Rapturous #NewRelease #Blitz: A Pirate’s Darkness by M.L. Guida

🎉🎉🎉 NEW BOOK RELEASE! 🎉🎉🎉
From Award Winning Author M.L. Guida
Only an ice princess can melt the
darkness growing in his fiery heart
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A PIRATE’S DARKNESS
M.L. Guida
Series: Legends of the Soaring Phoenix, Book 6
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Buffalo Mountain Press
Publication Date: May 12, 2017
Destined to be queen of the undines, Penelope must master her winter powers and remain pure. But time is running out. A time spider is hunting her. To save her people, she must flee. If caught, the beast will bite her and drag her back to a demon’s island. Then, the demon will feast on her blood, allowing him to the escape the island and kill all those she loves.
Her only hope is to trust Ewan Kelley, the grim gun master of the Soaring Phoenix.
Ewan wants no part of this and is still mourning the loss of his beloved woman and guarding his blind daughter from the demon. But an archangel reveals that the demon knows where she is and plans to kidnap her. To keep her safe, he must save a woman he barely knows. In return, the archangel promises to give sight to his little girl.
Their attraction for each other proves to be too strong, and soon they learn that their forbidden love will not be denied. Only by working together can they defeat the forces of evil.

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Other Books by the Author

Don’t miss the other books in the Legends of the Soaring Phoenis series:
Book Cover
A PIRATE’S OBSESSION
Series: Legends of the Soaring Phoenix Book 4
Losing his hand to a demon means Ronan Macmillian is desperate. He’ll do anything to avoid being a cripple, even sacrifice to the same demon an innocent, beautiful undine. But when Ronan meets the beautiful Angelica, restoring his hand and handing over the undine becomes complicated. Will Ronan betray his honor and his heart and deliver Angelica over to the demon? Or will true love prevail and win Ronan her life?
Book Cover
A PIRATE’S BANE
Series: Legends of the Soaring Phoenix Book 5
*** Winner: First Place, 2016 Reviewer’s Choice Award for Historical Novel or Novella
Water Elemental Isabella is a prisoner on board the dreaded Fiery Damsel pirate ship. Her choice is mate with pirate Leif Black or die. Leif Black has problems of his own. He has kept his sisters hidden from the crew of the Fiery Damsel and never told them that he is a vampire.
Isabella and Leif fight to deny their forbidden love, but destiny won’t be defied. When the lust proves to be too strong, they must work together to protect their child and trust each other to defeat the evil demon.

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eBook of A Pirate’s Darkness

About M.L. Guida

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Award Winning ML Guida has been in love with the paranormal ever since she first watched Dark Shadows as a little girl. She still enjoys watching paranormal shows including A Haunting, The Haunted, Dead Files, and Supernatural. She’s a Dean girl, BTW. She has a historical paranormal series called Legends of the Soaring Phoenix which are pirates that turn into vampires during every full moon. She also has a paranormal romantic suspense series called the Angels of Death which is angels are trying to stop a crafty demon from murdering people and taking their souls.
Sign up for M.L. Guida’s newsletter to receive the latest book releases, updates, appearances, and any other fun information. Click here.
Official website: http://www.mlguida.com
Connect with ML Guida on social media: Facebook | Twitter
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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Breaker & The Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Breaker & the Sun
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Paper Stars #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: May 8, 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

Times means nothing. It’s just the sun and moon changing places.

New from Lauren Nicolle Taylor, the best-selling author of Nora and Kettle, comes a fresh take on a classic tale.

Breaker Van Winkle is a recently returned Vietnam vet, struggling with PTSD and the difficulties of readjusting to civilian life with his mother. Sunny is a high-achieving eighteen-year-old Chinese-French immigrant who fled Vietnam during the war. Sunny is usually as cheerful as her name implies, but she has her struggles too. Haunted by violent memories of the bombing that killed her parents, and chafing under the rule of her eccentric grandmother, she finds solace deep in the Catskills, at a place she calls the Ugly Tree.

When Breaker stumbles upon Sunny and the Ugly Tree, things start to change. They are drawn to each other, and feel called to the tree. As they spend more time together and their relationship deepens, they notice that their time at the tree is becoming twisted somehow. Sunny’s mind yawns and her ambitions begin to slip away. Breaker feels safe and carefree, his memories finally burying themselves in the distant past. They are being lulled toward a tempting, peaceful sleep—but there is a cost to this magical serenity, and it may be more than either of them can bear…

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EXCERPT:

Two Days

BREAKER

I walk a trail up the mountain for a couple of hours and then head home, figuring Red’s playdate will be over.

