Friday, February 24, 2017

Cover Reveal : Myths of Mish (Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles #2) by Katie Hamstead

C. T. Collier - Planted - Virtual Book Tour


Cozy Mystery
Date Published: June 2016
Publisher: Asdee Press

It’s Monday of spring break when Professor Lyssa Pennington’s backyard garden project unearths a loaded revolver. With no record of violence at their address and no related cold case, the Tompkins Falls police have no interest. But the Penningtons and a friend with the State Police believe there’s a body somewhere. Whose? Where? And who pulled the trigger?



C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting: entirely fictional, Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls, is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY (AKA Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life).


 Excerpt:
Bree explored the outside of the pouch with her fingers. “It feels hard, like metal.” She fully loosened the drawstring and peered inside.
Her voice deepened. “Holy cannoli.”
“What?” Lyssa asked.
“What is it?” Dick said.
“What’d they bury?” Richie’s eager voice asked.
Bree drew out a handgun, gripping the wood handle with her thumb and two fingers.
“Oh my gosh.” Lyssa’s head and heart pounded. “Put it back. We’re done with this.” She started toward Bree, but Dick shifted on his feet and tightened the circle, blocking her access.
“Revolver,” Dick said. “It’s in good shape for something that’s been buried as long as that tree’s been there. Look at the gleam on parts of the barrel. Someone shined it up before they buried it.”
“Buried is right,” Bree said with a short laugh. “It was wrapped in—what? —three layers like a mummy inside that metal box.”
Lyssa shivered and sank onto the arm of the nearest chair. “How can you joke?”
“This is an old Smith and Wesson with a wooden grip,” Dick said. “My aunt lived way out in the country and got a gun like this for protection after her husband died.”
“Can I see, Dad?”
“Ask Mrs. Pennington.”
Dick and his son looked her way.
“No.” Lyssa scowled at Dick.
“I’ve shown Richie how to handle a firearm, and we’ve shot together at the rifle range.”
“Come on, Lyssa.” Bree rose to her feet and struck a pose, one fist on her hip, the gun resting on her other palm. “You’ll be very careful, right, Richie?”
“No worries.” Richie took the gun reverently from Bree, his eyes bright with curiosity.
“Son, remember it might be loaded.”



Contact Information
Facebook: /kate.collier.315
Twitter: @TompkinsFalls


Purchase Links
Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/huqsd54

State of Allegiance by Summer Lane


State of Allegiance
Summer Lane
(Collapse #9)
Publication date: February 24th 2017
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult
Be brave. Be vigilant. But above all, be loyal.
In the wake of a dangerous but successful mission to Yukon City in Alaska, Cassidy Hart now finds herself back in California, at the naval air station in San Diego. Together, she and Chris now face their most terrifying threat yet: nuclear destruction.
Surviving in a world gone nuclear is easier said than done. Faced with the prospect of being wiped off the face of the earth by Omega’s nuclear arsenal, Cassidy, Chris and their fellow rebel friends stage an incredible, daring journey into the Pacific Rim with the hope that they will be able to seize a weapon that could turn the tide of the war in the militia’s favor.
The clock of the apocalypse is counting down.
Choices must be made. Relationships will be strained. True love will be put to the ultimate test.
It’s militias versus Omega. Hope versus destruction.
Where does your allegiance lie?
Choose carefully.

