Book Blitz: False Memory by Meli Raine

False Memory | Meli Raine

False Memory #1

Publication date: November 15th 2018

Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

It all started with the bereavement flowers with my name on them.

Not the best way to wake up, right? I work in a flower shop. I know a funeral arrangement when I see one.

I know a killer when I see one, too. And one is standing in my hospital room right now, straight behind the man who saved my life.

I can’t tell anyone the truth, because that’s the fastest way to really die. So I do the next best thing. I “lose” my memory.

I fake my amnesia.

Pretending not to remember a brutal attempted murder has its perks. The killer is backing down, spending less time around me, loosening the noose.

The less I claim to recall, the more my rescuer, Duff, works to help me “remember.” I hate lying to him.

But he doesn’t understand that my memory is dangerous. To me. And to him.

Fooling everyone isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Except it’s starting to look like I’ve been fooling myself.

In more ways than one.

Goodreads / Bookbub / iBooks

Author Bio:

Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them.

Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.

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Release Blitz: The Awakening by A. Drew

The Awakening | A. Drew

Dark Terror Series #2

Publisher: Drew Publications

Genre/s: supernatural horror, LGBT, suspense, paranormal

Heat Rating: 0 flames

Length: Approx 30 000 words

Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Blurb

A near-fatal incident stirs an awakening of an adolescent’s ability to connect with entities from the deep and dark hidden world, that which is beyond our natural awareness. A world of lost souls, both good and bad, all trying to reach out to the boy now that they are aware of his surreal capability.

Coming to terms with his psychic ability that he neither asked for nor knew how to wield it, he is unwittingly drawn into solving a grisly mystery from beyond the grave. This will become the greatest test of his faith in himself.
Will he survive?

Excerpt

On Phil’s fourteenth birthday in 1974… Miserable simply did not describe how he felt. He couldn’t wait to be discharged from the mid-century built community hospital. The building was covered in dark gray walls which had seen better days, cloistered by gardens that struggled to survive. Phil reflected on the state of the hospital and pondered upon whether it matched his own mental state because he was convinced something was seriously wrong with his head since the accident.

He desperately tried to keep his eyes firmly shut, doing his best to relax and with a bit of luck, bring his heart rate down to a respectable level. Praying for the morning to arrive, he beseeched, “Dear God. I’ll never try to impress Jason again …or anyone else for that matter. I’m so sorry that I tried to show off by jumping into the river.”

Tragically, it was this birthday, his fourteenth one, when he nearly drowned after he jumped off the tree. That day would be forever etched in his memory. He trailed along with his friends who hung out with the older kids from school as they cooled off in the river.

Jason who was one of the oldest in the group brought out a long rope from his backpack and deftly tied it around a strong looking branch off a tree as it extended over the river. The dare was simple. Each boy had to swing over the river as far as he could in readiness to release their hold of the rope just before it started to return to the shore.

Phil did his best to hide his attraction towards Jason, after all, if anyone found out that he liked boys, he’d be in deep trouble. As he thought of the consequences for his attraction of other of his own sex, he couldn’t help himself as he gave a furtive glance at the object of his desire.

Jason was considerably taller than Phil and had lustrously dark curly hair. His shoulders were so broad, developed over many years of playing rugby, in fact far more than he should have instead of studying, but he certainly didn’t care. The sports star was the coolest and the most successful player on the field. Even the way he smiled was cool, reminding him of an Elvis Presley impersonator.

While the boys got ready to impress the girls, Phil secretly hoped to gain Jason’s undivided attention. Whoever jumped the farthest in each round, would be rewarded by a kiss from sweet Emily-Lou. She was one of the hot cheerleaders, and it was generally whispered by the boys that she only rewarded tough boys, usually with a kiss on the school grounds. Phil joined the group with only one goal in mind. To be alongside Jason but he didn’t dare let anyone know about it.

Bolstered more by Jason’s gaze on him as he climbed the tree rather than the girls’ attention, from the safety of a thick branch, he held on to the rope with all his might, but something made him freeze. It was pure and simple unadulterated fear. He was so high up on that sinewy tree, perched precariously on the branch. His only savior was the greasy rope, slippery from the countless instances when other children had gripped it firmly before launching themselves off and into the river.

