Excerpt: Owen (Book #1: The Tudor Trilogy) by Tony Riches

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Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, OWEN is the epic tale of one young man’s
incredible courage and resilience as he changes the course of English history. England
1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.
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 Excerpt from Owen:

 
Winter of 1422: I tense at the sound of approaching footsteps as I wait to meet my new mistress, the young widow of King Henry V, Queen Catherine of Valois. Colourful Flemish
tapestries decorate the royal apartments of Windsor Castle, dazzling my senses and reminding me how life in the royal household presents new opportunities. My life will change forever, if she finds me acceptable, yet doubt nags at my mind.
The doors open and Queen Catherine’s usher appears. I have been told to approach the queen and bow, but must not look directly at her or speak, other than to say my name, until spoken  to. Taking a deep breath I enter the queen’s private rooms where she sits surrounded by her  sharp-eyed ladies-in-waiting. I have the briefest glimpse of azure silk, gold brocade, gleaming pearls and a breath of exotic perfume. I remove my hat and bow, my eyes cast down to her
velvet-slippered feet.
‘Owen Tudor, Your Highness, Keeper of your Wardrobe.’ My voice echoes in the high-ceilinged room.  One of her ladies fails to suppress her giggle, a sweet enough sound, if you are not the reason for it. I forget my instruction and look up to see the queen regarding me with confident, ice-blue eyes.
‘You are a Welshman?’ Her words sound like an accusation.
‘My full name is Owain ap Maredydd ap Tudur, although the English call me Owen Tudor. I come from a long line of Welsh noblemen, Your Highness.’ I regret my boast as soon as I say the words.
‘Owen Tudor…’ This time her voice carries a hint of amusement.  I put on my hat and pull my shoulders back. She examines me, as one might study a horse before offering a price. After years of hard work I have secured a position worthy of my skills, yet it means nothing without the approval of the queen.
‘You look more like a soldier than a servant?’ The challenge in her words seems to tease me.
‘I have served in the king’s army as a soldier.’ I feel all their eyes upon me.
‘Yet… you have no sword?’ She sounds curious.
‘Welshmen are not permitted to carry a sword in England, Your Highness.’ I am still bitter at this injustice.  I remember the last time I saw her, at the king’s state funeral in Westminster.
Her face veiled, she rode in a gilded carriage drawn by a team of black horses. I followed on foot as the funeral procession passed through sombre crowds, carrying the king’s standard and wearing the red, blue and gold livery of the royal household.
‘You fought in France?’
‘With the king’s bowmen, Your Highness, before I became a squire.’
The queen has none of the air of sadness I expected. Slim, almost too thin, her childlike wrists and delicate fingers are adorned with gold rings sparkling with diamonds and rubies. Her neck is long and slender, her skin pale with the whiteness of a woman who rarely sees the sun. Her golden-brown hair is gathered in tight plaits at the back of her head and her headdress  fashionably emphasises her smooth, high forehead.
King Henry V chose as his bride the youngest daughter of the man they called the ‘mad king’, Charles VI. They said King Charles feared he was made of glass and would shatter if he didn’t take care. Charles promised Henry he would inherit the throne and become the next King of France and there were rumours of a secret wedding dowry, a fortune in gold.
Barely a year into his marriage, the king left his new wife pregnant and alone in Windsor. He returned to fight his war in France, capturing the castle of Dreux before marching on the  fortress at Meaux, defended by Jean de Gast, the Bastard of Vaurus, a cruel, brave captain. The king never saw his son and heir, his namesake.
The siege of Meaux was hard won and he suffered the bloody flux, the dreaded curse of the battlefield. Men had been known to recover, if they were strong and lucky. Many did not, despite the bloodletting and leeches. The flux is an inglorious way to die, poisoned by your own body, especially for a victorious warrior king who would never now be King of France.
The queen has an appraising look in her eyes. She has buried her hopes for the future along with her husband. I remember I am looking at the mother of the new king, once he comes of age. One thing is certain; she will not be left to raise the prince alone. Ambitious men are already vying for their share of power and influence.
At last she speaks. ‘And now you are in my household?’
‘My appointment to your service was made by Sir Walter Hungerford, Steward of the King’s Household and constable here at Windsor.’
‘Sir Walter was one of my husband’s most trusted men—the executor of the king’s will.’
‘I worked as squire to Sir Walter for many years, in England and France.’
‘You speak French?’
‘A little, Your Highness.’ I answer in French.
‘Were you with King Henry at the siege of Rouen?’ Now she speaks in French.
‘I was, Your Highness. I will never forget it.’ I answer again in French. I learned the language on the battlefield and in the taverns of Paris and can swear as well as any Frenchman.
‘I heard the people of Rouen were starving… before they surrendered.’ Her voice is softer now and she speaks in English.
‘War is cruel, yet now there is less appetite for it.’
‘I pray to God that is true.’ She glances back at her ladies, who are watching and listening, as ladies-in-waiting do. Queen Catherine regards me, giving nothing away. ‘I welcome you to our  household, Master Tudor.’
‘Thank you, Your Highness.’
Our first meeting is over. She is unlike any woman I have known, fascinating, intriguing and beautiful. More than that; there is something about her I find deeply attractive, a dangerous  thing to admit. Perhaps my fascination is with the glimpse I’d seen of the real woman, the  same age as myself, behind the title of Dowager Queen of England.
‘Aim high, boy,’ my garrulous longbow tutor once advised me, his voice gruff from too much shouting. ‘It’s not the Welsh way to play safe and wait until you have a clear shot!’ The man  spits hard on the ground to add emphasis and stares knowingly into my eyes, standing so  close I can almost feel the coarse grey stubble of his beard. ‘When you aim high,’ he points an imaginary bow up at the sky, ‘your arrow will fly far into the enemy ranks and strike with the full vengeance of God.’
‘Who, of course, is on our side.’ A daring, foolhardy thing for a boy like me to say to a man who can punch me to the ground or worse.
For a moment I see the old man’s mind working as he tries to decide if I am being disrespectful, sacrilegious or both. The moment passes. I notch a new arrow into the powerful yew longbow and fire it high into the sky, without a care for where it will fall.
I smile at the memory as I return down the long passage to the servants’ hall. Life as a king’s archer was hard, but I enjoyed the camaraderie of the other men and it taught me many  things. As well as how to use a longbow, I learned to watch my back, when to speak up and when to remain silent. My tutor died in the thick mud of Normandy, yet his lesson serves me well. I know to aim high.
That night, wide awake in the darkness, I reflect on the unthinkable turn my life has taken. I always imagined I would become a merchant, setting up shop somewhere in the narrow, dirty streets of London, or perhaps an adventurer, sailing off to seek my fortune. I remain a  servant, yet for the first time I have my own lodging room, however small and cramped.
My reward for long and loyal service as squire to Sir Walter has been this new appointment, a position of great responsibility. The queen’s wardrobe is a treasure store of priceless gold and jewels, as well as all her expensive clothes and most valuable possessions. Such a senior post in the royal household pays more than I have earned in my life and carries influence, allowing me regular and privileged access to the queen.
I resolve to become indispensable to her. High and mighty lords and dukes will come and go, with their false concerns and self-serving advice, yet I will see her every day, tending to her  needs. I recall how she referred to Sir Walter as one of the king’s most trusted men. That is  what I wish to become; Queen Catherine’s most trusted man.
óóó

