Monday, July 31, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Romance
I put my truck in park and hop out, walking toward the door with trepidation. I hope the food tastes better than this place looks.
A metal bell chimes overhead as I open the door. I’m surprised to find the inside is quite different than what greets you in the service area of this place. The area is bright with white linoleum floors and shiny gunmetal countertops. There’s a soda fountain and coffee stations to the left and the cashier’s check out to the right. A portly appearing older gentleman appears to be reading the newspaper, sitting on a stool behind the counter.
“Hi. Are you Elliot? I’m working with my brother this summer and he sent me to pick up lunch for his crew.”
“Ah, Harry your brother?” he asks around a toothpick dangling from the corner of his mouth.
“Well, any brother of Harry’s is a friend of mine. I’m Jo.”
“Matt. Nice to meet you. Oh. Salty Jo is you?”
He grins, and I instantly have the feeling this man is a fixture in Candy Cane Key.
“I don’t recall this place from when I grew up here.”
“What’re you? Thirty?”
The bell chimes again, and I notice customers meandering around the place. No one seems the slightest bit concerned about the condition of the place. I’m sure they have to pass inspections with the health department, but I still can’t help being a tad concerned about eating lunch from a place like this.
“Well, we’ve been here as long as you’ve been on the planet, son. Although it probably looked a bit better back then. Time and multiple tropical storms have taken their toll on the place. After a while, it gets to feel silly sinking any more money into it. But your brother has come to our aid more than once for the important stuff.”
This makes me smile. My brother really is a good dude.
“Speaking of your brother, I guess we need to keep his boys fed.” Jo removes the toothpick that remains in place throughout our conversation and points toward his right. “Elliot’s over there. In the deli area.” A mischievous smirk curls the corner of his mouth.
What’s that about? “Thanks.”
“Nice to meet you, Matt. Hope to see you ‘round.”
I turn in the direction of the deli and feel my stomach grumble as I’m hit with the aroma of fried chicken. Now I live in a mountain town in North Carolina where home cooking is a staple. So for the scent of these gas station offerings before me to cause me to salivate says something.
Bending forward, I take in the options within the glass case. There are perfectly prepared pieces of chicken, both on and off the bone, macaroni and cheese, green beans, collard greens, baked apples, and an assortment of pies. Hell, they even have banana pudding here. As my eyes travel to the back of the display area, I find I’m drooling for an entirely different reason. A set of shapely calves, thick thighs, and the hottest backside I’ve ever seen is bent over before me. This girl is leaning into the oven while her tiny cut-off shorts ride up her legs, causing my dick to twitch.
Hell, is she on the menu?
As if on cue, she stands to her full height. She’s probably about five foot five, with generous curves in all the right places. Those perky tits have to be at least a C cup, if not more. They are perfectly proportioned to her rounded hips and trim waste. Her thick auburn hair is pulled up in a messy bun, covered with a hair net. Yet, I can’t help picturing it tumbling down her back toward that fantastic ass. Shit. I don’t remember anyone in Candy Cane Key looking like this when I lived here. Well, maybe one girl, but she was just that. A girl. While this one is all woman.
I barely finish my thought before said stunner turns to face me. While I stand here with my mouth hanging open at the beauty wielding silver tongs before me, I’m met with the biggest green eyes I’ve ever seen. She simply gives me the once over as if this happens all the time. This curvy girl has my mouth watering when it suddenly hits me.
Wait. Do these guys come here for the hot chicken or the hot chick?
The Ring Academy: The Trials of Imogene Sol
Publication date: August 1st 2023
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Imogene Sol has had to work twice as hard for everything she has earned as a cadet at The Ring Academy on Serta. An orphan of notorious parents who killed hundreds of thousands of people in a bombing against the Federation, most people hate her by name alone, others have gone out of their way to make her life difficult. Though she’s managed to acquire a handful of trusted friends over her years at the academy, most of her peers loathe her. But she’s made her mark in the top ten of her cadet class and she’s ready to compete for what’s next.
As the Year Seven Final Trials begin—a series of tests to determine placement within the Federation—Imogene knows all her hopes are riding on her performance. But when she’s framed for an offense that could not only get her expelled from the academy but also incarcerated, Imogene must discover who’s behind the threat against her. When her greatest competition, Timaeus Kade, offers to help her solve the mystery to clear her name, Imogene must decide if she’s willing to trust him. The stakes are high. Only the mysterious saboteur strikes again, justifying she needs his help, proving the stakes aren’t just her future anymore but her life.
