as Kris knew it had to be killing her not to make a sweep of the room and ensure everything was just so, she stayed seated, allowing Kris’s efforts to shine. The faith she had in Kris’s planning ability—or at least, the way she didn’t try to correct any tiny errors—warmed Kris’s heart. Instead, she stayed in place, looking regal in her velvet suit-dress. She was certain Ian had custom-made it in a complementary silver as soon as Kris had suggested blue and silver to The Council for approval. She glanced up at the silver aisle they’d made minutes before, watching The Council’s members shuffle in. Mrs. Hazel Butterquil, always punctual, entered in her velvety cape that she always refused to hang on one of the cloakroom hangers because “that would ruin the majesty of it, wouldn’t it, dear?” Kris couldn’t help but smile. Mrs. Butterquil was a sweetheart, and she had buttery-soft hands every time they greeted each other before a meeting. Behind her, her husband filed in, cap in his hands and bald head gleaming in the twinkle lights. He was demure and calm behind his wife. She took her seat at the council table, and he sat in the front row, always supportive of her. Kris had dinner at their home on many evenings, usually listening to her father calm Mrs. Butterquil, who thrived on tradition and needed her father’s reassurance that most changes approved by The Council would be mild. Moments later, Ian Napperly, the town tailor and youngest member of the council, short and slender, with sleek brown hair slicked back with pomade, filed in and took his seat next to her. Kris couldn’t hear their conversation from across the room where she stood, but she could imagine the quiet pleasantries they exchanged. Mrs. Butterquil pulled a small baggie from her purse and passed it to him, almost under the table, but not out of sight. Kris’s mouth watered. Homemade kettle corn! She was jealous. Mrs. Butterquil always made homemade kettle corn for her favorite people. Kris had been the lucky recipient several times, but today Ian was bestowed with that special honor, and she found herself longing for the sweet, salty flavor. A handful of other council members shuffled in behind them. Carin smiled and waved timidly at Kris, and Kris waved back, wishing she knew her better. She was a new addition, and Kris had heard her speak up a few times, but mostly, Carin was on the quiet side. Her short blonde bob waggled slightly when she returned Mrs. Butterquil’s greeting. She was so lovely though. Kris marveled at how The Council had changed over the years, as some members retired and ceded their seats to others in the town. Eleven members in total paraded past, and Kris waved at the ones she liked best. She shouldn’t have been playing favorites, but she couldn’t help it. Tailing them all, Mark Crinkle—the senior one—stepped along, heavy footsteps thudding behind the rest of them. He situated himself in his seat and leaned across Ian to talk to Mrs. Butterquil. As he removed his scarf, his beard was brushed out of place, moving right back where it had been when he leaned back in his seat again. Kris gave him a small wave, and he gave her a quick, curt nod in return. Mark Crinkle, Sr. was so different from his son, more stern and solid, but regal in a way that almost but didn’t quite read as arrogant. Mark Jr. was easier to be around. He was a pleasant, happy man with slender fingers and long limbs, gangly and lean. He walked like a baby giraffe, sometimes stumbling over his own feet like he didn’t have full control over himself. However, he and Kris looked like polar opposites, she short and chubby—she greatly preferred chubby to “round,” or the other terms people sometimes used to describe her father—and him so tall and thin. He stood across the stage from her, beaming as she flashed him a wide grin. Megan leaned over to her. “Stop flirting,” she teased. “I can’t help it!” Kris grabbed her arm tightly. “He’s so handsome!” “I see the thrill hasn’t worn off yet.” The thrill really hadn’t worn off. A month out from their engagement and she still got butterflies every time she saw him. That, or when she caught sight of the beautiful ring on her finger, the soft curls of silver around a central, teardrop stone. He was her dream match. The humor wasn’t lost on her that soon she’d be Mrs. Crinkle. As in, Kris Crinkle. Close to Kringle, but not quite spot-on. But then Mark grew still and stood up taller, and he stopped winking and waving. A hush fell over the room, with parents ushering their children back into their seats, and the sound of people unwrapping cough drops or gum grew quiet too. Santa entering made everyone more reverent, quiet, and calm. Kris beamed at the sight of her dad walking up the silver carpet, his shiny black boots leaving no trace of dirt, barely even an indentation in the thick pile as he made his way across the floor. Mark Sr. stood up and walked to the podium. “Now presenting, for his annual Christmas speech, Mr. Santa Claus.” From here, Kris could see her mother’s face light up at the sight of Mr. Claus, the love radiating off her. There was something so inspiring about their connection, their constant companionship to each other even after all these decades together. He shuffled back to his seat just in time for Santa to step behind the wooden podium, brighter with the addition of the garland and some carefully placed baubles. “Hello, everyone,” Santa began. “And a very, very Merry Christmas to each of you.”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

J R Hart is a queer 30-something novelist passionate about telling romantic and erotic stories about LGBT+ characters. When J R isn’t writing, you can find her at the science museum with her son, cheering for her favorite soccer team, or at The Bean Coffee Co plotting her next work. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @jrhartauthor, or on her website at jrhartauthor.com.

