Feed Your Readers: Three Female Athletes – Three Hot Happy Ever After Endings


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*One thing I need to decide for myself … am I playing to win, or playing for keeps? *

Angelica Bryant

Football is my passion. Right now, I have a chance to make my dream of being the best midfielder in the Women’s Aussie Rules competition a reality. And soon I’ll finish my studies and succeed in a role in sports management. For now, working in my dad’s bar pays the bills. Even if he used to be a world-famous soccer legend and can’t care less about Aussie Rules.
I won’t let anything get in my way. Not even the hot-as-hot one-night stand who, oh yes, just turned out to be Jaxon Flint, one of Australia’s most successful sports agents … and he’s offered me a job. We’ve agreed we have to forget about our attraction to both stay on the track we’ve laid out for ourselves. So why does the idea of being with Jaxon make me want to take the biggest risk of my life?

Jaxon Flint

I told her my name was Jack. She told me her name was Angel. But an angel she wasn’t when I took her home for the most amazing night of my life. I  picked her up in a sports bar … but I never expected her to turn out to be the rising star of the new Women’s Aussie Rules football competition. Or a natural at handling ego-fuelled sports superstars.  I knew Angie was someone I had to hire … and a star I would be lucky to represent. Those are both good reasons to stay away from her. And after the way I failed my sister, I know I should stay away from someone so driven to excel. So why can’t I get it out of my head that I want to be everything to my Angel?

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I’m following one of my dreams … but do I dare to follow my heart? 

Cress Kennedy

One thing everyone in Grong Grong knows about me: it’s always been my dream to play Aussie Rules Football. And now the Sydney Sirens are signing me for the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition. I’m headed to Sydney. To stay with my brother’s best friend. Quin. But here’s one thing no-one in Grong Grong knows about me: how much I want Quin to see me as a woman, and take him for myself…

Quin Fitzpatrick

I knew as soon as she got a chance to play in the Women’s Aussie Rules competition that Cress would be a star. I knew it made sense for her to come and stay with me, where I could protect her, show her the ropes—Watercress from Grong Grong, the little sister I never had. I never expected Cress—gorgeous, generous Cress—to shake me out of my rut. Now how am I ever going to go back to life without her around.

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Darcy

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to play for the Brisbane Banshees in the new Women’s Aussie Rules league. I think I’ve proved that given that I’m willing to put up with the coach being my ex, Tony. He may have stomped over my heart, but I’ve moved on, and I’m focused on my team. I don’t need any men in my life—apart from Levi, of course, my roommate, and friend. And my saviour, now that I’ve corked my thigh in our first game, and need his sports massage skills to get me back on the field. What I feel when Levi touches me … is making things very complicated.

Levi

Darcy was always my best friend’s girl—Tony’s girl. Two years on and she still doesn’t know how I’ve felt all this time. There’s no way I’m leaving her in pain when I can fix her injury and get her back to playing the sport she loves. No matter how much touching her makes me want to make her mine at last. Finally, I’ve got a bit of hope—the last thing we need is Tony suddenly deciding he wants to take Darcy back after all…

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The Highlander didn’t wear plaid – a brief history of the kilt

by Amy Rose Bennett

The kilt is regarded as a quintessential part of traditional Highland dress and is synonymous with Scottish patriotism and clanship. And nothing really says ‘Scottish historical romance’ as clearly as a handsome Highlander sporting a kilt on the cover! Yet the Jacobite heroes in my stories The Master of Strathburn and my upcoming release The Laird of Blackloch, rarely wear kilts or anything made of tartan.

Why not?

The reason is rooted in the tumultuous history of eighteenth century Scotland, the period in which my two Highland Rogue Series novels are set. During that era, there were two major rebellions against British rule: the first Jacobite Uprising occurred in 1715 and the second, in 1745. But before we visit that period of history and why Highlanders—and my two Jacobite heroes—could no longer where plaid following the Forty-Five, let’s explore the earlier backstory of the kilt.

