Series Spotlight: Rebels of Adalonia

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Have you been reading Angela Highland’s Rebels of Adalonia series? If not, now is the perfect time to start! We have 5 reasons readers are sure you’ll love this series below and well as more information on the 3rd book, Victory of the Hawk!

5 Reasons to read the Rebels of Adalonia series

When I finished this book I wanted to read the next one right away!” –Amazon review, Valor of the Healer

Very good read, kept my attention from the first scene.” –Amazon review, Valor of the Healer

The fast plot keeps readers on their toes with suspense, drama, action, magic and romance.” –Barnes and Noble review, Vengeance of the Hunter

This book was full of wonderful world building. The plot moved forward at just the right pace.“– Goodread review, Vengeance of the Hunter

If you want a tale filled with action and adventure and enjoy a fair sprinkling of magic then this trilogy could well be right for you.“–Goodreads review, Vengeance of the Hunter

New, from the Rebels of Adalonia!

23595412Victory of the Hawk

As war rages across Adalonia, their only hope is a sword named Moonshadow, the weapon that first saved the elves from the Anreulag.

Julian

Julian yearns to confess his love to Faanshi, the elven healer who captivated him since their first chance encounter. Though he fears she and Kestar share a deep connection, he must thrust such worry aside as danger descends upon them and their uneasy elven allies…

Faanshi

Faanshi’s connection to Kestar is inexplicable, born of her magic and their shared elven blood. She knows his every thought and desire, but her heart lies with Julian. She’ll have to find a way to tell him soon, even in the midst of rebellion…

Kestar

Though he knows not why—only that it involves his own recently discovered elven heritage—Kestar has risked the lives of everyone around him. For the Anreulag, the Voice of the Gods, has been freed of Her magical prison and will kill all in Her path until he is found.

Get your copy at CarinaPress.com or at these online retailers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

Check out the rest of the series:

About Valor of the Healer:

{8A7D24DB-D680-4CF6-971D-923BFE0A7978}Img100The Rook

An assassin hired by vengeful elven rebels to kill the calculating Duke of Shalridan, Julian walks into a trap and barely escapes with his life. Healed by a beautiful captive in the dungeons, he’s enthralled and vows to free her from the duke’s clutches.

The Hawk

A Knight of the Hawk duty-bound to cleanse elven magic from Adalonia, Kestar has a secret–and heretical–ability to sense the use of magic from afar. He knows something suspicious is happening in the duke’s keep, but he has no idea how deep the conspiracy goes.

The Dove

A half-elven healer with no control over her magic, Faanshi is the goddess’s to command. She’s always been a pawn of the powerful, but after healing two mysterious and very different men, she faces a choice that may decide the fate of the whole kingdom…

About Vengeance of the Hunter:

{6D0DA440-CD03-4435-97CA-F8113A584EFD}Img100The Knight

After nearly being destroyed by a conspiracy within his Order, Kestar faces a crisis. The Knights of the Hawk have always stood against elven magic, but how can he proceed after discovering his own elven heritage? How will his Order react when they discover the truth?

The Healer

Free of the shackles of the Duke of Shalridan, Faanshi sets out to pursue her destiny with the elves–and finds herself at the head of an open rebellion. But her goddess isn’t done with her yet, and controlling her magic turns into the fight of her life. One she cannot win without both Kestar and Julian by her side.

The Hunter

Rattled to his core after Faanshi healed his eye and hand, and haunted by guilt and a growing love for the elven healer, Julian flees. As he seeks retribution against shadows of his past, convinced of his own unworthiness, he’ll need all of Faanshi’s faith to turn him from the path of vengeance to help save Kestar, and the whole of Adalonia.

Turning Pointe Chapter 4

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Chapter Four

Aly

I stretch in my flats, bouncing on the balls of my feet in the hallway. Every inch of my body screams from the tension and stiffness acquired during the long flight. My stomach growls, the only noise in the hallway, until I turn and knock on Zed’s door again. The hotel hallway doesn’t smell pleasant and my room smells like smoke, despite it theoretically being a non-smoking room. If he’s not ready, I’m not spending another moment here. I’ll walk to the studio by myself, if I have to.

Adrian pulls open the door and gives me an easy smile. “He’s doing his hair for you.”

“Oh, God,” I mutter and then yell over Adrian’s shoulder, “Zedekiah! I don’t care what your hair looks like!”

“Now I know you’re lying,” Adrian stage-whispers and I grin despite my anxiety about getting to the studio on time.

“What? Oh, for fuck’s sake, McKinley,” Zed yells back from somewhere inside the room. “Aly, give me a hot second.”

“What about a cold second?” I say, but I’m not sure if he hears me until he appears, breathless next to Adrian in the doorway, and shakes his head.

“God, that was almost a joke. Look at you trying to keep up with me, the master of puns,” he teases, then leans forward, pressing a kiss to my forehead. Adrian smirks at my blush, and I shoot him a warning look. Zed, oblivious, bends down to tie his shoes, his ballet bag slung over his shoulder. “Adrian, you’re sure you’re not coming?”

“It’s not even an official class. You two are just nuts,” he points out, like he’s not surprised that we’re dashing off to steal a few minutes of dance from the day before the company dinner. “I’m taking a nap.”

“Your body adjusts to travel better when you don’t take naps upon arrival in a new time zone,” I remind him. “It’s like staying hydrated on a plane.”

Zed laughs and takes my hand, lacing our fingers together. “He knows, Kitten. Come on. We only have an hour and you’re going to take forever to warm up.”

Sometimes I wait for the alarm registering in my body, something that’ll tell me that Zed knows me too well. I keep searching for the bells that will bring up the gates. But around Zed, I throw caution to the wind. I’ve danced Giselle more than once. I should know the fate of girls who fall for the charming prince. I’ve waited seven years to feel distrust and it’s never happened.

Outside, the setting sun lights up the crystals of snow clinging to the tree limbs overlooking canals. Our shoes soak straight through, and I wish I’d thought to bring something more waterproof. It’ll be hell to warm up tired, aching feet that are also soaked in freezing water. Dozens of people had turned the frozen canals into long, narrow ice rinks. For a brief moment, I want to join the skaters in their colorful, wild, improvised dance on ice.

Then I remember that this is my first tour for the company and I’m supposed to be the American prodigy. Prodigies don’t get injured doing something stupid. Prodigies put their careers ahead of everything else, including recreation, school, and romance.

