Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday's Montage Showcase: The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2014 Edition

No matter your expectations, the dark is full of the unknown: grim futures, distorted pasts, invasions of the uncanny, paranormal fancies, weird dreams, unnerving nightmares, baffling enigmas, revelatory excursions, desperate adventures, spectral journeys, mundane terrors, and supernatural visions. You may stumble into obsession - or find redemption. Often disturbing, occasionally delightful, let The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror be your annual guide through the mysteries and wonders of dark fiction.

Wheatfield with Crows by Steve Rasnic Tem 
Blue Amber by David J. Schow 
The Legend of Troop 13 by Kit Reed 
The Good Husband by Nathan Ballingrud 
The Soul in the Bell Jar by KJ Kabza 
The Creature Recants by Dale Bailey 
Termination Dust by Laird Barron 
Postcards from Abroad by Peter Atkins 
Phosphorus by Veronica Schanoes 
A Lunar Labyrinth by Neil Gaiman 
The Prayer of Ninety Cats by Caitlín R. Kiernan 
Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson 
The Plague by Ken Liu 
The Gruesome Affair of the Electric Blue Lightning by Joe R. Lansdale 
Let My Smile Be Your Umbrella by Brian Hodge 
Air, Water, and the Grove by Kaaron Warren 
A Little of the Night by Tanith Lee 
A Collapse of Horses by Brian Evenson 
Pride: A Collector’s Tale by Glen Hirshberg 
Our Lady of Ruins by Sarah Singleton
The Marginals by Steve Duffy 
Dark Gardens by Greg Kurzawa 
Rag and Bone by Priya Sharma 
The Slipway Gray by Helen Marshall 
To Die for Moonlight by Sarah Monette 
Cuckoo by Angela Slatter 
Fishwife by Carrie Vaughn 
The Dream Detective by Lisa Tuttle 
Event Horizon by Sunny Moraine 
Moonstruck by Karin Tidbeck 
The Ghost Makers by Elizabeth Bear 
Iseul’s Lexicon by Yoon Ha Lee

Author Bios:
Steve Rasnic Tem is a past winner of the Bram Stoker, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy awards. His two books from 2012 were the novel Deadfall Hotel and the noir collection Ugly Behavior (New Pulp Press). Three Tem collections: Onion Songs (Chomu), Celestial Inventories (ChiZine), and Twember (NewCon Press) were released in 2013. Southern gothic Blood Kin (Solaris) is his latest novel.  Goodreads

David J. Schow is a multimedia writer whose work includes the script for the dark cult classic, The Crow, and episodes for television series Masters of Horror. The author of nine novels, his acclaimed short stories are featured in dozens of anthologies and collected in seven volumes. He is also the author of an award-winning book of essays on modern media, Wild Hairs and The Outer Limits Companion (on the classic TV series). Schow recently updated the latter with a new fiftieth anniversary source for all things Outer Limits: The Outer Limits at 50. He lives in Los Angeles, California.  Goodreads

Kit Reed’s most recent collection The Story Until Now (The Wesleyan University Press), was published in 2013; Severn House published her latest novel, Son of Destruction, in the UK in 2012 and US in 2013. Her 2011 collection, What Wolves Know, was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. Her many other novels include Enclave, The Baby Merchant, and Thinner Than Thou, a winner of the ALA. Alex Award. A Guggenheim fellow, Reed is the first American recipient of an international literary grant from the Abraham Woursell Foundation. Her stories appear in venues including The Yale Review, Asimov’s, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Omni, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Literature, and The Kenyon Review. Her books Weird Women, Wired Women and Little Sisters of the Apocalypse were finalists for the Tiptree Prize. A member of the board of the Authors League Fund, she serves as Resident Writer at Wesleyan University.  Goodreads

Nathan Ballingrud is the author of North American Lake Monsters, from Small Beer Press. Several of his stories have been reprinted in “year’s best” anthologies, and his story “The Monsters of Heaven” won a Shirley Jackson Award. He’s worked as a bartender in New Orleans, a cook on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and a waiter in a fancy restaurant. Currently he lives in Asheville, NC, with his daughter, where he’s at work on his first novel. Blog  /  Goodreads

