Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Freedom Broker Book Tour and Giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card ~ 2 Winners!


The Freedom Broker
by KJ Howe
Genre: Thriller

KIDNAP & RANSOM
IN-DEPTH RESEARCH FOR CANADIAN AUTHOR’S DEBUT INTERNATIONAL THRILLER

There are twenty-five elite kidnap negotiators in the world. Only one is a woman. And she’s the best in the business. Meet Thea Paris in THE FREEDOM BROKER.

With over 40,000 reported kidnappings every year -- which translates to five people every hour -- the world of kidnap and ransom is taking on a newsworthy role across the globe. Displaced military and police in third world countries have no way to put food on the table, but they do have security skills, so they have turned to kidnapping as a way of making a living. Also, terrorists are using kidnapping as a fundraising enterprise, filling their coffers with over 125 million dollars since 2009. Kidnappers used to only abduct high net-worth individuals and executives of multi-national organizations. Not anymore. Journalists, aid workers, and family members of executives have now become high value targets.

Kidnapping is a growing international crisis. What tools do we have to fight against this increasing threat? There are twenty-five elite kidnap negotiators who travel to the globe’s hotspots to bring hostages home, through negotiation or recovery, and they are called response consultants or freedom brokers

Local to Toronto, author K.J. Howe has immersed herself in the world of kidnapping for the last three years, interviewing kidnap negotiators, former hostages, kidnap and ransom insurance executives, hostage reintegration experts, psychiatrists specializing in the captive’s mindset, and the Special Forces soldiers who deliver ransoms and execute rescues. 

Howe’s research culminates into her debut thriller, THE FREEDOM BROKER, published by the Hachette Book Group under the Quercus imprint in the US, Canada, U.K. and many foreign territories. The book has reached attention North America wide, and has led to reviewers such as #1 NYT Bestseller James Patterson calling it “fact and fiction at its best.” 

K.J. Howe’s novel has received positive and international acclaim from some of North America’s most influential mediums and authors including:

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TIME Magazine called the book a “Dark Delight.”

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#1 NYT Bestseller Lee Child endorses the book: “Razor sharp and full of you-are-there authenticity -- a superb thriller.”

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NYT Bestseller Linwood Barclay shares, “Breathless action, great characters, and convincing details make Howe’s debut a surefire rocket to the top of the lists.”

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In The Providence Journal, USA Today Bestselling author Jon Land reviews, The Freedom Broker is a blisteringly original, superbly crafted thriller that promises to be one of the major debuts of 2017. K.J. Howe’s gut-wrenching foray into the world of hostage negotiation turned upside down propels her straight into the league of Linda Fairstein, Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Scottoline, and Karin Slaughter, thanks to a tale framed by an emotional complexity and structural elegance both rare for the genre. As riveting as it is bracing, this is reading entertainment at its absolute best.”



An Excerpt from Chapter One

500 feet above Kwale, Nigeria
November 1st
2:30 a.m.


Thea Paris knew the drill.

If the mission failed, no one would retrieve her body. She’d be left to rot in the jungle, unidentified and forgotten. And that wouldn’t do. She couldn’t miss her father’s 60th celebration.

Her gloved hand glided over her flak jacket and M4 with practiced ease. Night vision goggles, flares, grenades, extra magazines -- all easy to access. The weapon had been tested, cleaned and oiled, ready to combat the humidity of the jungle. Pre-mission checks done.

The hypnotic purr of the resurrected Hughes 500P helicopter set the tone for the operation. Black, in every sense of the word. Sound, movement, light, all kept to a minimum. They were flying Nap-of-the-Earth; low, utilizing the terrain to stay below the radar.

As operational commander, she’d led her seven-man team through endless rehearsals, using a model of the targeted area. Now it was time for execution. Brown listened to Hendrix in his earbuds, his way of psyching up. Johansson stared into space, probably thinking about his pregnant wife who wasn’t happy he’d accepted this mission. Team A, following behind in the other gutted chopper, consisted of twin brothers Neil and Stewart -- yep, born in Scotland -- and a wizened former French Foreign Legionnaire named Jean-Luc who could outshoot them all. She’d handpicked each one from the pool of operatives at Quantum International Security.

Except Rifat Asker, her boss' son.

Who was staring at her. They’d known each other since they’d been kids, as their fathers were best friends. Rif had serious combat skills, but they often locked horns on methods of execution. She traced the S-shaped scar on her right cheek, a permanent reminder of Rif clashing with her brother Nikos.

She pressed a special app button on her smartphone. The glucose monitor read 105. Batteries were fully charged. Perfect. Nothing screwed up a mission more than low blood sugar. She slipped her phone into the pocket of her fatigues beside her glucagon kit. Rif’s assessing gaze still focused on her. Did he suspect she had diabetes? She’d done her best to keep her illness under wraps. Competition was tough among this elite group, and she didn’t want anyone thinking she wasn’t up for the job.

The pilot's voice crackled in her earpiece. "Three minutes to touchdown."

"Roger that. We're green here."

The second helicopter followed somewhere behind them, but the stormy sky obliterated all evidence of its existence. She wiped her damp palms on her fatigues. Rain rattled the chopper's fuselage, and the turbulence unsettled her stomach. Flying had never been her strong suit. The reduced visibility worked in their favor, but the cloying humidity and heat degraded the airtime and performance of the chopper. To compensate, they'd reduced their fuel load to stay as light as possible, but that left only a minimal buffer for problems.

