Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review of Borderland Bride & Borderland Beauty by Samantha Holt

Title:  Borderland Bride & Borderland Beauty
Series:  The Borderland Legacy
Author:  Samantha Holt
Genre:  Historical Romance
Length:  150 pages
Publisher:  Jupiter Gardens Press
Cover Artist:  Valerie Tibbs

Borderland Bride
In the wilderness of 14th century Northumbria, Lady Isabel discovers just how dangerous the Borderlands can be. With the loss of her voice and her hearing, there is little hope left for her. But when a brooding knight rescues her, she vows never to become a victim again and buries the secrets of her past in the hope that those hunting her will never find her in the Borderlands.
Jake is astonished to come across the beautiful Isabel, near to death, on his brother’s lands. Bringing her back to his brother’s home, he finds himself longing for something more from the courageous woman, something that he thought he would never want again. Isabel works her way into his scarred heart and opens Jake up to loving once more. But will Isabel’s secrets destroy their bond? And with his charismatic brother, Dominic, charming her, does he even stand a chance?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DAIUFCM/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00DAIUFCM&linkCode=as2&tag=yohameatfrbo-20Borderland Beauty
Lord Dominic is in need of a wife. With the reivers, the wild and dangerous criminals that haunt the borderlands, breathing down his neck and his brother now married, he needs a strong woman by his side. So when he finds out about an old marriage contract between him and his neighbour’s daughter, he vows to give the mysterious woman a chance. Upon meeting the beautiful, feisty maiden, he vows to make her his wife.
Lucy Montgomery wants nothing to do with the arrogant lord. She doesn’t understand his interest in her. Surely a man like Dominic could never fall for a woman like her? Hurt by the past, she refuses to believe that she is anything more than a game to him. If only she didn’t find him quite so charming.
Can Dominic persuade Lucy that she is more than just another woman to him? And with the reivers growing bolder, are there worse dangers than Lucy saying ‘Nay’?

Borderland Bride
Normally I don't like reviewing both books at one time.  I prefer to space them out so the author gets more exposure.  However, the author requested reviews on both at this time, so here we go!  This was a really cute book.  I loved the characters and the chemistry between them all.  Jake was dark and broody, but he let Isobel see a part of him that nobody else could. The part included in the excerpt below really annoyed me, but I love how it ended.

Borderland Beauty
This book was even better!  Though they didn't really know each other, the chemistry between them was so great.  Dominic made me laugh so hard, in both books really, but he really became my favorite in this book.  His attitude and patience when he was with Lucy as well as his men was amazing.  Not many men would have his strength and character. The excerpt below includes one of my favorite parts in the book.  I do wonder if there will be any more to this story, as I would love to read it if there were.  I highly doubt it though, since they have no more brothers, but I would like to read more of Samantha Holt's work!  Enjoy!

Amazon:  Borderland Bride & Borderland Beauty | B&N:  Borderland Bride & Borderland Beauty
Goodreads:  Borderland Bride & Borderland Beauty | Smashwords:  Borderland Bride

Samantha lives in a small village in England with her gorgeous twin girls and husband who is a trained bodyguard and ex-soldier (Yes, seriously!). She traditionally writes historical romances involving chivalrous knights and hot highlanders, but occasionally dabbles in contemporary romance. When she reluctantly leaves her computer, she enjoys exploring old ruins and indulging an early midlife crisis. Adrenaline filled suggestions for the bucket list are always welcome!

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Borderland Bride
“Isabel, what in God’s name are you doing?”
“I am returning to my father,” she told him breathlessly.
“You would see yourself in that monster’s hands? Why?”
“I cannot see Thornewall suffer for my sakes. And I cannot see you or Dominic harmed. Not for me.”
“We are grown men; will you not let us make these decisions ourselves? Thornewall is strong, we have endured worse.”
Isabel shook her head. “Nay, I will not see war brought to your door. If my father fails here, then he will turn his attention to your lands. They have not the strength of Thornewall, you have said as much yourself.”
Jake squeezed her arm until he saw her wince. Damn his brutish manners. He could not let her throw herself into the arms of a murderer for their sakes. “I can defend my lands, lass. I’ve done it before and I’ll gladly do it again.”
But she was right, Greycroft was ill prepared for a full-scale war and his own castle would not hold out long against a siege. It was likely he would die defending it.
“That is what I fear,” she said softly and Jake wondered if he had spoken aloud.
Her voice took on a desperate quality and she pulled against his grip. “Let me go, Jake, for I cannot allow you to place yourself in danger for me. Not for a woman that hurt you so.”
He considered her and saw the fear in her eyes - a fear that was not for herself, but for him, his brother, and all their people. How he could ever have thought her as wicked as his wife, he knew not. There was nothing in this lass but kindness. He gulped, fighting the words he would have to say. There was no other way.
“Isabel, you do not have to return.”
“I do, Jake!” She struggled again.
“Listen…” He grabbed at her other arm and pinned her still. “Listen, there is another way. Marry…”
She ceased her struggles and stared at him.
“Marry Dominic.”
Isabel blinked at him. “What?” she whispered.
“Marry Dominic. Your father would be a fool to say nay to such an allegiance. He is one of the richest men in England. There will be no war and you will be safe.”
Safe. He clung to the word, trying to ignore the ache in his heart. It didn’t matter, as long as she was safe. In spite of himself, he urged her to say nay, to confess her love for him, but he knew it could come to nothing. He had nothing to offer Lord Henry in return for her hand.
Isabel gaped at him. “Marry Dominic? But…did he decide this?”
“Nay.” He sighed. “‘Twas my idea.”
She gulped and her eyes misted with tears as she took a deep breath. Her composure regained, she shook her head in disbelief. “Why would you suggest such an idea?”

