Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Ladies Only Anthology

Worth A Shot by Cari Z
Samara Wynne thinks she’s finally found the perfect roommate, but Katie’s keeping a secret that could turn their dream home into a nightmare.

Samara Wynne was dreading getting a roommate, but Katie Hansen changed her mind. Katie is everything she could want: she likes Sam’s cooking, she shares her dog when Sam’s feeling low, and there are signs that Sam’s one-sided attraction to her renter might not be so one-sided at all. Katie is safety conscious to the point of paranoia, though, and she won’t quite tell Sam why.

When a thoughtless mistake by Sam leads to their home-sweet-home being violated, it’s the beginning of the end of everything she had hoped for them. With no home, and no Katie, what does Sam have to look forward to anymore? Fortunately for her, Katie isn’t as ready to give up on them as Sam thought.

The Woman Next Door by Helena Maeve
What’s a girl to do when her arch nemesis moves in next door?

After months of endless renovations, Ziva can’t take the racket anymore. Her commissions aren’t going to fulfill themselves and she’s nowhere near ready for her next exhibition. She is, however, more than able to give her new neighbors a piece of her mind—until she discovers that the people moving in next door aren’t new faces at all.

Yvonne Barros couldn’t be less of a stranger. Eight years ago, Ziva might even have said they were friends. That was before Yvonne destroyed her business and nearly drove her to bankruptcy. Almost a decade later and Ziva desperately wants to hate the woman who stole everything from her. Yet with every run-in, Yvonne proves to be a changed person, her sharper edges chiseled smooth, her losses now worn on her sleeve.

Unexpectedly thrust into close quarters by their living arrangements, it’s not long before Ziva and Yvonne rekindle their old connection—and with it the spark of mutual attraction. But Yvonne misled Ziva once before. What’s to say she won’t do it again—especially when she is spotted embracing another woman?

The Tiny Blue House by R.A. Padmos
I am Molly Knowles. Please, marry me.

Young chef Molly Knowles travels with her tiny blue house through the country. She isn’t sure what she is looking for, but when she tastes the food of Chiara Loss, she knows that she has found it.

After two years of hiding from the world, mourning the unexpected death of her lover, Chiara is ready to fall in love again. When Molly stumbles into Chiara’s life, both women have no choice but to accept that there is no way back.

Sometimes one day filled with food and love is all it takes.

In the Flesh by H K Carlton
Working undercover, nothing is ever as it seems...

Assigned with the unenviable task of taking down the untouchable Travino crime family, undercover ATF Agent Kate Benson and her veteran partner Mike Pennington are thrown into the seedy underworld of organized crime.

Kate is asked to draw on her past experience as a dancer and infiltrate one of Travino’s skin clubs, the In the Flesh.

Posing as Vivienne, Kate meets exotic dancer Carly. From the moment they first dance together, she can’t seem to keep her mind or her greedy hands off the dynamic dancer. Together they sizzle on-stage and off. She soon realizes she’s falling for Carly but knows from past experience beginning a relationship built on half-truths is a recipe for failure.

As Kate attempts to straddle the line between doing her job and being as honest as she can be with Carly, while still maintaining her cover, Kate and her partner, Mike, are caught snooping around the club, after-hours by none other than the mob boss himself.

And Kate knows there’s not a two-step in the world that can save them now.

Window Dressing by Lucy Felthouse
Can Jessie work with a woman with the looks of a pixie and the personality of a dragon to complete the most important task of her career?

Shop-fitter Jessie is sent to London’s Oxford Street to work on a flagship store’s front window overnight. It’s the first time she’s completed such an important task by herself, but the plans and organisation are solid—it’s just a case of getting it turned around before the store re-opens the following morning. What she’s not betting on, however, is the woman in charge of the project—Edith. She has the looks of a pixie but the personality of a dragon, and it soon becomes clear to Jessie that the job isn’t going to be plain sailing, not with Edith being awkward and putting Jessie down at every turn. As the hours drag on, Jessie somehow manages to peer beneath Edith’s frosty exterior, and much to her surprise, she kind of likes what she finds. But will she abandon her principles—and potentially risk her job—for a one-off thing?

