goo.gl/0y3dcw (Series link)
http://goo.gl/hclmQn (Braving the Darkness)
All have sacrificed, but one will sacrifice all…
Just when Olivia thought she’d finally have everything she always wanted, she was never closer to losing it all. Haden rocked Olivia’s foundation when he professed his love for her, and then turned himself in to the High Court. Although it was for the best, watching him walk out of her life was one of the hardest things she’d ever done.
Liam has always been the angel that holds her heart. But nothing will test the bonds of that love more than when a sick twist of fate brings all their lives crashing back together again.
Bitter enemies in love with the same woman, Liam and Haden must put their differences aside to battle an evil whose reach is far greater than either of them ever imagined. It will take all their strength to protect Olivia from an enemy that’s come to claim her and usher in a power-play to overthrow the High Court.
Love, sacrifice, and betrayal… It all comes to a heart-stopping conclusion in Braving the Darkness.
She’s captured the hearts of Heaven and Hell…
Betrayed by her true love, Olivia cannot let go of the angel her mind doesn’t remember, and her heart refuses to forget. In an attempt to reclaim her broken life, she is determined to unearth her past, but some secrets are better left buried.
To save her life, he sacrificed everything. Universal Law was broken when Liam violated Olivia’s free will. His guardianship has been revoked, and the pain of letting her go is nothing compared to the torture of enduring their shattered bond. He can no longer sense her, no longer feel her, and the enemy he risked it all to save her from, now has free reign to claim her for his own. To get her back, Liam must turn away from all he is, all he was, for the one thing he may have already lost forever—Olivia’s love.
Haden will stop at nothing to possess Immanuel’s Stone, and locked away in Olivia’s memories is the key he needs to find it. But in his quest for vengeance, he never expected to lose his heart to the enchanting green-eyed beauty. Forced to choose between love and revenge, Haden becomes captivated by a woman who will never be his…or will she?
Excerpt of Courting Darkness:
Guardian? Olivia’s pulse kicked in her throat, choking off her air in a startled gasp. At the last moment, she jerked her hand back before Tate could make contact. Oh shit, this guy was crazier than she was. Stumbling away from her “guardian,” her retreat was halted when she collided with the wall, smacking the back of her head.
Tate winced with a that-must-have-hurt grimace as the bang echoed throughout the elevator.
It did. A lot.
“Actually, I’m your new guardian.”
She reached up to rub away the sting, scowling at the stranger as if this was his fault. Two thoughts crossed Olivia’s mind. One, you’re about to become a skin suit. And two, play along with this nut job until the elevator stops, then run like hell.
Swallowing back the panic, she forced a negligent shrug. “New guardian, huh? What happened to my old one? He get fired or something?”
At her sarcastic bark of laughter, the stranger gave her a disapproving scowl and grumbled, “Something like that. And he’s not too happy about it, either.”
Could this elevator go any slower? Looking at the very large, very attractive man, no one in their right mind would ever suspect he was bat-shit crazy. Perhaps that was how he lured unsuspecting women into his web of death—right before he Ted Bundyed them.
Humoring the guy and yes, stalling while this elevator took the painfully slow journey from the sixth floor to the lobby, she asked, “So, what did he do to uhh… get fired?”
“The fact that you don’t know is precisely the reason.”
The elevator suddenly came to a jarring halt between floors, pitching Olivia forward. Her hands shot out, bracing for a fall, palms planting solidly against his chest. The rich scent of muted spices enveloped her, reminding Olivia of…nothing. Dammit, another black hole.
Trying to play it cool, she hastened an apology and quickly retreated to her respective corner of the elevator. Pinching the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger, she closed her eyes and drew a deep breath that failed to calm her jangled nerves. “I’m trying to follow you here, I really am. But I don’t see what my having amnesia has to do with you or my so-called ‘guardian.’”
“You don’t have amnesia.”
A cynical bark of unladylike laughter tore from her throat. “Well, that’s good to know. But I’ve got about twenty-thousand dollars worth of medical bills that beg to differ with your diagnosis, Dr. Tate.”
She reached over and slammed her palm against the “emergency” button on the control panel, sending a shrill alarm up the elevator shaft.
Tate scowled, making no attempt to disguise his irritation as he reached in front of her and very pointedly hit the button again. The sharp ringing abruptly ceased. “Look, Olivia, your free will has been violated, and it’s imperative that I speak with you about this. I— Why are you looking at me like that?” he snapped impatiently.
“Because I never told you my name. How do you know me?”
“I already told you. I’m your guardian. I assure you, I have no intention of harming you, Olivia.”
“Guardian of what?” she challenged. “Because you certainly don’t look like an angel to me.” Just how naive did this guy think she was? What kind of a creep would hang out at a psychiatrist’s office and prey on emotionally damaged women? Did this guy really have nothing better to do with his time?
He exhaled an exasperated breath, muttering something about stubborn women and never wanting this job in the first place. When he looked back at her, he seemed to have rallied a measure of patience. “Exactly what is it we’re supposed to look like, Olivia?”
Well, for starters, how about not huge, hot, and terrifying?
“Am I to have a halo over my head, wear a white flowing dress, and sprinkle fairy dust about wherever I go?”
The sudden arch of his dark brow suggested he was poking fun at her. She was having none of it. “Well, that would help,” she quipped back with equal snark to his sarcasm.
“Sorry… I’m not that kind of an angel.”
An angel! Seriously…? He wasn’t even denying it!
Suddenly, as if a light clicked on, it all made sense to her. This guy must be one of Dr. Shriner’s patients. He had to have been in the office and overheard the secretary calling her name—that’s how he knew her. Oh shit…then this guy really was crazy, which was a hell of a lot more terrifying than hypothetical nuts.
Her hands swung up to back him off. “Look, Tate, maybe you don’t mean to scare me, but you are. Honestly, you’re really freaking me out right now. If you truly believe that you’re my guardian angel, then you need some serious help. Perhaps you should talk to Dr. Shriner about this God complex you seem to have. I’m sure she can help you, but please, leave me alone.”
At her request, the elevator jerked and continued its descent. His furrowed brows were a combination of frustrated and pissed off, and neither look said “hey, you can trust me not to kill you.”