KJ Kabza has sold over fifty stories to venues such as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, Buzzy Mag, Flash Fiction Online, and many more. He’s been anthologized in The Best Horror of the Year, The Best of Every Day Fiction, and The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. For updates on and free fiction, follow him on Twitter  /  Website  /  Goodreads

Dale Bailey lives in North Carolina with his family, and has published three novels, The Fallen, House of Bones, and Sleeping Policemen (with Jack Slay, Jr.), as well as a collection of short fiction, The Resurrection Man’s Legacy and Other Stories. He has been a four-time finalist for the International Horror Guild Award, a two-time finalist for the Nebula Award, and a finalist for the Bram Stoker and the Shirley Jackson awards. His fiction has appeared in Alchemy, Amazing Stories, Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Nightmare, SciFiction, and, among other places. “Death and Suffrage,” his award-winning novelette, was adapted by director Joe Dante as part of the television series, Masters of Horror. He has two books due out in 2015, The End of the End of Everything: Stories and Acheron: A City in Seven Stories.  Goodreads

Laird Barron was born and raised in Alaska, did time in the wilderness, and raced in several Iditarods. Later, he migrated to Washington State where he devoted himself to American Combato and reading authors like Robert B. Parker, James Ellroy, and Cormac McCarthy. At night he wrote tales that combined noir, crime, and horror. He was a 2007 and 2010 Shirley Jackson Award winner for his collections The Imago Sequence and Other Stories and Occultation and Other Stories and a 2009 nominee for his novelette “Catch Hell.” Other award nominations include the Crawford Award, Sturgeon Award, International Horror Guild Award, World Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, and the Locus Award. His first novel, The Croning, was published in 2012; his latest collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, was published last year. Barron currently resides in Upstate New York and is writing a novel about the evil that men do.  Goodreads

Peter Atkins is the author of the novels Morningstar, Big Thunder, and Moontown and the screenplays Hellraiser II, Hellraiser III, Hellraiser IV, and Wishmaster. His short fiction has appeared in such anthologies as The Museum of Horrors, Dark Delicacies II, Hellbound Hearts, Gutshot, and The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes. His most recent book, Rumours of the Marvellous, was a finalist for the British Fantasy Award. “Postcards from Abroad,” set in the author’s native Liverpool, was written for the 2013 performances of The Rolling Darkness Revue, an annual folly he commits with Glen Hirshberg.  Blog  /  Goodreads

Veronica Schanoes is Assistant Professor in the department of English at Queens College—CUNY. Her fiction has appeared in Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Fantasy, and Strange Horizons. She lives in New York City.  Goodreads

Neil Gaiman is a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books for adults and children, including the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and Make Good Art, the text of a commencement speech he delivered at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is his most recent novel for adults and, for younger readers, Fortunately, the Milk. He is the recipient of numerous literary honors, including the Locus and Hugo Awards and the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Born and raised in England, Neil Gaiman now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Goodreads

The New York Times recently hailed Caitlín R. Kiernan as “one of our essential writers of dark fiction.” Her novels include The Red Tree (nominated for the Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy awards) and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir (winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the Bram Stoker Award, nominated for the Nebula, Locus, Shirley Jackson, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Mythopoeic awards). To date, her short fiction has been collected in thirteen volumes, most recently Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan (Volume One), and The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories. Currently, she’s writing the graphic novel series Alabaster for Dark Horse Comics and working on her next novel, Cherry Bomb.  Goodreads

New York Times #1 bestseller Brandon Sanderson made a name for himself in the fantasy genre with his first novel Elantris and its sequels as well as the Mistborn series before being chosen to finish Robert Jordan’s famous Wheel of Time sequence—left uncompleted on Jordon’s death—writing volumes such as The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light. His fantasy series for young adults, Alcatraz, consists of Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones, Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia, and Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. The Stormlight Archive series began with The Way of Kings in 2010 and continues with the recently published Words of Radiance. He lives in American Fork, Utah. Blog  /  Goodreads

Ken Liu ( is an author and translator of speculative fiction, as well as a lawyer and programmer. His fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons, among other places. He is a winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards. Liu’s debut novel, A Tempest of Gold, the first in a fantasy series, will be published by Simon & Schuster’s new genre fiction imprint in 2015, along with a collection of short stories. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.  Goodreads

