Tag Archives: Sci-Fi

New Release Blitz: Breaking the Surface by Rebecca Langham

Breaking the Surface | Rebecca Langham

The Outsider Project #2

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 13, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 81,300

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Blurb

Alessia is an Outsider—a member of the not-quite-human community that has recently been released from their underground prison. Shortly after their liberation, Alessia is given an ultimatum: obey all the United Earth Alliance’s demands, or her mother will forever remain a hostage—a mother she’d believed dead for fifteen years. Reluctantly, she agrees, though she has no idea what those demands may be or how she will balance her obligations to the UEA with her responsibilities to her people and her family.

As the UEA tightens its grip on humans and Outsiders alike, it becomes clear that meaningful social change will not be possible without a revolution. Alessia and her peers embark on a mission to discover just how far the government is willing to go to maintain their monopoly on power.

What Alessia and her comrades discover, however, goes much deeper than they’d ever anticipated. Who are the Outsiders, really? What secrets of their destiny lay hidden within a top-secret space station? And why are the Outsiders linked to an emerging disease the UEA seems desperate to keep secret? As they delve deeper, it isn’t only Alessia’s identity that will be called into question, but the fate of the entire planet.

Excerpt

Breaking the Surface
Rebecca Langham © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Lydia wanted so badly to pace, to burn away her fear one exaggerated step at a time, but there was nowhere to go, no floor space to haunt. The Camp had been a sanctuary for them all, keeping her friends safe from unwanted attention since they’d taken their first steps as free people, but now it suffocated her. It may have been off-the-grid, but the complex was also small. Too small.

Given the number of people in the control room, she had to settle for crossing her arms over her stomach and gritting her teeth. But even then, she couldn’t silence the dissenting voice in her head. Something wasn’t right. Why would the United Earth Alliance be demanding a meeting so forcefully?

The UEA had been quiet in the two weeks since the Outsiders relocated from the colonies, granting an eerie yet welcome period of radio silence. Now they’d not only made contact, but threatened legal action if Alessia and the Green Hats didn’t acquiesce to an immediate communication with one of the government’s top advisers.

Lydia’s stomach churned.

As though reading her thoughts, Alessia slid her hand into Lydia’s and squeezed her fingers. Lydia forced a weak smile as she turned. “I don’t trust them.”

Alessia’s face—which, more than ever, reminded Lydia of a finely carved alabaster statue— softened.

“Of course not,” she replied, her tone sympathetic yet firm. “But it may not be wise to ignore the request. This could be nothing more than an administrative issue and I don’t want to invite trouble, not so soon after the release.”

“I don’t think you can ignore it, Ly-dee.” Helen swivelled gently in an office chair, forearms resting on her thighs as she considered her daughter. After all those years without Helen’s presence, hearing that fruity voice still managed to surprise her from time to time. Lydia had believed her mother to be dead for years. Finding out she hadn’t died, but rather become a kind of political hacker, was unsettling to say the least.

Life had changed so much in the last nine months. Alessia did not remain trapped beneath the ground, and Helen had re-emerged from the void.

No longer living with her politician father, even Lydia had been partially freed from the web of her old insecurities and frustrations. Sometimes though, it seemed like those frustrations had dissolved only to be replaced by a whole slew of new concerns. It had been a lot to process.

Helen sighed, a little too dramatically. She reached for a cup of tea she’d left cooling on a nearby bench and cradled it between her hands. “We knew they’d get their claws back in sooner or later.”

“Two weeks,” Lydia huffed. “They only waited two weeks. Please can’t we refuse?” The frustration in her voice exposed Lydia’s raw emotional state in a way she wasn’t comfortable with. Until recently, she’d worked hard to present a subdued version of her thoughts to the outside world. With such a prominent father, she’d had to if she had any hope of protecting herself from those who sought to exploit her. Whether it be to splash her personal life about the goss-channels, or to pressure her to influence her father regarding some political issue or another, there had been no shortage of people trying to use Lydia. It had been a kind of self-preservation to surround herself in the dark veil she’d become enveloped in, making it harder for people to really see her. But then Alessia had burst into her life, a quiet yet powerful blaze of light.

Alessia and the other Outsiders had reached right into her and reawakened feelings and sensations she’d muted long ago.

