Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Divine Awakening (Book #4: The Divinities) by Lia Davis

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A mother’s love is her greatest power.

Divinity witch, Desiree Sanders has made a lot of bad choices in her life, but trusting the demoness, Samoan should earn her the award for traitor of the millennium. After several failed attempts to set things right, Desiree turns to the dark, sexy Death Demon, Lex for help saving her son and ending the war.

There’s no darker place than the soul of a demon.

Divinity guardian, Alexander, AKA Lex, has hardened his heart and locked away emotions following the betrayal of his mate over three hundred years ago. Until he meets the quiet and beautiful Desiree, and the walls around his heart start to crumble. When she calls him for help, broken and scared, he can’t deny her, and the urge to claim her for his own becomes an overwhelming need.

Trapped in the Underworld as the war between witches and demons escalates, Lex and Desiree must face their pasts and their fears—and open their hearts—if they are to find a way out. Meanwhile, the Divinities in the natural world prepare for a battle that is no longer just dark versus light. If lost, it could mean the end of life as they know it.

Excerpt from Divine Awakening (Book #4: The Divinities):

“How long?” Lex snapped the lock on the cage with quick efficiency, not surprised that Khan had set the trap. One reason it was so quiet and they were able to get in without Regal guards coming down on them. Should have known.

“Not sure. Maybe two minutes or less.”

Fear gripped his heart and squeezed. They had to get out of there. He wouldn’t lose Desiree when he’d just found her.

Desiree moved to the opening and stuck her head out. Lex moved closer to her, too aware of her whirlwind of emotions: Anger, fear, and a desperate need to find her son. “Bear, go find your brother and get out of here.”

“What are you doing? There’s no time.” The hound paused once they’d exited into the hall.

“We’ll get out. Get Teddy, Zach, and Lydia out,” Lex barked, then grabbed Desiree’s hand and tugged her down the hall in the opposite direction that he’d sent Bear. A growl at his back was Bear’s final protest before the hound took off to find the others.

Desiree tensed up next to Lex but didn’t jerk her hand from his. In fact, she seemed to accept his touch with ease, like it helped soothe her anxiety. Good. He needed her touch just as much. Needed to know she was safe.

Her power was close to the surface, nipped at his own. He ignored it. “Can you sense Mathew?”

She trembled at the mention of her son’s name and shook her head. “For a moment, I thought I could. But he’s not here. At least, not anymore. We need to get out of here.”

She didn’t need to tell him twice. Focusing on his home, he teleported them. Materializing in his living room, he released Desiree’s hand and stalked to the bedroom, needing to put some distance between them. The female made him ache with need. The urge to take her in every way possible was almost overwhelming.

Fuck. He didn’t want a mate, yet he’d found one. The pull to Desiree was too strong. He wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off her much longer.

Boom! The house shook from the blast of Khan’s castle. Closing his eyes, he searched for the connection he had with the hellhounds. Relief flooded him when he felt them, alive. They made it out.

Suddenly, a rush of power rippled across his skin, and he whirled around to meet Desiree’s stare. Standing in the doorway of his bedroom, wide-eyed she said, “All the portals just opened.”

“Hecate,” he called out.

She replied back telepathically. “I felt it, and I’m handling it. You have to find Khan and get the Dark Sinew from him. However, once I close the portals you’ll have to find another way to return Earthside.

Then the goddess was gone, cutting the telepathic connection. He sighed. She’d have to use the power of three plus the Sinew to close all of the portals. As far as he knew, no one but the gods could cross from one realm to another once they were locked. But Hecate had said to find another way out.

He had no idea how to do that.

Returning his attention to Desiree, he said, “Hecate will be closing the portals. We will be stuck here for a while.”

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About the author and where to find her:

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In 2008, Lia Davis ventured into the world of writing and publishing and never looked back. She has published more than twenty books, including the bestselling A Tiger’s Claim, book one in her fan favorite Ashwood Falls series. Her novels feature compassionate yet strong alpha heroes who know how to please their women and her leading ladies are each strong in their own way. No matter what obstacle she throws at them, they come out better in the end.

While writing was initially a way escape from real world drama, Lia now makes her living creating worlds filled with magic, mystery, romance, and adventure so that others can leave real life behind for a few hours at a time.

Lia’s favorite things are spending time with family, traveling, reading, writing, chocolate, coffee, nature and hanging out with her kitties. She and her family live in Northeast Florida battling hurricanes and very humid summers, but it’s her home and she loves it! Sign up for her newsletter, become a member of her fan club, and follow her on Twitter @NovelsByLia.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Falling for the Player by Jessica Lee

 

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Falling for the Player by Jessica Lee.  New adult,  M/M romance published by Entangled Publishing,  January 16, 2017

Bad boy and former NFL running back Patrick Guinness is tired of meaningless sex. Ever since his scorching hot one-night stand three years ago, no one has interested him. So when Max Segreti wanders into his mechanic shop—and his life again—Patrick can’t stop thinking about the totally-out-of-his-league law student and the possibility of getting him out of his system once and for all…

Max Segreti has spent his entire life doing what his father wants. But when he runs into the hotter-than-hell player he’s never been able to forget, he’s not thinking about studying for the bar. A distraction is the last thing he needs, but after an encounter leaves him wanting more, Max embraces the chaos that Patrick brings…even as he knows it can’t last. They’re too different to ever have a future together.

