Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Merry Christmas, Eve Teaser Tuesday and Giveaway




Children's Picture Book

Date Published: December 4, 2020

Publisher: Krueger Wallace Press & Riven Rock Projects



Christmas is coming and the Christmas spirit is nowhere to be found. There’s only one little elf with the get-up-and-go to find it. Meet Eve . . .



About the Author

New York Times, Amazon and USA Today Bestselling author who loves writing stories that make children laugh and get excited about reading and drawing and writing . I also love taking naps and listening to music. Not at the same time.

I have over 80 books published and out in the world, and love each one as if it were my child ... except if that child is like really naughty and always breaks my favourite things and writes bad words on the walls of our house.

None of my books are like that.

From How to Catch books to How to Draw books. From gross books to action and adventure books. From inspirational to just plain funny, there's something here for kids of all reading abilities, and all ranges of interests.


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Sealed With a Yuletide Kiss Release Blitz

 

An Historical Romance Advent Calendar

Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Holiday Romance, Romance Anthology

Date Published: November 30, 2021



Allow yourself to be swept away as you count down to Christmas with this collection of twenty-four romantic short stories. From friends to lovers and instant romance to secret identities and so much more, these treats are sure to fill you with warmth this holiday season. So grab a hot drink, settle into your favorite spot, and indulge in the magic of happily ever afters.


Story titles:

December 1: A Drunken Christmas Escapade

December 2: A Royal Affair on Christmas Eve

December 3: A Duke Surrenders His Heart on Christmas Eve

December 4: A Highwayman Proposes on Christmas Eve

December 5: Caught in a Snow Storm on Christmas Eve

December 6: Rescued by a Duke before Christmas

December 7: A Kiss for Christmas

December 8: A Christmas House Party

December 9: Underneath the Mistletoe

December 10: Snowed In on Christmas Eve

December 11: An Unexpected Guest Arrives for Christmas

December 12: At the Christmas Ball

December 13: Trapped in a Carriage on Christmas Eve

December 14: By the Stroke of Midnight

December 15: The Duke Proposes on Christmas

December 16: A Scandalous Dare on Christmas Eve

December 17: A Secret Christmas Rendezvous

December 18: Stealing a Yuletide Kiss

December 19: A Shocking Revelation for Christmas

December 20: Stranded at an Inn during Christmas

December 21: An Unexpected Encounter with a Highlander

December 22: Reunited on Christmas Eve

December 23: Only a Duke Will Do for Christmas

December 24: A Christmas Wedding Gone Awry



About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Sophie Barnes, has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian with varying degrees of fluency.

She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor's degree from Parson's School of design, but most impressive of all - she's been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion - writing.

When she's not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family. She currently lives on the East Coast.


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Shattered Book Blast



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. C. Lee McKenzie will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Courage put Libby Brown into the final selection for the Olympics, but betrayal crushed her spine and her chance at the Gold. Now she has two choices, use her courage to put her life back together, or remain shattered forever.
Read an Excerpt

For a while, silence filled the dark room, but I could feel that Harley was still very much awake.

“You can walk,” I finally said.

“Right. I noticed that.”

“I’m kind of jealous about it.”

“I know,” Harley said, “but I try to ignore that in you.”

The silence came again, but undercutting that silence was a soft sound of pain.

“Are you crying, Libby?”

“Yes. Don’t rag on me.”

“Have I ever ragged on you?”

“Only all the time, Harley C.” I felt Harley’s arm around my shoulder.

“That’s because I love you, you jerk.

About the Author:
I’m someone in love with the English language...well, any language for that matter. How did we decided to use words, intonation, structures to communicate? Does our language come from our culture or does our culture come from our language? I love to drive people nuts with questions like this.

I have a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days my greatest passion is writing for young readers. My young adult novels are Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative, Sudden Secrets, and now Shattered, A Story of Betrayal and Courage. Sometimes I write Middle Grade Fantasy and have four of those stories published.

When I’m not writing I’m hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things I still don’t understand--like what is language anyway?

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Bite Me for Christmas Book Blast


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Megan Slayer will be awarding a prize pack featuring a necklace made by the author to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

He came to her in a dream, but he’s more like a nightmare in tight jeans, and she wants a taste.

Rachael isn’t good at magic, and she’s not versed in life, but this witch wants to lay her hands on the sexy vampire who’s come to her in her dreams. Can she have her Christmas wish -- the vampire?

Gavin wants the witch, but he doesn’t believe he’s worthy of her. Part of him wants to devour her magic and save himself, but what if being saved doesn’t involve dying?

Anything is possible with a little Christmas magic.

Read an Excerpt

©Megan Slayer, 2021, All Rights Reserved

Rachael admired the twinkle lights she’d strung around the kitchen. Somewhere people were enjoying themselves. They might even be making love under the Christmas tree. She’d like to try that -- sex in front of the tree.

Instead, she’d pulled the chore of kitchen clean-up. She always pulled that chore and the rest, too.

She draped the washcloth over the faucet and surveyed the room. Everything appeared to be back in place.

