Saturday, May 30, 2015

Way of the Warrior (fundraising anthology) Review

 4.5 out of 5 stars

Way of the Warrior is a fund-raising anthology of eight sizzling military romance stories penned by some of the top authors of the genre.  “NSDQ” by M.L. Buchman details the importance of the motto, ‘Night Stalkers Don’t Quit’ as it follows U.S. Army Captain Lois Lang as she comes to terms with the injury that ends her career as a Black Hawk pilot involved in combat search and rescue (CSAR).  “Beauty and the Marine” by Tina Wainscott (Jaime Rush) explores the actions of Griff Tate who is coping with both survivor’s guilt and the scarring that makes him wary of interacting with model Kristy Marsden.  “War Games” by Lea Griffith is a thrilling tale of Olivia (Vivi) Bentwood who sees beyond the reputation that prisoner Anthony “Rook” Granger and is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to help him and honor her fallen brother.  Suzanne Brockmann’s “Home Fire Inferno” gives a quick look at a SEAL with the unusual sobriquet of HoboMoFo, plus some of his teammates, as they go from ‘mission ready’ status to taking care of a mission that is all too far away yet just as vitally important as any they are used to handling.  “Torn” by Kate SeRine centers on Joe Dawson as he tries to pick up his life after being seriously injured and finds that he has to put aside his doubts to protect the woman he’s admired for years, and trust in his abilities and training.  Anne Elizabeth’s “SEALed With Passion” presents Lt. Cmdr. Jonah Melo and Alisha Winters, who need to learn to get beyond the past and truly communicate.  “Hot as Hell” by Julie Ann Walker showcases southern girl Harper Searcy whose life is endangered when the embassy she is serving in is attacked, but she has faith that SEAL Michael “Mad Dog” Wainwright will save the day, although no idea how she’s going to protect her heart.  Catherine Mann’s “In Plain Sight” features Stacy Currie who is struggling to survive being stalked by her ex-husband and finds she has to depend on Gavin Novak, who has been through many changes since he refused to comply with her ultimatum when they were both much younger, and fears to rekindle what they once shared.

Military romance stories have ready-made heroes inherent in the genre but their fascination lies in the contrast between the kick-ass capabilities displayed and the vulnerability of letting one’s guard down and allowing someone else to become essential for happiness and a sense of security.  This collection of stories has a delicious combination of scenarios that provide a look at the extreme sacrifices made by those individuals brave enough to put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe, even as it shows the extreme loyalty and camaraderie that develops between them.  I was delighted to revisit some of my favorite series with their iconic characters, including Buchman’s exciting Night Stalkers and Brockmann’s eclectic combination of SEALs, FBI agents and a movie star from the ‘Troubleshooters’ series even as I found exciting new series to explore.  The poignant and gutwrenching situations that result in scars that are both seen and unseen are balanced by the sensual interactions as each soldier finds someone who truly sees him or her, no matter what the outside packaging looks like.  This is a delicious and mesmerizing collection of stories that was difficult to put down, so don’t start this book unless you have a fair amount of time to devote to it!

© Night Owl Reviews 

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.  

Amazon link

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dark Sun, Bright Moon by Oliver Sparrow (spotlight, excerpt and GIVEAWAY)

Dark Sun, Bright Moon, by Oliver Sparrow, was published in July 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon in both paperback and e-book.

Dark Sun, Bright Moon describes people isolated in the Andes, without the least notion of outsiders. They evolve an understanding of the universe that is complementary to our own but a great deal wider. The book explores events of a thousand years ago, events which fit with what we know of the region's history,” says Sparrow.

In the Andes of a thousand years ago, the Huari empire is sick. Its communities are being eaten from within by a plague, a contagion that is not of the body but of something far deeper, a plague that has taken their collective spirit. Rooting out this parasite is a task that is laid upon Q’ilyasisa, a young woman from an obscure little village on the forgotten borders of the Huari empire.

This impossible mission is imposed on her by a vast mind, a sentience that has ambitions to shape all human life. Her response to this entails confrontations on sacrificial pyramids, long journeys through the Amazonian jungle and the establishment of not just one but two new empires. Her legacy shapes future Andean civilization for the next four hundred years, until the arrival of the Spanish.