The evolution of the kilt is quite fascinating. Although there is still some debate about when Highlanders first began to wear the kilt or ‘plaid’ it may have been as long ago as the tenth century. Early plaids were thought to consist of a long woollen cloak, perhaps six yards by two, and were reminiscent of a Roman toga. These garments were fashioned from plain wool or simple tartans containing only two or three natural shades such as white, brown, green, and black. The dyes would have been extracted from parts of plants and trees such as roots, berries, bark, flowers, and leaves. Some historians maintain that fabrics with distinctive setts—checked patterns—only came into widespread use during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and tended to be associated with regional areas or districts rather than particular clans. Indeed, many of the brightly coloured clan tartans we’re familiar with today were actually designed during Queen Victoria’s reign in the nineteenth century.

Some believe the war attire of medieval Highland clan warriors a la Braveheart wasn’t actually the plaid or kilt, but rather a long, pleated or quilted tunic of linen, leather, or canvas which came down below the knees—the leine croich. It was often paired with a hide jerkin or, in some instances, chain mail to protect the neck and shoulders, and topped off with a conical metal helmet. There’s some evidence this garb was worn until the end of the sixteenth century; it can still be seen on tombstones of Highland soldiers in places such as Argyllshire and the Isles of Scotland.

The forerunner of today’s kilt, the belted plaid—fhéilidh breacan or fhéilidh mor in Scots Gaelic—began to appear during the sixteenth century, but didn’t become popular everyday wear for Highlanders until the seventeenth century. It consisted of several yards of thick woollen fabric gathered up into pleats around the waist and was secured by a wide leather belt. It was worn over a long, knee length undershirt and donned in a rather complicated fashion; the wearer placed his belt on the ground, laid the plaid over it, then folded one end into pleats. After lying on top, he then fastened the belt around his waist with the pleated section becoming the kilt. The upper part of the plaid could be arranged in various ways; often it was drawn up over the back and draped over the shoulder, and then fastened in place with a pin or brooch. The Highlander’s sword arm was usually left free. The extra fabric could also be drawn up over the head and shoulders like a cloak to provide protection from the elements in inclement weather. And apparently at night, the plaid was used as a blanket. A very useful garment indeed!

At some point during the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, a shorter kilt called the philabeg or ‘small kilt’ emerged, although the belted plaid was also still worn. Sewn in pleats and belt loops became a feature. Although it’s still a topic of dispute amongst some historians, around the same time it also appears that Highland clans, families, and military regiments began the practice of using certain tartan patterns or ‘setts’ as a means of identification. After the Restoration of 1660, a permanent force of Highlanders loyal to King Charles II—the ruler of Great Britain and Ireland—was established to ‘keep watch upon the braes’. Known as the Highland Independent Companies, individual regiments began to wear plaid with particular setts—a tartan uniform.

Following the first Jacobite Uprising in 1715 in which the exiled ‘Old Pretender’, James Francis Edward Stuart, attempted to claim the throne of England, Ireland, and Scotland, the British government raised the famous Black Watch regiments to police the Highlands. Commanded by clan leaders loyal to the Crown, these troops were to be ‘employed in disarming the Highlanders, preventing depredations, bringing criminals to justice, and hindering rebels and attainted persons from inhabiting that part of the kingdom’. The members wore a distinctive darkly hued tartan of green, blue, and black which became known as the Black Watch tartan. It’s still in use today.

And now at last we come to the period The Master of Strathburn and The Laird of Blackloch are set in—the second Jacobite Rebellion of 1745! Many Jacobite rebels—just like my Highlander heroes—wore tartan kilts as an informal uniform during the uprising. Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender—so named because he was the son of the Old Pretender —attempted to wrest the British throne from George II.

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However his bid failed when the Jacobite army was roundly defeated at the fateful Battle of Culloden on the 16th April 1746. Immediately following the Rebellion, the Dress Act was imposed by the British government; the wearing of plaid or tartan in any form was banned in an effort to suppress Highland culture and Scottish nationalism, in effect, to crush the spirit of the Highlanders who’d rebelled. Only the Black Watch was exempted. The penalties for breaching the ban were severe—six months imprisonment for a first offense and for the second, transportation to the colonies for seven years. The Dress Act was in place for thirty-six years and wasn’t lifted until 1782. Other punitive measures that were introduced to pacify the rebellious clans included proscribing the Gaelic language and the ownership and use of firearms.