When she peeked into the living room, Serena and Millie were deep in another round of cards. The last Rachael knew, they were playing hearts. Rachael tiptoed out to the back porch to admire the snow. The cauldron bubbled with some batch of potions. She had no idea what her sisters made, only that she had to clean out the pot when they finished. The tangy smell filled the enclosed space and made her dizzy.

She crinkled her nose. If she knew how, she’d change the scent to something nutmeg-y or pine -- anything but the overwhelming aroma.

Something flashed among the white snow. She folded her arms and stepped up to the screened-in windows. Maybe the flash was the play of firelight on the snow.

The snow glittered and mesmerized her as it fell -- that had to be it. The flash was falling snow.

She hummed the tune of a Christmas carol and fought back tears. Christmas shouldn’t be this depressing, but she couldn’t help herself. She tried to make the day bright, but Christmas Eve would forever be the day her parents died and her world turned upside down. The loss turned her sisters bitter, too. The official account said nothing about her being at fault, but her sisters swore she’d created the fog, which caused the collision.

She wished she knew the truth.

One day, she wanted to know, but she also wanted to replace the sad memories with good ones. She’d never forget her parents, but she needed to move forward with her life.

Someday.

The flash returned, but this time, a man appeared among the snow.

Her blood sizzled, and she gasped. She knew this man.

Her vampire.

“Gavin,” she whispered. “You’re here.”

“You did ask for me for Christmas.” He moved across the snow and stood in the doorway to the porch. “Said you wanted a vampire for Christmas.”

She longed to touch him, but feared she’d draw her sisters’ attention.

“You did request me, didn’t you?”

About The Author:
Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and white hot themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Mรฉnage, Best BDSM and Best Anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

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Monday, November 29, 2021

Pemberley's Christmas Governess Release Blitz

 

A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary

Regency Romance, Clean Romance, Classic Romance, Jane Austen Fan Fiction

Release Date: November 29, 2021

Publisher: Regency Solutions



Two hearts. One kiss.

Following his wife’s death in childbirth, Fitzwilliam Darcy hopes to ease his way back into society by hosting a house party during Christmastide. He is thrilled when his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam sends a message saying not only will he attend, but the colonel is bringing a young woman with him of whom he hopes both Darcy and the colonel’s mother, Lady Matlock, will approve. Unfortunately, upon first sight, Darcy falls for the woman: He suspects beneath Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s conservative veneer lies a soul which will match his in every way; yet, she is soon to be the colonel’s wife.

Elizabeth Bennet lost her position as a governess when Lady Newland accuses Elizabeth of leading her son on. It is Christmastide, and she has no place to go and little money to hold her over until after Twelfth Night; therefore, when Lieutenant Newland’s commanding officer offers her a place at his cousin’s household for the holy days, she accepts in hopes someone at the house party can provide her a lead on a new position. Having endured personal challenges which could easily have embittered a lesser woman, Elizabeth proves herself brave, intelligent, educated in the fine arts of society, and deeply honorable. Unfortunately, she is also vulnerable to the Master of Pemberley, who kindness renews her spirits and whose young daughter steals her heart. The problem is she must leave Pemberley after the holidays, and she does not know if a “memory” of Fitzwilliam Darcy will be enough to sustain her.



Excerpt

Driving regret from his features, Darcy turned to greet Captain Stewart. “We are pleased you have decided to join us, sir.” He extended his hand in greeting. Outside, he caught a glimpse of a petite woman providing directions to what must be her maid and assisting Darcy’s footmen to separate the gentlemen’s trunks. A frown formed on his forehead. The lady should not be left to sort these things out.

Welcome, Captain Stewart,” Lady Matlock called as she descended the stairs on her son’s arm.

The captain bowed properly and said, “Thank you and Darcy for accepting my presence along with the colonel.”

Always glad for more company,” Darcy repeated, while searching the drive once again with his eyes for the woman, who, evidently, had disappeared.

Bingley and his youngest sister appeared to greet the new guests, and, so, Darcy slipped outside to ask Mr. Nathan what had transpired. “Where is the young lady, Nathan?”

The lady insisted on following her abigail around the house to a ‘less than obtrusive entrance.’ She said she would speak to Mrs. Reynolds at the kitchen entrance.”

Ridiculous!” Darcy growled as he went after the woman. “Miss! Miss!” he called, using his long legs to overtake her. “Miss, there must be—”

The lady turned to look upon him, and Darcy forgot to breathe. An odd sizzle of recognition swept through him—an emotion he had never felt previously, but one which felt natural, nonetheless, despite it placing his normal complacency on high alert.

The lady was a good head shorter than he, but not quite as petite as he had first thought. Delicate, very feminine features and a fragile bone structure could not disguise the firmness of character he discovered in her expression. Moreover, the lady possessed the type of eyes in which a man could easily become lost. Intelligent eyes. They glistened from the cold, but when they looked at him, Darcy thought he could see a future that had long evaded his multiple attempts at consideration. Her eyes were green with a touch of woodsy brown. Whether he liked it or not, he suspected they would haunt his dreams tonight, but he took quick note they were equally “haunted,” providing the woman a hint of vulnerability—a look which made him want to reach out and tug her into his embrace and offer her his protection.