Imogene raced across the room to grab the bo staff leaning against the wall, her opponent just steps behind her. The zip of his staff buzzed the air near her head as she ducked, rolled across the mat, and grabbed the weapon she needed from the holder. She turned and crouched with her back to the wall, wielding her staff to block her attacker. The clack of his weapon against hers vibrated up her arm through her elbow, jarring her teeth, but she ignored the discomfort—she was used to it—and shot forward.
“That’s all you’ve got?” She smirked at her opponent.
Vempur growled, showing his sharp incisors. His stark, black hair curled against his umber-toned temple slick with sweat as he followed it up by stabbing the end of the staff toward her face. His eyes, usually green flecked with sparkles of gold, turned completely black as he swung.
She blocked and went for a jab.
Vempur parried, then swung the staff at her head, once more with a loud grunt and frustrated huff. “You’re too quick,” he snapped.
Imogene smiled at her best friend but subdued the laugh. She knew he wouldn’t take it well in the middle of a fight. Not with everyone watching. Their silent, judgmental gazes were enough of a deterrent to keep Vempur’s temper in check. Besides, she wouldn’t have appreciated his humor at the moment either. There was too much on the line.
“You’re stronger. Taller,” she grunted out as she ducked once more. It wasn’t to feed his ego. “Find my weakness.”
“What weakness?” he snapped, frustrated more with himself than her, it would seem. “You haven’t lost yet today.”
“Exactly. I’m tired.”
Vempur growled, surging forward.
But she couldn’t afford to lose and that was the difference.
She rocked back, arching as the staff narrowly missed her gut, then swung her stick out to catch Vempur’s feet. He jumped and brought his bow down to the mat barely missing her back as she rolled out from under his strike.
“Stars!” Halo Mins—their instructor—yelled across the sparring room. “It shouldn’t look like a dance. It should look like a fight!”
Several of the other Year Sevens in the room snickered, and she knew it was at their expense.
“Shit,” Imogene swore, resetting as she hopped away. “He’s going to knock me down.”
“He won’t. He can’t.” Vempur punched out, and Imogene blocked the weapon. They pushed against one another and locked, resting for a beat. “You’ve dominated everyone today.”
“Not everyone.” She pushed, using her momentum to twist and swing, the pole wide, catching Vempur’s ankles. His giant frame slammed against the mat, and she went in for the kill, feigning a stab into his throat.
Vempur opened his hands against his bow staff in supplication and frowned. “Everyone knows you belong on the leaderboard, Imogene.”
As a kid, CL Walters, world revolved around two things: stories and make believe. She's built a real life around those two things: a teacher of stories and a writer of make believe.
With four books now published, she's looking forward to her fifth release October 13, 2020, a YA Contemporary Romance called The Stories Stars Tell.
Sign up for her newsletter for news, goodies, and fun (www.clwalters.net)
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Horror, Dark fantasy, psychological thriller, fiction, occult
Date Published: July 17, 2023
After losing his job at a genomic research company, Joel worries about his ability to provide for his family, especially during the holiday season. Even more concerning is how his unemployment may affect his perfect image within the extremist community he has lived in since birth. Lured by the idea of a quick fix, he impulsively books a flight for himself and his family to Europe when the offer of a large inheritance arrives in his inbox. Confident that he knows best, Joel blindly trusts a stranger's invitation to return to the village of his ancestors to collect his birthright. But rather than wealth, they quickly discover that their lineage only possesses monstrous truths with deadly consequences.
About the Author
Brigitte, "Gitte," Tamar was born in a small rural Oregon town. Growing up, she was enthralled by scary tales featuring poetic tones and consistently gravitated towards writing darkened narratives. In the different storylines, Brigitte explores the harsh realities of social issues faced by today's generations. This includes the dark outcomes brought on by peer pressure, addiction, homelessness, mental illness, childhood trauma, and abuse. She feels it is essential to share narratives that refrain from sugarcoating the topics society tends to shy away from.
Yoga One For Me
(Misty Falls, #1)
Publication date: October 30th 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
They say you can’t outrun your problems, but that won’t stop me from trying…
It takes my boyfriend proposing for me to realize I need a new life plan, and fast! So I grab my yoga mat and hit the road. I talk my best friend into swapping places while I sort things out. Her small town of Misty Falls is incredible, and exactly what I need to rethink my life choices.
Everything is going great until I run into her brother Rake — literally — and my dinner ends up all over his clothes. Even covered in mashed potatoes, he’s gorgeous. Not that I care. The last thing I need is a relationship after just fleeing one…
The moment Josie dumps food on me, I know I’m done for. Between the tornado of a person she is and the unexpected surprise that she’s my sudden roommate, I’m in for a ride. But I’ve got too much at stake to let her become a distraction. My lifelong dream depends on staying away from her.