Interview with Author Summer Lane
How does it feel to publish the 9th installment of the Collapse Series – and your 16th overall?
It feels unreal! When I was a kid, I always pictured myself as an author, sharing my stories with readers, but I admit I didn’t really think that would materialize until I was much older than I am right now. I’ve been really blessed – and I’ve worked really hard!
What’s a typical day in your life like?
I do manage a business, so while I do a lot more than simply write manuscripts, writing certainly is the base of everything that I engage in. I just got a German Shepherd puppy named Kona, and she gets me up early in the morning (earlier than usual, haha!), and I’ll start work then. If I have a good day, I’ll be done with work around 2:30 or 3. If it’s a long day, I’ll be working until 6.
What is State of Hope going to be like – and is it the last book in the series?
State of Hope is going to be long, intense and flushed with adrenaline. There are so many secrets to be revealed, so many character plots to be tied up neatly, and most importantly: Cassidy’s conclusion in this apocalyptic war. While Hope is indeed the final installment in the Collapse Series, it is not the last book in the Collapse universe. I certainly do have some plans for Cassidy in the future – they may not be as huge as Collapse, but trust me: I have plans.
How do you stay motivated and healthy in your career as a writer?
I stay motivated by keeping my eye on the prize: I remove negativity from my life, because nobody needs that. I try to surround myself with people who really care about me and support what I do. Staying healthy, for me, at least, is actually really difficult. My profession requires a lot of sitting, so I have to make an extra effort to get up, walk and move. It’s also tempting to snack on junk food working in an office (am I right?). I try hard to indulge only with healthy snacks: I have celery sticks and apples in the fridge, I like cheese, and any gluten-free cracker in combination. I also just discovered baked parmesan crisps. Oh, my heart!
Advice to aspiring authors?
Don’t let anybody bring you down. Never take no as a final answer. Work hard, and it will pay off, one way or another.


Author Bio:
Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of the Collapse Series, Zero Trilogy, Bravo Saga, Collapse: The Illustrated Guide and the adventure thriller, Unbreakable SEAL.
Summer owns WB Publishing. She is an accomplished journalist and creative writing teacher. She also owns an online magazine, Writing Belle, where she has interviewed and worked with countless authors from around the globe.
Summer lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, where she enjoys reading, collecting tea, visiting the beach and the mountains, and counting down the days until she has her very own puppy (if you’ve read Bravo: Apocalypse Mission, you’ll understand).

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YALit Giveaway Event!

YALit Giveaway Event!
A bunch of authors who got together to bring you a YOUNG ADULT Big Box of Paperbacks Giveaway! One lucky winner is going to win FIFTY (50) Young Adult Paperback Books! How’s that for an epic Book-Lover’s Prize?!
THIS BOX OF BOOKS IS VALUED AT OVER $500! And this giveaway is open worldwide! Our first giveaway went to a winner in ROMANIA–and yes, we’re willing to pay the insane shipping on this oversized, overweight package to get the prize to WHOEVER wins!
Here's a sneak peek from a couple of the sponsors:
Adrenaline Rush by Cindy M. Hogan
As I hurtled toward my destination at 500 miles an hour, I pulled out a notebook, placed it on the shiny mahogany table in front of me, and scribbled a quick to-do list. Pick out an outfit. Get folders and notebooks. Switch into fourth period drama. I chewed on the end of my pen. Oh yeah—just one more thing. Get kidnapped.
According to my pre-mission briefing, kidnappings were up in the States by five percent over the last five years. The significance of which didn’t hit me until I found that the statistics for kidnappings had remained static for a good thirty years. The spike caught the attention of the FBI, and they put their best men on it. The problem? Right when they thought they’d discovered the pattern of the kidnappers, it seemed to change.
We hit some turbulence, and the force of it pulled me out of my reverie. I sucked in a deep breath, my hands resting on the soft leather side arms of my big comfortable seat as the Gulfstream jet jumped. I let the rollercoaster feeling wash over me like a wave, forcing myself to enjoy every last tingle. I only had this flight and a few hours tonight to assume my new thrill-seeking alias—the one that would lure the kidnappers and save the day before the pattern changed again. I might as well make the most of it.
 
Chosen Wolf (Curse of the Moon #2) Excerpt
The full moon inched higher in the night sky, growing bigger and brighter by the moment. One by one, the members of the pack ran behind the Moonhaven mansion to remove their clothes before they tore to shreds as their bodies turned from men to wolves. Howls sounded in the distance.
Toby squeezed my hand, holding my gaze. “Maybe this will be the month you can finally shift again, Victoria.”
Sharp pains ran through my body. My right hip cracked. I bit my tongue, trying not to cry out in pain. My skin felt on fire as fur tried to poke through, but couldn’t.
His face tensed, a pained look in his eyes. “Are you shifting?”
I shook my head. There was nothing normal about this, and it was proving to be more difficult and painful than my other months of un-shifts. Each one grew worse than the last.
Toby scooped me up, carried me inside, and helped me onto my bed. “I can’t keep my wolf inside any longer. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” I fought to keep my voice steady. Tears threatened.
He brushed hair from my face and kissed my forehead. “Ziamara’s upstairs sleeping. She said to wake her if you need anything.”
“I’ll be fine.” I grimaced, the pain nearly choking me.
Toby cried out and the sound of ripping fabric tore through the room. He spun around and dashed out the door. The back of his shirt had ripped, and fur poked through the split material.
I gripped a pillow, squeezing it as hard as I could to distract myself from the pain. It didn’t work, and the pillow exploded, filling the air with white feathers.
A loud pop sounded and then a horrific pain shot through my shoulders. I slumped down and screamed, unable to take the pain.
 