About the author and where to find him:

 photo Owen Author Tony Riches_zpsc5sikbwc.jpgTony Riches is a UK historical fiction author living in Pembrokeshire, Wales. You can find out more on Tony’s website http://www.tonyriches.com and his blog ‘The Writing Desk’ at http://www.tonyriches.co.uk. Find him on Twitter @tonyriches. Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is available in eBook and paperback on Amazon, where it is a #1 historical fiction
bestseller.  There is a short video trailer for the book :
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Spotlight: Animal’s Reformation (Insurgents MC Series) by Chiah Wilder

 

Sometimes the last person you want to be with is the one you can’t be without.
A member of the Insurgents MC, Animal is a rough, free-loving biker. Hanging with his brothers, riding his customized Harley, and partying with the ladies are his idea of the ideal life.
Years ago, he made a stupid mistake with a woman he barely knew, but he pays the child support every month and sends cards and presents to his out-of-state daughter on her birthday and on holidays.
He doesn’t want a steady woman, and he certainly isn’t ready to settle down and have a family. Life is just too good now, and there are always so many women who want to come and play with this rugged biker.
Then one afternoon, the mother of his child struts into the clubhouse with his daughter in tow and tells him she’s done. She walks away, leaving Animal and Lucy staring at each other.
What’s he supposed to do? He knows about bikes and hard partying, not seven-year-old girls.
He has to change his ways, and his new hot next-door neighbor isn’t helping to keep his libido in check. The way her long dark hair swings just above her sweet behind has him thinking all kinds of nasty thoughts, but she doesn’t give him the time of day.
What’s up with that?
Olivia Mooney is very aware of her neighbor’s good looks and his finely chiseled body, but she doesn’t want to get involved. He doesn’t realize it, but she’s his daughter’s tutor at school, and she can’t get involved. She spends her nights thinking about him and chatting with an intriguing man on an after dark dating site.
Then a series of murders occur in the surrounding counties, and it looks like they are creeping closer to Pinewood Springs. At first the cops are stumped, but over time a pattern begins to emerge: the women all used an after dark dating site.
As fear and danger slink closer, Olivia is thrown into the arms of the sexy biker, forever changing their lives.
The Insurgents MC series are standalone romance novels. This is Animal’s story. This book contains violence, abuse, strong language, and steamy/graphic sexual scenes. It describes the life and actions of an outlaw motorcycle club. HEA. No cliffhangers.