Even if it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Yoga One For Me is a sweet and funny romcom that will warm your heart. It’s a full-length standalone novel that takes place in a charming small town overlooking the beach. Once you step foot in Misty Falls, you won’t want to leave.
Get it FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
I put down the yoga mat and check the fridge. It’s fully stocked with enough food to feed a football team. Raine went all out, and I only left her some bags to dump in the Crockpot. I owe her big time.
My mouth waters as I rifle through the contents of the fridge. I’m going to double my weight if I try to eat all of this before it goes bad. Most of it will end up in the freezer.
As my stomach roars, I make myself a plate of food and fill a glass with iced tea. Then I head for the dining room, my mouth watering.
I round the corner and crash into something. No, someone. A very tall and very muscular someone.
His eyes widen as my food smashes against his white button-down shirt and my black iced tea runs down his khaki pants, making it look like he wet himself. Maybe he did — I can be scary.
I scream. Smack his side with my plate. He’s surprisingly solid. “Get out!”
He backs up, holding out his hands. “Me? I live here. You get out!”
My pulse thrums in my ears. “No, I do. This is my house for the summer.”
“Says who?” He pulls mashed potatoes from his shirt and flops them onto my plate. His wavy, dirty-blonde hair blocks his face, and he brushes it aside getting food in it.
I get lost in his eyes for a moment. Until I remember that he’s an intruder, and my life is in danger. “Leave! Before I call the police.”
“Did you catch the part about me living here?”
I throw the potatoes back at him. “I don’t know who you are, but Raine said I’d have this house to myself.”
He’s really hot. Maybe he’s one of the guys she’s seeing, and he doesn’t realize she’s in Nevada. That makes sense. But why would he think he lives here?
“If you live here, you should know.” I fold my arms.
He tilts his head, and while he looks menacing he also takes my breath away. “I don’t keep track of where my sister is.”
His sister? He’s Raine’s brother.
Crap. He really does have every right to be here.
Though we’ve never met, now I recognize him from the pictures I’ve seen over the years. He’s even taller and more gorgeous in person.
It takes me a moment to find my voice. “You’re Rake.”
“In the flesh.”
“You still have to leave. This isn’t part of my contract with Raine.” There is no contract. At least not on paper. But she did promise me the house to myself. That’s like a contract. In a way. Fine, it’s a stretch. But I’m going with it.
Rake’s brows furrow. “Leave? I need to shower, thanks to you.”
“After that, you can go.” I storm to my room, taking my useless plate of squished food with me. I’ve lost my appetite anyway.
Eden has always lived in the Pacific Northwest, and it's her favorite place to write about. She loves hiking in the great outdoors, sitting by lakes, watching waterfalls, and of course reading romantic comedies. There's nothing like love and laughter to to lift a person's spirits, and that's a gift she hopes to share with all of her readers every time they open one of her books.
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Cosplay and Confrontation
Publication date: September 26th 2023
Genres: Comedy, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Pride and Prejudice meets the legends of King Arthur in this sapphic rivals-to-lovers, sweet romantic comedy packed with plenty of banter and tension.
Obstinate and headstrong cosplayer Elaine Knight prided herself on two things; her quality cosplays and being a good judge of character. Gwendolyn Reid took both of those from her. They used to be best friends, until Gwen broke their best friend’s heart and skipped town. At least with Gwen out of the way, Lanie was a shoo-in to win the upcoming cosplay contest.
Except now Gwen’s back.
Gwendolyn Reid should be thinking about meeting her fans, winning the cosplay contest, and dancing at the ball. Instead, all she can think about is Lanie, their unresolved issues, and her unrequited feelings. Unfortunately, there’s no denying that the only feeling Lanie has for Gwen is hatred.
Lucky for them both, it is a truth universally acknowledged that rivals are bound to fall in love.
Sarah is an author of happy endings for traumatized queers. She is a bisexual feminist and a licensed therapist. Her books often deal with themes of feminism, trauma, sexuality, and mental health. She lives in New England with her husband and 2 black cats named Gatsby and Mr. Darcy. When she isn't writing, she can be found perusing a book in her home library that features over 400 books, making chaotic book themed videos for TikTok (aka Booktok), taking forest walks, visiting castles, planning exotic trips she can't afford, or cuddled up with one of her cats crying over fictional characters or yelling at them about how badly they need therapy.
