From my bookshelf: What I look for in a fictional heroine


This amazing new author has a short story in the anthology Haunting Tales of Spirit Lake.

Originally posted on Nan Monroe:

As I’ve mentioned previously, I like to read epic/historical fantasy and science fiction that features women doing cool things. Since “cool things” is an awfully vague phrase, I need to elaborate a little more clearly about what that means. What do I enjoy seeing fictional heroines do, or be? What qualities do I admire most in them?

1) Competence. I always take pleasure in encountering a butt-kicking warrior woman in the pages of an epic fantasy or a sci-fi adventure, like Sulien in Jo Walton’s The King’s Peace or Starhawk in Barbara Hambly’s The Ladies of Mandrigyn or Cordelia Naismith in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cordelia’s Honor. But heroines don’t necessarily have to kick butt physically in order to make me happy. All I ask is that, whatever they do — whether they be courtesan-spies like Phedre in Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart or rock musicians like Eddi in Emma Bull’s

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Excerpt from A Matter of Trust


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“Hell.” Mac Carlson hit speed dial for a second time, one white knuckled hand gripped the steering wheel. Crap like this didn’t happen on his watch. Carlson Group, though new in Atlanta, ranked number one in the security business.
He punched speed dial for the third time and swerved to miss a car that pulled out in front of him. He swore at the driver and flipped him off. The idiot would have killed a less skilled driver. Why didn’t they answer the damned phone?
The Knights’ alarm had activated and then fallen silent. Why? Mac had dropped Allen Knight off earlier at a meeting downtown. Only Knight’s wife and daughter stayed home, along with the family’s personal security, of course.
Could be a false alarm. Yeah, right. Like the newly installed multi-faceted security system all malfunctioned at once, no chance. Besides, Mac trusted his instincts and alarm bells were jangling through every cell of his being. His gut said this was real, and it wasn’t going to be pretty.
“Answer the phone.”
Where the hell was security? If Allen had allowed him to handpick the on-premise security team this wouldn’t be happening. Mac’s fist pounded the steering wheel.

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Let’s Celebrate a New Release!

Genealogy, Scrapbooking, & Card Making
By Ashley Ladd
When I’m not writing or reading, I like to hunt find my ancestors and learn about their lives. Whereas my mother’s family enjoys staying in touch with relatives and telling family stories, my father’s family is very secretive. You’d think they were guarding Fort Knox.
To the left is a picture of my “Cowboy Grandpa” standing on his homestead in Montana in 1918. I love this photograph. Below is my other grandpa during WWI during his service in Germany.
I spend a lot of time on finding photographs like this one, but when I’ve hit brick walls I’ve also been known to haunt graveyards in my family’s hometown of Cincinnati. Not just the offices of the big graveyards like Vine Street Hill and Spring Grove Cemetery but searching the headstones themselves for clues in the smaller cemeteries when I hit blocks.
I’ve found a couple long lost cousins through message boards on genealogy sites who have shared gems of information, who are now my Facebook friends, who continue to share historical photographs and stories.
Because I found so many awesome pictures scrapbooking seemed like a natural extension to my genealogy addiction. Once I found so many terrific photographs I wanted to showcase them and make sure my progeny would know everybody’s stories. I became a rabid avid photographer, snapping photos right and left of my kids and grandkids until they begged me to stop. I want our ancestors to know our generation too.
To the left is my granddaughter a few years ago. Saturday nights I often get together with my scrapbooking buddies and we put together pages. I’ve spent countless hours (and money) on this hobby. It’s not cheap but it’s so much fun. Often I join scrapbook challenges on as well that prompts me to take new photographs and try new scrapbooking techniques. I’m by no means an expert but I hope I’ve done a good job being our family’s historian.
An extension of scrapbooking was card making. It’s fun to play with glue, paper, ink, and glittery stuff. Sometimes I make my own birthday and Christmas cards. Here are some samples:

The monster card was a birthday card I made for my granddaughter’s 7th birthday. The reindeer card is a Christmas card.
I got a lot of practice coming up with spiffy titles for the scrapbook pages which should help me come up with good titles for my books.