Borderland Beauty
Running a finger over the leather spines, she studied the titles. Dominic went back to his ledger, the faint sound of his quill scratching against the parchment setting her senses on edge. Some were well worn and she pictured Dominic thumbing through them. How odd that she could never have imagined him as a man who enjoyed scholarly pursuits before, but now the image suited him perfectly. Now she knew him better.
“Tristan and Iseult…” she murmured. “I did not take you for a romantic soul.”
“You think it a romance? I think it a tragedy.”
Lucy stared at him. “A tragedy? Nay, dying for love must surely be the most romantic act of all.”
“And here I did not think you a romantic soul. But now I know the key to your heart.” Dominic regarded her with a twist of his lips. “I should die to secure it.”
“My-my heart?”
“I cannot deny I would wish to secure your body along with it, but I should very much like to capture your heart first.”
She gulped. Her heart? Could he hear it pounding with his every word? First he wanted her to believe that he lusted after her body -- a stretch of the imagination, aye, but mayhap he really did -- and now he expected her to believe he wanted her heart?
“You-you are mocking me?”
He sighed but his grin remained. “Do I look like I am jesting?”
Grabbing the book, she clutched it to her chest as she studied him, as if the book could offer some form of protection against his bold stare. Indeed, in spite of the twitch of his lips, his eyes remained deadly serious.
“Think you that I shall fall into your bed when you speak of my heart?”
Releasing a mocking laugh, Dominic threw down his quill. She jolted back as his chair screeched and he stood abruptly, but he didn’t approach. Instead he came around the desk and perched on it, his arms crossed across his chest.
“Nay, Lucy, I do not think you so simple as to come to my bed because of a few artless words. Indeed, I would prefer it you came to me without coercion or seduction. I would tear up our contract if I did not fear it would put an end to the scant hold I have over you.”
She quivered at his words. Why did Dominic having a ‘hold’ over her seem so appealing all of a sudden? Mayhap because she was weak and foolish. After all he had put her through, the self-doubt, the taunts…did they count for nothing?
Pulling her chin up, she affected a cool look. “I will be bound to no man.”
“‘Tis a shame, lass, for I am bound to you. The hold you have over me is surely far more than that of a marriage contract.”
Shaking her head, she drew back toward the door. “I thank you for the book,” she mumbled.
Leaping forward, Dominic strode over and snatched at her arm before she could escape. She sucked in a sharp breath as his fingers seared through her sleeve. “Is that all you have to say?”
“What more can I say? I remain here at my mother’s behest. I know not what your fascination is with me, for you have surely met more beautiful, more accomplished women, so I can only assume that it is the thrill of the chase that drives you. I’d wager many women succumb to your charms readily, but let me assure you, Lord Dominic, I am not one of them. I will not marry you. You would do better to forget this ridiculous contract and pursue another.”
Dominic cast his gaze over her, apparently considering her words. A sharp jolt of disappointment speared through her as he released his grip on her and stepped back.
Shaking his head, he chuckled unexpectedly. “You speak these words well, my lady, but your eyes betray you. I shall have you as my wife, Lucy Montgomery.”

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Giveaway and Review of The Purgatorium by Eva Pohler

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/388568?ref=Jamers8x2 Blurb
Seventeen year-old Daphne Janus is floored when her parents agree to let her accompany her best friend to a getaway resort on an island off the coast of California. She doesn't know her parents have sent her to the Purgatorium as a last-ditch effort to save their child.

Her best friend and life-long neighbor takes her to a mostly uninhabited island with a wildlife preserve on one side and Chumash Indian ruins on the “haunted” side. The resort might be beautiful, the beach pristine, and the views from the headland amazing, but strange things begin to happen that soon have Daphne running for her life. At first she finds the therapeutic games thrilling: the ghosts that visit her room, the dropping elevator, and the kayak incident are actually kind of fun once she recovers from them. But when her horse bucks her off during a trail ride and she becomes lost on the haunted side of the island, it’s not fun anymore, and she wonders if her parents have sent her there to help her or to punish her.

Amazon | Smashwords

OH WOW! This book is by far the best book I've read in years! This book was like a really good therapy session for me.  The end was just, OMG, I was bawling hysterically.  I wish this kind of place was REAL!  The weird stuff that happens, it can be confusing, but by the end you will understand why it was necessary.  The end, it's just amazing.  I can't praise this book enough.  I knew Eva was an awesome person before reading this book, and as you may know, I've read several of her books in addition to this one.  After reading this book though, I know I have to read everything she writes.  Even her lesser known titles.  If you haven't picked up a book by this awesome lady yet, you're seriously missing out.  Go buy this one ASAP.  If you have any kind of family dysfunction at all, you will be able to relate to Daphne, and may find this book as healing as I did.

Eva Pohler writes fiction and teaches writing and literature at The University of Texas at San Antonio, where she lives with her husband, three teens, and two dogs. She is the author of The Gatekeeper's Saga, The Purgatorium Series, and The Mystery Box.

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Before they reached the main level, the elevator jerked and stopped.
“What’s going on?” Daphne asked, as her brain fogged up with fear.
The lights blinked off. They were enveloped in darkness.
“You gotta be kiddin’ me,” Stan said.
“What’s happening?” She couldn’t think. Her hands flapped beside her like the wings of a jarred moth.
“It’s okay, Daphne,” he said in a soothing voice. “We’re going to be fine. I’m trying to find the emergency switch. Someone will get us outta here soon.”
Tears ran down her face and her stomach dropped out from under her. She felt like she might be sick. Then it occurred to her that this might be the exercise Cam had agreed to set up for Hortense Gray.
“This better not be an exercise. This isn’t one of their exercises, is it?” She felt along the wall of the elevator for the rail, and when she found it, she held on tight.
“What are you talking about?”
“You know, therapeutic games? Cam knows I’m scared of elevators. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on here. They’re making me face my fear. Well forget this! Do you hear me out there? I don’t like this one bit!” She hit her fist against the elevator wall.
“Calm down, Daphne.”
“I thought therapeutic games would be like relay races and rock climbing. Scaring the crap out of me is not why I came!”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m sorry, Stan. This isn’t your fault. Oh, God, oh my crap, I can’t breathe!” She felt helpless, out of control, at the mercy of this stupid elevator and the way it was closing in on her, stifling her oxygen, trapping her, not letting her out. “Let me out!”
“Come here.” He pulled her into his arms with a tight grip, forcing her to hold still. “Relax. It’s okay,” he said softly.
The lights flickered and then came on. The elevator dropped a few more feet to the bottom floor.
“Ahhh!” Daphne cried, catching against the wall.
The doors opened, and Daphne leapt out, trembling and angry and amazingly relieved. She avoided the eyes of the others in the foyer as she tried to regain control of her breathing and rushed from the building.
Stan caught up to her and put a hand on her shoulder just outside the main building. “You okay?”
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HCH2D86/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00HCH2D86&linkCode=as2&tag=yohameatfrbo-20She caught her breath and then said, “No.”
“Let’s head back to the rooms.” He slid a hand behind her back and nudged her down the sidewalk.
“So are they scaring the hell out of you, too?” she asked, after her breathing had returned to normal. “Any games as crazy as that?”
“What do you mean? What games?”
“Isn’t Dr. Gray putting you through therapeutic games?”
“I’m here studying the Chumash Indian ruins and archaeological sites for a paper I’m writing.”
Daphne stopped on the sidewalk near the pool, where the underwater lights had turned on, making the water glow in the dusk falling around them. “I don’t understand.”
Stan put an arm around her waist and pulled her onward. “If you ask me, Cam’s just teasing you.”
“No. Dr. Gray said so, too.”
“Therapeutic games? What does that even mean?”
Daphne shrugged. “I don’t intend to stay and find out.”
They reached her unit.
“You just got here and made my trip one hundred percent better. I hate to see you leave.”

I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because even grammar experts make mistakes!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Review of Undone by R. E. Hunter

Title: Undone (Disclosure Series Book #1)
Author: R.E. Hunter
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Expected Release Date: January 6, 2014

Five years ago, Embry Jacobs ran...

She ran from a past that still hasn’t let her go, but her dream of becoming a lawyer is stronger than her fear of confronting that past. Embry’s sole focus is to get through law school—with the help of her best friend, Morgan - and make something of the broken girl she became. Not thinking about falling in love, being in a relationship or even entertaining the idea of romance, Embry is moving forward one day at a time.

Luke Brody is charming and sexy, and has a past of his own. He wants nothing more than to put his demons to rest and move on with his life. But, when Embry enters the picture, is he destined to repeat those same mistakes?

