Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Book Blitz: The Devil's Standoff


The Devil’s Standoff
V. S. McGrath
(The Devil’s Revolver #2)
Publication date: April 2nd 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Welcome to the birthplace of the Devil’s Revolver, where untold danger lurks for Hettie Alabama and her companions…
The second book in the epic, magic-clad Devil’s Revolver series follows Hettie and her sister south of the Wall into Mexico, where they must unmake Hettie’s infernal mage gun while confronting a magic- and land-hungry army and a monster from hell drawn to the powers of the weapon. Hettie wants nothing more than to break her bond to the cursed Devil’s Revolver and find a way to keep her sister safe — but Abby’s indigo powers are growing stronger, and in the gated, walled village where they take refuge, nothing is exactly as it seems. Pursued by the Pinkertons, left without allies or guardians, Hettie has to rely on her own grit and determination to do the right thing, no matter the cost.
This second installment of V. S. McGrath’s sweeping and high-stakes saga draws its truly unforgettable gunslinger heroine to her limits and ends with a satisfying bang.
Grab book 1 – The Devil’s Revolver – for only $1.99!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo
EXCERPT:
By midafternoon the following day, they were in sight of the Wall’s base. The monolith stretched over the landscape like a great black viper rippling over the sand. Hettie got a strange chill just looking at it.
“The shoring crews are farther west,” Walker said, scanning the length of the Wall with narrowed eyes. “No border patrols in sight.”
“Why are they shoring up the Wall?” Hettie asked.
“Magic needs bolstering now and again,” Uncle explained. “The bigger the spell, the more magic and maintenance it needs. Nothing lasts forever.”
“Yes, but why are we fixing it from this side if it was built to keep Americans out of Mexico?”
“Walls work both ways. The folks on the losing side of the war don’t like a big old monument reminding them of their failures, so they make up their own story, make it look like we’re the ones in charge. They send out men and crews and make it seem like we’re doing something important, like we’re the ones keeping invaders out.” Uncle spat on the red earth. “Men in Washington gotta justify their wages somehow.”
“Politics aside, there’s no way for us to get through,” Walker said. “The Division and the Pinkertons will probably be looking for us at the gates.”
“So how do we get through?”
“With help.” He picked up a stick and drew several runes on the ground, whispering an incantation. Then he broke the stick in half and tossed the pieces away.
A sound like a muffled crack of thunder rolled across the land. Walker lifted his nose in the air like a hound scenting its prey. “He’s coming.”
The wind picked up, whipping dust all around them. Abby cried out and shielded her eyes, and Cymon huddled close to her, growling a warning.
Hettie put herself between her family and the rust-colored dust devil skating toward them. Walker and Uncle held their ground, unafraid even as the wind tore at their clothes and sand scoured their exposed skin. The wind died abruptly, and the swirling sand settled. From the tiny cyclone a thin man emerged, his skin dark and leathery, his face young but lined. He wore only battered leather trousers and a small vest. His neck was hung with so many charms and talismans on leather thongs, they formed a kind of shield on his chest. His hair was a matted, tangled mess festooned with bits of leaves and twigs. His eyes, the strangest shade of sulfur-yellow, glinted with devilry.
“So, the prodigal son returns.” He said it with the precise enunciation of an Englishman, surprising Hettie. “I was beginning to wonder whether you’d ever come back, Woodroffe.” He raised his eyebrow at Uncle, who stood with one hand casually resting on the grip of his holstered sidearm. “You’ve grown your family, I see.” His roving eyes landed on Abby and widened. Hettie stepped in front of her sister, propping her hands on her hips and glaring.
“We need safe passage into Mexico,” Walker said.
“Heading home, hmm? You think your people will appreciate the new additions?” He gestured at the group.
Walker growled, “What’s your price, Coyote?”
The man scratched his head and paced in a tight circle. His movements went from smooth to jerky intermittently, as if a fisherman had his limbs on a line and was trying to lure trout as he reeled the bait in. “Last time, it was just you. This lot will cost you.”
“How much?” Walker repeated tightly.
The man Walker called Coyote picked at his nails. “Six months.”
“That’s highway robbery,” the bounty hunter growled.
“I don’t have the juice to carry all of you through safely. Half of that six will probably be sapped away just moving you through the Wall.”
“You know it’s not my juice to give. Six months is impossible.”
“Then how about him?” He tipped his chin toward Uncle. “Seems you’ve got plenty to go around.”
Walker’s jaw firmed. “He’s not paying.”
“Well, if not him, the little one will do.” He smiled, his teeth surprisingly large and white. “She’s bursting with juice. I can almost taste her from here.”
