Friday, August 31, 2018

August Book of the Month: Gray's Shadow by KA Merikan


Summary:
--- There can be no shadow without the man to cast it. ---

Gray. Lost his twin. Will never be complete. Works alone.
Shadow. Monster? Human? Exists to be Gray’s one true companion.

After losing his twin brother, Gray has devoted his life to the Kings of Hell MC. He will do anything to protect his family and that means anything.

Even sell his own shadow to the devil.

Following a fire that left him without one arm, Gray feels pushed to the sidelines. In order to prove to his club that he is still capable of completing dangerous tasks, he will have to team up with the strange creature from the Other Side. Tall, inhumanly strong, and menacing despite the handsome exterior, Shadow is just the tool Gray needs.

The moment Shadow lays his eyes on Gray, he wants to crawl under Gray’s skin and make the human his.

Gray on the other hand isn’t willing to get attached to a monster destined to do the devil’s bidding and disappear once his time is up. Rejected, Shadow has to do everything in his power to convince his human that they belong together.

But as the clock ticks away precious minutes of Shadow’s existence, Gray will have to choose between his loyalty to the Kings of Hell MC and responsibility for the creature he brought into this world.

*****

“Do you feel me running through your veins?”
Gray nodded.

*****

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: motorcycle club, alternative lifestyles, demons, monster, tattoos, secrets, crime, gothic, grief, mourning, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, fish out of water, opposites attract, demisexuality, gentle giant
Genre: Dark, paranormal M/M romance
Erotic content: Scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes
Length: ~150,000 words (Book 4 in the series)

WARNING: This story contains scenes of violence, offensive language, and morally ambiguous characters.


Gray's had a bit of a rough time lately: he lost his twin brother, his arm, and made a pact with the demon, Baal.  Because of Gray's pact, Shadow has been given the chance to live inside a human form but does that make him human or monster?  Gray has devoted his entire life to the Kings of Hell but now with only one arm he finds himself having to prove he is still worthy of his position.  Reluctantly Gray finds that Shadow may be his chance to keep his place amongst his brothers but will he be willing to give his heart to him nowing the clock is ticking against Shadow?

OMG!!! I say that with complete honesty because I am so NOT an OMG-kind-of-a-gal.  I enjoy a good motorcycle club story but I'm the first to admit they aren't exactly what I'd classify as my go-to-trope so when I first had the opportunity last year to read Laurant & the Beast I thought it sounded interesting so I decided to give it a go.  It was amazing and one of the best books I read in 2017.  Each entry in the Kings of Hell MC series has been amazing and although I don't think any of the pairings quite reached me as much as Laurant and Beast, I have loved them all.  Well, Gray and Shadow are no different.

So lets take a look at our two main guys.  I knew Gray's story was going to be emotional just because he seemed to be a bit of a conundrum throughout the first four.  You could tell he had a warm loving heart but he was also ruthless and determined when it came to getting the job done.  Having formed that opinion of him already I knew he was going to be a tough one to find happiness especially with what he lost.  I wanted to hug him and tell him he was still the same Gray he always was and having lost his arm didn't change that but then I also wanted to kick his ass with how he first treats Shadow.  Okay that's not entirely true because Shadow is here because of Gray's pact with Baal and that makes him suspect and he does some not-so-good stuff but he's also new to his human form and needs guidance.  I guess what I'm saying is even though I wanted to give Gray a knuckle-rap to the head more than a once I also understand his thought patterns.

As for Shadow, well I won't give too much away but I will say that his innocence is endearing even if some of his early actions are not.  I have read vampires, shifters, demons of all kinds who survive on pretty much anything imaginable but I have never read a character(demon or otherwise) that survives on rats, creepy crawlies, and rotting, moldy food and still want to wrap him up in a huge bear hug because he's so adorable.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Shadow is adorable.  How Gray is able to stay away for so long is beyond me.

In Gray's Shadow, we get to see the characters that we have come to love in the previous installments, to see where they are and how they are adjusting to their situations which sometimes can take away from the main story but not in this series.  KA Merikan has created a world with Kings of Hell MC that is unforgettable and will grab you from the very first page.  If asked whether you can start with Gray's Shadow, I would have to say no.  Yes, each entry features a different couple with their own troubles but each one is a part of an ongoing journey but personally,  I would not recommend starting anywhere but the beginning, not too mention these are some of the most amazing and well written stories I've ever read, you don't want to miss them.  If you haven't started Kings of Hell yet but don't like to wait between books than you might want to wait until the concluding story, In the Arms of the Beast, is released but I highly recommend placing this series on your TBR list and near the top, but if you are like me and have been reading them as they come out then you don't want to wait another minute to read Gray and Shadow's journey. This is literally an edge-of-your-seat kind of story.

RATING: 


Shadow opened one eye, watching the water as if it were toxic waste, but in the end he followed Gray’s request, and stepped in with one foot. His slouching shoulders rose at once, and the ruby eyes glinted in wonder. “It’s warm,” he said and packed his massive body into the tub with no lingering hesitation.

Gray shut his eyes when scented drops hit his face. “Well, yeah. And it smells nice, doesn’t it?” he asked before mentally chastising himself for talking to the creature as if he were a child.