The_Battle_of_Culloden

So now you know why my heroes, Robert Grant and Alexander MacIvor don’t wear plaid. But then, I also think braw Highlanders look quite fine in form-fitting buckskin breeches and boots. And because I write historical romance, a cravat, cambric shirt, waistcoat, and jacket are,of course, entirely optional.

References:

  • Way of Plean, George and Squire Romilly (1995). Clans and Tartans. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers
  • MacLeod, John (1997). Highlanders: A History of the Gaels. London: Hodder and Stoughton

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Revenge might be sweet, but love is far sweeter…

Following the Battle of Culloden, Alexander MacIvor returns to his ancestral home, Blackloch Castle, only to find the Earl of Tay, chief of the rival Clan Campbell, has laid waste to everything he holds dear. In the face of such devastation, Alex seems doomed to live the life of a fugitive Jacobite…until a stroke of good luck allows him to escape the Highlands and begin again.

Years later, styling himself as a wealthy Englishman, Alexander reclaims his forfeited estate, becoming the new Laird of Blackloch. But it’s not nearly enough to quell his thirst for vengeance. Hell-bent on destroying Lord Tay, he single-mindedly sets about driving his nemesis to bankruptcy. When he learns the earl intends to marry the very beautiful English heiress, Miss Sarah Lambert, thus escaping penury, he devises a devious plan: kidnap Miss Lambert and ransom her to hasten Tay’s ruin.

When Sarah Lambert learns Lord Tay is not the man she thought he was during a masquerade ball in Edinburgh, she is devastated. Reeling from her discovery, things go from bad to worse when a mysterious yet charming guest by the name of Alexander Black turns out to be a true devil in disguise. Abducted and whisked way into the wild Highlands by Black, Sarah is imprisoned in a remote, island-bound tower. Refusing to be a pawn in Black’s diabolical plan for revenge, she determines that somehow, some way, she will regain her freedom. If only she could unlock Black’s secrets…

Living in such close quarters, Alexander quickly discovers the spirited Sarah is more than a match for him, and even the best laid plans can go awry when passion flares and the spark of love threatens to revive his long-dead heart. When the shadows of the past begin to gather, will Alexander and Sarah find their way forward…or will the threatening darkness destroy them both?

The Laird of Blackloch is available for pre-order now!

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A sweeping, sexy Highland romance about a wanted Jacobite with a wounded soul, and a spirited Scottish lass on the run.

Robert Grant has returned home to Lochrose Castle in the Highlands to reconcile with his long-estranged father, the Earl of Strathburn. But there is a price on Robert’s head, and his avaricious younger half-brother, Simon, doesn’t want him reclaim

ing his birthright. And it’s not only Simon and the redcoats that threaten to destroy Robert’s plans after a flame-haired complication of the feminine kind enters the scene…

Jessie Munroe is forced to flee Lochrose Castle after the dissolute Simon Grant tries to coerce her into becoming his mistress. After a fateful encounter with a mysterious and handsome hunter, Robert, in a remote Highland glen, she throws her lot in with the stranger—even though she suspects he is a fugitive. She soon realises that this man is dangerous in an entirely different way to Simon…

Despite their searing attraction, Robert and Jessie struggle to trust each other as they both seek a place to call home. The stakes are high and only one thing is certain: Simon Grant is in pursuit of them both…

The Master of Strathburn is available now!

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Feed Your Reader: Dystopian Menage Trilogy Concludes

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They fight for their survival, they fight for their love, and they fight for the human race.

Euan left his home whole, only to return broken, battered, and partially blind. He has endured the torments inflicted upon him by monster and man, but they are nothing compared to the consequences of betraying Nick and Kira. Incapacitated, he has no choice but to concede leadership to the man he considered his enemy, and is powerless as the distance between him and those he loves deepens and grows.

