Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Soft Alabaster ~ Celestial Mates #7 by @meganSlayer #outnow #Pnr #gay

Soft Alabaster by Megan Slayer 

Celestial Mates, book 7
Contemporary Paranormal LGBTQ Romance
M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
From Evernight Publishing
Art by Jay Aheer

One man out of time and another desperate to share his life with that perfect someone. Can their answers come from a broken curse?

Owen Reed loves his secondhand store, but he’d rather run it with a partner. He’s tired of being lonely and having one-night stands. He wants a love to last forever. When he ends up with a statue of a man in pain, he has no idea how special this statue could be. Is love possible with the pained figure?

Sydney Keeler knows he belongs anywhere but locked in alabaster. When he’s delivered to Owen’s store, the unexpected happens—he can feel Owen’s hands on him. He wants to break free and be with the man with the sparkling blue eyes. Can Owen break the curse? If so, will Owen accept a man who’s been cursed to exist in alabaster? Can they have the love they deserve?

One kiss will determine their fate.

Excerpt ©2020 Megan Slayer, All Rights Reserved

Sydney hated his pose. God, he’d been in the midst of begging for his life and for Arai’s life to be spared when Zeus cursed them. He hadn’t deserved to be reduced to stone. So, he’d been a terrible lover to Zeus and horrible at his job of guarding him. When he’d signed on to be a protector, he thought it was a joke. He hadn’t realized Zeus really wanted someone to play bodyguard for him. Sydney had been in love with the idea of living on Olympus and protecting a god. He never would’ve guessed Zeus truly demanded monogamy, even when he played around with everyone on the staff.
Good Lord. Who said things like, “I want you to come to Olympus and be my warrior”? No one that Sydney knew, yet he’d followed Zeus to a place that seemed like a dream and better than any fantasy.
Zeus hadn’t been joking.
Then again, Sydney hadn’t believed the silver fox was a true god. Were other gods roaming the earth? According to Zeus, the entire clan of Olympian deity lived there. Sydney hadn’t seen anyone besides Zeus, but he hadn’t been paying attention.
The adventure of living on Olympus was more than enough for him. He loved a good quest, especially if he could be himself. Zeus hadn’t minded he was gay. In fact, Zeus encouraged him to explore his sexuality. He spent his days guarding Zeus and his nights fucking him. All had been well until Sydney met Arai.
Arai had been everything Sydney ever wanted in a man—beautiful, masculine, sexy, and interested in him. He and Sydney guarded Zeus and stole off at night to make love. None of Zeus’s warnings had been enough to prevent him and Arai from getting together.
Sydney had been in love with Arai and felt confident about being out. He could love who he wanted and not be ashamed. He even embraced the idea he’d upset Zeus, but things would work out. They always did—until Zeus didn’t cooperate. He wanted Sydney to be his plaything and belong to no one else.
He winced, although no one could see the gesture. He still remembered the panic in Arai’s eyes when he’d been found guilty of being with Sydney and the pain of losing their relationship.
Now Sydney couldn’t tell anyone about his troubles or his curse. How could he if he couldn’t talk? At least he didn’t have that awful sheet over him and he wasn’t in the musty old house.
His brother, Max, hadn’t appreciated him and his younger brother, Stan, hadn’t wanted him. They had no idea he was locked in the alabaster. All they knew was a sculpture of someone resembling their brother had shown up in the parlor of the family home.
Voices caught his attention. He hadn’t liked when the woman caressed him, but he wanted the man to return. He could gaze at the fellow who seemed to run the shop where he was now housed. He’d been locked in the family parlor, moved to a barn, left in a garage, and then shipped to a house where Max left him in the back room. Now he lived in a “junk shop”—as the younger girl called the place.
The man with the sparkling eyes stood in front of Sydney. “Well, you’re all mine.” He folded his arms. “I’m not sure you’re worth anything, but I’m stuck with you.” His blue eyes flashed and the thin outcropping of hairs on his chin caught the light.  
Heat, like the rush of excitement he felt when he’d first seen Arai, washed over him. Who was this man and why did he seem to kick the temperature up so high?