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over forty novels and numerous short stories. His novella, Bubba Ho-tep, was made into an award-winning film of the same name, as was Incident On and Off a Mountain Road. His mystery classic Cold in July inspired the recent major motion picture of the same name starring Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, and Don Johnson. His novel The Bottoms will also soon be a film directed by Bill Paxton. His literary works have received numerous recognitions, including the Edgar, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Grinzane Cavour Prize for Literature, American Mystery Award, the International Horror Award, British Fantasy Award, and many others. His most recent novel for adults, The Thicket, was published last fall.  Goodreads

Brian Hodge is the award-winning author of eleven novels spanning horror, crime, and historical fiction. He’s also written over one hundred shorter works, and published five full-length collections. His first collection, The Convulsion Factory, was ranked by critic Stanley Wiater among the 113 best books of modern horror. Recent or forthcoming titles include Whom the Gods Would Destroy and The Weight of the Dead, both standalone novellas; Worlds of Hurt, an omnibus edition of the first four works in his Misbegotten mythos; a newly revised hardcover edition of Dark Advent, his early post-apocalyptic epic; No Law Left Unbroken, a collection of crime fiction; and his latest novel, Leaves of Sherwood. Hodge lives in Colorado, where a constant supply of mountain air and brewpubs keeps more of everything in the works. Website  /  Facebook  /  Goodreads

Bram Stoker nominee and Shirley Jackson Award-winner Kaaron Warren has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, and Fiji. She’s sold many short stories, three novels (the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Tree, and Mistification) and four short story collections. Her most recent collection, Through Splintered Walls, won a Canberra Critic’s Circle Award for Fiction, two Ditmar Awards, two Australian Shadows Awards and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her stories have appeared in Australia, the US, the UK and elsewhere in Europe, including Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales.  Blog  /   Twitter  /  Goodreads

Tanith Lee was born in the UK in 1947. After school she worked at a number of jobs, and at age twenty-five had one year at art college. Then DAW Books published her novel The Birthgrave. Since then she has been a professional full-time writer. Publications so far total approximately ninety novels and collections and well over three hundred short stories. She has also written for television and radio. Lee has won several awards; in 2009 she was made a Grand Master of Horror and honored with the World Fantasy Convention Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. She is married to the writer/artist John Kaiine.  Goodreads

Brian Evenson is the author of over a dozen books of fiction, most recently the short story collection Windeye (Coffee House Press) and the novel Immobility (Tor) which both were finalists for the Shirley Jackson Awards. His collection The Wavering Knife (FC2) won the International Horror Guild award, his novel The Open Curtain (Coffee House Press) was a finalist for the Edgar Award, and his novel Last Days (Underland) won the American Library Association’s Award for Best Horror novel of 2009. He has a new collection, A Collapse of Horses, forthcoming in 2015. He lives, as weirdly as possible, in Providence, Rhode Island, and works at the college upon which Lovecraft’s Miskatonic University is based.  Goodreads

Glen Hirshberg’s novels include The Snowman’s Children (2002), The Book of Bunk, 2010), and Motherless Child (2012), which has just been republished in a new, revised edition by Tor. He is also the author of three story collections: The Two Sams (a Publishers’ Weekly Best Book of 2003), American Morons (2006), and The Janus Tree (2011). In 2008, he won the Shirley Jackson Award for novelette, “The Janus Tree.” He is also a three-time winner of the International Horror Guild Award, and a five-time World Fantasy Award finalist. With Peter Atkins and Dennis Etchison, he cofounded the Rolling Darkness Revue, an annual reading/live music/performance event that tours the west coast every fall and has also made international appearances. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, son, daughter, and cats.  Goodreads

Sarah Singleton is an award-winning writer of fiction for adults and teenagers. Her first novel, The Crow Maiden, was a finalist for the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award and her eight novels for young adults, published by Simon & Schuster, include Century, which won the Booktrust Teen Award 2005, the premier award for YA fiction in the UK. Her short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies including Interzone, Black Static, Time Pieces, and Spectrum SF. She was a journalist for many years and now works as a teacher of English literature and language at a secondary school in Wiltshire, England—county of ancient forests, chalk downlands, standing stones, long barrows and white horses.  Goodreads

Steve Duffy has written/coauthored five collections of weird short stories. Tragic Life Stories, The Five Quarters, The Night Comes On (all From Ash-Tree Press), and his most recent, The Moment of Panic (PS Publishing). His work also appears in a number of anthologies published in the UK and the US. He won the International Horror Guild Award for Best Short Story, was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award in 2009, and again in 2012.  Goodreads

