Tuesday, October 6, 2015

City of Roses by Donovan Pruitt

Title: City of Roses
Author: Donovan Pruitt
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: May 5, 2015

A young man ventures to his lost love’s childhood home in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine. When a sudden accident puts him off-course, he awakes to discover a lively and  vibrant culture living in a nearby village and a woman who reignites his heart. But something sinister lurks in the shadows, and he must face the terror and help defend the village from evil before it is lost forever. Go beyond the tragedy of Chernobyl and discover the magic in the City of Roses.

1. What is the biggest influence/interest that brought you to this genre?
I grew up on Star Wars, Star Trek, and the X-Men. While my latest book, City of Roses, is a far cry from my nerdiest influences, I think my love of the weird, obscure, and the fantastic is evident even there.

2. When writing a book, what is your favorite part of the creative process(outline, plot, character names, editing, etc)?
I love imagining the action sequences, and what kind of crazy stunt I want my characters to pull. Also, I love coming up with the varying styles of magic or technology, depending on the genre, to help bring the world to life. I like to imagine, if I was a kid again, what would I enjoy pretending to be most from this book?

3. When reading a book, what genre do you find most interesting/intriguing?
I’m a YA Fantasy addict, especially those books with a darker, bleaker tone. I love finding characters twisted up in a horrible conspiracy. Outgunned, outplayed, and pushed to the edge. Then things get good.

4. If you could co-author with any author, past or present, who would you choose?
My recently developed writing math equation should help with this question: Victoria Aveyard + Donovan Pruitt + superpowers +/- story = win.

5. Have you always wanted to write or did it come to you "later in life"?
I started writing as a hobby when I was thirteen, but back then it never occurred to me that I could BE a writer. Now that I finally have a chance to make a real run at a life of writing, I’m never giving it up.

Author Bio:
Donovan Pruitt has a passion for science fiction and fantasy, especially those titles that trend toward young and new adult storytelling. City of Roses was his first standalone book as an indie author, though he has also written for video games and was previously published as a co-author in the fantasy genre. You can visit him online at www.KalaEmpire.com or join the discussion on Twitter.

Check out his book reviews on Amazon here.


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Always Kiss Me Goodnight by Megan Gaudino

Title: Always Kiss Me Goodnight
Author: Megan Gaudino
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult
Release Date: August 26, 2015
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Sophia Destino is supposed to die.

All seventeen-year-old Sophia wants is to coast through her junior year. But with her parents obsessed with her Olympic-swimming-hopeful brother, a psychic best friend with a penchant for reading tarot cards, and prophetic dreams that predict her death—that won’t be easy. As her nightmares begin to come true, Sophia finds herself dodging death and longing for the time when getting over her ex-boyfriend was her biggest problem. Until she meets Leo Knight. The mysterious stranger seems determined to keep her alive—and steal her heart. But Leo has a secret that is about to change everything and Sophia is about to learn that sometimes…your number is up

When we made it to the living room Hercules began lapping up the puddles of water we left behind us. Leo yanked the gray blanket off of the armchair and wrapped it around me because I was suddenly shaking.

He moved a salt stone lamp out of his way and sat on top of the coffee table, motionlessly taking in my expression. Before he even spoke I just knew he was reading me all wrong. I felt like I could read him already too.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Sophia,” he groaned.

“For what? My idiotic carelessness or that you saved my life once again? You shouldn’t be sorry about either of those things.”

“I shouldn’t have let that happen. I shouldn’t have been sleeping still. I promised you I’d protect you and look what happened. Do you have any idea how close you were to dying? Even closer than you were last night. If I was just one second later I would’ve been too late.”

“I know. I was there. But you weren’t too late. It’s all over now—I’m fine.” He put his head in his hands and scrunched his hair in his palms. “Leo.” I reached forward and placed my hand on his arm. He was still so hot to the touch. “Why’s your skin so hot again?”

He flinched away from my hand, stood up, folded his arms across his chest and turned his back to me. His reaction made me question my gesture.

