Title: WRONG BED, RIGHT MAN (Accidental Love Book 3) Author: Rebecca Brooks Pub. Date: February 17, 2020 Publisher: Entangled: Brazen Formats: Paperback, eBook Pages: 150 Find it:Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo
Rose Campbell is determined to get her stuff from her cheating ex-fiancé’s apartment. There’s just one problem. A sexy stranger is sleeping in her bed. Work boots and scruff so aren’t her type––except when they’re on furniture maker Owen Crowley, who is funny, kind, and speaks his mind.
The prim and proper Rose isn’t the kind of woman Owen is usually interested in. But the more he gets to know her, the more intrigued he becomes. There’s passion underneath those stiff suits of hers that he can’t wait to explore.
There’s no reason these two opposites can’t have some sexy fun––except that one thing. Rose works for the very people trying to destroy Owen’s business.
Owen pressed on the mattress over the place he’d fixed, where the weak spot in the wood had originally been. He pressed again, again. Pressed hard enough that the mattress began to…squeak. In a very particular rhythm. In a very particular way.
“I’m not going to break the bed,” Rose cried, obviously horrified.
“Test it,” he said. “Try your best. Go ahead and prove me wrong.”
He should run full speed in the other direction. But it was too much fun to tease her. And his resolve was only so strong. He walked over to his bag and reached inside. He’d told himself he wasn’t going to do this…but here he was, doing it anyway.
“I know you said these aren’t yours, but I thought you should have them.”
He pulled out the restraints. It was as if all the air in the room suddenly vanished. It all must have been locked inside Rose with the force of her inhale.
He twisted them around his wrists and tugged. Unbreakable leather, unbreakable bed. She couldn’t deny it was a winning combination.
“I’m so. Not. Going to use that.” She was looking everywhere but at him. Or at the bed. Or at the restraints in his hands.
“I told you,” he said. “There’s no way you’re going to break the bed now.”
“You should take those. Please.”
“But I don’t have any use for them.”
Now he got her eyes on him. Only for a second, but it was something. “No girlfriend?” she asked.
He shook his head. “I haven’t found the right one.”
“Someone who’ll put up with your snoring? Trust me, I heard.”
She was clearly trying to joke, and he let her have half a grin. “More like someone I could actually be into.”
Not that he could let himself be into her. But he tossed the restraints on the mattress and looked at her anyway.
“Go ahead,” he said. “Try to break that bed.”
“You forget that I don’t have a boyfriend,” she said demurely.
Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them.
She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx.
She likes outdoorsy guys with both muscle and heart and independent women ready to try something new.
Master illusionist Nicholas Pine has learned the hard way that nothing—and nobody—is what they seem. So when he runs into sexy antique shop owner, Zelda Quincy, he knows there’s more to her than meets the eye. Still, what he sees is very, very intriguing…and he can’t get her out of his head.
Zelda has spent her whole adult life running away from her family’s reputation. She’s changed her name and tried to move on. The last thing she wants is to return to the world she left behind, even with someone as hot as Nicholas by her side.
But after one hot night––she’s addicted––and so is he.
Too bad the skeletons in Zelda’s closet won’t stay hidden for long…
Even if she was willing to believe he would, the sigil tattoo on his wrist was glaring proof that illusion was in his blood. He was in the Guild of Ancient Magic—a brotherhood that had a lifetime membership. She found it hard to look at the tattoo without remembering seeing it on her father’s wrist and the one she’d covered up with the black rose.
She hated magic.
She should never have opened the Pandora’s box that was the Houdini water chest. She’d known the moment she’d bid on it at the online auction house. But she also hadn’t been able to resist.
“I think you should go, Mr. Pine, before I do something that we both might regret in the morning.”
“Why do you keep calling me Mr. Pine?” he asked.
“It’s your name, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” he said sardonically. “But I sense there is more to your attitude than that.”
“I’m trying to avoid throwing myself at you. I thought keeping it formal might help.”
He shook his head and laughed. “Is it working?”
Not really. But some latent self-preservation warned her not to say that out loud. “Why?”
“I just wondered if I should start calling you Ms. Quincy.”
She knew that there wasn’t anything sweet in what he said, but it touched her the same way that him watching Stetson do a magic trick had. She liked him.
It didn’t matter that he was part of a group of people she’d sworn to never let into her life again. It didn’t matter that he was a magician and was probably more flash than substance. It did matter that he had a smile that made her feel warm and that he smelled like rain and that he’d always followed her lead in conversations, even when she said something over-the-top.
“No, I don’t think so,” she admitted.
“So, what should we do about this inconvenient attraction?”
“Well, I have a ‘no magicians in my bed’ rule.”
“That is a statement begging for questions that I know you don’t want to answer,” he said. “What about ‘magicians in the kitchen’? Seems like you might be okay with that.”
She groaned. No, she wasn’t okay with it, but she also had known from the moment she’d opened her front door and let him into her house that she wasn’t going to shove him out before morning unless he’d wanted to go.