“Is refusing a good idea?” Peleus looked up from where he sat cross-legged on the floor a couple of metres away from Helen. Peleus had been one of her earliest and most faithful followers and friends, embracing her efforts to slowly change culture in the colony by sharing positive stories and messages with the children. “They’re providing accommodations and integration assistance to the four thousand Os who’ve had their entire existence uprooted. Not taking their meeting might give the UEA reason to withdraw support.” As Alessia’s confidante, Peleus’s presence always lent a certain sense of thoughtful tranquillity to a situation.

Alessia pulled Lydia closer until their bodies pressed together, banishing the air between them and soothing Lydia’s nerves a little. They’d barely had time to catch their breath since Release Day. When they had finally pushed their way through the obscenely large crowd of onlookers in Thracia after the ceremony, they’d boarded an air-transport and come directly here to the Green Hat headquarters in Quadrant Four.

Affectionately known by its inhabitants as the Camp, the secure underground complex supported a community of approximately a hundred people. Every one of them had dedicated their lives to undermining the UEA’s ever-worsening abuses of its own laws.

The main control room at the Camp was capacious and circular, with curved desks and ergonomic chairs that hugged the wall. Each workstation offered a user access to the G-Hat virtual network, but to connect with the outside world, one had to utilise the cylindrical, glassy tower in the centre of the room. A reflective pillar when inactive, the hub featured a projector that sent holograms into the middle of the tower as required.

The hub worked much the same way as any Hive wall, but with some modifications helping to prevent hacks into the rest of their system. It was also perfect for situations in which more than one person needed to participate in a communication link. Lydia believed the entire setup was nothing short of spectacular. No doubt they’d been able to develop the untraceable consoles only because of whatever financial support the MacNay Corporation had been providing.

Still, Alessia and Lydia had traded one isolated abode for another. At least this one wasn’t full of protectors or tainted by decades of oppression. Greys had been replaced with blues, locked doors with open spaces, and obstacles with possibilities.

The dormitory was unfortunate, though. Each night, the enticing heat of Alessia’s body rejuvenated Lydia, yet they were acutely aware of the other people sleeping nearby, and so Lydia had accepted the fact they’d have no privacy for the foreseeable future.

In truth, she experienced relief and disappointment in equal measure. They’d only spent a few weeks getting to know one another in the Q4C, after a month of silent glances in crowded corridors. The six months of separation following Lydia’s departure had done little to quiet Lydia’s fears her connection to Alessia wasn’t as strong as she’d thought, that perhaps she’d imagined the whole thing given the immediacy of their attraction. Slowing things down, being with one another without expectation, could be the best way for Lydia to validate the tether between the two of them.

The rest of the refugees had been relocated to government-sponsored accommodations in the major cities of Thracia and New Sydney. Only Peleus and Fermi knew exactly where to find Alessia, and Lydia wanted it to stay that way for the moment, regardless of Alessia’s initial protestations.

The entire world knew Alessia’s face now, and there was no way to predict how she’d be received by the mainstream population or what her own people might expect from her as their de facto leader. Leader.

Lydia rested the side of her face against Alessia’s bicep. Her stomach clenched as she capitulated. “Peleus is right, isn’t he? We should hear them out.”

Alessia kissed the top of Lydia’s head, then nodded. “Yes.” She looked at Lydia’s mother. “Helen, I’m ready.”

Don’t miss Book #1 in the The Outsider Project series, Beneath the Surface, available from NineStar Press

Meet the Author

Rebecca Langham lives in the Blue Mountains (Australia) with her partner, three children, and menagerie of pets. A Xenite, a Whovian and all-round general nerd, she’s a lover of science fiction, comic books, and caffeine.

When she isn’t teaching History to high schoolers or wrangling children, Rebecca enjoys playing broomball and reading.

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My Best Books of 2019…

…okay so it’s more a round-up of the books that stood out for me this year as I’ve read almost 400 and (while that’s a load down on the last two years) I was lucky to not have many ones I failed to connect with.

Sooo, in no particular order at all, honestly, there isn’t an order, it’s the ones which sprung into my head and stayed there, I give you My Best Books of 2019 (and quite a few bonus festive entries at the end).

TMAABB-f900Lily Morton’s The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings blew me away. Totally different from one of my favourite authors, a paranormal romance in the beautiful surrounds of the City of York.

Tal Bauer’s Soul On Fire was stunning. Especially considering the background to the book, which was written in a month and based on reader suggestions for all aspects of the narrative.

Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott’s Ignite saw one of my favourite pairs of authors taking another step in the Unbreakable Bonds universe and giving me my fave MM book boyfriend Rowan Ward creating more Mayhem with boyfriend Noah.