Year of the Fledgling
Publication date: July 29th 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Theron, the Eradicator, has one job: to protect the people of Starcast by killing the deadly creatures that attack them. That’s it.
Being an Eradicator comes with a heavy price, however, for he’s strictly prohibited from having any kind of personal contact with the villagers.
But one night, he sneaks into the town’s harvest festival, anyway, and meets the lovely, young healer’s apprentice.
As Theron grows close to her, it becomes harder to tell what’s more dangerous: risking a fatal injury while battling dark ones or risking fatal punishment by beginning a secret dalliance with a forbidden girl.
In either case, doom seems to be the only outcome, and tension mounts as love and danger blur across the reach of this fantastical, seaside landscape.
She pounded on the thick door as hard and loudly as she could.
When it began to open and she had her first look at his face again—his features a mask of puzzled bewilderment—the terrible pressure in her chest finally released in a flood, and it all seemed to spill right out of her mouth.
“Wha…?” he started to ask.
But the flood had already hit her.
“I am beyond vexed with you,” she seethed, flinging off her hood so he could see the full extent of her rage before she pushed past him to enter the watchtower.
Theron glanced out into the darkening evening as if to make sure she didn’t have anyone else with her, then he shut the door and turned, lifting his eyebrows sternly. “Please tell me you did not walk up here by yourself.”
Ignoring his question, she demanded, “Honestly, how could you do this to me?”
“Are you absolutely mad?” he challenged right back, just as upset as she, and stormed forward. “What were you thinking? If someone had seen you—”
“They would’ve shrugged me off as you! But no one saw me. And I was thinking about how mad I am,” she railed, lifting her chin to meet his swirling, livid gaze.
Theron scoffed. “Yes, I can tell you’re unhappy, but that gives you no right to put your very livelihood at stake to come up here and tell me thus.”
“It’s my livelihood to worry about, and my right to risk it as I please.”
“And you are one of two people left in this entire, bleeding world that I’m allowed to still talk to. So I refuse to let you be so frivolous with your—”
“Argh!” she shrieked, lifting her hands and curling her fingers as if to display her claws at him. “You are so maddening.”
One of his eyebrows arched, then he burst out grinning. “But am I maddening enough for you to want to kiss me senseless again? Please say yes.”
She snorted. “Hardly. You’re certainly maddening enough to make me want to wring your fool neck as hard as I can, though.”
Lifting his chin to put his neck on full display, Theron countered, “Well, take your best shot, little healer-in-training. But first, would you at least tell me what I did wrong this time that made you so mad? A fellow appreciates at least knowing why he’s being strangled.”
Xia sucked in an irate breath. Then her chin trembled. And finally, the tears that she’d been holding back all the way from Norbin’s pig pen came gushing down her cheeks.
“You made me care for you!” she accused, weeping so soundly that her entire body shuddered and she had to cover her mouth with both hands to contain it.
Linda writes romance fiction from YA to adult, contemporary to fantasy. Most Kage stories lean more toward the lighter, sillier side with a couple meaningful moments thrown in. Focuses more on entertainment value and emotional impact.
Published since 2010. Went through a 2-year writing correspondence class in children's literature from The Institute of Children's Literature. Then graduated with a Bachelors in Arts, English with an emphasis in creative fiction writing from Pittsburg State University.
Now she lives with hubby, two daughters, cat Holly, and nine cuckoo clocks in southeast Kansas, USA. Farm girl. Parents were dairy farmers. Was youngest of eight. Big family. Day job as a cataloging library assistant.
Harry Potter House Gryffindor, Patronus White Stallion, character match Hagrid. Supernatural Team Dean. Game of Thrones Team Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. The Walking Dead Team Daryl. Outlander Team Jamie Fraser. Teen Wolf Team Stiles. Avenger Team Thor...or Hulk (can't decide). Justice League Team Flash. Arrow Team Stephen Amell. Stranger Things obsessed. Heard Laurel, not Yanny.
Started out reading with the Baby-Sitters Club. Then moved to Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, and LaVyrle Spencer in high school. Now all over the place with her romance reading tastes.
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Dead Among Stars
A Maddie Swallows Mystery Book 4
by Kat Bellemore
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Among Stars is
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Kat Bellemore is a small-town romance and cozy mystery author. Deciding to have New Mexico as the setting for two of her series was an easy choice, considering its amazing sunsets, blue skies and tasty green chile. That, and she currently lives there with her husband and two cute kids. They hope to one day add a dog to the family, but for now, the native animals of the desert will have to do. Though, Kat wouldn't mind ridding the world of scorpions and centipedes. They're just mean.
You can visit Kat at www.kat-bellemore.com.
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