Dark Sun, Bright Moon takes the reader on a fascinating adventure that includes human sacrifice, communities eaten from within, a vast mind blazing under the mud of Lake Titicaca, and the rise and fall of empires cruel and kind.


Chapter 1: A Small Sacrifice at Pachacamac

A priest knelt before her, a feather from his head-dress tickling her face. His musky odour of old incense and stale blood was rank, even here on the windy summit of the pyramid. Four other priests held her body tipped slightly forwards, and the pressure that this put on her tired old joints hurt far more than the fine, cold bite of the knife at her neck. Quick blood ran thick down her chin and splashed into the waiting bowl. Then the flow weakened, the strength went out of her and she died, content.

Seven elderly pilgrims had set out for Pachacamac, following their familiar river down to the coast and then trudging North through the desert sands. Two of the very oldest of them needed to be carried in litters, but most were able to walk with no more than a stick to help them in the sand. Lesser members of the community had been delegated to carry what was necessary. These would return home. The elderly would not.

The better-regarded families of the town were expected to die as was proper, sacrificed at the Pachacamac shrine for the betterment of the community. Such was to be their last contribution of ayni, of the reciprocity that assured communal harmony and health. It was also their guarantee of a smooth return to the community's soul, to the deep, impersonal structure from which they had sprung at birth.

The Pachacamac complex appeared to them quite suddenly from amongst the coastal dunes. They paused to marvel at its mountain range of pyramids, its teeming myriad of ancient and holy shrines.

Over the millennia, one particular pyramid had come to process all of the pilgrims who came from their valley. They were duly welcomed, and guards resplendent in bronze and shining leather took them safely to its precinct.

They had been expected. The priests were kind, welcoming them with food and drink, helping the infirm, leading them all by easy stages up to the second-but-last tier in their great, ancient pyramid. The full extent of the meandering ancient shrine unveiled itself like a revelation as they climbed. Then, as whatever had been mixed with their meal took its effect, they were wrapped up snug in blankets and set to doze in the late evening sun, propped together against the warm, rough walls of the mud-brick pyramid. Their dreams were vivid, extraordinary, full of weight and meaning.

The group was woken before dawn, all of them muzzily happy, shriven of all their past cares, benignly numb. Reassuring priests helped them gently up the stairs to the very top tier. In the predawn light, the stepped pyramids of Pachacamac stood sacred and aloof in an ocean of mist.

Each pilgrim approached their death with confidence. A quick little discomfort would take them back to the very heart of the community from which they had been born. They had been separated from it by the act of birth, each sudden individual scattered about like little seed potatoes. Now, ripe and fruitful, they were about to return home, safely gathered back into the community store. It was to be a completion, a circle fully joined. Hundreds of conch horns brayed out across Pachacamac as the dawn sun glittered over the distant mountains. Seven elderly lives drained silently away as the mist below turned pink.

About the Author: 

 Oliver Sparrow was born in the Bahamas, raised in Africa and educated at Oxford to post-doctorate level, as a biologist with a strong line in computer science. He spent the majority of his working life with Shell, the oil company, which took him into the Peruvian jungle for the first time. He was a director at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House for five years. He has started numerous companies, one of them in Peru, which mines for gold. This organisation funded a program of photographing the more accessible parts of Peru, and the results can be seen at Oliver knows modern Peru very well, and has visited all of the physical sites that are described in his book Dark Sun, Bright Moon.

To learn more, go to the website



For the chance to win a Kindle copy of Dark Sun, Bright Moon, please leave a comment about whether you have visited another country and what you found most memorable about it, or, what country you would like to visit and what you think would be the most memorable about it, with a valid e-address by June 15, 2015.  A winner will be chosen using

Thursday, May 28, 2015

NIght of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper (Guest post, excerpt and GIVEAWAY) Casablanca

It is my pleasure to host a guest post by author Isabel Cooper, who answers the following question:

Who are your top 3 “auto-buy” authors?

IC:  Thinking about this, there’s actually no author for whom I’m an automatic in: I am a cautious, picky, fear-of-commitment-riddled woman, and I generally read summaries, reviews, and indeed spoilers before getting particularly invested in any work.  I’ve found that even authors I love can go way too grimdark for my taste, can partner with people I dislike, or can just tackle a subject or genre that doesn’t interest me at all.