Rif shifted to face Brown and Johansson. "Okay, boys, let's grab this 'Oil Eagle'."

The hostage, John Sampson, an oil executive based in Texas, earned high six figures to visit remote drilling sites and increase their output. Sampson had two kids, and his wife taught third grade. He coached baseball every Thursday night, but he'd missed the last ten weeks because he'd been held captive in the swamp by MEND -- Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta. Seemed like every terrorist group had some catchy acronym, like they’d hired PR firms to come up with them.

This Nigerian militant group wouldn’t budge from a three-million-dollar demand, and Sampson’s kidnapping insurance topped out at one mil. That left one option. Rescue. But one out of five was the success rate for extractions.

"One minute until touchdown," the pilot warned.

She slipped on her night vision goggles and clutched the straps anchored to the cabin walls.

"You sure there's no leak?" Black camo paint emphasized the tension in the lines around Rif's eyes.

"Roger that.” She concentrated on the positives -- always better than bleak thoughts when descending into hellfire. They should have the element of surprise, and she’d selected a crackerjack team. Every member would put his life on the line for the others, and their combined combat experience read like the Ivy League of special ops.

The pilot threaded the riverbed using the narrow view provided by the FLIR camera mounted near the skids. Flying into the thick jungle on a moonless night was far from optimal, but their intel was time sensitive. They had to get Sampson out tonight.

"Thirty seconds." The pilot's warning was like a shot of caffeine injected into her veins.

They’d arrived at a small clearing in the triple canopy jungle two miles from the rebel camp. A film of perspiration coated her back. Her body tingled. Alive, awake, adrenalized.

"Ten seconds."

The pilot raised the bird’s nose, flaring to a hover, then settled onto the grass. She nodded to her team, and they hit the ground and rolled away from the chopper. Heat emanated from the rotorwash, as their transport rose up and away.

A moldy stench flooded her mouth and nose, the residual effect of endless rainy seasons. They huddled in the thick bush while the other Hughes dropped off Jean-Luc and the two Scots. She scanned the area. The choppers faded into the distance, their peculiar silhouettes showcasing the modifications for stealth.

Night sounds returned. Crickets chirping, water gurgling from the nearby river bed, the ominous roar of a hippo. She checked her GPS, signaled Rif, and entered the dense foliage. Forty-two minutes to execute the rescue, rendezvous with the helicopters, and get the hell out of here. She circumnavigated the heaviest brush, then froze.

A sound. Scuffling in the bushes. Her hands tightened on her M4. A sentry so close to their launch point?

She glanced over her shoulder. Rif's large frame crouched two feet behind her. Brown and Johansson squatted beside him while Team A covered the rear. The shrubbery to their left rippled in the brisk breeze.

Silence. A mosquito implanted itself in her neck. She ignored the sharp sting.

A branch snapped. She flicked off the safety.

Crunching footsteps. A shrill cry.

She scanned right, left. Movement flashed in front of them at ground level.

Her finger hovered beside the trigger.

More footsteps.

A porcupine scurried across their ingress route, its quills in full attack mode.

She exhaled a long breath and gave Brown a half-smile. Dammit to hell. She’d almost shot the prickly creature, which would have blown their cover. Brown touched the rabbit's foot around his neck and nodded. Good luck charms were an operational must. She always wore the St. Barbara silver pendant her father had given her on her twelfth birthday. It hadn't let her down yet.





Born in Toronto, Canada, K.J. enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle during her early years, living in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean, which gave her an insider’s view into many different cultures. While abroad, she read every book she could find, which triggered in her a desire to create her own stories.

She attended Salzburg International Preparatory School, Neuchâtel Junior College, and Albert College before earning a Specialists Degree in Business from the University of Toronto. K.J. found success in the corporate world, but her passion for travel, adventure, and stories drew her back to school where she earned a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She also won several writing awards, including three Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

While honing her fiction skills, K.J. worked as a medical, health, and fitness writer. She then became involved with the International Thriller Writers as the executive director of ThrillerFest, the organization’s annual conference held every July in New York City.

In preparation for writing THE FREEDOM BROKER series, which focuses on elite kidnap negotiator Thea Paris, K.J. spent extensive time researching the dark world of kidnapping. She has interviewed former hostages, negotiators, hostage reintegration experts, Special Forces operatives, and K&R insurance executives.

K.J. is an avid tennis player, cyclist, and swimmer. Travel and adventure still rank high on her priority list. She has had the pleasure of riding racing camels in Jordan, surfing in Hawaii, zip lining in the Costa Rican jungle, diving alongside Great White Sharks in South Africa, studying modern combat in the Arizona desert, and working with elephants in Botswana. Home is in Toronto, Canada, but she is often missing in action.

K.J. Howe is available for interviews and appearances along with presentations about kidnapping and travel safety. For media appearances, interviews, speaking engagements, and/or book review requests, please contact mickey.creativeedge@gmail.com by email or by phone at 403.464.6925.



Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!





Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dating the It Guy Book Blast: Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash

Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator's son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon's world, and it doesn't help that his picture-perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her, and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you're dating the "it guy."