But his recovery time is short lived. The commander of destruction still lurks in the shadows, determined to dominate and control what is left of the human race. The final battle is upon them. They need a champion, a hero for humanity. There is no where left to run, and there is only one person who can provide the ultimate catalyst for change: A little, blonde sun-sprite, with crystal blue eyes.

“an atmospheric, descriptive and exciting read” – Deborah, Netgalley

“This book is a triumph! The perfect blend of ménage romance and suspense set in a post-apocalyptic, almost Mad Maxesque world.” – Eliza, Goodreads (on True Refuge) 

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Exclusive Excerpt 2: Bittersweet

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A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Tom dropped Amy home later that night. He walked her to the back door of Sugar Cakes and waited for her to open the lock and turn the inside light on.

She had a feeling he didn’t want the night to end. If she were to be honest, she’d admit she felt the exact same.

Thank you so much for today,’ she said as they lingered on the doorstep under the filmy light that spilled over them. ‘I really appreciate your help. And for tonight too. I had a great time.’ And she truly did. She enjoyed Tom’s company a great deal.

Even now, as she looked up into his face, she ignored the buzz of anticipation that tingled through her body.

I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.’

I did. I needed it.’ She had needed to do something just for the hell of it. Not out of obligation or duty, but just for fun. She had already dedicated so much to her career, she’d forgotten what that was like.

Tom looked into her eyes as he smiled; Amy melted just a little. How could she not. This man was incredible—warm, compassionate, and as sexy as sin. And he was completely respecting the boundaries she had delineated. No pressure.

But, the worst thing they could have done was sleep together because now that she had had a taste of him, she knew how great it could be, and she wanted more. So much more.

Could she take it there again? Would it really be so bad if they were to let this attraction play out physically for the duration they had left together?

There was no denying that Tom was becoming a huge part of her life.

There was no denying that she was developing real emotions for him.

Her breaths grew thinner, louder, as much as she tried to hide it. But there was nowhere to hide, for in this silence was only their breaths and beating hearts.

So, I guess I’ll see you later in the week?’ he asked, but his words were thin. He was obviously on the same train of thought she had stumbled onto. But how could he not be when all the space between them was becoming charged with their need to touch one another.

Before she could think of all the reasons why she shouldn’t, Amy reached for his hand. A warm current coursed through her arm. She needed his touch so much she ached.

His gaze met hers.

Her thumb moved over the back of his hand and that small gesture stole her breath. His eyelids dipped a little, and his next intake of air was rushed.

Still his eyes held hers.

She took a step closer. His warmth reached across the space between them and caressed her, urged her to come even closer. Could she?

Amidst all the pain and the uncertainty of the future, could she let Tom in? Even if only for a short while?

Her breaths were making her chest rise and fall. Her heart sped up pace.

Amy?’ asked Tom, a deep whisper.

For a long moment, she didn’t answer, still indecisive. No-one but themselves could get hurt here.

Was he worth that risk?

He reached for her, his hand cupping her jaw, thumb smoothing over her cheek. She nestled into his touch. ‘Amy?’

Was it really so wrong when everything inside her was screaming at her to take the leap, to fall into him.

Will you catch me?’ she whispered.

His gaze flickered from her eyes to her lips, then he nodded. ‘And I won’t let go.’

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Feed Your Reader: A vineyard, three brothers, and the magic of cupcakes.

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A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Amy Jenkins, a talented and ambitious chef, is left humiliated and debt-ridden, after her city restaurant fails. When her best friend calls asking for help in her small town cupcake shop, Amy jumps at the chance to hide out in the small town of Alpine Ridge while her shattered ego mends.

The youngest Mathews brother, Tom feels over-looked and under-appreciated. His brothers remember every mistake, but never give him the responsibility or opportunity to take his place in the family business. So, he spends three weeks out of every month working at a mine in the back-end of nowhere. But then Amy moves to town to help run his pregnant sister-in-law’s bakery, and suddenly home seems to be where his heart is.

