The Deepest Well (Age of Gray #1) by @Juliette__Cross #Giveaway

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DeepestWell-The300The Deepest Well

Age of Gray

Book 1

Juliette Cross

Genre: historical paranormal romance

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Date of Publication: Feb. 2, 2016

ASIN: B016XTOQIS

Word Count: 85K

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Tagline: Love can stand the test of time. Can it rise above the taint of Hell?

blurbLady Katherine Blakely is married to a monster. On the same night she witnesses how low her husband can sink, she meets a charming stranger, a gentleman from top to toe. Yet even her gallant rescuer is possessed of a dark side.

Lord George Draconis Thornton, commander of the Dominus Daemonum, is on a mission to expel the demon prince Damas back to the underworld. But a golden-haired beauty derails his plans and stirs an attraction he’s never felt before, not even for his centuries-dead wife.

Discovering Lord Blakely is in league with Damas, George sweeps Katherine away from the chaos and devilry threatening her life. With every touch, their love grows by joyful leaps and bounds.

Sensing his enemy’s vulnerability, Damas kidnaps Katherine to his hellish lair, where he wages a sensual assault on her defenses. As George tears at heaven and earth to find her, he is painfully aware of only one way to save her soul. The cost will break her heart…and destroy his own.

Warning: Contains wolves in gentlemen’s clothing, a precipitous descent into Hell, and a frightening glimpse of a post-apocalyptic world where angels and demons wage war for dominion on earth.

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excerpt

“How do you know about the world of demons, George? How did you move as they did? I thought I had fainted by the pond and awakened beside the barn, but I didn’t, did I?”

Had she imagined being transported from the horses to the barn in a long blink?

“No, you didn’t faint. It’s called sifting. A power of the angels, to move from place to place at will.”

“But they weren’t angels.”

“They were once.”

Fallen angels. Could this be possible? What did that make the man standing before her? He inhaled a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Perhaps I should define the two realms for you.”

“That would be lovely.”

His mouth quirked at her sarcasm, though he chose not to comment. “There is the Flamma of Light and the Flamma of Dark.”

“Flamma?”

“Fire, in Latin, which is the common tongue between the heavenly and demonic hosts.”

She pulled her hand from his and stood, staring into the flames. “Why fire?”

He joined her and removed his wet coat. “I asked the same question once.” He winced as he peeled the coat off his right arm. A pool of red had soaked through his undershirt.

“Oh God, your arm, George. You’re bleeding.”

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing.”

Just as he had unbuttoned her jacket, she swiftly unfastened his waistcoat, then his shirt and peeled them off him. Steering her gaze away from his finely sculpted chest and broad shoulders, she examined the cut more closely. She bent over and, with a quick rip, tore a long strip from her shift.

“You needn’t do that, Katherine.”

“Be still and let me mend you as best I can.”

He held his arm straight so that she could wrap the fabric around his arm.

“Why fire?” she asked again, busying herself with the makeshift bandage.

“Flamma are all touched by fire, an otherworldly power given to each of us.”

She remembered the way he moved, the way the demons moved, with supernatural speed and agility. A drop of rain dripped from his tousled hair, landing on his shoulder before rolling forward. She followed its path as it slid down and over his pectoral. Trying to regain her composure, she inhaled a deep breath, which was a mistake. She breathed in the heady scent of rain and beautiful man, her agitation amplified by his proximity and the undeniable power surging through his body. She longed to touch him, to know what all that strength would feel like under her fingertips, but she was paralyzed by her own desire and wavered on a dangerous precipice. When she’d cinched the bandage into a neat knot and finally chanced a glance at him, his smile nearly buckled her knees.

“There,” she whispered. “That will stop the bleeding.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“What do you mean?”

His shoulders went rigid as if he were holding himself in tight control. Katherine knew his thoughts had wandered away from the wound in his arm. She asked again, “What do you mean, George?”

His eyes slid closed. “I love to hear my name on your lips.” He opened his eyes again, his jaw set in grave lines. “What I mean, my lady, is that I am bleeding inwardly, and I know of only one way to stop it.”

Katherine was well aware of the tension filling the room, of the rise of her heart rate, of the longing in his gaze, which surely matched her own. She realized she was tumbling over that cliff. And she didn’t care, quite content to drown in his aquamarine gaze.

“How can I stop it, George? Tell me.”

“I’d rather show you.”

bioJuliette is a multi-published author of paranormal and urban fantasy romance. She calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana IMG_2531home, where the landscape curls into her imagination, creating mystical settings for her stories. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance–brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more books set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

Website: https://www.juliettecross.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Juliette-Cross/e/B00MQ18Z1W/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliettecrossauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Juliette__Cross

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/crossjuliette/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7795664.Juliette_Cross

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/XeKIn

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Dying in Pleasure by Lady Ristretto {@LadyRistretto4u} #paranormal #historical #erotica

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dyingkindleDying in Pleasure
Lady Ristretto

Genre: paranormal/historical erotica

Publisher: Lady Ristretto

Date of Publication: April 1, 2015

ASIN: B00VHIM7UA

Number of pages: 385
Word Count: 102,000

Cover Artist: Ebooks Covers Design 

blurbLucia, the daughter of the richest family in Pompeii, disappears one night. The mystery goes unsolved and life moves on. The lives of Pompeii’s citizens intertwine: Ibis, a prostitute running the whorehouse owned by the Aedile, a city official, gets murdered by his wife Lucy. Lucy falls in love with Narcissus, the most treasured gladiator in Pompeii. The Aedile’s daughter, Julia, marries Rust, the man suspected to have murdered Lucia. Maro, Lucia’s slave, holds the families together and eventually discovers Lucia when she reappears in Pompeii twenty years later, and as a witch.

The events in Pompeii converged and lead to its ultimate, inevitable destruction. Only Lucia can help the city and save lives. In a ceremony requiring possession by a god, murder, and necromancy, Lucia discovers what is going to happen. But not everyone manages to get away.

Dying in Pleasure brings to life the long dead city of Pompeii, showing its citizens as vibrant, eccentric pleasure seekers. History, pain, violence and ritual blend in a pansexual orgy that is both exciting and extreme from beginning to end.

Available for Nook and Kindle

excerptLUCIA REFERRED to her patron goddess as Father. It was more respectful, a gesture insisted upon to mirror and mock Lucia’s upbringing: the Roman father is the family’s absolute authority. His power is unquestioned. The lives of his family are to do with as he wishes. In essence, he is the god of the family.