Right now, getting Jason’s attention was no longer was on his priority list, but hearing the taunts from some of the boys shook him up enough to help him take a deep breath. He quickly looked around and noticed Jason and a few of the kids did not take part in the jeering but watched him with some concern.

He wrapped the rope tightly around his hand before shouting bravely, albeit somewhat awkwardly and not feeling very much like the older boys at that moment. In pure fear and with his eyes firmly shut, he jumped, praying that he had swung high enough to release his grip on the rope, effecting a perfect entry into the slow running river rather than slamming into terra firma.

Despite all hopes of swimming majestically in front of his friends after what he thought was a great swing into the river, Phil, in fact, woke up feeling the hard dirt on his back. He wasn’t sure what happened, but the urge to breathe was strong enough for him to push away the frantic hands that prodded over his chest. He felt confused, reeling in pain and completely out of sorts.

His first impulse was to cough and retch while trying to push away a hand that was trying to turn him onto his side. Phil decided to sit up, but darkness quickly enveloped him again, before eventually waking up in the community hospital.

He wasn’t sure how long he had been in the hospital, but Phil seemed to continually repeat cycles of lucidity before lapsing into unconsciousness for the whole time he was there. He didn’t verbalize it, but he wished that all the whisperings stopped around him so he could get some decent sleep.

He wasn’t sure how long it had been, but sometime later when he was fully awake, his gaze was drawn to the familiar sight of his parents who stood before his bed. Their faces said it all, through their deep frowns and pale complexions. This was a worrisome time for them.

His mother tearfully asked as she rushed to his side, “Phil darling, how are you feeling?”

“I’m okay, I think. Not sure what happened though.” He responded, smacking his lips and trying to lubricate his mouth. He was so thirsty. It felt like it had been days since he had a glass of water.

His mother frowned, looking indignant as she sharply responded to him, “What happened? Young man, you nearly drowned! That’s what happened! We told you so many times not to go near the river to swim. That river has many unexpected currents coursing through it! How many times do we need to remind you that many people have tragically died in that river?”

Some things never change. Phil might have nearly died on that occasion, but that still didn’t stop him receiving a lecture from his mother even though he was laying on his hospital bed. Give me a break Mom. I just wanted to impress the others.

What complicates things more was not the shame of being rescued and puking in front of all the kids, particularly Jason, but it was the fact that from the time when he was able to open his eyes, Phil noticed shadows streaming across the walls of his cold room. These shadows seemed to be urgently whispering incoherent words. He couldn’t understand what they were saying, because they all talked over each other, but nevertheless, it was constant chatter.

It was eerie to see them but even more frightening to witness their urgent whispers. Phil had been embarrassed to mention these things to the treating doctor who came to check on him later that afternoon, in case he might have thought Phil was losing his mind. The man spoke like a pompous old schoolmaster, despite his youthful appearance. Phil tried to explain to him about the shadows and their whispers when the man abruptly interrupted him.

About the Author

Lily Lamb aka A. Drew is a Turkish Australian multi-genre indie author. She works as a nurse by day where she feeds her soul by caring for others. At night she tends to her imaginative alter-ego by writing tales involving love, passion, mystery and LGBT romance.

Author Links

Amazon

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter: @1LilyLamb


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Cover Reveal: The Deafening Silence by Amy Tasukada

The Deafening Silence | Amy Tasukada

The Yakuza Path #4

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Release Date: December 3 2018

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Blurb

An unproven alliance. A broken promise. A mafia boss must shed blood to secure peace…

Nao Murata is on the verge of brokering peace between his syndicate and the rival Mafufgumi mob. To seal the deal, he’ll need to pick up Russian prostitutes to appease his newest ally. When the exchange goes sour, both sides draw blades and Nao has no choice but to care for a blood-soaked enemy. If the man doesn’t make it through the night, Nao and his crew will pay with their lives.