Shadow gathered the water into his hands and poured it over his head time and time again until his thick hair ran straight down and into the water. He seemed to love splashing about, but while soaking in scented water was a good start, he still needed a wash. “It does. I was scared it would be freezing like last time,” he said with a genuine smile.

Right. Last time. When Gray had blasted Shadow with an icy shower as punishment for the attack. Being alone with Shadow had Gray on pins and needles, but he had since decided Shadow’s behavior shouldn’t be measured against that of humans. Still, it was hard to comprehend that a creature who killed two men less than an hour ago could be ‘scared’ of a cold bath.

“Back then, I was angry at you. Needed you to cool off,” Gray said.

The red eyes were pinned to Gray’s face, hungry for knowledge. “Why?”

Gray leaned on the edge of the tub, watching the strands of hair float close to the surface. He was glad he’d chosen to use the bath milk, because it gave the water a tint that obscured details of Shadow’s anatomy that he shouldn’t be wanting to see.





Author Bio:
K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.

K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.


FACEBOOK  /  TWITTER  /  WEBSITE
PINTEREST  /  AMAZON  /  GOODREADS 
EMAIL: kamerikan@gmail.com



Gray's Shadow #4
AMAZON US  /  AMAZON UK  /  GOODREADS TBR

Series

📘🎥Friday's Film Adaptation🎥📘: Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding


Summary:
Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:
a. lose 7 pounds
b. stop smoking
c. develop Inner Poise

"123 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds in the middle of the night? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier? Repulsive, horrifying notion), alcohol units 4 (excellent), cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow), number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)..."

Bridget Jones' Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget's permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.

Over the course of the year, Bridget loses a total of 72 pounds but gains a total of 74. She remains, however, optimistic. Through it all, Bridget will have you helpless with laughter, and — like millions of readers the world round — you'll find yourself shouting, "Bridget Jones is me!"


January: An Exceptionally Bad Start

Sunday 1 January 
129 lbs. (but post-Christmas), alcohol units 14 (but effectively covers 2 days as 4 hours of party was on New Year's Day), cigarettes 22, calories 5424. 

Food consumed today:
2 pkts Emmenthal cheese slices
14 cold new potatoes
2 Bloody Marys (count as food as contain Worcester sauce and tomatoes)
1/3 Ciabatta loaf with Brie
coriander leaves--1/2 packet
12 Milk Tray (best to get rid of all Christmas confectionery in one go and make fresh start tomorrow) 
13 cocktail sticks securing cheese and pineapple
Portion Una Alconbury's turkey curry, peas and bananas
Portion Una Alconbury's Raspberry Surprise made with Bourbon biscuits, tinned raspberries, eight gallons of whipped cream, decorated with glacé cherries and angelica. 

Noon. London: my flat. Ugh. The last thing on earth I feel physically, emotionally or mentally equipped to do is drive to Una and Geoffrey Alconbury's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet in Grafton Underwood. Geoffrey and Una Alconbury are my parents' best friends and, as Uncle Geoffrey never tires of reminding me, have known me since I was running round the lawn with no clothes on. My mother rang up at 8:30 in the morning last August Bank Holiday and forced me to promise to go. She approached it via a cunningly circuitous route.

"Oh, hello, darling. I was just ringing to see what you wanted for Christmas."

"Christmas?"

"Would you like a surprise, darling?"

"No!" I bellowed. "Sorry. I mean ..."

"I wondered if you'd like a set of wheels for your suitcase."

"But I haven't got a suitcase."

"Why don't I get you a little suitcase with wheels attached. You know, like air hostesses have."

"I've already got a bag."

"Oh, darling, you can't go around with that tatty green canvas thing. You look like some sort of Mary Poppins person who's fallen on hard times. Just a little compact case with a pull-out handle. It's amazing how much you can get in. Do you want it in navy on red or red on navy?"

"Mum. It's eight-thirty in the morning. It's summer. It's very hot. I don't want an air-hostess bag."

"Julie Enderby's got one. She says she never uses anything else."

"Who's Julie Enderby?"

"You know Julie, darling! Mavis Enderby's daughter. Julie! The one that's got that super-dooper job at Arthur Andersen ..."

"Mum ..."

"Always takes it on her trips ..."

"I don't want a little bag with wheels on."

"I'll tell you what. Why don't Jamie, Daddy and I all club together and get you a proper new big suitcase and a set of wheels?"

Exhausted, I held the phone away from my ear, puzzling about where the missionary luggage-Christmas-gift zeal had stemmed from. When I put the phone back she was saying: "... in actual fact, you can get them with a compartment with bottles for your bubble bath and things. The other thing I thought of was a shopping cart."

"Is there anything you'd like for Christmas?" I said desperately, blinking in the dazzling Bank Holiday sunlight.

"No, no," she said airily. "I've got everything I need. Now, darling," she suddenly hissed, "you will be coming to Geoffrey and Una's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet this year, won't you?"

"Ah. Actually, I ..." I panicked wildly. What could I pretend to be doing? "... think I might have to work on New Year's Day."

"That doesn't matter. You can drive up after work. Oh, did I mention? Malcolm and Elaine Darcy are coming and bringing Mark with them. Do you remember Mark, darling? He's one of those top-notch barristers. Masses of money. Divorced. It doesn't start till eight."