 

 

Excerpt from Falling for the Player:
Jumping up, Patrick yanked his soaked shirt over his head.

     Damn, that shit is hot!

     “Oh, fuck!” Max grabbed the wet shirt and tried to soak up the remaining coffee dripping off Patrick’s skin. “God, this is my fault. I should have been more careful.” Then Max jerked his own T-shirt off and blotted Patrick’s chest with it, his expression twisted with concern. “Are you okay?”

     He was fine. Not that Max would stand still and listen long enough to find out. Fuck, the guy was too adorable. Patrick was lucky the coffee had been Max’s heavily creamed version and so not hot enough to do any damage.

     Patrick braced his hands on the other guy’s shoulders, trying to hold him in place, but it wasn’t working. “Max,” he called out to him.

     “Do we need to get you to the ER?”

     “I’m fine.”

     “Shit, Patrick, I—”

     Seizing one of Max’s wrists, Patrick hauled him against his chest, bringing a halt to whatever else he’d been about to say. Max looked up, his eyes wide, stunned.

     “I’m okay,” Patrick whispered. He couldn’t stop drinking in the other man’s features. Strands of Max’s dark hair had fallen forward onto his forehead. The guy had the most expressive dark blue eyes, with small flecks of amber around the pupil he hadn’t noticed until now. Patrick followed the bridge of the man’s perfectly straight nose lower to where it ended above the carved V of his mouth. Outside of his looks, Max was everything Patrick never went for, smart and obviously rich, judging by the expensive car and his big-ass condo. Back home, the only way he and Max’s type would have mixed would have been when he worked on their cars. Funny how his popularity as a football star placed him, for once, on the other side of the tracks. Someone who would soon be rolling in the big bucks. The pink tip of Max’s tongue appeared, momentarily short-circuiting Patrick’s train of thought as Max licked his full lower lip.

     Fuck.

     Patrick wasn’t sure who moved first, but the next thing he knew, he had his fist clenched in Max’s short, thick hair and his lips sealed against Max’s. A hard shudder of pleasure raced over him, and Patrick’s cock bucked against the confines of his zipper. Max groaned, his mouth roaming every inch of Patrick’s mouth, as if he couldn’t get enough. But Patrick matched his every move, unsure who needed the contact, the pleasure, more.

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About the author and where to find her:

Jessica Lee is an EPIC eBook Award winner and international bestselling author of paranormal romance. She lives in the southeastern United States with her husband and son. In her former life, Jessica was a science geek and spent over twenty-five years as a nurse. But after the birth of her son, she left her medical career behind. During that transition, she discovered her passion for writing romance and has never looked back. Jessica Lee is currently published with Entangled Publishing and Resplendence Publishing. Plus she has several self published titles available.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Theodora (Book #1: Lady Archer’s Creed) by Christina McKnight

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Friendship…  Lady Theodora Montgomery departed Miss Emmeline’s School of Education and Decorum for Ladies of Outstanding Quality to attend her first London Season—her three dearest friends by her side. With her sharp wit and skill on the archery field, Theo is far more interested in winning a large purse prize than securing a husband. But when she is unmasked on the tourney grounds, her face exposed to all, she fears her identity and days spent gallivanting around London will cause not only her undoing, but the downfall of her friends as well.

Loyalty…  Mr. Alistair Price, heir to the elderly Viscount Melton, arrived in London with his eight younger siblings in tow. He is charged with keeping his family name above reproach until the Season starts and his sister, Miss Adeline Price, is presented to society—though that proves far more difficult than Alistair ever expected when he discovers his rebellious sister climbing down the side of their townhouse and scurrying off to Whitechapel for an archery tournament. His focus remains on saving his family from the certain ruin and disgrace Adeline’s actions invites—until Alistair catches sight of another female archer, her arrow connecting with far more than the center of her target.

And honor above all…   With Theodora’s future—and that of her friends—in jeopardy, will she agree to a marriage devoid of affection, or risk everything for the man who won her heart?

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Excerpt from Theodora (Book #1: Lady Archer’s Creed):

London, England, October 1825

Alistair Alexander Price entered his father’s townhouse—for all intents and purposes, his townhouse since his father had taken ill the year before and was unable to travel. Alistair was responsible for the care and well-being of his siblings—he was to tend the account ledgers, he was answerable to all his father’s tenants—and it seemed, Alistair was also solely accountable for the funds needed to fulfill all of those obligations.

“Your coat, Mr. Price?” Donavon, the family butler, held his arm out, prepared to take his over garment.

Alistair shrugged, allowing the coat to fall from his shoulders and into his butler’s waiting arms. “Thank you. I will be in my study, please make sure I am not disturbed.”