Hettie had Diablo pointed at Coyote’s head before her fury registered. The derelict sorcerer stumbled back with a yelp as though he’d been smacked. “Come anywhere near my sister and I’ll blow that tongue out the back of your skull.”
“Mother of— Walker, what have you unleashed?” He looked between the bounty hunter and Hettie, hands raised. “Who is she?”
“Someone who doesn’t like you.” Walker’s lips twitched. “I’d listen to her, Coyote. She’s got an itchy trigger finger.”
“It’s not her finger I’m worried about.” His gaze stayed locked on Diablo. “Three months of juice, Walker. And only because you’re a friend.”
“Two weeks, you soul-leech.”
“Twenty days, straight from you. That’s my final offer.”
“Deal.” Walker spat in his palm and held it out. Coyote did the same, then took one of the many leather thongs from around his neck and wrapped it around his dust-covered wrist. He clasped Walker’s hand tightly, chanting in a language Hettie didn’t recognize, looping the strip of material around the bounty hunter’s forearm.
“What’s going on?” Hettie asked Uncle.
“They struck a bargain. That Coyote’s borrowing magic from Walker.”
She frowned. “But . . . what keeps him from just taking all his magic?” Her hand twitched over the ghostly form of Diablo, readying to defend the bounty hunter.
“It doesn’t work that way. Borrowing magic requires consent on both sides.” He notched his chin toward the men. “They can exchange no more, no less than what they bargained for.”
The air shifted as if the wind had momentarily changed direction. Walker gave a grunt. Coyote breathed deep. His eyes dilated, and he threw his head back, mouth slightly open. Hettie could’ve sworn she saw him inhaling a wisp of bluish smoke. He held it and then released, shoulders sagging. His spine loosened, and he smiled as his eyes went back to normal.
“Ohhh.” He reached for Walker and made to embrace him, but the much taller, much broader man pushed him away and hastily untangled the thong from around his arm. Dark bags hung beneath Walker’s eyes. Coyote laughed. “Gonna be a shame to give up all that lovely juice. Such a delicacy . . . ”
“Just get us across the Wall,” the bounty hunter grumbled. “And do it before I let the girl shoot you.”
“Of course, of course, a bargain is a bargain.” He scooped the ropes of talismans off his neck and laid them on the ground. They weren’t individual necklaces, but one long rope looped multiple times around him. He arranged the hoops on the ground.
“Bigger,” Walker instructed. “The horses and the dog are coming with us.”
Coyote looked like he was about to protest, but glanced once more at Hettie and reworked the rope pattern. Soon he had a wide circle of leather on the ground.
“I’ve never encountered a mage gun like that,” he said without looking at her. “Metals have an odd effect on my spells. Unless you want to get stuck in the Wall and become a permanent part of the masonry, you ought to leave it behind.”
“She’s not leaving it behind for you to put your grubby hands on,” Walker snapped.
A lump formed in Hettie’s stomach. “Is that a risk? Can we get stuck?”
“Stuck?” Coyote’s yellow eyes flashed, and he bared his teeth in a rictus of a grin. “It’s worse than that. If anything disturbs the spell on either side of the tunnel, matter will resolve around you, in you, turning you slowly and excruciatingly into part of it. I know men who’ve screamed for days as they turned to stone. Sometimes the patrol captures people trying to cross the border and melds them into the Wall halfway, leaving their limbs sticking out, wiggling to warn away others.”
Abby squeaked. Coyote chuckled lowly. “That won’t happen, little one. Your uncle Coyote will not fail you.”
“Where’s the exit point?” Uncle asked. He’d been silent up to now, which was odd for him. He usually tried to take charge wherever possible.
“A day’s ride from Villa del Punta. You know, for the very low cost of three months, I could drop you right in the center of the village. I have an aperture hidden away there. Not even Raúl can find it.”
Walker glared at him, and Coyote laughed. “I’m kidding. I thought you would appreciate the joke.”
“So . . . is this like a Zoom tunnel?” Hettie asked.
“It’s nothing like the Zooms,” Coyote said, irritated. “Zooms can’t go through the Wall. This is a spell I made all by myself. It’s the only way to get through the Wall around here, unless you’d rather go through one of the gates.” He eyed them speculatively. “Which I very much doubt. Only the most desperate of fugitives summon the Coyote.”
“Are you sure this is safe?” Hettie asked Uncle quietly. She glanced at Abby, who’d been watching the strange man as intently as a jackrabbit sensing a nearby predator.
“As safe as walking through solid matter is for anyone, I reckon.” Jeremiah scratched his nose. “Is this a drop and swim?”
“Ah, you’ve done this before.” Coyote peered at him, then blinked. “Do I know you?”
“Doubt it.” He looked away and kicked his toe in the dust. “Well, what’re we waiting for?”
“Hettie, stay close to Abby, but don’t hold hands.” Walker pushed them together. “You’re going to jump in after me—Abby first, then Hettie, the horses and Cymon, and then JB. Whatever you do, keep moving. It’ll feel strange at first, but don’t stop, or you might get stuck.”
Abby stared at the loop, her gaze blank. Hettie tapped her shoulder, and her sister blinked slowly up at her. “Like swimming,” she said dreamily.
A shiver skated down Hettie’s spine.