Tibby Armstrong’s Taste The Dark I was gutted when Random House cancelled Tibby’s Boston After Dark series, so the news she was going to self-publish book two in the trilogy was wonderful. The book itself lived up to all expectations. Now I really, really need Nyx and Isander please Tibby 😁 ♥

Allie Therin’s Spellbound a new author for me and a wonderful debut historical novel set in an alternative 20s Prohibition Era New York. Prince of Killers Ebook

I could have gone for a number of Layla Rayne books but I picked Prince Of Killers for the brilliant opener to what turned out to be a fabulous assassin/Government agent enemies to lovers romantic suspense.

RJ Scott’s Single, book one in her new series focusing on single dads was an absolute triumph for me and catapulted its warmth and its compelling characters to the top of my list of favourites from her.

Spicy, steamy, beautifully and unashamedly erotic, I absolutely loved Roe Horvat’s Adam Only.

Jackie Keswick’s step into fantasy land resulted in a triumphant Healing Glass, one of my absolute favourite reads of all of 2019 with its well written and detailed world building .

Perennial favourite Lucy Lennox broke my heart (and then fixed it again) when she finally wrote Doc and Grandpa’s romance in Wilde Heart. I’d been waiting for this since we first met this bunch of amazing characters, and it didn’t disappoint.

Close-up portrait of a handsome young man with brave manly face.

Cara Dee challenged trope expectations with If We Could Go Back and smashed through the “no cheating” rules with a stunningly emotional tale of a romance long in the building.

Charlie Adhara hit her third 5* rating from me for her Big Bad Wolf series with book three, Thrown To The Wolves,  which saw Cooper and Park’s relationship strengthen as they investigated more whodunits.

Easily the most brilliantly named book on my list, Lyn Gala’s Earth Fathers Are Weird was an original, fabulously executed Sci-Fi mPreg alien romance and I utterly adored it.

Davidson King provided an epic closure to her fabulous Haven Hart Universe with Poe’s tale and Raven’s Hart was a perfect way to sign off on this romantic suspense saga.

Kat and Agnes Merikan brought their insanely brilliant paranormal motorbike club series to an end with In The Arms Of The Beast, which saw the Kings of Hell MC battling demonic entities in this jaw-dropping wft-ery of everything!

Elin Gregory soothed my historical romance loving heart with book two of The Carstairs Affairs, Midnight Flit in which Miles and Briers are dropped into Europe at the start of the madness leading up to the Second World War in the early 1930s.

Redeem Cover

My favourite cover model turned up again on Christina Lee’s Redeem (and yes, I will use his picture again exactly for that reason!) with a redemption arc romance which pleased every bit of my aching heart.

With Prince of Death (co-written with W.M. Fawkes) Sam Burns cemented her place as one of my absolute favourite paranormal/urban fantasy authors. I could have picked any of the trilogy but the opener set the scene for what was to come perfectly.

And, speaking of urban fantasy, next up is the bloody brilliance that was Hailey Turner’s All Souls Near & Nigh. Book two in what I believe will be a six (or more) book series, this one took the reader on an epic ride into South America with the Aztec Gods – Quetzalcoatl and Tepoztēcatl, the Mexican/Catholic death cult Goddess/saint Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte, as well as the Native American trickster God Coyote or Altse Hashke.

Epic fighting was on the cards in my next pick, Rachel Reid’s Heated Rivalry, an insanely hot enemies to lovers ice hockey sports romance featuring an All American dreamboat and his Russian rival in the arena.

Back to the urban fantasy/paranormal for this second instalment in MA Grant’s excellent series The Darkest Court. The Marked Prince played around with the Seelie/Unseelie Courts and Irish mythology for a superb slow burning but compelling tale.

Beth Bolden made me cry with Terrible Things, the first in her rock band series and a beautiful reconciliation, second chances romance which is well-worth a read. It doesn’t follow the usual tropes.

After BenAnd Con Riley also had the tears flowing with the divine After Ben, first in her Seattle Stories series, which is being re-published. It remains one of my favourite books dealing with moving on after the death of a long-term partner.

Next up. Garrett Leigh went paranormal and OMG it was EPIC. Like seriously good, a new interpretation of shifters and werewolf society and full of the usual Britishness which typifies her work. Grab your copy of Fated Hearts if you’ve not read it yet.

And while we’re on with the werewolves, Annabelle Jacobs turned to them once again for her latest series, absolutely different from the Regent’s Park Pack series which is one of my all-time favourite shifter works. Escape was daringly different, menacing and not entirely unlike the political shitstorm occuring in the UK right this minute.