“It’ll go away.”

“Yeah but why does it happen at all?”

He hesitated for just a moment before he answered. “Because I keep saving your life.”

“I thought angels are supposed to save lives.”

“I already told you. I’m not an angel. I’m not supposed to save lives.”

Author Bio:
Megan Gaudino works in a high school library by day and on her own books by night. She lives in Pittsburgh where you can find her reading, writing, and Instagraming.


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Release Day Blitz: Barren by Elizabeth Miceli

Title: Barren
Author: Elizabeth Miceli
Series: Barren #1
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Swoon Romance
I cried, praying for him to finish. I closed my eyes and tried to envision myself somewhere else… somewhere where I was happy. I thought of my family all piled around our tree on Christmas morning. I thought of singing with my band. I thought of Caitlin and me baking cookies and watching movies together. But after just a few seconds of pretending, Mike would hit me or thrust deeper and I would be back in reality. I was being raped. I was all alone. I was the damsel in distress. And there was no one there to save me.

Seventeen-year-old Stacey Lorenzo’s poor self-esteem has always consumed her. When her significant weight loss leaves her still feeling powerless- and with an eating disorder- she turns to partying to cope. This only makes matters worse because at a party she is raped, which leaves her psyche at an all-time low. Stacey drugs, cuts, and hooks up with countless guys in an attempt to find herself. But if Stacey doesn’t find a way to face her demons and overcome her fears, she might find herself in a hole so dark, even love won’t be able to pull her out.

  “I felt its sharpness against my finger … It could definitely do some damage. I could run this thin, rigid object against my white skin, and it would turn red. I could make myself bleed.
I knelt down on the floor, trying to find a good spot to try it out on. My arm was too open to the public. My stomach was used all too often. My legs though … they were rarely seen and I’d never cut them before. They were the perfect spot.
  I sat in the tile shower and stared down at my flesh. I brought the blade to my skin and pressed down hard, harder until it pierced. I dragged the razor over my skin, making the cut deeper and thicker. The cut ran from about six inches above my kneecap to the top of my thigh.
As I continued to slice my skin, my mind cleared. My heart stopped beating for just a second … and everything went quiet. My thoughts. My surroundings. I couldn’t even hear the water hitting the tile.
  I stopped thinking about Mike, his fingers that were forever on my skin. I stopped thinking about the way I’d treated Frank, one of the only sweet guys who had ever taken me out on a date. I stopped thinking about the fact that I had to stick my fingers down my throat to confront my problems. Everything paused.
  For about ten seconds it was just me, the blade, and the blood flowing down the tile to the drain.”

Author Bio:
Elizabeth hails from the smallest state with the biggest heart. She started off at The University of Akron and then transferred to the University of Rhode Island. She is a double major in both Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies. Although she loves writing- she also has a passion for helping others which is why she is studying to become a sex therapist/couples counselor. Elizabeth loves spending time with her family and friends, singing, eating everything Italian, and baking cookies. She is “in love with love” which is probably why the driving force in almost everything she writes is romance. When she’s not getting lost in her characters she can be found waiting for her prince charming in her North Kingstown, Rhode Island home.

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Code Black by Tina Moss

Title: Code Black
Author: Tina Moss
Series: Paranormal Crimes Division #1
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Gossip mag reporter Sera Benenati knows a thing or two about unearthing secrets...and burying them. As an unregistered supernatural, her freedom depends on keeping her fire-wielding abilities contained. Yet, the threat of a little flame isn’t enough to snuff out her journalistic pursuits. She’s determined to claw her way to the top and land a spot with a real paper.

When she tracks a lead on a string of gruesome paranormal murders to the small town of Buckhorn, Arizona, she’s certain she’s landed the perfect scoop. But, as the crime scene reveals victims with bite marks, torn flesh, and battered bodies, Sera may have smoked out more than she can burn. As the investigation grows hot and Sera winds up in the crosshairs, she’ll need the help of a sexy shifter, special agent Talon Rede, to unmask the murderers before she becomes the next victim.