Blindsided by their instant attraction, neither Luke nor Embry are prepared for the feelings they’re developing. But will it all be for nothing?

Will they let their pasts destroy them, or will they risk everything to fight for their relationship when it all comes undone?

OMG! I loved this book!  Hated the Cliffhanger though!  Ugh, I was so mad, but that's why it gets 5 Stars, the book was just so awesome, I didn't want it to stop there, I wanted to know what happened!  Then I look at when it was published...January?!  So I don't even know when the next one will be out, but I SO want to read it!  This book was hot, there was drama, tension, I lost count of how many times I laughed!  I even cackled at one point, that was unexpected...  I had to put it down at one point, but I didn't want to...I HAD to sleep!  It was like 2 am, and my sister was going to kill me if she woke up and saw the light from my Kindle...  Otherwise, I would've stayed up and read the whole thing, I picked it back up first thing the next morning.  This was just such a great book, it didn't make me cry, but I wanted too, and at one point I felt my heart beating like crazy.  I can't tell you why of course, you'll have to read it and find out!  I love that Jar of Hearts is on the playlist below, and check out the excerpt at the bottom for a scene that made me giggle.  I really hope I get to review the next one.  May have to break my rule of not actually buying books...can't have that. 

Amazon | Goodreads


R.E. Hunter is a native New Yorker and lives on Long Island with her husband and their monster kitty. She works as an attorney by day and writes whenever she can. As an avid reader and writer, she's excited to be on this crazy journey publishing her debut novel, Undone, this November. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her somewhere near a beach. She loves traveling, road trips, concerts, photography and good wine.

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Embry sat in the middle of Luke’s floor, surrounded by baking flour. It was everywhere.
He walked in, and she did everything she could to hide her smile when she saw the look on his face. He was sexy as usual with no shirt, pajama pants hanging off his hips, and bedroom eyes. Until he took in the scene in the kitchen. His beautiful bedroom eyes widened into surprised saucers as he stared at Embry.
“Problem?” she deadpanned.
Luke shook his head, seemingly at a loss for words.
“I was going to make you breakfast.” She picked up a handful of flour and let it sift through her hands like a child would sand on the beach.
“That was nice of you,” he said carefully. “What happened instead?”
Embry hung her head. “I had an incident with the flour.”
Luke walked toward her, leaving floury footprints on the dark, tiled floor. Squatting in front of her, he brushed her hair from her face. “I can see that, baby. But what, exactly, happened?”
Good question. She'd woken up determined to surprise him with a nice breakfast. After searching his well-stocked pantry and refrigerator, she found all the ingredients necessary for blueberry pancakes. She pulled everything out that she would need except the flour. His pantry had tall pull-out cabinets, and the flour sat at the top of one. She’d poked around until she located a step stool. She used it to reach the flour, but the stool didn’t give her enough height. Stretching as far as she could, her fingers grazed the tip of the package. She hoped she could knock it over into her arms, but the flour toppled into her chest before it fell to the floor and exploded.
"I was going to make you blueberry pancakes, but I knocked the flour down from the top shelf of the pantry, and it kind of exploded."
His eyes traveled around the kitchen. An inch of flour covered most of the surfaces, including Embry. He brought his eyes back to her and wiped at a smudge of flour on her cheek. "I kind of figured that part out."
She glared at him, grabbed his arms, and pulled, causing him to fall to the floor in a cloud of white powder.
He narrowed his eyes and tackled her, pinning her arms above her head and hovering over her. "Really, Bree? You sure you want to play this game? You'll lose."
Never one to back down from a challenge, Embry wiggled beneath him, trying to pull her arms free. "Bring it on, Brody," she said, her voice husky.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HP4L3S2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00HP4L3S2&linkCode=as2&tag=yohameatfrbo-20His mouth found hers, and he released her arms, giving her free rein to explore his body. She ran her hands over his muscled back, up his arms, and into his hair. Just as she was starting to enjoy herself, he pulled away. Before she knew it, he had pulled her back to her feet.
“All right,” he said, clapping and making flour fly. “Pancakes. Let’s do this.”
Embry stepped toward him, softening her eyes and sticking out her bottom lip in a perfect pout. “I’m not interested in pancakes anymore.”

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review of Out From Under by Selene Chardou and Giveaway!

"I have always been strong, independent and wanted a life that belonged to me. It's the very reason why I chose to attend Stanford because it is away from the small-town life that seems more Twin Peaks than charming. Secrets are a dangerous commodity and Pine Bluff has them in spades. So do my parents, and the dirtiest secret of all is my brother, Trey. Sergeant at Arms for the Demon's Bastards, a criminal, a felon, and perhaps the catalyst for the tragedy that destroyed my life just days before I was supposed to leave for college.

"Now I am on the run because my life is in danger and I could be next. I don't want to live my whole life looking over my shoulder and I don't want to live my life shrouded in despair. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E922XPU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00E922XPU&linkCode=as2&tag=yohameatfrbo-20Anxiety has me in a death grip, unable to let go. I pop Xanax to get through the day and were it not for my famous cousin, I would probably be dead already.

"My name is Trista Lennon, and I am tired of being afraid."

Linx Carter never thought he could help anyone when he could barely help himself. He is hanging on by a thread after a tough, six-month Gods of Rock Tour with his band, Winter's Regret, and Scarlet Fever. He has a greedy ex-wife, two sons and all he wants is to put the pieces of his life back together.

Linx knows there is something special about Trista from the moment they meet. She's wounded, in desperate need of a friend yet feminine, feisty and no one's charity case. She is the strongest woman he has ever known.

Through their friendship, they will find the strength to heal themselves and love one another but a feud between two gangs is brewing. Trista is caught in the crossfire, and by proxy, so is Linx. What they discover might not only cost them the love they have for one another but their lives too.

Due to mature subject matter, explicit language and adult situations, this novel is recommended for those over the age of 17.

Book Links
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I loved this book.  At first I was a little confused, cuz it starts out with two different people in different countries, with completely different people...but once I saw a common link, it made sense how they were going to get together.  I was a little disappointed by the "insta-love".  They started out as friends, but then it just seemed like they were together way too fast.  The love scenes were hot, don't get me wrong about that, just seemed to me that they went too far, too fast.  When you read it, you'll get what I mean.  Overall, it was a great read, just a few things that kept it from being a 5.  To tell you more details, I think it would spoil the story when you read it.  This author has another book to this series coming out, I believe it may actually be out already, and she has another series that takes on another band mentioned in this book.  I would really like to read those as well.

Selene Chardou is a world traveler and the alter-ego of Elle Chardou.
Ms. Chardou's writing is all about hot romance and exciting times with the wild, damaged, out of control and/or rich and famous set in the New Adult realm.
She is currently working on Rock My Heart, the first novel in the Scarlet Fever Series, which concludes the story of Kasper "Kaz" Gillian and Sydney Lundvik; she is also working on In Too Deep, the conclusion to The Lovers Duet. She also has a pop stars series planned and an MC series planned that chronicles the issues between Lucifer's Saints and Demon's Bastards motorcycle clubs.
Ms. Chardou has lived abroad in Stockholm (Sweden), Manchester (England), Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Portland. She currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Review of Thomas's Muse by Kris Austen Radcliffe


Four years ago, for a brief moment, Sammie Singleton became the muse of an artist she didn't know. The moment vanished, and now Sammie spends her nights with a different man.
Her life is black and white. But she needs food for her soul to feel alive.
She needs color. She needs art.
Everything changes the moment she meets Thomas Quidell. Brilliant and talented, Sammie quickly realizes Tom is her artist--and the man she's been fantasizing about all these years.
Tom offers her more than a lifeline. He opens her eyes to a new life. Vibrant, loving, fulfilling. But is she strong enough to take a chance?