Lucia howled in rage on the hills; it wasn’t a wholly unique incident, but it wasn’t uninspired by Rust and Maro either. Lucia had grown accustomed to venting her rage in loud spectacles in nature. Her Father was pleased and Lucia could hear Her approval. She liked Lucia to explode: to remain pent up, repressed, and quiet not only kept the emotions in, it kept her power in.
Lucia wanted to wander the fields and find Father in the wilderness, but she was nervous to stray too far from the villa. On the edge of the woods, now darkening in dusk, Lucia could smell Bacchus out there; He was running toward her at full speed, like an animal galloping toward its prey. She could hear blood engorge His Penis, and the sound was a storm in her ears. If she stepped into His wilderness, He would fall upon her. Father would think the action, the willingness to enter the realm of another god, as disloyalty, a kind of cheating, and give Lucia up to His angry hunger.

Walking the opposite direction, Lucia started on the road back toward the city, to the necropolis she had visited during the night. The trip had been fruitless—the dead shrinking in terror from her like beaten dogs. She was used to fear, but nothing this intense or reckless. The dead were insulting in their terror, shrieking silent obscenities at her. Rather than taking it badly, and snuffing out what little power their trapped souls possessed, she walked away silently and curious.

Lucia returned to the entombed urns, and felt them quake from her approach. Normally, having received such hostility and unwillingness from the dead to be helpful, Lucia would respond with threats and violence. Perhaps seduction was more in order.

In the language of the dead, Lucia said, “Don’t be afraid. I need your help.”

In their language (with Latin accents from the freshly deceased, who still retained memories of Latin), they replied in an overlapping, echoing gaggle of sounds: “Keep away.”

“I only want to speak with one of you.”

“Away,” they whimpered dusty, silent heaves.

“One of you approached me. One of you has been haunting my dreams. One of you brought me back to Pompeii. I want to speak with her. If you help me find her so I can speak to her, I will do you no harm. I swear by my Father.” Lucia, of course, didn’t use the term Father to the dead—she used one of her goddess’s real name, the name in the language of the dead. It made the dead shake, the necropolis stones tremble. Her seriousness startled them; she was trapped by her oath, and they knew her Father would make her keep it.
They had no choice really but to answer her, for by refusing would bring her wrath down upon them. They echoed and reechoed, chanted one word which became for them a plead for peace: Ibis.

Repeating the name to herself, Lucia let Ibis bring her to her. There was a small entombment on the east side where the dead poor lodged. The tombs were less than tombs, less than places for remembering, inhabited by people who were hardly regarded in their lifetimes; but these were ghettos for ashes also thought too powerful to allow in the city, or cast aside in a rubbish heap. Dead beggars, madmen, slaves, whores, and gladiators there trembled at Lucia’s approach. Her voice thundered Ibis and the souls swept aside as if by a blast of wind, leaving Ibis alone to face her. Invisible, but a clear, solid form to Lucia herself, Ibis stood facing this woman she knew in life only as a legend.

Lucia glared through Ibis’s formlessness and forced the soul of the dead prostitute to assume a physical form. Only so Lucia would have something to look at and speak to. Even Lucia preferred to have a face when having a conversation: Lucia treasured the luxury of normalcy and insisted upon it whenever dealing with the dead—no matter what pain it caused. Ibis winced in the cramped confinement being in her former shape.

“Tell me what you want.”

Ibis’s mouth moved, and Lucia knew it would require a few moments for Ibis to accustom herself to her form again. She sighed impatiently: she had no patience for the dead, and their suffering, struggles, and pain angered and annoyed her. At first, speaking with the dead had been a horror. Repetition made it an annoyance, and sometimes Lucia wondered if her severe irritation was only self-protection.

Ibis was especially bothersome to Lucia. In form and in formlessness, Ibis was stained as murdered souls are.

“Help. Julius,” Ibis said with trembling lips. She spoke not normally, but in a shrieking rage. The stones quivered.

Lucia sighed. “Julius who?”

“The Aedile.”

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Tell. Him. Go. To. Rome.”

“I have no time to be running errands for you,” Lucia said.

“Please. Please.”

“I have been begged by more pathetic souls than you and if you annoy me more I will extinguish you.”

“Then why speak to me at all?” Ibis asked.

She advanced on Ibis but Ibis didn’t move. Lucia found herself staring closely into the pained face struggling to hold itself together. Lucia could see how Ibis’s pale cheeks swarmed in flesh colors like millions of bees. There was even a small buzz of energy. It was more disturbing that Ibis didn’t flinch. Lucia wasn’t accustomed to seeing the dead this close. Lucia arched her eyebrows. It was rare to find a dead soul with the ability to think quickly. “You brought me to Pompeii for a reason. I thought it was for something more important than carrying messages.”

“I didn’t bring you,” Ibis said. “You came on your own. You wanted to come home.”

Lucia opened her mouth to argue, but couldn’t find anything to say. She felt shame, as it was entirely possible it was true.

Ibis said, “Help Julius. Something horrible will happen to him.”
“I don’t care about the Aedile.”

“Something horrible. Something horrible.”

Lucia stepped back as Ibis began to cry. Ibis’s tears were bloody.

Normally, this would not be enough to move Lucia. She had heard more virulent entreaties and extinguished these souls who asked for less. But as Ibis cried—an unusual occurrence for a soul—the other dead echoed her “Something horrible”. Then it became a chant of “horrible horrible horrible”, not just in this necropolis, but all over Pompeii. As if all the dead were chanting to Lucia.

This had never happened before, and Lucia felt afraid.

bioLady Ristretto spent the beginning of her career writing under her real name and as a playwright. She has aIMG_3888 BA in English from UCLA and an MFA in playwriting from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her plays were produced in Illinois and Texas, and her most popular work, Wonderland in Alice: The Uncertainty Principle was produced in New York off off off Broadway.

Her first book, Dying in Pleasure, had been a full length play that was rejected as her thesis play: the professors on her committee felt it was too misogynistic and violent for undergraduates to stage. Always stubborn and obsessed, Lady Ristretto spent years rewriting the play into a novel and has recently published it as an ebook on Amazon and Nook. Lady has recently become obsessed with cricket and deeply wishes America would form a formidable team which is worthy to compete in the World Cup.

http://www.ladyristretto.com

https://twitter.com/LadyRistretto4u

https://www.pinterest.com/lristretto/

https://tablo.io/lady-ristretto

http://dommeladyristretto.tumblr.com/

http://selfpublishersshowcase.com/lady-ristretto/

https://www.goodreads.com/ladyristretto

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Deception by @asfenichel Blog Tour + #Giveaway

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DECEPTION_hi-res by Morgan Pielli jpegDeception

The Demon Hunters

Book 2

A.S. Fenichel

Genre: Historical PNR

Publisher: Kensington/Lyrical

Date of Publication: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 9781616505622

ASIN: B00ONTR7WS

Number of pages: 232

Word Count: 78,957

Cover Artist: Morgan Pielli

blurb

When Demons threaten Regency London, only a Lady can stop them.

Lillian Dellacourt is beautiful, refined and absolutely lethal. She’s also the most feared and merciless demon hunter in The Company. She’s come a long way from the penniless seamstress’s daughter sold to the highest bidder, and it wasn’t by trusting a man, let alone an exiled Marquis with more on his mind than slaying the hellspawn . . .