“Of course, Mr. Price.” The servant gave him a faint smile.

Alistair was fairly certain the staff was delighted to have the Melton horde in residence—and agreeable to Alistair filling his father’s vacant shoes, though he had not inherited the Melton Viscountship as yet.

With a nod, Alistair continued on to his father’s study. He shook his head. His study. It was highly unlikely his father would ever journey to London again.

Alistair needed a quiet place to think, and if it took drinking himself into a stupor to figure out his family’s problems, then so be it. With eight younger siblings in residence, a quiet room was hard to come by; however, he knew his three brothers were at their fencing lessons, and the female part of his household avoided his study as much as possible—unless summoned. Alistair had made a point of using the room when doling out lectures on inappropriate behavior, as well as when imparting bad news.

Anyone who invaded his private space was subject to one or the other—and on many occasions, both.

His footsteps sounded as he walked down the corridor, past his sisters’ receiving room—not that the five Melton females were used to receiving guests beyond family—and beyond to the study.

The day had not gone as planned, to say the least. His father’s longtime solicitor, Mr. Adams, had shared with Alistair the dire conditions of the many Melton estates. Since the viscount had begun his downward spiral and his illnesses finally took his ability to walk, not a single tenant issue had been addressed, no roofs had been mended beyond what the villagers could do themselves, and no upkeep to the estate gardens had been done. And their family coffers were continually drained from the expenses of supporting nine children and a full-time physician to care for the aging viscount.

Alistair’s father had once been a very hands-on viscount, not trusting estate business and tenant concerns to anyone. That left Alistair to fumble his way through things once his father was unable to leave his sickbed—and his mother unwilling to leave her husband’s side.

Alistair rounded his desk and fell heavily into his chair—the chair he’d seen his father occupy for all of Alistair’s twenty-five years. It had remained vacant for nearly two years before Alistair and his mother made the decision to remove the children to London to avoid them witnessing the viscount’s worsening condition. His mother was to join them before his sister, Adeline, was presented to society.

The news had arrived yesterday—two short weeks before Adeline’s first ball—that Viscountess Melton would not be joining her children in London. At least, not this season.

Certainly, Alistair could handle depositing Adeline at her dress fittings, consulting with her on which invitations to accept, and accompanying her on outings to Hyde Park, but he did not enjoy any of those things, and as a rule, strictly avoided any excursion that would result in meeting marriage-minded females. There was an overabundance of those to contend with in his own home without seeking them out about town.

And Alistair hadn’t the time or the patience for any of it.

Thankfully, he only need present one sibling to the ton this season, Adeline—next season would be Adelaide and Amelia, and after them, Arabella the following year. Lastly, Ainsley. It was all too much to wrap one’s mind around. The viscount’s coffers would be empty long before Alistair inherited the title. And what to do about his brothers: Abel, Alfred, and Adrian? They were remarkably unconcerned with their future paths. None of the three wanted their father to purchase them a commission to serve their country—though Alfred and Adrian were much too young to be burdened with such thoughts as yet. Not a one had an interest in any trade, but Abel did enjoy spending his spare time assisting at the British Museum, without pay, of course; however, at the age of twenty and one, he should be focusing on something more suitable to support a family.

Alistair would see his duty through: ensuring that all of his siblings were wed and taken care of. And then, if there were still time for him and he hadn’t been beaten down by the strain of it all, he would think about his own future.

There were many years ahead of him before he had the luxury of pondering what he wanted for his life. Little Ainsley was only ten, after all, and with eight years until her introduction, Alistair would have no rest until then.

What had his parents been thinking? Nine children with his father already close to fifty when the first was born. It was irresponsible, to say the least. At this point, Alistair would be close to the same age when he had the time to focus on finding his own wife. Never would he burden anyone with supporting his offspring.

As he stared toward the open door, a flash of green flew past, catching his attention. He had glimpsed a trail of blonde curls before the girl was out of sight, her slippered feet making no sound.

He was out of his chair and following, a lecture on the inappropriateness of running indoors on the tip of his tongue. It was necessary for him to hurry to the entryway as his siblings were fast to disappear, especially if they suspected he was in pursuit.

Adeline stood, ready to enter the receiving room when he called her name, his displeasure clear in his voice.

Her hand paused on the door handle but did not turn it.

“Adeline,” he chastised. “What have I said about running in the house?”

“It is only necessary to run faster than the person chasing you?”

“Do not play feebleminded with me,” he sighed, knowing he had, indeed, said those exact words many times, but that was before he and his sister had reached adulthood—and he’d been forced to take his unofficial place as head of the Melton clan. “What did I say about running in the house yesterday?”

“That it is highly inappropriate for women who’ve left the schoolroom and expect to be accepted in ballrooms,” she mimicked. “Women who have turned their cotton pinafores in for silk gowns should refrain from such uncouth behavior.”