Bikes swerve through traffic, traveling faster than they do at home in Philadelphia, and the mopeds make me jump more than twice. Zed stops on our walk to take a dozen photos of different old buildings and to read off the Lonely Planet app on his phone. In the edge of the last warm light along our walk, he stops to pull me against his side and take a photo.

“Aly,” he says, studying the screen. “You could stand to look a little happy.”

“I look happy!” I protest. But I don’t look happy. I look tired and really cold. I roll my eyes. “Fine, take another.”

He takes two more, goofing off in the second one, just to make me laugh. He stares at the second for a moment and then passes me the phone. His oversized aviator sunglasses and his scarf frame his strong jaw, his dark hair a shock over his light skin, and he’s pressing a kiss to my temple. My hair’s so light it gets lost in the sunlight, but it’s my expression I can’t stop staring at. My face is scrunched up as I’m laughing, but my smile is genuine, broad.

I touch his side with two light fingers. “Send that to me when we get home?”

“Yeah,” he says, his voice a little hoarse. He sounds like he does after a big performance. “Of course. I think the studio’s this way.”

The Dutch National Ballet is one of the best in the world, and they’re gorgeous to watch. They’ve loaned us rehearsal space for our week as guest artists, but it’s hard not to just stand at the windows and doorways of their classes and watch them. In return, their students crowd the doorway when Zed and I begin to stretch next to the mirrors.

Zed looks over my head and hides a smile behind his arm. “They’re all here to see the famous Alyona Miller.”

I curtsy dramatically. “I am rather famous, you know.”

“You got like six hundred likes on your plane selfie. I don’t even know how that’s possible,” he says, studying his reflection in the mirror as he arches his feet and lays his torso flat on the floor. “And your humility. It blows me away.”

“Oh, shut up and stretch,” I tell him, nudging him with my foot. I just catch his smile as he ducks his head so I relax and smile too. I like when we’re like a ballet, full of twists and turns but always reaching for each other.

We don’t have much time, so we breeze through our barre work. I lift my chin and check my lines in the mirror, meeting his eyes. He looks calm and confident, his white shirt stretched across his strong chest, his ripped abdomen pressing against the material with every breath, his feet turned out slightly even at ease.

“Remember when we got our first pas de deux?” Zed’s hand returns to the barre and he counts off exercises silently, his lips moving just enough for me to follow his lead. All these years, I’ve been following, and he’s never noticed.

“Ugh. Yes. And you were mad about it! You were dating Dana.” I snap a little bit, on purpose, just to see him smile. We turn, Zed following me now. I step into an arabesque and he grabs my foot, lifting it a little higher. My hips ache. “She was absurd. So clingy. Where’s she dancing now?”

“Jealousy’s unbecoming,” he says, not taking my bait, and then lets go of my foot. “And you know there’s no competition. I wasn’t mad. I just didn’t know who I was more afraid of—you or Dana.”

I stick out my tongue. “Always me.”

His hand catches mine, and out of pure instinct, I let him quickly turn me twice away from the barre. “I’m not scared of you, Alyona.”

I think he should be, but selfishly, I’m glad. I shake my head at him, stepping a safe distance away to my starting place. I’m glad we’re dancing together again, but I’m more than a little bit terrified. I want to know what dancing with Zed feels like in front of an audience, a real one, not just at school. I want witnesses to what Zed makes me feel when we dance together.

Zed dances the pas de deux like a dozen love letters tossed into the air. Like watching The Notebook in bed with a pint of ice cream. It’s dancing in the rain and splashing through a fountain in the middle of the night. It’s someone who stops, looks up at the sky and takes your hand to trace the constellations with your finger. He turns this pas de deux from something tense and erotic into something more like a challenge that can’t end any way but with a kiss.

“Aly,” he says, and I realize I’ve been standing in the center just staring at myself for who knows how long. “You alright?”

I clear my throat. “Yes. Sorry. Count off from the top?”

He doesn’t even blink. He nods and returns to his position. He’s waiting for me. If only life was as well choreographed as this dance, I think, and take my first step toward him.

Sometimes, we dance this pas de deux as an inquiry. Today, we dance it like a dare. His offered hand is almost sly, like he knows I’ll have to say yes, and my returned hand is defiantly reluctant. I slow my breathing. We have no music, but Zed counts off softly, and on the fourth count, I look over my shoulder. This moment, when our eyes make contact across the stage…it stings my palms and kick-starts my heart.

When we meet in the middle of the studio, in a series of moments where neither our hands nor our eyes ever part from each other, I can’t handle the intensity in his expression, the way he pushes a little into my wrists. As my partner, he’s only supposed to support me, keep me from falling off balance, allow me to do movements I otherwise couldn’t do. Today, his touch feels like a gauntlet thrown into the precious space between us.

Our fingers fight wars with each other, and the electricity between our eyes could light cities. He throws his weight into his front leg, his arms taut, as he braces against me, arching away, and then swiveling back on the ball of his foot. The pas de deux contains no acrobatics, huge jumps, or fast turns, but it’s one of the hardest to dance with its hyperextended legs, its huge movements and staying on pointe for long periods of time. Without pointe shoes tonight, we stay in demi-pointe.

Halfway there, in every way. This is almost enough.

And not at enough at all. Here, dancing with him, all the carefully drawn lines in our relationship are erased. Here, I let go, so when I look at him, neither of us can look away. When Zed lifts his chin, his lips part a little and I can’t help but stare at the tiny vertical lines from where they chap and split because he worries at them.

The next time he pulls me close, our noses brush together and our hands collide, the heel of my hand pressing against the bottom of his wrist. He catches my hand firmly, swiveling his hip, his knee brushing along the inside of my knee. I look at the inside of his wrist, at the tendons that bend away from his joints, the streaks of glistening sweat.

I think about his arms, over my head, pressing my hands down into a mattress. I suck in a breath and fall flat to my feet, stepping away from him so he’s forced to drop my hands. I don’t care what he’s saying because it’s all I can do to press my palms to my eyes, push the images from my mind, focus instead on the dance.

“What’s wrong?” Zed asks, squatting next to me.

“You’re not staying with me!” I snap, and rise to my feet, not looking at him as I pace away a few steps. I wipe my sweaty palms on my leotard, and when I look in the mirror, I tell myself the color in my cheeks is from the exercise.