For Dorian Lambert, Marquis de Montalembert, being sent to keep track of Lillian is no mean task. He’s wanted the fiery vixen since he first heard of her five years ago. But wooing the lady while fighting the demon uprising is no easy feat, especially when the lady’s tongue is as sharp as the Japanese sai blades she favors for eviscerating the spawn of hell.

These two will have to learn to trust each other fast, because the demon master is back, and he’s planning to turn Edinburgh into a living hell…

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excerptChapter 1

Gripping the chair arms to keep herself seated, Lillian fought an urge to leave and never set foot inside Castle Brendaligh again.

It had been a demoralizing battle and they had lost, but they had lived. They had done all they could, but still the demon master had ascended into man’s world.

“You failed and we are all likely to die because of it. I hold every person at this table responsible for the state of England. You have ruined us.” Lord Clayton’s voice grated on Lillian’s nerves.

Accounts of the battle were clear. Nearly everyone in the room had risked their lives trying to disrupt the ascension, not to mention keep the earl’s daughter, Belinda, from becoming a demon sacrifice. Making such a show of ferocious reprimands insulted their brave and selfless efforts. If not for the fact that he was her best friend’s father, she might have indulged her desire to pull a sai blade from her boot and slice his throat.

As if Lord Clayton, the Earl of Shafton, needed to attract more attention, he waved his hands. “You had one mission, to keep the master from entering our world. All you had to do was kill one demon, but you failed. You should all be shot for treason. Treason!”

His bright red face gave her hope his heart might fail and save her the trouble of killing him.

Other hunters at the table murmured, but no one spoke out.

Everyone in this room is to blame. You had the perfect opportunity to end this mess. Now

the master is free of his realm and living in ours. It’s only a matter of time before he is strong enough to destroy everything we hold dear. When your families are killed mercilessly, will you sit here so unrepentant about failing in your duty?”

“Father, really.” Belinda Thurston rolled her eyes.

Lillian missed Reece’s steadying presence. Reece might have even been able to stop his lordship’s tirade with a few quick-witted remarks. Her partner had nearly died, and now lay upstairs recovering from demon poisoning.

“Don’t you roll your eyes at me, Belinda. You are equally to blame. You were with the master for days and made no attempt to destroy him.”

Gabriel, Belinda’s husband, bristled. It was of course a ridiculous statement. The Earl of Tullering was not used to public abuse of his family. “Just a minute, my lord. You are out of order. Belinda was in no position to defeat the demon master. The information she gathered will be very helpful in our eventual victory.”

Shafton pointed a fat finger. “I do not want to hear about information that will take years to decipher. You, Tullering, are by far the most culpable. You and that woman”—he pointed at Lillian—”made a conscious choice not to destroy the master.”

Lillian reached toward her boot and let the hard steel of her sai blade handle bring her comfort. One second and Shafton’s head could be rolling down the long table and land in Drake Cullum’s lap.

Besides Shafton, Drake and his assistant, Dorian Lambert, were the only ones present who had not been at the battle. Their leader, Drake, had attended to assign new orders to the hunters.

Shafton said, “You could have destroyed the beast as it rose and was weakened. I know you had the opportunity, but you chose to save yourself. It was selfish and stupid.”

Lillian could kill him and no one would be able to stop her. Of course, there were always consequences when dealing with men in power. She’d lose her home within The Company. Yet another arrogant earl would not take her from her rightful place. She was in control. It was nothing like her youth and the titled man who’d ruined her life.

Belinda said, “They saved my life, Father.”

“It was the wrong choice, Belinda. You might have cost us our one chance to stop this.” Shafton narrowed his eyes on Lillian.

Lillian said, “I can imagine your pleasure if we had allowed your only child to become the master’s sacrifice. Perhaps we should have stood by and watched until the master, with his full power rose, from the depths of hell and destroyed us all. As it is, Reece Foxjohn is still recovering from battle and the rest of us might have been sucked into the demon’s realm. But by all means, my lord, go on and tell us how you know we willfully failed on our mission. I do not recall your life being in danger that day at Fatum Manor. You were safely tucked away in your castle while the rest of us faced death or worse.”

“You are out of order, Dellacourt.” Shafton said her name as if it were a curse.

Lillian wasn’t sure when she had stood up, but clutching the leather wrapped steel, she rounded the table toward the earl. “If you have something you want to say about my abilities, my lord, I suggest you do so. I will be happy to display them for you, and we can evaluate them together.”

“Miss Dellacourt.” A warning came from the other end of the table.

“You were not there. You cannot know if we could have destroyed the master. As far as I’m concerned, we made the only choice possible under the circumstances. Maybe if your intelligence had supplied us with the location of the gateway before the master had grown so powerful, we might have been able to seal him in.”

“How dare you imply that I failed in some way? You who completely disregard orders at will.”

She had only ever hated one man the way she despised Shafton, and he too was an earl. At least that one was dead. Steeling her nerves, she slid the sai blade through the pocket cut in her skirt. “You speak of orders that were selfish and almost succeeded in getting your own family killed.”

“You have no right to question me or my motives.” To his credit, he faced her and stared her in the eye.

“I have every right when you point your fat finger at me.”

“Who do you think you are? I know where you come from Lillian Dellacourt. I know what you are.”

Drake Cullum pounded the table. “Shafton, that will do.” The demon hunters’ leader stood rigid, narrow-eyed. He was formidable when he was calm, but enraging him was never a good idea. He was furious now.

Had she gone too far? The idea she might have overstepped her bounds with Cullum was enough to make her relax the grip on her blade. Lillian turned and stormed from the dining room.

Shafton yelled something about not having dismissed her from the meeting.

Once in the hallway, she pulled her second blade and turned to go back in and finish what she’d started. It would be nothing to remove his pompous head from his shoulders.

Cullum stood in the doorway. He smiled at her and closed the door, baring her reentry.

Had she ever seen him smile before? No instance came to mind. She stomped toward the front entrance. She’d leave the damn castle, get her carriage, and ride like the devil back to London. Yet the one person in the world she could really talk to was a resident of Brendaligh. Holding her full skirts with both hands, she sprinted up the curved grand staircase.

bio

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in historical, paranormal, erotic and contemporary romance, A.S. is the author of The Demon Hunters series, the Psychic Mates series, and more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be brining you her brand of edgy romance for years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden. Her babies are both rescues and include a demanding dog and a temperamental cat both of which bring constant joy and laughter.