As the elevator chimed, announcing they’d reached the lobby, Olivia made a final attempt to diffuse the situation. “I thank you for your concern, but I don’t want a guardian and I don’t need a guardian.” As the metal prison doors slowly slid open, she bolted for the exit, slipping out sideways before they could even open all the way.
“You’re wrong, Olivia. You need me,” Tate called after her. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”
At this taunting reply, she glanced over her shoulder, making sure he wasn’t following her. With each hurried step, her sandals clapped briskly against the gray tile floor. When the elevator doors slid closed, she caught a glimpse of Tate dragging his hand through his hair, growling what she could only imagine was a very unangel-like curse.
Olivia exhaled a sigh of relief to be away from the nut job and hastened her steps. The moment she was safely locked inside her car, she’d call up to Dr. Shriner’s office and report this Tate, whatever his last name was. Someone definitely needed to adjust that guy’s meds.
Rushing out the glass doors, her poorly anchored sandals slapped against the marble steps with rapid-fire clap, clap, clap. She was nearly to the sidewalk, her black Camaro in sight, when the stranger suddenly materialized out of thin air.
Olivia let out a startled yelp. Headed right for him, she put on the brakes, but the laws of physics were not in her favor. Momentum pitched her forward, her foot slipping off the step and hitting the one below. White-hot pain exploded in her ankle as it rolled beneath her. Her knee buckled under the duress and she reached for the iron railing, trying to catch herself before face-planting into the now scowling man.
He looked as if he wanted to come to her aid, but wisely stayed back. “Are you all right?” he asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
She wasn’t buyin’ it. He was probably worried she’d scuff her knees and damage his skin suit.
“Are you all right, dear?” an elderly woman asked, hobbling over to her. The well-meaning geriatric looked like she needed more help than Olivia did, but she was limited on her choice of saviors, so granny was gonna have to do.
“No. I’m not all right,” Olivia replied, unable to keep the panic from edging into her voice. Lifting an accusing finger, she directed it at the stranger and accused, “This man is harassing me.”
Following the direction of Olivia’s outstretched arm, the old woman’s cataract-grayed eyes squinted to the bottom of the marble steps. After a moment of hard looking, she readjusted her glasses and gave it another try. “Dear, there’s no one there.”
“Oh Lord, I really am crazy,” she murmured.
Grandma laid a sympathetic hand on Olivia’s arm and gave it a patronizing pat.
“You’re not crazy,” the figment of her imagination piped in.
“Let me get someone to help you,” sweet granny offered. “Here, take my cane and sit on the bench.” She gestured to the vacant wrought iron bench on the sidewalk, precisely four feet from Olivia’s very large, very muscular illusion.
“She can’t see me,” he explained, taking a step up the marble stairs. “Let me help you, Olivia.”
The familiarity in the way he used her name added insult to injury. Ignoring his offer, she tested the strength of her ankle. When it refused to hold her weight, she begrudgingly accepted the old woman’s cane. “Thank you. I just need to sit for a minute. I’m sure my ankle will be all right.”
“I’ll get you some help.”
Before Olivia could protest, the Good Samaritan hobbled away, leaning heavily on the railing as she snail-paced it up the stairs.
“Are you always this stubborn?” her illusion asked, folding his arms across his wide chest. He followed a few steps behind as she gimped to the bench. On the plus side, if she was going to start imagining guys, at least she made them hot.
“Ignoring me won’t make me any less real,” he persisted.
Then Plan A was a bust, because that was exactly what she’d intended to do. “Will it make you go away?” she snapped.
“No. Not until I tell you what I came here to say.”
Somehow, Olivia wasn’t so sure that even then, he would leave her alone. But the way she saw it, she had two things going for her. One, if Tate was a figment of her imagination, then at least he couldn’t kill her. Two, if by some unexplainable phenomena he really did exist, then it was doubtful he’d whack her right here in public. So either way, it was unlikely death was imminent. Besides, Grandma was going for help, albeit not as quickly as Olivia would have liked, but help was on its way.
“All right then, talk,” she snapped impatiently, looking down at her watch. Shit…she was going to be late. “Tell me whatever it is you have to say and then go.”
He stood before her, dark brows scrunching in displeasure. Clearly, he didn’t appreciate her candidness—or perhaps being told what to do. This guy looked like he was more used to giving orders than taking them. She had to admit, for a figment of her imagination, his commanding presence felt pretty damn intimidating.
He watched her a moment in contemplative silence. Then, as if deciding on something, knelt on the sidewalk before her. “Let me see your ankle.”
She didn’t miss the note of impatience in his voice. Before she could refuse, he reached out and gently but firmly grasped her foot, slipping off her sandal.
His touch sent a jolt of awareness flooding her veins. “You are real,” she gasped, unable to deny the power coursing through his hands and seeping into her ankle. Liquid heat spread up her leg as the throbbing pain steadily diminished. “Why can I see you but that woman couldn’t?”
Tate stopped the assessment of her injury and glanced up at her with a dark violet gaze that made her heart ache with unexplainable loss. She didn’t like the way he made her feel. The emotions he stirred to life were painful and confusing. As a surge of overwhelming grief knifed into her heart, she suddenly found herself fighting back the urge to start sobbing.
“That old woman couldn’t see me because I wasn’t in corporeal form. You can see me because you have the gift of Sight, Olivia. Your eyesight can transcend dimensions, which means you possess the ability to see angels and demons. I can block your sight, demons cannot, which is why you’re in danger. You are a threat to the Dark Court because you can expose them. They want you dead. My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. Your job is to let me do my job, and so far you haven’t been cooperating very well.”
He focused his attention back on her ankle, and Olivia winced when his fingers found a particularly tender spot. His grimace looked genuinely remorseful. Maybe, just maybe, he was telling her the truth. And if he was…God help her.
“Back in the elevator, you said you were my new guardian. What happened to my old one and why can’t I remember him? What was his name?”