Copy of GentlemanWolf_300Joanna Chambers also gave me werewolves, but with a glorious historical twist and a bit of a cliffhanger in the first of her duology Gentleman Wolf. Set in 18th Century Scotland, it’s an epic tale of mystery, heartache, adventure, and suspense with a seriously nasty villain and a stunning cast of characters.

Merlin and Lancelot reincarnated (which bizarrely is also the plot of one of the books I’m writing atm!) take the stage in Victoria Sue’s Twelfth Night, which plays not only on Shakespeare’s title but with Arthurian mythology to craft a thrilling urban fantasy.

My last recommendation before I get to the Festive Recommendations is Kasia Bacon’s ridiculously brilliant in less than 28 pages Rago. A dragon shifter fated mates snippet set in her excellent Order Universe.

~

This is by no means my only exceptional reads of the year. I could also add about another 50 books but then we’d be having to scroll down for days.

I could include Aimee Nicole Walker’s Wicked Games, which might be my favourite book of hers so far full stop (although I’m massively falling for Locke and Key in her latest series so who knows!)

I could also include Nicholas Bella, Lane Hayes, Felice Stevens, Keira Andrews, Rick R Reed, K.c. Wells, V.L. Locey (both individually and with RJ Scott), I want to put Annabeth Albert on here (she’s on my Christmas recommendations I’ve nicked from RJ – keep reading) along with Eli Easton.

Sneaking on would also be E.J. Russell’s fab Supernatural Selection series, May Archer,  Eden Finley, Neve Wilder, Nora Phoenix, and K.M. Neuhold. I’d go on but then I’d forget someone and I’d be annoyed and worried I’d upset them.

So just clicky here and read all my reviews for all the amazing authors who’ve delighted me with books during 2019.

And let me just say a huge thank you to all the authors who’ve entrusted me with their ARCs to beta, proof or review during 2019.

It’s been a pleasure and a privilege. Now, onto the first month of the new year!

~

Festive Romance Recommendations

I think I may just totally cheat here and point readers to RJ Scott’s most excellent Facebook post on her favourites 😁

You can find that here: https://www.facebook.com/author.rjscott/posts/2578736988876034

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New Release Blitz: Essex Colony by Lia Cooper

Essex Colony | Lia Cooper

The Moon Mirror #1

Essex Colony Banner.png

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 30, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 36600

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, LGBT, mutations, scientists, space travel, moon colonists, AI, shifter, interspecies, alien influence

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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EssexColony-500.jpg

Blurb

It’s been 227 days since Essex Colony’s last transmission…

Dispatched to the surface of Essex Prime and tasked with discovering what happened to the colony, Doctor Soran Ingram discovers that most of the colonists are dead and the surviving Executive Officer—Aline Aster—has turned into a ravening wolf-beast. The human survivors claim the XO and her Lunaran fellows went mad and killed everyone, but Soran has her doubts.

Following Aster’s testimony, as well as clues left behind, Soran embarks on a fact-finding mission to retrace the colony’s last steps before disaster struck.

She’ll soon discover more than uncertainty lurks in the dark spaces of the world.

Excerpt

Essex Colony
Lia Cooper © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Federal Standard Days since Last Essex Colony Transmission…227

Essex Colony, Location: Essex Prime/Equatorial 10S, Greenwich Meridian

06:55 AM, Colony Time

Soran stood at the forward port viewing station on board the starship Emery and watched Essex Prime spin slowly below her, a bright blue and green marble hanging in the dark of space. Technically speaking, the planet bore only a superficial resemblance to Earth, but she could see the appeal it must have had for the Earther colonists who had signed on to colonize it for the company. In her time working aboard the Emery, she had learned the importance of superficiality for her Earther colleagues. Something as simple as a color was often enough to evoke an emotional resonance for them.

They had picked Essex Prime for colonization because someone in the company had nicknamed it Earth 3—not to be confused with Earth 2, a planet locally know as L’n’ze-q24—but Soran wondered what they would find when they went down there now. Two hundred and twenty-seven days since since the colony’s last official transmission plus no sign of comms signals since the Emery crossed into local communication range combined into an anxious loop in Soran’s lesser subroutines. Fear, she realized, fear of what they would find.

Essex Prime wouldn’t be the first colony lost to catastrophic failure, whether from some unforeseen natural disaster or a breakdown in the colony’s equipment, or from a dangerous local agent that went unnoticed in the initial planetary surveys. There were a hundred things that could go wrong this far from galactic center.