Web Site- http://asfenichel.net/

Blog – http://asfenichel.net/blog/

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5154640.A_S_Fenichel

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Love Letter Guest Post for Bound With Honor by @MeganMulry #Giveaway @Riptidebooks #erotic #historical

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Thanks so much for inviting me to All I Want and More! I love your idea of writing a love letter between the characters, and it seems like a natural choice to have the gothic writer, Selina Ashby (the heroine), write the letter. Personally, I write lots of letters, and I usually do a very scratchy rough draft with cross outs and additions, so I thought it would be fun to write this one in the same way (the cross-outs have strike-throughs and the additions are in italics). Likewise, very often I write lengthy letters…and never send them. Enjoy!

Wednesday.

Dear Archie,

It still feels strange to call you that. You have been Lord Camburton in my mind for so long. I’ve just come in returned from our walk stroll in Camburton P the park. I know you are only a short walk away, but I thought my thoughts seemed more suited to the written word than a letter than a conversation. For most of the summer, I’ve been preoccupied focused on the time I have left to spending time with my dear friend Beatriz. But as you know, she has left for the continent and I will be able to devote all of my attention to my writing for the next few months. Or at least, that’s what where I thought I would be devoting my attention to my attention would be devoted. As kismet [checks OED, first usage kismet 1849; cut] karma [checks OED, first usage karma 1827; cut; also too hippy-dippy] fate would have it, my thoughts are attention is now wholly taken up with…you. There. I’ve said it. My stomach flipped when I wrote the words and I stopped paused to watch the sun move through the late-summer trees out my window, to think how your profile looked when the same sun glinted off your proud stony face. But you are not stony, are you? You are warm and alive. Perhaps it is presumptuous of me to assume such intimate knowledge of your…stoniness. But there it is. When I look at you as I did this afternoon—as I have for many weeks past, I think—I see a man who craves something…friendship, perhaps? [checks OED for stoniness, first figurative usage “hardness, insensibility, unfeelingness” 1571; stet] I shan’t be coy and pretend I want only friendship. I suspect there will be a war between us, or within you, about whether coy would be preferable to my particular brand of honesty…dare I say brashness impetuosity? [checks OED, first usage brashness 1883 and usage American; cut. Impetuosity 1639; stet] Perhaps this is a love letter, or a thank-you note, or both. Thank you very kindly for the invitation to travel with you to London next week. I will try to behave myself in the carriage, but I have very little faith in my ability to do so. My palms are already tingling in anticipation. Very sincerely yours, Selina. *read, edited, read again, sighed over, then burnt in the grate and never sent*

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BoundWithHonor_600x900blurbLord Archibald Cambury, Marquess of Camburton, has never wanted for anything . . . except normalcy. Although he adores both of his loving mothers, and his vivacious twin sister with her two husbands, he wants a wife. One wife. Full stop. Is that so much to ask?
Miss Selina Ashby appears to be everything Archie has always wanted in a marchioness: demure, soft-spoken, and pretty, with a quick mind and delectable humor. Yes, she is a bit forward, but he chalks that up to youth. Yes, she has a very particular friend in Beatrix Farnsworth, but he chalks that up to loyalty. He is a lord; she is a lady; they are in love. And so they marry. That should be the end of it.
But when Archie discovers that his wife is as passionate with her particular friend Beatrix as he is with his particular friend Christopher, his world is shattered. He must decide if Selina’s love is big enough for both of them—and whether normalcy is truly more important than the love he feels for both the man and the woman who have become so dear to him.
bio
Megan Mulry writes sexy, stylish, romantic fiction. Her first book, A Royal Pain, was an NPR Best Book of 2012 and USA Today bestseller. Before discovering her passion for romance novels, she worked in magazine publishing and finance. After many years in New York, Boston, London, and Chicago, she now lives with her family in Florida.
Connect with Megan:
 
 
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Interview and #Giveaway: Sword of the Gladiatrix by @faithljustice @PridePromo #lesbianromance #historical

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BadgeblurbFrom the far edges of the Empire, two women come to battle on the hot sands of the arena in Nero’s Rome. They seek to replace lost friendship, love, and family in each other’s arms; but the Roman arena offers only two futures: the Gate of Life for the victors or the Gate of Death for the losers.

Release Date: May, 2015

Pages or Words: 260 pages, 75,000 words

Buy Links

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Interview

Hi. Welcome to All I Want and More. We’re glad to have you here.

Thanks. I’ve been poking around your blog and it looks like I’m in great company. My “to read” list just got a lot longer.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a history buff and science junkie. I can’t say which came first; it seems like my whole life I’ve been interested in both. Consequently I read a lot of history/historical fiction and science/science fiction. I guess I don’t like living in the present. My personal present is nice : married to a great guy, my college graduate daughter got a job—woohoo!—love my old Victorian house in Brooklyn, and have plenty of cats to keep me company while I write. But I can’t seem to keep my mind here—it wanders to far other worlds and other times. I became a writer to share those adventures with others.

In this book, who was your favorite character to write and why?

Oh, that’s a tough one! I had so much fun with all my characters, but when pushed, I’d say Afra, my Kushite huntress. Her voice rings in my head. Writing her wasn’t always easy because she comes from a different culture with different values. In many ways—physical, emotional, and spiritual—she’s just the opposite of me. So another fun thing was getting to “try on” a very different person’s life.

What 3 words would you use to describe your main characters?

Both Afra and Cinnia are fierce, vulnerable, and honest.

Can you tell us a little bit about this book? Maybe a little snippet?

It’s an action/adventure, lesbian romance set in the first century Roman Empire. Afra is a huntress and spy for the Queen of Kush (modern day Sudan) and Cinnia is a warrior bard serving the rebellious Queen Boudica of the Iceni (Britain). In the Prologue Afra sets up the book:

“Cinnia is goddess-given to me; from a land of mists and forests, so different from my country of desert and blistering sun. Without her, I would be dead. Without me, so would she. We have suffered, struggled, lived, and loved. Now we go out upon the sands of the great arena to die. One by her lover’s hands, the other by her own. It is not the life or death I chose for myself, but it is the one the gods gave me.”

The rest of the book tells how they wound up in such a perilous situation. Along the way there are battles with the Romans and several gladiator fights. For fun I’ve thrown in some quicksand, a pair of cheetah cubs, a nasty snake dancing bitch, a neurotic Emperor, a natural disaster , and a few sex scenes.

How do you go about picking character names? Do you have to get them just right and make sure they fit with the characters personality?

My earlier books were based on real historical characters, so I was stuck even if that meant having a dozen people whose names started with the same letter (often confusing for readers). Although there are a couple of historical characters in this one, most are fictional and I had tons of fun with the names. Afra was easy because it’s a Roman word for “woman of Africa”—she was actually named after a Kushite warrior queen who defeated the Romans a generation earlier, but the name was difficult for Romans (and readers) to pronounce. I fussed with Cinnia’s name through several drafts and finally settled on the Celtic word for “beauty,” but more for easy pronunciation than description. I had the most fun with minor characters using Roman names as descriptions or puns: Rufus (red) for a red bearded man, Celer (quick) for a lame slave, Bassa (plump) for a matron, etc.