When I hit the town, I’m surprised by how much traffic there is. A school bus rolls past, loaded with little faces, and I stop.

Nervously, I fumble for a smoke and then give up. My eyes follow the bus around the corner until it disappears.

It’s Sunday, I say to myself. It’s Sunday, I try to convince myself.

I pick up the pace, almost jogging to my neighborhood, watching the houses become more dilapidated as I go. I thunder up the stairs, tension in my chest and fear in my heart. I open the screen door to find Mom straightening the lounge. She looks up from rearranging the cushions and stares at me, hard and cold. “Where the hell have you been?” she asks. If there’s concern in her voice, it’s buried under months of disappointment.

I step over the threshold and smile awkwardly. It feels slapped on my face, fake and plastic. “You shouldn’t curse on a Sunday.”

She looks at me like I’m nuts, a look I’m very used to, and then bites her lip, her eyes darting around the room. “Are you high right now?” she whispers. Then she comes closer, shaking her finger at me. “Don’t bring that shit into my house, Breaker. I’m warning you. Seriously, after everything we went through with your dad, how could you?” She is agitated but sadly unsurprised.

“What are you talking about, Mom? You always tell me off for cursing, especially on the Lord’s day.”

She quirks an eyebrow and says, low and frightened, “Breaker, it’s Tuesday.”

I think I already knew, but hearing her say it forces a hard shudder through me. I look to her and say through my teeth, “I’m not high, Mom. I’m sorry I didn’t call, but I crashed at a friend’s place for a couple of days. I should have called.”

She shrugs, and I can feel her distancing herself from me more and more. “Yes, you should have.”

Something like excitement rushes through me. A wavy line of electricity. I feel that pull again. Back to the woods. It must be the tree, right? I stare at my feet, desperate to turn them around and walk out again. Whatever it is, I wonder if it happened to Sunny too. My fingers itch with sap and the last little shreds of bark. I wipe them on my pants.

The screen door creaks and Red crashes through the entryway, throwing his school bag on the floor and colliding into me. “Where’ve you been, Break?” he asks, worry in his tone as he wraps his arms around my middle and squeezes. I pause. I can’t run out on him. Even if Mom doesn’t care where I’ve been, he does.

“I’m sorry, bro,” I say, patting his head and pulling his arms away from me before I start to feel caged and want to fight my way out of his grasp. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Red shrugs unconvincingly. “Yeah, well, you missed my playdate. You didn’t get to meet Jake.”

Mom snorts in the kitchen. “Go put your things away and wash up, hon.”

Tuesday. Two days. Two days gone. Two days I didn’t have to think about them or the past or wherever the hell I’m heading. Two days without nightmares. A few hours with Sunny took two days I don’t need or want back.

As soon as Red exits the room, the atmosphere changes. Mom slams a cup on the bench like a summons, and I go to talk to her in the kitchen.

I pull up one of the frayed vinyl barstools and sit facing her. “I’m really sorry.”

She frowns, cranes her neck to check if Red’s still in the bathroom, and whispers tersely, “So you should be. You didn’t warn me about his friend Jacob.” She says the word friend like it’s dirty. Like it should be scrubbed raw and clean.

Oh.

“It was so embarrassing. His mom came right up to the door and knocked, calling out to me in that accent. Meesus. Van Weeenkeell.” She does a horrible impersonation of the mother’s accent. “God!” She slaps a palm over her forehead and drags it down her face. “The neighbors probably saw her. They probably think I’m friends with one of them now.”

I narrow my eyes. “What do you mean by one of them?” I challenge.

She shakes her head, wisps of blonde hair floating around her face. “You know…them. Them! Yeesh, Breaker, I thought you of all people would know what I’m getting at.”

Thankfully, Red comes back in the room, so I’m saved from trying to work out and explain my very complicated feelings on them.

“Jake really wants to meet you,” he says, climbing up on the stool next to me, his pale hands barely a contrast to the white tile counter. I nod, eyeing Mom curiously. Her back stiffens as she pretends to wash dishes.

“Sure,” I say, surprising myself.

Two days, two days, two days, echoes in my mind. The pull so easy to grab a hold of. The need to go back so strong. I’d agree to anything if it meant I could get out of here quicker.