Sera stared at her fingernails, picking at the chipped red paint and wondering how in the hell to interview a murder victim’s sister. “How do I get myself into these things?” She flicked the cherry apple flecks at the dashboard and leaned her skull back against the headrest. Remembering exactly how she ended up in this suburban neighborhood, procrastinating in the morning sun shifted her thoughts to seven days earlier.

And a conversation she couldn’t forget.

“Don’t you think people deserve the truth?” That line had gotten her into this mess in the first place. One week ago, she’d won a huge bet with her favorite poker buddy, who also happened to be the county medical examiner. When he couldn’t cover his bet, he gave her a prize of equal value—the unlisted office number of Special Agent Talon Rede, team leader for the Paranormal Crimes Division in the district. She’d been after an inside connection to the PCD for months. He knew the weakness and played his hand well. Information proved the ultimate jackpot, far more than any dollar amount. The journalistic philosophy accounted for her not big enough to be called a studio apartment and the meager double digits in her savings. The phone number almost made up for her severe lack of closet space.

Her fingers couldn’t whip over the touchscreen fast enough.

“Agent Rede, you can’t possibly believe releasing these ridiculous tidbits of information is fair to the public.” The accusation had flown a few seconds past the initial greeting of, “Hello. I’m Sera Benenati. A reporter. Don’t hang up.” The collar of her button down blouse irritated her neck. When he’d stayed on the line, she dug in. “The more the people know about these crimes, the safer they’ll be.”

His silence dragged on, and then, he growled. “Well now, this should be interesting.”

She’d been instantly intrigued. His strong velvety voice did something to her insides. Donning her most professional tone like armor, she said, “What’s interesting is the way the PCD dodges every reporter’s questions about the Rodriguez case.”

“Sweetheart, you can ask me anything you like.” His pause spoke louder than his words. “But, if I think for a second my answer will put more people, the public, the same citizens this office protects in danger, you’re damn right the only phrase you’ll hear is ‘no comment’.”

“Wow.” She hadn’t meant to let it slip, but his honesty and boldness impressed the hell
out of her. “You always this straight forward?”

“What you see is what you get.”

“But, I only hear you, Agent Rede.” She could almost envision his grin over the line, picturing it in her mind and imagining the man behind the voice.

“For now, Ms. Benenati. But, I doubt you give up easily.” Another heavy pause. “Am I wrong?”

“Not on your life.”

They’d traded barbs for almost an hour after, each striking and dodging in turn. She never did get more from him on the case, but it ended up her poker pal had the scoop. Another game, three days later, and she had the details she needed. Only now, she couldn’t get the special agent out of her head.

“Stupid. You never even met the guy!” Yet, it didn’t seem to matter. Her cheeks heated whenever she thought about their one phone call—a conversation she replayed over in her head far too many times. It’d been forever since a man had captured her attention so much. Hell, had any man ever fascinated her like Agent Rede? But, when the conversation had ended, he didn’t ask for her number and she hadn’t called him back. Better to keep the fantasy than be disappointed with reality.

Sera sighed and flipped down the visor to check her makeup. The foundation she’d spent way too much on flaked in the heat and the simple lipstick she’d chosen to look “professional” clashed with her hair. Worse, the nail polish she’d been picking at as she killed time in the car made her fingers look like bloody stumps. “Perfect.”

Resigned, she flicked off the dried red polish and hopped down from her Jeep 4x4. With the victim’s file clutched to her chest, she hurried to the house. Her heels clicked over the endless cement driveway. She’d read the medical examiner’s report—the latest aforementioned poker prize—six times. Details of the crime remained hidden away from the press, but with this, she’d been able to uncover the crucial facts. She flipped through her notes for the seventh time as she walked.

Victims, Juan and Margaret Rodriquez, aged 32 and 29 respectively and registered as humans, were found dead in their home. Bite marks and bruises on the victims’ arms and legs show signs of a struggle, but no foreign DNA fibers could be identified. Reports of similar blood and tissue loss from attacks by unregistered SUBs are on file, but no suspect type can be recorded without further analysis. See appendix on supernatural or undead beings for possibilities.