Outnumbered and stranded in enemy territory, Nao is forced to fight his way out before the Mafufgumi Godfather takes the deal off the table. As his wounded enemy’s heartbeat slows, Nao must act fast or condemn his syndicate to a brutal turf war.

The Yakuza Path: The Deafening Silence is the fourth book in a series of Japanese mafia thrillers. If you like twisty action, authentic settings, and a touch of gay romance, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s pulse-pounding series.

The Yakuza Path Series

Book #1 – Blood Stained Tea – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #2 – Better Than Suicide – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #3 – One Thousand Cranes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

Author Bio

Copy of Copy of Author

Amy Tasukada lives in a catless home in North Texas. (She enjoys cats but can’t quite make that kind of commitment yet.) As an only child her daydreams kept her entertained, and at age ten she started to put them to paper.

Since then her love of writing hasn’t ceased. When she’s not chasing after stray cats, she can be found drinking hot tea and filming Japanese street fashion hauls on her Youtube channel.

Social Media

https://www.amytasukada.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/amytasukada

http://www.facebook.com/amytasukadaofficial/

https://twitter.com/@amytasukada

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Release Blitz: A Vampire’s Heart by Kayleigh Sky

A Vampire’s Heart | Kayleigh Sky

Ellowyn Found #1

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Available exclusive to Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited

Length: 98,551 words

Publisher: Kiss Drunk Books

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Blurb
 

Vampires live.

And they hunger 

Otto Jones, a cop assigned to the seemingly random murder of a vampire, would rather hide out in the nearest bar than waste his time on a dead vamp. He hates the bloodthirsty demons. But when the king of the vampires commands him to work with one of the lesser princes and find the killer, he has no choice.

Prince Jessamine Senera is ready to sacrifice his happiness in a loveless marriage for his familyÕs benefitÉ but not yet. He dreams of adventure, excitement, and true love. He lives on romance novels and detective stories and wishes he could drink synthetic blood like every other vampire. But he canÕt. He needs human blood to survive and is hated by vampires and humans alike.

As Otto and Jessa draw closer to an entity that doesnÕt want to be discovered, Otto finds the heart he thought long dead opening to the romance-loving Jessa. No good can possibly come from falling in love with a vampire, but when a shadowy assailant attacks Jessa, Otto will descend into the darkest pit of the earth to rescue him.

If you like vampires, mythical and urban settings, intense suspense, and happy ever after, then youÕll love this first book in the dark and mysterious Ellowyn Found trilogy!

A Vampire’s Heart is a stand-alone paranormal dystopian noir romance with a satisfying conclusion to the love story and a central mystery that weaves the trilogy together.

About the Author

I’ve never run a marathon or scaled Mt. Everest. I’ve never scuba dived or sky dived. I’ve surfed though. That was fun. I have six tattoos, and I really love ink. I also love all plants. Zinnias are one of my favorite flowers. If you’ve never see a zinnia, look it up. Very pretty. It’s an old-timey plant but super easy to grow.

Anyway, the big thing I do is write m/m erotic romance. But as much as I love romance and sex, I really love going deep into the dark with my characters. What are their wounds? How can I peel them raw and drag them into the light? This leads to some fairly dark stories sometimes, but even the dark ones come with humor.

I think the contradictions in people are ripe for hilarious scene setups. I need humor and light in my lifeÑotherwise, I go into some pretty dark places myself. I live with only one cat nowÑI once had thirteen. That was crazy. I take up most of the things I research for my charactersÑphotography, tarot, and jewelry making for example. I even bought a recorder once because Ori from Jesus Kid played one. I love that part of my job.

I also love to walk and lift weights. IÕm not a big fan of yogaÑjust throwing that out there. So far, all of my characters embody something of me, and all of my characters have given me something of them. But no matter what the struggle is from book to book, love always wins out. I’m strong on plot, strong on character, stronger on love.

You can count on happily ever after from me every time. I write my stories to open hearts and uplift spirits. Love matters. It counts. And it’s for everyone.

Peace.