He leans his head on my shoulder and I tense, but I don’t jerk away like I normally do. “Yes!” he shouts. “So cool!” Mom squeezes the water out of the sponge in her hands until it’s bone dry.

I decide to save Red from her bullshit. “How about we meet in the park? Play some ball or something?”

Red seems so excited by this, which makes me feel instantly guilty. “Really? Really, really? That would be so great, Breaker.”

I pat his head and ease myself from the stool. My weariness is starting to return. Whatever energy I had is slowly being sapped after that encounter with Mom. I grimace.

Mom makes a small gesture. An almost grudging one. “Will you be staying for dinner?” she calls after me in a weakened voice.

Red pleads. “We’re having hot dog casserole.”

My stomach gurgles. If I’ve been gone for two days, I haven’t eaten in two days either. I feel hungry but not starving. I did my survival training. Two days without food. More importantly, without water, should have a much more significant effect on me than it has. I scratch my head, still standing in the short hall while Mom awaits an answer. “Okay. Sure. Dinner,” I grunt.

Red runs to me and gives me another squeeze, and I try not to squirm. “I’m glad you’re home.” Then he steps back and gives me a toothy, chipmunk grin. “Don’t you go disappearin’ like that again, ya hear?” He waggles his finger at me, and I laugh. Just one short little laugh, but enough to push some light into an otherwise dark and dusty cavity.

“I promise,” I say, half-intending to keep it.

 

*****

 

Finally alone, I collapse on my generally untouched bed. My head sags into my hands. I wonder how Sunny is feeling. I can’t find out since I don’t even have her phone number.

I want to come up with a rational explanation for what just happened, but I’ve got nothing. I want to run back there, but I don’t want to upset Red again.

Two days.

Two. Days.

Displaying 17035382_10155059332553594_2084868380_n.jpg

Author Bio:

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Debutante by Marie Silk

Davenport House Prequel: Debutante
Marie Silk
Publication date: April 21st 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

The family saga begins in Debutante, a prequel to the best-selling Davenport House series. A life of luxury for the Davenports means drudgery for the servants on the grand country estate. This is their story in 1909 America, six years prior to the events of book one.

While her father is away on business, sixteen-year-old Mary Davenport feels confined and alone, despite her privileged life at the family’s mansion. As the day of Mary’s debutante ball draws near, the servants are conflicted by instructions from Mary’s mother to starve her until she fits into a gown that was made too small. Mary is also under pressure to act the part of society while being forbidden from seeing her only friend, the servant boy who works in the stable.

In a shantytown hours away, a young girl called Abigail is hired to sew a gown for a dressmaker’s wealthy patron. Abigail gives up her education in order to provide for her impoverished family. Neither she nor Mary is aware of how connected their futures are destined to become.

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Special release price of 99¢!

AND: Each book in the series will be on sale for 99¢ between April 22-27!

Author Bio:

Marie Silk has enjoyed writing stories and plays since childhood. She lives with her family in the United States and travels the globe as often as life permits. She is an admirer of history, antiques, and architecture. Marie is the author of the best selling Davenport House family saga.

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: The Gentleman’s Promice by Frances Fowlkes

The Gentleman’s Promise
Frances Fowlkes
(Daughters of Amhurst, #3)
Published by: Entangled Publishing
Publication date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

A social pariah due to her scandalous activities, Lady Sarah Beauchamp yearns for redemption to obtain a husband. The assistance of Society darling Mr. Jonathon Annesley gives her hope of success. However, the more effort he puts into helping her, the more she realizes the only esteem she wishes to earn is that of the handsome Jonathon. However, her reputation would potentially ruin his political aspirations.

Offering a gentleman’s promise to help his sister’s friend regain the favor of the ton should be easy for son of a viscount, Jonathon Annesley. After all, he’s well liked and considered a rising star in Parliament. Until he learns Sarah’s ultimate goal is a husband. No man is good enough and could ever appreciate her for all she is. But she is not for him—his focus rests solely on gaining reforms for society’s weakest members. Yet, a promise made cannot be broken…

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Author Bio:

After viewing her all-time favorite love story, “Anne of Green Gables”, at the impressionable age of ten, Frances Fowlkes has been obsessed with affable boy-next door heroes, red-heads, and romance stories with lots of “highfaluting mumbo jumbo” written within their pages. It only seems natural then that she married the boy who used to pull on her curls in her high school English class, had not one, but THREE red-headed boys, and penned multiple love stories with bits of flowery prose.