Her hands started to sweat. “This is what you wanted, remember?” She tucked the file under her arm and wiped her palms on the hem of her pencil skirt. “A chance to prove yourself, to be a real reporter. No more gossip mags or d-bag bosses.”

The little voice in the back of her mind started screaming, the bastard echoing her fears. You should be nervous, pet. After all “Man gives Birth to Two-Headed Alien” and “Tractor Comes to Life Killing Farmer” don’t exactly put you up for a Pulitzer. Rubbing her temple, she mouthed a silent, “Shut up.” Over the last eight years, she’d fought to tune out the annoying monster, the secret she’d had to keep from everyone. It was part of— okay, maybe more than part of—the reason she hadn’t contacted the special agent again.

How could she have a relationship with anyone when she had this thing in her head?

And that was the big problem—it was literally all in her head. Her mind to be exact. The neurons in her brain fired on two different planes of thought. One was hers and the other belonged to another, an entity. Sera could manage to get his side quiet most of the time, but every now and again, he surfaced at just the right—or rather wrong—moment.

“Guy, if you start with me,” she said, addressing her inner tormenter, “I swear I’ll zone out on sleeping pills for the next three days.”

Touchy. Whatsamatta? Big bad reporter got a bug up her—

“Stop it!” At sixteen, she’d dubbed the voice, Guy, and thought he might be some type of supernatural creature or a part of her own mixed heritage. Her human father refused to discuss Sera’s otherworldly side, and her mother, who as an unregistered supernatural had no legal protection or paper trail, died giving birth to Sera. Thus, the sole keys to unlocking the mystery of her inhuman DNA remained buried. Whether Guy was some type of freak or just a part of her damaged psyche didn’t make much difference in the end. He still remained a major pain in the ass.

“Guy, can it. I don’t need your shit now.” She stalked down the football field masquerading as a driveway to the front door, blocking out all other thoughts than the task at hand. A tentative knock on the brass handle had her fiddling with her bun and smoothing the wrinkles from her tan suit jacket. As she waited, she shifted her feet, the high heels pinching her toes something fierce.

“Ms. Brown?” she said, knocking again. “Ms. Brown, I’m from the Arizona Hornet. I’m here for an interview.” Sera could hear shuffling inside, but the front door remained closed. She leaned to the right, trying to catch a glimpse through the window. An overgrown myrtle bush blocked her view and tickled her nose with its allspice scent. The sun reflected off the glass in harsh streaks. She shielded her eyes with the back of her hand and tried to keep the desperation from her voice. “Please, I just want to ask some questions.”

More shuffling preceded a scraping sound as the door opened mere inches. “Another reporter, huh. What’d you want now?” A pair of red-ringed eyes narrowed on Sera.

“I’m sorry to bother you, Ma’am.” Grabbing a pen in one hand, she tightened her grip on her file with the other. She flipped through her notepad and looked down at the list of questions. Nerves poked at her concentration. The letters blurred together like a Rorschach inkblot. She chewed the pen cap. The urge to rip the paper into tiny shreds made it impossible to focus. “This won’t take long. I have a few questions about your sister’s murd...about what happened to your sister.”

“I already told the police everything I know.” She clipped each word as if struggling to get them out through her clenched jaw.

Ms. Brown began to close those precious inches. Cursing her stupidity at wearing heels, Sera wedged her foot in the thin space.

“What do you think you’re doing?” The dark circles under Ms. Brown’s eyes lessened as her gaze widened. “How dare you!”

“You don’t understand. I think I can help you.”

“Help me? You think you can help me?” Ms. Brown shook her head and muttered, “Crazy bitch. The only way you can help me is if you bring my sister back from the dead.”

The door pulled open wide and an umbrella’s metal tip poked Sera in the chest. She stumbled backward. “Ms. Brown, I want to find the killers.”