Holding his hands tightly in fists at his side to keep the tug of possession from claiming his good sense, he said stiffly, “There is some mistake, miss. You are to join us in the family part of the house. The colonel wrote specifically to ask us to welcome you into our home. Please permit me to escort you inside.”

She stared at him with curious interest marking her features. A small smile tugged at the corners of her lips, and Darcy had the distinct feeling a smile on her lips might be his undoing. “I did not wish to interrupt the colonel’s homecoming. He has spoken often of the wonderful times he has spent at Pemberley.” She glanced around. “It is truly a magnificent estate, sir.”

I am pleased you find it so,” Darcy said, as a smile also claimed his lips. “You should view it in the spring and summer when it is green and full of color.”

She sighed deeply. “I would enjoy doing so very much. When I was—” The lady paused, giving her head a good shake. “My memories are not significant or of interest to you, sir.”

Darcy was not best pleased with her response. He would have liked to hear more of her opinion of his estate and her memories, but, instead, he presented her a slight bow. “Permit your maid to take your bags—” He looked to the girl, who appeared familiar. “I have seen you before, have I not?”

The maid dipped an awkward curtsey. “Yes, sir. I be Mr. Crownley’s daughter, Hannah, sir.”

Of course,” he said. “I thought you away from home.”

I was, sir. In Gloucestershire.”

Darcy nodded his acceptance. “I hope your mistress means to allow you to spend time with your family. Crownley will wish to see you for Christmas.”

I have already told Hannah she may spend as much time as she likes with her family,” the lady explained.

Good,” Darcy stated. “Then permit Hannah and my men to secure your bags in your quarters, and come away with me.” He offered the woman his arm. “The colonel’s mother is eager to take your acquaintance.”

She hesitated. “But I do not know your name, sir,” she said with a pert lift of her chin and with what sounded of a tease in her tone.

He smiled easily, realizing it had been forever since he had felt this light-hearted. “There is no one about to introduce us. The colonel is in the house,” he reminded her.

The lady glanced over her shoulder to the maid. “Hannah holds both of our acquaintances. Could not she perform the deed?”

Darcy could not look away from the lady’s countenance. He said with another grin of satisfaction for the privilege of speaking to such an enchanting woman, “Miss Crownley, might you provide me the acquaintance of your mistress?”

The maid giggled, but she managed a proper curtsey. “Lard, I never thought—” The girl sobered immediately. “Mr. Darcy, may I give you the acquaintance of Miss Bennet? Miss Bennet, the master of Pemberley, Mr. Darcy.”

Charmed, Miss Bennet.” He repeated with a bow. “If you have no objections, miss, I would see you inside the house. You must be quite chilled through standing outside for so long. Derbyshire winters are deceptively cold.”

The lady curtseyed. “Charmed indeed, Mr. Darcy,” she said softly, before placing her gloved hand upon his arm.

As he turned her steps toward the main entrance, in Darcy’s mind, time slowed. Desire as he had never known found a place in his chest. Instead of the main door, he was half-tempted to lead the woman to a nearby folly and enjoy more of the lady’s smiles. An insidious whisper pronounced her as his. Yet, when he reached the still open door, reality slapped him in the face.

There you are, Miss Bennet,” his cousin said as the lady left Darcy’s arm to stand beside his cousin. Edward said, very precisely, “My lady, with your permission, I would give you the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Bennet, my mother, the Countess of Matlock.”

Darcy looked on as the woman, who had just bewitched him with a simple smile, executed a perfect curtsey. “I am humbled, my lady, by your kind recognition.” She glanced to the colonel and smiled largely. “Colonel Fitzwilliam has told me numerous tales of his family.”

The countess arched an eyebrow which said she thought Edward’s actions odd, as did Darcy, for his cousin had shared nothing of the lady with any of his dear family, but Miss Bennet had said something similar to him only moments earlier. Darcy’s aunt smiled her “social” smile. “I believe I speak for all of the colonel’s family in saying we will be most happy to learn more of you, Miss Bennet. For now, welcome to Pemberley.”

From a place on the staircase, Hurst called out, “Now, now, boys. No way for children to act. Louisa, I say do, something!”

Mrs. Hurst caught one of the boys just as Mrs. Anderson came rushing upon the scene. The nurse presented the gathering in the foyer a quick curtsey. “I apologize, Mr. Darcy,” she said, wringing her hands in obvious distress. “I be puttin’ Miss Cassandra down for a nap, and the boys slipped out when Megs was called away to assist Cook. They followed their parents after Mr. and Mrs. Hurst left the nursery.”

Mrs. Anderson’s whole demeanor said she was fearful of Darcy’s disfavor. He did not like the look on the woman, who had been very loyal to his family over the years.

He said, “No harm, Mrs. Anderson. I will ask Mrs. Reynolds to have Megs and another maid take turns in assisting you. I am grieved to have added to your duties. I will see you are readily compensated.”

