Thank you for stopping in. Your interest in my writing means the world. If you have not read my work, please visit my BOOKS page for more details. If you have read SOULED OUT, FRAYED, or TIN MOON, please leave a review online and be sure to tell a friend. Your voice matters more than anything. Word-of-mouth and reviews are the most important ways for authors to be discovered by new readers.

Thank you for taking time to stop in and learn more about me. You are wonderful!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Review - Frost Burn, by Erica Stevens

https://www.amazon.com/Frost-Burn-Fire-Ice-Book-ebook/dp/B00Z1XMFY0/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Frost+burn+erica+stevens&qid=1563475362&s=digital-text&sr=1-1
FROST BURN is a fun read. There's a little Bon Temps action with the cozy neighborhood bar Quinn waitresses at. She has a past, and a particular power, that could make anyone scream for mercy. Turned into a vampire six years ago, Quinn muddles by. She lives frugally and kills anything preternatural that threatens her. 

However, a prophesy has been making its rounds in the vampire community quicker than family gossip. Quinn might be their future, their salvation...whether she likes it or not.

Julian and his friends walk into Quinn's life one night, and getting rid of them proves to be a major pain in her ass. They must protect her to ensure that the haphazard vampire race does not rise with a twisted purpose, using her power for their personal gain.

Quinn is tough, sassy, and fun. Her slowly evolving relationship with Julian felt refreshing and realistic. Jumping in the sack right away might sound nice on paper, but it can become scripted. The slow burn is always worth the wait.

I have already started reading book two in this series, Arctic Fire

Review - Blood Vow, by Mina Carter

https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Vow-Kyn-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01MFDSEG5?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-ffnt-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B01MFDSEG5
Maria is looking for revenge. She has decided to hunt the dangerous streets for rogue vampires. The same type of vampire that killed her sister, who was a half-breed like her. Only, she meets Marak, a warrior vampire fighting against the rogues. They have an immediate pull toward one another, and he agrees to train her to kill rogues.

The set-up is great. The idea for BLOOD VOW is great. I only wish Maria had held onto her ambitions to kill rogues. Her need for revenge kind of peters out when she realizes how much she likes Marak, who lies about who he is by giving her a different name. His friend's name. Why his friend's name?

Also, Maria is fighting against the patriarchy of the vampire kind. The males always protect the females, who are supposed to stay locked away, safe and bored. She doesn't want this in the least, to be someone's "little woman".

(SPOILER ALERT) So..she loses sight of her mission to avenge her sister. It's more important to be Marak's soulmate. Marak's nickname for her is "Little One", which I find degrading and a little creepy. Is she a child or a fully grown equal? And the difference between their heights is constantly referenced, which constantly gave me images of a tiny person with a giant. As a short woman who has dated taller men in the past, believe me, it never turned me into the size of a yard gnome. In the end, she gets married, so she really becomes Marak's little woman. (END SPOILER ALERT)

The writing is wonderful. The storyline has such potential! I'm just not sure I can overlook Maria's lackluster attitude for being a modern woman avenging her sister. Would I give the second book in the series a try? Maybe. I'm always up for redemption.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I think any paranormal vampire romance reader would enjoy BLOOD VOW. These are just my personal hangups that I have expressed in my review. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Review - Marked By a Bite, by K. J. Padgett

MARKED BY A BITE has earned a place on my bookshelf, right next to Lynsay Sands. Hands down, Ryn and Luke are one of my favorite couples in a long time!

I came across MARKED BY A BITE in a Goodreads group by chance.

Ryn is a believable character. She is a modern college student with relationship fears because of a recent breakup. But it is her easy attitude and smarts that won me over. Usually, I find myself yelling at a character not to fall head over heels for the guy. Not to lose herself and everything she has worked at being. Not to run downhill into a cheese grater. Ryn is a girl after my own heart. She has major feelings for Luke, but her reasons for not rushing into that good night are valid. Sane. And she isn't allowing her feelings to cloud her judgment when danger is close by.

Luke is harder to pinpoint. I tried to find a box and label, but couldn't. That was refreshing. He isn't pompous or pushy. And yet, he isn't a pushover. He is sexy and vulnerable in all the right ways (the broken glass scene, ah-hem), and Padgett leaves a lot to be explored in the series. There is much the reader is left wanting to know about Luke, like why he is allowing two ass hats to run a clave that obviously belongs to him in some way.