Monday, April 27, 2020

99 Cent Sale for Good Bones by L. A. Kelley. Guaranteed Corona Free!

Guaranteed Cornona Free!

Good Bones is on sale now through May 8 for 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks. Read an excerpt and the first chapter below.

The first time Detective Jake Sumner spied the old house, he sensed the good bones. Little did he know the purchase of the property included an unusual tenant far from resting in peace. Can the new psychologist in town help him treat a ghostly trauma case or is his growing attraction to Katherine Fleming best left buried?  

With the aid of a mysterious white cat and a mystical mirror, Katherine and Jake join forces to solve a murder. Can they stop a killer from claiming the next victim or will their investigation only lead them six feet under?


“Yeah,” Jake murmured. “It’s not her thing.”
“I don’t understand,” said Katherine. “Where is she?” Without warning, the temperature plummeted. Katherine shivered, hugging her arms to her chest. “Why is it so cold?”
Jake’s lips pressed together in a thin, tight line. His gaze fixed on the mirror.
The lamp flicked on and off. Katherine’s pulse soared. “Detective?”
Jake glowered at the lamp, his face red with anger. He grabbed Katherine’s arm. “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have brought you here—”
The French doors slammed shut. From outside came a muted thud as the front door closed as well. Katherine shrugged off Jake’s grip. “W-what are you doing? This isn’t funny.”
“It’s not me.” He peered at the mirror. “I’m sorry, Dr. Fleming. This is a bad idea. We should go now.”
Don’t leave me.                          
“W-who said that?” Katherine turned around to face the mirror. Her eyes widened in horror as the black splotches slid toward the center of the glass. “Trick.” Katherine clutched at her shirt. “It must be a trick.”
The blotches whirled together. A misty shape formed. Arms…legs…now torso…now head…an image of a person appeared from inside the gilded frame. Facial features blurred beyond recognition, but the body was definitely female. Katherine’s legs refused to move, a scream died on her lips. Shaking, she raised a trembling arm. Instead of mimicking her movement, the reflection remained rooted in place. “T-that’s not me.”
A plaintive whisper filled the air. Help.
A blast of frigid wind whipped the curtains and knocked Katherine into Jake. With the sound of breaking glass, a vaporous arm separated from the mirror and reached toward her.
Help me…
“Out now!” Jake dragged Katherine across the room. He yanked open the parlor doors and shoved her into the foyer.
The unearthly plea followed Katherine out of the house.
Jake slammed the front door shut behind them. The muted cry faded away.