Worth a Shot by Cari Z
Oh, Denver. God damn you and your massive influx of newcomers, your skyrocketing rental rates and your inability to produce enough housing for everybody. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the new blood, but you know how many of them were looking for a place to live? Almost all of them.

You’d think that would be good, since I needed to rent half my duplex, but in reality? It just muddied the waters with so many candidates that I couldn’t tell good from bad on paper, because everybody was trying to make themselves out to be perfect. And separating the real McCoy from the pretenders was hard. I mean, like, destroying the Death Star hard. You could see the pinhole target you were shooting for, but none of the shots went in. It was kind of a phallic metaphor, which really wasn’t my thing at all, but it fit.

Sure, maybe it was easy if a girl didn’t have standards. For instance, I could have taken the guy who showed up smelling like an open bottle of Drano with everything he owned obviously stuffed into his car. He was willing to pay cash, three months up front, but he wouldn’t give me an ID. Hell to the no, and get your beater out of my driveway before someone associates me with your Ford Fiesta, pal.

Then there was Bachelor Number Two, who seemed nice enough until we got to the subject of pets. “Your ad didn’t say anything about no dogs,” he ventured, and I nodded.

“Right, a dog would be fine.”

“Cool, cool. What about cats?”

“No problem.”

“How about a gator?”


“An alligator. I’d keep her in the tub, I promise. Except when she needs to stretch her legs, but I’d let you know before I let her out in the back. Is the fence solid?”

I didn’t know what a solid enough fence would be for an alligator, but I had a feeling that mine wasn’t going to do the trick. Thank God. “Actually, no. It’s completely porous, wouldn’t keep in a kitten, much less an alligator.”

“Aw, darn.”

The Woman Next Door by Helena Maeve
A strange wailing rose and fell on the other side of the wall. Ziva tightened her grip on the brush. The walls were solid concrete, held together by thick steel rods, a legacy of the newspaper factory they had belonged to up until the eighties, when developers had first turned their eye toward this corner of the city. Now part of an apartment block three stories high in the newly fashionable side of Brooklyn, they were supposed to be insulated against drilling and hammering alike.

At last, the din gave way to silence. Relaxing her fingers around the long stem of the brush, Ziva returned to shading in the school of nishikigoi swimming in the depths of a red Solo cup, which itself was held in the bejeweled fingers of a pope with the head of a stag. She had finished the antlers yesterday, in a furious flash of inspiration, opting for gold and green rather than the ivory-beige so common in nature.

Sinuous bodies acquired depth and contour beneath the stroke of pigment-laden bristles. The fish were smaller than she’d intended, but their multitude made them appear both charming and slightly off-putting. ‘Translucent slimy things,’ Dexter had called them when she described her idea to him. Ziva smiled at the memory. For the manager of a profitable boutique art gallery, her friend Dexter Perry took a conservative view of art. He had asked Ziva on more than one occasion why she couldn’t stick to painting some nice landscapes. Wasn’t New York inspiring enough? What about portraits?

Ziva’s answer was always the same. She didn’t choose what she painted. Her subjects chose her. Some, like the meditation on consumerism currently unfurling before her, were more allegorical. Others were suggestive—a flower blossom, a scorpion’s arced tail.

‘That’s why you’re the artist and I’m the money man,’ Dexter would say, a tad dismissive. Ziva didn’t mind. Nothing good had ever come of her trying her hand at business. She didn’t have the head for it. The last time she’d attempted it, she had driven her father’s company into bankruptcy and had wound up selling the surviving branches piecemeal.

At least the old man hadn’t lived to see his life’s work destroyed.

On the other side of the wall, the wailing resumed. Her temper already pricked by the familiar sting of memory, Ziva rubbed a paint-smeared knuckle into the narrow dip between her eyebrows.