Clearly, he didn’t.
“I never made a rule about that,” she admitted.
“Good. Because I have an ‘always with women who run magic collectibles shops in the kitchen’ rule.”
She started laughing and couldn’t stop. It had been years since she’d felt this kind of joy with anyone.
USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera writes emotionally sexy contemporary romances. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she is also a two-time Maggie winner and has more than 7 million copies of her books sold worldwide.
1 winner will receive a $15 Amazon GC, International. Click here to enter!
Title: REAL PIGEONS FIGHT CRIME Author: Andrew McDonald & Ben Wood (Illustrations) Pub. Date: January 7, 2020 Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers Formats: Hardcover, eBook Pages: 208 Find it:Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD
Ever wonder why pigeons act so weird? Because they are secretly chasing bad guys and flying around saving your butt! This hilarious illustrated series is perfect for fans of BAD GUYS and DOG MAN.
What do REAL PIGEONS do? They fight crime, of course! Wait, what? You didn’t know your town is protected by a secret squad of crime-fighting feathered friends? Well, you are about to get schooled. REAL PIGEONS solve mysteries! REAL PIGEONS fight bad guys! And REAL PIGEONS won’t stop until your neighborhood is safe and the questions are all answered: Like, why have all the breadcrumbs disappeared? And which food truck smells the best?
Andrew McDonald is a reader and writer of books for young readers.
His brand new series REAL PIGEONS debuts in 2018, with hilarious illustrations by Ben Wood.
His first children’s novel, The Greatest Blogger in the World featured the story of Charlie Ridge, a young blogger navigating family, friends and the perils of internet life. His second novel Son of Death, a black comedy about a family of modern grim reapers, was named by The Age as one of the ‘best books of the year’ in 2015.
He is also the creator of a blog post about ‘camera loss’ that somehow went viral and he wasn’t embarrassed enough to decline an invitation to be a Cleo Bachelor in 2011.
Andrew is an avid reader of children’s and YA literature. He has worked for Readings bookshop in Melbourne and at the flagship Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London, where he was thrilled to put his knowledge to work as a children’s bookseller. He has previously judged the Young Adult category of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and the Centre for Youth Literature’s Inky Awards.
Andrew is a graduate of RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing diploma and his writing has taken him around the world. He completed an artist residency at Caldera Arts in Oregon, USA and a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust fellowship in Adelaide.
He is a regular presenter on the schools circuit in Australia, conducting writing workshops; talking about his writing life; and sharing the stories and experiences behind his books.
Ben Wood is a children’s illustrator based in Victoria, Australia. He has been commissioned to work with clients such as Hardie Grant Egmont, Penguin Random House, and Scholastic Australia.
Ben is able to offer clients a wealth of illustration styles and techniques in both digital and traditional mediums. Recent publications include ‘Blast Off!‘ by Shelly Unwin and the Squishy Taylor series, by Ailsa Wild. He is currently illustrating the Real Pigeons series by Andrew McDonald. “It’s super coo!”
Ben also runs presentations or workshops in schools, public libraries and bookstores. His sessions can vary from small to large groups, depending on what suits best. He is more than happy to work with Prep-Year 9 students, and adults too. Please contact Booked Out Speakers Agency for a booking.
3 winners will win a finished copy of REAL PIGEONS FIGHT CRIME, US Only. Click here to enter.
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From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.
In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.
When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.
With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.
Yuki only plays the games she wins.
A white silence blanketed the land. Newly fallen snow, hushed. Pure, crystalline ice hardening against the pale bark of the trees. The chilled air that swelled with the slow, sleeping breaths of a world that had yet to wake.
And a girl cloaked in heavy furs, waiting.
Apaay studied the breathing hole in the ice. Her joints ached with cold and the hours she’d crouched, alone save her dog Nakaluq, who lay quietly curled by her side. It was the third time this week she had come to the frozen plain that was Naga, the Eastern Sea, and she vowed it to be the last. Above, the sky was a spill of black ink. The long night was only in its first month, which left five months of darkness to endure. The moon, a shard of pale light, cast a watery sheen upon the ground. It was not enough.
Keeping her attention on the breathing hole, Apaay slowly removed the harpoon slung across the bulk of her fur parka. She supposed there were worse things in life than lack of sunlight. Here on the frozen sea, she knew true peace. The sea was sleeping beneath the ice. And the seals were, too.
Her gaze slid to Nakaluq’s still form. Unsurprisingly, he was sleeping as well. She nudged his flank with one of her sealskin boots. “Wake up.” A white cloud streamed from her lips.
His eyebrows twitched, and he curled his body tighter, bushy tail draped across his nose. A clear dismissal that he should not be disturbed.
Apaay rolled her eyes, for this was his absolute favorite game: feed me, and I will awaken. “You’re supposed to be my lookout. You know, to alert me when danger is near?”
One of his large, triangular ears flicked west, toward the direction of her village. No sound, no danger. He grumbled, burrowing further into his warmth. The wind had begun to pick up, and it was cutting.