I beg your pardon, Mr. Darcy. Might I be of assistance, sir? I would be happy to return the boys to the nursery and entertain them until the maid can return to her duties there.” Miss Bennet’s earnest expression said she spoke honestly. “Surely there are some items in the house which can be used to entertain the boys. Toy soldiers, perhaps, from when you and the colonel were younger. Most large households store such items away as the children age.”

His cousin suggested, “The grey trunk. Hey, Darcy. We kept all our best cavalry in it.”

Darcy nodded his understanding and looked to his butler.

I believe it was placed in the attic some years back, sir. I can have someone bring it down immediately, Mr. Darcy.”

We should have done so before now,” Mr. Darcy admitted, although, in reality, it should be the Hursts’ responsibility to see their children were entertained.

Miss Bennet immediately handed her cloak, bonnet, and gloves to Mr. Nathan and then climbed a few steps to claim the hand of first one of the Hurst boys and then the other. “Why do you not come with me? Mr. Darcy has promised us a treasure chest full of toys to explore together. Will that not be grand?”

The youngest of the two said, “Yes, ma’am.”

The lady turned to Darcy. “With your permission, sir,” she murmured.

Darcy attempted to keep the frown from his features, but he knew he failed. “I must object, Miss Bennet. It would be the worst of society to accept a young lady into my home as a guest and then expect her to perform the work of a governess. Neither I nor my household can impose upon your good nature in such a manner.”

I assure you, sir, I would not feel put upon in any such way. I prefer to make myself useful, and, as my position in society is one of governess, please permit me to assist you.”

Without waiting for his permission, she turned the boys’ steps toward the above storey and gracefully climbed the stairs to where Mrs. Anderson waited to show her the way. As her little party turned toward the nursery, he heard her say, “You must tell me your names. I am Miss Bennet.”

Governess?” the countess asked her son. “Did Miss Bennet say she was a governess?”

Yes, she did,” the colonel declared. A look of admiration marked the colonel’s features. “Was it not wonderful how she quite readily took the matter in hand? I am very proud of how quickly Miss Bennet proved herself useful to Darcy.”

But—” the countess thought to lodge her objection, likely the same objection rushing to Darcy’s lips.

However, Edward claimed his mother’s hand and brought the back of it to his lips. “I will explain later, Countess. For now, I want to freshen my clothes, and, then, I wish to hear all there is to learn of both Roland and father. How is the esteemed Miss Ashley? Is a wedding date set?” He turned to the rest of Darcy’s guests. “I will look forward to hearing something from each of you at supper.” He looked to Darcy. “My customary quarters, I assume.”

Yes, and the captain is in the blue suite across from you.”

Edward motioned the captain to follow him. “Come, Stewart. Darcy and my mother keep the gentlemen and the ladies in different wings of the house. I will show you the way. If one does not have a guide, he may become lost in a maze of rooms.”

As they all disappeared to different reaches of the house, including the countess and Georgiana, Darcy remained staring off at the point where the lady, who had quite literally sent his heart pounding in a manner he had never experienced previously, had disappeared. Growing up together, Darcy had, most assuredly, idolized his older cousin, for Edward had always appeared stronger and wiser than he, but, until a few moments prior, he thought he had finally caught up to the man; perhaps, even, had outdistanced him in many of the essentials required of an English gentleman. Yet, with absolute certainty, his cousin had once again left Darcy wishing for some “unknown,” which Fitzwilliam possessed.


About the Author

Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”


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Ovidius Review

 


Ovidius

by Karin Mabry

Genre: Literary Fiction, Fantasy 

'Ovidius' follows the lives of members of the Ovidius community, a neighborhood surrounding The Ovidius Zoo, home of Worthington the Tiger. The animals of Ovidius communicate with each other using mental telepathy, unbeknownst to humans. Some, like Godiva the Cat and Sam the Bird, tweak the agreed-upon system to fit their agendas, Godiva, to write poetry, Sam, to wreak havoc. Others, like Philodendrum the Bullfrog and Xavier the human, friend of Godiva, are just trying to figure out who they really are. Written in the fix-up style, ‘Ovidius’ is a beautiful reflection on animals, spirituality and being wild and free.




Worthington the Tiger
Worthington the tiger’s weariness with captivity was a heavy truth, a reluctant move towards his acceptance of the blatant prejudice of God’s blessing of some animals with autonomy but not others. His family had accepted their lives of salvation denied, agreeing that by divine design, some animals were born condemned to human servitude, such as they, living in a zoo. Worthington fully disagreed.
W could source the beginning of his increasingly dire irritation with his life to the moment he first considered where the misfit animals went. The whole system seemed sinister to him. If an animal didn’t fit in at the zoo, they were taken away, never to be seen nor heard from again. Gone, he thought, annoyed at the idea. Thus began a torrent of curiosities, becoming an irrational pattern of thinking, growing less reasonable every time W considered the options for the rebellious animals.
 