When not writing, Frances loves spending time with her family, fangirling, and planning her next vacation.

Frances Fowlkes, originally a northern mid-westerner, now lives in the southeast with her ardent hero of a husband, three playful and rambunctious boys, and one spoiled standard poodle.

A self-professed Anglophile and summa cum laude graduate of LeTourneau University, Frances Fowlkes combines her passion for happily-ever-afters with her interests in both American and English histories.

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Queen Of Emeralds by Kelsey McKnight

Queen of Emeralds
Kelsey McKnight
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical

British heiress Charlotte Holloway never had any interest in marrying…

However, a woman in Victorian England spends her life in the control of men, making finding a husband necessary. Fearing his daughter losing everything when he dies, Charlotte’s father forces a match with an old friend, Richard Howard. But Richard is much more interested in an heir than a wife, and will do anything to continue his bloodline.

Beaten and battered, Charlotte sees no way out of the union…

Then the handsome Scottish laird Conner MacLeod crashes the social scene. He sets her body on fire with a mere touch, but he has a bad reputation of leaving a string of women in his wake. Nonetheless, when Conner offers his emerald queen sanctuary in his Highland castle, Charlotte flees with him into the night, escaping her marriage. But those who wish to trap her are never far behind.

The Highlands give her hope, but fill her life with new perils…

She and Conner begin growing closer, although the shadows of his former relationships haunt her. Still, the magnetic forces that pull them together are making it harder for her to stay away. And just as Charlotte is beginning to settle into her life, she learns someone wants her gone for good and will do so…by any means necessary.

When Charlotte escapes one marriage only to find herself on the cusp of another, will she ever be free?

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EXCERPT:

When Penelope was whirled away for a dance by some lord’s youngest son, Charlotte took the opportunity to slip away from the crush and make a hasty exit out to a balcony door. Her head had begun to spin and she feared she might be sick from the drink if she couldn’t get out of the stifling crowd. The balcony was large and its stone railing wrapped around most of the lavish building her father owned. The new electric streetlights illuminated the foggy London streets with a dim yellow glow. The large glass doors that led inside did surprisingly much to mute the loud music and Charlotte was grateful for the cold winter breeze and bit of privacy the balcony offered.

She pulled off the long white gloves she wore and leaned against the railing, inhaling large gulps of fresh air. “How I wish this was all over,” she whispered to the empty streets.

“How can ye wish your own party to be done?” A deep voice asked from the most shadowed of corners.

Charlotte turned around, her light purple skirts flying with the quick motion. “Who’s there?”

A tall man stepped from the darkened place where he had sat on a stone bench. His loose blond hair brushed his shoulders and his blue eyes seemed to flash brightly in the dark. He wore a black military jacket and a sharp yellow and black kilt that looped about his shoulder and was fastened with a silver and emerald pin. Traditional high socks covered his strong legs. A short sword was fastened to his hip by a rugged leather belt and his hand lay casually on its silver hilt. “Conner MacLeod. Chief o’ the MacLeod clan.”

“Charlotte Holloway, daughter of the Duke of Glenwood,” Charlotte answered, stunned by the strange dress and deep Scottish lilt. She wasn’t sure where he had come from, as he certainly would have stood out in the crowd of morning coats and ball gowns. She tried to advert her eyes from the bare swatch of leg that showed between his socks and kilt but could hardly bring herself to look away.

“I know who ye are, of course. This entire party is in your honor. But, I must ask…why do ye wish it over so soon?”

“I’m not much for balls.”

“A pretty lass like you? How can ye no’ be much for balls?” His lips curled in a mischievous smirk. “Do you not like the pomp and circumstance?”

Charlotte felt her cheeks grow warm and she wasn’t sure if it was from the drink or the way the Scotsman looked at her from under his dark lashes. All the same, she sensed in him a kindred spirits of sorts. “I’m not much for society at all. I’d rather be out riding or reading a good book than be stuffed in this dress meeting every eligible bachelor in the city.”

He laughed deeply. “I admire your honesty. Not many lasses are willin’ to admit when a party does no’ suit them.”

“I assume the party doesn’t suit you much either?”

“Not much. Us Scots have been tryin’ to be more respected in our own right. One o’ the ways to do that is to spend a bit o’ time with the English. Make them see we’re not all barbarians.”

