Romance

I will always be grateful for you


I hope you can forgive me for this one, because I broke the rules of the Ballade it was supposed to be! It took on a life of its own, so I went with it. Still, it was supposed to be an exercise in improving my poetry skills so for you poets reading this…be patient with me!

When shadows fall and claim the light

Like marauders who don’t belong

You sweep right in, my own dark knight

Yielding a calm to lean upon

Like lines of my favourite song

your words, they both soothe and renew

A melody that will hold strong

I’ll always be grateful for you

***

When the space between us feels too great

And the hands of time trickle by

You find ways to communicate

In ways words can’t always define

A soft touch, a look in the eye

It’s there in everything you do

So even if things go awry

I’ll always be grateful for you

***

When my mind is blissfully still

And body in a state of repose

You touch me with consummate skill

Stoking the fire until it grows

Creating a desire to expose

Every sight, every sound, every cue

A dedication that clearly shows

I’ll always be grateful for you

***

But these gifts of ours work both ways

And this fact fills my heart anew

Especially when I hear the phrase

I’ll always be grateful for you

_____________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

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Reality Check – A short story

I ignored the persistent sound of my doorbell and buried further into my pit of despair, complete with a dozen pillows, my favourite throw and a large enough duvet to drown my sorrows. A comfortable pit that allowed me to feed my misery and keep it alive; an incubator for the sad and lonely.
The buzzing progressed to a pounding, which was much harder to ignore. To begin with my neighbour was an ogre (not a real one but he made a pretty good impersonation when his sleep was interrupted) and more importantly, I felt the resonating sound like a hammer to my skull.

Dragging myself from bed, I shuffled to the door. Since I’d spent the past two days wallowing I didn’t have the energy to pick up the pace, so the boom, boom, boom echoed through my feet and provided a percussion to the beat in my head.

I paused momentarily when I caught sight of the creature in the hallway mirror. It kind of resembled me, if you looked past the matted hair, wrinkled t-shirt and the bags that could have carried the shopping I had yet to do.

“If you don’t open this door right now, I’m going to break it down!” The booming voice was followed by an irate punctuation of knuckles against wood.

Luckily, I’d reached the door so flipped the lock and yanked it open before it was pulverized by my bear of a brother and his trusty sidekick. They were like two peas in a pod, if the peas had been left in the fertiliser too long.

Both were glaring at me with identical expressions, which had its usual effect. I was torn between slamming the door and telling them to butt out and embracing the comfort they so readily offered.

Adam took the choice away when he pushed past my brother and stepped into the flat. He stopped when we were toe to toe, his big body way to deep into my personal space. “We’ve been trying to reach you for days. Would it kill you to pick up your phone?”

Stepping back, I turned to look over my shoulder and spied the debris where I’d left it on the floor. “Be my guest, but I don’t think it works anymore.”

It would take a miracle. My phone was in pieces against the skirting board. With some distance I could be impressed by my show of strength. Clearly, I’d had more energy at the time.

“Jesus Christ, Sammy, look at the mess.”

I frowned, about to tell my brother it wasn’t that bad, until I realised he was talking about the room. I’d done a number of that, too.

“Whatever. I’m alive, you have proof, now kindly leave me in peace.” I met Ky’s worried brown eyes and my irritation vanished. “I’m okay.”

“When was the last time you ate?” He shot back, ignoring me. Something he excelled at.

“I eat plenty,” I said, thinking of the empty bag of Doritos and the remnants of fiery hot flavouring which was probably staining my sheets.

“Crisps don’t count.” He shook his head and turned to head to the kitchen. “Buddy. It’s over to you.”

“Wha-?”

Adam clamped a big hand around my wrist and began to pull me in the direction of the bathroom.

“Get your hands off me, you big oaf,” I shouted, twisting to try and catch my brother’s attention. “Call off your guard dog, Ky or I won’t be responsible for my actions.”

The sound that came from Adam was somewhere between a curse and a growl. He picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. I was so shocked I couldn’t speak again until he was dumping me on my feet in the bathroom and moving to turn on the shower.

“You did not just do that.” Not very original, but I still hadn’t recovered from Adam’s caveman routine.