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Piper’s Price Audrey Greathouse


The Piper’s Price
Audrey Greathouse
(The Neverland Wars #2)
Published by: Clean Reads Publishing
Publication date: February 21st 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult
Peter is plotting his retaliation against the latest bombing. Neverland needs an army, and Peter Pan is certain children will join him once they know what is at stake. The lost boys and girls are planning an invasion in suburbia to recruit, but in order to deliver their message, they will need the help of an old and dangerous associate—the infamous Pied Piper.
Hunting him down will require a spy in in the real world, and Gwen soon finds herself in charge of locating the Piper and cutting an uncertain deal with him. She isn’t sure if Peter trusts her that much, or if he’s just trying to keep her away from him in Neverland. Are they friends, or just allies? But Peter might not even matter now that she’s nearly home and meeting with Jay again.
The Piper isn’t the only one hiding from the adults’ war on magic though, and when Gwen goes back to reality, she’ll have to confront one of Peter’s oldest friends… and one of his earliest enemies.
EXCERPT:
They found the forest’s hiking trail moments before breaking the tree line. “Where are we going, Peter?” He was heading toward a mobile home community next to the state park.
He continued to walk with confidence. His usual cocky stride looked surprisingly like the swagger of an ordinary teenage boy. “My friend lives here. Don’t worry. Don’t look like such a stranger here.”
She didn’t want to appear conspicuous, but Gwen was too baffled to help it. The unkempt lawns were boxed in by chain-link fences covered in varying degrees of rust. They passed a lawn littered with bicycles; on the other side of the gravel street, two different cars were parked on the lawn, clearly non-functional. Satellite dishes were on every trailer home. Despite all being painted differently, the track housing still managed to present a uniformity of depressing color.
Multiple houses had motorcycles out front or a dog milling around their yard. When she and Peter passed a pack of Rottweilers, the dogs ran up to the fence and began snarling until all the other dogs in the neighborhood were barking too. “Ignore it,” Peter advised her.
She was scared. This was not the sort of place she ever expected to visit with Peter. She didn’t trust his ability to protect her here. This wasn’t his world, but it wasn’t hers either. They were both out of their element. Peter just didn’t have the sense to realize it.
Winding down the gravel road, Gwen matched Peter’s pace almost step for step. They approached a blue-and-grey house. Like the others, it had wooden latticework around the bottom to help obscure the fact it didn’t have a foundation in the ground. The square house reminded Gwen of how she would take shoeboxes and try to turn them into homes for her dolls by decorating them. It was hard to fathom that she was walking up the plastic steps of the porch to knock on the door.
She waited, feeling her heartbeat in her throat, her toes, and everywhere besides her chest. Even the predictable noise of the door opening startled her.
A woman with a long, black braid and beige cardigan stood in the doorway. Gwen looked up at her, and then watched as the sharp features of her dark face dissolved into unadulterated shock.
“Peter?”
The startled woman ushered them in. She was just as uncomfortable with their presence in the trailer park as Gwen. Once inside, they stood in a living room full of old furniture, facing a kitchen with old electric appliances. There was no unity or romance to the orange recliner, chipped mixing bowl, off-white blender, dull toaster, and sunken couch. It was a bunch of old stuff that looked like it represented several decades of objects abandoned at Goodwill. The chingadera and bric-a-brac wasn’t any more cohesive: porcelain angles, an antique pot, a vase full of bird feathers, and a stopped clock made the place confusing and strange in the same way her grandmother’s house had been.
“What are you doing here?” she hissed, pulling her cardigan close and tossing her thick braid over her shoulder and out of her way. She had a shapeless housedress underneath the beige sweater, and a pair of black leggings insulating her legs as she stomped around, heavy-footed in her leather slippers. She looked comfortable, except for the unexpected guests who were putting her so ill at ease. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“I need your help,” Peter said.
“They’re still keeping tabs on me.”
“That’s why I came in disguise.”
“You’re being irresponsible. You’re jeopardizing us both, and Neverland to boot.”
“I took all the right precautions. This is important.” Hollyhock and Foxglove wrestled their way out of the pixie purse and came twinkling out now that they knew they were safely inside.
“You brought fairies here?” she exclaimed. She leaned down and grabbed a hold of his arm, forcing him to look her dead in her dark eyes. Gwen wanted to leave. This wasn’t a friend, not anymore. This was a grown-up, and unlike Antoine the aviator, she was not amused with Peter’s wartime antics.
“What happens if they figure it out and come to question me?”
Peter scoffed. “You won’t tell them.”
“What if they threaten to arrest me? They could put me away forever until I told them what they needed to know, and nobody here would stop them.”
Peter broke free of her hold with ease; she wasn’t actually trying to restrain him. “Preposterous,” he declared. “If they did that, you would sit, stone-faced and silent in your cell until they all died.”
“What if they beat me?”
“You’d take the blows as though you were made of rock, and you would not speak.” Peter seemed to disregard the question.
“What if they tortured me and stuck blades under my nails?” she demanded.
“Then you would not even scream, but stay silent as a stone!” Peter insisted, hopping up onto a wooden kitchen chair at her dining table, looking down at the woman.
“What if they bring knives and cut off my fingers, one at a time, until I told them how to find you?”
Peter yelled right back, “Then you would steal their knives and scalp them all like the redskin princess you are!”
Her anger slunk off her face and out of her shoulders. She shook her head, frowning as a sad laugh escaped her. She clung to her sweater, blinking back tears, until, at last, she flung her arms around Peter. Still on the chair, he had to bend down to return the embrace.
“Oh, Peter,” she muttered, unaware of the tears slipping off her smiling face. “Oh, Peter.”
“It’s good to see you, Tiger Lily.”