Greg Kurzawa studied theology before stumbling into an information technology career. His work has appeared in Interzone, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. He has a passable impression of Gage Kurricke, with whom he coauthored the bleak fantasy novel, Gideon’s Wall.  Website  /  Goodreads

“Rag and Bone” is based in Liverpool, UK, the beautiful city where Priya Sharma was a medical student. She is now a doctor but writes whenever she can. Her short stories can be found in various publications including Interzone, Black Static, Alt Hist,, and more will be available in 2014. She has been anthologized in several “Year’s Bests.”  Blog  /  Goodreads

Helen Marshall is an award-winning Canadian author, editor, and doctor of medieval studies. Her debut collection of short stories Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine Publications, 2012) was named one of the top ten books of 2012 by January Magazine and won the 2013 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer. Her second collection, Gifts for the One Who Comes After, will be released from ChiZine in September 2014. She lives in Oxford, England—that is, medieval Disneyland.  Goodreads

Sarah Monette grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the three secret cities of the Manhattan Project, and now lives in a 108-year-old house in the Upper Midwest with a great many books, two cats, one grand piano, and one husband. Her PhD diploma (English Literature, 2004) hangs in the kitchen. She has published more than fifty short stories and has two short story collections out: The Bone Key (Prime Books, 2007—with a new second edition in 2011) and Somewhere Beneath Those Waves (Prime Books, 2011). She has written two novels (A Companion to Wolves, Tor, 2007, and The Tempering of Men, Tor, 2011) and four short stories with Elizabeth Bear, and hopes to write more. Her first four novels (Melusine, The Virtu, The Mirador, Corambis) were published by Ace. Her latest novel, The Goblin Emperor, published under the pen name Katherine Addison, came out from Tor in April 2014. 
 Website  /  Blog  /  Goodreads

Specializing in dark fantasy and horror, Angela Slatter is the author of the Aurealis Award-winning The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, the World Fantasy Award finalist Sourdough and Other Stories, and the Aurealis finalist Midnight and Moonshine (with Lisa L. Hannett). She is the first Australian to win a British Fantasy Award (for “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” in A Book of Horrors, Stephen Jones, ed.). In 2013 she was awarded one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellowships. She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, and is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006.  Blog  /  Goodreads

Carrie Vaughn is the bestselling author of the Kitty Norville series. The twelfth novel, Kitty in the Underworld, is due out in July 2013. She has also written young adult novels, Voices of Dragons and Steel, and the fantasy novels, Discord’s Apple and After the Golden Age. Her short fiction has appeared many times in Lightspeed and Realms of Fantasy, and in a number of anthologies, such as Fast Ships, Black Sails, and Warriors. She lives in Colorado with a fluffy attack dog. Website  /  Goodreads

Lisa Tuttle began writing while still at school, sold her first stories at university, and won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer of the year in 1974. Her first novel, Windhaven, was a collaboration with George R. R. Martin published in 1981; her most recent is the contemporary fantasy The Silver Bough, and she has written at least a hundred short stories— science fiction, fantasy and horror—as well as essays, reviews, non-fiction, and books for children. Born and raised in Texas, educated in New York, later a resident of London, she now makes her home in a remote, rural part of Scotland.  Goodreads

Sunny Moraine is a humanoid creature of average height, luminosity, and inertial mass. They’re also a doctoral candidate in sociology and a writer-like object whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lightspeed, Shimmer, Clarkesworld, and Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, as well as multiple Year’s Best anthologies, all of which has provided lovely reasons to avoid a dissertation. Their first novel Line and Orbit, co-written with Lisa Soem, is available from Samhain Publishing. Their solo-authored novel Crowflight is available from Masque Books. Its sequel, Ravenfall, will be released this summer.  Goodreads

Karin Tidbeck lives and works in Malmö, Sweden. She’s published prose and poetry in Swedish since 2002, with publications in journals like Jules Verne-magasinet and Lyrikvännen. Her English publication history includes Weird Tales,, Lightspeed, and the anthologies Steampunk Revolution and The Time Travelers Almanac. Tidbeck’s stories have appeared in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: 2013, The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Eight, The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2014, and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume One. Tidbeck’s 2012 short story collection Jagannath won the Crawford Memorial Award in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Tiptree Award and World Fantasy Award. One of the stories, “Augusta Prima,” won the SF & Fantasy Translation Award.  Goodreads