Author Bio:
Vicki So, writing as V. S. McGrath, is a published romance author (as Vicki Essex) and has six books with Harlequin Superromance: Her Son’s Hero (July 2011); Back to the Good Fortune Diner (January 2013), which was picked for the Smart Bitches Trashy Books Sizzling Book Club; In Her Corner (March 2014); A Recipe for Reunion (March 2015); Red Carpet Arrangement (January 2016); and Matinees with Miriam (November 2016). She lives in Toronto, Canada.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Blitz: Wings of Flesh


Wings of Flesh and Bones
Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: April 13th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
An Angel. A Witch. A Demon. And A Choice.
Creatures from outer realms suck, as any gatekeeper worth their salt will tell you. Welcome to Rogan’s life, an orphaned seventeen-year-old who lives and trains with other misfits under her uncle’s roof, keeping Earth safe from non-human realm jumpers. Rogan’s biggest issue concerns her uncle’s short leash with her freedom—that is of course, until she’s taken by a notorious witch, and her life begins to unravel. Soon, the supernatural beauty discovers there’s a reason her uncle kept such a tight lock on her whereabouts, and that she has more than angel blood running through her veins.
Eighteen-year-old Max is an angel, and Rogan’s mentor and guardian. He’s well aware of her tenacious inability to obey orders, though he also knows she’s a fierce fighter. When he’s involved in a scheme that ultimately gets Rogan kidnapped, he must battle his way back to her in an attempt to save her from the darkness threatening to possess her.
EXCERPT:
I’m breaking Castle’s rules. Do I care? Not really—not yet.
Rogan’s skin prickled as she snuck through the portal leading to the city, exhilarated to be patrolling on her own for once. She walked along the sidewalk on her way to Pink, a dance club for teenagers. Although, her choice in destination would not involve dancing or enjoying the hyperactive ambiance. No, she was primed and ready to release bottled-up steam threatening her peace of mind. Deviants would be mingling with humans, and she’d be there to put a stop to it.
Crisp autumn air stirred. Inhaling its musky scent, she noticed the lengthening shadows, and prayed to be home before she was missed. I’m seventeen, she thought with pride, a gatekeeper. At least, that was what she’d been training for.
Keeping her eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary, she tossed her braided hair over her shoulder, catching a few heads turning to look at her. You’d think they’d never seen a girl wearing leather and boots before.
A pungent odor pressed in on her, which stopped her in her tracks. Up ahead, blocking the sidewalk, was a giant of a man. The fortuitous encounter took her by surprise, sending her creepster vibes off the charts. With her legs rooted in a rigid stance, she flexed her fingers. As if the giant had been awaiting her arrival, he approached in a blur of motion, whipping his knuckled fist and clipping her on the chin.
Grimacing, her eyes watered as blood pooled over her tongue. She spat a mouthful onto the sidewalk and moved her throbbing jaw from side to side.
She recognized the Vorg towering over her, jutting his demon chin at a superior angle. To humans, he looked like an unnatural hulk of a man, but Rogan saw past his artificial veneer.
“Had enough, sweetmeat?” His sandpapery voice rubbed her the wrong way.
“Screw you.” Fast as a snap, she jerked her elbow, smashing him in the jaw.