Author Bio:
Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at audreygreathouse.com.

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Legacy of the Mind by H.R. Moore







Legacy of the Mind
by
 H.R. Moore
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Release Date: January 2014

Summary from Goodreads:


Anita has never been ordinary, she’s stuck out like a sore thumb her entire life; not only can she see the energy of others, a rare skill, but she’s won every Body challenge she’s ever entered. So when the powerful, good looking Descendants, Marcus and Alexander, mysteriously arrive in Empire, her difference attracts and keeps their attention.

Once in Empire, the sudden death of ruling Body Descendant, Christiana, sets in motion a number of events; a quest for the treacherous Austin to find the girl Christiana had been looking for; a challenge where Anita stands out more vibrantly than ever before; a perilous dip in the world’s energy; and a dangerous belief among the people that they will never truly be free. Powerful factions soon form within the ruling elite and when a trusted friend and mentor reaches out to ask for Anita’s help, she has to make a choice; help her friend and betray the one she loves, or do nothing and watch the people starve.


Buy Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK


 

About the Author
Harriet was born in Germany in 1987, the family returning to the UK, to Dorset shortly afterwards. She lived there until she was 5, her grandfather teaching her the basics of cheating at cards and swindling chocolate, her mother starting to instil a (some would argue) unhealthy relationship with cake, and the neighbours demonstrating that some people don't understand cherry blossom is there to be picked, mixed with mint and water and sold as perfume.

Then there was Scotland; stealthy guinea pig breeding, riding horses, advanced cards, more cake, then to Devon and school in Exeter. She loved maths in the early years, but by the time she got to A Level, Sociology was her 
favourite subject, opening her eyes to things she'd never before considered, namely, nobody is really right, nobody is really normal and primary socialisation has a lot to answer for.

At the age of about 12, Harriet started rowing for Exeter Rowing Club. This quickly took over her life and before too long she was clad in lycra, training 6 days a week and competing at events around the country.


After finishing her A Levels, Harriet went to university in St Andrews, studying Philosophy for two years, then switching to Management. She was particularly interested in the 'people' elements of her course and especially the areas concerning how people create and react to change. After four very civilised years by the sea, she ventured to London, to foray into the strange world of insurance (surprisingly, more interesting than you might think). She worked as a Project Manager on large change programmes before founding her own consultancy in 2015.