“I did, and I’d do it again.” He slid the shower door shut and turned back to me. “You can’t spend any more time wallowing over that piece of shit, Sam. I gave you time after news of the engagement, but I’m through doing that. I’m through with a lot of things. He was never good enough.”

My mind blanked at his words. I couldn’t find my anger, couldn’t drum up any fiery indignation at being treated like a child, because it hit me just how much he’d been hiding. That and the fact he hadn’t included Ky, like it was personal.

When my brain kicked back into gear I felt my body sag and the rest of my energy wane. “It hurts,” I whispered, not even trying to stop the tears.

The next thing I knew I was pressed against Adam’s chest and one of his arms hooked me in tight. The other began to make soothing motions down my back. A dozen thoughts vied for supremacy; the fact I was in nothing more than a long shirt and my underwear, that I hadn’t bathed in days and Adam smelled so good, and that, for the first time in weeks, I felt something other than empty.

But the thoughts that won out were actually a kaleidoscope of memories from the past couple of months. The times Adam had called to ask about my day, or dropped by to check in, and each time he’d been alone. I’d gotten so used to thinking of him and my brother as a double act, I didn’t stop to consider what it meant that he was offering me a piece of himself.

“I’d take away the hurt if I could,” he whispered, bringing me back to the present.

You do. “I know.” I didn’t share that he’d been doing that all along and I was too blind to see it. Instead, I leaned back so I could look at him. “You’d better rescue Ky before he burns down my kitchen. I’ll shower and be out in a few minutes.”

He leaned in to press a kiss against my temple and then let me go. “That was a ruse to give us a moment. We both know there’s nothing in your cupboards to cook.”

I thought I’d understood what I’d missed by being foolish, but I had no idea. Since I also had no clue what to do with all that, I shut down the flurry of emotion and rolled my eyes to cover the onslaught. “Well then, you’d better let me get to it.”

He grinned and walked to the door but stopped just in the entryway to look back. “Do you understand what I meant about being through?”

Nodding, I cleared my throat. “Yes.”

“Good. Because there’s no going back. I’m not your brother’s best friend, not to you.”

Oh yes, he’d been hiding a lot. “I’m beginning to see that.”

At my words something flashed across his face, something good. “Finally.”

He left before I could respond, and it took me quite a while to remember that the shower was still running, and I had a job to do.

Fifteen minutes later when I entered the living room showered and dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, my long hair combed through and hanging free, I was greeted by a dose of all the goodness yet to come.

It wasn’t the fact that Adam and Ky had tidied up my living space and the room looked good as new. No. It was the look on Adam’s face. He was no longer holding anything back. What he felt was right there for me to see and I discovered I liked it very much.

“Now tell me how glad you are that we dragged your sorry ass out of that pity pit there’s no way I’m touching,” Ky said, and I heard the smile in his voice.

I didn’t take my attention away from Adam. “Totally worth confronting an ogre and the price of a new door.”

Adam grinned. “What does it mean that I completely understood that?”

“It means I’ve been an idiot.”

“I could have told you that!”

This time I did turn to my brother, and then, giant or not, I set about making him eat his words.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Squeaky Goodness – Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge

This is kind of a long introduction, so if you are pushed for time, and you know what the Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge is, you can jump to the good stuff below – the quote and short story!

I mentioned on Saturday that I miss my friends, and it is the absolute truth. I try my best to keep up with posts, and check in. I particularly enjoy Colleen and Ronovan’s challenges, and wish I could take part more often. When I saw that they have an awesome new format (you should check it out), and the theme this week is Romance, it got me thinking about a scene I started earlier but couldn’t quite finish.

I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about The Collective, a serialised fiction project. I begin releasing episodes in April, and you would think, at this point, I have things nailed on. You would be right – sort of. Although the first episode is ready, and just needs checking over by my editor, I still feel there is something missing. One of the main characters, a god, who is a great deal of fun to write; sardonic, egotistical, and somewhat complex, opens the episode. At the beginning, his mood is, shall we say, dark, and though readers will discover why, I can’t help wondering if I should show a snippet of the events that led to his current mood.