Seeming overly focused on his task, he looked reluctant to answer, his dark brows furrowing in contemplation. “Look, Olivia, I’m not even supposed to be here, and I’m sure as hell not supposed to be telling you this. But the way I see it, you haven’t given me any other choice. Your life is at stake—”
“Tell me his name,” she pressed, believing Tate more and more with each passing second. Something told her he spoke the truth. The comforting heat infusing her ankle warred with the dread churning in her gut. Could it be possible that this…angel held the answers she’d spent the last eight weeks seeing a shrink to get? After two months of therapy, she wasn’t any closer to the truth now than before. “Tate…”
He gave a pensive sigh and met her stare. “His name is Liam.”
Her heart hammered against her chest at hearing the same name her mother had spoken the night she’d picked Olivia up from that hospital in Duluth. She hadn’t uttered it since, and wouldn’t talk of it now, even when Olivia had pressed her for answers. Her mother claimed she didn’t know anything. The only thing she could tell her was that Liam was an “old boyfriend” from several years ago. Minutes before she was to walk down the aisle and marry Mitch, he’d snuck into the church and abducted her. Kim didn’t know anything beyond that, other than there had been an accident. She’d been in a coma for days before Liam had called her mother and father to come and get her. By the time Olivia had awoken, he was gone, and so was her memory.
“There were rumors…that he loved you. That he…” Tate cleared his throat, seeming uncomfortable to continue. Casting his gaze to the ground he murmured, “That he…crossed boundaries of an intimate nature with you.”
Oh Lord…had he? Did they? She couldn’t remember.
“I should say, in his defense, that these allegations were never proven in court. But ultimately, he lost his guardianship of you because he violated Universal Law. Even though his bond to you has been severed, and he can no longer feel your emotions, I believe your connection to him remains. Although you can no longer remember him, I think you’re still in love with him, Olivia. And as long as you are, I cannot bond to you. Without that bond, I can’t sense you. I cannot tell when you’re in danger so I can’t keep you safe.”
Tate’s hands left her ankle to grasp one of hers—pleadingly. Were someone to see them across the street, one might think he was proposing to her. His grip was strong, surprisingly gentle. It seemed crazy, but she’d swear she felt his energy coursing through her veins as he looked up at her, imploring, “Olivia, you have to let him go. If you don’t, I can’t protect you and you will surely die.”
“This is crazy. How can you expect me to stop loving someone I can’t even remember? And what exactly does that mean? Violating Universal Law?” Her mind was reeling, trying to absorb the information he’d just dumped on her. She was still stuck back in the conversation where her guardian was in love with her. And she loved him, too? Really? Was that why her heart ached so? Why she felt like a part of her was missing?
“Universal Law demands that at all costs, a human’s free will must be honored—even unto death. You don’t have amnesia, Olivia. Liam stole your memory—”
“There you are, dear,” an aged voice called from the stairs.
She swung her head to look over her shoulder. A security officer was escorting the hobbling old woman toward Olivia. The warm hands that held hers disappeared, and when she glanced back, Tate was gone.
“Writing the Redemption Series has been a fantastic adventure, culminating a world of mystery, suspense, love and deception. Have you ever wondered what it might be like to see beyond our dimension? Step into Olivia Norton’s world, where nothing is quite as it seems, and evil lurks where she least expects it.”
Public contact information
January 16, 2014
Available from 5 Prince Publishing
Christine makes her home in Manitoba, Canada on a sprawling 15 acre ranch withher sons, husband, and many animals.
A single day shattered her life and set in motion, events that would change the Sullivan family for generations.
Marnie Joe Sullivan had the perfect life as the daughter of a wealthy Virginia businessman, but perfection wouldn’t last. As the War Between the States ends, she is struggling to keep her family together. After a botched robbery, fleeing rebels leave her mother dead and Marnie at the mercy of a killer. The year is 1867 and Virginia is still home to Confederate conspirators and a killer that must be stopped. Loyalty and love run deep in the Sullivan family and Marnie is no exception. As the eldest Sullivan, she feels obligated to rescue her father from the hangman’s noose. But a jailbreak at midnight lands her in the arms of Marshal Mason Kane.
Death is never fair. Mason Kane is proof of that. The horror of war and the death of his brother made him a drunk. Consumed by guilt and grief, he finds himself occupying Richmond saloons and starting fights. But a forgotten promise to his brother forces him to put down the bottle and accept a friend’s plea for help. Mason has no idea that the scrawny, mud covered boy he just hit is Sullivan’s daughter and he has no idea just how tempting she is until he tries to mend her wounds. Bound by honor and promise, Mason sets out to find a killer. What he finds is the outlaw Marnie Sullivan. A woman he can’t live without and secrets that lie in the way.
About Wilhelmina Stolen:
Wilhelmina Stolen is the pseudonym for romance writer, Shannon Hayes. Shannon is a native of Kentucky and makes her home in small southern town close to the Tennessee line. During her adolescence, her mother’s free spirited nature became restless causing the family to embark on a slew of adventurous moves across the country. The moves provoked a hunger for adventure and romance and introduced her to a wonderful world of history and beauty.
As with most writers, her stories began at an early age with long sessions of seclusion and secrecy. While her classmates and friends were outside playing, Shannon was locked away in her room hammering out ideas on an old 1940’s Royal typewriter.
After finding Mr. Right, Shannon found herself wanting the comfort and security of the small Kentucky town she longed to escape as a child. Fortune smiled upon her and she became the family historian; gathering pictures, wills, marriage certificates and everything else that somehow managed to fall into her lap. Stories flooded her mind and writing quickly became an obsession that turned into the Way of Hearts Saga. The saga spans six generations and three families.
Shannon holds an Associates in Applied Science in Technology, a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and Management as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership. Visit her author page at www.wilhelminastolen.com to learn more about the saga.
Public contact information:
Excerpt of Sullivan’s Way:
February 2, 1868
Sullivan Settlement, Virginia
Them Damned Confederates
Marnie Joe Sullivan, a well-bred woman of Virginian wealth, sat at the head of her father’s table. Despite her cool exterior, she felt civility’s firm grip slip and a white-hot anger coil its way up her spine. The beast threatened to burst forth in a rage of unladylike vulgarities of which the gentlemen across from her would undoubtedly recoil and offer a hideous clicking sound of disapproval from their forked tongues! No, that wouldn’t do.