Author Bio:
Cathrina Constantine is the Best Selling author of Don't Forget To Breathe. Her book won Readers' Favorite International Book Award for 2015. New Apple Medalist for 2016. Literary Classics Gold Award. Literary Classics Seal of Approval. Her Paranormal Fantasy, Wickedly They Come has been awarded the 5 Star Seal from Reader's Favorite. Tallas from her dystopian series received Literary Classics Silver Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Cathrina resides in Western New York. I am blessed with a loving family and forever friends. My world revolves around them.
I grew up in the small village of Lancaster, NY, where I married my sweetheart. I'm devoted to raising 5 cherished children, and now my grandchildren.
I love to immerse myself in great books of every kind of genre, which helps me to write purely for entertainment, and hopefully to inspire readers. When not stationed at my computer you can find me in the woods taking long walks with my dog.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cover reveal: Dethroned


Dethroned
Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
(An Inimical Prequel Novella)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: June 19th 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
For eighteen-year-old Rouen Rivoche, being a fairy princess isn’t about fancy parties and happily ever afters.
Rouen’s people are the dark Fae whose powers of lightning, thundersnow, and all things Winter make them cold, severe, and 100% intolerant of rebellion.
Too bad being a rebel is in Rouen’s blood.
Against tradition, she’s teamed up with Syl Skye, the sleeper-princess of the fair Fae—a mortal enemy who Rouen should want to kill but only wants to kiss. Plus, to be with Syl, Rouen’s masquerading as a glam goth-rock star and human high school student. Honestly, Rouen doesn’t think things could get any more complicated.
Then, she discovers she must become Queen of the Winter Court or all her people will die. No pressure.
Now, dark forces are amassing in the Winter Court, turning Rouen’s people against her and blocking her path to the throne. Even Syl with all her powers of white flame and Summer can’t stop this new kind of evil.
Because betrayal cuts close when it’s someone you love… and now it looks like Rouen’s going to be dethroned before she ever becomes queen.


Author Bio:
Raised by witches and dragons in the northern wilds, GIE writes angsty urban fantasy YA romance--where girls who are mortal enemies kick butt, take names, and fall in love against all odds.
She enjoys long hikes in the woods (where better to find the fair folk?), believing in fairies (in fact, she's clapping right now), dancing with dark elves (always wear your best shoes), being a self-rescuing princess (hello, black belt!), and writing diverse books about teenage girls finding love, romance, and their own inner power.
She might be planning high tea at the Fae Court right now.
GIE is multi-published, and in her role as an editor has helped hundreds of authors make their dream of being published a reality.
The Circuit Fae series
Derailed – A Moribund Prequel Novella
Moribund eSampler (FREE)
Moribund
Ouroboros
Dethroned
Inimical