That said, there are a lot of authors whose works are about a ninety percent sure thing for me, and which I will buy unless I hear something that really indicates that a particular book will be dramatically not my thing.

Robin McKinley probably comes first here, and is actually the only author where I can’t think of an exception under the terms I’ve described above. (I was dubious about Pegasus—I may write shapeshifter books, but I need all people in a relationship to at least look like attractive human beings when it counts—but man, the book won me over so hard.) I love her prose style, I love that she writes original-world fantasy without falling into unrestrained bleakness and everyone being awful, and I love the variety and agency of her heroines. Also, her later works make me want to take up things like gardening or baking, despite my general ineptitude at anything domestic.

Second is Stephen King. I started with It when I was eleven and have been a fan ever since. Generally speaking, he does a great job at portraying people’s everyday lives or surroundings in a way that actually makes them interesting (and I speak as someone who cannot grasp talking to fellow commuters or hanging out with co-workers), makes worlds very immersive whether they’re a completely different universe or just the eighties, and balances horror with hope very effectively. (The books I don’t buy or read are those which hit the horror/bleakness angle too hard: Cell is too close to where I live, and I heard enough about the ending of Revival to nope on out of there, as the saying goes.)

Finally, Terry Pratchett. Sigh. I can’t think of another author who can do both comedy and seriousness so well and so close together, who created such a coherent world—starting from comedy, even—or whose fiction came so damn close to philosophy in so many ways.  There were a couple books of his that I didn’t read, mostly because they were hard SF and I don’t have any interest in that, but everything else was amazing.  And I still get choked up when I remember his last Twitter posts.


Author: Isabel Cooper
Series: Highland Dragons, #3
Pubdate: June 2nd, 2015
ISBN: 9781402284731

“They say,” said the girl, “that people disappear up there. And I heard that the lady doesna’ ever grow any older.”
“The lady?” William asked.
“Lady MacAlasdair. She lives in the castle, and she’s been there years, but she stays young and beautiful forever.”

In the Scottish Highlands, legend is as powerful as the sword—and nowhere is that more true than in the remote village of Loch Aranoch. Its mysterious ruler, Judith MacAlasdair, is fiercely protective of her land—and her secrets. If anyone were to find out what she really was, she and her entire clan would be hunted down as monsters.

William Arundell is on the trail of a killer. Special agent for an arcane branch of the English government, his latest assignment has led him to a remote Highland castle and the undeniably magnetic lady who rules there. Yet as lies begin to unravel and a dark threat gathers, William finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Highlands…and the woman he can neither trust nor deny.

He prays she isn’t the murderer; he never dreamed she was a dragon.

An Excerpt:

From the soot-stained sides of the alley, shadows emerged and became men. Judith counted five: big fellows, all of them, and at least two openly carried long knives. She let out all her breath, hissing it through her teeth, and took a step back.

“It’s all right,” William said, putting a hand on her arm. Oh, good: he was going to try and be protective. This day was going wonderfully. He turned to the men. “Very sorry to disturb you. We’ll just be on our way.”

Protective and diplomatic. Even better.

“Don’t move,” growled one of the larger men. “Don’t run. Don’t scream. You’d better not scream. Nobody’d hear you. Nobody’d come anyway.”

Even from a distance, he reeked of drink. His eyes were glassy, and he grinned when he spoke in a way that Judith didn’t like at all. Neither did she like the way the others were looking at him, taking their cues. On their own, sober, any of them might have been reasonable. Right now she could feel the avalanche building.

Judith took more quick inventory. The men would probably catch up quickly if they tried to run. The alley was dark, and the leader was probably right: she’d never known most people in cities to intervene, and the local constabulary didn’t take much interest in a neighborhood like this one. She wasn’t armed. She didn’t know if William had brought whatever weapon he’d been reaching for out at Finlay’s, or how skilled he was with it if he had. And she was wearing skirts.

She sighed, held still, and decided to try a little diplomacy of her own. “I’m sure we can settle this peaceably. Just leave us enough money for tickets home, aye? We’ll hand over the rest.”