Philodendrum the Bullfrog
Philodendrum woke in his Ovidius neighborhood and began his day like any other. He kissed on his wife, Philomena, played with his kids and went to work. It was when he sat down to eat his lunch that his world fell down around him, pulling him with it, to the ground, P landing with a thud. Not taking the necessary steps to ensure one’s soul can tolerate one’s lifestyle will lead to the body revolting. P’s heart muscles openly declared they had had enough, that being a sinner’s heart was just too grueling. The heart went on strike, its only sane choice. To that end, everything else in Philodendrum started to say their goodbyes as well. Take care all, his organs shouted to the world, we loved you and this beautiful Earth, but it is time to go!
 
Godiva and Clarence, the Cats
Godiva was a gloriously magnificent, grey-and-white, part Maine Coon Ovidian cat. She loved poetry, delighted in writing it, relished reading it out loud, even taught other animals of its wonder. Godiva thought that as a genuine purveyor of beauty, she ought to be granted a living for such giving and was slightly miffed that she wasn’t a full-time poet.  Instead, she was forced to endure gatherings of animals who knew next to nothing about an authentic voice, who wouldn’t know a real poem if it bit them in the butt. To them, she must reveal her deepest love, her most closely held desires and beliefs which landed on her students’ deaf, but kind, ears, most of the time.

Clarence’s willingness to learn to read endeared him even more to Godiva. No one in her world wanted what she did. It was selfish, really, what she was asking of him. She wanted a partner in crime. She didn’t want to be so alone in the world of words. Breaching her feline self and the one who was so aware of humans and their thoughts, their fears, their doings as well as their plans had stretched her thin.  Godiva considered her problem from the lens of addiction- she was paying the price for the ride she wanted to take but she yearned for Clarence’s company.
 
Xavier the Human
No one treated Xavier like a guy who had a good heart. No one saw potential in him, worthy of developing. His future endeavors didn’t matter to anyone at that funeral, nor to anyone in his hometown of Ovidius. They cared when Xavier was young. When he was fresh and innocent, he was showered with support. But when his world disintegrated, and he was left with nothing, that was all anyone was willing to give him- nothing.

Xavier wondered, post release, if all the mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics and anti-anxiety meds, which had wreaked havoc on his entire self, had been more of a blessing than a curse. Not taking any drugs at all showed Xavier how glad he was he didn’t have all his senses about him while he was incarcerated. Life without all those pharmaceuticals was harsh and direct, it was in-your-face. Reality didn’t pull any punches and, at 22 years old, Xavier found himself being expected to deal with himself like a man. But he was not a man. He had been babied by the system, dumbed down and ignored until he no longer listened to himself.
 
 
Sam the Bird
Sam had figured out how to do something no other animal had.  He was such a dick. See, Sam was literally the was a voice inside your head that made you believe that that the way you felt about some stupid issue when you were eleven years’ old is still the outlook for you. Though you may have grown and changed, adapted and survived so many things, Sam’s power made others think they were screwed when it came to limitations they created when they knew nothing. Welcome home, he made you think to yourself, because those thoughts are the parameters of your whole world now. You will not feel comfortable unless there are four, solid walls are around your new, supplanted belief, keeping it safe and sound, if unwanted and uninvited. 
 
 
RATING: FIVE STARS
๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

If you appreciated the dark social commentary using the medium of talking animals that George Orwell employed in his classic story, Animal Farm, you will enjoy reading Ovidius, a dark and sometimes chilling modern fantasy masterpiece by Karen Mabry.

Ovidius is the story of a group of animals who have developed the ability to communicate telepathically with each other. When Worthington the Tiger becomes fed up with being a spectacle for human entertainment, he makes his escape from the zoo and kills Starlight, one of his keepers, as well as two zoo officials.

The other animals pass judgment on Worthington, ensuring that he is sent to a sanctuary, where he kills again. The remainder of the book tells the story from the perspectives of certain animals who took part in Worthington’s trial.

Unlike Animal Farm, which is a metaphor for a specific event (the Russian revolution), Ovidius addresses various sociological issues such as race and class disparities, consumerism, the modern western penal system, religious and philosophical idealism, and the harms caused by gender roles and sex stereotypes. The stories also spotlight such issues as addiction and the failure of the mental health system. Godiva the cat also expresses the division between the way most people view the worth of the creative arts and the way creative individuals view their process.

Worthington the Tiger’s antisocial behavior may have been caused by being imprisoned by humans for their entertainment, although some animals feel that Worthington had a bad attitude. Godiva the cat loses interest in reading and writing poetry when she falls for Clarence, a tough alley cat, and becomes a mother. This is exactly what Clarence hoped for. Xavier, a young human man, was incarcerated in a mental health facility and put on psych medications after wrecking the art room at his high school when he saw his prom date messing around with one of the art students.

There was nothing that I disliked about Ovidius. On a personal level, I particularly resonated with the experiences of Godiva and Xavier.