Harriet now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband Chris and daughter Atia. When she isn't, writing, editing, eating, running around after her toddler, or imagining how much better life would be with the addition of a springer spaniel, she occasionally finds the time to make hats.

Author Links:








 
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Only a Duke Will Do by Tamara Gill


Only a Duke Will Do
Tamara Gill
(To Marry a Rogue #2)
Published by: Entangled Publishing
Publication date: February 20th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Without a Season, Lady Isolde Worthingham captured the Duke of Moore’s heart at a country dance. But on the eve of her wedding, a scandal that rocked the ton and sent her fleeing to Scotland alone and unwed, leaves her perfectly planned future in a tangle of disgrace and heartbreak.
Merrick Mountshaw, the Duke of Moore loathes the pitiful existence he hides from the ton. With a scandalous wife he never wanted, who flaunts her many indiscretions, life is a never-ending parade of hell. When the one woman he loved and lost returns to London, he knows he can no longer live without her.
But vows and past hurts are not easily forgotten. Love may not win against the ton when a too proper Lord and Lady play by the rules.
EXCERPT:
“I’m sorry you feel that way, but you cannot stop Isolde from marrying. She will marry one day. It may not be me, but it will be someone. And if the reports around London are correct, she is looking for a husband.”
“Damn you to hell.” Merrick left Wardoor, grabbed a half-filled bottle of whisky from the pavilion, and started toward the Italian Walk. He found a secluded grassy spot within the trees. The sweet-smelling scent floating on the breeze did little to lesson his ire.
Merrick clung to the tree branch above his head and fought not to snap it off, imagining it as Wardoor’s neck. He flung back a good portion of the whisky and welcomed the burn to his throat. How could his closest friend do this to him?
The thought of Isolde welcoming his attentions was like a physical blow.
Damn them. Damn him.
“Moore!”
It had always boded trouble when Isolde called him by his title. He turned, wanting and yet not wanting her here right at this moment. “My lady.”
She came up to him, standing but a few feet from his person, close enough to reach out and touch, to pull close and take what he desperately sought. And wished for.
“What do you think you’re doing, running off Wardoor from courting me?”
“He told you?” Merrick made a note to choke the bastard to death the next time he was in range to do so.
“Yes, he told me. After seeing you two trying to kill each other, in front of everyone, I might add, I asked him what you were about. Demanded to know, in fact.” She placed her hands on her hips, her perfect brow marred with a slight frown. Hell, she was beautiful. More beautiful than when he had met her at Cranleigh. “Now answer the question.”
“He’s my friend.”
She stood staring at him a while, before she slouched, as if gauging his meaning. “Merrick, you keep forgetting you married someone else. You have to let me go, if this is your struggle.”
It was his struggle. A constant gnawing on his soul that would never leave. “What if I do not want to?”


Author Bio:
Tamara is an Australian author who grew up in an old mining town in country South Australia, where her love of history was founded. So much so, she made her darling husband travel to the UK for their honeymoon, where she dragged him from one historical monument and castle to another.
A mother of three, her two little gentleman in the making, a future lady (she hopes) and a part-time job keep her busy in the real world, but whenever she gets a moment's peace she loves to write romance novels in an array of genres, including regency, medieval and paranormal.
Tamara loves hearing from readers and writers alike. You can contact her through her website, and sign up to follow her blog or newsletter.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cover reveal : Blindsided by Ava Ashley