“You have to stay with me. You’re getting ahead of me and it’s throwing me off.” My chest seizes up at the sound of desperation in my voice.

Zed’s brow knits together. I want to hold his head, press my mouth against the lines on his forehead and apologize. Then he tilts his head and his face relaxes, his eyes suddenly brighter. I can’t move at the sudden, quiet understanding in his expression.

“Okay,” he says, his voice so soft I know it’s meant for only me. “I get it. I’ll stay with you. From the top?”

This time, there’s no challenge. When Zed offers his hand, it’s an invitation that I accept.

A Giveaway and a Trial … Science Fiction Style!

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By Timothy S. Johnston, author of THE VOID and T.D. Wilson, author of THE EPHERIUM CHRONICLES: ECHOES

Today on the Carina Press blog we feature two Science Fiction authors: T.D. Wilson (The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes) and Timothy S. Johnston (The Void). To reveal a bit about each book, they have decided to put a central character “on trial.” Readers are encouraged to ask their own questions below, and Captain James Hood and Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner will try their best to answer!

Want to win a copy of The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes or The Void? Comment on this post with the book you want to read and your preferred format (.EPUB, .MOBI, .PDF). Two copies of each book are up for grabs. The contest ends on Sunday, April 12th at midnight. If you win, you’ll be notified via email.

And now … on to the trial!

Character on Trial: The Void’s Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner

9781426899645-COV

“MY NAME IS Lieutenant Kyle Tanner. I hunt killers for a living.”

As I said it the person sitting across from me snorted. Disbelief flashed across his features. His face was angular, his eyes dark pits. There were deep lines in his forehead. “But you are a killer,” he growled. “Why look any farther than the nearest mirror?”

It was a common attitude; I’d faced it all my professional life. But because I worked for a military dictatorship, and there was little freedom in this society of 2403 AD, I’d had to endure civilian scorn on a daily basis. It was numbing.

“Look,” I sighed, glancing around. The room we were in was dark, the only illumination a spotlight directly above my chair. It was blinding. Where the hell am I right now? “I know the CCF is difficult at times. But—”

“They are killers! They arrest people for expressing their beliefs. You call that—that—difficult?”

It was hard to argue the point; he was absolutely correct. “I catch murderers,” I mumbled. “Not innocent people.”

“You execute anyone you want!”

I sat up straighter. “Not true. I sift through the evidence and punish the guilty.”

My inquisitor shook his head. His look was one of pure derision. “The CCF kills people they deem dissidents. They destroy families. They torture and murder to maintain control. Every dictatorship does that.”

I studied him in silence for a long minute. His assessment was spot on, however not every CCF officer did those things. I hunted killers and gave families closure. I wielded incredible powers to question and detain and arrest without due process, but I didn’t abuse that power. Instead I used it to heal those in pain. To capture psychopaths. “There are those in the military who enforce the dictatorship, without question. But I am not one.” I looked down and considered my next words. My voice was a rasp. “I don’t agree with the society we live in…but I…I manage.”

His voice softened. “You seem conflicted.”

It was hard to admit, because in the real world such a thing could get me killed. But here, in this place answering these questions, I was isolated and alone.

And safe.

“I am.”

“But why do you work for them?” he asked.

“It’s my life. But—”

“Yes?” the inquisitor prodded.

“I won’t work for them forever.”

He frowned. “What do you mean? How long have you been a Homicide Investigator?”

“I’ve traveled the solar system catching killers for fourteen years now.”

“But you are thinking of leaving?”

I fixed my eyes on his cold, dark pupils. “My girlfriend and I are talking about it.”

For the first time, he seemed lost for words. His eyes had widened. “But then you’ll be hunted, won’t you? You’re an officer in the military. If you run, they’ll kill you.”

I hesitated. To verbalize these thoughts was the hardest thing I’d had to do. I’d lived in this society my entire life. You never questioned it, and you definitely didn’t try to escape. “I can’t handle this existence anymore. It’s a chance we’ll have to take. And to answer your question, yes, if we run, they’ll try to kill us.”

He paused and stared at me for long heartbeats. “Good luck to you then. I hope you can escape this life.”

If I survive this last mission, I wanted to say. Then I’d decide what to do.

Do you have a question for Inspector Kyle Tanner? Are you curious what it’s like to live in a repressive society with little freedom? Why he’s done it for so long? Why he chooses to interact with psychotic killers? Or, how finding the love of his life changed his outlook on society? Ask below, and Lieutenant Kyle Tanner will be happy to answer.

Thanks for spending time with Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner today.

Character on Trial:  The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes’ Captain James Hood

CARINA_0315_9781426899201_TheEpheriumChronicles (2)“MY NAME IS James Hood, Captain, EDF Armstrong.

I regarded the man sitting across the table from me in the cramped office aboard the Armstrong. He was young, not more than twenty-five, but he had a level of seriousness that went far beyond his age. It was the same for all of the EDF’s investigators.

“Well Captain,” he began while reading the displayed information on his data pad, “you’ve had a rather full and decorated career. Your list of accolades goes on and on.” He focused his dark brown eyes on my face.  “I guess we’re going to have to add conspiring with the enemy to that list.” The EDF had a standard protocol to conduct a follow up with an investigator after a major engagement. The idea was to present a new perspective to commanders in the field, but a small percentage of them turned the process into a witch hunt.  This guy was one of them.

“Excuse me?” I challenged, but my kept my temper under control. What the investigator had insinuated was treason plain and simple. He wanted to provoke me and I wasn’t biting. “You’ve obviously read my report from the battle. What gives you the impression I would ever do anything to comprise my ship, the lives of the colonists or my crew?”

“It’s simple. Upon discovery of the Cilik’ti…Kree was its name I believe, you chose not bring in more seasoned personnel to conduct a proper interrogation. Instead, you had an inexperience junior officer take the lead with help from one of the colonists, who may have already been compromised by behavioural modification during her time in the Embrace sleeper chambers aboard the Magellan.

He leaned forward onto the table. “A proper interrogation could have gained the knowledge that an imminent attack was coming against the colony and the EDF could’ve been better prepared. In short, you let that thing play you, Captain. Now, after the dust has settled, you’ve taken the lead to develop a diplomatic exchange with the alien and his “rogue” Cilik’ti friends.  A role that clearly doesn’t fit you. Tell me where I’m wrong?”