I will definitely read every future book in this new series, and anything else that Padgett has to offer.

If this sounds like a book for you, show K. J. Padgett some love. Find her on Goodreads, Amazon, or her Author Page.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Frayed Sequel Coming July 26, 2019

A MADISON LARK ADVENTURE TWO: SKINNED 
is coming July 26th!

SKINNED is available for pre-order through Amazon next week. A huge thanks to my friend, Nhys Glover, for the extraordinary cover art for both FRAYED and SKINNED. I never thought it was possible to find a cover model who could capture Fray's beauty so perfectly. She has the magic touch. Nhys is also a wonderfully accomplished author. Be sure to check out all of her novels. There is a perfect moment and a book boyfriend for everyone.

It has been exciting to reconnect with Fray, as well as many memorable characters from FRAYED. While you will surely remember Blaire, the ex with a body worth driving through Hell for, and Darien, Fray's ever-protective brother, some new characters will keep you glued to the pages. Some may even work their way into your nightmares.



A race of snake shapeshifters -the serpentes- are ready to crown their first king in over one thousand years. Fray and her group, the Collective, must protect the potential kings from an outlier group of serpentes hell bent on terminating the prophecy in the most gruesome way imaginable.

Months have passed since Fray and her allies battled the Dissenters. As all involved have struggled to move forward, Fray finds herself at an emotional impasse. Deep in the forgotten woods of North Carolina, she accidentally awakens an ancient gorgon magic that has more moves than a double-edged sword.

Surrounded by temptation and bloodshed, Fray learns that bones never lie. Some even speak.


