Friday, March 28, 2014

Cover Reveal - War by Jennifer Anne Davis

OFFICIAL COVER REVEAL: WAR by Jennifer Anne Davis 

"Within these pages lie kingdoms with castles and princes who fall in love with fair maidens, but make no mistake−this is no fairytale." ~The Key by Jennifer Anne Davis 

We are pleased to reveal the official cover of WAR, the third and final installment in The True Reign Series by Jennifer Anne Davis. Given that the first two books in this series have remained on the best-selling lists for months, we know there are numerous people excited about this upcoming release. WAR is slated for release on May 6, 2014. Tell us what you think of this new, gorgeous cover. Also, don't forget, book one in this series is FREE!



When Rema chose to be crowned queen and join the rebel forces, she knew she'd face the fight of her life. What she didn't expect was to be kidnapped by an Emperion assassin and taken to the mainland to be executed in front of the emperor. How can she save Greenwood Island if she can't even save herself?

Darmik knows he doesn't have much time to rescue Rema. He’s denounced his position as Commander and Prince in order to join the rebels. But now he must rely on his family name in order to go before the Emperor—his uncle—and beg for Rema’s life.

If Rema and Darmik have any hope of being together and saving their kingdom, they must survive the greatest threat of all—Emperion.

This is the heart-pounding conclusion to The True Reign Series.


The True Reign Series
BY JENNIFER ANNE DAVIS 

Series: The True Reign Series

THE KEY by Jennifer Anne Davis
(FREE!)

Within these pages lie kingdoms with castles and princes who fall in love with fair maidens, but make no mistake−this is no fairytale. 

His father's kingdom is on the brink of upheaval and at the center of it all is an ordinary girl who could be the key to its undoing. When faced with the ultimate choice, will he choose the girl he's falling in love with or the kingdom he has sworn to protect?

An ordinary girl with an extraordinary past... All she wants is to be free. What she doesn't realize is that freedom comes with a price she can't afford to pay. She's forced to accept the proposal of a prince she despises, even though her heart belongs to someone else... his brother.

Seventeen-year-old Rema lives in a brutal kingdom where travel between regions is forbidden, people are starving, and looking at someone the wrong way can mean death. Nineteen-year-old Darmik is the king’s son and Commander of the King’s Army. He spends his days roving the island, doing his father’s bidding and trying to maintain control over the people.

When a chance encounter throws Rema and Darmik together, they share an instantaneous connection, but any sort of relationship between them is strictly forbidden. Darmik’s brother, the Crown Prince, notices Darmik’s interest in Rema and, in a calculated, political move, blackmails her. Faced with an impossible choice, Rema is forced to sacrifice her heart in order to save her family. 

As Rema is taken to the palace with the Crown Prince, Darmik confronts the growing rumor that a legitimate blood heir to the throne exists and is trying to overthrow Darmik’s family. In Darmik’s quest to hunt down and kill the threat, he discovers that nothing is as it seems. Locked in the king’s castle, Rema finds herself a key player in a massive power struggle. When Darmik shows up, she’s not sure if she can trust him. The line between friends, enemies, and loyalty becomes blurred. As truths are unlocked, Rema understands that she just might be the key to finding the rightful heir and restoring peace to the kingdom… if she can manage to stay alive long enough.

RED by Jennifer Anne Davis

Sentenced to be executed. 

Betrayed. Alone. 

Hung on the gallows. 

Rema thought her life was over, but she was wrong. 

Saved by a rebel force she’d only ever heard rumors about, Rema finds herself in a forbidden place. She is finally safe—free from the king and Prince Lennek. But not everything is as it seems at the rebel fortress. Secrets are whispered, and loyalties are tested. Once Rema uncovers the truth of her heritage, will she flee? Or will she ascend to the throne, taking on the responsibility of an entire kingdom? 

Now that Darmik knows Rema’s true identity, he’s on a quest to save her. But when an Emperion assassin arrives on Greenwood Island, Darmik knows he doesn’t have very long to find her. In a deadly game with high stakes, will Darmik remain loyal to his family? Or will he break away and join the rebels? 