Excerpt from A Matter of Trust


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“Hell.” Mac Carlson hit speed dial for a second time, one white knuckled hand gripped the steering wheel. Crap like this didn’t happen on his watch. Carlson Group, though new in Atlanta, ranked number one in the security business.
He punched speed dial for the third time and swerved to miss a car that pulled out in front of him. He swore at the driver and flipped him off. The idiot would have killed a less skilled driver. Why didn’t they answer the damned phone?
The Knights’ alarm had activated and then fallen silent. Why? Mac had dropped Allen Knight off earlier at a meeting downtown. Only Knight’s wife and daughter stayed home, along with the family’s personal security, of course.
Could be a false alarm. Yeah, right. Like the newly installed multi-faceted security system all malfunctioned at once, no chance. Besides, Mac trusted his instincts and alarm bells were jangling through every cell of his being. His gut said this was real, and it wasn’t going to be pretty.
“Answer the phone.”
Where the hell was security? If Allen had allowed him to handpick the on-premise security team this wouldn’t be happening. Mac’s fist pounded the steering wheel.

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What? You Mean I Have to Research too?


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I write fiction, I make it all up. I tell lies for a living now. Yep, that’s what I do. I used to be a more honest person. In my former career I taught school and I prided myself on my honesty. Not so anymore.

My Daddy was a consumate liar. He was famous for it. He’d tell the same lies so many times that he’d believe them himself. I guess I owe my dad for my gift of writing fiction. He taught me to tell stories. I learned how to embellish the truth.

An idea pops into my head and I run with it. Easy as pie right? I gave up writing historicals because I didn’t have time to do the research. But guess what, even writing contemporary fiction requires research, so I spend many hours gathering facts and articles, maps and pictures all to insure that my stories, while fiction, ring true.

Right now I am working on a romantic suspense set during a major snowstorm in the Atlanta area. Guess what I’ve been researching?

You got it, the great Snowpocalypse of 2014. I’ve found so many details of that event to include in my story. When I started developing this plot, I had no idea who my hero would work for, so I reached out to a retired military friend for that information. I waited a couple months for the answers to my questions because he had to get permission to give me those answers. Wow, I was impressed. Maybe he wasn’t quite as retired as I thought he was.

Once while working on a story that involved agents from the GBI I called the Atlanta office and talked to an agent. He was very informative. I promised him a copy of that book, but haven’t managed to sell it, so he’s still waiting. Now maybe I’ll pull it out and go the indie route, so I can send him his copy.

I’ve decided historicals might be easier after all, history doesn’t change like contemporary times do. Don’t even get me started about sci-fi or paranormal or fantasy. Yes, you make it all up. Yes it’s fiction. But you still have to get the details right and that means research.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the research. I’ll waste… uh work for hours researching. Did I mention I majored in history in college? Well, I did and I love research. I love researching and digging up the little details that make my lies ring true. What about you? How do you make your lies ring true?

Character Interview “What Makes a Hero Special?”