SKINNED EXCERPT


 CHAPTER ONE


I had always relished that sacred time alone when everyone was so busy I could slink about in my own world while the house was empty. But now that empty space was nothing but a spiteful bitch making me look over my shoulder and check the locks on the doors twice as often.
That pissed me off.
Lobbing the keys at the bowl on the side table in the foyer and narrowly missing, I nervously kicked off my sneakers, leaving them in the middle of the rug, and headed upstairs for a shower. A quick one. The way the water drowned everything out was more like a straightjacket than a seductive embrace these days.
I passed my suitcase on the bed, right where I had left it earlier. Everything that I’d need was packed, except for my toothbrush. A sense of exhilaration tingled through me, though it was chased soon after by a weight I understood all too well.
Shifters had always abided by strict rules. While men were free to travel between lepes -the multiple leopard clans that formed our society- women were forbidden to cross boundaries without express approval by their leaders. Which usually meant never. However, since forming whatever the fuck you wanted to call it, our little "good neighbor" group, compiled of every type of shapeshifter in the area, could travel across any boundary unharmed. It was the only reason I agreed to join the Collective. Because I needed freedom. Absolute, borderless freedom for my revenge on the sick group that had ruined so many lives, ending one. And if that revenge came in the guise of goodwill, well then, love and blood never sounded so virtuous.
"Damn," I muttered under my breath. "When did everything become so fucking complicated?"
            After a hot shower, I threw on a pair of loose black sweats and crept downstairs to check the empty house for signs of life. A chill foraged my soul when I noticed the empty spot on the rug where my sneakers should have been. Where I damn well knew I left them.
            Coercing my feet into movement with silent threats, I immediately regretted telling my roommates so many times that it didn’t bother me to be home alone. It didn’t bother me that a bitter madman was still out there, waiting for my inevitable downfall, probably stalking my mental degeneration with popcorn and a creepy fucking smile.
            Standing in the doorway to the foyer, I eyed my keys, now sitting patiently in the bowl on the table.
            What the hell? 
Feeling my body tense in anticipation of my fight or flight response, I knew I was about to run. And something about that made my heart sick. There was a time when I never would have considered running. It wasn’t even an option. Fight. It had always been fight.
So where was my fight?
Taking an incredibly deep breath, I heard a sudden lurching noise and spun to find my brother standing in the doorway between the living room and kitchen, propping the door open with his palm. His tidy white shirt and wrinkle-free slacks were a welcome sight.
Darien's facial expressions always mirrored that of our father. Of course, I hadn't seen Dad in so long I was amazed I could remember shit all about him to even compare. It had come as a blow to discover that he had deserted his lepe long ago in favor of a nest. A repugnant, cold snake pit. They had been hiding it from me for years, all of them. Cowards. Not knowing how to handle the lies and deceit, I simply ignored the whole damn mess. Including Dad's calls.
My big brother's expression conjured that of trepidation as I eyed him.
"What are you doing?" Darien asked, especially concerned once he realized my heart was ready to burst from my chest like an elephant running from a mouse. A juiced up, rabies-infested, 'I eat killer clowns for breakfast' bastard of a mouse.
"I…" I shook my head, willing my eyes to blink. "I thought I lost my keys." I pointed to the glass dish. "But they’re right there."
Inspecting everything about my performance, he wasn’t yet convinced.
"I set them where they should be." Carefully, he asked, "Is there something you want to talk about?"
"Yeah," I said, "I'd like to know when you turned into Lydia." Our roommate, Lydia, had no concept of boundaries and lived for sharing feelings. Faking a laugh, I crossed the living room, stopping at the bottom of the stairs, and grabbed the rail. Pausing, I forced the right side of my mouth to curve into a smirk. "I’m fine, Darien. I'm always fine. You should know that by now."
"Well, I’m just grabbing a late dinner before I head out again. Are you sure-"
"I’m fine," I lied a second time, voice flat.
"Okay. I’m sure it won’t be long before the real Lydia gets home."
Lydia was studying for her third degree in God only knew, writing research paper after research paper, and never came home without a stack of books tucked under her dainty chin.
"Whatever. I’m going to bed."
Softly, Darien said, "The nightmares won't last forever."
"I'm not worr-"
"They won't."
Ignoring his tender expression, I barked, "Use the fucking lock when you leave."
"I’ll lock up." It was a solid promise. My heightened paranoia hadn’t gone unnoticed. Hell, it sunbathed like a cat in a picture window.
Trying to sound upbeat rather than desperate, as if I were watching the last raft float away into the darkness of an alien sea, I blurted, "I love you."
"Don’t be nervous, little sister. The trip will go well. I’ll meet you there in two days."
His assumption was misplaced, but I let him believe he was right, that he had discovered the root of my angst, because he wasn’t all wrong. Although I was elated at the prospect of traveling, I had yet to be convinced that our purpose was necessary. The serpentes -snake shifters- required an impartial eye to oversee an ancient ritual to crown their next king. Were we supposed to polish his crown or signal for the audience to clap? It sounded like a bullshit attempt to waste our time.
            Nodding to my brother, I managed a smile and headed to bed. After all, Darien had straightened up behind me: the keys, the shoes. There was no one else in the house. No lurking psychopath, other than myself. And my brother was right, the trip would go as planned no matter how I felt about it. I only wished he had been right about the nightmares disappearing.
            They cracked my head open like a tossed salad and paralyzed my memories in a fossilized state of hyperawareness. The damned things also sent me running straight into the solid arms I had fought so hard against.