Amy’s move was only ever meant to be temporary, but when tragedy strikes the Mathews family, Amy finds herself unable to move on. As she and Tom get closer, Amy finds every excuse to stay: first, she claims it’s for the family, then she claims it’s for the shop. But maybe, it’s for her own heart…

” I loved the way the story was woven and all its twists and turns. A box of tissues is a must!”  – Jeanne, NetGalley

“a lovely story of love, healing, and new beginnings.” – NetGalley Reviewer

“just gives you a huge happy sigh” – Becky, NetGalley

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Feed Your Reader: A Sexy Battle of Wills in a Dystopian Landscape

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Choosing a side has never been so dangerous…

The world didn’t end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remains of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

An assassin by trade, a loner by nature, Mercy is sent to infiltrate the Cartels and unmask the identity of their new silent partner. Instead, she discovers a darker plan threatening to crumble the entire Southwest and ends up with a hefty bounty on her head. Still, she’s determined to stop the impending attack at any cost, even if it means partnering up with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures.

After enduring a brutal, blood-soaked lesson on the savagery of civilisation’s scavengers, Havoc is well acquainted with the consequences of battling predators. But as a member of the nomadic band of arbitrators known as Fate’s Vultures, he’s determined to cement the necessary alliances to oust the biggest threat looming on the horizon. When an enigmatic woman crosses his path, her secrets and troubling loyalty light the fuse on an unexpected craving and his insatiable curiosity.

In order to trap a common foe and derail an impending threat, Havoc and Mercy must turn the tables to hunt a predator. Can an assassin and a mercenary find their balance on the thin line of loyalty, or will it snap under the weight of their wary hearts?

“I am a major fan of a good post apocalypse story and this definitely hit all the right spots…” Giselle, NetGalley

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The End of The World As We Know It

by Jami Gray

It’s the End of the World As We Know It, Will You Be Fine?

I’m humming along with REM in my head as I type, which is rather apropos considering the topic. In case you didn’t catch it, my writing superpower is creating vast worlds filled with magic, unexplained abilities and in the case of LYING IN RUINS and my soon-to-be-released BEG FOR MERCY, unexpected futures. The landscape I crafted for this series was created by my endless fascination with how the world would look and how its inhabitants would react when everything unravelled.

Now, I’ve had a couple of readers wince when they hear that my setting described as “post-apocalyptic” because, as they’ve said, “If it’s after the apocalypse, there’s nothing left, so where’s the story?” This gives me a window (slight though it may be) to explain that it’s not so much the end of the world as it’s the rupturing of known society and structured civilisation. People still live and love, just in a tougher landscape. Think of it like a futuristic old west. Trust me, it’s the perfect recipe for a cast of breath-stealing adventurers.

Take this scene from BEG FOR MERCY—who thought sheep could cause such chaos!

A racket at the far end of the street yanked her attention around. Ed and Havoc half turned in their chairs, while Vex got to her feet. A cloud of dust rose in the air, drifting closer on a rush of noise, a crush of yells, hooves, baas, and bells.

“Ah dammit!” Ed took one last gulp of coffee and pushed to his feet, before untangling from the bench. “Looks like Ben’s flock is making a run for it again.”

Mercy rose, Havoc doing the same on the other side. Around her the other lunch customer began their exodus. Under her feet, the ground vibrated and the noise and dust tumbled closer. Covering her nose and mouth in a vain attempt to keep the incoming grit out, she turned to follow the others even as Ed shouted, “Get a move on, people!” He slapped Havoc’s shoulder and pointed to the side of the eatery. “Head that way, we’ll circle around back.”

The last of the patrons sprung up and bailed just as the leading edge of sheep bled into the tables, scattering them. Because their table was closer to the building’s far edge, the wooly bodies became a sea of bleating obstacles and choking dust, dividing the lunch crowd. Scrambling back, Mercy didn’t get far before a large hand grabbed her wrist and pulled her along. The dust got thicker and the noise became deafening, turning the pleasant lunch area into a haze filled pit of chaos.