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I’ve tracked down Jolie Wyngate heroine of A Matter of Trust and want her to tell us about Mac Carlson. Jolie is sitting beside the pool at the Arizona estate of a well-known congressional candidate. He and Mac are buds from way back and he’s extended his hospitality to the couple. After working together to rescue a kidnapped child, Mac and Jolie are taking a well-deserved break now that the bad guy has been taken care of. (At least that’s what they think as they visit Sedona, Arizona for a little R & R.)
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MJ: “Jolie, the question we would like to have answered is what makes Mac great hero material?
Jolie: “Mac is certainly hero material, just ask the Maniac, she’s quite taken with him.”
MJ: “Okay, let’s start with physical appearance, is there anyone you think Mac favors?”
Jolie laughs, the sound carries on the warm Arizona breeze. “He looks a bit like Matthew McConaughey. But then you know that MJ, I’ve seen the picture you hung over the computer while you were working. He has a boyish charm that most women find endearing.”
MJ: “What was the first thing you noticed about Mac?”
Jolie: “His smile and he has really nice teeth. And that dimple beside his mouth. But his eyes, he has the most beautiful, dreamy eyes. But you do remember the first time I saw him, right? That first impression was a little hard to shake. I thought he was an alien!”
MJ: “Yes, I remember, he was wearing night-vision goggles, wasn’t he?” I smiled at the memory. “So, what else about Mac made an impression?”
Jolie: “His sense of duty and honor, you do remember he was a SEAL?”
MJ: “Did you find working with Mac a challenge?”
Jolie: Definitely, he has big time trust issues. But you’ve got that under control right?
MJ: “Me?”
Jolie: “You’re the author, you’re the one who gave him those trust issues.”
MJ: (I suddenly realize what comes next in the plot and decide to change the topic) “What do you think is the most important character trait for a hero?”
Jolie: “Honesty is very high on my list.”
MJ: Still remembering where we are in the plot. Uh oh. Mac can still pull this out if he’s careful. “How about on the hotness scale. Where would you rank Mac on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being too hot to handle?”
Jolie: Again with the giggle. “Mac is definitely a 5+.”
MJ: “Why?”
Jolie: “He’s in top shape, has a killer smile and Paul Newman eyes. Just being near him is enough to make your toes curl.”
MJ: “Where is this male paragon?”
Jolie: “He went to get the Jeep, we’re going to explore red rock country. I want to see Bell Rock.”
MJ: “Bell Rock? Well, y’all be careful.” I decide not to distract Jolie any longer because I know she… well, read the book and you will see!

You’ll want to know what happens next, so hurry and click the buy link for A Matter of Trust!

Watch the trailer for A Matter of Trust

About the Author:
MJ Flournoy loves crafting stories of romance and suspense. Her interest in writing grew organically from her love of reading. A late bloomer, MJ attended college as a non-traditional student and earned a degree in history with an eye toward writing historical romance.
After graduation from college, MJ became a middle school teacher, which helps to keep her grounded in the real world while her plots take her away to the extraordinary worlds of imagination and creativity. MJ enjoys adding a twist of paranormal to her plots.
MJ makes her home in rural Georgia with her husband. She has two children and two
grandchildren. Her favourite activities are writing, reading, and travel.

Find MJ Flournoy here:
On this blog of course! or

Gift Card Drawing and Interview With Author MJ Flournoy – Inside Her Erotic Romantic Suspense Novel ‘A Matter of Trust’


Enjoyed doing this interview with Laurie Kozlowski!

Originally posted on LaurieWriting:

Please join me in welcoming MJ Flournoy, author of steamy, emotional, suspenseful and gripping erotic romance. It’s my pleasure to share with you more about this wonderful author and her great novel, A Matter of Trust. We’ll also be giving away an Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter, so read on!

Laurie:Welcome, MJ! I’m thrilled to have you on the blog today to share more about who you are and why you write.

MJ: Laurie, thanks so much for having me today. As you know, I write romantic suspense for ARES, which is an imprint of Renaissance Ebooks. I write because I love being in charge of the outcome of my plots. I enjoy making things happen, then figuring out how to undo what I’ve done to my characters. My days are spent as a special education teacher, but my evenings are all about writing romantic suspense.


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May Day Release for Ann Gimpel’s Blood and Magic


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Blood and Magic

By Ann Gimpel

Publisher: Taliesin

Release Date: 5/1/14

Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance
63,000 words

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Can Luke conquer his past and claim the only woman he’s ever loved?

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Magic didn’t just find Luke Caulfield. It chased him down, bludgeoned him, and has been dogging him ever since. Some lessons are harder than others. Luke survives by embracing danger and upping the ante to give it one better. An enforcer for the Coven, a large, established group of witches, his latest assignment is playing bodyguard to the daughter of Coven leaders.