Kingdoms rise and fall. 

Heroes are born and made. 

But one thing remains the same—love conquers all. 


About Jennifer Anne Davis



Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she finally married her best friend and high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three young children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.

Visit Jennifer online at www.JenniferAnneDavis.com.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Five Corners: The Marked Ones By Cathi Shaw

Blurb


Growing up in a sleepy village untouched by distant wars and political conflicts, it was easy for Thia, Mina and Kiara to forget such horrors existed in the Five Corners. That is until the dead child is found; a child that bears the same strange birthmark that all three sisters possess. A Mark their mother had always told them was unique to the girls.

Kiara’s suspicions grow as their Inn is soon overrun with outsiders from all walks of life. Strangers, soldiers and Elders who all seem to know more about what is happening than the girls do.

After Mina barely survives an attack in the forest, the sisters are faced with a shattering secret their mother has kept from them for years. As danger closes in around them, the sisters are forced from their home and must put their trust in the hands of strangers.  With more questions than answers, Kiara finds herself separated from everyone she loves and reliant on an Outlander who has spent too much time in army. She doesn’t trust Caedmon but she needs him if she has any hope of being reunited with her sisters and learning what the Mark might mean.

My Review


This was a fun read.  Something a bit different and not done over and over.  So, for the uniqueness aspect I thoroughly enjoyed it.  There were a few aspects of the story that could be improved upon, but nothing that is too distracting from the story itself.

Some of the names tripped me up a bit, but that is kind of par for the course when it comes to a fantasy-esque story.  All in all it kept me wanting, though not quite as much as I would have liked.  I do still want to read the next story in the series to find out what exactly happens and what else has been kept from the sisters.  Nice job to the author for her creative and unique story!

Interview with Cathi Shaw


Beckstar Reviews:  First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.  
Cathi Shaw:  The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

BR:  If you could only eat one food the rest of your life, what would it be?
CS:  Chickpeas – they are versatile and I could do a million things with them. But this actually sounds like torture to only be able to eat ONE kind of food.

BR:  If you were a shifter, what animal would you like to be?
CS:  Wolf

BR:  Favorite season? Why?
CS: Winter because snow and holidays. No, wait: Summer because no school and beaches. No, wait. Spring because everything is so fresh and romance is in the air. No, wait: Fall because I love the crisp air and crunch of leaves.

BR:  Best movie ever made?  
CS:  Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Peter Jackson

Excerpt


Kiara stared at the small body laid out in the family's tiny kitchen. She didn't know the child but that didn't stop her heart from jerking in her chest as she looked at the perfect little girl lying in the wooden box. She was dressed in what were obviously her best clothes; her dark hair had been carefully combed and braided. She was only six years old.

Kiara felt her own mother watching her closely. She forced her gaze away from the small lifeless form. Brijit murmured softly to the parents and then moved to Kiara's side. 

"Come away from here, Kiara," her mother said firmly.

But Kiara couldn't stop herself from looking back at the child, noting how someone had twined a pretty scarf around her neck, concealing the ugly slashes that she knew were hidden beneath the colorful material. The result of a blade taken to vulnerable flesh. This poor girl had had no chance against her assailant.

Brijit tugged on her arm insistently. "There is nothing more for us to do here," she whispered in a hushed undertone. "Let’s go and give the family some peace."

Kiara felt a sudden wave of shame wash over her. She suddenly wondered what she was doing here? 

Don’t try to deny it, she told herself vehemently, you know why you’re here.

She had seen the Mark on the child's shoulder. She resisted the urge to rub her own shoulder where an identical Mark was hidden beneath her tunic. It was something she’d believed she only shared with her sisters. But this child proved different.

And there was no question that this child had been assassinated.

About Cathi Shaw


Cathi Shaw lives in Summerland, BC with her husband and three children.  She is often found wandering around her home, muttering in a seemingly incoherent manner, particularly when her characters have embarked on new adventure. In addition to writing fiction, she teaches rhetoric and professional writing in the Department of Communications at Okanagan College and is the co-author of the textbook Writing Today.