Good Bones
Chapter 1

     The irony of living on a dead-end street didn’t hit Katherine Fleming until days later. For the moment, only morning coffee called. She reached for the pantry door and her hand froze halfway. Didn’t she finish the last drop yesterday? Her eyes went to the shopping list on the refrigerator. The big red letters of BUY COFFEE mocked her. Running low on caffeine first thing in the morning usually resulted in a snarly growl or two, but not today. Today was Saturday—all hers. Forget the budget and celebrate. “Treat yourself at the coffee shop downtown.
     “Darn right, I will.”
     Katherine snatched her key, stuffed the shopping list and charge card in her pocket, and bounded down the stairs from the second floor to the lobby. She paused outside the entrance in the shallow recess with the intercom buttons for each apartment. Although the calendar technically said winter, her nose caught the faint scent of budding greenery. A smile played around her lips. The past few years of frigid Chicago cold suffered during graduate school were now only an unpleasant memory. Up north, folks still shivered. Spring was week away and always arrived with a burst of pastels, soft gentle tones to ease Earth back to life after winter dormancy.
     Not in north Florida. Floral fireworks of azaleas and crepe myrtles would explode open any day in neon shades of hot pink, coral, and brilliant crimson. Within a few weeks, the hibiscus at the corner would transform into a riot of sunny orange blossoms lasting through summer. Katherine heaved a contented sigh. She couldn’t wait.
     When Katherine arrived at the Sandy Shoals Counseling Center in mid-January, her boss, Dr. Jeremy Ingalls, teased about her eagerness for warm weather.
     “Wait until July,” he warned with a grin. “I was born here. The short walk across the parking lot will leave you drenched in sweat and misty-eyed for six-foot snow drifts. The air is so humid it’s like breathing through a hot, wet sponge.”
     Diana Weller, the office manager, shook a playful finger at him. “Don’t scare her away on the first day. You’re trying to grow the center, remember? Besides, you returned from New York to practice here, so how bad can it be?”
     “Bad.” Jeremy winked. “Why do you think I escaped for fifteen years?”
     Katherine gave a mental shrug. Who cares what the summer will bring? Today, cotton ball clouds dotted brilliant blue skies while a gentle breeze wafted through bare tree branches speckled with tiny lime green buds. Spring beckoned.
She turned the corner and ambled toward the shopping district. Finding the apartment had been pure luck. It was a perfect location. Close enough to the city center for walking, far enough down the street to muffle all the traffic noise, and, most importantly, within her limited budget.
    Strolling along the sidewalk, memories of weekend walks with her grandfather returned. Katherine’s mind began the familiar back and forth as echoes of his gentle prodding rang in her head.
     Play the game with me, Kathy.
     I’m going for coffee.
     Aw c’mon, kiddo, humor Grampa. You know you can’t resist.
    Her lips twitched in an unconscious smile. He was right. She never could. Okay, but just once.
     Atta girl. Who do you see?
   Katherine peered down the street. A man in his mid-twenties lounged against the bus stop sign on the corner. A young woman speaking on her cell phone strolled up and stopped next to him. She wore a snug low-cut t-shirt. The tattoo of a dolphin peeked out above her left breast. A gold dolphin pendent hung low around her neck, drawing anyone’s eye to her ample cleavage, including the man. His gaze flicked to her. His stance straightened as he squared his shoulders. The woman ended the call and dropped the phone in her purse. She glanced at him. Her gaze met his for an instant and then she turned away, but her head inclined slightly in his direction. She tugged at the hem of her shirt, flattening the material over her breasts. Her posture eased, a hip jutted out as she angled her body toward him.
     Grampa’s mental voice nudged gently. Well?
     The placement of the dolphin tattoo draws immediate attention to her breasts. Her dress and body language suggest inflated value placed on physical attributes which can mask deeply rooted feelings of intellectual inferiority. The man will make his intentions known before he gets off the bus. He’s not looking for deep commitment, but she’ll accept. I predict a short passionate relationship followed by an equally passionate breakup. She’ll blame him for the reason it ended badly. In truth, she’s blinded by appearances and isn’t mature enough to see past them at this point.
     A bus arrived at the stop. The man stepped aside for the woman to enter first. She smiled at him and casually flipped back her hair. He followed and took the seat next to her.