An Excerpt from Dating the It Guy:

The next day, I went to the newspaper office to drop off my story. I hoped I wouldn’t run into Lauren, Brendon’s perfect ex, but she was there with her feet up on her desk, talking on the phone. She put up her finger to signal me to wait. There was no place to sit so I stared at the posters on the wall. Lauren was wearing a blue zip-up sweatshirt and sweatpants. Her shiny hair was pulled back in a ponytail (a bouncy one, of course), which showed off her diamond earrings. She had some pearly lavender lipstick on, the kind that makes most people look like a corpse, but on her it showed off her flawless complexion and rosy cheeks. Plus, she didn’t need any other makeup with those gray eyes. I had spent forty-five minutes on my hair and makeup and wore a pair of designer jeans I got on sale and a cute fitted sweater I borrowed from Margaux, yet Lauren was hotter in her sweats and ponytail with hardly any makeup on.

“Sorry, talking to the assistant editor at the Post,” she said.

Stupid namedropper—wait, the Post? Where I had gotten the internship—the same one taken away from me?

“I’m interning there,” she said.

“That’s nice.” Get me out of here. She got my position?

“This is my second time there. I started in the summer, but they wanted me to stay on for the fall. So what can I do for you?” she asked as I tried to keep myself from howling over the unfairness of the universe.

“Here’s the Halloween party story. I e-mailed it to the submission address, but Brendon said you also needed a hard copy.”

“Oh, I thought Brendon was going to write this,” she said.

“He asked me to … is it okay?”

“I guess.” She dropped it in a box and began typing furiously on her laptop.

“You’re welcome.” I hated her. I can’t believe she got my internship at the Post and moved in on my ex-boyfriend. I could just imagine her and Brendon’s life together—it would be like a glossy, preppy perfume ad. Their house would be in a magazine where they’d praise her for her good taste. Then their two perfect children, Brendon Jr. and Lily (or whatever rich people name their daughters), would be dressed in perfect little outfits that matched the furniture. Meanwhile, I’d still be trying to work at the Post and wearing designer clothes from the final markdown sale rack at some bargain-basement store.



Praise for Dating the It Guy:

Dating the It Guy is an entertaining story that is as absorbing as it is hilarious.”~Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite

“A satisfying YA romance that is really about growing up and learning how to deal with life.”~Writing Pearls book review blog

“There is so much to love about this book. Krysten Lindsay Hager knows how teens think and speak, and she understands why Emme would feel overwhelmed by everything about Brendon -- his looks, his popularity, his feelings for her, his exes, his family.”~Vox libris: the voice of books book review blog



Author Krysten Lyndsay Hager

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends ... Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2), and Dating the It Guy. Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Best Sellers award. Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, The Grand Haven Tribune, The Beavercreek Current, The Grand Blanc View, The Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

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Ends 7/23/17

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Warrior of Fire Book Tour and Giveaway for a Print Book and $5 Amazon Gift Card


WARRIOR OF FIRE
By Shona Husk
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pub Date: 6/20/17


Is theirs a love match?

For Leira Venn, her future is a given foretold by the oracle of the Albah, the ancient people she was born to. Which is why she knows from the moment she meets Dr. Julian Ryder that he is fated to be hers. But nothing else about the prophecy feels right. For the handsome doctor is shrouded by darkness, and intimately involved with a woman who seems intent on killing Leira…

Or a death wish?

Sorrow has shadowed Julian Ryder for as long as he can remember. But from the moment he meets lovely Leira, his heart is filled with hope for the future -- a future that is as combustible as the powerful attraction between them. For Leira is marked for death by the very forces who killed his mother. The very darkness that stole everything he held most dear. Only this time, Julian is stronger, more in control of his powers than ever. But will it be enough to save Leira from those who would destroy her?




An Excerpt from Warrior of Fire

Emily slipped her phone into her pocket. He hadn’t been lying about leaving the hospital late. She’d watched him walk out the door. She’d spent a lot of time watching him and not enough doing anything. The times they were together they got as close as two people could, yet Julian had managed to keep the rest of his life completely apart from her. She was pretty sure that no one even knew they were dating.

She sat in her car without starting it. They weren’t really dating and she shouldn’t be feeling pissed that he’d blown her off. He was a mark, not her lover.

He was her kill to get her full membership to the Guardians of Adam. She closed her eyes and leaned over the steering wheel. So why hadn’t she done it already? She should’ve done it months ago when they first met. She’d known that he was Albah from the curl of his ears. But he was also attractive, educated, and nothing like the egotistical magic-using maniacs her mother had told tales about. She should’ve questioned him and killed him two weeks ago while the undead horror was alive and killing. Now the Albanex had vanished and she knew a Guardian hadn’t killed it. The Albah were probably protecting it. Hiding and feeding it.

She shuddered.

How could Julian, a well-respected doctor and burns specialist, participate in something like that? Yet it was in his blood to become an undead, blooddrinking Albanex. She needed to find out where his father lived -- which was harder than it should have been. She’d tried.

There was a tap on her window. Her heart stopped and she almost died.

What a Guardian she was, jumping at a security guard doing his rounds.

She opened her window a crack. “Yes?”

“Just checking you’re all right, miss.” The security guard looked concerned.

Emily softened her features as though she’d seen a dying relative and sniffed. “Yeah. Just gathering myself before I drive home.”

“Never wise to linger in the car park. Better safe than sorry.” He smiled.

He looked as though he couldn’t run down a thief even if the thief was carrying a box full of donuts and a coffee to wash them down.

Emily nodded and obediently started her car. When he didn’t move away, she pulled out of the bay. She needed to get home. It was late, but no doubt her mother would want a status update.

No change. Nothing to report.