Social Media

Website: http://www.kayleighsky.com

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/kayleigh.sky.writer

KayleighÕs Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1770182486372453/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/kayleighsky/766385570110391

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/skyboundlove

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kayleighsky/

KayleighÕs Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cmLIpP

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/kayleigh.sky.writer

Bookbub: http://www.bookbub.com/author/kayleighsky

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/kayleigh-sky


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Release Blitz: The Wayward Prince by Hanna Dare

The Wayward Prince | Hanna Dare

Mind & Machine #2

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow in Kindle Unlimited

Length: 229 pages

Cover Design: Natasha Snow


Blurb

Spaceships, daring heists, and interstellar intrigue!

Since murderous AIs drove humanity from Earth more than a century before, people have been rebuilding civilization. That doesn’t mean the galaxy is anywhere close to being civilized.

A liar and a scoundrel – and he’s the good guy.

The thing that Captain Sebastian Garcia values most of all is his ship, The Wayward Prince, and like most of his possessions, it’s something that he stole. Now the ship’s original owner has found Sebastian and he’s looking to collect what he’s owed.

When you want something stolen, call a professional.

Ren is someone Sebastian never expected to see again, and the one he never could forget. But Ren’s not offering forgiveness. Unless Sebastian can pull off an impossible heist on a distant planet he’ll lose everything – including a second chance with the man he once betrayed and still cares for.

Mind + Machine Series

Book #1 – Machine Metal Magic

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 Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

A writer-for-hire for more than ten years, Hanna Dare now writes what she loves to read: well-written, character-driven stories of men exploring their identities and discovering their own unique kind of happily ever afters… usually through sexytimes.

Find Hanna on the internet enjoying pretty pictures, procrastination and caffeinated beverages!


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Book Blitz: Worth the Wait by JB Heller

Worth the Wait | J.B. Heller

Alpha One #2

Publication date: November 8th 2018

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense

What happens when an ex-marine who has never known real love falls for a vivacious redhead about to give up on the concept?

When Zak locked eyes on the feisty redhead storming the lobby of an upscale hotel, he didn’t stand a chance.

In iridescent green tights, she had grown men cupping their balls as the fire flashing in her eyes passed over them and Zak was a goner. He saw through her smart mouth and quick wit to the fragile woman beneath her bravado.

Ellie was beginning to think that love was reserved for a select few and she simply wasn’t one of them. One after another, failed relationships have taken their toll on her vibrant spirit, leaving the once fiery bombshell feeling tarnished and inadequate.

Zak’s determination to prove himself to Ellie goes a long way towards breaking down her walls and opening her heart to all the possibilities of their future together. Just when they feel like everything is falling into place one phone call reveals a life altering, explosive secret.

Together they need to learn how to expand their love and reinforce their connection while guarding against the danger fixated on them.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Grab your copy for 99¢! Today only!

Book 1 – Worth the Risk – is also 99¢ this week!

Author Bio:

JB Heller is an average Aussie housewife in her early 30’s with a wicked sexy imagination. JB and her family live in Central Queensland, Australia on a mini farm of sorts, surrounded animals.

She writes both romantic suspense and contemporary romance with a healthy splash of wit. You’ll love her dashingly handsome alpha hero’s and their feisty counterparts. Then swoon over her beautifully damaged, and flawed characters.

Most day’s JB can be found glued to her laptop, taking advantage of school hours now that all three of her kidlets are in school. Or trolling Pinterest for her next potential muse.

And when she needs a break from the voices in her head she indulges in one of her favourite past times, reading or binging on netflix.

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Review Tour: Stoker & Bash: The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree by Selina Kray

Stoker & Bash: The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree | Selina Kray

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 100,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Tiferet Design

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Blurb

 

When will She open Rebecca Northcote’s box?

Finding lost poodles and retrieving stolen baubles is not how DI Tim Stoker envisioned his partnership with his lover, Hieronymus Bash. So when the police commissioner’s son goes missing, he’s determined to help, no matter what secrets he has to keep, or from whom.

When a family member is kidnapped, Hiero moves heaven and earth to rescue them. Even if that means infiltrating the Daughters of Eden, a cult of wealthy widows devoted to the teachings of Rebecca Northcote and the mysterious contents of her box. The Daughters’ goodwill toward London’s fallen women has given them a saintly reputation, but Hiero has a nose for sniffing out a fraud. He will need to draw on some divine inspiration to rattle the pious Daughters.