The ship’s computer beeped at her through the ship’s network to remind her she was expected on the airlock deck in fifteen minutes.

She was dressed in her ground suit and had her go bag packed at her feet—just the essentials. The ship’s sensors hadn’t shown anything out of the ordinary, besides a lack of collected life signs large enough to belong to the colonists. This trip was intended as a brief scouting mission to ascertain the situation on the ground.

<<Contact. Doctor Ingram, did you receive your departure reminder?

Soran shouldered her go bag and acknowledged the computer’s check-in. Externally, she kept her expression blank as she made her way down to the airlock. That fear feeling squeezed at her regulatory system. If she were inclined to hope, she told herself, she’d hope that the colony’s comms equipment had simply suffered a mechanical breakdown and the colonists would greet them on the ground, all accounted for—all of them, but especially one Lunaran in particular. But even as the idea flickered through one of her lesser processes, another part of Soran wanted to shunt it away where it couldn’t hurt her to be disappointed. If she could only match her interior to the smooth expressionless surface of her exterior, then whatever they found couldn’t make that fear feeling worse.

But her interior felt riotous, clenching and twisting tight as her boots crossed the threshold, loud on the docking bay floor. The transport ship awaited her along with the two dozen security and medical personnel scheduled to fly down for the recon.

It had been nearly three years since she’d last seen Aline Aster, but Soran’s memory banks were nearly perfect—far superior to her Earther counterparts’—and she could recall with crisp clarity the feel of the Lunaran’s skin under her cutaneous sensors, the taste of her mouth, the sting of her teeth against Soran’s breasts, and the cadence of her voice winding down as she fell asleep still murmuring the words of a bedtime story from her homeworld. What would it feel like if Soran disembarked on Essex Prime to…nothing. No signs of life, no colony, no Aster waiting with a sheepish explanation for their silence?

But Security Chief Ryan was gesturing at her impatiently to board the transport vessel and Soran did the only thing she could do with this reductive thought string—she cut and pasted it into its own file and then buried it deep below her internal checklist for the mission. They were minutes away from an answer one way or another.

Or more precisely, fourteen hours later, she’d be staring into the malformed face of an answer while that fear in her chest crushed her heart into the sliver of a black hole.

Soran didn’t have a single word in her mouth as she stood next to SC Ryan outside the detention cell, staring in at what remained of XO Aster. Soran had to think of her—it like that or she was afraid the anguish would overwhelm her. She’d never lost someone with a personal—and emotional—connection to her before, and she wasn’t sure that her software had been properly programmed to handle that sort of emotional upheaval. The last thing she could afford to do would be to lose herself here on the ground, especially in front of SC Ryan.

“They found…it lurking around the edge of the forest. At the backside of the emergency compound,” SC Ryan said in a deep, bland voice, his eyes heavy on XO Aster’s hunched form. “Took enough electricity to stop an animal twice as big to subdue and facilitate capture.”

Soran swallowed around the bile in her throat. “And you want me to…?”

Ryan glanced at her finally, with a scowl, and said, “I don’t— Chelsea wants you to find out if it can talk. Find out why it killed the settlers. If there are any other Lunarans running around out there still. Probably a waste of time, but seeing as there’s nothing else for you to do down here, I figure you can’t hurt anything. Maybe ask it if this was their plan all along.”

“Who? The Lunarans? You don’t really think this was intentional?” Soran angled her face so she could glimpse Ryan’s expression without looking at him directly. She knew it unnerved the Earthers when she stared at them too closely.

“From what the survivors have told us—” he began.

“XO Aster is a survivor,” Soran insisted, choosing to ignore that part where she showed little resemblance to her former shape and sentience.

SC Ryan snorted and thrust a thick, calloused finger at the barrier separating them from the detention cell. “That’s a fucking monster,” he said.

“If that were true then what is the point of me—”

“I’m getting tired of your attitude, Ingram,” SC Ryan interrupted. He shot her a narrow-eyed look, a quick up and down that took in her entire person and always made Soran feel like a bug under a microscope—even if the Security Chief had probably never touched a microscope before. “You’re the ship shrink. Ask your questions, see what information you can get out of it, and report to Chelsea. Those are your orders. Don’t think about it too much; that’s not what they pay you for. Just collect the fucking data.”