Abigail Ruskin is chaperoning a spoiled twelve-year-old from New York to her parents’ home in Utah Territory when Luke gets on their stagecoach in Colorado. A powerful witch herself, Abigail senses Luke’s magic, but he’s so overwhelmingly male, she shies away from contact. Stuck between the petulant child and Luke’s raw sexual energy, Abigail can’t wait for the trip to end.

Wraiths, wolves, and humans with dark magick attack. Unpleasant truths surface about the child and Abigail’s well-ordered world crashes around her. Luke’s so attracted to Abigail, she’s almost all he can think about, but he’s leery too. In over his head, he summons enforcer backup. Will they help him save the woman he’s falling in love with, or demand her immediate execution?

…It wasn’t Luke but a long, drawn-out shriek that brought Abigail thumping back to consciousness, her heart hammering triple time in her chest. Eyes wide and staring against the darkness, she warded herself just in time. Strong magic battered her. She tried to sense Luke, but that was the problem with wards. They protected by forming an impenetrable barrier and corralled her magic inside.
Whatever was pummeling her seemed to have given up. She risked chinking enough of a hole in her warding to send a tendril of magic outward because she needed information. When it came, it terrified her so badly, her heart stuttered. Dark things surrounded them: wraiths, mad wolves—those who’d been turned to serve the other side—and humans who’d sold their immortal souls for forbidden knowledge. Had the girl rallied them? How could she possibly be that powerful? Luke didn’t seem to be anywhere. Abigail hoped he’d concealed himself out of harm’s way, because the two of them couldn’t make the slightest dent in the dark horde outside. The stagecoach rocked and she realized someone was climbing onto the roof. Throat so dry she could barely breathe, she mended her warding.
The books. That’s what they want… Let them haul the miserable things out of here. She knew she should risk heaven and hell to keep such knowledge out of dark hands, but Abigail didn’t see how throwing her life away would alter the outcome. She heard voices speaking the Satanic tongue, and then dragging sounds as someone transferred the trunk to the ground. Luke shouldn’t have bothered to put it back up top, she thought grimly.
What had the Girauds been doing with such arcane tomes in the first place? She supposed there was the slightest chance they’d been protecting them from falling into the wrong hands. Yes, by all means, let’s give Coven members the benefit of the doubt. Except it was a struggle, and she didn’t know who the hell to trust anymore.
She waited until it was absolutely still outside, and a tentative scan told her the dark host she’d sensed earlier had moved on, before loosing her wards. The minute she did, she felt Luke’s energy. He pulled open one of the coach doors. “I scared up a couple of horses from a nearby farm. We need to go after those books—and the girl.”
She fought down the protest that rose to her lips, but it slid out anyway. “There aren’t enough of us.”
“Fixed that problem too.” He smiled grimly. “I can ward you if you want to stay here, but if you’re coming we need to get moving. Don’t want to let the trail get too cold.” From the smirk in his voice, she knew he was being sarcastic.
She sent her magic spiraling outward and felt the books pulsing with evil. No way that path would ever get cold. “Why couldn’t I feel them this strongly before? I know the trunk had to have been spelled, but still…”
“The trunk was spelled, and by someone with magic to burn. It’s over in those trees. I guess Carolyn’s minions were in a hurry and didn’t have a wagon.”
Abigail felt like a rube. The book trunk had already been packed and sealed when she’d picked Carolyn up in New York. She’d never even thought to examine it. “Did you see Carolyn?”
“Yup.” His upper lip curled into a sneer. “Caught a glimpse of her riding a mad wolf.”
“Do you suppose there’s some way we could separate her from Goody Osborne?” Abigail bit her lip nervously.
Luke shook his head. “Even if we could—and I don’t think it’s possible—there are too many unknowns. Her parents might have been turned. If that happened, the kid could have embraced evil before it entered her body. By the time we sorted all that out, the dark would have had one too many chances to kill us.”