Oh God. Not another strangely dressed opera freak with bushy hair burgeoning from a side-part. "Mum, I've told you. I don't need to be fixed up with ..."

"Now come along, darling. Una and Geoffrey have been holding the New Year buffet since you were running round the lawn with no clothes on! Of course you're going to come. And you'll be able to use your new suitcase."

11:45 p.m. Ugh. First day of New Year has been day of horror. Cannot quite believe I am once again starting the year in a single bed in my parents' house. It is too humiliating at my age. I wonder if they'll smell it if I have a fag out of the window. Having skulked at home all day, hoping hangover would clear, I eventually gave up and set off for the Turkey Curry Buffet far too late. When I got to the Alconburys' and rang their entire-tune-of-town-hall-clock-style doorbell I was still in a strange world of my own--nauseous, vile-headed, acidic. I was also suffering from road-rage residue after inadvertently getting on to the M6 instead of the M1 and having to drive halfway to Birmingham before I could find anywhere to turn round. I was so furious I kept jamming my foot down to the floor on the accelerator pedal to give vent to my feelings, which is very dangerous. I watched resignedly as Una Alconbury's form--intriguingly deformed through the ripply glass door--bore down on me in a fuchsia two-piece.

"Bridget! We'd almost given you up for lost! Happy New Year! Just about to start without you."

She seemed to manage to kiss me, get my coat off, hang it over the banister, wipe her lipstick off my cheek and make me feel incredibly guilty all in one movement, while I leaned against the ornament shelf for support.

"Sorry. I got lost."

"Lost? Durr! What are we going to do with you? Come on in!"

She led me through the frosted-glass doors into the lounge, shouting, "She got lost, everyone!"

"Bridget! Happy New Year!" said Geoffrey Alconbury, clad in a yellow diamond-patterned sweater. He did a jokey Bob Hope step then gave me the sort of hug which Boots would send straight to the police station.

"Hahumph," he said, going red in the face and pulling his trousers up by the waistband. "Which junction did you come off at?"

"Junction nineteen, but there was a diversion ..."

"Junction nineteen! Una, she came off at Junction nineteen! You've added an hour to your journey before you even started. Come on, let's get you a drink. How's your love life, anyway?"

Oh God. Why can't married people understand that this is no longer a polite question to ask? We wouldn't rush up to them and roar, "How's your marriage going? Still having sex?" Everyone knows that dating in your thirties is not the happy-go-lucky free-for-all it was when you were twenty-two and that the honest answer is more likely to be, "Actually, last night my married lover appeared wearing suspenders and a darling little Angora crop-top, told me he was gay/a sex addict/a narcotic addict/a commitment phobic and beat me up with a dildo," than, "Super, thanks."

Not being a natural liar, I ended up mumbling shamefacedly to Geoffrey, "Fine," at which point he boomed, "So you still haven't got a feller!"

"Bridget! What are we going to do with you!" said Una. "You career girls! I don't know! Can't put it off forever, you know. Tick-tock-tick-tock."

"Yes. How does a woman manage to get to your age without being married?" roared Brian Enderby (married to Mavis, used to be president of the Rotary in Kettering), waving his sherry in the air. Fortunately my dad rescued me.

"I'm very pleased to see you, Bridget," he said, taking my arm. "Your mother has the entire Northamptonshire constabulary poised to comb the county with toothbrushes for your dismembered remains. Come and demonstrate your presence so I can start enjoying myself. How's the be-wheeled suitcase?"

"Big beyond all sense. How are the ear-hair clippers?"

"Oh, marvelously--you know--clippy."

It was all right, I suppose. I would have felt a bit mean if I hadn't turned up, but Mark Darcy ... Yuk. Every time my mother's rung up for weeks it's been, "Of course you remember the Darcys, darling. They came over when we were living in Buckingham and you and Mark played in the paddling pool!" or, "Oh! Did I mention Malcolm and Elaine are bringing Mark with them to Una's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet? He's just back from America, apparently. Divorced. He's looking for a house in Holland Park. Apparently he had the most terrible time with his wife. Japanese. Very cruel race."

Then next time, as if out of the blue, "Do you remember Mark Darcy, darling? Malcolm and Elaine's son? He's one of these super-dooper top-notch lawyers. Divorced. Elaine says he works all the time and he's terribly lonely. I think he might be coming to Una's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet, actually."

I don't know why she didn't just come out with it and say, "Darling, do shag Mark Darcy over the turkey curry, won't you? He's very rich."

"Come along and meet Mark," Una Alconbury singsonged before I'd even had time to get a drink down me. Being set up with a man against your will is one level of humiliation, but being literally dragged into it by Una Alconbury while caring for an acidic hangover, watched by an entire roomful of friends of your parents, is on another plane altogether.

The rich, divorced-by-cruel-wife Mark--quite tall--was standing with his back to the room, scrutinizing the contents of the Alconburys' bookshelves: mainly leather-bound series of books about the Third Reich, which Geoffrey sends off for from Reader's Digest. It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It's like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting "Cathy" and banging your head against a tree.

"Mark!" said Una, as if she was one of Santa Claus's fairies. "I've got someone nice for you to meet."