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Book Blitz : Fading


Fading
Cindy Cipriano
(The Fading Series, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 10th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Leath Elliott is a seventeen-year-old competitive shooter living with her mother in Woodvine, North Carolina. Leath’s father was killed in a tragic accident when she was fourteen, and her friend Victor Santana has been there for her every step of the way since. But the friendship starts to change when Victor develops deeper feelings for her. If that wasn’t complicated enough, newcomer James Turner, an emancipated minor with a dark past, wanders into her sights. Leath is captivated by him and wonders if he might be the boy of her dreams—literally.
Fading is the first book in an exciting new fantasy romance series by award-winning author Cindy Cipriano.
GUEST POST BY CINDY CIPRIANO
Thanks for hosting me today. I’m thrilled to be here to talk about my new paranormal romance, Fading, and pass on some tips I’ve learned in my journey as an author. First, a little about Fading, which is the first book in The Fading Series.
Fading
Seventeen-year-old, Leath Elliott lives with her mother in the microscopic town of Woodvine, North Carolina. Leath’s father was killed in a tragic accident when she was fourteen, and her friend Victor Santana has been there for her every step of the way since. But the friendship starts to change when Victor develops deeper feelings for Leath. If that wasn’t complicated enough, newcomer James Turner, an emancipated minor with a dark past, wanders into her sights. Leath is captivated by him and wonders if he might be the boy of her dreams—literally.
Fading – Insider Info (or as much as I can tell you)
I often think of Fading as the VLJ story. As in Victor-Leath-James.
Being in love is wonderful, heartwarming, and can leave you breathless. But, sometimes, it is so confusing! If you have ever loved two people at the same time, you can relate to what Leath is going through in Fading. Although some readers have expressed their choice (Victor or James), many feel the way the same way Leath does; she loves them both.
As Leath soon learns, decisions of the heart are not always clear or easy to make. Thank goodness, she has best-friend, Anamae, to help her navigate the waters. On second thought, the word, “help,” might be a bit of a stretch
Feeling Extra? Readers are often surprised to learn that one of the settings in Fading is a real place. Judaculla Rock is a 2,000-3,000 year-old petroglyph located in western North Carolina. Several legends surround the origin of the rock as well as the images that are carved into its surface. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Judaculla Rock a few times and have really enjoyed incorporating this setting into Fading.
Which brings me to writing.
I’m often asked if I have any tips for new writers. The best suggestion I have is to join a critique group.
Now.
No, wait. Join one yesterday.
Learning how to give and receive thoughtful criticism will make your writing stronger. Writing is often an isolated endeavor. Being a part of a critique group helps foster a sense of community. It’s great having someone to turn to when you need to bounce ideas around. And, having a group discussion about your writing will help you see your story from a different perspective.
I’m also asked about the editing process. I’ll leave you with my best tip for editing.
Read your entire manuscript aloud. That really helps you notice mistakes and helps you smooth out the rough spots. If necessary, I suggest you record yourself as you read aloud the more difficult sections.
–Cindy Cipriano
–Please visit www.cindycipriano.com to learn more about Fading.


Author Bio:
Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.
Not really.
Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems as if they make 27. When Cindy isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.
Cindy's first novel, The Circle, Book One of The Sidhe won the 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Silver Award for Pre-Teen Fiction - Fantasy. Other titles in the series include The Choice, Book Two of The Sidhe (2015) and The Lost, Book Three of The Sidhe (2017). This seven-book series is published by Odyssey Books.
Miller's Island Mysteries #1 The Case of the Toxic River (2017) is the first in her eleven-book science mystery series (Vulpine Press). #2 The Case of the Catalyst will release in 2018.
Look for Fading, the first in her young adult series, in April 2018. (Clean Teen Publishing). Fading is the tale of first loves and the consequence of dreaming up Mr. Right.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Blitz: Mage Rising


Mage Rising
Alina Jacobs
(The Black Tower Series, #1)
Publication date: December 10th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Zsanette of the Wulfila clan has just had her world turned upside down. Her best friend, Misko, was kicked out of the clan, and her mother just told her she’s the Emperor’s daughter. After stealing away in the night, she travels to the capital city to rescue Misko. On the way she is captured to be trained as a Black Tower mage.
Teaming up with friends she meets on the way and a small dragon, Zsanette bounces from one mishap to another as she tries to control her unusual and destructive power of magyk.
As she deals with obnoxious fellow students and races to solve a dangerous mystery, Zsanette finds herself fighting to get past the defenses of the handsome and secretive Garrett Walton, the powerful leader of the mages who fascinates her as much as the enigmatic society of Black Tower mages does.
EXCERPT:
Garrett slowly raised a hand and gently took the dagger from her.
“It’s me. It’s just me,” he said.
“There was a…a daemon…and it…it tried to kill me… I…” she stammered, trying to explain.
“There’s no such thing as daemons,” he said soothingly, as you would to a child with a bad dream. “Everything is all right.”
“I know what I saw,” she snapped at him, angry at being condescended to.
He ignored her, putting out a hand and petting her hair, repeating, “Everything is all right.”
Zsanette brushed him off and climbed to her feet. Her legs ached, and she felt stiff. Her dragon hopped around, all four legs straight out, spitting acid that landed on the floor in smoking droplets. He had obviously seen the monster.
She tried again to explain. “It was a skeleton; I touched it. It had wings and claws.” She flexed her fingers to mimic the creature.
Garrett stood and stroked the side of her scratched face with the back of his hand letting his magyk heal her wounds. As he did so, he looked into her eyes, searching for something.


Author Bio:
Alina is an architect by day, writer by night. Her favorite thing to do is curl up with a hot drink and a good book. She lives in a large Southern city in an old house with an old dog.
Alina Jacobs is a pen name.