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Boardwalk


Providence Island Book 5

Mystery Romance

Date Published: 02 November 2021

Publisher: RedBird Books

 

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A man denies his emotions to save the lives of other. A woman closes her heart to hide the pain. A child yearns for someone to trust.

 Former hitman Ben Hampshire gave up everything to keep his honorary mother Dana Canfield safe. Settled into a peaceful life on Providence Island, he’s found the woman of his dreams but can’t make himself say “I love you”.

 Stacy Andrews shunned long-term relationships until she met a man with a brain as sexy as his body. She’s head over stiletto heels in love with him, but those words aren’t in her vocabulary either. The secret she’s hiding might make Ben change his mind about their life together. If that’s not enough, her troubled eight-year old nephew coming to live with them could be the tipping point.

 Ben finds himself in the spotlight after two murders occur. The first to find both bodies, he’s holding back evidence that points toward Dana’s husband as the perpetrator. If he can’t stop the killer, Ben’s future may turn into a happy never after.

 

About the Author

Dianna Wilkes is an award winning contemporary romance author.

Reading has always been an important part of her life. “I learned to read when I was four years old. Writing my own stories seemed a natural progression.”

Dianna holds a B.A.in Visual Communication and a M.Ed.in Instructional Technology. She worked as an Education Consultant for a medical technology company before leaving the corporate world. Despite all that nerdy stuff, she loves creating stories of romance and mystery with touches of humor.

When she isn’t writing, Dianna is deep in researching various branches and twigs on her family tree or fulfilling entries on her travel bucket list.


Contact Links

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Twitter: @dwilkesauthor

Instagram: dianna.wilkes

 

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Closer by A.K. Evans




Title: Closer
Series: Rock Stars & Romance #3
Author: A.K. Evans
Genre: Rock Star Romance
Release Date: November 2, 2021


BLURB

Walker Rhodes has never been the typical rock star—one who is happy with meaningless hookups. That’s because he’s been hiding a secret from his bandmates for years.

Sadie Emerson knew it was risky to open her heart to Walker, but the man was too hard to resist. And now that she’s fallen in love with Walker, all Sadie wants is to be closer to him.

But there’s one small problem. Beck.

Neither Sadie nor Walker have shared the truth of their relationship with her brother. Beck has always been protective of his little sister, so it’s only natural for them to fear his reaction.

The pair refuse to give one another up, but they’re both worried that when Beck finds out, Walker will have to choose between the woman he loves and the band he calls his family.





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Releasing November 30

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AUTHOR BIO


A.K. Evans is a contemporary romance author of over twenty published novels. While she enjoys writing a good romantic suspense novel, Andrea’s favorite books to write have been her extreme sports romances. That might have something to do with the fact that she, along with her husband and two sons, can’t get enough of extreme sports. 

Before becoming a writer, Andrea did a brief stint in the insurance and financial services industry and managed her husband’s performance automotive business. That love of extreme sports? She used to drive race cars! 

When Andrea isn’t writing, she can be found homeschooling her two sons, doing yoga, snowboarding, reading, or traveling with her family. She and her husband are currently taking road trips throughout the country to visit all 50 states with their boys.


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Finding His Redemption by Melanie A. Smith 

Finding His Redemption: An Enemies to Lovers Rock Star Romance
Melanie A. Smith
Publication date: November 2nd 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

From award-winning and international best-selling author Melanie A. Smith comes a standalone steamy contemporary romance about a rock star, a former fan, and the real meaning of redemption.

Kristoffer “West” Westberg is just out of rehab and ready to reclaim his rock-god status. But when his return to fame is threatened by a former fan turned rock magazine writer — and huge critic of him and his band — West is forced to reckon with the reality that he’ll need to prove himself before earning his redemption.

Max Marshall is feisty, a little too honest for her own good, and so not here to babysit a fallen rock star. And nobody has fallen farther in her mind that Kristoffer Westberg. So when she’s forced to catalog his so-called “apology tour,” she has little hope that it’ll be anything but a headache dealing with the entitled, washed-up rock star she used to worship before she knew better.