Soran watched him leave, the door shutting behind him with an ominous clang that seemed to resonate in her perfectly shaped enamel plated teeth. She stared down at her boots, straight and shoulder-width apart, holding her up while her processor counted the individual beats of her circulatory system. A minute passed, or what more felt like a quarter of an hour, before a hoarse voice scraped across the air between her and the detention cell.

“S’not safe.”

A shiver raced down her spine. Soran looked up and met Aster’s all too familiar eyes, her circulatory regulator thumping painfully against the metal ribs of her geneered skeleton.

About the Author

Lia Cooper is a twenty-something native of the Pacific Northwest, voracious reader, pop-culture addict, and writer. She cultivated an early interest in writing through fandom and completed writing her first full length novel with the help of NaNoWriMo.

In the years since, she’s dabbled in catering, barista-ing, and working as a pastry chef before finally returning full time to the thing she loves most: storytelling.

When she’s not glued to Scrivener, Lia enjoys playing video games with friends and reviewing books for her booktube channel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

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Release Blitz: Starlight by Lisa Henry

Starlight | Lisa Henry

Dark Space Series #3

StarLight RDB Banner.jpg

MM Sci-Fi

Release Date: 01.12.19

Cover Designer: Mayhem Cover Creations

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/darkspace-starlight

Starlight

Blurb

Brady Garrett is back in space, this time as an unwilling member of a team of humans seeking to study the alien Faceless and their technology. It’s not the first time Brady’s life has been in the hands of the Faceless leader Kai-Ren, and if there’s one thing Brady hates it’s being reminded exactly how powerless he is.

Although dealing with the enigmatic Faceless might actually be easier than trying to figure out where he stands with the other humans on board, particularly when one of them is his boyfriend’s ex.

Cameron Rushton loved the starlight once, but being back on board the Faceless ship forces him to confront the memories of the time he was captured by Kai-Ren, and exactly how much of what was done to him that he can no longer rationalize away. Cam is used to being Brady’s rock, but this time it might be him who needs Brady’s support.

This time Brady is surrounded by the people he loves most in the universe, but that only means their lives are in danger too.

And when Kai-Ren’s fascination with humanity threatens the foundations of Faceless society, Brady and Cam and the rest of the team find themselves thrust into a battle that humans have very little hope of winning, let alone surviving.

*Starlight can be read as a standalone but probably words better with knowledge of the first two books in the series.

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Excerpt

That night I woke up with a start.

Cam made a soft noise beside me, and kept sleeping.

I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bunk. The floor was damp and sticky against my bare feet. I didn’t care. Barely noticed it anymore. I just reached under the bunk and dragged my footlocker out. Opened it and found my cigarettes.

“Bad dream?” Chris Varro asked in a low voice from the bunk on the opposite wall.

I hadn’t known he was awake.

I lit my cigarette. “Hot dream,” I lied.

“Was I in it?”

“Fucker.”

He laughed quietly.

I’d had my fair share of wet dreams about Chris. And they weren’t just when I’d shared dreams with Cam. Pretty sure I’d come up with some all on my own. And I wish I could say that was the weirdest thing about my life, but it barely made the list. And if it was weird for me to be sharing a room with my boyfriend’s ex, how fucking weird was it for him to see us together? At least he didn’t try to pull rank on me anymore, and I didn’t try to stab him in the throat with a screwdriver. We were a work in progress, Chris and me.

Chris’s bunk creaked as he rose to his feet. He walked to the doorway, and beckoned me to follow.

I did.

“Those damn bunks,” he said, rolling his shoulders as he led me down the slope of the corridor towards Doc’s medbay. “I don’t know how you and Cam can fit in a single one.”

“We make it work,” I said. Cam slept in the bunk next to mine in theory, but in practice we usually ended up wedged close together in the one. I wondered if Chris was jealous. I would have burned with it if I’d had to see Cam with another guy. It was bad enough I’d seen it in his memories.

Chris regarded me silently for a moment, a sort of half smile on his lips, and I remembered—I felt—exactly why Cam had fallen in love with him. Chris was a good-looking guy, but more than that, he was smart and he was ambitious, but not in the way a lot of military guys were. Chris didn’t give a fuck about rank or prestige or how many medals they gave him. He was driven by something outside of all that. Chris wanted to unravel all the mysteries of the universe. No wonder that Cam, chasing starlight, had fallen so easily into his orbit.

They’d been perfect together, at least for a while.

“I like you, Brady,” he said. He reached forward and plucked my cigarette from between my fingers. Took a drag on it, and gave it back. “You don’t like me, but I like you.”