“Ah, fraternizing with the enemy?” Charlotte could almost hear Penelope chastising her for speaking so familiarly to a man, and about politics at that!

“Ye could say that.” He brushed his hands through his hair and leaned against the railing beside her, looking over the side. “Ye aren’t cold out here in the night air?”

“No, I rather like being outside no matter what the weather is.” She took another deep breath. “Besides, I do think I drank a bit too much punch.”

“And danced with a few too many borin’ men, most like.”

She giggled, despite being told a hundred times by Abigail that it was very unladylike to do so without shielding your face with a fan. “I suppose that might have something to do with it. But, that’s the job of a duke’s daughter.”

Conner stepped toward her and extended his hand. “Well, since we are both trapped at this comin’ out party, we may as well have a bit o’ fun. Fancy a dance, Lady Glenwood?”

Charlotte took his rough, warm hand in her own. His palms were worn, much unlike those of English gentlemen with their silky smooth hands kept clean in powdered gloves. This man was obviously used to physical activity and hard work. She kept their hands together before remembering she had removed her gloves and left them on the railing. “Oh, I’m sorry!” She pulled away from his grasp before slipping her fingers inside her gloves once more.

“You ladies and your gloves. Scared o’ touchin’ anythin’ without a barrier o’ silk?” he teased.

“I hate them, personally. However, one must play the part at times.”

“And what part are ye playin’?”

“The part of a dutiful daughter.”

“Then it looks to me that you are doin’ a right fine job.” He offered his arm, which she gladly took. “Now, my lady, let’s go have us a dance.”

***

The room hushed slightly as Charlotte entered on Chief Conner MacLeod’s arm. Penelope watched, wide-eyed, as the couple began a lively waltz with the other colorful pairs of dancing guests. Conner was an animated dancer and whirled Charlotte around the floor with surprising ease for someone as rugged as he. She was enjoying herself so greatly that she hardly notice the strange looks some of the guests gave them, nor the look of disapproval on Abigail’s tightly pinched face.

His hands clutched her closely, perhaps closer than was really appropriate. He grinned with the self-confidence that only good-looking men rightly had and gazed at Charlotte with true merriment in his sapphire eyes. Conner didn’t attempt the usual small talk that most men would try during a dance, but just let their mutual joy at having a fine partner fill in the silence between them.

“What a crowd,” Conner whispered into her ear as the music winded down and the dancing couples slowed to a halt. “Ye would think they’d never seen a pair o’ dancers before.”

Charlotte felt a chill go up her spine that she tried to ignore. “I suppose your appearance has caused quite the titter. I must say, we do not see very many Scottish Lords and it always is the surprise.”

“I suppose the man approachin’ us would agree with ye.”

“I am here to collect my dance.” Richard Howard’s monotone voice greeted Charlotte’s back.

Conner dipped a short bow and lightly kissed Charlotte’s hand. Even through the silk of her glove, she felt the heat of his mouth on her skin. “A pleasure, my lady.”

Charlotte blushed again and felt bold enough to ask, “If you stay longer, perhaps we might dance again?”

“Perhaps,” he answered smoothly as he backed away into the crowd. “Perhaps.”

Author Bio:

Kelsey McKnight is a university-educated historian from southern New Jersey. She has married her great loves of romance, history, and literature to create her newly finished works. Her first books, “The Scottish Stone Series”, are coming in April of 2017 by Limitless Publishing. Book one is titled “Queen of Emeralds”, and is available now. “The Scottish Stone Series” take readers on a journey through the bustling streets of Victorian London and into the lush hills of the Scottish Highlands. Her second book, a contemporary romance titled “The Non-Disclosure Agreement”, will also be available in May of 2017 and feature a bad boy politician and the small town girl that could change his ways. When she’s not writing, Kelsey can be found reading, drinking too much coffee, spending time with her family, and working on two nonprofits.

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Clever #CoverReveal: Canary Club by Sherry D. Ficklin

The Canary Club
Sherry D. Ficklin
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: October 16th 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

“Bad Luck” Benny is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Recently released from jail, he has vowed to keep his head down and stay out of trouble. But he also needs to care for his ailing sister and the rest of his struggling family, and he’ll do anything to make that happen—even if it means taking a position with a notorious crime boss. He soon finds himself in over his head—and worse still—falling for the one dame on earth he should be staying away from.