“I guess you don’t want your treat then,” she crooned.
Immediately, Nakaluq sprang to his feet, prancing around as if to say, Look at me, I’m awake!
Apaay snorted at the ridiculous display before wrapping an arm around his neck, pulling him close, and pressing a brief kiss to his snout. His pelt was a perfect reflection of the tundra—white flecked with gray. Snow on stone. “Sit still. You’re making me tired.”
Nakaluq side-eyed her.
“Don’t look at me that way.” The look that implied maybe she wouldn’t be so tired if she were dreaming with Mama, Papa, and Eska in their ice house, warm and safe in slumber.
Dreaming. What a lovely notion.
It was simple, really. They needed to eat. They needed clothes, tools, oil for their lamps. Over the last few years, the seal population had dwindled, and she wondered if someone had disrespected the old rules. The Sea Mother did not take offense lightly. Without her favor, the marine life would travel elsewhere for the remainder of the season, proving for a difficult hunt. Decades had passed since anyone had sighted the Sea Mother beyond her watery silence. The sea grew restless.
Apaay did as much as she could, but often it was not enough. Her earlier attempts at harpooning a seal had ended in failure. The first time, she had struck too soon. The second, too late. Like this, Eska would say. Try again. And Apaay loved Eska. She did. But she could love her sister with the whole of her heart while also wishing things did not come so easy for her.
When she thought deeper on the issue, it was actually quite ironic. Her parents would be displeased to know she was out here alone, and yet who would come, if not her?
As if sensing her sadness, Nakaluq sidled closer.
“You know how Papa is,” she told her friend. “How can he expect to hunt with a broken leg? Or Mama, already busy with sewing and cooking and cleaning?”
A heavy paw settled on top of Apaay’s hand, the rough pads scraping against her mittens. She squeezed it. “Or Eska, too busy drooling over Lusa?” Her sister scowled whenever Apaay teased her about it, though admittedly she did drool over the girl. A lot.
Leaning close, Apaay whispered to Nakaluq, “Though not as much as you.”
The dog huffed as if offended.
Her smile fell as she again examined the breathing hole, huddling only a few feet beyond its slick edge. Black water struck the hard, icy rim. She did not have to worry. Even when her breathing shallowed out, she did not have to worry. This time of year, the ice was frozen four feet solid. There would be no cracks.
Still, she shuffled back to put another foot of distance between herself and the ledge. Her fingers tightened on the harpoon, the head a glint of carved ivory, the line curling along the ground. Drifting snowflakes clung to the ruff of wolverine fur encircling her hood.
Movement in the water.
Apaay held herself absolutely still. She was night, and snow, and hard, glinting ice.
The seal’s slick head breached the dark liquid, whiskers twitching, its skin a mottled blue-gray. Its pupils were wet and black, no white to see.
It hadn’t yet spotted her. As he’d been trained to do, Nakaluq remained motionless beside her, little more than a boulder among the ice as she lifted her harpoon in an unhurried motion so the animal wouldn’t startle. It would only take a few breaths before submerging again.
Her harpoon came down.
The seal vanished in a splash of water.
Apaay swore and lurched to her feet. Two hours of waiting and what did she have to show for it? Nothing. Her stomach hollowed out from the sense of failure, the anxiety of her family’s diminishing food stores, which would not last another week.
She waited another thirty minutes despite the unlikelihood of the seal returning. It would instead travel to another breathing hole, one without a sharp stick aimed at its head. The nearest one lay a half-mile north and wasn’t frequented as often as this one. It would be so nice to return home and slip beneath her furs. Rest, refuel, maybe even dream.
But they needed to eat.
Apaay whistled for Nakaluq as she approached the sled parked some yards away. Grabbing the harness, she looped it around his body and front legs so it hit him high on the chest. He was of stocky build, with powerful haunches built for endurance and a dense, double coat.
“My sweet, sweet boy,” she murmured, rubbing behind his ears. He nuzzled his nose against her chest like he used to do as a pup. The memory softened her hunting frustrations, and she buried her face in his neck before mounting the sled.
Two short whistles sent him north, the sled’s walrus-bone runners cutting lines through the thin layer of powder dusting the frozen sea. The runners’ smoothness pleased her, as they had only been recently completed after she had run the last sled, quite literally, into the ground. An accident, she’d claimed, but Papa had been furious nonetheless. Never one to waste anything, she had recycled the old material to build a swifter, lighter sled body, large enough to lash multiple seals to its base.
Above, the stars were hard pinpricks of light. The wind was a brutal, shredding force, stinging her cheeks and eyes, scouring her rough, chapped lips. There was nothing that was not hardened or chiseled in the North. It was a land of contrasts, white and black and gray, uncolored, unhospitable to all except those who had been born here. This was why Apaay admired the land. And this was also why she feared it.