“You steal my fucking cigarettes and of course I don’t like you.”

His smile widened. “We both know that’s not the reason why.”

I shrugged, because there was no point denying it.

“You’re good for him,” Chris said at last. Glowing platelets slid past in the wall behind him and illuminated his face for a moment. “You’re good for each other.”

“I know we are,” I said, trying not to bristle, because I couldn’t quite read him. I couldn’t tell if he was being friendly, or if he was being a condescending prick and implying Cam and I needed his fucking approval or something. Usually I thought the worst of people and usually I was right, but lately I was trying to, I don’t know, be a better person or some bullshit. I at least wanted to set a better example for Lucy, so that she didn’t have to look at me and then look at all these other guys and wonder why I wasn’t like them. I didn’t want her to like them more than me because they weren’t angry and afraid all the time.

Chris stared at me for a long moment, and I wasn’t sure what he was looking for. “Whole universe out here,” he said at last, “just like Doc says, and you’re still living in your own head.”

“So what if I am? No fucking law against it.”

His mouth turned up in a faint smile. “Don’t forget I’ve been inside your skull, Brady. How do you even stand it? It’s so loud in there.”

I blew smoke in his face and ignored the way my stomach twisted.

He smiled again and shook his head. When he spoke his voice was tempered with sympathy, and that’s what made me hate him the most. “Whole universe out here, Brady, right in front of your eyes, and you’re still too afraid to look at it, aren’t you?”

“Fuck you,” I said. “I’m going back to bed.”

I left the asshole standing there, wreathed in the pulsating lights of the Faceless ship.

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About The Author

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

Lisa has been published since 2012, and was a LAMBDA finalist for her quirky, awkward coming-of-age romance Adulting 101.

Social Media

Website: lisahenryonline.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisa.henry.1441

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaHenryOnline

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5050492.Lisa_Henry

Instagram: lisa_henry_author

Email: lisahenryonline@gmail.com

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Blog Tour: Consorts of the Red King by Eden Winters

Consorts of the Red King | Eden Winters

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Release Date: 26.10.19

Cover artist: Perie Wolford

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Blurb

In deepest space the ruthless Federation lays waste to one rebel colony after another, leaving comrades-in-arms Van Orskey and Tayn Kassik without family, without a home, and without hope.

With nothing left but each other, they run contraband and smuggle fugitives from the safety of their ship, the Cormorant—with the occasional clandestine mission for the rival Coalition thrown in. Their heists have not gone unnoticed, though even the bounty on their heads doesn’t prevent them from being a thorn in the enemy’s side at every opportunity.

Pissing them off? Big mistake.

From the day of his birth, Prince Jorvik of Akiak learned duty, wisdom, and honor from his father, leaving him ill-equipped to withstand betrayal by his Federation-puppet uncle. He has no love for the greedy off-worlders who plunder his world’s natural resources and enslave his people. To defeat his foe, he needs the cunning, fearlessness, and touch of treachery only outlaws can offer.

Two off-world mercenaries make unlikely partners in Jorvik’s quest for vengeance, but the more he learns of them, the more common ground he discovers. In each other’s arms they find passion, heat, and maybe, a reason for living—until their common enemy threatens to tear them apart.

To survive, they must take on the corrupt Federation.

And win.

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Excerpt

How dare they assault the king’s son! Where were Father’s advisors? He demanded answers.

Jorvik’s anger crumbled when a familiar figure swept through the door. His heart seized.

His uncle? A moment of relief hit. Uncle would help him.

He stopped himself from stepping from the closet.

What was… The guards turned toward his uncle.

Why was Uncle smiling? He looked so… satisfied, patting a blood-spattered guard’s shoulder. What…

Dear Queen of the Stars. Cold fear captured him in an icy grasp.

Jorvik grabbed the wall to keep from falling, and bent double, struggling to breathe. Air. He needed air.

No help. All alone. Six armed guards.

One Jorvik.

He must get to his father.

What could he use as a weapon? As quietly as possible, he rifled through his clothes, tossing away a belt. No, wouldn’t do. A pin? A boot? His eyes fell to the sex toy he’d dropped on the floor. One kick hid the object beneath a pile of silk.

He’d been taught to fight, more for exercise than self-defense, with a staff, knives, but mostly with his hands. While he’d bested his teacher a few times, he’d not fare well against so many well-trained guards.