 

 

Chiah Wilder writes about rough, sexy men who know how to treat their women.

Always a lover of books, she began writing at a young age and continued through college with collections of short stories. Figuring she had to grow up and get a “real” job, her writing was placed on the back burner.

Her love of reading has always been center front in her life. Chiah’s love of bad boys both in and out of fiction has inspired her books. She loves an alpha male whose softer side is brought out by a passionate, spirited woman. In fiction there are no rules or boundaries, and fantasies can go as far as the characters want to take them. Steamy, romances with tough, sexy bad boys are her guilty pleasure along with brownies, cheddar cheese, and movie marathons. 

 
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Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

42201431Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: NetGalley and Gallery Books          Rating: 4/5 stars

Olive and Ami are the most nonidentical, identical twins in the history of ever!  While they may look startlingly alike, that is where the similarities end.  Ami is calm, cool, collected, poised, elegant, confident, organized, and utterly prepared while Olive is most decidedly, none of those things.  While Olive has generally accepted her role as the other twin, there are times when the differences between she and Ami are achingly obvious.  Ami’s wedding would be one of those times.

As the wedding day wears on, Olive manages to put out all fires, except three: 1) the best man is an ass and she can’t completely avoid him as maid of honor; 2) the groom is a complete idiot, but the heart wants what the heart wants and; 3) the bad shellfish that causes everyone except Olive and the best man (UGH!) to become gravely ill.  Thinking she’ll spend the next week or so caring for her twin and their extended family, Olive shocked to find her twin has other plans.  With an all-inclusive and totally non-refundable honeymoon in Hawaii waiting to be claimed, Ami convinces Olive that not only will she go on Ami’s honeymoon, but she’ll do so with the (UGH!) best man, Ethan. 

One lousy plane ride later . . . .

Hawaii sure has a way of softening a person’s heart and as soon as Olive gets a good look at her surroundings, she begins to soften towards Ethan.  Softening means talking and talking could just lead to liking if Olive isn’t careful.  What’s more, if she and Ethan begin to like each other, they may really like each other and that always leads to sexy times and possible complications.  But, sexy times with Ethan could be delightful so Olive begins talking and liking 😊

Ten days in paradise do wonders for Ethan and Olive and what they each discover is a grave miscommunication early in their relationship, an ongoing miscommunication between Olive’s sister and her new husband, and a rock and a hard place.  Both Olive and Ethan must decide what to do about Ami and her husband and what each feel’s is right may cause a crashing and burning of their burgeoning relationship.  To bad what happens and is discovered in paradise can’t simply stay in paradise.

The Bottom Line:  This is a great little rom-com that is fairly predictable, but entertaining enough that you won’t care.  Olive is feisty and fiery and her bantering and bickering with Ethan is often quite funny.  As Olive and Ethan begin to work out their issues (in bed!) the story takes a sweeter turn that is tinged with foreboding.  Olive and Ethan have not had an easy relationship from the very beginning so when their respective worlds blow up thanks to other people’s issues, it is quite a sad turn of events.   However, as this is a stand-alone read, there is an HEA and getting to that happy ending is well worth all the drama and nonsense.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Hired by the Single Dad by Whitley Cox

 

He needs someone to work with his son, she needs a job. They need to keep their hands to themselves.
 
Welcome to Seattle, the Emerald City and home to The Single Dads of Seattle. Ten sexy single fathers who play poker every Saturday night, have each other’s backs, love their children without quarter, and hope to one day find love again.
 
This is Mark’s story …
 
Single Dad of Seattle Dr. Mark Herron can’t believe anyone would celebrate their divorce. The dissolution of his marriage left him and his son with a huge hole to fill in their home–and their hearts. So when he overhears a lovely stranger and her friends celebrating the end of her marriage, he’s mystified–and then intrigued–by her determination to put the past behind her. But when he learns that Tori Jones needs a job, he knows this can’t be a coincidence.
 
Tori might be telling the world nothing’s got her down, but the truth is she’s hit rock bottom. Her husband didn’t just cheat on her, he took all her money, including her college fund, which means her marriage is over, and so is her dream to go to grad school and help children with special needs. So when a handsome stranger offers her a job caring for his special needs son, she knows she can’t turn it down–
 
Even if what she’s feeling for Mark is far from professional.
 