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Purchase Five Corners: The Marked Ones on Ink-Smith, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble!



Friday, March 21, 2014

Cold Day in Hell by Jerrie Alexander

Blurb


Ex-Army Ranger Tyrell Castillo's first mission for Lost and Found, Inc. goes awry when his contact is kidnapped, and he's left scrambling for weapons and explosives. He'll have to blow up a drug cartel's compound, rescue the woman, and keep her safe while they cross the sweltering hot Colombian jungle. 

Driven by the need for revenge, Ana Maria Vega Cisneros doesn't want to be rescued. She wants revenge. She'll risk her life to ensure the drug lord who killed her family suffers the same fate.

The cartel leaves a trail of blood on their hunt for Ty and Ana. When Ty receives the order to kill the drug lord with extreme prejudice, he and Ana will face the enemy head on. Can Ty protect the woman who's hell bent on vengeance? The woman he's grown to love?

My Review




Excerpt


He didn't have time to reason with her. And from what he'd seen so far, sweet-talking her was out. "I'm going to remove my hand. If you fight me, I'll tie and gag you. Got it?"

This time he got a full nod. The expression behind her eyes made him doubt her honesty. 

"I don't have time to argue, so you'll have to trust that I'm the contact you were supposed to meet in Bogota." Cautiously, he lifted two fingers from her lips and waited to see if she complied.

"I know who you are," she hissed. "And you've ruined everything."

"Me? I think you've cornered the market on screw-ups." He quickly assessed her condition. Other than the bruise, she appeared to be unharmed. Long dark hair fell around her shoulders. She wore jeans and a T-shirt. All she needed was shoes, preferably a good pair of boots.

Damn, she was a little thing. Beautiful, bruised, and pissed. Protecting her as they crossed the sweltering jungle wasn't going to be easy. This woman was going to make the next few days a living hell.

About Jerrie Alexander


A student of creative writing in her youth, Jerrie set aside her passion when life presented her with a John Wayne husband, and two wonderful children.  A career in logistics offered her the opportunity to travel to many beautiful locations in America, and she revisits them in her romantic suspense novels.  

But the characters went with her, talked to her, and insisted she share their dark, sexy stories with others.  She writes alpha males and kick-ass women who weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other.  She likes to torture people, make them suffer, and if they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after. 

The author of THE GREEN-EYED DOLL, THE LAST EXECUTION, SOMONE TO WATCH OVER ME, and HELL OR HIGH WATER, book 1 in the Lost and Found, Inc. Jerrie lives in Texas, loves sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for her heroes and heroines. 

Stalker Links


Purchase Cold Day in Hell on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Apocalypticon by Clayton Smith

Blurb


Three years have passed since the Jamaicans caused the apocalypse, and things in post-Armageddon Chicago have settled into a new kind of normal. Unfortunately, that "normal" includes collapsing skyscrapers, bands of bloodthirsty maniacs, and a dwindling cache of survival supplies. After watching his family, friends, and most of the non-sadistic elements of society crumble around him, Patrick decides it's time to cross one last item off his bucket list.

He’s going to Disney World.

This hilarious, heartfelt, gut-wrenching odyssey through post-apocalyptic America is a pilgrimage peppered with peril, as fellow survivors Patrick and Ben encounter a slew of odd characters, from zombie politicians and deranged survivalists to a milky-eyed oracle who doesn't have a lot of good news. Plus, it looks like Patrick may be hiding the real reason for their mission to the Magic Kingdom...

Excerpt


Ben ripped off a fresh, cleanish strip of blanket and wrapped it around the hand. Patrick whimpered as he pulled it tight and tied it off. “Next time the world ends, let’s make sure we’re stocked up on peroxide and bandages,” Ben said.

Patrick glowered at the first aid kit, which lay open on the hood. Its contents included, and were extremely limited to, six Band-Aids, four cotton swabs, a bottle of Tylenol, some nail polish remover, a packet of Midol, a travel box of Clorox Handi Wipes, and a roll of Tums. “Who packed that thing?” Ben asked. “Pee Wee Herman?”