Masie is the daughter of a wealthy gangster with the voice of an angel and gun smoke in her veins. Strong-willed but trapped in a life she never wanted, she dreams of flying free from the politics and manipulation of her father. A pawn in her family’s fight for control of the city, and with a killer hot on her heels, she turns to the one person who just might be able to spring her from her gilded cage. But Masie is no angel, and her own dark secrets may come back to burn them both.

Two worlds collide in this compelling story of star-crossed lovers in gritty prohibition-era New York.

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Author Bio:

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: The Lady Of The Forest by Barbara Bettis

He must pursue his enemy;
she must protect her people.
Can their love survive the duties that drive them apart?
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THE LADY OF THE FOREST
Barbara Bettis
Series: Knights of Destiny
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: October 28, 2016
When her elderly husband dies, Lady Katherine fakes her own death and disappears into the forest with others escaping the brutish new lord. Determined to protect her people, she knocks the wrong man senseless. But Lord Henry isn’t an enemy, he’s the brother of her childhood friend. Although his tender confidence tempts her, she’s bound by duty.
Henry of Chauvere has found the one lady he wants for his own, never mind she’s tied him hand and foot. When he learns the king has ordered her to wed Stonehill’s ruthless new master, he insists Kate seek haven with his sister. But she won’t desert her friends. Henry vows to solve her problem, provided he catches a traitor before the threat from Kate’s past catches her.
When a daring rescue compels Henry and Kate to join forces, their attraction grows into love. If only duty didn’t drive them apart.
Ms. Bettis demonstrates her skill weaving a plot full of twists and turns. From the very first scene I was cheering for the triumph of honor and love.
– Ellen Parker, Goodreads Reviewer
Find a comfortable seat since you won’t want to put this one down.
– Dawn, Goodreads Reviewer
The Lady of the Forest by Barbara Bettis is a medieval love story at its best! If you are in the mood for a fast-paced medieval adventure, then The Lady of the Forest will surely please you.
– Nicole Laverdure, Goodreads Reviewer

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Of Glitter And Gold by Sherry D. Ficklin

Of Glitter and Gold: A Canary Club Anthology
Sherry D. Ficklin
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 27th 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

Set during the flamboyant anything-goes era of 1920’s America, these three tales are filled with intriguing characters and rich imagery from the time period—with flappers, jazz music, gangsters, and lavish wealth. Escape to a different decade today with the compelling stories of the Canary Club Anthology.

Novelette 1- Gilded Cage

Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious bootlegger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis. Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets, Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future—and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making.

Novelette 2- All That Glitters

A dame with brains, moxie, and killer curves, June West isn’t your average flapper. She’s managed to endear herself to the son of one of the most powerful gangsters in New York, earning herself a spot in the limelight that she’s always longed for. With the infamous playboy at her side, June has become accustomed to living the high life. Lavish parties, expensive clothes, sparkling jewels—nothing is beyond her reach. But when her carefully woven web of lies finally catches up with her, she must make an impossible choice… come clean about her past and risk losing everything, or find a way to bury her demons—once and for all.

Novelette 3 – Nothing Gold

Dickey has been down on his luck since the day he was born. Flat broke and sick of being looked down on, he meets young socialite Lillian at a wild party. The connection is like a strike of lightning. From a wealthy New York family, this debutante is everything he’s been told he can never have—and the only thing he wants. Determined to win her, he knows the only way to get her parents approval is with cold hard cash. So when a shot at the biggest score of his life comes around, he just can’t refuse…

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NOTHING GOLD EXCERPT:

It’s easier than I imagined to sneak into the party. The music is so loud and the crowd so enormous that no one sees me wind my way through the shrubs on the outskirts. The massive estate is far enough away from the city that I had to hitch a ride to get here, and I’ll have to time my exit just right to make the train back to Manhattan.

Brushing off my secondhand suit coat, I enter the party via the back patio. A wide pool is filled with people, most still in their fancy evening wear. My eyes slide past them, searching for the one person at this shindig that I know. I scan past butlers with white gloves holding silver trays covered in champagne glasses, past gleeful dames in short skirts with blood-red lips, and past gents in their glad rags I can tell with one glance cost more dough than I make in a year working at the mill.