Knives! The blade of his dagger glinted from the pile of clothing he’d left on the floor. A grinning man picked up the gleaming blade and slipped it into his waistband. What? No! His father gave him the dagger.

Why hadn’t he hidden more weapons in his room?

His blood boiled, instincts screaming, “Attack! Attack!” He nearly added his own scream, of frustration. No. To do so meant sure death.

He crept away from the door, though not far enough to escape the sight of Sika and Gris, mouths open and eyes staring in his direction.

Just a few moments ago they’d been alive, loving…

His uncle spat on the robed body on the floor. Please let him not see me, please let him not see me. All the while Jorvik’s brain accused, “Coward!”

The dim greenish glow of the crystals gave his uncle an eerie, monstrous look as he crouched down by Gris’s body. “He’s just a whore, but a pretty one. Such a shame he chose the wrong bed to come to.”

One of the guards laughed.

Whore? How dare the traitor call sweet Gris an off-worlder insult! Jorvik’s hard swallow didn’t lessen the burning in this throat. These were his father’s own guards. What were they about? And what were they doing with his uncle?

Worst still, what was his uncle doing?

“Take them! Burn their bodies!” his uncle barked.

The men split up, one each at their victims’ heads and feet, lifting them from the floor, with two trailing behind.

Burning their bodies? No. They must be taken to the caves to join Akiak’s cycle of life, amidst chanting and prayers to the queen of the stars. To be burned…

One guard stopped, glancing toward the closet door. The breath caught in Jorvik’s throat. Please don’t see me. Please don’t see me.

“Come! Now!” his uncle ordered from the hallway.

With one last sweep of the room, the guard spun on his heel and followed the carnage, leaving the door ajar.

A trail of red followed the procession out the door.

Jorvik collapsed against the wall, head in his hands. His heart still pounded. Try as he might he couldn’t get his breathing under control. Nothing made sense. Surely, he slept and wine-induced dreams haunted him.

More cries sounded from the hallway.

He couldn’t cower here. Father! He had to find his father.

Countless lessons drove his actions. At the time he’d thought the caution ridiculous. Who would dare challenge the king?

Yet, his father insisted he train for battle, an ancient art practiced by rulers and guards.

Though he wanted to run to his father straightaway, he’d do as he’d been told and plan for the worse.

Jorvik closed his eyes, opening them again a moment later when visions of two dead men appeared on his eyelids.

Choking down his horror, he forced himself to stand and grabbed a travel case. His hands shook. He must pack quickly, but taking too much might slow him down. These were his things, by the mother. He’d every right to them.

The urge to forget all else and run straight to his father nearly overwhelmed him, but with a threat to the family, his father would send him into hiding. They’d been through the drill. Someone might plot to harm the heir, but who would dare move against the king?

His guards would keep him safe. Wouldn’t they?

Jorvik’s chest ached at the thought of the two dead men. He couldn’t help them now, but he could help others.

If he lived. Living meant taking only what he truly needed.

About The Author

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You will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit. She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings.

Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written twenty gay romance novels, has won several Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist. Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and the backs of motorcycles.

Social Media

Website: edenwinters.com

Email: edenwinter@gmail.com

Twitter: edenwinters1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EdenWinters

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Release Blitz: Taking Shield – the Complete Series | Anna Butler

Taking Shield – The Complete Series | Anna Butler

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Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Universal Link

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Hate buying books in a series until the whole thing is done? Then check out the Rainbow Award-winning Taking Shield series, just released as an e-book boxed set.

Not only do you get the entire series, there’s a very nice saving on the cost of the individual books! Anna’s dropped in today to tell us more.

About The Series

Earth’s a dead planet, dark for thousands of years; lost for so long no one even knows where the solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But its drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war that’s dragged on for generations.

Taking Shield charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Bennet, also an analyst with the Military Strategy Unit, uncovers crucial data about the Maess to help with the war effort.

Against the demands of his family’s ‘triple goddess’ of Duty, Honour and Service, is set Bennet’s relationships with lovers and family—his difficult relationship with his long term partner, Joss; his estrangement from his father, Caeden, the commander of Fleet’s First Flotilla; and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, who, over the course of the series, develops into Bennet’s main love interest.

Over the Taking Shield arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanity’s enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isn’t able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albion’s victory. And some days he isn’t sure, any longer, what victory looks like.

More information and background on the Shield Universe here

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About The Author

Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service.

These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. She’s supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

Website and Blog | Facebook | The Butler’s Pantry (Facebook Group) | Twitter | Sign up for Anna’s occasional newsletter

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