“The really scary part is, that’s the kit we had in a house with a five-year-old. Criminy. We’re lucky 20 fold-up accordion snakes didn’t pop out when we opened the lid.” He picked up the Tylenol with his good hand and struggled with the lid for a while before turning it over to Ben. “Help. It’s childproof.”

He couldn’t tell if he really had a fever, or it if was a phantom sickness, but he wasn’t taking any chances. The most benign injury could turn fatal without basic medical supplies. And a half-inch hole through the hand was not a benign injury. If the alcohol didn’t kill the infection, he’d lose his hand. That’s a surgery he didn’t want to think about undergoing with full sedation, much less in the backwoods of Mississippi while buzzed on a bottle of Canadian Mist with Ben as his surgeon. He checked the bandage and made sure it was tight. The wound seemed to have stopped bleeding, at least, though he seemed to have lost feeling in his three middle fingers. He didn't take that for a good sign. “We need real medical supplies,” he said. “Because I am not letting you cut off my hand.”

“What’s the point of even having a machete if we’re not gonna use it?” Ben complained.

About Clayton Smith


Clayton Smith is a sometimes-writer, sometimes-napper based in Chicago, where he uses neither his bachelor’s in journalism nor his master’s in arts management. He is often calamitous, and good at bacon. He lives with his impressively tolerant wife.

Clayton’s previous works include Pants on Fire: A Collection of Lies and the comedic play Death and McCootie, which debuted at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival.


Stalker Links

Purchase Apocalypticon on Amazon in paperback and for your Kindle.

Clayton is awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  The more you comment, the better your chances at winning!  Follow the tour here!



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Descending by Holly Kelly - Cover Reveal

DESCENDING by Holly Kelly (Book 2 in The Rising Series)
Release Date: March 28, 2014
NEW ADULT PARANORMAL ROMANCE



We are so pleased to reveal this gorgeous cover of Descending by Holly Kelly. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this gorgeous cover! Don't forget to join Clean Teen Publishing's giant release party where we will be celebrating the release of 4 amazing new releases! 



Amazing prizes will be given away as we celebrate the release of Descending by Holly Kelly, The Mind's Eye by K.C. Finn, Moonflower by Angela J. Townsend and Wicked Hunger by Delsheree Gladden. 

ABOUT DESCENDING:



When Xanthus cashes in a long-standing favor, Kyros is faced with doing two things he thought he'd never do—protect a mermaid and live on land. Dagonians loathe mermaids and Sara, Xanthus's wife, is no exception. Also, a Dagonian standing on human legs? As if being around the vile creatures responsible for polluting his home and killing his sister wasn't horrible enough, Kyros has to deal with Sara's troublesome human friend, Gretchen.

Kyros can't help but resent Gretchen. Not only is she human and unforgettably gorgeous, but she leaves him swimming in confusion and feeling things he shouldn't be feeling—least of all for a land-walker! When Gretchen is nearly killed by an assassin's bullet, Kyros's mission changes. He's forced to become her protector. Forced is a gross exaggeration, though. The more time Kyros spends with Gretchen, the more he finds himself falling for this spunky, witty human. When it becomes apparent that something dark and evil will stop at nothing to see Gretchen dead, Kyros expends his resources to find out who that being is. Unfortunately, the answer causes more problems than it solves. When a rogue mermaid wants you dead, you’re safe from no one… not even the ones you love.

EXCLUSIVE BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK:

Making the cover by Marya Heiman: Our Clean Teen Publishing co-owner and graphics guru, gives you an inside look of how the cover of Descending came to be! Many people wonder how a cover comes to life. It takes a creative look through millions of photos and a vision of layers upon layers of elements to bring an epic cover to life. Check out a few elements that made Descending what it is today! Don't forget to leave us a comment about your thoughts on the cover! Do you love this cover? Marya Heiman does freelance work too! Check out her services available to all authors and publishing companies at Strong Image Editing.