When I finally see him, his pinstripe suit, matching fedora, and red pocket square, he’s standing atop the massive staircase on the ledge overlooking the party. Deacon Brewer, the reason I’m here tonight. His hands are stuffed in the pockets of his trousers as he chats up a fella I don’t recognize, along with the dame hanging off his arm. Plastering on an easy grin, I wind my way through the people, helping myself to a glass of bubbly as I head for the stairs. The stone steps are covered in gold confetti, the whole place practically dripping with it. Long, red velvet drapes hang from arched windows, and leafless branches painted gold and draped with crystal beads sit in tall vases in every corner. Nothing has been left un-gilded.

I shake my head at the audacity. Might as well have a neon sign—someone, please rob the joint.

Deacon sees me coming and dismisses himself from his conversation, welcoming me with an open hand.

“Dickey Lewis, glad you could make it, boy,” he offers warmly.

As if I had a choice.

“Of course, Mr. Brewer,” I respond with more warmth than I feel. Truth is that I’m in deep to Deacon after a few bad bets at his club last month, and he opted to make me work it off rather than take it outta my hide. I suppose that makes him clever, but I can’t help the gnawing feeling that this is a debt I may never fully repay. “What’s the score?” I ask, lowering my voice.

Draping an arm across my shoulders, he walks me through the glass doors and into the house. Still crammed with people drinking, dancing, and generally wrecking the joint, he pulls a cigar from his vest pocket with his free hand.

“Upstairs in the den is a lovely Monet, behind which is a very large safe. Cash, some baubles, and a bankbook are inside. I don’t care about the rest; you take what you need. But the bankbook needs to find its way into my hands tomorrow morning by eight am.”

I take a deep breath, rolling my tongue over my teeth before answering, “How am I supposed to get into the safe?”

He barks a deep laugh, slapping me on the back. “Guess you’ll have to get a little creative. Just get in, get out, and don’t let nobody see ya, got it?”

All I can do is nod and watch him swagger away. Sure, I’ve boosted loot before, but always simple jobs, smash and grabs. Nothing like this. What have I gotten myself into this time?

Still, whatever else is in there is mine for the taking, I tell myself. Could be a big pay day, judging by the looks of the place.

I wander casually through the house, trying to look as if I belong while also counting the number of cops and guards watching the area. It’s not as many as I expected. I grab a dark-haired dame by the waist, offering her a charming smile and asking for a dance. We Charleston together for two songs, finally stopping to imbibe more champagne. When I ‘accidently’ stumble into her, she spills the contents of her glass on my jacket, fumbling a wide-eyed apology.

Waving her off with a smile, I hand her my glass, “You take this, and I’ll go find a place to wash up.”

“You could always take a dip in the pool, honey,” she says, batting her eyelashes.

Beside her, a gentleman points up a secondary set of stairs near the front door. “Washroom is up there, I think.”

I mutter a thanks and a promise to return, then make my way up the stairs, continuing to stumble around as if drunk, occasionally opening a door to find a couple necking or a room full of folks smoking the Indian hop in long pipes.

Finally, the thumping of the music fading below me, I make my way to the library. Beyond that, I find the only locked door on the entire floor. Digging into my pocket, I pull out my lock kit, a simple flattened iron jimmy and a hooked pick. Sliding both in the lock, I slide them back and forth, listening for the mechanism inside to release. It doesn’t take long and the door springs open, allowing me to step inside and close it quickly behind me. It’s dark except for the glow of a single lamp atop a massive oak desk, behind which is a tall arched window overlooking the front of the estate. From this spot, I can see the cars lined up along the circular drive, partygoers coming and going in wild abandon. Pulling the pocket watch from my vest, I wipe my fingers across the cracked glass face, checking the time. Only thirty minutes until the train. If I miss it, it’ll be two hours before the next one. Not the end of the world, unless someone notices the lift before I’m gone. That’s a long time to stick around with a pocket fulla stolen goods.

I glance around me, the blood chilling in my veins. Every wall except the one with the window is covered in framed paintings. And I have no idea which one is a Monet.

Scrambling, I begin lifting each, checking the wall behind for any sign of the safe. Finally, on the opposite wall from where I started, I find it. Carefully lifting the heavy canvas free, I set it on the floor and turn my attention to the wall safe. It’s not large, about the size of a bread box with a spinning combination dial in the center. Unsure what else to do, I pull the pocket knife free from my trousers and flick it open, trying to wedge it between the door and the frame. As soon as I do, I know it’s going to be futile. The thing is heavy steel; no way my knife is gonna bust it open. Putting it away, I begin spinning the dial at random, praying I’ll get lucky.