Abigail winced at the unvarnished truth in his words. Any residual doubts she held about the necessity of destroying the girl melted away. “Yes,” she said through clenched teeth. “I’m coming with you.”
Luke boosted her onto one of the horses. She pulled her skirts out of the way. It was a normal saddle and this was scarcely a time for modesty. Luke vaulted onto his horse, kneeing it, and they took off up the Overland Stage Road at close to a full gallop. “We’re making too much noise,” she sent.
“Doesn’t matter. They’ll expect us to come after them.”
She clung to the horse with her legs, enjoying the feel of not having to ride sidesaddle. Luke’s horse was larger, faster, and soon pulled so far ahead she could barely see him. She kneed her horse, urging it to greater speed, but the animal shied, and then reared. Abigail struggled for balance and called magic to calm the spooked animal. Something sprang at her and knocked her to the ground. She sent killing magic to stop its heart, before realizing what it was. Panting, she crawled out from under a black and gray mad wolf with blood dribbling from its nostrils, and glanced warily about. Were there more of them?
Carolyn stepped from the shadows. It looked as if she was alone, but Abigail suspected otherwise. “What do you want?”
“Simple enough. I plan to use you to get rid of Breana Giraud—and others.” A sneer twisted the girl’s features into something unpleasant. “You think people don’t know you’re part of Coven government?”
Abigail set her mouth in a hard line. “Fine. So the other side knows about me. Question is, who are you really?”
“Don’t you recognize me?” Carolyn stepped closer and turned her face from side to side as if posing for a photographer. “I gave you my name, but I am far more than that.”
She’s arrogant. Perhaps I can use that in some way. Abigail spread her hands in a placating gesture. “Because I’m used to seeing you as Carolyn Giraud, I’m not certain who you are.” She paused for emphasis. “I’d like you to tell me.”
“Certainly.” A feral grin made the child look like something out of a nightmare. “It is always better to know who your adversary is.” Her voice became soft and silky. “I have access to magic you would kill for. You may not know it, but you’d like to work for us.” She laughed, but it sounded more like broken glass shattering against itself, than a twelve-year-old girl’s mirth. “We have real power, not that paltry tripe the Coven settles for.”
Abigail waited. When Carolyn didn’t say anything else, she said, “I’m listening…and considering your offer. Life is always better than the alternative.”
“Ha! They said you couldn’t be turned, but I told them they were wrong. I am The Promised, resurrected out of legend. Goody Osborne was but a start, and this little girl is merely a convenience.” Something like an outraged squawk followed the words, but Goody silenced Carolyn almost immediately. “What I really want is you, Abigail Ruskin.”
Shit! She couldn’t be The Promised… “You mean the Dark Messiah?” Abigail scrunched up her face and held her breath, hoping against hope she’d gotten it wrong.
“The same.” A supercilious expression etched into the girl’s features. “At least the other side has heard of me. Warms my black, black heart.”
“The books—?” Abigail hunted for a connection while she rode herd on terror that threatened to immobilize her, and clouded her judgment. If ever she needed a clear head, it was now, but her mind raced feverishly.
“They weren’t doing the girl’s parents any good moldering away in that underground chamber. I’d actually been searching for them for years.” She flashed a sly smile. “They used to be mine…”

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

Short Bio:
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published over 20 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014.

A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.

Long Bio:
Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

Guest Author Monday


Mary Marvella writes a mean romantic suspense! Even her villian is hot!

Originally posted on Leanne Tyler:

Please welcome today’s Guest Author ~ Mary Marvella

Good Monday, Leanne,  I think it might finally be spring here in Georgia.

I love a good romantic suspense novel! I especially enjoy getting to know the characters.  Some authors keep me awake all night because I can’t put their books down. I hope to be one of those for other readers.