We’re cover hussies..What was your first impression of this cover?

I love the cover, but we had a hard time getting there. I sent the designer several images of African women as inspiration. He chose a picture of a stunning woman—absolutely drop-dead gorgeous—and he kept trying to make her look fierce. Unfortunately, she looked gentle and wise. No helmet, sword, or blood spatter made her look like a gladiatrix. I finally said, “lose everything but the sword” and voila!

What does writing mean to you?

Writing is my job, but it’s also my escape. I love working with words and building stories. It took me a while to get here—I’ve been a lifeguard, paralegal, business executive, and academic. All but the lifeguard required me to write, but in very different ways. I still enjoy writing non-fiction almost as much as fiction.

What do you hope readers take away after reading one of your books?

A feeling of satisfaction; that they spent their time well and were entertained. If they also learn a little history or have an insight into a different culture, that’s gravy!

If you had a technology free day, what would you do?

I actually schedule those occasionally. My favorite technology free days involve gardening, reading, walking in the botanic garden or biking in the park, and dinner out with family and friends.

Quickie Time

Sexiest feature on a wo/man? Her legs. His ass.

What is on your night stand/dresser?

A book (surprise!): Otherwise Fables by Oscar Mandel. A marble lamp, Zenith CD player/clock/ radio (CD doesn’t work), the remote to the overhead fan, a Blistex Herbal lip balm, brown hair clips, and a cup coaster showing one of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries from the Musée National du Moyen Âge in Paris.

Tattoos or piercings? I let my pierced ears grow in when I had a small child and never redid them.

Secret talent? I’m an excellent seamstress—I hand tailored a winter coat when I went to college, but hung up my scissors after I made my wedding dress.

What’s your guilty pleasure? Really good dark chocolate—I keep a bar at my desk and eat it over the course of days.

Celebrity crush? Her: Carey Mulligan  Him: Patrick Stewart

Night owl or early bird? Definitely a night owl!

Twitter or Facebook? Have both, don’t like either, but use Facebook far more than Twitter.

Pinterest or Instagram? What are those? 😉

ebooks or paperbacks? Ebooks for travel/commute, paper for home.

Is there anything else you like to add?

Thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers!

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excerptA slave wraps my lower legs with felted wool and straps a gilded greave to my left shin, because I fight as myrmilla. He smells of sour sweat, as do I. I’ve already fought once today, tested fate, and won. The gold sand that Nero favors in the arena still crusts my hair and rasps the skin under my sweat-soaked breast band. I will go again before the ravenous crowds to satisfy their bloodlust. For what? An emperor’s whim? The crowd’s passing fancy? A sacrifice to their gods?

I swallow the bitter gall that surges into my mouth.

Across the room, another slave straps armor on Cinnia, my beloved. She looks at me with pride in her eyes and a brief smile on her lips. We said our goodbyes last night, clasped breast to breast, thigh to thigh, a stolen moment before being sent to our lonely cells. My heart beats an irregular rhythm.

My love. Light to my dark. Fire to my ice.

Cinnia is goddess-given to me; from a land of mists and forests, so different from my country of desert and blistering sun. Without her, I would be dead. Without me, so would she. We have suffered, struggled, lived, and loved. Now we go out upon the sands of the great arena to die. One by her lover’s hands, the other by her own.

It is not the life or death I chose for myself, but it is the one the gods gave me.

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bioFAITH L. JUSTICE writes award-winning novels, short stories, and articles in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, Writer’s Digest, The Copperfield Review, the Circles in the Hair anthology, and many more. She is a frequent contributor to Strange Horizons, Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine, and co-founded a writer’s workshop many more years ago than she likes to admit. For fun, she digs in the dirt—her garden and various archaeological sites.
Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://facebook.com/faith.justice.7
Twitter: https://twitter@faithljustice
Author website: https://www.faithljustice.com
LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/profile/view?id=64543293

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3268206.Faith_L_Justice
Publisher: Raggedy Moon Books
Cover Artist: Todd Engle

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Veronica (Fragrant Courtesans #1) by Siobhan Daiko @FCourtesans #historical #erotic #romance

Veronica - Copyblurb“So fragrant and delightful do I become, when I am in bed with someone who, I feel, adores and appreciates me, that the joy I bring exceeds all pleasure, so the ties of love, however close they seemed before, are knotted tighter still.”

Venice, Italy, 16th Century.

Trapped in unhappy marriage, Veronica uses her wits to escape and takes the only other option open to her. After learning the art of seduction, she becomes a courtesan and gives herself to many rather than being owned by one.

A talented poet and writer, she courts the cultural élite for fame and fortune.

But when disaster strikes and her life begins to unravel, will she finally give her heart to a man? And will she be strong enough to hold her own in a man’s world?

Advisory: Sensuously erotic, 18+

Universal buy link

http://viewbook.at/Veronica_FC1

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bioSiobhan Daiko is an author of romantic historical fiction and a new series of erotic novellas featuring famous courtesans – strong women who held their own in a man’s world. A lover of all things Italian, Siobhan lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband and two cats. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK she now spends her time, when she isn’t writing, enjoying the dolce vita near Venice.

Website

https://siobhandaiko.wordpress.com/

http://fragrantpublishing.com/

 

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter @FCourtesans

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Cinderella and the Ghost by Marina Myles (@marinaauthor) #Giveaway #historical #paranormal #romance

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Cinderella and the Ghost.ebookCinderella and the Ghost

The Cursed Princes

Book Four

Marina Myles

Release Date: February 17, 2015

Genre: Historical/paranormal romance

ISBN: 9781601832832

Publisher: Kensington

blurbA stroke of paint and a stroke of luck. Will they come together to create magic at the stroke of midnight?

When her demanding stepmother died, Ella Benoit knew just how far their fortunes had fallen, unlike her spoiled stepsisters. So she never expected the bequest from her late father. A chateau in France and the freedom to live her own life, all at once!

The chateau has seen better days, but Ella knows she can put the ruined house to rights. The life-size portrait of its first owner, Jean-Daniel Girard, seems to watch her work with approval, even pleasure. With bright blue eyes, strong features, and an athlete’s body, the viscount is a tempting sight even now, more than three hundred years after his tragic death. But the more she looks at the portrait, the more convinced Ella is that she’s met Jean-Daniel before. In another life, perhaps—or maybe, as the form who haunts the halls at night, invading Ella’s dreams…

Available at   Amazon    BN    iTunes    Kobo    BooksaMillion

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excerpt – CINDERELLA AND THE GHOST

As Ella passed the drawing room, she halted. Eerie goose bumps blanketed her arms. Drawn to the room, she felt as though she’d been in it before.