With the temperature far below freezing, the second breathing hole had already iced over when she arrived. Using the tip of her harpoon, Apaay chipped away the thin film, the splintering sound causing her to flinch. She had just settled down to wait when a whistle carried high upon the wind. Three short bursts, followed by a longer note—the signal for friend.
Two figures approached, their silhouettes bulked in thick layers. Nakaluq perked up, and his tail, curled over his back in alertness, began to wag back and forth.
Apaay waved to Eska and her good friend, Chena. “Over here!”
They joined her at the breathing hole, her younger sister ruffling Nakaluq’s fur in greeting. “You know most people are asleep right now,” Eska said with amusement. “Right?”
Her mouth widened, more smirk than smile. The world was cold, but in her heart, she felt warm. “You know I’m not most people.”
“Trust me, I’m aware.”
Her attention slid to Chena, who was unusually silent, her small mouth grim. Silver limned the soft line of her friend’s jaw.
Apaay said to her sister, “You speak as if that’s a bad thing.”
“Not everyone is so sure of themselves.”
A snort sprang free at how untrue that statement was. What was more, that Eska would think such a thing. Apaay was stumbling along in life, chasing at the heels of those ahead. She shrugged. “Maybe. But let’s talk about what’s really important: my new joke.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“What did the shark say to the whale?”
Eska made a show of thinking deep thoughts, even though she probably already knew the answer. It was a game they sometimes played. Who could think of the most cringe-worthy joke? “I give up.”
“What are you blubbering about!” She snorted out a laugh. “Get it? Blubbering? Because—because the whale has blubber—”
Eska sighed, her face softening with affection. “That was terrible, you know.”
Apaay had always thought her sister beautiful, even as a child, and for the longest time, Apaay hadn’t the words to describe why that beauty was admired. People would mention how bright her eyes were, how smooth and round her cheeks were, how precious was her dimpled chin, her mouth like a rosy bud.
But now she understood what had eluded her for years. In a land that knew no warmth, Eska exuded what people craved: light, and a feeling of comfort, and peace.
“Anyway,” Apaay said, lifting her eyebrows, “you’re one to talk. Why are you out now, except to annoy me? You should be in bed.”
“Oh.” Her sister ran a mitten over Nakaluq’s back and sent Chena an unreadable look. “No reason.” She glanced at the sled, its empty base. “Any luck?”
Apaay offered a brief, close-mouthed smile, trying to ignore the sudden tension she felt at so few words. “Not yet.” Her sister didn’t know how truly dire their situation was, and she would like to keep it that way.
“If you need a break soon, let me know.”
And risk Eska taking the kill? “I’m fine, but thank you.” She turned to Chena. A definite paleness washed out the warmer undertones of her skin. It was concerning, but not uncommon. It was easy to catch a cold at this time of year. “How is Muktuk doing?” Apaay asked, speaking of Chena’s brother. “Has he learned the name of his new baby yet?” She tucked her braid back inside her hood.
“Not yet. My father is supposed to arrive sometime this week.”
Apaay nodded and returned to studying the breathing hole. Chena’s father had traveled to one of the neighboring villages, where his mother—Chena’s grandmother—currently lived. She and the elders would assemble to discuss the baby’s name-soul. This was the Analak way.
Someday when she was old enough, Apaay hoped for the opportunity in choosing a baby’s name-soul too. Names did not simply continue individual lives. They continued the life of the community. When the village celebrated a birth, they both celebrated a new person as well as the return of the namesake, or the deceased person from whom the name-soul was taken. These names, these kinship ties, were the threads that bound their community together.
After a few minutes, Eska said, with an absurd amount of nonchalance, “Pana was asking for you last night.”
She very nearly gagged. “Ugh. Spare me.”
“What? The man is softer than whale intestines. And anyway—” She slid her harpoon free as the water rippled, lowering her voice. “—he doesn’t actually like me. He just wants to . . . you know.”
Chena murmured, “You won’t even give him a chance?”
Apaay shot her friend a cutting look. The only reason she’d spent time with him was because he sometimes gave her the smaller of the seals if he killed two. But they didn’t need to know that. She had no patience for softness like Pana. It was a hard, jagged world out there. The North would carve you up, spit you out if you let it. There was no place for vulnerability on the ice. “Not all of us have someone like Silla in our lives. And can you both please lower your voices? You’ll scare the seals away.”
At the young man’s name, a flush deepened the bronze of Chena’s cheeks. “Right. Silla.” Strained laughter bubbled up, and she clamped her lips together.
Apaay looked at her friend. Really looked at her. She was about to ask what was wrong when Eska stated loudly, “It’s probably for the best. No doubt you’d chew Pana up if given the chance.”
It was not untrue. “Yes, he’d sob into his bear skins and then where would we be? Now hush. A seal’s coming.”
The ripple flattened into calmness, and Apaay waited, hoping a seal would breach its warm, liquid safety for the chance to take a breath of air, but their voices must have chased it back into the water’s deep. Apaay sat back on her heels, glaring at her sister.
At least Eska had the grace to look apologetic. “Sorry.”