Now Mark’s finding it hard to keep his hands to himself and Tori’s struggling to keep her thoughts from straying to dangerous territory. Will they be able to keep their distance from each other or will being hired by the sexy single dad be Tori’s biggest problem of all? 
Excerpt

“What are your plans this weekend?” she asked, feeling like she needed to keep the conversation flowing. When they grew quiet, her imagination took the reins and drove her train of thought straight into the gutter in Sexyville, USA. And that gutter was filthy!

He lifted one shoulder, passing her the dish towel so she could dry her hands after she removed the drain plug. “Poker night Saturday, then I think I might take Gabe to The Museum of Flight on Sunday. He loves it there.”

Right, his “dads’ club” and their weekly poker night. 

What were they all like? Did they sit around bashing their ex-wives? Bashing women? Or was it more of a support group for the struggles of independent child rearing? Or were they typical men and didn’t talk about their feelings at all and just drank beer, ate junk food, grunted and gambled? 

Probably the latter. 

“Sounds like a good time. Do you really gamble away your money, or is it all for fun?”

He hung up the dish towel, his gaze sliding toward her. “Real money.”

She pursed her lips. “Wow. Maybe when I have two pennies to rub together again, someday I can take a trip to Vegas and sit at a poker table. Take in the action. The excitement. Are you any good?”

His smile was coy. “I win more than I lose.”

“That’s good.”

She needed to get going. She needed to get home, get away from the delicious-smelling single dad standing in front of her wearing a black T-shirt far too tight to leave anything to the imagination, and gray sweatpants she wanted to rip off him with her teeth. 

“Well, I … uh … I guess I should get going. Those fish aren’t going to feed themselves.” She slid her hand along the cool quartz countertop, letting it ground her and bring down her body temperature. She was in a full-on inferno. The way Mark was looking at her … it was giving her false hope. It was giving her the wrong idea. 

The wrong idea to be bad. To do bad, bad things. 

Bad, bad fun things.

But, no she couldn’t go there. 

Nope. 

Not ever. 

Not with her boss. 

Not with the single dad. 

His gaze never left hers as his head bobbed in a nearly indiscernible nod. “I guess so.” 

Was that disappointment on his face? Were his eyes asking her to stay? Were they asking her to strip naked and bend over the counter? 

Oh God … Uncle John eating chicken wings without a shirt on, his enormous, hairy, barrel chest covered in barbecue sauce, sitting in a kiddie pool with water wings and a floaty ring.

Phew. Crisis averted.

Keeping her hand on the counter for balance, because her faculties seemed to have suddenly escaped her, she went to move past him, only her fingers knocked something off the counter onto the tile floor. 

“Shit,” Tori murmured. She glanced down, only to find Mark’s phone, of all possible things, on the floor. “Oh no!”

“It’s okay.” He bent down to get it.

She bent down too.

Just as her hand wrapped around the phone, his hand wrapped around her wrist. Electricity ripped through her the moment his fingers grazed her skin. A pulse so intense, so hot, so charged she felt like she’d stuck a fork into an electrical socket. She leapt back, dropping the phone and pulling her hand free from his grasp. 

“Sorry.” He stood up. 

Tori swallowed the lump in her throat, pushing down the emotions, the arousal, the pure animalistic lust she felt for the man standing in front of her. “I—I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t crack the screen.”

He turned the phone over in his big, sexy palm, a roguish grin pulling at the corners of his delicious-looking lips. “Not a scratch.”

She licked her lips. “That’s good.”

His eyes locked on hers. “Yeah.”

Tori’s mouth parted, little puffs of air coming out as if she’d just run a mile. Her heart beat rapidly in her chest, and her palms grew clammy. 

Mark’s gaze burned into her. “Tori … ”

“Yes?”

“Ah, fuck!”

And then he was on her.

A Canadian West Coast baby born and raised, Whitley is married to her high school sweetheart, and together they have two beautiful daughters and a fluffy dog. She spends her days making food that gets thrown on the floor, vacuuming Cheerios out from under the couch and making sure that the dog food doesn’t end up in the air conditioner. But when nap time comes, and it’s not quite wine o’clock, Whitley sits down, avoids the pile of laundry on the couch, and writes.
 
A lover of all things decadent; wine, cheese, chocolate and spicy erotic romance, Whitley brings the humorous side of sex, the ridiculous side of relationships and the suspense of everyday life into her stories. With single dads, firefighters, Navy SEALs, mommy wars, body issues, threesomes, bondage and role-playing, these books have everything we need to satisfy the curious kink in all of us.

Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Tales from the Beach House by James Aylott

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Tales from The Beach House is a satiric work of fiction that sharply captures the
“Man-Bites-Dog” world of contemporary South Florida. The Beach House, a
crumbling old motel, is home to a collection of eccentric residents. Amongst
their ranks; a tennis pro at the end of his game, a mortuary scientist whose
love life has flat-lined, a paparazzo photographer searching for scoops, a
bawdy duo fronting an improbable Ponzi enterprise, a beauty from “The Islands”
with a dark secret, a fried-out TV weather man who claims to channel God, a
middle school principal with a soft spot for Crack, a Rod Stewart cover artist
searching for redemption, and a waitress serving a side order of erotic
fiction. Each member of this cohort is in search of something – fast money, an
easy hustle, fleeting romance, enduring love, fame, power, dignity, happiness…
a place they can call home. As well as facing their own tender, tragic, and
often hilarious personal circumstances, this eclectic gang is compelled by
necessity to band together when a sinister developer threatens the very
existence of The Beach House.
Excerpt

Apartment #12 Walking on Lake Okeechobee

Randy Showers stood outside the front door of Apartment #12, drinking his morning
coffee. He drank only one hundred percent Hawaiian from the Ka’u region of the
Big Island. He never added milk or sugar. Any “junk” put into what he said was
the finest coffee in the world was, in his opinion, sacrilege.
Randy was well versed in sacrilege; after all, he was a collared Man of God who often
told his flock that he personally channeled Jesus. From his elevated second-floor
corner position, Randy had a good view of the hive of activity around The Beach
House. Palm trees were bending in the force of strong, warm winds that were
blowing from the direction of the Everglades. A team of surveyors was measuring
up the property parcel with an array of fancy gadgets. A slow-moving and
confused-looking man from FPL was tagging and flagging the route of the gas
lines between the building and the street. A crew from Surf Way Developments
could be seen busily cleaning vulgar graffiti that had appeared on the
billboard advertising its new planned development – a large penis and balls in
flamingo-pink spray paint wasn’t exactly exuding the dream of luxury that would
soon be on offer in this locale. The swimming pool had already been drained and
cordoned off to save the Homeowners’ Association spending money on cleaning
services for the remainder of the building’s existence. All these events and
commotions only added to the general glumness and end-of-days feel circulating
around The Beach House.
All the tenants had been served a thirty-days notice to vacate. Pete and Angel,
with their inside knowledge as owners, said it was almost certain that nothing
could be done to halt the sale, as it had been a binding majority of title
holders who had pushed through the deal. Paperwork had been processed, permits
pulled, and the City and State had all signed off on the condominium
termination and the replacement project. The city of Delray had been
overzealous in accommodating this development – no doubt seeing all the extra
dollars that increased assessment on the new building would bring to their
coffers. The State was also unexpectedly helpful. They hadn’t relished the
impending takeover of this dysfunctional Homeowners’ Association, as it would
have been real work for some happily underworked Tallahassee civil servants.
The owners were simply ecstatic to be rid of their real-estate headaches and
were united in satisfaction that the beasts that were Bessie and Gabriel, if
not slain, would soon become someone else’s problem.
The people who lived at The Beach House and called that place home were, of course,
the real victims of this tragedy of events. Pete and Angel, not that they
wanted to leave The Beach House, would be paid out for their property and could
easily start afresh someplace else with the proceeds. Bessie and Gabriel would
be made homeless, but the consensus was that “you reap what you sow,” and this
entire mess was down to their crazy out-of-control antics. The remaining tenants
were in another situation altogether. With their bad credit, cheap rent deals,
police rap sheets, lack of references and short-term horizons, they would
struggle to find local digs where certain questions by landlords weren’t asked.
Tonight there was a residents’ meeting with the aim of attempting to halt the
redevelopment; but at best this was seen as a feel-good Hail Mary with little
chance of success and more likely just an excuse to have a party.
“Fuck me Jesus,” were the strong and unchristian words that came from Reverend Randy
Showers’ mouth as he witnessed a fleet of police cars pulling up all around The
Beach House. They’ve finally nailed me, he thought. Randy, from his high-ground
vantage point, counted at least six vehicles, half marked, and the rest black
SUVs with blue lights bolted onto the roof. He slugged back the remainder of
his coffee knowing that, if he were lucky, he would be getting truck stop Joe
once they had hauled him to jail. Randy knew there was always a chance that
this day would come. Not only was there a likelihood that his past would catch
up with him, but there was also a looming menace that his present would bite
him firmly in the ass. At the very least, he was reassured that he was wearing
a pair of clean underpants and his hair looked good. A man with a C-list
celebrity resume and a local standing in the church community needed to look
cool and classy in the obligatory police mug shot.
As a young, fresh-faced graduate with a liberal arts degree from a South Carolina
university, Randy, like many in his position, had no idea what job he was
equipped to do. After deep conversations with the careers department he could
only come up with a slush pile of jobs he had no interest in. Needing to pay
his way through life, he used his fallback good looks and his given name, and
signed himself up with a stripper agency.
It was while working a bachelorette party, undressing as a character cop, that a
fortunate encounter would take place. On occasion, upon demand, he would give a
little “extra service” for a tip. It just so happened that the guest at this
party who had paid to play with his baton and cuffs was a high-flying female
television executive with local Charleston network WCIV. Upon getting up-close
and personal with his good looks and learning that Randy Showers was his real
name, the woman told him, “Do I have a job for you!” Randy was hired as an
on-camera weatherman for the local evening news. It didn’t matter that he had
no meteorological education or television experience. This job was all about
looking good in front of a camera and reading a teleprompter. However, the name
Randy Showers was the real clincher for this job, as it was the perfect catchy
byline for a primetime local television weatherman.
For twenty-five years Randy was Mr. Weather in the Greater Charleston area. He
loved getting out of the studio for big events, such as standing on a beach and
being blown around in a hurricane, filing his report from a kayak floating on a