As a woman, I experienced the expectation that not only should I care for my child when I became a mother, but I should happily give up any personal pursuits. When I had to stop working at the long-term care center where I had been employed for the previous two years because I was having trouble rebounding following an emergency cesarean section, I wasn’t sorry. I hated that job. To be asked to give up on my artistic pursuits, however, felt like losing my soul.

“I didn’t know how much it was hurting my spirit to live as though my heart was a dirty sock. That is how it felt, to be married to someone who desired that I love one thing but stop loving something else, that I put such boundaries and restrictions on my natural inclination towards love.”

--Godiva the Cat

I did find myself giving up on the dream of becoming a professional musician, but I couldn’t abandon the idea of being involved in the arts in some capacity. I continued drawing and writing. Although my son is the most important person in my life and he comes first before even my personal pursuits, my personal pursuits are essential to my happiness.

As someone whose experiences with the American health care system as a whole and the mental health system in particular have been less than stellar, I related to Xavier’s distress.

“Mrs. Knightly had been brought in to help deal with “the troubled boy.” She is not listening to me, Xavier realized, minutes into their first meeting.”

At sixteen, my response to the self-important shrink at St. Anthony’s Hospital was snark. I knew he wasn’t listening and didn’t give a toss, and I wasn’t going to show him respect. Honestly, I’m proud of my younger self for that.

“Xavier just told his counselor what he wanted to hear and went on with his life. The doctors and counselors just wanted to know what they needed to do to keep Xavier sedate and cooperative.”

Helping people find a sense of purpose is much more difficult than giving them drugs to make them compliant. I once read a statement by someone critical of the Western mental health system that the goal of counselors and psychiatrists is not to help people become happy, it is to make them become compliant. I fully agree with this sentiment.

If you’re looking for a feel-good animal story, Ovidius is not that story. If you are looking for biting social commentary where animals do most of the talking, then Ovidius fills the bill. I am pleased to rate this thought-provoking book five out of five stars.

“Poets are not whimsical, they are haunted.”

--Godiva the Cat

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Hi! Hope you are well and taking good care of yourself and loved ones during these challenging times.

Writing 'Ovidius', my first novel, was a game-changer for me. I wrote a series of novellas then combined them into a fix-up novel, becoming utterly enamored of the medium of the short novel in the process. Telling a story with an economy of words means the use of words is precious. I have found my niche and believe that, literally, everyone should write a short novel. It is delightful, with no fear of being crushed by the daunting task of writing hundreds and hundreds of pages. I have mostly read novels in my life, still yearning to understand what Anais and Jack London have to say about it all. I tried, in 'Ovidius', to create five distinctly different novellas that could stand alone yet come together, seamlessly, as one story.

My poetry books, 'Thrive' and 'A Hamlet of Shelter', were delicious to write, that's all there is to it. I love them and so appreciate my Mother, Maureen, for encouraging me to write what I feel, what I believe. I hope you choose to enjoy what came forth when I gave it a chance. I surely do, each story, each poem, perfectly expressing my belief in presence and imagination. Such a blessing to be human and be able to imagine. All things are possible with God, the God within all of us, Our Father, our collective birthright.


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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Haelend's Ballad Book Blitz

 

Dark Fantasy / Steampunk

Date Published: November 30, 2021



Some call me Murderer, others call me Lord. I've been called Savior and Enslaver. But no one has ever called me Child.”


A young man signs his own death warrant when he joins an already failing militia. A teenage girl is haunted by her childhood abuse and begins to crave the very things she hates. A childless mother finds herself on the run as a convicted murderer. Yet they are all unaware that their own fates are tied to a young orphan who has drowned and come back to life in a foreign land where he will be the death of everyone he meets.

Hรฆlend’s Ballad is a tale about what happens when men and women from two colliding cultures realize they may not be on the right side. Heroes are villains. The persecuted are oppressors. And when rumors begin to spread that the world is dying, the darkness of their own hearts betrays them.


About the Author

Ian Conrey is both a teacher and student of history and theology, who actively fights against human trafficking and is working toward an M.A. in Religion. In his free time, he enjoys reading biographies and ancient mythology, discovering early American folk songs, and exploring the Cohutta Wilderness. He lives with his wife and three children in the North Georgia mountains.


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Friday, November 26, 2021

Give Thanks to a Savage

Give Thanks to a Savage!

Welcome to November where the air is cool and the men are hot. 

We’re entering a month full of things to be thankful for, like crisp weather, pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, boots, and, of course, hot savages! There's an art to being thankful. The DeLuca men don't care how you show your gratitude: on your knees, bending over, against a wall, or while begging for mercy. In return, they’ll keep you warm on those chilly November nights.

Preorder the Savage Bloodline Boxset: https://books2read.com/SavageBloodlineBoxset

Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57656059-savage-bloodline 

Download the prequel, Brutal Bloodline for FREE!

https://BookHip.com/PQVFCMB

Keep tabs on the sexy men of the DeLuca family by joining the Savage Bloodline Readers' Group. We’ll keep you up all month long. 

Book Info

Release Date: 3/15/22

ASIN- B092D9RGRW

In the streets and in the sheets, there’s one word that describes them best. SAVAGE.