Apaay took a breath to quell her frustration. Since the animal would probably not return, she’d have to come back tomorrow. Tonight, she would go home empty-handed. Again.
Eska reached for the harpoon. “I can get a seal for you. I know of another place—”
“I can manage on my own,” Apaay said, snatching it away. “I’ll come back tomorrow.”
“But the breathing hole isn’t far.”
“I said I’ll come back tomorrow.”
Something about Eska shrank, became small. “I’m just trying to help.”
Apaay hated herself for saying it, because it had been an accident, and Eska was kind, and her sister, whom she loved more than anything, but she said, “You’ve helped enough, don’t you think?”
Chena glanced between them, clearly uncomfortable. “Apaay—”
“What?” If she had come all this way, done all this work, it was not so Eska could take the kill from her. Call it selfishness, but for once, just once, Apaay wanted to prove she was as equally capable a hunter as Eska. The seal would be hers. Hers to kill, hers to claim. “Every day that passes is a day closer to starvation. So I’m sorry if I want to make sure we have something to eat next week. If it had been quiet as I had asked, maybe our problem would be solved.” It was hurtful, what she said. Disappointment in her performance made her cruel when she should be kind. “But I guess we’ll never know.”
Eska’s eyes swam with unshed tears. Saltwater lapped against the ice, gently. “I’m going to go home then,” she whispered.
Apaay nodded, looking to the tops of her boots. “I think that would be best.”
“I am sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t know about—I didn’t know.” With one last look to Chena, she left. Darkness soon swallowed her.
A few minutes passed before Chena spoke. Her face was grave. “That was a bit harsh, don’t you think? She’s only fourteen.”
“I know that, but everything comes so easy to her.” The last word she choked off. Apaay blinked rapidly against the sting in her eyes. Truly, it wasn’t Eska’s fault. All Apaay asked for was a chance. “Every time I fail to bring in a seal, or forget to replenish the oil stores, or ruin some other task, it’s another mark against me. You know I want to lead the hunt this summer.”
The men had long ago told her no, and yet she was a burr they could not remove, clinging to their clothes, blowing back in with the force of a blizzard whenever one of the younger men puffed out his chest, claiming this was not her place.
Apaay knew why they told her no. She was too flighty, some claimed. Too lost, others said. A leader commanded respect, exuded confidence, and built trust, acting as a beacon in the dark. Why would they ever choose someone like her, unreliable and drifting, to lead? To which Apaay would counter, how could she prove herself if not given the chance?
“You are under a lot of pressure,” Chena agreed. “It would make anyone’s patience short.”
But. She heard a but in there.
Apaay rubbed a palm over her face, dislodging the ice that had condensed around her nose and mouth and eyes. Guilt swam through her. “I’ll apologize.” Chena was right. She had acted unnecessarily harsh toward Eska out of her own insecurity.
With the hunt a failure, they decided to return home. Nakaluq hauled the sled while she and Chena traveled on foot until they reached the shore. A cairn, as tall and wide as a man, the stones in browns and grays and stacked atop one another, signified the break between sea and unsea, as well as marked the direction to their community.
Snow crunched and caved beneath their boots. This was a still, silent land. Its hush sank deep into the earth, rooting down with those of the bracken and the trees. Their village was located two miles southwest. Boreal forest, thick and lush and evergreen, lay to the south. Open tundra lay to the north.
Chena, normally doing everything she could to fill the silence, was unusually quiet. A slight furrowing of her brow had Apaay resting a palm on her friend’s arm. “Is everything all right? You don’t look well.”
Chena shook her head, gaze elsewhere.
Apaay pulled her friend to a stop and turned the shorter girl to face her. “There is something wrong.” The realization was bright.
Chena’s glare cut through the gloom. Apaay noticed her fingers digging into her friend’s shoulders, and she loosened her grip. “Sorry.” There was something between them she couldn’t see, filling up the space, pressing out her certainty and ease. The regret she felt for snapping at Eska didn’t help.
A shuddering sigh slipped through the chill air. Chena rubbed her mittens over her face, cheeks red and chapped from the wind. “It’s about Silla. We slept together last month.”
“As in we slept together.”
“Was it—I mean—”
Chena cupped her elbows in her palms. “He was good to me.” Her throat worked, as if she wished to hide these words by swallowing them down. “But I realized afterward I wasn’t wearing my pregnancy charm.”
Her mouth parted in understanding as her stomach dropped. And dropped. She glanced at Chena’s belly, its softness shielded behind layers of fur. Life swelled beneath it and would one day open its eyes to the world.
Clearing her throat, she looked away, unsure of what to say.
“Eska told me to come to you,” Chena whispered. “I need help. I don’t know what to do.” The words wavered, a touch desperate. “We’re not even married. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to support me and the child. I mean, he’s a capable hunter, a hard worker, and while he’s excited to be a father, I can’t—I mean—” Her eyes glittered, so dark, so very wide. “I’m not ready for this.”