Like weeds gnarling the roots of Eden’s fabled tree, Tim and Hiero’s cases intertwine. Serpents, secrets, and echoes from Hiero’s past lurk behind every branch. Giving in to temptation could bind them closer together—or sever their partnership forever.

Stoker & Bash Series

Book #1 – The Fangs Of Scavo – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Excerpt

When will She open Rebecca Northcote’s box?

Hieronymus Bash contemplated the question posed by the long, red-lettered banner that blazoned over the otherwise quaint fruit and vegetable stall. A sharp tug of the arm from Callie, his ward, brought him to heel. He’d already been struggling to match her brisk pace, having been dragged from his early afternoon repose in the cozy climes of his study into, of all things, the sunshine, or what passed for it on this weak-tea day.

Rays of piss-yellow sun trickled down over the city, tinting the fumes that oozed up from the Thames. Clouds of smog blurred the distant Albert Bridge into an impressionist’s nightmare. A growing crowd choked the small stage erected just before the river’s edge, scuttling in from both directions of Cheyne Walk like ants over a carcass. A bald man with a white mustache that flapped out to his ears checked his pocket watch for the fourth time since Hiero and his companions descended from their carriage.

At the far end of the stage, a squad of low-rank militia struggled to keep a path clear for the Duke of Edinburgh and his bride, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, only beloved daughter of Tsar Alexander II. The newlyweds were, in the timeless tradition of royals everywhere, unfashionably late to the opening of the Chelsea Embankment, the third and final stage of the sewage system that had transformed London’s riverside.

“Look, it’s Bazalgette!” Callie tugged him forward, doing a fine impression of an excitable hound.

“While I admire your enthusiasm, I do wonder if it’s not a tad misplaced.”

Callie scoffed. “Only you would prefer the arrival of some dippy duke over the architect of this entire endeavor.” She threw her free arm out wide. “Can you not spare a moment to admire this feat of engineering? In the place of muddy banks, pavement has been laid, a fence with lampposts erected, with gardens and greenery to come. And running beneath it, the waste of London, and soon an underground train! How can you be so trout-mouthed in the face of such marvels?”

“Not your most persuasive argument, comparing the face that dropped a thousand trousers to a fishmonger’s wares.”

Callie sighed, relinquishing his arm to chase after her muttonchopped idol. Hiero watched her go, marveling at how much she resembled her Uncle Apollo, Hiero’s long-deceased lover who had charged him with her care in character and spirit. Theirs was an unconventional household, where the lady moonlighted as a detective, the servants were part of the family, and the lord of the manor—Hiero himself—was neither a lord nor owned the manor.

“Come now.” Han, his friend and self-appointed keeper, fell into step beside him. The rhythmic taps of his lotus-headed walking stick slowed their pace to a stroll. “You’re no longer catch of the day with Mr. Stoker about.”

“Perhaps if he were about, someone would defend my honor.” Hiero bristled at the mention of his fair-weather paramour, Timothy Kipling Stoker, a detective inspector with Scotland Yard who shadowed them when there was a mystery to solve but otherwise preoccupied himself with… well, finding them another mystery. His dedication to duty exasperated.

“Not likely.”

“No, I rather thought not.” Hiero pressed a lavender handkerchief to his mouth and nose. Mr. Bazalgette’s innovations would have to work much harder to filter out nearly a millennia of filth, the river being a cesspit into which the city had poured every conceivable kind of rubbish, from human to animal to otherwise. A place where sins had been cast off and bodies buried. A few of Hiero’s personal acquaintance.

“Where has your Mr. Stoker taken himself off to this—” Han considered the urinal murk of the embankment and found himself at a loss of an adjective. “—afternoon?”

“I do not presume to know what impulses rule that man.”

“And yet you are the one who rides his… coattails.”

“Only when he deigns to undress for the occasion. Otherwise…” Hiero huffed, his mood irretrievably spoilt by this line of conversation. “I cannot think where I’ve gone wrong with him.”