"I had so much fun making Descending. There's just something about the beauty of mermaids that draws you in. It was a challenge to create and I think the cover came out lovely." ~Marya Heiman


GET THE BEST SELLING FIRST BOOK IN THE RISING SERIES TODAY FOR FREE ON MOST PLATFORMS! 




In a war between the humans and the inhabitants of the sea—humans will lose. Xanthus Dimitriou—the most lethal Dagonian to rise from the ocean—is on a mission to save mankind from annihilation. But first there’s one small thing he needs to do… kill a beautiful young woman in a wheelchair.

Killing her doesn’t start out as part of his plan. He entrenches himself deep in the human world. Aligning himself with his enemies, he prepares to send them to Triton to face their punishment. Then Sara Taylor rolls onto the scene. Xanthus knows at once she’s a criminal. And her crime? Being born. She’s a human/Dagonian half-breed, an abomination. Killing her should be an easy job. All he has to do is break into her apartment, slit her throat, and feed her body to the sharks. Simple, right? Wrong. If only she weren’t so beautiful, so innocent, so sweet...

Saving the world may have to wait. It appears Xanthus has a woman to save. But protecting her may cost him his own life.





About Holly Kelly







Holly Kelly is a mom who writes books in her spare time: translation--She hides in the bathroom with her laptop and locks the door while the kids destroy the house and smear peanut butter on the walls.


Holly was born in Utah but lived in Salina, Kansas until she was 13 and in Garland, Texas until she was 18. She's now back in Utah--"happy valley". Holly is married to her wonderful husband, James, and the two of them are currently raising 6 rambunctious children. Her interests are reading, writing (or course), martial arts, visual arts, and spending time with family.

Holly Kelly's first published book is: Rising. Rising was published by Clean Teen Publishing on September 6, 2013.

Want to READ MORE from Clean Teen Publishing?

Check out our huge selection of amazing reads! There's sure to be something for every reader!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lucky Weekend Sale from Clean Teen Publishing

LUCKY WEEKEND SALE! 



Check out our Lucky Weekend Sale on THE WALL by Lauren Nicolle Taylor! 


SAVE $2 on THE WALL from 3/14/14 to 3/17/14!


THE WOODLAND SERIES

Book 1 in The Woodlands Series is FREE!

(Young Adult Mature- Dystopian Romance)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing



$4.99 Reduced to $2.99 through 3/17/14!


Joseph, wake up, wake up, wake up.

She says it over and over. It’s her plea, her prayer, her mantra. But life doesn’t stop while he’s sleeping. Rosa’s been thrown into a new world, with new rules, and a philosophy that sounds too good to be true. She’s also sure they didn’t rescue her out of the goodness of their hearts.

The Survivors must want something from them… but what?

The Wall finds Rosa eagerly entering a new life, yet struggling to keep the demons and ghosts of the past from dragging her backwards.

She’s left so many people behind and isn’t sure how to start over.

There’s freedom in the Survivors’ world, more than she’d ever dreamed of, but there’s also secrets. The darkest of which pulls Rosa headfirst into a trauma, forcing her to reevaluate her past and pushing her to make a choice that may destroy the tenuous, sewn-together family she’s built on the outside.

Will Rosa make the right choice… or will she lose everything she has fought so hard for?



DON'T FORGET THAT BOOK 1 IS FREE! 

FREE BOOK:


Rosa never thought she’d make it to sixteen...

When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death, you might find yourself fighting to survive. Rosa lives in The Woodlands, one of eight enclosed cities where the lone survivors of a devastating war have been gathered. In these circular cities everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa's inability to conform and obey the rules brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she meets Joseph. He's blonde, fair skinned, blue eyed and the laid back, ever-grinning, complete opposite of Rosa. She's never met anyone quite like him, and she knows that spells danger.

But differences weren't always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. That was before the bitter race war decimated most of the planet, leaving the Russian wilderness as the only scrap of land habitable for survivors. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a 'raceless' race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed.

The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want, after all, they are considered super heroes by the general public. But not everyone see's them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn't know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.