The only excuse she could give for why the Albah was still alive was that he could lead them to more … and hopefully the Albanex.

She paid for her parking and headed out of the city. She’d go to Julian’s place and wait to see if he came home tonight at all. That twinge in her chest was not jealousy.

He didn’t have another lover.

He barely had time for her.

She knew the real reason Julian was still alive was because she did fancy him just the tiniest bit. And he saved people. Maybe he wasn’t like the other Albah.

But all Albah could become Albanex. Albanex were the vampires that humans thought existed only in myth. Albah were more like the elves or witches, harmless until they did the magic that would make them drink blood and live forever. The Guardians should’ve wiped them all out 200 years ago instead of calling for a truce; then she wouldn’t be in this position.

Doctor Julian Ryder, for all his good work, was still only one magic ritual away from becoming an undead monster.


Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination, she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult, she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. With over forty published stories, ranging from sensual to scorching, she writes contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance.



Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!





Monday, June 26, 2017

Seducing Mr. Sykes Book Tour and Giveaway for a Print Book and $5 Amazon Gift Card


SEDUCING MR. SYKES
By Maggie Robinson
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub Date: 6/20/17



In Maggie Robinson’s sparkling new series, the quaint village in Gloucestershire is where the wayward sons and daughters of Great Britain’s finest families come for some R&R -- and good old-fashioned “rehab.” But sometimes they find much more…

No one at Puddling-on-the-Wold ever expected to see Sarah Marchmain enter through its doors. But after the legendary Lady’s eleventh-hour rejection of the man she was slated to marry, she was sent here to restore her reputation ... and change her mind. It amused Sadie that her father, a duke, would use the last of his funds to lock her up in this fancy facility -- she couldn’t be happier to be away from her loathsome family and have some time to herself. The last thing she needs is more romantic distraction…

As a local baronet’s son, Tristan Sykes is all too familiar with the spoiled, socialite residents of
the Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation -- no matter how real their problems may be. But all that changes when he encounters Sadie, a brave and brazen beauty who wants nothing more than to escape the life that’s been prescribed for her. If only Tristan could find a way to convince the Puddling powers-that-be that Sadie is unfit for release, he’d have a chance to explore the intense attraction that simmers between them -- and prove himself fit to make her his bride…



An Excerpt from Seducing Mr. Sykes

Chapter 1

Puddling-on-the-Wold, September 1882

“It’s Lady Maribel all over again,” the grocer Frank Stanchfield muttered to his wife, checking the lock to his back room. “How the girl discovered the telegraph machine is a mystery.”

Except it wasn’t such a mystery, really. Lady Sarah Marchmain -- “Sadie” to her late mama and very few friends -- had eyes, after all, and there it was behind an open alley window, gleaming on a worn oak desk.

She had climbed in, her tartan trousers very convenient for hoisting oneself into the building. After being caught trying to send a message to who knows who, she was now unrepentantly inspecting the jars of candy on the shop counter.

She might try to steal some of it, if only the shopkeepers would stop hovering over her.

“Bite your tongue!” Mrs. Stanchfield whispered, looking over nervously at Sadie. Apparently no one wanted another Lady Maribel de Winter in Puddling. The first had been bad enough. Sadie had heard of her in snatches from the villagers, and the woman’s portrait hung in the parish hall. Her wicked reputation had outlived her, even if her decades of good works once she married had mitigated some of it. She had been a wild young thing who would have made Napoleon quake in his boots.

Or take her to bed. Lady Maribel had been, according to gossip, irresistible to men. Fortunately her husband, a local baronet called Sir Colin Sykes, had taken her in hand as best he could once they were married.

Sadie was determined never to be taken in hand.

Puddling was known as a famous reputation-restorer, a place to rusticate and recalibrate. Prominent British families had sent their difficult relatives here for almost eighty years. Lady Maribel was among the first to be gently incarcerated within its limits in 1807, according to the elderly vicar’s wife, who seemed to know everything about everyone dating back to William the Conqueror.

Now it was Sadie’s turn to be gently incarcerated, and she didn’t like it one bit.

The village had a spotless reputation. It was a last resort before a harsher hospital, or worse, killing one’s own offspring. Or parent. Lady Sarah Marchmain had angered her father so thoroughly that they’d come to blows. When the Duke of Islesford dropped her off, he had been sporting a significant black eye.

Well-deserved, in her opinion.

Sadie’s own eyes were unbruised and light green, the color of beryl, or so her numerous suitors had said. Occasionally they threw in jade or jasper -- it was all so much nonsense. Right now she was examining the penny candy in a glass jar, lots of shiny, jewel-like drops that looked so very tempting. Sweet, edible rubies and citrine, emeralds and onyx. Frank Stanchfield hustled over to the counter and screwed the lid on tighter.

She licked her lips. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a penny to her name.

She was entirely dependent on her housekeeper Mrs. Grace to dole out a pitiful allowance every Friday, and Friday was millions of days away. Sadie had spent the last of her money on a cinnamon bun earlier and had reveled in every bite.

Her father’s draconian restrictions were designed to sting. Or so he thought. Sadie didn’t really mind being impoverished and hungry in Puddling-on-the-Wold. It meant she was not about to be auctioned off to Lord Roderick Charlton, or any other idiot her idiot father owed money to. The Duke of Islesford’s taste in men and luck at cards was, to put it bluntly, execrable.