This was a really sweet book, with some HOT moments.  SO funny too!  I love the author's sense of humor!  This book only took a few hours for me to read, but I totally recommend it.  I hope I get the chance to review for this author again!  Especially the next book, which is coming out soon, keep an eye out for it!

Book Links
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As a child, Kris took down a pack of hungry wolves with only a hardcover copy of "The Dragonriders of Pern" and a sharpened toothbrush. That fateful day set her on a path traversing many storytelling worlds--dabbles in film and comic books, time as a talent agent and a textbook photo coordinator, and a foray into nonfiction. After co-authoring "Mind Shapes: Understanding the Differences in Thinking and Communication", Kris returned to academia. But she craved narrative and a richly-textured world of Fates, Shifters, and Dragons--and unexpected, true love.
Kris lives in Minnesota with her husband, two daughters, Handsome Cat, and an entire menagerie of suburban wildlife bent on destroying her house. That battered-but-true copy of "Dragonriders"? She found it yesterday. It's time to pay a visit to the woodpeckers.

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QUIDELL BROTHERS: (Contemporary Erotic Romance)
Thomas's Muse
Daniel's Fire (coming soon)
The FATE ~ FIRE ~ SHIFTER ~ DRAGON series: (Urban Fantasy Romance)
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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Release Blitz for Undone by R. E. Hunter

Title: Undone (Disclosure Series Book #1)
Author: R.E. Hunter
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 6, 2014

Five years ago, Embry Jacobs ran...

She ran from a past that still hasn’t let her go, but her dream of becoming a lawyer is stronger than her fear of confronting that past. Embry’s sole focus is to get through law school—with the help of her best friend, Morgan—and make something of the broken girl she became. Not thinking about falling in love, being in a relationship or even entertaining the idea of romance, Embry is moving forward one day at a time.

Luke Brody is charming and sexy, and has a past of his own. He wants nothing more than to put his demons to rest and move on with his life. But, when Embry enters the picture, is he destined to repeat those same mistakes?

Blindsided by their instant attraction, neither Luke nor Embry are prepared for the feelings they’re developing. But will it all be for nothing?

Will they let their pasts destroy them, or will they risk everything to fight for their relationship when it all comes undone?

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R.E. Hunter is a native New Yorker and lives on Long Island with her husband and their monster kitty. She works as an attorney by day and writes whenever she can. As an avid reader and writer, she's excited to be on this crazy journey publishing her debut novel, Undone, this November. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her somewhere near a beach. She loves traveling, road trips, concerts, photography and good wine.

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“Wow,” Morgan said, following Embry’s line of sight. “Your man cleans up well.”
“Yeah, he does.”
The dean prattled on, but Embry’s eyes remained locked on Luke’s. She couldn’t look away. He was jaw-droppingly handsome, and he was all hers. A jab to her ribs caused her to stop and glare at Morgan.
“Just doing my job.” Morgan gave Embry a dazzlingly smile.
“What job is that?”
“Bree-sitting. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to keep you from mounting him in the middle of a school-sponsored event.”


This can’t be happening. That thought ran on a constant loop through her head as she sat in the cold, uninviting classroom, the smell of antiseptic invading her nostrils. A shiver crept up her spine, and she couldn’t tell if it was from the temperature or her nerves. Maybe both. She sat on a hard plastic chair, hands gripped in her lap, her foot tapping furiously against the linoleum. The anticipation was killing her. She studied the three people at the front of the room, their heads bent together as they whispered amongst themselves.
Her heart thumped in her chest, the dull thud echoing in her ears as she sat silently, waiting. Her head swam, and she struggled to keep herself afloat instead of drowning in the anxiety that threatened to pull her under. She strained forward, hoping to catch even a small piece of their hushed conversation, but all she could hear was the shallow murmur of their voices. She wanted to get it over with. Like a Band-Aid, it would hurt either way. Might as well make it quick. She’d had to pick up the pieces of her broken life and move on once before. But she couldn’t do it again, not after all of her hard work. She wouldn’t accept it, she couldn’t.
How did this happen? They’d been careful. Hadn’t they been careful? She swallowed the lump in her throat and tried in vain to think of something, anything else.
The older gentleman on the end cleared his throat, pulling her from her thoughts. “Miss Jacobs?”
She looked up at the members of the university’s disciplinary committee, taking them in one at a time. She straightened her back and lifted her chin, hoping the outward display of confidence would give her some semblance of the same feeling on the inside. That was shot to hell as soon as she opened her mouth. “Y-yes, sir?” she answered, her voice trembling.
“Do you know why you’re here?” the other man asked, his eyes kind.
“No, sir.” She shook her head, but she was pretty sure she had an idea.
“Let me tell you,” the older man interjected, opening the folder in front of him. He explained the purpose of the hearing and the university’s policies regarding disciplinary sanctions.
She sat back, rubbing her palms on her pants and trying to calm down. As she listened to his words, she was hit with a rush of emotion so strong it almost bowled her over. Good. Bad. Happy. Sad. Betrayal. Rage. Shock. Relief. Relief? She fought to keep focused on the seriousness of the situation before her as a litany of memories assaulted her consciousness.