Protective_Instincts_Final_LARGEProtective Instincts was my first book, but it had a different title and a really beginning, tone, and ending.  After I finished it and refined the beginning, I thought it was ready to go out into the world. Not so! I got the “good” rejections but not requests for other work or suggested revisions.  After years of writing other books and revising this one I signed a contract with the editor I least expected to want my story.

Protective Instincts is the story of Brit, a woman who has finally…

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Second Leg Baton Blog Hop

Well, I forgot to duck and now I’ve got to carry the baton again. My good friend Marilyn Byron tapped me this time. Actually I was supposed to have posted yesterday, but a family member had a sudden health crisis and spent the day at the doctors office. He is doing better now and hopefully new medication will take care of the problem. So, here I am taking part again in the Baton Blog Hop.


My friend Marilyn is a member of Georgia Romance Writers. Maryilyn’s first book, Under the Moon Gate, was released in 2013. 

Marilyn is featured in the March/April 2014 issue of Southern Writers Magazine! Check it out HERE!

Marilyn wins a second top blogger award from the Romance Lives Forever Blog!  Check it outHERE !

HOMECOMING HOMICIDES (A Psychic Crystal Mystery–Book Two) is out in E-book and paperback. Scroll down to recent releases or go HERE for more information.

 So, please check out my friend Marilyn’s work.

Here’s how the Baton Blog Hop works. When you are tapped you post the answers to four questions on your blog and share with readers about your work. Then you pick three friends and toss the Baton to them. I’ll tell you about the people I tapped later. Right now, lets get to the fun part.

1)     What am I working on?


Right now I am working on promoting my current release, A Matter of Trust. This is a romantic suspense with a middle school teacher with psychic abilities who is framed for kidnapping of a young child. This kid just happened to be under the protection of an ex-Navy SEAL turn security expert. Both characters have major trust issues, but must learn to work together and trust one another in order to save the child. 


2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

A Matter of Trust is different because the Maniac who is a secondary character that plays a major part in the story. The Maniac was the heroine’s imaginary friend who stuck around into adulthood. This is a fast paced romantic suspense with very strong paranormal elements. 


3)     Why do I write what I do?

I have to write because my characters once they catch my attention won’t leave me alone. The slip into my mind at the most inopportune times demanding that I tell their stories. Or they whisper to me of daring deeds and I have to scramble to keep up with their words.

4)     How does your writing process work?

Danged if I know. It doesn’t work most of the time, but I keep struggling with it anyway. Carving time to write is a challenge. I work full time as a teacher. I am looking forward to retiring in May, then I will have to learn to pace myself and keep writing.

A Matter of Trust is a romantic suspense with paranormal elements. I enjoyed writing this book because as they say, “it was ripped from the headlines.” The idea came after seeing a report of a woman who intervened and called the police when she saw a child she thought had been kidnapped. The woman literally saved a child’s life.

My character, Jolie is a teacher with psychic abilities. Using those abilities cost her dearly, but when a child is kidnapped, she has to team up with hot, sexy hero Mac Carlson to rescue the child. Mac is an ex-Navy SEAL and a loner. Can they learn to trust each other and work together to save the little girl?



(Note-Maniac speaks in Italics)

This is so not good, wake up, Mary Poppins, come on, we’re in deep birdie do-do here.

Jolie’s entire body seared with fire from the inside out. Every muscle, every tendon screamed in pain. She tried to move. She could barely breathe. Her throat refused to cooperate with her order to scream. For a moment she thought herself blind as well as immobile, but the soft texture of cloth against her cheek told her that whatever had been put over her head remained. Slowly her wits returned, if not control of her body. She remembered opening the door and stepping into darkness. Then? Nothing.

No, that’s not right. They drugged us. Didn’t you feel that needle? Hurt like hell. Probably still does, but we can’t feel it with the effect of whatever the hell he gave us.Jolie managed a groan deep in her throat.

Or maybe just in her mind. My arm, my pain, not yours, she admonished the Maniac.