So, if I may, I’d like you to be my sounding board. This is the scene I wrote as an alternative beginning to the chapter, and though the romance is dark, the love shines through (I hope), so it fits the theme (I also hope!)

First, one of my favourite quotes about love –

 cactus

Here is the scene, which I finished, and titled ‘Squeaky Goodness’ – it needs work, but let me know what you think.

Power shot across the lush, green-carpeted forest, scorching the grass. Orion was oblivious to the discharge of energy, or to the tears, which soaked into the earth and reformed the damaged ground. His Mohana was gone, cut down in her prime and why? Betrayal. The worst kind of injustice, because this betrayal came from a loved one – Mohana’s twin.

Orion could have saved her, had he reached her in time. Now he was impotent, unable to move for fear he would shatter into a thousand pieces. When Adara had struck the killing blow, the impact tore through his own heart and left it numb; a shrivelled, hollow organ he wanted to rip from his chest, if only so he could join Mohana.

They should never have been, and yet their pairing made more sense than his whole sorry existence. She made his immortal life bearable. Now he faced eternity alone. Even with all the power he possessed, Orion didn’t know if he had the strength for that. Mohana understood him. She had been his equal, and it mattered little he was a god. Not when they were together.

Mohana was born nine minutes before Adara, and as the first-born child, this made her the rightful heir to Clan Ignatius. She had been a powerful sorcerer, a gifted leader, and she had somehow found it in her to love Orion. Him, with an ego the size of a dominion, and too many flaws to count. He amused her, genuinely amused her. Mohana had laughed at his antics, told stories of his accomplishments and shown him how it truly felt to be a god. All his life Orion had been feared, envied and worshipped at one ridiculous alter after another. Until he met Mohana, he actually believed it was his duty to put on a show. To become the pompous jerk his followers expected, those who knew of his existence. Mohana’s strength of spirit, her goodness, humbled him and, without her, his world had no meaning.

Orion felt it building in his chest; the bitterness, the self-hatred, and he did nothing to stop it. He was weak. He hadn’t even had the courage to say his final goodbyes, to look upon her face one last time and let her go. No, he had left the veil that covered her body in place, turned away from the water and walked away. He had fallen as the first arrow whizzed through the air, knowing the archer’s aim would be true and he could not watch Mohana burn. All the atrocities he had seen, the wars he had fought – he did not have it in him to witness his love go up in flames.

Orion had no idea how long he lay sprawled in the grass, masked from sight because Adara had tried to keep the ceremony from him. In another life, he would have made her pay for the insult, she deserved to feel his wrath, and she would. Just not today. Not today.

When his tears dried up, Orion became aware of the heat he was channelling. His energy was still leaking out, poisoning the earth, and killing everything around him. He couldn’t stop it. It had built too quickly, accelerated by his turbulent thoughts.

“Forgive me,” he whispered to the ground. Orion knew, immortal or not, he could not survive the impact if his power reached critical and he lost control.

“Orion. No!”

A heavy weight landed on top of him, and a familiar energy closed in tight. Lucas pushed his arms beneath Orion and the ground, attempting to contain the anger, and grief, and despair. The angel was powerful, but he was not powerful enough.

“Work with me, you son of a bitch. Pull it back. Do it now.” Lucas’ voice came out clipped. He was fighting against the pain of their connection.

“Try…ing.” Orion clenched his teeth. “Get off me.” The energy burned him, but he held tight to it, even as the angel ignored his demand and held tight to him. That was friendship for you, and Lucas seemed about ready to follow him into the abyss. Orion suspected, should Lucas have an actual halo, the thing would shine with squeaky goodness.

He could feel the Guardian’s love bearing down on him, and though he wanted to deny the reminder he was still alive, instead he embraced it. He would be no kind of god if he allowed his friend to perish. Mohana would never forgive such weakness, and besides, he kind of loved the angel too.

As Orion sucked back the power, he felt a final tear roll down his cheek and drop to the ground. Mohana had loved the earth, she would not wish for him to harm her forest. He could give her that. If he couldn’t say goodbye, he could mend what he had broken.

His last thought, as he concentrated on Lucas and the arms clamped tight around him, was that it would be a lonely eternity without her.