submerged street during a flood, or going on air shirtless during a heat wave.
For a man with zero formal training in this profession he was the consummate
local weatherman’s weatherman and won numerous regional awards. However, a local
weatherman is also expected to be a trusted pillar of the community, and this
part of the gig Randy only half-embraced. He was good at turning on Christmas
tree lights, opening new school libraries and being a member of that
bright-teethed WCIV team that delivered “dependable news”, but he had one major
off-screen flaw – he was a crazed womanizer with a chronic sex addiction. Randy
was amazed at just how much of a pull being a local television weatherman was
to the ladies. Interns, fellow anchors, women he encountered on promotional
appearances and generally anything in a skirt he chased. For twenty-five years
his employers somehow managed to pay no attention to the ethics clause in his
contract, and like a modern-day Don Juan, Randy thought nothing could ever put
a stop to his bed-hopping ways.
While Randy kept his looks as youthful as possible with tax-deductable investments in
hair plugs, dental veneers and Botox, these weren’t enough to defy a changing
environment. It was a slightly sleazy and embarrassing affair that had been
brought to the attention of a new generation of station executives that would
lead to his downfall.
During a Friday-night live weather report broadcast from a local High School football
game, Randy managed to lure and subsequently corrupt two teenage cheerleaders.
In his defense, they may have been sixteen but he swore they had the bodies of
eighteen year olds and were experienced in the ways of pleasing a man like a
woman of thirty. It was not the first time that Randy had descended on the
slippery slope of jailbait, but it wasn’t so easy in the modern era to get away
with it when the girls posted incriminating evidence on Facebook. Possibly it
was all used as an excuse by management to bring in a cheaper, younger guy. Perhaps
it really was a different era where feminist ethics were not only preached but
also practiced. The parents came to a deal with the station. Randy was released
from his contract, the cheerleaders were given hush money and the hope was that
the authorities and the women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred would stay well
away. However, there was a statue of limitations that had not expired, and in
the eyes of the law it was rape, and a payoff would not save him if the girls
ever chose to press charges.
Like many shamed criminals who had escaped hard time, Randy headed to Florida for a
fresh start. He knew he would never be hired as a weatherman again, as he was
too old and too many questions about his past would be asked. The only other
career that he had not tried that fitted in with his catchy name was that of a
porn star. Randy was realistic though, and his stamina and girth were just not
up to par. Not wanting to put to waste the investments he had made in that
artificial television smile and lush carpet of unnatural hair, he did the only
thing he thought he was suited for… he started a church ministry.
Reverend Showers, a name he could legally use after the religious crash-course
certification he found on the back pages of the National Enquirer, had a good
ring to it. He chose a poor African-American area of inland Palm Beach County
to start his church, as the black community was religious and would be
enthralled by a minor white celebrity priest. However, more importantly,
ebony-skinned women were not his thing, so he wouldn’t have to worry about
letting his dick interfere with God’s work.
For premises he sublet an underused synagogue. Most of the Jews in that area had
moved to better parts of the county and this temple currently sat empty. He had
been running his Rainbow Church for just over two years and he would modestly
say in public that it had been a great success. In private, though, he would
admit that it was all a bit of a racket. Reverend Showers was little more than
a smarmy middle-aged snake-oil salesman who, if he weren’t selling God to the
gullible, would be selling those same people timeshares on the beach.
Randy had one unfulfilled ambition – he wanted to make it big on a national level.
Back in his heyday he had applied for network weather jobs but was never
successful. He blamed these fruitless attempts on not having a diverse look,
never thinking it could have anything to do with a lack of scientific training.
So Randy viewed his new ministry as a way of finally becoming a household
celebrity. All he needed to take himself into the top division of
men-of-the-cloth was to perform a miracle. The one he had in mind was walking
on water, and not just any body of water but Florida’s own Lake Okeechobee.
Randy was certain that if he could make it appear that he was gliding over
Florida’s largest lake, the national attention would elevate him to the type of
riches that even network weatherman could only dream of. Randy was now devoting
all his time and money into making this illusion happen. He had reached out to
David Copperfield for help and was studying expensive manuals by magicians, as
he knew there had to be a way to make this miraculous feat occur.
It was Randy’s consuming devotion to performing this miracle that could have been
another reason for his impending arrest, as he was guilty of theft and
embezzlement from his church. The donations that his devoted parishioners put
in his tray were diverted straight into his pocket. Admittedly, some of it was
used to keep the lights on at the church, but the majority was for his living
expenses and funding the continued exploration of performing his illusion.
As the police descended on The Beach House, Randy’s main thought was what lawyer
he would use. The charge of statutory rape would be easy to defend, as he could
find one of those mud-slinging vultures who would paint a picture of those two
fresh-faced cheerleaders as the dirtiest harlots in the whole of Charleston.
The church embezzlement charges would be a little trickier to evade. Randy
hadn’t hidden the money trail very well, often paying for hair-restoration
treatment directly from the ministry’s checking account. Then there were the
escort girls who were on the church books. That would also be a problem. At the
start of his “Finding the Lord” phase, Randy had worked out that the best way
of staying out of trouble was to relieve any extra holy spirit via paid ladies.
In the light of day, Randy’s activities looked uglier than a bag of hairless cats
and he might just have to plead guilty and strike a deal. Whatever happened, it
would be hard to escape from this monster of a self-created mess. What then for
him? A man who had fallen from grace for two heinous successive “lapses of
judgment” would be somewhat challenged to find a new place in the world. It
would certainly be hard to live off his connection with Jesus again, although
he would have name recognition and good looks for a man of his age so he could
always try his hand at politics. That seemed to be an eternally forgiving line
of work. Randy was amazed just how much clarity he was having in what was
likely to be his final thirty seconds of freedom.