     Not bad, kiddo.
     “Thanks, Grampa,” Katherine murmured, brushing aside a tinge of melancholy. Although he had passed away several years ago, his absence was still deeply felt. The imaginary talks in her head proved only a pale substitute.
Katherine strolled past the bus, fighting the temptation to jump onboard and offer the woman her card. The well-meant gesture was sure to prove pointless. People wouldn’t accept counseling help unless they first recognized a problem. She wasn’t there yet.
     Pity. Katherine stifled a sigh. Another client would be nice. Diana booked her calendar with anyone who called for an appointment and didn’t specifically request Jeremy, but Katherine was a new counselor. It took time to build a reputation and get those important referrals. The inheritance from her grandfather had funded her education, but she had plenty of open slots, and regular living expenses now. Fortunately, enough money remained in the budget for the occasional indulgence.
     The Saturday morning crowd had thinned by the time Katherine entered the coffee shop. She paused at the door and recognized a familiar face at the pick-up counter. April Ortiz waited for her order behind a man in a gray t-shirt. She was one of Katherine’s first clients, but she hesitated to approach. April had made excellent progress, but canceled her last appointment two weeks ago and hadn’t rescheduled yet. A patient might find it awkward to run into her counselor in a social setting.
     April looked from the counter and spotted Katherine at the door. Instead of dismay, she brightened and motioned her over with an excited wave of the hand.
     “I did it,” April blurted even before Katherine said hello.
     Katherine’s eyes widened. “I thought you weren’t going until next month.”
     “I meant to call and tell you, but I’ve been so busy. He phoned two weeks ago after an unexpected opening and I said to myself I’m ready to do this. Can you believe it?” April gave an excited hop on her toes. “I’ll buy you a mocha latte to celebrate. With whip and extra sprinkles.”
     “Thanks, but that’s not necessary—”
     April leaned around the man and called over the counter to the server. “Add another mocha latte to the order, please. Both to go.”
   Katherine bit back a smile. The experience certainly hadn’t changed April’s take charge attitude. No wonder she had sought help. “I’m so proud of you. I know how hard it was to let another person assume control.”
     “I didn’t expect him to be so gentle and finish so quickly,” April crowed, “especially with my history. We were done before I knew it.” She beamed at Katherine. “You wouldn’t believe the total satisfaction when he touched me deep inside and I didn’t flinch.”
     The shoulders of the man in the gray t-shirt stiffened. His head which had faced front toward the counter angled slightly in their direction.
     “Nervousness is expected,” said Katherine, “after such a long time and considering he was a stranger.”
     “No kidding, but I never felt anything more than a few butterflies. I kept reminding myself I had your recommendation and you’d only send me to a caring man who was a real pro and had a lot of experience. Still, I can’t say it wasn’t awkward. He was so nice though, and helped me feel comfortable. Before I knew it, I was flat on my back and staring at the ceiling.”
     “So, spill it,” said Katherine. “I’m dying to hear the details.”
     “He asked me to open. I did. No hesitation. No screaming. Then he slipped in a finger. At least, that’s what he said, but I didn’t feel a thing. To be honest, by that time I had my eyes closed.”
     The man in the t-shirt shuffled on his feet, edging a fraction closer.
     “Number 27 order up!” The man startled at the barista’s call. He snagged a cup of coffee and a plate with a bagel and cream cheese, but instead of taking a seat he lingered at the counter fiddling with the napkin dispenser.
    “He began with only the slightest bit of pressure,” continued April, “but something inside me definitely moved. I kept thinking, ‘This is so weird. I can’t tell if he has his whole hand in there or just poking round with his long pointy doo-dad.’”
     The man’s hand jerked and pulled out a fist-load of napkins.
     “Was there any pain? asked Katherine.
   April snorted. “With all the drugs he slipped me? I was flying high. I was sore for a few days afterward, but he gave me a bunch of painkillers. I tell you, the whole experience was amazing.” She sighed. “He was awesome. Is it weird to have a crush on your dentist?”
     The man’s lips twitched in a smile. He tossed the napkins on top of the bagel.
     “Yes,” said Katherine with a straight face. “Particularly since he’s four inches shorter than you, gay, and nearly old enough to be your grandfather.”