“Get off my property! Or you’ll find a killer right here.” She slammed the door closed.

The chain rattled as the lock slid into place.

Author Bio:
Tina Moss is an award-winning author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and New Adult novels. She lives in NYC with a supportive husband and two alpha corgis, though all the males hog the bed and refuse to share the covers. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching cheesy horror flicks, traveling, and karate. As a 5'1" Shotokan black belt, she firmly believes that fierce things come in small packages.



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Arrows of Darkness by BI Woolet

Title: Arrows of Darkness
Author: B.I. Woolet 
Series: World of Arcas #2
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Release Date: October 2, 2015
Cover Design: Mae I Design
Jackson returns to Arcas expecting to find peace—a peace greatly lacking within his own home. But when a violent archer takes over as Lord of the White Palace, the future of the ancient kingdoms is shaken.

Frightening creatures have overtaken the beautiful Starling Forest, destroying everything in their path. Jackson and Nekkar narrowly escape the beasts together, but Nekkar blames the Son of Earth for releasing the present darkness in Arcas. The rocky, new friendship strengthens as they journey through dangerous lands toward the Free Realms. Can their loyalties survive when the beautifully gutsy Princess Andromeda interrupts their quest and the darkness of war batters their souls?

While Rigel, Otava, and Merope work together to rescue the six sisters trapped at the White Palace, Sephdar returns from shadowy crusades to find White Wings’ army leaderless. The new self-proclaimed ruler has a plan for the Seven Sisters and a plan for The Bridge to Earth. But when his ambitious arrows pierce the peaceful kingdoms, an unlikely force confronts the dark lord and the future of the crowns is changed forever.

Hold to your axe and hold to your lass as you join Jackson to combat the darkness spreading through the world of Arcas. But remember, the most powerful arrows do not pierce the body but the soul.

“Mark the door!” Scruuutch. “The queen’s not in this room!” Scruuutch. An axe scraped across a heavy wooden door each time a room was cleared. “Someone’s alive! Come quickly!” another shouted for help.

King Alderamin squeezed the handle of his axe until his knuckles blanched. He could no longer control the passion inside him. Water flowed to his eyes while anger fought like a dam to hold back the flood of sorrow. With no destination in mind, he began running, running, running through the glass and the blood and the toppled bricks. He had arrived too late to outrun the enemy, but perhaps he could outrun the guilt.

Suddenly, the scenery changed. Everything felt untouched as he reached the back hallway. Every mirror was still perfectly intact, every wall still standing. And there was his light brown face in image after image with blood-shot, yellow-brown eyes looking back at him.

“RAAAAAHHHH!” He viciously swung his axe right and left, shattering each image that now looked detestable and pathetic to him. Crash! Crash! Crash! Shards of glass blasted from the sharpened edge of his axe as it collided with the mirrors covering every wall. But the last unblemished mirror that he swung the heavy weapon into didn’t respond as the others. His axe didn’t just sink into the glass; it sunk into the wall itself. The king jerked and yanked, but the iron head stuck firmly. In anger and frustration, he kicked the mirrored wall.

Click-click. Alderamin froze as the wall sprang open. Grabbing the edge of the solid door that was hiding behind a reflective façade, memories fell upon him like rain saturating a thirsty ground. I know this place, he realized, peering into the dusky staircase. Entering the dim passage, he slowly exhaled and inhaled to tame the wild breath of emotions that exited his lungs moments ago. For a moment, the world behind faded. His fingers traced along the stones on the passageway, but what he felt was a hand interlocked in his, pulling him forward. Pulling him Down.

World of Arcas Origins By Ila Woolet
My husband and I grew up torn between two worlds. Outside, there were woods, frogs, dirt, and sunshine. Inside, there were video games, TVs, instant meals, and computers. In both worlds, we were surrounded by lights. While all the man-made lights could serve a noble purpose, they dimmed the most ancient and powerful lights in the evening sky. As the world became ever more distracted by screen lights, we found ourselves drawn back toward the natural night lights. We bought our first telescope, studied constellations for star hopping, then began exploring the night sky for deeper objects.