The men of the DeLuca family are proof that the bigger the alpha, the harder they fall… in love.

Buy Links

Universal Buy Link - https://books2read.com/SavageBloodlineBoxset

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B092D9RGRW/ 

Nook - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/savage-bloodline-kenya-wright/1139270630 

Apple - https://books.apple.com/us/book/savage-bloodline/id1561989851 

About the Series

Darkness lurks behind their gazes. There’s something sinister about their smiles. Their name incites fear in their enemies. Their touch arouses passion in the women they love. They are the DeLucas. In the streets and in the sheets, there’s one word that describes them best. SAVAGE.

The men of the DeLuca family are proof that the bigger the alpha, the harder they fall… in love.

Download this exclusive anthology featuring 20+ BRAND NEW mafia romances to find out which DeLuca you will fall in love with. But first, you must ask yourself one question: Are you ready to give your heart and body to a savage?

Immerse yourself in this dangerously seductive collection that includes:

*Arranged Marriages.

*Billionaire.

*Enemies to lovers.

*Forced Proximity

*Friends to lovers.

*One Bed

*Second-chance.

*And more!

Excerpt 

Tears or Rain?

 Someone was going to die tonight.

Someone’s life was going to end before the clock struck twelve. Midnight. Their death would be painful, brutal. No mercy would be shown to them. Anyone who tried to defend them, anyone who got in the way, they too would die. That was the promise Enzo DeLuca had made to his grandfather.

And it was a promise he intended to keep, even if he had to burn the entire city to the ground to do so. Before he could keep his pledge, he first had to bury their fallen. He had to say his final goodbye to the man who’d been more like a father than a grandfather to him. The man who’d raised him. The man who’d nurtured him. The man who’d shaped him into the person he was today.

To this man, he owed his life. For this man, tonight, he was going to take a life. Rain fell in sheets on that cold and dreary January day in Bari, Italy. It was as if even mother nature was mourning the loss of Ermanno Deluca. Unlike most of those around him, Enzo DeLuca refused to stand under the shield of an umbrella.

He wanted to feel the cold rain against his skin. He wanted it to drip down his face like tears. Tears he refused to shed. There would be no crying for him. Not yet. Not until he’d kept his promise to his grandfather. Not until he’d put a bullet in the heart of the bastard responsible for the pain the DeLuca family was feeling today.

Perhaps this rain was a parting gift from his grandfather, who knew Enzo would not feel worthy of crying over his death, not until the person responsible was dead too. Enzo refused to allow his grandfather’s body to grow cold in the earth while his killer lived life to the fullest, making money, eating, sleeping, fucking, living as if he hadn’t caused the death of a Don. As if he hadn’t taken the patriarch of the DeLuca family away from them.

He refused to allow the DeLuca name to be made weak by the actions of a coward. Though he’d yet to kill the person responsible, those who knew Enzo knew that the coward was a dead man walking. A zombie. He could see, he could feel, he could hear, but he was already dead. There was already a bullet chosen for him.

A bullet blessed by his grandfather before he’d taken his final breath and left Enzo to deal with the chaos the coward had created. Yes, the coward was still moving around in the world of the living, but he was on borrowed time. And that time would expire tonight. It had taken Enzo a few days, but he now knew who the killer was and where to find him.

A life for a life. That was the code they lived by. The bastard would pay for his sins with his life. Not only because of the promise Enzo had made his grandfather but also to prove to their enemies that the DeLuca family was still a family of savages. Under his grandfather’s rule, they’d been nicknamed savage gentleman by some.

They kept to themselves and handled their business as gentlemen, Men of Honor. But when fucked with, they revealed just how brutal their bloodline was, how ruthless their organization was. He knew other families were watching and waiting to see if they’d live up to that title. They were watching to see if they would fall apart or rise up now that Ermanno DeLuca was no longer around.

It wasn’t only their enemies who were watching them. Members of the family were also paying close attention. Today, family members from all around the world were attending the funeral of their Don. Yet, half of them hadn’t shown their faces in Italy in years. They’d moved away and only returned home for funerals and weddings.

Some didn’t even come for that. Yet, they’d come for the funeral of Don DeLuca. Not out of respect, love, or loyalty. They came to see if there would be drama and to see if the passing of the title would cause chaos amongst the organization. Already there was speculation of who the new Don would be.

Whispers of who some wanted it to be had already reached Enzo’s ears. Whispering and talking behind backs were actions of weak men. Enzo liked to handle things face to face. And those who were whispering behind his back would soon have to face him. There was another group of people who’d come to the funeral. His grandfather always referred to people like them as vultures.

They were the ones who’d shown up so they could sidle up to the new Leader and try to get on his good side early so they could make requests of him later. Then there were those who were happy the old Don was dead. They were there to verify it for themselves and to silently gloat that they’d outlived Ermanno DeLuca.

If Enzo could, he’d put a bullet in all those who felt that way. Then he’d bury them underneath his grandfather’s grave so that he could rest in peace the same way he’d lived, with his enemies beneath his feet. As Enzo stared around him, he noted that there was one last group of people present. The loyal.