     April grinned and jabbed her in the shoulder. “What do you mean, yes? You’re a psychologist. You’re not supposed to tell anyone they’re weird. I knew a gal my age was too young to have a real degree. Where’d you get it? Off the internet?”
     “Yup, got a two-for-one special. I’m also High Priestess in the Awesomely Enlightened Temple of Awesomeness. Besides, I didn’t say you were weird, but it’s definitely unexpected to have warm-and-fuzzy vibes for a dentist coming from a person with a dental phobia a few short weeks ago. Not to mention, working up the courage to have an impacted wisdom tooth pulled. It proves how far you’ve come.”
     April hugged her. “I couldn’t have done it without you, Doctor Fleming. You’re one helluva psychologist.
     Katherine flushed with pride at the heartfelt praise. There was no better feeling than helping a person in need. Call me Katherine. You walked the walk. I only showed you the path.”
     April’s phone chimed with an incoming text. She glanced at the display. “It’s from Parker at the station.” April worked at GAB-TV, a local cable access channel. “Aw, crap, a guest canceled. I need a last-minute replacement pronto for Chit Chat with Parker Pratt. We tape today for tomorrow morning’s broadcast.” She grimaced. “God, I hate that title.”
     “Have you suggested he change it?”
   “I can’t, Parker owns the station and his wife, Connie, is the business manager. I’m only a glorified go-fer. Also, they’re both sweethearts and Parker is an institution. He knows everybody and all the gossip in this town. He used to have his own talk radio show before they bought the cable station. Parker still does a daily podcast, too; mostly local news and community service plugs. Man, finding a new and interesting guest Parker hasn’t already interviewed is a pain. Viewers are getting sick of the Goat Lady gushing over her artisanal cheeses.”
     Katherine chuckled. “Come back for more counseling. I’ll help you work up the courage to quit.”
     April regarded her with shocked disbelief. “And leave show biz?” She drew in a sharp breath. “I have a brainstorm. God, I’m a genius. Are you free this afternoon?”
     Katherine’s eyes narrowed. “Why?”
     “To do a guest spot. You’ll be perfect.”
  “Sure—the interview only lasts half an hour. Talk about counseling. You’ll follow Miss Harmony, the pet psychic. Parker tapes after her call-in show.”
     “Pet psychic?”
  April clasped her hands together in prayer. “Please, please, pleeeese. Imagine all the good you can do. A sufferer with that thing…what’s the thing you mentioned once?” Her brows knitted together. “You remember, that thing where a person is too afraid to leave the house.”
    “Yeah, talk about that. A poor tortured soul may finally work up the courage to get help all because Dr. Katherine Fleming happened to appear on Parker’s show. Keep in mind,” she added out of the side of her mouth, “this all comes with a boatload of free advertising.”
     Katherine regarded her askance. “You’re good.”
    “I gotta be. This is a local cable access program airing at seven on Sunday mornings; interesting guests are hard to book. At that time of day, our entire viewer demographic is nut jobs, shut-ins, and people in tinfoil helmets afraid to surf the web because the government will infiltrate their minds—right up your alley.”
     Katherine chuckled. “You win, April. I’ll do it. It sounds fun.”
     “Bless you,” she gushed.
     “Number 28 order up!”
   The man in the t-shirt moved away from the counter, and they grabbed their coffees. “Thanks for the latte,” said Katherine.
   “No problem. The studio is on 12th Street. You can’t miss it. Be there at 3:30. I’ll give you a tour and run you through the procedure. We tape the spot at 4:00. See you then, Katherine.”
  April dashed to the door while Katherine lingered to put the appointment on her phone calendar. She headed to the exit with her mocha latte and spotted the man in the t-shirt at a seat near the front window. Katherine leaned over and whispered in his ear, “You have a very dirty mind.” She scampered out the door, but not before noticing the flash of a dimpled grin in her direction.
   Jake Sumner froze at the woman’s whisper. He swallowed a mouthful of coffee and turned around with a grin, but she was gone before the thought occurred to apologize for eavesdropping. Pity, Dr. Katherine Fleming certainly was cute. He could have asked her to join him…Jake shook his head.
     Forget it, buddy. You’re about to get rid of one shrink. You sure as hell don’t need another probing parts of your life that need to stay buried.
     He craned his neck, catching the last sight of her as she rounded the corner. Not a bad view from the rear angle either. Despite the mental words of warning, his interest had definitely been piqued.
     Chit Chat with Parker Pratt, eh? Maybe I’ll catch the show.