If West hopes to have a snowball’s chance in hell of changing Max’s — and his fans’ — minds, he’s got some serious groveling to do. Will he manage to fake it till he makes it, or will he be exposed as the lost cause everyone is convinced he is? And will he learn the real meaning of redemption in time to win Max’s trust and her heart.

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EXCERPT:

“Come on,” he pleads winningly. “I’m all better now. Don’t you want to jump back on the West train?”

I pull a face. “Don’t you mean the Violent Mood Swings train?” And then I think silently to myself, You know, your band, you self-centered ass hat?

“Sure, yeah, that too,” he agrees dismissively.

I sigh heavily. “Not for all the guitar picks in a Dunlop factory.”

“Ouch, Maxi. Ouch.”

I frown. “It’s Max.”

West grins. “Okay, Maxi. Whatever you say.”

“You know, annoying the shit out of me isn’t going to make me tell you,” I snap at him. Even though I’m more mad that I actually find his bullshit kind of cute. His mischievous grin shows that dimple in his right cheek, and his behavior is a heady combination of endearing and playful. Dear god, help me. I take a step back, needing to distance myself in every way possible.

“Then forget why. I’m all better now. Don’t you want to give me another chance?” he cajoles, leaning back against the wall and looking like a butt-hurt little kid.

“Yes, well, that’s great, but just because you’re magically all better doesn’t change the way I feel. But really, good luck with the album and tour and stuff.”

“Who said anything about a tour?” he asks slyly.

I narrow my eyes at him. “You guys aren’t going to tour?”

“Yeah, of course we’re going to tour. But nobody’s said anything about one yet.”

I throw my hands up. “Do you ever take anything seriously?”

“Absolutely. Music. Rosie. And why you’re so mad at me.”


Author Bio:

Melanie A. Smith is an award-winning and international best-selling author of steamy contemporary romance fiction. A voracious reader and lifelong writer, Melanie’s writing began at a young age with short stories and poetry. After college and a career as an aircraft engineer, she shifted to domestic engineering and property management and eventually found a balance where she was able to return to writing fiction. Melanie is also a Mensan and enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and driving with the windows down and the stereo cranked up loud.

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The Dark Queen by M. Dalto

The Dark Queen
M. Dalto
(The Empire Saga, #4)
Published by: Parliament House
Publication date: November 2nd 2021
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

For fans of Elise Kova, Sarah J. Maas, and Holly Black.

For centuries, the Empire has been enslaved to an infallible, revered Prophecy—one that controlled every thought and action, banished those who questioned its integrity, and promised to bring peace and tranquility to those who followed blindly and believed unconditionally.

But the Prophecy is flawed.

Amid broken promises and mournful lamentations, fates are changed, and dreams are destroyed.

When an ancient force resurfaces and threatens to destroy all they know, new alliances are formed as the heirs to the Empire’s throne struggle to put aside personal differences for the good of their realm.

Before it’s too late.


The Empire Saga is best enjoyed in this order:

1. Two Thousand Years

2. Mark of the Empress

3. Beginning’s End

4. The Dark Queen

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EXCERPT:

Prologue

Welcome back, Empress.

Alexstrayna felt cold.

It wasn’t like when she had been outside for too long without an overcoat or a cape. Or as if she were caught out in the rain without an umbrella and the chill of the evening air had penetrated through her clothes until it reached her bones.

No, it was the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night after a nightmare, body slick with sweat and heart racing.

This was the chill of fear.

Wherever she was, it was dark. She sensed the cool smoothness of stone around her, yet when she cast her arms out she couldn’t feel any walls. From the smell of damp rock, however, she knew they were there.

And they were cold.

It was paralyzing. Instead of running, or trying to find a way out, she wrapped her arms around herself as if to retain whatever last bit of inner warmth she possessed. Huddled within those biting, stone confines, she tried to keep her teeth from chattering and her body from seizing.

Where was she? And how did she get there in the first place?

She had just watched the others pack and head off on their trek to the Borderlands. She and Jamison had stayed behind, and as they were returning to the palace…

Crystal.

She had approached them with no limp, no hobble, no sign of any outward injuries. In fact, the way she had snuck up on Alex in the palace gardens, catching her completely unaware, it was as though she hadn’t been in the infirmary just moments before, allegedly healing from wounds inflicted upon her by Lexan.

She remembered seeing Jamison in the distance, sprawled on the ground, immobile. And that man…

She had never met him before, but those eyes—they bore into her soul as if she should have recognized him.

A sob choked in her throat as her head throbbed with pain.

Mom!