I snarled at first, but drew it back. I could see from a high level where he might find that a believable scenario, but his conclusions were based on the lack of details. Fortunately for me, I had them. “First of all, I find your charge of conspiracy and treason ludicrous. I have the full trust of Admiral Grant and Admiral Tramp. Both have agreed with every action I have made since I took command of this ship.”

The man just stared at me. I decided to take it a step further and leaned toward him. “As for you incompetence charge with handling Kree’s interrogation, let me dissect your overall assessment. First, we’ve never had a Cilik’ti held captive for interrogation before. Any of them captured during the war just expired without warning, like turning off a switch. Based on all our intelligence and the research of my junior officer, Lieutenant Wells, the Cilik’ti use telepathic communication. We knew that Kree was in contact with his people the entire time. Any harsh act of coercion to force him into revealing military secrets would have resulted in his quick death, quite possibly followed by ours at the colony. Second, Kree is a worker among the Cilik’ti, not a soldier. He was sent there to study and managed to provide a way for humans to communicate with his species.”

I leaned back into my chair. “Kree and the N’lan are not rogues.  The Cilik’ti are far more complicated than we ever realized, and the N’lan hold a critical place of power amongst their people. Frankly, without their help, I wouldn’t be sitting across this table talking to you right now.”

The man frowned. “I wonder about that too, Captain.  Perhaps your actions are justified, but I fear for our future. Another war could be disastrous for us all.”

I snorted. “For once we agree. But I think you need to spend more time investigating who is behind the theft of Epherium’s data on the colonists. The stealth frigate that attacked us in that asteroid field and left with an agent that was planted in my crew is still out there. That’s the real threat.”

The man closed the cover on his data pad and stood. “Thank you for time, Captain. I think you’ve provided me with valuable insight for my investigation. I’ll contact you if I have any more questions.”

Do you have a question for Captain James Hood?  Are you curious about what he feels about his crew?  What does he think of his new alien “friends”?  What does think about Epherium and their use of sleeper chambers to reprogram criminals into colonists?  Ask below, and Captain Hood will be happy to answer.

Thanks for spending time with Captain James Hood today.

The Fatal Series by Marie Force

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Mixing romance and politics can be FATAL…

The Fatal Series by bestselling author Marie Force, now available in print with bonus content.

FATAL AFFAIR | FATAL JUSTICE | FATAL CONSEQUENCES | FATAL DESTINY | FATAL FLAW | FATAL DECEPTION | FATAL MISTAKE | FATAL JEOPARDY | FATAL SCANDAL | FATAL FRENZY

Fast-paced political intrigue, gritty suspense and a romance that makes headlines.

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FATAL AFFAIR: BOOK ONE OF THE FATAL SERIES

Includes the never-before-published prequel novella, ONE NIGHT WITH YOU.

Walking the thin blue line… 

Detective Sergeant Sam Holland of the Washington, DC, Metro Police needs a big win to salvage her career—and her confidence—after a disastrous investigation. The perfect opportunity arises when Senator John O’Connor is found brutally murdered in his bed, and Sam is assigned to the case. Matters get complicated when Sam has to team up with Nick Cappuano, O’Connor’s friend and chief of staff…and the man Sam had a memorable one-night stand with years earlier. Their sexual chemistry still sizzles, and Sam has to fight to stay focused on the case. Sleeping with a material witness is another mistake she can’t afford—especially when the bodies keep piling up.
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TargetIndigo | Harlequin
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002580_prdFATAL JUSTICE: BOOK TWO OF THE FATAL SERIES

She looked into the dead face of the man she’d dined with the night before…

Standing over the body of a Supreme Court nominee, Lieutenant Sam Holland is hip-deep in another high-profile murder case. The fact that she was one of the last people to see Julian Sinclair alive just complicates things even more. On the plus side, her relationship with Senator Nick Cappuano is heating up—but it’s also attracting a lot of unwanted media attention and blinding flashbulbs.

The pressure is on for Sam to find Sinclair’s killer, but a new lead in her father’s unsolved shooting puts her in unexpected danger. When long-buried secrets threaten to derail her relationship with Nick, Sam realizes that while justice is blind, mixing romance with politics has the potential to be fatal…
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Target |  Indigo | Harlequin
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002597_prdFATAL CONSEQUENCES: BOOK THREE OF THE FATAL SERIES

Includes the novella FATAL DESTINY

Politics can be murder…
Lieutenant Sam Holland has no sooner accepted Senator Nick Cappuano’s proposal than she’s back on the job. A woman has been found brutally murdered and evidence points to Henry Lightfeather, a senator and close friend of Nick’s. While Sam investigates, Nick stands by his friend—complicating his own bid for reelection, and causing tension between the couple.

As Sam’s investigation reveals a scandal that rocks the capital, Nick and Sam discover that the biggest threat to their future might be someone from her past.
Available in print June 2015: Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndigo | Harlequin
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press
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9781426892158_fatal_destinyFATAL DESTINY: A FATAL SERIES NOVELLA.

With the week of their wedding finally upon them, Washington, D.C., Police Lieutenant Sam Holland and her fiancé, Senator Nick Cappuano, are at odds. In the aftermath of a tragic loss, they struggle to reconnect as the big day draws near, but their work keeps pulling them apart. When a new clue into a cold case surfaces, Nick asks Sam not to take any foolish chances before the wedding and to leave it alone for the time being.

Sam agrees, but she can’t let it go entirely and winds up trapped in an explosive situation. Then an unwelcome visitor from her past threatens her future happiness… With trouble at every turn, will Sam survive long enough to walk down the aisle?

ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002696_prdFATAL FLAW: BOOK FOUR OF THE FATAL SERIES

The honeymoon’s over, and now someone wants them dead…

Back from their honeymoon, Senator Nick Cappuano and DC Police Lieutenant Sam Holland are ready for some normalcy after the whirlwind of their wedding, but someone has other plans for them. When Sam discovers wedding cards containing thinly veiled death threats, she’s not sure if she or Nick is the target.

Already on edge, Sam and her team start investigating a series of baffling murders. The victims are well liked with no known enemies, and the murders are carried out in a clean and efficient manner. Unable to find a clear motive for the deaths, she feels as if she’s chasing her tail.