They were the ones who’d truly come to pay their respects to their fallen Leader. Ermanno DeLuca had been hated by many but loved by more. He’d been a fair Don, who’d steered the organization away from wars and into alliances that benefited them. Some had been happy with the changes he’d made. Others had wanted to go back to the old ways.

They wanted to go back to the old days. The days when organizations fought against organizations regularly to prove who was the more ruthless, to prove who should be the king of the streets. Don DeLuca had won that war and claimed that title. He’d found no need to fight continuously.

However, there were some who’d enjoyed the wars, the chaos, the death, and destruction. It was true. The wars had led to the respect their organization and family enjoyed today. It led to them becoming the most feared family in Italy. The name, DeLuca, was feared and respected worldwide. Yet, the wars hadn’t only brought them glory.

It had brought death and destruction to so many of their people. A lot of blood and tears had been shed for them to hold the position they held today. The Don had taught Enzo to respect those who’d died so that he could stand where he stood. He’d told Enzo not to let those blood and tears be shed in vain.

Some of the family didn’t feel the same way. The problem was determining the motives of those around him. It was hard to tell who was for you and who was against you at a time like this. How was he to know who was crying and who wasn’t? Tears or rain? That was the guessing game he was playing. And he was losing.

The voice of his right-hand man, Stefano Masiello, sounded over the comm-link in his ear. “Enzo, after the funeral, you must go to the reception. You have to show your face there. We all do. As soon as the funeral is over, we can head there.”

Enzo was impatient. He didn’t give a damn about a reception. If he could, he’d skip the entire event. It would only be a bunch of motherfuckers, smiling in his face, telling him stories of the old days and things Don DeLuca had done. He’d heard those stories. He’d seen those smiles. Why the fuck did he need to see and hear them again?

“Nod if you agree, Enzo.”

His gaze darted to the other side of the burial site where Stefan stood. He knew Stefan was only looking out for him. He knew he needed to attend the reception to keep up appearances. However, there were more important things he needed to do. He wouldn’t be able to rest until his fingers were coated with the blood of his enemy.

He wouldn’t be able to rest until his grandfather was avenged and the entire world knew it. But the reception was not something he could skip. Therefore, he nodded. A shadow crept overhead, and the chill of the rain ceased descending upon him. From the corner of his eye, he saw his cousin, Vito DeLuca, stepping forward, holding an umbrella.

“The rain is getting harder,” Vito told him.

“I know.”

“But you don’t care, right?”

Enzo nodded. Vito sighed. Both men stood there, silent once more as they listened to the preacher.

“Sorry, I got here late,” Vito apologized.

“At least you came. Some did not. They will pay the penalty.”

“Not everyone was as close to Grandfather as you and I.”

“But we’re all of his blood. And we’re all supposed to come home when we’re called.”

“You’re right. Family is family. We’re bound together by blood. When needed, we must come.”

“You sound like Grandfather.”

“That’s because those are his words. I’m going to miss our monthly chats over the phone.”

“When did you last talk to him?”

“A week before he was shot. If I’d known then what I do now, I would’ve stayed on the phone with him longer.”

Like his cousin, he’d also been playing the ‘If I’d known game’. If he’d known what he knew now, he would’ve spent more time with his grandfather. He would’ve made time to travel with him.

Every time the Don mentioned taking a trip to the States, Enzo’s excuse was always that he was too busy. He’d give anything to take that trip with him now. Enzo swallowed the lump of aguish rising from within him. No tears. Not yet. It wasn’t time.

Facing Vito, he asked, “What were Grandfather’s last words to you?”

“He told me to always remain true to what I believe in. He told me that he trusted me to do what was right for the family, even if it wasn’t of popular opinion.”

“Grandfather talked about you a lot. He liked the road you’d chosen. He said we needed more men like you to keep us on the right path.”

For a while, neither of them said a word. Then Vito asked, “What were his last words to you?”

The Don’s last words to Enzo were much different from what he’d said to Vito. That was because he expected something different from Enzo. Though the weight of his Grandfather’s expectations of him was heavy, Enzo wouldn’t let him down, and he wouldn’t fold under the pressure.

He’d do exactly as he was told. His eyes were glued to the casket as it was lowered into the ground. Goodbye Grandfather. Rest in peace, Don Ermanno DeLuca. No crying. It still wasn’t time for that yet.

“Enzo,” Vito called to him. “What were Grandfather’s last words to you?”

As the casket disappeared, Enzo responded. “He told me to remind them of who we are.”

Savages.

Series Authors 

Kenya Wright, Amarie Avant, Xavier Neal, Keta Kendric, Sonja B, Courtney Dean, L Loren, Sage Young, M’Renee Allen, Tiye, Shani Greene-Dowdell, Tamika Brown, Lyndell Williams, Imani Jay, Siera London, PE Kavanagh, Cassie Verano, Amaya Black, Theresa Hodge, Kasey Martin

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