About the author and where to find him:

 photo James Aylott Author Tales from The Beach House_zpsn2o8ohed.png

James Aylott was previously a Hollywood paparazzo photographer and staffer at an American supermarket tabloid. This is the author’s first work of fiction, although he was often creative in his career of entertainment newsgathering and hated letting the truth interfere with a good story. A prior resident of Delray Beach, Florida he is currently embedded in St. Louis, Missouri researching his follow up novel: Tales of Whiskey Tango from Misery Towers.
 

 

RABT Book Tours & PR

Spotlight: The Perils of Autumn by Rusty Blackwood

 

From the author of the riveting romantic fiction drama, Passions in Paris: Revelations of a Lost Diary, and the celebrated, 5-star award-winning romantic fiction drama, Willow’s Walk, comes the intense romantic drama, The Perils of Autumn.
This page-turner, set primarily in the early 1970s, centers on a young Kentucky woman, Autumn Leeves, born in 1946 to Abigail Leeves, an unwed mother who struggles to make ends meet. By 1970, Autumn graduates nursing school and is sent on assignment by the local hospital to care for the terminally-ill wife of middle-aged English equestrian master, Cyril Landon, owner of Landon Lawns Stables, a most successful thoroughbred racing stable located just outside Lexington, Kentucky in a posh community known as The Meadows.
Duff Taylor, world renown jockey who is tops in his field, lives full-time above the tack room at Landon Lawns and enjoys the many benefits it brings, but he also has a dark secret surrounding an unsolved racing incident from his past that he will go to any length to protect.
Autumn arrives at Landon Manor in time to be thrown into the chaos and finds herself caught in the ongoing disruption that ensues.

Top ranking romantic fiction author Rusty Blackwood, who chose her plume de nom by combining the colour of her russet hair with her husband’s great, great, Scottish grandmother’s maiden name, was born in St.Thomas, Ontario, Canada on October 5th, and grew up on her paternal grandfather’s farm in the County of Elgin, located in the south-western portion of the province of Ontario. 
She acquired her love of literature while still in elementary school where she entered her original compositions into county fairs, school contests, and whatever venue allowed participants in the writing field. She has carried that love ever since and has put it to use many times since becoming a professional writer in 2001. 
From the time of youth she has loved the Arts in their many unique forms, she is a graduate with honors in Interior Decorating & Design. She spent many years on the south-western Ontario stage performing with her family’s country music band: The Midnight Ramblers, followed by the country – rock – blues band: ‘MIRAGE’ as an accomplished vocalist, bassist, and rhythm guitarist. She now resides in the cultural city of St. Catharines, Ontario.
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Excerpt: The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lorincz

PerfectDate-BLOG-BANNER-900x337-onsale

41150285When a single mom ends up playing an unwilling fake girlfriend to a charming playboy baseball player, love suddenly turns everything upside down in this fun, heartwarming multicultural romance.