He turned round, revealing that what had seemed from the back like a harmless navy sweater was actually a V-neck diamond-patterned in shades of yellow and blue--as favored by the more elderly of the nation's sports reporters. As my friend Tom often remarks, it's amazing how much time and money can be saved in the world of dating by close attention to detail. A white sock here, a pair of red braces there, a gray slip-on shoe, a swastika, are as often as not all one needs to tell you there's no point writing down phone numbers and forking out for expensive lunches because it's never going to be a runner.

"Mark, this is Colin and Pam's daughter, Bridget," said Una, going all pink and fluttery. "Bridget works in publishing, don't you, Bridget?"

"I do indeed," I for some reason said, as if I were taking part in a Capital radio phone-in and was about to ask Una if I could "say hello" to my friends Jude, Sharon and Tom, my brother Jamie, everyone in the office, my mum and dad, and last of all all the people at the Turkey Curry Buffet.

"Well, I'll leave you two young people together," said Una. "Durr! I expect you're sick to death of us old fuddy-duddies."

"Not at all," said Mark Darcy awkwardly with a rather unsuccessful attempt at a smile, at which Una, after rolling her eyes, putting a hand to her bosom and giving a gay tinkling laugh, abandoned us with a toss of her head to a hideous silence.

"I. Um. Are you reading any, ah ... Have you read any good books lately?" he said.

Oh, for God's sake.

I racked my brain frantically to think when I last read a proper book. The trouble with working in publishing is that reading in your spare time is a bit like being a dustman and snuffling through the pig bin in the evening. I'm halfway through Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, which Jude lent me, but I didn't think Mark Darcy, though clearly odd, was ready to accept himself as a Martian quite yet. Then I had a brainwave.

"Backlash, actually, by Susan Faludi," I said triumphantly. Hah! I haven't exactly read it as such, but feel I have as Sharon has been ranting about it so much. Anyway, completely safe option as no way diamond-pattern-jumpered goody-goody would have read five-hundred-page feminist treatise.

"Ah. Really?" he said. "I read that when it first came out. Didn't you find there was rather a lot of special pleading?"

"Oh, well, not too much ...," I said wildly, racking my brains for a way to get off the subject. "Have you been staying with your parents over New Year?"

"Yes," he said eagerly. "You too?"

"Yes. No. I was at a party in London last night. Bit hungover, actually." I gabbed nervously so that Una and Mum wouldn't think I was so useless with men I was failing to talk to even Mark Darcy. "But then I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day, don't you? Since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system. Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, in order to ease your hangover. I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second."

"Maybe you should get something to eat," he said, then suddenly bolted off toward the buffet, leaving me standing on my own by the bookshelf while everybody stared at me, thinking, "So that's why Bridget isn't married. She repulses men."

The worst of it was that Una Alconbury and Mum wouldn't leave it at that. They kept making me walk round with trays of gherkins and glasses of cream sherry in a desperate bid to throw me into Mark Darcy's path yet again. In the end they were so crazed with frustration that the second I got within four feet of him with the gherkins Una threw herself across the room like Will Carling and said, "Mark, you must take Bridget's telephone number before you go, then you can get in touch when you're in London."

I couldn't stop myself turning bright red. I could feel it climbing up my neck. Now Mark would think I'd put her up to it.

"I'm sure Bridget's life in London is quite full enough already, Mrs. Alconbury," he said. Humph. It's not that I wanted him to take my phone number or anything, but I didn't want him to make it perfectly obvious to everyone that he didn't want to. As I looked down I saw that he was wearing white socks with a yellow bumblebee motif.

"Can't I tempt you with a gherkin?" I said, to show I had had a genuine reason for coming over, which was quite definitely gherkin-based rather than phone-number-related.

"Thank you, no," he said, looking at me with some alarm.

"Sure? Stuffed olive?" I pressed on.

"No, really."

"Silverskin onion?" I encouraged. "Beetroot cube?"

"Thank you," he said desperately, taking an olive.

"Hope you enjoy it," I said triumphantly.

Toward the end I saw him being harangued by his mother and Una, who marched him over toward me and stood just behind while he said stiffly, "Do you need driving back to London? I'm staying here but I could get my car to take you."

"What, all on its own?" I said.

He blinked at me.

"Durr! Mark has a company car and a driver, silly," said Una.

"Thank you, that's very kind," I said. "But I shall be taking one of my trains in the morning."

2 a.m. Oh, why am I so unattractive? Why? Even a man who wears bumblebee socks thinks I am horrible. Hate the New Year. Hate everyone. Except Daniel Cleaver. Anyway, have got giant tray-sized bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk left over from Christmas on dressing table, also amusing joke gin and tonic miniature. Am going to consume them and have fag.

Tuesday 3 January 
130 lbs. (terrifying slide into obesity--why? why?), alcohol units 6 (excellent), cigarettes 23 (v.g.), calories 2472. 