The leader shook his head. “Won’t need money when we’re done with you. Won’t need to go home, either,” he said. Judith didn’t recognize what cue he gave, and he didn’t speak, but she heard footsteps behind her.

Fine, then. Fine.

Buy Links: 


Author info:
 During the day, Isabel Cooper maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Previous titles in the series:


My review of The Highland Dragon's Lady is at this link
I am reading and enjoying Night of the Highland Dragon but unfortunately will not have my review done for a few days!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Adding Lib by Kathryn Elliott (VBT, guest post and GIVEAWAY) Goddess Fish Tours

It is my pleasure to have a guest post from one of the authors from the Wild Rose Press garden, Kathryn Elliott.

ELF:  What was the most difficult thing to overcome on your path to becoming a published author and how did you conquer it?

KE Every writer doubts their ability to capture an audience; it’s natural. The ‘will I sell’ illness is hard to shake, and stubborn to my Irish core it took lunch with my favorite college professor to cure my case of the lit jitters.

“It’s so good to see you, Kathryn. Tell me, what you have been doing the last 20 years?”

“Well, I’m married, have two rambunctious sons and write for several local newspapers.”

Dead silence.


“I have to say, and I mean this with the utmost respect for your life choices, I expected much more from you.”

I’m speechless; an unheard of phenomena.

“You showed great promise. Where is the book you so often spoke of writing? Have you abandoned that dream?”

So, that’s what it feels like to be hit by a bus, I always wondered; nothing like having your role model sum up your professional life as slightly more than adequate. And yet, it was the kick in the rump I needed.

Here’s how my book journey began.

I talked to people, not email, not text, talked! People, like me, who write for a living. Not just those who dabble, but people who file 1099’s under the category of creative, in other words, poor. Although contracted, I still garner most my income as a freelancer, thus my circle of contacts within the writing realm was decent. Here’s their suggestions.

Lesson One: From my weekly editor: “For the love of God – Blog! I am so sick of you trying to interject humor into the police blotter! Get it out in cyber space and cut down on my red line time! And by the way, I need you to cover the senior art fair, make it sound exciting.”


Lesson Two: From local children’s book author: “Join a writers group. Try and find one more suited for your professional experience. Trust me, there are a lot of them out there full of people pushing their books with absolutely no writing experience and a lot of them still live in their mother’s basement and collect action figures. Choose wisely.”


Lesson Three: From my college professor: “Go back to school; education is a tool only sharp when kept active.”


Lesson Four: From a fellow almost-author: “Be prepared to fail, and fail often; no way to sugar coat it. This is not a career for the weak. Do you drink? If not, start.”

Done. (In spades.)

Lesson Five: From a helpful, but rightfully harsh literary agent: “Get some Beta readers to rip this thing to shreds. I don’t have time for this much work. (An ugly and eye-opening first draft critique after a contest win.) Don’t ask your Mom, sister or anyone who even likes you, in fact, get people who hate you. Do you have people who hate you? Don’t worry, if you write, you will.”

Done. (And may I say, ouch!)

Lesson Six: From my son: “Keep at it Mom, somebody will buy it.” Pause. “Do we have any Oreos?”


Lesson Seven: From the mirror: “Dust off the dream and hit that bucket list running! And buy Oreos.”

Thank you for hosting! I hope Adding Lib brings humor and a tug on the heartstrings!

Adding Lib

by Kathryn Elliott



Libby O'Rourke has a short fuse. Her mother, Mae, carries a big match. Engulfed in the never-ending life-juggling of suburbia, Libby fails to notice Mae's emerging dementia symptoms until a kitchen fire puts the problem on the front burner.

Proficient in the art of denial, Mae brushes the shattering diagnosis aside and sets her sights on a matchmaking crusade for her eldest son. After all, if her lucid days are numbered, Mae’s going to make damned sure he makes it down the aisle while she still recognizes the groom.

It’s going to take a razor wit and an iron stomach to handle Mae's diagnosis. Thankfully, just like her mother Libby has both.



At three o’clock, excess wine and a bladder weakened by two pregnancies woke Libby from a sound sleep. She crept to the bathroom as quietly as two-hundred-year-old floor boards would allow and, on the way back, noticed the phone’s blinking message light.