So far Sadie had overstayed her visit by one week. Originally consigned to her cottage for twenty-eight days, she had somehow not managed to be “cured” in that time.

Rehabilitated.

Restored.

Brought to reason.

Knuckle under was more like it. She was not getting married.

In fact, she’d like to stay in Puddling forever. It was very restful. Quiet.

The little lending library was surprisingly well stocked, and she’d gotten a lot of reading done between lectures from the prosy ancient vicar who instructed her daily. She also helped Mrs. Grace keep the cottage up to a ducal daughter’s snuff.

Despite the fact that Sadie had no interest in becoming a wife, she was remarkably domestic. It came of hanging about the kitchens of Marchmain Castle, she supposed. The servants had been her only friends when she was a little girl and she’d been eager to help them.

All that had changed after she was presented to the queen at seventeen, wearing those ridiculous hoops and feathers that threatened to put out someone’s eye. Suddenly, Sadie became a commodity, a bargaining chip to improve her father’s ailing finances. A surprising number of gentlemen -- if you could call them that, since most men were absolute, avaricious, thoughtless pigs -- were interested in acquiring a tall, redheaded, blueblooded, sharp-tongued and two-fisted duke’s daughter as wife. For the past four years, she’d avoided them with alacrity, aplomb, and those aforementioned fists.

Needless to say, her reputation was cemented in ruination.

It amused Sadie that her father was using the last of his funds to lock her away here in this very expensive Puddling prison, hoping that she would change her mind, acquiesce and marry the one man who remained steadfastly interested.

Not bloody likely.

She touched the glass jar with longing.

“What may we help you with, Lady Sarah?”

The poor grocer sounded scared to death. His wife hid behind him.

Sadie batted her lashes. Sometimes this feminine trick worked, although these Puddling people seemed remarkably impervious to charm.

They were hardened souls, harboring the odd, uncooperative, and unwanted scions of society for a hefty fee, believing that being cruel to be kind was the only way.

“Do forgive my transgression, Mr. Stanchfield. I so longed to communicate with my old governess, Miss Mackenzie. Miss Mac, as I so affectionately call her. I found a book on telegraphy in the library and wondered if I had any aptitude for it,” she lied. Science in all its forms confounded her. In truth, she’d read nothing but Gothic romances since her arrival, very much enjoying the fraying sixty-year-old books written by an anonymous baroness.

Moreover, Sadie’s old governess had been dead for six years and had been an absolute Tartar in life. There had been little affection on her part, Sadie thought ruefully. The woman was at this moment no doubt giving the devil a lesson on evil and grading him harshly.

“You know that’s forbidden, miss. No telegrams, no letters. Perhaps when you are r-r-released, you may visit with the lady. A r-reason for your good behavior, what?”

Goodness, she was causing the poor fellow to stutter. She stilled her lashes.

“Ah.” Sadie gave a dramatic sigh. “But I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. Being Puddling-perfect, that is. Every time I get close, something seems to happen.”

Like stealing Ham Ross’s wheelbarrow full of pumpkins. It had been very difficult to push her loot uphill, and so many of the bloody orange things chose to roll out and smash along the road.

Or turning up in church in her tartan trousers ... her stolen tartan trousers.

Some poor Puddlingite was foolish enough to hang them on a clothesline to tempt her. After some tailoring -- Sadie was handy with a needle -- they fit her slender waist and long legs as if they were made for her.

Her father had always wanted a son. Instead her horrible cousin George would be the next duke, and Sadie would lose the only home -- well, castle -- she’d ever known.

It wasn’t fair. She sighed again.

“Here, now, Lady Sarah. I don’t suppose I’ll miss a few boiled sweets.” Mr. Stanchfield relented and unscrewed the jar, his wife looking disapproving behind him. He filled a paper twist with not nearly enough, and passed them to her.

Sadie saw her opportunity for well-deserved drama. Any chance to appear happily unhinged must be seized with two hands, so she might stay here in Puddling just a little longer. Dropping to the floor on her tartan-covered knees, she howled.

She had been practicing howling at night once her housekeeper Mrs. Grace went home. Her neighbors were under the impression a stray dog was in heat in the village, perhaps even a pack of them.

“Oh! You are too good to me! I shall remember this always!”

She snuffled and snorted, slipping a red candy into her mouth. Red always tasted best.

“A polite thank you would do just as well.”

The voice was chilly. Sadie looked up from her self-inflicted chest pounding and the candy fell from her open mouth.

Good heavens. She had never seen this man before in all the walking she was made to do up and down the hills for her daily exercise. Where had he been hiding? He was beautiful.

No, not beautiful exactly. His haughty expression was too harsh for beauty. Compelling, perhaps. Arresting.

But, she reminded herself, he was a man, and therefore wanting.

Lacking. Probably annoying. Not probably -- certainly. Lady Sarah Jane Marchmain was twenty-one years old and had more than enough experience with men in her short lifetime to know the truth.

The man reached a gloveless hand to her to help her up, but it didn’t look quite clean. Something green was under his fingernails -- paint? Plant material? Sadie made a leap of faith and gripped it anyway, crunching her candy underfoot when he lifted her to her full height.

He was still taller than she was.

Not lacking there. Not lacking physically anywhere that she could see.

His hair was brown, curly and unruly, his eyebrows darker and formidable. His nose was strong and straight, his lips full, his face bronzed from the sun. His eyes -- oh, his eyes. Blue was an inadequate adjective.