“No?” Han evidenced something close to a smirk. “It wouldn’t have something to do with meddling in his work affairs, compromising his relationship with his superiors, forcing him into our fellowship, risking everything he holds dear, and then sharing nothing of consequence about yourself, now would it?”

Hiero peered at him out of the corner of his eye. “Nothing of the sort, I’m sure.”

“Ah. Well, then, it is a mystery.”

“Coo-coo! Mr. Han!” a voice trilled at them from behind.

With a pair of heavy sighs, they turned to heed an all-too-familiar call. A hand waiving a white handkerchief fluttered up and down amidst a dense crowd. A grunt from Han parted the sea of surging revelers to reveal Shahida Kala, the latest of Hiero’s charity cases, hopping with the vigor of a spring hare. Her compact figure contained a carnival of personality.

The instant this bright light had beamed into his study on the arm of her father—who served under Apollo in Her Majesty’s Navy—Hiero recognized her for one of the rare people who could steal his spotlight. So he had relegated her to the least enviable position in the household, that of nurse to Mrs. Lillian Pankhurst, Callie’s permanently indisposed mother. But the long days of attic dwelling and reading Richardson’s Pamela ad nauseam had not snuffed a single spark.

Instead Lillian had transformed from bed-ridden depressive into a semifunctional member of the family. Every morning she and Shahida took a two-hour stroll. They cultivated a rooftop garden. Shahida had imposed an afternoon tea regimen on their household, always leading the conversation as Hiero, Callie, and Han plotted ways to return to their preferred solitary occupations. Dinners were always a family affair, but Shahida’s insistence on more healthful, nourishing fare that conformed to Lillian’s new diet had Minnie, their cook, weekly threatening to resign. Callie was the only other member of the household resistant to her charms.

Even Han, cynical, monkish, seen-it-all Han, danced to whichever melody she played. Hiero watched as he bounded over to her, biting his lip at the comical sight of a surly giant bowing to the whims of a pretty imp, but also to keep from emitting a growl of frustration. He glanced back to search for Callie, but the crowd had swallowed her. By now she’d likely clawed her way to the front of the stage and barked questions at a baffled, bewhiskered Mr. Bazalgette, which Hiero thought should be his formal title.

Schooling his features, he joined Han and Shahida’s conversation in medias res and was somewhat aghast to discover them talking about produce.

“… the plumpest, juiciest berries. Artichokes the size of a fist. Fat aubergines and cabbages and cauliflowers, and cucumbers as long as…” Shahida pressed two fingers to her mouth. Hiero didn’t miss how her eyes flickered down. “Well.”

Shameless, that was the trouble. As if she’d snipped the best pages from his playbook and then had the temerity to improve on his notes.

Han chuckled. Chuckled! Hiero hadn’t seen his friend so much as shrug in all the time he’d known him.

“A religious order, you say?” Han asked.

“The Daughters of Eden.” Shahida leaned in, gave him her most conspiratorial smirk. “And I think they might be.” She didn’t even have the grace to straighten when she spotted Hiero. “Oh, Mr. Bash! Mrs. Pankhurst and I don’t mean to spoil your fun. But if you wouldn’t mind, we’ll stay here for a while. We’ve discovered the most—”

“Impressive cucumbers. So I heard.”

“Mrs. Pankhurst is just beside herself. We’ve big ideas for our garden, but this…”

Hiero was unmoved. “And what is it you want?”

“We’ve done our third crate and could fill two more. The crowd is bit much for Mrs. Pankhurst, so I thought Mr. Han might take us back to Berkeley Square? We’ll send the carriage back for you.”

“As it is my carriage, I rather think it will return for me regardless.”

That got her attention. “Of course. If you’d like us to stay—”

“Let us see these berries from heaven.” With a sweep of his hand, Hiero directed them back toward the stall that had earlier piqued his interest. “Their Majesties will wait upon our leisure.”