CHAPTER TWO


 Knocking on my ex’s door at two in the morning to cuddle when I couldn't sleep wasn’t a copout, it was a goddamn necessity. And not for the typical horny reasons. My massive case of bed-head was a testament to the urgency.
Ever since the Dissenters had kidnapped and mutilated shifter children -our children- the memories were reluctant to fade, and the dreams trailed closer than the children who stacked reality too high and heavy on my heart that horrendous night. But I only drove across town when the nightmares made night terrors look like kittens in drag.
The mammoth mahogany door opened briskly. I hugged my black leather jacket close and hopped from foot to foot in the early morning chill. Until I looked up. Blaire was barefoot, wearing nothing but boxers. Holy shit! His bronzed chest begged to be teased by my fingertips and his powerful shoulders could outperform anyone I knew. Forcing my gaze upward, past the sensual lines of his neck, I stared into perfect ocean eyes that haunted my very best memories.
Us. Hawaii.
Our leopards frolicked by a lagoon, catching fish and sunbathing from the time the sun rose until it set behind a panoramic view inspiring countless postcards. Blaire’s fur receded, his golden flesh compelled by heat and nefarious instincts as he drew closer. Shifting as well, I matched his advances, meeting flesh with flesh. We never spoke, never argued, as my legs hugged his hips.
There was a perfection in that love yet to be matched by any other moment or person. And I was never without it, especially in my darkest hour, which is what gave me the strength to come here, even as I fought to remember one reigning fact: The blue flame is the hottest part of the fire. I was well aware this arrangement, accompanied by the eagerness in those blue lagoon eyes, would char every last part of me if we broke our abstinence policy.
"Aren’t we past calling first?" Blaire’s voice washed over my spine, tickling all the way down. "I sent the orgy home hours ago," he mused, swiftly ruining the effect.
I shrugged. "You know me, Blaire. I hate to bust up a party."
Inhaling a deep breath, he shook his head. "Still Blaire, I see."
He wanted me to call him Cale. Only, that was impossible due to our non-exclusive, anti-relationship, relationship agreement. Blaire was an oversexed body pillow. That’s all. Calling him Cale implied so much more, and that was very specifically off limits.
Trying to ignore the solemn undertone, I teased, "What should I call you, Pussycat?"
"If that’s my only choice."
"I can be more inventive, but past experience reminds me that people don’t care much for my creativity."
Blaire was a little too sober when he accused, "You’ve turned my name into a stain."
"No," I protested, "You did. I’m just a reminder. A very tired reminder." Looking at my watch, I shook my head. "Maybe you'd prefer I left? This was a mistake."
His dark curls swooshed as his unbelievably toned body sighed into mine. "You know what I prefer." The heat of his breath graced a delicate region of my neck.
"But dreams only come true for good little cats," I tisked.
After swatting temptation in the ass, I tossed my keys next to his on the delicate armchair, which cradled far too much crap. It wasn’t as easy to ignore Blaire’s advances as I made it seem, but it was enough to make him keep trying. I hated that part of me that liked the effort and attention. Although, the thought of him never trying again would shut down something inside me.
A yellow halo pierced through the crack of Old Abram’s bedroom door off to the right of the entry.
"How’s your father?"
He helped me out of my coat and hung it on the rack next to his.
"Dedicated to consistency."
Whether out of frustration or rebellion, Blaire rarely entertained conversations concerning his father. It had been months since the leader of our lepe, Abram Blaire, sat up, let alone spoke. He was comatose. The Western Lepe—the group of leopards I grew up with and considered family—was baffled. Other than a pre-existing heart murmur, there was no medically validated reason for his current state.
I peeked inside the quiet room. Old Man Abram’s hair looked grayer, but he hadn’t moved. My nostrils flared at the light presence of incense. Amita had prayed with her husband recently. The old man wasn’t a practicing Hindu but she was. 
"Come." Blaire wrapped his arm around my shoulders. Squeezing me close, we retired to his bedroom.
Sleeping used to be so instinctual. I trained and fought all day, so it was easy to fall asleep before the sheet ever had time to cascade around me. But now sleep was a dragon-tailed whip with enough bite to split fear from common sense and enough power to make me not see the difference.
"Do you want me to rub your back?" Blaire’s voice was heavy as we slid between the sheets. So the Sandman was listening to my pleas. Only, he doused the wrong shifter.
I let out a long-held breath. "No."
He rolled over, his head on the satin pillow. In my ear, he whispered, "There are so many things to fight. Why fight sleep?"
"I don’t know," I whispered back. "Because I can, I suppose. Maybe because I don’t know how else to be right now. I’m sorry it involves you."
"Don't apologize." Blaire rose onto his elbow, casting his drowsy eyes down upon me. "Don’t ever be sorry for coming here."  
He laid back down. Creeping under the leg of my ratty sweats, Blaire leisurely ran the bottom of his foot up and down my skin. It was a relaxing sensation. So much that I didn’t even remember falling asleep.