“Damn it Marnie! You can’t go!” The abrasive voice manifested itself from the older man sitting across from her. He heaved one foot upward and slammed it against the smooth cherry floor of the great room. The dull clap of the heavy boot vibrated against the stone walls of the Sullivan house, “We have to wait for Lucas. He’ll be back anytime now.” The stub from his missing first finger wiggled uncontrollably as he ran his gnarled fingers over his thinning, silver hair, creating a wild mess. The missing digit was Ike Ritchie’s trophy for his victorious fight in the Battle of Buena Vista in ’47, “Your Pa was crazy for going to Silver Creek!”
With an unwavering face of authority, Marnie lifted her chin and leveled her gaze. A delicate blush of pink rushed over both cheeks, “My Pa is not crazy! He’s grieving.” Her small fingers anxiously examined the delicate embroidery of her handkerchief as her eyes burned into Ike with disapproval. The midnight black of her silk dress couldn’t quench the green fire that raged in her eyes. Since her mother’s death, Marnie had adorned black in every sense of the word, her soul, her spirit, and her will were all shaded black by that day, but not today. Today was a day of action!
An indignant “humph” escaped the edge of her full lips. As if being prompted by the sound, a petite black woman stepped from the hall and stood with folded hands as they waited for their guests to arrive, her slate stare burning relentlessly into Marnie. Yes, yes, I know, Tillie! Ladies always remain calm! As leaders from the settlement below entered the room one by one, Marnie took a deep breath that generated a small look of understanding and approval from the housekeeper.
Marnie’s skin itched and burned from the laces of her corset, causing her to shift in her seat. Thanks to Tillie’s diligent efforts, she was presentable. It infuriated Marnie to know that over half the morning had been devoted to tying, lacing and buttoning her unmentionables just so she might look presentable to the men in front of her. In the time it had taken Tillie to carefully style her unruly blonde hair into the neatly formed chignon, she could have been half-way to Silver Creek. This is ridiculous! I don’t need their help! Will Roark, Louis Porter, and Charlie Wilcox, represented only a handful of families that homesteaded on her father’s land. The men had taken council at this house since Marnie had donned pigtails and played with dolls. They weren’t use to answering to anyone but her father, “Thank you all for coming on such short notice.”
Will looked confused, “Marnie, I don’t know what we could possibly do to help your Pa.”
Ike eased forward and rested his elbows on the table, “Marnie thought you gentlemen might accompany us into Silver Creek.”
Charlie frowned, “Why would we do that?”
“To help me break Papa from jail.” Marnie said hopefully.
Her statement provoked a laugh from Louis, “You want us to help you stage a jailbreak?” He glanced at the other men, “Is she serious?”
“I don’t find anything funny about it. It is possible.” Their snide smiles added to her frustration, “If we go in after dark, there’ll be only one or two guards.”
“That’s insane!” Louis interjected.
“No, it’s not!” With her fists clinched tightly at her side, she demanded an answer, “How can you sit there and do nothing to save him?” Their silence infuriated her. They weren’t taking her father’s capture seriously. “Papa’s been rotting in that jail for three days and God only knows how long Lucas will be gone!” It had been two days since her adopted brother, Lucas, set out for Richmond to find her Uncle, and Marnie’s confidence in the law and Maxwell Richardson was diminishing, “I haven’t seen my Uncle Max in years. How can we be sure he’ll even help Papa?”
“Maxwell won’t think twice about it.” With a dismissive hand, Ike waved her fears aside, “Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if old Maxwell dynamited the jail himself to free your Pa!”
It was because of her father’s selfish act that she sat like a plucked turkey, stitched and tied for the presentation at hand. Her father, Daniel Sullivan never left anything to coincidence. Why had he allowed himself to get caught by the law in Silver Creek? Haven’t I dealt with enough tragedy? Less than a year ago her mother lay lifeless on the floor as Marnie and her sister were ripped from their home and taken for ransom.
Tight lips controlled Marnie’s words. She lifted her chin and fought to steady her breathing. Back straight, shoulders square, you’re a Sullivan, baby girl! Her father’s voice echoed in her mind and unconsciously her posture straightened. Defiance rushed through her as the authority in her eyes demanded attention from each man.
“We can’t wait! Are you going to help me or not?” Marnie gave the table a single strike with her fist, “Someone answer me! My father gave you a roof over your head, and never asked for anything in return. Without his help, none of you would have anything. If Talon Dougal hangs Papa, nothing will prevent him from taking the mountain and everything around it!”
Louis adjusted his collar, “Marnie, we’re all concerned about your father, but he knew not to go. He was safe here. He knew if he went to town he would risk getting caught.”
“We could protect him here, but not in Silver Creek. Hell! We could be hanged right along with him!” Will shouted and Charlie nodded.
Ike agreed, “They’re right, Marnie.”
Twenty-five years ago, through dense forests and jagged rocks, her father carved out a life for not only his family, but for the families in the valley below. Now when he needed them, they cowered in fear like children, “So it will be the same as before? He needed you last year and you didn’t lift a hand to help him. You all wanted to run and hide.” She tapped the table with a finger, discarding the truth for her cause. The people around her father’s table were loyal, but fear made her desperate.
“Now wait just a damn minute little girl!” Her accusations brought Ike up out of his seat. In his younger day, he’d been a boxer, broad in the shoulder and narrow at the hip. Legend of the “Fists of Fury” spread through Texas like wildfire. Even now, his withered frame towered above Marnie. When his expression changed, she braced herself, “You seem to forget I was riding right alongside your Pa when them damned Confederates took you girls, and I helped him bury your Ma!” He shifted his weight from one leg to the other in agitation, “So don’t you go lecturing me about helping spring your Pa from jail!”
The outburst sent a silence over the men. Ike shook his head, “I’m sorry Marnie. I know you miss your ma, but−” Marnie watched him rub his furrowed face and produce a tender smile, “you girls, feel like you was my own and I don’t want to see ya get hurt.” He placed a hand on her shoulder, “We’ll wait for Lucas.” he instructed softly.
Marnie’s head shook feverishly, “We can’t wait. They could hang him at any time. Lucas might persuade the Governor to intervene in the charges against Papa, but Talon is a coward. He won’t wait for a judge or jury.” Marnie forced a wave of moving tears as she let out an, “Oh!” and pushed the handkerchief against her nose. She sniffed and dropped her head. Papa’s running out of time!