Apaay pulled her friend along, wanting to keep their blood flowing. Chena, pregnant. She could hardly wrap her mind around it.
They walked for perhaps half a mile in silence before Apaay asked, “Have you told your mother?”
“No. I’m afraid to.”
The hill they climbed steepened, but once they reached the top they’d be able to see their village. Apaay glanced over her shoulder to check on Nakaluq and was not surprised to find him only a few feet behind, the sled’s runners having carved deep tracks into the snow.
Apaay said, through shallow huffs, “I think you should tell her.”
“What if she hates me?”
“She won’t hate you. She loves you. You’re her daughter.”
“Yes, and now a pregnant one.”
Reaching down, Apaay squeezed Chena’s hand. So delicate, so small. “I know it doesn’t feel like a joyous occasion, but it will. You’re going to be a mother.” Not even the worthiest of hunters could overshadow the act of raising and caring for another. “You also have me. If there’s anything you need, I will do whatever I can to help.”
Chena nodded, the lines bracketing her mouth easing into smoothness. A moment later, her nose crinkled in distaste. She lifted it to the wind. “Do you smell that?”
The scent hit as they crested the hill: sharp and acrid, unclean. Nestled in between clumps of frozen trees, sixty ice houses lay like small mounds of snow upon the ground. Except they were not greeted by glittering white domes. Gray streaks sullied the ice—a spattering of filth. The world rained ash as black smoke hissed from down below, pouring into the sky like blood from an open wound.
Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.
But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.
Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.
With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.
Official Book Playlist
COURTNEY: My playlist choices are largely inspired by the music I was listening to while working on SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS. I’ve been listening to a lot of K-pop over the last few years, and I think that Kira would love girl groups like TWICE or Red Velvet. TWICE, in particular, has a lot of very happy, optimistic tracks that would brighten Kira’s day. I chose BREAKTHROUGH because of its powerful message of overcoming great difficulties, and because it’s sung in Japanese!
I’ve also included a beautiful track called SAKITAMA by J-pop girl group Rin. This song is so elegant and lush, it transports me across the Pacific Ocean every time I listen to it! And of course, no playlist of mine would be complete without a track from Florence + the Machine, the queens of the dramatic anthem.
The last two entries are interesting ones—I was listening to IMMORTALS by Fall Out Boy while writing parts of the first chapter, and VALKYRIE by K-pop boy group ONEUS while writing the book’s climax. I figured both songs deserve spots on this list, too!
VALYNNE: The songs I chose for the Seven Deadly Shadows playlist center around Kira. Some of the songs articulate romance in the way I think she sees it. Other songs capture the feeling of having the weight of the world on your shoulders. Each reflect a mood, emotion or spirit of a character who faces adversity with a range of fears, like any human, but is able to conquer those obstacles with courage and strength.
A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a “standout in the genre” by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film ALIEN.
Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five-pound cat with a giant personality.
Valynne E. Maetani (pronounced Vuh-lin Mah-eh-tah-nee) grew up in Utah and obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In a former life, she was a project manager and developed educational software for children with learning disabilities. Currently, she is a full-time writer. She is a member of the We Need Diverse Books team and is dedicated to promoting diversity in children’s literature because every child should grow up believing his or her story deserves to be told. Her debut novel, Ink and Ashes, is the winner of the New Visions Award 2013, a Junior Library Guild 2015 selection, and Best Fiction Book in Salt Lake City Weekly’s Best of Utah Arts Award for 2015. She lives in Salt Lake City.
GRAND PRIZE: – a signed copy of SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS – a signed copy of Courtney Alameda’s SHUTTER – a signed copy of Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES – anime portraits of Kira and Shiro – a stuffed fox omamori charm from the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine in Japan – an origami fox hand-folded by Valynne Maetani – a yokai mini sticker sheet – and an assortment of Japanese Kit Kats (not seen in the photo)
SECOND PRIZE: – a signed copy of SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS with anime portraits of Kira and Shiro
Giveaway starts on 28th January and ends on 11th February 2020. Open internationally. Click here to enter!
Click the banner below to see the complete schedule and learn more about the tour.
Title: NATURAL PASSION Author: Anna Durand Pub. Date: January 9, 2020 Publisher: Jacobsville Books Formats: Paperback, eBook Pages: 208 Get it on:Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo
Natural Passion is the first book in a brand-new trilogy of romantic comedies from Anna Durand, the bestselling author of the Hot Scots series.
I entertain naked people for a living. No, not THAT kind of entertainment. I own a nudist resort. I’m not a nudist, but Val Silva is. And he’s a human supernova sleeping in the room next door.
The man is tall, gorgeous, tattooed, and a shameless exhibitionist. As the Brazilian bad boy of the international football world, he’s as famous for his sex tape as for his talent on the field. Oh, did I mention he walks around naked ALL the time? A girl only has so much willpower. Maybe we can have a little fun… as long as his tabloid past doesn’t mess with my quiet life.