Art was suffering, as Dexter often teased, but there were limits. The refurbishment efforts next door had been ongoing since March. Summer was almost over and still they hadn’t finished tearing down walls and replacing the plumbing.

The whine of a sanding machine kicked up another notch. Ziva’s knuckles went white around the brush. With a furious twist, she dropped it beside her palette and ripped off her apron.

The Tiny Blue House by RA Padmos
She had fallen out of love. First with the girl she had been dating for one month, three weeks and two days and, by association, with the place. It was time to face the truth and be a grown woman about it. Of course, it would be easy enough to hook up her car to the trailer and disappear with the Tiny Blue House, but she had been raised better than that. It wasn’t the first time she’d had to start a conversation with, “There’s something we have to talk about…” and would very likely not be the last, but she hated it all the same. She didn’t like to hurt her girlfriends, and breaking up did hurt. On the other hand, when it was over, it was over and no amount of wishing it could be different was going to change the facts.

Open the door of her apartment, Molly Knowles, take a deep breath and…

“This isn’t what it looks like. I can explain it…”

Sure, strictly speaking French kissing another woman could be considered an alternative form of exchanging healthy bacteria, but wasn’t it more according to Occam’s razor that the woman she was about to leave had already left her?

“Well, you made it pretty easy on me.” There was a flash of hurt pride, then Molly grinned and continued, “Thanks for the lovely weeks and be happy. See you!”

It was a perfect day, with a gentle sun and an even gentler breeze. A day to laze around and luxuriate in the feeling that she was free again without having to hurt a woman who deserved nothing but good things in her life.  It was time, however, to leave for a place she didn’t know yet.

Before she lashed down all movable objects inside the Tiny Blue House in order to keep everything safe, Molly made a big mug of tea and unfolded the old map on the grass, putting a small stone on every corner to prevent the paper from going on a journey all of its own. She stared at the map, contemplating the possibilities.

One thing she was sure of—anywhere where people lived, there would be food. People made the best of a less than ideal economic situation or lived in the middle of a hub of creative abundance and more than enough money. There were exclusive restaurants with big-name chefs and simple eateries where mom and pop cooked whatever generation after generation had always eaten. Molly would eat at their tables and when she liked what she tasted, she would step inside the kitchen and ask, “Can I observe? Will you teach me? Do you have a job for me?” And while many cooks guarded their creations and were not willing to share all the details with a stranger, most were happy to show her a few of their personal tricks of the trade as soon as they had established she was honest in her praise and genuinely curious. She loved food, and that made her one of the tribe of lovers of all things edible.

She walked around the map, recognizing places she had already visited. There had been a town in rural Texas where a woman had refused to believe that she couldn’t barbecue a whole pig as well as any man, let alone a man who had a reputation to lose. The meat had been so succulent, it had brought tears to Molly’s eyes. That night she had lain in the strong arms of the cook and kissed her dark brown skin. “Give it time,” the woman had whispered in her ear. “It’s half of the secret.”

In the Flesh by HK Carlton
ATF Agents Kathrin Benson and Mike Pennington sat opposite their shared desk when Special Agent Roger Morrison popped his head into the cubicle. “My office in five.” Without waiting for acknowledgment, he strode down the hall.

Minutes later, they eagerly entered Morrison’s office. Before sitting, the boss hefted an evidence box onto the desk, Travino scrawled across the top.

“Omar ‘Vino’ Travino?” Mike leaned forward and lifted the lid.

“The mob boss?” Kate peered over Mike’s shoulder.

“This is your next assignment.”

A ripple of anxious excitement shot through Kate’s belly.

“This is big. Travino crime-family big.”

He had her attention.

“Read up on the family history. We have little time to prepare.”

“How much time, Cap?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

Mike and Kate exchanged glances.

“In a joint-effort task force, several agencies have already been integrated into Travino family businesses. The DEA, Vice Squad, fellow ATF agents, plus Guns and Gangs, all headed up by the Organized Crime Unit. We’re talking long-term investigation. Some undercovers have been in for years. They’ve got people on the inside. I’m talking inner sanctum.”