Chapter One
Four months earlier.
“Look to your left … now look to your right. One of you won’t be here at the end of the year.”
Those same words were repeated year after year at law school orientations around the country. Embry Jacobs fought to keep her composure as the dean continued his sad attempt to scare her out of the next three years at Whitman Law School. The old theater seats made her itch, and her long, blond hair stuck to the back of her neck, making her antsy.
She leaned over to whisper to her best friend, “Seriously? I thought they stopped giving this speech years ago. Did the dean take this straight from The Paper Chase?”
Morgan chuckled and elbowed Embry’s ribs. “Shhh, this is very important stuff, Bree.”
Embry had read the books and watched the movies. She knew all about the scare tactics used on first-year law students. As cliché as the dean’s speech was, a good number of the students in that auditorium wouldn’t make it through the first semester, let alone all three years.
Failing out wasn’t an option for her. Embry had one chance, and she had to make it count. All she’d ever wanted was to be a lawyer, and the only thing standing in her way was the next three years of school. Already in debt from her undergraduate degree, she was relying on a scholarship to get her through law school. If she didn’t keep her grades high enough to maintain the scholarship, she’d be forced to take out more loans. At least once she graduated, she’d be able to make enough money to pay them off. Embry was startled from her thoughts by a hard poke to her arm.
“Bree, you coming?”
Embry looked up to see Morgan waiting for her. Morgan Maxwell had been her best friend for as long as she could remember. She’d been through everything with Embry, and even though they’d lived far apart for the past five years, their friendship had never suffered. When Embry left home after high school without any warning or explanation, Morgan was the only person who knew why. The real reason. Even though Embry’s leaving put a strain on Morgan’s relationship with her own parents, she stuck by Embry’s side, always supportive and never questioning. When they started applying to law schools at the same time, Morgan convinced Embry to finally come home so they could experience it together. Embry had never believed they would be so lucky to get accepted to Whitman together, so when she got her admission letter, she planned her move immediately.
Morgan’s voice broke through her thoughts again. “Earth to Embry! Did you hear a word I just said?”
“What? No, sorry,” she answered.
“Where were you just now?” Morgan asked, tilting her head and shooting Embry a curious glance.
“I was just thinking about being back home,” she said, shrugging.
Morgan bounced up and down. “Oh my God, I know! Can you believe we’re really doing this? Morgan and Bree back together again! And in law school!” She grabbed Embry’s arm and pulled her up out of the seat. “Come on, I wanna catch the next campus tour.”
Embry gave Morgan a big smile, trying to match her enthusiasm. “Okay, okay, let’s go.”
The girls exited the auditorium into the bright summer sun. Embry rummaged around in her purse for her sunglasses, and her fingers brushed the hard edge of an envelope. She dragged Morgan to a stop.
“Hey, I totally forgot I have to run to student services.” She pulled the envelope from her purse. “Something to do with my tuition. You okay to do the tour yourself?”
Morgan huffed sarcastically then gave Embry a bright smile. “I’ll be fine. You know I make friends wherever I go!”
Embry chuckled. “Okay, I’ll catch you later.”
She made her way to the law school’s building and walked through the rear door. She hadn’t been through that entrance yet and found herself disoriented as she navigated the long, empty hallways. She turned a corner and stopped to take in her surroundings. She realized she had been walking in a circle about the same time something crashed into her, spinning her around. Before she could get her bearings, she felt a large, warm hand on her arm.
“Sorry about that.”
Embry looked up at the owner of the deep, raspy voice and into a pair of the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. He was beautiful—dark, perfectly mussed hair, straight nose, square, chiseled jaw, full lips—and she could have lost herself in those eyes for days. “I–um…” Struck speechless by his good looks and the warmth of his touch, she nodded and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
“Are you okay?” he asked, his brow furrowed.
“Yeah. Yes, I’m fine,” she forced out, nodding again. Stop nodding, Embry!
“You sure?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m good, thanks.”
He quirked his head to the side, studying her. His face twisted into something just short of … pain? He looked perplexed and frustrated. Embry watched him shake his head slightly, as if trying to clear the emotions playing across his face. He slowly dragged his thumb across her skin before he removed his hand from her arm, leaving a trail of goose bumps in its wake.
“Sorry again,” he said with a sheepish grin, and just like that he was gone. He turned and walked away as though they hadn’t just collided and had the most intense moment.
Their entire exchange couldn’t have lasted more than a minute, but Embry felt it in every fiber of her being. Shaken by her run-in with the mysterious stranger, she retraced her steps until she found the atrium. The large, open room was filled with sunlight streaming in from the sky-lit ceiling. Tables and chairs, filled with new students laughing and talking, were scattered around the big space. The walls were covered with pictures of Supreme Court justices and esteemed faculty members, and at the end was the student services office. She made her way into the office, and as she waited for her advisor, she couldn’t help but think about those bright blue eyes.


“I’m sorry to take you away from your orientation activities,” her student affairs advisor said as she flipped through a folder full of papers.
Embry sat with her hands in her lap, glancing around the office as she waited.
“But I’m glad you’re here. There was a problem regarding your tuition that I wanted to resolve as soon as possible.”
Embry had dealt with that multiple times in college. Loans and scholarships were paid out late all the time. “Was my scholarship not disbursed yet?”
The woman paused her paper shuffling and glanced at Embry before shifting her attention back to the pile. “No, no, your scholarship came through,” she answered. “Ah, here it is.” She pulled a piece of paper out of the pile and handed it to Embry. “It appears that maybe you were misinformed about the amount that the scholarship would cover.”
Embry stared at the paper and felt as if the ground had been swept out from beneath her. She was free-falling, and panic took over as she looked at the amount of the scholarship. It was ten thousand dollars short for the year.
“But, I–” Embry tried and failed to get out the words. She looked down again, hoping maybe she had read the numbers wrong. No, her scholarship didn’t cover her full tuition. How could she have missed that? She was positive that the award letter said her tuition was completely covered. She handed the paper back to her advisor, hands shaking. As she looked into the woman’s eyes, the pity she saw made Embry feel that much worse.
“I can see that this is a shock to you.” Her advisor reached for another stack of papers and handed it to Embry. “I’ve compiled the financial aid application, if you’re interested. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to disburse funds in time to cover the remaining tuition bill, but at least, if awarded, the aid check will reimburse you.”
Embry nodded numbly.
“The good news is, for students who weren’t awarded full scholarships at the outset, Whitman offers merit-based scholarships during the second and third years to those who maintain academic excellence.” The woman smiled, her voice rising an octave as if that would somehow make it easier on Embry. “So just keep up those grades, and you never know!”
Great. No pressure. Embry knew she would be sick if she didn’t get out of that office. Thanking her advisor, she tucked the financial aid packet in her purse and hurried out.
Embry walked through the crowded atrium, her head spinning. She crunched the numbers again and again but came up with the same answer. Ten thousand dollars to cover tuition for the year. She had that in savings, plus a bit more, but that was supposed to go to her rent. And what about money for groceries, bills? She would be forced to shell out all of the money up front, and financial aid was never a guarantee. She took her pity party to one of the empty tables and sat down to look through the packet her advisor had given her.
A large iced coffee was placed in front of her as Morgan sat down beside her. “Looked like you could use this. I saw you pouting from across the atrium.”
Pouting was a mild term compared to the major meltdown going on in Embry’s head. “Thanks, M.”
“That’s what best friends are for. Now tell me what’s wrong.”
Embry filled her in on the meeting with her advisor. She skated over the finer details, like the fact that she wouldn’t have money for rent. Morgan’s family owned Embry’s apartment, and the last thing she wanted was their charity.
But Morgan, being Morgan, picked up on it right away. “What aren’t you telling me? You have money saved to cover the tuition, right?”
“I have money saved...” Embry trailed off.
“But it was for your rent,” Morgan said, putting the pieces together.
Embry nodded, humiliated.
“Embry, my parents don’t need the money. The only reason you’re paying rent is because you insisted.”
“I know, but I just don’t feel right doing it any other way.”
“What about your parents? Can they help?”
The thought had crossed Embry’s mind, but she’d dismissed it as quickly as it came. “I can’t ask them. Not after leaving like I did, with no explanation. I know they love me and I’m sure they’d help if they could, but I just don’t feel right asking. I’ll look around town to see if I can pick up a bartending job somewhere. Besides”—she held up the papers—“there’s always financial aid.”
“Stubborn,” Morgan scolded.
“Spoiled,” she shot back with a grin.
The girls talked until it was time to head to their classes. They hadn’t been able to talk their way into the same section, so they had completely different schedules.
“Criminal law?” Embry asked Morgan as they walked out of the atrium.
Morgan nodded. “Professor Charles.”
“Gasp! I heard he’s a nightmare. Good luck. I’ve got contracts with Coleman.”
Morgan shrugged. “I’m pretty sure she learned the art of torturing first years from Charles himself.”
“Sounds like we’re both in for some fun then!” Embry said with fake enthusiasm. She turned down the hallway leading away from Morgan.
“Good luuuuuck,” her friend called.