THE WOUNDED by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Young Adult Mature- Dystopian Romance)
Book 3 in The Woodlands Series



You think you’re in control, that you have your hands on the reins. But I’m starting to think either someone else is driving or the reins are attached to nothing. Just flapping and snapping in the breeze. What could be simple, never is.

Rosa doesn’t want to get used to being separated from Joseph, from Orry. But now she must battle her way back to her family, her future, at the same time struggling to come to terms with her father’s past, his secrets and what he means to her now.

With her best friend Rash by her side she feels blessed and cursed. He is her saving grace but will Joseph accept him, and will he forgive her for leaving? More importantly will she manage to return to him? Rosa must pull these threads together. Hold herself in as she hacks her way back to The Wall with the aid of new companions but not the one person she’d planned on saving.

Finding her way back is only the beginning. The biggest changes, the shocking outcomes are waiting. Hovering over the town like a menacing vapour.

The Wounded have waited, nursed, and been dormant for too long and now they’re coming, dragging the ghosts of their lost ones behind them.




About Lauren Nicolle Taylor


Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.

After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.

In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released on August 30, 2013. Currently, Lauren has finished her manuscript for the second and third book in the series titled: The Wall and The Wounded. 


Where to find Lauren: Blog / Facebook / Twitter



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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good Together by CJ Carmichael

Blurb

Mattie, the eldest of Marietta’s Carrigan girls, married rodeo cowboy, Wes Bishop, right out of high school and raised twin daughters. A happy life, she thought, but now that she’s in her late thirties and their daughters have left for college, her husband has become strangely distant.

Then one night Wes comes home late from a rodeo—with a stranger’s key in his pocket. He won’t talk, but she knows something is wrong.

When her worst fears are confirmed, the hits keep coming. It seems her husband is determined to destroy everything she loves in this world. Thankfully she still has her sisters, and her home on The Circle C Ranch. But more and more she thinks, not of her roots in Marietta, but of her kind, dependable neighbour, Nat Diamond. Over the years Nat has been a constant in her life, but only as a friend. Is it possible the two of them could become more? But if Nat really does have romantic feelings for her—as she suspects—why does he keep pulling away?

Is there something he needs to tell her?

Excerpt

“What’s going on, Wes?” she asked softly. 

He grabbed onto his mug with both of his tough, sun-darkened hands and gazed down into it, his posture sagging with a sort of sadness Mattie had never seen in him before. 

“Why won’t you look at me?” 

He did raise his head then, but only briefly. Getting up from the stool, he went to the far window. The house had been designed open concept with a seamless transition between kitchen and family area. A river-rock fireplace with a heavy walnut mantel grounded the south end of the room. Large paneled windows to the west and north looked out to the pastures and Flathead Lake in the distance. 

Mattie set down her mug next to her husband’s and went to stand beside him. She’d lived with this view for nineteen years, but never took it for granted. From here you could see almost all of their land. And it was beautiful. 

Wes shifted, putting an extra foot between them. “Mattie—I’ve been thinking it’s time to sell.” 

“What?” This was something they’d never discussed. She wouldn’t even have considered it an option. “But—this land is...” She couldn’t find the words to go on. She’d been raised to consider land the most important and valuable thing in the world. Her father’s ties to the Circle C were blood and marrow deep. And, being married to Wes, she’d come to feel the same way about Bishop Stables too. 

“I’m getting too old to rodeo, but I’m not interested in breeding and training Tennessee Walkers. That was Mom and Dad’s thing. Not mine.” 

She wasn’t surprised that he was making this admission. She’d suspected as much for years. “But—what about the girls?” This land was their heritage, their birthright. But then an ugly suspicion rose up in her. Unlike her father who had made no secret of his disappointment in fathering four daughters, Wes had never seemed to care that they had no sons. After the twins were born he’d agreed with her that their family was complete. “Would you be saying this if we had a son?” 

“Of course... Hell, Mattie, that’s not what this is about.” 

She was relieved to hear that. But only for a second. She was beginning to see that he’d been thinking about this a long time, and by the firm set of his jaw, he’d already made up his mind. 

Without any discussion with her. 