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Monday, April 2, 2018

Cover reveal : Jaclyn and the Beanstalk


Jaclyn and the Beanstalk
Mary Ting
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication date: September 4th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
What Fate Awaits A Girl Who Hears Monsters At Night…
Sixteen-year-old Jaclyn looks up to her father. An honest man who once fought for the king, he now teaches Jaclyn how to use her wits—and her sword.
But he has a secret. And his secret may have a connection to the one thing Jaclyn is hiding from him.
Upon hearing “monsters” are terrorizing the small villages around Black Mountain, Jaclyn’s father and his friends head out to hunt them … but they don’t return.
Armed only with her sword and three magic beans—a gift from a mysterious old woman—Jaclyn sets out for Black Mountain to save her father.
On her climb, one bean drops and grows into a beanstalk, catching her when she falls.
She isn’t the only one that takes the ride. Jack, her childhood friend and secret crush, is following her.
Together, Jaclyn and Jack must battle to save not only their fathers, but the townspeople the beasts plan to lay waste to before it’s too late.


Author Bio:
International Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Book Bliz: Nocturne


Nocturne
Heather McKenzie
(Nightmusic Trilogy, #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 20th 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult
I am hunted.
A pawn in a vicious game.
The only way I can protect the ones I love…
…is to disappear.

Finally free of her father, Kaya has the one thing that keeps her heart beating—Luke.
Blissfully content in his arms, everything seems perfect…until their world is shattered by a deadly invasion. When an old ally comes to the rescue, Kaya wants none of it. She is devastated to learn the identity of her attacker, and that she must do something truly heartbreaking if she wants to save the ones she loves. Sacrificing everything and sinking into bottomless sorrow, Kaya finds solace in an unlikely friend—one who shows her a different kind of love, and helps her discover an inner strength she never thought possible.
A heart-pounding journey of self-discovery, Nocturne is the transformative second installment of The Nightmusic Trilogy by Heather McKenzie.
Grab book 1 – Serenade – for FREE!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo
EXCERPT:
I flew out the door into the cool night, took four steps, then stopped—the latest enlightening news about my father had sent me over the edge. Tears burst from my eyes. The last shred of hope I’d been hanging onto that Henry wasn’t all bad had been completely obliterated; he was an actual monster.
I dropped to the curb and put my head in my hands. The rain started falling, lightly dusting my shoulders at first, then becoming a downpour just to add to my misery. I became soaked head to toe, but I didn’t care. I stayed where I was, wishing the rain would melt me into a puddle that would drain into the gutter and then just disappear into the earth…
“You left something in my truck,” said a voice from out of nowhere.
At the edge of my vision was Ben, rain coming down even harder now and pouring off his cowboy hat in rivers. He was holding out a paper bag, which was now soaked. It was the muffin I hadn’t eaten.
“I didn’t want it to go to waste,” he added, eyeing me with concern, then glancing at the café window where I could feel many sets of eyes on my back.
I dropped my gaze back to the gutter. My body didn’t want to move, and I still held out hope that the rain might just wash me away. Ben said something, and then he hauled me up and turned me to face him. He lifted my chin, and I had no choice but to meet his eyes. The rain plastered my hair to my face, mixing with the tears that were spilling out of me with blinding force.
He gave me a weak smile. “I tried to leave. Got in my truck and was ten minutes out of town, but then I realized…” He paused, fumbling for the right words. “I could really use some help at my ranch. Now, the job doesn’t pay much, but you’ll have your own room and all the food you can eat.
You’ll be dry.”
He waited patiently for an answer, but I was so grateful that all my words caught in my throat. He tossed the paper bag with the muffin into the garbage. After a quick glance at the internet café and the white-haired waiter watching from the doorway, his hand firmly latched onto mine. I had the sense I wasn’t being given a choice, I was going wherever this cowboy wanted me to.
“I’m taking you home now,” he said over the downpour.
Home. Home was in Luke’s arms….
The rain was falling in sheets. Since I wasn’t about to turn into a puddle and dissolve, I let the cowboy lead the way.


Author Bio:
Heather McKenzie is the Canadian author of The Nightmusic Trilogy. Also a professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she told stories through music for years before falling in love with novel writing. Heather pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. She is a rocker at heart, a mom of three and an aspiring painter.

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