Havoc’s grip didn’t relent, and she stumbled in his wake, hitting one hip on a table’s edge with bruising force. She found her feet but when she bumped into Havoc’s back for the second time, she yanked her wrist free, and transferred her hand to his waistband. At least that way she wouldn’t end up with a smashed nose every few seconds.

Only after a series of turns freed them from the dust and took the noise down to a background din, did they slow and eventually stop. Letting go of Havoc, Mercy took in their new surroundings. It looked like they were on the back side of the market area. She could see the cloud of dust hovering above the awnings and roofs, the confusion a dull buzz, but at least there were no sheep wandering about.

Ed took off his hat and slapped it against his thigh, knocking off dust. “Damn kid knows better than to bring those thick-witted cotton heads down through main street.”

Next to him Vex coughed and used the tail end of her shirt to wipe her face. “Never thought I’d have to worry about death by sheep.”

As a devotee of the “what-if” scenarios, I thought I’d share a fun quiz and see how you’d fare at the end of the world.

Go ahead, answer a few questions and see what your future holds!
http://www.playbuzz.com/martinb10/how-would-you-fare-in-a-post-apocalyptic-world#eightieth

Just for giggles, I scored as:

A Deadzone Explorer

The old world is gone. There is a whole new set of continents transformed by cataclysmic events to discover. You will give birth to legends and be regarded as a pioneer by future generations.

If you feel like living dangerously and want to visit my unusual future, check out my Fate’s Vultures books:

LYING IN RUINS

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On a mission to retrieve a kidnapped child, a woman skilled in secrecy crosses paths with a nomadic vigilante bent on revenge. Despite their mutual distrust, the unlikely pair joins forces to hunt a common enemy. Together they must survive the predators picking through the desiccated remains of civilization. What will tear them apart first—their suspicions or their enemies?

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BEG FOR MERCY

(Available 9 January 2018)

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To trap a cunning and illusive predator, a protector forged in a blood soaked history must partner with the cynical heart of a betrayed assassin. Can the wary pair forge a bond of loyalty before suspicions and betrayals tear them apart?

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Feed Your Reader: Fresh, Funny Regency

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One knight, one runaway heiress, one rollicking romance:  A breath of fresh air in Regency romance!

Proud and haughty, Lord de Waare is almost as medieval as his castle…until he accidentally abducts a governess, who turns out not to be a governess at all, and who shows this knight that his heart is not as armoured as he thought.

A girl with a dangerous past, Marina would happily disappear again, but since de Waare won’t let that happen, then the least he can do is help her clear her name. But moving back into society is dangerous for her and for the stern man she’s coming to love. She knows the rules of honour and society, and she won’t allow de Waare to compromise the principles that define him.

But de Waare didn’t become the Crusader by accepting defeat. Faint heart never won a fair lady, and de Waares always win.

My Lady Governess is a sprightly and highly entertaining historical romance that had me laughing out loud. A great treat for fans of the genre.” – Anna Campbell, author of the bestselling Dashing Widows series

‘Extremely clever and unusual take on a Regency romance’ — Judith Gollihar, NetGalley

‘This was one of my favourite reads of 2017.’ —Sonya Heaney, NetGalley

My Lady Governess is available for now!

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Feed Your Reader: Hot New Adult Fantasy!

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The next book in the best-selling Forever Evermore series as Caro goes where no spirit elemental has gone before…

When Philip Masterson sends Caro back in time, he doesn’t expect to set off a series of events that will see her return stronger and more powerful than ever before. But her time spent with the Prodigies, Kings, and Elders in the nineties has long-reaching consequences that no one could have foreseen, consequences that increase tensions between the Mystical leadership when peace is needed.

Then Caro discovers something that changes the entire trajectory of her life, and finds herself torn: between the man she loves and the man who could mean everything, and the life that she’s chosen and the life that she was born to lead.

Chosen One is available today!

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Feed Your Reader: Fractured…

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They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun…

Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.

When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.

Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.

The second book in the Refuge Trilogy.

Fractured Refuge, Book Two, The Refuge Trilogy is available now!
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