Cerulean? Sapphire? Aquamarine? She’d have to consult a thesaurus.

But they weren’t kind.

She found herself curtseying, her hand still firmly in his.

“Thank you, sir, for coming to my rescue.” She fluttered her eyelashes again.

“You were in no danger on the floor. Mrs. Stanchfield sweeps it thrice a day. One could eat off it, it’s so immaculate.” He dropped Sadie’s hand and kicked the crushed candy aside.

The grocer’s wife pinked. “Thank you, Mr. Sykes.”

Sykes. That was the name of the family the infamous Lady Maribel married into. Interesting.

“I only speak the truth, madam.”

Sadie considered whether she should fall to the floor again. It would be fun to gauge this Mr. Sykes’s strength if she pretended to swoon. Would he pick her up and hold her to his manly chest? Whisper assurances in her ear? Smooth loose tendrils of hair behind her pins?

But perhaps he’d just leave her there to rot. He wasn’t even looking at her anymore.

Sadie was used to being looked at. For one thing, she was hard to miss.

At nearly six feet, she towered over most men. Her flaming hair was another beacon, her skin pearlescent, her ample bosom startling on such a slender frame.

She had been chased by men mercilessly, even after she had made it crystal clear she had no interest. These past years had tested her wits and firmed her resolve. She was mistress of her own heart, body, and mind, and determined to remain so.

Mr. Sykes probably knew that -- apparently everyone in Puddling had received a dossier on her. She’d come across a grease-stained one at the bakeshop under a tray of Bakewell tarts, and had tucked it into her pocket for quiet perusal, along with one delicious raspberry pastry. Theft was apparently in her blood.

It had been most informative. The dossier, not the tart. Sadie had been gleeful reading an account of her past recalcitrance. She rather admired the clever ways she’d gone about subverting her father’s plans for her -- she’d forgotten half of them.

It had meant, however, that she had to exercise creativity in Puddling and not repeat her previous pranks. No sheep in the dining room. No bladder filled with beet juice tossed out the window. No punching fiancés or fathers.

There was only the one father, but Sadie had endured several fiancés. The latest, Lord Roderick Charlton, was getting impatient. He’d given her father quite a lot of money to secure her hand. To be fair, he’d tried to woo Sadie with credible effort.

There wasn’t anything really wrong with Roderick, she supposed. But there wasn’t anything right about him either.

If Sadie could just resist the pressure to marry, she’d come into a substantial fortune when she turned twenty-five. She wouldn’t have to turn it over to some man, and her father wouldn’t be able to touch it. She could live her life just as she liked. She might even buy herself a small castle, if one could be found. One that wouldn’t fall down around her ears. One that had working fireplaces and no rats.

However -- and this was a huge however -- the Duke of Islesford was threatening to have her declared incompetent, seize her funds, and lock her away in a most unpleasant private hospital. Sadie did not think it was an idle threat, and to some, it might look as if she deserved to be there.

She was much too old now for the tricks she’d played, and four years was a very, very long time to stall. Sadie was beginning to realize she hadn’t done herself any favors with the pumpkins or the trousers or the howling.

But she couldn’t succumb -- she just couldn’t. No matter how many times Mr. Fitzmartin, the elderly vicar, reminded her of a proper woman’s place -- as helper to her husband, silent in church, subordinate, obedient -- she felt her fingers close into a fist.



Maggie Robinson didn’t know she wanted to write until she woke up in the middle of the night once really annoyed with her husband. Instead of smothering him with a pillow, she decided to get up and write -- to create the perfect man -- at least on a computer screen. Only to discover that fictional males can be just as resistant to direction as her husband. The upside is that she’s finally using her English degree and is still married to her original, imperfect hero. Since she’s imperfect, too, that makes them a perfect match. Until her midnight keyboarding, she had been a teacher, librarian, newspaper reporter, administrative assistant to two non-profits, community volunteer, and mother of four in seven different states. Now Maggie can call herself a romance writer in Maine. There’s nothing she likes better than writing about people who make mistakes, but don’t let the mistakes make them.




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Perfect Odds Book Tour and Giveaway for a $15 Amazon Gift Card, Print Book and eBook!



PERFECT ODDS
by LaShanta Charles
Genre: New Adult Romance

Callista Brenner refuses to let go of her past. She had her entire life figured out … except, maybe that was only in her mind. Being stood up for her own wedding should be a clue. Regardless, she’s determined to fix this. She just needs a plan and if there’s one thing she’s good at, it’s planning. Her accolades as one of Georgia’s top premiere event planners if proof of that. It doesn’t matter that she’s a whirlwind of clumsy chaos. All she has to do is stay away from the gorgeously irritating Jayce Gilmore and her wedding will be back on track. That’s exactly what she wants. Right? She loves her fiancé. She wants to marry him and start a family. He’s her everything. Or is he? 

Jayce Gilmore has somehow let himself be bamboozled. One minute he was enjoying his quiet existence in his home in the outskirts of Victory, NY and the next he was facing his best friend’s wife and promising to be the best man at their wedding, which he also agreed to host at his resort & casino, La Bonne Chance. The introvert in him is questioning his sanity. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his partner has decided he’s taking a three-month hiatus, leaving the business solely in Jayce’s hands. Just when he’s ready to curl into a ball and refuse to leave his room, a chance encounter at an airport has him realizing some things are worth venturing out of your comfort zone for. 