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. When coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, this led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, and the writing of speculative fiction. She is the Hugo, Sturgeon, Locus, and Campbell Award winning author of twenty-five novels (The most recent is Steles of the Sky, from Tor) and almost a hundred short stories. Her Promethean Age novel, One-Eyed Jack, will be published by Prime Books in August 2014. Her dog lives in Massachusetts; her partner, writer Scott Lynch, lives in Wisconsin. She spends a lot of time on planes.  Goodreads

Yoon Ha Lee’s Crawford Memorial Award-nominated short fiction collection Conservation of Shadows was published in 2013 by Prime Books. She lives in Louisiana with her family, used to design constructed languages as a hobby, and has not yet been eaten by gators.  Goodreads

Paula Guran serves as senior editor for Prime Books. She edited the Juno fantasy imprint from its small press inception through its incarnation as an imprint of Pocket Books. In addition to the annual Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror series, she edits a growing number of other anthologies as well as novels and single-author collections. In an earlier life she produced weekly email newsletter DarkEcho (winning two Stokers, an IHG Award, and a World Fantasy Award nomination); edited Horror Garage (earning another IHG and a second World Fantasy nomination) and other periodicals; and has contributed reviews, interviews, and articles to numerous professional publications. The mother of four, mother-in-law of two, and grandmother of one, she lives in Akron, Ohio with two cats and—depending on the day or week—a variable number of adult children and/or two of their dogs. 
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Big Game: Hunted Love #1 by Aden Lowe

Title: Big Game: Hunted Love #1
Author: Aden Lowe
Released On: September 15th, 2014
Genre: Western Romance

***Recommended for ages 18 and up 
due to sexual situations and some strong language***

When a legendary predator decides prize horses should be on his menu, Kate takes the advice of her neighbor ranchers and hires a big game hunter to track the mountain lion and remove the threat. The hunter arrives to take up the trail, but instead of the seasoned older man she expects, he's young and impossibly sexy. Freshly back from deployment to Afghanistan as a special forces operative, Jakob needs to clear his head of the horrors of war. When his uncle is injured, Jakob steps in to fulfill the older man's commitment to hunt down a mountain lion on the other side of the state. The prospect of several days in the wilderness with only his horses and dogs for company sounds like the ideal opportunity. Except the infuriating female rancher insists on going along for the ride.