Despite the ache, Alex’s head whipped upward, and she stared desperately into the gloom. Sarayna? What was she doing there?

She tried to gather her legs beneath her, but they felt like lead. The pounding in her head—it was getting worse. Alex had to warn her daughter and maybe Sarayna could at least escape whatever this was, could tell Reylor and Treyan…

“Alexstrayna.”

Her name echoed off the stones as if someone were there with her, watching her all along.

“Who’s there?” she rasped; her throat was raw as if she had been screaming. Had she? She couldn’t remember anything since her path crossed Crystal’s in the gardens.

A smooth, feminine chuckle resounded around her. “Oh, we are going to have a fine time together, you and I.”

“Who are you?” Alex demanded, her voice growing louder. She finally regained her footing and pushed herself up into a standing position.

The pain within Alex’s skull was almost unbearable, but her eyes began to adjust slowly, taking in what was, indeed, a room. The moss-covered walls confirmed the smell of dampness and the sound of trickling water could be heard. There was a brightening light above, shining through the darkness from a window. It was as if the suns were rising on a new day—like a dawning ray of hope that she was going to escape this hell. Wherever it was.

Although every muscle in her body was tense, as if the frigid air was eating away at her from the inside out, she started toward the light.

And that voice remained all around her.

Laughing.

“Until we meet again, Empress,” it said, just as that light exploded within the room.

For a moment, illuminated by the flash, Alex swore she saw a throne—a black marble chaise carved into the wall. Upon that throne was a female clad in black.

A woman wearing her face.

Before she could take a step closer to investigate, that light exploded not only in that dark room, but also inside her head. The brightness intermingled with the pain that had been building between her eyes, bursting like a million pins and needles through every pore of her body.

Everything went dark as Alex screamed.

Author Bio:

M. Dalto is a bestselling New Adult author of adventurous romantic fantasy stories, having won a Watty award for excellence in digital storytelling for her debut novel, Two Thousand Years, in 2016. She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to pursue her literary agenda, and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.

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Revenge de los Muertos by Talis Jones

Revenge de los Muertos
Talis Jones
(Fifth Sun, #1)
Publication date: November 2nd 2021
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy

Selah’s biggest dilemma was trying to decide what to study in college. That is, until she stumbled across a clue to the grandparents she’d never met and hopped on a plane to Mexico where she would discover an entire hidden world of magic and monsters. Her best friend was a bruja, the Chupacabra was more than a myth, and she’d inadvertently caught the attention of the terrifying Blood King with beautiful golden eyes. What started as a two-week vacation quickly devolved into an adventure she might never return from.

Día de los Muertos had almost arrived and the monsters were on the hunt.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Selah

“G’night,” Noa yawned finally before claiming the remaining bedroom next door.

I moved to shut my own door when Rafael prowled past, likely heading towards his own room at the end of the hall. At least I guessed it was his as it was the only door kept firmly shut. Seeming to sense my gaze, he pivoted and met me at the doorway. Leaning against the frame with his arms crossed he stared deep into my eyes almost as if searching for answers in there though he must not find them because a frown quickly tugged at his mouth.

“How did you and your friend meet?” he asked curiously.

My fingers fiddled nervously with the doorknob as a fond smile lit up my face. “School. We’ve gone to the same school since I can remember and she was always in my classes, sitting with me at lunch, wanting to be my friend. Noa is pretty direct. When she decides something, she makes it happen.”

“I can see that,” he nodded tersely.

Wanting to smooth things over, I thanked him. “I’m really very sorry about the mix up, but thank you for letting us stay. We really don’t mind finding a hotel tomorrow,” I assured him. “This is your home and we don’t want to intrude.”

Something I said, though I couldn’t guess what, caused his lips to twitch. “You are free to stay. I do not mind.” I arched an eyebrow and he released an amused huff. “Much,” he amended.

“Well, thank you,” I offered again. “You are very kind and generous to offer.”

“Not many would use those words to describe me,” he shook his head, his voice low enough that I wasn’t sure I was meant to hear him.

“Then they don’t know you,” I answered anyway. It was an impulsive response because I didn’t know him beyond his name and yet it felt right. Or maybe I was just a people pleaser like Noa teased me of being.

Even if offered in ignorance, my words made him pause. “Call me Rafi,” he smiled. Then with a shove off the door frame, he resumed prowling towards his room.

Leaning out into the hall, I called softly so as not to disturb Noa, “Goodnight, Rafi.”

He sent me a final glance. “Buenas noches, Selah.”


Author Bio:

Talis Jones is a Mexican-English author of magic and mischief. Graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Theatre she has explored both stage and film, now finding herself drawn towards the literary world as a new venue for storytelling.