The wave of nightmares, however, didn’t stop just because I was in a different bed. Equally so, the monsters would never stop because they were real and had found their target. Blaire’s comfort was simple. My leopard knew his. After a startlingly realistic dream, I could allow my kitty senses to bathe in Blaire’s dominance with the satisfaction that together we would rip the glorious fuck out of anything coming for me, imagined or otherwise.
So we slept, we dreamed, and the night almost drew to a close before I woke Blaire with the shrill pleas of, "Help me! Help me!"
He undoubtedly presumed I was screaming for someone to actually help me. Help me from being caught. Help me from being tortured. It couldn’t have been further from the truth, though I never made an effort to correct him. I knew who I screamed for.
Jack. Always for Jack. For the boy whose name I no longer spoke out loud. For the pride boy who died for Marisa, one of our own. For the mangled corpse I would never free from the web in my head. The weight of him in my arms was always there. My mind refused to process the sudden loss of someone I had never cared to know before that cruel day.
Barely awake, I rose on all fours. A metallic hint saturated the air. Malevolence abounded, sucking away any shred of comfort. And the screams, they filled the night with such devastation. I had never heard children scream like that, as if every god in every heart had been murdered. Snarling, I prepared to shift and fight for Jack, the pride boy. Feeling my fingernails thicken to points, I sliced through flesh until the assaulting figures blurred together. My ferocious leopard half was angling for the kill, fur roiling under my skin, but a force knocked me off balance. Once it turned into a persistent, familiar voice, I settled long enough for my eyelids to flutter open.
Blaire’s weight pinned me to the bed.
"My hands," I mumbled.
"What’s wrong with them?"   
"The blood won’t come off."
"Let me see."
I held them up between us, my eyelids heavy. Blaire’s warm fingers traced my palms from wrists to fingertips and washed over my knuckles. When I didn’t respond, he insisted I sit up and open my eyes. "There is no blood. See? None."
Working to break the bond between dream and consciousness, I finally shook my head like a goddamn animal. Voice lazy from sleep, I smiled, but it was twisted and out of sorts. "The blood’s never gone, Blaire. That’s what no one understands. Half the shifters want me to be some type of Messiah. The other half demand more blood, but they ignore the blood that’s already been spilled."
"They can’t turn you into someone you don’t want to be. You're too strong for that." His hand hovered close, like he wanted to touch me but couldn’t afford my wrath if I lashed out.
I stared at him. "Who am I now? I’m not a fighter. I quit. If something attacked me, I used to eat it alive. Now I hide, because I remember what it’s like to escape death. I used to be strong."
"You are strong."
"Look at me. I run here in the middle of the night and cower in your bed how many nights a week? And I keep trying to make it, to make what happened to all of us, make sense in my head, but my heart" -I beat against my chest- "cannot rationalize it."
"No!" Blaire raised his voice as he sat up, shifting his weight to sit on his shins. "I should have known earlier of the Dissenters and their plans. I should have been leading rather than embracing prejudices passed down from outdated moralities. You fought that. You brought them back."
I sat up. "To what?"
We were essentially screaming in each other’s faces.
"To a new way of thinking."
"Well, it’s not enough to erase what happened to them. I let them get broken. I watched one break." Tears rimmed my bloodshot eyes.
A piece of me never left the shed with Jack. Something important was permanently missing. It was claimed by the freak trolling my nightmares and savoring the moment we met again. I vowed to myself, Jack, and the other kids to gut the bastard. He was the very devil.
Blaire interrupted my devious thoughts.
"Do not reject the one way I can help." His voice dropped off, exhausted from more than Dissenters and a father with a mystery illness. "Don’t invent a new way to reject me."
At that moment, I realized that our arrangement hadn’t been a Dutch meal. Blaire needed some cuddles of his own, a respite from the unknowns in our lepe’s near future.  
"I’m not. I’m just not me anymore."
"Really? Because hiding behind your anger is nothing new."
"That’s bullshit." I leapt from the bed, slipping my sneakers on.
"What are you doing?"
I pointed to the alarm on his side of the bed. "It’s almost six."
"Come back to bed."
"I’ve got to finish packing, jog, and leave, so what’s the point?"
"Yeah," he collapsed onto the bed, muttering, "What’s the point?" before rolling over.
Left staring at his back, I was speechless. And royally fuming.
Of course, it didn’t take long to find my voice.
"I leave town in less than three hours, Blaire. So you’re just going to roll over?"
"No." He flung the sheets back and crossed the room, closing the distance between us. "I want to give you something to think about while you’re away."
Swooping me into his arms, Blaire didn’t just kiss me, he ransacked my flesh with his lips and threatened to boil my blood with his aura. Burning inside out would have been a perfect demise if I hadn't already planned out my day. Also, excavating our lust was dangerous. Reckless.
Cruel.
When my lips were mine again, I mumbled, "I'll take that into consideration," and practically ran home. Had I known the rest of my day would turn into a shit fest, I would have stayed in bed with Blaire.