     Continuing her wide circuit of the rig, Kate's attention fell to the custom crates built into the bed of the pickup. That explained it. Dog kennels meant the hunter had arrived hours earlier than she expected. But why bring his own horses? As far as she'd heard, most only brought their dogs, and the rancher was expected to provide whatever transportation the hunter preferred, whether it was horses or ATVs. She'd already had two heavy duty ATVs prepared, packed with provisions and extra fuel, in expectation.
     And where was the hunter, anyway? Turning, she looked down by the barn, expecting to see a stranger poking around. Nothing. Puzzled, she examined the truck closer. Surely he hadn't slept in it? No one deliberately slept in a truck the night before hitting the trail with days in the saddle ahead. And yet, where else could he be?
     She approached the driver's door carefully and stretched to try and see through the dark tinted window. Nothing visible, of course. A tap at the window should wake anyone inside, so she gave it a try, and stepped back to wait.
     A heavy hand dropped onto her shoulder and she jumped hard, biting back a surprised yelp, and swung, her knuckles landing solidly on a hard jaw.
     The deep male grunt confirmed she'd landed a good blow. Long fingers circled her wrist in a grip that promised to easily crush the small bones if she resisted.
     Frozen in place, Kate glared up. And up, past a strong throat, beard-shadowed jaw, unsmiling mouth, and straight nose to meet a startlingly green glare. "I'll let go if you promise not to hit me again."
     Kate nodded willingness to comply and took a fast step back as soon as she was free, while her lower body clenched in sudden tense awareness. "Who the hell are you? And why are you parked by my house?" Dammit, she sounded flustered and breathless, rather than stern and commanding. Damn hormones picked the most ridiculous and inconvenient times to wake up and kick her ass.
     His lip quirked a little, as if he could read her thoughts as clearly as the newspaper. "Sorry to startle you, ma'am. I'm Jakob Barger. We spoke yesterday evening I think?" He waited for her nod of recognition. "I pulled in after two and didn't want to disturb your stock, so I parked up here. I hope that's okay?"
     The combination of gravelly voice and contrite attitude set more hormones on the rampage by way of thundering her pulse through her pelvis. "Kate Holt. Sorry for the… uh," she brushed a hand over her own jaw to indicate the reddening mark on his. "I don't normally go around hitting perfect strangers."
     The same long fingers that had circled her wrist gently probed the red mark. "Couldn't prove it by me." A sudden sheepish grin broke the tension. "I don't normally go around startling harmless women either, so I guess we're even. If you'll show me where to park my rig, I'd like to let my animals stretch their legs while I get everything ready."
     "Of course. Can I hitch a ride? I'll help you unload." No way he'd get that big-ass rig parked without someone directing him either, but she didn't say that.
     "Thanks." He efficiently loaded his animals back into the trailer, then rounded the front of the truck in long easy strides and opened the passenger door and stood waiting. Evidently he meant to hold the damn door for her to climb in.
     Kate gave a little shrug. Whatever floated his boat, as long as he caught that lion, made no difference to her. Except he stood there watching her. "You know you don't have to hold the door for me, right? I can manage that little task for myself." Annoyance crept into her voice.
     Reacting to what he probably thought was her resistance to being taken care of in any way by a man, Barger raised his hands and stepped away from the truck. "Suit yourself." He crossed back to the driver's side.
     Kate took advantage of his attention being elsewhere to get to the passenger door. Now why the hell did she need to hide her limp? She never bothered with it, and he would see it sooner rather than later anyway, while she helped him park and unload. Certainly not vanity—she'd long ago given that up, settling for neat and clean, or hardworking when that wasn't possible.
     So what on earth had her hiding her weakness from Jakob Barger? It wasn't like she had even a remote chance in hell at getting his attention, or even truly wanted to, despite the uproar he'd put her hormones into. Still, it might be nice to have a man like him of her own. Tall and solid with muscle, handsome in a rough sort of way, and evidently quick witted.
     Kate shook the nonsense from her head and climbed into the passenger seat of his truck, realizing the error too late. The warm musky scent of healthy male blended seamlessly with horse, leather and hay, and stood up to introduce itself, much to the delight of her libido. Oh shit, she was in serious trouble here. Thoughts of a week or more on the trail alone with owner of that scent did something funny to her stomach.
     He climbed behind the wheel and started the truck, and blasted the interior of the truck with a combination of hard beat and screaming guitar. He hurried to turn the volume down. "Sorry, forgot it was so loud."
     At least his scent no longer consumed her awareness. "What the hell was that anyway?"
     Jakob glanced at her as he backed the trailer slowly toward the split in the driveway. "What do you mean? You've never heard Metallica?" When she shook her head, he stopped the truck a moment to fiddle with the CD player. "This is called 'Enter Sandman'. One of my favorites. Listen?" When she nodded again, he turned it up to just above normal listening volume for her.
     The catchy tune quickly gave way to the hard beat from earlier, and a growling voice blended perfectly. "Say your prayers little one, Don't forget my son…" Kate listened, captivated, as something in that voice reached into her and gripped a part of her she hadn't known existed. By the time the last notes trailed away, she knew without a doubt, she'd found something entirely new and unexpected.
     Jakob watched her, not hiding his knowing smile. "Gotcha." His exact duplication of the growl on the CD sent a shiver down her spine. "Not what you expected?" His voice had gone back to normal, but her newly trained ear picked up the sinister growl hiding within the gravelly tones.
     The shudder of appreciation wasn't easy to conceal, but Kate thought she managed it fairly well. "Not at all. I've never been interested in that kind of music. Always just turned the dial as quickly as possible."
     "Hang around me a while. I'll show you something far more interesting than what you're used to." The way his gaze swept over her features, paused at her breasts, and continued downward said he fully intended the double meaning.
     Okay, she really needed to change the subject. The lane to the barn appeared, offering the perfect opportunity. "Go forward and bear left here. You'll round the barn to the right and pull around back. I have a shed back there if you'd rather park under cover, or you can park just to the side of the shed."
     The truck stopped and Jakob nodded once before putting it in gear and following directions. "Do I get an answer now? Or do I have to wait until I catch you a lion?"
     "An answer to what?"
     "Will you hang around me enough for me to show you some interesting things?"
     Oh…boy. Every more severe epithet she'd ever known fled right out of her head. So much trouble.      "That—" She had to pause and clear her throat to get the breathy, wanton tone out of her voice. She tried again, "That depends." Better.
     "On what?" The grin he flashed her way said he knew all about the pulse that suddenly pounded her core. "I haven't decided yet."
     It was a good thing he'd stopped the truck behind the barn, waiting to see where he should go next.      She opened her door and bailed when self-preservation demanded she get the hell away from all that overwhelming maleness. The man absolutely oozed sex at the moment, and she wasn't equipped to deal with that sort of assault on her senses. Nothing in her life had prepared her for that.