She crossed the threshold under a sudden trance. Icy stabs of déjà vu assaulted her because the ornate furnishings and draperies seemed extremely familiar. Perhaps, she considered, I’ve seen the room in one of Adelaide’s real estate or decorating magazines.

Taking a few steps forward, she noticed a huge blank spot on the east wall. The area’s wallpaper not only showed a variance in color, it outlined a missing, life-sized painting or tapestry.

How odd. Why had the art work been removed? Where was it now?

An unrelenting force summoned her closer to the blank spot. Her inquisitiveness grew. If the missing object was indeed a life-sized painting, it must have taken forever to complete. She wondered about its subject. A landscape? More likely, a portrait.

Prodded to start a hunt, she went through several rooms on Château de Maincy’s main level. She searched the front parlor, the back parlor, and the music room. Her favorite was the ballroom. As she entered, a spark met her toes. Wide-eyed, she noticed that rays of sunshine cast a sparkling aura over its faded parquet floor. A glittering chandelier hung in the center of the gold-toned room and anchored the enormous space.

When the chandelier caught a beam of sunlight, Ella received another spark. She put her hand to her warm cheeks. She could almost hear strains of a quadrille—and the drone of chatter as if she were at a party.

Not a party. She rephrased the thought. A ball.

Eyes blurred, she slipped into a deeper trance. Suddenly, she was wearing a stunning costume and was stepping into waltz with a debonair nobleman sporting a mask. The nobleman pulled her tightly against him. Other guests wearing masks looked on.

It was a masquerade ball! More scenes flashed before Ella. Warm wind gusted into the room and then—

Exiting the trance, she realized that the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Why in heaven had she experienced that?

Her father had written that Ella had been at the château before. Yet she had no conscious memory of the visit. Maybe, she thought as she rubbed her eyes, the atmosphere of this house is too seductive to resist.

Still reeling from the vision, her attention shifted to a long-case clock in the corner. Its shattered face was visible through a hinged glass panel that hung ajar. The top of the clock bore a large, vertical gash.

How odd.

Ella inched closer. The open door revealed that the time-piece had been frozen at twelve o’clock. She touched the immobile hands—and in the bright light of the room, she noticed that the clock’s maker had etched his name and creation date into a groove bordering the clock’s pendulum.

Montbleu ~ 1703.

All at once, Ella remembered standing in front of the long-case clock, precisely like this. But how could that be? She must have repressed memories from her visit here as a child. Yet, she couldn’t explain the vision of herself dancing with the handsome man.

Once she confirmed that a life-sized painting wasn’t hanging in the ballroom, she made her way up the grand staircase. Inexplicably, she felt drawn to where she was going. When she reached the second floor of the house, she studied a wall of faded frescoes depicting late seventeenth century life. When something told her to go on, she padded to the third floor landing.

A palpable hush filled the corridor ahead of her. Then a charged stream of energy rushed through the hall. Since all the curtains were drawn over the arched windows, the hallway sat in darkness and shadow. Ella should be doing so many things. Unpacking. Cleaning. Deciding which bedroom would be hers. But a sense of urgency prompted her feet to continue.

What will I find in this part of the house? Glimpses of the valiant but very dead Jean-Daniel Girard?

Gulping, she opened door after door and peeked in. She finally came to a storage space, with an additional staircase leading up to an attic. Creeping up those stairs, Ella surveyed the articles on the landing. Broken mirrors and articles of furniture draped in white sheets lay strewn about. Tangled strings of cobwebs swathed the wood paneling.

A glowing beam of sunlight angled into the room. Ella’s pulse sped. In the corner, she spotted an item covered with a black cloth. The object reclined against the far wall—and appeared to be larger than she was. Pushing the curtains open, she allowed more sunlight to bathe the space. Hands quivering, she moved back to the draped item and pulled away the black cloth.

The painting’s gilded frame was stunning. On it, Ella located a nameplate.

Jean-Daniel Girard—Viscount de Maincy

1677-1703

Slowly, as though her life was being altered with every centimeter, her stare ascended to the nobleman’s astonishing face. Instantly, the world fell into a compelling silence.

Jean-Daniel Girard was tall, muscular, and inarguably handsome. In fact, his good looks were so striking that Ella could barely breathe as she gazed upon them. More than that, she knew she’d seen his face somewhere before. While she racked her brain about where she’d seen it, her gaze roamed over Jean-Daniel’s sold body, penetrating aquamarine eyes, and angular features. He could be described as classically handsome. The epitome of male beauty, really. And thankfully, that classic quality helped him transcend the fanciful clothing and wig he wore.

Ella took a step in and studied him some more. True to subjects painted in that era, he wasn’t smiling. Rather, he seemed a pensive and a bit melancholy. However, she could tell from the laugh lines bracketing his generous mouth that he grinned often.

Incredibly lifelike, Jean-Daniel seemed capable of emerging from the painting right then and there. Ella’s skin tingled.

Her gaze drifted to the adorable dog sitting at the viscount’s feet. A splendid example of a hound, it possessed a gleaming brown-and-white coated, an open mouth, and a protruding tongue. Oddly, the dog seemed to be smiling.

“I can tell you loved your master,” she murmured.

Mesmerized by the man in the painting, Ella stared at his image for what felt like hours. The more she analyzed it, the more she noticed its “lost soul” quality. She crossed her arms. No, that wasn’t it. Instead, there seemed to be something underlying the viscount’s solemn face. As if he weren’t solemn at all. As if he possessed a sense of unfinished business.

To die so young…

She finally looked at the portrait’s backdrop. A vivid depiction of Château de Maincy surrounded Jean-Daniel. A cluster of servants was working in the fields adjacent to the splendid house. Wide-eyed bluebirds perched on the tree branches over his wigged head.

So that’s the way the estate looked in its heyday.

Stepping closer, she zeroed in on Jean-Daniel’s astounding eyes. They seemed to come alive—and for the briefest moment, he did as well. If only they were on a first-name basis! The thought exhilarated her.

While she and the figure locked stares, a new layer of goose bumps sprang up on Ella’s arms. She retreated. Despite the warmth of the room, a chill barraged her body.

“Jean-Daniel Girard is quite swoon-worthy, non?” whispered an unfamiliar voice.

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bioMarina Myles’s love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale. During her college daysPH0_5627-Edit in Dallas, she received degrees in English Literature and Communications—and enjoyed the unique experience of being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. Now that she lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she hasn’t left her glamorous life behind completely. After all, she gets to divide her time between her loving family, her loyal Maltese, and worlds filled with fiery—but not easily attained—love affairs.