Blindsided
Ava Ashley
Publication date: March 6th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Sports
Sex and spice, and everything cold as ice. That’s what Lennox Hardy is made of.
At least, those are the cold hard facts I discover when one night of indiscretion reads like a tabloid headline and I get knocked up by the womanizing bad boy and Sacramento Cougars’ quarterback…
…and he can’t even remember me.
It’s the story of a lifetime when I become wedged between identical twins with a shady past and an even shadier future as one brother plots and the other fights to gain control over a consuming rage.
The real story is…will love consume us first?
EXCERPT:
Carefully, I slip out from under the covers and drop to my knees on the floor. Maybe I can find some sort of evidence before he wakes up. Something that will appease Giselle, but not something that could hurt Lennox in any kind of way. I slowly turn and start to crawl away from the bed. Lennox rustles behind me. I freeze. I dare a slow head turn in his general direction.
The rise and fall of his chest is steady. Even. Rhythmic. A peaceful, contented smile curls along the edges of his mouth. For a half a second, I take a little bit of pride that I may be at least partially responsible for putting it there. He has one arm crooked, hand tucked beneath a tousled mop of sheepdog blonde. Long, golden lashes brush his high cheekbones as he sleeps undisturbed.
I exhale a heavy, but quiet, sigh of relief and continue my subtle egress. I get halfway across the room when I freeze in my tracks.
What am I doing? This isn’t me! What are you going to do? Dig through his trash? Root through his mail?
On hands and knees in the middle of the floor, I start to give myself a well-deserved mental ass chewing.
“Well, now there’s a position I could get used to.” Lennox’s voice teases in a sleepy drawl behind me. My head droops in embarrassment.
Lennox yawned like lion as he stretched his toned arms over his head. “So, I’ve heard of the ‘walk of shame’, but I gotta admit. I’ve never seen a ‘crawl of shame.’ Where are you off to?”
Alright, Sloane. Suck it up.


Author Bio:
Amazon bestselling author Ava Ashley may look like the girl next door, but her steamy romances reveal a very naughty side. Raised in small town Ohio and now living in Homer, Alaska it’s amazing that she hasn’t increased the average temperature in her area of the state with her steamy writing. And she loves reading new adult romance novels as much as she enjoys writing them.
Ava likes spending time outdoors and does a lot of hiking and cycling with her husband and four children. When she can get away on her own, she’ll often take pen and paper along, find a secluded spot and let the environment inspire her. Of course, that inspiration frequently results in characters tearing each other’s clothes off, but you would expect nothing less from a romance writer.

GIVEAWAY!
Ava has 3 SIGNED PRINT copies and 3 eCopies of Blindsided up for grabs right now.

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Anne Marie Citro - Under Her Wings - Virtual Book Tour


Contemporary Romance
Date Published: June 21, 2016

Wishing for death while living through hell, Gabriella is rescued off the rocks of a Scottish loch at the lowest moment of her life by the hot, humorous Edward and the sexy, staid Liam. The two men nurse the despondent woman back to health while teaching her how to pick up the pieces of her life. Both are captivated by her and vie for her attention.
Friendships are formed and secrets revealed. One man will become her lover, while the other becomes her best friend. Together, they have a past they cannot change, a present they must live through, and a future yet to be discovered. However, every time things appear to settle down for the trio, fate deals another blow, testing their trust and faith in each other and the love they have created.
Gabriella discovers the beauty of Scotland and life anew as she learns that trust is a two-way street that can either strengthen bonds or destroy relationships. Will she accept all that she learns or continue to believe she is betraying the memories she ran from?