Neither of them could have guessed that Callista’s past would decide it wants to be her future and will stop at nothing to make that a reality. Could she accept that maybe her carefully laid plans weren’t as careful as she thought? Will Jayce be able to show her that he’s worth a chance and, together, their oddities can be perfect?

**99 cents on Amazon!!**


An Excerpt from Perfect Odds

Chapter 1
Cali

I nibble on my thumbnail as I watch the other travelers, clad in the makings of a summer vacation t-shirts and shorts, moving to and fro. Hot pink backpacks and black rolling cases bob and weave in a sea of commuters. Our flight is on the second call of now boarding all passengers and Cameron has yet to show up or answer my calls. Scanning the crowd, I search for his clean-cut, freshly shaved face, but come up empty. He’s still not here. A roiling ball of dread settles into the pit of my stomach. Something must have happened to him. It’s the only explanation I can think of that would lead to him not being here.

A toddler wobbles past me, blonde pigtails bouncing as plump legs struggling to support the carefree attempt to run, and stepping aside, I smile down at her as she chants “uh-oh.” How freaking cute is that? I bet she gets into all sorts of shenanigans. A woman, with identical blonde curls and green eyes, rushes after her and scoops her up before giggling ensues. She plants a smacking kiss on the child’s chubby cheeks before pointing and encouraging the child to say “da-da.” A smiling man with unnaturally white teeth approaches with his arms stretched out and the child squeals and squirms as she nearly jumps from the woman’s arms. You can’t witness such a scene and not smile. Two more years and that’ll be me with my own family—number three on my list of priorities. My phone vibrates, startling me out of staring at the trio. Relief envelops me like a warm blanket when I see the picture of Cameron on the screen.

“Where are you? They’re boarding everyone now. I’ll go ahead and let them know we’ll make it,” I answer, my phone cradled between my shoulder and ear.

“I’m not coming,” he says.

I pause in making my way to the attendant station. Surely, I heard him wrong.

“Hang on a sec, let me ask them how long we have before they can no longer wait. If you’re here already it shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll need to hurry. Like, sprint through the airport or maybe get one of those guys on the carts to give you a ride somehow.”

The attendant flashes a smile at me and holds her hand out for my boarding pass. Her two front teeth are chipped and it makes me think of the time Cameron chipped his tooth while playing basketball last year. He got it fixed immediately, so I wonder why she’s chosen to leave hers like that. I move to give her the passes, but hear Cameron speaking again.

“Cali, you’re not listening. I’m not there. I’m not coming either.”

Pulling my boarding pass away from the chipped tooth attendant, I force a smile and step away for privacy. “What are you talking about, Cameron? I’m here waiting for you.” As if he doesn’t know that. He helped me load our luggage into the car before I left this morning. Is this some sick joke he’s pulling right now?

“Didn’t you hear me, Cali? I said I’m not coming,” Cameron repeats, his voice harsh and grating.

I stare numbly at the ‘now boarding’ screen above the attendant. I heard him the first two times. It makes as much sense now as it did then -- none.

“I don’t understand. You can’t not come, we’re getting married. I can see if they’ll schedule us for a different flight. I’m sure it’s not too late. We’re getting there early enough one day won’t really matter,” I tell him.

He lets out an exasperated sigh. He’s annoyed? We’re four weeks away from our wedding and I’m at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, sans fiancé. I woke up at some ungodly hour, battled an hour and a half of bumper to bumper traffic to get here and get us both checked in two hours early, lugged all our suitcases -- overweight, I might add -- only for him to call when it’s time to board the flight to New York and tell me he’s not coming. Yet, he’s the one who’s annoyed?

“I don’t know what else to say, Cali. I’m trying to do right by you here. We both knew this wouldn’t end well. This was a mistake. A huge mistake and you’re only making it harder. I can’t do this right now. For once, let something go.”

I don’t even know how to respond to that. A mistake? What part of this is the mistake? One of the biggest occasions in my life -- number one on the list -- is a huge mistake for him? Try as I might, I can no longer speak. ‘We’ didn’t know this wouldn’t end in anything but a marriage. ‘Do right by me?’ How is standing me up for our wedding doing right by me? I didn’t ask to marry myself. I didn’t insist on us having a short engagement or me moving in with him.

I watch as the attendant lifts a phone to her mouth and smiles. A few seconds later I hear her disembodied voice over the PA system.

“This serves as a final boarding call for Delta Flight 1762 with service to Buffalo New York. All ticketed and confirmed passengers should report to Gate C23 for immediate departure."

“Look, I can hear them in the background. You shouldn’t be at the airport alone. Go back to your parents’ place and we’ll talk more about this later. I have to get back to work,” Cameron says.

My parents’ place? He’s kicking me out? And why is he at work? We’re supposed to be leaving. Like, right now! I open my mouth to speak, not entirely sure what I’ll say, but I’m cut off by someone roughly bumping my shoulder. Silently, I watch as my phone crashes to the ground and bounces once before landing, screen up. It didn’t shatter, but the screen is dark. Cameron probably thinks I hung up on him. It’s much less than he deserves at this point.

“Sorry, didn’t see you there.”

Story of my freaking life. Destined to fade into the background where no one sees me. Number two on the list -- stand out more. This guy’s apology definitely didn’t sound sincere. I look up to see a startling shade of blue staring down at me. Cold. I don’t like it. Blue is my favorite color, but I like warm blues. Blues that make you think of a tropical oasis. Definitely not blue like this stranger’s eyes. This shade of blue makes me anxious and ... sad? Scared? Why the hell am I thinking about shades of blue when my life has just ended? Stupid stranger not looking where he’s going. He’s a jerk, like all men in the universe.