Visit her at www.marinamyles.com

Represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency

www.facebook.com/marinamylesauthor

www.twitter.com/#!/marinaauthor

www.amazon.com/author/marinamyles

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Feature: Blood in the Water by @tamiveldura

BitW_coverTitle: Blood in the Water

Author: Tami Veldura

Wordcount: 27k words

ISBN: 9781941319086

Genre: Pirates, Historical, Age of Sail, Adventure

Content Warnings: Blood, Violence

blurbKyros Vindex, treasure-hunter, has a problem. He’s carrying a torch for a fellow pirate with the sexual awareness of a teaspoon. Rumors say the man has killed hundreds. He’s determined to knock some sense into the work-a-holic that captains the Midnight Sun, but damned if he knows how. Eric Deumont has more pressing concerns than the treasure-obsessed Kyros. There’s a creature inked into his chest that no witch in the seas will lay hands on for all the gold in the world. He knows it gives the Midnight Sun a cursed reputation and that doesn’t make living any easier. He has heard stories of spirits trapped for lifetimes inside spelled puzzle jars. Eric tracked down three of the pieces for such a jar with a lead number four. The fifth is still out there. Even then, the spirit of vengeance that lives in Eric’s skin has no intention of giving up such easy access to the mortal realm. It craves blood and the light of the moon allows it to wreak unchecked havoc. Cursed is an insult. This is madness.

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excerptThe captain, bound in bright British blue, muscled between his men. He tapped the flat edge of his sword against Eric’s cheek, a bloody stripe that made his chest tighten. “Deumont, I presume?”

“Who’s asking?” He put his hands down to his hips and fingered the edge of his shirt.
“No one you need to know.” The captain put his sword to the top of Eric’s chest, slicing the shirt.

“You don’t want to do that.”

“Poke a hole in you?”

“Your crew’s right. I’m cursed. The moon will bring it out.” He kicked his chin up to the light, and several men glanced up with him.

The Captain just smirked. “No such thing.” He yanked his sword down, cutting into the shirt and Eric both.Blood flowed down his chest, between his fingers where he held the skin closed. His shirt fell open down the center and hung off one shoulder. Moonlight illuminated him. It focused on his ink tattoo: not a man, not a beast, but something between. His nipple ring pierced through one eye.“See, gentlemen? Just a drawing―”The spirit exploded from Eric’s chest, tearing flesh and blood with it. Eyeless, it closed a wide palm over the Captain’s head and crushed his skull without effort.
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bioauthor photo 2013Tami Veldura is a writer, reader, lover and artist. She currently resides in San Marcos, CA. She writes science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and GLBTQ fiction.

Website: www.tamiveldura.com

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Twitter: @tamiveldura

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Email: tamiveldura@gmail.com

 

#Review: Lucien and Serenity (Sapphire Club #1) by @BritaAddams

lucienandserenity-200Fulfill your wicked fantasies at the Sapphire Club

Lucien and Serenity

Book One of the Sapphire Club series

Ten years after she abandoned her marriage, and in fear for her life, Serenity Damrill returns to London. Desperate to win her husband’s unwitting protection, Serenity submits to the unusual marriage her husband proposes.

No longer the man she married, Lucien has devoted years to the creation of the Sapphire Club, the premier sex club in London, where members realize their wildest dreams. When his frigid wife returns, he sees little reason to entertain a resumption of the marriage, unless she submits to the type of intimate relationship he’s come to crave.

When Serenity’s past comes to call, her deceit is revealed and the fragile peace between husband and wife hangs in the balance.

Ah, but at the Sapphire Club, rules don’t exist, and anything is possible…

reviewMs. Addams has always captured me with her writing style. She has the ability to pull you out of the every day you know exists and puts you directly in the setting of the characters that come from her great mind. I was glad these two characters found a way to persuade Ms. Addams to write their story.  Intriguing, enticing, alluring and simply captivating.

We first meet Serenity when she is all but twenty. She has smitten many men but they deem her skittish, so they leave her alone. She has never left the  comforts of her family home, so being sheltered would be a correct assumption. But you also have to know her “wonderful, peach” of a mother. You can really say that her mother scarred her with “the talk.” Serenity thinks horrible things of the act of consummating a marriage. I felt bad for her for the inadequate “teaching” she had in regards to life, love and relationship.

Lucien is a man cut from a different cloth. He shows that by taking care of his older brother’s mistress and the child the two of them created.  His older brother casted them both to the side as if they were nothing more than common trash. But Lucien cares for both of them. He provided her and her child with the means to which to live.  Then he meets Serenity and is completely smitten with her…

The beginning of the story was a bit rough for me because a lot of things are going on with Lucien and Serenity. We have Lucien and Serenity’s marriage, the death of his older brothers mistress and the ramifications of that death. We have a fragile bride who’s actually terrified of her bridegroom and the night to come. I won’t say any more about that because to understand the story as a whole, your have to read that.  And it all comes around in the end and ties into a nice little bow!

But with those words, I will tell you this story holds its own suspense and drama as much as it does some very hot, passionate love scenes.  The characters pour a lot of these out in this book and show you that they are not just one dimensional.  They will make you want to know more about them and the people they hold so close to them.

This is a very well written historical, steamy, passionate, raw emotionally story!

To learn more about Brita’s book visit her web site http://www.britaaddams.net/

Sleeping Beauty and the Demon by Marina Myles with #Giveaway @marinaauthor #bewitchingbooktours

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Image1Sleeping Beauty and the Demon

The Cursed Princes

Book 4

Marina Myles

Genre: Historical/paranormal romance

Publisher: eKensington

Date of Publication:  August 7, 2014

ISBN: 9781601832818

ASIN:B00IUPCLWW

Word Count: 75,000

blurbSleight Of Hand

Dragomir Starkov poses as an illusionist, a showman performing tricks, his Romanian accent and dark good looks all just a part of the drama. That’s how Rose Carlisle first sees him. She’s a respectable girl—she wouldn’t accept witchy birthday gifts from a demon.

But the hustle and bustle of 1912 New York City offers plenty of ways to slip around the strict old rules of propriety. A good thing, too, because once Rose meets Drago, she no longer cares about being respectable.

But the only illusion in Drago’s act is that his magic is smoke and mirrors. Every word of power he speaks is as real as Rose before him, in thrall to his lust and adoration. Drago knows about Rose’s curse, that she will die on her next birthday.

But the shadowy threat that stalks her hasn’t won her yet. If she can trust him, perhaps he can save her too…

Available at Amazon    BN    Kobo   iTunes  Google Play Books

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excerptCHAPTER ONE

New York City

1912

A torrential downpour bounced off the sloping roof of the Sunshine Theater. Inside the auditorium, an eager audience sat riveted by Dragomir Starkov’s onstage presence.

Dressed in black, he moved with confidence. With his hair slicked back from a widow’s peak and his eyes drawing the crowd into his mirage, he spoke in a heavy, Romanian accent. “Ladies and gentlemen, I will now attempt something few magicians dare. I will bring a creature back to life.”

Turning to the rear of the stage, he hid his hands from view. When he faced the audience again, he presented the body of what appeared to be a dead kitten. The small animal hung limply across his open palm. Murmuring a low chant, he waved it from one side of the stage to the other.  Then, with a flick of his white-gloved fingers, he urged the kitten back to life.