9 a.m. Ugh. Cannot face thought of going to work. Only thing which makes it tolerable is thought of seeing Daniel again, but even that is inadvisable since am fat, have spot on chin, and desire only to sit on cushion eating chocolate and watching Xmas specials. It seems wrong and unfair that Christmas, with its stressful and unmanageable financial and emotional challenges, should first be forced upon one wholly against one's will, then rudely snatched away just when one is starting to get into it. Was really beginning to enjoy the feeling that normal service was suspended and it was OK to lie in bed as long as you want, put anything you fancy into your mouth, and drink alcohol whenever it should chance to pass your way, even in the mornings. Now suddenly we are all supposed to snap into self-discipline like lean teenage greyhounds.

10 p.m. Ugh. Perpetua, slightly senior and therefore thinking she is in charge of me, was at her most obnoxious and bossy, going on and on to the point of utter boredom about latest half-million-pound property she is planning to buy with her rich-but-overbred boyfriend, Hugo: "Yars, yars, well it is north-facing but they've done something frightfully clever with the light."

I looked at her wistfully, her vast, bulbous bottom swathed in a tight red skirt with a bizarre three-quarter-length striped waistcoat strapped across it. What a blessing to be born with such Sloaney arrogance. Perpetua could be the size of a Renault Espace and not give it a thought. How many hours, months, years, have I spent worrying about weight while Perpetua has been happily looking for lamps with porcelain cats as bases around the Fulham Road? She is missing out on a source of happiness, anyway. It is proved by surveys that happiness does not come from love, wealth or power but the pursuit of attainable goals: and what is a diet if not that?

On way home in end-of-Christmas denial I bought a packet of cut-price chocolate tree decorations and a £3.69 bottle of sparkling wine from Norway, Pakistan or similar. I guzzled them by the light of the Christmas tree, together with a couple of mince pies, the last of the Christmas cake and some Stilton, while watching Eastenders, imagining it was a Christmas special.

Now, though, I feel ashamed and repulsive. I can actually feel the fat splurging out from my body. Never mind. Sometimes you have to sink to a nadir of toxic fat envelopment in order to emerge, phoenix-like, from the chemical wasteland as a purged and beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer figure. Tomorrow new Spartan health and beauty regime will begin.

Mmmm. Daniel Cleaver, though. Love his wicked dissolute air, while being v. successful and clever. He was being v. funny today, telling everyone about his aunt thinking the onyx kitchen-roll holder his mother had given her for Christmas was a model of a penis. Was really v. amusing about it. Also asked me if I got anything nice for Christmas in rather flirty way. Think might wear short black skirt tomorrow.

Wednesday 4 January 
131 lbs. (state of emergency now as if fat has been stored in capsule form over Christmas and is being slowly released under skin), alcohol units 5 (better), cigarettes 20, calories 700 (v.g.).

4 p.m. Office. State of emergency. Jude just rang up from her portable phone in flood of tears, and eventually managed to explain, in a sheep's voice, that she had just had to excuse herself from a board meeting (Jude is Head of Futures at Brightlings) as she was about to burst into tears and was now trapped in the ladies' with Alice Cooper eyes and no makeup bag. Her boyfriend, Vile Richard (self-indulgent commitment phobic), whom she has been seeing on and off for eighteen months, had chucked her for asking him if he wanted to come on holiday with her. Typical, but Jude naturally was blaming it all on herself.

"I'm co-dependent. I asked for too much to satisfy my own neediness rather than need. Oh, if only I could turn back the clock."

I immediately called Sharon and an emergency summit has been scheduled for 6:30 in Café Rouge. I hope I can get away without bloody Perpetua kicking up.

11 p.m. Strident evening. Sharon immediately launched into her theory on the Richard situation: "Emotional fuckwittage," which is spreading like wildfire among men over thirty. As women glide from their twenties to thirties, Shazzer argues, the balance of power subtly shifts. Even the most outrageous minxes lose their nerve, wrestling with the first twinges of existential angst: fears of dying alone and being found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian. Stereotypical notions of shelves, spinning wheels and sexual scrapheaps conspire to make you feel stupid, no matter how much time you spend thinking about Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon.

"And men like Richard," fumed Sharon, "play on the chink in the armor to wriggle out of commitment, maturity, honor and the natural progression of things between a man and a woman."

By this time Jude and I were going, "Shhh, shhh," out of the corners of our mouths and sinking down into our coats. After all, there is nothing so unattractive to a man as strident feminism.

"How dare he say you were getting too serious by asking to go on holiday with him?" yelled Sharon. "What is he talking about?"

Thinking moonily about Daniel Cleaver, I ventured that not all men are like Richard. At which point Sharon started on a long illustrative list of emotional fuckwittage in progress in our friends: one whose boyfriend of thirteen years refuses even to discuss living together; another who went out with a man four times who then chucked her because it was getting too serious; another who was pursued by a bloke for three months with impassioned proposals of marriage, only to find him ducking out three weeks after she succumbed and repeating the whole process with her best friend.

"We women are only vulnerable because we are a pioneer generation daring to refuse to compromise in love and relying on our own economic power. In twenty years' time men won't even dare start with fuckwittage because we will just laugh in their faces," bellowed Sharon.

At this point Alex Walker, who works in Sharon's company, strolled in with a stunning blonde who was about eight times as attractive as him. He ambled over to us to say hi.

"Is this your new girlfriend?" asked Sharon.