“I’ll get it,” he declares, grabbing my phone from the floor.

Before I can tell him to leave me alone, I hear the attendant speaking again.

“Ms. Brenner?” she pauses and looks expectantly at the bearded man standing next to me.

“Gilmore,” he supplies as he takes a step away from her.

We both turn to give her our attention, although I really don’t want to. I want to stand here and wallow in my misery. I want to reach out and pull this guy’s thick beard, cause him a little pain so I don’t suffer alone. What the hell does Cameron mean by ‘I can’t do this right now’? Was I just ... dumped? Is Cameron breaking up with me or does he just not want to marry me? Is there really a difference at this point in our relationship? Can we really stay together if he basically rescinds his proposal?

I’m a cliché of epic proportions. I want the fairytale wedding with a princess gown and a horse-drawn carriage. I want a wedding that will resemble a forest at dusk with stars twinkling in the sky and a sensual melody playing in the background. I stop my train of thoughts when the attendant speaks again.

“We need you to board now if this is your flight. We really need to close the gate now.”

“Our apologies for being late,” Mr. Gilmore grumbles before turning to me and gesturing toward the gate. “After you.”

I’m slightly pleased his apology to her seemed even less sincere. There was also much more annoyance in his voice. I think. Plus, I wasn’t even late. I was very much so on time. I was where I was supposed to be and checked in like I should have. Just ... not with whom I’m supposed to be with. Tears well in my eyes fall quicker than I can blink them away. The attendant clears her throat nervously and a horrified look crosses Mr. Gilmore’s face.

“Ma’am, we really need to close the gate now,” chipped tooth says.

I’m not only crying, but I’ve given them no response this entire time and I’m holding up the flight. Cameron and I were supposed to be going on this trip to New York as a vacation -- and pseudo-honeymoon since it came before the ceremony, and end it with our wedding. Except now, he’s not here and he’s not coming.

“Allergies,” I lie with a forced smile. I hand over my boarding pass and soon enough, I’m on my way to La Bonne Chance Casino Resort, solo.



Part of the All In for Love Box Set!
Six bestselling and award-winning authors bring you six Sweet to Sensual stories. [Savings of more than 75% if books are purchased separately.] 

Welcome to La Bonne Chance Resort & Casino! 

With thousands of people passing through the casino’s doors on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that a variety of lives and loves are on the line there. It’s said that you’re more likely to lose your heart than a hand of poker at La Bonne Chance. Whether you are the Director of Casino Operations or the guy who created its software, a jilted bride or a black jack dealer, a past guest’s ghost or a sous chef -- when it comes to love, the stakes are high. 

Thank goodness what happens at La Bonne Chance, doesn’t always stay at La Bonne Chance... Ready to roll the dice?


All In for Love

PERFECT ODDS by LaShanta Charles
Heartbroken and alone, event planner Callista Brenner believes the only thing she needs in her life is a plan to get her back on track. And to stay away from the devastatingly handsome, Jayce Gilmore, who promises to be exactly what she needs. When her “plan” backfires and threatens her very existence, what will she do to secure her future?
A GHOST TO DIE FOR by Keta Diablo
Unlike Violet, her psychic sister, Rooney Fontaine doesn't believe in ghosts. Until one shows up in her hotel room begging for help. Headlines in the local newspaper said the man jumped from his seventh-story balcony, but Rooney's truth compass is screaming something far more sinister.

RAISING KANE by Kat Henry Doran
She's Raisin' Kane, committed to reporting the truth. He's Kieran Pollack, master at spinning the facts in favor of the criminal-justice system and those who serve it. Truth or fiction: both could bring them to their knees.

AN INN DECENT PROPOSAL by Sharon Buchbiner
Jim Rawlings takes the biggest chance of his life -- bidding at auction for a once-grand inn. Genie King attends the hotel auction, never expecting another LBC employee to bid at the sale -- much less the guy she had a major crush on in high school. Working together means Jim must share long-hidden secrets. Will Genie reject the man with a past? Or will she love the man he's become?

FOR MONEY OR LOVE by Margo Hoornstra
He’s a mega-millionaire who covets wealth
She’s a computer genius who covets life
Their money or a life together, which will they choose?

TAKE A CHANCE ON ME by M.J. Schiller
She’s a dealer on a losing streak with love.
He’s a cop who will go all in to save her from the mob.
Can she take a chance on him when this could be her final wager?

**99 cents on Amazon!!**

LaShanta Charles was born and raised in the small town of Orangeburg, SC. She has always been an avid reader of all genres, but romance has always been her true love and is what inspired her to pursue a writing career. In high school, she began letting her classmates read the short stories that she would write and based off of their feedback, her passion for writing pushed her to become a published author. She published her debut novel, Lovely Lies, in 2013 and released the sequel, Lovely Lies 2, in February 2014. Her third novel, Splitting Karma, was released in October 2014. She lives in Yelm, WA, with her husband and three children and also serves in the US Army. She's a home body who enjoys SLEEPING, reading, SLEEPING, eating, SLEEPING, white chocolate mochas, SLEEPING, sexy alien romances, and of course, writing. Oh, and she hates spiders; they're extremely creepy, and why do they need eight legs?


Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!