Exclusive Blog Tour Interview with Jakob
We're here with Jakob Barger, main character of Big Game: Hunted Love #1, by Aden Lowe, to get a little insight on the book and what might be in store for Kate and Jakob in their second book, at the end of the Hunted Love series.

**Jakob, I gathered you spent a lot of time with your Uncle Frank as you were growing up. Were you close to your parents at all?
Jakob: My dad was killed when I was ten. He was a firefighter. But yes, I was close to him. After he died, Uncle Frank sort of stepped in to help my mom. She was devastated without my dad. I grew up hearing stories of how much they loved each other.

**What were you thinking when you first realized you were falling for Kate?
Jakob: Part of me was terrified. I knew she was at least attracted to me, but I had no idea if it was more than that for her. I was also relieved in a way, to know that the kind of love I'd heard of all my life actually could happen more than just that one time. I'd always been afraid it was some kind of fluke or something, and certainly never expected to care that much about anyone. A lot of people go through life without even hoping that can happen to them. Hell, most of the guys I know don't even give a damn, and I probably wouldn't either if I hadn't heard those stories as a kid.

** What was it about Kate that initially got your attention?
Jakob: Hahaha, her fist. Seriously, I'm not really sure. I think it was partly her strength, but she was also this really odd mixture of innocence and experience… It's hard to explain. The closest I can think of is when people say someone is 'wise beyond their years'. Only with her, it didn't apply only to the big 'life lesson' things, but to every single facet of her. I have a thing with puzzles, can't resist them, and to me, she presents the ultimate puzzle. I'm willing to spend the rest of my life trying to figure her out.

And there you have it. Don't miss the next installment of the Hunted Love series, Bounty, due out in a couple of weeks.

Author Bio:
Growing up an only child, I was lucky enough to have a huge brood of cousins to help me get into all sorts of trouble. Long summers spent on various family members' farms gave me a deep appreciation for the outdoors and horses. I worked my way through college training horses as a result of those summers. 
After 15 years editing books for strangers, I decided to try my own hand at writing. Big Game: Hunted Love #1 was my solo debut, and my story idea file is endless. After I finish the Hunted Love series, I have a romance series featuring soldiers returning from war and set twenty years in the future. And after that, there's a Roman Gladiator who keeps insisting on telling me his story...

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5 copies Big Game: Hunted Love #1
5 signed bookmarks
5 bottlecap magnets
5 Hunted Love bandanas

Unattainable by Charity Parkerson

Title –  Unattainable
Series –  No Rival
Author – Charity Parkerson
Genre – Erotica
Publication Date – 08/27/2014
Length (Pages/# Words) – 130/ 43,000
Publisher – Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc.
Cover Artist –  Publisher

A career-ending injury leaves Brian reeling. With no clue what he’ll do now that his dream of becoming an MMA champion is over, he is shocked at an unexpected offer of help from a former champ.
Terry has seen the top and is happy with his life in retirement. However the chance to help a fellow fighter regain his dream is something he can’t resist.
When Brian accepts Terry’s offer, the sexual magnetism between them catches Brian off guard. Keeping his attraction hidden becomes a bigger challenge than regaining his strength. Plus, Terry’s mixed signals leave Brian frustrated and confused.
Though Terry is just as hot for Brian, he has secrets that could tear their budding romance apart. But he simply cannot resist the pull Brian has over him or the heat between them. Through it all, both men discover that love really can conquer all.
Inside Scoop: This male/male romance will leave you hot but most definitely not bothered.
A Romantica® contemporary gay erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