 

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

Brothers in Arms

I know I said I would do a cover reveal, but time ran away from me and I just couldn’t keep up! So this is a cover reveal and an announcement that Brother in Arms is now live (yay!)

I’ve added a sneak peak below.

Brothers in Arms - kindle - coverFour years ago, Andrew Butcher dropped off the grid. Now he is back, and determined to reconnect with his family. But Andrew is playing a dangerous game. In accepting the position as head of security for a known criminal, he risks alienating those he respects and admires – starting with Ellen Parker.

Ellen is a former Troop Commander with the Royal Artillery. In her role at Morgan and Fairchild, she has a reputation for being tough, loyal, and someone who always gets the job done. Andrew and Ellen share a past, one she would sooner forget. But circumstances force her hand, and though Ellen tries to resist, every road leads back to Andrew and a case that will change everything.


Purchase Links:


Excerpt – Brothers in Arms (Morgan and Fairchild Book 3)

 

Ellen Parker slowed her Harley at the security gate, and with her visor pushed to the top of her helmet, she grinned at the guard on duty, flipping him the bird. This got her a matching grin, accompanied by a finger gesture a second before the barrier slid open. On a laugh, quickly swallowed by the wind, Ellen roared onto the backlot. She was familiar with the vast open space that formed Gray’s Lot at Lundwood Studios. But she still took the time to enjoy the view as she headed toward her destination.

It was hard not to appreciate the serene beauty of the place, regardless of how often she visited. Ellen had provided onset protection more than once, and enjoyed the gig as much as the rest of her team. Morgan and Fairchild didn’t have the security contract for the studios, Abe Donovan did, but they worked closely with his organisation, AD Securities.

Since marrying Alicia Gladstone, Brad Morgan made a habit of organising the after party in celebration of his wife’s success. As Alicia owned her own production company, and used the studios as often as possible, it was the perfect location.

The purpose built bar for cast and crew shone like a beacon across the otherwise deserted lot. Ellen scanned the vehicles in front of the building and noted half her crew were already there. The rest would stop by when they could, and given how long these things usually ran, at some point the entire family would unite.

The party was in full swing when she stepped inside the bar. Tonight it was invite only. Ellen spotted Abe immediately. He wasn’t on duty, which was a surprise. She knew this from the elegant cut of his dove grey suit, offset by a black, silk shirt. The effect was devastating against his dark skin. Abe knew how to rock his threads; he looked completely at ease among the celebrity guests Ellen had clocked when she walked in. His strong physicality was evident in every line of his body. Whether working or not, Ellen knew he was alert; his keen intelligence was one of the things she loved about him.

Abe’s dark brown eyes met hers as she approached, his smile warming his expression. “Tell me you’re wearing a little black dress under those leathers.”

She flashed him a grin, amused by the harmless flirtation. Ellen was rarely out of her leathers, unless she was in uniform. “If I’d known you were wearing a get-up like that, I’d have shaken off the moth balls and donned my glad rags. You look good enough to eat.”

His laughter was as smooth as the rest of him. “Touché, my friend.”

***

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Interview with P.S. Bartlett, Author of Demons & Pearls

Demons_&_Pearls_Cover_for_Kindle

Welcome back. I’m pleased to share P.S. Bartlett’s interview with you, and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

An Interview with P.S. Bartlett

Pirate meHow old were you when you wrote your first piece?

I honestly don’t remember but I started very early writing poems. I used to make my own greeting cards as a child, complete with illustrations. I thought I would grow up to work for Hallmark.

What made you write it?

Lack of money I suppose and having plenty of ideas and art supplies.

What have you written since then?

Poetry, short stories, plays and in recent years, novels. I am about to publish my fourth novel in two years.

What was the inspiration for your current book?

My favorite inspiration; PIRATES!

Tell us a little about it, and where it’s available.

I’ve developed a pattern of what I call writing backwards. It sounds a little crazy I know but twice now, I’ve written a novel and instead of moving forward in time, I want to go back to the beginning and find out what makes my characters tick and why they became who they are.