Embry walked into the classroom and stood in the back, getting her bearings. Rows of stadium seating lay before her, and she watched students mill around. She wandered down the stairs and chose a seat toward the middle of the classroom. As she pulled out her computer, someone slid into the seat next to her.
“This seat taken?”
Embry looked up into a handsome face and a pair of chestnut-colored eyes. They had nothing on the sexy guy from the hallway, but he definitely wasn’t lacking in the looks department. What has gotten into you, Embry? It had been a while but not that long. She hadn’t been in a relationship in five years, not since him, but that hadn’t stopped her from having fun. Law school was different, though. She didn’t want any distractions: no guys, no sex, no drama. At the rate hot guys were popping up, though, she’d fail out by the end of the week.
“Nope, all yours,” she answered, busying herself with her computer.
“Cool, thanks. I’m Jeremy.” He gave her a half wave.
“So what’s your story, Blondie?” he asked, reaching out to twirl a piece of her golden hair between his fingers.
“What?” Her head snapped up and she tugged her hair out of his grasp.
“You know, your story. Where are you from, what did you go to school for... the usual.”
She pointed at herself. “Embry. Not Blondie.”
He raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, sorry. I like nicknames. You’re a little uptight, aren’t you?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, losing her cool.
“I could help you loosen up a bit, you know.” He winked.
Winked! The guy was hot—she had to admit that—but was he serious? “Are you serious?”
“Only if you say yes.”
She had no words. She rolled her eyes and went back to her computer.
He didn’t leave her alone for long. “I got your mind off your first-day jitters though, didn’t I?”
All she could do was stare at him. Who is this guy?
“I did, didn’t I?” He nudged her arm.
She finally let her guard down and laughed. “Yes, yes, you did, okay? Happy?”
“Not until you go out with me.”
“Not happening.”
“Really,” she deadpanned.
“You sure?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Friends?” he said.
She glared at him.
He tilted his head, widened his eyes, and pouted, giving her what she was sure was his best puppy-dog face. “Come on, we got the sex out of the way. Now we can keep it strictly platonic.”
Her eyes nearly popped out of her head. “Sex? What sex? There will be no sex!” A few curious gazes settled on Embry. She said that louder than she meant to. She should have been aggravated, but for some reason, Jeremy was making her laugh. And he was right; her first-day jitters were history.
“It’s out of the way. I hit on you, you friend-zoned me, so we’re all good. It’s platonic now.”
“Okaaay,” she said reluctantly.
“That is, until you realize how ridiculously attractive I am and regret your decision. I can’t promise I’ll wait for you, though.”
She rolled her eyes again. “You’re unbelievable.”
“Believe it, baby.”
“Embry,” she stated, pointing toward her chest again.
“Just Embry.”
“We’ll work on it, Blondie.” He winked again.
He was infuriating, but she couldn’t fight the smile tipping her lips. “Friends,” she agreed. And that was that.
“So, you hear anything about Professor Coleman?” he asked.
“Nothing good.”
He nodded as he tapped his pen on the desk. “You know, after that Oscar-worthy performance by the dean, I’m starting to think this is all just a big setup to make us go running for the hills.”
“Yeah, I thought he was laying it on a bit thick,” she said, searching her bag for her textbook.
“I’m pretty sure it’s all a big act. It can’t be that bad,” Jeremy said.
“Let’s hope….” Embry’s sentence trailed off as the room went silent.
Students craned their necks toward the door to catch a glimpse of the professor. After the rumors she’d heard, Embry expected someone a bit more intimidating. Instead, Professor Coleman was a petite woman, about mid-forties, with librarian glasses, shoulder-length brown hair, and a stylish skirt suit. She glided up to the podium, put down a stack of papers, and headed to the whiteboard.
“I’m Professor Coleman.” The dry erase marker squeaked across the board. “I’ll be your contracts professor. This is my contact information. My door is always open during office hours, so feel free to stop in. We’re going to go over the syllabus and class objectives today. Then I’ll tell you a bit about myself and send you on your way, so you can all let out that breath you’ve been holding.”
The entire class breathed an audible sigh of relief as they realized Professor Coleman was not going to torture them on their first day.
At the end of class, Embry packed up and felt Jeremy’s eyes on her.
“So really, where are you from? What did you study?” he asked.
“Oh. Um, well, I’m from here. I did my undergrad at the University of Florida. Studied political science. What about you?”
He smiled as he gathered his things. “I’m from Rochester. My dad owns a law firm back home and one in the city. I’m going into the family business, so law school was the next logical step. I went to Syracuse.”
Before Embry could ask Jeremy about his father’s firm, Professor Coleman gave a late announcement. “Oh, before I forget. I’m looking for a research assistant for the year. If any of you are interested, come and see me.”
Embry’s ears perked up. The research assistant position would be the perfect solution to her problem. She could make the money she needed and still focus on law. All she had to do was impress the professor. “I’m going to go check that out.”
Jeremy raised an eyebrow. “Apply at your own risk. I hear she can be pretty tough.”
“Thanks for the warning.” She waved good-bye and made her way to the front of the room.


Embry walked out of the classroom in a far better mood than when she had entered it. Professor Coleman seemed nice, and Embry had a good feeling about her chances of getting the position. She was actually excited for the semester to officially start. She fished her phone out of her purse to text Morgan, and when she glanced up, she froze.
Walking toward her was the sexy stranger. He was farther away, and she had time to take in his beauty. He was tall, well over six feet, and wore a tight gray V-neck shirt and faded jeans. His dark hair set off those blue eyes, framed by long lashes. Gorgeous. He was carrying a box, and it must have been heavy because his muscles strained against his T-shirt and Embry couldn’t look away. When she finally dragged her eyes from his biceps, she found his baby blues searching hers. He held her gaze as he walked toward her, causing her cheeks to flush under the intensity of his stare. As he drew nearer, she noticed his lips twisting into an amused smirk.
“We have to stop meeting like this,” he joked, stopping in front of her.
She was momentarily stunned but recovered quickly. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were following me.”

“Maybe I am,” he said, and then he smiled. Not a polite smile shared with a stranger, but a real smile.
A gorgeous smile. An all-out, eyes-crinkling, dimples-popping, panty-dropping smile.
Something stirred inside of Embry. Her knees loosened, heat crept up her neck, and a swarm of butterflies took up residence in her stomach. Before she had time to acknowledge her reaction, he turned and walked away again. Sauntered, really. As she studied his backside, she realized she was in big trouble.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review of Charred Heart by Lizzy Ford

A modern day retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”
***Recommended for ages 18+***
(Due to multiple, detailed, steamy, sexy-time adult situations.)
For a thousand years, Chace has searched for a way to break the curse placed on him by a jilted lover. He’s a dragon shifter, one who can’t control when the magic will force him into a different form. He’s already lost everyone he ever cared about a few times over and doesn’t know how much longer he’s meant to suffer.
At his wit’s end, he makes a deal with a mysterious figure that offers him what he wants most – an end to his misery – in exchange for everything that’s his: His life, his power. His heart.
The next day, he meets Skylar, a modern day dragon slayer whose mission is to cage him – or kill him. Sexy, witty and brave, she is the yin to his yang, the woman destined to break the curse, balance his magic and make his broken heart whole.
Except it’s too late. Not only has he sealed his fate, but an innocent one-night-stand with Skylar has dragged her into the middle of a deal with the devil, one she won’t escape, if he can’t convince her that dragon shifters aren’t her enemies.