“Crap.” Mae’s message taunted from the answering machine. “What to do?” she said to herself. “Check it, or go back to bed?” Years of maternally ingrained guilt won out as she pressed play.

“Hi Lib,” Mae’s recorded message played. “It’s your mother.”

“Color me surprised.” Libby groaned.

“I just got back from my visit with Dr. Cooper. You remember him, he removed Daddy’s planter’s wart.”

“TMI Mom, TMI.”

“Anyhow, he did a splendid job with my colon and said I had none of those dirty pollocks.”

“Polyps, unless you’ve got a ten-foot abstract in your small intestine.”

“You can watch now. Did you know that? They have a camera in your bum the whole time, fascinating really. Anyway, a few of my other test results were a bit off, and he wants me to see a neurologist for some silly reason. Nothing to worry about, just a little blip to check out. Anyhow, I need someone to take me for the appointment, and I was hoping you could find the time. If not, don’t worry, I’ll call your brother Sean. I’m sure he can drop anything less important than his mother.”

“Of course. He’s Jesus.” Libby’s eyes rolled.

“Take care, sweetie. Call me when you can, love to all.”

Libby replayed the message and returned to bed. Blip speculation haunted her dreams.


The Wild Rose Press



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Kathryn Elliott is a lifetime journalist with awards in political satire, human interest, and commentary. A Connecticut native, she is a happily married mother of two sons with high hopes one of them will pay for a delightful rest home.

A true believer in laughter's healing power, Kathryn writes characters whose flaws resonate with readers long after "The End."
Adding Lib is her debut novel, and the first in The McGinn Series.

TWITTER: @CandidKathryn



Kathryn will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Against the Tide by Kat Martin Spotlight, Excerpt and GIVEAWAY (Tasty Book Tours)

Against the Tide
The Brodies of Alaska #3

By: Kat Martin

Releasing May 26, 2015



Secrets—and safety—melt under a midnight sun…

Liv Chandler is running for her life, and the cops haven’t been able to do a thing to help. But there’s one man who makes her feel safe, no matter what…rugged charter boat captain Rafe Brodie.

To Rafe, Liv is a beautiful mystery, one he can’t ignore. He means to unearth her secrets, and in the process, if luck is on his side, maybe the spark between them will ignite.

But Liv’s past is more dangerous than Rafe could guess, and when his first mate turns up dead, she fears that she’s next. That there’s something else coming she can’t see. That even Rafe and the remote village of Valdez, Alaska can’t protect her forever…

Goodreads Link

Goodreads Series Link


The breakfast crowd at the Pelican Café had begun to arrive, as people did every morning when it opened at six a.m. The café had opened its doors in the fifties and been going strong ever since. Of course, it had passed through a dozen different owners, had its ups and downs, and been near financial ruin more than once.

Having purchased the restaurant six months ago, Olivia Chandler was the most recent person to step into the driver’s seat. Unlike the previous owner, who had let the place sink into disrepair, Olivia had been making changes, most of which had been heralded with great enthusiasm by the local customers.

The bell above the door rang as a young mother and her little girl walked in and headed for one of the light blue vinyl booths. Melissa Young, Olivia remembered, was her name. Liv made a point of getting to know her customers— just not too well.

While Melissa grabbed a child’s high seat and settled one-year-old Suzy in it, the waitress, a slim little blonde named Katie McKenzie, grabbed the coffeepot off the burner behind the counter and headed for the booth. Katie smiled as she filled Melissa’s mug and handed her a menu.

“I’ll give you a minute to decide,” Katie said, hurrying off to another table to refill an earlier patron’s cup.

One of the changes Liv had made was to hire a new cook—one who wasn’t high on marijuana half the time. Wayne Littlefish was Alaska Native, reliable and great in the kitchen. An older man, Charlie Foot, worked the dinner shift.

Liv had also hired two part-time waitresses instead of one full-time worker, which gave each of the girls a more flexible schedule and made taking time off easier for all of them, including Olivia and long-time employee, Nell Olsen.

A buxom woman with thick, silver-streaked black hair, Nell had worked at the café for more than ten years. She was as much a fixture as the sky-blue interior, the ocean theme, and the anchors and fishing nets on the walls.