I’m so flustered I don’t hear the door open or the footsteps from behind me until it’s too late.

“It’s my birthday,” a voice offers, making me spin, hands balled into fists to fight my way free from the room.

The dame is tall, her garnet-red hair rolled into bouncy curls and pinned in a messy heap at the back of her neck. Her dress is green, almost the same color as her eyes, and it hugs her slender frame as if it were a second skin. Even the long strings of pearls twined around her neck seems completely natural, not just a decoration but an extension of her. I take a breath, blinking, momentarily stunned. She drapes one hand on her hip, her entire body listing to the side as she points to the safe.

“The combination,” she repeats. “It’s my birthday.”

Finally recovering my voice, I stammer. “I was, uh, just…”

The corners of her mouth turn upward. “Breaking into my father’s safe?”

I don’t know what to say. I feel her in the room, the way one might feel the air change right before a storm, a heaviness that settles in, leaving my soul with a sense of foreboding. My instincts battle inside me. Do I grab her and tie her to a chair, or do I flee? The weight of her gaze makes it impossible to think clearly.

“Relax,” she says, raising a glass I hadn’t noticed her holding to her lips and taking a slow drink. “I’m not calling the guards if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Oh? You’re just gonna let me crack this safe and walk away with whatever’s inside?”

She shrugs. “It’s not my money. What do I care?”

I lick my lips, sizing her up. A spoiled little rich girl who wants to stick it to Daddy. I’ve seen a few of those in my day. I can work with this—if I can get my head back on straight. It’s not like me to get so flustered by a dame, not even a high-quality one like this.

“Besides…” She sets the glass on the desk and saunters toward me. “It’s not like we don’t have enough.”

I catch a hint of her perfume in the air when she brushes by me, lavender and something else I can’t quite place. Taking the dial in her hand, she spins the knob until the door finally clicks, then she steps back, giving me a go-ahead gesture.

I hesitate, flicking glances at the bare skin where her neck meets her shoulder, at the creamy whiteness of her skin, before settling my eyes on her face. “What’s your name, doll?”

She looks down, sheepishly at first, but then raises just her eyes to look at me with an expression of bold defiance. “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

I swallow, considering her offer. She’s already gotten a good look at me, enough to rat me out to the cops. The look on her face is one of challenge, I realize. She’s daring me to trust her.

“Dickey,” I say, pulling the flat cap off my head and holding it over my heart as I bow to her. “Dickey Lewis, at your service, Miss?”

“Lillian Rose Duke,” she answers. “But my friends call me Lilly.”

Replacing my hat, I grab the safe handle and twist, pulling open the heavy door. Grabbing a large wooden box first, I hold it out to her. Moving back, I grab two stacks of fresh bills and stuff them in the pockets of my suitcoat. Finding the bankbook last, I tuck it into the back of my pants before pulling my shirt and jacket over it.

I spin to Lilly, watching as she upends the box, spilling jewelry onto the desk in a pile. She picks through it, finally just scooping it all into her hand and sauntering over to me. Getting so close I feel the warmth of her, she grabs the lapel of my jacket, sliding the gold and stones into the inside pocket.

“Give these to your girl, Dickey Lewis.”

She releases my lapel, but doesn’t step away. Instead, she leans forward. Thinking she’s going to kiss me, I straighten in anticipation, but she just trails her fingers along my collar until she’s cupping the back of my neck.

“I ain’t got no girl,” I admit, my heart pounding behind my ribs.

“Well, isn’t that a shame?” she says, her lips a hair’s breadth from mine.

Unable to resist, I close the final distance between us, clutching her by the waist as I urge her lips to mine. I’ve never tasted gold before, but I imagine this is what it would be like—champagne, honey, and nerves of steel. When she finally pulls away, I’m gasping. Tugging tugs the white linen handkerchief from my pocket, she wipes my face, then hers, of her smeared lipstick before returning the hankie to its place.

“I hope to see you around, Dickey Lewis.”

With that, she spins on her heel and heads for the door, listening for a moment before pulling it open and stepping out. The room is instantly colder, the air thinner. I can finally breathe, can think.

As I slink from the party and disappear into the shadows, making my way down the street to the train station, I can’t force the sight of her from my mind, or the taste of her from my lips.

Even if it takes every penny in my pocket and every breath in my body, I will see Lillian Rose Duke again.

Author Bio:

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

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