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I loved this book, Sky's personality and the chemistry she had with Chace was awesome, and sometimes hilarious.  Sex scenes were HOT!  I have Lizzy as a friend on FB, I knew she was an awesome person, but now I know she's an awesome writer too.  I love how she said shifting was painful!  (As seen in the Excerpt below)  I was like FINALLY!  I've always thought it should be, but every other author wrote or implied that it was just magically painless.  Like growing to twice your size with a completely different bone structure would be easy and pain free?!  I’m only giving it a 4 because while I loved it, it felt like something may have been missing, plus some of the visuals could've been better described.  I can’t wait til the next book!

Lizzy Ford is the author of over twenty books written for young adult and adult paranormal romance readers, to include the internationally bestselling “Rhyn Trilogy,” “Witchling Series” and the “War of Gods” series. Considered a freak of nature by her peers for the ability to write and release a commercial quality novel in under a month, Lizzy has focused on keeping her readers happy by producing brilliant, gritty romances that remind people why true love is a trial worth enduring.
Lizzy’s books can be found on every major ereader library, to include: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Sony and Smashwords. She lives in southern Arizona with her husband, three dogs and a cat.

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Chapter One

Chace glanced up from the glass of amber beer as his closest friend, Gunner, approached their usual table in the corner of the bar. Unlike Chace, who was a dragon shifter, Gunner was able to transform into a panther the size of a car. He had dark hair and almond-shaped, brown eyes, a muscular frame, a gait worthy of a cat and two pints in his hands. He sat and placed one glass down beside Chace’s untouched drink.
“You ate your pizza, which means you can’t be too sick to drink your beer,” Gunner observed.
“There’s no excuse for wasting good pizza,” Chace replied. “Just not thirsty.”
“You really did it, didn’t you?” Gunner guessed.
“Yeah,” Chace replied. “I talked to him.”
Chace’s eyes swept around the shifters’ bar, the only safe haven for a dying race of supernatural creatures that were being hunted and killed off. The tables, chairs and flooring were all mahogany, worn but polished and clean, the ceiling and lattice work on the pillars resembling those of an English pub rather than a typical biker bar. The walls were decorated with autographed classic rock posters, and shadowboxes with guitars, drumsticks and other rock curios perched above the row of plush booths along one wall.
The bar fed off his magic and was full this evening, though its patrons were tense. Their talk consisted of worried murmurs and the occasional cursing.
“He’ll give me what I want,” Chace replied. “Doesn’t seem to be any strings attached. Just wants me and everything I own, which is basically just my bike at this point.”
Gunner sat down, frowning. “Why Chace?”
Because I’m tired of watching people I care about die around me. Chace debated what to tell his friend, who had been with him the longest of anyone still living.
“You remember Steven?” he asked.
“Yeah. He built your chopper, right?”
“Yep. I used to take it to him for maintenance every year for forty years, and he checked up with me monthly to make sure it was working well. He built it by hand,” Chace mused. “He loved that thing like it was his own.”
“Used to. I can guess where this is going,” Gunner said. “He passed?”
“Last week. I got an email from his son. He left me spare parts in his will.” Chace chuckled. “Think he liked the bike more than me, but he was …”
“… the last human friend who hadn’t died. I get it.”
They both fell quiet. Sometimes, Chace wondered where the years went, because they seemed to jumble up and fly by in a blink. And sometimes, he wasn’t certain he’d make it through the end of a week, especially when someone like Steven died and made him question everything in his life all over again. He’d outlived every friend he’d ever had, up until he chose only to associate with other shifters. Every time he let himself fall for a girl or made a friend, he convinced himself that this time, it would work out. The curse would lift, and he wouldn’t be left alone again.
It never works out that way.
“A thousand years, Gun,” he murmured. “I’ve been alive a thousand years. Steven was eighty, and he left me spare parts, because he knew I wasn’t going to die anytime soon.”
“Oh, hell. Here we go again,” Gunner joked. “It’s the nature of who we are, man.”
“It’s the nature of who you are,” Chace corrected him. “I was made a shifter. You all were born shifters.”
“Doesn’t matter, does it? We’re all the same now.”
“Except you can die in a fight with another shifter. Me? No such luck,” Chace replied. “You expect to be immortal. I can’t figure out why I’m not dead.”
Gunner snorted in response.
“You know what I was doing when I turned eighty?”
“Sleeping your way across Finland?”
“Yes, but there’s more.” Chace grinned. “I was going to the funeral of my mother, who lived to almost a hundred. You ever see a Viking funeral?”
“On TV.”
“They’re spectacular.” Chace allowed himself to think of the memory he didn’t like recalling. He could almost smell the scent of burning wood as his mother’s body was set afloat on a fiery Viking ship into the sea. The evening had been cold and clear, the sunset smearing brilliant pinks, oranges and purples across one end of the sky while the other end was deep blue and scattered with blinking stars.
He’d gone incognito, disguised as a distant cousin, for no one but his mother knew his secret at that point that he was immortal. Even she didn’t know why the curse was placed on him. It was a secret he hadn’t told anyone. Ever. He’d been a stupid, hotheaded fool when he was a kid.
“I want to be human again. I want my heart back. Anyway.” He shook his head. “I went to see Mr. Nothing this morning, and he made me a smokin’ deal. He’ll lift the curse in exchange for everything that is mine.”
“So … what is that exactly? Did you ask?”
Chace shrugged. “Don’t care. The moment before he makes me mortal, I’m going to move my cabin one last time and just live out the rest of my years in peace. Beside, I only have my magic and my bike.”
“When I met you, you were this hot-headed, cocky bastard.” Gunner leaned forward, his face taut with concern. “You mellowed out over the years a bunch. But this decision sounds like it was made by the young dragon shifter who didn’t stop to think before lighting things on fire.”
Chace said nothing. A small part of him agreed, but he’d been more disturbed by Steven’s death than he cared to let on. Long ago he tried to close off his emotions to the world. Maybe it was monthly chats and ritual trips to visit Steven that let the tiny man with a huge smile work his way under his skin. After a thousand years, Chace should be completely numb, able to rationalize death as a stage in the natural way of the world the way Gunner did.
But he couldn’t, and he’d tried for years to philosophize his way into accepting death. “I made the deal anyway,” Chace said. “He’s going to send a messenger tonight or tomorrow with one of his cards to let me know where to meet him for the final spell.”
“You know we don’t know anything about Mr. Nothing.”
“We know he’s older than even me, and that he’s got the magic to do this. The deal is straightforward. Worst case scenario, he kills me.” Chace shrugged.
“I don’t like it.”
“I don’t either. What other choice do I have of ever having this curse lifted? The woman who placed it on me – she’s been dead for over nine hundred years, Gunner!”
“I know.”
“At some point, I’ll outlive you and the rest of the guys we run with. No, Gunner, I’m done. What she did to me can’t be undone any other way, and I’ve looked for a way to end the curse my entire life,” Chace said firmly. “I turned a thousand last week, and that’s when Steven died. It’s a sign.”
“I hear ya.” Gunner’s voice was soft. “I don’t blame you, Chace. I just don’t trust Mr. Nothing.”