Ike eased down in a chair beside her, “Look Marnie, we can’t just go into the jail and ask for the key. He’s a wanted criminal, they’ll be guarding him close.”
“I won’t be moved by tears young lady.” Will interrupted Ike’s careful words, “I’d give my life for Daniel, but our actions have to be thought through. We wait.”
The firmness of Will’s words stilled her tears. I knew it! They’re not going to help me. Marnie refused to lose the fight. She calmed herself and raised her head, “I’m sorry, you’re right.” Her head nodded slightly in agreement and then bent forward with humility, “I know without your loyalty Papa would have been caught a long time ago, and Callie and I would probably be dead.” When she met Ike’s concerned face, the storm in her green eyes cleared, and a crafty smile eased its way onto her pouty lips, “Forgive me.” Her voice was soft, “I’m just scared. I had to try.”
Ike cocked one bushy eyebrow upward and sighed, “Well girl, Lucas will be back from Richmond tomorrow.”
A half an hour later Marnie walked the last remaining man to the door. Ike shifted awkwardly and moved towards her. When the others had gone, he called Marnie by her childhood name, “Joe, in nineteen years I ain’t never seen you give into a fight. I saw them green eyes clear, and that means one thing. You’re up to something!”
Happy release day, Carmen! 🙂
Split Decisions: Sometimes you want something so badly you are willing to abandon everything you’ve ever known—including yourself.
Eighteen years ago, Jaynee Monroe married the man of her dreams, became the mother of four, and fulfilled her career goals. About to turn forty, she senses something is missing from her idyllic life. While Googling her name in an attempt to find herself, she unearths something so impossible, she contemplates her own sanity. Seeking answers, she embarks on a journey to discover the truth, only to end up abducted by a deranged stranger who insists on calling her Caycee.
Caycee took the road less traveled. Rejecting a marriage proposal from the only decent man she ever knew, she ventures to California to become famous. Eighteen years later, success has left her alone and miserable. Attempting to locate her lost love on Facebook, she discovers his infatuation with her. Not only does his presumed-dead wife have Caycee’s uncommon middle name, it appears he has photo-shopped her face over hers.
Never could Caycee and Jaynee have imagined decisions they made years earlier would threaten not only their lives but also their loved ones. Caycee must now reunite with the southern gent she dismissed eighteen years ago and convince him to accompany her to New York to locate his wife, the most important person in both their lives.
Excerpt of Split Decisions:
Jaynee awoke with a start, salty tears streaming down her cheeks, burning her already chapped lips. She attempted to swallow, but didn’t have enough saliva to moisten her mouth. It’d just been a nightmare. The nightmare she used to have nightly after her father committed suicide. Though, she hadn’t had it in years. Not since Jordan had taken her away from her previous life, providing a stable home, love, and strong arms to shield her from the demons that haunted her.
Unfortunately, Jordan wasn’t here, and her surroundings were all too real. Pinpricks of sunlight streaked through the corners of the shaded windows, illuminating the dust motes dancing in the air.
The room was still dark in most spots, but she could almost make out her surroundings. It looked like a cabin of some sort. The walls were a dingy off-white or possibly just stained from years of exposure, but the ceiling and trim were dark wood along with the slatted floors. A musty scent permeated the area, irritating her sinuses, but she couldn’t even scratch her nose.
Cuffs still secured her to the four bedposts. What kind of sicko would do such a thing? Her arms and legs ached from the position they’d been in all night, and she had to go to the bathroom something awful.
When she opened her mouth to speak, nothing but a croak escaped, leaving a trail of lava in her parched throat. “Hel-lo?” Though her voice had cracked, she attempted to sound friendly. Screaming or sobbing wouldn’t do any good. Not that she had the strength or vocal cords anyway.
She wasn’t in the city; only the country would be as dark as it’d been last night when her assailant brought her here. Even if she screamed her head off, no one would hear. “Please,” she tried again. “I really have to use the bathroom.”
The door opened finally, the hinges protesting in a lengthy screech, begging for oil. Her captor entered the room still wearing a black ski mask, gloved, and the same dark jeans and thick overcoat he’d had on the previous evening. He wasn’t too tall or heavy. If given the chance, she could probably take him. Jordan had taught her a few things. But as long as he had the gun trained on her, she’d have to be submissive.
His gauntleted hand unlocked just one of her wrists. Then placing the key in her hand, he stepped back. Obviously she was to unlock her other restraints. She didn’t waste any time. She unlatched her left hand, then both of her ankles. After rubbing them to increase circulation, she jumped out of the bed on the opposite side of her detainer. He motioned with the gun that she should move to the door on the far side of the room. She did as instructed, opening the door to a small bathroom with just a sink and toilet. No window. She quickly relieved herself. It felt incredible; she’d actually been in pain.
When finished, she opened the medicine cabinet and cubbyhole under the sink, finding nothing usable as a weapon. Both rooms were completely barren, stripped of everything. The abduction had not been a coincidence, but premeditated.
About Carmen DeSousa:
A romantic-suspense writer, Carmen DeSousa’s books overflow with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a great story be without a tragic event setting the stage? Her sensual and gripping mysteries have earned bestseller status on three continents because of her ability to make readers love, laugh, cry, gasp, and hope.
All of Carmen’s novels are standalones; however, she does link each of her stories with a little surprise. If you read out of order, you’ll never notice. But if you read in order, it’s fun.
Find her novels in print and eBook formats at your favorite retailer.
She Belongs to Me – December 2011
Land of the Noonday Sun – May 2012
Entangled Dreams – September 2012
When Noonday Ends – December 2012
Split Decisions – June 2013
How to reach Carmen:
Happy release day, Lisa. Bridge Over the Atlantic is a contemporary romance about true love and accepting who you are. Join me for a fabulous author interview and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Lisa’s debut novel, Bridge Over the Atlantic!
Bridge Over the Atlantic
Mallory Westerman is a full-figured, successful, young business woman living in Yorkshire, England. Though very career minded, she is extremely self-conscious about her ample curves and so her love life tends to pay the price. Concentrating solely on her business, she has almost given up on finding someone to love. That is until she literally trips into the arms of a stranger who becomes her Knight in shining armour.