Nell had been invaluable in helping Liv take over the business since, aside from waiting tables for the past couple of years, being a fairly decent cook, and a very fast learner, Liv had almost no experience in running a restaurant.

Still, in the last six months she had managed to keep the old clientele happy and add new customers. The tourist season was just starting, so business was getting even better.

“Well, look who’s coming,” Nell said, staring out the window at a tall man in jeans and a sweatshirt crossing the outside patio. The brick patio was empty now while it was still cold, but with summer approaching, soon would be noisy with people. “If it isn’t Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome.”

Katie walked past Liv just then, a platter of bacon and eggs riding on the flat of her hand. “I just call him Mr. Freakin’ Hot.”

“Shame on you,” Liv teased. “You just turned twentyone. Rafe Brodie’s got to be at least a dozen years older.”

“Just means he’s a man not a boy. And I like a guy with a little experience.”

“From what I hear, he has plenty of that,” Liv said dryly as Katie sailed off to deliver the food.

Nell chuckled. “I’m fifty years old and that man can still make me swoon.”

Olivia busied herself wiping off the long Formica-topped counter as Rafe shoved through the door, ringing the bell above. Seating himself in his usual booth, he stretched his long legs out in front of him. Rafe was a regular in the café, which sat on North Harbor Drive right across from the boat dock.

“Katie’s busy,” Nell said with a matchmaking glint in her eyes. “Why don’t you wait on him?”

Olivia shook her head. “I’m busy, too. You go ahead.”

Knowing there was no persuading her, Nell sighed. “Probably better you don’t. Everyone in town knows Rafe’s a dedicated bachelor.”

As the owner of the café, Olivia caught most of the local gossip. According to Cassie Webster, the other part-time waitress, Rafe Brodie had dated a woman named Sally Henderson for nearly three years, until she dumped him four months ago because he refused to marry her.

Apparently, he’d made his intentions—or lack thereof— clear from the start, but Sally hadn’t believed him, poor girl.

Dedicated bachelor or not, Nell and Katie were right. With the thick, dark brown hair curling just over his collar, the faint shadow of beard that usually lined his hard jaw, and those hot, whiskey-brown eyes, he was one of the best-looking men Olivia had ever seen.

Which was exactly the reason she had avoided him since the day she had met him.

Oh, she’d been pleasant enough when she had to be, spoken to him for a moment when she’d been introduced to him at a chamber of commerce mixer right after she’d bought the café, but she always managed to be too busy to wait on him.

No use putting temptation in her path. It was simply too dangerous.

Still, as she worked taking orders and delivering meals to the patrons at the counter, she couldn’t help an occasional glance in his direction. He had always reminded her of a dark-haired lion, powerful and dangerous yet fascinating in some primitive way. He looked different today, the shadow along his jaw darker, as if he hadn’t had time to shave, his handsome features set in grim lines, and faint shadows under his eyes.

She watched as Nell chatted with him a moment, then Liv watched the easy smile Nell usually gave him slip from her face.

The coffeepot wavered. Rafe grabbed the glass pot to keep her from dropping it and spilled hot coffee over his hand.

Olivia didn’t hesitate, just grabbed a towel, wet it with cold water, and hurried in Rafe’s direction. He was sitting down again, Nell fussing over him, relieved to see Olivia approaching.

“Here—wrap this around your fingers.” She handed him the wet towel. “It’s cold enough to ease the pain and keep the burn from getting worse.”

“I’m all right,” Rafe said. “It’s no big deal.” But he accepted the wet cloth and looped it over the back of a big, suntanned hand.

The man was all of six-four, two-hundred-plus pounds, with a solid, athletic build and very wide shoulders. Liv was five-nine, but Rafe was more than half a head taller. She tried not to stare at his mouth, which seemed harder this morning without the smile he always had for Nell.

She glanced in her friend’s direction, sucked in a breath as Nell’s pale blue eyes filled with tears.

“Oh God, what is it?”

Nell blinked and the tears rolled down her cheeks. She wiped at the wetness with a trembling hand. “I could tell something was wrong. It was stamped all over Rafe’s face.”

Liv glanced from one to the other, saw the same grim expression on both of their faces. “Tell me what’s happened.”