Chapter 1
Please Take Me

Gabriella stared out at the stormy water of Loch Snizort, five minutes away from the town of Portree on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. She sat on the edge of a cluster of boulders that were half-submerged in the loch. The spray of the water mingled with the tears streaming down her face. She was soaked, shivering, and not even aware the daylight was escaping from the night.
“Goddammit! God, if I believed in you—which I don’t—I would ask you why! Why!” She sobbed. “Why leave me? Please take me. I have nothing.” Her stomach muscles ached from the constant, racking sobs she couldn’t control.
She had contemplated suicide, but the fear that God did exist had stopped her. If by any chance an afterlife did exist, by killing herself, she would be denied the privilege of entering Heaven, of holding her beloved boys in her arms again. She would be stuck in the hell that was her never-ending existence.
It had been years—three to be exact—since her world had been turned from light to dark. Everyone had said she needed to deal with her grief, and she had tried. Regardless, it hadn’t worked.
Besides, who the fuck were they to say what stage of grief she was dealing with? What if the next stage never came, and she never recovered? Then what? Did people actually believe it was a conscious choice not to move on? Was it depression? Abso-fucking-lutely! Did seeing a shrink help? No. Did talking about it help? No. Did medication help? No, because no one seemed to understand Gabriella’s pain.
She had lost her world through no fault of her own. It was marred not just by loss, but also because of the rumours surrounding her family’s deaths …
***
Edward awoke to the sound of haunting sobs. A chill went up his spine, thinking if ever there were such things as ghosts, that would definitely be the sound they made. The sound triggered déjà vu in the recesses of his mind, and he searched his memory for something he couldn’t put his finger on.
The curiosity of the lost memory and the wailing sound drove him up and outside to either help whatever was making that noise or put the thing out of its misery. His mind was so busy trying to place the sounds that were haunting him that he inadvertently forgot to give Liam, his guard and best friend, a heads-up that he was leaving.
Night had descended hours ago, and even with a shirt and heavy sweater on, the chill still seeped into his bones. Combine that with the relentless sound, he was uneasy.
He cautiously walked through the gardens connected to the side door of his suite, which were stunning in the summer yet now looked lifeless and sad. He was on alert because of who he was. People were forever trying to catch him in compromising situations and always tried to take a piece of him, befriend him, and not because of friendship, but for gain. However, late April wasn’t a popular time to visit; the temperature could be downright nasty, and the sun rarely shone in the summer, let alone spring.
The inn they had chosen for its solitude was named McIntyre Country House, a beautiful, old estate that looked lonely with its regal, black roof and white exterior walls. Phone reception and Wi-Fi were on again, off again, tending to be more off.
The inn only had one other guest, and the innkeeper had tried to cancel that reservation to accommodate Edward’s privacy, but he had been unable to reach the guest in time. Instead, the owner had asked Edward if it was okay to put them on the other side of the building with the assurance they wouldn’t disturb the men. Edward had hesitantly conceded.
Just as the moon moved out from behind the clouds, the light allowed him to see.
“Good God,” he gasped.
There was a wee woman crying—no, howling—on the boulders by the loch. She must have been hurt, maybe had gotten her leg caught between the rocks, and was now crying out for help.
Edward ran at top speed then stopped just a few feet from the boulders so as not to alarm the woman curled up and cradling herself.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “Miss, are you all right?”
No answer, but her sobbing turned softer.
“I don’t want to frighten you, but I am going to join you on the boulders. Miss, can you hear me?”
Still no answer.
He approached her with caution, thinking she might have been attacked, that a man or an animal had hurt her. However, something about the sound of her agony led him to believe it wasn’t a physical pain, but something much deeper.
When Edward got closer, all sounds stopped from the woman. That frightened him more than the thought of ghosts.
Did he dare touch her? What if this was another setup to make him look bad in the eyes of the world?
Edward pushed all negative thoughts aside. He had to help her.
He touched the woman’s cheek. Holy Mother of Mary, she was either frozen, or she had died before his eyes.
“Miss …? Please, are you okay?”
Bloody hell, I have to get her warm, he thought.
Edward bent down and checked for a pulse, breathing with a sense of relief when he realized she had one. Next, he checked her body for wounds, running his hand around her skull and down her neck then checking his hands continuously for blood. Nothing. Next, he ran his hands down each arm, her torso, and finally down each of her legs. She appeared not to be bleeding or, by quick assessment, didn’t have any broken bones. His military training had its rewards, one being he was efficient in field combat first-aid.
He gently lifted the woman into his arms, which wasn’t an easy task since she was soaked to the bone. He had a dilemma. His arms were full, and if he made any sound or someone spotted him carrying a hurt woman, the press would explode and crucify him in the tabloids.
Shaking off those thoughts, he progressed carefully across the boulders; carried her quickly through the gardens; and, in mere moments, was back at the inn.