Not the time to quibble. I suppose I could go and leave you alone.

Don’t you dare. It would be just like you to leave me at a time like this. Why didn’t you warn me? You can feel when a child is in danger, but can’t tell when I’m about to be abducted? What kind of guardian angel are you anyway?

Never claimed to be an angel. Besides, you know it doesn’t work that way. We can’t help ourselves. Only others.

Well, if you ask me, it’s a stupid rule.            

Not my rule.

Where are we? Jolie tried to move and found her limbs unresponsive.

Haven’t got the foggiest. Can’t see a damn thing with this bag over your head. The Maniac snickered at her little joke.

Now is so not the time to be funny.

Do something.

I can’t move, I’ve tried.

Crap, whatever he used still hasn’t worn off.

Jolie’s attention caught on that one word. He? She willed her body to move but nothing happened.

Why don’t you do something? Jolie couldn’t feel her arms, much less move them. Why do I have to do it all?

Quiet, someone’s coming. Don’t let him know we’re awake.

Like I could. Panic surged within her when someone or something moved nearby. A subtle shift here, a sound there. Chills tingled down her spine. How many were there? What did they want with her? What were they going to do with her, do to her?

Fear choked her. Perspiration pooled in certain areas of her body. Armpits, upper lip, valley between her breasts, all damp. The scent of fear filled her nostrils. Her fear. Thick tangible, choking, debilitating fear. It ran through her veins like poison. Somewhere deep in her chest a small child-like whimper began, built pressure and forced its way between her clenched lips.

She would not be a wimp. She would not.

We’re not in any immediate danger, I would sense if evil were lurking.

Now you’re a freaking evil barometer. Jolie drew strength from the calmness of the Maniac’s voice.

Well, duh? How else do you think I know these things?

Well, why didn’t you… Jolie stilled her thoughts. Never mind, listen they’re coming closer.

Slowly the paralysis relaxed. Jolie tried and found she could move her fingers. Maybe even her arms. She held her body tense, waiting, hoping for a chance. A chance to do what? She was a teacher, not a pugilist. Teachers weren’t even allowed to paddle kids these days.

I am so screwed. Jolie realized she could move, but had no idea what to do with that new ability. Should have taken some sort of self-defense class instead of doubling up on reading instructions, Jolie grumbled. Slowly she moved her foot, testing for bindings. She could move her feet, her hands, and even lift her head, if she moved slowly. Apparently her abductors were so confident in the drug used to render her helpless they felt no need to bind her. Their mistake, she hoped.

Okay, we can use this to our advantage. Try moving an arm, see if you can push the damn cloth away from our eyes.

Biting back a retort at the Maniac’s order, Jolie slowly moved her arm, her fingers feeling for the edge of the cloth covering her face. By cautious inches, she pushed the material away from her face.


Total darkness greeted her. Jolie groaned. So much for that.

She moved her hand back to her side, letting her fingers slide over the surface where she lay. It felt like silk, no, satin. Her hand fanned out, moving over the smooth, cool surface. When the fog gradually cleared from her befuddled brain, she took in more details. Softness beneath her. Satin smoothness, soft like a mattress. Jolie’s breath caught in her throat when she and the Maniac reached the same conclusion at the same time.

Not good. We’re in someone’s bed.

Total darkness surrounded her and yet she could feel someone watching her. Her senses were in hyper drive. Warning tingles ran along her spine. Someone was definitely nearby, watching her.

He’s here.

Now, here’s the passing of the Baton!

 First person I’ve tapped is Melba Moon. Melba writes fiction for Gilded Dragonfly Books and is the author of 5 Easy Lessons to Improve Your Child’s Reading. Check out Melba’s website,



Second up is Scarlet Pumpernickle. Scarlet is a blogger who runs a blog to review fiction. Check out

So that’s it folks. Thanks for visiting. Leave a comment for a chance to win a free book!


Happy reading.


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