A long line of enterprising vendors hawked their wares along the edge of Cheyne Walk, hoping to entice royal watchers to purchase a bit of refinement for their life. One stall lined up its dainty little bottles of oils and perfumes like Russian nesting dolls. A mini royal portrait gallery sold likenesses of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their progeny in a variety of poses. The gentleman scooping iced lollies for the children had his work cut out for him on such a tepid day, Hiero thought. The pub with a street-side stand offering hot tea and cider already did brisk business. A few watercress girls fought against the crowd’s undertow, but their wares looked shriveled as seaweed compared to the glorious bushels of the Daughters of Eden.

Even Hiero had to admit, upon inspection, the quality of their produce astounded. Fat and luscious, their fruit allured like the bosom of an opera diva, ready to smother and enthrall. Their vegetable stalks evidenced a virility that would put most molly-houses out of business. Little wonder their customers meandered around the baskets like lovestruck swains. Their bounty conjured images of orgies culinary and carnal. Hiero didn’t doubt there were more than a few serpents lurking about this tiny Eden, eager to defile a peach or two.

All of this was overseen by a trio of women dressed in immaculate white uniforms that somehow defied the city’s grime. Hiero drifted away from his companions to better observe these wyrd sisters. The tallest was also the least remarkable, a stout but cheery woman with farm-worn hands and hard-earned streaks of gray in her brown hair. She milled through the customers, answering questions and nudging reluctant buyers toward the register.

A skittish dove of a girl dutifully kept the ledger and the cash box, cooing her thanks before slipping some sort of pamphlet into people’s baskets. Her crinkly hair had been woven into two winglike braids that perfectly framed her heart-shaped face. A sprinkling of dark freckles contrasted with her pale-brown skin, all but disappearing when she blushed.

Which she did whenever the third sister glanced her way. “Willowy” did not do this petite, flopsy woman justice. A willow branch would look as leathery and stiff as a whip compared to her wispiness. Near-translucent skin and stringy cornsilk hair completed the otherworldly effect. Hiero almost questioned whether she was really there, such was the nothing of her regard. She appeared to have no occupation other than to pose under the sign in a demure attitude. The crowds gave her a wide berth, and little wonder. Nobody wanted to mingle with a possessed scarecrow.

Except possibly meddlesome not-detectives stuck on a boring outing with friends who had abandoned him for some phallic parsnips and a walrus architect.

Just as Hiero made to pounce, the waif leapt as if lightning struck. Eyes ravenous, mouth agape, hair billowing in an invisible breeze, she stared into the buzzing hive of customers. Transformed in an instant from trinket to spear, her astonishment gave color to her cheeks and heft to her bearing. She appeared somehow taller, bolder, a colossal spirit crammed into a compact package: a genie unleashed from its lamp.

All the better to bedazzle you with, my dear, Hiero thought.

Hieronymus Bash, professional cynic, knew a performance when he saw one. He read again the red sign that screamed above her head: When will She open Rebecca Northcote’s box? But there was no box he could see, and if this woodland sprite was Mrs. Northcote, he’d eat Han’s walking stick. These Daughters had lured in quite a crowd with their sensuous produce. Was she the serpent come to tempt them? And if so, to what end?

Hiero shuttered his natural radiance to watch the spectacle unfold. The pale sister glided, arms outstretched, into the maze of crates, eyes fixed on her prey. Hiero hissed under his breath when she stopped at Lillian Pankhurst. In a state of docile confusion at the best of times, Lillian continued sorting out a mess of string beans, oblivious to this starry-eyed suitor. Han, ever protective, moved to Lillian’s side just as the sister shrieked…

“Daughter! You are found!”

The woman at the ledger jumped to her feet. “Juliet?”

“I’ve heard your spirit call to us these long nights, and now you have come home!” Juliet continued at eardrum-splitting pitch, making herself heard to all in the vicinity and probably those across the Thames. “Welcome, Daughter, into Her grace and light! Welcome home!” She hugged a startled Lillian with impressive fervor for one so slender. Lillian, looking to Shahida for a cue, patted her on the back.

A frowning Han caught his gaze from across the way, but Hiero signaled he would play Polonius behind the curtain. Hopefully without the knife in his gut.