The small cat sat up erect and blinked in astonishment. As it let out a satisfied “meow,” it sprang to the floor.

The audience clapped wildly. In turn, Drago stepped forward. That’s when he spotted the woman he had willed to come to tonight’s show.

With an abundance of flaxen hair that swayed from a ponytail like wheat in a summer breeze, and a flawless complexion that glowed against the stage’s low-lying gaslights, the young woman’s beauty imprisoned Drago like a padlock. In the sparkle of her violet eyes he saw something amazing—a unique essence of goodness that compelled him as he often compelled

others.

She’s even more beautiful than she was in my vision.

The girl flashed him a smile—and when it illuminated his world of darkness like a bright spotlight, the need to protect and possess her rose within him. But it didn’t matter how he felt. He was here to banish a cruel curse cast upon her when she was a baby. And if he wanted to weave his unique spell around her, he needed to hypnotize her now.

A hush fell over the theater. Clasping his hands behind his back, Drago paced the stage like a caged animal. “For my next trick, I need a female volunteer from the audience.”

Numerous hands went up. He ignored them. Once he unlaced his dark cape, he threw it into the wings. “I need a very special participant for this mystifying trick.”

Pressing his forefinger to his temple, he pretended to use his powers of telepathy. Just then, the beautiful blond girl left her seat, accompanied by her dark-haired friend. They scurried to the theater’s center aisle, apparently adverse to the thought of being called on to volunteer.

“You there!” Drago thundered.

The duo froze in their tracks and wheeled around.

Pulling on her thick, blond ponytail, Rose—her name popped into Drago’s head suddenly—blushed.

“You, my dear.” He galloped halfway down the staircase at the side of the stage and extended his hand.

“Go on, Rose!” her friend encouraged. Drago was right about her name.

Rose smoothed her gingham dress. She joined him on the shadowed staircase, then took his hand. As Drago grasped it, an alarming chill raced up his spine. And when her pink lips spread into another shy smile, he found himself completely enchanted.

Leading her to center stage he said, “Please tell the audience your name, Miss.”

“It’s Rose Carlisle.”

“Have we ever met before, Rose?”

“No.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell the spectators how old you are.”

“I don’t know how you could guess that, but very well,” she replied in a sweet, clear voice.

He cleared his throat. “Today is your birthday, and you are twenty years old.” The number surfaced in his mind as surely as he knew his own birthday.

Rose’s jaw dropped open. She nodded vigorously. “How did you know?” Her friend, who had returned to her seat in the front row, mirrored her stunned expression.

Drago felt his affinity for the doe-eyed beauty grow. Yet he urged himself to be careful—and to make her feel as comfortable with him as possible.

“It doesn’t take a magician to see that you’ve attended this show without your parents’ permission,” he said. “Is that right, Miss Carlisle?”

The crowd chuckled lightly at the joke. Rose looked stunned. “I haven’t seen my parents since I was a baby. But my adoptive parents don’t know I’m here.”

“I see,” Drago remarked lightheartedly. But when he saw Rose clutching her hands together nervously, he sensed her pain ran deep.

“Have you ever been a magician’s assistant?”

“No,” Rose replied. “In fact, this is my first magic show.”

“We’ll have to make it one you’ll never forget.”

When he reached for her small, velvet hand, it trembled inside his at the suggestion.

“Promise me you won’t be anxious,” he said. “I would never allow harm to come to you.”

She slid a glance his way—and they locked eyes for what felt like an eternity.

“I’ll try not to be nervous,” she finally promised. “What do I have to do?”

“Absolutely nothing. Just close your lovely eyes and remain in one spot.”

Rose did as she was told. Drago took the opportunity to study her high cheekbones, dainty mouth, and hourglass figure. Though she was tall, her demeanor lent her a fragile air. She seemed to him a delicate, porcelain doll which could be broken easily if handled improperly.

Frowning, he tried to concentrate on performing his illusion. While Rose kept her eyes closed, he massaged the air in front of him with his fingertips. As he murmured something inaudible, he willed Rose’s feet to rise slowly off the ground.

It appeared as if someone was pulling her legs out from under her. Eventually, her torso, limbs, and head reached a plane parallel to the stage and she was levitating in space.

The crowd gasped as Drago reached for a large silver hoop. He proceeded to pass the circle back and forth over Rose’s stiff body. When he twisted and turned it in every direction, the audience gasped. The trick, which had been performed only one time before, proved it had the power to intrigue.

“Are you doing all right, Rose?” Drago asked in a gentle voice.

She nodded. Her ponytail swung toward the wooden floor.

“Excellent.” Drago passed the silver hoop to his brunette assistant, Katherine. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make. The second half of this trick is new even to me. However, it’s something I feel bold enough to try with Miss Carlisle’s help.”

Drago’s assistant cast him an angry look. He continued on anyway. “Katherine, would

you hand me that red silk drape?” he asked.

Clearly irritated, Katherine moved to the tiny prop table in the corner. Once she passed a large cloth to Drago, he unfolded it and draped it over the length of Rose’s levitating body.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said in a low tone. “Making a woman levitate in midair is one thing. But what if I made her …disappear?”

He whipped off the red drape and exposed nothing but air. Men in pinstriped suits leapt to their feet and women touched their hats in astonishment.

When the audience’s enthusiastic clapping subsided, Drago removed his gloves. “Now

I’ll make our lovely Rose reappear. Just… like… that.”

Snapping his fingers loudly, he moved to a cabinet in the middle of the stage. He opened the cabinet’s door with an exaggerated gesture and there stood a pale-faced Rose. Grinning, Drago took her hand and helped her out. Together they walked to the front of the stage and were greeted with thunderous applause.

As he took one step away from Rose, Drago bowed to her as well. Her cheeks regained their color—and she looked at him as if he were the most wonderful man in the world.

Although leaving her was the last thing he desired to do, he had no choice.  Drago came closer to her and pressed something into her hand. Then he mouthed the haunting words, “Wear this and come back to me.”

Rose’s hand closed around the item the handsome magician had placed in her palm. The curtain closed with a dramatic whoosh—and as she stumbled up the aisle, she unfurled her hand and stared at the object. It was a beautiful amulet that bore a silver chain and mysterious Egyptian engravings.

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bioMarina Myles’s love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale. During her college days, she received degrees Image2in English Literature and Communications—and enjoyed the unique experience of being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.

Now that she lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she hasn’t left her glamorous life behind completely. After all, she gets to divide her time between her loving family, her loyal Maltese, and worlds filled with fiery—but not easily attained—love affairs.

Visit her at www.marinamyles.com

www.facebook.com/marinamylesauthor

www.twitter.com/#!/marinaauthor

www.amazon.com/author/marinamyles

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