Eve Holt is the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen, in those short-shorts and tank tops that make me wonder what she’s hiding underneath. Most women love my wild side, but Eve thinks I’m trouble with a capital T. Okay, she might have a point there. But I always get what I want, and I want her. I didn’t lead my team to Olympic gold by giving up. That’s one fact about me Eve is about to learn.
Panting, I rushed up to meet my guest. “Hi, welcome to Au Naturel Naturist Resort. I’m—”
My voice ceased working the instant the man jumped out of the car and turned toward me.
A god had stepped out of the luxury pickup. My gaze insisted on taking in the full picture of my newest guest, wandering over his entire body. Tall and muscular in an athletic way, he boasted skin lightly bronzed by the sun. His dark hair curled around his ears to kiss the lower edge of the lobes. His cocoa slacks clung to his thighs, accentuating the powerful muscles underneath. The top two buttons of his white dress shirt hung open.
My attention stalled on his chest and the elaborate tattoos that covered the swath of skin I could see.
He ran a hand through his artfully mussed locks, and his full lips curved into a relaxed smile.
All my guests arrived wearing clothes since airports frowned on nude travel, but this guy’s clothes struck me as designer quality. Most people showed up wearing shorts and T-shirts.
The god offered me his hand. “Valentim Silva. But you can call me Val.”
He spoke with a light accent I couldn’t quite place. In fact, it was so light I wouldn’t have picked up on it if not for the lilting way he said his full name.
I settled my palm in his, my gaze drawn to his warm brown eyes. “Eve Holt. I own the resort.”
“Yes, I know.” He held on to my hand for a second or two longer than necessary for politeness. “I have seen your website. Your photographs are wonderful, very artistic.”
None of my previous guests had ever looked like him. I’d hosted attractive men before, but they were dim stars in the far reaches of the hotness galaxy. This guy was a supernova standing two feet away from me.
He peered over his shoulder at the guest house. “Is my room ready? I’m a little early.”
I fanned myself with one hand, suddenly hot despite the temperate weather.
“Ms. Holt?” he said. “Are you all right?”
What was wrong with me? I cleared my throat and stuffed my hands in the pockets of my shorts. “I’m fine.”
He raised his brows. “My room?”
My mouth opened, a response on my tongue, but I froze before uttering a syllable. His room. The one that had been flooded. This man, this human supernova in designer slacks, was going to be sleeping in my spare room. Oh no, this wasn’t a disaster at all.
Anna Durand loves romance, men in kilts, and cheesecake. Not always in that order. She slaves away every day writing about sexy people doing sexy things together, with heart and humor and sometimes with suspense. With paranormal stories, she explores the darker side of romance. With contemporary romance, she delves into the emotional side of love and sensuality.
Readers and reviewers have blessed Anna’s books with wonderful reviews, giving her a nice glowy feeling that she’s doing something right. Her books have become bestsellers on every major retail site, hitting #1 multiple times. The Hot Scots series remains Anna’s personal favorite and a favorite among her fans. Who can resist a hunky Scotsman?
Anna also has a Master’s Degree in Library Science, so naturally, she made Calli in Wicked in a Kilt a librarian too. For twelve years and counting, Anna has run a cataloging services company that creates cataloging-in-publication data for other authors and publishers. And when she’s not doing that or writing, you’ll find her binging on audiobooks, playing with puppies, or crafting handmade jewelry.
Visit AnnaDurand.com to subscribe to her newsletter for updates on her writing and other fun stuff. You’ll receive a free gift as thanks for signing up!
Five winners will receive audiobook copies of Fired Up, an erotic romance that has a lot of humor in it, Audible gift copies (US only) or Authors Direct copies (US, Canada, Australia). Click here to enter!
“Hope was a dangerous thing. It could consume every dream and make them take flight, becoming wild daydreams in one’s heart and mind. Or hope could incinerate everything you thought you knew, burning you down to your core, leaving you raw and exposed for the world.”
Emory Fae has only known one thing—life at The Academy, a school for those who have special abilities. Following in her parents’ footsteps, the pressure to uphold their dream falls on her and one of her best friends—Adair Stratton. An outcast and feared by most, Adair longs to break away from the expectations dictating his future. With whispers of dark magic spreading across Kiero, Adair starts to doubt The Academy is all it seems.
An unexpected visit ignites new tensions as the roguish king from across the Black Sea, Tadeas Maher of the Shattered Isles, and his heir, Marquis Maher, sail to Kiero. Notorious for their pirating and wrath, for the first time in years, they demand the Faes listen to their proposition for a new treaty. Caught in the middle of politics, Adair and Emory, with the help of their best friends Brokk and Memphis, search for the one thing that matters the most—the truth.
Their world is tipped upside down as unlikely alliances are made, and war ravages Kiero. Through the throes of betrayal, lies, hidden magic, and love, Adair is faced with a life changing decision. Will he fight or bow to the darkness within?
But, Adair’s decision will change the course of Kiero forever, setting in motion irreversible destinies for everyone at The Academy as Emory Fae rises as heir.