“And…” Alistair prodded. He shouldn’t have to lecture Adeline on her decorum. Hadn’t he spent enough coin on her tutelage? For a woman of eight and ten, she could use a healthy dose of maturity.

“If such young women do not agree, then they are free to pack their trunk and return to the country.”

He smiled with pride at her ability to recite his lecture from the day before. “Very good. Miss Emmeline’s School of Education and Decorum for Ladies of Outstanding Quality has at least taught you one valuable skill. Now if only you could follow the sound advice you memorized.”

Adeline stuck her tongue out at him as she turned toward the door once again.

“Adeline!” Again her hand froze on the knob—knowing her luck would only get her so far with her eldest brother. “You must put your childish ways behind you if you favor a successful season.”

“Of course, my dearest, most loving, and wise brother.” Her talent for charming others—all the while mocking them—was a gift all of his siblings shared, though her sweet words never fooled him. “Now, if you do not mind, it is discourteous to keep guests waiting.”

“Not many are informed we are in London. Who is calling on you?”

And why hadn’t he been informed there was a visitor in his home? It was not only his aging parents but also his servants who’d taken a liking to his younger siblings, often doing their bidding without realizing it.

“It is only Theo, Alistair.” She said the name as if it should be familiar to him. Only Theo?

He wanted to demand she tell him who the bloody hell Theo was and what the man was doing calling on his sister without properly introducing himself to Adeline’s eldest brother before requesting an audience with her. True, their parents were still responsible for the lot of them; however, as the eldest male in good health, it fell on Alistair to keep his siblings safe.

And he could not do that if unfamiliar men were coming and going right under his nose.

Instead of ripping the door off its hinges and confronting the man who dared enter his home without an invitation, Alistair took a deep breath. Far different from the deep breath he’d taken earlier in his study as he’d allowed the pressure of his responsibility to settle. No, this deep breath was giving him time to gather his words to use as his weapon instead of his fists.

Many—especially his female siblings—called him domineering and imperious when it came to his family. But his father had trusted him to lead well in the viscount’s stead, and no matter the difficulty of the task, Alistair would do exactly that.

Adeline looked at him as if he’d grown a second head with five eyes. “Are you experiencing a decrease in memory, dear brother?”

His temper rose at Adeline’s reference to their father’s diminished mental capacity, and his sister knew she’d gotten to him. She was most successful at finding every little thing that irritated him and drawing his annoyance out. And since her return from boarding school, he’d realized she hadn’t changed. Not even the smallest bit.

The viscountess, Lady Melton, had hoped that separating the two siblings would ease their lifelong discontent and competitiveness with one another, but while Alistair had been made to mature far quicker than most, his sister was still the hellion she’d been since birth.

“I assure you, I am in full capacity of my senses, Miss Adeline,” he spoke the words slowly, pronouncing each as if she were the one who was struggling to grasp his meaning. “Why do you not introduce me to your friend, Theo?”

Maybe he was the boon Alistair had been praying for—a man to take his wayward sibling off his hands before the season had even begun. Alistair’s only regret was that he’d paid the modiste’s note the day before. He need push this Theo to announce his courtship quickly and have the betrothal papers drafted as soon as the man hinted at the possibility—before he discovered that Adeline was not the demure miss he assumed her to be, but a sharp-tongued, quick-witted, infuriating debutante who knew exactly how alluring her blonde hair, fair skin, and pale blue eyes were.

Adeline made no move to join her guest, most likely suspecting her brother had some plan contrived—and she would be correct.

“Come, dear sister,” he hissed. “Let us not keep our visitor waiting.”

“But—“

“Do you not want me to greet our guest?” he asked. This Theo gentleman must be highly unsuitable if Adeline were working this hard to keep Alistair from entering the room. Again, he searched his memory for any mention of a Theo—or, more likely, Theodore—who’d made his acquaintance. There was that elderly earl, Lord Bays. His given name was Theodore if Alistair weren’t mistaken, but he was far too old for his sister’s liking and, he gulped, wedded going on three decades. Certainly, Adeline hadn’t lowered herself to consorting with men who were spoken for. “Allow me to open the door.”

Adeline scrutinized him before shrugging. “Very well, let us greet our guest. Do not embarrass me before my friend.”

“Embarrass you?” Alistair asked, stunned. “Why ever would you think I would do something so juvenile?”

“You have been known to make me look awful and think it is comical.” She released the knob and crossed her arms. “Or need I remind you of how cruel you and Abel have been to me?”

“Must I remind you what a nuisance you were as a child?” he retorted. This was the way of things for them: bickering, bantering, and arguing—with no end in sight. “You would follow Abel and me around constantly. It was improper for a young girl of quality.”

“You lost me in the woods!” she shrieked. “I was only ten, and the sun was setting.”

“But you never followed us outdoors again, did you?”

Humpf.” She tapped her foot, waiting for him to agree that he would not mortify her. When he made no move to agree to her request, she continued, “And the pie?”

Alistair couldn’t help but chuckle at the reminder. “The pie dropping over the railing from the landing above the main hall was Abel, and you very well know that. We could not have known you’d be walking below at that precise moment.”