About the same time we began studying the stars, we became inspired to write a fantasy adventure story. During the day, we were creating a fantasy world. At night, we were gazing at the stars. As we searched the dark sky one night, the powerful figure of Orion—the hunter—almost demanded to enter the story. We knew there were already stories about Orion from various cultures throughout human history, but those stories seemed so removed from our world, so distant. It was time for the stars to come to life for a new generation. After all, the constellations do not just belong to the ancient world; they belong to those of us who are breathing, and seeing, and enjoying them right now. These wonderful heroes and terrible beasts needed a new story for a new age. Thus, The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister was born and now Arrows of Darkness.

Now, of course, we didn’t get rid of the old legends all together. We did what most people do while forming a creative work: borrowed, altered, and added. Otava (which comes from the Finnish name for the constellation) is the great bear Ursa Major. Many in American culture today think of it merely as the big dipper (which makes up the back half of the bear). So, we made our great bear into a culinary enthusiast who carries around his favorite “big dipper.” The end result is a loveable, powerful, and quirky character!

Creating own own story around the stars has forever changed our perspective. Now, when our family gazes at the night sky, we don’t just see Orion the constellation; we see our friend The Hunter. He’s a strong and fearless man who is quick to protect others but also quick to protect his heart. We see the Pleiades and hear Merope’s enchanting song echoing, “Mira, Mira, one name for two; the river Eridanus a playground for you.” It’s part of a song in our book about the constellation Cetus and the double star “Mira the Wonderful” that appears to ride upon his back.

There are many amazing star connections to be discovered as you journey to the World of Arcas. But don’t worry! Even if someone knows nothing about astronomy, he or she can enter the world and enjoy the ride of a great adventure. The backbone of Arcas may be the celestial universe, but the life of Arcas radiates through its memorable characters and never-ending action. It’s a fun story for the whole family, and just maybe, it can help inspire a new generation to explore the wonder and beauty of the ancient lights. These heroes still shine out of the expanse for us to enjoy.  Join the adventure as we discover them anew!

Author Bio:
B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet) is the author of the World of Arcas series. Their Arcas adventures began with The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister and now continue with Arrows of Darkness. When the Woolets aren’t working, writing, or chasing their four little girls around, they are active in their local community and church. The couple enjoys creating lyrical and literary arts, playing music together, and exploring nature. They are happily married and live in Indiana.


Arrows of Darkness #2

Hunter, Bear, & Seventh Sister #1

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Release Day Blitz: Confessed by Lisa Cardiff

Title: Confessed
Author: Lisa Cardiff
Series: Vargas Cartel #3
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Revenge will be sought.
Love will be tested.
Lives will be lost.

One minute, I could see my future with Hattie and our baby. The next, moment cured me of the illusion. Vargas blood ran through my veins and regardless of what I wanted, the darkness would always win.

Make no mistake. I will save Hattie.

I will kill every last person affiliated with the Alvarez Cartel. But then, I will set her free…

Because that’s the only way to save her from me.

Author Bio:
After spending years practicing law and a million other things, Lisa decided to pursue her dream of becoming a writer and she must confess that inventing characters is so much more fun than writing contracts and legal briefs. A native of Colorado, she lives with her husband and three children in Denver. When she isn’t managing the chaos of raising three children and owning her own business, she can be found reading or writing a book.