Angel Gomez has never lived by the book. A Bronx-based unwed mother by the time she was sixteen, Angel’s personal mission has always been to show the world that a Puerto Rican girl is not to be messed with—especially by a man. The only thing that matters to Angel, now, is providing for her son and earning enough tips at the club to complete her nursing degree along the way. Love is nowhere on her agenda.

Caleb “The Duke” Lewis is a star pitcher for the Bronx Bolts whose romantic escapades make delicious fodder for gossip columns. But lately he’s been trying to keep a lower profile—so much so that when he meets Angel, first while she’s in her nurse uniform and the next time behind the bar, she has no idea who Duke is, fails to fall for his obvious charm, and ends up throwing a drink in his face! She is the perfect woman for Duke…to fool the tabloids into thinking he’s finally settling down. But what begins as a charade soon has Duke and Angel hurtling into a full-blown romance that rocks each of their worlds and begs the question: Is this the real deal—or are some love stories just too good to be true?

Excerpt

Angel Gomez hissed under her breath.

Claro. Of course. If she was going to get a paper cut, it would be from the page illustrating the male reproductive system. The twenty-three-year-old sucked at the thin line of blood on the web of her hand, squinting hard at the flayed cojones in her anatomy textbook.

As a nursing student, Angel knew the male anatomy— from the bulb to the external urinary meatus—but her ability to reel off the Latin names of penis parts seemed to scare the living, breathing version away.

Not that I want a man, she reminded herself, her inner voice stern. Focus, girl.

Dark spirals of hair popped free from her ponytail as she bent closer to her textbook. Concentration was elusive. She closed the window next to her with a shriek of metal on metal, shutting out the gray February breeze and the number 4 train running on the elevated tracks down Jerome Avenue. She tilted her head, listened.

What is that? Breathing. It was gaspy, heavy breathing, coming from the depths of the worn corduroy couch behind her. Angel twisted in her chair.

“Jose,” she said, too loudly, knocking pages of lecture notes off her makeshift desk on the radiator.

“Mama, I’m fine,” the seven-year-old boy muttered. He turned up the live radio stream coming from the decrepit laptop and avoided her eyes.

“Go get your inhaler. Now.”

“Just a minute. The Duke is about to pitch.”

Faintly, she could hear Suzyn Waldman, longtime announcer for the Bronx Bolts, adding color to a local charity game. “He’s winding up and . . . another beauty, right over the plate . . . Ohh no, the batter’s hit a hard foul right into the dugout.” The announcer clucked, but then, “What’s this? The Duke seems to want off the mound.”

“No!” Jose yelled at the computer, as if it could hear his complaint.

“His ankle may still be giving him problems.”

“Jose! What’d I tell you?”

Jose’s face shone with perspiration as he stomped past her, wheezing down the hall to his room. That beautiful pouty face, she thought. His bronze complexion, a shade darker than hers, was the perfect blend of her and his father. Jose’s dad was long gone, however—the high school quarterback had disappeared when he found out his fifteen-year-old girlfriend was pregnant, but not before slapping her around, yelling, “That ain’t my kid.” Angel had shoved him into the hallway, slammed the door in his face. She didn’t want him. She didn’t need him.

Two years after Jose was born, her mother died. Angel was seventeen. She almost buckled from the pressure of the responsibility to care for another, tiny human. She had no safety net. His dark eyes, staring up at her with such adoration . . . She’d shoved steel into her spine, stood up straight, and vowed her boy would be safe, happy, and healthy on her watch.

And she was doing it.

In a few more weeks, she’d be done with nursing school and would take her final boards. She survived by putting her head down and pushing through, focused on getting them out of this decrepit apartment building filled with dust and screeching train brakes. She kept the rest of the world’s bullshit at arm’s length.

From The Perfect Date. Copyright © 2019 by Evelyn Lozada and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Griffin.

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About the authors:

EVELYN LOZADA, is a high-profile American-Latina reality television personality, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist. She is best known for her role on VH1’s hit series Basketball Wives (2010-present), OWN’s hit series Livin’ Lozada (2015), author of the first installment of the book series: The Wives Association: Inner Circle (2012) and creator of Healthy Boricua (A Puerto Rican Lifestyle Guide to Healthy Living). Evelyn has become a national trendsetter, a “go to” fitness export, jewelry designer, fashion and beauty maven, social media royalty and a stimulating voice and proactive supporter of causes that effect women and girls through the Evelyn Lozada Foundation. Evelyn is a Bronx native, mother of two (Shaniece Hairston and Carl Leo Crawford) that currently resides in Los Angeles.

Holly Lörincz is a successful collaborative writer and owner of Lorincz Literary Services. She is an award-winning novelist (Smart Mouth, The Everything Girl) and co-author (best-selling Crown Heights, and How to Survive a Day in Prison) living in Oregon.