Dog mom, Broadway enthusiast, and life-long bibliophile, Talis currently resides in North Carolina.

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A Wish Too Dark And Kind by M.L. Blackbird

A Wish Too Dark And Kind
M.L. Blackbird
Publication date: November 1st 2021
Genres: Adult, Dark Fantasy, Horror, Urban Fantasy

Among the immortals that inhabit our world, Arnaud Demeure is known as the man who can fulfill your one true wish or who can also conjure your worst nightmares.

Eight invitations are sent to eight immortals, and when Arnaud Demeure hosts a party, no one refuses his request. Why have they been summoned? Is it for a celebration or does a sinister fate await them? After all, in the ways of Magick, a party can also be a ritual to end the world.

As the mystery deepens, the attendees must overcome their personal grudges to unravel the threads of Demeure’s grand plan that has been centuries in the making. But, with one of the guests secretly working with their host to sabotage the group’s every move, it seems impossible to look behind the curtain to learn Demeure’s true intentions.

With each guest hiding dark secrets and darker intentions, will they be able to uncover Demeure’s mysterious motives or will the party prove to be the deadly nightmare that they each fear?

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EXCERPT:

The young sister ran through the silent city while the prophet waited for her to arrive. The old man knew she would come; he had seen her already. Hidden by the shadow of an old staircase, eyes fixed on the door, he tried not to get distracted by the creatures in his vision.

Thousands of them, maybe millions, all crammed within glass walls.

The youngest sat at the center of the glass prison. It was taller than the tallest mountain. It was quiet amid the frenzy of its brothers. Its head so high it saw beyond the ceiling of its prison, straight into the realm of the Eldest Lords. Light leaked from underneath its shaking, half-closed eyelids. It peeked into the future.

As the prophet watched them, the creatures stared at him from far away. He could see them, yet his mind could not make full sense of their shapes, only of a few features. A crowd of wings, fangs, stingers, and every piece of every animal he could think of, and some he had never seen, crawling on each other while human parts pushed their way through. The tall one, its eyes closed, hummed over and over.

“We are so close. It won’t be long.”

The others followed its chanting and moved back and forth in front of the glass holding them prisoners, just like animals expecting a bite of their prey.

The prophet almost missed the nun’s arrival. She ran up the stairs, hesitating as she put one foot on the first step.

Unseen, the prophet followed.

From the roof, he tasted the entire city. A forest of concrete and metal spreading in every direction, so much so that nothing existed if not within it. The sun blinded him, shining in white and gold. Dawn was a miracle. He stood still, in awe of the most magnificent city, and he almost forgot he had followed someone.

But there she was, the young sister, standing close to the balustrade, her arms raised to the sky, her shape dark against the sunlight.

The tall metallic tower pierced the sky and stabbed the sun, just like an arrow. The star bled, scattering its light all over the town.

White particles fell from the sky. Snow perhaps, or dust, he could not say. He dared to look up. The sky had turned dark despite the sun shining in it, light still leaking over the city.

In the cold air, no sound but the wind.

Nothing else made a noise. No sound of cars or their horns. No talking or music playing, no chirping of birds.

The prophet stood transfixed.

Cars were still on the asphalt, their lights on. Some stuck in place, some coasting along the streets. Many had slid, hitting nearby objects. Tombstones in an old graveyard, they lay against each other, against lampposts, or sat on the sidewalks.

Men and women, asleep, still clung to their steering wheels.

Their heads blasted out of the windshields or hung from the windows. Hundreds and hundreds of bodies covered the sidewalks and the streets. More must have been resting within the buildings, unmoving, untouched.

Here and there, white, black, and red stains, each tens of meters long, covered the streets—flocks of birds caught in whatever happened.

Nobody moved, nobody talked, everyone rested in this cemetery, testimony of a dark miracle.

The world had moved on. The city, now empty, stayed behind.

Paris was dead, and the Great Ones were free.

Author Bio:

Born and raised in Sicily, M.L. spent most of his early life inventing stories and believing he could live in them.

In high school, he spent way too much time watching B movies, playing video games, and reading everything he could get his hands on, provided it wasn’t recommended by any authority figure.

M.L. spent most of his college years and adult life writing in languages only machines can understand until he decided to put some of his stories on the page.

After a few years spent in Scotland, now M.L. lives in Seattle with his wife, his cat, and a large assortment of books. When not writing, he still enjoys playing video games and explaining board game rules to his friends.

You can follow M.L. on: https://mylittleblackbird.com.

M.L. also writes as Sebastiano Merlino.

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