This story is the beginning of Ivory Shepard. Ivory is a fictional character but the things she goes through and the life she lives as she is becoming the woman she ends up being, is authentically pirate based. Ivory and her cousins are orphaned at a young age during a Spanish raid on Charles Towne, South Carolina and left to fend for themselves. They end up surviving and doing well for themselves until one night, the pirates show up.

This book chronicles the lives of the four cousins as they embark on a journey to Port Royal aboard a pirate ship and what comes after. The next book in the series, Jaded Tides, will follow them even further into their lives as pirates.

Is there a particular place or setting where you get your writing ideas?

The easy answer is no. I can get ideas anywhere from sitting and watching television, reading or driving in my truck. It’s storing it all in my memory until I can get to my computer that is the challenge.

What made you choose either traditional or independent publishing?

I tried to go traditional but I was rejected so many times I can’t even remember. The only book I submitted to agents was my first novel, Fireflies. Fireflies went on to win awards, including the silver medal in paranormal fiction from Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Awards. I guess agents don’t always get it right.

If you had to choose the most important element in an author’s platform, what would it be?

Good relationships with other authors and peers in the industry. I have made friendships and connections with people that I believe will be life-long. We support each other through ideas, suggestions and encouragement, as well as advertising and social media.

What mistakes have you made in regards to publishing and marketing your work, and what will you do differently in the future?

I’m not sure if I’ve made any mistakes other than paying a good deal for certain types of advertising on book web sites. Other than that, my mistakes have all been learning experiences and we all have to make them in order to find our way.

Do you have an idea for your next book?

I actually have two books in the works right now. The first is jaded Tides, which is the second book in the Razor’s Adventures series and it is almost half written. The second is collaboration with another writer on another book that will be a part of the series but will focus on a different main character. I don’t want to give any more away on that one though!


Thanks for stopping by. If you have any further questions for P.S. Bartlett, please leave them in the comments. I’m sure she would love to hear from you.

Mel

Introducing Demons & Pearls by P.S. Bartlett

This is the first of two posts focusing on P.S. Bartlett and her new release – Demons & Pearls. Later this afternoon I will be sharing an interview with you, but for now – here is information about the exciting new novel, which includes a sneak peak. Enjoy!

Title: DEMONS & PEARLS
Author: P.S. Bartlett
Release Day: April 14th, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure/Romance

Demons_&_Pearls_Cover_for_KindleBlurb-
Had I known the repercussions of murdering the captain of a pirate ship, I may have taken the time necessary to rethink the act. As if I’ve ever had a choice that didn’t involve a fight or at the very least, defending myself against some man, hell bent on destroying me or my kin.
All we wanted was our freedom. All we found were demons disguised as men.
A woman pirate needs friends, big strong male friends, to survive in this unforgiving land of thieves and murderers—at least until she gets on her feet. Of course, trying to find one person you can trust is like finding an oyster with a perfect pearl in it—you have to break a few shells and get your hands dirty. We were lucky. I found the biggest, baddest and most honorable man in the Caribbean and he just happened to be in the pearl business.

Author PhotoAuthor Bio:
I was born on Valentine’s Day a long, long time ago in South Baltimore, Maryland, less than a mile from Fort McHenry and Federal Hill. I’m a very simple person. I love my life and am always striving to make it better for myself and my family.
I write, I draw and I still work full-time. I’ve been married for 20 years and together we have two sons, a daughter, three beautiful granddaughters and a ten year old Maine Coon cat named Columbus.

Links:

Web Site: http://psbartlett.me/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PSBartlett

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PSBartlett

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7012732.P_S_Bartlett

Instagram: Author_P.S.Bartlett

Amazon

Thunderclap

Sneak Peak

Caught in the middle of the Golden Age of Piracy, four young women, led by their eldest cousin, Ivory Shepard, have escaped a pirate raid and bought passage aboard a pirate ship to Port Royal, Jamaica.
With no more than their smarts and their will to carry them, they end up caught in a battle for their lives. They have been betrayed by the ship’s captain and unfortunately realize that as women, they are worse off in this new world than they were in the old one.

This is their story as told by Ivory Shepard, also known as…The Razor.