Nell swallowed. “It’s . . . it’s Scotty. He was killed last night.”

Olivia felt the blood seeping out of her head. She found herself sinking down on the bench opposite Rafe. “Oh God. That’s why Cassie didn’t show up for work this morning.” The reason Olivia had had to call Katie.

Rafe’s towel-wrapped hand unconsciously fisted. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything. I figured since Cassie works here, Nell already knew.”

“I’m glad you told me,” Nell said. “I need to go to her, make sure she’s okay.”

“I’ll cover while you’re gone,” Liv said. “We’ll be fine.” Nell wiped fresh tears from her cheeks. “This is going to break her heart. She loved Scotty so much. Everyone loved him.”

“I can’t believe he’s dead,” Liv said, aching for the young woman whose future had been shattered. “What happened?”

“The police think it was a mugging,” Rafe said. “Whoever did it stole his wallet, jewelry, cell phone.”

“Where did it happen?”

“On the dock next to the Scorpion.”

“Last night?”

“That’s right.”

Liv frowned. “What was he doing down at the dock at night? He’s usually home with Cassie.”

“I don’t know. I talked to Jaimie Graham before I came over. She had no idea what he was doing down there.”

“Jaimie had an awful crush on Scotty,” Nell said. “She must have taken the news real hard.”

“Jaimie isn’t good at hiding her feelings,” Rafe said. “She ran out of the house as soon as I told her, took off so no one would see her cry.”

Nell shook her head, moving the thick, salt-and-pepper hair that came to her shoulders and was clipped back on each side. “Poor thing.”

“I still can’t figure why Scotty was down at the dock,” Olivia said.

Rafe’s brown eyes swung to her face. “I’m hoping once things settle down, Cassie’ll be able to tell us.”

Olivia thought of the young woman who worked for her, imagined her pain, and her throat went tight. In the six months she had been running the café, she and Cassie had become close friends. Or at least as close as Liv could allow.

She looked over at Nell, whose face was still pale. “You go on. Go to her. As soon as the breakfast rush is over, I’ll join you at Cassie’s house.”

Nell just nodded. Picking the coffeepot up off the table, she headed for the breakfast counter, set the pot on the burner at the back. Removing her sky-blue Pelican Café apron, she slipped out through the side door near the rear of the building.

Liv glanced across the table at Rafe. His jaw looked iron hard, his eyes so dark she could barely see a hint of gold. For the first time it occurred to her that Rafe was hurting, too. Scotty was his first mate and they were friends. Cassie had said Scott idolized Rafe, had thought of him as an older brother.

Reaching toward him, she settled a hand over the fist he rested on top of the table. “Are you okay?”

His dark eyes flicked down to her hand, then moved up to her face. “Scott was a good man. One of the best. Whoever killed him is going to pay.”

A little shiver ran through her. It wasn’t a statement. It was a vow. “Surely the police will find the man who did it.”

“There’re eleven guys in the Valdez department. Eleven police officers to cover two-hundred-seventy square miles, including the pipeline terminus.” Valdez was the end point of the Alaska pipeline. The huge oil shipping facility at the edge of town was one of the things that made Valdez famous.

Along with the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Eleven million gallons killed 250,000 seabirds and hundreds of otters and seals, a disaster it took thirty years to recover from. That and the biggest earthquake in U.S. history.

More recently, the tiny town was a place known for its majestic scenery and fabulous fishing.

“What about the State Troopers?” Olivia asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe. Rosen is a good man, but cops can be pissy about their territory. He may think he can go it alone.”

“Maybe he can,” Liv said, but she didn’t really trust the police. Hadn’t since she’d been forced to run for her life and couldn’t count on the police to help her.

“Maybe,” Rafe said. “I guess we’ll see.”

Liv watched his jaw settle into a determined line and thought of the vow he had made. Clearly it was a promise he meant to keep.

As she slid out of the booth, she realized her legs still felt shaky. “Would you like something to eat? You look like you could use it.”

Rafe rubbed a hand over the bristles along his jaw. “Lost my appetite. I just need some coffee. That’s what I came in for.”

She noticed the china mug in front of him had never gotten filled. “I’ll take care of it.” She headed across the café, grabbed the pot off the burner, and returned, poured his mug to the brim. “It’s on the house today.”