“My new frock was ruined from the berry juices.”

“Again, that was many years ago, Adeline,” he said. “I have grown—matured—as I hope you did as well during your time away at school. Now, please allow me to escort you to greet this Theo gentleman.”

A smirk landed on Adeline’s face, and her brow rose. “Of course, dear brother. Let us join our guest.”

He set his hand on her arm to halt her before she entered the room. “Do not think I take kindly to men calling on my sister without my express permission. This will not go unmentioned.”

“Oh, I certainly hope you do reprimand Theo.” Adeline giggled, a sound Alistair hadn’t heard in many years. Actually, he hadn’t heard it since she’d slipped a dozen pond frogs into his trunk before he’d left for Eton. The carriage had been made to stop only two hours’ journey from their country estate to free the trapped creatures; however, they’d already done the intended damage to his entire wardrobe, and Alistair had spent an entire week wearing the same set of clothes until new ones could be sent. “It is only what is deserved.”

Alistair had had enough of his sister’s irksome banter, so he stepped around her, pushing the door wide. “After you.” Alistair bowed mockingly as she flipped her hair over her shoulder and preceded him into the room.

Entering, he immediately scanned the room looking for the man who dared enter his home with no regard for proper etiquette, putting his sister’s reputation in question before her first season was underway.

“I do not appreciate hearing that someone dares cross the threshold of my home without suitable cause to do so.” Alistair’s voice thundered through the small receiving room. He wanted the man to be aware his actions were not agreeable to Alistair—Adeline’s guardian while in London. “You are certainly fortunate I am in residence to rectify the situation.”

He paused, glancing around the room for his intended target, but no man stood by the open hearth, nor by the windows, their drapes held back with a simple tie to allow the warm sunlight in.

A small gasp brought his attention to the delicate sofa his mother favored when in London.

“Lady Theodora Montgomery,” Adeline said, rushing to stand before the sofa. “I have missed you ever so much. I am happy to see you have arrived safely in London.”

After bending down to give the woman a quick hug, Adeline cast a smirk in her brother’s direction—knowing she’d successfully redirected the embarrassment to him. “I do apologize for my brother’s abominable greeting.”

The woman’s eyes were rounded with fright at his callous tirade as she stood abruptly, ready to flee.

“As you can see, he is as dreadful as I’ve told you all these years,” Adeline confessed, squeezing Lady Theodora’s hands before turning to Alistair. “Have you terrified my dear friend enough for one day, brother?”

The poor woman was so startled she hadn’t managed a single word in greeting—Alistair regretted any alarm he’d caused her; however, she must understand Adeline had misled him. She was certainly a gently bred woman, unlike his hoyden lot of sisters.

“Lady Theodora,” Alistair started, attempting to mend the dismal situation. “I am Mr. Alistair Price, Adeline’s eldest brother—and I assure you, I am not the horrid man my sister claims.”

The woman looked wholly unconvinced by his proclamation, but offered her own greeting nonetheless. “It is nice to make your acquaintance, Mr. Price, but please refrain from dropping a pie on my head while I’m in your home. I fear my mother would be quite vexed if I ruined my new gown.”

Alistair took a step back at her brazen comment as his sister doubled over in laughter.

“My dear, Theo,” Adeline said, a giggle on the fringes of her words, “I have missed you so.”

Why did he feel as if he’d walked into a trap set up by his most cunning sister?

About the author and where to find her:

christina-photoChristina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since.   Christina enjoys a quiet life in Northern California with her family, her wine, and lots of coffee. Oh, and her books…don’t forget her books! Most days she can be found writing, reading, or traveling the great state of California.

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SWEEPSTAKES

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Except and Sweepstakes: The Unleashed (Book #2: The Undelightened) by Bentz Deyo

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the-unleashedThe Unleashed (Book #2: The Undelightened Series) by Bentz Deyo.  Genre: YA Contemporary/Fantasy. 

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Leam Holt has done the unthinkable. He’s saved Harbing from utter destruction by consuming the toxin that was intended for the entire town and he’s rescued Eloa’s father from Darkness Headquarters.

But at what cost? Stricken by the poison and unable to remember who he is or access his Light side, Leam is captured by Gideon. Surrounded by evil, Leam revels in his undiluted Dark power and connects with other violent and corrupt kids, especially the bold and gorgeous Rylan. Still, Leam struggles to piece together his memories, including those of the beautiful Eloa, whom he discovers is in grave danger.

While forces of Light work to free Leam, the world is thrown into turmoil. The battle over the prophet, the person who will lead the world into complete Darkness or Light, is heating up, and Leam’s role in the war grows murkier.

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About the author and where to find him:

bentz

Deyo is a New Jersey native who can usually be found running, writing, jotting new ideas in his million notebooks… or explaining things like “why pee is yellow” and “what is wind?” to his three year old daughter. He’s a fantasy nerd at heart and is currently writing book 3 of The Undelightened Series.