Chapter One
~No Quarter~

Had I known the repercussions of murdering the captain of a pirate ship, I may have taken the time necessary to rethink the act. However, as I stood over the bloody, lifeless body of Captain Christopher Barclay, as well as no less than seven of his crew, as usual it was too late to change my mind. Change my mind, indeed. As if I had a choice.

As if I’ve ever had a choice that didn’t involve a fight, or at the very least, defending myself against someone hell-bent on destroying me or my kin. I must always follow my instincts, regardless of the fallout of my actions. Had I not done so, I most certainly would not have lived to see the rest of this unspeakable day.

I pleaded with the Captain not to kill them all. If he’d have only been more of a man and less a murderous monster, perhaps this day may have ended for him as he lay down at last, safe and whole in his bunk. Alas, this was not to be. Instead, the surge of the battle within him overtook his senses, and he snatched me by the back of my neck.

“Miss Shepard, take your ladies below. And should these swabs be foolish enough to fight back, and God forbid we lose this fight, kill your cousins… and then yourself. Trust me, you’ll not wish to draw breath should that pack of dogs board us.”

“I’ll send them below, but I’ll not pass up the chance at last to show your own pack of dogs who I am.” What the hell was I thinking?

“It’s your pretty head. If the first sight of a sail dropped you to your knees, let’s hope you can stay on your feet when they bare their fangs and lunge at your throat.”

“I’ll live, Captain. And perhaps you haven’t noticed, but they’re not ladies anymore. Today shall prove that.” We’d spent weeks in rags, cleaning up after pirates, listening to their vile comments, and working as virtual slaves in order to secure our passage to Jamaica. I wondered constantly why we hadn’t been violated yet, but I held onto the hope that a pirate could in fact, keep his word.

Perhaps I’d had enough and was ready for a fight. Considering I had fallen to my knees when I heard the call of “Sail!” and had shaken like a leaf at the sight of these men scrambling about, loading guns and making preparations for a fight, one would have thought I’d have run and hidden with my cousins. But, no; as usual, I had something to prove.

“Such a shame to waste such charms. Look at you,” he said, taking me roughly by the jaw with his filthy paw, from which I jerked free instantly. “You’ve lost your youthful glow to the harsh wind and sun, and if you ever had a tender inch, you’ve buried it beneath the vines of bitterness you’ve wrapped yourself in. Tell me, Ivory, who did this to you? Who plucked the rose and left the thorns?”

“Those who would step over that gunnel will meet my blade before another unwanted and indecent hand breaches my striking distance. I’ll remove that hand and take his arm as well, and if that doesn’t stop him, his head.”

“Such a tragedy you are, and since I’ve my own tragic story to write, it’s time to give back to the world what she’s bestowed upon us, my dear. Ready the guns! Do not fire until I give the order! She’s no fucking good in a million pieces!” Barclay roared over our heads as he raced, broadsword in hand, to the stern and stood at her highest point.

“Shepard, get your skinny ass up here! You want to be free?”

“I will be free!” I shouted at him. There was no turning back now.

“Bring her around! We’ll rake her from the bow and then take her from the starboard side!” He barked to the helmsman. I’d never heard this voice before. It wasn’t a voice. It was the roar of a mighty lion, and the mere sound of it vibrated through my skin.

As his call to arms passed through me, a deafening hum pierced my brain and I sheathed my sword and cupped the sides of my head, in an attempt to silence it. When I let go, the only sound I heard was my own heartbeat, which I imagined was well over one hundred beats per minute. In the background, strangled beneath the thumping drumbeats that felt as if they were about to split my chest, were the thunderous cries of the crew. The muffled screams and fearsome bellows of men in search of blood and fortune were barely audible behind the wall of my excruciating terror.

I glanced up and over the side, watching as the panicked crew of our prey scrambled wildly about, dodging the incoming gunfire, obviously unprepared in both arms and numbers for such an assault. Unable to believe what I was seeing, I lowered my hands for a moment and swallowed hard. I watched in horror as the first man at the rail of our prize lost the left side of his skull in a spatter of bone and bloodied skin. The gun flew from his hands, and his feet left the deck simultaneously, sending him bouncing backwards out of this life and unnaturally into the next, as nothing more than a heap of dead flesh.