Heir of Lies is the first book in the bestselling Black Dawn series.
The Black Dawn series is re- releasing and “Heir of Lies” (book one) is coming April 21 2020! This edition will have an exclusive map and bonus content!
“The afternoon sun soaked into his neck as Brokk Foster raised the bow, drawing the string back, his arrow nocked. The bowstring grazed his cheek as his arm shook; he tried not to blink against the sweat rolling down his temple. The courtyard faded away in that second, his hawk-eyed teacher, Professor Iasan, standing to the side, his arms crossed, his face impassive. Brokk’s fellow classmates stood near, and the looming structure of the Academy was behind them. A strand of his golden hair tickled his forehead as he exhaled. It’s not real, just release the arrow. Just release it. At the opposite end of the range, a stuffed dummy was raised with an emblazoned red target where a heart would be. Not real, not real, not real. Muscles screaming, he tried to empty his charged mind, to convince himself that the undiluted fear that clutched his heart was unreasonable. With still shaking arms, the arrow flew, cutting through the air with a soft hiss. Laugher erupted behind him, making him cringe as he lowered the bow and saw the lodged feathered end in the ground, not even close to the dummy. “Enough!” Professor Iasan’s booming voice cut off his classmates’ jeers. Brokk turned, lifting his gaze to meet the incredulous look of his best friend, Memphis Carter. Memphis raised one eyebrow as his smooth voice filled Brokk’s consciousness, only for him to hear, “Well, what are you going to do this time?” Huffing, Brokk wrenched his gaze away. Sometimes his friend could be such an ass. Tactical training class was Brokk’s nemesis, and he met, not for the first time, Professor Iasan’s cutting accusations. “Foster! What do you call that?” More chuckles rippled out, and the tips of his ears burned. A minute passed, and then another as Brokk studied the fascinating details of his leather boots. “Well?” Raising his gaze to meet Professor Iasan’s, that familiar flicker of anger ignited in him. He was so tired of being trained for no acclaimed threat. The Academy had taken him in years ago, with golden promises of schooling him in the control of his abilities so he could have a shot at a normal life— that they all could. Over the years, the Academy had become a school woven from lies. The students here were regimented, honed, and molded into weapons. He did not sign up to be a soldier. Brokk felt his lips tug upward as he threw the bow at his feet. It clattered noisily, as he threw his hands out to his sides. “I’m done, Professor Iasan.” He brushed past Memphis, not meeting his gaze. Through the catcalls and hollers, Memphis’s voice cut through his mind, “Brokk…” Memphis’s tone only made him walk faster out of the courtyard, not looking back once. “
“It was as if her body had been ripped into a thousand different pieces. Her lungs burned, begging for relief. Emory heard the soft crackle of fire. Her head was a spinning mass; it was its own continent. Squinting, she tried to focus. Blinking slowly, her surroundings came into view. Her pulse picked up. She wasn’t in her room. She wasn’t in her home. The metal world around her seemed to have one purpose. To keep people in. To keep her in. The last twenty-four hours rushed over her in a flurry of confusing memories. Him… Memphis. The name rolled around in her mind, familiar yet unfamiliar all at once. Her eyes flashed open, her heart thrumming with adrenaline. Heavily, Emory sat up, trying to pull her thoughts together. For now, the room was empty, her captors gone. Now. This is your chance to escape. The thought clambered through her wildly, and she acted. Standing from the bed, Emory stumbled, her legs weak, her clothes dirtied. Breathing heavily, Emory ran to the door, pushing the handle down as it opened. Containing her surprise, she slipped into the hallway. What kind of criminals would keep their prisoner in an unlocked room? Walking fast, Emory pushed the thought down, keeping her head down as she tried to locate how to get out of this place. The hallway was quiet, and Emory didn’t pass anyone else. It had to be late into the night, and she sent up a thank you to whoever was granting her such luck. Trying not to run, she turned left, passing more shut unmarked doors, but slowly, the hallway slanted up. Heart pounding, her palms slicked with sweat as she tried to stick to the shadows, walking faster now. Ahead of her, doors loomed, and panic bloomed in her chest. Running now, Emory tried to hold back the tears burning in her eyes. She reached the massive doors, pulling them open, and the night air slammed into her. Gasping, she sprinted, rushing out into the rolling field. The air was brisk, a sweet aroma hanging on the wind, the crescent moon tucked in the midnight blue clouds. Ahead, a massive forest loomed, and she frantically looked for any sign of modern civilization where she could find help. There was nothing. A stitch laced through her side, and her converses lost footing. Emory slammed into the damp earth. Rocks sliced through her palms as she tried to break her fall, blood welling in the cuts. Tears slid down her cheeks as she got up, whispering, “Keep moving. C’mon.” Looking back, she expected to see the place she had been taken to, but dread pooled in her stomach as all she saw was open field—no sign of any building whatsoever. “What the hell?” Emory whispered, fear making her thought process choppy. Sprinting again, she pushed toward the woods.”
About the Author
Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.