"Well. Huh. You know, she thinks she is, but we're not going out, we're just sleeping together. I ought to stop it really, but, well ...," he said, smugly.

"Oh, that is just such crap, you cowardly, dysfunctional little schmuck. Right. I'm going to talk to that woman," said Sharon, getting up. Jude and I forcibly restrained her while Alex, looking panic-stricken, rushed back, to continue his fuckwittage unrumbled.

Eventually the three of us worked out a strategy for Jude. She must stop beating herself over the head with Women Who Love Too Much and instead think more toward Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, which will help her to see Richard's behavior less as a sign that she is co-dependent and loving too much and more in the light of him being like a Martian rubber band which needs to stretch away in order to come back.

"Yes, but does that mean I should call him or not?" said Jude.

"No," said Sharon, just as I was saying, "Yes."

After Jude had gone--because she has to get up at 5:45 to go to the gym and see her personal shopper before work starts at 8:30 (mad)--Sharon and I suddenly were filled with remorse and self-loathing for not advising Jude simply to get rid of Vile Richard because he is vile. But then, as Sharon pointed out, last time we did that they got back together and she told him everything we'd said in a fit of reconciliatory confession and now it is cripplingly embarrassing every time we see him and he thinks we are the Bitch Queens from Hell--which, as Jude points out, is a misapprehension because, although we have discovered our Inner Bitches, we have not yet unlocked them.

Thursday 5 January 
129 lbs. (excellent progress--2 lbs. of fat spontaneously combusted through joy and sexual promise), alcohol units 6 (v.g. for party), cigarettes 12 (continuing good work), calories 1258 (love has eradicated need to pig out). 

11 a.m. Office. Oh my God. Daniel Cleaver just sent me a message. Was trying to work on CV without Perpetua noticing (in preparation for improving career) when Message Pending suddenly flashed up on top of screen. Delighted by, well, anything--as always am if is not work--I quickly pressed RMS Execute and nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw Cleave at the bottom of the message. I instantly thought he had been able to tap into the computer and see that I was not getting on with my work. But then I read the message:

Message Jones
You appear to have forgotten your skirt. As I think is made perfectly clear in your contract of employment, staff are expected to be fully dressed at all times. 
Cleave 

Hah! Undeniably flirtatious. Thought for a little while whilst pretending to study tedious-beyond-belief manuscript from lunatic. Have never messaged Daniel Cleaver before but brilliant thing about messaging system is you can be really quite cheeky and informal, even to your boss. Also can spend ages practicing. This is what sent.

Message Cleave
Sir, am appalled by message. Whilst skirt could reasonably be described as a little on the skimpy side (thrift being ever our watchword in editorial), consider it gross misrepresentation to describe said skirt as absent, and considering contacting union. 
Jones 

Waited in frenzy of excitement for reply. Sure enough. Message Pending quickly flashed up. Pressed RMS:

Will whoever has thoughtlessly removed the edited script of KAFKA'S MOTORBIKE from my desk PLEASE have the decency to return it immediately. 
Diane 

Aargh. After that: zilch.

Noon. Oh God. Daniel has not replied. Must be furious. Maybe he was being serious about the skirt. Oh God oh God. Have been seduced by informality of messaging medium into being impertinent to boss.

12:10. Maybe he has not got it yet. If only could get message back. Think will go for walk and see if can somehow go into Daniel's office and erase it.

12:15. Hah. All explained. He is in meeting with Simon from Marketing. He gave me a look when walked past. Aha. Ahahahaha. Message Pending:

Message Jones
If walking past office was attempt to demonstrate presence of skirt can only say that it has failed parlously. Skirt is indisputably absent. Is skirt off sick? 
Cleave 

Message Pending then flashed up again--immediately.

Message Jones
If skirt is indeed sick, please look into how many days sick leave skirt has taken in previous twelvemonth. Spasmodic nature of recent skirt attendance suggests malingering. 
Cleave 

Just sending back:
Message Cleave
Skirt is demonstrably neither sick nor abscent. Appalled by management's blatently sizist attitude to skirt. Obsessive interest in skirt suggests management sick rather than skirt. 
Jones 

Hmm. Think will cross last bit out as contains mild accusation of sexual harassment whereas v. much enjoying being sexually harassed by Daniel Cleaver.

Aaargh. Perpetua just walked past and started reading over shoulder. Just managed to press Alt Screen in nick of time but big mistake as merely put CV back up on screen.

"Do let me know when you've finished reading, won't you?" said Perpetua, with a nasty smirk. "I'd hate to feel you were being underused."

The second she was safely back on the phone--"I mean frankly, Mr. Birkett, what is the point in putting three to four bedrooms when it is going to be obvious the second we appear that bedroom four is an airing cupboard?"--I got back to work. This is what I am about to send.

Message Cleave
Skirt is demonstrably neither sick nor abscent. Appalled by management's blatently sizist attitude to skirt. Considering appeal to industrial tribunal, tabloids, etc. 
Jones 

Oh dear. This was return message.

Message Jones
Absent, Jones, not abscent. Blatantly, not blatently. Please attempt to acquire at least perfunctory grasp of spelling. Though by no means trying to suggest language fixed rather than constantly adapting, fluctuating tool of communication (cf Hoenigswald) computer spell check might help. 
Cleave 

Was just feeling crestfallen when Daniel walked past with Simon from Marketing and shot a very sexy look at my skirt with one eyebrow raised. Love the lovely computer messaging. Must work on spelling, though. After all, have degree in English.