This was not how their marriage worked. At least, up until now it wasn’t. 

“But, how will we earn our living? We have four years of college to pay for.” 

“Even if the girls could fund college on their own—what about us? How will we support ourselves, not to mention save for our retirement? It’s not like we have a big nest egg set aside.” Making payments to registered plans had never seemed important. After all, they weren’t yet forty. 

“The proceeds from the ranch will be enough to take care of the girls.” Wes hesitated. “And you.” 

Mattie stared at him. Finally he was looking at her, too, and his eyes didn’t look like Wes’s anymore. They were cold and distant as a stranger’s. 

Understanding hit her like a bullet. She gasped, felt a physical pain explode in her gut. This must be what it’s like to die. You’re living your life—and suddenly you aren’t. 

When he didn’t say anything, she was forced to put words to the awful thing. 

“You want to sell the ranch. A-and you want to leave me.” 

He moved restlessly from the window, to the sofa, where he straightened a cushion before shifting to the fireplace. Resting one hand on the walnut mantel, he turned back to look at her. “Yeah.” 

Mattie clasped her arms around her torso, feeling a wintery chill, and also, a sense that this simply couldn’t be happening.


About CJ Carmichael

CJ Carmichael has published over 35 novels and has twice been nominated for a RITA award. She likes to write stories about romance, family and intrigue, usually in small town or rural settings. When it’s time to take a break from the computer, she heads to the Rocky Mountains near her home in Calgary where she lives with her partner Michael and their cat, Penny. If you’d like to learn more about her books, check out her website: http://cjcarmichael.com.


Purchase Good Together on Amazon!

CJ Carmichael and her publisher will be awarding a print copy of Good Together as well as cool author swag to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US only).  Follow the tour by clicking on the link below - the more you comment the better your chances of winning!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Maid of Milan by Beverley Eikli

Blurb

After three years of marriage, Adelaide has fallen in love with the handsome, honourable husband who nurtured her through her darkest hours.

Now Adelaide’s former lover, the passionate poet from whose arms she was torn by her family during their illicit liaison in Milan six years previously has returned, a celebrity due to the success of his book The Maid of Milan.

High society is as desperate to discover the identity of his ‘muse’ as Adelaide is to protect her newfound love and her husband’s political career.

Excerpt

Chapter One

It was not the name by which she knew him. Since inheriting the title, he’d won celebrity as a poet and become the darling of the gossip columnists. Adelaide’s mother couldn’t keep those snippets of the real world from her, though she tried.

James. Fifth Viscount Dewhurst. Adelaide closed her eyes against the afternoon sun and tried to block her last memory of him: desperate, pleading. Not the James she knew – the irrepressible charmer who knew no woman could resist him, least of all Adelaide.

Tristan must have misinterpreted her shocked silence for memory failure, for he squeezed her hand and repeated,  ‘Lord Dewhurst. I’m talking about my old friend, James.’ Very gently he added, ‘He and his wife were very good to you, if you remember.’

If you remember…

Her husband’s reference to her previous life was almost more painful than the reference to James, though panic quickly succeeded shock at his next remark.

‘James is coming to visit us? Here?’ She gripped Tristan’s arm tighter and concentrated on the path. One foot in front of the other, head down so she didn’t stumble on the stones that bordered the hydrangeas from the neat gravel walkway.

Tristan continued to talk in the measured, comforting tone he used when her equilibrium was unsettled. In the past he’d sought her reassurances that she was comfortable with his plans; that there was nothing he’d neglected to facilitate her comfort. Always Tristan put Adelaide’s feelings first. Not today.

Tristan was too excited at the prospect of seeing his boyhood friend to recognise her horror, assuming Adelaide would be delighted to play hostess since she’d foolishly voiced the desire just last week to entertain more often.

She remained silent as she walked at his side, contemplating her own strategy if this visit was a fait accompli. She just needed to know when, so she could prepare.

‘At the end of the week!’ She repeated Tristan’s calmly delivered answer to her question in the tone Black Jack, the South American parrot she’d owned in Vienna, used to mimic the death throes of a man at the end of the gallows. A good thing her husband considered Adelaide an invalid, that he’d misconstrue the flare in her eyes, the gasp as she pressed against the pain in her side – her heart?