He gently laid her down on the ground and searched for his key.
Damn it to hell! He had forgotten to grab it.
He felt it before he heard the words, a gun pressed against the back of his skull. Fuck, could this night get any worse?
“Take your hand off the door and back away from the woman.”
Edward released a thankful breath.
“Liam, man, it’s me, Edward,” he whispered.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Liam cursed. “I could have blown your fucking head off. What in God’s green earth are you doing out here? And where the bloody hell did that woman come from?”
“There is something wrong, very wrong, with her,” Edward answered. “I think she’s hurt.”
Liam secured his weapon in his chest holster, gave Edward the key to both suites, and then gently lifted the woman into his arms. He had to wonder if Edward had dragged her body up from Loch Snizort. Had she almost drowned, or had she been trying to commit suicide?
Whatever had happened to this woman, Liam couldn’t even fathom. She was soaked and frozen. They needed to get herinside, and Edward out of sight.
Liam walked through Edward’s suite and told him to unlock the connecting door into his own. Once there, Liam laid the woman on the chesterfield. Even in an emergency, he had enough sense to do his job and protect Edward first. He also had to consider any gossip that could surround Edward, especially if anyone knew there was an unconscious woman in their lodgings.
After re-establishing she had a pulse, first-aid 101 stated she needed to be warmed up as quickly as possible. Therefore, Liam instructed Edward to go into his closet and grab his workout clothes, consisting of sweat pants, a T-shirt, and a hooded sweatshirt. Liam also wanted towels.
Liam looked down at the girl and assessed her age to be mid- to late-twenties. She looked like a drowned rat with herlong, dark hair hanging in wet clumps around her delicate, tiny face. Her bone structure was fine and reminded him of a bird. Her skin was a grey colour, wrinkled, wet, and goose bumps covered every inch. Her lips were purple, and she had dark circles under her eyes that made her look even younger. Liam noticed all this as he started to remove her clothing.
He tried to give her as much dignity as he could, which wasn’t an easy task when the jeans were so wet they clung toher like a second skin. Regardless, he finally managed to peel the pants off along with a turquoise lace thong. The woman’s lady bits were hairless, much like the slags from porn movies.
Liam, feeling a little guilt and shame for noticing, and quickly averted his eyes, moving on to pull her coat and sweater off. As he did, he couldn’t help noticing she had on a matching turquoise bra that he removed to reveal her shapely breasts. What really knocked the breath out of his lungs were the stretch marks and scars that lay all over her lower belly. This young woman was someone’s mum, and it was his responsibility now to make sure she was reunited with her loved ones.
Why was she alone, wet, and nearly frozen to death? Where was her family?
Edward approached with the items Liam had requested, but before he reached the girl, Liam stopped him.
“Throw the clothes and wait until I cover her.”
“Really, Liam? Sod the fuck off. She isn’t the first female I have seen naked.”
“But she is someone’s mum, and if it were Raven, she would have been devastated by one strange man seeing hernaked, let alone two.”
At the mention of Raven, Edward stopped dead in his tracks, tossed the clothing, and turned his back. Liam very rarely mentioned Raven, so this meant something to him.
Liam worked quickly and efficiently to warm and dress the mysterious woman. Now all tucked in the chesterfield with his clothing swimming on her tiny frame and blankets wrapped around her, she appeared to be resting peacefully.
Liam turned to Edward. “Where did the lass come from? Who is she? And why did you not call me to give assistance?”
Edward painstakingly retold the tale of the last forty-five minutes, wondering why things always happened to him.
Liam wouldn’t call the authorities or Scotland Yard yet, not until they were certain the young woman wanted or needed police help. He wanted Edward far away from whatever was going on. Nevertheless, they would have to wait to get answers when she awoke.



Anne Marie Citro grew born and raised in the greater Toronto area of Ontario, Canada. She grew up in a large, loving family. Anne Marie is married to a very patient man. He is the love of her life. They have four very cool sons, and the girls they brought into their family that have become daughters of her heart. She has been blessed enough to finally have a beautiful granddaughter after four sons. She has her own personal gaggle of girlfriends, who enrich her life on a daily basis and make her laugh. Caesar Friday is her favourite day of the week. Caesars with the girls and date night with her hubby. She works with special-needs teenagers, that have taught her how to appreciate life and see it through gentler eyes. Anne Marie was encouraged by her husband to follow her life long dream to write. She loves the characters that take over imagination and haunts her dreams. She loves the arts and she has tried her hand at painting, wood sculpting, chainsaw carving, wood burning, metal and wire sculptures. Yes, her husband is a very patient man! Anne Marie is an avid reader and enjoys about three books per week. But nothing makes her happier then riding on the back of her husband's Harley and  throwing her arms out and feeling the wind race by. Anne Marie and her husband take a few weeks every year to travel to spectacular destination around the world. Anne Marie is excited and can't wait to see what the next chapter holds for her life.and enjoys about three books per week. 

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