I think I screamed and then felt a pop deep within my eardrums. All at once, the echoes of deadly battle at last bashed their way in. Gunfire and the thumps and clinks of grappling hooks dropping to the deck in preparation to make capture were sharp, and what I could clearly see and hear was matched sight for sound at last.

“Fire!” Barclay ordered. All five guns kicked back with a deafening boom, shaking the Demon Sea. I lost my footing from the jolt and coughed hard repeatedly as gunpowder and choking smoke filled the air. As we came about to the starboard side of what was obviously no more than a merchant ship, the smoke cleared in the windy spray, and Barclay called to hold fire. I looked across the water to find all those left standing shoulder to shoulder on their deck. Their arms were raised and their meager weapons lay at their feet. The damage done by what I knew to be chain shot—Barclay’s preferred method of maximum devastation—left blood, flesh, and splintered wood as far as my eyes could see.

“Take her lads; she’s all ours!” Barclay shouted as he sheathed his sword and snatched me by the back of my neck again. “Look, girl! Do you see those twenty or so swabs with their tails tucked in their asses? I’m about to give the order of no quarter. Do you know what that means?”

“No quarter?” I asked, shaking free of his grip and pushing him off as I backed away in horror. “Why? They surrendered, and yet you’d…”

“That’s right, lass. Kill them all,” he growled with a smile.

“That’s a coward’s maneuver, Barclay. Those aren’t pirates; they’re sailors trying to make a living.”

“We’re about to take their living. What will they have to live for, once it’s ours?”

Barclay’s eyes shined, and at last I could see the monster he truly was. I pulled my sword and pointed it at him as I lowered my head and looked up into his cold, dead eyes. “Call them off. Take the loot and let the living go,” I commanded. Once again, I had no idea what I was thinking. This was none of my affair, and yet something in me couldn’t bear the thought of what he planned to do.

Barclay burst into laughter. “Hold your claws, little kitty, before I rip them out and feed you to the dogs!”

“We’ve been here before, remember? This time, I won’t stop when I pierce your yellow hide.”

“Oh, but you will,” Barclay said with a smooth purr. Then, a thick forearm clamped around my neck from behind and pulled me off my feet. I dropped my sword and dug my nails into my assailant’s hard flesh, and I kicked him again and again. The more I resisted, the more his grip tightened against my throat. The man twisted and turned, causing me to swing from the neck down like a clock’s pendulum. With a loud pop and a violent jerk, his arm pulled free, and I was sent flying hard against the boards, flat on my face and struggling for air.


Don’t forget to stop by this afternoon when I will be interviewing P.S. Bartlett.

Mel

The Girl In Between by Laekan Zea Kemp

TheGirlInBetween1600x2400Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.

Purchase links:

Goodreads

Amazon

Smashwords

LaekanAuthor Bio:

Laekan is a writer and explorer extraordinaire who grew up in the flatlands of West Texas. She graduated from Texas Tech with a BA in Creative Writing and is the author of the multi-cultural New Adult novels The Things They Didn’t Bury, Orphans of Paradise, Breathing Ghosts, and the Young Adult novel The Girl In Between, which is the first in an upcoming paranormal romance series.

Connect with Laekan:

Blog: http://laekanzeakemp.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaekanZeaKemp

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6577467.Laekan_Zea_Kemp

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/laekanzeakemp

The Magic Spark by Mishka Jenkins

Magic Spark

Successful businesswoman Alex is content with her life in London, and any ideas of romance have been left on the back burner. But when her fairy godmother, FG, waltzes into her office one morning announcing she has come to help Alex rekindle a passion for life and love, she is about to check herself into therapy!

The fairy godmother’s incessant wand-flicking soon lands them in the isolation of the Scottish highlands, where Alex’s next client, Mal Ross, not only stirs her professional interest but her romantic ones too.

Tasked with the enormous challenge of turning a historic castle into a flourishing hotel, the pair must work closely together whilst attempting to avoid the awkward situations the rom-com obsessed fairy godmother keeps forcing them into.

But the path of love is never smooth, no matter how much magic you throw at it.