‘Adelaide, you are discomposed. Perhaps I should not have invited James without consulting you, but I thought since…’ Concern clouded his kind blue eyes as he trailed off.

‘He was very good to me.’ She whispered the old litany. It’s what Tristan liked to believe.

‘He was. Shall we go back to the house?’ He stooped to cup her face in his hands, as tender with her as if she were another of his rare hothouse blooms. As if she might wilt at the suggestion of anything beyond the ordinary, the mindnumbingly mundane.

And yet today she more than wilted as she stumbled on the smooth, carefully raked gravel path. Her heart was in danger of tearing in half. James. Here, at Deer Park …?

She pushed away the fear, straightening of her own accord. Adelaide could be a good deal stronger than Tristan believed her. Than her mother painted her.

‘So silly of me,’ she murmured, smiling as she tucked her hand once more into the crook of her husband’s arm, firming her step, indicating with a nod that they continue their usual
morning walk. Minutely managed and predictable. Around the path that bordered the maze, over the little bridge and across the lawn, skirting the deer park beyond the iron gated border to the dower house where her mother would be waiting. Keeping up the pretence of recovery in  response to his troubled gaze, she added, ‘Really, I’m perfectly fine.’ How many times had she made similar reassurances?

Of course, she hadn’t been fine when Tristan had made her mistress of Deer Park three years before; a marriage offer she’d only accepted because she believed she’d be dead of grief within the twelvemonth. And if not dead, then at least free of her mother. Neither had happened.

‘So James has left Milan.’ She forced herself to say his name. It came out as a faint thread of sound. James. He needed to stay far across sea and land if she were to have any peace in this life.

‘James’s father died three months ago so of course he must return from the Continent and take up his responsibilities at Dingley Hall.’ Tristan stopped and put his hands on her shoulders to study her more closely. ‘Darling, you’re very pale. Perhaps we should call Dr Stanhope—’

‘No!’ She truncated the hysteria in her response, adding with commendable calm, ‘Please, let us carry on.’

Tristan was clearly not convinced by her assurances, but he returned to his commentary as they walked sedately through Deer Park’s beautiful gardens. ‘James’s standing has changed with his father’s death, and now that his book has become a sensation so have his fortunes. He’ll be  able to put to rights all that his father almost destroyed through his love of gaming.’ He gave a half laugh. ‘I’m told my old friend is nearly as famous as those fellows up in the Lakes. I daresay I should read The Maid of Milan before he arrives. Perhaps you’d enjoy it, Addy.’

The Maid of Milan. Dear God! An image of herself and James, naked limbs entwined upon a vast expanse of white linen tablecloth in the Villa Cosi after the guests had gone,  seared her brain.

No, she was getting beyond herself. James had continued living in Milan with Hortense, the wife he despised. Of course there’d have been other women after Adelaide had been dragged, screaming, from James’s arms. Adelaide could not be James’s Maid of Milan. Not after the terrible finale to their affair. In three years Adelaide had heard nothing from him. Nothing, except that one terrible, terrible letter …



About Beverley Eikli

Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances. In 2012 she won UK Women's Fiction publisher Choc-Lit's Search for An Australia Star competition with her suspenseful, Napoleonic espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride, which has just been shortlisted by Australian Romance Readers for Favourite Historical in 2013.

In 2011 she was nominated for an ARRA award for her Regency romance A Little Deception, and in 2012 for her racy Regency Romp, Rake’s Honour, written under her Beverley Oakley pseudonym.
Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.
After throwing in her job on South Australia's metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, she discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.
Twenty years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland's ice cap, Eikli is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.

Stalker Links

Pre-order The Maid of Milan at Book Depository and Amazon for March 15, 2014!

Be sure to leave a comment for Beverley!  She will award a $20 Amazon book voucher and a digital copy of The Reluctant Bride to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  The more you comment, the better your chances at winning, so follow the rest of the tour at the link below!



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