He pushed another folder toward Kate. “I’m aware you two have been wrapping the Levinson case and it’s difficult to keep up on what’s going on in the real world, but as of this moment, we have two agents unaccounted for.”

A shiver traveled Kate’s spine. The fear of being made was a real-and-present danger. Were these agents MIA or DOA? With Travino’s history, the latter seemed imminent.

“From all reports, Travino’s about to receive a massive shipping container of drugs, arms, maybe even human cargo between now and next month.”

Window Dressing by Lucy Felthouse
With a sigh of relief, I followed the satnav’s instructions and indicated right, swinging the van into the side road off London’s Oxford Street.

“You have reached your destination,” remarked the posh voice coming from the machine.

“Thank fuck for that,” I shot back, removing the device from the windscreen, then wiping at the telltale ring it left behind on the glass with my sleeve, hoping to remove any temptation for potential thieves. No doubt they swarmed around this area, tourist Mecca as it was. I didn’t want them to catch me out.

I stowed away the satnav, switched off the van’s ignition and grabbed all my stuff. Hopping out onto the road, I then locked the van and pocketed the keys. Then, wiping my damp palms on my black work trousers, I approached the rear door of the shop where I was to work.

Come on, get a grip, Jessie! You may be new at this, but you know what you’re doing. You’ve got this.

I wasn’t totally insane to be nervous. I’d been working for the shop-fitting company for just over a year now, and it was great. I really enjoyed the work, the variety. But this was the first time I’d been sent out on a job by myself. It hadn’t been intentional, either—the job was last-minute, and the client had made it worth my employer’s while. Normally there would be a team of two coming here, but there was another big job, one that needed the more experienced fitters on board. Therefore, I’d been pulled off that task, in order to do this one. Alone.

Adding more worry was the warning one of my colleagues had given me on finding out where I was being sent. ‘You watch out for that Edith woman, Jessie. She may look like a pixie, but she’s actually more of a dragon. She frightens the bloody life out of me.’

The warning ringing in my ears, I took a deep breath and pressed the doorbell. I could do this. I could. I’d made it all the way from Leeds to London, navigating busy motorways and the complete insanity that was England’s capital city, venturing right into the heart—the craziest of the crazy. Fortunately, by the time I’d hit the West End, the traffic wasn’t too bad, given that the shops were closing and rush hour had been and gone. There were still morons galore, naturally—honking taxi drivers, swerving, lane-hopping cyclists, oblivious rickshaw drivers, suicidal pedestrians—but I’d kept my cool throughout, telling myself I was so close to the end of my journey that I could almost touch it. Taste it.

And here I was, at the back entrance of the flagship store of the world-famous fashion chain, ready to change over its window display in time for when the shop reopened in the morning. I glanced at my watch, relaxed a little. It was ten p.m. Eleven whole hours until opening time. No problem, even for a relative newbie like me.

The door opened a crack and a sliver of a dark face peered out at me. “Yes?”

“Oh, hi. I’m Jessie—from the shop-fitters? Here to work on your window display?”

The woman—the voice had given it away, as she was still peering through the crack between the door and its frame—eyed me up. The black trousers, black T-shirt, black fleece—the latter two bearing the name of the company I worked for—clearly weren’t enough. Turning her attention to the van behind me—emblazoned with the company name in huge letters—she now seemed convinced.

“All right,” she said, opening the door wider and stepping back to let me through. “Come on in.”


“I’m Jacqueline. Edith’s already in the window. She’s the one in charge.”

I nodded. “Okay—lead the way.” I followed Jacqueline through the dimly lit storeroom. I’d known instantly she wasn’t Edith, because she looked nothing like a pixie. More like a goddess. She had a curly black afro, curves you could lose yourself in for days and a wiggle that would have turned me instantly if I wasn’t already into women.