With no obvious connection between the victims, Sam soon suspects that she may be the ultimate prize in the killer’s clever game. When the danger starts to hit a little too close to home, she has two goals: find the elusive murderer and manage to live long enough to enjoy her happily-ever-after.
Available in print June 2015: Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndigo | Harlequin
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002702_smpFATAL DECEPTION: BOOK FIVE OF THE FATAL SERIES

Murder comes to the White House…

The wife of the White House deputy chief of staff has been beaten to death, and their one-year-old daughter is missing. DC police lieutenant Sam Holland is in charge of the murder investigation, but she’s forced to collaborate with Special Victims Unit detectives as well as thorn-in-her-side FBI special agent Avery Hill. Then, a cold case of her father’s resurrects old hurts—a distraction Sam cannot afford.

As Sam’s investigation heats up, so does Nick’s political career—and the heat carries over to their bedroom. Will Sam put the pieces together in time to catch a killer and find the baby, or will ambition, greed and lies prove fatal?
Available in print July 2015: Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndigo | Harlequin
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002719_smpFATAL MISTAKE: BOOK SIX OF THE FATAL SERIES

A critical error. A Cinderella season cut short. A star player murdered.

DC is recovering from angry riots after one player’s mistake blew the DC Federals’ chance at the World Series, and Lieutenant Sam Holland is determined to unravel the twisted web of motives behind the star center fielder’s death. Was it a disgruntled fan, a spurned lover or a furious teammate?

While Sam digs through clues, her husband, US Senator Nick Cappuano, fights for his political life in the final days of his reelection campaign as financial irregularities threaten his future. It’s a distraction Nick can ill afford with Sam in the midst of another high-profile murder investigation and both of them trying to help their adopted son, Scotty, cope with the murder of a ballplayer he admired. Determined to bring the killer to justice, Sam must root out the truth before another mistake proves fatal.
Available in print August 2015: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002726_smpFATAL JEOPARDY: BOOK SEVEN OF THE FATAL SERIES

The most personal case yet…

Washington, DC, police lieutenant Sam Holland and her husband, US Senator Nick Cappuano, have been looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving with their son. But any thoughts of a restful holiday are dashed when Sam and Nick return home to a gruesome scene: Sam’s seventeen-year-old niece Brooke, barely conscious and covered in blood on their front stoop.

With lines between personal and professional blurring in this emotionally charged, deeply personal case, Sam is relying on Nick more than ever for support. But when suspicious images from the night in question appear on social media, Sam begins to wonder if her niece is telling her everything she knows about what really happened. And when Nick questions her tactics—and her ethics—as she races against the clock, Sam will need to decide how far she’s willing to go to prove Brooke is a victim, not a murderer.
Available in print September 2015: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002733.inddFATAL SCANDAL: BOOK EIGHT OF THE FATAL SERIES

Someone’s keeping deadly secrets…
As a new year dawns in the capital city, dual scandals rock the Metropolitan Police Department—and Lieutenant Sam Holland is right in the middle of them. Chief Farnsworth is catching heat for the way he handled a recent homicide investigation, and Detective Gonzales is accused of failing to disclose an earlier connection to the judge who decided his custody hearing.

When Gonzo’s fight for his child turns deadly and he has a shaky alibi, Sam must defend two of her closest colleagues. All while her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano, settles into his new office at the White House.

Nick begins to wonder if the president is using him for a political boost, and his worries mount over a complication in the plans to adopt Scotty at a time when Sam is being put through the wringer by the always-rabid DC press corps. As the evidence against Gonzo piles up, Sam suspects someone is gunning for her—and her team.
Available in print January 2016: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press
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9781459290297_fatal_frenzyFATAL FRENZY: BOOK NINE OF THE FATAL SERIES

Sam and Nick’s story continues in Fatal Frenzy, Book 9 of the Fatal Series! It’s inauguration day in Washington, and nothing goes according to plan for the nation’s second couple in the next installment of the New York Times bestselling series.
Available in ebook September 2015: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

The Best Book Boyfriends

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By Sybil Bartel, author of IMPOSSIBLE PROMISE

I would love to think I am sly and cunning about hiding my book boyfriend addiction, but in reality, I might like to swoon, a lot. Okay, more than a lot. Confession time—I LOVE book boyfriends! They’re perfect. But have you ever asked yourself who makes the best book boyfriend?

I would be lying if I said it was one single, earth shattering, time stopping, perfect, single character. Because, let’s be honest, there are so many to choose from, I couldn’t possibly pick just one! But there are elements, ingredients if you will, that make the perfect combination.

I like my book boyfriends to be alpha, so alpha they make your knees shake. And tall, and strong and swoon worthy gorgeous, but in a rugged way, an alpha way. Do you know the type? Presence in spades, dominant, and so consuming, he makes you forget all other men?

That’s Blaze.

He’s a six-foot-four Force Recon Marine. His stare is penetrating. He’s cunning and ruthless. He’s fiercely protective. He lives by a code of honor, and he loves hard. Oh, does he love hard. Everything about Blaze makes my knees shake, even the flaws—because of the flaws. Because that’s the secret ingredient to a perfect book boyfriend—the flaws. Rough when you wanted sweet, guarded when you wanted vulnerable, distant when you wanted more. It’s all about making you want more—those perfect imperfections that keep you turning the page.

Impossible Promise wasn’t an easy book to write. Sometimes it made me sad, sometimes I was so frustrated I had to walk away, but in the end it was Blaze’s flaws that made me fall in love with him. And ooh, would I love to tell you what they are, but I don’t want to spoil it for you! However, I will say this: I love my book boyfriend to be everything swoon-worthy. I want him to be the best alpha I’ve ever read. I want my heart to race as I turn the pages. And I want a vulnerability I can wrap my arms around.

So, the best book boyfriend? I know he’s out there. I’m giddy with excitement at just the thought of discovering him. It makes me believe in hope every time I read those first two tantalizing words, the ones that have me quivering in anticipation. Chapter One. Those two words get me every single time, because maybe, just maybe, they’ll lead me to my ultimate quest. I know the best book boyfriend is out there—I’ve met him a hundred times over. And I can’t wait to meet him again. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Impossible Promise. I hope Blaze becomes one of your book boyfriends!

XOXO – Sybil

9781426899676-COVThree years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.

Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior façade is a man on the verge of breaking.

Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.

Book one of two

93,000 words

Impossible Promise is available now!