End Chapter One

L. A. Kelley writes science fiction and fantasy adventures with humor, romance and a touch of sass. All her books are certified corona free.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

So Many Shows and Nowhere to Go by Nancy Gideon

I confess, I was a binger before it was cool . . . before it was a mental health necessity! Ever since Wiseguy debuted in 1987 and NYPD Blue followed in 1993, I’ve been addicted to episodic series television, those shows that carry a plotline out for more than just one installment (sometimes seasons!). Too me, it was like a huge engrossing book played out week by week – with eye candy! The additional weeks in which to develop character and individual plotlines deepened the involvement into that “Just one more chapter . . .” obsession. Soooo, when television began releasing the entire seasons (or series) in one big buffet dinner, I couldn’t resist working my way down the line until too full to hold another bite (or hold my eyes open!).

Retiring at the end of 2019 was my warm up to Shelter in Place. Before then, I’d have to binge on weekends. So, with that entire DAY stretching out before me (after writing time, of course), I’d chew through a series like a bag of BBQ chips (often WITH a bag of BBQ chips!).Here’s some of what’s been on the menu . . .

Now, with my WIP out for Beta reads and snow STILL falling to keep me inside, I’ve become a bit of a maniac, especially with the ability to watch on my 29” Dell All-in-One in my office away from the other two floors of the house. I’m proud (or a bit embarrassed) to say in less than half a week I’ve gone through the first two seasons of The Man in the High Castle and Season 6 of Bosch! I should slow down because . . . now what? What’s next?

Thankful, good ole TV Guide put out their Best 35 TV Shows You Can Binge Watch from Beginning to End! Some of these I’ve already checked off, i.e. Battlestar Galactica during the week after my first knee replacement (though I think some of what I remember might be from the good drugs!) and Luther with Idris Elba in two weeks. I can’t eat just one! The list includes my recommended favs Broadchurch with David Tennant and the marvelous Olivia Coleman who is also in The Crown, Justified and Deadwood with the always drool-worthy Tim Olyphant, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and Sherlock. Browse the list. I’m sure you’ll find something to make those empty hours disappear.

I’d add Stranger Things, Dexter, A Handmaid’s Tale and Supernatural (my son wanted me to add Psych and X-Files, if you can find them).

Now that my public service announcement is completed, I’m off to the basement to watch Rome on DVD. Where are the chips?

How ‘bout you? What guilty pleasures have you been enjoying?

Nancy Gideon on the Web

Monday, April 20, 2020

Which Alpha Will End Up On Top?

I have to say that writing two alphas bringing together their feuding packs with a marriage/mating of convenience was...a lot of fricking fun! The competition, the chemistry, the conflict. Seriously. A lot of fun. I hope you'll have as much fun with my latest release, Shift Out of Luck. Here's a sneak peek!


Brimstone Inc. #2

The Montagues and Capulets have nothing on the Canis and Banes wolf packs. The two have been feuding for ages. The brutal murder of the Banes’ alpha only added fuel to the fire. And now there’s only one way to bring peace—the current alphas of each pack, Marrok and Tala, need a mating of convenience.

Tala has her doubts. A thousand of them.

Never mind that Marrok drives her body to levels of desire her vibrator has trouble keeping up with. If she can’t get her inner wolf—or her people—on board, forget peace, because she’ll lose the tenuous control she has over the Canis pack. Her new mate is just so damn alpha. He’d better learn to play nice or Tala will have to show him who’s boss.

But Marrok has plans of his own, and nothing and no one, not even Tala herself, can resist an alpha…



“Wait!” Marrok called.
 She stopped mid-stride and spun to face her mate, who pointed. Following his direction, she discovered a mountain lion shifter slinking out of woods into the clearing where she stood, not fifty feet from her.
What the hell?
No way had the cat shifter, notorious loners, not smelled or seen the evidence that it had wandered into pack territory.
Dammit. Just one break.
Why the hell was this so damn hard at every single turn? Another predator shifter in their territory wouldn’t help things with the members of their packs at all. This land was protected…by the alphas.
It swung its head, feral eyes glaring directly at her. Before she could yell out, silence settled over the area like someone hit a mute button, muffling any noise. Not a creature dared move or even breathe.
Anger seared her insides. Whatever this shifter had done to one of her people, he’d answer to Tala. Now.
She sprinted across the clearing, her wolf pushing her to superhuman speeds.
The mountain lion crouched, ready to pounce and waited for her to come closer. Tala hesitated only a fraction at the fact that he didn’t run—normally cougars didn’t take on more than one wolf, especially not two alphas, because the odds were against them and they were smart. But not this shifter.
Tail whipping behind him, he prepared to fight. Only she had no intention of fighting that way.
Still running, Tala pulled one of the sticks out of her hair. From one of the many secret compartments on her vest, she produced a tiny blow dart and slipped it in the end of her weapon.
“Tala, no!”
Although she hadn’t heard him behind or beside her, Marrok suddenly jumped between her and the cougar. She didn’t stop fast enough and slammed into his outstretched hand. Her momentum flipped her sideways, and her face connected with the trunk of a tree with a sickening crack, the wood splintering under the impact. Nausea flooded her gut and crept up her throat as stars danced in her vision, competing with a blackness determined to consumer her.
She dropped to the ground, shut her eyes and sucked in a long slow breath, fighting the wave of unconsciousness. Finally, her head stopped buzzing. Forcing her eyes to open, she found Marrok kneeling over her, his face creased in concern.
“The cougar?” she asked, her head clearing quickly. Accelerated healing was one of the best bonuses of being a wolf shifter. She levered up and got her feet under her.
“He ran off.”
“Dammit, Marrok. Why didn’t you stop him?” Her wolf growled inside her head.
“I decided my mate, who I slammed against a tree, was too important.” Real concern filled the words, but she was too focused on his actions.
She leveled a glare on him that would’ve had anyone in her own pack running for cover. “Speaking of which, why the hell did you get in my way?”
She could’ve leveled the cougar with one dart. The poison wouldn’t kill a shifter but knock him out for hours. That’s all they needed. Her wolf snarled and pushed against Tala’s control, furious they’d been thwarted.
“My mate, still in human form, was going up against an already shifted mountain lion.”
She shoved him in the chest, and irritation rose more as he didn’t budge. “Your alpha mate.”
An itching sensation in her eyes told her they’d changed as her wolf pushed harder. The metallic taste of blood dripped on her tongue as her canine teeth elongated in her mouth, and pricked lips shut tight around a multitude of expletives she held back. Pissed didn’t begin to cover it.
Marrok scowled, but before he could comment, she stalked off into the woods. It was either that or snap his neck.
Her mate followed in silence. Smart man. For once.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Five YA Series to Keep You Company in Quarantine