“Thanks . . . Liv.” Rafe’s gaze fixed on her face. It was the first time he had used the more familiar version of her name.

Olivia didn’t like the way her stomach lifted at the way he said that single, softly spoken word.

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Author Info 

 Kat Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty books across multiple genres. Sixteen million copies are in print and she has been published in twenty-one foreign countries, including Japan, France, Argentina, Greece, China, and Spain. Her books have been nominated for the prestigious RITA award and won both the Lifetime Achievement and Reviewer’s Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews.

A resident of Missoula, Montana, Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She and her author husband, L.J. Martin, spend their winters in Ventura, California. She is currently writing her next Romantic Suspense. Visit Kat at

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Monday, May 25, 2015

The Missing Planets--The Cairns of Sainctuarie by Hawk MacKinney (VBB, excerpt and GIVEAWAY) Goddess Fish Tours

(note from ELF:  To those who join with me in honoring those who serve, Happy Memorial Day!)

by Hawk MacKinney



Planet Terato has become a member of the assembly of the Confederated League of Allied Star Systems. The Murian Outpost Terato once commanded by His Imperial Majesty’s Lord High Chamberlain Herklo Korvo XXXIV is now Teratoan staffed and under the command of Teratoan Eklam a’Qoc.

From the uncharted reaches between galaxies, attacks of extraordinary weaponry come against Terato and the Myr worlds of the Murians. Terminus Terato’s expanded link-portals and converter power modules are virtually useless. Power loss, defenses, communications and travel are totally disrupted. High Chamberlain Korvo’s unexpected return to Terminus on a mission for His Imperial Majesty leaves him stranded on Terato. Attacks grow more massive, more unpredictable; spread across the worlds of the League, as an isolated Terminus struggles among the shattered rubble and whispering remains of an ancient Polity of star-walkers.

Family and friends are lost, empires and civilizations in disarray, Terminus and Planet Terato almost defenseless. Desperate for answers, their worlds being overwhelmed by this remorseless aggressor, Eklam and Korvo reach across unexplored space in a despairing gamble and the last reserves of converter star-substrate, seeking one insignificant star system of gas giants and rocky inner planets for possible relics of the elusive Lantaraan Polity.



“... eastern radials unstable... strengthening vortices opposing orbital realignment...”

Parn’s head throbbed as his thoughts forced the converter toward more output. The power graph flattening with the unremitting decline as the quantum particles of the shell alloys began to disassociate. Output had reached max and was slowly dropping.

The sound of crashes and roars still louder—Ek knew Terminus couldn’t stand much more. “Once antimatter reaches the hub, the self-destruct will trigger.”

Screens blinked unresponsive. Drok shouted above the bedlam, “The Downday hasn’t attained minimum horizon-clearance. Targeting beams holding on standby. Unless the moon clears the horizon, the beams could refract; bounce off into space; never engage the receptors.” Converters shrieked like a wounded Teratoan swamp crawler. “Showing orbital irregularities... orbital constants vacillating,” eyes glued to the inputs. Puzzled at the unexpected readings coming from a source near the a’Qoc hamlet. “Receiving quick output bursts from the altar,” his tunic dusted with more debris, rivulets of sweat-puddled the dust-furrows of his face.

Ek said, “What type of altar outputs?”

Drok said, “Plasma components—unfamiliar readings.”

“The hub will lose power once the antimatter penetrates those last banks of converter,” Ek said. “Before we lose hub power I want you to go to the sublevel vaults housing the encode archives. Should a power failure warning be announced while you are there, backup power will last long enough. Be sure you are some distance away from the archive vaults before backup power is exhausted.” Reached a small odd-shaped crystal to Drok, “Use this to deactivate any security scrims, and duplicate the protocol crystals. No matter what you have to do, keep those crystals safe. If Terato survives and a Murian survey team returns, they’ll know what to do with those crystals. Those duplicates might be the only records to survive; their information could be vital for Myraa City—if Myraa City survives.”

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention. Walking the Pet is Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series. The first book in another mystery-thriller series is scheduled for release in 2015. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012. Its sequel, The Missing Planets, has just been released.




Hawk MacKinney will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here