Review

The Magic Spark was a delightful read. The story was peppered with romance and laugh-out-loud fun, courtesy of FG – the Fairy God Mother.

This is the fourth novel I’ve read by Mishka Jenkins, so I knew I was in for a treat in terms of strong, feisty characters and a well-rounded love story.

My favourite parts were undoubtedly the series of circumstances FG creates in order to throw the two main characters, Alex and Mal, together. Not only were they set-up perfectly, they are beautifully written. As a reader, you cannot fail to see the magic happening.

As well as taking us to Scotland and planting us smack bang in the middle of the action, Mishka also shows us the strength and power of community. There are intriguing twists, with heart-felt emotion and real-life drama. The plot is well balanced and is a definite page turner.

Mishka is skilled at creating tension and conflict between characters. I was rooting for Alex and Mal right from the start – I was totally on FG’s side!

I would highly recommend the book, and know I will gain as much pleasure when I read it again.







Reunion of the Heart by Elaine Jeremiah

Reunion of the HeartThis book has been on my list since Elaine generously gave me a copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s taken longer than I would like, but I wanted to give it my undivided attention and actually started reading it yesterday.

Before we get to the review, here’s the blurb.

After a messy breakup with her boyfriend, Anna is feeling fragile. So when her best friend Melissa suggests the two of them go to their school reunion, she’s reluctant as Anna’s school days weren’t her happiest. The evening is going well until she meets the boy who made her school life hell. But the grown up Will is different and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes. The reunion sets in motion a series of events that lead Anna to realise things will never be the same again. ‘Reunion of the Heart’ is a romance that will lead you to ponder whether love can atone for past mistakes.

I read Reunion of the Heart in two days. It held my attention throughout. The story is primarily about love and friendship and I was caught up in the lives of the characters. It’s a relatable book, fraught with loss and heartache, but also with hope and new opportunities.

The main protagonist (Anna) is likeable; her neurosis adds an engaging element so the reader cares what happens to her and the friendships she relies on.

I enjoyed the scenes with Anna and her friends. The dialogue was genuine and made me feel like a part of the group.

The building romance between Anna and Will is well paced, which adds tension and allows the reader to understand the difficulties they have both overcome, in order to get where they are.

I liked the connections between the characters too. They all go on a journey of discovery, where past mistakes no longer haunt them and they can finally forgive.

It is an uplifting tale and, as I said, a relatable one. I enjoyed spending time with the group and I’m sure you will too.



Thanks for reading

Mel

Prophecy of Stones by Mishka Jenkins

Prophecy of StonesThis is the third book I’ve read by Mishka Jenkins and I have to say, it had me at the title! I mean, who doesn’t love a story about a prophecy and those fated to fulfil a role which tests everything they believe in.

The book begins with a group of heroes as they embark on a journey to save the world. Enter three characters who embody the heart, strength and soul of mankind, three friends who share their responsibility, and you have an  appealing group who are a pleasure to spend time with.

I particularly enjoyed the fact I got to experience the journey from three unique perspectives. Each of the chosen, separated cleverly by a rune marking the transition, share their insights. It makes for an exciting adventure; full of magic, mystery and intrigue. As the story began to unfold, I was well and truly hooked.

One of Mishka’s strengths is developing relationships between her characters and, right from the start, you could feel the camaraderie. The kind of love and commitment which embodies the heart of the tale. The world in which they live is described so vividly a picture began to build in my head, further adding to the drama and excitement. They sucked me in, became as familiar as old friends, and I was with them each step of the way.

The chosen three are distinct and exceptional in their own right. Milana is a woman worthy of her role. She is a warrior, strong of heart and spirit. I was drawn to her fierce, yet vulnerable nature and she shone with her own special kind of magic. Riff is the kind of person you can rely on; cool, calm and collected, with the kind of quiet strength which makes him a true hero.  Kai’s innocence is part of his appeal and his unique perspective on the journey made the whole thing come together.

The romance of the story is beautifully told, and another of Mishka’s strengths. Her male leads always stand out; lighting up a scene and grabbing a readers attention from the moment they appear. Riff is no different. The connection he has to Milana is a palpable thing. I loved this couple and highly recommend the book.

***

Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson

(CALIATH)

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