Friday 6 January 
5:45 p.m. Could not be more joyous. Computer messaging re. presence or otherwise of skirt continued obsessively all afternoon. Cannot imagine respected boss did stroke of work. Weird scenario with Perpetua (penultimate boss), since knew I was messaging and v. angry, but fact that was messaging ultimate boss gave self conflicting feelings of loyalty--distinctly unlevel playing field where anyone with ounce of sense would say ultimate boss should hold sway.

Last message read:
Message Jones
Wish to send bouquet to ailing skirt over weekend. Please supply home contact no asap as cannot, for obvious reasons, rely on given spelling of "Jones" to search in file. 
Cleave 

Yesssss! Yessssss! Daniel Cleaver wants my phone no. Am marvelous. Am irresistible Sex Goddess. Hurrah!

Sunday 8 January 
128 lbs. (v. bloody g. but what is point?), alcohol units 2 (excellent), cigarettes 7, calories 3100 (poor). 

2 p.m. Oh God, why am I so unattractive? Cannot believe I convinced myself I was keeping the entire weekend free to work when in fact I was on permanent date-with-Daniel standby. Hideous, wasted two days glaring psychopathically at the phone, and eating things. Why hasn't he rung? Why? What's wrong with me? Why ask for my phone number if he wasn't going to ring, and if he was going to ring surely he would do it over the weekend? Must center myself more. Will ask Jude about appropriate self-help book, possible Eastern-religion-based.

8 p.m. Phone call alert, which turned out to be just Tom, asking if there was any telephonic progress. Tom, who has taken, unflatteringly, to calling himself a hag-fag, has been sweetly supportive about the Daniel crisis. Tom has a theory that homosexuals and single women in their thirties have natural bonding: both being accustomed to disappointing their parents and being treated as freaks by society. He indulged me while I obsessed to him about my unattractiveness crisis--precipitated, as I told him, first by bloody Mark Darcy then by bloody Daniel at which point he said, I must say not particularly helpfully, "Mark Darcy? But isn't he that famous lawyer--the human-rights guy?"

Hmmm. Well, anyway. What about my human right not to have to wander round with fearsome unattractiveness hangup?


At the start of the New Year, 32-year-old "singleton" Bridget decides it's time to take control of her life and start keeping a diary. Now, the most provocative, erotic and hysterical book on her bedside table is the one she's writing. With a taste for adventure, and an opinion on every subject--from her circle of "smug married" friends, to men, exercise, food, sex, and everything in between--she's turning a page on a whole new life. Despite her efforts to get her act together, she finds herself caught between two men--a man who's too good to be true, and a man who's so wrong, he could be right. Meanwhile her new employers think she is nuts and her scatter-brained friends are absolutely no help whatsoever.

Release Date: April 13, 2001
Release Time: 97 minutes

Cast:
Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Colin Firth as Mark Darcy
Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver
Jim Broadbent as Mr. Colin Jones
Gemma Jones as Mrs. Pamela Jones
Celia Imrie as Una Alconbury
James Faulkner as Uncle Geoffrey
Shirley Henderson as Jude
James Callis as Tom
Lisa Barbuscia as Lara
Charmian May as Mrs. Darcy
Paul Brooke as Mr. "Tits pervert" Fitzherbert
Sally Phillips as Shazza
Embeth Davidtz as Natasha Glenville
Patrick Barlow as Julian
Felicity Montagu as Perpetua
Donald Douglas as Admiral Darcy
Dolly Wells as Woney

Awards:
2002 Academy Awards
Best Actress - Renée Zellweger - Nominated

2002 BAFTAs
Best Actress - Renée Zellweger - Nominated
Best Supporting Actor - Colin Firth - Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay - Richard Curtis, Andrew Davies, Helen Fielding - Nominated
Best British Film - Nominated

2002 Golden Globes
Best Motion Picture(Comedy or Musical) - Nominated
Best Actress in Motion Picture(Comedy or Musical) - Renée Zellweger - Nominated


Trailer

Clips



Author Bio:
Helen Fielding was born in Yorkshire. She worked for many years in London as a newspaper and TV journalist, travelling as wildly and as often as possibly to Africa, India and Central America. She is the author of four novels: Cause Celeb, Bridget Jones’ s Diary, Bridget Jones:The Edge of Reason and Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination, and co-wrote the screenplays for the movie of Bridget Jones’s Diary and the sequel based on The Edge of Reason. She now works full-time as a novelist and screenwriter and lives in London and Los Angeles.


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Release Blitz: For You I Fall by TN Nova & Colette Davison

Title: For You I Fall
Authors: TN Nova & Colette Davison
Series: Angels & Misfits #1
Genre: M/M Romance, Paranormal
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Editor: AC Minx
Summary:
Sometimes you must fall before you can fly free.

Despite having had a rough life, Seth has a big heart. After spending nearly ten years sleeping rough on the streets of New York, he’s managed to get himself freelance work and a place to live. But his new-found security is about to be torn apart, as the horrors of his past come back to haunt him in the worst possible way.