I haven't read books 1-4 in the No Rival series but after reading Unattainable I am most certainly adding the earlier entries to my list.  Some people see MMA as barbaric "legal" fighting, me, I call it a sport.  I love wrestling, boxing is okay, so MMA is a give or take.  The author uses this setting to show the need for loyalty, friendship, compassion, trust, and strength between those within the world of training and in more than just physical ways too.  A truly enjoyable read that has me definitely looking forward to reading the entire series.  Sexy, drama, sexy, love, sexy . . . let's just say it's all here.


     “I never drink and you’re going to make me drink alone?”
     A grin tugged at Terry’s lips at Brian’s sullen comment. “You need the fortification while I’ve had more than my fair share for one lifetime.”
     Brian’s speech was already beginning to slow down. “It’s not right to leave a man hanging.”
     “I have to drive you home and I don’t drink and drive.”
     Brian slipped down an inch in his chair. Crossing his arms over his chest, he stared at Terry through his lashes. “I could stay here.” Although Terry doubted Brian’s proposition was intended the way he would’ve liked, it still caused his cock to lengthen. “It wouldn’t be the first time I slept in a chair.” That statement might have taken the bite out his arousal if Brian’s tone hadn’t gone sultry. Not to mention, his eyes darkened. Terry shifted in his seat to hide his erection. The expression on Brian’s face was hot as hell.
     “I wouldn’t let you sleep in a chair.” He hoped Brian was now wondering where he would allow him to sleep. Of course, the answer was nowhere. If Brian stayed, neither of them would get any rest.
Brian tossed back another shot before straightening in his seat. “If I’m not staying then I’d better go home. I’d hate to pass out on you and like I said, I don’t drink often.”
     With a nod, Terry stood. Brian attempted to follow suit but swayed on his feet. Racing forward, Terry caught him before he could hit the ground. The motion left them chest to chest. A nervous sounding chuckle vibrated from Brian. Terry could feel it against his skin. Their gazes met. The sound died.
     “You’re very bossy,” Brian said, surprising a chuckle from Terry.
     “You’re very drunk,” Terry countered.
     Brian didn’t move away. Neither did Terry. “I’ll get over being drunk, you’ll always be bossy.”
     “I have a feeling—if you remember any of this tomorrow—you’re going to be horrified.”
     Brian was staring at his mouth. He shook his head. “Nope. I haven’t done anything to be embarrassed about...yet.”
     Terry marveled over the way Brian’s eyes gave away his every emotion. They seemed to flash from light to dark brown and back again as he visibly struggled against his desire. Unable to keep from doing so, Terry gave him an extra shove. Using his voice against him, he allowed a hint of his growing lust to seep into his tone.
     “Do you intend to?” With his gaze still locked on Terry’s mouth, Brian nodded. “Do it,” Terry taunted. The words barely passed his lips before Brian claimed his mouth. For Terry, it was like tossing gasoline on already raging bonfire. It was everything he’d fantasized it would be with an extra helping of expertise tossed into the mix. The way Brian’s tongue stroked the roof of his mouth before slipping away and reappearing again left Terry with no choice except to chase after it. The moment he thought he had him, Brian sank his teeth into Terry’s bottom lip, tugging gently. Terry gasped. He couldn’t remember a time he’d been this close to coming in his jeans, especially from nothing more than a kiss. At the sound, Brian turned his face away, resting his forehead on Terry’s shoulder. His shoulders heaved as he visibly struggled to catch his breath.
     “The room is spinning.”
     Terry clamped his back teeth together. His muscles seized tight as he attempted to control his lust.      “That’s because the world tilted,” Terry said once he found his voice.

Author Bio:
Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with Ellora's Cave Publishing. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters.

*2013 Readers' Favorite Award Winner
*2013 Reviewers' Choice Award Winner
*2014 Readers’ Favorite Award Finalist
*2014 Ankh Award Nominee
*ARRA Finalist for Favorite Paranormal Romance
*Five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath

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Unattainable #5

Unsurpassed #1

Undaunted #2

Unequaled #3

Unbalanced #4

A “No Rival” t-shirt and a set of 3 autographed bookmarks

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