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To find out more about Sybil Bartel, be sure to follow her on Twitter (she loves to hear about your favorite book boyfriend!), like her on Facebook, and visit her website.

Feeling Conflicted?

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By Julianna Keyes, author of TIME SERVED

When it comes to writing, the question I’m most asked is where I get my ideas. Normally the answer is something entirely vague and unhelpful like, “I don’t know, I just thought of it,” but I actually remember the moment I was inspired to write Time Served. It started with Dean.

Dean (not his real name) was a guy on a fairly serious reality show, and the man had issues. Major issues. But he was so hot. Stop-channel-surfing-and-actually-watch-this hot. However, as the show went on and more of his misdeeds were revealed, the more the alarmed wheels in my brain began to turn. I kept thinking how if I’d bumped into this man in the street, I’d be very attracted him. But if I knew about his baggage (and this guy would sink like a stone), I’d run screaming. So then I asked myself, Well, who could love this man? (And no, the answer isn’t “Someone less judgemental, you horrible shrew!”)

I decided the heroine had to be someone who had known Dean before he accumulated all his troublesome baggage (and I took the liberty of unburdening fake Dean of many of real Dean’s issues). I made them childhood sweethearts whose unfinished business formed the basis for their new, steamy-but-contentious relationship. And then I named her Rachel, because that’s what popped into my head.

I like opposites attract stories, and because Dean had gone down a bad road, I sent Rachel down a very good one, giving them (and me) lots of room to navigate, bump through a few potholes, and eventually meet somewhere in the middle. Then, because I didn’t want things to be completely uneven, I decided that Dean couldn’t be the only bad guy in the story, and I gave Rachel some issues of her own.

I like lots of conflict in my stories; I enjoy the fighting just as much as the making up. Sometimes more. Given Rachel and Dean’s tumultuous history, I knew they had a very long road ahead of them. This isn’t the story of two people who never got over each other. It’s the story of two people who were in love, then weren’t, then didn’t want to be, and really shouldn’t be. It’s meeting a sexy stranger and knowing he’s trouble, then agreeing to meet him again anyway.

That’s my favourite kind of story. The one that makes sensible shrews people run screaming, but keeps the bold ones rooted in place, desperate to see what happens next. It’s the book you inhale obsessively, hurl across the room six times, scoop up, apologize to, and re-read until the pages fall out (or your e-reader dies).

Which book have you re-read the most? My go-to is Sandra Brown’s Slow Heat in Heaven. It was my first foray into romance reading, and its prickly hero and prim-but-ballsy heroine set the bar for all who came after.

9781426899621-COVDean Barclay had nothing to do with my decision to flee my old life, but he is 100 percent of the reason I vowed to never look back.

I’ve never forgotten how it felt to follow Dean—dangerous, daring, determined—away from the crowd and climb into his beat-up old Trans Am. I was sixteen and gloriously alive for the first time. When I felt his hand cover my leg and move upward, it was over. I was his. Forever.

Until I left. Him, my mom, and the trailer park. Without so much as a goodbye.

Now Dean’s back, crashing uninvited into my carefully cultivated, neat little lawyerly life. Eight years behind bars have turned him rougher and bigger—and more sexually demanding than any man I’ve ever met. I can’t deny him anything…and that just might end up costing me everything.

101,800 words
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Julianna Keyes is a Canadian writer who has lived on both coasts and several places in between. She’s been skydiving, bungee jumping and white water rafting, but nothing thrills—or terrifies—her as much as the blank page. She loves Chinese food, foreign languages, baseball and television, though not necessarily in that order. In addition to Time Served, she is the author of two contemporary romances: Just Once, the story of a world weary socialite and a stubborn ranch foreman, and Going the Distance, a love story set in China between a kindergarten ESL teacher and a former army interrogator. She writes sizzling stories with strong characters, plenty of conflict, and lots of making up.

Connect with Julianna!
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A New Beginning In Familiar Places

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By A.M. Arthur, author of GETTING IT RIGHT

 

One of the questions I get asked very frequently by my readers is a variation on “Will there be another Belonging book?” I love so much that readers have fallen for the Belonging boys and want to see more of them, so I hate to say no. Belonging, for me, was always meant to be a trilogy. It was a journey of young men finding themselves in the world, and finding love along the way, and I’m so proud of No Such Thing, Maybe This Time and Stand By You. Those characters will always be dear to my heart.

When it came time to choose my next project for Carina, I knew I wanted to stay in Wilmington. I love Pot O Gold, and I still want a chance to get back to Half Dozen for a visit. And I’ve had a few readers quite boldly ask for Tag’s story. He made quite the impression during his few scenes in Maybe This Time and  Stand By You. He was also a decade older than the Belonging characters, and at the time, I didn’t know anything about his friends. So I knew this had to be a new series.

Thus the Restoration Trilogy was born and kicks off this month with Getting It Right, which tells the story of James “Tag” McTaggert and Nathan Wolf. The heroes in this trilogy are a bit older, more established in life, but they’re also a little bit broken. It up to the love of a good man to help restore what’s been lost to them, and I really hope readers enjoy meeting this brand new cast of characters.

I know I sure did.

9781426899577-COVDetective Nathan Wolf might just be a junior detective, but he tackles every case with the passion that he lacks in his personal life. A series of failed relationships with women has left him still single at thirty-four—because he’s too scared to admit to his longtime crush on his best friend James.

Dr. James Taggert likes to keep his profession as a psychiatrist separate from his party-animal persona. Known around the gay clubs as “Tag”, he’s the guy who screws them, leaves them, and never looks back. But James’s drinking is getting heavier, and when bad memories from the past resurface, he’s close to becoming the worst version of himself.

After a drunken blackout ends in a hot and heavy make-out session with his very straight best friend, James has no memory of the steamy affair. But Nathan isn’t sorry for the kisses that James can’t remember. Nathan finally musters the courage to tell James how he really feels, but a life-altering event might force them apart before they can ever be together.

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Men in Black (Suits)

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By Kate Willoughby, author of OUT OF THE GAME

The National Hockey League has this crazy, wonderful thing written into the contract where, on game days, the players must wear suits to and from the game. Not warm-ups. Not cargo shorts. Not jeans.

Full on sexy, tailored suits.

Isn’t that awesome? As a female hockey fan, I give this rule a big thumbs up, especially when I’m looking at players like Toronto Maple Leaf Joffrey Lupul…Or Jordie Benn of the Dallas Stars.