Am I the only one who has lost count of days during shelter-at-home? If you're like me, you have a zillion books in your TBR (to be read) pile, but there's something extra fun about picking up your favorite books and rereading them. Below, you'll find five of my favorite young adult series.

1. Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures by [Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl]

If there was ever a series that captured my heart, it was this one. These two lovely writers tell the story of a magical girl and her nonmagical love. There are so many things for them to overcome and experience in their small southern town. If there was ever a movie that spoiled a book, it was by far this one, but for fun, you can always watch it after you've read your way through this series.

2. Princesses of the Midnight Ball series by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball (Twelve Dancing Princesses Book 1) by [Jessica Day George]

I'm a huge fan of Jessica Day George. I love her writing style and the stories she chooses to tell. This series is perfect for those of us who love retelling and princesses. She manages to tell the stories we've all heard before in such a fun, new way. Who knew yarn was so useful? This series is perfect for just about everyone.

3. The Lost Heroes series by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1) by [Rick Riordan]

You've heard of Percy Jackson, but did you know that his story continues in The Lost Hero? I loved this series! There are so many new friends to meet, and new problems to solve (thanks a lot, Hera). If you like Greek Mythology-based stories or hilarious prose, this series is a must-read.

4. Wings series by Aprilynn Pike

Wings by [Aprilynne Pike]

If you like relatively nice fairies, this series is for you. It's your classic fairy baby gets raised by human parents, and now has to go back to learn the ways of the Fae. Aprilynn does a fabulous job of keeping things whimsical and interesting without making the protagonist so Fae-like that you feel disconnected from the story. This series is a lovely way to spend your safer-at-home time.

5. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass series Book 1) by [Sarah J. Maas]
The main character in this series is an assassin. She's clever, determined, and lethal. This series can be pretty intense at times, so it might not be the best read for younger readers. That being said, if you like powerful women protagonists, this will be right down your alley. This is one of those series that's hard to put down, so prepare for some late nights reading.

Have you read any of these series before? What did you think? Did I name a favorite of yours? Or do you have a series to recommend to us? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Either way, I hope you're all fairing well at home (or work if you're an essential employee). Until next time, happy reading!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

When You Wake Up in a Story

By Maureen Bonatch 

I love to read. Some of my favorite genres are fantasy, paranormal and horror. One of my all-time favorite books is The Stand, by Stephen King. In fact, it’s one of the only books I’ve ever read twice—although that’s because he released a version with additional scenes years after the initial release. 

Otherwise, my TBR list is usually far too long to have time to reread books, despite how much I might want to return to visit those characters. Usually I hope for a series if I want to get to know the characters better.