Mr. Nothing had gotten his nickname because no one could find out anything about him. No one knew where he lived and yet, he was easy to find whenever Chace had wanted to talk to the elusive creature that had been around since he was made a shifter.
Easy to find. Not easy to get answers out of. Chace had nearly gone mad the first few years of the curse trying to get the shadowy figure that only appeared at night to tell him something about his newfound immortality or his magic.
To this day, Chace had no idea what Mr. Nothing was, aside from a shifter of some kind with great power. He suspected Mr. Nothing was a dragon, though he’d long since given up trying to get answers out of someone who didn’t seem interested in anyone else.
Gunner waved to someone who had just entered, and Chace looked up to see the third member of their four-man gang. A phoenix shifter with a like-minded affinity for fire, Luke was blond like Chace, though his hair was short and his eyes dark, whereas Chace had blue eyes and kept his dark blond hair long in the way of his Viking people.
“Don’t tell the others,” Chace said to Gunner. “I’ll let them know when everything is final.”
“All right.” Gunner didn’t appear to be happy about keeping secrets from the other two members of their tight-knit crew.
“Thanks. I’m gonna go get changed.”
“I’ll put on some tunes. I think the shifters need something to cheer them up.”
Chace rose. He agreed silently and took in the faces of those around him once more, trying to distance himself from his concern. As much as he tried to deny it, he knew they were his people, even if he’d started off as a human. They had nowhere else to go, and no one else to turn to. The shifter creed was simple: to live their lives quietly without harming anyone or bringing attention to their society. It was how they remained hidden, a secret subculture that the humans had no need to know about.
Yet someone had found out, and the shifter ranks had thinned considerably the past twenty years. Once numbering in the thousands, the several dozen men and women seeking refuge in his bar were all that remained.
Chace left out of the back door of the bar and stepped into the warm air of early evening. The distant drone of traffic on I-10 reaching him across the flat desert terrain.
He didn’t want to feel worry or fear for the shifter family that adopted him when he had no one else, but he did. On one hand, the timing for him to decide to strike a deal with Mr. Nothing felt wrong, because he wouldn’t be around to help the others, if they needed it. He’d airlifted a few other shifters out of their homes when they’d been too afraid to leave. Their fear struck him hard, even when he tried to remain numb to the world.
You care too much to abandon them, Gunner had told him once.
And he did. The brash, selfish, cocky young man who was cursed for being a fool had turned thoughtful over the years, compassionate and observant of his world. Even if he tried to keep everyone at a distance.
Chace focused on the small cabin that materialized out of thin air. Another creation of his magic, he had managed to take his home with him wherever he went over the years, the only real solace he had. It was the cabin where he’d been born and where his mother had lived up until her death. Only after returning to it after her funeral had he realized that his magic would let him take it with him.
There were days when he thought it was more alive than not with a mind of its own. Its magic and his were intertwined but not the same. It reacted to his emotions and commands, and yet, it had its own life as well, which had baffled him for many years until he finally just accepted it.
He walked in. The cabin had looked the same for many years. It had a simple floor plan consisting of a great room where everything was and a small bathroom he’d added a hundred years before. The great room held a king-sized bed with a wood stove, living room area, small office space and a storage corner where he kept what precious items he had.
Chace changed out of the dusty clothes he’d worn on his daily ride and into a fresh t-shirt and jeans, though he replaced his motorcycle jacket in case he had the urge for a midnight ride, like he did sometimes. Crossing to the storage corner, he paused.
“Would you stop rearranging my boxes?” he growled at the cabin.
It didn’t reply. It never did, but the boxes returned to the order where he preferred them of their own accord. The tiny disturbance reminded him of how independent the magic of his cabin was, when it chose to be. It was like his magic, which obeyed him most of the time and then sometimes, responded too readily to his emotions and forced him to shift when he otherwise wouldn’t.
“It’s like living with a passive-aggressive woman,” he said, amused. “You listening?”
The boxes suddenly flew off their shelves and tumbled to the floor at his feet.
“A thousand years old and less mature than me,” he teased it. “Clean that up, please.”
He turned away, knowing the magic would obey, but probably not until after he left. He didn’t understand why his cabin was possessed or the link between it and his own independent magic.
After a thousand years, he no longer cared. In a few days, none of it would matter anyway.
He left the cabin, gaze going to the sky once more. A familiar yearning filled him, the call of the heavens clear in his thoughts. He found peace in the sky and in flying around.
Deciding he had time for a quick flight, he peeled off his clothing and tossed them on the porch. The transformation from human to dragon was brutal on his body – and irreparable on the clothing.
Pain roared through him, hot enough to rob him of breath. His flesh tore and his muscles were ripped from the bones. His bones then snapped and changed, forming the skeleton of his new shape, before sewing themselves back together. Tissue, muscle and skin adjusted and rearranged atop the new skeleton. The first time he shifted, he thought he was dying. A thousand years later, he could control the pain with ease, even if he hated the bursts of agony and the twisting of his bones, skin, and insides that occurred when he changed shapes.
The process lasted mere seconds, and he unfolded his long wings on either side of his body. The translucent wings glittered dark teal in the moonlight, the same color as his thick scales and the fur edging them.
His senses were far more sensitive in his dragon form, and he breathed deeply and sneezed fire. The stream of yellow barely missed the bar. The scents from within were overpowering, and he shook his head then leapt effortlessly towards the sky. His wings caught him easily and propelled him upward.
He imagined the distance between him and the stars growing shorter as he soared upward, and he beat his wings hard, wondering if tonight was the night he got close enough to capture one.
Amused by his thoughts, he dipped his wings, caught an air current, and began playing, alternately floating in place and weaving in and out of the current, always intrigued by the challenge of how it tugged or pushed at his wings. He dove, wheeled and slammed on the brakes in midair, plummeting towards the earth only to unfurl the long wings and catch himself a couple feet from the ground.
Chace loved the sensation of the air ruffling his fur and tickling him, the cool air of evening filling his lungs. He loved the freedom of being a dragon most, the ability to take to the heavens whenever he felt the urge. He found peace in the skies, looking down at the miniaturized buildings,  Book Two is Now Available!vehicles and cars. It gave him perspective, reminded him that his biggest concerns always looked tiny from far above. Content with his short flight, he circled the bar lazily, slowly descending from the sky. The choice he’d made and the deal he’d bartered for with Mr. Nothing was done. The mysterious Mr. Nothing gave him time to think it over once last time, but Chace already knew his decision.
He was tired of seeing everyone he cared about die. He wanted to be human again, and nothing anyone said was going to convince him otherwise.

Book Two is Available Now!