I often imagine what’s underneath the suits. Even more often, I imagine what goes on in an NHL player’s head and heart. On the outside, they’re fierce, confident competitors, but inside, I think they’re regular guys, vulnerable and wanting to find love just like everyone else.

Take Alex Sullivan of my fictional team, the San Diego Barracudas, for instance. In my first two hockey romances, On the Surface and Across the Line, Alex comes off as cocky and wry. He’s worked hard on his reputation as a ladies’ man, but lately, he’s been watching his teammates fall in love and they look so damn happy, it makes him wonder if there’s a perfect woman out there for him too. (Spoiler: There is.)

If you’d like to see a devil-may-care Cassanova figure out that there are more important things in life than hockey, beer and easy sex, try Out of the Game. If you’d like to see more hockey players in suits, check out The Boys In Suits Pinterest board.

In the meantime, what do you prefer your book boyfriend to wear? A stylin’ suit or worn-in jeans?

9781426899720-COV

Book three of In the Zone

Alex Sullivan may be the San Diego Barracudas’ resident playboy, but he hasn’t been able to forget the woman who kissed him like her life depended on it ten months ago. When he sees her again at a teammate’s wedding, he can’t think of anything but spending more time with her. Preferably naked.

Claire Marzano lost years catering to an overbearing husband, and she’s not going to answer to anyone ever again. A hot fling is just what she needs to get back in the game, and that’s exactly what sexy Alex offers–one wild long weekend away, with no promises or obligations.

But that one weekend changes everything. Despite knowing full well Alex isn’t the kind to ever commit, Claire is falling for him. And Alex secretly imagines a future with his strong, smart “accidental girlfriend.” Until a surprise announcement and an on-ice accident threaten to derail everything…or cause Alex to finally ditch his old ways and become the man Claire needs him to be.

Don’t miss On the Surface and Across the Line, available now!

Get your copy of OUT OF THE GAME from Carina Press or your favorite online retailer:
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Kate Willoughby happily writes her hockey romances in Southern California. She is married and has two sons, a dog, and a betta fish. When she’s not writing, she’s watching hockey. When it’s not hockey season, she whines a lot.

Connect with Kate!
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April 2015 Releases

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Enjoy our Carina Press new releases! With new titles available for download every week, visit this page to plan your shopping for the month. You’re sure to find a story you’ll love!

P.S. Shop our presale titles—buy upcoming titles now and download on the street date!

April 6 | April 13 | April 20 | April 27

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April 6, 2015

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Victory of the Hawk by Angela Highland
(Fantasy Romance)
ISBN: 9781426899690
Price: $2.99

9781426899690-COVAs war rages across Adalonia, their only hope is a sword named Moonshadow, the weapon that first saved the elves from the Anreulag.

Julian

Julian yearns to confess his love to Faanshi, the elven healer who captivated him since their first chance encounter. Though he fears she and Kestar share a deep connection, he must thrust such worry aside as danger descends upon them and their uneasy elven allies…

Faanshi

Faanshi’s connection to Kestar is inexplicable, born of her magic and their shared elven blood. She knows his every thought and desire, but her heart lies with Julian. She’ll have to find a way to tell him soon, even in the midst of rebellion…

Kestar

Though he knows not why—only that it involves his own recently discovered elven heritage—Kestar has risked the lives of everyone around him. For the Anreulag, the Voice of the Gods, has been freed of Her magical prison and will kill all in Her path until he is found.

Book three of Rebels of Adalonia

95,000 words

Carina PressAmazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

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Death at China Rose by Daryl Anderson
(Mystery)
ISBN: 9781426899874
Price: $3.99

9781426899874-COVIn this swamp of double-dealing, almost everyone has an agenda.

When Harry Pitts—owner of the rundown China Rose Fish Camp—is beaten to death in his home, the bloody scene suggests a frenzied, random act of violence. But PI Addie Gorsky believes the crime is connected to another case—the disappearance of Harry’s daughter eleven years ago.

All murders begin in the past, but Addie soon realizes that this case is rooted in old Florida, back in the time of wily pirates and proud conquistadors, and the trove of treasure that legend claims is buried in this backwater.

Addie dives headfirst into the wild heart of China Rose, surrounded by grinning gators, killer bees and gaping cottonmouths. But these predators pale in comparison to the cunning two-legged killer Addie is hunting…and who soon begins hunting her.

Don’t miss Murder at Mystic Cove, available now!

96,000 words

Carina PressAmazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

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April 13, 2015

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Second Position by Katherine Locke
(Contemporary Romance, New Adult)
ISBN: 9781426899706
Price: $3.99

9781426899706Four years ago, a car accident ended Zedekiah Harrow’s ballet career and sent Philadelphia Ballet principal dancer Alyona Miller spinning toward the breakdown that suspended her own. What they lost on the side of the road that day can never be replaced, and grief is always harshest under a spotlight.

Now twenty-three, Zed teaches music and theatre at a private school in Washington, D.C. and regularly attends AA meetings to keep the pain at bay. Aly has returned to D.C. to live with her mother while trying to recover from the mental and physical breakdown that forced her to take a leave of absence from the ballet world, and her adoring fans.

When Zed and Aly run into each other in a coffee shop, it’s as if no time has passed at all. But without the buffer and escape of dance—and with so much lust, anger and heartbreak hanging between them—their renewed connection will either allow them to build the together they never had…or destroy the fragile recoveries they’ve only started to make.

Book One of the District Ballet Company

71,000 words
Carina PressAmazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

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An Inconvenient Mistress by Caroline Kimberly
(Historical Romance)
ISBN: 9781426899683
Price: $3.99

9781426899683-COVJamaica, 1820

Isabelle North needs a hero, and if an arrogant mercenary is all she can find…he’ll just have to do. She must get back to England before her past catches up with her, even if that means booking passage on a vessel captained by a man she cannot abide.

Phillip Ashford, notorious smuggler and captain of the privateer Intrepid, knows Miss North is trouble. She’s stubborn, for starters, and it’s painfully clear she’s conning him—she looks more like a schoolmarm than the rich man’s mistress she claims to be. But beneath her prim exterior is a sharp wit and courageous spirit that draws him in despite himself.