The immediate sexual and romantic spark that blossoms into love and the events that follow, irrevocably change Mallory’s life-path and self-image forever, but only goes to prove that the road to true love is never smooth and that things don’t always turn out how you expect…
EXCERPT of Bridge Over the Atlantic:
“You can NOT be serious?!” Mallory Westerman recoiled. It wasn’t a habit of hers, to inadvertently quote 1980’s sports stars. But even she was surprised when she heard John McEnroe’s words fall from her lips.
Thankfully, her fiancé, whilst obviously bemused at her reaction and frustrated by her lack of enthusiasm, didn’t really notice the similarities between her and the wiry haired tennis supremo. He was much too busy stroking the print-out in front of him, on the table, as if ironing out the creases would make his suggestion a more viable proposition.
“Honey, imagine the life we could have there right now,” he pleaded. “The open spaces, the fresh air…”
“The midge bites, the lack of internet connection, no other civilization for miles.” She rudely interrupted. She immediately felt guilty when Sam’s eyes took on the appearance of a scolded puppy dog. She slid her arms around his neck caressing the sides of his beautiful face. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I just don’t see me…either of us, really, taking to a permanent life out in the middle of goodness knows where at this point in our lives, surrounded by sheep and wearing wellies and tweeds!”
“Now you are being terribly stereotypical and insulting to all things countryside, Mallory,” Sam chastised in his Canadian drawl. “And besides, I think you’d look very fetching in wellies….just wellies that is, nothing else.” He grabbed her playfully and squeezed her. His green eyes flashed with a mischievousness Mallory had come to adore. She giggled and gazed up at him, lovingly recalling the first time she had found herself utterly mesmerized by him.
Mallory had lived in Yorkshire all the twenty-eight years of her life. Since dropping out of her PR course at Uni, through sheer laziness, she had endured a run of soulless jobs. Nothing ever really pushed her buttons. That was until an inheritance from her dear Aunt Sylvia had given her the opportunity to do the one thing she truly wanted to do.
Her little gift emporium, Le Petit Cadeau.
It had been the brain child of her Aunt many years before, when Mallory had taken to making her own Christmas gifts one year when, as was the case on more than one dreadful occasion, unemployment occurred on the brink of the festive season.
She had sobbed and sobbed when the solicitor informed her that her Aunt had left her the large sum of money under strict conditions that she was to, ‘get off her backside and do something fulfilling for once!.’ She remembered almost laughing aloud at the point when the solicitor had uttered the quote directly as her Aunt had written it. Even in death, feisty Sylvia knew how to draw a chuckle from her beloved niece.
It was a fairly quiet early December Wednesday in Leeds, well perhaps quiet was not the right way to put it. The city center was the usual bustling metropolis, but the Victoria Quarter was, ostensibly, being given a somewhat brief reprieve from the usual barrage of festive shoppers. Mallory huffed as she watched a swooning couple canoodling whilst browsing in the window of the lingerie boutique opposite.
“Sod this for a game of soldiers. I think I need a break,” she informed one of the cute, jointed, stiff teddy bears sitting, looking pensive on the shelf next to where she perched. “I reckon there is a tall, caramel macchiato with my name on it somewhere!”
Grabbing her oversized bag she chalked Back in 20 mins on her very own, handmade door sign. Once she had dropped the latch she headed out into the sea of suited business people and Christmas shoppers. She smirked at the vast number of pre-school children who were sporting cheap red Santa hats lovingly procured for them, she guessed, by harassed parents as bribery for good behavior.
The paved precinct area was buzzing. Mallory loved Leeds City Centre with its designer boutiques and quirky shops. At this time of year, however, there was something transcendent about the atmosphere. Maybe it was the twinkling lights strung from building to building or the way that each and every shop was decked in sparkling silvers and gregarious gold. The myriad Christmas songs, being played in numerous outlets all out of synch with one another, were an assault on the senses. The stalls all laid out, down the center of the precinct, were vying for the attention of passers-by with their brightly colored gifts and trinkets. A delicious aroma of roast chestnuts wafted through the chilled air and into Mallory’s nostrils making her tummy grumble.
She rounded the corner heading for her favorite coffee shop when suddenly she involuntarily lurched forward. Her stiletto heel had become lodged in between two paving slabs, sending her and her belongings, hurtling into the arms of a passing stranger.
“Whoaaaa there!” The startled man grabbed for Mallory, in a bid to stop her inevitable collision with the pavement. “We haven’t been formally introduced and yet here you are throwing yourself at me!” He laughed. His accent was noticeably of the North American variety.
Congratulations on your debut release, Lisa! Tell us, what is your favorite thing about being a writer?
I love the escapism; the way I can disappear into another world for a while.
What genre(s) do you write?
Only contemporary romance at present.
What genres and authors would we find you?
I love to read contemporary romance too but I also have started to enjoy paranormal romance. My faves are Jan Romes, Bernadette Marie, Jamie McGuire, Melynda Price and Abbi Glines
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Honestly? Letting it go when I had finished! I wanted it to be out there but I loved writing it so much that I felt very emotional knowing it was done.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I kind of do both! Sometimes I meticulously plot but then other times (like in my second novel) an idea springs to mind out of the blue and I just write it as it flows.
Why do you think people should choose your books over another author?
I want people to read mine along with others. I don’t want to steel readers I want people to read my books because they have heard good things.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
I want readers to fall in love with the characters as I did when I wrote them. I want them to finish reading my book thinking “Wow! I can’t wait to read her next novel!”
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Just that love is very real and very powerful.
How long have you been a writer?
I have been writing since I was a child but it has usually been poetry and song lyrics. I started to write a novel as a teen but never finished it.
How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?
I started my book in early 2012, completed in October 2012, Signed to 5 Prince Publishing in November 2012 and my book is published in April 2013 so all together a year of my life has gone into the book. Wow!
What other careers have you had?
I have been a singer…an office manager…a Science Learning Mentor in High School and now I’m a full time writer.
Do you write under more than one name? Why?
No, I decided to use my own name – no particular reason really.
Are any of your characters based on real people or events?