Not My Story

Lately I’ve felt a bit like I’ve woken up in one of the books that I love to read or write. Unfortunately, this ‘world’ isn’t one with magic like Harry Potter or even the Kim Harrison’s series. It feels a lot more like The Stand—a world with a weaponized strand of influenza—although so far I haven’t noticed any of the supernatural elements.

One of the reasons I, and probably many people, like to read stories that are different from our ordinary world is that we get to experience them without having to experience them in our reality. Because we get to be a different person. Maybe one who has a different personality, is a little bit more resilient, or braver than our everyday persona. Thus, as much as I enjoy the stories, I don’t want to live them in my reality.

Dealing with Change

I expect that this unexpected veer from our normal everyday will most likely leave many of us, and the world, changed. I’m hoping that some of the changes will be for the better in the long run such as appreciating time with family and friends, and the value of everyday items and experiences that we’ve come to take for granted. 

Until that time, many of us are often feeling stress, or anxiety, about uncertainties and unknown changes we may have to adapt to. Much of this is out of our control, but how we react to the situations is within our control and that often starts with self-care and nurturing our anxiety . One of my stress relievers is, of course, reading.

Tips for reducing stress, and gaining accurate COVID-19 information:

I’m proud to be a part of the NextStep team. Take advantage of our course COVID-Ready Caregiver Certification designed to for caregivers- but also helpful to family and friends who want to learn how to keep themselves, and those they care for safe. The course free for a limited time- check it out here. (P.S. The course also includes some great tips on relieving anxiety and stress with mindfulness)

Here are a few articles I’ve written on dealing with stress:

 Until next time- try to stay physically and mentally healthy. 

What 'book world' would you like to wake up in?

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Coping In These Unusual Times by Diane Burton

Is anyone as mixed up as I am about days of the week? Hubs put out the trash a day early, and I'm almost a day late on this post. (I did remember to post for Insecure Writers Support Group today.)

I pray everyone is staying safe. Being at home for a month is a challenge, as I'm sure you know, especially if you have children. Working at home is nothing new for a writer. We joke about coming out of our cave after a lengthy writing session. Now, to protect ourselves and others, we hunker down in our cave. Thank goodness for social media that helps us connect with others. 

Darn Facebook.

As you can tell, I'm conflicted about Facebook. It keeps us in touch with family and friends. We get memes that make us laugh and lighten the tension. Then someone passes along false info. I'm careful to make sure I only share from reputable sites. I take the saying "consider the source" very carefully.

But FaceBook, like most social media, is a time suck. I tell myself I'll only check my profile page for a few minutes. An hour later . . . Well, I have to respond, don't I? Even if only an emoji. Then, I get upset when people turn it into politics. Please, not now. When this pandemic is over and we're all healthy again, that's when we can say what should have been done. Hindsight is 20/20. Still, we'll need to decide how we should proceed as a nation when something like this happens again.

What can we do? My colleagues here on Paranormal Romantics have given you so many great ideas:  Abigail Owens suggested what to do while we self-quarantine, Nancy Gideon told us how she's dealing with the anxiety we're all feeling, L.A. Kelley shared links to scientific discovery, Megan Slayer gave us something new to read,  Lea Kirk helped us laugh, and Elizabeth Alsobrook showed us how to make face masks. 

I can't do better. I'm having a hard time sticking with my writing. My mind is all over the place. As I said in my Insecure Writer's post, I haven't felt like this since 9/11. It's a national tragedy. We're inundated all day with news shows whose experts tell us what's happening around the country and what we can do.

Anxiety ramps up with each announcement from the reporters, from the White House, from the experts. I try not to watch too many news programs. Call me an ostrich as I hide my head in the sand or binge-watch movies or TV shows to escape. 

My heart goes out to those who've lost loved ones, who fear that they or their family will contract COVID-19, who've lost their jobs and worry how they will pay their bills. Amid all this anxiety, I thank the superheroes: the doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and first responders. Let's not forget the grocery and drug store workers, those who work in restaurants where you can pick up a meal, and the truckers who bring much needed supplies. You all are the heroes of this war.

Stay safe. Stay at home unless you have an essential job. Please follow the guidelines to keep yourself and others safe. Who would've thought that handwashing and social distancing could defeat the unseen enemy?

We're in this for a long time. But, we're in this together. We can win the war.