Dante was sent to watch over a young Seth when his mother died. As an angel, he had many rules to follow. The most important of which was to never fall in love—especially when it involves a human who is your charge. For the last ten years, Dante has kept his feelings for Seth hidden. That is until the night Seth’s past catches up with him.

When Seth is murdered, their destinies are changed forever. Feelings and emotions come to the surface, but will the rules that govern the afterlife keep Dante and Seth apart for eternity, or will they be able to find their happily ever after together?

It’s the first of the series but can be read as a standalone story.


Seth kept the last cup of coffee, now barely lukewarm, for the man who always sat alone, distant from the rest. There was something about him that mesmerized Seth in a way he couldn’t describe. It was probably the man’s eyes, which were a vivid shade of blue that pierced even the darkest night. He sat on the same bench every night, huddled in a tatty black trench coat.

“Seth.” Blue Eyes nodded his thanks as he wrapped his hands around the cup Seth handed to him.

“It’s not very warm, I’m afraid.”

Blue Eyes shrugged, never taking his gaze off Seth as he sipped the coffee. His dark hair fell to his shoulders in waves, framing his handsome face. His olive skin tone made him appear healthier than the rest, although Seth was reasonably sure that was deceptive. A short beard and mustache helped further define his broad chin and sculpted cheekbones. Seth thought to ask his name, but couldn’t convince the question to leave his lips.

He was always like that around Blue Eyes: tongue-tied and awkward. The man was incredibly gorgeous, and Seth couldn’t help but be physically attracted to him. Maybe in another lifetime, under very different circumstances, he would have the confidence to ask Blue Eyes more about himself; discover the mysteries sparkling in the depths of his eyes. But things were what they were and showing interest in the man was wholly inappropriate. So, instead of asking Blue Eyes his name, he uttered a goodbye and turned to go.


TN Nova
T.N. Nova, Terri to her husband and Blazing Zane to her daughter, is the author of contemporary and paranormal gay romance. She's lived in the desert southwest all of her adult life, most recently in Phoenix.

Her guilty pleasures are Minecraft, music, geeky stuff, diet Dr. Pepper, and all things Thor and Loki. She's addicted, so now you know how to bribe her.

Colette Davison
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairy tale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.


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Release Day Blitz: Tigeress by L Grubb

Title: Tigeress
Author: L Grubb
Series: Escortesses #1
Genre: Adult Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2018

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“He made me uncomfortable and no man makes me un-fucking-comfortable. But he did.
Something about him that I can’t put my finger on shakes me to my damn core.
It burns like the sparks of a firework. Ridiculous.”

Summary:
I used to be bullied and it broke me down but it also built me into the ruthless bitch I am today.

I don’t take no prisoners and I don’t beat around the bush. People call me mean, heartless, and that’s exactly what I am; I’m not going to deny that. But what’s the alternative? A broken little mouse who walks along the side-lines? The one ignored and picked on for being quiet? The one excluded from activities because I just don’t fit in? Nah, that’s not me. That’s the old me.

Jemma Jade Jackson transformed her life after high school, now three years on and attending college, she’s changed her whole persona and lifestyle. She’s no longer the beaten but the beater. She’s no longer the cowardly tramp that sits in the corner. She’s ruthless, badass, and she doesn’t take no shit from no one, much less from bullies.

She’s nicknamed Tigeress; her roar is almost louder than her claws, but she embraces it. She embraces the fear she puts into people when she walks passed them. Covered in tattoos with bright purple hair, she makes herself as unapproachable as possible. Jemma is so full of hate that her aura is red and visible to everyone. She throws warning signals just in the way she carries herself and it’s taken three years to perfect.

Long gone is the goofy teen who let people hurt her, she’s a spanking new person inside and out and uses her assets to ruin men’s lives. She’s paid well to honeytrap stupid idiots who hurt their woman just because they can. Just like what happened to her.

But is her perfectly put together life about to be shook? Is her ice-cold personality about to be thawed? More importantly… is he ready to play her games?


His finger traces the side of my neck and the shocks of electricity that zips from him to me makes me clench my jaw in an attempt to distract me from the contact. “You’re very persistent. I’m not interested.”

“Your body’s reaction tells me otherwise,” he whispers into my ear and a shiver skirts down my body, my toes curl instinctively and I have the urge to groan as his husky voice floats over me like another layer of skin.

“Back off, Damon.” My tone is cold, icy. I’m not familiar with these feelings racing through my body, every inch of me burning. It scares the hell out of me.

“Or what, Tiger?” His lips are whispering against my ear and I fight the fluttering of my eyelids.

Author Bio:
Lucii is your typical British girl, hates the sun and hibernates when summer arrives! She lives at home with her 2 daughters, where they spend the day watching kids TV and musicals.

She started off as a regular person; job, home life, health issues and a love of reading. After reading the Fifty shade phenomenon, she went onto social media to seek other authors writing the same or similar genres. She entered a world she didn’t know existed and went to open a successful blog.

Inspiring dreams took a back burner, while she learned the book community and met a bunch of amazing authors and readers alike.

A year later she decided to start writing, hoping against hope that her friends and fellow readers will like what she brings to the table.


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