I see elements of myself and my husband in certain character traits but none are actually based on real people. Scotland features because it’s very important to me and the move we made to live here plays a part.
How would you describe yourself if you were “speed dating” your readers?
I am quite scatterbrained and I am a HUGE worrier! But I am passionate about my work and put my heart and soul into what I do. I hope it’s evident when readers pick up my novels.
What’s something fans would find fascinating about you?
Back in 1996/1997 I appeared on television on a show called ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ where I impersonated Alanis Morissette. Lol!
What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?
That I just want them to really enjoy the journey they take with my characters.
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
Gosh! So many! Just lately I have discovered some amazing talent. But looking back, I do love Emily Bronte and J D Salinger.
How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
They are so very proud and supportive. They are my biggest fans and my biggest critics too which keeps me on my toes. My friends have helped by beta reading and my husband has been my inspiration.
Where are you from?
Originally from Yorkshire, England but now living in Scotland (I’m an honorary Scot’s lass)
How do you come up with the titles?
They usually come from something quite prominent in the book. Not always right away though. The title usually comes later when things have whirled around in my head for a while.
Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer?
Absolutely! I was aiming to run a little craft business when we relocated as I had NO CLUE that my writing would take over! But I love that it has. It’s the best feeling ever!
Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task?
I have done a little of both. I started on my second novel whilst I was finishing my first. Then I worked solely on my second to finish it but at the moment I have three projects on the go. I am trying to concentrate on one so that it’s the best it can be but I can’t always do this as inspiration has a habit of appearing like a bolt out of the blue!
When not writing, how do you relax?
Reading! I LOVE to read. I bought a Kindle to treat myself when I moved to Scotland and I have lost count of how many wonderful books I have read.
Please tell us 5 miscellaneous facts about yourself.
I hate having my photo taken
I miss singing
I am a HUGE worrier
I have two crazy dogs
Scotland is my favorite place
Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases.
Bridge Over the Atlantic is out in April and my second novel has been submitted for consideration…just waiting J Novels three and four are works in progress and all are stand alone stories.
How can we find you?
Genre: Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
Purchase link: www.5princebooks.com/buy.htm
Thanks again for joining us, Lisa, and congratulations on your new release!
A new contemporary release about learning to love again… Congratulations, MJ, on your new release!
A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.
When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.
I’ve been called a slut, a ho, easy… and a few other words that I refuse to even write on paper.
Since middle school, people have taken one look at my light skin, grey eyes, and the shape of my body and assumed that’s who I was.
The first three letters of the word described them. How dare they judge me? Nobody is perfect.
It has never mattered what I’ve done in my life. Being the daughter of a bi-racial marriage has always haunted me. With my fusion of graceful features I’d inherited from my white mother – the slender nose, cat-like eyes, vibrant smile – and the take-no-shit attitude of my black father, people didn’t know how to deal with me.
Guys in school wanted to date me as if I were a trophy. Girls hated the color of my eyes and the texture of my hair.
Things got worse as I got older. Why? Because I love my body and I love sex.
But I never used either to earn money or favors from any man. I am a confident, educated woman who goes for what I want, regardless of what anyone around me has to say. If that means I want a good lay every now and then, I’m damn well entitled to it. But one thing I’d never be is a home wrecker.
My philosophy on love and relationships is simple: sex isn’t love, but it’s nice while you’re waiting.
Well, that’s what I used to think before the man that I fell in love with trampled all over my heart.
And raped my best friend.
Love will never happen for me. No man will ever understand me. The real me.
Not my parents, not my brother, not even my best friends.
My life, my experiences – both good and bad – are what define the real me.
The Butterfly Memoirs Series:
Bio for MJ Kane:
M.J. Kane stumbled into writing. An avid reader, this stay at home mom never lost the overactive imagination of an only child. As an adult she made up stories, though never shared them, to keep herself entertained. It wasn’t until surviving a traumatic medical incident in 2006 that she found a reason to let the characters inhabiting her imagination free. Upon the suggestion of her husband, she commandeered his laptop and allowed the characters to take life. It was that, or look over her shoulder for men caring a purple strait jacket. And the rest, as they say, is history.
No longer a television addict, if M.J. isn’t reading a book by one of her favorite authors, she’s battling with her creative muse to balance writing and being a wife and mother. She resides in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her high school sweetheart, four wonderful children, and two pit bulls. MJ can often be found hanging out at the local library where she is director of a local writer’s group, or online connecting with readers and other authors. Other activities she enjoys include: creating custom floral arrangements, assisting her children in their creative pursuits of music and art, and supporting her husband’s music production business, 3D Sounds.
You can find MJ on social networking sites, sharing writing tips, talking about music, life, and family. She’s always excited to meet new people. Connect with her via the websites below.
Author Contact Info:
FB Author: https://www.facebook.com/MJButterflyBooks
Happy Release Day, Phyllis!
The Italian Job
SYDNEY COOKE, a California magazine writer assigned to describe a tour of Italy, meets TAYLOR MITCHELL, an artist/computer consultant, on the flight to Rome. They click, but sometimes he’s mysterious. Just her luck if an eligible man has skeletons in his closet. Nine days later, a false accusation, plus a problem from his past forces Taylor to leave the tour. Can Sydney find him, and–in her unique, resourceful fashion–heal old wounds and bring about a happy-ever-after?
EXCERPT of The Italian Job:
I landed the assignment to go to Rome—not because I was the best writer on the staff of L.A. Life Magazine, nor because I could speak Italian (because I couldn’t). My incredibly important skill was availability. Time was short. Jason was on his honeymoon. Pamela was very pregnant. And no less than three staff members were out with the flu—or so they said. In May, go figure. Or perhaps it was because no one else was willing to fly 3,000 miles on two days notice. Shows what a stunningly bad social life can do for you.
Even so, my boss, Mr. Hardcastle, the first part of whose name should give you an idea of his personality, hesitated long enough before giving his assent to grow mold on my sweaty palms.
“You aren’t going to mess up again, are you?”
Like I planned to. Like climbing into the window of a strange person’s hotel room on my previous assignment for the magazine had been a well thought out decision. In truth, it was nothing but a fluke, the unavoidable result of making a serious miscalculation. Which, I fervently vowed, would never happen again.