Blinking as we emerged into the blazing lights of the shop floor, I continued in Jacqueline’s wake, adjusting my ponytail and fixing a smile on my face as we grew closer to the window…and Edith. She was the big cheese—when it came to the window design and execution, anyway—so I needed to make a good impression. Hopefully she’d give good feedback to my boss, and I’d get more projects like this in future. Maybe even a raise—a girl could dream, right?

“Hi,” I said as we came within a couple of paces of my soon-to-be workspace. “I’m Jessie. Pleased to meet you.”

After a brief pause, the pixie took the hand I was holding out and shook it. Firm, confident, but brief. She was no-nonsense, this woman. But I’d known that already.

Author Bios:
Cari Z.
Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut and said, "See ya!" She also started writing, because some things she just thought she could do better. She's still climbing that ladder, but can't stop herself from writing, or from sharing what she creates.

Cari enjoys a wide range of literary genres, from the classics (get 'im, Ahab) to science fiction and fantasy of all types, to historical fiction and reference materials (no, seriously, there are so many great encyclopedias out there). She writes in a wide range of genres as well, but somehow 90% of what she produces ends up falling into the broad and exciting category of m/m erotica. There’s a sprinkling of f/m and f/f and even m/f/m in her repertoire, but her true love is man love. And there's a lot of love to go around.

Cari has published short stories, novellas and novels with numerous print and e-presses, and she also offers up a tremendous amount of free content on, under the name Carizabeth.

Helena Maeve
Helena Maeve has always been a globe trotter with a fondness for adventure, but only recently has she started putting to paper the many stories she's collected in her excursions. When she isn't writing erotic romance novels, she can usually be found in an airport or on a plane, furiously penning in her trusty little notebook.
RA Padmos
In no particular order: woman, writer, in a relationship with my wife since 1981 (though we had to wait until 2001 until we could actually get married), mother of two grown sons, owner of cats (I can pretend, can’t I?), reader and a lot more.

I write in different genres under different names. I’m also S.Dora for my M/M erotic romance and Ella Laurance for my M/F erotic romance.
HK Carlton
H-K lives in Canada with her hard-working hubby. She has two very handsome grown sons and a beautiful teenage daughter.

She has been an avid reader all her life. Her first love is historical romance so it would come as no surprise that her favourite book of all time is Jane Eyre. But she'll read almost anything that captures her attention and imagination. She loves nothing more than to find a good book that she can't put down. She is a hopeless romantic and prefers happy endings.

Lucy Felthouse
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women's Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter.

Cari Z

Helena Maeve

RA Padmos

HK Carlton

Lucy Felthouse


All the Frogs in Manhattan by Carrie Aarons

Title: All the Frogs in Manhattan
Author: Carrie Aarons
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: March 5, 2017
Cover Design: Okay Creations, Inc
You know how Cinderella had the whole glass slipper, pumpkin carriage, fairy godmother thing?

Yeah…with foot-destroying stilettos, Uber, and my Twitter horoscope, my life is far from a happily ever after.

In fact, instead of Prince Charming, I end up dating every slimy, scaly, brainless frog in the kingdom of Manhattan. And by frog, I mean all of the stereotypical bad guys that Mom and Lifetime movies warned you about.

The meathead player.
The mommy's boy.
The namedropper.
The cheapskate.

If they suck at relationships, I’ve probably kissed those cold, clammy lips in the hopes of finding love. Until one day, when one man with commitment issues offers to help me find the Romeo to my Juliet.

But what happens when the frog who was never supposed to turn into a prince kisses you at midnight? Ok fine, he propositioned me for some afternoon delight after brunch, but not everything can be straight out of a fairytale.

Author Bio:
Author of romance novels such as Red Card and On Thin Ice, Carrie Aarons writes sexy, swoony and sarcastic characters who won't get out of her head until she puts them down on a page.

Carrie has wanted to be an author since the first time she opened a book, and can’t imagine a better or more maddening profession.

When she isn't in a writing coma, Carrie is chasing her Great Dane/Lab puppy through the dog parks of New Jersey, or trying to make her husband binge watch the latest Netflix craze.

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