“Don’t fear, Daughter. You are among friends,” Juliet nattered on. “We have come to shepherd Her back to Eden through our good works, and, by your pallid cheeks and trembling hands, I can see that you are eager to play a part.”

“Oi!” Shahida hollered, shoving her way between Juliet and Lillian. “Mrs. Pankhurst gets three square a day, and her arthritis is much improved. I dare anyone here to say otherwise.”

“But her spirit, dear girl, droops like a flower too long out of the sun.” Juliet backed away a step to address the customers, every one of which stood rapt. “She knows how this frail woman has struggled. She has heard her prayers and her anguish. She has shone Her glorious light into her, lit her like a beacon for her sisters to find. She is a Daughter, called upon to continue Her good work and bring about a second Eden!”

Shahida let out a trill of laughter three octaves too high. It effectively pierced the balloon of hot air Juliet had been huffing and puffing.

“Angel with a flaming sword you’re not, ma’am. Sorry.” Shahida locked an arm around Lillian. “Stick to the fruit and veg.” A pointed look directed Han to escort their charge away.

“But I haven’t finished the beans…” Lillian muttered as they disappeared into the gaggle of onlookers.

“Shame!” Juliet bellowed, beseeching the yellow sky. “Shame! It is the burden of womankind.” The customers moved into the space vacated by his friends, and Hiero followed, curious as to how she would spin such a public defeat. “The prophet Rebecca Northcote warned against it in her great bible, The Coming of the Holiest Spirit. Too often we ladies wait upon the actions of others. Are made to feel shame and guilt and worthless when we do act. Allow others to lead us astray, away from the truth in our hearts. We pay the price for the sins of our fathers and brothers and husbands. But She… oh, She is coming to deliver us from these injustices, from our fears and torments. As our Holy Mother Rebecca divined, if we join together, Daughters, and build the garden, She will come to save us all. She will gift us with her light!”

“Amen!” the ledger-keeper cried, having abandoned her post to shove pamphlets into the hands of any who would take them.

“Thank you, Mother!” the other sister seconded, lifting a basket of golden pears for all to see.

Juliet scanned the crowd. “You reap of the bounty we offer, but you do not know of how we labor in Her name. To prepare for Her coming, our prophet Rebecca chose each of Her Daughters with care. And though a shame-filled few will deny Her, everyone is welcome to hear Her message and to contribute however they can.” Hiero swallowed a snicker as she gestured to the donation tin. So transparent. “If you are committed to peace and prosperity, if you would see heaven retake the Earth, then I invite you to heed our prophet Rebecca’s call. And She will shine Her light upon you for all the days of your life.”

Juliet seemed to resist taking a bow, but only just. She gave each customer a final angelic smile, then returned to her perch beneath the red sign. A few of the curious chased her with questions; a ragdoll sag and a vacant stare shut them out. Instead the ledger-keeper, who introduced herself as Sister Nora, gathered them around the donation tin before addressing any queries.

“And?” Han appeared beside him, sudden as Banquo’s ghost. “Showstopper or second-rate?”

Hiero rubbed a thumb over his knuckles. “Better than a pair of poncy royals cutting a ribbon, but only just.”

“Fit for a return engagement?”

“Perhaps. Their setup is commonplace, but she does have a certain je ne sais quoi.”

“Enough to en savoir plus?

“Time will tell. You know how religion turns my stomach. But their focus on Lillian was…”

“Agreed. That Sister Juliet read her too easily.”

Hiero nodded. “Could have been instinct.”

“Or she saw a mark.”

They shared a look weighted by their years of friendship and experience, a partnership of equals who knew, without another word, how to protect their own.

Copy of TourGraphic (7)

October 31 – The Novel ApproachNovember 1 – Mikku-chanJoyfully JayNovember 6 – Love BytesNovember 7 – Mirrigold: Mutterings & MusingsLillian FrancisBonkers About BooksPadme’s LibraryBayou Book JunkieBook Review By Virginia Lee, MM Good Book ReviewsNovember 10 – My Fiction Nook

About The Author

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd).

A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.

Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present, she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.

If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net

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