“No, of course not.” I straightened up to my full five feet, six inches and shook my head. Which unfortunately set my ponytail swinging, not a good thing.
Hardcastle frowned. “So go already. My secretary will give you the tickets and itinerary. Take your laptop and be sure it works this time.”
I’d only made that mistake once so he had no call to remind me. And anyway, even without the laptop, I’d remembered almost the entire interview from that assignment and my article was highly praised in some circles.
“And, Sydney, don’t forget this is your last chance.”
He meant that threat, so I smiled and hurried from his office before he could change his mind about Rome.
The next day I found my never-used passport, had my hair trimmed, and packed my itinerary, tickets and laptop. I planned to record every minute of my first European experience into my journal and tucked it into my seriously overpriced handbag. I went to bed before nine in order to catch a very early flight out of Los Angeles the next morning.
However, as so often happens with me, I couldn’t fall asleep for hours. My brain wanted to replay the episode of the window, perhaps to reinforce in my conscious mind that the entire thing had not been my fault.
I’d been given the assignment to interview a minor local politician running for office in the next election, and I sat opposite him in an armless chair in his hotel room. I asked questions and he answered politely but softly, in what I later realized he considered a sexy voice. As I leaned forward to hear him, my skirt hiked up over my knees. I attempted to pull it down, dropped my notebook and bent to pick it up, and suddenly he was all over me like a case of hives.
I managed to get out of his clutches and protested in no uncertain terms, but he would have none of it. We did a little cha-cha around the sofa, and then, after slowing him down by pushing an end table in front of him, I grabbed my purse, dashed into the bedroom, and slammed the door.
Yes, that might sound like a foolish thing to have done, but I knew that old hotel. The windows were actually French doors and led to outside balconies. My aim was to get out there and call for help.
Much to my surprise, he didn’t follow me. Maybe he had a phone call, or he fell over the end table, or someone came to the door, but my problem remained. It was dark—he had set the interview time for evening—and the balcony was two stories above the street, too far for jumping even if I were an Olympic athlete instead of someone whose only exercise is changing the sheets on her bed.
However, the next balcony being merely a foot away, I decided to swing over to it, enter the next room by way of those French doors, and return to the hotel hallway. The next room, which I could only see through a crack in the closed drapes, seemed dark and empty. I paused but reasoned that even if someone were staying there, chances were slim it would be another man bent on hanky-panky.
So I hiked up my skirt, swung my legs over the two balcony railings, and gently tried the handle of the door. It was jerked open from inside, and suddenly I was face to face with a fledgling actor who was in town to audition for a part in an upcoming film.
Of course, I didn’t know his occupation at the time. That came in the next day’s newspapers. Even so, it could all have ended unobtrusively except that someone had apparently called a paparazzo, who flashed a bright light at me. I froze like a safe-cracker with his hand on the dial. Mr. Actor pulled me into his room, and I found myself among a dozen people watching a film clip on the room’s DVD player.
I was labeled a “groupie,” handed an eight-by-ten glossy signed by the actor, and laughingly sent on my way.
Except that, while climbing over the balcony, my handbag slipped off my shoulder and the paparazzo found the magazine’s business cards. That wasn’t the end, of course, the photographer had taken pictures and released them to the newspapers. As a result of the sudden publicity, Mr. Actor got a role in an action-adventure film. Nevertheless, Mr. Hardcastle was not amused.
I wrote up the interview as if none of that had occurred because I preferred to think the politician, perhaps, had never behaved that way before. Also, I learned a long time ago that I have plenty of faults of my own, so I lean toward forgiving others for theirs.
About Phyllis A Humphrey
Phyllis Humphrey’s writing credits include thirteen romance novels, a mainstream novel, a memoir about her husband’s aunt and a non-fiction book. In addition, she’s sold several short stories and many articles to national magazines, and her two 30-minute radio plays were produced by American Radio Theatre. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, where she was a Golden Heart finalist. Another novel won the San Diego Book Award in 2002, and she’s a member of Mensa.
How to contact Phyllis:
Twiiter: @ PhumphreyAuthor
Haden schooled his features, fighting the unexpected tide of jealousy rising inside him. It didn’t make sense he’d have an opinion either way. He’d just met the woman he was sent here to kill. “Who will you marry?” he asked with forced casualness.
“The spirits have spoken of a man, the one who came here for me.” Lifting her eyes to boldly meet his stare, Anya simply said, “You.”
Haden’s heart thundered inside his chest. Clearly, the woman was insane—beautiful, yes, but absolutely freaking nuts. He wasn’t going to marry her. Kill her?—probably, but marry her? Not a fucking chance in hell…
Celebrate with me by downloading Until Darkness Comes, the first book in my Redemption Series, for FREE! Until Darkness Comes is currently #6 in Paranormal!
Olivia lost it. The stress of the last few days had finally pushed her past the breaking point. She stepped toward Liam and shoved him with everything she had. She was even more furious when he didn’t budge. “You shouldn’t have left me!” she yelled, not sure if she meant tonight or three years ago—probably both…
To celebrate the release of Shades of Darkness , Until Darkness Comes (book1), will be available for free on Amazon from 2/28-3/4! I have twenty digital copies of Shades of Darkness to distribute, and I’m looking for fans interested in reviewing for me on Amazon, Goodreads and B&N. Leave a comment below if you’re interested in being a reviewer! 🙂
Freewill comes at a cost…
Three years after losing the love of her life, Olivia Norton refuses to continue living in the shadows of what will never be. But how can she marry another, when her guardian angel still holds her heart?
Bound by Universal Law, Liam is forced to choose between his honor and his heart. Returning for Olivia nearly cost him his salvation once, but twice may prove to be his final undoing. Some sacrifices are worth the risk, while others could bring consequences that would last an immortal lifetime.
The game has changed—new players bring new threats and challenges. The evil that nearly took Olivia’s life three years ago has returned with a vengeance. A legion has been sent to finish what Max failed to do, and the Dark Court will not rest until the last remaining sighted female has been killed.
An old enemy returns… Evil has a new face, a new name, and Haden will stop at nothing to possess the key Olivia holds, unlocking the power he needs to claim his revenge.