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Read Below for an excerpt from The Unleashed

UnLeashed  Copyright © 2017 by Bentz Deyo

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of the publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to locales, actual events or persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Chapter 1

 

A man shot a burst of energy from his palm.

The force hit the boy square in the chest, propelling him through a stretch of woodlands until he was flung out onto paved road. The back of his neck struck asphalt first, as he skidded into the curb, the road curving down a hill out of sight.

The boy could hear footsteps, many of them, scuffling up the hill. Through the haze of dizzy stars, he dragged himself to his feet and stumbled behind a nearby sidewalk garbage can.

Peering through the garbage can’s metal mesh, the boy watched about fifteen figures approach. They were draped in trench coats as black as the sky had surely been an hour ago, although now, from below the horizon, the sun was lending the sky some light and a little color.

“Keep your eyes peeled,” a short, dumpy man growled, glaring at the woods from which the boy had been flung. “Gideon wants this kid found.”

“He wants this prospect found,” a taller man with a razor- sharp goatee said. “But Kavitch is right, everybody, the boy could be nearby.”

“How do we know that?” a third man asked, big and blond.

“The prospect disappeared from his home here in Harbing. Vanished into the air right in front of his brother and a girl of Light. Those two are being brought into headquarters now.”

The boy huddled closer to the garbage can, hugging his knees to keep them from shaking. Could he be this “prospect” these people were talking about? Why the hell couldn’t he remember anything? His home in Harbing? A brother? A …

“Girl of Light, Flint?” asked the blond man.

The man with the goatee nodded. “Daughter of the goon we got locked up in the dungeons. Seems to be a family affair.”

“What’s the prospect look like?” a black-h aired woman with a hoarse voice asked.

“We go by his hands,” Flint said, peering at a spot near the middle of the road. “He’s got white markings on his thumbs and index fingers.”

The boy went straight to his hands and his heart lurched. Identical white, thick- banded scars curved from the tips of his thumbs to the tips of his index fingers. Two things struck him at once: he was some sort of prospect wanted by people in black trench coats, and he had no memory at all, no sense of identity.

He was also losing blood, which he could feel spilling down the back of his neck, running a wet warm trail between his shoulder blades.

“Flin’, wha’ you lookin’ a’?” someone masked by the others asked.

The boy followed Flint’s line of sight as Flint moved to the yellow lines, bent down, and put his finger to a small, shiny, dark pool. With a jolt of panic, the boy grabbed the back of his head.

“Blood,” Flint said, as it dripped off his finger.

The last thing the boy saw peeking through the mesh wiring was a flash of Flint’s palm before the garbage can blasted apart in an explosion of debris and metal shards. When the boy was able to blink his eyes open, he found himself completely surrounded by a circle of black trench coats. Facing him stood Flint.

“Gideon’s looking for you, buddy,” Flint said, his face darkening. “Believes you’re the culprit who foiled last night’s plans.”

2

Plans? The boy thought, searching for a way out of the circle but knowing it wasn’t there. What plans?

“Was it you?” Flint asked.

The boy shrugged.

“You don’t know?” Flint scratched his razor- sharp goatee.

“What did you do last night?” The boy shook his head.

“What do you know, buddy?”

“Nothing.” The boy’s gaze darted around the faces he could see. No kind eyes. No smiles. Heart hammering, he forced his face calm. “Just what I’ve heard from you.”

A tall black man beside Flint grinned, all gums, no teeth. “Then why aren’t you scared of us, handsome?”

“Quiet!” Flint shouted, drawing his ring finger to the side of his head. His eyes widened. The boy’s extremities went numb. “Another telemast coming in, boys. Seems the prospect’s status has upgraded. Enemy to be taken in alive.” Without a breath, Flint added, “The order’s from Gideon himself.”

The boy felt fear shiver through the group, as each trench- coater raised beam-s traight arms in unison, every palm faced right at him.

“Take him now, boys,” Flint said, “before he vanishes, as he’s apt to do.”

With a quick swirl of dark movement, a hood was stuffed over the boy’s head. Firm hands were gripped around his wrists and ankles.

The boy could see nothing but black.

3

Chapter 2

 

Fluctuating in and out of consciousness, back and forth between full darkness and a thick grogginess where she sensed shadows of movement and blanketed light, Eloa tiredly won-

dered not if she was stuck in a dream or a nightmare, but whether this reality would be dreamlike or nightmarish if the fog were to clear.

“How far’d you stick the needle in, Cabus? She can barely open her eyes.”

“She’ll be fine, Samara; it was a pinch.”

Eloa didn’t recognize the voices. She was too sleepy, like her head was full of cotton.

“To the bone?” the woman, Samara, asked with a mixture of annoyance and panic. “Our orders didn’t say induce a coma.”

“She won’t slip that deep. She’ll be fully alert by …”

The voice of the man, Cabus, faded as Eloa fell back into blackness, swimming there until consciousness returned and reality was again weighed down by whatever drug they had administered. She was lying flat, it was dark, and she was moving, one captor by her head and the other by her feet. There was also soft whimpering beside her. She was not the only captive. She flopped her woozy head toward the whimpering, but slipped away again. Something of a memory came to her: a shiny beige oval hovering above her, a face, a large face, with long locks of golden hair.