Confessed #3

The Bargain #1

Unveiled #2

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Release Day Blitz: One witht he Darkness by Susan Squires

Title: One with the Darkness
Author: Susan Squires
Series: Companion #6
Genre: Regency Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Cover Design: Rebecca Poole, Dreams2Media
New York Times bestselling author Susan Squires invites you into the world of two lovers who share a seductive past and a dangerous desire…

Contessa Donnatella di Poliziano has power, beauty, and—as a vampire—eternal life. Her overwhelming regret is a mistake she made centuries ago when she chose not to transform her one true love, Jergan, into a vampire too. Donnatella’s choice has deprived her of the only true love she’s ever known. But just as all seems lost, the discovery of a 300-year-old note leads her to a gift left by her old friend, Leonardo da Vinci: a machine to take her back in time to rewrite the history of her heart…

Once back in time, Donnatella’s memory of the intervening years is lost. Yet when she sees the breathtaking barbarian slave, Jergan, from afar, she feels like she has always known him. The instant attraction she feels draws them together. For Donnatella, the romance is tantalizing, awakening a passion that feels both old and new. But as the two fall in love again, a new danger threatens to tear them apart. Now Jergan’s love for Donnatella will be tested in a most perilous way—and if he fails, the two lovers will be separated again…for eternity.

“Squires combines extreme sensuality with dangerous drama.” —Romantic Times BOOKreviews
“ONE WITH THE DARKNESS is one of the finest, innovative vampire novels I've read.” --Romance Junkies

“Let me get your property, my lady,” the trader said. They turned to the back of the stall. Three men clustered round the straining barbarian, laughing as he tried to twist away. Blood dripped from his wrists where he had pulled against his shackles. He spat at them. It was his only means of defiance.
Graccus wiped his face and laughed. “Oh, he’ll be a joy to break.”

“I agree,” she said. The three yanked their gazes up, as did the barbarian. He flushed in shame. “Now unhand my new slave, sirs, so I may begin.”

“What? But I am buying him for my brothel!”

She waved the receipt scroll. “Too late.” Her She turned to the trader. “For the price I just paid, you can throw in a pair of shackles.” The trader nodded and clapped his hands. Slaves appeared with the required bindings. They unlocked the barbarian’s wrists from the poles and chained them behind his back before they released his feet. His ankles, too, were bloodied. Those green eyes stared at her, burning with intensity, as though he was still not sure what had just happened to him. Excitement churned inside her. This was the start of something—she didn’t know quite what. “Come quietly, slave,” she ordered, putting all the force of her personality behind her words, just shy of raising her Companion for compulsion. “You two—see that he does.” Two of Titus’s bodyguards nodded. Each took one of the slave’s arms and dragged him forward.

“You knew I wanted him,” Graccus was saying. The trader only shrugged. He couldn’t have gotten two thousand dinars for a slave bound for a brothel.

They pushed into the market throng. “There you are,” Titus called, hurrying over. Livia saw him frown as he registered the barbarian. “Livia Quintus, what is this? You’ve never purchased this creature!”

“I have, Titus. He was a soldier, therefore skilled in martial arts. He even speaks Latin. He’ll be a perfect bodyguard.”

“Livia, return him at once. This is no slave for a woman.”

Livia turned to her new purchase, seeing him through Titus’s eyes. Bloody and sweating, he looked fierce, with those intense green eyes and all that hair. But he was the one she wanted. She knew that as certainly as she knew her own name. “Once we clean him up you won’t recognize him.”

“He needs more than a bath to make him suitable.”

“You were the one who suggested a bodyguard slave, and now that I’ve meekly done as you ask, you rail at me.”

Titus rolled his eyes. “Meek? I would welcome meek.” Livia gestured her entourage forward. Titus sighed and fell in step. “I just hope you haven’t bitten off more than you can chew.”

Author Bio:
Susan Squires is a New York Times bestselling author known for breaking the rules of romance writing. Whatever her time period, or subject, some element of the paranormal always creeps in. She has won multiple contests for published novels and reviewer's choice awards. Publisher's Weekly named Body Electric one of the year’s most influential mass market books and One with the Shadows a Best book of the Year. Time for Eternity, the first in the DaVinci time travel series, received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly.

Susan has a Masters in English literature from UCLA and once toiled as an executive for a Fortune 500 company. Now she lives at the beach in Southern California with her husband, Harry, a writer of supernatural thrillers, and two very active Belgian Sheepdogs, who like to help her write by putting their chins on the keyboarddddddddddddddddddddddd.


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