They both know they should keep their distance. But passion flares as they defend themselves on the high seas—until Phillip begins asking questions Isabelle would rather not answer. After all, how much can she really share with a man she’ll never trust?

Meet Phillip’s brothers in An Inconvenient Kiss and An Inconvenient Wife!

100,000 words
Carina PressAmazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

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April 20, 2015

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A Dangerous Leap by Sharon Calvin
(Romantic Suspense)
ISBN: 9781426899737
Price: $3.99

9781426899737-COVBook one of Gulf Coast Rescue

Raised by navy parents, Kelly Bishop learned how to pack light and say goodbye at an early age. She’s earned her Coast Guard rescue swimmer stripes in some of the toughest waters out there, outperforming men along the way. Now she’s ready for a new start in Florida, eager to prove herself as the best of the best.

What she isn’t ready for is the spark between her and fellow Coastie Ian Razzamenti.

Ian knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. And what he’s always wanted is a stay-at-home wife—someone who can take care of their children while he’s out on missions. The attraction he feels for Kelly is intense, but is it worth giving up his big-family dreams?

Life-or-death situations leave little time for distraction—or doubt. When a tropical storm becomes a hurricane and a dangerous enemy reveals himself, their air station springs into action, and Kelly and Ian may not have the chance to decide whether they want to take the leap…

71,000 words
Carina PressAmazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

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April 27, 2015

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Nobody’s Hero by j. leigh bailey
(Male/Male Romance, New Adult)
ISBN: 9781426899744
Price: $3.99

9781426899744-COVBradley Greene’s family all but discarded him when his brother caught him fooling around with another boy. Now Bradley has seventeen dollars and a gas card, and he’s sleeping in his car. He’s an emotional mess and if he doesn’t land a job soon, he’s up the proverbial creek.

Danny Ortega can take care of himself…most of the time. When what started as a date turns into sexual assault in a dark parking lot, he’s grateful for Brad’s help—and an instant admirer of Brad’s military school-honed muscles. He certainly doesn’t expect to see him again, and definitely not as the newest hire at Ortega Construction.

As Brad and Danny’s quiet attraction turns into more, things start to go sour before they’ve even started. Danny grows frustrated that Brad won’t open up emotionally. And Brad is terrified of being responsible for someone else’s feelings. When Brad’s family makes one last attempt to turn him into an “acceptable” son, all bets are off—he and Danny will need to decide if they’re in this together…or apart.
74,000 words
Carina PressAmazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

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Quick Pivot by Brenda Buchanan
(Mystery)
ISBN: 9781426899751
Price: $4.99

9781426899751-COV1968
A cunning thief skimmed a half a million dollars from the textile mill that was the beating heart of Riverside, Maine. Sharp-eyed accountant George Desmond discovered the discrepancy, but was killed before he could report it. After stashing the body, the thief-turned-killer manipulated evidence to make it appear Desmond skipped town with the stolen money, ruining his good name forever.

Present Day
Veteran journalist Joe Gale is covering a story for the Portland Daily Chronicle when a skeleton falls at his feet: Desmond’s bones have been found in a basement crawl space at the long-shuttered mill. For Joe, digging into the past means retracing the steps his mentor Paulie Finnegan had taken years ago, when the case was still open. But the same people who bird-dogged Paulie four decades ago are watching Joe now. As he closes in on the truth, his every move is tracked—and the murderer proves more than willing to kill again.

87,000 words
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Author Spotlight: Julianna Keyes

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Do you think honesty is always the best policy? Author Julianna Keyes talk about creating her honest hero, Dean, in Time Served. Keep reading to find out more!

The Ugly Truth by Julianna Keyes

I saw my nephew when he was born, then not again until he could speak. I still remember that second meeting, him standing in the doorway at maybe three years old, gazing up at me thoughtfully.

“Hey,” I said.

And waited.

He stared for a really long time. “Do you love me?” he asked eventually.

Now, I’m not particularly sentimental, and I’m not very good with kids, so what I was thinking was, “How on earth should I know? We haven’t seen each other in years. We’re strangers, kid! Do I love you? I’m not even sure I’m at the right house.” What I said, however, was, “Yes.”

“Okay,” he said, and let me in.

The reason this exchange stands out for me is simple: it’s honest.

There are many different types of heroes in romance novels. Fast talkers, smooth talkers, dirty talkers. Some tell you what you want to hear, some tell you what you say you don’t want to hear but secretly do, some say terrible things.

In Time Served, the hero, Dean, is a big guy. He spent eight years in prison and he’s dark and angry. He’s bitter and vengeful. And he’s honest. He doesn’t use his fists to land blows, he uses words. Sometimes they’re sweet, sometimes they’re crude, sometimes they’re bad, but they’re always true.

Dean has no patience for subtext or nuance. He says exactly what he means, when he means it, no matter what. It’s the scariest thing about him because it shines a blinding interrogation light on the listener, the one that scrutinizes you and asks, “Well? What are you going to do now? Can you be honest in return? Would you dare?”

Jack Nicholson says it best in a Few Good Men: You can’t handle the truth. Saying what we’re really thinking, finding the courage to ask for what we want and need, lays us bare. It requires faith that the person we’re talking to won’t use that truth against us, and faith in ourselves to know that we can handle whatever comes back as a result of it.

As scary as it may be, Dean only deals in truths. Because behind his dark scowl and stony gaze, beneath the muscles and years of seething resentment, deep down, there’s still a little boy in the doorway, gazing up at a girl, asking if she loves him. And if she does, and she tells him the truth, he’ll let her in.

About Time Served:

{92D962C0-8558-4A3E-8499-F802F0451BCC}Img100Dean Barclay had nothing to do with my decision to flee my old life, but he is 100 percent of the reason I vowed to never look back.

I’ve never forgotten how it felt to follow Dean–dangerous, daring, determined–away from the crowd and climb into his beat-up old Trans Am. I was sixteen and gloriously alive for the first time. When I felt his hand cover my leg and move upward, it was over. I was his. Forever.

Until I left. Him, my mom, and the trailer park. Without so much as a goodbye.

Now Dean’s back, crashing uninvited into my carefully cultivated, neat little lawyerly life. Eight years behind bars have turned him rougher and bigger–and more sexually demanding than any man I’ve ever met. I can’t deny him anything…and that just might end up costing me everything.

Stay up to date on the latest news from Julianna Keyes by visiting her website, and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Facebook!