“Dad,” Eloa muttered. “Where are you? You okay?”

“What’d she say?” the voice by her head asked. Samara. Reality. Moving through the dark.

“Told you it’s not a coma,” Cabus said, gloating. Eloa tried to blink in her surroundings. Was it a tunnel? Where were they? What was this?

“What do you want from me?” a boy next to her screamed. “Wh- wh- what was I supposed to do?”

“Now, now, Holt pup,” Cabus said, his voice grinning. “Be

still.”

“Leam was there! I did my job! I was roping him in and next second he was gone. How was I supposed to see that coming if no one else did?”

“Take it up with Gideon, Zach,” Samara said.

Zach? Eloa thought, battling the black clouds of the drugs for clarity. Zach? Zach? The thought of the name tasted bad.

“No one told me he was a prospect, whatever the hell that means!” Zach shouted with desperation. “No one told me he had powers. No one told me he could disappear into thin air. And I’m better than him anyway! Can’t you see — ”

“I said take it up with Gideon, you little shit,” Samara snapped. “Another word and I’ll tear your tongue out.”

They have Zach, too, Eloa remembered. Zach Holt. That’s right — they got us from Holt Manor. Zach dragged me there. I remember now. And Leam … Did he get away?

Leam … Leam …

Blackness took her completely again, reality gone. The memory oval returned, smaller this time, paler, no golden hair. This face, also a man, was her dad’s age, her dad’s friend … “Porlo,” Eloa moaned.

“Did she say … ?”

Samara, even through Eloa’s haze, sounded stunned.

5

“Porlo,” Cabus said, sounding equally baffled. “I heard it too.”

“Porlo,” Eloa moaned again, opening her eyes. Bursts of red torch flames above her head illuminated patches of stone wall as they moved.

“How would she know Porlo, Cabus? She’s of the Light — by the look of her she might not have even purified yet.”

“Don’t know. But I’m sure Gideon — ”

Pain suddenly rippled through Eloa’s body. She bit back a scream, her teeth digging into her lip.

“Her body’s fighting the injection — can you see it?” Cabus asked, sounding amused. “She’ll sleep hard soon, then come to.

Yes, then she’ll come to.”

“We’re nearly there anyway,” Samara said. “Her first. Cell A.”

Through the pain, fear crippled Eloa’s mind. She could only grasp onto the horrible thought that she was now a prisoner, most likely at Darkness Headquarters, and her dad, since Leam had deserted her, she remembered now, was probably dead.

“And the Holt pup?” Cabus asked Samara.

“To his mother.”

Eloa closed her eyes from the pockets of red fire, trying to turn off her mind. Her pain was abating, as was the little strength she had been able to muster. Soon her eyelids grew heavy, and the brightness of the flames beyond them dimmed. The world went dark, the sounds of her captors’ footsteps faded, and her last thought was that whatever was to be the horror show she’d experience here, she’d wake up to it.

6

The Giveaway:

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Signed Paperback, notepad, two “stay weird” pencils, acorn bookmark, Celtic acorn money clip and “ramones” t-shirt size Large; US only.  (5) 5 runner up prizes of Free Kindle Codes to download The Undelightened (book 1)

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Offensive Rebound: Holding Court by M.J. Fields

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TRAE: It’s a call that changes my life–and my little girl’s. Years ago, playing for the NBA was the dream, but the Seattle Stallions suck. Worse than that, my old teammate is now the star center–not to mention my number one rival. There has to be a catch, some sort of agenda. Before I was injured, I was the best. Now? There’s no way they want me.  But when I see the roster and salaries, it all comes together. It’s a chance to get on the court again and change our lives. And I just can’t wait for the opportunity to finally take him down. What I never counted on is Courtney Cohen being the game changer.   COURTNEY: I inherited the Bad News Bears of the NBA. When I discovered the star center, my ex fiancé, cheating on me, all I want is to jump ship before the whole thing sinks. But with revenge on my mind, I exact a plan. Take down the dirty player and save my father’s dream. Suddenly twelve minutes is too little time, and a season is not long enough. Will it be love, or just a game?

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Excerpt from Offensive Rebound: Holding Court:

“You still afraid of me?” Courtney asks. I push her hair out of her face. “No.” “I’m afraid of you.” “No beer muscles tonight?” I ask, glancing at her empty glasses. She shakes her head. I scoot in closer to her. “Tell me what you’re afraid of.” “Liking you too much,” she says then takes a drink. I turn her in her seat so she’s facing me. “You’re gonna like me even more when I’m inside you.” Her body grows taut. “You can’t say stuff like that. It makes me uncomfortable.” “Well, now I’m going to have to do it more often to get you used to it; make you crave it, beg for it.”

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About the author and where to find her:

mj-fieldsUSA Today bestselling author MJ Fields love of writing was in full swing by age eight.  Together with her cousins, she wrote a newsletter and sold it for ten cents to family members.  She self-published her first contemporary, new adult romance in January 2013. Today she has completed seven self-published series, The Love series, The Wrapped series, The Burning Souls series, The Men of Steel series, Ties of Steel series, The Rockers of Steel series and The Norfolk series.  MJ is a hybrid author and publishes an Indie book almost every month, and is signed with a traditional publisher, Loveswept, Penguin Random House, for her co- written series The Caldwell Brothers. Hendrix, Morrison, and Jagger. All three books in the series are published. The Caldwell brothers don’t grow into alphas, when their mother passes away they become her legacy, her good in the world of bad.  MJ was a former small business owner, who closed shop so she could write full time. She lives in central New York, surrounded by family and friends. Her house is full of pets, friends, and noise ninety percent of the time, and she would have it no other way.

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Sign up for MJ’s monthly newsletter with giveaways: http://bit.ly/mjupdates

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Excerpt: The F-Word by Sandra Marton

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So let’s get this straight. This is a story about romance.  Well, it’s not a story. I mean, it’s not something somebody made up. It’s about me. And yeah, in case you’re wondering, I’m a guy.  Surprised? Sure you are. You figure those words just don’t go together. Romance, with a capital R. Guy, with a capital G. You’re probably sitting there and smirking. What could a dude possibly know about romance? You figure we’re big on sex. But romance?
You’re right.  Romance is not a male thing.  And that’s exactly my problem.  The bottom line is that whatever you think you know about men and romance is pretty much correct. You figure we’re big on the F-word as long as it stands for F*ck and not Forever.
 

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Excerpt from The F-Word:

Matthew O’Malley is one hell of a catch. He’s rich, handsome, charming, smart—and every woman who’s slept with him says he’s fantastic in bed.

This is all true, but he’s also a guy who got where he is today by working hard and by hiring the best people.

Bailey Abram is one of those people. She’s Matthew’s PA. She’s loyal, efficient, brilliant—and she’s never been with a man in her life.

Suddenly, it’s crisis time. Bailey’s cousin is getting married and Bailey’s mother insists she come home for the wedding. Bailey refuses. She and her cousin have a long, unpleasant history. Bailey was the straight A student. Violet was the prom queen and she’s never let Bailey forget it. So Bailey tells a huge lie. She can’t come to the wedding, she says, because she’s going away for the weekend with a rich, gorgeous, sexy guy.

Matthew overhears this. And he sees her burst into tears when she ends the call to her mother. He hates to see Bailey so unhappy. After all, this is his PA. His dedicated paragon of efficiency. Impulsively, he offers to help. Why not go to the wedding with her? Play the part of her rich, gorgeous, sexy boyfriend?

          So what if it means spending four intense days getting to know each other outside the office? So what if it means turning Bailey from a woman who dresses like somebody’s maiden aunt into a hot-looking babe? So what if it means teaching her how to touch him and be touched by him, kiss him and be kissed by him? There won’t be any real sex because it’s only a game.

Right?
That’s all it is.

Just a smoking-hot, set-fire-to-the-sheets game.

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About the author and where to find her:

sandra-martonSandra Marton is a USA Today Bestselling Author with approximately 35,000,000 (and counting!) books in print in twenty-plus languages. Sandra’s Harlequin Presents novels all feature the sexy, gorgeous, complex, tough on the outside but tender on the inside Alpha heroes she loves to create. So do all her brand new single title novels: The Prince of Pleasure, Emily: Sex & Sensibility (The Wilde Sisters, book one), Jaimie: Fire & Ice (The Wilde Sisters, book two) and, coming soon, Lissa: Sugar & Spice (The Wilde Sister, book three).

Sandra has won the Holt Medallion. She’s been a finalist for the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award four times. She’s won eight Romantic Times Magazine Reviewers’ Choice Awards and was honored with their Career Achievement Award for Series Romance.

Sandra always dreamed of becoming a writer. She wrote poems when she was little, moved on to writing short stories by the time she was in university. She was graduated with Honors in English but, she says, life—a lovely one—intervened with her writing dream. She married, had a family, became active politically in the small town outside New York City where she and her husband lived. Then, one day, she paused long enough to realize her dream was getting away from her and decided to do something about it.

Sandra wrote her very first novel, a romance she called Rapture in the Sands. She sent a synopsis and one chapter to several publishers. A senior editor at Harlequin liked what she’d read and asked to see the rest. After revisions, Harlequin Mills and Boon Ltd bought and published the book.

Today, Sandra is a full time author. She lives in northern Connecticut with her husband, who was her childhood sweetheart, in a sun-drenched house surrounded by woods..

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Undying Love (Book #1: Secrets of Roseville) by Betty Bolté

 

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Undying Love (Book #1: Secrets of Roseville)
by Betty Bolté
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 10, 2017

When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Traces.)

About the author and where to find her:

Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master of Arts in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.

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